It is very important to note that
Jerry had 18 merit badges and I had 24.

I am sure that Jerry and I had images of "Saving the World" floating around in our heads when this photo was taken. It was when we received our Eagle Scout award. There is a piece of paper attached to the photo that says "get Jerry" which is a reminder that when I look at this photo I need to remember the worst whipping with the infamous K.O.ESPING belt that I ever got. Jerry was the only reason I got caught. Jerry lived one block west of the house we had on Main Street. He was two or three years younger than I was. We were in scouts together, which meant that we spent a lot of time together working on merit badges and on hiking or camping trips.

The Boy Scout cabin was big, made of stone and had a fireplace with one stone from each of the 48 states in the United States. I do not know any history of the Boy Scouts in Council Grove, but we had pup tents, cooking equipment, fold up shovels, just about everything that a good scout troop needed. We met on Mondays and there were always about twenty boys that showed up. We had voted to make the official uniform of our troop, a hat and neckerchief. Dues were ten cents a month and we had work days where we shoveled snow or mowed lawns so that some of the guys without any monetary help could be part of the troop. All they had to do was show up and work. We had a lot of men in town who helped with the troop. Several of us went to Camp Brown near Abilene for summer camp. I am not real sure, but I think it cost $15.00 for ten days. It was quite a treat to be taught how to manuever a canoe in the middle of Kansas. Our big dream was to go to the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico. We shoveled a lot of walks and mowed a lot of grass to save money for that dream. Twelve of us got to go with the Pastor of the Christian Church as our leader. He bought new boots and got blisters and then the second day he got blisters on top of the blisters and couldn't walk any more so they sent in a jeep to carry him out. The present day owner of the Republican News Paper was 18 years old at the time and so he became our official leader. We spent the next two weeks walking around, sometimes where we were not susposed to be. But nothing bad happened, we saw a mountain lion within ten feet of us, climbed the highest mountain in New Mexico, and learned to watch out and help each other. We didn't go to the Girl Scout camp which was on one side of Philmont.

This is the belt. When I got to high school I learned that it was just like the balance of power in the world. The unspoken threat of its function was enough to keep peace between my sisters and I. The first couple of applications created a sensation rememberance that would instantly spring into the fore front of the mind, when ever contemplating new exciting adventures. Several times its power waned until I was half way through a new, most possibly, punishable adventure. All of the sudden my guardian angel would flit passed and I would feel the air move in the buttocks region. I could feel the balance of power begin to desend toward my buttocks. Many times it would stop my new adventure, it would halt in mid air.
It took me a little while to gain the knowledge that my father really didn't correct behavior with the belt. He would always talk to us first and give us a chance to lie to him and then we would get a maximum application of the bringing of sensation to the buttocks. It was the lying that brought about the whipping. It was the lying to my father, that caused a flexing of muscle and the squeek of the door being pulled open where the belt hung. The psychological manuever of snapping it through the air as he walked to where we sat awaiting the penalty, evoked cold terror.
One time I didn't start crying before the punishment started. I just kept saying over and over. I'm gonna get Jerry, I'm gonna get Jerry, I'm gonna get Jerry. This time I had lied when the person involved called on the phone. I lied to my father when asked what happened and did I know anything about it. I lied a third time when the person called back and my father asked -while still talking on the phone if I knew anything about the situation. I lied to my father again, when Jerry's father called, and said that Jerry told him that I did the whole deal by myself.

My wife laughed when she first read Prof KO Esping in reverse on my butt. I'm still gonna get Jerry.



Flagstaff was a place that I usually drove through as fast as possible in the middle of the night on my way to somewhere east of there or west of there. It was not necessary to stop there for gas as I always used the cheap gas stations that where conviently located two hundred miles apart across the Great American Desert.
One year Mardel went to the Indian Reservation to teach, and after finishing my work with Flynn Plumbing, I moved out there to get a job. Other than a couple of days pumping gas at the Ft.Wingate Trading Post for Merrill, I found nothing, so having some G.I.Bill time left I enrolled in school at Northern Arizona University. It was a couple hundred miles from Gallup to Flagstaff and my old red truck ran 80mph just fine. The big reason for "going to school" was that there were glass kilns at NAU and I had aready used a semester of G.I. Bill to take glass blowing from Vern Brejcha at Tusculum College in Greenville Tennessee. This would give me another year of blowing glass compliments of Uncle Sam.

I took the graduate records exams the middle of the semester. I did well, so they let me into the graduate program working on a Masters in Art Education. The graduate dorm had 24 hr quiet regulations and I had a list of books that I wanted to see on glass formulas so I was set. I lived in the dorm for four days and then drove to Gallup Thursday night for the weekend.

The Art Shoppe was owned by George and Elaine. George made some great ceramic dragons that were actually incense burners. He slept on the floor in the back of the gallery. Elaine was teaching in the White Mt. somewhere near "This ain't No Magic Mountain, this is the Pinetop Buffet". I sold a couple of pieces of the blown glass that I made at NAU in George's shop. I bought a real nice piece of bone that was inlaid with pipestone and a little turquoise. It was made by aNative American whose sole tools were a knife, a couple of drill bits (no drill), some emery cloth and a small chisel like tool. Mostly The Leroux Street Art Shoppe was a place to talk to someone who had done some interesting things, like taking ten mentally challenged Navajo girls to the movies. I asked George how he and Elaine could take care of ten girls with mental disabilities. He said he just lite a joint and made sure that no one wandered off. He said that there were a few other movie watchers who moved to another part of the movie house.George and Elaine had been house parents for awhile. Today they live in Elaine's grandmothers house somewhere in red neck Texas. George does the most fabulous Christmas cards.


Across the street from the Hotel Weatherford in Flagstaff

Dragons, Pipestone Carvings,

Paintings, and Sanity


I finally got caught by the Armed Forces of America on December 14th 1965. I had just gotten married the year before. We took all of the money we saved living with my parents and bought a three bedroom house. It was just what I wanted. It had a private patio and a side yard big enough to park a 55 foot boat . "Doyle, the good" and I had planned on buying a beat up sailing ship and re doing it for a round the world cruise. It never happened. I got drafted, Doyle got killed and the dream faded into the mist it was made of.
My new wife and I started fixing up the house. We painted at least three coats of white paint in the living room alone. It was orginally painted in black with dark curtains and some red fuzzy furniture which left nothing to the imagination as to what the house was really used for by its previous owner. She took the curtains and furniture with her, but she left the black walls. We painted, and added some plants in the yard. We didn't have any kitchen stove or refrigerator. Ate a lot of Der Wienersnitzel's and some food cooked in the electric frying pan and the pop corn popper we got for wedding gifts. My "Greetings" letter came and a new adventure started to unfold without any of my doing. I had been a little slow signing up for the draft, waiting for a couple of years. Most Downey boys spent $152.50 to fly to Hawaii and join the national guard there, so that they would not have to go into the Army. Eventually the Downey draft board was closed to "investigate" some discrepencies. I had stayed out of the draft for a year on the Low Morals designation because I had too many traffic tickets. Doyle had a letter from a "shrink" he worked for and Jocko had hurt his back on the diving board which kept him going to a doctor (at least when ever he got a letter with any change in his availability). So I was grabbbed and sent first to Ft. Bliss and then Ft. Sam Houston. The Army kept Geronimo prisoner there for a while. The progenity of the deer that were kept to feed him still are on the grounds.. they didn't offer me any venison.



Cutler, Baue, Gunter, and Sgt. E. playing pool on 4th floor.




I met some of the best people that I have ever been around while at Ft. Sam Houston. I lived a block off of the base with my wife in a mansion on the third floor. The forth floor had a billard table for the residents to use.
When I finished basic training I went immediately to my advanced training, which was "How to be a Medic" When I finished that I went immediately to teaching Medical Techiniques. No Leave just straight time. When I became a short timer, my wife went back to Los Angeles and I moved into the Magic Theatre, where I met some of the smartest people I have ever been around.


As was painted on the wall
"This is not a dress rehearsal"

There were parties every weekend. Rachels Children, an urban commune, members of the Banditos MCC, the infamous Moreheads, the not so "Pleasant" Mcneal, even one of the Creedance Clearwater Revival Band stayed for three days. There was a paper mache pumpkin painted orange that was six feet tall that hung as the front light on the porch. Several guys who decided to leave the Army for Canada dropped by their last night in uniform. A guy named Snacky who played soccer and practiced classical guitar lived there. This is where I met Bob Johnson, Peter Norton and heard the best blues harimonica player I ever heard. We had cockroach killing contests. Included in the rent was phone access, a newspaper, and fresh fruit -grapefruit, oranges, peaches and water melon depending what the Mexicans brought across the border for sale.


It seems I made a little over $400 dollars working for Sam's Sign Service in 1960. Sam was a Good guy with a capital G. He wanted to be a cartoonist. I seem to remember that he went to the Kansas City Art Institute. He was one of the first of several sign painters that I have met. Kent Ipsen the glass blower had been a sign painter. He told me that Luis Jeminez was a sign painter. Elvis Gibson is still a sign painter. I think it is one of those professions where the government has still not been able to move in on it. Free spirits and real individualists. Sam taught me about silk screening. How to set silk on a three by five foot frame and get it taunt enough to bounce a quarter right back up into your hand! How to cut stencils --paper stencils. We did three by five foot banners for the All American Markets in Los Angeles. He started me at 75 cents an hour in 1959. Fridays when the work was done he would mix us some vodka and grapefruit juice. "Vodka for the brain and grapefruit juice for the body " He was a stone cold, way right of center, right wing conservative. First rule and last rule was to pull your own weight. He painted banners with tempra and a four inch brush. He could literally walk from one end of the 10 foot desk to the other painting letters as he walked. Sam used a guy named Dan Bloman, as an outside man. Dan had a formula that you mixed in quart jars and threw up against brick buldings where you had painted a sign and they didn't want to pay. It not only ate the painted sign off the brick, but it made it impossible to repaint without power hosing the whole wall. It worked good on a wall on Downey Avenue. Sam would do a half day on Saturday and then go to the races to lose $20.00. That and the Friday Vodka were his pleasures other than taking care of a rather large family.

The green card and the red square button were the entrance identification for the Vicenzaoro Show in Vincenza Italy. Oro means gold in Italian. It was the most unbelievable thing I have ever attended. They had guys with machine guns working as guards at the show. I was working for Helen when I attended. We were to buy jewelery. Met a guy with my attitude towards the customs officials --he fixed me with three different receipts, one for each of the borders I had to carry my purchase through. He was from Trieste. Tried to buy my wife a pair of earrings for $250.00 which we later saw in a retail shop in St. Marks square in Venice at a price of $2400.00.

 The show is still held twice a year in a huge bulding where several silver or gold smiths will go together and hire one person to show the styles that they will have available for the year. There are thousands of jewlers represented in each show. A lot of the smiths are from small towns where the family has been in the jewelery business for several generations.

Needless to say if you aspire to be a grasshopper rather than an ant you will get to do a lot of different things and usually for beginning wages as you are always beginning. Usually it is a strong back and a kinky brain that are needed. I think I got 50 cents an hour to load stone on a hay wagon for the McPherson County Old Mill. When I complained I was told to just write down twice as many hours. Now for some reason that seemed immoral to me. I would con you, hustle you, sell you something you did not need for an incrediblely high price but the application of that K.O. ESPING belt to my backside just did not let me lie about how long I worked or how many days. Some guys on that job were working at least ten days every week.
The receipt in back of this picture for the $45 dollars was for escorting a young lady to a high school prom. Two years later I visited her in her home country and her brother had to accompany us as a chaperone as she was not allowed to be seen walking with a male in her village. I took her to a night club on the Sunset Strip to see Ella Fitzgerald, to a real nice supper club in Hollywood and finally to the Prom at one of the hotels in L.A.
The yellow card is from the hustle I enjoyed the most. It was hitting the streets in Downey before the trash man and picking up stuff that I could take to the Swap Meet at the Paramount Theatre. A backyard grill that took a quick coat of paint and turned into "my recently dead uncle's who didn't need it any more so give me ten and it's yours" A pile of twenty mother yucca branches that spent a week in a mound of potting soil so they started roots and went for $3.00 each. Hundreds and hundreds of handfulls of plastic flowers that sold for fifty cents a handfull. Chest of drawers, kids toys, and just about anything and everything else if you hit a house where they had recently moved. Too many people in 1960 had too much money and had NO concept of conserving anything. That's O.K. I found a home for the cast off stuff and made some nice tax free cash in the mean time.

After working at Ford Motor Company for a couple of summers I tried working at Purex, primarily because my next door neighbor was the general manager. I wonder what happened to Jim. His family went several different ways. College taught me the word disfunctional.
Everyone worked general labor doing something different every day when you first started at Purex. One of the original guys who helped mix, bottle and sell Purex and now owned a lot of the stock was still driving a fork lift when I started there. I signed to try out for the position of Processing Labor One. It paid a nickel more per hour than general labor pool. Processing was on eight straight hours so I worked for Sam from 9:00AM until 2:30P.M. and then crusied over to Bellflower to start the Swing shift at Purex at 4:00PM out by 12:00PM and in the wind with DeeAnna on the back of my bike by 1:00AM. A greaaaat life for a few months. The Processing Department had this little ceremony when you passed your break in period, where they took your pants down and painted your cahones with the blue dye that was used to tint the soap. It took a month to wear off. Nothing would take off the dye I tried several things and nothing worked. It took them one whole night and several people from other departments to run me down and hold me and then they got dye on their arms and clothes. Jim came over the next day laughing as production had dropped to near zero and since he had also been a processing person he knew what had happened. Guadulupe Rivas was the batch man, he had a young child that was a genius and Lupe had been born in a hogan on the Mexican border. He was near illiterate. Bob Linderman had fought on the European invasion beachs AND in Burma during World War II. Tex Irwins was an old time rodeo man. Bob Price ran lawn routes during the day and studied to be a real estate salesman . Bob Cousert was in charge and ruled with a smile and a toss of the hand.

I shoveled soap and was constantly a mass of bubbles from the sweat and the soap dust. The active in the soap ate into every wrinkle. I wore Vaseline on my neck, wrists and arms and taped my shirt and pant cuffs to try to keep the soap out. At night when I would shower the pain was incredible --but I was making a nickel more per hour. DeeAnn got used to the vaseline smell.

It seems like when I go back and look at this stuff that a lot of my time and interest was taken up by Hot cars and Cold women. The car thing seems now to have been almost an obsession. Every one belonged to a car club and every car club had dances to make money so that they could go to the mountains at Easter time. There should have been a couple of cards in this bunch advertising the Gear Gamblers dances. Maybe they didn't have to advertise. The Highway Hobos also had big parties and I do not find thing with their names on it. My old partner R.T. and I were the only two males who could go to any and all of the club dances or parties. It was fun to watch other guys faces when we would say that we had been to Hobos party before driving across town to the football team party. We also knew how to get away from parties when they got busted. We're probably the only residents of Downey that never went to jail from a party. One party furnished me with several quarts of Rum. I gave a bottle to my father for Christmas --it didn't have tax stamps on it which meant that it had come into the country illegaly. It came fom the "private" stash of one of Doweys leading citizens.
When I staarted hanging out in Long Beach it was because of a guy I met at Ford Motor Company. Very crazy guy. One time we went by to see "his" girlfriend and there was a car he recognized as one of his competitors. Gif stopped popped his trunk pulled out a gas can poured gas all over the car and threw the can into the car. Struck a match and lit the chevy on fire. We were about two houses away when the can blew up and the sirens started. We drove fifteen miles an hour passed the incoming Police cars. Gif said "I told him"
We'd take a car to Tijuana to get it tuck and rolled. I usually took a couple of bike seats along that were thrown in for nothing. It took almost all night but they did a fabulous job for not much money. Keeping Gif toned down so as not to visit the infamous Tijuana Jail was a real job. The last time I went along, he had gone upstairs to visit a painted lady and came running down the stairs with two real big Mexican ass kickers on his heels. He wheeled around on the stairs and hit the one so hard that it scared the other one and we got to the car and back across the border before one of their friends could get some local police help. Which when thinking back it seems that the car thing was the place that things always started so that I ended up with new set of problems every couple of months.


One of the big places for problems was the Police Department. They got tired of seeing the same faces cruising through the town every night of the week. The guys I hung with usually were clean. So when we were stopped and put up against the wall, all we had to do was keep our mouths shut and smile and we would be soon be on the way. Everyone knew that if there was some confrontation with the Police and the car had a club plaque in the window that the plaque needed to disapear for a week or so. If asked you just said that you had been kicked out of the club. First there was the Channels, a rather strange assortment from every social group at DSHS. Then it was the LADDS. One of our LADDS stole a helment off the seat of a cops bike. Another guy not in the club saw one of the cycle cops running the gutter and turned right hitting the guy, aand his mouth put the blame on the LADDS Needless to say there were NO LADDS plaques for quite a while. My traffic tickets were always for five or ten dollar fines but I got three hundred and fourty dollars worth in two years. Believe it or not but that put me in the moral wavers section of those available for the draft. It kept me out for six months. You should of seen the other guys in the moral waviers room.  


Sven and Me was an art gallery that Mardel and I started after returning from Asia and Europe. I had become enamored of Sven Hedin the infamous Swedish Explorer who turned into a right of right wing Conservative. We asked Ruth Elliot to paint us a sign with a silhouette of Carl Milles' bronze statue of Sven Hedin, sitting on a camels back shooting the stars to see where he was. I asked her to change the big dipper so that it appeared that Sven Hedin was in the southern hemisphere. A week after it was put up, one of our neighbors had told everyone that it was a famous satanic symbol.
We had a party before every opening. Three of the exhibitions we hung were reviewed by the New Art Examiner published in Chicago. No other private Art Gallery in Kansas had such a record. After three years of rumors and hateful neighbors I placed the classified ad seen below in the paper and it went over so good, we got enough money together to move out of Little Sweden U.S.A.

 We hand addressed, licked stamps and mailed two hundred of these calendar brochures before each months opening.
We started in October so that eight hundred people had our list of exhibitions before the first opening which was for the Wood Show
We used the Wood Show as research which eventually turned into the second National Endowment to the Arts Folk Art Grant.
We didn't have a phone so we used my mothers phone number and she would take messages. What a way to run a business.


Note on the back says Mark is learning how to be an Indian. I felt real proud to stand next to some real Indians. I bet they got tired of the inane questions and the grossness of the average tourist. What we did to the native americans with our tourism and treaties and then we would just let the FBI shoot up a reservation any time they felt like it.  

I get a lot of interesting mail, even though I pay a guy to keep me on "Do Not Contact" lists. Most of it comes from people I have met over the years who do not subscribe to any form of concenus reality. So when they find something strange it gets put in an envelope and sent to Uncle Markie. Occasionally I will get something which is really exciting. This was tucked in with a note from Richard Miller, the owner operator and inventor of Ye Olde Contemporary Pot Shoppee. Rich is a good guy, one who took more than his fair share of shit from the Lindsborgers.  At least when they were giving him some they were usually not working on me. I was pleasured by the photo and poem.

The photo is of a red bud tree where the blossoms have popped out through the bark.


Wine shelled pear bloom snails

cluster on a leafless

bark lined highway,

Accelerating slowly skyward

seeking season's



April purple urchins

distanced from the sea,

clinging to a desert pier.

Evaporate in Kansas winds

and decorate the sand

with shrivelled floral


" Spring 1995"