Monday, July 6, 2020

A STRANGE NIGHT ON INTERSTATE NINETY Jack Blanchard's Column July 5, 2020




  Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers



To our readers at home and around the world:
As you are, we're busy trying to cope with this pandemic,
so we're sending you a few column reruns, the cheerier ones.
Love, Jack & Misty.


A STRANGE NIGHT 

ON INTERSTATE NINETY

It had been a sunny winter day, about 34 degrees in the Dakotas.
Snow from the night before had partially melted,
wetting the road surface of Interstate Ninety.
It was late afternoon and we were behind a tractor-trailer.

Then the sun dropped below the horizon and the temperature fell,
turning the asphalt into an ice-skating rink.
All traffic on the road lost traction and slowed to three miles per hour,
trying to maintain control.

The roadway was crowned and vehicles were sliding slowly off the shoulder
into the deep ditch and settling on their side,
where the passengers could freeze to death during the night.

Somehow I kept our motor home on the road,
but I could feel the pull toward the ditch.
Then the eighteen-wheeler ahead of us began a 180 degree turn,
like a slow-motion ballet,
until the truck driver was looking directly at me from his windshield,
about ten feet away.
Then the big rig coasted sleepily off the shoulder
and settled into the snowy ravine, facing backward.

I was amazingly alert at that point,
hands tightly on the wheel and foot carefully off the brake.
Misty shouted, "There's an exit and a KOA sign! Try to get off!"
I said, "All the campgrounds are closed up here in the winter."
She said, "At least we'll off this nightmare."

With some careful sliding around and correcting,
I managed the exit ramp and found the RV park.
I couldn't believe it! They were open!
I had never found a northern campground open this time of year,
because the water freezes up.

We went inside the lighted building,
and they told us that they had ice-breakers on their water lines on each site.
The ice-breaker looked like a pump handle.
You lift it up and force it down and it cracks the underground ice,
and the water comes out. We hooked up our water and electricity,
and Misty had a good idea.
She wrapped an electric blanket around our water hose and plugged it in.
It kept the hose from freezing up during the night.

We could see the flashing lights out on the Interstate,
where rescuers were getting people out of their cars and trucks,
and taking them to shelter, some to the heated KOA building,
where they were given hot drinks and food.
There wasn't enough traction to pull the vehicles out of the ditch,
so they were saving the people,
and would get the cars and trucks the next day, if the ice melted.

Misty and I had everything we needed in the motor home,
but we went inside to be with the rescued people,
and talk about the ordeal we'd just been through.
The television news reported
that hundreds of travelers were being rescued from their stranded vehicles.

Inside the campground building it was an impromptu winter party,
with strangers in the fellowship of being unexpectedly alive.

Jack Blanchard



 
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/jackandmisty 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackandmisty
Billboard Duet of the Year, Grammy and CMA Finalists. 
Home Page: http://www.jackandmisty.net

© Jack Blanchard, 2020  






Jack Blanchard's Column July 5, 2020


  Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers

To our readers at home and around the world:
As you are, we're busy trying to cope with this pandemic,
so we're sending you a few column reruns, the cheerier ones.
Love, Jack & Misty.

A STRANGE NIGHT ON INTERSTATE NINETY.

It had been a sunny winter day, about 34 degrees in the Dakotas.
Snow from the night before had partially melted,
wetting the road surface of Interstate Ninety.
It was late afternoon and we were behind a tractor-trailer.

Then the sun dropped below the horizon and the temperature fell,
turning the asphalt into an ice-skating rink.
All traffic on the road lost traction and slowed to three miles per hour,
trying to maintain control.

The roadway was crowned and vehicles were sliding slowly off the shoulder
into the deep ditch and settling on their side,
where the passengers could freeze to death during the night.

Somehow I kept our motor home on the road,
but I could feel the pull toward the ditch.
Then the eighteen-wheeler ahead of us began a 180 degree turn,
like a slow-motion ballet,
until the truck driver was looking directly at me from his windshield,
about ten feet away.
Then the big rig coasted sleepily off the shoulder
and settled into the snowy ravine, facing backward.

I was amazingly alert at that point,
hands tightly on the wheel and foot carefully off the brake.
Misty shouted, "There's an exit and a KOA sign! Try to get off!"
I said, "All the campgrounds are closed up here in the winter."
She said, "At least we'll off this nightmare."

With some careful sliding around and correcting,
I managed the exit ramp and found the RV park.
I couldn't believe it! They were open!
I had never found a northern campground open this time of year,
because the water freezes up.

We went inside the lighted building,
and they told us that they had ice-breakers on their water lines on each site.
The ice-breaker looked like a pump handle.
You lift it up and force it down and it cracks the underground ice,
and the water comes out. We hooked up our water and electricity,
and Misty had a good idea.
She wrapped an electric blanket around our water hose and plugged it in.
It kept the hose from freezing up during the night.

We could see the flashing lights out on the Interstate,
where rescuers were getting people out of their cars and trucks,
and taking them to shelter, some to the heated KOA building,
where they were given hot drinks and food.
There wasn't enough traction to pull the vehicles out of the ditch,
so they were saving the people,
and would get the cars and trucks the next day, if the ice melted.

Misty and I had everything we needed in the motor home,
but we went inside to be with the rescued people,
and talk about the ordeal we'd just been through.
The television news reported
that hundreds of travelers were being rescued from their stranded vehicles.

Inside the campground building it was an impromptu winter party,
with strangers in the fellowship of being unexpectedly alive.

Jack Blanchard

 
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/jackandmisty.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackandmisty

Billboard Duet of the Year, Grammy and CMA Finalists. 
Home Page: http://www.jackandmisty.net
© Jack Blanchard, 2020  





Thursday, July 2, 2020

CECIL Jack Blanchard's Column








  Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers



CECIL

Back in the Dark Ages we bought a Basset Hound puppy.
and named him Cecil.
He was the cutest dog we'd ever seen and could have had his own TV show.

He would climb up on a table to look out the window,
knocking over a lamp and a vase.
If one of us would try to get him down from the table he'd bite.
He bit the kids and he bit Misty.
Misty said, "You don't bite the hand that feeds you!"

When we moved from Miami to Key West, Cecil went with us.
He wasn't satisfied with the accommodations
and tried to destroy the trailer one bite at a time,
so when we went to work each night
we tried putting him in the bathroom with food, water, and toys.
Cecil didn't like toys and never played.
He also didn't like the bathroom and systematically took it apart.

First he chewed up the bottom of the door,
but the hole wasn't big enough so he climbed up on the sink
and turned the water on.
He thought the mirror was a window.
He pooped in the sink, walked around in it
and used it to decorate the mirror.

When we got home he looked at us with disdain
and started coughing just to punish us.
The next day we took him to a vet.
He told us the coughing was from howling all night while we were gone.

An employee at the club where we were playing
said that she knew the mayor and that he would take the dog.
She came and got Cecil the next day.
He walked away with her and never looked back.
She later said that the mayor had to let the dog sleep with him
to stop the howling.
So Cecil slept with the mayor and took a social step up.

I think that all the time he lived with us he wondered who we were.

Jack Blanchard




 
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan..
Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/jackandmisty.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackandmisty

Billboard Duet of the Year, Grammy and CMA Finalists. 
Home Page: http://www.jackandmisty.net
© Jack Blanchard, 2020 






Tuesday, June 23, 2020

PICTURE AT A RAILROAD STATION Jack Blanchard's Column June 21, 2020







Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers


For My Dad on Fathers Day

PICTURE AT A RAILROAD STATION

The cavernous old railroad station was dimly lit,
or seems that way in my memory.
My parents, my sisters, and I headed toward the big doors
that led to the platform where the trains chugged and waited.
It was the end of an era. One of us wasn't coming back... ever.

We had never been your average family.
My mother had been an artist and a model.
My father was a flamboyant jack-of-all-trades:
A stock broker at times, head of an oil company,
owner of a gambling ship that never sailed, a mortgage broker,
an aviator, and author of a course on aeronautics.

He was a party thrower and the life of every one,
and made every holiday a festival.
He was rich one year and broke the next.
As a young man he was a boxer and a daredevil.

During World War Two he was drafted
to be General Manager of the Bell Aircraft plant,
at the same time there were rumors
of his involvement with the black market.

I came home from school one afternoon
and couldn't get the front door open.
It was stuck against silver fox furs.
The whole house was knee deep in them.
I don't know where he got them, but I wasn't too surprised.
We all knew him and were ready for anything.
There was a distinguished couple in the living room,
browsing through the pelts,
a New York State Supreme Court justice and his wife.

He was brilliant in an off-beat way, and an adventure as a father.
Then he got sick.
His disease had symptoms similar to Alzheimer's,
and the smart, witty man of the world became like a child.
He couldn't work. He tried.

My mother submitted a resume for him,
and got him a job on his track record as a mechanical engineer.
She dressed him in a suit and tie and took him to the job.
He called a few hours later to be picked up.
He had ordered his crew to put way too much pressure
on a ship's drive shaft they were working on,
and blew it through the factory roof.

The family was broke and had to split up.
My father was to live with his sister in Ohio, "just until things get better".
The rest of us were to sell all the furniture and belongings,
and move in with my mother's parents in Florida.

Certain memories stick in my mind like clear snapshots
and never go away.
One of those is the night at the railroad station
when we kissed my father goodbye,
and lied to each other that it was just temporary.

I remember pushing through giant swinging doors
that led to the train platform.
The steam from the idling engine puffed out across my knees.
The ceiling was dark and high with sooty light bulbs in it.
And that's all I remember! The rest is gone.

I do recall seeing him one more time several years later.
I was hitchhiking from Florida or somewhere
and I stopped in Miamisburg to see how he was.
He opened the door, and after a minute he recognized me.
I didn't think he would.
He grabbed me in his strong arms and hugged tight.
One moment in time again... like a photo... and everything after is blank.

I don't have any memory of hearing of his death or a funeral.
I have a thing about funerals:
People tell me I was there, but I have no memories of them.

All in all, he was the tailor made father for me.
We had so many good times,
it's funny that this railroad station picture surfaces so often.

After he died, I kept seeing men who looked like him for several years.
A car would be ahead of me in traffic
and I'd see the back of the driver's head. It was him!
I'd hurry to catch up and it was just a stranger. Or was it, I wondered?
Maybe it was my dad for the minute before I caught up.

Jack Blanchard