Interviewing Gentle Ben’s Owner and Ron Howard’s Brother

Or How to Tick Off My Teacher Without Really Trying…

Or Finding My Porpoise in Life

“This time find a book with porpoise, Jackie,” Ms. Nancy Lewis instructed me in 1965.

Purpose?

The previous time I checked out a book from the Harlandale School District Book Mobile, it was a brand new novel by Walt Morey entitled Gentle Ben.

Ben was a big brown bear in Alaska who befriended a boy named Mark. I imagined the boy looked similar to my fifth grade classmate, Mark Kuykendall, because he was somewhat adventurous.

Well, I supposed Ms. Lewis was upset about my book choices because she obviously didn’t think my Gentle Ben skit—performed in front of her fifth grade class in lieu of a book report— was as brilliant as the class did.

“GET MY PADDLE”

The week before, I had seen Ms. Lewis use her “discipline paddle” on Kenneth Andrews. Ken was upset because the recess bell rang– meaning we were to get back to class. It went off just as he had stepped up to bat during an exciting softball game.

I was playing second base when pitcher David Cardenas took the ball and walked back towards the second wing of Gillette Elementary School in south San Antonio that day.

The words that red-headed Kenneth screamed in anger, for not having the ball pitched to him, was dialect unfitting to a 5th grader, Ms. Lewis determined.

“Jackie, go get my paddle,” she directed me.

Why me? Kenneth is my friend. I don’t want to see his butt blistered by her spanking paddle.

I ran to our classroom and obediently brought out the paddle.

“What porpoise does that serve to cuss like that?” she asked Kenneth before the WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

His buttocks were seared. All I knew was I wanted to make certain I had a good porpoise for anything I did around Ms. Lewis.

The next time the Book Mobile came to our school I made sure my book had porpoises in it.

I wasn’t certain what she had against bears, but as long as I never was on the receiving end of the teacher’s paddle, I would learn as much about porpoises as required.

CLINT HOWARD

A couple of years later, Gentle Ben became a TV series and the boy in that show didn’t look anything like the adventurous Mark Kuykendall at all.

The actor was Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron Howard, “Opie Taylor” of Mayberry and Andy Griffith fame at the time.

It was an okay show, but as long as Ms. Lewis wasn’t my teacher anymore it was all right by me.

Fast forward forty years later. It’s 2006, and I finally know the difference between Ms. Lewis’ pronunciation “porpoise” and the word “purpose.” That year I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever), comedian Bill Dana (Jose Jiminez), Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet) and more.

It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with the one and only Clint Howard. Although known to Baby Boomers for his role in Gentle Ben, he was at the Space conference for his part in the Ron Howard movie, Apollo 13.

The real life Apollo Mission control commander, Gene Krantz was nearby and in passing, called out to Howard: “Afternoon Sy!”

Clint Howard grinned and explained his role in Apollo 13 was the part of Sy Liebergot, a key member of the Mission Control crew under Krantz.

Howard loved the role acting with Ed Harris who played Krantz:

Sy LiebergotFlight… I recommend we shut down reactant valves to the fuel cells.

Gene Kranz: What the hell good is that gonna do?

Sy Liebergot: If that’s where the leak is, we can isolate it. We can save what’s left in the tanks and we can run on the good cell.

Gene Kranz: You close ’em, you can’t open ’em again! You can’t land on the moon with one healthy fuel cell!

Sy Liebergot: Gene, the Odyssey is “dying”. From my chair here, this is the last option.

INTERVIEW

Howard was kind enough to place his signature on a photo alongside his brother Ron Howard’s autograph and was willing to be interviewed for a few quick questions. Ready go:

Biggest influence?

My dad, Rance Howard is definitely my biggest influence. He has taught both Ron and I attributes of being a good man of the earth type solid human beings. We’ve learned to apply this to our work, the entertainment business.

The work can be hard enough in the morning but it is especially grueling by the end of a very long day on the  set. Through Dad, we learned to remain focused because all time counts.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this often, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t ask, how was it working with Gentle Ben?

Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve never really heard of that question before (He winked and grinned).

Gentle Ben was really Bruno the Bear and he actually was a gentle bear. I remember he smelled bad and enjoyed drinking Coca-Cola and eating candy, especially lemon drops and sometimes Tootsie Roll.

I was already accustomed to acting and wasn’t starstruck at that age, but co-starring with a bear was cool. My dad was always on set with me down on a ranch in the Everglades, so I was away from my mom for a bit. When we would come back for Christmas break, our house was decorated to the max for the holidays. Good memories.

I would describe you as a character actor, with a diverse set of many different roles. How do you describe your acting persona?

That’s right on. You know, my great brother Ron, five years my senior, basically played all similar roles. There is Opie (Mayberry), Ritchie (Happy Days), Chad (The Smith Family) and the character, Steve from American Graffiti, basically.

We both started very young. By the time Gentle Ben was around, I had years of experience. I’m in my fifth decade of acting and now find myself in the position in my career as a character actor with a lot of experience.

When I walk on set and I think people look towards me, somewhat for some of a bit of guidance and mentoring. Now, I don’t stick my nose somewhere where it doesn’t belong. I’m there to act, my job. Thats my thing. I’m not going to step on anybody’s toes and automatically mentor. It is not my responsibility. But I realize now that some people do look up to me, and respect my experience. So I keep that in mind when I work on any project. I will be a leader and positive influencer for the director, crew, the actors if and as needed.

Like I said, I grew up with wonderful parents. My Dad mentored and I remain grateful.

Note: At the time of this interview Rance Howard was alive. He passed away on November 25, 2017. Clint’s mother, Jean Frances Speegle Howard, died on September 2, 2000.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Three Fingers and a Bird

The True Story of the Profound Lesson I Learned in 1963 on a Barber’s Chair

Just eight miles south-southwest of where I thought John Wayne fought at the Alamo was a spot in San Antonio where serious thinking and deciphering came into my life.

Slightly west of the halfway point along the street I saw President Kennedy on the day before his assassination–between the San Jose Mission and Kelly Air Force Base–is a region where my father was considered “patron.”

Starting on the Southeast corner of Southwest Military Drive, and heading south for eleven blocks on Commercial Street, was the first of five business pillars of our community.

Three proprietors were the foundation of commerce on Commercial Avenue and gaining the kind of momentum two others, Joe Barry and Mr. Stacey had held for a number of years. 

The first was Raymond “Bud” Jones of the “Meal A Minute” 89 cent All-You-Can-Eat -Fish fame. Bud, who passed away in October 2018, opened his legendary restaurant in 1959 at the Military Drive/Commercial southeast corner. Today, this South Side institution still serves the All-You-Can-Eat-Fish for $9.75 with his daughter Cathy and family running it.

Joe Barry owned the Terrell Wells grocery and gas store that eventually became the original VFW Post 8541. My daddy, Walter “Corky” Dennis, would go in to buy a pack of Camels (later on, he graduated to Salem’s) as I would sit in the car and look at the screen on a front door. It was painted yellow and blue with a gingham dressed girl smiling with bread in her hands proclaiming that we should “Reach for Sunbeam Bread.” 

Mercy, did I have a crush on that pretty blond haired-blue eyed beauty! I wondered often if she was kin to Dorothy of Kansas and Toto fame. Perhaps a blond cousin?

Later on, when I became at least as good at ‘cipherin’ as Jethro Bodine, I figured her out. I deduced she was the older sister of another girl and her dog– the little tan one on Coppertone signs who was embarrassed about having her panties almost torn off.

Across the street from Terrell Wells Grocery was Stacey’s Barber Shop. With a prominent barber pole on the south front lawn, Mr. and Mrs. Stacey lived on the north half of their shop in a small white wood framed house.

It was a matter of honor, but mostly courage, to sit up high on the board placed on the white arms of the barber chair of Mr. Stacey. I proudly received my trims from the same man who had cut my great grandfather John’s, grandpa Jack’s and father Corky’s hair.

I liked to go there with Daddy. But Mom, not so much. Momma would always make me sit close to the front door as we walked in. It just did not seem quite right for a girl like Momma, to be in a barber shop. There was nothing really wrong with it. Other mothers and even Mrs. Stacey came in. But a guy could not really appreciate the “feel” of the place with women in there.

There seemed to be more laughter and the men could talk about men’s things like “baseball,” or “a missile crisis” when the women were away.

In early December, Dad took me in. Grandpa Dennis was in one of the waiting chairs at the far right end facing the barber chairs on the left.

Without Momma around I could penetrate farther in and get away from the front door where the Porky Pig, Zorro or Superman books were. Sitting between Daddy and Grandpa I could scan the cover of nearby True Detective magazines. Mr. and Mrs. Stacey would never allow anything more manly than that. But to a guy just about to turn eight, True Detective was very mannish. (Note: The word “Macho” had not been invented yet as far as I know).

As each customer walked in, they were passed an 8 x 10 black and white glossy of what was purported to be the “last picture of JFK before he was shot.” One of the barbers had bought it for a dollar at the drug store located next to St. Leo’s Church on South Flores Street during their 1963 Fall Festival and Tamale Sale. Dad let me look at it and I felt important.

“Okay, Jack, you are next,” said one of the barbers. He was talking to Grandpa, who got up and sat down in a man’s size barber’s chair.

I did not notice who just walked in. I was determining if Daddy would let me go next, after Grandpa, instead of him. If so, Mr. Stacey would cut my hair. Then my odds for getting a sucker were better. Some of the other barbers did not always remember to pass out the suckers. Mr. Stacey never forgot, plus he would let me choose the color. I would leave the yellows or browns for the poor kids that were stuck with the other barbers.

Richard Floyd, my step grandfather sat down beside me grinning.

“Paw Paw,” I grinned back. We hugged.

Paw Paw was a tall human being.   With only one good eye and a few good teeth, he was not much for the world to see, but to me he walked on water.

“What are you doing, gettin’ your ears lowered, Booger?” He waved his hand from front to back over his head.

“They only charge Paw Paw half price, because I only have half my hair.”

What a treat it was to have two grandfathers and a father in the same barber shop all at the same time.

“Are you ready for your birthday?” Paw Paw asked.

When Grandpa Dennis heard that, he called me up and reached in his wallet. He handed me a dollar bill.

“Grandpa didn’t forget your birthday,” he said. “You tell your daddy to get you something with this.”

Paw Paw saw what was going on and he pulled TWO dollars out of his billfold and handed it to me with Happy Birthday instructions to tell my Mom to get me something with them.

Three whole dollars in a matter of seconds and it was the most money I had up to that point in my life. (Note: That amount in 1963 is worth $25.36 today).

When I sat back down, secretly enjoying the $3 in my pocket, my mind immediately jumped to disenchantment. Suddenly, my brain realized what people meant when they said “bad luck or trouble comes in threes.” And it had nothing to do with the money.

I had been waiting for the third calamity to reveal itself ever since my beloved cockerspaniel Blackie died on November 4th and John F. Kennedy on the 22nd.  Within a little over a month’s time, there I was, in the middle of the prohibited end of the barber shop and suddenly going through trauma numero tres!

It was at this moment I discovered that BOTH of my grandfathers had three fingers missing from their left hands.

What was this? Why hadn’t I really noticed their left hands before? Or maybe I did, but it did not register until I saw them both in the same room. Or was it because I was almost eight and noticing more adult things? After all, I had just scanned the covers of two True Detectives.

For at least the next few weeks I was terrified of everything my hands touched. Perhaps this was some kind of omen or family curse? What were the odds? Two grandfathers with the same hands missing three fingers!

My Daddy, policeman Walter “Corky” Dennis, was one of the motorcycle escorts next to the President’s car on the Kennedy motorcade during his San Antonio visit the day before his assassination in Dallas.

Just in time for Christmas, Daddy explained that Paw Paw was only my step-grandfather, so it really did not count—-there was no family curse.

“You do not have to worry about it any more.”

Thank God for Daddy’s explanation. I didn’t know how much longer I could have held out keeping my left hand in my pocket everywhere I went. Each morning when I awoke, I would look to see if those fingers on that hand were still there. Somehow it would sneak out from under the pillow during my sleep.

Definitely, I would not dare do what the other boys were inventing in the cafeteria.   By placing a pencil on top of their middle finger and bending the adjacent fingers over the pencil, they could “shoot the bird.”

Not quite understanding what that meant, as far as I was concerned if I shot that bird it was sure to be a recipe for the family curse. I knew that bird had wings for a reason. Around me it was going to just have to fly away. I did not intend to lose my three fingers over a bird.
     

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Happy 82 Birthday Sir Tom Jones, From My Mom in Heaven

Knowing I’m an advid autograph collector, my mother, Geraldine Dennis was always on the lookout and obtained several signatures for me.

In April 1969, she took me to a Tom Jones concert with my cousins Carolyn Sanders Gerland and James Johnson at the Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio, Texas. Gladys Knight and the Pips and comedian Norm Crosby also appeared.

They performed on a stage, in the center of the arena, with an amazing orchestra on one side. I was only 13 and the entire show was incredible. Tom Jones sang such hits as “It’s Not Unusual,” “Delilah,” and “Help Yourself.”

I was mesmerized by the strength in his voice and boldness of his showmanship. (It would be three years later, in April 1972, when I would see Elvis Presley for the first time at that same arena…and up until that concert, never did I believe Tom Jones could be beat. LOL.)

Elvis & Tom, 1969

For years Mom would laugh and say, “When I die I want to come back reincarnated as a gospel backup singer so I can stand behind Tom Jones and watch him work on stage.”

She meant it.

On her 50th birthday we took her to the Magic Time Machine restaurant. It first opened in 1973, the year I graduated from high school, and continues to be a fun favorite in San Antonio.

 The Time Machine is like no other restaurant I’ve ever seen, with no two seating areas alike. In San Antonio, you can sit at the Sweethearts Table, in The Attic, a Thatched Hut or even an old Refrigerator. Mom loved the salad bar, a shiny red 1952 MG-TD Roadster modified to serve as a soup and salad vegetables.

“The thing that sets The Magic Time Machine apart is our zany cast of characters who transport our guests into another point in time,” their website bills themselves. “Our servers dress in costumes representing popular pop culture icons from the past, present, and future. The entertainment comes from the humorous interaction with your server in a family friendly environment. Pirate or Princess? Hero or Villain? We have characters for every occasion and group. At The Magic Time Machine, ‘Laughing Aloud is Allowed’!”

It was a fun night that January 17, 1988. Elvis was in the house and Mom told her friends Wayne and Betty Lewis, “I wished Tom Jones would make an appearance too” and explained her reincarnation wish.

We had great laughs but it was especially joyful to see her open my present to her—an 8×10″ glossy personally autographed picture of Tom Jones. The smile and happy tears on her face endure in my thoughts even today.

I took mom to see Tom Jones two more times (she had even seen him in Las Vegas) both in San Antonio’s Majestic Theater and the Laurie Auditorium. Each time she repeated her reincarnation wish–“gospel singer behind Tom Jones.”

When Mom died in September 2006, the funeral at First Baptist Church in Boerne, Texas was full. My sister Bobbi Shipman and I both addressed our dear family and friends, some we hadn’t seen in decades. Of course, there was great emotion and sadness.

To end it all, a gospel group from a Black San Antonio church led by Janet Givens (she has sang to royalty and backed up Michael Bolton) practically blew the stained glass windows out of the church with their songs. They concluded with “Oh Happy Day!”

Mom’s funeral was appropriately uplifting…just like her.

Happy Birthday Sir Tom Jones

I imagine that as Sir Tom Jones celebrates his 82nd birthday here on Earth June 7th, Mom will be wishing him good will and happiness from Heaven–and looking at his behind.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Attempt at Being Indoctrinated That I Remember Most

With a long, overdue message to a university professor…

Texas State University in San Marcos, between Austin and San Antonio, was known as Southwest Texas University during the summer of 1976. Barely beginning my junior year, a significant paradigm challenge and among the first major attempts at indoctrination took place in a Flowers Hall Sociology class.

“Is God so powerful, that He can create a rock so heavy even he can not lift it up over His head?” our professor asked the class.

Several classmates attempted to answer but were torn into by the professor’s stern logic.

I took a moment to bow my head.

A girl in the desk to my left, did the same. Several others also followed.

“Oh, come on now, please spare me,” he theatrically clinched his two fists together and began shaking them below his waste. “What do you believe? Did your Jesus, your God, shake himself like this and spew out a universe?”

The girl next to me picked up her belongings and walked out into the hallway. He slammed the door behind her.

“Any of you children, still sucking your momma’s teats, after this had better get out now and prepare to drop out for good.”

Flowers Hall entrance

A few students walked out and politely closed the door behind themselves.

He turned to us and sarcastically asked, “So how does this Jesus purport to be the almighty God anyway? When he prays to God is He praying to himself?”

Of course, gullible as some of us were, none of us had the knowledge and ability to debate him. The professor’s word was the final discussion and ruling on the subject. I’m guessing he voted for William Jefferson Clinton later that year, and if still around, voted for Joe Biden and the likes of Beto O’Rourke in 2020.

Decades later, I know the answer to the mad professor’s question.

How could the prayer of Jesus to the Father be the same as us praying to the Father when he demonstrated to us that he himself answers our prayers in John 14:13?

WHATEVER YOU ASK IN MY NAME, THIS I WILL DO, THAT THE FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED IN THE SON.

John 14:13

Now if we took the professor’s meaning of prayer, we were limited in our ability to debate him. His term for “pray” really just means a human speaking to God. Of course, this wouldn’t make sense because Jesus himself says He answers our prayers.  So if Jesus can answer our prayers, He couldn’t be just human.  

The fact that He can answer the prayers of humans, yet prayed Himself, shows both that HE IS GOD and that His prayer to the Father is of a different nature than ours.

A human being can’t both answer human prayers and pray to the Father as a human being.  Either he can’t answer prayers (but He can), or His prayer is not just a human-to-God interaction.  So the fact that Jesus can answer prayers proves that He is God while also being able to talk with other persons in the Godhead.

Along the years, I read this statement when studying the Bible:

that will I do; he does not say, that he would be a Mediator between God, and them, an advocate with the Father for them, and would intercede, and use his interest with him that it might be done, which would have been saying much, and all which he does; but he declares he will do it himself, which is a proof of his deity, and an instance of his omnipotence.”

Jesus’ prayer does not negate his Deity

🔹The word pray does not always have to mean a communication between God and Man.

🔹Jesus used the term “pray” as being a dialogue between two individuals of the same essence.

🔹One of the methods of instruction employed by Christ was leading by example. Hence if Jesus prayed, then all the more should we.

🔹If Christ prayed to the Father in like manner to our appeals and requests to God , then it wouldn’t make any sense because Jesus said that He, himself, could answer our prayers.  

🔹If He can answer our prayers, He must not be separate from God.  

🔹If He can answer our prayers, His prayer to the Father is of a different nature than our prayer to the Father.

Dear Professor, There is no contradiction between Jesus praying and the idea of Him being a member of the Trinity, (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the Word made flesh.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Expert Observations About Our Moon

Always fascinated by the Moon—perhaps because being a Baby Boomer, tales from my Chickasaw-Choctaw great grandmother Margaret Ralph-Morgan and being around during the early days of manned American space exploration–were influences.

We never took the Moon for granted. Not much in my experiences matched the 1969 landing on the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Meeting and interviewing Aldrin was definitely a highlight years later.

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin

Here is a collection of interesting quotes from scientists, authors, researchers, NASA insiders and star-gazers relating to the enigmatic and often inexplicable nature of the moon:

Isaac Asimov,
American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University and Science Fiction writer. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time.

“We cannot help but come to the conclusion that the Moon by rights ought not to be there. The fact that it is, is one of the strokes of luck almost too good to accept… Small planets, such as Earth, with weak gravitational fields, might well lack satellites… … In general then, when a planet does have satellites, those satellites are much smaller than the planet itself. Therefore, even if the Earth has a satellite, there would be every reason to suspect… that at best it would be a tiny world, perhaps 30 miles in diameter. But that is not so. Earth not only has a satellite, but it is a giant satellite, 2160 miles in diameter. How is it then, that tiny Earth has one? Amazing.”

“The Moon, which has no atmosphere and no magnetic field, is basically a freak of nature”

Irwin Shapiro,
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

“The best possible explanation for the Moon is observational error – the Moon doesn’t exist.’

“The Moon is bigger than it should be, apparently older than it should be and much lighter in mass than it should be. It occupies an unlikely orbit and is so extraordinary that all existing explanations for its presence are fraught with difficulties are none of them could be considered remotely watertight.”

Christopher Knight and Alan Bulter
Book: Who Built the Moon?

The Moon has astonishing synchronicity with the Sun. When the Sun is at its lowest and weakest in mid-winter, the Moon is at its highest and brightest, and the reverse occurs in mid-summer. Both set at the same point on the horizon at the equinoxes and at the opposite point at the solstices. What are the chances that the Moon would naturally find an orbit so perfect that it would cover the Sun at an eclipse and appear from Earth to be the same size? What are chances that the alignments would be so perfect at the equinoxes and solstices?

Farouk El Baz,
NASA

“If water vapour is coming from the Moon’s interior is this serious. It means that there is a drastic distinction between the different phases of the lunar interior – that the interior is quite different from what we have seen on the surface.”

Mikhail Vasin, Alexander Shcherbakov,
Societ Academy of Sciences, 1970.

“Is the moon a creation of an alien intelligence?”

Dr Harold Urey,
Nobel Prize for Chemistry

“I’m terribly puzzled by the rocks from the Moon and in particular of their titanium content.”

Dr S Ross Taylor,
Geochemist of lunar chemical analysis,

Said the problem was that maria plains the size of Texas had to be covered with melted rock containing fluid titanium. He said you would not expect titanium ever to be hot enough to do that, even on Earth, and no one has ever suggested that the Moon was hotter than the Earth.

“What could distribute titanium in this way? Highly advanced technology developed and operated by entities that are immensely more technologically advance than humans.”

Dr. Gordon MacDonald,
NASA

“it would seem that the Moon is more like a hollow than a homogenous sphere’. He surmised that the data must have been wrong – but it wasn’t.”

Carl Sagan,
Cosmologist,

“A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.”

Dr. Sean C Solomon,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The Lunar Orbiter experiments had vastly improved knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field and indicated the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.”

University of Arizona Lon Hood
“We knew that the Moon’s core was small, but we didn’t know it was this small… This really does add weight to the idea that the Moon’s origin is unique, unlike any other terrestrial body.”

NASA scientists
The Apollo 12 mission to the Moon in November 1969 set up seismometers and then intentionally crashed the Lunar Module causing an impact equivalent to one ton of TNT. The shockwaves built up for eight minutes, and NASA scientists said the Moon ‘rang like a bell.

Maurice Ewing,
American geophysicist and oceanographer

“As for the meaning of it, I’d rather not make an interpretation right now, but it is as though someone had struck a bell, say, in the belfry of a church, a single blow and found that the reverberation from it continued for 30 minutes.”

Ken Johnson,
Supervisor of the Data and Photo Control department during the Apollo missions

“The Moon not only rang like a bell, but the whole Moon wobbled in such a precise way that it was almost as though it had gigantic hydraulic damper struts inside it.”

Moon rocks have been found to contain processed metals, including brass and mica, and the elements Uranium 236 and Neptunium 237 that have never been found to occur naturally.

Dr. D L Anderson,
Professor of geophysics and director of the seismological laboratory,
California Institute of Technology


“The Moon is made inside out and that its inner and outer compositions should be the other way around.”

Dr. Robin Brett,
NASA Scientist

“It seems much easier to explain the nonexistence of the moon than its existence.”

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Elvis Presley’s Texas Home During Basic Training in 1958 Still Visited by Fans

In 2020, defying lockdowns and wearing masks, we took a 32 day roadtrip from the Texas Hill Country to Washington DC and back.

Our first stop was near Fort Hood in a central Killeen Texas neighborhood. If the walls of the circa 1950 ranch-style house at 605 Oakhill Drive could talk, they’d sing!

Photo by Loralyn ‘Dodie’ Dennis

It’s a nice house but doesn’t have any visual features that dramatically set it apart from the other homes in the area not far from Conder Park. It’s a one-story, brick home with a rather large mailbox out front.

As big Elvis Presley fans, we thought there might be a landmark sign designating it as the house the most famous entertainer in history lived while going through Army training.

At the height of his early fame, the Army drafted Elvis in 1958, and at the Memphis induction center, he received his shots, his buzz cut, and his orders. On March 28, he and others were sent by military bus to Fort Hood, the Second Armored Division, General George S. Patton’s “Hell on Wheels” wild bunch.

Enroute the new troops stopped for a restaurant lunch break in Hillsboro causing “a small riot” when teenage customers recognized him. 

Elvis didn’t want any special treatment offered. His desire was to be just another G.I. His fellow soldiers saw that in him and Elvis became one of the guys.

Private Simon Vega recalled, “I thought he was gonna get special treatment but he did KP, guard duty, everything, just like us.” 

When basic training was completed, the Army allowed soldiers to live off base as long as they had dependents living in the area. It was not long before Elvis’ parents, grandmother, and a friend traveled to Killeen where they found a three-bedroom home to rent from Chester Crawford, an attorney who charged an outrageous $700 a month.

Soon crowds began showing up on Oakhill Drive to catch a glimpse of Elvis. It was common for him to stand outside and talk to fans for hours. Occasionally, he detoured through neighbors’ backyards to avoid the crowds, and according to neighbor Janie Sullivan, the clothesline in their yard once caught Elvis and the dog bit him. 

Elvis with friend Red West (far right)

Not everyone was thrilled by Elvis’ presence in the neighborhood. Some Oak Hill residents called the police to complain about the clouds of dust stirred up by the cars and the carnival-like atmosphere.

While completing an additional ten weeks of advanced tank training, Elvis had to take emergency leave to fly to Memphis to be with his mother, Gladys, who had returned home to be hospitalized. She died two days later on August 14.

After his mother’s funeral, Elvis returned and put in long days at Fort Hood learning to be a tanker. During his final days at Fort Hood, large crowds gathered outside his house, and some nights a hundred people kept vigil. The last night, on September 19, 1958, Elvis and his gang gathered at the home to make the drive to the troop train that would take him and 1,360 other G.I.s to Brooklyn to sail for Germany.


Biographers and friends reported that Elvis’ time at Fort Hood and in the Army was among the happiest of his life. For a time, he was almost “just another soldier.” Everyone agreed that Elvis was a good soldier, one of the best in the company.

His longtime girlfriend, Anita Wood, said, “he had finally found himself.”

Elvis said later, “I learned a lot about people in the Army. I never lived with other people before and had a chance to find out how they think.” 

In 1958, longtime Killeen resident Edith Carlile lived four doors down from the house Pvt. Elvis Presley lived in with his parents, Vernon and Gladys. Presley rented the home for seven months from a local lawyer when he was stationed at Fort Hood.

“The street was extremely crowded with cars going by,” said Carlile, who lived next door to the house Presley lived in before she passed away a few years ago. “People were standing in the yard, wanting to touch him, kiss him.”

Carlile was a mother of four at the time, and wasn’t really into the rock ’n’ roll music that Presley is famous for.

“I’m not a fan of music of that age,” Carlile told a local news reporter, adding she was more into the tunes of the big band era.

Her children did get autographs from Presley, but Carlile said she threw the signed pieces of paper away years later.

She said the rock ’n’ roll king dated a few of the local girls when he was here, and his presence made a big impact, especially in the Oakhill Drive neighborhood, which in 1958 was home to lawyers, business owners and other upper-middle class families.

More than 64 years later, the house is still standing, and although it’s aged, the outside doesn’t look dramatically different from when Presley lived there.

Surprisingly, more recent owners of the Presley’s rental house indicated they didn’t even know the house had once been lived in by Presley when they bought it some years ago.

To this day Elvis fans regularly pop by the house to take a video, some puctures or inquire about the former home of the King.

On display at Graceland complex in Memphis, Tennessee

Some drive hundreds of miles to do so. Others want to peep inside or look at the backyard.

Although there has been updated renovations (exterior windows and roof) owners are reluctant to offer details.

In November 2006, the 2,400-square-foot house was placed for purchase on eBay.

The owner at the time, Myka Allen-Johnson, a sales representative for CenTex Homes, said she wanted to sell the home to someone who would understand the historical significance.

“I didn’t buy the house with the intention of selling it on eBay,” Allen-Johnson told the Killeen Daily Herald in 2006. “I just don’t want people to forget that he lived here in Killeen.”

Ft. Hood front gate 1958

Penny Love was 3 or 4 years old and lived around the corner in 1958. She recalls her family seeing Presley sneak through her backyard to avoid the crowd that waited out front. She said she would sometimes sit on Presley’s father, Vernon’s lap on the front porch.

The community has missed out on any significant tourism and marketing opportunities over the years. In August 1958, Presley fans petitioned the Killeen City Council to change the name of Oakhill Drive to Presley Drive, bringing nationwide publicity to the area. Today, however, Oakhill is still the name of the street.

The owner said she allows Presley fans to take a quick picture of the front of the house. But those who try to pry closer are not totally welcome.

The backyard has a steep incline, she said, which can be dangerous, and a German shepherd patrols back there, too.

Favorite Fan Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/elvis-presley-the-rockin-motorcycle-king-in-photos/embed/#?secret=mCsDyQTdl8

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/more-rare-or-unseen-elvis-presley-pictures-from-the-60s/embed/#?secret=OrH73oXJB4

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/09/16/25-more-rare-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-army/embed/#?secret=QM7UuXuv5W

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/20-rate-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-u-s-army/embed/#?secret=aoCYSwtQ3k

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/20-elvis-presley-photos-you-may-have-never-seen-from-the-1960s/embed/#?secret=dQQFfwxfNP

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/elvis-presley-rare-shots-from-the-1970s/embed/#?secret=4h7ZdpV2LL

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/elvis-presley-movies-ranked/embed/#?secret=4IUVI49WXl

10 Rare Elvis Presley Photos in the 1950s

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Visit Graceland

Lessons From Noah’s Ark We All Need Right Now

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, we went on a 32-day roadtrip. We refused to lockdown.

Jack & Dodie Dennis at Ark Encounter

One of the most fascinating days was spent at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. It is a type of historical and biblical theme park centered around a life-sized reconstruction of the massive ship, built at God’s command, that saved Noah, his family, and representatives of every kind of land-dependent, air-breathing animal from a global flood.

“The ark was 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high and it housed the several thousand animals God brought to Noah,” their literature reads. “The global flood lasted about one year. The ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4), and Noah’s family, with all the animals that were saved from the flood, eventually spread throughout the world.”

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

Genesis 6:11-13

Years ago, I came across this poster in one of my son’s Sunday School classrooms and always thought the lessons applied to adults as well as children. This wisdom is worth applying and sharing.

1. Don’t miss the boat

Ask for guidance from the Almighty, He will help you get through whatever obstacles you are facing right now.

Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

2. Remember that we are all in the same boat

As the old saying goes “No Man is an Island” just means were are connected with each other. Some people will leave a huge amount of memories, and others will cause us pain, both though will contribute to our learnings for us to become a better person. Every time you meet new people, it will become part of you forever because it can leave good or bad memories that will stay on your mind for the longest time.

Ephesians 1:3. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark

Ephesians 5:16 (KJV) “Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days.”

Lay down plans about your future regarding what you want to become in life. Make room for errors. Do not just rely simply on Plan A. Make some sort of Plan B and Plan C to deal with setbacks.

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

4. Stay fit. When you’re really old, someone may ask you to do something really big

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

26 “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Work to remain healthy physically and mentally. You might need to be part of something amazingly big that is life-changing at least for the people around you.

Stay fit so that you may be able to live a longer life to see your children and grandchildren fulfill their dreams and become successful in life. Many grandparents are not able to see because they lead an unhealthy life and leave this world too soon.

5. Don’t listen to the critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Be reminded not to listen to skeptics when you experience setbacks from time to time. Focus on what you want to achieve in life. Years after, the words that critics have said against you won’t even matter anymore.

6. Build your future on high ground

1 Corinthians 3: 10-11 10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” 11 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Make your future to be foolproof. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

7. For Safety Sake, Travel in Pairs

Romans 8:35-37. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

8. Speed Isn’t Always An Advantage. The Snails were on board with the Cheetahs

James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Who remembers the race between the turtle and the hare? Consistency is more important than speed—or at least have both speed and consistency work together.

9. When You’re Stressed, Float a While

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Having trouble dealing with your personal issues? Take a deep breath, and relax. Learn to unwind for a while to cool down. Afterward, go back to the drawing board and deal with the issue again. A rested mind is more creative than a weary one.

10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals

1 Corinthians 1:20 “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

Be humble. It doesn’t matter how mighty you perceive yourself to be, know when to tame your ego. Sometimes a low profile is best as situations may backfire on your part.

11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
Ark Encounter

CleverJourneys 2nd Anniversary: Thanks to Our Readers

Loralyn “Dodie” and Jack Dennis wish to thank all of our faithful readers for your support. On the eve of our second anniversary for our CleverJourneys blog, we reached 1,110,011 unique viewers. Our best yet.

We began on May 1, 2020. Although I previously wrote articles for Examiner, AXS Entertainment, The Rowdy and my own News Legit, CleverJourneys is my dream come true (well, one of many thanks to God).

This is not too bad for two young seniors that have known each other since our first year of school way back when. To celebrate, we hope you enjoy these:

Here are some our regular features in leadership popularity order.

JackNotes: Summaries of books, classes, conferences, speeches and knowledge of over 40 years.

Another of our most popular articles series are JackNotes, executive summaries of books, articles, speeches and other useful information that may save you the expense and trouble of reading the entire publication….or it may spur you on to seek more information from the original source.

TRUE CRIME STORIES

Another feature, Accounts of the Old West is a tribute to Jack’s great, great uncle Charlie Bassett, the first marshall of Dodge City, Kansas…and James Allison Morgan–a cattle driver and cowboy, Jack’s great grandfather. (You thought TV’s ‘Marshal Matt Dillon’ was the first didn’t you?) We feature tales and history of the Old West.

EXPLORE FURTHER
Travel, Road Trips, Destinations, Tips
Food, recipes, restaurants, cooking

We are thankful to our incredible sponsors!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Sources and Networking for Writers, Investigators and Sales People

“Where do you get your ideas for articles? How do you develop and retain dependable sources? How do you sell more? Increase business? Obtain information?”

These are common questions I have received over the years as a “Jack of All Trades” being an investigative reporter, insurance salesman, business executive, trade organization president, writer, detective and corporate facilities manager. The simple answer is to be a good networker.

Personal Connections

After making any connection, I always tried to build on it. Sometimes it takes creativity and thoughtfulness, but those are wonderful traits for life anyway. At HEB Food/Drugs, my division had thousands of employees (Partners), service providers, vendors and other resources to keep our stores, offices, warehouses, manufacturing plants and other real estate safe, lawful and in welcoming conditions.

H-E-B calls employees ‘Partners’

Early on, I would use Rolodex files (labeled: “Sources,” “Engineers,” “Partners,” “Designers,” Electricians,” and others) for individual information on people in each category.

For example, when I visited Austin, Houston, Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley, the Coastal Bend and other regions of Texas, the file for that area would include more than just names, phone numbers, and emails. It was critical to have personal notes to connect and care with individuals I may come in contact with. Examples might be:

Birthplace, Birthday, Anniversaries, Spouse, Children, Other Family, Connections, Hobbies, Interests, Education, and Accomplishments.

Others items to note might include Affiliations, Career and Work History, Goals, Prides, and other interests.

“Is Bobby, Jr. still playing baseball this year? How’s Nancy doing in track? Here’s an autograph of Tim Duncan for your brother. I know he’s big on Spurs basketball,” were some ways to build rapport.

The key was to capture the bits and pieces of hot, vital information
about people I met. These appear as phrases such as “Texas State alum,” “loves to fish,” “never eats lunch,” and so on.

Many times I kept a pocket recorder to help remember for when I jotted it down in the hotel room or plane ride later. As technology developed, I kept computer files and spreadsheets instead of manual Rolodexes.

Note: Even today, I do not include confidential information and confidential names on a computer or internet file. My reputation and ability to gather data and news depends on sources trusting me.

Resources You Can Count On

It’s all a lot of work, but worth every minute of it. What does all this
have to do with resolving an emergency, mitigating a problem, gathering resources, or closing the sale? Just about everything when it’s
used at the moment it’s needed.

Who can you depend on for help when your dealing with a hurricane, a sales proposal or news article?

I don’t subscribe to the saying “Networking is a numbers game.” The success doesn’t come from how many people you can meet. What you actually need is to have a list of people and resources you can count on.

One of my greatest mentors was a senior vice president of Facility Alliance at H-E-B, Ralph G. Mehringer. I watched and learned. When he met someone for the first time–a food server, janitor, visitor, new partner, whoever— Ralph was consistent about making them feel like the most important person in the room.

When I lived in an apartment above the Majestic Theater in downtown San Antonio, a neighbor, Walter Stovell, known as the “Godfather of Houston Street,” totally made eye contact with others–and he kept it. He smiled. He listened.

Majestic Theater

During conversations, Walter made comments and asked questions that showed he was hearing and listening. One day the current and two ex-mayors of the Alamo City walked by and Walter amazed me with his abilities to engage each one opportunities to express themselves without interruption.

What If You Need a Large List to Increase Sales or Potential Sales?

A sales person may mention to someone for whom has been a good customer, “I was just going through my checks, and I realized I spent over $2000 with you last year. I guess we’re really getting to depend on each other more than I knew.”

A typical question I receive is “where do you get your articles and story ideas?” They are all over, if you network properly.


You can expand networking by simply trading networks with someone else.
How big is your network? If you answered infinite, you’re
right. You’re only limited by the number of people on earth. Your network is potentially the size
of all your contacts, plus all your relatives’ contacts, your
friends’ contacts, your business associates’ contacts, and so on.

Suppose you want to introduce a new service you offer. Are you going to limit the list to the names you’ve been able to scrape together? Of course not. You’ll ask me for my list, and if I like the offer I might even ask a few other people for their lists. Instead of a few hundred names, you now have a few thousand.

Always treat anyone’s contacts with the utmost respect. Like tightrope walking, this is a system based on trust. A fall from grace, like a fall from the high wire, can be very hard to recover from.

3 Tips on Selling

🔹 Be Knowledgeable. If you want people to listen to you, you need to be an expert about the product you’re selling, about the market it exists in, and about the way it addresses the needs of your customer.

🔹Establish Rapport. Your primary responsibility is to establish a connection between the needs of the customer and the solutions that your product/service provides. It’s about them, not you. If you’re not paying attention to the customers’ needs, how could you ever accomplish that? Listen to what they’re saying. Ask questions to gain deeper understanding. Seek to build and demonstrate empathy.

🔹Build Relationships. Many people will go to online reviews to learn about your product or service. It’s amazing how much stronger leads are that come from customer referrals. Cultivating customer relationships will give you more leads, and when you listen to compliments and complaints about your offering, it will help you improve for future customers.

One final thought is to use the forever faith 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your network likely provides 80 percent of the value. What have you done for them lately?

Jack Dennis

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

HEB FOOD DRUGS

H-E-B Partners With Texas Parks and Wildlife to Conserve and Protect

As far as I can remember, H-E-B Food-Drugs, a San Antonio based company in Texas has consistently been a strong proponent and practitioner for the environment. I retired from this outstanding retailer in 2009 as head of their Facilities Management Division and saw first hand how they are regularly recognized for its commitment to environmental sustainability.

🔹In 2021, H-E-B recycled more than 636 million pounds of cardboard, plastics, office paper, food waste, metal, and truck tires.

🔹Among its endeavor to minimize waste in 2021, H-E-B recycled 54 million pounds of food into animal feed and compost and recycled 17.5 million pounds of plastic.

🔹That same year, H-E-B’s recycling efforts saved the equivalent of 11 million trees, 1.6 million barrels of oil, and enough energy to power more than 83,000 homes for an entire year.

As part of H-E-B’s Our Texas, Our Future mission, and with support from Field & Future by H-E-B brand products, the retailer is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and their efforts to conserve wildlife, habitats, and natural resources in Texas.

 - H-E-B Newsroom

H-E-B is a longtime partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability along with Field & Future by H-E-B will support efforts such as:

🔹coastal conservation along the Texas Gulf Coast,

🔹Black Bear restoration in West Texas,

🔹the establishment of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in North Texas, the state’s newest state park expected to open in 2023.  

Field & Future by H-E-B, which the company launched last year, is an environmentally minded brand of household, personal care and baby products designed to be clean and green.

The brand is made with recycled or recyclable content, biodegradable formulas or plant-based ingredients, and without over 165 harsh chemicals. Currently, there are nearly 100 Field & Future by H-E-B products on shelf, including dish soap, body wash, bath tissue, baby diapers, as well as trash bags and bags for recyclables, which are made from up to 65 percent and 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic from H-E-B facilities, respectively.

“H-E-B is an iconic Texas company, and this new partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, our official non-profit partner, is incredibly exciting,” said Texas Parks and & Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith. “It’s fitting that the Field & Future line of products will benefit conservation projects across Texas, and we’re deeply grateful for this new partnership.”

 - H-E-B Newsroom

With Earth Day around the corner, H-E-B Partners (employees) across the state are committed to taking their own steps to beautify Texas. Leading up to and following Earth Day, Partners will volunteer at outdoor events, tree plantings and community cleanups. Many H-E-B stores across the state also will host in-store events to celebrate Earth Day with their customers and communities.

Throughout the year, H-E-B works to champion sustainability initiatives throughout its own operations and across the Lone Star State.

In 2021, H-E-B became part of How2Recycle, a program that places clear, easy-to-read labels on products to let customers know if the packaging can be recycled, which parts are recyclable, and importantly, how to prepare material for recycling to reduce contamination.

The How2Recycle labels are already on more than 1,700 H-E-B branded items, which include H-E-B, Hill Country Fare, H-E-B Select Ingredients, H-E-B Organics, and Central Market.

Furthering its commitment to supporting sustainable efforts within the community, H-E-B gifted $135,000 to support the creation of a community recycling center in Ingleside. Slated to open in the summer, this will be the city’s first ever recycling center, which will service several communities near the Gulf Coast town.

“We know H-E-B and our customers have a shared commitment in protecting the land, water and air of Texas for generations to come,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs. “As H-E-B works to reduce our packaging footprint and increase packaging recyclability, we also look for ways to support community access to recycling. We’re excited to partner with Keep Texas Beautiful and the City of Ingleside to make recycling available for the first time for 65,000 Texans.”  

H-E-B customers also can support sustainability efforts through its annual donation campaign that benefits EarthShare of Texas, a nonprofit that supports more than 70 respected conservation groups. From April 13 through May 24, customers can donate $1, $3 or $5 online at heb.com or in store at checkout, which will benefit the nonprofit organization. From the donation campaign, more than $1 million has gone to support the nonprofit.

Since 2012, H-E-B has contributed more than $20 million to over 500 environmental organizations in land and water conservation, habitat and coastal preservation, and community cleanups. This includes giving more than $2 million in grants to organizations such as Keep Texas BeautifulTexas Conservation Fund, and the Nature Conservancy in Texas.


___________________________

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Act now! We use their exceptional products.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

HEB FOOD DRUGS

A Bias For Action: Procrastination is a Personal Pitfall

Read This Now, Not Later

For a number of years I taught a class called “A Bias For Action” to literally thousands of employees in classrooms, meetings and one-on-one.

It was important to make certain we had “shared expectations” and “working definitions” immediately. Hard as it might be to admit it, we sometimes put off the tough stuff in our lives and especially our job.

Some leaders would avoid confronting a direct report who isn’t performing within the new work environment. Others had a tendency to postpone projects that would test their self-confidence, abilities, comfort zone or patience. But procrastination is a leadership pitfall. Causing stress and anxiety, it sticks with you like glue until you’ve addressed it. So tackle the tough stuff first, and you’ll immediately eliminate undue stress, build your abilities, raise your comfort level, and boost self-confidence, too.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

Procrastination is the enemy. 

According to “Psychology Today,” 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. They avoid challenging tasks or addressing big issues, even seeking out opportunities for distraction.

So, what’s the big deal? Procrastination is negative and always has consequences — some direct, some indirect. These negative implications can be tangible, like a missed deadline, and intangible, such as irritability from losing sleep over an issue. It’s an enemy that affects you, your team and your company’s potential to succeed.

Addressing challenges is often easier than you think. 

Taking the first step is the hardest part, but things often go smoother after that. The classic example is when you’ve needed to address a performance issue with a direct report and been a bit worried over doing so. Then when you go to talk about it, the person is surprisingly receptive, rather than reactive, and your anxiety melts away. You think, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?” You’ve freed up your emotional and mental currency, the problem is addressed, and now you’re able to get back to and really focus on your main job.

Dealing with “it” leads to greater productivity.

Some people claim that they work better under pressure and actually use that clichéd excuse to avoid a project, problem or person. But this mindset’s repercussions can prevent and destroy productivity.

For example, maybe you’ve put off fixing some software bug because it would test your patience and take too much time. Yet the crippled system slows the daily performance of your direct reports — and then stops altogether when it crashes one day. Everyone (most notably you) now suffers big consequences. You must do (in panic mode) what you previously put off, plus repair and pay for more serious damage that’s now been done. No doubt, fixing the problem in the first place could have lessened or prevented the blow, yet one common reason people procrastinate “dealing with it” is simply because they don’t know how or where to start.

Begin by putting some ideas down on paper and then build a specific, deadline-oriented plan for tackling that tough stuff…and there will be A LOT during this time. Doing so will help you create the accountability and steps necessary for your goal achievement. And it will also help prevent further procrastination, so you can drive, rather than dodge, that critical, ever-productive change.

 6 Strategies ASAP To Keep Procrastination At Bay:

🔹Start on the day before day one. Your strategy to avoid workplace procrastination should start before your employee’s first day. Start with clear and accurate job description matched up to accurately qualified candidates, then analyze the next steps of your hiring process.

By recruiting and hiring employees that possess the right skills for the jobs at hand, you’ll get off to a good foundation in your quest to avoid procrastination pitfalls. Incorporate checkpoints in your interview questions, reference check process and in your interview testing process to look for signs that your potential new-hire has a procrastination track record.

Clarify goals and expectations. Now that you’ve done your best to hire the right employee for the right role, it’s quintessential that you set them up for success with a strong start. By communicating company-wide (as well as departmental) goals clearly and defining the expectations of the specific role, you’ll alleviate gray areas that could lead to workplace procrastination.

Make communication a two-way street. As business owners try to avoid workplace procrastination and correct it when it occurs, opening the communication lines with employees can be the greatest way to drill down on the causes. Create multiple communication vehicles to help employees communicate with management regarding issues that could lead to and improve upon workplace procrastination. This communication strategy can consist of surveys, anonymous comments boxes and push notifications via mobile app or intranet tools.

Train, train and retrain. Bake procrastination avoidance strategies into your training program for all employees. Be sure to train managers on ways to spot, address and avoid workplace procrastination issues among their teams.

Work on your company culture. A team of motivated, engaged employees feels connected to the company mission at a deeper level and less prone to procrastination. Company culture can be the edge your business operations needs to keep procrastination and all its repercussions at bay. Creating a strong culture may consist of employee recognition programs, career development opportunities as well as work life balance considerations.

🔹Trust but verify. It’s important to place trust in your team and trust your hunches regarding your business, but the importance of measurement can’t be discounted. By setting up systems to measure deadlines, productivity and detect dips before they have detrimental impacts, you will gain real visibility into your business operations. Using this data, you can avoid workplace procrastination as well as be able to quantifiably reward the positive efforts of your team.

Letting procrastination run rampant in your workplace can cost your business customers, impact your bottom line and create a negative culture. If you make smart hiring decisions, set your team up for success and measurement performance, however, you’ll be able to avoid the complications that workplace procrastination can bring.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

These Vintage Trailer Transformations Will Leave You Smiling

We love to travel and especially enjoy roadtrips across America. Since we’ve been married in 2019, the two of us–along with Mr. Beefy, our “King of the Hill Country” canine–have been to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maryland.

We also enjoyed Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia…and we’ve just started.

Both of us have peculiar little quirks of interests, individually and those we share: museums, historical sites, camping, amusement parks, birdwatching, theater, concerts and roadside attractions.

trailer3

One in particular is viewing restored pieces of history, especially trains, planes and automobiles. When it comes to restoring things from the past, such as an antique or junk someone left behind, there’s plenty of room to let the imagination run wild.

Being Baby Boomers, it’s not so hard to enjoy seeing what others have done by restoring vintage travel trailers. We hope these make you smile.

trailer4
trailer5
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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.