My World

My world is a little off its bearings right now. i don’t feel it is appropriate to expand on that first statement, at least not now. But as my orbit was being knocked off its course a bit in the last several days, for a couple of months actually, i wrote this:

Hmm…

i am not who i was then;
i am not who i am now;
I am not who i am
whenever I think about
who i might be when.
whoa.
i do not understand how
it all got so turned around, upside down
then, now, beyond
because
i am beyond concern
about who i was,
who i might have been,
who i am,
who i will or won’t be,
and
the same i could say
about any of you:
you see,
i only know
i care,
and
if all is to be right with the world,
you also care.

Debutees

i had difficulty making out my aunt’s cursive written word on the back of the photo.

It was a single photo amidst many in the envelope my cousin, Nancy Orr Winkler Schwarze, had sent me a couple of years ago. As the pile collected on my desk, this one intrigued me.

i had heard about my aunt Evelyn Prichard at Cumberland. She was a star student, a basketball player, a campus leader, and attractive enough to win the affection of a wonderful man, James “Pipey” Orr whom she married after they graduated. She also cooked fried chicken for her grandfather’s breakfast, walked two miles to Cumberland from his home on Hunter’s Point Pike, attended her morning classes, returned to her grandfather’s where she cooked his lunch, returned to Cumberland for afternoon classes and basketball practices, and at the end, walked back to her grandfather’s where she cooked supper with the help of her younger sister (my mother), her youngest sister, and probably not a great deal of help from my eight-year old uncle.

So i was intrigued with this photo and the one word and the year written on the back. i thought maybe it was “Debutantes, 1931.” The cursive writing became smaller and difficult to make out at the end. The lettering was small and neat, not as neat and orderly as her two sisters wrote, but it contained the same characteristics. The letters looked like the perfectly formed letters, large, above the blackboards in every classroom of every grade in elementary school that i remembered. That’s what their cursive looked like. My sister’s writing had that too. My brother’s also, but he formed his with a backward slant, something i had always intended to ask him about. Toward the end of this exhibit of cursive reminded me of mine, hurried, different, some suggestion of an older style or at least a cruder style. This has been amplified in my later years, this recklessness with the cursive lettering. Perhaps it was college that did that to me. i wondered if it had done that with my aunt.

i asked Maureen to decipher the lettering. She immediately decided it indeed was “Debutants .” i should have dropped it there, but i kept looking. i think the old news reporter kicked in with Coach, JB Leftwich, looking over my shoulder.

i got out my desk magnifying glass i had claimed from my father-in-law’s estate. Under the glass, the writing looked like “debutees.” It seemed like a good word to me, but it was unfamiliar. i looked it up. Google, where else?

It was French as i had guessed. The plural was also feminine, meaning “to start,” “to debut,” to make one’s debut.”

And there it was.

She and her friends. i think i recognize one or two, but i will not hazard a guess as to whohe fr these 1991 Cumberland University students were. i’ll let my Lebanon friends determine if they can put names to the frosh faces.

It seems like a simpler, magical time to me. But as with all periods of history, including the current times, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Hmm…i think i’ve read that somewhere else before. That’s my Aunt Evelyn Prichard Orr on the left.

 

God Bless Alfred E. Neumann

About a thousand years ago…oh, okay, it was 1952, Mad Magazine debuted. Two years later, this crazy wonderful magazine adopted this rather bizarre character who had been used in FDR’s campaigns for president in the thirties as their icon. i did not realize, perhaps because i would not have even thought about such things until i grew up about a year ago — okay, okay, i haven’t really grown up really — how prescient Alfred E. Neumann was in my case.

i have done my thing. Hopefully, i will continue to do my thing. i don’t have a prejudice bone in my body, at least i don’t think i do, although i do have a bias against stupid, illogic, fear, and hatred.

But a couple of months ago, i swore off caring about political positions and not judging those who get so worked up about such things.

i want to enjoy the rest of my life. i don’t think i have done too much wrong, and i have certainly earned what i have…okay, okay i was blessed with, not earned an incredible wife, two wonderful daughters, and a grandson i am so proud of my buttons might burst.

So Alfred, tonight at seventy degrees at five in the afternoon, no clouds, an ocean breeze in the Southwest corner, i’m in, man.

What, me worry?

 

The Big 37 Post Script

Well, the site wouldn’t let me upload the photos. “Too large,” it read in its rejection. So my daughter Sarah made me smart enough temporarily to downsize the photos i posted on Facebook yesterday.

A couple of thoughts about the affair.

The Rose. i like everything about it.

We arrived a bit early. The door to the inside was blocked: the pandemic, you know. They had set up extra small tables outside on Thirtieth Street in North Park, a San Diego neighborhood that is being “gentrified” but i hope not too much. So all of the dining was “al fresco.”

i told the young lady at the door we had reservations but were early. She smiled and pointed down the side of the building to an empty table next to their window. She escorted us to the table and we sat, admiring the fact they had taped the menu to the window, not noticing anything else on the window.

As the two young women in the table nearby got up to leave, they walked by and asked if were the two celebrating our anniversary. When i nodded yes, they both happily said, “Happy Anniversary.” We marveled at how they knew, and they pointed to the window. We looked up and for the first time, we realized the sign on the window was just for us.

 

We ordered the shishito  peppers and cherry tomatoes to start with a tempranillo-based rosé for Maureen, and i even liked it, a rarity for a rosé. i began with a sauvignon blanc. At our waiter’s recommendation, we next add the chicken wings. Now, unless it’s my mother’s fried chicken or one of Maureen’s inventions where she disguises it, i’m not a big fan of chicken. The Rose’s wings were delicious. We also had The Rose Salad, one of Maureen’s favorite salads for a reason, and i added the half dozen kumiai oysters. Alan Hicks introduced me to these wonderful treats. i changed to a red wine, an Austrian wine if i remember correctly but cannot pronounce or spell, and it was great to the point i wish i had ordered a bottle to go. We finished with a  caramelized rice pudding ball, yet something else i can’t spell or pronounce, and it was just right for ending our night out.

The Rose is a special place.

Thanks, Rae and company.

The Big 37

i may have misled some, if not all of you, who are Facebook friends. My post a couple of days ago of the two of us at the Wine Vault and Bistro was not for this anniversary. It was from two years ago.

Today is the date of our anniversary, number thirty-seven if you are counting. We played golf at Maureen’s request and will be going to our other go-to dining for special occasions, The Rose, a wine bar with wonderful pupus, which we consider meals, exceptionally wonderful meals.

i won’t go into a great deal of information about the details of what led to this date, thirty-seven years ago. i was going to repost the story of how we met, but i’ve worn that a bit thin.

i’m not going to tell you about the first time i opened the door for her to sit in my Rx7, my proudest possession, and how she laughed at the Scottish plaid inserts in the seats.

i’m not going to tell you our first real date was going to see John Lee Hooker at the Belly Up Tavern, and our second date two nights later was going to see Doc Watson at the same wonderful venue.

i’m not going to tell you how our first summer was spent with week and weekend nights being almost totally dedicated to fine dining in many places.

i’m not going to tell you when i took her home after those dinners, i would have on rock or jazz, which she would change to the classical music station and immediately fall asleep for the rest of the ride home.

i’ll just let you have a taste of what it was like at 1385 Taft Street in Lemon Grove, California in her father’s backyard, including catering by the upper crust of San Diego catering Maureen had picked. It was in the 90’s. There was no real breeze as there usually was on that hill. It got a little raucous and fun. i won’t go into that part right now. i may add some of those photos later.

But for now, let’s just concentrate on a beautiful lady, inside and out, who, i am convinced is the only lady who could have possibly put up with me for thirty-seven years.

i am a lucky man.

Brother Joe marrying us. You can see my father over Maureen’s left shoulder and barely make out my mother between our shoulders.
A married couple, 1983 style.
Cutting the rather incredible cake layered with chocolate covered strawberries, together, using my Navy sword.
Sharing our cake on the way to thirty-seven years of being just right for each other.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Happy Birthday, just like an older sister

You might say i’ve known her for a while.

She remains more like a sister than a cousin.

i could write volumes but i will just say, i was the first guest where she prepared dinner in her new Florida home back in 1961.

She’s special.

There were many pictures of us with her brother Jon in 1944-45 when their father was on a minesweeper out of Charleston, South Carolina, and mine was in the Southwest Pacific islands. This one was in the summer of ’45 i think.

Happy Birthday, Nancy. You are one special person. Tell Bill, i said to give you a big hug and a special day.

Last Dance

i’m back…about half-a…, er, at least partially. As with all things computer, it didn’t go…, no hasn’t gone as advertised. The promised restoration of programs, etc. really didn’t exist, and, of course, nearly all of my passwords were saved in an internet security program.

So it’s gonna be a good while before i am functioning on all four cylinders…well, i’ll admit it’s probably more like three out of four cylinders since i’ve been operating without a full set of carburetors for several years.

And this, for me, is the last dance. i’m planning on this being my last computer. i have already shunned pads and their counterparts; and Alexis, Echo, and other talking machines, stationary robots. i think kindles and their like are wonderful, effective, practical, but sorry, tried it, and i want a book in my hands when i read. i don’t tweet, well, not on a machine. Old school.

For me, ten years of this new fangled machine will have me knocking on the door of 87, and even if i’m still coherent — oops, another bad description as there are those who would question my current degree of coherency — i will likely be dialing back on just about everything.

It’s my last dance with computers.

And my car, one of my favorites of all time, perhaps only topped bay my two Mazda Rx7’s, the pride of a crazy thirty-something Navy commander and those cars that elicit great memories like the ’59 Vauxhall i stole from my sister Martha, may be my last automobile dance although i suspect i will run it into the ground and require one more ticket for the last dance. It will either be another standard transmission or a self-driving thingie.

Of course, all of this really means you have to put up with me again on the web and on the highways. For almost a week, i have been quiet, at least in most means by which i am never quiet.

Time to reminisce.

A Ride Down Another Memory Lane

This morning, i shared a photo of Col. JB Leftwich i had put on Facebook five years ago. The link attached to the memory doesn’t work. It was a Lebanon Democrat work and apparently, the new owners of the newspaper did not transfer older editions with Coach’s columns and mine. The below is my column from the bad link in the . As i said, i wish i could sit down with him on that back porch room and talk to him, with one of Glen Ed’s dirty martinis of course, and discuss the state of journalism, especially print journalism, and sports. He inspired this column:

Notes from the Southwest Corner: A ride down another memory lane

SAN DIEGO – After six months of pretty frenetic travel, my wife and I are back in the Southwest corner for what could be as much as three months.

I am not sure what to do with myself.

There are all sorts of things I need to do. This retirement thing is so full of medical checkups, administrative requirements, honey-do’s, home projects, keeping track of family and friends, and, of course, golf. Then, there is this column I write every week. I feel like the Haigha, the March Hare in “Alice in Wonderland,” running hither and yon yelling “I’m late, I’m late.”

As I mulled over all of this last week, I also attacked my “to-do” list. One item was to ensure my old files, contacts, and ticklers were not required from my last employer, Pacific Tugboat Service. Thursday, I gathered up my laptop and headed toward the bay.

As I drove down my hill, I decided to bypass the freeways even though I was late enough to miss the dreaded Southwest corner commuter traffic. I wanted to drive the roads that have been part of my life on and off for forty years. I took the back roads.

As I turned down my alternate route, the back way as we used to say, I thought of JB Leftwich, “Coach” as I and other journalists from Castle Heights called him. He wrote a beautiful column for this newspaper about 40 years ago. His path led from his home on Castle Heights Avenue through a winding route to the Methodist church, then on East Main next to the post office. Coach reflected on what used to be at various sites along his route.

Coach’s route was two miles. Mine was close to 13…so I drove. But I reflected on what used to be much like Coach must have done on his hike.

I headed northwest from Chula Vista to National City. Both were sleepy little residential bedroom communities when I first came to the Southwest corner. Both still have small pockets of small homes, typical of houses built in the 1950s. Chula Vista has grown into a major city in its own right and continues with continual development of the 100,000-acre ranch once owned by the Scripps family. National City is auto dealerships and industrial businesses with those residential pockets decaying and slowly giving ground to commerce.

When I reached the waterfront, I turned north on Harbor Drive. The Naval Station’s southern piers used to be for the Mothball Fleet. Decommissioned ships, mostly destroyers from World War II, silently held vigil over that end of the bay. They had been weather proofed for a possible later call to action. No one was on the piers except for a lone guard.

Later, the mothball fleet was mostly scrapped with a few moved to other locations. The Mothball Fleet is now located in Philadelphia, Pa.; Bremerton, Wash.; Suisun Bay, Calif.; and Pearl Harbor. Active ships, mostly amphibious ships moved to the southern piers. My favored route to work 30-40 years ago was through the back gate, opened only for a few hours at the beginning and end of the workday. The route was not well known, and I could slide in and out while avoiding the mass of traffic at major gates.

Driving north, I shrugged. Modern has replaced shabby. Training buildings, well-appointed maintenance facilities, and a dental command are where old boats and landing craft were strewn haphazardly in weedy lots on the “dry side,” inland from my route. Now the gates to the “wet side” are modern, expensive technical security wonders. Base security civilians and “aquaflage” uniformed security Navy personnel man the gates. Sharply dressed marines with snappy salutes were the sentinels back when.

Officer, chief, petty officer, and enlisted clubs have been replaced by a few and little-used “all-hands” clubs. The gate itself touts the new Navy. Just past the entrance is roundabout with a an impressive flag display.

The Navy has changed. Like it’s surroundings and entrances, today’s Navy is more efficient; more technically savvy; in its way, more pin-pointedly lethal; safer; and more politically correct. Until my latter years on active duty, it was ribald; labor intensive; a work hard, play hard bastion of…well, sailors being sailors. Today it is more a social engineering system, embroiled in political positioning and using weapon technology “platforms.”

In truth, it is a much better Navy. On my drive of memories, I accepted I liked the old Navy better.