James Robert Hillis June 25 1924-August 18 1997


In a past story I wrote humorously about things my dad had taught me and while many were based in truth, obviously they were meant to bring a smile to everybody’s face,however there were many things that I learned from my dad that were very important to who i am.
He taught me to admit when I was wrong, something that is very tough for many people to do. He taught me to drive, and to respect the road and others on it. He also made sure to let me know that you don’t try to be somebody else, just be yourself. He taught me to be careful about what you say about other people, as it could come back to bite you. He taught me the importance of family, even though i didn’t know it at the time. And while my Dad was big on involvement in sports, when he realized that I liked watching hockey but was not big on playing organized shinny, he was cool with it and told me to do what i liked. He tried to get me into hunting, but soon came to the conclusion that shooting animals was not in my blood and again was okay with it. But I think the most important thing that I learned from my dad was how to laugh and make people around me laugh as well. Oh, and if you have read the column on things my dad taught me, well, Flatulence and how to use it is still one thing he taught me that I still use well to this day. Happy Birthday Dad.

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The Original Rat Pack


Frank, Dean and Sammy, you use those three names together and many people of my age and older conjure up images of 1960’s Las Vegas and the infamous Rat Pack. But the group that made the Original oceans Eleven movies and performed together on Vegas stages and in Concerts very rarely called themselves the Rat Pack, that was a media name giving to them as they tended to refer to themselves as “The Summit” .  And the reason for that is that the original Rat Pack existed in the mid 1950’s, it was a group that included at one time or another Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall,Judy Garland, David Niven, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, Cary Grant,Rex Harrison, Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, Mickey Rooney,  Cesar Romero, and Frank Sinatra who carried on the tradition into the sixties.  Unlike the 60’s version, the original Rat Pack was an organised group with regular meeting places usually at the Home of Bogart and Bacall who were married during this time and unlike the Sinatra led group this rat Pack Troupe assigned titles to members such as Pack Master,First Vice-president,den mother, cage master and Bogart’s Title, Rat in Charge of Public Relations. Of course their main goals as a group were Hitting the Casino’s in Vegas, going to the Horse races and drinking, but unlike the 60’s version never did movies or record albums together, but supported each other’s ventures.  When Humphrey Bogart died in 1957 that signaled the end of the original group as Frank Sinatra then formed what today most acknowledge to be the Rat Pack. One thing though that both versions of the Rat Pack had in common could be explained by Lauren Bacall when asked by a reporter what the Rat Pack was about  Bacall responded “to drink a lot of bourbon and stay up late.”

Today the term Rat Pack may not be as prominent to younger folks but generations of entertainers continue to use the term in one form or another, in the 1980’s there was the Brat Pack(Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy), there was a British Version in the late 80’s called the Brit Pack(Tim Roth,Gary Oldman,Colin Firth,Daniel Day-Lewis,Rupert Everitt and Miranda Richardson). The frat Pack was the late 90’s early 2000 version that consisted of Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, and Steve Carell.  However none of these subsequent groups ever held a candle to the Original Rat Pack or the Sinatra led group.

 

Give Me Back My Klackers


In the spring of 1968 I fell in love. Not with a girl or a dog but with a toy. The KLACKER to be precise. What is a klacker you ask, well let me tell you, it was a magnificent piece of weaponry, 2 acrylic balls attached to a sturdy workman like piece of string that when banged together could drive a parent crazy, and I had to just have one. A light blue transparent one at that.
Some scrawny kid like me could own one of these, jump over a 6 foot high fence and smoke the local bully. Yeah, that was going to be me. Jack, the neighborhood tough guy wouldn’t get the best of me anymore. That psychopathic grin would get wiped off his face really quick and than I would dance over his fallen body like David over Goliath, oh yeah, that 11-year-old 130 lb walking jelly bowl was going down. Or so I thought. As I gathered my nerve and as my friends waited timidly around the corner I approached the lug and started to stare him down, he didn’t flinch, I approached a little bit more slinging my klackers like a gunslinger in the old west and then it happened, he pulled a giant slingshot out of his overalls and started to fire spitballs at me. One by one they stung me and drove me back to cover behind the closest garbage pail and there I waited for the cavalry to arrive but realized that the Cavalry had run for cover as well and vanished into the school and the safety of the Nuns leaving me alone to face Jack one on one. It seemed like I was there for over an hour[probably just about a minute] when I got my courage up, got the klackers swinging good and rose,ready to face my final moments, I came flying out from behind that garbage can and ran smack into the body of Sister Aloysius, all 6 feet and 150 lbs of her. I went down like a rock ,my klackers flying out of my hands and landing at her feet, her evil grin even made the bully Jack cringe, and she had me at her mercy, and Jack was standing behind her grinning that psychopathic grin of his. I was doomed.
I wound up with a detention and had my Klackers taken away for 3 days, a punishment that seemed worse than death, and while I eventually got over that moment, the tension between Jack and I never cleared up but we stayed away from each other from then on. For me A moral victory and 3 day’s later I got my klackers back. All was well again.
And I wonder, did anybody ever get Jack? Did they get away or did Jack get revenge? And I wonder where Jack went? Is he living now on a chain gang in Alabama somewhere breaking rocks with his fists and dancing with a good ole boy named Bubba? One can only dream.