Sunday, June 27, 2010


This is about Rusty. My first real friend. He was a dog. Half cocker. Half bird-dog. Red in color.

Charlie Cable told my folks that a dog had appeared on his doorstep. Nice dog. Wondered if Don would like a dog. Of course, Don wanted a dog, that dog! Years before, Don had read a little "Bantam Book" entitled, Rusty. He was a red dog...and a fine one at that! I can still see the pictures of him, even the ones of him jumping over fences to goodness knows where! So, Rusty was my first dog's name. Loved that dog. Still do. He was kind of burnt orange all over, with a white patch on his chest! He had a face that needed no words to convey what he was thinking! Most of the time we thought the same things. Goin' runnin'. Goin' to the dam. Swimming in the river. Sharing many thoughts. Most of them too cerebral for me to understand.

He would greet me at the lumber yard, where my Dad worked, as I came home from school. They said he knew just when I'd be coming home....and he'd be there. God, what a friend!

Well, one day, we were walking to town, and a car came by. Why he was in the street, I'll never know. He was hit. He crawled to the front door of the pool hall. He crouched in pain. I reached to him. He snapped. Had never done that before. Shortly after that, he died. Several people surrounded us. I don't know who it was, maybe Woody Oliver, that picked him up, put him on his flat bed and took us home. I dug a hole in our backyard. Buried him there. Got a piece of lumber and carved his name on it. Drove it into the ground.

Never got another dog in Cedar Vale. My grief reached feelings I had never felt before and seldom since. It was like a whole chapter of my life had been torn away. And, it wasn't that I didn't want another dog, it was just that I didn't want anyone, or any dog, to be as close to me as Rusty had been.

Be it known that I've had many other dogs. Rusty was the first. Rusty was the best. Along with Jasper, Curtsey, Tallulah, Winston, A-Jay and Nellie!

Monday, June 21, 2010


The man's name was Harve Barger. He was a blacksmith in Cedar Vale. Wish I remembered more about him. I remember seeing him walk from his home "on top of the hill" all the way down to the blacksmith shop. Always wore overalls. They were ever so neat...and, if overalls ever had pleat, Harve's did! And, when he went home at night, they were a bit soiled, but always had a "creasiness" about them!

It's what happened between his walk down the hill and back up the hill that intrigued me as a young lad. I would visit Harve, at his blacksmith shop. Watch him pump up the coals with a long, curved foot pedal, until they were white-hot! Into those coals, he would put horseshoes, plows, branding irons, and other ranch/farm implements. Those branding irons. Harve customed-made several! He stamped those brands on long 2x8 boards, nailed to the wall. I recall seeing "Rocking Chairs, Lazy 8's, Circles, Bars, and Horseshoe shapes. Wish I had taken a picture of them. Even better, wouldn't it be something to know what ranches/farms they represented? As a side note, I remember the "hissing" sound, as Harve put red-hot metal into that wooden water trough~~! Steam would rise! How wonderful! Horses would be "shoed" right there in the shop... Harve would drive those horseshoe nails right through the horses' hoofs, seldom getting a negative reation! Some of us kids would take horseshoe nails and fashion them into a ring, worn when we knew "an enemy" was approaching!

The floor of the blacksmith shop. It was black! Soot black! To my knowledge, Harve never once swept the floor! Then, there was the time when I found a piece of chalk and wrote "Harve Barger" on one of his storage cabinets. Later on, Harve once said, "Don, remember when you wrote my name on that cabinet? "Yes," I confessed! He said, "Well, you know, that's been very useful to me. When people come in and say, "How do you want your check to be made out?" I'd say, "See that name on the cabinet, THAT'LL DO!" I tell you, I still get a "chill" out of telling that story! It means so much to me because, I'd like to think, it meant a lot to Harve!

Harve was short in stature, yet he work ethic and kind words to a little red-headed kid, took the word, STATURE, to an entirely new dimension!

Thanks, Harve, for keeping the memory fires a'burning!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Our local orchestra is rehearsing the 1812 Overture for our Patriotic Concert. As I heard the "cannon shots" at the conclusion of the piece, it reminded of this little story:

Once upon a "marching-band" time, I had selected excerpts from "1812" as part of our half-time show. Even had a bass drum next to the mike in the press box to heighten the sound of the cannon! And, at the suggestion of one of my stalwart band members, we decided to have a "small" fireworks display at the northeast corner of the field, during the "cannon firing!"

All was going well. The crowd oohed and aahed at the visual and the audio! However, the oohing and aahing suddenly stopped, as it became apparent that the northeast corner was ON FIRE! Hoses, fire extinguishers, and other water-emanating devices were used to douse the fire! At last, it was under control, just as the football team arrived on the field for the second half. To say the coaches were not pleased, would not totally capture this incendiary moment!

Conclusion to story: The coaches did not forget what had happened to their hallowed ground. On the following Monday, while the band was standing at attention, in block formation, for the roll count, the coaches turned on the entire sprinkling system!!!!! Yes, we were dampened....but not our spirits! However, in future performances of "1812," we used just the drum!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Testing comment moderation

Jay Mills and I are now moderating comments. Your comments will be posted after one of us OKs them. We are beginning to get random spam in the comments and we are trying to keep the CV site free of such interruptions.

I'll chime in just to let everyone know I'm "awake" in Panama. Please leave a comment about this and Gary or I will see, approve, and post it. Thanks, Jay (J.D.) Mills

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How I wish that I could......

How I wish that I could relive the moment we landed in Cedar Vale. We came from a town named Beattie. We arrived, and I'm not sure how, but we landed in the "Webb House." A fine house it was! It had a porch. Had a swing! Had an upstairs and a downstairs. Had a garage. Had a little rock garden out in back. Further, out in back, I buried the dearest friend I ever had, Rusty, my dog. (We will remember him in a later "post.")

My Dad was a lumberman. He was more than that. I learn from him, to this very day. Our arrival was not euphoria. Mom wisted for her former home while Dad seemed to welcome our new home! I had my own bedroom! The folks had theirs! I remember that the only tub, was the one we had upstairs! (For those of you of poetic bent, notice the rhyme! :) ) Well, we lived there, opulence it seemed~! We even had a fireplace! And, a "spare" bedroom for those who might visit! I remember a Church of Christ Revival, and the evangelist, who stayed at our home. He was one of those fellows who became "family" real quick! I remember, when he left, my mom and I went into the room where he slept, and there, on the pillow, was a cardboard card. He had left a note for us. I'd give a dollar or two to have that card. I just remember that he said "THANK YOU," in words I still remember. He signed his name. Proof enough for me.

Well, I ambled on here long enough! I have tales to tell..and eventually, I'll tell those tales! Just know that when the cicadas begin to sing their song, I long to be where I belong,
Cedar Vale....!