Friday, October 11, 2019

Late night Dak attack

"If I'd had a gun I'd have shot the son-of-a-bitch without a second thought!"

"I wish you had," Said my wife. "Next time you take Dak out you should take your pistol."

"It was frightening. We were just strolling along and he came out of nowhere like a fury. He was really big—a pit bull, I think." I explained. "He hit Dak like a freight train and took him down hard. Dak was crying and yelping in fear and pain while that big dog was all over him. I yelled, 'Get off!' and kicked him, hard, with my heel. He just ignored me, growling and, to all appearances, trying to kill our pup. I kept kicking and yelling for help. I was afraid to get between them. That pit bull had me scared."

After what seemed an eternity the dog's owner reached our location. Reaching in he grabbed the big dog's collar and pulled him off. The pit bull continued to growl and snarl. Dak quickly retreated behind me. Were he not on a short leash I'm sure he would have made himself more distant from the much larger and intimidating animal.

I quickly felt Dak for obvious signs of injury. It was hard to see well in the sparse light from the distant street lamp, but I found no blood or broken bones. Dak’s eyes held a look of pure terror. We were quickly joined by a woman, apparently the man's partner. "Is your dog OK?" She asked.

"As best as I can tell, yes," I said.

"He's not bitten, is he?" She asked.  "Our dog is aggressive and doesn't know his own strength, but he's never bitten anyone or another animal."

“I don’t know your dog. I said. It seemed to me he was intent on killing us both, my pup first.”

I told her that I didn't find any signs of serious damage. We exchanged names and went our ways. The man never did say much. I didn't hear either of them call the pit bull by name. I don’t recall that either of them offered an apology. Dak was obviously still traumatized as we walked away. He stayed very close and kept glancing up at me. Poor little dog. In his two short years of life this is the first dogfight he's been in that I know of. He’s not an experienced street fighter; he’s never even outside that he’s not on his leash. A few more paces away, under the street lamp, we stopped so I could check him more thoroughly. I didn't find any real damage, although I reasoned there must be bruises under his curly white coat. What I did find was a mess. Dak had apparently been so frightened that he lost control of his bowels as the pit bull rolled and dragged him. His coat and tail were badly soiled. I wiped him off the best I could with my handkerchief which I tossed into the nearest doggie-poo station. Oh well, I didn't like that handkerchief anyway.

Back home by 9:00 pm, we had to add insult to injury by bathing him in the utility sink. After the bath, some tooth brushing, and a chewy treat, he seemed ready to tentatively trust me again.

As I finished my shower and headed for bed, my wife said, "Maybe it's a good thing you weren't carrying your gun." I wasn't yet ready to agree with her.

Friday, September 20, 2019

There's nothing EZ about transportation policy

A recent posting from the Strong Towns organization pointed out that we, as a society, criticize public transit as being expensive for very little utilization, but that, in the author's opinion, roads are a worse investment based on passenger mile costs. But, in my EZ opinion, passenger miles is a dangerously incomplete tool with which to measure the value and utility of any transit system.

What I would like to see is a study that would look at usage/riders/freight in comparison to surrounding population density. For instance, in Texas the State Farm to Market Highway System may be very, very lightly used, but those roads made it possible to move agricultural goods efficiently to market, feeding a large part of the city populations of the world and providing great economic benefit to the farmers and ranchers. I don't think it makes sense to look at whether or not the system is "empty" without looking at other factors including total economic cost/benefit and surrounding population density. Further, to say that a road benefits ONLY those who choose to live along or at the end of it is specious, shallow thinking. Our economic system is much more complex than that. You've seen the signs that read, "If you have eaten today, thank a farmer." Yes, but also thank the road builder that made it possible to move that food to your store and home and the taxpayers who pay for it. As a side note, I think that an appropriate fuel or per-mile tax is the right way to pay for roadway infrastructure - any increased costs for commercial traffic would simply be passed along to the consumer, without whom the goods wouldn't be moved in the first place. Thus, traffic on very high usage roads would "subsidize" the costs of lightly used, but important, roads. From those funds collected, we then decide where to best spend them. When we consider these things, please consider that passenger transit is a side blessing -- the main purpose of roadways is economic and military.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Understanding is sometimes not EZ

This morning, my email included a notification from Medium ( that I have a new "follower." A person with a feminine name, I thought, but not DEFINITIVELY feminine. You know, kind of like "Lynn." Could identify as either gender. Still, a person I've never heard of.

My first thought? Why? Why would she; why would anyone follow my writings?

My second thought: Who is this person. What do they write and publish on Medium? Following the link left by the follower, I found that their description of their work is, "Satire, Surrealism, Poetry..."

Reading a few of the posted articles I learned that "she" is actually a heterosexual "he," or is a VERY good author with the skills of writing in the voice of someone else. Prolific, too; thirty-seven posted articles on Medium since August 2018. That's more than ten times the number of articles I've posted in a similar period. The articles posted under his name are definitely engaging, so I, in turn, "followed" him. I will look forward to seeing new posts in the future.

My next thought: How did he happen to happen upon my writings? A quick look at my Medium stats showed no apparent upsurge. I am grateful for a new follower. How could that not be good news?

I still have no idea why he would want to follow my writings.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Medical Insurance. EZ? I think not!

I recently had a surgical procedure performed. The billing is in. Due to my advanced age, I'm covered by Medicare (primary) and thanks to my career in the military, Tricare (secondary.)

The total billings were:

Billings approved by Medicare were:

Medicare paid:

Tricare paid:

The EOB I received from Tricare says that I'm responsible for:

So here are my not-EZ questions:
1.) If Medicare "approved" $178,825.61, why did they pay only $18,103.84?
2.) What is the status of the remaining $140,812.59?

I don't really want to ask anyone that second question!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Mr and Mrs EZ take flight

“Ladies and Gentlemen, in just a few moments we will begin our descent to Ben Gurion Airport. Please take this opportunity to stow your belongings and prepare for arrival. In just a few moments, we will discontinue the operation of Wi-Fi and other on-board entertainment systems. Your attendants will now be passing through the main cabin to collect any trash or recyclable items you have.”
Blinking my eyes open and stretching, I took stock of the situation. My wife, Glenda, and I were aboard Delta flight 86 from New York’s JFK Airport to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel. We were seated in the Comfort+ section and had two-up seating, row 13, seats A and B, at the main cabin bulkhead on Delta’s long-range Boeing 767-300ER. Glenda had the window seat and I was on the aisle. The air seemed heavy and muggy; my teeth felt fuzzy and my mouth tasted stale. I felt grumpy, stiff, and groggy; just a few dwarves short of a fairy tale. This had been a 12-hour flight and there is a seven-hour time difference between New York and Tel Aviv. We had departed JFK at 11:00 pm local Thursday and would arrive in Tel Aviv at 6:15 local Friday evening.

It had been a long flight, but not horribly bad. The Comfort+ seating did give us a bit more legroom and the two-up seating, which, to me, is a bigger improvement than all the legroom in the world. There’s nothing I hate worse than a middle seat on an airplane. Still, the service was disappointing and other than getting a free $.95 eye-mask indistinguishable from the lowest class of passage. And that in-flight service was certainly nothing to write home about. Meals? Swanson does microwave tray dinners better. Free drinks? This was the day after Thanksgiving in November of 2018. Delta began to offer free drinks for Comfort+ in January 2019. Plus, as we were at the front of the main cabin, but not in a premium class, the ‘heads’ were a long ways away behind us. In the hard airplane seat, even with Comfort+’s extra degree of recline and my trusty neck pillow, it was hard to sleep; just being away from my own bed probably had something to do with that. I was able to read, listen to music, and nap sporadically. Every time I did get to sleep, it seemed it was time for Glenda’s bathroom break. At least every couple of hours I’d gone out of my way to stand, stretch, and walk a bit; I didn’t want to risk a blood clot in my old legs.

I could feel the aircraft slowing and beginning to descend. Additional announcements were made indicating our final approach to the airport and instructing us to complete our preparation for landing. I noted that the lights of the Israeli coast were visible out Glenda’s port-side window. I managed to get my shoes on. I didn’t remember them feeling this tight, before. Our goods were all gathered and stowed. Taking another healthy stretch, telling myself to take a few really deep breaths, I noted an odd smell. To notice an odd smell in an airplane that’s been jammed full of people for 12 hours means that it is a really odd smell.  Wrinkling my nose I thought to myself, “What is that smell? Fishy? Garlic? Urine? It’s acrid, in any case, and it seems to be getting stronger.”

At just that moment, Glenda suddenly leaned forward, unfastened her seat belt and jumped to a standing position, bumping her head on the overhead bin on her way up. I don’t’ recall when I last saw her move so quickly. I immediately thought, “Oh, no! Now the flight attendants are going to reprimand us.”  Her sudden motion distracted me temporarily from the acrid smell. Looking at her concerned face, I asked, “What?”
Glenda declared, “Something is hot. Very hot. It’s burning my behind!”  She’s a very genteel soul. To use any stronger language would have been totally out of character.

What? Hot? Acrid smell? Oh, crap, smoke! That means fire. I reached down over the dividing armrest to feel her seat’s cushion; yes, it was very, very hot. I, too, quickly stood up and pressed the call button. By now, people in the row behind us are murmuring about smelling something. Quickly a flight attendant arrives and I explain to him the situation. He motioned for us to step out of our row into the aisle and when we were clear, he reached into Glenda’s seat.

Pulling back his hand with a cry, he shouts what was either a code word or something other than English to the senior attendant, which I assume was a call for a Halon fire extinguisher and to notify the flight crew of a potential “situation.”  He then yanked up the seat cushion. On the bottom inboard edge, it was smoldering; there was smoke but no visible fire. The attendant pulled a heavy cloth from his pocket and smothered the offending spot. A second attendant had arrived carrying a red fire extinguisher, but the first motioned for him to simply stand by.

Meanwhile, the aircraft continued its steady, droning, descent towards our landing. Once the attendant was sure there was no active fire he shouted, “Clear!” which I assume told the rest of the crew the problem was not serious. Then he again reached down and probed the seat tray under the cushion and pulled up a beat-up-looking old Bic butane-fueled lighter. Testing the business end of the lighter by touching with his thumb, he jerked his thumb back, and said, “It’s been ignited. Is this yours?”

“No!” I said, alarmed. “Neither of us smokes and we don’t carry any lighters.”

Apparently, the lighter had fallen out of someone’s pocket on an earlier flight. Seat cushions are not removed as part of the routine turn process, so it would not have been seen. As Glenda repositioned herself for the landing drill, her weight must have “flicked the BIC” in such a way as to activate it, which ignited the seat cushion. Most furnishings on modern aircraft are fire-resistant, as, thank God, was the seat cushion. Glenda’s ankle-length black polyester blend skirt, not so much. As we all recognized the crisis was averted and we were safe, the attendant replaced the cushion and asked us to quickly resettle so as to be prepared for landing. As we turn in the aisle to reenter our seats, I notice a flash of white at Glenda’s posterior.

“Wait,” I asked her. “Let me look at something.” With my hand on her shoulder, I turned her a bit to her left. Yep, there it was, just to the rear of her right upper thigh – a hole the size of grapefruit melted in her black skirt, allowing the exposure of her white underwear.
We had no changes of clothing in our carry-on bags, but at least she did have a sweater to tie around her waist and cover the view. 

After an otherwise uneventful and safe landing, we claimed our heavy luggage, cleared Customs & Immigration without incident, and got our rental car, a white Fiat sedan. I was exhausted and it was getting late, so we proceeded as quickly as we could to our comfortable Air BnB in Herzliya, along the Mediterranean coast north of Tel Aviv, allowing WAZE to guide us.

Once again, we had cheated death, as I’ve been doing for over 60 years. It easy to see that this situation could have been so much worse. There are not many things more frightening than a fire on an airplane in flight. Maybe Snakes on a Plane would be worse. I know that the movie of that name was painful to watch.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

An EZ 4th of July

We spent the 4th, 5th, and 6th at our sons' cabin in Colcord Cove, which is up in the pines at 6,400' AMSL and about 20 miles east of Payson, AZ, in the Tonto National Forest. The weather was absolutely perfect, about 82 for a high and around 50 (F) for the low each day. For the evening of the 4th, we drove back down into Payson to the small-town America celebration on Green Valley Lake in the city park. A nice respite from the summer heat in Mesa.

We enjoyed food-truck eats, popcorn, and a wonderful fireworks display.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I'm not having an EZ time understanding the Wayfair walkout.

The conditions at the border are horrendous and need to be corrected ASAP regardless of who is in our Federal Administration. But, it strikes me that some of the people who are refusing to sell the mattresses are also the same people complaining the loudest about children sleeping on a hard floor. Maybe the additional visibility will help in the long run? the House passed a funding bill to help. Can we get the Senate to do the same? If not they are willfully complicit in inhumanity if not civil rights violations. What if both House and Senate pony up the money: What, then, do we do if nobody will sell supplies and comfort items for this use? Having said this: We can't take care of the entire world. At some point, we need to reduce this flow to a manageable level. I believe that's going to take many steps, increased border security only one of them. We have made some progress in getting Mexico to cooperate. I think we also need to work closely with the governments of Central America so that people there can have a fair chance to safely stay home and build a life in their own land. Maybe some of our overseas federal aid could be diverted from countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel (and I don't mean abandon them -- just use resources in the best way -- maybe if we stop poking Iran and speak to them as fellow humans Israel could be more secure). Our Democrat representatives (I refuse to call them "leaders") are busy telling us that no one, not even the President is above the law (I agree with them.) So please, Ms. Pelosi, explain to me why the same logic does not apply to immigrants. Humanity first, but we must eventually deal with lawlessness and justice if we are to maintain a Democratic Republic. There is no simple answer. If we can't work together as a nation and as a continent, let alone a world, it won't get solved. Meanwhile we need to make a difference for the "one" if we can. A good mattress might be appreciated by one in the camps.

Here's something to consider:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Some parts of aging actually are EZ.

While sorting 50-years' worth of old family photos I came across my wife's baby book. First seeing it, noticing it was blue and labeled "1950," I got really excited thinking it was mine -- I never knew I had one. I probably didn't. While we never went hungry my parents were dirt poor and a baby book was probably a luxury out of their reach. No worries, I had milk, blankets, and clean nappies. In the section where the parent records baby's notable progress at various stages, there are all the usuals: weight and height, first word, first step, immunizations, first minor injury, and so forth. A notable entry: "Age 2 1/2 favorite toy: She loves to play with Tupperware." So not much has changed. Glenda still loves her Tupperware and I still have milk, blankets, and clean nappies!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Staying current is never EZ...

While I have been doing a fair amount of writing lately, my blogging has certainly been irregular and inconsistent. I feel the need to do some "catch-up" for the record.

About one year ago, our Phoenix-area-based children (Ben, Joel, and Jennifer) ganged up on us and convinced us that it was time for us to downsize from our large San Antonio home and, in the process, relocate to the Phoenix area. We have accomplished that over the past year and now live in Mesa, Arizona, in a 55+ retirement community called Encore. We traveled to Phoenix to shop for a new home and signed a contract on our new-build in July of 2018. I made two more trips from SA to Phoenix over the summer to make final selections for the new home and to move my "classic" car to Arizona. By September, we had our San Antonio home decluttered and staged and on the market. It sold in three days for above our listing price. We closed on that sale at the end of October and over the Hallowe'en weekend we relocated to the Phoenix area driving our Nissan pickup with a U-Haul trailer. We made the trip in two days, with an overnight at Faywood Springs in New Mexico. Selling one house, buying another, and moving was more work than I can describe. I don't know if I'd have undertaken it if I had known how much work it would be.

Arriving in Phoenix, we settled into Jennifer and Bre's guest room where we stayed through Thanksgiving (all of our home furnishings were in two Pods in storage in Chandler, AZ). We had to move out after Thanksgiving because they had other guests coming who would need the guest room. It all worked out, because...

The day after Thanksgiving we left Phoenix for our trip to Israel in celebration of our 50 years of married life together. Originally we had planned to go to Israel as part of an LDS-themed group tour, but looking carefully at the itinerary we decided that it was too intense and too impersonal for our maximum enjoyment. So, we toured Israel pretty much on our own using AirBnB for lodging and a rental car for transport. Thus we toured Tel Aviv, Jaffa (Yafo), Caesarea, Haifa, Nazareth, Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, and Capernaum over a 10-day period. We had a wonderful time on our own schedule, saw all we wanted, and met some outstanding BnB hosts: Iris in Hertzliyya, Ayal in Haifa, and Anat in Tiberias. We felt very welcomed everywhere we went. Reaching Jerusalem for the last few days of our time in Israel, we took a room in the El Dan Hotel and turned in our rental car, depending on feet and taxis for most of our time in the city. We got to celebrate Hannukah in Jerusalem, and that was very special. I even got to light the Hannukah Menora one evening in our hotel. For our final day, we engaged a local guide, Eldar Rozin. He picked us up at our hotel after breakfast along with our luggage and effects and took us in his luxurious sedan to see Bethlehem and other areas we could not tour on our own. We also were treated to a private tour of the BYU Jerusalem Center to include an organ recital. This, on a day that the BYU Center was closed to tours and to the public. Mr. Rozin, though not LDS, was able to arrange this for us at short notice. One surprise in Israel was how heavily the entire country was decorated in a "Christmas" theme. Angels, stars, and Christmas trees were everywhere! After a full day in Bethlehem and Old Jerusalem, he drove us to the Ben Gurion Airport for our flight home.

On return to Phoenix from Israel, we settled into Joel's guest room in Gilbert, where we laid our heads until our new home was ready at the end of January, 2019.

Except for the week between Christmas and New Years, which we spent with all of the Arizona family gathered at a rental cabin in Forest Lakes, AZ.

The place the family rented was a beautiful, large cabin with all modern conveniences and very nicely decorated for the holidays.

Not all of 2018 was joyful and fun.

In September, we received word that Ronald Estep, who had been my closed friend through High School had passed of a massive heart attack. He and his wife, Sandy, had been serving a mission in Detroit at the time of his passing. Ron shared birthdays with Glenda, and had been born in the same hospital as she, delivered by the same doctor. A true life-time acquaintance.

In November, Sarah Leane, my oldest (and last living) sibling passed away in Blackfoot, ID. She was 87 and had been in ill health for quite some time. Her immediate family decided to postpone her memorial until summer of 2019 to coincide with other family travel when we can all gather in Hagerman where she will be memorialized next to her eternal companion, Aaron Bowen. We plan to travel to Idaho in early August for her memorial and to see other family members.

And on December 5, while we were in Israel, our adopted son, Vincent Marshall, died in San Antonio. I've written about this a bit in an earlier blog post. We have been so very saddened to lose him, but feel so blessed to have had him in our lives for so long. We were able to have one last conversation with him via Skype, before his passing. In years past, one phrase I've used to define our blessings was, "We raised six children and didn't lose any to accident, drugs, or disease!" We can't say that anymore.

Our first night in our new home, at 10445 East Tesla Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85212, was January 31st, 2019. We are very happy in our new home and new neighborhood, but we do certainly miss San Antonio. It's great to be close to Ben, Joel, Jenn (and families), but we miss being close to Derek''s family and Vincent's bereaved family. There is a lot we miss about San Antonio, too.

Today is the second Saturday of June, 2019. Glenda's step-mother, Netta Cardon Giles Baum, passed away this past week. Glenda will be flying home to Idaho for the services to be held on Friday the 14th of June, leaving Phoenix on the 12th and returning on the 17th. I can't go because I have a medical procedure scheduled for Tuesday the 18th, and I have to have a CT done "at least 3 but no more than 5 days prior," so Glenda will fly non-stop Phoenix to Boise where Carolyn and other family will take care of her and get her back to the airport to fly home from Boise on Monday the 17th.

In May, 2019, we got to attend the H.S. graduation of Ben's daughter, Sydney. She was a high school member of the Honor Society and has been accepted to ASU this August. We are so very, very proud of her.

Since our settling in the home in Mesa, I've been participating in the Encore neighborhood writers' group. That work has yielded three pieces of prose I've authored. Two of them are suitable for sharing here, and, in fact, are posted as the two earlier posts to this blog. They have also been published online at

51 Ways. A short story on by Dan Moyes.


The Stump Search. A short story on by Dan Moyes.

One of my works is not yet suitable to share publicly, and may never be. It was written as part of an assignment given me by my mental health counselor with the prostate cancer support group a couple of years ago. I've revised it a few times, and may eventually be comfortable sharing it. Or maybe not.

I recently completed a 4-week course (MOOC), Introduction to Who Wrote Shakesheare, from the University of London. The course was offered through and was completed entirely online. Starting this Monday, I will be working on another Coursera offering, Sit Less, Get Active. It's also a 4-week course and is presented by the University of Edinburgh.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I am not EZ to Stump

We once searched for a Stump and stumbled across a young woman named Shelly in the process.

Stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Here is the beginning:

Gene Stump was a cousin to my wife, Glenda. In the early 1960s, they had been occasional playmates. Together they roamed the summer fields, ditch-banks, and barns of their grandfather's farm in Idaho's Magic Valley. During that period of budding youth, when given the chance, Gene had taken advantage of Glenda, his younger "kissing cousin." Circumstances never allowed this to progress very far beyond a kiss – maybe the stray hand under a blouse for a few moments? She didn't object at the time and now says she was, in fact, flattered. Gene was the first boy to show her any interest and he always soon accompanied his parents back to their Nevada home.

A few short years later in 1966 or 1967, Glenda traveled with her father South on Highway 93 into Nevada for Gene's wedding to a pretty young dark-haired woman named Ruth Ann. While Glenda remembers the trip, and remembers that Gene tried to kiss her at the reception, she is unsure of the exact date.

A few months before our scheduled wedding in the summer of 1968, Glenda told me that Gene and Ruth Ann had shown up in our home town of Twin Falls looking to settle there. They were driving a bold and loud bright-red Hemi-powered Dodge Polara convertible, very much like this one:   

Image: Used for illustrative purposes.

I'll never forget the first time I saw them, rolling up in their red hot-rod to my workplace at the Gulf service station out near the edge of town. I hadn't often seen such a site in our quiet community. Did I say quiet? I actually heard them before I saw them. The booming radio playing an Iron Butterfly hit was loud enough to be heard for several blocks, even over the powerful throbbing of the nearly un-muffled 426 cubic-inch V-8.

Squealing up to a stop at the closest row of gas pumps, Gene hauled his 250 pounds of poorly toned and untanned flesh out of the driver's side of the car, brushing back his long, thin, oily blond hair. He was dressed in a white t-shirt and blue jeans which hung too low for the time – white high-top sneakers without any visible socks, an unfiltered cigarette dangling from his lips. A strange, cloying smell seemed to hang about his presence as if his clothing had absorbed smoke from something sweet burning. His flushed pink face was scarred with past and current acne

"Fill ‘er up with high-test!" he commanded.

"Sure," I replied. "Do you need anything else?"

"Yeah. ‘Ya might as well clean the glass."

Through the bug-splattered windshield, as I scrubbed and polished, Ruth was an unavoidable site. Huge pink sunglasses over too much makeup and big 70's hair ahead of its time. She wore only a bright-pink elastic tube top with small white polka dots. This garment, about two sizes too small to properly contain her, was combined with a pair of extremely short-cut white hot-pants which, like her hairstyle, was at least two years ahead of its time in our neck of the woods. Unlike Gene, Ruth was well-tanned with no visible white tan lines. Open-mouthed, she chewed a big wad of pink bubble gum as I scrubbed. Was it just my imagination, or did she wink at me? Hard to tell, with her behind those big sunglasses.

Grinding his cigarette butt (which I'd have to clean up later) onto the concrete apron, Gene said, "Glenda tells me that you're her fiancé, Danny."

Danny is not my name. My birth certificate says ‘Dan.' Not Danny, not Daniel. Dan. My blue filling-station shirt said, "DAN," in white embroidered script just opposite the orange-blue-and-white Gulf logo. Glenda knows I don't like that particular diminutive and she wouldn't have given Gene my name as Danny. But, with a weary sigh, I said, "Yep, that's me."

"Well, glad to meet ‘ya. I'm Glenda's cousin Gene and the decoration there in the front seat is my wife, Ruth Ann. We're lookin' for a place to live around here and plan to stay, so we'll be gettin' to know ‘ya better."

The windshield was as clean as it was going to get and I'd seen nearly all of Ruth, or at least all I cared to see, so I moved to the rear of the car and topped off the tank. Tightening the cap and hanging up the hose, I said, "Well, I don't know of any place available right now, but from time-to-time, I see a ‘For Sale' or ‘For Rent' sign around town. You might want to check the classifieds in the Times-News. That'll be $5.85. Do you need a receipt?"

"Nah, don't need any paper," Gene said, reaching for his back pocket. "Oh, crap! I've forgotten my wallet!" Jumping into the driver's seat and firing up the engine, he said, "Put this on a tab for me and I'll pay you next time."

With another brief squeal of tires, away they went. I didn't often question Glenda's judgment, but these two just didn't strike me as the "settling" kind. We didn't do personal credit at the Gulf station – after all, credit cards were the new, hot trend – so I slipped six dollars from my wallet into the till and pocketed fifteen cents in change.

Gene and Ruth soon leased a big old house on 5th Avenue. They quickly filled it with fun, new items: A big color TV that could get all three channels and a pumping stereo, lots of nice furniture, shiny appliances, and plush rugs. Delivery vans made near-daily stops at the big house. Fresh out of high school and my parents' home and needing a place to stay, I rented a room from them in that house. They generously knocked $5.85 off my first month's rent, which I paid in advance.

The house wasn't designed as a rental and I had to go through the utility back porch and the kitchen to get to my room. Neither Gene nor Ruth Ann were good housekeepers, preferring to spend their time smoking pot or sipping suds. We were plenty familiar with beer in Twin Falls, usually Lucky Lager or Olympia, but the idea of using drugs for recreational use was new to me. I'd heard of such, but it seemed it was usually those far-away, crazy Californians that did such things. Laundry and dishes didn't get done; trash didn't get emptied; nothing got put away. They had a big white long-haired dog they called ‘Squatch' that left his loose hair, drool, and his waste products everywhere – where they stayed. Southern Idaho gets hot in the summer and the smell was not pleasant in this old home without air conditioning. I had to be careful where I stepped and always found it a relief to get into my neat and tidy room after navigating the sloppy obstacle course. Despite their differences, Glenda was happy to have her cousin and his bride in our lives though she made sure not to be left alone with him. She even invited them to participate in our wedding party. We spent a few evenings hanging out with them, discussing details of our upcoming wedding among other things. Gene and Ruth Ann shared stories of being newlyweds. Some of those stories were quite bawdy.

It should have occurred to me to wonder how Gene and Ruth Ann even managed, as neither one seemed to have a job or even a schedule. My parents, married for decades and both fully employed, didn't spend money like Gene and Ruth Ann did. In fact, I don't think I knew anyone who did! I was working double shifts to save money for the upcoming nuptials and to start our own home and didn't see the couple very often.

I came home from work one hot summer day to find both front and back doors of the house standing open, the red convertible hooked to a large, heavily-loaded rental trailer, tongue near to dragging the ground. Squatch sat drooling in the back seat, Ruth Ann belted in the front passenger bucket seat. I asked, "What's up?"

Shaking his head, Gene said, "We gotta go. Now!"  Tossing me a key ring, he shouted over the roar of the engine, "Give these to the landlord." Off they went. I felt dismayed for several reasons, not the least of which was my thought, "Where am I going to live, now?" My first full month of paid-up rent hadn't even passed. I didn't want to pay for the entire house and my name wasn't on the lease, anyway.

Besides, Ruth Ann was to have been a bridesmaid and Gene a groomsman at our planned August wedding less than a month away. How could they just leave? Gone was the big-screen TV and the stereo along with the refrigerator-freezer and the washer and dryer—no doubt in that orange-and-silver trailer. Other furnishings were left helter-skelter in the house and in the yard.

Less than an hour later a sheriff's deputy came by asking if I knew where they were. I didn't—they never said where they were going. It seems their lifestyle was destined to be short-term, financed as it was by fraudulent credit accounts and kited checks city-wide. It must have been easier to disappear across state lines then, before the Internet and modern police tools. I never saw Gene or Ruth Ann again, and neither did Gene's cousin, my then fianc√©, Glenda. They left the house looking, then, much as it does now:

Image: Google Maps  2019.

We had to recruit other friends to fill out our wedding party.

Now we fast-forward to the middle of the story:

By May of 2006, Glenda and I had been married for nearly 38 years. One evening, while relaxing in our San Antonio home, Glenda asked if I thought we could find Gene. She hadn't seen or heard anything about him since that summer day in 1968. I've never been able to tell Glenda no, which may be one reason we've managed to stay married so long, so I started searching to see what I could find.

We were able to learn from asking other family members and from their records that Gene (Eugene Earl Stump) was born the son of Bonniejean Rose Stump (nee Kunkle) in Nevada in 1946 or 1947, and was married to Ruth Ann in Nevada in about 1966.

With this basic information, I began searching that relatively new device, the World Wide Web. I started with a Yahoo and Google search by name. I tried every other free search method I could find. Nothing. I tried over and over as time allowed over a few weeks. I did learn from my reading and searching that search experts do not recommend paying for any search information over the internet, except when you have to pay for an official government document such as a birth, marriage, or death certificate. So, I didn't use any pay sites.

I used every search criteria I could think of. I looked for Gene and his parents, and a "Ruth Ann" that was married in Nevada. Still, I found nothing but yet wasn't ready to give up.

One day while on (to which I had a brand-new membership), I came across the "Long Lost Family Member" bulletin board at, a service I had been unaware of. This service allows you to " for lost relatives and missing people by name or keyword and check to see if someone is looking for you by posting a query."

So I did that -- after all, I had exhausted other resources available to me on the Internet. After my posting there, I set the search aside, still leaving several search scripts, or "bots" active.

On May 31st of that same year, after my birthday celebration, I was relaxing by surfing the web. And there it was: A reply to my query. Someone else was also looking for a Eugene Stump and had left me a message on the bulletin board. I responded with my name and email and asked them to contact me.

Later that day I got an email from a young lady from Sacramento, California. Her name was Shelly Thomas (name changed as she is a living person) and she, too, was trying to find a man named Eugene Stump. She gave me her phone number in her email, so at a convenient time, I called, introduced myself, and we discussed our searches.

Shelly had been adopted and renamed at that time but knew that her biological father's name was Eugene Stump; that he had been born in Nevada; and that her mother's name was Ruth Ann. Bingo—we must be looking for the same Eugene Stump. We continued to compare notes. Shelly said that her biological parents had divorced in 1980 or so, but had a trial reunion in 1985. The reunion ultimately didn't take, but during the blissful honeymoon phase of the reunion, Ruth Ann became pregnant with Shelly, giving her up for adoption at birth in 1986. Shelly was adopted by a good family in Sacramento and had a happy life but was curious about her family history. She wanted to know about any genetic problems her future children may have. I told her a bit about Gene as a teen; the cousin-crush between him and Glenda (without any salacious details); Glenda's attendance at the wedding of Gene and Ruth Ann in Nevada in 1966 or 1967; and our brief acquaintance with them in Twin Falls, Idaho in the summer of 1968. I didn't comment on their lifestyle and sudden departure. I promised Shelly that I'd dig up some details on Gene's genealogy and family history if I could, which would be hers, too, and pass that on to her by email.

Over the next few days, using my new account and the predecessor to the current websites I more fully researched Gene's (and Shelly's) family tree. With this new resource, I was now able to find quite a lot--including information on her grandmother and her ancestry line back several generations. Prominent names from the history of Texas, Utah, and Nevada figured in the ancestry, such as Willis, Sevey, Kinnard, Dodge, and Fielding. I was still unable to locate any contemporaneous information about Gene.

One rich find was an electronic copy of a 280-page book titled, The Genealogy of the Descendants of GEORGE WASHINGTON SEVEY published in 1965. This book included the biography of G. W. Sevey himself. Old George, born in New York, lived from 1832 to 1902 and was buried in Colonia Juarez, Mexico. He was a truly wild and wooly western character known as a financier, organizer, and colonizer. At more than one point in his life, he uprooted his wives(!!) and family moving hundreds of miles to avoid prosecution for lawbreaking. It looked like Gene came by his slippery ways honestly.

After much work, I was pleased to be able to provide Shelly a chart of her family tree of her grandmother's line and an electronic copy of the book, as G.W. Sevey would be her Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather.

Now, in keeping with tradition, the end of the story:

About a week after my telephone conversation with Shelly a message popped up on my PC when I logged on -- a search bot had found a hit on a Eugene Stump, born in Nevada in 1946. I clicked on the link and was taken by surprise to an obituary. Gene had passed of a heart attack in Sacramento on May 31, 2006. The very same day Shelly and I first spoke. In the same town she lived in. As they do, the obituary gave a few brief details of his life. Shelly was not mentioned, but his earlier marriage to Ruth Ann in Nevada in 1966 was mentioned.

It was difficult, but I dialed Shelly and gave her this news and later sent her a copy of the obituary. So very close. So very far away. We never did locate Ruth Ann, but Shelly now knew more about her father than his name, and she had information about her father's family for several generations back, including the story of one old lion. I was so sorry to tell her of Gene's death but glad we could provide a link to her story. We still stay in touch through Facebook. Shelly has since moved to Texas and married in Austin in April of 2019. While we may not all live happily ever after, life does go on.

In addition to a beginning, a middle, and an end, stories traditionally have often had a moral. The moral of my story is simply this: Don't give up; don't let yourself be stumped in your searching. We may not be in control of what happens, but we can influence the impact of those happenings. Because Shelly encouraged me I didn't drop my search and was rewarded with her gratitude for the things found.

End notes:

Some of the tools I did use during my online searching include: (brand new in 2006) (very popular but being overtaken by middle-school mentalities--which may be preferable to what’s happened with FB since 2006)  (also quite new in 2006)

The Social Security death index through   

Public record searches as may be found at

Additional information regarding the story of G.W. Sevey:

The 280-page book titled, The Genealogy of the Descendants of GEORGE WASHINGTON SEVEY was published in 1965. I have no information about when it was digitized or who did that work. This book included nearly 20 pages of the biography of George Washington Sevey. Old George, born in New York, lived from 1832 to 1902. He was a truly wild and wooly western character known as a financier, organizer, and colonizer. He meant to take part in the Gold Rush of 1849 but, sick and left behind by his company, ran out of money and had to take a job in Salt Lake City, UT. There he converted to the Mormon faith and eventually took three wives into his household after settling down to build a town now known as Panguitch, Utah (where Glenda’s grandmother would later be born). He later moved to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to avoid prosecution for polygamy. He was well-known in and about El Paso, Texas, where he traveled near daily to conduct business by way of telegram and U.S. Mail. Later he moved to Colonia Juarez, Mexico, and settled near the Romney family, with whom he was well acquainted. After his death, he was buried in Colonia Juarez.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Writing is not EZ

This post is a re-work of an earlier post. I have been working with a writers group in my neighborhood. I've made an attempt to apply what I have learned there and from recent readings to improve the readability of this story. I hope you enjoy it.


Monday, December 8, 2008, a small but busy airport somewhere in the rust belt of the U.S. Outside heavy wet snow is falling steadily from a cold gray sky.

Having extracted myself from a cramped coach window seat after the two-hour ride from Atlanta, I was anxious to get to the baggage claim and was feeling good stretching my legs as I left the concourse. Approaching the "once you pass this point you must reenter through security" line, I heard the following announcement over the airport's public address system (Note, names are changed to protect the guilty...and, also, because my old man's memory can't remember the real names):

"John Williamson, John Williamson, please return to security with your companion's passport and boarding pass so that she may pass through security. John Williamson...(repeat)."

"Wow." I thought. "What an error. To get through security with his companion's documents and leave someone stranded. Good thing there is a paging system."

As I passed beyond the security line, I noted an attractive early-thirties woman, tall, slender, blonde, dressed stylishly in black slacks and a black-and-white sweater, arms crossed, looking up the concourse passenger exit expectantly, tapping her foot. "Hmmm," thought I, "this must be Mr. Williamson's 'Companion'." I moved past her, never making eye contact, and proceeded to the near-by baggage claim. About then, I heard the earlier announcement for Mr. Williamson repeated.

At baggage claim, the flat-screen monitor over carousel 'A' announced the arrival of the luggage from the arriving Atlanta flight. The carousel was not moving and with about 120 other passengers, I waited. During a wait of 5 or 10 minutes, the announcement for Mr. Williamson to please return to security was repeated again.

About the time I began to get impatient for my luggage, a different announcement, this time aimed at passengers of my arriving flight from Atlanta, announced that bags were delayed and that the arriving passengers from Cincinnati could get THEIR bags on carousel 'A' and the bags from Atlanta would come soon. This announcement was followed almost immediately by a repeat of the plea for Mr. Williamson. I don't know if it was my imagination, or what, but it seemed that the plea for Mr. Williamson's return to security was getting more strident and forceful each time I heard it.

Since I had nothing else to do, I strolled back toward the security checkpoint. Ms. Companion was still there, arms still crossed, foot still tapping, now more slowly and with more deliberate force. The look on her face had changed from expectant to concerned. As I stood unobtrusively observing, her look morphed from concern to anger. I slowly shook my head, wondering just how dense Mr. Williamson could be as I headed for the Starbucks franchise for a bracing beverage. Meh, who knows? Perhaps he was detained in the men's room.

While I was in Starbucks, the airport PA system informed me that baggage carousel 'A' was malfunctioning and the Cincinnati luggage could now be claimed on 'C.' No mention was made of the Atlanta luggage. The paged plea for Mr. Williamson's return was repeated, twice, while I waited for the baristas to do their job. After I got my coffee, I headed back to the baggage claim area where I observed 120 other arriving Atlanta passengers doing what airline passengers do: Wait. Since I had nothing else to do...well you get the picture. I went back to check on Ms. Companion. Still there. Then, finally, after what seemed like forever waiting, an announcement for the Atlanta bags up on carousel 'C.'

Poor Ms. Companion. I last saw her on my way to the rental car kiosk, after I finally got my bag, the last one in on the carousel. She was still standing near the (only) passenger exit from the concourse. By now the look of expectancy, concern, and anger had melted to a look of distraught shame and despair. She was openly sobbing with huge tears streaking makeup down her face. Her arms were no longer crossed but hung to her sides, hands clenched into fists. About 50 minutes and at least a dozen repetitions of the announcement had passed since my first sighting. Can you even begin to imagine how she felt? I was impatient and I was only waiting for a piece of luggage. It reminds me of an anonymous quote that I once heard, that, to the world, you may only be one person but to one person you may be the world. Was Mr. Williamson, at that moment, her world crashing around her? Can you imagine Mr. Williamson, when approached by the airline's gate agent as the flight for Bermuda boarded, saying, "I'm not going back, she can take care of herself." The audacity is breathtaking; the agony heartrending. I don't think this method of dumping another was even mentioned in Paul Simon's 50 Ways. Did Mr. Williamson plan this? Or did he find himself separated and spontaneously decide to make the split permanent?

This story has no real ending. In fact, most of it is my impressions and my interpretation of what was happening at a small airport on a winter afternoon as snow fell outside. Perhaps the dreary weather made things seem more grim. Of this I am sure: The tears on her face looked very real, and hot enough to melt the falling snow.