2016-12-10 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

BY HOWARD ‘MAC’ MCDONALD

Three emails popped into my inbox last week telling me it was Cyber Monday. I always thought Monday was wash day.

When I was a youngster, I always put the water in my mother’s copper boiler and heated it on the coal-fired cook range in the kitchen. When the water was boiling, I used a water bucket and transferred it to the old Maytag ringer washer.

When the weather was good, she washed the clothes on the back porch. If the weather was not cooperating, we moved the washer into our kitchen. I then refilled the boiler and heated it for the rinse.

A galvanized wash tub was also used in her wash day procedures. She had a tomcat called Tom and he would sit on the kitchen windowsill and watch her every move.

One day I was cutting the grass in the back yard and old Tom lost his balance and fell into the Maytag. I ran to his rescue, but I did not know how to shut off the washer so I called to Mom. By the time she got to the washer, old Tom had taken a beating from the agitator.

When she got him out of the washer he was irritated but he allowed her to dry him off. When she put him down, he put it in four-wheel drive and ran to the big elm tree in the back yard and climbed clear to the top.

He stayed up in that tree until supper time. When I called the dogs to feed them, he came down and took up his regular position in the kitchen. I never saw him again on the kitchen windowsill.

By the way, what is Cyber Monday?

The radio stations have been playing Christmas music ever since before Thanksgiving. By the time the holiday gets here, the public will have had enough of Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. There are just two weeks until Christmas. Where did 2016 go? Time marches on and there is not much one can do about it. I guess I ought to be happy that I am staying above ground. According to the obit section of Endeavor News, it looks like the grim reaper has been working overtime. With the cost of a funeral and burial, no wonder so many people are being cremated. As volatile as I used to be, when they stick me in the oven I will probably explode.

When temperatures dip down into the 40s here in the Valley of the Sun, the locals bundle up like Eskimos while I am comfortable in a sweatshirt and jeans. Flagstaff got eight inches of new snow last night. That helped the ski slopes and the plows were busy on I-40. Flagstaff is a tad higher than 7,000 feet. You never know what the weather will be like at that altitude.

The population of Cameron County and Potter County is on the decline. One reason is that the young folks don’t stick around. It is easy to figure out why. After high school, their social life decays in a hurry. There was a time when downtown was a hub of activity. Today there are empty stores and empty lots. There are no silver bullets for rebuilding a community. This is happening to small towns all across America.

Well, Pennsylvania’s deer season is over and I missed being able to participate. It was never about the hunting for me, but rather the good time and camaraderie. So many old memories flashed through my mind of my first days as a hunter and the things that my Dad passed on to me.

Another December 7 has come and gone. Seventy-five years ago, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. That “day of infamy” always comes at around the deadline

for us old folks to arrange for our Medicare insurance.

Both subjects recall dark days in our history. The way the government has fouled up health care and the treachery of the Japanese points out that you can’t trust anyone any more.

Why does there have to be a deadline to change your supplemental Medicaid insurance? I guess this proves that the government and the insurance companies are in cahoots to try to confuse the old folks and make sure some people make a lot of money. Don’t think our country is not at the mercy of the insurance companies, the big energy companies, the bandits in Congress, and the drug manufacturers. That is an outfit that would make Al Capone take a back seat. The wealthy politicians are pecking away at the few benefits the elderly do have. They will not be satisfied until they kick our butts down the steps into the basement. I guess that is the thanks we get for working our tails off over the last 60 or 70 years.

Fidel Castro is on his way to Hades, but his brother still has the people of Cuba by the throat. It will be a long time before they taste the fruits of democracy. When Fidel was busy fighting, people used to collect army fatigues for his troops. They hit Dover Air Force Base while I was stationed there and collected a lot of clothes. The U.S. helped him a lot and then he turned Cuba into a Communist nation. Communism has made their leaders rich and powerful, while the people were left behind. That is almost the same story that exists in the United States. Here, you can decide your own destiny and not be shot for your ingenuity, but the little guy finds it harder to survive and the middle class is becoming an endangered species.

I am still waiting for my call from Donald Trump about my cabinet post. I am very good at putting hardware on cabinet doors and drawers. I am not a patient fellow, but I will bide my time and play the cards I am dealt.

One of the cable networks had a program about the disappearance of union boss Jimmy Hoffa. The year that he disappeared, someone wrote, “Jimmy Hoffa, call home. Your family is worried” on the men’s room wall at the old Cabin Kitchen restaurant. The FBI has some new clues on that case, so maybe they will find out where his body is buried. Don’t count on it. Jimmy did his time at the federal prison at Lewisburg. He started out as an honest man, but soon was hooked on how easy it was to steal from the union. Whoever put the hit out on him was very smart. I am sure his friends in the mob were the ones that wished him bon voyage.

A high-pressure vacuum cleaner salesman stopped at this farm house and gave his spiel. As he talked, he spread a bucket of horse manure all over the living room and he said, “If this machine does not pick up every bit of that manure, I will eat it.” The lady of the house said, “Wait a minute and I will get you some salt and pepper. We do not have electricity here in the country.”

Keep your powder dry and your eyes open.

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