13. Fishing with Daddy

13.  Fishing with Daddy

I felt Daddy’s hand shaking my shoulder, and opened one eye in the dark room.  “It’s 5:30” he whispered, “time to go.”  I snapped awake; we were going fishing; just Daddy and me!  We had acquired bamboo poles and worms at the sports shop the day before, and Daddy had his old tackle box full of hooks and lures.

We went to Woodard Lake, a small lake not far from where we live, where Daddy had arranged for a row boat.  We anchored not far from shore, and dropped our baited lines in the water.  Almost immediately, we started catching fish; small bluegills, all too small to keep. 

Across the lake, we could see another fisherman pulling them in and keeping them.  “He knows where the fish are, he lives here.”  After he left, we rowed to the spot where he had been.  Not one bite!  The fish had moved on.  Later when we were leaving, the man came around and told us he had caught more than the limit, would we like some?  Yes!  At least we had fish to take home and fresh fish for dinner.

Daddy and I went fishing one more time at Long Lake.  Long Lake was much bigger than Woodard, and had more and bigger fish.  Daddy rented a rowboat at the pavilion, and we rowed along the shore until we were away from waterfront cottages.  Then Daddy stood up in the tippy rowboat to cast for bass.  I sat in the rear of the boat frantically trying to balance the rolling boat so we wouldn’t tip over, or Daddy fall overboard.  Fishing was supposed to be fun, not frightening, so I never asked to go again.  We never caught any fish anyhow.

Fishing did not catch my interest, and Daddy didn’t seem enthused, so our fishing trips turned out to be a passing father-son time together.

12. The Chicken Tragedy

12.  The Chicken Tragedy 

In 1943 Daddy answered an ad to make money raising chickens for food for the army.  The company supplied baby chicks and brooder huts.  We were to feed and raise the chickens three months to edible size, and then the company would buy them back.  It was win-win, help the war effort, and make some money.

The truck arrived with three men to build the huts.  One of the men had one arm, and I was fascinated to watch him stick a nail in the Celotex, a fiber board, then whip up his hammer to drive it through with one blow.  The huts were small, and seemed to be placed haphazardly wherever the material came off the truck.  There were half a dozen huts back of the chicken coop and shop, and several randomly placed south of the driveway by the maple tree.  A small kerosene stove provided heat in each hut.

The chicks arrived, and we were in business.  I think there were 1000 chicks, 100 in each hut.  Daddy carried chick feed around, and my job was to keep water in the tray in each hut.

March, 1943, a late winter storm swept across Lake Michigan with strong winds blowing snow, and freezing temperatures.  A freak 100 year storm they said.  Daddy braved the blizzard several times during the night to check, but the wind blew the heaters out, and the cheap fiber board was not meant to keep out freezing temperatures.

Next morning, I will never forget the drained and forlorn look on Daddy’s face as he carried bushel baskets of dead chicks to dispose of them.  It was a total loss. The huts set empty for several years until Daddy dismantled them. 

Daddy grew up on a farm, and understood the vicious nature of the weather. But like the strong man written about in the Bible, 2 Corinthians, 4:9, “…cast down, but not destroyed,” he grieved in silence awhile, then moved on with his life.

Journey to Wellness

Journey to Wellness 

Betty and I just had our annual physical check with our primary doctor.

We were pleased that our blood work showed all items in or close to the normal ranges, and nothing of concern.   

Our doctor went through the required protocol questions, even though he knew the answers.

Did we get a flu shot?  Did we want any vaccInes?  Did we want a bone density test?  There were other questions, but, our answer was “No”.

Our doctor told us we were doing great, and he would see us next year.

As he prepared to leave, he said, “I’m not paternal.  You have the right to manage your own health, and you are doing better than most people.”

We were affirmed to know we are doing great, and, we’d like to share what we do to manage our health.  

The following is a summary of what we’ve learned over the years that has kept us well and medication-free.

Wakeup Call

Our quest for good health began about 1972.  Betty and I had been married for seven years, and we had moved from Hilo on the big island of Hawaii, to Honolulu, where I taught at the university.

I was struggling with multiple allergies, and saw the allergist often for testing and treatment.  Dr. Neilson knew about the residuals from the encephalitis which had paralyzed me when I was a teenager.  On one visit, Dr. Neilson took Betty aside, and said, “Mrs. Hicks, your husband is like an automobile with eight cylinders, with only four working.  You need to keep those four working as best as you can.”

What a wakeup call!  We were motivated!  But motivation requires action and an openness to learn and try new things. 

Coincidentally, or providentially in God’s timing, we learned the components of a healthy lifestyle.

The Change

A friend referred us to Dr. John McDougall, MD, an internist who had become disillusioned with pharmaceuticals and was using diet to help his patients. 

Betty went to one of Dr. McDougall’s meetings, and came home to tell me she had signed up for a cooking class with the doctor and his wife Mary.

They were testing recipes to go in their first book, The McDougall Plan. 

Each week, a group of McDougall patients would meet in the kitchen of a Home Economics Department of a local school, and cook food provided by Mary – all vegetarian.   I could attend as a guest, and eat the food.  It turned out to be great!

However, there was a “catch”!  Betty had signed an agreement to eat vegetarian according to the McDougall Plan for sixty days. I exclaimed: “What! No hamburgers for breakfast; no hot dogs; no ham and cheese sandwiches at bedtime”!  I finally conceded that I could probably survive sixty days without meat.

After eating the delicious food at the cooking class for six weeks, and two months vegetarian, we could tell the difference, and Dr. McDougall’s complex carbohydrate based diet became our nutritional foundation. 

Like I mentioned before, first, motivation, then a willingness to try new things to make a change.

Dr. McDougall mentioned at one of his meetings, that his patients who followed the vegetarian diet lost their allergies to food. I forget how long it took, but my allergies gradually disappeared. Hurrah!   No more antihistamines.  No more allergy tests!

Not By Choice    a tough decision we had to make.  

During the 1980’s we had the opportunity to take a week’s training for certification to teach weight loss workshops.  We were already eating vegetarian, a low cholesterol diet, so we jumped in.  

It was a lot of fun teaching the workshops!  Each week we had a potluck supper with participants bringing a low fat, low cholesterol dish. 

Unfortunately the products that went along with the program were “chemical cuisine.”  We had yet to learn there is a better way to get good nutritious food.

On the supposition that if a little was good, more was better, we kept adding supplements.  Multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, etc. etc.  Every January or February, like clockwork, I got an upper respiratory infection and laryngitis.  In spite of all we were doing, I was slipping downhill.  

Because of the repeated laryngitis, the college kept reducing my teaching load.  My voice wouldn’t hold up for the 75 minute classes.  Finally, in 1989, one year away from reaching the requirement for retirement, the administration offered me a year’s leave of absence, without pay, so I wouldn’t lose retirement benefits.  I took it!  

Then we realized, one can’t live long in Hawaii without income.  Moving from Hawaii was not by choice.  We loved Hawaii having lived there 24 years.  Leaving our friends was hard.  We have many fond memories of all the fun things we did.  

Our journey to wellness now took us to Florida, to consolidate with Betty’s mother, who coincidentally was needing help also. 

For us it was a difficult change, but God had a good serendipity planned for us.  

The Serendipity

It was difficult!  But, we made it to Florida.  Our first priority was to find help for Betty’s mother.  Eating vegetarian with us was making a big difference, and Mother was already reducing medications and looking and feeling better.  

The serendipity was meeting Dale, a nutritionist who had a big impact on our lives!  

Dale’s session with Mother was eye-opening, so we made an appointment for us.  Betty emptied a shopping bag of vitamins and supplements on his desk.  The pile was the culmination of our using the assumption “if a little is good – more is better.”  But – not so! 

 Dale said, “Betty, I can tell you first, that you have very expensive urine.”  

We learned that isolated supplements were only a part of a food, and not utilized very well by the body but just passed on in the urine.  Dale pointed out that processed food had much of the nutritional value removed, and we were consuming chemicals; preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, bulking additives, etc!

We had to make a paradigm shift in our thinking!

Dale introduced us to real food, and whole food concentrates.  It was not long before Mother and I were both much better.  I was physically and mentally improved!

We attended Dale’s seminars, and ended up working with him teaching Healthy Living classes.  Betty would take groups on a “field trip” to a local grocery store for a “treasure hunt” of finding food items that were low in fat, cholesterol, and salt.  The idea was that by taking the time to read labels, it was possible to find healthier alternatives for the foods they were choosing.

That lasted twenty years, with us learning a lot about health, and earning income to supplement my retirement and social security income.

We were now eating fresh and frozen vegetables, and avoiding processed packaged “food” with chemicals.  Our complex carb based meals were now supplemented by whole-food concentrates, not supplements that were parts of food or isolated chemicals.  

Perhaps the most important thing we learned was that our bodies are best when chemically alkaline.  Cancer, and other diseases thrive in an acid environment, so our diet should be 80% alkaline residue food, and 2% acid residue.  

Everything seemed to be in place; we were healthy and medication free.  What more could we need? 

Anti-Aging    Discovering how to slow down the aging process!I  

The latest new-to-us big thing we learned was how important it is for the body to have hormone systems in balance.  Hormones are messengers made by endocrine glands such as the pituitary, that send a cascade of messages to all parts of the body to do their work.  

Endocrine glands such as the thyroid, pituitary, pancreas, and adrenal, send hormones to control use of food (metabolism), body growth, reproduction, healing, blood sugar levels, mood, body temperature, and blood pressure.

After 30 years of age, hormone production declines, and people began to see symptoms of aging.  And, toxins change normal body functions, which can lead to disease conditions. 

We found an anti-aging Gel that boosts hormone production and helps to balance the hormone systems.  One ingredient in the Gel is bio-identical to those from the pituitary gland to slow the aging process!  Other ingredients address the adrenal and thyroid glands to balance the hormone systems.

We both have been using the Gel now for 11 months and we know the Gel works!  One of the first benefits was better and deeper sleep.

In my next blog, I will share in more detail about the benefits we have experienced so far.

What we have learned has given us a lot of hope for making our journey longer and healthier!!

We love to share what we’ve learned over the years, and love to hear people report improvements in their health as a result of implementing our information.  

If you would like information about the Gel, for you or someone you care about, please email or call us.    727-842-8314.

We hope sharing our story has inspired you to make positive changes for your journey to wellness. 

11. Appleseed Corners Fireworks & Fox Hunt

11.  Appleseed Corners Fireworks & Fox Hunt

The Hicks family always bought fireworks for the Fourth of July holiday.  It was an exciting and fun time shooting roman candles, pop-bottle rockets and crackers of all sizes.  We were very disappointed when the State of Michigan outlawed fireworks, and considered getting some out of state, but breaking the law was not our kind of solution.

Then Daddy discovered that fireworks could be purchased for “community display,” and he officially organized the “Appleseed Corners Community” consisting of the Hicks, Yonans and Yeoman’s families — our neighbors. Walter Yeomans was a crop farmer, and the Yonans had a large commercial apple orchard. Their orchard and our small orchard across the road from them was the basis for the “Appleseed Corners” name. They joined us for a back porch barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers, and legal fireworks on the Fourth of July – what fun!

Walter Yeomans probably knew Daddy had been trapping muskrats in our pond, and selling the pelts.  He asked Daddy if he thought the traps might be big enough to catch a fox that was nosing around his chicken coop.  If so, could he borrow a couple? 

Sure.  Of course.  But, now that a fox was brought up, Daddy said he had seen a hole under a big tree at the back of our property across the road and adjacent to the Yeoman’s that very well could be the fox’s den.  Daddy exclaimed, “We can get him there!”  The Appleseed Corners fox hunt idea must have sprung into his mind – and planning began.  A date set, Daddy called and invited the Yonans to join us, I think Alan came too.  Mom and Daddy, Walter and Lucille, Nars and Olive, and me, Bobby, were the total company for the “hunt”. 

I may have been 9 or 10, because I faintly recall having my bugle and blowing “Attention” as we gathered in our driveway and piled into a pickup truck and one car.  Daddy had his 10 gauge shotgun, and instructed everyone to be very quiet. 

After driving down the lane to about thirty yards from the tree, we dismounted, and Daddy waved at Walter to follow him as he moved toward the big tree – the others followed at a distance.  As Daddy rounded the tree he fired his shotgun at the base, and yelled, “I got him!  Walter – grab him, he’s going down the hole!” Walter was quick to respond and leaped to the hole at the base of the tree – saw the fox tail protruding – and grabbed it – yanked it hard – and then stood there holding Mom’s fox fur neckpiece high in the air!

Daddy was laughing uproariously, and the others joined in as the reality of the joke hit Walter.  I think he finally broke down and started laughing too.  Daddy had gotten Mom’s fur piece, left over from the fashions of the ‘20s, from the trunk in the attic, and put it in the hole at the base of the tree the day before.

The “Great Appleseed Corners Fox Hunt” was over, and I presume considered a huge success by everyone… except maybe Walter.

Did Walter trap the fox?  I don’t know.  But for sure, the fox never returned to the big tree!

10. Pheasant Hunt

10.   Pheasant Hunt

After I was presented with my 4-10 shotgun, Daddy suggested we go pheasant hunting.  I was certainly excited to go hunting with Daddy!

We crossed the highway and walked slowly through the tall grass in the field on the east side of our property.  Daddy carried his 10 gauge shotgun over his shoulder.  As I had been taught, I kept my gun carefully pointed safely at the ground in front of my feet.

Suddenly, a pheasant burst from the thick grass a few feet in front of me.  Startled, I jerked back, firing the gun!  The bird dropped dead, a direct hit!  I had accidentally bagged a prime rooster pheasant.

That night, as we enjoyed dinner, we had to carefully spit out the bee-bee shot in the bird meat.  Daddy said to me, “Robbie, next time let the bird get further away before you shoot.”  I said “sure”, but I was too embarrassed to tell him my shot was not on purpose, but an accident of my being startled.

I just enjoyed the compliments for bagging a pheasant on my first hunting trip.

After seeing the beautiful dead bird, and thinking how easy it was to accidentally fire a gun, I decided hunting was not for me.  We never went hunting again.

Danny the Dragon & Ladybug Known as Lil are semifinalists

Danny the Dragon &  Ladybug Known as Lil are semifinalists


Danny the Dragon and The Ladybug Known as Lil are both semifinalists in the Children’s Picture Book category, for the Florida Writer’s 2019 Royal Palm Literary Awards competition!

The winners will be announced at the Florida Writers Association’s awards banquet Saturday, October 19.

Danny is following the same track in the contest in which Mouse in the Manger was a finalist, and Tommie Turtle’s Secret won Best Children’s and Book of the Year.  We are rooting for Danny to go all the way.

The Ladybug Known as Lil was entered as a Children’s Picture Book in the unpublished category, so there are no illustrations.  

We are very affirmed to have two books in the running, and would be delighted if one or both become finalists, and a winner.

If Ladybug advances to finalist, or wins, that might be enough to get the interest of a publisher and we could get another book out to the children.

9. Daddy the Medic

9.   Daddy the Medic

One hot summer day I asked Mom and Daddy to take me to Woodard Lake for a quick cool-off swim.  Woodard Lake was the closest place that had a swimming pavilion.

When we got there, I was dismayed that the place, bar and all, was closed and deserted.  The shallow water swimming area was fenced with chicken wire, but with Daddy’s approval, I climbed the fence and enjoyed showing off my swimming ability, and getting cool.

Then I put my foot down.  Ouch!  I stepped on a broken beer bottle and cut a big deep gash in my foot.  I clinched my teeth, and climbed back over the wire fence, bleeding profusely.

During the short ride home, I was in the back seat, with my leg up, and holding my foot as tight as I could.  Still bleeding profusely, I asked if we were going to the hospital.  Mom said, “no, Daddy was a medic in the army, he’ll fix it at home,”

At home, Daddy cut a “butterfly” fastener out of adhesive tape, and fastened the edges of my cut tightly together.  Then he wrapped my foot in gauze bandage which quickly turned red with the oozing blood.  Daddy said, “Don’t worry, it will stop soon.

I did worry, but the bleeding stopped, and the foot healed.  Daddy to the rescue!

8. Life-Saving Rescue

8.   Life-Saving Rescue

I did a lot of “pretend” games when I was seven or eight and playing alone on Grandpa’s farm. One day I was playing “Commando” climbing in the big maple tree across the driveway from the kitchen door of the house.

My Commando popgun rifle was strapped over my shoulder as I climbed down from the tree. I had to slide through a forked branch and then drop to the ground. When I slid by the branch, my hand slipped and the popgun caught in the fork, with the shoulder strap around my neck. I was trapped! I would be strangled if I let go of the branch! My mind raced as I tried to pull myself up enough to free my neck from the strap tight around my throat.

By God’s provision, Daddy was passing through the kitchen.  He looked out the screen door, and saw my plight.  He slammed through the door, leaped off the porch, and ran to wrap his arms around my legs and lift me up so I could get the gun strap off. Daddy lowered me to the ground, and said calmly, “No more tree climbing today.”

Daddy saved my life!

 (The tree in the picture is the tree where this experience occurred.)

7. Move to the Farm

7.  Move to the Farm

When I was seven, “Gag Ga” (Grandma) Howe passed away, and we moved up to the farm north of Ionia Michigan so it would not have to be sold.

It was 1942. Pearl Harbor was attacked the previous December, and the United States was at war. To a boy of seven, a move from “Big City Detroit” to my grandparent’s farm in the country in central Michigan, was like moving almost to heaven.

“One hundred sixty acres,” Mom said. The house, barn and buildings were on forty acres west of Michigan Highway 66 that ran north and south dividing the property. East of the highway was 120 acres of fields divided by a lane that stretched to distant trees.

For Daddy, moving back near Ionia was moving back to his “roots”. His parents, John and Gazella Hicks, lived on a farm south of Ionia, another quarter section of 160 acres on a dirt road past Tuttle cemetery. There was a stand of maple trees at the back.

Unlike our place which was no longer a working farm, Grampa John was still a subsistence farmer with cows and horses, geese and chickens roaming the yard, and huge hogs in a mud hole close to the house.

Our house was a big old, two-story farmhouse my grandfather Zala built at the turn of the twentieth century, finishing about 1903. Mom said that Grandpa had somehow used work horses to combine three houses to make the house. There were six bedrooms and a basement. Grampa and Grampa Hicks’ house was one bedroom upstairs, and a “great room”, parlor and bedroom downstairs. This is where Daddy grew up in his childhood.

Behind our house was a large shop building with a garage attached to one side. A tiny brick chicken coop housing a few chickens sat in the shade of a tall mulberry tree behind the garage. Daddy later built a big chicken coop connecting the back of the garage to the brick coop.

My other grandparents’ house was set way back from the road. There were several small sheds for storage and where the chickens retreated at night.  A small barn housed the cattle and horses. I do not know why I never went to Grandpa John’s barn.

Daddy drove 4 miles to Ionia for his job at AC Spark Plug. Gasoline was rationed, but spark plugs were a critical wartime product, so Daddy had lots of gas coupons.

We did do some farm crops; wheat, oats, and hay put in the barn. But, the crops did not make much money. Daddy bought a tractor with a plow and a mowing attachment to cut hay. I was proud that Daddy let me drive the tractor, and actually plow the field west of the barn for a crop one year.

Christmas In Hawaii

Christmas in Hawaii

by Robert Z. Hicks

It’s Christmas in Hawaii and there isn’t any snow.
Christmas lights in palm trees are swaying to and fro.
The sun is bright and warm, and shining all day.
Can Santa really come, with no snow for his sleigh?

It’s Christmas in the islands, and all over town,
Keikis packing slippers and their best sleeping gown.
They’re goin’ sleep at grandma’s hale, and see the family.
They’ll hang mistletoe and holly, and trim a Christmas tree.

They’ll be making cookies, malasadas and more,
To share with the neighbors who live next door.
There’ll be barbecue chicken and Christmas kaukau,
And haupia pudding and ono laulau.

The keikis all snuggle up cozy in their beds,
While visions of Li Hing mui dance in their heads,
When up on the rooftop they hear “pitter patter”.
Hoof beats of reindeer? Naw, just rain, it’s no matter.

Down by the beach someone yelling, “Yoo-hoo!
Santa comin’, in one outrigger canoe,
Pulled by dolphins jumping out of the blue.”
With presents for the keikis, and tutu too.

“Gather ‘round all kanes and wahines too,
There’s lots of presents for all of you.”
Quick as a wink Santa gave gifts to all,
To Maile a muumuu, and to Kimo a ball.

Then Santa with a shaka sign to you and to me,
Jumped in da canoe and set out to sea.
He called “Mele Kalikimaka”, as he sailed out of sight,
“Aloha nui loa, and to all a good night.”

Bob Hicks
Christmas 2007


Hawaiian Vocabulary

Keikis                    children
Hale                       house or home
Malasadas            deep-fried doughnut – may be filled with pork, coconut, etc.
Kaukau                  food
Haupia                   coconut pudding
LauLau                   pork or fish wrapped in taro or luau leaf
Li Hing mui            candy made from salty plums.
Tutu                        grandma or grandparents
Kanes                     boys
Wahines                 girls or young women
Muumuu                 a loose, brightly colored dress
Shaka sign             sign of friendly intent or  “Hang Loose”
Mele Kalikimaka     Merry Christmas
Aloha nui loa          much love