Ike Willis

Discussion in 'In Memoriam' started by Ike Willis, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Veteran Member
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    What Do You Folks Do On Friday Nights ?
    The old farmstead was pretty quiet with Ike in the army and gramps in the ground. Quiet and boring for a seventeen year old boy. Dad bought our first TV that summer. We could get two channels, three if the wind was right. All in beautiful shades of black, gray and white. The others gathered in the parlor evenings to watch the news. Ed Sullivan, Sid Ceaser, boxing and other stuff. But I wasn't interested in TV.
    It was a Friday night, I had some money and my own pickup truck. In our county seat the YWCA held dances on Friday night for the teens. The dances were held in the gy. I decided to go. As I was changing into clean clothes, Daryl asked where I was going. Then asked to go along. Hell, why not. He was thirteen.
    Dancing was something I just didn't do. I was there to watch, maybe get lucky. When a dance was in progress the center of the floor was dimly lit. The sides were darkened. After a dance there would be a pause and the lights would come on bright until the next dance started. I was standing among other people, in on the darkened sidelines watching a nicely built blonde in a tight skirt and tighter sweater. She was putting on a show, wiggling and bouncing around to the music. she was dancing with some guy in a leather jacket and hair that looked like it was held in place with a pound of vaseline.
    Then a strange thing happened. In front of me a chubby little gal turned, looked in my face and RAPPAHO, right aside my face. I staggered back a step or two. She really rattled my teeth. People near us were pointing at us and laughing.
    "Wa' the hell ya do that for''?
    "What the hell ya grab my butt for "?
    I stared at her for some seconds and she stared right back, daring me to do something. So I went to the restroom and looked in the mirror. My whole face on one side was cherry red. Damn, I could see finger marks. I went back, endured the snickering, found Daryl and told him I was leaving, come along or stay. He followed me out.
    As we were riding through town we passed a place called "The Brown Bottle". I saw Georgia's car nearby so I stopped. I couldn't drink there or hang out but Georgia would sell me beer if she was on duty. I stuck my head in the door. When she looked my way I made a circle motion with my finger. She nodded so I drove around to the back door. She came out and ask " What ya need sport"? I gave her a bill and asked for a case of whatever beer that much would buy, keep the change. She came out with a case of Fox DeLuxe beer. I put it in the back of my truck and Georgia gave me a big ol' kiss and went back inside. Georgia was four or five years older than me and had a huge crush on Ike at one time. So, we drove into our back yard, I sat on the opened tailgate of the truck and chugged down half a beer. Daryl sat there but wanted no beer. He started chuckling to himself. I ask what he was laughing at.
    "Remember all those times you played jokes and tricks on me"?
    "Yeah".
    "Remember that gal that slapped you at the dance"?
    "Hell yes Daryl, it just happened".
    "Well, when they cut the lights, I was behind you an' ducked down an' reached around you an' grabbed her big butt. Now we're even".
    Now it made sense. I took out after him but he made it in the kitchen door, into the parlor and onto the sofa to watch TV. I stopped at the kitchen door then went back to the truck. Sitting there sipping beer clear into morning, my thoughts drifting back to big brother Ike. What was he doing this night?
    Angel woke me in the early morning by pounding on my truck side as she went out to gather eggs. I'd slept in the bed of my truck.
    "What you doing out here all night"? She demanded. "You look like shit">
    "Thanks".
     
    #151
  2. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    What a lovely surprise to hear from you Bethanne and so good to read the words from Ike
    Thank you so much - hope you are doing well :) x
    @Ike Willis (Bethanne)
     
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  3. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Veteran Member
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    So happy there's still people here that enjoy Dad's stories !!! :) I will type out another tomorrow, there are lots left to share..... some are quite a bit to type. Thanks again for remembering Ike with your past posts, even when I hadn't posted in a while. I have NOT forgotten any of you, it just took me a bit to get back here.
    Until tomorrow <3
     
    #153
  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    Those who were here when Ike was with us will never forget him, and your sharing more of his stories will introduce him to those who came after.
     
    #154
  5. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Veteran Member
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    Better Times Past
    People often question my stories about other times. All I can say is, you had to be there. When people ask how I could go in bars when I was only 10 or 12, I explain the times. In 1950 I was 10. Through the 40's and most of the 50's things were much more relaxed. Try to visualize things in the late 40's or early 50's, in rural mid America. The towns around us were small farm towns. Our county seat was only about 12,000 then. Some farm homes didn't even have electricity. Telephones were on a party line. Heating was by coal or wood. Most had outhouses. No TV's, cell phones, I-pods, video games or other things people are slaves to these days. Farm kids had chores to do. We had radios for entertainment. My folks didn't get a TV until I was in high school. Even then, I didn't see what the fuss was about. They got 2, sometimes 3 channels. Reception was iffy and programming sucked. I preferred going out to a movie.
    Our house was full of firearms. Dad liked collecting and sometimes shooting them. We all were taught how to handle and shoot guns of all types. Dad kept an old Colt .55 revolver in a drawer by their bed, fully loaded. We all knew it was there. No one thought to play with it. Once mom, home with Daryl and granny, found a rattle snake in our orchard. She went in got the .44, hunted the snake down and shot it. In those days, people didn't wet themselves at the sight or mention of a gun. I guess more people had guns then and knew about them.
    When I was a school boy, I carried a pocket knife all through my school days. Most boys did then. Hell, some girls did. Angel always had a pocket knife. One Christmas dad gave all of us a new Schrade pocket knife. They were all of the 'muskrat' pattern. For those who don't know knives, muskrat pattern knives had two narrow, thin blades of equal length, one on each end of the knife. Each blade folded into the handle. These were non stainless steel so they needed a bit of attention to keep from rusting but, it was easy to get a razor edge on them. A couple strokes on your whetstone restored their razor edge. They were hard to beat for dressing out small game.
    In fact, knife sharpening was one of my chores. I didn't mind at all sitting at the kitchen table in an evening, with my honing stones and bottle of light machine oil and patiently honing all the pocket knives, skinning and kitchen knives, to the sharpest edge possible. I did such a good job of it, I was stuck with it. In fact, I once had a job in a plant sharpening tools and machine blades. I still can't understand why school officials embrace a ''zero tolerance'' nonsense because some student has a tiny key chain knife, more toy then anything. Over reaction by a bunch of nervous nellies.
    So, how could I go in bars so young? When you know bar owners some cut you some slack. Back then it was common to see a kid in bar with his dad or mom. Not drinking though. One bar near a school in a small town opened early in the morning. The owner had a display of cheap candy he sold to school kids that stopped by for their candy fix on their wat to school. Back then, people just were not so damn sensitive about every damn thing. Hell, we could even smoke in the bars then, back before all the control freaks took over our government.
    I mentioned before, I introduced myself to the taste of beer at an early age and liked it. It was MY choice. Naturally, my folks didn't want me drinking but, they knew the harder they tried to prevent me, the more ai would do it. They did keep me somewhat under control. Things are changing to much and too fast for this old fart. I suppose these day we are now will be someone's good ole days in the future.
     
    #155
  6. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Veteran Member
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    Does Anyone Still Go To Auctions?
    Farm and household auctions provided my family with near everything we needed. These auction sales were more than just a chance to acquire more junk. They were social events, sometimes lasting two days. Farmer's and neighbors could get together, visit, bid on useful items and enjoy a great lunch. The food was usually prepared by church ladies from the area. At the same time, it was sad to know that a friend and neighbor had died, or just quit farming and retired.
    I think I was seven years old when dad and gramps came home from a sale dragging what had to be neatest car ever. It was huge, at least to a seven year old. It had wood spoke wheels, two little seats that folded down onto the floor in the back and a window that rolled up or down behind the front seat. Ike said it was a 1926 Hudson super six seven passenger sedan.
    Dad and gramps got it started, after some tinkering. It was loud and smoked terrible, in the course of the summer, dad gave it a complete engine overhaul. When finished, it ran much smoother and didn't smoke or leak oil at all. It still needed new tires and a brake job but dad sold it as-is for a small profit. Another sale brought a nice 1925 Ford Model T coupe. A pickup load of spare parts came with it. Dad only had it a week. It ran good and looked good after the dust and pigeon poop was washed off. Dad drove it to town on an errand, hung a for sale sign on it with our phone number and parked it while he did business. A few days later someone came by the farm and a deal was made. They drove it off while dad pocketed a wad of bills.
    At one farm sale I was lucky enough to go along on, there was a hay wagon parked in the farmhouse yard. On the flat bed were cardboard boxes sealed with tape. The auctioneer explained that all the boxes contained small stuff from the house. No one could open them until after you bought them. When the bidding was over, dad wound up with all of them for 25-50 cents a piece. Few others were willing to chance a bid on the unknown.
    I couldn't wait to get them home. It was like Christmas. Everyone got to open some. Mostly they contained stuff like towels, sheets, blankets, tablecloths, kitchen utensils, small tools, books and the like. At the bottom of one box was a wood cigar box full of pearl handled knives, all exactly alike. Mom said it was money well spent as each box contained something useful.
    Dad had been called a collector but a more accurate description would be an accumulator. A true collector buys with a purpose. Like, glassware from a specific era or of a certain type. Dad bought anything he liked at the moment. Dad always was a gun enthusiast and farm sales provided a good many arms of all types. So did Sheriff Hagans and some other sheriff's and police chiefs in a several county area.
    Back in those happier days, dad got acquainted with lawmen all around us. He would offer to buy any arms and ammo they didn't need for evidence any longer. Some wouldn't let him pick or choose. He had to buy all or none. As a result, we were awash with guns. Every so often dad would sell or trade off a bunch of unwanted arms for something he needed.
    There are still auctions going on here but I can no longer attend them. They live on in my memories of better days.
     
    #156
  7. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Veteran Member
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    Chicken House Wreck
    In my 11th year, I remember a fine hot summer morning. Dad and gramps took the old flatbed truck and left for another farm auction. My instructions for the day were to change oil in dad's Buick, hoe the garden and clip the grass growing around the foundations of the house and all the outbuildings. Dad knew I couldn't do all that in a day, he just hated to see anyone idle who could be working. Especially me.
    Anyway, I flung open the garage doors, got my drip pan and a wrench and wiggled under the old Buick. The dirt garage floor was cool, the day was hot, so I just lay there waiting for the oil to drain out. It was relaxing to lay listening to the sounds. Birds chirping, chickens making chicken noises, pigs grunting as they rooted around their pen, windmill creaking as it slowly turned in the breeze, kitchen screendoor slamming, little brother Daryl walking around singing some silly made up song. I dozed off.
    But not for long. First came a scream, followed by a strange crashing, wood splintering sound, irate chickens squawking , screendoor slamming, mom and granny yelling. I sat up, forgetting where I was and cut my forehead open on the underside of the Buick. Blood streaming down my facw, I ran out of the garage in time to see mom and granny escorting a sobbing, terrified Daryl toward the house, no doubt to stuff with milk and cookies. No one noticed my face, smeared with blood. Mom sent our sister Angel out to the back field to get big brother Ike, who was doing some cultivating. Ike's old Ford "A" was sticking out of the side of the chicken house.
    Our garage was large enough to hold dad's buick and one of our tractors. The ground on one side of the garage was steeply sloped down towards the chicken yard and house, down into the front pasture to a creek bottom. Ike always parked his car on that side of the garage. The gas barrel was on the level opposite side. Ike would cramp the front wheels hard towards the uphill and shut it off, left in reverse gear. That way, it couldn't roll anywhere, unless someone named Daryl was pretending to drive, shifted into neutral while turning the wheels the opposite direction and was unable to stomp on the brake when the car started rolling down the steep slope.
    Ike and Angel came putting up on the tractor. We surveyed the damage. Big hole in fence, big hole in chicken house, broken headlights on ford, piece of board sticking out of ford's radiator. Other than that everything was fine.
    Ike sent me in to get my cut head fixed. Mom cleaned my cut while Daryl munched cookies. Granny got gramp's jar of shine to dab on my cut. While they were looking for bandages, I managed to sneak a healthy pull on the jar. Once bandaged, I went out to help Ike.
    Well, we got the car back up by the garage, repaired the fence and was nailing scrap lumber over the hole in the chicken house when dad and gramps rattled up in the truck. Dad wanted to know why we were fixing a big hole in the chicken house. Ike told him what happened. Dad looked at me and said "Damn boy, can't ya watch your lil' brother just once? Ya know how he is". Somehow I knew it was going to be my fault.
    Things got repaired, Ike got his car running again, and Daryl seemed to get all the attention. Even more than Angel. That seemed strange, with her being the only girl.
    But, that's how it was that summer of 1951.
     
    #157
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  8. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Veteran Member
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    What Were Your Childhood Hobbies?
    My New Hobby
    About the age of ten, the year of my first deer hunt, I put aside my beloved western comic books and replaced them with outdoor magazines. Dad and big brother Ike would bring home issues of Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and Sports Afield and others. The more I thumbed through them looking at the pictures, the more I started reading. In one was an article about a guy who sent away for all the free catalogs and pamphlets from the ads in the magazines. A picture showed him sitting at a desk overflowing with printed material. "WOW ! What a great idea and a chance to learn some neat stuff". I thought. So, at my first opportunity I hitched a ride to town with Ike. We parked in front of a place called The Alibi. Ike said meet him here when I was done doing whatever I had to do. Making a bee line over to the post office, I bought about 75 or so post cards. I can't remember what a post card cost in 1950 but it was probably 3 to 5 cents apiece. And, I had enough left over for the new Sports Afield. I couldn't wait to get home and get started on my new hobby. Safely in my room, page by page, I thumbed through that magazine and filled out postcards for whatever free stuff the ads promised. My sister Angel even volunteered to help. The next evening we finished. I took the cards out to the mailbox and put them inside, raising the flag so the mailman would stop and pick them up, in case we got no mail that day.
    Then days of waiting finally started paying off. Mail began to por in, catalogs, outboard motors, hunting dogs, traps, fishing gear etc. My heap of free stuff was growing daily. Dad wanted to know what this was going to cost him. 'Nothing dad, it's all free', I giggled. Well dad was interested in the fishing catalogs and even ordered out of one. Gramps went to the outhouse one winter morning taking the Marlin firearms catalog with him. He sat out there reading it so long that he caught a hellacious cold. When everyone was done drooling over it all, we boxed them up and stowed them away in the attic. I still have a weakness for catalogs.
     
    #158
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  9. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Veteran Member
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    Untitled
    Uncle Earl came to all our family functions. We were the only family he had. Uncle Earl was kin from Dad's side. Not really an uncle but he seemed to like being called uncle. Dad's family disowned uncle Earl long ago. When dad married mon, dad and mom went to uncle Earl's place and personally invited him to the wedding. That's where he first met gramps. They hit it off immediately. Both were grizzly old men, partly gray hair, beard stubbled and tanned faces. Only real difference was, gramps changed his clothes more often.
    Earl's story was, he had married while a young man. Had a job in a machine shop and was trying to provide his wife with the things she desired. Evidently he was not going fast enough. His wife, can't remember her name, left one morning while he was at work. He never saw or heard from her again. Her family lived on the east coast so Earl contacted them. They told him she never wanted to see or hear from a nothing like him again.
    Earl was crushed. He kept working but drank even more. After a few years of drinking and changing jobs often, he got word one day that he was named in the will of some old relative. In short, Earl received a substantial amount of cash and several houses in town. Needless to say, dad's side of the family wanted to claim him as kin, once again. Not a chance, said Earl.
    Earl converted his real estate to cash, bought a farm over in the next county, rented out the land, built a small still, bought a new pickup truck and pretty much kept to himself. He made whiskey, not to sell but for himself. He fished a little, hunted a bit and just did as he pleased. Whenever gramps could get away for awhile he would head for Earl's place for a bit of fishing, sipping, hunting, sipping.
    We called Earl's place "back of beyond". It was located in the next county west of us, on a low maintenance dirt road. His was the only house on that stretch of road so it was not maintained like more traveled roads. His house was huge but run down. No electricity, Earl burned wood or coal for heat and cooking. And that's where gramps supply of fruit jar whiskey came from.
    Thanksgivings and Christmas was always celebrated at our farm. Our family, granny's brother, uncle Cletus, mom's sister aunt Mary and uncle Fred and their two younger kids and uncle Earl were the usual "guests". Often Ike would invite a girl friend to celebrate with us.
    We usually roasted two turkeys, or one turkey and a goose/ducks/pheasant or whatever combination of fowl we could come up with, or sometimes big roast of venison. There would be mashed taters, yams, gravy, green beans, peas, onions, stuffing, home baked wheat bread, pumpkin bread, several assorted casseroles, several pumpkin pies and tons of cookies, washed down with gallons of coffee. After eating, Angel would help with the cleanup, Ike and gal pal would retire to Ike's corner of the upstairs. Sometimes the gals stayed for several days. Daryl would fall asleep on the parlor floor. The rest of the men, including my young self, would take a tour of the barnyard.
    We would all stroll out to the chicken yard and stand there watching the chickens scratch and peck. Gramps and uncle Earl would roll a smoke, then sip from the fruit jars they both were carrying. Then we would move down to the hog lot and look at the pigs. Uncle Fred liked to toss them a few ears of corn. Another smoke, more sipping, then move to the barnyard to look at the cows and Angel's horse. Sometimes Uncle Fred would wander through our family junk yard. He was a mechanic and was always looking for something he could make into something else. Like making lamps out of old auto headlights and such.
    Eventually our tour wound up at the workshop/tool shed building. There was an old iron coal/wood burning pot belly stove out there and dad would stoke it up. Dad kept a bunch of old chairs and stools out there. Then began the round of smoking, sipping and story telling. My favorite time was hearing the men tell of other times, places and people. At some point, dad or gramps would send me into the house for another jar or two of whiskey. I knew the adults just wanted me out while they told the latest dirty jokes. I didn't mind though, it was my chance to sneak a sip or two.
    In the evening the food was reheated and everyone ate their fill again. Sometimes the adults would play cards until the wee hours of the morning. Christmas was about the same except because of the cold and snow we skipped the barnyard tour and went right to the workshop. We didn't usually do much in the way of gifts, Uncle Earl always brought a big wooden box of jars filled with whiskey he made himself. We usually just did one small gift each. Anything we needed we got during the year. That's how it was those years after WW2 and after dad's family disowned us.
     
    #159
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  10. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Smashing read, just caught up :)
     
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