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Tennessee or Bust - Part 2

Posted by Admin on June 16, 2015 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Unidentified rolling object


The day came for us to pull out. The car was already packed, but we added a car top carrier and piled it about four feet high with last minute stuff we suddenly realized we couldn’t do without. The trunk was full. We had included pretty much everything except the stopper for the Pacific Ocean. And we were only carrying the bare necessities. I knew I would be needing those two antique leather bound tomes of Shakespeare that I had bought in a pawn shop for five dollars apiece. Together they wouldn’t weigh over forty pounds. I was taking a big block of solid walnut that I wanted to carve something out of sooner or later, and a few oil paintings I had done in class, so I could show the folks back home what I’d been learning.

Mick had his sea bag full of dirty clothes, but nothing else, except a pack of Kools he had swiped off Pop’s dresser.

It was Leon who showed me that I had no imagination at all when it came to packing only those items that were absolutely necessary to the trail.

Leon was bringing his scooter. You know…a scooter, like you stand on with one foot and push with the other. And he couldn’t do without his basketball, fully inflated. I didn’t recognize everything Leon threw in, but I wasn’t going to let him outdo me. I wedged my guitar in. Now we were prepared for any possible emergency. A body never knows when he’s liable to be needing a basketball, or a guitar, or his scooter.

Jackie…I don’t remember him taking anything along but the clothes on his back.

By the time we all got in, the old Ford was hunkered down so low that one of my sister Carla’s kittens couldn’t have crawled underneath. The running boards scraped the curb as we eased out into Steveanne Street. I wrestled the wheel around and got the car pointed in the right direction before I looked back over my shoulder to take a last look at my California home.

The picture is printed forever in my memory – the basic pink stucco tract home with garage, in this case overflowing with old TV’s, radios and other junk Pop collected to tinker with while learning electronics by home correspondence course. I remember the weed box underneath the kitchen window ( no flowers would ever grow there ). The family was standing on the sidewalk waving goodbye. My three-year-old sister Carla had one of her luckless little kittens by the tail, idly kicking it in the head to make it swing while she waved bye-bye with the other little brown hand. Pop wore a combination worried – relieved expression as he watched us creep away. My stepmother Ethel was shaking her head at the moving mountain of machinery, people and junk. She was mumbling to herself, “They’ll never make it…they’ll never make it.”

Blinking back a tear, I faced resolutely ahead, took a firm grip on the steering wheel and floorboarded it. A little kid eating a popsickle whizzed past us on rollerskates. His backwash rocked our car. I held the gas pedal down, and gradually we drew even with the next door neighbor’s house. We were picking up steam. We caught up with the kid on skates and passed him. The car strained ahead as I shifted into second gear, and we were on our way.

An hour later we were still fighting traffic through town when Jackie says, “Are we there yet?” Leon says, “I gotta use the bathroom.” And Mick says…well, maybe I better not say what Mick said.

As it worked out, we had to stop anyway, because the car quit on us. One minute we’re rolling along, and then suddenly the motor just dies. We coasted into a service station that happened to be handy, and the guy there checked under the hood. He informed us that we had us a vapor lock. I thought he was making some kind of crack about our intelligence or something, and commenced to get mad. But he explained that a vapor lock had something to do with overheating, so that the gas would vaporize before it got into the carburetor, or something. When that happened, he said, we had two options; we could either pour cold water on the fuel pump, or we could just sit and wait for it to cool off. Then the car would start and everything would be hunky-dory. Until it overheated again. No big deal. It didn’t happen too often, and we needed to stop and rest every now and then anyway. We’d definitely get there sooner or later, maybe.

Little by little we made it out of town without the cops stopping us. Not that we were speeding or anything. We were more like, obstructing traffic. I guess the cops figured it was better to go ahead and allow us to escape from their jurisdiction rather than to try to describe our vehicle in their report.


Tennessee or Bust - Part 1

Posted by Admin on June 9, 2015 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

June, 1958. I was living with my dad, Carl McCormick and my stepmother Ethel in Torrance, California. I had just completed my second year at El Camino College. I had seen all I wanted to see of Southern California for the time being, and was thinking how good it would be to see naturally growing green grass again. At the same time my brother Mick had just finished boot camp at the San Diego Naval Base and had hitched a ride up the coast to Torrance to see us before heading back to Tennessee on leave. He got me homesick enough until we made it up to drive back home in my car.

The thought never occurred to us that my car might not have three thousand miles left in it. It was a little metallic faded Prussian blue Ford coupe that Pop had bought for me to drive to school. I had just put in a set of rings and inserts, and the motor sounded all right to me. The crankshaft was pretty worn out, but I put in two or three sizes of rings, just to make sure I got a good fit somewhere. Maybe I wasn’t much of a mechanic, but the thing ran, at least. At our age, and in our state of mind, that’s all we required.

Somehow my Uncle Rex got wind of our plans. His thirteen-year-old mama’s boy, Leon, had been whining to go back east to spend the summer with grandma. Rex was overjoyed to find a free ride headed that way. It was all right with us. Leon was pretty skinny and wouldn’t take up much room. A kid like that couldn’t have much luggage. You could read relief all over Rex’s face when we agreed to take Leon along. That should have told us something.

We got the car packed, and ended up with about a square foot of space in the back seat to play with. Pop must have been making some mental calculations, because just as I was wondering what we could cram into that tiny space, Pop snaps his fingers and goes, “Hey! I bet you could cram Jackie right into that spot!” Jackie Philip, our brother from Pop’s second marriage, was about nine or ten, and had been shipped out to sunny California to spend his summer vacation with his dad. Now Pop saw his chance to ship him back.

“You boys won’t mind Jackie riding along, will you?” Pop said, not waiting for an answer. “His mama’s ready for him to come on home, and I wouldn’t want to trust him on a bus…”

Didn’t want to trust him on a bus? Anyway, we added one more to our passenger list. I never asked Pop and Rex about it, but I bet that summer went down as the peacefullest time they ever had. They got rid of all four of us boys in one fell swoop.

To Be Continued............


A Summer of Living Dangerously - Part 6 - The End

Posted by Admin on May 13, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Unfriendly Territory

Robert Daly got us into another fine mess one night when he talked me into going with him down into the projects. Parkview Courts was a new development just across East Chester from the Parkview Baptist Church. The apartments were all alike, row upon row of red brick low-income housing, strung out in a rambling circle. As such government developments invariably do, the place soon became a slum. The night we went down there some of the apartments had not been occupied. But already the project was getting a reputation. It wasn’t known as a good place to take a lot of moonlight strolls.

It turned out that’s why Robert wanted me along. He was afraid to go down there alone. As he laid it out for me, there was someone who lived in Parkview Courts he wanted to pick a fight with, and he needed me to watch his back.

Among the rougher element who had moved into the projects there was some punk who had challenged Robert’s manhood or something, and he wanted a chance to take this punk down. I would just be there for insurance. By the time it was over I was wishing I had insurance.

Of course, being a greenhorn in East Jackson, I had no hint of what it meant for a stranger to go boldly into Parkview Courts at night. As we entered the property we saw a dark figure standing alone on a grassy slope highlighted by the green glow of one of the few unbroken street lights in the project. Something about the figure didn’t look right.

Robert lifted a hand in greeting. The figure responded with a casual flip of the hand. I thought at first the hand was missing some fingers. It takes me a little time to figure some things out. Then the figure began smacking one fist into the opposite palm, slowly, emphatically…menacingly.

Then I saw the ponytail.

I hit the brakes. “This ‘punk’ is a girl?” I asked Robert. “You brought me down here to face off with a girl?”

“Don’t jump to conclusions,” he said with a tight face. We stopped before the girl and said hi. She was about our age, shorter than us, with a good figure, dressed in tight jeans and a denim jacket. She was trying to look as much like a boy as possible, and wasn’t quite succeeding. But she had the attitude.

Robert obviously knew her, and must have introduced me, but I don’t remember her name. All I know is that she had what it took to back up the attitude. It gradually dawned on me that what my buddy really wanted was to be sweet on the girl, but she kept making him mad. As we talked, sitting in a circle on the grass, swatting at mosquitoes, the girl seemed to want to take offense to everything Robert said. As pretty as she was, his pride wouldn’t allow him to overlook the sharpness of her tongue, and it wasn’t long before he decided that by golly it was time to teach this irreverent female a lesson. He’d been getting madder and madder every time she challenged something he said. Finally she made some crack that was the last straw, and he up and tied into her.

He rushed the girl, surprising her, and took her down on the ground. For a few minutes I just sat there astonished, watching the two of them threshing back and forth on the turf. First one was on top, then the other. I could hardly tell them apart. Arms swinging, legs kicking, they struggled mightily, grunting and cursing. Then, out of the tangle of knees and elbows, I saw the girl sit upright. She was astraddle Daly and had him pinned to the ground with her knees on his arms. She was punching him in the face, and they weren’t love taps.

“Joe…dang it!” Robert yelled, “feel free to pitch in anytime!”

Without thinking, I dived at her and knocked her off Robert. Then a bee stung me on the nose. Then it stung me on the chin, then something hard as a brick hit me upside the head, and we were rolling over and over across the grass. She was beating the stuffings out of me. I don’t know if I ever got in a good lick, but I got knees to the belly, an elbow to the jaw, head slammed into the ground, a whack on the goozle, and ended up in the same position Robert had ended up in – pinned to the ground, with that blasted punk female pounding me into jelly with her fists.

I would like to say that the two of us big, strong boys finally prevailed and taught that smart-alec girl a lesson she would not forget…but we didn’t. The fight ended when she finally got tired of swinging and just quit.

Suddenly, strangely – everything smoothed out, and we were just three dirty, sweaty teenagers, lying in a circle on the grass, face up to the street light, wiping bloody noses, nursing split lips and talking calmly like nothing ever happened. Robert and the girl were getting on. I felt left out, but I sure as heck wasn’t ready to get cross with nooobody again right away. Actually, it felt kind of peaceful to just sort of lie there on the soft grass and talk quietly, with no stress in the air. With friends I had just… shared a moment with.

I don’t know if Robert and the girl ever became an item. If so, he was welcome to her. One thing I was sure of…I never wanted to have a girlfriend I had to whip every time I went to see her.


The neighborhood. Nothing like it. Griffin’s Grocery and the mean streets around it in East Jackson. Where else could you find a place where black people are white, acrobatic shows are free, where terror walks the streets and even the girls are men…and where else could a six-year-old get a beer for breakfast?




Joe McCormick

October, 2008



A Summer of Living Dangerously - Part 5

Posted by Admin on April 28, 2015 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Scary movie


One of the boys who lived in the neighborhood was Robert Daly. He and I hung out together a lot. I believe he later became Chief of Police in Jackson, which is surprising, considering the rough crowd he used to associate with. Anyway, he was fun to be with. We got into some interesting things together.

One night we decided to go downtown to see a movie. We had to walk a mile or more down East Chester and over to Baltimore, where the two major theaters of Jackson stood side by side in all their brilliant splendor…the Paramount and the Malco. We couldn’t wait to get inside.

We walked up to the entrance and looked up to see what was playing. There on the marquee, in two-foot high letters was the one word…”FRANKENSTEIN.” I felt chills go up and down my spine. That movie was without a doubt the scariest movie of all time. Made in 1931, it resurfaced periodically. This was the first time I had seen it.

I kept telling myself throughout the picture that the guy in the hairy suit with a railroad spike through his neck was just an actor. He wasn’t really a monster. Creatures like that don’t really exist. Do they?

Knowing it was really Boris Karloff, who was just an actor doing his job didn’t help much. To us the name Boris Karloff inspired fully as much fear as did the name Frankenstein. As the movie progressed toward the final hair-raising scene Robert and I scrunched lower and lower in our seats, desperately cramming popcorn in our mouths, as if that would protect us – sort of like holding up a cross. Nobody ever got mangled by a berserk monster while eating popcorn.

When the movie was over we started home, surrounded by an aura of fear. Of course, neither of us would let on. We covered our anxiety by laughing and joking about what we would have done to Boris Karloff if he had come after us in his chunky steel boots. But something…something had changed about the neighborhood. It was getting late, and all those comfortable looking clapboard houses we had passed on the way to the picture show, windows ablaze with good cheer, had suddenly taken on an atmosphere of menace. The windows were now dark, like the hollow eyes of a skull. The houses were black, hulking shapes against the night sky. The shadows between them seemed to reach out to grab us as we passed. We hurried from the dim glow of one street light to another, imagining the gloomy areas of sidewalk to be peopled with unspeakable things that would snatch at our ankles. We were afraid to run. The wind moaned. A cloud passed over the moon. It was a long way home.

Only a sense of humor sustained us. Robert Daly was a joker. He got ahead of me and hid behind a tree. I saw him do it. But I still screamed like a girl when he jumped out right in front of me and yelled, “Boo!”

He laughed until he was too weak to laugh any more, I recovered control of my body functions, and after that we felt a little better. We got a little of our confidence back, and continued on for a block or two, thinking we had shaken our fear. But I was waiting for a chance to get even. I spotted a place where some concrete steps came down to the sidewalk through a wall built up to protect the yard. I ran ahead and hid behind the corner of the wall. When Robert came even with me I leaped out of the shadows and yelled, “Boo!”

Nothing original, and it wasn’t as if he didn’t expect it, having watched me hide. But it worked like a charm anyway. He screamed and jumped like he’d stepped on a snake. I laughed myself sick, and by that time he was laughing too. It seemed ridiculously funny to us that we had come out of that movie so saturated with fear that even when we expected it and saw it coming we were still able to scare the life out of each other.

So, naturally, we kept doing it, all the way home. Frankenstein was one spooky movie, all right, but the trip home on the dark streets of East Jackson was five times as scary.

Continued Next Week.........


A Summer of Living Dangerously - Part 4

Posted by Admin on April 21, 2015 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Miz Stitz and Sonny Dear


Back at the store I explained about the accident (leaving out minor details) and went into the walk-in meat locker to sull and cool off while Uncle Whit refilled Miz Stitz’s order. Five minutes later I walked out of the cooler refreshed and good to go, the sweat on my body having turned into a fine film of frost. I got the Stitz order arranged in the basket and headed back down the hill. I didn’t look at any girls this time. I figured


Miz Stitz was beginning to wonder where her groceries were, so I wasted no time. I worried that Uncle Whit might dock my pay for the spoiled groceries, but he never had before. I only made thirteen dollars a week anyway.


Miz Stitz was not cooking chitlin’s when I knocked, thank goodness. She let me in and smiled when she saw the fat green watermelon. She was not a tiny woman herself. Let me put it this way…if you were the mailman and she came down to mail a letter, while she was standing there you would not be able to see her house.


The living room was not arranged in any logical order, or in any order at all. Stuff was scattered everywhere. There was a baby bed in one corner, the kind with bars, where one side slides up and down. Lying there in the bed was a kid. I thought it was a baby at first, until Miz Stitz shook the bed and said, “Wake up, Sonny dear. Tell Mama what you wants for breffus.”


Breakfast? It was already past noon.


The kid rolled over, yawned and stretched. I asked how old the baby was, and she said, “Six.”


Six? That was the tiniest six-year-old kid I ever saw. He sure didn’t take after his mama. He was so skinny I could see his ribs when he stretched. He was dressed in nothing but an oversized pair of khaki shorts that came down to his ankles. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, in no hurry to be awake.


“Well, tell me, honey,” Miz Stitz repeated. “What you wants for breffus?”


“Beer,” Sonny said lazily, and lay back down.


I waited for the rebuke. There was none. I took the groceries on back to the kitchen to unload and left. As I went out the front door I heard the refrigerator door close in the kitchen.


None of my business, I said to myself as I rode away on my bike. None of my business.

Continued next week......

A Summer of Living Dangerously - Part 3

Posted by Admin on April 7, 2015 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Showing off never worked for me


The next stop I made was up the hill on the other side of the ditch. I left some groceries at an address I can’t remember, turned around and headed back down the hill. The last box of stuff, including watermelon, cokes and eggs, was tagged for the Stitz home.

As I started down the hill I saw two girls coming my way on their bikes. My heart jumped a little, because one of the girls was Linda Burleson, whom I considered to be the prettiest girl in the neighborhood. She lived on Belmont, just a block behind the store. I had about two-thirds of a crush on her, but her daddy was a cop. I was always a little nervous about how to talk to her.

Hey, maybe this was my opportunity to impress her a little. What if I got up some speed and went barreling down the hill like a maniac and blasted right through between the two girls? That oughtta get their attention.

So I did that. Pumping furiously, I bore down upon them like a dive bomber. Their eyes widened as I got closer. Linda’s black pony tail twitched back and forth as she looked nervously from side to side for a ditch to take. The other girl had red hair and eyes as big as saucers. Her name was Brenda Arnold. Just before we collided they hunched their shoulders, closed their eyes and squealed in harmony at the top of their voices. I was Rocket Man, a tornado, a hurricane as I roared past right between them, almost blowing them off their bikes.

It was delicious. I had goose bumps going up and down my back. Did you see the expression on their faces? Sitting straight and proud in the saddle, I was laughing deliriously as I began to lean into the turn onto the street where Miz Stitz lived. A little late I realized that I might have built up a mite too much velocity to be able to comfortably negotiate the ninety degree turn without going off the pavement into the dirt. The dirt in the corner wasn’t dirt. It was sand. Loose sand.

I hit that loose sand with my shirt tail flapping straight out behind me, and buried that little bitty front wheel up to the axle. The effect was immediate and dramatic. The front wheel went no farther, while the rest of the bicycle continued on, as did I… and as did Miz Stitz’s groceries. The back end of the bike whipped around and snapped me over the basket like a hundred pound sack of chicken feed. I landed on my back, sending up a mushroom of dust.

It never works for you, the voice inside my head told me, yet you always go into it believing you can pull it off.

The dust settled, my head cleared and I picked myself up, slapping at my clothes. I threw a sheepish look in the directions of the astonished girls. They were looking at me like, who was that? What was that?

They watched me slop around through the chunks of smashed watermelon picking up scattered bottles of Coke. They watched in fascination as one by one the bottles began to explode in my hand from the terrific heat and the shaking up. I averted my eyes in order to avoid seeing them fall off their bikes laughing.

I worked off my shame and frustration pedaling back up that steep hill to the store. In the July heat I began to forget my embarrassment and started to worry about heat stroke. I wondered if I would ever learn. I should have known better than to try to show off for a girl. It never works out like it’s supposed to. But it did get their attention.

And at least the eggs didn’t break.


A Summer of Living Dangerously - Part 2

Posted by Admin on March 24, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

My first stop was at the twins’ house. The strange thing about them was, they were white ladies. I thought it unusual for them to be living in an all-black neighborhood. I mentioned it to Raymond Trollinger one day, and he laughed and called me a dumb hillbilly.

“Them ladies is albinos, he said.

“What’s a albino?”I asked.

“It means they ain’t really white folks. They’s black.”

“Wait a minute…they’re really black – but they’re white?”

It took a while for me to wrap my mind around that concept, but I figured old Raymond knew his neighborhood.

I put the bike up on its stand in front of the twins’ house, a basic shotgun design, three rooms in a line…living room, bedroom and kitchen all the way in back. I lifted a box of groceries out of the basket, climbed the steps and stood on the narrow front porch, knocking on the much painted and flaking door. From an open window smells were emerging that I identified as some kind of cooking, but whatever it was, it wasn’t something that I ever wanted to eat. I moved to the other side of the door, away from the window, and knocked again.

“Come on in, honey!” someone called from the back of the house. “We back here in the kitchen whuppin’ up a mess of chitlin’s.”

I grew up in the country. I knew what chitlin’s were. I’d heard about all the methods of cleaning them; creek-slung, stump-whupped, or blowed. But even if I could convince myself that the sanitizing process made pig guts fit to eat, I could never get past the smell. Getting sprayed by a skunk right in the face would be like Chanel No. 5 by comparison. The deadly aroma of a snapping turtle, twitching in a pot of boiling water is the only thing I can compare it to.

I waited until a puff of wind cleared the air momentarily, took in a mighty breath and held it as I opened the door. I hurried through the living room, giving a tight nod to the lady who had started for the front door to see who it was. Hurrying past her, I shot her another glance. She sure looked like a white lady to me.

“Go on back and set the groc’ries on the counter, honey,” she told me. I nodded again, wide-eyed, and pushed on through the bedroom to the kitchen. I nudged the door open with my toe and braved it. Even holding my breath I could feel the toxicity of the air. Blue steam rose from a bubbling pot on the stove. Flies, foolish enough to investigate the strange aroma, lay scattered around the counter and floor.

Usually I take the time to unpack the groceries and save the box for the next delivery, but I knew I’d never survive if I tried that this time. My face was already beginning to turn blue. I couldn’t hold my breath much longer. I dumped the groceries, box and all on the counter and beat it out the same way I came in. As I breezed through the living room I spoke to the lady there (boy, she really was white!). “Youcankeeptheboxma-am,” I said in a strained voice, letting out what little wind I had left. I was out the door, off the porch and into healthy air before I took a chance and sucked in a deep, satisfying breath again.



A Summer of Living Dangerously - Part 1

Posted by Admin on March 17, 2015 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)


Delivery boy


I turned fourteen the summer I delivered groceries for my uncle Whit Griffin, who owned a neighborhood grocery store on Lenoir Street in Jackson, Tennessee. Uncle Whit was married to my mother’s sister, Betty Grace. This was in the days when neighborhood stores offered free delivery service to their regular customers.

When I worked there the delivery vehicle was a red Schwinn bicycle with a huge wire basket over the half-size front wheel. The Schwinn was a one-speed, not geared for climbing hills, or switching over for easy pedaling. When that gigantic basket was filled with groceries it took some kind of huffing and puffing just to get the whole load moving. I built up some knotty legs that summer.

Nobody in that neighborhood of East Jackson had more than one car. Most didn’t have any, and the ones who did had them for the husband to drive to work. Housewives were left to run the households without transportation. Grocery deliveries were more of a necessity than a luxury.

Delivery boys from the different stores were always crossing paths. The kid who delivered prescriptions for Hays Avenue Pharmacy was the envy of all. He sizzed around town on one of those small entry level Harley Davidsons they used to make. He never even worked up a sweat, the little punk. I’d see him zoom by trailing a plume of blue smoke and I’d itch to jerk him off that noisy wheel and bust him right in his weasel rat face. Me pumping my guts out in the hot sun, and him sitting up there in the middle of that padded seat not breaking a sweat. Just didn’t seem fair.

One day I had to make a delivery to a section of the neighborhood that smelled perennially of chitlin’s. It was down on First Street in the low swampy ground along the creek.

There was an order from Miz Stitz, and another for two unmarried twin ladies who lived together in a shotgun shack on First. I had a case of bottled Cokes in the bottom of the basket, with a watermelon on top. The groceries, including a dozen eggs, canned stuff, vegetables and meat, were sacked up and put in boxes, one to each customer.

The oversized basket was overloaded when I pushed the bike off its sturdy kickstand. Luckily, First Street was on a slope that fell away behind the store, making it easier for me to get the load underway without too much wobbling. After crossing Belmont I didn’t even have to pedal. Actually, it was necessary to keep light pressure on the brakes to keep from building up too much speed as I coasted down the increasingly steep hill.

My first stop was at the twins’ house.......

Continued next week.......

Big City Job Interview part 3 -The Finale

Posted by Admin on March 10, 2015 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The swinging glass door swished shut behind me and the girl at the receptionists desk looked up. She looked again. What she saw didn’t seem to match some kind of pattern she had in her mind. There I stood, six foot one, a hundred and fifty five pounds, wearing an eighty dollar suit that I had saved up and bought for occasions like this, when I wanted to impress folks. Maybe that suit did look a little like it was hanging from a coat hanger instead of a body, but I thought the store had done a good job of taking up the pants. They’d taken enough slack out of the waist of those pants so that the pockets met in the back. But the salesman had assured me that was the coming style, so I was proud to be standing there, a trend setter.

My skinny red neck poked out of a starched collar two sizes too big, my hair was slicked back with Vitalis, which was running down the side of my head along with the sweat. I had on a pair of borrowed regulation black US Navy shoes that my uncle Ben had worn at Pearl Harbor during World War Two, with white socks, rolled down to the shoe tops, country style. I stood there before that receptionist’s admiring eyes, not surprised at all by her speechlessness. I knew she was probably hesitating while trying to think of some flattering remark to throw me off guard.

Before she got a chance to put in her two cents, I threw out my chest and spoke right up.

“I’d like to see Mister, uh….” I fished the paper out of my pocket again and glanced at it. “Uh, Mister Gordon,” I said. “Mr. Gordon, please.” I thought I sounded awfully professional. Maybe California had brought something out in me.

“Cert – certainly, sir,” the girl stammered, reaching for the phone. I noticed she kept looking at me out of the corner of her eye. Never seen anybody like me before, I realized, reaching to straighten my tie. Why – the dadgum thing had come loose and was hanging off the first button of my coat! Danged bothersome….

“Uh – what’s that, ma’am?”

“I said, who are you with, sir?” the girl asked, holding one hand over the intercom phone.

Now, what kind of question was that? I took a glance behind me, first over one shoulder, then over the other. There was nobody else in the room.

“Why – nobody, ma’am,” I said gently. The poor girl was either seeing things or needed glasses. “I’m by myself, “Ma’am.”

That girl managed to announce me to Mr. Gordon and got me directed through the building to his office, but she sure made a mess of it. She kept choking over her words, like, “Carlos, choke – I’ve got a live one – gasp – I mean…a gentleman out here – gurgle, choke…” and stuff like that. Why, if I’d been the big shot who owned that company I’d of never hired a girl who stuttered to sit at the front desk to answer the phone and meet the public.

“If I get a job here,” I says to myself, “I’ll have to coach this girl how to be more sophisticated.

As I strutted confidently down the hall to my interview, the straw and manure from my shoes blended nicely with the green carpet.

The End.  Come Back Next Week for more.......


Big City Job Interview part 2

Posted by Admin on March 4, 2015 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, never mind that. On that first day of job hunting, me and Bue, we started out downtown at some employment agency on Madison Avenue. The first thing they did was ask us what we thought we could do, then they called around and got us some appointments with companies that they thought we could do it to. The way it worked was, if we made any money we were supposed to split it with the employment agency. That seemed pretty reasonable to a couple of country boys who had no idea how to pick up a phone and make an appointment, especially since we didn’t have any telephone.

We lit out afoot, headed east. We decided that when we’d come to one of the addresses they’d given us we’d both go in. I’d go in with Buford and sit around while he had his interview, and he’d go in with me and sit while I had my interview. The thing is, my first appointment was all the way out on Poplar Avenue, almost to Highland. After we’d walked about five miles Buford had an appointment in another direction, so we went ahead and split up. Looking back, I think Buford just got tired of all the footwork and decided to take in a picture show or spend the rest of the afternoon at the zoo. Neither of us had been paying any attention to the big city buses that swooshed by, or to the signs that said “Bus Stop.” We just kept of hoofing along, minding our own business and allowing those bus drivers to do the same. After Bue dropped off I went on alone. I had an address on a little slip of paper, and I was checking street numbers as I went along. I had a ways to go.

I probably hadn’t walked more than 300 blocks, or maybe ten miles when I noticed the street numbers getting in range of the number I had on the paper. Then, there it was. 3329 Poplar. Simon & Gwynn Advertising, just like it said on the paper. Memphis was a lot bigger than the woods behind my house in five Points, but I had followed the trail to the place I was looking for just from the scribblings the agency lady had put down for me. I was right proud of myself. I took a deep breath, tucked the paper away in a pocket and coasted on in.

The swinging glass door swished shut behind me and the girl at the receptionists desk looked up. She looked again....

to be continued.......