Old Guy New Blog

Life experiences--small and big.

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MY FAILURE AS A COWBOY

The woman was an easterner recently arrived out west because of her husband’s job. Our daughters went to school together and we were just making small talk as parents do when getting to know each other. At one point the conversation turned to jobs we’d had as kids. I mentioned having worked on a ranch while I was in high school. That seemed to interest her. I guess they don’t have a lot of ranches in Connecticut.

Then she looked at me suspiciously, her eyes narrowing. “You don’t look like you worked on a ranch,” she said.

Well, I did. OK, it was only a little ranch and I only worked a couple of summers and I didn’t do any ropin’, ridin’, or branding. Mostly I dug endless fence postholes and kicked endless hay bales out the back of a pickup as it rattled across pastureland. I did see a cattle drive if one counts half a dozen herefords driven up a ramp into a truck on their way to the feedlot.

Anyway the woman’s comment kind of bothered me so I asked Wrangler Dave why she would say such a thing. After all, as I pointed out to him, my jeans were just as dusty as his, my boots just as scuffed. I’m Grade-A western born and bred, says so right on my birth certificate.

He took a deep sigh. With Wrangler Dave, the deeper the sigh, the more thoughtful the comment to come. “It’s them glasses you wear.”

“You telling me there’s no near-sighted cowboys.”

“Not so’s you’d notice.”

I thought to myself that maybe he had a point. John Wayne never wore glasses. Dave also told me I had to work on my “yups” and “nopes” and stop saying “yes” and “no.” And I should sprinkle an occasional “ain’t” in my conversation once in a while.

I told him I just sounded silly saying “ain’t” but he was insistent. So I just let the matter drop. It’s like he’s always maintained that Roy Rodgers’ horse Trigger was smarter than Hopalong Cassidy’s horse Topper. There’s just no reasoning with a man like that.

Wrangler Dave and I took part in one big round-up though it wasn’t cattle. Might have been easier if it had been. There was a park in town with a pond where people liked to feed wild ducks. However a handful of wild geese had muscled in on the action. Wild ducks quack “Please feed me ‘cause I’m cute.” Wild geese honk “Gimmie or I’ll pinch you with my big pointy beak.” Clearly the geese had to go.

Merchants around the pond offered to pay some of the country kids a buck per relocated goose. On the appointed day kids from various farms and ranches and their parents gathered at the pond. We had the kids spread out in a long line. At the signal they moved forward, whooping and waving their arms.

The geese, protesting loudly, gave way slowly. Ahead of the line bigger kids waited with sturdy grain sacks. The trap closed. The air was filled with feathers and the yelps of pinched kids and the honks of ticked-off geese.

The tide of battle swung in favor of the kids. Securely bundled in grain sacks with their heads protruding the furious geese were loaded onto pickups. Then they were driven several miles from town and released unharmed.  Indignantly they waddled away across the open fields.

Wrangler Dave and I high-fived each other. Yippie-hi-yo!

Till next time, Michael out.

Filed under COWBOY wrangler geese small town goose Roy Rogers Hopalong Cassidy Trigger Topper old guy new blog Michael McKeever michael a mckeever old guy new blog

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THE WIT AND WISDOM OF WRANGLER DAVE


Note: the events in this story are true to the best of my knowledge, but are formed of the memories of my childhood, so some details may be different than I remember them.

Other than for reasons of college or employment I’ve never really lived in a big city. At the moment I live in what I suppose one could call a small city although the tallest building in town is only three stories. But I have lived in small towns, the kind of place where nobody cares much who said what on David Letterman last night. But they brag when somebody in the family wins a 4-H red ribbon at the county fair. And when the town fire engine passes in the 4th of July Parade they cheer just as if they’ve never seen it before.

Which brings me to Wrangler Dave who was the head wrangler at a ranch near my house (which is why everyone called him [all together now] Wrangler Dave). When it came to city people he was what you could call prejudiced. He didn’t so much pronounce the words “city people” as much let them fall from his lips to the dust where they wriggled like worms and died. He particularly didn’t like Sunday picnickers whom he placed on the evolutionary scale somewhere between salamanders and sodbusters.

One day I hitched a ride with him in his dusty battered pickup into town. We passed a family pulled over next to a pasture and its wooden fence. They had a couple of small kids: one straddling the fence; the other already over it. Mom was peering at them through a camera.

Dave stopped and rolled down his window. I expected him to bark at them but his voice was surprisingly gentle. “You folks are welcome here,” he said, “but you might want to bring the kids back over to this side of the fence. We got a big ole’ bull who kinda figures that pasture is his.”

The family looked at us with great wide eyes. Dave touched the brim of his hat to them and with a lurch we drove away. “Now Dave,” I said, “you know there’s no bull in that pasture.”

He looked thoughtfully through the windshield. “Ya reckon so?”

“I know so and so do you.”

He looked appropriately remorseful. “I reckon you’re right…suppose we ought a go back an’ tell ‘em?”

I looked through the rear window. The father was yanking the kids back over the fence while his wife watched out for the “bull.”

“Nope,” I said, “It’s too late.” Sometimes I think even the most canny Wall Street banker could learn a thing or two from Wrangler Dave. He was also something of a philosopher. One afternoon I returned from a travel writing assignment to find him sitting on his customary hay bale. He handed me a cold longneck beer bottle.

“Heard tell you went to some big city back east,” he said. “How’d you like it?”

“Didn’t,” I said. “Glad to be back.”

There was a moment’s silence, and then the sound of a couple of beer bottles being opened. Out in a nearby pasture a colt gamboled, kicking up puffs of dust with it hooves. Dave nodded approvingly. “Yep,” he said.

Which about summed it up.

Next time, Wrangler Dave and the Great Goose Roundup. Until then, Michael out.  Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlebooks

Filed under 4-H MCKEEVER MICHAEL A MCKEEVER MICHAEL MCKEEVER OLD GUY NEW BLOG country cowboy oldguynewblog ranch rural small town long-reads

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EEEU! YUCK! LEECHES!

 It was one of the most beautiful shops in Disneyland. Richly burnished inlaid wood gleamed under soft lights. Lovely antiques were tastefully arrayed in glass-fronted cabinets. A magnificent Wedgewood bust of Hippocrates looked down from its shelf. All was grace and elegance. 

And then you saw the leeches. Some guests recoiled at the water-filled bell jar of slippery black creatures. Disney cast members behind the counter grew used to guests making faces and muttering “eeeu” and “yuck” as they peered into the big glass jar. But for others on their way up Disneyland’s Main Street, the UPJOHN PHARMACY leeches were a must-see sight, particularly for small boys. 

There was a good reason for the leeches of course. The Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company had spared no expense to recreate a truly authentic late 19th/early 20th century apothecary. And naturally this included medicinal leeches like those once commonly used to bleed infected patients. 

But also on exhibit were over a thousand priceless medical antiques gathered from all over the world. There was an exquisite porcelain and marble pharmacist’s balance from an 1840 French apothecary. Several finely crafted microscopes were on exhibit, the oldest dating from 1700. Shelves were lined with antique Spanish porcelain jars, their labels announcing their once-upon-a-time contents. 

Much of the stock in the cabinets had been found still in their original 19th century packaging at historic Morgan’s Pharmacy in Philadelphia. Even the leaded glass chandeliers overhead once lit an 1890s Kalamazoo, Michigan pharmacy. Truly the Upjohn people had gone to astonishing lengths in their quest for authenticity. 

Inside, registered pharmacists in period clothing were on duty to answer guests’ questions. Small sample bottles of vitamins were offered gratis to guests and free postcards of the shop were available as well as a booklet on its contents. Today many of those booklets and cards are treasured family mementos of a long-ago day in Disneyland. But it’s not unusual to find them on sale on the internet as Disneyland collectables. 

Today the shop, as elegant as ever, is filled with the quiet ticking of clocks. The UPJOHN PHARMACY has given way to the NEW CENTURY TIME PIECES AND JEWELRY SHOP. Still, every so often, a guest will wander in and look around with a slightly bemused expression. And then they’ll ask whatever happened to the leeches.

The leeches in their jar were removed along with the porcelain apothecary jars and brass-tubed microscopes. They are gone from Disneyland. Maybe. In the 1970s the then-connected Adventureland and Frontierland rivers were drained for routine maintenance. In the riverbeds workmen were astonished to find, along with glasses, cameras, etc. dropped by guests over the years…leeches! 

Some workmen insisted the slimy black creatures in the ooze weren’t really leeches. Instead, they were just slugs. Just…very big slugs. Whatever, I leave you with food for thought (so to speak). The leeches/slugs were removed and the rivers refilled. Still, as you ride the MARK TWAIN or a jungle boat, you might look down at the murky water and…wonder. 

Next time, something different than fond Disneyland memories. The wit and wisdom of Wrangler Dave. Until then, Michael out.

Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore

Filed under 19th century Disney Michael A McKeever Michael McKeever UPJOHN PHARMACY Upjohn Pharmaceutical apothecary bleeding leech old guy new blog oldguynewblog pharmacy long-reads

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Disneyland, Missouri

Another unanswered Disneyland question…one that will probably never be answered because it’s a pretty silly question. But it’s fun to think about. First, a little background. 

It’s a little known fact that deep in the heart of Disneyland rests a small piece of the State of Missouri. To learn how it got there we have to go back to Disneyland’s earliest years. 

In June, 1956 Frontierland’s Tom Sawyer Island welcomed its first guests. Rafts shuttled dignitaries across the Rivers of America for the opening ceremonies. Among those attending were youngsters Chris Winkler and Perva Lou Smith, Hannibal, Missouri’s official Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher for 1956.    

On Tom Sawyer Island the two young people, dressed in period clothing, sprinkled water dipped from the Mississippi River on the ground. Then they read aloud an official proclamation bearing the seal and signature of Missouri Governor Phillip Donnelly. Enacted and approved by the Missouri State Legislature in the state capital of Jefferson City, Missouri, Tom Sawyer Island was henceforth and forever annexed to the State of Missouri! 

The assembled dignitaries chuckled and posed for photographs. Then everyone returned across the Rivers of America to the Plantation House Restaurant for a luncheon of catfish especially flown in from Missouri. 

It is doubtful whether California recognizes Missouri’s “annexation.” But if the matter should ever come up it raises an interesting and still unanswered question. Since one of Frontierland’s most venerable attractions is actually located on Missouri soil, does Disneyland owe several decades of back property taxes to Missouri? 

Next time, Disneyland’s grossest attraction. Until then, Michael out.  

Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore   

Filed under Becky Thatcher Disneyland Michael A McKeever Michael McKeever Missouri Plantation House Rivers of America Tom Sawyer frontierland oldguynewbog raft long-reads

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DISNEYLAND LOSES CAVEMEN

People love Disneyland trivia. Like name the ship in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN attraction. Easy. SEA WITCH. OK, having worked there gives me an unfair advantage. But there are some questions that remain unanswered, that perhaps may never be answered. Like the mystery of the missing cavemen…   

Once, at the dawn of time, there lived a clan of cave people. They were cunning and brave and they hunted great beasts like the mighty mammoth. In fire-lit caves they painted their story on rocky walls. And then they vanished. 

Well, it wasn’t really the dawn of time. It was the 1964 New York World’s Fair. 

One of the hits of that fair was the Ford Motor Company exhibit. Fairgoers waited in long lines to step off a moving ramp into a sleek 1964 Ford convertible. As the car moved along a track its passengers entered a “time tunnel.” Moments later they emerged into a primeval swamp where huge dinosaurs roared and stomped. The ground shook as boiling lava flowed from a volcano. 

The car rounded a curve and uncounted millennia fell away. Now there were prehistoric people. Hunters hauled a fallen mammoth on a sledge. A cave child twisted a pointed stick into a smoldering chunk of wood. 

Another bend and the past was replaced by visions of a shining tomorrow. Finally the car passed through a transparent tunnel into the outside world. In twelve minutes fairgoers journeyed through millions of years. Fifty thousand people a day could take the trip. And for many the dinosaurs and cave people were their first introduction to Disney audioanimatronics.

Other world’s fair exhibits that year relied on Disney audioanimatronics. Dozens of moppets from around the world sang of peace and brotherhood for the United Nations’ UNICEF. Abraham Lincoln took up residence in the Illinois State Pavilion. General Electric told the story of electricity in American homes in six audioanimatronic acts. 

After the fair closed most of the Disney creations found new homes in California’s Disneyland. Mr. Lincoln moved into the Main Street Opera House and the world’s children sing on in Fantasyland’s SMALL WORLD. The brontosaurus endlessly munches his swamp grass in the PRIMEVAL WORLD train tunnel. A revolving theater was built in Tomorrowland for the General Electric exhibit. Eventually the GE audioanimatronic family moved to Florida where today they enjoy an active retirement at Walt Disney World. 

But the cave people never made it. Maybe nobody could think of a place to put them. In any case they are nowhere to be found. 

Today from the hot, dusty plains of Africa to the windswept steppes of Asia anthropologists search for traces of our prehistoric past. But perhaps they are looking in the wrong places. 

Perhaps the answers they seek, the fabled “missing link,” lie in dusty crates in the far corner of some vast Disney warehouse. Maybe near the crates filled with LIGHT MAGIC PARADE leftovers.

Next time another unanswered Disneyland question. Until then, Michael out. 

Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore   

Filed under Abraham Lincoln Disney Disneyland Ford Motor General Electric' Light Magic Parade Michael A McKeever Michael McKeever New York World's Fair Pirates of the Caribbean Sea Witch Small World UNICEF United Nations Walt Disney World cavemen old guy new blog oldguynewblog prehistoric people primeval world long-reads

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ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
SAY GOODBYE
Disneyland is at is 1313 South Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. Just down the road at 1000 South Harbor was the University of California’s Orange County Agricultural Extension building. It was extensive with offices for crop specialists, laboratories, an agricultural library, test kitchen and land where UC scientists grew experimental crops.
That was in the 1970s when Orange County was one of the richest, most productive agricultural areas in the country. The county’s South Coast strawberry fields yielded seven times per acre more than those of the other 49 states. Its lettuce fields were annually harvested five times over. Its fertile lemon groves produced nearly three fourths of the nation’s lemons.
And there were the oranges, tens of thousands of trees, their fruit ripening in a benign climate. During late summer the South Coast was the main Valencia orange supplier for the entire United States.
That was before Orange County was dismembered by rampant development, its rich soil entombed beneath hotels, housing tracts and shopping malls.
The Agricultural Extension Office isn’t there anymore either. Relocated, it is a shadow of what was, tucked away like an afterthought on a back lot at the county fair grounds. True, there is a U.C. field station south of Tustin. But one wonders how long the regents will fund it in these uncertain times.
The cows were first to go. Once there were towns where cows outnumbered people. Dairyland boasted 18 dairies within 1.76 miles. The town seal bore a cow, a chicken and a sprig of wheat. Nearby was Dairy City with its Holsteins grazing in lush pastures. Just across the border in L.A. County, Dairy Valley’s 100,000 cows outnumbered its residents 29 to 1. In 1966, its dairies a fading memory, the town was renamed Cerritos.
Meanwhile in back in Orange County it seemed silly to call a town Dairy City when there were no more dairies so it was renamed Cypress. Nearby Dairyland became La Palma, the “City of Vision.” The University of California reassigned its dairy specialist to Northern California.
In 1979 the University released a bulletin warning “Farm Advisors Threatened with Removal from Orange County.” It pointed out that the U.C. Extension was a bargain for the county with 80% of its cost covered by the federal government and the University. The County Board of Supervisors agreed and the Extension dodged the financial bullet.
Some farmers defied the developers no matter how generous the offer. In 1954 two brothers, Hiroshi and Masao Fujishige, bought 56 acres for $10,000 and began planting strawberries. A short distance away snorting bulldozers leveled 180 acres of orange trees to make room for Disneyland.
That sounds like a lot of trees but at the time, not so very many. Aerial photos show Disneyland as an island in a vast sea of orange trees that seemed to go on forever. But they didn’t of course.
Meanwhile inevitable change surrounded the Fujishige farm. Next door at the WIDE WORLD IN WAX tourists could see waxen figures of Albert Einstein, the Beatles and the Pope. At the far edge of the farm the soft chirping of crickets competed with music from the “La Vida a Go Go” nightclub.
The wax museum and nightclub are long gone. But the Fujishige brothers farmed on. Disney, wanting to expand, offered to buy the land. The brothers refused. In 1994 Disney offered to lease it for 32 million dollars. The brothers said no. They just liked being farmers. A decade later, with one brother dead and the second in a coma after an accident, the family gave in. Of the original 56 acres, Disney purchased 52.5 for 99.9 million dollars. In 2009 the Fujishige brother’s farm harvested its last strawberries.
But there were still the endless orange groves. “The Orange,” observed California writer Charles Lummis, “is not just a fruit, but a romance.” In 1872 developer W.T. Glassell decorated the front of his sales office in Richland with orange tree saplings. Not long afterward Richland was renamed Orange.
It was a good sales gimmick. In 1921 the County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Orange County “The land of the orange blossom.” By 1938 there were 67,536 acres of groves. There were so many orange trees that nobody noticed when they started to disappear. But they were. In 1963 28,000 acres remained. In 1968, 21,209 acres. By 1974 the number had fallen to 12,644. Today there are perhaps 80 acres left, scattered in small groves here and there.
Which brings us to five acres of scraggly untended orange trees that survive primarily because they refuse to die. The little grove is in a corner of Santa Ana, a community that is already 98% developed. Though neither watered nor pruned the trees persist in producing big round Valencia oranges. The current owners refuse to allow anyone to harvest them so they simply fall from the trees and rot.
For ninety years they were the pride and joy of the Sexlinger family. There were well over 200 trees in the grove then and a farmhouse. The house, still standing, is weather-beaten. But it was a home once where generations of Sexlinger children sat around the kitchen table doing their homework amid the smell of freshly baked bread.
In 2006 the last Sexlinger, Martha, passed away. In a well-meaning bequest she left the land to Concordia University. Today it is in the crosshairs of a developer who intends to clear the property and put up 24 townhouses.  
That would be immensely sad. No, it is not a place where a great battle was fought or an historical figure lived. It’s just a farmhouse and some scraggly trees. But it is probably the last family orange grove left from a time when Orange County deserved its name.
The development company, to their credit, is aware of the heritage it represents. In their environmental report they promise to set up a “commemorative interpretive sign.” They say the sign “will include photographic display of the farmhouse and verbiage describing the history of the Sexlinger farm and the significance of the citrus industry to the region.” They even offer to let the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society salvage “potential artifacts” from the farmhouse before it is reduced to kindling.
But a gutsy little band called the SAVE OUR ORCHARD COALITION has a better idea. Instead, with Santa Ana’s and/or Orange County’s blessing, preserve the farm as the “Sexlinger Center for Urban Agriculture.” Make it a place where school children can pluck an orange from a tree with its leaves still wet with dew. Let them scatter feed to chickens in a real farmyard. Plant community gardens where both children and adults can feel the soil crumble through their fingers.        
Maybe find an old tractor and start it up once in a while. The vast majority of Orange County children have never heard a tractor in their lives. Maybe they ought to. And maybe, on orange blossom scented evenings families could bring folding chairs and watch movies outdoors.
Yes, argues the Coalition, the Center could be financially self-sustaining as nonprofit through membership donations, admissions, special fee events. They bubble over with ideas like eco labs with outdoor learning stations and workshops. Look them up on facebook (SAVE THE SEXLINGER ORANGE ORCHARD). Or just Google SEXLINGER FARM.
But hurry. In late January, 2012 each side will plead its case in the quiet wood-paneled precincts of a government hearing. Should the vote favor the developer bulldozers will cough a cloud of bluish exhaust and shove aside the last little family grove in Orange County. And you won’t even have had time to say goodbye.
 Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore

ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

SAY GOODBYE

Disneyland is at is 1313 South Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. Just down the road at 1000 South Harbor was the University of California’s Orange County Agricultural Extension building. It was extensive with offices for crop specialists, laboratories, an agricultural library, test kitchen and land where UC scientists grew experimental crops.

That was in the 1970s when Orange County was one of the richest, most productive agricultural areas in the country. The county’s South Coast strawberry fields yielded seven times per acre more than those of the other 49 states. Its lettuce fields were annually harvested five times over. Its fertile lemon groves produced nearly three fourths of the nation’s lemons.

And there were the oranges, tens of thousands of trees, their fruit ripening in a benign climate. During late summer the South Coast was the main Valencia orange supplier for the entire United States.

That was before Orange County was dismembered by rampant development, its rich soil entombed beneath hotels, housing tracts and shopping malls.

The Agricultural Extension Office isn’t there anymore either. Relocated, it is a shadow of what was, tucked away like an afterthought on a back lot at the county fair grounds. True, there is a U.C. field station south of Tustin. But one wonders how long the regents will fund it in these uncertain times.

The cows were first to go. Once there were towns where cows outnumbered people. Dairyland boasted 18 dairies within 1.76 miles. The town seal bore a cow, a chicken and a sprig of wheat. Nearby was Dairy City with its Holsteins grazing in lush pastures. Just across the border in L.A. County, Dairy Valley’s 100,000 cows outnumbered its residents 29 to 1. In 1966, its dairies a fading memory, the town was renamed Cerritos.

Meanwhile in back in Orange County it seemed silly to call a town Dairy City when there were no more dairies so it was renamed Cypress. Nearby Dairyland became La Palma, the “City of Vision.” The University of California reassigned its dairy specialist to Northern California.

In 1979 the University released a bulletin warning “Farm Advisors Threatened with Removal from Orange County.” It pointed out that the U.C. Extension was a bargain for the county with 80% of its cost covered by the federal government and the University. The County Board of Supervisors agreed and the Extension dodged the financial bullet.

Some farmers defied the developers no matter how generous the offer. In 1954 two brothers, Hiroshi and Masao Fujishige, bought 56 acres for $10,000 and began planting strawberries. A short distance away snorting bulldozers leveled 180 acres of orange trees to make room for Disneyland.

That sounds like a lot of trees but at the time, not so very many. Aerial photos show Disneyland as an island in a vast sea of orange trees that seemed to go on forever. But they didn’t of course.

Meanwhile inevitable change surrounded the Fujishige farm. Next door at the WIDE WORLD IN WAX tourists could see waxen figures of Albert Einstein, the Beatles and the Pope. At the far edge of the farm the soft chirping of crickets competed with music from the “La Vida a Go Go” nightclub.

The wax museum and nightclub are long gone. But the Fujishige brothers farmed on. Disney, wanting to expand, offered to buy the land. The brothers refused. In 1994 Disney offered to lease it for 32 million dollars. The brothers said no. They just liked being farmers. A decade later, with one brother dead and the second in a coma after an accident, the family gave in. Of the original 56 acres, Disney purchased 52.5 for 99.9 million dollars. In 2009 the Fujishige brother’s farm harvested its last strawberries.

But there were still the endless orange groves. “The Orange,” observed California writer Charles Lummis, “is not just a fruit, but a romance.” In 1872 developer W.T. Glassell decorated the front of his sales office in Richland with orange tree saplings. Not long afterward Richland was renamed Orange.

It was a good sales gimmick. In 1921 the County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Orange County “The land of the orange blossom.” By 1938 there were 67,536 acres of groves. There were so many orange trees that nobody noticed when they started to disappear. But they were. In 1963 28,000 acres remained. In 1968, 21,209 acres. By 1974 the number had fallen to 12,644. Today there are perhaps 80 acres left, scattered in small groves here and there.

Which brings us to five acres of scraggly untended orange trees that survive primarily because they refuse to die. The little grove is in a corner of Santa Ana, a community that is already 98% developed. Though neither watered nor pruned the trees persist in producing big round Valencia oranges. The current owners refuse to allow anyone to harvest them so they simply fall from the trees and rot.

For ninety years they were the pride and joy of the Sexlinger family. There were well over 200 trees in the grove then and a farmhouse. The house, still standing, is weather-beaten. But it was a home once where generations of Sexlinger children sat around the kitchen table doing their homework amid the smell of freshly baked bread.

In 2006 the last Sexlinger, Martha, passed away. In a well-meaning bequest she left the land to Concordia University. Today it is in the crosshairs of a developer who intends to clear the property and put up 24 townhouses.  

That would be immensely sad. No, it is not a place where a great battle was fought or an historical figure lived. It’s just a farmhouse and some scraggly trees. But it is probably the last family orange grove left from a time when Orange County deserved its name.

The development company, to their credit, is aware of the heritage it represents. In their environmental report they promise to set up a “commemorative interpretive sign.” They say the sign “will include photographic display of the farmhouse and verbiage describing the history of the Sexlinger farm and the significance of the citrus industry to the region.” They even offer to let the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society salvage “potential artifacts” from the farmhouse before it is reduced to kindling.

But a gutsy little band called the SAVE OUR ORCHARD COALITION has a better idea. Instead, with Santa Ana’s and/or Orange County’s blessing, preserve the farm as the “Sexlinger Center for Urban Agriculture.” Make it a place where school children can pluck an orange from a tree with its leaves still wet with dew. Let them scatter feed to chickens in a real farmyard. Plant community gardens where both children and adults can feel the soil crumble through their fingers.        

Maybe find an old tractor and start it up once in a while. The vast majority of Orange County children have never heard a tractor in their lives. Maybe they ought to. And maybe, on orange blossom scented evenings families could bring folding chairs and watch movies outdoors.

Yes, argues the Coalition, the Center could be financially self-sustaining as nonprofit through membership donations, admissions, special fee events. They bubble over with ideas like eco labs with outdoor learning stations and workshops. Look them up on facebook (SAVE THE SEXLINGER ORANGE ORCHARD). Or just Google SEXLINGER FARM.

But hurry. In late January, 2012 each side will plead its case in the quiet wood-paneled precincts of a government hearing. Should the vote favor the developer bulldozers will cough a cloud of bluish exhaust and shove aside the last little family grove in Orange County. And you won’t even have had time to say goodbye.

 Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore

Filed under Ag Extension Anaheim California Cerritos Cypress Dairy City Dairy Valley Dairyland Disney Fujishige Glassell La Palma Lummis Michael A McKeever Michael McKeever Orange County Board of Supervisors Orange County California Richland Santa Ana Save Our Orchard Sexlinger Tustin UC System agriculture chicken cow development farming oldguynewblog orange

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                 Disneyland Parades Two: Gone With the Wind
The queen of all parades, Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade’s very name evokes grace and pageantry. In 1973’s Rose Parade the lead float honored the Walt Disney Company’s 50th anniversary. Around the float marched several of Disneyland’s most beloved costumed characters. But this in itself presented a problem, namely the length of the parade route.
The Disneyland parade route from the Small World gates to the gates next to Main Streets Opera House is about a mile. But the Rose Parade’s route is five miles long which a long way to march in a heavy Brer Bear or Fantasia hippo costume. Clearly the only solution was to split the distance between duplicate Disney characters. Midway on the route the entire Rose Parade would halt and one Disney unit would march off while a duplicate unit marched on.
Carry it off and the public would never know. But miss up and floats could bang into each other, spooked horses rear, brass bands drop their instruments and we would never hear the end of it. In other words the maneuver had to be flawless in execution and precisely timed down to the minute.      
And it was. Halfway down the route the entire Rose Parade abruptly stopped. Viewers watched in amazement as right in front of them the Disney unit came apart. Floats and musicians stood in place while dozens of Disney characters turned sharply left and off the street. At the same time dozens of other characters marched out from where they had been hidden in a neighborhood preschool.
For a brief moment the two units meshed like a deck of cards being shuffled. Then the second unit moved into place and the parade resumed. Disaster had been averted. But back at Disneyland a new disaster awaited.
We had worked all night and some of us much of the previous day. Back at the Park, numb with exhaustion, we stumbled off the buses like zombies. Backstage waited “Tent City,” a collection of huge military-style canvas tents. Olive drab and floored with sheets of plywood they were dead ringers for the tents in the MASH television show. And at the moment they were filled with props, costumes, etc. for Disneyland’s twice-a-day holiday Fantasy on Parade. Or rather, they had been. For while we had been in Pasadena Southern California’s notorious Santa Ana winds had struck.
The tent with the props leaned drunkenly on whatever poles had not come down. But the main tent had collapsed, burying the Fantasy on Parade costumes, makeup and wig counters, etc. under hundreds of pounds of canvas!
But Disneyland certainly couldn’t be cancel the parade. Already crowds were gathering along the route, staking out the best vantage points. We couldn’t disappoint them. After all, as the saying goes, “The show must go on!”
Slowly the canvas was peeled back and the parade assembled. Since it was New Year’s Day the backstage staff shops were either closed or manned by skeleton crews. So we improvised. Some of the dwarf costume (Them again!) heads were missing patches of white paint from their beards. With barely half an hour to spare I ran into the main wardrobe office and grabbed all the white shoe polish I could find. (The next day craftsmen at the Staff Shop removed my “repair” and redid it properly.)
 At two o’clock sharp Fantasy on Parade stepped off with Mickey and Minnie and the tin soldier band and dancing snowmen (and snow ladies) and all the rest. Santa rode the last float, his bright red coat replaced by a casual lounging jacket as he relaxed from his holiday labors. I watched him move out through the gates. And then I went home and fell into a deep sleep.   
 Postscript: Construction began soon after on the vast complex of sturdy metal buildings that today houses Disneyland parade floats, etc. In fact they were ready for the second season of the Main Street Electrical Parade the following June. The iconic Blue Fairy float rolled through the new building’s huge double doors and Tent City passed into unlamented memory.
So until my next blog…Michael out.
Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore  

                 Disneyland Parades Two: Gone With the Wind

The queen of all parades, Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade’s very name evokes grace and pageantry. In 1973’s Rose Parade the lead float honored the Walt Disney Company’s 50th anniversary. Around the float marched several of Disneyland’s most beloved costumed characters. But this in itself presented a problem, namely the length of the parade route.

The Disneyland parade route from the Small World gates to the gates next to Main Streets Opera House is about a mile. But the Rose Parade’s route is five miles long which a long way to march in a heavy Brer Bear or Fantasia hippo costume. Clearly the only solution was to split the distance between duplicate Disney characters. Midway on the route the entire Rose Parade would halt and one Disney unit would march off while a duplicate unit marched on.

Carry it off and the public would never know. But miss up and floats could bang into each other, spooked horses rear, brass bands drop their instruments and we would never hear the end of it. In other words the maneuver had to be flawless in execution and precisely timed down to the minute.      

And it was. Halfway down the route the entire Rose Parade abruptly stopped. Viewers watched in amazement as right in front of them the Disney unit came apart. Floats and musicians stood in place while dozens of Disney characters turned sharply left and off the street. At the same time dozens of other characters marched out from where they had been hidden in a neighborhood preschool.

For a brief moment the two units meshed like a deck of cards being shuffled. Then the second unit moved into place and the parade resumed. Disaster had been averted. But back at Disneyland a new disaster awaited.

We had worked all night and some of us much of the previous day. Back at the Park, numb with exhaustion, we stumbled off the buses like zombies. Backstage waited “Tent City,” a collection of huge military-style canvas tents. Olive drab and floored with sheets of plywood they were dead ringers for the tents in the MASH television show. And at the moment they were filled with props, costumes, etc. for Disneyland’s twice-a-day holiday Fantasy on Parade. Or rather, they had been. For while we had been in Pasadena Southern California’s notorious Santa Ana winds had struck.

The tent with the props leaned drunkenly on whatever poles had not come down. But the main tent had collapsed, burying the Fantasy on Parade costumes, makeup and wig counters, etc. under hundreds of pounds of canvas!

But Disneyland certainly couldn’t be cancel the parade. Already crowds were gathering along the route, staking out the best vantage points. We couldn’t disappoint them. After all, as the saying goes, “The show must go on!”

Slowly the canvas was peeled back and the parade assembled. Since it was New Year’s Day the backstage staff shops were either closed or manned by skeleton crews. So we improvised. Some of the dwarf costume (Them again!) heads were missing patches of white paint from their beards. With barely half an hour to spare I ran into the main wardrobe office and grabbed all the white shoe polish I could find. (The next day craftsmen at the Staff Shop removed my “repair” and redid it properly.)

 At two o’clock sharp Fantasy on Parade stepped off with Mickey and Minnie and the tin soldier band and dancing snowmen (and snow ladies) and all the rest. Santa rode the last float, his bright red coat replaced by a casual lounging jacket as he relaxed from his holiday labors. I watched him move out through the gates. And then I went home and fell into a deep sleep.  

 Postscript: Construction began soon after on the vast complex of sturdy metal buildings that today houses Disneyland parade floats, etc. In fact they were ready for the second season of the Main Street Electrical Parade the following June. The iconic Blue Fairy float rolled through the new building’s huge double doors and Tent City passed into unlamented memory.

So until my next blog…Michael out.

Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore  

Filed under Blue Fairy Christmas at Disneyland Disney Fantasia Fantasy on Parade Michael A Mckeever Michael Mckeever Pasadena Rose Parade Small World Tournament of Roses floats holiday old guy new blog oldguynewblog long-reads

2 notes

Since I worked at Disney for so many years, I thought it might be fun to write about some of my experiences. It’s something people have frequently asked me about, so I hope I’m not alone in finding them entertaining.
For today, it’s:
            
                         Disney Parades One: Flying Dwarf Hands
I knew the parade was in trouble when the kids started wandering away. Behind them Light Magic, Disneyland’s most spectacular parade yet, rolled down Main Street. The technology was state-of-the-art fiber optics and lasers. Celtic music blasted from huge floats like Riverdance on steroids. Tiny squares of silvery paper fluttered through the air leaving their magic everywhere, undoubtedly to the joy of the Park’s cleaning crew. It was May 21, 1997.
            Every so often the parade ground to a halt. Dozens of bizarre-looking “pixies” jumped off the floats and began dancing frenetically. Soon they were joined by Disney characters dressed for some reason in pajamas. After several boisterous minutes everyone got back on the float which then rumbled down the street.
            The kids seated along the curb greeted the first float with startled but interested looks. But when the second, which looked pretty much like the first, stopped to disgorge more frenzied pixies they began fidgeting. They watched the third with glazed-over eyes. By number four they had wandered away to look in the store windows. (Even more bored were the poor souls seated where the floats did not stop leaving them nothing to watch.)            
Disneyland executives did their best to put a positive spin on it. DL President Paul Pressler proudly posed amid smiling children in Light Magic tee-shirts. At a post-parade press conference DL Entertainment VP Michael Davis reminded the media (of which I was one) to “remember, at first the critics didn’t like the Electrical Parade either.” Meanwhile Light Magic stumbled through the rest of the summer then mercifully vanished, never to be seen again.
In any case I disagree with Mr. Davis about the critic’s reaction to the Main Street Electrical’s summer of 1972 debut. I was there, as a Disneyland Wardrobe Department character specialist assigned to the parade. Like everyone else who worked on it I was enormously proud of its then cutting-edge technology. We hoped both the critics and the anxiously awaiting crowds would like it. They did, both the crowds and the critics.   
The Los Angeles Times “loved it,” calling it “brilliant in every sense of the word!” Variety pronounced it “a charming procession of lighted fantasy.” The Hollywood Reporter Hollywood reporter found the Electric Parade “exciting, colorful, dazzling.” It was, as one newspaper headline proclaimed, “A Smashing Success!”
True, that first electrical parade was in places somewhat more primitive than the ones that followed over the years. Some of the floats were simple black metal frames festooned with twinkling lights. When the DL Publicity wanted an 8”x10” B/W glossy photo for advance publication only part of the parade existed. But one very dark night, a Casey Jr. locomotive and two frame floats, Cinderella’s Carriage and the D (for Disneyland) Banner, were rolled out onto a backstage parking lot.
Mickey Mouse climbed into Casey’s cab and two Cinderella dancers (the girl was actually a Park secretary because there were no dancers yet) posed nervously by the “carriage.” The lights were switched on, the photos were taken and sent off to waiting newspapers.
As primitive as some of the early floats were; others are still fondly remembered. One of the highlights of the latest parade is the large green-lit dragon “Elliot” from the movie Pete’s Dragon. To me the dragon with its goofy grin looks kind of wimpy. But then I remember the parade’s first dragon a fearsome beast that wound sinuously down the street hissing smoke at parade watchers.        
There were glitches of course. The battery packs and connecting wires that lit the thousands of tiny lights on the costumes and floats overheated. Float drivers had trouble navigating Disneyland’s Main Street horse car rails in the darkness. And there was the matter of the Seven Dwarf’s lanterns.
In the first electrical parades the dwarfs simply walked down the street waving to people. But then it was decided that being miners, they ought to carry mining lanterns. In due course miners’ lanterns arrived. Real ones, sturdily built and heavy.
Of course the dwarfs couldn’t actually carry the lanterns with their rubbery  sausage-like “fingers.” Handles, hidden by the costume’s sleeves, protruded from the “hands” which the person in the costume grasped. The problem was solved by stitching two of the fingers around the lantern’s handle. However the lanterns were so heavy that sometimes the stitches would break and the lantern would fall with a loud clunk. Annoying but not a real problem.
But then came the Night of the Flying Dwarf Hand! The parade had circled Main Street’s town square and was headed toward the backstage gates. I was walking along side the dwarfs checking something or other. Suddenly one gave an enthusiastic goodbye wave during which he accidentally let go of his “hand.” The hand, with the lantern still attached, landed at the feet of some startled (and probably horrified) parade watchers.
I rushed over and snatched it up. At the same time a teenage boy darted out of the crowd with the idea of getting the coolest Disneyland souvenir ever! I wouldn’t let go and neither would he. Fortunately the cavalry came to my rescue in the form of a parade aide followed by a security officer. The teenager, deciding that discretion was the better form of valor, disappeared back into the crowd.
Hiding the hand/lantern beneath my jacket and hunched over like Quasimodo, I rushed backstage. Eventually the problem was solved when the artisans at the Park’s  backstage Staff Shop created functional yet lightweight lanterns.
—Part Two will be up soon!—
Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore

Since I worked at Disney for so many years, I thought it might be fun to write about some of my experiences. It’s something people have frequently asked me about, so I hope I’m not alone in finding them entertaining.

For today, it’s:

           

                         Disney Parades One: Flying Dwarf Hands

I knew the parade was in trouble when the kids started wandering away. Behind them Light Magic, Disneyland’s most spectacular parade yet, rolled down Main Street. The technology was state-of-the-art fiber optics and lasers. Celtic music blasted from huge floats like Riverdance on steroids. Tiny squares of silvery paper fluttered through the air leaving their magic everywhere, undoubtedly to the joy of the Park’s cleaning crew. It was May 21, 1997.

            Every so often the parade ground to a halt. Dozens of bizarre-looking “pixies” jumped off the floats and began dancing frenetically. Soon they were joined by Disney characters dressed for some reason in pajamas. After several boisterous minutes everyone got back on the float which then rumbled down the street.

            The kids seated along the curb greeted the first float with startled but interested looks. But when the second, which looked pretty much like the first, stopped to disgorge more frenzied pixies they began fidgeting. They watched the third with glazed-over eyes. By number four they had wandered away to look in the store windows. (Even more bored were the poor souls seated where the floats did not stop leaving them nothing to watch.)            

Disneyland executives did their best to put a positive spin on it. DL President Paul Pressler proudly posed amid smiling children in Light Magic tee-shirts. At a post-parade press conference DL Entertainment VP Michael Davis reminded the media (of which I was one) to “remember, at first the critics didn’t like the Electrical Parade either.” Meanwhile Light Magic stumbled through the rest of the summer then mercifully vanished, never to be seen again.

In any case I disagree with Mr. Davis about the critic’s reaction to the Main Street Electrical’s summer of 1972 debut. I was there, as a Disneyland Wardrobe Department character specialist assigned to the parade. Like everyone else who worked on it I was enormously proud of its then cutting-edge technology. We hoped both the critics and the anxiously awaiting crowds would like it. They did, both the crowds and the critics.   

The Los Angeles Times “loved it,” calling it “brilliant in every sense of the word!” Variety pronounced it “a charming procession of lighted fantasy.” The Hollywood Reporter Hollywood reporter found the Electric Parade “exciting, colorful, dazzling.” It was, as one newspaper headline proclaimed, “A Smashing Success!”

True, that first electrical parade was in places somewhat more primitive than the ones that followed over the years. Some of the floats were simple black metal frames festooned with twinkling lights. When the DL Publicity wanted an 8”x10” B/W glossy photo for advance publication only part of the parade existed. But one very dark night, a Casey Jr. locomotive and two frame floats, Cinderella’s Carriage and the D (for Disneyland) Banner, were rolled out onto a backstage parking lot.

Mickey Mouse climbed into Casey’s cab and two Cinderella dancers (the girl was actually a Park secretary because there were no dancers yet) posed nervously by the “carriage.” The lights were switched on, the photos were taken and sent off to waiting newspapers.

As primitive as some of the early floats were; others are still fondly remembered. One of the highlights of the latest parade is the large green-lit dragon “Elliot” from the movie Pete’s Dragon. To me the dragon with its goofy grin looks kind of wimpy. But then I remember the parade’s first dragon a fearsome beast that wound sinuously down the street hissing smoke at parade watchers.        

There were glitches of course. The battery packs and connecting wires that lit the thousands of tiny lights on the costumes and floats overheated. Float drivers had trouble navigating Disneyland’s Main Street horse car rails in the darkness. And there was the matter of the Seven Dwarf’s lanterns.

In the first electrical parades the dwarfs simply walked down the street waving to people. But then it was decided that being miners, they ought to carry mining lanterns. In due course miners’ lanterns arrived. Real ones, sturdily built and heavy.

Of course the dwarfs couldn’t actually carry the lanterns with their rubbery  sausage-like “fingers.” Handles, hidden by the costume’s sleeves, protruded from the “hands” which the person in the costume grasped. The problem was solved by stitching two of the fingers around the lantern’s handle. However the lanterns were so heavy that sometimes the stitches would break and the lantern would fall with a loud clunk. Annoying but not a real problem.

But then came the Night of the Flying Dwarf Hand! The parade had circled Main Street’s town square and was headed toward the backstage gates. I was walking along side the dwarfs checking something or other. Suddenly one gave an enthusiastic goodbye wave during which he accidentally let go of his “hand.” The hand, with the lantern still attached, landed at the feet of some startled (and probably horrified) parade watchers.

I rushed over and snatched it up. At the same time a teenage boy darted out of the crowd with the idea of getting the coolest Disneyland souvenir ever! I wouldn’t let go and neither would he. Fortunately the cavalry came to my rescue in the form of a parade aide followed by a security officer. The teenager, deciding that discretion was the better form of valor, disappeared back into the crowd.

Hiding the hand/lantern beneath my jacket and hunched over like Quasimodo, I rushed backstage. Eventually the problem was solved when the artisans at the Park’s  backstage Staff Shop created functional yet lightweight lanterns.

—Part Two will be up soon!—

Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore

Filed under Michael A McKeever Michael Mckeever disney disney world disneyland donald duck electric parade goofy magic magic kingdom mickey mouse old guy new blog oldguynewblog pixie theme park travel walt disney long-reads

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                                                              FLOATERS
The other day at our local library I was looking at the DVD floaters on the shelves. It’s amazing what you can learn about your fellow citizens by looking at the floaters.
            “Floater” is library slang for books, DVDs, and whatever else that has been requested from another neighborhood branch. For example, you request an obscure book like Founding Fathers’ Favorite Foods (say that three times fast) from your local branch. It arrives, you check it out, read it and return it. But FFFF is not returned to the library from whence it came. Instead it is placed in your library’s collection until someone else, someplace else, requests it.
            In other words FFFF, plucked off its original shelf by someone’s request, is now doomed to “float” through the library system without a permanent home. Think of poor Charley on the M. T. A. (ah, the Kingston Trio, remember them?): “He never returned, no, he never returned and his fate is still unlearned.”
            Consequently, should you come across something especially exotic or esoteric resting on the shelves, the chances are pretty good it was ordered by someone in your community.
            The town I live in is not unlike countless other American towns: smallish, quiet, bisected by a river trudging through on its way to the sea. Nightlife is nil; you have to go to the next town over to find a movie theater. When you see someone in a suit he’s probably either an insurance salesman or returning from a funeral.
            Yet, looking at the floating DVDs in our library which is housed in a rented storefront, I find myself continually surprised at how diverse and downright exotic the community I live in really is.
Last time I checked, there were three or four Bollywood movies, requested, perhaps, by someone homesick for Mother India. Sometimes there are movies with actors speaking Vietnamese, Tagalog or Cantonese. There are several Japanese anime DVDS with characters with impossibly big eyes who yell a lot. The Middle East is in constant turmoil, yet films in both Arabic and Hebrew share the same shelf in a sort of floater entente cordiale.
But then another mystery arises: where are the people who ordered all these floaters? Surely they must stand out. However, I have yet to see anyone in town wearing a turban, or sari, or kimono.
As a matter of fact, we all pretty much dress alike: jeans and shirts, mostly (both genders). And we all do pretty much the same things: join the P.T.A., shop at Walmart, fish in our muddy little river. The ones who order the floaters must be clever foreigners, disguising themselves as average Americans in countless other American towns. Or maybe that’s just what they are—American, same as you or me. After all, every American family (unless you’re Native American or as our Canadian cousins call them, First Nations) originated somewhere else, some just not as long ago as others.  
Meanwhile the town I live in is changing, whether for good or worse depends on whom you ask. I can see those changes by looking at the library’s selection of magazines, which are generally chosen by local librarians who know their patrons’ preferences. A library by the seashore is bound to carry surfing and/or yachting magazines, for example. Our library still carries a few guilty pleasures like People and Cosmopolitan, but its readership has grown more sophisticated in their tastes, as evidenced by the growing popularity of magazines like Atlantic and The Economist. Interest has increased in business and financial magazines as well.
 Meanwhile our local 4H Club still holds meetings, but you don’t see real cowboys in battered pickup trucks in town much anymore. And magazines like Horse & Rider and Farm & Ranch Living long ago vanished from the library’s shelves. Like I said, change is coming to our town, regardless of whether people think change is good.
If you’re also curious and want a quick insight into the sort of area you live in, stop by your local library and check out the DVD floaters and magazine titles. You might be surprised by what you learn about your town.
So, until my next blog….
Michael out.
Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore

                                                              FLOATERS

The other day at our local library I was looking at the DVD floaters on the shelves. It’s amazing what you can learn about your fellow citizens by looking at the floaters.

            “Floater” is library slang for books, DVDs, and whatever else that has been requested from another neighborhood branch. For example, you request an obscure book like Founding Fathers’ Favorite Foods (say that three times fast) from your local branch. It arrives, you check it out, read it and return it. But FFFF is not returned to the library from whence it came. Instead it is placed in your library’s collection until someone else, someplace else, requests it.

            In other words FFFF, plucked off its original shelf by someone’s request, is now doomed to “float” through the library system without a permanent home. Think of poor Charley on the M. T. A. (ah, the Kingston Trio, remember them?): “He never returned, no, he never returned and his fate is still unlearned.”

            Consequently, should you come across something especially exotic or esoteric resting on the shelves, the chances are pretty good it was ordered by someone in your community.

            The town I live in is not unlike countless other American towns: smallish, quiet, bisected by a river trudging through on its way to the sea. Nightlife is nil; you have to go to the next town over to find a movie theater. When you see someone in a suit he’s probably either an insurance salesman or returning from a funeral.

            Yet, looking at the floating DVDs in our library which is housed in a rented storefront, I find myself continually surprised at how diverse and downright exotic the community I live in really is.

Last time I checked, there were three or four Bollywood movies, requested, perhaps, by someone homesick for Mother India. Sometimes there are movies with actors speaking Vietnamese, Tagalog or Cantonese. There are several Japanese anime DVDS with characters with impossibly big eyes who yell a lot. The Middle East is in constant turmoil, yet films in both Arabic and Hebrew share the same shelf in a sort of floater entente cordiale.

But then another mystery arises: where are the people who ordered all these floaters? Surely they must stand out. However, I have yet to see anyone in town wearing a turban, or sari, or kimono.

As a matter of fact, we all pretty much dress alike: jeans and shirts, mostly (both genders). And we all do pretty much the same things: join the P.T.A., shop at Walmart, fish in our muddy little river. The ones who order the floaters must be clever foreigners, disguising themselves as average Americans in countless other American towns. Or maybe that’s just what they are—American, same as you or me. After all, every American family (unless you’re Native American or as our Canadian cousins call them, First Nations) originated somewhere else, some just not as long ago as others. 

Meanwhile the town I live in is changing, whether for good or worse depends on whom you ask. I can see those changes by looking at the library’s selection of magazines, which are generally chosen by local librarians who know their patrons’ preferences. A library by the seashore is bound to carry surfing and/or yachting magazines, for example. Our library still carries a few guilty pleasures like People and Cosmopolitan, but its readership has grown more sophisticated in their tastes, as evidenced by the growing popularity of magazines like Atlantic and The Economist. Interest has increased in business and financial magazines as well.

 Meanwhile our local 4H Club still holds meetings, but you don’t see real cowboys in battered pickup trucks in town much anymore. And magazines like Horse & Rider and Farm & Ranch Living long ago vanished from the library’s shelves. Like I said, change is coming to our town, regardless of whether people think change is good.

If you’re also curious and want a quick insight into the sort of area you live in, stop by your local library and check out the DVD floaters and magazine titles. You might be surprised by what you learn about your town.

So, until my next blog….

Michael out.

Additional books and short stories by Michael A. McKeever can be found on Amazon.com/Kindlestore

Filed under Michael A Mckeever Michael McKeever culture expanding borders floater library life old guy new blog oldguynewblog personal blog small town living travel writing world writer life long-reads