SMALL WISDOMS OF THE RED CLAY HILLS, THE RED CLAY VALLEYS

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 http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/SMALLWISDOMSOFTHEREDCLAYHILLS.mp3

or read his diary below:

SMALL WISDOMS OF THE RED CLAY HILLS, THE RED CLAY VALLEYS

The iron man is more than fifty feet tall, so he’s hard to ignore.

Sitting here in my uneasy chair, riffling through pages of a red clay diary, I can see the iron man outside the window, even when not casting my gaze his way. He’s in line of sight so much that I don’t realize I’m observing him. But I do.

This cast iron statue dominates the city and the valley 24/7, which means that locals ignore him. But visitors seeing him for the first time are attracted and puzzled. What’s that big statue all about? they ask.

Out-of-towners meander the streets and byways of the city, trying to find out how to approach the statue. A van full of family pulls up next to me as I pluck a morning newspaper from the front yard.

“Hey, how do I get to that big iron man on the hill?” the driver asks. I know exactly what he’s talking about and point him toward the man of iron’s domain.

Transients have never heard the iron man’s name, so the metal signs pointing to Vulcan Park are no help at all. Only we indigenous denizens know that the statue’s first and last name, his only name, is Vulcan.

Details about Vulcan are readily available to research, so if you do your homework you’ll be well educated. You’ll know more than I.

From my point of view, all I need know is that Vulcan is two years older than my home. He was cast in 1904, my residence was built in 1906. Both have endured storm and temperature and humidity and humiliation and rebirth a few times. But they still stand.

Vulcan’s inanimate gaze takes in everything and nothing, as does my animate gaze. Opening my eyes to the red clay city floods me with thousands of overlapping images that would take a lifetime to describe, a millennium to appreciate, an eon to wholly understand. And even then, the Why would not be clear.

Vulcan is a symbol of what each generation decides to emphasize. My home is an inexplicable sign that many lives have visited and vacated the premises. My easy chair in which red clay rifflings occur is a temporary structure that will persist with or without me.

It’s all like an iron asteroid that flashes nearby, momentarily appreciated, creating stirrings that soon settle and await the puzzlements to come

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

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THE ROGERS BOYS SAVE MY LIFE

Listen to Jim’s podcast:

 

 http://jimreedbooks.com/mp3/rogersboys.mp3

or read his tale below:

THE ROGERS BOY SAVE MY LIFE

 

Did I ever stop to thank you guys?

I know you’re all still hanging around, in film and video and literature and memory, but out of the four of you, I only got to express my gratitude to one.

 

Let me back up.

 

I’m thinking about the four Rogers Boys in my life: Will Rogers, Roy Rogers, Buck Rogers and Fred Rogers.

 

Will and Roy and Buck chaperoned me through my childhood in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Fred stuck with me after that, and to this day still nurtures me.

 

Will Rogers was funny, wise, commonsensical, more like a kindly uncle who saw through pretense and ego and managed to make me laugh at the scary and puzzling and daunting things that life dishes out. He found a way to see something useful and good in just about everybody he met, be they despot or beggar, politico or felon. At my best, I try to keep my head and think about what Will Rogers would have said about my predicaments.

 

Roy Rogers taught me his code of ethics. Through his movies, comic books, broadcast appearances and personal life, he set standards of behavior. His public persona was upright, he played fair even when others didn’t, he was open and giving of time to anyone who needed a helping hand. His private life was exemplary: his adopted family was diverse—way ahead of his times. Whenever I was in trouble, I’d think about how Roy would have acted.

 

Buck Rogers fueled my imagination and helped me see beyond the corporeal and gravitational strictures of being alive. He taught me to accept my wildest dreams as part of my reality. He introduced me to a futurist whose head remains in the clouds and whose feet stay firmly planted on the ground—Ray Bradbury. Buck Rogers taught me to let my mind run free, with the simultaneous realization that reality is always there to keep me stable and productive for family and society.

 

Finally, Fred Rogers walked with me for decades, and still does, reminding me to see the useful and good things about people and the world, all the while noting that things are never perfect. He was my friend no matter what mistakes I made. He was forgiving and instructive at the same time. Latch-key children throughout the world depended on him every afternoon, since he was the only adult in their lives who looked directly at them and talked gently with them, who gave them 30 minutes a day uninterrupted and non-threatening. I discovered him as an adult and recognized the latch-key kid within myself. I wrote to him and he replied, fortifying my observation that it’s ok to be strong and kind at the same moment.

 

Well, that’s what I think about the Rogers Boys. Go ahead—google them, study them, see what they have to say. Better still, adopt your own set of chaperones, people in your life who are so good and nurturing that you tend to take them for granted and forget to thank them till now.

 

I’ve been given much good advice in my life, most of which I resisted or ignored. But, luckily, the people I select to guide me in the long run, such as the Rogers Boys, are always there, waiting for me to grow up and finally listen

(c) 2017 A.D. by Jim Reed

jim@jimreedbooks.com

www.jimreedbooks.com

O BRAVEST OF BRAVE NEW WORLDS

O BRAVEST OF BRAVE NEW WORLDS OR THE VIRTUAL MIRROR-COMPUTER-TEXTING-GAZE OF THE LONG-LOST SOULS

 Are you really there, and am I actually present here?

It’s taken me years to almost adjust to the fact that when somebody seems to be in my presence, they often are not.

I walk into a fast-food restaurant and it comes my turn to order from the menu. The fast-food woman smiles at me, wide-eyed and focused on me…but not really, since I realize that she is staring at a computer screen that is at eye level, she’s reading off her questions, and she hasn’t once seen my face—nor will she.

The computer is me, to her.

I enter the living room to greet and chat with a grandchild, but she only screams in protest when I innocently turn the TV off in order to visit with her. I thought I was doing us both a favor by reducing distractions so that we can actually visit with one another.

She sees only the screen and wouldn’t know it if I were wearing a monkey on my head.

I’m being interviewed on a Cable TV show by an interviewer who never once looks at me, since she’s staring at herself in the monitor and adjusting her hair and angle the whole time.

After recording a number of my stories for broadcast on a Tuscaloosa radio station, I attempt to exchange pleasantries with the station manager, but I suddenly notice that he’s staring at his computer and clicking away the entire time he talks with me—he is responding to my comments with generic quips but doesn’t know what I am saying. I slink away and he doesn’t notice.

The game-play kid looks at his lap as he visits with me, his thumb moving the images around, never once looking at my face.

A texting teen stares enraptured at phone in hand and laughs at what she sees and what she transmits while almost listening to me but never knowing when the conversation has ceased.

The hospital orderly with pods in both ears looks at me but does not hear my question because the music he hears is the thing. I walk away uninformed.

The hospital nurse talks as she enters and reads from the laptop before her, never seeing me but appropriately answering my questions.

The man whose home I’m visiting watches his enormous television screen as we chat. He doesn’t see me at all.

I am the interloper, the real flesh and bone person who is no longer needed in these people’s lives.

In order to have them see me, I will have to become an entity submerged in their virtual world.

I see their flesh, they see my electronic self.

O brave new world.

Uh, were you saying something

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

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WE WHO HAVE WRINKLES AND SAGGIES SALUTE YOU

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http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/wewhohavewrinklesandsaggies.mp3

or read his tale below:

WE WHO HAVE WRINKLES AND SAGGIES SALUTE YOU

“I don’t like it when old people get skinny ’cause they always get these wrinkles and saggies and things under their chin.”

Everything I write is true, but this is actual.

I just overheard that remark in the diversity isle of a large store, a store teeming with customers of every size, shape, age, proclivity and background.

Yep, one woman delivers her stroke of wisdom to a fellow kinswoman, a kinswoman who nods sagaciously and totally agrees with her, “Uh huh.”

They continue talking and signifying as they troll rows of clothing, their analytical examinations of texture and shape and color and size and appropriateness consuming the time they have, expert observers of the ad hoc world they create for comfort and familiarity.

The stories I tell deliver themselves to me when I least expect it. All I do is weave them together in order to share their import with you. I guess this can be called, Being a Writer. Or something like that.

So, here I am, relating a tidbit moment without the permission or knowledge of these two people. Does this make me an eavesdropper, a spy? Or does this mean that, in the age-old tradition of storytellers, I am simply honoring the importance and meaning of an anecdote that might otherwise disintegrate into the rustling air of an anonymous store, where mysterious and meaningful events might never be noticed and inscribed for future generations?

Think of all the millions of people who will never have their moments archived.

The absent, the missing, the dead, the distant, the invisible, the ignored, all lose their moments when there is no-one present to notice, to appreciate, to stamp approval.

Those who cannot defend themselves against the stories I tell.

As the self-centered writer, I feel that my purpose is somewhat justified. All I am doing is taking a look around me in case I miss something important in the endless aisles of the day-to-day.

Wrinkles and saggies and all

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

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THE POPE OF SOUTHTOWN SERVES HIS FLOCK

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http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/thepopeofsouthtown.mp3

or read his tale below:

THE POPE OF SOUTHTOWN SERVES HIS FLOCK

I’m standing in place at Express Oil, awaiting my audience with the Pope of Southtown.

My burgundy beat-up bookmobile is giving me fits, but I am a person of loyalty—I will nurse and patch and compensate for this old vehicle till one of us rattles one last time.

While Burgundy Bookie and I stand in place, we gaze at the actions and interactions that take place in graceful but purposeful slow motion.

One longtime mechanic, Philip, moves among a flock of customers who depend upon his seasoned abilities. We are at the mercy of Philip and the other specialists who greet us and patiently minister to our mechanical needs.

One petite woman stares up to him for a blessing, “Oh, my car’s still doing that, that thing. Can you fix it?”

He smiles, stares off into the distance as if seriously contemplating the response he will eventually give. Like a good diagnostician, he pays attention to what the customer is saying. He takes his time to consider the correct answer.

At that moment, he receives a cellphone call, which means he is now juggling three cases at once—mine, hers and the tinny-voiced human in his palm. Yet other congregants await his ministrations. Each of us is the most important human on the planet in our own minds.

I arrive at Express Oil just twenty minutes earlier, when the lot is still barren. Now, suddenly, the customers are lined up and Philip is gesticulating, scratching his head, dispensing advice on what he knows and what he does not know and what he will eventually know and what he will never know.

In the long run, these healers of transport are all that stand between us and a broken mass transit system, who save us from random and unpredictable encounters with Uber and Yellow Cab and hitchhiking.

These shadetree sophisticates are part of our family, the family we need to make our clockwork lives run smoothly in spurts.

That’s why now and then I drop off a box of donuts or a fudge pie created by daughter Jeannie. You know, something for the offering plate.

George Carlin nailed it a long time back, “I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”

The mechanics of Southtown have just enough followers to last each day. And that’s always enough and plenty for us true believers

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

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