Picking Up Speed

July 31, 2008

Have we solved the Y2K problem yet? How about the Leap Year Fiasco that was going to bring the computers to their knees? Is it safe to get back to normal?

At my fiftieth birthday, some good friends gave me a coffee mug. It showed an older person going downhill in a wagon and said, “When you get over the hill you pick up speed.” Little did I realize the truth in that statement. I turned fifty in 1994, and the last fourteen years have been a blur.

Since that momentous occasion I got married for the second time and somehow managed to become a grandfather… eleven times. I can’t count the number of companies I’ve worked with and I’ve done a lot of traveling. I went on my first (and only so far) ocean cruise and visited Puerto Rico, Ireland, and France – three places I’d never been. I also completed my quest to visit all fifty states.

And I sit here on July 31, 2008 wondering how it all happened so fast. I don’t even own a little red wagon!

In any case, welcome back! Or just plain “Welcome” to those visiting for the first time. I believe we have something to interest most people. Feel free to poke around and, if you’ve got the time, leave a comment or two. But do it quick! Before you know it, it’ll be August… or September. My! My! How time flies!


Are Cooties International?

July 30, 2008

I’ve added another article that was published in the 400 Edition magazine. To read it, click on the 400 Edition Articles page. It concerns cooties. I’m hoping that, by now, I have at least one person in another country dropping by from time to time. Hopefully, he or she will leave a comment and answer my question. Can cooties be found in every corner of the earth?

I should also mention that I have links to two web sites that I encourage you to visit. One is Carol Terry’s Watkins web site. The other is my bride’s Mary Kay site. The second is the one that helps our family income grow!

Finally, I thank you for your continued support. Please keep dropping by and definitely invite your friends and family to do likewise.


Acapulco Adventures

July 29, 2008

Sometime in the early 1970’s, my first wife and I attended a Lions Club convention in Mexico. We were accompanied by her parents, Jim and Eleanor Kammerer, and a number of other couples from the Beechview Lions Club. My father-in-law was the one who got me interested in joining the Lions Club and we attended a number of conventions together.

The Lions Clubs of the Pittsburgh area had arranged a tour, which started in Acapulco. We spent three or four days enjoying one of Mexico’s most famous resorts prior to moving on to the convention in Mexico City.

On the evening of our arrival, we were invited to attend a welcoming party on the veranda adjoining our hotel. They served a wonderfully refreshing beverage made with pineapple juice and a few other ingredients. We later learned that those other ingredients included a liberal amount of rum and creme de menthe.

Sometime later that evening I was trying to answer nature’s call when I stumbled upon a number of hotel employees celebrating the end of their work day. They directed me to the necessary room. Upon returning, I struck up a conversation with the men. I must admit that their English was far superior to my Spanish, but we hit it off and were having a very nice conversation when they invited me to have a shot of Teguila. They instructed me on the finer points of the ritual – squeezing the lime, getting the salt on my hand and taking the drink.

Tracy Byrd sings a song about having shots of Jose Cuervo. The punch line of the song is based on Tracy’s losing track of the number of shots he has had. Having been there, I can easily identify with his cloudy memory. I’m sure the earlier glasses of that wonderfully refreshing beverage didn’t help.

The next morning I joked about how fortunate it was that I did not have to drive back to the hotel. I simply had to crawl to the elevator and hope to press the correct button.

The next few days in Acapulco were a whirlwind of taking a yacht ride to an island for a tropical lunch, going on a glass-bottomed boat to see the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, attending a Roman Catholic Mass that included a first Communion ceremony as well as an elderly lady’s confession.

To this day, I’m left wondering what she had done. She looked to be about eighty and was crying like a baby. There was no confessional booth. She was sitting on one side of a screen and the priest on the other… out in the open as the worshipers walked by.

The grand finale of our time in Acapulco was a bus trip to a restaurant overlooking the cliffs used by the world famous cliff divers. I had hoped to find a video of a man making a dive. Not only did I find such a video on You Tube, I found one that perfectly fits the experience.

Let me forewarn you, this video is very graphic and realistic. We were probably sitting in the same restaurant from which this video was shot. We were looking down at the diver who seemed to take forever to take the leap. The man we saw spent quite a bit of time praying at the shrine seen in the background. Finally, he took his place and… well you can see for yourself.

Yes. He finally jumped into the water. The person who filmed this experience was obviously growing impatient as he waited, and waited, and waited. As soon as the diver hit the water, we were told the show was over and it was time to leave… so the next group could be seated.

Hopefully the video gave you some idea of the height of the cliff. It was a long way down to the water, and from where we were sitting, it was a long way down to the top of the cliff from which the man dived. So you can imagine our surprise when, as we were leaving the restaurant, a soaking wet man in a swim suit was standing there with an extended hand asking, “How much you like my dive, Senor?”

At the time, I guessed that this man may have been one of the cliff divers, but not the one we had just seen. Looking back, I realize there were a number of establishments lining the cliffs. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that the diver had cloned himself and was standing at the exit of multiple locations asking the same question.

It was a once in a lifetime experience, and if I ever return to Acapulco, it is one I will gladly bypass. You can see the action much better on the Wide World of Sports.

How much you like my story, Senor? Feel free to leave a comment. I’ll gladly accept any and all ‘tips’. Muchas gracias.


Great to See You Again!

July 28, 2008
Chef Jim presents the main course

Chef Jim presents the main course

Good day! Believe it or not, we are quickly approaching our second thousand visits. It has come much faster than the first. I trust you’re all telling your friends and family about my blog. I like to think of it as an electronic magazine (e-zine is the acceptable term being used, although I’m not sure if the hyphen is supposed to be there.) Remember the Saturday Evening Post? All I need is Norman Rockwell to paint some covers for me.

The photo at the top is from a gourmet dinner I helped prepare. Our Out Reach team at Christ the King Lutheran here in Cumming hosts these dinners from time to time to raise money for various charities. This year, the money went to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

I’m not sure the posts I offer on these pages can be considered ‘gourmet’, but I try to include something for everyone. I’ve been concentrating on the past lately – reliving my childhood and documenting my life so that future generations will know a little bit about old great-great-grandpa… besides the dates of his birth and death.

I try to add a little humor now and then – the spices of life, and include some fire and brimstone in my sermons to make sure everything gets cooked just right. I should also admit that I stretch the truth on occasion. If you’ve read my sermons you know I left out the fire and brimstone.

Many of you have stumbled across my blog while looking for something else. I hope you take the time to check out the things I’ve written and the videos I’ve included. I examine the statistics each day to try to determine how folks are finding my little corner of cyberspace. Last week there were a number of people looking for information on Olive Grace Redd. They found it with my interview of Olive. However, one person came to my blog in search of Les Baxter. Someone gave that person a bum steer. I’d never heard of Les Baxter!

In any case, whatever you did to find me, I’m sure glad you did. Pull up a chair and set a spell. Take a look at what I have to say and feel free to use the comments links to tell me what you have to say.

Would you care for some Beef Wellington while you read my stories?

Feel free to dig in!


Snuff on a Banana

July 27, 2008

Since moving to Georgia, I’ve heard all sorts of regional phrases. For instance, if you ask a true Southerner how he’s doing, he might respond by saying, “I’m able to sit up and take nourishment.” That one is fairly easy to comprehend, but what if he says, “Oh, I’d say three or four to the hill.”? What in the world does that mean?

The phrase that has many of us scratching our heads was delivered to us at an assisted living facility in Gainesville, Georgia. We – our Nostalgia Band – had just finished performing a number of songs from the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. We dazzled our audience with such beloved hits as “Ain’t She Sweet”, “Mairzy Doats”, “My Merry Oldsmobile”, and about fifteen other examples of the real ‘oldies but goodies.’

“You folks are gooder’n snuff on a banana.” That’s what the man said. Later we all compared notes and agreed that is what we heard. Now, the big question is: was he complimenting us, or insulting us? Since none of us has the nerve to taste snuff on a banana, we may never know.

A couple of days ago I talked about the music played on the radio during my early childhood years, but I was influenced by more than the radio. Both of my older brothers worked as bartenders at Joe’s Bar in the Elliott section of Pittsburgh. Back in those days, the taverns outnumbered the churches. Besides Joe’s, there was Trio’s, the Music Bar, the Pulaski Club, the U-Bets Club, and a couple of other places whose names I can’t recall.

Each of the establishments had a juke box, but more importantly, Joe’s Bar organized summer picnics. There was a very large brandy sniffer glass – it could probably hold a gallon of brandy – behind the bar. Customers would regularly throw money into it. Then, three times during the summer, Joe and his family took money out of the glass and hosted a picnic at a local park. They would have cases of beer and pop (Pittsburgh’s name for soda – or as the say in the South, coke-cola), tons of corn on the cob, hot dogs, Pittsburgh bar-b-que, and other snack items. During the day, we’d swim or play volleyball, softball, horse shoes, and other similar games, but when it got dark, the real fun began.

A large bon-fire was built and we all sat in a circle singing the ‘old’ songs; “For me and my gal”, “Shine on Harvest Moon”, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, and many others. I learned to harmonize to those old songs and came to see that part of the picnics as my favorite times. Finally, when the last embers of the fire were dying, we’d get in the car and head home. That’s when we’d listen to WWSW. It was a time when some black performers were finally getting some airtime on the mainstream radio stations. One of my favorite songs from those days was performed by Lee Andrews and the Hearts.

That song may have been one of the earliest ‘well-known’ doo-wop songs. I have an extensive collection of doo-wop music… thanks to a donor drive on a New York City Public Television channel while I was working on Long Island. My youth and young adulthood coincided with that musical era. Besides, the show was videotaped at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh. Our Senior Prom was held there. How could I not donate a few hundred dollars to own such a wonderful collection?

Interestingly enough, one of my favorite songs in the collection was not recorded back in the 50’s or 60’s. It’s a newer song written in the doo-wop style. I’ve located two versions of the song on youtube.com. They’re both performed by the same group; one is a shorter version. Take your pick!

Long version:

Short version:

I’m sure the falsetto of Kenny Vance would send some people scattering like long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs, but I can’t honestly say that their group is gooder’n snuff on a banana. Our band may have a distinct advantage; the songs we perform are older than the oldies, and for many in our audiences, those songs are gooder!


Circles

July 26, 2008

I just added another 400 Edition article I wrote a while back. It’s entitled “Family Circles”. In a weird way, it fits in with my thinking this morning.

I’ve often said that life is a terminal illness and we should all treat it that way. When we accept the fact that our stay here on earth is finite, we can get a better appreciation for whatever blessings come our way. Dr. Randy Pausch was able to do that… even after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Yesterday I added a video of Dr. Pausch’s appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show where he reprised his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Before I posted that video, I went to Dr. Pausch’s personal website to try to find an update on his health. It had been a while since his last post. I felt a little uneasy about the situation, but decided to post the video anyway. Then, last evening, my son sent word that Randy had passed away yesterday morning… probably around the same time as I was posting his video.

The death of this man was inevitable – a fact we must all face. But what a wonderful message of faith and hope he left us. If you are in the dark on this subject, go to my ‘Sermons’ page and take a look at the video. It is very uplifting. For more information on his death, go to the New York Times web site.

In the meantime, my bride and I intend to be part of a funeral procession this afternoon. Cpl. Matthew Phillips, a young soldier from Cumming who was killed in action in Afghanistan will be buried today. We will join hundreds, if not thousands, of other residents in showing our support to his family.

Today’s message? How about this? Live each day as though it is your last, and try to leave good memories for your loved ones.


Music to My Ears

July 25, 2008

NOTE: The end of this post includes a number of songs. You might want to scroll down, get the music started, and come back to the top to begin reading. Then you’ll have a multimedia extravaganza!

Louie Armstrong once said, “There’s good music and there’s bad music; I like good music.” When I was growing up, that was probably the biggest distinction. Good music was played on the radio; bad music wasn’t. Prior to the “Payola” scandal, the decisions determining which was good and which was bad were left up to the disc jockeys and program managers.

For the uninitiated, the “Payola” scandal broke when some reporter learned that record companies were paying disk jockeys and program managers to play the records of specific artists. I don’t know that the stations in Pittsburgh were involved or not.

As I recall, Pittsburgh had very few stations in the 40’s and 50’s. KDKA was the most well known. It had been the very first commercial radio station and broadcast election results in the 1920 Presidential election. That’s where it gained its fame and soon many other stations discovered there was money to be made.

KQV was designated ‘commercial’ shortly thereafter. According to their website, “In January 1921 the experimental station 8ZAE became known as KQV, which stood for King of the Quaker Valley. Doubleday-Hill began using the station on November 19, 1919 to sell a new technology called “radio.” The station even set up one of broadcastings’ first “request lines.” When a dealer wanted to demonstrate a wireless radio set they would call – and 8ZAE would broadcast a recording.”

Although KQV was designated as a commercial station, the company’s vice-president, G. Brown Hill, didn’t believe that radio should be a commercial enterprise. Therefore, the company did not begin selling ads until 1925.

Note that the call letters of the two stations named thus far begin with the letter K. Sometime in the 1930’s the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided that station call letters beginning with K would be reserved for stations west of the Mississippi River. All stations to the east of the river would use W as the first letter. However, since KDKA, KQV, and a few other stations across the country had become well known by this time, they were allowed to stay with the letters they’d been using.

Sometime in the intervening years before I became a regular listener, Pittsburgh added WCAE, WJAS, and WWSW. (“Oh, the sounds of the night when the owl takes flight and the old dog bays at the moon” is a tune I remember well from WWSW.)

As I recall, WCAE often times broadcast educational programs. I vaguely remember teachers rolling huge radios into the classroom so we could listen to something important. Of course, I long ago forgot what it was we listened to.

Back then, all of the stations played music during the day. Some continued with the music in the evening while others switched over to network programming. The network programming included Jack Benny, Fibber McGee, the Shadow, the Green Hornet, and many other classic programs.

The thing I loved the most about radio back then was that every station played every style of music… with one major exception I’ll address shortly. It was years later before stations began to specialize in country & western, rock & roll, classical, etc. (Make that two exceptions – classical music didn’t hit the airwaves until FM radios started showing up in the waiting rooms of doctors’ offices.)

To demonstrate what I’m saying about musical styles being intermingled, the following is a list of the top ten songs for 1955:

  1. Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley
  2. Ballad of Davy Crockett, Bill Hayes
  3. Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, Perez Prado
  4. Melody of Love, Billy Vaughn
  5. Yellow Rose of Texas, Mitch Miller
  6. Ain’t That a Shame, Pat Boone
  7. Sincerely, The McGuire Sisters
  8. Unchained Melody, Les Baxter
  9. Crazy Otto Rag, Crazy Otto
  10. Mister Sandman, The Chordettes

The list for 1956 shows the same variety.

  1. Don’t be Cruel, Elvis Presley
  2. Great Pretender, The Platters
  3. My Prayer, The Platters
  4. Wayward Wind, Gogi Grant
  5. Whatever Will Be, Will Be, Doris Day
  6. Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley
  7. Lisbon Antigua, Nelson Riddle
  8. Canadian Sunset, Hugo Winterhalter
  9. Moonglow/Theme from “Picnic”, Morris Stoloff
  10. Honky Tonk, Bill Doggett

The merging of a wide variety of music, both vocal and instrumental, seemed quite natural. Thus, my early listening years began with the Big Band songs and progressed through soloists who had struck out on their own after getting their starts with the likes of Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and other bandleaders. There were numerous musical quartets – both male and female – and a sprinkling of folk music prior to the advent of rock & roll.

That brings me to the exception mentioned above. In the late forties and early fifties, the only way a person of color could have his or her music played on the ‘acceptable’ radio stations was to ‘sound’ white, or at least have songs styled according to the standards of the day. Thus, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, and a few others were able to get past the barricades and become well known artists.

Most experts will tell you that rock & roll began as ‘colored people’s’ music. I assure you, the label I just gave it may not be politically correct, but it is much less coarse than the terminology used at the time.

Before rock & roll could slip into the mainstream, the songs had to be recorded by white musicians. Slowly but surely, things changed. Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, and many others soon made the line invisible. The teenagers of the time (myself included) never stopped to ask themselves the color of the artists. We simply loved the music.

To demonstrate the diversity of the music of our time, I’ve located the following hodge-podge of hits from the past. If you are around my age, the songs should bring back some memories. If you’re younger or older than me, I still think you’ll enjoy the music. Of course, I’m assuming that, to you, it’s good music. I’m also assuming that you’re like Louie Armstrong and me; you like good music!

We’ll begin with some Big Band music.

Next, we’ll listen to one of the top male quartets of the time.

The Hit Parade was a weekly radio show that successfully moved to television.

The McGuire sisters, a trio, were very popular when I was growing up.

Tony Bennett was a young sensation back in the early 1950’s.

Peter Paul & Mary introduced many of us to folk music.

Cozy Cole, a drummer in the mold of Gene Krupa, provided a different sort of music with his Topsy and Turvey.


Danny & the Juniors gave us this hit that may have been an important step toward rock & roll.

My bride chastised me for omitting the King. So, let me correct the error in my ways.

Coming soon! The turbulent sixties and how I slept through them.


The Way Things Were

July 24, 2008

When I first heard the words “One if by land and two if by sea” I had to unlearn the phrase, “If it rings once, don’t pick it up; if it rings twice go ahead and answer it.”

I am, of course, referring to the telephone and the days of the “party” line. This is a term that was taken for granted in the 1940’s and beyond. Until now, I never gave it much thought. Did people use that line to arrange parties? Of did they have gabfest parties using the device?

I had to go to Google (My! How things have changed!) to learn the answer. The ‘official’ name of the phone service that was enjoyed by many is ‘Multiparty Line’. The more sophisticated folks might remember it as a ‘Shared Service Line.’ In either case, it was a step up from the phone used on Steiner Street in San Francisco. “I Remember Mama” was an early television show that featured a wall phone that one had to crank to get the operator’s attention. Mama would then tell the operator the name of the person with whom she wished to speak. If memory serves me right, a similar phone was used in the television show featuring John Boy Walton.

This trip down memory lane is the result of some feedback I received yesterday. I think most nostalgic pieces of the ‘Good Old Days’ go back farther than me. We didn’t keep our Model T in the parlor during the coldest days of winter. Come to think of it, we didn’t own a Model T in my lifetime. The first car I recall was a 1943 Chevrolet.

I’ve often stated that my father’s life spanned an unbelievable era of technological growth. Having been born in 1891, he grew up in the horse and buggy days. Early on, the fastest and safest means of long-distance transportation was the train. But in 1910, he and his brother road a motorcycle from South Jersey to Pittsburgh in search of work. He told me that most of the roads were dirt (with lots of mud). He also said that some roads were composed of wooden planks. He didn’t tell me how many farmers had to be paid before they’d turn their pike and let him and his brother drive through.

Dad lived to be eighty-three. If you do the math, you realize that he died in 1974, which means he lived long enough to fly in a jet plane and watched – in living color – as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon.

My life began at the end of World War II. My mother didn’t have to wait for Dad to get home from the war to get pregnant. In truth, she’d been pregnant in 1942 when my youngest older brother was born. I came along in 1944. We both beat the Baby Boom by a couple of years. I like to think we were part of the Ka- generation… as in Ka-Boom!

The changes I’ve seen during my life aren’t as symbolically significant as what Dad experienced, but, in many ways, even more extreme. Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear… (Sounds like a plug for the web site of Ivan Shreve – a good place to visit to learn about the movies and television shows of my youth.)

There are several things I recall from my early childhood home. First, I remember the coal furnace and what Dad had to do to keep us all warm. Our cellar could not be called a basement. The floors were very uneven; the concrete may have been poured long after the house was built. There were two rooms in the front of the cellar that were actually situated under the front porch, and one long open area toward the rear of the house. One corner of the cellar was the one-car garage that was barely large enough to allow the driver to get out once the car was inside.

One of the rooms in the front was referred to as the coal cellar. It had an opening on the one side which was used to place a chute from the truck that delivered the coal. I can never remember the coal being delivered – I was probably ushered to another area of the house so I wouldn’t get in the way or get bathed in coal dust. Dad would then have to periodically take buckets of coal out of that cellar to feed the furnace.

Every night before he went to bed, Dad had to dampen the fire. I think that meant he had to spread the coals inside the fire chamber so it didn’t produce quite as much heat and lessened the chance of it causing the house to catch on fire. I’d guess the most difficult part of the process would’ve been doing it in such a way that the coals continued to smolder all night. If the fire went out, the morning ritual would have been much more difficult.

First thing in the morning, Dad had to add more coal and get the fire blazing again. This had to be done every morning throughout the winter months… before Dad left for work. Dad’s work week was forty hours from Monday through Friday, plus four more hours on Saturday. While Dad worked five and a half days per week, many men were working six days a week. Most women were back in the home. Rosie the Riveter was laid off once the men-folk returned from the war.

In case you’re wondering, the other room in our cellar was called the tool room – only because that’s where dad’s tools were kept. I’d guess the original intent of that room was for the storage of fruits and vegetables.

Another thing I remember from my early childhood days is the radio. Our radio was taller than me. Since I don’t recall my height as a five-year-old, I can only guess at its true dimensions. I’d say it was at least three and a half feet tall, two feet wide, and a foot deep. The bottom section held a huge speaker. The top third of the radio housed a myriad of vacuum tubes. The face of the device was simple. There was an on/off switch, a volume control knob, and a tuning knob. It picked up AM stations only.

One of Dad’s favorite words was frugality. As a result, the radio was rarely turned on. I’d guess the radios of his youth ran on batteries – prior to the electrification of America. He may have also been thinking in terms of avoiding the costly repairs if one or more of the vacuum tubes burned out. I do recall that when the radio was turned on, it took a while before any sound came out of it. Because most of Dad’s favorite shows came on in the evening, I was probably in bed before the radio was fired up.

In later years, even after we finally got our first television – a 13 inch beauty in a cabinet bigger than the old radio, Dad still preferred the radio. While we were watching Captain Video, Rocky King, Commando Cody, and I Remember Mama, Dad was listening to Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, December Bride, and many of the other shows that didn’t think television would catch on.

Another of Dad’s favorite shows – for many years after television had convinced most of the radio celebrities to join Milton Berle – was a locally produced ‘talk’ show called “Party Line”. Ed and Wendy King took phone calls on various topics. The voices of the callers couldn’t be heard, so Ed and Wendy had to relate what was being said to the radio audience.

It seems that this post has come full circle. I started it with a party line and I’ll end it with a party line. Obviously, I have many more memories of my childhood. Look for them in future posts.

PS: I’m adding another post to my ‘Sermons’ page. It’s a video that most people find inspirational. It puts a new perspective on dying.


Something Different

July 23, 2008

While looking for something else, I ran across the item I’m adding today. It commemorates an event that happened on July first, sixty-two years ago. Since the end of World War II, nuclear energy continues to be seen as either a boon to mankind, or a deadly killer. As I stated yesterday, I don’t want to get into debates on political issues. In this case I simply want to share a family heirloom.

In 1946, my brother, Bill, wrote the following letter to our parents.

Bikini Atoll 7/1/1946

Bikini Atoll 7/1/1946

July 1, 1946

Dear Mom & Dad,

Well test number one, and so far it is a little disappointing to me. However, it was something to see. The bomb was dropped at 8:59 A.M. and exploded 100 seconds afterwards. The flash came first, then a slow rumble that sounded like thunder in the distance. We were only twenty miles away, so had to cover our eyes till after the flash. After the thunder like noise we all ran to the port side of the ship in time to see the cloud of steam and particles rising after the blast. It was one of the most beautiful clouds I have ever seen and most likely will ever see, It looked like whipped cream on a sundae. It stayed a pure white for a few seconds, then light pink started showing through. It then turned into a light glowing red, which reminded me of one big glowing cinder of coal. You could also see blue and purple in it. It keeps on going higher and higher. It stayed in the sky most of the day.

It was doubtful if it was going to be dropped today or not, due to the fact that we were having rain off and on. At eight forty-five it cleared up, and had not rained up till now. The first report that came to us was that the trees on Bikini were still standing. The next we heard was from a plane seven thousand feet above Bikini. It read as follows: Nevada seemed to be undamaged; Independence had flight deck blown off, and was burning. A light blue water was seen and believed to be a ship sunk, fires on many of the ships, and island. One ship on side believed to be Jap ship. The Pensacola was left burning, one of our destroyers capsized. As far as I know, that is all the damage, but will find out tomorrow.

We dropped anchor about three miles away, and will move in close tomorrow. We could see fires when we pulled in close, which was five P.M. It is now eight P.M. and fires can still be seen on the Independence. You probably have more news on it than I do, but I have the experience of seeing it. That is all I know about it, but will see a lot more tomorrow, and will pass it on. It took the bomb one millionth of a second to explode.

Bill’s letter continued with questions about the family and neighbors and allotment checks. He also mentioned that he was one of the last men on the island prior to the bomb being dropped.

Bill died of cancer in 2002. We can’t help wondering if his being so close to all that radiation had something to do with it.


Random Thoughts

July 22, 2008

Last evening I ran across a quote. While the words are a bit shocking, I thought the timing was rather interesting,

“What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

Now who would say something like that? If you think you know, leave a comment and tell me who you think it might be.

As many of you know, my bride, Lu, has become a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant. As the husband of said consultant, I’m permitted to drive to the local distribution center and pick up orders for her. However, in order to deliver orders to customers, the Mary Kay Corporation insists that I wear a dress. I’ve been considering a Scottish kilt and knee socks, but have been advised that I might look better in a pink poodle skirt. For the time being, I’ll just keep considering.

Speaking of independent sales reps, we recently bought some Watkins products from a good friend, Carol Terry. If you live in the Cumming area and have been looking for a Watkins person, look no farther. You can order at her web site: http://www.watkinsonline.com/carolterry/.

Yesterday was a busy day and I’ve come to realize that I’m beginning to act like my older brother. I made airline reservations and will be traveling to Pittsburgh soon. I plan to stay at my brother’s house during my visit. I have not yet talked with him about my plans. The last time he visited me, he called about two weeks prior to his visit to ask if I’d pick him up at the airport. Maybe I’ll wait even longer. BOY! Will I be surprised if he’s off in Michigan visiting his daughter!

While in Pittsburgh, I plan to attend an IBM alumni dinner. They’ve been holding this annual affair for four or five years and I’ve never been able to make it. This year I will and I’m really looking forward to seeing my old work mates. I also plan on visiting with some of my old school mates. Who knows? I might bump into some of the Hollywood All-Stars!

Another thing I did yesterday was visit http://thrillingdaysofyesteryear.blogspot.com/ and left a comment. It was a comment concerning my thoughts on politicians. In brief, I no longer believe politicians represent the voters. Their only concern toward their constituency is what they must do to get re-elected. They’ll say whatever they think they need to say, and then go off to the seat of government to represent their party and the special interest groups who provide the cash for their next re-election bid. I’m in favor of term limits and think we should replace every incumbent – regardless of party affiliation.

With that said, I would prefer not to have politics become part of this blog. I have very strong feelings and so do you. I’d rather not get into a disagreement with people I hope will become regular visitors.

Finally, I’ve asked for people to submit jokes that I can tell at senior citizen venues. I’ve received my first input. It’s from Joe Lane, an old friend in Pittsburgh, and he opted to send it directly to my e-mail account rather than add it as a comment here on the blog. I think it’s perfect for my needs and plan on using it this coming Friday. Without further ado…

An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for several years.
He had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he fixed it up nice with picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some apple, and peach trees.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn’t been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his pond.

He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, ‘we’re not coming out until you leave!’

The old man frowned, ‘I didn’t come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond naked.’

Holding the bucket up he said, ‘I’m here to feed the alligator.’

Old age and treachery will beat youth and enthusiam every day of the week.

I’m still waiting for your joke!