Monthly Archives: October, 2021

Halloween Eve

Chet had been planning ever since last Halloween…the most spectacular event that he or Billy B. or anyone had ever taken part in! He was going to perform his famous disappearing act right in front of Jane and Sally and Jeff C. and Daryl. He had sent away for the magic trick from Universal Studios and it promised complete satisfaction…or your money back. He had practiced it in front of his action figures of; Daniel Boone and GI Joe. His mom, Thelma, had also witnessed it and promptly responded that she knew how he did it… Everyone was coming to his house in Parrish Addition at six P:M:. His mom was preparing hot dogs…that was really hot…and her homemade apple cider.

Billy B. decided that he would attend Chet’s soiree as the Invisible Man…as a challenge to Chet’s disappearing performance. He considered that if Chet’s disappearance was lame…he would be a good alternative as the H.G. Wells literary character. On this date in 1938 had been the famous radio broadcast of Orson Wells adaptation of the War of the Worlds. The dramatic radio program had so frightened its listeners that many believed that it was really happening and that the Earth was being invaded by Martians. The fear was so great that Orson had to publically apologize for the broadcast and the fear that it widely engendered. Billy B.’s mom said that she had heard the radio show as a girl and that she not only had never forgotten it…but that she still wondered if it might have been true…

Daryl had been secretly assisting Chet with his disappearing act. He was going to bring his magician’s cape and black top hat for Chet to wear…and he assured him that with his practice and the real magician’s garments…he would be a success beyond his wildest imaginations. The local radio station was set to play the original tape of Orson’s performance just before Chet took the stage in his living room for his gathered audience. Neva Jane was going to accompany Billy B. to hear her childhood radio fantasy…25 years after it had first aired.

As the hallway Grandfather Clock struck 6…the War of the Worlds began… Thelma was passing out the hot dogs and the apple cider. Neva J. said that the program was as scary as it was when she first heard it…and that it gave her…goose pimples… Billy B. had to unwrap the bandages that encircled his head in order to eat the hot dogs and drink the cider. Jane and Sally were dressed like Martians in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the infamous program. At the conclusion of the narration of disaster and destruction for the earth and its inhabitants…Daryl whispered to Chet, ‘You’re On!’ Chet stood on the stage and began to explain how he was going to disappear before their very eyes…and he did…without fanfare…he was gone…in mid-sentence… Jeff C. asked Thelma for another hot dog and just a dash more apple cider. Daryl announced for everyone to fix their gaze at the back of the living room…but Chet was not there… Suddenly there was a loud exploding just outside the front door of Chet’s house. When Billy B. opened the door..there was Chet…but he was green and had an antenna protruding out of his head…and he had an eerie glow…

‘Come with me…quick…we have to get on the last ship…the next laser beam is aimed at my house,’ said Chet…


The rain prevented my daily Campus walk…so I walked in our mall. I was amazed at how many storefronts are now shuttered. A wonderful coffee establishment, Gloria Jeans, is now gone. MJ and I were discussing Christmas shopping and wondered where we could possibly shop in Carbondale. The face of retail is changing rapidly. I remember our mall when it opened in the 1970s. I had not experienced a more unique manner in which to do my shopping…than the mall. It was a town square under one roof. If you were hungry there were a plethora of choices of eating emporiums. There was a multiplex Theatre. The halls were so full of people that you could barely walk. During the holiday season, the parking lots had every space filled…and police directing traffic. We purchased our wedding rings at one of several jewelry stores. I simply enjoyed spending time at the University Mall…as it was buzzing with excitement and the hustle and bustle of modern society.

I wrote a blog yesterday entitled, Lost, and I thought a bit further regarding what is an antidote for each of us when we are lost… Seldom have I ever felt found in my quandry…as when another human is kind to me. Contained in being lost…is the feeling of being alone. Poor people who commit suicide feel terribly…alone. Often a kind word from a fellow traveler through this hilly and rocky journey…can pull back the clouds of gloom and despair…and reveal the brightness of the Sun..

When we meet another person…we look into their eyes…to determine if they are understanding…and kind. Kindness is someting that you can not fake. Kindness is something that you feel. Have you ever had a bad day. The kind of day that you felt completly alone. Everything seemed to be going against you…and it felt like God was taking a nap? During your lost condition you randomly encounter a kind person…perhaps it is a cashier at Wal-Mart. The lovely person exclaims, ‘It is good to see you…it has been awhile…how have you been?’ You think to yourself that no one is paying this woman to be nice to me…she is simply a kind person…and suddenly…God woke up…

So often we search for the big ideas. We seek to hit a home run…when a base hit is what is in order. The simpliest of kind gestures…make the difference…and provide a compass for those of us who are lost.

Emotions are magnified in media. We look for indescribale love…and rabid hate. Many relationships wither beause the mental expectations cloud the daily examples of love and kindness that people have for each other. Politics has devolved into a hate fest of destroying your opponent…when cordial disagreement and compromise with out rancor is what is called for.

People throughout my life who have shown me kindness and assisted me to stay on the path of a happy life…have often done so by a, ‘A word fitly spoken.’ It is not the multitude of gestures…it is the real and the genuine gestures to help our brothers and sisters…it really is the little things that make a difference…

Abandon House

Three days until Halloween. Billy B. and Chet had a master plan. They were going to have a Halloween Party on Saturday night…and Trick or Treat on Sunday. The location for the Party would be the old Gothic three-story abandoned home on the way into Eldorado from Raleigh. This was a scary-looking place in the bright sunlight…but at night…it was truly sinister. Jane and Sally were coming as were Daryl and his dad, The Wiz, who had promised to bring with him a film projector and a copy of Lon Chaney’s famous horror film…The Phantom of the Opera. It was going to be a frightening event with a candle in each of the house’s thirteen windows. Jane and Sally were coming as some sort of evil twins from something called the Shinning…but Billy B. did not know what they were talking about…as it was 1963…

Chet had purchased a new Halloween Costume…Robby the Robot. When Billy B. asked him why he had changed from the Lost in Space Robot…Chet said that it was time for something different. Daryl noted that the group would enjoy his Costume as it was straight out of Hogwarts…and again this was met with a shrug by Billy B. Billy B. had decided to attend as JFK…his favorite President…and his mom loved it. Jeff C. had said that he would come, at the last minute, and that since Billy B. was going to be JFK…he would be Vice President LBJ. With his full mask and suit…and Texas drawl…he had an uncanny resembelance. Neva Jane had returned from the other side of the mirror. She had little to say about her experiences with Edgar Cayce other than…time was a false construct that we humans had invented to make sense of our current reality.

The moonlight that night had an orange glow. Billy B. and Chet brought in the Kool-Aide and the Halloween cookies and The Wiz had just stretched a bedsheet across the candle-lit living room to act as a screen for his showing of The Phantom of the Opera. There was Jane and Sally…looking very sinister as the evil twins. Chet called out, in his new Robby the Robot voice, ‘Come here Mr. President and look at this mirror…it looks just like the antique mirror in your mom’s bedroom!’ Billy B. could not believe his eyes…it was his mom’s mirror and Daryl was standing next to it as Harry Potter…whoever that is…and saying, ‘Step right in ladies and gentlemen…for a travel to a parallel reality…’ Billy B. stepped in first and Jeff C….or Vice President LBJ followed after… They were in a motorcade…in Dallas, Texas…and a shot rang out…and LBJ said, ‘My God…they are going to kill us all…’

Photo by Hakan Erenler on

Suddenly…Daryl’s father, The Wiz, took an ax to the front door of the Abandon House…and said…’ Here’s Johnny!’


Heavy rain fell for most of the night. More is promised this afternoon and throughout the night. The rain causes the leaves to fall…and then entered winter. I just received my Liz Climo stuffed Bear. Liz is a wonderful cartoonist. Her characters are animals. My Bear is in many of her daily comic panels. By the way…I love stuffed Teddy Bears and other bears. I have several. From time to time a child will visit MJ and me… and I will give them one of my Bear Collection…and then purchase more. I am a kid at heart…

I was meditating regarding how some people in our country become wealthy or at least comfortable…while others seem to never be able to access the levers of finance or the ‘Good Old Boys Club’…and thus struggle to house and feed themself or live in poverty and want for the course of their lives.

Lonely is the best word to describe millions of humanity. I witnessed it most days during my over a 32-year career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. Many students had been raised in dysfunctional homes. Many without the benefit of both father and mother in the home. Many have never become acquainted with their parents. Many were a bit lost when it came to social interaction and integrating it with the stress of academic success. Mental health needs are staggeringly high in the University student population.

Life is a complex array of choices and little advice as to which one is best for you. We old folks enjoy ruminating on our great choices in life and the ease in which we made them…’ hindsight is 20-20…’ The truth is that we all had to consult our inner compass on numerous occasions…and we all made wrong choices almost as often as we made right ones. I have searched…but I can not find an operations manual to secure a good and happy life. A few bedrock principles prevail. Love others daily. Stay on track. Work hard. Believe in something that is greater than yourself.

We all become lost…at times. Life reversals such as job loss or death of a loved one…divorce or domestic strife…even moving to a new home and creating that all-thumbs feeling… Each of us needs a friend and a neighbor who can act as a sounding board for our struggles and directional needs. For Christians, the church has a vital role to play in providing directions to the lost. The calming comfort of a kind face and a listening ear and a non-judgmental person…is like, ‘Apples of gold in pictures of silver.’

I have been lost in various cities on many occasions. I was lost in Chicago, Illinois so badly that when I passed an exit that said interstate #57…I truly considered taking it and driving back to Carbondale in Southern Illinois…300 miles from Chicago. Have you ever been lost in the woods? All of the trees look alike and seem to be looking down on you and asking…’What are you doing here…?’ Being lost is a truly gut-wrenching and frightening and lonely experience. When I was hopelessly lost in Chicago…a friendly woman at a convenience store told me that if she did not have to hurry home that she would lead me to my destination…as she was originally from the south as well…Georgia…

Homelessness and poverty and hunger…is a social failure and the turning of our backs on our brothers and sisters…who are lost.

Lost is your painful reality…when your friends have full stomachs and brag about what they had for dinner…while you have no food…and are hungry…and work 40 hours per week…

The Journey

Fall colors were all around me…today. Thus is the mystery of autumn. You search and search for the brilliance of the fall…and if you oversleep…you miss it. Temperatures are dropping into the low 40’s at night and 50’s to low 60’s during the day. It is much more seasonal weather and the leaves know it. Thanksgiving is less than a month away…and Christmas is a month after that. The Holiday Season has arrived.

Having just attained the full age of 64 I still am amazed when I see that my fellow classmates from Eldorado High School…are all becoming 64 in 2021, also. Somehow the fact escaped me that I was in class with others who were the same age as me…and would be traveling Life’s Road at the same chronological pace as I am. So many simple things can elude us.

Life is a work/luck endeavor. Many will proclaim proudly that the poor simply need to get up off of their backsides and go to work. They go on to enumerate how hard that they have worked for their success. Somewhere in the conversation will be the discussion of bootstraps. Capitalism is devoid of empathy. I heard a person recount a story of a former slave who became free and subsequently successful in business…who then purchased fellow African Americans to be his slaves. Now, this may sound incredible…but the freeman was imitating what he had seen his fellow white business colleagues do in order to be successful in an economy based on the ledger of financial gains and losses. Often consideration is not given to the many hurdles that millions of people have to overcome in order to be a success in America. Years ago our state and federal governments closed most of our mental health facilities. Those programs that remain are working with severely diminished resources. Many of these forgotten humans…now have their home on the streets of our cities and towns.

Luck has played a major role in the success of many in America. It is a bit of a myth that is promulgated by wealthy people that they are blessed by God and favored over those less fortunate. I have many friends who have been Christians for 50 years and still are poor…and happy in their walk with Christ.

We people of faith are a divided lot. Some are driving in fine limousines on life’s roadway…while others are walking on bloody feet…back to Jerusalem. We see the immigrant seeking sanctuary from oppression and abuse and rape and death…and we wonder why they do not want to seek the dream of freedom in their own country… We pass the impoverished and hungry person just outside the door of our favorite restaurant…and speculate where they went wrong…to have missed out on the American Dream that was so easy for us to access…

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

People who have little…and share it with those who are needier than they are…are those who Jesus is watching.

‘And Jesus sat over against the treasury and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all, they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. Mark 12: 41-44. KJV

Marionette Show

Five days until Halloween. Billy B. was excited regarding the Marionette Show that his friend Steve was going to put on this evening. Jane and Chet and Sally would be coming as well as Steve’s sister, Susie, who Billy B. had a crush on…and Danny and Pauly…his neighbors from the other end of the lane in Chicago. A few nights ago there had been the strange occurrences of the Hayride and the Halloween Party in the old barn…and finally the hairy condition of Chet when he walked out into the brilliant glow of the full moon. Billy B. wondered just what is happening this Halloween…as it was a season like none that he could recall. Tonight, Steve promised a regular Halloween puppet show…with marionettes of; Frankenstein and Dracula and the Wolf Man and the Mummy. There would also be the old favorites of Punch and Judy and that perennial star of Chicago…Bozo the Clown.

Ivy, Steve’s mom, had made Halloween themed cupcakes and cookies and brownies. Ivy and Billy B.’s mom were best friends. Neva Jane had told Billy B. that Ivy changed at night…and did not seem like the same person. Billy B. thought that his mom’s statement was strange. Ed, Steve and Susies dad, was a nice man who said little. He smoked Pall Malls…incessantly…as did Ivy. Billy B. wondered if he had ever seen Ivy and Ed…without a cloud of smoke around their heads. Billy B. remembered that he had seen Ivy late one evening last summer and greeted her…and she had simply stared at him with an unusual grin…and then turned and walked away. In fact he did not want to give in to his eyes…as he had thought for a moment…that she floated away…

Chet arrived at Billy B.’s house first and brought his marionette of Daniel Boone. He was hoping that Steve would use him in the show. Billy B. asked Chet if he had ever noticed anything different about Ivy or Ed. Chet responded that he noticed that Ivy talked constantly and the Ed said nothing…thus they made a good pair. He also said that Susie had asked him one time if had ever wanted to fly…and that she could show him how…if he wanted to stay overnight at her house. About that time Jane and Sally came in. Billy B. asked Jane the same question that he had just asked Chet. Jane responded to the question by noting that they were always surrounded by a cloud of smoke…and that at times their eyes looked sinister… As the intrepid group walked outside to go down the street to Steve’s house for the big show…there was Danny and Pauly. Billy B. thought what the heck…I’ll ask them the same question. When Billy B. asked the same question of the brothers…Pauly said that he had looked in their refrigerator once…and there was nothing in it…but packs of Pall Malls…

Susie greeted the Halloween Marionette Show audience with a warm smile and a hug for Billy B. Billy B. thought that what the others had said about the family…was a load of malarky. Steve said…’Everyone sit down and the show will commence.’ The first act was Punch and Judy. Then…on came Frankenstein and Dracula with Daniel Boone fighting them with his flintlock rifle. Finally…. came Marionettes that looked just like; Ivy and Ed and Steve and Susie. The Ivy puppet was talking a mile a minute and the Ed puppet was sitting in a puppet easy chair. The Susie Marionette went to answer the small front door of the Puppet Theatre…and in walked Marionettes of; Billy B. and Chet and Jane and Susie and Pauly and Danny. The Susie Marionette bent down to hug the Billy B. Marionette…and then the lights went up…

Billy B. rubbed his eyes and looked at his arms and legs…they had strings attached…and there was…Bozo sitting next to him…

Old #64…Has Left The Station

Yesterday was a lovely day for me…full of light and laughter…and love. The Birthday celebration began for me on Friday when Ira Kaye and Ron asked us up for lunch in Centralia, Illinois. As an added welcome surprise our niece Tara joined us. I first met Tara when she was a wee young person…and I have always considered her…wonderful! We ate at a great restaurant that looks like a castle and the food was delicious. When I see Ron and Ira Kaye I see my good friends who we have traveled with and visited in Florida and New Mexico…and who have been a constant joy in all of the Brooks lives…

MJ has been asking me for some days if I did not want to open her birthday present to me…early. I kept declining in lieu of October 24th. Yesterday I knew why she was anxious for me to tear into the package…it was a pair of outstanding LL Bean Pajamas. I have not owned a set of pajamas for many years…sleepwear is a whole new experience for me…

Aaron knew that I wanted an Onyx bracelet. I think that I am taking after my old contemporaries…as I have always enjoyed rings…but now also bracelets designed for men. Mom loved the colors red and black and as I have aged…they have become my favorite as well. I have worn a black Onyx ring for many years…now with the bracelet to match…I am a bit of a mafioso.

Jonathon gave me a Seinfeld’s Kramer character in June for Father’s Day. He then mentioned that there was also a Newman Figure from the television show and did I want it for my birthday. I replied with a hearty yes as Seinfeld is my favorite TV show of all time. But yesterday there was a LP album from Jonathon of Norah Jones Christmas music. And…an original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle…with a great story to accompany it. The TMT came from our favorite Eclectic Emporium…Electric Larrys…

Lamb is the movie that we saw at the Landmark Theatre in the Plaza Frontenac in St. Louis, Missouri. It was very enjoyable and I will not spoil it for you…but it adds a significant twist and a new meaning…to parenthood.

At one time it made me angry for someone to refer to me as young. I had positions that were beyond my years…at the University…and I did not want to be considered immature. My first pastor told me when I was 15 or 16 years old that I had an old soul. The truth is that as I have gotten older…I see things that I did not when I was younger. There are nuances to life…there are opaque images and things that hide in the shadows…or just out of eyesight. We are surrounded by beautiful people…but we are so busy we fail to see the beauty. Others are looking to us for a word of encouragement…and a smile…a kind remark…a hand of assistance as we navigate the dimness and the darkness and the pain and the suffering of our human condition. I used to hear that others watch what you do much more than they listen to what your say.

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’. Maya Angelou

Cheers for Dad

A great blog from my son, Jonathon.


All of us only get one holiday a year that we can truly claim as our holiday. Of course I am referring to birthdays. My family makes a large deal out of birthdays. Let’s just say that if our birthdays were a coffee beverage from Starbucks the size would be venti every time. Venti or don’t even bother with the coffee! Go large or don’t go at all! Happy (insert your favorite cuss word here) birthday!

Yesterday my father turned the age of 64. My family and I went all out for Dad. Dad’s presents included new pajamas, a marvelous bracelet, a new Norah Jones Christmas album, a Newman (from the Seinfeld TV show) action figure and a glass of wine at the movie theater we frequented in St. Louis. Other people showed up for Dad on his birthday as well. He received birthday cards and many wishes of birthday…

View original post 257 more words

Cheers for Dad

A great blog from my son, Jonathon.


All of us only get one holiday a year that we can truly claim as our holiday. Of course I am referring to birthdays. My family makes a large deal out of birthdays. Let’s just say that if our birthdays were a coffee beverage from Starbucks the size would be venti every time. Venti or don’t even bother with the coffee! Go large or don’t go at all! Happy (insert your favorite cuss word here) birthday!

Yesterday my father turned the age of 64. My family and I went all out for Dad. Dad’s presents included new pajamas, a marvelous bracelet, a new Norah Jones Christmas album, a Newman (from the Seinfeld TV show) action figure and a glass of wine at the movie theater we frequented in St. Louis. Other people showed up for Dad on his birthday as well. He received birthday cards and many wishes of birthday…

View original post 257 more words

Through The Mirror

The air was especially chilly after the unusual warm October days that had just transpired. There was just over one week until Halloween. Billy B. had awoken early on the rainy and cold Saturday in anticipation of the coming holiday week. Chet and he were going to go over to Billy B.’s cousin’s house and examine his Universal Studio Authentic Monster Masks. Cousin Gene had a plethora of masks displayed on shelves that were on all four walls of his bedroom. Chet had asked him, one time, if the masks made it somewhat difficult to sleep…and Gene replied that he could not see them in the dark but only when the blue light of the television shown through the gap in his bedroom door…or if the Moon was full. Billy B. called out for his mom, Neva Jane, but there was no answer. He searched every room of the house…and finally her bedroom. She was no where to be found…but there was a full length mirror near the bedroom window that he had not seen before. The frame of the mirror was ornate black wood…not painted wood…naturally black… It was obviously very old…as Neva J. was an antique aficionado…

Neve J. had been reading books by the American Clairvoyant Edgar Cayce. Cayce had given thousands of readings for people, while he was in a trance state. He would answer questions regarding healing, dreams and many on reincarnation. Cayce believed that all minds were connected in the Dream Realm. Billy B. thought of these recents discussions with his mom when he saw the black mirror…which he had seen one just like it in a photo of Cayce in his trance state. Cayce had died in 1945…and this was 1963. The sound of the doorbell ringing caused Billy B. to awaken from his thoughts and answer the door. There was his good friend, Jane, and she had some popcorn balls for them to enjoy. He remembered that Jane was planning on joining he and Chet at Cousin Genes. Jane was immediately drawn to the lovely and mysterious mirror. ‘Where is Neva J. at,’ Jane asked? ‘That is the problem…I have lost her,’ replied Billy B. Jane looked to her left…and there was Chet…drinking a hot cup of coffee. ‘I did not hear you come in…Chet,’ said Billy B. ‘Oh I have been here for some time, said Chet. ‘Your mom purchased the mirror from my mom’s antique store…and I delivered it before daylight, a grinning Chet said.

Neva J. had told Billy B. that she had seen an unexplained light in their living room when she was reclining on the sofa and reading Edgar Cayce’s prophecies…and that it had made the hair stand up on the back of her neck. He knew that his mom had been raised in a fundamentalist church with a strict interpretation of the scriptures. She went on the tell Billy B. that she had shared some of her thoughts and questions with her mother and that Billy B.’s grandmother had cautioned her to not read anymore of the Cayce material and to start attending church. Billy B. had told her that he thought what she had been reading was very interesting and that he was going to do some reading as well about ‘The Sleeping Prophet.’

Jane called out to Chet and Billy B….’Hurry come quick and see what I am seeing…in the mirror…’ They both ran to the bedroom and peered into the old silver backed glass. Before their eyes they saw a man laying on a couch and apparently asleep…beside him was a woman sitting in a straight back chair…Neva J….