The Razor Strap, the Headstone, and the French Fries

I was three years old when Mom married Ed. I was seven years old when Johnny was born. I was a good “Big” brother. I loved Johnny when he was a baby, and I loved him until the day he died. At five, he turned into the typical kind of sibling that did shit and blamed it on his older brother. Not unheard of, just not really typical because when I got the blame for something he did, I got the “Strap”. No lectures, no stand in the corner and face the wall like Mom had me do, straight to the “Strap”.  razor strop2Ed used the same Razor Strap that grandpa used on him.  For those of you who have never heard of a Razor Strap, it’s a long flat piece of thick leather that Barbers used in the old days to sharpen their straight razors. Eventually, Mom put her foot down and convinced Ed to use a wooden yardstick.  Clever on her part.

Over the years, I lost track of the number of yardsticks Ed broke on me. He would still get in a lot of whacks before it broke, but at least he did stop every time he broke the yardstick. I have to laugh now thinking about the look Ed would get from the clerks at the hardware store. Eventually he would purchase five at a time, and if I happen to be with him, the clerks gave me a special look that made me feel better. Ed wasn’t stupid. He knew he could have used something else to whip me. I think part of it for him was a game, to see how many times he could hit me before the yardstick broke. I saved the broken pieces and made things with them. One time I made a little airplane.ToyAirplane

I cannot recall one single time that Johnny was ever spanked for something. What he endured later is what caused his PTSD. What matters to me is part of the reason I am writing this blog. I believe that children, and spouses, can suffer from PTSD also. Whole families can suffer from PTSD. My PTSD manifested itself in different ways compared to my brother’s. None the less, I believe we both suffered from PTSD. Johnny was eight when we lost our mother, and I was fifteen. At fifteen, you are old enough to comprehend what’s going on, but NOT old enough to cope with it, at least in my case. At eight years old, Johnny was old enough to feel some anguish and pain, but too young for it to really sink in. In other words, he didn’t have to activate his coping mechanism like I had to.

When we buried Mom, Johnny and I had had two totally different experiences growing up at that point. His father was holding his hand and comforting him, and I was crying my eyes out. The entire community came to her funeral and burial. The church and town folk took up a donation for a headstone.. They gave Ed the two hundred dollars or so, which he was supposed to give to the headstone people. I remember visiting her grave over the next year or so, and I recall that she had a pretty nice headstone. I left Minnesota at the age of 17 when I joined the Navy. The headstone was still there when I left. Years later I would visit her graveside and discover that someone had removed her headstone.

The church told me that the monument company had removed it because Ed had failed to pay them. Someone, I think my Aunt Alice, told me that Ed had spent the donation money on booze. I replaced the headstone with a new one. In 2004, when Johnny died, that summer Tommy and Tara went with me to scatter Johnny’s ashes around my mom and sister’s grave site.  Tara was taking pictures as I was shaking out the box of Johnny’s ashes.  All of a sudden, the wind picked up, and blew the ashes all over Tara.  A Grey Ghost she was. We had a good laugh about that.

Wild Turkey with my brother

When I found my brother after 30 years or so, it was about four years before his death. Johnny was living in Orange County. I drove down one weekend and we spent the afternoon and evening together. What a reunion that was. We sat up all night long reminiscing our childhood over a bottle of Wild Turkey. We laughed and we cried, and sometimes we just sat there in silence. One of the things Johnny said to me was how, as an adult, he recognized how much more I had suffered in comparison. He admitted that as a kid, he was an asshole for getting me into trouble all the time.

Johnny experienced a totally different kind of suffering than I did. They migrated to Southern California when Johnny was ten years old. Johnny told me that they were basically homeless, Ed was pretty weird, and they were living out of their car.  Which was a step up from pushing around a shopping cart. They found a nice park in Long Beach where they could park the car for days at a time. Imagine how “Crazy” one has to be to actually sell your own 12 year old son to a pedophile. That’s what Ed did. He sold him to some dude that had a special fondness for little boys, and hung around that nice little park.

That night as I shared that bottle of Wild Turkey with Johnny, we talked about a lot of things. Family, life experiences, childhood memories. The good things and the bad things. One of the things that Johnny shared with me was the two years he was held captive by the pedophile in Long Beach, finally escaping when he was 14.  Use your imagination when it comes to the horror Johnny experienced for those two years. Johnny, now 35, had not seen his father since he was 12. He spoke conversational Spanish, and he was learning French. Chip off the old block they say, except unlike his father who was highly educated, Johnny was self-taught. He was a reader of many books. He credited his French to a Rosetta Stone course, and his Spanish to having been married to a Mexican gal when he was younger. A year later, Ed and Johnny would somehow find each other. Their reunion was not a good one, and they went their separate ways within weeks. That night I shared with him the experience that I had searching for, and finding his Dad years earlier. My encounter was a brief one also.

For much of my life, after Mom died, I had a hatred for my step-father that was undeniable and negatively effecting my personality and life.  I often told myself that if I ever ran into him on the street, I would kill him. It was not a great emotion to feel, and I was not a pleasant person to be around most of the time. One morning I woke up and felt an overwhelming desire to find him. Not to revenge my mother’s death, but to tell him that I loved him and cared about him, and that God loved him. I was 34 years old when I found Ed. I was married and living in Southern California. Our son Tommy was just an infant. Ed had been living in a Halfway House in Los Angeles. A step up from previously pushing around a grocery cart, like so many of the homeless do.

I called Ed’s younger brother, Uncle John, one day, who gave me a contact number, incredibly, in Los Angeles. What’s the odds? After 20 years, we end up living so close to each other. Uncle John had told me that every summer, Ed would hitch-hike to Minnesota, stay for a couple of weeks, and then disappear. He thought that maybe Ed would work his way back to California via the Pacific Northwest.  The contact was a free clinic attorney who had been helping Ed get his Social Security paperwork straightened out. Ed had been living on the street for so many years he no longer had a copy of his Social Security card or remembered his number. He had no identification papers at all. One day I drove into Los Angeles and picked him up, and we sat on the grass under a tree in McArthur Park eating McDonalds.


As we sat there, Ed did the talking, and I did the listening. Most of what he said did not make any sense, and I did not mention mother. The one time Ed brought up her name, he said, “How is Evie doing?” In his minds eye, I was a ten year old Tommy, and Mom was still alive. Evie, (pronounced Evie like Chevy), was mother’s nickname, for Evelyn. Everyone called her Evie. He didn’t mention Johnny, and when I asked how Johnny was, he looked away for a second, and then asked for more ketchup for his French Fries. I saw him one other time after that.  In my heart I knew that I had forgiven Ed for my mother’s death, even though I never said the words out loud.  For me, it was a tremendous burden lifted, and from then on, things would get better and my general attitude towards life improved. My next contact with Ed would be years later via the Riverside County Coroner’s office, and arranging for his remains to be cremated. A Park Ranger had found his remains up in the mountains north of Lake Elsinore. Wintertime, there IS snow in the mountains in Southern California.  GroceryCartNext to his perfectly preserved, perfectly frozen body, was a Ralph’s Supermarket grocery cart, filled with crap, and a few empty whisky bottles. This was no easy feat, getting that grocery cart up that mountain. The Coroner suggested that Ed had gotten so drunk that he couldn’t tell that he was SLOWLY freezing to death.  Funny, opposite of “Burning in Hell”, isn’t it?


We sometimes think it is hopeless and against all odds, but hey, we are part of the 99% against the 1% that currently have absolute control. We can and shall overcome the odds, but only if we truly ORGANIZE. Otherwise, we are all just as a “Single Fly, Farting in the Wind”. Some thoughts on possible miracles/solutions can be found on the following GOFUNDME page. If you have questions, suggestions, comments, etcetera, again, please feel free to contact me. You can contact me by farcecrap PM, send me an email or fill out the contact form below.

For my faithful readers that are aware that I’m finally working on “The Dead Armadillo” story, like say, a Producer, or a Director, or a Screenwriter or someone or a company that desires to option my novel, you can contact me at any time, night or day. If you are a one of those faithful readers that wish to read and follow my progress as I work on this novel, I will be posting updates as a PDF file on every new post on this website/blog. Here’s the latest of “The Dead Armadillo”


For those of you that would care to get involved with me on this project, as I intend to hire a professional screenwriter at some point, and produce a feature film, I have recently been approved for a KICKSTARTER campaign where you can contribute. Here is the link to the KICKSTARTER campaign.

Peace & Abide, La paz y la morada, السلام والالتزام , שלום ושמירה, Paix et Demeure, Խաղաղությունը եւ մնալը, Мир и пребывание,, 平和と遵守, 和平與恪守, Aştî û Abad, صلح و عبید, Fred och Abide, Kapayapaan at Patuloy, Frieden und Bleiben, Mir i Ostanite, शांति और निवास, Hòa bình và ở lại, Мир и Абиде, שלום און בלייַבן, สันติภาพและการปฏิบัติ, Mir in bivanje,

Dr. T. C. Saxe, DD, RSISHE


Some immediate needs. On a volunteer basis for now, we need a WEBMASTER who can work on the ITAD-NAO website, we need a person skilled in “Crowd-Funding” and “Director of Charitable Giving”, we need an attorney to help in the legal matters for ITAD_NAO, including setting us up as a tax-exempt “Church”, we need a Certified CPA to insure the financial integrity of the ITAD-NAO organization, we need a “Chief of Security”, we need a film-maker, first for YouTube, eventually for larger platforms, plus a few other positions. We believe that somewhere down the road, a Billionaire will step up to the plate and write a check for $50 Million or so, which will turn those volunteer positions into paid positions.


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