Monday, June 26, 2017

Little House on the Prairie

More from my scanning project. This one was shot at my grandparents house, probably 1969 or 1970. A not-so-big house, before it was fashionable. Three rooms down (one unheated), two rooms up (almost unheated.) A little attic behind the paired windows. Outhouse in the barn. I had never printed it—there was a flaw in the negative (easily fixed nowadays.) But there was more than just the house. Zooming in, I saw my grandmother, by the pump, talking to my father. My little sister was walking into the house. Another warm summer day, one of many spent there in my childhood, although my childhood would soon end as I was soon to move out on my own. My grandfather died soon after, then my grandmother had to leave the little house; the world had changed. It was no longer safe to leave your house alone, burglaries were rampant in the countryside. Little sis became quite a handful in her teen years, but that's another story.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Reader - Week 25


Coroner’s Report on Andrew J. Larson, WM, DOB 10-21-60, DOD, 7-10-15

Subject had been admitted for observation after an apparent mental breakdown, was administered an anti-psychotic drug which stopped his agitation. Subject was examined the next day, was alert and responsive, but would not, or could not speak. The next morning he was found in his holding cell, unresponsive. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. No sign of trauma on the body. Suspect appeared to have been in fair physical condition, with a general muscular atrophy typical of a sedentary lifestyle. Blood and tissue tests showed no trace of drugs or poisons, his stomach was empty. Full autopsy revealed no obvious cause of death. Subject probably died of a non-symptomatic heart condition. Awaiting further tests.
The homicide detective didn’t understand why he had been assigned to do a follow-up on the death of this guy. Not the kind of thing he would normally handle. Nevertheless his boss wanted a background report on the house and anything it, just in case there would be any complications on this affair. There were three other deaths in the holding area over the last couple of years, CYA.

The house was a nondescript 50s Cape Cod, just like all the other ones on the block. The grass had been recently mowed, no flowers, only a pair of Arbor Vitae—one on either side of the front step.& The detective went around to the side of the house. He looked in the garage. He saw an older Camry sitting amidst the usual clutter of yard tools. He would check that out later. He had the key to the house, part of the late Mr. Larson’s effects when he was picked up. Letting himself into the kitchen, he noticed the decor—lots of pink, probably original. The air in the house was stale, but it didn’t stink. On the table was a pile of papers. Looking through them, he quickly realized that they were stories. He picked up the top one and began to read:

                    The Best Day of My Life

My high-school “rock band” had been together for almost two years. The first year was pretty bad, but the junior high sock-hops where we played didn’t have the most discerning audiences. In the second year, when we could actually play a lot better, we had been playing for teen dances at KC Halls and had even opened a few shows for some of the more “famous” local bands. It was October of our junior year and the school’s homecoming celebration was coming up. Tom, one of the guys in the band, had become friendly with Susan, who was already becoming a singer of note at the local Baptist Church. She had worked up an old soul song from the 60s with three of her friends and needed a band to back them. The guys in the band thought it would be a great idea, we worked up the song and then invited them over to our practice space (in the drummer's basement) to rehearse. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it took a lot of nerve for four teen-aged black girls to walk through our lily-white neighborhood at night. The rehearsal went well, we were ready.

Homecoming was the biggest thing at our school, there were two assemblies, we played for the older grades. We waited nervously backstage as they held the coronation ceremony (Sweet and Lovely was sung) and I practiced my parts on my unamplified electric guitar over and over. We played first, I can't remember what song it was, and then they introduced “The Upsetters” and the roar from the crowd triggered a state of hyper-awareness in me. I had never felt so alive. Our drummer counted it off and did a little intro and the band joined in. We played through the changes once and then Susan came in with a decidedly womanly wail:
Whenever I'm with him
Something inside
Starts to burning
And I'm filled with desire
Could it be a devil in me
Or is this the way love's supposed to be?
The emotional roller coaster had started picking up momentum:
It's like a HEATWAVE
Burning in my heart
I can't keep from crying
It's tearing me apart
And then a little reprieve:
Whenever he calls my name
Soft, low, sweet and plain
Right then, right there
I feel that burning flame
Has high blood pressure's got a hold on me
Or is this the way love's supposed to be?
Another emotional peak:
It's like a HEATWAVE
Burning in my heart
I can't keep from crying
It's tearing me apart
Then the other girls came in, ganging up on us:

Then Susan returned, baring her heart:
Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face
I can't explain it, don't understand it
Ain't never felt like this before
Now that funny feeling has me amazed
I don't know what to do, my head's in a haze
And then, in all her glory, Susan wailing, moaning, with the girls urging her on, more and more, right to the end:
It's like a HEATWAVE
Burning in my heart
(Like a heatwave)
Can't keep from cryin'
(Like a heatwave)
It's tearing me apart
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
(But it's all right girl)
(Go ahead girl)
Yeah Yeah
(Well it's all right girl)
Hoo, Yeah
(Ain't nothing but love girl)
I feel it burning
(Don't pass up this chance)
Right here in my heart
It's like a HEATWAVE
Looking back, I realize that on that day it was the closest that we ever got to being liberated from the societal chains that kept us bound in our predefined roles, never meeting again that way, never, never

Underneath the last page, attached with a paperclip, was a blurry old snapshot:

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Two Women Without a Man

Scanning some old family snapshots, I came across the above image. From 1944, my mother is on the right with one of her friends. It was an interesting time. With millions of men away, there were millions of young women working in factories, many of them right off the farm, and living independently for the first time, with new opportunities. The album contains many pictures of my mother with her friends—they were having the time of their lives. But this picture was special, when I turned it over I found this inscription to my mother:

Needless to say, my mother never talked about having had any “special” girlfriends, her own “honey bun.” In little over a year after the picture was taken the war would be over and the girls would drift apart, most of them getting married and starting families.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” said The Weaver when I showed her the picture and the inscription. Well, maybe it doesn’t mean something specific, but it does have meaning.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Woman With(out) a Man

Auður prepares to meet the masses, Reykjavík, October 2015

Please don't tell, no-no-no
Don't say that I told you so
I just heard a rumor from a friend
I don't say that it's true
I'll just leave that up to you
If you don't believe I'll understand
You recall a girl that's been in nearly every song
This is what I heard, of course the story could be wrong
She's the one, I've been told
Now, she's wearing a band of gold
Peggy Sue got married not long ago ~ Buddy Holly
13 years ago I began to read the blog of a young woman who had some "issues" with men. We corresponded and actually met once way back when. She described herself as a "Woman Without a Man" , a callow youth, but no longer. Over the years I've watched from afar as she matured and have seen her personality grow, along with a new vocation: personally welcoming thousands of people who visit her magical isle.

“Audi” got married last week.  I’m sending you her best wishes and hope that she and her husband have a long and happy life together.

Bless, Bless.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Reader - Week 24


              Admission Summary: Andrew Larson, WM, DOB 10-21-60

Police were called to William’s Pub, “A man acting strangely”, subject had been ejected from the pub after reacting to the bouncer’s request for a cover charge. Subject insisted that the bouncer had been murdered the night before, that subject had been interviewed by police as a witness. No recorded incident of any kind in police records for the previous evening. Subject began to harangue police officers, but was incapable of making any sensible remarks. He was not considered a threat to the public, and was transferred to County Welfare agents for transport to the county medical facility for observation. Subject apparently under persecution delusions, thinking that a murder had been covered up, that his girlfriend, known only as ’Jennifer’ was being stalked and may have been abducted by a man from a former relationship. Injected 50MG Thorazine, subject became calm and was placed in holding cell to be evaluated in the morning.

Andy woke up alone, in a cell. He had had a variety of dreams, of having been arrested and given an injection, but he could not verbalize what had happened to him. He sat on the edge of the cot, his head reeling, trying to make sense of the previous 24 hours. An orderly came in with a breakfast tray: Orange juice, oatmeal, toast, and a glass of water. He couldn’t eat. After a short time, the orderly returned and took the tray, saying nothing. A guard came in and signaled that Andy should get up and follow him. Andy could barely stand, but did manage to leave the room and walk down the hall, ultimately arriving at an examination room.

The room had a desk, with three chairs on one side, and one chair on the other. Behind the chairs was a large one-way mirror. The guard motioned to the single chair. Andy grasped the table as he sat down, he felt as if he didn’t grab something he would keep going down until he hit the floor. There was a window in the room that overlooked a drab courtyard surrounded by blank walls. After a short wait, three men holding notebooks and wearing lab coats entered the room and sat down opposite Andy.

“Good Morning, Mr. Larson. How are you feeling?” said the man on Andy’s left.

Andy could think of what to say, but was unable to talk. He made a sign with his hands as if he were writing with a pencil.

“Can you tell us your name?” said the man in the center.

Andy shook his head and repeated his pencil movements.

“I’m sorry, it is not possible to give you writing tools at this time,“ said the third man, “We’ll meet again, tomorrow, you might be able to talk then.”

And the left the room. The guard came in and brought Andy back to his cell and locked the door.

Andy began to cry.

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


The other night, while on one of my evening rambles, a car-full of teens pulled up to me and asked if I was a “local.” They were looking for the old insane asylum. I gave them vague directions and asked if they were looking to make a “deposit.” They laughed, and then asked if there were any other haunted places in town that I knew of. I had a little chuckle myself at that question; the whole town is haunted—if you know where to look:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Big Daddy Wag’s

Minnepaul Music

The neighborhood music store was a popular place in the late 60s. There was always a social aspect that one didn’t find in the downtown stores. Coupled with a fair amount of herbal enhancement, one of these was truly bizarre. Wagener Music was in a converted storefront, home of “Vox Village” where one could buy all the harsh-sounding Super Beatles one could afford, or, if you were friendly with “Big Daddy”, he’d let you borrow a WHOLE BAND’S WORTH for that ‘special’ gig. Hearsay had it that he sometimes had a stash of Mexican weed upstairs in the safe for his “regulars”. He even sold televisions!

Needless to say, inventory control problems sprang up and this place only lasted a couple of years. Much more on this legendary establishment here.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2