The Bouchard Legacy, it’s 1979, the end of an era and a family remembers.

The Bouchard Legacy, it’s 1979, the end of an era and a family remembers.

The Cover of The Bouchard Legacy

My novel is set in 1979 when Vietnam Vet Paul Elser discovers all his hard work building up business up for the Sunny Day Beverage Company may be for nothing. Colonel Elijah Bouchard has made it clear; he wants to sell.
Paul. He’s earned the right for a chance at the business. Won’t his step-brother, brother he called him; Randy, profligate Randy, put in a good word for him?
Randy, recently divorced, financially strapped, and feeling the pressure from the white side of the family–to sell, sell, sell.
And who are those other family members?
There’s Colonel Elijah Bouchard-‘Grandpere,’a true relic of the lily-white Old South. He owns The Sunny Day Beverage Company. Hardly one to endorse his daughter Margaret’s marriage to a black man. That’s right. Daddy Bruce, Paul’s dad is black and so is Paul.
Randy is white.
It’s the Prince and the Pauper, It’s Dallas. It’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
Then there’s Henry, Randy’s father, the womanizing divorce lawyer with a gambling problem…He’s the grease behind the sale.
Of course, Margaret, Randy’s mother, an entrepreneurial woman before her time, would stand against the sale but would Grandpere listen? Ha! The crusty old relic has raised her rent and ‘franchise fees’ too many times to swallow that one.

Oh sure, while in high school, Paul and Randy were great friends. They became brothers in a blended family when their parents married.  Paul, the strong silent son of a Tuskegee Airman and Randy—a newly minted doctor, accustomed to comfort and the pleasures that money can buy.
The Bouchard Legacy. A story of loyalty and greed, a story of prejudice and character; it’s the story of Randy and Paul coming of age in the tumultuous 1960’s and then, their arrival as men in the close of the 1970’s. Set in Mid-America, St Louis, MO, ‘The gateway to the West.’

The author speaks.
People ask me ‘is this story in anyway autobiographical?’

Yes, but only through a glass darkly. Growing up in that era, researching the events of the day proved very rewarding. I participated in a few of them myself. Did I inhale? Read the story and find out! Another way the story is ‘based on real life,’ is that in my college and early career days, I’d often been asked if I’d like to ‘take over from Dad.’ My father owned several businesses. Well, at the time, the answer was ‘no.’ Dad worked way too hard for my particular liking. Of course that was before I discovered everybody who’s anybody works hard. Now, at last through The Bouchard Legacy, I get to see a family succession plan that works. The next generation takes charge.
A third way the story is factual is that as an insurance agent, I had many clients who passed a business on to an heir, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Please do read The Bouchard Legacy and let me know what you think. Thank you. Ted Magnuson

 The Bouchard Legacy is available in paperback (207 pages) and on Kindle. I hope you enjoy it. For purchase go to http://www.tedmagnuson.com
Thank you!

It’s All About ‘Enough.’ Saying that Last Farewell

elderly people

As this is the season for often lengthy holiday trips and family visits, I’m posting this story:

At an airport I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane’s departure and standing near the door, she said to her daughter, “I love you, I wish you enough.” She said, “Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.” They kissed good-bye and she left. She walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?” “Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Mom had done for me. Recognizing that her days were limited, I took the time to tell her face to face how much she meant to me. So I knew what this woman was experiencing. “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?” I asked. “I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral, ” she said. “When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?” She began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” She paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, she smiled even more. “When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with enough good things to sustain them,” she continued, and then turning toward me she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory. “I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye..”

A post from Amanda Morris, K-Love Radio Portland, Oregon.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Auld Lang Syne.

If you enjoyed this story, Ted Magnuson has written The Bouchard Legacy, about a fourth generation family business that changed with the times 1968-1979.

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

Disaster Story; Is it some kind of Joke or What?

GT-H2O-DZ 13

Congratulations on surviving Dec 21 2012, the much ballyhooed ‘End of Time’ according to Mayan Mystics. Did you think it was some kind of  joke; think again. These stories have been around since the beginning of time.  You know about the Great Flood? Noah and his ark? Everybody died but Noah and his people. Listen, these stories have a grain of truth. They tell me “If life were a raft trip, you may be drifting in the slack water now, but there are rapids on the river, you better get ready—or suffer the consequences.

True personal disaster story; about mid December, I was frantic–looking for Noah. That’s right; it’s about my house. A strange hissing sound like water running. Do you hear it? I sure did. Were the Mayans right? Could that sound be the floodgates opening? I checked all the toilets and faucets in my house. Nary a drip anywhere. Then I checked my outdoor water spickets. There, right next to my arbor vitae—something new–a bubbling spring.

How’s that? What did it mean?

Oh no. My problem wasn’t plumbing inside the house, it was plumbing outside the house. My water line, buried two feet down had burst. If all the water soaking into the ground around my house hadn’t flooded my basement yet, it will. Plus; it’s metered water. That won’t be cheap.

Not only that. I live on the side of a hill. If my house slides down to the highway, I’ll have to get it licensed as a motor vehicle and take it in to DEQ for  motor vehicle inspections every two years. Nuts to that!

Now I don’t have the tool to turn the water off at the meter, do you? I’m pleased to report that before you can say ‘Hurry on down to the hardware store,’ my City Water responded to my emergency call. Workers were out to the house. They turned my water off.

Were my problems over? No. I need a plumber; like now! Instinctively, I reach for my yellow pages. Have you forgotten about the yellow pages? The Aardvark Alpha Plumbing AAAAAA… knows the yellow pages well. They had five identical full page ads sprawled all over the plumbing section. How could I call anyone else? Their dispatcher even said it– “Don’t you call anyone else. Our man will be there in the hour. He’ll have you back in water by lunch time for sure. After three more phone calls, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… finally did show up. He could get my water back for only $5,000. Does that sound steep? It sounded steep to me, too. But the Aardvark man said it was a good deal, adding “A disreputable plumber would have charged me $12,000. Good old johnny-on-the-spot Aardvark AAAAAA… even threw in a Mayan calendar. Turns out the only way he could get my water back by lunch, was through a garden hose. “See you next week,” he said and left.

That’s when the other plumbers started showing up, the ones I called before Aardvark Accidental.  The second contractor quoted me half of Aardvark Alpha’s price, but no Mayan calendar, not even one mention of Noah, either. The third contractor Metro Plumbing, came by. He was not only pleasant, but quoted a third the price of Aardvark AAAAAAA… Wait a minute. Talk is cheap. I’m living in the 21st century. Why don’t I Google these contractors? For good measure I yahooed ‘em and yelped em, too. I even looked at the complaints filed with the State Construction Contractors Board. Did I get an eyeful. There are some bad operators out there swindling a gullible public.

Wouldn’t you know it, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… was at the top, or should I say bottom of the sleaze ball opportunist leak-chasing bad operators, list. The lowest of the low. They almost got kicked out of the state. In this case the early bird didn’t get the worm. The early bird was the worm! I called up Aardvark Alpha A-hole lot of A’s immediately to cancel my contract.

Then my friendly realtor neighbor came by. He saw my yard all tore up. I told him of my experience with the three plumbing companies.

He asked who’d I go with?

“Metro Plumbers,” I said.

He said “Good choice. I would have recommended them myself. Why, I had lunch with Mike Metro just last week. And the next time something like this happens, call me. I can recommend plumbers, painters, windows, HVAC guys. I know who does good work…and who’s going to work you over.”

Disasters, floods, fires, financial house of cards implosions; the end of the world. Oh yeah, these things are going to happen. Life is like a raft trip and there are rapids on this river. Be prepared,  know your equipment, at home, at work, in the community and in the world; how to take care, and who to call with the river starts rising. The sleazy operators don’t stand a chance if we can all work together. Let’s run Aardvark Alpha Awfuls –out of business.

If you enjoyed this story, Ted Magnuson has written The Bouchard Legacy, about a fourth generation family business that changed with the times 1968-1979.

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

Boiling Mad or Moiling Bad?

Call it entitlement, call it one-up-man ship or trigger finger. Have I slowed down in my decaffeinated days or have I become more perceptive? It seems people have become increasingly ready to take offense. Perhaps some fiend has sprinkled hot lava on the various phonemes and mouthings that we utter in order to communicate. Words should not be near as inflammatory as it would appear they have become.
Case in point. Recently I saw an erstwhile minister on youtube working his flock into a lather. “Let’s teach our children to text their representatives, jam their switchboards, vote the legislation down. No mention was made of any specific legislation. Perhaps it was discussed off camera. The image though of all of these crazed youths, he even went so far as to suggest they weren’t even yet of voting age, to vote the legislation down. Tweet them, text them, harangue the legislators, it all appeared to be quite hateful, hurtful and the crowd loved it.
Now I’m all in favor of difference of opinion. As an author, I realize the essence of story is conflict. As a member of society, I must admit my own life would probably be too dull to be good story material. That’s why I like fiction. I can create a world filled with conflict where my team wins.
So far as real life is concerned; discussion, pros and cons, problem/solution; these are dynamics I can understand. However, when we get to a point where we are encouraging impressionable youth to view their legislators as hideous cave-dwellers out to suck the life out of society, as archfiends who live in some murky proximity of a video game, and they can be ponged with a text message, I’ve got to say ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?’
I am reminded of my own days in the insurance business where the salesmen were to sell insurance and as a salesman; it was our job to ‘hoodwink’ the underwriters. By the by, whatever happened to my old boss who told me this? I remember one case in particular. The company was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. There was a moral risk. My handler, excuse me, manager advised me to go ahead and submit the case anyway. He said “What the underwriter doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” Silly me, but why would anyone want to insure a business about to declare bankruptcy? The claims began coming in shortly after the case was written.
Now, at that point, if ever there was a case for competition, wouldn’t this plum have sat much better in some other insurer’s portfolio? Please don’t call me heartless for having no compassion for folks down on their luck. Believe me, this retailer was no saint.
We tend to gloss over such irregularities in the force-field that surrounds the society in which we live and move and have our being. Nostalgia can be most infectious in this regard. When it comes to disparate groups of people getting along, I am reminded of Aunt Eller’s philosophy in Oklahoma She sings “The farmer and the cowman should be friends.” A key phrase in this song goes “I’m no better than anybody else/But I’ll be damned if I ain’t just as good.”
Now here is a philosophy with some real legs. This is the stance we can all take and society would be the better for it. Take our work seriously, but our own self-importance with a grain of salt. Not to be pushed around, but to be heard. There is a simple test that we should all be training ourselves and those we come in contact with, the next time we encounter a so-called commentator, a so-called friend, or even someone in the street driving a supercharged red pickup with lifters- Does the encounter cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up? Can I defuse? Please remember to breathe. Remember, the farmer and the cowman should be friends. This too, will pass. Halleleuh.

Speaking Up: Fielding Questions from the Audience.

An ocassional series on public speaking
While ‘time’s winged chariot does keep moving on,’ leaving sufficient time at the end of an oral presentation is a great idea. This is no time to cut back on platform time. OK, yes, it’s true, I too have been in audiences where the speaker appears to take too many pains to answer a question from the crowd and I too have wondered ‘Can’t he cut to the chase?’
There is a simple reason for this. It can be easily recognized by putting yourself in the place of the person asking the question. Isn’t it is possible that he or she may be nervous about ‘expressing their ignorance,’ so in most cases, the first response should be to compliment them on their question.
As an example, at a recent presentation, one audience member, I’ll call her Barbara, admitted “She didn’t know what she didn’t know.” Actually this is a very happy state of affairs, for Barbara admitted she knew she had a problem. The first thing the perceptive speaker might have said is ‘I compliment you on your healthy state of self-awareness.’ After getting a (possibly puzzled) response from her, the speaker could go on to ask ‘Do you see where I’m going with this?’
Once I had Barbara’s permission to proceed, I would point out to her that so far as information and the individual is involved, there are four possibilities. 1): Surely there are facts you know and you know you know them. That’s good. You can teach those facts to others. Then there are 2) facts you don’t know and you know you don’t know…in which case, you can become educated. Equip yourself with the appropriate questions to ask. For instance, what training do I need to do this procedure, or who do I call when I need help? See, that’s the level I saw Barbara at, if not when she started her day the day of my presentation, at least as of the ‘now,’ when she asked the question that she did.
For the sake of this illustration, the discussion could stop right there. However, if the audience is prompted to further explore the ‘wonders of cognition,’ there is oh, so much more to this topic. The above two states of knowledge and the individual could be contrasted with the final two other darker sides of awareness… 3) facts you don’t know you know—in that case let us hope that either situations or your relationship with those around you will assist you should difficulties arise. 4)Then there is the worst case of all, the things one doesn’t know they don’t know, called in polite circles intransience or even stubbornness, or if taken to an extreme foolishness or stupidity.