Harry Loves Benny. OUT in the Woods Part 6

Think I’ll head into town for a few days. I would like to see what is happening with some of my artists friends in the run down section of town.” I could pick up some art supplies and I want to carry along some of the small paintings that I have painted this summer and see what they have to say. “Well you already know what I have to say about the paintings, very nice , so why do you need their input?” Well I know, these paintings are nice and thank you for saying so Harry, but they are painters too and painters should talk with other painters about what they are doing, it helps sometimes. Sure then go ahead and go. It’s not something that I like you to do being exposed to Goon City right when you are getting ready with your studies but if you must you must. Don’t expect too much from them while your there even friends can turn on a person if they don’t understand what you are doing. This will not be good for you. I really should have listened to Harry and stayed put for the rest of the summer, to build up my knowledge, to get that thick skin as he would say. I would like to show you the few paintings that I brought with me to Goon City that day. After I left Harry’s place I put the paintings in storage and there they stayed for years. I destroyed most of the art from that period but have photographs of a few. Sorry I have no idea if any of these paintings even had titles. The only one I remain familiar with is the work with black, gold and white. It concerns visions after eating peyote buttons.

 

I have no idea what the other art was that I carried back to Goon City that day. I had been painting when ever I got the chance and noticed that my work was changing. It was a different direction for me one that I hadn’t explored before. I knew it was one of the road ways that came out of the “lines so high in the sky that no one could see them,” that music that played between the earth and the spheres. Most of them concerned “coming through” or the process of moving between the dimensions, or so I thought. Maybe it was just playing at art as I had no formal education, playing was fun and something to pass the time while one was growing out. Back in childhood I use to play that I was a famous artist, or other times that I had millions of dollars, one of the dream that I had was, big nose me became a fine-looking sexy woman who was married to a very rich man and we collected art, always my fantasies revolved around art. Must have been something in the arts in a past life and I was grabbing at it to return. I had seen art as there was a gallery in the downtown area where artists showed their work. I would peak in the windows and dream that the paintings on the wall were mine. Mine, I had painted them, I was the creator, I was an artist. Or there I was the rich woman in the red dress who had come out of the big black car and now was laughing with the man in the gallery and pointing to the pictures. I use to play just to pass the time when I was going to sleep telling myself stories, building a fantasy life into which I could escape, the poverty and abuse, the aloneness, the scared young boy who wanted to be something else, but had no idea how to go about getting it. “You’re a fucking no good sissy, my father would yell at me, when all the other sons were out there on the ball field hitting and catching balls and running around a baseball diamond. I use to play ball, your cousins all play ball and you, you want to be upstairs making dresses for your sisters dolls. Fuck this when your old enough you better get your ass out of here and don’t come back. You’re a mother fucking ugly girl if I ever did see one.” How I wanted to run right then and there. But where would a ten-year old go?

I packed up my pup tent, my paintings, and food for the journey. (1) I knew Ruthie Hillard would let me camp out back in the woods near her pond during my stay in town. It was nice back there, close to the center of town and  the run down section of town. I knew I couldn’t count on staying in anyone’s studio as I really didn’t know who was in any of the studios now a days. Things changed fast back then, a painter painting one day and the next a thumb out and away you went out to parts unknown. Nobody had much money and when the rent was due a person had to scramble to get what was needed. So off I went all packed up. I looked like a peddler. Harry made me a lunch as I would want to stop off near the mud hole, maybe cool off my feet, eat my lunch and then be on my way. I should arrive in Goon City sometime in the late afternoon and wanted to stop at Mamma Wally’s place. Mamma Wally would still be there as she always said I’ll be here forever, been everywhere else so I might as well stick it out here. “Now be careful crossing the viaduct don’t want you ending up like my uncle Butch.”

What the fuck possessed me to pick one of the hottest days of the summer to walk the 15 miles to Goon City. Blazing hot walking in the sun and the railroad tracks with all the gravel didn’t help either. Not a bit of shade to walk in. Think about the good things on a journey such as this. Look at all the little bubbles of black tar on the wooden ties those are always fun to bend down and break open. Sometimes when you break open a bubble black tar oozes out and sometime its an empty bubble. Fun to look over the empty ones like a small crater in another land. Made sure to bring plenty of water with me as hot as it is out I will need it. I remember when I stayed for a summer in Tucson Arizona and it was 90 at 10AM. Hot as Hades Iva Pierce use to say every morning. Wish I had AC or a pool to jump in but then what good are either of those things? Can’t stay in the pool all day nor just sit home up under the AC. Its hot out, going stay hot out all summer, been hot in this section of the country for longer than anyone around here can remember so might as well just get cleaned up, and go out and face the day. Got to do something or I won’t eat, and anyone can tell that I love to eat. My old boyfriend Hank told me once you live in hell or Alabama long enough you’ll get use to it. Well honey I’ve been living here in Tucson Arizona and I haven’t got use to it.  I just go along with it as the weather is bigger than me and no sense complaining about it as complaining won’t change the weather at all. Those were the days back then. But you know that hot was like the hot that it is out today dry hot, no humidity, dessert hot. No wonder all the weeds and trees are looking like they are going to fade out. Coming up is the Mud Hole, I’ll stop off there and rest awhile. Too bad there are so many bull heads in the water all looking for a nice little worm dick to bite on or I would jump in and take a swim. Don’t care what everyone says that the bullhead will run from noise so make some when swimming. I don’t want to take any chances of one of them latching on to me or giving my working whanger a good sting. No I won’t go out in the pond too far no telling what else might be out and about in the Mud Hole. Never heard of anyone that swam around in the Mud Hole and I am not going to be the first.

Tracks in the summer, long stretches of hot, hot, hot.

Ah the Mud Hole rest and relaxation time for a weary walker. Unloaded my backpack, tent and paintings. Right down at the water’s edge was a nice little sandy area and near that a sitting area out of the sun. Made just for me. My mind wandered, “How many others who walked these tracks came down here to sit and relax, take off their shoes and cool down their feet. How many other walkers took off all their clothes and did some good splashing in the cool water? Someone had been here recently about 4 to 5 days ago as there were the remains of a campfire. Hadn’t rained in a week and if it had the charred wood would be arranged differently, would look differently, and smell differently. Harry taught me how to tell when last a human was in an area. Now this one with a left over campfire was an easy one. Only 6 more miles to go and then I would enter into Goon City. Might as well take off my clothes and stand in the cool water of the Mud Hole. Nobody’s around here and even if they were don’t think they would be too interested in naked me. Maybe a few folks would be and I wish they would come out of the bushes and down by the waterside and say, “Hey, Benny here I am. Want to have a little hanky panky.” Lord knows that I needed some but had promised Harry that I wouldn’t get off on any condition. I promised that I would wait until him and I had our love-making session that time that I had been waiting for which now seems like an eternity. He told me that I couldn’t even get myself off.

The name Mud Hole sounds like it’s a terrible place, a place where a person might sink, down, down, down into the earth. But in real life the Mud Hole was a beautiful large pond surround by all woods on every side and cool fresh spring water. Up in the rock formations on the east side of the pond was a spring that bubbled out of the rocks and ran down into the Mud Hole. Don’t think that Moses had been in these parts unless the world had turned itself around and everything that was over there is now over here. Now that would be something. Standing in the wilderness where old Moses and his people wandered about. Ah come on Benny now you’re stretching the story get back on topic please as I just may get mad and blow you off this blog. You know full well we don’t like that story of the thieving of the land of Canaan by the tribes of Israel. The Mud Hole’s run off went down the west side and flowed through the woods and met up with Flat Brook. Now that was a swimming hole. When in the days of old they build the viaduct and a tunnel for the water of Flat Brook to run through it a large, deep swimming hole was created. Some of the braver kids would jump off the sides of the viaduct into the pond. It was a swimming hole where the boys brought there girls on a hot summer day and convinced them that what they needed most in the world at that time was a naked swim in the cold water of Flat Brook. The boys must have been crazy as that cold water would shrink a dick faster than you could count to three. Sure the boys started big and hard while watching their girl disrobe but after being in that water little baby Dickie hung between any young Joe’s leg. Old man Bates told us that there were several springs that came up into the mud hole and if you did dare to take a swim that you would feel the cold water in some spots.

Let me go out just far enough to sit down in the water and splash some all over me. That will cool me down for a little while at least while I am splashing around. The Bullheads wouldn’t have any eggs this time of the year and anyway this area is too sandy and open and not to their liking if it was nesting time.(2) I’m not really sure about the bottom and how far out one would have to go before they would really fall in and have to splash around for dear life and get back to where you feet have a firm footing. Over the years all of us kids had heard stories about the Mud Hole and why we shouldn’t swim in there, why we shouldn’t skate on the ice and how if Mr. Johansen caught you fooling around on his side of the Mud Hole he would shoot his bb gun at you. He liked to come down there and catch some Bullheads. Always said that the Bulls were such good eating and that they were free for the catching right in his back yard. After catching a mess of Bulls Mr. Johansen would bring them into town and set up his truck on Main Street near the hardware store and sell the fish out of a cooler. He would run out of the fine fillets within the hour. So many people liked to dine on freshly caught Bullhead in Goon City that Bullhead became its nickname and the Goon City Ratcat team’s name was changed to the Bullhead Daggers. Mr. Johansen did all the work for the customers. He had those nice Bullheads all dressed and ready to go. Just bring them home add a little cornmeal, salt and pepper to taste, fry these up in a pan until the fillets are flaky remove from the pan and eat. Yummy if you like to eat Bullheads. Now you can also can, pickle or smoke them too. Well lots of folks did and Mr. Johansen made quite a good living when he came into town every Friday. “I like this type of work to make a living ,” he said. I just go out to the Mud Hole set some nasty stinky bait on the hook plop it in the water and soon I will have a Bull Head pulling on the hook. Those fish are always swallowing the hook so I make sure that I bring extra. So there something free to sell and make some money on. Just an investment of my time and I don’t even consider it that as I love to hang out on the banks of the Mud Hole and fish. I go there every Thursday in the afternoon and stay through the evening. I always pack a nice dinner to bring with me. When it gets dark those suckers really like to feed. I’ve seen some strange things some days too. Why one day I saw this bearded naked man sitting in the water splashing around like he was a coo coo 3-year-old. Didn’t go for a swim just sat there splashing. I didn’t yell out at him but watch from way on the other side. No telling what he may do if I startled him. He stayed over on the other side so I didn’t care. His splashing like a wild man won’t scare off the fish over here where I am fishing and maybe he was helping to scare the fish over to me. I’d be scared if I was a Bull Head of such a racket and a naked hairy man sitting in my pond, splashing around like there’s no tomorrow.

Two Hobos on the tracks, walking toward Goon City.

“Guess he is one of the hobos who walk the tracks. Here come two now. Keep walking guys, and right before the Bishop Cut you’ll find a sign of a cat and an arrow. (3) That will direct you over to Miss Addy Simpsons house. She gives out some good meals to men like you. She might want you to chop some wood or milk her cow, maybe pick a few vegetables but she will cook you up some good grub. Will pack you a lunch for the next day too. The best part is you don’t have to tell her a pitiful story. Nope she will hush you and say, I got so many stories of my own, I was the only one here on this farm after my husband died, poor old me on this farm alone. No one to help me with all the work that I had to do each day in and day out. Oh mister won’t you chop me a pile of wood and stack it over there in the shed near the house. Got to get ready for the winter and that’s hard when I have a back ache and no one to help me. Sure enough most men would start sobbing over her stories and help out around the place. If it was getting near dark she would say, Do you gentlemen wish to sleep in the barn tonight? Just don’t smoke any cigars in there and don’t make too much noise and scare the cows. I depend on their milk each and every morning. Now every one of us men would help a lady in distress as Miss Addy Simpson was. She got the upper hand right away and to let any hobo reading this in on a little secret she had a shotgun near the door and knew how to use it. Any trouble she had no problem bringing out the six gauge and firing away. Firing away enough to scare the bejesus out of any hobo and he would grab his pack and get out of there. So if you act like a gentleman Miss Simpson would feed you, let you bed down in her barn, she would provide you with a big wash tub if you wanted to wash out your clothing and something to put on while your clothing was drying and even let you take a bath behind the shed where she had rigged up a shower for such purposes. Take a good rest she would say.

After awhile she got married again and her new husband Mort would come out to our little hobo encampment and talk and talk. He got the men to tell him stories of on the road. He published his stories in the Penny Press hoping to make the life of a hobo on the tracks through Goon City and on to Middletown easier. Of course mean old Mr. Bishop protested to the Penny Press’s editor who told him to take a hike. Folks around here like the stories that Morton writes and some tell me that they wait all week for the next one to come out. Miss Simpson liked to help people in need as she grew up poor but then had the good luck of marrying Henry Simpson who made his money being a supervisor with the Airline Express. She married again after Mr. Simpson died and her new husband was as nice as she was. But anyone who knew the couple knew that she wore the pants in the family. Well, after all it is my house and my money that he married into. I’ll even keep my name, the name of my dear first husband as it suits me just fine and all the folks around here know me by that name.

Maybe I should just camp out up in the rocks near the spring. I could stay here over night and then get on the tracks when it is cooler in the morning. I really don’t have to hit Goon City today as there really is no schedule on when I should get into Good City. Its nice here in the woods but I only have a lunch to eat and nothing for in the morning so I had better keep going. No telling whats in these parts anyway and I am not prepared to fight off things unseen and things that go bump in the dark. Harry said those types hung out around a good water source. They knew a traveler would always stop off there and just maybe the unknowns could get a little something in just for fun and games. The unknowns had a very different idea of fun and games, not at all like you and me.

Bishops Cut 3 more miles and then Goon City.

So how about a song. We all like songs those of us who read these stories. One of our favorite songs of all time is “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” The line we clap over is, “Where they hung the jerk who invented work,” say just how any of us might feel after being chased away from the Bishop’s house by growling barking dogs. Or those of us who work for peanuts while he makes a bundle can sing it twice. See note (3).

 

 

The Big Rock Candy Mountain as performed by Harry McClintock

About a mile or two before the Bishop Cuts and a good half a mile before Miss Simpson’s place was a path that everyone who ever walked the tracks enjoyed. No one knew who made the path through the woods along the tracks. It was the cooling down path. Someone sometime had built a few wooden benches along the path so the wanders, hobos, and those who walked the tracks could sit down and rest. Gadpouch brook ran along the path, and was a great place to catch a nice fish for one’s dinner.

One of the beautiful areas along the path.

A large stone tunnel built many days gone by greeted each walker. It was cool in the tunnel and many a person took off all the clothes and sat around to cool down. Good place to escape a rain storm as long as a person stayed way up out-of-the-way of the stream. There was a long platform made from rock that ran the length of the tunnel where folks could sit and watch the water rise, hoping and praying that the water didn’t rise up over your head. Hobo Jake according to Harry always said, “Been in many a storm sheltering in the tunnel and I never saw the water rise up that high. Folks who built the tunnel knew what they were doing.” Use the ladder that is hung on the pegs near the opening of the tunnel, climb right up to the platform and take a good cool snooze. Out of the rain, out of the heat, just the place for anyone of us to be.

The tunnel

If you walked some up through the woods you would find Hansen Clarks place. It a tumbled down mess now but the Clarks had lived there for many years. I went back down to Goon City this past week and took a walk out to the tunnel and to the Clarks old place. The woods have really changed in the past 40 + years. The trees have really grown now and the woods are dark.

Mrs Clark was a Barton and when she fell in love with Hansen Clark her parents more or less disowned her. You know those Barton’s, came over here as indentured servants built up a factory and made a lot of money so they thought they were the biggest and best folks in town. Of course it was off the backs of the workers as it always is. Pay the people a few cents a week, be a mean old boss, scare folks and make sure you let them know, “you quit me or give me any trouble you’ll never work in this town again.” So they had the working folks by their tits and balls. A few squeezes and back in line. Of course back then there was the matter of the folks being brought up polite and being good little sheep, do what authority says you should do, bow down to the man, stay in line. Small towns were like that. Nobody wanted to get a reputation of being a trouble maker, or a person that wouldn’t go along with the program. Old mother Barton told her, “Mary you know as well as we do those Clarks are no good. They been running their homemade booze for years even after the fact of the ending of prohibition. They just kept it up. We know they have put aside a pretty penny from their business but you wouldn’t know it the way they look. One big mess the whole lot of them.” No Barton should mingle with them let alone marry one of them. Nope Mary you go disobeying me and its over, you’ll be one of those Clarks and can forget being a Barton. Now your father and I know your our only daughter but so be it. You will be cut out of your inheritance as quick as we can get downtown to the lawyer. Your father will leave everything to his brother Claude. So you have a choice to make and make it soon.

“But Ma, if you take one of them and move them over to here and leave the rest over there, there is a good chance of cleaning that one up and making a presentable person outa him. That’s what I plan on doing with Hansen. He is kind and very gentle with animals. Why just the other day an old possum got itself tangled in Papa Clarks fishing net and along came Hansen to the rescue. Now most men would have knocked the Possum over the head and ate it for dinner but not Hansen. He’s a good man and if I separate him from the rest of the brood I will have a man who is kind, clean and gentle and likes to work every day. Couldn’t ask for any more. Besides I don’t give a hoot about who is who in this little town and what they think. He is no Hooch runner but goes into the factory and makes bells. What a nice job to do. Make bells. Such a joyful noise bells make when they aren’t ringing out and counting that someone has died. Then men take off their hats and listen to the slow bongs, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong. So that is 9 bongs, bet its Herman Muller. He’s been sick for a year or so. Now wait, the next set of bongs will tell us how old the man was that died. Eight slow bongs so he was 80, yeap that was Herman. God rest his soul. Better tell Bernice to make up a nice dish of something and bring over to his widow Sara. So all in all Ma I find Hansen Clark to be a fine gentleman and we are going to tie the knot even if no one likes it. He’s got some property that was his grandpa’s out near Addy Simpson’s place and plans on building us a house.” With no children and no one to inherit the property it fell into disrepair. Who owns it today, no one knows for sure. There are no Clarks who could claim the land and if they did couldn’t pay the taxes. Bernice Sullivan believes that when the times go really tough all the Clarks high tailed it back up to Maine. Of course if a Barton came along they would claim the land as they were the type of folks who always wanted more. That old lady Amelia Barton why she has so much money stashed away that it could rain until kingdom come and she would still have enough to get past there to the other side and come out on top. You know how tight she is, well listen to this story Uncle Jake was told. Uncle Jake saw her one day picking up redeemable cans near the grocery store. She told him that she saved cans and bottles for her cousin Sally whose daughter had died, was buried and now Sally had to finish paying off the funeral home so she gave the cans and bottles to her. Yeap, that’s the Bartons alright. Tight as a worms asshole. Gee I wonder why she or her brother hadn’t stepped up and claimed the land? What for anyway, it was way out in the woods, taxable and most likely been taken by the town for taxes. Maybe the land will become a part of the walking trail now the train no longer comes through here.

Benny’s grandmother had told him about Hansen and Mary Clark. Hansen was a friend of Benny’s grandfathers, and in his spare time and to make an extra buck he helped to lay out all the sidewalks in the old center of Good City. He was especially good at making the type of side-walk that looked like golden waffles, had a knack for laying down the large press, knew just when the cement was dry enough and could pull it up and not leave a trace of, ‘”I was here making this sidewalk.” Each waffle stood there on its own and more than one person out walking over this sidewalk experience their stomach growling and their brain saying, “Some waffles with maple syrup would be so nice right about now.” Years later Jeepy did an art piece out of the waffle side-walk by pouring maple syrup over a small section and watching for ants to come along.”

What was left of the Hansen and Mary Clarks house. A very large section near the back of the house has fallen down.

Tansy in the field before the path to the Clark’s House.

Harry told me, While on your way stopped off to the field before the path to the Clarks House and pick Clara Palmer a bag or two of Tansy. She can never get enough of it around in her parts. Sure years ago when she was much younger than today she could walk down to the field near Gadpouch Creek and pick to her heart’s content. So bring her some. You can stop off at her house and then get right back on the tracks to Goon City. She isn’t far outside of town and you know that you could go down to the run-down section of town the back way instead of continuing on the tracks. “I don’t know about that Harry as I want to watch from up on the railroad trestle, you know the place where a person can stand, not be seen and watch the whole street. So I’ll drop off the Tansy to Mrs. Palmer and then get back on the tracks. Mrs. Palmer was thrilled to get the Tansy.

I was nearing the downtown trestle where I was going to observe the run-down section of town from, when up from the back of Sid’s supermarket came Bubby. Hey Bubby how you doing. Oh Benny is that you? He looked me over very strange like, almost like I was something that had come out of the dimensions or somewhere else and he didn’t know if he should run, say 10 hail Marys, or just be as polite as he could be for a second or two and the get the hell out of there. Finally after looking me over good he said, ” So have you learned to kill people, drink their blood and suck the marrow from their bones?” What the fuck those words stung, coming from a friend, someone who had sucked my dick and I his, the very person that I gave my studio in the run-down section of town to. “Why I don’t know what you mean by that Bubby, if you mean cause I have been staying out at Harry’s place in the woods this summer you are way off base.” Well I can only say what folks are talking about here in Goon City, and what the hell is this Harry’s place? We all call him Snake Oil and that is his name. He’s a devil’s man and you are becoming one too. You must have been doing something out there in the woods as when I first saw you I really didn’t know what the fuck I was seeing. But now I see it is really you. You looked so different when I first laid eyes on you, weird, like some type of image from my bad LSD trips. Well howdy do to you too. Welcome to Goon City. We parted our ways after I invited him to come down to Mamma Wally’s and view some of my new art. He declined saying he was doing something else. He was headed towards the large “Fuck the World” graffiti, the place where he and I use to get stoned together. Guess he had some grass to smoke. I heard later that they found his body. He had fallen off the smaller railroad trestle and landed right where Turd Brook met Grosses pond. Too bad the end of a promising young artist I do say even if he insulted me when we met that day.

The Run-Down Section of Town begins to get renewed.

They called it urban renewal we called it “the town needs another parking lot, we don’t need any more artist’s run-down studio buildings.” What a large hole the town planners had made by the removal of the old appliance store building. It was right up near the railroad track embankment. Now my old studio stood there alone, the alley gone and all the way back to Turd Brook cleaned up and out and a parking lot for folks who are visiting on the other side of the tracks was in its place. Guess they needed a place to park when any of the folks came to shop but why not knock down a building or too in the other section of town. Always the poor or near poor who get urban renewed. Mamma Wally’s building was still standing, the old opera house, Annie’s, the Purple Cow, Elkins, and the buildings on Walnut Ave. The Purple Cow was the next on the list headed for demolition. The factory was still standing and looked festive with some type of banners hanging out in the front. Some art group had come around and brought the factory and turned part of it into an art center. Mamma told me everyone knew that was the start of “There goes the neighborhood,” Soon the chic chic’s would come around and buy up the old buildings and turn them into million dollar lofts. Soon the poor, the near poor, the working poor, the young artists and those who didn’t fit would be pushed out and where would they land? Nobody knows as there wasn’t really any place for them to go. Unless of course they moved out-of-town over to Middletown. That’s just what the urban renews wanted and that is what they finally got in years to come.

Sonny, Mary Flint, Bonnie and Mamma Wally sat looking at my new painting. “So,” said Sonny, “are you going to kill people through your paintings? We heard you’ve gotten all weird now since you’ve been out in the woods living with that Snake Oil and you are producing magic in your paintings, and you are becoming just as evil as he is.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Where did Sonny who I had known for years, who had lived with me when he had no other place to go one winter, who I had worked with, taken drugs with, and slept with ever get such an idea. “Why are you saying that to me?, I asked him. He couldn’t answer but just got up from the table and walked away.” Mamma Wally said, “I think that their stupidly is surfacing with all this talk of witchcraft and you painting evil. Can you actually rid the world of folks that you feel should be taken care of with art?” I don’t know the answer to that and I am sure these folks here don’t. I have heard of art having all sorts of effects on people causing them to swoon and faint and get sick, maybe beauty does that as it usually happens with old masters such as a Caravaggio or other things of beauty in Italy. So maybe art can have some type of other worldly effect on folks. (5) “Or you know, maybe it just folks who like to make up stories when they have nothing else to do.”

I remember once I was standing in front of a Robert Rauschenberg in some gallery show, now this was many years ago, and I was moved into a trance like state. The work that I was viewing was some pieces made of cardboard. Now I had been experimenting with using cardboard and string and here was this artist, that everyone knew doing the same thing. Of course people would say I was copying him even if I wasn’t as he was famous and out to grab all things to make art with. He was nothing but a big fucking closer of doors. Well in the trance I wanted to wreck a few things and I suddenly was awaken by screaming in the gallery. A young woman on the other side of the room had picked up a door sculpture and threw it to the floor smashing all the parts to it. “He’s a thieving motherfucker, he stole this shit from my art show.” So yes maybe an artist can influence folks to act, maybe their art or some artists minds can cause all sorts of turmoil, maybe some folks believe this to be true. (6) So I don’t know. It all depends on how you feel and what you think you are doing.

One thing I do know is that after that reception in Good City by folks who had been my friends through thick and thin I had terrible dreams, and every time I set paint, chalk, or pen to paper awful thoughts of murder, disease, turmoil would enter my head. I couldn’t do my art for many years because of it. Once or twice some of the visions that I had, came true and that set me back reeling for years. After 40 + years I am still leery of doing any type of visual art and have destroyed so much of my art because of these things that entered my mind so many years ago and still have the ability to creep me out and enter in when it is the least expected. Why would people like former friends have such an influence to cause an artist to destroy thousands of drawings, and paintings? Did these people really mean all that much to me. When I began talking about a trip to Goon City Harry had tried to convince me otherwise. Its going to set you back he said. But I didn’t listen thought I knew more, should have said, well my teacher has just told me not to do something, so I won’t. But me no, I want to do it anyway, so I will. A fool, a young fool, a fool that most teachers would throw up their hands and say, “I am done with you, foolish boy.”

I knew that I had better return to the woods as quickly as possible. Goon City had no room for me any more and I had to learn that I had no room for it. I got some food and a few other items at Sid’s Market and headed back to the tracks. I would have to walk fast if I wanted to get a camp set up by the Mud Hole for the night. I quickly decided in my mind that the folks out here, the here and now living flesh folks were far more dangerous than those that came out and went bump in the night. I cried as I walked for that was all I could do.

Notes:

(1) Some folks probably don’t know what a pup tent is well here is a picture of one I found just for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pup tent is small enough to fold up and tie on my knapsack. Easy to put up with just enough room for me and my few supplies. Course the pup tent wasn’t big enough to do any entertaining unless of course you wanted the tent to fall in on top of you. No better if any hanky panky was to go on to do it outside under the stars and moon. Naked in the moon light is a beautiful thing.

(2). Biology.com has this to say about Bullheads: Bullheads mate in the spring, seeking out shallow streams and weedy marginal shallows in which to lay their eggs. Once hatched the young fish stay under cover, feeding for the most part on zooplankton and minute insects. Later they feed off live and dead fish, or animal flesh.

From Fishsource we add this: Bullheads (icatalurus melas) are small bottom-feeders able to withstand the most extreme muddy, polluted, and dry lake conditions. In very oxygen-deprived bodies of water, bullheads will surface and breathe the direct air. Bullheads usually weigh less than three pounds, but the largest known bullhead weighed over eight pounds.
In the spring, bullheads lay their eggs beneath bottom debris or in small depressions along the floor. When the fry hatch, bullhead parents protect the young and return the exploring fry back to the nest until the young reach about an inch in length.
Bullheads scavenge along the bottom, eating plants, crawfish, minnows, insects, worms, and most edible pieces of garbage. A night bullheads actively feed in shallow water and near the surface, but during the day these catfish cluster together and feed in deeper holes and water channels.

(3) Hobo chart of markings.

 

 

 

 

 

There were a lot of these markings once a person got closer to Goon City. They started out near Miss Simpson’s property. When one gets just past the Bishop Cuts there is a sign that warns “This is not a Safe Place.” Junnie Higgins had this to say: “The big old white house up the top of Bishop Hill is where the meanest man in town lived. He would set his dogs on you before you even made it to his lawn. A real bad guy and the trouble with that was he had plenty of money. Could hold a dinner every week for the folks in town and wouldn’t miss a penny. Owned the biggest factory in town and of course paid his workers peanuts too. Never wanted to give anything away. Wouldn’t even give out a turkey to the folks who labored so hard all year for him. Christmas came and folks were always expecting a little something from the bosses well he always was empty-handed. Folks just shrugged their shoulders and said, “We gotta work and there’s not much work around here.” Don’t have but a couple of cars to get out-of-town to find some work but them who can afford the gas getting there and getting home again. Guess we will just have to thank the good lord for a mean stingy boss and let it go at that. He’ll fire a person with a drop of the hat and then what. How many mouths do most of us have to feed. Well there’s, Jenny, Morris, Angelina, Dotty, Joe, and my wife Annie and me that makes 7 of us all trying to get by. I don’t want to hear no hungry kids crying in my house.”. .Junnie Higgins

From Wikipedia.
To cope with the difficulty of hobo life, hobos developed a system of symbols, or a code. Hobos would write this code with chalk or coal to provide directions, information, and warnings to other hobos. Some signs included “turn right here”, “beware of hostile railroad police”, “dangerous dog”, “food available here”, and so on. For instance:
A cross signifies “angel food,” that is, food served to the hobos after a party.
A triangle with hands signifies that the homeowner has a gun.
A horizontal zigzag signifies a barking dog.
A square missing its top line signifies it is safe to camp in that location.
A top hat and a triangle signify wealth.
A spearhead signifies a warning to defend oneself.
A circle with two parallel arrows means to get out fast, as hobos are not welcome in the area
Two interlocked humans signify handcuffs. (i.e. hobos are hauled off to jail).
A Caduceus symbol signifies the house has a medical doctor living in it.
A cross with a smiley face in one of the corners means the doctor at this office will treat hobos for free.
A cat signifies that a kind lady lives here.
A wavy line (signifying water) above an X means fresh water and a campsite.
Three diagonal lines mean it’s not a safe place.
A square with a slanted roof (signifying a house) with an X through it means that the house has already been “burned” or “tricked” by another hobo and is not a trusting house.
Two shovels, signifying work was available (Shovels, because most hobos did manual labor).

Hobo Code HERE.
Another version of the Hobo Code exists as a display in the Steamtown National Historic Site at Scranton, Pennsylvania, operated by the National Park Service.
Check out an excellent info piece, Don’t Grease the Tracks. (all about Hobo’s)

(4) Tansy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you bothered by flies, ants and fleas around your home? Then plant some Tansy around your windows and near your door. Place bunches of Tansy in your windows and no flies will fly about your house. House stinks strew Tansy around on the floor. Want to get rid of worms that have taken up residence in your stomach, than take some Tansy Tea. Joint pain take a bath in Tansy and salt. What to chase away the Colorado Potato bug from potatoes in your garden plant Tansy beside the plants. Tansy also will do a job on Cucumber Beetles, Japanese beetles, Squash bugs and some flying insects. Got gout eat some of Tansy’s root. In the 15th century, Christians began serving Tansy with Lenten meals to commemorate the bitter herbs eaten by the Israelites. Tansy was thought to have the added Lenten benefit of controlling flatulence brought on by days of eating fish, beans, and peas. Lenten Tansy cakes were also superstitiously served to prevent the intestinal worms brought on by eating salted fish. Make a strong tea of Tansy and wash with it if you have scabies or lice. Tansy will tone up the system and soothe the bowels.

Tansy as one of the strewing herbs:
In the early middle ages bathing had declined in England. As people got smellier so the use of fragrant herbs became more popular. They were used in all areas of the house, including kitchens, dining halls and bedrooms. The herbs were laid on the floor along with reeds, rushes or straw, so that pleasant odors would be released when people walked on them. Certain plants would also help keep pests such as fleas at bay. The pleasantly pungent odor of this herb helped to cover-up the odor of spilled foods, pet debris, and unwashed bodies making it one of the more popular medieval strewing herbs.

(5) Stendhal’s syndrome can strike culture vultures gazing at Florence’s Renaissance treasures. Italian doctors warn that trying to see too many artistic and historical artefacts in too short a time can cause dizziness, panic, paranoia and even madness. It is called Stendhal’s syndrome because the 19th-century French novelist is said to have been the first to write about the head-spinning disorientation some tourists experience when they encounter Florentine masterpieces. When Stendhal saw Giotto’s ceiling frescos at Santa Croce, he was overcome. “Life was drained from me,” he wrote in 1817. “I walked with the fear of falling.”
The earliest citation for this phrase was in the fall of 1986 when James O’Reilly’s article titled “Beautiful and unspoiled Indonesia can turn into a trial for travelers” for the Chicago Tribune :
Mary came to Florence from New York to fulfill a dream. She left here after four days, all of them spent in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. The city drove Mary mad. But the 34 year-old school teacher, on her first tour of Europe was not an isolated case. Crowded Florence, cradle of the Renaissance, a city where palaces and monuments submerge the visitor, where each stone has a story, each corner a legend, is literally driving some tourists out of their mind. A team of Italian medical researchers has labeled the temporary amnesia and disorientation of these patients “The Stendhal Syndrome” after the French novelist and writer whose real name was Marie Henri Beyle (1783-1842). For decades, the malaise was known as the tourist disease. Stendhal visiting Florence for the first time in 1817 suffered a mild attack of the madness.
Check out the full report at: http://everything2.com/title/Stendhal+Syndrome

(6) Recently in South Africa Artist Yiull Damaso got in a bit of trouble when he showed a painting of a dead Nelson Mandela undergoing an autopsy. The ANC said,
“The ANC is appalled and strongly condemns in the strongest possible terms the ‘Dead Mandela’ painting,” the party said in a statement.
The ANC called the painting “racist” and criticized the artist for depicting Mandela as dead, saying it was considered an act of witchcraft in African society. But Damaso said he meant no disrespect to the hero of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.” See: Painting of a Dead Nelson Mandela sparks Controversy.