Walnuts Keep Falling on My Head

We’re coming up another Mother Birthday Season without the guest of honor. One of the things I’ve become almost used to are the sounds of a house that is empty except for me.

It used to startle me when I’d hear a BAM! like someone trying to break into the house. That would be followed by a RUMBLE, RUMBLE, RUMBLE, SPLAT.

After awhile, I learned to identify that as the sound of walnuts hitting the roof, rolling down, then hitting the ground or driveway. In fact, it makes me think of the paraphrased lines of a B.J. Thomas song:

Walnuts keep falling on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red
Crying’s not for me
‘Cause, I’m never gonna stop the walnuts by complaining

Because I’m free
Nothing’s worrying me

Winning the liability lottery

Warriorette Shari came down from St. Louis for the weekend and griped about the walnuts all over the driveway. I told her it was part of my long-range financial plan to have her slip and fall, collect a huge insurance payout (which she would, of course, split with me), and figure she had won the liability lottery.

She rewarded me with The Look.

While I was sweeping them up, it made me think of past dealings with the green bombs.

Dad got the great idea that we should round up all the the nuts that fell in the yard, crack the shells and spend the winter picking out the goodies.

There’s one big problem

The big problem with that is that the walnuts are encased in a hard, green husk that has to be removed first. That ain’t easy. We tried all kinds of ways.

Putting them out in the street to let cars run over them just meant that you had to chase up the hill, down the hill and in the ditches on either side of the road after they had squirted off in every direction.

Then, he got a great idea: he bored several sized holes in a 2×6 board. We were supposed to select a hole slightly smaller than the husk, then drive it through the hole with a hammer, leaving the husk on one side and the nut on the other.

The nut, unfortunately, was the guy holding the hammer. You’ve heard of walnut stain, haven’t you? Well, there’s a reason for calling it that. I think I was about 42 years old before all of the stain wore off. I tried to convince people it was Dektol developer stain from the making prints in the darkroom because that sounded somewhat professional.

Are you nuts for nuts?

So, here’s the deal. If you have a hankering for walnuts, I have a yard full of them. Some of them have been herded together, but there are probably a bushel or two in the wild scattered all over the yard. Come and get ’em. (If you want me to answer the door with pants on, I suggest you give me a 10-minute warning.)

I just remembered that I had written about walnuts in 2014, and had plowed much the same ground. Nothing much has changed since then. You can click on any of the photos to make them larger, then use your arrow keys to navigate around.

We were a pecan family

Because walnuts were so hard to crack, and it was no fun to pick them out, we were more of a pecan family. Dad’s favorite winter pastime was sitting in the basement picking out pecans while watching TV.

In later years, Mother took over the task.

 

Roy Thomas and His Fireworks Stand

Roy Thomas visited Jackson’s Cape Girardeau County History Center for a reception that also spotlighted Michael Archer’s exhibit, “When History and Comics Collide.”

Roy, who created or co-created more than 70 action comicbook characters and succeeded the legendary Stan Lee at Marvel Comics, attracted young folks, mostly fans of his work, and older folks, who remembered him from “back then.”

He described a woman as one of his first girlfriends. They were serious enough that they hatched up a plan to run away together. Their scheme was thwarted, however, when their tricycles got to the end of the block, and they realized they weren’t allowed to cross the street by themselves.

A stickler for detail

No detail escapes his eye. When asked to autograph a book, he said that it contained a typo. He turned to the page and corrected it before he signed his name.

Docent Bridget Bingham appears enthralled

Bridget Bingham, a docent at the History Center, and a teacher of graphic design, chatted at length with Roy.

He’ll be back in Jackson

Museum director Carla Jordan said that Roy will be back in Jackson February 23, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. All of downtown Jackson will be celebrating his career as a writer, editor and creator with both Marvel and DC Comics.

He will probably be at the museum around 5 p.m., she said.

Roy and the fireworks stand

 

After almost everybody had left, Roy’s wife, Dann, prompted him to tell the story of his brief period as an operator of a fireworks stand located down by Wib’s BBQ. It’s best if you hear it in his own words in this video.

Gary Friedrich

When I heard that Roy was coming into town, I made a couple of prints of Gary Friedrich for her to give to him because I knew they ran around together. Gary was one of my editors at The Jackson Pioneer.

Much to my surprise, I found the photo displayed in the museum when I walked in. It turned out that Gary went on to become a well-known member of the “Marvel Bullpen” in the ’60s.

Roy laughed at the big stack of Pepsi crates in the background.

“I love this picture of Gary,” he said. “All those Pepsis stacked there in the back are probably Gary’s. They were probably all for him. He would drink a whole mess of Pepsis every day. By the time he was in his 30s or 40s, i think every tooth in his mouth was false. Like other people smoked cigarettes, he drank Pepsis. He looks so young here. I would have been about 23 at that time (1964ish), so he was only about 20 or 21.” [Note, I struggled to find how to spell the plural of Pepsi. This was the most common, even if it looks strange.]

“Whatever happened to Gary?” I asked.

“Sadly, he just died recently.”

A very nice obituary for Gary ran in The Missourian on September 4, 2018. My first thought was, gosh, he sure died young. That’s when I realized that he was four years older than me.

Gary’s Fair expose attempt

Gary had an idea that we should do a big expose on gambling at the Southeast Missouri District Fair. Here’s how it turned out. That’s Gary on the left, trying to win a piece of plush, by the way.

Roy Thomas gallery

Here’s a gallery of photos from the reception. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.