“Geezers,” an Essay by Gordon Duff (1997)

A Post for a Veterans Internet Site Long Gone



This was posted on the Vietnam War boards on AOL a number of years ago. (maybe 1997) The site with its combat stories from dozens of vets was erased by AOL because it wasn’t “family friendly”. Ten-thousand posts written by vets disappeared. This one showed up in the bottom of a closet, the victim of having been printed by someone.

Others downloaded some. This is one of the ten thousand from one of the few dozen who wrote them. The time is the Clinton scandal and the election. It is in response to a cut and paste of a “Geezer” story copied from a right-wing patriot site. The “Geezer” was the usual heroic, simple American who so often tends to blindly follow our periodic political forays into fear and fascism.

And so it went:


Reminds me of Kansas…hellish Kansas

Dodge City, I think.

They have Geezers in Kansas…a state full of them and “it”.

In another world there were Geezers, too. Run the clock back to…let’s say…1959. I was a kid on vacation with my parents and older brother in northeast Ontario.

We, and a ton of people from Ohio, fished there on the French River. We stayed in a cottage on a small rocky island with 4 other cottages. It was owned by a guy named Lew from Cleveland.

French River

The French River is one of the most beautiful waterways on the planet. It is a hundred miles of twists and turns and high rocky banks.

Down about a mile or so from the island I was staying on, there was a shack. In it, for uncounted years, lived “The Commissioner”. Nobody knew why they called him that.

Like most Canadians we met, he was probably a vet. From his age, I would have guessed he was a vet of The Great War, as the WW2 vets were then a lot younger than we are now.

His shack was surrounded by birdhouses and carvings he had made. You could see them when you went past in your boat. At a distance, it looked like a junk pile, kind of like those “lawn jockey hells” you pass nearly everyday here in Ohio. But, up close, there was that clear air about it that only handmade wooden things can give.

There were also animals. You always saw deer begging at his door or flocks of birds.

He had an old, homemade rowboat. He could often be seen out on the water with birds flocking around him. If you got close enough, you could see the birds sitting on the boat…on him…his shoulders or sitting on the back of his hand.

In Kansas he would have been stoned. Children would have burned down his house and poisoned the animals.

He was….different. He was my “Geezer”.

People there in Canada loved and respected him. Nobody said he might be a pervert or child molester, even though he was a veteran but didn’t belong to the Canadian Legion. They just left him alone.

Eventually he died. I went back there this summer, and nobody remembers him. Only the foundations of his shack remain…the shack he lived in for 50 years.

The birds remember.

The deer remember.

The river remembers.

But, as I point out again, this was not Kansas.

They have Geezers too, especially in Dodge City. I spent a year there one day.

God, if he or she lives, never made Kansas. The God (or G-d) I hear about made Colorado and Northern California. Kansas was made by the pioneers.

Kansas had been Indians and buffalo and, before that, mastodons and giant sloths, and before that, the bottom of an inland sea.

Dinosaurs had roamed Kansas. Imagine the mighty tyrannosaurus rex being replaced at the top of the food chain by “Geezers”.

Geezers are the top of the food chain now. Geezers hunt. But they only hunt on Sunday.

Dodge City Days tourism

The rest of the week they spend watching the mailbox for that social security check or some new advertisement for beltless pants, so they can finally retire those suspenders.

Their nights are spent on sleeping pills, coming down from the caffeine-driven haze. Sleeping pills come from the drugstore, paid for by Medicare. They have no insurance nor any retirement.

Butchering animals or working in a fetid feedlot is one of those “no benefit” jobs. Kansas is a “no benefit” state. Benefits only come in those autoworker states with the good schools and things like that. Those states have “negros” and welfare.

No “welfare” in Kansas, only Mexicans.

Kansas is full of Mexicans. Only Mexicans work like dogs with no health insurance or benefits. No Mexican would be dumb enough to vote for politicians who want bad schools for their kids or to oppose laws that would make a safer workplace.

But, I have been to Mexico. Even Mexicans complain about Kansas.

Kansas has Geezers. Geezers hunt on Sundays. Maybe it’s their pioneer genes.

Pioneers traveled the Oregon Trail. Pioneers traveled the Santa Fe Trail. Funny, the Santa Fe Trail starts in Dodge City. If the pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail started in Dodge City, who is it that stayed?

Santa Fe Trail

Didn’t the Oregon Trail go to Oregon? Who are the people who stayed in Kansas? Was it the dry soil or the ugly brown weeds that kept them there?

Did they foresee a future of bleak towns? Did they see grain elevators or the steaming stench rising off the corporate feedlots? Did they somehow know that tractors and combines would eventually be air-conditioned?

Even Eisenhower left Kansas. So did John Denver, who wasn’t even named John Denver.

So did Gene Autry.

They ran and never looked back. Maybe they were running from the Geezers. They only hunt on Sundays. I saw them in Dodge City.

The suspenders used to be red. They are pink now, just like the eyes. The hair used to be black and greasy. It is grey now or gone.

Geezers used to hunt with the pack. Geezers dreamed.

They dreamed of Cadillacs and sex with movie stars. They dreamed of being a hero on the battlefield. They dreamed of touchdowns, and sex with cheerleaders.

Now they dream about winning the lottery or having people they don’t like get cancer….or of dark things. Things that even get taken off the internet.

On Sundays they hunt. They sit at their table in the truckstop, bones from their kill stacked in front of them. It was a tough day for cows, chickens and potatoes. The signs of the struggle were everywhere…shirt fronts, table tops and the worn tile floor otherwise strewn with tobacco juice and cigarette butts.

To help shove it all down there is gravy…from cans.

While they hunt, they chew and smoke and spit. Today’s prey is Chelsea Clinton. The fangs used are wagging tongues and store bought teeth. The “kill” is accomplished with a leering comment.

This is how they hunt on Sundays. They train all week long. Endless hours of Rush Limbaugh and TV preachers leave them stoked up for blood.

Geezers hunt on Sundays…in Dodge City.

When they die, the wind forgets them. By their final breath, their children have already picked their bones clean.

Their kids learned to hunt with the pack too. Eventually the checks stop. The mailbox goes unwatched.

A lazyboy recliner sits empty. A remote control goes unused. No more carefully punched ballots for this hunter.

No more Mexicans or Negros or “liberals” to strike down in the name of patriotism.

A TV preacher has to find money elsewhere for his crusades…his Mercedes…his air-conditioned doghouse…or his whores. (“I have sinned!!)

Even Bob Dole left Kansas.


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  1. Mr. Duff

    In fly over America, states such as Kansas have massive networks of rural unpaved roads that attract cyclists from all over the world to ride and race on.

    This new part of the sport of cycling is called gravel grinding and there most prominent event is called the Dirty Kanza and they have a lottery to get in as it is huge bringing in big bucks to the towns.


    Anyway, just saying…


  2. In the Flint Hills of Kansas – tale of lumbering Logan

    We had three new guys start this week in landscaping. One of them, Logan – reminded me of Lennie Small, the giant in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”. At the end of the day he was out on his feet at the point of heat exhaustion. His work ethic over two days was commendable despite his disadvantage in size and a considerable amount of ‘baby fat’ – for ant of a kinder phrase, that protruded out and wobbled, ruffled and billowed by turns as he walked a straight line. Here, back at the shop and a buzz of anticipation in the air at getting off for the weekend, Logan sat with a catatonic gaze, stooped like a large, loose sack of spuds. Logan weighs about 320 lbs and is 6 and a half feet tall. It hardly surprised me that today’s scorching Kansas sun reduced this guy to an amorphous lump of humanity collapsed on a chair. I had the impression he was levitating. He looked up at me: “Landscaping ain’t my mojo”. I said we’d keep him out of the sun on Monday. Not sure he heard me. He stared at the door with a look on his face that told me this was the last place on God’s earth he ever wanted to be. I went by the supervisor’s door and told him I was taking Monday off.

  3. The book could be on the used book list by not. One could be gotten, scanned, and a pdf version done. There is some very important historical material there of the early evolution of the internet, before it was taken over by pimps and whores.

  4. Years ago I had a chemistry teacher who proclaimed, “If you ever saw them make sausage you would never eat it again.” The other day it was reported someone ate a Big Mac which was “crunchy”. Then they found a fingernail inside the burger! The great author Upton Sinclair pointed both barrels at this disgraceful part of our history over a century ago, but little has changed. In the 1938 book “Letters from the Earth”, published about 28 years after his death, Mark Twain proved Man evolved down from the higher animals. Here is his proof, based on facts and observations: “I placed one Anaconda Snake with a herd of 500 sheep; it took one for its meal. I placed two hunters (not necessarily from Kansas) with a herd of 500 buffalo; they slaughtered the whole herd. I therefore conclude from this evidence and facts that MAN EVOLVED DOWN FROM THE HIGHER ANIMALS.” Mark Twain is perhaps America’s greatest writer. They have had a full time professor at UC Berkeley for over a century editing and publishing his many unpublished works during his lifetime. Many were too “controversial” to be published at that time.

    • Mark Twain was a great author. We studied his books at secondary school, where they were a part of educational program in the educational system in USSR. Twain, Shakespeare, H. Longfellow, O’Henry, and many many others. I learned to read when i was 4 y.o and my parents had a great library at home for me and my sister. There were classics from all the World. I liked reading. And those authors tought us what was good or bad, they showed me the life, countries, adventures, facts, etc.

  5. Nice read; what’s kind of sad is now that children and young adults don’t read literature, especially the classics; they don’t have a proper perspective of the human condition. Universally they don’t respect the elderly, they don’t volunteer, and attention spans last nano-seconds. If you have a child that reads, you know the difference, count your blessings.

  6. Kansas is the place where your not anymore. The place of steady skyline and consistent horizon. the place where the flat earth is obvious and circumpolar vistas are a thing of divine dreams. The place where the dust is a thing, and how it gets into your trailer a mystery. A land full of magic and mysterium. The place where Dorothy tried to hide from the tornado, and fruit cellars are the savior, but if you know a little magic, all is possible. Kansas is a flat earth. The sun rules it with dust and wind. Just to the south of the middle, is a place where dreams are all that is tangible, and wishes are all that comes of hope. That place where people stopped, and said, we can go no further. this is the place. To those people, I say, “What the hell are you doing ?”

    • two books now long out of print, collected by Ed Nicholls, USA/USMC now gone also.

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