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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Everything In Life I Learned From I LOVE LUCY

When I was growing up we had very little in the way of material things. One luxury that we did have was a television. My love affair with the TV began at a very early age. My sister has an old diary which has a page entry stating  " we went to town today and Judy cried and screamed all the way home because she was afraid she would miss Tarzan. She didn't". The list of shows I would cry and scream over would fill this page. One of my favorites was I Love Lucy. I come from a long line of funny women;but none were as outrageous as Lucy. I struggled with whether I wanted to be like the fiery redhead or swing from a grapevine with a monkey. It was a dilemma.  I would go to the mirror and make faces like those in the above picture, then go to the apple tree and jump from branch to branch. It was about this time that fate set me on my course and I realized I could get folks to laugh. In 1963 the Knoxville Municipal Zoo got their first elephant. His name was Old Diamond and he was a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus bull elephant that was very aggressive and difficult to handle.  They left him after a show in Knoxville. I begged for several months to go to the big city and see him.

 Only in the scary jungles of my Tarzan TV shows had I seen such a behemoth; I imagined the trip daily as I sit glued to the TV watching head hunters.. Then finally, my cousin Pat told me that mom said she could take me to the zoo the coming Saturday.   I was the happiest child in Pittman Center for that moment in time.
 Let me tell you a little about my cousin Patricia. She was 12 years older than me and I thought she was the most sophisticated and beautiful woman on the planet. She had big teased blonde hair, cherry red lipstick and smoked Salem Menthol's.  I was about 7 when we made the journey. I was so excited. The zoo was connected to an area called Chilhowee Park and they had a roller coaster named The Mad Mouse. She bought me cotton candy after the coaster ride( my first and my last coaster ever), blotted my tears and made me promise not to tell mom she had taken me on the rickety old ride.  We then went to see the elephant. Now back in those days there wasn't any type of natural habitat. The animals were behind wire or wood fences. When I saw the 16,000 pound giant, I was both horrified and amazed. Suddenly I realized the most shocking thing...Old Diamond had five legs. I screamed at the top of my lungs "Pat, Pat...he has five legs!"
A roar of laughter erupted from the large crowd gathered to see Old Diamond.  For the life of me, I wasn't sure why they all laughed...but I liked it. So I hollered again "Look Pat, he's five legged"...again hysterical laughter. Pat was momentarily speechless and then she gathered her cool. She took a  long drag off of her Salem Menthol and suggested I take a closer look. Sure , no problem. I had waited a long time to see Old Diamond. The crowd was giggling and watching as I inched closer to the wooden rail fence above the elephant pit. A man hollered " You better look close there little girl, you may never see a five legged elephant again".  He was right.
 About that time, my worn out flip flops lost traction. I cleared the bottom rail and fell rolling, down the hill into the pit with Old Diamond. I had a birds eye view of that fifth leg and realized it was shorter than the others. Screaming and confusion ensued from above as I got up and started backing away. I looked up at Pat and she was white as a ghost and on the verge of tears. I stared up at Old Diamond and he stared back at me.  Now in my young mind, I pictured this would happen:

 However, what I saw were uniformed men running toward us from a building, I'm pretty sure they had poison tipped spears. Diamond just stood there...unphased. I didn't give them a chance to get to me. I was more afraid of them than I was the elephant.  I high tailed it up that embankment like Cheetah. When I got to the fence, Pat along with a couple of men grabbed me and lifted me over. I had lost a shoe in the great fall but was none the wiser on the leg situation. Suddenly everyone laughed and clapped. That was the moment I knew my calling.....
On the way home I got the Birds and Bees 101 and a bribery Chuck Wagon Basket from ReMacs Drive-In if I promised not to tell mom anything about what had happened.
 I loved Pat more than ever.

As the years rolled on my Lucy moments only increased. Way too many to remember so I have picked out some of my favorite memories that I think best convey the Spirit of Lucy.
Several years ago I was riding with my ex husband, who I will refer to as Ricky from this point on, in Pigeon Forge. For those not familiar with our area, Pigeon Forge is a tourist town and is the home of Dollywood.
Needless to say the traffic is horrendous most of the time. Me and Ricky were on our way home when suddenly a car passed us on the Parkway and I saw this:

 A young child behind the wheel of a car, alone driving. I freaked out and immediately dialed 911 to get him stopped before he wrecked. I made Ricky drop back and we followed him until finally a police car pulled in behind him and got him stopped. It made me feel good to know maybe I had saved his life or another persons. Maybe he had ran away and took the car.  We pulled over and watched as the officer talked to the child and then, to my surprise, he got back into his patrol car and left. The kid pulled back onto the road and continued driving. I made Ricky speed up and catch the car. As we got beside him, I was peering like a meerkat and then I looked like this:

In my defense, he should have had this sign on his back window:

Many of my Lucy moments have involved animals in one way or the other.  When I was the Mayor of our community, I organized a Halloween Trick or Treat at City Hall for the lower grades of our elementary school. Now as many of you know I love Halloween and since it was the younger kids I went with a more conservative, non scary costume:

Halloween fell on a weekend so on that Friday  we began the Trick or Treating around 2pm. At that time the school was on the same property as City Hall and the kids just walked over one class at at time to get their candy from me the friendly bovine Mayor, complete with rubber udders. After the kids had finished and went back to school, I went into the meeting room for something and was planning to go home. Suddenly , the City Recorder came in and said " There is a man here to see you about a zoning issue". She had already told him I was in the building, so there was no running like a stampede toward the back forty out the back exit door. I told her to send him in but to prepare him...apparently she didn't. He walked through the door and saw me and I knew he had no idea what the hell was going on. I had hoped it would be a local person I knew, but the poor man was from Ohio and had just bought a house in our community. Rarely do comedic opportunities such as this just fall into your udders.  I never batted a heifer eye. I just extended my hand and introduced myself as I asked him what I could do for him. He mumbled a minute and then began to ask about a zoning ordinance. We sat down and I reached and intentionally adjusted my plastic udders. He watched uncomfortably and continued to ask some general questions about our Town since he and his wife had recently moved to the area. I offered him something to drink- he chose coffee. Of course my next question was "Do you want fresh cream with that"? He quickly said "NO, no thank you". Our conversation continued another twenty uncomfortable minutes with neither of us acknowledging the spotted cow in the room, so to speak. It was difficult to maintain my composure and not crack up. But I just kept saying in my head "What Would Lucy Do"?  He shook my hand again, thanking me for my time and left. I don't think they live here anymore.

Rewind a little to  the wonderful 80's, my daughter attended the same elementary school mentioned above. As I would take her to school we kept seeing a mixed breed black dog hanging out at an abandoned building near the school. Of course my dog loving bones started to ache as I watched the stray stand by the roadside. My daughter said the dog hung around the school and was getting scraps from the lunch room. So I took a bowl and put it at the building and fed her everyday. It wasn't long before we realized the dog was expecting. So from that day we called her Mamma Dog. I noticed other foot prints around her bowl and realized other folks were also giving her dog food.  One day we saw Mamma Dog and she had obviously had her pups. I watched her climb in and out from under the old store building, long abandoned. With in a couple of weeks I could hear the pups whining so I climbed under with a flashlight to be greeted by a growling mamma and several little shining eyes. It was at this time that I became this:

I would save those pups come hell or high water, literally. This area is in a flooding zone and we had been having some high rains. A couple more weeks had passed and I had only heard the pups, I had never seen them out.  The river runs right beside the old building. My daughter and I went to fill the dog bowl in the rain. While we were parked we heard puppies crying from the river bank. A couple were on rocks in the river and the rest were across the stream on the hillside. Damn the high water, we were getting those pups. This stream is usually knee deepish at most areas but in a flash flood it becomes a force of nature not to be reckoned with. We quickly gathered pups, throwing them into the back seat of my car as the water rose. No sign of  Momma Dog.  We headed home with a Volvo full of howling canines. I was surprised at how healthy they looked. They were about 6-8 weeks old, and they were beautiful. Multiple colors and just  wonderful.

My daughter with the pups and our shepherd Gambler

We put up a make shift pen in the yard as Ricky screamed and cursed in Pig Latin and then stomped off to the Tropicana.... I began the task of finding them a home. It was no problem. I was adopting out pups to the left and right. Within a few days I only had one left to find a home for. That particular weekend Ricky and I pulled into the local grocery store to buy a cola. One of my friends uncle runs the store and she was there. I ask her if she knew anyone who would like a puppy. She said no and then told me that someone had stolen all of her uncles prized Australian Herding dog puppies from their farm. They had overnight rentals and they suspected a recent guest may have taken them all....once again, I looked like this:

Oh Shiiiitt........
I managed to hold it together until we got out of the parking lot. My ears were ringing, my heart was pounding and somewhere in the spinning distance I heard Ricky laughing .... I then looked like this:

I stole someones prize pups.......

"Lucy you must do this" declared an angry Ricky when we got home:

But I couldn't, I just could not do it.....

 I cried and snotted and begged him to please make the call for me. Some may wonder how the pups were at the creek. The back of the farm runs to the creek area and I suppose they followed mom....who knows.
I laid on the couch and kicked my feet in a true Lucy tantrum.... I bargained with Ricky that I would never ask to go into show business (dog rescue) again  if he would call for me and 'Splain what had happened.
Finally, after I wore him down, he agreed. I had a pillow over my head crying as I expected the local police at any minute to cart me to the big house. I heard him 'splain how I thought they were strays and I had already given them to families in the area. Fortunately, the forgiveness gods shined on me that day. The owner didn't want to upset children who were attached already to their new puppy and he was relieved his cabin guests hadn't taken them.  I was crushed...I hadn't been back to the building because Momma Dog had been gone since I took the puppy's. Guilt, guilt and more guilt. I knew it was too late for the other pups.....

Once upon a time there was a woman who wanted lap-band weight loss surgery. Finally, she was approved and a date was set for the procedure. Unfortunately, the woman had a flare up of diverticulitis and lost just enough weight to no longer be eligible for surgery. This was a nightmare! There had to be a way...again,

 The old wheels started to turn....she only needed 4 pounds. The hospital told her she would be weighed just before surgery and if she was even 1 pound below the minimum , they would cancel the procedure.
She remembered an episode of Andy Griffith were Barney was about to lose his job due to his weight being too low... the answer for him was a large chain around his neck under the uniform. She called and was told she would be weighed bare feet, in a hospital gown. This was a challenge. But then:

She went to Walmart and bought ankle weights with individual pockets of small sand bags. Then she went and borrowed a VERY large bra...Thank God for big boobed relatives, I was told she exclaimed!  In each side of the bra she sewed a pouch with 2 pounds of sand. I heard she put the bra on in the parking lot just before she entered the hospital. I was later told that after she got into the pre-op area and was weighed she was only 1 pound over the minimum amount. Whew...that is what you call a close one. Just before she was ready to get the IV , she allegedly  made a quick run into the bathroom. I heard she went in a double D and came out a C cup, but no one noticed. Legend says that later that day a suspicious item was found in the Bio-Hazard container.   The end.

You may have heard of Snakes On A Plane but have you heard of a Snake In A Maytag? It was a beautiful October Sunday afternoon and I was getting ready to do some laundry for my daughter and her friend who had just came off of Mt. LeConte from an overnight trip. I was standing sorting clothes dropping them in the washer when I thought..hmm I have never seen that black rubber piece all along the top of the drum....Oh My Gawd its moving...SNAKE!!!!!!!  Now I am an ex Park Ranger, but let me get surprised by a snake, spider or mouse and I am going to scream like a little girl or like Lucy:

I slammed the lid and screamed for the kids to get in there and help. My daughter is worse than me with a snake..her friend manned up and came in to help me. We opened the lid and it was not there. You know what is worse than a snake in the washer? Not knowing where it went..he banged the side of the washer and it shot out and tried to go up the wall. It was a black racer. They are aggressive and stand up and look like Cobras. I screamed to block the door to the laundry room. I knew if it cleared the doorway I would have to commit arson, and I don't wear stripes well. He and I frantically tried to pin it down with the only thing we had a Swiffer Sweeper. My daughter was like jelly standing in the back of the hall mortified. Finally, he said I think I have its head pinned..we looked at each other a minute, and the "you get it, no you get it" began. Since I was the woman of the house (Ricky had long gone to beat his Bongos elsewhere) and he was an invited guest, I knew it fell on me to do the deed. First I want to give you a mental picture. I , of course, was in flannel pajamas. My grey hair piled on my head in a bun. In my house is a center fireplace that you can walk all the way around. I have a screened in porch that locks and I usually keep the front main door open when the weather is pretty .It was a beautiful Fall afternoon in the Smokies. I got a pillow case and worked the long body of the snake into it...I got my hand as close to the Swiffer(head) as possible and we just looked at each other. "How much of the head is under the Swiffer"  I asked . He didn't know for sure. I yelled at Courtney "Go get the front door open" and I heard her sprint from the hallway. "Is it open?" YES.  OK, on 3, let go of the Swiffer.... 1,2, 3eeeeehhhh. Enough of the snake was above my hand for it to turn and look me in the eyes and try to strike my wrist. I screamed like a wild woman and looked like I should be in  this:

I ran screaming for the door, my daughter ran screaming from the door as we passed each other. As soon as I got to the porch I realized the screen was locked. "Oh my Lord Court, you didn't unlock the screen door! Get back here". She yelled no and I had to run back into the house with the snake above my head, it striking, just missing my hand. I lapped the fireplace, Holy Ghost Revival style and she ran the other way around the fireplace to the porch and unlocked the door and opened it wide. I live on a well traveled road and my neighbor was home. Cars were slowing down as I ran screaming into the yard with a snake over my head running for the creek. Why I just didn't drop it sooner I will never know. I didn't kill it.. I don't kill animals of any type if there is an alternative. My daughter and friend were all in tow as I reached the creek and threw him , pillow case and all. But guess what ? Being a racer, I suppose my laps had just warmed him up. He came out of the case, stood up about a third of his body and looked at us all like: Really? You want to play this game? Here he came up the creek bank and started toward us on the lawn.  We screamed and ran back to the house. I had to go to the comfort of the Granny Bed for hours..... being Lucy is not easy!

Where's my heating pad?