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"Unemployed geezer, frustrated writer, forced into early retirement when the cotton mill where I worked for 48 years closed and went to Pakistan. In March of 2013, I did have the bad luck to actually die in the local ER. Luckily, ol’ Ben Franklin had discovered electricity and they shocked me back to life – or my version of it – with those magic paddles. I was further shocked that Alabama Power Company didn’t charge me a resurrection fee. Or hasn’t yet.”JL is a prolific commentator who would doubtless slap anyone who called him a “pundit.” My friend Hardy Jackson thinks JL represents “the voice of the people. Or at least a whole lot of them.” I’d like to think so, but, I know one thing, he not only speaks for me, but a lot better than I could do it myself.
Number of posts: 20
Email address: email
By JL Strickland:
even uncle sam has bad days
On the Fourth of July, we naturally think of Uncle Sam, our nation’s favorite icon. While I try to keep a positive attitude about Uncle Sam in July, I can’t forget the day the old man hurt my feelings in October.
Let me explain: Back in the day, Fairfax (AL) Cotton Mill chartered a bus to take the mill-village Boy Scouts to the Southeastern Fair in Atlanta. As a proud member of Fairfax Troop 10, I was thrilled at the prospect of such a magical journey. Going to the Southeastern Fair was like a trip to Mars…
tit for tat
I was never exactly sure whether my father, Bill Strickland, was an amateur adult or a professional adolescent. Here is just one of the many incidents that led to my confusion.
The Pledgers, Bryant and Erma, a middle age childless couple, were our next door neighbors in Fairfax , an east Alabama mill village, when I was growing up. Mr. Bryant operated the Sinclair Service Station at the cotton-mill village crossroads, which also served as the bus station. Miss Erma ran the cash register and kept the books.
sucker for bugle calls
Have you noticed that if you listen to people, everybody has a story? Even people who don’t realize they have one.
I’m sure you have.
Recently, an older acquaintance and I were talking about my early teenage years when I was often called upon to put on my Boy Scout uniform and play the bugle call “Taps” for area military funerals. Somehow, the conversation drifted to the death of his favorite uncle…
When I was growing up, the Chinese capital was pronounced “PEE-king.” There was no latitude in the pronunciation of this word. It was not POO-king nor PIE-king. It was PEE-king. To deliberately say the word otherwise would be risking a paddle swatted against your rump for cutting up or being a pest in class.
Then a few years ago, I noticed newscasters and politicians saying “BAY-sheeng,” instead of the well-worn, polished word implanted in my vocabulary. They would have a sneaky look on their faces like they were putting one over on us.
can't go home again
Dudley Snodgrass, called “Duddy” was a very intelligent boy. He learned to talk and walk at a young age, and in school his grades were perfect. His mother adored him, his teachers were constantly bragging on him. The other kids called him “Einstein” and “Brain” and some secretly resented him. Some not so secretly.
Painful, crippling shyness was the only chink in Duddy’s armor. When called on in class, he would turn beet red and stammer a stuttering answer. He would get physically ill when he had to stand before the class and give a book report…
satire on the campaign trail
My brother and sister Americans, let me introduce myself: my name is Arturo Tad Semple. Fearing someone might think I liked longhair classical music, or read books, or attended foreign movies, or watched PBS, or was born in Italy or France, or god forbid, Kenya, I dropped the “Arturo” years ago in favor of just a simple, less confusing “A.” I hope this information makes it easier to understand why I am known as A. Tad Semple.
I prefer it that way. It is an unique name and is easy to remember. And it fits me.
As if I needed any further proof that I spend too much time on the Internet, I ran across an alarming article that describes a new fad – anus bleaching – which is popular among some rich, vain, mostly Hollywood women. And, no doubt, probably more than a few men.
(I won’t say what I was looking for when I found this outlandish website. That information is on a need-to-know basis.)
Back in the sixties, when I was 25, the all-wise, all knowing company management, in a poorly thought-out decision, offered me a third-shift supervisor’s job in the east Alabama cotton mill where I had been working since the age of 16. The fourth generation of my family to do so. In a fit of even greater lunacy, I took the job. My new boss was a hard-boiled character I will call Mr. Ely. Though I had never worked for Mr. Ely before, I knew his reputation. At the mere mention of Mr. Ely’s name, many hard, tough men would curse under their breath; sweet, motherly, sparkly-eyed old ladies would spit.
sho’ ‘nuff yummy
There is an old story about the ten-year old Alabama boy, Junior, who had never spoken a word in his life. Then, one morning at the breakfast table, the lad suddenly blurted out, greatly annoyed, “Mama, you’ve burned these here biscuits!”
His mother and the rest of the family were dumbstruck. After she regained her composure, the mother said, “Praise the lord, Junior – those were the first words you’ve ever spoken; you’ve never said anything before.”
Junior frowned at her and said, “Well, Mama, up ’til now, everything’s been all right!”
love american style
The virulent American contagion of giving St. Valentine’s Day cards can be traced back to patient zero, a certain teen-age girl in Worcester, Massachusetts.
It was there in 1847 that, after seeing crude, poorly designed British Valentine cards in her father’s stationery shop, 19-year-old Esther Howland decided she could come up with a prettier, more romantic offering. Esther did, and how; her printed, colorful love sentiments swept through the American populace like strep throat through a kindergarten.
the water is rising
An old Jewish curse says, “May Your Life Be Filled With Lawyers.” Better lawyers than bedpans. Unlike actors in televised medical fables, real people who work at hospitals, while sometimes angelic, are mainly natural-born Homo sapiens, just like the rest of us –- part devil, part saint, but all too human. They mostly mean well, but many days, they just do not give a flip. And some, like former President Dubya Bush, obviously chose the wrong line of work.
my head hurts
It is just a matter of time until Medicare recipients are forced to wear a bell around their necks like Biblical lepers. Already, in some doctors’ offices, Medicare patients are as unwelcome as dog poo on a white Sunday shoe. Even some TV faith-healing evangelists no longer treat senior citizens.
There have always been some who loathed and despised poor sick people – not only Republicans…
way it's 'sposed to be
I would like to take this opportunity to say “Happy Labor Day” to those workers who produce the tsunami of goods swamping America’s retail establishments. I would like to do this, but, regrettably, I do not speak Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Hindu, Pakistani, or any other Asian dialect. (Levi’s are now made in Egypt, for pete’s sake. Pete is the American who lost his job.)
But, to be fair, due to the uptick in the economy, many more Americans have, thankfully, found employment; however, in most areas of the country, an Ivory-billed Woodpecker is easier to find than a good-paying job.
loved to death
An acquaintance of mine, whom I will call Jasper, returning from a Florida fishing trip, after not catching a single fish and suffering a severe sunburn, once bought a used monkey at one of those back-roads’ tourist traps.
Jasper said the monkey was the most pitiful-looking critter he ever saw — skinny, its matted hair flecked with grey. Its sad eyes pleaded to him. Jasper and the unfortunate simian connected on a telepathic, spiritual level — one desperate guy to another.
satire from the darkside
Walmart, swashbuckling privateer of American commerce, is casting its grappling hooks at the lucrative, always in demand, funeral industry. Is anybody surprised?
According to Wily Ebeneezer, Walmart Director of Roughshod Practices, the mercantile behemoth’s version of Area 51 in Rigor Mortis Springs, Arkansas, has developed discount funerals for their thrifty-minded customers. (And ain’t they all?)
Long before the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments concerning The Affordable Health Care Act, many esteemed legal scholars were skeptical that such a hearing would ever come to pass. Indeed, Harvard law professor, Charles Fried, said if the High Court ever considered the legality of Obamacare, he would eat the kangaroo-skin hat that he had recently purchased in Australia.
Now, I’m not holding my breath waiting for Mr. Fried to eat his hat; it’s not even certain that his promise was legally binding, even though the good professor made his hat-eating offer on Fox News.
The outcome of Christie’s recent auction of General Robert E. Lee’s precious navel lint left even the most jaded “Lost Cause” memorabilia mavens gobsmacked and whistling Dixie. Not to mention afflicting many frustrated, heart-broken losing bidders with a temporary paralysis that baffled emergency physicians compared to the old-timey Southern Belle “vapors.”
This dream-crushing auction loss brutalized their very star and barred souls.
state tax credits at work
If you have noticed your TV smelling a little mildewy lately, or have found tendrils of Spanish moss clogging your TiVo, there is a perfectly good reason – the basic cable producers have discovered the Louisiana swamps; and like the Nazis who invaded Poland, they are not going to settle for just one kielbasa. Even though there is an old saying that if you’ve seen one alligator, you’ve seen them all, evidently Hollywood TV producers can tell the difference; granted, they are experts at dealing with thick-skinned carnivores after their experiences with the Kardashians…
could happen to anyone
Back during WWII, there was a manpower shortage in the east Alabama cotton mills, and my Grandfather, Jim Strickland, sold his backwoods Randolph County farm, and moved to the Chattahoochee Valley still seeking his fortune. Even at his advanced age, and with failing health, he easily found a job as an armed guard, watching the truck gate at Fairfax Mill.
Whether the nation’s Intelligence Services had uncovered an Axis plot to destroy Alabama cotton mills, I couldn’t say…
growin' up southern
When I was eight years old, about the same year, more or less, that the mule stepped on my toes, we went to visit my country kinfolk up in west Randolph County at Christmas. Some of them lived sho’ ’nuff in the sticks, if that is not a redundancy.
One of my mother’s cousins lived near the Tallapoosa River, down a narrow, rutted dirt road, in the deep woods, in an old unpainted house, not much more than a cabin. It didn’t have a porch, or running water or electricity. She had five kids. There was another cramped hovel within yards of that dwelling…