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Postcard from the End of America: Don Hensley in Huntingburg, Indiana
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Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I’ve prowled around Gary, relaxed in New Harmony and explored downtown Indianapolis after midnight. There is a bronze statue of John Wooden. Kneeling and suited, the basketball coach is surrounded by five young pairs of male legs, their bodies disappearing above the pelvis. It is very creepy and gay. One of these days, I must barge into the dismal looking Whistle Stop, just across the street from Indianapolis’ Greyhound station. I need to see more of Indiana, that’s for sure.

In New Harmony, I ate a brain sandwich at the Yellow Tavern, then gave a talk about utopia at the opera house. Out of towners and locals were equally receptive. I concluded, “Why this fear of the unmediated experience, the direct experience? Maybe we can’t stand how beautiful life really is. I think the way to move forward is to say no to these interruptions, to these barriers. It might not be utopia but it’s better than what we have right now.”

The one friend I have in Indiana, I haven’t met in person. On July 31st, 2015, 62-year-old Don Hensley emailed to say he appreciated my articles. Then, “Our family farm is gone and I’m the last from the old homestead. Dad made me and my twin brother promise to find any other job but farming. He used to joke that the only certain way he knew to become a millionaire farming was to start out with $10M… You’ve made me shed a tear more than once, but I’m left feeling that I’ve met people I never would have. Home, a job, family and food on the table is really all most of us hope for out of life.”

Our subsequent email conversation has revealed a world I know so little about, being a city dweller for most of my life. With automation, fewer farm hands are needed than ever, and most of those who are still bent over under the sun are fresh arrivals from Latin America, Jamaica and even Thailand. Indoctrinated into the semantics of cement and asphalt, most Americans are entirely divorced from animal logics, fresh manure and plant husbandry. Even growing tomatoes has become a mystery, much less plucking and gutting a chicken.

Don is retired and lives with his wife, Deb, in Huntingburg, six miles from Dale, where he was born. His remembrances are too interesting not to share. With a pair of dollar store scissors and Elmer’s glue, I’ve cut and pasted them into this configuration:

“Some of my fondest memories are of the little tin-roofed log cabin Dad let us build back in the woods. We built a small sandstone fireplace outside, the pot-bellied stove was just for cold weather.

No honor could be bestowed on me to compete with the feeling of sitting in my favorite spot with beans & franks simmering near the fire while reading a book and listening to the baby squirrels run up and down the tree at my back while a mama rabbit and her little ones watched from just a few feet away.

I’ve never been in any religious institution that felt more hallowed than that little woods during a heavy snow. 🙂

Heavy lifting for me started at the age of 10. During the winter Dad kept the cattle’s access to the water trough penned off. That was so that they wouldn’t get hurt in the frozen muck around it (that’s what you have kids for) so that meant we had to water them at night when we got home from school (Dad worked swing shift at ALCOA). At that age I only weighed about 70lbs. A 5 gallon bucket of water is about 40lbs so that meant that each trip I was carrying about my body weight to the barn through about 12″-16″ of a mixture of slush/mud/cowsh*t that wanted to pull your boot off with each step. Dad always kept around 100 head of cattle, that’s a lot of thirsty animals when they’ve gone all day without water. Since my brother was the ‘chosen twin,’ you can imagine who pretty well always made the most trips.

Picking up hay, I was on the wagon handling every bale while my brother walked along with the guys from town grabbing every 6th or 7th. Back at the barn it was the same. I fed the elevator while Danny was in the loft. On a 100 degree day the peak of a hayloft is about 7 degrees hotter than H*ll!

Every time I ever brought up getting any kind of pay, I always got the same smart-*ss remark, ‘You ate breakfast this morning, didn’t you?’

I’ve lost track of how many malignant skin tumors I’ve had removed, as well as two basal cell carcinomas and three squamous cell carcinomas on my scalp and face from all the years in the sun.

My nose was broken three times before I started the first grade at 5 years old. Dad had told me early in life that I wasn’t welcome when he and Danny left for the day to go to farm sales and auctions. That left me at home with a psychopathic b*tch many times my size that always said that if I wasn’t going with my father and brother, I d*mned sure wasn’t sitting on my lazy *ss.

Mom used to stand behind me as I washed dishes and critique every piece before it was allowed to go into the strainer. A fleck of food between the teeth of a fork or on the back of a plate got me a mixing spoon or whatever was handy.

ORDER IT NOW

It’s taken me many years to come to grips with it. Knowing that you are messed up is one thing, knowing why is another… I really AM a spiritual person, so when people heavily into the Bible want to give me words of encouragement, I accept them because of the intent in which they’re given…

My last breakdown (my 3rd) was considered a medical miracle. It kept a 5 or 6 man team working around the clock to try to figure out. My wife Deb was under tremendous pressure early on the third day to sign the papers and let them turn the machines off. They kept insisting that once you go to less than 5% brain stem function, there is no coming back. My only prognosis was as a vegetable… Then, once again, I came back after six days of being ‘brain dead.’ The lead doctor made the remark that, since they had no answers as to the beginning of the episode or the recovery, he was totally fine with the word miracle.

The years of beatings and physical and emotional abuse left me damaged, absolutely… Under periods of great stress I go into what they call a dissociative disorder and the change is so subtle that only a very few that know me are even aware of it.

You ask about animal cruelty. The general public is unaware that what is seen in the mainstream media is almost always in connection with ‘factory farming.’ Sometimes, religion is also partly to blame. A man who holds the conviction that we are to have dominion over all the animals of Creation isn’t going to form emotional attachments to any of his livestock. By the same token, an employee at a factory farm holds no more value in a turkey/hog/cow/horse than a furniture factory employee does a center drawer or a modesty panel. It is the slow death of the family farm that is creating the kind of environment that leads to incidents like what you’ve seen in the news.

None of the cattle on our farm had any way of knowing it, but they all lived on a ‘Cow Country Club’ in comparison to most other farms. During warm weather they were cycled through three different pastures each with fresh water from a creek and plenty of shade. They could still come to the barn to take advantage of the salt block and mineral block as well as use the back scratcher apparatus that had a large hemp rope saturated with an oily insect repellent to deal with the spots bugs like to bite where a cow couldn’t reach with their tail. There was also always some kind of hay in the mangers. For instance, to them, the stubble left after soybeans have been harvested was like a candy treat. Dad would bale it so during the summer they had variety in their diet that they also happened to love (unlike factory farm beef which has little room to move around and is only fed corn). Two other things they looked forward to were the ground corn cobs Dad would buy at the mill in bulk (& which I got to help shovel onto the truck) and, believe it or not, they loved to see that Deb and I were coming down to camp. After we’d packed up and gone home, Dad would let them into the woods for a day or two and every bit of ashes from our camp fire would be gone. There are some kind of minerals in the ashes that cows crave to the point of fighting over!

The news footage of factory farm abuse is much more upsetting when you have first hand knowledge of just how intelligent some livestock are. We had one heifer we named Curly because of her forehead and she was far too bright for her own good. Dad had one of the old electric fences that are illegal now. They called them ‘weed-burners’ for good reason. The hair on my arms is standing up as I type this just at the memory… If you pulled up something green that was long enough to drop over the wire and still have one end grounded, it would sit there and sizzle until it had burned all the way through your weed.

Dad sent Curly to market because she figured out that after a driving wind with rain she could walk the electric fence and put her ear down by the glass insulator on the metal post. If she heard buzzing, she knew the wire was still ‘hot.’ When she found one that was silent, she knew the fence had shorted out and would walk down a bit and then just walk through the fence knocking it to the ground. After one too many times of rounding up his cattle in a neighbor’s crops during a summer storm, Curly lost a good home.

Just something to think about the next time you see a news item about livestock abuse. They are far more self-aware than a lot of people realize.

Farmers have to be a combination of veterinarian/accountant/lawyer/weatherman & have a working knowledge of a slew of other fields that don’t come to mind at the moment, yet they’re held in such low regard. A foreman I used to work under insisted that ALL farmers were much more wealthy than they’d ever let on. A direct quote… ‘I’ve never heard a G*d D*mned farmer admit that he’d had a GOOD year!’

People would steal from farmers and think nothing of it. Anybody living in town would go nuts if a farmer parked out front and stripped an entire row of vegetables from their garden or carefully selected blooms from their landscaping to put together a bouquet for his wife’s birthday or their anniversary, but each “corn on the cob season,” 8 to 10 rows of corn would be stripped from the nothern edge of Dad’s field. People from town would fill an entire car trunk with ears of corn and feel no guilt because Dad obviously ‘had plenty.’

ORDER IT NOW

I’ve had a deep dislike for Bill Maher after the night (several years ago) when he quipped on CNN’s Larry King Live, ‘I’ve never understood why farmers should get special treatment just because they happen to live in the middle of a big garden.’

Guess he thinks all that happens by itself, just like magic. If he had to buy the building, furnishing, media equipment and all the other necessities in order to get paid to sit and smirk at the camera, I might have a little respect for him. As it is, I just figure he’s not getting enough fiber in his diet…

We have a nationally known poultry processing plant just outside Huntingburg. Over the years I’ve heard some pretty gruesome stories from guys that have worked there (like sticking gross things inside the giblets package, spitting phlegm or tobacco juice into the body cavity). The worst, though, is something that the ‘hangers’ (the guys that take the birds out of the truck and hang them by the ankles on the brackets on the chain feeding them into the plant) know is impossible to get caught at unless someone in authority sees you do it. If a bird fights back and the hanger is mad at it he will grab it by the wings with it facing away from him and jerk back, breaking its spine and making it impossible to carve. If you get one of those turkeys all you can do is pull the meat off the bones with your fingers. The ribs will be splayed outward in some places and in at others.

I’ve never hunted and the only fishing I enjoy is catch and release. I have never been in a (physical) fight in my life. There have been shouting matches and times that I was pushed and threatened but I’ve always found a way to somehow either defuse the situation or vacate the area. One of the reasons all the present day violent talk gets to me so much is the idea of having to seriously hurt someone else in defense of myself or my family.

At graduation (1970), I enrolled at United Electronics Institute in Louisville, KY. You did the first six months by mail and only those who met the grade requirements got to finish out the last year and a half down there. My grades were near perfect, but Dad informed me that he not only didn’t believe in college but didn’t believe in going into debt to go, either. So I lost all of the money I’d saved up by picking up hay for other local farmers for 50 to 75 cents an hour. I would have been perfectly positioned for the coming tech revolution…. 🙁

I worked for Insight Systems. Part of the reason I was hired was because of all the modding I had done on my Atari computers. At a time when a new IBM compatible only came with 256K of memory and a monitor that let you display two colors (as long as one of them was black [Big Grin], I’d already heavily modified my Atari 400. I replaced the membrane keyboard with a third party, full-stroke keyboard and tripled the internal memory (16K to 48K). Once I proved to my boss that even the first little 16K Atari could put 256 colors on a TV by running a simple little ten line BASIC program, he offered me a job.

Other than about 4 years when I did IT support, I got trapped in the furniture industry much like those in Detroit fell into the black hole of the auto industry (without the benefits of anything like the UAW…). Now I just get by on SSD with too many physical problems to mention. It isn’t as if I wasn’t industrious or hungry, I’ve been a lead-man, a foreman and the Customer Service Manager of a local Value Added Reseller.

What it comes down to is something that I was told about 30 years ago… ‘Your Life will be much simpler once you accept the fact that we are all Dixie Cups. Nobody in their right mind ever patches a Dixie Cup. They are a dime a dozen. Throw it away and get another…!’ 🙁

My wife’s cousin and her husband both have taken bus routes to supplement their farm’s income. Around here drivers are locked in at the beginning of the school year and there have been times when, because of fluctuations in fuel prices, they have lost money every time they start a bus. My wife and I don’t know anyone who isn’t struggling in one way or another. Maybe that’s why I appreciate your articles so much.

The recession during the Carter years was brutal. Many people today don’t know that the country went through a financial crisis during the late Nixon – Carter years that the country has never recovered from. Double digit inflation is something that doesn’t reset after a recovery. I am much more than sad for what has happened to our country, I am heartbroken.

They were hard times but I still marvel at the change we’ve had in our country. My pay grade was 2nd from the bottom yet a family of three could live on my 40 hour check. Years ago Deb found our old budget box and we could feed three on $13 a week. I filled up my 1965 Plymouth Fury III for a shade over $25 once a month (25 gallon gas tank). Even at that, though, we were falling behind. We had all the bills everybody else does and there was more going out than coming in. I finally swallowed my pride and went to check on some kind of assistance. We got turned down four times!

That’s when I got stubborn, broke out my guitar and started doing every pickup job I could find. When I had my first nervous breakdown I was 6’1” and weighed 118lbs.

Maybe I should have sent back that big $25 wedding present Mom & Dad gave us for a rainy day…

ORDER IT NOW

We struggled to live within our means. That usually meant we were broke by Saturday morning. Everybody I owed money to got SOMETHING and that meant there were weeks when we had literally less than $5 to live on. For the first ten years we were married we got by with a 13” Western Auto TV. (Yeah, I know… Wish I still had it. They’re collector’s items now!)

Deb knew before we were married that I would never be wearing a wedding band… I know three farmers that lost their ring fingers in accidents. Just in case you don’t keep up with the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon recently tripped at home and caught his ring on the counter on the way to the floor. He was very, very lucky they could save it. None of the guys I know had that chance.

A ring is just a ring and my guitar meant too much to me to risk just because of a tradition. On our 30th anniversary I offered to have one tattooed on, but she didn’t like the idea.

Reading about Bernie Sanders having his speech hijacked reminded me that I’ve been wanting to write you about my thoughts on the young lady (black rapper) and her comments about hating America and those ‘white farmers sitting out there in the Midwest.’

[On August 8th 2015, two belligerent Black Lives Matter activists prevented Sanders, our most liberal presidential candidate, from delivering a speech in Seattle. As for the rapper, Don is referring to 23-year-old Azeala Banks. Interviewed by Playboy, she declares, “I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms.”]

I have no animus toward her because our life experience has been so different that we might as well live on different planets. How could I possibly be mad at someone I will never meet just because there’s no way she’ll ever have a clue?

Ever since our oldest grandson first came home from college wanting to lecture everyone about our ‘White Privilege’ it’s been a pet peeve of mine. He’s now 25 and out of college. He’s always been bright.

The first time that we had a conversation that I filed away for future reference was when he’d just started his freshman year of high school. I don’t remember exactly which celebration it was, but we were enjoying the visit and chatting about all the usual stuff. Someone brought up a topic that included taxation and I’d just said how I felt about it when he looked up at me and said, ‘Grandpa… Goods and services cost money.’

This insight was delivered as if the thought had never occurred to me. I just made a mental note that we’d reached a milestone in his growth, but I said nothing to discourage him. The only advice that I give without reservation and often is that, should you find yourself in the presence of someone claiming to have all the answers, run like H*ll the other way because you are talking to either a willful liar or a fool!

I was taken aback the first time I was ‘made aware’ of the fantastic boon that my White Privilege had been in my life. I wish I could remember where I read this quote, because it couldn’t be more appropriate than describing what passes for a ‘Higher Learning’ in 2015 America. ‘After a certain point, education becomes indistinguishable from indoctrination.’

My twin brother and I graduated from high school in 1970. There were still lynching and other atrocities happening as we moved up from grade school. The memory of the country during the ‘60s is still fresh in my mind.

Just so you understand the irony, shortly after seeing Hendrix perform at Robert’s Stadium in Evansville, Indiana in ‘70 I moved to Nashville hoping to find a miracle. A tiny miracle would have suited me just fine. Between the Musicians’ Union and the good ol’ boy network, I couldn’t even find someone to let me sweep a studio floor!

It wasn’t a total washout, though. In short order I made some friends. I met three black brothers (actual siblings) in CentennialPark during a weekend music festival. We became close friends and they were a tremendous help because I had no car and if I had I probably would have become hopelessly lost, anyway.

After a while I got the chance to meet their younger sister. We were the same age and Nashville suddenly became a much more enjoyable place to be visiting. With very little money, I couldn’t invite her out for much but it was nice to have a pretty girl to share a pizza with or catch a movie.

Oh yeah, remember that ‘White Privilege’ things. B-U-L-L-S-H-*-T!!!! A majority of what my grandson was telling me has absolutely to connection to Nashville in 1970.

Depending on where we went, her big brothers either made it known they had my back or wound up making it VERY clear to someone that messing with their sister meant messing with them. Having chaperons is not always a bad thing. Besides, we were just friends and we both knew that however long it lasted, it would still be temporary.

Telling me about how I can walk anywhere I want because of my skin color is ludicrous. When we went to the youth center, her brothers even told me that they had my back, but not to take it personal if they seemed a little different. If anything happened, they’d step up in a heartbeat but I should watch myself, anyway. There were only three or four other white guys there but I wound up mostly just losing at pool with some friends of theirs and sitting at the booth nursing a soft drink.

The inevitable finally happened… I got to meet Yvonne’s dad. I hadn’t PLANNED on meeting her dad and he SURE hadn’t wanted to meet me!! We reached an agreement in short order and my Privilege didn’t afford me the chance to even tell her goodbye…

ORDER IT NOW

I know now it wasn’t true, but hearing that Hendrix had died of a drug overdose was like a kick to the gut. ‘So how do you feel about your hero now? F*cked up, didn’t he?’ Those *ssholes I roomed with had to turn on the radio before I would believe them. I went to the closest liquor store and bought a six-pack of Colt 45 tall boys and sat up listening to the marathon tribute a local stations was playing.

That was it for me as far as Nashville was concerned. I had to get out of there. When I called Mom & Dad about getting back to Indiana, Dad said that if I’d come back he’d get me a full-time job working for a local farmer.

Sometimes it feels like my entire life has been one long ‘Good News/Bad News’ joke… Yeah, Dad had a job lined up. I went to work for an elderly farmer and his wife who had a small farm on the county line. It was eight hours a day, five days a week for $1 an hour. Thankfully they were wonderful people and his wife fix noon meals that were so good they should have been illegal. But then Friday came and my ‘White Privilege’ kicked in again. Mom was waiting at the door and deducted rent, laundry, groceries and utilities from that $40 check! By the time I put gas in my motorcycle, I worked all week in the dirt and the heat for $3 or $4 a week! Oh Yeah, and I was still ‘Privileged’ to pick up hay for free whenever Dad baled.

When my wife & I got married our ‘wedding gift’ was $25. 🙁 I WILL NOT stand and let someone lecture me about how I don’t know what it’s like to be oppressed and taken advantage of.

There’s no need to list cliches our grandson came home reciting. I’m sick of hearing them and seeing them all over the media and even sicker of the idea that college takes bright young minds and sends back well indoctrinated malcontents that have forgotten what they originally went for in the first place! He’d wanted a career related to oceanography but came home a self-styled econo-anarchist, whatever the H*ll that’s supposed to be. He lists his current occupation as ‘Struggle & Resist’!

Every person I meet is treated as a potential friend until they show me otherwise. I don’t intentionally hurt anyone and am quick to sincerely apologize if I accidentally offend someone. That’s really all you can do. The past is behind. How can we ever see the kind of future that the likes of Dr. King envisioned if

we’re always looking behind instead of forward? This country is in for some really, really rough times…

The next time you are on a bus trip do keep an eye out for something. When we are on the road and I see a pile of weathered wood and rusted tin that used to be the barn roof sitting next to a bleak little house still bravely trying to stand and surrounded by crops with no lane going back to it, my heart always breaks a little. There was a time when those paint-less grey walls contained all of someone’s hopes and dreams and the wall echoed with laughter and the slap of bare baby steps…

That is another reason I avoid big cities. I see the rows of run down houses crammed together, most likely owned by some slumlord who has as little respect for the houses as he does the people renting from him, and the thought of trying to have a life and family without ever having a place that felt truly your home is so oppressive I can feel it eating away at my spirit.

It really is my idea of H*ll on Earth and I wish with all my heart that I were a wise enough man to have some answers.”

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Farming, Poverty 
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  1. “American Gothic” was painted by Grant Wood, not by Norman Rockwell.

  2. Hacienda says:

    You’re not a dixie cup. That’s the loser mentality and road to the enslavement of you, your race, and citizens.

    If you feel and behave as a dixie cup, you should do everyone a tremendous favor and at the very least drop out, stop trying, stop paying taxes, stop sustaining e-corporatism.

    I would much prefer people like this be my enemy than attempt to befriend me.

  3. J1234 says:

    Azeala Banks. Interviewed by Playboy, she declares, “I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms.”

    Isn’t black America fatter than white America? As in a lot fatter?

    Yeah, I think so:

    http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/adult-overweightobesity-rate-by-re/

    • Replies: @Hacienda
  4. Jimmy says:

    A moving commentary, good point about the Carter years, that’s where the flyover country
    became the veritable slowly boiled frogs.

    Meanwhile, Black lives matter appears to be a publicity stunt, it doesn’t begin to address inequality in any academic way, instead it has effectively marketed racism. That’s probably a good thing, but it is marginal and doesn’t dare threaten “H*ll on earth” or the status quo. The pseudo-left are relentless, like a 24/7 infomercial selling peace while their are wars underway.

  5. Hacienda says:
    @J1234

    It’s fun to make fun of fat people, but gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins for some very good reasons. You take a serious blow to health, looks, sociability, dexterity, balance, comfort, peace of mind, a harmony with the environment, when you’re fat. An entire nation of fat people is a pretty awful thing.

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    What a remarkable, heartbreaking memory and story, yet uplifting in its display of common truth and decency, that it still even exists. Mr. Linh Dinh is a writer of ordinary life in America. Like “Humans of New York” in photography, showing us faces we have never seen before, but pass every day, Dinh allows us hear voices long unheard in the deafness of our time. His work needs to be more widely known.

  7. @Hacienda

    Obviously, you didn’t spend much time trying to fully understand the point I was trying to make. Either I was too subtle or you are the rare individual that can hold a regular job while presenting the attitude, “I’m the B*st M-F punching the clock & I really should be doing your job!”

    That would be amazing…. In all my years, that you would make you the first I know of to cop that kind of attitude and still draw a (literal) check, let alone be allowed to work a second day/week.

    I don’t have time for anyone who picks and chooses from people they’ve never met to create an enemies list, but I whole-hardheartedly accept your invitation to be a “non-friend”.

    • Replies: @guest
    , @Hacienda
  8. guest says:
    @Don the stupid Farmboy

    Having seen several of Hacienda’s hundreds of head-scratching comments on this site, I wouldn’t take this one personally, or even seriously. Your eloquent essay is, for the serial commenter, just another fire hydrant in a dogged life spent on the internet. They feel validated by your expressed annoyance. Craftier than most, Hacienda strives to foul off pitches just to stay in the batter’s box.

    Please continue to share your insights. For every Hacienda, there are many here who care what you have to say.

    • Replies: @Hacienda
    , @J Yan
    , @J1234
  9. Hacienda says:
    @guest

    If I confuse you, it’s probably because I don’t have an agenda, ideology, or even a clear racial/ethnic sympatico.”A troll”. I mostly just react to what’s in front of me. But that doesn’t mean I’m fouling off pitches.

    I’ve read a couple of your posts. You like to play the wise guy. About 3 steps into chess moves. But not 4 or deeper. Impressive to people who can only see 2 moves ahead. But there are players here who see 5 or deeper.

  10. J Yan says:
    @guest

    Henceforth on unz.com, I will adopt the credo “Better a stupid farmboy than a Sailer fanboy.”

  11. Hacienda says:
    @Don the stupid Farmboy

    You see that’s the difference between you and me. You think in order for someone to take a stand
    there must be floor underneath them for them to risk things.

    No floor. I just don’t hold jobs that I despise.

  12. J1234 says:
    @guest

    I agree. Hacienda’s logic isn’t very easily applied to most things that deal with reality.

  13. @Hacienda

    Just goes to show that you don’t know me well enough to make assumptions…

    You may not require a floor. That may mean that you either have nobody else depending on you or, possibly, that you are comfortable letting someone else supply the necessities for them while you wait for a dream job to appear.

    I don’t think in terms of a floor so much as I do core principles that I refuse to compromise. With three small children to feed, there were times when (if jobs were scarce)I would find out who did the hiring at a given company and then find a way to bump into them away from work. Instead of an application or a resume one short conversation often led to keeping food on the table. My pitch was, “Give me the job that nobody else wants and thirty days. If you are unhappy with my performance during that time, you won’t have to fire me I’ll just go away.” My kids never went hungry and the bills were all paid.

    That said, I DO have my limits. The reason my career in IT ended (as well as any chance of completing my degree) was that a time came when my Employer/Professor ordered me to let another student code my end of semester assignments because he couldn’t “afford” the time away from the office. He got my two week notice right then and there.

    We all have our lives to live and each of us will handle some things differently than others.

    If I can make the decision not to hate the man who killed my twin brother simply out of carelessness, then I surely don’t have any ill will toward you. We just disagree. There’s no point in trying to get into my head, there’s barely room in here for ME! 😉

    • Replies: @james ennis
    , @Clyde
  14. @J Yan

    I try to emulate another Southern Indiana boy, Red Skelton. He said, “I love everybody, even my enemies. After all, I made ’em!” 😉

  15. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Click here to hear Don Hensley sing “Kaiser Miller Grocery Store.”

    • Replies: @Don Hensley
  16. I wish Don Henley were one of my friends. I’ve known a small number like him and they’ve enriched my life beyond measure. These people have been the bedrock of this country. As they become fewer we are tottering and it looks like others like them are not in our future.

    • Replies: @Don Hensley
  17. @Linh Dinh

    Just a slight correction (my fault). Due to a small miscommunication on my part, Linh got the impression “Kaiser & Miller” was my song. It is about a little mom & pop grocery store that used to be just around the corner a block south of us.

    “Kaiser & Miller” is actually by a friend of mine that I kind of mentored back when he was a little squirt. His name is David Wayne Mathias and the album is called “They’re There.”

  18. @Jus' Sayin'...

    Thank you for the nice compliment. We’d probably have some fun conversations. One of my “Don-isms” is “Try to give a smile to at least one stranger every day. They cost nothing but always pay dividends.”

  19. @Hacienda

    Hacienda said, “You’re not a dixie cup. That’s the loser mentality and road to the enslavement of you, your race, and citizens.

    If you feel and behave as a dixie cup, you should do everyone a tremendous favor and at the very least drop out, stop trying, stop paying taxes, stop sustaining e-corporatism.

    I would much prefer people like this be my enemy than attempt to befriend me.”
    ——————————————————-
    It has occurred to me that we got off on the wrong foot because the natural human response to an unexpected, abrasive, in-your-face reply is to defend yourself, although I do try to do it in a reasonable way…

    Apparently you automatically took that Dixie Cup remark as coming from a supervisor. It was from a co-worker in regard to the attitude of employers. Sort of a way of telling me to take care of myself because They wouldn’t…

    To any business, you are considered nothing but one more part of the bigger picture, just one more necessary expense on the way to providing a product and making a profit. When you clock in at the start of your shift and clock out at the end, as far as they are concerned you have sold that many hours of your life for whatever it is they pay you.

    You made the remark, “I just don’t hold jobs that I despise.”

    I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but They Don’t Care! In 48 hours or less someone else will be filling your spot.

    The same applies for a job that you just love the living sh*t out of… The minute that the decision is made that you are costing more than you produce, you will be shown the door.

    It’s a good thing to have healthy self-esteem and take pride in your abilities, but don’t kid yourself. When all is said and done, you are no more valuable than any other piece of inventory that the company needs to operate. There is a reason why the office that does the hiring, does the firing and calls you in for absenteeism or insubordination is called “Human Resources”!

    Are we clear now?

    • Replies: @Hacienda
  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Good read. As a Hoosier myself I feel like I’ve met folks like Don before. Now, if you REALLY want to see what the “End of America” looks like, come here to Bloomington!

  21. Hacienda says:
    @Don the stupid Farmboy

    I’m clear about this:

    California >>> Indiana. Wall Street >>> Indiana. Las Vegas >>> Indiana
    Chicago >>> Indiana.

    Price of living in a SMALL state. I’m from Indiana. Hoosiers are going through some growing pains.
    BOUT time!

  22. I liked that article, thanks for publishing it.

    On the white privilege thing, what it meant originally is simply that you have certain unearned advantages as a white person that are mostly invisible (unnoticed). It does not mean that you’re better off than all nonwhite people.

    So even the poorest, lowest class white has white privilege. That fact is irrefutable; even pro-white activists like Jared Taylor accept it (though not in those words). What’s questionable are the conclusions that people like your grandson draw from it. Those conclusions are very questionable.

    This comment is meant respectfully. I liked your story.

  23. I grew up in the Midwest. My grandparents used to go for a Sunday drive and sometimes pick a couple ears of corn from a cornfield, but they would leave a quarter for every ear of corn they took.

    Thinking about that now I’m not sure the farmer would have appreciated it, but the intention was good.

    • Replies: @Don Hensley
  24. @Don the stupid Farmboy

    Your tale of hard work for no pay and missed educational opportunities is very familiar to me. I grew up on a family farm too.

    p.s. Did your twin get the farm and how did he get on in life?

    • Replies: @Don Hensley
  25. @Aaron Gross

    In the original context, the phrase probably had positive value for our society. It’s kind of snowballed into something far more than what was originally meant. Now I see articles claiming that not acknowledging skin color (color-blind) is a form of passive aggressive racism.

    If I need to make a quick run into the drugstore of grocery, I don’t acknowledge every white I meet so I may offend someone of color occasionally and not know it. If I let the lady behind me have my place in line because she has just one item, it isn’t because of color it’s because it’s the polite thing to do.

    I DO try to give as many smiles as possible and my wife and I always say, “Thank You” to the employee at the register. I wouldn’t hazard a guess at how many people’s eyes have lit up and told me that was the first time anyone had said that.

  26. @Aaron Gross

    That was a very fair price back then. I hope they set it on something obvious so that it didn’t get buried when he tilled the field. 😉

    • Replies: @Aaron Gross
  27. @Aaron Gross

    Yes, no doubt, there is “white privilege” but there are so many privileges and deprivations that it is impossible to sort them all out. I guess you are basically saying this when you aver that “[White privilege] does not mean that you’re better off than all nonwhite people.”

    Do “good genes” of whatever kind count as an “unearned advantage?” From a genetic point of view, everything we are is “unearned” whether advantageous or disadvantageous.

    Does blackness count as a privilege in Africa? Or yellowness in East Asia? Is Anglo-Americanness a privilege wrt German or Italian Americans? Is the ability to change the law to allow dual passports a Jewish privilege?

    What truth there is in the concept of “white privilege” is overwhelmed by its use as propagandistic tool to gain political rhetorical advantage.

  28. @james ennis

    I’m not sure what will happen with the farm… Mom passed away over Easter and my sister and b-i-l will be taking care of the legal stuff.

    I broke all ties about five years ago.

    Hopefully the WayBack Machine will let you follow this link. This is from our former ISP. Scroll down and click on “Danny’s Story Here” and you can read about the wreck (I’ve always refused to call it an accident). Wish my animated GIF still displayed. The State Trooper that killed him almost drove all the way through Danny’s Jeep.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20120817234029/http://don.hensley.home.insightbb.com/

  29. @Don

    Thank you.

    Sorry for your loss.

    • Replies: @Don Hensley
  30. vinteuil says:

    “No honor could be bestowed on me to compete with the feeling of sitting in my favorite spot with beans & franks simmering near the fire while reading a book and listening to the baby squirrels run up and down the tree at my back while a mama rabbit and her little ones watched from just a few feet away.”

    Jeezus H. Christ. Are you not ashamed to write such crap? And is Unz.com not ashamed to publish it?

    “listening to the baby squirrels run up and down the tree?”

    “a mama rabbit and her little ones watched from just a few feet away?”

    I mean, could you make it any more obvious that you have no effing clue what you seem to think that you’re talking about?

    • Replies: @J Yan
  31. vinteuil says:

    I guess Linh Dinh is unz.com’s Stephen Glass, or Jayson Blair: a shameless pretender, trading off his minority status, sucking in bucks from the ignorant rubes.

  32. vinteuil says:
    @Aaron Gross

    Aaron Gross! – I’m interested to see you back. I more or less hope that you stick around. As SS’s antagonists go, you’re well above average.

  33. @james ennis

    Thanks…

    The difference between cancer and hate is that you get to decide whether or not it takes root. Unlike the rest of (what I had left) my family, I chose not to let the rest of my life be defined by another man’s actions. I spent a while with the prosecutor and a trooper that Indianapolis sent down and I was told I should be thankful that we live in the area we do. Farther North and a conviction probably would never have happened. He had been driving South on 41 at 125 – 130mph since about the Toyota plant. The tire marks they measured on the road placed him at 120 – 125mph when he took his foot off the gas and hit his brakes. To get to where he worked, Danny had to take a left across two lanes of oncoming traffic. At those speeds it meant that he had less than 1 1/2 seconds to realize that one set of lights from the intersection 1/4 mile ahead was going WAY too fast. The speed limit there is 45mph. It was just a matter of not being able to get out of the way…

    Anyway, that’s what happened. No point in airing family laundry in public, but it brought out the worst in Mom and my sister and b-i-l. I tried for a while, but it was pointless. One of my “Don-isms” is, “Sometimes all you can do is All You Can Do“.

  34. @Don Hensley

    Maybe it was a quarter for all of it, I don’t remember. I also wondered whether farmers ever found it. Who knows, maybe the soil in your own farm is full of buried quarters.

  35. J Yan says:
    @vinteuil

    Dear subnormal Sailer supplicant, the quoted paragraph is a white guy painting a picture of his childhood oasis away from regular beatings and hard manual labor.

  36. Clyde says:
    @Don the stupid Farmboy

    Don–Very well done. I read your entire account.

  37. vinteuil says:
    @J Yan

    “the quoted paragraph is a white guy painting a picture of his childhood oasis away from regular beatings and hard manual labor.”

    Jeezus, dude – you’re not even trying, now. You need to start over, somewhere else.

  38. @J Yan

    I truly appreciate your efforts on my behalf, but there’s no need to open yourself to that kind of abuse. This situation looks suspiciously familiar. Since CompuServe first fired up in the early ’80s I’ve seen thousands of examples. Every forum seems to have a user or two that delights in dancing along the very outer fringe of what the mods will allow in the hope of getting someone to violate the T&C and get flagged.

    Another Don-ism to bear in mind:

    “With some people it’s like p*ss*ng on a brick… Save your energy, it will never soak in.”

  39. vinteuil says:
    @J Yan

    Dude – for your better understanding: I have lived most of my life, and live now, in the constant company of rural white guys. The chance of anybody like that “painting a picture of his childhood oasis” that includes references to the sounds of baby squirrels running up & down trees – let alone mommy & baby rabbits looking on in wonder (!) – is zero. It is not one in ten. It is not one in a hundred. It is not even one in a thousand. It is zero. Linh Dinh, &/or whoever he got this anecdote from, is, quite obviously, a liar and a fraud.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  40. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @vinteuil

    It’s pretty obvious that the idea of serenity is neither part of your vocabulary or within your ability to experience. You could at least know who you are facing before you spit in their face.

    If I am a liar and a fraud then you are a self-important narcissist bordering on delusional. When you have family sweat and blood invested in land that goes back generations, you feel a connection to everything that goes with that little corner of the world. I even got along with the pit viper down by the creek once we both knew where he liked to hunt. Oh, wait…. Here I go talking about something as silly as Respect, an emotion I don’t expect you to understand.

    Spit out whatever bile you want, I don’t have time for the likes of you. I just wanted to make sure you don’t target someone else on my account. You might have to live you, but I don’t. I’m done.

  41. OutWest says:

    Don, you seem to be both cursed and blessed with an artistic, romantic soul. So close and yet so far from comfortable security. I’m a bit older and grew up in Da Region –actually the Illinois annex to process Gary’s steel-, which hasn’t done even as well as the farm. It’s all pretty much brown fields now. I went to school and worked for a while in Indiana (Muncie). It’s not what it used to be –very sad.

    While things have gone rather well for me in terms of being comfortable after a lot of hard work and sacrifice, I have a good bit of visceral empathy for you being so close. My about-your-age brother learned computers during an Army enlistment, got an IT job with Ford and is in early comfortable retirement. I’m sure he was about as skilled as you.

    The problem with Nashville and artistic talent is the payoff is astronomical for the luck few; zip for the majority. I guess you roll the dice and hope for the best.

    There is one area where we differ; I never felt an employer owed my more than the agree pay for a week’s work. I was always hired because the employer needed something and I needed money. When paid either of us could go our way or jointly continue. It’s work not a Patron/peon relationship.

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