Birthday Letters

On January 16, 1943 my dad was born.  I don’t know anything about his birth.  Whether he was born in a hospital or at home.  Whether he was a good baby or a tyrant.  How much he weighed or if he sucked his thumb.

Today if he were still living, he would have turned 70 years old.

He wrote himself a birthday letter a fews years back.   I happen to have a copy.


Happy Birthday, Bob—–Happy 55 years.  A real milestone.  I feel like celebrating this b.d.,  unlike my 30th, which went by unnoticed.  Unlike my 40th which went by with hardly a ripple or even my 50th, supposedly the biggie, hardly made a dent on my psyche.

But 55 is the short side of the century mark.  So that makes it a milestone in my books, and I’m finally at the age where it makes not a tinkerers damn about anyones books but my own.

A brief synopsis—–I was born into a family of five siblings, a bootlegger father, and my mother was a housewife.  My family was mildly dysfunctional to say the least, my parents divorced when I was 11 and my mother struggled to keep her brood together.

I went to High school here in town, finally got laid, got drunk and enlisted in The Marine Corps just a few days after graduation.  Spent four years in The Corps, traveled around the world, went to work for various construction companies in West Texas and never once let college cross my mind.  Made a lot of parties—-a few friends and generally went around with my heart on my sleeve.

Anne, my wife and I had a wild, roller coaster, wonderful relationship from day one when we met in The Crystal Lounge bar, a downstairs dark, dank place where people drank, fought and loved with equal fervor.

Anne had two boys from a previous marriage that I was too young and dumb to see the joy in.  We later had two daughters that have remained the light of my life to this day.  The boys have forgiven my shortcomings and remain friendly toward me, too.  Thanks boys.

55 years—-that must seem like an eternity to someone in their 20’s or thirties, but to me it has been but a short journey on this meandering train we call life.  Meandering, wandering, everlooking for the path of least resistance, just like the nameless creek near Hoover, Texas where I gathered clover blossoms to plait into a braid for Anne’s hair.


Happy Birthday Dad—-happy 70th.  Two birthdays have now passed since you left us.  And lots has happened.  I miss you, but it does get easier with time, but there are still days that sadness is all around me, thick as fog.   I love you more than I ever have, and I’m so thankful for your writings that you left us.  I feel I know you better now than I ever did in real life.  I wonder why we feel like we can’t open up to others, and especially the ones who love us most?  I know I’m just as guilty.

You were a good dad.  That’s probably all  you  wanted to hear while you were living, and I don’t know if I ever told you.  But you were.   I wouldn’t change it for anything.

You tried your best, I know that now.  It’s certainly not easy being a parent, I know that now too.

I never realized just how tender you were.  You were always so tough and big and strong, that I guess I didn’t think about your feelings much.  I’m sorry for that.

Thanks for being a number one dad to me.  Thanks for supporting me in everything I ever did.   Thanks for taking time to spend with me, even if it was laying in the floor taking kissing bets during a bowling tournament on T.V. or skipping rocks on the Illinois.  I have fond memories, and those are what I carry with me now.  It’s all I’m left with, the memories and your stories.

You’d really love Emma.  Sometimes I imagine that you are here and see you laugh at her or hug her close.  She reminds me of you sometimes.  Especially now as she’s learning to walk.  She’s got this stumble about her, that’s very Grandpa-esque.  Or sometimes they way she lays while she’s sleeping or a look on her face makes me think of you.  You are a part of her.

I know you’re in Heaven and I’m going to be there someday too.  It’s good that this life isn’t all we’ve got, isn’t it?  So, until we meet again Dad, enjoy yourself, and I’ll do the same.  There’s much happiness here still, and memories to make with others.

I love you bigger than Hog Eyes and Sauerkraut Mississippi.

Until then……




In Memory of my dad—number forty something

The green spiraled journal draws me in.

It belonged to my dad.

The very first thing I bought when I became an adult was a storage building.  It sits on my mom’s property (once upon a time it was my grandmother’s property) and my dad put a few boxes of belongings in there nearly twenty years ago.   In one of the boxes was this journal.

On the cover he has printed:
The Journals of Robert Lee—-soldier, statesman, author.

It is filled with his thoughts, his hopes, his disappointments, his memories.
Stuffed between the written pages he has a few cards from loved ones, pictures of my sister and I, and bills from the IRS.

I love this journal, although it is mostly sad.  He wrote when he was going through a very difficult time, of which I was completely unaware, but heck I was a kid then, barely out of high school, and completely wrapped up in my own life.

I discover that I didn’t really know my dad.  But who really did?

He hurt more than I know, and I don’t mean physically.

Today is the 15th of April, 1996.  Tax Time for most folks, but to me it is different.   Today I join the ranks of the homeless.  I haven’t learned a lot in my 53 short years aboard this planet, but I’ve learned this, we are just a short journey from this predicament that I find myself in right now.  It’s a feeling that I don’t wish on friend or foe, but I’ll come out of the water bushed and gasping of air, out of breath and hoping for a low hanging limb from which this wrecked body needs just a minute to catch it’s breath.  Then I’ll fight onward, searching for new friends, looking in familiar haunts for a few old compatriots, who’ll say—welcome ol’ shoe, come sit awhile and rest.

April 18, 1996—
It’s not good being homeless, but I have been getting reacquainted with my mother.  Before I was always in a  hurry when I went to see her, but now we are taking the time to talk to each other.  Today we spoke of my grandparents, the last who died in 1975.  I wish that I could have gotten to know them.

As I reread this journal, no as I pore over his words, I get the “missing my dad blues”.   The “If only’s”  The “I wish”.  It doesn’t help that its a rainy day in July either.  Much like my dad wrote on the page he titled, “July or is it June 27?”

I moved into my new digs yesterday.  Went to the store and bought boloney and beer.  It’s a cloudy, dismal day, in fact I’ll call this place “The Dismal Swamp”  It’s a dump, held together with spit n’ glue, but at least the neighbor’s are nice—which means that they don’t bother me or even come out of their own hovels.  I’m into Charles Bukowski, poet, short stories, novels, drinker extraiordinairre.  Life is good as we let it be.

He was phenomenal with the written word.
Dawn comes on a silvery black flash that gently turns to a pale blue as the sun makes it’s ascent into the morning sky.  Departure time is steadily approaching and I feel a twinge of excitement as the clock ticks onward toward the time of making my exit.  My brother warned me about this happening, he said, “don’t let one year turn into ten” when I first moved here for just a year.  Well, June marks the 10 year span that I’ve spent here in Green Country.  I can see the changes here in Okla.  that have occurred since coming here.  Mainly, traffic flow, the driving here is atrocious.  But that does not take from  the few close friends that I have made here.  I’ll always appreciate them.

He was funny.
“Guess I’ll go by leon’s house and see if he wants to go fishing with me n’ doc tomorrow—-it is the fourth of July and we do live in the bosom of democracy, so why not fish.  Uh Oh.  Outta beer.  So I’ll take to task the advice of my ol’ mentor and friend, Horace Greely—-Go West—-about 2 miles—–the have Busch on sale.” 

Keeping a journal and trying to keep sounding interesting is so boring.

Yes, dad I agree with that one whole heartedly!  He continues…..

My life is boring, but the mundane way of life is peaceful.  Living quiet has it’s own reward.

He got lonesome and had regrets.

Nov. 24, 1996
I dreamed of Jo and Angel night before last.  They were small and cuddly and we laughed and played.  I awoke all discombobulated and out of sync.  It’s good to dream old dreams.  I miss the girls so much.  I hope Angel is doing all right out there in the west.  She is so private it’s hard to find out anything from her.  Joley has John so I don’t worry about her so much.  Joley is my little mother.  I know that she will see to it that I am taken care of.  I hope that I never need it tho.  I’m sorry now that I didn’t know how to love the girls’ mother.  Hindsight has perfect vision.  But I just didn’t know, and for that I am sorry. 

Jan. 13, 1997
I’m lonesome and being broke don’t help.  I’d visit an axe murderer if he’d stop by my digs. 

Although these notes are sad and some remorseful, I receive peace when I read them.  I know how much my dad loved me.  There was never a time I doubted that.  He wrote of it many times.  His heart was full of love.

I am the proud father of 4 children.  Two boys and two girls.  How this mixed blessing came about, I’m not exactly sure.  It just came at me out of the blue, kinda like a fighter with a good left hook.

I also receive comfort knowing I’ll see him again.

Feb 7th or 8th
I know God is my friend and I hope he lets me hang around for a few years.

Thanks God for the years.

There’s more.  There’s lots more.  But I’ll leave you with that for now.  I don’t think my old pop would mind me sharing this.  It helps me, and I know there are family and friends who miss him terribly.  I hope it helps them too.  Sometimes we just want to hear from our loved ones one more time and this is the way that I do that.  When I read these words, I hear his voice.  I see the twinkle in his eye.  I see him throw his head back when he thought something was funny,  yet keeping his laugh inside and quiet.

I see him in my baby girl too, little bits of him.  There are times I wish he could see her, but then I remember…..I’m pretty sure they’ve already met.

In Memory of My Dad #41


I haven’t shared a story from my dad in several weeks.  There’s a good reason for this.  I’m out of stories by my dad; that I know of.   I haven’t gone through all the old newspapers, but it appears all that is left are sports news.   I’m confident no one cares to read the score of the Little League game from 1993.

My mom and I have been digging through shoeboxes looking for baby pictures of me to see if EK has any resemblance to me at all.  She doesn’t.  But I discovered a picture I’d never seen before.

My uncle Leon said my dad used to tell him, “I miss my little girls.  I mean, I miss my girls when they were little.”

I miss him too.

We had fun.


In Memory of My Dad #42—Neighbors

“Wish I could move my family, live up on Highway 10, where the beavers chew on sycamores and the neighbors are your friends.” Highway 10 by Dan Garber

Once upon a time here in the wooded hills of Eastern Oklahoma the word neighbor had special meaning. But that was before the days of moon shots and divided highways. Before speed became of the essence and everyone was in a hurry to make it to the local discount store. Before Tahlequah became a Mecca for canoeists and rafters, and highway 10 wasn’t as dangerous as an impact area.

Your neighbor was a strange duck, and they all seemed to be cut from the same bolt of cloth. He not only came by with his help when some catastrophe struck, but he also showed up to help with the celebration of any event that you deemed important. He would sit in church with you listening to the message, or he could pull a cork with you with equal aplomb.

He came by during the long evenings of summer and gossiped with your parents about the going on’s in the community of which we all were a part, while his kids chased lightning bugs and dodged bull bats with you in the long shadows.

If you took sick, your neighbor could always find time from his own busy schedule of hoeing corn or the many chores that go with living on a farm to check on your health. If your sickness lingered, your neighbor also took his turn sitting up with the patient, giving medicines and plenty of TLC. He was a good guy, your neighbor.

If your family suffered a death, your neighbor didn’t just come by with the usual flowers and the old “call me if you need me” before hurrying off on a sojourn of his own. He helped prepare the body for burial, opened and closed the grave and generally made himself handy around the place. He was also the first if called upon to heap praises on the newly departed, even if it was only a “I’ll say this for old Claude, he was a good ol’ boy.”

The neighbor showed up early on the chilly mornings during hog killing time. He had with him his favorite butcher knife and whetstone and he knew just how hot the water should be to ensure you a good scald. He could trim hams and shoulders, and he could look at a hog and tell you how much meat you would have that winter.

Your neighbor didn’t count his visits nor did he wait for an invitation to dinner.  Many times I’ve been sent out to catch a couple of fryers just because the neighboring family showed up. While I was chasing fryers, Mama was going through her canned goods, looking for that jar of green beans that was so pretty or that half-pint of strawberry jam that had that special clarity. Now it seems that if we have unexpected company, we head for the Colonel’s for a bucket of his extra crispy.

If your house was destroyed by fire, as ours was back in ’53, nobody asked about insurance, there wasn’t any. Neighbors just went quietly about the community gathering clothing for five growing kids without the benefit of any money changing hands.

Sunday was sort of a Roman Holiday at the community of Briggs back during the 50’s. The grown ups sat and talked while the littler children played about their feet. The bigger boys flirted with the older girls while some of us might have sneaked off to take a swim in our birthday suits, flashing and frolicking like young seals in our exuberance.

Today we don’t wait for our neighbors to come for a visit. In fact, many of us leave the house in fear that very thing might happen.
We hurry through the day to get on the road ahead of traffic to go nowhere and to do nothing when we get there. We join a caravan of cars, cussing and calling the other drivers imbeciles for slowing down the traffic in our lane. We hermetically seal ourselves in our own vehicles, insulated and air conditioned against our neighbors while the latest tunes waft from our stereos. Nobody comes aborrowin’ anymore. No one can find the time from the everyday rush to sit a spell and whittle. Night time finds us down at Ned’s where we might find escape from the misery that is eating us alive, or we sit and stare at the boob tube.

We don’t have hog killings anymore because we find it simpler to drive down to the supermarket. The discount center is a short drive away so we don’t borrow a cup of sugar anymore and not many people even know what a framing square is, so there’s no reason to borrow one of those from your neighbor.

If things get too tough we can take a valium and make another appointment with the shrink.
The thought makes me sad that we don’t need neighbors anymore, because we all need to be needed.

Written by R.L. Briggs on July 20, 1996




In Memory of My Dad #41—All About August

The last week of July was uncommonly cool, but we’ll still have the fragrance ridden nights that are filled with the smell of honeysuckle. Nothing stirs the memory for me quite like the odor of honeysuckle and lilac.

I recall crushed and faded flowers in the old family Bible, maybe alongside a curl clipped from the head of a loved one.  And, the old Sycamore tree that has my initials, with hers, carved into the bark.  That old tree is still standing.  How many families of hawks have lived there in its lofty branches?  How many times has the old tree heard the raucous cawing of crows or the first chatter of a fox squirrel’s young during the passing years?

July is a fine time to go about cherishing all your favorite memories so as to build a cushion for your coming old age.  Now here comes August with her full, lazy, warm days and star-studded nights, filled with the rasping of the Cicadas.  August is the old age of summer, it is a good time to plant a rocking chair in the shade of a live oak tree and let the last month of summer lull you into contentment.

Recently while fishing the upper Illinois, I watched canoe after canoe filled with partying teenagers and young people float past my fishing spot.  I inquired of my fishing partner, “wouldn’t you like to trade places with those young ‘uns?”  He stared thoughtfully at the water a little while then said, “No, I don’t believe I would.  They have yet to climb all those rugged hills that we have already climbed.  They think life’s all peaches and cream, bu they’ll have more trouble in an hour than I’ve had in my whole life.  Let them have the youth, I’ll be perfectly content to just sit here in the shade and watch them rush through life.”

August is also the time for school to start.  At least that’s the way it was in the country schools when I was attending school.

Country schools let the students out earlier than the schools in town, so we always ended up starting back in the middle of the dog days of summer.

My first grade teacher was one of my heroines.  Well, let’s put things in a plainer light—I was head over heels in love with her.  She was a petite woman, soft and she smelled cuddly.  She taught me to read and write, and to cipher my numbers.  She was awfully proud of my reading prowess because she would take me into another room filled with older students and have me read to them.

Grades 1 and 2 had one room in elementary school, grades 3, 4, and 5 were in the second room.  Grade 6, 7, and 8 were taught by a male teacher and that’s where the elite were firmly entrenched–the softball team.

I swore that I would make that ball club someday.  Little did I know that to make the team all you needed was a warm body.  School attendance was at such a low that we even played girls on our team, and as I recall they were pretty good players, too.  One thing that I learned about girls by playing ball with them, was that softball is just a game and not a life or death situation.  And that an 8th grade girl certainly fills out a softball uniform better than a guy

But back to my first grade teacher.  She used to capture all the guys and comb their hair just before the school photographer took our pictures every year.  I didn’t fight too hard on these occasions, just a small token struggle to let the other guys know that I was all he-man.  She would pull me to her breasts, comb my hair into a big pompadour all the while telling me how cute I was.  I was determined to marry that woman and put her in such a nice place that she wouldn’t have to look at anyone else but me.  I don’t know which was the bigger heartbreak, finding out she was already married, with a daughter near my own age, or the fact that she told all the guys how cute they were.


Gypsying about the backroads of Eastern Oklahoma I recently saw a sad sight.  A motorist had run over a small mongrel dog while hurrying on his way to get nowhere and to do nothing when he got there.  A small waif-like boy weeped by the dog’s side.

Having raised two sons myself, and helping them to bury at least nine of their pets, I could empathize with the young boy.  I thought of a line from a poem that my own sons used to read at the funerals of their pets:
“Don’t worry master, I am here, out in the backyard under the bright grass where you left me.
It’s been a long year since I drowsed at your feet.
It is good now to feel them pressing the earth above me, like a warm quilt.” 


August is a good time to start neglecting your garden that you worked so hard to get started.  The sun is like molten lead and if you stay out in it too long it will cook your brains.  The weeks and long grasses are firmly ensconced in good old Mother Terra-Firma and need a most firm hand to discourage them to grow another foot or so overnight.


Art Webster is a first class Water Witch.  He has drilled hundreds of water wells and has yet to come up with a  dry hole.  I will be his witness on this, since I have helped him drill at least a dozen or so, and we hit water on everyone.

I’ve tried witching but can’t seem to get the hang of it although my brother claims to be able to feel the pull of the water.  He said it feels like a hand reaches up from the ground and gently grabs hold of that stick and pulls it down.  “It’s eerie,” he says, “you can’t hardly pull the stick back up.  You have to back away.”

No doubt water witching is almost as old as time itself.  If you are a non-believer you should hurry to the nearest library and pick up some information on the subject.  You may be a first class Water Witch your own self and not even know it.

Have a good August.

written by R.L. Briggs on August 3, 1996

In Memory of My Dad #39

“What’s old Duane doing now?” I asked.

“Seventy-five years.”

“Say what?”

“Yep, 75 years in the Huntsville pen.”

“He must have done something heavy.”

“Yeah, it seems Duane got mixed up with some dope dealers down around Houston and they leaned on him a little, and you know ol’ Duane, he started to shove back and—well there you have it.”

“That’s way uncool man.”

“Say, did I ever tell you about the time that Duane and I stole a U-Haul trailer?”

I sat back and relaxed while he got his thoughts in order.  This man was an excellent story-teller, so I hit on the extended bottle of Jack Daniels and prepared to listen to a a good story.

“It was about 25 years ago, give or take a year or two, me and Duane were running wild there in West Texas.  We were runnin’ the bars, playin’ guitar for beer and whatever the kitty would bring in.  When all of a sudden one day, Duane said he had us a gig over in Borger. 

Now the only wheels we had was that little 1958 Metro that I used to drive.  You remember it.  It wasn’t big enought to cuss a cat in.  We needed something bigger so ol’ Duane says, ‘heck , we’ll steal us a U-Haul.’

I was young and dumb in those days, so I jumped right in there on a deal like that.  So I agreed to a midnight run on the Depot Service Station, they had the local U-Haul concession, and we’d just pick us up our U-haul and be on our merry way.

We picked the trailer up around two or three in the morning and we took the thing over to Lefty’s Garage and painted the trailer.  We only had two colors of paint, a sort of institutional green and a day-glo orange.  Duane had a few purple stickers, so we put them on there for a touch.  We painted stars and bars, and a big ol’ half-moon, then we got ready for the gig that night by drinkin’ a half-gallon of Black label and eatin’ fistfuls of pills.

‘We’re doing it just like Hank Sr. done it,’ Duane kept saying.  We partied from the Pair ‘O’ Dice lounge on out to Rocky’s and back–then we was eating more pills and drinking more whiskey.  Duane was in a jovial mood and I wasn’t feelin’ no pain as we loaded the guitars and amps.  The only thing we were worried about was some oily holding knuckle drill on us that night.

So with the evening star twinkling in the western sky, and the little metro tying every bundle, me and ol’ Duane set out to make our name in the country music business.

We were laughin’ and drinkin’ and just having a big ol’ time when up ahead you could see these flashing blue lights.  ‘Insurance check’ Duane says ‘let me do the talking’ and I readily agreed as we pulled up to a stop opposite the state troopers.

“Hey officer, my names Duane and this ol’ outlaw’s my sideman, and yeah, we got insurance papers on this trailer but we just borrowed it from my brother-in-law.  We got us a country music show.”

It didn’t impresss the highway cop one bit.

One trooper walked to the back and pretty soon he came back and whispered something to the cop that was talking to us.

No kiddin?  I heard one say.  Then he said, “better unload boys, we got something we need to talk about.”

They arrested  us and took us to the Gray County Jail where we pled the grand larceny charge down until we didn’t have to serve but ninety days.”  Old Rufus was the high sheriff then so he’d let us wash the county cars and keep the courthouse grounds lookin’ neat.  So the ninety days passed pretty fast.  Saturday nights he’d let us take the guitars out of the evidence room and pick for the prisoners and we kept in practice that way too.

“But I’ll tell you this, Shoe”, he said standing up and dusting off his pants before heading back to where his dogs and parrots slept in the shadows.

“If you ever steal a U-Haul trailer, make sure that somebody paints the back of the damn thing.”

Written by Bob Briggs
August 24, 1996

In Memory of My Dad #38—-Random Thoughts of Bob

It is 3:00 a.m. here in Stonebroke Acres.  I sit at a small table, my trusty Smith-Corona paused on ready, a steaming cup of java waits for my first sip as my weekly stint at observing the world around me takes shape once more.

It is a good time, for quiet has descended.  The night feeding animals have stopped their everlasting search for food, and the night birds have warbled their last refrain and my light is the only one in the neighborhood.

I have the same old shaggy feeling on awakening, a kind of inner warning says that if I don’t sit quietly for a few minutes then I’ll fall down.  There’s a flicker of indecision as there seems to be nothing so important as to rouse me at this hour, yet for some reason, a compulsion pries me from the comfort of my crib and a second cup of hot coffee prepares me for the day ahead.


The highway that fronts Sequoyah High School is finally nearing completion.  While you are motoring along, especially on highway 82 or scenic highway 10, death is just a few feet to your left.

The thought has occurred to me many times while driving out to the lake or up to Kanesland.  I have often been conscious of what could transpire if the approaching car should swerve over the center line just a little bit.  It is not a pleasant thought I assure you, but one that creeps into the thinking of us that traverse the highways frequently. 

Motoring can of course be pleasant and reasonably safe, but the driver of an automobile should at all times have in mind the tremendous responsibility of his own safety and the safety of others.  Drive defensively.  It isn’t a pleasant thought but one well worth keeping in mind—-while you’re motoring along, death is just a few feet away.


My dog Gus was not a hunting dog, nor had he won any ribbons for show jumping or any of that other such nonsense that we hear so much about on TV.

Gus was a great brush hog of a dog, he was part Blue Heeler and the other part alligator.  He lived in the back of my pickup for about 14 years, and woe be on the person who put his hands into the back of my truck while Gus was keeping watch.

Though he wasn’t a hunter, he was a pretty good fishing partner.  He would lie there in the sun on some flat rocks while I played whatever game it was that I would play with the fish there in Lake McClelland.  Every now and then he would raise his shaggy head, and the stump that served as his tail would thump the ground a couple of times, then he would return to his siesta.

One day I missed him while at the lake.  I whistled and called for him several minutes and then got a good bite and forgot all about him.  After a while, Gus sashayed on down to the edge of the lake, with that particular dog grin on his face.  In Gus’ mouth was about a two-pound channel cat, alive and all wriggly.  You didn’t want to fish much with Gus, he’d show you up.

I cried the day Gus died, my wife cried too. 
Gus was a gentleman’s dog.


Why is it that the line you are in at the supermarket or bank is always the slowest?  The thing that makes it all the more trying is that no matter which line you choose, it is always the slowest one.

You enter the main banking room in any major banking institution in town. hopeful that you can walk right up to a teller and transact your business, receive your small pittance and be back on the street momentarily.

So, you eyeball the lines that you may join.  Off to your left is a very long line, moving at a snail’s pace, while off to the right there are two or three people with a sharp, efficient teller dealing money like playing cards and all but pushing people out the door.

“Aha,” you say.  “I’ll hook up with this short line and be out of here in a jiffy.  I wish I’d left my motor running and the AC on.”

But in reality, you are four spaces from the teller.  Naturally, that leaves three people in front of you.  You wave to an old friend who is 9th in line on the left.

It’s almost your turn.  The person in front pulls out a paper sack.  The teller picks up the phone and hold a lengthy conversation with someone in the back.  The conversation is over, the person in front of you produces more documents for the teller.  The teller then leaves to confer with the powers that be in the banking room

“Kinda stuck in line there, ain’t cha?”  It’s your old friend who used to be ninth in the other line.

You become desperate.  You hop into another line, a faster line.  It then slows down.  Now the other line moves faster.  You wished you’d stayed there but you’re too embarrassed to return.

Finally rescued, spying an empty teller’s cage, you transact your business.  You look at your watch.  A minute has passed.


No matter what you may have heard in the past, there is no such thing as a friendly game of cards.  Truer words were never spoken than, “Where gambling begins, friendship ends.”

People with first hand knowledge of such things know that the kindly, considerate man becomes an insensitive machine when you place those pasteboards in his hands.  His face tells you nothing, and his eyes become as hard as stone.  His entire demeanor changes and you no longer know him.

Devotees of a game known as penny-ante poker have known people who were fast and true friends to leave a card table never to speak to each other again after a night of friendly poker playing.  They say that the size of the wager doesn’t mean anything, but the competitive urge to win over your fellow-man is there whether you are playing dime limit or table stakes.

So the more you look into a friendly game of cards, the more convinced you become that there is no such animal and anyone that thinks he is getting into a friendly game should have his head examined.  There’s an old saying, “Winners talk and losers yell, deal the *&@# cards.”

Written by Bob Briggs on July 27, 1996