Category Archives: Memoirs

Hey, Wait for Me.

Lee in Paradise
Hey, Wait for Me.
By Lee Broom

Originally Posted In ninetydaywonder.wordpress.com
August 14 2013

In the seventies all was good. My children began to marry. Business was great. The first grandchild appeared. And then another and another. My wife had disappeared with the family wealth but by doing so had given me an opportunity to experience freedom for the first time in my adult life. Becoming a purposefully sober person, also for the first time in my adult life, made it possible to experience this freedom in a way I would never have guessed was possible.

In the eighties I remarried and lost the freedom, lost the business, retired for a year, had a few drinks to feel better, discovered the futility of such a silly choice and returned to sober living. Got a job for a year. Self confidence returned and I began to rebuild my business. During this decade Asian economies boomed, some western economies faltered and the world began to change.

The nineties began with optimism, previously primitive Asian markets grew, enabling countries like South Korea to become first world powers. In North Korea Kim Jong Il, succeeded his father Kim Il Sung, US markets faltered, my own business soared through the first half of this decade and practically fell apart in 1995. I shut down my stores, moved my business from uppity North Scottsdale into low rent quarters in Phoenix, got an evening job and started over.

The new decade began with a stunned Lee Broom working two jobs, running a business and completely oblivious to the problems that the new decade brought to an optimistic America. I lived in an old office, 250 square feet, and questioned nothing. I stayed sober and prayed often.

By the end of this decade I had worked myself out of a short-lived period of poverty, rebuilt my business on credit cards and rediscovered my grandchildren. And their children. The first week of the new Presidential Administration marked the end of Lee Broom Gallery and Design, at least for a few months. I moved from a 2000 foot apartment into smaller but nicer quarters and began to learn new ways to market my wares and my skills.

There is a story woven thorough all this. It is the story of the citizens of the United States of America. In America there are people who will never have anything. This is primarily because they believe this is so. And they may be right. We must care for them and wherever possible help them to move into group two. And there are those who never give up and learn from their mistakes and move on. They do this because this is their reality. These are the people who keep the wheel turning. When a company downsizes those who are released from their careers decide which of these two groups they want to choose as their new reality. Some help reroute success, others know only their loss. During these times of difficulty I have belonged to both groups. There are no dollar signs on the measuring stick that I use to measure success. I have managed to stay in the Successful group more often than not because of another asset that I have not mentioned until now. I tithe. I don’t mean financially because I am not much of a Churchy kind of guy. But as a sober person for more than thirty-five years I have had another occupation which takes up a minimum of ten percent of my time; I make myself useful in the community by helping others. I’ve helped drunks get sober, hungry families get fed, taught oldsters how to use a computer, built a children’s theater, read to the blind and driven old ladies to Church and returned to pick them up when the service is over. Sometimes I even stayed for the service and sang when told to do so.

These activities keep me grateful. And I socialize with others who do the same. Within this group of people I call my friends, are those who are suffering and those who are not. I see people who once ran large corporations presently mowing lawns and cleaning kitchens.

I am 72. I am writing several books at a time and intend to publish this year before my eyes give out. I am learning how to take a business which first relied on retail stores, then upon sales calls and eventually on emails, greeting this new century by learning how to do all of the above and tie it all together with the internet, with social networking, a part-time job and a sense of gratitude to a Higher Power I call Love. I could never have comprehended such joy when I was twenty and driving my long, long convertible with a bottle of whiskey in my left hand, the steering wheel in my right and a very bad attitude. The bad attitude returns occasionally. But not for long.

I love my life and I love living it.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FRANK AND NAKO

Lee in Paradise

At the peak of my ten-K days I had two jogging buddies who accompanied me on evening runs though usually I ran alone at dawn. Those early runs were five to ten miles long, depending on my schedule. I didn’t want to place that kind of burden on my small companions.

These pals of mine were Frank and Nako.

Frank, a black toy poodle who never had to worry about getting a sissy-cut, was named after St Francis of Assisi. He was stoically silent when I rescued him from the pound and completely unaware of my presence. This curly-headed little critter seemed to be much more interested in the huge, dark, big-dog stool near the back of his cell. It had apparently been contributed by a previous tenant. I was informed by the doggie warden that when this little guy was first discovered running the streets of Phoenix, he was wearing a mute collar. He was arrested and interred and sentenced to death in a gas chamber unless someone adopted him before his ninety day appointment with the county canine killer arrived.  

“If you don’t mind” I implored, “would you bring him around and introduce us, please?”

Instant friends, I took Frank home to present as a birthday present to Terri. When introduced to Terri and Nako the family kitty Nako was ready for war. Terri picked her up and held her in her left atm, and at her request I placed Francis in her right arm. The hissing continued. Terri wasn’t at all impressed and established a routine of taking the mismatched family members for a walk each evening, one in each arm until the hissing stopped; eventually Frank and Nako became inseparable.

One evening as Frank and Terri and I started across a busy intersection we heard a strange cat sound from about a hundred feet to our rear.  Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow. It was Nako (Japanese for cat). Nako was Terri’s pet. Offensively independent, this strange animal and I were becoming very attached to each other.  The three of us turned to investigate. Each long meow which sounded more like a howl was interrupted every time one of Nako’s paws hit the pavement. Meow ow ow ow.

She was apparently stating her refusal to be left behind and demanding to be part of the team. Very assertive, this kitty; she never experienced the tethered restraint but she would soon demonstrate that she knew exactly what to do.  We waited for her to join us.

A year or so later we sold our Phoenix home and moved to Scottsdale. On our first evening in our new environment, Terri and I left Frank and Nako locked in the back yard after having jogged next to us daily for more than two years. This was our first evening in our new home and Terry had resumed our evening habit. Being in a strange neighborhood and respectful of the new pet control rules contained in the CC & R’s we decided to go it alone this first evening. Five minutes from home we heard this heart-rending doggie howl that just had to be Frank. We ran back home and opened the gate and in one and three-quarter seconds I had a wiggly armful of doggie as Frank leaped through the air like a refugee from an acrobatic dog act with a weekend Gypsy Circus. Nako greeted Terri by rubbing against her legs, purring like a buzz saw and we all enjoyed a brief reunion. Frank was no longer mute. His voiced approval and disapproval of every family event took some getting used to.

A year later Nako and Frank and I were jogging on the Scottsdale Country Club golf course, late at night; Terri who was no longer part of the team and homesick for a previous way of life had returned to familiar climes.

As we ran, geysers suddenly erupted and Nako was blasted by the full force of a stream of water meant to arc over a twenty-foot span. Nako was only a foot from the sprinkler head when it struck and was knocked five feet through the air. She hit the ground running and disappeared, never to return. Or so I thought.

Some months later I was entertaining former  team-member Terri, who was asking me about our Big City Kitty. As I was telling her the story we heard a familiar sound.

Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow. Nako looked as though she hadn’t eaten in a month. Our returning family member went to the three of us individually, purring like a buzz saw. For a minute or so as Teri and I smiled at the two pets began to communicate with their noses and poses and purring and soft little doggie barks.

I miss them. I really do. I live in a condo; . I jog on a treadmill. Maybe someday, I’ll buy an iguana.

 

Git Along Little Dogie

lee_broom

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”

~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

 

Learning from past experiences is okay.

Knowing that we made a mistake however is probably enough.

Knowing what we did wrong serves no purpose but to invite self-criticism.

And, beating ourselves for past mistakes only affirms and insures their recurrence.

Better to learn more productive ways of dealing with our problems and to move on.

 

 

When I was six years old I attempted the acrobatic feat of standing on my hands atop the swings in our back yard. I must have been about three feet tall compared to the swings which were probably three times my height.

I fell and hurt myself.

It was the weekend; Father was working in the kitchen and Mother had gone to the store.

I felt myself being cradled in my father’s arm and answered his questions about my physical well-being.

Eventually he asked me what I had learned. I replied that I needed to start with something lower to the ground and then work my way up to something higher. Father smiled and helped me to my feet. “Git along little dogie” he said in that Texas drawl of his, “Git along.”

 Lee Broom

The Importance of Frank and Nako.

 Lee in Paradise

 

      THE IMPORTANCE OF
FRANK and NAKO.

At the peak of my ten-K days I had two jogging buddies who accompanied me on evening runs. In earlier days I ran alone at dawn, usually five to ten miles, depending on my schedule. I lightened the load when I acquired these small companions.

These pals of mine were Frank and Nako.

Frank, a black toy poodle who never had to worry about getting a sissy-cut, was named after St Francis of Assisi. He was stoically silent when I rescued him from the pound and completely unaware of my presence. This curly-headed little critter seemed to be much more interested in the huge, dark, big-dog stool near the back of his cell. It had apparently been contributed by a previous tenant. I was informed by the doggie warden that when this little guy was first discovered running the streets of Phoenix, he was wearing a mute collar. He was arrested and interred and sentenced to death in a gas chamber unless someone adopted him before his ninety day appointment with the county canine killer arrived.

“If you don’t mind” I implored, “would you bring him around and introduce us, please?”

Instant friends, I took Frank home to present as a birthday present to Terri. But Frank eventually became my jog dog as Terri’s enthusiasm for the evening ritual began to wane. I kept my pal on a leash at first, until he knew the way. As his behavior became more predictable I released the tether allowing him to run leashless, gradually increasing his free time.

One evening as Frank and Terri and I started across a busy intersection we heard a strange cat sound from about a hundred feet to our rear.  Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow. It was Nako (Japanese for cat). Nako was Terri’s pet. Offensively independent, this strange animal and I were becoming very attached to each other.  The three of us turned to investigate. Each long meow which sounded more like a howl was interrupted every time one of Nako’s paws hit the pavement. Meow ow ow ow.

She was apparently stating her refusal to be left behind and demanding to be part of the team. Very assertive, this kitty; she never experienced the tethered restraint but she would soon demonstrate that she knew exactly what to do.  We waited for her to join us.

A year or so later we sold our Phoenix home and moved to Scottsdale. On our first evening in our new environment, Terri and I left Frank and Nako locked in the back yard after having jogged next to us daily for more than two years. This was our first evening in our new home and Terry had resumed our evening habit. Being in a strange neighborhood and respectful of the new pet control rules contained in the CC & R’s we decided to go it alone this first evening. Five minutes from home we heard this heart-rending doggie howl that just had to be Frank. We ran back home and opened the gate and in one and three-quarter seconds I had a wiggly armful of doggie as Frank leaped through the air like a refugee from an acrobatic dog act with a weekend Gypsy Circus. Nako greeted Terri by rubbing against her legs, purring like a buzz saw and we all enjoyed a brief reunion. Frank was no longer mute. His voiced approval and disapproval of every family event took some getting used to.

A year later Nako and Frank and I were jogging on the Scottsdale Country Club golf course, late at night; Terri who was no longer part of the team and homesick for a previous way of life had returned to familiar climes.

As we ran geysers suddenly erupted and Nako was blasted by the full force of a stream of water meant to arc over a twenty-foot span. Nako was only a foot from the sprinkler head when it struck and was knocked five feet through the air. She hit the ground running and disappeared, never to return. Or so I thought.

Some months later I was entertaining former  team-member Terri, who was asking me about our Big City Kitty. As I was telling her the story we heard a familiar sound.

Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow.

I miss them. I really do. I jog on a treadmill. I live in a condo. Maybe an iguana.

 Thank you for visiting.
Trythese:

SUNSOUNDS OF ARIZONA

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SunSounds of Arizona is a reading service for the blind. I have had the good fortune to create two entertainment programs for SunSounds, the first of which was in the early years, called STUFF and SUCH  and eventually simply, STUFF.

As a volunteer reader of public information found only in print, it was my job to read well and to read accurately. I was reading the words of humorists like Dave Barry. Once a week I wrote a short play and acted the different roles, sandwiching the ditzy dialogues between those articles by humorists in print.

These comic scenarios of mine became so popular that I decided to risk converting one of Dave Barry’s creations to a play. It was called Thirty Minutes Eye-Witless News. There were perhaps a dozen characters and again I played them all. I sent a copy to Dave. Shortly after he landed a four season Gig on TV called Dave’s World. I was later told that my play gave his manager the idea for that very successful sitcom.

In about 1989 Garrison Keeler who does Prairie Home Companion announced that he was marrying a Swede, leaving the show and moving to Sweden. (NPR continued to rerun old tapes.) On the weekend following The Keelers’ departure I aired a five-minute spoof of his show and called it Prairie Dog Companion; instead of “Coming to you from Lake Wobegone” my show came from “Lake Dogonit”.

A year or so later Gary returned to the show. Years later,  I found myself in a conversation with Keeler about his DSL service, I was in that business for a while and he had heard that I might be able to help him. When I answered the phone Keeler recognized my name and we had a chuckle over Lake Dogonit.

In 1995 STUFF was canceled. Exactly three-years later a local television station began an ad campaign airing a number of STUFF- esque jingles which were similar to the song that I had written in 1981 to sing my way into the original STUFF radio show.

Today I am known as Retail Man; my show is Retail Store Ads. I read the ads from Big Box and Department Stores as well as transcripts of taped interviews with sales people and floor managers from these various stores.

 

 

Return to Sulphur

lafayette compound 012

 

Return to Sulphur
From Lee Broom’s memoirs Referencing October 1976

(Oodles and Lovie are Lee’s Mother and Father in that order)

 

When Oodles died last year I was unable to be there until after the funeral. Lovie and I had our typical Lovie and Lee talk. We walked mostly. Every few minutes one of us would speak up. And then we were back at the house. We sat on the front porch of this old home in the sleepy little former resort town of Sulphur Oklahoma and the five-minute interludes became ten.

As we sat there a squirrel came down from the oak tree by the entrance to the driveway. Halfway down the trunk the squirrel froze. Ears atwitch and head darting left to right, the reason for the rodent’s wary demeanor became evident as a creeping yellow furred miniature lioness stalked her prey. 

Lovie went into the house, returning quickly with a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver. The cat was still creeping. The squirrel was frozen in place. Not a twitch or flick of an eyelid to give it away. The kitty was not fooled; she had just begun to crouch when Father took aim and fired at exactly the same time that the ferocious feline made her leap. As she hit the tree, as her claws dug into the bark, the bullet missed its mark and as it buried itself in the tree a spray of tree bark morsels splattered into the face of the would be assailant. Miss Kitty yowled and leaped to the ground and on to the gravelled path to the garage. She leaped the fence into the back yard with me racing behind her and Lovie limping after me. The yellow speed demon ran headlong into the concrete wall at the back of the property (she must be bind, I thought), ricocheted off and back toward the garage, again running head on into the second building and fell dead.

But that was then and this was now. It was believed or so I was told, that Lovie had experienced an Alzheimer-like set of symptoms over a very short period of time, probably from twenty years of well-managed Parkinson ’s disease. I hurried back home.

Lovie was no longer Lovie to anyone but me. Oodles was gone, brother Bill was not a feelings kind of guy and his new wife was now in charge of the family home and apparently the family purse as Father’s persona withered.

A year or so earlier Lovie had asked me for permission to remarry and I said yes, of course. He immediately walked across the street and asked Clara the widow of four previous husbands for her hand in marriage. At the wedding one of her favorite topics of conversation was her nephew who had inherited or acquired the only remaining drive-in restaurant in Oklahoma City. It was still a popular place to have a hotdog and a malted with dinner being served by young women in short skirts and shapely bodies and who delivered the meals on a tray by scooting across the pavement on roller skates.

The other subject was those four men she had buried.

I picked up Clarabelle and we went to the nursing home to say hello or goodbye whichever the case where I was introduced to a father I barely recognized.

His only garment was a swaddling, thickly padded diaper and his personality seemed the exact age for such raiment. As we began to chat, the others left the room. As Lovie and I found ourselves alone I was at once inspired by a need which was triggered by an observation about my father’s seemingly scripted demeanor. If he was the two-year old child that he seemed to be, having lost all subsequent memories, how was it that he knew me? And I needed to talk.

I asked my father if he could come back to his normal self for a few minutes so we could talk. With the recent memory of my first father’s demise and his reaction to the letter I had sent him it occurred to me that this might be my last opportunity to make amends. I did not think he was putting on an act. But I did realize that there were probably random bits of surviving memories to tap into.

Sure, said Lovie; let’s talk. And we did. After listing some of my behaviors and attitudes that o regretted, I confessed that I had a drinking problem. I know, said Lovie.

He had my attention.

He described an event that I remembered very well, that occurred when I was about five or six years old. I had been sick with measles, laying in bed reading. Lovie had just come in from work and was inquiring about my status, How was I feeling? He felt my forehead. What had Oodles been doing for me? I described a horrible liquid concoction containing soda and lemon and water that most certainly came from the sewer because it smelled like rotten eggs. Lovie had said to me, Lee, what you need is a hot toddy.

What’s a hot toddy, Lovie?

A few minutes later my thoughtful papa handed me a drink in a short glass. It was sweet. There was something in it that seemed vaguely familiar. I knew right away that the familiar something was also in mother’s homemade grape jelly.

It didn’t last long. By the time I had emptied the glass Father was changing into some from his double-breasted suit into a pair of chinos and house shoes. When I yelled for more Lovie came back into my room as he loosened his tie and asked how I liked the medicine. Did I feel a little better? Yes I did. May I have another? The answer was No but as time drug on (probably no more than five minutes) my body demanded more and my voice insisted for seconds. When Father returned with another hot toddy, it looked the same; it was sweet like the first one but whatever it was that made Oodles’ jelly and Lovie’s earlier Hot Toddy so desirable, was missing. And I suffered.

Lovie went on to tell me that when I was eleven years old they had come home from work to discover me lying on my grandmother’s bed, smelling like whiskey. He told me that when he went to his hiding place that it took five years for me to discover, his quick inspection had determined that  though the bottle of bourbon was at the same level as before and had the same coloring as usual, it tasted as though it had been watered down. He added that in the kitchen the package of food coloring had been tampered with.

We chuckled together over this story and Lovie suggested that I do something about my problem and to not waste time; that my natural mother was an alcoholic and that she was drinking while pregnant with me. As he finished his statement I could hear Lovie’s brother, my Uncle Turner, coming down the hall toward this room where we were talking. And before my eyes I witnessed another transformation as my father returned to the child I had met minutes before. He asked if I wanted to play with his toys; they were scattered about the room. I said No, gave him a hug, kissed his forehead and left. He died the following day.

I was never notified of a reading of the will nor did I make inquiries. Within a few years, the restaurant with the skating waitresses had developed into a national chain.

GRRRREAT

 

250px-Arizona_Canal
      Photo courtesy of Wikepedia

GRRRREAT ( A year ago)

From the Mid Seventies through the Nineties I began each day by getting on the Arizona Canal at dawn and jogging five miles or more. When I lived at McCormick Ranch I started at Jackrabbit Rd and ran to Camelback and back; in Arcadia I started at 48th St. and Indian School behind the Monastery and ran to 68th St. and back. I remember saying to myself back then that there would never come a time when I would stop this practice.

These days the cilia in my lungs are matted down with tar from those years when I smoked (yes I smoked even during my 10 K years which is why I didn’t run marathons).

But yesterday I went to 48th st and Indian School and ran a mile. Actually, I was wheezing so badly that I ran a bit and walked a bit, using the distance between telephone poles to determine when to switch gaits. It wasn’t much but it was wonderful.

An hour later my lungs were working like those of a much healthier person.

Right now it is 530. My computer is down for a bit and I am on my way to 48th St & Indian School Rd. My lungs are already kicking out mucous as I anticipate the joy of pounding sand. I’ve always worked out at the gym but nothing takes the place of kicking up dust.

6:30 One mile again (GRRRREAT)