Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Somewhere Over The Bridge ...

Can you imagine five teenagers walking somewhere over the rainbow? Probably you can’t. Neither can I. However, it happened one bright sunshiny summer afternoon in 1952.

Jimmy Cassady, Joe Randall, James Anthony, another friend and a girl whose names I cannot recall, and I set out in my 1939 Buick to seek adventure. We were bored, restless teenagers and we needed to find something really exciting to do.

One of the guys suggested, “Let’s go walk across the Port Arthur-Orange Bridge.” As most of you know, this bridge is on Highway 87 and connects Port Arthur with Orange County. The bridge has a vertical clearance of 176 feet with a total length of 7,752 feet. That’s nearly one and one-half miles. The name was changed to the Rainbow Bridge in 1957. You can read more about this remarkable structure at www.tsha.utexas.edu.

Anyway, we thought that walking across the bridge was a great idea. We motored down through Port Arthur and north on highway 87 toward the bridge. My, how tall and skinny it looked as we approached. There was an eighteen-inch walkway on the west side of the bridge. The girl did not want to walk on the bridge so she drove my Buick across to the other side and waited on us.

There was not a lot of traffic, which was in our favor. That little narrow eighteen-inch walkway did not allow much room for error. We began our hike up the incline. It was really neat to look down into the water. We could see lots of fish swimming around. Some of the larger fish seemed to remain stationary just taking it easy. I believe these were garfish. Some appeared to be four to five feet in length.

Soon, we reached a height where we no longer could see any fish. But the surrounding scenery was beautiful. We stopped from time to time just to view the horizons. Don’t know if you’ve ever stood at the highest point of the Rainbow Bridge and looked around. The view is breathtaking.

Then we started our descent on the Orange County side of the bridge. When there were no cars coming we enjoyed jogging down the incline. Have you ever been running downhill and tried to stop? One of the guys started running. He went faster and faster. Then he decided to stop running. Only he couldn’t stop. He took a tumble and reminded me of a bowling ball rolling down the highway. He suffered some skinned spots but was not seriously hurt. I’m not sure about him but the rest of us had a blast.

I was telling Mr. William D. Quick, well-known local historian, about the bridge-walking experience. He told me that when the bridge was renovated during the middle 1990s, that the eighteen-inch walkway was removed. This was done in order to make the driving lanes wider.

I have never seen the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge which constructed in 1991 parallel to the Rainbow Bridge. It is my understanding that the two lanes of the Rainbow Bridge are for southbound traffic while northbound traffic uses the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge. At any rate, I don’t plan to walk across either one of them anytime soon.

Now I’ll ask again, can you imagine five teenagers walking somewhere over the rainbow? You can’t? Just think about the Rainbow Bridge on a bright sunshiny summer afternoon in 1952. I was there. I saw it happen.

Winston Hamby –

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Pa Quincy Mode

Pa Quincy is a figment of my imagination. Pa has various writing moods which cause him to express himself in various ways from time to time. He has happy moods, sad moods, peaceful moods, angry moods and many other moods too numerous to list. I group all of his writing moods together and call them the Moods of Pa Quincy.

One day Pa Quincy was in a philosophical writing mood and he wrote an essay asserting that the sky was blue. Critics rose up stating that the sky is not necessarily blue. Their reasoning was that the sky is called blue only because blue was the color given to the color of the sky. This does beg the question, “Which came first, the color or the sky?” The Critics say that had the color, “blue,” been named, “riboff,” then we would refer to “riboff skies.” Songs would have been written about the, “deep riboff sea.” The word we call “blue” might not even be in existence. We would have to be content with saying, “the wind blew.” But that’s another misconception for another time.

Pa wrote again while in this same mood that, “up was up and down was down”. Huge numbers of the earth’s population fell in line with this apparent truth. But then came the intellectual Critics. They told us that Up was not always up. Up used to be down. However, Up made a deal with Down and Down agreed that Up could always be up. Neither Up nor Down wanted to be sideways. So what now is has not always been the way it is now. Rather, according to the learned Critics, manipulation and deceit by the ups and downs of the world cause us to waiver in our understanding.

Why did Down agree to let Up always be up? Up had to agree that whatever goes up must come down. Down, on the other hand, would never have to feel compelled to go up. Also it was agreed that Sideways always would be home free with no bickering among the Critics of Higher Learning.

One day while in a serene writing mood, Pa Quincy wrote that, “All peace-loving people should live in peace thus enabling them to live in the peace they love.” Critics of the highest stature stated, “No, no, no.” They insisted that it is ridiculous to insinuate that you can have peace by living in peace, that what we really ought to do in order to live in peace is to live in war. Kill people. Burn homes. Cause havoc and chaos among all the nations of the earth. Only by living in war can we live in peace.

The various writing moods of Pa Quincy do not stop here. The Critics have debunked Pa Quincy’s writings that cold is cold and hot is hot. They have discredited his writings of belief versus doubt. They have lain to rest Pa Quincy’s writings of existence and non-existence.

The Critics say that even though Pa Quincy says things, that really he is saying something else and that we should not be misled by what we think he says. They say that we should look into the Moods of Pa Quincy to determine if there are secret messages. In fact they say that we should compile these mood writings and publish them in a book that could be called, “The Pa Quincy Mode.”

But then I guess all of this sounds too ridiculous so I apologize for even taking up your time with such foolishness. I am thankful that realistically, mankind is too wise to get caught up in such fairy tales.

So I will expunge such ridiculous thought from my imagination.

Winston Hamby –

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Am I Unfit ... ??

Do you have any unmarketable skills? I do. At least my wife tells me I do and I suspect she is correct. The dictionary defines unmarketable as, “Not marketable or not fit to be offered for sale.” Sounds pretty worthless doesn’t it? Well not necessarily.

When my daughter Deana was three years old, she thought it was pretty wonderful that I could push a penny into my left ear and pull it out of my right ear. Having my daughter thinking I am wonderful is no worthless matter. However, my “penny in the ear” trick had to stop when one day I discovered Deana trying to shove a penny into her ear. I even quit showing her how I could push that same penny into the back of my neck and have it come out of my mouth. It’s amazing what actions kids will pick up on by just watching their parents.

Also I can concentrate and cause “goose bumps” to appear on my arm. Then I can think again and cause them to go away. “Interesting, but unmarketable,” says my wife.

I love to write puns. My wife says they are not funny. I’ll try one out so that you can be the judge: Do you know why the chicken would not cross the road? The chicken would not cross the road because he was standing at one end of the road. The road was 2200 miles long. The chicken would have had to walk the entire length of the road and he was too “chicken” to walk that far. I think that is funny. My wife says it is not funny. She may be right because no one has knocked my door down offering me a job to write puns.

I do have one talent that is sought after about once per year. My wife invites me to her school so that I can make animal sounds for her preschool classes. She shows pictures of the animals and I make sounds corresponding to whichever animal is being featured. I can moo like a cow, baa like a sheep, neigh like a horse, bark like a dog, meow or mew like a cat or kitten, crow like a rooster, chatter like a monkey, bray like a donkey, grunt like a pig and even caw like a crow and do other bird calls with my fine unmarketable whistling skill. Then to top off my performances I walk around the classrooms like an Egyptian goose.

The kids love it and I think it’s great. But my wife has never offered me money to mimic the animal kingdom. The only way I can take off from my regular job is to tell my manager that I have been invited to speak to a school assembly. If the manager ever visits the school to hear one of my speeches, either he will send me to an animal shelter or have me quarantined for rabies. Or fire me …

And I can make other mouth noises that sound like musical instruments. I can sound like a violin, cello, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, or trombone. I can even sing and hum at the same time making for an interesting duet. And finally, I can sound like a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle shifting through all gears. Sound impressive? I think so. But still, no money …
I’m not even going to tell about holding the record high score on Pac-Man back in the early ‘80s while living in Lovington, New Mexico. No one offered me money. No one cared.

Anyone want to hear me pop my knuckles? Just call for an appointment.

Winston Hamby –