Sweet Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day.

The past couple of years, Leah has asked for doughnuts for her Mother’s Day treat.

This morning, we headed toward one of the Buffalo, N.Y., suburbs near us for a doughnut shop with a good online reputation. As I angled into the parking lot, commenting on the number of cars, Leah said, “There’s a line out the door. I don’t need a doughnut from here that badly.”

On her recommendation, I redirected to the nearest Tops Friendly Market, our go-to grocery store while we’re working in upstate New York. There, I parked on the edge of the lot, we purchased our favorite doughnuts, retreated to the pickup, sat there and enjoyed our goodies.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Meanwhile, my thoughts turned to … not Mother’s Day … but doughnuts.

When I was growing up, doughnuts were a big-time treat for our family. To begin with, there were not doughnut shops every half-mile as it often seems to be today. There were likely others at the time, but the only shop we ever patronized, the only one I knew of, was Jamie’s Doughnuts on East Methvin Street near downtown Longview, Texas.

It wasn’t just a run to the nearest convenience store. From where we lived near East Mountain, it was at least a 20-minute drive, so it was a big deal. And that’s where my memories kick in.

One of us kids would be allowed to ride along to pick up the doughnuts. It was always a Sunday morning, as I recall. Upon arriving, we’d enter the small reception area in front of the display cases. I do not remember there being inside eating areas, but maybe that’s because we never did so. There was, however, almost always a line, though never too long to wait for the treat.

Speaking of treat, one reason for wanting to ride shotgun on the run was the proprietors always offered a free doughnut hole for kids. “Thank you, ma’am.”

Two other memories were signs on the wall near the register:

“In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash” and something like,

“We Gladly Extend Credit to Any Customers at Least 90 Years Old … When Accompanied by Their Parents.”

As a youngster, I thought those were hilarious.

The order was placed and the 45-minute drive home commenced. It was borderline torture to have to watch a box of freshly made doughnuts during a 2-hour drive home. Therefore, the attending kid, his appetite already whetted by a free doughnut hole, was allowed to eat one whole doughnut while carefully guarding the rest.

That made it worth getting up early on a Sunday morning.

First memories

Photo by Steve Martaindale

I’ve changed homes – and often hometowns – just enough to have developed that as a crutch for helping remember when certain events occurred.

For instance, Leah might ask when it was that we first met Scott and LuAnn. “Well,” I’d say, stroking my chin in a pensive manner, “it wasn’t too long after we moved to Port Aransas in summer 2000. So, I’d say sometime between then and 2001.”

Growing up, my memories are split between three Texas homes – Forest Park Drive in the Greggton area of Longview, Viewcrest Drive in the same area, and a country home on FM 1845 about a mile and a half south of East Mountain.

My first home was where I was born in New Mexico, followed by at least one other place in Longview that I do not remember. So, my earliest memories are from the one-block-long, dead-end street called Forest Park Drive, a name that lends itself to much grander images than what was reality in those days. We moved from here the June after I finished first grade.

The two-bedroom, one-bath house wasn’t the nicest on the block. The neighborhood lacked appeal so severely that one time my mother found at the entry to the street a bag full of laundry soap samples that someone was paid to distribute house-to-house but decided to just drop the bag and move along.

It was also a petri dish highly conducive to forming childhood memories.

Our house was less than a hundred yards from the wooded dead end and only another hundred yards from the small Harris Creek. Today, Child Protective Services would probably be called in due to the amount of freedom my brother and I were allowed in those woods and the creek.

My favorite memory there is floating small blocks of lumber down the creek. My dad had a tiny workbench where we were allowed to pound nails into scrap two-by-fours. Ultimately, we’d nail a small block to a larger one to represent a boat. Nails left sticking out were gun barrels for a massive battleship. We eventually took our masterpiece to the creek and watched it turn upside down from being too top-heavy.

Any time we were running around outside – and we spent very little time inside when the weather was nice – we wore nothing but underwear and a pair of white short pants. No shoes, no shirts, no cares.

One day, Ward and I were playing soldiers. Down the street a way, in an open area near the fence surrounding some storage yard, was a large pile of dirt, probably left from some project. We crawled up the mound and peered over the top at some imaginary combatants, firing off round after round of unlimited ammo. Whether we utilized toy gun or sticks, I do not recall.

The weather was nice enough, but we spotted a dark cloud to the west. Out of the bottom slowly dropped a funnel. We ran to the house and called our mother outside.

“Look, a tornado!”

“No, it’s not,” she said. “Get inside.”

Our dad happened to be out on a rare day fishing. Mother promptly gathered us up and went down the street to a friend’s house. That located us only nearer the tornado, which roughly moved down Highway 80, causing little damage other than to television antennae. The place where we sought refuge suffered a broken tree limb in the back yard.

There was the time a neighbor’s German shepherd jumped the fence to do battle with the lovable mutt of a dog we called Pete. Our affable four-legged partner tore into the intruder to protect us boys. Mother came running out the back door wielding a broom and chased the bad dog back across the fence. I don’t recall him living there very long.

Once, a small grass fire started in the field behind us. I swear, I had nothing to do with this one. Our dad was one of two full-time firefighters at the Greggton station. This was before Longview incorporated the community and started providing services.

Driving the truck dedicated to fighting grass fires, Daddy pulled up in front of our house en route to the fire and asked Ward and me if we wanted to ride along. (Yet another example of how things have changed.) Ward hopped on. As for me, this might be my earliest memory of allowing my hesitance to create disappointment. I stayed home and watched the action from the back yard.

Let’s see. There’s also the big Christmas snow. The time I almost shot out my eye by trying to start the pushbutton washing machine with a BB rifle. Having an older neighbor boy squeal to my mother I was changing seats on the school bus while it was moving, something he did with regularity. The time my brother’s pajama bottoms caught fire while he was standing next to the gas heater. (To be honest, this is one of several memories through the years that I cannot clearly recall as happening to Ward or to me.)

There was the time we got caught throwing rocks on the roof of the abandoned and falling apart house next door. Oh, yeah, it seemed that our aim was terrible, and we “accidently” broke a couple of windows that were already broken. This cost us the penalty of being grounded for a period of time and losing our 25-cents-a-week allowance.

Other memories remain … thank goodness … but this has gone on longer than I intended already.

I pray my recollections help guide you to memories of your own. And we’d all love it if you shared one or more in the comment section below.

The Peanut Man

I cannot say I really knew Hubert Gregg. However, it seemed almost everyone in Longview, Texas, recognized the Peanut Man.

He first came into my sphere when I was playing Little League baseball during grades 3-6 in the Greggton area of Longview. With some regularity, Mr. Gregg would travel to this outer edge of town to hawk his famous roasted peanuts.

Now, it didn’t occur to me at the time to wonder how a blind man traveled like he did, and I still don’t know the answer today.

Yet, there he was, with some regularity, as I said, working the crowd. He always wore blacked out glasses and was led by a guide dog. As I recall, he wore a white apron with his name embroidered on it, I believe in red thread.

He pulled a red wagon filled with bags of peanuts. When he accepted money, he would finger the coins to determine the denomination. If someone gave him paper money more than one dollar, he might ask someone else to verify it. For elementary-aged boys, there was a lot to take in.

Time passed and, several years later, I was working the evening shift as a sportswriter for the Longview Daily News and Morning Journal. On occasion, Mr. Gregg came walking through the newsroom, following his dog, looking to unload a few more bags of peanuts before calling it a night. At the time, he would have been about 75 years old and did not seem to have lost a step.

Again, I did not know him, but I did admire him. And I believe most people did appreciate and respect him.

A tribute to this local legend written by the late Van Craddock, an East Texas institution in his own right, can be found here.

A look at the memorial plaque Van mentions can be found here.


When Leah and I were visiting in Spain this winter, our host made some comment about how elderly people in the area were generally treated with respect. I came to recognize that, such as offering a seat or yielding at a doorway.

You still see it here, too, but not to the degree I remember … but, then again, that memory is nowadays being called into question, so …

Take the story of Hubert Gregg to heart. Find a way to brighten the day and/or lessen the load for one of our aging neighbors. The easiest path to doing that is to get to know them, to ask questions, to listen to their stories.

And buy their peanuts.

Happiest tees

Photo by Steve Martaindale

After spending more than three weeks this winter mooching living space from overly gracious cousins in Valencia, Spain, Leah and I relocated to Mallorca, a Mediterranean island a short distance away, for our final week in Europe.

As is often our style, we landed there with no real plans other than to see what we could see, but even that laidback itinerary eased as soon as we arrived. We found ourselves simply wanting to chill a bit. And then, while walking around the resort, we saw the sign pictured above. Now, even two months later, we try to remember to play our happiest tees.

Uh … what?

OK, a quick explainer for those who do not understand the sign.

On a golf course, each hole ends at the same spot, the green, where the destination cup resides. The golfer’s objective is to put the ball in the hole. But you knew that.

What might be unfamiliar to some people is that each hole has multiple starting points – or tees. It’s common to have at least three, usually labeled “women,” “men” and “pro.” They get progressively longer and, in some cases, more challenging.

Finally, there can easily be some pressure applied, or at least imagined, to play the longer tees, to take on a bigger challenge. Someone who accepts that pressure and sees a worse score because of it might not be having as much fun.

And this golf course, much to its credit, is encouraging its guests to have a good time and not worry so much about the score.

Don’t get teed off

One last comment.

It was the second or third time we walked by the sign that Leah pointed out it was only in English. Because this island receives planeloads of German travelers every day, most signs are in Spanish, English and German, but definitely in Spanish.

So, why is this only in English? Spend some time in Spain and it might appear obvious. Residents here lead a much slower life. Many businesses really do close during the afternoon for a couple of hours. People spend time enjoying their meals and their fellow diners. It’s not perfect, but the concept of playing the happiest tees seems to be par for the course.

Oil by the case

There are car people – those who talk of cubic centimeters, cams, suspensions, torque, etc., and who can recite all the variables for different cars, and who can recognize a particular make and model simply from the taillights at night – and then there are people like me.

I love driving and have done so in every state and on four continents. My greatest escapes generally involve getting behind a wheel and pointing my vehicle down a road, often with little notice, sometimes without a firm destination in mind.

However, I develop little relationship with the vehicle itself.

Little … but not none.

Take for instance my first car, a 1964 Dodge Dart.

Allow me to interject here an explanation. From my mid-junior high school years until after high school, both my brother and I only worked at our father’s grocery store. We were never paid for hours worked, were not on a set “allowance,” but our needs and wants were taken care of. Daddy provided us with a car (one to share, of course) and even running around money. He was always a first-class horse trader, swapping everything from antiques to cars and even, yes, horses, so we never knew what we might be driving.

This article on hotcars.com says, “The 1964 Dodge Dart GT is a nearly perfect American classic compact with gorgeous looks and enticing driving dynamics.”

That being said, I doubt I was driving a GT model. More likely, it was the entry-level Dart 170. No, the thing that most stands out in my memory wasn’t “enticing driving dynamics” but was the push-button transmission.

On the left side of the steering wheel, on the dash, was a single row of round buttons. From the top down, they were labeled R for reverse, N for neutral, D for drive, 2 for second gear, 1 for first gear. What’s missing? Park, of course.

For park, you pushed in the neutral button and slid the neighboring knob down about three inches to lock it into place. Slide it up when you’re ready to drive again.

I’m not here to say whether the push-button transmission was good or bad … but it was distinctive. I’ve become aware that quite a few cars had them back in the day, but this is the only one I’ve driven.

My other memories about the Dart involved motor oil, which we bought by the case because the car burned through it so rapidly.

Also, it must have been missing a baffle in the oil pan because every time I braked, the large, bright red oil warning light would illuminate.

“Nearly perfect?” I’m not one to say. However, it made a perfect starter car for me more than 52 years ago.

Life in a box

I have seen incredibly few concerts and shows through the years.

The first was in probably the eighth or ninth grade, a group billed as Dawn played all the hits of Tony Orlando and Dawn in an empty building at the Gregg County Fairgrounds. I don’t know if they were actually related to the real group. In college, I saw Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in G. Rollie White Coliseum and, yes, they played “Mr. Bojangles.” Only the latter performance was to a crowd. There weren’t many others except for The Crickets, the surviving members of Buddy Holly’s band, which also performed before a sparse gathering.

Notable exceptions have been theatrical performances by college and community groups.

And … in the spring of 1976 at Texas A&M University … I saw Marcel Marceau exhibit his genre-defining mime performances, what he called “the art of silence.”

It was perhaps the most dominating showcase of an art form one could see. OK, I’m really not qualified to make such an evaluation, but he moved me to that degree … 47 years ago.

Yesterday, March 22, would have been Marceau’s 100th birthday. He died in September 2007 at 84 years old, after more than 60 years of performing around the globe. (Think, he never had to worry about language barriers!)

But I’ve learned his stake in history runs deeper than entertainment.

As a young Jewish man, he lived in hiding and worked with the French Resistance during much of World War II. As a member of the Jewish Resistance in France, he helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust. In 1944, his father was captured by the Germans and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed. Marcel Marceau and his older brother, Alain, helped rescue numerous children during the war, according to this Wikipedia article. Finally, after joining the French army and being fluent in French, English and German, he worked as a liaison officer with U.S. Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.

Yeah, like most people, his background included more than the casual observer could discern.

The raw emotions he loudly illustrated in silence were likely familiar topics for him, but he used them to create beautiful messages for the rest of us.

Happy birthday, Monsieur Marceau.

Out cold

Photo by Steve Martaindale

I’ve participated in sports from Little League through high school football and a round of intramural wrestling in college and softball into my late 50s. I crashed my bicycle a few times, tumbled down a mountain in western Texas, was threatened to have my head bashed in by a mugger, and so on.

There have been a couple of broken bones, numerous stitches, and countless bruises and pulled muscles.

But the only time I’ve been knocked unconscious, it was while playing on my knees with my baby sister.

I was in the fourth grade, so I’m guessing Brenda was 2. The house we lived in at the time was new, built by my mother’s uncle with the assistance of my father. It was the only house we ever lived in with a concrete foundation.

It was roomier than we actually needed, I guess, because I cannot recall them ever putting any real furniture in the front living room, so we often used it for play. I particularly remember bouncing all over the room while batting multiple balloons into the air.

The time I was knocked out, however, there was no wild activity going on. Brenda was sitting, as I picture it, and I was kneeling. We were rolling a ball back and forth. And I’m pretty sure I remember losing my balance while reaching for the ball and falling forward.

This is where the foundation is important. The living room had a not-too-thick carpet installed over the concrete floor … no real cushion.

The next thing I was aware of was waking up on the sofa in the den with all kinds of hubbub occurring above me. I later heard the rest of the story.

Page 2

We kids were home alone at the time, which wasn’t a big deal. My brother, Ward, and I were about 9 and 10 and were quite responsible, including taking care of Brenda. Plus, this was in the day people knew their neighbors, including the Pace family to our right and the Smiths to our left, the latter also being an adult cousin of ours, Yvonne.

Somehow, Ward found me knocked out on the living room floor. I’m not sure if Brenda alerted him in some way. He ran next door to get Yvonne. As they turned into the carport, I was walking out the door and started falling again. The story I got was she caught me just before my head met the concrete again.

My parents had only gone down the road to Mr. Norman’s 7-Eleven store, a place my dad sometimes worked when he wasn’t at the fire station. The store’s five-digit number was, for that reason, posted above the phone.

Yvonne first called the fire department. For the younger readers tuned in, we didn’t have emergency medical services anything like what you see now. The only ambulance in our city – and this wasn’t uncommon – was operated by the local funeral home. No, you wouldn’t be the first to recognize the potential for a conflict of interest.

Her next call was to the grocery store, only two blocks from the fire station. By the time my parents got to the car, the fire truck was passing by; they followed it the half mile to our home. The part of the story my dad always like to tell was that Mother was still clenching the Coca-Cola bottle from the store. However, when she hopped out of the car, she flung it and almost hit one of the firefighters. (I’ll remind you, my dad worked in that fire house, so these were all buddies of his.)

So, that was the hubbub that greeted me once I came to. Instead of playing with my baby sister on the floor, I was looking up at my parents, a couple of firefighters, my cousin and my siblings. And who knows how many neighbors were by then gathering outside to see what was going on.

“Nothing to see here, folks, just a kid playing ball with his baby sister.”


Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Steve Martaindale

In the fall of 2011, I acquired a designation nobody really wants … until they become eligible for it and then greatly desire it: cancer survivor.

To be honest, I long hesitated claiming the label because my bladder cancer was caught early, was completely removed, and we’re able to easily monitor it in order to catch any recurrences.

My approach shifted somewhat during a cruise in the spring of 2018. Holland America Line features a fund-raising 5k walk around the promenade deck on each cruise. Monies raised are passed to five cancer organizations in five different countries.

Joining Leah and me were our cruising buddies, Deb and Steve. I was, at this time, more than six years cancer-free, but Deb had only recently won her first battle with breast cancer. The four of us found a crowd of participants waiting for the walk to begin, but those running things called for all cancer survivors to come forward.

It was incredibly moving to be cheered by everyone, made even more powerful because the number of survivors was not nearly as large as I expected.

Our little group was then asked to lead off the walk. Leah and Steve never caught up with Deb and I as we circled the deck some 10 times. We talked about many things, I’m sure, but we especially shared memories and experiences about our respective cancer ordeals.

Bottom line, I came out of that morning stroll in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean feeling permission to refer to myself as a cancer survivor.

On cancer watch

First of all, allow me to refer you to a compilation of my experiences. I wrote about what happened in some detail and it’s still available online by clicking here. My purpose was and remains to, first, spread the word that spotting urine in one’s blood is a call to check it out, not just hope it goes away. Second, I hope to make it easier for someone dealing with bladder cancer by explaining what I went through.

I don’t think any cancer survivor feels much confidence they have totally and decidedly defeated the disease. It was made clear to me even before the first surgery that there is a good chance the cancer will return. To combat that possibility, I’ve been going in regularly – annually for the past several years – for a cystoscopy, where a camera is inserted into my bladder through the urethra and the fleshy walls are examined for anything suspicious.

My original urologist retired some years ago. My new doctor added a biennial MRI (or CT scan … why can I not keep those straight?)

Last September, the scan was clear, and we began the visual inspection primed to declare me “11 years cancer-free.”

But there was something a little different. A small area of the bladder wall had a red discoloration, much akin to a rash in my interpretation. The urologist said she was confident it was nothing serious but wanted to get a biopsy to make sure. After all, that’s why we do these every year.

I was about to begin a 10-week job near Houston, so we put it off. Holidays and then our trip to Spain pushed it back some more until March 8.

Of course, while she was taking a sample for the biopsy, she went ahead and removed the suspected area.

Looking good?

The biggest difference between this and my first two surgeries was my first doctor had me wear a catheter for three full days, but now she wanted me to put up with it for a solid week. Wednesday morning, a nurse removed the catheter and I’ve been steadily improving ever since.

It’s now my doctor’s turn to take a vacation and she wasn’t there this week (no surprise, as she told me in advance), so I still have not received her official word on the outcome of the tests.


The hospital with which she is associated has an online patient portal. There, sure enough, I found a 14-word synopsis from the radiologist that began with “Minute benign …” and ended with, “Negative for dysplasia or malignancy.” Not confident enough in my interpretation, I ran it by my pharmacist son-in-law for his opinion, which came back, “That looks to me like you are clear!”

So, now, I am guardedly proclaiming myself 11 and a half years cancer-free.


On our most recent cruise a year ago, I joined the deck walk again. They called cancer survivors to an open area before things began in order to grab a photo.

I had gotten down on one knee in the front and then assisted an older man, wearing a Vietnam veteran cap, as he lowered himself down next to me.

“Mine was prostate cancer,” he said. “What about you?”

I will never again hesitate to happily don the mantle “cancer free.”

Valuable memories

Even those who think we’re making headway addressing our racism problem must admit that it’s much too slow. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Recent events brought to mind a memory that otherwise likely would not have made it into my memoirs collection.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, I had lunch with Scott Adams, creator of the hugely successful comic strip “Dilbert,” which was ripe with office satire and over-the-top parodies of workplace life. He was a rock star in the business.

Don’t be misled by the comment he and I lunched together. It was at a gathering of newspaper editors and he was a speaker. He also got a free lunch out of it and happened to sit at the table with me and several others.

That’s it. That’s my memory. Seriously, I don’t remember anything that was said. I don’t even recall if he was witty and funny in person.

Yes, the only reason that meal floats to the top of my brain today is because Scott Adams’ career has sunk to the bottom of the pit this past several days. After he made racist comments in which he encouraged white people to “just get the hell away” from black people, whom he labeled “a hate group,” he quickly found newspaper after newspaper dropping his strip, followed by the company that distributed it.

And that, my friend, brings back other memories, all of which I recall better than I do a chicken lunch 25 years ago.


1. As a boy, probably in the early 1960s, I accompanied my mother to the laundry. On the plate glass window was painted, “NO MAIDS.” That seemed strange. Wouldn’t maids have a particular need to do laundry? When I asked my mother, she explained that meant they did not want black people in the business. To be honest, she probably used the term “colored people,” which at that time and place was deemed by whites to be the best to use in public.

2. The burger joint we sometimes visited had two walk-up windows in the front of the building. Patrons parked their cars in front, placed their order at one of the windows and received it there, usually returning to their cars to eat or driving off. However, I noticed another window on the side of the building. That, my father told me, was for black customers.

3. Later that decade, schools in our area of northeast Texas were finally being integrated. My school – Pine Tree ISD in western Longview – merged black and white students the year of 1966-67. At nearby Longview ISD, however, desegregation was deeply opposed and things came to a head after a federal judge laid down the law. On the night of July 4, 1970, two men got into the school district’s maintenance yard and placed 24 nitroglycerine explosives under the buses, damaging 33 buses in all. I also remember being ridiculed on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” on national television.

4. A couple of years later, I was attending a playoff football game. Sitting in the bleachers, I heard a guy yell out, “Hey, get your (N-word omitted) off our colored boy,” to laughter from fellow fans.

You get the idea.

No recollection

One thing I do not remember – most certainly because I was never told – was learning that my hometown was the site of race riots in 1919.

The root of the riots, according to this article on blackpast.org, was a familiar one. Whites were upset that blacks were establishing their own businesses. As tensions rose, two white men beat a black man after alleging he made advances to their sister.

The black man, Lemuel Walters, was arrested and jailed. A white mob demanded the prisoner, who was handed over to them, shot and killed.

The story eventually reached national newspapers, which angered whites in Longview who blamed a black newspaper correspondent. Things escalated with more beatings, gunfire, burning of homes and buildings, and death. Texas Rangers were sent in, followed by martial law and soldiers.

Similarly …

In a cbs29.tv article noting the 50th anniversary of the school bus bombing less than three years ago, Longview ISD superintendent James E. Wilcox acknowledged there was nothing in any of the schools’ curriculum teaching students about the bombing.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana

The superintendent did say he was committed to changing that, so it may be different now.

But one could be excused for being skeptical about change. Remember that judicial order in 1970? It wasn’t until 2018 – 48 years later – that the school was released as having finally fulfilled that order.


Of course, one must understand and accept there is a problem before it can be addressed.

A couple of years ago, I got a call from an old friend. She asked where we were working that summer. When I told her we were in New York, she asked, “Aren’t you scared?” Of what? “Aren’t you afraid of antifa?”

“Since ‘antifa’ stands for anti-fascism,” I replied, “then I guess you must count me among them.”

She had accepted without research the fear-peddling of too many conservatives. As I explained there was no real organization and certainly no danger, our conversation moved a bit through history.

She listened, but she could not seem to accept it.

“So, do you think we were racist?” she asked.

I understand her confusion. Those of us living a privileged life can find it extremely difficult to see the challenges others face that we don’t.

Shortly after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, I posted an article here quoting my pastor, David Wilman, exhorting us to recognize that “America has a racism problem.”

Said he: “… this nation is suffering because of a racism problem. And it’s the kind of insidious racism that has pushed people down for generations, pushing people down so hard that they are seen as ‘less than.’ They are treated as less than. People don’t have access to health care, they don’t have access to opportunity, they don’t even have access to equal pay or any kind of equal treatment. Things need to change, and it needs to start now.”

Summary and action

The words of a cartoonist whose work had already “jumped the shark” (“Rapid demise of ‘Dilbert’ is no surprise to those watching,” by David Bauder, the Associated Press) serve up yet another reminder that racism is indeed a continuing problem in this country.

However, the response that clipped his voice of hatred is encouraging, a small light of hope.

To be sure, more and more people are becoming aware and are taking a stand, but it is painfully slow. Consider revisiting another post from 2020, the story of a white man from Australia who stood up for equal rights during the 1968 Olympics, fully realizing doing so would likely end his athletic career.

In a world of haters, be a Peter Norman.

Boring, boring baseball

It’s time for pitchers and catchers to report, which must be why I thought of a catcher’s mitt when I spotted this tree in Cuenca, Spain, the other day. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Baseball season is upon us again.

Yawwwn … am I right?

As a young sportswriter, that was my initial response. In fact, at my first newspaper, we really didn’t cover too many baseball games. It was the result of a small staff covering dozens of schools and with several spring sports in action.

Then I was hired as sports editor (read: entire sports staff) for a small daily newspaper in Brenham, Texas. I was taking the place of Carlos Deere, who had held the position for 14 (or was it 17) years.

This is part of a series of memories, as explained here.

While he was showing me around, Carlos asked if I liked baseball.

“I like playing, but I don’t really enjoy watching it,” I said.

“That will change if you work here,” he predicted.

The thing was that Brenham was a huge baseball town. They expected their high school Cubs to be competitive. The town closely followed the Little League all-star teams that aimed to reach the World Series, as a team did just a few years prior. There was also Blinn College, which fielded strong teams. Finally, the men’s slow pitch and fast pitch softball leagues were important to the town.

Carlos was right. My opinion changed.

Key to the conversion was keeping a detailed scorebook. I developed my own little habits and notations such that I could go back and pretty much rebuild an entire game, pitch by pitch.

In order to do that, I had to pay attention the entire time, even between pitches. Eventually, one figures out something is always going on in a baseball game, even if it’s just scheming and posturing. In other words, it’s far from boring.

I never became a master of baseball and I’ve certainly not memorized the endless statistics that give the sport life, but I greatly enjoy watching it now, even 45 years later.

A life

Santiago de Compostela street. Photo by Steve Martaindale

We’re approaching the final week of our one-month visit to Spain. We arrived with no more of an agenda than to simply explore what we could, greatly relying on serendipity to provide. While those explorations have been principally in our host’s hometown of Valencia, we’ve made a few trips out, including an overnight visit to Santiago de Compostela.

But I’m not doing a travel guide piece.

I mention Santiago to introduce the 2010 film “The Way,” starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez.

But neither am I doing a movie review.

Instead, let’s look at two lines from early in the movie.

Sheen’s character, Tom, learns his son died in an accident in France. Tom has not been happy with his son because he dropped out of school to personally experience life around the planet. Speaking to his assistant while leaving for France to claim his son’s remains, Tom says with some resignation, “He wanted to see the world.”

In the most comforting manner possible, she replies, “And he did.”

Dreams are like that

The weight of that exchange didn’t really hit me the first few times I saw the movie, but it’s truly an encapsulation of Tom’s transformation over the weeks he spent walking the Camino de Santiago – a centuries-old pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. (Now the beginning makes sense, right?)

Do you identify with those lines?

“He wanted to see the world.”

“And he did.”

Tom did not understand what his son really wanted, so he thought Daniel had failed. In truth, his son had been fulfilling his dreams all the while his father was disapproving. He was seeing, experiencing, influencing the world.

When Leah and I sold our house almost 11 years ago, bought an RV and set about following our dreams, there were many people who did not understand, some who even, indeed, disapproved. I think a large percentage of those might better appreciate why we’re still living this life that may seem strange to them. If not, we’re OK with it; we don’t expect or need everyone to accept it.

Let’s close with another exchange from the movie that helps explain our decision. Tom has just spent his first night in a hostel, known on the trail as an alberque. After the woman stamped his Camino passport, he asked, “Have you ever walked the Camino, señora?”

“Never,” she replied. “When I was young, I was too busy. And now that I’m older, I’m too tired.”


These days, I’m more likely to participate in a walk that’s less competitive than golf. Photo by Steve Martaindale

“Do you even play golf?” I was asked the other day.

Well, what do you mean by “play”?

My first journalism job, as a sportswriter with the Longview, Texas, twice-a-day newspaper, began in September. The fellow who hired me had been with the paper some 14 years, but he left in October to take another job and we soon had a new leader.

John Inman took over at the worst time for a Texas sports editor, smack dab in the middle of football season, but things seemed to work out smoothly and, by that winter, we had time for a little fun. John thought that his two sportswriters (the other guy had only been there a few weeks ahead of me) should learn to golf, and I bought a set of used clubs from a pawn shop.

We met at 8 a.m. almost every Wednesday at Longview Country Club, where we “learned” the game.

Now, Longview Country Club, which is not and never was in the city of Longview, was a great place to begin. Back then, the 18-hole course had nary a sand trap nor a water feature to play around. In fact, it didn’t have many trees, so losing golf balls wasn’t a huge worry, even for someone at my level.

But I needed more help than that. There never was a breakthrough. While I enjoyed a pretty shot here and there, consistency was absent except when I was consistently bad. I never broke 100 in 18 holes. Once, I hit 49 on the front nine before bombing out on the back. I wasn’t any good and it frustrated me.

A year into our golf education, I moved to Texas A&M to resume more traditional schooling and chasing a little round ball became secondary.

Over the next 20 or so years, I played occasionally. It became more fun because I was no longer trying to improve my game but was simply enjoying myself. Now, it’s been about 25 years since I’ve played a round.

So, do I play golf?

If you’re asking if I’m any good at it, the answer is no.

If you’re asking if I’m currently playing regularly, another no.

If you’re asking if I’d be willing to go out and give it another try … maybe.


Spotted this message on the island of Curacao in 2015. Photo by Steve Martaindale.

Let’s talk about the people who pass through a child’s life, perhaps making a deep impression with relatively simple acts.

My first thought is of the man who introduced my brother and me to roller skating.

As I remember, he was a friend of my father’s and for some reason suggested one day that he take us to the local skating rink. I would have been no more than 6 years old and Ward a year younger. Nowadays, when a story starts like that, one thinks, “Oh, no,” but there was no drama except for me seeing how fast I could skate without splashing against the rail.

When I first started to write this, I thought of the man’s name as Ray … then Red … and finally Brownie. I’m not positive of either one, but I’m leaning heavily on Brownie at this point, recognizing well it may have been my father’s nickname for him.

I do not remember how long this experience with Brownie lasted, but I enjoyed roller skating into my high school years, thanks to a man I know nothing else about.

Big trip

My sophomore year in high school, our track and field team was awesome and headed into the state meet with a good chance to win it all. I do not recall even trying to wrangle a trip to Austin for the competition. Since our dad owned and ran a convenience store, things like that did not happen easily.

Again, I know not how it came about, but Ward and I were extended the offer of a trip to the state meet. This particular angel I knew a little better. He answered to the nickname Smitty.

We stayed one night in a motel – a LaQuinta on what was then the northern fringes of Austin. Early the next morning, I made my first of what would become many state track meet visits to the University of Texas.

Oh, yeah, our boys team clinched the state championship during the final event, the mile relay.

A village

None of this is new. We’ve all heard the proverb that originated in ancient communal societies, most notably in Africa, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Parents need a hand. At the very least, they can benefit from help.

So many adults – and even older children – contribute to the care and education of youth. Keeping an eye on them while parents run to the store. Housing them during a family emergency. Carrying them to school or to religious services. Helping cover participation fees for events. Coaching youth teams and leading organizations. Providing a sleepover to offer new experiences. Even intervening when a parent is the problem.

Let’s hear it for our villagers.

Of an age

Papa and Mama Martaindale.

Technical issues are preventing the timely posting of this piece. However, it is being written on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, a matter that contains some importance we will get to later.

I had three grandfathers, but only one Papa.

My mother’s biological father died when she was about 5 years old. I’ve always known that, as well as the story he died as the result of an abscessed tooth, but hardly anything more.

My mother acquired a stepfather when she was, I believe, in high school. She called him Leonard and they were obviously not close … something I think is not unusual considering family dynamics. I called him Pa.

Pa was a good enough grandfather, though. I have a number of good memories – picking cotton at his place in West Texas, the pocket watch he kept in the vest of his coveralls, the Christmas morning he insisted we leave our presents to look at a “robin” in the front yard only to reveal a deep wonderland of snow.

He died in June 1974. I took a day off from my summer job to drive to Oklahoma for the funeral, which led to an invitation from my uncle who lived in Idaho that concluded in me taking my first big trip to visit him at the end of the summer.

Finally, my grandfather on my dad’s side was the man I called Papa. This is about him.

I’ve always felt a particular attachment to him, partly because he, my father and I shared a middle name. The truth, though, is I only have three strong memories of him because he died when I was only 3 years old.

Memory No. 1: My brother and I were at his home and he was giving us rides on his back while he ran around the living room floor on his hands and knees. For whatever reason, it was so much fun. I also remember looking through a crack in the floor and seeing the ground underneath.

Memory No. 2: We walked from his home, my younger brother and I each holding one of his hands, to a little store down the street. As I remember, his mission was to pick up a carton of eggs. As a bonus, Ward and I each scored a candy bar.

Memory No. 3: I was standing next to his casket in the funeral home; he was dead of a cerebral hemorrhage, lying inside. Certainly, there was considerable discussion between my parents and perhaps my grandmother as to whether I should have this experience, but I’ve always been thankful for it.

I must add it is likely that another reason I felt a strong attachment to this man I knew so briefly was because his widow, the grandmother I called Mama, lived another 35 years. I spent a lot of time with her and she was always talking about the man she called Jackson – that middle name we shared.

Jan. 24, 2023

Back to this date.

A couple of months ago, I was researching something, came across Papa’s date of death and it struck me: I’m at that age now.

Specifically, on this date, I am 68 years and 107 days old, the age of Papa when he died.

Morbid? Perhaps. But I remember, years and years ago, wondering if I would live to be as old as Papa. It seemed like such a long time. It doesn’t seem quite so long now.

On the road

Our view of Valencia.

Three years after Covid nailed us down, Leah and I are off and running again.

We arrived in Valencia, Spain, on Thursday, to spend three weeks with an incredibly gracious cousin and another week on a nearby island.

The plan was to post columns here as we went. That may happen eventually, but connectivity issues are hampering me right now.

I’m limited to using my phone and I hate typing on it. So, bear with me and I promise to catch you up later.



An alligator soaking up some sun at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. Photo by Steve Martaindale

And then there was the time I wrestled a wild, live alligator.

It took place in Bay City, Texas. Being less than 20 miles from East Matagorda Bay, and just off the banks of the Colorado River, and with plenty of irrigation canals and storm ditches, the idea of alligators in the area certainly isn’t difficult to believe, but I never thought I’d find one in the middle of town in the bed of a pickup truck.

It was a Sunday, the only day of the week things were not happening at the daily newspaper where I worked. I entered the building and found the keys to the circulation department’s pickup hanging where they were supposed to be.

That was a good start. Without the pickup I was allowed to borrow, moving that piano from our church to our home would not happen and the two or three guys from work who were showing up to help would have done so in vain.

I did a double-take, however, as I approached the door of the truck. Tied up in the bed was an American alligator.

This presented a problem. You see, I really needed this truck.

The gator seemed tied up well enough that it probably couldn’t bite me unless it broke free. The tail was concerning, though. It wasn’t huge, but it was still an alligator. Before I worried too much about those things, I needed a plan for what to do with it.

I surmised (correctly, I later learned) that someone delivering newspapers the previous evening came across the reptile and, for what I must assume they thought was a good reason, decided it needed to be relocated. I knew local game wardens had the habit of taking trespassing alligators to a more remote spot and freeing them.

But what was I to do? Releasing the critter, even if I had the nerve to remove the ropes, was not a good choice, being that we were on a busy thoroughfare with a residential area immediately behind us. I searched the area for an answer.

I really needed this truck.

My eyes landed on a 30-gallon plastic trash can.


I cannot clearly picture in my mind just how I got the alligator into the can. This was about 40 years ago, after all. But I’m pretty sure it had something to do with scooting the can to take in the gator’s head while strategically untying the ropes that had it bound to the truck. Soon enough, the deed was done and I dragged can and gator to a shady area near the door, covered part of the top with cardboard and left a warning message on it.

To my relief, when I later returned the truck, the gator had been removed.

How do you want those eggs?

A good breakfast is a great reward for rising early. Photo by Steve Martaindale

I love breakfasts. Always have. Any time of the day.

Pancakes. Eggs. Bacon. Sausage. Biscuits with sausage gravy. Biscuits and strawberry preserves. Breakfast tacos. Toast. French toast. Doughnuts. Kolaches. Pigs in blankets. Huevos Ranchero. Cinnamon buns. Fruit cobbler. Even oatmeal or Malt-O-Meal.

Now, I’ll also eat an omelet or quiche or eggs Benedict or yogurt or fresh fruit … but they’re not getting me out of bed early.

I probably took breakfast for granted because it always happened at our house, but it became a focal point for me when helping my dad open his grocery store, Martaindale’s 7-Eleven at 3810 W. Marshall, Longview, Texas. Three doors down, across Harrison Road, was Paul’s Grill.

It was Daddy’s routine to get breakfast and coffee every morning before opening the store at 6 a.m. – 7 a.m. on Sundays. During the summer, and most weekends during the school year, either my brother or I would usually accompany him to open the store. The other one often helped close the store at 11 o’clock.

Paul’s was your standard grill … and somewhat magical in my eyes.

The waitresses seemed to keep an eye out for my dad’s pickup. When they spotted it, they put in an order for his usual and would have coffee ready by the time he reached his seat.

During the summers, they would wait until they could see which boy was with him and turn in the respective favorite. Mine was a short stack with sausage. That’s a “stack” of two (or was it three?) pancakes, if you’re not familiar with the term. The sausage was patties. The butter and syrup flowed freely. My drink of choice was hot chocolate.

Life was good.

Leadership lesson

The University of Georgia’s Monday night beatdown of TCU for football’s Division I national championship somehow brought up the memory of what I’ve always held as one of the best lessons I’ve encountered on leadership.

I ask some of you to bear with me. This is not another sports story.

We were entering the final week of the 1995 high school football season in Texas. I had been the editor of the Denison Herald newspaper a little more than a year and our local high school team, the Denison Yellow Jackets, qualified for the state championship game against La Marque.

Back then, schools meeting in playoff games would negotiate where to play, even for the championship. Usually, they would try to choose a nice venue somewhere between the two. For the Denison-La Marque game, there was plenty of room to choose from since it was some 350 miles from Denison on the Red River to La Marque, which was all but on the Gulf of Mexico, but there wasn’t a lot to choose from in the middle of that drive. There were, however, two pearls, one on each end of the string.

The Houston Astrodome sat 39 miles from La Marque. Texas Stadium was 76 miles from Denison. Either was an exciting location for a high school game.

It came down to a coin flip. Winner chooses the venue. La Marque won.

This begins my story.


I was off work on Monday, but that afternoon I got a head’s-up phone call from my city editor about the plans being made in my absence.

Just a little more background. Denison lies next to Sherman, actually meeting each other on U.S. 75 and Texoma Parkway. They are true sister cities, all the way down to sibling rivalries. At that time, each had its own newspaper. To be sure, we were in competition with the Sherman Democrat, but it was in some ways softened by the fact we were both owned by the same company. For example, we used their printing press. Staffers were friends with each other.

So, while I was raking leaves on my day off, the two publishers – doing what publishers often do – sought to figure the most economical way to cover an important event occurring some 320 miles away. Their solution was to send my sports editor to provide stories for both papers and to rely on The Associated Press for photos. Or something like that.

Thanks to Michelle Dooner cluing me in, I was prepared when my publisher arrived Tuesday morning. After he outlined the plan, I said, “OK, now here’s what I want to do.”

The late Mark Palmer was typical of most publishers in that he did not come from the news side of the business. Generally speaking, that’s really a good thing because journalists are not usually that great at worrying about the profit line. A budget left up to newspaper editors would result in a lot of underutilized helicopters.

Back to Mark and me standing in his office; I’m offering my plan:

“I want to send Ty (Benz, our sports editor), Joe (Cole, our photographer) and Don (Munsch, a news reporter who had been doing feature stories throughout the playoffs).” I don’t remember how I framed my presentation except to point out that if La Marque won, we could expect most of the AP photos to feature them. (That proved to be the case.)

While we were discussing this, the paper’s advertising director and assistant publisher, Wes King, walked in.

“Steve tells me I’ve been underestimating the importance of this ball game,” Mark said.

“Oh, yeah,” came the reply.

And this is the lesson on leadership…

First, my publisher actually listened and considered an alternate opinion. He then told me to proceed as I wanted, that he would eat crow, cover the expenses, and work things out with the Sherman publisher (who was also his boss).

Twenty-seven years later, it still ranks as one of my more notable management experiences.

Puttin’ On the Ritz

It was the winter of 1974-75. Co-worker Linnie and I squeezed into a packed movie theater for Mel Brooks’ new release, “Young Frankenstein,” with the enviable acting lineup of Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr.

If you’ve not seen “Young Frankenstein,” perhaps Brooks’ best movie, find it and view it. Back to the theater.

We were at the scene where Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Wilder) was trying to animate the monster (Boyle), raising the body up a tower during a lightning storm. He yells at Igor (Feldman) to throw the electrical switch for maximum power, even though we can all see the warnings on the equipment to not do so. Igor shrugs, pushes the switch and …

If you’re familiar with the movie, you know what happens next, but that’s not what we saw.

When he threw the switch, the entire screen went black. We laughed. I made some comment that only Mel Brooks would do that. We waited.

Soon, we all began to realize this was going on too long. I looked over my shoulder toward the back wall. Through the small projection room window, a light was on and someone was hurriedly manipulating the equipment.

How I wished to be watching the film with Brooks just to see him slap his forehead and exclaim, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Waxing nostalgic

Ah, a new calendar, brimming with potential, awash with possibilities, stuffed full of hope and promise.

I’ve never gotten seriously caught up in New Year’s resolutions, probably due to a keen self-awareness of my weaknesses. However, I’m entering 2023 with a goal.

Its origin is in a line from my official favorite song, “He Went to Paris,” by Jimmy Buffett. This beautiful ballad says of its protagonist:

Now he lives in the islands
Fishes the pilings
And drinks his green label each day
Writing his memoirs
Losing his hearing
But he don’t care what most people say…

To be honest, however, the memoirs seed was actually planted some 35 years ago. A woman asked me to lightly edit and put into a typesetting program (for those who aren’t aware, Microsoft Word has not always been with us) the handwritten memoirs of her aging father. It was amazing, working through his stories and recollections.

Continue reading Waxing nostalgic

At least it’s Friday

This is you picking out “The Reporter and…” books for your gift list.
This is you rushing around town shopping. (Photos by Steve Martaindale)

Are you yet tired of hearing about Black Friday sales?

Regardless, here’s mine … but with a twist.

All six books in my JP Weiscarver Mystery Series (Yeah, I hear you; I’m trying to get back to work on No. 7.) are sold through amazon.com and I’ve marked the paperbacks down as low as Amazon will allow.

How low?

It varies by book (due to the cost of printing, which I suppose is based primarily on the number of pages) and starts at $6.69 for The Reporter and the Penguin as well as The Reporter and the Apples, topping off at $8.25 for the Reporter and the Marmot. Wait, there is one exception. For some technical reason, they wouldn’t allow me to make the price change on The Reporter and the Sloth without me repeating the entire publication process, so it still carries the original $12.95 price tag.

And, of course, if you are an Amazon Prime member (#ad), you even get free shipping to most places.

A twist?

OK, I’ve proven I’m no marketing genius, so I might as well fly in the face of professional wisdom here: these prices will stay in effect at least through Christmas, maybe longer. So, yeah, you don’t have to rush, but, come on, you know how you tend to procrastinate.


Why not? Maybe it’s because, after the past few years, I’d like to push something that doesn’t make us scream accusations at each other. Maybe sales will go crazy and I’ll sell enough (Yes, even at the minimum prices, I’ll make more than a dollar per book.) to help fund our next trip. Maybe one of you will gift your favorite JP Weiscarver book(s) to a good publisher friend. Maybe I’m simply in need of attention.

“Why not?” is probably the best answer.


You can just find them on Amazon at this link (#ad) or go to my books tab here for links to each book. Please note the prices for Kindle books and the Dream Chasing 101 books have not changed. Understand that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

School days

A little trip down memory lane…

I was sitting in my classroom at one of those desks with a fixed work surface that slanted down toward the student. Perhaps you’ll recall they had a little groove cut into the desk, a short distance from the top, where you could place your pen or pencil.

When I picked up my book or paper that day, my pencil started rolling toward me. Probably because my hands were full, I did not catch it. However, as it fell toward my lap, I brought my legs together to keep it from hitting the floor.

It worked.

The pencil came down between my legs and was caught in the squeeze, eraser on my left leg, the point on my right. I might have squeaked a bit when the pencil lead dug into my thigh, but nobody said anything. I didn’t like drawing attention to myself back then.

It didn’t appear to bleed, so I waited until I got home to check it out. The only visible evidence was a dark spot, the approximate color of pencil lead, the skin giving it something of a blue tint.

Today, more than 55 years later, the spot remains on the inside of my right thigh, a few inches above my knee.

Here’s the point.

That was probably the most dangerous thing I experienced during fourth grade at Pine Tree Elementary School in Longview, Texas.

The most bothersome thing for me was never getting up the nerve to tell Wendy I liked her.

But absolutely no school shootings.

One more thing

Per everytownresearch.org, firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens.

Important stuff

What are you, Team Amber or Team Johnny? I can’t say, as I’ve not paid any attention whatsoever to the goings-on.

However, I have some thoughts about the length of the trial.

Back in my reporter days, I covered a handful of murder trials. I suspect none of them garnered headlines outside our area. No celebrities, not even any local heroes. (There was one man convicted of murder who was in a wheelchair, having lost his legs several years earlier; that might have gotten some attention somewhere.)

Here’s the thing.

These murder trials – involving punishing someone for causing the death of another human, involving the question of putting someone in prison for maybe the rest of his life, involving the most basic offenses of humanity – were all conducted and wrapped up in a matter of days. As I recall, only one extended into the second week and lasted only one or two days more.

Yes, almost all of the murder trials were conducted within four or five days.

Meanwhile, this celebrity civil trial is entering its sixth week.


Because defamation is more complicated than murder? More heinous?

Because rich people are more deserving of a carefully considered verdict?

Or maybe because they make “better television”?

I don’t know, but I am confident our judicial system is being misused, if not outright abused.

One more thing

Why do judges wear black robes? According to classroomlaw.org:

“Upon the founding of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed on the attire judges should wear. Adams wanted judges to wear red robes and wigs as English judges did. Jefferson wanted judges to simply wear suits. A compromise between these two points of view was reached in which Adams and Jefferson agreed that judges in the United States would wear black robes without the wigs.”


A setting sun struggles to punch its way through evening clouds in central Texas. Photo by Steve Martaindale.

We had our first valid tornado threat of the season a few weeks ago.

Anyone who lives in Tornado Alley (however it’s defined; see this) understands. Anyone who does so in a recreational vehicle or mobile home deeply understands.

Forecasts refused to back down from the threat of severe weather and Leah and I eventually got serious about it as the storm front continued its approach. I started by checking out the laundry / rest rooms building at the RV park. It seemed fairly sound, certainly better than our trailer.

Since the park manager was away on a trip, we started notifying a few people who are older and alone and spread the word to others in case they wanted to join us. The manager’s mother was one we checked on, knowing her daughter and son-in-law were out of town. When she called them, her son-in-law told her to unlock the office for everyone. I didn’t like the windows, but it did have a television so we could track weather reports and, besides, the laundry was right next door.

Honestly, I didn’t expect many to join us, but people begin showing up as the skies darkened. More than a dozen hung out in and around the office.

There we were, mostly strangers, sharing stories and watching meteorologists and eying the skies. We got to know people we’d only waved at before. Stealing the show was a 6-month-old cutie who seemed to assume she was the reason we were all gathered together.

The strongest storms split and skirted us, dropping little rain and no hail. Winds were high but not dangerous. Lightning filled the skies but seemed to stay there. During a break in cloud cover, I looked up and saw Orion’s belt. As we gazed at the stars, we decided it was safe to go home.


Someone pointed to the east, and we spotted what appeared to be a funnel cloud. While it was moving away from us, I think everyone decided to stick around just a little longer.

One more thing

Some parks have designated storm shelters, usually brick and mortar meeting rooms, laundries, office, etc.

Several years ago, we were near Toomsuba, Miss., and sound asleep when someone banged on our door.

“This is Guy, from the office,” he yelled. “We’re under a tornado warning; I suggest you move to the rest rooms at the office.”

After alerting everyone, Guy opened the office, turned on the TV and started a pot of coffee.

A park we’ve visited outside Tulsa has an impressive storm shelter on site. I mean, it’s so tough looking, I bet some folks almost wish to ride out a tornado in it.

On the other end of the spectrum is a park in Kennebec, S.D. While the town has a population of only 281 people, it is the county seat, when means it has a courthouse. Instructions for people staying at the RV park were, in case of a tornado threat, to go to the courthouse. I think it even said the park owner had a key.

Go … uh … team?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare. Photo by Steve Martaindale

The 2022 Major League Baseball season opened today. Remembering that, I clicked over to see how the games were going.

One of the first finals I saw was that the Royals had defeated the Guardians 3-1. Uh … Guardians?

OK, while I enjoy watching baseball, I’m not really one to keep up with all the details. When I saw Guardians is the mascot of the Cleveland team, I recalled they had parted ways with the name Cleveland Indians. Well, what I really remembered was the removal of the Chief Wahoo mascot.

That got me started wondering and a quick Google search showed the team in Cleveland had gone by Indians since 1915. Wow, some 106 years.

But wait; there’s more.

Prior to being the Indians, the team was the Cleveland Napoleons/Naps (1903–1914), the Cleveland Bronchos (1902), the Cleveland Bluebirds/Blues (1901–1902), the Cleveland Lake Shores (1900), and, initially, and the Grand Rapids Rippers (1894–1899).

You certainly know where this is going … what about the other teams’ nicknames?

Atlanta Braves – Atlanta Braves (1966–present), Milwaukee Braves (1953–1965), Boston Braves (1941–1952), Boston Bees (1936–1940), Boston Braves (1912–1935), Boston Rustlers (1911), Boston Doves (1907–1910), Boston Beaneaters (1883–1906), Boston Red Caps (1876–1882), and Boston Red Stockings (1871–1875).

Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore Orioles (1954–present), St. Louis Browns (1902–1953), and Milwaukee Brewers (1901).

Boston Red Sox – Boston Red Sox (1908–present), and Boston Americans (1901–1907).

Chicago Cubs – Chicago Cubs (1903–present), Chicago Orphans (1898–1902), Chicago Colts (1890–1897), and Chicago White Stockings (NL) (1876–1889).

Chicago White Sox – Chicago White Sox (1904–present), and Chicago White Stockings (1900–1903)

Cincinnati Reds – Cincinnati Reds (1959–present), Cincinnati Redlegs (1954–1958), Cincinnati Reds (1890–1953), and Cincinnati Red Stockings (1882–1889).

Houston Astros – Houston Astros (1965–present), and Houston Colt .45s (1962–1964).

Los Angeles Angels – Los Angeles Angels (2016–present), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005–2015), Anaheim Angels (1997–2004), California Angels (1965–1996), and Los Angeles Angels (1961–1965).

Los Angeles Dodgers – Los Angeles Dodgers (1958–present), Brooklyn Dodgers (1932–1957), Brooklyn Robins (1914–1931), Brooklyn Dodgers (1913), Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers (1911–1912), Brooklyn Superbas (1899–1910), Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1896–1898), Brooklyn Grooms (1891–1895), Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1888–1890), Brooklyn Grays (1885–1887), Brooklyn Atlantics (1884), and Brooklyn Grays (1883).

Miami Marlins – Miami Marlins (2012–present), and Florida Marlins (1993–2011).

Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee Brewers (1970–present), and Seattle Pilots (1969).

Minnesota Twins – Minnesota Twins (1961–present), Washington Senators (1901–1904, 1956–1960), and Washington Nationals/Senators (1905–1955).

New York Yankees – New York Yankees (1913–present), New York Highlanders (1903–1912), and Baltimore Orioles (1901–1902).

Oakland Athletics – Oakland Athletics (1968–present), Kansas City Athletics (1955–1967), and Philadelphia Athletics (1901–1954).

Philadelphia Phillies – Philadelphia Phillies (1883–present), Philadelphia Blue Jays/Phillies (1944–1949), Philadelphia Quakers/Phillies (1884–1889), and Philadelphia Quakers (1883).

Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh Pirates (1891–present), Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1887–1890), and Allegheny (1882–1886).

St. Louis Cardinals – St. Louis Cardinals (1900–present), St. Louis Perfectos (1899), St. Louis Browns (1892–1898), St. Louis Browns (1883–1891) (AA), and St. Louis Brown Stockings (1882) (AA).

San Francisco Giants – San Francisco Giants (1958–present), New York Giants (1885–1957), and New York Gothams (1883–1884).

Tampa Bay Rays – Tampa Bay Rays (2008–present), and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998–2007).

Texas Rangers – Texas Rangers (1972–present), and Washington Senators (1961–1971).

Washington Nationals – Washington Nationals (2005–present), and Montreal Expos (1969–2004).

The following have had no changes, listed here with their first season: Arizona Diamondbacks (1998), Colorado Rockies (1993), Detroit Tigers (1901), Kansas City Royals (1969), New York Mets (1962), San Diego Padres (1969), Seattle Mariners (1977), and Toronto Blue Jays (1977).

My top takeaways: a team played as the Boston Beaneaters for 23 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been just that for 131 years, they actually used the nickname Perfectos in the 19th century, and a team went by Bridegrooms, then Grooms, and back to Bridegrooms over an 11-season period.

One more thing

“Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.” ― National Baseball Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher

Hey, batter

A youth baseball complex in Ogallala, Neb. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Ready or not, baseball season is upon us.

Major leaguers and wannabes are wrapping up spring training in Florida and Arizona prior to tossing out the first ball of the season Thursday. Colleges and high schools are well into their seasons.

And, of course, Little League and other youth league participants are practicing their throwing, catching, hitting, running and infield chatter.

Do they still do that?

When I was playing almost mumble-mumble years ago, chatter was a big part of the game. Primary chatterers were at first base, second, third and shortstop. Catchers often took part, too. Pitchers did not because they were busy at the time. Outfielders may have shouted, but it wasn’t as expected.

For anyone not familiar, the chatter was intended to distract the batter, mostly nonsensical things like, “Hey, batter, hey-batter, hey-batter … swing, batter!” There would also be plenty of pep talk for the pitcher, just as steeped in substance, “Put it in there, Alvin, put it in there.” Finally, a little goading was not uncommon, “He can’t hit, he can’t hit.”

It must have worked because players were taught to just block out all the noise whenever at bat.

And that tidbit is a great lesson in life.

Take care of your business and don’t let meaningless chatter distract you.

One more thing

A Roman walks into a bar. He holds up two fingers and says, “Five beers, please!”


This has nothing to do with the Mariner 10 probe to Mercury, but it’s one of few astronomical photos on hand. I shot this hand-held during totality of the Jan. 20-21, 2019, lunar eclipse of a Blood Moon. Photo by Steve Martaindale

On this date, March 29, in 1974, the unmanned U.S. space probe Mariner 10 became the first spacecraft to visit the planet Mercury.

I’ve always enjoyed the on-this-date features in newspapers. Don’t know why, but I seldom skip over them. In fact, I’ll often use one of the factoids for Facebook and Twitter posts. They sometimes make good conversation starters and often carry the potential to serve as reminders of good memories or warnings from bad events.

That’s what I started to do this morning and was impressed by the volume of notable events that have occurred on March 29.

My search began, as it often does, with The Associated Press’ daily column. You might want to bookmark https://apnews.com/hub/today-in-history for your use. Another great site is the History Channel at https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history. The AP has many more items listed, but history.com gives tremendous depth. It’s from there I grabbed the Mariner 10 info, including that Mercury’s surface temperature varies from 800 degrees Fahrenheit when facing the sun to -279 degrees when facing away.

Back to March 29 through the years. I’m not going to reprint the whole article, but you can find it by clicking here.

Let’s quickly skim over the highlights.

In 1861, President Lincoln ordered a relief expedition to Fort Sumter, S.C.

In 1867, Queen Victoria signed an act creating the Dominion of Canada.

In 1943, World War II rationing of meat, fats and cheese began.

In 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union.

In 1971, Army Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was convicted of murdering 22 Vietnamese civilians in the 1968 My Lai massacre.

In 1971, a jury recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three female followers for the 1969 Tate-La Bianca murders.

In 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam.

In 1974, eight Ohio National Guardsmen were indicted on federal charges stemming from the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University.

In 1984, the Baltimore Colts football team moved to Indianapolis.

In 2004, seven former Soviet-bloc nations (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Latvia and Estonia) joined NATO.

In 2017, Britain filed for divorce from the European Union.

In 2020, country singer Joe Diffie died at 61 from what a spokesman said were complications from COVID-19.

In 2021, salvage teams dislodged a ship that had blocked the Suez Canal for six days.

But there’s more.

The AP article always ends with today’s birthdays. Those catching my attention were former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, 79; basketball Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, 77; football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, 67; actor Marina Sirtis, 67; actor Lucy Lawless, 54; and tennis Hall of Famer Jennifer Capriati, 46.

One more thing…

What do history teachers make when they want to get together?


What’s your network?

A tweet from some person in the Twitterverse crossed my screen a few weeks ago in which the writer stated he or she would happily subscribe to a television network which continuously played reruns from a set of four or five specific shows.

Many others chimed in with their own lists, which helped bring to mind a number of series I haven’t seen in years. Of course, it also got me thinking about my personalized network (and don’t you know the technology is there to do that … think of Pandora).

Quite naturally, I wondered what your list would include. Would you share your ideal network lineup? Since it’s not fair, in my opinion, to compare current series with old shows, let’s limit it to shows from the 20th century. I’m leaving it open to those that crossed centuries if the majority of its episodes were prior to 2000.

Pick as many as six shows for your network and share with us. To help fire some aging synapses, I’ve dug out lists of titles and present them in no particular order. Note I did not double-check all the program names to make sure they’re correct, so some might be misrepresented, but you’ll recognize anything you really liked. My pick for Steve’s Personal Network (SPN) will be at the end. Please add your list in a comment.

Get Smart, Sanford & Son, Love American Style, Green Acres, Hawaii Five-O, I Dream of Jeanie, Mr. Ed, Petticoat Junction, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, Rockford Files, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Dragnet, Sgt. Bilko, The Honeymooners, Mork, The Jeffersons, Car 54 Where Are You?…

Burns & Allen, The Addams Family, The Munsters, Highway Patrol, My Three Sons, Soupy Sales, The Outer Limits, Lost in Space, I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, Cheers, Taxi, Family Affair, The Odd Couple, Love Boat, Courtship of Eddie’s Father, My Favorite Martian, F-Troop, Hogan’s Heroes, Dark Shadows, Night Court, That Girl, Facts of Life…

Bonanza, The Waltons, Combat!, Tales From the Crypt, Maverick, Laugh-In, The Muppet Show, McHale’s Navy, The Midnight Special, Roy Rogers, The Big Valley, Touched by an Angel, Perry Mason, The Fugitive, CHiPs, Emergency, Golden Girls, Perfect Strangers, Bosom Buddies, All in the Family, Harry and the Hendersons, The Beverly Hillbillies…

Police Squad, Hazel, The Monkees, Quincy M.E., Barnaby Jones, Have Gun Will Travel, The Little Rascals, M*A*S*H, Fantasy Island, Saved by the Bell, Leave it to Beaver, Hart to Hart, Matlock, Wagon Train, The Brady Bunch, Rifleman, Adam-12, The Three Stooges, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle USMC, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Dr. Who, Seinfeld, MacGyver…

Magnum PI, 21 Jump Street, The A-Team, The Cosby Show, Little House on the Prairie, The Dukes of Hazzard, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Wonder Years, Married … With Children, Mission: Impossible, Murder She Wrote, Mod Squad, Twin Peaks, Gunsmoke, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Barney Miller, Good Times, What’s Happening?…

Dallas, In Living Color, Thirtysomething, Highway to Heaven, Roseanne, Hill Street Blues, Newhart, The Bob Newhart Show, Frazier, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Columbo, Barreta, The X-Files, Friends, The 6 Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, ALF, The Real McCoys, Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel…

Battlestar Galactica, The Greatest American Hero, The Real McCoys, Alice, Flo, Who’s the Boss?, Growing Pains, Family Ties, and … what else?

Obviously, this is not comprehensive, and someone will come up with a show I’ll be embarrassed to have overlooked.

Without further fanfare, my SPN channel will include: M*A*S*H, Taxi, The Bob Newhart Show, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Barney Miller, and Cheers.

One more thing…

Is there a more used and more helpful mnemonic than, “Righty tighty, lefty loosey”?


Scared? Honestly, I’ve not seen many — any? — successful hiccup cures due to someone trying to startle the hiccups out of the patient. Photo by Steve Martaindale

I’m not sure my pastor believed me.

OK, wait, that statement could lead to a bushel basket of speculation, the validity of which I’m not willing to place under scrutiny; let me try again.

The preacher and I were chatting on the phone last week, something we try to do regularly, especially when Leah and I are on the road, as we’ve been since late May. For the life of me, I do not recall why I brought up the topic, but I asked, “Do you know how to cure hiccups?”

He made a feeble attempt to formulate a smart-aleck answer, possibly something to do with “boo,” but I cut him off: “A spoonful of sugar.”

(Bonus points to all readers who just heard, in their mind’s ear, Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins sing, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way.”)

Instead of singing, David, our preacher, said something like, “Oh, really.”

You can hear the doubt just reading those words, can’t you?

“Oh, really.”

My confirmation was two-pronged.

One, I have more than 20 years of practical application of the cure. Maybe more than 30 years. During that time, I told him, the very few efforts that failed to chase away hiccups with the first dose, inevitably succeeded with a second dose. Yes, in case you missed it, almost all of my hiccup attacks are vanquished with one spoonful of sugar. Sometimes, a second spoonful is required.

Two, there was actually a study done, published in 1971, that showed the sweet cure was effective in 19 of 20 patients. Like so many wonderful things, they’re not sure why, but the prevalent thought deals with how sugar affects the vagus nerve, which connects the brain and stomach. I don’t care why or how. I just cherish the knowledge that, if hiccups begin torturing me, a spoonful of sugar … well, you know.

Brag away!

Another #MyBrag: I’ve seen some great sunrises. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Came across a tweet today, the effects of which seemed worth sharing.

First of all, I do not know and have not previously followed Gail Simone (@GailSimone on Twitter), whose bio says she is, among other things, a “writer of comics and animation.” Doing a shallow dive to see what I could learn about her, I found all I needed to know in a beautifully heart-wrenching thread about a little boy named Zaadii, which you can find here.

That, however, is not what got me started. It was this tweet.

Get it? The challenge is to brag about something – no reservations, no excuses, just flat out bragging. Isn’t that great? Well, the proof is in the following tweets. Let’s dig into #MyBrag and see what we can pull out of them.

Continue reading Brag away!


A memorial in Lyons, N.Y. Photo by Steve Martaindale

When is Memorial Day in the United States?

Blindside a Baby Boomer with that question and you might initially get the answer May 30. That’s because, until near the end of the Vietnam War, such was the case. Until it was moved to the last Monday in May.

Why the move? Well, a glance at your local grocery store ads this week might give a clue. I can almost guarantee they will feature hot dogs, chips, charcoal briquets and a wide variety of drinks. And you are familiar with the thought the Memorial Day holiday weekend is the kickoff of summer.

Not everyone loves the idea of making a party weekend out of a day designated to honor … honor whom, exactly?

That’s another question that will trip up some people. In this case, I’m guessing, it might more likely be younger Americans.

“Memorial Day honors our veterans!” they might say. Many folks believe so, or at least they treat it as such.

No, Memorial Day has a distinct purpose, as is described in President Joe Biden’s proclamation issued Friday:

“On Memorial Day, we honor and reflect upon the courage, integrity, and selfless dedication of the members of our Armed Forces who have made the greatest sacrifice in service to our Nation.”

Truly recognizing that “greatest sacrifice” means death and understanding that nobody being honored on Memorial Day is able to share in a cookout or a softball game … or a hug or a laugh … certainly should put a damper on festivities.

According to The HISTORY Channel, until his death in 2012, Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii took up the cause of veterans groups opposing the last Monday date, introducing legislation at the beginning of every congressional term for more than 20 years. It shouldn’t surprise anyone moneymaking endeavors win out.

If not opening the community swimming pool and grilling meat byproducts, what is the best thing we could do to honor those who have been lost to war?

Maybe …

Maybe try a lot harder to avoid war.

‘No more wars’

When my wife and I walked the Erie Canal Trailway in 2016, we took off on Memorial Day, which happened to be May 30 that year. All along our route, we saw memorials and monuments to war and its victims, dating back to the American Revolution. We were in Herkimer, N.Y., and walked downtown for a good, old-fashioned parade and speeches.

The highlight was a few words offered by Annemarie Hansel, age 96, who served as a WAVE during World War II.

The first of what she said I didn’t pick up on, but she spoke loudly and clearly with her parting remarks: “No more wars. We’ve got to stop this. Use your brains.”

Working in the Hospital Corps for the Navy, I’m left to assume she had seen enough of the results of war.

What is it good for?

That’s a question asked repeatedly in the counterculture hit “War,” written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label and ultimately released as a chart-topping single with a powerful performance by Edwin Starr in 1970.

It is not fair to history for me to immediately follow a discussion about World War II with one about Vietnam. War against the Axis Powers and their drive for world domination can hardly be questioned. Vietnam, on the other hand, could not be adequately justified for Americans, who sacrificed at least 58,318 lives. Some 3 million Vietnamese died, two-thirds of them civilians.

But that, I believe, is what drove Annemarie Hansel’s cry for peace. After seeing at least 60 million deaths during World War II, how can civilized nations enter another war?

Absolutely nothing

But Americans don’t have to go far to see the truest horrors of war.

According to Department of Veterans Affairs, 498,332 American military – Union and Confederate – died in the Civil War, eclipsing even the two world wars.

A friend asked me this past winter to read through a book he wrote. It was amazing and, if and when he publishes it, I’ll let you know. He heavily researched the life and times of his wife’s great-uncle, who fought for the U.S. through much of the Civil War, only to die from wounds suffered at Deep Bottom Run.

As I carefully read through the book, the abominations of this war that pitted brother against brother continually screamed out at me.

War … what is it good for?


This Memorial Day, honor those who gave their lives in military service.

It matters not whether the cause of the conflict was justifiable. There is nothing the fighting man or woman can do about that. However, we can and should attempt everything possible to prevent another person dying in war.

That would be the highest honor.

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” John Steinbeck in “Once There Was a War”

The Reporter and…

Let’s name some characters

Every JP Weiscarver book I’ve written has come about in ways that distinguish it from the others.

For the eighth, instead of writing right off, as has often happened, I felt it more important to get a better grasp of where it was going. Actually, a better grasp of how it would get there. And I decided I really wanted to have the title nailed down first.

I’ll reveal that after we name six characters in the book.

Another first! While I’ve held competitions to name one or more characters in every book, I’ve never done it this early and certainly not for six of them.

First, be aware I’m not deeply interested in background stories; most of those are already lined out in my notes. That being said, feel free to contribute anything you’d like, particularly personal tidbits, as I might work them in somewhere. All of these characters will play sizeable roles in the story. I suspect each nomination will include names for both husband and wife. Suggest names for one couple or up to all three.

Here’s what I’m looking at:

No. 1, female, married to No. 2. Semi-retired. She retired after 20 years in the Army as a unit supply specialist. After that, she wrote romance novels.

No. 2, male, married to No. 1. Retired private detective. Think real world PI, not the TV type.

No. 3, female, married to No. 4. Mostly retired nurse, now working occasional short stints to keep current and make traveling money.

No. 4, male, married to No. 3. Retired middle school principal, a self-proclaimed expert on suspicious actions. “I don’t believe you’re telling me the whole truth.”

No. 5, female, married to No. 6. Retired mall gift store manager. With years of managing teen-age and young adult employees, she understands where No. 4 is coming from.

No. 6, male, married to No. 5. Retired after having numerous different jobs. Most recently worked six years as a security guard. Now really into gardening.

The payoff

As always, those who submit names I use will be acknowledged in the book and will receive an autographed paperback when it comes out.

Submit your suggestions in the comment box here, post it on the Facebook post, message it to me, or email it. Carrier pigeon would probably be too late.

Misty watercolor …

Patchwork clouds. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Think back for just a second.

Back to a time before you started school.

Briefly share with us the first memory you come up with.

My paternal grandfather, the man whose middle name my father and I both carried but who I called Papa, died when I was 4 years old.

My memory is walking with him – me holding one hand and my younger brother holding the other – to a little store a short distance from his home in the Spring Hill community that is now part of Longview, Texas.

I believe our mission was to buy eggs, and maybe we did, but I remember with certainty we returned with my brother and I each eating a piece of candy.

Your turn.

Close to home

“We are grieving with you, as well.”

My wife had her phone on speaker while talking to a friend about the shootings in nearby Bryan, Texas.

“Are you OK?” she asked. I tuned in and it was obvious the woman was crying. Later, she sent me the link to a local newscast, shown above. She said that was what caused her to lose her composure.

It all hit close to home. Our friend termed it a time “when news gets real.”

We do not yet know anything about why the shots were fired. Witnesses have been quoted as saying it appeared obvious the shooter was targeting certain individuals. We know nothing about that, either.

But those types of questions are seldom answered to our satisfaction following senseless brutality.

The point right here, right now, is this shooting may seem more real to locals than other mass shootings in places further removed.

But that is an illusion.

Any act of inhumanity is always real. Some people simply have a closer look at it.

When we all are able to feel the realness, then maybe we’ll become motivated enough to do something about the problem.

Park it

The view from my temporary studio. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Wrestling with some questions Tuesday morning, I took leave from the house for a couple of hours. That’s nothing new; I’ve often hit the backroads to air out thoughts, maybe gain a different perspective.

Such is more challenging now, during a pandemic, because rest rooms can be more difficult to come by. Instead of guiding our little car toward the open roads, I made the 25-minute drive to Veteran’s Park in College Station.

There, I sat in the car, rolled the windows up and down in response to brief rain showers, talked out loud to myself and scribbled entries on my notepad. When necessary, there’s even a rest room.

Do we take parks for granted?

No, that’s too easy an assumption. Let’s not try to overdramatize the point. Instead, consider the joyful memories we have of different parks.


My earliest might be a rural park maintained by the Gregg County Precinct 3 commissioner, I believe near Liberty City, Texas. Then there was the city park where we played Little League baseball. When our family traveled, we would stop at a roadside picnic table to eat a sack lunch. I remember a particular Easter Sunday sunrise service at Teague Park in Longview.

A couple of co-workers and I started shooting basketball after work on Tuesdays at Jackson Street Park in Brenham, Texas. Soon, we had enough guys joining us that we got pretty good games going. When my daughter was 2 years old, we had great bonding time at Le Tulle Park outside Bay City, Texas, feeding ducks and swinging.

Leah and I have also been regular visitors to state parks in Texas. She counted a while back that we’ve been to more than 40 of them. We’ve also enjoyed several state parks in New York, and have hiked most of the trails of the amazing Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

While not as thoroughly, we’ve also been to several national parks, including living and working an entire summer in Yellowstone, the world’s first national park.

Parks are not limited to the United States, though. As that thought crossed my mind, I could easily recall visiting parks in Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Poland, Tobago, Thailand, Mexico and probably most of the others.

What are your favorite park memories?

Parks are one of the great investments of a society. Treasure them, use them, take care of them.

By the way, I came home with plenty of notes and clear answers to my questions.

Time flies like a papaya

Photo by Steve Martaindale

“They” say time flies faster the older we get.

I’m not so certain that’s true. It’s possible time isn’t moving faster, just that we’re moving more slowly.

That is to say … it takes longer and longer to do almost anything.

I’ve no desire to scare off Generations A, B, C, or Whatever. Getting older is definitely worth it; hang in there.

What is there to do about this problem? Maybe the solution is to not fight it. If it takes longer to do something, do less of it.

That’s all I have time to say.


What is your favorite quote?

Seriously. Click the link (either at the top or the bottom, depending on your viewing device) that says something about “Comment” and share. Don’t get too hung up on having to decide your one-favorite-quote-of-all-time. Yeah, think of it as, “What is one of your favorite quotes?” Or two.

Give us the quote, who said it and include any other context you feel is relevant.

One reason I’m lax on the “favorite” part is that I’m not really a fan of picking a one-and-only-one favorite anything. Ask me about quotes, for example, and I’ll quickly give you two of them.

Quote 1

“The most dangerous words in language are, ‘We’ve always done it that way’.” – U.S. Navy Adm. Grace Hopper.

Adm. Hopper was one of the most amazing people who lived during my lifetime (and likely yours; she died in 1992) and yet you may not have heard about her.

Born in 1906, she earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale. She tried to enlist in the Navy during World War II but was denied based on her age and that her position as a mathematician and mathematics professor at Vassar College was valuable to the war effort. She then joined the Navy Reserves, serving there and eventually with the Navy for 42 years, twice retiring only to be returned to active duty. She finally retired at age 79 at the rank of rear admiral.

Her greatest contributions, though, was her work in the early ages of computers, inventing the compiler and laying the groundwork for the development of the computer language COBOL. She was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities around the world. A residential college at Yale University was renamed after her, as was the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Hopper. And President Barack Obama posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

And that does not do her justice. Read up on Grace Hopper. Let her inspire the youth you know.

Everything I’ve read about her seems to underscore her quote above. I mean, she would have achieved little had she relied on doing everything the way it’s always been done. That can be said of every innovator and inventor.

Quote 2

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

This is a no-brainer for my wife and me. We’ve always loved traveling. We’ve visited all 50 states. I’ve been to all seven continents and Leah’s been to all but Antarctica. We took early retirement in 2013 and – until COVID messed up 2020 – worked 4-5 months each year in another state to feed our travel bug.

Indeed, we sold our house and have been living in an RV just so we can more easily wander. And we’re seldom lost!

Don’t try to slip away without clicking the comment link and sharing one of your favorite quotes.

New-age travel

Am I the only one here? Photo by Steve Martaindale

We had a hotel experience a couple of weeks ago unlike any before. It teeters between neat and eerie.

You decide.

When we rent a room, which isn’t incredibly often, it’s as likely as not a Hampton Inn. Therefore, a few years ago, I downloaded their app to my phone. I’ve used it a time or two to select a room. Once, I tried to utilize the digital key, but something didn’t work right.

The digital key uses your phone’s Bluetooth to pair up with your room lock. Hold your phone near the door, a button lights up on your phone, press it and the door unlocks.

In this pandemic world we’re living in, the idea is even more inviting. By checking in online, picking our room, and utilizing a digital key … we did not have to exchange a credit card, sign anything, receive a key … nothing.

In fact – and this is the eerie part – we never even saw anybody.

Certainly, there was someone in charge of the front desk and would have shown up soon had we not walked right by it.

Surely … right?

We walked through the lobby. I punched the elevator buttons with my elbow. When we reached the room I had selected online, the digital key image on my phone lit up, I pressed it and we walked in.

So, tell me, am I too easily entertained? Maybe you’ve all been doing that for years.

But it hasn’t really gotten weird yet.

After getting settled into our room, we left to get my COVID shot, walking through the lobby. We returned through the lobby. Later, Leah wanted to see the indoor pool and I kind of wanted to see if my digital key would work there as advertised. It worked and we saw nobody.

The next morning, Leah volunteered to go downstairs and pick up breakfast, which they served on disposable plates and asked you to go back to your room to eat. She actually talked to an employee there. Shortly before we were ready to leave, a woman knocked on our door to see if we had left so she could clean it. (I don’t know why, with all this technology, they have to do that.)

I checked out with my phone app and we left, seeing no one but another guest in the hallway.

Neat or eerie?

I like the idea of the digital key and checking in online, but I look forward to again being able to have little conversations with strangers.

Illuminate me!

Balina Beach, New South Wales, Australia might be a fine place to seek illumination. Just a thought. Photo by Steve Martaindale

After years of annoying letters from Nigerian princes trying to assuage their guilt by sharing vast sums of money with me…

Amidst the current trend of people who have already sent me vast sums of money that all I must do is confirm a little information…

Now, I finally get a welcomed email.

Join the Illuminati

“Greetings, from The illuminati world elite empire.”

Yes! I have finally been discovered!

Continue reading Illuminate me!

One thumb up

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Bear Butte, South Dakota. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Let’s show a little love for bad movies.

Not every bad movie’s for everyone, mind you. We each have our own bad movies we love … or at least like … or at the very least endure and enjoy making fun of.

Continue reading One thumb up