Holiday Memories: 16 Trucks

December 16, 2014

Back in my wicked youth, I worked for Toys R Us. When it got close to Christmas, we seemed to get one truck after another and I was on the crew which unloaded them. We would get about ten guys and form a line and toss the toys down the line, from the back of the truck to our storage area. After a moment I took up singing my own version of 16 Tons, the song made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford. The altered lyrics went something like this:

When we see them coming, can’t step aside. The boss man says they got toys inside. Said we gotta get the toys out on the toy floor, so keep on goin’ till there ain’t no more.

Unloaded sixteen trucks and what did I get? Another day older and deeper in debt. St. Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the Toys R Us store.

I would make up a line and then all the other guys started chiming in on the chorus. We had a lot of fun, until the manager came to the back and made us quit. We were so loud the customers in the front of the store could hear us and were laughing. The boss didn’t care for the “sold our souls to the Toys R Us Store” line. Seems like the “man” is always putting down the workers, don’t it?

Here’s the original for your viewing pleasure:

Holiday Memories: That’s What She Wants?

December 11, 2014

photo (41)

To say I was a precocious kid would be an understatement. Sometimes it paid off. We were getting near Christmas and I was sitting with my father on the couch. I think I was around 11 years old at the time. My father asked, “What does your mom want for Christmas?”

Without skipping a beat, I said, “A dishwasher.”

I knew mom didn’t want a dishwasher because she already had one. Well, two, when you consider I had a brother old enough to do dishes as well. There were very few things I hate doing around the house than the dishes. Filling up the ice cube trays was close, but dishes were high on the list. When I made the suggestion, I was joking. My father looked at me a moment and then went back to watching TV and I never gave it another thought.

Until Christmas morning, when I woke up and went to see what Santa had brought. I glanced inside the kitchen on the way to the living room and there next to the sink was a dishwasher. My mother was thanking my father for such a wonderful gift. I went and sat on the couch, waiting to open my own gifts, amazed at what happened. Later that morning, when my father was out buying yet another pack of C batteries, my mother asked why my father bought her a dishwasher. I said, “Who knows mom. No telling with dad.”

I tried hard to think of what to tell dad mom wanted next year, but I didn’t think he would go for a go-cart.

Holiday Memories: The Duffy Train

December 9, 2014


Right after my wife and I were married, we occasionally dog sat for her parents. Duffy was a Dalmatian setter mix and terrified of cats. (The comment about cats is not important to the story, but I still remember my friends making fun of me when my cats were chasing the dog around our apartment and it makes me smile). One Christmas, Duffy was with us and I didn’t want him to feel left out, so I went out and bought him a gift. The gift was wrapped and under the tree by the time my wife got home. She asked, “What did you get Duffy that’s so big?”

She asked because the package was a good three feet by two feet in size. I responded by telling her it was a surprise and I couldn’t tell her because she might tell the dog. My wife can’t keep Christmas secrets. On the big day, we opened up Duffy’s gift last. I offered to help him tear off the wrapping paper and with many a tale wag his gift was soon revealed: a model train set.

My wife said, “A train? For Duffy? Really? This gift is for you!”

I denied her claims but assisted Duffy in setting up the train around the Christmas tree. I…er..Duffy, played with the train set most of the morning. While Duffy couldn’t talk, I am pretty sure this was one of his all time favorite gifts.

Now every time I get one of the animals a gift, my wife gets worried. Well, time to worry. I’m headed out tonight to buy gifts for two dogs and one cat. I wonder if any of them like remote control cars?

Holiday Memories: We’re Going to Kick Your @%&^

December 6, 2014



It was 1985 and I worked as an assistant manager for a store called The Toy Works in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was located in the first Biggs mall in the United States. The top toy that year was Optimus Prime of Transformers fame. A lady came in and a bought the last one we had on the shelf. Because she had to go shop in the Biggs store itself, she asked if we hold it behind the counter for her and we told her would be happy to do so.

A bit later, two women came in and asked if we had any Optimus Prime toys left and we informed them we just sold the last one. While the two women were in the store, the first lady came back and asked for her Optimus Prime. When we pulled it from behind the counter, the other two ladies went ballistic. “You are holding toys for your friends. You lied to us. You had one all along.” They were screaming. I tried to explain the woman bought the toy earlier and even tried to show them the receipt, but they would not listen to any reason. Then things turned dark.

One of the women said, speaking to the toy’s owner,  “We are going to follow you to your car, kick your ass and take it away from you.”

We called security to escort the poor woman to her car and the other two ladies followed them through the parking lot cursing and screaming. When the two women came back to our store to shop for other toys, I would not let them inside and once again needed to call security to make them leave.

Don’t ever get between a mamma bear and the only toy which will make one of her cubs happy. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. But for some people…

Holiday Memories: That’s Why You Want Off???

December 5, 2014

I was 16 years old and working at Long John Silvers in La Grange, Kentucky. The calendar flipped to December and I asked for a rare Friday night. The only problem? Two other people also asked off for the same night. Dave, our manager, called the three of us into the backroom and explained the situation and let us know he could only let one of us off for the night. He then asked each of us why we wanted off for Friday. The other two said they wanted to take their girlfriends out on a date. Dave then looked at me and waited. I hesitated a moment and he said, “Well?”

Finally I explained: “Rudolph is on TV on Friday night and I’ve never missed it, from the time I was a little kid until now.”

“That’s why you want off? Really?”

When I shook my head yes, embarrassed beyond all get out, Dave laughed and said, “If you’re man enough to ask off for that reason, then you get the night off.”

And so, on that Friday night, I was in front of the TV at home watching Clarice sing “There’s Always Tomorrow” and watching Bumbles bounce.

Now you can by the DVD (we have it) and watch it a million times. Back then, if you weren’t home, you missed it. I still remember Dave fondly for letting me off to watch Rudolph. And yes, I still have my “man card”.

Holiday Memories: Take a Hike Santa

December 4, 2014

Katy and Santa

Every year my wife and I throw a Christmas party and starting five years ago, Santa started coming to the party to visit all the little ones (thank you Murray McCandless). My twins were six years old and couldn’t wait for Santa to arrive. When Santa walked through the door, Katy started right in on Santa. Here is how the conversation went:

Katy: I want a real hamster for Christmas. Not one of the fake ones. (This was the year Zhu Zuh Pets were huge).

Santa: Honey, I don’t deliver live animals anymore. I haven’t since the 70s.

Katy: But I’ve been VERY good.

Santa: I know that. You’re on the good girl list. But I don’t deliver live animals. It’s not good for the animals–

Santa kept talking but Katy stormed off and refused to listen to the rest of the answer.

I followed Katy into the other room, picked her up and sat her on my lap. I said, “Katy, later this week Santa Claus is going to be bringing you your toys. Do you think being so rude to him is a good thing? Or are you O.K. with a stocking full of coal? This could end up putting you on the Naughty List.”

Katy: Fine.

She went into the other room and got in line. She was the last child to sit on Santa’s lap. When she did, here is what she said, arms crossed:

Katy: O.K. Since you can’t bring me a real hamster, I guess I’ll take one of the fake ones.

Santa glanced my way and I held up two fingers letting him know I had both twins covered.

Santa: Then since you’ve been a very good girl, I will make sure you get a Zhu Zhu hamster for Christmas.

The mother behind me hissed in my ear: Did he just promise you would get her Zhu Zhu pets? Is he nuts? Do you know how hard that will be?

I quietly explained they were already upstairs hiding behind my shoes and the guest calmed down.

I would never have had the nerve to brush off Santa Claus the way Katy had that night. But Katy knew she’d been good and knew what she wanted. In the end, the fake hamsters showed up like promised, and all was right with the world. Santa will be coming back this year. I wonder what Katy will say this time.

Holiday Memories: A Caroling We Will Go

December 3, 2014

One year several of us got together to go caroling in Prospect. I don’t remember everyone involved (it was only 34 years ago) but there were nearly the same amount of girls as boys. I know Ricky Amyx, Jay Bandy, Amy Manning Martin, Frances Goodman Wood were there, among others. There was a lot more laughing than singing, but we had a great time. The one thing I do remember is that is was very cold. At one particular house, an elderly couple opened the door and graciously listened to us sing. When we were finished, the woman asked, “Would you like to come in for some hot chocolate?” The gals, with one voice, said, “No.” The guys, also with one voice, said, “Yes! and the hot chocolate flowed. I miss the days when a group of young kids could hit the road for a little Christmas fun.


While they may not be as good as we were (well, my memory may be embellishing a bit) here are some surprise carolers for your enjoyment.

Holiday Memories: Tiny Underwear

December 2, 2014

bdtts xmas

It was the Acree Christmas at my grandmother’s house. Back in those days, the adults drew names of the children to buy an exchange gift. We gathered around the tree in the back room and all the kids tried hard to stretch and get a look at the gifts, each trying to find our own present. Dinner was over and the moment had finally arrived. My brother got his gift first, ripped off the wrapping paper and found a super cool G.I. Joe doll. This is back when G.I. Joe was tall, proud, and bearded. One of the best toys any boy could ask for. Then my gift was handed to me, where I sat at my mother’s feet. It was soft, bendable and flat. I wondered what cool toy could be concealed beneath the beautiful wrapping paper. I tore off the paper and stared at the gift in my lap. Tears began to form and I turned to my mother,

She asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I got underwear,” I wailed. My mother shushed me.

Underwear. I got underwear. Not a G.I. Joe doll. Not a board game like Monopoly. Not even candy or a coloring book. Underwear.

My mother, smiling said, “At least you can use it.”

“No I can’t, they’re too small!”

My mother tried hard to hide her smile, but failed. What was even worse? She made me go thank the family member who gave me the gift, saying it’s the thought that counts. Thought? When you’re seven years old, it’s the gift that counts, not the thought.

To this day, when I’m handed a gift and it’s soft and bendable, I wonder: underwear? It did happen again. But that’s another story.

Holiday Memories: Egg Nog

December 1, 2014


I was only about six years old, sitting on a stool in my grandmothers kitchen, watching while my mother fixed eggnog for the Christmas party. Once she had the eggnog itself mixed up into a large bowl, she opened up a cabinet and took out a bottle filed with a dark liquid and poured some of if it into the eggnog. After a taste test, she put the bottle away and then left the room. My grandmother came in next and ladled herself a sip of the eggnog. Smacking her lips, she opened the same cabinet, took out the same bottle and poured more of the liquid into the bowl. After mixing it up and tasting again, she seemed satisfied and put the bottle away. She glanced at me, winked and then left the room to go put on some music. Moments later, my grandfather came into the room and, like my mother and grandmother before him, tasted the eggnog. He shook his head, opened the cabinet and took out the same bottle. He unscrewed the cap and emptied the rest of the bottle (well over half of the bottle) into the eggnog. He also mixed up the concoction, poured himself a tall glass and walked over to me, rubbing my head and tossing the now empty bottle into the garbage can. He then left, chuckling. . 

When my mother came back into the room, I asked if I might have some eggnog. She stared at me a moment smiling, then said something like, “Why not.” She took out a cup and filled it about halfway, handing it to me. I took a sip and nearly choked to death, with the eggnog burning my throat. My mother, laughing, took the cup away and walked to the sink to empty the cup. Before she did, she took a sip, and then started spitting it out. This was followed by a scream, “Lindsey Powell!”. I could hear my grandfather laughing in the other room.

I now know, of course, the eggnog was spiked with rum. A lot of rum. My grandfather was quite fond of his alcohol, usually with unpleasant results. But on this particular occasion, it gave a young boy a real education about Christmas gatherings and their preparations. For the record, when the night was over, the bowl was empty.


Photo credit: <a href=””>floridecires</a&gt; / <a href=””>Foter</a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Barnes and Noble Book Signing

November 23, 2014


I will be at the Barnes and Noble at the Paddock Shops (formerly The Summit) in Louisville, Kentucky, today from noon until 9 pm. If you’re looking to pick up my books for a Christmas present, drop by and I will write a note of Christmas cheer inside. Hope to see you later today!


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