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Lou-J’s Café, 1968 – Oglesby, Illinois Part 1

The ten-year-old boy stops in at Lou J’s Café on Walnut Street in Oglesby, Illinois, a small town of 4,200 (1960 census) just across the Illinois River south of LaSalle and Peru and 90 miles southwest of Chicago. He comes here about two or three times a week after school has let out at Washington […]

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The song remains the same but not the memories

The other night, a song reminded me of a girl from a long, long time ago. It is funny how the mind works and what you might remember at any given moment; or what memories might be triggered by something you smell, hear, taste, or see. The other night, I was listening to this song […]

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Oh Tannenbaum!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us. They’re green when summer days are bright;— They’re green when winter snow is white. O, Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us! I don’t remember the exact year that we went “artificial” with our Christmas tree instead of purchasing a fresh […]

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Cheeseburger, fries and a vanilla shake

Friends and other people who know me have often been astonished with my good memory—the way that I can remember specific dates, events, and other reminiscences. I don’t think my good memory is anything to get excited about—though some people seem to think so. Perhaps a lot has to do with where I am at—you […]

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Cherry’s Merry Pranksters

If you asked Eddie Parker what happened on Halloween 50 years ago, he would swear on his father’s grave that he wasn’t afraid that Old Man Brown was waiting for them with a rock salt loaded shotgun on that fateful night. “I swear he knew we was coming and was loaded for bear,” said Eddie […]

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Corn Detasseling: A summer rite of passage

For many teenagers growing up in America’s Midwest their first summer job is often not working at some fast food restaurant or other service-related employment, but instead detasseling corn. The neat thing about corn detasseling was that you didn’t have to be 16 to work, but instead only 13. Back in the summer of 1971, […]

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Rain on me

It’s another rainy day in Daejeon—the kind of rainy day when you know it’s going to rain on and off all day. There are the occasional cloudbursts, not what you would call “raining cats and dogs” but more along the lines of a swirling, blowing rain that is accompanied by gusts of wind rushing down […]

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Knee-high by the 4th of July

I wrote this blog post a year ago and the other night, I looked at it again after a friend had mentioned “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” Like a fine wine, it reads so much better now than when I first wrote it. I like this essay a lot. It’s one that I feel […]

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Are You A Stooge?

It was exactly 33 years ago today when I started Boot Camp at Lackland Air Force Base in sunny San Antonio. Of all the essays I have written the past few years, this would make my Top Ten List of favorite essays. Anyone who has ever served in the military at one time or another […]

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Getting inked for the first time

I hadn’t given much thought to getting a tattoo when I joined the Air Force but when I got to Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone in September 1976, my first duty station, I had a change of heart: three months later I was ready to be inked. What brought about this […]

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