Archive for July, 2016

The Essence of Acquisition….#165 (80’s)

July 30, 2016
7720 John Deere Combine

7720 John Deere Combine

Gary’s participation in the harvest season decamped with the wheat bedded in the silo’s another resolution completed,  the full complement of the John Deere service personnel once again able to perform autogenous, no longer a paid subscriber to the beckoning of the Custom Harvesters.   The staff having been enlarged with the inauguration of the new assembly shop,  the service department continuing with Larry Foster as manager,  Jim Pulliam,   Denny Callison,   Keith Hoffman, all  mainstay diesel practitioners and an addition of Bill Duval and Ron Zahnter.   The fall season having arrived upon the kindred land, the stubble of consequence remaining but finding its earthen substance orbited  by  eight,  twelve and sixteen bottom plows.  The tilling of the soil a  prerequisite before  commencing  the winter wheat drilling process, the insertion of the seed with the tractor-pulled  seed drilling implement.   Gary always amazed at the  wheat adorned landscape during the winter months,  the frontal winds venturing down from the north,  displaying  a biting chill,  casting a cold infraction. Within the domain of the city limits the lawns of bermuda grass laid brown and dormant  but the bounding fields of winter wheat were nor,  giving notice to all,  the seedlings arising painting the winter landscape with a blanket of green, a prerequisite sign spring would prevail again.

John Deere 8300 drill

John Deere 8300 drill

The greenery of Winter Wheat

The greenery of Winter Wheat

Gary turning the key to the entrance of  the Service Company  at  7:00 a.m., opening the store five days a week and on alternate Saturday mornings.  On arrival,  a normal day  would find  farmers seated in pickups waiting but this morning was different,  Steve Miller and brother John, who normally didn’t come in until later were already there.  Steve taking Gary aside promulgating that a sign be placed on the door that they would be closed between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. this morning.  Gary’s curiosity being aroused ventured a questioning expression, Steve prescribing that they were having a company meeting.   At 8:10, everyone assembled in the service bay area,  the group standing in silence,  Steve Miller beginning his dissertation addressing the gathering about customer service, their responsibility as representatives of the company when dealing with the public.  Moving on he addressed the shop personnel about adhering to the prescribed flat rate time especially when servicing the sales departments combines, tractors and implements.  Continuing he said he was well aware of the extended break time that many took, he realized that the mechanics couldn’t just stop in the middle of a project to take a break but reminded them there were only two  break periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and that he wasn’t above having them clock out for their breaks.  In conclusion addressing everyone, his temperament raising, that he had noticed  the tendency of workers standing about while on the clock with a soft drink in one  hand,  then  sternly reprimanding all with a statement,  “I can’t recall hiring any one hand employees”.  The meeting adjourned, the employee giving witness to Steve’s  appropriately  stated petition.

Jerry Whitney

Jerry Whitney

It was hard to believe if the rumor was true,  an unbelievable account, an occurrence that would resonate thru the Kiowa community.  Gary first hearing about the event from John Miller, it concerned Jerry Whitney and of all things, Cattle Bale Feeders, Jerry having ordered the bale feeders as part of the sales inventory.   As the drawn-out story read, a farming customer purchased several bale feeders,  meeting Jerry where they were stored at Dumlers barn northwest of town.  When confronted with the non payment,  the person came forward with a cancelled check for the full amount, the only disparaging quagmire being, the check was not made out to Kiowa Service, but to Jerry Whitney.  It became apparent after being brought to Steve Miller’s attention there was more to the story as Steve called John Blunk, the Barber County Sheriff to investigate.  Jerry renown for his integrity, Gary having witnessed Steve in attesting to Jerry’s trust worthiness,  that he could leave his wallet with Jerry.   The whispered rumors around town persisted, that  Jerry’s wife Teresa, who was the  administrator for Dumler Cattle Company was someway involved leading to Jerry’s  indiscretion.  Opening the store Monday morning, being told that Jerry wouldn’t be in,  the word surfacing  that Sheriff John Blunks had visited with Jerry  admitting his indiscretion,  Steve Miller willing to let the matter drop in lieu of restitution and Jerry’s immediate resignation as parts manager.   Gary was perplexed, finding it totally unbelievable, there was more to the story, a person of Jerry’s unquestionable character would never commit such a degradation, but his absence as an employee spoke for itself.

Several days later Steve Miller  convoking Gary to his office and as was his habit probing for conviction, questioning and asking the employee to give a self appraisal in fulfilling the position vacated by Jerry.  Gary was realistic, not altogether surprised at being thrust into the management position given the fact that harvest was fast approaching and it would be difficult finding a more experienced person.  Donning his best stature of  self-assurance he expressed his confidence, aware of  the responsibility and was up to making the parts department ready for the upcoming harvest season.  Steve suggesting that if he had any questions  he might visit with Larry Foster the service manager about the inventory for harvest.   With the new responsibility also came an increase in salary and a concerted transformation with new concepts now adorned the parts department, no longer bulk stacks of five gallon drums of oil and hydraulic fluid,  indiscriminate barrels of miscellaneous tools and item.   An organized presentation of Deere’s products, the initiated life-time guaranteed John Deere tools,  a display of clothing, wanton miniature replication for the young, a paradigm of tillage and lawn and garden applications,  providing an accepted family accouchement.

New to the parts department, Craig Brattin

New to the parts department, Craig Brattin

Parts department clerk Barbara was leaving, Gary having hired Kathy Rathgeber to replace her, Kathy having originally worked for Larry in the service department desiring a change and was already skilled at pricing service work orders and cataloging sales for inventory control.  Another new person coming aboard, Craig Brattin, a very personable good nature additon who would work well up front in customer service.  Gary, when under Jerry Whitney’s direction was the primary responder to address the shop service window, failing to be exact in acquainting their needs or erroneous parts for service calls would find the service person returning with a barrage of expletive-deleted,  a disservice to them and the customer,  costing  both,  money to a flat-rate scaled mechanic and time to the customer.    Gary when first employed had experienced tribulation working the front counter, not knowing a plowshare from a drill boot,  giving Brattin some basic instructions, if he needed assistance he knew Gary’s location and if alone and not sure give the customer the  parts manual,  letting them decide their needs,  finding the farmer knew more about their equipment and implements than you did.  In essence the acquisition of knowledge in itself is more than a learning experience, it’s a certitude.

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Intrepidity In Resolution………….#166 (80’s)

July 28, 2016

 

Ron and the Chevette

Ron and the Chevette

Ron Zahtner was new to the Kiowa and the Service Company,  an experienced  diesel mechanic, having worked at R & H Implement, the John Deere dealership in Syracuse Ks.  Gary found him to be a quiet person, sociable when spoken to but never one to instigate a conversation.  Once you got to know him, he was a very likable person, but at times did come across as one with an attitude Ron’s abbreviated stature at  5 ft. 4 inches might have contributed to his demeanor.  Gary could identify with Ron, especially the difficult time he encountered ameliorating acceptance from his newly acquainted work constituents, it was similar to his experience until discovering a workplace adversary,  Larry Swonger.   Larry having observed the hesitant acknowledgement of the out-of-town stranger, welcoming Gary like a long time friend.  Gary deciding to enact an adversarial endeavor scheduling his breaks to coalesce with Ron and the other mechanics and before long a semi-congenial acceptance began to evolve.

It was Saturday morning Craig’s weekend off,  Gary aft of the Service Company parts counter when the telephone rang,  it was his wife.   Jan had taken leave earlier that morning to drive to Waynoka Oklahoma,  her Chevette pervaded full of hand crafted ceramics  to participate in an arts and craft festival.  Gary somewhat puzzled about why she was calling considering the time,  responding that she had car trouble but what was able to make it to Waynoka and set up for the craft show.  She related that about two miles from town the Chevette  espoused a loud-sounding noise as if something had fell off the car, but it remained running so she continued,  the engine temperature gauge registering H by the time she got into town.   Gary first thought was a fan belt had probably come off, explaining the noise and the temperature gauge reading, assuring her he would be on his way after closing the store at noon.  Arriving in Waynoka  ascending the hood of the Chevette, he was confronted with a surprise,  not only was the fan belt missing , but the pulley on harmonic balancer had departed too, explaining the loud noise Jan had heard.

 Approaching Waynoka


Approaching Waynoka

Returning home with Jan, the Chevette abiding in Waynoka,  Gary realizing there was but  two resolutions, towing the car with a rope or calling Keith at D&W Auto,  having their tow truck accomplish the delivery.  Mulling over the two considerations, the first being the least expensive, finding someone willing to accompany him and drive his car back towing the Chevette.  He immediately eliminated calling his father-in-law, as Bud had been through this once before with ‘Ole Blue.  His second choice was Larry Swonger, but then someone else came to mind, someone who not only could tow, but someone who could remedy the harmonic balancer pulley problem, Ron Zahtner.   Gary calling,  finding Ron at home, briefly explaining the situation, Ron agreeing to help, but came up with a far better alternate solution. The Service Company possessing both a pickup and trailer, advocating Gary call and ask the about borrowing both to retrieve the car.   Gary placing a call to the Steve Miller residence  getting  no response, placing  a second call to John Miller,  John answering telling Gary that he didn’t see a problem with him borrowing the pickup and trailer.

The company pickup with the attached trailer set-out for Waynoka,  Jan having related to the best of her knowledge the mile section where the experience took place.  The Service pickup and trailer halted at the side of the road,  Ron and Gary embarking from the tandem walking what the believed to be the designated mile section searching both sides of the highway for the departed pulley, but to no avail.  The two secured the Chevette in the trailer,  Ron agreeing to make some phone calls to see if he could find a used pulley but it being late Saturday afternoon and tomorrow being Sunday it would probably be Monday before he could find one.  Arriving in Kiowa Gary deciding to leave the Chevette parked at the Service Company yard, Ron lifting the hood taking a second look noticing that the car had air conditioning and that he wasn’t sure whether it required a double pulley or single with an add-on  accessory pulley, Gary leaving everything up to Ron.   Later Ron had discovered it took an add-on accessory pulley for the air conditioner compressor, but  all he could find was a used single pulley being told that it would be almost  impossible to find an accessory pulley new or used because very few of the 1.4 liter Chevette were AC equipped and in probability it would have to be ordered from Detroit.  Gary concluding that the Chevette having propagated its appropriated duties, it was time to hand of it’s baton of  servitude to someone else, telling Ron to go ahead and put a single pulley on, at least the car could run and would trade the car without a belt for the  air conditioner compressor.

new yorker

1979 Chrysler New Yorker

The Willson’s having allocated to spend Friday night in Wichita,  the couple having traveled in the Chevette,  the fall morning enticing a  journey on Kellogg Avenue renown automobile row, the couple in a car seeking disposition.  Their search just getting started when  Jan acknowledging a pristine looking pre-owned blue Chrysler New Yorker positioned on an elevated ramp extending above the other displayed automotive enticements.  Gary taking notice of the large luxury Chrysler but continued on Kellogg desiring to investigate the inventory of the other dealerships but  Jans exclamatory of the blue New Yorker persevered.  Attempting to interject some logic but to no avail, Gary finally realizing  that any endeavor to  examine another vehicle before the Chrysler would be futile,  the Chevette reversing course,  back to the displayed exposition.    Halting at the dealership Gary was more attentive to the echelons of smaller  less luxurious vehicles on the lot,  practicality of usage envisioned, but  an inspection of an assortment finding a disinterested Jan, always  returning to the blue Chrysler New Yorker.  The sales person no doubt having sensed Jan’s interest had the New Yorker removed  from its lofty perch to the street level.  Without hesitation the lady of the household seated herself in its enhancing leather interior, Gary realized that this closer inspection was contiguous awaiting the next prescribed  event from the sales person,  the demonstration drive.

Gary navigated the long luscious New Yorker onto Kellogg for the test drive knowing  any dissuading comments would be ineffectual,  Jan’s intrepidity was in a resolution mode.  The price accord session about to begin was a lost cause, the sales person knowing he had a sale, Gary’s only bargaining chip was the trade-in amount for the Chevette.  A company representative returning with the Chevette after a brief trip around the block the block giving the salesman an okay except that the air conditioner wasn’t cooling.  Gary was a hesitant with a moment of concern not sure of what to say, deciding  not to confer the complete extent of the missing pulley problem, but still to be honest,  stating the air conditioner worked find but was missing a belt, the statement technically correct.  The New Yorker prevailed,  Jan, who turned down the offer to make the in-town test drive was more than willing to make the rural highway drive back to Kiowa.

A Deafening Silence……………#167 (80’s)

July 26, 2016
Cessna 172

Cessna 172

The  parts department at the Service Company wasn’t without its humorous moments,  especially at the benefit of an employee and her resolve to drive Gary’s 1950 Dodge pickup.  An afternoon found a need arising to encompass a fan belt for one of the service pickups, Gary initiating a telephone call  to the Kiowa Auto Parts store informing Gerald Elwood about the fan belt and that Kathy Rathgeber would be arriving to realize the purchase.  Kathy was about to leave when it was discovered that it seemed all the other service pickup were in use with nothing for her to drive, so without hesitation Gary handed Kathy the keys to his 50 Dodge pickup stationed curbside.    He observed from inside as she positioned herself behind the steering wheel, inserting the key in the ignition of the three generation old vehicle,  she remained seated,  the seconds ticking away,  then watched as she stepped out returning inside, with a bewildered look she said, “alright where’s the starter?”.   Gary explaining, the starter was on the floorboard adjacent to the accelerator,  just step on it and the gas pedal at the same time, making sure you step on the clutch pedal.   Kathy approached the parked vehicle for a second attempt, successfully starting the Dodge  but immediately shut it off once again returning inside with a question, “where’s reverse?”. Gary holding back a smile informed her, the floor-shift reverse was located all the way to the right and in a down position.   A return to the transport finding the very slight  petite young lady starting the Dodge,  attempting to back out, trying to  turn  the steering wheel, then abruptly letting the Dodge coast back to the curb turning off the engine,  returning once again,  handing Gary the keys with a look of frustration mumbling as she walked away  “I can’t turn the steering wheel”.   Gary realized her dilemma,  the pickup didn’t have any  power assist steering and unless moving was almost impossible to turn the steering wheel especially when it’s on a downhill  slant against a curb,  Gary deciding  to pick up the part himself.

The starter positioned adjacent to the gas pedal.

Dodge starter positioned adjacent to the gas pedal.

The Cessna 172 was making an approach to Kiowa, the flyover was heard within the confines of Kiowa Service, Sandy Palmer in the office mentioning that it was probably Steve returning.  Steve Miller,  the owner an accomplished pilot as was his brother John,  the flyover was an unspoken notice given for the need of assistance at the airport to berth the plane.  Steve having served notice that when available Sandy could send a service company employee to assist the housing of the aircraft  at the  Kiowa airstrip.  Gary having assisted Steve on several occasions had recently acquired a new  responsibility,  the Millers being  the primary consumer of the aviation facility was resolute in its upkeep and appearance, assigning the parts manager this added assignment.   Miller and several other local aircraft owners bestowed their craft in the small hangar facility.   Beside the mowing Gary found himself adjudging and replacing runway light bulbs, having never observed a night landing he no idea that dirt runway even had them. Steve was adamant about keeping  the outer grounds mowed and manicured,   having good reason with the piloting of prospective customers  from adjoining states to the John Deere dealership, it was good business sense, for a prospective customer’s first impression  might be lasting one.

The Kiowa Airport

The Kiowa Airport

Steve Miller wasn’t a home-grown local, Gary sensed that he wasn’t overly  appreciated by the Kiowa community,  his success in capturing a small rural John Deere Dealership known as Schubach Implement may have been the reason.  Changing the name and fabricating the business into the largest combine sales dealership in the United States may have inhibited some within the community to be invidious of his accomplishments.  The sales department demonstrating  phenomenal prestige and success, the Miller Brothers,  Steve, and John, salesperson Larry Swonger having obtained a prominence with Deere & Company as the most prodigious John Deere combine salesmen,  the three and their spouses being awarded with an all expense paid European vacation.  Gary’s discovering that with the volume of  success came progress and alteration, finding the installation by John Deere of an inventory control computer system,  a product of Texas Instruments.  The large encumbering apparatus, its size even dwarfing the service company’s  Western Union teletype machine, with its installation came the time consuming  process of downloading all of the prevalent inventory.    An attendance in a classroom educational program at the John Deere school facility in Wichita introduced Gary to the operating aspects of  the new computer innovative application,  the era of a new age having arrived in this small rural agriculture community, no more inventory flagging by on the written parts index cards.

Ron Zahnter, wife Lea Ann, children Angela and Darren

Ron Zahnter, wife Lea Ann, children Angela and Darren

Ron Zahnter was a small in stature, but the only  John Deere serviceman who could accomplish replacing a combines hydro-static transmission in the field,  its size and weight  normally requiring the formidable pulleys and chains of a shop application.   A request finding Gary mounting the forklift,  securing a pallet with the heavily laden  hydrostat from the warehouse,  transporting the burdensome transmission of all places, to the airport.  On  arrival, the forklift driver finding Steve and John and a number of the service shop personnel waiting.  Their purpose was to  attempt to load the hydrostat into the rear of Steve’s 172 Cessna.  The improbable  became probable, a partial temporary disassembly of the passenger seat giving just enough clearance and  with four stout mechanics maneuvering the bulky transmission to  a placement in the rear seat area of the aircraft.   Bruce,  the newly acquired company pilot and Ron Zahnter preparing for a journey to Garden City to rendezvous with a custom harvesting crew awaiting the replacement and installation of the 7720 hydrostatic transmission.

Ron's experience published in Aviation Safety

Ron’s experience published in Aviation Safety

Gary finding the events of Ron and Bruce’s flight to Garden City interesting,  not only because of the transporting of the transmission but because  it was Ron’s first flight in an aircraft and he was extremely apprehensive about flying,  even with a multi-engine rated pilot of Bruce’s stature.   The take off from the short dirt landing strip of Kiowa completed,  the Cessna 172 attaining a cruising altitude of 10,000 feet,  encompassing the 160 air mile journey,  the supercharged Cessna able to approach a cruising speed of  140 mph.   Ron was beginning to relax, the anxiety of his first flight starting to recede,  questioning Bruce about the remaining time to Garden City,  Bruce replying,  it would be another twenty minutes before reaching their destination.  Then it happened,  the steady drone of Cessna’s engine coming to a halt,  Ron suddenly realizing a deafening silence and the sound resonating from the plane’s engine  having stopped,  the only audio sound  he could accord was the presence of the wind,  its echoing whispers contacting the winged airborne structure.   Bruce’s first  concern  was not the gliding craft,  but Ron,  his appearance now void of any skin color,  his eyes wide with panic.   The pilots first response was to calm  Ron,  a recollection of  an instructional  class about a similar  situations when a passenger loses all sense  and  attempted to open the door.  Bruce in a  sequestered voice,  not totally truthful,  telling Ron not to worry,  because of the altitude we have plenty of  time to appraise the situation, but to Ron it seemed like a life-time before a familiar sound came to life, the restarting of the engine.   Bruce having accessed a supercharger malfunctioning causing the engine to shut down,  Ron gaining some assurance as they descended, the Garden City Airport in view.   The John Deere mechanic again on the ground,  a shaken but now an experienced flyer,  vowing,  his first flight would be his last flight in  a small plane.   Ron completing his assignment,  the hydrostat installed, Steve sending a service pickup to retrieve the new non flyer,  Bruce remaining with the Cessna  172  awaiting  the supercharger repair.  The Pilot having an opportunity to pen the account of his episode with the aircraft and Ron,  submitting the article to the Aviation Safety, a monthly avionics  magazine,  the venture published for all to experience.

Upgraded Accomplishments…….#168 (80’s)

July 24, 2016
Dads helper

Dads helper

The household heat provisions at 324 N. 11th St. was being upgraded, the floor furnace was on its way out,  a gift from Richard Guthrie,  a used central heat unit removed from his barn finding a new home,  Richard having found a more suitable barn fixture.    The central heating unit location being position in Jan’s craft shop area, adjacent to the kitchen the air intake and heat output vented through the dining room wall.  Gary having formulated how to  fabricate the ductwork to accommodate the two-story homestead noting that with ten foot ceilings there was plenty of clearance for installing eight inch duct.  The center trunk line would extend from the top of the heater through the dining room, the living room almost to the front door.  Branch ductwork would be run to each of the two downstairs bedrooms walls with openings for registers.  The upstairs was less complicated, the flexible duct teed into the main trunk line and up to opening cut for registers in the upstairs bedrooms and hall.  With the ductwork completed and fastened, the next project would be the installation of the metal framework for the drop ceiling acoustic tiles.   Gary by chance making a discovery, rummaging thru the upstairs attic storage area of the  Service Company, he came across several partial containers of 24 x 48 inch white ceiling tiles, remnants from the office remodeling addition.  A believer in ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’,  approached Steve Miller, asking if he could utilize the leftover tiles found in the attic for a ceiling project at home,  Steve not giving it any thought affirmed his request.   To Gary’s amazement with a small addition from Hood Lumber the panels  numbered enough to encompass the two rooms, the ceiling now lowered to eight feet.

Robert with Ben Franklin

Robert with Ben Franklin

His wife was rather upset, Gary having just returned from spending a winter Saturday night in Oklahoma City having visited his estranged family and friend Jerry Willis.  Jan wasn’t upset about the visit but the weather, the temperature in Kiowa having dropped into single digits,  informing him the temperature got down to 61 degrees in the drafty uninsulated house and that was with the central heat running continually.  Apparently the central heating unit wasn’t up to what was needed, Gary pondering whether to invest in a bigger unit but came up with an alternative for those extreme cold days, a wood burning stove.  Having never experience the use of a wood burner or consulting someone he bought what he thought was a proven reliable stove, one that had sufficed for hundreds of years, a classic Ben Franklin.   With its installation he thought it would provide the needed additional heat,  but in reality  it produced more smoke than heat and there was a chimney problem, there wasn’t one,  having run a hazardous single wall six-inch stove pipe up the side of the house that the wind played havoc with.

The Ultimate - a Hurricane

The Ultimate – a Hurricane

 Gary discovering that Humphrey Implement was a local distributor of fireplace and wood burning appliances  and accessories.  Visiting with Jim Humphrey, the dealer giving testimonial that he had just installed an air-tight Hurricane wood burner, with an electric blower system in  his residence and was totally satisfied with it performance.   With the purchase of the Hurricane,  Gary address the chimney, Jim recommending  triple wall eight inch insulated pipe enclosed by simulated chimney looking metal panels.  Gary just couldn’t picture a new looking 25 ft.  false metal chimney running up the side of the two-story old house,  having another alternative plan in mind.  Bud Murrow when being told of the idea shook his head, but agreed that it would work,  Gary deciding to run the insulated flu inside rather than outside of the house.  He would install it against the outer wall,  thru the ceiling,  addressing the upstairs floor at the far corner of  Sandi’s upstairs  bedroom and continuing  thru the ceiling to the roof above.  The pipe residing in the outside corner of the second floor bedroom requiring only a square foot of room space which would be enclosed with sheetrock.   The project finished, not exactly kosher,  Gary concluding that someone was right when they said “necessity is the mother of invention” and adding,  “at least the wind won’t play havoc with it”.

Hosting the Apostolic Church Sunday night Bible Study & Singing

Hosting the Apostolic Church Sunday night Bible Study & Singing

 Jan having made it known that sometime in the future she would like to host the Apostolic Churches Sunday night Bible Study & Singing,  Gary assuring her the time would come, he was doing the best he could in getting the house presentable.  The the Roth family residential heirlooms facelift seemed like a never-ending project, Gary having improved the interior,  the residence outside posture beckoning a new residual  having set for years enduring the Kansas environment it’s  present being worn and weathered.  Gary somewhat perplex about the undertaking the outside painting project, whether to brush it or apply it with a spray gun, deciding to approach Tom Wells, the recent hired Service Co painter about the use of a compressor and spray gun.  Tom instructing him on some basic  principles and during the process Gary discovered that when spraying you could vastly increase the amount of paint required if you didn’t know what you were doing.  Not being an experience spray painter he had second thoughts, on his salary the extra amount of paint would prohibit the use of a sprayer.   The brushing of the ship-lap endowed two-storied  structure  commenced, as it progressed Gary discovered with the steepness of the roof  a ladder was required to be laid upon the pitch to enabling him to reach the throws of the gables, not a secure experience and somewhat  time consuming,  but once again innovation coming to mind.

 Gary again approaching  Steve Miller, this time asking about  borrowing the company’s forklift for a couple of hours Saturday afternoon, explaining he wanted to use it to reach and paint the gables on the roof of his house, Steve looked somewhat puzzled but said  he didn’t have a problem with it.   With a 48 x 40 pallet as a platform, the forklift in position all that was needed was someone to pull the lift control lever raising him to the proper height,  with some thought a answer was found.   Five-year old Robert having been diligently watching his Dad’s preparations,  Gary sitting the young protegé in the operators seat,  providing the astute youngster on how to operate the lift and the forks forward movement levers.   His young son,  apprehensive at first,  but then acknowledging he could do it, the confident Robert sitting at the controls, following dad’s directions enabling the levers when told, Gary acquainting  the reaches of the second floor gable.   The resolute Robert  beaming with accomplishment, the residence endowed with two effervescent coats of white paint.  The house now somewhat more presentable Jan able to host a Sunday night Bible Study & Singing.

Automotive Centerpiece….#169 (80’s)

July 22, 2016
69 Chevy with a tractor ansel cab window.

69 Chevy with a tractor Ansel cab window.

The acquisition of the 1979 Chrysler New Yorker for Jan wasn’t without adversity,  its disposition wasn’t always amiable for transporting the many boxes containing her ceramic endeavors to the sales events. The 1950 Dodge Pickup having been christened to assist as a means of transportation which was satisfactory until the weather turned detrimental with a forecast of rain.  Gary coming to the conclusion that a search for a more applicable transportation was in order,  the beckoning being answered by Gary’s friend,  Ron Zahtner who just happened to acquired a 1969 Chevy Cargo Van from his younger brother Chad in lieu of payment for a financial allowance.  Ron having no need for the Van was more than willing to part with it.   The two coming to a conditional agreement, Gary offering Ron $250 for the van but the transaction would have to wait until he could sell the Dodge.   Gary’s  trust in Ron was absolute,  having no reason to doubt his pronouncement of the soundness of van.   The Chevy was  powered by a 327 cubic inch large-bore, shorter stroke V8,  a mainstay for the Corvette in years past,  the endowed engine occupying a cab placement between two bucket front seats,  no other seating prevailing in the van’s shell encasements.   Its inner appearance causing some apprehension, Ron not noted for his attentiveness to neatness,  the cargo area of the transport sporting several old tires and wheels along with miscellaneous used car parts, Ron volunteering that they were in the van when his brother parked it.

Dan Luthi & 50 Dodge

Dan Luthi & 50 Dodge

The Dodge's new home.

The Dodge’s new home.

With the agreement to buy van concluded, that afternoon  Gary placed a for sale notice in the rear window of the Dodge stationed curbside at the Service Company and within an hour Dan Luthi approached Gary inquiring about the vehicles sales outlay.  Dan,  the owner of a wheat and cattle farm on the old Gerlane Rd north and west of Hazelton making a declaration, the old Dodge pickup was just what he needed for running fences.  Gary having given little thought to a price for the Dodge, keeping in mind Ron’s asking $250 for the van, a wild supplication came to mind,  how about $500  and to his amazement Dan Luthi reached for his checkbook addressing a check for the $500, a testament of value to the 50 Dodge still having a life finding a secure home with a new owner.   Gary somewhat sadden to see the dodge go, he would miss his reliable friend and companion.

A 2 seat cargo van now a 8 person passenger van

A 2 seat cargo van now a 8 person passenger van

 Gary was impressed, the 327 cubic inch engine was everything Ron had said it was, but the new owner realized he had his work cut out for him having already pictured what was planned.  The first order of business was a journey to Alva Oklahoma auto salvage, finding two thee passenger  front bench seats from two antiquated cars available.  With the seats fastened to the floor in the rear of the van, the two patron vehicle was  now an eight passenger convenience and still having an ample rear storage area. The enclosed van with its windowless double side doors was not very desirable from the two rear seated passengers point of view.  Gary applying an innovative idea to provide enlightenment, the Van needing an aperture better known as a window to observe the scenic surroundings when seated in the rear two seats.   Amongst the overgrown weeds on the west side of the Jack’s Ford building was an area, dissuaded with old tractor remnants, amongst the rusted remains was the relics of some Ansel cabs.  Ansel a well-known add-on windowed enclosed cab manufacturer for the older open-air  tractors included the John Deere 10 and 20 series tractors.  The inward opening Ansel cab window and  frame being bolted to the cab, Gary finding the framed and window easily removed, evaluating the windows application for his recently acquired van.   A metal-cutting blade saber saw finding use on  the driver-side panel of the van rendering an opening for the Ansel produced window.  Bolting and sealing the frame with its safety glass window in place, the provisional application ready to provide a panoramic view for those seated.    A further enhancement to the van having been decided upon a visit to Hood Lumber Company,  the acquisition of wood paneling to address the interior walls with metal screws able to adhere the opulent panels to the side panels metal joist.  Gary questioning Dale Hood if he had any old carpet remnants that he could use for the Chevy’s floor,  Dale once discovering the purpose of the paneling and the carpet relinquished a blue remnant at no cost.  The once quotient van,  now a formidable centerpiece of accomplishment,  the weeks of resounding labor fruitful,  a final added crowning achievement,  Gary installing a used AM-FM radio and mounting a six speaker sound system.

A very Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas

Unbeknownst to many in the community,  Gary had come to recognize that Miller in many respects was accommodating and generous to his employees,  one being,  allowing them to purchase the company merchandize at cost and with a retail mark-up of  40% it was a benefit.   The Christmas season having arrived,  Steve funding a holiday company party for the employee’s and their family and besides a token Christmas bonus check each was provided both a turkey and ham.   Gary never giving much thought to how the seasonal bonus check amounts were determined assuming that the sales and service departments were the real income generating source and were rewarded as such.  This was Gary’s first Christmas in a managerial position,  the acknowledgement of a Merry Christmas being accorded by Steve distributing  Christmas cards containing a bonus check.   Opening the envelope expecting a $35 check as in the past, Gary was taken back, an aphonic reaction not expecting what he found, a $500 check,  it would be a Merry Christmas.

Destined To Mirror……………..#170 (80’s)

July 20, 2016
A pair of outlaws

A pair of outlaws

Gary discovering although the two sibling were a year apart one would have thought they were destined to mirror the footsteps of the other in the pursuing their academic travel but not thus far in life. Roberts first introduction to school was abrasive,  he experienced a chastisement from his kindergarten teacher,  Sally Forester,  an involvement in a jostling action taking place in class.  The newly accredited students  in line for an activity,  finding a disturbance among the six-year olds,  Robert accused of the instigation,  the son of a local church minister making the acquisition,  a notification finding Jan traversing to the school,  the matter being resolved.   Sandi’s advent in her school debut not nearly as climactic as Roberts,  her luscious disposition, always amiable and attentive to those around her, finding a total acceptance from her classmates.

A Stateline Crafts visitor

A Stateline Crafts visitor

It was a normal winter Saturday afternoon,  the temperature finally accomplishing the 32 degree level,  the sun basking the south side of the residence with its warmth,  Jan having fired the large ceramic greenware kiln in the garage.   Gary stepping outside the craft shop door adjacent to the garage noticing a gray haze emitting from the garage aperture.   Approaching and opening the door,  he was immediately confronted with an intense blanket of smoke, a sensing of heat and a reflected glow of flames.   Hurrying back inside the house alerting  Jan to call the fire department,  the garage was on fire.  Returning and opening the  garage side door entrance, unable to observe because of the dense smoke, dropping to floor level he could perceive flames being emitted from burning boxes across the expanse on the far wall.   Without hesitation he traversed the distance to where a garden hose was connected to the side of the house,  a prayer that the hose was no longer frozen from the overnight temperature.  Addressing the gate valve and dragging the stiff outlay to the garage door, turning on the nozzle his prayers being answered, kneeling beneath the layer of smoke  he proceeded to spray the inflamed containers,  encapsulating them with a mist of water.  The sirens announcing the arrival of the Kiowa volunteer fire department, Roger Robinson evoking a large fire hose toward the open side door. Gary immediately arresting his entrance,  asserting him not to employ the high pressure hose as it would cause havoc with the stored ceramic greenware yet to be fired.  The smoke beginning to clear, Roger and several others of the fire department entering the scene of what could have been, accessing that the fire was out.  It was only then that Gary realized what he had done besides spraying the flames, he had unconsciously went over on a wet floor to the still firing 60 amp kiln and shut it off,  thankful he didn’t acquaint 240 volts.  On closer inspection it was decided that the kiln sparked the fire.  Its station in the garage was kept totally free from flammable items, apparently there was an electrical malfunction that provided a high energy arc, sending a charge across the width of the garage causing the boxes containing ceramic items stored there to ignite.  Gary discovering the tell-tale signs of an arcing heating element, a trip to Wichita for parts,  the kiln quandary soon found its production life back in operation.

Family life having adjudicated a quotient aptitude in the rural town,  the  epoch of the everyday having settled into a normalcy,  Robert and Sandi’s school attendance finding  the Willson residence during the day no longer burgeoning with young ones.   Jan’s Stateline Crafts having reached the pinnacle of success and the acquired Apostolic Christian Church housekeeping positions that Gary and Jan shared were catharsis applications.  The twice per week normal services and other attendance necessitated hours of engagement, Gary primarily responsible for the care of the sanctuary and  the total vacuuming of the remaining area of the church.  He was thankful for some forethought,  because besides a normal vacuum sweeper, the church having been constructed with two central closeted vacuum system with hose outlets stationed throughout. Marvin Ott,  the principal owner and president  of the Bank of Kiowa,  also a Brother in faith with the Apostolic Church, posting a notice in the Kiowa News for a bank teller position.  Jan reasoning, with both Robert and Sandi now in school, her job as a stay-at-home  mom  for the most part had come to a conclusion, deciding to enter the pool of applicants for the opening at the bank and welcomed as a new employee.

Bank of Kiowa

Bank of Kiowa

Gary’s completion of his fourth harvest season at Kiowa Service,  finding a meridian having been reached with the apex of combine sales starting to decline.   A surprising new developments was apprehended, Larry Foster the service manage being replaced, although portrayed as a mutual agreed upon resignation, it was questionable.  Larry wasn’t the only change to come about,  Gary being asked to recede from his parts management position,  Steve Miller soliciting an experienced parts person from the John Deere dealership in Wichita who resided in Wellington, the new person to have a dual purpose for the move to Kiowa.  Steve McCreary would assume the parts department managerial position and he and his wife Tudy were to open a Mexican restaurant in the recently closed Daylight Donuts building.   Gary finding Steve a very personable, good nature and laid back person, portraying himself not as a boss or supervisor, but a  fellow worker to help alleviate some of the  burden of the parts department.   Gary discovering working with Steve an acceptable experience, no longer having the responsibility of the lassitude of endless paperwork and oversight of the inventory.  His three years, two harvest tenures in management was an applicable learning experience and he didn’t feel slighted at being replaced, it was more of a promotion since there was no change in his pay check.

Conejo's in Kiowa

Conejo’s in Kiowa

The opening of Cornejos’ restaurant found it resembling a Taco establishment rather than a purveyor of Mexican cuisine.  Steve’s wife Tudy, a member of the Conejo family,  an implied prosperous  name in Wichita,  the owners of a very large and successful demolition and trash transporting concern, plus financing several family own Mexican restaurants.   Gary questioning his own perception of events,  it was well known that Steve Miller had financed the purchase of the house that Steve, Tudy and their two children  occupied, but in all likelihood it was part of the contract for their relocation.   Needless to say there were always those spreading  rumors of seeing Miller and Tudy together,  Gary chalking it up to small town residual chatter because of some of Steve Miller’s past notoriety and indiscretion .   The advent of  Cornejo’s  was an overnight success,  Tudy having a keen business sense having managed a family establishment in Wellington.  Conejo’s in their rise to prominence promoted a causality, having an undesirable effect on the Dairy Bar, the only other fast food endowment in Kiowa,  a concern being evoked that its operation would desist,  the rumor becoming fact,  its closure inevitable.  With the passing of time the real world persisted and the newness of Conejos tapered off,  returning  like a Phoenix, the Dairy Bar took flight again,  the hamburger and ice cream parlor opening with new management, Monty Blunk and Family, Gary concluding that the surrounding world wasn’t  changing, but evolving (more…)

Discharging It’s Raiment……….#171 (80’s)

July 18, 2016
Mother Nature making her presence known

Mother Nature making her presence known to Kiowa

It was a preharvest extravaganza more than an open house, members of the local farming community and others from a distance attaining a presence,  many ferried in thru the avionics of  Steve Miller’s  Cessna 172.   The quantum staff of the Service Company petitioned to participate, each employee assigned as a spokesman in some capacity.   A capacious amount of comestibles,  roast beef,  ham,  a diversity of condiments,  soft drink refreshments,  iced beer acquainting voluminous tubs and a more potent variety of bottled oblation established in the employee’s appurtenant better know as the break room.   The two structured shop buildings encompassing  14,000 sq. ft.,  petitioned to provide stations of presentation for a multiple of John Deere productions including the complete line of 40 series tractors, the 7720 and colossal 8820 combine  with its reaching 30 ft. wheat harvesting header.   Displays of plows,chisels, drills, the 346 baler and the new 8300 drill,  a shop employee commissioned at each station  with literature in hand,  answering the inquisitive questions.   It was John Deere Day at Kiowa Service Company.

4 wheel drive 8640

All wheel drive 8640

The distant rumbling of mother nature was perceived within the two metal fabricated buildings  but with little fanfare or acknowledgement the farming guest in attendance absorbed in the celebration of the gala event.   The intonation of the gathering storms rain could be heard striking the metal canopied roof,  at first a gentle patter of sound,  then an increasing intensiveness,  the resonance of thunder beginning to echo an increasing presence.   Still the ambiguous group displayed an unconcern,  then a change in plangency,  a pinging sound, then another,  the sound of hail striking the metal covering aloft,  lightly at first,  then growing in magnitude,  a noticeable vocal silence from the assembly as the volume of sound increased,  a concern starting to evolve.   Gary standing among the guest, perceiving a comment,  “these hailstorms are of short duration and will soon pass.”   The intensity increased,  the reverberating sound within the metal structure reaching a fervent pitch,  then exclaimed  a fury,  the vigor of the sound asphyxiating normal conversation.   Gary struck with the magnitude of  sound,  his curiosity abounding,  approached the outside door,  with its opening, discovering the pelting hail blanketing the ground, up to two inches in depth.  Then an eerie calming silence,  except for the rumble of the thunder as the waning precarious storm continued to journey, another destination awaiting its destructive ambiance.   The faces of those in attendance,  a silent reflection of consternation,  an aura of uncertainty,  the encroachment of wheat harvest was soon to commence but now a wonderment.   The once festive occasion  digressing to one of solemnization,  finding an exiting of the local participants,  their flight to assess the storms adversity to their crops.

A farmers nightmare

A farmers nightmare

The battered wheat a testament to mother natures fury

The battered wheat a testament to mother natures fury

Jan’s parents and her Aunt and Uncle Charles Terry having left Kiowa to meet with her Aunt and Uncle Melvin Weyenth from Illinois, the three couple to traversing  to  New York State  to visit  Lewis County and the first Apostolic Christian Church  founded by the Benedict  Weyeneth in 1847.  Included in this visit would be the opportunity to partake of  a scenic journey to address the water expressway, the famous Erie Canal.  The day following the storm, Gary having heard reports of many losing their wheat to the onslaught of the hail, thought it best to drive out and assess Buds quarter section.  A concerned Gary and Jan with the children in tow driving the Stateline road approaching the Murrow’s farm,  Bud having  seeded a 120 acres in wheat in the old home place location.   On the way out the family observing the neighboring farms and the  havoc inflicted on the already budding out wheat giving testament to its devastation.  Continuing on,  a hope for supplication but the view not promising, stopping embarking from the car finding a field of despair.    Venturing into the maze of broken wheat stalks the ground laden with the remains of a prosperous crop, a notice of  scrutiny confirming the worst.  Gary ascertaining the path of the storm  had discharged its raiment  paralleling the Stateline   affecting  an area five-miles on either side of the boundary,  the Murrow family wasn’t alone with the storms adversity as mother nature plays no favorites.   Later in the week Jan’s folks called to notify them that they were on their way home,  Jan informing them of the storm.  Once home,Bud like many others wrote off his crop as a total loss,  but with his crop insurance it allowed some redemption providing a start for next year’s harvest.

A Scouting Experience………………..#172 (80’s)

July 16, 2016
Robert in Uniform

Robert in Uniform

Robert having made a decision, the young man aspiring  to become a Cub Scout.   Gary recalling his venture into Scouting,  according a benediction,  but also remembering the encumbrance  of attendance and participation,  sometimes not always a convenience when other contingencies presented themselves to a nine year old.   The attire of a uniform always presenting a presentation of self-esteem regardless of the person’s perspective.   The Kiowa Den meetings being embraced in the Scout Hut,  The hut  located across the street from the Grade School  on 10th St., the upstairs utilized by the older Boy Scouts,  the basement pavilion relegated for the younger Cubs.   Keith Hoffman,  a diesel mechanic at Kiowa Service, in leau of a Den Mother abiding as the tinctured Den Father,  Gary having volunteered as assistant Den luminary, Keith having a son, Danny the same age as Gary’s son Robert.  The young cadre ready to accomplishing the Cub regiment of scouting beginning with the rank of Bobcat, followed by attaining the requirements in the Wolf and Bear Manuals and the final  accolade,  a Webelos accomplishment,  the prerequisite before advancing into the plaudits of mature scouting..

The Scout Hut across from the Grade School

The Scout Hut across from the Grade School

Gary finding the  Cub Scout guidance was a gratification,  the communion with the younger understudy providing a forbearance of a previous era,  the adventurous ambitions of an insouciant time of life,  his son Robert prevailing with an attitude for accomplishment.  A program to encourage elective projects understandably finding the association of boys not very innovative when left to a decision,  parental guidance was found to be the operative.   Gary recognizing Robert’s  undecidedness on choosing an project,  likewise  he and Keith realized that most of these first undertakings would probably be parental ideas.  With Roberts indecision Gary presented a proposal, having introduced Robert and his sister to the realm of the night sky utilizing a five inch reflector telescope he had purchased through a spiegel catalog.  Submitting his novel idea,  a constellation sphere of the night sky projected by inserting strings of miniature Christmas tree light thru a blackened cork framed board,  the figurative  outline of the sky’s well known constellations illuminated in a darken room.  The two proceeding with this novel idea using illustrations from a star map,  the miniature lights substituting for the stars. The Den displaying their projects, Robert’s project was by far the most unique.

A pinewood model race car

A pinewood model race car

A second opportunity for the young impresario’s of the Cub Scout accumulation,  a project more attuned to the Den members  approval,  a 12 x 4 x 4 inch block of  pinewood to be carved in the shape of a racing car and fitted with the packaged provided axles and wheels.   The finished product enabling the boys to enter a competition,  entertaining a raised platform drag-strip,  the Cubs releasing the sculptured models in paired contention, the models racing  down the elongated runway,  concluding the fastest car in an elimination race.  Each participant allowed two attempts, Robert first competitive appearance a loss, taking his disappointment in hand ready for  the second performance. This time  finding his car finishing first, Gary having applied a coating of graphite to the axles,  enhancing the model racing expenditures mobility.  Robert’s car continuing excel, the over-all winner, Gary recognizing that at that age acknowledgement is important but fleeting.

Keith Hoffman and the Kiowa Cub Scouts

Keith Hoffman and the Kiowa Cub Scouts

Gary was apprehensive about the overnight field outing the Den was about to experience.  He and Robert to  journey a mile west of town,  then 3 miles north to a camp ground on the Medicine River,  an area employed by the Scouts.   Arriving they found Jerry McNamara,  the Kiowa District Scout Leader in uniform and expediting the campgrounds provisions, three large tents and a number of smaller canvas shelters providing the overnight accommodations.   Roger Robinson,  his son Paul  a Scout, setting up a spit mounted already partially cooked pig on hand- operated rotisserie, the pork endeavor  final dispatch to be completed over a grill by the ordained scouts.  Gary having just returned from an expeditionary journey exploring the Medicine River, when his attention was drawn by a commotion originating from a group of Cubs in one of the tents,  the attention-getting sounds  deserving an investigation.   Entering the tent, looking about,  suspiciously according its contents,  Gary apprehending a magazine fold emitting from the sleeping bag of John Thomas.  The Cubs having exited the tent, Gary not surprised at his find, especially among the ascension of inquisitive boys  when billeted together in the remote countryside, the encompassing  magazine in question,  Playboy, the adult retreating outside, ceding his find as undiscovered.

Gary concluding: The world would be a far better place if all mankind would adhere to this oath : On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my Country and obey the Scout Law to be: Trustworthy, Loyal , Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

The Seeds Of Lamentation……….#174 (80’s)

July 12, 2016
Bud Murrow a vintage 95 owner

Bud Murrow a vintage 95 owner

An unexpected change,  the advent of the new service manager for the Kiowa Service Company, Larry Foster giving notice, the communal being that he desired to go in business for himself, the clandestine reason being a discordant with owner Steve Miller’s posture on warranties and other irregularities.  Gary having experienced Miller’s pressure to apply a warranty resolution whenever possible or even  manufacture a possibility, Larry’s refusal to be part of this deception an added reason for his departure.  The Service Company was introduce to Howard, a middle age service department manager whose was previously employed by a John Deere Dealership in Norman Oklahoma.  Gary as well as many of the Service Company employee’s puzzled over how Steve Miller came about finding Howard, but then again the same could be said about his hiring of Steve McCreary.  Like McCreary, Howard immediately sought  means to establishing permanent residency  he and his wife  purchasing and preparing a vacant lot on the corner S. 9th and Robinson St.  for a double wide 24 x 52 ft. modular home.

Harvest - a family affair

Harvest – a family affair

 Gary’s father-in-law Bud Murrow was prompted by his family to engage in something he had never attempted before, cut his own wheat, the only problem was he didn’t have a combine.  Bud in the past along with other members of his wife family having joined together and hiring someone to harvest the Roth family sections of land.  Bud giving in to the wishes of his wife and daughters approaching John Miller about renting or buying a used combine to harvest his quarter section of wheat.  John recently having  traded for a vintage 1960’s 95 combine that was in working order but in need of some minor repairs and a engine head gasket.  The two coming to agreement at a nominal price for what Gary thought might be the Murrows first and last time in harvesting their own wheat.   Gary having some concern with his younger brother-in law Shawn Johnson who was working for Bud’s construction company at the time taking a quasia part in the repairs.    The harvest event resembled more of a picnic than a serious harvesting endeavor, a family affair with the children and grandchildren all taking turns riding in the combine as it slowly progressed with its cutting endeavour thru the 120 acres.   The wheat hauling truck duties shared among the Murrow daughter Gayle Robb and son-in-law Shaw,  Gary unable to participate, his duty at the parts counter during the harvest weeks stretched into sixteen hour days.

The 95 manufactured 1958 - 1969

The 95 manufactured 1958 – 1969

   Gary’s wife Jan entering Kiowa  Service  looking perplexed, it was nearing the final day for the old 95 combine to complete its appointed task.  Jan evoking that the combine had stopped running,  Shawn spending several hours trying to remedy its problem but to no avail.   Jan with a look of hopelessness  presented a question,  “could you do something?   Gary immediately thought of his friend Ron Zahtner but he was on a service call and unavailable.   A walk thru the shop area finding Keith Hoffman,  Jim Pulliam and Danny Callison,  all three having returned from service calls.   Gary relating Bud Murrow predicament,  mentioning that Shawn Johnson had attempted to resolve the problem without success,   the three all shaking their head, acknowledging they knew Shawn.  Keith volunteered to make the short journey to Bud’s acreage, then Denny added his voice,  followed by Jim,  all three would participate.   Keith’s service pickup was full,  the three mechanics,  Gary notifying Craig Brattin he would be out of the building telling Jan that hope was on its way before joining the others.  The short excursion to the Murrow’s stateline  farm accomplished,  the three journeyman mechanics discovering a solace 95 combine sitting in the field with a sulking  Shawn.  Johnson giving a summary of the circumstances and what he thought the problems was, the three addressing  the situation.  Jim cranking the engine,  Keith and Denny on top accessing the engine problem,  within what seemed like minutes a resolution was determined, with some skilled adjustments the vintage harvester came to life,  once again ready to fulfill its appointed task.  The task completed, Gary posing a questioned to three about submitting a work order,  all three just smiled,  “tell Bud the service-call is on us”.

An inherent responsibility of the parts department was ensure the defective part for warranty were properly tagged, stored and the appropriate paperwork filed with John Deere for reimbursement, the work order  billing for replacing the part being a function of the service department.  With the hiring of Howard, Gary soon realized defective parts and failures no longer under warranty were documented as aspiring from tractors and combines still  certified as under warranty.  Howard boasting that Steve Miller approached him with a very innovative way to boaster an hour meter reading on a leased combine by  wiring the radio to activate the hour meter when turned on. It was discerned that many harvesters utilized youths to wash and detail the combines when changing clients and with the youth listening to the radio, a registering of more leasing hours.   Battery warranties also became a concern, the John Deere warranty representative, better known as the Block Man  would visually inspect the batteries for warranty,  marking them with red spray paint.  Gary observing a service department employee removing the marking paint with a high pressure hose enabling the battery to be submitted again at a later date for warranty.  It was rumored Howard special talent was one that paid big dividends,  the reversing of a hour meter on a used tractors or combine, done after closing hours so never witnessed, but silently confirmed by previous owners.   Gary confronted Howard about his warranty concern,  it’s miss-application approaching the realm of theft, and at the least representing a defrauding of John Deere,  the Service Manager’s explanation being,  he was only complying with Steve Miller’s directive

Gary’s consternation about the warranties and misgivings of  Steve Miller’s directives began to sojourn on his conscience.   A unanswered question discovered Gary in Steve Miller’s office,  the parts person presenting his assertion of the impropriety of warranty exploitation.  Steve readily acknowledging it’s presence, but rationalized with an explanation,  gesturing to the small utility tractors positioned across the street,  imparting,  “Kiowa Service having never sold a single one, but they remain”.   Gary, understood the smaller tractor application was not marketable in a wheat farming community, but listening to the owners accordance.   Steve continued,  “John Deere requires I floor-plan a number of their products,  whether they are marketable or not and as a dealer I am given no choice.   Floor planing equipment that I can’t sell cost me money and I am only recouping my loss of income from John Deere.”    Gary acknowledging  Steve Miller’s annotation,  noting that his justification was not acceptable,  the age-old adage coming to mind, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.  Exiting the office discerning that the seeds of lamentation have been planted, the fruit’s of emergence soon to flourish and the  commission of righteous employment to be adjudged.

Music’s Last Hurrah…………….#175 (80’s)

July 10, 2016
Kiowa Supper Club

Kiowa Supper Club

Music wasn’t vanquished from Gary’s sentience of life upon inception to the rural community of Kiowa,  although dormant he still retained all the necessary band equipment to engage in a piano bar or bandstand presentation.  In Gary’s vision, Kiowa was disemboweled of resident performing musicians with exception of Roger Powell, who having in the past recorded and complimented professionals, but having receded from the experience.   The only establishments displaying music in the contexts of a Juke Box was the Uptown Recreation and the Supper Club.  The Uptown Recreation was  a beer serving pool room,  providing sandwiches and accessories,  positioned on 6th St., better known to the local town  inhabitants as Bruce’s,  Bruce Koblitz  the enunciated proprietor.  Entering Bruce’s  domain one is immediately subjected to an atmosphere permeated with cigarette smoke,  centered in the room is two pool tables positioned opposite a long bar addressed with stools.  Lined up on a shelf behind the bar, gallon containers of pickled pigs feet and dills,  rack’s of various chips and adjacent to the end of the bar a small open cooking grill.  Several table with chairs fulfilled the remaining expanse, excluding a door leading to the single restroom, the juke box positioned beside it.

coors-on-tap-ovel-neon-beer-sign_giant

Gary wasn’t evoked by Bruce’s,  having discerned public taprooms of its accord in his past music provisional experiences,  but on occasion given the special circumstance he joined the other Service Company employees for pitcher of beer.  The special circumstances was an expostulation  constituted by owner Steve Miller.  Friday’s were payday at the Service Company,  the weekly checks being dispersed between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. by management,  either John or Steve Miller or when neither were available, by Sandi Palmer.   Unlike Steve who was strictly business and punctual,  good natured John Miller was not a temporal person and most Fridays was late in relinquishing the company payroll checks which for some reason got under his brother Steve’s skin.   Steve initiating an authoritative rule, if John was late with the checks he would have to provide a round of free beer at Bruce’s for all those wishing to participate..   It was soon realized one could look antecedently to an after work beer whenever John handed out checks.   Gary surmised that instead of a chastisement,  John thought it was a vindication, thoroughly enjoying the Friday convergence on Bruce’s Uptown Recreation with the employees.

Kiowa Train Station across from the Supper Club

Kiowa Train Station across from the Supper Club

 The other conception a definitive contrast, the Supper Club, occupying the remnants of an old hotel on Railroad Avenue,  bordering the Sante Fe Railroad tracks,  across from the defunct relic of the once prestige’s  Kiowa Railway Station.  The Supper Club,  a unique dining and lounge facility with a full service kitchen, dining room and special catering area, the separate lounge component opening in the afternoons.  The regal upstairs hotel accommodations a thing of the past having been obstructed and  excluded long ago,  Lynn and Gerva Hargett the amicable title-holding host.  Upon entering  the main entrance,  a small anteroom with restrooms and two entryways, the first an emergence into the lounge and  to the right the dining room entrance.    Encompassing the ante-room the door to the dining area an entry into to a table and chair dining expanse, another entry to access,  a large private dining and meeting room addition.  The Supper Club not an atmosphere of sophistication,  but one of small town contentment. The lounge radiating a warm but not overly plush atmosphere, a small dance floor and jukebox adjacent to entry,  both the sides of the room adorned with booths, the center section with tables, the far end of the room hosting the bar and stools.  The Supper Club and Lounge not an overt  atmosphere of sophistication,  but one of small town contentment.

Larry Swonger

Larry Swonger

Doug Swonger

Doug Swonger

Gary having retain his band equipment, it laying dormant stored away in his residence, discovering an opportunity to resurrect it from it dormancy.  Gary and Larry Swonger visiting with the Supper Club owners, Lynn and Gwen Hargett about the possibility of them entertaining at the Club Lounge.   Gary recalling his musical background in Kiowa,  his first acquaintance 9 years earlier, Judy Jantz hiring his band for the Chamber of Commerce Labor Day Dance,  appearing as The Traditions.

Gary visiting with Larry Swonger at work about forming a trio consisting of Larry on guitar and vocal lyrics and his entertaining MC antics and bad jokes.   Larry’s high school son Doug to entertain the percussion, a hidden talent in his own right awaiting discovery.   Gary’s again acquainting the  Fender Rhodes,  affording the bass octave and keyboard extracting its pronounced musical deliverance, the trio’s inaugural presentation according an acceptable performance, the Hargett’s impressed,  soliciting other engagements.  Gary, Larry and Doug continuing with  several weekend engagements,  Gary providing an added attraction inviting Bob Wallace and Jerry Willis from Oklahoma City to reunite with him on the bandstand for a nostalgic evening.

Better Midler - The Rose

Bette Midler – The Rose

Iva Beth's handwritten words to The Rose

Iva Beth’s handwritten words to The Rose

Once a musician always a musician even when being sequestered.  On occasion Gary would slip off to the Supper Club on a Friday or Saturday night, there was something inherent about the atmosphere of a well addressed nightclub.  The 19 year association with the realm of Wurlitzer and Seeburg having not only provided a means of livelihood but a bonding with a profession that was shared by notables throughout history.  The Supper Club sporting an upright piano placed off to the side of the dance floor, the musician when asked demonstrated that the eighty-eight keys still retained its functional heritage. It was a quiet evening at the Supper Club, the far and few between after dinner patrons who ventured into the beverage half of the Supper Club having left.  Gary having been asked to play a couple of songs was in process of leaving when he noticed that  his brother-in-law Shawn Johnsons mother Iva Beth and another lady entering seating themselves in a booth.   Iva approaching the piano asking the musician if he knew the Bette Midler song The Rose,  Gary responding  that he had seen the movie and was familiar with the song and then adding,  if you can sing it, I can play it.  Thinking that the comment would end the conversation, but he was wrong, Iva saying okay, I’ll be right back, I have the words at home.  Iva returning with a handwritten note pad with the words written on it.  Gary recalling the unusual two note right hand intro to the song, Iva beginning “Some say love it is a river that drowns the tender reed” the rest all fell into place, the voice and the piano blending as one, Gary having accompanied many stellar professional vocalist in the past, but this was totally astonishing,  Iva was The Rose.  The musician somewhat mesmerized by what had just transpired, bidding Iva Beth and her friend goodbye, but before leaving asking a favor of Iva,  could he have her handwritten words to the song, what wasn’t said was,  it would be kept as a remembrance of a rose.

Steve Miller's residence

Steve Miller’s residence

Jerry Willis & Gary

Jerry Willis & Gary

It was by invitation only,  the provincial Kiowa farmers not solicited,  Steve Miller extending a welcome to clientele from surrounding states and locations, providing the availability of his Cessna 172 as transportation.  The celebrated event as appreciation of their sponsorship in his John Deere business endeavors, but an attendance dismissal administered to the local community.  Steve very much aware of Gary’s music and band background presented an overture asking if he could provide the music for the 75 people at the upcoming event at his residence.  The petitioned musician placing a phone call to Oklahoma City,  questioning if the guitarist/sax player and friend Jerry Willis would make the drive for  a Saturday night appearance in Kiowa.   With Jerry’s arrival, Gary, the Fender Rhodes,  Kustom Amps and PA , also having enlisted Larry & Doug Swonger to round out the group were ardent for an early evening presentation. The h’orderves,  cocktails,  beverages of every imaginable genus flowing,  served in the outdoor area adjoining Miller capacious indoor pool.   A curiosity beginning to prevail, Gary cognizance that there was no provision for a meal, but that was soon to change.   Steve Miller,  approaching the entertainment asking to use the microphone.  All expecting a flourishing announcement for the attendance of the loyal customers but instead there was  a pronouncement. Steve relating that  dinner would be served at the Supper Club,  the Clubs complete menu at the guest disposal,  compliment of their host.  Steve Continued enumerating a petition from the Supper Club’s, Lynn Hargett, Lynne requesting the assemblage interval their  convergence, so as not to overwhelm the kitchen and  to better serve the entourage.   Gary finding the Steak and Lobster Tail impressive.

The enjoyable evening accomplished,  Gary’s band equipment once again finding solace in its storage capacity,  making  a decision to bid a farewell to his trusted friends, the provisional giver of captivating musical memories, the enabling contributing to years of fiscal accord.   An appropriation,  the quondam  appliance of his antecedent avocation, an evanescent inheritance to be bestowed to his eldest son Scott some day,  a family passing of the melodious baton,  the Steve Miller presentation  his music’s last hurrah.