Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tango, 1954

 I first showed this in 2010, so it's been long enough I can recycle it. Here is my original post, with a few minor edits:

I've been looking at this photo for a couple of years now. I got it from some online site, but it's been too long and I don't remember where.

Miss Mascot. Mr. Johnson. Tango. 11-8-54.

The photo conjures up a story to me. It looks like it was taken in a high school gym for a school dance. Miss Mascot looks young, about 25. I see her as a second year English teacher. Mr. Johnson is older, about 40, blond or prematurely gray.

Hes a high school science teacher. He was almost finished with college when World War II started, so he enlisted, served in the Army Air Corps where he was an officer, part of the crew of a B-17 bomber.

He came home in 1945, got his degree and did his post-graduate work under the G.I. Bill. He got married to the girl he left behind when he went to war. They have two children, boys, age 8 and 6. Mrs. Johnson isn’t aware he’s doing the tango with Miss Mascot, because he doesn’t want her to know. She thinks he’s chaperoning the dance, but he and Miss Mascot have been seeing each other for a couple of months, and tonight is the night they’re going to consummate their affair. He has a room at the Bide A Wee Motel out on the highway. He and Miss Mascot will slip out of the dance early and go to the room for a couple of stolen hours.

Miss Mascot has had a couple of lovers already. Guys have been after her since she was in junior high school, but she’s only given herself to two, the president of the senior class in high school, and her college boyfriend. She was sure she’d marry him, but then the Korean War came along and he was drafted. He is back to civilian life now, but he is getting his master’s degree at a college a thousand miles away, and they haven’t spoken in over a year. She had been a bit bothered by it, wondering how they drifted apart. Then she met Mr. Johnson, who approached her in the faculty room on her first day and told her, “If you need any help or advice, just come to me. I've been in this place long enough I can probably answer any questions.” She was immediately taken by his deep voice, his smile, his blue eyes and wavy hair.

Mr. Johnson is a cad, though. He hasn't come right out and said it, but he’s hinted that his marriage is in trouble. In truth, his marriage isn’t in trouble, but it will be if his affair is found out. He’ll be in a lot of trouble at work, too. He knows these things, and they worry him. To the world he projects the image of a married father of two, living in the suburbs, mowing his lawn on Saturday, taking his family to church on Sunday. Little does the world know how much inner turmoil he’s been in since meeting Miss Mascot, wanting her more than he’s ever wanted another woman. He’s pushed the guilt and internal danger warnings aside. Just let me have this one night with her, he thinks. Then I’ll go back to my wife like nothing ever happened.

Miss Mascot, though, has other ideas. She’ll sleep with him. Lord knows she's been thinking of his hands caressing her, his lips kissing her all over her naked body, and she’s told herself, he loves me. When we make love he’ll know that he can’t go back to his wife. He’ll get a divorce. We’ll be together.

That night they dance the tango, a dance they have practiced during their free periods for the past two weeks. Her slim fingers are in his hands, and he thinks of her beneath him on a bed. At that moment, frozen in time by a student yearbook photographer, she thinks of him, a house in the suburbs, her future children with him.

Miss Mascot. Mr. Johnson. Tango.

On that November night in 1954 both of them are thinking, “Tonight’s the night.”

Down the river with Philip José Farmer and Tom Mix

In the 1970s I read a lot of science fiction, and Philip José Farmer was one of my favorite authors.

During that decade Farmer published 25 books, not to mention the stories published in science fiction magazines. He was prolific, and I felt that when he was at his best (the Riverworld series, or the World of Tiers books) no one could top him for his imagination.

But the Riverworld stories and books remain my favorite. I read “Riverworld,” the novelette that introduced the world to the series in a copy of the January, 1966 issue of Worlds of Tomorrow, which a friend gave me to read when it was new. I thought the story had a fascinating concept. It made me remember it when the first novel in the series, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, was published in 1972. I told my friends to read it, touting Farmer’s  talents with the same religious zeal as Mormon missionaries promoting their faith. (As with any missionary work, it was hit and miss as far as creating converts, but no one slammed the door in my face.)

First printing of the novel, with cover by Richard Powell.

“Riverworld” is about Tom Mix and his travels down the river that gives the world its name. In a nutshell, a catastrophe has ended life on Earth, and much later, every human who ever lived is resurrected on that gigantic planet. To Your Scattered Bodies Go has the British explorer, Sir Richard Francis Burton, as its protagonist. A hint of Burton’s future involvement in the book is given in a couple of paragraphs in the novelette.

Tom Mix, who was a man born in the 19th century, was a true 20th century man who made his fame from appearing in Western movies, most of them during the silent era. In 1940 he died in his fancy 1937 Cord when it overturned on an Arizona highway.

Mix was a cowboy born in Pennsylvania.

In an interesting turn of events, Mix “lived on” on after his death in a radio series, which was popular from the 1930s into the 1950s (Mix was never on the radio, because of his voice. He was portrayed by actors.) He was also star of a long-lived comic book published by Fawcett until 1953.

This is the story “Riverworld” in page scans I found on the Internet Archive from the issue of Worlds of Tomorrow.

Copyright © 1966 Galaxy Publishing Co.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Money for conscience, and the guilt is free

A few weeks ago I saw a newspaper article about a former school district coworker’s arrest. Tracy had been secretary-treasurer of the union I had belonged to, which was a volunteer job, and her paid job at the school district included being in charge of money collected for school building rentals.

According to the news article she had been embezzling from both money-handling assignments, and  between the two organizations had stolen over $100,000. The story saddened me — I liked Tracy — but if the article was correct, like her or not, Tracy was just another of the crooks I have worked with.

Tracy had hit on a scheme to take checks made out to the school district with no indication of purpose (no “for building rental” line, for instance) and deposited them into accounts she set up at a bank. The accounts were in the name of the union, and she would make withdrawals. She spent the money on things like her mortgage. Understandable, but still illegal.

She became just another person I worked with who had been caught stealing. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it did. After all, when someone gets away with embezzling for years they are doing something wrong, but they are doing that wrong right. They can be a very clever criminal, but getting caught is inevitable.

I first heard of a problem of employee theft in the school district shortly after getting my job in 1976. A man who worked for the carpenter department for 18 years was fired for using open school purchase orders to buy more job materials than was necessary, and re-selling the excess. That was followed by the story of a grounds department foreman with phantom employees. We had over 60 schools (now over 100) in the district at the time, so a lot of summer help is hired.  The foreman made up names and social security numbers (a lot easier in those pre-computer days) and created employees. When the paychecks would come in he would cash them. It was a scheme that worked until the day he got sick, and his assistant foreman was obliged to distribute the checks. Not recognizing the names, the assistant turned the checks for the phantoms back to the payroll office, and the shit, as they say, hit the fan. For a few stolen extra dollars every month the foreman lost his job, and with the job his state retirement and his medical benefits. The cost of stealing always seemed too high to me, not to mention the public humiliation of being branded a thief.

Large or small, stealing is stealing. I saw people get fired for what would be pocket change. Secretaries who handled cash for school lunches might dip into the till, and when the accounts didn’t balance could lose their jobs over nickels and dimes.

A few years later I was handling mail for the entire school district and was made aware of conscience money by opening mail addressed to the school district to ascertain where it needed to be routed. A typical unsigned note accompanying cash would be, “I worked as a teacher thirty years ago, and I took some school supplies home. I believe this will cover what I stole.” There might be a twenty dollar bill or two in the envelope, but really, I saw all amounts of cash, usually small. I never learned what happened to the money I turned over to the superintendent’s secretary, but she is the one who made me aware of that phenomenon of confessing one’s past sins by sending money.

But back to Tracy and the embezzlement that cost her a job of many years, and may well land her in jail. I thought the issue of handling money for building rentals or sporting events had been solved back in the 1930s. While a warehouseman for the school district in the seventies I helped take the files for a long dead district superintendent from an old office to the state archives. Out of curiosity I looked in his files and found a letter about a man who had done Tracy’s job in the mid-1930s. He had stolen money that had been collected for high school football games, and spent it (I remember he had “spent $5.00 for a hotel room in Chicago” as part of his embezzlement.) The letter I saw in the files was the superintendent telling the chief accountant for the district to write off the debt, because he knew the thief wasn’t going to pay back the $200 he stole. The superintendent said they needed to change the procedures for collecting the money, and increase the accountability by using two employees, one checking the other, in handling the funds. So why wasn’t that used for Tracy?

Tracy deserves to be punished, but her story enforces my belief that some people need to be saved from themselves. Had the right procedures been in place she would not have been able to steal, and the temptation would not have led to her picture in the newspaper along with a story telling the world about her $100,000 embezzlement. She also would have kept her benefits, which to me are more important than money.

Monday, June 06, 2016

100 pictures of pin-up cuties with their legs in the air

Years ago I noticed how many pin-up poses are repeated over and over. No big mystery...there are only so many poses available for the human body. What is fun is that of these 100 pictures, except for a couple of Bettie Page scattered here and there, all of the girls and all of their costumes are different. I collected these from a variety of Internet sources.

Hooray for gorgeous chicks with their legs — often wearing high heels — reaching toward the ceiling!