Doc Stevens on the Rat Rod Corvette that was for sale on Ebay

Thursday, December 16, 2010 10:02 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I know next to nothing about cars. I like them, but of course, Americans seem to LOVE them. To me, a car is a luxury and a means of getting from point A to point B. In America, a car is an extension of the owner’s personality, a status symbol, a means of self expression and more.

Someone sent Doc a link to a Corvette/ 39 Dodge that had been joined together and made into a “rat rod.” To me it is horrid and disgusting. It was for sale on Ebay this past week and got a lot of attention and comments. He also had some strong feelings about it. He had Marilyn forward the email to me, and that prompted me to ring him up.

Doc: Tondy, did you see what that guy done? Hecorvette2 cut off the front of a perfectly good 39 Dodge pick up and stuck it on the front of a Corvette! Why would a man waste a pick up truck like that?

Do you think that Dodge front end is happy with a Corvette stuck on his hindparts? No!

Tondeleo: I DID see it, Doc, and it is a monstrosity… I don’t know why he did it.

Doc: Well it’s some guy down to Alabama and them guys is southern boys what generally know how to build hot rods. This ain’t really a rat rod, neither.

Tondeleo: I must confess, Doc, that I don’t fully understand what a rat rod is; I’m clueless about all that, aren’t I?

corvette7Doc: OK, a rat rod is a hot rod what you made outta what you have sittin’ around the garage or out in the field. It ain’t meant to be crazy. It is just the way a poor man has to build a car cause he ain’t got enough money to do it like a rich man. He uses what he’s got sittin’ around. This ain’t that.

OK, he mighta had a Dodge pickup out in the field. He coulda fixed that up and made a hot rod out of it. He mighta had a wrecked Corvette in his garage. But here is something you don’t do, Tondy. You don’t mix Mopars with Chevies and Fords. You can put a chevy motor in a ford or Mopar, but you don’t mix the bodies. It ain’t right.

Tondeleo: I hear what you’re saying, Doc, but I don’t understand why it’s ok to mismatch some things but not others. What is a Mopar?

Doc: A Mopar is a Chrysler product. Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler. They’s Mopars. And you don’t mix ‘em with Fords or Chevies and you don’t mix Fords and Chevies with each other cause they are competition to each other. So,it just ain’t right. Dodge gets Mopar. Ford gets Ford and Chevy gets Chevy.

corvette3I can tell you more about this one why it ain’t right. The nose of the grill is higher than the bottom of the windshield  [windscreen] on the Corvette. It should line up, so you could put a hood [bonnet] on it. It has to line up.

Also, the stylin’ is too different. The Corvette flows and is smooth. The old Dodge is round and fat. They don’t go. Like a woman with a big old head like a pot roast, and then a pretty body and at the end, some big old feet like a man. You wouldn’t do that. She got to flow.

And the back end don’t haul nothin’. It’s a Chevy pickupcorvette4 tail gate screwed to the back. It just don’t go together, in my book. And he stuck deer’s antlers in it! What for? It aint really a rat rod, it’s somethin’ else what I don’t know a name for. Big Dave said it is like a scoop of ice cream on an out house. It just don’t go.

Tondeleo: What would you have done, Doc, if you had a wrecked Corvette and an old Dodge pick up truck like that? That bloke may have been like you, without much money and two vehicles that weren’t drivable. Maybe it IS a rat rod…

Doc: Well, ok, he mighta been broke. I know how that is. Maybe it was the best he coulda done. But I can tell he knew how to make things, and cut metal and put it together.

I wouldda taken that Corvette motor, trans and rear out of that Vette and put it in the Dodge pickup. I woulda used the front part of the frame of the Corvette, and welded it to the Dodge frame. I’d cut that off in front of the cab and join it up. You just gotta make some plates for hookin’ up the rear into it. Ain’t nothing too hard. And it woulda gone together. People do that kinda thing all the time. Then I coulda had a fast pick up truck what looks right and would handle like a Corvette.

The inside of that Vette weren’t no good, and he put roadcorvette5 signs in it for an interior which looks worser than  plywood what he coulda painted black, if the inside of the Vette was that bad. This was worser than that.

Anyway, Tondy, that’s just what I woulda done. But I ain’t him. With cars, a man can do what he wants to do to express himself, and that is what this guy done. He might not like what I’m doin’ to my old panel truck, but that is why they make strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.

Tondeleo: Strawberry, chocolate and vanilla WHAT?

Doc: Ice cream.


Doc Stevens on Preparing for Christmas in a Recession

Saturday, December 4, 2010 7:24 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: With the worldwide recession, there are many people worrying about if they are going to be having a good Christmas this year. Cor, I’m even wondering what I’m going to do. I don’t have enough money to get anything for my Mum and I have yet to pay my December rent on my flat. Work has been slow for me and my income has been down. Most of my mates are in the same situation.

I rang up Doc and asked him about their Thanksgiving and also to ask about their preparation for Christmas.

Doc: Well, Tondy, Thanksgivin’ went good. Marilyn had that boy what she likes come over, that Gavin. She was all swoony all day over him - but what I liked about it is that she is tryin’ to impress him at what a good wife she would be. She made all kinds of extra food to get that long legged rascal worked up into proposin’ one day!

She made her tuna loaf like always but she put some extra stuff in it what I don’t know but it was better n’ usual. She made up two cans of corn beef hash what she made into patties an’ then made a hole in the middle like a donut and put a egg in each one and fried it. That was good, but she ain’t made enough for him to get any!

Me an’ Big Dave ate ‘em up! We told her we was checkin’ to make sure they wasn’t poison, and next thing you know they was all gone! But we tol’ Gavin about it an’ he understood an’ said he woulda done the same thing if they was good as we said they was, which they was, so it was ok.

Thurman Goodlett and Amy came over and brought sodas from the Wal Mart’s and some chips and dip. I think that Amy coulda ate every bit of it by herself, I tell you! She ain’t but about five foot tall an’ maybe a hundred pounds or so, but she can eat like a horse! But she don’t eat hay, she eats people food! And she was eatin’ it off my table! She was tryin’ to eat it all in one sittin’!

But we all had a good time an’ ate all we wanted, and then took naps. Once we all woke up, we got out the guitars and played for a couple hours. Of course, Thurman danced. We was all thankful to the Lord for givin’ us good friends an’ families, and shoes on our feet an’ roofs over our heads an’ enough money at the last minute when we really need it. He been good to us all, Tondy.

Tondeleo: What about Christmas, Doc? Money’s scarce here and I know it is always tight for you and your friends… but with the recession how are you going to have Christmas this year?

Doc: How we gonna have Christmas? We’re gonna go to sleep on Christmas Eve and then wake up in the mornin’ and it’s gonna be Christmas! We can’t stop it just because we ain’t got money! They Lord ain’t had money and he STARTED Christmas! I mean he was a baby an’ didn’t know it was Christmas, but it was started on account of him. He was poor all his life.

Tondeleo: But what about the gifts? And, with all the cold weather and work slowing down, aren’t you concerned about making it through the Winter this year?

Doc: We ain't worried about the future or about money or none of that, Tondy. The preacher down at the church said God'll take care of a person if they work hard and live right and I try to do both, much as I can. Ain't no moss growin' on me.

I work hard and I work long and then I play music wherever we can for whatever we can or even out on the streets. Preacher said if we're doin' that an' payin' our ties, God'll take care of us. He said we got a Jehovah Gyro.

I ain't too sure what that is, but it is good and that preacher is the real deal. He ain't no corn artist like a lot of them is. He lives just like the people in the church an' he'll help most anybody what needs helpin’.

Preacher said if we're doin' that an' payin' our ties, God'll take care of us. He said we got a Jehovah Gyro. I ain't too sure what that is, but it is good and that preacher is the real deal. He ain't no corn artist like a lot of ‘em is.

Long as we work hard and treat people right an’ give to the poor the preacher said that Jehovah Gyro will take care of us like he has always taken care of folks what does the best they can an’ loves the Lord.

We’ll be all right for Christmas. We usually come up with somethin’ to get our loved ones an’ we all pitch in an eat together and plays music, but on Christmas we sing some Christmas songs - but not a lot of them cause most of them is hard to play – and we make up some of our own Christmas songs, too. And we are thankful to the Lord for comin’ to earth to help everyone in life and be able to go to heaven when they die. I want to go to heaven when I die and so does Marilyn and most of our friends.

We’ll be ok for Christmas, Tondy and we’ll be ok after Christmas and the rest of the year too. And so will you. It ain’t about money, it’s about getting’ with the folks you care about and bein’ as good as you can to them all year round and then Christmas goes good. You’re good people, Tondy so don’t worry. And you ain’t got to get me an’ Marilyn nothin’ for Christmas, neither. We ain’t ‘spectin’ nothin’ and you get something real nice for your mama what gave you birth. That is the best thing what matters. Take care of your Mama and don’t make the Lord mad.

Doc And Marilyn’s Thanksgiving Plans and Recipes

Thursday, November 18, 2010 10:02 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday which means that they get together with friends and family and eat too much. Americans eat too much most days as it is, but on Thanksgiving, eating too much is the primary purpose of getting together with their friends. It is a communal gluttony.

Traditionally, they consume vast amounts of turkey, ham, dressing, cranberry jelly, pumpkin pie and whatever else the friends bring to contribute to their sumptuous baccalaurean festivities.

I rang up Doc to ask him what were the plans for their Thanksgiving meal.

Doc: Well, we’re havin’ some friends over to eat and play music an’ then eat some more. Big Dave’s comin’ over with some of his friends, an’ Thurman Goodlett an’ his girlfriend Amy an’ that boy what Marilyn’s seein’ Gavin, he’s comin’ over an’ whoever else drops in. It’ll be a good time.

Tondeleo: So, Doc, are you having the traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey with all the trimmings and all of that?

Doc: Well, we’re gonna do the best we can. I usually make my special which is two cans of Hormel chili mixed with two cans of Manwich.

[Editorial note: Hormel is a brand name that makes various tinned meat products. Their “chili” is a high fat, high sodium version of Chili Con Carne. Manwich is a product that is a catsup based sauce that is intended to be mixed with a pound of minced beef.]

We mix that up and put cheese sauce on it. I got a secret, Tondy. I use Campbell’s Cheddar cheese soup for my cheese sauce. The other part of the secret is this. You don’t add no water to it. Just heat up two cans of it right outta the can. I learnt that one from a gal I knew what worked at Earl’s Truck Stop over to Bel Alton, back in the 80’s.

Marilyn is makin’ up her tuna loaf what she serves on aMarilyn Tuna Loaf bed of lettuce. It ain’t really a bed. It’s just lettuce spread out on a tray an’ she puts the tuna loaf on it. It looks fancy an’ you know how Marilyn likes fancy.

She goes all out cooking on Thanksgiving, Tondy. She puts cut up pickles in it and chopped up boiled eggs and onions and instead of mayonnaise, she puts in ranch dressing and a little mustard. Then she puts it in her bread pan and cooks it in the oven. Her mama taught her how to do that.

We’ll have that, an’ ice tea, tater chips an’ dip, an’ probally ice cream.

Big Dave’ll bring some deer meat. He’ll soak it in beer and black pepper and Old Bay overnight an’ then smoke it in his smoker for another day. He’s a good cook, Tondy, a real good cook.

Then I guess Thurman’ll bring some apple cider or somethin’ and Gavin’ll bring somethin’ too. He’s pretty good with catfish. He deep fries it an’ we put the cheese sauce on it. That boy can fish and he can cook. He’s all right in my book, an’ Marilyn’s half cuckoo over him.

Tondeleo: Doc, I don’t hear anything about vegetables. Are you only having meat? No veggies?

Doc: Veggies? Uhhh… veggies. Uh, yeah I guess we could get Marilyn to fry up some potatoes an’ carrots. Fried carrots is good. An’ probally some greens cooked up with pigs feet. That ain’t too bad.

We’ll eat it an’ probally all take a nap out on the porch or in our trucks if it’s colder. Sun comin’ in throughDocStevens, Marilyn G the glass makes you feel good and sleepy.

After that, we’ll get out the guitars an’ probally sing an’ play music an’ Thurman’ll dance an’ then later we might look at some tv. I don’t know. But it’ll be good an’ we’ll be real thankful. The good Lord’s been mighty good to us this year. Mighty good. We got strength an’ health. We got a roof over our heads, ‘lectric, food on the table an’ friends an’ loved ones. It don’t get no better’n that, Tondy. We’re thankful to the good Lord up above.

Y’all ain’t even got no Thanksgivin’ over there to that England, Tondy, but we got it ‘cause we’re thankful.

Doc Stevens and Big Dave on Their Loss of Interest in NASCAR–part three

Sunday, November 7, 2010 8:00 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I didn’t know what a nerve I had touched when mentioning NASCAR racing to Doc and Big Dave. I had stuck my head into a southern hornet’s nest! Here is hopefully their last rant on the subject.

Doc: When I was a boy, we went to the Firecracker 400 in Daytona…

Big Dave: They call it the Coke Zero 400 now! What’s THAT about? Racers drinking diet colas! They used to drink beer.

Doc: Well, that was my daddy’s dream, and he saved his money up and took the whole family! We camped out and went to the race and stayed in the campground at night with a lot of other race fans. None of us had any money. We just liked racin’.

It was Fireball Roberts was in a Pontiac, and Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarbrough and Junior Johnson, an’…NASCAR 9a

Big Dave: Back then, they all had the kind of motor that came in their cars. Fords had For motors. Pontiacs had Pontiac motors, and they ran them as fast as they could.They really raced each other!

Now, they have restrictor plates on the motors, whatever kind they are, and they all have the same horsepower and no one can make his car any faster. That’s why they all clump up on the track! They can go full throttle the whole race now and all be the same. 

Doc: Yeah. Back then, they had more control. The mechanics could make the motors fast as they could, and the driver had to do more. So they had to be better back then.

Big Dave: Guess what the cars cost back about 1970? $20,000! My Dad told me that! And people was all complainin’ already that it was gettin' to be only for rich guys. $20,000!

Now it’s about 15 million for the car and about 12 million a year to be good! I read that in a magazine at CVS.

Potomac 1Doc: I ain’t never gonna see that kind of money in my life. That’s why I don’t go to NASCAR and I cain’t even afford tickets. We go to the dirt track down to Potomac Speedway on Friday nights down at Bud’s Creek, Tondy. It still got local boys in it and local cars. They spend money, but it ain’t crazy money. It’s money what a workin’ man can earn and can get some help from some sponsors. Like NASCAR used to be 50 years ago.

Big Dave: NASCAR! I remember when it was always for a long time the Winston Cup. Then they called it the Nextel cup! Then they changed it again to the Sprint Cup. If Starbucks pays ‘em enough, they’ll call it the Coffee Cup. I ain’t interested.

Doc: Me neither.

Doc Stevens and Big Dave: More on “Why We Lost Interest in NASCAR and Aren’t Gettin’ It Back”

Saturday, November 6, 2010 4:24 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I know absolutely nothing about racing or cars. But I know that NASCAR is a big deal with Americans. It used to be considered a southern activity for blue collar workers to enjoy and over the years it went more mainstream and lost a lot of its original fan base. Doc, Big Dave and their friends are part of the original fan base who are totally disenchanted with what NASCAR racing has become. That is all In know about it!

Doc: My daddy is from down North Carolina where NASCAR has been big since it got started. Down south, race cars really got started from boys runnin’ shine [moonshine whiskey], what fixed up they’s cars to outrun revenuers. They took out the back seats, lightened up the cars a little bit and put cutouts on the exhaust..

Big Dave: Cutouts are just a Y pipe welded into the exhaust system with a flap in it so you can bypass the mufflers, and get a little more power. It made the cars loud, but a little faster. Most places made it against the law to have cutouts on your car…

Doc: Anyway, that’s how the idea of fixin’ up your car to see how fast it would go came from down south. Then they set up race tracks to see how long you could drive that fast.How long could your car hold up?

They started finding out that some boys could fix they’s cars up better n’ other NASCAR 6boys, so they made different classes and wouldn’t let a boy what modified his car race ‘gainst a boy who was just drivin’ his car the way it came.

My daddy said he was at races down to Charlotte [NC] at the first speedway, where if the winner had even changed one thing on his car, like the springs, or manifold, they would kick him out of the race, cause it wasn’t “stock;” it was modified.

They had roll bars, seat belts and helmets but that was about it. And the drivers ain’t wore no coveralls covered in advertisements. They wore whatever they wore, t-shirts, jeans, an’ a helmet! That was at Daytona! Everywhere!

Big Dave: All the cars back then had to be something that you could buy at the dealer, and then you might modify it, or make it a little lighter or a little safer, but it was still a car like anyone else could buy. You didn’t have to be rich back then to do it. About anyone with a car and some tools and some friends could get in there and be somebody.

Doc: It weren’t all big money back then. It was about local boys fixin’ Nascar 4up they cars and goin’ as fast as they could, an’ then the fastest of ‘em went to other tracks til they found out who was the fastest. They mighta got a local garage to help ‘em out or sponsor them, but it was local an’ pretty much honest.

After the race, all us local boys would try to make our cars as much as we could like the fastest ones. You could do that back then even if you ain’t had big money.

Big Dave: Once it got to be about the money, it all went downhill. The tickets cost too much for a workin’ man to go and take his family and friends. We used to all pile in the car and have a day at the races. I could pay cash for the tickets. I cain’t to that anymore.

Now, you got drivers that didn’t know anything about cars. All they knew how to do was drive in circles for a long time, and give a good interview. The mechanics did all the work. But it was still just drivers and mechanics for a long time. Not now. Drivers, mechanics, engineers, publicity agents, I heard they got make up artists! Race car drivers with make up artists for commercials! It’s all about the products, big millionaire companies and all their rules.

A driver isn’t even able to go out and act like himself now. He is a representer of the company who pays millions of dollars to make him a super star. He is like a dancin’ bear in a circus, if you ask me. It’s a cryin’ shame.

Doc: Yeah. Back in the day, you could watch a NASCAR race and could see cars what looked like your car and yoNASCAR 8u could pretend that your car was somethin’ like the car on the track. If you had money, you could go to the dealer and order the parts you needed to make your car run like the car at the stock car track. You ain’t doin’ that no more! You could be a multi-brazilianaire and not be able to buy them parts at the Ford or Chevy dealer!

I ain’t talkin way back to my daddy’s day. I’m talkin’ in the 70’s the cars still looked like what they were. They were CARS. Real cars that was made up to race. Like GTO’s, Monte Carlo’s, Road Runners.

NASCAR 9Lookit the Monte Carlo’s out there now!. It don’t look like no Monte Carlo I ever seen. It looks like a plastic piece of junk with stickers all over it. Ain’t no Chevy motor in it. So why should I care if it beats a plastic Ford what ain’t got a Ford motor in it? I DON"’T! 

It ain’t about the cars no more and ain’t been about them for probally twenty years.It’s about big money and makin’ the drivers into rock stars and takin’ away they freedom. I seen on TV that two of ‘em got fined for speakin’ they mind about NASCAR! And they ain’t even allowed to give they’s names!

Big Dave: It’s all gone corporate and they' took all the fun out of it years ago. More about buyin’ souvenirs and NASCAR toys an’ all that. It ain’t about racin’ the cars anymore. That’s just a back drop – to keep you distracted into thinkin’ you’re watchin’ real mechanics and real drivers in real cars out there really racin’ each other with all their might…

Doc: Which they AINT. So I ain’t interested in somethin’ what ain’t real.

Doc Stevens: Why We Lost Interest in NASCAR Racing a Long Time Ago.

Thursday, November 4, 2010 4:18 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: Most rural Americans have been stereotyped as being lifelong NASCAR racing fans. Lately I have heard Doc and his friends grumbling about why they don’t follow NASCAR racing anymore. Most of it is beyond my comprehension, but I recorded parts of Doc and Big Dave discussing their disenchantment with NASCAR racing.

Doc: Well, most of the problem with NASCAR started a long time ago, Tondy. NASCAR stands for something like National Stock Car Racing…

Big Dave: Actually, it’s the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing…

Doc: The point is that it started off as STOCK car racing,Nascar 1960 2 meaning that they was basically racing cars that you could by from the car dealer. Lookit this picture from 1960 NASCAR Daytona race! It is a CHEVY! Got a bumper, a grill, and they just lightened it up a bit.

It was Fords, Chevies and Plymouths and Pontiacs and Chryslers and all that, and you could buy cars like them at the dealer.

What got it popular was, if you was a Chevy man and your buddy was a Ford man, you could go to the race and see which one held up the best, and you could see how they ran when they was drived by the best drivers. If a Ford won the race on Sunday, then sales of Fords went up on Monday. True fact.

That’s why the factories and car dealers got involved. So of course, they started changing what they called a stock car. I think back in the 60’s my daddy said that by then a car could be called stock if they made at least 500 of whatever parts it needed to be made.

Big Dave: I remember that. If Junior Johnson or FireballBig Dave 9 Roberts won the race, you could go to the Chevy, Pontiac or Ford Dealer and if you had the money, you could order a car fixed up just like theirs. I knew a boy in Kentucky back in the 70’s what had a 1963 Ford factory race car. Name was Mark Robinson. He wasn’t rich, neither. His car had been ordered new from the factory like Fireball Roberts’ car. Had aluminum bumpers, fiberglass front end and trunk lid and small seat inside for the driver and a 427 motor. He drove it on the streets. These were called factory race cars.

Doc. Try goin’ to the Chevy dealer an’ orderin’ a car like whatever Chevy won a NASCAR race lately. It ain’t happenin’ cause they ain’t STOCK cars no more and haven’t been for more n’ 20 years or even more.

When a Chevy wins a NASCAR race, it don’t mean nothin.’NASCAR 1960 3 It don’t say that Chevies are faster n’ anything else. Cause it ain’t a real Chevy. None of them is really cars what you can buy from a dealer. That’s what killed the pride in it, Tondy.

Big Dave: And that’s when it become more about the driver than the cars. The cars ain’t nothin’ you could ever own. So you at least figure you can drive like the driver maybe…

Marilyn: Jeff Gordon is the world’s fastest Christian! I learned that on King of the Hill…

Doc: Then, Tondy they been ruinin’ it more and more cause the drivers ain’t allowed to really RACE each other till right at the end. Everybody knows it and the drivers is up front about it. They just go roundy round til the last part of it. People wanna see them race each other the whole time, every lap.

Tondeleo: Maybe they are trying to play it safe?

Doc: And racin’ aint about playin’ it safe. It’s about which car is the fastest ad the best drived, and it ain’t been about that in a long time.

Big Dave: Yeah, that’s why we go more for drag racin’. A man ain’t got to be a millionaire to go in there and race and have some fun doin’ it. No matter what you drive, you can race it. Even a pick up truck.

Doc: Yeah, there’s big money in drag racing, too, but the little man can still be part of it, and you can go to the track and if you’re not racin’ you still know a lot of the drivers and some of them is your friends, so it’s a lot better. Ain’t nothin NASCAR can do to catch my interest anymore.


Doc Stevens on the Elections and Politics in General

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 10:30 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I was reading online some of the election results in the US, and it prompted me to go back through my notes to find some of Doc’s comments on politics, policies and government. Here are some quotes that I ran across:

Doc: “It ain’t about just minding your own business and let people do what they want to do. We OUGHT to care what someone else does. You can't pee on your side of the pond without it coming into MY side of the pond.”

“Worserer than that, once people start peeing in the pond, it’s hard to get it out.That’s one thing wrong with America. We’ve had people peein’ in our pond for fifty years an’ now we want to get the government to get it out. Well, they cain’t! They was half the ones peein’ in it in the first place.”

“If you spit in the ice tea, we all got to drink it. So, YEAH, I care what you do even if you are a grown up with your own choices. You can spit in your own cup of tea, but don’t spit in the pitcher. We’re gonna go round and round if you do.”

“As for politicians. Tondy there is somethin’ special about a person what wants a job what depends on other people votin’ on him every four years. Like, he has a need to know that he is popular more than that he just did a good job. I think, get out there and do a good job at whatever you can do bein’ the best person you can, and help everybody what you can, an’ keep doin’ it even if aint nobody knows you’re doin’ it but you an’ the people you’re helpin.’”

“What we got in government right now is folks in high places what ain’t got no backbones. They know right from wrong, or they used to. But once they get elected, they get scared they won’t get re elected, so they do whatever they got to do to keep that job, whether it’s right or wrong. So we vote ‘em out ad put in another bunch to see if they’ll do any better. But what happens? Same thing! They get in office, and it goes to their heads and they forget the little man, which they USED to be!”

“I ain’t never runnin’ for no office. I gotta first be able to run my own life, even if my life is a little simple one. I’d rather do right in my own life than to be in charge of a bunch of other things and mess it up – and get corrupt like people gets when they got too much power. I’m a God fearin’ man, and don’t want to become a  people fearin’ man, which I would be if I was a politician. That ain’t no kind of life.”

“My daddy used to say he’d rather be first in charge of his own bass boat than be second in charge of a someone else’s sinking battleship. I agree with that.”

“But somebody’s got to do that job. It ain’t me. This whole mess the country is in is way too evil and too deep. Ain’t nobody gonna solve it with a tummy rub. It’s like stickin’ your head into a hornet’s nest and hopin’ you can make them like you. Ain’t gonna happen. Ain’t no President gonna make it happen, ain’t no congress and senate, ain’t no governor, either. Only God can straighten out this mess, but they made it plain they ain’t want him. So, it’s just gonna get worse. Well, worse til they can’t take no more and calls on God to help them. But I ain’t see that comin’ for a long time, Tondy, a LONG time.”

“I'm gonna write a song about it. I already sung it, but ain’t got Marilyn to write it down yet. It’s called Mr. President, you need to talk to the King.” By King, I mean God.”

Doc and Marilyn’s Halloween Talk with a Witch.

Monday, November 1, 2010 1:52 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: Americans celebrate Halloween in a very big way. To me it is insanity, the amount of money they spend. They decorate their homes with orange lights and simulated cobwebs, and go all out with the costumes and fancy dress. It is definitely a money maker for the merchants. It is nearly as big as Christmas as far as parties and decorations are concerned.Doc Playing 1

Doc and Marilyn played at a party where there were all sorts of people in fancy dress, and many of them were outfitted as monsters, crime victims covered in blood, and of course, the requisite demons and witches.

During a break, Doc and Marilyn were talking with a woman dressed as a witch, and during the course of the conversation, she told them that she was a “real” witch. Doc told her he wouldn’t bragging about it if he was her. Not about being a witch. But then, again, that was her business.

She went on and on about being a witch, and Doc asked her what she meant by that. She told him that she could cast spells on people.

Doc said that he probably could, too, but that he doesn’t. He said he thought that pretty much anyone could speak for bad things to happen to other people, if they wanted to be mean about it. He said he reckoned there was already enough bad things on the earth without trying to make it even worse.

She said, "I can call on demons to come up here and deal with my enemies."

Doc said that the way he figured it anybody could call demons to do anything, if they really wanted to.

She said that a lot of people were scared of her because she can call on devils.

Doc shook his head and said, that he wasn’t scared if she calls devils, cause he didn’t think demons would pay any attention to her anyway.

He informed her that devils weren’t exactly known for being cooperative. He told her that he liked having FRIENDS that he could call on.

Not only that, why would she want people to be scared of her? It’s hard enough to get people to like you, and he couldn’t imagine trying to get people to be scared of you.

Then he told her that he had to get back to playing his music and he hoped she had a good time and that she would find out how much fun it is to have some friends to call on instead of devils.

Marilyn let her know that devils weren’t very good to have for friends anyway, because for one thing they are invisible and for another, they are nothing but mean. She let her know that Jesus was a better friend, because even though he is invisible, he is nice.

And with that, they began their second song set.

The witch stood there tapping her feet, looking at them with a blank look. I think she was trying to figure out how come they didn’t understand what she was saying, or something like that. I am not too gifted at reading peoples’ facial expressions. But she had one!

Doc told me afterwards that she was probably a pretty nice person who just got hurt a lot and maybe she didn’t like people anymore, or something like that. He said he hoped she could make some friends who would be good to her.

Doc Stevens on Having Your Own Personal Style–sometimes standing out and sometimes blending in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010 10:51 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: One thing I have noticed at home in England and everywhere else I have travelled is that people want to stand out and have their own personal style.That goes for people with money and education as well as for old age pensioners and even the homeless. There is a human quest for individuality that cannot be suppressed.

I was talking about this with Doc at Scott’s II Store one afternoon, as I was noticing and commenting on the way the various patrons expressed themselves with their clothing, their jewelry, accessories, hats and their cars and trucks. When the conversation was in full swing, I realised that I needed to get out my digital recorder and capture some of these thoughts.

What prompted me getting out my recorder was a Cadillac out in the car park of Scott’s that was pulling out as we went out to Doc’s truck for Marilyn to get her harps. It was evident that the car's owner didn’t have much money, but that he had a sense of style and clearly a sense of pride – and his car very much stood out from the others!

Doc pointed out all the changes that the owner had made:

Caddy1Doc: Lookit that, Tondy! You ain’t got nothin’ like that over there to that England, I guarantee it! He got a Corvette hood scoop on it.Painted his grille gold. It’s just spray paint, but it makes it stand out. He got him some Wal Mart wheelcovers on it – and they ain’t match each other, but at least he’s tryin’.

Tondeleo: Well, ummm, you’re right Doc. I have never seen anything quite like this in England. It is sort of an American CHAV vehicle, perhaps. I don’t really know what to compare it to. It DOES make one sit up and take notice, I confess!

Doc: Yeah, Tondy, You gotta stand out. This boy’s standin’ out!

Marilyn:I think it stands out in a yucky way.It’s too much. Well, at least for me. I bet the cops could spot him a mile away, too! He probally ain’t thought of that.

Doc: Well, sometimes you wanna stand out and sometimes you wanna blend in. You can figure that out by walkin’ in the woods. Most the time, for survival, you gotta blend in. That’s what keeps the predators from noticin’ you and eatin’ you. Most everything in nature wears camo (camouflaged clothing). Snakes, turtles, frogs, deer, birds, almost everything. They need to blend in so they don’t get eaten.

But then, sometimes they gotta stand out for protection. Like a peacock blowin’ his Caddy2tail all out big to look bigger than he really is – and prob’ly for standin’out so the girl peacocks notice him and think they want him ‘cause he’s a big man! Bull frogs does it, too! So they is two laws in the jungle. Blend in so you don’t get eaten and sometimes stand out to scare off enemies.

Look at him! He got what…five antennas on the back! And American flags! And magnets, too! He is scarin’ off the competition. I mean a dude with a regular car can’t compete! He is sayin’ somethin’ here, Tondy! Puttin’ ‘em on notice! He got a lot of work in that car an’ you can tell he loves it! That’s his baby!

Caddy3Look how proud he is! An’ he OUGHT to be proud. That’s a car to remember! It ain’t about the money, it’s about the love you put in it. If it was mine, I’d be proud of it!

I’m proud of what I got, even though it ain’t worth much. At least it’s mine.

Me an’ Marilyn does the same thing when we’re playin. When we’re playin’ in the streets for money, we need to stand out enough so people stops to listen an’ give us money an’ if they really like us to ask for a card or invite us to play at a event or party or something. Lotta ties you gotta play ‘coustic guitar when buskin.’ BUt I use my drum box with the tambourine on it for a beat. That helps.

We make eye contact with ‘em an’ I’ll make up some words to the song I’m singin’ to put them in it:

Like: “I see that lady there with the sunglasses watchin’ me

She’s reachin’ in her wallet and gettin'’ out some money!

An’ she walks over here… an’ she puts it my case

That’s a good lookin’ woman

she puts a smile on my face – thank you ma’am!”

I’ll do somethin’ like that for anyone I can catch the eye of and it gets a crowd, an’ a crowd gets you money an’ bookin’s and friends. You gotta have friends ‘cause they pass the word around about you.

We stand out by lookin’ happy and bein’ high energy an’ ‘proachable. Marilyn kinda dances. We have dance contests on the street, too. Ain’t nothin’ funnier than havin’ a dance contest out on the streets an’ watchin’ men dance! And it gets a crowd.

When we’re playin’ and there is other bands, we don’t never do songs that they would do. We ain’t no 70’s cover band. We does mostly old stuff from the 40s and fifties. Nothin’ much newer than’ 1960, far as I know. That’s cause all we had was old music what other people didn’t want, when I grew up, or old songs what the people round us sang an’ played. We ain’t no human jukebox. We play songs what most bands don’t play so we don’t overlap what they is doin’ and that way the other bands likes us, too. That’s part of standin’ out.

imageLike, we bring along Thurman Goodlett to dance for us whenever we can. That boy can dance like Michael Jackson with ants in his pants! That helps us stand out. There is lotsa bands out there and they’s all better than us, so we gotta put on a show, if we’re gonna stand out. You got to stand out, Tondy. And people like a show. It ain’t so much about the music as it is about the show. Standin’ out is the show.

Marilyn: Sometimes it embarrassin’ but you gotta do it. Doc says if it don’t take guts, it ain’t worth doin’ and you gotta be bold, Tondy. Stand up and stand out is what I always say.

Doc Stevens and Marilyn take me to Bert's 50's Diner and teach me about "tipping" the servers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010 4:45 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: Doc and Marilyn have been trying for more than a year to get me to eat with them at a particular "sit down" restaurant down in Saint Mary's County, MD. For once my schedule allowed me the opportunity to have tea with him and Marilyn, after they had spent the afternoon “jamming” with some friends in California, MD (There is also a Hollywood, MD in St. Mary’s county). It was more than an hour from Nanjemoy at a Fifties themed restaurant called Bert's 50's Diner. . This is Doc's absolute favourite place that, in his words, has “class.” I didn’t have my camera with me so I got this picture of Bert’s from the Internet. The picture of Bert's 50's Diner below is by Ron Patterson.


When we arrived, I could see why Doc is so in awe of it. It is a very American place, with a a real American 50's hot rod mounted on the roof, complete with a flamed paint job. Doc says the car is a 1950 Mercury, and that the right rear quarter panel of the car is wrecked making it totaled (a write off) several years ago and the owner of the Diner who is a car lover bought it and had it mounted on the roof of his Diner as an attention getter. Doc says that he could have fixed that car, because back at the time it happened, one of his fellow Nanjemoy residents, a man called Streamliner Wedding had a Mercury just like it parked out at the junkyard he used to operate behind his house.

Doc says he could have bought the whole car for spares for maybe 300 dollars back then. It has since been crushed and Streamliner is dead, too.

When we went inside, there was a a small queue of people waiting for a free table, but we only waited five minutes or so. When our server escorted us to the table, Doc was in his glory, pointing out all the automobile paraphernalia on the walls; Old registration plates, automobile adverts, and photo’s and magazine covers from the 1950's.

The menu looked as though it was from the 1950's as well. Doc helped me order a memorable meal. I had (with all apologies to my fellow countrymen) sweet iced tea, which is not bad once you tell your taste buds that this is not tea at all, it is just a syrupy sweet American beverage served American style with plenty of ice, even though it is a cool night. To me it is more like treacle and water.

Doc steered me away from the smothered steak, saying he wasn't sure of eating meat that was smothered, that really you can only trust meat that was shot or killed right, at a slaughterhouse. After thinking about the poor cow being smothered, I was rather put off and ordered Bert's Famous Fish sandwich for $6.25, which included the "fries" [chips]. I managed to get through most of the glass of "sweet tea," which is served with the meal instead of afterwards.

Marilyn ordered the All American BLT sandwich with a side order of crisps, and of course, iced tea. She had only one free refill of the chilled tea based beverage.

Doc ordered a Porky Pig Barbecue "submarine" sandwich, which is a sandwich served on a roll that is nearly 12 " long. The meat is pork and the sandwich had coleslaw on it, as well as sliced onions, tomatoes, lettuce, tomato sauce and mayonnaise. This was only $6.25 He also ordered the "full tank" of french-fried onion rings, for $3.95. He has two large "free" refills of the sweet iced tea, and finished it all with a loud burp, and considered having ice cream afterwards!

In the States, the drinks are cheaper than in UK, ($2.25 each at Bert's) and that includes as many free refills as you can pour into your body. The portions in the States are easily three times larger than what we get in the UK, and the prices are about half what we pay. So, it is no wonder that Americans, even poor ones tend to be fat. It is cheap, easy and tasty to become fat in the States. I have put on nearly one stone since coming to the States more frequently this past year!

Also, in the States, it is considered "macho" to be a bit on the portly side, for men. They don't consider themselves "fat" or obese, but rather will refer to themselves as becoming a "good sized boy" or a "pretty fair sized boy," no matter how many decades have passed since the individual WAS a boy.

Our server was polite and friendly, much more chatty than we would tolerate in the UK. Marilyn explained that a large part of the friendliness (which I found off putting) was in order to get a larger "tip" at the end of the meal. Doc liked her and she realised rather early on that he was the one who was going to be paying, so she paid particular attention to him. At the end of the meal, the bill was roughly only $22 for the three of us. Doc pulled out a $20 dollar bill, four one dollar bills and $5 bill. He told her she'd done a good job and that the extra was for her.

I could not comprehend paying a $7 tip on a bill that was approximately only $20. Doc explained, "Tondy, that girl works hard for her money, and they don't even pay minimum wage at restaurants, these people depend on tips. Some people don't leave nothin, or just a couple of dollars. I always tip good. You need to be a giver, not a taker. And you don't never go home at night and wish you hadn't tipped so much. But if you tipped cheap, you might go home a feel bad and caint do nothin' about it. Always give 'em more than they expect, 'cause there is always some tightwad who tries to chisel them outta their money. There ain't nothing attractive about a cheap man. Remember that, Tondy. Being a giver is attractive. Being cheap is a turnoff to anyone who has any style. I'm tryin' to help you have style, Tondy."

“Yeah,” said Marilyn, “You need style, Tondy! A man's gotta have style. A woman likes a man with style, you know. ”

Doc Stevens and Marilyn Play Indoors at a Fundraiser

Monday, October 18, 2010 12:00 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: As you know, Doc and Marilyn play outdoors frequently, and when it is warm weather, and they have bills to pay, they will be found outdoors on a regular basis, singing, playing and passing the hat. Sometimes their friend Thurman Goodlett dances for them, which helps get a crowd and increases the income. He is a fantastic dancer and is very professional. From their outdoors playing, they get asked to play at various events and venues.

Doc says that when they play outside it is "givin' away free samples," so people will let them play at other places. This is how they get most their gigs at BBQ's, family reunions, outdoor parties, and clubs and even festivals. People hear them, like their sound and find out how likeable both Doc and Marilyn are, and that they will play almost anywhere.scottsposter1

One Sunday, back in March, they played indoors at Scott's II in Welcome Maryland, along with Joey Tippet and the California Ramblers. The California Ramblers are a popular bluegrass band who also donated their afternoon to raise funds for a local young mother who was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago. She was pregnant, and had some problems and they discovered that she had leukemia. Marilyn said that Katie, the young mother, lost her baby, and had a month of chemo treatments, and then "the Lord touched her body" and there is no sign of leukemia, but there are other problems.

Marilyn: Tondy, when Katie got the leukemia, all of us was prayin' and askin' the Lord to touch her body and heal her. She prayed too. She believes in healin' like we do. At the end of last March, they tested her and the leukemia was gone! No sign of it! They let her out of the hospital!

But the doctor what takes care of her after wards said leukemia doesn't just go away - she ain't never heard of the Lord healin' people - so she started Katie on chemo again. And every month they tested her for cancer, and guess what, Tondy? NO CANCER! Not even one cell!

But still her her doctor says she MIGHT have some cancer there and they just can't find it! So they keep her on that chemo and stereo-roids, anyway - but no sign of cancer cause the Lord healed her.

She got money problems cause she got two little boys she's tryin' to raise, an' she can't work a job, but still has to pay the rent and the light bill and gas for the car, and food.

Scotts Store 2 So they had a fundraiser for her and asked us to help out. It was us and some bluegrass bands. We ain't exactly into bluegrass, so we din't know how it would be, and we didn't know if they would hate us because we play country roots blues and Doc uses a electric guitar, and bluegrass don't allow no electric guitars or drums, an' Doc also brought his box what he rigged up with a foot pedal to sound like drums. I like playin' indoors.

Well, it went GOOD! A lot of people came. The bluegrass bands was good, too. One was Joey Tippett and the California Ramblers! They was really good and they was nice to me and Uncle Doc. They let us use their mic, which was nice. They did a couple sets and we did a couple of sets, and another bluegrass band did, and also a rock band called Naked! They was all boys but I thank God they was not naked! They would've embarrassed themselves for sure, Tondy! But they sounded good. And kept their clothes on. That name they got for their band, Naked, Doc said is just boys bein' boys.

Scotts Store 3 I heard that they raised about two thousand dollars to help her pay the rent. Churches are helping her out with food and such. It's really hard when a person ain't got no income and all their friends are poor, Tondy. But when everybody pitches in, and bakes cakes and pies for auctionin' off and brings in other things to sell, it helps. We all pull together. Even the bands played for free to help out. And Uncle Doc bought a fishin' rod and lures,and a camo fishin' stool to sit on, an' he don't even need 'em! He said he just wanted to help Katie pay her rent, and he had $30 on him. He has a soft heart, Tondy, but don't tell him I told you. But he's a softy inside!

Tondeleo: Marilyn gave me some pictures from this event that were emailed to her so here they are. She also got some video from it that I put it on my Youtube account for them.

Concealed Carry in the U.S. - how to spot it. Americans hide guns in their clothing and accessories!

Sunday, October 17, 2010 10:50 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: One thing that is difficult to get used to in the States is the fact that many Americans are armed. By that I mean, not just carrying knives, and it seems that most of them do (including the teenage girls and women!), but many are actually carrying loaded hand guns! You may not notice it, because they carry "concealed" meaning that their gun is hidden, but they can reach it in a moment.

Out in the rural areas, it is very common for the locals to carry loaded rifles and shotguns in their pick up trucks. They usually have special racks mounted in the back window, behind the seat, so that their guns are in plain sight. That seems to be legal, and is not considered threatening, because anyone can see the gun! And, no permit is needed for this!!!

After an evening playing music and jamming with friends, Big Dave, Doc and I piled into Doc's truck and drove the 19 plus miles to the Wal-Mart in La Plata. They needed guitar strings, which sell at Wal-Mart for just a little over three dollars and also ammo. Both needed bullets for their handguns and "double 0 buck" for their "12 gauge" shotguns, whatever that means. I know it has to do with deer hunting, or home protection or both.

I have a difficult time with the ready availability of guns and ammunition in the US. Even the Wal-Marts sell guns and ammunition to nearly anyone. I find this frightening, to say the least!

I was talking about this with Doc and Big Dave, and they were trying to get me to take comfort in the fact that when we are all in a Wal-Mart together that there may be as many as twenty people, women as well as men, who are carrying loaDocStevens & Marilyn 2ded handguns!

Doc: Yeah, Tondy, a lot of women carry guns. How else they gonna protect theyselves if a man wants to rob 'em or worse? They usually ain't carryin' 'em in they's purses 'cause a man'll snatch they purse. So they carry a gun somewhere else, on them where you cain't see it. Might be in they's waist band, or under they dress, strapped to they leg. Anywhere. Maybe a small gun is in they bra, Tondy!

Heck, Marilyn carries sometimes, an' you ain't never been scared 'cause you ain't never knowed it. She ain't NEVER unarmed. Sometimes it is just a knife what she carries.

Tondeleo: Marilyn carries??? MARILYN? I never thought she would carry a loaded gun!

Doc: Well, she ain't gonna 'nounce it to the world, Tondy!

Tondeleo: I was just thinking that if someone was carrying a gun, it would be more obvious, like in a bum bag (make that "fanny pack!" in the US! I cannot bring myself to say that.), or something more obvious. It is very frightening to think that so many people may be carrying loaded guns here! Especially if you can't tell who is carrying a loaded gun and who isn't.

Doc: I'd be scared if people was carryin' UNLOADED guns, Tondy! What're they gonna do - THROW it at a bad guy? A unloaded gun might as well be a rock!

I'm glad to be in a store where people is carryin' guns. If someone tries to rob that store, then whoever's carryin' can protect anyone else in the store, or shoot the person what is robbin' it.

Big Dave: Yeah, and if there's a shootout, like with the police, the people that's carryin' can help the cops, and maybe take out a couple of bad guys. Cops need help too. Most people what carry handguns is good people and they is givin' backup to the cops and is against dopeheads and scum that rob people or stores. I ain't got no use for none of 'em. Predators ain't no endangered species.

Tondeleo: Is there any way to tell who is carrying a concealed gun and who isn't? That would help me feel safer...

Big Dave Wal Mart Big Dave: Well, bad guys what's carryin' concealed mostly don't use holsters. Bad guys have their guns stuck down the back of their pants (trousers, not "pants" as in UK!) or in their waistband up front. Some just carry their gun in their pants pocket or coat pocket. If you look at them, you can usually see their clothes drooping on the side where the gun is. Pants leg is lower on that side, or jacket pocket hanging lower on that side. Some dumb ones carry their gun in the hood of their sweatshirt that's hanging down their back.

Doc: People what gets permits to carry don't look like that. Mostly they use a holster. And mostly, they dress like off duty cops. That's people with office jobs and such. They got the money to buy shirts and pants with pockets to hide guns in, and they wear them.

My neighbor's boy is a cop and he wears that stuff when he's off duty. He gets 'em from catalogs and on the inner web. They got they own brands of clothes for carryin' guns in! If you seen what he wears, and other cops, you can spot it pretty clear if you're in the mall. Cops can spot it too, so they know prob'ly who is packin' and is a good guy and who is packin' and aint.

(Later I confirmed this with a quick Google search on "concealed carry clothing," and found these kinds of clothes on the websites of 5.11, Blackhawk, Gall's and others).

Pants for carryin' got extra pockets down low on the leg, but that ain't where a gun is, and usually some kind of cop looking boots. Polo shirts, with another shirt over it what is untucked. Some of 'em carry two guns, one in a holster what is hidden under they shirt what is untucked, but there is a bulge on that side, and one strapped to they ankle, which you can also see the bulge of, if you look.

Big Dave: Yeah, if the wind is blowing, or if they bend over to pick something up, you can pretty much tell. There'll be a bulge or even the butt of their gun sticking out from under their shirt, or you'll see the outline of their gun on their leg. Might be a off duty cop, or someone with a permit. Usually they ain't criminals. They is mostly people with good jobs, and are out to protect themselves and the people around them. I ain't got no problem with that.

Doc: Yeah, Tondy, none of them people is gonna hurt you. They mostly are good people exercisin' they rights as Americans. You all cain't do that, cause you aint Americans in your country so you cain't carry guns. That's all. But we is all ok with it over here, except the ones what ain't cool with it. Lotsa people ain't cool with nothin'.

Doc Stevens, Marilyn and Big Dave on Insect Control.

Saturday, October 9, 2010 5:58 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: One thing that is immediately noticeable about being in the warmer rural areas of the US during the Summer is the amount of insects. I am fair skinned, and they seem to love English blood. (Think, "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.") Whenever I am in the US, I have to cover myself with insect repellent, and even then, they feast on me, and I end up being an itchy mound of insects bites and scabs.

I was eating on the porch at Doc and Marilyn's with Big Dave. They were happily playing music and singing. I was scratching like a madman. I was covered in welts from mosquitoes, and gnats and flies were buzzing around my head.

There were several homemade fly strips hanging from the eaves of the porch, and they were covered with flies. Still the flies and mosquitoes were landing on me as though I was a living and breathing fly strip.

Between songs, Marilyn told me how they make their fly strips by cutting a browFlystripn paper bag into 2" wide strips, and then soaking it in mixture of sugar and thick treacle (pancake syrup). She said molasses works good, too. She mixes sugar, water and the treacle in a pan and boils it, then puts the strips of brown paper (which she has already fastened the string to, for hanging it up) into the mixture. After it soaks a while, she pulls them out and hangs them from the eaves of the porch and inside, and in Doc's garage.

Noting my lack of knowledge in this field caused Doc and Big Dave to join in and tell me their other solutions for dealing with insects.

Doc: Fly strips is one way to keep bugs away. When we play at barbecues an' pig pickin's or other outdoor parties in the summer or if we is playin' in the streets, mosquitoes, gnats, an' flies can really get on your last nerve. Makes you sing like you's mad rather than like you got the blues or is broken hearted. People ain't like it when you sing like you're mad, and I don't, too.

I ain't never liked coverin' myself with bug spray, but mouthwash works good for keepin' the bugs away. I use the Wal Mart copycat of Listerine 'causin' it's cheaper. We put it in a spray bottle and put a few squirts on us and on the mics. We use it at home the same way. Buy it by the quart up to the General Dollar, if you ain't got a Wal Mart. Use it for mouthwash, bug spray and shampoo if you're runnin' short.

Fly strips ain't the only way to keep bugs away in the house, neither. Marilyn ain't like no fly strips in her bedroom, Tondy. She don't want flies hangin' over her head when she sleeps! She uses them little cloths what you get at the laundry mat for puttin' in the dryer. I think she gets hers at Dollar General or the Wal Mart...

Marilyn: They's called dryer sheets, Tondy. I clothes pin 'em to my curtains so I can have my windows open at night and the bugs'll stay out. My mama used to do that down to Tennessee when I was a little girl.

Mama used them Bounce dryer sheets for keepin' her bedroom smellin' nice, an' to keep bugs out. She hung 'em on the celilin' fan and kept it on the slow speed all the time in the Summer. She put them in her boyfriend's truck to keep it smellin' nice.

Big Dave: Yeah, and if you got a bee sting or spider bite, you can put deodorant on it. That's what I do. Most everyone over here in the USA does that, I reckon. Stops the itching.

Doc: Sometimes you need to stop the itching if you've been bug bit an' then you got to go somewhere an' play an' sing. You can't be up there scratchin'. Deodorant does work good for that.

Doc picked his guitar back up to start playing, Dave started playing, and Marilyn picked up a harp, and looked at me and squinched up her face:

Marilyn: Tondy, you better get inside to the bathroom and use some deodorant on your face and arms! Your head looks like a bowl full of raspberries. You won't be able to get your hat on tomorrow with your head swolled up!

HA HA! I take the mickey out of Doc over his big mistake! "The Animals" were a white British group! He thought they were black Americans!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 4:52 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: If you have been reading this blog, you know that Doc always refers to me as a "sissy" or a "sissy Brit," not due to any sexual identity issues on my part, but because he thinks I talk like a sissy (compared to him and his uncouth mates) and because compared to them, I am built rather slightly built at 5'7" and 8 1/2 stone.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a vid on youtube of Doc and Marilyn singing "Gonna Send You Back to Walker" which is among their favourite songs. Someone on youtube commented that they were surprised to hear Doc sing the sissy British version of the song, which was a cover of an American song called "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia." The commentor said that the Animals substituted the word Walker for Georgia to make it more relevant to a British audience.

I told Doc about this, and he was adamant that it was NOT a British cover, but that he had learnt it from an old record by a black group called The Animals! I informed Doc that The Animals were indeed WHITE and British...

Doc: Ain't NO way, Tondy! Them guys ain't little Brits like you! They was black guys. They sang John Lee Hooker Songs.Fats Domino songs. Billy Boy Arnold songs. Jimmy Reed songs. Sam Cook songs.Ray Charles songs. Those is BLACK songs, Tondy. Black songs. AMERICAN BLACK SONGS.

Tondeleo: Well, Doc, you're right about the songs they did, but they were a white British group, a YOUNG white British group, not an American blues group! Doc, have you ever seen a picture of them? How did you learn their songs? This is unbelievable! Ha Ha!

image Doc: Unbelievable? You need to BELIEVE, Tondy! But it ain't no laughin' matter! No, I ain't never seen no pictures of them. How could I? I found some records by The Animals in Clinchport, down when I was livin' there when I was a teenager. Someone left them in the roomin' house where we was stayin' an' they wasn't no pictures or covers or nothin.' Just the records. An' I kept 'em for my own an' wiped 'em down and put cloth around 'em and when we visited my cousins in North Carolina, I took them records with me to hear what they sounded like, and it was blues, mostly. It sounded like black people to ME. That singer screamed like a black man, not a white man. He hollered like a 40 year old black man, not no young white man. SO how was I supposed to know? You SURE they was white Brits?

Tondeleo: Yes, Doc! I know for a FACT that they were my fellow sissy Brits. And they were in my age group when they were singing those songs you love so much! Here are pictures of their albums with them on the over (I present Doc with some pics that I downloaded and stored on my phone)...image

Doc: Well, I'll BE! They IS white! They got hair like YOU and your friends. Well, I like how they sang better than the ones I knew an' I always liked that singer cause he sang in the same keys I sing in but is better. Brits, huh? I know Big Dave ain't gonna take kindly to being tricked like this neither, cause he made cassettes of my records an' leaernt the same songs an' thought they was black men and some of the best blues men we ever heard. White Brits. The Animals. [Long pause] Well, I bet they was hard workin' country boys, not office boys like you, right Tondy? Am I right about that?

Tondeleo: Well, Doc, they WERE hardworkin' English boys, from the rough part of town, I am certain. They weren't university educated and probably barely had their O levels, I believe.

Doc: Well, I don't think Marilyn would be able to take this, Tondy. It might break image her heart. Let's not say anything about this to her til she is a little older and can take this.

And we're gonna go back to singin' Gonna Send You Back to Georgia with the words from Timmy Shaw, how I first learned it. I got the 45 here somewhere.

[He left the room and went outside to his shed and emerged 20 minutes later with an old phonograph and a couple old 45 rpm vinyls, which sounded like someone had pioured sand on them and subjected me to hearing them a few times.]

...but I liked how The Animals done it better. We'll do it with his words and maybe some of The Animals' parts out of respect for them what come before us.

Doc Stevens on Homelessness, Street Survival and More - Part Two

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 12:22 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo - This is the second part of my talking with Doc about being homeless and living on the streets. He has been in a rented house for a few years now, but the times he was homeless are still very real to him. I asked him to give some information that could help someone who becomes homeless.

Doc: Shoes. Tennis shoes don't work when you're walkin' the streets. A lot ofguitar and workboots homeless people wear them, but they fall apart, the soles come off, and they wear out real quick. Get leather work boots, either the ones that come up over the ankle or the taller ones. I like the ones that comes up over the ankle. Steel toe is what I always go for. Did then and still do. Leather work boots don't make your feet rot and stink, they protect your toes and they last longer. I get mine at thrift stores for about five or six bucks. Ten bucks for really good ones.

You can get free clothes at the dumpster behind a thrift shop. All of them throw away good clothes what no one bought yet. Clothes, shoes, hats, jeans, t shirts. All for free.

Tondeleo: I never thought of that. Thanks. How about staying clean when you're homeless?

Doc: You gotta stay clean. Staying clean is important and not stinking like crap. You gotta stay clean. I always used rubbin' alcohol and cotton balls. You can do  monkey bath with alcohol and cotton balls. Hit the back of your neck and behind your ears. Most people miss those and have gray necks. Do your face, armpits, privates and feet. Get between your toes real good to keep foot rot off your feet. You can use alcohol to get the smell outta your socks, too. Get the toe area a little wet with alcohol and it will kill the germs and get rid of the stink. Alcohol and cotton balls are cheap. I always carry peroxide - hydrogen peroxide, too. You need it for any cuts or scrapes but you need to use it as a mouth wash and for brushing your teeth in. It kills germs and will foam all up when it is in your mouth, which means you had a lot of germs in your mouth. It is cheap, too. The best way to stay well is to kill the germs in your mouth, where most of them come in. Use peroxide in your mouth in the morning and also before you go to sleep at night. I still do that a lot.

You can also wash up in a gas station bath room or fast food places. They got hot water and also got toilet paper which you need. If you buy a order of fries you're a customer and got a right to the bathroom.

You can't be going around sick, smelly and dirty and expect people to treat you with  respect. They SHOULD, but they won't. Because if YOU don't seem to respect you, how is THEY gonna be able to respect you? They won't.

Tondeleo: Tell me about food. Where do you get food?

Doc: Dumpsters behind fast food places after they close at night. Most of 'em throw out what they ain't sold. You need to be clean, polite and not spooky looking or creepy. What I would do is go in about ten minutes afore closin' time and say I was hungry and ain't had no money, and could I get whatever food was left outta their dumpster when they close? You gotta smile and be friendly. Can't be stinky and dirty. Clean shaved face helps. Mostly you can find at least one person in a fast food joint what will feel sorry for you and help you out. Sometimes they will set it on the ground behind the dumpster for you.

A couple days later you can do the same thing. Don't make it an everyday thing. That is one way. You can check the dumpsters behind grocery stores but do that in the late morning. Mostly that is the best time, because they throw out fruit and veggies, dairy products and meat. But you need to get it before the sun gets hot and makes it rot. By three o'clock to me, it is too late. I don't want to risk getting food poisoning. In the Summer, you got to really be there in the late morning before the heat makes the food rot. In the Winter, it ain't that big a hurry. It's better to go hungry than to get sick.

Sometimes, if you're friendly, clean and show respect, the sDSCF5339ales people what come to stock the stores, like the bread man or donut man will give you a box of whatever they are taking out of the store. Offer to help them load their truck, and usually they will give you some donuts or bread or whatever.

Bein' helpful goes a long way. I have got jobs just by bein' helpful and offerin' to clean up the parkin' lot of a body shop or garage and then after doin' a good job, askin' if I can take out the trash and help with anything inside. Mostly, they would let me and then give me a few dollars. But you can't come in there smelling like alcohol, or smellin' dirty or actin' crazy and expect them to let you in. They will think you're just casing them to come back later and steal.

That's another thing, Tondy. If someone trusts you to do a job, like clean up they's parkin' lot, or mow they's grass, don't NEVER STEAL from them! That is lower than a snake, to steal when someone is trusting you and tryin' to help you out. I look at it this way: if it ain't mine, I don't want it. Lessin' it's for sale and then, if I want it, I will try to work for it and get the money and buy it.

There's some churches what can help. Not all of them have food pantries but some do. I found that if you look as clean as possible, and talk as nice as possible, they mostly will help you. Most of them won't give out money, cause they ain't got it, most of them don't have money sittin' around, but they can help with food. Don't never swear around the church people. Be happy, hopeful, and it is good to ask them to remember you in prayer. I have had them pray for me and then I got a job, more than once.

If you got tools or a ring, or a guitar or something, you can pawn it. But they don't give you hardly nothin' for it, and then you got to hustle some money or you'll lose it forever. I have pawned a guitar for just enough money for something else I might need to make some money - like cleanin' supplies to detail cars with for whatever I can charge, usually $25 or $30. But then you gotta get back there in a couple days before you blow your money on a motel room or somethin' else what takes your money but don't give you no return on it.

You can panhandle. But you got to look friendly, an' smile, and be nice. That is a lot of work when you are homeless and hurtin' an' hungry. Smilin' an' bein' nice or a little funny IS a job an' people should pay you for it! You cain't go up to somebody when you're dirty an' needin' a shave, and your eyes are all bloodshot and say, "Give me some money." They'll think you're robbin' 'em and call the cops. Learn to act nice and harmless.

You can sweep parking lots or take out trash. Mow grass. Rake leaves. Clean windows. Clean out people's gutters. Use their ladder.

DSCF5336  Here's one I did: I got $30 for doin' some work. I went to the Pep Boys and bought glass cleaner, paper towels, that car wash in a spray can stuff, some tire spray to make 'em shiny and got some of their sale papers when you walk in the door.

Then I went to office buildings and told people I could detail their car for $20. I would do it right there in the parking lot, so they didn't have to give me the key to the car. I would use the spray wash n' wax, clean they's windows and wheels with the glass cleaner and make the tires shiny black. Takes a half hour. For $20! You can always get two or three of those a day, which'll get you a motel room, some food and more supplies. Once you do one car, they look at it and pay you and then tell the other people workin' there. One time I did five cars in one day at one place! I did that down to Atlanta a few times so I could get money to get 'stablished. Ain't that hard.

If you can play harp [harmonica] you can set a can, or cup or box or hat on the ground and sing and play harp for money...

Tondeleo: How can you sing and play harmonica at the same time...

Doc: You sing a line, and then play a line. Then sing a line an' answer it with the harp. That works good with country or blues songs, which is what I do. And you put on a little show with it. Maybe dance a bit here and there, or something. Not scary or crazy but funny an' happy. Crazy runs people off. Funny brings 'em in. All you need is two or three harps in different keys an' you can sing most any song out there.

That's some ways to get food and keep clean and get some pennies together.

Doc Stevens on Homelessness, Street Survival and More - Part One

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:29 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: Unlike in the UK where we have a good system of resources for the homeless, including dosshouses ("homeless shelters" in the US) in the cities, that can provide shelter for hundreds of people, in the US, there are just not that many good solid resources. Part of this seems to come from the American mentality of "if we reward non achievement, we'll get more of it." In other words, if they make it easier to live without having a job, more people wlll quit their jobs and go into government provided shelters.

Of course, this does not take into account the fact that many are jobless and homeless against their wills, and have absolutely no desire to be taken care of by Big Brother. There are some cities in America where "tent villages" are tolerated, but this is a relatively new phenomenon.

Doc and I were talking about this, and I wanted his take on it, since he has been poor all of his life, and has been homeless from time to time. He has talked about this in other posts, but there is such an increase in the jobless and the homeless, it seems as though one could talk about it and share experiences almost endlessly.

Doc: Yeah, I been homeless. Not since takin' Marilyn in, but afore that, yeah. I ain't usually stay homeless for long, just a few weeks at a time til I could get some money together an' get a motel room or 'ficiency apartment. But yeah I been homeless.

You gotta be real careful when you're homeless. Lotsa reasons. There is the weather, in the winter, even down south. And cops what think you're a drug addict or wino which I was not and a lot of homeless people are not. People think you're mental or crazy an' want you off the streets or they think you're gonna rob them or steal from them or hurt their kids. And some people does do them things, and it ain't always homeless people what does them.

One thing what is hard when you're homeless is to stay off the sauce...

Tondeleo: What sauce?

Doc: Alcohol. You get down on yourself an' on your life and think things won't get any better an' it's more than you can stand. It's easy to take a couple of bucks and buy a bottle of liquor and try to forget about your problems so you can sleep. But you gotta stay away from that, or it'll take over your life. Well, for me it would.

You ain't got much money, an' food is hard to come by, but liquor ain't. So you spend what money you got for liquor instead of food, an' now you're not eatin' but drinkin' and you ain't thinkin' right. That is a hard one to stay away from when you're homeless. But if you don't stay away from it, it'll keep you homeless. Drugs, too. When you you're down in the mullygrubs 'cause you're broke and out of work and not eatin' right, and if you got pains and ain't sleepin' right, it's easy to start doin' pills or smokin' weed to make yourself feel better. That can lead you down a path you have to stay strong to keep off of. Ain't nobody never planned on bein' a drunk or drug addict, but millions is. You gotta say away from it.

Tondeleo: How did you stay away from it?

Doc: I mostly stick to myself, even now, Tondy. On the streets, I kept to myself. When you're first homeless, you think you need to be with the other guys what's homeless, to keep you encouraged, and maybe for protection. It ain't worth it, cause they ain't gonna protect you. They'll steal from you and take anything you got when you're sleepin'. And some of them is crazy. They might get it in their head that you are the caused of they's problems and might wanna kill you.

Some of them is vets and they got that BBSB [PTSD] and they scream out at night, of freak out for no reason. Others is on drugs an' will rip you off in a heartbeat. There is some really violent people out there, and I got tired of the gossip and thinkin' everybody is out to get you that they had. I didn't want to get that way myself, which be easy to happen. Plus I ain't like fightin' so I stuck to myself.

Tondeleo: How did you stay warm in the winter? Did you build a campfire and sleep beside it?

Doc: A CAMPFIRE? No! Not where ever I was homeless! You can't build a fire in town. Cops'll get you and throw you in the can. No, that ain't how you keep warm. We mostly would go behind a store and get cardboard. You need cardboard under you to keep you off the ground. Otherwise it'll give you arthritis or room a tism sleeping on the ground.So get cardboard to sleep on. Then you need some over you. A fridgerator box is a good thing, cause you can sleep in it and it keeps the wind off you. You can make a lean to, and use the back of the store for one wall. That's the way we done it mostly.

I was up north one winter and on the streets for a couple weeks. What I learned up there was to get a pair of coveralls from the thrift store, and I would wad up newspapers and stuff them down in it so I looked like a snow man. Newspapers'll keep the body heat in. In the morning, you take 'em out and put them under the cardboard so they'll be there when you come back at night.

You got to keep your area clean, not messy. You don't want them throwin' away your cardboard and papers and you ain't got nothin' when you come back at night. Here's another way. Get a hot water bottle at Dollar General or Wal Mart. Go into the bathroom at a gas station or Wal Mart or wherever and fill it with as hot of water as you can. Put that inside your clothes and it will keep you warm at night. You got to stay warm or it will mess up your thinking and you might go psycho. Least that's what they say, and I ain't gonna find out.

People is scared of homeless people. Think you're psycho. You gotta do all you can to not seem like a psycho. And you got to keep lookin' for work.