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.

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.

Hell of a Ride

Don’t Look Before You Leap

When I was a kid, parents worried about their children, but safety was not the multi-billion dollar concern that looms over us today.  Car seats were unheard of, we skated and rode bicycles without the smallest bit of padding, and were actually allowed to leave the house without dressing to tend goal in the NHL.  As a result, childhood injuries were fairly common.  Broken arms, ankles, stitches, and such were badges of honor – proudly worn after the initial trauma, envied by those unscathed, accepted by parents as the wages of growing up.

As I look back on some of the nearly suicidal chances I took when I was young, I truly believe that God does protect the foolish.  In the herd I ran with, we sometimes stretched that protection envelope nearly to the limit.

Float Your Boat

Can You Canoe?

Mammoth Spring, Arkansas is a small community near the Missouri state line.  Ozark-outbackian in nature, it has two claims to fame.  Number one, it is rumored to have been approached, many years ago, by entrepreneurs looking for a country site on which to launch a new venture in the music industry they were going to call “The Grand Ole Opry”.  The city fathers at the time decided that anonymity was a better deal than the possible influx of strangers from the outside world –  especially northerners – and turned the offer down.  The entrepreneurs, as we all know, then went to Tennessee.  Number two on the short list is the fact that Mammoth Spring is the home of Mammoth Spring, an immense cold-water spring that is truly mammoth.  Ratings vary, but it is safe to assume that the spring is one of two or three of the largest in the hemisphere, if not the world.  It is the beginning of the Spring River, one of my favorite places on the planet.

In the upper reaches of the river – the first 13 miles or so – the water is very cold and populated by trout, pickerel, small-mouth bass, a wide variety of flora and fauna, and canoeists.  With the exception of the aluminum variety, rampant on the river when I was living in that area several decades ago, canoes are quiet, slippery things that can maneuver through rocks and falls with wonderful alacrity and grace, sliding over gravel in shallow water with only a whisper, and able to allow passengers intimate views of riverbanks and the creatures that live there.  In those days at least, it was possible – even likely – that two people could beach a canoe on a sandbar and, while one built a small fire, the other could pick enough watercress and catch enough trout to have fish and salad for four in the time it took to get the fire going.  From boat to bite, 20 minutes.

Flood Stage

The four of us – Ron, Eddie, Roy, and yours truly – stood a few yards downstream from Dam Four and looked at the river. In normal times, we would have been on a rock outcrop about 15 feet above its sleepy green translucent flow. In normal times, we would have looked down into the water, watching it slip lazily around black and gray boulders, catching the occasional glimpse of the flash of a rainbow trout’s reflective side, the shadow dart of a pickerel chasing a minnow, the splash of a small mouth bass skittering in the shallows. In normal times, red-eared turtles would have festooned its banks, a heron might be fishing near a stump, perhaps a fox fussing near the water. In normal times, it would have been a lovely springtime pastoral setting, its very beauty causing us to speak in hushed tones. Today, we had to shout. These were not normal times. Instead of being 15 feet below where we stood, the river was 15 inches below our feet.

Unrequited

Love’s Illusions I recall

She was a vision.  Petite, with dark brown hair in a pageboy cut, her gentle rippling laugh flitted on the wind like a butterfly, its fragile wings caressing all who heard it with tender purpose.  Arching brows highlighted dark eyes that could delight or accuse in the same glance; eyes that both revealed and concealed, darted and laughed, asking for nothing and full of unspoken promise.  She wore no makeup, and it would have been as laughable on her as watercolor on the Mona Lisa.  Her dress was simple cotton, ordinary in every way, totally without pretension.  She was a new addition to my usual haunts and, from the instant I saw her, I was captivated.

The line of her jaw turned my head.  The curve of her shoulder held my gaze.  The sway of her walk captured my imagination.  I had to meet her.  I had to be near her.  She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and I was more drawn to her than I had ever been to another.  Fearful of making a fool of myself, I held back.  Afraid of being rejected, I waited.  For two days, I watched her from afar, immersed in the fantasy of what she might be like, of how it would feel to come to know perfection.  Finally, when I could stand it not a moment longer, when I had to make contact in spite of my fear, I worked up my courage and got her a gift.

I bought her a Tootsie Roll Pop.

My Two Wives

Double Indemnity

As it happens sometimes in my narrow life, a friend started me to think.  It was when she spoke of her wedding, her husband in his rented tux and she in her linen suit with dyed-to-match heels setting off on their road of life together many years ago – and some of the rocks that litter that very road.  It brought to mind weddings – two of them to be exact, both of them mine.

C’mon Boys, Over the Top!

Kill the Bass Drummer

I want to start this piece by saying that I have a great deal of respect for those men and women who have served or are serving our country in the military.  My grandfather fought in France and Germany during World War I, my father on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal in World War II.  My dear wife, while not in the military, spent four years in Afghanistan working to support the troops in hostile areas complete with bombings and rocket attacks.  I, myself, spent a full day and a half in the United States Air Force, and I certainly appreciate those who have given even more than their lives, who have had their minds disrupted, deleted, or even destroyed because of the horrors of war.

At age 14, I took employment as bass clarinetist with the Elk’s Band, a group of fine concert musicians who played in various locations around central Illinois and west central Indiana.  Our repertoire consisted of classical pieces, the occasional show tune, and patriotic numbers by John Phillip Sousa and his ilk.  One fine Sunday, all 42 of us climbed aboard the bus and headed for Danville, Illinois, to play a concert at the VA hospital.  The director rose to his feet as we neared our destination, and cautioned us about the upcoming venue.

Yard Work

Clipping and Flipping

There are those to whom mowing grass is a gas, but I find a lawn a yawn.  Some feel that heaven is clipping a hedge, but I’d rather camp on a skyscraper’s ledge.  Many find flowers their cup of tea, but a dandelion can get the best of me.

It shouldn’t be that way.  I was raised by a man who took a well-groomed lawn very seriously.  He mowed a lot.  So did I.  I even did a stint for a time as a grounds man on the campus of the University of Illinois mowing for a living until I screwed up my knee by falling off an 8-foot wall of a raised yard near the office of non-academic personnel.

Employed in the lawn and garden department of a large store one spring, my job was to assemble lawn mowers for the unsuspecting public.  Some of them actually worked.  I know the difference between Kentucky blue, fescue, and zoysia.  I know privet when I see it. I can easily determine between northern birch and the river variety.  I am not ignorant, just ineffectual.

The White Rat

His name was Tim Koss, a Lieutenant of detectives when I was a rookie police officer.  Koss was a tall, distinguished-looking man in the mode of Cary Grant or Stewart Granger, prone to monogrammed cardigan sweaters, subtle jewelry, and expensive footwear.  There was a reserved elegance about him that women were drawn to and men trusted.  His wife balanced him nicely, also tall and slender, worthy of displaying prizes on “The Price is Right”.  When the two of them were viewed together, the casual observer might conclude that Mount Olympus was short a couple of residents.  In truth, Koss was bright, slightly depressed, with a twisted sense of humor, and a wry way of looking at the world.  For unknown reasons, he took an interest in my young, rookie self, and became somewhat of a mentor to me during my first year as a cop.

The Poodle On The Parkway

When I was a young man, I attended official cop school.  Week after week, after week, after week, a select number of young valiants such as I were sequestered from the world, the victims of excessive indoctrination and instruction into the art and function of being police officers.  An amazing amount of subjects were covered, from how to deliver a baby (don’t – run away) to the methods for defending oneself against a knife attack (don’t – run away) to public relations (run away…rapidly) to drug abuse (who and where, not how and when) to search and seizure, Miranda, racial or ethnic profiling, crime scene investigation, interviewing and questioning, firearms, radio procedure, traffic stops, domestic violence, polygraph examination, subject restraint and control, high speed driving technique, criminal psychology, choosing the correct doughnut – on and on and on.  The amount of subject matter was amazing.

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.

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.

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.