Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Those Glass Boys

I grew up on a farm/ranch just outside of Austin, Texas.  That alone should be enough to brag about, but what made my childhood so great was that I was blessed with sharing my “growing” experiences with five brothers.  
My Dad had brought his war bride to Texas from her home in the Steel Mill Hills of Pennsylvania.  Mom had grown up within a family of five girls, no boys.  Upon arrival in Texas, she promptly set about making Dad proud by giving him what in the upcoming years was commonly known as “The Glass Boys”.
Now growing up on a never-ending roller coaster environment, you would think that surly we would have lost one or two along the way. Even though we got close a couple of times, we all lived and I feel, made our parents proud. At the same time I bet that a couple of times they probably though under their breathe “There’s no doubt we can make another one like you,  just look around”.  
One may ask what was it like growing up with five brothers, and no sister?  I'm not sure, I try to think what it would have been like for a sister to be among us.  She would, with no doubt, have had to endure a life of being picked on, messed with, teased and probably would have asked more then once “Mom, why did you do this to me?” But at the same time, I  know for sure that she would have also been the most protected little girl ever to be graced with five brothers. My Dad kiddingly stated one time that he didn’t have time nor the need for girls on a ranch even though I know that he yearned for one.  That was proven years later when the Granddaughters started showing up.
Growing up among my brothers in the cotton fields and along the Colorado River was a life that was alway challenging.  Of course, there were many times when having five brothers came in handy.  I wouldn’t say we got into a whole lot of trouble, or at least if we did, we were able to figure out a way to fix whatever it was before Dad and Mom found out.  Life was not boring on the ranch that was for sure.  There was always something going on, or if there wasn’t, we changed that real quick.  Some of the things that I think we proved over the years together was that it took six boys to get some things done maybe not effectively but at least completed.  Such as;
Picking mustang grapes for jelly from a height of 20 feet in the air among the grapevines entangled in an oak tree while trying to ward off yellow jackets and red wasps.
Moving irrigation pipe from one location to another in the grazing pastures, interrupted by swimming parties in the river under the limbs of the old pecan, sycamore and cottonwood trees.
Frog and Toad hunting along the back roads in the lights of the family pickup after a good “toad choker” of a rain, with mom driving the truck slowly behind us.
Hauling hay out of the fields in the same old pickup, stacking it so high that we were sure it was going to topple.  Then stacking the hay in our barn, which initiated the brain gears of my older brother’s on ideas for new and better elaborate tunnels of adventure. (see Country Boy Games)
There was the setting of “traps” to scare away the frequent uninvited visitors to the abandoned old “big house” which was well known for its “ghosts”. The old southern mansion style house stood in a field behind our house. With its own small graveyard and the darkness that surrounded it at night, the lure was too much, and the local teenagers and college students would arrive throwing “dares” and taunts to each other almost on a weekly basis, especially around Halloween.   

Our job, we decided, was to make their trespassing, something they would never forget.  From placing bells, and tin cans along the front porch stairs and a few hidden surprizes inside along it’s hallways to our final act of banging on the tin sheets that covered its windows on the outside.  What fun it was to watch them as they screamed and hollered and scattered sometimes watching as “Mr. Macho” left his girlfriend behind while scrambling to get to their cars alongside the roadway a hundred yards away.
Last but of course not least, “cowboying” the ranch’s herd of cattle and sheep.  Herding them into the working lots to brand,  give shots, spray, and make what us boys thought had to be a bull calf’s worse nightmare, making it a steer.  We all knew the ranches “mark” on the calf’s ear and exactly where it had to be placed.  We each learned quickly the proper way to rope, take down and hold a calf. Sometimes, you learned the easy way, sometimes, you learned the hard way and were reminded of the experience way into the next couple of days when you tried to stand up.
The bumps and the bruises were expected. That was part of growing up and living the “Glass" way.  But with each bump, each bruise, each laugh and each cry over the years, we grew.  We all survived, we all learned many very important lessons. Now, years later, I feel that it is obvious to each of us that it wouldn’t have been the same if each of us would not have been there, we each added our own characteristics that made and still make up our family. 

We were and still are a family, very proud of our heritage and of each other.  And to this day if seen somewhere all together,  I have no doubt that the question is asked and answered with “Oh them? That’s the Glass Boys”.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sorry, So Sorry...

Ten years. September 11th, 2001.  I had stepped out of the shower to hear the newsman saying "We're just getting a report out of New York that it seems a airplane has struck one of the  towers of the World Trade Center.  With that our world changed and never will it be the same.   I stood there and watched the first image of the North Tower with the plume of blackish grey smoke surrounding the top of it.  The camera was zooming in and the next thing I notice was all the sheets of paper that was silently floating to earth almost as thick as snow.

I thought for a second "How many?" How many lives have just starting spiraling out of control like these sheets of paper?  Then I though how could this happen? How could a airplane hit a building in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world by accident and I realized, this wasn't a mistake. I reached and grabbed a blank VCR tape and started recording the day that change our world as a nation. Over the next few hours I, like the whole world, watched the terror of the act that knock us to our knees.

 Later that evening I sat out my back yard and looked up to realize that for the first time in almost a century there was not a single commercial airplane in our skies over our great country.  Even twelve hours later the world was still wondering what was coming next.  Was this only the start? What was going to happen next?  The biggest question twelve hours later in most of our minds changed from "How? to What if?  And all we could do was watch, hope, and pray, because for the first time in a very long time the United States of America was not in control of what was happening inside our own nation.  No longer did we feel safe, no longer did we feel that "well, it can't happen here", because it just had. 

Over the next few days we all sat stunned, listened and watched the effects that these actions started having not only on our country but world-wide.  The blame was starting to become very obvious. From a far land,  a group of people felt that they must show to the people of the United States that we were not as invulnerable as we though we were. And to this day ten years later their actions have kept us in this state of questioning our safety.  No longer do I feel as safe as before that day. To this day when I notice a commercial plane over one of our great cities I, just for a moment, stop whatever I'm doing and think "Please don't,"

To those people, that were responsible for 9/11,  I want to say I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that somewhere back in time before that dreadful day our country had done something that made you feel this action had to be taken.  We cannot just blame "them" for what happened.  I am so sorry that Mankind as a whole has gotten to the point that we feel justified in taking another's life for our political gains.  Because,  in taking another's life I feel we have committed the ultimate sin to our God.  This is not what he put us on this world for.  So to him I pray "Lord I am sorry.   Lord, Show us your way....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Temporary Friends

I sat the other day in the “food court” of the local mall drinking a cup of coffee and watched the people go by.  The coffee was only an excuse for me.  It was the easy way of saying “Woman! I can’t keep up with you anymore.”
For several years I didn’t even make it to the food court.  Fortunately, someone felt sorry for old men like me and put benches just outside the stores.  I call them the “I give up” benches.  Every once in a while another gentleman would pause  and watch his wife  be drawn into the bright lights and loud colors of the stores then ease their way over to the bench to settle in and wait.
Its odd how two men who have never met can strike up a conversation sitting on that bench because, well because that’s what old men do. You see, there is uneasiness for two grown men to be sitting that close to each other without finding something to talk about.  It’s not that they are going to become life-long friends nor probably ever meet again. But for those few minutes, it usually is entertaining and in some cases, you learn something you didn’t know. I don’t know how many times the conversation starts with, “Hmmmmm.  Did you know that……?” and usually the answer is “Really? I didn’t know that.” And the conversation begins.
There are two subjects that are usually taboo in these conversations.  Religion and politics.  You also may want to be careful sharing your opinion either positive or negative on people walking by.  I know a guy  who made a  crude remark about the young man approaching them with the multi-colored Mohawk haircut only to find out it was the others son-in-law.  Besides those areas, everything else is pretty well open for conversation.
Then with one of the wives come out of the store it ends with “Well, it’s been nice talking to ya!  With a reply of “You too!” and we each go our separate ways.
Now, in the cell phone era, I feel ok to be sitting in the food court, knowing that the love of my life is only a push of a button away if by chance her hero needs to come save her, or carry her packages.
But by sitting there in the courtyard I now realize that I am missing out on what had become part of my weekly traditions.  So from now on, when the wife gets her urges to shop I will be there right by her side until we pass the food court. Then I’ll stop, get a cup of coffee to go and again look for some new  temporary friends.