When I was just a wee lad, I lay in bed at nights and dream. On some occasions, they were interrupted by warm streams that ran down my legs and soaked the sheets. No, I wasn’t dreaming of a bath or a swim in the ocean; I had not yet conquered the battle with my bladder. However, it did come before too much longer. Those nighttime events either exhilarated me or scared me to death.

Many nights I dreamed that without effort I could rise and fly into the sky. My soaring in the blue took me to views of our house and yard that I’d never before experienced. I suppose that being confined to the home place brought security in the dream. Sometimes I pretended to be a Superman as I jumped from the roof of the house. At other times, I ran along the yard and felt a sense of weightlessness take me over.

In another dream, my family rode in our old ‘54 Chevrolet on our way to some unknown destination. The ride always included a climb up some steep incline. Sitting in the back seat, I never could see the road ahead, something that made me feel nervous. We’d finally reach the top, but to my utter horror, the road would end, and the car plummeted to the ground hundreds of feet below. That same sense of weightlessness existed in this dream, but it was anything but thrilling.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I used to dream that I had been shot. Yep, I could feel the pain from the blast, and when I looked down, there in the middle of my stomach would be the shell casing from a shotgun. What was even weirder was the fact that the would-be assassins were cartoon characters, usually cats from the old “Mighty Mouse” series. The pain from the wound subsided, but I spent most of the dream trying to dig the thing out of me.

I’ve heard that this next dream is common. To my fright, I would arrive at elementary school wearing nothing but my “whitey-tidies.” I’d look down to discover my awkward plight and try in a thousand ways to cover up my naked, fat body. I suffered through the entire ordeal and
found relief only when something awakened me.

In later years, I dreamed of girls, but let’s just skip that. In adulthood, I’ve most often dreamed about being once again with my parents or older brother who have been gone for years. Just seeing them was a joyful experience, although I never remember having touched them, and they rarely, if ever, spoke. My lowest point would be when I awoke to realize that all had been but a dream. That made me miss them all the more.

According to psychologists and other folks who have studied dreams, these night-time mental movies are products of our subconscious. Interpretations of dreams abound. Flying in a dream symbolizes either freedom or lack of it. Falling in a dream might symbolize the feeling of being out of control in life or in a particular situation. I think it just reaffirms my fear of heights and of all roller coasters. Everyone has heard that appearing naked in a dream is symbolic of the fear we all have for being our real selves in life. It has also been said to represent our fear of being ridiculed or disgraced. Being shot indicates that a person wishes to get rid of some aspect of himself. I think it might simply be a fear of weapons. Last, dreams about loved ones who have died is nothing more that missing those folks and wishing that they were still around.

These days, my trouble isn’t the dreams I have. Now, I can’t remember them. I might have had a spectacular venture in a night, but all that’s left the next morning is a clouded memory or fragments of the entire thing. Supposedly, some dreams last only short periods of time. They seem like epic movies to me. I’m in no hurry to find out what it’s like, but someday I hope I receive a pair of wings like Clarence did in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Then I’ll know for sure that exhilaration that has only been present in my dreams.


Isn’t it wonderful to land that first full time job? The security that comes with a steady paycheck and affordable insurance is life-changing. We start off planning to be the best employees in the organization and want to stay with the company until retirement. Somehow, that doesn’t happen as much these days. Too many workers are being “kicked to the curb.”

Businesses aren’t as stable as they once were. They are subject to moves to other states or
countries whenever better deals for investors comes along. At the end of the week, pink slips are passed out, and workers who have poured years into a company are suddenly unemployed. Many have limited education and few technological skills that might make them marketable as they look for new jobs.

Mergers also lead to massive reductions in forces. Employees are cut loose because duplication of jobs isn’t cost effective. An individual can find himself odd-man-out, even though his abilities far exceed those of the person who has been kept in the position. Politics in the workplace doesn’t necessarily promote fairness. The outlook for a long-time employee is bleak when competitive companies merge into one giant corporation. The move is wonderful for investors but lousy for the employees who have been let go, even though their efforts helped the company to become such a success.

In present times, a meaner, dirtier thing is happening to long-standing, dedicated employees. CEO’s and managers in too many instances look for ways to get rid of older workers. Forget the fact that they are excellent workers. Never mind that they have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their positions and about customer bases. They are old,
and too many of them make the company look old as well. The desired appearance for these companies is one that exudes youth and energy. So, the plan is to replace the old workers with young people. This new work force can fill the positions, but can they be as productive? Ask management in most businesses this question, and you’ll be told that too often young workers come with high expectations for salaries but weak or nonexistent work ethics. The training period also is long, and that means too many hours are unproductive and unprofitable.

Some might say that replacing old workers with younger ones is an act of age discrimination. Possibly that is true, but companies have figured out ways around the law. They simply declare that positions have been eliminated. Then they post the same basic jobs under new titles. The companies then save on salaries and benefits paid out to older workers. Meanwhile, a seasoned veteran with years of experience is out of a job, and because of his age, the prospects of landing a new one are slim at best. The golden years of retirement suddenly fade as part time jobs are taken to pay for mortgages, bills, and health insurance.

We all realize that times and conditions change. Companies grow and modernize. Somehow, however, it doesn’t seem right to dump experienced workers in the process. Maybe doing so makes good business sense, but it lacks any trace of concern for humans. Of course, ethical behavior too often negatively affects the bottom line. Let’s hope that those who make the decisions for companies will discover their consciences and try to find a happy medium between profits and human welfare. No, older workers can’t hold back a company’s efforts to growth with the future, but they deserve some kind of consideration after all the good they have given the business for so many years.


I like mowing the yard. Sitting on a riding lawnmower or pushing a mower or trimming with a weed eater is when I do some of my best thinking. I’ve solved some of my own problems and come up with answers to world dilemmas while cutting blades of grass. The only hold up for me is that my luck with small engine equipment is nil. Most of the time, at least one of my machines is idle due to some malfunction.

As most folks now know, I am void of any knowledge of engines. On some occasions, I’ve tinkered with that little screw adjustment on the carburetor. Most often, my attempts to play Mr. Fix It end in the engine not running at all. Any sputtering that might have occurred is replaced with silence; the darn thing won’t start.

I own two mowers. The first is a twenty-year-old John Deere riding mower. For years it cut my mother’s grass, as well as mine. That equated to about two and one-half acres. Now the
mower is used only at my house, but since I bought a piece of land that my mother had sold neighbors years ago, I still mow a bit more than two acres. This old mower is used to cut grass and weeds in wooded areas on either side of my house. In the fall, I grind up piles of leaves from the small forest. It’s dusty work, so frequent oil changes and air filter replacements are needed. Those simple things I can perform.

This summer, the belt tension rod broke. Actually, the thing wore away from constant rubbing on other metal and from years of vibrations that come with driving over root-filled, uneven ground. I purchased a new rod assembly which consisted of a metal rod and spring; the cost was $95 plus tax. Sticker shock hit, but to fix the mower, the part was necessary.
After getting the thing on the mowing deck, I couldn’t put the belt back on. I even printed out a diagram of how it should go on, but only when my good friend Joe Dooley came by did I see how the thing weaved itself around the pulleys.

I reattached the deck to the mower and put the drive belt back in place. It seemed too loose, so I called Bill Pate to ask if some adjustment should be made. He stopped by on his way home from the doctor, took one look, and informed me that the clutch was shot. Another trip to the parts store ended with pouring out another $200+. Of course, I was at the mercy of Bill to come by and remove the old one and install the new one.

My other mower is a zero-turn John Deere. I use it on the yard around my house. Sometimes I am forced to use it on the rest of the yard when the old mower is broken. Right after the warranty expired, the mowing deck cracked. I was informed that the cause was my washing it off while it was hot. HUH? I’m not handy, but neither am I an idiot. However, the
store from which I bought the machine would not stand behind the thing. (No, I won’t buy anything else from that dealer located on my side of town.)

Lately, the engine has been burning oil. I have to add the stuff every time I mow. This mower has approximately 275 hours of use on it, and it has been serviced as recommended. New mowers cost about $4000, so my only recourse is to run the one I have until it blows up. Then a new engine can be put on the thing...by someone else to whom I will pay a labor bill.

Blowers, weed eaters, pressure washers, and hedge trimmers all sit on shelves until I can afford to have them repaired. My inability to fix those machines is costing me a small fortune. This is another instance where I only wish I’d have taken a small engine class years ago; if only I knew then what I know now. As it is, my equipment sits idle and my yard looks awful until spare cash is found.


The other day Joe Dooley and I substituted at Hardin Valley Academy. We sat on benches in the foyer, and before long, Rick Collett ambled up. The three of us spent many years together on the faculty at Karns High School. We looked like the old guys that sit in the shade of a small town courthouse. All that was missing were whittling sticks and knives. We’re relics that don’t fit with the modern technology of today’s schools.

For most of my teaching career, I instructed classes by writing on a blackboard. The trays for the boards were filled with dust, erasers, and half a dozen pieces of chalk. At the end of the day, the blackboards were cloudy from the erasing of material and needed to be cleaned with water and a soft rag.

Toward the end of my teaching years, white boards were installed. They weren’t of the highest quality since the low bids on everything were accepted in the school system. I bought my own markers since the one we received soon ran dry. That stuff never came off the whiteboard easily. I cleaned with alcohol, water, and even lemon furniture polish, all things that other teachers recommended. By the end of the year, the white board looked more like a gray board.

We teachers had to check out overhead projectors. They were bulky things that ran hot quickly and needed to be moved to the back of the room to fit the screen that we pulled down over the boards. Material also had to be oriented a certain way or it projected upside down. Without fail, the bulb for the contraption burned out in the middle of a class, something that blew up a lesson plan.

If we showed a video, our first move was to reserve a television and VCR or DVD player from the library. With help from another teacher or student, I sometimes managed to get the red, yellow, and white connectors plugged in the right holes. At the end of the day, I had to rush the cart and equipment back to the library and hope that it would be available for the following day so classes could finish viewing the movie.

Technology crawled into the classroom. Teachers received desktop computers. They were heavy, bulky machines with tiny screens. Faculty members were excited to have technology that would help us become better teachers. The kicker was that no or limited Internet services were available. The computers crashed too often, a fact that led to our having to redo much of the work on which we had already spent large chunks of time.

Today, schools are high tech places. Smart boards have replaced blackboards and white boards. They are attached to projection systems that allow teachers to show movies, worksheets, and other materials. Connected to DVD players, they function like televisions. In some classrooms, large flat-screen television, in addition to the boards, are available. Overhead projectors’ called “Elmo’s,” are now the size of a cell phone. Telescoping parts set up and a small light on a worksheet sends the material onto the smartboard. In addition, a calculator can somehow be displayed and all functions can be performed.

Every student seems to have a smartphone. They use them to recover classroom assignments or to research assigned topics. Who’d have ever thought that a phone could be used as a teaching tool? Not me. When I retired, teachers took up any phones that were out during the day. Now, they are vital parts of the classroom equipment. When students aren’t completing school requirements, they pull out their phones to text friends, play games, or enjoy music.

One of the reasons I left teaching was that I no longer had much in common with the students of today. Neither of us understood the other’s world or frame of reference. It was time for younger teachers to take over. Since that day of retirement, more than just the kids have changed. Technology has advanced so much that it’s left me in the dust. When I have to call on students to set up things so that I can show a video or simply write an assignment on the board, I feel old and completely left out. I’m just happy that I no longer am responsible for teaching material to teens. It would be a difficult assignment for me without my chalkboard and eraser.