Snuffed On

I dip snuff. (Copenhagen Regular Cut, for those snuff aficionados out there, who may have inquiring minds)

There! I admitted it!

cope

Finally!

After so many years of being a self-tormented closet snuffer’er I have finally come out.

I feel better.

Whew! One less load to carry. One less ax to grind. One less ass to bare. One less woman who may have been considering me with a favorable eye… Well, three out of four favorable results will get you into the Hall of Fame.

In Baseball.

‘Tis a habit I acquired whilst in BUD/s Class 140, circa 1986.

For some uninitiated: That stands for “Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training”  SEAL Boot-Camp, if you will: Class 140.

Yup. I was almost a SEAL. Twice. But more on that in a later post. Maybe.

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“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”–W. Shakespeare

In 1971 when my step-sister Madelyn and I were fourteen and thirteen respectively, my parents would often go out of town on the weekends. My father and stepmother seemed to always have some magic convention or gathering to attend in Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, or any number of other venues. My father knew all the local high school kids from his directing of the senior plays every year. Two of the former graduates, Ronnie and Doug, then about twenty years old, remained very good friends of my father and particularly Ronnie, (who was Peanut’s Uncle). My father decided that Madelyn and I needed a ‘baby-sitter’ while he and Gloria were off on their long weekends, so they paid Doug and Ronnie to look after us.

Now mind you, Madelyn and I were both pretty certain we were over-mature for our age and could easily fend for ourselves, but we loved having two “big brothers” to help us throw the greatest parties in the history of Honey Grove while under their tutelage. We used Marcom Manor as our venue of course and were always in a rush to get the house back into some semblance of order before the folks returned, usually on a Sunday, but occasionally on a Monday or Tuesday.

During Labor Day Weekend of 1971 my parents were off to a big convention in Houston and we had a great party planned for Sunday the Fifth of September. We were to have ‘The Mother of All Parties’ out at Lake Coffeemill, north of Honey Grove. (The party was going to serve double duty for me, as my fourteenth birthday was just five days away.)  Right up until the night before, I had no date lined up for this all-day Blow-Out, and I was in a panic.

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“A Queendom! A Queendom! My Horse For A Queendom!

When I was a young teen, freshly discovering the Joys of Puberty, I had an Ant Farm.

(Early Puberty does strange things to Not quite still Boys, but not quite Yet Men.)

silly ant

Not one of those green and clear plastic toy ant farms. Oh, Hell No. This was hand-crafted and from fine pine two-by-fours. Two panes of 3/8” plate glass measuring thirty by twenty-four inches seated in the painstakingly mitered channels of the wood sandwiched the heavy Plaster of Paris block inside. In which I had meticulously carved all the ant-sized tunnels and oval shaped ‘ante-rooms’ for the ants to place the larvae and store the rations for a winter that would never come. For these were domesticated ants—house ants, if you will—I had willed them such. These tunnels and carved out spaces were painstakingly coated with clean sand using a strong, but non-toxic well-cured epoxy.

It seems I had always been fascinated by ‘every creeping thing… and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds…’ And ants were always at the top of my ‘Creepeth Hit Parade.’ Once I had my initial stock, I spent many a happy hour studying their daily perambulations. I loved them dearly.

“Yes Elizabeth, ‘tis a strange one, this boy…”

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UnderWater Skiing

This Bit is somewhat of a ‘Trailer’ for a rather longish post which I will be publishing presently  soon maybe next week.  Gentle Reader, I do hope it piques your interest.

ski2

During my sojourn in Lake Charles, Summer of ’77, Kim’s girlfriend introduced us to her sister’s beau. His name was Tim Castille.  Tim was a great guy, with a mild and affable demeanor,  and we all used to hang out together, which was surprising since Kim usually didn’t want to hang out (socially anyhow) with any “Non-Brothers,” i.e. not Kappa Alphas—whatever. Perhaps the reason Kim made an exception in Tim’s case was because Timothy was the owner of a shit-hot high-speed-rocket-on-water of a ski boat.

As you may imagine, Tim was a first-class water skier and he only used one ski—there is a word for that—oh yeah, “slalom.”

Since I was the only schmuck who didn’t know how to water ski, it was decided one day that it was high time for me to learn. Probably was “high-time” because we tacked into this windy epiphany while blowing dope. Down to the river we went. After being briefly briefed on the basics of water skiing by Tim, I found myself bobbing up and down in the Calcasieu River, two feet locked into a single ski, holding onto the end of a long rope behind about 300 horsepower of snorting, sputtering, idling, chomping-at-the-bit Evinrude outboard motor. (If you have read my Post, True Grit, you probably have figured out by now that anything I have to do with horses, whether one or two or three-hundred, is a bad idea)

Being fearless (and stoned) I decided this was exactly the right place for me to be and at exactly the right time.

The “crew” of the ski boat called to me asking if I was ready. I waved back with one hand, assuring them, that yes indeed, I was enthusiastically ready.

Tim lit her up and away we went.

Kinda.

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Camping with Gene, Peanut, and the Signifying Monkey. Running the Trotline. And of the Sisters I Brought to the Soirée

Continuation of The Bow Fishing post…

 One Saturday afternoon much later that spring, Peanut and Gene flushed me out of the old Pool Hall which was located on Sixth Street in a rundown building just off the square in Honey Grove.pool-hall

“We’re goin’ camping out to The Lake,” Peanut announced. “You gonna come, or what?”

“Kinda short notice,” I said. “I don’t know. It’s Saturday afternoon, and soon it’ll be Saturday Night, and I was gonna get dressed up and go ‘Dear’ Hunting.”

“Okay, fine then,” Peanut said gruffly. “You go chasin’ tail, but I doubt you’ll catch any. If you change your mind, we’ll be at the old boat ramp. Just don’t show up empty-handed. Me and Gene got all the gear and food an’ shit, but you gotta bring something if you wanna join us. Them what works, and brings, eats.”

A word about Gene here: He was also a sophomore, like Peanut, but to look at him, you’d think him more a junior, or maybe even a senior on a rough day. He stood about six-three and weighed probably two-ten; a big guy. He had slightly long (in the style of The Seventies) red hair and a rugged looking, yet somewhat boyish face, rolled into one. His speech was slow and deliberate. And rare. But he was not ‘slow.’ He had an intelligence and a manner I found most admirable. Not really what one would call a ‘gentle giant,’ but close. He was never boastful, as Peanut and I were often wont to be. I never saw anyone cross Gene, save for a few idiots from out of town, and much to their misfortune.

“Okay, fair enough,” I said and went back in to my game of Nine-Ball.

The Pool Hall (Euphemistically, it was “The Honey Grove Gaming Center”) was not an establishment that most parents allowed their kids to frequent. It was seedy & sleazy and much gambling went on there. Of course I loved it. I didn’t consider hustling pool as gambling per se. To me it was just a way to supplement my other sources of income: working for a local rancher, building fences, or hauling hay. A vocation, if you will, but also a very pleasing avocation as well.

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‘The Time Has Come,’ The Walrus Said, ‘To Talk of Many Things: Of Murdered Birds, Of Turtles Green, and Hippies Sellin’ Rings.’ -With Apologies to Lewis Carroll

peobody

“Nap time!”

That hated time.

That dreaded time.

That feared time.

Why?

Because I did not know my left foot from my right foot.

You see, during “Nap Time” I had to remove my shoes and I could never figure out which shoe went on which foot.

Made no difference to me if I woke up and put the left shoe into the right mouth, but it did seem to matter a great deal to my kindergarten teacher. She would grow livid if one of her charges got the whole shoe business wrong. Well, good for her and bless her heart.

“Your shoes are on the wrong foot. Doesn’t that look funny to you? Doesn’t it feel uncomfortable? Don’t you feel like a fool?”

No. No. And, No.

I cared not.

However, being eager to please and wont to have no drama hurled in my direction, I made an honest effort to figure out the ‘whole shoe business’ just to make my life easier and less complicated.

Since I, until this day, cannot discern right from left, (or find my wayward way about my home town—pop: 1800) I came up with what I thought was a semi-brilliant plan: When nap-time came about, I would remove my shoes and carefully place them on the floor and slide them underneath my cot in exactly the same configuration that they had whilst my feet were wearing them. I surmised that once awakened, I could roll over, sit up, and by placing my feet just the same way as before I had retired, find the shoes exactly as they had been. Good theory, but I was never quite certain if or not, some Evil Shoe Satan had trifled with my shoes whist I was sleeping and therefore, did not know (with absolute certainty) if my shoes were still in the same configuration where I had left them and hence, if they would go back on in that same same configuration I needed.

I hated nap time.

Or, more accurately: the waking up from nap time.

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Bow Fishing

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The downpour finally stopped. It had been raining heavily for most of the morning—buckets of rain—‘A tall cow pissin’ on a flat rock.’—‘Rainin’ cats and frogs’, a real ‘chunk-floater’.

Then suddenly the clouds parted and a brilliant sun emerged. The air was now still and clean-smelling. The thunderstorm had been about average for Texas, which meant tumultuous, fast, and furious. I stared out the window of the senior English classroom where I was imprisoned, listening to Mrs. Whitley drone on about dangling participles, comma splices, bibliographies, or some such. It was early spring. I checked the clock on the wall: Five minutes until the bell rang, ending my boredom and releasing me for the lunch period. I love northeast Texas in springtime. Springtime in Texas is no time to be stuck in a moldy old High School classroom; not when there are fish to be caught, baseball to be played, or especially cheerleaders to be lured into road trips to the lake or anywhere away from ‘civilization’:

“Let’s get out of here Baby! Let’s go to The Lake! We can score some Boone’s Farm and have ourselves a blast!”

Daydreams, about afternoon things…

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True Grit

Being a Native Texan, I decided to become a ‘Real Cowboy’ in the Summer of ’70, as opposed to being a ‘ranch hand’, which by the way is different and which, by the way, I was actually pretty damn good at a couple of years later.

cowboy

I’m talking ‘bout haulin’ hay, buildin’ fence (BoB Whar—Texan pronunciation), drivin’ tractors, feedin’ cows; chasin’ cowgirls, drinkin’ whiskey, you know: that sort of thing. But actually before I found my niche in western employment, I did dream of riding the open range astride a great galloping beast.

Here is how “that worked out for me.”

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Casspir The Friendly Armored Personnel Carrier

Fallujah.

Naturally.

Bumping along in a Casspir, a South African armored personnel carrier, on our way to Anbar Province, western Iraq. The year was 2007 and we were under attack.

Perfect.

Perfect? Yes. For you see, if you decide to get shot at in Iraq in 2007, the best venue for that is inside a Casspir. A Casspir is a big, white, heavily armored vehicle. During Apartheid, the South Africans needed such a vehicle; well, the White South Africans did anyway. The first time I heard of “Casspir” I was somewhere close to Camp Speicher, northern Iraq and this was to be my “commute car.”  I thought instantly, after seeing my first Casspir, that it was so moniker-ed because it was this big white thing and, being an American, immediately thought of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” I was wrong. There is nothing friendly about a Casspir, aside from the fact that he (it) will save your ass.

Casper_Commuter_Vehicle

Riding in a Casspir is probably one of the most uncomfortable things one can experience. The seats are small. The quarters cramped. The air conditioning nonexistent. The suspension sans shock absorbers. The windows, smallish, which open up just enough to point a rifle through, or perhaps allow a round to one’s head. The driver, usually a Wanna-be Rambo with poor grammar and a poorer sense of direction.

No fun riding in a Casspir.

Inside Casper

But on that day, back in ’07, just outside Fallujah there was no better place to be. Casspirs were often called the ‘Best Bug-Out Vehicles’ in Iraq.

 

 

 

First they shot at us with RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades). They fell somewhat short. Following up, they hit us with AK47 rounds. (Those didn’t fall short) Our PLS truck (Pallet-loading system) lost a windshield. Some of our “light-skinned” vehicles lost windshields and window as well. “Casper” got hit, but the rounds barely scratched the paint (Thank you South Africa). No one lost his life, but we were somewhat shaken and more than somewhat pissed off.

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Addams’ Family Values

Marcom Manor

You will undoubtedly notice the absence of one “Lance A. Marcom” in the list of family members surviving Ralph A. Marcom.  I was, after all, the “Black Sheep.” I have, since the publishing of this obit,

http://marcomthemountebank.com/marcomobit.htm

spoken to Bill Palmer, (Its author and actually a very good friend of mine now.) regarding this and he told me that it—ME—must have slipped his mind, as I was always thousands of miles away in some desert or similar out of touch “shit hole.”

Thanks Bill.

When my father met my mother he was studying French and Drama. That really couldn’t pay the bills, so he later (forced by his father) became a physician, but not before working as a Disc Jockey in almost every small-town hick radio station in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. He also had a late night TV show in Kansas City in the early Sixties, dressing up as Dracula or Satan, running horror movies and doing all the commercials (Think Elvira in reverse drag). I lived with him and my first step-mother there in Kansas City for a brief spell (before my mother hired a private detective, tracked me down, and kidnapped me back—another story how/why all that had to happen) and don’t remember much of it, except hating my ‘evil’ stepmother (she forced liver down me, which I found disgusting then, but love now.). Years later I discovered she wasn’t all that ‘evil’ and that the only reason she forced me to eat liver was that it was ‘good for me.’ Okay, maybe she was evil.

Anyway…

Many years later, after doing that nickel (prison ‘vernacular’) in Fremont and a short stint with my maternal grandparents in east Texas, I moved  in with my father in Honey Grove and second stepmother (most decidedly more ‘evil’ than the first, and in more subtle and damaging ways, especially for a boy who was ‘coming of age’ and with all the teenage angst that that manifests.)

My father had purchased a three and a half story Victorian house (circa ‘Texas Victorian’ 1880) in HG and remodeled it beautifully.

The place resembled the mansion inhabited by The Addams Family. Literally. Daddy (Texans always call their fathers “Daddy” even when they are in their fifties–don’t ask me why because I don’t know) was by then a proper doctor, but his passion was magic (anything to keep performing, it would seem) and he was very good at it. His specialty was ‘close up’ and he did become a semi-famous person, at least in the Magic Community. He also performed at Scarborough Faire, a semi-famous annual Renaissance Festival held in Waxahachie (Texas of course).

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