A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.





Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Little Waldron Movie

video

Music:  "Missing Vassar" by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder from their album "Instrumentals."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beautiful Beulah Belle

The class of '74 just had our 40th reunion, so it's time for another rerun...

The cast:  L to R, Kathy Jones, Linda McKinney, Cathy
Newberry, me, Janice Cottingham, our sponsor Whil Harris,
Bert Wayne Vines, Marilyn Ferguson, Janet Yates, and
Carolyn Thompson.



Let us, for this week, leave behind the halcyon days of elementary school and rocket forward to November, 1972, and the Junior Class Play at Waldron High School.

The Junior Class was so laden with talent, in fact, that actually two plays were presented.  Hail the Hunkering Hero featured Randy Jones and Terry Nichols, among others, in the story of a bumbling football hero.  But the play I was in was called Beautiful Beulah Belle.

Under the artful direction of Janice Cottingham, Beautiful Beulah Belle told the story of a family of helpless females victimized by the dastardly Lucifer Lowdown, who demanded the hand of Beautiful Beulah Belle in marriage in return for the mortgage on the old homestead.  Other characters included Uralee, Beulah Belle's vampish sister, Mother-Dear, Auntie Anna, Granny Hannah, and the ultimate hero, Adonis Adrenalin.  The beautiful Marilyn Ferguson starred as Beulah Belle, while I had the role of the despicable Lucifer Lowdown.  The hero, Adonis, was portrayed by Bert Wayne Vines.  Other cast members included my sister Janet, Kathy Jones, Linda Sue McKinney, Cathy Newberry, and Carolyn Thompson, who held up a card that said "Boo Hiss" every time I appeared on stage. 

We had to try out for our parts, and I recall that during my audition, I assumed a particular sneering laugh for the character of Lucifer that I patterned directly from one of my cartoon heroes, Snidely Whiplash, from The Bullwinkle Show.  It was kind of a "nyuh-huh-huh," delivered while twirling the end of the glued-on moustache that was required of the part.  Incidentally, that was my first exposure to the world of moustache-wearing, and someone made a comment to me that my fake moustache looked pretty good.  Consequently, a couple of years later when I was in college, I grew my first moustache.  And, being the sentimental sort that I am, I kept my fake moustache as a souvenir.

My moustache.
But, back to the production.  We rehearsed extensively and all worked very hard on our parts.  We had a crew that created scenery and backdrops; we went all out.  Bert Wayne had the most difficult role to play, the outlandish Adonis Adrenaline.  The role required a lot of over-the-top farce, including speaking with a distinct lisp, and this was clearly outside of Bert Wayne's comfort zone. 

As the night of the performance drew near, our excitement and nervousness grew.  Finally, we were set to perform in front of a live crowd.  The old High School Auditorium was packed, and we stepped onto the stage with fear and trepidation, determined to do our best. 

The performance was going well, but several people had some concern about how Bert Wayne would be able to do, since he had been somewhat uncomfortable with his role during rehearsals.  But when Adonis Adrenaline hit the stage, Bert Wayne came alive.  To say that he knocked one out of the ballpark that night would be an understatement.  He played Adonis perfectly; animated, outlandish, and hilarious.  The audience roared its approval.  They got into the play, actively booing and hissing as instructed during my entrances and exits.  They applauded robustly at the end, when the cowardly Lucifer runs screaming from the stage and Adonis and Beulah Belle live happily ever after.

One day, a few years ago, I had occasion to revisit that stage.  I was principal of the elementary school in Waldron, and since the high school had relocated to their new building, I had gone by the central office and gotten a key and was looking through what was left at the old building to see if there was any furniture we could use at our school.  Walking alone through the abandoned high school building, I found myself flooded with memories.  Every classroom that I went in, it seemed, held a special memory.  When I stood on the stage, all alone in the auditorium, it was the Junior Class play that came to mind.  In my mind's eye, I saw my good friends, in character, and in particular the pretty Marilyn Ferguson as Beulah Belle, in the dress that her mom had made her by hand for the part.  Marilyn had moved in from Kansas City the year before, and little Waldron High School must have seemed strange to her.  When her mother was showing her around the school, Marilyn looked up the hall and asked her mom, "Where's the rest of the school?"  She was perfect for the part of Beulah Belle, and poor Lucifer Lowdown, smitten as he was, had no chance with Beautiful Beulah.  

But I, on the other hand, who had only been able to summon the nerve to admire Marilyn from afar, had gone to our class' 30th reunion in 2004, and found that Marilyn was single, and had asked her the brilliant question as to whether or not she ever went to see movies, and discovered to my amazement that she did, indeed, like to go see movies.  So Marilyn and I began seeing each other, and quickly realized that we had a future together.  So finally, after a few false starts and too many years of being alone, I got to marry Beautiful Beulah Belle. 

Here's to happy ever afters.






Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sometimes It's Best To Say No

A rerun from last year.  But every bit of this is true...

I have always found humor in the absurdities of life.  That's a good thing, since my life tends toward the absurd more often than not.  I'm thankful to be healthy, happy, and loved.  Healthy, in spite of a few minor glitches that often accompany people at this point in life.

Several months ago, I had an incident of arrhythmia.  I'd had one six years before, but nothing in the intervening years.  The second one cleared up after about a day, but my cardiologist diagnosed it as atrial fibrillation and told me that, should I have another incident, I should come to his office while it was going on so that I could get an EKG.

Then, a month after the second arrhythmia, I had another one.  It came at a most inconvenient time, right in the middle of Final Exam week, as I was monitoring exams at the university where I work. But, dutifully, I immediately headed over to see my cardiologist as instructed, to get the vital EKG performed while I was fibrillating all over the place.

But when I got there, my cardiologist was on vacation.  And his nurse, evidently recognizing a Golden Opportunity when she sees one, had left for the day.  And when I explained what was going on, the attendant at the front desk, demonstrating the compassion of Nazi concentration camp guard, kindly offered to take down my phone number.

"You don't understand," I pleaded.  "I'm supposed to get an EKG while this is going on!  Can't someone back there at least do that?"

"We'll have to get the OK from your doctor first," replied Frau Spreckels. 

"OK.  I'm having atrial fibrillation, so I'm going to go to the emergency room now," I retorted, anticipating an immediate groundswell of sympathy.  But, nothing.

Then I remembered the 24-hour walk-in clinic that was downstairs, below my cardiologist's office.  "Well, I guess I'll go to Pro-Med.  They can probably do an EKG there, can't they?"

Frau Spreckels nodded in agreement.

So, I and my distressingly erratic heartbeat headed down the elevator and out of the building for the short walk over to Pro-Med.

But, the minute I walked out the front door, I heard someone say, "Excuse me sir.  Can you help us?"

I turned to see two nurses, or perhaps janitors, I'm not sure (who can tell; everybody wears those scrub things...), attempting to load a rather large elderly woman into the front seat of an SUV.  The dear lady was in an untenable position, suspended halfway between being seated in her wheelchair and fully upright.  When I was a little kid, we used to sing a song in the Booster Band at Waldron Assembly of God Church.  The song had to do with being fully committed in your Christian walk, and contained the lyrics, "Now when you're up you're up, and when you're down you're down, but when you're only halfway up your're neither up nor down." 

And that was exactly what was wrong with this dear, large, elderly lady.  She was neither up nor down.

And so, the nurse/janitors who were on either side of her, tugging vainly at her large, elderly arms, were in a pickle, and, seeing me walk by, asked for my help.

Now, what I should have said was this:  "Look, I would love to help, but at the moment I am in the middle of an episode of atrial fibrillation, and am in fact at this moment on my way to the emergency room.  The addition exertion required to get that old lady into that car would probably be the end of me.  So regrettably, I will not be able to help you today." 

That's what I should have said.  But I am the son of Abb and Alberta Yates, who ensured that it was genetically impossible for me to refuse a request for help, so what I actually said was, "OK."

I strode gallantly over to the SUV.  The dear woman was suspended there, half-way out of her chair, with the attendants holding on to each arm and someone who appeared to be her daughter alternating between encouragement and derision. 

"Just stand up Mama and turn around!"

"I cain't."

"Mama!  Stand up and scoot over to the car seat!"

"I said, I cain't!"

Now I have been in enough Desperate Situations to know one when I see one, and this was clearly one.  Now each nurse/janitor had her by an arm, and as she dangled there before me I realized that this particular Desperate Situation was not going to be pretty.

The only available real estate for me to access was, regrettably, the buttocks area of the dear, large, elderly woman.  But, recognizing the hopelessness of the situation, and needing to soon be on my way, I took the only action available to me.  I'm not proud of this, but it had to be done.  I gingerly put one hand on each butt cheek and heaved.

AND SHE CAME UP OUT OF THAT CHAIR.

I didn't have that old woman in any car yet, but I had her upright.  But now, the dear woman seemed unable to turn around and place her buttock region near the front seat.  She seemed frozen, and was not helped by the exasperated pleas from her daughter.

"Mama, turn around!"

"I cain't!"

"Mama, turn around and lean on the car seat!"

"I said, I CAIN'T!"

I knelt down and tried to physically point the lady's dear, large, elderly feet in the direction they needed to be in order for her buttock region to make contact with the front seat, but to no avail.  Those puppies weren't going anywhere.

By this time, another onlooker had arrived.  As the two nurse/janitors were talking with him, I did a cowardly thing.  I gingerly sneaked away.

I wanted to help, I really did.  But by now, a flop sweat had appeared, and I literally feared that I would be putting myself in serious jeopardy if I continued with what surely must be evident to all was a fruitless endeavor.

Fortunately, when I got to Pro-Med, the counter attendant was one of my former students (they're everywhere), so she got me in quickly to see the doc.  And I got my EKG, and I was having atrial fib, and I got referred back upstairs to see another cardiologist, and I'm fine now.  And amazingly, somewhere in all that, my sweet wife figured out where I was and came to be with me. 

"I was so worried when you called," she said.

"I'm better now; I tried to get an old woman in a car but she wouldn't budge."

My wife just looked at me.

You kind of had to be there.

And, I guess, somehow that dear lady got loaded into that SUV and went on her way. 

I tried; I really did.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Paul Martin, Scott County Hero


It was his smile that people remembered most, because Paul Martin didn't stand out in any crowd.  He wasn't much of a joiner in high school either; he played basketball in ninth grade, joined FFA for a couple of years, and that was about it.  He was quiet and unassuming, a country boy who enjoyed his life in western Scott County.

After he graduated from Waldron High School in 1965, Paul answered his country's call to service and joined the Army.  As a member of 23rd Infantry of the 8th Army's 2nd Division, he thrived, rising to the rank of Sergeant.  The 23rd Infantry was in the middle of the action in January of 1968, but not in Vietnam.  They were on the volatile border between North and South Korea.

The two countries had been in an undeclared war between 1950 and 1953, and the ceasefire that had been in effect since that time did not always hold.  Communist North Korea was determined to unify the country under one government; theirs.  In January of 1968, a carefully planned plot to accomplish that goal was put into effect.

In 1968, a team of 31 elite North Korean commandos infiltrated the south. Their target: the president of the Republic of Korea.
Photo courtesy of http://militaryhistorynow.com


 The plan was bold: a cadre of highly trained North Korean commandos would slip across the border into South Korea.  Once inside, they would pass themselves as South Korean soldiers, and gradually make their way toward the capital of Seoul.  There, they would assassinate the South Korean president, Park Chung-Hee.

Their training was intense.  They had to be able to traverse long distances carrying heavy packs, and they had to master the South Korean dialect to the extent that they could pass themselves off as South Koreans if they were challenged.  They were indeed an elite group of soldiers.

The plot worked surprisingly well.  After making it across the demilitarized zone separating the two countries, they made fast time.  They moved at night, mostly, and rested during the day.  But one day, as they were resting, they were discovered by four South Korean men who were out cutting wood.  But the commandos  had planned for such an event, and their orders were clear:  kill anyone who gets in the way.

But, for some unknown reason, the commander of the elite North Korean unit decided to instead try to convert the four South Koreans to the North Korean political ideology.  So there, in the frozen forest, a four hour discussion ensued.  The North Koreans had been taught that their neighbors in the south were oppressed, and that if given the chance, they would support the unification directed by the north.  Of course, this propaganda was not correct, but the four South Korean woodcutters gladly played along, pronouncing themselves proud communists at the end of the indoctrination session.  Vowing to keep quiet until after the ensuing revolution, the woodcutters were released.  They promptly sought out South Korean police, and told them of the invaders.

South Korea's presidential palace, known as the Blue House, was the scene of a desperate gun battle on Jan. 21, 1968.
Photo courtesy of militaryhistory.com
But the North Korean commandos were so well-trained that, even though their presence was known, they were still able to continue their mission.  Their goal was The Blue House, the South Korean presidential palace.  Relentlessly, they continued to make their way toward their target.

Their South Korean uniforms were perfect; their South Korean language and dialect beyond suspicion.  They were stopped occasionally, by South Korean military or police officials, but were able to bluff their way out of any questions.  In fact, they got to within 100 yards of The Blue House before anyone suspected them.

An alert South Korean police official challenged them at a checkpoint.  As he grew suspicious, he drew his gun, which caused the North Korean unit to open fire.  A horrific gun battle ensued, in the streets of Seoul.  A bus stopped at the checkpoint found itself between the North Korean commandos and the South Korean army, and almost everyone on the bus was a casualty.  The North Koreans, realizing their objective was lost, dispersed through the streets of the city in groups of two or three, with the goal of making it back across the border as best they could.  Most were killed immediately.  One North Korean forced his way into a house, and told the woman who lived there to fix him a bowl of rice.  Frightened, she complied.  The North Korean sat down at her table, consumed the rice, and then went into another room and ended his life.

North Korean commando Kim Shin-Jo at the moment of his capture in 1968.
Kim Shin-Jo, North Korean commando, at the time of his capture.

One of the North Koreans was captured.  Kim Shin-Jo was forced to reveal the plot.  In the years after his capture, he told of the brutal training that the commandos endured to get ready for their mission.  Interestingly, Kim Shin-Jo remained in South Korea after he was released from prison, eventually becoming a Christian minister.

As the North Korean intruders began to attempt to return home, American and South Korean soldiers along the demilitarized zone were put on alert.  They were to stop any North Korean from getting back across the border.  One of the soldiers manning a checkpoint was Sgt. Paul Martin.

The Associated Press newswire that accompanied the AP photo sent to papers across the country tells the awful story:


It is known that one of the commandos made it back across the border to North Korea.  It is not known whether this is the individual who killed Paul Martin, or whether it was some other North Korean hostile intruder who had crossed the DMZ.  At any rate, Paul Martin gave his life that cold January day.


Back home, the Advance Reporter carried the story.  The headline was "Waldron Man Killed In Action In Korea."  Here is the story as it ran in the Advance Reporter:

SEOUL - Sgt. Paul W. Martin, 21, of Waldron, who was killed January 24 in a gunfight with North Korean Communist intruders, was paid final tribute Monday by his comrades.

Two generals, Lt. Gen. Vernon P. Mock, deputy commander of the 8th U.S. Army and Maj. General Frank Isenour, commander of the 2nd Division, were among those attending services and saluting Martin at Kimpo Air Base.

A platoon from his unit, the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, stood on the airfield apron in subfreezing temperatures.  The division honor guard played a funeral dirge as Martin's aluminum casket, covered by an American flag, was borne to a bier, carried by six sergeants.

Capt. Clarence A. Olszewski, a chaplain, led the funeral procession and a short prayer.

Martin and other U.S. troops were trying to block off the remnants of a 31-man North Korean commando unit that slipped across the border and traveled to Seoul when he was killed.   Authorities say the unit's aim was to assassinate South Korean President Park Chung Hee.

Policemen from the Korean National Police blocked their efforts and U.S. troops from the 2nd Infantry Division launched a major effort to intercept them when they fled.  Martin was one of two Americans who were killed in encounters with the North Koreans.

Martin was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Martin.  Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.  

The next week's edition of the Advance Reporter told of the funeral, how Paul's body had arrived back in Waldron on Sunday morning, with his funeral on a Monday afternoon at Winfield Baptist Church.  Paul was buried at Oliver Cemetery with full military honors, including a 21 gun salute.

A few days later, the U.S.Navy vessel Pueblo was seized by the North Koreans, and the crew held captive for many months.  That, and the war in Vietnam, occupied the minds of most Americans, and the death of a brave soldier in Korea was soon forgotten.

But Paul was not forgotten by those whose life he had touched.  And the quiet boy from Winfield, who had made of himself quite a soldier, was saluted by generals and earned his place in history.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The GI Joe Mistake

A mortally wounded GI Joe is assisted by clones.
(In honor of GI Joe's upcoming 50th anniversary as America's favorite ACTION FIGURE, here's a rerun from 2010...)

 I blame it on the Sears catalog.  It was their yearly Christmas edition that featured the pictures of GI Joe, fully attired in his military gear, camping beside a flowing creek or fearlessly plunging headlong into battle.  It was 1964, the Vietnam War was raging, and young American elementary school boys were ready to do our part. 

In our family, our Christmas gifts were not normally a surprise.  We either picked out something reasonable from the Sears catalog or found something reasonable during one of our two yearly trips to K-Mart in Fort Smith.  That year, I was intrigued by GI Joe - America's Movable Fighting Man.  So, I showed Mama which particular GI Joes I wanted.  I picked out three; two Army GI Joes and one Marine GI Joe.  Odd, because the Yates' were Navy men.  I think I liked the uniforms.  The Sears catalog said they were wearing fatigues, a new word to me which I assuredly pronounced to Mama as "fat-ih-gyues."  So, the order was placed, and on Christmas morning of 1964 I excitedly unwrapped my three GI Joes, along with accessories.  They all three looked about the same; one had brown hair, one blond, and one had actual fuzzy red hair.  They all bore the same serious expression with the requisite scar on their right cheek.  They had guns affixed with bayonets; one had a phone-like communication backpack, and one had a little sleeping bag.

I tried to remember the scene from the Sears catalog...GI Joe was crouched over a campfire in a clearing surrounded by trees, a gentle creek flowing in the background.  Since I had no trees, no campfire, no creek, and no clearing, I set up the scene as best I could on the living room linoleum.  It was at that moment when it occurred to me that there was nothing really else to do with these guys.  Yes, you could bend the arms and legs and turn the heads, but other than that they pretty much just sat there. 

I thought they might be more fun if I played with them outside, where the background setting offered more potential.  But, one of the older neighborhood kids came by while I was setting up my GI Joes and erroneously pointed out that I was playing with dolls.  I was incredulous that he lacked the ability to differentiate between a doll and a movable fighting man.

 In spite of my lack of enthusiasm, I did feel it important to send off the form that came with my GI Joes and become an official member of the GI Joe Club.  After the GI Joe Club Board of Directors met to consider my membership, I received a packet in the mail which contained my membership certificate and official GI Joe dog tags.  Col. Pat Lawrence, Commanding Officer of the GI Joe Club H.Q., sent me this welcoming letter:

Welcome Buddy:


We here at GI Joe Headquarters are glad to have you aboard one of the newest and fastest growing young men's organizations in America.  Why just this month several thousand more GI Joe enthusiasts joined the ranks.

(Ah, I'd joined the ranks of a young men's organization...)

We hope that you will find an important place in your room for your membership certificate, that you'll use your ID card as sure proof of your membership in the club and that you'll proudly display your GI Joe emblem on your T-shirt or other article of wearing apparel.

(Never actually found an opportunity to use my ID card for anything.  I shudder to think what it says about me to note that I am still in possession of my membership materials some 46 years later...)

We here at the GI Joe Club will be in touch with you during the coming months with dependable regularity.  We'll forward to you news about the GI Joe Club and also news and bulletins about other club members such as yourself.  We'll also tell you from time to time about new GI Joe gear and equipment that will show you how to expand your hobby into all the exciting aspects of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps action.

(Actually, I never heard from them again.  Col. Pat Lawrence was undoubtedly called into more serious pursuits.  After all, there was a war going on...)


And so, my interest in my GI Joes progressively waned until it reached the point that I never played with them.  But one day, I came into the house and saw that my sister Janet had set up a little scene with her Barbie dolls, using some little boxes to create couches and chairs.  Barbie sat on a chair, and across the table from her was GI Joe, dressed in his fat-ih-gyues, evidently completely enthralled by the lovely vision of femininity that sat across from him.  Oh well, soldiers need a little R & R on occasion, I guess.

Click here to see an original GI Joe commercial from the 1960's.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Bow Wow

A rerun from 2011...

In the world of High School Journalism, Waldron High School surely had the student newspaper with the coolest name.  In honor of our beloved mascot, The Bulldog, our newspaper, the Voice of the Bulldogs, was of course The Bow Wow.  I have no idea who thought up that name, or even what year the Bow Wow first started.  But every month, a group of dedicated students churned out another edition of The Bow Wow.  And I do mean churned out; The Bow Wow was printed on a mimeograph machine. 

The Bow Wow was sponsored by Suella Ross (later Bratton), who taught typing at Waldron High.  The Bow Wow staff consisted of an editor, an assistant editor, an exchange editor, a business manager, two artists, two sports editors, and three groups of workers:  reporters, typists, and production.  The three groups were somewhat interchangeable; I was technically a typist but I got to do some reporting as well. 

Each month, we would meet together as a staff and make decisions about what we wanted to include in that month's edition.  The editor would assign various topics to different individuals, but if someone thought of something later on they could usually persuade the editor to include it.  We were given a deadline to submit our work, so that enough time would be left to type the individual pages.  We typed the paper on stencils, which were like ditto masters but a bit harder to work with.  The stencil consisted of a sheet of paper attached to a second, wax-coated sheet of paper.  When you typed the stencil, the impact of the typewriter keys made a wax impression on the back of the first sheet of paper.  This would serve as your duplicating master.  If you made a mistake, you had to take a knife and carefully scrape away the wax from the back of the page, and then make sure your page was still lined up correctly so that you could re-type over the mistake.  The typists always breathed a sigh of relief when a page was completed successfully. 

The next step was the production.  Each page had to be carefully attached to the drum of the mimeograph machine.  There was a little metal strip on the drum that raised up, enough to fit the top of the page under, and then it lowered back down to hold the page secure.  You would take your stencil, tear off the front page and discard the wax-covered second page.  Then, you carefully placed the master under the little metal strip on the drum.  You had to get it just right, or else your page would wrinkle when the drum turned, which could cause a young person to lose their religion if not extremely self-controlled.  But, if all went well, you could then crank out however many pages you needed.  Since we were a newspaper, we printed on front and back, so you would turn the printed stack of papers over and print the next page on the back.  Finally, after all the pages were printed, they had to be sorted and stapled along the left side of the page.  So, as you can see, the production staff worked hard!

Then, the fun part; selling the Bow Wow.  I believe we charged ten cents per issue.  The Bow Wow staff could get out of class to sell the paper.  We would all grab a stack of papers and disperse to all regions of school, some to elementary, some to junior high, and others to the high school classes.  Elementary kids were eager to buy the Bow Wow, even though there was almost never anything about elementary school in it. 

So, what was in the Bow Wow?  We had reports from various clubs, a little bit of sports news, occasionally some goofy survey where we asked lots of people some off-the-wall question and published their answers, poetry, a student-made crossword puzzle, occasional serious commentary about national or world events, and I even got to do a series of comic private eye spoofs.  Working on the Bow Wow was great fun, and we even learned a lot about teamwork and creativity, not to mention the importance of meeting deadlines.

But, alas, The Bow Wow is no more.  It went away quietly, no one seemed to even notice.  I don't know when it happened, actually.  It just ceased to exist.  I guess it was just a matter of time catching up with it.  High school students now have access to technology and coursework that is far beyond what we were able to learn.  And Waldron High is able to offer students training and experience in a number of high tech areas, at a level comparable with or above even larger school districts.  So, we shall weep not for The Bow Wow; it will live on in our memories, and in the copies that I've kept since 1974.  And maybe I can do a post sometime soon featuring exerpts from some of those Bow Wows.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Self Promotion Friday: Ten Things About Me

I've been seeing them for the last week or so, those ubiquitous Facebook posts in which people tell little-known facts about themselves.  Fascinating, they are, truly; I have enjoyed reading them.

So, since I have been so short of material for this blog lately, I'm taking my cue from Facebook and posting...

Ten Things About Me


1.  I have not thrown up since 1977.

Perhaps the accomplishment of which I am most proud.  I was in college at Arkansas Tech, living in prison-like conditions in a facility called Paine Hall.  Caught a stomach bug, middle of the night, made the tortuous trip down the hall to our community/prison bathroom.  Decided afterwards that the experience was far to unpleasant to repeat, and determined that I would not throw up again.  Has worked for almost 37 years.


2.  I did not see a movie in a theater until I was 21 years old.

I am very thankful for the way I was raised, but some of you youngsters today might have considered it to be a bit on the conservative side.  In my little church, going to the movies was considered a no-no.  So, I didn't go.  But, at age 21, I decided that I really wanted to see my favorite musical group, The Bee Gees, in their new movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The movie, considered by critics to be possibly the worst movie ever made, I found to be quite good.


3.  I Own Every Episode of The Andy Griffith Show.

On VHS tape, so what good is it?  But, I am a huge fan and in fact, the only area in which I consider myself to be near expert is Andy Griffith trivia.  I'm even a member of an official organization called The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Association.


4.  I am a twin.

Yes, most of you probably know that already, but I'm trying to come up with 10 of these things, ok?  I have a twin sister, Janet, who is 10 minutes younger than me.  What you might not know, however, is that my mom didn't know she was having twins!  So, when I was born, everybody was all excited and happy and then somebody happened to notice that my mom was not finished.  So, they sat me down in the corner somewhere and proceeded to assist into the world the first female to be born into the Yates family in 50 years or so.  Eventually, after the excitement settled down, someone remembered that there were two of us and, after a brief search, I was located in my corner and reunited with the family.


5.  I once worked on a garbage truck.

For a summer, in college.  Pretty sweet, actually; anything I found of value I got to keep.  That is, if the driver didn't want it.


6.  I like to do magic tricks.

For kids.  Only simple ones though.


7.  I've been to the World's Tallest Thermometer.

In Baker, California.  During a drive my wife and I made from Las Vegas to Oceanside, California.  Which brings me to my next item...


8.  I love the desert.

Although my wife hates it.  I was enthralled with the beauty of the desert on our drive; at times it seemed like we were driving around on the moon.  I guess I like it because the landscape is so different there than it is here.  But I do love it.


9.  When I'm introduced to new people, they almost always mention Bill Gates.

Which allowed me to come up with a good little laugh line, which I use whenever I speak to a group.  "The only difference between me and The World's Richest Man is one letter...and 9 zeroes!"  (Pause for laughter)


10.  I can't swim.

In fact, I'm quite afraid of the water.  My beautiful wife Marilyn can swim.  Our son Ross and his wife Maegan are excellent swimmers, as well as our daughter Laura and her husband Kip.  Even little granddaughter Kate, age three (almost), is totally fearless of the water and is on her way to swimming.  But not me.  I did, however, buy a snorkel and mask in the spring.  I thought about it all summer, and in September, on the last day Marilyn and I got in the pool, I donned my snorkel and mask, put ear plugs in my ears, and submerged my head underwater for what seemed like several minutes but was clocked by Marilyn at four seconds.  

Gotta start somewhere...