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I'm thinkin' that we handed out red wine, in red Solo cups, one year at Karla's house. Maybe more than once that Jim and I sat in the driveway in river chairs, grape juice in hand, while we waited on the kids to get back with their hard-earned loot. We had some grateful takers.
The Boy is off with his friends to Diz West for some Halloween revelry and The House Blond has plans for the spookiest day of the year as well. It's been almost two decades since Mrs TWC and I have had no parental obligations on Halloween. That's a disquieting feeling that almost borders on relief.
Disney allows costumes that are in good taste, which means a nay if the House Blond showed up as Pyscho Bride, a role she played a couple of years ago at the ASB haunted house.
Keeping that admonition in mind, The Boy is going as.....
What makes this a great costume is that the second he puts it on, he's in character. And he's awesome. The Boy stood silently in The House Blond's bedroom, lights out, patiently waiting for her to open the door and step inside. Never said a word, he didn't have to. She about dropped to the floor in a dead feint.
This Yom Kippur also marks the 40th anniversary of the onset of the Yom Kippur war.
I rarely talk much about it because, frankly, it sounds ludicrous. Like a tall tale, a load of road apples, or BS from a congenital liar. Figured nobody would much believe it anyway, though it was real enough. Back in the days of my vagrant yoot, TWC signed on to go fight with the Israelis in the Yom Kippur war.
Guys in gray trench coats, black suits, and fedoras offered an only-in-your-wildest-dreams paycheck deposited into a Swiss bank, tax free. I was young and single. I'm good with Israel, so what's not to like? And to sweeten the deal? Early release from the custody of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. A lot of guys weren't interested, but nobody had to ask me twice.
Destroyed Israeli Tank, 1973
But, it never happened. Here's why: Israel is definitely who you want at your back in a bar fight. Turned out they didn't need moi because the Israelis wrapped that war up in about three weeks. Not bad considering Israeli complacency about a possible attack that lasted until about six hours before the war kicked off.
So that's my Wharholian fifteen minutes that didn't happen. Yes, I was a bit disappointed.
Before the CONgressionally mandated, three-day Memorial Day Weekend that marks the beginning of summer, there was a holiday called Decoration Day. The intent of which was to honor the Civil War dead.
The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.—By Order of General John A. Logan
It is right that we honor our war dead. It is also right that we, as a people, reflect on the nature and purpose of our wars and conflicts. If for no other reason than the cold, brutal, reality that some will come home in flag draped coffins.
As many of you know, Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of a rag-tag bunch of Mexicans over the most formidable army in the world. The Frogs hadn't lost a battle in a half century.
However, the Mexican victory on Cinco de Mayo of 1862 was short lived and Benito Juárez set up a resistance movement in northern Mexico. At a cost of $57.00 per rifle (including 500 rounds per weapon), paid for in silver coin, Juarez purchased 1,000 Winchester Model 1866 carbines in .44 caliber. The rifles were stamped *R.M.*, for *Republic of Mexico* and marked with a sunburst. Today, these rifles are worth upwards of $8,000.00. About ten times their 1866 value after adjusting for inflation.
Years before TWC's vagrant yoot, when he was but a wee lad, we had family friends that were turkey ranchers. The Patriarch
spoke with a heavy Irish brogue that may as well have been a foreign language
as it was entirely unintelligible to me.
McCourt's book a few years ago, I was reminded that Old Man Porter once told me that, after the Big War, a prosperous Irish family owned two bicycles. That pearl was entirely lost on me at the time.
I loved his 1959 Cadillac with the
bullet taillights, the 1959 El Camino with the 348, and the turkey egg
that invariably found its way home with me after every visit. For the
uninitiated, turkey eggs are pretty much chicken eggs on a Barry Bonds diet. Nothing
exotic, they're just big. Fry them over-medium with a little butter, salt and pepper and serve with bacon, toast, and cold milk.
American St Patrick’s Day celebrations date back at least three hundred years and like so much else that makes this America, we have embraced this Irish festivity in a style that is uniquely ours. Shamrocks, leprechauns, green beer, green hair, a green river, and a lot of racket, which is old-country Irish slang for
an old fashioned welcome-to-the-neighborhood party.
But in Ireland today it’s a softer and more subdued festival that often begins with a morning church service. Despite Ireland’s hard drinking reputation, as recently as thirty years ago most pubs were closed on St Paddy's Day in honor of this religious holiday. Even today the pubs are open mainly to serve the tourist trade arriving to celebrate a real Irish St Patrick’s Day.
We’re all Irish today—or maybe just a secular Americanized version of
what we imagine being Irish to be.
The Wine O’Commonsewer
Full Disclosure: TWC has a fair amount of Irish blood but
it's the Dutch that makes him hard headed. My kids are from a mongrel heritage that includes Irish from all four sides as well as Dutch, Indian (feather not dot), Black German, English, Scottish, and Welsh.
Walter Wellman was the Smiling Irishman who offered the World's Greatest Car Bargains. Walter was The Workingman's Friend and he'll give you a Square Deal. Can't get much squarer than a fifty dollar car ($425.00 in 2012). Beats a fifty dollar Pepsi, hands down.
Taken from a 35mm Kodachrome transparency, the photo dates to 1952 and the Smiling Irishman's used car lot was located in the 2400 block of Pico Boulevard near South Vermont in Los Angeles.
The pre-war era mechanical Acme (yes, Acme) stop signal is intriguing. Hard to find it, but it
sits just to the right of the fire plug. Here's what it looked like and how it worked:
Once the Big War was over, they kicked my old buddy loose from Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming. His wallet was fat and once he reached Chicago, he bought hisself a brand new 1946 Ford with the cash he'd stockpiled from his pool table and cigarette concession.
Mike, you know how much Japanese love to smoke and cigarettes were hard to come by in camp.
Akira (I called him Ike or Aki) volunteered for several work details, the fruits of which were a pilfered pool table and a pickup loaded down with stolen cartons of smokes. Both came from a lodge near Jellystone that was shuttered for the duration of the war. No gas, no meat, no tires, no customers. Think about that the next time somebody tells you that the war ended the depression.
Ike was pretty good with a wrench and he found gainful employment at S-M-G Garage, 2122 Clark Street, where the back wall was still riddled with bullet holes on account of Moran's Boys being mowed down by gangsters in police uniforms back in 1929. He loved telling that story.
The building met up with the wrecking ball in 1967, but the brick wall was taken apart and stored for a number of years, eventually forming the wall of a men's restroom in George Patey's Roaring Twenties themed nighclub. The club wasn't profitable and when it closed, Mr Patey sold the salvaged bricks for a grand apiece. Legend has it that those pockmarked bricks have brought nothing but heartbreak, financial ruin, death, and all kinda misfortune to those who bought them.
Hope your St Valentine's Day is better than Moran's boys was.
During the course of research for this piece I found Ike's records in the National Archives database. It was a stunning find for me, bringing forth a flood of memories and a profound sense of loss.