Monday, April 06, 2009


I retired in 1964 after about 34 years of service with Uncle Sam. I thought that was about the only job I really had. But, the other day while playing cards, we got to talking about jobs. Who started working the earliest, who worked longer, etc. You know, the kind of stuff old people talk about. So, as best I remember, here it is: My very first job was not really a job in the real sense. But one day, while living in rural Minnesota, north of Mpls, Dad came rushing home, told us (four kids and Mom) to jump in the car and off we went. To dig potatoes! I don't actually remember if we were paid for that in other than potatoes but it was quite an experience. I must have been about 8 years old. After that it was delivering papers for the Mpls Star/Tribune (two deliveries a day then). That was kind of a disaster. For one the hours were not good: Early AM and then mid PM afternoon. Plus I had to collect money for the papers delivered. As I lived in a pretty poor neighborhood, most people did not have the full amount so paid half, a quarter or none at all. Plus, being poor, I was not used to collecting money so usually spent what money I collected. That meant that the Star/Tribune received very little or none. I guess I was about 10 at that time. After that I picked strawberries in Hopkins for a farmer named Glenn. That was also hard work but did provide me with enough money to buy clothes for school. I guess I was about 12 or so. Skip ahead several years. First real job was as an orderly at the Highland Park Nursing Home where my Mom and ex-brother in law worked. I was probably 15 or 16. Next up: After graduation from high school in 1959 I enlisted in the US Army. I served 3 years as a clerk typist in Karlshrue, Germany. After my discharge - I was just 20 - I went to work at a nursing home in Edina. Stayed there about a year. Then, at the advice of an old family friend I applied for a job at the Mpls Water Dept in Fridley. It was a long drive from 38th and Hiawatha in Mpls to Fridley, The money was ok - $2.79 an hour but the work was boring. Again, at the advice from a friend, I applied for a clerks position at the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. I started there in January 1964 at $3.18 an hour. I retired from there in 1994. In between I did a short stint at the Holiday store in Bloomington, MN. Worked in the camera department. Also worked as a janitor for a cleaning business for a month or so. After retirement from USDA, I worked at City Hall in my current city. Worked there for 2.5 years in the Planning Dept. Next up: Work for the Census Bureau as a recruiter. That job lasted just 60 days. Next up: Wal-Mart! Why? I was one quarter short of the 40 needed for Social Security Benefits. I have also painted homes. 6 to be exact but two were repeats. Painting is kind of refreshing. Dirty but when you are done and look at the finished project it is a nice feeling. Only problem is that I have a frear of heights so can only paint a single story home. At this point I am unemployed but have applied to work at the Census Bureau again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Great day

Sunday, March 22, 2009 was a really good day. No, I did not win the lottery. Nor has the disease that has plauged my body almost all of my life suddenly gone into remission: I am still bald. Instead I finally found what I have been looking for. I have been on the trail of this item for more years than I care to think about. Antique stores. Garage sales. Flea Markets. Ebay. Craigs list. Only twice have I seen this priceless item and each time it was way overpriced for the condition. If I was going to spend the money, I wanted it to be worthwhile. On Sunday, with nothing else to do, I had driven to Platte City, MO - about 30 miles north of where I live to go to an antique sale in the local high school. Nothing there even remotely tempted me. A few miles further North was an antique Mall that my wife and get to about once every three years or so. The only things I really look for are items relating to the Peanuts comic strip and old record alblums. But I am fussy about what I buy. It has be unique and, more importantly, cheap. really cheap. I did see something there that tempted me. It was a box of Peanuts stationary, complete with envelopes. Only problem was the price: $19.50. That may not seem like a lot of money but to me it was. So, I just sucked it up and walked on.
When I look at record alblums, I normally only look at the first 3 - 5. That pretty much tells me what type of music the rest of the records are. I know, I could be wrong and over the years may have overlooked some real gems. But I don't know that. I also don't look at alblums that are piled one on top of another as that causes ring wear. Anyway, I stopped at the first booth that had records. It looked a bit promising with some records on the wall. As I thumbed through the first row, my heart starting to thump a little faster. There were alblums there by the artist I had been searching for but I already had those. But just to find any by him was a rarity. And then, as I flipped through alblum number 5, there it was: The Crown Jewel. The Hope Diamond. The Holy Grail.
At first I could not believe it. I thought: "There must be something wrong with it". It was encased in a plastic sleeve for protection and the jacket itself was still bright and shiny. I pulled the record out. It was just as beautiful as the day it was produced. No scratches, mars, fingerprints, etc. Just Pristine. I had purposely avoided looking at the price because I just knew it was going to be way more than I could afford. But, I had to find out. By now my heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to fly out of my chest. I took a quick peak: $75!! Whoa. Way too much. But then my eyes focused and the $75 turned into $15! That was doable. I grasped the alblum tighter in my hand, tried to walk calmly to the front desk where the cashier was located and asked her to hold that for me while I continued shopping. But in my heart I just knew that when I checked out the cashier was going to tell me my alblum had been mismarked and the real price was a gazillion dollars. But that did not happen. $15!!! Unbelievable!! And by the way: The record is titled "PERSPECTIVE" by Rick Nelson. It completes my collection. Like I said, it was a really good day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

I don't know when it started but I really hate crowds and really hate having people (strangers) sit next to me. Every time I see a news clip of massive crowds of people gathered to hear the Pope, at a football/basball game, at a rally, etc, I thank the inventor of the TV! Yes, I know that TV does not have the same atmosphere as being there in person but it is sure more comfortable and convenient.
It is not that I am a recluse. I have attended concerts for Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Ricky Nelson and ELVIS. No denying, the experience was great - even if the view was not. Greater than that though is the enjoyment of close-ups, stereo sound, bathroom breaks (where do people "go" when surrounded by 200,00 other people?), snack breaks etc. when watching TV.
What brought this to mind was a recent dinner at our favorite pizza place. It is an informal place - the type where you place your order at the counter and when your pizza is ready, the cook yells out your name and then you pick it up. Well tonight, my wife and I were the only ones in the place (which has about 20 booths. We sat in the only one that had enough light to read by. Shortly after we sat down, another couple sat down right behind my wife. That was just a bit annoying as they had 19 other booths to sit in. Bad as that was, it soon got worse. Another couple came in and sat down - you guessed it - behind me! Next a third couple came in and sat behind the couple who was behind me! So now we have four couples sitting in a row. All talking at once while the rest of the restaurant was empty. Sort of like all of the passengers in a rowboat sitting on one side.
At the movies most poeple normally try to sit in the middle somwhere past the first 10 rows or so. As we like to be alone, we often pick seats toward the aisle and in the last row. Why the last row? Well, if not people will either sit a seat or two away in our row our just behind us. And talk throughout the whole show. In the last row though, no one can sit behind us. We have also learned to throw our coats over the seats in front of us so no one will sit there. If the the theatre fills up however, we do have the social smarts to remove our coats.
The same goes for parking. I normally try to park my car far enough away so that no one will pull along side me, open their doors and bang into my doors. On really busy shopping days that is sometimes impossible to do. But on most days, I can park a gazillion rows away from the store, hoping that no one will park with me. Wrong. Invariably someone will park right next to me even though there are 40,000 other parking spaces.
Where am I going with this. I don't know, I just hate crowds. So if you see me in a restaurant, movie theatre, parking lot, please stay away.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Santa Claus

In todays world I wonder how many children stop believing in Santa Clause at too early of an age?

As an adult I know that the typical image of a stout old man in a red suit flying through the sky in a sleigh powered by reindeer is just a childhood tale. That does not mean that the spirt of that man does not exist. What follows is a true story that illustrates that Santa is real.

A month or so before Christmas 2008, my hometown newspaper asked adults to write letters to Santa. No restriction on content, just what would you - as an adult - ask Santa to bring? The best of those letters would be published in the paper just prior to Christmas. This is what I wrote:

"Dear Santa:

Ever since I was 12 I wanted only one thing for Christmas: a rifle. But not just any rifle (and not a BB gun). Mine had to be like the one my best friend Roy Maleka had: lever action, .22 caliber, octagon barrell with brass stock and butt plate.
Every year I peeked under the tree, but well, you know - no rifle. After awhile I begin to wonder if you existed or cared. So I stopped writing you you and instead dropped hints to Mom and Dad, then to my wife and eventually to my daughter.
Still no rifle. I am now 67 and maybe, just maybe, this will be the year?


Over 400 letters were received and mine was one of those published. Several days after the publication my wife and I returned home from playing cards with friends. The answering machine was blinking alerting us to a message. This is what the caller said: "If you are the David whose letter to Santa was published in the newspaper, please give me a call".

Well, my first reaction was that it was someone offering to sell me a rifle or maybe, it was my friend Roy Maleka that I have not seen for over 30 years! It was neither. The caller said he had a rifle for me. Not quite like the one I was looking for but a rifle nevertheless. And the best part? He was offering it to me absolutely free! That's right, FREE! The next day I drove to his home and picked up my "new" rifle. Yeah, it was not quite what I wanted but it will do. And the man who gave it to me? Believe it or not, he resembled Santa (without the beard of course)!

So you see, the spirt of Santa does exist.