2018-03-10 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

BY HOWARD ‘MAC’ MCDONALD

Easter Sunday will arrive on April Fool’s Day this year. My memory takes me back to Easter 1935, when I was six years old.

My dad went to the Five and Dime and bought me a duckling that was dyed red, yellow and blue. It was a cute little bird and, of course, I named it Donald.

I should have chosen Daisy. When Donald was about six months old, “he” laid an egg. The bird stayed in a bushel basket at night beside our coal-fired cook stove. I had a duck egg every morning for breakfast.

That bird would make so much noise quacking that my mom evicted her to the hen house with the chickens. We had about 10 old fat hens that were not laying any eggs, so my dad called a local butcher to come and buy them. He reached a price with my dad on the hens and offered me five dollars for my duck.

That was a handsome sum in 1935, but I said, “No deal,” and he left.

The next morning, I went to feed the remaining chickens and found nothing but remains of Daisy. There were feathers and body parts scattered around the coop. Something got her and I assume it was a fox.

Yesterday she was worth five bucks. Today, she was not worth a penny. And there you have the story of my financial life.

Speaking of Easter, I get a kick out of these people who give up things for Lent and then bring them back into their lives on Easter Sunday.

One year, I gave up smoking, drinking and chasing women. It was the worst 15 minutes of my life. That’s a line from a country western song, but it hits the nail on the head for some people.

Bones Aikens told me that he never knew how much money he really had until the doctor made him stop smoking and drinking. I never smoked, so my money never went up in smoke. I can’t say the same about John Barleycorn. I still like a snort now and then.

My wife’s baby sister Elaine turned 75 today. She is 12 years younger than Shirley. I can relate to her because I am the youngest of my parents’ three kids and the last of the McDonald clan.

When Elaine came to Emporium to visit us, I would tell the guys at the Liars Club that my encyclopedia was in town. When they asked me what I meant, I replied, “My sister-in-law is visiting and she knows everything.” That would get a chuckle or two.

I was really just picking on her. Elaine does have a way of giving you her thoughts and I very seldom debate with her.

She had an unspeakable tragedy on her 25th birthday. Her son was crossing the street in front of their house when he dropped a toy car. As he bent over to pick it up, a neighbor woman struck him with her car and drove away. The boy didn’t make it.

She told the police she did not know she hit the poor kid. The boy weighed 55 pounds. If you run over a rabbit or a cat with your car, you can tell.

The woman was never charged and she never offered to help in any way. About six months after the tragedy, she had a mental health crisis and ended up being institutionalized.

An article in the newspaper detailed how the morale of our troops has been falling. That is no surprise, given the poor leadership they have had for many years. I have opinions on some of the other reasons.

At the same time our troops are dissatisfied, home-grown terrorism is becoming a bigger concern. With our borders as open as they have been, America haters can flood in here and build their cells of lost souls who are ready to shake hands with the devil and go on to their great reward.

I favor any steps we can take to hurry them along their way to that appointment.

Another strain of the flu is claiming lives across the nation.

The Asian flu brought down my mom in 1972. She was a tough old gal and every day I think about her. If she were still here she would have been 118 years old last week.

I wrote last week about Ollie North’s program, “War Stories.” He has some very interesting tales from our history.

Yesterday, he told about a World War I battle in the Verdon area of France, where we lived for a while. There were 2 million people killed in that area during the two World Wars. Canadian John McRea wrote his famous poem, “In Flanders Fields,” about the military graveyard there.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row,” is the first line. That must have been a vivid picture for that poet to see. We had to learn that poem when we were in the eighth grade, but I only remember the first line. Memories come and memories go. That’s what we old guys say to cover up our mistakes.

The President wants to have a military parade. I hope he has it and I suggest it be held on Independence Day. Let’s strut our stuff and show the world that we mean business.

The sun is out and the temperature is up to 60, but the wind is cold. It’s good day for a hike in the mountains.

On a day like this, the emergency responders are usually called out to rescue a couple of hikers who have been lost or injured. Every once in a while, one will fall 300 or 400 feet off a cliff and they are delivered to the morgue. It’s the sudden stop at the bottom that does them in.

If the terrain doesn’t get them, then the snakes might give them a run for their money. Arizona has three different species of rattlesnakes, one species of coral snakes, copperheads, and the mean old gila monster who has the same venom as the rattlesnake.

The gila monster does not have fangs. He chews on you to deliver the poison. His mouth is full of germs, so if the poison doesn’t get you the bacteria will. He is usually very slow and if you don’t mess with him, he won’t mess with you.

For some reason, these are all protected species. If they would all go extinct, I don’t know who would miss them. No one has missed the dodo bird.

Now that March is here, the tax preparers are as busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger with hives.

We are anxious to see what our refund is going to be. Our 13-year-old car needs new tires and some other work. I hope we get enough money back to cover that.

Never argue with your in-laws and always guard your hen-house with plenty of dry powder.

Return to top