Archive | December, 2012

The Early Years – Becoming a Writer

7 Dec

Antiguo Mercado Calle Mesones Back Cover

The Early Years – Becoming a Writer
Copyright William J. Conaway, 2012

Jaime Morris
Sitting in the jardin early one morning, Jim and I watched a large black man ride an extra large horse past the parroquia, and up Correo Street.
We found out that his name was Jim “Jaime” Morris, and that he had a string of horses that he rented. We talked it over and decided to try it out. Neither of us had ridden much, but we had always wanted to, growing up as we had with the “Lone Ranger,” and all the other western heroes on TV and in the movies.
We found his “ranch” on the hill overlooking the San Juan de Dios church. He told us that he was from Chicago, a retired cop, and yes he would rent us horses and teach us some of the finer points of horseback riding.
During the following days, he taught us how to mount properly and the use of the reins. We learned how to make a horse back up, and by a little more pressure with the reins to make them rear up on their hind legs. Well, I thought that was great stuff, and did it over and over again. ‘Til one day I pulled back a little too hard, and the horse went over backwards! Luckily he landed on his side, and I was not crushed to death underneath him. Needless to say that was the last time I reared a horse.
In our conversations with Jaime, we learned he had come to San Miguel to establish a community of black folks in town, followers of the Bahia Faith. He showed us his hillside he had all staked out into small lots that he was planning to sell to them. We even watched him interview a group that had come to see what he was offering.
( Listed on Wikipedia: The Bahá’í Faith ( /bəˈhaɪ/)[1] is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá’u’lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind.)
Unfortunately for Jaime the city fathers, along with the Catholic church ganged up on him and he had to drop his plans (or be stoned to death).
We learned to ride pretty well, and didn’t have to pay as Jaime enjoyed being able to speak English with someone once in a while. We helped herd his goats, sheep, and horses down the hill to the creek that flowed there (now a partially open sewer with a hodge podge of venders squatting on top of the covered part).
Years later, my friend Jim used his riding talents as an extra, in Spain, working on a spaghetti western.

Bajada de Salida a Queretaro


It’ll Do – Tommy Thompson

6 Dec


It’ll Do – It Takes Some Thought to Run for State Representative

5 Dec

It'll Do

It’ll Do
Copyright William J. Conaway,1989

Episode 16 – It Takes Some Thought to Run for State Representative

We were sitting around one day talking about good old Tommy Thompson and how he was out of a job again.

“Isn’t Senator Flogg due to step down this year?” asked Sully. It was true: Senator Flogg had been having some trouble with the press and it wasn’t exactly a secret that he had been promoting a Florida real estate deal, which had got him some property down there. Representative Boyd Ferrel would naturally step up to take the Senate seat, but that would leave Boyd’s seat open.

“You don’t have to be very smart to be a State Representative,”: Orville reminded everyone.

“That’s one thing you can’t be,” said J.C.

Everyone admits that Tommy Thompson was the best quarterback that Cherryville ever had, but that was quite a few years ago, and life goes on.

Tommy has worked at just about every job anyone could manufacture for him. Lots of people have bought insurance policies, used cars, stocks or futures from him that didn’t really want. Whatever it was though, people could tell that Tommy didn’t have the heart for it. He should have been a coach, but he could never get his Teacher’s Certificate.

Orville went on, “I don’t think Tommy would be any worse than your average Representative. I don’t see how he could possibly do anyone any harm, and since everyone in the county knows Tommy, he could probably get the job.”

Then Sully brought up the sad fact that you couldn’t run any kind of campaign without money, and he didn’t think Tommy had any. But if you didn’t have buttons and bumper-stickers and such no-one would take you seriously. He had a point.

Most of the afternoon was taken up considering exactly how we could help Tommy Thompson in his forthcoming campaign. We agreed, most of us, that is, that the only thing he needed to win was money, and so the consideration came down to how we could get some for him. We crossed off a Benefit Goat Roping, a Benefit Beer Bust at the Fair Grounds, and The First Annual Invitational Great Tortoise-Trot–they were the only ideas we had.

Orville suggested a Wet T-shirt contest, but after we discussed it we decided there wasn’t enough good material in town to make it very interesting.

One thing about the It’ll Do, you just had to wait awhile and some one will come through the door. So we got some more suggestions. Fletch Flecher thought maybe someone could sit a flag pole for two or three weeks, but no-one volunteered to do it. There was the idea of raffling off a woman, and Gordon said he would talk to the bar-maid at the “Barn”, who would probably help out for a good cause–but that was just talk.

Vera made more sense than anyone, but that’s not unusual, when she said before we went off half-cocked perhaps someone should ask Tommy’s wife, Mary Sue, what she thought? You notice, Vera didn’t say anything about asking Tommy. Vera said she would pick up Mavis and the two of them would drive out and talk with Mary Sue.

This was fine with the rest of us, because we had started to seriously consider the problem, and there were some interesting possibilities coming to light. Vera–God Bless her–didn’t have the type of sense of humor which would allow her to appreciate some of the things we were thinking.

To tell the truth, we couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t either too dangerous, like having a Demolition Derby on Main street, or too illegal.

The idea of building a Viking ship, sailing it from here down the river and up to Scandinavia came up. Having people pledge so much a nautical mile would have been legal, if anyone would actually go through with it. Nobody wanted too. Thad came in from his farm with about eight gallons of honey in his truck and Orville suggested to him that the best hing you could do with honey was to make Mead. You could home-brew some powerful stuff with honey. Orville said mead was what the old Vikings drank.

By the time Vera got back we had pretty well decided on it.

There’s an old quarry north of town that is almost like an amphitheater, a pretty place. In the quarry there’s always some water standing; deep enough for perch, clear as a bell. We would put on a revival there, and the water would be handy for baptisms.

Now, what we would do is to make up about ten five-gallon jugs of mead. We could get the honey donated, we wouldn’t call this drink by its right name, we would call it Nectar, and sell it for fifty-cents the jigger. We wouldn’t even need a percentage from the collection plate.
Vera said that she and Mavis had talked with Tommy–Mary Sue was getting her hair done–and Tommy wasn’t sure he was the right man for the job. He was giving serious consideration to taking over the Florida business from Flogg, when Flogg retired….


It’ll Do – Mavis McEwn

4 Dec



3 Dec

It'll Do

It’ll Do
Copyright William J. Conaway, 1989


“I’m not the best person to be telling this,” said J.C. “But I guess I know Mavis about as well as anyone here. She’s my friend”.

No-one would have thought it—after all, Mavis is somewhere on the long side of forty. If you haven’t been dumb enough to fall in love before that age, its no time to start and Lord knows, not with him.

Who was he? Well, Sully didn’t know, nor any of the rest of us either. He had come into the It’ll Do several times and we under- stood that he was out of Kansas City looking over places for a new Wal-Mart.

Every time I saw him his shoes were shined and he wore a coat and tie. He had a city hair-cut, and he was polite in a way that had nothing to do with being polite. How he attracted Mavis, I don’t know, but it wasn’t by reciting poetry.

“Now, Mavis doesn’t have any money to speak of, at least not that I could tell. She looks all right, but nothing that you’d send a snap-shot to all your friends about”.

The feeling in the It’ll Do was, it was love on her part—we all knew exactly what HE was interested in.

“I want to describe Mavis, because you don’t know her. Perhaps you should: she’s one of the best people in Cherryville. She is a librarianand looks like one. Except she smiles a lot and there’s nothing phony about it”.

“She makes everyone at the bar feel a little better when she comes in. She showed up in Cherryville about fifteen years ago. She had her Teaching Certificate but got a job in the county library instead. I wasn’t in town at the time, but I know she took over the library and made a popular place of it. When I got back in town she had some of the retirees reading right along with the kids. I don’t read much myself”.

“She doesn’t dress like an old maid school teacher, everything is well packaged. She wears her hair long, and always smells nice. She’s like when the leaves are turning and the wind is coming from the north”.

“What did she see in this gopher from Kansas City?”

He was driving one of those four-banger foreign sports cars that, I’ll admit, looked pretty slick. The car was the best thing about him. He was a good five years younger than Mavis.

They came into the It’ll Do together and he went over and shoveled some quarters into the juke box. Sully should have been happy about that—it doesn’t get played that often. Then the dude slides and greases around, inviting Mavis to come out and dance.

Hardly anyone dances at the It’ll Do except, maybe when there’s some occasion and everyone has had a little too much and there’s an urge to jump around with someone else. There’s, this ass who thinks he is cutting some figure when all he is really doing is embarrassing everyone—Mavis included. She, being the Lady she is, acts as if she didn’t notice the dead silence that came over the people of the It’ll Do.

The music was going and the dude was singing along with it. She just slid into one of the booths and sat there until finally the guy gives up and goes over to join her.

I would very much like to tell you that I went over and bashed his head in, or even that Orville did. Or Sully—but he wouldn’t because he likes a quiet, family, sort of place.

Mavis McEwn would have had her head on a little straighter if the County hadn’t come in and changed the Library into a Computer/ Communications Center and took away most of the books and replaced them with what-all, Mavis changed. Even though she stayed on at the Carnegie Library as the new Computer Communication Center Coordinator, everyone could see that she was fit to be tied.

I was looking down into my glass of beer and brooding, thinking that this was no cause for her to take up with some dude who didn’t know how to pour piss out of a boot; no-one—and sure as hell not me—was going to sit around and see her get hurt.

Orville was looking into his beer and he didn’t look very friendly either. Sully had cleaned all the glasses around the bar a couple of times.

Normally Old Man Williams wouldn’t get up off his bar stool unless maybe it was for a fire, but he went over to where Mavis was sitting (the dude was up again, waltzing around the little dance floor alone with a beer in his hand). Now, Old Man Williams weighs the better part of four-hundred pounds. When he goes somehere you’d best be out of his way.

When I saw him going across the room I thought maybe he was going to go sit on the dude. I wanted him to. If you knew Old Man Williams, you’d know he never has much to say. So, naturally, I didn’t think he was going over there to talk. He kneeled down beside Mavis. It was quite a sight.

“Mavis, dear, there is not much left for me in my old age but to share my wisdom, with those I truly admire. I’ve come to know and love you through the years. I’ve seen your goodness. How you’ve inspired the children and the old folks. You’re a torch that lights Cherryville with a kindness and an appreciation for the best within us.”

Well you could have heard a pin drop then because the music had stopped and nobody had ever heard Old Man Williams talk so much before.

“Mavis,” he continued, “I going to beat this son-of-a-bitch to a rag picker’s pulp right here, or would you prefer that I take him out in the back to do it?”

Mavis breathed what we took to be a sigh of relief, and gave Old Man Williams a kiss on the cheek.

The last we saw of the dude was his back-side going out the door. Old Man Williams couldn’t pay for a drink that night. Nor all the next week—and they weren’t all drinks on The House, either.


It’ll Do – Hogs is Hogs

1 Dec


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