Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Lady in the Orange Vest


After three tries I finally was able to transfer title of our car from Mark to my name. On the first try I drove over to the DMV only to find that the Vehicle Services section was closed on Monday. The rest of the place was open, but not the section that handles title transfers. So I left and returned the next day. I had every form the web site said I would need, and more. I had Mark's will, power of attorney, forms downloaded from the Secretary of State's office. I even brought Mark's last driver's license. It was not enough. I left with more forms to fill out and get notarized clenched in my angry fist. I returned yesterday. This time absolutely sure I had all I needed. I got in line outside the door and waited. When the lady in the orange vest asked me what I was there for I showed her what I had and what I wanted to do.

"Sir, do you have the RU-DE-9 tax form?"

"I'm sure I do."

And I started rifling through the large pile of forms I had with me. The lady in the orange vest was impatient.

"Let me see those..."  She flipped through my papers, "Nope, you don't have it."

She handed me another form and sent me over to a table to fill it out. As I entered the data, it all seemed familiar. So I looked again in my large envelope full of documents.

"Ah ha!" I shouted, "Here it is!"

I walked back over to the lady in the orange vest and showed it to her.

"Okay, fine. This is good. Wait in line over there."

By this time the line had built up longer and I noticed other people being let right in.

"Um, excuse me, lady in an orange vest? Why are those people going ahead of the line?"

"They're seniors sir."

It was a backhanded statement. Yes, very nice that she didn't think I was over sixty five. Sad that I had to use the old age card to jump the line.

Monday, April 12, 2021

April 12, 1940. Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 A found photo


It was a beautiful day in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Anne was feeling the season and was in good spirits. She had checked into the Crescent Hotel next to the Hilltop Cottage Tearoom on Circle Drive. Anne had just arrived from Saint Louis and hoped things would be better now that she had left Harry. 'Certainly he'll never find me here', she thought. Harry was abusive and when he was drinking, which was most of the time, he would disappear for days. Usually to be found with another woman at the Tower Motor Court. So Anne left hoping to find Marge. She was sure that Harry knew nothing about her. She had met Marge on a women's Christian retreat the year before. They had bonded immediately as friends, and on one special night, shared a bed in a way that Anne had never done with Harry.

Anne called Marge from the hotel room.


"Marge, it's me, Anne. I'm in Eureka Springs and I want to see you."

"You are here?"

Marge put her hand to her breast and let out a quiet sigh.

"Where are you right now?"

"I'm at the Crescent Hotel, next to a little tea room. Maybe we can meet there."

"But of course. The Hilltop Cottage. I live very near there."

So that afternoon Anne and Marge met at the Hilltop Cottage Tearoom on Circle Drive in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. They nibbled on sandwiches and sipped tea while talking about many things.

"Oh Anne, I can't believe you got my letter and came here so quickly."

"Letter? You sent me a letter?"

"Yes, a very personal letter. I have thought of you ever since our time at the retreat. Certainly that's why you are here. I wrote you asking you to come see me. I was hoping and  praying we could..."

"I never got a letter from you. When did you send the letter?"

"A few days ago. Certainly you got my letter. I mean, you're here. Right?"

At that moment Anne looked out the window. Right outside, Harry's Oldsmobile pulled up in front of the teahouse......


Wednesday, April 7, 2021



I had a job to do, one that I've been putting off for six months. Over the weekend I gathered all the papers I assumed that I would need. I went on the internet to pre-fill the required forms. I copied Mark's will, the power of attorney in my name, copied his death certificate, and put that all in a large envelope along with the original death certificate, his driver's license, and the title to his car. On Monday morning I drove over to the Secretary of State office on Elston Avenue. I should say, the notorious Secretary of State office. Nobody likes that place. As efficient as they are, it is always a tossup as to whether you will get out of there in half an hour or half a day.  

When I first pulled into the parking lot I was horrified to see a line of people that wrapped all the way around the building. I pulled up my big boy pants, put my head down and headed for the back of the line. To my delight when I got close, I learned that the long line was for people applying for the new 'Real ID'. Even if you have a current driver's license, you now need this new one if you want to fly or enter a federal building. I'm putting off getting one because I have a passport. Yes, I know it doesn't fit nicely in my wallet. But the hell if I'm going to stand in that line. Anyway, I walked past the long line and right on up to the doors of the vehicle transactions entrance. A big sign on the door said, "Closed on Mondays".

The bastards. Nowhere on their web site did I see that.

Yesterday, I tried again. Again there was a long line, even longer than the day before. Again it was not my line. My line to transfer the title was very short. There was a group of state employees in orange vests going up and down the line making sure you had the proper paperwork. I asked the lady in the orange vest if I was in the right line. She barely looked my way as she barked at me.

"See this lady? You are behind her. She is behind the man in front of her..."

"Oh, okay but...."

"I'm talking to this lady right now. Wait your turn."

Orange vest lady glared at me with angry eyes. I quietly took my place behind the lady. After a few minutes it was my turn to talk to the angry Illinois employee. I explained what I was doing.

"I'm sorry for your loss. Do you have a small estate affidavit?"

I began to pull out the pages of forms I had.

"Small estate affidavit. Do you have it?"

I quickly pawed through all my papers....


She walked away. Moments later she returned with a blank copy of the small estate affidavit.

"Here you go. Fill this all out, make sure your name is on line eleven. Once again, sorry for your loss. Have the form notarized."

She then moved on to the next schmuck in line. I stood there for just a moment, then said "Thank you." and walked back to Mark's car.

Monday, April 5, 2021

For the Love of Slow, Old, Cars


When I was fifteen I really wanted to buy a car. Not any car, but a car from the 1930’s, preferably a Ford. There was something about those big old bulbous autos with that deco styling I just loved. Of course at the age of fifteen, not having a drivers license and having a dad who thought I was nuts, I’d have settled for a Rambler station wagon. To my father, cars from the 1930’s were just the old junks of his teen years. So when my dad came home from work one night and said a friend of his had a 1935 Studebaker for sale for $300, and would I like to buy it, I just about peed in my pants with excitement.

In my fevered mind that car was the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on. It was a huge, black, four door sedan with a shiny deep black lacquer paint job. Of course I bought it on the spot, and rode home in the passenger seat with my dad driving it and telling me what a piece of crap it was. Until I got my learners permit all I could do was drive it up and down the driveway. To extend my driving thrill a few feet more I’d even drive it onto the backyard grass. After getting my learners permit I recruited a buddy of mine because he already had a drivers license but no car. In 1966 a kid with a learner's permit could drive as long as any licensed driver was in the car with him. This allowed me to drive all over town with as many of my friends and hangers on as we could pack into that old car.
Over the next few years things changed and I left my parent's house. After moving out on my own, a collector car wasn’t feasible. So my dad sold it for $600 and gave me the original $300 I’d paid for it, keeping the rest as payment for years of storage in his garage. Now I have my own garage. It has two cars in it and they're both mine. One of them is a 1929 Ford and I'm as excited about that car as I was about that 1935 Studebaker. Funny thing is, I still know as much about fixing a car as I did in 1966, which is not much. So, we'll see how long I stay excited.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Shape of Things


I was sitting in the doctor's office waiting room yesterday. Across the way, socially distanced, was a woman. She was wearing skin tight pants made of some kind of neoprene material. I'm not sure if it was supposed to look like leather or rubber, but what it did look like were two Goodyear Blimps attached to her hips. She could have been hiding two giant watermelons in those pants instead of thighs. She was fat. I'm not being judgmental here. It is simply that I would never wear clothing that shows off my misshapen body. I have respect for those who don't seem to care what others see. I saw blimps. I used to be a straight up and down guy, skinny. Twenty four years ago when I met Mark, it wasn't too long before I stopped going to the gym. It was almost immediate that I started eating meals fit for a king. A fat king. Mark was a very good cook and I steadily put on weight. Now I look like a taffy apple with two sticks holding it up. Kind of reminds me of my dad. Dad had a belly sticking out for much of his adult life, with two skinny legs below. What was weird is that he had a small ass. So picture a tall balding guy with shoulders sloping down into a big gut, sitting on top of a little ass with two poles underneath that. That was Dad. I was thinking about that as I looked at that woman, and then the nurse called my name. It was my turn to see the doctor. I stood up and gave my pants a hitch so that they wouldn't fall down. For some reason my ass is smaller than my waist and lately my pants have been sliding down low, just like Dad. Maybe I should look into that neoprene or some other material that will cling better.