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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mr. Wilson’s War

When I was young, every 4th of July, my grandfather would load us up and drive to the big fireworks display at the football stadium in a nearby city.  He said the airborn bombs “put him in the mind of” World War One.

When the United States entered the First World War, my granddad was 20 years old.  A bricklayer by trade, a professional boxer by design, and a semi-pro baseball player by choice, he – and many other young men – were pressed into service.  My grandpa left school when in just the 4th grade to work and assist his widowed mother.  He was not an educated man.  Oh, he knew his letters and ciphers, read the newspaper and such, but he was a man of simple needs.  So when the call came to war, he went without question.  He took his oath to protect and defend very seriously, and he did as he was told.

Once Upon a Time

Planting the Seed

“Got a minute?” he asked.

I’d seen him around the area for the past few days.  He was busy, landscaping mostly – installing water features, planting trees.  He was a hard worker, and so old I couldn’t even guess at his age.  It didn’t seem to affect him.  He labored like a young man – full of energy, vital.  He stretched his back out and walked over.

“If you’re not busy, I got a job for you,” he continued, wincing a bit as he worked out some kinks.  “It won’t take very long.  I- I just need a little help to get some things started around here and I think you’d be perfect.”

His eyes seemed to look through me.  Lying to this guy would be damn near impossible.  I squirmed a little when he looked right at me but his face was so kind it took the sting out of his gaze, and his voice was warm and rich.  It felt sort of like a blanket, you know?  I glanced around.

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.

Fire When Ready

Bud Miller was born to lead.  With 20 years service in the military, including the Korean War, when ex-Sergeant Miller retired and came home to our small town, he just couldn’t wait to get back in charge of something – and the Fire Department caught his eye.  Our little volunteer fire department was housed in a rundown brick garage just off the small uptown business district.  One ancient pumper truck constituted the entire fleet of firefighting vehicles and, three or four times a year, the town whistle would sound, phones in the volunteer’s homes would bellow a continuous steady ring, and 8 or 10 stalwarts would get to legally drive like maniacs to the fire house and launch the wheezing fire truck to go put out a garbage fire or a blazing tool shed.  Once a week the volunteer firefighters would hold an evening meeting at the firehouse to discuss business for a few hours.  The rumor mill claimed the meeting consisted mostly of beer, cards, and the occasional “stag film”, but nobody ever got out of hand.  So it was, so it had always been – until Bud Miller declared his candidacy for the exalted office of Fire Chief.

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.

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.

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.

Set N’ Think

The young couple had two small children with them at the restaurant, and as I labored through my chicken fingers I watched the relationship of the family.  It was different than most I see these days.  There was no travel bag full of toys, no blizzard of techno-bliss, nor were the kids fussing or whining.  All four people at the table, two in their adulthood, two under 7 years, were talking and enjoying one another, physically and psychically touching each other, learning about each other, with relatively equal participation.

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.