Memorial Weekend News From The Cactus Patch And Other Worthless Information 5/27/2023

Hey Folks, It Was More Fun Being A Kid Back In The Day….

Back in the 1950s, also referred to as ” Back In the Day,” we played with toys that should have either maimed or killed us. Cherry Bombs, a firecracker equal to a 1/4 stick of dynamite, yet our parents let us blow up things with these lethal fireworks. My ingenious cousin, Jok, decided to put a Cherry Bomb on top of the front tire of his older brother’s new imported MG. It was a swell blast, and after the smoke cleared, the metal fender had a huge pooch-out dent. He got his little ass paddled by every adult at the July 4th gathering. I got it too, just for being present at the scene of the crime. We also played with things like the picture below. We weren’t satisfied with letting them hit the sidewalk and pop the cap, we threw them at each other hoping that the pin would connect with one of our buddy’s heads. It was a great time to be a kid.

Add caps and throw them at your friends..what fun!

Reading Keeps The Young Mind From Wandering Into Reality

“Fun with Dick and Jane” was the best book for us kids. Two parents, two kids, a boy, and a girl, and a Cocker Spaniel that bit everyone in the neighborhood. The all-American family long before the Cleavers came to television. This particular book was one of my favorites until I started reading Micky Spillane’s noir paperbacks.

This was our waiter at the lakeside restaurant here in Granbury. I intended to order a fat juicy burger, but after looking at this walking tackle box, I ordered the catfish. I asked him if the fish was frozen or fresh. He said, ” I jump in the lake every morning and walk out with enough fish for the day.” Wow, I was impressed.

This is a picture I drew of my bluegrass band back in the late 70s. We called ourselves the “Trinity River Band,” after the infamous stinky river that runs through Dallas. It seems the Trinity also runs through Fort Worth and is a clean and swimmable body of water. I can’t remember who in the band wanted that name, and how in the hell did the rest of us agree to it?

MoMo and I wish you a safe and pleasant Memorial Day. Remember what the day is about. It’s not about sales at Lowes and Home Depot, or Amazon. It’s a day to honor the men and women who gave their lives and or served in our military to protect our country, and most of the world from evil. Today, in this time, we need them more than ever. Evil is on the move and we are the only nation willing to face it.

Breaking News From The Texas Cactus Patch 5/24/2023

Arnold Ziffle Jr.

The Canadians are sending us new immigrants. It’s a “super pig,” and it’s crossing the border unchallenged and in the dark of night. The experts in these creatures say it eats everything in their path; ducks, deer, dogs, foxes, tiny humans, and so on. They travel in packs and are smart enough to avoid hunters with rifles and bows. One older experienced hunter said, “It’s like I am back in the Nam, these critters hide in holes and wrap foilage around themselves to blend in with the forest, it’s PigNam.” One report had one super pig using a laptop left on a picnic table, so these things are bright. The Biden administration is researching our laws to see if these critters can obtain voting rights. Look at those cute eyes, that mischievous twinkle and adorable smile. How could we not love the thousand-pound porker?

The border is still closed per our government, but yet 14,500 illegals per day somehow crawl through razor wire and make it past armed National Guard troops. They must be using a “Harry Potter invisible cloak” handed out by our Red Cross. Send a Cub Scout troop with Daisy air rifles to the border and let them pepper the invaders with copper BBs. I know from experience those BBs hurt. The phrase; “Remember The Alamo” comes to mind.

Miller Lite and Ford are the two latest companies to go woke. It appears that Miller has an all-female activist marketing group and intends to exterminate the Miller Lite good-ole-boys from its ranks, replacing them with trans women dressed like frat boys and construction workers. Ford, well, they are just a bunch of Detroit pansy asses. Rainbow-painted F-150 trucks. Who in the hell is going to drive one of those? Not in Texas or Oklahoma.

Target, that fun-loving department store with the big red circle and cute commercials, now carries a line of women’s swimwear for transgenders. It has extra material in the crotch for the sweet things little package. They also have a line of children’s playwear featuring trans slogans, fairies and Unicorns, and Winnie The Pooh, for Pete’s sake. Look to see Target biting the dust at a city near you. UPDATE..from the Dead South News Service: Target now has moved the Pride and LBJQRST clothing to the rear of their stores so shoppers without mental problems will not be exposed to the clothing.

The scammers are ramping up their attacks on us senior Texans. Somewhere, a list with my cell phone number was sold to a group of guys in India. All the callers have an East Indian accent and want to sign me up for additional Medicare benefits and pain meds; all they need is my personal information and credit card number. I keep telling them I died, but they keep calling back. I plan a trip to India soon to track down every one of the little shits and beat them with my Walmart walking cane. They don’t know that we all carry firearms in Texas and are pissed off most of the time, so that’s not a good combination for a scammer. Below is a picture of my latest scammer that he sent me. I asked for his cell number to call him in the middle of the night. He hung up.

” I am here to help you with your pain, all needed is your personal information, social security number, and a credit card with at least a $5K limit. Medicare is your friendly friend.”

I’m gifting my 2008 Honda CR-V to my 16-year-old granddaughter on Memorial Day. She needs a car to obtain a part-time job and get to school and home. I can’t drive a car due to the drop-foot caused by my back surgery, so I’m content to let MoMo drive me around in our 2018 Honda. The car is old and wise but doesn’t have streaming capabilities to the radio, so I’m not sure how she will listen to her Spotify music. Life is tough for the youngsters.

Scammer Jammer’s And Spamer’s

Don’t Pick Up That Cell Phone…Fool!

I got five spam calls this morning with my local 817 area code. Thank you, iPhone, for identifying the little pest. I did, just for shits and giggles, answer one. The girl on the line talked fast and had such a heavy accent I couldn’t understand a word she said, except for medical, and she gave me my correct address, which worried me. How did she obtain that?

I gave her some reign and let her sputter on for a few minutes, letting her think she had a perch on the line; then I asked her this; ” where are you calling from?” she said the company name, “No, what country are you calling from because it’s not from Fort Worth Texas.” Click, end of the call. These calls are called “spoof” or “spook” calls. The scammers use a local area code and number without the owner of that number knowing it. Then, from a call center, likely in India or another Asian country, they attempt to get your information. Thank you, Artificial Intelligence, the company that sold your number and Medicare, that makes your information public.

The Neighborhood Wizard Strikes Again!

I wrote this story a while back, but in acknowledgment of the coming Colonial Golf Tournament, I find it appropriate to republish it. Some, or most of my readers, think the Misters are a fictitious couple; I can assure you they were neighbors and as crazy as I portray them in writing. Most everyone recalled has passed, so I’m sure they won’t mind the praise.

Mister Mower 5000

I have written about my childhood neighbor and his wife before. Mr. Mister and Mrs. Mister of Ryan Ave, Fort Worth, Texas. Every kid should be so lucky to have known the original mad scientist.

Pictured above is Mr. Mister’s early prototype of “The Mister Mower 5000,” a self-propelled riding reel mower suitable for golf courses and yard snobs. This baby was something else.

Constructed from junk jet aircraft parts he pilfered from Carswell Air Force Base, his employer, this little hummer would reach a top speed of 20 miles per hour and cut the grass so low it would give an ant a flat top haircut. It was the first riding mower with a zero-turning radius, a drink holder, an ashtray, and an under-dash air conditioner taken from a wrecked Chevy Corvette. The fathers in our neighborhood would gather and watch when Mr. or Mrs. Mister would mow their front lawn. Mrs. Mister was a Hollywood starlet type, so she usually garnered the most significant crowd because she always wore a bikini bathing suit for maximum tanning effect.

In 1956, sales for “Toro” lawnmowers were sagging. After learning of Mr. Misters’ new invention, the executives arranged a demonstration at the Colonial Country of Fort Worth, home to the prestigious “Colonial Golf Tournament.” Mr. Mister was ecstatic.

The demonstration was the day before the big golf tournament, so the Fort Worth bigwigs could attend and be handy for photo-ops. The Misters arrived with the “5000” strapped to its custom-made trailer towed behind their menstrual red Alfa Romeo sports car. Fred and Ginger, their poodles, were strapped into their car seats, wearing head scarfs and sunglasses like Mrs. Mister. Ben Hogan was almost as impressed with the invention as with Mrs. Mister, so he asked if he could be the first to drive the contraption. Of course, Mr. Mister, a vast Hogan fan, agreed and instructed Mr. Ben to operate the mower. Remember, this machine was experimental and subject to total failure at any moment.

The mower was rolled into place on the 18th green, which was a bit shaggy and needed a buzz. Ben Hogan seated himself on the machine with his ever-present cigarette in his mouth. Mr. Mister set the required mowing height and gave Ben a few final instructions, but Mrs. Mister was standing next to Ben, who was transfixed on her copious boobs and didn’t hear a word of instruction.

Now, Ben Hogan was the world’s best golfer then, but he didn’t know Jack-squat about driving or operating machinery. So Ben put the mower in gear and started around the green. “Ooohs and Ahhhs” from the crowd gave him a bit of encouragement; the newsboys were snapping some great shots, and folks were clapping and whistling, so he upped the speed a bit and pulled a lever underneath the seat, hoping to increase the efficiency of the “5000.”

At that moment, Mr. Mister realized that he had failed to warn Ben about that one lever that was hands-off. Too late. Ben engaged the “Scalp” mode, which increased the power and lowered the blades to the “Eve of Destruction” setting. At twenty-five miles per hour, the “5000” and Ben Hogan holding on for his life, dug up the 18th green deep enough to plant summer squash and Indian corn. Dirt and dwarf Bermuda was flying like a Texas twister. The Leonard Brothers, part owners of the club, fainted in unison. Mrs. Mister, a track star in her early years at Berkley and still in great shape, sprinted to the runaway mower and leaped onto Ben’s back, hoping to reach the kill switch, another part Mr. Mister had failed to show Ben.

Mrs. Mister

Mrs. Mister finally attempted to reach the switch by climbing over Mr. Hogan’s head and wrapping her track star legs around his neck. Finally, on her last effort, she got the toggle, and the mower abruptly stopped, throwing her and Mr. Ben off the machine and into the beautiful pond adjacent to the green.

Ben waded out first, bummed, lit a Camel, and strode across the destroyed green to the bar, where he ordered two double Scotches. Mrs. Mister, wearing a promotional white tee shirt with ” The Mister Mower 5000″ printed on the front, waded out of the pond to a round of applause. The news photographers were popping flashbulbs like firecrackers.

Of course, Toro passed on the mower, and Mr. Mister was distraught until he started his next invention, the 18th green was re-sodded in a few hours, Ben Hogan won the Colonial Tournament, and Mrs. Mister inaugurated the first Wet Tee Shirt Contest in Texas.

An Odd Duck In A Crowded Pond

Don’t Believe What You Hear…It’s All Bull, And Then Some…

From the time I was a child, I was a bit skeptical of life in general. Blissfully ignorant with a tendency to play with the dust particles in the light of the window. My mother, bless her soul, thought me to be a bit touched, maybe from the Scarlet Fever I contracted at six years old to the concussion I suffered from falling on an iced sidewalk that same year. No matter the affliction, I was a feral child; the neighborhood was my jungle.

My little sister, five years younger, was spared the affliction, leading to a childhood of normalcy. I suspected I was the doomed child, the voodoo Chile, way before Jimi Hendrix wrote the tune. Not quite the walking brain-feasting zombie, but somewhere in between, I lived an existence in the Twilight Zone, not knowing what the next day would bring. Rod Serling could have been my Godfather. Captain Kangaroo scared me shitless, as well as his pal Mister Greenjeans. I thought Howdy Doody was a real kid with strings attached to his limp limbs. Icky Twerp was my hero. I was a good kid with streaks of inconsolable incorrigible rebellion that possessed me like a demon from hell. My paternal grandmother refused to be in the same room with me for many years, and then it was only to prepare me Campbell’s Bean Soup, which she was convinced was the favorite of young demonic possessed children. I was baptized so many times my skin was permanently shriveled. I had no idea of my afflictions. Having spent every Sunday in the hard wooden pews of the Poly Baptist Church, I was guaranteed a seat in Heaven, or so I believed.

Age and height rectified most of the imagined curse, but still, I suffered from a contrived family affliction. My Aunt Norma, a kindly bookish woman who loved Wejie Boards, Tarot Cards, and howling at the full moon at two in the morning, thought that she gave me a kindred spirit, of which I was not. I was a kid that liked to write stupid stories in a Big Chief Tablet and mail them to the Fort Worth Press Newspaper. Years went by with no response. It was as if I never existed as a writer, but then, those were the years that I believed myself to be the next Mark Twain, and that belief was unshakeable. If I couldn’t become Mark Twain, at least I was destined to be the next John Steinbeck, even though he was still alive and kicking and was working on his Homeric tribute to his dog and America, “Travels With Charley.” I could have written that book; it was there in my oatmeal mush brain, but the puzzle pieces were missing.

To most of us, childhood was a mystery that disappoints us, then we grow up and realize it was the best time of our lives.

“Dreams Will Keep You In Line.” Recollections From A Scared Baptist Kid

This morning I shuffled into the kitchen at 4 am, chastising myself for not getting enough sleep, for which I will pay later in the day. I figure a nap will take me down around noon. But, when my country and our laws are under assault from evil men, I take it seriously, even though there is little I can do except pray for divine intervention or a selective lightning bolt from Heaven. My dreams were filled with political discourse, and sleep was fitful at best. I awakened sweaty and fearful of what lay ahead. “Our ship is foundering in seas of discontent, and the ominus rocks are within sight. The sails are in tatters, our rigging is failing, and we are destined to be dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks of an unknown land.” I paraphrase that description; it came from someone important, maybe Mark Twain or Confusious.

Last night Mrs. MoMo and I watched the final seasonal episode of “The Chosen,” the story of Jesus and his disciples. The program is filmed in North Texas and Montana, and the cast is exceptional, as well as the writing, which takes the scripture and uses it as real folks would have heard, and spoken it in those times, making it realistic and not words printed in the Holy Bible. We are fans. It’s as if I am attending a church service without the peripheral distractions of bad music, wailing children, and a misinformed preacher that strives to please everyone, everywhere, all the time. I prefer the television show. I assure MoMo that I am not a heathen knuckle-dragging neanderthal chewing on a Brontisaures leg bone, but a bonafide Christian that seeks Biblical truths and inspirations in a different way. She understands.

I spent too many hours on the hard wooden pulpits the Baptists prefer to be anything else. I knew that just below my pew, Hell awaited, and raging demons could pull me down through the wooden floorboards by my small legs if I faltered in faith. I equated faith with fear. Folks today are not fearful of God. Doing good deeds is commendable, but they won’t buy you a stairway to Heaven. Maybe Led Zepplin was onto something?

My zealous preacher resembling a frothing-mouthed Bulldog pacing the stage, arms waving, and holding a large silver microphone to his dripping lips, advanced the service to a dramatic interpretation featuring hysterical heights that made the congregation swoon with the vapors. He reminded me of Brother Dave Gardner, the preacher turned comedian. I heard a few soft chuckles from my father from time to time; he was a fan of Brother Dave. Lofty condemnations, browbeating, and blanket accusations kept the flock in line; Amens were as plentiful as the women’s Beehive hair du’s, and the basket, when passed, was always overflowing with dollar bills and personal bank checks. I proudly gave my dime, which my mother pressed into my hand at the last moment. I was a kid and had no currency of my own to tithe. The little money I got from selling soda pop bottles went to candy bars, comic books, and Dr Peppers, the staples of child sustenance. Those unsettling experiences are burned into my conscience and come to me in dreams when I least expect them. Perhaps our country needs some of that “old time religion” to scare the hell out of us.

Ramble On

Remember the “good old days?” I do, and they weren’t all that good. Like most folks in Fort Worth in 1956, no one had air conditioning in their homes. At best, a few folks had a “swamp cooler” that might fill a room with coolish-wet air. It was a miserable existence, but everyone was miserable, so we didn’t know of anything better.

From May until October, I can’t remember sleeping under anything but a sheet, if that. It was too darn hot. My mother would spray water on me with a squirt bottle, but that didn’t put a dent in my suffering. Bless its heart, the old attic fan pulled in what air it could through the open windows, but there was little more than a slight breeze flowing over me. Like most in our neighborhood, our family accepted that we would be hot for five months of the year. That all changed in June of 1956.

I bicycled home from a day of playing pick-up baseball at the Forest Park diamonds and found a grey, pink, and white Nash Rambler station wagon in our driveway. My father, the professional skinflint, had finally had enough of used cars and repair bills and bought the family a “brand new car.”

He was the proud Papa and eagerly gave us a tour of our newest member of the family. He spoke as if the machine was birthed that morning and possessed human characteristics. At any moment, I thought he was going to pass out cigars. He referred to it as “she.” My mother said it looked more like a “Mr. Fred” to her and didn’t care much for the tri-tone paint, which was Dove grey with pink sides and a white top sporting a massive chrome luggage rack. Mother overlooked the colors because “Fred” had factory “air conditioning” and a fold-down back seat that turned into a bed, perfect for my sister and me for traveling. A large metal dashboard, with numerous instruments, a radio, and a clock, was guaranteed to smash your face flat and remove your teeth if a sudden stop was required, and not a seat belt one. The automatic transmission, roll-down back window, and genuine imported naugahyde upholstery gave it that touch of elegance and convenience everyone in the 50s wished for. I soon found out that summer sun-heated naugahyde could easily burn, blister and remove the skin from my legs and butt.

I must admit, it was a pleasure riding around town in an air-conditioned car. Regular folks, baking to a crisp in their Chevy or Ford, would stare at us as if we were royalty. The car windows rolled up, ice-cold air blowing our hair and swirling the heavy cloud of cigarette smoke through the car; it was heaven. At that point, I was impressed with my station in life, all because of air-conditioning.

On a hot July night designed by the devil, my father woke the family, and we all marched to “Mr. Fred.” The engine was running, the backseat bed was made up, and the car was like a meat locker inside. My parents slept in the fold-back front seat, and my sister and I were in the back. We all slept like a dream, and for many nights thereafter, if the heat was unbearable, we took cooling refuge in that Nash Rambler. Life was good, all because of an air-conditioned car.

Thoughts On Being A Texas Writer

In the past, I have considered myself a writer…not an accomplished one, but a pearl in the making. I’ve been at it since I was ten, using No. 2 pencils and a Big Chief tablet. At that time, I seriously considered becoming the next Mark Twain if I could somehow channel his spirit and process his talent.

I soon gave up on that dream and changed course to become the next John Steinbeck, although he was still alive and writing at that time. I read his novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” which was a daunting feat at the age of ten, but I made it through the book in a few months, understanding about a third of it, and when finished, considered myself a literary genius. My mother politely busted my bubble, reminding me I was still a kid with a Big Chief tablet that was a pretty good reader that wrote cute little stories about my friends and animals. I did send a rousing story about our neighborhood idiot to our local newspaper, the Fort Worth Press, but never received a return comment. I watched the paper daily for months, expecting my story, written on tablet paper, to be published. I likely offended someone in the guest editorial section.   

     My late aunt Norma introduced me to the alien world of books. She and my mother taught me to read at six years old. Until then, my childhood was watching cartoons, producing elaborate play battles of World War 2 and the Alamo with my neighborhood friends, and dealing with the bad boys across the tracks, “the hard guys.” My next-door neighbor, Mr. Mister, an Air Force veteran and an aircraft designer at Chance Vaught, was our neighborhood mentor…his wife, Mrs. Mister, was our second-in-command mentor. She was also a rabid reader of books and a devoted disciple of American literature. Although from California, she loved our revered Texas authors, J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb. Larry McMurtry hadn’t come along yet, or she would have followed him to his Archer City home and camped on his porch.

     The reality of my situation is such that I may never get a book written and published. I have started on one but am stuck and can only go as far as the few chapters I have produced; I’m not sure if the world is ready for a Horned Lizard ( a Texas Horney Toad ) that turns the tide in the battle of the Alamo. It’s a tale for children, but some adults might find it amusing after a few drinks. My wife believes I still have it in me, and she may be right. There are days when I feel the spirit and will churn out a short story about my childhood experiences or what happens in my small town and the state of Texas. Sometimes I write about politics, which I shouldn’t do, as anyone wanting to write serious stories, poisons himself when he enters that gladiator’s arena.

     Recently finishing one of J. Frank Dobies books, and in the middle of another, and once again, I feel the spirit and yearn to write again. Short stories, anecdotes, and tall tales are well and good, and I grew up reading and listening to them as told by my uncles and grandfather, but my gut tells me to write “the book.”

     Below is a quote from one of our famous Texas authors, Walter Prescott Webb. His quotes and campfire tales alone are enough for their own book. He is right, of course, about writers and authors, himself being one. I am guilty of all the below.  

A quote from Walter Prescott Webb, a famous Texas writer, and historian.

           ” It takes a good deal of ego to write a book. All authors have an ego; most try to conceal it under a cloak of assumed modesty which they put on with unbecoming immodesty. This ego manifests in the following ways: 1. The author believes he has something to say. 2. He believes it is worth saying. 3. He believes he can say it better than anyone else. If he stops doubting any of these three beliefs, he immediately loses that self-confidence and self-deception. That ego, if you please, is so essential to authorship. In effect, the author to write a book spins out of his own mind a cocoon, goes mentally into it, seals it up, and only comes out once the job is done. That explains why authors hide out, hole up in hotel rooms, and neglect their friends, family, and creditors….they may even neglect their students. They neglect everything that may tend to destroy their grand illusion.”

OCD, OCD, Life Goes On, Brah, La, La, How The Life Goes On

At my age, I admit that a tidy home is a pleasure. I grew up in one, and can’t imagine having to live in a house that is only cleaned once a week.

My mother was a fanatic when it came to keeping things in their proper place. Her kitchen was a work of wonder; disinfected floors and counters, dishes aligned perfectly, glasses were arranged in order by size and color, and food items were alphabetized and stacked perfectly in the cabinets. We had more Tupperware than the stockyards had cattle. The rest of our home was as clean as her kitchen. I didn’t appreciate her obsession then; I was six years old and didn’t know an obsessed person from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Everything was fine until she started messing with the few toys I owned. My plastic army men were off-limits to everyone.

Attempting to recreate the Battle of the Bulge, pitting the US Army against the Nazis, I had spent hours arranging my tiny army on my bedroom floor. Plastic soldiers with carbines, tanks, half-tracks, and jeeps were all in place, awaiting my signal to begin the battle. I needed a bathroom break, so off I went. I wasn’t gone more than three minutes, tops, and when I returned to my bedroom, the battlefield was gone. Both armies were packed into their box and placed on my twin bed. My mother was there running the vacuum over the former field of honor.

“Oh, I thought you were done, so I picked everything up for you,” she said.

Hours of work, kaput. That was my first real experience with what we now know as OCD, “Obsessive Cleaning Disorder.” This was the mid-1950s, so new disorders and mental conditions were discovered daily. Housewives seemed to suffer from almost all of them. Family physicians were prescribing pills like candy.

My father got it; he would leave a sock on the dining room floor or move a few books around, and on one occasion, he re-arranged the plates and saucers. My mother came close to a nervous breakdown, so he backed off a bit. I admit that my sister and I got a small dose of her affliction because it appears to be transferred through genetics. There is no escape. My poor friends had to live in their “pig-pen” of a home while my sister and I lounged in our sanitized and orderly dwelling.

I have accurately diagnosed my wife MoMo with a version of the OCD. No doctor was consulted or needed; I have, as a child, suffered through years of the affliction. I know it well. MoMo has a whopper of a case of it. There are no germs in our home. She seeks them out and destroys them by the millions. Vaccumes, mops, sprays, and dust collecters are her armaments. The 2-second rule is not needed in our kitchen. I can drop a sandwich or a pork rib on the floor and place it back on my plate, knowing that it is germ-free and delightfully edible. When it comes to germs and filth, she is a downright serial killer.

I hate to end this story, but I need to re-wash my hands and roll a lint collector on my black tee-shirt.

The Days of The Big-Haired Gals

Folks in the southeastern part of the states don’t consider Texas part of the south; it’s too far west, too close to New Mexico and Mexico, and too many cowboy types. Well, we tended to ride horses to work and school and live on ranches, but somebody had to do it.

The southeastern folks are dead wrong about this south thing; Texas is as much the south as Mississippi and Louisiana. We have deserts, mountains, miles of cactus, and even the Gulf of Mexico, but we don’t drink mint juleps for every meal and have black gardeners and maids. Our claim to fame is we were the first state to have what the southeast loves; big-ass hair. The bigger and taller, the better.

My uncle Jay was a hairdresser in Fort Worth; that’s what we called them back in the 1950s. He was a World War 2 veteran that shot down Jap planes from the deck of a destroyer and loved every second of it. Yet, he was an artist when it came to teasing, combing, and coaxing women’s hair into things of beauty. There wasn’t a fairy bone in his body, and he could have killed you with one hand and no weapon when he was drinking. He was a by-god legend because he was the man who invented “big hair.” It was purely accidental, but it made him as famous as Rock Hudson’s wedding album.

Up until 1956 or so, women in Texas wore their hair down straight, rolled a bit on spools, or a flippy-do at the ends.

Jay was working hard on an old lady who didn’t have much hair left on top, and she was ragging his butt about why he couldn’t do something about it. He started combing, teasing, spraying, and sculpting until she had a bubble of hair a foot high sitting on top of her head. He didn’t know it, but a monster had been birthed.

Women came to his shop wanting their hair styled in “one of them big bubbles.” The word was out. the cutting and curling days were gone; now, everyone wanted their hair puffed out like a cotton ball or a fluffy poodle and piled as high as the sky on top of their head. He would use two cans of hair spray on every hair-du. The gals couldn’t replicate the hairstyle themselves, so they had to return to the shop, which caused him to work more hours, but make more money too. He was soon driving a new Caddy convertible and wearing Brooks Brothers shirts. My grandmother said he was “shittin’ in high cotton,” and she knew all about cotton.

I came home from school one day, and this giant mass of hair with a small framed woman underneath was standing in the kitchen; it was my mother. She had gone to the dark side and got her brother to give her the full treatment. She dared not stand too close to the gas stove burner in fear of igniting the Spray-Net that held the mess together, but she cooked supper without burning up or falling over. I have no idea how she slept on a pillow with that mass of hair attached to her small head. My father didn’t have enough room in the bed, so he moved onto the couch.

At about the same time, women in Texas started talking strangely. The accent was still there, but the big hair made them articulate differently.

I was with my mother at the Piggly Wiggly on Berry Street. Most of the women in the store had the now obligatory “big hair.” One of her friends she hadn’t seen in a while came up to her and said, ” well lookit yeeeew, is that a new dresses? hows your momma and them? I just love your hair-du.” It sounded like Martian to me. My mother returned the greeting in the same manner. A new language had been born because of the big hair. Pretty soon, all the aunts and neighborhood ladies were talking that way. It was as if Texas had been styled out of us with a can of hair spray and a teasing comb. My uncle Jay didn’t seem to notice the cultural shift he had caused. He was making more money than he could spend, and man, could he spend it like a big boy. The trend spread to Houston, Lake Charles, New Orleans, and on east until it hit Florida and then up the east coast.

In the mid-sixties, thanks to the hippie chic movement, the young girls went back to wearing it long and straight, and so did their mothers, and the bubble head died out. Uncle Jay made a nice chunk of change from his invention, and to this day, in parts of the south, you can see old women with that “big hair” piled on top of their heads.

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