Merle Haggard: From Prison to Country Music Hall of Fame



Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937 in Oildale, California. Merle’s parents James Francis and Flossie Mae Haggard had moved from Oklahoma three years earlier, when their barn burned during the Great Depression in 1934.

The album pictured above is one of the first Merle Haggard albums in my LP record collection.

Haggard lived out a lot of the songs he wrote and sang. He was a very prolific writer and wrote most of his major hits alone, but did collaborate on a few like Okie From Muskogee.

He grew up in a refrigerated box car, that had been converted into a house and was raised there, after being born in Kern General Hospital in Bakersfield, California according to his biography.

Left Home At Eleven

It was a jolt for Haggard when his father died, when he was only nine years old. Two years later he left home. His mother sent him to live with his great-uncle and great-aunt in Modesto, California.

He said that he really was 21 and in prison, but the part about life without parole was only used to fill out the line.

Haggard was not the kind to stay in one place long and talked two girls into hopping a freight train, that was headed to Los Angeles. They only had $5 so he bought what food he could to feed himself and the two girls.

Then they left the train and he stole a car by hot wiring it. Only problem was that the car traveled only five miles, before running out of gas, so they had to start walking. However, they were soon picked up by policeman in a squad car and Haggard refused to give his name, but the girls gave their names.

Ironically, when all three returned home they were kept from attending school, for three days by their parents.

Merle and some of his friends attempted a burglary of a Bakersfield bar in 1957 and he was meted out a sentence from six months to 15 years. At first he was a real troublemaker in prison, by being very uncooperative. This landed him in solitary for his 21st birthday. His time in solitary gave him the time he needed to get his act together and afterward he was a model prisoner. He was paroled at the age of 23 and then began his road to being a country music star. Governor Ronald Reagan would later give Haggard a full pardon.

A more recent photo of Merle Haggard.

Merle Haggard’s Music

His first Top 10 song would be (My Friends Are Going to Be (Strangers) in 1964, which went to #10 and is one of my favorite Merle Haggard songs. His first #1 hit was I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” in 1966. That would begin a string of 38 #1 hits from 1966-1987.

Even the great George Jones only had 14 #1 hits, so Haggard having 24 more songs reach the #1 spot tells me, that Haggard was even more popular than I had thought.

Surprisingly Swinging Doors, one of his biggest hits only climbed to #5 on the country music charts.

Branded Man would be his second #1 hit in 1967. He had too many #1 hits in his career, to mention all of them individually, but some of my personal favorites were Sing Me Back Home, Mama Tried, Mama’s Hungry Eyes, Workin’ Man Blues, Okie From Muskogee, Fightin’ Side of Me, If We Make It Through December, Big City (a song I never get tired of) and his last #1 hit Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Star.

His discography can be seen at this web page and when you scroll down to his list of singles, then you can see how successful he was during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in particular.


Personal Life

His personal life was not an easy one with four marriages, that lasted from 1956-1991. His second wife was country singer Bonnie Owens ex-wife of Buck Owens and she was a maid of honor, when he married his third wife. Haggard married another country Leona Williams in 1978 and they were divorced in 1983. He married Theresa Ann Lane on September 11, 1993 and they are still married 21 years later.

Haggard started smoking marijuana at the age of 41 and admitted buying $2,000 worth of cocaine in 1983. Part of his lung was removed in November of 2008, after he was discovered to have lung cancer.

Entered Country Music Hall of Fame

Twenty eight years after his first #1 hit I’m A Lonesome Fugitive Merle Haggard would be admitted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. The following link takes readers to his page at the Country Music Hall of Fame website:


Summary – Merle Haggard wrote a lot of songs, that had to do with his life experiences, probably more than any other country singer, since Hank Williams did in the 40’s and 50’s. Like Williams he wrote a lot of his music by himself. He wrote songs about what life was like for transplanted Oklahomans, that moved to California and songs about how it was to be hungry. He wrote songs about his time in prison and how it was difficult to be a part of society again, after being released and his songs about patriotism, Okie From Muskogee and Fightin’ Side of Me and songs like Big City and Workin’ Man Blues that told the plight of people working for a living. He is now recording for an obscure record label Epitaph, but it doesn’t mean we have heard the last of Merle Haggard. He showed us all that being in prison isn’t always a bad thing, as he said he was one of those that prison helped and he is a testament, of how someone can change and be successful, even after being in prison.


Cancer Surgery: A Year Later

Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas

This time last year I was in the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas. First, let me go back in time to some of the events that may have led to me having duodenal cancer.

May of 2012 was a traumatic time for us, after being evicted from our house in Sulphur, Louisiana. We then moved to DeRidder, Louisiana on July 20 and it took almost two weeks to move our belongings to a trailer. I think the eviction and move took a toll on me emotionally and physically. I truly feel that financial stress played a part, in me acquiring cancer last summer.

I began to lose an alarming number of pounds in July and would have lost 45 pounds by the time I entered the VA Hospital in Houston in October. I vomited 17 times in a two-day period, which contained blood. I went to the VA Hospital in Pineville, Louisiana and they thought at first that I had acid reflux, peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers and H pylori. I was sent home with various prescriptions that didn’t control the vomiting.

Finally on September 28 of 2012 I was admitted into the VA Hospital in Pineville and the next day September 29 they transported me via ambulance to the VA Hospital in Houston.

One of the first things they did in Houston was insert a tube down my throat and connected it to a container that received the contents of my stomach continuously to prevent any more vomiting. The inserting of the tube was one of the most stressful medical procedures done, while in the hospital and very uncomfortable having a tube, but it did prevent any further vomiting.

It took almost two weeks before the oncologist determined that I had duodenal cancer, after unsuccessful CT scan which was too cloudy because of a recent CT scan at the Pineville VA Hospital. Then the doctors tried an endoscopy, which didn’t work, since it the instrument wasn’t long enough to reach the blockage, which they were trying to biopsy.

The oncologist still could not get a biopsy, so they tried another endoscopy that reached the blockage and then prescribed a Petscan to get a better look at the blockage. After these two procedures they determined that I did have duodenal cancer, a cancer that is in beginning section of small intestines. It is also referred to as adenocarcinoma.

The Petscan was a unique experience. For 45 minutes they started and stopped the scan. I had the sensation of being on a train. The only thing missing was that no conductor was saying “All aboard”.

My birthday was on October 14, which was two days before the surgery. My wife Rhonda had made a Happy Birthday poster for the door of my room and my daughter, her husband and two grandchildren were there to celebrate. My two sons, who had already arrived a few days earlier were also there, along with my ex-wife who came with my daughter.

I still have the poster that Rhonda made in our bedroom and it has a lot of sentimental value. Rhonda had to sleep in a chair the first few days, that I was in the hospital. She found out later there was a place called Fisher House on the grounds, so she could have a place to eat and sleep during the night.

One of my brothers also made two or three visits to the hospital, while I was there and his ex-wife and my niece also made visits to see me.

The Surgery

I will never forget the day of the surgery, which was Tuesday, October 16, 2012. I was rolled into a hall where patients were lined up for surgery. I recall the nurses were asking about a patient who didn’t show up for surgery, because he tired of waiting for the surgery and had left the hospital.

Once I entered the surgery room the anesthesiologist began sticking with me with needles which were very painful and I was surprised how many times I was stuck and awake to feel the pain. I could hear the surgery room nurses make clanging sounds similar to the sounds of pots and pans being put on tables.

The next thing I knew it was 11 hours later and my surgery which was supposed to have taken 5 or 6 hours had lasted 11 hours, because I had been nicked in the liver and it caused massive bleeding, which required four units of blood to replace the lost blood. The surgeon told Rhonda that they were close to losing me, so I am very fortunate to even be writing about the surgery.


I remember being in a very strange room, after the surgery which I assume was the ICU. It seemed like it was very dark in the room and I almost felt like they had sent me to a secluded cabin to recover from the surgery. I still can’t remember much about this phase in my recovery.

One of the results from the surgery was the finding that I had Stage III duodenal cancer. Duodenal cancer is extremely rare and only accounts for 1 percent of gastrointestinal cancers.

At some point before or after the surgery I had a picc line inserted in my arm, so the nurses wouldn’t have to give me so many injections.

However, I still had blood work done every morning at about 5AM. I had insulin shots in my stomach at least once a day, even though I was and am not now diabetic.

One thing I remember is watching the 2012 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. I tried to watch all of the games, but would sometimes fall asleep during the games.

About a week after the surgery I was finally allowed to eat real food, for the first time since arriving at the hospital three weeks earlier. However, my appetite was not that great and would only eat part of the food most of the time.

It was great to have the tube removed from my throat, even though it was uncomfortable feeling for it to come out. Needless to say I talked differently while having the tube in my throat, so was happy to talk normally again.

It was Halloween night (October 31) when I was finally released from the hospital. The day started off well as I started being readied for release, but I waited a very long time for the Picc line to be removed. The technician came in the room and had me in more of upside down and sideways position, so that he could remove the Picc line.

My high number on the blood pressure reading was 181, when I was finally released late that night. Blood pressure was a serious problem in the hospital, since it spiked to about 220 at one point, so I was given blood pressure medication and wore a blood pressure patch to bring it down.

Returning Home

Immediately after being released I stayed with Rhonda at the Fisher House that night, to prevent traveling immediately after being released.

We made the 160 mile trip back to DeRidder the next day and began the long road to recovery. I was feeling a little better each day and felt much better, when we made a visit to the VA Hospital in Houston in November, to see the oncologist for a checkup. He told us that duodenal cancer has a history of returning, which sort of caught me by surprise.

We drove home on Thanksgiving morning and we were slowed by a massive traffic jam before we arrived at my daughter’s home in Groves, Texas. When we arrived there they told us, that many cars had hit each other in the fog on Interstate 10, so we were fortunate to miss the accident, but were detoured so we never saw the scene of the accident.


I started 91 days of chemotherapy after returning home at the VA Hospital in Pineville. There is no chemotherapy for duodenal cancer, because it is so rare, so was treated as if I had colon cancer.

When I told the doctor I read that there was only a 30 percent chance of surviving duodenal cancer he told me not to worry, since my life expectancy was only 76 since I was a male. I relaxed after that figuring what is two years less or more, since I will be 69 this week.

The chemotherapy had many bad side effects, with sensitive to cold, jaw pain when chewing foods, unsteady on my feet and the oncologist in Pineville switched me to another form of chemotherapy.

It wasn’t much better as it caused another set of problems, so my chemotherapy was stopped 91 days into the 5 month treatments. The oncologist told me my quality of life was being affected too adversely by the chemotherapy. I was relieved to not have to make the weekly trips to Pineville for the chemotherapy treatments and I started feeling better after the treatments stopped with the side effects no longer a problem.

CT Scan in May in Houston

We went to see the oncologist/surgeon at Houston VA Hospital last May. The first day there we underwent another CT scan and did bloodwork. Then the next day we talked to the surgeon and he said everything looked good on the scan and it was clear. However, he said he was concerned that when he lifted the cancerous blockage off the liver, that some cancer may have seeped into the liver and may sprout up at a later date.

Our next CT scan is scheduled on December 11. Hopefully, the scan will be clear and if not will know it is God’s will being done, so not overly worried about the results.

Thank You

I want to thank all the doctors and nurses at VA Hospital in Pineville and Houston for their excellent care. I want to thank all the family members and friends who visited me at the hospital in Houston and those who stayed with me in the hospital, after Rhonda began staying at the Fisher House.

I would like to also thank those who called my room during my stay in Houston. Those phone calls meant more to me, than you will ever know.

In addition I would like to think those who sent gift cards or checks,  to help pay for Rhonda’s food and expenses, plus help pay our bills, while staying in Houston.

Plus I would like to thank those who contributed to the cancer fund my son started,  in conjunction with his bicycle tour starting this week in Kansas City, Missouri.

My goal is to keep a positive attitude regardless of what the results of the scan show, in December and to continue to sing and praise the Lord.

Long Wait Almost Over: Twinkies Back On Shelves in 492 Hours, 34 Minutes, 42 Seconds

Twinkieaholics will be happy to know that Twinkies will be on store shelves in 21 days and best of all, on even more shelves than in the past. They should be on store shelves nationwide on July 15.

The Twinkies will now even be sold in dollar stores. Price reportedly will be $3.99 for a 10 count box of the crème filled treats, which was the price before production ended. However, they were on sale in the past as shown in this photo:

Hostess had stopped manufacturing Twinkies and a vast array of other Hostess treats like Ding Dongs And Snoballs, due to striking union workers. Some of the former workers are back in the factories, but are non-unionized workers now.

Donettes and CupCakes will also be returning to the store shelves, after Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management bought out some of the Hostess products. Ding Dongs and Ho Ho’s are other products that will be offered for sale.

Twinkies were invented on April 6, 1930 by James Dewar of the Continental Bakery in River Forest, Illinois. So it is only fitting that a product, with that long of a history can be purchased still 83 years later.

The spongy crème filled treat is not for the weight conscious, since one Twinkie is 13 percent of recommended fat intake on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Twinkie the Kid won’t be standing in the unemployment line much longer, since he will be back at work on July 15 and his Twinkie outfit and cowboy boots will be trendy again.

For those Twinkie fans that don’t like the standard Twinkie they can be deep-fried, for a whole new taste treat different from your standard Twinkie.

Beware of the fact that some criminals have blamed Twinkies for causing them to commit crimes, in what has come to be known as the Twinkie defense.

Twinkies have been seen in many movies, including Die Hard in which a character almost gets sick from eating a 1,000 year old Twinkie.

Kansas State University professor Mark Haub went on a diet of Twinkies, Doritos and Oreo cookies and lost 27 pounds in two months on the diet.

Guess that means Nutri System and Jenny Craig will be including Twinkies, in the meals sent to the homes of their clients.

More time has passed since I posted the latest countdown at the top of the page. The latest countdown now shows 492 hours, 9 minutes and 17 seconds.

It won’t be long till Twinkie lovers will be lining up outside stores to be first in line to buy the first Twinkies on shelves in several months.

Blast From The Past: RC Cola and Moon Pie

Royal Crown Cola and Double Decker Moon Pie.


RC Cola and Moon Pies have been staples in the south for many years. Even better is a RC Cola with a Double Decker Moon Pie that is in the above photo.

The combination of RC Cola and Moon Pies became popular in the 1950’s, when workers enjoyed them with their lunch.

The RC Cola ginger ale was founded in 1905 by pharmacist Claude Hatcher in Columbus, Georgia. Royal Crown was the first company to sell cola in a can in 1954 and would also be the first company to sell cola in an aluminum can.

The cherry flavored RC Cola was one of my favorite cherry cola drinks, which came closer to duplicating the flavor of a soda fountain cherry coke than most cherry flavored drinks.

Union Bottling Works was the first name of the company and it was later changed to Chero-Cola, then the name of the company was changed to Nehi in 1928.

Nehi Orange Soda.


There were few sodas, that were as refreshing as a cold Nehi orange soda, on a hot summer day in Louisiana in the 50’s and 60’s.

Mr. Hatcher dies on December 31, 1933 and the RC Cola soda we know today was developed in 1934. The Nehi company would change its name to Royal Crown Cola in 1959, due to the immense popularity of RC Cola.

1962 would bring Diet-Rite Cola, which was the first diet cola made by any company.

Royal Crown Cola would go into the fast food business in 1978, by acquiring the Arby’s fast food chain. RC Cola has been purchased by Triarc Companies, Inc. in 1993, Cadbury Schweppes in 2000, and Cott Corporation in 2001.


History of Moon PIes

Chattanooga Bakery was founded in 1902 in Chattanooga,Tennessee. There is an interesting story behind how the moon pies became their best known product. Coal miners were wanting something solid and filling, since they didn’t always have time for a real lunch break.

Mr. Earl Mitchell Sr. returned to the store after talking to the miners and noticed employees dipping graham crackers into marshmallow and leaving them in window to dry. They then came up with the idea of adding another cookie on top of the graham crackers and adding chocolate covering to the cookies. The first moon pie was sold in 1917 and went on to become one of the most popular products for the Chattanooga Baking Company.

Hundreds of thousands of moon pies were sent to soldiers serving overseas during World War II. Racegoers to NASCAR races in the 50’s were known to carry moon pies with them to the races.

The first Double Decker Moon Pie was manufactured in 1964 and it is my personal favorite, since it has three cookies and two layers of marshmallow in each Double Decker Moon Pie.

Moon pies started being thrown in Mardi Gras parades in the 1970’s, since they were softer, than the Cracker Jack boxes that had been thrown in previous parades.

Mini moon pies which debuted in 1998.

The larger moon pies were ruining the appetites of kids, before dinner so a mini moon pie was developed to give the kids the taste of a moon pie, without filling them up so much, that they wouldn’t eat their dinner.

Sam Walton the former owner of Wal-Mart was telling about how he motivated his employees, by having them tell about their favorite product. Walton then proceeded to talk about his favorite product and brought out a box of moon pies and extolling the virtues of the moon pies.


World’s Largest Moon Pie

The world’s largest moon pie weighs 50 pounds and consists of 14 pounds of marshmallow, 6 pounds of chocolate and contains 45,000 calories and is 40 inches wide. A person would be well advised to not try to eat it in one sitting.





Blast From the Past: Burger Chef

Burger Chef was founded in 1954.


Burger Chef at one time was the chief competition for McDonalds, but the company no longer existed after the last restaurant was closed 14 years ago in 1999.

The Burger Chef restaurant chain started with the opening of a fast food restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1950’s.


Burger Chef featured a 45 cent combo, which consisted of 15 cent hamburger, 15 cent French fries and 15 cent milk shake . This same combo today would cost at least $3 and up since shakes aren’t usually included in combo specials.

This menu shows prices of a combo had skyrocketed to 60 cents with 23 cent hamburger, 22 cent French fries and  25 cent milk shake which was still a real bargain compared to what a value meal costs today.


The photo above shows coffee being sold for 12 cents. Try going to Starbucks and asking for a 12 cent cup of coffee and see the looks you get. Five apple turnovers for a $1 also sounds like a good deal. Noticed that you had to spring for an extra four cents to buy a cheeseburger for 27 cents.


Burger Chef saved on labor costs by having dogs cooking up the burgers.


Burger Chef was sold to General Foods Corporation in 1968. They started a Fun Meal for kids in the early 70’s and sued McDonalds, when they started serving Happy Meals, but lost their case in court.

General Foods would divest themselves of their ownership in Burger Chef, by selling the company to Imasco, a Canadian company which also owned the Hardee’s chain of fast food restaurants.

There may no longer be any Burger Chef’s in operation, but will always have the memory of the store in Alexandria, Louisiana too many years ago to remember.

Burger Chef no longer exists, but their competitor McDonalds is still going strong with over 34,000 stores operating worldwide with 1.7 million employees.

McDonalds may have won the burger wars, but they can’t take the memories away from Burger Chef fans.


Duck Dynasty: Is This The Way To Run A Business?

Kay, Phillip, Willie, Si, Jase and Korie Robertson stars of Duck Dynasty.


The Season 3 finale of Duck Dynasty, which featured their trip to Hawaii attracted an amazing 9.6 million viewers. It was the most watched program in the history of the A&E cable network. An even bigger shock was that it had a higher rating than American Idol in the key 18-49 demographic.

When a program about a family making duck calls has a higher rating, than the ratings blockbuster American Idol there has to be some real concern right now by American Idol producers.

Phil Robertson who started the Duck Commander business of making duck calls, that captured the same sound as actual ducks was starting quarterback at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana. The second string quarterback was a guy named Terry Bradshaw, who went on to fame as the quarterback, of the Pittsburgh Steelers and would win Super Bowls for the Steelers. Robertson said Terry went after the bucks, while he went after the ducks, but Phil went after the bucks too and is worth $5 million today.

His wife Kay is also worth $5 million according to Celebrity Net Worth website, but since all the wives are shown with the same worth as their husbands among the Robertson sons it could mean they are both worth the same $5 million and not $10 million total.

The website lists the wives with the same worth, so will just quote the worth of the sons.

Alan Robertson is the oldest of the Robertson sons and can be easily identified since he is the unbearded Robertson and doesn’t seem to belong with the others.


Oldest son Alan Robertson has never been seen on the show to my knowledge and is a senior pastor of a West Monroe, Louisiana church. His net worth is $3 million, so he still shares in the wealth with the rest of the family.

Willie is the CEO of the company and is worth $10 million, while his brother Jase is worth $4 million and younger brother Jeptha is worth $8 million.

Their Uncle Si is worth $2 million and although he is married don’t think his wife has ever been shown.

The duck call company Duck Commander is based in West Monroe, Louisiana where we lived in 1974 and 1975 before moving across the Ouachita River to Monroe, while working for the local Monroe Morning World newspaper.


Phil Chose Right Son For CEO

Phil was smart to designate Willie as CEO, since he is the only son that seems to have a modicum of ability to run the company. His brother Jase  and uncle Si are apt to leave work without notice, to go duck hunting or do whatever they want, with no regard for how it affects the business.

One of the programs this morning showed Willie trying to get the brothers and other workers to wear uniforms. They all decided to wear the uniforms, except Jase who refused to wear the new uniforms and rallied the others to go on strike. So they left the room where they make duck calls, to go outside and made signs to picket Duck Commander.

Meanwhile Kay Robertson, who is selling boudin from a truck passes by and puts a stop to the nonsense, by serving the brothers and co-workers boudin and managed to convince the strikers to leave the picket line and return to work.


Si Wakes Up In The Woods

On another program this morning Si and other workers had a hankering for donuts and descended on the donut shop and proceeded to have a contest to see who could eat the most donuts. Si won the contest and used his winnings to buy some tickets for a drawing for a camper.

By the time they returned to work Si later found out he had won the drawing, when the camper was delivered to Duck Commander headquarters. Si decided to cook something in his new camper and later fell asleep in the camper. The other workers were not happy campers, when Si was sleeping and they needed him to make reeds for the duck calls.

So Jase hooked up the camper to a truck and hauled the camper with Si sleeping on the bed to the woods. They left Si sleeping in the camper and drove off. It was a funny sight to see Si open the camper door and find out he was in the middle of nowhere in the woods.


Willie Gets No Respect

Willie gets absolutely no respect from his brothers and their co-workers. Willie is so serious about getting the work done, while the brothers would rather goof off, than actually make any duck calls. Work comes to a standstill often, when the guys are not in the mood to work.

It is a miracle any work is ever done in the duck call shop, with this group of characters. They are sometimes more intent on exacting revenge on Willie for his latest show of force, to increase their productivity.

Willie has a camera installed in the duck call room, so he can witness for himself how little work is being done. Jase, who is not happy with this development has one of the other workers steal the monitor for the camera out of Willie’s office, then give Willie a taste of his own medicine. The guys are watching Willie line up his shot in his office, with golf putter and then Jase says something over the speaker about Willie needed to adjust his grip. Willie puts away his putting green and golf club and goes to duck call room to demand the monitor is returned.

Jase and Willie argue about the camera being in the duck call room, then work out a compromise and Willie is given his monitor back.

Willie has a quandary in that he can’t fire family members, so he has to tolerate their antics in the duck call room. If any of these guys were working for another company they would have been fired years ago, but they have the job security of working for the family business.

This is no way to run a business, but their business is picking up since the show has become so popular. These guys especially Jase and Si may be a train wreck, but they are keeping millions of us entertained.

Latest news is that family is asking for more money to film Season 4, but they are dealing from a position of strength as A&E is not going to battle with them over salary, since they will probably raise advertising rates to recoup the money and make even more money in the long run. Latest word is that Season 4 filming will start soon and that we will see those episodes later this year.




Magazine Ads From the Past

These ads will bring a lot of memories to the old-timers among us and will let the younger generation know about the days, when you could buy a Coca-Cola for 5 cents and a pack of gum for 5 cents.

Smokesational! Radiolutionary! Smokerette-Radio by Stewart Warner: The only combination smoker and radio set. Magazine Ad, later 1940’s
A combination radio-smoker which provided smokers with a place for their cigarettes, cigars, pipes and tobacco, while listening to their favorite radio programs on this $49.95 radio.
This is the precursor of the Sony Walkman for only $7.95, before shipping and federal tax.


A one pound bag of Bazooka Bubble Gum will set you back $7.99 today after inflation kicked in.



You could look up and down every aisle of every grocery store in the United States today and not find these prices. Two boxes of Wheaties probably cost at least 25 cents nowadays and two pounds of coffee has probably doubled to 50 cents.


Barber shop prices of the 1900’s on the left. No date given for the prices on the right.


Barber shop prices over a 100 years later. The shave and a haircut of the 1900’s cost a total of 60 cents. That same shave and haircut today costs $33.00.


Memories of a Lifetime: 2011-2013

2011 – We were living in Sulphur, Louisiana, a city of about 20,000 at the start of 2011. We were living on Live Oak Street in Sulphur and we found a home church in Calvary Baptist Church on Lewis Street. We were impressed by the pastor Rev. W.D. Darnell, who lived what he preached and only used the King James Version of the Holy Bible. We made many friends, among the members of the church. Rhonda was very involved with the activities at the church and I often sang special music on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Rhonda and me sang duets a couple of times and she sang On The Wings Of A Dove with another lady one time.

Rhonda liked living in Sulphur, since she had a sister and her mom living there. We lived close to the neighborhood, where my daughter and family had lived before moving to Groves, Texas.

I would return to working as a caregiver again in November of 2011. I worked with a disabled man with diabetes and lost the job at the end of the year, when his family changed to another caregiving company.

An international news story was when an earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan took 15,840 lives.

President Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1.

Casey Anthony was acquitted of the murder of her daughter Calee Marie Anthony, in a controversial verdict by the jury.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers dies on October 5 of cancer.

House were renting at $955 a month in 2011.

A gallon of gas cost $2.89.

Movie tickets were selling for $8.20.


2012 – I worked as a crossing guard at a school in Sulphur for a few weeks, toward the end of the school year. It was interesting work and enjoyed the job. The job could turn out to be the last job I will ever work, since I haven’t worked since becoming sick a couple of months later.

We moved to DeRidder, Louisiana in July and are living in a trailer, that is about halfway between Merryville, Louisiana and DeRidder. We are living in the country and liking it so far.

Knew something was wrong when I began vomiting up blood and lost about 35 pounds in less than two months during the summer. Found out in October in Houston VA Hospital, that I had duodenal cancer. It was a very disease to diagnose, since it mimics acid reflux and duodenal ulcers. It is very rare disease with only two percent of gastrointestinal diseases being duodenal cancer.

Surgeons in Houston performed a resection surgery on Oct. 16 to remove a blockage, which was cancerous and was successful. However I found out in November, that duodenal cancer has a history of returning and has a relatively low survival rate.

Chemotherapy started at the VA hospital in Pineville, Louisiana on Dec.13 and have had three chemo IV’s since that date, with five more to go. Have finished six of a 24 week program of chemotherapy. It seems like the side effects have been worse with each chemo IV. Had difficulty walking in a straight line after the last IV and sort of lurch from side to side.

2012 was a life changing year for us, with us being evicted, moving to a new city and finding out that I had cancer and had surgery a few days later. Spent a total of 32 days in hospital in Houston.

July 20 would be the first of two mass shootings in the United States, when a gunman killed 12 and injured 58 in an Aurora, Colorado theater.

December 14 would bring the second mass shootings of 2012, when a man kills 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, along with six adults, before killing himself.

A gallon of gas would rise to $3.89 during 2012. It is about 64 cents a gallon cheaper now in 2013.

House rent average goes over the $1,000 mark for the first time, as it rose to $1,045 a month.

A pound of bacon which was $2.96 in 2008 had risen to $4.48 in 2012.


2013 – This year should be a very interesting year, as the chemotherapy continues through May and it will be interesting to learn the results of the bloodwork after the last week of chemotherapy. May 21 will be another important date for us as we return to Houston for another C-scan, which will show if the cancer is completely gone or has returned.

We don’t know what this year holds, but we plan to remain positive, even if the news is bad and I don’t plan on being negative, regardless of what happens in 2013.







Memories of a Lifetime: 2006-2010

2006 – I would return to my job at Louisiana Community Care, after losing my job with Coastal Culvert. I primarily worked in a group home with seven guys at the time. It was a very demanding job as I had to assist them with their hygiene and washed and dried all their clothes. I would walk in the door at the group home at 4:30 PM and wouldn’t sit down for the first time till about 11 PM, when I had to write down the events of the day for each individual client.

One time a client who ate too fast threw up and I was mopping up the mess and he came up to me and hit me in the head and stomach with a 1-2 punch. Needless to say I was more wary around that client from then on. Another time he woke up during the night wanting chips and when I didn’t give him any he overturned a table and dumped a pitcher of Kool-Aid on the kitchen floor.

I made a point of having all the clothes washed and put away and the floors all swept and mopped, by the time the 12:30 AM relief worker came in. I worked there till around Christmas and retired, since I was now 62 and eligible for Social Security.

Andrew and Rhonda in 2006 at Matthew’s baseball game.

Wikipedia lists very few newsworthy events during 2006 in the United States, with Twitter being launched that year, which turned out to be the most newsworthy event of the year.

Gasoline was selling for $3.03 on August 11, but had dipped to $2.21 by November 17.


2007 – We moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in August of 2007, as we followed my daughter, son-in-law, when he was named manager of a Knoxville Domino’s store. About three weeks later, when things didn’t work out well with the job they moved back to Pineville, Louisiana.

Since we had used our savings to make the move we remained in Knoxville till December of 2010.

We had a traumatic event that August, when Rhonda was driving down a Knoxville street and was hit by a car turning out into traffic, from an apartment parking lot. Rhonda sustained a broken foot in the accident and was unable to go for a job interview, that was scheduled the next week. We moved to another apartment in the same apartment complex in September and Justin and me moved everything by ourselves, which was a day long job, since Rhonda was unable to help.

Then I went to work for Luxottica, a company that makes lenses for eyeglasses in Knoxville. It was another typical manufacturing job, with pressure to produce the most lenses in the least time. I was operating four machines at once in the fining department. After finishing the fining, we would take the lenses to the next department the polishing department, which made the lenses look even better. This was another temporary Westaff job, so the job played out soon and was without work again. We were given an eviction notice from the apartment on Thanksgiving Eve, but managed to stay there till I found work the next month.

I went to work as a caregiver with Evergreen Ministries in Knoxville, whose headquarters are located in Haughton, Louisiana in December of 2007. The job went well and I remained there till August of 2008. I was required to take a test, to be allowed to administer meds to the clients and scored 91 on the test. I wasn’t allowed to give meds, till I had passed the test, but it made it easier to work in homes, that needed a certified meds person, since some workers never were certified to give meds.

This was the year that the Va. Tech student killed 30 people. My brother lived next to the campus and was driving on campus toward work, when he saw several police cars speeding toward the site of the shootings.

The big news in technology was the introduction of the iPhone and the Nintendo Wii.

Average income was over $50,000 but doubt many of those people worked at the Alexandria Town Talk.

Price of a gallon of gas was $3.38, which is more than it is now six years later, with it being in the $3.25 range in DeRidder, Louisiana area.

An ounce of gold is $630, compared to when I was growing up, when it was $35 an ounce. Someone that had bought 100 ounces of gold at $35 an ounce for $3500 would have seen their gold raise in value to $63,000 for that 100 ounces in 2007.


2008 – Would continue to work for Evergreen Ministries till August of 2008, when Rhonda found a better paying job at Comcast working in their call center. We only had one vehicle, since our Ford Contour had been totaled in the wreck in August of 2007, so only one of us could work.

Would move into this house in Knoxville in 2008:

Our home in Knoxville, Tennessee from August 2008 till December 2010.


We joined Piney Grove Baptist Church in Knoxville and would sing special music there many times and would sometimes be a replacement song leader. The prayers of the congregation had a lot to do, with Rhonda surviving a life or death surgery in 2010.

The average income dipped $10,000 during the year to $40,000.

Gasoline had risen one cent to $3.39 in 2008, while a barrel of crude oil was selling for a record $147.

The average rent for a house was now $800 and the housing market totally collapsed as the value of houses declined precipitously.


2009 – Rhonda drove me to Groves, Texas to spend time with my daughter’s family in June and attended a Astros-Cubs game on June 9. Rhonda drove back to Knoxville, while to boarded a plane to Knoxville from Houston later. While I was gone a tornado hit our home in Knoxville, but luckily the only real damage was to the deck as a tree fell on it.

A tornado hit our deck in June of 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Rhonda would experience the first signs of having a serious health problem about November of 2009, when she was sent home from work being very sick. The next year would see Rhonda have her large intestines removed and will have more on that in the 2010 post.

Monthly rent fell to $675 in 2009, while a gallon of gasoline dropped to $2.73, which is about 52 cents cheaper, than it is in 2013. A barrel of oil which had peaked at $147 in 2008 was now only $53 a barrel.


2010 – Westaff found me a temporary job working at a call center, which involved taking orders for Talbots a clothing company, which had an office in Knoxville. Temp job is an apt description for this job, since it lasted for about two hours. I completed one transaction and then heard the customer telling someone “If this order comes out right it will be a miracle”. My career as a call center employee came to a screeching halt about two minutes later.

March 1, 2010 was a monumental day for Rhonda, as she had her large intestines removed that day and she also smoked her last cigarette that day and hasn’t smoked since. The surgeon found out she had colon cancer that day, but the colon had already been removed and he also found out that Rhonda had diabetes.

The surgery was on Monday and it was on the Thursday night before Rhonda was to go home, that everything went terribly wrong. She went into septic shock and was moved into intensive care. The doctors were at a loss of what to do, before deciding the next day to perform an ileostomy on Rhonda. Her organs were shutting down and was having problems breathing when the surgery started. The surgery went well, but the surgeon told us, that he didn’t expect Rhonda to be alive the next Monday, after the Friday surgery was performed, but was shocked to see that she was still alive.

Rhonda and me after her second surgery in four days, while she was in a six day coma at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in March,2010.


Rhonda was in a coma for six days and didn’t wake up till March 11 on the 16th birthday of Justin. Her sisters had driven from Louisiana to Tennessee, but Rhonda was in the coma the whole time they were there. I did all the housework till Rhonda was feeling able to do it that next summer.

I would return to work at Evergreen Ministries in July of 2010 and would remain there till a couple of days, before we moved to Sulphur, Louisiana. I enjoyed the work and didn’t miss any days of work. Had one close call, when driving the clients home and the brakes failed. I managed to get up on the sidewalk, to avoid hitting a car and drove into a parking lot and stopped the company van.

After the hospitalization and recovery we were ready to return home to Louisiana and left Knoxville. It was 16 the morning we left Knoxville, but when we arrived in Sulphur it was 78 degrees, which is even warm for Sulphur late in December.

Our relatives helped us unload the truck in about a half hour or so. It had taken us three days to load the truck in Knoxville, so it was good to unload it fast.

2010 was a slow news year, with no major story listed at the Wikipedia site.

The Apple iPad is released in 2010.

A gallon of gasoline cost $2.73 and a barrel of crude oil was selling for $73.00 a barrel, which was $20 more than the 2009 price.

Price of gold had skyrocketed to $1237 an ounce, which was $1202 more than the price I remembered as a youngster.




Memories of a Lifetime: 2001-2005

Grandson Mark Geisel who was born one day after my birthday.


2001 – Mark Geisel was born on October 15, 2001 in Sulphur, Louisiana, while his father was the manager at the Domino’s Pizza place in Sulphur.  Mark has done very well in school and loves to read. He plays goalie and other positions on his soccer team. His red hair goes back a long way in family history. My mom had a red-headed brother, that was born in the 1920’s or 1930’s. My mom had two red-headed sons and a red-headed daughter and a daughter with auburn hair. I was the black sheep of the family with black hair.

We moved to Gibbons Street about this time and then moved to Linda Drive later that year in the Kingsville area.

September 11, 2001 – A day that will live in infamy.


September 11, 2001 was a day that none of us will forget. I had called the mechanic that morning checking on our car in his shop. He asked me if I had the television on and that is when I found out about the horrific events of that day. The memory of those planes slamming into the twin towers of the World Trade Center will forever be ingrained in my memory.

I couldn’t comprehend how four planes could be hijacked the same morning and that day let us know how lax our airport security was at the time. The nation was in chaos at the time, with aircraft being grounded all over the country. It was eerie hearing about passengers on these planes talking to loved ones, on their cell phones telling, about the horrors of what they were experiencing and then knowing those same people on the cell phones died a violent death minutes later.

It is difficult to believe that September 11 of this year will be the 12th anniversary of that horrific day.

The “War on Terrorism” begins with the invasion of Afghanistan.

Dale Earnhardt dies during a crash in the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Richard Reid known as the “shoe bomber” attempted to blow up an American Airlines plane.

The first iPod was released and Wikipedia was launched on the internet.

The average rent jumped $40 from $675 in 2000 to $715 in 2001. The price of a gallon of gas jumped from $1.26 in 2000 to $1.41 in 2001. A loaf of bread cost $1.82.

2002 – My favorite memory of this year was the 40th class reunion of Pineville High School. I had never attended a reunion until 2002. If I was scheduled to work on the day of reunion, then I would usually work, but this year I made sure I had that week off, so I could attend. It was great seeing classmates from the 1962 class, for the first time in many years. I hadn’t run into some of them even though they had never left Pineville. The saddest part of the reunion was when the members of our class that had passed on were mentioned in a Power Point presentation, with Duane Yates singing the Lord’s Prayer in the background. Sadly Duane died before our 50th reunion in 2012. Seeing the teachers and students from 1962 again made this a special time in my life.

The price of gasoline escalated to $1.61 a gallon, a 36 cent a gallon rise since the $1.26 gasoline of 2000, which was two years earlier.


2003 – This turned out to be the last full year that I worked at the Alexandria Town Talk newspaper. The paper was never the same, after it was acquired by the Gannett Corporation. The Christmas bonus we had received while the paper was owned by the Smith family and the Central Newspapers chain was the first thing to go, under the auspices of the Gannett mega corporation. That $150 we had received each Christmas was now a thing of the past, as was the free newspapers for employees.

Iraq is invaded on March 19 by the United States military.

Saddam Hussein is captured by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division.

Gasoline prices jumped to 1.83, a jump of 57 cents a gallon since 2000.


2004 – My 36 years at Town Talk and 38 years in newspaper production ended in 2004, when I retired with my last day of work being Halloween night. I spent most of my working life at Town Talk. In fact it was my first job after returning from Vietnam in 1966. I had seen my pay go from $1.40 an hour in 1966 to $13.50 an hour in 2004. Still I never took home more than $28,000 in any year, that I worked for the Town Talk.

We had a traumatic event  this year when my stepson Justin was sleeping in the den and was woken by a burglar, who was rifling through cabinets and drawers, while looking for painkillers. Neither Justin or the burglar knew anyone else was in the house. Thankfully, Justin thought the burglar was a relative, who told Justin he was taking stuff because his mom owed him money.

A few days before the burglary a man had knocked on our door and wanted to know if anyone lived in the trailer next door. Evidently, he was casing the house and had a timeline of when my wife Rhonda and me would be at work. Anyway he had left, about 30 minutes before I arrived home from work that night.

Justin followed him from room to room and the burglar told him to tell his mom, that he would return the next night. The burglar did have an encounter with our cat, when the cat bit him and the burglar said “ouch”. The burglar would be later caught due to his own stupidity. He overdosed and the paramedics noticed painkillers all over his trailer, which included some painkillers my wife had in our house, after having major surgery. He lived only about five houses up the street from us and was arrested for burglary and sent to prison.

Facebook was launched in 2004 and was originally only for students at Harvard University.

Strongest earthquake in 40 years hits near Indonesia and the earthquake and resulting tsunami would take 290,000 lives.

Martha Stewart is convicted of felony and sentenced to five years in prison.

Gasoline continued to skyrocket to $2.10 an increase of 84 cents a gallon from the year 2000. Oil peaked at $50 a barrel in 2004.


2005 – I returned to work in 2005, when I was hired as a caregiver by Louisiana Community Care in Ball, Louisiana. Sometimes I would start a shift at 8PM and would finish the shift at 8:30 AM the next morning. It wasn’t hard work, but it was detail work, that required a set schedule of administering medicine. I found out later in Tennessee, that anyone administering medicine in Tennessee was required to take a course and pass a test to give meds to a client. However, Louisiana required no certification to give meds. I was giving meds my first night. There was a voluntary meds certification, but it wasn’t required at this time.

Later that year I went to work for Plasti-Pak in Kingsville area and I learned how much work is involved with factory work. I operated a box making machine for Procter and Gamble products the first night there. We went to work at 6:45 PM and the shift would end at 7:15 the next morning, so we would get a full 12 hours per shift, with a half hour break to eat. It was tiring and exhausting work and dangerous work. I back over my foot with a hand truck, which resulted in losing two toenails. I bought steel-toed boots the next day. It was a temp job with Westaff and the job played out soon and I was one of first laid off, since I was one of the last ones hired.

Then I went to work for Coastal Culvert operating out of Eunice, Louisiana. It was the easiest job of my life, after working the hardest job of my life at Plasti-Pak. My job was to be the manager of a new Alexandria branch for the company. My main job was to check inventory of the culvert pipes outside the office. I had to call the Eunice office each morning, to verify I was at work. Then I would read the paper, listen to old-time radio shows or watch Andy Griffith shows on the DVD player till it was time to go home that afternoon. The job lasted from November till February of 2006, before they decided to close down the Alexandria office, since there was little to no business.

I can’t say enough good things about the Coastal Culvert executives. They invited me to their annual Christmas dinner and they gave me a $100 Christmas bonus, even though I had been there less than a month.

Some of the damage from Hurricane Katrina seen the day after.

The major event of 2005 in Louisiana is when Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coast of Louisiana and a break in the levee resulted in 80 percent of New Orleans being flooded. 1,577 died from Katrina in Louisiana. Many New Orleans residents waited five days for food and  water to arrive in the city. It was a colossal case of bad planning by government officials, who let people go for days without food or water.

Katrina didn’t cause much damage in Alexandria-Pineville area, but Hurricane Rita was a different story as many trees fell on houses in the area, with fallen trees closing roads.

Lance Armstrong won an amazing seventh Tour de France championship, as he demonstrated how he could live better through chemistry.

Video gamers saw the Microsoft X-Box 360 launched in 2005.

The price of gasoline climbed to $3.18 in 2005 an increase of almost $2 a gallon from the $1.26 price of 2000.





Memories of a Lifetime: 1981-1985

1981 – The Town Talk started printing a morning paper in 1981, which meant that most of us in the composing room worked the night shift. I would work nights the last 24 years of my time with the Town Talk. The page makeup department would work from 4:30 PM till 1:00 AM.

1982 – Another year in which I am drawing a blank, as to what happened during that year. Nationally, the Gannett Corporation published the first copy of USA Today, which makes it 31 years old today.

Gasoline cost 91 cents in 1982. The first CD player was sold this year. A Sony 19 inch color TV was being sold for $499. You can buy a RCA 19 inch color TV at Wal-Mart today for only $124, a savings of $375 thirty-one years later.

One of the major events for me was that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was opened this year in Washington, D.C. The memorial is of particular interest to me, since the soldier that replaced me in Vietnam died two months after I left and his name and the name of my cousin from Maine are both on the wall. My cousin was a warrant officer flying a helicopter when shot down and killed.

1983 – This was the year we went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida and tickets only cost $18 back then. Epcot Center had opened the year before, so we also went to Epcot Center while at Disney World.

Later that summer we went to Greeneville, Tennessee to see my dad and his wife. You could walk out their back door and see the Smoky Mountains.

The Town Talk celebrated their 100th anniversary by giving each employee a coin, which can be cashed in during the year 2033. The paper will be 130 years old on March 17 of this year.

You could buy a Dodge RAM 50 truck for $5,665. You could buy a toy General Lee car from Dukes of Hazzard for $5.99.

1984 – By this time the years were running together with no particular memory of this year. By 1984 the price of a gallon of gas had skyrocketed to $1.10 a gallon, compared to 91 cents only two years earlier. The same Dodge RAM 50 truck that cost $5,665 in 1983 was selling for $8,995 in 1984. Movie tickets cost only $2.50.

1985 – Another year with no personal memories of it. Looks like when I hit my 40’s my memory bank had deposits less often.

Gasoline was a cent cheaper, than in 1984 with the price now $1.09. A Tandy computer and monitor system was $999. Bacon was a $1.65 a pound in 1985.

A Rolls Royce car for kids were being sold for $500. The vehicle was motorized with a top speed of 5 MPH and featured working headlights and brakes.

Stuckey’s: Roadside Landmark in America

Stuckey’s was a place where you could fill up with gasoline, go to restrooms and shop for souvenirs and the famous Stuckey’s pecan candy.

There was their famous pecan log rolls, pecan divinity and of course pecan pralines. I have to debate with myself whether my favorite was the divinity fudge or the pralines.

First Stuckey’s Physical Building Opened in 1937

The first Stuckey’s building was opened in 1937 and expanded into 350 stores. Stuckey’s merged with Pet Milk in 1967 and the 350 stores dwindled into 75, during the Pet Milk operation of the company. Most of the Stuckey’s stores sold Texaco gasoline back then.

William S. Stuckey Sr., got the idea for the company when he had a bumper crop of pecans in 1930. His wife went to work in the kitchen and experimented with different candy recipes, which were the main drawing card for Stuckey’s, when they opened their first physical store in 1937.

After the fortunes of the company declined during the Pet Milk ownership period, the son of Stuckey, who was U.S. congressman William S. Stuckey restored the Stuckey’s name by purchasing the company and there are now 115 Stuckey’s in the United States at the present time.

Stuckey’s are found as far north today as Connecticut, but surprisingly there are no stores in either New Jersey or New York. Most of the stores are concentrated in the southern states, but there are stores in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Stores are only located in 17 of the 50 states. I was surprised recently to see a Stuckey’s returning on a trip to Houston and the store sold gasoline, souvenirs and had a Popeye’s Fried Chicken place inside the store. There are nine Stuckey’s located in Texas, but the only Stuckey’s in Louisiana according to their website is a store in Opelousas.

It was exciting to see signs for Stuckey’s, since we knew we could get off the road for a while, while we browsed the souvenir shop and found candy to munch on as we continued on down the highway. It is great to know the company still exists 56 years after our 1957 trip from Louisiana to our eventual destination of Maine to visit my uncle and aunt and their family.

Stuckey’s has had its ups and downs since the first store was opened in 1937, but it is good to know, that the company is thriving again, now that the Stuckey family once again own the stores. We want to thank them for restoring our memories of that 1957 trip, when Stuckey’s were a mainstay on the U.S. highway system.

List of State Foods Has Some Surprises

This list of foods identified with the 50 states has some surprises. For example, when I think of Louisiana I don’t instantly think of muffaletas, but that is the food chose as the food identifiable with Louisiana. My first choice of food from Louisiana would be gumbo or Natchitoches meat pies. Some might even say crawfish is more identifiable with Louisiana.

It surprised me that Kansas not Kentucky is the state that shows fried chicken as their iconic food. Arkansas page shows that chicken and dumplings is the food best known in the state.

Peach pies have been around in Georgia since 1571. Hawaii’s iconic food is spam musabi, The spam is grilled and a mori sheet covers the rice.

We can thank Idaho for inventing finger steaks in 1957. Pizzeria Uno in Chicago introduced deep dish pizza in 1943 and is still being enjoyed 69 years later.

Kentucky introduced the Hot Brown Breakfast Sandwich in 1926, which consists of bacon, turkey, tomatoes and Mornay sauce.

The afore-mentioned muffaleta sandwich was first made by Sicilian immigrants in New Orleans in 1906. It is a cold cuts and olive sandwich, which is best left out for a few hours.

It is no surprise that clam chowder is the favorite food for Massachusettians and when you see the photo on the page you may want to hustle up the ingredients to make some, especially on a cold winter day.

Michigan grows the most tart cherries in the U.S. so it is understandable, why Michiganians like their cherry pie.

Missouri is known for Kansas City barbecue, which is served with cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans.

Nebraska naturally is known for their Omaha steaks, which were served on passenger trains in the 1940’s.

New York is famous for Buffalo wings, which were invented naturally in Buffalo, New York.

New Jersey is known for their hoagie sandwiches, which are Italian-styled subs that include whatever kind of cold cuts you choose.

Ohio gives us Cincinnati Chili, unlike most chilis in that it is a plate of spaghetti covered with a mound of cheese and secret chili sauce.

Oklahoma has designated Chicken Fried Steak as their favorite meal, even though it reportedly originated in Texas.

Pennsylvania’s choice is a no-brainer, since Philly Cheesesteak is overwhelming the favorite in Pennsylvania and it is becoming more popular throughout the United States, as more fast food places begin serving their versions of Philly Cheesesteak.

Tennessee is known for its mountain stack cakes, that look similar to a stack of pancakes, but only in appearance.

Texas naturally shows Beef Chili as their favorite food.

Utah has one of the more off-the-wall foods as their page shows Jello Pretzel Salad. Crushed pretzels make up the base of this treat with cream cheese in the middle and berry Jello on top.

Vermont claims Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream as their state food, since it has been served since 1978.

Virginia chooses ham biscuits as their most popular food.

West Virginia coal miners took the next food to work with them. It was the pepperoni roll, which didn’t need to be frozen so was a perfect lunch-time treat.

Wisconsin features beer brats which consisted of bratwurst poached in beer (not sure what poached means) and grilled with onions and butter.

These have been short descriptions of some states, that were picked at random. For the entire list and photos of the food of each state:

Cajun Justice: Latest Cajun Reality Show

 Louisiana has recently been the subject of many television reality shows. The latest is Cajun Justice which can be seen at 9PM CDT and 10PM EDT on Thursdays on the A&E television network.

The Cajuns have their own brand of frontier justice, as can be seen on these shows. This clip is an example of how out of hand things get in Cajun country:


Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois is the sheriff for Terrebonne Parish. The following page has a short biography of Sheriff Bourgeois and his ten deputies.

Cajun Justice was originally going to be named Cajun Blue, but guess any name with the word Cajun in the title is more likely to attract viewers.

There are presently eight television reality shows, that have been filmed in Louisiana. Four of the shows are being filmed above Alexandria and one is filmed in Alexandria and the other three are being filmed south of Alexandria.

This page tells more about the shows and a map depicts, where the different shows are being filmed:

Where Have All The Delivery People Gone?

A man shown delivering blocks of ice to a home from a Oscar Mayer truck so the residents could keep their food cold in their icebox.

There was a time back in the 50’s and 60’s when a multitude of delivery men, or women delivered products to a typical home. Back in the day there were delivery people for milk, eggs, ice, groceries and the local cleaners would pick up clothes and deliver them when finished cleaning them. The florists would also deliver flowers to a home. Today a florist is  about the only one still delivering to a home, among those delivery people mentioned above. There were more people back then who didn’t own a car, so delivery was the only option in some cases.

There were ice cream trucks playing their music, as they drove through neighborhoods both back then and they can still be heard years later selling ice cream to neighborhood kids.  However they were not considered delivery people, since they didn’t deliver from house to house, but only stopped when they made a sale. 

An ice cream truck playing The Entertainer. There is some online grocery websites that do deliver groceries today, but probably are limited only to larger cities:

Home delivery for the most part has disappeared from the American scene, but those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s will always remember the delivery people of those years.

1968-1969: Years of Assassinations, Moonwalks and Protests




Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

 1968 and 1969 were years defined by the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, American astronauts being the first to walk on the moon, anti-war protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the New York Jets and the New York Mets were surprise Super Bowl and World Series winners.


Super Bowl II would be won by the Green Bay Packers when they defeated the Oakland Raiders on January 14.


Mister Roger’s Neighborhood would be seen for the first time on February 19, 1968.


March 16, 1968 would be one of the low points of the Vietnam War when between 374-504 unarmed civilians were killed at My Lai by United States troops. 2nd Lt. William Calley was charged with 22 of the deaths and sentenced to life imprisonment, but only served three-and-a-half years of house arrest.


President Lyndon B. Johnson announced on March 31 that he would not be running for president in the 1968 election. His decision resulted in the Democrats only having one president elected in the next 24 years, when Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976. It would be 1993 before Bill Clinton took office as the 42nd president and he would become the first Democratic president to serve two complete terms since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


April 4, 1968 started a year of assassinations and demonstrations, when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of his Memphis motel room. Ironically only seven days later the Civil Rights Act bill was passed by Congress, which outlawed racial discrimination, which Dr. King had been fighting before his death.


Then only two months and one day after the assassination of Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated while celebrating a win in California primary during his 1968 presidential bid. Sirhan Sirhan is arrested for the murder of Kennedy.


 If Kennedy had lived to win the Democratic nomination, he may have defeated Richard Nixon in the 1968 election. Instead Nixon defeated Senator Hubert Humphrey by half a million votes.


The Yippies led by Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman would descend on Chicago and the streets of Chicago turned into a riot zone as the Yippies and other radical groups battled Chicago police, U.S. Army and National Guard, while the Democratic convention was being held.


The chaos on the streets of Chicago poured onto the Democratic Convention floor when Senator Abraham Ribicoff denounced the use of Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago. His remarks enraged Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago would could be seen yelling at Ribicoff.


Anti-war protesters in Chicago may have hurt their own cause. In retrospect they may have protested at the wrong convention since the Democrats were more on their side than the Republicans. The Republican convention in Miami was turmoil free, in contrast to the chaos in Chicago.


Richard Nixon would go on to defeat Senator Humphrey in the general election.


1969 was another year with many newsworthy events and January 12 of 1969 would see the New York Jets defeat the Baltimore Colts 16-7, after Jets quarterback Joe Namath had predicted the Jets would upset the Colts.


Richard Nixon would take office as the 37th president on January 20. The Beatles who had first sang in America almost five years ago would hold their last public concert on January 30.


Sirhan Sirhan admits assassinating Bobby Kennedy on March 3. Ironically seven days later James Earl Ray would plead guilty to assassinating Dr. Martin Luther King. Later that month former President Dwight D. Eisenhower died on March 28, 8 years after finishing his second term as president.


The first American troop withdrawals of the Vietnam War were made on July 8. Senator Teddy Kennedy would end any hope of becoming president, when he drove his car off a bridge on July 18, in what became known as the Chappaquiddick incident. Mary Jo Kopechne would die at the age of 28 in the submerged car.


Two days later on July 20, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, when the lunar module Eagle landed on the moon. It had to be ranked as one of the biggest stories of the 20th century. The first flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903 would have been another major advance in the 20th century. Their flight led to commercial flights by airlines in later years.


August 9, 1969 was a day of violence as Charles Manson followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. The next day August 10, they would murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home.


August 15, 1969 will always be remembered as the day the Woodstock Music Festival kicked off on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. The promoters were expecting 50,000 fans, but those numbers were very conservative, considering 500,000 fans showed up.


August 17 would be another deadly day, this time because of Hurricane Camille which hit the Mississippi coast killing 248 people and causing damage of $1.5 billion.


The first ATM was installed in Rockville Centre, New York on September 2, while on the same day Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam died.


The Chicago Eight trial begin on September 24 in Chicago, but was changed to the Chicago Seven, when Bobby Seale a Black Panther was sentenced to four-year sentence for contempt of court.


Another New York sports team would win a championship, when the New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Seven years earlier the Mets had been the laughingstock of baseball when they posted a 40-120 record in 1962.


On a lighter note Sesame Street would be seen for the first time on the National Education Network on November 10.


While 250,000-500,000 demonstrators were protesting against the war in Washington, D.C. on November 15, Dave Thomas is busy opening the first Wendy’s in Columbus Ohio.


American astronauts would walk on the moon, only four months after the initial landing, four months prior to the Apollo 12 landing. Pete Conrad and Alan Bean would both walk on the moon.


With the year drawing to a close, a draft lottery was put in place on December 1 and would be the last major event of 1969.


A quick rundown of the events in 1968-1969:




Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy Assassinated

Unarmed Vietnamese Citizens Killed By U.S. Troops

President Lyndon B. Johnson Announces He Will Not Run For Presidency

Anti-war protesters riot during the Democratic National Convention

Richard Nixon is elected president in general election.




Richard Nixon takes office of presidency

Withdrawal of Vietnam troops commences

Teddy Kennedy drives car off bridge in Chappaquiddick incident

Four astronauts become first men to walk on moon

Charles Manson followers kill seven in two days

500,000 anti-war protesters attend Woodstock Music Festival

Hurricane Camille kills 248 persons

First ATM installed in Rockville Centre, New York

Ho Chi Minh Dies

Chicago 7 Trial Begins in Chicago

250,000-500,000 demonstrate in anti-war protest in Washington, D.C.

Dave Thomas opens first Wendy’s

Sesame Street shown for the first time on National Education Network

Draft lottery is instituted























S.H. Kress: Out of Business For 30 Years

This is the original S.H. Kress building built in the 20's or 30's before new building was built many years later on Third Street.

It seems like it was only yesterday that we were shopping at the S.H. Kress store in downtown Alexandria, Louisiana.

The original store was built on Third Street and would later be replaced by a new structure on the same street.

When we were kids, we did most of our Christmas shopping at stores like Kress where you could buy a lot of stuff with very little money.

The Christmas tree would have a lot of presents under it, but most of them would be from stores like Kress, Morgan and Lindsey and Ben Franklin.

One of my fondest memories is that of smelling the popcorn cooking in the popcorn machine in the store.

S.H. Kress stores became a center of controversy, when they refused to let blacks sit at their lunch counters and were sued numerous times for that refusal.

Part of growing up in central Louisiana were trips to the Kress store on Third Street in downtown Alexandria.

The first Kress store was opened in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania in 1887. Kress became a chain of 5-10-25 cent stores in 1896. Genesco purchased Kress in 1964 and 17 years later the company would no longer exist in the United States, and ceased operation in 1981. It missed by six years of surviving for 100 years.

Alexandria would see many other stores like Kress closed when their companies went out of business. Other chain stores that were located in Alexandria or Pineville including, W.T. Grant, Woolworth’s, Woolco, Ben Franklin, Morgan and Lindsey and many more that ended their presence in Alexandria or Pineville.

It has been thirty years now since Kress went out of the retail business. It was the same year that President Reagan took office on January 20 and would be shot in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley on March 30 of that year.

Other events that year include:

May 13 –

Pope John Paul II is shot and almost killed by a Turkish gunman inside Vatican City.

August 1 – MTV is launched.

October 6 – President of Egypt Anwar Sadat is assassinated during a parade.

December 28- Elizabeth Jordan Carr becomes the first test tube baby to be born and grew up to be a newspaper journalist.

Popular Candy Bars

The Zero candy bar was first produced in 1920 and is still being made 91 years later. This may very well be the best candy bar ever made, with chocolate, caramel, peanuts and almond nougats on the inside and white fudge on the outside.

It was almost a daily ritual walking home from Pineville High to Burns Street to stop in the neighborhood grocery store where Lallah ended at Donahue Ferry. I remember an elderly lady ran the store. Can remember buying a Big Time candy bar every time.  I don’t even know why I liked them so much. They weren’t that much better than any other candy bar.

Coconut lovers loved the Almond Joy candy bar. It had a coconut center and two almonds in milk chocolate. It’s sister candy bar Mounds was similar to the Almond Joy, except without the almonds and encased in dark chocolate. I don’t know why anyone would want to ever eat a Mounds, after tasting the almonds in an Almond Joy bar.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was produced by the Curtiss Candy Company in 1921. Ironically, it was the year Babe Ruth hit 59 home runs. However, Babe Ruth had nothing to do with the naming of the Baby Ruth candy bar. It is said to be named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, Ruth Cleveland. 

Baby Ruth candy bars were made out of peanuts, caramel and nougats with a chocolate covering.  Curtiss Candy Company was sold to Nabisco in 1981, then sold to Nestle in 1991.

Curtiss Candy Company made their first Butterfinger Candy Bar in 1923, two years after the Baby Ruth candy bar was introduced. The candy bars have a taste similar to peanut butter and include crispy caramel in the center.

The Three Musketeers candy bar rolled off the assembly line in 1932 and was produced by M&M/Mars. The candy bars have a chocolate flavored nougat covered with milk chocolate.

I never ate chocolate cakes or most other products with chocolate, but always had a sweet tooth for chocolate candy bars. One of my favorites today are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and in addition, I have been known to eat a Snickers bar from time to time.

$2 Million Lottery Winner Still On Food Stamps

Leroy Fick 59, won $2 million in the Michigan lottery but despite telling food stamp officials that he won $2 million in the lottery, was told to keep using his food stamp card.

It is a mystery why he continues to use his food stamp card, since there is no way someone with $2 million would need food stamps.

It is almost a certainty that the law will be changed, but it should have been changed long before it got to this point.

Too many hardworking taxpayers are paying taxes to fund the food stamp program and they won’t be happy to learn about this waste of state money.

This man is rich enough to buy the grocery store, yet continues to draw from the public trough and is having his cake and eating it too.

It will be interesting to see how much longer this millionaire continues to buy his groceries with food stamps.

The complete Detroit News article:

American Idol Update – May 8

It is less than three weeks now till the final vote is revealed by Ryan Seacrest on who will be the next American Idol. Nine contestants have gone home and after Thursday only three will remain. My prediction is that Lauren or Scotty may be home this week, but after the Pia Toscano shocker, nobody is really safe this season.

Paula Abdul may not be part of American Idol, but Idol fans who follow her will be glad to know she will be a judge on Simon Cowell’s X-Factor this fall on the Fox network. She apparently left American Idol when she requested $10 million after learning Ryan Seacrest was being paid $15 million, but the producers refused to pay the $10 million so she walked. Now she will be sitting next to Simon Cowell again, which should help the ratings of the new show.

Adam Lambert has picked Haley Reinhart to be the next American Idol. He told the Hollywood Reporter “It’s incredible how  she makes it look so easy and effortless” and said “Plus she’s having fun up there.”

Lady Gaga will be the guest mentor on Wednesday’s show. Contestants might want to think twice before placing too much weight on her advice, since she likes to think out of the box, which might not go over well with the judges. Haley Reinhart, in particular needs to be careful with Lady Gaga as her mentor.

The contestants will be choosing music from the Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller catalog this week. Forty of their songs were in the Broadway musical Smokey Joe’s Cafe. This list at shows the titles and sound clips can be heard of each song. This list is not an inclusive list, but contains most of their better known hits.

Taylor Hicks has re-opened a restaurant-bar that he performed in while learning the music business. The restaurant is located in Birmingham, Alabama. He is one of the partners who re-opened the restaurant. This article gives many more details on the restaurant, including the menu being offered.

Nostalgic Memories From the Past

These are just some of my memories of the good old days:

When the  ice man brought ice to place in your icebox.

When milkmen brought your milk to the house with cream at the top of the bottles.

When attic fans were the only way of getting any air in a house.

When we would walk on the Murray Street Bridge and see the Red River below, when there were missing slats.

When we were hot and didn’t think about it being hot because it was all we knew since nobody had air conditioners then.

When television shows didn’t come on  till 3:30 PM.  Howdy Doody and Pinky Lee started the telecast day on KALB-TV in Alexandria, Louisiana in the 50’s.

When we listened to old time radio shows like Dragnet and Breakfast Club on the radio, while my mom listened to her soap operas like Just Plain Bill, Stella Dallas, Lorenzo Jones and Guiding Light.

When people would go to local appliance store at night and watch television through the display window at Jimmie Walker’s Appliances on Main Street in Pineville.

When we would come home from school and watch our cowboy heroes in action.

When nativity scenes could be seen in public places before ACLU raised such a fuss, that you can’t find one in a mall today.

When stores like Penneys, Sears and Montgomery Ward were located in free standing stores, before the advent of the shopping centers and malls.

When kids would trick or treat until 10PM at night, filling grocery bags full of candy, with no special Halloween bags.

When families went to drive-in movies together, while teenagers would sneak a extra kid in the trunk, to avoid paying for them.

When theatergoers would throw tomatoes at the movie screen if they were upset with a bad movie.

When Larry McHale of KALB – TV was advertising cigarettes and started coughing, but regrouped and said “Just thinking of those other brands makes me cough.”

When eating TV dinners were more popular than fast food.

When McDonald’s had 15 cent hamburgers.

When you could get a haircut for less than a dollar.

When it cost a dime to see a movie.

When it cost a dime for a school lunch in 1950 at Pineville Elementary in Pineville, Louisiana.

When kids collected baseball cards and put them in bicycle spokes.

When families would go on picnics at the city park, letting the kids play on the playground equipment.

When going to stores we would see white and colored water fountains. One black man tried both kinds and said they tasted the same.

When we watched No Time For Sergeants three times in a row at the movie theater. (One of the funniest movies ever, with Don Knotts being a dexterity expert, that became discombobulated by Andy Griffith’s character.)

When we used to drink Hawaiian Punch and Delaware Punch.

When we used to pay a nickel for a 6 ounce coke out of a machine. Now they charge over a $1.50 for a 20 ounce coke, when in the old days a 24 ounce coke would cost 20 cents.

When we walked a mile to school everyday for the entire 12 years of elementary and high school.

When there was no middle school back in the 50’s.

When Gov. Earl K. Long of Louisiana gave free chickens to voters during a gubneratorial election.

When going fishing meant taking a cane pole and not a expensive rod and reel.

When I bought a $6.50 Nokona baseball glove for $6.00 when the hardware store owner found out I didn’t have enough money to pay the full price.

When we celebrated Christmas by running around with sparklers.

When we would see the miniature church on the city square in Alexandria every Christmas.

When Christmas music was played downtown during the Christmas season.

When we used to play marbles in school.

When playing with a yo-yo was cool.

When hula hoops were the hot fad.

When high school kids rode bikes to school instead of driving cars.

When familes went to church together.

When families actually ate dinner together at a table, instead of in front of the television.

When kids made money by delivering newspapers on bicycle.

When we drank grapefruit juice at breakfast even though we didn’t like it.

When we ate Wheat Chex at breakfast even though we didn’t like it.

When we used to get excited about another school year starting.

When we went to special Christmas Eve services on a cold night in December and watching Christmas movies on television when we got home.

When we had a train set over our bed as a kid.

When we took a trip in 1957 and saw the Howard Johnson restaurants with the orange roofs.

When we got together as a family to hear mother read from the Bible.

When we used to listen to records on the record player.

When homemade ice cream was better than any ice cream bought in a store.

When pizza was delivered to the house the first time.

When mom and pop stores went out of business because of Wal-Mart.

When there used to be neighborhood groceries scattered around in residential neighborhoods.

Yes, those truly were the good old days.

100,000th Visitor To Nostalgia and Now

Nostalgia and Now had the 100,000th visitor yesterday, since the website started, in April of 2009. After a slow start, in which only 529 visits were made to the site, in the first full month, 12,071 visits were made last month.

There was one blip in October of 2010 when there were 14,039 visitors, mostly because of an article about the death of Barbara Billingsley, the mother on Leave it to Beaver.

The average number of visits per day has risen from 14 in April of 2009, to 94 in April,2010 and is 495 so far this April.

Over the last four weeks, the number of visits per week has been 2,437, 2,720, 3,320 and 3,757.

The yearly totals have increased from 8,932 in 2009, to 60,955 in 2010 and to 30,511 in the first three months and eleven days of 2011.

None of this would be possible without the loyal readers of Nostalgia and Now.

Lately, I have had writer’s block on nostalgia, so would appreciate any readers with nostalgic ideas to send them to me at

I want to thank every reader who has ever visited this website, and hope they have found something interesting.

To find the more nostalgic postings, look further back in the archives to 2009. This 2009 post about A&W Root Beer stands, is an example of the nostalgic posts:

What Year Did McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Etc. Start?

It is interesting to look up when a certain fast food company first started, plus how many years they have been in business. This list will make it easier to find out when each of these companies started:

A&W Root Beer Stands………………………..1921 – 96 years

Arby’s…………………………………………………1964 – 53 years

Blimpie’s…………………………………………….1964 – 53 years

Bojangle’s……………………………………………1977 – 40 years

Burger King………………………………………..1953 – 64 years

Captain D’s………………………………………….1969 – 48 years

Checkers…………………………………………….1986 – 31 years

Chick – Fil – A………………………………………1946 – 71 years

Church’s Chicken……………………………….1952 – 65 years

Dairy Queen………………………………………..1940 – 77 years

Dunkin’ Donuts…………………………………..1950 – 67 years

Hardee’s………………………………………………1960 – 57 years

Kentucky Fried Chicken……………………..1952 – 65 years

Krispy Kreme………………………………………1937 – 80 years

McDonald”s…………………………………………1940 – 77 years…..46 years since Ray Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers business. 

Popeye’s………………………………………………1972 – 45 years

Quizno’s………………………………………………1975 – 42 years

Sonic Drive In……………………………………..1953 – 64 years

Subway………………………………………………..1965 – 52 years

Taco Bell……………………………………………..1962 –  45 years

Wendy’s……………………………………………….1969 – 48 years

Whataburger……………………………………….1950 – 67 years

It is surprising that no company on the list was founded less than 25 years ago. The oldest company on the list is A&W Root Beer which started 96 years ago in 1921.

I was very surprised that Sonic Drive In had been in business for 64 years, since I had never heard of Sonic till they moved into central Louisiana.

The newest company on the list is Checkers which was founded in 1986 and is now has been in business for 31 years. 



Extreme Couponing: Couponer Pays $8.27 on $684.56 Grocery Bill

This grocery bill receipt added up to $676.29 before subtracting coupons. After coupons were subtracted the couponer paid a total of $8.27.


Extreme Couponing debuted on TLC last night and will be seen on Wednesdays, at 9PM EDT and 8PMCDT.

The show follows the couponer being featured in the episode, from clipping out the coupons, then follows them as they shop and then to the checkout register.

Some of the couponers actually pay websites, to send them coupons in bulk. One couponer last night was shown going from door to door of neighbors and businesses, to pick up coupons friends had saved for them.

Another coupon takes her family dumpster diving to find coupons. The couponers featured on the show are also hoarders.

One man had 1,000 bottles of body wash stocked in his garage. The same man bought 300 toothbrushes, while shown shopping in the episode last night. He also almost filled up a shopping cart with deodorant.

When he went to the grocery store, he had $4,000 of cereal he had pre-ordered waiting for him. The cereal only cost him $150. To his credit, he did give some of the cereal to a local food bank.

The clerks at the checkout line have to dread seeing a couponer headed toward their lane. One lady couponer was shown checking out, when a serious problem arose. She had exceeded the 1,000 items allowed on one ticket.

The clerk had her break up her order, which freaked out the couponer. She seemed to lose track of which coupons, went with which product, but it ended well for her.

When shopping, the couponers have notebooks telling them which products, they have coupons for. It tickled me when one kid picked up a box of cereal, with Spiderman on it but the couponing mom told him, that she didn’t have a coupon for that item.

The most exciting part of the shopping trip for couponers, is totaling up the damage, then watch the computer screen, as the coupons are subtracted, from the original price. Even the couponers, start to worry when seeing the total price of the groceries. If they paid attention to details, they still walk away with huge savings.

By then a crowd of people, including store employees and customers, have gathered to see how much money the couponer has saved.

I am not sure this much attention, being paid to the extreme couponers, is good for them and other couponers.

The coupons don’t hurt the grocery stores since they are reimbursed for the coupons, but the manufacturers could cut way back on coupons being offered if too many customers start using coupons.

However, the couponers are a disruption to the routine at a grocery store, with one cashier tied up for an extremely long time, while checking a couponer with between 500 and 1,000 separate items. In one scene from the show several grocery store employees were shown pushing shopping carts toward the checkout lane.

An average shopper, doesn’t have the storage space to be an extreme couponer, but they still could use coupons to save money on a much smaller scale. For instance they could buy $200 for less than $10 if they have enough coupons.

The key is to have enough coupons, go on double or triple coupon days which results in receiving many products free.

To watch some of the extreme couponers in action (video will start automatically):

Dallas Cowboy Spends $54,896 On Meal For Teammates

Dez Bryant spent over $54,000 on his Dallas Cowboy teammates at the Pappas Brothers Steakhouse.

Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant, knows how to get on the good side of his teammates spending $54,896 on one meal for the entire team.

Bryant originally only planned to take the offensive players out, but the defense also ate at the expense of Bryant.

The big winners in the situation were the players eating out on Bryant’s money, plus the Pappas Brothers  steakhouse had to be ecstatic over receiving $54,896.

Nobody has claimed Bryant to be a good manager of money as he has been sued for $850,000 for bills he ran up in anticipation of him signing a a multi-million dollar contract.

One man is suing Bryant for $588,500 worth of jewelry, $15,850 in tickets and $11,000 in cash. Bryant agreed to pay what he owed the man by July 30, 2010. This is not totally Bryant’s fault, but he still should have made sure his agent paid this money on time. His agent should have told Bryant, this money has to be repaid or you will end up in court.

Now in addition to the money owed, Bryant will have to pay lawyer fees, when it should have been taken care of months ago.

A good agent would have told Bryant not to spend any money,  until the contract was actually signed. Athletes today need sound financial advice on how to spend this much money. If he had been in a car accident that crippled him for life, there would be no way to pay the $850,000 back, if he hadn’t signed a contract.

Maybe the people who lend money to players, in advance of them signing a contract, will think it over because of the Bryant case and let someone else lend them the money.

Bryant also owes a New York company $246,000 for jewelry purchases. How much jewelry does Bryant need? Why did he buy six men’s watches?

If Bryant doesn’t get his finances straightened out he will suffer the fate of M.C. Hammer and find himself penniless by the time he retires.

Hopefully Bryant and his agent learned a lesson from these lawsuits.

Missing Price Tags at Wal-Mart

Scanner found in Wal-Marts to tell customer price of an item from the barcode.

Is it just me or does it seem like prices are missing from more items at Wal-Mart lately? It is aggravating to not find a price, on the item or the shelf. Then the hunt is on to find a scanner which is not always easy to find.

Speaking for myself, I won’t buy an item without a price on it or on the shelf. Then the tricky part is matching an item with the price on the shelf. A lot of time is wasted by customers, looking for the same bar code number on the shelf, as is on the item.  This becomes even more of a problem when the item is out of place so its barcode number doesn’t match the number posted on the shelf.

You would think Wal-Mart would rather post a price, than to have the line at the register, held up by the cashier finding someone to find a price for them, if it doesn’t show up at the register either.

I like to avoid sticker shock so won’t even put an item with a disputable price in the basket, and just leave it on the shelf.

Sometimes the bar code scanner area is a dumping place for items, more expensive than thought as seen in the article.

The pile of goods abandoned beneath aisle bar code scanners at stores like Macy’s and Target prove that consumers don’t know how much things cost unless they go hunting, Dworsky said.

For those wanting more information on the missing price tags at stores:

The Great Depression


It wasn't easy to find work during the Great Depression.

Before the Great Depression the stock market was flourishing, many average citizens had invested money in the stock market and installment buying was the rage.

This video tells about how the 1929 stock market crashed.

Even though October 29 is regarded as the day the stock market crashed, the day before had seen even larger drop than on Black Tuesday. On October 28 the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell from close to 300 points, to $260.34 for a fall of 38 points and stocks decreased in value by 12.82 percent.

Some investors who lost large sums of money took their lives when the stock market crashed:

After the initial crash, there was a wave of suicides in the New York’s financial district. It is said that the clerks of one hotel even started asking new guests if they needed a room for sleeping or jumping. –

Then on Black Tuesday stocks dropped another 30 points to 230.07, losing another 11.73 percent in value. Even though the stock market was a major factor in the resulting Great Depression falling real estate prices in 1925, had caused rumblings, about the economy not being strong.

The smart investors had bailed out of the stock market when they saw the writing on the wall and knew it had reached the top.

The Great Depression as bad as it was, did not affect 40 percent of the population. The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1941. World War II spurred the economy as workers were needed for defense plants and for other war-connected industries.

President Herbert Hoover sealed his fate when he said the worst was over in 1930 when in fact it wasn’t over till 1941.

My dad was 15 years old when the stock market crashed and lived through the Great Depression.

Unemployment was a major problem with Toledo, Ohio having an unemployment rate of 80 percent at one point. has an excellent list of 50 interesting facts, about the Great Depression,  that  shed more light on the tenor of the times.



Dictators on Way Out?

Protesters calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Dictators all over the world have to be concerned after the protests in Egypt that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. He stubbornly held onto power promising elections before finally caving in to the protesters and giving up his power.

Mubarak had been in power since 1981 when then President Anwar Sadat was assassinated.

Now we have Libya in a similar crisis with their leader  Muammar Gaddafi desperately holding on to power with his Air Force bombing protesters. He has been in power since 1969, ruling the country for 42 years.

Iran is still dealing with protesters calling for the overthrow of President Ahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has only been in power for six years but has made many worldwide enemies. His threats to use nuclear weapons against his enemies have many nations concerned.

He survived one round of protests but with the wave of protests in many countries he may suffer the fate of Mubarak and possibly Gaddafi sooner rather than later. The world would breathe a sigh of relief, if Ahmadinejad were removed from power and a leader who would  be less likely to use nuclear weapons was voted into the presidency of Iran.

Bahrain and Tunisia are also in disarray. Tunisia has already had two leaders this year with President Mohamed Ghannouci resigning on Feb. 27.

It makes me wonder how Cuban leader Fidel Castro would handle protests in Cuba, if protesters would fill the streets in Havana.

He has been in power since 1959 for 52 years. The fact that thousands have left Cuba in small boats since he took power tells me he is not that popular. However, he has dealt harshly with his enemies which probably deters his enemies from being too vocal.

The protesters in many cases in these countries are not asking for much. They want to be able to vote for who they want, not some despotic dictator who rules with an iron hand.

Each time a dictator is removed from office it will spur citizens of other countries who are governed by a dictatorship to try protests as a way of gaining free elections.

The economic effect of these protests has rocked the worldwide oil markets. Gas prices here are up as high as $3.37 a gallon after lingering below $3.00 for months.

Once again, the country is in another oil crisis. There will be talk of consumers needing to buy more fuel efficient vehicles but invariably when the crisis ends, if it ends the sales of larger gas burning vehicles will go back to where they were before the crisis.

Americans are being held hostage by the middle east countries who control the flow of oil to the United States.

We will know in the coming weeks if the current oil crisis will end or we will see increasing prices for all products since oil is needed to transport those products and the higher prices for oil will be passed on to the consumers.

We are at the mercy of the oil producing countries. For years the politicians have talked about developing other sources of energy besides oil but when an oil crisis ends the talk subsides.

What is it going to take for the politicians in Washington to actually do something about the oil situation? It looks like none of them care enough to do something about it since they can afford the higher oil prices. Meanwhile the people that are affected the most by the higher oil prices have to cut back on food and other expenses to be able to drive to work.

The Duggars: 19 Kids and Counting

The Duggar family can be seen on 19 Kids and Counting on the TLC network.


On July 21, 1984 Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were married. 27 years later they have 19 children. They didn’t want to have children until 1988 but they lost the first baby due to a miscarriage.

Both Jim and Michelle are successful real estate agents. They built a 7,000 square foot house to accomodate the children. Amazingly they built it debt free which has helped them afford to raise the kids without a huge house note.

Even then, it has to be a huge expense to feed and buy clothes for so many children. It is difficult to comprehend how they can afford the expenses connected with raising children today plus pay the huge utility bills for a 7,000 square foot house.

They do buy used merchandise to save money, shopping at thrift stores.

Besides the financial expense, raising that many young children has to be extremely tiring even though some of the older children assist in the care of their younger brothers and sisters.

It is easy to criticize them for having so many children to raise considering if anything were to happen to the mother and/or father the state and federal government would probably have to spend large sums of money to support them.

So far, I have never seen an episode in which they discussed money problems but not saying that hasn’t happened.

One episode showed Michelle demanding that one of the children look her in the eyes when she was speaking to them. That way she had the undivided attention of that child. We can all learn from the way they raise their children.

The logistics involved in preparing meals for that many children has to be overwhelming but with a schedule for each activity of the day they make good use of their time.

They have raised their children well. If they hadn’t Supernanny would have found out she wasn’t so super if she had 19 misbehaving kids to teach how to behave.

I have the utmost respect for Jim and Michelle Duggar. They have succeeded in raising their kids with Christian values.

May God bless their family as the children grow into adults in the coming years. Great Multimedia Website will keep a reader entertained for hours. is probably the best source for audio and video online this side of YouTube.  The home page for the website as I write this article has a link to an audio version of a Grateful Dead concert at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum at New Haven, Connecticut on May 11, 1981.

The concert is only one of 803,305 audio recordings at the website.  There are 2,214 old time radio related links to old time radio shows and magazines that were printed during the height of the popularity of old time radio.

One Roy Rogers episode has been downloaded 74,882 times showing that the website is available for downloading many of the old time radio shows we grew up with.

Old time radio fans will love looking at list after list of old time radio shows available for downloading including some of the more obscure shows which have very few episodes in existence.

The live music archive features 88,813 archives while the moving image archives total 451,934.

Avid readers will enjoy knowing that there are 2.694,639 texts including books and ebooks. The new Bookreader at the site includes Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin and is the example shown of how the Bookreader works.

There is an audio version of some books but the one I listened to was not of the best quality and seemed to be a computer generated voice which probably would be tiring to listen to for an entire book.

Most readers may not enjoy the voice and instead opt to read the books without sound. For those that like the audio they should enjoy the feature that highlights the portion of the book being read by the voice.

The Mega Reader iPhone app provides access to the 1.8 million free books at so they each iPhone user can have their own personal reader.

Each volume of the Warren Report investigation of the assassination of  President John F. Kennedy is available to read.

The site is an excellent source of reading material for educators and students who are looking for books that are no longer copyrighted.

One word of caution: it could take hours just to look at what is available at This website may have the most content of any website online and is worth going to the website to see for yourself what is available.

Shipley Donut Shops: 75 Year History

Shipley Donuts shop located in Spring, Texas.

Lawrence Shipley Sr. made his first Shipley Donut in 1936 in Houston, Texas. They sold for five cents a dozen. 75 years later you can’t even buy one donut for five cents much less a dozen. They were sold exclusively at wholesale prices before becoming a retail store.

The first Shipley Donuts retail store was opened in 1940. Today there are about 220 Shipley Donut shops  located in six states. Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas are the only states with Shipley Donut shops.

Shipley Donuts sign in Alexandria, Louisiana.

The first Shipleys in Alexandria according to was opened in 1966. The website lists Greg Pebbles as the owner and Dallas E. Pebbles as the president of the Alexandria company.

Shipleys has had a presence in Alexandria for 45 years and has been frequented by customers who love donuts  and love to talk to other Alexandria citizens in the shops while drinking coffee with their donuts.


Life in the 1940’s

A young Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower is shown in the above photo as the Louisiana Maneuvers involving 400,000 U.S. soldiers took place north of Pineville, Louisiana in 1941. Four years later Col. Eisenhower would be a general commanding the D-Day invasion as the U.S. would enter the European theater of World War II on June 6, 1944. Less than a year later the war would be over in Europe when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. Three months later on August 15,1945 the Japanese would surrender.

The war was just part of 1940’s history but affected the daily lives of those who stayed home during the war. In 1943 automobile production was halted so those materials could be used in the war effort.

American citizens experienced rationing of food supplies in 1943. Travel was limited in order to make tires last longer and drivers were told to not drive over 35 MPH to extend the life of tires.

Interesting Facts From the 40’s

The U.S. population was 122 million in the 1940’s and is as of this moment at over 311 million an increase of  189 million since the 1940’s.

The national debt in the 40’s was $43 billion but the national debt today stands at over $14 trillion. The minimum wage was 43 cents an hour and in 1966 when I started work at the Alexandria Town Talk in Alexandria, Louisiana the minimum wage was $1.40 an hour an increase of about a dollar an hour over what American workers were earning in minimum wage in the 40’s. The minimum wage today is $7.25

Many Had No Indoor Plumbing

Only 55 percent of  American homes had indoor plumbing in the 1940’s and outhouses were still being widely used.

The first commercial television stations went on the air in the 1940’s. The first digital computers weighed 30 tons.

Big Band Music Dominated

Big band music dominated the music scene during the 40’s as the bands traveled across the U.S. entertaining fans of big name bandleaders like Glenn Miller, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.

The 1940’s would be the last decade in which old time radio ruled  the airwaves as television began to convert radio listeners into television viewers.

1945 would see the development of the first TV dinner. At the end of World War II there were only 5,000 television sets in existence. In 1951 that number would increase to 17 million sets being used.

Window Air Conditioners Gained Popularity

Only 74,000 window air conditioners were sold in 1948 and that number increased to 1.45 million by 1953.  We didn’t buy our first air conditioner till about 1967 so was 9 years old when we first bought a television and 23 when we bought our first air conditioner.

I don’t ever remember being hot though since that was all we knew and didn’t have anything to compare it with.

The following website has even more details about the 1940’s and the events and entertainment from that decade.

No Modern Electronics in the 40’s

Back in the 1940’s the cell phone,  MP3 players, HD televisions, DVD players, laptops, notepads and electronic readers were not yet in use leaving time for other activities. Life was simpler then with no ringtones being heard from a cell phone when a phone call or message was being sent.

The 40’s saw the birth of my oldest brother in 1941, my birth in 1944, the birth of a younger brother in 1947 and a younger sister in 1947.

No War at End of Decade

The decade ended without another major war but June of 1950 would see the start of the Korean War the war which has been more of a forgotten war except for the veterans of that war and their family members.

You seldom see any television documentaries about the Korean War while you can always find film from World War II and the Vietnam War on television programs.

The 1940’s ended 62 years ago but for those of us who lived during that decade it will be forever etched in our memories.

Great Depression Photos

The Great Depression was a worldwide economic downturn that lasted from 1929 to 1940 in most countries. The U.S. stock market started falling on September 4, 1929 and culminated on Black Tuesday on October  29 when the stock market crashed.

Unemployment rose 607 percent from 1929-1932 in the United States. Investors could buy a $10 stock for only $1 at the time of the stock market crash and when the brokers requested the balance to be paid the investors didn’t have the money to pay the brokers.

The following photos tell the story of the Great Depression better than words could ever say:

Hurricane Katrina: Lest We Forget

August 29 will mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which cost 1,836 lives due to the hurricane and floods which caused property damage of $81 billion and left thousands homeless.

It doesn’t seem like it has been five years since Hurricane Katrina hit the United States on August 29, 2005. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina left thousands of refugees without homes.

The refugees first went to the Superdome for safety but when the levees broke many of them had no homes to return to after the levees broke and water as high as 15 feet flooded the city in some places.

The hurricane did massive damage to the city but the flooding turned a bad situation into an even worse situation as stranded flood victims begged for someone to rescue them from the roofs of their houses.

While this was going on there were thousands at the Superdome and Civic Center who had no food or water for several days as the government was extremely slow in responding to the calls for food and water by the refugees.

I don’t know the timeline in Haiti as to how fast food and water arrived after the earthquake there but I have a feeling they may have been given food and water faster than those refugees in New Orleans who begged food and water for days before finally getting help.

President Bush told the television networks that Michael Brown was doing a great job as FEMA director while there were thousands of people begging for food and water to stay alive. While nobody was responding to the calls for help people were dying from the lack of food and water to sustain them.

How could government officials see the pain the people were in and not respond sooner is beyond me. I know it takes time to get the food and water to the refugees but there should have been a contingency plan that could have expedited the relief efforts.

I realize that it was not easy to get to the refugees because of the flooding but why wasn’t there some airdrops made that could have dropped pallets with food and water for the refugees.

The television networks documented the situation showing the need of the refugees yet it seemed like nobody in the government was doing anything to alleviate the situation. People were dying in the city because they were unable to get a bottle of water for each refugee.

Not only did the federal government fail the refugees but the state and local government did nothing till after refugees had died from lack of water and food.

Hopefully some lessons were learned by the different government entities that failed the refugees that will prevent another situation like was experienced by the refugees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Thousands of the refugees who had no homes to return to boarded busses to different destinations taking them to an uncertain future in different parts of the United States. Many of them have never returned to New Orleans.

My son left New Orleans before the hurricane hit riding his bicycle and made better time than the motorists who were in long lines of cars exiting the city of New Orleans. We were living in Pineville, Louisiana which is 219 miles northwest of New Orleans at the time of the hurricane.

The hurricane didn’t affect us much since the hurricane hit the eastern side of the state. However we had an interest in what was happening to New Orleans since we had been there several times over the years.

Brian Williams of NBC made an interesting retrospective of what it was like when Hurricane Katrina hit and the aftermath on a recent Dateline NBC program that reminds us again of the suffering endured by the refugees of Hurricane Katrina.

Those who missed the broadcast and would like to see the program can find it in six parts:

This photo shows how the flooding covered part of the I-10 and I-610 interchange in the New Orleans area.

I was impressed by the sincerity of Brian Williams in the Dateline NBC program and his ability to tell what it was like to be there in the center of the storm and the aftermath in which our government was unable to respond to calls for food and water until several days after the hurricane had hit.

If the government doesn’t have a better contingency plan than we had in 2005 we are doomed to repeat history the next time a major hurricane hits the United States.

Only Three Howard Johnson Restaurants Remain

One of the many Howard Johnson restaurants that dotted the American countryside serving fried clams and 28 flavors of ice cream in the middle of the 20th century.

When part of our family made a trek from Louisiana to Maine in a 1949 Packard one of my favorite memories from the trip were when we stopped to eat at a Howard Johnson restaurant in Beverly, Massachusetts if my memory is correct about the city.

The two items I remember from the menu were the fried clams and the 28 flavors of ice cream. I can still recall the bright orange roofs of Howard Johnson restaurants.

I can’t recall too much about that 1957 visit of 53 years ago but it saddened me to know that there are only three Howard Johnson restaurants in existence today.

History of Howard Johnson Restaurants

It was the year of 1925 when Howard Johnson was $40,000 in debt. However he borrowed another $500 to take over a patent medicine store with a soda fountain and a newstand.

He sold the three basic flavors of ice cream which were vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. He decided to experiment to see if he could improve the taste of the ice cream he was selling and when he was successful lines of people waited to buy the ice cream.

The success of the ice cream inspired Johnson to turn his store into a restaurant and he started another restaurant in 1929 the same year of the stock market crash which slowed him down but didn’t impede his desire to expand.

Johnson originated restaurant franchising in America which led to the franchise system of doing business today for many fastfood chains.

By 1935 he had established 25 ice cream and sandwich stands in Massachusetts. He experienced great financial success till the advent of World War II which crippled his business because of food rationing and curtailment of travel to help the war effort.

The war caused most of the restaurants to close and the company was close to bankruptcy but after the war ended the company opened some of the closed restaurants and by 1954 there were 400 Howard Johnson restaurants in America.

At this point the company opened it’s first Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Savannah, Georgia and then began have a Howard Johnson restaurant adjacent to the motor lodges so travelers could have the convenience of eating right there on the premises instead of having to drive around looking for a place to eat.

By 1979 there were 1,000 restaurants and 500 motor lodges. However the 1980’s would see the fast food industry cut into their profits and the company was sold in 1980 for $630 million to an British company.

Now 30 years later only three Howard Johnson restaurants remain in business. The business may not be what it used to be but nothing can remove the memories of the 28 flavors of ice cream and the bright orange roofs which made the restaurants stand out as travelers ventured along American highways.

Noah’s Potato Chips – Alexandria, Louisiana

Noah's Potato Chips were produced in this building on Lee Street in Alexandria, Louisiana and were unlike any potato chip I had tasted before or after.

Noah’s Potato Chips were unlike any potato chip I have ever tasted. They seemed to be thinner and greasier than most potato chips today. Noah’s potato chips were not only sold in bags but were sold in cans and are the only chips I recall being sold in a can. The Lee Street location in Alexandria is the only place I remember them being produced.

Noah Bohrer founded the Noah Potato Chips company in the 1940’s. As far as I know the company no longer exists. I can only recall the

This article tells about his the death of Noah Bohrer at the age of 93 and how he got started in the potato chip business:

Col. Sanders on I’ve Got a Secret

Col. Harland Sanders appears on I’ve Got a Secret shortly after selling his company Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964 and the panelists try to guess his secret which has nothing to do with selling the company.

Grocery Prices of the Past

These 1940’s grocery prices are from the website.

It won’t be easy matching the prices in the above ad. Try finding coffee for 19 cents a pound today or two boxes of Wheaties for the same 19 cents.





A Chicago restaurant featured a deluxe Thanksgiving dinner for a $1.


If you’ve priced Thanksgiving dinners lately you will know the above ad offered a real bargain compared to the prices being charged today for Thanksgiving dinners.

The dinner included roast young Vermont turkey, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. Try finding this deal at your nearest Holiday Inn restaurant this next Thanksgiving or your nearest Krogers grocery store.




These prices are from a 1930’s grocery ad.


Back in the 1930’s you could purchase ten pounds of sugar for only 47 cents and a quart jar of mustard for 15 cents.

In addition buyers back then had their choice of two pounds of lard or a can of peaches for 15 cents.





Website Guaranteed to Make You Hungry

If you have been looking all over town for Seaweed Potato Chips this website may let you know if they are worth looking for and you will find 4,547 other snacks reviewed at the website.

If you want more info about a myriad of snacks that are covered in detail at you will find more than enough info to form an opinion on any snack mentioned at the website.

The site lists 379 candy bars, 310 barbecue chips, 158 peanut butter snacks, 175 snacks that rhyme with the name of Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito and 130 vinegar chips.

As of today there are 4,548 snacks reviewed at the site.

There are also articles that let the reader know pertinent information like Johan Santana a pitcher for the Mets can buy 9.4 million cans of Pringles for his $18 million salary. Another interesting story is that a man setting fire to potato chips in a Wal-Mart store caused the store to be closed.

One man was sent to prison for 21 years after stabbing his cousin in an altercation over potato chips.

Readers can find out what the most popular potato chips are with the April edition showing that Dorito’s 3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero chips is the No.1 chip. The reviewer said they are hotter than Dorito’s 1st Degree Burn and 2nd Degree Burn chips.

These are just a few of the many features at the website. Next time you can’t decide exactly what kind of snack you are hungry for this website will give you the info you need to make an educated decision:

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 10 Times Larger Than Original

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup lovers who couldn't get their fill with the small 1.5 ounce size packages can now splurge with the new 16 ounce size packages with two 8 ounce cups.

Reese’s Peanut Cup lovers have had to only have small doses of their regular treat until now. The packages that contained two cups weighing 1.5 ounces have been outdone by the new huge packages weighing 16 ounces with two gigantic cups of 8 ounces each.

It will be easier than ever for fans of the Reese’s Peanut Cups to pack on the pounds. If they buy two packages they could gain two pounds in a matter of minutes when before they could eat 21 packages before gaining two pounds.

For more details on this treat this website is guaranteed to make you hungry if you browse around and read about all the snacks. Chief Snacks Officer Jeremy Selwyn writes about the new and improved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

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