Jerry Pierce


The Washington, D.C., team in the National Football League has a new nickname.  A lot of hullabaloo about the name change stirred up some interest, but the mascot name itself turned out pretty bland. After being called the Washington Redskins for more than 80 years and the Washington Football Team for two seasons, the team is now named the Commanders. Numerous college and pro teams have eliminated nicknames and mascots over time that were considered undesirable or offensive. Arkansas State dropped its Indians name in 2008 to become the Red Wolves.  It was the Dartmouth Indians until 1974 when the school changed its name to The Big Green. In Major League baseball, the Cleveland Indians adopted the new nickname last year of the Guardians. The Cleveland team in the National Football League has brown and orange uniforms and has long been known as the Cleveland Browns. That name was not inspired by jersey colors but was chosen to honor the franchise’s first coach, Paul Brown. Salt Lake City’s team in the NBA is known as the Utah Jazz. That’s a strange name in a city and state where it’s hard to find anybody playing jazz music. But team owners decided not to change the nickname when the New Orleans Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in 1978. Jazz is a peculiar nickname for a team in Utah, but there are more bizarre nicknames than that. The University of Arkansas-Monticello calls its men’s sports teams the Boll Weevils and its women’s teams the Cotton Blossoms. But first prize for unusual sports nicknames would have to go to Scottsdale Community College in Arizona.  Athletic teams there are named the Fighting Artichokes. When I was growing up, we went to a wooden green ballpark to watch a semi-pro baseball team called the Springhill Sports. We rode our bikes in the ruts of gravel roads to the games.  Most of the players worked part-time at the paper mill and played Big Eight League teams from places like Minden, Homer and Ruston. A friend’s dad invited me to go to Shreveport to watch that town’s team play in its huge ballpark.  I thought at the time it probably looked a lot like Yankee Stadium. Shreveport was in the Texas League with teams from big cities like Fort Worth, Tulsa, San Antonio, and Beaumont. The team from Shreveport with the spick and span uniforms was called the Sports just like the little minor league team in Springhill. Even as a kid, I thought having baseball teams 50 miles apart and both named the Sports showed a serious lack of creativity. Northwestern students were much more imaginative back in 1923 when there was a contest to name the school’s sports teams. A $10 prize was offered for the individual who submitted the nickname that would be chosen by the student body. Two students split the prize, because they both suggested the name Demons. Northwestern’s teams have been the Demons ever since, and it is a unique nickname.  No other university in the country is named just the Demons although Wake Forest is the Demon Deacons, Duke is the Blue Devils and Arizona State is the Sun Devils. A few church-going folks have objected to the name Demons through the decades.  But even most of them agree it is better than some of the other names that were proposed like Sharks, Groundhogs, Cyclops, Professors, Wasps, Bloodhounds, and Cannon Balls. Presidents and athletic directors who get complaints about the Demons nickname occasionally might also remind folks who don’t like it that the school’s sports teams could have been named The Fighting Artichokes.


Cokes and Peanuts

Even now, all these many years after I first tried it, I still like a real Coke with salted peanuts in it.

That burst of sweet and salty flavors is incomparable but not quite as enjoyable as it was in my teenage days when Coca Cola came in green, six-ounce glass bottles.

Those contoured bottles that became collectors’ items were slim at the top and then flared out some before tapering again toward the bottom.

That is a pitifully inadequate description of the old Coca Cola containers which are more appropriately referred to these days as “Coke bottle shaped.”

Cokes were five cents at most places then, and another nickel would get you a small package of Planters peanuts.

Nobody has ever documented where or how that tradition took hold, but all the guys I knew growing up put peanuts in their Coke at one time or another.  I don’t remember seeing any girls do it.

It is a little embarrassing and hard to admit that even at my advanced age, I still get a real Coca Cola every so often instead of my usual caffeine free diet Coke and pour peanuts in it.

The drinks come now in humdrum plastic bottles that seem to stifle the fizz of the salty peanuts a little, but the taste is still reminiscent of the old days and the classic glass bottles.

Producers of Coca Cola nearly lost all of us fans and consumers back in the fifties when somebody in that empire decided to raise the price of the sodas from a nickel to six cents.

Not that the extra one cent would bankrupt anybody, but it was difficult to come up with a penny a lot of times.   Those old Coke machines took only a nickel and penny and didn’t make change.

Coca Colas quickly went up to 10 cents, and people applauded that steep price increase instead of complaining about it.  It was easier to find a dime or two nickels than a nickel and a penny.

And there was more to getting a Coke back then than just enjoying a soft drink or a sweet, salty Coke and peanut combination.

Those iconic green bottles usually had the name of a town embossed on the bottom.  I have never been sure if that signified where the bottles were made or the name of the town where the soft drink was bottled.

But it was always interesting for us to compare the name of the town on our Coke bottles when we finished them.  We were excited by bottles from faraway places like Atlanta or Albuquerque and surprised to see Minden, Shreveport and other nearby towns.

I have no recollection of drinking Cokes from aluminum cans or plastic bottles in my younger years.  Cokes, RC Colas, Orange Crush, Delaware Punch, Dr Pepper, 7 Up and other soft drinks came in glass bottles.

None of them were as distinctive as the six-ounce Coca Cola container, but they were bottles made of glass and not plastic.

My mother started buying Shasta and other sodas like that in big plastic bottles because they were less expensive.  Kids my age avoided them and pushed them off on younger brothers and sisters.

We did drink fountain Cokes from fancy glasses with the Coca Cola emblem on them at Tennyson’s Drug Store.

That venue and those beverages were too sophisticated for us to pour peanuts in the drinks, but we did get them sometimes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make a Coke float.

My mother drastically curtailed my consumption of Cokes by telling me that they caused pimples.  There was nothing worse for a teenager who had trouble getting dates even without facial flaws.


Dangerous Movies

Those Saturday morning, double feature movies at the Webster Theater in Springhill back in the forties and fifties were hazardous to kids’ health and safety.

Not that there was anything nefarious in the movies themselves.    Most of them were about good conquering evil and all that, but the themes and action in the pictures generated some perilous behavior.

Every boy in our neighborhood tried to imitate the feats of the movie characters all week after seeing the films.  Then we would be in the theater the next Saturday to soak up more play-time ideas.

In a western we saw one Saturday, the Durango Kid pursued a bad guy on horseback.  When he caught him, he dove off his horse and knocked the crook out of his saddle and onto the ground.

For days after that, boys pretending to be the Durango Kid chased other guys on gravel roads through our neighborhood on bicycles and jumped on them to dislodge them from their bike seats.

Boys ended up scraped and bloody in those chase scenes, and bicycles were bent and twisted.

Most of the movies were westerns with stars like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy.  We simulated their shootouts and saloon fist fights in the fields and pastures of our little mill village community.

Our cap pistols popped and smoked but never hurt anybody.  We did get a few bumps and bruises in the hand-to-hand combat because we never mastered the art of fake fighting like the movie stars did.

There was an actor in westerns called Lash Larue who used nothing but a bullwhip against even the worst of villains.  He would whip a cigarette out of their mouth or a gun from their hand.

My parents took us to the State Fair in Shreveport one year, and I won a leather bullwhip throwing footballs through a tire.

A few days later when I was practicing Lash Larue moves in my room, I accidentally hit a wall and sent wallpaper flying.  It was exciting, so I put several more slashes in the paper with the whip.

When my dad got in from work, he took the whip and ended the Lash Larue impersonation and withheld my quarter-a-week movie money for what seemed like a long time.

Inspired by the Superman serials at the Saturday movies, nearly all of us pinned a bath towel around our neck as a cape and flew out of trees and off the lower roofs of our houses.

The flights ended abruptly at the ground and left us with sprained ankles and skinned knees.

We would swing from vines and ropes in nearby woods like Tarzan did in some of the movies we saw and competed on those flights to see which of us could make the most realistic jungle call.

The closest we ever came to losing a neighborhood kid in one of those movie reenactments was when a guy tried to dress his younger brother like the Frankenstein monster.

With his body wrapped in white athletic tape from head to toe with just enough slack to shuffle his feet, the boy started to weave and wobble as his brother guided him down the road.

Some older guys finally tore enough tape off his face for him to breathe.  Our parents never let us create another Frankenstein that looked that real.

A few of those Saturday morning shows had big screen heroes kissing girlfriends.  None of us ever had the acting skills or the willing girls  to do that in our neighborhood versions of the movies.


Playing Possum

Regina handles wildlife management at our house, and she let me down in that department not long ago.

It all started one night about bedtime.  When I stepped out of the shower, there was a terrible commotion coming from the garage.

Everything was scattered when I finally got out there.  Stuff that is usually stacked neatly on shelves was strewn across the floor and atop cars with things spilling out of their containers.

Sweaty and visibly flustered, Regina was holding a heavy-duty push broom.  She said a small possum darted out from under her car as she was going to lock the utility room door.

She admonished me for not coming to check on her while she flayed at the possum with the broom and displaced everything in the garage and utility room.

My explanation about taking a shower and not hearing anything didn’t mollify her much, but she seemed optimistic that the possum had left the premises during her attack.

She had hit the button to open the garage doors and had been coercing the intruder to leave by swinging at it with the broom and chasing it with the leaf blower going full blast.

Admitting that she didn’t actually see the possum vacate the garage, Regina said there was no way it would not have seized the opportunity to escape through the open doors.

We were both a little skittish for a few days about going into the garage and utility room, but there were no indications that the possum was still around.

But the possum had apparently been, well, playing possum.

When Regina was away at a book club meeting a few nights later, I came home from the store and went to the utility room to put some beverages in the outside refrigerator.

My hands were full, and I had to put the carton of drinks on the floor to open the refrigerator.  When I did, the possum raised up on its back legs in the trash can

With me bent over to put the drinks down and the possum reared up in the trash can, our faces were just inches apart.

The possum hissed, and I squealed as I sprinted out the utility room door to the yard.

There was a lot of thumping and crashing in the garage and utility room as I got out of there and the possum repositioned itself  for an extended stay at our house.

I texted Regina to inform her of the situation and let her know that I would probably be moving to a hotel.

This whole episode was especially disappointing since Regina had effectively addressed a similar incident a while back.

I was taking the trash out one night when a huge possum started hissing at me from a back yard flower bed.  I rushed into the house to get my .410 shotgun.

When Regina discovered what was going on, she walked into the yard in her shorts and flipflops, took off one of the shoes and slapped the possum on the head with it.

The animal skittered into the dark cowering and shrieking, and we never saw it again.

During the latest possum encounter, though, she had to call some animal control people to get the varmint out of the garage.

This all happened a few weeks ago.  We have moved to a new home since then, maybe partially because of the possum situation.

We have not seen any possums at the new place, and I’m frankly a little concerned now about Regina’s abilities to deal with that crisis if we do.


Packers, etc.

The Green Bay Packers were my first favorite pro football team back in high school and college.  I remained a fan even though most of my interest in the NFL shifted to the Saints and Cowboys.

After all these years of pulling for the Packers except when they played Dallas or New Orleans, I’m disenchanted with them.

Their prima donna quarterback Aaron Rodgers has turned fans off with contract disputes, threats to leave the team, demands for more authority, deceit about vaccines and other issues.

The old Packers won five league championships in the 1960s with legendary coach Vince Lombardi and great players like Bart Starr, Jimmy Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Jerry Kramer, and Max McGee.

Lombardi was the epitome of the old-time, Bear Bryant type football coaches and was one of the most quoted men in the history of the game.

It’s a little hokey, but his old saying, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win,” has been splashed on signs in high school and college locker rooms for decades.

Besides dominating the league in my younger years, the Packers had a strong Louisiana flavor.  Fullback Jimmy Taylor played at LSU, and receiver Max McGee starred at Tulane.

The Packers were not just good, they were colorful. If there had been awards for flamboyant characters, McGee would have been the MVP.

Lombardi liked to go over fundamentals of the game in his first meeting with new players.  He held up a ball and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”  McGee said, “Coach, slow down, you’re going too fast for us.”

McGee earned a reputation for partying with pretty ladies and missing curfews.  Lombardi caught him a few times and imposed small fines.

In those ancient times before multi-million-dollar salaries for players, McGee was making $35,000 a year.

Lombardi told him one night before a big game, “McGee, if you miss curfew tonight, the fine will be $5,000.  If you see a lady worth that kind of fine, let me know.  I want to go with you.”

I talked to McGee several times when we were about to induct him into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame here in 1987 and asked if he needed assistance with travel arrangements.  He said he didn’t.

At the pre-banquet reception, two trucks pulled in front of the coliseum.  McGee, his wife and three other couples in their finest cocktail attire piled out of the cabs and beds of the pickups.

They flew in on a private jet and asked the airport manager to call them a taxi.  There were no cabs here back then, so the manager and a friend delivered them to the festivities in their dusty trucks.

Aaron Rodgers needs a lesson in such lack of pretension…

The Grand Ole Opry was broadcast for the 5,000th time a couple of week ago.  WSM Radio in Nashville carried the first show just two months after the station went on the air in 1925.  It was called the WSM Barn Dance at the time.

My parents, brother and I used to gather around a big console radio in the living room and listen to the Grand Ole Opry, Louisiana Hayride, the Gillette Friday Night Fights and old-time radio shows like Fibber McGee and Molly.

My mother danced by herself in her stocking feet to Opry music.

I thought of that when I saw Porter Wagoner and Connie Smith at the Grand Ole Opry House years later and visited the historic Ryman Auditorium, long-time home of the Opry.

It’s good to know the music I grew up with and still love is going strong after 5,000 radio shows.

NOTE:  Reflections is taking a few weeks off for the holidays and will be back next year if the Good Lord’s willing and all…  


Flight Problems

All these flight delays and cancellations across the country that are disrupting air travel reminded me of a few bad airline trips.

Northwestern’s athletic conference offices are in the Dallas area, and its meetings are sometimes held at airport hotels.

It is usually easy to fly into Dallas and take a tram to an on-site hotel for business gatherings.

But there was a time in the 1980s when TWA had Louisiana’s state contract for air travel. That turned a scheduled trip from Shreveport to Dallas into an adventure.

Bobby Alost was president of Northwestern and planned to fly to a Southland Conference meeting.

He had an emergency and asked me to go in his place.  Neither of us had flown to a league meeting since TWA took over our air travel.

It was a shock to discover at the airport that I had to fly to TWA’s St. Louis hub to get a connecting flight to Dallas.

Sleet and snow swept into St. Louis after I got there.  All flights were canceled for the day.

Taxis and buses were sidetracked, and I spent the night stretched across three metal chairs in the airport before flying back to Shreveport the next day without ever getting to the meeting…

When Randy Webb was president, we were flying to Nashville for an NCAA convention.  There was bad weather, and we missed our connecting flight to Nashville from Atlanta.

We were on American Airlines, which canceled all its flights to Nashville.

Delta still had a couple, but our state-rate tickets could not be changed to another airline.  The Delta clerk I begged to help us made that clear.

A guy with “Supervisor” stamped on his badge heard the discussion and asked to see our tickets.  He noticed that we were from Louisiana.

The supervisor asked if I knew University of New Orleans basketball coach Tim Floyd.  I told him about a couple of times that I visited with Tim and also his dad Lee Floyd, who coached at Southern Mississippi.

Tim was the guy’s neighbor before Delta transferred him from New Orleans to Atlanta, and he really liked the coach.

The supervisor went to the clerk’s computer, typed some stuff in and handed us tickets on Delta’s next flight to Nashville.  He said he upgraded them to First Class at no charge.

I sent Tim Floyd a thank you note for being a nice neighbor…

Regina and I flew to South Florida for our honeymoon at Marco Island 20 years ago.

On the trip back, we got stranded in Houston.  The airport was closing in a storm, and travelers were being shuttled to area hotels.

We stayed around trying to get to Shreveport and were the only two people on the last shuttle to a hotel.

It was 30 miles away.  There were three cars in the dark parking lot, and the front desk clerk could have been in Mafia movies.

The dim marquee advertised a motel restaurant.  We had not eaten anything since snacks on the plane 12 hours earlier.

I asked about the restaurant, and the clerk said all he had was sandwiches.  He gave us dry bread and some cheese and greenish ham from an old refrigerator.

Our room was musty, and the lock on the door didn’t work. We stacked luggage in front of it and napped on the suitcases.

We escaped into an airline minivan early the next morning and finally got home.

The oceanfront resort where we spent the first several days of our honeymoon was luxurious, and we might still be making monthly payments on it.

The last day that ended with us sprawled on luggage stacked by a motel door that would not lock reminded us how nightmarish airline travel can be.


Turkey Shortage

Turkey has never been one of my favorite foods, but I appreciate traditions and understand the importance of having a big roasted bird on the table at Thanksgiving.

That might be easier said than done this year.  There seems to be a shortage of good turkeys across the country right about the time we are gearing up for the holidays.

Turkeys are apparently part of our “supply chain” problem. It’s hard to find workers for turkey farms and poultry processing plants.

Even if somebody manages to raise a turkey and get it plucked, cleaned, frozen and all that, there are not enough truck drivers to get the birds delivered to supermarkets.

This latest supply chain dilemma had escaped my attention until Regina had me drive her around to stores in Shreveport last week in search of a perfect holiday turkey.  We came home empty handed.

That bothers her more than it does me.  My mother always fixed a plump turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but she would roast a chicken, or a hen as she called it, for my dad and me.

Regina has followed that pattern for years.  There is always a turkey at our house for show and for people who might like it, but I get chicken with giblet gravy.

Show turkeys have to be so enormous that they barely fit in the oven.  Stores where we shopped for them had a few scrawny birds but none that would be very impressive on the table at Thanksgiving.

We do cornbread dressing for holidays and some other side dishes like mashed potatoes, ambrosia, candied sweet potatoes and broccoli and rice casserole.

That stuff alone is a good meal even if there continues to be a shortage of fat turkeys or even chickens.

We might miss the giblet gravy made with pan drippings from the chicken, but mashed potatoes are good with plain butter, and we can put cranberry sauce on the dressing.

I still like the old fashioned congealed cranberry sauce that comes in a can. You open both ends of the can, shake the sauce out onto a plate, and it shimmies all through the meal.

But Regina’s cranberry salad has been growing on me, so I have my dressing with both the canned sauce and the salad.

She makes it with fresh cranberries, whipped cream, pecans and marshmallows, and our granddaughters and others in the family love it with dressing or just by itself.

The first Thanksgiving after Regina and I married 20 years ago, her ex-husband contacted her to ask for the cranberry salad recipe.

She sent it to him, but he said it was too complicated for him and asked if she could just make him some.  She sent cranberry salad with her daughter to share with him on holidays for years after that.

One of the problems with my mother and later Regina doing a big turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas just to impress folks is that the turkey keeps hanging around after the holiday meal.

Nobody likes to waste food, so they tried to camouflage leftover turkey by putting it in soup, chili, pasta, casseroles, pot pies, salads, and other things.

Even when every scrap of meat had been stripped from the carcass of a holiday turkey, there were times when they boiled the bird’s picked over bones to make broth for gumbo.

My hope every holiday was that we would not run out of giblet gravy and cornbread dressing before we finished off all the leftover turkey.

And that there would still be some sweet potato pie for dessert after choking down a creative new turkey dish.

The shortage in supermarkets this year of big turkeys is causing some stress, but I was delighted when we had to settle for one that looked like a frozen pigeon. It won’t hang around so long.


More S’mores

Trick or treating with our granddaughters last week had sort of a Mardi Gras flavor to it.

There were even a few things about the experience that reminded me of trick or treating as a kid.  Except I didn’t see any S’mores or popcorn balls.

They live in a sprawling neighborhood where kids pile up on golf carts or flat bed trailers and go house-to-house for goodies.

It is not necessary to go door-to-door, because adults are sitting along the road waiting for them with heaps of treats.  So the kids just go driveway-to-driveway.

I had some flashbacks to Mardi Gras celebrations when I was working in New Orleans and had to weave through blocks of chaos and commotion to get to the newspaper office.

The trick or treating parade was on a much smaller scale, but there were masks, painted faces, golf carts decorated with flashing lights and trailers loaded with revelers like Mardi Gras floats.

There were no beads or doubloons flying around the best I could tell, but I did see some Twizzlers and Peanut Butter Cups in flight as they were traded from one plastic pumpkin container to another.

Kids that I know and see all the time at my granddaughters’ schools and ball games were unrecognizable in mummy, witch, and ghost outfits.

My own granddaughters, who would normally be grounded for putting on a smidge of lipstick, were covered with face paint, glitter, mascara, and eye shadow and looked like walking makeup kits.

They were Dracula, Jasmine, and Cinderella. I never saw a Superman cape, Batman mask or rubber Frankenstein head cover like boys wore when I was growing up.

And nobody was handing out the kind of treats that we lined up for on neighbors’ front porches in those days.  We even went home and changed costumes so we could go back for seconds.

We could count every year on getting some homemade popcorn balls at the Honeycutts’ house, hot chocolate with marshmallows floating in it from the Cains and caramel apples from Mrs. Adams.

But our favorite stop was always the Rogers’ house.  She was a troop leader for the local Girl Scouts and introduced us to those S’mores treats made with graham crackers, marshmallows, and melted chocolate.

Girls in our classes who were involved in Girl Scouts used to tell us about S’mores.  I asked my mother once to make us some, and she said, “That’s a Girl Scout thing.”

It might have violated Girl Scout rules for Mrs. Rogers to make them for us every Halloween, but she did.  We sat on her porch to enjoy them, because marshmallow and chocolate dripped down our arms if we tried to eat them while we were walking.

There were plenty of other old-fashioned treats that folks handed out for Halloween back then like Mars, O’Henry and Zagnut candy bars, those three-color coconut bars that were strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla flavored and Dubble Bubble chewing gum.

When my kids were little, we built a fire in the empty lot next door on Halloween night and toasted marshmallows and roasted wieners for hot dogs for trick or treaters.

After we ran out, as we always did, they got Tootsie Rolls and those little Chunky candy bars with peanuts and raisins.  I handed out the Tootsie Rolls first hoping to have some Chunky bars left over for myself.

I was impressed with the treats that my granddaughters and other kids got in their neighborhood.  There was good candy like Twix, Snickers, Butterfinger, and Baby Ruth.   At one house, they even handed out those Capri Sun fruit drinks.  I liked the wild cherry.

Nobody was roasting hot dogs last week, but there was a big pot of gumbo back home when we finished and a couple of Milky Ways from a plastic pumpkin container for dessert.


Greatest Songs

Rolling Stone magazine’s new list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time leaves little doubt that not many of the experts who voted in that poll ever went to a sock hop in the 1950s.

There is not enough space here for a complete analysis of the latest ranking of great songs, but a lot of fifties classics dropped far down the list and others were left off altogether.

Even Elvis was not spared in this updated assessment of songs that should be considered the most enduring of all the countless musical numbers ever written and recorded.

When Rolling Stone’s first Top 500 Songs list was published in 2004, the Elvis hit Heartbreak Hotel was No. 45.  It plummeted in the new rankings to 347.

Jailhouse Rock has some wacky lyrics, but it was the title song for an Elvis movie my senior year of high school in 1957 and was No. 1 on all the music charts.  It fell from 67 to 216.

Mystery Train, one of the first Elvis songs I remember hearing on KWKH Radio in Shreveport, was No. 26 on the original list of Rolling Stone top songs but did not make the new rankings.

My appraisal of all this is admittedly biased since I was a huge Elvis fan and passed that passion for his music along to my sons.

I saw Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride a couple of times early in his career.  He did songs at those shows like Don’t Be Cruel, Blue Moon of Kentucky, and Chuck Berry’s Maybelline.

After one of the Hayride performances, I waited in a long line to get his autograph just before the announcer proclaimed, “Elvis has left the building.”

He signed the front cover of my Louisiana Hayride program.  I wish I still had it, but a pretty girl asked me for it before I got back to my seat, and I gave it to her.

When my sons were teenagers, we went to Elvis concerts in Monroe and Alexandria and heard some of his great songs like Can’t Help Falling in Love and It’s Now or Never.

He was overweight and short of breath and forgot words to songs he had done for years.  His career and life were nearly over, but he had reigned in pop music for a quarter-century.

In my mind, there has never been better music than in the 1950s when we jitterbugged in our socks at the Springhill Recreation Center to Elvis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis records on an old Victrola.

Or learned from suave, big city girls from places like Shreveport the right way to close dance while the Northwestern Demonaires Band played The Platters and Sam Cooke songs at Wednesday night college dances.

Elvis songs are not the only ones from the 1950s that dropped or fell off the Top 500 list.

Chuck Berry’s Maybelline went from 18 to 101.  Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day dropped from 39 to 124.  Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally was No. 57 in 2004 but didn’t even make the new list.

Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis sank from 96 to 242 and his Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On hit that ranked No. 60 on the original list is off completely.

So is Carl Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes that was No. 94.  Also off the list is Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven, which was No. 96 in the old rankings.

In the Still of the Night by a group called The Five Satins might have been the best slow dancing song of the fifties, and it dropped from No. 90 to 170.

With appreciation for 1950s music declining like this, it is not surprising that we don’t hear much anymore about jitterbugging, sock hops and close dancing.


Supply Chain

My bicycle was beginning to show its age. The brakes were making strange noises, and I had to start dragging my feet a little to help stop it.

The chains were loose and came off every now and then at inconvenient times.  The back tire wobbled, and some of the 21 gears on the machine quit working.

There is a number 21 painted in silver with a circle around it on the frame to let observers know I suppose that this is not just an ordinary one-gear bike.

But lately I have been able to switch to only about a third of the gears.  I should have painted over the silver 21 and replaced it with a 7.

I finally took the bike in for an overhaul. Regina got it for me 14 years ago, and I have been riding it almost every day rain or shine with little maintenance except for some new tires.

The head mechanic at the bicycle shop walked around the bike a few times, shook his head slowly from side to side and typed things into one of those little computer tablets.

Then he gave me the estimate to repair it.  I’m pretty sure he had alerted some emergency medical personnel to be on standby before he hit me with the number.

When the estimate for repairs was nearly as much as the bike cost when we got it, I told the folks at the bicycle shop that I would just buy a new one.

They said they could probably get one just like I had and that it should be here by mid-2024 and asked if I wanted to get it on order.

My first thought was about that old line, “At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.”  At my age, I don’t think I can wait three years for a new bike to come in.

There were a few new bikes scattered around the big store, and they asked if I wanted to look at something different from the one I had been riding all these years.

My bike, they explained, was designed for more “mature” riders.  It is a cruiser, and you can sit straight up on it like you do in a rocking chair and just pedal instead of rock.

The others they showed me required acrobatic skills.  The placement of the seats makes it mandatory for riders to pedal and hold on to the handlebars for dear life while their rear end is up above their shoulders.

There were some of those electric bikes there that appeared to be much more comfortable than the racer-type machines I sat on.  But the price tag on them was about what I paid for my first house.

I had not noticed when I rolled my bike into the shop that there were just a few new bicycles scattered around the showroom floor.  The last time I was there, it was crowded with them.

When I asked about it, I got all that narrative about the global shortage of bicycles because of the pandemic and the familiar rhetoric about problems with the “supply chain.”

It was the same kind of stuff we are hearing all the time at grocery stores and other places.  There is a problem with the “supply chain,” so there is no toilet paper or Blue Bell ice cream sandwiches.

There is a shortage of pickles because glass to make the containers is hard to come by.

I have been riding bikes all my life and always had a no-frills one speed from Western Auto or one of the big discount stores.

When I needed parts like pedals, seats, or handlebar grips or even a whole new bicycle, I went to those places and got them that day.  Nobody ever said anything about the supply chain.