Here Come the Mexicans

When I arrived at Orange Intermediate School, I met Mexicans. They were Catholic, not Protestant, and they wore different clothing. They all spoke at least some English; the girls usually more than the boys.

The boys didn’t want to be there; the girls did. It was 1952, and all the girls wore dresses. We used to eyeball the girls’ legs as they climbed the outside steel stairs up to the second-floor classrooms. I remember Suzie—short, waddly, conversational, a friend of everybody—who would act as mediator between us and some of the girls we liked.

In social studies class, when Al Lopez wasn’t on task, Mr. Hardesty would playfully throw erasers at him. One day Al was absent, and Mr. Hardesty told us, “You know, Al has an IQ of about 70.” We believed him. I guess he wanted us to be friendlier to Al. It never occurred to me to ask Al if he was legal or not.

Al was thin, stood about 5’8”, had dark brown skin, and long, gelled, slicked-back jet-black hair. He and I competed for the forward position on the Orange Intermediate basketball team. He was a ferocious dribbler, elbowing and penetrating the defense, but I was a better shot. I won the spot, but later, Al eclipsed me. One day when I called him a “brain” (a common middle school epithet), he cursed me out in Spanish and almost hit me. After that I tried to avoid him.

 

My first day at intermediate school, “Creech,” a kid that seemed about seven feet tall, pinned a sign to my back that said, “I am the scum of the earth.” He told me, “Keep that on all day, kid, or I’ll beat you up this afternoon.” I kept it on. Orange Intermediate was so much bigger than my Center Street elementary because several other elementary schools fed into it, including Cypress Street and Kilefer, where the Mexicans went to school.

The playground, a vast macadam tarmac, stretched from the chain link fence along Sycamore Street to the bicycle stands and woodshop to the south, and from the school buildings on the east side to the dirt running track on the west side. We played softball here after lunch, but some of the guys dominated the games, so a few of us changed to playing handball against the back of the school building, an act which resulted in Mr. Elmore taking us to the woodshop for a paddling.

They told us we couldn’t leave the playground during the school day, but across Sycamore Street was a tiny Mexican take-out. I found a breach in the chain link fence where I could sneak over and buy a couple of tamales for lunch.

During breaks, we would stand around on the playground in clumps, talking. The Anglo boys wore jeans with the red Levi tag, or khaki pants with a little cloth buckle in the back. I could afford neither; I just wore generic pants. The Mexican boys stood in separate clumps. Most of their families were poor. They settled here because Orange County needed their fathers to pick oranges. They wore generic jeans, or just dark slacks. I was more fearful of the eighth-grade Anglos like Creech than I was of the Mexicans. You could sort of avoid the Mexicans.

 

Segregation was illegal in the schools, but the town was still pretty segregated. Some of my Mexican friends lived in homes humbler than my own, and I noticed that many of them wore gold pendants of the Virgin Mary. In elementary school, they had attended Holy Family Catholic school on Glassell Street and we watched them walking home in their blue and white uniforms. I wondered, how did they afford to pay for private school? Or did the school let them go free? I think now that this excellent early schooling helped them survive and thrive in an Anglo culture. The Catholic kids always seemed to be ahead of us in their reading books.

We called the guys Pachucos (as in El Pachuco zoot suits), chongos (referring to a male hair bun), or chingos (sexual meaning), but at the time I didn’t know the meaning of any of these labels. Or we would just call them Mexicans. The word Chicano (roughly, American-born but of Mexican heritage) hadn’t come along yet. Playground Spanish

 We all knew some Spanish words (hombre, grande), and several bastardized words—savvy (from sabe; “to know”), calaboose (from calabozo; “jail”), sankero (from zanjero; “irrigation specialist”). And I learned a few dirty words —hijo de chingada, carajo, and the exquisite pendejo (referring to the intimate parts of a bull cow). Mexican cuss words were better than any we had in English.

We would stereotype the Mexicans—some of the stereotypes were true. Young Mexican men were known for driving bulky cars, like Buicks or Oldsmobiles, perpetually primer-spotted and lowered to three inches off the pavement. They would drive around the Orange plaza circle at about two miles an hour. They were often bare-chested to show off their crucifix necklaces, and you could just see their eyes above the top of the door sill.

I don’t remember any Anglo-Mexican fights when I was in middle school. But Cesar would give us Monday reports on the weekend fights up where he lived in El Modena. El Modena was once a separate town, but later incorporated into Orange. It had a Catholic, Spanish-speaking church, but no intermediate school, so they came down to ours. He talked about the gangs locked in mortal combat, lashing each other with chains and bashing each other with clubs. But we never saw any wounds or read any newspaper reports. Cesar had a great imagination. We listened, transfixed.
The bracero program brought Mexicans like Cesar’s family in from Mexico and put them in barbed-wire camps. The men would ride out to our family’s orange orchard sitting on wooden benches inside canvas-covered trucks. They cooked their burritos over little campfires they built in the orange grove. As a five-year-old, I learned my first Spanish words from these men, and also learned the hard way not to repeat any of them to my mother.

Many of the Mexicans stayed, and in the 1950s most lived west and north of the packing house. The Santiago Orange Growers Association organized in 1893, and its packing house, located at Cypress and Palm Streets, was built during WWI. At its peak, the facility packed over 800,000 boxes of oranges in a single season.

In the 1940s Orange County had 75,000 acres of Valencia orange groves, 5,000 growers, 51 packing houses, and tens of thousands of Mexican pickers and packing house workers.

 

Up through the 1940s, Mexicans in Orange County routinely suffered discrimination. “White space” was marked out in parks, hotels, dance halls, stores, and even barbershops. Defense attorney Joel Ogle argued for segregated schools, invoking Plessy v. Ferguson, an 1896 Supreme Court decision that legalized “separate but equal” schools. The “equal” part was a farce; school districts shunted Mexicans to their own segregated schools and emphasized more manual, agricultural skills, rather than more academic subjects. Unless they had whiter skin, their kids could not go to the white schools; they had to go to the colonia school, an inferior school on undesirable land.

On March 2, 1945, five Mexican American families filed a class action suit against the Westminster, Garden Grove, El Modena and Santa Ana school districts. Orange wasn’t included because their schools were already integrated. Finally, the school districts relented and gave Mexicans equal access to all schools. So I always went to school with Mexicans.

*    *    *

When we went to high school, Al Lopez continued playing basketball, but sort of disappeared after a year or so. The summer after I graduated I accidently met Al—in the Santa Ana jail. Our church had made up a team for jail visiting, and we were singing and speaking to a group of faceless men. One of them called me over and said, “Hey, this guy here knows you.” There was Al. He explained he was in for driving without a license. Today, I lament I didn’t pay his $30 bail.

I didn’t realize it until years later that my besetting sin was pride—against all available evidence, I thought I was better than other people. That included the Mexicans, and Al.

In 2009 I returned for my 50th Orange High School reunion. Al wasn’t there. My friend Cesar told me he had died many years before. Peace to his memory. Al, please forgive me for not treating you like a real person.

 

 

WINGSPREAD E-zine for January, 2018


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
January, 2018                                                                                                   James Hurd      

 

Contents

  • New blog article: “The Pilot Tells Himself Lies”
  • Novel news
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes
  • E-zine subscription information

*****************************************

New blog article: “The Pilot Tells Himself Lies”

My bush-flying days produced vivid examples of self-deception.

San Cristobal de Las Casas (southern Mexico) lies in a bowl, circled by towering peaks. All the watershed eventually courses down a huge, natural sinkhole at one end of the bowl. From San Cristobal we would fly the Mission Aviation Fellowship plane out to little airstrips all across southern Mexico.

One day, I’m stuffing a missionary family and their belongings into the Cessna 180. They’re traveling from Yaxoquintelá (a jungle training camp for missionaries) back to San Cristobal. But a norther has blown in and clouds lie like damp cotton over the mountains and down the valleys.

As we near San Cristobal, we’re flying at about 8,000 feet altitude in a mountain valley just below a cloud layer, following the Comitan road. The road winds through a narrow pass and then plunges down into the bowl. The afternoon light fades as I eye the narrow pass, blurred by the falling rain….

Read more here:   https://jimhurd.com/2018/01/23/the-pilot-tells-himself-lies/

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

 Novel News: The new novel is complete except for revising, editing and publishing. Which is to say, I have all the words, but it’s only about 5% complete….

Writers’ Corner

Word of the Month:  Contexting. Readers need to stay oriented. What, where, when? Don’t lose them between scenes, or between time periods. Only William Faulkner has permission to completely ignore context (e.g., as in Absalom, Absalom).

Question of the Month: How do you handle flashbacks in your writing without losing the reader?

Last month’s quiz: You can write dates as follows: 5 February 2016.

 Tip of the Month: Make sure each of your paragraphs say only one thing. You may need to move sentences from one paragraph to another to accomplish this.

 Movie of the month: The Crown. (The first two seasons are now available on Netflix.) The drama of Queen Elizabeth II, from her ascension to the throne, through WWII and beyond. Powerful acting, dramatization. Her interaction with Parliament, prime ministers, and her husband, Prince Philip. A central conflict: balancing the demands of marriage and family against the demands of the monarchy.

Book of the month: Juan the Chamula. An Ethnological Recreation of the Life of a Mexican Indian. Ricardo Pozas. 1962. The amazing fictional (but true-to-life) story of a poor Tzeltal Indian’s life in southern Mexico. Intimate details of his family, marriage, his work for the Ladinos, time in the military. At the same time as he rises to leadership in his small Chamulan community, he sinks into the morass of alcoholism.

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

 Quotable quotes

If two heads of state are unable to agree, they send their young people to kill other young people who they don’t know, for reasons they don’t understand, in places they’ve never heard of.                                                               Ferencz

Busyness is the earwax against the voice of God.

Bitterness is a poison that you take, hoping that the other person will die.

Pride has two evil step-sisters—jealousy and low self-esteem—and two cousins, anger and bitterness.                                                                  James Hurd

The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.
Albert Einstein

I like my home haircuts for three reasons:
They’re faster.
They’re cheaper
I can hug my Barbara
 

Lost words at the Last Supper: “If you guys wanna get into the picture, you’re gonna have to come over to this side of the table.”

Studies show that one out of four adults have some mental challenges. Check with three of your friends. If they’re OK, it’s you.

 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to the Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

The Pilot Tells Himself Lies

My bush-flying days produced vivid examples of self-deception.

San Cristobal de Las Casas (southern Mexico) lies in a bowl, circled by towering peaks. All the watershed eventually courses down a huge, natural sinkhole at one end of the bowl. From San Cristobal we would fly the Mission Aviation Fellowship plane out to little airstrips all across southern Mexico.

One day, I’m stuffing a missionary family and their belongings into the Cessna 180. They’re traveling from Yaxoquintelá (a jungle training camp for missionaries) back to San Cristobal. But a norther has blown in and clouds lie like damp cotton over the mountains and down the valleys.

As we near San Cristobal, we’re flying at about 8,000 feet altitude in a mountain valley just below a cloud layer, following the Comitan road. The road winds through a narrow pass and then plunges down into the bowl. The afternoon light fades as I eye the narrow pass, blurred by the falling rain.

We could turn around now and head to nearby Tuxla Gutierrez, a large town beyond the mountains with good weather and a large, lighted airport. But I’m wondering if I could possibly stay clear of clouds and sneak through the pass. At this point I know a few things: I know that I’m a good pilot, better than average. But I also know that transiting the cloudy pass is a high-risk operation, especially not knowing the weather conditions at the airport. We could divert and land at Tuxla, but we’d have to find overnight lodging. Not an appealing option.

So, I tell myself a lie—it’s safe enough; I can do it. I tell my passengers, “We’ll try to get through the pass.” We skim over the road, high-jump the pass, and plummet into the bowl.

The San Cristobal airstrip is now only three minutes away, but I see no opening ahead; just a wall of clouds! It would be deadly trying to fly through the clouds with mountains all around, so I must turn around and thread back through the pass. But we’re in a narrow canyon well below the bowl rim, and is the Comitan pass still open behind us? We make a steep left bank—I pull on flaps to shorten the turn.

We scrape up against the mountain wall. But now I’m looking at the Comitan pass above me. Can we climb enough? I raise the nose to reach best angle of climb. The 230 h.p. Continental engine is doing her best. We near the pass, still above us.

We slenderly squeak out, flying so low over the road that the white line looks like a sidewalk. Clearing the pass, we circle the rim of the bowl clockwise, find a crack in the clouds, and descend to land in San Cristobal just at dusk.

 

Later that evening I sit at home pondering the flight. It’s amazing how your judgment clarifies when you’re sitting in your easy chair. Call it cockpit judgment vs. armchair judgment. I reflect on the irony. When I made a bad decision and forged ahead through the pass, my passengers praised me for my amazing piloting skills. And I felt elated that I’d accomplished the mission. However, if I had made a good decision and diverted to Tuxla, my passengers might have grumbled, and I would have felt like a failure!

My San Cristobal passengers didn’t know I’d made a foolish decision—to continue through a rainy mountain pass in the lambent light of dusk. But I knew it, and I felt guilty. I reminded myself of certain fatality statistics in similar circumstances.

I repented, and vowed never to do that again. But of course I did do similar things again, all with sturdy (flawed) rationales. This is classic self-deception, built on the lie that I can beat the odds. But in truth, the exceptional pilot would have put prudence and passenger safety over convenience. A sage once said that there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. I felt the hand of God that day, once again being gracious in spite of my flawed rationales.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for November, 2017


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
November, 2017                                                                                  James Hurd      

 

Contents

  • New blog article: “Learning to Love Manure Day”
  • New novel
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes

*****************************************

New blog article: Learning to Love Manure Day

I’ve always hated manure. So on my first day working at Marv’s egg ranch when Ron said, “The real fun here is manure day,” I thought he’d gone mad.

During high school Ron and I worked for Marv. Ron was a bit smaller than I was, but one of the most confident kids I knew, funny and smart.

I would drive my pea soup green 1953 Ford to work. When I had it painted, Marv and Ron mocked its gleaming metallic gold paint—“Hey, Ronnie! Jim’s car’s all dirty. That sick cat must’ve crapped all over it.” And later when my ears reddened at their sexual jokes, they ate me like a baby marshmallow rabbit….

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

 

New novel: I’m working on a new novel about how a devout California boy became an atheist while at Bible Institute. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out real well…)  Estimated publication: summer, 2018.

 

Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861). Victorian English poet. Two of her poems: “How Do I Love Thee?” (Sonnet 43, 1845) and “Aurora Leigh” (1856).

Word of the Month:  Chronology. Make certain your reader doesn’t get lost in time. Give them time slugs, or at least little signals of when something takes place, especially if you’re jumping around in time.

Quiz of the Month:

How do you write a date in your story (e.g., the second day of April)?

Last month’s quiz: Where does the reader’s mind naturally place emphasis? Answer: The reader places emphasis on the last word or phrase of a sentence, paragraph, or chapter. Examples:
Weak: Linda broke her leg when she fell down.
Better: When she fell down, Linda broke her leg.

 Tip of the Month: The shorter the sentence or paragraph, the longer a reader will linger over it. Put your powerful punches in short sentences.

 More “How to write good”

  1. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  2. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  3. They were too close to the door to close
  4. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  5. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer

 Book Reviews
Margaret Craven, I Heard the Owl Call My Name. Dell, 1973. The haunting tale of a dying young priest who is assigned to a tiny Kwakiutl Indian village in British Colombia, his struggles, courage, and ultimate triumph. I’m using this book this spring in my Introduction to Anthropology course at Bethel University.

 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 

Quotable quotes

Epitaphs:

In a Georgia cemetery:

“I told you I was sick!”

 

In a Ribbesford, England cemetery:

Anna Wallace

The children of Israel wanted bread

And the Lord sent them manna,

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,

And the Devil sent him Anna.

 

Playing with names in a Ruidoso, New Mexico cemetery:

Here lies

Johnny Yeast

Pardon me

For not rising.

 

A Vermont widow wrote this epitaph, which sounds more like a want ad:

Sacred to the memory of

my husband John Barnes

who died January 3, 1803

His comely young widow, aged 23, has

many qualifications of a good wife, and

yearns to be comforted.

 

Someone who wanted anonymity in Stowe, Vermont:

I was somebody.

Who, is no business

Of yours.

 

On Margaret Daniels grave at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia:

She always said her feet were killing her

but nobody believed her.

 

Oops! Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:

Born 1903–Died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft to see if

the car was on the way down. It was.

 

In a Thurmont, Maryland cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist

All dressed up

And no place to go.

 

Finally, written on the tombstone my wife picked out for me:

I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen.

*    *    *

 

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Learning to Love Manure Day

I’ve always hated manure. So on my first day working at Marv’s egg ranch when Ron said, “The real fun here is manure day,” I thought he’d gone mad.

During high school Ron and I worked for Marv. Ron was a bit smaller than I was, but one of the most confident kids I knew, funny and smart.

I would drive my pea soup green 1953 Ford to work. When I had it painted, Marv and Ron mocked its gleaming metallic gold paint—“Hey, Ronnie! Jim’s car’s all dirty. That sick cat must’ve crapped all over it.” And later when my ears reddened at their sexual jokes, they ate me like a baby marshmallow rabbit. I resented that they always targeted me, but now I realize that I took myself too seriously.

Marv always treated me well and paid well. He was the kind of guy who only washed from the waist up. A serious, bible-quoting Christian, thick-necked, bulbous-nosed, and rough-edged, he talked like someone had put sand in his toothpaste. My first day, he took me on a tour. “The chicken cages sit in ten long rows there, eight Leghorns to a cage. When they drop their eggs, they roll down the sloping wire floors into the trays.” I inhaled urine and manure smells as he showed me how to push a four-wheeled cart, gathering the eggs. I learned to pick up the eggs four at a time and place them into cartons stacked on the cart. I smelled my own sweat while swallowing the dust that filled the stifling, motionless air. The eggs came with a byproduct—manure. Most of it fell through the cages and accumulated on the concrete slab beneath. But some fell on the eggs and left brown streaks, so we later had to wash them with a mechanical egg scrubber.

Then I had to pee. My clothes were so dirty I couldn’t go up to the house and ask Frances if I could use their bathroom. So I did as Marv and Ron always did—leaned against a cage post and discreetly let fly, watching the little yellow rivulets in the manure beneath—an action which provoked a furious clucking, part commentary and part protest. After the chickens settled down I returned to egg gathering, but when I exited the row, a cart wheel caught on the post, and the whole front stack of cartons dumped off the front, breaking dozens of eggs. Marv said nothing—he was a patient man.

While I gathered eggs, Marv walked down the cage rows to check for any wounded or dying hens. He saw a chicken with a red, tumid butt, pulled it out, and swabbed some foul-smelling purple stuff on it to staunch the bleeding. He said, “You gotta do this, or else the other hens peck at the bloody feathers until they disembowel her, leaving her guts to hang out like a lariat.”

Then Marv saw a chicken that had a lariat and he yelled over to me, “Hey Jamie—look; a cowboy chicken!” He grabbed the cowboy’s feet, smashed its little head against one of the wooden support posts, and hurled the lifeless body onto the manure pile underneath the cage. “It would’ve died anyway,” he said.

  

On one auspicious Saturday, my first manure day arrived. Would I be able to do this? We walked over to look at the Model T truck and manure trailer, and Ron told me, “Marv’s dad designed the trailer.”

Marv walked up, and explained, “The Old Man found this rusty trailer chassis with an axle and two wheels and built a steel bed for it. (I always call him ‘The Old Man’—it’s a navy term for respect.) He rigged up a small gasoline engine that powers this hydraulic pump here. The pump plunger tilts the trailer bed to dump the manure.”

The Old Man maneuvered the truck and trailer down the narrow driveway between the first two cage rows. Ron and I trailed behind, shoveling manure into the trailer from each side. It became a silent competition to finish our row first, and Ron always finished a little ahead of me. Shoveling dry manure would not be so bad, but the night’s rain had turned the dry droppings into a sodden, slippery slurry that oozed out from under the cages. The stinking slime ran off the edge of my shovel and dripped over my tennies. The term “stepping in the cow pie” took on new meaning, although instead of dry, sterile pies, this was more like trodding in a smelly soup. My shod feet squelched through the sticky slush.

The Old Man loved driving the truck, and relished the banter of his shovelers. You would have thought Ron loved this job more than anything—he seemed to savor every shovelful. Then it got fun, because these manure guys planned for crazy. We all took jabs at each other, but I usually ended up as the butt of their jokes. Marv drew upon his vast repertoire of manure stories, flavored with colorful, short Anglo-Saxon words. When he threw the “cowboy chickens” into the trailer, he made comments that were less than complimentary to the chickens.

After we filled the trailer with manure and piled a few bloodied, dead chickens on top, we drove out into the orange grove and stopped at a wooden access cover that hid a large, underground pit. Marv said, “Jamie—Take off the cover.” The acrid stench of manure and decayed flesh almost overwhelmed me. We tilted up the trailer bed and shoveled all its contents into the hole, carefully scraping out the last of the slurry. Then we went back for another trailer load. After several more loads we were done, leaving only a manure-less concrete surface under the cages. The whole job took four or five hours.

 

I assumed I was destined to do great things for God, but until now I never knew it would include shoveling manure. And yet shoveling taught me not to take myself so seriously. How could I, when my shoes were stained brown and my clothes smelled of rotting chicken flesh? Manure days taught me that even tiring, stinking work can make you proud because you feel as if you’ve accomplished something. Marv and Ron targeted me with their jokes, but they also helped me learn how to work well with other people. And I learned to love Marv—at once a worldly, somewhat profane man, and a good Christian—one of the best bosses ever. I confess that even now, I miss Saturday manure day.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for September, 2017

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
September, 2017                                                                                       James Hurd      

 Contents

  • New blog article: “California Luau”
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • Quotable quotes

*****************************************

New blog article: California Luau

 Shawn wondered if Rod would be here. Of course he would be here; Rod had to be here, mainly because Sally was here. Rod was barely 5’8” tall (Shawn was a full six feet), and had just completed his first year at Fullerton Junior College. What he lacked in good looks he made up in wit and confidence. Shawn was certain Sally looked at Rod as older, more mature, a man with a plan, already in college and on his way to a skyscraper corner office. How could Shawn compete with that? Like Shawn, Sally had just graduated from Orange High School. Read more here: https://wordpress.com/post/jimhurd.com/1081

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: John Grisham. A Time to Kill (1989), The Firm (1991), The Pelican Brief (1992), The Client (1993), The Rainmaker (1995). A novelist who writes criminal and legal stories. Some of his novels are very long (e.g., 250,000 words). Good page-turners. Driving narrative.

Book of the Month: John Grisham, The Chamber (1994). A longer novel, but engaging. An attorney attempts to save a condemned death row murderer from the gas chamber.

Word of the Month:   In medias res: “In the middle of things.” The cure for writer’s block. The cure for “where do I start?” In the middle of things. Try starting just before, or just after, the crisis or climax in your piece. Just jump in—in media res.

Question of the Month: Where does the reader’s mind naturally place emphasis?

Last month’s quiz: When do you use a hyphen, an en dash, and an em dash?
Answer: The hyphen joins two modifying nouns (half-pint bottles). The en dash is used for page numbers (Pp. 2-6). The em dash, the longest, shows an abrupt change of thought within a sentence (He jumped—actually fell—from the tree). Not all text programs support all three of these dashes.

Tip of the Month: Try mixing action and dialogue to make your dialogue more believable. Judy was eating her hamburger. Finally she said, “I don’t think I’ll go.” She popped the last bit of bun in her mouth.

The Great Mix-up
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
When it doesn’t rain for a while, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, because now my time is UP, so……

It’s time to shut UP!

Book and Film Reviews
John Grisham, The Chamber [as in “gas chamber”]. A typical Grisham adventure in criminology and law. Fast-moving narrative. The lone attorney for the accused holds a secret incentive to defend him. Will he be successful?

Movie—Dunkirk. A docudrama of the small civilian boats trying to rescue thousands of allied soldiers from the coast of France. Spitfires defending hundreds of small boats offshore that are taking fire from German Messerschmitts.

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 Quotable quotes

Economic wisdom

♠   The world will always need economists, if for no other reason than to make meteorologists look good.      Tim Essenberg

♠   Inflation is like sin; every government denounces it and every government practices it.       Sir Frederick Keith-Ross

♠   An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.    Laurence J. Peter

♠   To err is human; to get paid for it is divine.    William Freund, economic consultant

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California Luau

The long afternoon sank into the sea, the brown Los Angeles basin smog turning the sun fantastic, distorted, like a rotting orange. Summers in Southern California heat to almost 100 degrees at midday, but the dry, desert air quickly cools at night. Shawn liked the beach best on these late afternoons and evenings.

He’d asked Sally to go with him to the Calvary Church luau, but she said, “I’m driving down with Cindy and Saundra; we have to take a bunch of food.” So Shawn drove down with Bill, a year younger that he, who had no car. They pulled into the blacktopped Huntington Beach parking area, found a space and revved the engine of his 1953 metallic blue Ford—-nosed, decked, and hung, with twin glasspak pipes.

Shawn and Bill walked onto the beach barefooted, the sand squishing between their toes. They wore Bermuda shorts and teeshirts over their swim trunks. Shawn carried a watermelon and Bill, a six-pack of Pepsi, their respective contributions to the luau. The beating of the waves on the sand grew louder as they inhaled the salt spray.

Shawn wondered if Rod would be here. Of course he would be here; Rod had to be here, mainly because Sally was here. Rod was barely 5’8” tall (Shawn was a full six feet), and had just completed his first year at Fullerton Junior College. What he lacked in good looks he made up in wit and confidence. Shawn was certain Sally looked at Rod as older, more mature, a man with a plan, already in college and on his way to a skyscraper corner office. How could Shawn compete with that? Like Shawn, Sally had just graduated from Orange High School.

As they walked up to the Calvary group, Shawn stared at the girls—maxi-skirted, with hibiscus flowers in their hair, bare feet and painted toenails. They walked with grace, and stooped over as they made food preparations. Saundra wore a tiny silver chain around one ankle.  Cindy was a bit more robust, and wore a cover-up over her purple swimsuit. Melanie was less than five feet tall. Shawn noticed her long maxi skirt and the bathing suit top above her bare midriff. He pulled his eyes away.

Shawn smelled the smoke from the Tiki torches, and the loud music coming from a portable radio excited him. The Luau had been Saundra and Melanie’s idea. Melanie was Rod’s old girlfriend; one of several. When Shawn asked her out once she said, “I’ll have to ask Daddy; I’m only 13 going on 14.” Daddy said yes and they had gone to a football game, nothing more.

All the food lay on gunny sack cloths atop a woven mat of green palm branches. Succulent hunks of pork hung on skewers for roasting kabobs Sweet corn still in the husk, watermelon, potato chips, and rice that the girls had piled on banana leaves. And for dessert, big frosted chocolate cakes. Mango drinks sat cooling in a red ice chest. Most of the boys assumed that their greatest contribution was their presence, although some had thought to bring fruit or chips.

Shawn and Bill dropped off their watermelon and Pepsi, stripped off their teeshirts and shorts, and ran toward the water. The defiant sun sank to the horizon as the waves washed farther and farther up the beach.

They dove into one wave after another, sometimes jumping on top of the peaks and body-surfing in the foam toward the beach. Pacific waters are cold, even in summer. But the huge, pounding waves throw you around so much you don’t realize you’re getting numb.

They just let the smaller waves break over their waist or shoulders, but they could see two or three waves forming in the distance, and with experience they knew which one of them would be big. With these you try to jump up onto the peak and then swim furiously as it carries you in to the shore.

Shawn saw the monster wave approaching.

He and Bill jumped just before the wave broke, but they didn’t jump high enough. Instead of lifting them, the wave crashed over them and somersaulted them. Shawn tumbled helpless against the power of the foam; then he hit the ocean floor hard. The force kept him underwater and he panicked, afraid he would run out of air. But the relentless wave rolled him all the way into the shallows where he weakly stood up, spit out salt water, and felt the sting from the scrapes on his back and knees.

Then he saw Rod, barely visible, out beyond the breakers, calmly swimming parallel to the shore. Clearly showing off. Shawn never went out there; he lacked the confidence. Shawn glanced toward the firepit and saw a couple of girls looking past him out to sea as if he were invisible, watching Rod. One of them was Sally.

One of the other guys had helped Glen bring some dead wood from his home orange orchard, and some eucalyptus chopped into firewood lengths. Neither woods were native to the area. The Spanish had brought in the orange trees in the 1700s, and the tall-growing eucalyptus trees came from Australia—local orange growers used them to form windbreaks. Glen struck a match (no one carried cigarette lighters), lit a wad of newspapers he’d thrown into the firepit, then carefully added splinters of eucalyptus. When it blazed up, he said, “Throw on some orange branches; let’s get this thing roaring.”

Saundra said, “The fire’ll be great for the kabobs. We’ll roast pieces of pork, along with onions and green peppers.”

Melanie said, “Hey, you guys, pick up a skewer and load it up with meat and pieces of vegetable. There’s some bacon over here. We’re not going to do it for you.”

Sally said, “Why don’t we have a prayer before we eat?” People paused, bowed their heads, and she prayed a spontaneous prayer of thanks. (Calvary people always prayed spontaneous prayers.) Sally was not only pretty, social, intelligent; she also had the requisite Fundamentalist piety. At that moment Shawn thought to himself, I think I’m in love.

People grabbed their skewer sticks and loaded on pork pieces and vegetables. Everybody sat around the firepit roasting kabobs.

After dinner people took marshmallows to roast. Saundra cut the chocolate cake in pieces. “There’s more Pepsi, you guys. There’s some orange in there too.” Calvary was no-alcohol. Some of the guys occasionally imbibed, but never here, never with their church friends.

People ate cake and marshmallows. It was really dark now, and the seaward breeze had blown away the smog. The air chilled and the bonfire began to feel good as everybody sat around talking. Someone started Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version of “Michael, row the boat ashore…” We sang at church, so we had to sing here also.

Shawn saw Sally walking down to the edge of the rising waves, and followed her. His low social skills and low self-confidence with girls set his heart beating fast. “Great luau. Thanks for fixing the food.”

“Oh; Saundra and Melanie did most of it. It was good.”

“Are you accepted to BIOLA Bible?

“Yeah; but I’m also looking at Multnomah School of the Bible. Are you still going to Moody Bible?”

Shawn told her he hoped so. “I love the idea of going east—I’ve never been east of Texas. Old brick and stone buildings, snow, thunderstorms, and miles of corn fields. Moody has a great aviation program. I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m not accepted. Mission aviation—-that’s all I want to do.”

Shawn wondered, was he talking too much about himself? Let Sally talk.

“Roddy’s going to Fullerton JC to study business.”

Roddy? Shawn hated it when Sally talked about him. What did she really think of Rod? They’d gone out a few times; how serious were they? Rod swam in, walked back up the beach and lay on a towel, exhausted. Shawn accidently kicked sand in his face.

Sally had come with Melanie, but she rode home with Rod. Shawn and Bill left together with Cindy, who needed a ride home.

A great luau, but what Shawn really cared about was Sally—-and it looked as if she was slipping through his fingers.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for August, 2017


“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
August, 2017                                                 James Hurd      

 

Contents

  • New blog article: Twin Trials in Texts
  • Writer’s Corner
  • Book and Film reviews
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes

*****************************************

New blog article: Twin Trials in Texas

 I guess I was too overconfident that Sunday afternoon in 1965. I’d only flown the Cessna 310 a couple of times, and now I had three passengers aboard and was shutting one engine down. But even when I wound up the other engine to full power, the airplane continued sinking toward the earth. What could I do to save us…?

 Read more here:   https://jimhurd.com/

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

 

Writers’ Corner

Writer of the Month: The Venerable Bede. Seventh-century English scholar who wrote the amazing Ecclesiastical History of the English People. He is referred to as “The father of English history.” Buried in splendor in the Durham Cathedral, England.

Word of the Month:   Beats: Short interruptions in dialogue that reveal something about the speaker.

Example: “I’m ready for this!” Jane lowered her head, folding and unfolding her hands.

As you revise your piece, try highlighting the beats.

Quiz of the Month: When do you use a hyphen, an “en” dash, and an “em” dash? [The hyphen is the shortest, then the “en” dash, then the longest, the “em” dash.)

 Last month’s quiz: What’s the difference between flaunt and flout?
Answer: They’re spelled differently. (Just kidding!) Flaunt means ostentatious display. Flout means to ignore, disobey. “He flaunted the fact that he regularly flouted college regulations.”

 Tip of the Month:

“Always use ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ …     Except when either your weird feisty neighbor or his eight foreign heirs forfeit their beige heifers and seize freight. A good label for this mess: “fun for new English speakers.”

 

Book and Film Reviews

Death of a Salesman. A 1940s Arthur Miller play about a family, organized around their salesman father, Willy Loman. Aging Willy, full of a salesman’s optimistic counsel to his two sons, is the last person to discover he’s washed up. Intense family drama.
The Shack (book and movie). A grieving father gets to take his complaints to the tribune of the Trinitarian God in a wilderness shack—and gets much more than he bargained for.
 

Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 

Quotable quotes

Faint praise for other people’s books:

♠   “I can find only three things wrong with your book—the beginning, the middle, and the end.”

♠    “I’ve read your book, and much like it.”

♠    “Your book has several gripping moments, punctuated by boring half hours.”

♠    “Thank you for sending me your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.”

 

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Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Twin Troubles in Texas

I guess I was too overconfident that Sunday afternoon in 1965. I’d only flown the Cessna 310 a couple of times, and now I had three passengers aboard and was shutting one engine down. But even when I wound up the other engine to full power, the airplane continued sinking toward the earth. What could I do to save us?

 

The day before, I’d landed at Dumas, Texas, near my Uncle John’s ranch. He said he would be traveling, so I called Charlie, who managed the 1,500 acres of corn and cattle on Derrick Ranch. I circled overhead and gunned the engines, signaling Charlie to drive out and pick me up at the airport.

Driving back to the ranch, we sat in Charlie’s green pickup truck passing acres of beef cow ranches and the donkey pumpers scattered over vast oilfields. Soon we rolled through the ranch gate with the wrought-iron oil derrick design on top, the branding iron shape for Uncle John’s 4,000 head of Hereford cattle.

Charlie was a few years older than I, a farmer’s farmer—disheveled brown hair, a crooked grin, high-topped work shoes, and a gentle manner.

He told me, “You can drive our tractor to compress down the corn silage in that open pit over there; then I’ll give you my .22 to hunt rabbits.”

It was fun driving, but I endangered no rabbits that afternoon. In the evening I had dinner with Charlie’s family, then he and I went to the Dumas drive-in to see In the Heat of the Night. The only part I remember now is the policeman looking into the house at the bare-breasted woman.

Charlie, his dad, and brother were eager to see the ranch from the air, so on Sunday the four of us drove out to the airport. Nobody asked any questions—they trusted me. Feeling the heat radiating up from the tarmac, I walked around the airplane checking fuel drains, control surfaces, tires. We took off, and soon soared above the Texas panhandle. I switched the fuel valve from main tanks to aux tanks, planning to later switch back to the mains. We turned toward the ranch and circled over the tiny houses.

I said to Charlie, “I want to practice some single-engine work, so we’ll climb up to 4,000 feet.” Charlie nodded as if this was perfectly normal.

When we reached our altitude, I pulled back the right throttle and watched the right prop slow to windmill speed—a big, useless spinning disk. Immediately a shrill horn blared—the airplane thought we were going to land and was complaining that the landing gear was not extended, so I lowered the landing gear to silence the horn.  To help us maintain altitude I added full power on the left engine.

Then I feathered the right propeller, watching it slow and stop, the blades aligning with the slipstream. This reduced drag and the airplane sprang forward.

We made a couple of circles; then I tried to start the dead engine. I cranked and cranked. Nothing. Cranked and cranked some more. Puzzling how fast we were losing altitude on one engine. Charlie and friends were oblivious, staring at the tiny panorama below. “There’s no irrigation water running on that side of the cornfield…. Hey; there’s Mom walking across the yard!”

Although I had full power on the left engine we were still sinking fast. Why? Probably because we were near gross weight, I reasoned, and because the day was hot.

I furiously scanned the gauges, checking and rechecking to discover why the right engine wouldn’t restart. I cranked and cranked again—nothing. By now we were getting really low—about 1500 feet. Sweaty palms. I turned around and said to my passengers with a false smile, “We’ll land on one engine.” Their smiles and nods told me they were thinking that pilots do this all the time.

I was late making the one-engine landing decision, and we had only one chance to land because the airplane wouldn’t climb. My brow glistened and my heart pounded. Maneuvering to enter downwind leg for runway 19, I began my prelanding check. At that moment I discovered two things.

When I ran down the checklist to “fuel valve” I discovered that both valves remained on “aux” tank. I had plenty of fuel in these, but, since neither aux tank had an electric boost pump, no fuel was feeding up to the engine-driven fuel pump! I switched both tanks to “main,” and cranked the right engine again. The feathered right prop immediately spun and the dead engine started.

Relief. I could now make a normal landing. I continued my checklist by pushing the gear lever, but it was already down! I remembered I had put it down when I heard the annoying “gear up” horn. So that was why we were losing so much alititude!

We glided in to an uneventful landing.

 

Sometimes pilots brood. That night I lay in bed chastened and humbled. How could I have made two stupid mistakes? Well, I hadn’t had enough respect for the complexity of a twin engine airplane, and should have spent more time reading the manual, especially the part about the complicated fuel system—two main tip tanks and an aux tank in each wing, a crossfeed system to allow feeding one engine from the opposite tank, and especially the part about no submerged boost pump in the aux tanks; you can only start an engine on the main tank!

And when I was having trouble starting the dead engine, I should have gone through a more thorough checklist. Then I would have caught the landing gear issue.

I fell into a fitful sleep.

WINGSPREAD E-zine for July, 2017

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”
July, 2017                                                                                                         James Hurd      

 Contents

  • New blog article: “Multiengine Multitasking”
  • Writer’s Corner
  • E-zine subscription information
  • How to purchase Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying
  • Quotable quotes

*****************************************

New blog article:  Multiengine Multitasking

At Moody Wood Dale Airport, humid summer arrived with her long, languid days. I relished the cut grass smell , and I loved seeing the tethered training aircraft rocking in the wind. We constantly eyed the skies. Sometimes a squall blew through, erasing the heavy humidity and bringing a bracing breeze. and the strong, whipping winds that beat the windsock into a frenzy, The towering cumulus transformed into black thunderheads that unleashed their tremendous downpours.

That summer capped an amazing two years. I remembered my anxiety during early private pilot training, the constant fear of washing out, the training for commercial pilot and flight instructor that demanded sharper skills. But this last summer I longed for something that seemed out of reach —- a multiengine rating. Time was running out, twin engine time was expensive, and no instructor was available….

 Read more here:   https://jimhurd.com/2017/07/07/multiengine-multitasking/

(*Request: Please share with others, and leave a comment on the website after reading the article. Thanks.)

Writers’ Corner

Writers love other writers, their books, and their words. So…

Writer of the Month: Patricia Cornhill. She writes crime novels featuring her heroine, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner. She says, “It’s important for me to live in the world I want to write about. If I want a character to do or know something, I try to do or know the same thing.” She lives in New York City. Other of her books: Postmortem, Hornet’s Nest, Southern Cross. Cornwell has also done a biography of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham.

Book of the Month: Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell. A delicious novel featuring Kay Scarpetta as she closes in on the perpetrators of two murders. Rich descriptions of people and places. Deep psychological excursions. Some violence, but no gratuitous sex. Pocket Books, New York. 1991.

Word of the Month: moodle: To dawdle aimlessly; idle time away. Example: He moodled about, waiting until she appeared at the door.

Quiz of the Month: What’s the difference between flauted and flaunted?

 (Last month’s quiz: What does the thesaurus bird eat for supper?  Answer: A synonym roll)

Tip of the Month: Ya gotta do research. Of course, some things are undiscoverable now—the color of your grandmother’s dress on May 15, 1959, or what your best friend said to you that night when you were both 15, lying out on the beach. In these cases, trust your memory. But you must research what is discoverable—only because there’s that one reader somewhere, sometime, who was there, and knows it wasn’t “Woodale,” but “Wood Dale,” knows that the runway designator for John Wayne Airport is 20, not 18. You lose credibility, especially if the careful reader blabs about your mistake. Dorothy Sayers, after writing The Nine Taylors, her great novel about bellringing in English cathedrals, confessed that she had made 31 mistakes about the art of bellringing! (Somebody outed her.) So, the rule is, do your research.

English is a crazy language

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

P.S. Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’?
Subscribe free to this E-zine   Click here https://jimhurd.com/home/  to subscribe to Wingspread  E-magazine sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

 Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood faith (the Fundamentalist variety) led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  https://jimhurd.com/home/  (or at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.)
See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying: http://www.pinterest.com/hurd1149/wingspread-of-faith-and-flying/

 Quotable quotes

♠   I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.              Anonymous

♠   What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.                        C.S. Lewis

♠   I don’t believe in astrology. We Scorpios aren’t taken in by such things.
Doug Weller

♠   To pray only when we feel like it is more to seek consolation than to risk conversion.           Joan Chittister

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Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread E-zine, send an email to hurd@usfamily.net and say in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.