Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Know A Lie When I hear One

I fully realize I’m giving away my age, but in 1970 Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner sang a duet named “Run That By Me One More Time.”  Within that song were the words “I might be crazy, but I ain’t dumb, and I know a lie when I hear one.”
That’s what I keep thinking every time I hear another trumped up excuse by the news media as they repeat the nonsense spoon fed to them by the greedy buzzards making billions of dollars from the sweat of the common man by robbing him of his money in the form of gasoline prices.
The latest goes something like this; the price of gasoline is rising because of fear of a war with Iran.  What a load of horse manure that is.  It is possible, but highly unlikely, that the price of gasoline could go up because of an actual war with Iran.  Rising gasoline prices caused by fear of a war is outright greed, nothing more, nothing less.  Speculation on Wall Street, or anywhere else, supposedly caused by fear of a war, should have nothing to do with the actual price of gasoline at the pump rising.  If the bulls and the bears want to play, do it with something else than petroleum, or commodities.  America needs these to survive, and the greedy buzzards on Wall Street are selling our great nation down the drain for the almighty dollar that will be useless if it continues.
Let’s get down to basics.  The cost of removing a barrel of oil from the ground, transporting it to a refinery, processing it, and placing it in a tank at your local gas station hasn’t changed in the last few weeks, but the price of gasoline has increased almost daily.  That is greed at its worst.
The media, telling us lies, one after another, would have us believe that Iran may stop supplying the world, and thus the price must rise.  Let’s go back to basics again.  The world is using a certain amount of oil.  Saudi Arabia has stated they are pumping crude at a reduced level at present, (to maintain an inflated price on it) and if Iran ceased production completely the Saudis can and will up their production to replace it.  Again, the oil speculators are pumping up the price of crude based on a big fat lie, the fear of a loss of Iran’s oil will make prices rise.  The amount of oil used by the world isn’t going to change drastically whether Iran pumps crude or not.  It should make no difference in the price of gasoline whether the crude comes from Iran or Saudi Arabia.  It’s just a big lie, and the American public is being given a daily dose of crap, conveyed by our media, that we should pay higher prices for absolutely no real reason.
Whenever you pay extra dollars at the pump, which is lining the pockets of the super-rich speculators, that is dollars you do not have to spend on your necessities of life, much less any left over to spend on a few wants, as opposed to needs.  When you spend your hard earned money on gasoline, versus goods, then those goods don’t get sold.  Manufacturers go out of business, people are without jobs, jobless people have no money to spend, then more manufacturers go out of business.  This is a recession turning into a depression, only so the Wall Street monopoly players can amass personal wealth they can’t possibly spend to keep the economy running.
Fear of a war with Iran causes gasoline prices to rise, my aching butt.
“I might be crazy, but I ain’t dumb, and I know a lie when I hear one.”  Thank you Dolly, and may Porter rest in peace.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Critical Thinking

A couple of weeks ago on Facebook a ‘friend’ of mine showed a photo of a huge mountain lion, with the statement attached that it had been killed in Pennsylvania.  I checked “Snopes” to learn the value of the information as it seemed questionable to me.
I read on Facebook today that a helicopter crash in Afghanistan had taken 31 lives yesterday.  Somehow that seemed impossible in that I read the news several times a day on various news websites.  Ordinarily I will scan CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, the BBC, and occasionally some others some time during a day.  Today was no exception.  I wondered how the loss of 31 lives had not come to my attention so I rechecked all of the above news sources and none carried any information on such an event.
Knowing the propensity for Facebook users to believe anything they read, and then repeat it, I Googled “crash, 31 dead,” and the result was to recall the incident from last August 6th when 31 Navy Seals, along with 7 Afghans, died in an Afghan ‘copter incident.  I’ve no doubt this is the event that started the Facebook rumor.
Next though, I wondered what caused me to question either of the above events when no one else seemed to.  Many people were remarking what a sad event the crash was without taking any effort to determine if it were true or not.  If Maryanne said it was so, then it must be.  Maryanne doesn’t lie.
Actually, Maryanne doesn’t lie, she is merely misinformed and passes it on no matter how incongruous it may sound.  I wonder though at times, just what makes the mind tick.  Why do I question what it seems no other does?  Am I the only “Curious George” among the circle of my friends and acquaintances?  If that is so, why is it so?

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Young Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer

This blog entry will be full of dates and numbers.  If you don’t like them you may stop reading now.
I was born July 19, 1938.  Although I went to the recruiting office on my 17th birthday, I entered the Navy September 7, 1955 when I was 17 years, 1 month, 2 weeks, and 5 days of age.
A little more than four years later, November 16, 1959, at age 21 years, 3 months, and 4 weeks I became a First Class Petty Officer, Pay Grade E-6.  At that time I had 4 years, 2 months, 1 week, and 2 days in the Navy.  The Navy Times, a weekly paper, published age groups for the entire Navy during that month.  They stated there were three 21-year-old First Class Petty Officers in the entire Navy.
Four years later, November 16th 1963, at age 25 years, 3 months, 4 weeks, I was initiated as an E-7 Chief Petty Officer, with 8 years, 2 months 1 week, and 2 days in the Navy.
Three years after that, on November 16, 1966, at age 28 years, 3 months, 4 weeks, I was awarded the rank of E-8 Senior Chief Petty Officer.  I had been in the Navy 11 years, 2 months, 1 week, and 2 days.
I’ve often wondered if anyone was younger or had less time in the Navy than I did on the day he or she became an E-8 Senior Chief Petty Officer.
A little more than three years more passed until May 1, 1970 when, with 14 years, 7 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days in the Navy, at age 31 years, 9 months, 1 week and 5 days I accepted my fourth honorable discharge and left the Navy.

Joined Navy
E-6 Age

E-6 Navy Time
E-7 Age

E-7 Navy Time
E-8 Age

E-8 Navy Time

VT-9 Maintenance Chief

As a neophyte Senior Chief I had been the Airframes Division Chief for about four months in April 1967.  Senior Chief McLean who had been in the Navy much longer and a Senior Chief much longer also, was the Maintenance Control Division Chief.  One day he asked me to come to the Maintenance Control Office to speak with him.  When I arrived he said, “Let’s go down to the Chief’s Coffee Mess.”  It was located a few doors down a passageway from his office.
While entering and pouring ourselves a cup of coffee he said to me, “Senior Chief Lawton, how would you like to be the Maintenance Control Chief”?
I was completely astounded.  I was unsure if he had lost his mind or what.  I knew that he was retiring, but whoever made such decisions had decided the billet should be filled by a Master Chief, a pay grade higher than me.  For that reason one had been assigned to the squadron, and was in training to take Senior Chief McLean’s billet as Maintenance Control Chief.  That billet controlled all maintenance within the squadron.  Although not in direct control of individual personnel, indirectly he controlled all of them.
I said, “My quick answer to that question is that I would nearly give my right arm for the position, but you know as well as I do that is not going to happen.”
Senior Chief McLean said, “What makes you think it is not going to happen”?
I said, “I know that Master Chief Smith is here to replace you, and has been training for a month already.  Also I am here only on a one year basis, which is nearly half gone now.  Further, of nine Senior Chiefs in this squadron I have the least seniority of all.  If I were in charge of the Maintenance Control Division it would put me in a de facto senior position to all of them.”
McLean said, “Are those the only reasons you can think of?  They are all surmountable.  I have been authorized to tell you the billet is yours if you so desire it.”
I never knew exactly why, nor do I know exactly who, chose me for the position, but I readily accepted the offer.  As we walked back toward the Maintenance Control Office I asked, “What do we tell Master Chief Smith”?
McLean said, “You are now the Maintenance Control Chief, it’s your decision.”
Within minutes I called Master Chief Smith aside, advised him of my newly acquired status, and told him I thought he would be better in some sort of position not directly involved in aircraft maintenance.  He told me that he had never worked in a maintenance status in his entire Navy career, and he was uneasy there.  I suggested he might feel more secure in charge of the single enlisted men’s barracks, and so he became that barracks Master At Arms.
The following morning as I entered the Maintenance Control Office I overheard Senior Chief McLean’s assistant, another Senior Chief, say that he didn’t feel I should have been offered the billet.  He felt he was more qualified having been the Assistant Maintenance Control Chief for over a year, and was also senior to me as a Senior Chief.  Within minutes I advised him that I didn’t feel I needed an assistant, thus he was reassigned to take my former position as Airframes Division Chief beginning immediately.
Later in the day Senior Chief McLean said, “I knew I would like the way you would handle yourself.  I’m glad you accepted this challenge.”
Soon Senior Chief McLean had retired, and for the next 2 ½ years I was the Maintenance Control Chief of one of the largest Aircraft Squadrons in the United States Navy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

VT-9 Division Chief

I was at VT-9 Meridian, Mississippi temporarily for a year.  Not having a longer time meant it was difficult to assign me a permanent duty status so a billet was created for me.  This was a large squadron, and there were eight other Senior Chiefs in it along with myself.  The Maintenance Control Chief, named McLean, joined several shops together, each with its own Chief, called it a Division, and named me the Division Chief.  My Division consisted of three Airframes Shops, Structures, Hydraulics, and Emergency Equipment, as well as the Power Plants Shop which was concerned with engines.
None of these Shop Chiefs had been working under a Senior Chief, and saw no reason to begin now, so there was a certain amount of animosity, jealousy, or at least resentment to this new arrangement.  I informed the various Shop Chiefs that anything involving any of the shops would go through me if it had to go to any higher authority.  I wanted to know what was happening within “my” Division.
Christmas was near.  Every year at this time more personnel wanted to take leave than was allowed.  Large numbers always wanted to go home for Christmas.  I couldn’t blame them, but it was my responsibility within this division to keep sufficient manpower there to complete the required aircraft maintenance.  Squadron policy was to allow 50% of all manpower to take Christmas Leave.  They had to return by December 28th at which time as many of the other half as wanted to could then take leave.
The Power Plants Shop, which did all aircraft engine repair, sent their leave requests to me for approval.  There was one more person requesting leave than was allowed.  I told the Shop Chief, who was a much older man than myself, and had much longer time in the Navy than me also, that one man had to be cut from the requests.  I left it up to him as to who that would be.  He said, “I have approved all of these requests.  I know how to run my shop.  I can run it with this many men gone for a week or so.  I want them all to go as long as they want to.”
I agreed that I’d like to see them all go too, but rules and regulations said it was not to be.  I told him again, “Cut one man, or I will, but I don’t want to.”
The old Shop Chief said, “Then you do it.  I’ll tell him you said so.”
Not knowing any of the men, I really didn’t want to make the choice, but I knew my duty.  I chose one at random, and told the Shop Chief who I had chosen.  As the day progressed all of the various shops turned in their leave requests to me.  As it happened, taking the Division as a whole, I could allow one more man to go on leave.  I looked up the Powerplants Shop Chief and told him I had found a way for his man to go on leave after all.  I don’t think he ever believed what I did was within the rules, but he didn’t care.  All he wanted was for his man to go on leave, that he knew he could get along without, and I had told him it was okay.  I’m sure it vindicated him as being right the entire time, and that was fine with me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

VT-9 Meridian, Mississippi

Right after Thanksgiving 1966 my brother Dell and I and our families left Northern New York for our new duty stations.  Dell and his family were headed to Pensacola, Florida, while my family and I were going to Meridian, Mississippi.  We traveled together in separate vehicles.  We spent a night in Covington, Kentucky.  We then proceeded to Eutaw, Alabama where we spent a second night.  The following morning, with promises to get together soon, they headed down US 43 toward Pensacola, while my family went more westerly toward Meridian on US 11.
Wanting to get my wife, son, and daughter settled before I reported for duty, before nightfall I had bought a new mobile home, and had made arrangements to have it delivered and set up for living the next day.  As our furniture and belongings were yet in transit between Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Meridian we had nothing to move into the home other than what we carried in our suitcases.  We purchased a few necessities, and on December 2nd I reported to the Meridian Naval Auxiliary Air Station for duty, only to have a young personnel man tell me I didn’t belong there.
I said, “I choose to differ with you.  In my hand I have a set of orders to report here, and here I am.”
He insisted VT-9, where my orders told me to go, had no record of my being ordered there.  I insisted my orders said exactly that.  After a very short conversation with him, I informed him, “I am a Chief Petty Officer and I expect to be treated like one.  Where is the Chief in charge of this office”?
You could have heard a pin drop on the floor.  No one cared to say anything for a moment.  Then from an inner office a Chief appeared asking, “What seems to be the problem”?
Although that Chief was senior to me by virtue of a longer time in the pay grade I’m certain, we were on equal footing.  Chiefs do not argue with each other, at least not openly.  When I showed him my orders, he asked, “Did you just become a Senior Chief”?
I said, “I’ve never been informed of that.”  After all I’d been on leave for a month, how was I supposed to learn of it while in a back woods hunting camp?
He said, “I believe I recall that you have been awarded Senior Chief, and that your orders were cancelled to this Squadron, and you are to report somewhere else.  Let me check on it.”  He checked some file and upon his return said, “Senior Chief Lawton, the good news is, you have been a Senior Chief since November 16th.  The bad news is, your orders to VT-9 have been cancelled and you have a new set of orders to Key West, Florida.”
I asked to be signed in which stopped my leave while this whole matter was straightened out.
This created a couple of problems.  My furniture and belongings were in transit to Meridian, and the Navy allowed but one paid movement in any given year.  I would have to pay for shipment of my household goods from Meridian to Key West.  I also would have to pay for the movement of the new mobile home I had just purchased from Mississippi to Key West, and none of this was from anything I should be responsible for.  I had done exactly what I had written orders to do.
I asked for permission to speak with the Commanding Officer of VT-9, and permission was granted as I knew it would be.  I explained to him the entire situation and he agreed I should not be penalized for following orders.  He asked for the Personnel Chief to come into the office with us.  He then asked the Personnel Chief, “Can you find what possible relief can be given to Chief Lawton and report back to me, dismissed.”
I was authorized to go home for the remainder of the day, and to report back to the Personnel Office the following morning which I did.  The Personnel Chief asked me into his office while he made a phone call to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, D. C.  In a short while he was connected to another Chief, at the Bureau, that was in charge of issuing orders to a certain section of personnel which included me.  As the Chief at Meridian tried to explain the situation to the Bureau Chief he was interrupted.  The Chief in Washington asked if I were present.  When told I was there, he said, “Put him on the phone please.”
It was a fellow Chief that I personally knew.  He said to me, “I was afraid this could happen when I issued that order change, but I had hoped for the best.  Apparently that didn’t happen.  What is the best way to rectify the situation now”?
I told him, “The best way for me would be if I could remain here at Meridian for a year.  Then I could be transferred to Key West at the Navy’s expense, which is the right thing to do.”
“Done,” he said, “let me speak with the Personnel Chief please.”
I thanked him and handed the phone back.  In less than a minute he hung up the phone.  He smiled as he told me, “Senior Chief Lawton that is the first time in my entire Navy career I ever knew a man to write his own orders for a duty station.”
I smiled in return, as I said, “Remember me-that is the way I operate.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer

I had been attached to VC-10 located on Leeward Point, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from August 1963 through November 1966.  I was then ordered to VT-9 at Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Meridian, Mississippi.  In November 1963, while at Gitmo, I had been initiated as a Chief Petty Officer, and it was as such that my orders read “for duties of AMSC,” my rating at that time.  My family and I left Gitmo on November 4, 1966, flew to Norfolk, Virginia via Military Air Transport Service (MATS), and then caught a commercial flight to our parents’ homes in Northern New York.
While there on a 30-day-leave period, I spent a lot of time with my brother Bert at his hunting camp, which consisted of a tent in a remote area of the Adirondack Mountains.  On one occasion we were at camp for a six or seven day period.  Although we spent a lot of time in the woods peering around trees, we saw few deer, and shot at only one which we both missed.  While there my brother Fred drove into our campsite one evening with his four-wheel-drive vehicle, which it took to get there.
He had hardly arrived before he said to me, “I’ve got what as far as I know is very good news for you.”  He went on to relate that not only was I between duty stations, but so also was my brother Dell who was in the North Country having been ordered from Brunswick, Maine to Pensacola, Florida for duty.  Dell had read, before leaving Maine, in a civilian newspaper called the Navy Times, a list of all selections for Chief Petty Officers throughout the Navy.  This included Senior and Master levels of the Navy Chiefs.  Dell had told family members that he had seen my name listed as a newly appointed Senior Chief Petty Officer due to a Navy-wide examination I had taken while in Gitmo.  My mother knew this would be highly important to me, although she didn’t fully understand the real significance of it, so she asked Fred to drive the 75 miles to camp to inform me.  Therefore it was in a remote hunting camp in the Adirondack Mountains that I first learned I was soon to be a Senior Chief Petty Officer with just over eleven years of service in the United States Navy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Last Of The Gunfighters

The F8U Crusader aircraft was developed in the early 1950s as a high speed fighter.  In 1957 a Crusader flown by John Glenn set a speed record flying from Los Angeles to New York City in 3 ½ hours.  Glenn had previously flown 59 combat missions in WW II, and a further 90 missions in Korea.  This was no Johnny-Come-Lately pilot padding some sort of personal record.  Five years after that record-setting-across-the-country-high-speed-run the hot-rod pilot was setting another record as the first American to orbit the earth, on February 20, 1962.  That's him climbing from the cockpit after his run.
In 1957 when Glenn was setting that blistering pace from the Pacific to the Atlantic I was transitioning from working on SNJ Navy training aircraft to maintaining the lumbering P2V5Fs that patrolled the skies all over the world in pursuit of safety for Americans wherever they may have been at the time.  After three years of experience working on and flying in the Neptune I was transferred to VF-174 the training squadron for those high-speed gun platforms called “the last of the gunfighters,” by those who flew them and worked on them, but officially were F8U Crusaders.  For nearly seven years I worked on or around the F8U Crusader, although the Navy during that period took the Air Force designation system, and they were changed to F8A – F8Js.
The last of the Crusaders, as a fighter aircraft, were phased out by the Navy in 1976 after nearly 20 years of deadly service.  Its .50 caliber cannons were the last to be installed on a Navy Fighter Aircraft.  Even as the Crusader was armed with modern missiles, the guns had come to an end as a method of warfare.  At least 21 Russian MIGs were shot down by Crusaders in the Vietnam Conflict, but the age of the missile was the future.  That's a fully armed Crusader being shot off a carrier deck.

In 1970 I began working with the A-7 Corsair II which was a much modified version of the venerable old Crusader used as an attack aircraft.  The general shape of the Crusader was still there, but the modifications were deep.  Yet it still seemed like an old familiar friend when I looked at one.  That's one from my squadron, VA-25, based at Lemoore, California Naval Air Station, but in this instance catching a tailhook cable on board a carrier.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Lady Emmy Award

Jacqueline Kennedy, while First Lady, won an Emmy Award.  Why was the wife of the President of the United States performing on television?  Well, of course, she was giving a guided tour of a just finished complete restoration of the White House, her living quarters on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1962, exactly 50 years ago.
She was given a tour of the White House prior to it becoming her residence, and found it lacking of any historic significance.  One of her primary objectives upon moving in was to restore it to its former glory.  With the installation of a committee to aid her she made the White House a showplace to match its importance in history.  It was this restoration she chose to personally give a guided tour to all of America via their television sets.
Her Emmy Award is on display at the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Abraham Lincoln

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,”
Ten score and three years ago, on February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in the hill country of Kentucky which had been a state a mere seventeen years itself.  When he was seven his family lost their sizable land holdings due to title claims, and they moved across the Ohio River into Indiana Territory that would become a state later that year.
“conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition all men are created equal.”
With little formal schooling he grew to be a lawyer, Illinois Legislator, and won a term in the United States House of Representatives.  While he was not elected in two Senate attempts, he was elected to the United States Presidency in 1860 as America’s 16th man ever to have received that great honor.
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war,”
During his Presidential term the United States tested whether it could survive as a single nation.  Four years of internal warfare temporarily split the population, but in the long run strengthened their bond.  Lincoln, one of the greatest of American orators, in his 1863 Gettysburg Address, dedicating a cemetery gave one of his all-time perfectionist speeches.  It has become the most quoted speech of all time.
“ testing whether that nation, or any nation”
His assassination six days after the cessation of hostilities between the states, was the first such atrocity in our great country.  His record stands as it is, naming him one of the top Presidents that our nation has yet known.
“so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Future Generations

How strange life is when it relates to relations.  I am 73 years old and am a member of a large family with 12 siblings.  I had 7 brothers and 5 sisters, but alas I am the sole remaining male along with three lovely sisters.  I have no reason to determine the why of that statement.  It merely is a fact.  However I sometimes think about descendants of this large family brood.
Due to the modern development of computers, the on-line web, and social network programs such as Facebook, I am able to correspond with members of following generations anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.  I read, on a daily basis, of their everyday doings, their wants, needs, and aspirations.  I am reasonably sure many of those that are two or more generations along the path of evolution from myself think of me as someone that is somehow related to them through someone in their past, but they have no real idea how that came about.
Little do they suspect that I knew their grandfathers when they were children.  They do not wonder that we played together as even do their children.  They do not know that their ancestors of only two generations ago were live human beings that lived, loved, and passed away just as assuredly as they also will in the future.  These future generations have little knowledge of those who if it had not been for them, these future generations would not be.

Ode To Phil

Ode to Phil
I knew a guy, his name was Phil,
quiet and shy, guess he always will,
remain that way, cause yesterday,
he fell by the way.
One of the sixteen of the Class of ’54,
at Lisbon Central less or more,
drank a little, so they say,
never hurt nobody, twas his way.
Going on sixty years since ’54,
members get less, never more,
Jackie left, then Doris, now Phil,
some will say “It’s the Lord’s will.”
All of us will miss you Phil.
Rest well.

Oliver Hazard Perry's Revenge

In 1775 the Continental Congress established a Navy which after the Revolutionary War was disbanded and the ships were sold.  In 1794 the United States Navy was created with an original 6 frigates.  In 1806 the Navy purchased the schooner Ranger in New Orleans which it renamed the Revenge under the command of Lt. Jacob Jones.  1n 1809 a young Lt. named Oliver Hazard Perry relieved Jones command of the Revenge.
In April 1910 Revenge was in for repair, but by July was again sailing.  An American ship named Diana had been seized by the British off the coast of Florida then in Spanish hands.  Perry and Revenge were ordered to Diana’s rescue in which the daring Perry boarded Diana with a crew and sailed it away while the crews of two British warships watched.
Later that year Perry was ordered to chart the coastal waters in the Rhode Island area.  On January 9, 1811 Revenge ran aground, and although Perry ordered cannons and other gear jettisoned it could not be floated away.  It was then pulled off the reef, but the tow rope broke and the Revenge sunk.  The 25-year-old Perry was court martialed, but the ship’s loss was blamed on a pilot that had assured Perry he could navigate the area waters.
Oliver Hazard Perry went on to command the American forces on Lake Erie winning a decisive battle there against a British naval squadron September 10, 1813.  He reported, “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.”
The Revenge, lost in that 1811 grounding, was unseen again until it was announced January 7, 2011 only 2 days short of 200 years later that artifacts from the long lost ship had been located in the waters between Rhode Island and Long Island.  Hopefully some of the cannons and possibly the anchor can be salvaged for future generations to see the remains of the once proud schooner Ranger, one of the first U S Navy ships.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Home Heating With Wood

Every winter we cut firewood to heat our home.  Although we cut it in winter we didn’t burn it until the following winter, always staying a season ahead.  It’s been said, with a fair amount of truth that using wood for home heating warms you several times, once when you cut it, once when you split it, and again when you burn it.
One winter when I was about 13 or 14 we were working in the woods.  On this particular day I was the designated tractor driver.  Our farm tractor at the time was an Allis Chalmers C model with a narrow, or row crop, front end.  The two front wheels were very close together at the front center of the tractor, as opposed to in line with the rear wheels.  My father and oldest brother were felling the trees.  My job was to attach a log chain around the base of the tree near the just cut section and tow it to the edge of the woods where there was a frozen pond.  Once I deposited it there, I, or someone else, would unhook the chain and I would return to the felling area for another.  While I was gone two or three more of my brothers would reduce the previous log to 16” pieces for transport to our home.  The photo is of an Allis Chalmers C Model with a narrow front end.
On one of my many trips out the rough logging road through the woods a strange thing happened.  The path was rough and bumpy with no thoughts of smoothing it.  It was merely a path through the woods to haul the logs out.  I was towing a log when I went over a slight rounded hill in the pathway.  As I started down the opposite side of this speed bump which was no more than a foot or so high, the tractor began to slide to the left down the incline and ahead.  Within a second or two I had slid past a tree with the engine section of the tractor.  It continued ahead and downhill until the clutch lever of the tractor bumped up against the tree trunk.  This photo is as if you were sitting on the seat of an Allis Chalmers C Model farm tractor.  The clutch is the lever at center left.  The levers on the right are individual rear wheel brakes.  The arrow points at the transmission lever.  The little button beneath the gauge and to the right is an on/off switch.  The round circle lever right at the tip of the arrow is the starter lever, pushed with the right foot.
There I sat.  The tractor clutch used to stop its forward movement was tight against the tree trunk.  I couldn’t push it.  The tractor continued spinning its wheels attempting to go forward which it couldn’t do.  After a few seconds I shut off the tractor engine.  I then placed the transmission in reverse and pushed the starter in an attempt to move the tractor backwards turning the engine over with the starter.  I even hoped the engine would start with the transmission in reverse, but it did neither.  Finally I had to give up attempting to move it with its own power.  By gathering enough people of our crew we were able to push it backwards and uphill by hand.  I was then able to back up to the log for a fresh start, easily moved on past the culprit tree that had held me for ransom, and we continued to cut wood as normal for the remainder of the day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

From Fitron 174 To Utron 10

There is an old idiom “out of the frying pan, into the fire,” meaning that a person escapes from a bad situation, but gets into a worse one.  I had thoughts of this when I transferred from VF-174 at NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida to VU-10 located on Leeward Point, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Naval Base.  My transfer orders were sent shortly after the culmination of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.  Then in December of that year our first child was born while I was in training for my next assignment.  In no hurry to enter the sanctuary of our most recent possible foe, it was the following June before I finally left Florida.  I then remained on leave (vacation) in New York for a further 30 days, leaving there on July 19, 1963 for Norfolk, Virginia for further transfer to what became lovingly known as Gitmo as time passed.  Photo is an aircraft from VP-18 flying over the Russian ship carrying Russian aircraft to Cuba.  This is nearly the same type aircraft I perched up in that nose bubble in during 1959.
I arrived there August 2, 1963 as an AMS 1, or First Class Petty Officer.  However, I had passed a Navy-wide written test the previous February for Chief Petty Officer, and had been selected for advancement on November 16, 1963.  Thus, after Hurricane Flora visited from October 4 – October 8, I was initiated into the Chief ranks in November, and on that very same day moved into the Chief’s quarters until such time as my wife and son might arrive to share this island paradise with me.  Six days later a fellow Chief entered my room with the news that President Kennedy had just been shot and killed in Dallas while riding in an automobile.  The photo was taken at the time I became a Chief Petty Officer.
Almost exactly a month later, just in time for Christmas, my wife and son arrived on a MATS flight from Norfolk to move into our new quarters at 79 B, Granadillo Circle.  Hardly had we got settled in, when it was time for a late night trip to the Base Hospital for our first daughter to arrive on February 29, 1964.  Now we were a family of four where we had only been a couple during the Missile Crisis which seemed so long ago, but actually had only been a little more than a year.  We spent more than three years at Gitmo and learned to love it, but more about those good years another time.  The building with the red cross at the top is, of course, the Gitmo Base Hospital.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ghost Dance

Through the 250 year period from 1630 when land was taken from the Indians to form the Massachusetts Bay Colony, until 1880 the whites had been like a locust swarm in a wheat field.  Unceasingly the invaders moved westward, reproducing in unequaled numbers, ever grasping more land, wantonly slaying more game, and forcing the natives ever into smaller areas.  It seemed there was no way to stop the movement of this alien force.  Tribe after tribe had been decimated, either by disease carried by the white man, or through the studied slaughter of the Indian tribesmen.
By 1889 nearly every tribe across this great country had been reduced to token numbers, and those were sentenced to live by white men’s rules on reservations often far from their past hunting grounds.  However, in Nevada which had been a state for a mere 25 years, a Paiute Indian holy man called Wovoka foretold of a great new beginning for all Indians.  All whites would disappear, all past Indians would return, and life would once more be transformed to what it had been before the onset of the white horde.  Plentiful game of all kinds would abound.  All that was necessary to bring about this rejuvenation was to believe, and to dance as he taught them, to appease the Gods.
The new religion moved like a wild fire through most of the tribes yet in existence.  The remnants of the Great Sioux Nation became followers of the Ghost Dance.  One branch of the Sioux was named the Minneconjou Tribe.  Their medicine man, Yellow Bird, led the Tribe in the Ghost Dance.  The dancing Indians tended to frighten the white settlers, so the Army decided to disarm them.  Chief Bigfoot, desperately ill with pneumonia, agreed to enter an encampment at Wounded Knee Creek.  The next morning 146 Minneconjou men, women, and children were slain as they attempted to flee the white man’s wrath.  This was nearly the end of the once proud and free Indian tribes that had been in this huge country for thousands of years.  The Ghost Dance promise had failed.

A Trout Expedition

There always comes a time when a person just needs to relax, pause, and reflect on what life is all about.  The person may never discover the answer, but it is somewhat like taking a trip.  Often the destination is unimportant, it’s the getting there and back that counts.  In many people’s lives there are just too many days when Murphy’s Law comes into play.  If something can go wrong, it will.  After enough of these mind testing tribulations it is plainly time to just go fishing.  (This little stream will do.)
That is what I do a few times each summer, and who better to go with than my brother-in-law Ronald Murray (aka Ron) who has forgotten more about fishing than I’ll ever know.  I can’t recall that I’ve ever dialed his number that he wasn’t willing to go fishing on a moment’s notice.  Ordinarily we set a date within a day or two, and not-so-early some morning we leisurely load our meager gear in the back of my old pickup, and off to some cool shady banked mountain stream we go.  Oh yeah, we can’t forget my grandson, Alex.  He wouldn’t miss a fishing trip for anything.
Trout, be careful what you eat today, because Ron has already worked up some sort of a bait or lure that well may make you lunch instead.  As we three banter back and forth as to who will catch the first one, or who will catch the largest for the day, or even a possibility who might catch our limit first, we spend more actual time enjoying the sunshine than we do serious fishing.
Somewhere along the way our hunger overtakes our fishing urge, and it’s time to fry up a couple of round fish, freshly caught from a hotdog package.  Out comes our small propane burning stove, no bigger than a shoe box, a frying pan, a few previously prepared onions, and a little mustard.  As Ron is a professional cook and baker, he knows all of the correct things to do to prepare a sumptuous meal somewhere in the wilderness.  (That's him performing the culinary arts lesson.)Sautee those slices of onion in the same pan along with the slowly pan fried tube steaks, and washed down with a cold cola we have a meal fit for a king.  Well, Alan King at least.
After a suitable resting period, to give the fish a break, we once more pack away our munching stuff, and get back to the serious fishing we came for.  After a couple more hours of drowning worms and splashing lures, we call it a day with the secure knowledge we spent valuable time together, unwound some of our undeserved tenseness, and once in a while actual go home with a trout or two.  (That's a nice Brooky that stumbled on someone's line by accident.)  Who could ask for anything more?  If you’ve never tried it, you ought to give it a shot.