100 Things About Me #124

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #123," part of the "Back to Fernbank School" sequence

I Drank to That
Fernbank School is in remarkably good shape, considering the five decades of strain and stress inflicted upon it by prepubertal toughs, and dogs eating homework.

I was surprised to see what I believe to be one of the original 1958 water fountains in service. Imagine, if you're not opposable, my thumbprints under 50,000 others.

This is exciting for you ... Fernbank School water fountains!
I know of what it is you wonder. After 42 years of separation, did I have wistful longings of the stout heart and, perchance, partake of a cool, sweet, reuniting quench from this mechanical prodigy?

H-E-double-hockey-sticks NO! Grrrrr-oss!

Overall, I noted few changes in the building's decor since the antiquity of my youth.

1. Individual desks are out, group tables in. This communal seating trend must be stopped before it reaches the restrooms!

2. Computers are everywhere.

Won't you help?

Give a #2 pencil a hug.

Thank you. A message from the Fad Council.

3. The chalkboards are gone, replaced with markerboards.

When I think of all of the unemployed eraser clappers, I could cough.

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100 Things About Me #123

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #122," part of the "Back to School" sequence

Fernbank Elementary School, Atlanta, GA
Tree, Sun
My Fernbank Elementary School looks much the same after half a century, excepting the bricked addition built onto the facility in 2005. Connected at the main entrance, the structure has two floors with kindergarten accommodations and a gymnasium.

The school didn't offer kindergarten in my era. I was at home with a stick and some dirt.

Today, that dirt is worth a lot more than I am. I should have become real estate.

Even with an education, life sticks it to me.

The fact that we lacked a gym never crossed my mind. We played outdoors, or inside classrooms when it rained. We had our fun and got exercise and expertise with finger-paints and musical chairs.

Fernbank Elementary School gymnasium, Atlanta, GAI'm much happier I had fresh air and sunshine and windows than an oppressive gymnasium, where children circulate like weenies under bake lights.

Also, I'm concerned this new wing may have doomed a tree which our proud second grade class planted at a ceremony on the lawn in 1960. I forget why exactly, but the leafy gift was a present to the school and accepted by the principal as an eternal commemoration of a sentimental, life-affirming purpose. I hope the tree has been preserved, because not doing so would be a breach, slaps in the faces of a fine bunch of earnest, trusting little kids.

Grown-ups wouldn't do that, right?


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Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Morty will be out of the office until December 2, while he attends the annual Windy Falling Leaves Jubilee.


Dawn's Early Bite

Continued From: "Dawn's Early Fight"

Rushing home from Wal-Mart's Black Friday after-Thanksgiving sale, I couldn't help but notice area farmers, residents, and tourists showed us a distinct lack of ticker tape and confetti showers during our single car victory parade.

"Hey, people, we copped an all-in-one computer printer-scanner-copier for only $25!" I screamed at the distinct lack of area farmers, residents, and tourists along the route.

"Moo," said a possum. This town just doesn't get it.

Like a little kid on a month before Christmas morning, I ripped into my sparkly new box of Lexmark technology, shortly after removing the HAZMAT suit and three inches of accumulated dust found on and under the old, defunct, and freshly discarded printer in my office.

I followed the helpful instructions. Everything was going smoothly during the set-up process, until, buried in section #5, four words were slipped in there, hoping I wouldn't notice.

"Connect the USB cable."

"Huh? What USB cable?" I said to my wife, who took her cue, crawling under the bed to slip on her safety goggles.

My temper rose, zero to boil in 2.7 seconds.

I rifled through the packing carton. All of the listed enclosures were accounted for, but no USB cable was mentioned.

That's one method to keep the price of the machine so minuscule. Leave out a necessary part.

What an outrage! I've owned computers for more than two decades, but there is no spare USB cable in this house. Who has an available USB cable sitting around?


We returned to the Wal-Mart and located their only suitable USB cable: 12 dollars-plus with tax, half again as much as the price of the printer. I purchased one, but decided to shop for a better deal. With maniacal determination, we folded into the car and proceeded along the rural road.

"Cluck," said a raccoon.

At the home improvement place, we uncovered one USB cable, costing more than $18. Forget that.

At the dollar store, no luck, but my visit did cause me to wonder if dollar stores have Black Friday sales. You know, 5 a.m. deep savings, everything slashed to 99 cents or two for $1.99?

At the supermarket, while looking for something medicinal to calm my cardiac throbs and Ben & Jerry's to calm my weight loss, I wondered if this establishment might offer a USB cable to Mikey.

Sure enough, they did! And only $3.88!

We U-turned to Wal-Mart and got our 12 bucks back.

"That'll teach 'em," I said.

"Should we buy ink while we're here?" Donna asked.

"Yeah. I didn't think of that."

We found the aisle with the Lexmark #24 color cartridge.




Dawn's Early Fight

Having boycotted Wal-Mart for well over a year, I was a bit disoriented to find myself caught up in the store's annual after-Thanksgiving frenzy. It was our first ever Black Friday sale.

Wal-Mart's junk mail had appeared on the kitchen table. Flipping through the pages to tally how much money I would not be spending there this week, I noticed the 5 a.m. special on an all-in-one computer printer-scanner-copier for a scant $25!

That's a deal, especially for a guy years without a printer, who had grown tired of emailing documents to his family and friends with the plea, "Make me a copy, Guttenberg."

Choking back acid reflux (mmmm, Wal-Marty flavor), I looked at my wife and said, "We're going in."


3:14 a.m -- I crawled into bed at the normal time. Unconsciousness followed within minutes.

4:01 a.m. -- The clock alarm squealed.

4:01:37 a.m. -- Donna stirred. "We've overslept," I said.

4:22 a.m. -- Cold in a cold car, the couple of us aimed for town.

4:23 a.m. -- "We are officially nuts," I said.

4:31 a.m. -- "Run! Hurry! Get it! Get it!" I barked, as we raced beyond the entrance doors, grabbing the last available shopping cart. That's an ominous sign, no shopping carts. I felt fear and started running deep into the store.

4:32 a.m. -- "Sorry, 'Shrek 3' display," I yelled, increasing my pace, having been slowed by bumping into the ogre. "Somebody will buy you off the linoleum."

"That's not Shrek," Donna said from behind, as I turned a sharp left and sparks flew from the speeding cart's axles.

"Oh," I said with compassion. "That lady'll be okay. She was next to the bronzers."

4:34 a.m. -- We found the shrink-wrapped pallets of desirable merchandise parked in the Electronics department. I towered over the $25 Lexmarks and Donna hovered next to expensive $34 Hewlett-Packard printers, our devious back-up selection. We waited. No items would be released until 5 a.m.

4:37 a.m. -- I counted only 20 "while supplies last" printers stacked at my knees. There were easily that many customers-in-waiting circled near me with more arrivals every minute, all with a glare of menace.

I knew that look. I, too, am a cheapskate.

4:38 a.m. -- I remarked, "There's going to be bloodshed, isn't there?"

4:38:07 a.m.
-- An elderly woman sized me up, adding: "Virgin, ain't-cha?"

4:38:11 a.m.
-- Looking down at my feet, swiveling, I blushed, gushed, "Tee hee."

4:57 a.m. -- Sweat dripped off my brow. I felt a chill and thought of Bambi's mother.

4:58 a.m. -- "The tocking! The ticks and the tocking! Make it stop!" I told 'em.

4:59 a.m. -- Bargain bounty hunters packed the aisles. The promise of fresh roadkill permeated the air, commingled with sounds of heavy breathers tensing.

5:00 a.m. -- "Okay!" signaled the clerk. Like piranhas on a cow, the mob devoured the entire stock of printers.

5:00:01 a.m. -- Sale over.

5:03 a.m. -- I fought my way through the crowd and rescued Donna from the losers' printer envy. She clutched her own box of treasure. We compared the technical specifications on the two packages and decided to go with the $25 beauty.

"We save another $9," I said with a high hop and an airborne heels click, and a yawn.

For the next two hours, we examined the leftover pickings of $2.96 unwatchable DVDs, and pretend blenders.

We did hoard a dozen inexpensive bath towel sets in all our favorite colors, providing those colors could only be rust, off-rust, rust rust, rust rust rust, or lint.

Out front, I posed with the finest of fortuitous finds, the pink Volkswagen Barbie car.

Liked it so much, we dove back into the Wal-Mart and elbowed and trampled, but in a Christian manner, to snag another.

"We are officially buggy," Donna said.

To top off the exhilarating Black Friday value grab adventure, we crossed the road to treat ourselves to coffee at Starbucks. Our lucrative morning savings were depleted three sips into peppermint 'spressos.

Too-too caffeinated, we strolled hand-in-hand into the Wal-Mart for old times sake, just as the first annual grandmas slugfest over Chicken Dance Elmo and Little Mommy Bedtime Baby threatened to get ugly.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Continued: "Dawn's Early Bite"


I Survived Black Friday!

Well, so far.

The full shopping scoop later.

I've got to get some sleep.

And maybe go back for BIG SAVINGS! on a Presto® FryDaddy!

Continued: "Dawn's Early Fight"


100 Things About Me #122

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #121," part of the "Back to School" sequence

That Day.
That Question.
Following lunch, Friday, November 22, 1963, I returned to this sixth grade classroom to proceed on a very personal, never-ending quixotic quest for knowledge, so eager to learn how to expand my repertoire of comedy burps.

Mike Durrett revisits his 6th grade classroom at Fernbank School
All was calm, when a teacher rushed in, somewhat disoriented, to announce, "President Kennedy has been shot."

Her voice quavered. There was silence. No one knew how to react.

Word passed rapidly through Fernbank School, amid a flutter of activity, as everyone, children and adults, asked unsettling questions of each other to help digest the traumatic news.

Only a few televisions resided in the building, but throngs of neighbor students, ignoring fire codes of capacity, filed into our room to sit on the floor under the talking head of Walter Cronkite.

It was a surreal afternoon, destined to prevail and permeate the sad and violent events unfolding in the weekend ahead. Classes never resumed and rumors spread we would be dismissed early, as soon as parents and busses arrived to carry us homeward.

Meanwhile, the adults vanished, apparently to converse among themselves. Hundreds of children were left unattended.

I began to roam aimlessly throughout the halls, upstairs and down, a firm no-no under normal circumstances.

I made my way to the boys' restroom -- without a mandatory paper permission slip or a chaperone -- simply because I could.

Joined by my pals, we shuffled through other groups of meandering kids to points unknown. We could have exited the grounds without challenge. Supervision was nil. We were like zombies in limbo.

Across the intervening decades, the iconic question I've been asked more than any other is: "Do you remember where you were when Kennedy was killed?"

That's my story--

Well, second most asked.

The top question also occurred at Fernbank, over seven years, weekly, in this room, the cafetorium:

Fernbank School lunchroom
"Can I have your fish sticks?"

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100 Things About Me #121

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #120: Back to School"

Fernbank Elementary School, Atlanta, GA
Starting Line
My very first day of first grade coincided with the very first day of Fernbank School, opening for beeswax, September, 1958.

The alma mater is currently in its 50th year of primary education and ridiculed lunch.

Many things came to mind recently, as I strolled the campus. Two disturbed me.

1. So, that's what 50 years feels like.

It's a trifle.

And could use more sugar.

2. Uh, if Mike had 48 years of nickel-a-day overdue library fines and Johnny had no apples and Farmer Smith milked nine cows with 3½ brown Guernsey splotches each, how much would Mike owe with interest and legal representation and graft?

I hoped nobody searched my car. "The Cat in the Hat" is the junk in the trunk, the poop in the coupe.

I really meant to return the book and I will, as soon as I get through the exciting climax.

Fifty years is a whole lot shorter than a child imagines at the tender, still-in-the-original-packaging age of eight.

I recall my teacher telling the class that we "would live to see the year 2000, a new century, and thongs on fat guys. Maybe Diet Squirt."

The air was filled with an impromptu blast of "Wow!" and several "Can we pre-order pies?" because I liked to mix it up.

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100 Things About Me #120

Back to School
My school days, years 1-7, were spent at Fernbank Elementary in Atlanta.

Invited to an October open house, I jumped at the chance to return to the scene of the times.

The photo was captured inside what I believed to be my second grade habitat, Miss Gardner's classroom. Having given additional thought to the matter, this area may be next door, where I took Mrs. Hyder's third grade. I'm not sure because I didn't pay attention in school.

Nevertheless, I was happy to find the crayons.

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Leaves of Absence

The autumnal foliage in our ankle of the woods was an underachiever this year. We didn't get a full blush of colors, but there were some pleasing vistas to be seen, like this early November afternoon in the rutted Durrett driveway.

Some strenuous hiking upward yielded this pair of images. Yellow was the color of the moment inside north Georgia's Amicalola Falls State Park, near Dahlonega.

White hot was the color of the torment inside north Georgia's Mike, near collapse.

A good pal, Burbank's Frank, comments from California:

"Great photos. I envy you -- we don't get that much change in leaf color around here. However, around this time of year, the roving gangs do tend to dress in more festive hues, so that's nice."


100 Things About Me #119

The Wolf Mike
A doctor regulates my blood pressure with the drug Minoxidil. (That was my pill bottle on display in the post "Got My Fingers Crossed for Twins!")

The Minoxidil is working quite well for me, too. My heart is pounding away less erratically. It's mostly calm, except for the occasional violent upswing, where ebullient strangers never fail to fall in behind to join my conga line.

This medicine, I'm told, was developed for blood pressure control, but has an
interesting side effect, causing unusual hair growth in many patients. So much so, a hair restorer product, Rogaine, was developed around the ingredients.

Sure enough, even though I've been blessed with the patented, luxuriously tousled surfer boy hair you've seen and coveted from afar, I have indeed experienced new growth on the top of my head. My mane is definitely thicker and darker in spots.

Stylist Karen has been so impressed, I'm now paying a thicker and darker fee to her for each scalping.

I do get a price break, if I plunger Karen's 'poo sink after each washing of the often remarked upon patented, luxuriously tousled surfer boy hairs.

My sheds are retrieved from her drainpipe and fashioned into carpet tiles for public housing or the occasional pro wrestler's chest merkin.

I've also witnessed the appearance of odd hairs on my ears and an added fullness in my beard. For example, look closely at this photo. Believe it or not, it was taken less than three hours after my latest barber shop clean shave with a straight razor.

I raised stubble before finishing the lollipop.

My legs, after years of wearing tight jeans, were not especially furry before Minoxidil. Now, they sport signs of revival, as do my arms. This picture of my left wrist shows where I wore my watch for more than 40 years. A few months ago, there was NO hair on that spot.

I've noticed a wild patch of hair evolving on the small of my back at the waist. Ordinarily, I would go, "Eww," but it's actually a good thing, camouflaging that increasingly unfashionable tramp stamp tattoo.

Recently, watching our beloved HDTV, I've seen disturbing vertical lines and shadows in the images. I was concerned the set needed repair, until I happened to catch a sideways glance in a mirror. My eyelashes have gone into hyperdrive, growing dense and elongated. They are twice as long than at any time in my life and account for the mysterious lines and shadows I wrongly attributed to the broadcast monitor. I have to force my eyes wide open to keep lashes out of the field of vision.

These snapshots fail to fully capture my patented, luxuriously tousled Lindsay Lohan lashes (although mine are real). We don't wish anyone to become overwhelmed.

My wife is jealous of these curly pelts on my lids, but she did enjoy a quick flutter in her direction on those hot August nights.

Not everything to do with the harvest o' hair has been good, however. The Federal Aviation Administration has court-ordered me to not blink excessively outdoors. I tend to lift off and blip on the air traffic radars.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go mark the calendar for the next full moon.

Party Night.

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Got My Fingers Crossed for Twins!

Mike's Pill Bottle
"Check With Your Doctor If You Plan To Become Pregnant While Using This Medicine"


Star Sighting

Continued From: "Battery Not Included," part of a sequence beginning with "Fall Festivals O' Fun"

At first, I was skeptical. But, then I knew.

It was the real Statue of Liberty.

Or George "Goober" Lindsey.

I'm fuzzy on my yesteryears.

Next: "Out on a Climb"
Also: Fall Festivals O' Fun - 2005 Gallery #1-8
Photo ©2007 William Colquitt


Iced Plea

Continued From: "Those People Are So Hay," part of a sequence beginning with "Fall Festivals O' Fun"

Aw, drat. If only I could find something "COLD" to drink.

Next: "Battery Not Included"
Also: Fall Festivals O' Fun - 2005 Gallery #1-8


"The Sweet Seduction of Itchy Butt"

Morty at the Movies with Morty the CatOn today's picture, Morty applauds "the strong, deft touch and firm direction" on hand. He'd tell you himself, but his claws got tangled.

Can't see the video, try: http://view.break.com/388549
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