Monthly Archives: August 2017

They called it “Eerie Drone Footage…” i called it recollection

i was fascinated and watched straight through, from beginning to end, afraid to move or look away, concerned i might miss something.

It was just before noon when i opened Gail Hatcher Morris’ link. Thanks, Gail. i finished viewing as the little hand and the big hand met at the top of the Navy clock i have in my office. It took about eighteen minutes. i suspect most of you who read this will not have the patience to watch the whole thing. i don’t blame you. While i was transfixed watching, that other part of my brain was thinking this was a lot of time when i should be doing something productive. Just couldn’t do it. Transfixed.

Here it is:

Perhaps i was so into it because i went there way back when. i may have gone twice. It seems so. But i can’t pinpoint the other time or reason. The one i do remember is pretty clear considering it was sixty-three years ago. Oh, i don’t remember a great deal of specifics about the place.

The video presents the place as beautiful in its eerie, somewhat scary, own way. The production by Brian Siskind and Jim DeMain is itself quite beautiful. Siskind’s music is beautiful and befitting the footage. i did wonder the purpose in that “Justin Brown and the Tennessee Department of Corrections” agreed to the project.

You see, i went to the state prison in the spring of 1956, on a tour mind you. i was twelve. The occasion was McClain Elementary on West Main had a field trip for members of the safety patrol. We’re the sixth grade boys — they weren’t ready to let girls be on the safety patrol: after all, it was a different time — who had the bamboo poles with the red flags stopping traffic at the direction of the Lebanon City policeman who was there every morning and every afternoon. The trip began in the morning after all of the children were in school. i guess the fifth graders were the safety patrol that afternoon.

The second part of the field trip was supposed to be attending a wrestling match. i’m guessing that was at the Hippodrome on West End just past the Vanderbilt campus. Gone now…of course. The Hippodrome was one major large skating rink. i, however, remember it when they sat up a stage at one end, put in four hundred or so folding chairs, and held rhythm and blues reviews there while i was at Vanderbilt. In my mind, i can still see still see Ms Fox of Inez and Charlie Fox fame come out in a skin tight, gold lamé jump suit, launch into “Mockingbird,” and then in the middle of the instrumental turn her backside to the audience, bend over, and shake her tail feathers. And the man running at full speed down the aisle in attempt to meet the before mentioned Ms Fox face to face, so to speak, and tackled by a security guard about three-quarters of the way down the aisle. And Sam Cooke showing up almost an hour late and singing one song (no, i don’t remember the song) and leaving. And Jackie Wilson pushing the mike and stand toward the audience, doing a 360 pirouette, kicking the bottom of the mike stand pulling the mike back to him, making love to the self same microphone while falling to the floor, which put one young woman in a tight skirt and three-inch heels launching herself full speed down that aisle but not stopped by security and diving onto the stage into the arms of Mr. Wilson and that microphone where they proceeded to make out sans mike until the end of the song when they both went backstage.

But that was much later in my youth and the wrestling match was cancelled or there was some other rock in the road to see the wrestlers so the safety patrol went to Sulphur Dell to watch the Nashville Vols take on the New Orleans Pelicans, Birmingham Barons, Memphis Chicks or another team in the double-A Southern League.

However, the Tennessee State Prison visit was the indelible memory. We toured the grounds and saw where they made license plates and we saw the cells and the open area and the cafeteria, and the highlight of Old Smoky, the electric chair. On the way out, we stopped at the gift shop where they sold goods made by the well-behaved inmates, and i bought…Guess? Yep, i bought a twelve-inch model of Old Smoky, the electric chair. It was made of wood. The seat and back were natural wood. The arms and legs were painted red. There was black lettering on the seat back, which i think read “Tennessee State Prison.” When i bought it, there were small leather straps on the arms and at the head level for strapping in the culprit. They disappeared pretty quickly.

i cannot remember how my mother reacted when i brought it home that night. i think she restrained herself, but i do wonder what she told my father after i had gone to bed. i’ll bet a hundred dollars he laughed.

i didn’t use it very much. i do remember frying some particularly bad miniature guys, but only once or twice during my playtime. It was more of an ornament in Joe’s and my upstairs bedroom. It stayed around a long time. i’m not exactly sure when it disappeared but i suspect when Mother and Daddy cleared out the house when they moved from the Castle Heights homestead to Deer Park.

Of course, i was twelve. Boys of twelve think quite a bit differently than boys or girls at any other age i think. i remember thinking how strange that prison was and how awful it would be to be penned up there, especially if you were waiting to meet Old Smoky in a final set to. i remember thinking i wasn’t ever gonna do anything to get be in there for a longer stay. i also remember showing my bravado and making fun, laughing like twelve-year old boys do when they are around each other (if they are still allowed to do so).

As the video shows, it was a magnificent, old beautiful, place, but eerie, overbearing, yes scary.

And the video took me back to a time of innocence, a time of not knowing all i should know, a time when adults thought that would be a cool place to visit on a sixth grade safety patrol trip.

Bet they don’t do those kinds of things nowadays.



What if?

i think i’m channeling John Lennon, but please, please, please (as James Brown would often sing), keep Yoko Ono far, far away from me.

i was just wondering:

What if all of those folks believing they were Christians, instead of protesting, defaming others, said (sorta like Jesus), i forgive you, i love you, may Lord have mercy on your soul, and then they let Him take care of it?

What if all of those folks tearing down statues, yelling and spitting at the opposition, screaming denigrating attacks, said to the opposition, we don’t agree, but you are human beings like us and we would like to talk to you about why and how we differ and how we might get along?

What if, the media reported good news one day, just good news (even though i know they couldn’t stand it for more than one day, i would like it to be most of the time) instead of seeking out sensational, soap opera crap, and digging for dirt?

What if all of those who inherited big money; those who became filthy rich from their businesses; athletes, entertainers, and politicians who have made crazy amounts of money tried to live on several million and gave the rest to helping people across the country and the world who are down and out?

What if all of those folks throwing rocks at our current or immediate past presidents (as well as several others) quit and started working on programs and initiatives to change things for the better?

What if all of our congress persons quit worrying about getting reelected and serving those who give them money and started working for the good of our country and all humankind?

What if everyone quit worrying and attacking all of those people and establishments they perceive are making it difficult for them and their beliefs stop and just worry about how they are managing themselves in their relationships?

What if everyone, i mean everyone just started trying hard to live by the Golden Rule? You know, the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

What if…oh Lord, it ain’t gonna happen, i know but just think about what if everyone quit trying to fix everyone else and actually focused on fixing themselves?

Nah…wouldn’t work unless we shot all of those who don’t agree with us.

Willie Nod and the Rabbit

This is, quite possibly, my favorite piece about Willie Nod. It is not exactly a poem, but it’s not exactly not a poem, pretty much like all of the stuff i write…i hope. Still it is one of my favorites. It was written in November 1982. It was soon after a golf round where i saw several of the long eared jack rabbits who were plentiful around the course and this neck of the woods. These rabbits were very different from the white fluffy tail rabbits i knew in Tennessee. So i decided to write this to let Blythe know about these different rabbits.

Willie Nod and the Rabbit

Willie Nod decided it was time to have another adventure.
It so happened a rabbit was also ready for an adventure.
Like these things normally start out, Willie Nod and this rabbit ran into each other.
It happened in a field, which i would have liked to have been in Tennessee, but
The rabbit was scrawny, had bug eyes and long, thin, almost sharp ears,
Totally unlike the fuzzy, warm, slightly chubby, floppy-eared Tennessee rabbits,
Although it’s been a long time since i’ve seen rabbits in Tennessee.

Regardless, this particular field was near Yuma, Arizona,
Which partially explains the scrawniness of the rabbit.
This rabbit, by the way, had a name unlike most of Willie Nod’s animal friends.
Rabbits have been known to have names
Like Bugs, Peter, and of course, there was Harvey,
Although technically, Harvey was a puhka.
So this rabbit had a name too.
His name, oddly enough, was Rabbit Smith.

Rabbit Smith and Willie Nod met in this field in Yuma, Arizona.
Rabbit Smith liked the dry, hot weather of Yuma.
That’s why he was skinny and his cousin in Tennessee was fat.
In the shy way of rabbits, he said hello to Willie Nod.
Now most rabbits have lots of relatives.
Rabbit Smith was an exception, as he related to Willie Nod.
It did not make him unhappy, even though it did make him different.
“Well, Willie, if you don’t have a lot of other people to worry about,
You don’t have to worry about yourself so much.
i’ve never been too much of a worrier;
So one day, when i was all wrapped up in worrying about all those other scrawny, bug-eyed rabbits,
I decided I was worrying too much;
Took off; headed east.
All of those scrawny rabbits originated in California.
Those cuddly ones from Tennessee and other places have never really been rabbit enough to associate with us.”
“Anyhow, I got as far east as Yuma and all the rabbits had just about quit being around.
Stayed here ever since.
No worrying about all those other rabbits.
Oh, it sometimes gets a little lonesome, but
There’s always a prairie dog or two when I need to talk.
I figure lonesome is a whole sight better than worrying, or
Even more to the point, being worrisome,
For if I am worrying about all those other rabbits,
They must be worrying about me.”
Willie Nod got about as tired of this spiel as you did,
Wondering where it was all going to end.
It didn’t.
It just sort of stopped.

Willie Nod and Rabbit Smith kicked around together
For a couple of months.
Sometimes they would meet some of Rabbit’s prairie dog friends.
Sometimes they would see some acquaintances of Willie Nod.
Sometimes they would just walk together in the fields near Yuma.

One day, as it always happens, it was time to part ways for Willie Nod and Rabbit Smith.
You see, Rabbit had noticed Willie had a slight cold
The night before, so he made sure Willie Nod had a blanket before going to sleep.
“Willie,” he said the next morning, “I started worrying about you last night.
So I’ve got to go.”
Rabbit Smith went off, lickety-split, over the fields of Yuma.

Willie Nod wished that Rabbit had waited a minute before taking off.
You see, Willie Nod had figured out the problem:
There’s a difference between caring and worrying.
Some rabbits just can’t tell the difference.

At least, Rabbit Smith didn’t worry too much.



spate of spam

i am going through my files and finding some things i started under “ip” for “in progress.” i usually find they are no longer pertinent and simply delete them, but occasionally, i find one i like. This is one from 2009 i began then set aside. i added the last few lines today.

i do not like this spate of spam
received regardless of who i am
which arrives each day
by facebook post or in my email;
nor do i like these political posts
even if i agree
political posts are one-sided, mean
absolutely not for me
i’m tired such stuff
but i don’t know what to do
‘cause i like the social stuff
with friends i share;
i would say “knock it off”
but that doesn’t work
for folks who have their own agenda
without regard for friends who don’t.

so what’s a fellow to do?


He would have been 103 today. i can hear him laugh right now. i can see his hands. He liked the poem i wrote about his hands, asked me how i knew all of that stuff about him. i’m pretty sure i knew by looking at his hands. That poem is below. Above that and below this is a photo his granddaughter Kate posted the day he passed away. His not being here still hurts and always will. But it’s a good hurt. He was always good, above all else. As his friends told me time and time again, “Jimmy Jewell is a good man.”


When most folks meet him,
they notice steel blue eyes and agility;
his gaze, gait and movements
belie the ninety-five years;
those folks should look at his hands:
those hands could make Durer cry
with their history and the tales they tell.

His strength always was supple
beyond what was suggested from his slight build.
His hands are the delivery point of that strength.
His hands are not slight:
His hands are firm and thick and solid –
a handshake of destruction if he so desired, but
he has used them to repair the cars and our hearts;

His hands are marked by years of labor with
tire irons, jacks, wrenches, sledges, micrometers on
carburetors, axles, brake drums, distributors
(long before mechanics hooked up computers,
deciphering the monitor to replace “units”
for more money in an hour than he made in a month
when he started in ’34 before computers and units).

His hands pitched tents,
made the bulldozers run
in war
in the steaming, screaming sweat of
Bouganville, New Guinea, the Philippines.

His hands have nicks and scratches
turned into scars with
the passage of time:
a map of history, the human kind.

Veins and arteries stand out
on the back of his hands,
pumping life itself into his hands
and beyond;
the tales of grease and oil and grime,
cleaned by gasoline and goop and lava soap
are etched in his hands;

they are hands of labor,
hands of hard times,
hands of hope,
hands of kindness, caring, and love:
oh love, love, love, crazy love.

His hands speak of him with pride.
His hands belong
to the smartest man i know
who has lived life to the maximum,
but in balance, in control, in understanding,
gaining respect and love
far beyond those who claim smartness
for the money they earned
while he and his hands own smartness
like a well-kept plot of land
because he always has understood
what was really important
in the long run:
smarter than any man I know
with hands that tell the story
so well.

Bonita, California
September 28, 2009

Random Thoughts on an Early Monday Morning

You might have read some of this stuff from me before. i don’t care.

Monday. Again, i awoke way too early, even for me. Don’t know why unless it’s become ingrained from my near ten years of Lebanon Democrat column deadlines. Of course, the sea, oh, the marvelous sea, is also ingrained even though my last time on a ship at sea was thirty-three years ago. That morning watch, the 04-08 where i would be awakened by a boatswainmate, the messenger of the watch at 0315 so i could get to the bridge and relieve the OOD by 0345 and feel the day stirring and smell the coffee and bacon and eggs aroma wafting up from the galley to the starboard bridge wing, and hearing the radio communications among the squadron ships begin the chatter, and seeing first light creep up on the horizon, and the pinkness and the freshness of the new day dawning, and the captain coming out to sit in his oversized and raised chair on the starboard side for his first cup of coffee of the morning and swapping hellos because there wasn’t much usually going on at 0600 in the morning and how the oncoming watch came up early, 0700, to relieve me so i get the last breakfast in the wardroom before officer’s call and quarters and the beginning of the work day when i would start to fade around 1000 waiting until the midday mess to skip and hit the rack for a NORP.

Oh yeh, this early stuff is still with me.


Regardless, once again this Monday early morning, my brain started in low gear and was rumbling in third. I couldn’t find the clutch before four in the morning. This oft abused brain refused to shift back to idle. Like my Mazda 3 hatchback, my brain has six forward gears, straight transmission…er, standard. Okay my car buff buddies, keep me straight here. It may be okay to write this early, but it damn sure ain’t okay to do research for a faulty memory. It’s Monday morning for Christ’s sake, too early to look stuff up.

 *   *   *

One thought, which has occurred before is i am one hell of a lucky man. I have had a really good life. Oh yeah, there have been some surprises, some downturns i wasn’t expecting. In fact, there are a couple still smacking at me today. That ain’t right, by the way; ain’t right someone at seventy-three should still have downturns. After all, dealing with all of the growing old, dealing with all the…i was going to be polite and say “stuff,” but no: dealing with all the other shit is right on. Old age illnesses, parts breaking down, stiffness, going to one doc or another what seems like at least every week. Watch friends grow old faster, have worse things go wrong. Like dying. Still don’t know how my parents made it to their late nineties, not because of their health. My father was an incredible specimen of good health. My mother had some serious problems for almost forty years. But they were troopers. The thing about them i find amazing is their dealing with all of their generation of family and friends leaving them behind. Man, that is tough. i must get better at that if i am going to be one of those outlasting the others.

*   *   *

Lying there this morning, i was reassessing what i’ve done. i do that often. Need to let it go. Move on. You know. It started with thinking about what a bad golfer i am, especially considering how much i play. Shouldn’t complain considering my age and the occasional good hole i have. Still do it, like all of the others…except maybe for Peter Thomas, the best golfer i’ve ever played with. He’s the one who taught me i shouldn’t bitch about my play, instantaneously or long-term unless i hit some 300 golf balls a day, every day, for more than a decade. Then i can bitch. Got a long way to go.

 *   *   *

Nah, i really haven’t done much. i had the potential somewhere back in the dark ages. Then i didn’t grow up. I remained just shy of five-seven. Stopped the vertical thing around junior high. Kept expecting to be six-two, 180. Didn’t happen. As most of you know, i have not grown up in other ways as well. Still, in spite of a checkered career for assessment, i made it to commander, and as i love to repeat, my last operational CO, Captain Frank Boyle on USS Yosemite gave me what i consider the ultimate compliment, calling me, not a seaman, not a sailor, but a mariner, something he and i knew at that stage of our time on ships was the real compliment (He was too, a mariner). Got to spend 14 out of 22 years on ships, nine or eleven, depending on the way you count ’em. i’ll take that even though i would go again if they still had steam ships without all of the GPS and computers they have today.

And i was a good sports editor at The Watertown (NY) Daily Times before that gig was cut short because of the need to take care of my family financially. Don’t regret it, but i did love it while i was in it.

Hadn’t made a lot of money. Don’t miss it, although i would like to make Maureen feel more secure and there are a bunch of people i would like to go and see. Maureen would like to go see places not seen before. i would like to go to old places (that aren’t gone or drastically changed) or to old friends, but money is a little to tight to cover all of those dreams. Still okay.

  *   *   *

i admit i’m a goofy guy, even brag about it. i really don’t do too many more goofy things than most folks, but i don’t mind my goofy antics being broadcast and am pretty honest about my goofiness. Don’t believe in fooling folks.

i don’t know where it comes from. My parents were great parents but they certainly weren’t goofy. Probably the depression and the war and religion of the time kept ’em straighter, non-goofy. Daddy loved to tell stories, even some on himself, but that was about it.

Perhaps, just perhaps, i might get my goofiness from my Uncle Bill Prichard, my mother’s youngest sibling and only boy. He could be real goofy, but man did he have a laugh. Like him, i might have become a  pilot for a war. Uncle Bill, he flew mustangs out of England. Man!

In Navy OCS, those aviators enticed me to join them in the air (SEALS did too; why, i don’t know), but i was a passable swimmer, not a real good one, and i wasn’t sure i could get through that requirement, so i demurred. But i also had had that at-sea moment, and the decision to go surface really wasn’t that difficult.

*   *   *

So i went to sea. If you don’t know, i am trying to write a book about that last operational tour. It’s about the first women as officers or enlisted to spend extended out of port time as members of a ship’s crew or wardroom. And of course, it’s about me. You see — and i may have told you this before as well — i loved the sea from the get-go. In the book, i included a letter i wrote to my wife of a month, Maureen, which began shortly after we left Mayport, Florida for an eight-month deployment to the Indian Ocean. The letter concluded about ten days later in the early morning of the day we stood into Rota, Spain. i bragged about communicating with the sea. Yeh, “bragged” is the right term. After all, i loved my new wife with absolute gusto (still do) and i wanted to impress her.

But yes, i did feel that incredible old lady, the sea, and i communicated. Perhaps that’s a little to mystical or hokey for many. But in 1963 on my third class midshipman cruise on the USS Lloyd Thomas (DD 764) (in the NROTC scholarship program from which i unceremoniously but no less dramatically left like a rock the next spring), i walked to the port life-lines amidships on the ASROC deck between the forward and after stacks. It was 2210 or thereabouts, after taps because the crew’s movie in the DASH hanger had been a long one. The wind was off the port beam and blowing the roar of the boilers from the stacks away from me. i could see the white foam rolling down the side of the ship. The bow wave was lapping at the sides. The sea was dark, the deepest dark blue that exists. The moon was on the port side. i stood there. To this day, i swear that lady, the sea, floated out and grabbed me, down deep in my gut, and i could feel her talking to me. i was hooked, even though i was too goofy to know it.

*   *   *

So i think yes, i have had a good lucky life and can deal with the bumps in the road when they keep coming even though i’m registered old and they shouldn’t hit me now. But you know what? That’s life. It ain’t, as my friend Dave Carey once told a group of senior officers in our seminar, it  ain’t easy. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. It would be damn boring if all went smoothly, everything went our way. We are supposed to deal with problems cause humans, in case you haven’t noticed, all of them, cause problems. It’s an adventure. Deal with it. Laugh at it.

So now, i ain’t working…well, i ain’t formally got a job. So what am i supposed to be doing? i think giving back is my job. i want to tell those younger than me what happened, what was different, and how we/me dealt with it right or wrong, so perhaps, just perhaps, they can learn from my good moments and my bad. Listen to my views of the world and what it has been and what it should be and what it hasn’t been, what it is, and what it shouldn’t be.

But it seems i’m over the hill. Those younger dudes don’t listen to me. Too old. Oh, they nod their heads like they heard me. But they weren’t listening really. They just keep on their way, probably mumbling about that crazy, goofy old man rambling about the good ole days, even some of those good ole days were pretty damn lousy, just like theirs will be. Sort of feel patronized in a way. Oh, many folks my age or near it, they read and agree…as long as it doesn’t cross their locked and loaded, lines in the sand, refusing to budge views of the world and all of their opponents, demons really.

So i’ll just do my thing and hope, not optimistically, but hope a few folks might learn a few things from my ramblings and modify their way of doing things just a little bit for the better.

*   *   *

One sort of political comment, or cultural, or something. This must be prefaced by noting i don’t consider myself a racist or a bigot or prejudiced at all. There may be people who choose to think i am because of the color of my skin, where i come from, the way i talk. i know i cannot write anything here that even hints of disagreement with any political, religious opinion that won’t get slammed. i will point out when attending Vanderbilt basketball games from 1962 to 1964, which i did with amazing loyalty, every home game, without fail except that part about not studying on those nights and flunking out (one F, 14 D’s in four semesters, a record i think), but to the point, the pep band would play “Dixie” and the student body would stand and sing as almost one because there would be a half-dozen or so of me and my brothers who would remain seated, and when berated and denigrated by those highbrow rednecks around us, we would proclaim we didn’t root for losers.

But i do feel the need to make an observation about this take down the statue thing. To leave them there and recognize it was a much different time in history. There were many things wrong and we couldn’t do it right so we had this awful war among brothers, white and black as folks call us i think wrongly and killed each other with abandon. We started on a path of improved but not perfect equality. There were clowns then and clowns now who were too damn selfish to admit equality was just that. But doesn’t destroying statues, taking down crosses, defiling others symbols of belief, all of that kind of thing, seem just a bit like ISIS, Al Qaeda, even Hitler, destroying history. i mean, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. i’ve got my sea i can see from my hilltop or dip my feet in if i drive about 15 miles or my memories, oh my memories. i’m probably not going to miss those statues in the South, but it does seem we are incapable of dealing with each other reasonably. It’s my way or the highway, it seems. Well, i don’t think anyone is going to take my highway. Navy steam ships are gone. Sportswriting the way i lived it is gone too. Religion, that ole time religion, good ole Methodist stuff, seems to be gone also. Tolerance, understanding, communicating, compassion is only on one side of the line or the other. Seems like that golden rule, you know “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is passé, or even obsolete.



A Place to Go

If you are down and out,
feeling low…

Well, go to the San Diego night time zoo.

We ate at Albert’s, the restaurant honoring one of the zoo’s first and perhaps most famous star before the pandas. He was one big gorilla. The restaurant named after him makes you feel like you are in the heart of African jungle. i had an Alesmith .394, the Tony Gwynn Tribute pale ale. Good stuff named with Tony’s incredible season batting average, which might have risen to over .400 had the player’s strike not shortened the season by over a month. Good fish and chips too.

We wandered a bit, and if you have season passes, wandering a bit is a good thing. Went down paths i had not been before. Saw two incredible eagles (see a later Sarah post, i hope). Then we stumbled upon this one exhibit that took our breath away. Sarah has better photos with George’s professional camera of those snow leopards than i do . i took these with my iphone:

Then i got this below. It doesn’t do justice to the incredible speed, litheness, and strength of this boy. To be there was to have your heart pause for just a moment. Yet even this can take your breath away:

2017-08-13 19.34.4

Oh no, i can’t seem to get it to work here. i’ll try and post it on Facebook with this link and fix it later…maybe.

Oh, escape to the zoo to feel like the world with its humans and the animals is all right. A visit will put you in better spirits and make you feel good.

Reginald and Rebecca

This is another of the poems omitting Willie Nod. i wrote it in 1978 while at Texas A&M in College Station. i will refrain from describing my situation because it is not something i like to talk about. This poem was to Blythe as all of them were, adding Sarah to the “to” list after 1989. But this one was also to me. i would like most people i know to consider the poem’s intent.

Reginald and Rebecca

The Cat was fat;
his name was Reginald Are-a-Fat
He cackled at birds,
lazed in the sun
most of the day.

Reginald loved a little girl.
They both belonged to a couple,
named Poindexter.
The girl was Rebecca Poindexter.
Reginal followed Rebecca
everywhere Rebecca cared to go,
cackling and lazing in the sun while
waiting for Rebecca.

Rebecca did not appreciate Reginald’s love, but
enjoyed his company and laughed at his cackling.
Reginald had a lot of cat in him.
One day, he did a very cat thing while waiting for Rebecca
outside her friend’s house.
Reginald caught a mouse,
had it in his mouth when
Rebecca came out,
showing it proudly to her.
Rebecca was mad that
Reginald could do such a cat thing.
She swatted at him and chased him away.

Reginald Are-a-Fat was hurt and scared,
running to hide in the woods nearby.
He did not go back to the Poindexter’s house that night.
A big thunderstorm caught Reginald in a tree.
He was wet and afraid.
The Poindexter’s called for Reginald.
They coud not hear his cries above the thunder.

Rebecca cried through the night,
afraid she had driven Reginald away for good.

Cats, however, are very wise animals,
especially Reginald Are-a-Fat, the fat cat.
In the morning, the thunder, lightning and rain quit;
Wet Reginald climbed down from the tree,
dashing to the Poindexter’s door
just as Rebecca was leaving for school.

Rebecca grabbed Reginald and hugged him.
She understood his love and loved him in return.

And they lived happily ever after.

Don’t forget that no matter how a story ends, everyone has a chance to live happily ever after, if they will it so.

Willie Nod Runs Away

In my preface to “Tiger Water,” i claimed i had not seen Blythe in eleven months when i wrote the poem in November 1981. That was incorrect.

As i was thinking about that rather incredible ten months in the Western Pacific, i remembered the time line, accurately this time. i deployed as the Current Operations Officer of Commander, Amphibious Squadron Five on the flagship, USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3). Bruce Brunn, the marine major also on the staff and i flew to Oahu in early January. There we planned exercises with the Marines who would ride us throughout the deployment before we embarked on the squadron ships when they arrived.

We went throughout WESTPAC and the Indian Ocean, returning to San Diego in August. i was in San Diego for about four weeks. Blythe joined me for two weeks of that stay and my parents were here for a substantial period of Blythe’s visit. i left in early September, flying to Perth, Australia to join the USS Okinawa (LPH 3).

We returned to San Diego just before Christmas. Blythe met me in on our stop in Pearl Harbor where i took leave and spent a week with her on Oahu and flew back with her to San Diego before she returned to Austin. But perhaps, our short time together in August made me even lonelier for the rest of my time on deployment that year. Here is the next Willie Nod adventure.

Willie Nod Runs Away

Willie Nod ran away.
He had argued with his mom and dad.
As usual, Mom and Dad won.
So he told them they didn’t love him,
slamming the door to his room.

Later that night, Willie Nod slipped out of his window and ran away.
he found it was not especially hard,
except he had to leave the dog and cat behind.

Willie Nod walked out of the light of the street lamps
until he reached the woods.
Willie Nod went deep in the woods
before he looked for a place to sleep.
He found a soft bed of leaves next to a log.
Night sounds of crickets, owls,
and wind whistling through the trees
did not frighten Willie Nod for
he loved the animals and the trees.
He felt kin to the wind.

Even with the soft, sweet smelling bed of leaves and
the sandman friends’ sounds of the night
could not put Willie Nod to sleep.
He was not afraid.
He was lonely.
Deep in the night, Willie Nod was startled when
he began to understand the night sounds of the owls,
wise old birds,
the crickets and the occasional howl of the coyotes.
They were talking to Willie Nod.
He knew he could talk to them, but remained silent.
As he lay on his forest bed,
the animals told him how much he was loved.
As he lay there with the stars
peeping through the leaves,
Willie Nod realized the animals were right.
The animals told him he ran away because
he was angry at himself, not his parents, for
getting caught, for not being as good as
he knew he should be.

The wise old owls told him that he was angry because
he was ashamed to have his mom and dad
know he was not as good as he could be.

Willie Nod’s tears began to flow.

In the early morning, crying over,
Willie Nod walked back to his home.
He snuck into his room.
The dog licked his face;
the cat rubbed against his leg:
they almost gave him away.
Willie Nod crawled into bed
feeling good because
his mom and dad loved him and
he had talked to the animals
his run away was over.


Tiger Water

This is one of the rare poems i wrote for Blythe without including Willie Nod. i was in the Philippines at the Subic Bay Naval Base in November 1981. It was a wonderful year for me as i spent 10 months that year at sea in the Western Pacific. i loved it, but i was also very lonely for my daughter who i had not seen in a year. i was lonely and needed a bit of nonsense to cheer me up, so i wrote this for Blythe, hoping she would laugh and cheer me up.

Tiger Water

Tiger Water, Billy Bumble,
Why do they ask
Why I mumble?
I’ve gone and seen a kangaroo;
She laughed and called me a “big wahoo.”
You might ask why
I knew she was a she:
In a  belly pouch was a small joey
who, although he screeched it in a jumble
Said his name was Billy Bumble.
I marveled,
“Who’s heard of a joey named Billy?
“Doesn’t that strike you as rather silly?”
His mother, the ‘roo, indignantly replied,
“A wahoo like you should be fried;
“Billy will grow strong and proud
“With nothing the matter,
“I’ll bring him up on ‘Tiger Water.”
“Tiger Water?” I laughed till I cried,
But quickly stopped as soon as I spied
A hint of a tear in the kangaroo’s eye.
Tiger Water?
Billy Bumble?
And you wonder
Why I mumble?