Our kid’s grandfather, Harry Elvis Ferman, was a gentle man, but he was also somewhat of a quietly rugged individualist as well. Back in 1925, Dad and his friend, Lewis “Pedro” Heath, drove from Denver, Colorado to Seattle, Washington in a rickety old Model T Ford: “The Tin Lizard” that almost made it to Portland, Oregon, before running out of the will to even go downhill. Dad’s tongue-in-cheek story was that he and Pedro were going to the South Seas to find a couple of brown-eyed girls and start a new race. However, Pedro won his appointment to West Point and become General Heath during WW Twice. Since Dad was 19 and flat broke, he did the natural thing and walked all of the way from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, then to Denver, Colorado, because that’s what healthy guys did back then. Note: from 1930 to 1961, he walked to and from the Wichita Beacon newspaper, which was about 5 miles each way in rain or shine, blizzards, the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression just to “stretch my legs.”
As a six-year old whippersnapper, Dad taught Dave (then, the littlest kid in his class) and his two brothers to play chess and checkers, make real bows and arrows and shoot them accurately, defend himself with jujitsu, draw, paint pictures with water colors and oils, play horse shoes, fence with genuine Italian foils, repeatedly slash dad’s arm with French practice sabers, and sell “peanuts, popcorn, candy bars and cigars: 5 cents” at the KG&E night softball games. No kidding. Each of us kids earned our keep; sometimes legally.
An outwardly soft-spoken, gentle, and patient man, Dad always found time for everyone from the Beacon janitor to Bob Hope, who always visited Dad at the Beacon whenever he passed through Wichita, so Dave spent a weekend at Hope’s ranch in Malibu Canyon in 1953, and left Hope his autograph. Dad could touch a chord of whimsy and greatness in everyone he met. The rest of us might look at someone and consider him or her dull or spiritless. But Dad would discover that each had very unusual qualities or accomplishments, and soon Dad would drop a few words here and there, and spread the news that this guy or gal was a wonderful person indeed. Soon, he or she would be inducted into the circle of “Fermanites” and shortly would be celebrating such as Sir Martin Frobisher Day, Guy Fawkes Day and W.C. Fields birthday with the rest of us.
On the side, Dad illustrated the iconic Weird Tales magazine in the 1930s, sold over 300 cartoons in sporting magazines, turned down a lead artist job with Walt Disney (gasp!), and was illustrating a cover for The Saturday Evening Post when, overworked at the Beacon and at home, he had a breakdown and had to slowdown. Later, Dad was the Lead Corporate Artist for the Boeing Company. Harry Elvis Ferman was no slouch, and we loved him a lot.
A POEM by HARRY E. FERMAN
GAY AND FROLICSOME POEM IN JOYOUS CELEBRATION
OF SPRING AND ALL THIS LOUSY SUNSHINE
(FOR CYMBAL AND SIX-GUN QUARTET)
WHEN THE CATTAILS SWAY IN THE RANCID MOAT,
WHERE THE BUG-BIT SKULLS OF LILIES FLOAT.
WHEN THE SKY IS GREY AS A BULL BAT’S REAR,
AND THE STORM-TOSSED SCUDS LIKE THE FOAM ON BEER.
AND THE CHILL WIND SCATTERS THE PINOCHILE PACK,
AND BLOWS THE ACE DOWN THE DUCHESS’ BACK.
WHILE THE WEE FOLK COWER IN THE FERN-FANGED DEN,
AND THE WEREWOLVES GRAB ONE, NOW AND THEN.
AND CRUNCH ON THE BONES ON A RUSTY ROCK,
AND THE BEANS GO SOUR IN THE EARTHEN CROCK.
AND THE DUKE BREAKS OUT WITH THE DUMDUM RASH,
AND THE HAIRS FALLOUT OF HIS FIERCE MOUSTACHE.
AND THE SAURIANS SINK IN THE VOMITOUS GOO,
(IS THIS STUFF GETTING TOO SAD FOR YOU?)
AND THE HANGMAN’S HEMP IS DRAGON BIT,
AND THE HEADSMAN FALLS IN THE WILD RAT PIT.
AND SIR JOHN’S GHOST BLOWS THE CANDLE OUT,
AND CHASES THE PARLOR MAID ABOUT.
(AND CATCHES HER, TOO—IN NOTHING FLAT,
BUT WE’D BETTER NOT GO INTO THAT.)
AND THE DOOR BLOWS OFF OF THE OUTDOOR JOHN,
AND STUFF LIKE THAT GOES ON AND ON.
AND THE PAGES STICK IN THE DOOMSDAY BOOK,
AND THE BANSHEES SOB IN THE CHIMNEY NOOK.
AND HORRIBLE THINGS KNOCK ON THE DOOR,
THIS IS GETTING TO ME, I CAN’T WRITE NO MORE.
- Harry Elvis Ferman
Author of : Don’t Care If You Fry Or Bake
I Ain’t Eating No Rattlesnake
Throw Another Log Upon The Fire
And Make Way For The Next Liar
ODE TO THE EMPIRE by Harry E. Ferman
AS MUCH AS THE DUCHESS WAS TOSSING A TEA,
THE KING, HE WAS PRESSING HIS PANTS.
WHILE THE QUEEN, IN HER SKIVVIES (A VISION TO SEE)
WAS FEEDING THE MAN-EATING PLANTS.
BANNISTER SLIDING AND CHANDELIER RIDING
WERE MOSTLY RESERVED FOR THE KING.
THE BUTLER, OF COURSE, RODE THE HALLS ON A HORSE,
A POGO STICK “WASN’T THE THING.”
THE DUCHESS, I GUESS, WAS A BIT OF A MESS,
WORE A DERBY WITH ONE YELLOW ROSE,
PLAYED BASS VIOLIN ON A PATCHED TRAMPOLINE,
AND WORE FUNNY RINGS ON HER TOES.
MIDST THE TRUMPETS’ BASE BLAST, A GENERAL RODE PAST
IN A SURCOAT OF UNICORN LEATHER.
HE DISLIKED WHAT HE SAW, AND DECLARED MARTIAL LAW,
WHILE HIS MEDALS CLINKED OUT “STORMY WEATHER.”
THE PRINCESS STAYED STEWED..RODE A HORSE IN THE NUDE
LIKE LADY GODIVA ONCE DONE IT.
BUT NO ONE TRIED TO STOP HER, IT WAS ALL VERY PROPER
‘CAUSE SHE CHEATED AND WORE A PINK BONNET.
A BUMBOAT CREW, IN THE ROYAL CANOE,
CHASED MERMAIDS AROUND IN THE MOAT,
SINGING SONGS OF THE SEA IN A SAD MINOR KEY
WHICH WASN’T THE WAY THEY WERE WROTE
THE UPSTAIRS MAID, WITH A BORROWED SPADE,
WAS DIGGING FOR GOLD DUBLOONS,
WITH PLENTY OF PRETZELS AND LEMONADE
‘NEATH THE LIGHT OF THE SEVEN MOONS.
BUT THE HERMIT KNEW, THAT THE DOGGONED STEW,
WOULD QUIETLY SOUR THAT NIGHT,
FOR THE MOONS WERE NEW, AND WITCHES FLEW,
AND HIS SHORTS WERE MUCH TOO TIGHT.
THE JUDGES OF COURTS SAT AROUND IN THEIR SHORTS,
WHENEVER THE WEATHER WAS HOT.
BUT THEIR WIGS WERE ALL SPLENDED, THEIR SOX WERE ALL MENDED,
AND THEY PUNCHED THE TIME CLOCK ON THE DOT.
THE QUEEN’S HUZZARS WERE MAKING THE BARS
WITH THE LADIES IN WAITING, WHO
WERE SHOOTING OFF CANNON AND SMOKING CIGARS
AND CREATING A HULLABALLOO
THE ROYAL BALLET, WITH BELAYING PINS
REPULSED A CORSAIR CREW
WHILE THE BAND PLAYED “CHARGE” ON THEIR VIOLINS,
IT SEEMED THE THING TO DO.
SO THE PARTY WAS FINE, NO ONE GOT OUT OF LINE
(THOUGH THEY THREW OUT A “CRASHER” OR TWO)
EXCEPT FOR THE KING, WHO FELL OUT OF THE SWING,
AND LIT IN THE MULLIGAN STEW.