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 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.

Almost Arkansas

Once upon a time I lived in Almost Arkansas, Missouri.  In spite of how bizarre some southern Missouri towns are named, you will not find Almost Arkansas on any map, but it is there.  I’ve seen it.  Unlike the mythical “Lake Woebegon”, Almost Arkansas exists.  Sid, a German shepherd who brought home his own dog food and had a pigeon friend, lived there, as did Arlo and Mertie, an ill-fated veterinarian named Delmar Dawe, and many other people firmly lodged in my failing memory.  Cloud, a horse who saved my life was a resident, and it is where I used to cowboy and beat the sun to the top of the hill on horseback every morning.  It is real.  It is not named Almost Arkansas, but it is Almost Arkansas, as are several other small towns in that area.

Silverthorn

He was about 6½ feet tall, weighed maybe 280 pounds, and had straight blue-black hair to below his waist.  He looked down at me through hard dark brown eyes from a walnut face and said, “You’re white.  Where’d you get that necklace?”

He was referring to a Native American, deer-bone hair pipe, four-strand choker I was wearing.  I looked up at him and told the truth.

“I was gifted it by a Cherokee on the eve of her quest for her vision.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I gave her council,” I replied.

“It’s old.”

“Yes it is.  It was in her family for many years.”

“To be gifted such a thing is a great honor,” he went on.

“That’s why I wear it,” I said.  “To honor her and her family.”

He grinned at me.  “Right answer, Paleface,” he said, sticking out a paw.  “My name’s Steve.  Nice to meetcha.”

So began a relationship with Steve Silverthorn, a full-blood Lakota Sioux.

In the Gravest Extreme

I have avoided this subject because it cries out for a certain amount of objectivity that I may not possess, but a friend urged me to run off at the mouth a little.  Volatile to be sure, the subject is guns. From the idiots who actually believe we can take all the guns away from people and make the whole world sweetness and light to the lunatics who think they should be able to own .60 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers, there are some really committed (or should be) folks out there vocalizing their twisted views on firearms.  I guess it’s my turn.

Not Again

No More Horsin’ Around

The year was 1969 and I was in the market for a horse.  In horse shopping, “let the buyer beware” applies even more than when purchasing a used car, picking a mate, or renting John Wayne Gacy for a fun weekend.  Sellers of horses, often kindly, almost Uncle-like gentlemen are a suspect group with the social conscience of a pickpocket and the morals of a Columbian drug lord who runs a few ladies on the side.  Therefore, I turned away from auctions where fleecing some poor buyer out of his life savings on a cross-firing nag with fistulated withers and permanently waterlogged hocks is seen as a virtue, and went shopping at places with good reputations that actually bred and reared equines that could be traced back to where they’d come from.

I was – and still am, for that matter – partial to quarter horses.  In more recent years, quarter horses have become so badly polluted by thoroughbred crossbreeding that they are sometimes hard to distinguish from farther away than 50 feet.

Crusher

His name was Crusher and he was a policeman.  At the time, so was I – fresh out of the Police Training Institute, 160 hours of basic instruction under my Sam Browne Belt, 21 years old, and so green I squeaked when I walked.  Crusher was an 8-year veteran with a bad attitude.  I don’t know what made him the way he was – maybe he spent too much time standing in line at the DMV – but he was full to the brim with anger and frustration fed by an I.Q. only slightly above room temperature.  My upcoming assignment to the 3-11 shift would not take effect for a few weeks, so I was left on the day trick and partnered with Crusher as I awaited my new assignment.  As green as I was, it only took hours to figure out that Crusher had no business being a cop.

It’s tough to fire a cop.  Being a police officer is usually a civil-service position.  Back in those days, that translated to lousy pay but great benefits:  health insurance, life insurance, pension, sick leave, personal leave, paid holidays, over 30 days a year vacation for the old-timers, our own Police Park and pool, our own credit union, a uniform allowance, legal assistance if necessary from the Policeman’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and a free gun.  If you were a rookie and still in the year’s probationary period, you could get fired for sneezing if they wanted to get rid of you, but once you were a full-fledged cop, you had to do something really stupid for the powers that be to shuffle you off.  Crusher was firmly ensconced.

The Smell Will Tell

Here Kitty, Kitty

I never did understand why Steve Seymour wanted a skunk.  When I was small, my Uncle Floyd had a skunk, de-scented, that lived in the house with him and his wife, Flo.  It was a low-slung, black waddle with white stripes that would occasionally scuttle out from under the couch, putter around aimlessly for a time, and not allow me to pet it.  It wouldn’t cuddle, fetch, or do tricks.  I didn’t understand the worth of owning a skunk.  I still don’t.  I have known three people and several dogs that have been involved in bad business with skunks and, save one, none that I’m aware of willingly have gone back for more.  The one who did go back, a dog, a black lab/Chow crossbred to be more precise, has been dealt with harshly by skunks nearly 20 times.  She doesn’t seem to mind, or perhaps she just doesn’t remember.  She is, after all, part Chow.

Memories

Telling and Dwelling

I watched a movie the other night called “Doc Hollywood” and enjoyed it a great deal for the fifth or sixth time.  No guns, no standoffs, no raging mutant android cross-dressing Cyclops stalking the countryside – just a young, hotshot surgeon trapped for a time in small-town America.

Musing after the program on why I liked it even more the fifth time than I had the first, the answer became clear:  I miss my small town and the time period when I was there.

In the movie, the village is called Grady – “The Squash Capital of the World” – or the South, or the state, or something.  Even though the picture is set in the present, Grady is not.  Nothing moves too fast in Grady.  Front porches are still neighborhood centers for jawing, back fences neighborhood centers for gossip, and everybody knows everybody’s business – just like where I grew up.

Age

When Will It End?

I’m getting old.  I know that I’m getting old – that’s no big secret – but I was reminded of that ugly fact recently when I realized that I need a computer monitor slightly larger than a picture window.  The one I have just isn’t big enough anymore – or it could be that my bifocals are, once again, inadequate – another sign of aging.

Certain points in our lives mark milestones in our long descent into the abyss.  The passage of time leaves its mark on all of us and I am not as young as I once was – I’m not even as young as I once thought I was!

Caesar

Before this epic begins, I must warn you that this is a long bit – if you actually intend to pay attention, perhaps a cup of coffee is in order, or a sandwich…a big one.

“C’mon,” she said, “go with me.  I’m gonna look at their new colt.  Let’s take your bike.”

She was Jane Lehr, a veterinarian friend who lived on the outskirts of Barrington Hills, Illinois.  Laura and I were visiting for a few days.  My wife was napping, so Janie and I loaded up on my motorcycle and rode the 10 miles to the Sanford residence so she could check on the Sanford’s latest acquisition, a yearling saddlebred.  As we turned off the road onto the gravel lane that wound its way 200 yards to the 7,000 square foot house, Jane asked me to stop.

August in the Afternoon

Down and Dirty

It was hot, heavy, and humid at about three o’clock on that August afternoon.  The air was totally calm, the sky slightly hazy, and I crouched in the dust, sweat rolling in muddy trickles down the back of my neck, a mask held tightly to my face by straps over and around my head.  I was wearing thick cotton clothing, a heavy short-sleeved shirt that was belted into equally heavy pants, two pairs of socks under stiff padded leather coverings on my lower legs, and additional insulation nearly an inch thick swathed the front of my body from neck to crotch.  The heat was immense, and I was breathing through my mouth to get enough oxygen, as the large man leaning over my back said, “Ball two.”

Jackpine Jolly

Too Tall, Big Fall

His name was Roger Brooks, but we just called him Jolly.  We called him Jolly partially because of “Jolly Roger” and partially because the Jolly Green Giant was popular in those days and Jolly was a little over 6 feet 7 inches tall, and partially because everybody had nicknames in our insular, motorcycle-motivated society – my best friend for instance, Lee Walter “The Duck” Griesheimer.   Duck was five feet four.  Looking at Jolly and Duck as they stood side by side could make you dizzy.

El Rojo

Attitude In Red

His name was “El Rojo”.  He was a rooster.  I got him from Jeremiah Mavis when I lived in “Almost Arkansas”, Missouri.  Jeremiah Mavis was an Arkansas Ridge Runner.  Big, raw-boned, and redheaded, he was of hearty Ozark stock.  His biggest claim to fame were his wife’s newly-installed breasts and a four-pound, 12-ounce crappie on his trailer wall.

Jerry assumed all Northerners to be ignorant, but for some reason took a shine to me and would do almost anything – as long as it didn’t involve work – to assist in my Southern education.  Jerry operated on the fringes of the law.  He made moonshine back in the hills somewhere, spotlighted deer on a regular basis, and kept fighting chickens.  Cockfighting qualified as major entertainment in that area in those days, and Jerry had several prime contenders.  His stable of birds rivaled that of “Chicken George”, and when Sheriff Cletus F. Joe Dawkins shut Jerry’s operation down, he was left with more roosters than a man needed.

Compassion

I’m sure many if not even most of you out there lay awake nights wondering why I choose to spend the vast majority of my time sequestered away from civilization in the company only of Digger the outstanding dog, Clancy the incredible dog, Grizz the irritating cat, and Laura the coveted wife.  What could possibly have been so disconcerting, if not horrible, as to send me into voluntary exile?  You win.  I’ll tell you.

There was a time in my life when I wanted to change the world.  Really.  I didn’t want to carry placards, march in circles, and shout slogans – that’s not my style.  I didn’t aspire to go to India and work among the poor – the food’s too spicy.  The Peace Corps seemed to be a bit extreme – no television.  So, I became a cop.  My motives were pure.  They really were.  I wanted to crush bad guys to their knees and promote racial harmony in a world of difference.  After a few years of bruises and stitches, shootings and knifings, automatic weapons fire – at me, being spat upon and called names, mindless judges, soulless lawyers, and incredibly doltish juries, my lofty ideals were pretty much reduced to “Us against Them” – “Them” being the civilians of the world.  When I realized what I was becoming, I ran away and found myself in the grasp of almost Arkansas, Missouri, one of the true remaining bastions of “duh” on the planet.