“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” – Anthony Brandt
By Ken Sheetz
I write this story, dear reader, as a meditation on where my troubles with women has its roots, in my childhood. Most of my work in 2011 and 2012 has focused on helping heal the divine masculine and the divine feminine by healing my own issues. I encourage you to dig deep into your own past too. We chose all these life lessons for a reason before we were ever born. 2012 is the time to apply those lessons in healing our world from family strife.
THE B & G DETOUR
It was October 1962. I was ten-years-old and sat squashed in a Chevy station wagon along with the whole family. My father was brooding at the wheel over a fight he had with Mom just before we left Milwaukee. Bad vibes wafted in the smoky air of the family wagon. This was to be a happy road trip to our new home in Waupaca Wisconsin. Way up North, Waupaca was to be the place for a fresh family start, but our family “baggage” was coming right along with the rest of the tightly packed 50s furniture and knickknacks Mom collected.
Wedged aboard were my Aunt Katie, Grandma, brother Fred, baby brother Bruce and Mom and Dad. Here’s the song DETOUR that we sung on the ride North many times, not heading the warning of the song on the huge family detour we were about to take in Waupaca.
The world had barely survived the Cuban Missile Crisis. This prompted my pretty Aunt Katie, between cigarette puffs, to say, “If the Russians blow up Milwaukee we’ll be safe way the hell up here.” Everyone laughed. Comedy was our family’s secret weapon for breaking building tension. Tension I lived with constantly that made the Cuban scenario seem as normal as Grandma’s great pies.
I blurted, “Wow, Aunt Katie, if the A-bomb drops tomorrow, we might be the last family left on earth. The you’d have to marry me!”
A nuclear war actually excited me. I had a hopeless crush on my beautiful black Irish Aunt Katie. But she laughed off my dream along with the rest of the family. I often found my unintentional humor got the best laughs as family comedian. Still does to this day. – Don’t laugh!
All the family adults were chain smokers. It was freezing outside the smoke-filled station wagon, winding its way along the old two lane highways of those days. Grandma, a sweet, but tough as nails, little cherub of an Irish woman, would not let me open the window more that a crack because she was afraid of getting sick. Eyes watering, I sucked at the window crack, desperate for oxygen.
Earlier, in the year, the family had come to Waupaca to vacation in the glorious summer. The family swam in the clear lakes and raced canoes on the Crystal River. It was our happiest family vacation because Dad had been sober for three blissful months.
The fun-packed vacation went by fast, filled with some of the best memories of my life. But soon we headed home to Milwaukee as fireflies danced in the summer twilight. We hadn’t driven more than 5 miles out of Waupaca when Dad spotted a for sale sign on a gas station/diner. Before we all knew it, my “get-rich-quick” Dad wanted us all to step out of cozy station wagon and see the run down place. He instantly was full of fresh-start dreams of a new life where he did not have to punch a clock in the welding world.
I hated the odd combo of a gas station and diner instantly. There was an air of malevolence about the cobweb filled place.
“I don’t like it here,” I whispered to Grandma, afraid Dad would hit me if he heard.
“Why?” said Grandma softly, knowing how dangerous our talk was against Dad’s passion for the place.
“Ghosts. Ghost everywhere. And bad things,” I said trembling.
“That overactive imagination of yours is going to land you in the looney bin, honey. There’s no such thing as ghosts. Now shush,” said Grandma quickly and softly as Mom and Dad debated. I’d been told to keep my psychic reactions to myself by Grandma many times, who took on the job of suppressing my supernatural abilities, like a good Irish-Catholic lady, and so I kept my little mouth shut.
Mom was doing her best to argue Dad out of it with her usual blunt style, “Bill, you’re nuts. We haven’t even paid my father back for your Old Smokey’s gas station business in Milwaukee that flopped.”
“This place will make a damn fortune. That’s how I’ll pay Cappy back, Georgie.” Dad said, swallowing his anger by taking Mom into a hug.
“There’s nothing fresh about this dive.” griped Mom.
“Long way from my Milwaukee bar fly pals,” said Dad with his winning grin.
“How many times have tried to quit, Bill?” said Mom, a woman never afraid to say exactly what is on her mind.
“Three months so far. I’m in the clear. This time it’s going to be different,” Dad proclaimed making the sign of the cross over his heart.
“So why here?” Mom said, secretly beginning to dream of a new life with a sober husband.
“Gateway to Waupaca. No other stations for miles. The cheapo sales tag means this place a gift from God.” Dad said.
“I don’t know, son, ” Said Grandma, worried for her boy who always had a way of overreaching himself, and secretly what I had told her about the ghosts here.
“Let’s have a family vote. — Who says we live in Milwaukee where I have to sweat in a factory like a slave all day?” Dad had a way of framing these family votes that fixed the results. But Dad truly sealed the deal for the odd combo restaurant and gas station by naming it The B & G Detour, after his and Mom’s initials. Mom always dreamed of being a star and she loved the idea of her name on a sign, even one in the middle on nowhere Wisconsin.
I relished my time left in Milwaukee, while dad struggled to rent our home on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. But finally, one sad day, when I came from school while JFK challenged Khrushchev on TV to a game nuclear chicken, I was told by Grandma that we were moving to distant Waupaca. I ran to my room to cry in private.
Mom grew angry as Dad packed up the wagon with Grandma and Katie.
“What’s wrong now?” said Dad to Mom.
“How’d I let you talk me into living 300 miles away from my mom and dad and sisters?”
“Christ. Now you bring this shit up? You only see your family at Christmas. We’ll fucking drive down! ” shouted Dad. Later in life with women my booming voice would echo his in my own fights. I’ve learned to walk away rather than subject anyone to my angry power-voice.
“Not the same as being able to drop by when I want.” said Mom, getting up in Dad’s red-face. Mom was never one to back down easily.
Often Mom’s big, equally dysfunctional in its own way family, were her refuge during the bad fights with Dad that became mutually bloody at times. Something I am proud to have never repeated. Sad thing is that I used to think not beating my woman was being loving. I learned the hard way from many wonderful mated that mental cruelty and abuse is not an actual form of love. Restraint is not love either. Funny thing. An amazing scientist visiting here at Great Spirits Ranch told me last week that I may not have the DNA for a loving relationship. But I know that the work I am doing with DreamShield is going to complete my DNA in this vital area as we enter the Golden Age. The mutant paradigm’s days are numbered. Love is coming to us all.
But I digress. The fact Mom had overlooked being away from her own family refuge until now showed how persuasive my dad could be when he wanted something bad enough to happen.
Mom sulked in the passenger seat as the station wagon drove off through a October snow flurry. We drove all alone in silence on the slippery highways. Pissed about Mom’s last-minute huff, Dad took a swig of beer between smokes.
“You’re drinking again?!” Mom shouted, terrified.
“Just beer.” Dad said as he took a defiant swing in Mom’s frightened face.
I felt Mom’s rising panic in this key moment. Trapped 300 miles from home with a drunken husband was a fate worse than death. Mom’s only response was a deep sigh as she looked out over the snow dusted Wisconsin hills.
“Snow before Halloween. Gonna be a rough winter.” said Grandma, blowing cigarette smoke with her prophetic words.
As I sucked for air out the cracked open window, I had a sinking feeling, watching the demons rise in my father’s soul with each tug of beer. I decided to go to sleep to get out of this family hell and lay my head upon the smoke steamed windows.
I dreamed of a demon Dad who raged at me when the station wagon with bad shocks bounced into the B & G Detour and woke me from one nightmare into another. On this dreary October night it all looked so different from the summer that the family were all in shock. The leaves were turning color on the trees. There was an eery silence as there was no traffic at all for miles on the road where wet snow was melting in orange puddles against the fading sun.
“We’re home!” Dad said, gamely pushing open the restaurant door. A musty stench set us all to coughing.
“Bastards. They left this place a god damn mess.” said Aunt Katie, kicking a Coke can clattering across the tile floor.
“There’s four of us plus the kids. We’ll clean this mess up in no time.” said Grandma bravely.
“Later, Ma. Let’s check out back if the house trailer showed up so we have someplace to sleep tonight.” said Dad.
A few weeks earlier I remember the joy my little brother Fred and I had exploring the double wide trailer home as Mom haggled for a good price. The slick salesman chuckled to my Mom as Fred and I played tag in the spacious trailer with Dad, who hated negotiating. “The trailer comes in two halves. Wide enough for family tag. Fine boys.”
Mom was not charmed as she “Jewed” the salesman down as mom and dad liked to say. It would be high school before I’d know Jewish was a race and not a negotiation term.
The laughter of the slick salesman echoed in my head as we all gazed at our new home in horror. Only half the double-wide trailer was here on the gravel parking lot behind the B & G Detour.
“What the goddamn hell is this? Where’s the other half of the house!” Dad shouted as he yanked on the plastic sheeting that flapped in the cold breeze.
“Don’t pull the plastic off, Billy.” said Aunt Katie. “We’ll need the plastic to keep warm tonight.”
“This is what I get for letting you Jew down that prick salesman. He screwed us!” shouted my father an inch from Mom’s nose.
Mom stood her ground bravely, “You didn’t complain when I saved us a fortune. You’ll see. The rest of the house is coming, Bill. I’ll call the jerks in the morning when they open. You’ll see.”
Looking back on all this I see why I am writing this story, a powerful form of meditation for me. I see the great power of the women in my life, holding my alcoholic father together by sheer will alone.
“Neato!” I said peering through the thick dusty plastic sheeting. “There’s half a kitchen!”
Somehow this broke the tension and everyone started laughing about the rough start to our new life in Waupaca.
After a chilly night’s sleep in the half a home, the family rolled up its sleeves and started cleaning and fixing up the B & G Detour. It was exciting for us all to be working for a common purpose as a family. Soon the old place was looking good.
As family artist I was given the job to paint letters for the new B & G Detour sign. I’m still proud of that damn sign I painted.
After a week of Mom screaming on the phone all day, the second half of the trailer finally showed up and we had a warm and cozy spanking new 3 bedroom house. Life was starting to feel normal. Fred and I started grade school in town. But Fred and I mostly played with each other at recess as the Waupaca kids called us “The kids from the big city.”
Fred and I did make friends with one kid whose dad who owned a carnival that was shuttered up for the winter. Fred and I ran through in the fun house like hooting Apaches. While Fred and our first Waupaca pal chased off through the dark corridors, I stood before a trick mirror and marveled at my alien looking stretched out image.
The Grand Opening of the B & G was coming. I tired to help Dad fix of the garage but I was never good enough for him in that department. So I helped the ladies in restaurant while Fred helped dad set up the garage.
One day, while I was sweeping up the restaurant and laughing with the ladies, Dad stomped in and for no reason started to yell at me. “Faggot, kid. Can’t you do anything right?”
I cringed waiting for Dad’s usual blow. But Mom dropped her mop to get in between us. “You drunk asshole. Stop picking on Ken.”
“Look how crummy mama’s boy’s sweeps!” Dad shouted as he kicked up some dust from a corner I’d missed.
“So damn what? He’s ten! Mom said while drawing me behind her for protection.
“Ken’s a faggot sweeper!” taunted Fred, who got worse beatings from Dad. So he’d take Dad’s side often for self-protection. But I did not know this back then, so my brother’s betrayals always stung and shocked me.
“What the hell’s really wrong, Bill?” my mother said, seeing through Dad’s macho smoke screen.
Dad’s bluster deflated instantly and he bellowed loud enough to rattle the dirty restaurant windows, “Sneaky bastards!”
“Something wrong with the trailer?” said Mom.
“No! I want my money back from the jerk who sold me this dump!” My father said to the greasy ceiling tiles, as though asking God for divine intervention.
“What the…?! We haven’t even opened this “dump” and you’re already quitting?” yelled Mom. Mom is loud when mad, even today, and back then it had a way of instantly triggering dad. But this time Dad was docile, like a beat up dog.
Grandma took my father into her chubby arms. “Don’t get on my boy. Bill couldn’t have known.”
“Know what?” I chimed in, secretly enjoying seeing Dad look so beat up instead of me or my brother Fred for a change.
Aunt Katie wiped her hands on her apron, and she shot me a terrified look to “Shut up!”
“There’s a reason we ain’t seen no customers, Georgie.” Katie said sadly.
“Because you’re all three drinking beer half the day instead of getting this place open?” Mom chided.
“The new freeway.” said Katie, glowering at Mom.
“What the hell’s a freeway?” said Mom.
“A super-fucking-highway. Now this dump really is a detour, ” said my father. His voice ashes.
A vortex of my father’s fear and panic opened right there in the diner. All of us were sucked in except Mom.
“Screw the freeway. Grandma’s pies are amazing. I cook the best burgers on earth. Heck, we’re only 5 miles from town. People will come here any-damn-ways!”
“Put me down, Bill. We got work to do!” said Mom, loving the respect she was getting from not only dad but his mother and sister.
But the little restaurant and gas station would fail after a futile 3 months. Mom bravely battled on while Katie disappeared with a lumberjack who took Katie off like a to-go item on the menu. I felt so abandoned. My hopeless crush on Katie became my nuclear winter of self-hate. I’d stare at myself in the fun house mirror with loathing that was beyond description and my father’s abusive words echoed in my abuse-addled brain.
Dad lost himself in booze, puttering on few wreck’s that limped into the gas station from town. A town where the two little Sheetz boys from the big city were as welcome as the plague.
Eventually, Grandma’s Irish temper got the best of her when she could not get my dad to buckle down and she left to work at the lumberjack’s camp with Katie.
The B & G Detour truly became a detour to hell on earth. The trailer, half of which did not show up for weeks, where we lived in behind the B &G, was not hooked to plumbing. My brother and I were given the job to dig holes for the sewage. Fred and I were attacked by flies and fire ants as we dug.
One day to our horror as Dad called Fred and me into supper, a supper of half-cooked soup and moldy bread, Dad said as Fred and I waved flies off us, “Eat your fucking food. It’s all we got. You’re damn mother left us. First Mom and Katie and now her. Women are all rotten, boys. Remember that. The bitches will leave you when you’re down. They’re all the fucking same. Useless cunts!” Dad said, pounding the table.
For much of my life I’d secretly feel about women like the words of my drunken father. How silly. Dad was a man-child. To take his words and make them the underlying principle of my life would be like my adult self running my life based on the sage advice of Charlie Sheen. I’m done with his bull. So done. Women are amazing beings who’ve been trodden upon for eons. So they shove back. That does not make them cunts. Sorry dear father, who passed away a year ago, you were wrong to program you boys to hate women for fighting back.
Ultimately, Dad would, by brute force, charm and sheer determination, get the three women back somehow and we all moved back to Milwaukee. But things were never the same after we reached such a low as a family in Waupaca.
But that’s another story. I wrote this blog to help me cleanse the divine masculine of its cycle of hatred of women. I’m printing this out and burning it under the full moon here at Great Spirits Ranch tonight. Who cares who started all this nonsense? It’s time to accept responsibility for we men driving the women insane on this world.