Thoughts on Father’s Day

i keep claiming i don’t like proclaimed and government mandated “holidays” honoring a person, a group, or an event. Then i turn around and write about that person, group, or event on the day we are directed they be honored.

So i am singing a different tune again. Tomorrow is Father’s Day. 

i was going to post photos and write glowingly of some wonderful fathers i have known.

Uncle Snooks Hall was not a father, but he was our second father. i think just about every child that knew him considered him a second father.

Jason Gander is one of the best fathers i have ever known. i am glad because he is the father of my grandson Sam.

Of course, one of the best fathers i know was Ray Boggs, my father-in-law.

There are many more, enough to not give me space to mention them all here.

In case you haven’t noticed, my father was…well, he was my father. i think his three children spending three weeks together in Scotland the last two weeks would have been enough of a Father’s Day present for him.

At the turn of this century in 2000, i wrote a piece about him for his 86th birthday that was published in a Lebanon, Tennessee newspaper The Wilson Post. i wanted to honor him and for him to know how i felt about him before he left us. i was not expecting him to live in good health until he was within 42 days of reaching 99. He had a way of surprising me. i am glad he did. But here is that article, with some edits, i wrote:

An Incredible Man

There is an incredible man in Lebanon.

He was born September 28, 1914. The first record of his family in America dates to 1677. His great, great, great grandfather came over the Cumberland Gap with Daniel Boone and was Daniel’s brother-in-law, marrying the Bryant sisters (this is from family oral history and not documented). His great, great grandfather moved to Statesville, Tennessee (about 20 miles from Lebanon) in the early 1800’s.

He had three brothers and three sisters. He is the only one left.

He has lived through two world wars, fighting as a Seabee in the Southern Philippines, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands in the last one. He has lived through the depression, the cold war, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War.

He had to quit his senior year at Lebanon High School to go to work when he father contracted tuberculosis. He started as a mechanic, shared a business with his brother-in-law in the 1950’s, and then became a partner in a combination of an automobile dealership and a gas and oil distributorship. He retired in 1979.

He and his wife have been married 62 years (he passed away shortly after their 75th anniversary). Their romance continues. the first home they owned was a one-room house adjacent to his wife’s family farm on Hunter’s Point Pike. They bought their next home on Castle Heights Avenue in 1941 with the help of a $500 loan from a friend. They have lived there ever since (they moved to Deer Park, a whopping three blocks down the street in 2004).

He and his wife put three children through college. They have five grandchildren (when he passed away, they also had three great grandchildren). They have visited every state in the union except Alaska where they were headed in 1984 when his wife’s illness forced them to turn around in British Columbia. Nearly all of their travels have been by RV’s, most in a 28-foot fifth wheel. When he was 72 and his wife 69, they made their first cross-country trip to San Diego where they had spent winters since 1986 with their eldest son and his family. They have made several trips up and down the east coast since then. The fifth wheel is still ready to go in their backyard.

They live comfortably in their retirement. Most people guess his age as the early 70’s. Last month, he painted their master bedroom and sanded and painted the roof of their two-car carport. When he can’t find anyone to go fishing with him, he hooks up the boat trailer and goes by himself. Now he usually throws his catch back. When he used to bring the catch home, he would clean the fish and give them away. He doesn’t like to eat fish, just catch them.

For years, he had the reputation as the best mechanic in Wilson County. He can still fix anything except computers and new cars because he has shunned learning the electronic advances.

All of this isn’t why this man is incredible.

He is incredible because he is such a good man.

He is a willow. He bends with the winds of change and changes of “progress.” Yet he never breaks. His principles remain solid as a rock. He is extremely intelligent but humble.

He seems to always be around when someone needs help. Everyone considers him a good friend, and he reciprocates.

He is not rich financially, but he is one of the richest men around.

My generation’s fathers were family men. They lived through hard times and hard work without a whimper. They believed in giving a day’s work for a day’s pay. They kept their sense of humor. Their sons wish they could emulate them.

Jimmy Jewell, this remarkable man, remains my best friend. i am his older son. i have wanted to be like him since my first recordable thoughts came into my head over fifty years ago. One close friend said of him, “I have never had a better, more caring, more fun-loving, thoughtful friend.” It seems to be a common theme among the people who know him. That’s whom i want to be like.

My father and i have enough talks for him to know how i feel, but i’ve seen too many people wait until someone is gone before singing their praises publicly. i figure he’s got a good chance to outlive us all, but i wanted to acknowledge how much he means to me and how remarkable a man i think he is.

Happy 86th Birthday, Dad.

Unfortunately for us, he didn’t outlive us all. He stuck around for a dozen more years and continued to make everyone’s life better. He and Estelle’s last trip to my home was a year later when he was 87. i miss him every day.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

“Murphy’s Law” & Update from a Zombie

i have always posited it was easier to deal with jet lag heading east than it was headed west. This trip may not have proved it, but it certainly has added weight to my position. We are home. Sort of.  Sarah got us home from the airport Friday night around seven. After unpacking and beginning the reorganization after a two-week absence while eating the perfect home meal, our first in two weeks, Sarah had prepared, Maureen hit the sack around 8:00 p.m. i put some more things in order before crashing at 10:00 p.m. It was a 23-hour travel day for me.

So i slept a bit over five hours and drove to North Island for golf. i played with Rod Stark, Marty Linville, Jeff Middlebrook, Mark Shults, Bob Schoultz, and Bob’s friend Ken (sorry, Ken, i just realized i can’t recall your last name). It was the Army’s birthday, and the pro shop played the “U.S. Field Artillery March” over the speaker system as we teed off for that Army artillery legend Marty Linville.

i got home around noon, crashed for just short of four hours, arose, ate my second wonderful home cooked meal, Maureen’s steak, potatoes, and salad, watched a ball game until i fell asleep in my chair, and then slept for seven hours. i remain a zombie, hoping my condition will improve to human after a short nap.

But to honor Marty and the Army once more, here is today’s Murphy’s Law:”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

The Army Axiom: Any order that can be misunderstood has been misunderstood.
Goofy guy’s alteration to The Army Axiom: That is, of course, unless the order was issued by Major Linville by whispering (Several of us will understand). 

i think i’ll take that nap.

In Reverence

i began this post on Tuesday, June 9, in our hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was going to be a short one about Dr. Bill Holland. But i got started and the tale expanded itself. We are now some ridiculous 40,000 feet up in the air, headed west south west, Chicago, San Diego, a twenty-one plus day of travel. i have other posts in my head about this trip, but it will have to wait a day or two. After all, i need to get my time bearings right and of course, i’m playing golf tomorrow. But i wanted to finish this post now.

While up in the air, i had planned on cutting it severely. Then, i wanted my grandson Sam to have it as part of my story of me for him. i will fill in the blanks and correct a number of errors i know are in there after i get home.

It is now Saturday. We have returned from our trip, a 23-hour travel day. So i played my usual FMG round this morning with a tee time of 7:03. At 12:45, after the round, a beer or two, a great lunch from Sarah and Maureen, i turned into a zombie. But i’m breathing. i think zombies breath. Anyway, i will finish this post momentarily and return to real life shortly. i’m guessing tomorrow.

This post is without photos. We walked back from supper tonight on our usual route when i felt him. Perhaps it was only me and my memories calling up the vision.

Our hotel borders the University of Edinburgh campus. We have walked through the campus almost every time we leave our hotel, a modern Marriott Residence Inn in the middle of buildings erected hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

Last night, we walked back from The Devil’s Advocate restaurant in Old Town, dining on a loft in the cavernous setting up and down stone steps in a close (alley) near the city’s castle. On the way back, we crossed Lauriston Place from Forrest Road and were amidst the university and its students on a walking path to our hotel and on the way to the student’s fix at Starbucks (yep, right here in the middle of antiquity).

i don’t believe a lot of things. i’ve recognized believing can turn into imbalance and cloud reason. And i sure as hell don’t know anywhere near as much as most people i know claim they know. It seems like knowing can put on blinders on us just like believing…or perhaps they are the same.

But last night, even though i may have just conjured it up in my mind, i felt Bill Holland.

In June 1965, i reluctantly left my cub sports reporter job under Fred Russell at the Nashville Banner. i wished to stay there but the kid whose place i took through two school semesters was out for the summer and reclaimed his job. There were no other openings. i was not excited about what was happening next.

Navy and draft obligations were not a concern. The Nashville reserve center had put me in the “active status” pool, which supposedly would discharge me from my military requirement after a year — that is another story of how my crazy life took unexpected turns.

There was regret. Because of perceived pressure from NROTC and my mother and my rather misplaced idea of how smart i was, i was granted a late change in my major from a BA in English to a BS in Civil Engineering. It did not work out for many reasons. In the summer of  ’64, i took philosophy, drama, modern British and American fiction also known as “Novels,” and engineering statics. This was to get my grade point up to a “C” so i could immediately transfer to MTSU, but the statics wiped me out again, and i missed by a hair. So hence, i was at the Banner. But in “novels,” i was blown away. Dr. Sullivan was incredible and in six weeks, we read Robert Penn Warren’s The Cave, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, William Faulkner’s The Hamlet, James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and several more i cannot recall sitting in our hotel in Edinburgh.

i was in a new world. i had read a great deal from the time i could walk to the library on West Main in Lebanon growing up, and at Castle Heights, the depth of my fiction reading became pretty deep. But Sullivan took me to a new world.

So going to Middle Tennessee, i was determined to get a BA in English but concerned about the quality of my degree. After all, Dr. Sullivan was at Vanderbilt, and many of my literary heroes, Robert Penn Warren,  Allen Tate, and John Crowe Ransom had walked those halls. i mistakenly went to the Dean of English office. Dr. Peck, with his full head of white hair, was at the end of his closet sized office stuffed from floor to ceiling with books upon books, dressed in a white dress shirt, khaki work pants, and brogans, which were propped up on his desk. His table radio was broadcasting the play-by-play of a St. Louis Cardinal baseball game.

He motioned for me to sit down, removed his feet from the desk, turned off the radio, and took my folder. When i told him my reason for being there, he informed me i had come to the wrong place, that those seeking Bachelor of Art degrees went to see the dean of the liberal arts college.

“But as long as you are here, let’s take a look,” he said, then after glancing at my Vanderbilt record, he breathed a sigh and added, “Man, this is some record.” i knew he did not mean that statement to be positive.

We talked for a while and then Dr. Peck warned me, “You know, son, Middle Tennessee is different from Vanderbilt.”

“Yes, sir. i know”

He admonished, “I mean Middle Tennessee is parochial. Vanderbilt is not. It may take some effort to get used to the difference.”

i nodded and left. i really didn’t know exactly what he meant, but my guess was pretty close. i thought i would like to take a class of his.

That summer, i had a young professor teaching English 101 in a large class of about fifty, composed of students retaking the class they had flunked in the regular semesters, high school kids trying to get a jump on college courses, and me. i liked the cut of the Professor Reza Ordoubadian’s enthusiasm. We read a book or two, then he charged us with reading Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. When the assignment was supposed to be completed, Professor Ordoubadian began a Q&A session. Many students were quiet, others were jumping at the chance to show they had actually read the assignment. i remained quiet.

As the class wound down to conclusion, the professor asked who the characters John Singer and Spiros Antonapoulos symbolically. The room was totally quiet. It hit me. i raised my hand, the professor nodded at me.

“Singer is Jesus Christ and Antoapoulos is God.”

Ordoubadian was astounded. It was going to be his parting shot, and he did not expect anyone to answer, much less answer correctly. i knew literature was for me.

Oh, there were some classes that weren’t first class. Professor S. Carroll Evins, a thin, older, bald man, taught Southern Literature. Instead of reading Faulkner or Warren, we read Stark Young’s So Red the Rose, an antebellum novel that was primarily worthy in the heated arguments among the agrarian movement and other literary figures of the late 1930’s. Evins loved it. i thought it a simple argument and the story overly romanticizing the South.

But there was one positive in the Southern Literature class. i sat behind and to the right of a beautiful coed. i was very attracted and contemplated introducing myself. i followed her to the student union and noticed in the line to get a coke she was wearing an engagement ring. That was the impetus for writing one of my favorite poems, “a furtive glance at what might have been.”

Then there was Dr. Emily Calcott, another old one, white-haired, and dour. She spent almost our entire time in the warm summer classroom reading Percy Bysshe Shelly’s Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem written in 1813. i was not yet enchanted with the romantic poets, and the Dr. Calcott’s droll sing song recitation of the nine cantos with seventeen notes didn’t lull me to sleep, but i did spend most of that hour for five days a week mostly yawning.

Professor Bill Kelton, who did a good job of looking cool, gave us a solid footing in American Literature. Before that class began, i had learned the professor often had a final consisting of a one-on-one in his apartment. i suspected he did so to chase good looking coeds. Our final was a written exam in the classroom, and i never confirmed my suspicions.

i had become a junior and was concentrating on courses in literature. In the fall semester of 1966, i took “Shakespeare” from Dr. Peck. My respect for Dr. Peck had increased even more when i discovered he had received his PhD. from Vanderbilt and was in the same classes with Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, Alan Tate,  and the aforementioned Stark Young. Rather than follow their lead, he chose to come to Middle Tennessee and a more “parochial” setting and teach literature.

He infused me with Shakespeare and provided me an opportunity to try out my wings when he assigned me to write a critique of a Shakespeare contemporary. John Webster’s “The Duchess of Malfi,” is a play published in 1613. i wrote the critique comparing the play to a cowboy movie. When Dr. Peck handed the papers back after grading, mine had a red “A+” at the top with the note, “See me after class.”

When class was dismissed, i strolled or strutted to the professor’s desk, proud of my “A+” and wondering what compliment the esteemed Dr. Peck would bestow on me.

Seeing me standing there, he took the paper, studied the front for a moment, and then said, “That’s a very different take on this. You did an excellent job. But if you had turned this in for most of the English professors at this school, you would most likely be hung from the highest oak tree on the mall outside this window.”

i didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but my esteem for Dr. Peck took another giant leap.

It was the same semester i signed up for the Romantic Literature course taught by Dr. Bill Holland. i was not eager. Dr. Holland changed all that, and in the course of two regular semesters and one summer one, he became my friend.

When the two semester courses began, i had a vague idea i liked Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” but only remembered that damn albatross. i became enchanted by the Romantics. Dr. Holland made them live for me. i read their poems and their history with relish. Dr. Holland went off the charts in stories and discussions of history and the present by relating them to these poets. William Wordsworth became one of my heroes, right along with Faulkner, Warren, and Roy Rogers.

i began to go to his office after classes. We talked about everything one could imagine. i found out he was from Mississippi, had been in the Army Corps of Engineers before he went back to school. i found out he got his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh. Yes, that university i walked through on my way back to my hotel. i learned his doctorate traced the themes and usage in the writings of Chaucer through Spenser to Shakespeare and their contemporaries. i was told by another professor Dr. Holland had received a “first class” degree in literature from Edinburgh, one of only ten in its history (i have yet to verify this, but knowing him, i can believe it even now).

We talked of Plato, of Atlantis, of teaching the English language with mathematics and vice versa. We talked of the symbolism in Bob Lind’s top hit “Butterfly of Love,” and it seemed like weeks we discussed Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe.” Amazingly, i introduced Dr. Holland to Robert Penn Warren and we delved into similarities between him and Wordsworth.

This led to my paper in his “Literature and Philosophy” course. i compared the discussion of “time” in Warren’s “The Ballad of Billie Potts” and Wordsworth’s “The Brothers.” To this day, i believe it is the best complete literary piece i have ever composed.

By the summer of 1967 while writing that paper with graduation just weeks away, i was skipping other classes to spend time with Dr. Holland. We even shot pool at a local pool hall on the morning i received my degree. i got a “B” in the course as the final exam required me to state my philosophy of life and prove its viability by referring to works of the writers and philosophers we studied. The writers’ and philosopher’s works didn’t deter me. However, i didn’t have a clue as to what my philosophy of life might be — and sometimes today, i still am not sure.

Had i a lick of common sense in my head (my mother pointed out this flaw several times from my youth until i left for the Navy), i would have applied to pursue a doctorate in literature under the guidance of Dr. Holland. i didn’t even consider it then. Instead, i went to Navy OCS and began this rather remarkably varied roll through life, nothing heroic or famous, just interesting.

While on liberty in Athens in 1972, i found a book about Atlantis not being in the Atlantic but in the Aegean Sea, the very thesis Dr. Holland proposed in class in 1966 and is now the most accepted theory. Dr. Holland proposed Plato had misplaced a decimal to Pythagorus’ description of Atlantis’ size. i sent the book to Dr. Holland but never heard if he had received it or not.

About eight years ago, i decided to reconnect with Dr. Holland. The student manning the phones at the alumni center must have had a bad day. He was abrupt and told me there was no Dr. Holland at MTSU and there was no way in which i could gain contact with him through the university. i was downhearted, especially when my other searches came up with blanks.

Last year, i tried again. A nice lady answered the phone. She was enthusiastic with her praise of Dr. Holland, informed me he had retired and moved to Memphis. When i asked for his contact information, she became sad and told me Dr. Holland had passed two years before.

Tonight, our walk took me through the campus of the University of Edinburgh. i had looked at a campus map to see if i could find the English department offices. i didn’t pursue it further. Brother, sister, and spouses had been involved, along with me in lots of wonderful pursuits since then. Tomorrow we leave.

But tonight as we passed those old majestic buildings, i felt him. i imagined Bill Holland in the stacks of the library searching through dusty old tomes, playing detective in the words. i saw him studying by a desk light in a small flat in one of those ancient stone buildings with the rain spattering on the window. i could feel him.

Thank you, Dr. Holland, for opening up a whole new world for me.

Sleep well.

They Knew We Were on a Hike

We are winding down. Two more nights and one more (rainy, although they haven’t gotten that prediction right in ten days) day, and a twenty-plus hour trip back to the Southwest corner. Over.

We shall make the most out of the rest of it i’m sure. i will not write or post too many more photos until we are in the air Thursday, but this one was at the end of our hike Saturday around, up, and down near Columba. The last quarter mile or so was on the side of the road, the narrow, two-lane road.

So they didn’t want us to get hit:

A Rode Well Traveled

We are not through yet.

It is Monday night, Inverness time. We have two more full days before we head west, well west. i will never be able to capture and relay my feelings about these two weeks. i will try, but there is just too much there to capture.

Todd, Carla, and Maureen were perfect to join us. After all, they are our husband and wives. i remarked earlier to Maureen how i marvel how the relationships between each couple seems perfect, seems to fit.

Today, Carla took a photo (Todd did as well) in Nairn, in a grassy park. She sent it tonight as we were preparing for bed.

i saw it and responded to the email, “i think i’m going to cry.” i did. After all, the other two here are my brother and sister. i love them and consider myself lucky to be their brother and therefore kin to Todd and Carla, and course, Maureen, who is my better half.

This trip has been far more than i expected. It ain’t over yet, but it has been a rode well traveled.

More to come.


Another short post for my life is filled with family, peace, and awe right now.

This morning we took a walk. Actually this really was a hike with the hilly paths we took. Over only three kilometers, just a couple of steps over two miles, it can be a challenge for the uninitiated hiker with the path ascending from the sea to the path’s peak and back to the sea.

The ancestral home of Clan MacNeacail, about 130 acres was reacquired by The Nicolsons (part of that clan) of Scorrybreac who forged and maintain the trail.

History is deep here, and i kept finding myself thinking of the ancestors. The hike provides a glimpse of life on this island world of Scots, a panoramic view from the life of the sea, the life of the farms, and the life of the city.

At the outset, there is a viewpoint on a grassy knoll. An older gentleman sat on a stone wall adjacent to the memorial for the Clan MacNeacail where their chief’s home used to stand. The man’s beagle clasped a green ball in his mouth, wagging his tail furiously, and continuously winding under the man’s leg, begging for a game of fetch. The gentleman refused, sitting stoically until he rose and proceeded on his walk with the beagle bounding  round him and tail still wagging.

The world seemed right, balanced.

As we started the ascent, i thought of my friend Cy Fraser and his brother Walt, thinking it would be nice to walk their ancestral lands in this northern land with them one day.

i find i can stop amidst my brother, sister, and our spouses talking, laughing, and sharing, take a breathe remaining quiet, and achieve a feeling of fulfillment, almost meditative in this land.

Some views on the walk:

The Jewell Clan at the MacNeacails clan memorial


The Bay of Portree
Maureen walking to the light.
Wild yellow irises with many more ready to bloom.
Majestic bluffs.
Farmland with cows below the bluff.
Farmland away from the sea.

There are many more, but not for here today. Time is getting on toward supper with a brisk walk to town proceeding.

Can you tell i’m having a wonderful time?

Something…Well, Just Beyond My Imagination Capabilities

It was in Edinburgh (photos and post or posts to follow). We had stopped to buy something one of us forgot to pack. It was on the first floor, second floor to us Americans, of Harvey Nichols, a high end store.

While waiting, i wandered through the men’s department and there i stumbled upon this display:

The item on the top shelf right is a pair of gym shorts. The item on the top shelf left is a gym tee shirt. The item on the lower shelf right is a pair of sweatpants. The item on the lower shelf left is a hoodie. Those are two  ball caps with different style logos on the back of the top shelf. They are all Givenchy merchandise.

Their price?

Shorts: £350 = $444.15
Tee shirt: £350 = $444.15
Sweat pants: £650 = $824.99
Hoodie: £650 = $824.99
Cap (assuming you would only buy one), each: £325 = $412.44

Soooo, the ensemble to work out and sweat would run you £2325 = $2,970.72.

I’m guessing your shoes would run about $1,000 and socks would be around $200.

And i’m thinking who would pay that for something to wear while working out? i wear my oldest sweat stained gym shorts and torn tee shirt.

So i guess i will have to buy these as a present for my friend Henry Harding. i’m sure he would appreciate them.

Thoughts on the Linn of Tummel

This should be a poem. Today, it is a short post.

i’ve been gathering my photos in an organized fashion, a new thing for me. i will make several posts, i’m sure when i am in the mood. For the last five days, i have not been in the mood for several reasons.

Today, we took a hike in the Linn of  Tummel. Linn in Scotland means pool at the bottom of a waterfall. The park or hiking area around where the Tummel River falls into its confluence with the Gerry River is also called the “Linn.”

It was in the midst of on again, off again light rain. i wouldn’t have it any other way. Maureen took the photos. i left my picture-taking phone in the car. Glad i did for i had several thoughts about the hike i would not have had had i been focusing on taking photos.

The first thought i had was i wish Peter and Sandra Thomas were joining us. Peter, one of the best folks i know, married this beautiful Scottish lass a number of years ago. Even though we see them only occasionally, we consider them some of our best friends. This place, even if it hadn’t been in Scotland would have given me thoughts of Peter.

It is a quiet walk. With the exception of three couples coming upon on us from the opposite direction and the half-dozen guides and tourists we went by as they were doing an inner tube ride…er, fall down a short section of small waterfalls, we were alone.

i thought of Camp Ocoee about forty miles east of Cleveland, Tennessee where i went around eleven years old and canoed the Ocoee River through rapids and camped in the rain.

i thought of my dog Cass, the lab with unbounded joy of woods and water and how much i would have loved to have him by my side.

i thought of how my parents would be smiling to see their three children and their spouses walking through the green, green together.

i thought of the five people with me,  the two closest to me in so many ways, sister Martha and brother Joe, and their spouses Todd and Carla, who are just about perfect for matches. i thought about how this trip has exceeded my expectations of sharing our time together.

i thought of many things i would like to convey to my friends. i’m sure i will forget most of those thoughts before i put them here.

i didn’t think about many things.  Those were the negative thoughts. They did not enter my mind.

In fact, i thought how all of you should just once hike the Linn of Tummel. i believe you would find peace as i did.

“Murphy’s Law” with a Twist

The next daily entry from “Murphy’s Law” pasted on my 1981 letter-size calendar booklet gave me pause. i didn’t like it. i had thought of the “goofy guy’s” comment and planned for the post to look like this:

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Law of the Individual: Nobody really cares or understands what anyone else is doing.
Goofy guy’s caveat of  the Law of the Individual: Au Contraire.

Then i read two posts on Facebook. One was from Judy Lewis Gray quoting E.B. White. The test of the letter read:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Following that, i heard the “news” about the Navy trying to hide references to the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) being hidden during President Trump’s visit to the U.S. Yokosuka (Japan) Naval Base. My shipmate from our first ship, Andrew Nemethy posted Eliot A. Cohen’s Atlantic article. It is a long article and i won’t post it here, but the link here:

Thank you, Andrew. i agree with your thoughts in your post. If it weren’t for Judy’s post of White’s 1973 letter, i would be very depressed. Thanks, Judy.

My reaction to Cohen’s diatribe against Trump and the Navy…and the news was typical of my being a pocket of resistance.

i immediately bristled at the idea. My concern from my perception of my Navy losing its focus of its mission to a place where folks can position themselves for higher and higher office, and the perceived need to be nice to sailors, politically correct, and forego responsibility and accountability is deep within my blue water soul. i have to double back and check many stories to guard against using a sound bite, a news story, or a talking head tinged with the need to get attention, readers, or viewers, or to bolster one’s political stance.

Then there is Dr. Cohen. The man is over the top on this one. From his bio, he has done a lot of good things. But he has never been an officer or sailor. Serve at least four years on a ship before you start claiming defeat of our country, Dr. Cohen. You began with some thoughts for consideration, but then, WHAM, you went to hyper space.

As usual, there are conflicting reports as to whether there was actually an attempt to hide McCain’s name during the visit. The claims, as usual, have expanded, and gotten over to the preposterous side of news reporting. i wonder if Cohen checked out the validity.

That’s not to say, i don’t believe it happened to some degree, and even if it was just conversations between some white house officials and the Navy, that is not proof.

Two opposite thoughts:

  1. When i was on an amphibious squadron staff, our five ships were in Subic Bay for maintenance and liberty. George H.W. Bush, as vice-president came to visit. Our leaders (and i am being polite here in not naming names) who eschewed improper topside maintenance, did a flip flop and ordered all of the ships to paint over rust and unprepared exterior surfaces to appear immaculate. This old first lieutenant futilely protested against such hypocrisy. i felt the vice-president and a Navy Hero in WWII, would understand. i was ignored. We “radioed” (crappy paint job without proper preparation) the hell out of five capital ships of the U.S. Navy for the VP to spend about two hours of his visit, mostly inside the ships.
  2. i spent about two years total in Navy shipyards on ships undergoing maintenance. It was not uncommon to use tarps and staging to perform maintenance and often a ship’s name on the fantail was covered by the tarp or the staging. In today’s environmentally conscious environment, covering a ship with the new-fangled version of a tarp to prevent debris from falling into the water is rampant.

So i don’t know what happened, and i am not about to claim the Navy is going to hell just to express my dislike of Trump.

If you read any of my stuff, you should know i don’t like to take political positions. i started to do that here but restrained myself.

Yet when i read those two posts this morning, i became sad we have reached this place where rocks over the wall, spin out of control, no consideration of humanity (other than what benefits our position), and that accountability and responsibility stuff disappearing from our discourse and our personal behavior. i also fervently hope E.B. White was right then and his words hold true for now. Then i think what got us here. Trump, his supporters, and his opposition have certainly been major factors. Lack of compromise, vilification of those who disagree, unwillingness to compromise have led us to this dark place.

If i were a bit younger, i might step up, grab the guidon, and lead the charge to more understanding, more cooperation, ta da ta da ta da. But it’s the younger generation’s world now. Perhaps i write this to vent. i don’t think so. No, i hope i don’t. When i write things like this, it is with E.B. White’s hope we still can make our country and our world better and maybe, just maybe, someone will read this, think (perhaps not in the way i expected, and that’s okay), and help us move toward better and get a little more light in here.

Liberty Call

Well, i wasn’t expecting liberty to come upon me this fast.

Saturday, i will be leaving for 13 days of liberty in Scotland. There are six of us going to Edinburgh, Pitchlory, Isle of Skye, and Inverness. Sounds nice. i’m sure i will enjoy it.

i especially am looking forward to visiting the University of Edinburgh. The professor who influenced me most through my five-plus years at Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee was Dr. Bill Holland. When i came to my senses and changed my major from civil engineering at Vanderbilt to Literature at Middle Tennessee, Bill Holland not only blew me away with the Romantics, he became a close friend. Bill’s dissertation traced the themes of Chaucer through the British greats such as Shakespeare and Spenser to the Romantics. i was told (although i have been unable to verify it) he received a “first class” doctorate, one of ten recipients of such an honor, especially since the university was founded in 1582.

Regardless, Bill Holland was an impressive professor, and my respect for him as a professor and a friend makes a visit to the Scottish university a joy anticipated for me.

The locales planned for out visit are interesting. i know i will find them wonderful. But for me, having two weeks with my brother, sister, their spouses, and Maureen is the best part. It will be the first time and likely the only time just the six of us will be together without other family. This is special for me.

Initially, i was planning to take notes, some source material, etc. and continuing to post installments of Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings.

But i am old and don’t multi-task as well as i used to do. Come to think of it, when i went on liberty while deployed, i never, ever took any work with me. So there will be no installments of the book while i am on liberty. Nor is it likely i will post much of anything, except some thoughts about the trip until i return in mid-June.

i just wanted you to know.