Category Archives: 1980′s

Ferry tales

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits.  Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service].  Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle.  Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters.  Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam.  I'm betting these guys had better sense than to reinlist.

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits. Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service]. Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle. Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters. Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam. I’m betting these guys had better sense than to reenlist.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Camp Howze, Korea, 1963, 1964.  I was standing in a chow line almost certainly with one of the guys in this picture waiting for breakfast.  A twelve-year-old Korean lad came down the line selling Stars and Stripes newspapers, yelling, “Lots of Japs killed!  Hurrah!  Lots of Japs killed!

Koreans still savored a deep hatred for Japanese in those days.  Having your mamas and grandmamas raped more-or-less whenever the mood hit for a few decades probably does that.  At least when the rapers are of a particular nationality.  [I've wondered whether East Germans don't feel some of that toward the Rooskies because of their grannies during the retreat from the Eastern Front].

Anyway, it was a ferry disaster of some sort carrying Japanese passengers.  The first time I recall ever paying any mind to ferries and the associated dangers.

But over the decades I’ve certainly heard about a lot of them.  I suspect a risk assessment involving frequent use of ferries would reveal it to be more dangerous than airliners, trains or busses.  Not to say I haven’t ridden on a lot of them.

But on a ferry going between [I think] Newport News, RI, and Long Island, a nuclear attack submarine surfaced next to our ferry almost close enough to touch.  We assumed at the time the submarine commander was perfectly aware of the ferry.  By hindsight, though, I’m brought to wonder whether he had to go change his shorts when our presence and proximity came to his attention.

A person used to be able to pay once to get on the Statin Island Ferry and ride it back and forth all night, which I did a good many times.  Near misses with smaller craft were relatively common and a source of amusement for the ferry passengers.

I was on a ferry to one of the outer banks islands of Georgia, or North Carolina once when it hit something hard enough to jangle the eye-teeth of everyone aboard.  Never heard what it was, but none of the passengers were laughing.

Which is to say, life’s full of surprises and ferries have the potential for providing new ones.

I don’t recall when I began carrying a couple of hundred feet of small diameter 200 pound test rope with me in my luggage when I travelled.  But I do recall it was a decision I made watching people diving out of the windows of burning multi-story buildings on the news.  A bit of rope, I observed, would have saved a lot of them by allowing them to get off the upper floors and beneath the fires.

If I had to ride a ferry every day I’d probably decide an inflatable camp pillow would provide a nice place to sit on those hard ferry benches.  One person aboard protected by one inflatable pillow would remove the temptation those vessels wave around in front of the Coincidence Coordinators inviting disaster.

Old Jules

 

 

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

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Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

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!895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

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Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

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Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

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The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

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The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

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This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

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Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s been through a long series of declines and repairs but we need another World War of considerable duration to bring it back to full bloom. Need to conscript all these young houdilums and get them on track to need a place such as this.

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The sign above the door reads, THE DUGOUT and can still be made out with a bit of squinting. I’m thinking it was a club for the people going through treatment, might have been used as recently as the Vietnam War.

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The Dugout

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The importance of being insignificant

N90172a

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

President Jimmy Carter was scheduled to visit Fort Hood.  The First Cavalry Division [my old unit in Korea] was to stage massive war games and tank maneuvers and culminate the affair with a chemical substitute for a battlefield tactical nuclear weapon.  Because the President was going to be there, FAA closed down the airspace over Fort Hood for civilian air traffic.

Pissed my old buddy Phil Washburn  

Afterlife of One Hero – Sex, Violence and Crazy Love

  and me off something awful.  We were taxpaying citizens.  Who the hell did they think they were telling people they couldn’t fly around not bothering anyone watching how our tax dollars were being spent?

So when the day arrived we gassed up the old Cessna …. 100+ F on the runway, and began the long climb outside the forbidden airspace.  Burned up a lot of avgas and an hour getting up to 8000-9000 MSL.  Clear day though, and the temperature became comfortable somewhere above 5000′.

We circled at the edge of the airspace boundary watching the specks of gathered tanks and massed troops a few miles to the north waiting for the show to start.  Suddenly, hundreds of roostertails of dust obscured miles of landscape as the tanks charged forward.  Then the sky below us filled with helicopters.  Wow!  Wowowowowow!

I gradually eased us north until we were almost over the action, but still far enough south so’s we weren’t trying to see straight down, kept circling.  Powered back enough to hold the altitude, savor the cool, and watch what a major wartime battle must be like viewed from the air.

Finally, toward the north beyond all the tanks the substitute battlefield nuke sent up a heluva pile of smoke and fire into the sky, rising rising rising until we were looking up at the top.  It kept rising.

Turn off the lights.  The party’s over.  The roostertails behind the tanks had all faded, everyone down there was taking a break, having a drink of orange KoolAid or something, we reckoned.  The helicopters were headed away where ever helicopters go when the shooting stops.

Time for us to get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge before the high sheriff and POLice come gunning for us.

I pointed us back toward the Killeen airport and as we neared the edge of forbidden territory I shut down the engine, pulled up the nose to stop the propeller windmilling.  The old Cessna had a 20:1 glide ratio, so we were a long while circling over the airport just listing to the whisper of the wind over the surfaces of the plane.

I’d intended to push the nose down to re-start the engine when I got on final approach, but I’d never landed dead-stick and figured this was as good a time as any to do it.  Got the numbers and came to a dead stop 50 feet beyond them, restarted the engine and taxied over to the FBO under the admiring stares of everyone who never landed an airplane dead stick on a public air strip. 

Naturally we did a lot of bragging at the FBO, and a lot of people were shaking their heads in various attitudes of disapproval, horror, and awe.

Hell of a fine day to be an outlaw.   I recommend it.

Old Jules

On Civil Disobedience

N90172a

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

In 1983, after I’d been parking my old Cessna 140 at the Georgetown, Texas airport for several years I was suddenly the focus of a lot of questions from other pilots.

Gene [the fixed base operator] says you don’t have a pilots license.”  Boiled down, that was the question.  “He says he’s going to turn you in to the FAA.” 

I could see this might cause a problem.  I’d logged 500 hours pilot-in-command in my old 1947 Cessna, but I’d never been signed off for solo flight by a flight instructor.  I’d flown from Texas to Savanna, Georgia and back sleeping under the wing, carried passengers, chased cows, but I had never jumped through the hoops required by the FAA to become a licensed pilot.

Now someone had ratted me out.  No  way Gene could have found out about this unless someone dropped the dime on me, and anyone who told him did it knowing he was a sniveling rat who’d turn in his mother for a burned out license tag light just for the feel good.

Whew.  Going legal was never part of my program.  It was a complication and it would lead to other complications of legalities I’d been ignoring.  Getting annual inspections on my plane every year, for instance.

A guy named Tom Dixon, whom I’d done some scary flying things with had recently gotten his instructor ticket, so I got him to sign me off for solo flight, went through the various navigation requirements, hood time, studied the FAA manuals, took the written test.

I’ve told on another blog entry here somewhere about the FAA Flight Examiner in Austin who gave me my check ride.  About what he said when he examined my logbook.

But in the end I was a legal private pilot. 

As nearly as I could tell it didn’t make an iota of difference.

If I had to live my life over I suppose one of the few things I’d change would be learning to fly at an earlier age and never going legal.

Old Jules

Kings, Stings, Forgotten Stinks, Sungs and Stungs

Thanks, Mr. President
For all the things you’ve done
The battles that you’ve won
The way you deal with U.S. Steel
And our problems by the ton
We thank you so much

Before they decompose in the grader ditch.

Honest! It just fell!

The ugly?

A touch of class

That gall bladder used to be right THERE.

Mexican Standoff in Chinese

Tanked in China

A sobering night for Ted Kennedy, but Mary Jo couldn’t swim. He bounced back, though not so high as previously expected. She didn’t.

Tanked in Martha’s Vineyard

The song has ended but the malady lingers on

Tanked elsewhere.

When Cuba still seemed nearby

The Last Roundup

Who ARE these guys?

Party animals

Hi! I’m king.

El Guapo meets Godzilla

Last one on’s a rotten egg

The Presidential War’s over!  This helicopter’s destination is Panama, Grenada, El Salvadore, Kuwait, Iraq, last stop in Afghanistan!  Show your tickets.

Old Jules

Old Lyrics From One of my Favorite Song Writers

Red Grain Truck Blues – Jerry Sires circa 1975-1980

The yellow corn sure looks good up ahead
inside the red grain truck.
It’s piled high to testify
that some farmer had a little luck.

I sure like to drive these country roads
even though they’re changing every day
but I always was kind of slow
and sometimes I just feel in the way.

In the city there’s people getting by
taking in each other’s dirty clothes.
Where the big cars and fine homes all come from
I guess nobody knows.

I wonder how long it can last
When the teeming billions watch and want theirs too.
it all has to come from the earth
and she’s about done all she can do.

You can almost hear her cry
You can almost hear her moan
as another garage door opener
is carved right from her bones,
but daddy needs a new golf cart
and mama needs a new suntan machine.
Oh Bobby wants a race car
and Sally wants a full sized movie screen.

You can almost hear her cry
You can almost hear her moan
when Singapore and Shanghai
want to refrigerate their homes.
Still, daddy needs a new golf cart
and mama needs a new suntan machine
Oh Bobby wants a race car
and Sally wants a full sized movie screen.

The yellow corn sure looks good up ahead
inside the red grain truck.

The yellow corn sure looks good up ahead
inside the red grain truck.

http://www.jerrysires.com/Jsb/entrance.html

 

Crazy Lost Gold Mine-ism Re-visited

Crazy Lost Gold Mine-ism

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this cold morning.

The adventurers are getting old and long in the tooth.  I’ve written about this in the past a number of times, but a few days ago I got an email that got me thinking about it again:

Hi J,  I hope this finds you well….cats too.

Age 72. Raised in northern Wyoming. Made my living mostly in electronics and related technology. Army vet.

I have been obsessed with that lost gold mine since 1974 and many years ago received a copy of your CD via a guy I think you know….If you had ever watched him shovel.

Bought your book several years ago. Lots of good stuff but editing sucked on the CD.. Also, someone you might know, Bob Gordon of Dallas went on a trip with us once to the Mangus Mt. area (probably in the early ’80′s) and I think I gave him his first copy of Allens and Byerts.  Excuse me, but I am currently too many margaritas along right now and need to cut this short. I am convinced I have a lot of the story figured out….Yeah, like I’m alone. But seriously. 

I would like to chat with you if only email,  Fergy

I replied to his email saying I’d be willing to discuss it by email.  Back during the day I spent enough hours on the telephone hearing where it was to break me of any desire to ever do that again.  But there’s always a chance someone will come along and add the piece to finish out the puzzle.

When his reply elaborating on his ponderings arrived, he didn’t clear anything up, but it did get me thinking about some things. 

Over the years those phone calls and emails have gradually squeezed down to men of advancing age.  Most of us are getting so old we’re not likely to tromp up high mountains anymore.  And we’re dying off.  Of the hundreds of letters and phone calls I got over the years, every one of the originators had solved the mystery, or was near unto solving it.  As I always was.  Heck, as I still am, though I don’t think about it much anymore.

During the 20th Century thousands of men tried to find that lost mine, as did a similar number during the 19th Century.  There was even a movie made about it in the late 1960s. 

Mackenna’s Gold (1969)

Format:  Mackenna's Gold DVD 
 
Sprawling frontier adventure with Gregory Peck as a sheriff who is given a map, said to show the location of a large cache of gold hidden in a valley, and soon finds he’s the target of every fortune hunter in the West. The star-laden cast also includes Omar Sharif, Telly Savalas, Julie Newmar, Lee J. Cobb, Edward G. Robinson. 123 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo; Subtitles: English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai; biographies; theatrical trailers.

 

But as the 20th Century wound down something interesting happened.  There were no new legions of youngsters replacing the old ones, researching, reading, poring over maps and trekking into remote canyons.   Something was gone, and it’s over.

Old Fergy, Keith and I, a few others are still out there thinking about it, but what we are and what we were is something modern humanity has left behind without noticing it’s done so.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m not overjoyed about it.  My preferred view of humanity and youth is going to require some adjustment.

Old Jules

Previous posts referring to the lost gold mine search:

Crazy Lost Gold Mine-ism, Wilderness Threats, Adventure, Imagination and Keeping the Juices Flowing, Cold Mystery, Fevered Romance and Lost Gold

Today on Ask Old Jules:

Old Jules, which prophet out of known prophets could make a good philosopher, and vice-versa, and why?

http://askoldjules.com/2012/02/13/prophets-and-philosophers/

Afterlife of One Hero – Sex, Violence and Crazy Love

Good morning, readers.  I wrote this a while back and planned to work on it a lot more at the time.    Never quite got around to it.

I posted a while back about a man I used to know named Phil My Original Veteran’s Day Post . Good fellow, old Marine Corps shot up vet with a chest full of decorations. We used to do a lot of drinking, hunting and running around together during the ’70s and 80s.

Phil got himself hitched to a woman named Susan. Good woman, but perhaps the meanest female human I’ve ever encountered. A husband doing anything to violate her perception of justice was to be avoided on pain of the painfully unexpected. Which didn’t keep old Phil from sneaking around occasionally, doing something that would have violated her perception of justice.

Women liked Phil a lot and being one of the highliest decorated Marines ever to come out of the Vietnam War didn’t mean Phil had the will power to always refuse. Nevertheless, Phil and Susan had a happy marriage, more-or-less.  They vented their rages and frustrations, of which both had in plenty, having ping-pong ball gun battles, stalking one another around the house, sometimes lasting hours.

Every July 4th Phil and Susan would have a traditional Sex and Violence Marathon Party lasting a couple of days, or until everyone went home. A television would play The Sands of Iwo Jima non-stop at one end of the room and another would play porn flicks non-stop at the other end.

Lots of interesting stuff in the IWO JIMA flick. We’d sit there with the squeeze box backing up that film, looking at a particular scene, looking at it again, again again again, studying the camera footage (US gov footage from the Iwo battle) until we quit, but tended to go back and do the same thing again … two or three scenes in there are serious head-scratchers.

One scene, a bunch of guys are on a 3/4 ton truck, a wounded one on the front bumper, when they hear a big round coming in. They all hop off that truck, grab the wounded guy and rush for a foxhole… but midway between the truck and the hole, they realize there’s no time. They drop the wounded guy out in the open. They all dive headfirst into holes just as the round hits and the camera goes flying along with legs and maybe an arm or two.

Amazing footage.

Anyway, I’ve digressed. I wanted to tell you how Phil and Susan, thanks to his philandering, ended up in a long duration menage-a-troix situation. They all thought of it as a marriage for a couple of years.

The third of the three was a woman who looked almost exactly like the woman wossname son of Kirk Douglas played opposite in a movie named Romancing the Stone. Beautiful woman, but a rattlesnake extraordinaire who eventually gave both Phil and Susan a lot of grief.   But during the early-to-mid stages I think both Phil, and Susan believed it would last the duration of their lives, that marriage-like threesome.

But I’ve wandered so far what with ping-pong ball gun fights and Sex and Violence parties I suppose I’d better save the menage-a-troix story for another time.

Except to say, I’ve seen a lot of commentary from patriot-look-alikes lately expressing strong feelings about how many wives a man ought to be able to have.

At the time, and today again as I think about it, I figured old Phil had done more to earn the right to have as many wives as he wanted to than the folks who object have done earning the right to have only one.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules:  Living MLK’s Dream?

 

One of the Fascinations of Christian TV

Maybe I should have explained this on my earlier post.  If my dad’s still alive he’s too old to care, and anyone else who might have once felt anything about it will also be old enough to handle it.

For me, discovering I had a biological half-brother didn’t come as a particular shock.  I’d always figured I probably had a few, maybe a lot.  My dad never made any bones about having been a rounder all his life.  His extra-marital affairs cost him a couple of marriages.

One night during the early 1980s, Dad and I were sitting in the parking lot of the Georgetown, Texas, hospital at 2:00 am, because his wife of the time was inside being treated in the Emergency Room.  They were visiting my wife and me over some holiday.

It was a long wait, and the conversation drifted to women, observations about them, stories about them, puzzlements about women we’d found during our individual experiences with them.  Somewhere during all that the subject of the products of our meanderings came into the discussion.

He said he didn’t actually know how many kids he’d left along his back trail, but one was a sure thing.  He’d first seen the guy on television because someone told him there was a televangelist who bore an amazing likeness, both in physical features and in mannerisms of speech and gesture.

Dad was mildly interested, enough to eventually watch the guy on television.  Which bowled him over.  He said it was like watching a movie of himself speaking at a Toastmaster meeting at an earlier age.  A suspicion dawned for him sufficiently to cause him to find out more about the man.  Where he was from, how old he was, and eventually to find out who the mother of the televangelist was.  He had, it turned out, vivid recollections of her when they both were a lot younger.

He didn’t name the man, and I didn’t give it a lot of thought for a number of years.  But early during my Christian television watching it came back full force.  For a moment I was disoriented, almost as though I watching my dad on television.  I truly was amazed and there was no doubt in my mind I was seeing my biological half-brother.  Just about my own age. 

My lady friend of the time, whom I made a point of having watch him without explaining, commented, “He looks and talks like you.  Weird.”

The man was a moving speaker and a faith healer of some fame.  So one of the attractions motivating me to rise at 3:00 am and watch Christian television was the strangeness of watching him, particularly. 

I always tried to catch his show and his appearances when I could.  If a person’s going to put himself through an experience of that sort, 3:00 am’s not an altogether bad time to do it.

Old Jules

Old Sol’s Moodiness and Being a Character In a Book

In case you’re one of those people who hasn’t been staring at the sun, here’s a brief update before I tell you about an interesting tidbit in my life:  Finding myself a character in a ‘memoir’ [actually a novel] written by my step-brother published as non-fiction.  But important things first:

From http://spaceweather.com/

Here he is November 28:

As you can see, the south pole stuff’s maintaining itself, still doing what it was doing when I last mentioned it.

Here’s today.

Still something going on down there, but the grandstanding is still north of the equator.

Strangeness

SINUOUS SUNSPOTS: A line of sunspots stretching across the sun’s northern hemisphere appears to be an independent sequence of dark cores. A telescope tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen, however, reveals something different. The sunspots are connected by sinuous filaments of magnetism:

“These sunspots writhe and squirm energetically as they rotate away from us!” says John Nassr, who took the picture on Nov. 28th from his backyard observatory in Baguio, the Philippines.

The connections suggest an interesting possibility. While each sunspot individually poses little threat for strong solar flares, an instability in one could start a chain reaction involving all, leading to a widespread eruption. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

I could write a lot about this but none of it would necessarily be true, so I’m doing my best not to have an opinion while keeping my foot in the door for afterward saying “I told you so,” if I can get by with it.

Okay.  Now for the main thrust of this post.  Before beginning the post I visited the Bobby Jack Nelson Forum on Amazon to see what was being said about him: http://tinyurl.com/7zj2la3

A while back I got an email on an old email address I rarely check anymore from a lady who wanted to discuss my step-brother, Bobby Jack Nelson.  She explained he’d offed himself in a nursing home in San Saba, Texas, and that she’d had a long-term relationship with him. 

But Bob had told her a lot of things she’d begun to think were lies.  She just wanted to bounce some of them off me because she knew he and I had associated considerably during the 1980s and early 1990s when he was writing Keepers – A Memoir. http://tinyurl.com/d82tcsk.

 To be honest the whole thing qualified as strange enough to keep life worth living.  Bob and I saw quite a bit of one another during those years, and I knew he was writing a novel about, among other things, his childhood in Portales, New Mexico.  I considered him a friend.

 But one day in the late-1990s [as soon as the novel had been accepted by a publishing house, I later discovered] while I was living in Socorro, New Mexico, I got a call from Bob.  He didn’t mention the novel, but he said he was going off to South America and wouldn’t be returning to the US, so I wouldn’t be hearing any more from him.

I got reports from various mutual acquaintances they’d seen him in Texas here and there, so I figured he just wanted to break off our association, which was puzzling, but okay by me.  Then I got a call from a Dallas reporter asking what I thought of the book, which I hadn’t been aware was published.

 Naturally, I bought and read a copy.  Suddenly it was clear to me why the reporter had called me, but also why Bob had suddenly taken a powder.  My first reaction to reading it would have been to trip up to that mountain town he was staying in while writing it and beat hell out of him.

I was honestly dumbfounded the man could bring himself to publish such a pack of lies as non-fiction.  But a person would have had to have been there, or remembered what he’d said back earlier had happened, to recognize there was barely a grain of truth in any of it.

Gradually I cooled down and just forgot about Bob until the lady contacted me to tell me he was dead, and how he’d died.

We exchanged a lot of emails over several months, and it was a journey of mutual discovery.  But the discoveries came in the form of Bob being an even worse liar than I’d have thought possible knowing already he was an accomplished liar.  And for her, not knowing he was a liar at all, I suppose it provided her some closure to find the man she loved, somewhat idolized, was in awe of, was not the person she’d believed him to be.

 Oddly enough, I think Bob tried to warn me a number of times about himself.  Several times he told me over the years that he was a liar, but I didn’t grasp the extent of what he was saying.  Other times he told me he wasn’t what I thought he was, and I shrugged that off, too.

But what came as a shock to me, first with the book, and later with what the lady told me, was that Bob absolutely despised me.  That, I’d have never guessed during the years I wasted pieces of my life associating with him in what seemed a mutually warm, friendly relationship.

Live and learn.

Old Jules