Archive for February, 2011

Trustees: A Recollection from the 60s by Don McCormick

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

The future has not been what I expected it would be. It has unfolded without revealing much. It has been a disappointment. What was beautiful in the beginning has slowly decayed. It has not been tomorrow’s bread, today. It has been sandstone easily reduced by the flowing water.

I assume I will not pass away. Opposition to continuous life is meaningless and requires no expression. A daisy, a stone, a lick of fire, a wash of murky water, a spot of blood, all these things that change need no voice. They will not be and they need no trustee. I see the wind. I do not see the dead.

I listened to the parish priest tell his people that they fall short in everything. What they care about: the rules, the way they manage, the appearance of things, the value of merchandise, their religious feelings, are small things. He said, “Christ is perfect and his lesson is for us is to love each other.” Christ, as I recall, did not say he was perfect. Instead, he said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” Christ was the trustee who descended into hell, the hell where trustees have to go, even if they do not return.

In the hallway of the school, by my locker, on my knees, my head in my lap, one arm shielding my face, and one hand over the back of my neck, I waited on a flash of light and a strong wind, but it never came. America was not bombed. Instead, America bombed Asia and the Middle East. Looking back, the trustees have made bad decisions about war and economics, about life and death, about us and other people.

The last paved street in my neighborhood marked the end of the white town. The negro kids on the other side of the white town, in a place that was either deep mud or blowing dust, took buses across town to where the other pavement ended. They were taken to schools where they learned to play basketball and were told that the main trustee had returned; but, he had not. It was a lie.

Maudy ironed for my mother and she made us sweet potato pies. Her family lived on a dirt road. She thought the main trustee was coming back, but she never said it. It wasn’t her place to talk about such things.

My grandmother liked Ike. My father liked Stevenson. Maudy didn’t say whom she liked. She didn’t vote. A group of trustees returned from hell and took charge of the military-industrial complex and they even scared Ike. So, Ike played golf. He had directed enough killing. Sherm took care of the details.

My father forgot the election. He made drill bits, played shuffleboard, drank enough beer, and improved his golf game. Mom continued to talk. I played second base, but I couldn’t hit. My uncle took dope. Maudy still lived on a dirt road, but she found hope: a white settlement had been built on the other side of her town and the city had to connect the commercial routes. Garbage trucks could not travel on dirt roads.

I only cried because of my batting average. I should have known what the trustees were doing and I could have cried for mankind. They used asbestos to make fireproof schools and clothes. I wanted an asbestos suit so that I could be a fireman. The Kents were all firemen and Bubba, even though he was small for his age, could hit. Some of the Kents died of cancer. It was very expensive to remove the asbestos insulation from the fire station. The suits were much easier to replace.

Next door to the Kents, Mr. Killian beat has wife because she hid the dirty dishes. She threw hot grease on him. Nobody interfered. The Killians bought a grocery store and moved away. Their boys, Bob and Jerry, were teen-agers before the Killians divorced. Bob was driving when he and Jerry collided with another car. Jerry was killed. They said Bob couldn’t get over it. The trustees who had returned from hell paid no attention. The military-industrial complex continued to grow. Ike was re-elected. My grandmother still liked him. My father didn’t vote. Maudy didn’t say if she voted. My mother’s father moved to South Houston because it was a union town. He was a union man and he had to be away from the Republicans. He threw Uncle Roy out of his house because Roy liked Ike. Papa liked to drink a little, but not as much as Uncle Virgil and not as much as my father.

Not many people ever see a trustee. Trustees are very hard to locate. Whenever they are appointed by a President or a Bishop, they must be credit worthy. They must not have been convicted of a felony. They must be willing to connect the commercial points of interest. They must respect their maids. They must not drink in public. Their children must not have taken dope. They must have enough property to avoid using a bondsman. They must not have been caught sleeping with a man, unless: they were in the Army, and it was necessary, and they had not had anal intercourse, and they were of the same rank. They must not have been a lawyer, but if they were, they must not continue to serve at the Bar. Their wives must not sleep with other men, but if they do, the men must be of the same rank and not overly protective of their own wives. A trustee must not talk, but if he talks, it should be about sports and foregone conclusions.

My first father-in-law, who should have been a Republican, but was not, smoked a pipe, had a reclining chair, read the letters of St. Paul, and died of testicular cancer. His widow married a dentist who didn’t smoke. Sometimes it is very hard to know what right things there are to do. Sometimes, after your children are born, that is the end of your contribution. There is no chance to go to hell and no chance to return. The smoke just swirls above your chair while you read, and a few people, every place in the world, each day, die. Not one trustee among them, not one cry for love, not one word said to save anyone.

I knew a Captain in charge of a missile base who could type better than his company clerk. I never understood why he was only a Captain. He was not very young; he appeared to be ambitious; he was intelligent; and the Army had very few people with those qualities. Maybe the Captain was not a trustee of the military-industrial complex. Maybe he had not voted for Ike. Maybe he had been convicted of a felony. Eventually, he left the Army before retirement and was replaced by a younger man who could not type and whose work had to be protected from inspections.

After the new Captain came they raised a missile on the launch pad and fired it, but it blew to pieces instead of flying. It happened more than once. It happened hundreds of times. At night, the launch crew drank beer and later they looked for women. Sometimes they were lucky, but usually they just went back to the barracks and tried to stay in their owns bunks. Sometimes the missiles would fly and new equipment would be installed and crew cut men in business suits would visit with the officers and exchange secret documents, which, once you had seen them, you would laugh.

That year, before they were many Americans in Vietnam, I met a priest who was against murder, but he did not object to smoking and martinis. He was also against fornication, but he himself was weak, so he married. He was an Anglo-Catholic. His wife also was against fornication and they had a few more common interests. If it had not been 1961, he could have continued his affair with the other priest. They had more in common and never put each other at risk, unless you consider that even though they were not Roman-Catholics they both believed in confession. However, the most important thing was that he was against murder, and he wanted everyone to have paved roads, and he wanted Maudy to be able to say how she voted, that is, if she voted. He could probably have gone to hell and returned, but he got caught up in the conventions of his time and went to England to study for his Doctorate in Theology.

There was no reason to test rats for cancer in the 60’s. There were enough humans who were looking for benefits from the trustees so that killing rodents was unnecessary. If it was chemical or electro-magnetic, people thought they should have it. The scientists say they never did it, and if they did it, it was for the common good and needed to be done and was approved by the trustees. They were not trustees; they were men who did what was necessary to save the world. Sometimes murder was necessary, but often the wrong people had to die. Justice is blind. The irony is that none of it had anything to do with the assassination of Kennedy, or the death of Marilyn Monroe, or the killing of Martin Luther King. These were acts of madmen, not acts of trustees, who are always the blameless un-indicted co-conspirators.

Johnson’s nose was too big and he liked to talk to people while he sat on his American Standard so they could smell him while he told them what to do. Bomb this, bomb that. There were too many goddamn Orientals and they were all communists and they didn’t like Ike. Maudy voted for Johnson and he paved the side streets near her house. In Georgia they debated about not allowing people to vote who had been dead for more than two years. Fortunately, for Johnson, no such legislation had been considered in Texas. The shallow river that ran through Johnson’s ranch was as deep as the thoughts of any senator or congressman in his state. There were more soldiers in Texas than in any other state and the trustees made weapons there. Everyone there liked Ike.

It was just awful that so many people died taking drugs voluntarily rather than being injected with lethal doses by doctors and nurses. No one can control people who are nuts, unless you can capture them. After that, you can only control them until they are dead. Controlling people after death takes a trustee, but trustees are hard to find.

The Meaning of Life By Don McCormick

Monday, February 7th, 2011

I watched a film in which an interviewer asked about thirty people several philosophical questions with the final question being, “What is the meaning of life?” Most of the people were not philosophers and none of the answers were very exciting to hear. The answers from the well spoken were less than a notch above a conversation you might have with a stranger on an airplane who had been placed next to you for no reason in particular.

I did lean forward each time to better hear the answers to the final question. One man, a supposed very famous writer, when asked the final question said nothing and showed no movements in his face and looked into the camera until the cameraman gave up. He must have meant that life had no meaning or like one of Shakespeare’s actors was just playing that part.

I thought about this film and decided I should ask myself that final question and then answer it in this paragraph. I think it is to survive in your biological life, to reproduce physically or by affection, to realize the interconnection and dependence of all things in and around you, to suffer and to die, thus giving up the biological stuff you have borrowed leaving just the interconnections.

I couldn’t think of anything to cry about. The ups and downs are what they are. Sometimes both make me laugh. I hope love makes me laugh and lets me die quickly.