Author Archive: bjaybrooks

10-10-20-20 — The Jazz Man

Porter and Parker were discussing the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. Chet asked them if they had recovered from the hayride that would not end…yet? Chet went on to tell them that Buddy had not only not been to school for the past 3 days but that his mother had reported him […]

10-10-20-20 — The Jazz Man

Calm In The Midst Of The Storm

I was buying some food for our Black Lab and our 16 year old Boston Terrier yesterday. The store owner asked me if anyone had ever told me that I had a distinguished voice? I thanked him and considered to myself that I have always thought that my voice sounds a little strange…but at almost 63 years old I have become accustomed to it. The kind Pet Store owner went on to say that my voice had a soothing quality…somewhat like the actor, James Earl Jones. Indeed, no one has ever likened my voice to that of the dulcet tones of Mr. Jones!

Today I was talking with Pastor Kerry. He said that he enjoyed my photos of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…and that seeing it through my eyes he felt that it was a welcoming place. I pondered both the comments of the Pet Store owner and my pastor. Both took me by surprise and caused me to think about the impression or influence that each of us have on others who we do not realize that we are influencing. I have always admired those who have the ability to cause those with whom they come in contact…to feel better! Pastor Kerry is one of those gifted individuals. Each time that I speak with him…I feel better for the experience! If we could see the heavy steamer trunks…and the large valises…and the luggage of our complicated lives that we are caring on our shoulders and our backs and pulling behind us…we we would appreciate each other more fully… When a person is seeking to uplift me and to make my burdens a little lighter…during our 2020 pandemic…I am grateful… I watched, from the comfort of my porch as Pastor Kerry preached his outdoor sermon, last Sunday, in a 15 mile per hour wind and 50 degree temperatures…and so many of our church members assisting to make the first congregational gathering, since the pandemic, of First Presbyterian Church of Carbondale a success…and I thought thank God for people who care about the spiritual and mental and emotional welfare of others!

MJ and I agree…where did 2020 go? I have a theory! Our 2020 pandemic has forced us into a life without the customary little breaks whereby we mark our walk through a year… Without the semi-regular visit to our favorite restaurant or bar…or the theatre or a vacation or a mini-vacation…we have lost touch with our time clock! It seems that we should be entering spring…and we are in the fall. I was taking photos of the SIUC Campus this afternoon and I marveled the the autumn colors are vibrant…while I had a dim memory of spring and summer. I think that each of us need to tell each other…that it is going to be alright…

Photo by Tomas Anunziata on

Good times are around the corner! Yes, the corner is a little further than we first imagined it…but it is well within our field of vision! We will travel again…and take lengthy holidays…and celebrate birthdays and weddings and our favorite memorable occasions! This is not the end of our strange new world…but it is the beginning of the end… God is in his heaven…and his emissaries are our next door neighbors and our pastors and our coworkers! Listen to those who care about you and love you! Do not be to quick to criticize…be quick to listen and to understand…

Two days from now will be my 42nd anniversary of being hired at SIUC! October 10th is a holiday in the Brooks home! That is the day that our lives changed for the better and the benefits of a position at the University made all of the difference in the little home of the Brooks! In those days I wanted to be a minister…but it did not seem to be in the cards for me. In those days I dreamed of being successful in sales like my minister at the time was…and like my best friend had become… In those days I had the vision of becoming a leader in some area…as a classmate had told me in high school study hall when she said that she saw me as a leader with a brief case and many people working under my direction. My pastor had told me, when I had nothing and no immediate prospects of obtaining anything, that he had a dream of me becoming a leader of men and that many of my fellow congregants would be working for me. He also said that in the dream I had purchased a brand new automobile! I laughed as Abraham’s wife Sara laughed when the angel told her that she was going to bear a child…when she was much to old to do so… Both of the minister’s dream forecasts came to past…

The Mystery of the Lost In Space Robot…

Chet understood that something was desperately wrong with his and Parker and Porters’ experience in the Haunted House! Parker had fainted during their visit inside the House and he had seen a vision of Armageddon! Now Chet was somewhat well-versed in eschatology or the study of last things. He and his mom, Thelma, and his dad, Carol, had been members of the Social Bretheren Church in Eldorado, Illinois…for a long as he could remember. His grandmother had often told him that during the time of the last battle on the Earth…that the blood would flow up to the horses bridle. He often wondered what the experience would be like…although he was 7 years old and in the 3rd grade. Chet was a bit on the, ‘fleshy,’ side…as his mother often referred to him and his eye glasses were similar to the bottom of Coca Cola bottles…although he preferred Chocola! Chocola was a popular soft drink in the 1960’s and had a small amount of chocolate syrup within each 16oz glass bottle. It like the other popular sodas of the day sold for 10 cents. But, back to the primary concern of why Parker had dreamt of Halloween when it was only October 6th? He pondered that the dream that she had described was eerily similar to his and Porter’s plans for the big night! Buddy, or Gomez the Shy Ghost, had already approached them regarding his joining the fun throng for a night of hilarity and abundance of popcorn balls and full size Hershey Bars…and candy corn. He had just received his Lost In Space Robot suit from Sears and Roebuck and no one knew of it accept Porter… How did Parker dream of him wearing the Robot suit? Porter had been strangely quite when Parker awoke from her nap when the hayride wagon hit the chug hole. He seemed to understand much more than he was willing to admit. – Courtesy of

Parker was an energetic and vivacious young lady with a smile and kind word for everyone that she met. She was well grounded in the reality of the third grade. Chet had noticed that Parker enjoyed being around Porter and he…he thought what a good friend that she was!

Chet dozed as the rhythmic rocking and rolling of the hayride and his full stomach of smores and hot choclate and roasted wieners…lulled him to sleep. Suddenly Chet was on the television set of the Lost In Space show! He was not in his Sears and Roebuck Halloween costume…but was in the Hollywood made for TV version of the Lost In Space Robot! There was Will Robinson and Dr. Smith asking his for advice on some aliens that they had encountered. The lights on his clear globe of a head were blinking widely. The question that the Space Family Robinson’s son, Will, had asked the Robot was…’Will Parker and Porter survive the coming devastation?’ The Lost In Space Robot had answered in typical Lost In Space Robot form…and said…’That does not compute…’

The hayride stopped at Poor Boys Supermarket in Harrisburg because five of the kids had to use the rest room. Porter said to Parker and Chet. ‘Let’s get off this bumpy ride and stretch our legs!’ When Parker and Porter stood on the blacktop parking lot they looked around for Chet…but he was no where to be seen! They both searched for their friend…and determined that he was no longer on the hayride. ‘Where could Chet be,’ exclaimed Parker? ‘I did not see him fall off,’ said Porter. Doc Irvin told Parker and Porter that Carol, Chet’s father, had picked him up at the bonfire before they had left the festivities….

Chet…or Chet as the Lost In Space Robot…exclaimed…’Danger…Danger…Will Robinson!’

Life In The Slow Lane — The Jazz Man

The temperature dropped to 34 degrees last night. The frost was on the pumpkin this morning…as my mother would often say! MJ and I were looking at a miniature orange pumpkin at Aldi’s market, Saturday. We chose not to purchase the fall symbol of holidays and fun…and then we decided that we needed one after […]

Life In The Slow Lane — The Jazz Man

Gomez The Shy Ghost

Porter and Chet were excited about the possibilities that awaited them! Outside of their Halloween costumes…they had spoke of little else for the majority of the month of October. Chet had sent off for a full body suite representing the robot on Lost In Space. He had told his mom and dad that the cost of the suit could also be his birthday present…as he and Porter were both born on October the 24th! The entire Lost In Space robot suit, which included a full head mask made out of ‘space age polymer’…which in reality was just hard Hasboro plastic, was $49.95…before tax! The suit included robot arms that you pulled on over your arms. There were battery powered lights in the head that flashed red, yellow and green. This suit along with Chet’s amazing portrayal of the robot…was something to behold! Chet would begin to gesture his robot arms akimbo and utter the famous robot phrase, ‘That does not compute,’…and the crowd would go wild with delight! While Chet was the robot from Lost In Space…Porter was going to experience Halloween as the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Porter’s cousin Billy had a, movie quality, full head mask and Creature Hands that he let Porter borrow. There really was nothing to compare with the effect of the awesome costume! Chet and Porter’s friend, Buddy, wanted to accompany them on their Halloween revelry’s. Buddy’s mom had made him a ghost costume. She had named the ghost…Gomez. Porter noted for the record that he had never heard of Gomez the Ghost? Buddy responded that Gomez was a cousin to Casper the Friendly Ghost…but that Gomez was a bit shy… Parker spoke up, as she was the female accomplice in the adventure…and had been so since the Haunted House escapade at the first of the month, ‘I think that Buddy should join us as a ghost will round out our group nicely.’ Parker was going as Snow White.

So, the evening of Halloween finally arrived! There was the Lost In Space robot…stopping to conduct extemporaneous performances for each group of kids that walked by. The Creature from the Black Lagoon was making repeated menacing sounds and hand gestures…and attempting to see through the eye slits in the thick rubber mask…while his eye glasses repeatedly fogged up. Parker was walking beside Porter and Gomez…and Gomez had not uttered a word… Gomez was a full sheet that dragged the ground and Parker asked him how he could see…because there were no eyeholes? Parker or now…Snow White was followed by Seven First graders who were dressed as the 7 Dwarfs! Chet had taken notice that Gomez had not been going up to the front doors of the houses that the ensemble stopped at to plead, ‘Trick or Treat!’ He preferred to stand just outside of the front porch light…with he sheet flapping in the night breeze… After about the 5th stop Parker said that she heard someone calling their names…’PARKER….CHET…PORTER…WAIT UP!’ When they looked to see who was calling to them…there was Buddy running with his homemade ghost suit on…and trying to put his mask on! Chet asked Buddy…if you are just now joining us…who is the guy in the sheet… Parker went up to the sheeted ghost and pulled on the top of the garment and it fell to the ground!

Parker suddenly woke up when the wagon that they were riding on hit a chuckhole and the hay shifted that she and Porter were sitting on. She had not left Porter’s side since the terrible fright that they had experienced in the Haunted House…


Mary Jane and I dropped off our contributions to various organizations that help those in need, at our church, First Presbyterian, this morning. There was Jane collecting the donations…and I say to MJ every time we interact with Jane…’What a pleasant person!’ Around the corner walked Ro…who was busily preparing for the first congregational gather of our church in 7 months. Ro is a gem…and a tireless worker…and someone who I feel better for just being around and speaking to! I could see through the open church doors, Wendi, working on the needs of our weekly worship service and…all the more so since this will be an outdoor event! I have been impressed for over 21 years at the work ethic of my fellow Presbyterians! Wendi and her colleague, Sharon, are simply loving and caring people who cause our worship experience to be so meaningful and significant!

Happiness is not commensurate on happenings! I wonder if I have fully realized that the joys and blessings that I have been the recipient of have been facilitated by others? My mother often told me that money does not grow on trees! Certainly, the hard work of helping others is the reason that we enjoy so many enrichments and benefits.

We turned the furnace on the night before last. Sunday is suppose to reach 34 degrees farenheit and that is just 2 degrees above freezing! I love the changing of the seasons! Nature’s time clock fascinates me! But…I have a warm house to live in. Not as some of the houses that I have lived in though out my almost 63 years…where you could feel the cold wind of winter as it wafted around the front door and the threshold and the old single paned wooden windows… I vividly remember using Duck Tape to tape around our front door in Elkville, Illinois to stop the constant arctic air from entering our 4 room abode! I remember what it felt like and the painful reality of having enjoyed a sumptuous Christmas dinner at my mothers-in-laws and returning to my cold and happy home…with little in the cupboards and reading a book that I had received for that Christmas, ‘Hunger in America.’ My Christmas gift that year was a Texas Instrument computer that I connected to a 12 inch television monitor. I was working hard every day and MJ was homeschooling our 2 boys in order that I might spend some time with them…due to my evening and night workshifts…

Life in the United States is not the same for everyone! It not only is not equal…it is not the myth of ‘Pull yourself up by your boot straps!’ In order to pull yourself up by your boot straps…you first must own a pair of boots! There not only are homeless and hungry in America..there are many working families that are food insecure and afraid…and in danger of losing their next paycheck!

Not everyone owns stocks. It is a political myth that all Americans have a 401K… You are passing Americans sitting on the sidewalks next to your favorite restaurant or hotel or theatre or business or department store…that were a member of them middle class…before the 2020 pandemic…

I reflect often on my many years of friendship with my buddy, Steve. Steve and I were both born on October 24th. We were brothers from the beginning of our association. Neither of us had a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of… On one sunny morning Steve and I were traveling through DuQuoin, Illinois and Steve asks me if I would enjoy a breakfast of biscuits and gravy at the Maid Rite Cafe? I responded that I would indeed enjoy some biscuits and gravy. As we sat at the restarant table…the waitress inquired if we would enjoy some coffee? We both responded in the affirmative! As for me…I was always tired… When our waitress left our table…I asked Steve if he was, ‘Springing for the breakfast?’ He responded that he did not have a two nickels to rub together. I respondd that, ‘Neither did I!’ We left hastily and with our coffee still hot!

It is a political and religious myth that only the ambitious and motivated citizen of he United States is financially successful in the America. Each of us need a helping hand. Each of us need a leg up. Each of us need a mentor! Each of us need a friend………………

Cool Breeze — The Jazz Man

Jonathon and I are sitting on the screened in porch enjoying the fall breeze…we noticed that it is chilly! In fact I went back into the house and retrieved a sweater! I feel a little lighter due to receiving a haircut. I skipped it last month…and the gray hair fell on to my lap like […]

Cool Breeze — The Jazz Man

October Dreams

Porter loved October! He was born in October and most of the good things that had happened to him began with the Halloween month! He and Chet had become good friends in

the first grade and the memories of those halcyon days still warmed his heart. He recalled when Mrs. K. had taken all of the first grade class on a hayride and they had admired the girls…although they did not quite know why… The hayride was bumpy and the air was chilly…but they were excited about the Haunted House that they were on their way to visit. Chet and Porter spent their waking hours thinking about Frankenstein and Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. On Friday nights and again on Sunday afternoon they spent many scary and joyful hours at the Orpheum Theatre in their little Southern Illinois town of Eldorado, Illinois. Usually, during October, there were multiple horror shows to enjoy. Every year the English theatre company, Castle Productions, spun out another Dracula movie with the famous British actor, Christopher Lee. Now, Christoper Lee’s portrayal of Dracula was quite a bit more explicit than the original classic with Bella Lugosi’s rendition of the undead vampire. There was an abundance of blood, in Technicolor, and the female victims were a bit more risqué than the 1930’s masterpiece! Porter was reflecting on Dracula…as the hayride arrived at the haunted house…

The Haunted House was a Victorian home outside of Raleigh, Illinois. It had a red candle in each of it’s 13 windows. Chet mentioned that the number 13 was significant in the study of Numerology… Parker, a classmate that Porter had a crush on…clenched his hand and asked if she could go through the Haunted House with he and Chet. Porter said, absolutely, and Chet flashed a sly and knowing grin. Porter had idolized Parker since the 1st day of first grade! It was time to slide off of the hay bales and pick the straw out of your trousers. There was an inviting bonfire behind the Haunted House an there was not a star in the October sky! As Parker clenched Porter’s hand…Chet followed dutifully behind. The smoky odor of the burning wood from the bonfire…filled the chilly air. The intrepid three entered the front door of the spooky dwelling…not knowing what to expect. Before them, on the newel post of the circular staircase was a bodiless head that spoke to them. The head spoke clearly and with distinction. The head had an orange face and orange hair and looked, at first glance like a pumpkin, and the utterance that issued from it’s mouth was bone chilling. The pumpkin head said, ‘Beware of death due to fright…or at least as good scare if you choose to enter this house!’ And, then, it uttered the words, ‘Prepare to be frighted as you have never been frightened before…’ Parker squeezed Porter’s hand until it ached…but it was a good ache! Chet said, ‘He is here,’ but Porter and Parker did not know who Chet was speaking of?

Doc Irvin, the hayride driver, was waiting in the driveway. He had given the horses some sugar cubes and brushed them down and he was relaxing and the pullers of the wagon…as well. Doc noted that the children should enjoy the Haunted House as he had gone through it with his grandchildren last year and they all, including him, were scared to death! He noted that the reality of the exhibits was phenomenal. He went on to say that at one point he had forgotten where he was and who he was with and it seemed like that he was in the future…but, a dystopian one… Doc Irvin told Doc Drysdale, as all the bus drivers were noted as ‘Doc’, that his visit was somewhat an out of body experience where he wondered if he had entered the television show, The Twilight Zone… He went on the say that soon after the pumpkin head had spoken to the group he had become dizzy and disoriented. He saw himself a very old man and sadness surrounding him. Americans were fighting each other and killing each other in the name of christianity and expelling undesirable citizens because of the color of their skin or their religion or their political affiliation. He concluded by saying that he knew that he should not have had those two vodka tonics before he took his grandkids to the Haunted House…but that he enjoyed a couple of tonics every day…an he thought that no harm would be done…

When Parker and Porter and Chet emerged from the Haunted House…Parker said that she did not want to talk of what she had seen in the ancient dwelling…Porter mentoned that he thought at one point that he had fainted…and Chet said that he had witnessed Armageddon…and then it was time for roasted hot dogs and smores…

Slow Down and Listen Up

A wonderful blog from Jonathon Brooks!


It is easier to talk fast than to slow down and listen. It is easier to be rude when confronted with rudeness than it is to be kind. It is easier to choose judgment over grace. In my life’s story, I aim to listen while being kind and walking in grace.

Human beings want their voices to be heard clearly, but we don’t all want to hear for ourselves with clarity. I try not to talk over others and to apologize when I mistakenly do so. At times it seems to me that I have a lot to say. But I need to wait my turn to speak what’s on my heart and mind. Our world needs more great listeners and fewer proud boasters. The reason I’ve learned a lot through the slowing down of reading books is because I didn’t make the devastating mistake of thinking I already knew…

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Love In Conflict — The Jazz Man

It is a lovely 64 degrees today in Southern Illinois. The pleasant temperature along with an 11 mile per hour wind says Fall has arrived! I wrestled all morning trying to delete my old iCloud account…since I have been paying for both it and the new account that I got when I changed phones. It […]

Love In Conflict — The Jazz Man