Monday, October 31, 2011


Hey All,   Wisdom comes with age.............hopefully.   I know that many of us have to learn things the hard way.............sometimes I think there's a sign on my forehead.................vacancy.
      I arrived at Fort Lewis,  Washington State in Dec 1979. I was assigned to HHC  2nd/47th Infantry Battalion and would be working in the motorpool.  The barracks were mostly empty as almost everybody was on leave for the Holidays.  I wandered around post with nothing to do and had nobody to report to until after New Years.  When everyone returned, I learned that we were going to Alaska for winter training for six weeks.  We would be staying at Fort Wainright near Fairbanks.   There was a lot to do to prepare and I still had to be issued my field gear and get everything settled for this assignment.
      It was mid January 1980 and we flew on a Air Force cargo plane from nearby McCord AF Base to Alaska....................they were noisy and not built for comfort, but, thankfully it wasn't an extremely long flight.  We were issued winter training gear, which included skis, poles, air insulated boots(they were called Mickey Mouse Boots for their appearance) and an outer sleeping bag to put our regular bags in to.We settled in to our assigned barracks..................  just a large room with beds and lockers. It was pretty cold while we were there with temps in -50 degrees.  We left vehicles run overnight as a precaution because they were left outside. They call it the Land Of the Midnight the middle of winter it should be called land of "where is the sun?" as it  rises on the horizon, stays for a few hours and sets again.
       At the end of the month was to be my first payday at this assignment and I sure could use it by this time as I hadn't gotten paycheck since I left my last assignment   I  cashed my check and went to the PX to buy all the basics I was in need of.  When I got back to the barracks,  I was met by two cooks assigned to HHC as cooks........Steele and Battle.  They had a bottle of Bacardi 151 Rum and wanted to drink...............and I did. I was intoxicated to be sure but not  falling down drunk.  We went to chow and I was one of the first back and I wandered around in the back of the barracks, which were empty.  Steele and Battle came in behind me didn't realize that I was there.   I heard them talking...............they were planning to take my pay and were looking for me................. that's why they were so friendly and free with the rum. They went back out and went to put my money in my locker but I couldn't  remember my combo. I was drunk and I went to see SSG Thomas Small and SSG Charles Jordan, they were also assigned to the motorpool and had a room down the hall.  I asked them if they would inventory and hold my money and why I was asking them to do it.  They refused...........................insisted that I was just drunk and paranoid.......................nothing was going to happen.   I decided to sleep with my money in my pockets and reasoned....................... I would wake up if somebody was digging in my pants while I was wearing them. I laid down on my bunk and took my shoes off.   By now everyone had returned to their bunks and either were talking among themselves or had laid out in their bunks. The four bunks in our corner were occupied by motorpool personnel..........................Bob, Dwayne, Rob and myself.   I laid there in the darkness for quite awhile...................listening to Bob Shaeffer(spelling?) and Dwayne Hogan talking. I stayed to myself, on guard and feeling vulnerable.  Bob called to me and I didn't answer..................he called twice more and again I didn't answer.  He then said to Dwayne, "wouldn't it be funny if he woke up with a black eye and didn't know how he got it?"  Dwayne said"ah, come on Shaeffer , leave him alone, man."   Bob came over and leaned over me................I didn't think he'd do it.................that he was just fooling around.  I had my eyes open ............but he couldn't see that in the dark...............he hit me three times in the face before I could react.  My temper flushed and I came off my bed with a lunge and Bob almost fell backing up..........................I grabbed one of my skis and started after him, cursing as I went.   Bob quickly jumped on to his bunk and tried to tell me that he didn't do anything and to calm down.   I was grabbed from behind and SSG Small and SSG Jordan heard the commotion and came in..  I told the story, showed the red and puffy side of my face...........................and Dwayne wouldn't verify or deny my story.................he said " don't involve me man, I don't know anything."  .  Yeah,  Bob got away with it and  I'm the one who got in trouble.................because I had been drinking.  Eventually,  everything settled down and I laid back down on my bunk, fully clothed and tried not to fall asleep.
        The next morning, I woke up and had a slight hangover.............................I took my pants which were neatly folded by my head and put them on....................I headed to the soda machine for a Pepsi and when I got there, I realized I didn't have any change in my pocket............................I had some yesterday.  I quickly checked my wallet.............................. it was empty.  I informed SSGs Jordan and Small and it went up the chain of command to the CO(Commanding Officer).   It was afternoon by the time the CO,  CPT Bunjour, could then,  Steele came walking into the barracks with his new 35mm SLR camera he just bought at the PX.  It cost more than he was paid................ so, since he gave me the rum and since I heard them talking.......................he was suspect.  He was brought to the CO and Steele told him he received cash in the mail from  home and that was where he got the money.  CO couldn't prove otherwise ..................he got away with it too.  Once again I blamed myself.....................for being stupid.
        It was a hell of way to start my new assignment..........................................and  a forewarning of what was to come.  I sure played the fool and it was a superior performance. I was once again assualted in my bed.   I had my months pay taken, even the change from my was February 1st, 19th birthday.
                           Until next time....................................God Bless.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Rescue

Hey All,      Many of us get to the point where we refer to................that was the last straw............the straw that broke the camels' back................. I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more.   At the end of September 2010.................I would find that point.
        I was on my 3rd suspension without pay from my employer.  this all started with a complaint to the State of Pa, about a supervisor.  I refused to drop this complaint, even though I was warned at the time that they would "find a way to fire me" stated from a man who held a position in the union.  He was a close friend of the supervisor..............and his words proved to be foretelling.
      I had been reassigned  in the beginning of August 2010. I was suspended the 1st time, since starting my employment,  near the end of August 2010. I am an honorably discharged Army Vet with a substantial hearing disability.   My suspension was in part for not answering a phone that I could not hear due to my disability....................I had  hearing aids but did not have them in.   It was claimed by administration that I was missing from work. I was operating gas powered equipment and there 2 commercial lawnmowers running in my immediate vicinity. I filed a discrimination complaint because of this suspension and was suspended twice afterwards as a reward.
      I had previously been reprimanded by the Principal and Asst Principal for not working fast enough, even when I was working sided by side with John, my co-worker doing the same task..................he didn't get reprimanded.  I had to be taken by ambulance for emergency medical treatment to Doylestown Hospital....... my blood pressure dangerously high and acute pain in my chest. My blood pressure returned to normal by the next morning and test were run on my heart. I was given a stress test, EKG etc.  I passed with flying colors...............the cardiologist told me there was nothing wrong with my heart............that it was workplace stress that caused my symptoms.   I stayed in the hospital for 1 day and then returned to work.  I was suspended on the 2nd day after my return.
      I filed an internal complaint for discrimination with everyone including the superintendent.  According to policy every complaint will be investigated.........even verbal.   There was no investigation that I was made aware of or a conclusion from one, also part of standing policy. Why didn't they take my complaint seriously?  Is discrimination  and abuse acceptable as long as you are an administrator?   I was suspended again two more  times, without pay in the three weeks following that internal complaint.  
       During my last suspension,  I was told that the next step for me would be termination.    I had already been put on anti anxiety and depression medication due to their actions.  No matter how hard I tried, they still came after me.  I couldn't sleep and had lost a lot of weight. I was apprehensive about going to work,  I was also self medicating.................with alcohol, it was the only way I could sleep.
      Penny  had breast cancer and was receiving treatment at this time......................I couldn't lose this job!  We had spent our IRAs recovering from a recent flood., also during Pennys' cancer treatment.  I was starting over with this job and worked away from home 5 days a week.  We needed these benefits...................Penny was scared what would happen to her health care without them. Not to mention  the only retirement saving we now had.  The anxiety, frustration and depression were overwhelming....I needed relief, help in any form, to make this nightmare stop!
.      It was early afternoon and Penny was getting ready for work, I said to her, "I'm at the end of my rope. I can't take much more of this!"  After she left and gone to work at the local market, which is just down the street,  I started drinking.  I was working on the house, trying to take my mind off off my circumstance................I couldn't matter how hard I tried, I was consumed by my thoughts.  I went down a very deep black hole  I thought that the only way to make this pain go away, was to take my life.  There has been so much heartache for such a long time, that I couldn't face another day of it.  I planned a course of action.............I took my 45 cal Colt.........loaded it ..........and put it to my head so hard it left an imprint.   I stood in the dining room that way for some time..................then I realized that Penny wouldn't be able to live in this house if I did it here.  So, I would go up into the woods.................I would just disappear.   I called Charlie to say good bye and that I was sorry..............he was all grown up with his own family and wouldn't need me anymore.  He tried to talk to me, but I wouldn't listen.................I had finally given up...............I wanted........needed..... this all to stop. Then I turned my cell phone off.
        Charlie and Colleen, his wife, tried to get Penny on her cell phone,  and by the time they did, I was already gone.  Penny came home, found my empty pistol holster laying on the floor just inside the open kitchen door.   She searched the house room by room, the gift shop, and our property..........afraid of what she would find before entering each room or place.  When I wasn't anywhere at home, she had no option but to call 911.  I was missing for several hours. I sat on a steep hillside where I covered myself with leaves, so that I wouldn't be easily seen or found.
       I sat there for hours, trying to think, but my pain and emotions kept drowning out any voice of reason.  Hours later, as the sun set, I found that I couldn't pull the trigger.  I walked downhill just below where I was sitting and placed the pistol in an old stump near the creek below me. I returned to my hiding place and covered myself with leaves again.  I sat  in the dark in the woods................struggling with myself.
   Charlie and I had hunted these woods for quite a few years......he told the police where to start looking.   Penny sat with her Dad on the back porch steps that faced the mountains above, waiting for news .........fearing the sound of a shot.  A local had seen me go up the road and informed the police. I saw headlights on the road far below me and searchlights sweeping the woods and fields.  My name was being called out through loudspeakers.......the search for going on for the crazy man with a gun. I am told that there were five State Police cars, local police, search dogs and a helicopter called in that had infra red capability............ to search for an armed suicidal man..  I eventually decided to turn on my cell phone and it immediately started ringing......... it was Charlie.  He had kept dialing my number in hope that I would eventually answer.  He talked me into calling to the search party and revealing my hiding place.  I didn't move.  I stayed on the phone with Charlie until law enforcement was at my location.  I was in the sitting position and tackled from I told them I was unarmed. After my hands were cuffed behind my back, I told them where they would find my weapon.
       I was taken in to custody and admitted for three days in to the psych ward of the nearest hospital that had one.  I was released on Saturday and returned to work the following Monday morning.  I couldn't tell my employer........... couldn't let them know that they had gotten to me.....that I was vulnerable.  I feared that if they knew, that they would come after me even harder.
    Anyone who has read my stories , knows some of the events from my life..................some haven't been divulged yet.  I have been molested, physically and emotionally abused, shot, sexually assaulted,  hit by a car on three different occasions, sexually harassed and falsely accused..................threatened with the loss of my job and the benefits that Penny needed so badly...............the reason I took the job so far from home in the first place.I thought that this job would be a new beginning and our salvation...........once again, I was wrong.   I believe that my last employer hosts an extremely hostile working environment. I was afraid to return to work for fear of what would happen next.  Going to work everyday, was going to school everyday in fear of having to face a bully.......just like a child.   I could only do it medicated and most of time that didn't  help much.
       I continue with therapy and medication. I have been told I am being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was raised to keep standing, no matter what happens.  Stay strong...... be a man. Easier said. No charges were filed against me.....I had a permit to carry  a concealed weapon and had broken no laws.  I will always be my harshest judge................not being able to forgive myself.............for things I know that I have no control over.  I wake everyday, anticipating the next attack........I realize that this is not reasonable, but everyday isn't about's about survival, making  it through the day.   When faced by someone who has caused me harm.......I will always view them as a enemy or soothing words spoken with a fast tongue will cause my guard to be lowered...........I tried forgiving once, I was angry with myself for the pain I had to endure because of it.
     I apologize again to all of my family, who had to endure so much that day......... for the extreme emotional stress my actions have put you through.  You have suffered for my actions...............I am sorry and I love you. Thank you for loving me.......and saving me from myself   Enough for today.
                         Until next time...................................God Bless.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crow Hunting

Hey All,    When I was a little younger and Charlie was just a tot, I used to love to spend my free time in the great outdoors.  Some of the outings happened on Sunday mornings because crow hunting was one of the few things you could hunt on Sunday and Tommy was usually my hunting partner.
      Tom and I were going to go out before daylight to set up decoys and take a few hours to hunt crows.  He spent the night at Grandmoms house and slept in the attic, just as we did when we kids.  Grandmom had a Gordan Setter named Blackie. He was an etremely spoiled dog and that's putting it mildly.  If it was raining, he would refuse to go outside without alot of was astruggle of the wills and sometimes Grandmom was just to tired to argue with him.   This was one of those nights.
      The bathroom light was left on just in case Charlie had to get up in the night and it illuminated the hallway and the door that led to the attic.   After we were all settled in, I heard Blackie roaming around and watched as took a dump on the floor.  I didn't say a word..........I just rolled over and went to sleep, as far as I was concerned that dog could do whatever he wanted.      Five AM comes early and after I turned off the alarm clock,  I laid there and could hear Tommy moving around in the attic, getting ready to come down.  I rolled over waited for him to come downstairs before I was getting out of bed................I was still pretty tired and almost wished he would change his mind about going.  I laid there as I listened to his decent down  the stairs and  rolled over as the attic door opened and his foot came down squarely in Blackie's little gift.  I laughed so hard my sides hurt................and Tommy cursed so hard he woke up Grandmom.   Tom took his sock off and went into the bathroom to wash up.   I know he didn't think it was funny, but I was still laughing.......................when he walked into to the dining room to turn on the lights and stepped in another pile of Blackie's his bare feet, that was under the light switch.  If  Tom wasn't colorful  the first time around, he more than made up for it on the second.........................I thought I might need medical attention, my sides hurt so bad.  Grandmom decided to get up after all this commotion and was none to happy about the noise..........................or with Blackie.   We went crow hunting and even though we were only slightly is one of my most memorable hunts.
                                          Until next time...............................God Bless.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Superintendent

Hey All,   When you walk out the door on any given day, you  never know what will happen by the time you return. Life is unpredictable and holds many surprises.
        I spent a lot of time in my teen years roaming the creek in town.  We set traps in the fall and winter for muskrats and raccoon, caught minnows for bait in the spring and summer and swam in the creek in Eaton Park.  There were some really deep holes back then, but are no longer there today.  There was an apartment complex in town that I remember being  built when I was still pretty young. I was disappointed to see the woods and fields go, but knew that I couldn't do anything about it.
        It was September 1974. Lenny was new at school and it turns out his dad was the superintendent of this apartment complex.  I had been to their apartment and met his family, everybody seemed nice enough.  I was walking the creek as was my habit and Lenny's dad called to me...........he wanted to show me something.   A vacant apartment on the end of one of the buildings had been broken into and whoever had done it broke through the sheetrock wall to gain access to the occupied apartment next door.  He had asked me if I had seen anything, which I hadn't.   Then I thought maybe he suspected me of doing it.  The Super talked to me for awhile and then got close to me..........from behind he rubbed up against my backside and asked me if I could feel that.  At first I didn't understand, but when he grabbed my hips and started grinding his erection into my rear end, I fully understood.  I was frozen in place.....he repeatedly asked if I could feel him.  I got my wits about me and pulled away and faced him..........this was not going to happen.  He tried to talk me into something more, which I told him I couldn't and wouldn't do.   He made me promise that I wouldn't tell anyone what had happened before he would let me leave...........I was a bit scared, so I promised.    I kept this secret as I had many others........they all had the same thing in common.   I felt if I went home with this story, that I would get my ass kicked from the folks.  That I would be teased by my brothers.............and the Beast might get more ideas of his own.  I couldn't risk it. I avoided Lenny and the Apartment Complex after that day.  I would take the long way around,  away from the creek if I was walking through.  I wondered if Lenny had experienced something like this...........he was a rough around the edges type of kid.............. always seemed to want to prove how tough he was.  The super and his family eventually moved away...........and I added this experience to the stockpile of things I had to keep secret.  It may be difficult to understand...............but by burying these things I didn't have to admit they were real.  If I was the only one that remembered or knew...................then I could act as if I was like everyone else,,,,,,,,,,,that I had a normal kid, with a normal family and experienced normal events.....................that I could blend in and no one would notice. This way I could exist without risk of another attack or ridicule...............yeah, it may not have been "living", but I would take a peaceful existence any day.    How I actually felt about what has happened..............was.that I was some sort of freak, a loser, that I caused this and it's my fault they happened.  After could so many bad things happen to one person?
                                Until next time......................................God Bless.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Potato Soup

Hey All,        It was a long time before I learned how to least someting that didn't taste half bad.    I get along alright now..................but nothing as good as that potato soup.
        In the 10th grade in high school I was as green as they come.  I didn't know what I wanted or how to figure it out.  I just plodded along, living each day as if they would continue on this way indefinitely...........after all, they always had.  I got home from school one day and Mom was in usual form.  She was sitting in the living room,.slurring her speech and I just faded out of the room and went upstairs.  Around dinner time I came down and asked Mom if we were going to have dinner,  which she replied sullenly,  that I would be taking care of myself.  I looked to see what was available and there wasn't much.  It was curious to me how we could always have booze,  but not much food in the house.  I ended up calling Grandmom Scarborough  She had me look through the cupboards to see what we had and I told her what I could find.  The meal for the night was Potato Soup.  She explained  to me everything that I needed to do and I wrote it down.  I was on my first culinary adventure and I hoped that I would get it right because otherwise I was eating toast for dinner again.  My friend Joe called to see what was going on while I was cutting potatoes, so I brought him up to date on my afternoon.   A little while later Joe was at our door and Mom heard his car in the driveway.  I guess she just couldn't help herself.............. she staggered down the hall in to the kitchen, bouncing off the walls along the way.  She reached under the counter, opened the door and brought out a bottle of Seagrams 7.  She staggered to stove and wanted to know what I was making, so I told her about it..................................she didn't miss a beat.  She opened the whiskey and poured a healthy dose into my  soup.  She laughed and said"that ought to make it taste better".  She then turned and went bouncing off the walls again,  back to the living room, cackling as she went.  I felt like crawling into a hole and pulling the dirt in after me.  Joe laughed, I guess this seemed funny or maybe he was a litle embarassed as I was.  He probably  hadn't seen  anything like this before and unfortunately, it was something I had seen to much. He very generously offered to take me out to Mickey D's for dinner which I  gratefully accepted. 
      I may never make a splash in trying to understand how and why somethings come to be.  I have tried to think and anylyze,  but don't ever come to a satisfactory answer.  Maybe I should just let things go, but for all of the heartache...........................I don't kow how. 
                                    Until the next time.............................God Bless

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Gold Coin

Hey All,      When a loved one passes........we each react differently.  I usually am one to react emotionally.   I had no idea how much emotion I would display when it was all said and done.    
        My Dad was in Bar with his fathers friend, who was spending gold coins for drinking money.  Dad, having three small kids at home, traded him 5 dollars for the coin. he didn't have much free cash, but he recognized an opportunity and tried to seize it.  Dads' Grandmother,  Mercy Hart, exchanged 5 dollars with him for the coin when Dad was on hard times.............with the understanding that he could redeem the coin for the same price when he had the chance.  When that time had come,  Mercy reneged and wouldn't honor her agreement. When Mercy passed, the coin went to her only child, my Grandfather.  My Grandfather decided to right a wrong and returned the coin to my Dad.
        Grandmom Scarborough had passed away around Thanksgiving 1987, it was a difficult time for all of us who loved her.  She was the Matriarch of the had to know her to understand her intrinsic value to each of us as a person. She didn't understand her value, impact or importance to her family.
      In  February 1985 and I moved into Grandmoms'  house. My father had given me a cigar box with many old coins in it.  He told me to hold on to this box for safe keeping.  At the time I didn't understand................ I would.  I removed the bottom drawer from my dresser and put the box  under it, then replaced the drawer.   I told Tom where it was and what had happened............just in case.  In this box was a 5 dollar gold coin dated 1888.  As far as I was concerned the coins belonged to my May 1986,  I became their caretaker.  So it goes.................After Dad had passed, .Grandmom informed me that the gold coin reverted back to her. I didn't argue...............I had to live here.   I asked if she wanted me to get it for her..........she told me to leave it where it was.  I was slightly confused but didn't pursue mistake.
      In November 1987, Grandmom, who was on her death bed was questioned by Dads' sister "H".  She wanted to know the location of the coin.  Grandmom told her what she thought was the truth..........only it wasn't accurate.  Dad didn't reveal the fact that he had given me the box of coins to his Mother..................including the gold one.  I seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time..................I would never shake this sense of bad timing.  Carl is my cousin and "H"'s son.  He asked about the coin and I told him the story, then produced the coin at his request to view it and then returned it to the box.  When Grandmom died.....all kinds of trouble ensued.  It seems that Grandmom had a habit of sticking 5,10 and 20 dollars bills in junk mail envelopes and there were a few large plastic trash bags full of them in the unused bedroom.  Uncle Mike, Dad's brother had discovered this and took all of the money......over 13,000 dollars and gave some to one of his children that was there, then put the rest between the mattresses and went to the bar.  My two Aunts "H" and "M" found the money while searching and then tore the house apart looking for whatever of value that could be was literally a treasure hunt.
      My Dad had stored some of his personal valuables in the drawer of the gun cabinet and I removed them and put them in my bedroom so they wouldn't get swept up in the free for all.   When the gold coin hadn't been found in the search,  "H" was told by my uncle that I removed some things from gun cabinet.  That was where the coin was kept by Dad,  before he gave it to me to hold on to............and the location that Grandmom told "H" on her deathbed.  I wasn't aware of any of this until after the funeral.
      I was assigned to be a pallbearer and then "H" who arranged it all, changed this without explanation.  She was very cool towards me and I had cousins and aunts staring at me and whispering.  What the "H" was going on?  We had the viewing and when we all were headed to the cemetery, Aunt"M" heard me voicing my confusion as to what was going on.........and she gave me the story.  My temper rose to just below the surface, I was being judged a thief.......................when I possessed this coin for over two years. I was replaced as pallbearer by another of "H"s sons..........who actually had stolen from Grandmom.  Talk about crazy.  Carl and his brother held up traffic for the procession which gave me the opportunity to position myself as a pallbearer.  "H" called me a thief in front of everyone as she stood directly across from me.   She "wasn't going to allow someone who stole from her mother to carry her casket".  I said " Lady, I didn't know where you got your information, but you are sadly mistaken........................and there isn't anybody here man enough to move me"!  I almost said that she already had a thief ...........when she allowed her other son to carry it..............but this wasn't the place or time for that.  So we had seven pallbearers.  Only Carl and I remained graveside after the funeral.  I was so upset and started to cry, Carl just hugged me as I let it out.  He told me he knew the truth and would set his Mom straight.  We each put a shovel of dirt over the casket and said our own private final good bye. 
       When we got back to Grandmoms house after the funeral, I got the whole story from "H" and "M".  I explained what had happened and that Tommy and Carl, who were present, could verify it............and I was called a liar.  She stated that they were just covering for me and that Grandmom wouldn't have lied to her.  I ended up giving her that was more important to her than me.  It's ironic...................Dad had said that "H" always wanted that coin  and that she would get it over his dead body.............and she did..  Talk about prophecy.   Their was never an apology or I made a mistake from"H".  She went on acting like nothing ever happened.    Maybe she still thinks I'm a thief................I really don't care now............but I did then.  What had transpired at Grandmomos death was completely shameful and a disgrace.  I buried my Grandmother and "H" on the same day.
     I  still have that cigar box and all the other coins in a safe deposit box at the bank............every time I see it my mind takes me back to that unpleasant time.  Thanksgiving wasn't what was in the hearts of family.............greed and entitlement were.  I would happen again with Joe and Mom's estate at another Thanksgiving.   What a life.
                                   Until next time.........................................God Bless.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Anniversary Gift

Hey All,       Life has many important events.. Some people are never good at remembering them and some get so caught up in lifes' daily routine that they miss something that may seem routine, but are important to someone who's important to you.
         March 1982.    While in the Army, I was assigned tho the 213th Aviation Co. (ASH) APO 96271 at Camp Humphreys Korea.(South).   I was assigned there in May 1981 and re-enlisted and stayed for a total of three years.  I was getting married and  and before that could happen , Charlie was on the way.  It wasn't happening according to plan but, being a Dad was something  I just knew I was going to love.  His biological mother decided she wanted an abortion when she found out and I was extremely in opposition.  We don't kill babies, there was no middle ground for me.  She told me it was her body and she could do what she wanted and I had nothing to say about it... ........I thought this over for about 5 seconds and replied that if she did this than we were not getting married.........period.  I reasoned that we talked about having kids and were in agreement.   Even though this baby was coming sooner than expected, it was still part of the plan  and what she was considering is plain wrong.   How could she even be thinking about this?   At that very moment I knew I was getting married to the wrong person. We were married the beginning of October 1983.   She was going stateside and I knew what was happening, but  there no options...........forward march.
         Charlie was born in St Vincent's,  a Catholic hospital in Suwon  the beginning of 1983.  I wasn't permitted in the delivery room by the nuns who ran the hospital so I sat on the floor in the hallway across the delivery room.. I was very nervous and  as such had a very upset stomach. which caused everyone that walked down the hall to gasp for air as they passed and stare at me.  I couldn't blame them, the foul air was thick.................I could barely stand it myself.
       Come September  I received orders for the NCO Academy.  I would be gone for 1 month and farther north in Korea.  I wouldn't be home for our 1st anniversary, but would arrive a few days after.  I always told her that if she did something wrong or made a mistake to be upfront about it.  I would be upset if I had to hear that something happened from someone else.   When I returned from the Academy,  she brought this up.  She had accepted rides in a car from a Staff Sargent, that she wouldn't name, to and from Camp Humphreys and some of my friends had seen them together.  She wanted me to know in case someone mentioned it.   I was naive to say the least.  
      It was a Friday when I came back from the Academy,  a few days after our 1st anniversary.    Normal marital relations resumed on my return and by the end of the day  Saturday, I knew I was in trouble.  I experienced some intense pain and from the training classes we received after coming in country,  I knew exactly what was wrong.   I went to the Dispensary and was treated for VD.   I had a variety of emotions running through me at tha time.  I was walking around trying to think.  What am I supposed to do now?  How do I handle it?  I thought long and hard and decided that there were two options.  Make a big fuss and she may leave and take Charlie with her, in which case I would never find them among the thousands of small villages and cities.   Or, deal with it and try to let it pass with as few waves as possible.   Try to forgive and keep a family together or get upset and God only knows what she will do. .................I felt I was a man with no real options...........again.
        When we finally did come to the Sates , I was assigned to Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas.  Within a couple of months she had a boyfriend and at 6 months moved out.   She didn't get her green card while we were still married and as such had to go back to Korea.  That as you may know  didn't stop her.
          Excuse me.............. I got this as a anniversary gift and would like to return it.  If only.............When you do they right thing there is frequently a cost that you don't first consider.   Sometimes that right thing is the really the only choice.  I have made more mistakes than I care to admit and in retrospect as long as no one had to pay for them but me...........................then it wasn't as bad as it could have been.........  But, Charlie had paid too.
                              Until Next Time............................God Bless.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friend of the Family

Hey All,    Many of us have people in our lives that have been family friends for a very long time.  As children our parents friends and their children often become friends.  Integrity is something I've always admired.  My Dad used say that your name is the only thing you have that defines you to others.  What you make that name stand for is up to you.   It won't always be easy and can often cost you something.
       Don and my Dad were friends for quite awhile.  They were around the same age and both enjoyed hunting and fishing, which at times they did together.   Sometimes we kids would get to accompany them as observers due to the fact that we weren't old enough to get our licenses. Tom and I would walk with them but whenever shooting was to begin we would kneel down as our Dad instructed,  so we would be well below the line of fire.  When we finally got our licenses and were allowed to shoot game ourselves, we never forgot our training.  The first pheasant that got up Tom and I, shotguns in hand kneeled down on the ground.  Don laughed at Dad over how well he trained us.
      Don drank quite a bit and Dad didn't drink much at all.  I was 16 and had spent the entire Saturday morning deer hunting in the pouring rain. Dad was on the road and due back that night. I decided to walk back to Grandmoms and get lunch and warm up before I went back out for the afternoon.  I walked to the road and realized that I would have to walk the roads back instead of cutting across the fields because the creeks were very swollen and I couldn't cross.  As I walked the road the Game Warden and his deputy came by, checked my license and made sure my shotgun was empty.  We talked a little, then they went on their way and I kept on walking up Quarry Rd.  As I walked, I scanned the fields as Dad had taught me and saw something in the grass strip that didn't look right but couldn't identify.  I kept walking, trying to decide if I wanted to expend the energy to walk down the field and investigate.  My curiosity got the best of me, so I walked down and discovered a button buck  laying in the grass with a bullet hole between his eyes.  It was clearly from a rifle, due to the small size of the hole and rifles were illegal to hunt with in this part of the state. Whoever had shot it had to have been on the road two hundred yards away as their tracks would have been visible in the wet field.  It had to have been shot the night before because there were no shot heard all day anywhere close by and the deer was still warm.
       I walked back to the road just as Dad's friend Don drove up.   He had gotten of work at noon and decided to drive this way home.  He had a six pack of beer on the front seat and an open bottle in his hand.  As I got to the road,  he pulled up and asked me what I had found.  I was curious as to why he thought I found anything at all, but didn't voice it.  I explained it to him and he decided to drive down and pick the deer up, which I advised him against as the fields were saturated and he didn't have 4 wheel drive.  He wouldn't listen.  He made it down there okay and threw the deer into his truck bed and then proceeded to bury it up to the rear axle.   We walked back to the road and when a neighbor came by, I asked for lift into town to Grandmoms' house.  I got Joe, my older brother to bring out Dads' Jeep Wagoneer as it had 4 wheel drive. We tried to pull Don truck out with a chain but it wouldn't budge, it was into deep.  I tried to get Joe to stop pulling as his 4 tires were just spinning getting in deep too.  Yep, you guessed it , he buried Dads' Jeep up to both axles.  By now Don had enough.  He left his truck, took what was left of his beer and got a ride home from one of the people who stopped to watch from the road.   We got  yet another ride to None Such Farms  and secured help from them with a farm tractor.  He was able to pull both vehicles out.   It was almost dark by the time it was all over.  We left Dons' truck next to the road, locked it up and took the key with us to Grandmoms'.
        When Dad got home a little while later, I filled him in on the details of the day and he called Don to let him know he could pick up his key and his truck.  Dad now had possession of the deer.  When Don came to the front door, he was in a foul mood and proceeded to tell Dad that this was all my fault and I told him to drive down into the field.  Dad turned around and asked me to verify my story which I did without hesitation.  Don wanted to know who Dad was going to believe, him or a kid.  Dad just handed him his key and shrugged his shoulders with his arms out wide, not saying a word.  I was proud of Dad for the  way he handled this situation.  I could have hugged him if he'd have let me.
       Their friendship survived this incident, but it didn't make it past the day when his friend got caught coming out of Grandmoms' house, when no one was at home, with his hands full with some of Dads'  tools. He tried to justify this act with the fact that Dads' brother owed him  money for quite some time and he thought this was the way to get it back. Dad revoked the hunting privileges of this friend and his sons, as he had authority  from the landowner as caretaker for many years.   This would later be a problem for me in the future......................... but that's another story.  ..
                        Until next time.....................God Bless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Hey All.   We all get to a point in our lives when we decide we need to alter our paths,change direction or realize we can no longer continue on in the same way.  We need to change the standard of what we will and will not accept.
       I was still with the school district and still missing Dad.  I can't say that I'll ever stop missing him.  Time may have dulled the intensity of my loss, but the loss was so great that I'll always feel it when Dads' memory is foremost in my heart.  Charlie and I still lived with Grandmom and life was as" normal" for us there as it could be.  Joe was in his usual form, he walked by and clipped me with his shoulder and told me he could still" kick my ass".  I let it pass as I always did, just trying to keep the peace.  I had nothing to prove to Joe or myself, but I was enabling him just as my folks did by accepting and tolerating this behavior.
      When I came home from Korea with Charlie and his mother, we stayed at my parents for the month we were there.  I was at Grandmoms' and Joe was bringing Charlie and his mother later in the day.  When they got there, I was informed by Charlie's mother that Joe had made a move on her in nothing but his Fruit of the Loom briefs. I wasn't shocked by any stretch and I ended up informing Joe that she was his sister in law and not his girlfriend and not to ever do anything like that again..................or we would have a more serious discussion.
      It was October 1986 and I was lifting weights in the cellar, lights were on and music was playing.  It was almost dark outside when Joe came into the cellar for a tool.  He turned all the lights off on his way out, leaving me in total darkness and immediately I had a temper flare.  I rushed outside and called him a few choice words and informed him what would happen if he didn't knock it off.  An hour later, Tom called and asked if I would look for a deer he was sure he had hit while archery hunting.  I wasn't doing anything, so I agreed and the girl I was dating at the time wanted to tag along.  She sat down at the table while I got things together and talked with Joe who was also sitting there.  Grandmom and Charlie were busy watching TV.   Joe was staring at the table and when she asked him what he was looking for he replied with a crude response for the female reproductive system.  Oh boy, I thought,  here we go.  I reprimanded Joe and stated it was time  for us to leave.  She stood up and Joe put his hand around her waist and pulled her onto his lap as she tried to pass him.  She asked and I demanded,  that she be released multiple times, but Joe refused to even listen.   I had enough of this nonsense, I grabbed the arm that was holding her down and leaned back, she stood up and took a step.................the rest happened quickly.  Joe was mad, he stated that since I wanted to he stepped in and swung.  I ducked and Joe shoved me against a door jamb.  He stepped in and my training took over...........and the angry man from deep inside came to the surface. I stabbed with my right and when that fist was coming back the other started out.   I saw that Joe was falling after the 1st hit, so I pulled the left and didn't strike him again.  He landed square on his butt which brought Grandmom and Charlie over.  There was a lot of yelling and Grandmom got her broom and stood between us..  Grandmom insisted I leave and I refused, I told her that I lived here and he should leave.  I was distracted and Joe stepped over and put me in a head lock and punched at my belly.    This caused Charlie to start screaming and crying as he watched.  I warned him to let go, he wouldn't and I scooped him up from behind his knees, cradling him  and lifted him shoulder high.  I then informed him he had a choice, either behave or I would drop him across my knee and break his back.................... it didn't take him long to decide.  I was talked into leaving and Joe went to the ER.
           The next day at Moms' house, Joe came down for breakfast.  Tom looked at him and broke into laughter.  His eye was black and blue. swollen shut.  Mom  wanted to know what happened but Joe wouldn't tell her.  She called me  to find out the circumstances. After explaining, she told me she knew that this day would come because" Joe tormented me all those years", all I could think was "yeah....... and you let him", but didn't say it.  Joe ended up with 7 stitches over his left eye and Mom wanted me to pay half of Joes' medical  bill, as he had no insurance, which I refused.   I told her that Joe brought it to me, he started it and I gave him what he needed for the last 26 years.................I'd had enough.    Keeping the peace is good thing when you can  ..............and sometimes you have to fight. 
     Everything changed after that day.   Joe never again shoved me or tried to start a physical altercation. For some, the hard way is the only language they understand.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Until the next time.........................God Bless.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Guardian Angel

Hey All,   There were days past that I knew at the the end of the day that the only reason I was still in one piece was due to my guardian angel............working overtime.
        In was Sunday, winter and I was in the 9th Grade at Keith Valley Middle School.  Joe and Mom went to early Mass while Tom and I were still asleep.   We would later ride our bikes to St. John Bosco Church for the 5 o'clock Mass, which we did on many times in the past.   Tom and I had a friend, Jeff, and he and I were spending the afternoon shooting my air rifle at the creek behind his house on Blair Mill Road.  Joe had decided to follow along when he saw me walk out the door with the rifle.  I couldn't stop him, although I didn't invite him either.  I was a cloudy, cold and overcast that day.  We had a pretty good time all in all and Joe was actually well behaved as compared to what I was accustomed to.   It was time for us to get going home because I had to leave enough time to get cleaned up and get to Mass.  We were walking in the field across from Home Road, when Jeff wanted to take one more shot.  At first I balked at the idea, but as he talked to Joe I relented and loaded the rifle at maximum capacity due to the distance from the creek..  Jeff turned to me and I gave him the go ahead as I handed him the rifle.  He was smiling when he lifted the rifle and at 12 inches from my face pulled the trigger and fired.  I had only had time to yell"It's load...." before I was hit in the mouth.  The bullet hit a tooth in my left front of my mouth and and then two next to it.......... leaving a graze mark across my left cheek. The first tooth cracked and other two were knocked loose with a lot of blood.  Jeff didn't say a word, he just looked at me,  put the rifle on the ground and walked away towards home. I lay there a few shock I guess.  Joe took the rifle and when I got myself together we walked home.  Joe wanted to know what I was going to tell the folks.  Dad was on the road and I feared he would kick my ass for fooling around with a gun or not let me hunt. After some thought, I decided that If  fell on a rock crossing the creek, that could explain my that was story that stood for years for the folks, although Tom and Joe knew the truth.
        We got home and I told Mom the story that I had come up with and she accepted it without comment and then reminded me not to be late for Mass.  I looked up at the sky and told Mom that was going to snow, to which she told me no excuses, I was going to church.  Tom and I got cleaned up and road our bicycles out County Line Road to Church.   It was dark when we came out of Church and the snow was coming down so hard that visibility was only a short distance...........there was already a couple of inches on the ground.  I followed behind Tom as we road home, with our heads down, trying to see through the snow.  As we approached Jacksonville Road in front Fischer&Porter the light there turned red.  Tom had stopped already as he had a good lead on me.  As I looked down,  I saw a bumper and the fender of a car.  The tire wasn't turning, the brakes locked, sliding into me due to the snow on the road.. It kept pace with me as I had to slow down for the red light.  I had the curb next to me, the car on my left and red light coming up with cross traffic going the other way.  As the car reached my bike, I jumped as hard as I could and hit the top of the chain link fence along the parking lot of F&P.  I bounced and hit the ground as the car had stopped after going over my bike.  The driver had gotten out to check on me and by this time Tom saw the car over the curb, with me on the ground.  Tom came back as the driver was checking on me and said "I saw the whole thing.  If you give me 20 bucks, I won't say anything".  Well, the driver just stared at him and didn't give Tom any money.  He just drove away and left us standing there when he realized I wasn't injured.  I had to drag  my bike home from there and Tom just coasted along to stay with me.  Mom was pacing around the street light at the bottom of Norwyn Road, in the falling snow, when we got there.  She was angry and wanted to know why were so late. I explained to her the details and she thought I was lying.  I showed her my bike and asked if it looked like I was lying.  All she could say was "Oh my God".   Then I said,  "See, I told you it was going to snow".   Maybe I should have been a weatherman.
       I think back and wonder how I am still alive.   The gun that shot me is the same one I shot Tom with in the story "John Wayne". Any lower and the bullet would have gone in the back of my throat.......a little higher and  it would have gone through my cheek to the back of my head. Either way, I may have been killed.....I got off easy.   Jeff  never checked to see if I was okay, so I went to Jeff's house after a week and knocked on the door.  He answered and I explained that I was okay and I knew this was an accident.............that there were no hard feelings.   Regardless, that was the end of our friendship.   I guess he couldn't get past what had happened, as he avoided Tom and I from that point forward.
      I eventually stopped riding wasn't a healthy mode of transportation for me.  Yeah......more stories.  No one needs to tell me the odds of surviving two such accidents in one day.  There is no doubt in my mind that I was protected by the invisble hand of God that day.  No one's that unlucky and lives to tell about it without divine intervention.  I would come to wonder why I was permitted to live..........especially after I became older and more of my life unfolded. Enough for today.
                     Until next time.............................God Bless.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Hey All,   Think back and I'm sure that there are events you wish you could change.  I know that that this is especially true for me.
       In early 1981,  I was assigned to HHC 3rd Brigade at Ft Lewis, Washington State.  This was just below Seattle and was a new assignment for me at this Military Post.  I had been reassigned from HHC 2/47th Infantry Battalion.  I had left friends but, fortunately they were only 100 hundred yards away.  Rick was one of these friends.  He had the rank of SP4 and was from Altoona, Pennsylvania.  He was married to Korean woman and she was 8 months pregnant with their child. They lived off post in an apartment just around the corner from an apartment that I shared with Mike, who was a motorpool mechanic at my last assignment.  Rick liked a good time like anyone else and attended parties we had hosted from time to time.
         He had knocked on the door one Saturday and asked to borrow money until payday.  He needed to fix his car brakes for inspection.  I lent him the 20 bucks he needed and he went on his way.  A few days later,  he was back with a friend who had  turned 21 and he wanted to take him out to celebrate.  He wanted tomorrow another 20 bucks until payday, which I obliged.  The next morning we were up at 4:45 AM getting ready to report for formation of the troops.  There was an knock at the door and my former Company Commander and 1st Sergeant were at the door.  They had bad news........................Rick was killed in a car accident.................the details were even worse.    I knew that Rick was a prejudiced man against African Americans.  We carpooled to work and he would make comments about them as we passed a black person along the road..............That's 10 points he would say and swerve towards them.    Rick and his buddy had been out drinking............on their way back there was a black man walking along the road and Rick ran him over and ended dragging him to decapitation.  In fleeing the scene at high speed, he took a long curve over a railroad bridge and lost control and went over the railing onto the tracks.  Rick was ejected and the car landed on top of him,  the friend survived but was in ICU for a while.  The murdered man was from 2/2nd Infantry........a sister Battalion in 3rd Brigade.  Rick had a son that he never saw and I felt a little guilty for lending him the money.  I know that everybody sins........................and will pay for those sins, sometimes without hesitation.  I also realize that although I aided in his outing with  a friend..........that I didn't have a part in his actions.  Rick had good qualities...................but whatever was in his heart that directed his actions that night, left a great deal of heartbreak for the family of the man he murdered and for the wife and son he left behind.  I will be sorry for their pain as long as I live. 
                                       Until Next Time.................................God Bless.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our Inheritance

Hey All,     We all have an inheritance.  We work because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit...............I'm going to have a serious discussion with those two when the day comes.  When our parents died, we eventually settled their estate.  We got more than we bargained for.
          In March 2005, Mom passed away and left no will.  Tom and I decided that Joe could still live in her house as long as he paid all of the bills.  We couldn't afford additional expenses as we each had mortgages etc of our own.  I found out later that someone was telling people at Mom's funeral that Penny and I were throwing him out on the street..........and so it goes.  In 2008, Tom and I decided that our situations were hard enough that we had to sell Mom's house. Even though we owned 1/3 each, we couldn't gain access because Joe changed the door locks.  According to Joe, Mom told him she was leaving the house to him alone, when she was drunk one far as he was concerned that was the way it was going to be.  
         I got a lawyer to settle the estate and Joe got his own.  We tried to list the house for sale and which Joe fought us..................................we had to go to orphans court to compel the sale.  During all of this we all were paying a penalty on inheritance tax,  we only had 9 months from Mom's passing to settle her estate without penalty..........................and the penalty increases along with legal fees.   When we got a realtor, Joe called them and complained threateningly about their sign.   Then he changed the locks so they couldn't get in.  We had a buyer at our asking price and the locks were changed again...................the buyer walked away.  The housing market crashed and we lost $30,000.  The realtor brought another buyer only to find that there were no light bulbs in the house.  Joe told the realtor to bring their own.  We had to threaten orphans court again because of this and the light bulbs returned. It was suggested to Tom and I,  by Mom's siblings, that we should give Joe the house for taking care of Mom.  He took her shopping, cut the grass etc. and she washed his clothes, cooked his dinner and packed his lunches for work.  Their relationship was symbiotic........they each had their roles. He would run to the liquor store....................she'd buy it...............he'd fly out to get it, so he could drink for free.  It is my opinion that Joe has gotten more than he deserved. 
        Mom's house was eventually sold.  Our family is our inheritance.  They are the living and breathing fact that someone before us existed and left a part of themselves behind.  Blessed are they that can count their family as loved ones.  Tom and I never see Joe, which is okay.  We thought he was gone out of our lives................................that's another story.
                                  Until next time.............................God Bless.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Basic Training

Hey All,     This is one of those stories..................maybe to graphic or personal for young people.  I'm going to tell a story no one had ever heard until a year ago........................and then I only told it because I was specifically asked a personal question.    Seems the VA is doing a survey.  Maybe it was better kept as a secret but, I had come to a point of no return in my I didn't care anymore.
         June 1979.  I went to Columbia, South Carolina for Basic Training.  Fort Jackson was really a hot place in the summer.  I was looking forward to a new life.  The military was structured and disciplined by most accounts and I was anxious to start fresh from the life I had known up until this point.  I had hope that I could have a normal life, that I would be given a chance to prove myself and be treated as everyone else.    I was a fool ....................................people are still sinners, even in the military.  The next part of my life begins......
          We got to Columbia by train from Philadelphia.  It was an overnight trip and I got drunk on Southern Comfort bought by a guy in Philly.  I was hungover but sobered quickly when we got there.  The Drill Sergeants were yelling just inches from our faces    They were SGT's Blenis and Powell.  I'm not sure how but I ended being chosen as assistant squad leader for the 4th squad.  The squad leader was a female and as such I acted as squad leader for the 4th squad in the male barracks. I had found favor with Sgt Powell for some reason  and he always treated me with respect as soldier and a person.  One night he had CQ, which is Charge of Quarters.  He was responsible for the Company overnight.  CQ's had runners,  enlisted that would go and check on things or occupy Company Headquarters while the CQ did security checks.  Normally there is one runner..................but this night there were two . There was a female soldier who was attracted to me and I her........................... she and I had duty together that night.   Drill Sergeant talked to us and told us that we could do whatever we wanted for the next hour but told us not to do it on the Commanders desk.  You don't need a road map here....................but back then I did.  I never had sex and was very uncomfortable with what was expected of us.   We left and wandered around Headquarters until our hour was sex or even a kiss.  Yeah, I realize what many guys would have done.........but I honestly and maybe foolishly  wanted my first sexual experience  to count for something, more than just the experience of sex itself.  I wanted control for once in my life over something I felt was so very personal.   I was an idiot.
            When we got Basic Training, we all were immunized against God knows what.   I ended up ill from something and was found late at night on a security check by SGT Powell.  He called for medical assistance and I had an upper respiratory infection and a fever of 102.  I had to be removed from the barracks and was taken to the hospital and admitted while I was still ill and contagious.  I was given medications for the symptoms and the usual hospital attire.  I awakened in the night...........................because I had ejaculated.  I sat up and was confused...................... I was exposed.  My penis was wet but there was no semen.  I sat there trying figure out what was going didn't make sense or register with me.    Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement in the the dark by the door................................I looked with just enough time to see someone running out the door.  I immediately understood what had happened and had a temper flare.  I was going to kick somebody's ass. I got myself together and ran out in the hallway.......................nobody insight.   I started a room to room search and then realized after awhile that I would not find this person and returned to my room and remained awake the rest of the night.   I don't know who it was or if they were male or female.  I only know that I was robbed of my personal choice.    Yeah, I know that most guys would look at like so what's the big deal....................... you got oral sex, wish it was me.    It was and is a big deal.  It's not about the physical act,  it's about having a say for change about something very personal in my life.  If I was a female,  then it would be viewed differently?
            A day later, I was released and returned to my Company.  I will never be the same person or will I ever view my life the same way.  I thought I was free from the past..................................I only had reaffirmation that I would never be safe and I was angry with myself for being an idiot and expecting that things would change for the better.   What's wrong with me?  What can I do to stop these things from happening?  I would find an answer but it wouldn't be the one I was looking for.
                       Until next time....................................God Bless.

Monday, October 10, 2011

You Need a Sledgehammer.

Hey All,    There are some people that fail to see things, especially when it comes to themselves.  In some ways they are naive, in others, things that are hidden jump out at them.  It's just how their brains are can lead to some interesting outcomes.
        It was January 1996.  I was a regular attendee at church and Charlie was involved in the youth group. I sang in the choir and attended extra church functions on a regular basis.
       I had met Mark and Becky at church and would see them on regular basis at different events.   I was a single parent at this time, which is not unheard of for fathers these days. I had opportunity to talk with both of them on many occasions and in one of these, I revealed my story of being a divorced dad.  Becky asked the usual questions that many women have asked me regarding my circumstances.  When she got to the dating part,  I answered that I wasn't, which was true.  I had become extremely "gun shy" by this time in my life as do many from dates that don't work out or relationships that don't end well.  I would view everyone as a friend and was so naive that if a woman was showing an interest in me that I wouldn't notice. I told Becky that woman would have to hit me with sledgehammer to get my attention.  I just thought these women were being nice.  Believe it or not some people consider me intelligent.......................just not when women were concerned.
       Becky's sister had also attended our church.  Her name is Penny, and she had introduced herself to me and in usual fashion I treated her as anyone else.............friendly.  Of course, I didn't notice the way Penny looked at me and when she made soup for me when I was sick.............I thought she was just being nice........ um, Duh. This went on for some time, until the Sunday when Becky who was sitting behind me handed me a manila folder.  I opened it and there was an artist sketch of Penny holding a sledgehammer, which a friend of hers from work had drawn for her.  It took me a second to realize what this meant as Becky sat there with a big smile.
       Penny and I have been married for 14 years now.  I can't say for sure how things today would be if it wasn't for that sledgehammer.  I do know that I'm glad that somebody pointed me in the right direction. Come to think of it.................that sketch did look pretty intimidating..................just kidding!     I love you Penny.
                                       Until Next time......................God Bless.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Farm Job

Hey all,    We all have a story to tell.   Sometimes they bring a smile to your face.   These are the best kind.
       I was a self-employed Plumbing-HVAC contractor for 17 years.  I have worked in many houses and buildings for a lot of different people.   The Parks Farm was one of my favorite and most memorable jobs.  The owners were great people and a pleasure to work for.  I've done quite a few different jobs at the farm from plumbing, heating and electrical.   On this particular day in early March, it was quite cold.  We still had frost every morning, but all of winters' snow was gone.   The toilet  in the addition to old farmhouse overflowed all the time.  After checking it out,  I determined that their was a problem with the buried sewage line.   The owners had a friend they always used for excavation work by the name of Floyd.  They made arrangements for Floyd to come and dig the line and since it was cast iron and buried for many years, I was  to replace it with PVC.   I met Floyd at the farm that morning and he had his backhoe already in place.  I wore my carhart insulated coveralls since it was so cold and had a big cup of coffee since I couldn't do anything until it was all dug up.  About halfway through the dig I could see somebody had already replaced 10 feet of the sewage line with PVC.  Floyd however couldn't see it from his position and got hooked on the end of the Pipe.  PVC is flexible and that pipe bowed in a great big arc.  Problem was it was packed full with raw sewage and the farmhouse had brand new vinyl siding and windows installed recently.  Floyd could tell he was caught,  but not on what and kept pulling to get free.  He did and it flung sewage all over the side of the house with such force that it went through the screens to the windows.  It was a mess!   The whole side of the old farmhouse was just coverd in sewage.............except in one place, in the shape of a guy holding a coffee cup.    I had barely enough time to close my eyes as I realized what was going to happen.   I stripped of my coveralls and washed my face in the house.    Floyd could see what happened just after he got his bucket free..  It must have been a sight because his face was so red from laughing it took him a minute to catch his breath.   The owners pressured washed the house off after I went home to shower and get another pair of boots.   Penny refused to wash the coffee cup and I had to throw it away.  I miss that cup.
                   Until next time...................God Bless.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Foolish Desire

Hey All,   We all plan for the future.  Whether it's for the day or the next year, we each plan our lives to some extent.  When we were in High School, all of us had some idea what we wanted to do next and made arrangements in kind.  We plan and God laughs.
       It was January 1979.  I went through school with absolutely no idea what I was going to do as a career when I graduated.  I didn't apply myself very much to any of the classes I took, I didn't need to because in our house no one cared much about what grades you got.  No one checked homework and parents  signed off on report cards without much comment.  All that was required was a passing grade, not your best effort or living up to your potential.
       I had taken a psychology course with Peter Barsky as the teacher in high school.   It had peaked an interest in me and it was then I decided that I would like a career in Psychology.  We were very poor growing up, so I knew that I was going to be on the hook for the full ride.   I  was a Library Aide, so I asked Mrs Sloss what I had to do to get any financial aide that I might qualify for.  She explained how things worked and I went to Guidance to get the necessary forms to fill out.  I took them home and filled out what I could and had to ask Mom for their financial info to be able to complete them.  It was then that I had a problem...........Mom was drunk as usual and wanted to know why I needed it.  After I explained it to her and she looked at the forms she said"It's nobody's f******* business how much money we make .........I'm not telling you and your not going"..   I  dropped the whole idea after that, I was too embarassed to tell anyone what happened.  Dad was on the road and unavailable and I wasn't sure when he'd be back.
       A week or so after this Mom came out into the kitchen, drunk again and informed me that when I turned 18 years old,  I had to get out of the house.   I asked if Dad knew about this and she replied that he did.   Joe still lived at home and was 21 at this time. Since my 18th birthday was a couple of weeks away,  I asked if I could stay until I graduated.  She considered this for a moment and agreed.  I was hurt by this and wondered why I had to leave and Joe could turned out that Tom could stay too.
        Now I felt the pressure to come up with something so I wasn't going to be jobless and homeless.  I ended up enlisting in the Army.  After my birthday, I signed up for the delayed entry program and would report on June 25th for Basic Training. After all the arrangements were solid, I told Mom what I had done and she got mad.  She said she wouldn't sign for me and I explained that at 18, she had no say about it.  Of course Dad didn't know what I had done either.
        The day came shortly before Dad passed away that we had a conversation about this at Grandmoms' house.  Grandmom was there but Mom wasn't.  I explained what had happened and he just sat there for a minute looking at me in disbelief.  He then stressed the point that he had no idea that this had occured and wouldn't have agreed if he had.  He then talked about how many things he missed not being at  home so much because of his job.  He felt bad about it for me and angry at Mom at the same time.  He knew his time was short from the doctors prognosis and he had a lot of regrets.  I explained that everything was okay,  I didn't fault him for what happened is what it is....................even if what it is.............................isn't what we hoped for.
                         Until next time..................God Bless.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Hey all,    My father was a man it took me a long time to understand.  He would get frustrated sometimes and lose his cool with an explozive anger that I had a healthy respect for.  His father was an alcoholic and my grandfather was not a kind man when drunk. I'm not making excuses for Dad, just cutting him some slack.  He learned to be a father from his father.  Which means nobody showed him much in the way of nurturing...............pretty much the opposite. "The sins of father will be visited upon the next generations". 
       It was a cold day in November at my Grandparents house.  We  three boys had spent the day raking leaves and other chores that Dad gave us.. It was getting dark as we finished up and Grandmom was busy making dinner. I could smell the aroma of home cooking as soon as I got through the back door.  Dinner wasn't ready yet so we all sat and watched TV with Grandpop.  He had a stroke before I was born and his right side was mostly paralyzed.  He usually would sit and smoke his pipe as he looked out the window across town or towards Buckingham Mountain.  If it was nice outside, he would sit outside as we worked on whatever the chores for the day were.  He never said much, but could utter curse words with no problem at all.
       Grandmom had the table set and she set up a tray for Grandpop, because with all of us boys there with Dad  there wasn't much room at the table and he couldn't maneuver very well.  He sat by the colonnade so he was facing the table and so he could take the meal with everyone else.  Grandmom called us for dinner.  Dad sat at the end of the table and Joe my older brother, was seated on his left.  Joe usually got to the table first at mealtime and usually was the last to leave.  There weren't any leftovers as a rule.  Dad had already started eating by this time and his head was down towards his plate, so he didn't see what happened next. I couldn't squeeze between Joe and Grandpops' stuffed chair.  Joe leaned back with his left arm and tried to move a tall stand type ashtray with a heavy metal tray in it.  He didn't do so well because it fell to floor with a crash.  The metal tray hit a gallon jug of Vina Duva red wine and broke the glass.  Wine was all over the floor.  Everything was silent for a moment.  I looked from Joe to the mess on the floor and back again.    He didn't make a move to clean it up, so I bent over and started to pick up the pieces.  That turned out to be a far as Dad was concerned it was an admission of guilt.   The next thing I knew I was jerked backwards by my shirt and slammed into a wall.  I got slapped in the face a few times, that resulted in wetting myself.   I instinctively brought my hands up to cover my face, which only served to piss him off more..  He then hit me in the middle, so I dropped to floor and tried to curl up in ball.  That resulted in getting kicked. When this was done he grabbed me by the shirt collar and lifted so high that I had to stand on my toe tips.  I walked me to the back door that way and  had me open it.......I was then tossed outside.  He turned the backdoor light off and went back inside.  A few seconds later the door opens and he tosses out my winter coat.   That was considerate because it was snowing by then.   He ordered me to get in our car and stay there..........................  I did.
         When all this was happenning, I could hear my Grandmother yelling that I didn't do it.  I could hear my Grandfather too.  That in itself was unusual because of his difficulty in getting words out.  When they finally came out of the house everybody had their meal were quiet.  The ride home was just as quiet, not a syllable.  I wasn't guilty but I was the one to pay   Dad had great difficulty admitting that he was wrong and saying he was sorry.  I went to bed hungry and upset.  Dad was one for kicking your butt first and asking questions later and this was not the only time that someting like this happpened.   If I learned anything from my him,  it was "don't jump to conclusions".   I spent a lot of time trying to understand and please my Dad.  It took almost all of the time that I knew him to even get an idea. 
                Until next time...................God Bless.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

John Wayne

Hey All,      We all do things that we wish we wish we could take back or do over.  It would be nice to have a big red "do over" button we could hit.  Everything that happens affects the future, even if we can't see it or notice it.
      Tom and I spent a lot of time together as kids.  We spent great deal of this time at Grandmoms' in Buckingham.  We would hunt in the fields across the road or down the mountain,  fish in the creek down at Doc Taylors and bring suckers home for dinner that Grandmom would make fried fish cakes.   Sometimes we would get bored ....... and that would lead to trouble, especially on this one particular summer day.
      We were in our mid teens.  We spent a lot of time watching television and westerns. We were raised in a be tough, be strong, "don't cry or I'll give you something to cry about"  type of male dominated family.  John Wayne was kind of like the image of mascilinity to srtive for.    I was by nature, a quiet, non aggressive kid, who had to exert myself to be the rough and tumble kind, the son my father expected.  Although I was thought to be intelligent, that was valued on par with being a mans' man.  I didn't know how to be that son.  Tommy was by nature that son.  He had the valued intelligence and the strong male persona that my Dad respected and expected.  A lot of the time growing up I would watch Tom and imitate his behavior to try and learn what to do, so that I might earn my Dad's approval, his positive attention, his rough style of  affection..............just  like Tommy had.
       Dad was out on the road as usual.  It was a hot Friday afternoon as we sat in the lawn chairs under the big maple tree outside of Grandmoms' house.  We were bored and didn't know what to do with ourselves as we spent this time in idle conversation.   We  each had our own pellet rifles and we decided to take them out across the road and see what we could get into, after all nothing else was happening.   We walked the edge of the field up and down and after getting nothing but useless exercise, sat down on a fallen tree.  This wasn't helping our relentless sense of boredom.   I don't recall who came up with this brilliant idea, but after talking about  western movies, it was decide that we would get behind trees and shoot at each other.  Yeah, I know, this was not the intelligence that my fathered admired.
       We took refuge behind the biggest trees available, at 30 feet apart, which protected us each completely..  The agreement was that we would only pump the rifles 3 times.  That hardly mattered because even at that, if hit in the wrong place it could be fatal.   I only exposed my arms as I pointed the gun blindly around the big tree and shot in Toms' general direction.  After each shot , we would have to cock, load and re- pump the rifles.  I forgot myself and pumped it more than 3 times.  With my back against the tree, I held the rifle in my left hand and pulled the trigger with my right thumb.   I immediately heard a yelp from Tom and then  then his yell that I hit him.   My heart was racing as I ran out to where he was standing and saw blood on the ground and he was nowhere insight.  He had ran straight to Grandmoms' and ran so fast I didn't see him until I got there.   Grandmom didn't drive so she called a friend and took Tom to the doctor.  An Xray showed that the bullet had gone into his arm, a few inches above his wrist, traveled up his arm a few inches and lodged against the bone.   Grandmom was upset with us to say the least and Tommy had told her it was an accident, a ricochet.  If they knew how this really happened, Dad would have kicked our asses for sure.  He may have taken away our hunting privileges as well.  It was a good thing Tom thought fast on his feet.  It was late in the day, so Tommy had to wait until Monday for surgery to remove the bullet.  The doctor said it wasn't life threatening so it would be alright.  Come Monday, when taken to get it removed, the doctor used a pair of tweezers.  From using his arm,  the muscle action had worked the bullet to just below the surface and surgery wasn't required.
       God looked after us that day.  What are the odds that not aiming, not even looking, that I would hit Tommy in the only exposed part of his body?  How about the fact that his injury wasn't serious and that surgery was avoided because it was deferred?   We made a lot of mistakes back then and we learned to respect firearms without the steep price it could have cost us. We were left without any parental supervision, no guidance, most of the time.  Without our guardian angels, we wouldn't be here today.   How many times would I come to find out that this was true?    Time would tell...................and so will I.
                             Until next time.........................God Bless.