It’s a clear night, even
the city lights can’t dim completely the array of stars overhead, A
blurb flashes on and off at the sixth floor apartment window. Spaceship511 catches the signal and coasts
slowly by. No, nothing calling here.
The flashes are only solar battery Christmas tree lights.
A white owl, also powered by the Arizona sun, perches on the wall of the patio. Suddenly a dazzling sparkle arrow darts from
the eyes of the owl and points to the inside of the window. There is only an instant available for
insight. That’s sufficient to catch the
An old lady is humped over the computer
keyboard. Her back hurts. She has spent the hours of the afternoon
struggling with the computer layout, pushing unknown html around to form a
Descriptive Archives. Her efforts
haven’t been productive. Three possible formats and none worked. The entire K-Log might have been
destroyed. She will find out when the
next K-Log is added.
The old woman’s computer has a file
with the title of “K-Logs in progress.”
These stories have come to her so that she might edit and return to the
An hour remains before she must push
the keyboard away and prepare supper, returning to her evening duties, The computer screen shows the unfinished
K-Logs and she looks quickly to decide which one to finish telling the
Maybe “Coming of age,” a teenager
becomes a young man. No, not yet, the
story awaits the ending, on its way from Indiana.
“The Report on the Mexican.” This story will hurt to get on paper. Too much blood, too much heartache to
continue with this now.
A photo of Senator Ted Kennedy shows up
under the papers by her keyboard and the old lady smiles as she remembers that
The phone rings, the wrinkles crease on
her face even further. A Kross-roads
hasn’t shown up yet for grandson, medical help is needed and the old
woman wants his ills handled, wants to hear hope.
There is one more picture laying on her
desk that might be a mystery and might be an answer. June 1976.
She knew the man, a methodical person, and he had set up his Canon on a
tripod to take a series of pictures at an Indiana State Park. The day celebrated a 50th wedding
anniversary, complete with speeches, good picnic food, beautiful warm June
weather and happiness covering it all.
The camera caught the mood and the photographer produced lovely scenes
of trees bordering the rippling water.
He used these scenes to make calling cards and gave them out for both
business and social purposes.
Thirty years later, 2006, the
photographer died. He had told his wife
and a few close friends that he would try to find a way to contact from “the
2013, seven years have passed. Two of his calling cards show up unexpectedly, within a couple of days of each other, and from two
different places. One came in the mail from
a friend of a friend of a friend in New York state. The other showed up in a box of paperwork to
be thrown away.
The widow doesn’t doubt that her
husband is telling her that all is well with him. But what else? This comes at a time when she has a decision
to make. Is her husband telling her that
he accepts that she might love someone
else? Or is he reminding her of
pleasurable days they had together, that the time has not yet come to find
A Kross-roads awaits in her life and she
believes that a message has come from her love of forty-five years and he is telling
her the path to take. She cannot read the
signposts. She awaits, she wants further
signals. Slightly exasperated with her
message from ‘the other side,” she calls out, “Dear, be more clear and specific.” Many a time she has told him those very words
and many a time he has told her, “I am clear and specific, you are not
listening to me.”
Spaceship511 backs away from this scene.
The window, the apartment, the owl are bookmarked. Kross-roads are waiting here. The old lady will return to her keyboard
tomorrow and maybe the stories in this household will be ready for telling.
511 lands on the grassy sweet smelling landscape. A story of Kross-roads decision hides in the
might have seen the young man clipping the oleander bush, keeping the punchy limbs
in front of him, determined that Mrs. Nosey would pass on by. She glanced in his direction, headed his
way. He put his clippers in his tool
sack, taking two steps on his way. He
stopped. This time he would not let her anger him into shouting. That police
incident was over, he would stand his ground.
was talking before she reached his part of the sidewalk. Her gleeful smirk
traveled the street telling the catastrophe of Mr. Big Shot’s daughter’s
wedding ruined because the orchestra had cancelled. Tim didn’t bother saying good-bye or changing
his sweat soaked shirt. He and his
struggling Five Spot group were on the way to a gig that started his career.
511 swoops down again. That kid wearing
raggedy jeans, torn sweatshirt, has been “riding the rails,” running from home
for a week. The freight cars slowed
down for the small town, the engineer not stopping here. The kid licked his mouth, his water bottle
had been empty all night. The speed
began picking up, too fast, now or not. He jumped.
This jump, a Kross-roads decision, would lead to a Life and Love in the
the Kross-roads decision isn’t obvious.
A choice happens because of a newspaper article, a radio announcer
talking your subject, a high school teacher’s encouragement years back that led
you down your special road.
we look back, the Kross-roads stand out in solid red and black. How could we have done otherwise? At the time we sweated over a decision. Or it was as casual and offhand as “Sure, I’ll
call in sick and we’ll go to the ballgame.
Can’t let your free tickets go to waste.”
were your Kross-roads? What were the
choices you made that led to an unexpected, unexplored part of your life?
511 will land in many backyards, reporting the stories of choices.
Spaceship 511 lands on the grassy sweet smelling landscape.
A story of a Kross-roads decision hides in the old 1927 historical hotel.
Another Chapter: The Kindly Kross-roads A Series
BOB HOPE AND DEBBIE REYNOLDS COULDN'T SHOW ME THE WAY
I am a wanderer.
When I was much younger - over 70 years ago on the calendar - I slipped out the back door of the home of my father and his wife and headed for the railroad tracks about a mile away. Many a time I had done a fast pedal on my bike over that way and watched kids as young as me climb into them. They'd stick a pipe right in the middle where the door slides and use that for a lever to pull up.
The war was going on then, the W W two one. When my dad was home, he called me wirey but I knew I could take on any other guy out there. I had a couple dollars hidden in the watch pocket of those baggy brown pants that had been handed down from my father's wife's sisters kids, The money had come honest. My father's wife would hand me the big glass pitcher and fifty cents. When the bar tender didn't cheat me out of it, there was a tip left for me.
The train headed west. I didn't care which direction, I was on the move, I was going out, I knew there was something out there someplace for me.
Hobos, living on the road, would let me hang around the campfire and they'd fill my tin cup with whatever they had if I didn't pester them any. Nobody asked me how old I was and nobody cared.
Nobody cared at the circus either. When I dropped off someplace around Salt Lake there was the big tent and I made a bee line for it. I was pretty sure I could find a home with folk that traveled so many places, I knew that was what I was meant to do.
A kid about my age showed me the ropes to the glamour life under the big top. The big tubs, first for washing the stacks of dishes, then rinse, then drying & stacking again. At the start of the show, the Grand Entry, I pulled on a "Joseph" robe, it had all the colors, and walked a camel around the ring.
One night after things were shut down and we had seen all the acts, Larry and I decided to go to movie in town. We fell asleep and the circus moved on without us. The circus people didn't care, there would be other kids to wash the dishes and walk the camel.
I continued hitchhiking. When the police stopped me, I always had a story ready for them. I was going to grandma's house, up the road a ways. She runs a laundry so I know she's still there.
When a policeman didn't believe me, he threw me in a jail. I wouldn't give my name, I told them, "Just call me Jake." One time my father showed up to pay the bail and my wings were clipped. It was back to school. I liked the history and geography parts, spent a lot of time at the school libraries, but my father's wife packed school lunch of goose grease on stale bread and that didn't compare to hobo stew.
In the coming years, I saw the insides of a lot of jails. Since they couldn't prove I had done anything wrong they had to let me go. I had the fiddle faddle foot, gotta see what was on down the road.
I got on the fruit and veggie circuit. South to North. Apples and pears up around Medford, Oregon. Then there were pole beans about 4 foot high, bush beans about knee high off the ground. Berries, all kinds were on the circuit. California and Oregon with peaches. Last thing is apples in November.
I couldn't make any money at any of it. The Mexicans had whole families and they did all right. Sometimes there would be a regular camp with kitchen and two meals a day. It wasn't gourmet, big plate of pork chops, ham, chicken, beans but we paid for it.
You could sing for your supper at the missions. There's where you learn a world of what's going on where, what's a bad place to go to.
Or stand around in employment center, hear guys talking. "Got a good hot tip but no way of getting there." Someone asked, "Where's that?" He gave the name of a casino over in Nevada. I had a couple dollars, had just come out of apples. I called that casino and asked for the chef. He had been advertising for a dishwater but couldn't get one way out there. I asked him, "If I hitchhike 90 miles to Windover would I have a job?" and so I got the job washing dishes. This wasn't bad, warm inside in winter time and I stayed there quite a while.
I learned a lot of different skills by keeping my ears open and showing up ready to work. Dynamiting in the mountains of Colorado. Construction work in railroads and bridges and buildings in all of the western states.
From the first dishwashing job in the circus, I went the route of bus boy to waiter to maître d' to manager. Some places I moved with the upper crust, the money. Debbie Reynolds, a nice lady, gave fifty dollar tips for good service. Jack Benny's wife would order toast at fifty cents, give the required 15 percent and Jack would scratch it out and replace it. Someplace around on one of the hotel billboards could be a photo of Bob Hope and Sammy Davis with ol' Jake here in the middle, all doing the ol' soft shoe. There were some great people, and some rotten people too, but I was always ready to move on.
Jobs lasted for a few weeks or a few months. Some were for a season and return the next season. Roots were never dug deep enough that they couldn't be pulled with no regrets, always looking forward to what would be ahead.
The years mounted up to retirement time, finally ready for social security and Medicare. I had an offer for a part-time job that was right up my alley. I would be in charge of the small used-furniture store, have a helper for the work hours and I would take care of the management duties. This would probably be my last job and I could settle with it.
Walking around, thinking it over, wondering what made me uneasy. The years of wandering had to be over, I had seen a lot, done a lot, it must be time to settle. Tomorrow I'd tell the owner I'd take the job.
As I walked by a large old-fashioned hotel, a busload of people drove up. I moved over to one side, watching them get off, some dragging, some whooping. It got obvious that the trip to the casino for these senior citizens had been a fun trip for most of them.
The back of the bus came out and I started to move away. I waited while the two last persons walked slowly to the door. She was a little bit of a thing and he wasn't much bigger. Her pink dress was from better days, his jeans had been through many washings. The conversation took place in front of me.
She said sharply, "Shorty, it's OK, we're OK."
He answered, "But, Rose, I know better, I shouldn't have gone, we're on beans now and that's not fair to you."
She was not quite as sharp now. "So we're on beans. We're together, as long as we're together we're OK."
His voice was low but I could hear him. "Yes, we're together and we're home together." His hand took hers as they went inside.
I started to move away to go make the telephone call. I could hear him again. "We're home together."
There had been many crossroads through the years and it hadn't been difficult to make decisions. Either way, either road, would work for the wanderer.
Could it be time for the wanderer to plant roots? Home. There was a home through the door in front of me. To the left, walk the sidewalk back to the room at the Y and make a telephone call, keep my care-free life. To the right, through the door built in 1927, two years before I was born. Shorty called it home.
I hesitated, started to the left. Shorty's words wouldn't leave me. Quickly, not wanting to change my mind, I followed Rose and Shorty through the half-opened door. I followed two people who would be my friends, who would lead me to my wife, who were taking me to my home.
Spaceship 511 will land in many backyards, reporting the stories of choices.
My ship is sailing toward another new world. Blogspot is on the horizon. Blogsville is just around the corner.
There was a time when my stomping ground was secure, the corners bound tight and I recognized the boundaries. In other words, I had some idea of what I was doing when I sat down to a keyboard.
Then one day my son showed up with bigtime news. He carried a couple of monster machines into my intersanctum. “The IBM has got to go, you will like this much better, it has fabulous features.” My teacher son also had a partnership in a computer store.
“Here are the floppies and you put this one here and this one there and watch your screen for the commands.”
Is there anyone around who remembers the olden days of DOS, before the World Wide Web, even before color?
The main difference, as far as I could tell, was that I didn’t have to use the “white stuff” to make corrections. The clock stood at 1986 and I had become the modern woman, the one keeping up with scientific technology and all that jazz.
The sword of progress began coming at me fast. In 1993, only seven short years later, I wrote a letter to my sister: “Go get a modem installed. The wonders of Bitnet and Telnet and (treasure of treasures) INTERNET await! Access to the galaxy! MIND-BOGGLING.”
What is Mind Boggling is that was only twenty years ago.
I had parted with tears from my faithful IBM. I cried harder when the time came to part with DOS and Q&A. My life worked fine without Windows and a stupid mouse, thank you. I did manage to skip Windows 3 but finally had to succumb to modernization. That new Dell computer, with Windows 95 and the dreaded mouse awaited on the living room floor. I approached, sat crosslegged and stared at it. Instructions were clear, take off the cover, remove thisnthat, put in thisnthat and ready to go. With mouse. Go away world, leave me alone, I’ll figure this out with my Dummy book.
Eventually I adjusted and Windows X-P didn’t hurt quite as much. But that’s enough! I’ve reached the Pinnacle. No more. I will let all new gadgets pass me by.
Have you given up your desk computer yet? Do you still have a land line telephone or is it all cell? In ten years it appears that we have phased out what it took me twenty years to learn. My next generations have bitty machines surgically attached to their pockets.
Grandma, get on Facebook. You will find what you are looking for on Deaddog. Catch the latest Madonna on u-tube.
Grandma, we are texting now. Here, I’ll show you, just hit the “a” three times for “c”.
When it became obvious that my shaky fingers didn’t hit anything three times, it was either one (maybe) or five, the kids gave up. My only win was their promise to not text and drive.
No facebook, no i-phone, no u-tube, no texting, no Apple. I don’t want to touch my screen, it will get it dirty. But don’t take my mouse away from me and I couldn’t live without google. When a word in my lexicon disappears I can go to this day & nite library for a clue. Google is as good as the “white stuff.”
The great grandkids are waiting with bated breath (sure they are) for grandma to tackle a blog. OK kids, the keyboard likes me, we go together. I typed a book didn’t I? It's published, isn't it? It's going to be a best seller, isn't it?
the alternate safe world of SANCTUARY
Blogging it will by my style. I can tell you about what is,what was and what will be.