Red Bud City

Here’s a little musical ode to my idyllic hometown of Buchanan, Michigan, also known as Red Bud City. Hope you like it.


By Skip Birong

There’re hills above the valley
Where the big, green oaks grow
There’s a shiny silver sun
That shines when it don’t snow

I hear there’s fish in McCoy’s Creek
When the summer comes around
And you can see a robin
On the first day he’s in town

Red Bud City on the St. Joe River
Brings memories to my mind
Home town, home town
Home town on my mind

The Bucks beat Niles on Friday night
There’s a snowflake in your hair
The kids are in the Sweet Shop
Let’s all go to the fair.

Frozen lakes and knee-deep snow
Bring Christmas to the hills
There’s an amber glow out on the snow
From candle on windowsills


You can see the early signs of spring
With the blooms on Red Bud Trail
White lilies in the forest
And a new fawn’s tall white tail

It’s a short walk down to the St. Joe River
Where my grandfather used to swim
But it doesn’t look as clear to me
As it probably did to him


© 2020 by Skip Birong. All rights reserved.

Clyde’s dale

Sister Carol on someone else’s horse.

I’ve always loved horses. Probably because, as I’ve noted in earlier essays, I was raised on a seemingly unending series of TV westerns during my childhood back in the 50’s (remember this? Cowboys and Cowgirls)

As a youngster, I begged my father for a horse. I mean, we lived out in the country and we had a healthy 20 acres or so of land for grazing and such. But, to no avail—until my little sister wanted a horse. And then, suddenly, we had a horse. Hmpf.

His name was Clyde.

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If you have ever enjoyed a box of Cracker Jacks you may recall that each box includes some kind of semi-excellent prize. I quickly learned that those trinkets, along with the peanuts, usually settled to the bottom of the box during shipping. Thus, by opening it from the bottom rather than the top, I was saved from having to eat my way down to the prize and, of course, the peanuts.

As you might expect, the anticipation of discovering the nature of the surprise in there, which might include anything from a pretty neat decoder ring to not-all-that-neat stickers or something, soon became our overriding interest in getting a box of CJs.

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Rite of passage

Seaman Apprentice Birong

The U.S. ended military conscription in 1973. Prior to that, every young man, upon reaching the age of eighteen, was required to register for the draft (as they are to this day, by the way). And then, before the ink was dry on the registration form, each would be on his way to a boot camp somewhere. Of course, there would always be those who would manage to avoid this responsibility one way or another, temporarily if not completely, but most would eventually board a bus bound somewhere for a very short haircut.

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Romancing the bus

As I pointed out in an earlier essay of mine, I have never been a bus driver. Nevertheless, I have extensive busage experience. I rode a bus back and forth to school, I am estimating, a minimum of two hours per day, five days a week, over a period of about nine years of my young life, thus accounting for who knows how many total hours (feel free to do the math).

Those long rides, day in and day out, were pretty boring, so, along with most everyone else on board, I was always on the lookout for some activity to occupy my time. In retrospect, homework or reading would have been an obvious option. But my peers and I were far more likely to be socializing on these protracted trips. At some point, though, as a young teen whose frontal lobes were still largely vacuous, it occurred to me: Why not pursue a little romance? I mean, really, what better way to get to know an attractive co-ed than to sit down next to her at dark-thirty in the morning for some idle conversation?

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