Fun With Red Flags

The topic of flags has caught my interest recently. One in particular. This interest was not necessarily spawned by watching “Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags” on the Big Bang Theory, but that can’t hurt.

My curiosity was with the first version of Oklahoma’s state flag, which at one point became known as the “Red Rag of Sedition”. You have to admit that sounds weirdly intriguing and somehow, today, even apropos. This flag became official in 1911 and flew until 1925 when according to the Red Dirt Report website: “reactionary elements in the state began to see the red flag in a negative light, associating it with Bolshevism and Communism and the red flag used during the Russian Revolution in 1917. This was also around the time the Socialist Party - once quite strong in Oklahoma - began to fall out of favor, particularly during the final year of World War I.”

Also, there was the fact that apparently, in Oklahoma, flying a red flag could land you in the state pen for 10 years or so. Check out this discussion of red flags in Oklahoma on Wikipedia. Oh, and there’s this: the 46-star flag was also not popular due to the association with red flags hung on homes to indicate quarantines for smallpox and Spanish influenza. Talk about “Fun With Flags”!

This first state flag was a red field and in the center was a white star with the numerals 46 in blue; because Oklahoma was the 46th state and thus the 46th star on the star spangled banner. “Kentucky native Ruth D. Clement, who moved to Oklahoma City shortly before statehood came up with the simple, straightfoward and brilliant design. Two years later, in 1913, the red 46-star flag was delivered to Washington D.C. aboard a train to be present during the inauguration of Pres. Woodrow Wilson.” — The Red Dirt Report.

As fellow Okie, Paul Harvey used to say on his radio broadcast: “And now you know (pause for dramatic effect) the REST of the story.”

It's not you; it's us

In a moment that was surprisingly emotional, I stood at Bambi’s side and admitted that we had been looking around, dreaming of another. We’ve been together for two years and she has been nothing but wonderful to us. But, it’s time to move on.

The words are hard to type, but here it is: our beloved Bambi is For sale. There. I’ve said it.

The only thing that makes this easier is that I know she will make some other people very, very happy.

To try to explain the WHY of this decision, only makes me seem more shallow and selfish. The fact is that we have enjoyed our Bambi adventures so much, that we’re ready for more. So we’re shopping for a larger Airstream. While Bambi is perfect for weekend getaways, as we just discovered on a ten-day, 2,000 mile road trip, we need a bit more room and capacity for the longer roads.

As people selling pets always say, she’s for sale to “A good home.” I mean that with all seriousness. I would sell her only to someone whom I was certain would take meticulous care of her.

In the spirit of full disclosure, in case you’re already dreaming of your first adventure with Bambi, let me warn you there is a downside to traveling with her (especially if you’re a confirmed introvert): you will seldom stop for gas, or at a roadside park for lunch, or at a campground that you won’t have someone who comes over to you to ask questions about this little, silvery wonder. They’ll want a “peek” inside, and usually they want to know how much she cost (yes people actually ask that). I’ll always tell them she cost far less than she is worth because she is a magnificent memory-making machine.

Relative to other travel trailers, Airstreams are expensive, and Bambi is no exception. She is very rare in that she has a lot of extra equipment you won’t find on other’s of her model. She doesn’t have a single scratch or ding and she has been wonderfully cared for. She just made a trip back to the factory where she was built in Jackson Center, Ohio, for a complete checkup. She is in tip-top shape.

So, if you’re ready to wander, or know someone who is, let me know: As they say: “serious inquiries only”.

Dads & Sons & Grandsons

I started out as a son-of-a-dad, you probably did too, unless your a girl, obviously. Then one day I became a dad-of-a-son (his mother might think I’m over simplifying that part), and a few years later: a dad-of-two-sons. Next, I became the dad-of-a-dad, and just a few weeks ago, the dad-of-two-dads, and the Pops-of-a-GRANDSON, and still the son-of-an-amazing-92-year-old DAD.

Even though Father’s Day is still several days away—Happy Father’s Day men.



Since this blog is ostensibly ABOUT POPS, specifically and generally, how can I not type a few thoughts about the whole man/family theme at this time of the year. Someone has to give Father’s Day its due. Let’s face it: Father’s Day isn’t one of the biggies like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and Halloween. It’s more in the class of Groundhog Day, Columbus Day, Labor Day, etc., you know, those days that we’re glad we have but we’re not going to go to Hobby Lobby and buy decorations for them 13-months in advance.

So, I’m stepping up as a SpokesMAN (and I mean that in a true politically-incorrect and insenitive masculine form of the word) for Father’s Day 2017. Unfortunately, I won’t be around to celebrate the actual day with my father or my sons/fathers-of-my Grand-Girls and GRANDSON. My Amazing-Missus, Bambi and I will be on an adventure, somewhere in Ohio. (Yes, I know it’s stupid to post stuff on the WWW about being out of town, what with all the criminal types out there. But, hey, we have insurance and we’ve been talking about getting rid of some stuff anyway.)

Speaking of travel, some of the fondest father/son memories are of trips we’ve taken together. A lot of miles and great experiences and time shared together. It is sublime for me. An ideal Father’s Day would include a slow gathering around a table spread with a hearty shrimp-boil or burgers from the grill, and telling stories of trips we’ve made together.

Speaking of time and travel, another Father’s Day treat would be to watch a good movie together. A personal favorite is about the men of a family and their ability to travel back in time a bit. It’s called, “About Time”, and I highly recommend it (unless you’re one of those unfortunate literal thinking guys, who lack imagination and can’t just enjoy a story for the sake of the story).

Or how about a movie about one of my favorite fictional dads, Atticus Finch, in “To Kill A Mockingbird”? Which set me to thinking deeply about what is the criteria I use for choosing a favorite fictional dad? Is there really a criteria and if so, where did it come from?

So I put together a shortlist of my favorites:

Best I can tell, if you want to make my list of favorite fictional dads, or maybe real-life dads for that matter you need to be somewhat flawed but not afraid to embrace your flawedness. Whether its planning an awesome vacation or a celebration like “Festivus”, you take the chance because you want your family to experience life in all its richness. And yeah, sometimes you seem busy, self-absorbed, clueless; still you’re there. And even though you’re probably scared to death most of the time, you try hard to be strong; not the hero, but the one that can be counted on.

Sgt. Pepper & Other Memories

THIS IS THE 50th ANNIVERSARY of the release of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, the album that made a huge mark on the music and recording industries and provided a sound track of sorts for my first coming-of-age.

Months ago, I read a book by Mary Karr called The Art of the Memoir. While reading, I took her challenge to give it a try—writing a memoir, not for publication or anything like that, in fact, not even for anyone ever to read, but as an exercise in remembering stories. Mary Karr warns in her book that it is not an easy thing to do and in fact can be dangerous.

I’ve said it’s hard. Here’s how hard: everybody I know who wades deep enough into memory’s waters drowns a little.
— Mary Karr, The Art of the Memoir

Still, I highly recommend you give it a try. Maybe go back in your life, grab an experience and write a few paragraphs. It is eye-opening, soul-searching, and scary.

She also warns that remembering and writing it all down can be hurtful to yourself and others and that being honest is hard to do. She’s right. I do want to be honest in my recollection of the past, but my memories are hazy and sketchy. I’ve apparently edited those memories over the years.

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love. 
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

As I started on the challenge I knew I didn’t want to write my whole life’s story so I chose to focus on three summers, the first, 1967. Because, in the past few days, my mind has been drawn back to that time with of all the news of the Sgt. Pepper anniversary and re-release of the album, and these lyrics running through my head:

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

I’ve decided to share just a snippet of the memoir project here.


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, —Ecclesiastes 3:1

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

—from the lyrics of Turn! Turn! Turn! by The Byrds

The First: The Summer of 1967

Coming of age in the 1960s, fascinated by the Hippie lifestyle (or my perception of it), raised in the home of a Southern Baptist preacher, the horizon loomed large, and I didn't realize it.

On January 8, 1967, Elvis turned 32 and I turned 16. Although we shared a birthday, I was never drawn to his music to the point that I would have bought one of his albums. My music budget demanded careful curating of my vinyl library. Early in the Summer of 67, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club was released. I was smitten and ready for stardom on the rock and roll stage. Ringo Starr and I both played Ludwig drums, all I needed now was long hair, despite the edict of The Beatles that "All You Need Is Love". The first fall was into adolescent angst, triggered in part by things like the battle over hair.

The summers of youth make for a good season for ad lib in the sense that they tend to be more unfocused. The rhythm of the school routine pauses, along with a requisite amount of self-discipline. Summers as a teen felt natural to me. I didn't have to ease in. I was ready for the freeform of it all on the first day of the break.

The summer of ’67 though, had a cadence to it; figuratively and literally. I was playing drums in a band that was headed for the World's Fair, "Expo '67", in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. So the days between the end of school and boarding the tour bus, were spent in long rehersals.

I had no idea that “Expo ’67” was such a big deal until we arrived there. I had no idea how big the world outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma really was. I had no idea how much I would be changed after that summer baptism of worldliness.

(to be continued)

So there it is. Probably the only part of the memoir exercise that I will ever share with anyone.

Let’s close with Ringo singing…

What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends