Recently, my wife and I (meaning my wife) enrolled our child into a toddler preschool. You may think that the role of the modern father is all absenteeism and long summer days filled with golf, stiff drinks, and cigars, and, well, you wouldn’t be wrong. Now knowing that, you can imagine my surprise upon finding out we have to raise money for the school we just paid for. So, adhering to a long standing time-honored tradition I put the kiddo to work.
His task was to write–no, craft–an email for product solicitation. While he got down to business I got to thinking about the old Buck Owens song Waiting In Your Welfare Line. The song, in a nutshell, is about a guy down on his luck, jobless, homeless and hapless, but that could be just about any of us these days in the lower 99. Except this guy’s got, as misguided as it may seem, this thing called hope. Specifically, he’s hoping for the love of a girl, and that is something I fully understand.
The guts of the song were written by DJ and singer / songwriter Nat Stuckey. Born in Texas, Nathan Wright Stuckey II is best known for singing Plastic Saddle, Sweet Thang and Cisco and writing the Randy Travis hit Diggin’ Up Bones and the Jim Ed Brown classic Pop A Top. In 1965 he also wrote the first verse to Waiting In Your Welfare Line. A Shreveport DJ named Frank Page ended up with it and sent it west to Buck Owens. Buck loved the line “I got the hungries for your love / And I’m waiting in your welfare line.” He and Don Rich, his long time partner, wrote the rest of the song and it went to number one on the charts for the Buckaroos in January of 1966. The song is wonderful, but not in the typical Buckaroo style. Listen to the guitar break. Don Rich plays it on an acoustic guitar rather than his signature telecaster. It appeared on Buck’s album Open Up Your Heart, and with the exception of the song Think of Me, Buck sang lead on every song and sang all the harmonies as well.
The Tao Te Ching says that hope is as shallow as fear. I get what Lao-tzu means and perhaps he’s not even wrong, but I bet even that old dead philosopher had his head turned once or twice.
Waitin’ In Your Welfare Line, Buck Owens & His Buckaroos
Post Script ~ For the curious amongst you, what follows is the email penned by my son Eladio, age 22 months.
Dear Loved Ones,
As you all know, it’s pretty tough being a young person in today’s world. There’s no great music being made, the last truly original movie was the 1989 blockbuster Road House staring Patrick Swayze, the sitcoms are terrible and reality television even worse. In fact, I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say civilization as we know it is in decline. We are left with the only possible solace being fresh baked cookies. Yes, delicious, still warm cookies: triple chocolate walnut, lemon snickerdoodle, chewy molasses, oatmeal raisin, classic peanut butter, pumpkin, and of course chocolate chip, nay, chocolate chunk! But, more on this later.
You may not be aware that I started school a few weeks ago. Dad says America is slipping behind the rest of the world and that he already knew his multiplication tables by my age. I guess walking up all those hills to and from school gave him plenty of time to practice. He says reciting prime numbers also took his mind off the aches and pains of going barefoot.
Anyway, my school has been hit particularly hard by Seattle’s liberal elite who’ve chosen to no longer have children. Those extra costs have been passed down to us kids and that’s been exacerbated by the lack of trickle down from private industry which leads me to the point of this email: I’m selling cookie dough to fund my education (please see the tasty varieties above). Now, whether you agree with the culture-in-decline hypothesis and want to eat your way into a coma or maybe just want to set up a friend with a diet-ending prank, I’m sure there is a Cougar Mountain Cookie Dough for you. I don’t know why it’s called Cougar Mountain. That makes me feel afraid.
Please, if you like children and wish for a better future or if you don’t like cougars then consider purchasing my cookie dough. Each tub only costs $15 and my Dad says if this doesn’t pan out I’ll have to sell matches.