The Legend-News

Wednesday, 2008 December 24 : Volume 11, Number 3

No Bits That Won’t Fit

Holy $#!+, It’s Christmas

I have been negligent in my production of The Legend-News. The previous issue was dated July 31, and now there’s only a day until Rudolph drops a load on my roof. He’d better stay clear of the dish antenna, though, or I’ll have reindeer chops for New Year’s Day.

Fortunately, not much has happened during the second half of 2008. Some new guy got elected as President of the United States, and he’ll be replacing that other guy who is currently in that position.

The people who had too much money are now complaining that they don’t have enough; and the people that didn’t have enough are finding that whatever they do have is being repossessed by the people who used to have too much.

Meanwhile, the American leisure class is growing rapidly; a share of General Motors stock is now worth less than a cappucino at Starbucks; the major television networks continue to cancel the programs that are worth watching, and renewing the crap that ceased being interesting after the third episode.

The world celebrated 25 years of No-Man-on-the-Moon; the Pope said “Sorry, Galileo; maybe you were right”, 400 years too late; and people all over the world used the same ol’ excuses to justify killing anyone that they didn’t like.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, y’all!

Chicken Run

Traveler’s Alert: do not loiter behind a flatbed full a’ chickens. You have been warned.

I’ve Got a Secret

I cannot divulge any details, but C.W. McCall may be in the news on January 2, 2009.

And if you’re planning some time off around the Labor Day weekend next year, you might want to keep those dates open.

Must See TV

If you haven’t visited lately, or you don’t watch “NCIS”, then you missed some funny references to C.W. McCall and Smokey and the Bandit.

See the video in the Drive-In Theatre.

Must See DVD

If you missed Bill Fries’ ode to southwestern Colorado, “San Juan Odyssey” — it closed back in ’99 — you can see it again if you’re visiting Ouray. It is being shown nightly at the Main Street Theatre.

And if you would like a DVD of the presentation, you can buy the San Juan Odyssey Silver Anniversary Edition DVD at the Main Street Restaurant & Theatre (970.325.4223) and at the Ouray V&S Variety (970.325.4469) or Buckskin Booksellers (in the Beaumont Hotel) (970.325.4044).

So, What’s News?

The Douglas County Historical Society (Omaha, Nebraska) had a presentation by ad man Galen Lillethorup back in June. Galen talked about (and showed) the 12 “Old Home Bread” commercials that introduced C.W. McCall to the world.

Bill Fries was the Grand Marshal of the 2008 Ouray County (Colorado) Rodeo, held during the Labor Day weekend. And on November 15, he celebrated his 80th birthday.

The Financial Times noted the impact of deregulation on the trucking industry, with frequent mentions of the Rubber Duck (thanks to Greg Lucke for the pointer).

Rumors: an independent filmmaker wants to produce a biography of Bill Fries, if he can get Bill’s participation. And yet another filmmaker thinks that the “Old Home Café” stories are worthy of a spec script.

How About the Critters?

To all of them Crispy Critters and fans of C.W. McCall whose mesages have passed my way this year: Rich Heryford (keeping the CWMcCall Yahoo Group up-to-date), Mike Kelly (Omaha World-Herald), Louise Hutchinson, John Schmoldt (did you get that Convoy Buddy?), Roger Fisher, Dawn Short, Patti DiVita (not an actual Critter, but a great movie maker), Chris Doyle (moved back to Omaha), Scott Jennings (now on the other side of that one Atlantic Ocean), Bob Sandmann (Buddy Holly fanatic), Roz Pugh of Morocco Welding, Gregg Burkhalter, Mary Rice, Justin Evans, Loren Paulson, Greg Lucke, Michelle Nikolay, Van Speers, Daniel East, Antanas Abromaitis, Jude Walko, David Cunningham, Jim Hess, Stephen Johnson, Robert Stanton, and Daniel Ducat.

Did I Say Thousand Island?

I’m not much of a movie reviewer, but there is an independent production that you ought to see. It’s Did I Say Thousand Island?, directed by Patti DiVita. The story is about the wait staff at the restaurant in a ski resort. It has nothing to do with C.W. McCall, or truckers, or Citizens Band radio; but since I’m also the writer of a series of stories called “Old Home Café”, I figured that I ought to do some research about the lives of the people who work in the trade.

Did I Say Thousand Island? is available as a free download. Check it out; and if you like it, buy the DVD ($13.99).

Recycling Department

Old Home Café: The Next Generation

By Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr.

Episode XXVIII: The Night Before Christmas

(Originally published in The Legend-News of 2003 December 24.)

Snow was falling as Jon cleaned the tables that night, preparing to close up the Old Home Café at 10. Tomorrow was Christmas Day, and the Café would be closed, not to reopen until 5 A.M. on the 26th. He yawned as he worked; he’d been at the Café since opening that morning, and he was tired.

Out in the lot sat two 18-wheelers, their engines idling to keep their drivers warm. They’d be gone in a few minutes, hoping to beat the storm that was coming across the Rockies tomorrow. For now the snow in Pisgah was just flurries, sticking to the frozen ground and piling in the corners of the curbs, but the roads were relatively clear.

Jon picked up the mike on the Café’s CB, which was always tuned to Channel 19. The channel was silent now, until Jon hailed the rigs outside. “Hey, drivers. This is the Café. Last call! Do you want some road food?”

“Yeah, a quart of Colombia’s best and a burger sound good,” said one driver. “Ditto on the coffee,” said the other.

“Trudge on in. I’ll get the burger started,” said Jon. “10-10,” he added, clipping the mike back on the unit before going to the kitchen and tossing a couple of beef patties on the griddle. Then he when to the counter and checked the coffee. Not enough for two, he noted, so he started a second pot.

A few minutes later, the drivers walked in and stomped the snow from their boots. “Thanks for the holler,” said one. He was wearing a red NASCAR cap and a blue Carhartt jacket. “Nick Santos, out of Custer, South Dakota,” he said, shaking hands with Jon. The other driver introduced himself as “Chris Knowle, from Denver. Been so long since I’ve been home, I’m not sure where it is.”

“I hope that you get home soon,” said Jon. “I’ve had a few holidays away from home, myself. I was working for Uncle Sam at the time. I’m Jon Bach, proprietor of this fine eating establishment.” The three men shared a smile.

“Overseas?” asked Nick.

“Underseas,” said Jon. “Submarines. Six years in the Navy. I spent a lot of time without seeing the sun.” He checked the progress of the coffee: almost ready. “Your Thermoses, gentlemen? I’ll fill ’em up.”

Jon took the stainless steel containers back to the kitchen, where he first flipped the burgers then washed out the thermoses before pouring a quart of hot C into each. Capping them, he returned them to Nick and Chris. “Thanks,” he heard from both.

“What’s your loads?” asked Jon. “Must be important, if you’re out on Christmas Eve.”

“Canned goods. Vegetables and stuff like that,” said Chris. “I’m hauling the lot to a shelter in Boulder. Picked them up from a charity in St. Joe.”

“And I’ve got a load of donated toys,” said Nick. “Used stuff, mostly, but some new. They’re going to an outfit in Rapid City. They’re giving them to hard-luck kids around town. And I gotta be there by morning,” he said, looking at the weather outside, and hoping that he really wasn’t seeing the snow falling even more quickly.

Jon scooped the burgers off the griddle and wrapped them. “Who gets these?. he asked.

Chris raised his hand. “But I only asked for one,” he said.

“It’s on the house,” said Jon.

“Well, thank you!” said Chris.

Nick rose from his seat. “Sorry to dash, but I’ve gotta go.”

“Me, too,” said Chris. “Or I’ll be late for my Christmas dinner. Jon, it was nice meeting you. Probably catch you again in a few weeks,” he said, shaking hands with Jon. “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that other stuff.”

“Same here,” said Nick. “I don’t get out this way much, but I’ll be sure to stop in again.”

The drivers waved as they stepped outside and walked to their rigs. Jon shut down the coffee maker, pouring what brew remained into his own thermos. He heard the diesel engines roar as the drivers stuck their trannies in gear and headed out. A final greeting came from the CB: “Merry Christmas, Old Home Café!” said Chris. “And to all a good night!” added Nick. Jon grabbed the mike and hollered back, “Merry Christmas to you, too!”

Jon clicked off the CB, turned off the lights, and locked the door. As he walked away from the Café, heading for his house three blocks away, he passed the parking lot. Jon gave the view only a quick glance; but a few steps later he stopped, feeling that something was wrong.

He looked back at the parking lot. There, in the middle of the lot, were two clear spots where the trucks had sat. Those spots were clear of snow, and a light dusting covered the remainder of the lot. But he didn’t see any tire tracks! Neither of the lot’s driveways showed that anyone had driven out of or into the lot, and the snow was not falling quickly enough to obscure any tracks in the two or three minutes since the drivers pulled out. Then where are those trucks?

He heard the sound of a distant engine, and looked toward the west. There was no truck over there; only the red lights from an antenna tower shone through the blowing snow. Then Jon realized that the lights were getting smaller, and they were rising in the sky. For the next minute he watched those lights as they faded into the distance. He thought that he heard bells jingling, but that was ridiculous, he decided.

I need sleep, he thought, as he walked home on that Christmas Eve.

Sing Silent Night
(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)

When the snow falls on Christmas Eve,
And everything’s white
I sit by the window,
And remember another night
When Mama played the organ,
And we turned off all the lights
And we all stood around her
And sang
Silent Night

The organ is quiet now,
And Mama’s gone
The sound of that Christmas Eve
Will live on and on
We sang all the old carols,
The hymns she loved to hear
And she played them over, one by one,
From memory, and by ear

And then she’d find the ancient album,
With its pages turned gold
And the crayon-colored paper star
I made so long ago
But brighter than any star
Was the love in Mama’s eyes
As she said, “Merry Christmas, kids”,
And she kissed us goodnight

And the organ’s quiet now,
And Mama’s gone
But the sound of that Christmas Eve
Will live on and on
The years have gone by now,
Since that last Christmas Eve
But the joy is still with me,
And the love will never leave

When Mama played the organ,
And we turned off all the lights
And we all stood together
And sang the last
Silent Night

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