Monday, June 25, 2018

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Old Woman



By Joe Glasgow

It was a bitter cold night, and I pulled the quilt up around my neck around my neck. The voices of my parents comforted me as I drifted off to sleep. The aroma of coffee wafted into my bedroom, and awakened me. I was comforted by the sound of their voices they spoke in hush tones about the winter storm.

A chill went down my spine despite being wrapped in my quilt, and pajamas equipped with feet covering. My eyes were closed, and temperature seemed to drop in the room I could feel the warmth of the quilt being tucked in around me. I was startled that I could hear the voices of my parents in the kitchen. I could see that my brothers sound asleep in their beds.

I gave a cautious glance over my left shoulder, and sitting in the bedroom chair was an old woman. She was dressed in what appeared to be early 20th century clothing. She was just watching over us three boys as we slept. When I turned to call for my mother, she vanished.

We always referred to this home as the “farm house.”  It was a small place that we raised several head of cattle. It was built in the late 1800’s, and the feel of the mysterious enveloped the home.

After I told my youngest brother Gerry, we decided to go into the attic to see what we could find. We found a treasure trove of old late 19th century shoes, and bits of clothing. It would be Gerry that was the first to notice a temperature drop one summer in the room just off the loft. It was unusually cool; the loft itself was getting stuffy in the under the midday sun.

In the early morning hours one fall morning, dad heard a knock on the door. He checked his alarm clock, and started swearing that his brother-in-law had stopped by nearly an hour earlier than usual for coffee. He slipped on a t-shirt, and pants. When he went to the door, there was nobody at the door. Puzzled, he thought he had just been dreaming, but when he turned around he saw the old woman ascending the staircase into the loft.

I only saw apparition twice, but I felt her often in my presence. In the summer, we would sleep in the loft. During a bad thunderstorm, I saw her looking over us in the flashes of lightning. I was comforted by her presence that we were going to be fine despite the violent thunderstorm. I would look for her during the flashes of lightning again, but never saw her again. Her presence always felt in the loft more than anywhere in the house. We would have running conversations about who was she? Why did her presence stay in the home? All unanswered questions to this day.

Through the years, I would think about her as I passed the old decaying house, wondering if she still dwelt at the old place. Then one day, the house was finally torn down. I wonder if her presence is still on the property. I think of her comforting presence always when I drive by.

Friday, March 3, 2017

On the Road to Vienna, or Musings of an Accidental Traveler

Upper Belvedere Palace

The lights of the airport parking garage spelled sanctuary. My hands gripped the steering wheel so hard my knuckles where white, and muscles in my arms throbbed. We just made over 80 miles of ice-covered highway to our destination. My wife, whom I affectionately refer to as M., helped me pry my hands from the steering wheel. What else could go wrong now?

We had quite a time before our flight, so breakfast seemed like a good idea. The lights were dim, but the staff assured us they were open. The dim lights should have been a warning.

I ordered my usual sausage with scrambled eggs. It was so dark in the restaurant that I couldn’t see the food on my plate. I was forced to navigate by smell alone. To be quite frank, the meal tasted a bit dodgy, but I assured the Mrs. that is tasted fine.

When we arrived for our international flight at Dulles in Washington,D.C., I felt a little unwell, but attributed it to the tensions of the early morning drive catching up with me. At our gate, I started to feel real feverish with a stomach ache. A bit of food poisoning for the road, I thought, unaware that the real fun was still in my future. Waiting to board, my wife turned and asked me: “Vienna - Now or Never?”

I had waited for this trip for such a long time, so I quickly assured her that I would be fine.
Sleep overtook me on the flight, to my good fortune. The meal served, I could only pick at it as I desired water, and little food. There was nothing that could have prepared when the plane started to descend. My stomach tried to vacate my body through my mouth. On the ground, I was advised by my lovely bride to pull myself together, or they wouldn’t allow me to enter the country - always a charming and practical trooper that she is…

We settled into our room at the Astoria, where I was given a chance to rest for a few hours. M. always travels under the motto of the French Foreign Legion “March or Die,” with no time to be wasted lounging around hotel rooms. So we were off to explore the city.

Our first stop was St. Stephen’s Cathedral. To her, an Eastern Catholic, it was more than just a sightseeing stop, but above and foremost a sacred place of worship. Ever an optimist and a staunch believer in miracles, big and small, without any warning she sprinkled some blessed water on me with a quick prayer as we entered the cathedral. It was so unexpected that I thought I heard a sizzle and pop as the holy water hit my face. However, I did notice a group of Japanese tourists backed away from me with a look of horror. It didn’t seem like a good idea, but we went on tour of the catacombs. Memento mori…. The stacks of bones of thousands of folks who had once lived, loved, and were buried under the church, was a sobering place, particularly in my sickly condition. At the very end, we saw a pit with the remains of the last plague victims, and when we started towards the exit someone sneezed. “Great! They will never let us over here. We are screwed.” We were standing on the steps to the exit for several minutes, when finally, to my relief, we could leave into the fresh air of Vienna.

The following day we were taking an excursion in which we had to take a bus from downtown. Not knowing how things work, we were taken by a small bus to a terminal near the railway station, where we were given round yellow stickers to put on our lapels. Being a history buff, I knew that patches and railways didn’t go well together… I tried to crack some off-color joke about it, whispering it my wife… I found out the Viennese are a little sensitive about their past. M. stared at me furiously expecting us to be asked to get off the tour.

My body finally healed, and the next few days were filled with visits to palaces, museums, and other historic places. In the course of it, I developed a particular fondness for the Viennese coffeehouse culture. It is a beautiful old city filled with music, good food, and history… and I cannot wait but make a speedy return to it some day soon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Another Country Saturday Night

Perry & Vester Glasgow

Bob Glasgow (lower)

The sun had started a slow descent in the western sky, a sign of another hot humid Hoosier summer afternoon had come to an end. The sweet smell of fresh cut hay hung over the valley a signal the work week was over. It was Saturday night, a time for family and relaxation.

Dad grabbed the Pabst Blue Ribbon out of the refrigerator, and gave call for us to go with him to grandpa’s house. Dad grabbed the cold beer from the refrigerator, my brother and I like two faithful pups on his heels started down the old country road to grandpa’s house.

We lived next door, if you could call it that in the country. There was a field large enough to fit a baseball field, a barn, corn crib, and a stand trees stood on one side of the road, the other side was an open field which ascended into a large hill. There was an old gravel road that ran parallel to the hill.

We walked up our drive made a right to walk to grandpa’s place. A car drove toward us on the gravel road, and it stirred up a large cloud of dust in its wake. When the driver came to the stop, he leaned out the window saying: “Hey, Perry Dale.” Dad responded with an offer of a cold beer, which the fellow was happy to accept. Dad gave him a nod of the head as he pulled out of the drive heading down the same road where we just

As we got close I could hear the family troubadour, uncle Bob sitting behind the house strumming his old guitar singing an old honkytonk tune.

Dad opened a can of PBR, offering hisbrother and dad a cold one as he pulled up a chair. The empty cans next to their chairs indicated that the beer drinking had already started. I put the balance of the beers in the refrigerator. Our true purpose was evident as the beer fetchers and can collectors on this summer evening, as I put the beer in
the refrigerator, my brother was putting the empty cans in the trash.

Bob strummed his guitar while singing a Hank Williams song. A dispute over who was to fetch the round of beersdeveloped between me and my brother. We rolled on the ground throwing punchesat one another. Dad cussed us both for fighting, and grandpa told him to let us fight. I connected with a wild right hook which knocked my brother out. He landed at the base of a tree; I thought he was just trying fake me out. Grandpa
retrieved a bucket of water, and emptied most of the bucket of water on my brother. I got the balance of the bucket tossed on me as he passed by to cool me off.

Order was restored until just before dark when a small snake slithered under my chair. Nobody saw the serpent in the twilight, but a quick rap from a stick by dad indicated it had been found, its days came to  an end, and uncle Bob didn’t miss a note, playing a
sad country song on his  guitar through the all the commotion that surrounded him.

Darkness descended over the valley, and inthe full moon grandpa’s face seemed to glow as he told stories of the Johnson boys, haunted graveyards, good whiskey, and others folks that were long gone. The last round of beers were  opened, and Bob picked at his guitar, acigarette dangled from his lips. The hoot owl’s cry signaled the end of the night. We started back down the road in the light of the full moon just another
country Saturday night.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Old Springville Gym

     Photo (c) Joni McDaniel 2015

My eyes didn’t want to believe what I was reading on Facebook; it was a simple post which stated “the gym is gone.” The photos that accompanied the statement left no doubt with flames that appeared to be shooting straight to heaven from where the roof should have been. A sacred place of my childhood had perished, and my heart was broken.

It was a cold crisp December evening, snow dusted the ground, and with the falling temperatures mom had bundled me tight as mummy. The sense of anticipation enveloped me when I saw the parking lot of the gym was almost full. I was about to see my first basketball game. I didn’t know what to expect.

Dad found a parking spot, and when I opened the door I could hear the sounds that emanated from behind the closed doors of the gym. I could hear the ring of a basketball being bounced against the hardwood floor. As we approached the door we could hear the opposition cheerleaders urging their team to victory.

It was my introduction to Hoosier Hysteria. We came to see my cousin Danny Banks play for the Springville Hornets. When we approached the door there seemed to be a roar from inside. The visitors were warming up on the floor, and as dad purchased our tickets the hometown Hornets came out of the locker room.

Danny led the way as the hometown Hornets circled the court before breaking down into two lines for layup drills. The local crowd stood as one and cheered. I was hooked on basketball. The old scoreboard straight of the movie Hoosiers would tick down to the start of the game. The place was packed, which didn’t take a large crowd in the tiny gym, but the whole town seemed to be at the game.

It would only be a couple of years before I played for the Hornets as would my brother, as my dad and his brothers. The sense of history, and community was always felt in that small gym.

When I came home on leave from the Air Force in the late 70’s, I knew where to find my friends, and a friendly game of basketball.  Well as friendly as Hoosiers can get playing basketball. The sense of knowing you were home again warmed my soul.

As the years went by, I would still drive by on a December night, and if I listened close, I could hear the roar of the crowd in a tightly contested game from long ago. I’m eight years old walking across a snow-covered parking lot with dad, my heart races in anticipation for what for what awaited me behind the closed door. It was a love affair with Hoosier Hysteria that waited just beyond the entrance. The gym may no longer exist, but in my mind, and stories it will live on.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

An Old Football

“Smooth as a baby’s bottom” is how my brother described our old football. He was right; it was so slick that it was difficult to get a grip on the ball making it a challenge to throw. Now, the ball was old enough that we couldn’t even remember when we had replaced the worn stitching with shoestrings from an old pair of sneakers. We often laughed about our stitching effort.

I remember the day dad brought the ball home. It came with a plastic tee. Up until that time we did not have a real football. We had made our footballs from old socks, paper or anything else we could shape sort of like a football.

Dad wasn’t much of a football fan. He thought it was a game in which large men were free to pummel small men, period. Football held his interest only until the tip-off of the college basketball season. We were surprised the day he pulled into the drive, and tossed us a box with a football and a tee. It was something that we marveled at, and couldn’t wait to start kicking.

We began kicking it off the tee with miserable results, often sending the football to crash into the side of the house. At least, until dad moved us out to the field to play. We enjoyed our new football, kicking it off, tackling one another, laughing, and spending countless hours running in the field.

We played with the ball for about eight years, having thrown thousands of passes and having played hundreds of games with other kids from the neighborhoods we lived in. These were countless hours of fun we had with the ball, sharing good times with each other, family, and making new friends.

Finally, the ball was near flat, and we purchased another, a better quality football. We were home on leave, and I noticed the old ball sitting on the trash pile mom had for me to take out to the bin.

As I tossed the other items in the bin, I thought about all the fun times, friends, and games we had played with this old relic. Laughed to myself at the knocks, the friendships, and good times we had over the years.

I heard a voice call out “Mister, what are you going to do with that ball?”  I responded that I was getting ready to toss it into the trash bin. I turned around to see two boys about 8 years of age.  I recognized them as two brothers from the neighborhood. “Can we have the ball?” I said “sure,” and tossed the ball to one of the boys.

They proceeded to go down the alley tossing the ball from one to the other, laughing and enjoying their newly found treasure.

I was soon off to my duty station in Germany, and never saw the boys or the ball again. It was always my hope that this old childhood treasure of ours brought the two brothers closer together, and gave them countless hours of great American fun.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Best Job I Ever Had

The photo is from a newspaper clipping. My grandfather, Joe Glasgow is setting off a dynamite charge. He was working on the Mississinewa Reservoir dam site in northern Indiana.

I like to drive past the places of my youth, where the ghosts in the mist of times past reach out to greet me. The drive down the state highway near my home echoes the sounds of construction equipment, dust so thick you couldn’t see through. Back through a time when mom through caution to the wind, and let me spend a couple of hours with my dad on the job.

An older man shuffled out from the cloud of dust stirred by the construction equipment. His skin was of worn leather, and hands testified to a lifetime of hard labor. The little of puffs of white hair stood at attention over his ears. His smile revealing a mouth void of teeth welcomed me to the job site.

He turned back towards the cloud of dust, and yelled “Perry Dale, your boy is here.”

My dad emerged from the cloud of dust with a smile on his face, and instructed me to follow him. I could feel all eyes were on me as I trailed behind my dad. The mid-July humidity had left their t-shirts saturated with sweat and dirt. 

One fellow stepped towards me with a blank expression “Boy if you are going to be part of this crew you have to have a hard hat.” The hat was adjusted for me so that it wouldn’t fall over my eyes. Now, it was official; I was a part of a construction crew.

I didn’t know about OSHA, or how many laws we were violating by my mere presence. Dad instructed me what to do if the boss came to the job site. I asked, “How will I know him?”

A younger fellow interjected, “A small man with a large nose, and looks like a rat.” The description prompted the rest of the graduates from the school of hard knocks to laugh in unison.

Mom wasn’t crazy about the idea of me going to work with dad. What mother would want to send their 9 year-old to a construction site? She caved in as dad insisted it would be for just a short time. I was game for the adventure of a lifetime.

My dad, he was the dynamite man, and he took pride in his work. I grew up with various newspaper clippings of my dad and grandfather working on projects around the state. I thought it was a grand profession to be able to blow things up for a living.

The men went about the business drilling the hole to put the shot together. This job was to widen a dangerous curve on an old state highway. As they concluded their work, and the shot was ready to blast. 

Dad grinned and asked “do you want to throw the plunger?” I could just grin and nod my head. When the men had all cleared the area, dad told me we were ready and I threw the plunger. I knew by this move there would an epic explosion with dirt flying high into the air. My expectations were of a violent explosion like the explosions in the war movies.

A stream of sweat trickled down my back as I prepared for dad to give me the word. I pushed the plunger down on the signal from my dad.  I hit the plunger, but to my disappointment there was just a rumble deep in the ground, and puff of dust. A beehive of activity followed with dirt being removed, and the next hole being drilled.

One of the younger guys gave me a cup of water, and a Twinkie telling me “You need to take a break, kid.” An effort to keep me out of their way, I suppose.

Dad let me push the plunger down again. I still found it fascinating despite not causing the blast I had expected.

Mom had returned. No doubt a shopping trip cut short. Dad walked me to the car, when the younger man gave me a quarter telling me “every man gets paid for his labor.” I crammed the quarter into my pocket with a hearty “thank you.”

When he came home from work his talk wasn’t about following in his footsteps, but to get an education, so as he put it “I don’t want to see you dig ditches for a living.”  I knew I would never be a dynamite man like my father, or his father. He always desired a better life for his children.

It was the best job I ever had: blowing something up, a sweet snack… I worked less than two hours, earned twenty-five American cents, and got to work with my pops.