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.

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.

Blanche

In the 1950s, the southern portions of Illinois were often much farther south than a map might indicate.  The pace of life in many of its parts was slower and more elemental than among the northern tribes, and a trip to that area could not only transport the traveler much farther south than he actually was, but also a bit back in time.  Every summer, my grandparents would make the 6 or 7 hour drive into that part of the state to visit a few scattered members of my grandfather’s clan.  The journey always included a stop just south of Vandalia, on the outskirts of a tiny town called Shobonier to spend a couple of days with my Aunt Blanche, or Ain’t Blainch, as it was pronounced locally.  A transplanted Kentucky hill woman, Blanch had that defining set of eye and configuration of nose and chin common to the breed.  Not all native Kentuckians have it, but I have never encountered anyone that did have it without Kentucky in their blood somewhere.  Blanch was a woman of the 1800s.  A visit to her place was, in many ways, a visit to that time.  Her house was without electricity, and had no plumbing of any kind.  I was not unused to that.  I recall when an actual indoor bathroom came into my life – and the convenience that accompanied it – but at Blanche’s place, in addition to the little house out behind the big house, even kitchen water was hand pumped from the outdoor cistern and carried inside in a bucket.

Wildlife

I live in the country off a less than satisfactory gravel road.  Those facts make it very foolish to open any windows on the north, south, or west side of the house during warm weather, unless I develop a cavalier attitude toward dust.  On an average summer day, an open living room window coupled with the passing of a truck often results in a literal cloud of Missouri soil wafting through the room.  I don’t care for that.  My bride, the coveted Laura, even though she recently spent four years in Afghanistan – a place where dust is a food group and sandstorms often replace summer breezes, likes it even less than I, sometimes producing expletives that would send a longshoreman running to the regular Wednesday night bible study at a local Baptist church as she flaps about the place doing battle with three micron bits of terra firma, but the dust is a small price to pay for the lack of sirens, thundering bass assaults from low-riders, traffic jams, and the fact that nowadays, when I do happen to hear gunshots, I don’t necessarily need to prepare to return fire.  I live in an area where the term “wildlife” does not involve Charlie Sheen, Miley Cyrus, a kegger in the apartment next door, or a screaming encounter from the sidewalk outside my window.  I get my drama from a more uncivilized source.

Dudley

His name was Dudley Babbit, and he was a real piece of work.  In the 1960s and 70s, Dudley was at the top of his game.  One of the premiere trainers of gaited horses on the planet, famous and coveted in song and story in an elite business driven by large sums of money and even larger sums of egos, his job was more than to train horses worth fortunes, it was his responsibility to help his wealthy clients climb the ladder of success and stature within their select circles – and nobody did it better than Dudley.  In his mid 40s, Babbit was suave, self-assured, confident, and had a speech impediment.  I met him through a mutual acquaintance, and he and I were immediately friends.  I liked the front he maintained to make his business thrive and the fact that he suffered fools even less gladly that most of us that profess to not suffer fools gladly.

Old Joe

Hoofbeats in the Fog

It was damp, it was foggy, it was chilly, it was perfect.  My wife and I crunched our way across the gravel parking lot of the Jock’s kitchen heading for the racetrack.  It was barely dawn, and we’d just had breakfast with LaVette Drummond, a 40-year old Louisianan, who looked 60 and trained racehorses.  We were at a track just outside St. Louis.  Sitting in the dining area of the Jock’s kitchen had been a trip back to the 1940s.  The room was festooned with chrome plated, steel topped tables, metal chairs with cracked plastic seats, linoleum peeling from the floor, a black cat clock rolling his eyes and swinging his tail by the second, and amazingly low prices for bacon and eggs swimming in grease.

The area was peopled by trainers in snap-brimmed fedoras, yawning exercise kids in helmets, and jockeys in everything from riding clothes to multi-thousand dollar suits.  The tiny men collected their food from immense, sweaty, lumbering kitchen women more than twice their size, and bantered with one another ceaselessly back and forth across the room.