Straight from the holler.


  by "Buck"

April 28, 2005

Whatever happened to the old days? When I was growing up, when my dad needed a part to fix something around the house we went to the hardware store or to the lumber company store in town. The guys
behind the counter I remember as graying gentlemen who knew everything there was to know about whatever it was they were selling. If we needed two by fours the guy at Bower's Lumber Company was completely versed in the area of wood and its properties. If we needed a shut-off valve for a water source, they guy at the hardware store was a Grade-A plumber if need be. If there was a painting project, the old fellow at Powell Valley Paint and Supply was completely into high-gloss latex…and if it was a rare project such as painting the underbelly of a farm wagon, he knew exactly what would be needed to prevent rusting and all of the pros and cons of said project. A new appliance involved speaking with a guy in an appliance store where he had actually gone to "appliance guy school." There were plenty of auto parts stores in town, but they were all locally owned and those who were behind the counter could easily move into a grease pit and be equally efficient. However, those days are LONG GONE.

I visited my local Home Depot this week and it was a thoroughly unsatisfying affair. I have a real uneasiness when I'm taking instructions from a kid whose one month out of high school about a vital household repair. I was a little unclear on how to rewire my ceiling fan and the ASSOCIATE (wtf?) came to ask if I needed help. The only wiring experience this kid could have had was hotwiring a Dodge Neo from the grocery store parking lot. He had a fucking ring in his tongue, ripe zits on his forehead, baggy pants, and a hip-hop
attitude….all enveloped on that ridiculous orange apron that said, "Hi
I'm Maddog How May I Help You?"

Certainly your local "Home Improvement Center" (again WTF?) has everything you could possibly want for the home. Where else can you
buy lumber, paint, potted plants, a plastic organizer, and a variable
speed drill under one roof for a ridiculously low price. Oh sure, it's a mesmerizing experience for certain, but these people handling home improvement advice are the same people a generation ago who were
asking if you'd like fries with that or if you'd like paper or plastic. Now they're not selling harmless items like banked beans or Big Macs. Nope, they've moved on to high ticket items like wall-to-wall carpet, pressure washers, and a witch's brew of pesticides. Good luck getting them to explain the pros and cons of those. One knucklehead with a pony tail and braces told me in a discussion about weed killer, "Well, let's look on the label…(attempts to read scientific data and concludes) I'd put what it says—and then apply about that much more to make sure you killed everything." I'm no environmentalist, but damn that sounds like a groundwater issue about to occur there…..

Here's further evidence of my beef. I wanted a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet 12 feet long by 1 foot. It took the teenage Rhodes Scholar 15 minutes—and aid from me with simple arithmetic to figure out how many square feet that entailed. Then to make it
worse, in the computer it's measure in square yards. Might has well
have asked her to perform a long form algebraic equation. These
shitballs are hired to work IN THE CARPET DEPARTMENT. Shouldn't there be at least some basic skills test to make sure they can properly calculate area? I was shitty in math, hence why I'm not in the carpet selling business, but even I know length times width gives you

Another example, I was looking for a saw blade with a masonry blade.
I had to explain to the Middle School Valedictorian in the power tools
area that means I need one that can cut cinder blocks. How to these
people keep their job? If I was a contractor I would already have
thrown up my hands and said Fuck It.

--I sent Mr. Kay a clip of a weatherman in Charlotte who was recently fired for substance abuse. Judge for yourself if you think it might have been justified.

--To whoever sent the Smoking Fish from Neyland Stadium….very nice. Brought back a flood of memories, all of which involved George

--News from here in West Virginia be careful who you decide to hook up with. A guy just got life in prison here in Charleston after he and
his girlfriend—a local stripper—robbed and beat a man to death. His
body was then stuffed in a trashcan and thrown down the riverbank.
Turns out the stripper girlfriend lured the dude to a shady motel in
Jefferson (home to MANY strip bars) with the promise of circus sex.
All he got was a hammer to the head. Nice.

--I fear another piece of our cultured past is on the verge of
extinction. The public swimming pools around here won't open on
Memorial Day as has always been the custom. Instead they are opening the second week of June after the kids are out of school. Those operating the pools are facing a ton of problems. One
funding—running a pool is expensive, especially with everybody having
a lawyer on retainer for a broken hangnail. They can't find enough
lifeguards---apparently they've moved on to higher paying gigs at the
Home Depot selling pesticides. Pool use is down because apparently
so many people have pools at home now. Can that be right? I know a
few hoity-toity folks who have their snobby backyard pool, but for the most part it's all public in the circles in which I run. A few
observations about this. First—the pool hours suck. The pools close
at 5:00 in the summer—what the hell is that all about? They should
be open until 9:00, that's the hottest part of the day, that's when
everybody gets off work and can bring their secrets, and it's daylight
until about 9:15. The other problem is that it costs too much.
It about $15 a day for the pool in Hurricane where I live…and it's not
a pool; it's a fucking WAVE pool with two WATER SLIDES. When I was a kid that was shit you got to do when you went on vacation to the beach or some far-flung waterpark in a tourist trap— not at home!

The pool is an historical treasure for many. I can remember the pool
is where I saw my first hair-pie when Jenny Davis lost her bikini
bottoms in a high dive act. It's also where I observed my first bare
nipple. Mary Ellen Lane's top was torn off in a prank. She had no
shame and pranced around the pool raising hell as her twin-twisters
danced the hypnotic bounce. She was one of those girls who had the
fake-looking tits before they actually had fake tits. In truth she
had no reason to have shame; in fact I think she was a little proud of
them and who could blame here. She got kicked out for the whole
summer—but what a summer it was to be a seventh grader. Other
memorable events at the pool in Big Stone Gap. Gerald Robninette
was arrested when he pushed a riding lawn mower into the 13-foot end and they had to drain the whole pool to get it out. Some guy I
didn't know busted his head open like a melon on the low dive in an
ill-advised triple-Lindy dive or some shit. The future Home Depot
employees fished him out. He looked like an inking squid with blood
gushing from his noggin. He lived to laugh about it I guess. There were routine turds deposited by Secrets in the Kiddie Pool and a few Caddyshack knockoffs in the big pool, prompting the concession stand to pull Baby Ruth candy bars from their menu.

Yes, it would truly be a shame to lose such a classic piece of Americana as the public swimming pool.

Buck Out

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