The Picture Shows

It was 50-cents to get in. The additional 50-cents my mom gave me covered the cost of popcorn and a Coke, plus more if I wanted a giant dill pickle.

Williams Theater was an institution in my hometown of Ashdown, Arkansas. Wedged between the store that sold Buster Brown shoes and Piggly Wiggly, generations of residents walked through its doors to enjoy an afternoon or evening away from their cares.

The first girl I ever went steady with, I met there.

The family ...

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The Table of Wisdom

 

The clanking of the plates and silverware was constant. The waitress smiled as she refilled the diner’s coffee cups. She laughed at the old men’s jokes. Jokes she’d heard many times before, but she always laughed. Her laughter made the men feel good, and it didn’t hurt her tips.

The cigarette smoke hovered in a thick haze under the ceiling tiles. After filling and refilling cups, she emptied their ashtrays.

This went on in constant repetition. So reliably that you could exit ...

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A Write of Passage

The invitation came from my buddy, George. He and I go back 30 years. That was one of the main reasons I agreed to speak at his Rotary Club’s luncheon.

Like most of us, my schedule is overextended. I spend far more time with my coworkers and running a business than I do with my family. So, for that reason, when I get an invitation to speak, I’m often unable to accept. But, when George contacted me, it worked out. For ...

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The TV Guide

There were three TV channels when I was a kid. The signals of two of them were reliable. The third was iffy. If there was a storm, CBS probably wasn’t going to have a picture.

Nestled in the southwest corner of Arkansas, my hometown was not near any of the television towers. Radio stations were plentiful, but the closest television stations were in Shreveport. Little Rock and Dallas had stations, but the signals didn’t reach us.

So, we subsisted ...

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Old Man’s Winter

During global warming’s recent vacation to the arctic, record-low temps were set and kids and grownups got a few days off of school and work.

My wife and I have lived in an empty nest for a number of years now, but it was fun seeing pictures and video of our grandchildren on the east coast sliding on their sleds from the top to the bottom of the hill in their front yard, and then trek back up to repeat until ...

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Doobie Brothers Still Rock

 

When I first picked up a guitar in 1970, my fingers didn’t make the sounds I wanted to hear. But I knew that if I kept trying, I could learn to play the songs I heard on the radio.

I was eight.

My teacher’s name was Mike and it was in his room in his parent’s home that I learned the foundations of what makes the guitar an amazing instrument.

At first, it was daunting. I was forming the chords with my left ...

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Andy Griffith

 

I’ve been thinking about Andy Griffith a lot lately. And I have Danny Thomas to thank for it.

I spend a lot of time trolling YouTube – the Internet website that allows anyone from large corporations to the average guy like me to upload videos.

Recently, I came across an Andy Griffith episode I’d never seen. For those of us who grew up watching the goings on of The Andy Griffith Show, finding an episode that we didn’t know existed is comparable ...

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The Axing Price

The stack of split wood lined much of the back wall of the house on Locust Street. That wood burned hot during many 1970s Arkansas winters.

My father would have the wood delivered cut lengthwise, but not split. That’s what I was for.

Each spring and summer, I would head to the backyard, grabbing the single-blade axe, sledgehammer and two steel wedges, and get to work. I was in my teens and could plow through a rick in short order and then ...

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A Tabled Matter

I was supposed to head straight to the store and back. The garage sale sign I saw not long after leaving home altered my trip just a tad.

I steered my Prius left into the housing addition and followed the arrows. I easily spotted the house. One, because it sat at the top of a small hill and two, because there were a lot of vehicles in front of it.

It was actually a moving sale, but I use garage sale as ...

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Christmas Past

The sound of passing cars was constant. The small, rented, pier and beam house sat just a few dozen feet from the highway.

Across the street, a manufacturing plant provided jobs for the locals. They made clothing.

He would sometimes sit on the front porch with his legs dangling over the edge, barefoot and shirtless during the warm months, and watch them come and go. He was free to be outside and enjoy life until shift change at the end of the ...

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