Category Archives: Adventure

Cash for Negroes

This advertisement in the Kansas City Star isn't sufficiently well explained to allow me to ease your thoughts by elucidating the reasons it's included in the Johnson County Museum.

This advertisement in the Kansas City Star isn’t sufficiently well explained to allow me to ease your thoughts by elucidating the reasons it’s included in the Johnson County Museum.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

The Kansas City area has as much history as any area of its size in the United States.  Every few hundred yards there’s a sign, “California Trail crossed here“, “Santa Fe Trail  crossed here“,   “Oregon Trail crossed here“, and “Overland Trail crossed here“.

The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant near De Soto was a huge operation during WWII, the Korean War and somewhat so during Vietnam.  Today it's mostly in ruins, a superfund cleanup site with no funding remaining.  This sign was evidently from one of the times when they had plenty of money to throw away feeding workers.

The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant near De Soto was a huge operation during WWII, the Korean War and somewhat so during Vietnam. Today it’s mostly in ruins, a superfund cleanup site with no funding remaining. This sign was evidently from one of the times when they had plenty of money to throw away feeding workers.

Yet over and over again as you puruse the exhibits in the Johnson County Historical Museum you’ll find yourself muttering, “Why is this place so Goddamned lame?”

Thanks to Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant employees sweating like good Americans the Korean War didn't last as long as it did and not as many people were killed and injured as actually were.  All our boys have come home from Korea now thanks to these Americans.

Thanks to Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant employees sweating like good Americans the Korean War didn’t last as long as it did and not as many people were killed and injured as actually were. All our boys have come home from Korea now thanks to these Americans.

Some historians possessing PHDs have believed almost all babies born to pioneers nine months after resting overnight within this geographical area were conceived here.

When you have a labor shortage you have to appeal to the baser instincts of every potential labor pool.  Gypsies, tramps and thieves.  Safecrackers.  Negroes.  Patriots.  Whatever works.

When you have a labor shortage you have to appeal to the baser instincts of every potential labor pool. Gypsies, tramps and thieves. Safecrackers. Negroes. Patriots. Whatever works.

There used to be cowboys and Indians, stagecoaches, battles between  the north and south, raids, rapes, plunderings, blunderings, Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson, Jessse and Frank James, the Daltons, the Youngers.

Probably similar things are being spoken in Chinese today somewhere in Asia.

Probably similar things are being spoken in Chinese today somewhere in Asia.

But Kansans know everyone was pretty much passing through, either time-wise, or on their way somewhere else geographically.

Harry Truman and Joe Stalin fought on the same side in WWII.  But both had to readjust their thinking rapidly, think on their feet as shown here, because five years later they were on opposite sides.

Harry Truman and Joe Stalin fought on the same side in WWII. But both had to readjust their thinking rapidly, think on their feet as shown here, because five years later they were on opposite sides.

Part of the problem is that even though human beings live fairly long lives, human memories are short and budgets are ‘budget-years‘.  Budget decades might allow for long-term alliances and loyalty between friends measured in years or longer.  But budget-years demand constant realignment to keep the funding rolling in.

To help everyone remember when there's a war going on a lot of strategies have been tried.  War Dad caps were only partially successful because older guys frequently became confused about who's the enemy this week.  Especially if they were shooting at the friends and dodging bullets they fired a short while back.

To help everyone remember when there’s a war going on a lot of strategies have been tried. War Dad caps were only partially successful because older guys frequently became confused about who’s the enemy this week. Especially if they were shooting at the friends and dodging bullets they fired a short while back.

Weaponry ideology has been attempted on numerous occasions.

This was intended as a morale builder.  Unfortunately it allowed friendly fire to be identified with too much certainty by those on the receiving end to become a trend.

This was intended as a morale builder. Unfortunately it allowed friendly fire to be identified with too much certainty by those on the receiving end to become a trend.

But attempting to get Kansans out of the yellow brick road mindsets and into  the Jesse James and John Dillinger approaches to history doesn’t seem to lead anywhere.

If one of those guys had long hair I'd lean to believing it was Bonnie and Clyde.

If one of those guys had long hair I’d lean to believing it was Bonnie and Clyde.

Maybe there’s still something from the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant days still to be learned and useful.

The US might yet make use of an explosion proof clock.  I sort of wish i had me one if I leaned to having wall clocks.

The US might yet make use of an explosion proof clock. I sort of wish i had me one if I leaned to having wall clocks.

Old Jules

They wore out the Muslims – familiarity bred contempt

Hi readers:

The ‘Us’ government’s searching frantically for a new threat, trying to create a believable illusion of  a new cold war with Russia, then talking increased military tensions with China.  But it ain’t easy.

Sure, Russia still exists.  On paper, anyway, run by a bunch of Mafia-types who know they can’t make any money if they’re all shot to pieces by anyone, including the Us.

And China?  Well, even though Washingtonians are prone to stupidity and self-blindsidedness, most recall the Us hasn’t won a war since 1945.  And the ones it didn’t win most spectacularly were coincidentally in Asia.

Fact is we couldn’t even defeat little bitty pissant North Korea in a shooting war back when our soldiers were still real he-men.  We couldn’t even whip North Vietnam, or fight them down so’s they’d let us leave in a relaxed, organized way.  The Us left Vietnam in an every-man-for-himself devil-take-the-hindmost scramble.  Running and looking over their shoulders the whole time.  Peace with honor, Nixon called it.

So who is going to be scared Washington will be stupid enough to get into a war with China?  Nobody.  Who’s going to believe anyone in Washington is going to get us into a shooting war with the Rooskies?  Nobody.  And they’re scared of everyone in Asia, including North Korea.  Nobody wants to see North Korea kick our asses in another shooting war.

Trouble is, nobody’s scared of the Muslims anymore.  Every time we send the military somewhere new over there they roll over and play dead without racking up a decent death-toll of Us troops.  Sure, they kill a few, and a lot more Us troops raise the ante by killing themselves, but even with that it’s just not enough to get the juices of patriotism flowing anymore.

One thing they mightn’t have considered, though:  Asians can win wars against Asians.  Fighting a good proxy war with China using Japanese troops might work and since no Us troops need be getting shot up, the Us citizenry could probably get behind it.

Even better, getting the South Koreans and Japanese fighting on the same team, invading Manchuria, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nanking and so-on might work.

I can see how the Us citizenry might get behind that if only for the relief from the ennui of yawning Muslim terror snores it would provide.  And we could sell the weaponry to both sides.

The only way we’re likely to ever win a war in Asia now that Japan has its guard up.

Old Jules

 

Desoto Surprise

Afterthought:  I just found a website telling a lot more about Dean Weller, the man doing all this, and providing far better photos:

http://www.kansastravel.org/grandpasoldfordgarage.htm

Jeanne's son, Michael and I stopped here for a closer look at the car in the window.

Jeanne’s son, Michael and I stopped here for a closer look at the car in the window.

 

A gas pedal, stick for directional control, another for braking, another for gearshift.  Slow and less slow.

A gas pedal, stick for directional control, another for braking, another for gearshift. Slow and less slow.

Hi Readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I had no idea what was in there when I suggested Michael pull over for a look at that car.  But as we got out and peered through shadowing hands to overcome the reflections an old guy sitting in a truck out front spoke to us:

You can come in for a closer look if you want to.”  He got out and unlocked the door to the building.  The place is jam-packed with cars he’s build or restored.  He’s 88 years old been doing this since he retired in the late 1960s.

see through model a1

Built of iron bar shaped to resemble a Model A body, runs good though breezy.

 

They don't make them like this anymore.  Never did, in fact.

They don’t make them like this anymore. Never did, in fact.

Two stories packed with old cars and trucks.  Woodies, racecars, whatever.

Impossible to examine any one car because they're squeezed in tight to make more room.

Impossible to examine any one car because they’re squeezed in tight to make more room.

No fewer than a couple of dozen.  More than enough to serve an 88 year old man for basic transportation.

He says he's run out of room on both floors so he won't be starting any new projects.

He says he’s run out of room on both floors so he won’t be starting any new projects.

Sometimes if you bet a few minutes of life and say some magic words the Universe will cooperate and shoot a surprise out of nowhere.

Old Jules

Draft era Vets ponder all-volunteer era vet suicides in VA Med Center waiting rooms

This guy died last year.  He'd have been 20 in 1948.  The pic on the headstone shows him wearing Sgt. stripes.  The stone says Lt. Col. Okay.  Also says he was a 'left' gunner.  Presumably a waist gunner on a B24?  Did B17s have a machine gun blister on the waist?  Anyway, 59 combat missions by a guy who didn't turn 17 until 1945?  And decorated with a bronze star.  Claims WWII, Korea and Vietnam as his own.   Anything happen in his life afterward, you suppose?  Something factual, for instance and worth remembering him for?

This guy died last year. He’d have been 20 in 1948. The pic on the headstone shows him wearing Sgt. stripes. The stone says Lt. Col.
Okay. Also says he was a ‘left’ gunner. Presumably a waist gunner on a B24? Did B17s have a machine gun blister on the waist? Anyway, 59 combat missions by a guy who didn’t turn 17 until 1945? And decorated with a bronze star. Claims WWII, Korea and Vietnam as his own.
Anything happen in his life afterward, you suppose? Something factual, for instance and worth remembering him for?

Lieutenant Colonel Smith in traditional reality.

Lieutenant Colonel Smith in traditional reality.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Hanging around the waiting rooms at the VA Medical Center today I got talking with other draft-era vets about these all volunteer military vets suiciding so frequently.  All of them I broached the subject with were anxious to talk about it.

Generally one possibility all expressed is that these modern-day vets are a bunch of woosies.  Nobody’s ruling that out early in the ponderings.  But digging into it, all agreed there must have been something in their expectations far removed from the reality they experienced.

What the hell could that be?  They joined knowing the US engages in all manner of protracted, meaningless wars.  They must have known they’d stand an excellent chance of ending up in one or another of them.

Well, okay.  A lot of them got to kill people who didn’t need killing.  Maybe more than back in earlier times.  And they got accused of being heroes when every last one of them knows THAT is a lie.

But what else?  They joined for the high pay, the benefits, house loan, educational and maybe  health benefits.  They got all that, plus 30 days vacation and 30 days sick leave per year.  They got the Dollar Tree stores and that ilk asking customers to give a dollar to support their kids with school supplies all in the same breath.  Which is to say, they became beggars by proxy.  Victims by virtue of some of the most bizarre reasoning of which the human mind is capable of indulging.

Unanimous about all this, we draft-era veterans.  Pondered it, I did, all the way back to Olathe discussing it with the transport driver who was a pre-Gulf War I veteran [never left Fort Blizz, Texas].  He agreed, too.

It took Jeanne, who doesn’t know pork from venison about military service, to add what might be the answer:

How,” Jeanne asked me, “do you know they haven’t been killing themselves after every war since the Civil War?  How would you have heard about it without the Internet?”

In fact, probably nobody was even paying attention to the matter back then   Certainly not the sort of information the government would be waving around in recruiting offices.  “I WANT YOU!”, says Uncle Sam pointing, “And you’ll hate yourself in the morning.”

Old Jules

Jesse Winchester – The courage to do what’s right

Hi readers:

Probably most of you don’t remember Jesse Winchester.  He was a somewhat obscure singer and guitar picker who had the courage, savvy and ethical commitment to go to Canada when he got called to be drafted instead of serving in a war he knew was wrong.

The Learn to Love It album was the best he ever did and it came at a time when neanderthals were waving flags and banners saying, America – Love it or Leave it!

Jesse never whined about the consequences of his patriotism.

He’s dead from cancer of the goozle today.

Thank you for your service, Jesse.

Jack

Typical Kansans outside the KC metro area

Hi readers.  A lot of you have been asking me to describe my impression of Kansans from a newcomer, outsider-looking-in perspective.

My general impression is that outside the KC metro area they’re not much different from typical, or average Texans.  Stereotype from the movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles seems to cover it as accurately as you’re likely to find anywhere.

Old Jules

Mysterious Kansas Parrot Fetish Revisited

 

The feet definitely look more like robin feet than parrot feet.  But the hooked beak is more parrot-like in my expert opinion.

The feet definitely look more like robin feet than parrot feet. But the hooked beak is more parrot-like in my expert opinion.

Hi readers.

The mysterious Kansas parrot fetish post left most of you on the edges of your chairs most likely in hopes I’d follow it up with clarifications, and maybe more music explaining just what the hell that parrot is doing to get itself venerated by Kansans.

I believe the purplish design on the right side of the thing is a stylized version of the parrot-head.  A sort of modern-Kansas equivalent of an ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus.  But what the hell do I know?

I believe the purplish design on the right side of the thing is a stylized version of the parrot-head. A sort of modern-Kansas equivalent of an ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus. But what the hell do I know?

I’ve seen a lot of these in a wide range of contexts since I posted the ‘mysterious Kansas Parrot fetish’ post.  I wish I could report to you with confidence it isn’t just a robin walkin’ walkin’ walkin’ to Missouri, but I can’t.

I think there’s still a strong case to be made that it’s a cryptic protest about the absurdly higher gasoline prices on the Kansas City, KS, side of the state line than on the Kansas City, MO, side of the boundary.

Fact is the whole thing was a lot nearer the public consciousness in verbal terms during the late 1940s and early 1950s than it is today.  Nowadays it’s just out there as flags and whatnot.

I wash my hands of the whole matter.

Old Jules

 

 

Mormon Gay Marriages

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.  I like to think I can’t bring myself to object if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir all want to marry one another in one fell swoop.  I almost got sucked into reading the Yahoo News article about it anyway, though.

Yahoo news headed things up with a photo of the male members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir all dressed up in suits, evidently having intended to get married to one-another and having been refused by the LDS Church permission-givers.  At least I assume so.  The pic and the headline, Mormon Leader Outlines Opposition To Gay Marriage [http://news.yahoo.com/mormon-leader-outlines-opposition-gay-marriage-173205476.html]

So what the hell am I supposed to care what the Mormon leaders think about the Choir engaging in holy matrimony with itself?  Brigham Young had more damned wives than anyone those days could count and history doesn’t even mention whether he could sing a note, nor whether they could.

I’ve never been offended by whether Brigham Young’s wives were women or men in drag.  Never even asked myself a question about it.  But I’m betting if they could sing, even if they were women, it would be the only thing non-dramatic about having that many women in a household.

Anyway, I didn’t read the article, but I hope the damned choir goes ahead and marries one another if they want to, no matter what the LDS leadership thinks about it.  Maybe all get on bicycles and scoot off to Alabama and find a judge there to tie the knot.

Old Jules

Saltier than salt: fresh onion powder and lime juice powder combo

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Back when they were doing the oceans things would have gone a lot different if they’d invented onions and limes by then.  Human beings would never have had to go through the old fashioned outdated  phase of seasoning their food with sodium salt, for instance.

If you run your mental tongue around the flavor of sodium salt and ask yourself, “How could this flavor be duplicated, but improved?  How could the taste of salt, fairly boring and common, be given some class for the discriminating eater?”

Any cave man could have told you the answer if he’d known it, which he didn’t.  So far as anyone knows cave men didn’t have access to the Internet and powdered lime juice, and fresh onion powder.

If two grams of sodium salt represents a maximum healthy amount we can ingest even when we have strong upbeat hearts, getting down to that is a slippery trick.  Mightn’t be possible if we don’t do our own cooking.  But even if we do it isn’t easy.

Or wasn’t easy until fresh onion powder and lime juice powder were invented.   I’m shocked I haven’t read about this anywhere before.  It would have been one hell of a lot easier and quicker if I hadn’t had to discover it on my own through experimentation.

Let me know what you think of it if you try it.

Also, put a bit of onion powder and lime juice powder on a makeup mirror and scrape it into little rows.  Use a soda straw or a rolled up $100 bill and snort it into your nose.  I haven’t tried that, but it might be a memorable experience.

Good luck with that.

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.

IMG_2237

!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.

IMG_2238

Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

IMG_2239

The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

IMG_2240

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

IMG_2243

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

IMG_2249

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.

IMG_2250

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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