Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

A World of Mine…once

i was looking for something to make a little bit of extra cash, like a full-time, high-paying job, just to keep Maureen from feeling stressed about finances.

During a discussion with my close friend, Steve Frailey, he told me they were looking for a safety guy. He described the work as walking the Pacific Tugboat old creosote wood pier (one of the few left on the bay) numerous times a day, checking the pier, the workers, the boats, and other equipment for safety, to ride the boats for safety checks at least once a week, to conduct training in San Diego and at the Long Beach facility at least once a week. i thought “Hmm, these are all things i would love to do, bring back memories, and i could visit my friend Alan Hicks (who was the Marad Director of the Southern California Gateway), a geographic bachelor living in Long Beach.

Well, it wasn’t for a king’s ransom, and i never did quite all of the things i should have, but i did improve the safety, environmental compliance, and provided support in other ways. i think i helped the company, which was my goal.

i gave it up three years ago. Decided my skills weren’t quite what they used to be, and i also realized i didn’t have the drive anymore to manage relationships in a work status. So i stepped aside. An extremely capable, professional, and much younger Shawn Quigley took my place. Good move all around.

But occasionally, i miss it. Like this morning. i was screwing off, procrastinating, when some old posts popped up on Facebook. Memories came back.

Because of the nature of the job and commuter traffic, i usually arrived at the pier between 0530 and 0600. It was my favorite part of the day. i would walk the pier around first light and enjoy the sights, sounds, and aroma of the bay waking up. If lucky, i would embark on a boat for one of those safety rides. i posted these photos to try and capture my pleasure of the experiences. They didn’t fully capture my feelings, but i think these will give you and idea:

Crew on, 0400, Harbor Commander, inboard of 100-ton barge crane.
San Diego skyline near sunrise from the bay.

 

USS Preble (DDG 88) standing into San Diego Bay. Point Loma, the submarine floating dry dock are in the background. Early morning.

Yep, miss it, just like i missed my ships at sea.

A jewell Revision

My caring and beautiful daughter Sarah, the younger of my two caring and beautiful daughters, did an artistic rendering for a small sign. She was giving it to a friend who had been her friend in a time of need and now going through some significant problems of his own.

She told me the saying came from a song made by a punk rock band. Since i don’t know any punk rock bands, although i have heard a couple have band names include “sister,” and i can’t recall ever hearing a punk rock song for more than a nano-second before i switched the radio dial, i liked the lyrics on the sign. It read:

“Fight to Live; Live to Fight.”

i decided it should be modified (for me) just a bit:

“Love to Live; Live to Love (and if you have to fight, fight judiciously and fiercely).”

But that’s just my take. i still like the original.

Sarah, if you have a photo of your artwork, i would like for you to share on my link to this post on Facebook.

Football and Past Times

i watched a replay for as long as i could stand last night. It was Vandy getting clobbered by Kentucky in Lexington. Football.

i made it all the way to halfway through or so in the second quarter when i began to fast forward through all but the plays. In other words, i was watching the action only, about twenty percent of the broadcast. My modus operandi now is to tape all sports contests, don’t check the scores, then watch the replay, beginning about forty-five minutes after the actual beginning. That way, i can fast forward through the commercials and the half-time bozo show of shouting “experts” and end up pretty much right on time at the end. Then when an athletic contest becomes one-sided or boring or both, i will simply turn it off, check the score real-time, and if there has been a turnaround and the contest is close, i will return to the taped version.

i didn’t return to the Commodore-Wildcat thrashing (44-21).

But while i was watching, a thought kept coming to my pocket of resistance brain. Several times, a Kentucky player was penalized for an offense, obviously guilty, some unsportsmanlike offense even by today standards — when i played all of the shenanigans of showing off, bashing your opponent, etc. was unsportsmanlike; now, it’s cool — and i noticed the UK fans were booing, not the player who had committed the foul where even the attendees could see, not just the beat-your-brain-to-numbness replays on the telly. No, the fans were booing the official for calling the penalty.

This is not a knock of the Kentucky fans per se. Had it been at Vanderbilt and a Commodore had committed the infraction, the few faithful VU fans would have behaved in the same way the UK fans did. In fact, it would be true at every football game and most sports with maybe the exception of tennis and definitely not in golf.

All of this got me to thinking, sometimes a dangerous business. Football fans (and others) appear to have channeled the Roman gladiator games. They want blood. They come to see blood. They dress up in really silly and ugly outfits to celebrate the possibility of blood. They beat their fists on the stadium structures, stomp the stadium floor with their feet, turn red in the face, and possibly even froth at the mouth with the anticipation of witnessing blood.

No, it certainly isn’t quite as bad as the Romans slaying each other and cheering about it. But it’s close. There have even been instances of thousands and thousands of fans cheering an opponent getting injured.

Today, there is an informal boycott of NFL games by people who are upset with the players not showing respect for the National Anthem, the symbol like it or not, of our constitution. They have some legitimate complaints about racial profiling and the unfairness of our government officials in racial matters, perhaps our population in general. i can’t speak for them. i am not too wound up about the boycott either way except as i have written earlier.

But i don’t watch the NFL games anyway. i watched the Chargers while they were in San Diego. After all, my background includes a lot of the three major sports and more, and i wrote about them extensively. When the Chargers left, my interest disappeared. Oh, i still might watch a series of plays just to see the athleticism. Or i might watch the end of a contest i happened upon during surfing if the final score is in doubt. But that’s it.

i have gone to four NFL games since birth. The last one was to accompany Maureen hosting a couple, the wife a client of hers and the husband a big fan. That was 1996 or 1997. i didn’t attend anymore because between all of the idiocy on the field and in the stands and the interminable dead time for television commercials, it was boring.

They are working real hard to make the college game just as boring.

Gladiators.

Seems like old times.

i will still watch colleges games of interest to me, but other than that, i think i will pass. i love the memories of sitting on the hill of the open end of Neyland Stadium watching the Vols in their high-top shoes white pants and helmets and orange jerseys long before fans decided to wear orange — Why? As a football uniform, the old ones were cool. But the color is ugly. Flat ugly except on football uniforms. And unless i’m mistaken, about 98.8 percent of the fans didn’t play football. They bought that ugly regalia for upwards of fifty dollars. Same can be said of pretty much all college teams.

But sitting up there on that hill or in the end zone bleachers and watching the Canale brothers do their thing from the single wing  on a sun-drenched autumn afternoon awash in earth tones was magic, just magic. And it was that way at Vanderbilt’s memorial stadium when i watched Phil “The Chief” King shred defenses on yet another kick-off or punt return. Magic. Or at Castle Heights on that beautiful field later named Stroud Gwynn and now gone with some edifice of finance taking its place. Grey uniforms, maroon and gold football uniforms (oh, i thought those old gold pants were so cool they even felt cool), girls in dresses and coats and mums, the band playing the fight song, the crispness of the air, the smell in the air. And Lebanon High, my unfilled dream, somewhat mollified by watching my classmates in the cool, even cold of the Friday night autumns around Middle Tennessee because George and Virginia Harding would take me to the away games during that undefeated season (and earlier, not so good seasons) and the blue and white would march up and down and i would cheer, not just the team but the individuals who were my friends, and the cheerleaders in their bobby socks and black and white oxfords and the felt-skirts, women who i loved from afar. Magic. Magic i wish i could relive.

Today’s folks seem to thrive on what has replaced it: some homage to coaches being more important than the players, technology, statistics, unsportsmanlike conduct, trash talk. Playing the game is no longer playing the game.

And then there are all of the political correctness about names. Nick Canepa, the elder statesman of sports journalism in San Diego wrote an insightful and funny column today in the sports section of The San Diego Union-Tribune. The San Diego State University “University Senate,” some conglomeration of students and faculty voted last week to get rid of the Aztec Warrior, a mascot of the athletic teams. They also formed a task force for addressing the “appropriateness” of the Aztec’s nickname. Sad. i’ll let you read his column, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/sd-sp-canepa-sezme-aztecs-1112-story.html, if you are so inclined. i think he makes a number of good points humorously.

This political correct incorrectness and the witch hunting, devil detecting, moral turpitude digging currently engulfing our country and most of the world reminds me of another era. It may not look like it, but the judges of others, certainly not themselves, in their conduct of moral or immoral behavior was quite the thing in the Victorian Era. Oh, it was decidedly different because such policing of moral conduct was by a strict code and supposedly was for everyone everywhere. Now, the code…well, it isn’t a code. It’s sort of an individual or group’s personal interpretation of what others do that’s wrong by their standards that mushrooms into some sort of national crisis of reprehension, fueled by the media (again, both sides; but i get tired of writing i’m referring to both sides to ensure someone doesn’t think i’m taking sides).

It’s a straight path to wrong just like it was in the mid to late 1800’s. Even the NFL, which i no longer watch, is trying to police its players for moral uprightness while the owners are some of the most morally vacant folks around. Crazy.

i loved football. i loved to practice. i loved to hit people. i loved to run with abandon. i loved playing the game with sportsmanship as its backbone. Sure there was some guys who played to win including sucker punches, cheating when they didn’t think the ref was watching, employing one-upmanship on the opponents, showing off. But my joy included knocking the crap out of a runner or a defender, then helping them up, or them knocking me down and helping me up. Scoring a touchdown (very few for me) and giving the umpire the ball and running to the sideline, not celebrating in some infantile fashion because it would draw a penalty back then. Shaking hands, win or lose, with the other team and meaning it. Making decisions on the field of play because the coaches had taught me how, not turning to the sideline for the coach to tell me what to do. To play offense and defense and special teams (although they didn’t call it that back then) because it was a team sport, not some specialty, and, by the way, it required more endurance than it does now. It was not, not a game limited to behemoth, freak enormous athletic bodies trying to maim the opponent. It was a joy, a pleasure. i cried after i played what i knew would be my last game. A part of me had passed. i wouldn’t recommend it for any child or youth today. But boy, did i love it.

You know i was never a fan of the Roman gladiator period. Thought it was right stupid, not to mention cruelty of the extreme. i also don’t think highly of the Victorian period moral police.

i think we need a lot more of individuals concerning themselves with personally doing the right thing today, not entertaining themselves with cheating violence or looking for evil in people with whom they don’t happen to agree.

But then, i am old and perhaps my ideas are just as obsolete as the Romans and the Victorians.

 

Thanks, Sean of the South

Man, i’ve seen it before, heard it before, looked over it before, just like most of us: digging into the day to day trials, wondering why me? forgetting why, forgetting what i have buried underneath the pile of worries in the quest for success, money, security, running from this devil of world inhumanity, greed, and all of that political, religious, racial, cultural, national, international stuff that can make you sick to your stomach if you think about the cruelty of all of it too long. As i age, health, medical issues, dying of others and of course me add on to the pile burying simple things i forget.

Then along comes Judy Lewis Gray (who will always be Judy Lewis to me) who sends me this link (how long? ’bout six months ago, maybe even a year) to a guy who calls himself some hokey title of “Sean of the South” (like “Son of the South,” you get it, right?). But it was Judy who sent it, so i read it, and i like it. Then, she sends me another. And i read that one too. So then i sign up and every day i read it. Usually makes me feel good. That’s why it’s in my early morning routine. Need to feel good. Some of it is a little bit, just a little bit too much down home Southern, but it still feels good. After all, i’m from just a little bit north of Sean’s traipsing grounds.

And once in a while, Sean makes me stop and think about what’s important, lets me quit thinking about all the problems out there that beat me down, make me sad.

Like today, others have written it, sang it, said it before. But good ole Sean puts it right up there in my fact. And he’s right.

Life is beautiful.

Thanks, Sean…and Judy.

The Country

 

FMG

Although the regular monthly golf tournament with telephone folks has gone away, there is still one golf tradition in the Southwest corner not going away anytime soon.

Rod Stark, Marty Linville, and i began playing golf with each other in 1985 while the three of us were in our twilight military tours, Rod and i in the Navy and Marty in the Army, at the Naval Amphibious School, Coronado — of course, it has, as with all things military, been renamed because some hot shot trying to make admiral or general or get higher if he or she was already a flag officer came up with an idea for the selection board to see they were doing something: truly change for change sake (okay, enough of my whining). Regardless, the three of us often joined by Ray Boggs, my father-in-law, would play on Saturdays or Sunday.

It was tough to get weekend tee times on the four military courses, Admiral Baker North and South, Sea ‘n Air on the North Island Naval Air Station, and Miramar, then another Naval Air Station, now a Marine Corps Air Station. When we went to get tee times, many had already been taken by retired military folks, or as we called them “old farts.” Of course, they could play during the week, but they chose to take tee times on the weekend, the only time active duty could play.

So the three of us made a pact once we retired we would not play on military courses on the weekends in order for active duty to be able to play. Marty retired in ’87, i followed at the end of ’89, and Rod left active duty about two years later. Our weekend golf stopped. Rod became a club pro at the North Course in Sun City, Marty went to work for a military contractor, and i was “Mister Mom.”

Marty and i worked up a round at North Island during the week in the spring of 1991. We discussed our options. Marty had just gone on a nine-hour workday, taking off every other Friday. We decided we would play at one of the military courses every other Friday. Later, Marty went to a ten-hour workday to have every Friday off. We have been playing every Friday since then, now a tradition. We have had as few as one and as many as sixteen join us. Rod got out of the golf business, got his amateur status reinstated and joined us several years later and has been part of the the threesome fixture ever since.

We came to call it “FMG” for Friday Morning Golf. i wish i were better, more like Rod and Marty, but too many bad habits cultivated over thirty-five years keep getting in the say. i like to say my default is to the bad habits.

And of course, the Southwest corner allows to play throughout the year. Sometimes it can get a little foggy.

The first tee at Sea ‘n Air in October.

Sometimes we play elsewhere. Bonita is one of my favorite courses in the Southwest corner. i often go there to practice. Of course, the weather is terrible.

Bonita Golf Club on an Ocotober Thursday afternoon, looking the seventeenth tee from the club house.

This morning, in  spite of our usual early tee time, was particularly slow. My golf was…well, horrible. i sat on a bench by the eleventh tee box, feeling disgusted with my front nine and three putting the tenth green while we waited for the green to clear. Then i looked out  at the vista past Rod and Marty discussing club shafts. It is the tenth of November. My Pacific is just past the trees. An admiral’s house is in the background. The marine layer hangs out at sea preparing for its evening landfall. On the holiday for Veteran’s day, the North Island runway to the right is quiet. Point Loma, not visible in the photo stands under the cloud bank.

And i have found serenity here for twenty-six years…even when my golf is bad.

Some Things i Probably Shouldn’t Eat (Have Eaten)

One of the worst things about getting older is how one must limit different kinds of eats.

Tragically, some people are restricted because of health issues from the get-go. i have a number  of relatives and friends who were born with those limiting conditions. i would like to be able to describe to them some of the tastes i have had. Can’t. Just can’t do those tastes justice.

Some i probably should have avoided then and definitely should stay away from now. Aging has made me less tolerant of spicy foods and perhaps just a little bit less of an idiot.

i have a very mild condition of esophagus reflux, or acid reflux as they call it. Not good for eaters of spicy or drinkers of alcohol. i’ve done both and enjoyed them. Still do, at a risk.

Of course, there were some things i shouldn’t have eaten when i was in the Navy in foreign ports. i’m not even sure what some of them were in Turkey, Vietnam, Somalia, and especially South Korea. The one i do remember in Pusan was winter kimchi. That’s something with fish (whole fish i’m told, but i’m sure they at least scaled it) vegetables, notably leeks, and a whole bunch of other stuff. They cut up all of this stuff, added some peppers and lord knows what, put it in an earthen jug, and buried it. For the winter. Then for some reason i cannot fathom in the spring, they would dig up this jug and eat the contents, surprisingly not dying from indigestion.

i know.

Somehow in 1970, i was coerced into digesting…oops, wrong word, getting down this vile concoction. i remain stunned i still live today. Oh by the way, i have never eaten kimchi of any kind, let alone winter kimchi again.

Of course, there was “monkey meat” sold on the streets of Olangapo, the city created by the U.S. Naval Base in Subic Bay on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. We were never sure exactly what it was but it was grilled and stuck on a wooden stick. We called it “monkey meat,” but we didn’t know where it came from. And i’m not going to describe “baloots.”

And then in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, i pronounced Thai food equal to Vietnamese in hotness.

Back on this continent, Chuey’s, not the Texas chain Chuy’s, but a real Chuey, whose restaurant attracted all kinds throughout San Diego was famous for his fare. i discovered the restaurant while it was still in its first, now long gone, establishment, a white painted quonset hut just south of  the intersection of Main and  Crosby Street, which is now renamed Cesar Chavez Parkway. Jesus Garcia came across the border in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s. He was an illegal. His nickname was Chuey. In 1952, he opened the quonset hut for business. It became known as the place to get real border-Mexican food. He is as good an argument as one could make about allowing folks to come across the border. He not only ran the signature Mexican eatery in San Diego, he became a mainstay in the barrio community, a positive influence on many. He took advantage of a program in the nineties and became a U.S. citizen.

i have written of Chuey and his restaurant before. It became my place to take visitors to show them real, real, no kidding Mexican food, not that nice stuff up in Old Town, but Mexican food in Barrio Logan. i took Maureen there on a “business” lunch right after we met. i took my daughter Blythe there every time she came to stay with me.

But my favorite story was in early 1983, my entire family came out just as Maureen and i decided to get married. So of course, i decided to take them to Chuey’s for lunch.

Chuey’s food is…well, hot doesn’t quite justify what it’s like. My old friend Earl Major loved spicy food. So he loved Chuey’s. And when we went there together, he would eat something that literally would bring sweat to his brow. i’ve also seen this phenomenon with my father, my military contracting associate Don Budai, and my cousin Maxwell Martin. And i’m not talking about a little bit of perspiration. i’m talking about full blown, handkerchief soaking sweat. My favorite and what became my father’s and Earl’s favorite item on Chuey’s menu was the chili verde. That pork with green sauce was the hottest item on the menu. Hot!

My kin except for Daddy didn’t order chili verde that January 1983 lunch. They ordered milder things like chicken enchiladas and stuff. Aunt Bettye Kate Hall did not like spicy at all, so she ordered liver and onions, figuring it was safe. As the waitress took our orders, they brought out the chips, salsa, and the little bowls with sliced carrots, onions, and jalapeño peppers. We were munching on the chips and carefully tasting the salsa. Carla, Joe’s wife decided to play it safe and took a bite of an innocent looking carrot slice. She immediately said loudly, “Shit!” spitting out the offending spicy carrot slice. i still love her for that. My family of practicing Methodists, stopped breathing for a second. Then they all laughed, or at least chuckled.

As we finished our meals and Daddy and i were pulling out our handkerchiefs, we arose and moved toward the door. Aunt Bettye Kate declared, “Even the liver and onions are hot.”

It is one of my favorite memories of family dining outs and there are several of those.

Yep, Chuey’s food was hot but not the hottest.

The hottest, as in spicy, i ever ate was in Manila. It was 1975, May 7, the day Ford announced the end of the Vietnam War. The Anchorage had returned from the evacuation of South Vietnam (another story) to Subic Bay in the Philippines with the two amphibious squadrons and at least one carrier. After offloading what we had taken on during the evacuation, we were sent away. It was too crowded there. We went to Manila, arriving on the evening of May 5.

As luck would have it, i was the command duty officer (CDO) for the first day the ship had real liberty in sixty days. It was wild night. We were anchored in Manila’s harbor and our boats, worn out from the many loads and off-loads of our crazy journey from San Diego; Pearl Harbor; Iwakuni and Numazu, Japan; Okinawa; Subic; Vung Tau, Vietnam; Subic again; and finally Manila, were breaking down faster than imaginable. Liberty problems arose and the liberty boats unavailability made it a long night, a complete disaster. It would have been much worse except Chuck Parnell, our machinist warrant officer and main propulsion assistant (MPA) performed wonders, keeping at least one liberty boat running throughout the night.

Our duty day, supposedly bringing about our relief at 0800 extended until midday. Chuck and i stood relieved, changed into our civvies, caught one of the LCM8’s Chuck had wired together for the liberty boat the night before, and we went ashore without a plan, not a clue as to where we should go or what we should do.

So being good Navy officers on liberty for the first time in two months and with about three hours sleep between the two of us on our duty day, we did the natural: we wandered around the waterfront until we found a place that served lunch and beer, and i emphasize the beer. The wandering took less than five minutes. We had an American, almost, sandwich with our three or four San Miguel’s apiece. After that, we simply wandered around the streets, taking in the sights and sounds of a big, almost soulless city, stopping occasionally for another San Miguel, or as sailors have long called them, San Magoo.

As it began to turn dark, we looked for a nice place to eat dinner and found what looked to be what we were looking for and attached to a hotel. We had two days and one night of liberty before we caught the duty again. The hotel was our spot. After all, we were getting tired.

The dining room was cavernous. We were seated up front in a wrap around oval booth with table. The manager came over immediately and described the menu items. We both decided on the house special, goat on rice with vegetables on the side. And, of course, San Miguel.

That goat remains the hottest thing i’ve ever eaten. The roof of my mouth, my tongue, my digestive tract, my eyeballs, and my hair (yes, i had some then) all felt as if they were on fire. i quickly downed something along the order of four San Miguel’s, not for the beer taste or alcohol content, but something to douse the apparent fire inside or at least make it bearable. It took about two hours before i felt human.

So if you are in Manila, avoid the goat.

 

The End of a Good Time

There was one significant oversight in this post. i did not include JD Waits as a member of the foursome. JD and i were shipmates on the USS Okinawa (LPH 3) and shared the perfect bachelor’s pad, complete with a dock for JD’s sailboat, in the Coronado Cays. JD picked up golf while we were doing our things, and as with all things JD, became a golf legend. He played with our foursome after Lloyd left. When JD went back to Texas, North Carolina, and back to Texas again, my brother-in-law, then became a member of our foursome (some legends there also). Apologies, JD.

It’s over.

Oh, sure there is one more tournament in December.  But it’s sort of a token farewell with a bit of competition. And yes, the organization will continue to exist in some sort of shadow fashion of its old self, allowing some guys to keep their handicaps less expensively. And there may be an event or two during the week, unlike old times when it was always once a month on a Saturday.

But it’s over.

It ended, not with a bang, but not with a whimper either. It was the guys playing golf out in the desert for two days, just like they had been doing in late summer or early autumn for…oh, about a half-century as near as i can figure out.

i, myself have been in this outfit for about twenty-five years.

It was the “San Diego Telco (Telephone Company) Golf Association.”

How did a retired Naval officer get into a telephone company outfit?

Well, there is this guy named Jim Hileman. He showed up for my wedding in 1983. At the end of the reception. He is married to one of my wife’s best friends from high school. He worked for the telephone company. We were introduced by our wives. He apologized for being late. Said he had been playing golf. i asked him why he hadn’t invited me.

We’ve been friends ever since.

We even shared Padre season tickets for a long time because we sat together to watch Orel Hershiser break the consecutive scoreless inning record in a 16-inning game (the Padres won 1-0), discovered we were both Pittsburgh Pirate uber fans, and talked ourselves into those season tickets. But that’s another story.

Perhaps because of the Padre/Pirate affinity, Jim asked me to play golf in a tournament as a guest. i did. And then, he asked me to play in another tournament and invited my father-in-law Ray Boggs as well. All of this resulted to my first trip to the desert. In the early 90’s, i went on my first of numerous summer golf outings in the desert.

This is not necessarily a wise thing to do. However back then, various groups like the heart association, the lung organization, and the cancer organizations sold discount golf tickets. In the summer using these tickets, one could play golf in the desert essentially for cart fees. So we would go out on a weekend between late June and August. We would stay in Jim’s timeshare and play two rounds for three days. In 120 degree hot, dry heat. Hot, dry heat. From the tips, as they say. Where the pros play. Not terribly bright or healthy, but man, those big boy trips were fun, pure fun.

Somewhere in there, Jim asked me to join the association. i accepted. Jim and i have been in that foursome ever since. The other players have changed, but Jim and i have been a constant. Lloyd Lanksbury and Mike Kelly were the other two when i joined. Lloyd was one of the nicest guys i’ve ever known. He died five or six years ago. Mike Kelly, who remains an absolutely terrific and funny guy and still a very close friend of Jim Hileman (and i consider him the same) moved to Houston so he and his wife could be close to their son granddaughter.

After Lloyd, Marty Linville became a part of our foursome. Marty, Jim, and i remained until the bitter end. My brother-in-law, Dan Boggs, played with us for several years, and Pete Toennies has been with us for about ten years, give or take a few.  This last group, Jim, Marty, Pete, and i have closed it out as a group while all of us have played on Fridays (Jim occasionally) beginning with Marty and me in 1991, about the time i joined the Telco group.

It’s been a fun ride. And the trip to the desert is the only time i enjoy playing silly golf like scrambles, “1-2-3-waltz,” and several others.

The best of this group by far is “yellow ball.” This is where the foursome is given a sleeve of three yellow balls. One player alternately plays the yellow ball on each hole while the other three play a scramble. The total of the yellow ball and the scramble is the score for the hole. If the group brings back all three yellow balls, three points are reduced from the total score, two balls two points reduction, and one ball, one point reduction. When we first started playing, if you lost all three yellow balls, the team was disqualified. Even without disqualification, the format produces a great deal of puckering and arguments over which club to hit.

Long ago after one group showed up with four yellow balls at the end (they fished one out of a water hazard), the yellow balls were hand marked to prevent such shenanigans.

One year during the yellow-ball match, we hit a yellow ball into the middle of a water hazard, a large but shallow pond filled with Japanese Koi. Jim Hileman waded waste-deep into the middle of the pond and retrieved our yellow ball. He is a hero.

Banter and unrelenting nasty comments about each other’s traits are part of the tradition. We have been merciless on each other at times. Our verbal attacks would have produced major law suits in more sensitive people. We laugh and work at being more merciless than the one before. There is nothing off limits. And we love it. After all, we are in a class by ourselves as curmudgeons.

Everyone in our group has medical issues. In fact, one of the fabulous foursome, Pete Toennies had to miss the last “year ender” due to a muscle pull. After all, our youngest is 65 and our oldest (moi) is working on 74. To list those issues would make a three or four page document. We laugh at those also. Marty Linville, awarded a silver star for fighting off a Vietcong attack on his artillery battery, suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a disease that grows bad bone and fuses the spinal cord structure. Nearly all of Marty’s spinal sections are fused. He cannot raise his head and constantly looks down.  In spite of that he still plays very good golf.

But it does not get him a pass on the razzing.

On the morning of the last tournament this past weekend, one of the main drivers of the association, another Marty, this one named Marion, came up to us as we were loading our carts for the round.

“Marty,” said the Marion to the Linville, “when i got here this morning, i went through the pro shop. There was a mannequin without a head dressed up in golf attire and there was a brimmed hat on the shoulders.

“i thought it was you and said ‘hello.”

Now Marty the Linville did not get upset or cry or slug Marty the Marion. He laughed. Uproariously. So we decided to take a couple of photos to record the event:

and

And here’s the straight shot of the group. James Clark, the guy on the left, filled in for Pete. He may be the reason we finished third in the first day “1-2-3-waltz” round and first (with a card off) in the second day scramble.

The stories from our playing in this group could make a book (hmm…) and more will be told later.

But it’s gone, over, kaput.

It seems like all good things really do have to come to an end.

i’ll miss this one.

 

A Quick Take on College

i have, by my count, about a dozen posts begun but put on the back burner for various reasons. i’ve flitted from one to another, adding paragraphs, deleting whole passages, adding more, never quite finishing. Here is one i actually finished today.

i went to the San Diego State campus Tuesday morning. i have the microfiche copy of the USS Yosemite’s ship logs for the almost two years i was fortunate to serve as her XO. The logs will verify dates and significant events for the book i am trying to write about that tour.

Why i am going there to read the microfiche is a long, other story, but the SDSU library appears to the best answer.

There is this undefined thrill, feeling of being surrounded by academia, that pulses in me when i walk across any college campus. Don’t understand it considering my history, but it’s there, undeniably there and it feels good.

Every time i visit Vanderbilt, i feel it in spades. Perhaps it is because that is the spot of my academic plummet and i’ve always wanted to go back and get a degree of some time. But i’ve finally admitted it’s too late now. My daughter Blythe feels it. Only a small percentage of us has shown the grit necessary to pursue a degree after several years in the business world. It was tough. She did it. i remain proud of her for this difficult achievement. When she was showing us her campus, University of Texas, Austin several years ago, she talked about how she would love to spend her life going to school there. She said there was some special feeling about the campus, the pursuit of knowledge.

i know how she feels.

College campuses, even Vanderbilt’s, are greatly different than they were when i was in college fifty-plus years ago, than they were when i was an NROTC “associate professor” (sic) at Texas A&M.

They didn’t have skateboards back then. At state, there are students flying all over the campus, ignoring signs for safe zones where they are forbidden. Then there are the students. Diversity is much greater, which warms my heart. And of course, the attire. Oh, there are still some male students who wear sports coats and ties, but either they are headed for a job interview or it’s sort of a low humor mockery — a few SDSU boys (is it okay to call them that? i don’t want to hurt someone’s politically correct sensitivity) wore black sport coats and red ties, the school colors, while sliding past me on those skateboards.

What women wear now would have caused expulsion, not to mention one whole hell of a lot of male students flocking behind them, when i was a student.

Back then, men wore grey or blue slacks, madras shirts, sweaters, dark socks, and cordovan weejuns.  London Fog jackets were okay if it was cool. Women wore dresses, or blouses and skirts, usually flats, and even saddle oxfords with knee socks. Sweaters were the cover for cool weather.

Now, damn near everything goes. Tee shirts with profanity inscribed abound. Some women, many who shouldn’t, wear leggings. period, often with a sweatshirt. Shorts of every kind and every length has proliferated with no regard to sexual preference. Gym gear on students who don’t look they’ve ever set foot inside a gym, including watching a sport, is everywhere.

And hair. There is short hair, long hair, twisted hair, colored hair, no hair, and hats of all sorts hide hair. The one i’ve never understood is baseball caps worn backwards for…what? to keep their necks from getting sunburned? To wear because one is always facing away from the sun? The only thing i can figure out is one day, this really ugly guy trying to get some women wore his backward one day to see if he get some woman interested in him and the lemming boys decided since it was different it was cool and could attract women. Not. Stupid.

i stopped and sat on a bench in the main plaza to make a phone call. i try not to do something like that while walking. i just watched as the campus began to come alive at 8:30. And you know what? All of the differences just seemed to fade away because that feeling of the pursuit of knowledge was still there, perhaps even more so.

These young adults were after knowledge. Not all of them, of course, but most. Seeking to know, seeking to learn the way they should, could succeed in this crazy world. A bastion of knowledge, academics. Oh yeh, there are a bunch who actually believe their side of the media circus and protest instead of studying, who think they know more about how to make the world better than all of the generations before them, even when, like all of the generations before them at that age, don’t know snot.

But they are looking for a better way. They are trying just like all of those earlier college students.

And with that feeling of knowledge and academia, it’s quite all right. Quite all right.

A Fervent Wish

The front page of our newspaper this morning screamed of the idiot terrorist attack in New York City killing eight yesterday.

That doesn’t make for good breakfast reading.

Seeing the headline, i reinforced one of my wishes/hopes:

i hope every terrorist, every mass killer, every wrong doer just before they are about to die or, like sexual predators, think in that last instance, “i was really, really stupid to do this. Wish i hadn’t.”

i am afraid they won’t, but i still hope.

Ruminating, a Love Poem from a Long Time Ago

Occasionally, i will stumble upon something i filed out of place…no, not occasionally; actually quite often. Sometimes i remember this thing of mine i find. That happens frequently when it’s something i wrote. Sometimes i don’t remember. This one i remember what i wrote, but the date seems out of whack, earlier or later than when i thought i would have written such a thing. The situation for that time best remains personal, private. Still the idea of the poem and my lost time seem appropriate together.

Ruminating, a Love Poem from a Long Time Ago

ruminating while rustling through
old things in a drawer,
i came across an old watch
worn until time began to run past it:
tick tock;
it’s in the clock shop now;
the bespectacled balding man
said
he might put it in working order
in short order:
the watch holds memories.

went to an old haunt last night
after finding the watch:
people sitting around the piano bar:
no bellowing laughs,
all demure titters
appropriate for a piano bar,
titters for titillation:
sad, lonely.

walking home, taking a detour
along the beach;
deserted at night, the breakers
froth and roar;
removing my shoes,
tossing them over my shoulder,
i walk through the shallows;
the briny sea seems warmer
on my bare feet in the swirling sand.

my thoughts boil down to happiness;
you are the breakers on the sand,
the watch ticking quietly;
no titters for titillation,
pure unleashed laughter.

sand on my feet,
walking away from the froth, the roar,
respecting the immensity of the sea;
walking home, i glance at my wrist
to check the time
only to find the old watch is ticking
in the old man’s shop;
perhaps next week,
i will be able to tell the time.