Tuesday, May 24, 2016


We watched a 2013 movie starring Jeremy Irons, Night Train to Lisbon, and recommend it to anyone. Made me feel old since I was an adult in the times that it sort of referred to as "the past," the time in Portugal that was under a brutal dictatorship. The years 1971-1974.

All the characters that were involved in that time were old, which of course does not apply to me. Te setting was "current day."

Made me think of my parents. The 1930's. I thought of their time as ancient history. May 1934 was HOT! The corn did not reach "knee high" because it dried up way before that. Their marriage was in Yankton, South Dakota and the heat was way above 100.

It was hard to make a living back then. My dad somehow scraped enough money together to buy a truck and he would haul livestock, cattle, hogs, whatever, to Omaha. It was the days of the Missouri River packing plants, and the lines were long such that he would load in the late afternoon, drive to Omaha, inch along the lines and arrive back home in the early morning in time to go to the field. "If he was lucky," he would work all day, drive all night for three days in a row. Equals NO SLEEP!

Sounds like Bernie supporters, right?

And then the 1950's and 1960's. My country, one-room school was decimated as people dried out, went broke and moved to California. Think of their progeny and you wonder why California is home to the greatest breakthroughs but huge dependency. We would not have made it without the dairy operation. And it is no secret that when I went to college and my brother went to the Army, the cows went to market. Incidentally, my graduating class had 17. Of them, one National Merit Scholar and two Alternates. Twenty-percent. Sort of like the consolidated schools with all the good equipment?

Regarding the dairy operation, upside, I was a fashion statement well ahead of my time--I never had a pair of jeans that didn't have chlorine bleach stains. Distressed jeans long before my time.

I never knew about American Bandstand and Dick Clark because it came on at 5:00 Central Time and we were milking then.

My kids often tease me about the number of jobs that I held, but we took everything we could get. The fertilizer company was a good gig--my only "documented" 100-hour + week--I worked 104 hours the week of the 4th of July in 1965. Sleeping in a pickup, moving like a zombie.

Just to show how things have changed, after the fertilizer season was over, the week after the 4th, typically, my future brother-in-law, Rich, and I worked for a company that built bridges replacing the ones washed out by floods. Rich was aristocracy because he took a welding class in high school and got a few more cents per hour, but we worked 11 hours per day (6 am to 5:30 pm, half hour for lunch), six days per week. Sixty-six hours per week, $1.35 per hour, no overtime (we could file a claim, I suppose). It was miserable work, the constant and intense burning of the creosote on our skin, but we were glad to get our gross pay of just under $100 per week.

It was hot. And we were always in a hole because the bridges were in low spots (duh!) and the back walls were dug out. Limited the breeze. I can't imagine the money we made for the contractor who expected less and got a couple of farm boys who showed up and worked diligently for every day.

That's not the only crappy jobs I had--I remember roofing on a cool November day when I had the flu, coughing, and was extremely high on codeine cough medicine. Wonder I didn't fall off the roof. Or the weinie line. It was 1968, we graduated from college, I worked second shift from 4:00 PM to whenever. I would come home to my new bride, park in the car port, strip naked and take a 30-minute shower...and still smell like a weinie.

Or a bell-hop at the Cornhusker hotel. Lots of other nasty jobs. But a good job! Manager of a beer store. Lincoln had a number of archaic and interesting liquor laws, and one of them was that beer could only be sold at designated stores. I managed one of them. I went to college in the day, managed the store from 2-10 PM six days per week. I thought it was pretty good, as I got $1.50 per hour and stole quite a bit of beer (we called it "breakage" but we didn't abuse it like the politicians abuse their ability to claim stupidity). I would come home to the Capehart housing and watch the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson while I ate a bit. Interestingly, my grades improved as I had NO TIME other than the scheduled work, class and study.

While I remember some of the atrocities that were happening in the world back then, including the assassinations in our country of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, I really can't identify my recognition of the Portugal situation. Therefore, I suggest you watch the movie.


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