Thursday, February 26, 2015

One Night In Viet Nam

I actually went to college to play football so it was no surprise to me that after football season ended my freshman year I received a letter from the dean stating that I was placed on Academic probation and would have to set the next semester out. As it turned out the next semester contained the next years football season so my interest in college went from low to zero. I did the only illogical thing an 18 year old macho man would do I joined the Marine Corps. I reported to the Marine Recruit depot at San Diego. We disembarked from the bus and stood on the famous foot prints, and received the first outpouring of screaming and taunting from the three Drill instructors. We marched poorly and heard the Hippity hop mob Stop ,and were at the barbershop .We of course, had our hair cut off. After standing in line for It seemed like forever, we received our utilities ,boots, covers, and everything else that would be our sole possessions for the next eight weeks. After being awake almost all night we marched or a semblance of a march to our hutches, which would be our home . Feverously we tried to put everything away in its proper place We heard, company on the road and scrambled to put on our coats ,I grabbed my gloves as it was December, and even in San Diego it was chilly, ran out the door and lined up along the asphalt at attention. One of our Drill Instructors was sergeant Joy, 150 pounds of Black evil. He walked down the line of us inspecting us and giving every recruit a hard time, and then he came to me. About two inches from my face he yelled slime, what do you have in your field jacket pockets? I responded that I had my gloves. Sergeant Joy then ordered everyone else back in the hootches and when we were the only ones outside, he told me to give him the gloves and when I did he took them and slapped me in the face with them. Then yelling attention, he ordered me in to my hootch. I ran into the hootch and one of the other drill instructors had explained to everyone else the proper placement of Boots and shower shoes under the bunk and on each side of the foot locker. I hurriedly asked which way they went and then placed mine, when sergeant Joy yelled attention and we all came to attention next to our bunks. The Black drill instructor made his rounds inspecting everyone’s bunks and placements when he came to my bunk he yelled everyone out on the road ,then grabbed me and told me to stay. My buddy whom I had asked the proper placement of boots and shower shoes, had told me wrong. When everyone was outside, the drill instructor picked up my shower shoes and while I was standing next to my bunk at attention, he slapped me in the face with the shower shoes. I grabbed him by his shirt, picked him up and threw him against the wall. He yelled attention. I came to attention. He positioned his face inches from mine and said” If you ever touch me again I will Kill You.” I believed every word he spoke. My learning curve began to straighten out after a while as I figured out the best way to avoid confrontation was to become invisible. On the drill field I daydreamed as we marched ,and seeing a new Camero,in the parking lot I was happily visualizing myself running it through the gears as the drill instructor crept up beside me and grabbed my rifle and proceeded to slam the receiver against my head .He screamed for me to report to him at his duty hut when we got back to our hootches.By this time I was becoming quite tired of being his whipping boy so I decided that if I went I would get a beating and if I didn’t I might and maybe might not . Sure enough he forgot all about it until a few days later. He said private, weren’t you suppose to report to me the other day? I said yes sir the private was told but the private forgot. He laughed and that was the end of it. When we finally progressed to the week of the rife range I was ecstatic. I grew up on a farm along the Mississippi river, and My dad was an excellent shot and had taught me to shoot a rifle when I was about eight years old. I hunted our woods ,and always had squirrel and rabbit for my Mother to cook up. As I expected I was a star on the rifle range. Each recruit had a coach and the coach would help you adjust your sites for different distances and wind conditions. Up a click, two clicks to the left etc, until you were shooting predictable. I was shooting better than predictable, I was dead on. The day of qualification, we rode to the range in the cattle cars, which were semi trailers with seats made to haul troops around camp Pendelton.disembarked and made our way down the firing line to our assigned spot, I looked around for my coach and he wasn’t anywhere to be found. Sergeant Joy walked down the line --stopped and told me that my coach was given another assignment for that day and that he would be my spotter coach. I got a sick feeling in my stomach, as I imagined what was coming. We started at 100 yards I adjusted my sites, first shot in the bulls eye in the lower right, I adjusted one click to the left , next shot center of bulls eye, on the bottom, I adjusted one click up, from then on a group right in the center. We then moved on to three hundred yards I adjusted up a few clicks, and shot in the bulls eye, a little high and again on the right, I adjusted one click down and one click to the left and filled the target with a group in the center of the bulls eye. We moved to the 500 yard and I was shooting expert, I was bound for sniper school or recon which was what I wanted. Sergeant joy then said let me see your rifle, I handed it to him and he spun the sight adjustments then threw it down in the dirt, Telling me that my rifle was filthy, as the order went out to lock and load for the final targets at 500 yards. I got down in prone position with the rifle strap wrapped tightly around my upper arm, and around my wrist, so that in the prone position the rifle would be as steady as possible. In theory when in the prone position your right elbow should be in a direct line with your left elbow. I have wide shoulders and for me that is impossible, but in Sargent joys mind he saw an infraction that needed to be corrected, so as I was lying in the prone position he walked up and jumped on my rifle .I screamed in pain, while being screamed at what a worthless puke I was that didn’t deserve to qualify, and should be sent back and made to start all over in another platoon. Sergeant Joy then told me to assume the prone position and qualify .In Pain I placed the target in my sights, exhaled then as I was slowly inhaling squeezed the trigger, Maggies drawers, meaning that I completely missed the target, I was in a Panic and asked Sergeant joy witch way the bullet hit and he said he didn’t see it shoot again, My second shot missed the target again, and this time sergeant Joy gave me the blessing of telling me that it was in the dirt to the right, I adjusted my sights five clicks up and three clicks left, I was lost because sergeant Joy had spun the adjustment and I did not know where I was. Next shot I hit the target low right, my next shot I aimed at the upper left of the target and hit in the bull’s-eye Now this is called shooting with Kentucky windage and is frowned upon, I finished my qualification by aiming not at the bulls eye but at the top left corner of the target, and ended up qualifying not as expert , but two tiers down at Marksman, eroding my dreams of Sniper school.Seargent Joy looked at me and asked did you qualify using Kentucky windage? I lied and said well, No sir, Kentucky windage is not allowed. After qualifying at the rifle range we returned to basic training, and I soon discovered that when trying to perform an order arms where you hold the rifle out and hold with your left hand and open the bolt with the right, I could not hold the rifle, I had torn ligaments in my left arm from Sergeant Joys jumping on my rifle, Sargent Joy put me on the weak squad. In spite of Sargent Joy I managed to graduate from boot camp, and went to Pendelton for Infantry training, as every marine is number one a rifleman. It was like the weight of the world was lifted off me, no Sergeant Joy. After ITR I was given a MOS of 3500 truck driver, I stayed at Pendleton for truck driving school. I was a natural, having grown up on a farm and driving twin stick Macks for Bremco mills in the summer before I enlisted. I breezed through schools battalion. Home for a two week leave my orders were to report to Staging Battalion for assignment in Viet Nam. The two weeks went fast, I reported for Staging battalion, and Met Wieakki. Wieakki was a full blooded apache Indian, going to Nam for his fourth tour, We instantly hit it off an he became my teacher, and buddy. The night of War games we infiltrated behind enemy lines climbed the mountain and walked up to the CO and said bang your dead, he wasn’t amused. He taught me a lot and after we deployed, I never saw him again, but I did check the wall and his name isn’t on it. I arrived by passenger jet at the De Nang airfield, and when we stepped off the plane the 100% humidity and 120 degree temperature hit you in the face and took your breath away. As we disembarked the chain link fence that separated the tarmac from the terminal was lined by short timers waiting for their ride home on the “freedom bird” many of them called out with cat calls and encouraging words like” you are going to die” ha ha ha. I began my tour at headquarters battalion first battalion thirteenth Marines. As I unpacked I pulled out several Hot Rod magazines, and the sargent said you know how to work on cars? I said yes, he said good you are our new mechanic. I worked in the motor pool for the first month .One day a couple trucks came pulling in and they were covered with dust, and the guys were just as filthy, all wearing bush hats . I talked to them and found they were with Kilo 4/13 out at a firebase In An Hua. I requested a transfer the next day. The first day at Kilo The sargent told me to get up on top of a Five ton and with a pickaxe and break the steel bands holding the pallets of 155 howitzer shells together so they could be unloaded , a couple guys from the gun were there to help me at first but then they said fire mission and they took off leaving me on top of the truck swinging that pickaxe. I saw the turret of the gun swing around until it was pointed directly over my head but I was busy and it was hot so I didn’t really pay much attention. I heard Stand by fire . One thing about Kilo battery was that when they had a fire mission all the guns six in all would fire at exactly the same time. It was awesome, however when you are directly in front of the muzzle blast It feels more like the world has come to an end. It blew me clear off the truck ,but other than ,my pride from being so stupid and a severe ringing in my ears I was ok. The guys told me that they had been getting rockets and mortars regularly and I asked what a rocket sounds like, not to confuse with the sounds of the guns, I was told don’t worry you will know. The first morning of a rocket attack, I woke to the sound of a screaming train roaring through the hootch.we grabbed our rifles, bandeliers,helmets flak jackets and headed out towards a bunker ,where I saw a white hot gear like out of a transmission rolling across the ground. It seems they would use anything they could find and use it as shrapnel in the rockets. As it turned out that morning, Pappy from gun six spotted the muzzle flash of the rocket as it was launched from the side of the mountain he contacted FDC and with the lieutenants go ahead; barrel sighted ,and then shot a High explosive round, and took em out. We were at An Hua for a few months and then were told that we were going to move to a place called Fire Base Ross. From Ross we could hit Cambodia to the west and the China Sea to the East. We would send a convoy to LZ Baldy once a day for an ammo run. The road was often mined and went through a village and many rice fields. I was still classified as a driver even though I was in charge of the motor pool as a mechanic and responsible for maintenance on all the trucks. Every so often I would take a truck in the convoy just to break the monotony .One particular day we went to Baldy got loaded , waited for the mine sweep then headed back. We were following an Army convoy Americal Division and as Marines we always made fun of the Doggies.The convoy stopped and all the doggies ran out into the rice paddies setting up a perimeter, we Marines just sat on the hoods of our trucks enjoying the doggies going through what looked like a training exercise’s had with me, a Guy from California named Ferris. Now Ferris like all of us was crazy, so we are sitting in the truck with the windshield open and the doors with flak jackets draped over open and to the right of us all these gooks were passing the convoy on their little Honda 50cc motorcycles. Ferris said hey watch this. He waited until this gook was almost up to the cab and shoved his flak jacket with his foot ,it sailed into the air and cleaned the gook right off that motorcycle. Then Ferris jumped down and ran up to him and started yelling at him about being a VC and trying to steal his flak jacket. Man I had never seen anything like that and I felt bad for the gook but like I said we were all crazy. One day our Navajo Indian named Harjo hit a mine that must have been just c4 with no shrapnel because it lifted the truck off the ground about four foot, and then it came down .Harjo slammed on the brakes jumped out of the truck shouted GET BACK LORETTA then jumped back in the truck without a scratch and came on home to LZ Ross. January eighth 1970 I was on guard duty at 4:30 in the morning. It was raining and I was sitting on the North wall of the bunker looking South and Dillinger was sitting on the South wall. I had placed my flack jacket behind me to act as a diversion for the rain. It started with a load scream as a rocket propelled grenade ripped into the bunker wall just to me right. It knocked me to the floor of the bunker which measured about ten ft by ten ft. I scrambled up and saw Viet Cong Zappers behind up inside our compound. I dove to the floor trying to find my rifle in the dark ,a Chi com grenade landed on the wall of the bunker and went off . I found my rifle and popped up and started shooting at the black pajama wearing sappers, hit one wearing grenades and one of them blew up that finished him, one ran up with a grenade and I got him before he could lob it into our bunker. Seventh guns had a machine gun on the top of a huge rock about twenty foot high and one of the sappers got to it and started shooting at us. So we had the machine gun and several AK’s all trying to take us out. An M79 took out the Machine gun and I spotted one sapper running toward a trailer parked beside the motor pool. I stared shooting at him and he dove under the rear axles of the trailer. By this time the sky was lit up , and morning was breaking. A platoon came down to check on us and I yelled that there was a gook under the trailer as I had been taking pot shots at him most of the night. I would watch and see an arm or a leg and squeeze one off then I wouldn’t see anything for awhile. The Sargent in the platoon had a flashlight and was looking under the trailer where I had told him the gook was hiding ,and saying no nothing there nothing then all of a sudden he yelled out Chu Hoy Mother F--r and emptied his 45 . He didn’t hit anything so we ended up with a prisoner somewhat shot up in the arms and legs. The longest night of my life . In March we received word that we were being withdrawn, Get all the vehicles ready for the ship ride home. I was in Nam when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon I heard good Morning Viet Nam every morning on the radio, and heard the music Run Through the Jungle being blasted from helicopters, I smelled the stench of death in Viet Nam,I survived and many did not. I rode on a LST ship home, with all the six 155 self propelled guns and all the trucks and jeeps in the cargo hold. Of course as luck would have it I was on guard duty when we crossed the international date line, and so I had guard duty two days in a row because it was Wednesday two days in a row. When we arrived in San Diego, there was a small greeting party of a handful of relatives of some of the crew members of the ship, and a small band playing the Marine Corp hymn. After turning over our weapons we received orders for liberty two weeks at home. I flew home and was there when Kent State happened. I just happened to be in Wapakoneta Ohio at A hangout called Minerdings. I was there with some high school buddies when some guys started getting real loud, a couple football jocks from Wapak who were in the National Guard and they were bragging about being all bad and macho for being in on the Kent State shootings. Well I never cared much for Wapak guys anyway so I just walked up and told them that as far as I was concerned they were nothing but pansies and sorry so in so’s for shooting girls. I told them that I was a Marine just back from the Nam and that I was over there fighting for those students at Kent State to insure they had the freedom to protest whatever they wanted to protest. The loudmouths shut up , you could have heard a pin drop , I turned and walked out the door. One thing I have forever; I am a United States Marine.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A little Colombian side trip

Bernarda had called the night before to make the accommodations and arrangements. I had checked the long range weather forecast and it called for rain all week in Medellin. We were going to a place called ECO PARQUE EL GAITERO ,in Santa Fe de Antioquia. About fifty miles from downtown Medellin. In my visits to Colombia this was going to be my first opportunity to get out of town, and see some countryside.
We took a taxi from the condo to the metro Poblado terminal, there we met the bus that would take us to the park. The bus was the large van type that was very similar to the bus we rode in at the Methodist mission in Costa Rica. Ten passengers plus the driver, who looked to be in his early twentys,pulled out and started our journey , it was sprinkling rain. We wound out of the city and at last we were driving through the mountainous countryside.Approxamately twenty miles out we came to a tunnel. I have been through many tunnels in the US but never one three and a half miles long. They could hold a 5k race in the tunnel and the runners would never see the light of day. We stopped at a small restaurant fuel stop in the town of Saint Jeronimo called the Bomba Texaco. We had some hot chocolate and some very tasty made on site rolls Called almojabana pandequesos
.Everyone loaded back up in the bus ,It was still sprinkling off and on, we resumed our journey. Roughly twenty more miles and we turned of the paved road onto a gravel narrow road that would take us around and down the mountain to our destination. Some beautiful sites but with the rain on the windows of the bus it did not make for good picture taking. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot the rain stopped and the sun came out ;beautiful. We headed for the restaurant and had a cup of coffee, then walked down to the lake and picked up a couple cane poles and some bait .We walked to a spot that looked good and tried our luck. These poles had a couple pegs that the line wound around and If you were an expert like Bernarda you could make that cane pole act very similar to a fly rod and cast with it.Bernarda said just one moment, and walked back to the pavilion coming back with a bucket for the fish we were going to catch---optimist. We fished for awhile watching others reel in fish after fish but for us it was looking like we were only to be fish feeders and not fish catchers. After awhile we picked up our gear and headed to one of the other lakes as this one had become extremely crowded. We walked back the growing lake where the smaller ones were protected and no fishing was allowed, A worker was manually removing algae that was floating on the lake as we walked by. Approaching the next lake we saw an area that looked like it would suit us fine .No other people close and a nice shade tree. We soon found out why no-one else has captured our spot as the journey traversing around to it, was very slippery and treacherous. We soon claimed our spot and began fishing .I had my bait stolen a couple of times and then I had one, It looked like what we call a brim. Soon Bernarda had a fish on her line and It was a small mouth bass. I caught another ,then Bernarda caught a really nice Talapia.We fished for a while longer but it had warmed up and I think the fish that we were fishing for all went to the bottom in the middle of the lake. We were visited by five long eared Brahma crossed cows that were curious to see what we were doing but as I talked to them and approached they scattered and wanted no part in us. We took our fish to the fishing pavilion and they gutted them and weighed them and we paid 9100 pesos for our fish.(about $4.00)
It was time for lunch so we headed to the restaurant and had some very good chicken and rice with salad and beans. With a citrus mango drink. After we ate Bernarda checked on a guided horseback tour of part of the park and we had a half hour to kill so we walked and watched people, always an entertaining thing to do.
It was time for our horse back tour so we walked on over to the stables. I was reminded of my cousin Allen who lived on my home farm (where I was raised).Allen had several Arabian horses all beautiful and some more spirited than others. The first time Allen talked me into riding ,he had a young gelding named Riaad An Arabic name not sure of the spelling. Allen Saddled him up and then told me that he would ride him across the dike and back to get him calmed down a bit then I could ride him. As soon as Allen cleared the saddle Riaad took off like he was chasing the wind. They galloped to the other side of the dike ,Allen turned him and they blistered back across the dike, and up the hill skidding to a stop as Allen jumped off and said ok Your turn. Allen and I grew up together and he knew that I was one half fool hardy and the other half crazy, So of course he knew that I would hop right on. With Riaads eyes doing a little dance going around in circles, I hoisted my leg almost halfway over the saddle when he took off at a full gallop. My legs never did get in the stirrups so I just wrapped them around his neck and held on. We soon were at the other end of the dike, Riaad whirled around and without missing hardly a beat we were once again at a full gallop across the dike, up the hill ,past Allen, as I was pulling back on the reins yelling whoa---whoa across the yard ,across the driveway and under the clothes; line. Needless to say we both did not fit .
With those thoughts in my head we walked to the stables. The wrangler brought a horse around for Bernarda and held the horse while Bernarda effortlessly sprang into the saddle. He then brought My horse around and I eyed it suspiciously. He held it I threw my leg over the saddle no problem, We eased out of the stables and started down the trail It was plain that my horse liked to be in the lead so I just gave it rein and let it pick its own way through the rocks and down the trail . I came to the conclusion that the horse knew where to go so I let it. As it turned out we had a wonderful ride ,lots of fun and many pictures. We got back to the stables and Bernarda got off her horse and jokingly said ouch
Ouch lol.
We walked from the stables to the main area and headed for the changing rooms to put on swimming suits. After a nice leisurely time in the pool it was time for us to get our things together and load up in the bus.
I did get some pictures coming back out as we climbed and rewound around the mountain but the road was so rough it was tough to get clear ones. When we got to the main road A Young guy came up to the bus, obviously knowing the driver, he asked for the driver to pick up two ladies in Saint Jeronimo and the driver said ok. We headed back and when we arrived in Saint Jeronimo. We pulled off the side of the road and called. He then received directions and we drove through the little town passing many people carrying small crosses. We drove through town stopped and asked directions once ---turned around --sat outside a house and honked the horn. We started back into town ,the phone rang and the driver turned the bus around again drove back to where we had turned around--and there were the ladies now waiting alongside the road. We picked them up the started back into town but only got to the edge when all traffic was stopped. The priest carrying a long staff, with all his parishioners and a small band were parading through the main street of town from the Church to ?. It began sprinkling rain as we crept along behind the precession , they turned and once again we were on our way. A short stop at the Bomba Texaco and the rain started falling heavily. It was dark now and the rain and darkness made visibility poor. We came around a corner and just in time the driver hit the brakes and we then moved slowly through mud and rocks from a mudslide. We traveled along where once the water was actually running across the road ,and a couple places where rocks the size of a large grapefruit were strewn across the highway. Once we arrived at the tunnel and went thru the weather improved and the rain slowed. We arrived in the outskirts of Medellin when a large bus the size of a Greyhound bus pulled into the road in front of us and forced us to stop. I had been extremely proud of our driver up to this point.
Our driver decided that he would make known to the driver of the large bus his displeasure so at the first opportunity he sped in front of the bus and then hit his brakes. Apparently the driver of the large bus not to be outdone then when we were beside started moving over until our driver had to hit his brakes to avoid hitting the bus or the inside curb. We were now on a four lane road ,Our driver sped around the bus --got in front and then at the next light waited until it turned green and just sat there. We then drove on the large bus turned off and the excitement was over. Like something out of an action movie--ha--only in Colombia. We were dropped of at metro terminal then took the metro to Poblado terminal, caught a cab to the apartment, Put the fish in the freezer, turned on the TV, and Chilled.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

An Imagination is a terrible thing to waste

When I was growing up on the farm, I had two sisters .Linda and Luan.Since Sisters did not always see the true greatness in their brothers Ideas most of the time, I was left to my own amusement quite a bit.
We had a large dairy barn, built by my Uncle Estile Baker and his brother who together owned Baker lumber company. In this barn I found adventure mystery and constant strife as I fought off Indian attacks in the hay mow, while hiding from roving bands of outlaws, As it seems they were always just on the other side of the wall, Looking for a hideout after their latest bank job.
The hay in the haymow, when strategically stacked and moved around formed tunnels that I hid in as I fought the Nazis on my hit and run missions with the Farm country underground.
Off to the west of the barn just past the open field of Brome grass lay a small wooded area, just crammed full of Rabbits squirrels, and Sioux who would chaise me as I ran down the cow paths to safety. If you went out of the woods to the double ponds, there was a culvert that ran clear under the dyke, under the gravel road to a ravine, this culvert was my escape tunnel, from the concentration camp as long as I kept quiet and made sure I was unseen. Luck have it there happened to be a mulberry tree right there along the escape route to provide sustenance for someone like myself who had been let to starve in the camp. The ravine led to other woods which if you followed the cattle trails down, and down and down you ended up at Jenkins creek, And you know there were river pirates, that came right off the Mississippi up bear creak to Jenkins creek, and that is where they hid the treasure. In addition, along the waters edge some of the rocks and gravel looked suspiciously like gold and silver, probably what was left of the Army Payroll taken by the James gang, and then given to the local people to help them through the hard times after the war?
Along the creek was a rock wall that in the winter would form huge Icesicles some 30 ft tall, My Dad would caution us to not get too close as if one broke off it would crush you. However ---If you looked real close you could see hidden passageways behind the ice that led to countless hidden rooms and hideouts for all the notorious gangsters that were coming down from Chicago.
We had one Farm actually between the river and the levee; we called the river farm, on the river farm an old cabin stood, undoubtedly one of the hideouts for Jesse and Frank James. When the corn was high in the summer, no one would ever find them. Bear creek made a horseshoe right there at the cabin, and along the banks was a cherry tree, knowing how The James family loved Cherry pie, it only made sense they would hide out here.
Fifty years pass, The Barn was sold to a company in Louisiana that dismantled it, moved it down close to the red river and re constructed it using it as an upscale antique store. The Cabin was burned down years ago, they never really found out who set it on fire, Speculation was vagrants building a campfire on the wood floor and just burning the whole place to the ground. But in the back of my mind---Someone was covering up, and did away with the evidence LOL

Tracy’s 120MPH Beauty Scar

My mother and father in law enjoyed coming out to our farm with friends and camping around our man made two and a half acre lake. Karen and her Mom had made supper, Fresh green beans cooked over the campfire in a big ole pot held over the fire by a tri pod This particular summer evening as we all lazed around after supper, The girls were all playing down at the campsite and Their uncle Rickie was hitting stone with an old axe handle into the lake. The Dogs Buffy and Sissy were both watching and trying to run and fetch the rocks only to stop at the edge of the lake as they were batted in. I was up at the house carrying something or other down the hill to the campsite, When I saw the turn of events unfold as though in slow motion.
I saw Uncle Rickie throw a rock into the air,---at the same time Tracy, my three year old ran up to him from behind. I yelled out but it was too late as the axe handle swung with terrific force into my little girls face. I ran down the hill and swooped Tracy into my arms, and ran with her up to the house. She was bleeding badly, and Karen applied pressure with some clean towels, It was determined that we would make an emergency run to the Hospital. My Dad had just bought a new Buick 225, and instead of trading his old 225 in, he had given it to us. I helped Karen who was holding Tracy in her lap, into the back seat ,and I fired the Buick up and backed around ,and headed down the driveway throwing gravel all the way out to the main road. The hospital was approximately Thirty miles away and we made it in fifteen minutes. I had always been notorious as a teenager for my fast cars and fast driving, what I can say is that night, all the fast driving experience paid off. When we pulled into the hospital they were waiting as my Mother in Law had called ahead, so they met us with stretchers just like on Mash. Of coarse, I would not leave Karen or my little girl’s side, and It tore my heart apart when the doctor was stitching her face up and she kept crying out for her Daddy.
Her Mom passed away when she was eight; it was a real journey as all three girls grew up to be fine young women. Therefore, even though it has been very difficult at times, I have always tried to be there for her and her sisters during the roughest times.
Today Tracy is the Mom of Three Boys who definitely had their share of cuts, bruises and broken bones. I am still involved somewhat in each of the three girls lives, Sometimes not as much as I would have hoped, and sometimes a little too close for comfort ,As life goes on. Ironically Tracy now works for an orthopedic surgeon, scheduling surgeries for her boss. I hope that so Dads do not have to make 120+ MPH runs to the emergency room.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Dentist Office

When I was fourteen years old I volunteered to ride along with my Mom one evening, to go to the High school and pick up my older sister from GAA volleyball practice. At first this really doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with the dentist, but hang on the story really takes a turn.
We picked up my sister and one of her friends who lived in Ursa, Illinois. It was drizzling rain, and the windshield wipers of our 1961 Olds eighty eight, seemed to be tapping out a beat, and the radio was on WLS, A.M. in Chicago.....we were not aware of the life changing events that were just about to take place.
On our way home we watched the oncoming headlights approaching in the drizzling rain. In an instantaneous moment we saw the approaching headlights suddenly go from straight ahead, to shooting straight up in the air, almost as if the vehicle was doing a wheelie. Then suddenly a car shot out from behind the seemingly “star seeking” headlights, and came directly into our path.
There was a tremendous crash….I heard my Mom cry out in pain….I was hurled forward into the dashboard and then the windshield.....silence.....then groans…..I struggled to adjust and tried to focus on where I was and what had just happened......we had been involved in a terrible four car accident!
I checked on Mom to see if she was alright.......her leg was badly sisters were okay. I struggled to crawl out the window so I could flag down an oncoming car. I then ran back behind our car where I saw a pickup truck......the one who's headlights had shot up into the air just before our crash. To my horror I saw that it was embedded in the front end of a Corvair that contained three girls from our high school. I was to later find out that only one of the girls would survive. One of the girls that died was my sister Linda's best friend. The other was a cheerleader at our school......she and I always flirted with each other.....their necks were broken.
I had flagged down the first car that came upon the scene and blurted out the obvious (that there had been an accident) was unknown to me at the time, but I was completely covered with blood, having a broken arm, and my four upper front teeth knocked completely out, and my bottom jaw was broken, and one tooth was sticking out through a hole in my chin. I then ran back from the Corvair and pickup, to our car so I could check on my Mom again.
One of our neighbors recognized our car and called my Dad at home.....he beat the ambulance there.......I was confided in later, when I asked my Dad how fast he was driving his Buick Electra (since he got there so quick).....he said that he wasn’t really sure how fast he was driving, that he hadn’t even looked......he only knew that he was driving the car as fast as it would go.....and that was pretty fast!!
We were taken to Blessing hospital by ambulance, where it was found My Mom had a crushed kneecap. My Older sister Linda had a broken nose, and I of course, was missing my upper four front teeth, and my lower four teeth were laying flat in my mouth, because of my broken jaw. They didn't realize until the next morning, when my arm started swelling and hurting so bad, that I also had a broken arm.
That morning will always stand out in my memory for many reasons......that was the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.....I can still remember the nurses crying when his assassination was announced on the radio. Soooooo, I'll always remember where I was on the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
That was just the beginning of many, many Dentist appointments for me. One dentist I was very thankful for was Dr. Quad, in Quincy, Ill. I was told, many years later, that Dr. Quad had done an outstanding job on my teeth. He made a mold and a partial plate for my missing upper teeth. Of course this all took a long time, because we had to wait for swelling to go down. It was a long time after Christmas before I got my partial plate.
I remember flirting with girls at basketball games and not having any front teeth.....of course I also remember I didn´t have much luck with the girls either! Later, when I played football at Heidelberg college, I would wear my mouthpiece upside down, revealing a large gap where my teeth used to be......I called it my air scoop. My teammates started calling me "Happy Tooth", because as I was always smiling.....toothless or not!
The dentist did root canals on my four bottom teeth, and he inserted silver pins. He told me at that time, that later in life, these four teeth would eventually turn black......and quite a few years ago, they did.
Through the years I’ve had a varity of dentist….even a couple who were a little strange….like the dentist in New Knoxville, Ohio. He would have me all stretched out in the chair, half upside down, and put his knee on my chest, then he would holler, “steady as she goes”! Some time after my appointment with him, I found out that he later underwent some highly supervised clinical counciling……I may have been one of his patients which pushed him over the edge…..I don’t know…..hummm?
Jackie had been doing her research and found Costa Rica doctors to be very educated, and many interned at Baylor...which for Jackie spells “Texas”, which then of course spells, “the best”! Well, anyway the credentials were there, and the price was about one third of what It would cost in Florida…..Hey, Costa Rica, here we come!
So here I am in Escazu, Costa Rica….at the dentist office…. in the waiting room….waiting…….just waiting for Jackie to get her two root canals. I’ve already had five extractions and one root canal, and Im still smiling ---go figure. I’ll leave Costa Rica with my upper and lower teeth replaced permanently---FINANLLY---AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cowboy Real Estate The Bailout and the Peach Tree

Back in 1998 -2004 My wife and I owned a Dairy farm in Missouri
Our milk house was a three on a side /side open gate type parlor, and I milked the cows on one side and my wife the other , That is when she wasn’t line dancing to the country music we always had playing on the radio. We had developed quite a system to save energy, electrical and our own, as any fresh cows (that is a cow who had as recently as the last three days had given birth to a baby calf)that still had colostrium(milk that contains natural antibodys,for the baby calf) would be milked last after all the others. In doing it this way we could just pull the pipe that the milk ran through in to the milk tank from the milkers, out of the tank and into a bucket that we would use then as calves milk. Then when finished we would flush the lines, and wash them as usual at the end of milking.
I always kept the new mommas in a corner stall of the big barn which was about fifteen yards from the milkhouse,but on the opposite end from the holding area.
Dairy cows like to be milked. For one it takes the pressure away from a swollen udder and makes them feel good, and as an added bonus we would give them grain in the milk house as they were being milked so that always insured they would be lined up at the door ready and anxious to come in.
This particular night we had finished milking and all that was left was Katie. She was a cow that had just given birth to a beautiful registered Jersey heifer calf two days ago. The rule is you keep the new milk separate from your regular milk for the first three days so we had Katie and her calf in the main barn and I went out to bring her around and down the fenced alley into the holding pen and then into the milk house.
This particular night It was pitch black out side, and as I opened the gate Katie instead of going straight and down the alley like she had the last five milkings ,turned left, through an opening between the gate and the alleyway and headed out into an open field.
Keeping in mind the fact that I played college football, and also the fact that I was in excellent shape from carrying buckets of grain into the milk house every morning and night for the last couple years. I took off after Katie to head her off and had two steps at a full sprint when I ran flat out into a 20”around Peach tree. On that pitch black night I saw stars. Well Katie after seeing she had gone the wrong way just turned around by herself and headed down the alley into the holding pen, and through the back door into a stall and when I stumbled into the milk house she was munching ground corn and my wife was milking her and looked at me standing there with blood running down my face, and said “What in the world happened to you?”
With this bailout I’m wondering if maybe running out into the darkness, might not be the prudent thing to do, that it could be the market will see it’s going the wrong way and turn around by itself. Even though it seems like the thing that needs to be done at the moment, I certainly wouldn’t advise running without knowing for sure what’s in front of you. It could be a Peach tree.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cowboy Real Estate the Squeeze Chute

When working cattle one of my jobs was usually running the squeeze chute. You pen the cattle first then usually(If the pens were built right, )You worked the cattle counter clock wise around in to smaller and smaller pens until you are at an alley way leading to bright sunlight for the cow ---but really they have to get through the squeeze chute first. The reason they see all this light like at the end of a tunnel is that you have the squeeze chute gate open for them to look through. Once they have their horns through you have to slam the gate shut quick or they will bust right on through. You can’t be day dreaming if you are running the chute. If a cow would bust through the chute it doesn’t get worked --as to say we wouldn’t be able to give it the preventative medicines and fly control we give them for their own good and health. So actually even though the cow doesn’t understand --Getting caught up in the chute is a good thing for the cow.
I was watching the commercial expired list right before the forth of July and saw a ten thousand sq. ft. warehouse listed for 1.1mil had expired. A lady in my office had told me that she had a buyer for exactly that so I sent the owners of record a letter.
The July fourth weekend came around and I went up to Rainbow River and floated the river with my kids and just kicked back. Bright and early on Monday morning I drove over to the warehouse to walk around it and see where in the world it sat. That is to say where it sat in relation to the world outside .Just something I do on land Was Taught that years ago .
I saw a sign on the front door saying where the prior occupants had moved and low and behold it was the same name as the owning company, so I headed on over to their new location to see what I could find out.
I walked into the showroom counter sales area and stood patiently in line and when the person behind the counter asked me if he could help me, I responded that yes I was going to be easy ,Who do I need to talk to concerning your old warehouse, I am in Commercial Real Estate. He told me the asst manager would be the one who could help me, and walked me over to an office door. The asst manager was on the phone so I stood outside the door and waited for him to hang up. I introduced myself and told him why I was there and asked him for a contact name and phone number at the main office of the decision maker. He gladly obliged and commented that It was over priced and that the owner of the building they were in presently had made an offer considerably less than the listing price. I thanked him gave him my card and asked him to pass it along to anyone he cared about that might need some real Estate help, and headed home.
When I got home I called the number and got a recording, so I left my number and said I would be calling again before the day was through. I called again later in the afternoon and got a lady who was not sure if the property had been relisted but promised to find out and call me back.
The next morning I called and left a message .Later in the morning a gentleman from that company called me and said “I know we have spoken before and I thought you were sending a listing proposal to me” I not thinking said Oh no I don’t believe we have spoken before but I would be glad to send you a listing proposal. He then told me that they were listing it with one of my competitors(MY Guess the company that apparently was day dreaming). I thanked him and then said By the way what price are you listing it at? He told me and it was 325thousand less than what it was listed at before I thanked him and hung up.Immediately redialing and getting the receptionist “What is your fax number?” I wrote up a listing agreement, at the price it was lowered to and faxed it off. I guess you could say I slammed shut the chute.-------I am showing it Monday morning at 10:00.---