1951 CHAPTER 1

FIRST CHAPTER OF 1951

Friday

                                                                                                22 August 1951

Yoh, Jesse,

So what’s happening, uglier than me?  Long time no see.  I bumped into your Mama’s Number Two Son back home last weekend.  He said that you had gone to take a dump and the hogs had eaten you.  But since he was still peddling that ugly old gut-shot, brush-painted, shade-tree excuse for a bicycle instead of popping freestyle wheelies in your stoplight bandit pick-‘em-up truck, I kind of figured that the scrawny rascal might be more than somewhat inclined to B.S. the neighbors from time to time.

          Later that same day, I also saw the merely magnificent Barbara Jean Van Spivey downtown.  She was all decked out in her too-tight, just-right blue denim jeans and looking sooo fine.  Oh wow, does she ever!  Anyway, ol’ B. J. allowed as how you had finally cutout for Big D to seek fame and fortune amongst the manicured literates like you had been threatening to do ever since Hector was a pup.  What gives?   Wouldn’t the little honey do the duurty deed with you either?

          That’s a joke, son.

          Right after that, I bumped into your mama, who insisted on giving me your new address.  I figured that I could either take it in my hand, or get it stuffed up my nose.  You know how your mama can be; bless her heart.  She is always going to have her way, so why argue with the T-total inevitable?

          Nobody ever says “No” to your mama.  Not twice, they don’t.  Aye E’se?  Bless her heart.

          On the flip side, you can send those cards and letters to the Kid at 710 West Second Street.  That is, you can if you ever learn to write so that somebody at the Post Office can actually read it without a Captain Midnight nickel-plated decoder pinkie ring.  That’s Great Plains, good buddy, which is a pretty danged wild story all by its own self.

          If you can take a few minutes away from all of those “crazy little women” and endless parties in Big D that the big kids are always bragging about, I will by-doggies fill you in; book, chapter and verse.  Heck fire, I have to tell somebody the scoop pretty soon or I’ll blow a doggoned gasket.  Like they say in deepest, darkest Wabash Land “The fit hit the shan” or something like that.

          Your old mung-drinking, newspaper-slinging, shootout-the-street lights sidekick may be in tall cotton and blessed with more danged bubble gum than I can chew; but it took a whole lot of zigging and a bit of zagging to get here.  In fact, there were a couple of times that I zigged when I darned-well should have zagged, and that can hurt you real quick if you don’t look out.  It sure gave me a dose of the heebie jeebies before and even after all of the cards were dealt and the official papers were signed on the dotted lines.  Let me guaran-danged-tee you, good buddy, that the past week has been a ring-tailed snorter of the Highest Order.  I kid you not.

          You have probably already heard about my free ride over to Great Plains Juco in that rich sum’bitch’s little yellow airplane, haven’t you?  Well anyway, you should have because it’s all over town by now, but the devil is in the details.

          That frigging hot-rod puddle jumper was some kind of a souped-up,  barn-storming, whiz-bang flying machine with one wing on the top, another on the bottom, and a whole lot of fresh air in between.  I should have ran like a bandit the second I first saw it sitting there on the runway looking like an oversized praying mantis bug waiting to eat the first freshman jock who was dumb enough to climb on-board.

          You talk about getting turned every which way but loose.  I probably should have guessed that I was in for a heap of hurting when that bandy legged old flyboy hog-tied me into that open front seat hole with about a dozen or so big old web whatzit straps going every which way you could possibly imagine.  I’ll tell you true, E’se, when he was done tieing me down, about all I could move were my bleary eyeballs and maybe the working finger on my trusty left hand. 

          Like I said, I should have cut out and ran like a scalded ape if I’d had the brains that God gave a rubber duck.  But right then, that fan-danged-tastic little Mary Margaret McDonald and one of her four-eyed, knobby kneed little high-school freshman jailbait buddies showed up to watch my grand sendoff, so I had to just keep grinning and looking extra relaxed until we were way too doggoned far off the ground to call it quits for the day.  But make no mistake, I would have if I could have.

          Anyway, the next thing I knew, the early morning sunshine was warming my nose bone while it was still throwing long, dark shadows across the rolling hills several thousand or more below us.  As I recall, about that time I was beginning to think that maybe that old junior birdman “wild blue yonder” routine might not be all that bad after all.

          In fact, I was just starting to relax and enjoy my first airplane ride ever when all of a sudden the whole front end of that doggoned yellow puddle jumper started to pointing more or less straight up at the dadburned sky overhead like a homesick angel headed back to the barn.  So there I was, hanging on for dear life and trying like the very dickens to see what the heck was happening when all of a sudden that silly old slopjar in the back seat asked me, re-danged-diculously casual like, if I had ever done a “spin” before.

          But then, before I could even open my yap to say that I not only had never done one of those spin things before, but also that I sure as heck did not much care to start doing one right then, when the whole dadburned airplane suddenly started to shivering like a goat pooping peach stones.

          I’m telling you true, we just flat fell the heck out of the sky as the whole blessed world seemed to be whizzing around overhead from right to left.  And then, suddenly, there it was again, right the heck in front of me, only it was spinning around and around like crazy, and coming right at this child like there was not going to be any more tomorrows.  Not a one.

          That’s when it really hit me that I was just about to frigging die.  Right then and right there!  So naturally, I hollered something appropriate like “Oh sweet Jesus, SAVE ME and I’ll be GOOD!” at the top of my lungs.  However, I could hardly even hear myself making my final amends because that stinking old junker was squalling louder than a banshee with its tit caught in a wash machine wringer, and that silly old twit in the back seat was screaming “Ride ‘em cowboy!” and a bunch of crazy stuff like that right into my very own ear phones.

          So naturally, I gave my soiled little soul to God, but I’ve got to admit that deep down inside I also wished to heck that I had at least tickled my way into Mary Margaret McDonald’s magnificent little knickers just one time before I had gotten myself killed; or for that matter, into any one of several other equally wondrous gals’ skivvy drawers in our neighborhood.

          Then, all of a sudden, the world stopped spinning around, and we were diving straight down like a rock between two big old groves full of elm trees.  Fast?  You danged bet’cha we were going fast!  We had to be going at least five hundred miles an hour if we were going five.  The screaming wind noise was like that tornado that blew into Arky Town last year and did over a million dollars worth of improvements.

          The next thing I knew, that howling yellow buzzard was right down there among those big old trees and purely moving out like a scalded dog with his tail on fire.  Then, just when I started to think that maybe we might have an outside chance of seeing one more sunset, we zipped over the top of this little hill and there they were: a whole danged ’39 Chevy flatbed truck full of Mexican field hands; right there in front of God and everybody.

          Well, I am not going to tell you that we had the closest call of all times.  But I will say that the blond headed gringo driving that flatbed had blue eyeballs: great big, bulging, bluer-than-blue eyeballs.

          Somehow or other, we missed those cork soakers and kept right on tooling along inside that little valley for about a half a heartbeat until the next thing I knew I was looking straight up at what had to be the biggest doggoned cottonwood tree that has ever grown on the face of God’s green earth.

          But the funny thing was, there I was, nosebone-to-nosebone with the Final Hereafter, right on the ragged edge of being permanently null and void, and darned if I didn’t start thinking again about Mary Margaret’s peachy little pink skivvies and wondering one more time about what the heck is that “sleeve job” that you are always giggling about. 

          That’s really kind of embarrassing because that was the very moment when any good Christian lad worth his salt should have been trying like the very dickens to focus on the Good Lord’s ever-loving forgiveness.

          You talk about dodging the bullet and escaping “the bowels of perdition.”  I could tell you both chapter and verse.

          Somehow or other, we either hopped the heck over or through that sap-sucking tree, then whipped over another rise that later turned out to be the Oil Hill midnight parking lot.  Then, suddenly, there we were; right on top of this little old town that was complete with a greener-than-green golf course, several big old water towers, and more danged trees than I’d ever seen in one place before, plus a good sized downtown with a central square and a bunch of red-brick schools and churches sprinkled around here and there among a gaggle of old two-story, white, clapboard houses.

          I swear on a stack of bibles yae high that every danged house in Great Plains is two stories high, and have clapboard sides and a wraparound front porch.  Those folks must have some kind of a law or something like that.

          Anyway, we were still so doggoned low that I was scared spitless that the pilot, old Ross Covington-Davis the Third, would have to stop at the town’s only traffic light when it suddenly changed to red right straight ahead   of us.  But thank goodness, he flew right over that light, and we just kept on shagging it down the Main Drag past two railroad tracks and a faded yellow train station, a couple of bridges over a forest-lined river, and then an oil refinery that was snuggled up against what would tend to remind you of a drag strip for lawnmowers.

          Unfortunately, that little bitty lawn turned out to be Great Plains’ one and only excuse for an airport.

          The next thing I knew, we had hung a batch of hard left turns, each one hairier than the last, and had used up what was left of our altitude, our air speed and any vestiges of rational thought.  I tell you true, we were ricocheting along the ground, skipping and bouncing and cutting fancy dii-does hither and yon while I finally got sorted out enough to barf up all of my cookies down the left side of that flying fliver, thereby forming a string of bilious green puke from the front seat back to the tail wheel and beyond.

          I do believe that I must have tossed up stuff that I had eaten two or three days before.

          So there I was, thanking the Merciful Lord Almighty that I had gone to the potty before we had cut out from home, when we came backfiring and bee-bopping up to this dinky little shack where this old baldheaded, banjo-butt galute was waiting for us, looking mostly like a manure salesman with a mouth full of free samples.

          Of course, I was hoping like the very dickens that this grubby old rotter was not Great Plains Juco’s semi-infamous Coach “Scrapiron” Scarpoli, but it turned out that he most certainly was.  All of that would have turned my whole and entire day to clabber for darned sure if it hadn’t already been purely shot to Hades anyway.

          But the surprising thing was that even if he is two axe handles across the beam, that old sonova’gun turned out to be one real slick old rascal who could and did talk almost all of the rest of that day about my two most favorite subjects: namely smash-mouth football and Yours Truly. 

          I kid you not.  That old boy could talk a mile a minute without hardly ever repeating himself, so I know that he wasn’t just blowing it out of his other end like some of the Big Eight and Missouri Valley recruiters have been known to do.

          Like a great man once said “It ain’t bragging if you can do it,”

 and he darned-well can do it with bells on.  I mean, not only did he know just about everything there is to know about what a wondrous fine broth of a lad I really am—despite some eee-roneous rumors to the contrary—but he also knew that I’d druther kick footballs than eat ice cream, and I really do love to eat chocolate ice cream with some nuts in it and a dollop of whipped cream on top. So help me, Hanna, he knew all that and a lot more to boot.

          In fact, Coach Scraps even knew that this child has always been more than somewhat partial to chicken-fried steaks, crispy hash browns, big three-scoop chocolate malts, and lemon meringue pie in season: all of which just happened to be the “House Special” at this super dooper chow hall in the purely elegant Worthington Hotel where we chowed down right after we checked out all of the wonderfulness of the newly bigger and better semi-horse-shoe-shaped football stadium and athletic complex that I probably should have noticed about the time that I ducked my sweaty brow under that howling junker’s hood in honor of that last cottonwood tree just before we blew into town.

          So we did, and I was; impressed, that is.  I am telling you true, good buddy, I have never seen anything quite as good looking as purple and gold together on a football uniform. That game jersey purely did look fan-damn-tastic on me even without the shoulder pads.  I tell you, even the white home-game jerseys with the gold numbers outlined in purple were something else again.  I loved ‘em a lot, lot, lot.  And those shiny gold helmets with the purple stripe down the middle: man, I could just see those beauties shining in the stadium klieg lights while the crowd goes crazy like at Madison Square Garden, the band is playing their wimpy little hearts out, the pom poms are whipping around ever which way, and all of that good stuff is swirling around in a glorious blaze of purple and gold.

          “Lawdy, Lawdy, Mizz Claudie have mercy on me.”

          Then there were those elastic gold game pants with the thigh pads that do not have to be taped to stay in place, and nothing but the top dollar step-in hip pads like only the first-string backfield guys wore back home.  And you talk about ankle tape up the wazoo, not only one but two whirlpool baths, and other mind-boggling good stuff like that.  It was all there.  Yae verily, old Emma and Emmett’s Number Two Son was purely in deep cotton and rapidly learning to be very easily satisfied with nothing but the very best of everything.

          You’ve probably heard how slick some of those sweet-talking Yankee carpetbaggers can be.  Well, let me tell you true; that old Coach Scrapiron, that sly old coot, he could fair-thee-well talk a starving dog down off a meat wagon if he had to. 

          By golly, that old boy never did—not for one cotton-picking minute—stop jabbering about all of the wonderfulness of being a Varsity Big Shooter as a freshman instead of just another poor piddly-pants blocking dummy pogue for the Big Kids at one of those four-year type schools like Tulsa, Okie State, Arkansas or even K-State that had recently taken such a shine to this child.

          But then, again, my Momma never did raise any fools, so I was already pretty well clued in about what those bigger schools were up to when they just flat offered all of that good stuff like regular trips to the Horn of Plenty, free room and board in a freshly painted and swamp-cooled dorm, as well as more or less guaranteed grades if a guy would just get wise to himself and sign up eee-mediately if not sooner for freshman Hammer & Saw 101, Phys Ed., Art Appreciation, or some of those other slopjar courses like that.

You know, some of those Big Shooter schools that had pulled my chain had purely promised darned-near everything but free samples at the women’s dorm if a guy would strap on one of their GPJC jocks stenciled with the initials of their very own athletic empire.  In fact, there were some that would just about take a guy to raise to keep him from flat frittering away his whole and entire life by tucking his family jewels into one of those things having the wrong school’s initials on it.

          Man, you talk about a license to steal.  Well welcome to the Juco Hog Heaven of the Sunny Southland.

          Well, I’m here to tell you that all of that wondrous stuff was a darned good case for going the four-year route right out of high school.  But not having to go back to being a squat-to-pee blocking dummy—especially after several years of being a genuine high-school hotshot—that was mighty doggoned strong medicine for the happy-assed juco experience too, if you’d stop to think about it.

          You danged bet’cha, Kemo Sabbe.  That, and the fact that as a juco hotshot, this child would be eligible again for another come-and-get-it round of free fun and games at the Big Eight/Big Ten/Big Everything or the Missouri Valley hot body trough in just two more years.

          Like they say, “Ah haa, Sani Flush, cleans your teeth without a brush.” It is, indeed, a full life if you don’t weaken.

          However, to set the record straight, I’ve got to admit that I initially had absolutely no intention of ever peddling my fuzzy buns to any danged jerkwater junior college.  Have a “No” gringo.  That was not in this kid’s master plan.  However, I had heard the word hither and yon that those friendly folks over at Great Plains really do know how to do it up brown and then some when it comes to a Saturday night party, par-tee, PAR-TEE!  Therefore and hence, not only, but likewise; being a bona fide greedy sonova’gun by natural selection, I just could not resist the temptation for one more dose of boot-scooting free Saturday night on the town before running my tender wazoo over to Tulsa for about the next four years, or whatever’s right. 

          Those Hurricanes really did seem to like the cut of my gib, and like they say, “You’ve got to get it while the getting is good, so good, so good, so good, cha, cha, cha.”  That’s a natural law, don’t you know?  Besides, if there is one thing that I never could resist, it has to be any form of sweet temptation.

          As everyone back home knows, I’m basically a defensive end by choice.  However, I can go either way if I have to.  But I’ve got to admit that I’m more partial to dee-fense because after about 10 to 15 yards of sprinting downfield, I do tend to run too long in one place. 

          On the other hand, I’d druther eat a fat fuzzy bug than miss a down-field block on the blind side of one of those high stepping corner backs with their big old alligator mouths and their little bitty tadpole wazoos.  I surely would.

          After all, pain hurts, and I want those high steppers looking over their shoulders and remembering my number whenever I come downfield to visit.  Besides, that does tend to give me an occasional advantage of an extra step or two to break loose on one of those rare occasions when somebody does get around to throwing the danged ball in my direction. 

          However, since I had also done a pot full of the punting and extra-point kicking in high school my senior year, the Kid was suddenly one heck of a commodity because it just so happened that Coach Scraps was really hurting for a decent kicking game.  No kidding.  In fact, I heard that he did not have any at all for a while there.  All of which got us down to the short hairs right off the bat.  To wit: Coach had been purely scratching and grabbing while trying to make a name for himself for some time.  That’s darned important stuff to a coach, you know. 

          Actually, he had been doing all right, considering that when he first came to Great Plains that little school wasn’t anything but a two-bit backwater doormat that did not hardly have a pot to pee in.  However, all of a sudden, sports fan, there he was for the very first time, and maybe the last time as well, darned near hip deep to a tall Indian in honest-to-goodness Grade A, Pure-D talent with a capital T except for his kicking game, like I said before.

          They tell me that there are some folks around town who do not think that Coach Scrapiron is smart enough to pour pee out of a boot, even if the instructions are printed plainly on the heel.  Well, don’t you ever believe that cheap hog wash because when it comes right down to getting his way, that old wooly booger is the type that would put a rattle snake in your pocket, and then ask you for a match.  Man, if there is one thing I now know, is that Coach Scraps is bound to get his very own way, one way or another, even if it harelips every darned cow in either panhandle.

          Therefore, just as sure as Tarzan swings through the trees and poops in the jungle, Coach was all over this child like white on rice while trying to get his meat hooks into that last elusive element; a first-class kicking game that would finally boost his slab-sided old shanks the heck and gone out of semi-oblivion and into a far, far better income bracket at one of those real fine four-year-type colleges like he is always bad mouthing to his juco jocks.

          Do you know something?  When you stop to think about it, that must be the living, breathing, blueberry trots to have your whole doggoned career—like any chance of ever making it to the Big Time—balancing preee-cariously on whether or not you can sweet-talk a couple of dozen one-way, semi-housebroken stump jumpers into sweating their raging cahones off for you instead of for some other double-talking old double dealer in some other institution of higher learning.  I’ll just bet that it is.  That’s why I did not get all bent out of shape about what happened next.

          Did you ever hear about that old, old Chinese recipe for tiger stew that starts with “First you have to catch a tiger?”  Hey bubba, give or take all of the fine print between the competing schools and good old GPJC, about the only good thing that Coach had to offer that those Hurricanes, Wildcats, Cowboys and all of those other big-time bull throwers could not match goodie for goodie was pretty Prissy McAllister.  That’s where Coach purely had those cork soaking, dice loading, apple knocking SOBs hands down.

          No pun intended; neither one of them.

          As I recall, I first laid a sweaty eyeball on pretty Prissy inside that super dooper chow hall at the Worthington Hotel.  And I want to tell you straight out that she purely stood this child right on my ear bone.  Like, in all of my born days, I had never seen anything quite like that living, breathing, ever-loving little doll.  Man, she is definitely not just “your basic minimum daily requirement.”  Not hardly.  Miss Prissy McAllister is the whole heaping plate full, and then some more for good measure.

          You talk about being “merely out-danged-standing.”  Like in the first place, that little gal is nothing but stacked.  As a matter of fact, she’s pretty well packed together in the second place as well.  Sho nuff, she’s tuff!  I am telling you, I do believe that this little doll has got curves in places where most other gals don’t even have places.  And she’s got those long, lean, super-keen legs all of the way up to her fanny and back again.  When that little gal is all decked out so fine in something too tight, just right; well Lord have mercy, she purely bankrupts the English language, at least the part that I’m familiar with.

          What I’m saying is that some folks even get their enjoys from just watching that little gal breathe.  Oh wow, does she ever know how to breathe.  When you see her going down the street with her fine little fanny purely bouncing all around like two muskmelons tussling inside a gunny sack, and her shirt pockets are going ever which way like they’re crammed plum full of jelly “because jam don’t shake like that; cha, cha, cha,” well mercy, mercy, Mr. Percy, if that shaky pudding doesn’t wind your watch, nothing ever will.

          Anyway, back at the oasis where the Aa-rabs are eating their dates, sweet little Prissy trucked out all of that good stuff right there in front of God and everybody in that peachy little peasant blouse of her’s while she was taking our orders for their “Good Eats Special of the Day.”

          Well, sports fan, I’m here to tell you that with all of that going on inside those dry goods right there in front of my straining eyeballs, I could not even begin to think of any kind of store-bought dressing to go with my greens even though she had already rattled off the whole list to both Coach Scraps and old Ross the Third.

          You see, what I really wanted was Rogueford dressing, which I purely do love on those rare occasions when I can get any.  But the fact is, I just flat went blank right then and there, and ended up having to take my greens plain before I would have broken out in a sweat, or gotten the terminal hiccups or even the green apple quickstep.  Lordy, Lordy, I even forgot for a second there how I like my chicken-fried steak, for gosh sakes.  You know: big, hot, tender and covered on both sides with lots and lots of cream gravy.  Is there any other way?

          I’m telling you, good buddy, that foulup flat embarrassed the bejabbers out of this child more than somewhat because I do not mind admitting that Yours Truly, the Kid, was trying awfully hard to impress that little sweetie peach about what a wondrous big shooter and naturally keen fellow I really am.

          Of course, I thought that I had blown it for sure with Miss Prissy, so I was feeling lower than whale dung at the bottom of the Philippine Trench.  But later that evening, doggoned if we didn’t bump into each other again at a local boot-scooting joint called “The Teen Club,” which is over on the Town Square.  And darned if we didn’t have the mutual Big Eye for each other right from the get-go, which is kind of understandable if you would just stop and think about that for a minute.  I mean—hell’s bells—we are both so darned good looking!

          Man oh man, I just could not believe that place.  I mean, there we were in the middle of this two-bit whistle stop of a little old burg about two days’ hike away from anything else resembling what we laughingly call “civilization” back home, and the whole danged place was nothing but over-danged-flowing with some of the best looking chicks on this side of Jiles county.  And I kid you not, before the evening was over, I had danced out the front door with the pick of the litter.  You know my family’s motto: “Whatever it takes.”

          Funny thing though, even after a couple of years of playing boy jock in and around this general neck of the woods—although I had never been to Great Plains before—I kept running into various and sundry guys I know or have locked horns with on the shoeball field or the baseball diamond.  So darned if John Franklin Hildebrandt and the Turner boys—you remember those two yard apes—had already signed up and settled in for the duration.  Not only that, but Harold the Scrounge and Boogie Vaughn were expected back from harvest in North Dakota at any minute, and would be in Great Plains eee-mediately after that.  Oklahoma is, indeed, a very small world.

          Things were beginning to look surprisingly good for GPJC despite all of my prior reservations.  With a core of super jocks like I was seeing, I knew that they could come up with a pretty darned good team this year.

          So anyway, Miss Prissy and I doubled up with Lanny Turner, who has never ever been at a loss for wheels or folding money, or an armload of fee-male honey and a jug full of Old Tanglefoot, or any of the other necessities of life.

          So first shot out of the box, we dragged Main Street from stem to stern and then back again a couple of times, which must have taken all of maybe 20 minutes including two separate stops for passing switch engines, and another for a broken-down turnip truck squatting right in the middle of the showoff lane. Then, that rascal Lanny wheeled it over to Riverside Park where we spent about an hour slow dancing to the car radio and messing around with a gaggle of local high school and college hotshots on the town’s only lighted tennis courts.

          I’m telling you, good buddy, that semi-secluded old park was all right.  In fact, what it was, was one fine place for an evening out with a very pretty, totally stacked and bright-eyed little gal.  And best of all, it was only about a couple of side steps in any direction to a soft, grassy hiding place full of non-itchy flora and fauna, and deep dark shadows for a little touchy/feelie, light slobber swapping and other good things like that.

          Remember, E’se, this was just a first date.

          Another real good deal is that the local cops generally mind their own business, bless their fuzzy little hearts.  Actually, the only real problem was that every now and then, some silly local citizens would show up with their rackets and wanting to actually play some tennis on those courts.  Who’da thunk it?

          So this gorgeous little doll, Prissy, and I spent most of that little rain dance in and around the friendly shadows while draining several paper cups full of Jack Daniels snow cones, and dancing up a storm while trying to get ourselves even closer, if that was humanly possible.  Somehow, I don’t believe that it was.

          Another real nice thing about Miss Prissy was that she was no slouch.  Once she got with the program, she stayed right in there and gave it her best shot.  Like I said, she is not your basic minimum daily requirement, so even between Top 10 records, she and the Kid were getting more than our share of standup tummy rubbing to the mutually hummed strains of “Memphis In June.”  Ah, those “sweet oleanders, blowing perfume in the air; cha, cha, cha.”

          Slow dancing with a beautiful gal in a skimpy peasant blouse and short-shorts from cutoff, too-tight just-right blue jeans has got to be one of the better gifts that God ever gave the man part of mankind.  You can quote me on that, Kemo Sabbe.

          I’d guess that it was sometime around 11 p.m. or so when ol’ Lanny and Prissy finally decided that the Kid was sufficiently wise in the ways of this part of the world so that they could take me out to the 88 Club which is sort of a typical backwoods honkey tonk about two miles south of town on State Highway 88. 

          According to the letter of the law, the 88 Club can not serve any-darned-thing but 3.2 beer and down-home boot-scooting music to those over 18 years old.  But the fact is, you can usually get just about anything that you want out there if you are big enough to bluff and can put enough money under the table.

          With my game face on, a fat roll of green money in my pocket, and my high heeled engineers boots making me about six feet and five inches tall, I had no trouble passing for 18, especially when I flashed your temporary drivers’ license to the crispy critter checking IDs at the front door.

          You see, this joint is just barely outside the town cops’ regular turf, and is also too darned far out in the sticks to get much attention from that jelly belly Sheriff over in Buckley; even on those rare occasions when he does get off his fat fanny just for drill, I guess.  Besides, when things really get to jumping out there on a Saturday night, it could take about two truckloads of National Guard guys to begin to sort everything out.  It’s a real hoot.

          Like for example, you might notice that there is usually some sawdust scattered around on the floor among the peanut shells.  Well, from what I’ve seen and heard out there, that sawdust may be all that’s left of the previous Saturday night’s bar furniture.

          You probably think that I’m kidding, don’t you?  Hey, I don’t make this stuff up.  I couldn’t if I wanted to.

          If you have never been to the 88 Club, the main form of entertainment is mostly hooting and hollering, romping and stomping, and most of all, trying to fast finger the other guy’s booze any time he is dumb enough to leave it unattended on a table while he is off watering his lily or scooting his boots across the dance floor.  I heard that is darned near a tradition of the place.

          The juke box could be the loudest in the whole ever-loving blue-eyed world, but there are times when even it gets drowned out by the ruckus.  I mean to say that knockdown, dragout, bare-knuckle fist fights have been known to go more or less unnoticed in the general uproar, and a cutting usually isn’t good for much more than a short recess to kick out the riffraff and mop up the dance floor.  So as you might imagine, there is no way to do much blabbing with the honeys out there.  However, that’s not all bad either; not if you are both having a good time.

          So we stayed out there until we had to shut it down about 12:30 a.m., and I had to admit to that silly rascal Lanny that I had not had so darned much fun since Sissy Strublel got her boob caught in the revolving door and white-washed Sears and Roebucks.

          I kind of figured that Miss Prissy must have had a reasonably good time herself because her eyeballs were shining like twinkling stars all of the way back to her house, and she never stopped laughing until we checked each other’s spit at her front door at about 2 o’clock in the morning.  But even then, what with the last of the wheeling and dealing season coming on like gang busters, I really did not plan on staying in Great Plains more than a day and a night.  Not hardly.

          However, right in the middle of Prissy and me coming up for air for about the umpteenth time, she allowed as how she would purely love to go to the annual GPJC 1951 Football Kickoff Party at the large and luxurious Covington-Davis spread that next afternoon.  Her problem, she said, was that she had to have a GPJC football player or a reasonable facsimile thereof to go with her to the party, or she would never get past the no-neck goon on the gate.  Would you believe that aside from Yours Truly, she said that she did not have any other prospects at that time?  Poor baby.

          Like I said before, I was sort of counting on taking a bus over to Tulsa the next day.  But Lord knows, once you have had an armload of Miss Prissy’s “so round, so firm, so fully packed” little frame, you are going to be mighty darned slow to pass up any chance of a second helping.

          You know that I have always been queer for good-looking girls.

          Whoops!  Gotta’ go now!  It’s quitting time and somebody is just about to turn off the lights.  I’ll tell you about it next week, so stand by to stand by, and don’t poop too close to the house.  Your buddy,

Danny “the kid”