About Big George September 7, 2011

I am a Baby Boomer through and through, which means I have always had a lot of competition for employment. There are more of us boomers out there than any other generation before World War 2 or since. My daddy was a city cop in Monroe, LA and my momma delivered Sears and Roebuck catalogs door to door in Arkansas and Louisiana. We never had a lot of money to spare, and what we did have we used camping, hunting, and fishing. We lived for these things. I wrote a novel Blue Bayou Days, The Summer of 61 about these adventures and baseball.

I started working when I was 11. I walked all over the south side of Monroe mowing grass for 2 bits a yard, that is a quarter. I did not have to work to support the family; I worked because my grandfather always said money burns a hole in my pocket. Money ain’t everything my daddy said, but it is way ahead of whatever comes in second. I have always liked to buy toys. Now the toys are 4 wheelers, mules, boats, and picking up trucks. I do remember I spent my first real pay check on a set of antique glasses with 18 karat gold along the top edge for my momma at an auction in Hot Springs Arkansas. Momma kept the entire set of 8 glasses all of her life and bragged that I got them for her with my first pay check. Sadly, I only have one of them left.

My grandfather taught me that getting a job is as easy as falling off a log and I think this still applies today. He said just show up. Wear your overhauls and bring a hammer. I loved my first real job the most. I showed up at Bendel Stadium Little League Baseball Park when I was 12. I started helping mow the grass, raking the infield and painting the foul lines, on deck circle, and batter’s boxes. I worked for peanuts, literally and popcorn and cokes. When the groundskeeper quit to go to LSU, I took over and made a whopping $40 a week. I brought my momma’s glasses with the first check. Later I would show up where people were building houses.  I wore my overhauls and carried my hammer. I must have helped build 20 real fine houses. My favorite part was crawling around in a 120 degree attic laying in fiberglass insulation. The first time I went up there the sweat washed in the fiberglass particles into my back and belly. I started hollering and the boss asked what is wrong. I shouted that the fiberglass is killing me. He said pour some coal oil on it.  

I showed up with my overhauls and a shovel at highway construction sites. I arrived at the site and looked for a man with a white hard hat sitting in an air conditioned white truck. In high school or college I helped make 18th street 4 lanes, I built Interstate 20 from Monroe to Rayville, and I built a runway down at the Selman Field airport. These jobs taught me the importance of getting an education, because I saw people my age now, 63, working in the 100 degree temperature.

I can tell you exactly why it takes 10 years to repair the roads. When I showed up at T. L. James Construction Company to help widen 18th Street, a fellow said here is a shovel, lean on it. If you see a white truck, use it. The construction jobs are the livelihood for workers and their family. Some of these guys stay in hotels during the week and only go home on the weekends. I see them all the time when I travel to smoke schools. You see them clubbed up together tailgating with beer, pizza, and chips. I see them either one to a room, or two, or if they are Mexicans, maybe 6 or 8 in a room. Some employers are just cheapskates. Back in the Air Force, we had 2 to a room. When I traveled with Louisiana DEQ we had our own private room. Our employees get a private room.

Many construction workers move with their family to the construction area. When I was in the Air Force, we stayed at a base for 2 years to 6 years. Although I never enjoyed being away from my parents, cousins, and friends, I sort of enjoyed moving so often. About the time you get fed up with people and the location, you moved. I do miss the friends I had for 13 years and wish I could find them again. I really miss the great friends I had for 17 years at DEQ too. There must be half a million people, I know 10 million people but I ain’t got no friends. I learned that line from my new favorite singer Johnny Cougar Mellencamp who sings about John Cockers.

I don't accommodate nobody
I just take care of myself
Gotta house down on a dusty road
I don't need nobody else
I gotta wife and some kids
I don't know where they're at
I know many many people
But I ain't got no friends

Well I used to have some values
Now they just make me laugh
I used to think things would work out fine
But they never did do that
All these bosses and the rules
It's hard for me to fit in
Must be ten million people
But I ain't got no friends

Well I'm a little isolated
I live most days in my head
And when I go to sleep at night
I got no sheets on my bed
I'm a little hard headed
I can't wait for this to end
I see people coming and going
But I ain't a got no friends

Well I look out of my window
Into the darkness of night
My head gets to spinning
So I shut out the light
I don't care if I see tomorrow
If I had a reason I'd pretend
I know one thing for certain
I ain't a got no friends

Well one of these days my anger
Get the best of my soul
In one desperate moment
I'm gonna dig me a hole
I'm gonna lie down in it
And let be what will be
When the morning sun rises
There'll be no one to mourn for me

When the morning sun rises
There'll be no one to mourn for me

I don't accommodate nobody
I just take care of myself
Gotta little house on a dusty road
And I don't need nobody else
I gotta wife and some kids
I don't know where they're at
I know many many people
But I ain't got no friends

Sweet Angie went to Vincennes University with Johnny Cougar Mellencamp. He changed his name to Johnny Cougar back when he was playing the local night joints. Then he changed it back to Mellencamp, his birth name. Angie had been trying to get me to listen to Mellencamp for 8 years, but I prefer Hank, Lefty, Willy, Buck Owens, and Waylon. I told my Veterinarian the other day that I named my new kitten Johnny Cougar who is my only favorite singer still alive except for Willy and Hank.

I was sitting relaxing on the front porch in my LSU rocking chair bright and early last week. I was smoking a Winston Light, drinking a cup of fresh ground Community Coffee talking to my hound dogs, and listening  to my ducks, chickens and turkeys when this wormy looking gray kitten showed up. I ran it off but like the rain it kept showing back up. Next thing you know I got it in my lap and to the vet. I could use a real friend. Next time you are in the neighborhood stop by and sit on the porch with me. Buck Owens used to say that he had been all over the earth and everywhere he looked there was people. He said it was a good thing, because those who ain’t made friends with animals would be mighty lonely.

Getting a job today ain’t much different than it was back then. Just wear the kind of clothes you will be working in and bring a hammer. Get there early.

Just walk in and find the coffee pot. Sit down and listen and learn for about a week. Make the coffee and get to know the folks. Find out who is in charge and go visit with them. Next thing you know you are on the payroll. Been there, done that and it works like a charm every time.

I heard a story on National Public Radio about a dude that created a webpage about the person he wanted to work for. When the boss Goggled himself he found the story and hired the dude.  

I am getting bored typing and need to go sit in the hot tub on the back porch. I think I broke my left thumb with the electric drill trying to bore a drain hole in an old freezer that I want to use to store flammable liquids out in the shop where the temperature Hoovers around 129 degrees. Let me cut and paste in some things about me from the main home page or our web site. See you later gater. GAW Uncle George.


Old Friends (With Willy Nelson, Roger Miller, & Ray Price) Lyrics

Old friends pitching pennies in the park
Playing croquet till it's dark old friends
Mmm, old friends swapping lies of life and loves
Pitching popcorn to the doves old friends, mmm

Old friends looking up to watch a bird
Holding arms to climb a curb
Old friends, oh, old friends
Old friends Lord when all my work is done
Bless my life and grant me one
Old friend, at least one old friend

Old friends looking up to watch a bird
Holding arms to climb a curb, old friends
Mmm, old friends, Lord when all my work is done
Bless my life and grant me one
Old friend, at least one old friend

My Name is Sue. How do you do?

I'm a dirty ole man, do what I can. Try to make a living. I'm a dirty ole man.Neil Young

I bet if I think real hard. I can remember when I got my first pair of shoes. Mama said they'd take me anywhere. Those look like comfortable shoes that you have on. Mama always said there's a lot you can tell about a person by their shoes. Where they've been, and where they're going. I've worn lots of shoes. Please take a few minutes from your busy schedule to walk down the road a piece with me. Walk a mile in my shoes.

Hello ....My name is George Artie Whitlow- GAW, The Ole Man in the red socks, The folks at the EPA that know me call me a legend in my own mind. Some of the EPA folks just call me theGood Ole Boy. Some of my old time LDEQ buddies call me Lightening or

Read my bio below to find out why they call me Lightening. I am the founder and president of Whitlow Enterprises. I am a bootstrap person. Grab your bootstraps and pull yourself up. My Mama always used to say, "Have faith, keep trying, never give up, and you will be a success. A quitter never wins and a winner never quits."Why me Lord. What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I've know. For some reason the Good Lord takes care of me, my family, and my friends who work for us. I don't deserve it, but like the humming birds and the butterfly he takes care of our every need. My grandmother, Lois Harp Wroten from Minden Louisiana introduced me to Jesus when I was knee high to a grasshopper. I got to know Jesus up close and personal several years later in the United States Air Force. I havefaith like a mustard seed and he has blessed us. He blessed us with you. I appreciate all of your friendship and support over these many years.

Beginning in 1984, amongst many other things, I operated a Louisiana DEQ Air Analysis TSP high volume air sampling site at Bobby Wentz meat market and cattle farm on River Road along the Mississippi River nearGeismar Louisiana. I visited the site at least once a week to calibrate the samplers and replace the sampling filters for the next run. I tried to get there at the end of my work day, so I could spend time with Bobby Wentz. We were old friends me and this old man, like desperados waiting for a train. Bobby was 60 years old when we met in 1984. Bobby was a John Wayne True Grit mountain of a man. He stood 6 ft 7. He looked like he had been rode hard and put away wet. He displayed a large smile and a sun baked bronze tan leathery complexion with brown Red Man Chewing Tobacco stains running down his chin. He always looked like he needed a shave. He usually wore a long white apron and a white butcher's uniform. If he was not butchering, he wore loose fitting kaki farm clothes and a John Deer cap. He was very strong and I am glad he was on my side. Many times I watched him pick up half a cow to hang on the meat hook above his head.

He was born in the back bedroom of the unpainted rusty looking old wood frame farm house next to his butcher shop. You would never know that Bobby was a multimillionaire. He lived on, butchered on, farmed on, and hunted on over a thousand acres of pasture and timber land on either side of the Mississippi River levee. He took over the land after his parents died and he never lived anywhere else. Before we met he sold all of his land to the Cos-mar Chemical Company. Cos-mar used the land to build a plant and create a buffer zone to limit local competition along the river. This also eliminated any environmental complaints because nobody lived anywhere near the plant except for Bobby and Bobby never complained, not even to me. Cos-mar allowed Bobby and family to live on, butcher on, and farm the land. Bobby said they paid him 9 million dollars. I looked around at his living conditions and asked him what in the Sam Hill did you do with the money. He said he had 10 kids, 10 grand kids, and 10 great grand kids.

He drove an old beat up rusted out Ford pickup truck. Like me, Bobby was a true redneck. The fenders and the doors did not match the rest of the truck. He used an old very large flat blade Craftsman screwdriver for a gearshift lever. Bobby did not like to change the implements on his tractors, so he kept 4 antique tractors in excellent shape. He used separate tractors for plowing, bush-hogging, and finish mowing. In addition to raising and slaughtering cows, Bobby brought and sold pecans. He said that he had been in the pecan business since he was 7 years old. He used to buy them for a nickel a pound and sell them for 7 cents. Every Christmas I would buy a 40 pound bag of pecans from Bobby and take them to LSU Ag Center to borrow their giant automated nutcracker. I would crack the pecans, then gift wrap them up for Christmas presents, especially for my Yankee in-laws in Indiana. I would save what was left for pecan pies.

I often helped Bobby unload burlap bags of pecans from his customer’s car trunks and put them on his antique scales. Bobby had a kitchen next to the butcher shop. The kitchen was fully equipped with a TV set and a refrigerator full of beer. He was one of my best friends and we spent many hours at the kitchen table telling stories. Bobby would drink a cold Falstaff and run his fingers through 70 years of living. He was one of the heroes of this country. Bobby had a stroke that left him with a slurring stuttering voice and somewhat disabled. The doctors made him stay out of the butcher shop cooling room and quit picking up cows and butchering them. That just gave us more time to chat and drink beer.

My high volume samplers were on a wooden platform in a 20 foot by 20 foot area fenced in with barbwire on the edge of his pasture. The cows would always come over to watch me work, and we had interesting conversations that went something like this. " Did you hear that gunshot Betsy? I think Bobby just shot your big brother. He's pretty graveyard dead. If I were you I would run real fast and jump over that fence and head for the high country. You could be next, ya never know." Betsy would always look at me with those warm big brown eyes and say, "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-" Bobby always had about a hundred cows and I named them all Betsey or Elsie. U C I even treat cows like people. Say hello to Betsey. I C U 2.

I always kept the grass in my pin mowed trim and the grass in the pin was always greener. The cows were always leaning over the fence for the green lush grass. Eventually they knocked down a large portion of the fence. I had 3 air samplers on the platform and exposed outdoor electrical wiring. I was concerned that the cows might get fried, so I rebuilt the pin. That particular day in 1998 changed my life. I loaded about 10 fence posts on my shoulders. It had been rain'n like a cow pee'n on a flat rock. My wooden walkway across the drainage ditch was slicker than slime on a doorknob. I was wearing my high water Cajun Wing Tips, or Cajun Reeboks, knee high white rubber boots. I slipped and fell on the walkway and landed hard on my backend like a ton of bricks with a big loud thud. Three days later I could not get out of bed. The pain shot down from my mid lower back just above the hips, to my lower left hip, and down my left leg. I was in bad shape because I could not stand up, lie down, or sit up without severe pain.

The doctors made me get butt nak'd and take off my girdle. Then they made me put on some sort of a bed robe with tiedowns on the back. I could not reach the tiedowns, so I mooned all of the nurses. It was the blue moon over Kentucky. The doctors put me inside a washing machine or something with a narrow long tunnel that squeezed my belly. It was so tight in there that I had trouble breathing. Then they turned on a lawnmower or something and it rotated around and around the tunnel. The doctor said it was a cat scan but I did not see any cats. I wanted to get out of that washing machine and prayed that I would never get sick enough to ever get into another one- ever. The doctors said I had a bulging disk and a damaged sciatic nerve and recommended surgery. I had heard a lot of bad things about back surgery so I did not want any part of it. The doctors shot me up with steroids, and gave me pain pills. The next month was a nightmare. I crawled on the floor. The pain pills only lasted about an hour. I could not even stay in bed. I had always been a workaholic and I could not work. The boss tried to force me into medical disability because I ran out of sick leave. Thank the Lord for worker’s compensation.

We had an old computer but I did not know how to turn it on. I had heard rumors about the internet so I decided to learn computers. I had nothing to kill but time. I took a pain pill and lay on the floor or on a blanket on the ground under our mimosa tree and discovered the internet. I wrote my first webpage a few weeks later. This is my diary and a place that I come to talk to you. I post these stories on the webpage. Come back anytime. I am always home. It will be like the good ole days with Bobby and me. I never really know if anyone is reading the webpage or if thy enjoy it. Please email me your comments about the webpagesmokeschool@yahoo.com .

They tried to force me into disability retirement, but I love to work and I loved my job. I said I have faith, I will get better, and I will be back to work. I discovered Vax-D on the internet. Basically their treatment involves ole fashioned stretching of the spine to relieve the pressure on the discs and nerves to allow you to heal without surgery. I used a wheel chair to enter into the clinic. The staff rented a forklift and picked me up out of the wheel chair and placed me on the stretching machine. The slightest movement caused severe pain. After the third treatment I got off the table and walked out of the door. Two weeks later I was back at my old job. A month later I was picking up air conditioners and putting them back in the wall. Six months later I was skinning buck and running trotlines. That was in 1998. The sciatic nerve pain is still here today but it is manageable. I can’t sit in a chair for long periods of time. If I drive I need to take a break about every hour, walk around and stretch. I rarely take pain pills. And that is the way it is.

Congratulations, you have finished STAGE 3. You have read about me, why old friends are important, and why I write WebPages for a hobby. You can click on one of the fast links below or scroll past the links to gain some more insight about me- where I came from, where I have been, why I went there, and how I got there. Then you can finish off with our crew resumes, more about our unique style of smoke schools, and why smoke school is required to read opacity.



STAGE 4- Where I have been, how I got there, why I went there, where I am going.

Angela and I say it is time to rock and roll.

I graduated from the School of Hard Knocks. Hindsight is 20/20. I was born in Monroe, Louisiana just across the Ouachita River from this kitchen table at our little house in the woods in 1948. That makes me aBaby Boomer. When World War 2 ended, our daddies came home and said, "I've been overseas fighting a war for 4 years, lets go make a baby." We Boomers have seen some changes. Back when I was a young Buck, we did not know what an air conditioner was. It was 107 degrees and we had an attic fan with all the windows open full blast. We never even heard the word television. I walked 7 miles toLida Benton School each day in a blizzard. We lived on the right side of town, but just barely. We lived at 713 Nichols Ave and the railroad track was 2 houses down. I remember watching theSouthern Pacific passenger train stop on the track on it's way to the Big Easy, New Orleans. I remember the steam from the engine, the sound of the horn, and seeing the passengers inside wearing their business suits. Everyone going to and fro, not noticing the little boy on the ground watching them.

Daddy was a cop and Mama delivered Sears and Roebuck catalogs door to door. We had a maid named Suzie Q. You can say what you want to about racial inequality in the south. But in the Whitlow house, Suzie Q ruled the house. When Daddy came home from work at Dinner time on his tricycle Harley police motorcycle, Suzie Q had the table set with black-eyed peas, turnip greens,Southern fried fish, Sothern fried chicken, and rice and gravy, andhot water cornbread. Suzie Q announced that it was time to sit and eat, and we all sit as she expected.

Suzie Q was not just the maid, she was my Nanny. She was with me all day. She kept me company during week-end camping trips for fishing and hunting. She went on vacation with us. When we traveled, Suzie packed us sandwiches and other lunches. I now realize that she did this because she was not allowed to be served in the Cafe. She never liked making a fuss and she never complained. Some days on special occasions Suzie and I would take a bus trip downtown to theRed Onion Cafe. Back in the 50's The Red Onion Cafe was a soul food restaurant on De Seard Street in Monroe, Louisiana. Since it was a black restaurant, Suzie and I had to sit in the back room. Whenever she and I took a bus trip downtown, we always sit at the back of the buss. I had always thought she just liked sitting at the back of the bus. Suzie Q was my bestest friend. Back when I was a young little buck, Suzie Q would take me fishing. We walked a few blocks down to the Ouachita River and fished with cane poles on the riverbank. We used worms that Suzie Q dug up from under the mimosa tree. We caught catfish as big as your finger. Suzie Q fried them whole and we ate them for a snack. Susie Q taught me the truth about racism and that all God's creatures should be treated with dignity and respect. My personal opinion is that most Baby Boomers grew up with maids. Women entered the workforce during World War 2, and many continued working to improve family living conditions. The unique relationship between the Baby Boomers and their maids led to the civil rights movement. That is just my humble opinion.

We used our imagination and made forts out of big ole cardboard boxes that lasted until it rained. We played football and baseball all day outside, even during a hurricane. We played chase, kick the can, and spin the bottle. At night our family listened to Harry Cary and the St. Louis Cardinals on the radio and played Monopoly and family card games like Rook and Penny Ante Poker with all of the neighbors and friends.

In 1986 we moved to The Old Goodwood neighborhood nearIndependence Park in Baton Rouge. The old quiet peaceful neighborhood was built quickly after World War 2 to accommodate the returning veterans and their Baby Boomer children. We moved there to be close to my oldest and most dearest family friend, Duke Andrepont. We quickly made friends with the neighbors who lived in the neighborhood since the beginning. I rarely saw the other neighbors until the day after the eye of Hurricane Andrew passed over our house. We had to spend a week without television, air conditioning, or electricity. Everyone sit out on the front porches. We all had deer meat, and fish ruining in the freezer. We barbecued the deer, and fried the fish out in the front yard. We had hurricane parties and we all got to know our neighbors. A week later, my front porch light came on and I haven't seen most of the neighbors since.

I attended Neville High School from 1962 to 1966. I had to dress in style. Suzie Q had to wash my jeans and soak them in starch. Then she slid wire stretchers down the legs of the jeans and hung them out on the clothesline. When I put the jeans on, I had to force the legs open, because they were as stiff as a board. I wore saddle oxfords or wingtips.

I Played football for Buck Stewart, Bill Ruple, and Charlie Brown. I had to run though a team beltline soMr. Robinson,my math teacher, would change an F to a D to keep me from flunking off the team. Years later when Governor Edwin Edwards married Candy, I drove from Baton Rouge back to Monroe to inform Mr. Robinson that I was right in the math class. I told you that 79 could go into 18. Back in the 60's, I was big, mean, and very aggressive. My number was 71. I played defensive nose tackle and I ate the quarterback's lunch. We did not win very many games, because during a practice scrimmage, I broke Terry Joe Warrick's leg in 3 places. Terry Joe was our star quarterback. From time to time the other team kept me honest just to remind me they could. Two elephants ran over me. Is was hard to make the tackle when I was flat on my back with two elephants laying on top of me. When I came to, out of the corner of my eye, I saw their quarterback's numbers upside down and fading, getting smaller and smaller as he crossed the end zone.

I remember exactly where I was when they shot John F Kennedy. I was standing at the pencil sharpener in the Neville High School study hall when Walter Cronkite came on the loud speaker above my head and announced the President has been shot.

After I grew up as a Boomer, the job competition was something fierce. I was unemployed 3 times for a year each time from my 1969 enlistment in the USAF until today. With today's economic conditions, many people have joined the ranks of the unemployed. I have been there, done that, and took a picture of it. Therefore we offer free smoke school certification and training to the unemployed. Mama always used to say, "You have to give back."There are a lot of us Baby Boomers; we make up 29% of America's population. Like many Boomers before me, I finally retired from my day job with Louisiana DEQ. I took a leap of faith and decided to become an entrepreneur of sorts doing exactly what I did as a state employee. I blow smoke and conduct smoke school. Now instead of working 8 to 5, I work 24-7 planning, directing, and conducting the best Smoke School in the nation.

I would never have chosen this path without faith in the good Lord, the internet, Google Maps, and the simple life with the GPS, "Make a U-turn... Recalculating...Recalculating... You have arrived at your destination. You are in Kalamazoo, Michigan. " Now I am on vacation all of the time, because I am doing exactly what I love. I love seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and touring all of the beautiful places in this great nation. My good fortune has not changed me one iota, except I threw away my watch, got old-timers, and forget what day it is. As you can see from the webpage I am still a redneck. I spent more hours in my truck than I did in the classroom. Thank all of you for choosing Whitlow and making this great life possible. I could not have done it without all of you.

Somehow I managed to graduate in 1966 from Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana. I had my distractions in my old stomping grounds- girls, fast cars, hunting, fishing, baseball and football. You have to set your prerogatives. I had 3 years of college and got credit for 1 at Northeast State University, now ULM. I should have gone to some of my classes, brought the books, and read them. In May of 1969 our nation was involved in the Vietnam War.My college dean warned me that my academic probation was about to expire and I was about to be drafted. My Daddy a World War 2 Marine Corp Veteran always used to say, "War is like a turkey shoot, but you are the turkey." This is where my life began to change.

Then they sent me to back to Altus AFB, Oklahoma where I served with Don as an Bioenvironmental Health Technician. Later the Air Force transferred me to RAF Alconbury England, and Eglin AFB, Florida where I served as a Technical Sergeant E-6 NCOIC Environmental Medicine. I stayed extremely busy. I worked in occupational medicine, sanitary and public health, communicable diseases, industrial hygiene, environmental protection, conducted inspections, conducted audiology tests, administered physical exams for exposure to toxic substances and radiation, and continued my training instructor career by conducting many training classes in public health, environmental, hazardous noise, hazardous materials, radiation, and Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare Defense.

An interesting part of my air force environmental job involved hearing conservation. Back when I enlisted in 69, I was exposed to hazardous noise from jet engines on a daily basis. At times the noise from the engines was so loud that it would change your heartbeat. When I transferred into environmental in 76, audiology test revealed that I was already past the first stage of loosing my hearing. My high frequency hearing levels had already decreased significantly. The rule of thumb is that if the noise is so loud that you cannot carry on a conversation with someone near you, then it is above 84 decibels. This is hazardous because it will wipe out your hearing over a period of time. Wear your ear protection- ear muffs or ear plugs. If the noise is real loud wear both. Sound travels in waves much like the rippling waves generated when you throw a flat river rock into a pond. The high frequency sound waves bulldoze over tiny hair like nerves in the cochlea of your inner ear. These nerves transfer sound to your brain. Ear protection reduces the impact of the sound waves. By the time I discovered my hearing loss it was too late. By the time I was 40, the hearing loss had progressed from high frequency into the speaking level frequencies. I really missed not being able to hear the sweet sound of the female voice. I purchased the first hearing aids when I was 50, and they cost about $5,000. I don't like to wear them because they are rather uncomfortable. Also certain sounds are unwanted, such as dishes in a restaurant. To me the worst thing about a noise induced hearing loss is the constant roar of a thousand locusts and crickets. It would be better if your ears bled when you damaged them. Then you would be more protective. If you work around noise, wear hearing protection. You should have annual hearing tests to watch for the first signs of overexposure. Remember that hazardous noise does not just happen at work. Shooting firearms and loud music will also ruin your hearing.

Please do not think that you can put off hearing protection until you are old. Hearing loss is progressive. It starts the day you are born. Most young people feel like they will live forever and nothing ever changes. I felt the same way. Now I have been breathing air for over half a century. I have seen many Presidents and many national crises. Guess what? I may have another 20 years to live. That is 20 more years reading lips and asking people "Huh!?", "What's That?", "Excuse me?", "Please repeat that- I am hard of hearing." Being deaf does not bother me half as much as it bothers other people, especially the little wife or the kids trying to sleep when the TV is blaring. This is God's little payback. Ole man Earl lived in an 18 wheeler truck trailer at our fishing camp on the mill pond when I was a boy. Earl was deaf. My best friend Bill Beasley and I took a 10 gauge shotgun, crawled under the trailer under his bed as Earl was sleeping. We fired both barrels and Earl could not hear the bang. We laughed so hard. Who is laughing now? Earl was a logger. He could have prevented his hearing loss if he knew about ear protection and used ear protection when he was using his chain saw. Earl worked for my grandfatherRoddy White. Roddy owned the logging company. Roddy was deaf over half of his life. Roddy was 83 when he died. I remember from when I was 12 years old, Roddy literally dragged me through the woods to listen to his squirrel dogs bark and tell him which direction to walk in. Roddy knew nothing about hearing protection either. I did not know about ear protection until it was too late. Your ears and your teeth were designed to function 80 years or more. Take care of them and protect them. It is your responsibility to yourself and your family. I still remember the words of my second father-in-law before he died of lung cancer. "You spend all of your young life taking care of the old folks. Turn around and you are the old folks."


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Services other than smoke school offered by Whitlow Enterprises

For 10 years in the USAF I conducted surveys and inspections in Environmental Protection and Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), such as hazardous noise, hazardous materials, radiation protection, respiratory protection, industrial ventilation exhaust hoods, office illumination lighting, and industrial illumination lighting. I also ordered or performed physical exam screening and hearing test for early warning and treatment for industrial occupational illnesses. Each Air Force base consisted of a small community with an average population on 20,000 people. Each community included day care centers, banks, theaters, bowling alleys, restaurants, schools, and churches. Each Air Force base also included several small diverse factories that worked together as a team to support the Air Force mission, which was to fly and maintain airplanes. I considered it my personal responsibility to help insure the public health of the citizens of the community and the occupational safety and occupational health of the military and civil service employees working under my jurisdiction. Whitlow is here to serve you with any of your OSHA industrial hygiene surveys or audits. The Whitlow staff includes 3 retired LDEQ employees and we are here to serve you with any environmental protection audits or any related services. Email us atsmokeschool@yahoo.com . I truly consider you and your employees part of my responsibility as well. It is my nature.


I was a sergeant in the USAF. I always have been an extreme workaholic. The word sergeant is translated from the Medieval Latin word serviens which means to serve. I was born to serve you. We here at Whitlow Smoke School Nation strive to serve you with perfection. By the early 1980s Daddy had retired from the Monroe Police Department and was traveling to every police and sheriff department in Louisiana, teaching for LSU Law Enforcement Institute. I am like my Daddy, a traveling teacher. By then Daddy had open heart surgery and several heart attacks so I asked Daddy to talk to his friend and boss, Governor Edwin Edwards about getting me a job with Louisiana DEQ. I got out of the Air Force in April 1983 after my enlistment was up. Unfortunately Governor Edwards had just implemented a state wide hiring freeze, so I had to wait a year to get the state job. I lived out in the woods you see. I learned how to skin a buck and run a trotline. A Country Boy Can Survive. I lived in my parents one room fishing camp on the old Louisiana Central Lumber Company mill pond in Clarks Louisiana. I drew food stamps and unemployment and worked part time in Mama'ssecond hand junk store NU-TA-U where they brought junk and sold antiques. I also worked part time as a substitute science and math teacher atCaldwell Parish High School in Columbia Louisiana. Born to serve, teach and born to train.

Mama on Mt Nebo Arkansas (left)

In May 1984 (Although I took a $35 a month cut from my unemployment pay) I gladly accepted a job as air quality inspector, smoke school provider, and chief of maintenance for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The maintenance job occupied most of my time, driving old beat up state trucks back and forth clear across the state listening to WWL New Orleans Talk Radio, singing along on the radio with Merle, Hank, Willey, Johnny, and Lefty, and creating a novel in my head.

Perhaps the most productive thing I ever did in my life was coach Little League Baseball for 20 years. I never made a dime at it, but nothing was ever better than teaching a boy how to bat and see their smiles when they got a hit. This story The Potato Play is about my coaching days. Baseball has been velly velly good to me. I wrote a novelBlue Bayou Days- The Summer of 61 on a truckstop napkin about when I played Little League.

Monroe Police Dept Baseball Team The Summer of 1961- Daddy- George Wesley Whitlow Left/ Me George Artie Whitlow- second from right. Email me if you know someone who played on this team.

In 1999 Uncle Artie (middle top) coached T-Ball for Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church Astros team. Daughter Heather Lois Whitlow (bottom-third from right)


 of the actual particulate emissions from the smokestack. Water vapor is not pollution. Read the opacity before the steam starts or after the steam ends. If you read the opacity too high, the chances are that you are reading water vapor. We simply told the judge that opacity of the black smoke was 100% because it blacked out the moon and the stars. The New York City lawyers did not argue this point.

Notice the steam plume in the right. Read the opacity. If you read 0% you would be correct, because zero emissions are visible at the end of the steam. Remember when steam or water vapor exits the smokestack, it is as hot as Granny Harp's teakettle. The steam cools down with distance from the smokestack. When the steam cools off it evaporates. Any tail of emissions at the end of the steam gets airborne and may travel to the next state. I have heard EPA reports about a West Virginia smokestack that burned the eyes of tourists at theTrump Taj Mahal Casino 500 miles away in Atlantic City.You read the opacity of the tail of emissions the densest part of the tail at the end of the steam. This particular device was working very well at the time the picture was taken. This is your goal. The other 2 smokestacks would present a problem to me. I don't see any emissions. My fist impression is that the sources are not operating. As an inspector, I would have to ask the operator to find out. Some people try to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Reading opacity is simple if you know and follow thebasic fundamentals. Ray Charles could see that. That is where Whitlow comes in. We are the experts. Come to Whitlow and you will be the experts.

Back to the nightmare incinerator

The plant had been a target of a year long class action lawsuit that was covered by every television news station in America. When we arrived at the plant, the operator had mistakenly left the incinerator control on manual controls rather than on automatic. He was out washing a truck. A giant plume of black smoke 100% opacity was barreling out of the smokestack. Normally the plant produced a nice white cloud of fluffy steam. Unfortunately for the plant, we were there and the next court date was in 3 days. Make sure you check your opacity daily. You never know who may pull in the driveway. You should keep a daily log book for each potential source and each pollution control device. Include entries for all maintenance and at least daily opacity readings. Keep a record of all corrective actions. Keep your log book, EPA Method 9 Forms, and your smoke school certificates handy. You never know when the inspector may show up or when you may end up in court. Your job is to build evidence just in case you need it. Be prepared like a Boy Scout.Read more about the surprise inspection and the consequences.

Unfortunately my personality dominated the court case. I asked Chris for advice on making a testimony. Chris said to tell the truth and be myself. That was his mistake. We were serquested (locked in a sound proof room) during the trial so I could not hear Chris or Pat's testimony. My testimony went something like this:

Defense Lawyer: "How high was the smokestack height?"

Artie: "30 Feet"

Judge: Laughter (Chris and Pat had already testified the stack was 100 feet) Hint read your blueprint to see how high your smokestack is.

Defense Lawyer: "Have you been certified to read opacity at night?"

Artie: "No sir, EPA does not require nighttime certification"

Defense Lawyer: "How can you be certain that the opacity of the plume was 100%?"

Artie: "The black smoke blackened out the moon and the stars. Ray Charles could see that. "

Judge: Falls on the floor laughing.

Defense Lawyer: " According to your vehicle log, you also inspected a rabbit processing plant that same day. Both of your inspections were the result of odor complaints. Which plant smelled worse? (I had inspected 5 plants that week. My memory has never been that great. I had to depend on my notes and logbooks. Always maintain a logbook for each emission source to keep track of your maintenance and visible emissions observations. These and your smoke school certificates are the first thing the inspector wants to see. Keep good records because you never know when you may end up in court. Your job is to prove that you are in compliance.)

Artie: "The rabbit plant by far. "

Defense Lawyer: "Then why are you trying to revoke the hazardous waste plant's operating permit?"

Artie: "Rabbit poop ain't toxic and the rabbit plant has not been on national news for a year."

Judge: Laughter

Defense Lawyer: "Were you afraid when you were in the hazardous waste incinerator control room?"

Artie: "I was as scared as hell. Have you ever seen the movieChina Syndrome when that nuclear plant melted down and killed all of those people? I knew we were in a dangerous situation. The operator had left the room, 100% black smoke was a coming out, and I smelled something awful. I knew it had to be something toxic. But it could have been something trapped in my mustache from what I ate for supper. "

Judge: Fell out of his chair again laughing. The entire courtroom busted out laughing. Everything the lawyer said backfired and ended up with laughter. He was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. The judge was having fun. All in a day's work I guess.

Defense Lawyer: "No further questions your honor."

I did not intend to make them laugh. I was horrified. I was sweating profusely and my heart was racing. My girdle was too tight so my belly couldn't flop around. The buttons on my Salvation Army suit were bulging to the max. I am huge and fat like Hoss Cartwright. I always try to keep a low profile, but it is impossible. It is hard to be a wallflower. By nature I am an extremely shy and withdrawn person. It may be hard for you to believe that, but I an sitting here at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of fresh ground Community Coffee, and talking to you like we were face to face, heart to heart. You can't see me. At smoke school I am hidden by the control box. So there I was friends and neighbors in all of my radiant beauty in front of the judge, jury, a house full of New York City lawyers, all of the television cameras, and a house full of witnesses. Everyone was laughing and they were laughing at me. I just wanted to melt, run away and cry.


I felt guilty about the outcome of the case. The company received 9 million dollars in fines and penalties. The national and local media had a field day and a circus. Oprah Winfrey filmed an episode about it. The New Jersey based company stock market bottomed out and they went out of business. The plant manager, all the environmental managers, and all of the New York City lawyers were fired. I especially felt guilty about the plant operator, who was instantly fired after 20 years of service with the plant. I felt sorry for all of these people. Either they had an attitude that they would not get caught or they were just ignorant of the laws. The court says that ignorance is not an excuse. Ever since than, I have strived to teach my fiends about the importance of knowing the law and the consequences of being out of compliance. I started doing this with my very first smoke school. I had a great audience, many times I trained 500 people at a time every October and April. Back in those days I did it at a regular state employee salary. It was just part of the job and I was happy to do it. Nowadays I own a commercial smoke school company and the money comes out of your pockets. I pledge to the best of my ability to keep you trained and informed. That is the very least I can do.

The next morning I was shocked when I saw the headlines in theBaton Rouge Advocate. My entire testimony was on the front page- word for word. The judge stated that my testimony differed significantly form Chris and Pat, but mine was very much more believable. Although my testimony won the defender's class action suit I had tried to remain neutral- just the facts mam. When I got to work Chris was fuming. "You are out of the Shrine Club. You are an embarrassment to the entire department. I checked and you are civil service and you were more or less appointed by the Governor, so I can't fire you. You are like an old shotgun, you want work and I can't fire you. I order you to keep a low profile. Do not talk to the press or to television. You are banned from inspections and you are definitely banned from court. Is that perfectly clear?"

I literally cried right there in his office. I loved being an inspector. I asked if I could help James Gipson with maintenance and smoke school. The Good Lord works in mysterious ways. Chris did me a big favor. For the rest of my career I made a living driving trucks and driving nails. Jesus was a carpenter and so was I. Driving nails was a rare talent for the professionals at LDEQ. I set up and maintained air sampling equipment, portable buildings, and wooden sampling platforms that made up the LDEQ Air Analysis AmbientAir Sampling Stations clear across Louisiana. Click this link to see what monitoring station is keeping track of your emissions. Don't worry, be happy. These air sampling stations form a network all across the USA.

The aftermath of the lawsuit went on for several years. The local media made an overnight celebrity out of Pat Norton, the secretary of DEQ that accompanied me on the inspection. The media and the public had Pat all lined up to be the next Governor of Louisiana. She would have been the first female governor. Pat was not satisfied with the 9 million dollars in fines and penalties; she wanted their permit to operate in the state. Governor Edwards called a press conference and asked Pat to back up on the plant. Pat refused and Edwards fired her. The US Marshall Office became suspicious that Edwards may be involved in suspicious activity with the New Jersey company. They sent in the Louisiana National Guard with tanks to break down the gates of the plant. They seized every piece of paper in every file cabinet at the plant. One of the entries in the operator log book stated, " Louisiana DEQ will be here for an inspection Wednesday. Do not burn anything but water on Wednesday. " Prior to this, LDEQ would call ahead of time for an inspection. It was a convenience call and it saved us a lot of time waiting at the gate for the plant EHS to show up. After discovering the log book entry, EPA discouraged pre-announced inspections.

Eventually they convicted Edwards on corruption related to casinos in New Orleans. I was sad when Edwards went to prison. He may have been corrupt, but he was good for the poor people in Louisiana. He got me a job and he wrote a nice personal letter to my Mama when Daddy died. Mama always cherished that letter. Pat Norton would have been governor, but she made a political mistake months later, when the media approached her about announcing her candidacy. She said she saw a shooting star over my head during the inspection and her Guru informed her that the shooting star was an indication that she should revoke the plant's permit. Most Louisiana people don't cotton to much to Gurus. I have not heard anything about Pat ever since.

My good friend Raymond gave he the nickname "Lightening" at DEQ. When he came to audit my wooden platform sights for the TSP hi volume air samplers, he always found about 20 bent nails sticking in the treated lumber. He said I was like lightening because I never stuck the same spot on a nail more than once. Raymond told me that last week at a retirement party. I always thought he gave me the name because I was too slow at everything I do. In all my years of working, I have never taken a job that paid by the hour, because I felt like I was cheating my employer. I am slow but sometimes slower is better. And that is how it is. Take time to smell the roses. My being slow at smoke school is good for you, because it keeps you on track and you will mark your answer correctly. I display a bumper sticker that says "I may be slow but I am ahead of you." I know that I am slow, so I tell you stories between opacity readings to keep you from going to sleep. I apologize if you laugh, but humor is my nature. The judge knows this and so does Chris. Before I retired in 2001, Chris gave me his only compliment. He said that he always got phone calls from the plant managers saying that they loved coming to my smoke schools because I made it fun. Coming from Chris, that says a lot. Now I know that some of you scientists and engineers may be offended by the humor on this web page and the apparent lack of professionalism. I am me and I can't be nobody else. My mamma always used to say, "Stupid is Stupid does. " Come to a Whitlow smoke school and you will find it a lot more fun than sitting in a yard chair 3 days listening to somebody else. If you are lucky, you might even learn how to read opacity correctly, stay in compliance, and avoid being in court. Just think of all the money and wasted man-hours you will save your company. They may even give you a nickel an hour raise.

After 20 years of night school, in 1988 I finally managed to pull my 1.27 GPA into a 2.0 and graduated BS Liberal Arts from Regents College, Albany New York. I ended up with about 900 semester hours that just did not jell. This included night classes at The Sacramento Community College, Western Oklahoma State College, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Southern University in Baton Rouge, LSU, and CLEP tests. I graduated in Liberal Arts with concentrations in social studies and environmental protection. I guess that makes me a person who knows people and the environmental. How appropriate.

I retired from LDEQ on September 11, 2001- 9/11 the day that changed the world. On this memorial date, I founded Whitlow Smoke School Nation and that is the rest of the story. I am very happy that you walked with me in my shoes for a while. Now we ain't strangers anymore.

Congratulations, you have finished STAGE 4. You have somehow survived my long winded roving life story. I don't know how I got started on this. One of the girls that I went to Neville with in 1966, said that I had such a rich and interesting life. I don't see it this way. I am just doing what ever it takes to get by from day to day and try to follow God's special plan. I hope he has one or we will all end up in a ditch. Now letz meet the crew. You can click on one of the fast links below or scroll past the links to gain some insight about the crew, learn more about our unique style of smoke schools, and why smoke school is required to read opacity.



Stage 5: The Whitlow Smoke School Nation Crew and Team Players

And this is my Hot Rod Lincoln. Get in, close the doors. put on your seat belt. This baby goes from zero to 60 in four seconds flat. Here are the keys. You are driving. Lets go see the Whitlow Smoke School Nation and meet the rest of our crew.

I have never seen anything so beautiful in all my life. She is like an angel. This is my beautiful bride, Sweet Angela, my life companion, business partner, and business manager. Angela and me are like peas and carrots. Angela works hard to prevent me from spending your hard earned money faster than I can print it. She said I was banned from Walmart. Angie is an Illinois corn raised farm girl. In addition to being a lovely wife, she is a capable manager. For 30 years she managed the respiratory care units atGood Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes Indiana,Lawrence County Memorial Hospital in Lawrenceville Illinois, Methodist Hospital in Henderson Kentucky, and Daviess Community Hospital in Washington Indiana.

If you enjoyed this fish tale, then you will love my novel about my childhood fishing tales.

Please email me your thoughts about this web page.smokeschool@yahoo.com

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It ain't over until the fat cat sings