Tag Archives: Elvis

Recipe: The Day My Dad Shot Elvis…Four Roosters and Chicken Pasta Fruit Salad

This is a great salad to serve during the summer months, and who doesn’t like a great chicken story.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

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Once upon a time on my dad’s farm lived four young roosters who needed names. A good name can make or break a soul in this world so when dad called me at 8 a.m.in the morning, while I was at work, and asked my assistance in selecting names for his roosters, I was honored.

Since I had never seen his new roosters, I asked him to describe them for me.

The first rooster was black, small for his age and the first to learn to crow. He really had a thing for the lady hens. His most distinguishing characteristic was the long feathers that hung down on either side of his beak like sideburns. We named him Elvis.

Then, dad explained he wanted his other roosters named after Civil War generals.  I am a Civil War buff, so he felt I would be the one to help him find appropriate military names. He stressed that the…

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What Is On My Mind Today? I Just Don’t Believe It…

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There are some things in this world that I am never going to believe.

That there is no God.

That trying to follow the ten commandments would be a bad thing.

That Bible and science are contradictory.

That vaccines cause autism.

That essential oils are essential to anything except the plants from which they are extracted.

That homeopathic medicine is equal to modern medicine.

That what pharmaceutical companies charge for drugs isn’t larceny.

That social media has been good for humanity.

That video games are better for young people than going outside and playing.

That texting isn’t the kiss-off of personal communications.

That the United States is not a great nation.

That Russia looked at all the 2016 Presidential Race candidates and said, “Trump, now, he’s the pony I’d put my money on!

That Russia doesn’t always try to meddle in our elections.

That Congressional Republicans support the president.

That Speaker Paul Ryan’s Healthcare plan has anything to do with either health or care.

That repealing and replacing Obamacare would be better for the people who need affordable healthcare than fixing it. Especially, since Republican leadership tried to repeal it time after time, year after year and all the while no one in leadership saw fit to draft a humane, fiscally responsible, workable, passable alternative.

That there are not current democratic members of Congress, and in state legislatures, from south of the Mason-Dixon Line, who had ancestors that were confederates.

That historical statues are more of a threat to a person’s mental, emotional and physical health than what is viewed on television, in video games or at the movies.

That black on black violence is less news worthy than statue intimidation.

That the average person under the age of fifty could tell the difference between a statue of a Union or Confederate General if they were placed side by side.

That the democratic party has the best interests of minority groups in mind.

That it is ever a waste of time to vote.

That sexism doesn’t exist.

That there is such a thing as a “woman’s” brain.

That female genital mutilation is ever all right.

That female subjugation is ever all right.

That all cultures and ideas are of equal value.

That law’s weren’t meant to be followed and enforced.

That there are not bad laws.

That bad laws do not need to be repealed.

That peace can be found through violence and intimidation.

That the generations that passed civil rights laws and spent a lifetime teaching children and grandchildren not to be racist are now all of a sudden racist.

That racism doesn’t exist.

That only white people can be racist.

That all police officer’s are racist.

That Antifa is peaceful and law abiding.

That white supremacists are not a threat to minorities.

That the age of enlightenment is now.

That any higher education institution should receive federal funding if they support segregation of any kind including “safe zones.”

That any higher education institution should receive federal funding if they discriminate against any group…minority or majority.

That past generations should be known only by their faults.

That the people on earth now are just the smartest ever.

That freedom of speech is not under attack in our public squares, institutions and places of work.

That political correctness hasn’t gone off the rails.

That ideological social media censorship doesn’t exist.

That theater arts majors know how the run the world and what’s best for everyone.

That mainstream media strives to report news factually and without bias.

That truth is not close to being declared officially dead.

That everything is relative and there are no longer any absolutes.

That our society suffers from an excess of personal responsibility.

That our society suffers from an excess of self-determination.

That our society suffers from an excess of humility.

That anyone who has been married to Bill Clinton could honestly be creeped out by any man in shoe leather.

That diet Coke tastes as good as regular Coke.

That margarine tastes like butter.

That Elvis is still alive.

That if the people supporting Kaepernick don’t watch NFL football and those offended by players not standing for the national anthem continue to boycott the NFL, that it would be wise to buy advertising time during the games.

And, what set me off today….

That anyone wants to see Amy Schumer or any other member of the Schumer family naked.

Just saying….


What is On My Mind Today: El, Elvis and A Prison Break


I have this friend, of many years, whose name is El.

El is a 93-year-old World War II veteran, who still carries the bullets in his body from a surprise attack during the battle for Luzon. One of our first conversations was about this very battle and how he’d been a Japanese prisoner of war for four hours.

I thought he was jesting with me, as nobody was a Japanese prisoner of war for just four hours.  The Japanese just did not operate that way during World War II….except in cases like his.

Not yet twenty years old with bullets in his back and legs, he spent over four hours laying on a jungle battlefield, as Japanese soldiers poked him and his fellow American soldiers with bayonets, to make sure they were all dead.  As he laid there, every once in a while he would hear a gunshot, and know that another boy would not being going home. El will tell you the only reason he survived was that he fell face down when he was hit and how hard it was not to flutter his eyelids when poked with a bayonet.

He and his fellow survivors, made it off the island and were given medical aid. Unfortunately, there was only one small plane to evacuate the boys and it seated four. So, El and one of his buddies were put into body bags, used for the dead, with only their heads sticking out and tied to the wing of the plane.  His only request was to be tied face down so that he could see where he was going.

As they flew over the Pacific ocean, at about 1000 feet, he could see the whole Pacific naval fleet, whirling around in the ocean waters beneath him.  He says he often wonders what their plane looked like on radar and is amazed that they were not shot down.

By the time he reached medical care, just a day or so after being hit, his leg was already black from infection.  He did not lose the leg, but he has scars the entire length of that leg that tell the story about how hard it was for him to keep it.

El is a very well known, popular, active member of the City of Forest Lake, MN.  He has been a fixture on their city streets for many years as he cruises town in his “scooter”, with a big American Flag flying behind him.

Winter, spring, summer and fall, regardless of rain, sleet, snow, fog, heat or cold, not much could stop El from getting where he wanted to go on that “scooter.” He was even given a special permit, by the city,  so he could legally drive on city streets.

El’s health had been more of a challenge as of late and he was recently moved into a nursing home. Today when I arrived for a visit, and to deliver several dozen of his favorite cookies, homemade gingersnaps,  I found him sound asleep, with his ever present”scooter” parked right beside his bed.

I always enjoy El, and again today we had a great chat.  I announced to him that I have decided that Elvis was murdered with codeine by Ginger Alden, and that Lyndon B. Johnson was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  He gave me a broad smile, and I got the look I always get for my foolishness. Then, I was told to write a book.

I then asked him if he was still cruising around town on his “scooter.”  “No!”he fairly shouted. “They won’t let me out of this place without someone with me!”  His response surprised me some, knowing the man as well as I do.  And, I told him so.  I went on to explain that find it hard to believe he could not evade capture by mere nursing home staff.  After all, he has, under dire circumstances, escaped capture many times before. Then, I remembered that he was incarcerated…once.

During World War II, after El recovered from his wounds, he was sent back into service. By this time, the war in the Pacific had ended and El was sent to Japan.  He and his unit were on guard duty near one of the towns that had been blasted off of the face of this earth by atom bombs.

El and his buddies had a pretty great time in Japan. They were young, had survived the war and had money in their pockets.

In those days, when in a United States military uniform in Japan and you had too much fun, you would end up in a military prison.   The commander of this prison was a proud, obnoxious, arrogant, peacock-strutting of a man, who continually boasted that no one had or ever would escape his fenced stronghold of character development and repentance.

So, one night, after having enjoyed a goodly portion of fun, frivolity, frolic and fermentation, El and a buddy decided to break into the prison.  The success of their venture was made known to the hilarity of all the very next morning when there were two extra soldiers during roll call.

Well, the prison commander became positively apoplectic!  Both El and his commanding officer received their due portion of this man’s verbal wrath.  When the prison commander finished his tirade, El’s commander turned on El  threatening all sorts of dire consequences.  El was then marched to his commanding officer’s  jeep.  When they got into the jeep, the officer turned to El and said, “Ewert, you are such a dumb ass!” Then, burst out in laughter.

El and his commanding officer returned to their camp, went into the officer’s quarters and proceeded to spend the remainder of day consuming more than their share of beer toasting the success of El’s prison break-in.

And, yes, El has met Elvis

El and I with matching hair-dos, during my cancer battle. 





Recipe: The Day My Dad Shot Elvis…Four Roosters and Chicken Pasta Fruit Salad

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Once upon a time on my dad’s farm lived four young roosters who needed names. A good name can make or break a soul in this world so when dad called me at 8 a.m.in the morning, while I was at work, and asked my assistance in selecting names for his roosters, I was honored.

Since I had never seen his new roosters, I asked him to describe them for me.

The first rooster was black, small for his age and the first to learn to crow. He really had a thing for the lady hens. His most distinguishing characteristic was the long feathers that hung down on either side of his beak like sideburns. We named him Elvis.

Then, dad explained he wanted his other roosters named after Civil War generals.  I am a Civil War buff, so he felt I would be the one to help him find appropriate military names. He stressed that the generals’ names had to be ones that he could remember.

I asked him to describe the other birds.  One he said had dark red feathers, one was as golden yellow as ripe corn and the last one was speckled white and black.

For the red rooster I suggested the name Sherman as General William T. Sherman had red hair.  Well, no, dad said, he’d never be able to remember that.  So, I suggested General Grant?  Nope, that one was too hard to remember, too.  What about General Lyon for the yellow rooster? Why, you could just call him Lyon seeing how he’s yellow  I patiently explained. Well, no, that wouldn’t work at all, because nobody had ever heard of this Union General Nathaniel Lyon and he’d never remember the name anyways.

The minute I heard the colors of those roosters, and knowing my dad, I knew where we were headed.  I had learned the lesson long ago that no matter how much you wish it could be different sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and accept the inevitable.

“Well, dad, how about Geronimo for the red rooster and Custer for the yellow one?” I suggested. With a shout of excitement he said that would be perfect.  We never did name the big black and white speckled rooster.

Roosters on a farm have short lifespans. It is not because they are good eating or too loud. Most roosters as they mature become aggressive. Some abuse their hens. The abuse can become so severe that the hens can die when their feathers get stripped completely off by the sharp talons on the rooster’s feet.  Where an aggressive rooster roams no living thing is safe from attack, not livestock, pets or people.


Shortly after naming the roosters, I traveled out to the farm to see my dad’s new chicken flock.  There were over a dozen hens and yes, those roosters sure were handsome lads.  My favorite was Custer, the big yellow one.  I am convinced that a more beautiful rooster has never walked this earth.  He was big and his yellow feathers shimmered like molten gold when he strutted his stuff before those hens in the sunlight.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA                 A watercolor portrait I painted of Custer that hangs on my dining room wall. 

That was the one and only time that I saw all those boy birds together.  Only a couple of weeks after my visit the rooster curse descended.

Very early one morning, not too long after my farm visit, my office phone rang.  As I picked up the receiver I heard my mother’s sad voice loudly announce, “YOUR father has just shot Elvis!”

I must admit hearing that first thing in the morning on your work phone when you are press secretary for a state constitutional officer, took me by surprise.  But, not as much as when dad had called me a few years back when I worked for the state legislature to inform me that, “Your brother has a huge beaver problem.”  When I started to laugh really hard he in no uncertain terms reminded me that “I am still your father!” (Their beaver problem was the result of a beaver dam flooding several fields.  Since, my job at that time was a constituent services representative for the state legislature, he had actually had called the right person and our Department of Natural Resources happily took care of his “beaver problem”.)

After I quit chuckling about the announcement of Elvis’s demise, I asked why?Mom explained in great and vivid detail that Elvis had become too randy with the hens and just wouldn’t leave them alone. He had stripped some of those poor female chickens almost naked of feathers. To protect the hens from domestic abuse…he had to go.

About a month after that mom called again.  “Well, your father just shot Geronimo.”  I was very sorry to hear that, because he was a beautiful bird. She went on to explain that Geronimo was constantly chasing her around the yard and attacking her.  Try as she might to ward off his attacks with grandpa’s antique golf clubs, she was all bruised up from his sharp beak bites.  Dad never kept any animal on the farm that attacked a human…friend or fowl.  He had to go.

I tried to comfort mom by reminding her that they still had two roosters. She grimly responded that they only had one.  So, I asked,”What happened to the other rooster?” She told me to talk to my father and handed him the phone.  He told me he still had my favorite rooster Custer and that he was a good rooster nice to the hens and a good pet. When I asked him what happened to the big unnamed black and white speckled rooster, my dad, who has farmed for over 70 years, in a voice dripping with disgust growled, “He laid an egg and is nothing but a big fat hen!”

It was almost the end of summer and the chickens were now big enough to freely roam the yard, which can be good or bad. The good is the great improvement in the quality and taste of the eggs. There is really nothing better to eat, cook  or bake with than eggs from chickens who dine on bugs and dandelions. The yolks get almost orange. The bad is that there is chicken poop everywhere on the ground, on machinery, on porches and warm and squishy between your bare toes.


It seemed that good times had finally arrived for the farm’s chicken operation. While dad and mom were busy farming, the chickens enjoyed their freedom and laid plenty of eggs. Not always in the nest provided in the hen house, however.


Farming is hard and losing your animals is always tough, it is even harder when the loss is cruel and the result of someone else’s neglect. My dad came home from town one day only to find that a pack of loose dogs had gotten into the chicken fence and killed almost all of his birds.  He was really upset. “All of my beautiful hens are gone! They tore them up!  My poor girls,” he shouted. “I only have a couple hens left and Custer!”

It is not uncommon for farmers to lend out their male animals for breeding.  Custer was such a very beautiful bird that after seeing him another farmer asked dad if he could borrow him for a short time for his flock.  Dad thought it would be great to have a bunch of little golden chicks from his rooster running around so Custer was sent off to procreate.

One morning, shortly after he arrived to service his new harem, the farmer found not only Custer missing, but his whole flock of chickens were gone.  He searched for quite awhile for the lost birds then he spied a bright yellow spot a long way off on the side of a bare hill in one of his fields.  When he approached the spot, he found what remained of the carnage of a terrible chicken massacre.

Bald Eagles had attacked the flock.  To kill a big chicken they swoop down, pick up the chicken with their talons, carry them up high and then drop them.  Chickens cannot fly and the fall kills them.  There on the side of that lonely hill Custer had died defending his hens.  He and his entire flock had been wiped out by great eagles.  Dad was sad to tell me that my favorite rooster had died, but he was mighty proud of Custer’s last stand.

Chicken Pasta Fruit Salad

2 cups of cooked chicken cut into bite-sized pieces.  ( I use a whole chicken or four chicken breasts. Do not ever allow chicken skin to get into a cold salad.)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups of green grapes, sliced in half
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1-20 ounce can of pineapple chunks, completely drained
2 cups of cooked shell pasta

1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise
juice of one lemon
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Gently combine salad ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl whisk the dressing ingredients together.  Taste dressing to make sure that it meets with your approval. Adjust tartness by adding more lemon.  If too tart add small amounts of sugar.

Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss together to coat.  Refrigerate for several hours until well chilled.  Serve.

This recipe makes about six servings as an entree.