Monday, February 18, 2013

Fact Into Fiction And Back Again

Tucson Weather Today


Well, I tinkered a bit with my first draft but did not enact any major revision, just added a few embellishments that were suggested by a friend. There is no doubt that I will continue to redo it some more in the hope of improving it. But I am going to post it here in the blog, in the form it now stands.

By Gene Chambers

You say you want me to tell you how it was back when I was growing up in the middle of the twentieth century? Well, okay. Now let me see...

I remember the time I went down to the Iroquois river and happened to see KiKi Rizensun, the old Indian who was the last Potawatomi in the area , or so it was said. Old KiKi was swinging West along the beaten path on the South bank, at the edge of the cornfield on the Kyrkendahl property. Close on to the Babcock limestone quarry, it was.

I was just a kid, only about twelve years old, I believe. But that was near the start of the 1950s and raggedy brats like me in little farming towns like Rensselaer did a lot of runnin' wild, as it was called back then, and nobody ever thought a thing was wrong with that. My dog Dusty was with me and that's all a kid needed back in them times.

What I was thinking about just before old KiKi came loping along the path was this: When I die, when I leave this physical stage of existence, it will be to enter into a new and wondrous wider realm, not of biological consciousness as we recognize it but a state of being unknowable and completely unimaginable to the limited powers of the human mind.

Now, I know you probably think a young snot-nose like me could not think such deep thoughts, probably because I wouldn't know enough of the two-dollar words it takes to do such contemplating. But you'd be just as wrong as  you could be. There's lots and lots of us youngsters who're smarter than most adults think we are. And smarter than those same adults, too, come to think about it.

I stopped in front of that old Injun and he stopped too. KiKi didn't ever wear a feather in the dirty bandanna wrapped around his head, but I always saw one there anyway. I didn't pay any attention to the rips in the arms of his shirt or the patches sewed onto the knees of his old faded denim pants. Most of my stuff was torn and patched up, too.

"Hey there, KiKi," I hollered, because I knew he was kind of hard of hearing.

He just stood there and didn't say a thing. Just stood there and looked at me. He didn't ever talk much. I knew him because he sometimes attended the little storefront church on Washington Street where my mom made me and my brother Joe go to on Sundays. It was The Gospel Tabernacle and only poor folks went there. The rich people from town and from the countryside all went to the Presbyterian, or the Methodist, or the big Catholic Church on McKinley Street.

"Did you find anything good down by the Cattle Crossing?' I asked. The Cattle Crossing was the name of the wide shallow spot where the grazing cows crossed the river and where us kids all went to swim in the summertime. Some of the rowdies called it B-A-B, which stands for Bare Ass Beach.

KiKi still didn't say anything but kept on standing there on the path and staring down at me. He was real skinny and sometimes stood kind of stooped over, but he was pretty tall.

Dusty was being a dog, running around us in circles and nosing into us each time one of them circles brought him in close enough. He came a bit too close to KiKi once and got a swift kick for his trouble.

"Hey!" I yelled, "don't kick my dog."

"Not kick dog."

"You did too. I saw you."

He dropped to squat on his heels, still gazing at my face.

"You think you see KiKi kick dog?"

I nodded, and he said:

"A vision one time comes to KiKi . . . The red man does not see like the white man sees. The white man sees only what he believes is there. The vision of the red man is... as when one stands alone in a field in the moonless dark of midnight during a thunderstorm, unable to see anything for the blackness all around and all at once a blaze of lightning illuminates before his eyes the total landscape, one view that then seems so detailed, and this sight is that of the entire Earth presented there before him, time prolonged and kept forever in his mind, in that instant."

It seems strange to me now since I'm pretty sure KiKi didn't know that many English words, not those exact words anyhow. But that was his meaning, it seems to me.

Nevertheless, that's how I want to remember it.

Later that very day, Dusty got hit by a car speeding East along on Highway 421. The car didn't even stop, but Dusty crawled up under some bushes that were growing all  around the house there on the corner of 421 and Melville Street. I crawled in after him but he was laying there breathing real big breaths and whimpering. I tried to hug him but he whimpered louder and I thought I must be hurting him. So I let go of him and just sat there with him. Dusty was not only my dog, he was my friend.

After a while Dusty got real quiet. He stopped breathing and I knew that Dusty was dead.

I ran all the way home and got my Dad and we took his body home and we buried him in a deep hole we dug on the edge of the vegetable garden.

A few days after that, when I was spending the night at Grandma's house, I was still trying to understand about death, and I asked Grandma about it, and about Mary Belle (my little sister who'd also been killed after being hit by a car) and about the time after the war when Uncle Glen (her son) came home from German and then got killed when he was hit by a train up at Michigan City. Grandma began to cry real quiet like, and again she started telling me about how we would be seeing Mary Belle and Uncle Glen again one day in Heaven. And I asked her, "Dusty too?"

I don't remember exactly what she said about that but she probably just said, "Yes, Dusty too."

Uh-huh, that's what she told me. Grown ups always tried to say whatever they thought a guy wanted to hear.

Later that evening I was telling them about the Science Fiction story I had read where men went to the moon and did lots of adventurous things. Grandpa laughed and told me that nobody could ever go to the moon, because the moon wasn't really there, it was just a reflection from the sun, and when I asked him what the sun was reflecting off of he said it was reflecting off of the sky.

Several years later, around July 20, 1969, I asked Grandma (Grandpa was gone by then) if she remembered his telling me that.

She said she did.

(Copyright 2013 Gene Chambers)



On this day, February 18 in 1885, Mark Twain published his famous -- and famously controversial -- novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Though Twain saw Huck's story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South.

Antebellum refers to the period before a war, especially the American Civil War. The Antebellum South is typically defined by historians as the period of time between the War of 1812 and the American Civil War.

Aside from its controversial nature and its continuing popularity with young readers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been hailed by many serious literary critics as a masterpiece. No less a judge than Ernest Hemingway famously declared that the book marked the beginning of American literature: "There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."


The Writer's Almanac has an interesting article regarding The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.



apotheosis [a-pahth-ee-OH-suhs]
-  the elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.
-  the ideal example; epitome; quintessence.

1.  the elevation of a person to the rank of a god; deification
2.  glorification of a person or thing.
3.  a glorified ideal.
4.  the best or greatest time or event: ex: the apotheosis of De Niro's career.
--World English Dictionary

Apotheosis (also called divinization and deification) is the glorification of a subject to divine level. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.

In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature. In art, the term refers to the treatment of any subject (a figure, group, locale, motif, convention or melody) in a particularly grand or exalted manner.



Vanna White
Born Feb 18, 1957
Age:  55 years old

Vanna White (born Vanna Marie Rosich) is an American television personality and film actress best known as the hostess of Wheel of Fortune since 1982.

Born Feb 18, 1954
Age:   58 years old

John Joseph Travolta is an American actor, dancer, and singer. Travolta first became known in the 1970s, after appearing on the television series Welcome Back, Kotter and starring in the box office successes Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Travolta's acting career declined through the 1980s. His career enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s with his role in Pulp Fiction, and he has since continued starring in Hollywood films, including Face/Off, Ladder 49, and Wild Hogs. Travolta was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance in Get Shorty.

Born Feb 18, 1968
Age:  44 years old

Molly Kathleen Ringwald is an American actress, singer, dancer, and author. Having appeared in the John Hughes films Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), and Pretty in Pink (1986), Ringwald is part of the 80's "Brat Pack" and is frequently named the greatest teen star of all time. She currently plays Anne Juergens in the ABC Family show The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

Born Feb 18, 1950
Age:  62 years old

Cybill Lynne Shepherd is an American actress, singer and former model. Her better known roles include starring as Jacy in The Last Picture Show (1971), as Betsy in Taxi Driver (1976), as Maddie Hayes in Moonlighting (1985–1989), as Cybill Sheridan in Cybill (1995–1998), as Phyllis Kroll in The L Word (2007–2009) and as Madeleine Spencer in Psych (2008–2010).


No, it's not a very good story - its author was too busy listening to other voices to listen as closely as he should have to the one coming from inside.
--Stephen King


Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.
--E. L. Doctorow


  1. Gene, As I read this tale, I found myself right there with this child. I could feel the dusty, innocent sweat that a roaming child accepts as part of a magic universe yet to be fully explored. My favorite scene is the one that describes the kid crawling under the porch to stay beside Dusty and bear witness to his pal's death. Kiki's comment, ". . . time prolonged and kept forever in his mind, in that instant." sets, for me, the premise of what could become a series of interlocked tales that may be autobiographical in nature, but universal in their application. If you should choose to write more of these, I'd one day love to read the entirety published. I can see such a series playing out as the young boy grows into adulthood. Well done, sir.

  2. Thank you, Anthony. As I think you know, I give a lot of weight to your insights, suggestions, and other comments concerning my scribblings. I find it coincidental that you should suggest such a collection of stories meant for publication. It has been my half-baked intention to write just such a series of these recollections for a long time, but I wanted to do it in a non-standard manner, and now I believe I am ready.