Doc Stevens on Hard Physical Work.

Friday, August 28, 2009 6:05 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: To me, it's nothing short of amazing and a bit sad when I see how hard most of the rural Americans that I have met, have to work, just to sustain a not very lavish lifestyle.

America has many financial programmes that provide assistance, and many people take advantage of them. But, to most of the rural Americans I have met, accepting a handout is considered to be conceding defeat, and they feel that it also threatens their independence.

Over the Summer, I was able to spend part of a day at Doc and Marilyn's, and in the evening we visited some of their friends, all who are hard workers, but who have very little to show for their labours, at least in the material realm.

I asked Doc about how he felt, as he gets older, having to work so hard (mostly as a panel beater) fixing cars in his crowded home- made garage. Of course it is not air conditioned. He has an electric fan that was the ventilator in the 'loo of a government building that a friend of his remodeled (it was being tossed). Even with the stifling hot air being circulated, I know that I would not be able to last more than an hour. To be quite honest, his garage felt more like being in a giant human pizza oven. In the winter, he goes without heat, or uses a wood stove at the back of the shop, which does not heat it at all. It just takes the chill off. I cautioned Doc that as he got older, this would be a danger to his health.

Doc: Tondy, most days I can outwork a man what's twice my junior. But that aint as hard as it seems, cause them boys is gettin' older, too. It ain't like when they was twenty.

Alot of boys twice my junior is about thirty now, and they cain't work hard no more. So I can back off a little and still outwork 'em.

Tondeleo: OK, Doc, I understand... I think. You ARE admitting that you can't outwork a 20 year old, right?

Doc: Heck NO! Most of them 20 year olds, MARILYN can outwork 'em. Most of them what has been through high school aint had but one year of gym class! They get tired just THINKIN' about havin' to do real work. Most of 'em is bushed if they had to run a half mile! It ain't nothin' to outwork 'em!Marilyn 2

Now Marilyn, she been doin' serious work since before I took her in when my brother died, She makes most of them boys look like the out of shape sissies they are! She can work out here in the shop when it's a hundred degrees!

These high school graduates want air conditionin' or they can't work. They want safety goggles. Sun glasses ain't good enough. Got to have dust masks and aspirators when we is sprayin' paint - or they run outside coughin' like they's dyin. But they can smoke cigarettes and weed all day long. And they can talk half a day.

Now, me, I ain't smoke nothin. I ain't drink. I ain't standin' around battin' the breeze all day. I stay pretty fit. So it ain't nothin' when a old man can outwork most men what's twice his junior - specially if they is city boys. Now country boys is another story.

Doc Stevens: Leftovers again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 7:51 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

This is just a short post. I've been dreadfully busy and have not had the time to transcribe any of my recordings from being with Doc and Marilyn, so I am just posting this short one in order to not look like I have quit posting.

Like a lot of rural Americans, Doc and Marilyn pray before they eat. I've learnt when I am eating with rural Americans not to just begin eating when I sit down at the table. I wait of course until my host or hostess is seated and then I wait for them to either take the first bite, or bow their heads to "bless the food."

"Blessing the food" generally consists of everyone at the table bowing their head and closing their eyes while one of them will offer a prayer of thanks for the food, and asking the Lord to not let any of them get sick from eating it. Well, they don't actually SAY that, but it is inherent in the nature of the prayer. Generally these prayers are mildly poetic or prosaic.

Some of them that I have heard include:

"Thank you Lord for these here vittles. Help us to receive strength and help from them. Amen."

Others get more religious:

"Thank you, Oh Lord for this food we are about to receive. Bless it for our bodies and and bless us for your service. Amen."

Then, there is the American classic, which many American children are taught, and some adults still say with folded hands and closed eyes:

"God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our food. Amen."

After praying over the food, then it is ok to "dig in" and resume a free for all at the table.

Earlier this Summer, I was at Doc and Marilyn's for the evening meal. Marilyn had heated up several little plastic containers that had originally contained margarine, or Cool Whip (an American non dairy substitute for whipped cream). Rural Americans save these throwaway containers, and use them to store leftovers, small car parts, or eat from them as cereal bowls or soup bowls.

As Marilyn sat down, I bowed my head, waiting for her or Doc to pray. Doc picked up his fork and began to eat right out of a container of kale.

Marilyn immediately began fussing at him and rebuking him for eating unblessed food.

Doc jammed the food over into one of his cheeks and stuffed some leftover ham slices into his mouth, ignoring her the best he could.

Marilyn felt that he was truly tempting the Lord by doing this and asked what had possessed him to be eating without blessing his food.

Doc looked at me, rolled his eyes and exhaled. Then he said in an exasperated voice, "Marilyn, this is the third time we've had this here food. If the Lord ain't blessed it by NOW, He ain't GOING to."

And he kept on eating.

Doc Stevens & Cash for Clunkers and the Poor.

Thursday, August 6, 2009 5:33 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: Doc INSISTED that I post this blog right away. He was fuming, and called my mobile phone and told me to record his words and get them posted. It is about the Us Governments "Cash for Clunkers" programme, where they will allow you $4500 for your petrol guzzler, if you trade it in on a new car that uses less petrol. Then, the government has the dealership destroy the engine in the car that was traded in. That is what set Doc off.

Doc: Tondy - I am madder 'n' a one eyed cop in a constipation camp! Them desk jockeys up in the government is allowin' people $4500 for their old cars and pickups if they want to trade 'em in for somethin' what uses less gas.

OK. That's good for folks what gots good jobs, good credit and can afford full insurance, which I cain't. So it aint helpin the poor. No, it's helpin' the car companies what cain't seem to sell cars without Uncle Sam's help. Uncle Sam done give 'em all about a billion dollars each last spring so they wouldn't go out of business. But guess what? They took that money and then once they got it, they filed bankruptcy anyway! Within a couple of months! Where'd they put all that money? Them rich dudes took it.

Now here is what gets me. If you want to get $4500 for your old car DocsTruck or pickup, it's got to be on the road, tagged and insured and it's got to run good. Heck, me an' my friends is ALWAYS tryin' to keep our cars on the road, tagged and insured. That right there, aint easy for a poor man.

But here they take these cars and trucks what is RUNNIN! and is tagged and gots good tires, good exhaust on 'em, nicer than anything I have ever owned, and then guess what they do with them?


Butch's boy Ronnie told me that. OK, a Suburban was traded in. A 92 Suburban. Newer than anyone 'round here is drivin.' It had good paint on it and he said it ran good. He wanted to buy it. But guess what? This made me cry, Tondy. They took it around back, to the garage an' they made the mechanic drain all the oil out of it, and then pour in water and sand into the crankcase! Water and SAND! And that mechanic had to run that motor and rev it up til it locked up! A perfectly good 350!

He said they has done that for EVERY car what has come in, more than 80,000 of 'em! Someone ought to go to jail for that one! A whole bunch of someone's ought to go to jail.

Here poor folks without good jobs or credit is, tryin' their best to keep something on the road, and Uncle Sam is makin' the car dealers kill perfectly good cars. That is a sin against God.

Tondeleo: Well, Doc, it keeps the dealers from turning around and selling these cars back to the public...

Doc: But POOR people needs cars! We need parts for the cars we got! How about recyclin'? They makes a big deal outta recyclin up there in DC. Here is all they need to do. When the dealer gets that car traded in as a clunker, he can write the word JUNK across the title and turn that in to the MVA. Then nobody can tag that car again. It is just salvage from then on. But at least we could get parts and could recycle them. I am broken hearted, Tondy and had to get you to put this on that innerweb so the people in cyrilspace can read it and stop this mess. Good night.

Tondeleo: Good night, Doc.

Doc Stevens and Big Dave on the Cycle of Poverty: Alcoholism, Drugs, Drug Dealers and Poverty.

5:01 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Doc: OK. A lot of poor folks does drugs, drinks too much and gambles and some steal when they can. People with money say them things is what causes poverty. I aint sayin' that. Those things is traps for the poor and keeps 'em oppressed.

Big Dave: Doc's right, Tondy. Rich people does drugs and poor people does drugs, but it is different. Poor folks are on the edge and have no room for making mistakes. Rich people do drugs for fun or to feel better just like poor people do. But rich people get their doctors to subscribe the pills for them. The cops aren't gonna hassle rich people because they got lawyers, and nothing is going to happen to them anyway. Rich people mostly don't go to jail.

Doc: And ain't all people does things for the same reasons. Some just aint know no better. Like when I was a boy, my daddy gave me beer since long as I can remember. Maybe two or 3 years old. I didn't like it at first an' he would put salt in it to take off the edge. He told my mama that it canceled out the alcohol. I didn't never like beer too much, but it made him and his friends laugh so I would do it. And it made me feel like a little man. They gave me cigarettes too, Tondy. My uncles smoked reefer and when I was maybe 12 they would offer it to me.

I aint never tasted whiskey til Big Dave & Doc StevensI was maybe 12 or 13. I took one drink and I liked it. It just felt right in my mouth and felt like a old friend. I just liked it alot. Drinkin' runs in my family and it is in the blood. So that's how I got started. But that's just me.

Big Dave: I was about 10 or 12. My daddy had a few bottles around the cabin, an' I got a taste for it on my own. Daddy drank it, so I wanted to be like Daddy and I would sneak a drink whenever I could when I was younger than 10. But when I was 10 or 12, my cousin Earl gave me a bottle of whiskey that he'd tooken from somewhere and we went out behind the barn and drank it. Drank the whole bottle!

Doc: Same with drugs. I ain't never been too much on drugs, but a lot of people is. Some of it comes from their own family, their mama or daddy. Older brothers and sisters can get you started. Might be a thing where all your friends does it and you just want to fit in.

Big Dave: Here's somethin' else about drugs, Tondy. Folks what gots insurance when they get down in the mullygrubs or whatever it is that makes them feel bad, they go to a psychiatrist or whatever doctor they go to, and he will write 'em a subscription for some drugs an' they feel more relaxed. It ain't against the law.

Doc: But if a person is poor and gets down and depressed, they ain't got insurance. They might be able to go to socialist services an' get someone to give them some pills. But guess what? That person gots rent to pay, or the light bill. So he or she might be able to get the pills. But then they is needin' money and they got a neighbor or someone who will give them money for it.

But they still got bills to pay. But they still is feelin' down in the dumps. But now they got money to pay a bill and maybe $10 or 20 bucks to buy some weed to use instead of those pills. But it's against the law.

Take that same person, if he got laid off his job, an' he cain't find work, he is a sure target for become a drug dealer. Not 'cause he is tryin' to be a criminal, but 'cause he is tryin' to eat and pay bills. Lotsa times, he ain't tryin' to get someone to start doin' drugs, just he is tryin' to make a couple of bucks off the people he knows what is already doin' them, an' maybe sell them drugs a little cheaper to them. But that still makes him a drug dealer. And it's against the law.

But he ain't thinkin' of himself as a criminal and most the times, he ain't gettin' rich. Heck, he usually ain't got nothin! Most the drug dealers I know ain't got nothin' more than I got. Matter of fact, I got more than a lot of them. I got a bungalow, a little shop for workin' on cars and a little place to grow some veggies. I'm a blessed man, Tondy. I don't do no drugs, but I ain't lookin' down on everyone what does do drugs. I ain't lookin' down on a man who is sellin' some drugs to feed his family when he is desperate. He is wrong, and he might go to jail, and he is deceived. But I care about him an' hope he can get a real job and cut out sellin' drugs and hope he can go through the day without usin' drugs.

Tell you what, without the Lord, I ain't no different or no better than anybody else. Don't ever look down on a man what is goin' through a hard time and the devil is on his back. You pray for him and try to lift him up.

Big Dave: Now someone who sells drugs to kids is no good. That person ought to be stopped right now. He ain't tryin' to pay bills, he is a predator. He needs to turn away from that mess right now!