Friday, December 12, 2008

Las Vegas in 1952

Life in Kickapoo Center at the Turn of the Century

On my Yahoo home page, there's an article about Betty Paige. The photo at left is not Betty Paige. It's my wife in a self portrait completed in 2007. Since she's a former kick boxing teacher, brown belt, scoring #4 in the National in Minneapolis in the 80's, I'll not be saying anything humorous, sarcastic or otherwise. Life's to short. Anyhow, Yahoo also reports that scientists are using sarcasm in studies of dementia in people under 65. I'm afraid to read the article.

Betty Paige died at the age of 85. She was a pin-up icon. My first introduction to Betty Paige, other than the women who wore her famous short bang haircut, was a movie from Netflix called The Notorious Betty Paige Exhaustive research on the net viewing nude shots of Betty, I determined her nipples were nicer than Ms.Mol who portrayed Betty in the movie. In a photo-opp shot with Hugh Hefner in the 1990's, I understood why she didn't want to be photographed.

I worked with a woman at Wal-Mart who looks like the present day Betty Paige. She has an upswept bouffant grey hair style, always wears a Mickey Mouse denim shirt- size 3x and is notoriously nasty-until you get to know her. Screaming kids on the floor were "maggots". I'd move something out of her way in the back room and she'd reply,"Ask me if I give a shit." Early on, talking to her was a sure bet for a desire to cut your throat. She was almost as wide as she as her 5 foot 6 height. She has a sister named after a fruit. So, I understand why Betty wanted to keep her 1950's image sacred.

In defense of Madame X at Wal-Mart, I learned that at a former occupation, she rode the train daily to downtown Chicago . In Chicago you do not make eye contact with strangers. It's like the monkeys at the UW research station where my step-son cleaned their cages. He told me, "Never look a monkey in the eyes. It's an aggressive gesture sure to get a monkey irate." Madame X said to be safe on the train she developed an, "I'll rip your throat out," attitude. "Mess with me," that look said to anyone giving her a second look, " and you're dead." It never went away.

I also learned later that underneath the crust was a marshmallow. Talking about someone whose husband passed away, she would tell me about her mate. "When Bill died, I figured life goes on." Speaking of someone who was having an affair with the grocery gigolo she'd say, "I'm not anybody's catch, but I don't see what the attraction is."

I've been worried about the Pooch lately. He sleeps on a footrest for a Danish modern chair in the studio. He no longer comes up at 5 am, meows his hello and settles next to my face. Yesterday we went for our first afternoon hike since The Big Snow. We walk the plowed road and folow Ron's tractor tires out to the corn field. I've determined in advance we'll do the circle tour down through the swamp grass, hang out by the burned dead trees by the river and come back up the town road that is our driveway.

The Pooch cuts through the weeds between our south fence line and the corn field. When he gets to the woodpile, he climbs the black walnut to get a better view. Down back to the ground Pucci wades through chest high snow. I urge him on. The snow is shallower in the corn field. Deer have followed tractor ruts. I'll break a trail for the Pooch. In the dip between field and fence line, Pucci starts sneezing. He's actually wading through the white stuff. It's getting up his nose. I walk over and pick him up. For me the going get hairy as I stumble through weeds and snow calf deep. I'm only wearing running shoes.

I deposit the cat on the fence rail so he can walk above the snow while getting a good view of the bushes and east fence line. Half way down the fence, ice sticks in his paw. He begins to turn around. This is getting ridiculous. There's more to come Oh boy, I can't wait. Giving up on the afternoon hike, I pick up the Pooch and carry him to the deck. He's so relieved to be back on solid ground, he disappears in his hidey-hole under the steps. It's going to be a long winter.

Tracks in the snow tell remarkable stories. Around bushes sticking up in the snow are dozens of bird tracks. They can eat the seeds off weeds that were too fragile to perch on before the snow. I follow deer tracks and determine that a major route is across the highway,our road and back to the woods along the river. An opportunistic raccoon follows the deer tracks.Last night there was a full moon. I'm restless. I come downstairs to check on the Pooch. Without lights on in the house it truly is "The Dead of Winter".

Oh, Las Vegas in 1952? That's when the town got their first stop light.

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