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.

You Just Don’t Understand Me

Some time ago, my wife and I watched a rerun of a movie starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt.  “What Women Want” is a very enjoyable romantic comedy about a male chauvinist pig who can, all of a sudden, hear what women are thinking.  It also caused Laura and me to do some thinking about the battle of the genders.  So far there’s no clear winner, but women seem to be ahead on points – at least that’s what they’d like us to believe.

Celebration

As of this writing, it is May of 2010.  There was a celebration at my house this morning.  Last night was very stormy – heavy rain, excessive lightning, brutal winds – the temporary finale of several days of harsh weather that produced tornados in Oklahoma and Kansas, hail up to baseball size here and there, flashfloods all over tornado alley, and over five inches of rain at our place.  As of this a.m. it’s still raining a little, but not storming, and our number two cattle dog, Clancy, will sleep a lot of this day.  For some reason, she has a grudge against lightning and feels obligated to invite it to come down and fight like a man – or dog in her case.  She rages at storms, bouncing around, calling Thor names, ready to do battle with the tempest, validating the old adage that it is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.  The long night of struggle is over now and she is tired.  This morning, the wind has laid, the rain has softened, and all is clean and new, and the birds, free now from three days of brutal pounding, are celebrating.

Baby

The Taurus and the Bull

Leslie Hallcraft smiled at me as he reached over the top rail of a board fence and scratched the back of an immense Charolais bull.

“This is Baby,” he beamed.  “He’s just as sweet as he can be…yes, he is!”

Les was my landlord.  In the outback of the Ozarks, we had rented a two-bedroom rock house from Les and his wife, complete with a barn and paddock for some pigs, a spring-fed catfish pond, and access to 600 acres of trees to cut wood for the furnace.  Les was a nice man, a converted northerner who drove an International Harvester pickup truck and swatted wasps the way normal people swat mosquitoes, often sustaining two dozen stings a day in hot weather.  He was introducing me to his prize bull – a bull nearly as expensive and large as an aircraft carrier, a bull he loved more than his children, a bull he’d installed in the pasture surrounding the barn and paddock where I kept pigs – a bull that was now going to be between me and where I needed to go several times a day.

Levi’s Legacy

Passing the Torch

[Editor’s note:  This piece was not originally produced for this web site.  As such, the format (music, style, etc.) differs from the other posts here.]

Roger and Sharon Sigler have lived in a rural portion of the Kansas City area for nearly three decades, and, for many of those years, their across the road neighbors have been Gwen and Bob Wright.  Gwen and Bob keep dogs – Great Pyrenees to be exact.  Great Pyrenees are large, white animals, similar in construction to Newfoundlands, and many of them weigh as much as an NFL punt return specialist.   Their bark is a cross between a lion’s cough and a damaged steam whistle.  Their jowls are pendulous, and one running in your general direction is reminiscent of an approaching avalanche.  Subtlety is not a part of their make-up.  The Great Pyrenees is an obvious dog, bred to control and protect livestock and property, and recognizes his calling nearly from birth.  Like most dogs, a Great Pyrenees may sometimes not take himself too seriously, but he seldom has to be reminded of his duty.

Almost Heaven

In the mid through late 70s, I lived in almost Arkansas, Missouri – an area that is steeped in tradition, clannishness, and ticks.  Outsiders are viewed there with a significant amount of suspicion, and not a small amount of predation.  Unless you were born in almost Arkansas, of parents from almost Arkansas, you would never be completely accepted.  During my time there, a local woman died at age 92.  She, originally an outsider, had lived in the community for 90 years.  Her epitaph began, “a beloved stranger to our shores…”

I quickly learned that if I were to journey to the local feed store and ask for assistance, I would probably be ignored.  If, however, I would enquire if “one a you good ol’ boys back there could hep me fer a minute”, assistance would be forthcoming.  Minds do not change easily in that part of the country.  Feuds are common both among and within families.  One couple who lived there had been married for almost 60 years, but had not spoken to each other since the day their son was killed in a logging accident while in the company of his father over 40 years before.  The wife turned her back on the husband, and they spent those years living apart in the same house, neither willing to budge much less forgive or forget.  Such was the mindset of many of the people in that beautiful country.  Thank goodness there were exceptions.

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.

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!

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.”

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.