2018-01-20 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

BY HOWARD ‘MAC’ MCDONALD

We had a visitor at our house last weekend and he was not welcome. You may have heard of him, as he goes by the handle of the Grim Reaper.

He knocked me down at about 10 am. I managed to get up and I got a punch at him and knocked him on his butt. He got away and came back about an hour later and floored me again. The second of his punches was very hard and I could not get up. With some help from our oldest son I got back on my feet and went straight to bed.

On his third trip I was rested and most of my strength had come back. I was the aggressor and got the first punch and knocked him on his can.

I have been in several stag bar scuffles and was also a combat crewman. I do not know if this training helped, but he has not been back to see me. This may all sound like fantasy to you. To me, it was very real.

Not being able to capture me, he went down to the Desert Grove Hospital and gathered up my good friend, Jim Downs, our insurance agent. Jim’s trip to the Promised Land was a hard one. He had no kidneys for at least five years and survived on dialysis.

The Good Lord is a tough poker player and you must play the hand you were dealt. I am not a very good gambler and lost a lot of shoot the moon games when my partner was Norm Drum. Norm would shoot the moon with one trump card in his hand, expecting his partner to save the day.

Even a couple days out of the mainstream didn’t affect my perspective on the political dog and pony show that has evolved into an international crisis.

Will our elected leaders ever get together and move this country forward? Probably not in my lifetime.

Everyone will soon be watching the Super Bowl. I already have my TV tuned to the channel that brings us SpongeBob SquarePants.

The commercials they air during the big football game used to be hilarious. Today they are about as funny as a truckload of dead babies going over a waterfall. Just a grumpy old man’s way of saying that today’s humor does not turn me on.

We were finally graced with much-needed rain while the high country is finally getting snow. That makes the skiers happy.

Finally having dust-free air to breath should lighten the loads on the hospitals. The flu season is in full high gear and the medics are having a hard time keeping up with all the sick.

Will 2018 be the year I finally get an answer to my question of what happens to the money that is collected from the federal tax on gasoline?

A knowledgeable man studied this issue for me and found that about 60 percent of the money goes to fixing and maintaining roads and bridges. The politicians divvy up the other 40 percent.

With all of the focus now on addressing this nation’s infrastructure, I hope to see this despicable shell game exposed. I have been harping about it for at least 10 years.

If I could have the amount of fuel tax collected by the federal government over the course of just one hour, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates would have to take me into their Big Boys Club.

Most of the people who are old enough to join Over the Hill Gang are known for their ability as good shoppers. They are always looking for a good deal. Deals are hard to find and always seem to have some kind of a catch to them.

Since the used car industry has cleaned up its act, a lot of the silver-tongued devils have taken up positions on Wall Street. If you are involved in the stock market, you must beware of their “good deals.”

Before the used car salesmen there were horse traders. If you didn’t know the ropes, you could get skinned.

Back during the Depression, jobs were hard to find. Our democracy was just about destroyed and the American way of life was going down the tubes.

Something drastic had to be done and in 1933 along came the New Deal created by President Franklin Roosevelt. This spawned the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to hire unemployed young men for public conservation work. The CCC has left its mark on Cameron and Potter counties.

While providing training and employment, the CCC planted trees, built dams and fought forest fires. More than 2 million men served.

The pay for the rank and file was $30 a month. You could keep $5.00 and the rest was sent to your family. That may not seem like much, but it beat the devil out of not having anything.

They had a rank system patterned after the Army. The uniform was standard Army issue. In the summer, the heat was almost unbearable. The men lived in barracks and ate in the mess hall. Many of the CCC Boys went on to the military services and fought in World War II.

On Oct. 19, 1938, in the vicinity of Jerry Run and Lick Island, a forest fire of major proportions broke out. A firefighting team from Camp S-132 was dispatched to fight this fire. A shift in the wind trapped eight men and they lost their lives.

On Rt. 120 in Cameron County is Memorial Springs where a brass plaque honors the CCC. The men killed were: Gilbert Mohney, Howard F. May, Basil Bogush, Stephen Jacofsky, Andrew Stephanic, Ross Hollobaugh, John F. Boring and George W. Vogel.

I can just imagine the sorrow that was created in this tight-knit community. Andy Richnafsky carried the sheets to the scene where they were used to cover the bodies.

By 1942 when Congress shut down this program, the war had taken care of the unemployed. Most able-bodied men were in the military and others were working somewhere in the war effort. Many women joined the workforce at this same time and many were employed in the munitions industry to support the war.

There is still a lot of bragging going on after the most recent Pennsylvania deer season. Many of the bucks had large racks. Maybe this is what they have been striving for, but it doesn’t make the sausage makers happy.

I still haven’t figured out how killing off so many does is supposed to make the hunting better. Too many eggheads planning the deer herd and no one with common sense involved.

There were a couple of searches for lost hunters and they had happy endings.

They used to tell you that if you were lost, shoot three times in the air. One time, these two hunters were lost and tried the three-shot routine. No one came, so the hunter told his buddy to shoot again.

His friend replied, “I can’t. I’m out of arrows.” Keep the faith and keep your powder dry.

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