OFF ON A NEW ADVENTURE

Yesterday Morning I finished reading “The Borrowers”. I was saddened that the adventures of the Clock Family ended where it did. Yet I was heartened by the fact that there are still 4 more books in the series for me to continue the adventure with these little people.
Today I made my way out the back door, up the drainage gutter, across the small wooden bridge and up the brick path towards the pool. Skirting the pool on the stone paver’s I finally arrived at the patio and nestled into my favorite chair. With coffee in one hand and book in the other I sat down and breathed in the cool, fresh morning air.
Taking a sip of my coffee I set the cup on the table. As the sounds of the birds, small mammals and insects that live in the thicket that surround my patio sang their sweet music into my ears I opened my book; “The Wind In The Willows” By Kenneth Graham. I read the wonderful introduction by Winnie The Pooh creator A.A. Milne which included a copy of a letter by President Theodore Roosevelt praising the book. I then turned to Chapter One to begin a grand adventure with Mole, River Rat, Badger and of course that grand adventure and irresponsible flighty Mr. Toad.
Ah what adventures await me over the next two weeks as I sip my morning brew and flip the pages. With wonderful pen and ink and watercolor illustrations by Alice In Wonderland illustrator Arthur Rackham I am sure to have a grand time with the grand denizens of the river.
This book, more so than any other I have ever read, so fully encompasses the spirit and the life of the Gypsy. Kenneth Graham may have not been Romani but the Banker turned story teller had the heart and soul of one. As Water Rat so adeptly put it, “It’s my world and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.”

-The GYPSY-
August 20, 2020
Topeka, Kansas

ENOUGH

I don’t know what did it. I don’t know if it was the Orange Man’s daily wiping of his butt with our Constitution that did it. Maybe it was his attacks on our election process or was it all the illegal acts he has done while in office. Was it the Orange Man’s vile , racist and un-Christian divisive rhetoric that made me turn off the morning news? I really don’t know what did it but what I do know is that one day I decided that I would not fill up my mornings with Orange Man TV any longer; I’m done. Oh I will probably continue to watch Comedy Centrals Daily Show and I will watch the Sunday morning news programs just to stay caught up. But daily viewing of the individual that wants to rip our country, environment and constitution to shreds has ended.
I now spend my mornings sitting on my patio by the pool surrounded by trees sipping my morning coffee and revisiting books that I have loved in my life. I am currently reading “The Borrowers” and next will be “Wind In The Willows”. “Once and Future King” is on that list as well as “The Book of Merlin” and “Charlotte’s Web”. There is a very long list of my favorite novels and I will spend at least an hour a day (if not more), falling into those worlds and words between the pages.
The other morning as I finished a chapter of “The Borrowers” and placed the book on the patio table a female Thrush landed on the three lamp post and greeted me with a shrill weeee-eeee.
“Well Good Morning Mrs. Thrush” I said tipping my head towards her. “Weeee?” she asked. “Why I am just sitting here reading my book and drinking my coffee”. She cocked her head and said “Weeee -eeee.” I laughed. “I quite a agree, it is a good morning for finding grubs.” She jumped over to another lamp and said, “Weeee.” I shook my head, “No I haven’t seen your husband but maybe he went back into the thicket.” She looked towards the thicket and bobbing her head she bid me a good day with a weeee-eeee that preceded her flight away. “You have a good day also Mrs. Thrush” I said waving good bye.
Within a few minutes the Crickets and Cicadas were asking if Mrs. Thrush was gone and if it was safe for them to sing again. I assured them it was. “Mrs. Thrush is looking for Grubs and her wayward husband this morning, I don’t think you need to worry about being eaten.” I finished my coffee and headed inside to begin my daily duties as an adult and responsible business owner.
I really don’t know what did it but what I do know is that one day I decided that I would not fill up my mornings with Orange Man TV any longer. I will fill my mornings with coffee, books and the creatures that live in the thicket around my patio. I wonder what Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel will be up to tomorrow morning.
-The GYPSY-
Topeka, Kansas
14 August 2020

EIGHTY FIVE YEARS YOUNG

Today would have been Shirley Elizabeth Hummel’s 85th Birthday. She was my Mother. She was also many other things in her life. But first and foremost she was my Mother and I failed her.

It is a sad and recurring twist of fate that too many of us do not realize of understand how important our parents were and are to us until it is too late. I am one of those. My Mother, despite her mental illness was there for me as I was growing up yet in her twilight years I was not there for her until the very end.
Would she have survived to see her 85th Birthday if I had not of turned my back on her for so many years? Only God knows the answer to that. What I know is that I let my hate of her illness blind me to the fact that she needed me.

My mother was struggling to deal with day to day problems that vex us all. These problems are easily solved by most but for her she needed someone to help her through them, she needed me; yet I was not there. Shirley was lonely, she needed family, her family did not need her. Her family was me and I did not realize until it was too late that I did need her.
My mother needed love and she looked for it in all the wrong places. One of those wrong places that she looked was in a “Looking For Love” classified in a tabloid. That ad took her to a loveless marriage in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I had to rescue her years later from unscrupulous Canadian Government Trustees that stole her money and left her lost and confused in a Canadian Senior Warehouse.

In the last two years of her life I was there for her, every single day except the last week of her life. My ex-wife Debbie was there for her also, being with her, when I couldn’t, as she breathed her last. We had moved my mother from a nursing facility in Independence, Kansas to a nursing facility in Abilene, Texas in anticipation of a move to that community. I was in Independence, Kansas closing our business and making arrangements for the move. Shirley contracted a Urinary Tract infection and died as I was en route to Abilene. I will always be grateful to Debbie that she was there in my Mothers final moments so that she did not have to die alone.
I was able to be there for my Mother in the last two years of her life but I should have been there all of her life as she tried to there all of my life.

Whoever may read this please take these lessons away from this writing:
1) Do not allow Doctors to put your elderly loved ones on Geodon, Haldol or Serequil. These drugs will kill them.
If currently on those drugs ween them off immediately.
Always remember, your parents were there for you, be there for them.
2) Put aside your grievance and/or your problems with those you love, those things are not important. What is important is that you love them and are there for them.
3) Forgiveness is not only important but it is also in required. If you love and believe in God then you believe in his word; “Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely — to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him … Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive.” -2 Corinthians 2:5-8, 10- The Good News: To forgive is an act of kindness that helps other people heal in God’s light as well. It is not enough to forgive you must also embrace.
4) Be there for your parents they need you more than they say and more than you know.

Would my mother be alive today to celebrate her 85th Birthday if I would have put aside my grievance and problems with her? Would I be taking her out to a Birthday Breakfast (her favorite meal), this morning rather than sitting here writing this if I had forgiven her instead of holding a grudge for so many years? I would like to think so. What I do know is this; I know I did right by my Mother in her final days. She was not alone and she was loved. I just wish I would have done right by her in all the days that proceeded those final days.

SHIRLEY ELIZABETH HUMMEL BORN SILVERLAKE, KANSAS JULY 26, 1935. DIED ABILENE, TEXAS MAY 16, 2010.

Happy Birthday Mom. I Love and Miss You Each and Every Day. -Your Jimmy-

OUR EASTER GIFT TO YOU A FREE EBOOK BY: The GYPSY

OUR EASTER GIFT TO YOU A FREE EBOOK BY: The GYPSY. AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON.COM APRIL 12 TO APRIL 16, 2020While we spend Easter at home during this Pandemic we invite you to enjoy this FREE EBOOK by The GYPSY to pass the time. Stay Healthy and Safe.
https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B086GYNQQP&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_u8DKEbT6R7HX1&tag=thegypsy0e-20

GIANT YELLOW BLOWUP BUNNY

My Mother Shirley always tried her hardest, even when money was tight, to give me and my sister Pat a good Easter. Our Easter Baskets were always some type of Hat or Cap. I still remember the year of the Plastic Fedora. She would put a small amount of Easter Grass in the head wear, always green she did not like the pastel colored grass. There would be Peeps, Chocolate Bunnies, Brightly Colored Foil Wrapped Chocolate Eggs and lots and lots of Jelly Beans. Then the toys! I always got a model kit, some sort of flying toy; whirley gig, glider, kite or Frisbee. There would be smaller toys too. Plastic Toy Soldiers, Plastic Eggs filled with more Jelly Beans and Fuzzy Chicks and Bunnies.

My sister always got a Doll, A Game and some sort of outside toy; Ball, Jump Rope, Lawn Darts, etc. She would also get a lot of small toys similar to mine except instead of Toy Soldiers she would get small Plastic Animals or Dinosaurs.

My 11th Easter we were living in the roach infested duplex behind Saint Josephs Church in Topeka. This would be the first Easter away from my Grandmothers House. My Grandmother and Mother had an epic argument that had led to my Mothers eviction. Grandma had said us children could stay but Mom had to go. Mom was having none of that so here we were, on Easter, in a very different home from the wonderful and secure home us children had known all of our life. Mom was determined that Easter would go on as usual minus Church as the church we attended, First Church of the Nazarene, was also my Grandmothers Church home. The wounds were still fresh and Mom was still feeling very bitter.

Mom spent all night coloring hard boiled eggs and hiding them outside. Hiding them outside consisted of placing them in the Iris Bed between the side of the duplex and the alley and around a small brick patio behind the duplex. For all practical purposes the Duplex had no yard but Mom would not let that stop her. She managed to hide over a dozen eggs which me and my sister collected on Easter Morning while the sound of Easter Mass drifted on the clear and warm Spring morning.

After the eggs were collected we got our Easter Baskets (hats), and they consisted of the usual suspects (this was the year of the aforementioned Plastic Fedora). besides the Model, this year a 1956 Ford Truck, and a Kite there was something else. Mom had included in both my sister and my hats was a plastic giant blowup Rabbit. Now I am sure by now you are asking yourself; How did Shirley get all of that into a plastic Fedora? The answer is that my Mother was a Master Gift Wrapper and using an intricate series of Ribbon and Brightly Colored Tissue Paper she created a tower of Easter joy.

My Rabbit was yellow with a clear belly full of confetti and my sisters was purple with the same clear belly full of confetti. On the back of the bunny inside the belly was a joyous Easter Scene of the Easter Bunny with a basket full of Easter Eggs. In one hand the goofy looking giant yellow blowup bunny held an orange and green carrot. I was in that period between childhood and teenager; I felt I was too “Big” for this kind of toy yet I blew it up and took it outside. I sat on the curb by the alley turning it over and over, watching the confetti float inside. I sat the giant, yellow, blowup bunny by the purple blooming Iris’ and looked at it while I peeled an egg. I thought about how that would make a good Easter picture; maybe I would draw it later.

It was not long before my Mom came out and announced it was time for our annual Easter picnic. I took my Bunny inside and sat it on top of the dresser in my room. We left and stopped at KFC for fried chicken. My mother, me and my sister happily ate the Colonels secret blend of 11 herbs and spices at a coveted picnic table in Gage Park. After our repast my sister and I played upon the concrete animals in Animal Land. We then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Topeka Zoo which was crowded with other families celebrating Easter in a like manner. late in the afternoon we returned home.

I lay upon my small bed and stared at the blowup bunny on the dresser. I thought about Easters past. This one had been different because it wasn’t filled with Grandma’s cooking or the large family gatherings we usually had. We had not gone to church which seemed an odd thing to me. I did not totally understand the disagreement between my mother and my grandmother and it would be years before I did but to my eleven year old mind it seemed silly.

Soon I drifted off to sleep and within those final moments before the sandman visited I knew that my Mother had tried to give us the best Easter she could and she did.The giant yellow blowup Bunny sat upon that dresser until it eventually went to wherever giant yellow blowup bunnies go when their time has past. That Easter day of April 14, 1968 is long gone but my memory of it and its importance remains with me to this day.

HAPPY EASTER MOM!

-THE GYPSY- APRIL 12, 2020

MAKING NORMAN

Now Available As An eBook On Amazon.Com
MAKING NORMAN: A CHRISTMAS STORY
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084DRXPD3

Making Norman is the story of Norman The Nutcracker who does not know he is a Nutcracker and who does not know his name is Norman. But most importantly of all Norman the Nutcracker does not know what his purpose is. The only thing Norman really knows is that he must find his name and purpose which he soon discovers is not being a Nutcracker.

Follow the adventures of Norman the Nutcracker from his creation in the Toy Makers Factory to his abduction from the toy factory to his quest in the downtown streets of Topeka, Kansas to discover his name and his purpose.

This is the first children’s book by one of America’s favorite artists James A. George AKA; The GYPSY. Illustrated by the author young and old alike will delight in Norman the Nutcrackers adventures and the amazing friends he meets on his way to discovering himself.

Christmas Eve 1967

CHRISTMAS EVE 1967
The snow flakes fell through the glow of the street light like crystal white butterflies stopped in mid flight to float gently to the ground. Laying within the glow of the street light which created the stage onto which the flakes transformed into a crystal blanket of white.
It was 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve of 1967 and I watched the the magic of the snow fall from the small porch of our small duplex behind Saint Josephs Catholic Church on Third Street in Topeka. At 11 years old I was in that in between age where I still wanted toys for Christmas but I wanted mature toys. I worried that my mother would buy me kiddie toys instead of the race cars and construction sets I craved.
She had given me good reason to worry this Christmas without knowing she had. I kept my concerns private and locked away. My mothers mental state had always been fragile but it had worsen within the past year after her and my grandmother had a falling out that had resulted in our eviction from my grandmothers home and into the duplex where we now lived.
I sighed. Mom had purchased an artificial Christmas Tree. I had always been fortunate, at least in my view, to have big and glorious live trees. But now we had this grotesque wire and plastic green monstrosity that resembled a Christmas Tree in name only. Yet for me that wasn’t the worst of it. This was the year that my mother decided that she would trim the tree in miniature twinkling lights instead of our large colorful bulbs and bubble lights. She had also not trimmed the tree with our beautiful glass ornaments. Rather she had found some punch out books of paper ornaments and had trimmed the tree in those. From the fake plastic flowers in which the twinkle lights rested to paper wise men, angels, elves and Santa’s the whole tree, to me, was a monstrosity. I was struggling to find a Christmas spirit.
I stepped back inside and surveyed the tree trying to find something of redeeming value in it and I could find nothing to like or care for in it. I shut off the ceiling light and looked at the small blinking lights through slighted eyes. Nope, it just was not working for me. I had to get out of the house and away from the tree that seemed to mock our life. I grabbed my coat, hat and gloves and left the duplex.
As I walked up Third street towards Jackson Street through the new fallen snow I started to feel more peaceful than I had a few minutes before. My sister, who was 4 years old at the time, was spending the evening at the babysitters house up the street. My mom was at work in the Toy Department at Pellitiers Department store downtown and that is where I had decided my feet would carry me.
The snow fell in big flakes softly to the ground. The air was still and because of the lack of wind the cold December air did not have the icy chill it normally did. As I walked the snow lightly crunch, crunch, crunched beneath my foot steps. I was aware that I was the only living thing walking down Jackson Street on this snowy Christmas Eve night. No dogs barked at my passing, no curious eyes gazed from windows as I walked by, no cars disturbed the clean snow in the street and no human, besides myself braved the night and the snow. I was a lone in the world, the last human on earth and I revealed in it. I prayed that this quiet fantasy world that I now found myself in would not end. The solitude was mine and belonged only to me. I did not want to share this peaceful, glistening, white covered world with anyone else.
As I approached the Capital Building I saw that the snow obscured the top of the green copper dome. I could just barely make out the glow of the search light at the top which seemed to float along with the falling snow. I turned onto 9th street and my fantasy of solitude dissipated. The sidewalks were alive with last minute Christmas shoppers flocking in and out of Pellitiers. The street crowded with vehicles picking up those shoppers or looking for places to park. I few minutes before I had walked by Crosby’s Department store which had closed early on this Christmas eve and the lack of activity there was a very stark contrast to the chaos here that was not lost on me.
I entered the warm lobby of Pellitiers and made my way past shoppers into the main store. Walking past the candy counter the Holiday tunes floating down from the organ above on the Mezzanine blanketed the store in Santa’s, Mangers and Winter Wonderlands. I found my way to the stairway down to the basement and smiled as I looked at the large ceramic Santa standing on the landing. His bag of goodies thrown over his shoulder held there by his green mittened left hand, while his green mittened right hand waved to all that transcended the stairs. I rubbed his shiny red belly as I passed and said “Ho, Ho Ho” giving him a voice he did not have.
I wound my way through Toyland stopping now and again to look at toys I would never have. As I passed the Pellitiers Santa he smiled and waved at me. I smiled and waved back. He was an old wino that they hired every year to fill the boots of the jolly old elf. He was a good man who liked children. He would not drink while on duty but if you had seen him away from his Christmas duty it would be obvious that his true love was the cheap vino he picked up for a fistful of change at the liquor store.
I pushed through the swinging doors of the stock room and opened the door to the small room behind Santa’s Throne. “Hi Mom” I said as I entered the room. My mother looked up from the bicycle she was assembling, clearly startled she said, “Oh Hi James, what are you doing here?” I shrugged, “Just thought I’d come down and walk home with you.” My mother smiled and said, “That will be nice.” She went back to assembling the bicycle. I spent the 30 minutes before she got off work and Pellitiers closed for the night flipping through a stack of Doctor Seuss books in the stockroom.
As my mother and I walked home we did not talk for a while. The snow was still falling but not quite as hard as it had been on my journey to the store. We retraced my steps and my mother noticed that my footprints were the only ones in the snow. As a large green Oldsmobile rounded the corner of 4th street and turned onto Jackson Street my mother pointed over at the Bluebird Lounge. “If your Dad was here we would find him there.” I laughed, “Yep” was my response. We walked along in silence a little ways further and as we turned onto Third Street my mother said, “I can’t believe you walked through all this snow to walk downtown and back home with me.” I shrugged, “It was something to do.” I didn’t tell her that I needed to get a way from her idea of Christmas cheer.
As we walked past Saint Josephs we could hear Christmas Eve Mass taking place inside. The internal lights lit up the colorful stain glass windows which illuminated the stations of the cross. It was a very surrealistic effect as the snow fell across the window panes bathed in the bright colors. White snowflakes turned blue, red, yellow and green, my artist eye captivated in the dance of color. While mom walked on up the street to retrieve my sister I stood on the porch of the duplex watch the display and listening to the beautiful music.
From the moment I had stood on the porch watching the snow fall through the street light to standing on the porch watching the colorful display and listening to Christmas Mass less than two hours had past. Yet within that two hour period on that long ago Christmas Eve I had regained what I had lost; the Christmas Spirit. I wish I could find that spirit again. I have never again, since that time, felt that same sense of magic or wonder of Christmas. I have tried to find it and recapture it but it has remained elusive.
I am now 63 years old and that Christmas Eve is a thing of my past but I have always held it close, my own private personal treasure to occasionally visit. It is my memory of the last time I truly felt the Christmas Spirit with the wonder of a child and it is a memory more valuable to me than all the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh the Wise Men carried to Baby Jesus.
-The GYPSY-12/24/2019

OCTOBER 25, 1956

Today, October 25th, I was born in Topeka, Kansas at Saint Francis Hospital. In remembrance of my Birthday and the people that conceived me I would like to share with you an excerpt from my upcoming book; “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One”. This excerpt involves things that happened surrounding and associated with my birth and does not begin in 1956 but opens in a cemetery in Holton, Kansas on a cold wet March day in 1979.

You would not give what I have gave – What did you gain, what did you save? – Shaping words not my own – Recalling memories never shown A touch, connection which cannot stand – Left on the surface of the cold still hand

I twirled the end of the cigarette between my fingers feeling the heat come off the glowing red tobacco as I forced the smoldering cherry from the end of the smoke. I watched the burning ember hit the hard ground and I could hear the sizzle as the wetness swallowed the cherry. I had no desire to disrespect the dead by tossing my cigarette on the ground in this sacred place.

I looked towards the coffin and the small group gathered near it. Some were standing but most were sitting in the folding chairs that faced the coffin like the seats in a theatre.

The funeral director with an air of solemnity that he performed on a daily basis, lifted the lid of the casket and busied himself with laying back the shroud and tidying up the body. He did this swiftly with his back to the assembled audience like a magician preparing to amaze and astound. Observe, an empty box, PRESTO a body.

The undertaker silently moved away from the casket and folded his hands in silent reverence. I slowly approached this odd tableau that I did not want to be a part of.

As I drew nearer I could see the tip of a nose then a rounded head with dark greased back thinning hair. A paisley shirt and burgundy polyester leisure suit hung loosely upon a thin, gaunt body.

I drew closer to the casket, all eyes upon me, boring into my back and pushing me onward. I looked down upon a face made of wax, a mannequin dug out of the dusty storeroom of a defunct department store. Someone as some sort of cruel joke had painted the mannequin to resemble a thinner, older version of me.

Was it made of plaster? It could be or maybe plastic.

I reached out a trembling left hand and touched the shoulder of the wine colored polyester. My hand rested there for a moment as I studied the features and let my gaze drift down to the bloodless hands crossed one over the other.

Wow, what detail they get into these mannequin’s. It actually looks like real hair on the back of the hand and on the fingers. Fingers, finger, ring finger, empty…

I looked at my left hand, the hand that rested on the shoulder of the mannequin, the hand upon where the middle finger held a ring. The ring had rested upon that finger since 1968 and had only been removed three times. Each time it had been removed I had suffered a broken bone so suffice it to say I was more than a little superstitious about it and it’s significance. Now standing here, in this mist on this cold gray day next to this overpriced box that held the earthly remains of Lee Roy Everett George the true significance of the ring suddenly hit me like a rock fired from the sling of a Sheppard boy. The ring had belonged to the man in the box. The ring had been a promise of love, a promise that had been broken. The ring had been given to my Father by my Mother and later to me by my Mother as a connection to my Father.

My Father who now lay pale and silent before me and no longer belonged to this earth but who would soon be beneath her surface. Oh God, the rain has blocked out my vision, my breath is gone and my heart now resides in my throat.

******

Shirley’s pregnancy had been difficult. She had contracted toxemia and had almost lost the baby.

Little Jimmy had been born exactly two months to the day premature at 8:35 pm on October 25th of 1956. He had been a King James birth, his head twisted around backwards which the Doctor had corrected before the small baby had left the birth canal.

Shirley thought that the child had looked like a little peanut and had sobbed with joy when they placed the small squirming bundle in her arms. She had a miracle baby and Lee Roy had a son.

Lee had been driving a taxi in Houston and Shirley had been able to get a call through to him the day after the baby was born. They had both agreed that James was a perfect name for their child considering the circumstances of his birth. They had also decided to give him the middle name of Alan. Not because it had any special significance but because it just seemed to flow off the tongue, James Alan George.

After the incident in Houston with Wesley, Lee Roy had moved the pregnant Shirley up to Topeka, Kansas and placed her into the care of her Mother. Pearl did not like Lee Roy and made no effort to hide it but she had remarked to Shirley that she had been thankful for him to, “Have enough sense to bring Shirley home where she could get proper care.”

Shirley, for her part, was actually thankful that the incident with Wesley had occurred.

Ever since it had happened she no longer felt as if Lee Roy’s affections were split between her and Wilma. Lee had become very devoted to her. It was Lee Roy who had returned home to find Wesley forcing himself on Shirley and it had been Lee Roy who had hurtled the body of his brother into the television set. Lee Roy had a temper and it had been on full display that night. It was all he could do not to kill Wesley for his trespass.

Lee Roy gave up the Merchant Marines to drive Yellow Cabs and had gone back to the logging camps. He had told Shirley that when he wasn’t logging up North he would work the Texas oil fields for the good money to make a life for them and their baby. Lee Roy had been good to his word and was even now setting up a home for the three of them in Texas.

******

Shirley stood in front of the jewelry counter at Pelletier’s department store looking at the wedding sets. Lee Roy had promised her that they would be married as soon as he could get Wilma to agree to a divorce. Wilma had been fighting him refusing to let go but Shirley was confident that Wilma would eventually give in and turn Lee loose. So until that time Shirley would continue to browse and window shop the stores for those things that would one day make the wedding she dreamed of the most glorious moment of her life.

Shirley had been at the counter for a quarter hour looking at the rings in the glass case. She was just starting to move away when a glint of light caught her eye.

At the back of the case amid the numerous displays of diamond and gold rings a single black velvet finger stood at a slightly arched angle. Upon this finger rested a wedding set consisting of the man’s band, the woman’s band and the engagement ring. There was really nothing unusual or spectacular about the set that made it more outstanding than any of the other sets. It was in fact almost too simple in it’s way when compared to the other sets around it.

The engagement ring was a simple gold band with a small quarter carrot diamond solitaire. The woman’s band consisted of another simple gold band in which small divots were cut around the top and bottom edge of the ring.

Between the divots the ring slightly bowed out creating a curved effect. The man’s band echoed the design of the woman’s band except that it was a little larger and wider in size.

No, there was really nothing special that would make this set outstanding except it’s simplicity. It was the purity of design that attracted Shirley. She had always felt that as complicated as the relationship between her and Lee Roy had been that their love was simple and pure. She felt that this set in the diamond solitaire represented the complexities of their relationship while the bands were a symbol of the simplicity of their love. “Harrumph!”

The sound brought Shirley out of her revelry making her jump. She turned to see Mr. Harrison, the floor walker, standing at her left elbow.

“Mr. Harrison you startled me.” Shirley said as she placed a hand over her heart.

“Evidently!” he dryly intoned, “And does your Mother know you are here?” Shirley hated his pompous attitude and snooty manner. Does he think he is talking to a child?

“No Harrison, my Mommy doesn’t know I am here. Why don’t you run upstairs and tell her. Or perhaps you would like a dozen vestal virgins to carry you up while naked children throw rose petals at your feet.” Shirley knew that the suggestion of Harrison’s rumored desire for younger lovers would get under his skin.

She doubted if he had ever dated anyone under eighteen but for a man nearing 50 Shirley found it disgusting that most of the women he was seen with looked like girls barely out of High school.

Harrison tugged at the corners of his slick gray vest, brushed off the sleeves of his immaculate black wool jacket, readjusted the red rose in his lapel hole, cleared his throat and turning to leave said, “Ladies.”

Slightly dipping his head and touching the edge of his mustache Harrison walked away.

Ladies? Why did he say ladies? “

I think you hurt his feelings!”

Shirley turned around to see Alice MacElwayne standing on the other side of the jewelry counter. This was her department and she ruled it with the pride that comes from the knowledge that it was her efforts that kept this department running smoothly and making a profit for the company. “Oh, Hi Alice,” Shirley said a little sheepishly, “How long have you been there?”

Alice shook her graying head and let a small smile cross her lips, “Long enough,” came her reply.

“He just really pisses me off,” Shirley stammered, “what I am doing is none of his business!”

Alice shook a finger at Shirley, “Language dear,” she admonished. Shirley grimaced under the reprimand. Alice and Pearl were best friends and at times Shirley felt like she was talking to her mother when she spoke with Alice.

“He thinks he owns the store,” Alice chuckled, “Sometimes I wish I could live within my delusions.”

Shirley sighed, “Do you think he’ll tell mom what I said?” She asked. “Without a shadow of a doubt,” answered Alice. “The little weasel is probably in her office now re-enacting the whole scene.”

Both women looked up as if they could see through the ornate tin ceiling and into Pearls second floor office.

“So, were we doing a little daydreaming dear?” Alice asked.

Shirley blushed as Alice nodded her head and reached below the counter. “Here,” she said sliding a layaway form across the counter and laying a pen on top of it, “fill this out.”

Shirley looked at the form and back up at Alice who was removing the wedding set from the velvet finger.

“Hurry dear, your mom will be here any moment and we don’t want to let her in on our little secret, do we?”

-J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

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The GYPSY’s Blog: Sharing A Moment In Time.

On October 25th I will celebrate 63 years on this big blue marble. This year also gave birth to another classic, besides myself, that is celebrating 80 years of being the most loved movie of all time. In honor of that movie and my upcoming birthday I would like to share this excerpt with you from my upcoming book: “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One”. What you are about to read is a true story involving real people. This part of the story is of a journey that starts in July of 2013 and ends in August of 1939.

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As I approached the Ghost Town of Bomarton, Texas the big road machines were busy on the east side of the road turning dirt into highway. Up ahead on my right I could see 3 Cotton Trucks waiting to turn onto the highway. Cotton is a major crop in that area of Texas and though Bomarton is a Ghost Town they still have a working Gin.

As I approached the intersection at 70 mph the first of the three trucks pulled out in front of me.As the big red truck lumbered into the highway I found myself left with a split second decision; Hit the shoulder, hit the truck or pass quickly due to an approaching hill. Hitting the shoulder was not an option as there was no shoulder, the road crews had seen to that. Hitting the truck was definitely out of the question as I did not want to mar his pretty red paint job with my pretty red blood. So that left option number three; pass quickly due to an approaching hill.

Opening up the throttle I accelerated and forced Black Betty, my 2001 Harley-Davidson Roadking into the oncoming lane. As we maneuvered around the slow moving giant I checked the lane ahead. At the top of the hill was an intersection and a silver car was approaching it quickly from the left road. Without slowing down or stopping the driver turned his silver death machine right and into the oncoming lane and straight towards me. I was at the point of no return and I opened the throttle all the way; 85, 90, 95 at 100mph the big V-Twin shot past the front of crimson killer and back into our north bound lane just in time to have the discourteous and oblivious driver of the four wheel casket zoom on by heading south and barely missing me. I saluted the driver of the cotton truck with my middle finger to assure him that he was number one in my book. I then said a silent prayer of thanks to God and the Angels he had sent to watch over me.

I stopped in Seymore, Texas at the Allsups Truck stop to top off my tank. I was 125 miles from home. My tank will take me, on the highway, 175 miles before it goes to reserve. The highway between Seymore and Wichita Falls is a long and lonely stretch with no services in between. It is a section of road that no one would ever want to find themselves broke down on for any reason as help would be a long time coming. And I had no desire to find myself without gas on that road on this particular day.

Seymore, Texas is a dying town even though it can lay claim as the county seat it is dying just the same. It is a victim of that all American village murderer; the by-pass. Like so many towns in Texas and elsewhere the powers that be have seen fit to take away the towns economy by moving the highway from the center of town to the outskirts with only one or two inconvenient exits for travelers to enter or leave.

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I imagine Seymore, in it’s heyday, to be much the same as Silver Lake, Kansas must have been at the time of my Mothers birth on July 26, 1935. My Mother was born in a barn on a farm on the outskirts of Silver Lake near Highway 24. The barns loft was now an apartment. It was the middle of the depression and my Grandfather had lost everything due to a nasty divorce from his first wife and the stock market crash of 1929. My Grandfather was a Dentist with a practice in Dodge City, Kansas when my Grandmother became pregnant with the child that would one day be my Mother. There was already a son, Karl, and Pearl was hoping for a baby girl. A couple of years previous the Hummel’s had lost their oldest child, Priscilla (named after Oscars Mother), to the whopping cough. This baby was important because Pearl was a small woman and this might be her last child as she gave birth to large children and it was very hard on her.

That was not to say that she was weak or frail, she was not, Pearl was of pioneer stock. She was born in a sod house on the Clang homestead in the Texas Panhandle in 1904. Cowboys came from near and far to see the first “White” baby girl born in Canadia, Texas. Pearl Adaline Clang Married Oscar Lennox Hummel in 1926. Oscar called Topeka, Kansas home and was quite a bit older than her. My Grandmother once hinted that it was an arranged marriage that was financially beneficial to her parents. Be that as it may she loved him and bore Oscar his first child, Priscilla in 1930.

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I finished fueling my Motorcycle and grabbed a couple of Chimichanga’s and a bottle of water from Allsups deli. If you are ever traveling through Texas or New Mexico stop at the Allsups and treat yourself to their Chimi’s, they are not to be missed. As I sat on my bike savoring the Chimi’s a stray dog wandered the truck stop parking lot looking for scraps on the ground. The dog, looking for a hand out approached an old man who was limping down the street. The old man shooed the hungry animal away with his cane and continued on his way.I watched the old man hobble away and thought about Oscar. He had a club foot yet was still able to serve his country during World War I in his capacity as a Dentist and it was while serving his country that he became incurably crippled with the disease that would one day take his life 40 years later.

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As I left Seymore and maneuvered Black Betty back onto the highway I thought about my Grandfather. I thought about how Oscar had graduated from Dental School in Kansas City, Missouri. I thought about how badly he wanted to serve his country when America entered the war in Europe. I tried to imagine his elation when he discovered that he would be able to go over to Europe and help Soldiers with their dental problems using a relatively new invention called X-rays. I wondered how he must have felt when he found out those same X-Rays had poisoned him and that he would never be vital and vigorous again. I shook my head at his dubious honor of being the first Dentist to be recorded with Radiation poisoning.

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As the miles rolled away I enjoyed the bright crispness of the day and I looked in anticipation to each milestone that would bring me one more mile closer to my goal. As the big bike rumbled under me I smiled remembering one of my Mothers favorite stories about her Father.

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When my Mother was about 3 years old her Dad was outside the barn pulling weeds. The farm where she was born belonged to Oscars Dental partner and he and Pearl helped out as they could around the property in exchange for the Barn Loft Apartment, As he was hoeing out the weeds a fancy Packard Sedan pulled up outside the fence. A stranger in a tan 3 piece Sears and Roebuck suit stepped out of the car. The first thing Oscar noticed about this stranger was not the fancy car or the tan suit but the bright white spats he was wearing. What a fool, Oscar thought, them spats will be dirty in no time out here in Farm country.

As Oscar limped towards the fence to find out what was going on the stranger pulled out a camera, and started taking pictures. Oscar noticed that it was one of those new box cameras and he wondered how something that small and cheaply made could take any sort of descent photo.As Oscar approached the fence the stranger called out, “Sure is a hot one today.” Oscar allowed that it “Sure Was A Hot One” then asked the stranger, “Whatcha doing?” The stranger produced a card from his vest pocket and handed it to Oscar. The plain white business card read; Joseph Levin, MGM Location Scout, Hollywood, California. There was also a phone number on the card with an exchange that Oscar did not recognize.

“Well Mr. Levin…”

“Please call me Joe.”

“OK, Joe. What exactly are you scouting?”

“The studio is making a movie based on a popular novel and they want to build an authentic looking Farm set. So I am out taking photos of various Farms so that we can build a set with authenticity.”

Oscar scratched his head, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to come film on a Farm that is already built rather than building one to look like a Farm that is already here?”

“Sir… what’s your name?”

“Oscar.”

“Well Oscar, there are a lot of technical hurdles to over come and it is easier for us to recreate a farm and film in Hollywood rather than try to solve the technical problems on location.”

“Uh-Huh, well I just think it is a waste of time and money to build something that is already built.”

Joseph Levin waved off the statement and said, “Oscar, your Farm may well be the star of a movie someday.”

Oscar chuckled, “Well if this Farm becomes a movie star then I will have to buy that mule over there a pair of Sunglasses so it will look like all the other Hollywood Jack Asses.”

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I laughed out loud with the wind carrying away the sound of my laughter. I always laughed when I thought about that part or when my Mother would relate the story; “Mule, Sunglasses, Hollywood Jack Asses.” I said out loud as another laugh escaped my mouth.

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A little over a year later Oscar, Pearl, Karl and Shirley were sitting in the Jayhawk Theater in Topeka waiting for the movie to start. They were not movie going people and with money tight it was a luxury they could ill afford. But the children wanted to see this movie and after all it was based on a famous children’s story so they did not see the harm in splurging just this once. The News Reel played talking about the European war that Oscar prayed that the US would not get dragged into yet he knew it was inevitable. With that lunatic Hitler in charge in Germany and sending Jews and Gypsies to death camps Oscar knew it was only a matter of time. He worried about his own Gypsy Hummel family still in Eastern Europe and said a silent prayer for their safety.

The children laughed and clapped at the antics of Tom and Jerry on the screen and even the normally stern Oscar found himself smiling and letting out a small chuckle. Then it was time for the main feature. Pearl admonished the children to behave as the curtains parted and the powerful overture began to play. The movie was not even 5 minutes old when Oscar sat bolt upright in his chair, his jaw dropping open. He reached across the children and grabbed his wife’s shoulder. Pearl turned and looked at Oscar and mouthed the words; “I know, I see.” At this point little Shirley cried out with glee, “Mommy, Daddy, our farm!” Oscar placed his head in his hand and mumbled, “I sure hope that damn Mule don’t want a set of white spats to go with his sunglasses.”

As Oscar, Pearl, Karl and Shirley watched the Tornado rip the small house from it’s foundation on the movie screen Pearl said a silent prayer thankful that the movie was just a fantasy and gave thanks that she had never really been in a Tornado. Her Mother had been deathly afraid of the deadly Twisters so her Father had sold their homestead in the panhandle of Texas and moved to Kansas. Looking back on it now she could see that his logic had been pretty silly.

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The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie of all time. I honestly have never felt like it was because of my off handed connection to it. I have just always liked it’s message of faith, love, hope and it’s promise of home as well as the music; ah, the music and as I rode the miles away the tunes drifted through my head as the wind carried me home to Kansas.

-J.A George AKA; The GYPSY-www.RubberBiskit.comCopyright 2019 – All Rights Reserved

Gypsy’s Blog: A Lament For Home

A LAMENT FOR HOME
There are times that I feel that I do not belong. I wonder if I truly know where my home is. Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas I knew where my home was until I was fifteen and then that summer of 1972 I was relocated, against my will, to Saint Joseph, Missouri and I have had no home since then.

From the smell of the Saint Joe stockyards to the glorious fall colors of the Weston, Missouri Bluffs I have been from one extreme to another. From the crystal clear mornings of Nemo, South Dakota to the struggle of living out of the back of a car in Cameron, Missouri I have seen full days and hungry days. From running away from the horror of the streets of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to the hope of a better life in Abilene, Texas I have seen Hell and Heaven. From the indifference of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to the Comforting embrace of El Paso, Texas I have seen Hate and Love. From the Crack Whores of San Angelo, Texas to the dust blown hopeless streets of Midland, Texas I have known the living dead and their haunts. From the small minds of Baxter Springs, Kansas to the driven souls of Independence, Kansas I have known ignorance and inspiration. All those places, all those lessons, all that time wasted and back to a place I once considered home yet my grip on that concept is not what it once was.

When I returned to Topeka after a 43 year absence I was energized, excited and ready to re-establish myself within my home. Yet what I returned to was not the Topeka of my youth. It was a place filled with crime encouraged by corrupted institutions that would have once fought against the onslaught but now have grown lazy. If it don’t affect me then why should I be concerned? Has become the mantra heard all to often.

Community organizations have been infiltrated by those who think that to help means to climb the social ladder. Oh yes I am a volunteer would you like to see my portfolio? They have forgotten that it is about something greater than them.A city that was once beautiful has allowed itself to be taken down a sewer pipe by individuals that destroy that which was once viable and now lies in ruins. Absentee landlords are not held accountable and buildings that once housed commercial business sit stark and silent collapsing in upon themselves.The state in it’s infinite wisdom opened the doors of the asylum and set the patients lose upon the street then closed the doors behind them so that they could no longer have a safe haven. The homeless and wanton wander the streets encourage by those who claim they help. The helpers line their deep pockets with the dollars spewed forth by well meaning people who feed not with food but with enablement as the lazy give birth to cardboard signs on city street corners.

I see glimmers of hope by those within the Topeka Community who have witnessed what I have and do not turn a blind eye to it. There are those that struggle and fight against the Avant-Garde invasion into their efforts. They fight to find ways to end the corruption, the blight, the despair and the collapse of the city they love, These are the warriors that go into battle with a pin knife and a candle to show the way. They pray that more people like themselves will bring their candles and pin knifes into the fray so that they may create a mighty fire and many sharp teeth to rip to shreds the apathy, corruption and divide that destroys the community.

I look at Topeka’s History and my heart aches for the loss of what once was. I look at the communities future and it is gray and uncertain. I know that the community must reinvent itself if it is to survive. I know that the community is striving to rebirth itself yet I worry. I worry that unless the dark elements that have crawled into the community are not dealt with first that instead of rebirth Topeka will suffer a miscarriage of the fetus of progress.There are times I want to join the fight and charge forward. Then there are the times, like today, that seem like a waste of my time. I fight to stay strong but I see ignorance, sloth, avarice and apathy. My stomach turns and I ask myself; Why do I even try? Yet the next morning I awaken and go forth to add my candle and pin knife to the fight, the fight where I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Frustration fills my soul and sadness grips my heart. Where is my Topeka? Where is my home?

Are you still with me? Have you traveled on my journey this day? Do you feel what I feel? Do you want to move ahead and not fall back into the abyss? Are you thinking I may have the answer? The truth is I do not; I wish I did.

I reach down deep inside and my Gypsy blood calls out to me; Release material possessions, put it all behind you and head off to the next spot in the road over the next hill and at the end of the horizon. It is tempting however I will stay, for now, because deep down inside I love Topeka and I Love my state of Kansas; it’s people, it’s places, it’s history, it’s today and it’s tomorrow. I will stay not out of a sense of duty or obligation but because I know that if everyone ran when frustration fills our souls then we would never step into the better future that it takes each and everyone of us to create. For today I will call Topeka, Kansas home and try to ignore the times that I feel that I do not belong. I wonder if I truly know where my home is.

-The GYPSY-

www.RubberBiskit.com

Copyright 2019

Oasis On 66 By J.A. George