Author Archive: bjaybrooks

The Continuing Adventures of Wallace T. Brooks…Private Eye (Chapter 2)

Wallace noticed that the last wooden black bear that Barry had carved with his Swiss Army knife had a green ribbon tied around its neck. None of the other carved creations had ribbons around their necks. ‘Ah ha!’ exclaimed Wallace as he had his first clue to the missing Barry. Wallace asked Marvin the mole if he knew of a store in Gatlinburg that sold green ribbon? Marvin said that he had purchased some green ribbon last St. Patricks Day in Jennie’s Ribbon and Bows Emporium and General Store. He then asked if anyone had seen his glasses? George the field mouse noted that it looked as if he was holding something in his left hand…whereupon Marvin exclaimed with great surprise and joy that he had forgotten that he was holding his spectacles as he could not see to read with them… when he was wearing them!

Mr. Mole proceeded to the Emporium on his moped with his spectacles firmly affixed to his nose! Frank the fox noted that the last time he had spoken with Barry that he seemed a little down in the dumps… Barry had disclosed to him that there were not nearly as many tourists this year and that he had missed the lively banter with them and constantly getting his photo snapped with them. He had gone on to say that each year when fall arrives he longs for a visit to Cades Cove and the splendor of the historic village and its majestic surroundings! Barry went on to mention that he had met his wife on the first day autumn, 24 years ago, near the Methodist Church in the Cove!

Wallace suggested that the group make their way to the old Methodist Church and Frank the fox said that he would drive them in the Chamber of Commerce van. When they arrived they began to pursue the church grounds, George was the first to notice that there were fresh bear tracks in the historic cemetery. Although they did not have the size of Barry’s foot…they suspected that he had been there not long before their arrival! Frank said that they should enter the church to see if there were more clues. Mole had just driven up on his red moped…and he ran into the church to announce, with some clear-sighted glee, that he had purchased green ribbon just the style and shade of the ribbon that they had discovered on the last carved black bear creation that Barry had done before his disappearance! Marvin went on to inform the group that Jennie, the owner of Jennie’s Ribbon and Bows Emporium and General Store, had told him that Barry had been into the store over the weekend and purchased a full roll of the green ribbon! Jennie then said that when she had asked Barry what he needed so much ribbon for…he had responded that he was going to take a holiday to visit his loved ones at the Cove! George the field mouse exclaimed that he had seen the same green ribbon tied to a oak tree in the cemetery! Wallace called out to his cadre to come over to a pew in the back of the ancient sanctuary to see what he was seeing. There on the back of the pew, carved in perfect block letters, was the inscription…BARRY LOVES ABIGAIL! George jumped up and down and beseeched the group to come and look at the green ribbon that he had noticed on the oak tree in the cemetery. There on the oak tree were the words: Abigail born on September 22, 1996 and died on September 22, 2016. Wallace asked, ‘Did any of you know that Barry was married?’ All the conclave said that they had not known of Barry having any family and that the audiences that watched him carve on a daily basis, including Saturdays and Sundays, seemed to be his family!

About that time walked in Bob Badger the Barrister. No one knew just how old Bob was. He had a law office near the Old Mill and had reported for work there…for many years. Bob asked, ‘Can I help you fine gentlemen?’ Wallace asked, ‘Have you seen any black bears lately?’ Bob the Badger Barrister laughed heartily, as Cades Cove was resplendent with black bears! ‘Could you describe the black bear that you are looking for?’ Marvin the mole answered, ‘He is a large black bear wearing bib-overhauls and a flannel shirt and a Tulley hat balanced on his head.’ Bob replied, ‘Why yes…I just spoke to him…not an hour ago. He was on his way to the Old Mill to have lunch with his daughter, Belinda. Wallace announced, ‘We must go the Old Mill immediately!’

When the investigators arrived there was Bob and several other black bears enjoying a picnic lunch of Bologna sandwiches and potato salad and pickled beets. Barry greeted the entourage with a broad smile and invited them to enjoy the afternoon repast with him and his family. Barry introduced the group to his daughter Belinda and her children, Parker and Payton. He was surprised at the kerfufle that had occurred at his absence as he rarely took time off from the Welcoming Center. He explained that he had fallen in love with his wife Abigail…so many years ago and that on the anniversary of her death he had to be with his daughter and grandchildren. Barry went on to say that he was going to retire from the Center and focus the remaining years of his life on his family. He had always loved the Cove and he and Abigail had agreed on his living away from her and Belinda…in order to make a living. He had realized that he had been away from his daughter and children for far too long… Marvin the mole removed his spectacles and wiped his eyes. Bob the Badger Barrister told the picnic enclave that he had some good deals on real estate in Cades Cove and that he would be happy to set them up with something great and consistent with their budget! George the field mouse asked Barry if he was going to give notice on his retirement from his black bear carving job? Barry said that he would. Frank the fox announced that is was time to head back to the Welcoming Center and close the case of Barry the missing Black Bear! Belinda asked, ‘Did I hear you call uncle Larry…Barry?’

Bob the Badger Barrister asked if the group did not understand that Barry had an identical twin brother named Larry? He went to say that no one could ever tell them apart…including himself…

The Premiere Day of Fall

Another great Jonathon Brooks Blog!


It is the first day of fall and I feel cool about it. I don’t often write at 5:00 AM, but here I am with two cups of coffee down, and now I’m seeing what exactly I have to say. Fall weather is a favorite of mine. I am ready for my green and red American Giant hoodies once again.

I recently attained my reading goal for 2020 of 30 books. Now I’m at 32 and reading on. Perhaps in 2021 I’ll also set a writing goal of 30 short stories. Similar to many writers, I find it difficult to make the time for writing on a regular basis. I make time for my love of reading but I don’t always do the same for my love of writing. Although I won’t be putting my pens away anytime soon.

Some events that I’m looking forward to are another Record Store…

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The Continuing Adventures of Wallace T. Brooks…Private Eye — The Jazz Man

Chapter 1 It was a smoky morning in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Wallace had been up late reading Lovecraft Country. As he pondered the spectacular events contained in the narrative…he thought about it’s deeper message. He and his family had been traveling to Gatlinburg for over 40 years, and the supreme joys of the Great Smoky Mountains […]

The Continuing Adventures of Wallace T. Brooks…Private Eye — The Jazz Man

A Game Changer!

It is 70 degrees with a 9 mile per hour wind…and I am loving it! Fall has finally arrived in Little Egypt. Everything goes better in the fall…even in our 2020 pandemic. MJ and I have discovered a wonderful feature of shopping at our local Kroger’s supermarket and Walmart. We place our order on line and then drive to a specified location at either store and the kind attendants bring the sacked groceries out to our car and place them in the trunk…or in the boot…as the English would say. MJ had been telling me that we should try this miracle of shopping for some time…but I was skeptical…but now I am a believer!

Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale made an announcement earlier this week that is incredible! It is called the SIU System Commitment. ‘Leaders say it is a ‘system wide initiative beginning Fall 2021 that will cover tuition and mandatory fees for a new four-year undergraduate students who have a family income of less than $63,575 and meet basic requirements.’ WSIL TV.

‘ Our goal is to remove barriers so that all qualified students have access to an SIU Carbondale education,’ said Austin A. Lane, SIU Carbondale Chancellor. ‘A college education opens doors that lead to rewarding careers, and no student should have those doors closed due to financial restraints.’

Having been associated with SIUC for 42 years…I was gobsmacked! I have not seen an initiative of this magnitude in my career with the university! This groundbreaking commitment extends higher educational opportunities to students from lower wage families, of which Southern Illinois is populated by, as well as young people from across the nation. Southern had a bedrock commitment to being a university for first generation college students and an outreach to the children of coal miners and farmers and factory workers during its period of greatest growth, under the leadership of former university president Delyte Morris.

For the past several years our states have walked away from the commitment to providing a higher education experience at our state universities. Tuition has risen exponentially and an increasing number of of students have been priced out of college. Southern Illinois Universities extension of this exciting opportunity to students from lower income families is the most exciting news that I have heard in 2020!

SIUC’s tremendous announcement regarding regarding the systems financial commitment to students from lower income families has renewed my faith that we will come out on the other side of this terrible pandemic! ‘Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning!’

Photo by Luidi Cardoso on

The Adventures of Pork-Pie and the Missing Sausage! — The Jazz Man

Pork-Pie was a happy pig! He had been the House Pig until he had become to large to sleep in bed with farmer Mike and Miss Lottie…whereupon they purchased a king size bed just for him! He watched as the other pigs were wallowing in the pig sty and that it was exceptionally muddy and […]

The Adventures of Pork-Pie and the Missing Sausage! — The Jazz Man

Virtual Vacations

Next week we were on our way to Maine…before we had to cancel. This was the second cancellation this year…the first being in May. We thought that we could estimate the scope of our 2020 pandemic…but we were wrong. Adjustment and then readjustment are the secret words for the beginning of our new decade. The postponing of a vacation is of little consequence when compared with the suffering and grief and death of almost 200 thousand Americans. However the real need to become accustomed to our present reality is manifestly demonstrated in our regular order of living.

When you reflect on holidays that you have taken, you must admit that the memories are the enduring component of the adventure. MJ and I stayed in Europe for a month in 2014. We began our European adventure in Nice, France where we were privileged to stay with our dear friends, Margo and Jeff. They had a flat that was about two blocks from the Mediterranean Sea and Jeff and I walked to the rocky beach each evening. In fact we walked all over Nice! The sights and sounds of the city were mesmerizing!

Being in Nice for a week gave us the opportunity to absorb some of the Nice culture. Some of the things that Nice is known for are it’s: sunny weather, Beautiful beaches and Azure Blue Water, and a Stroll on the Promenade des Anglais. Our friends flat was a block or so from the Promenade…and we enjoyed a daily stroll on this famous promenade!

Venice was the next stop on our month safari. After our flight to the nearest airport it took an hour by water taxi to arrive at our destination. What an interesting and unique city! Our flat was near the Piazza San Marco and it had excellent air-conditioning! Venice is comprised off 118 small islands that are connected by 400 bridges. Jeff had taken ill the day that we flew out of Nice and was relegated to the flat for most of our week there. He and I would stay up late at night and laughed at British comedian Rowan Atkinson. At one point I was sitting outside our dwelling in the hot Mediterranean sun and enjoying an Italian cigar while wearing my new white hat that I had purchased at a wonderful hat store in Nice! I noticed several young men filming a couple that was just down from me in the piazza. Suddenly I looked up and the film students were in front of me. One of the group asked me if they could film me because I was very beautiful! Now I had lived 56 years…and had never been referred to as beautiful… He went on to say that they were making a film for the Venice Film Festival and they wanted me to be in the production. Later I found their film on line and there I was for 1 second…puffing my cigar and uttering 1 word…yes! Now Venice is an ethereal place! One evening we joined a haunted Venice tour…and Jeff felt well enough to come along. The ghost stories were chilling and at one point our guide invited us to peer into the murky canal and try to see the decapitated head of a woman who was murdered on the spot that we were standing…I peered intently into the dark waters… I think of Venice often, especially during our pandemic, as it is called the city of masks…

On our third week we rented a car and drove to Tuscany. Jeff had booked a 5 night stay for us in an ancient farm house. Portions of the dwelling had been built in the 12th century. The matron of the household was a colorful character! She made us feel extremely welcome and she and her son visited the chickens for eggs at around midnight…and she reviled her kittens when they did not quickly do as she instructed them… We attended a carnival in the local town of Montecatini Terme. Both of our husband and wife hosts seemed to throughly enjoy our visit with them to their local festival. I can remember my sitting at one end of the long picnic table and our male host sitting at the other and our both raising our glasses in a toast of fellowship and good will. Neither of us spoke the others language…but we understood each other perfectly! During our time in Tuscany I experienced my first and last massage. Jeff and Margo had told MJ and I how wonderful the massages were at the local spa. Jeff said that usually he received a massage wearing his swim trunks…but I had forgotten mine. I tried a pair or two on in the local markets…but they were made for a person that was half my size. Then I was struck with a bolt of inspiration…I would wear a pair of my dry-fit shorts that I had brought with me…and my fears subsided… We waited patiently for our masseuses to summon us for our sojourn to the land of muscles like butter and relaxation bliss! Out comes two women and one walks toward me and says, ‘husband of Mary?’ I replied that I was and she said to follow her. When we got into the massage room she handed me a paper clump. She then told me to remove all of my clothes and put on the bikini paper underwear! I protested and proclaimed that my friend, who had received many spa massages, assured me that I could wear my dry-fit shorts… She did not smile…and repeated that I must put on the bikini shorts and that she would be back soon… Doing as I was told and looking like Buddha…I was not experiencing muscles like butter… When she came back into the room she instructed me to sit in front of a full length mirror and then proceeded to pour oil on top of my head…. next she told me to go over to the bed and lay down…or as I like to refer to the experience…my visit to the Twilight Zone!

So that is three weeks of our four weeks in Europe. The 4th week was in beautiful Florence, Italy. MJ and I were so exhausted that we hardly could climb the stairs of the Uffizi Museum…yet we soldiered on! The ancient sculptor and art is breath taking! Margo told us that some people become ill by being surrounded by so much beauty… that it makes them a bit dizzy!

‘The Path Less Taken’ — The Jazz Man

I thoroughly enjoy walking the path around campus lake! It is something that I have been doing for 42 years…and it still seems fresh and inviting to me each time I trod the familiar terrain. When I am on campus…I am at home. Earlier I received an email from the chair of the Range civil […]

‘The Path Less Taken’ — The Jazz Man

Transparency Of Purpose

It is a fine Monday in Southern Illinois. The temperature and the humidity are lower. Cooler heads are good for healthy dialogue. It seems to me that life is more peaceful in the fall and winter. I remember when air conditioning was a rare commodity and when a store was privileged to have it there was a stencil of a snowman blowing cold air on the door announcing that they had air conditioned comfort and for prospective shopper to enter to enjoy the cool respite! We had a couple of window fans and we basically perspired all night…at least until the wee hours of the morning…where a hint of a cool breeze would waft through the window screens. We slept with the front and back doors open and the screen doors latched and you could hear virtually everything that your neighbors were saying and doing…much like a party line telephone… One thing for sure…there was little that was hidden!

Something that troubles me today is the lack of transparency. All to often I see hidden agendas and self-serving actions wearing the mask of benevolence and care. When a political leader or otherwise insists that their rhetoric and faux promises are for my benefit…and all I have to do is weigh their words against their actions…I am saddened by the needless subterfuge. It seems to me that often people have several variations of themselves. The version that you see is the one that they believe fits with your expectations. Indeed it may not represent the person at all…but rather their marketing of who they think that they need to be to elicit what they need from the person that they are dealing with.

Speaking to a person’s representative rather than their actual visage can be likened to Halloween and the wearing of funny or bizarre masks. Even now with everyone wearing face masks due to our pandemic…I often have trouble distinguishing aquantiances when I encounter them in the grocery store. It is even more difficult when experiencing longtime friends who suddenly decide that they are unwilling to continue the ruse and subsequently reveal the real person…to your surprise and dismay!

It is important to not base relationships on transactions. If someone knows you when they need your services and then…seemingly develops amnesia when you are no longer in demand…beware!

The most refreshing and original people that I know are the transparent genuine articles! The excitement of fellowshipping and knowing a one of a kind person is exhilarating and inspiring! There is a freedom and joy in presenting yourself to the world as God made you and not fearing to express your opinions or beliefs.

2,000 Books Later

Jonathon inspires us to read more!


I’m one book away from reaching my 2020 reading goal! The goal for this year was set on January the first for 30 books. 29 books later and I’m turning the next pages. My new unofficial goal after book 30 will be set at 42 books. I must read on!

All things books related interest and fascinate me. Buying books and gifting books and reading books brings me tremendous joy. I average around 38 books read per year. The English major from my college days still lives on and still has all his bookmarks from throughout the years.

My favorite item to give as a gift is a book I’ve previously read and enjoyed. And being given a book as a present truly means so much to me. The story of my life is a happy one and I like the happy stories the best. More hope and redemption and…

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Joy Comes In The Morning! — The Jazz Man

I am sitting on the writing porch and it is raining a deluge! I love it! Fall is as good as here and I am wearing my new Frankenstein T shirt, a gift from Jonathon, and happiness is still in the small things…especially when you realize that life is nothing but a drive by parade […]

Joy Comes In The Morning! — The Jazz Man