Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

October 20, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:56 am


The other day I asked a friend if we received much rain.  His reply was, “It rained cats and dogs for a while”.  I understood what he meant by that phrase, but upon reflection wondered about its origin.  I had read somewhere that the phrase dates back to the 16th century when houses had thatched roofs.  It seems that the roofs were favorite places for cats and dogs to sleep.  When it came a very hard rain, the animals would fall off or through the thatched roof, thereby it was said that it rained cats and dogs.  However, further research has proven that origin as incorrect.


The fact is that the experts just don’t know the origin of the phrase.  It might have roots in Norse mythology, medieval superstitions, or from the obsolete word catadupe (waterfall), or perhaps dead animals in the streets of Britain being picked up by storm waters.

Research shows that British poet, Henry Vaughan referred to the phrase in 1651 in a collection of poems.  In 1738, Jonathan Swift wrote about the subject in his Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation publication.  However, etymologists – people who study the origins of words – have suggested several mythological and literal explanations of why people say “it’s raining cats and dogs” to describe a heavy downpour.  Here are some of the most popular theories:

  • Odin, the Norse god of storms, was often pictured with dogs and wolves, which were symbols of wind.  Witches, who supposedly rode their brooms during storms, were often pictured with black cats, which became signs of heavy rain for sailors.  Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” may refer to a storm with wind (dogs) and heavy rain (cats).
  • “Cats and dogs” may come from the Greek expression cata doxa, which means “contrary to experience or belief.”  If it is raining cats and dogs, it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard.
  • “Cats and dogs” may be a perversion of the now obsolete word catadupe, which in old English meant “a waterfall”.  So, to say “it’s raining cats and dogs” might be to say “it’s raining waterfalls.”

There are other similes which employ falls of improbable objects as figurative ways of expressing the sensory overload of noise and confusion that can occur during a violent rainstorm.  People have said that it’s raining like pitchforks, hammer handles, and even chicken coops.  It may be that the version with cats and dogs fits into this model, without needing to invoke supernatural beliefs or inadequate drainage.

Well, there you have it.  It appears that on this particular saying one has to make up his/her own mind about which explanation suits your fancy.  If the experts, the etymologists, can’t figure it out, then I am sure I can’t.  But that won’t keep me from using it the next time it “rains cats and dogs”, and will try not to step in a poodle.

October 13, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:49 am



Most fans of professional baseball will agree that Yogi Berra was the greatest catcher in the history of the game.  Berra was born Lawrence Peter Berra in St. Louis, Missouri in 1925.  He dropped out of school after the eighth grade, spending several years in the military. Yogi began his professional baseball career in 1946.  He ended up playing for the New York Yankees for many years as catcher, outfielder, and as manager of the club.  He managed the Houston Astros for a few years in the final years of his career.


Mel Ott once said of Yogi, “He seemed to be doing everything wrong, yet everything came out right.  He stopped everything behind the plate, and hit everything in front it.”  Casey Stengel once quipped, “He’d fall in a sewer and come up with a gold watch.”  Even Hector Lopez got into praising Berra by stating, “Yogi had the fastest bat I ever saw.  He could hit a ball late, one that was already past him, and take it out of the park.  The pitchers were afraid of him because he’d hit anything, so they didn’t know what to throw.  Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn’t even trying to psych them out.”


Berra appeared in 21 World Series games, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.  Given the fact that he was a great baseball player, as well as a manager, he was also famous for his mangled quotes.  He enjoyed bantering with the media and issued forth a number of statements that make one re-think what he had said.  The following is a good list of many of them: *

“All pitchers are liars or crybabies.”

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

“Baseball is ninety percent mental.  The other half is physical.”

“Bill Dickey is learning me his experience.”

“He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

“How can you hit and think at the same time?”

“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”

“I can see how Sandy Koufax won twenty-five games.  What I don’t understand is how he lost five.”

“I don’t know if the naked streakers running across the field were men or women.  They had bags over their heads.”

“If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”

“I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with the Yankees.  And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.”

“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia.  Let them walk to school like I did.”

“In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”

“I never blame myself when I’m not hitting.  I just blame the bat, and if it keeps up, I change bats.  After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?”

“I never said most of the things I said.”

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

“It gets late early out here.”

“I think Little League is wonderful.  It keeps kids out of the house.”

“It’s déjà vu all over again.”

“Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”

“So I’m ugly.  I never saw anyone hit with his face.”

“Take it all with a grin of salt.”

“The game isn’t over until it’s over.”

“The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”

“You should always go to other peoples’ funeral; otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Once his wife, Carmen, asked Yogi where he wanted to be buried because he was from St. Louis, lived in New Jersey, and played ball in New York.  His answer was, “Surprise me.”

It seems that one of his sons, Dale, might be following in his father’s footsteps. He once stated, “You can’t compare me with my father. Our similarities are different.”  Once Yogi was told by a coach to turn his bat around so he could ‘read’ the label and not break the bat.  Yogi’s reply was, “I came up here to hit, not to read.”

So there you have the best collection of baseball related quotation spoken by Yogi Berra and about Yogi Berra.

* Baseball Almanac

October 6, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:47 am



One can only imagine what the Union soldiers must have thought at the sight of a giant wearing a confederate uniform running toward them in the heat of battle.  Henry Clay Thruston was beyond a doubt the tallest man in the Confederate army.  Perhaps at the time he lived he could have been one of the tallest men in the world at 7 feet 7 ½ inches in height.  The average height of the Union soldier was 5 feet 8 inches, and the tallest Union soldier was only 6 feet 10 ½ inches.  This Rebel towered over all the other fighting men like a pine sapling.


Henry was born May 4, 1830 in Greenville, S.C.  However soon after his birth his family moved to Missouri where he spent his early years.  In 1850 Henry married a distant cousin, Mary Thruston, and they had four children.

When the civil war broke out, Henry joined the Confederate Army, serving as a private under Col. John Q. Burbridge in the 4th Missouri Calvary.  Thruston survived the war hostilities with only a couple of relatively minor wounds.  He became a prisoner of war late in the conflict, but did not spend long in confinement, being paroled in June of 1865.

After the war, Thruston reunited with his family in Missouri then migrated to Texas, stopping when he got to Titus County.  He purchased 100 acres of land east of Mount Vernon, Texas, and spent most of the rest of his life there.

For many years following the Civil War, he spent most of his time traveling with a circus, and was always billed in these side shows as being “The World’s Tallest Man”.  In order to accent his height, he wore a tall beaver hat, high-top boots, and a long coat.  This made him look ten feet tall.  In those days, one of the big events of a circus coming to town was the parade through the downtown.  When the circus was in any of the Confederate states, he would always walk in the lead of the parade carrying a large Confederate flag over his shoulder, much like a human flag pole.

However, if the circus was performing in a Union state, he would usually lead the parade dressed as Uncle Sam, and carrying both the Union and Confederate flags.

Judge R. T. Wilkinson, of Mt. Vernon, was one of Thruston’s closest friends, and he said that Thruston was a vain old fellow, and proud of his height.  He was always willing and ready to recount events of the Civil War and of his life.  The Judge said that his hands were as big as hams, and his feet were so large that he had to have his shoes specially made, as well as his clothes.

He rode horseback quite a bit and when he was riding a smaller horse, his knees were usually pulled up as high as the horse’s back in order that his feet would not drag the ground.  He had a buggy specially built for him with the seat built high up in order that he could ride more comfortably.  In fact, Judge Wilkinson said that the old fellow always took great pains to call attention to his great height.

On Friday, July 2, 1909, Thruston sat down to supper with his son, Edward, his daughter-in-law and their son.  Mrs. Thruston told him that since he had not been feeling very well, he’d better pass on the cabbage.  The big man began to butter a biscuit when he fell back in his chair in heart failure.

Before Thruston could be laid to rest, the local undertaker had to await the arrival by train of a custom-made casket from Texarkana.  Being eight feet long, it could not fit into the hearse with the doors closed.  They buried him in a grave much longer than deep in Mt. Pleasant’s Edwards Cemetery.  His house, which had nine foot ceilings, still stands in Mount Vernon.

The editor of the local newspaper spoke for the whole community when he concluded, “He was our friend and we shall miss his cheering words and hearty handshake.”


Texas Tales – “Tallest Rebel” –  Mike Cox – 2/2/2007

Confederate Veteran Magazine –  December, 1909 issue

September 29, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:13 am



One of the most intriguing artifacts held in the collection of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum is a “mad stone” donated to the Museum in 1978.  The question is, “What is a mad stone, and how was it used?”

In the 1890s, mad stones were widely used in East Texas for the treatment of rabies. These small stones were occasionally found in the stomach of wild animals, especially deer. They were akin to bezoars which consisted of a collection of calcified hair and other debris in the stomach.  The best grade of mad stone came from a white or spotted deer, supposedly working better than a stone from a brown deer.

These little stones came in various shapes and colors, and were believed to have therapeutic properties, as well as spiritual power.  People, often children, bitten by mad dogs, cats, foxes, squirrels, cows, horses, and other animals were brought hundreds of miles to use them.


In East Texas there were “resident” mad stones in Houston, Dallas, Plano, Corsicana, Denison, Kaufman, and a few other towns.  These stones were owned and used by medical doctors, preachers, policemen, as well as private citizens.  The famous Kaufman stone was kept, of all places, at the county treasurer’s office.

One mad stone was described as being small, flat, and of a dark gray color like slate.  Another was irregular in shape, dark brown, and porous.  One of the Georgetown stones was said to be about the size of a small hen egg with one end cut smooth away.  Still another mad stone looked just like a chunk of common coal.

Well into the first part of the 20th century, the only treatment for somebody bitten by a “mad” animal was believed to be the application of a mad stone.  The treatment process was rather simple.  The mad stone was first heated in a container filled with sweet milk.  Then it was applied to the area where the victim had been bitten.  If the stone adhered to the skin, this was a good sign, and recovery was thought possible.  Sometimes the stone would cling to the skin for only a few minutes; in other cases up to six hours.  During this time, the patient would often walk the floor in pain.

When the mad stone did come loose from the skin, it was immediately dropped back into the container of warm milk.  If a slimy, green substance appeared on the surface, it was believed this was the poison that had been extracted from the patient.  If no tell-tale poison was observed, the wound was re-opened, the stone again cleansed in the milk, and the process repeated until the desired results were obtained.

Many rural doctors administered the mad stone treatment as part of their regular medical practice.  Preachers, who owned mad stones, often applied them in an atmosphere of spiritual faith, fervently praying the stone would be used of God to heal the unfortunate person.  Many of the best known mad stones had impressive histories, credited over the years to have been used to save the lives of hundreds of people infected with rabies.mad_stone1

Texas newspapers of the 1890s are filled with detailed accounts of cases where people bitten by rabid animals were apparently “cured” by the application of a mad stone.  However, whether it was actually the stone themselves, or simply the peoples’ faith that gave hope and brought about the recoveries will forever remain a point of conjecture.

As an aside, have you ever wondered where the term “Dog Days” came from?  They were originally called “mad dog days”.  These are the hot summer days of August and September when rabies infection among dogs and other animals was at its highest.  The mad stone practitioners must have really gotten a workout during this time of the year.

As for me, if I was bitten by an animal with rabies, the only way they would ever stick a mad stone on me would be as I was lying on the emergency room table, unconscious, while getting shots in the stomach.  But, back in the day there were few doctors in the territory, and doing anything was better than doing nothing, I suppose.






PO BOX 511


September 15, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:10 am




It was the summer of 1969.  Some remember it as the summer of the miracle Mets, Woodstock, and the astronauts’ first landing on the moon.  But in Ft. Worth, for many it will forever be the summer of the Lake Worth Monster.

It seems that “monsters” come and go.  But mysteries like the Loch Ness  Monster and Big Foot (Sasquatch) have remained with us for many years.

Forty-four years ago, the Lake Worth Monster first reared its no-so-pretty goat-like head and captured the imagination of thousands.  The monster sightings lasted but a few weeks, but the myth, lore, and legend continue to this day.

Greer Island is a small patch of land close to where the West Fork of the Trinity River flows into Lake Worth.  It is heavily shaded by oaks, cedar elms, and cottonwood trees.  The island is home to egrets, owls, and perhaps an alligator or two, and, maybe, just maybe, the Lake Worth Monster.

On the afternoon of July 10, 1969, the Star-Telegram’s front page carried a headline above the fold “Fishy Man-Goat Terrifies Couples Parked at Lake Worth”.  Six terrified residents told police that they were attacked by a thing they described as being half-man, half-goat, and covered with fur and scales.  Ft. Worth police searched in vain for the thing which was reported seen at Lake Worth, near Greer Island.

John Reichart told police that the creature leapt from a tree and landed on his car, and he showed them an eighteen-inch scar down the side of his car as proof.

The next night, the monster, in front of a couple dozen witnesses, was said to have uttered a “pitiful cry” and hurled a tire and rim from a bluff at them. Hundreds of amateur trackers descended on the area with all manner of Remington, Browning, and Colt firearms.

One of the curious who went to Lake Worth that summer was Sallie Ann Clarke, an aspiring writer and private investigator who dropped everything to interview people for what would become her quick-draw and slightly tongue-in-cheek book, The Lake Worth Monster of Greer Island which was published in September of 1969.

Clarke has always regretted the way she wrote her book because after she published it, she saw the monster on three occasions.  “If I’d seen it before I wrote the book it wouldn’t have been semi-fiction.  It would have been like history”, she told the Star Telegram in 1989.  She has the most famous, and perhaps the only photograph ever taken.  It was snapped in October 1969 at 1:15 a.m. near Greer Island.  Both her descriptions and the photo show a large white something, though it doesn’t seem to favor a goat at all.

A few weeks later several ranchers found the bodies of a number of sheep that had been mutilated.  This event added more fuel to the monster fire.  During the next weeks of summer, people saw the creature running through the Johnson grass, found tracks too big for a man, and reported dead sheep and blood.  Then about the time school resumed, perhaps not coincidently, the Lake Worth Monster furor largely disappeared.

In 2005 a reporter at the Star-Telegram received a handwritten letter, with no name and no return address. It read in part, “One weekend, myself and two friends from North Side High School decided to go out to Lake Worth and scare people on the roads where there were always stories of monsters and creatures who would attack parkers.”  The writer claimed to have used an old gorilla suit and tinfoil to make a mask to scare a truckload of girls.  The kids decided to retire their monster to avoid prosecution or being shot.

Still there was no explanation for the mangled sheep, or how a tire could be tossed 500 feet like a Frisbee.  There is no proof that the monster does not exist.  Is he still running loose?  Locals say that if you want to see the monster, or hear it; take a long quiet ride out around Lake Worth some dark, quiet night.  Don’t go alone. It is too scary out there.







PO BOX 511



Cell: 936-275-6986

Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

September 8, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 5:59 am



Sightings of “ghost lights”, luminous, glowing phenomena usually in the shape of an orb, have been reported all over the world.  They appear in various sizes and colors, floating just above the surface of the ground.  Despite research, most “ghost lights” still defy any natural explanation.

The following characteristics are common to “ghost lights”: (1) They appear in rather remote areas; (2) they are very elusive; (3) when approached they usually retreat or disappear; (4) they are sometimes accompanied with a humming or buzzing sound; and (5) they are often associated with a particular physical location where a tragic, untimely death has taken place.

Two of the best known “ghost lights” have long haunted the Lone Star State.  Far out west in the Davis Mountains, the “Marfa Light” has been observed since the 1880s.  In the Big Thicket area of Southeast Texas, the notorious “Ghost Light of Saratoga” has been scaring the wits out of people since the turn of the last century.

The Marfa Lights are visible every clear night between Marfa and Paisano Pass in northeastern Presidio County as one faces the Chianti Mountains.  At times they appear colored as they twinkle in the distance.  They move about, split apart, melt together, disappear, and reappear.  Presidio County residents have watched the lights for over a hundred years.

The first historical record of them is in 1883 when a young cowhand, Robert Reed Ellison, saw a flickering light while he was driving cattle through Paisano Pass.  Puzzled, he was told by other settlers that they often saw the lights, but when they investigated they found no ashes or other evidence. Cowboys herding cattle on the prairies noticed the lights and in the summer of 1919 rode over the mountains looking for the source, but found nothing.  During WW11 pilots training at the nearby Midland Army Air Field outside Marfa looked for the source of the elusive lights from the air, again without success.

Those who have viewed the lights over a long time personify them and insist that they are not only harmless, but friendly.  Mrs. W. T. Giddings, who grew up watching the lights and whose father claimed he was saved from a blizzard when the lights led him to the shelter of a cave, considers the lights to be curious observers, investigating things around them.

Over the years many explanations for the lights have been offered, ranging from an electrostatic discharge, swamp gas, or moonlight shining on veins of mica, to ghosts of conquistadors looking for gold.  The Texas Highway Department has constructed a roadside parking area nine miles east of Marfa on U.S. Highway 90 for motorists to view the curious phenomenon.

In the Big Thicket near Bragg, Texas, we find other paranormal phenomena called the Saratoga Light, or the Bragg Road Ghost Lights.  This mysterious light can be found along Black Creek near the old ghost town of Bragg in eastern Texas.  Viewed on a dirt road that leads into swamp land, this spook light carries the well-known legend of the railway brakeman who was accidentally beheaded by a passing train, and who now searches the area for his head with a gas lantern.

The Big Thicket Ghost Light has been described as starting as a pinpoint of light among the swamp trees that grows to the brightness of a flashlight, then dims and fades away.  Its color has been likened to that of a pumpkin.  Skeptics say that the lights are those of automobiles in the distance, although no real research has ever offered a logical explanation of the light.

Perhaps the most interesting of all the “ghost light” accounts appeared in the Houston Daily Post in 1881.  Near a small farming town south of San Antonio, eyewitnesses reported a “lurid light ascending in a circular shape and in various shades of color for several nights”.  A brave fellow decided to try to catch the light.  He was almost successful in his quest, but the close encounter nearly cost him his life.  Approaching the spot where the “light” was hovering, he foolishly attempted to grab the light with his hands and arms.  His contact left him badly burned, his face and arms scorched by the luminous ball.  And for a time after the incident the newspaper stated that he was “senseless”.


If and when research provides answers to our questions, perhaps science can finally solve the riddle of “ghost lights”.  Until that day, those haunting, bright-burning, spherical visitors that light up the night, causing wonder, fear, and superstition, will surely remain a time-worn mystery.






PO BOX 511



Cell: 936-275-6986

Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

September 1, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:34 am



Unidentified Flying Objects have been around for a long time now, the most notorious of these being the Roswell, New Mexico event.  On July 7, 1947, a UFO crashed northwest of Roswell on a cattle ranch, scattering debris over a wide area.  Several bodies of extraterrestrial beings were reportedly recovered and autopsied.  The event was explained by the military as a weather balloon crash, there were no beings, and thus began the most notable cover up in American history.

The New Mexico event, however, was not the first of its kind.  Some fifty years earlier a UFO crashed in Aurora, Texas but never received much notoriety.  Around 6:00am on April 17, 1897, a cigar-shaped UFO crashed near the small town of Aurora, Texas.  The UFO had been seen flying over Missouri and Arkansas earlier before it crashed.   We must remember that this event happened some five years before the Wright brother’s successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

There were a number of eye witnesses of this UFO crash.  In fact, one of them, S. E. Haydon, wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News on April 19, 1897.  Mr. Haydon reported:  “About six o’clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing through the country.

It was traveling due north, and nearer the earth than ever before. Evidently some of the machinery was out-of-order, for it was traveling at a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and steadily settling toward the earth.  It sailed directly over the public square, and when it reached the north part of town collided with the tower of Judge Proctor’s windmill and went to pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the Judge’s flower garden.

The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one on board, and while his remains are badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.

Mr. T. J. Weems, the United States’ signal service officer at this place, and an authority on astronomy, gives it as his opinion that he was a native of the planet Mars.  Papers found on his person – evidently the record of his travels – are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and can not be deciphered.

The ship was too badly damaged to form any conclusion as to its construction or motive power.  It was built of an unknown metal, resembling somewhat a mixture aluminum and silver, and must have weighed several tons.

The town is full of people today who are viewing the wreck, and gathering samples of the strange metal from the debris.  The pilot’s funeral will take place at noon tomorrow.”

Records indicate that the “pilot” was indeed buried in the Aurora cemetery “with Christian rites”.  Today the cemetery contains a Texas Historical Commission marker mentioning the incident.

Reportedly, wreckage from the crash site was dumped into the well located under the damaged windmill, while some ended up with the alien in the grave.  A large stone was placed at the head of the grave to mark the spot.

Adding to the mystery was the story of Mr. Brawley Oates, who purchased Judge Proctor’s property around 1945.  Oates cleaned out the well in order to use it as a water source, but later developed an extremely severe case of arthritis, which he claimed to be the result of contaminated water from the wreckage dumped into the well.  As a result, Oates sealed up the well with a concrete slab and placed an outbuilding atop the slab in 1957.  The event was eventually forgotten for many years.  In fact there was developed a Hoax theory.

The Hoax Theory is primarily based on historical research performed by Barbara Brammer, a former mayor of Aurora, located thirty miles northwest of Ft. Worth, Texas.  In the months prior to the alleged crash, Aurora had been beset by a series of tragic incidents.  First, the local cotton crop was destroyed by a boll weevil infestation.  Second, a fire on the town’s west side claimed several buildings and lives.  Third, a spotted fever epidemic hit the town, nearly wiping out the remaining citizens and placing the town under quarantine.  Finally, a planned railroad got within 27 miles of Aurora, but never made it into the town.

The theory was that Mr. Haydon was known in the town to be a bit of a jokester, and her conclusion is that Haydon’s article was a last-ditch attempt to keep Aurora alive.

It was not until 1998 that the event was resurrected by Dallas TV station KDFW who aired a lengthy report about the Aurora incident.  The investigation revealed that something had crashed in 1897, but could find no evidence of extraterrestrial life or technology.

In 2005 UFO Files aired an episode related to this incident titled “Texas’ Roswell”.  They uncovered two new eyewitnesses to the crash. Mary Evans, who was 15 at the time, told of how her parents went to the crash site and the discovery of the alien body.  They refused to allow her to go with them.  Charlie Stephens, who was 10, told how he saw the airship trailing smoke as it headed north toward Aurora. He wanted to go see what had happened, but his father made him finish his chores.  He later went to the site and saw the wreckage from the crash.


In 2008 UFO Hunters aired another documentary regarding the Aurora incident, titled “First Contact”.  This film featured one notable change from the UFO Files story.  Tim Oates, nephew of Brawley Oates and the now-owner of the property with the sealed well where the UFO wreckage was purportedly buried, allowed the investigators to unseal the well in order to examine it for possible debris.

Water was taken from the well and tested normal except for large amounts of aluminum present.  The well had no significant contents, as any large pieces of metal had been removed from the well by a past owner of the  property.  Further, the remains of a windmill base were found near the well site as earlier reported by witnesses.  In addition, the Aurora Cemetery was again examined.  Although the cemetery association refused exhumation of the body, an unmarked grave was found in the area near other 1890’s graves. However, the condition of the grave was badly deteriorated, and radar could not conclusively prove what type of remains existed.

Although the Aurora UFO event was never commercialized as was the Roswell event, there still remain questions as to exactly what happened over 116 years ago in the tiny town.  Today, in the town of 1,044 people, about half believe that a real UFO crashed and an alien was buried there, and half believe the event was one huge hoax.  What do you believe?

August 25, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:18 am

Have you ever been told by your spouse that “…you must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed today.”? I think we all know what that expression means, don’t we?

After a vacation or a break from school, it can be tough to get back into your usual daily routine. If you get used to sleeping late, getting up early for work or school might make you feel more tired and irritable than usual. So, if you are grumpy and irritable in the morning people refer to that mood as “getting up on the wrong side of the bed.” This brings up a couple of questions you might not have thought about – does a bed have a wrong or right side, and which side makes one irritable?

Some people argue that on Mondays there is no “right” side of the bed. Where did this saying come from? It is an “idiom”, and the English language is replete with them, most from ancient days. Research does not reveal how the saying “the wrong side of the bed” came about. However, several theories exist.

For example, in the late 19th century, E. Cobham Brewer published Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. He claimed that the saying came about as the result of an old superstition that it was unlucky to get out of bed with your left leg first. This might have arisen from an old superstition that it was bad luck to put on your left shoe first.

It appears that the superstition dates back to ancient Rome where many Romans, including Augustus Caesar, were careful always to get out of bed on the right side. This fit with other superstitions of the time that held that the left side was unlucky.

Others believe that this idiom, like several others that involve the phrase “the wrong side”, merely reflects the fact that there are positive and negative aspects of any situation. Some people believe that when you get up in the morning, you can choose to have a good day or you can let stress and worries get the best of you.

But, is it possible that there’s actually a right and a wrong side of the bed? Some people think that there is. For example, some sleep scientists rely on psychology to conclude that the left side of the bed is right, and the right side of the bed is wrong. They know that the left side of the brain controls logic and rational thought, while the right side of the brain controls emotion and imagination. If you get out of bed on the left side, they believe that you may focus your energy on logic and stay away from volatile emotions.

Experts in Feng Shui – the ancient Chinese practice of placing items in certain positions to be in harmony with their environment – also believe that it is best to get out of bed on the left side. They believe this because Feng Shui associates the left side of the bed with family, health, money, and power.

All express the idea that there are good and bad aspects of any situation. A well-known American example, the wrong side of the tracks, is the only one that seems to be based in a real, physical location.

So, what do you think? Are there a right and a wrong side of the bed? Whatever you believe, one thing is true: even if you get up on the wrong side of the bed, you can try your hardest to turn a frown upside down and make the most of your day.

August 18, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:36 am



They have just about disappeared from the scene, but at one time every household had one or more of them.  In the days before indoor plumbing, homes had water wells located near the back porch of the home.  Drinking water was a bucket of clear, cool, well water freshly drawn by a bucket from the well.

My grandfather, Felix, never had indoor plumbing in his home at the crest of Murphy Hill.  I still recall the back yard well, and the bucket of fresh water on a shelf located on the back porch.  A utensil was needed to drink water from the  bucket, and that utensil was a dipper.  It resembled a small cup with a long handle.  The dipper usually hung on a nail beside the water bucket.


Everyone in the home drank from that dipper and, strangely, no one ever seemed to get ill from this practice.  My grandfather chewed tobacco, and my grandmother, Mary, occasionally dipped snuff, but that never stopped me from dipping a gulp of fresh water from the bucket.  As I recall, the dipper was never covered or protected from flies or ants.

Dippers were usually made of tin, though earlier versions were hollowed out dried gourds.  The better off folk might afford one made of copper or enameled paint.  But, they were a necessity back in the olden days.  In fact, they were so important then that a story was written about a little girl and her dipper.  It was titled *The Legend of The Dipper:

“There was once a little girl who had a dear mother, and they lived alone in a little house in the woods.  They were always very happy, but one day the mother grew so ill that it seemed as if she could never be strong and well again.  “I must have a drink of clear, cold, water,” she cried as she lay in bed, so weak and suffering from thirst.

It was a dark night, and there was no one near to ask for water, so the little girl took her tin dipper and started out alone to the spring to bring her mother a drink.  She went a long way through the woods, and she ran so that she grew very tired, being such a tiny girl; but she filled her tin dipper at the spring and started home.

Sometimes the water spilled, because it was not easy to carry, and sometimes the little girl stumbled over the stones in the dark road.  All at once she felt a warm touch upon her hand, and she stopped.  It was a little dog that had been following her, for he, too, was nearly dying of thirst, and he had touched her hand with his hot tongue.
The little girl looked at her dipper.  There was only a very little water left in it, but she poured a few drops into her hand and let the thirsty dog lap them.  He seemed as refreshed as if he had been to the river to drink.  And a wonderful thing happened to the tin dipper – although the little girl did not see.  It was changed into a silver dipper, with more water in it than before.

The little girl started on again, hurrying very fast, for she remembered how much her mother needed her, but she had not gone very far when she met a stranger in the road.  He was tall, and wore shining garments, and his eyes looked down with a wonderful smile into the little girl’s face.  He reached out his hand for the dipper, and he begged for a drink of the clear, cold water.

Now, the little girl thought how her mother had told her that she should be always kind to a stranger, so she held the water up to his lips.  And very suddenly, as the stranger drank, the silver dipper was changed to a gold dipper – full to the brim with sparkling water.

The girl hurried on, but the road was so very long, and she was so tired that it seemed as if she could never reach home again.  She was weak and faint, and she longed to drink just a few drops of the water, but, no, her mother would need all that was left.  Had she not given some to the thirsty dog and to the stranger?  So she never took a drink herself, but hastened home and carried it to her dear mother.  And then happened the greatest wonder of all!  As soon as the dear mother drank, she became quite well and strong once more; and the gold dipper, as it touched her lips, was changed to a diamond dipper – all shining and blazing with glittering gems!

And then the diamond dipper left her fingers to shine up in the sky, over the house and the woods.  There it shines every night to tell all little children how, once, a child was brave and unselfish, and kind.”

I don’t recall ever seeing one of grandpa’s dippers ever change into anything other than tin.  But who’s to say that old dippers do not end up with the Big Dipper high in the night sky?  Stranger things have happened.

  • Carolyn S. Bailey for The Children’s Hour

August 4, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:52 am


U. S. Highway Route 66 was one of the original highways within the U. S. Highway System.  It was officially established on November 11, 1926.  This famous highway ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and ending at Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles.  The road became even more notable from the television hit show “Route 66” in the 1960s.


Route 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed.  Many mom & pop businesses prospered along the route, including service stations, cafes, and motor courts.

At the time I did not realize that Route 66 was such a famous road, but at the age of ten I traveled from East Texas to San Diego, California with my parents in a 1941 Chevrolet on this highway.  My brother, Richard, graduated from high school in 1945 and immediately joined the Navy.  He was shipped out to San Diego to the naval station there for his two-year stint.  Richard found himself quite ill in the base hospital, and after a call from his commander, my parents felt it necessary to make a hasty trip to California to visit him.  I had never been out of the state at this time, but that was about to change.

Dad drove from East Texas to Amarillo where he connected with Route 66 and headed west.  It was summer and the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees.  Since air conditioning for automobiles had not yet been invented, we traveled mostly at night in an attempt to keep cool.

As we reached the New Mexico line, we were stopped, our brakes inspected, and then ordered to purchase two canvas water bags, fill them with water, and hang them on the front bumper of the car.  Our adventure had begun.


I had never seen sagebrush or a large cactus plant, or as much sand as in New Mexico.  Crossing into Arizona, our car was searched for contraband, that is, any fruit or vegetables.  These items had to be destroyed.  The car trunk was also searched, for what reason I never knew.

Driving through the mountains was an adventure.  On the up grade I noted several places to pull off the road and add water to the radiator.  The engines of that day tended to overheat, thus the water was a necessity for travelers.  On the down grade cars were stopped at various stations, and their brakes were checked to make sure they were not overheated.  If they were too hot, the car was parked until cooling took place.

The road passed through the Painted Desert and near the Grand Canyon. It also neared Meteor Crater in Arizona, but we did not stop to explore.  One night while driving in the mountains outside Tucson the generator on our Chevrolet stopped working.  There was no place to pull off the narrow mountain road, so Dad kept driving and praying that the battery would last just a little longer.  We could see the lights of the city in the distance.  Driving into Tucson Dad stopped at the first motel that we saw, the Owl Motel, to rest and get the car repaired.  I recall the motel quite well as the owner had a large owl in a bird-cage in the office.  I was very interested in this wise old bird as I had never seen one before.  In checking the internet I find that this motel is still in business, though renamed the Owl Lodge at some point.


After several days of driving on the famous highway, we finally arrived at the base hospital.  I was not allowed to visit my brother because I was under the age of twelve, a common rule in those days, so I had to sit in the waiting room thoroughly disgusted.

I noted that there were many Phillips 66 gas stations along Route 66, and there is a good reason.  Phillips Petroleum Company was incorporated on June 13, 1917 by brothers L. E. and Frank Phillips of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  In 1927, Phillips started up its first petroleum refinery in Borger, Texas designed to produce gasoline as an automobile fuel.  On a trip to Oklahoma City the brothers were thinking of names for their new company when Frank noticed that their car was going quite fast. He commented to L.E. “I bet we are going 60 miles per hour.”  L.E. responded, “We are doing 66 miles per hour, brother”.   Then it dawned on them – they were driving 66 miles an hour on route 66 – hence the new name “Phillips 66 Petroleum Company” was adopted in 1930, influenced by the famous highway.

Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments over its lifetime.  It was officially removed from the U. S. Highway System on June 27, 1985 after it had been replaced in its entirety by the new Interstate Highway 40.  As a result, most of the small businesses along the old route 66 have closed down, though many sections of the road have been preserved and are still in use as state highways or incorporated into city streets.

If I had a “bucket list” of things to do, on it would be taking another trip out west driving on as much of Route 66 as possible thereby retracing my journey so many years ago.

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