Hatch, New Mexico Chile peppers. The Festival is just around the corner!
NOTE: This post is NOT about Chile peppers. It is long,(well, not that long really), full of personal information, (not really a lot of it), archived pictures,(and a couple of my own), remembrances of the olden days and may be entertaining. Enter at your own risk.
I realize that Shelly changed the parameters and even the name of the Only the Good Friday theme, but here I am, early Friday morning and I am determined to write something Good. To be honest, it happens to be Friday and I want to write about something Good, but it is a coincidence that I am writing on a Friday. You see, before she changed the rules, it was determined to be written on Friday. Anyway, now it’s called Only the Good, and folks can write about Good stuff any day of the week. This week, or this time, I am doing it on Friday.
My problem is that I’m struggling to find any Good right now. Sometimes I get into a funk and feel lowly and stinky. I’ll reach way back into my bag of tricks and see if I can pull myself out of the doldrums. You see, I had a weird dream just moments ago, that’s why I’m up at one O’ fucking clock in the morning. I can’t get back to sleep. I laid there for an hour and tossed and turned. This was a dream that could have been a Good one, but turned pretty bad. I woke up unsettled.
When this happens, I get up and wander around my own home. I don’t know what to do. I could watch TV. Often, I get on the computer. I answer e-mails. I read blogs, comment on blogs. I check the bank balances and generally just try to pass time until the day begins to brighten. In my life, this has been going on for years. In the old days, before internet, cell phones and digital TV with a thousand channels, I would hop in the car and ride up and down the commercial drags of Minneapolis and St. Paul. I’d stop in at an all night diner or a truck stop along the freeway and have a cup of coffee.
Tonight, or this morning, depending on your perspective, I am writing this. If you’re reading it, then I posted it. Sometimes I write it all out, then delete it and pretend all is right in the world and write something else. It does me Good to try hard to remember a story or an experience and share it with you. Sometimes I even post articles like this, then go back and delete them from the blog itself after they’ve been up a few hours.
I used to write stories about the travels I did. For many years I was on the road both professionally as an over-the-road trucker, or just traveling around because I had the time and money to do so on a regular basis. Certainly, while living on the road as I was traveling, I would have life’s little interactions with people and places. Some of these things were humorous, some were dangerous and some were mundane, mostly mundane as life has a tendency to be that way. I’d put forth a portrait of something that happened. I look back at all the stories I wrote over the past five years, (That’s how long I’ve been blogging), and sometimes think I have told everything that has ever happened to me on these pages. My mind goes blank and there is nothing left to tell you about. Maybe I should repost old stories, after all, I have them. I cleaned out the blog a year or so ago. I do have some newer readers, maybe they would enjoy them, but then again, the few regulars that have stuck with me would shy away as I repeated the old crap.
I did politics for a while. Every day, beating out my opinion on the hottest issues. Gathering information and re posting it, calling attention to things and voicing concern. Always from Left of center. Time marches on and things change here and there. I lost interest in political posts too. The down side of not knowing what to write about for fear of repeating myself and not wanting to write about politics or mainstream issues is that it leaves me with idle time sitting here. I want to be productive.
Not all I do needs to be on the blog and posted in public. Sure, I could edit music files or picture files, get things in order so to speak. I have some video to make into DVD and I have good enough equipment to do it, but I lack the motivation for that in the middle of the night. Getting out the archiver and hooking up the cables, finding the Good earphones. Looking for the blank DVD’s. See, I just talked myself out of that. I say I’ll wait for a rainy day. Guess what? It’s been raining for the past two days and the forecast says more rain today. I guess that in itself is Good somewhere for someone. It makes it rather gloomy, three days of rain in a row, but it is not a bad thing. I accept the weather as what is happening. It’s not always a bad thing for it to rain on a parade. Might be a reason I don’t know about that makes it Good. The farmers always seem to need the rain.
It’s barely 1:40 a.m. I’m done with this post and I am thinking of a way to put it all into perspective and end it. I could lie. If you believe me, you’ll come away with the idea that I really have my shit together and possibly think that I’m a cool guy. I may motivate you or inspire you as I motivate and inspire myself in the doing. But I can’t lie. It’s the only thing I have left, it seems, my dignity. I won’t succumb to being a liar. I won’t ever cheat you, the reader, or myself, the writer, with lies. Just the bold honest ruthless truth, and tonight, it is that I am alone in a world full of people in a life full of love and friendship and it sucks. Where is everyone?
Go figure, you can buy these legally! And the VA hands them out to trained killers.
In years past, I’d have nights like this and I’d get on a chat line. Other night owls doing the same. We all seemed to have that in common, being up in the middle of the night. I did go through a spell when I was taking sleeping pills administered to me by a psychiatrist at the VA. They came along with anti depressants and anti anxiety medication. I guess they knew that I’d get rattled and it was best to sedate me for at least eight or nine of the hours in a day, the rest of the time I was neither depressed or anxious. I was agitated instead. Agitated and angry. I stopped taking the meds, all of them, and live with the sleepless nights a couple of times a week.
Yah Mon, we be Irie, Mon
There was self medication. Marijuana and/or alcohol. That got me to sleep, and kept me asleep, but took a toll on the senses. I don’t remember the last time I was drunk. I got stoned in the not too distant past and don’t recall that being like it used to be. I never did like to get high alone anyway.
I just went back to read what I had written and found that I started to daydream, in the middle of a sleepless night, and thought of the old days again. In a strangely different world, we’d go to the airport and hang out. (can't do that anymore). There was always a coffee shop open at O’Hare, or at the Tollway Oasis on the Interstate. A short drive out there to a place where the world was still alive. In the beginning, they were full service Fred Harvey restaurants. Now, they're Mac and Don's supper club. Not espresso coffee or latte’s back in the early days, no sir, cups of robusto bean heavily caffeinated coffee, dark and rich, cups, on saucers, with linen on the tables unless you opted for the counter stool. I liked mine with cream, Boston style it was called. You paid a dime for a cup and it got refilled as long as you sat there.
The Illinois Tollway Oasis in the 1960's
Now I’m thinking I want to go back some more. Candy bars were a nickel. A quart of milk, a dozen eggs or a loaf of bread was a quarter. Pop, or soda, or whatever you called Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nehi or Canfield’s was a dime with a two cent deposit on a glass bottle. I loved an ice cold Pepsi in a bottle. First, the twelve ounce, then the king size 16 ounce eight pack, or, you could buy them one at a time at a small grocery. The small groceries were separate from the gas stations.
That's what I'm talkin' bout.
We never used credit cards. There were no cash machines. We wrote checks to pay for stuff, or cash. You mailed in your bills to the bank or land lord for housing, to the bank for a car payment. To Sears or Montgomery Wards for items you purchased on time. Big items, like a refrigerator. You never “charged” a pair of slacks. You cashed your paycheck at a small window in a bar after work on Friday. They never charged you a fee because you’d have a few beers before heading for home. You put what you needed to pay the bills in a bank account.
On the road as a trucker, I used long distance “collect” to call home. It was expensive, so my calls were not frequent. When I talked with friends that lived far away, we were always making the calls short as to not incur large phone bills. Funny, my Mom still says to me, “I’ll let you go, this must be costing you a fortune.” I sometimes wonder if she just doesn’t care to talk on the phone and used her old age and old ways as an excuse to hang up. Probably. And that’s okay. It may even be Good.
Gasoline was under fifty cents a gallon. Two or three bucks got you cruising around all night and all the next day. Someone pumped the gas for you and used a glass cleaner on your windshield. They’d check your tire pressure and look under the hood and check your oil and coolant, (or oil and water we called it back then.) If it was low, they filled them up, the oil and the radiator with water.
Recently, in Oregon, I remembered that they still pump your gas there. It’s the law. Here is an old article about the Oregon gas pumping law. Still, whether an attendant pumps my gas or not, the service station has changed from doing service on a motor vehicle to being a small grocery store, deli and fast food destination and hang out, not to mention a bank, (there is always an ATM), a smoke shop, (tobacco make up a large percentage of sales at most convenience stores), and gambling casino, (legal gambling states like South Dakota have machines, other states have State game lotto tickets and Powerball).
The joke around here in our family is that the favorite coffee shop for my son-in-law is the convenience store. That’s really not so out of whack because in the old days, when I was hauling gas and oil to the farms in rural East Central Minnesota, we hung around a coffee maker at the gas station. The regulars would come in, fill up the pickup truck, go inside and chew the fat over a free cup of coffee, then go back to what they were doing.
Speedway in Wisconsin, Superamerica in Minnesota.
I also miss the donut shops. Sure, Dunkin Donuts is still around, and Krispy Kream. But there used to be a plethora of donut shops. You could always find a place. Now, they are neatly tucked away in full size grocery stores and gas station convenience stores.
Donuts, or Doughnuts? You decide.
Not the same, I tell you, just not the same as going into a joint, sitting down at a counter stool and having a raspberry filled powdered sugared bismark and cup of steaming hot black sour tart coffee, lightened with an ounce or two of half and half. Really, it is hard to find those places around Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. Other cities still have them. Winchell's, Donut Connection, Tim Horton’s to name a few, but they are a needle in a haystack around these parts. If there was one like one of the old ones, open 24 hours and serving right now, I’d be getting dressed and heading to it. I could use a good donut and a cup of Joe right now!
I don't care if they're Good for you or not, I just want some once in a while
In my travels, there are plenty of convenience store/gas stations that have a table or many tables and booths set up for people to eat hot entree’s bought from their deli or from their franchised food options. Home Run Subs, Hot City Pizza, to name a couple, and the list of names of the convenience stores themselves are, well, here’s a list:
1st Stop at Phillips 66 gas stations.
ampm at ARCO gas stations.
Albertson's Express gas stations/convenience stores
AmeriStop Food Mart
A-Plus at Sunoco gas stations.
BreakTime formerly at Conoco gas stations.
Convenient Food Marts
Corner Store at Valero and Diamond Shamrock gas stations.
ExtraMile at Chevron Gas Stations
E-Z Mart Farm Stores The nation's largest drive-thru grocery, with more than 100 double drive-thru only stores in Florida.
Interior of the modern day gas station.
Food Mart at Shell and Texaco gas stations.
Friendly Neighbor Convenience Store
GetGo, a division of Giant Eagle
Git n Go
Go-Mart, convenience store chain with locations in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores (Typically operates travel stops, but also owns many convenience stores in the Central United States)
Loaf 'N Jug, a division of Kroger
Marisol's Convenience Store
On the Run at Exxon & Mobil stations in the US; Esso and Mobil stations internationally. Pilot Corporation (Typically operates travel centers, but also owns many convenience stores in and around Tennessee)
QuikStop, a division of Kroger
QuikTrip, Tulsa-based chain of convenience stores primarily found in the Midwestern and Southern United States
Stripes Convenience Stores
Sugarcreek, owned by Wilson Farms
Tedeschi Food Shops
Texas Star Investments, Inc.
TownPump Food Stores
Wawa Food Markets
White Hen Pantry
Here are some pictures of gas station convenience stores you might recognize:
7/11, All over the world, not selling gas anymore at a lot of places, but I credit them as starting the convenience store/gas station trend.
AM/PM, open all night?
Another convenience store/gas station/donut shop. deli/restaurant/tobacconist/liquor store/video rental/ and on and on.
Well now, look what’s happened. I’m interested in something, doing research and writing an article on old time 1950’s and 1960’s america. I’ve managed to kill over an hour. It’s 2:25 a.m. Now, and I’m just getting started.
I’ll close this article off and post it. I would actually be amazed if anyone but my closest of friends stops by and reads this garble. But that’s okay. It was Good for me. It got me through the night. I’m yawning and going to lay down in the spare room and see if I can get some more sleep. And there’s Zeke, my dog pal. He hasn’t left my side in two days, (the rain, thunder and stuff), he’s right here on the floor in the computer room. We’re calling it Zeke’s room these days.
It’s all Good here. I wish and hope and pray for it to be Good for you. It's 3:11 a.m. I managed to get through most of the sleepless night. Now, I am seriously thinking of making donuts from scratch and serving them to Mrs. Spadoman when she gets up. I think she'd like that and think it's Good. After all, a Good donut is a nice treat, especially with a steaming hot cup of Steve's Smokey Double Dark "Damn" coffee.
That's what's Good so far today.