Songs to aging children*

January 19th, 2015 by John Morris

Today the friends and the family of a good man gathered to remember his life.

People met Randall “Randy” Shaeffer and were usually taken in by him.  He was personable, witty and quick of tongue.  However, he lived nearly alone on his island called the Brandywine Hall’s Alzheimer’s ward, first floor.  Randy did not have AD, but he shared the need for 24/7 care.  He was in his 50s and younger by decades than the others.  He was one of a small number able to communicate. Each day brought challenges to keep his wits about him.  I’m sure he looked forward to talking with all visitors.  His island was a little less deserted then. 

Randy knew nearly everyone at “the Hall”.  His self-imposed avocation was to be the fly on the wall.  He kept an eye out, and then he spoke up for the many who could not.  He would tell me about his latest “talking to” from the suits.  I think he enjoyed this slightly naughty pleasure. 

The print media would find Randy whenever they’d visit the hall.  It was a matter of natural attraction (reporters seeking the right story).  His story was one of courage few of us will attain.  The better writers made his humor and humanity soak the pages.  

Randy always had the latest skinny.  Unfortunately it was usually about who had passed.  Sad as it was, it gave us all closure about people who brushed up against our lives.  The usual response was a sense of relief that these folks are now at peace.  

Randall Shaeffer let me know a little bit about his former live.  He worked at F. H. Swisher’s Plumbing for nearly three decades.  He was the same merrymaker there he was at Brandywine Hall.  His former co-workers come into Maxwell’s Hardware and tell me stories with Randy at the core. 

This is the snapshot I’ll leave with you about my late friend, Randy Shaeffer. 

Life dealt a really bad hand to Randy.  In a wheelchair at young age, there were times when he struggled to talk.  His body was always breaking down.  Despite these crushing problems, he’d keep his spirit up and spread good will and cheer to all who ventured to his island and spoke with the “Mayor of Brandywine Hall.”

* song title by Joni Mitchell


Marijuana can be a buzz kill.

January 17th, 2015 by John Morris

If your bliss is to be either a comic or a writer, steer clear of marijuana. I know there are many who will disagree with me on this, and their views on the matter can be added to this blog in the form of “comments”.

Here are my top three arguments to support this bold statement.

Argument #1: Buddy Hackett said smoking weed stalled his work ethic.. He said he smoked it every day for one year straight. After the year was over, he realized he had not written as much as one new joke, and his career had been in neutral all the time.

Argument #2:  When you’re stoned, you’ll think anything you do write is either funny or profound. If you present this new material and you’re still buzzed, nothing changes except the audience who may not follow you on your trips.

Argument #3:  Once you’ve forsaken the bong and Zig Zag papers, you buckled down; worked diligently and are ready to spread the good times. Be sure to stay away from audiences who will laugh or applaud anything because they’re buzzed. Even your bad stuff will get giggles and snorts. How can you be sure your latest efforts have any real value?




The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.