My Daddy Never Gets A Live One!<br />Written and experienced by S.L. Stephenson, DVM<br />aka<br />DrShinola<br />TABLE of COnTENts<br />Chapter One – (Rubor) 3<br />cHAPTER tWo - (Et Tumore) 13<br />cHAPTER tHREE – (Con Calore) 51<br />CHAPTER FOUR – (Et Dolore) 74<br />Chapter Five – (Rubor Et tumore con calore et dolore) 91<br />Chapter Six – (Conclusion) 112<br /> <br />1857375156210<br />Chapter One<br />(rubor)<br />(redness)<br /> DrShinola… How in the world did I get to be known as “DrShinola”? I mean, really… That’s a dumb name, don’t you think? Now, I’m not saying that I’m dumb enough not to know the difference between feces (shit) and Shinola, but - oh, well… never mind! It is kind of a catchy name, so I’m going to keep it! That’ll be my pen name. I love it when people ask me, “How in the world did you decide on a shitty name like DrShinola?” Excuse me “French”, but I’m glad you asked!<br /> What in the world is Shinola anyway? How did I obtain a doctorate degree in Shinola? Ask anyone less than 50 yrs old these days and they have no idea what Shinola is. I’ll try to explain… Shinola is (or was) a brand of shoe polish previously manufactured in the U.S.A. The alliteration or assonance and the fact that the two commodities in this phrase could possibly be confused are the root. Both words begin with “sh”. The distinction is well made; only one of them would be good to apply to your shoes and only particularly dim, i.e. (not bright) people could be expected to mix them up. Of course, outside America, most people don't know Shinola from anything at all, as they've never heard of it. Even in America it would probably not be widely remembered but for this phrase. (“… don’t know shit from Shinola!”)<br /> Authorities don’t know Shinola from that other stuff, either! Shinola was a brand of shoe polish popular in the first half of the 20th century. The expression “Doesn’t know shit from Shinola” became popular in World War II era, used to denote a hopelessly clueless individual.<br /> The 'ola' suffix is popular in the USA as part of trade names, e.g. Crayola, Granola etc. This leads to the pronunciation of Shinola as shine + ola. That spoils the alliteration a little as it would work better as shin + ola. One has to be a PhD to understand all of this, don’t you think? Uh, no…<br /> Let me explain the origin of my honorary title. In the early 1990’s, just after E. coli, a normal bacterial intestinal inhabitant located in every animal species made its impact by infecting people who had eaten a hamburger (ground beef) which had not been fully cooked. It was sometimes a fatal infection to many people and was rightfully deemed a critical item for correction by the Food Safety Inspection Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture. Keep in mind, we’re dealing with a microscopic bacterium here, and the USDA/FSIS needed to be able to identify fecal contamination of animal carcasses at slaughter, no matter how small the poop (contaminant) was.<br /> I was picked to be on the team with the USDA/FSIS to arrive at a written description of feces so that all inspection personnel would know exactly what they were to be looking for. In short, we needed to educate the inspection force on how to recognize feces, i.e. shit, crap, poop, intestinal expulsion! Is this a new disease caused by a new bacterium? Was this a newly discovered disease? Was this something never before recognized? Nope, nada, uh-uh… you gotta be kidding me!<br /> Escherichia coli has been here forever. Many humans have very little natural immunity to this bacterium which is a normal intestinal inhabitant. “Wash your hands after you pet the dog, Stevie!” Mom used to say. Teachers would say, “Students, be sure to use the hand sanitizer before touching the keyboard, pencils, books, etc.” Even in the grocery stores, hand sanitizer is offered before using their “dirty” grocery carts! I even saw a sign in one of the high school classrooms advising students to use a paper towel to cover the doorknobs before entering a classroom! No wonder we have basically no immunity to bacteria found in feces. We’re simply too clean!!<br /> When I was selected for this project, I thought, “What an odd assignment, but I felt I was up to this meaningful (shitty) assignment and I wanted to go.” (Anything to get out and away from the meat inspectors in Cactus, Texas!) I knew I had ideas to offer, but I couldn’t go empty handed. It’s just not me, as you will soon find out. I had a couple of days, so I began developing my strategy. I needed to find something that reminds everybody of feces without having to describe it.<br /> If anyone knew their shit, it was me! The use of humor is often a very effective ingredient in teaching. If it makes someone smile at the thought, they won’t likely forget it. Actually, every animal including humans produces feces. We’re full of it! How can I make them think of feces and enjoy it? Make them happy that they make it? Then, when I thought my luck couldn’t get any better, an extremely enjoyable movie came into being. “The Jerk” entered into the world!<br /> The movie “The Jerk” gave me an idea. Navin Johnson, played by Steve Martin was adopted by a family of black sharecroppers. When he was about to leave his home, his black father took him into the farmyard to teach him a few things before he went out into the real world. “See that?” his father asked as he pointed to the ground. “That’s shit! See this? (He was holding up a can of Shinola.) This is Shinola.” Then he repeated “shit” by pointing to the pile on the ground and repeated “Shinola” as he pointed to the can he was holding.<br /> Navin replied as he pointed to the ground, “Shit!” Then he pointed to the can his adopted father was holding and said, “Shinola!” Then he repeated himself to demonstrate that he knew the difference, (or at least could differentiate) between Shit and Shinola.<br /> When I thought about the task of developing a written description of feces, I knew I had a winner. Just as Navin’s dad told him, “Son, you’re going to be all right!” I knew that I too, was going to be all right! <br /> Suddenly, I had an idea I just had to act on! I had to find a container of Shinola! Shinola was no longer for sale or in production. I searched everywhere… I finally found it in an antique store in Fort Worth, Texas, but on my way back to my car, I tripped and fell. I cradled the bottle of Shinola as I hit the ground and broke a couple of my ribs, but I protected my Shinola! Navin would have been proud of me! A painful shopping spree, but I had it! I had the very item which would make everyone smile when they thought of feces. “I’m somebody!” I exclaimed to myself.<br /> When I arrived at the descriptive meeting, we began straining on this important function… Sort of like having a bowel movement… This is getting better and better, i.e. my bowel movement function I just talked about! I hadn’t planned on this nifty addition to my writings, but as the urge hits, MOVE ON IT!!<br /> We spent three or four days trying to describe feces which is produced via bowel movements, defecation, rectal excrement, to produce this E. coli contaminated feces, aka crap, poop, stool, caca or shit if you will! This sounds like it would not be complicated, but it was much more difficult than it sounds.<br /> The task of describing feces in layman’s terms was and still is a difficult task. Excuse this next example, but let’s try to describe a buggar. You try to describe a buggar. What color is it? Does it have anything else mixed in with it? Is your nose bloody? What about when you pass a buggar, aren’t you blowing your nose? Why not simply fan it? Isn’t snot simply a collection of buggars? Try to describe water…<br /> There’s plain water which is the clear colorless liquid, odorless and tasteless when pure. Water occurs as rain, fog, sleet, hail, snow and ice. It forms rivers, lakes and seas, and is essential for life. Naturally occurring water picks up color and taste from substances in its environment. Water in its purest form is made up solely of two elements, hydrogen and oxygen. The chemical formula of water is simply H2O.<br /> There are many variations of water. There’s clear and colorless water. Muddy water, cloudy water, colored water, running water, standing water, rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog, etc. See the difficulty? Now let’s get back to feces. Let’s get back to the reason we’re talking about this crap, shit if you will!<br /> Everyone knows where feces comes from, what it is, what it smells like, and on and on! I finally said, "
We can't describe feces, because we don't have our standard!"
They asked me. "
What's the standard?"
I said, "
We can't describe avian (chicken, geese, turkeys, etc.) feces, bovine (cattle) feces, porcine (pig) feces, ovine (sheep) feces, caprine (goat) feces, equine (horse) feces (I had no idea what species an ostrich is, so I said ostrich shit), because we don't know "
from …wait a second.<br /> I needed to produce my throbbing, but invaluable visual example which was my container of shoe polish, my theatrical description, my “Shinola"
! My ribs still hurt… That's when I decided my name should be and will be (no shit) "
! Let’s return to my book now that I’ve told you how I became known as “DrShinola”.<br /> As clearly as yesterday, (must have been 7 or 8) I remember hiding behind the fence in back of the barn, (I did not want to be seen…) I was crying and praying for each calf's life as my step-father (Henry) worked calves through the squeeze chute. Each feeble calf would struggle frantically as it entered the squeeze chute only to have the solid steel walls cave in on each side and the head gate slam shut on its tender neck. The calf would assume the same stance a convicted felon on death row would show as he entered the electric chair or gas chamber. (I remember seeing death row inmates at the movies…)<br /> Then the injections began...then the branding as white smoke billowed into the air, incinerating the hair and boiling the hide...then the knife castration...then the sawing off of the horns with blood spurting high into the air after the head was completely secured by an iron bar squishing the calf’s head onto the head gate.<br /> After the horns were sawed off, a hot branding iron was pressed onto the blood vessels to sear off or cauterize the bleeding. Then the calf was given a bolus of big ol' pills. Then it was given a shot right in the eyelid for pinkeye. On top of all that, the calf’s eyes were sprayed purple!<br /> As he would turn it loose in preparation for the next calf, Henry would jokingly exclaim, "
I guess that one'll die!"
as he made an expression of pain on his face, just to enjoy my reaction. Then he assumed an agonizing stance, again for my benefit. When the chute would open up to let the calf go, the calf would just stand there, shake its head in anguish after being vaccinated, branded, dewormed, deloused, treated for pink-eye, given antibiotics, sulfa-boluses, dehorned and castrated.<br /> Then it would take off in a conquered trot. As I mentally tried to put myself through this rough handling, I was horrified for a moment. I was amazed at the ability of each calf to recover so quickly from this grisly ordeal. Millions of calves have undergone the same treatment worldwide, (and still do). I now realize that few suffer any long-term ill effects, but I took him seriously and prayed more earnestly for the calf's life than any preacher had ever prayed for a terminally ill human patient.<br /> After Henry and I finished working the cattle through this nightmare, it was time to get back on the tractor. We had just finished cutting the wheat and we had a lot of plowing to do. Henry was a farmer and I was his helper, i.e. “his fuddler”. I looked up “fuddle” in the dictionary and it apparently involves alcohol, but I’ve never been a drinker and Henry was way too religious to ever even think of alcohol. He just liked the word, I guess. Henry raised wheat, cattle, maize, alfalfa and anything else to make money for the family, and I was his associate. There. That sounds better… his associate, not his fuddler!<br /> As I climbed onto the tractor and sat down on the hot metal seat, I began to think of my background. I was still feeling sorry for the calves.<br /> I thought about my real Dad. He died when I was three years old. He was a pharmacist and owned the drug store in Groom, Texas. I spent my days in Groom going to all the local businesses. I was well-known as “Stevie boy”. The only vision of Dad I remember seeing is him dressed in grey slacks with a white shirt (sleeves rolled to the elbows) standing over the kitchen sink vomiting blood.<br /> Mom says this did not happen, but that is what I remember. While I was in veterinary school, I learned that uremia, which he reportedly died from, is toxic, and destroys the blood vessels and causes bleeding in the G. I. tract. This confirmed his death (to me) of his uremic poisoning due to kidney failure.<br /> Since this is what I remember about my Dad dying, I guess I need to explain how this collection of my memories took place. In 1996, my sisters asked each sibling to write one of our favorite memories to be included as a memento for each of us in our family.<br /> I struggled with this assignment for weeks. When the deadline drew near, I decided I would include many of the memorable events about my life. I could not limit myself to only one event. This is what I created. These events created me.<br />Chapter Two<br />(Et tumor)<br />(and swelling)<br />Memories of<br />Stephen Lynn Stephenson, aka<br />Stevie Boy Stephenson, aka<br />Stevie Stephenson, aka<br />Steve Stephenson, aka<br />S. L. Stephenson, D.V.M., aka<br />Dr. Stephenson, aka<br />DrShinola<br />MY MEMORIES<br /> I decided that if I was ever going to get some of my memories on paper, I'd better make them short. I'm going to start by telling you mostly about my growing up in Groom. All will be randomly listed as my memory is triggered with no particular order or reason. I admit that I am a man of few words, so don’t expect much description of places, people or things. Read it as written and you’ll enjoy it, I hope! The reason for telling you all about my earlier years is to help you understand why I am like I am!<br />I was one content kid<br /> All little boys fall in love. I’ve got to tell you about my love affairs I fell into in my younger years, starting with my first girl friend, Gay Nell in the first grade. I used to smooch her picture! Wow… I thought she was beautiful! I was deeply in love, (of course I was only in the 1st grade.) My high school sisters had a pair of long white gloves I used to take to bed with me. That way I could dream about Gay Nell kissing me as she wore those long white gloves. That’s about as far as this love episode lasted as she moved away sometime that year. I was heartbroken. I remember telling myself, “No more women (well, girls) for me!” <br /> I appointed myself as President of the Local Women Haters Club. If “Alfalfa” from the “Little Rascals” could get appointed, so could I. I think I decided to hate girls, because I could not imagine my love being so cruel by moving away when I so deeply adored her. Of course, I had no idea what reason her parents had for moving my love escort out of my life! Who did they think they were? Grown-ups? I made Danny, my neighborhood best friend, the vice-president. I doubt if I ever told Danny why I started the women-haters club. He just went along with me. One doesn’t tell Alfalfa “no”. No questions asked.<br /> Melody moved into my life when I was in the sixth grade. I had been President of the Women Hater’s Club for nearly five years when I decided that girls really weren’t all that bad. She had boobs! I had no idea what they were for, but I did like the looks of ‘em! In the sixth grade! Big ‘uns! Melody, as well, was a fine-looking girl. Ok, beautiful…<br /> One problem appeared that I had not really figured on with Melody. My step-father, Henry was an Elder in the church we attended and I had been told I could not comfortably date or ever eventually marry a Catholic. (Now really…, I was a whopping 11 years old!) Things never did really work out with Melody and me. She had a really mean brother, named Larry, who hated me. I think he hated me because I could not speak a word when I got close to Melody. I was more or less a “mute”. <br /> Larry was killed in the Vietnam War years later after we grew older. I went to Washington, DC a few years ago and found his name on the Vietnam Memorial, also known as, “The Wall”. He hated everyone. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’ll try to beat me up when I kick the bucket… My condolences to his relatives, especially Melody… <br /> I used to dream about Melody while I was plowing. She’d come floating over the horizon wearing a beautiful white dress and bringing me something to eat. I would then imagine taking her into my arms and kissing her passionately. I was some kind of a romantic, huh?<br /> Well, marriage for me, an 11 year old was out of the question for Melody and me. Time to move on… <br /> When Beverly and her big brother Steve moved to Groom, my fascination with Melody came to a sudden stop. Melody really was pretty, but WOW, Beverly was gorgeous! Beverly had long beautiful blonde hair. She wasn’t interested in me, though. She was dating a fellow named Herbie, who I’ll discuss later on. Notice my never-ending desire to be with beautiful women?<br /> I was completely speechless around all girls, but managed to work up the strength once and asked Beverly to sit by me in the movie theatre in Groom. She said, “Yes!” When I got to the movies, I was all “slicked up” and waited for her to arrive. Problem was, she never showed up! Guess she forgot, huh? I was devastated for a week or so, until I fell in love again.<br /> I discovered a girl in high school named Twyla during the coldest, wettest winter I had ever experienced. Twyla was a bit of a “tomboy”, but I fell for her, anyway. I used to make plans during that winter of asking Twyla to go for a ride with me on my Harley Davidson M-50 when the weather warmed up to at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit.<br /> I don’t think it ever reached the 40 degree temperature mark, even today. Twyla was really smart and eventually became an osteopathic physician. I don’t think we ever went out together, as it never warmed up! Time to move on… Maybe this is where I get my instinctive need to accept change and move on into another situation. Gay Nell moved out of my life, Melody didn’t work out, Beverly didn’t accept me, Twyla … well, and the weather never cooperated!<br /> Farther along in high school, I met Paulette through a friend of mine named James. James had been making trips to Panhandle which was 30 miles from Groom and asked me if I wanted a girlfriend. I said, “sure” and he said, “Do you want to have a really good-looking girlfriend or one who is plainer looking?”<br /> I said, “You can have the really good-looking one and I’ll take what’s left, as long as she ain’t too bad!” After our first double date, all roads led to Panhandle for several years. As it turned out, I fell deeply in love (again) and even asked Paulette to marry me. I was really serious and even bought a diamond ring for her! I was not a man without a plan, and yes, I thought she was beautiful, too.<br /> In 1969, I graduated from high school in Groom and was ready for college. I used to watch all the TV shows I could about being a physician. Marcus Welby, MD, was my favorite television show. Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare and Chicago Hope were also watched religiously by me. My plans after college were to go on into medical school and also to marry Paulette.<br /> Paulette was a year behind me, so she stayed in Panhandle while I was away in college. I spent my first year at Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas. I missed Paulette relentlessly, so I went home every weekend. I used to dream with Paulette about my desires to become a neurosurgeon. I had it all figured out how I could transplant a head from one person to another. Bet I could’ve done it, too!<br /> I had a cousin who was a surgeon in Wichita Falls and he knew of my desire to become a physician. He even allowed me to watch him perform surgery once. He took some guy’s lung out and when he was finished removing it, you could have heard a pin drop. The nurses and I were simply in awe from observing this procedure. He realized the moment of extreme silence and kicked a stainless steel bucket across the floor and announced, “I thought for a moment that he might have “kicked the bucket!”<br /> I thought the nurses were going to get angry or worse when the bucket quit bouncing around, but they just laughed like I did. Everyone was relieved, as this was an extremely serious, life-threatening operation. A little humor goes a long way.<br /> I darn near went broke driving back and forth from Wichita Falls to Groom and to Panhandle and to Amarillo or Pampa to take Paulette to the movies and to eat out. Gasoline was extremely expensive! I’d pull into a gas station and would immediately drive off. There’s no way I was going to pay <br />$ 0.32 per gallon! Gas wars were common then and I was used to seeing gasoline in the $0.19 range. The cheapest I ever bought gasoline was $0.11 per gallon, and that’s where it should still be. I can’t believe we’re paying over $3.00 per gallon now. Unbelievable…<br /> During one of my trips home later that year, Paulette announced to me that she wanted to live her own life and that we should break up. She said she wanted to be able to date other guys for events like the Senior prom, dances and so on.<br /> I was completely taken by surprise and had no idea how to react. I finally figured I’d go ahead and get it over with. I thought that at the current gas price of $0.32 per gallon, it was just as well. I took her home, followed her into her house and loaded up every single thing I had given her, including her, diamond… I mean MY diamond ring. After all, I paid for it!<br /> After the break up, I drove back to my apartment in Canyon, Texas. The more I thought about my dilemma, the madder I became. I hit my windshield so hard, it totally shattered, well, cracked badly. Luckily, it was shatterproof, but I had to drive the rest of the way with my head out the window so I could see. I felt like a dog riding with my head out the window.<br /> I met Judy by “making the drag” in Pampa, Texas. Guys used to drive down one street for several blocks, turn left and go several more blocks, then turn around and retrace the route. While all guys were doing this, we’d find a car with girls in it and decide whether or not to pick them up. I picked Judy and we had a very short date. Then I asked her to go out again with me, but she was going to a business school in Amarillo. I told her I was going to college at WT and I only lived about 20 minutes or so from her apartment. We dated for several months and she was and still is a really nice girl. Judy was very sympathetic towards me and listened patiently as I cried about losing Paulette. I learned to like Judy, but never really felt like I loved her, so I tried to reunite with Paulette.<br /> I invited Judy to a Christmas dinner at my house in Groom to meet my parents. I couldn’t stop grieving for Paulette, so I broke up with her and tried to get Paulette back into my life. (Yeah, right…) Good thing Paulette never responded favorably to my pleas. <br /> Connie was Judy’s roommate and I met her while I was dating Judy. Wow, that was tough, as Connie was then and still is today, (I think) beautiful! I couldn’t take my eyes off of Connie. I never found out her measurements, but I’ll bet they were pert-near perfect!<br /> One day while I was visiting Connie at their apartment, a pickup screeched to a stop in their drive-by street. Judy and her new boyfriend were parked in their car outside the apartment. Pickup doors slammed shut and people started hollering at each other, then the fist fight began. Judy’s ex-boyfriend and his friend began beating up her new boyfriend. I ran outside and pulled them off and they started hitting me! “What am I getting into,” I thought. <br /> I started to slug them, but kept thinking about breaking my windshield after I ended it with Paulette. One guy was standing with his legs wide apart and I thought seriously about kicking him in the testicles, but I didn’t want to kill the guy. I let them keep hitting me, but I did bob and weave a lot. I mean, I ain’t a dumb-ass, you know.<br /> As time progressed, I asked Connie to marry me. She said yes! Connie and I had planned to elope, but didn’t think about our secret getting out, much less getting our marriage license published in the Amarillo paper. Cybil, Mom’s friend in Groom, found out about it and called Mom to inform her of our marriage license. We had a full church wedding 6 days later with all the trimmings thanks to Mom. Mom passed away in 2006, so I should to tell you of a few of my events with her… This poem strongly reminds me of her.<br />ME MUDDER<br />When my prayers were poorly said,who tucked me in me widdle bedand spanked me butt ‘til it was red?<br />.......Me Mudder!<br />In the morning,when the lights would comeand in me crib me dribbled some,who wiped me widdle tiny bun?<br />.......Me Mudder!<br />Who took me from me cozy cotand placed me on me ice cold potand made me pee-peewhen me could not?<br />.......Me Mudder!<br />Who's hair so gently she would partand hold me tightly to her heartand sometimes squeeze me‘til I'd.....fart?<br />.......Me Mudder!<br />Who looked at me with eyebrowsdrooped, and screamed and yelled‘til she had the croup when inme Sunday pants I...pooped?<br />.......Me Mudder!<br /> I now realize how literal a kid takes what a grownup says. When I was a kid, Mom used to tell me when I went outside how I had better not get my Sunday school clothes muddy. I took my clothes off and hung them on my tricycle while I jumped in a mud puddle. Didn't get my clothes dirty. Well, I did get my underwear dirty. I was about 6 years old…<br /> Carolyn, my sister and I played behind the drug store after a huge rain. I thought I could float across the mini-lake in a potato chip can and had to stand for hours behind the drug store while I dried out in the sun. Carolyn got a big kick out of my misery.<br /> I remember some drunk showing up in Groom. He had no legs and rode on a wooden platform on wheels. He used pieces of wood and his arms to propel himself forward while his torso was on his “vehicle”. I thought I saw a go-cart coming out of the drug store, so I ran down to look this apparatus over. I’d never seen anything like this before and I was really excited.<br /> When I made it to the front of the drug store, I guess I made this guy extremely uncomfortable and he, without more ado, started screaming, "
Look at me! Look at me! Make fun of me! Make fun of me!"
Everyone thought my eyes were going to pop out. Carolyn and I hid in upstairs in the drug store for awhile. Anything to get out of his sight and mind. I just knew he was going to kill me.<br /> I made a soup to feed the same fellow, just in case he ever tried to track me down. It contained rotten vegetables, table scraps, dog poop, gasoline, spoiled milk, chocolate (for flavoring), dirt, gravel, cigarette butts, dead sparrows, oil, etc. It stunk so much he never came back to try it. I guess he figured he'd better not mess with me!<br /> I remember having the mumps and being too sick to go to school, but not too sick to have a good time. I wanted to go out and play, because I wasn’t feeling that bad. I looked like I had two jaw breakers in my mouth when I looked in the mirror. I was really swollen up! I was home alone, so I called the drug store to ask Mom if I could go outside. Mom said “No!”<br /> I was really hacked off, so I threw my tinker toy can. It bounced around the living room and landed on the coffee table. The table had a glass top and it shattered the glass. “What have I done now?” I thought. I quickly came up with a solution. I lined up all my tinker toys and told Mom not to bother it, because I was making something special. It worked for about two weeks.<br /> When I used to get in trouble, Mom would pull a belt out to spank me. Keep in mind, this was before child abuse laws, child protective services, etc. came into being. I'd get Mom laughing and the punishment wouldn't be so bad. I think that method is hereditary, because Stephen, my son used it very effectively on me. <br /> When Stephen would get in trouble, I used to spank him. Just as I was about to apply either my hand or my belt to his rear, Stephen would ask me, “Ever wonder how Dolly Parton got two black eyes?” I knew better than to ask, “Why?”, but I couldn’t resist what I knew was coming. I’d say “No. Why?” He’d say, “From jogging!” Then we’d both laugh our heads off. This trick didn’t work with Connie.<br /> Henry and I were our own worst enemies. I remember taking the engine on our Minneapolis Moline (the farm tractor) completely apart several times while Henry (my step-dad) and I tried to figure out why water was getting into the oil. We finally gave-up and took it to the mechanic and let him fix it.<br /> I used to spend hours walking around the horse tank gathering snails. Henry called me his "
I was a good “fuddler”.<br /> Maxine, my sister and Lynda, Maxine’s best friend once drove me into the country and made me kiss them on the cheek or I'd have to walk back. The first time they tried, I started walking. The next time they gave me the choice I gave them a very quick peck. Boy, I hated that, but it was a long way back to town.<br /> My first fishing trip with Henry, my step-father was in Canton, Oklahoma. It was great. We didn't have anything but a blanket, a pillow and a couple of fishing poles. We got there late at night and found a spot that looked ok, but it had lots of rocks. We unrolled our sleeping bags and lay there a few minutes, planning on going to sleep.<br /> Henry was about to call it quits until I stretched and said, "
Man, this is really living!"
Henry just groaned and rolled over.<br /> On another fishing trip, we forgot our alarm clock and didn't have a watch. We got up at the same time, looked at the horizon, saw a glow and decided to go into town to eat a quick breakfast so that we could start fishing early, early!<br /> When we got to Canton, there was absolutely nobody around except a night watchman. We waved him down and asked him where everyone was. He told us it was 2:00 a.m. and they were all at home, except for him.<br /> We went back to the camp and slept until after 9:00 a.m. Then when we did start fishing, other fishermen were talking about how the fish had been biting like crazy earlier that morning. Later that day, the dam was opened. There was an old man with at least 999 fishing poles, (well, at least six), set up over the bridge. I asked if the fish were biting and he said, "
No! Fishin' ain't no good around here, but they were sure biting earlier this morning."
His fish stringer was full…<br /> I used to get blamed for everything. One time, Mom blamed me for carving a game of tic-tac-toe on some wax fruit. About a year later, I was getting into trouble again and I told Mom that I didn't do it, just like I hadn’t played tic-tac-toe on the wax fruit. Carolyn finally owned up to it, but she didn't get into trouble.<br /> I remember going to a church camp at Camp Blue Haven in New Mexico and getting so homesick that I was a blubbering idiot for the entire two weeks. Camp Blue Haven is a church camp. Remember Henry, my step father, the Elder? Where else could I have gone? Camp Blue Haven is in the mountains and is an absolutely gorgeous place. Mountains, creeks, rough terrain, etc. My cup of tea, so to speak. <br /> During that particular visit to Camp Blue Haven, during a hike, I found a sack lunch that some camper had left behind on the same trail two weeks before. I really made fun of that dummy. We kept hiking and lunch time came around. Problem was, during my laughing and making fun of the kid who had left his lunch, I had picked his up and left my nice fresh one there! “Maybe,” I thought, “some kid will pick mine up and leave theirs behind for someone else and so on. I always have an answer for nearly every situation!<br /> Carolyn had and still does have a friend named Patricia. Herby used to date Beverly, so I didn’t think a whole lot of him. Carolyn spent the night at her house, while I spent the night in a tent outside their house while it was raining. I was miserable, thinking that they were having the time of their life while I was cooped up in the stupid tent. I think they really had a good time. I didn’t…<br /> On one of our many trips to Oklahoma with Mom, Carolyn and I would drive Mom nuts by singing “The Volga Boat Song”. For the life of me, I have no idea where I heard that song. Cartoons, I guess. My sister’s husband told her. I looked it up on the internet, and sure enough, that’s the song! Maybe it will be on a bestselling record label one of these days with our words! We’d sing, “Oh, what's the next town? Oh, what's the next town? Oh, what's, what's, what's, what's, what's the next town?” These will be the words to this hit when it’s on the radio.<br /> I saw my first "
on one of those trips to Oklahoma and was horrified with the thought. I was thinking that they sold used arms, legs, eyes, hearts, etc. I looked that place over very carefully to see if I could see any body parts lying around. Never saw any…<br /> On one of our trips to Oklahoma, Mom, Carolyn and I would take long walks down the farm roads. If Carolyn’s friend Vicki was walking, I really liked that. I thought she was gorgeous! I worried about ol’ “Tuffy Guffy”! I remember when we stayed in Oklahoma while Grandma was sick, Mom enrolled us in the Byron School because we were going to be there quite awhile.<br /> While I was going to school in Byron, I became the target of "
. He hated me. I remember that I was the only kid in Byron who could march to the beat of the music in class. The other kids hated me for that, but not as badly as “Tuffy Guffy”.<br /> My Dad had a brother named, “Carroll” who I called, “Uncle Carroll”. He was cool and used to show Carolyn and I magic tricks. My favorite was a disappearing coin using colored paper. He’d put a coin in a piece of paper, wrap it up inside another piece of paper, then another and then turn it over three times and it would disappear! Boy was I dumb. I really thought it worked! I didn’t know he had matching papers on the back of the original papers.<br /> Ah, the memories just keep flowing in. If you’ve never done this, write a list of several memories as they come to you and keep adding more to it. It’s hard to stop, and just when you think you’re done, somebody will say, “I remember when you did this…” and you’ll have another unforgettable recollection to add to your compilation.<br /> My first vehicle I drove was a yellow 1952 3/4 ton Chevrolet pickup. I could make it backfire like everything by driving it while revving it up in second gear, turning off the ignition until it would just about come to a stop, then turn the key back on. Most cars would simply go "
, but this pickup sounded like Mount Carmel's 51st day in Waco, TX! Yeah, I’ll get into my veterinary stories when I finish telling a few more of my incidents, descriptions, or series of events in a narrative that is part of the whole but may digress from the main plot. I’m having too much fun writing these things! I looked up the word “events” to see how the dictionary identifies with me. Pretty good, huh?<br /> I once chased a baby rabbit into a fenced-off corner in Mobeetie and literally fell through the ground into a septic tank. Henry made me ride home in the back of the pickup. He said I stunk…Yeah, I did…<br /> I helped Henry build an addition to the house in Groom during the time he married Mom. We used to eat honey on crackers as a snack. I really didn’t help, because I had a lot of important “fuddling” to do. Remember, I was probably less than five years old!<br /> Groom did not have a swimming pool, so we’d have to drive to White Deer to go swimming. We had to have pretzels afterwards. That was tradition. I remember so many details about different events.<br /> I remember getting my coronet in the sixth grade and figuring out how to play the school song before school even started. I was pretty good! When school started, I played it for the band director and he was impeccably impressed. He couldn’t believe it and had me play it in front of the high school band as punishment for their not being able to. When I finished playing it from memory, he said, “If Stevie can play the school song, why can’t you? He’s in the sixth grade and he’s only 12 years old!”<br /> I made first chair coronet, but got beat out of first chair frequently by Lanny. Lanny studied the notes and knew them by name. I simply knew when it sounded good. Lanny was better than me, so I wanted to switch from coronet to the trombone. The band director didn't want me to, as I was always coming up with a new twist on my music. Apparently, he enjoyed working with me.<br /> When he moved away, a new band director moved to Groom. I asked him if I could switch from playing the coronet to the trombone. He reviewed the previous band director’s notes and asked me if I had ever played the trombone. I said, “No, but it sounds like it would be fun.” He said if I could play the trombone and play him a song the next day that I could switch. I switched the next day!<br /> Being the only trombone player in the band, our new band director had an idea which turned out to be a “hoot”. While we were marching, I would start marching in a different direction and would start playing whatever I wanted to play. The drum major would stop the band, come yell at me and tell me, “You better stop messing around and MARCH WITH THE BAND and PLAY THE MUSIC WE’RE PLAYING!” So we’d start marching again and off I’d go playing songs I liked and showed off in front of the stadium crowd. She’d stop the band and come holler at me some more, only much louder.<br /> Then she’d scream, “If you mess around one more time, I’m going to kill you! You’re messing everyone up and you’re an embarrassment to the Groom Tigers!” I acted like I was really sorry, but when the band started marching and playing again, off I’d go… She stopped the band and ran over to me and pulled out a blank gun and shot me deader n’ a hammer!<br /> I just laid there and the school ambulance drove across the football field and stopped between me and the stands. The crowd couldn’t see me because of the ambulance. They loaded my trombone, put it in on the stretcher, then into the ambulance and drove off. I quickly recovered and ran like a maniac trying to catch the ambulance, because I was the injured party, not my trombone. The crowd thought it was hilarious!<br /> When I got in high school Lanny and I were selected to be in the National FFA band. I have no idea how or why I was chosen, but I was. Lanny was good enough that I knew why he was selected. He was just good! The music we were sent to practice on had one trombone part that was really high pitched and very fast. I practiced it to perfection and as luck would have it, the band director had us to try out using that particular piece of music. I blew everyone else out of their chairs.<br /> I got first chair out of over 25 trombone players and I couldn't even read music. I played by sight, position and sound. If it sounded good and in tune to me, it was good and in tune. The second chair trombone freaked out when the band director told me to play my G-sharp and I asked him, “which line is it on?”<br /> While I was in high school, Lanny started a band called the “Constellations"
. We played Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass music. My sister, Carolyn, arranged for us to play for the Area FHA convention in Amarillo. There were close to 3,000 girls at the FHA Convention who treated us like the Beatles! All of the band groups were told to be able to play no more than 15 minutes worth of music. We were about 7th in line and all the other bands had guitar players and they could sing. We played our three songs and left the stage after our 15 minutes were up. No singing, just strictly instrumental music.<br /> The girls “booed” the following bands off and screamed for us to return! Yes, we were good! I think we played for about an hour before the girls had to leave. Wow, I can now imagine what the Beatles went through! Lanny teaches band in a high school now. He still plays very, very well! I doubt if I could even blow a note, but give me day or so and I’ll play a song for you!<br /> Danny’s dad used to give me and his boys a burr haircut in the spring. We all thought we were some cool looking dudes. I had really big ears, but I could wiggle them, so I was cool, too.<br /> Mom and Maxine tricked me into going home from the drug store, grabbed me tightly as we walked right past the Chevy to go get a shot at the doctor’s clinic. They had to start dragging me as soon as I realized what was about to happen. I really hated shots. Still do.<br /> I remember collecting the state disks from Val-O-Milk candy, the best candy in the world! Cadbury Eggs top the list now.<br /> I remember the horror on Mom's face when Dr. Levy diagnosed my diabetes. I doubt if anyone counted grams of the different food groups like Mom. When I went into the hospital to learn how to give myself shots and how to eat right, I weighed about 98 pounds. When I was released from the hospital two weeks later, I weighed 138 pounds! I had gained 2 pounds every day. I could have been in any stock show!<br /> Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I could probably have eaten more than Hulk Hogan. I would sit down after school and eat an entire loaf of whole wheat bread (toasted) with butter and still be hungry for supper. I couldn't go a single hour without having to get a drink of water and go to the bathroom. Now that my diabetes has been diagnosed, you guessed it… shots!<br /> Car trips were miserable, as Mom and Henry used to get really annoyed at me for having to stop the car to use the bathroom and get a drink so much.<br /> I played football in Jr. High. The football team went to close by towns in our school district, and their teams would come and play on our football field in Groom, too. We made one trip to Shamrock for a football game, but they weren’t in our school district and they had much larger players than Groom had. I was up against a huge guy, so I made a deal with him that if he left me alone, I'd sure stay out of his way. I'm not so sure that everyone else on the team didn't make the same deal. We lost, which was not uncommon. <br /> I was really touched by Gaylord’s (the preacher) sermon one Sunday morning. I wanted to be baptized, but had not really talked it over with Mom and Henry. I sweated that entire afternoon thinking that if the world should come to an end, I'd be going to Hell. Not once did I think about me dying. The world was going to come to an end. I got baptized that night.<br /> I had a Hampshire sow in high school. I'd ride her up and down the alley just like a horse. No wonder she never really had a decent litter of pigs, but she sure looked cool (black and white) when I’d scrub the mud off her.<br /> My best friend in school was Gary. He was severely retarded and was tongue tied. When he'd get into trouble, I had to go with him to the office to be his interpreter. I always got him out of trouble with my version of what he said. You could ask him to say, “girl.” He’d say, “tool.” Ask him to say, “school” and he’d say, “”tool.” Then ask him to say , “schoolgirl” and he’d say, “tool tool.” Made perfect sense to me, but nobody else could understand what he meant to say. Since nobody knew what he was saying, I never did let him get into trouble!<br /> Gary had a cousin, Robbie which was several years younger than me. The kids in that family were either severely retarded or were classified as near genius. Robbie was in the third grade and I was in high school. He was in the genius category. He stayed up with me one night while I was delivering pigs and I taught him how to play chess. After 3 games, we would reach a stale mate almost every time.<br /> While I was in about the third grade, I was picked to be the entertainment during the intermission at a high school play. I dressed like an old man and sang "
This Old House"
. I had a fake beard, overalls and went out all bent over and really hammed it up. I had a standing ovation and had to sing it again!<br /> I spent one night with Ray, another friend of mine, when I was in high school. He woke me at 2:00A.M. and wanted me to give him a haircut. All he had was a pair of hog shears. He went to school the next day completely bald. It started out as a regular haircut, but since I’d never cut hair before and I had sort of butchered it, we decided to cut all of his hair off. His girlfriend didn't like me from that day forward.<br /> My favorite video of all times has got to be, "
A Christmas Story"
based on a novel, "
In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash."
Once you see it, you'll know why. I relate to Ralphie.<br /> Jimmy and I went out after church one Sunday to "
lay a strip of rubber"
<br />with his Chevy. We were going about 30 mph in reverse, threw it into first gear and BAM! The transmission gears started falling out onto the pavement. We were stupid enough to think that we could fix it. We finally found a discarded transmission in the junkyard and worked for several hours on another unsuccessful venture.<br /> One Christmas, the Groom City Council decided to decorate Main <br />Street for the holidays. They purchased a large pine tree and set it on Main Street. It was fully decorated and they even had purchased a Santa Clause.<br /> The Santa Claus caught my attention and I thought it would be neat if we did a little decorating of our own. I found a toilet in the junkyard and had Santa “sit for a spell”! He was quickly removed, or I guess they found a plumber somewhere to relocate the toilet! I think that Santa was stuck to it, as he was not there anymore, either.<br /> In my pre-teen years, I remember my wonderful sisters making fudge and locking me out of the kitchen. I loved fudge, but they weren’t going to let me have any! I took a butcher knife and whittled on the dining room chair. Mom kept the chair as evidence.<br /> When a second grader got into trouble, a lot of the time the punishment was to go sit in the first grade for an hour or so. I spent a few hours visiting the first grade. I thought I was hiding, but Maxine saw my name on the back of my belt. She is 10 years older than I am.<br /> Each morning in grade school, I would stop by Mr. Reno's office (he was the principal) and would wiggle my ears for him. If you got into trouble in the elementary school, you had to spend time standing in the hall.<br /> Yeah, I got to stand in the hall quite a bit. I would wiggle my ears for Mr. Reno when I was standing out there. He enjoyed my punishment!<br /> In high school, Ray and I went hunting and shot at a decoy in a lake until it sunk. Ray had some solid lead shotgun shells that would shoot one single bullet which weighed about as much as 10 or 20 - 22 shells. Yeah, we sunk a duck!<br /> I remember plowing with the one-way. It’s called a one-way, because you could only turn the tractor one direction. If you turned the wrong direction, the tractor tires would run into the tires on the plow. A 7 or 8 foot tractor tire meeting with a 2 foot plow tire wasn’t a pretty site.<br /> I turned the correct direction one time, too tight and the brace bar caught on the lug of the tractor tires and the entire plow was standing straight up above the tractor. When Henry saw that from the pickup, I’d bet that he ran those 50 yards in world record time! I’ll guess the plow weighed at least 3,000 pounds and it was standing on end at a 90 degree angle to the soft ground that I had just plowed. <br /> I used to go to the junkyard with John and shoot 22's at bottles for target practice. He had brought some M-80's (firecrackers) and they started the junkyard grass and weeds on fire.<br /> We tried to use our Levi jackets we were wearing to beat the fire out and spilled 22 shells on the ground. The bullets fell out of out our pockets as we beat the burning bushes. They started shooting everywhere due to the fire, so we took cover behind more junk in the junk yard. Now I know what the Branch Dividian’s in Waco felt like.<br /> In college, I worked for a local veterinarian. He needed to haul a load of pigs to East Texas. I told him, “Yeah, I can drive that truck and trailer to East Texas for you.” Jimmy and I left Canyon, Texas on this trip to deliver the pigs. We didn’t have any trouble, until we got down the road quite a ways and were very, very tired. We drove through a small rain storm and here’s what happened. The truck jackknifed, ripped a butane hose off of the tank and caught the butane on fire. The truck ran on butane and not gasoline. Jimmy and I were extremely lucky that we didn't get hurt at all. Not a scratch. That butane tank blew up like a bomb. Traffic was stopped and some nut asked me if he could help. I said, “sure”. Little did I know he meant, “Can I open the trailer doors and let the pigs out?”<br /> Needless to say, we spent the next several hours chasing pigs all over East Texas. A couple of guys who were helping corral the pigs started telling each other how much they were going to be charging for their help. I said, “There ain’t no way I’m going to pay you guys that much money.” “Say, aren’t you the guy who asked me if you could help?”<br /> Well, the policemen were standing right there and they instructed me to pay the man. Needless to say, I had to empty my pockets and sign a paper that I’d mail them the rest when I got home.<br /> I castrated a calf and stretched its scrotum over my pickup gearshift knob and let it dry. Man, it stunk for several days, but it sure looked cool! I had a fur-lined gear shift knob! Girls wouldn't ride in my pickup when I told them what it was. They’d make me stop and let them get out.<br /> I had a job running the movie projectors at the Groom theatre. What a loser that deal was, but I got to see the movies for free, and I got a discount on pop corn and cokes!<br /> I applied for a job at the meat market in Groom when I was in high school. They hired me as a joke, thinking that I wouldn't last long. Turned out that I could out work them! Nobody has ever seen water fights like we used to have. Bill, the owner, hired some fellow to work named Joe Olstein. He’d come to work late and sometimes drunk. Eventually, I would have to go knock on his door at the motel to get him to come to work.<br /> Now, his last name was Olstein, but we called him “Holstein”. I think we darned near drowned him! We’d put buckets of water on partially opened doors and ask him to go through the door to find something we were asking for. Then we’d have to go get somebody’s meat out of the walk-in freezer and his wet apron would freeze and make it almost impossible for him to walk. He got wetter’n everyone else, as nobody had any sympathy for him. We are still all really good friends today. Well, not counting ol’ Holstein!<br /> Little Willie, another retarded kid, would work at the meat market for a package of liver or hamburger rather than money. I caught him using lard for hair cream. Being “all slicked up” fit his description perfectly. Little Willy would occasionally say a cuss word. I’d tell him that the next time I heard him say anything like that, I was going to wash his mouth out with soap from a spray bottle full of soap. He’d help me slice bacon and then he’d say, “damn”. Before I could do anything, he’d pick up the spray bottle and squirt his mouth full of soap. Looked like he had rabies!<br /> One day, I asked Little Willy why he didn’t ask for money instead of packages of liver or hamburger for his pay. He asked me if I got paid with money. I asked him how he thought I bought my new car! <br /> He said, “You mean I could buy a car by working for money?”<br /> I said, “Well, nearly.” “I made most of my money by doing tricks!”<br /> “What kind of tricks?” he asked.<br /> I had this all pre-planned and said, “Like this.” I would put a quarter on my forehead and put a large metal funnel into my pants right above my belt buckle. I’d tell him I had to bend back as far as I could, stand up straight and try to make the quarter land in the funnel. When I straightened up, I would catch the quarter in the funnel and it was mine to keep!<br /> He asked, “Can I do that, too?”<br /> “Sure can,” I replied. Then I told him to look as far up as he could and I put a quarter on his head. I told him to lean back further and further and when I say, “that’s enough, you’ll earn your quarter.” Well, he said he wanted to make enough to buy his own car, so I let him earn a few quarters. When he had two or three, I told him to lean a little further back, then further, then when he was about to fall over backwards, I reached into the freezer and pulled a bucket of ice cold water out and poured it into his money-catching funnel!<br /> What happened next really made me die laughing. Instead of pulling the funnel out of his pants, he went into some sort of a shivering routine and let the ice cold water drain out of the funnel and down his legs into his boots! <br /> From that day on, Little Willy never would accept any money for his efforts at the meat market! <br /> I would help build shocks out of bundles of cane in October and Henry paid me so I could go to the Halloween Carnival. A “shock” looks like a teepee, and the rain simply runs off. It is an ideal way to store cattle feed in the fields. I just knew I could fly like Superman, and these shocks provided a safe, soft landing site for me when I would come back to Earth.<br /> Henry and I built miles and miles of barbed wire fence. We dug all the post holes by hand and used the pickup to tighten the wires between the posts. Henry built the strongest corner posts around. They never budged. I’ll bet money they are still in good shape!<br /> I had my acceptance letter to veterinary school framed and it still hangs in my home office, along with my other degrees and my real Dad’s diploma from Pharmacy School.<br /> Maxine, my oldest sister would take me to the dentist in Pampa for fluoride treatments. I was out of there in less than 5 minutes and she wouldn’t believe I went in.<br /> On one of my fishing trips, while Henry was renting the gear for the boat I caught a nice catfish while the boat was still on the bank. We thought this is going to be a great fishing trip. That poor fish was the only one we caught on that particular fishing trip and the boat dragged him to death…<br /> I experienced deep sorrow during a funeral for Ed, my dog. Ed was about the dumbest dog I’ve ever seen, but I still hated it when he died.<br /> One of the most moving days I ever had was when Connie and I were feeling especially uncomfortable and miserable in church when Sarah and Stephen both went forward to be baptized, September 6, 1992.<br /> Danny, Jerry and I picked up all the shingles, nails and trash around the Golden Spread Motel after they got a new roof when we were just kids. After a long days work, the owner paid us 50 cents and gave us a rotten peach. I gave him the 50 cents back and told him he probably needed it worse than I did. I was extremely insulted by his lousy pay. I threw the peach away, too.<br /> On hot summer days, I would hike to George Latta’s farm and go swimming in his horse tank. Again, Groom didn’t have a swimming pool. I still had to have my pretzels, but then I’d pick off the leeches that had attached to me while we were swimming<br /> On Larry’s farm, while Larry was out playing in a pasture, a bobcat was running and was apparently looking somewhere else. He ran right into and over Larry. He was bitten, scratched and then had to take the rabies shots right in his belly! That was awful! Having to take the shots, not being bitten and scratched by a bobcat.<br /> Henry used to smoke like a freight train. Yeah, I tried smoking cigarettes, but couldn’t stand the smell of ‘em. Still hate cigarettes!<br /> I remember fighting with Carolyn, because "
She's looking at me!"
Well, he's looking at me!"
One time during a fight with Carolyn, she made me so mad that I gave her “the finger.” She ran inside the house and wanted me to show Mom what a terrible thing I had done. What, am I nuts? I wasn't about to show Mom. It was my word against hers. "
<br /> Don, another friend of mine, well, actually he was kind of a ‘dork’ got into big trouble when he snuck into the neighbor’s garage and started a lawnmower over a bag of dry cement dust. Their garage looked like it was on fire from the outside.<br /> I have always hated shots. I watched as Carolyn got a shot between her toes by the foot doctor. I fainted dead away. That ain't no place to be getting a shot!<br /> I remember washing and waxing several family cars. That was something to do in Groom, Texas. Our family had the cleanest and shiniest cars in town!<br /> When I was in high school, Henry drove me to Amarillo to look at cars. I bought my brand new car for $2,995.00! I looked at Corvette Stingrays and told them they’d never sell a Corvette! They’d never get $5,000.00 on any one car. I had the coolest looking set of “wheels” around. I had a bright yellow Ford Fairlane that I kept spotless and always shiny with no fingerprints allowed.<br /> One day, Mom, Marlys and Larry went on a short trip. I was bored, so I washed and waxed Larry's Mustang. He let me take it on a date! I took Paulette’s sister on my date and had an absolutely horrible time. The boys in Panhandle kept trying to run me out of town.<br /> My back bedroom was the dumpsite of the house in Groom. I hated all the disorganization. Now, I'm a compulsive picker-upper.<br /> While I was going to Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, my step-sister, Marlys lived in Dallas with her husband Larry. Larry was in dental school. He’d tell me about his human cadaver. Marlys wrote to me in school and tell me to come see them any time. “No time like now,” I thought. I rode with a friend who lived in Fort Worth. We drove about half way and I tried to call them again. I hadn’t called them before I left. When I finally got Marlys on the phone, she told me they were going out of town. Time for plan B. After I hung up, I had him drop me off at the bus station. <br /> Now, there I was at this bus station in Bowie, Texas. I’m a diabetic, and it was time for supper, so I ordered a hamburger. After I finished my meal, I paid and went walking around town waiting for the time when the bus was going to leave. No real place to go, so I went back to the bus station. I was bored, so I decided to go ahead and buy my ticket.<br /> The fare was $1.50, and I had spent all of my cash on supper, so I pulled out my checkbook.<br /> “Oh, we don’t take checks,” the lady said.<br /> I said, “I need to buy my ticket, and I have no cash. You’ll have to take a check.”<br /> She said, “We’ve heard that before, but you still have to pay cash.”<br /> Now, here I was, a college student with my suitcase, a duffle bag full of dirty laundry and my books. I said for her to call my banker, but she wasn’t going to make a long distance phone call to call up a “fake” banker. I walked all over that town trying to cash a check for a lousy $1.50 and no one would cash it! I finally called the college bible chair and had someone come and pick me up. When I told Mom about my ordeal, she was blistering mad and called up the bus company and registered a very valid complaint.<br /> In high school, I took a chemistry course and found for formula for nitro-glycerin. Wow! After I put the appropriate chemicals together, I put a cork on the test tube and walked very, very slowly to the bathroom. I carefully put the lid down on the toilet and climbed on. I very carefully used an eye dropper to see if it would explode when drops of my nitro hit the floor. Luckily, I wasn't a very good chemist as my personal presence proves.<br /> On my way back to the classroom, the school principal stopped me to ask what I was doing out of class. I told him that I had to use the bathroom. Then he started visiting with me about my trombone and band activities. We talked for quite awhile. Now, I had this test tube full of my nitro-glycerin in my pants pocket.<br /> I guess my body temperature initiated some sort of a chemical reaction and the rubber cork popped out of the end of the test tube. Smoke started pouring out of my pants and these strong acidic mixtures escaped and my pants started dissolving. I ran back to the bathroom and started taking all of my clothes off, which didn’t take long as there wasn’t a whole lot left on me. I had to get somebody to call my house and have Mom bring me some clothes. The principal thought this was all really funny, especially after I told him about my nitro-glycerin invention.<br /> I traded a miniature football for a collie I named Chris. Chris was a good looking dog. Smart, too. I remember when Chris got run over by a car he was chasing and dying. As I look back from a veterinarian's perspective, I honestly think I could have saved him.<br /> Red and Ed were two other dogs I had. Red was the best dog I think I ever had as a kid. Ed was rather obnoxious and really dumb, but Red liked him. I guess since Red liked Ed, I should like him, too. Patricia and Herbie had a dog named “Tippie”. Red used to get into fights with Tippie all the time. Ed never did. He was a chicken, and did I mention he was dumb?<br /> I remember hauling cattle back and forth to Mobeetie in a pickup and trailer. That’s why I had told the veterinarian I could haul his pigs for him to East Texas.<br /> I drove Mom crazy with my Harley Davidson M-50. She had discussed sending me to a military school for rowdy kids, but never did.<br /> I got a bicycle for Christmas one year. It was a warm day, so I took it outside. I asked Mom, "
What do I do now?"
<br /> I kept the cattle chute full while Henry worked the cattle, when I wasn’t busy “fuddling”.<br /> When we owned the drug store, Tom, the Candy Man would give me candy samples. He asked me if I would ride the elephant from the Carnival in town. I told him, "
No. My Momma never would let me ride an elephant."
<br /> Seniors always had to leave their mark on their town. I made my mark by climbing to the top of the water tower and spray painted “SR-69” on it. The local constable pulled me over while I laid a strip of rubber on the highway. The next day he came into the meat market where I was working and said, “You weren’t speeding last night, were you? Just like you didn’t paint the water tower?!”<br /> I remember my very first (and only) criminal offense. Time to “fess-up”. Ray and I decided it was time to test the ‘criminal life’, so we decided to break into the local filling station on main street! If we got caught, it wouldn’t be too serious, because it was closed anyway. Obviously, there was nothing inside that we could see through the windows. We decided we would break into the restroom instead. We were seniors in high school, and Ray was drunk. I hated the taste of beer, so I was 100% sober. We wedged open the top window, climbed inside and decided we’d steal the rubber machine. <br /> We pried, hammered, sawed and finally got it off the wall. Then we loaded it into Ray’s El Camino and took it into the country to see what we had stolen. To our delight, we split 200 rubbers and $16.00 in quarters! I hid mine in a bank and put it under a dresser in my bedroom. Later on, I found it and opened the bank to check my “stash” and it was empty! “Oh, Man!” <br /> A few months later, the town whore came up pregnant and we were talking about it at supper. Mom asked, “Did you do it?” (I knew right then and there who had found my rubbers). No, I didn’t do it! Secretly, I had been told they were used to keep men from wetting the bed…<br /> Please remember that these were the first ones that came to mind. I didn't intentionally leave any event out. I’ll soon quit re-reading this, as I constantly make changes to it or add another episode. I’ve had a blast putting this together and would strongly encourage you to do the same with your life story. I have many more, but I need to save them for my next book(s)! Enjoy!<br /> With all of these experiences, why hasn’t a TV show similar to “Happy Days” or “The Little Rascals” gotten in touch with me? We could have a “Happy Days Revisited” show! I’m available!<br />Happy memories!<br />Chapter Three<br />(cum calore’)<br />(with heat)<br /> <br /> In 1976, one must realize there are only 24 veterinary schools in the U.S.A. Compare 24 veterinary schools to 40 dental schools, 26 osteopathic schools, 125 medical schools, 86 pharmacy schools, 241 physician assistant schools Looks to me that it was a lot harder to get into veterinary school than it was into medical, osteopathic, dental or pharmacy schools. Not only that, the medical profession only has to learn the anatomy and physiology of one species, Homo sapiens. Veterinary school is:<br />Harder to get into, as the sheer numbers are against the applicants.<br />A veterinary student must learn about more than one species.<br />A veterinary student has to learn about much more pharmacology, anatomy and disease conditions due to species variations.<br /> I started my practice in 1976, just after finishing veterinary school at Texas A&M University.<br /> If you have raised kids (or been one), and gone through the pet syndrome, including toilet flush burials for dead goldfish, the story below will have you laughing out LOUD, (I hope)! I read this and just had to include this as a part of my book.<br /> Again, this wasn’t my joke, but I can see myself in the vet’s place doing the same thing. Give the credit for this to somebody else.<br /> The joke begins with a man talking to an associate at work: “I had to take my son's lizard to the vet last night. Here's what happened: Just after dinner, my son came up to tell me there was ‘something wrong’ with one of the two lizards he holds prisoner in his room.” "
He's just lying there looking sick,"
he told me. "
I'm serious, Dad. Can you help?"
I put my best lizard-healer expression on my face and followed him into his bedroom. One of the little lizards was indeed lying on its back, looking stressed. I immediately knew what to do. Call my wife! <br /> "
I called, "
come look at the lizard!"
<br /> "
Oh, my gosh!"
my wife exclaimed. "
She's having babies."
my son demanded. "
But their names are Bert and Ernie, Mom!"
I was equally outraged. "
Hey, how can that be? I thought we said we didn't want them to reproduce,"
I said accusingly to my wife. "
Well, what do you want me to do, post a sign in their cage?"
she inquired (I think she actually said this sarcastically!).<br /> "
No, but you were supposed to get two boys!"
I reminded her, (in my most loving, calm, sweet voice, while gritting my teeth). <br /> "
Yeah, we even named them Bert and Ernie!"
my son agreed.<br /> "
Well, it's just a little hard to tell on some guys, you know,"
she informed me (Again with the sarcasm!) <br /> By now the rest of the family had gathered to see what was going on. <br /> I shrugged, deciding to make the best of it. "
Kids, this is going to be a wondrous experience,"
I announced. "
We're about to witness the miracle of birth."
they shrieked. "
Well, isn't THAT just great? What are we going to do with a litter of tiny little lizard babies?"
my wife wanted to know. We peered at the patient. After much struggling, what looked like a tiny foot would appear briefly, vanishing a scant second later. "
We don't appear to be making much progress,"
I noted. <br /> "
my wife whispered, horrified. "
Do something, Dad!"
my son urged. "
Squeamishly, I reached in and grabbed the foot when it next appeared, giving it a gentle tug. It disappeared. I tried several more times with the same results. <br /> "
Should I call 911?"
my eldest daughter wanted to know "
Maybe they could talk us through the trauma"
(You see a pattern here with the females in my house?) "
Let's get Ernie to the vet,"
I said grimly. We drove to the vet with my son holding the cage in his lap. "
Breathe, Ernie, breathe,"
he urged. "
I don't think lizards do Lamaze,"
his mother noted to him. (Women can be so cruel to their own young. I mean what she does to me is one thing, but this boy is of her womb, for God's sake.) The vet took Ernie back to the examining room and peered at the little animal through a magnifying glass. "
What do you think, Doc, a C-section?"
I suggested scientifically. <br /> "
Oh, very interesting, "
he murmured. "
Mr. And Mrs. Cameron, may I speak to you privately for a moment?"
I gulped, nodding for my son to step outside. "
Is Ernie going to be okay?"
my wife asked. <br /> "
the vet assured us. "
This lizard is not in labor. In fact, that isn't EVER going to happen . . . Ernie is a boy. You see, Ernie is a young male. And occasionally, as they come into maturity, like most male species, they um . . . um… masturbate. Just the way he did, lying on his back."
he blushed, glancing at my wife. We were silent, absorbing this. "
So, Ernie's just…, just .... excited?"
my wife offered. "
the vet replied, relieved that we understood. More silence. Then my vicious, cruel wife started to giggle. And then even laugh loudly. <br /> "
What's so funny?"
I demanded, knowing, but not believing that the woman I married would commit the upcoming affront to my flawless manliness. Tears were now running down her face. "
It's just . . . that ,,, I'm picturing you pulling on its . its . . teeny little . ."
She gasped for more air to bellow in laughter once more. "
I warned. We thanked the vet, paid him and hurriedly bundled the lizard and our son back into the car. He was glad everything was going to be okay. <br /> "
I know Ernie's really thankful for what you did, Dad,"
he told me. "
Oh, you have NO idea,"
my wife agreed, collapsing with laughter. Two lizards: $150.00<br />One cage: $50.00Trip to the vet: $30.00Memory of your husband pulling on a lizard's winkie: Priceless. Moral of the story: Pay attention in biology class! Reptiles lay eggs!!<br /> One early morning, after I had taken care of the hospitalized pets, the telephone rang. “Dr. Stephenson,” the caller asked, “Can I bring you a sample? Something terrible is happening to me.” “I’m just too embarrassed to go see my doctor. Can I bring it in to you?”<br /> “Yes, you can.” I answered her as reassuringly as I could and wondered what kind of sample she was referring to.<br /> “I’ll be right there, but this is horrible and I don’t want you to laugh at me.” she said and then hung up the phone.<br /> Shortly later, Mrs. Smith came into the clinic. Now, Mrs. Smith was probably in her 70’s, maybe even in her 80’s, and we’re talking August here. <br /> She came in dressed in a heavy black overcoat that was fully snapped up and she was very distressed. Tears were running down her cheeks and she managed to say, “Now, promise that you won’t make fun of me, but I think I passed (pooped) something and I want you to look at it to see if I have something seriously wrong.”<br /> I was thinking, “tapeworms, blood, something she ate that could not be digested, etc., etc.” I can’t believe I made no reaction to her when she said, “I pooped something)!”<br /> Then she produced this large coffee can that was wrapped in a paper bag, then by foil, then by a plastic bag. Whatever was in there would not have escaped no matter what!<br /> “I could not believe it when I saw this thing swimming around in my toilet,” she said. “What in the world have I passed (pooped) now?”<br /> “What have I let into my clinic,” I thought to myself. “Let’s take a look,” I said in my most professional manner.<br /> I took the bag containing the foil wrapped coffee can from her. I could hear something sloshing around in the can!<br /> She moved away and stood in the corner of my exam room. “I just can’t look. Promise you won’t make fun of me,” she whispered.<br /> I took the can out of the paper bag, out of the plastic bag and began unwrapping the foil. The sloshing noise kept getting louder as I removed each muffling piece of wrapping from the can.<br /> She tells me again, “Please don’t make fun of me. This is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen and I can’t bear to see it again.” She walked out of the room, crying.<br /> Slosh, slosh, slosh ,slosh. Noises kept coming from inside the can…<br /> I took the lid off the coffee can and immediately started laughing to myself so that she would not hear. “Mrs. Smith,” I said. “You can come back in now. There’s nothing for you to worry about.”<br /> She cautiously entered the exam room. <br /> The critter was still sloshing around in the can.<br /> “Mrs. Smith,” I said, “This is a mouse. Probably either fell into the toilet just as you went to the bathroom, or swam up and into your toilet through the sewer system.”<br /> Mrs. Smith asks, “I pooped a mouse? Should I go to the Doctor? Am I going to die?”<br /> I explained to her again, “You did not pass this mouse. Again, it either fell in or swam in and you don’t have anything to worry about, except that you probably have mice in your house.<br /> “Are you sure, Doc?” she asked.<br /> “Absolutely,” biting my lip as subtly as I could manage. “You’re going to be fine. No charge, and thank you for coming in.”<br /> I couldn’t bear to charge her for this, but now I have a mouse to get rid of. As soon as she left, I had to decide what to do with this mouse. I couldn’t bear to kill it. What a time this critter must have had, ending up swimming in the toilet, then be scooped up and placed into a coffee can with feces, toilet paper and urine laden water only to be hauled around with no fresh air for a couple of hours. I took the can behind the clinic and decided to let the mouse run free! He deserved his freedom<br /> Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. So, the joke I shared with you and the story that followed shows my love for people and for life. There’s good in everyone, and everything happens for a reason. Remember, “You are the author of your own story.”<br /> In 1993, I read about a veterinary clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico that had indicated it had a different approach in charging for their services. I was intrigued by the concept, so I managed to talk my partner into letting me to go see the plan in action. I drove to the facility and learned after I arrived that it was an emergency, after hours, veterinary clinic. In other words, it was not a regular veterinary clinic where a pet owner would take their pet for routine vaccinations, checkups, etc. An Emergency Veterinary Clinic was for life threatening unexpected and sudden events that must be dealt with urgently. This was a group of veterinarians who had hired one veterinarian to take care of their emergency after hour calls.<br /> Shortly after I arrived and introduced myself, an emergency case arrived. A dog had been run over by a car. The dog was bleeding badly from a broken leg and from being thrown into the sharp edge of a culvert. The veterinarian on duty took the information from the pet owner and seemed to be more concerned about getting paid than he seemed to be of the pain the animal was experiencing.<br /> I made a mental note of the incident and watched as the veterinarian treated the dog for shock, stopped the bleeding and informed the pet owner that the broken leg needed to have surgery performed on it to allow it to heal uninfected and to heal correctly.<br /> The surgery would be performed the next day when the animal was stabilized. “That will be $275.00 for the services tonight,” the attending veterinarian unemotionally said.<br /> “I don’t have that kind of money,” the dog owner cried!<br /> “Cash or credit card?” insisted the veterinarian.<br /> “How much to put him to sl…, well, can I charge it?” the dog owner asked.<br /> “Again,” the veterinarian selfishly inquired, “Cash or credit card?” I excused myself and left.<br /> “Enough of his ideas. Nothing out of the ordinary,” I thought to myself, “This was a wasted trip and I had learned nothing…” I left after thanking the veterinarian for his time. “Yeah, right,” I thought to myself. “Thanks for nothing…” I stopped and picked up a cup of coffee to sip on while I drove home.<br /> On my way home, as I was drinking my coffee, I began thinking of my personal experiences with my medical history. “How are the physicians coping with their income needs,” I asked myself. My personal health care plan was utilizing an HMO, which had its good points and its bad points. It had been good for me, as it had been extremely affordable, but it required me to get pre-approval for any specialist visits. With me being a diabetic, I went to a specialist more than I saw my regular physician. My income as a practicing veterinarian was based on 90% of the work I do, which was service related and 10% costs me money. In other words, when I dispense medications, I have to buy them first and then pass this expense on to my clients. My examination and office visit costs me nothing and is pure profit. Then I got to thinking about how many clients I had. This was when veterinarians were offering expensive seminars on practice management techniques and ways to improve the veterinarians’ income.<br /> Most veterinary practice advisors want to find out how much income each office visits brings in. A veterinary surgeon might only get 10 animals referred to him each month, but his income per visit would be very high. If a client wants to come in for a flea bath, and the next one only wants to purchase a can of dog food, then how do you figure their average?<br /> I kept thinking about this, and when I got home, I went straight to the clinic and counted how many clients I had and what my total gross income was.<br /> Next, I divided my gross income by the number of clients I had. I was making only $33.00 per client per year. That was disappointing. If I could come up with an attractive plan which would be sellable, and be able to improve my income and provide more to my clients, there had to be a better way.<br /> I had an idea! Why don’t I design a health plan for pets that would be very similar to the HMO plans the human physicians utilize? Surely, this would be feasible! I needed to think of a way to sell my services at a more than reasonable rate, pass my expenses on to my clients and theoretically I could make money on my idea. For some reason, a name popped into my head. I called my idea the “Tender Loving Care (TLC) Pet Health Program.” This is just too easy! <br /> Now I needed to decide on what to include and what not to include. Here’s what I decided to not include:<br />Neglect (I wanted my clients to use this program.)<br />Pre-existing conditions (Obviously, I didn’t want to allow an animal needing expensive care to wreck my income!)<br />Vicious animals (I don’t like being bitten!)<br />Vaccinations and diseases for which the animal was not properly vaccinated.<br />External parasites (All pets can get fleas and ticks) <br />Heartworm treatments (Heartworms are preventable)<br />Outside laboratory charges<br />Cosmetic surgeries<br />Spays and castrations<br />Boarding and grooming<br />Dispensed medications<br />Anesthesia<br /> Now I needed to come up with a list of guidelines:<br />Coverage would begin upon receipt of payment<br />Coverage expires one year to date after receiving their payment<br />Coverage is usually available when the pet receives its adult vaccinations<br />Coverage is not transferable from animal to animal<br />Coverage is for services rendered at our hospital<br />This is a non-refundable program<br />Renewal is at your option on an annual basis<br /> I immediately sat down and wrote a letter of introduction. My partner agreed, so here is what it said: “We are pleased to introduce the Tender Loving Care (TLC) Pet Health Program. TLC emphasizes preventive veterinary medicine and encourages you to bring your pet in at the first sign of illness. A pet, when seen early in a diseased condition responds much better and faster to medical and surgical treatments.<br /> TLC will be available to you after a satisfactory initial physical examination, followed by an annual pre-paid fee, renewable yearly at your option. Eligible animals will receive, at no additional charge, all office calls – no matter how many, hospitalization, x-rays, surgeries (other than optional cosmetic surgical procedures), dental care, two heartworm tests, obstetrics, emergency calls and more. Coverage is good only at our hospital for one year following the enrollment date.<br /> It is our sincere wish and goal to be able to provide your pet with our best efforts of quality veterinary care at a reasonable cost. We firmly believe that once enrolled in this unique program that you will enjoy a more positive approach to veterinary medicine and that the dreaded alternative of euthanasia due to high medical and surgical costs will be virtually eliminated.<br /> We encourage you to call and set-up an appointment to enroll your pet on the TLC Program. We are extremely optimistic and excited about this new concept and feel that we will be able to offer you our best, at a tremendous savings to you!”<br /> Well, the ball was rolling! I sent the letter to all of my clients, and they enrolled in droves! Now I needed to incorporate other ideas in my dream world. This included: A TLC Charge Card. I had been bothered by my accounts receivables, as they had been slow to pay, and difficult to collect on those who hadn’t been paying. I developed a motto which simply said, “We WANT your credit to go to the dogs!” My local bank had agreed to back this endeavor as long as they were in charge of approving those desiring to obtain this particular credit card. I sent a letter of introduction to all of my clients and offered them the opportunity to be approved. As it turns out, a very high percentage of my clients were approved and I was able to convert their account receivables into cash. Now, they owed the bank, not me!<br /> The TLC Charge card began to surpass the incoming cash by a margin of two to one. In other words, for every dollar that was put on a clients VISA or Master Card, I took in TWO dollars through the TLC Charge Card!<br /> I then began dreaming of ways to market these ideas to other veterinarians all over the nation! Wow! My initial trip to see how another veterinarian in Albuquerque, New Mexico marketed his services had exploded by the creation of TLC! <br /> I visited with other veterinarians, including a retired veterinarian in Canyon, Texas. He introduced me to a college student who had shown him some of his cartoon artwork. I told him my ideas and he drew a cartoon dog that had his front leg (arm) in a bandage and had a bandage on his head. I named him ”KIPI” which was an acronym which stood for “Keeping Independent Practitioners Independent”.<br /> Now I gave him a story to design a coloring book for the pet owner’s kids. Kipi’s story which was a 10 page coloring book showed a healthy puppy that was playing ball with a young boy. The ball bounced into the street and it now shows a picture of the puppy laying in the street with tire marks on his body. Then he is rushed to the veterinary clinic, and X-rays are taken of his broken leg and the veterinarian says, “Looks like we need to do surgery!” <br /> The cartoon book continues and shows the puppy in a hospital bed saying, “”Boy, I’m glad my veterinarian’s phone number was on my dog tag!” Then a nurse gives Kipi his medication and wheels him around in a wheelchair to cheer him up. Finally, the nurse delivers the good news to Kipi and tells him he gets to go home today.<br /> Then Kipi gets the bill and he is worried that it is going to be too high for his owners, but finally on the last page, Kipi is smiling and kicking his heels when he realizes that he had been put on the TLC Pet Health Program a few days before the accident!<br /> The cartoon showing him being happy about the phone number being on his rabies tag brought up another idea! Why not sell a TLC owner’s pet tag with a 1-800 TLC-VETS phone number on it? I could register and identify each tag with the owner’s phone number in the event the pet became lost or injured and it needed to be put in contact with its owner! Another masterpiece!<br />My idea grown to include:<br />The TLC Pet Health Program<br />The TLC Charge Card<br />The TLC coloring book<br />The TLC owner’s identification tag<br />A national toll free phone number<br />My newsletter idea which, in essence was a ghost writing service.<br /> A ghost writing service was developed for veterinarians to help build their practices, but also to market TLC to their clients. (You would never have known that they hadn’t written their own newsletter. I allowed them to choose their topics, the color of ink and paper and then I wrote their newsletters for them. I sent them a proof for their final approval and printed the number of newsletters they had requested. Usually this amounted to several thousand newsletters. I allowed complete freedom to make their newsletters extremely custom-made, such as including specific news to personalize their newsletters for them. This was extremely popular, and some included items such as information about their receptionist’s new child when she had delivered it. Wow!<br /> Then when they asked how they should send them out, I offered to address them and would mail them when they told me to. Service with a smile, I always say!<br /> I needed to develop a plan to get this in front of other veterinarians quick! How was TLC doing in my practice? Tremendously! Remember, I had told you I was grossing around $33.00 per pet per year prior to TLC ? I used the same formula, took my total gross income for the year and divided it by the number of clients I had and it had grown to over $100.00 per pet income per year! TLC had tripled my income in one year, and I was having a blast! My clients loved it, my banker, partner and I loved it. I was having a virtual orgy!<br /> I had a usage major usage rate of less than 3%. In other words, when people thought enough of their animal to enroll it on the best health care plan, i.e. TLC, they take very good care of their pet. Only 3 TLC enrolled pets out of 100 were ever hit by a car, got into fights or developed a preventable disease. A broken leg repair normally cost close to $600.00. I charged $65.00 to enroll a pet on TLC, so when one of the TLC pets broke a leg, I had 97 other TLC enrollees to pay for it! Instead of a lousy $600.00 to fix a broken leg, I made over $6,000.00!<br /> I needed to get my ideas out in front of other veterinarians, so I decided I needed to set up a booth at veterinary conventions to get the word out. <br /> I had always enjoyed touring the exhibits at veterinary conventions, so I <br />asked the pharmaceutical agents how they got a booth started. That was easy. All the conventions wanted was the payment to lock in the exhibitors’ site at the upcoming convention. Now I had to put together my display, my paperwork to pass out and design the targeted item I was going to promote during a very short time frame.<br /> My step-father, Henry, helped me build a portable, dog house which could be taken apart and reassembled to make it transportable and attractive. It was big enough to walk in and big enough to allow other veterinarians to set down and discuss my ideas. I think my clients thought I was nuts when I practiced putting this human-sized dog house together in my waiting room. At least their kids thought it was neat and I did received many favorable comments on its attractiveness. I kept the local printer busy when I ordered a couple thousand brochures, newsletter design kits and a list of all my writings for the upcoming conventions. I decided to market my ghost writings first. I would custom write their newsletter and deliver the proof at the convention. <br /> I was definitely on a roll! I loaded my pickup and drove to New Orleans for my first showing at the American Association of Small Animal Practitioners convention. I had a friend who agreed to help and we drove all night to get there. We were pooped, and the rooms were not ready yet, so we drove onto a ferry to cross the Mississippi River. I fell asleep and the watchman nearly threw me out because I was loitering!<br /> When our rooms were ready, we checked in and immediately went to bed to get ready for our first convention. I was really keyed up and could not wait for the convention to begin, when suddenly, I had another idea! Why not make something that could be sold to all veterinarians, their clients and be so attractive, it could be marketed over and over and over! I told my helper about it and he told me to wait and let’s see how this first promotion was going to go over. I was going to be going to another convention in Florida in less than a month, so I agreed to wait, but I didn’t have to stop thinking about it!<br /> Needless to say, I had my hands full. Now that I’ve arrived in New Orleans, I have to put my dog house display together and hope that it sells.<br /> Looking back, I should have hired a promoter, or somebody who would take my idea into the next stage. What a dummy I had been. I spent a ton of money trying to visit with bankers, going to veterinary conventions to set up booths and haven’t made a single sell yet!<br /> Now here I was with another one of my brainstorming thoughts, yet this idea was so good, it just has to work! I called my partner in Canyon and told him about it. It sounded good to him too! I’ll get into this a little later. <br /> One early morning, after I had taken care of the hospitalized pets, the telephone rang. “Dr. Stephenson,” the caller asked, “Can I bring you a sample? Something terrible is happening to me.” “I’m just too embarrassed to go see my doctor. Can I bring it in to you?”<br /> “Yes, you can.” I answered her as reassuringly as I could and wondered what kind of sample she was referring to.<br /> “I’ll be right there, but this is horrible and I don’t want you to laugh at me.” she said and then hung up the phone.<br /> Shortly later, Mrs. Smith came into the clinic. Now, Mrs. Smith was probably in her 70’s, maybe even in her 80’s, and we’re talking August here. <br /> She came in dressed in a heavy black overcoat that was fully snapped up and she was very distressed. Tears were running down her cheeks and she managed to say, “Now, promise that you won’t make fun of me, but I think I passed (pooped) something and I want you to look at it to see if I have something seriously wrong.”<br /> I was thinking, “tapeworms, blood, something she ate that could not be digested, etc., etc.” I can’t believe I made no reaction to her when she said, “I pooped something)!”<br /> Then she produced this large coffee can that was wrapped in a paper bag, then by foil, then by a plastic bag. Whatever was in there would not have escaped no matter what!<br /> “I could not believe it when I saw this thing swimming around in my toilet,” she said. “What in the world have I passed (pooped) now?”<br /> “What have I let into my clinic,” I thought to myself. “Let’s take a look,” I said in my most professional manner.<br /> I took the bag containing the foil wrapped coffee can from her. I could hear something sloshing around in the can!<br /> She moved away and stood in the corner of my exam room. “I just can’t look. Promise you won’t make fun of me,” she whispered.<br /> I took the can out of the paper bag, out of the plastic bag and began unwrapping the foil. The sloshing noise kept getting louder as I removed each muffling piece of wrapping from the can.<br /> She tells me again, “Please don’t make fun of me. This is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen and I can’t bear to see it again.” She walked out of the room, crying.<br /> Slosh, slosh, slosh ,slosh. Noises kept coming from inside the can…<br /> I took the lid off the coffee can and immediately started laughing to myself so that she would not hear. “Mrs. Smith,” I said. “You can come back in now. There’s nothing for you to worry about.”<br /> She cautiously entered the exam room. <br /> The critter was still sloshing around in the can.<br /> “Mrs. Smith,” I said, “This is a mouse. Probably either fell into the toilet just as you went to the bathroom, or swam up and into your toilet through the sewer system.”<br /> Mrs. Smith asks, “I pooped a mouse? Should I go to the Doctor? Am I going to die?”<br /> I explained to her again, “You did not pass this mouse. Again, it either fell in or swam in and you don’t have anything to worry about, except that you probably have mice in your house.<br /> “Are you sure, Doc?” she asked.<br /> “Absolutely,” biting my lip as subtly as I could manage. “You’re going to be fine. No charge, and thank you for coming in.”<br /> I couldn’t bear to charge her for this, but now I have a mouse to get rid of. As soon as she left, I had to decide what to do with this mouse. I couldn’t bear to kill it. What a time this critter must have had, ending up swimming in the toilet, then be scooped up and placed into a coffee can with feces, toilet paper and urine laden water only to be hauled around with no fresh air for a couple of hours. I took the can behind the clinic and decided to let the mouse run free! He deserved his freedom<br /> Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. So, the joke I shared with you and the story that followed shows my love for people and for life. There’s good in everyone, and everything happens for a reason. Remember, “You are the author of your own story.”<br /> In 1993, I read about a veterinary clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico that had indicated it had a different approach in charging for their services. I was intrigued by the concept, so I managed to talk my partner into letting me to go see the plan in action. I drove to the facility and learned after I arrived that it was an emergency, after hours, veterinary clinic. In other words, it was not a regular veterinary clinic where a pet owner would take their pet for routine vaccinations, checkups, etc. An Emergency Veterinary Clinic was for life threatening unexpected and sudden events that must be dealt with urgently. This was a group of veterinarians who had hired one veterinarian to take care of their emergency after hour calls.<br /> Shortly after I arrived and introduced myself, an emergency case arrived. A dog had been run over by a car. The dog was bleeding badly from a broken leg and from being thrown into the sharp edge of a culvert. The veterinarian on duty took the information from the pet owner and seemed to be more concerned about getting paid than he seemed to be of the pain the animal was experiencing.<br /> I made a mental note of the incident and watched as the veterinarian treated the dog for shock, stopped the bleeding and informed the pet owner that the broken leg needed to have surgery performed on it to allow it to heal uninfected and to heal correctly.<br /> The surgery would be performed the next day when the animal was stabilized. “That will be $275.00 for the services tonight,” the attending veterinarian unemotionally said.<br /> “I don’t have that kind of money,” the dog owner cried!<br /> “Cash or credit card?” insisted the veterinarian.<br /> “How much to put him to sl…, well, can I charge it?” the dog owner asked.<br /> “Enough of his ideas. Nothing out of the ordinary,” I thought to myself, “This was a wasted trip and I had learned nothing…” I left after thanking the veterinarian for his time. “Yeah, right,” I thought to myself. “Thanks for nothing…” I stopped and picked up a cup of coffee to sip on while I drove home.<br /> On my way home, as I was drinking my coffee, I began thinking of my personal experiences with my medical history. “How are the physicians coping with their income needs,” I asked myself. My personal health care plan was utilizing an HMO, which had its good points and its bad points. It had been good for me, as it had been extremely affordable, but it required me to get pre-approval for any specialist visits. With me being a diabetic, I went to a specialist more than I saw my regular physician. My income as a practicing veterinarian was based on 90% of the work I do, which was service related and 10% costs me money. In other words, when I dispense medications, I have to buy them first and then pass this expense on to my clients. My examination and office visit costs me nothing and is pure profit. Then I got to thinking about how many clients I had. This was when veterinarians were offering expensive seminars on practice management techniques and ways to improve the veterinarians’ income.<br /> Most veterinary practice advisors want to find out how much income each office visits brings in. A veterinary surgeon might only get 10 animals referred to him each month, but his income per visit would be very high. If a client wants to come in for a flea bath, and the next one only wants to purchase a can of dog food, then how do you figure their average?<br /> I kept thinking about this, and when I got home, I went straight to the clinic and counted how many clients I had and what my total gross income was.<br />