Back then: Doctor My Eyes. Now: Doctor Everything.

The exact chain of thinking is already lost, but Dustin told me he was going to a concert this evening and suddenly I’m reminiscing about a random show I once attended.

Somebody on Facebook mentioned The Eagles and now I’m trying to recall my own history… wondering whether I had seen them opening for the Rolling Stones (nope, that was Stevie Wonder) – searching the internet for clues to my own past, then BAM!

There’s a memory, courtesy of David Dean and the Tulsa Poster Project.

Bonnie Raitt, opening for Jackson Browne at the Tulsa Assembly Center. How well I remember it!

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That’s a lie. I remember the show pretty well, and some things vividly. Other aspects that might have been important at the time – nah, not so clear. Hey. It was 1974.

I remember I was poor as a churchmouse, working as a 10-speed bicycle mechanic while attending broadcasting school. Money was so tight that I couldn’t eat on Saturday until after the weekly paychecks were handed out (after lunch). The girl behind the counter at Burger Chef (where I ate almost every day) figured out my dilemma and starting slipping a little hamburger across the counter to go with my Saturday Cola-only lunch.

It occurred to me that I could return the favors and ask her to go see the just-announced Jackson Browne/Bonnie Raitt concert (okay, so my little Chef was cute too…). Saved up. Bought tickets.

Not so clear these days whether she suddenly changed jobs or whether I was too chicken to ask her out. At any rate, I made it to the concert… probably by myself. (Did I mention that some parts of this memory weren’t as clear?)

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Maybe it was the fact it was a Wednesday, but even the cheap seats were great. There weren’t enough people to fill the floor area of the arena. There were some folks seated in the first section on either side of the stage, but they weren’t much closer than anyone else.

In fact, when the spotlight first hit Bonnie, she grabbed the microphone and called out – “Is this everybody?” and pointed out at us. “We ought to just clear the chairs out and rollerskate!”

We made up for our lack of numbers with enthusiasm. None of us was disappointed in the performance, and I was only slightly embarrassed when one of us in the audience shouted out “Rock and Roll!” in the middle of one of Jackson Browne’s tender ballads.

How I first heard of Bonnie Raitt also escapes me these days, but I believe I was as anxious to hear her perform as I was the better-known Jackson Browne.

I know it was my ol’ buddy Mike that drove us down to the Rolling Stones concert in Texas, where we were surprised to learn that Stevie Wonder was opening the show. And it was Mike who occasionally lent me his glasses during the show so I could see the stage from the nosebleed seats we were in.

So, Mike, if it was you sitting with me in the Browne/Raitt audience, it wasn’t so much forgettable – just Burger Chef Girl: Plan B.

Auctioning Off Old Memories…

It’s the rare day when you find yourself up for sale on eBay. Not a Buy-it-Now, either. Selling off a bit of me, Auction-style.

Back in the day, between the job and the raisin’ up o’ the children, I would hunch myself over a typewriter of an evening, tapping out words. (That’s the sound typewriters made: clack-clack-clackity-clack, ding! Bzzzzzssssttt. Some of you will recognize the Carriage Return there.)

I don’t think I ever truly harbored thoughts of becoming a famous writer. One whose novel was turned into a blockbuster movie. Lounging on the veranda in sunglasses even on a dreary, overcast day. Maybe holding a Meerschaum pipe near my lips as though I was smoking the thing.

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There wasn’t enough time to finish a novel, so I cranked out short stories. Bad ones, mostly. It was like a compulsion though: get a little free time and plop down at the writing table. Finish one up and deposit it in the closet with the others, maybe expecting a publisher to break in the house one night to pilfer and publish one of them. Didn’t ever happen.

So, instead of continuing to wait for the Thieving Publisher, I sent one of them off, safely tucked into a manila envelope along with my great hopes.

The thrill when a reply arrived! The nervousness. My name beautifully hand-penned on the envelope, bearing a publisher’s return address, me fearful, but opening it anyway. He liked the story, he said. Thought it was a little Bradbury-esque (goosebumps for me by that point) and wondered if I would object to it being included in the next issue.

What??? Are you kidding me?

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He later mailed me a little check (even smaller by today’s standards…) and I waited anxiously for the arrival of the copy he promised me.

Publishing has changed greatly in the past decade, and the idea of desktop publishing was a new thing way back when my story was accepted. Not that it made any difference to me. My fiction was in the magazine along with stories by other folks, several of whom were pretty well known (in some circles).

I was published, thought I.

The capper to the thing was this: shortly after the magazine came out, my buddy and I attended a convention on the east coast. Some well-known authors were there (Stephen King was a no-show). And a lot of fans/readers. Heading out to dinner, we were joined by a fellow we met, who casually asked if we were published writers.

Hah! I was a little embarrassed – but a little bit proud, too – to reply that, amazingly, I had a story in the latest issue of a little magazine. He wanted to know what magazine, and I told him. He knew the publication. What story, he wanted to know, and I told him.

He had read it!

As good as it gets for me, at that moment in time.

We had an enjoyable evening, the three of us heading out for an exotic meal. (He had heard of Arby’s but there were none in his home-state. Oh, well… it would have to do for exotic.)

There aren’t many copies of that little magazine around any longer. At some point I had entered an eBay search to alert me in case one ever came up for auction.

Today was the day. I’m tempted to put in a bid just to own it.

But I already know how the story ends.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

Just like Grandma used to make it…

Believe me. The art of cooking has changed, and not just the microwaves, blenders, and Ginsu knives. Today’s recipes are tested in laboratory-type test kitchens, ingredients change, and there is a focus on food safety that wasn’t so up-front in the old days.

Then, there are some prep stages that we skip, these days.

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From the Harper’s Cook Book Encyclopaedia (1902) and the section on Poultry:

Fowls to be tender should be killed two days before they are cooked. When plucked, singed, and drawn, rub clean outside, and wipe inside with a wet cloth.

I’m betting my grandmother would know the steps to pluck, singe, and draw a chicken. Don’t know if those skills were passed on. To be honest, I would have no clue as to whether a plucked chicken had been singed or drawn.

Porridge? Not just in nursery rhymes – but might as well be. The recipe has enough mystery that I wouldn’t want to tackle it, things like “a half a pint of whole groats.” Even the spell-checker got nervous at that word, displaying its wavy red line. Don’t know groats, but they are boiled for two or three hours with water added “if too thick.”

Our infatuation with bacon isn’t a new thing, but a hundred years ago there was a third cooking method besides frying or baking. After covering the slices with cold water, the bacon was brought to a boil, “removing all scum as it arises,” and simmering until thoroughly done. (An hour and a half for two pounds.)

I imagine some of these recipes were traditional family favorites handed down from the 1800’s or earlier, with basic spices found in most kitchens. The dishes themselves are almost exotic in themselves. Entries for Beef Tongue (4 versions, including “smoked, a la Marigold). Sheep’s Liver, Fried. Scotch Haggis. (I’ve seen this one at the Scottish Festival, but admit to not having tasted it. Seeing the recipe just now reaffirms my decision to pass on that vendor’s offerings.)

And here is “Beef Stew, Irish.” Not accomplished in quite the same fashion as our own recipe, but I’m sure the result was quite tasty when our cars were basically carriages without the horses with the addition of a loud, pockity-pock engine. (That’s a 1902 Oldsmobile in the picture, the same year the cookbook was published. That year, most folks would walk or travel on horseback, a fact of life that remained until well into the next decade.)

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Here’s some advice from back when that car was just introduced: “When the blue smoke arises from the fat, a small piece of stale bread should be dropped into the kettle. If the bread is browned in one minute, the fat is ready for frying breaded chops, croquettes, fritters…” Not sure those instructions are as sound today as back then. I was taught that when smoke “arises from the fat,” the next stage is flames, as in – grease fire!”

Stuck into the pages of this old cookbook is a newspaper clipping with three recipes. Turning over the old, yellowed paper revealed a column of classified ads, and after completing a little investigation, I’d wager this paper came from Spokane, Washington at about the same time the book was published. (By 1909, Ed McCaffrey was teaching plumbing, but was still listed in his advertisement as being on Riverside avenue, with the same telephone exchange.)

The last ad on the page? The BOOK NOOK HAS A BIG LIVE live line of popular fiction, etc. We buy, sell, exchange.

Some things don’t change.

Come in for books or lunch, or books about preparing lunch!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!