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THIRTIES GUY CHECKS IN

detectivejpgJack Hobbs here, thirties guy. The reason I’m called thirties guy is that I got sent here in a time machine in early September. Turns out it was a one-way trip. I thought I’d be here for half a day, tops, snap some pictures and disappear back to 1937. Didn’t happen. My friend Bob, who’s blog this is, helped me learn about the internet and I looked up old Doc Willoughby, the dotty old professor who sent me here. His bum ticker went kablooey shortly after I left and he died a month after that, so here I am for good.

Well, I did like the Doc told me, I knocked on the first door I ran across and I’m lucky it was old Bob answering the doorbell. Another guy might have had me committed with the story I told him. He heard me out, sort of giving me the fish eye at first, see, but little by little he sees I’m a square Joe. Lucky I had my copy of the Daily News, same as his only 70 years to the day older and the ink still fresh. That, plus my clothes (I still can’t believe regular hats are a no-go these days!), the money I carried, the brand new camera which was now a valuable antique, the little shaving kit in my overcoat pocket and the lingo I use, well it all added up. It should, since it’s the God’s honest, believe you me.
 
Well, good old Bob turned out to be a real friend and a pretty savvy Joe. He took me in and let me stay with him while he wised me up to the ways of this century. Being a teletype operator by trade, I’m a whiz at the typewriter so I took to the computer like a fish to water and Bob showed me around the internet and all the info available there. Maybe too much, so he taught me how to separate the wheat from the chaff if you get my drift. I got so I could tell in a flash whether a site was worthwhile or not and I had a lot of catch-up ball to play so I didn’t waste my time on eye-candy, although I hope to explore some of the fun sites soon.
 
Seeing as I needed dough and there being no call for teletype operators anymore Bob tells me about the internet auction house e-Bay where we sold my camera for a cool 50 grand. As luck would have it there was a nice little apartment available right across the street from Bob’s house so here I am. My little nest egg gave me some breathing room to figure out my next move. I bought some nice second-hand furniture, a TV, a stereo and splurged on a brand new Mac computer like Bob’s, a pretty sweet little machine. I saw right off that with today’s prices my 50 large wouldn’t go all that far so I pretty much holed up in my joint and started reading and doing research on the internet to learn about this world and to try to locate any of my family still alive.
 
Turns out there’s a heck of a lot to learn about those 70 missing years I skipped. A World War, a Holocaust, a cold war, a Berlin Wall, space ships, television, nuclear bombs, cell phones, computers, little wars, not so little wars, terrorists, 2 extra states in the Union for an even 50, jet planes, disappearing railroads, exporting American jobs to countries that do them on the cheap, assassinations, velcro, women’s lib, drugs, video games, aluminum siding, electric car windows, automatic transmissions, pop-tops on cans, microwave ovens, giving drugs to little children to make them behave, multiplex movie houses, labels on the outside of clothes, music CD’s, DVD players, Presidential campaigns that start the minute a new president is sworn in, the breakup of the European Empires (about time), Walk/Don’t Walk signs on street corners, tax havens in the Bahamas so rich guys and corporations don’t have to pony up their fair share, the Verazzanno Bridge, Civil Rights movements (another overdue deal), Peace Movements, and now a Green Movement so the ice caps don’t melt with all the gas we’re burning and drown the Statue of Liberty. Some of it I get, some I don’t.
 
Here’s something I don’t get: You got a bunch of bozos running around spraying red paint on pretty ladies’ swell fur coats because they’re worried about animals in a world where people are still starving and getting slaughtered at the same clip they were back in ’37 when the Japs started mowing down Chinamen over in Manchuria and half the world was hungry. Now I’m not a wiseacre that thinks torturing animals is okay, never was. I never did like to see horses mistreated, and we still had a lot of working horses here in New York in 1937, pulling fruit carts and hauling junk and the like, or anybody who treats their dog or their cat lousy. Those kind of people are no better than rats, see, but I just thought that sort of goes without saying.
 
So what’s up with these PETA people making such a big stink? PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Why isn’t there a People For Ethical Treatment of People group? They could spray all that red paint on the embassies of these countries I read about that slaughter their own citizens if you want to protest something important. Or ask our own government some pointed questions about some of their behavior lately and demand some straight answers, something I don’t see too much of around here. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. If people want to make a spectacle of themselves this is still America and they’ve got every right to put on the dunce cap if they want to I suppose. That’s one reassuring thing about jumping ahead all those years, that America is still a wide open place where a guy can still speak his mind, so I figure I can put in my two-cents worth too.
 
So now I’m getting wise to pretty recent history with the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. I see where the President right away went after the guy responsible, some Saudi Arabian guy with a turban and a hillbilly beard living in a cave in Afghanistan. So it made sense to go after him. He’s the bad guy, right? What I don’t get, and nobody can really get it through my thick skull, is why we let this guy off the hook and then went and attacked Iraq, some country that wasn’t exactly a paradise but then again wasn’t involved in the jet attacks. Sounds like the big shots down in D.C. have been smoking some of those reefer sticks the jazz musicians on 52nd Street over in Midtown like so much.
 
And now here it is 6 years later and nobody in charge seems to know what’s what. Even in the worst of the hard times back in the 30’s people sort of figured the government knew what it was doing. They had all kinds of plans and programs and they’d tell the people exactly what it was they were doing. They didn’t claim to have a magic wand to make the hard times disappear, but they were real busy doing things and not sitting on their hands hoping for the best and not saying anything to the American people about the things that were going wrong. I don’t see a plan down there in Foggy Bottom these days, but then again, look at the sad sack who’s President now and the bunch of bozos around him. I wasn’t here during the two elections that he won, but I can’t help but wonder if his opponents were kidnappers or cat burglars or something worse. I mean, how else could such a chump get elected President? And who taught this guy how to speak, Porky Pig?
 
Which reminds me, I’ve got to register to vote. Might as well have my say-so in the matter as long as I’m here in the future for good. They’ll probably give me a hard time at the Board of Elections when I tell them I was born in 1907, I’ve been getting a lot of that lately. See, I’m only 30 but I’m really 100 years old, if you follow. Once I got over the shock of knowing I’m not going back to ’37 I figured I should make myself a part of society. I tried to renew my driver’s license and almost got arrested for forgery when I showed them my old one. Even though it was expired for quite a spell, it’s the real McCoy.
 
I also went to the IRS office to pay my taxes on the 50 grand I got and again almost got arrested. But I stuck to my guns, see, and all the ID in my wallet is the real deal, including my discharge papers from the U.S. Marine Corps. Bob says I should have been more careful about revealing myself but I says thanks for the advice but I wanted to stand up and be counted. As a result I was getting a lot of visits from guys in government agencies I never heard of, wanting me to go with them and get physical exams and be held in protective custody and such, for my own good they tell me, if you can swallow that fishbone. What’s so good about that? I ask these jokers and then they change tack and say it’s for the good of the nation and I tell them that no matter what year we’re in that’s still the Stars and Stripes flying over the Post Office. Now I’m a former Marine who saw some pretty wicked combat in South America (we had our small wars back in the 1920s and 30s too) so I’ve paid my dues to my country and I tell these cloak and dagger boys just where to get off, see.
 
I’m an American and I know my rights so I ask them if I committed any crime for wanting to pay my fair share of taxes and renew my driver’s license. They said not that they know of but they were pretty sure I was some kind of con artist trying to pull something over on everybody. Prove it, says I, and they insist I come with them but I got my friend Bob with me and some neighbors as witnesses so they tell me they’ll get a warrant to take me away. Now my Irish is up and Bob puts me in touch with a lawyer who does Civil Liberty work and the guy takes such an interest in the case he’s representing me pro bono, which means gratis, bubkas, on the arm, free, you get my drift. Imagine that, Jack Hobbs with his own mouthpiece. His name’s Jim Connaly, another Irish-American like me and at first he thinks I’m nutty as a fruitcake but even so I deserve full protection under the law. Amen to that, brother.
 
Anyway, this Jim Connaly guy gets the straight story from me and from Bob and looks into the research we’ve been doing and he starts to believe my story. Then he takes a gander at my copy of the Daily News and has it scientifically tested, and also my ID papers, my clothes, my shaving kit and even me personally by a whole battery of doctors including two shrinks who both found me as sane as a the next guy. Turns out like I said, everything’s authentic. Besides, I tell them all, if I was a scammer I think I’d be sharp enough to come up with something a lot easier for a mark to swallow than time traveling. Where’s the angle in that?
 
Then Jim looks up the guy who bought my camera and has it tested too in some science lab or other and it turns out it’s the real deal too. They said they could establish definitely that the camera was recently manufactured but no place on earth could have produced it in the last 60 or 70 years. The film I sold him hasn’t been manufactured since 1940, is impossible to make nowadays and would not have lasted for more than 5 years without disintegrating but instead it was brand new, in perfect shape and took excellent photographs. No way to fake that. Same with my copy of the Daily News, authentic and new right down the ink and the type of paper, both of which you can’t get anymore anywhere and with no signs of aging at all. Then he has me fingerprinted and sure enough the Marine Corps still has my prints from the 1920’s and of course they’re a perfect match and my Marine official photo is undeniably me as an eighteen year-old recruit. The Corps never forgets one of its own.
 
So now this Jim Conally’s scratching his head and wondering what he’s got himself into. I ask him how do you think I feel? He thought I was just some loony-toon who’s not hurting anybody but now he knows I’m Jack Hobbs, born 1907, disappeared 1937, reappeared 2007 none the worse for wear. He tells me he’s in over his head and I have no idea what the government might do to me so now I ask him if he thinks I committed any crime by traveling through time. He says no, of course not, it’s just that he never represented a time traveler before and I say well I never was one before so we’re even steven.
 
So then he asks if I know what kind of can of worms I’m opening and do I really want to become one of the most publicized men in history and maybe called a lunatic or a phony and have my privacy invaded in ways a man from my time could not even imagine and I say I never thought of it that way, I just that I want to do what’s right, number one, and stand up an be counted as a man. And number two I’ve simply got to find out if any family I got left is okay, see if maybe they need my help. What’s right is right, no matter what century you’re in, end of story.
 
So Jim tells me boy oh boy, you sure are from 1937. Well, I wasn’t born yesterday, I says, I could have told you that. Then he says I’m not getting the picture here and it may not be too late to drop all this and I go about my life quiet like none of this ever happened. He says maybe I should think about it and he’ll tell the docs and the laboratories who tested me and my stuff it was all an elaborate hoax and I ask him if he was born yesterday. Does he really think any of those doctors and scientists are going to forget about discovering brand new stuff from 1937 that hasn’t aged and turned yellow, including me?
 
Then he looks at me and shrugs his shoulder and say we’re both in for the ride of our lives. I said I already took one heck of a ride, what’s one more? So he agrees to stay on, not really knowing what to expect. He said certain government people had already been in touch with him, asking if my presence could be explained away by some sort of coma or something. A coma? I ask him how they think I wouldn’t age in a coma, or get all soft and atrophied like what happens to people in long comas but I’m in the pink, see, I’ve always taken good care of myself, not one of those flabby Joes who let themselves go to pot.
 
And besides, the docs gave me every test known to man and established beyond any doubt that there’s stuff in my blood that isn’t in anybody else’s blood these days, on account of the food I ate all my life is different from food today and some other things about my body that place me in a world long gone. No vaccinations, the way a broken bone was set, some recent dental work that’s also brand new but obsolete and impossible to duplicate today, plus a couple of other tests with something called DNA and some other stuff I don’t really savvy but they say are ironclad. You think those guys are going to forget about the most unusual case of their careers? Do I have to paint you a picture here, Jimmy my boy?
 
And besides, I told Jim, don’t this mean that you’ll be the most famous lawyer since Clarence Darrow? That’ll only mean money in the bank for you from here on out. He says he didn’t get into law to get rich but to help people who weren’t getting a fair shake, which made me like the guy even more. He said that now his main job is to protect me from getting spirited away by secret government guys and I asked what he meant by that, this is still America, ain’t it, and your job is to make sure it behaves like America for everybody, no matter who they are, right? So Jim says yep, that’s pretty much his job description so he guessed that I’m the smallest minority as the only time traveler ever so I fit the description to a tee.
 
So that’s where we stand so far, me trying to establish myself here and Jim trying to keep the government from making me disappear. I ask him for some help tracking down my family and he says that’s a great idea, maybe they have photographs of you and can ID you positively. I say sure, sure, that would help but I’d really love just to see the kids again, let ’em know their Uncle Jack didn’t just skip out on them when they were little. I’ve been making friends here and old Bob has been a great pal, but as the weeks pass I really miss being part of a family. Funny how stuff you take for granted seems so important when it’s taken away.
 
I just want to see the look on the faces of my kid brother Joe’s children Joey Junior and Marie when they see Uncle Jack back in their lives. I realize they’ll be geezers by now if they’re even still alive and I’m still looking the same as the last time they saw me, a couple of days before my time trip, but family’s family and I really hope I can find them. I miss them a lot and I want to be a part of their lives like I used to be. Bob says I can use his blog whenever I like so I’ll keep you posted when I know more. My lawyer Jim says it’s a good thing we went public with all the tests or the government would have spirited me away somewhere to keep me a secret and they still might try it so if you don’t hear from me soon that means I’m being held against my will by one of these secret spy agencies I keep hearing about. Just when did they get invented anyway? And just who came up with the notion that America should have secret police? I thought that was for the likes of Stalin and Hitler and jokers like that. America got along hunky-dory without them.
 
That sort of thing worries me but like I said, I’m not backing down. My mother didn’t raise any quitters, see. Maybe I’ll tell my attorney and my friend Bob to spread the word that I’m really a coyote or a spotted owl so the animal rights groups will start a campaign to spring me from custody. Doesn’t seem like any other group around nowadays gets that worked up over a guy getting locked away for no good reason.

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