Monthly Archives: September 2014

Waybac Machine: 1963

fruitcake trailer leveling system
 I recently looked for some plastic trailer levels on eBay and found this interesting listing.
(Click to enlarge picture to read description)

As some of you may know from previous posts, I lived in San Angelo, Texas when I was a child. When I was 8 years old and in the second grade, I lived on Linda Lee Drive. Our house literally abutted the elementary school yard. My house was approximately 200 feet from my classroom. My classroom was a building to itself. So was the music room. I don’t know why. Although I could walk home in about 1 minute, I ate my lunches at school. I don’t know why. 
One day, we were all in the front yard (me, my 6 year old brother, 4 year old sister and my mother). My father had climbed into a tree in the front yard. I don’t know why. Over the years, as I remember him being in this tree I always thought it was age inappropriate for him to climb a tree. But he may have had a good reason to do, I don’t know. But recently I realized that at that time he was only 23 years old.
As a result of climbing this tree, my father was stung/bitten by something. He didn’t know what. So off to the hospital he went (well, actually it was called the infirmary). When he returned, he still had no definitive idea of what it was that had gotten to him but it was suggested that it could have been a scorpion. He was relieved that he did not have to endure getting a shot at the hospital. This was a big problem for him because he always felt faint when getting a needle or seeing blood. 
There came a time in which my brother and I were playing in the back yard and I had made a small see-saw by placing a board over a rock. We put things on one end and stomped down on the other to send objects flying across the yard. It was fun. Then, I placed a brick on the end of the board and stamped down on the other side to send the brick on its journey. Unfortunately, it didn’t shoot across the yard; it went straight up into the air and came down and hit my brother in the head. My parents opted not to bring him to the infirmary. I don’t know why. In any case, he got a big scar on his head and hair never grew on that spot again. 
On another day, I was whittling some wood or doing something else with a jackknife that an 8 year old probably shouldn’t be allowed to do. Not surprisingly, I had a mishap and managed to cut both my right index finger and middle finger in one fell swoop. It bled a LOT. My mother didn’t know what to do and my father was on the base. So she wrapped it in a facecloth and that was all the first aid I got. After a while, the bleeding stopped. I have a diagonal scar on my right index finger from that cut that is very obvious and is the full width of the finger. The middle finger got a slice whittled off and there is a half-moon scar on that finger that is also visible. 
The house in which we lived was a very small house. It had 4 rooms: a kitchen, living room and 2 bedrooms. My parents had a bedroom and my brother and sister shared a room. I slept on my parent’s bed until they finished watching the 11:00 news. After that, I was relegated to the couch for the rest of the night.
I remember to things about this arrangement:

1) For some reason I was usually awake for the weather at the end of the news. This is before fancy schmancy computer generated graphics, of course. The weatherman placed cardboard cut-outs of cold fronts, high temps and the like on the map by hand. Maybe they were magnetic. I don’t know. I liked the smiling sun that almost always was presented to show the weather for the next day. It was a safe bet that it would be sunny. It was Texas and it was always sunny.

2) Once the TV went off and I was left on the couch, mosquitoes would buzz around my ears and were very annoying. To fend them off, I would pull the sheet up over my head. But that didn’t work too well because it was often 90 or more degrees out overnight and covering up (even with a sheet) was not comfortable.
Every once in a while, my parents would have me sleep in my brother’s bed on a weekend night. I guess his weekday sleep was more important than mine. I don’t know why.

Squirrel Girl Revisited

Do you know someone who runs around in circles and calls out “I’m Circle Man!!!!!” No, I don’t either. But if I DID, I would wonder what circular thinking got the person into this cyclic whirligig of of spinning thoughts and spiral intentions.

Circle Man would obviously not be a particularly good super hero. Although he’s definitely be a lot better than Squirrel Girl. Squirrel Girl is a real Marvel Comics superhero. However, her super power is… communication with squirrels. Yes, that’s it. She can communicate with squirrels. Wow.

 Visit this silly cake  and see funny cake mistakes.


Chateau Travel Trailer Review

In regard to the travel trailer:

We recently took the travel trailer out for a 3-day stay at Pine Acres in Oakham, MA. We wanted to see what worked, what didn’t, what we anticipated needing and what we forgot. As it t turned out, we forgot a lot. Here are some notes:

I found the converter box, it’s under the refrigerator. This is where you find fuses and circuit breakers and it’s supposed to make a quiet hum when operating (I had to ask the guys at Mann’s RV Center if that was normal).

The refrigerator works well. So well that if you set the temperature too low, the stuff in the refrigerator will almost freeze. The freezer section also works well. It kept ice cream at the right frozen consistency. The refrigerator runs on electricity, propane or the battery. It automatically selects electricity if available. It can also be manually set to the desired source.

The hot water heater produces extremely hot water and is available by turning on the switch in bedroom below the closet. It can use propane or electricity to produce hot water. I think we’ve only used propane so far. l not sure. There’s a switch to the left of the water heater switch. I don’t know what it does.

There are wires running across the wall below the window in the bedroom at the head of the bed. They power some add-on white lights out on the frame of trailer. I’m not sure why the wires are where they are. I’m going to re-route them to make it look better.

The bedroom has two large closets. It also has cabinets high on the wall over the bed. Altogether, there’s a lot of storage space in the bedroom. The frame of the bed lifts up and provides access to the fresh water tank and a bunch wires and stuff that I haven’t really paid any attention to yet. I bought an air mattress to go over the 4-inch cushion mattress and it is comfortable for sleeping. It does, however, move a little too easily and can shift off the bed frame a little.

The exhaust fan in the bathroom is powerful enough to exchange the entire volume of air in the bathroom in about 10 seconds. I’m serious. The fan can also be used to bring in outside air and has a thermostat to control the functioning of the fan. The bathtub is small – not usable for an adult but would be great for kids 6 and under. The shower works well and the hot water is excellent.

There are a lot of overhead lights throughout the trailer. They’re bright and provide plenty of light. They’re placed in some very useful positions.

There is a lot of storage space in the trailer. I don’t think we used even half of what is available. 

There’s a built-in stereo receiver above the dining table. It comes equipped with a cassette deck. Yes, really. There are built in speakers in the main area as well as a pair in the bedroom. They can be selected individually or both can be on at the same time.

The dining table converts into a full size bed. We haven’t seen this sleeping option set up yet. There are 2 bunk beds in the back of the trailer along with a good size closet. The bunks are to the left of the bath. The couch also converts to a full size bed. The bedroom has a full-size bed so technically the trailer can sleep six. But it would be very congested.

The trailer has two taller than average propane tanks that provide fuel for heat, hot water and gas for the cooking stove.

The trailer’s heater works well and can heat the trailer up to temperature in a very short of amount of time. It has a thermostat that controls both the heat and the air conditioning. There are a few throw rugs on the floor that have to be pulled back off of the heat vents to allow the heat to come up but they’re optional and aren’t really necessary.

The stove has three gas burners and an actual baking stove. It works well and can accommodate a small pot and two fry pans. It also has an overhead vent. It doesn’t vent outside, it just runs the vapors through a filter.

Above the stove is microwave. It’s broken. It’s just a regular small microwave and easy enough to replace.

The windows in the trailer are casement windows with the exception of one slider in the bedroom. The windows don’t open very much, perhaps about 8 inches or so. I don’t think they’ll provide much air circulation when it’s warm out.

For its age, the trailer looks good on the outside. There is a storage compartment in the rear left side of the trailer for the jack, tools, tire chucks and other outdoor equipment. The door lock didn’t work so we put a new one in.

The awning needed some repairs to function. Unfortunately, the mechanical failure that was broken on the left side became broken on the right side. We’ll have to address the issue before the awning can be used. Also, the awning itself is becoming detached form the trailer on the right side.

Before taking the trailer out to Pine Acres, we had a weight distribution system installed as well as a sway control apparatus. The weight distribution system is easy to install and uninstall but the arms are very heavy to hold in place as you secure each piece to the frame. The weight distribution system is very effective in keeping the truck level instead of having the rear of the truck be lower than the front due to the weight of the trailer being borne solely by the back of the truck. I haven’t attached the sway bar yet because we haven’t driven it on a highway or at any speed greater than about 45 miles MPH or so. Along with the weight distribution system came a really heavy duty trailer hitch. The hitch itself weighs at least 40 pounds.

The trailer came with an electric front jack. It only worked once then stopped functioning altogether. We had to replace it. Also, the battery was no longer able to hold a charge and we replaced that as well. One of the four corner stabilizing  jacks came apart and we had it fixed. The electic connector to the trailer brake lights had a missing pin (the one that controls the trailer’s brakes) so we had a new cable installed.

We needed a controller for the trailer’s electric brakes installed inside the truck cabin near the steering wheel. The trailer brakes take much of the load off of the truck’s brakes when slowing and stopping. 

Parking the trailer at home was a parking ordeal the first time I tried it. I had to pull back and forth a dozen times or more to turn the trailer around and park it in a position that would allow it to be hooked up and driven straight out of the driveway. The second time, I cleared a few things around the periphery and discovered that I actually had enough room to simply loop around to park it facing outwards. That was a great discovery.

In all, our trial stay at Pine Acres was a success. Although it wasn’t a relaxing vacation kind of stay at a campground, it did give us the information and learning experiences needed to take the trailer out for a real camping vacation in the future. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to take it out again before the weather gets too cold but if the opportunity arises, we probably will.

A Story of the Mid-Sixties.

Mango Dog Experimental Music.

This post doesn’t really have anything to do with Mango Dog. I just found this embellished version of the drawing and wanted to share it.

A Sad Story

When I was 11 years old, my family moved to Texas. Actually, I should say we moved back to Texas. We had moved there previously when I was 7 years old and returned to Massachusetts after a couple of years.

When it came time to move back to Texas, I remember that my grandmother (who was always referred to as Memere) was very sad to know we were leaving again. She had expressed this quite a few times. Specifically, she was sad to see me go. She liked the rest of my family and all her other children and grandchildren, but I was her favorite.

My mother once told me that I was her favorite (therefor validating this to be true) because when my grandfather (Memere’s husband) died in 1957, Memere “transferred her love to me.” This idea of love being transmitted occurred at a time when I, along with my pregnant mother and younger brother, lived with Memere in her house while my father was away in Korea busy protecting the world form communism by being a radio DJ.

If Memere transferred her love to me and my mother had an awareness of this psychological transference, it was an unprecedented intuitive and insightful observation that my mother would never again in her life demonstrate an ability to repeat. Besides only completing the eighth grade in school, she’s never been particularly aware of other people’s feelings or motivations. I don’t know who first suggested this “transference of affection,” but I doubt that it was my mother.

I’m not sure why there needed to be a reason that Memere favored me. She just did. Perhaps people needed to find a cause to go along with the effect so they could explain how it was that they didn’t become the favorite. However, if the transference effect was valid, why were there more pictures of Memere and me during the years her husband was still alive than pictures of her with anyone else? Those would have been pre-transference years, right?

I believe I was Memere’s favorite because we had an unusual connection, one that couldn’t easily be explained. Our relationship was special and it lasted 44 years. I never thought of the relationship being unusual in any way and would not have thought that I was being favored if other people didn’t subtly (and sometimes jealously) suggest that I was.

It was in 1966 that we learned that the Air Force was transferring my father back to San Angelo, Texas. We had to drive to Texas (a three-day journey) because my father’s rank at that time didn’t provide the relocation assistance that would come to him later in his military career. His low rank of Staff Sargent meant that the Air Force wouldn’t pay for him to fly his family to his new assignment location nor pay for the moving of his personal effects.

So, on a clear sunny day in the summer of 1966, we packed up the car and were ready to begin our journey. In those days, seatbelts weren’t always included in the back seats of cars so the three of us kids rode from Massachusetts to Texas without wearing seat belts. But I’ve gotten ahead of the story a bit.

As one might expect, we had to go to the gas station to fill up the tank with gas before starting our Texan Trek. We went to the Texaco station on Main St. back in the days when gasoline sold for 0.24 a gallon.

Memere was so distraught about our departure that she followed us to the gas station in her own car just to have a few more moments with us before we left. She didn’t actually get to be with us, she just watched us from her car as we filled the tank. My parents were irritated with this and verbalized their annoyance. This was confusing to me at the time.

Then, as we drove away, I stood up, turned around and waved to her from the back window and she waved back. It was the only time I was ever upset about moving. I felt that I was being separated from the one person who had ever given me unconditional love. Of course, I was 11 and wasn’t able to actually understand the concept of unconditional love but I knew how I felt and I felt a sadness I had never experienced before. I was powerless over the situation and it seemed as though I was being stolen away.

When I think back to that time and see the scene play out in my mind, I don’t see Memere waving goodbye to me. I see an 11 year old version of myself waving back to her through the glass with no expression on my face. Just a hand waving back and forth and becoming smaller and smaller as the car got farther and farther away.

Travel Trailer – 2

I removed all of the out-dated window treatments in the trailer. Wow, what a LOT of hardware to remove. I got the awning down, but it was impossible to roll back up. We’re going to bring the trailed to Mann’s RV Center in Oakham and have them check out a few things. The air conditioner needs attention as does the vent fan in the bath. The awning is the last thing – I’m not sure if they can fix it. I’m thinking not. We may need to buy a new one. Got the new battery, though. The fun part will be getting stuff to put in the trailer…dishes, coffee maker, etc. We’re hoping to take it out in a week or so and spend a couple days at a nearby campground to give it a trial run.

Travel Trailer

We bought a travel trailer. Yes, we’ve been ooking at them for a while and almost bought a new one a week or two ago. But we came across a really great deal on a used one. It’s in fantastic condition.

travel trailer
I haven’t actually towed it anywhere yet. The person we bought it from towed it to the house for us because we dont have a trailer hitch.  We’re having some work done on the truck to better distribute the weight of the trailer. Also getting the brakes and electrical hookup to truck checked out. It also needs a new battery. After it’s ready, we’ll take it somewhere local for a test run. Fun!