2019-02-09 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

By Howard ‘Mac’ McDonald

Have you ever watched the program “Modern Marvels” on the History Channel?

They cover a multitude of subjects, but I have yet to see any footage on one of the greatest marvels that has ever been invented. Maybe it’s because of its dirty job. If they showed a man or woman using this invention, they would probably get bleeped off the air.

I am referring to the commode. It has done a world of good for our health and convenience. No more trips to the outhouse with the Sears and Roebuck catalogue.

Today they come in different colors and shapes. Some are fitted with an electronic flushing device. This might save water, but I don’t care for them, as I like to be in charge.

The saying, “I have to go to the crapper,” came about because the commode was invented by an English plumber by the name of Thomas A. Crapper. I bet his family was flushed with pride.

We were invited to a friend’s house to munch on some pizza and watch a movie, “A Walk in the Woods,” starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. The pizza was excellent and the movie was hilarious. We polished off the evening with coffee and German chocolate cake.

I know I have said this before, but I am going repeat it. Good coffee is a pleasure and good friends are a treasure.

I came across one of my columns from 10 years ago where I wrote about the legal railroad job that ended with two members of the Rigas family going to federal prison. Tim Rigas is still behind bars and that is a travesty.

They trusted a bunch of slimy cheaters who cut a deal with the government to save their own behinds while John and Tim paid the price. It’s hard to win in court when people swear an oath before God and then lie. The deck was stacked and 2,000 people were out of work.

Potter County and Coudersport are still recovering from that low blow. It also hurt Emporium, Port Allegany and other towns where people commuted to work for Adelphia.

John Rigas got his start at Sylvania in Emporium back in the 1950s. Most of the people who know him still support him and are glad that he is able to live out his final days with his family.

February is a short month, but it packs quite a punch.

Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is Feb. 12 and George Washington’s is Feb. 22. The politicians really like three-day weekends, so they came up with this bogus Presidents Day holiday to cover both Lincoln and Washington.

Another great person born in February was my mother.

Those who sell candy and flowers really appreciate the Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day. February is Black History Month, designated so that America can see how black people have contributed to the greatness of this country.

Before long, it will be March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish get to show off their green. Corned beef and cabbage will be the bill of fare and some places will be serving green beer.

Diet commercials on TV make things look so easy. One of their pitches offers you the first batch of food for free. It normally costs $120. The small print tells you that they will keep sending you food and billing you for it unless to you call off the dogs.

How many folks get the free food and then get out of the program? How do these outfits handle that problem? There is an old saying, “There is no such thing like a free lunch.” I’m sure the companies end up making a bundle of loot.

Many folks in my generation have some bucks packed away. My fortune is so small I could hide it in a shot glass.

The words of a Don Williams country song sum up my wealth: “I’m just a country boy. Money, I have none. But I have the silver in the stars and gold in the morning sun.”

Don’t send me money. I can still pay the rent and put vittles on the table. Once every other week, I can pay for a pitcher of Bud at the American Legion. On the week it is not my turn to buy, Ken Hovis fills in. That is a situation that is hard to beat.

Since we moved out here to Arizona, I have found that I have no use for my NFL parka. It is branded as a Dallas Cowboys item.

I am not a Dallas fan, but I picked it up for five bucks at a yard sale and it was one of the best buys I’ve ever made. It is also a good conversation piece.

Eighty years ago, there was an earth-shattering event going on in New York City. The World’s Fair featured exhibits from all over the world.

Billy Rose, a leading producer of musicals and water shows, had an aquatic show starring Eleanor Holm and Johnny Weissmuller at the New York State Marine Amphitheatre. This place boasted that it had more seating than any venue at the World’s Fair.

Billy Rose’s magazine covered most of the entertainment and sold on the newsstands for 15 cents. My wife found a copy of the magazine while going through some old books. Some of the advertisers were Pepsi Cola, selling a 12-ounce bottle for a nickel; and Gruen Veri-Thin, the watch of tomorrow for the world of tomorrow.

Kern’s Frankfurters, Lacross Nail Polish, Noxzema, B.V.D. swimsuits, Chesterfield cigarettes and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer rounded out the big-name products of the times.

When I was a kid, we lived way out in the country. There was this high-pressure salesman who would come around trying to sell Electrolux vacuum cleaners. He would knock on the door, talk his way into the house, and start his pitch with the lady of the house.

Once, he stopped at our neighbor’s house. He really wanted to make the sale, so he brought along a basket of horse manure and spread it all over the living room floor.

The salesman told the woman, “If this machine doesn’t pick up all this manure, I will eat it.”

She got a smile on her face and replied, “Excuse me. I am going to the kitchen to get you some salt and pepper. We don’t have electricity.”

Enjoy every day because you only get so many of them. Keep your trusty musket handy and your powder dry.

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