The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presents, “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One, Part Three

Never Say Never: An Epic Journey - Part One
Never Say Never: An Epic Journey - Part One
The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presents, "Never Say Never: An Epic Journey - Volume One, Part Three
/

The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presents, “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One, Part Three: Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give A Damn

In Part Three of Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One The GYPSY starts on a search to reconnect with his own past and instead ends up discovering the past of his mother. We also witness an episode in Shirley’s life  that led to her first psychotic break with reality.

Join The GYPSY as he takes you on an Epic Journey into his life, the life of his family and the life of his mother; Shirley Elizabeth Hummel, who suffered from mental illness her entire life.
Shirley’s story is not an easy one to hear.  At times you will be uncomfortable with her situation. Other times you may laugh or fill the warmth that all to often eluded her. You may even find yourself angry and horrified at the situations and tragedies that drove Shirley further and further into her illness. The one thing you will not leave with is ignorance.
The telling of Shirley’s story will educate and inform you. You will come away with an understanding of the highs and lows that mental illness plays in the sufferer as well as the family, friends and acquaintances of the mentally ill.

Each Tuesday On The Rubber Biskit Road Show The GYPSY will present a new chapter of his novel “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One”

Next Weeks Episode: Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give A Damn

I’m The GYPSY and You’re Not and This Is The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presented By Artist Alley Studio Featuring The Artisan, Handcrafted and Branded Creations of The GYPSY and Mad Hatter. Visit Us At www.ArtistAlleyStudio.com

Buzzsprout – Let’s get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Visit The Rubber Biskit Road Show On The Web At  www.RubberBiskit.com
Tatman Productions LLC. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. No Parts of The Podcast May Be Copied, Reproduced or Used Without The Express Written Permission Of The Artist.

Buzzsprout – Let’s get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=LYGTB6AMDDZ2L)

The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presents, “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One, Part Two

RBRS Season One
RBRS Season One
The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presents, "Never Say Never: An Epic Journey - Volume One, Part Two
/

The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presents, “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One, Part Two: It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Night

In Part Two of Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One you will meet Romani Craftsman Walter Hummel, his wife Priscilla and their children as they head west towards a new life in a new land. You will also meet a giant of a woman, Harriet Hummel-Wickman. You will continue this Epic Journey through Oklahoma with The GYPSY as he travels to Kansas on his motorcycle to lay Shirley’s remains to rest. You will explore the past while moving forward towards the final goal.

Join The GYPSY as he takes you on an Epic Journey into his life, the life of his family and the life of his mother; Shirley Elizabeth Hummel, who suffered from mental illness her entire life.
Shirley’s story is not an easy one to hear.  At times you will be uncomfortable with her situation. Other times you may laugh or fill the warmth that all to often eluded her. You may even find yourself angry and horrified at the situations and tragedies that drove Shirley further and further into her illness. The one thing you will not leave with is ignorance.
The telling of Shirley’s story will educate and inform you. You will come away with an understanding of the highs and lows that mental illness plays in the sufferer as well as the family, friends and acquaintances of the mentally ill.

Each Tuesday On The Rubber Biskit Road Show The GYPSY will present a new chapter of his novel “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One”

Next Weeks Episode: Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give A Damn

The Rubber Biskit Road Show – Never Say Never: An Epic Journey Part One

Never Say Never: An Epic Journey - Part One
Never Say Never: An Epic Journey - Part One
The Rubber Biskit Road Show - Never Say Never: An Epic Journey Part One
/

The Rubber Biskit Road Show Presents, “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One, Part One: Off To See The Wizard

Join The GYPSY as he takes you on an Epic Journey into his life, the life of his family and the life of his mother; Shirley Elizabeth Hummel, who suffered from mental illness her entire life.
Shirley’s story is not an easy one to hear.  At times you will be uncomfortable with her situation. Other times you may laugh or fill the warmth that all to often eluded her. You may even find yourself angry and horrified at the situations and tragedies that drove Shirley further and further into her illness. The one thing you will not leave with is ignorance.
The telling of Shirley’s story will educate and inform you. You will come away with an understanding of the highs and lows that mental illness plays in the sufferer as well as the family, friends and acquaintances of the mentally ill.

In Part One of Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One you will meet Shirley Elizabeth Hummel. You will also meet her son The GYPSY as well as her father and mother. You will start this Epic Journey in Texas with The GYPSY as he travels to Kansas on his motorcycle to lay Shirley’s remains to rest. You will explore the past while moving forward towards the final goal.

Each Tuesday On The Rubber Biskit Road Show The GYPSY will present a new chapter of his novel “Never Say Never: An Epic Journey – Volume One”

Next Weeks Episode: It Is Going To Be A Bumpy Night

I’m The GYPSY and You’re Not And This Is The Rubber Biskit Road Show.
Presented By Artist Alley Studio Store
Featuring The Handcrafted Artisan And Artist Alley Studio Branded Creations Of The GYPSY & Mad Hatter.
And Now On With The Show!

Visit The Rubber Biskit Road Show On The Web At  www.RubberBiskit.com
Tatman Productions LLC. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. No Parts of The Podcast May Be Copied, Reproduced or Used Without The Express Written Permission Of The Artist.

Buzzsprout – Let’s get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Donate To Support The Show

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

RISE and FALL

RISE AND FALL

On August 24, 2015, a man by the name of Ryan McDowell tagged me this photo on Facebook. The focus of the photo is the fading sign on the side of 1226 Military Avenue, Baxter Springs, Kansas. I once owned that building and it was home to my Body Art Studio, Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium. Ryan attached this caption to the photo: “There isn’t much left of the sign, but it still shows were Baxter started to fall. When the sign was new the town was growing but as it decays so does the town.”
My business was in Baxter Springs from 1990 to 2012. When I first opened on Military Avenue (downtown), the business district was all but dead. Very little retail, a few service businesses and a couple of restaurants. For the most part most business buildings sat empty. At that time the city of Baxter Springs had been operating in the red for several years. Within two years of opening Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium every business building along Military Avenue was occupied and the city was operating in the black.
Business for me had been good as I was the only Body Art studio in the region. I gave back to the community by having charity drives and heading the Chamber of Commerce joint Historical and Beautification Committee. I promoted the first ever Tattoo Show in Kansas and donated artwork to raise money for flood victims. I created a moral studio with high standards and integrity. I became a proud member of the community.
The sign on the side of the building had been my billboard along Interstate 44 right before exit one in Missouri, the Baxter Springs exit. When the contract on the sign expired the sign company let me have it and I mounted it on the side of the building. The sign proudly stated; “WORLD FAMOUS, AWARD WINNING, SKIN ART CREATIONS TATTOO EMPORIUM – ON ROUTE 66 BAXTER SPRINGS, KANSAS – (316) 856-5938 – WWW.UBTAT2D.COM
In 2000 I decided to expand upon my business enterprises. After an expensive remodel I moved the studio to the 2nd floor of my building and opened a small, friendly Beer Bar. SPUNKY’S TAVERN – WHERE YOU CAN HAVE A DOG GONE GOOD TIME. Opened in January of 2001. The tavern, named after a beloved pet, that had passed, was an immediate success. We served light food, beer and music on Saturday nights. Three TV’s supplied sports entertainment on Sunday’s. We had $1 FUBAR (For U Beers Are Reasonable), Monday’s. Dart Tournaments on Tuesdays. Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament on Wednesdays. We had two pool tables with tournaments on Thursday nights. Karaoke on Friday nights finished out the week.
We purchased the building next door, 1228 Military Avenue and began renovations. The apartments upstairs were offered to our employees and the downstairs was converted to an entertainment venue. We had plans for weekly concerts but alas that only happened one time.
We went to great lengths to make sure that Spunky’s was family friendly and We did not tolerate drunks. We would cut people off that had too much and that was the beginning of the end.
One Saturday night a gentleman that had too much to drink and who we had cut off threw a beer bottle at a waitress. When I escorted him out of the building, he tried to force his way back in. We had to call the police. His friend, a local newspaper reporter, begged us not to call the police but we had been left with no choice. The police showed up and told the reporter to take his friend home. The drunk swung at the officer and said F*** You. He was arrested.
Monday’s newspaper contained an article written by the reporter that claimed that the police chief said that the police were called to the tavern every night. When I talked to the chief he was highly upset as he had never said that, just the opposite. He had said that we handled situations well and that they were seldom called. The article also stated that the Presbyterian Minister, whose church parking lot was across the alley from Spunky’s, had to chase drunk people out of her parking lot every night.
I went to the church to talk to the minister, but she was on vacation and not expected back until the next day; she had never talked to the reporter. I went to the newspaper office and demanded a retraction and the Editor refused stating, “My reporter doesn’t have to tell the truth he just needs to tell the story he wants to tell. I don’t care what he says as long as it sells papers.” I went to city hall and requested to be put on Tuesday’s agenda; I was going to demand a public retraction and apology from the newspaper.
Tuesday afternoon I talked to the minister and showed her the newspaper article. She was upset and said she was going to go to the newspaper office and give them a piece of her mind. She also said she would be at the city council meeting that night to set the record straight. That night when I stood before city council the chambers were packed. Word had gotten out.
The police chief spoke first and verified that what the paper had reported was not true. He told the council what he had actually said. It was then my turn to speak. I told what had actually happened which was verified by the arresting officer. I then demanded the retraction and apology from the Editor and he refused. It was then the Presbyterian Minister’s turn. She cleared her throat and said, “People like the George’s are responsible for teenage pregnancy, unwed mothers, the assassination of JFK and the crucifixion of Christ.” With that one sentence she destroyed all I had worked for in my business wiped out all the community involvement and good I had done. She continued to rant and rave about how our establishment was the devils playground and how it should be destroyed immediately.
Now I could tell you about all that happened over the next year after that city council meeting. I could tell you about how the minister filed charges of verbal abuse against one of her parishioners because he said, “If you think you accomplished something you are crazy.” I could tell you about how the minister got the local council of churches in an uproar and how they were preaching sermons against me on Sundays. I could relate stories of people that left those sermons disgusted or of the teenage girl that lost the right to babysit children at her churches nursery because she waxed our floors once a week. I could tell you how the city turned against us and tried to pull our business license and the state of Kansas had to send a representative down, twice to tell the city to cease and desist. Or maybe I could tell you about the city attorney with the conflict of interest because he was also the local ACLU attorney. He was the one who tried to pull our licenses. I guess I could relate how the attack on our small quiet tavern made national news, but you get the picture.
By the end of 2002 I had enough. I had fought hard, but I was tired and I had become a pariah. It all rested in the lap of a lying reporter, an unethical newspaper editor, a city council run by good ol’ boys and a mentally unstable and hypocritical Presbyterian Minister. The reporter lost his job when the editor sold the newspaper. The city council was re-elected and showed no signs of changing. The minister had been dis-ordained by the Presbyterian Council for “actions adverse against the George family and actions affecting the integrity of the church and the congregation within the community.’ A small victory but one that came to late. I was done!
On a November Tuesday night in 2002 I appeared for the next to the last time before the Baxter Springs, Kansas City Council. I stood at the podium and attempted eye contact with the council. Not one of them connected with me. “I will be closing my businesses here, selling my tavern equipment and listing my properties for sale” I began. “I will be moving my tattoo studio to Independence, Kansas. The powers that be there have indicated that we will be a welcome addition to their community.” I paused. “You think that my little tattoo studio makes no difference to the economy of this community; you are wrong! When I opened here 12 years ago military avenue was dead. You were operating in the red. Two years later you are operating in the black. Did you ever stop to ask yourselves why? Well, I can tell you.” I looked at the council then turned and looked at the filled to capacity city council chambers.
“It was because of my little tattoo studio. Shortly after I opened people started coming to me wanting to know how my business was doing. They talked to me about businesses they wanted to open and asked my opinion. I urged them to take the leap and they did. Some succeeded, some failed but Military Avenue filled up and you started collecting taxes off of those businesses.” I stopped to let that sink in.
“I tattoo over 1,200 people per year. Over half of those are return clientele. From that half two thirds of them come from all across the United Sates and other countries. They rent motel rooms when they are here, they eat in the restaurants they shop in the stores. Four hundred plus people that would never come to this community otherwise come here to see me, spend their money in the community and increase the tax base. That is not even to mention the other 800 people that come to see me that shop and eat here. You don’t think my studio makes that big a difference to the economy of this community? That only goes to show how little you know.” I let that sink in for a moment.
I cleared my throat and looked around the room one last time. “I have a prediction for you. One year from now Military Avenue will be just as empty as it was when I came here in 1990 and the City of Baxter Springs will be operating in the red.” I turned and walked out.
I opened the studio in Independence, Kansas and business was good. Almost a year to the day I received a phone call from my former next-door neighbor. He informed me that a newspaper article had come out the day before stating that for the first time in twelve years Baxter Springs was operating in the red. He went on to tell me that the business district was all but empty, even losing it’s two restaurants. I hung up the phone and called Baxter Springs City Hall and requested to get on the agenda.
I stood, for the last time before the Baxter Springs City Council. Just like when I had been there a year previous the chambers were packed with people wanting to see what I had to say. The council members looked down and did not make eye contact with me. I let the silence hang in the air for a moment then said, “I told you so!” Without another word I turned and left the building never looking back.
In 2004 I received a phone call from the new mayor of Baxter Springs. She told me that the good ol’ boy network of the city council had been totally replaced by all women. She asked if I would consider bringing my business back to Baxter Springs. I said, “No! Once bitten, twice learned. Baxter has a bad habit of cutting off it’s nose to spite its face. I wish you luck but you will have to find your way without me.” She said she understood and thanked me for all I had done when I had been a resident there. I wished her luck.
Baxter Springs, Kansas has a long history of hurting itself economically. From turning back cattle herds from the railheads because of a unfounded fear of hoof and mouth disease. Being too overconfident and allowing Columbus to get to Topeka first to file for county seat. Turning away Sooners and sending them west. Not embracing Route 66 and creating stops. Allowing its Mayor to give permission for US 400 to bypass the community because “It won’t hurt my business.” To what they did to me and my business.
I do not wish Baxter Springs ill; Just the opposite. I sincerely hope that the new generation that is there will continue to revitalize the community, learn from the mistakes of the past and move towards a brighter future. Only time will tell.
 
-The GYPSY-
www.ubtat2d.com
August 24, 2021

HI-YO SILVER AWAY

HI-YO SILVER AWAY

There are times when you walk into history. There are times when history walks into you. Then there are times when you fall face first into history and history comes crashing down on top of you. Today was such a day for me. As I pulled myself out from under the weight of the history that fell on me I knew I would need to share the moment with you dear reader.

My wife Raychel and I decided to spend the day doing some random shopping in Lawrence. If you want to do random shopping Lawrence, Kansas is about as random as it gets, especially on Massachusetts Street. Downtown Lawrence is peppered with a wide range of random shops selling an eclectic mix of random items.

The eateries on Massachusetts Street are just as random. If you cannot find something to your taste in downtown Lawrence then you weren’t really hungry to begin with. Raychel and I were hungry and something to our taste was The Mad Greek.

I am not ashamed to admit that The Mad Greek is our favorite eatery in Lawrence. I am also not ashamed to admit that we happily devoured Gyros and Chicken Provolone washed down with ice cold beer.

We sat, talked and enjoyed each other’s company as we let our feast settle. Then we found our way across the street to The Toy Store. As we walked through the doors our inner child found its way out of our psyche. I threatened to buy Kazoos and start my own Kazoo blues band. Raychel bought a whirly gig throw off to occupy her very active mind.

We left The Toy Store and headed down the street to Love Garden. No it is not another restaurant. If you guessed that it is a floral shop you would be wrong. No it is not a bordello and it is not a Hippy Head Shop. However if you said music store full of vintage vinyl record albums then you would be correct. It was in this magical place that History jumped on me and beat me to the floor.

I browsed the thousands of albums not 100% sure what I was looking for. I have been trying to replace albums I sold or gave away a long time ago. I also keep my eyes open for albums my mother once had. I grew up listening to her albums so for me it is a matter of nostalgia. I also am a sucker for strange and unusual albums.

I found two Uriah Heep albums; Magicians Birthday and Wonderland. Uriah Heep is one of my favorite groups and if I would have left after finding those albums it still would have been a good find and a good day. But my day was about to get even better.

As Raychel held the Uriah Heep albums I flipped through the one dollar bin. Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Ventures and Henry Mancini all made it onto the stack in Raychel’s hands. I got excited when I found the Fabulous Thunderbirds and the soundtrack album to the movie The Great Escape. Then it happened, I took the first step into the attack on my person by history.

As I flipped through the one dollar rack my hand fell on a four album set. On the front of the box were two familiar figures; Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. Emblazoned across the top of the box were those magical, heroic words, “The Lone Ranger”.  My mind instantly took a trip back to those golden days of yesteryear.

The year was 1989 and I was driving a big truck over the road coast to coast. I pulled into a truck stop near the Arkansas/Oklahoma border on the Arkansas side. I pulled into a space next to a big silver Peterbilt Truck.

As I walked around the nose of the truck a movement caught my eye. There, clinging to the truck’s grill was a tiny brown bat. Horrified, I started looking for a stick to remove the little bat from the grill. While looking for a stick a man walked up and asked me what I was doing. I showed him the bat and said I was looking for a stick to remove it so it wouldn’t be injured.

The man pulled a pen from his pocket and carefully removed the bat. He carried the bat over to a nearby tree where the bat quickly transferred itself from the pen to the tree. The man said he was glad I had seen the bat as it was his truck and he would not want to pull out and hurt the little guy. I agreed. I told the man how I had once been a Zookeeper and how I had an affinity for animals, especially Bats.

As we stood there talking I could not shake the feeling that I knew this man. I finally asked, “Do I know you? Have we met before?” The man laughed, “In a way we probably have met.” His voice was familiar and mysterious.. “What do you mean, in a way?” The man laughed again and said, “Hold on this may help.”

The man opened the door of his big silver truck and reached inside. When he turned back around he was wearing a large pair of black Foster Grant sunglasses and a white cowboy hat. I looked at him, silver truck, white cowbo… “Dear God, you are Clayton Moore! The Lone Ranger!” He laughed, “So I guess you do know me.”

Mr. Moore offered to buy me a cup of coffee and I took him up on it. As we drank coffee and ate pie he told me how he had come to drive a big rig.

He said that he had signed a contract that had made it so that he could never make a public appearance without the mask. “It killed my film career but I receive a very nice pension and get paid for personal appearances; those are not as numerous as they once were.” 

Mr. Moore told me that the ranch where the series had been filmed had been given to him as part of the deal. He was bitter about the lawsuit that had forced him to remove his mask. “I am grateful that Foster Grant made it possible for me, in a way, to keep the mask. I am glad that awful movie failed.”

I asked him why he was driving a truck. His answer was simple and straight to the point; “I get bored. I have everything I want but having everything comes with a price. Before I was a successful actor I made ends meet by driving a truck. Seemed a logical way to ease my occasional boredom.”

All too soon it was time for us to go our separate ways. I headed for the eastern horizon while he drove his mighty truck into the western sunset. Who was that sunglassed man? Pretty sure I know and he left me with a silver memory.

Bringing myself back into the present I placed the Lone Ranger box set on top of the other albums in Raychels arms.

When we returned home to Topeka I immediately started checking the albums. Repairs to covers and checking for any scratches that might have to be dealt with. I saved my treasure, The Lone Ranger box set, for last. I opened the box and pulled the first album from its sleeve; perfect condition. I set it to one side and picked up the second album. It was at this point that the history I had taken a step into when I found the cherished set tripped me and fell on me with the force of a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo Silver’.

Resting on top of the 3rd album was a greeting card size envelope. The postmark on the Twentynine cent stamp showed 12 December 1994. The envelope was addressed to Wayne Glenn at KTXR in Springfield, Missouri. The return address showed the card had come from Fred W. Foy in Reading, Massachusetts. 

Inside the envelope was a homemade Christmas card. The front had a deep green design of a stylistically drawn Christmas tree. Inside the tree were a pair of cowboy boots and intertwined in the boots were FWF in a Saloon font. Above the design was written ‘Merry Christmas’ in the same Saloon font.

The inside of the card featured a red horseshoe design. Above the horseshoe was written in the familiar Saloon font ‘…And A Hearty…’. Inside the top of the horseshoe the Saloon font proclaimed, ‘Happy New Year’. Between the two legs of the horseshoe was the name, ‘Fred Foy’. Opposite from the greeting was a date stamp, ‘Received Dec. 15, 1994 KTXR’.

The card felt like something important. I sent up an entreaty to the Google Search God and its Keeper of Fates the Mighty Wikipedia answered my call.

Wayne Glenn is known as the “Old Record Collector”. He had a weekly show on KTXR in Springfield, Missouri from 1977 to his semi-retirement in 2019. Mr. Glenn has more than 15,000 albums. He had 2,139 episodes of his “Remember When” radio program. The show ran for 7 hours on Saturday mornings and 3 hours on Sunday evening. On August 10, 2019 he scaled back to a one hour show on KTXR. 

Wayne Glenn has written 13 books on Ozark history. With 42 years as a radio show host and accomplished author Wayne Glenn has a lot to be proud of and has made his mark on broadcast history.. 

Fred W. Foy had felt that Mr. Glenn was worthy of receiving a Christmas Card and I needed to know who Fred W. Foy was. What I found was way beyond anything I could have ever expected or imagined.

Frederick William Foy (March 27, 1921 – December 22, 2010) was an American radio and television announcer and actor, who used Fred Foy as his professional name. Radio historian Jim Harmon described Foy as “the announcer, perhaps the greatest announcer-narrator in the history of radio drama.”

Fred Foy was a Corporal during World War II and did World Series play by plays for the GI’s. He was an accomplished radio announcer and pitchman doing narrations for shows such as The Green Hornet and Challenge of the Yukon. In 1948 he first uttered the words that would become the most recognized opening in radio and television history:

“Hi-Yo, Silver! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-Yo Silver”… The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early Western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides again!”

And there I sat, holding a Christmas card in my hand sent to one of greatest record collectors in America, Wayne Glenn, from one of the greatest radio and television narrators and announcers in American History, Fred Foy.

How this box set of the greatest hits of “The Lone Ranger” radio program, that had apparently belonged to Wayne Glenn at one time, ended up in a $1.00 bin in a Lawrence, Kansas bookstore is anyone’s guess. How the Christmas card from Fred Foy found it’s way tucked neatly between two albums in the box set is also anyone’s guess. What isn’t anyone’s guess is that this Historic piece of American Radio and Television History now rests in the hands of someone who will protect and preserve it.

Yes history fell on top of me and this was an important tale to be told. With that thought in mind I would like to leave you with this seldom heard song that played on The Lone Ranger syndicated television series in the 1970’s. It was heard just before the Fred Foy opening was played and featured edited scenes from the color pilot episode of The Lone Ranger from 1955 which retold the Masked Man of The Plains origin story:

“Six Texas Rangers (Hi-yo, hi-yo) rode in the sun (Hi-yo, hi-yo);

Six men of justice rode into an ambush, and all were killed but one.

One lone survivor (Hi-yo, hi-yo) lay on the trail (Hi-yo, hi-yo);

Found there by Tonto, the brave Indian Tonto, he lived to tell the tale.

(Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away! Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away!)

His wounds quickly mended (Hi-yo, hi-yo) and there in the night (Hi-yo, hi-yo),

Six graves were put there to hide from the outlaws that one man lived to fight.

He chose silver bullets (Hi-yo, hi-yo) the sign of his name (Hi-yo, hi-yo); A mask to disguise him, a great silver stallion, and thus began his fame.

(Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away! Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away! THE LONE RANGER IS HIS NAME!) 

-The GYPSY-

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE DAY

I Firmly Believe That Gypsies and Native American’s Sprung From The Same Well Source; One Going East The Other Going West. With That In Mind I Would Like To Recognize…

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE DAY

Thank you to our Indigenous communities and their ancestors. Without them and their rich heritage and contributions, there would truly be no America. Let’s celebrate them as the proud, noble people they are.

Historically and Archeologically it is believed that around 12 thousand years ago the people that would become the Native Americans started their long migration out of southern Asia which is now present-day India. They headed east through Eastern Asia, across the Bearing Straight and into North, Central and South America.

Along the way they bred with other races and picked up certain genetic traits that can still be seen in them today. Take my wife for instance: She is Inuit (Eskimo), she has certain traits that are shared not only with southern and eastern Asian people. Most notably almond shaped eyes and dark Corse hair. She has light cooper colored skin but being Inuit when she is separated from the sun her skin pales and takes on a light amber tone.

Because the America’s were basically isolated the people, as they bred with each other started developing what we recognize today as Native American Features. The Native Americans eventually settled in certain regions and became tribes and subtribes. Some of them were migratory.

My wife also has Potawatomi blood and there are several subtribes of the “People of the Fire”. Her tribe is the Citizen Band Potawatomi.

Around 9 to 10 thousand years ago the people that would become the Romany started their long migration out of southern Asia which is now present-day India. They headed west through central Asia, into the middle east and into North, Central, western, eastern and southern Europe.

Along the way they bred with other races and picked up certain genetic traits that can still be seen in them today. Take me for instance: I am Sinti Romani and I have certain traits that are shared with southern and western European people. Most notably hazel eyes and dark hair that was thick in my younger days and thinned as I got older. I also have the stout frame and muscular build of the Germanic people. My skin is perpetually Olive toned in color and I share the hairiness of the southern Asia people.

Historically and Archeologically it is believed that around 12 thousand years ago the people that would become the Native Americans started their long migration out of southern Asia which is now present-day India. They headed east through Eastern Asia, across the Bearing Straight and into North, Central and South America.

Along the way they bred with other races and picked up certain genetic traits that can still be seen in them today. Take my wife for instance: She is Inuit (Eskimo), she has certain traits that are shared not only with southern and eastern Asian people. Most notably almond shaped eyes and dark Corse hair. She has light cooper colored skin but being Inuit when she is separated from the sun her skin pales and takes on a light amber tone.

Because the America’s were basically isolated the people, as they bred with each other started developing what we recognize today as Native American Features. The Native Americans eventually settled in certain regions and became tribes and subtribes. Some of them were migratory.

My wife also has Potawatomi blood and there are several subtribes of the “People of the Fire”. Her tribe is the Citizen Band Potawatomi.

Around 9 to 10 thousand years ago the people that would become the Romany started their long migration out of southern Asia which is now present-day India. They headed west through central Asia, into the middle east and into North, Central, western, eastern and southern Europe.

Along the way they bred with other races and picked up certain genetic traits that can still be seen in them today. Take me for instance: I am Sinti Romani and I have certain traits that are shared with southern and western European people. Most notably hazel eyes and dark hair that was thick in my younger days and thinned as I got older. I also have the stout frame and muscular build of the Germanic people. My skin is perpetually Olive toned in color and I share the hairiness of the southern Asia people.

Because Asia, Europe, Africa and the middle east were not as isolated as the America’s we were not an isolated people. However, we started to isolate ourselves in some instances and bred with each other. We started developing what we recognize today as Romani Features.

We eventually settled in certain regions and became tribes. Some of them were migratory (not all Gypsies are migratory despite popular belief). My main Tribe who I identify with is Hummel, The Bee. George and Clang also run in my blood.

One of the most interesting things that the Romani and Native American’s share with their very distant Southern Asian relatives is all are Artisans, Craftsmen and Artists. You might say it runs in the blood.

-The GYPSY: 27 November 2020-

YOU CANNOT BE CALLED GYPSY

The following is an actual complaint that I made with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 2012. The complaint was for racism and discrimination.

LEGAL STATEMENT OF FACT

My name is James Alan George. I am an American Romani. My legal residence is Clyde, Texas 79510. I was employed as a Delivery Driver from March 21, 2011 to September 21, 2012 for Lowes Home Improvement Store #2719 1634 Musgrave Blvd., Abilene, Texas 79601.

1. Sometime around the first of August, 2012 I was in the Lowes I was employed at on my day off. As I entered the store I noticed the receiving manager Brian Smith speaking with an employee I had never seen in the store before by the appliance department. I assumed that the person that Mr. Smith was speaking with was our new Human Resources Manager Ben White. I approached, held out my hand and introduced myself;

        ME: Hi, My name is Jim, I am one of the Delivery Drivers, most   people call me Gypsy.

        Ben White: I’ll call you Jim, Gypsy is a racist term.

        ME: But I am a Gypsy, that’s how I got the nickname, it’s who    and what I am.

        Ben White: Oh, well we’ll have to see about that but I’ll still call   you Jim.

Mr. White then turned and walked away. Mr. Smith quipped that it was his favorite awkward moment of the year.

2. The next time I was scheduled to work Mr. White approached me as I finished clocking in and said, “I have been telling everyone not to call you Gypsy.” I asked him why he was doing that. He responded with, “because it is a racist term.” The following conversation then took place.

        ME: Ben, no it isn’t, my people refer to themselves as Gypsy, I   have carried that nickname since I was in high school.

        Ben White: It is a derogatory term.

        ME: No it isn’t, my people have called themselves that since the beginning of time. I do not mind being called Gypsy, it is who I     am.

        Ben White: I mind and I am letting people know that they should not call you that.

3. A couple of days later Mr. White approached me as I was talking with cashier Samantha Harris, and the following conversation took place;

        Ben White: How’s it going Mr. Romani?

        ME: What?”

        Ben White: How’s it going Mr. Romani?

        ME: That’s not my name.

        Ben White: Do you know how the Romani got the slang term of   their name?

        ME: What slang term?

        Ben White: You probably know. Your people don’t like that term.

        ME: Ben you know nothing about my people. They call       themselves Gypsy, they are proud to be called Gypsy.

        Ben White: No they don’t like it.

        ME: I have to go to work.

I then left and went back to the receiving area. Later that day he called me Mr. Romani twice more. Once in front of Driver Manager Larry Kimbrough and once in front of employees Mario Nabarrette and Charlie Cruz.

4. The next day Mr. White walked into the employee break room where I and other employees were discussing the Colorado shootings and James Holmes. Mr. White blurted out, “We are Texas, we execute the retarded.” He laughed at his joke but when no one else did he left.

5. Approximately one week later head cashier Nichole Tumey Strait received a call from a customer that I had been trying to contact about a delivery. Mrs. Strait paged me by saying; “Gypsy, you have a call holding on 6100. Gypsy please pick up 6100.” Mr. White came out of his office and informed Mrs. Strait that she was not to page me by the name Gypsy again. He informed her that it was racist and she could not use that term over the PA because it would offend others. The next day he told Mrs. Strait that another employee came to him offended that she had paged me by the name Gypsy. In the 16 months prior to Mr. White coming to the store no one had ever reported being offended by my nickname. During this same conversation Mr. White referred to Mrs. Strait as a “Ginger” and told her she had no soul.

6. Every Tuesday there is a Managers meeting at the store. This meeting is an opportunity for the Store Manager, the Assistant Store Manager, the Zone Managers and the Department Managers to get together discuss issues, changes and operations within the store.

I came back from my deliveries one Tuesday and was approached by several Department Managers who informed me that Human Resource Manager Ben White had just had a 2 hour discussion in the Managers meeting as to why no one in the store should call me Gypsy. Some of the managers that told me about the meeting were Daniel Whitworth, Phillip Beard, Phil Stone, Anne Taylor, Kevin Silvestri and Ed McMahan.

Mr. McMahan said that Mr. White would not come right out and say the word Gypsy. Mr. McMahan asked Mr. White who he was referring to and Mr. White kept telling Mr. McMahan that he could not say the word because it is racist. Mr. McMahan said, “Are you talking about Gypsy?” Mr. White said, “You can’t say that.” Mr. McMahan said, “Why? It’s his name. It’s what we all call him.” Mr. White said, “You can’t call him that.”

7. The day after the Managers meeting I walked into the employees break room where I discovered Mr. White talking to several employees. One of the employees said, “speak of the devil.” I asked, “What’s going on?” Employee Megan Herweck said, “Ben was just telling us why we shouldn’t call you Gypsy.” The following conversation took place;

        Ben White: The Romani do not like to be called Gypsy.

        ME: I do not know where you got that.

        Ben White: I was in the Army and it is a racist term.

        ME: In the Army it is a racist term?

        Ben White: Yes and you cannot use that name.

        ME: Ben, do you understand that my people do not mind being   called Gypsy, they are proud of the name.

        Ben White: No they not.

        ME: Ben, I have been called Gypsy since I was 16. I have used   the name publicly, privately and professionally. I have used the        name for 40 years and that is what people know me by and will        continue to call me.

        Megan Herweck: Face it Ben, this is an argument you can’t win.

        ME: Ben, I honestly do not know why you won’t let this go but    Gypsy is who I am.

        Ben White: Lowes has a policy against nicknames.

        ME: Really? You mean employees cannot call people by their      nicknames?

        Ben White: That’s right.

        ME: Ben, there are only a couple of terms that you could use on me concerning my race that would offend me and Gypsy is not        one of them.

        Ben White: It is the same as when Rappers use the N word to     describe themselves.

        ME: No it isn’t. Rappers are not the N Word. I AM the G word.

        Megan Herweck: Ben, It’s not the same.

At this point Mr. White exited the break room. One of the employees, Carra Doyle, asked me what words would offend me. I told her the term Gadjo which is Romani for anyone who is not Gypsy. I explained that for a Gypsy to refer to someone that is not Gypsy as a Gadjo is not an insult but to use that term on someone that is a Gypsy is a tremendous insult. I also explained most Romani do not like the term Gypo or Gyppy but the word Gypsy is not derogatory. I said, “The point is Ben is trying to make something bad out of something that isn’t.”

I had been trying to figure out where Mr. White was getting his info. That evening when I returned home from work I did a Google search using some of the statements that Mr. White had made. I discovered that most of his info was gleaned from message boards like straight talk.com and websites such as wikipedia.org.

8. Upon hearing what had happened in the break room employee Karen Cockrell, a part time employee, told my wife, whom Ms. Cockrell works with at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, that another employee, Ebony Nichole McGhee, might be using a nickname and not her real name. Not liking rumors I asked Miss McGhee if her real name was Ebony. She told me that it was. She also told me that she had heard the rumor and she thought it was funny. She said that she knew what Ben White had been saying about me and she thought it was ridicules.

A couple of days later Miss McGhee told me that Mr. White had called her to his office and asked her if I had asked her if Ebony was her real name. She told him that I had and that she had not minded me asking. She told him that people ask her that all the time. She then told me that Mr. White then said, “Ebony is another word for black but you are African-American.”  Miss McGhee got offended and told him, “I was not born in Africa, I was born in America, I am Black.”

9. On September 7, 2012 receiving employee Charlie Cruz asked me if I would draw a cartoon of a Dallas Cowboy molesting a Seattle Seahawk. I asked him why. He said that a lot of the guys had been talking and they wanted to tease Dave Reynolds, who is a Seattle Seahawks fan about the upcoming Cowboys / Seahawks game on September 16. Knowing that Dave Reynolds is a good sport with a sense of humor and also knowing that he would not be offended but would find it funny I agreed to do the drawing.

I brought the drawing, concealed, to work on Monday morning, September 10, 2012 and handed it over to Charlie Cruz who had asked for it. Mr. Cruz found it extremely funny and showed it to the other guys who had talked about teasing Dave Reynolds with a drawing. Several of the employees took the drawing and made copies of it as they too found it amusing. Among the employees who made copies were Charlie Cruz, Jo-Al (last name unknown) and Ed McMahan. I had not made a copy of the drawing for myself so I did, folded it and placed it in my pocket.

Approximately 30 minutes later I was walking to the front of the store and was stopped by Install sales associate Jocelyn (last name unknown). She was laughing and said that Ed McMahan had just showed her the drawing and she found it very funny. As I approached the customer service desk I saw Ed McMahan showing the drawing to one of the cashiers. Store Manager Robert Gonzales was on the far side of the desk and asked what Mr. McMahan had. I said, “Robert, I don’t think you want to see it.” Mr. Gonzales said, “Yes I do, I’d like to see it.” Ed McMahan, believing that Mr. Gonzales, who is a Dallas Cowboys fan, would find the humor in it showed the print to him. Mr. Gonzales looked at the photo copy of the cartoon and said, “Good Drawing.”

Later Charlie Cruz showed me an envelope that had Dave Reynolds name on it. He told me that he was going to put it under Dave Reynolds door to his office. He said the cartoon was inside.

I left and made my deliveries. I returned around four in the afternoon and saw Dave Reynolds. When he saw me he started laughing. He was leaning on the customer service desk and said, “Hey Crash!” (his nickname for me) He then flipped me the finger. I laughed and said, “Poor Seahawks.” Mr. Reynolds laughed and said, “We’ll see who’s riding who on Sunday.”

At this point I thought nothing else about the drawing that a friend had asked me to make to tease another friend.

10. Later in the day on September 7, 2012 my Supervisor, Driver Manager Ed McMahan came to me and said that Ben White had called him to his office. He said that Mr. White had him write a statement about the drawing I had made. Mr. McMahan took full responsibility for the drawing claiming on his statement that he had asked me to draw it. The way this was perceived by Mr. McMahan was that he had been in the group that had conceived the joke. Even though Charlie Cruz asked me to draw the cartoon it was Mr. McMahan’s idea. Mr. McMahan said that Ben White wanted to see me.

When I arrived at Mr. White’s office he asked me to fill out a statement concerning the drawing. The following is what I wrote:

“An employee asked me to draw a cartoon of a Dallas Cowboy and Seahawk. It was to poke fun at a fellow employee and friend who is a Seahawk fan. I gave it to the requesting party (who is also a friend). What became of it after that was not my business. To my knowledge no one involved was offended by the drawing.”

After I handed Mr. White my statement I turned to leave, stopped and came back. I said, “Ben, if you are going to write Ed up for showing that cartoon to people you should write me up too. It’s only right.” Mr. White’s response was, “Well, yeah, um, we’ll see.” I said, “Right is right Ben.” I then left and went back to work.

Upon hearing that an issue was being made out of the cartoon, Charlie Cruz went up to Ben White’s office and demanded to fill out a statement. Mr. Cruz told Mr. White that if Mr. McMahan and myself were going to be wrote up that he should be wrote up too. He told Mr. White that he had asked me to make the drawing and that he had been the one to make the copies.

11. On September 11, 2012 Cashier Carra Doyle, told me that Ben White had said to her that there was another Romani in the store and that they were offended by the term Gypsy and that is why he has been making sure no one calls me Gypsy. I said, “That’s bull! I have worked in this store for 18 months and if there was another Romani here I would know.” Miss Doyle said, “He is just trying to justify.” I said, “It’s strange, no one had a problem with my name until Ben came here.” Miss Doyle said, “I’ll keep calling you Gypsy and so will everyone else.”

I  decided that I would try to figure out who Ben White was referring to and ask that person if they had Romani blood. There were only two people in the store that had features that could be considered “Romani” and I decided that at my next opportunity I would speak with them.

Later that day I saw one of the people I thought Mr. White was referring to, cashier Ashley (last name unknown), who was a new hire. I asked her what her heritage was and if she had any Romani blood. She told me no that her family was from Czechoslovakia. I said, “Ah, eastern Europe, that explains your features. My family is from Germany.” I then told her the reason why I had asked. She said that she didn’t understand why “Ben” was bothered by my name.

12. On September 13, 2012 Ed McMahan came to me and said that Ben White wanted to see me in his office. He said that Mr. White had him fill out another statement. Mr. McMahan said that his second statement wasn’t any different than his first statement.

When I arrived at Mr. Whites office I asked what he wanted. He handed me a blank statement and said, “I need you to write down a description of what you drew.” I handed him back the form and said, “Ben, I have wrote everything about this I am going to write. I told you everything in the statement I wrote the other day. I do not understand why you are making such a big deal out of this. You are new here and do not understand our sense of humor. We joke with one another all the time. We are not just co-workers, we are friends. The person that the cartoon was aimed at is not offended so none of us understand why you are keeping on this.” Mr. White said, “So you are not going to write anything else?” I said, “No, I told you I have already told you everything and if you are wanting me to throw someone under the bus I am not going to do that either. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go back to work.” Mr. White then gave me permission to leave.

13. On September 16, 2012 the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Seattle Seahawks. Fair is fair so I drew a cartoon of a Seattle Seahawk hammering a football into a Dallas Cowboy’s derrière. This cartoon was intended for Dave Reynolds who I had drew the cartoon to tease the week before.

14. On September 17, 2012 I took the original cartoon to work with me but left it in the saddle bag of my motorcycle. Considering the overreaction to the cartoon the week before I figured it would be a good idea just to let Dave Reynolds know where it was so he could retrieve it at his leisure. I made a copy of the cartoon, folded it up and put it into my pocket so I could show Mr. Reynolds what I had drawn without bringing the original into the store.

When I got back to the receiving department Mr. Reynolds was waiting there for me to give me a hard time about the Seahawks Win over the Cowboys. Employees Brian Smith, Kim Delgado, Mario Nabarrette, Charlie Cruz and Ed McMahan were also there. I gave Mr. Reynolds the photo copy and said, “Fair is fair Dave so I made this drawing for you. The original is in my right saddle bag.” Mr. Reynolds said, “Probably a good idea to leave it there.” He then showed everyone present the photo copy and all had a good laugh over it.

15. Later in the day on September 17, 2012 I was returning to the store after finishing my days deliveries. I cut through the Garden Center when I reentered the store and encountered cashier Trina Cook. Ms. Cook was the other employee that I felt had features that could be mistaken for Romani. I asked Ms. Cook if she minded if I asked her what her heritage was. She said, “Latino and Italian.” She then asked me why I had wanted to know. I explained to her what Mr. White had said to cashier Carra Doyle about how there was another Romani in the store that was offended by the term “Gypsy”. The following conversation between Ms. Cook and I then took place:

        Ms. Cook: That explains it!

        ME: What are you talking about?

        Ms. Cook: A few days ago Ben came to me and said, “I have       taken care of the racist problem. If you have anymore problems    with that just come to me.”

        ME: Where did he come up with that one?

        Ms. Cook: I have no idea.

        ME: He racially profiled you and then made this scenario in his    head that he was protecting you.

        Ms. Cook: From what? I’m Latino and Italian!

        ME: I know that but he don’t. He looked at you, assumed you     were Romani and got it into his head he was protecting you from racism somehow.

        Ms. Cook: But he’s the racist!

        ME: I know that and you know that but he doesn’t know that.

Ms. Cook said that she was going to have a talk with Ben White   next time she saw him and set him straight. She said that she felt he was being ridicules.

Later I found out that after Mr. White had made his remark to Ms. Cook that Ms. Cook went to her Department Manager Phillip Beard and said (in reference to the remark), “What the F*** was that all about?” Also around this same time period Mr. White referred to Trina Cook as “Fat” in a conversation with receiving clerk Kim Delgado. Ms. Delgado reprimanded him saying, “You can’t do that.” Mr. White said, “But I’m fat!” Ms. Delgado said, “I don’t care, you can’t say that.”

16. I came into work on September 18, 2012 not feeling well. I told my Supervisor Ed McMahan that I was not feeling well and asked him if I could take off early that day after I finished my deliveries. He said that I could but just be sure that I let a Manager on Duty or Robert Gonzales know before I left as he would not be there.

When I got back to the store I found Zone Managers Steve Allen, Shawn Sanders and Tom Southard in a meeting with store Manager Robert Gonzales and HR Manager Ben White in the training room. I knocked on the door and asked to enter. Mr. Gonzales motioned me in. I told him that I was not feeling well and that I had asked Ed McMahan if I could go home and he had said yes. Mr. Gonzales asked what was wrong and I explained that my stomach was in a knot. Mr. Gonzales joked that maybe I had the same thing as Steve Allen. Mr. Allen said that he had an upset stomach all day long. I said, “Mine just feels knotted up and it is not making me feel real well.” Mr. Gonzales said, “Go on home and I hope you get to feeling better.” I said, “I have the next two days off and I am going to take it easy.” I then left the store and went home.

17. On September 21, 2012 I clocked in just as I always did and went back to receiving to meet with my Supervisor Ed McMahan and see what deliveries he had scheduled for me that day. Acting Assistant Store Manager Shawn Sanders came back to receiving and asked if he could talk to me. I said, “Sure, what’s up?” He said that I was wanted in the front office. I told him OK and headed that direction. He walked beside me but never said anything. He had a slight smirk which led me to believe that I was probably going to finally get wrote up for the drawing. I thought to myself; Finally, now we can move on.

When I got to the Store Managers office Robert Gonzales invited me to come in and have a seat. HR Manager Ben White was sitting at the back of the office. Mr. Gonzales smiled and asked how I was and I indicated that I was fine. He then flipped over a piece of paper on his desk and said, “We are here today to talk about your termination.” The following conversation then took place:

        ME: What? Why?

        Robert Gonzales:  Distribution of Offensive Material.

        ME: I didn’t distribute anything.

        Robert Gonzales: You brought that drawing into the store.

        ME: And I gave it only to the person that asked me to draw it     for him.

        Robert Gonzales: But you brought that drawing into my store     and handed out copies.

        ME: No I didn’t hand out copies.

        Robert Gonzales: You brought it into my store…

        ME: Yes, to give it to the guy that asked me to draw it for him. I didn’t distribute anything.

        Robert Gonzales: I have talked to my Managers and they agree   with this decision.

        ME: You talked to 2 managers that do not like me to make your decision? That’s fair.

(Shawn Sanders does not like me because I lodged several verbal complaints against him for his approach and the way he would talk to me when giving me an assignment. Tom Southard does not like me because I lodged a written complaint against him for lying to a customer and telling her that I did not do my job and that was the reason she was not getting her delivery. The truth was it had been he that had bumped her delivery for an unscheduled delivery)

        Robert Gonzales: There is a place there (indicating the       termination form) where you can write a comment.

        ME: So that’s it? I don’t get a write up just a termination? What about the other people involved? Are they getting terminated?

        Robert Gonzales: I won’t have that type of behavior in my store.

        ME: What behavior? It was a drawing I did for a guy that I gave to the guy that asked me for it. I did not distribute anything, I did nothing wrong. You two are new here, do you have any idea   how much of myself I have given to this company? How hard I        have worked? And now you just kick me to the curb, over a        drawing!?

        Robert Gonzales: When you finish your comment sign at the       bottom.

        I wrote my statement and then said;

        ME: You know, it’s funny, a while back I filed a written       complaint against one of your managers that did something a    lot worse than this and nothing was ever done to him.

        Robert Gonzales: We are not talking about the past we are         talking about the future and I will not have things like this in         my store. Do you have anything in your locker?

        ME: I have my knap sack in back and some stuff in my locker.

        Robert Gonzales: Ben will accompany you to get your stuff.

I then left his office with Ben White escorting me. In the store it is known as the “Walk of Shame.” When I reached receiving I recovered my knap sack and said to the employees there; “I’ll see you all again someday, maybe.” As I walked to the employees break room at the front of the store I said, “Ben, you know this is not right.” Mr. White said, “The decision wasn’t mine.” Shawn Sanders fell in to step on the other side of me smirking.

As I cleared out my locker I said again, “This isn’t right. A write up maybe but termination over something like this? I’m a good employee and a hard worker. This isn’t right!” Mr. White nor Mr. Sanders said anything. After I exited the store I called my wife at her place of employment to come pick me up. As I waited for her out in front of the store Shawn Sanders stood right inside the door. I figure that this was to keep me from reentering the store, which I had no intention of doing at that time.

As I was waiting I realized that Ben White had not given me a copy of my termination so I called the store and asked him to run a copy and bring it out. A few minutes later Mr. White came out of the store and informed me that he had called Sonia (the district HR Manager) and she had said that the Termination form was Lowes property and I could not have a copy.

After my wife picked me up and I took her back to her job  I headed down to the Texas Workforce Office. I told the lady at the front desk what had happened. She agreed with me that Ben Whites actions appeared to be racist. She gave me some phone numbers to call and suggested that I contact the Texas Department of Labor and the EEOC. She also said that I had a right to the form I had signed. She said that the company may elect not to give it to me but that I had a right to it.

When I left the Texas Workforce Office I called Ben White and told him what the lady had told me about my right to a copy of the form. I told Mr. White that I wanted a copy of the form. My signature was on it and I had a right to a copy of the form. Mr. White said he would talk to Texas Workforce. He phoned me a few minutes later and said he had talked to Texas Workforce and that they had told him that he didn’t have to give me a copy of the form and he wasn’t going to give me one. I said, “Then I guess you will have to talk to my attorney about that.” (I had at this point decided that I might need legal representation) Mr. White said, “Have a good day Jim.” Then hung up.

As I was driving home Ed McMahan phoned me and asked me to come to his home, he said he needed to talk to me. I told him I would meet him there. When Mr. McMahan arrived at his home he was crying. He kept apologizing over and over to me saying that he was sorry he had cost me my job. Mr. McMahan knows I have large medical bills from a motorcycle accident last year and that I needed my job. I kept assuring Mr. McMahan that it wasn’t his fault. I told him there was something deeper going on here. Mr. McMahan told me that he had gone to Robert Gonzales office after they walked me out of the store and asked him why I had been fired. Mr. McMahan said that Mr. Gonzales told him the same thing he had told me; Distribution of Offensive Material. Mr. McMahan told Mr. Gonzales that I did not distribute the drawing. He said that I only gave it to the person that asked for it. Mr. Gonzales said that he didn’t care, that Lowes had fed and clothed his family for 30 years and he wasn’t giving that up for anyone. Mr. McMahan said that Mr. Gonzales also said that he would go on from here and not think about it again and that he (Ed McMahan) should do the same. Mr. McMahan said, “How can I go on and pretend this didn’t happen? Gypsy is my friend, how am I suppose to face him?” Mr. Gonzales indicated that it wasn’t his problem and told Mr. McMahan he should forget about it. Mr. McMahan asked what was going to happen to him. Mr. Gonzales said, “We are having this conversation.” Mr. McMahan said, “I am not being wrote up or terminated?” Mr. Gonzales said, “We are having this conversation.” Mr. McMahan said, “But you terminated him for nothing and you are not doing anything to me.” Mr. Gonzales said, “We are having this conversation and when you leave this office there will be no more talk of this.”

Mr. McMahan also told me that word had spread through the store pretty quick and that most of the employees were upset over what they had done to me. He also told me that during a training session he had been present at Ben White had made a comment about “African Babies”. Mr. McMahan had been at the meeting but said he had not caught all that had been said. Mr. McMahan also said that during a Voice Team Meeting on September 20, 2012 that Mr. White had made some very off colored sexually related remarks about a penis

Mr. McMahan apologized to me again and I once more reassured him that it was not his fault that this had happened.

18. On September 22, 2012 I returned a Lowes Vest I had taken home to launder to the Lowes store I had been employed at. I gave it to Nichole Tumey Strait and asked her to give it to Ben White. I then asked her to recover a pair of gloves, two water bottles and an ice pack I had left in the employees break room. I purchased some weed eater line then I stopped and talked to Nichole Tumey Strait, Karen Cockrell and Cindy (last name unknown). They expressed their dismay and sympathy over my termination. I told them that I was now a customer and I had nothing to be ashamed of. I said, “I have done nothing wrong and I will not hide nor disappear.” Karen said, “Good for you.”

Since my termination I have been in Lowes #2719 to pick up supplies and paint. I have handed out to employees who are friends my card so that they may stay in touch with me. Ben White has witnessed me giving my card to some people and has called these people to his office demanding to know what is on the card I handed them. Among these people are Appliance Specialist Mellissa Tate and Head Cashier Nichole Tumey Strait.

IN CONCLUSION:

I feel like, based on the facts I have given, that I have been the victim of racism and discrimination. Until Ben White came to Lowes #2719 no one had a problem with my heritage nor my nickname. I feel like he has been on a campaign since the moment I first met him to not only prove that my name and the heritage attached to it are a bad thing but that he must also prove he is right no matter the cost to others. I believe that my termination is a direct result of Mr. White wanting to remove me from the equation so that he no longer had to prove he was right and I was wrong. The situation he used to instigate my termination could have been kept in house yet he escalated it to corporate to get the end result he desired. I find his remarks and actions to be racist and discriminatory. The sad thing is I do not think he realizes it.

As for Robert Gonzales, by his own admission he found the drawing to be “Good”. He also requested to see the drawing even after I warned him against it. Yet I am terminated on a false accusation of distribution. Why were no other employees disciplined or called to task on their usage of Lowes Company equipment to copy the drawing and pass it around? I had done the drawing on my own time at home and given the drawing to a single person who had requested it, not a group of people. I truly do not want to see anyone in trouble over such a petty thing. In my opinion there should have been no more than a verbal warning for all, myself included. Mr. Gonzales action was discriminatory and overkill to say the least and the true reason why still remains a mystery to me. However, Mr. Gonzales knew of Mr. Whites campaign against me and in many ways condoned his actions by not putting a stop to them. I believe he used the described situation as an excuse to get rid of me, the object of Ben Whites obsession. 

In my opinion Mr. Gonzales nor Mr. White have been at Lowes #2719 long enough to know the employees nor to learn what a close knit group they are. Both are recent hires at the store. Both have talked about how they want us to be one big happy family yet through their actions they are driving wedges between people they claim they wish to unite through discriminatory and racist acts and remarks.

I truly do not know why I was singled out for this type of treatment from these two individuals after being a good and reliable employee for 18 months but the mental, emotional and financial stress I and my wife have suffered over their actions is significantly damaging.

James A. George                         Monday, September 25, 2012

POST NOTE:

The EEOC found against me and in favor of Lowe’s stating; “There is no discrimination as “Gypsies” are not a race, they are a culture.

Thirty days after I was terminated HR Manager Ben White was terminated for sexual harassment of a cashier.

I no longer live in Texas and now call Kansas home.

I find it difficult to shop at Lowes.

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

The GYPSY’s Blog: The Contract

THE CONTRACT

The GYPSY tattoos The Enigma during Culture Shock in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2008.

I sat in the chair in front of the enormous desk holding the contract in my hands. Across from me, hands folded in front of him, sat the man in the suit and the tie with the Windsor knot that had handed me the contract.
I had just read article 15, which stated to wit; any and all work that I did over the next 15 years belonged to the greeting card company that was wanting to hire me as an artist. I looked at the man and thought how ridiculous his blue and red striped tie looked against the dark green of his suit. His eye glasses reflected the light, he looked like a Christmas tree with a sparkling tree topper.
The date was January 5th 1976 and I had just graduated midterm from my high school. I was taking college art classes and was not really sure what direction I wanted to go in life. The one thing I was sure of and the one thing I had always been sure of ever since I was a young child was that I would be an artist. Nothing else in the world interested me more than art. To spend my life creating art was my idea of a life well spent.
I laid the contract on the man’s desk and set back in my chair. He studied me and I studied him. “Well, what do you think?” he asked. What I thought was, “How did you get my portfolio?” I suspected that I knew how he had got my portfolio. My well-meaning mother, whose dream it was for me go to work for this well-known and well-respected greeting card company had probably sent it to them. That is what I wanted to ask the living Christmas decoration sitting across from me but what I said was, “Let me get this straight, any and all work I do over the next 15 years belongs exclusively to your company. So does that mean that if I paint a mural and hang it over my fireplace that you can come into my home and take that painting?”
He stammered, “Well technically…” I cut him off, “This is a simple yes or no question yes you can, no you can’t.” The human Christmas tree shook off some loose needles, cleared its throat and said, “Well theoretically…” I cut him off with a wave of my hand as I stood up, “Well theoretically”, I said turning towards the door, “I’m going to have to think about it.” Mr. Xmas jumped to his feet. “We are really interested in signing you; the contract will be here when you are ready to sign.” He pointed at his desk indicating the stack of neatly typed papers that lay upon it.
Over the years I have thought about that contract laying on his desk and I have wondered to myself; I wonder how dusty that contract is? Because I knew when I stepped out that door and it closed behind me that I would never be back.
I was 19 years old at the time and as I rode down in the glass enshrouded elevator all I could think to myself was if I had signed that contract I would be an old man of 34 years old by the time it expired. Now there are some people that would say I was crazy for not signing on with the greeting card company, I mean after all with the progressive salary raises that the contract offered by the time it expired in 1989 I would be pulling down $50,000 a year, not to mention accumulated bonus’, benefits and a fat pension package. At that time that was a chunk of cash, even in this day and age it is nothing to sneeze at, yet to me it wasn’t enough to sign my soul away. There is never enough money for that.
As I walked out of the large center that held the offices that I would never be returning to the chill wind sent a shiver up my spine. I stood and let the sunshine try to warm my face as I wondered; is it the wind that makes me cold or is it the thought of what I just turned down that leaves me chilled. There was one thing I knew for sure I wasn’t in a big hurry to return home. My mother’s dream for me had always been for me to go to work for that particular card company but it wasn’t my dream. No I would have to return home and tell my mother that her hopes, plans and aspirations for me were not the hopes, plans and aspirations I had for myself.
As I drove down Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri I looked to my right and my left for some distraction, for something that would allow me to kill some time so that I could delay the inevitable scene that would occur when I told my mother what I had decided. That is when I saw it, the tattoo parlor, I turned the corner and pulled into the parking lot behind the building.
I had never been inside a tattoo parlor, the thought of going into a tattoo parlor had never even crossed my mind let alone the thought of getting a tattoo. On this day my only thought was; let’s go in and check this out and see if it’s just like it is on TV and in the movies. Besides I was looking for a way to kill time and this was as good a way as any.
As I walked into the building the smell of alcohol, soap and cigarette smoke assailed my nostrils. The walls were filled with a mirade of cartoonish looking designs on large cardboard sheets; I would later learn that these were called “Flash”. The only sound inside the building was the music playing from an old radio up on a shelf and ithe nsisted buzzing of the tattoo gun.
In this time and place the terms “parlor” and “gun” were appropriate; that would not be the case in the future when those terms would become archaic and be replaced with studio and machine. But the tattooist who sat behind the counter in this “parlor” tattooing the arm of a man with his “gun” was not only appropriate but descriptive of the atmosphere of this place and the individual whose imposing presence ruled this domain.
I swallowed hard, cleared my throat and then in a voice meeker than I had intended said, “Excuse me sir, do you mind if I watch you work?” Without looking up from the bicep that he was tattooing a peacock onto the tattooist barked out, “Yeah, but don’t talk to me.”
I will not bore you with the details of my long time standing there watching this man tattoo. To go into detail about what he tattooed that day who he tattoo that day and where those tattoos were placed on the numerous bodies that walked in and out of his shop would do nothing but put you to sleep and cause you to stop reading this narrative. What is important to note was that 14 hours after I had first asked Gene if I could watch him and he locked those doors to his parlor for the day I was still there.
“So”, he asked as he locked the door, “when are you going to start learning how to tattoo?” I laughed, “What makes you think I want to learn how to tattoo?” Gene eyed me up and down and shook his head. “Boy let me tell you something I have been tattooing for twenty eight years, I am third generation, my daddy tattooed before me and his daddy before him. Nobody, and I mean nobody stands for 14 hours straight with their mouth closed watching me work that doesn’t want to learn.”
I was a 19 year old kid who thought he had all the answers, who believed that no one knew what was going on in this whole wide world any better than he did. I looked at Gene smirked and said, “I’ll have to think about it.”
“Yeah right”, he said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”
The drive home between Kansas City and St Joe that morning seem to take longer than usual. My mind was working overtime weighing, balancing, determining, and desperately trying to see into my murky, crowded and unknown future.
Around 4 a.m. I walked in the door of the apartment that I shared with my mother and sister. My mother sat on the couch waiting for me a stack of magazines and newspapers next to her. She jumped up as I entered the apartment and almost, no doubt in her excitement, screamed, “Where have you been? Where have you been? What did they say? When do you start work for them?”
I took off my coat and dropped it over the back of the chair by my mom’s priced piano. I turned around and faced her; you could not miss the look of excited anticipation on her face. I cleared my throat and said, “I’m not going to work for them.” The look of excitement left my mother’s face and was instantly replaced by a look of confusion. “What do you mean you’re not going to work for them? If you don’t go to work for the greeting card company what on earth are you going to do?” Mustering up as much of my manly nineteen-year-old fortitude as I possibly could I looked my mother dead in the eye and said, “I’m going to be a tattoo artist.” She promptly screamed and fainted.
My grandmother took it a little better then my mother did. When I phoned her to give her the news and I told her what I had decided. There was a slight pause on the other end of the line, I heard her exhale and then she asked, “Will it make you happy?” I said, “Yes ma’am it will.” My grandmother said, “Well then that is all that matters.”
In my 40 year career I have had many milestones, many accomplishments and many let downs. I have always chosen to not dwell up on the downside of my career but rather on the upside and what I have been able to give back to a profession that has given so much to me.
I have three associates degrees; forestry / wildlife management, technical illustration / mechanical drafting and psychiatric technician.
I have had the first tattoo studios in St Joseph Missouri, Abilene Texas, Midland Texas, San Angelo Texas, Baxter Springs, Kansas, Iola Kansas and Independence, Kansas. I also had the first legally registered tattoo studio in the state of Oklahoma and from 1995 – 2010 I was the officially recognized tattoo authority for the Osage Nation.
I was the first person in the state of Kansas to actually go to school to learn how to pierce and learn how to do microdermal implantation, what is commonly referred to as cosmetic tattooing.
At one time it was believed that you couldn’t tattoo over scars. In 1977 I was allowed the opportunity to practice scar cover up on a gentleman that had been burnt over three quarters of his body. I spent a year working on his arm and taking notes. I developed a procedure that worked for covering up his heavy scar tissue with tattoos and I wrote a paper on it in 1978. Tattoo artists that cover up scar tissue today may not know where the technique came from that they have learned to do but that’s okay. Because it gives me satisfaction to know how many people have been helped because of work I did in 1977 and 1978. Recently I heard of a tattoo artist in Ohio who is donating their time to cover the scars of victims of severe trauma. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear of other people in my profession giving back with something that I helped develop.
I promoted, organized and sponsored the very first ever tattoo convention in Kansas which ran from 1993 – 1997.
I have been a senior zookeeper, a soldier, a photographer, a truck driver, a bar owner and a school bus driver. I have driven ice cream vans, been an art teacher, actor and common laborer.
Together with my wife I founded Artist Alley and American Ghost Riders (a paranormal research group). I am an artist, an author, an illustrator, and a psychic.
I ran for the Kansas State House of Representatives in 2006 and I am the creator and executive director of Topcon Geek Expo.
I have donated of my time, my energies, my talents and my self to numerous civic and charitable causes. I was the Chairman of the Baxter Springs Joint Historic and Beautification Committee. I have sat on the board of Directors of the Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Kansas Tourism Region and 4 State Tattoo Association. I was an Explorer Scout Adviser and a Children’s Art Teacher. And through all these things I have done and been I continued my Body Art career practicing my love of Tattooing and Piercing.
In 2008 I became one of only 27 people worldwide that had taken and passed the Alliance of Professional Tattooist Tattoo Mastery test.
In 2009 I was appointment to the Kansas Board of Cosmetology, by Governor Mark Brown, as the representative for the body art industry in the state of Kansas.
I have one of the first websites ever on the Internet dedicated to tattooing and piercing I have owned the www.ubtat2d.com domain since 1994. I am a resident expert on body art on www.allexperts.com and I have written numerous articles about tattooing and piercing as well as doing the lecture circuit disgussing body art safety and ethics.
From 1988 through 2010 I owned several different state of the art mobile facilities and worked the show and event circuit during the summer months. Arizona to Kansas to Oklahoma to Missouri to Ohio I traveled, I tattooed, I pierced. South Dakota to Arkansas to New Hampshire to Iowa to Texas I did the miles and I did the art. Pennsylvania to South Carolina to Nebraska to Wyoming to New Mexico I left no road untraveled and no client unmarked.
I have given countless television and radio interviews as well as appearing and starring in movies and television documentaries about tattooing, piercing and the paranormal. I even share top billing in a movie with Peter Fonda, Jim Dandy, Greg Alman, Willie Davidson, Slaughter and Paul Revere.
I have won numerous awards and accolades for the tattoo art I create both nationally and internationally.
I have artwork in the Smithsonian institution as well as in museums in Kansas and elsewhere in the United States. I am even part of an exhibit about American art that is featured in a traveling Museum in Australia.
My art and the career that I chose to follow have put food on my family’s table, clothes on my children’s back and a roof over my family’s head.
I am an old school tattoo artist and proud of that fact; I make no apologies to anyone for the art I create nor the style of that art. I do not compare my work to others and I do not appreciate it when others compare their work to mine.
All artists no matter what medium they work in have their style. You cannot compare Van Gogh to Renoir, you cannot compare Michelangelo to Rodan and you can not compare Sailor Jerry to The Gypsy. All have their styles, all have their niche and all have they’re separate following. The type of art I like is not the type of art that another person may like and vice a versa.
I have been practicing my tattoo art 40 years now and truthfully I am tired. It is not that I am tired of tattooing because I’m not. It’s not that I am tired of creating art because I am NOT. What I am tired of is ignorance; ignorance that comes from rudeness and the rudeness that comes from disrespect.
For 40 years I have dealt with the truly ignorant, the truly Rude, the truly disrespectful and and with the widespread popularity of social networking the trolls have become even more ignorant, rude and disrespectful and I am just tired of it.
It is an unfortunate statement on our society that you cannot educate those who refuse to be educated. I know, I have tried to educate people but while some learn others close their eyes, they close their ears, and they close their minds. Those are barriers that you just cannot pass through and I am done trying.
That is why I have decided to pass on the torch to younger and more enthusiastic members of the body art community.
In the near future I will be retiring from body art. I will go back to where it all started; I will lay down my tattoo machine and pick up a paintbrush and my art will have come full circle. So it is with life everything comes full circle and there is no beginning and there is no end.
In my career I have apprenticed 18 people; out of those 18 people 2 proved their worth. It is to those two that I will leave my legacy my hopes and my dreams to. My final chapter will never be wrote because within all those I have taught, touched and loved in my life and in my career my story will continue.
They will take all that they have learned from me and they will expand it, they will improve upon it and pass it on to those who want ti learn and will further expand on and improve the world of Body Art just like I did with what I learned. I will live on from generation to generation and the ethics and passion I contributed to Tattooing and Piercing will live on also. Because just as I drank from the spring that formed me so too did they drink from the spring that formed them and those who come after them will drink from their spring.
So when that day comes that I do announce my retirement do not mourn for what has ended rather rejoice with me in what has begun. Because baby you ain’t seen nothing yet.

-The GYPSY: Master Tattoo Artist-

#RubberBiskit