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Friday, April 18, 2014

Sometimes It's True: Things Happen 
For A Reason
(A Memoir)

In 1962, I had been in America (and in Villa Rica, Georgia) for two years and boys my age back then were expected to go out for sports and I was no exception even though I was still struggling with the language and the academics. What English I knew was picked up from my American dad and out of a dictionary, and the syntax wasn't always correct.

In school, I was okay for Germany but not okay for America. Math, for instance. Here they began by teaching fractions, in Germany I had just learned decimals; I knew my German history, but not much American. Reading, not too bad. I loved to read and there was the aforementioned dictionary to help with the words. I aced all my spelling tests and even once won a county spelling bee. Guess what - the dictionary again. I had seen those words so many times I knew what they looked like.

But back to sports ----- it wasn't that I wasn't any good at baseball and basketball, I was just not given much of an opportunity to play. I played at home a lot, a lot, and I was good with all my fielding and I could do all my basketball shots just fine, no problem.

But..... in practice and in real games, I was ignored and/or rode the bench. I rode the bench so much that people began to wonder out loud why the "German Boy" never got to play?

You know what the coaches' answers were? "We can't understand him, and if we can't understand him, how's he gonna understand us???" Deep South thinking at the time.

But no one asked the German boy who spoke English with a guttural accent and appeared to be so arrogant no one wanted anything to do with him. The accent I understood, but the "arrogance" was misunderstood as a reluctance to get involved socially because of ----- the accent.  A "Catch 22" before it was cool to say it!

So I chose music, something I could do on my own and be as good as I wanted to be. I played my drum in the high school band and in 1964, here came The Beatles and my starting to play drums in what was to be so many rock groups I can't remember them all. Thank God for The Beatles.

Music also did wonders for my popularity. By then I had lost most of my accent and put the "y'alls" and "ain'ts" in all the right places and I even had a girlfriend. I believe that's called "peer pressure". I called it getting one's ass kicked for being different.
So no sports, but drama (the theatre kind - not the teenage angst variety) and music - lots of music.
So am I bitter?
I was for many years, but I'm a damn good drummer, a fair guitarist and I've even done some community theatre.
I wrote this because my story isn't really all that unique when you think about it. Except for the name and the country, this could be any young immigrant kid.
If you know a kid or family with these problems, maybe you'll remember this and give them some encouragement, because things do have a way of working themselves out.
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From my memoirs 12.26.2013

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rest In Peace, Capt. Herb Emory

A good friend and band mate passed away suddenly yesterday. Here's the story from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution .

Herb and I were News Directors back in our "radio days", the 1970's. He at Douglasville Georgia's WDGL, and me at Carrollton Georgia's WLBB. We would call each other every morning to see if one of us had a story that the other could use. We used to joke about our use of the word "nearby" to localize the story: "In nearby Douglasville this morning........". Douglasville was about 22 miles away from Carrollton, so it was okay to use the story.

On slow news days, we had a running private joke: "In nearby Nome, Alaska this morning........" which meant neither of us had anything the other could use.

He and I also worked as "stringers" for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. If a story was news-worthy for the print media, we'd call the paper and dictate it after having rewritten it for print. We'd make $20.00 per story which supplemented our meager broadcast income.

After finally meeting, we decided we both liked the same music, and as he played guitar and sang and I played drums and sometimes rhythm guitar, we had the nucleus of a country band. We called ourselves The Sweetwater Creek Boys, and as you might guess, we played the "Outlaw" brand of country music. He especially loved the music of Waylon Jennings and it became his specialty.

On another sad note, I had scheduled Herb to speak to our Alzheimer's Association support group, due to the fact he had first-hand knowledge taking care of a family member himself. We were both looking forward to a reunion at his speech and afterward doing some "pickin' and grinnin' " here at the house.

I don't have that many real-time friends and Herb sure was a great one.

There are many tributes to Captain Herb, but one I read sticks in my mind: "He was not only an Atlanta icon, but a Georgia icon as well."

Rest in peace, dear friend and thank you for the many good times we had together. I will miss you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

More Memoirs..........Ever Eat Newspaper?............Another Symptom?

I got to thinking a few days ago ( I think that's when I was thinkin') regarding my memoirs and my inclusion of them here in the blog, and I came up with the following answer: These will all be my memoirs one day, right?

Also, it may help the reader get to know me better, and I believe that's a good thing.

By the way, I think that making my blog public was also good in that I have seen an increase in visits/readers, so thanks for that idea, Eileen!
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Sooo. Ever eaten newspaper? I have and it was during the time I lived with my Grandmother in East Germany, which was, at that time still under Communist (Russian) rule. My Mother had contracted Tuberculosis during that time and my American Dad wasn't able to take care of me, so off I went to Zeitz, where my Oma and four uncles lived ----- in abject poverty.

I have written before in this blog about our living conditions (3 to a bed, the rats, the filth and the lack of food), so I won't bore you with that again, except to tell you that when we did have food, we were expected to eat all of it ---- all of it. An apple, for example when finished, should only have the stem and the seeds left. The cheapest cut of meat was pork and we ate every part of the pig but the "oink". This included sucking the marrow out of each bone.

I hope I haven't ruined your lunch? No? Okay, weiter geht's ("on we go").

I have also written about my thievery during those times. Eggs, mostly, but sometimes potatoes, cabbages and carrots. My uncles and I were never prosecuted, but were ordered to work with the farmer from whom we stole, and he, being a kind man, fed us there and always sent home enough food to feed all of us.

Still waiting on the newspaper-eating, aren't you? Okay. I won't keep you in suspense any longer.

Because I was the youngest in the family (5) it was important that I be fed first, but sometimes there was just no food and we all had to resort to going to the nearby Russian camp to beg for bread or whatever leftovers there may have been.

I don't know which of my uncles had the great (?) idea that newspaper, which used to be trees, but which was mulched down into paste, might take up enough space in my tummy to ward off hunger pangs, and at that time there was plenty to be had in the form of advertising and flyers and such. So that's what we did: I was given some newspaper paper to eat sitting in front of the local elementary school with an empty coffee can for a few "Kroschen" (ten pennies).

It worked. I felt sated for a time.

When school let out, there I'd be, stuffing my face with newspaper and with a big ol' grin on my face. The kids (especially the girls) thought it was cute and sad at the same time, and dropped a few coins in my can and that went for whatever little my Oma could afford to buy. She worked part-time at a nearby bakery, and every now and then, after work, the baker would give her a little of whatever bread, rolls, and (yum) pastries which weren't sold that day. On those days, we ate like Kings (and their Queen).

What we didn't realize at the time, was that the ink on the paper was actually poisonous and if consumed in too large a quantity could set up serious intestinal problems - not to mention blacken my teefs. So when I began to vomit, we stopped it for a time.

Luckily, I didn't have to do that for too long because two of my uncles had been hired by the guy we had stolen from and began bringing home enough to feed all of us.

So there you have it. Am I proud that we had to resort to this to feed me? Hell, yeah! We did what it took to survive, and here I am able to tell you about it - so yeah, I'm pretty proud of all of us - thieves, beggars and one eater of newspaper.
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So now I want to tell you about a new symptom I just discovered a few days ago, which I hope you find as hilarious as I do.

I went into the kitchen to fix myself a little midnight snack of some cold cuts, and as I was laying them on the plate, I told myself, "Don't forget the mustard", and I told myself this all the way back to my bedroom without the mustard. I just sat there, shook my head and smiled. "So it's come to this now", I told myself.
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Please remember to click to feed homeless animals and remind yourself to do it every day. Thanks! Bill The Animal Rescue Site

Monday, April 7, 2014

Howdy....... New Settings.......Going Home Again........ And Stuff

Howdy!

Sorry it's been a while, but as in real life, when I have nothing to say, I tend to keep my pie hole shut.

It's been "same ol'same ol' " for quite a while, but if you know of my daily activities then you are pretty much up to date. Till now.
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Some of my friends who read the blog on a regular basis, have told me they haven't been able to "get in" due to my "by invitation only" setting. This has now been changed to "Public View" and my apologies to Eileen and everyone else I inadvertently shut out. The previous setting was because I was getting some mean-spirited comments which I thought could be seen by everyone else, but I had forgotten that I can control the comment content. So D'oh!

One thing I need to advise you about: you'll see a menu item advising you you're headed into "adult content" territory and do you still want to enter? As the heading states, it is "mild adult content", so suit yourself. No porn, I promise!
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I'll be going home to Germany in September for two weeks. I used to only go for maybe 7-10 days, but that was while I was working, so this time I was able to schedule myself for a bit more time to relax, meet my family, some new friends and old friends. The new friends will be the band Copper Smoke an alternative country rock band based in Germany and I hope to be able to actually sit in on the drums with them. Copper Smoke and another new friend, Markus Rill 
have had their music featured here on the blog and I will be looking forward to hopefully meeting Markus as well. He has a tight tour schedule, but I located myself close to his gigs, so I hope it works out for all of us.

As some of you know, music is my passion and it will be a great treat to play and talk in person to some fellow musicians, which I have not been able to do since my diagnosis in 2008.

Pictures and video will be featured here. I can't wait and have already begun writing up my packing list and activities.

I had mixed emotions about the trip, because as I stated many times, I don't like to go into debt for a vacation. However, after giving it a lot of thought, I thought to myself, "Why not? Who knows how much longer you'll be on the planet, so go for it!"

So I'm going for it!
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This entry is about going back to college at age 64. In a previous post, I mentioned that I wanted to apply here at The University of West Georgia, my Alma mater, to finish up some courses, but that I can't get a straight answer about the costs involved. One entity says, "The courses are free, but you'd be liable for over $900.00 for activity fees." The governing board of the State University System says, "Everything is free except lab fees and books."

So I am at a standstill. I've contacted my congressman, but as yet I've received no reply and that's been 5 months ago. I do have some friends in the University here, and I'm going to contact them to see what they can do to help.
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That's it, my friends. As always, please help me feed unwanted animals by clicking the link below. Thanks, and I love you guys!

The Animal Rescue Site