Monday, January 30, 2012

Read It And Weep

I finished reading an article on the BBC webpage this evening, and once again I am unable to make any sense of what I read.
The article described how two automobile parts suppliers colluded to inflate prices on certain auto parts.  This was against United States antitrust laws, thus they were fined hundreds of millions of dollars for their transgressions.  It is easy to think that they got what was coming to them.  They made millions of dollars in illegal activity, and it was removed from their clutches.  It’s a winning situation for the American public to stop paying excessive prices for parts as original equipment manufacturing excessive costs.
However, let’s rethink that a bit.  The parts were manufactured in Japan. Japanese workers were paid to manufacture them.  They were sold in the United States at inflated prices.  United States citizens paid excessively for those parts.  The United States government collects millions of dollars in fines, and keeps it.  The Japanese workers yet got their wages.  I have little doubt the Japanese parts manufacturers still have excessive profit money in their greedy palms.  American car manufacturers tacked those costs onto the price sticker of the new vehicles, so they weren’t hurt.  Guess who is in reality paying the fines?  Of course, it’s the American public that bought the cars with the inflated price parts.
To sum it up, Japanese workers manufactured parts and were paid for their work.  Good for them.  Parts manufacturing plant owners without doubt made excessive profits.  The United States Government is proud that they’ve done a really good thing for the American public.  Once more the American public gets to pay the price.  This seems to be a very good system for everyone---except the American public.

The Cheyenne

Prior to the mid-1800s the Cheyenne Indian Tribe had split into two segments.  In white man’s language they were known as the Northern Cheyenne and the Southern Cheyenne.  Often the Northern Cheyenne were allied with the Sioux in battles against the white soldiers attempting to steal their hunting grounds.
By 1870 the Southern Cheyenne had been defeated by the swarms of Civil War hardened white soldiers and those Indians remaining were placed on a reservation in west central Oklahoma Territory near Fort Reno.  Although they were promised 3 ½ million acres it was soon being encroached upon by white settlers.  They were promised sustenance for their tribal members, but meat was very scarce and so tough it was barely palatable, yet they were not allowed to hunt.
In 1877 the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne were also beaten into submission by the vastly superior U S Army troops with their vicious cannons.  They surrendered at Fort Robinson in the ten-year-old state of Nebraska.  The U S Government in all of its wisdom decided to send the Northern Cheyenne to live on the reservation with the Southern Cheyenne and the Arapahoe Tribe. 
Army Lieutenant Henry Ware Lawton was assigned the task of escorting the Northern Cheyenne to their new home.  At well over six feet Lawton was known as the tall white man by the Indians.  The Northern Cheyenne band was pleased with the man sent as their escort on the long march.  Lawton allowed the old and the sick of the tribe to ride in wagons during the long trek.  He insured all had enough bread, meat, coffee, and sugar.  They sighted a few small herds of antelope so Lawton issued rifles to thirty warriors and allowed them to hunt for fresh meat.
From Fort Robinson 972 tribe members set out on the southward march in late April.  It took about 100 days of travel to reach Fort Reno on August 5, 1877.  A few elders had died along the way, a few warriors had slipped away, but 937 ended the journey.  As was customary among the Indian tribes, the Southern Cheyenne invited the newcomers to a feast.  The Northerners began to suspect everything was not right when the feast consisted of a pot of watered down soup with little sustenance, but it was the best the Southern Cheyenne could offer.
The Indians believed they had been marched south merely to look at the reservation and after looking it over they asked to be returned north, but this was not to be.  After much complaining the Army sent the Tall White Man to address their woes.  He reported women and children were sick from want of food.  Lawton called the elders together to listen to them.  They asked permission to hunt the buffalo, but when that was ultimately offered they found nothing but piles of bones on the prairie where the white men had wantonly slain the buffalo herds.
Slowly starving, on September 9th 297 Northern Cheyenne, less than 100 of them warriors broke away and set out for the Sioux Country.  They had some horses but not enough for all, so they took turns riding and walking.  Four days later they had made 150 miles and had crossed the Cimarron River before soldiers caught up to them.  There was a skirmish there, but the Cheyenne slipped away to the north while the soldiers retreated.  Later they split into two groups.  About 150 headed toward Fort Robinson in an attempt to reach the Sioux Red Cloud’s band, while 134 headed toward former Cheyenne hunting grounds, the Tongue River area.
By the following spring nearly all had died by the white man’s guns, some in battle, some by treachery, but only a few survived.  The Cheyenne Nation had been nearly obliterated.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Getting Along

My parents were rather economically challenged as some would say, others would put that more bluntly and say they were dirt poor.  In the late 1930s, with the “Great Depression” yet ongoing after a decade, they learned of a dairy farm that somehow might be in their possible grasp.  A local real estate mogul had purchased much property at tax sales during the decade and was making a killing with the selling of his astute purchasing power.  My parents had been offered the chance to buy any of three vacant dairy farms all in the same area.
One of the three was a 119 acre place, about half unimproved land formerly used as cattle pasture, and the remainder cleared and productive acreage.  It had been their dream to own their own operational dairy farm ever since their marriage in 1925.  After more than 16 years it was finally all coming together.  The place was selling for the meagerly price of $5,500, and with a time payment plan that they could see their way clear to pay with a little effort, mixed with some good luck of course.
Now, as always there was a bit of a drawback to such a good deal.  There was no electricity on the place, and no hope of getting any in the near future.  A fine old gentleman living next door to the farm my parents had selected had no particular thought in mind that he needed, nor wanted, this new-fangled electricity stuff.  No one in his ancestry had ever needed it, he didn’t need it, and it would be up to his children if they wanted it or not, but that would be after his death, and certainly not one minute earlier.
So it was that my parents with their eight children moved onto their dream farm on Halloween, October 31, 1941.  At first they were able to place a dozen milk cattle in the barn each morning and evening, and all milking was done by hand into 12 quart stainless steel pails.  The milk was in turn strained through a special filtering cloth into 10 gallon cans for transfer to a milk plant where it was further handled and sent to New York City for consumption.
Mother was the best hand-milker and usually milked four of our bovine friends, while father milked two or three, and the older boys managed the remainder.  It was only a matter of weeks until the days had shortened to where we needed artificial light to complete the milking chores at both 6 am and pm.  This meant lighting a kerosene lantern in the house, carrying it to the barn, through whatever weather was in between, and then lighting another kept in the barn.  The two lanterns were hung at strategic places from the ceiling of the stable while the chores progressed.
As we moved about the barn our bodies cast long shadows into the distant corners.  As the milking was being completed, the ones not doing that were feeding hay to the cattle, insuring they had proper bedding for the day or night, as the case happened to be, and feeding the calves.  The day’s accumulation of manure had been removed at the end of the school day by the boys, as my father was working off the farm to make ends meet financially.  While removing the manure the cattle were let out into a barnyard where there was a water trough.  Some of us boys hand pumped their water for them at both ends of the day.  Before or after that chore the hay was thrown down from the mow to the manger for later feeding.
Child labor laws!  Are you joking?  If it weren’t for us boys doing our part none of us would have had a roof over our heads.  We were only too happy to chip in, in any way we were able.  My parent’s grandson owns that farm yet today so we must have done something right.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Charlie" Noble

I met “Charlie” Noble in 1957 when I was transferred to VP-8 based at Quonset Point, Rhode Island Naval Air Station.  A couple of months after my arrival there I became a Second Class Petty Officer by virtue of a Navy-wide examination, along with some other qualifications.  Charlie was a Second Class Parachute Rigger in the same Squadron.  All Naval personnel of pay grade E-6 and below are place in duty sections, and it so happened Charlie and I found ourselves as the only two Second Classes in our duty section.
Charlie was a few years older than I who was 19 at the time, and I looked up to him for guidance from time to time as I learned the ropes of being a good Second Class PO.  When we had the “duty” we were not allowed to leave the Squadron confines.  We had to be ever ready for whatever military duties might arise during the time.  As a single man I lived in the barracks assigned to our Squadron personnel, but Charlie who was married had to pack an overnight bag and leaving his family at home moved to the barracks for the length of time we were on duty.
During this period of time Charlie and I had the duty every fourth night, more or less, and also every fourth weekend.  The weekend duty started at 0800 on Saturday morning and continued through 0800 on Monday morning.  Most of this time was spent in the age-old military function of wait, wait, and wait for something to happen that never did.  Thus Charlie and I as equals in our pay grade sat around hours, and hours, and hours together with little to do except kill time chatting about this, that, and everything else.
In one of our chats I asked him how he came by the name Charlie when I knew his given name was Durrell.  He explained to me that for some odd reason the smokestack on diesel ships was known as the “Charlie Noble” and as his surname fit the bill others had tacked on the “Charlie,” and forevermore he had been called that.
In the Navy it is usual to transfer from one duty station to another every two or three years as a normal sequence of events.  As luck would have it, Charlie and I were both transferred to Jacksonville, Florida in 1960 where we remained at Cecil Field together for another three years.  I became a member of the VF-174 Hell Razors, while Charlie was attached to the Naval Air Station itself, but we remained good friends for about six years which is more than usual, and I believe it was the longest I was ever stationed with any person in my 15 year Navy career.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Turkeys In The Wild

I’ve lived at this same location now for nearly 36 years and all of that time our water from a private well has been potable, but not very tasty.  It has a certain amount of sulfur in it I would guess.  For cooking and other everyday uses including laundry and such it is fine.  However, it’s an entirely different matter when it comes to brewing coffee.  I don’t understand the science to it, but for whatever reason the combination of the water with ground coffee beans leaves something to be desired.  Brewing with an urn type pot, which we always use, leaves a scum on top of every cup of coffee when poured.  It is more unsightly than undrinkable, but I want to enjoy my coffee not endure it.
As the water is fine for all but coffee I choose to bring it from a known good source rather than go through the mess of filtration, softeners, or other mechanical treatments for it.  So it was that today I traveled the couple of miles to my nephew’s farm to fetch 10 gallons of coffee-making water.  My usual jaunt is to go one way and return another so I get to see any changes in the neighborhood on the opposing roads, and today was no exception.
On my return trip I was driving along the Brown Road in the town of Lisbon when I spotted a flock of turkeys in a field.  Thinking that there may be folks that will read this that have never seen a turkey not in a meat department of a supermarket I decided to take a couple of photos.
These were both taken today, January 24, 2012, at about 3 pm.  I count 13 turkeys in the family flock.  The young remain with the mother for the first season so this is probably all one family, a mother with a dozen chicks nearly full grown.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tis The Last Rose Of Summer

'Tis the last rose of summer
Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.
I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.
So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
From Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit,
This bleak world alone?

When my mother was yet alive in her 80s she mentioned to me that at times it was lonely for her as all of her friends had passed away over time.  I little understood what she meant as most of her children were still around and visited her periodically.  She lived next door to one of her sons and his family.  She wasn’t exactly all alone it seemed to me.
Within the past few months I have become aware of this poem written by Thomas Moore in 1805.  It seems Moore is discussing the very same thing my mother spoke of some twenty-five years ago.  However as time passes I now much more understand what she was saying.  So many that I have always known I shall never see again.  It has been said that time heals all wounds.  Yes, it does, as we all return to the nothingness we were before we were born.  Thomas Moore was much more adept at stating this than I am.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mr. Tinnan's Store

From November 1966 until January 1970 while in the U S Navy I was attached to Training Squadron VT-9 located at the U S Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi.  During that period I lived in a mobile home in the small village of Marion some ten miles from the Air Station.  I drove on Lizelia Road going to, and returning from, duty on a daily basis. 
In November 1966 when I drove from northern New York to Meridian my brother Dell and his family accompanied my family most of the way as he was in the process of being transferred from Brunswick, Maine to Pensacola, Florida also being in the Navy.  The following spring of 1967 they decided they would like to be stationed where our family was in Meridian.  Through the magic of what was known as a brother transfer that was accomplished.  Dell and his family also bought a mobile home, but placed it only a mile or so from the Naval Air Station.  Thus we were at opposite ends of Lizelia Road.
At the corner where Ponta Hills Road intersected Lizelia was a store owned by Mr. Tinnan.  Although other places like it may exist yet today, I’m not familiar with any.  The building set sort of corner ways to the intersection of the roads.  The entrance was about midpoint along the front.  Upon entering to the right was large room with grocery and other necessary items scattered about.  There was also a small pot-belly wood stove, but I never happened to know of a fire being in it.  There was a large wooden keg of dill pickles, and another similar to it, that I don’t remember what it contained.  Along the back wall of that room was a counter that Mr. Tinnan generally stood behind, or sat upon.  To the left of the entrance was a separate room divided by a page wire fence.  It contained two ancient pool tables for public use.
About once every week or ten day Dell and I would meet there, ostensibly to play a few games of pool, but we had ulterior motives to tell the truth.  There were a half dozen or so old timer friends of Mr. Tinnan’s that apparently came most every night to discuss this, that, and about everything else.  Mostly though the conversation would sooner or later turn to past hunting occasions.  While Dell and I quietly shot a few games of pool we intently listened to these older gentlemen relate past experiences.  Mostly these tales were of turkey hunts with a smattering of deer hunting stories thrown in for good measure.  It was not unusual for one of them to relate every detail of a turkey hunting day taking an hour or so in the telling.  I’m sure it was considered rude to interrupt as no one ever did.  Other than an occasional “do tell,” or “you don’t say,” or similar interjection, only the speaker had the floor.
Dell and I would listen with rapt attention at these stories of derring-do.  The teller would begin with arising from bed that morning, to breakfast, to stopping for automobile gasoline, to what brand and size shot was in his gun, and loads of other details leading up to the ultimate dispatch of a turkey dinner.  Along the walls of the store were several trophies of these expeditions.  The hunter would remove the largest feather from each wing along with the chest beard from the bird.  The feathers were crossed on a piece of wood with the beard hanging under them as a reminder of the great time had in the taking of such a magnificent specimen.
Although more than forty years have passed I yet remember those days with fond memories.  I realize I can never go back in time, but it surely would be nice to play pool and listen as intently just once more.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wash Day On The Farm

When my family moved to the dairy farm in 1941 where I grew up we had no electricity though most of the rest of the area did.  For a distance of about one mile in each direction along our road the modern miracle of rural electricity was not to be for several years following.  One of our more aged neighbors had it firmly fixed in his mind that what was good enough for his daddy was good enough for him.  His daddy didn’t need any of this new-fangled electricity stuff so he guessed he didn’t need it either.  Until all farms along the two-mile stretch of road wanted electricity the power company would give it to none of us.
Thus we got along much as had folks long before electricity had been commonly brought to the public.  A typical Monday washday meant some of us boys hand pumped water from the well in the back yard into buckets and carried them into the house to the washing machine and rinse tubs.  Once the Maytag washing machine tub was filled mother would place a selected pile of clothes into it.  Then it was time to hang the pancake muffler attached to a flexible metal exhaust pipe out the window to carry away the carbon monoxide and fumes.  With a couple of quick steps on the lever starter the wash day was in full swing.
I used to like to sit in a rocker while the little engine purred along, slowly covering my ears and opening them again to listen to the sounds change, much like listening to a shell at the sea shore.  We, of course, never did that.  The closest sea shore was somewhere around a million miles away.  Once the washing machine agitator wrestled with the clothes long enough, mother changed a lever position on the side of the machine which controlled a transmission.  This stopped the agitator from moving.  Then it was move another lever on the wringer which started the rollers in motion.  The clothes were then passed through the wringer with the removed water running back into the washer.  The damp clothes fell into the first rinse tub.  Once that part was complete, another batch of clothes, darker in color, went into the washing machine.  While they washed, with the movement of another lever the wringer was swung over to a position between the two rinse tubs.  Then the clothes were passed once more through the wringer from the first rinse to the second rinse.  Then it was time to wring them for a third time into a bushel basket.  Once that stage was done the beautifully clean clothes were carried to the outdoor clothes line where they were hung to dry.  Some of the clothes pins were a 6” long wooden staple, while others were spring loaded snap action.
Load after load were treated in this manner until the washing was completed for the week.  When my younger brother was born mother scrubbed the diapers on a hand scrub board, outdoors in the back yard.  As he was the 9th child born unto my parents, wash day understandably took a while.

Carl Clark's Heroism

I read on CBS News an article by John Blackstone relating how a U S Naval steward was a hero during WW II and saved a Navy ship all by himself.  In May of 1945 he was attached to the U S Navy Destroyer Aaron Ward when it was attacked by Japanese Kamikaze aircraft.  He was one person on an eight-man firefighting crew aboard the destroyer.
According to Carl Clark’s version of events all seven other members of the firefighting crew were killed as the first plane struck the ship, leaving only himself to fight the resultant fire.  As his story goes, five more Kamikaze pilots managed to hit the destroyer one after another.  Carl Clark was the sole person responsible for fighting each of the resultant fires, thus saving the ship from a dastardly fate. 
Still according to Carl Clark when the battle report was written by the ship’s captain his name was not mentioned.  Mr. Clark attributes this to the fact he is a black man.  Sixty-six years later he has been awarded a distinguished service medal for his self-proclaimed heroism. 
Thus, if John Blackstone has filed an accurate report, the United States Government has taken away one more little bit of an honor system.  When a person can receive a medal for heroism merely because that person proclaims himself to be a hero, with no corroborating evidence or statements from any other person involved, then my Navy is a lesser organization.
Any medal awarded to any military person is of little consequence when fairly given, as compared to what was given by the person, but when a military person can receive a medal under the above circumstances, then what value does that medal really have?  America’s Distinguished Medal has deteriorated a bit today.  Some of its luster has been lost.  It no longer stands for what it did previously.  Because he is a black man?  No, because it is a mockery of the system as it has always been known.

The Nez Perce

It was 1805 when the Lewis and Clark expedition descended the western side of the Rocky Mountains.  Weak from lack of diet, racked with pain and dysentery, they were given sustenance and aid by a tribe of Indians named the Nez Perce, so called because of their habit of wearing shells in their noses.  For seventy years the Nez Perce and the white men were friendly to one another in the land that would one day be Washington and Idaho.
In 1855 Governor Stevens of Washington Territory invited Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce to sign a treaty whereby the Indians would enter a reservation along the Washington/Idaho border.  Chief Joseph informed Stevens no man owned mother earth, no man could sell it, and he refused to sign any white man’s paper.  In 1863 he again refused to sign a treaty placing his band onto a reservation.  In 1871 Chief Joseph died and the tribe was then led by his son, also named Joseph.
In 1877 The Nez Perce were given 30 days to move onto a reservation or face the wrath of the white men.  The band of some 700, of which 250 were warriors, under Chief Joseph headed toward Canada as had Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux.  Although faced by soldiers the entire band managed to cross the Bitterroot Mountains into Montana where they turned south into the Big Hole country where they intended to rest and hunt.  If left alone there possibly they would not have to travel to Canada.
It was not to be.  Attacked again and again the small band of Nez Perce first continued south before turning east and then north.  They passed near what is Billings, Montana today and continued north into the Bear Paw Mountains continually chased by the bluecoats.  One more forced march would place them in the relative safety of Canada.  After a pitched battle Chief Joseph no longer held a belief he could make it to the Grandmother’s Land, and in a fervid speech told General Howard “ …from where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”  His band had fought a running battle with the whites for over 1100 miles, but was stopped forty miles short of their goal.
Chief Joseph’s remaining band, minus some who escaped to Canada, was promised a safe conduct to the Lapwai Reservation, but in fact were sent by train to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  His band sickened and began to die.  By 1885 only 287 captive Nez Perce survived.  About 137 of these were allowed to go to the Lapwai Reservation, while Chief Joseph and 150 others were sent to the Colville Reservation to keep them separated from the rest of the tribe.
Chief Joseph died there September 21, 1904.  It was said he died of a broken heart.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yana Indians

In the northern Sierra Mountains of California lived the Yana tribe of Americans Indians.  In the latter half of the 1850 decade they probably numbered about 3,000 individuals.  Their territory was approximately 40 by 60 miles of canyons, caves, streams, woods, and meadows.  The tribe consisted of four distinct branches, the Northern, Central, and Southern Yana, and the Yahi.
In 1848 gold was discovered in their lands and white men came storming through in search of the elusive metal that could make a man rich overnight.  When the Yana tried to defend their land with their crude weaponry of bows and arrows they were decimated in large numbers by the guns of the whites.  In a short while nearly all Yana were wiped out.  What few remained were hiding in caves deep within hidden mountain canyons.  The Yahi, numbering about 400 individuals, refused to make war as it was against their beliefs.
In the latter half of the 1860s four raids by whites killed off nearly all the remaining members of the Yahi.  By 1872 there were no more than a dozen Yahi remaining on the face of the planet, and they were forced to stay in hiding in a cave for decades.
In 1908 some power company engineers stumbled into a camp of the last four Yahi alive.  An older man and a younger woman ran and were never found again.  An old woman remained alone.  Later that night her son carried her away, nursed her for her last three years, and in 1911 after her death the final Yahi alive walked into Oroville, California to accept his fate.  He was thought to have been born in 1862, and if that were true then he was about 49 years of age.
A part of the Yahi culture was that a person’s name was never given to an enemy, and so he refused to give his name to the white man who had never been his friend.  While he lived with the white man he was known as Ishe, the Yana language word for man.  He lived on for another five years, dying of tuberculosis in 1916.  When he died, one more Native American tribe disappeared from earth because of the white man.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Visit From Wayne

He was only someone I worked with, not really a close friend, yet what a wonderful surprise it was when he stopped to visit at our home today.  From 1970 through 1973 we worked for the same mobile home dealer.  Wayne was the toter (a special truck used to move mobile homes) driver, while I was the serviceman repairing any defects found in the mobile homes after delivery.  Therefore we did not work closely together yet seen each other on nearly a daily basis.
Wayne moved on hoping for greener pastures after our three year stint together.  I did also, but after three years I discovered the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, and I returned to work for the same dealer and continued on for nearly another twenty years.
I heard only once from Wayne in the past forty years when he phoned me to offer a chance at becoming a partner in a mobile home park in Arizona.  I passed on the offer, but did know he was in Arizona at the time.
While reminiscing this evening he told me he had remained in the southwest up until a couple of years ago, when he suddenly decided he was returning to his roots in this area.  We, of course, were much younger all those many years ago, and we hardly recognized each other today, but it was immensely gratifying to have him as a guest in my home.
For a couple of hours we relived our past days together.  Remember the time you and I…  Yes, of course I remember that, it’s only recent things I can’t remember any more.  We recalled customers we met, some very good experiences, some not so good.  We recalled places we went, restaurants we ate in, odd places we placed mobile homes, difficulties of placing some of them, unordinary requests that some people asked, and all the myriad details we could remember.
What a good time we had.  I hope he drops back once in a while.  It was such fun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Old Music Memories

From nowhere today some lyrics to a song entered my mind. 
“Silver dew on the bluegrass tonight, how it shines in the moon’s silvery light.”
Where it came from I hardly knew, but I recalled it being a song from my boyhood.  As I bandied the words through my brain time after time, more of the lyrics returned.  “Soldier Boy so far from me, how I wish that you could see, Silver dew on the bluegrass tonight.”
The more I thought about it I could recall listening to it on an old radio while completing chores on our dairy farm when I was a young lad.  Attempting to recall old memories I Googled the words as I recalled them to find that they are from an old Bob Wills tune he recorded in 1945 during WW II, when I was seven years old.  Sixty-seven years later they popped into my head.
As I thought about songs from that time in my life another set of lyrics came to mind.  I remember singing along to the tune playing on that old radio as I fed, bedded, and helped milk our dairy herd.  “In the twilight glow I see her, blue eyes crying in the rain.”
As I was on a roll, I once more asked Mr. Google about those lyrics.  “As we kissed goodbye and parted, I knew we’d never meet again.”  According to Wikipedia it was written by Fred Rose and recorded by Roy Acuff in that same year of 1945.  It was later recorded by Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, and Elvis (at different times), but I remember that original version of Roy and “Someday when we meet up yonder…Blue eyes crying in the rain.”
Now as I write this another from that era comes to mind.  “Gonna take a sentimental journey, gonna set my heart at ease, Gonna make a sentimental journey to recall old memories.”  Yes sir, or ma’am, it’s from that same year.  Doris Day with the Les Brown Band of Renown turned it into a number one hit.  “Gotta take that sentimental journey, sentimental journey home.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Things That Might Make You Say Huh?

What would cause any sane person to decide it was a good idea to take off all his/her clothes and run naked across a sports field while a game is in progress?
What induces Lesbians and Homosexuals to think they should tell the world about their sexual preferences?  Heterosexuals don’t, at least not to the same degree.
What possesses Atheists and Agnostics to tell everyone they come in contact with what they believe?  Who cares other than themselves?  Religion, or lack thereof, should be a personal choice.
In line with the above why do some religions, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, think they should convert everyone else to believe what they believe?  Do they somehow think that makes them right?
Why do the darker skinned people in the United States of America want to be known as African Americans?  Why do descendants of pre-Europeans likewise want to be known as Native Americans?  Lighter skinned citizens never ask to be identified as White Americans.  Aren’t we all just Americans?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Planning Ahead

It was in the early 1970s.  I had decided to leave the Navy and strike out anew.  Nora, myself, and our four children were living in an ancient farm home outside the hamlet of Lisbon, New York that I had bought, believe it or not, for $2,000.  The home was situated on a 2 acre plot of land with half of it planted to an apple orchard.  We raised a good sized garden, and I had planted a strawberry patch for jam making.
It was during January and rather a warm evening, which sometimes makes for a really heavy snow storm, and that was the case this time.  The snow fell for several hours with those big old wet flakes that pile up the snow quickly.  Finally it stopped around an hour before midnight.  Nora and I had been watching TV, and I was yet wide awake.
I began to put on a jacket, hat and gloves.  Nora asked, “What are you up to at this hour of the night?”
I replied, “I’m going to go out and shovel the driveway of the two feet of accumulated snow.  That way I won’t have to get up early in the morning and do it so I can get out to go to work.”
I went out, picked up my shovel, and began the tedious process of shoveling the wet packy snow out of the driveway, a path some ten feet wide and a hundred feet or so to the road.  I had little more than started when Nora appeared by my side with her shovel and began working to aid me.  It took us maybe a half hour, working together, to clear the drive completely all ready for a quick exit the next morning.
We reentered the house, had some hot chocolate, and retired for the night.  Nora, always an earlier riser than I, woke me the next morning an hour earlier than normal.  She told me I should get up as our driveway was full of snow.  I said, “It can’t be, we shoveled it last night, don’t you remember.”
She said, “The wind came up overnight and has drifted the driveway full again.”
Sure enough, not only did I have to re-shovel it, but where we had tossed the snow to the sides the night before it was a foot or so higher than the surrounding lawn causing the drifting snow to fill it in a foot deeper than it had been earlier.  This time I not only had a foot deeper snow to shovel, but I had to do it alone as Nora had to get the kids up and ready for school as well as cook breakfast. 
The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, or something like that.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Indian Arrow

This photo is not the bike I owned, but it is identical to it.

Although Indian Motorcycle production had ceased in the early 1950s there were yet many of them around long after that, up to and including today.  I had an affinity for motorcycles since my introduction to them by Donald Hillhouse in 1956.
So it was that in 1962 a friend named Hepler offered to sell me one that he had found somewhere and was having no luck at all making it run.  It was a 1948 or ’49 Indian Arrow which was a smaller bike than most that Indian manufactured.  This sounded like it was right up my alley so I purchased it for the princely sum of $50 with the understanding he would return my money if I found it impossible to get it running.
I brought the little Indian to my house trailer in Cox’s Park and parked it in my back yard.  As far as I knew it was complete, and merely would not run although the engine would turn over and had good compression.  It was getting some age on it, but there was no reason to believe it couldn’t be resurrected.  I worked on it for a while before I discovered it had no ignition points in it.  Someone along the way had removed them, and they were no longer with the bike.
I tried all of the motorcycle dealers I could locate in the Jacksonville area, but to no avail.  None had any idea where I could buy a set of points for an Indian more than 15 years old.  As Indian had ceased production several years before I couldn’t even go to the factory for replacement parts.  At some point I learned there was a large Indian parts place in the Midwest, maybe Oklahoma or Nebraska, I don’t remember now.  I splurged on a telephone call and attempted to find a set there, but it was the same as everywhere else.  They couldn’t help me.  If I had the old set I would have somehow remanufactured them, but I had no idea what they even looked like.
I finally gave up, and returned the bike to Hepler and got my fifty bucks back, but I hated to.  I liked the looks of that little Indian.  I never did get a chance to ride it with the wind streaming through my hair as I had pictured myself doing.  So much for my daydreams.  I’d give quite a bit to have that bike today.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Little Beaver

Today is Wednesday, January 4, 2012.  It is only about 45 minutes into the new day, and the temperature is minus 4.2 degrees F.
Yesterday I went back in the woods and field on a sightseeing journey as I often do.  I noted that Little Beaver is keeping an opening in the ice near his den.  Also there was a thawed area right near the bank where his den is.  I don’t know if that is intentional, or merely a side effect of heat escaping from the den.  As a side note it can be seen that the bark has been stripped from some of the small limbs which was undoubtedly used as food.  The remaining twigs, minus their bark, are seen floating in the open water.  They will be used for future dam building or home repairs as necessary.