Deer Run Trail, By David R LewisNodaway Trail, by David R LewisOn the Calico Trail, by David R LewisOn the Payback Trail, by David R LewisOn the Ogallala Trail, by David R LewisOn the Killdeer Trail, by David R LewisOn the Cutthroat Trail, by David R LewisGlory Trail, by David R LewisEndless Journey Toward an Unknown Destination, by David R LewisIncidents Among the Savages, by David R LewisFear of the Father:  Call Me Crockett, by David R Lewis

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About This Site

Several years ago in Kansas City, a popular weekend radio show called Radio for Grownups featured a regular segment by co-host and Master Storyteller David Lewis entitled “That’s How It Seems To Me”, generally a story he wrote and performed from growing up in the Heartland of America (more biographical information about David can be found at our “About” page) . The show has since gone off the air, but the interest over David’s tales has continued through today.

In response to the loyal fan base and continuing interest, we have published this blog/podcast of David’s stories. You’ll find posts of his anecdotes below. We plan to add further yarns to the collection regularly – on a weekly basis – for your enjoyment. Each post contains an excerpt from the narrative (the first paragraph or so) to give you an idea of what it is about, and an audio player so you can listen to the story in its entirety.

We hope you enjoy these tales and chronicles. Feel free to comment on them if you like.

David has produced a collection of four CDs over the years containing pieces not found on this blog/podcast which we call the “David Lewis Memories CD Collection”. For more information or to purchase any or all of his CDs, please visit this web site.

While the cost of providing these tales and maintaining this web site is not enormous, the time consumed in doing so is significant. This is why we have provided a Donate button and why there are advertisements on this site. We appreciate any contributions you would care to make if you have enjoyed the stories here.

David has a blog of his own as well – check it out here – and he has an eBook review site here.

Culture Shock

Blackberry Bruin

In 1975, my wife and I moved from a small cosmopolitan city to almost-Arkansas, Missouri.  In some ways it was de-evolution, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  From Greek bakeries, Jewish delis, jazz concerts, and Broadway quality theatre, we came to Myrtle’s Eats, grabbing suckers, Porter Wagoner, and drive-in movies.  Being a small-town type originally myself, I made the switch fairly easily.  My very adaptable wife followed close behind.  We slowed down and settled in an area where the closest town – a bustling metropolis of nearly 2,000 souls – was 15 miles away over roads that would have scared the average northern tourist to death.

In that part of the Ozarkian Outback, rural bridges were one-lane affairs – open if the creeks weren’t up.  In some areas, streams ran directly across the road.  If it rained, you stayed home.  Pick-up trucks outnumbered cars three to one – before pick-ups were fashionable.  Rifles and buggy whips graced rear truck windows, women did not wear short-shorts, the average unskilled wage was half the federally mandated minimum, education was optional, Red Man and moonshine the drugs of choice, and if you didn’t mind living on a dirt road and fording a creek to get home, you could rent a two bedroom rock house with a cellar on significant acreage for $75 a month – which is exactly what we did.  We cooled with open windows, cut our own wood for heat, lighted with kerosene, kept chickens and pigs, sometimes missed television, and got by.  Then we had a visitor.

Brown County

A Gift in the Fog

In the early spring of 1975, I quit my job, and my wife and I filled a Volkswagen Thing with us, camping gear, a giant Schnauzer puppy, and took to the road with no destination in mind.  A few days later we found ourselves in Brown County, Indiana, a truly lovely area with rolling hills, scenic valleys, quaint artist’s communities, and more covered bridges per square whatever than any place else on the globe.  We decided to stay for a few days, and pitched our tent in a rambling campground between two wooded hills in one of those scenic valleys, 50 feet from the obligatory babbling brook.

Eat a Sandwich

I’m going to date myself horribly in this piece, so let me admit the disgusting truth up front:  I’m old.  I have worked hard to reach this age, and the exertion required to continue climbing the ladder of years gets more and more difficult as time goes by but, I suspect, it is not nearly as taxing as the effort in which so many engage to remain young, or the self-abuse and struggle required to remain beautiful.  Because I don’t give a rodent’s rectum about appearing to be half my age, and because I feel that those that prize form above function range from the sadly misguided to the laughably ludicrous, I am able to quash any shred of empathy for these poor souls and pass judgment on them without the slightest twinge of guilt.  What fun.

While surfing television the other day, I encountered a short report on some terribly vital and celebrated fashion show.  I watched a minute or two of the exhibition – stick figured women of indecipherable age slinking up and down an elevated walkway as onlookers photographed them and a commentator spoke of what the “right” people were wearing this season, as they implied that only the alarmingly unaware among us could even consider appearing in public without being draped in one of the magnificent creations on display.

How Far We’ve Come

I remember my 10th birthday – and not only because birthdays that end in zero are milestones, but because it was one of the few times I actually went anywhere with my mother.  On the evening before that auspicious day, she and her husband loaded me, Merv Fritz, and Wes Roy in their car and took us to a Dairy Queen in the city for banana splits.  After the Dairy Queen, we went bowling.  After bowling, we went to the Steak n’ Shake, for goodness sake!  A little perspective here – these were the “good old days”, over 50 years ago, before fast food, in the time when families still ate together, at home, while actually sitting at a table.  Then, after Steak n’ Shake, came the really big deal of the evening.  We went roller skating!  Such an event was huge!  Wow!  More perspective – back when Andy, Barney, and Aunt Bee were living in Mayberry, how many times did Opie get to go to Mount Pilot for his birthday?  Opie and I had a lot in common.  We’d never heard of soccer moms, play dates, or that hideous term “Stranger Danger”.  We spent summer evenings on the porch, or catchin’ lightnin’ bugs, or at the free movies in the park.  We hung out with friends until after dark, and something like a cell phone could only have been used by Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy, or Captain Video and his Video Rangers.

Door to Door

I stopped by to visit the young woman I was dating and found her sitting on the couch with a dejected look on her face.  She was just 20, fresh out of Medical Secretary School, and had moved to the city to take a job at a local doctor’s clinic.  She looked at me out of lovely brown eyes leaking tears and spoke.

“I’ve done a really dumb thing,” she said.  “I’m in trouble.”

Instant fear pushed my heart to my throat.  God, no!  “Wh- What?” I stammered.

Tears now flowing down her pretty face, she choked, “I let a magazine salesman in.”

My adrenalin rush stopped in mid-flow and I sank to the couch beside her, relief flooding through me.  “A magazine salesman?” I enquired.

Now in full flux, she pushed a stack of papers onto my lap and, sobbing, buried her face in my shoulder.

I looked at the paperwork.  This guy was good.  My girlfriend had subscribed to 21 magazines in total, and given the man a deposit check of over 200 dollars – over two hundred 1967 dollars!

“How long ago?” I asked.

“About a half an hour.”

I left, and began prowling through the large complex of apartment buildings.

The Ghost Who Walks

He wore black horned-rimmed classes, a subtle smile, and a deeply bent sense of humor.  His name was Dan Rhineholt, and he and I were cops on the same department.  Dan had been a deputy sheriff in my county for over a year, but had transferred to our city department out of boredom with country roads.  He was assigned to me on the three to 11 shift for a few weeks – to gauge his mettle.  In retrospect, I believe command may have decided that if he could stand riding with me, he could stand riding with almost anybody.

I first noticed the twisted way he dealt with the world one Saturday night.  A deeply intoxicated young man, wearing only his tidy-whities, had passed out on the lawn of a 12-story apartment building facing a major street.  A small crowd had gathered on the sidewalk by the time we arrived.  Rhineholt checked for a pulse, glanced upward toward the top of the building, and turned to me.

“God!” he said. “What a drop. I wonder what made him jump?”

The crowd dispersed in seconds.

Boom!

In the midst of exquisitely brutal training to become a Navy Seal, a young man was asked why he persisted in the face of such agony.  His reply?

“Because I get to blow stuff up.”

Ah, the fascination with making things go “boom”.  Even in my advanced years, I have still been known to press my face against a car window as I pass a fireworks stand and drool on the glass.  The lure is still there, just as it was all too many decades ago when I lighted my first ladyfinger firecracker.  At age 6, I was a danger to my entire neighborhood when armed with a fist full of Black Cats.  Jed Nichols watched me push one into a rotten apple one sunny afternoon, light the fuse, and throw the spheroid upward.  So enriched by the blast and resulting soggy shrapnel was he that he attempted the feat himself, but was a little too slow.  The thing exploded as it passed the side of his head.  It took Doctor Moon nearly 20 minutes to get the impacted applesauce out of Jed’s right ear.  Then came road apples – those deposits left on trails by horses.  A road apple had to be of the correct interior consistency and enveloped by a firm crust of at least three-eighths of an inch thick.  The point of a three-foot stick would be inserted into one side of the road apple, a two-inch firecracker in the other.  Once the explosive was lit, the thrower, using the stick as an extension of his arm, would fling the missile high into the air.  The blast propelled the less than firm contents at alarming velocity in all directions, while earthbound observers scattered attempting to avoid the horsey fallout.

The Offering

Sunup was over an hour away when I crawled out of the tent onto the dew-slick grass.  Stretching my back, I slowly walked to the remnants of last night’s fire and poked at it with a stick, stirring some feeble coals to the surface on which to place some kindling, needing warmth and not wanting to go back into the tent for a jacket and wake my sleeping wife.  Six-inch flames sprang to life, making my eyes water with their acrid smoke, and I added more wood, warming my hands over the small blaze.  We’d been at the campsite on the shore of Stockton Lake for several days –  sleeping, eating, talking, reading, being – and, so far, had been the only residents in the entire 44 slot campground, lazing our time away, lingering late each night by the fire, enjoying the peace and solitude of mid-autumn.  As quietly as I could, I added water to the granite pot and dumped in an undetermined amount of coffee, then added more wood to the fire to build a coal bed upon which to prepare breakfast in another hour or so.

Silver Pigeon

Invincibility Lost

Way back in 1962 when I was but a slip of a lad, I became the proud owner of a Rockford Holiday 76 Silver Pigeon motor scooter.  The over-$200 price tag was a bit daunting, but I had been working since I was 8 or 9 years old, and acquired significant liquidity.  It was a glorious machine, with which those of you who have my CDs are already acquainted.

It was the joy of my life, cruising with various young ladies nestled securely against my back, chasing my dim headlight through the country road darkness in the company of my pal, Red Phillips, on his Simplex scooter, profiling down Main Street in my home town, racing at nearly 50 miles an hour to the whirr of a centrifugal clutch and the beat of five thundering horsepower, wind in my hair, bugs in my teeth, free from pedals and pedaling, fulfilling a desire present since I’d seen my first motorcycle many years before.

The Principal of Fighting

Theo Vitali was a wild man.  Greek and Italian, his passions ran nearly as high as his blood pressure.  He was a screamer, a thrower, a man so driven that, while he was the high school football coach in my hometown, we lost only two games in 6 years.  In the noisy and crowded locker room one afternoon, somebody asked me what I put on my hair.  I shouted back, “Vitalis!”

Vitali, back in his office and evidently unaware of the question and hearing only the answer, took it to mean that I had offered him personal insult.  He attacked, slamming me into a row of lockers and holding me there by the throat with his fist drawn back, his face flushed with rage, as he screamed and frothed for a while.

Even in those days long past, a teacher couldn’t just run around willy-nilly punching out students, so I was reasonably sure he was not going to actually hit me.  I was a bit concerned, however, he might tear out my throat with his teeth.  Gradually, and with some effort, he gained control, dragged me to the office, left me in the waiting area, screamed and frothed at the principal for a bit, and finally stalked off down the hall muttering to himself and occasionally punching a locker.  In a few moments, the principal called me in.

My Soul

I must warn you that in the upcoming vocalization, I am going to use the term “God”.  I use that term in the broadest possible sense – the power of the universe, the Force, Wakantanka, Earth Mother, whatever.  I do not align with nor do I endorse any particular version of the concept.  If that offends you, I’m sorry you’re fearful.  My concept of God belongs to me.  I don’t want yours.  You can’t have mine.

Green Beret

I am a member of the Vietnam generation, a survivor of the draft, Johnson, Nixon, Bundy, and MacNamara’s band.   I didn’t go to Vietnam.   My service consisted of only one and a half days in the military – expelled from uniform because of a knee ailment common to growing young men – but I tried, enlisting when I was 18 because my grandfather served in World War One, my father in World War Two, and it was my turn.   A rather simplistic view, but it was a simpler time.   While I was spared any personal horror of that useless war, many of my friends were not, and one of them was John Giese.

When Worlds Collide

In spite of what you may have heard, I am not a genius, nor have I ever claimed to be (at least not since I was 17 and some young winner of the Nordic Combined was batting her eyelashes at me).  I am not a physicist.  I know nearly nothing of quantum mechanics, string theory, or Star Trek’s Heisenberg Compensator.  Some time ago, as I contemplated a premise for a novel that could possibly involve scientific fact and theory so far past my meager knowledge as to fade into the far distance, a friend suggested I look into the massive, multi-billion-dollar Large Hadron Collider that lurks below the surface of the earth across the border of Switzerland and France.  It has been built in the hopes of answering some really big questions.  I looked into it.  It frightens me.