My Brief Driving Career #socs

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I took Driver’s Ed in high school, because it was a required course. I did well in the Rules of the Road portion, but I had the misfortune of drawing possibly the worst driving instructor in history for my time behind the wheel. Illinois High School Association rules stated that all coaches had to be full-time teachers at the school, and Mr. G, who was the defensive line coach, had no college degree, so they made him a driving instructor. He had a quick temper and any small mistake behind the wheel led to him yelling and generally making me feel like pulling the car over, getting out and walking home. He convinced me that I had a depth perception problem and probably should never drive.

A few years later, I was a supervisor at a food plant, and one of my jobs was driving a forklift. I told the personnel manager about my experience with Mr. G and was ordered to see an optometrist to ensure that I wouldn’t drive a forklift off the loading dock. After giving me the test, my optometrist muttered something about idiot Driver’s Ed instructors and certified me safe to drive.

I still didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 28 and working a job in which I traveled heavily and had to rent cars. I was a reasonably good driver, and got lots of experience driving to and from client sites and out in search of food and entertainment In the evenings. Many trips between Atlanta and Chicago made me a confident motorist.

The last time I drove was the day that I had a stroke. From that point on, Mary has done all the driving. I was tested by a person who would re-certify me, and while I got through that, I was presented with a 5-page document telling me the modifications I had to make to our van, I decided it wasn’t worth it. One Sunday morning, I asked Mary if I could try driving the van. I was barely able to climb in on the driver’s side and couldn’t operate the gear shift. At that point, somewhat tearfully, I admitted I couldn’t do it, and that was that.

You know, I was friends with several defensive linemen in high school. I should have asked them to have a talk with their coach…

From their 1984 album Heartbeat City, The Cars with "Drive."

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Bert and Harry about Piels beer.

Young and Rubicam came up with this ad campaign, featuring "Bert" and "Harry" Piel, voiced by Bob and Ray (Bob voiced Harry, Ray voiced Bert).

Of Yarn And Cats #socs

Mary knits and crochets, so there’s always yarn and other knitting paraphernalia (needles, crochet hooks, stitch markers, tape measures etc.) floating around in the living room. This was a problem when we had more than one cat, especially when we had Sherman.


Given half a chance, all of our cats would grab hold of Mary’s projects and drag them all over the living room, undoing a couple of hours’ work in the space of a few minutes. Sherman, however, was an artist. He would wrap it around table legs and make sure the entire living room was decorated with what used to be something Mary was working on.

Mary finally got smart and put her projects on the mantel. The first time or so, she was still coming down to yarn all over the floor. One day, she was working on a project and watched as Sherman got on a chair that we had placed in front of the fireplace (which we never use, anyway) and climbed onto the back of it, where he could reach the project she had left there, drag it down to the floor, and then begin to deconstruct it.

We moved the chair away from the mantel. Problem solved. Sherman then found a new hobby: fighting with the other cats…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about Budweiser beer. It’s worth it… it’s Budweiser!

Thoughts Collected #socs

Image by JayMantri from Pixabay

Remember calling collect? You’d tell the operator that you wanted to make a collect call and give them the number and, optionally, the name of the person you’d want to talk to. The operator in turn would call the number and announce that she had a collect call for anyone at that number, or for the specific person, and would ask if they would accept the charges. A lot of times people had it set up so that if they heard it was you, they’d know you were home and refuse the call. No reason to do anything else. I wonder if they figured out how much money they were losing because people were doing that? They probably didn’t care.

Now everyone has a cellphone with unlimited minutes, so they don’t do that anymore. Although I guess if you called them and asked them nicely they would do it.

Remember how, if your phone was broken, they gave you a number (ours was 611) to call to get someone to come to the house and check the phone and the lines? It used to confuse me. I mean, how could you call them if your phone was down? I asked my mother, and she thought I was being a smartass. Someone finally explained that you’d call from a neighbor’s phone or from a payphone. Oh. Duh.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. And now a word from Schlitz, the beer that made Milwaukee famous!

In Your Grocer’s Freezer #socs

First, a short video by my buddy Pete Kastanes, who has lots of videos and advertisements from stores that no longer exist in the Chicago area. A few of them are highlighted in the video:

It seems not long ago that there were many more ads on prime time TV about food items and cleaners that you could buy at your local grocery store. Daytime TV was loaded with them. Now it seems like prime time ads are mostly for cars and pharmaceuticals and daytime ads are for lawyers and trade schools.

I spent a lot of time in grocery stores (more correctly supermarkets, but that’s not a word with roc in it) when I lived at home. Mom would send me to the store with a list, and I’d buy whatever was on it. It always took me a little longer to do the shopping, because I’d get distracted looking at all the products that I had seen on TV and in the newspaper ads, just wondering what all the fuss was about. What made this cleaner better than that one, or this dessert tastier and those TV dinners more nutritious? And what kind of things could I find that seemed just a little strange to find in a grocery store?

Amazing how easily amused I was…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. So much better for so little more!

There Is Nothing Quite As Wonderful As Money #socs

Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay

I have my retirement nest egg invested in mutual funds. Most of the funds are growth funds, where I was willing not to receive dividends in hopes that the value of the fund will increase over time. Any dividends I did receive from a fund would be used to buy more shares in the fund. The risk in doing this is that sometimes the value of the fund would go down, but that was a risk I was willing to take, because I was investing for the long run, and over the long run the odds were that the value would go up.

Now that I’m over 65, I should change my strategy and invest in income funds, where the value of the investment remains (more or less) constant and I get paid a dividend. The idea is that I am willing to forgo the growth in favor of the cash dividend.

So, at some point in the future, I’ll be doing that. Wish me luck.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about Busch Bavarian Beer. The late one is still a great one!