Photos for Family-2


As you can see, i still haven’t resolved a better way to get these photos to family. One comment: The one of Blythe the day she was born is a little worn. i carried it in my billfold until i quit carrying photos in my billfold. i had culled all of the others and it was the only one for years, but i finally decided i would completely ruin it and took it out. It was a great day, July 7, 1972.

Uncle Eulyss Lawrence of Gotha, Florida and citrus groves with the goofy kid, 1944.
Blythe, my heart still.










My father with me and Johnny and Pipey Orr in their backyard, Greenwich Avenue, Red Bank, Tennessee. circa 1961
Goofy kid when he had hair. 1952.
Wedding day with Martha and Joe. Paris, Texas. May 22, 1971.
Cousins goofy kid, sweet Martha, beautiful Nancy, and good guy Johnny. i betting it was Easter, circa 1948.
A repeat. Gulfport, MS, May 1944. The two adults in this photo could move mountains if they had wanted to.
Goofy kid. It’s scary to think i once again look like this except i think he had more hair then.

To Maureen on Our Painting i Bought in Hong Kong

On a roll i am.

Daylight Silly Time could have done it. i don’t know. i do know i did the taxes today. i filed away a whole bunch of stuff. i entered a few posts, including a chapter of my book. i organized. i filed. i threw away stuff, lots of stuff, paper mostly. i watched a little golf. Then toward the end of the day, i pulled out a folder labeled “False Starts.” Damn, i wrote a lot of crap. But amongst the throwaways, i found a couple worth saving. 

One was to Maureen i wrote in 1988. On my last Navy port visit to Hong Kong in 1981, i went  to a market area on the Kowloon side close to the Star Ferry pier. i stumbled around and ended up in an art studio. i saw this painting and was entranced. i bought it. i don’t remember what it cost, but it was likely a good deal. It wasn’t Stanley Market good, but it wasn’t outrageous. i had it framed cheaply and it was in my home office of our first home.

When we moved it went into hiding. But i pulled it out a year or so ago, and Maureen agreed it would look good in our living room. She had it reframed. The photo here doesn’t do it justice, but it did prompt me to write this poem one night years ago

you sleep in the next room;
i, tired from weekend tasks
start to bed but stop
to look at Lisi Tang’s painting
striking me as a “lonely” painting;
a beautiful tribute
to the loneliness of
the vast and omnipotent sea
there are two gulls,
beautiful in their flight together,
graceful, in syncopation,
juxtaposed against the vastness of the sea;
i see us, the gulls,
flying into the mist of the morning sea
aware of its vastness, its cruelty
flying toward infinity together:
a significant moment:
the two of us
on the sea of time.

Chapter 2: Relieving the Watch

I was saluted when I crossed the brow and reported aboard to the quarterdeck watch. As the OOD called the exec and the captain, the messenger of the watch immediately escorted me up to the 01 Level, starboard side, just aft of the wardroom to the Executive Officer’s Office and stateroom. Commander Brian Sheffield rose to meet me. Brian was an affable, chubby man with thinning red hair.

*     *     *

Earlier, I had learned Brian and the previous CO, Captain Tim Roberts were TARS (Training and Administration of Reserves). A TAR officer was primarily responsible for being active duty administrators of reserve programs. Their duty stations alternated between reserve commands and non-reserve assignments, occasionally on normal at-sea duty.

In 1972 when I had requested return to active duty while I was sports editor of the Watertown (NY) Daily Times, my Bureau of Personnel (BUPERS) liaison had recommended I go TAR. Such a decision would almost guarantee my acceptance he told me. But I wanted to go back to sea, not administer reserves. I wasn’t all that fond of the Naval Reserve. Getting accepted for returning to active duty as a surface warfare officer was a much tougher proposition. In the end in large part because Captain Max Lasell, my second CO aboard my first ship, USS Hawkins (DD-873), made a special presentation on my behalf before the acceptance board, I was one of six accepted to return to active duty as a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO).

Having spent a year in reserves after flunking out of Vanderbilt and losing my NROTC scholarship, and almost two years as an officer in the Watertown, New York Reserve Unit, I was not overly enthusiastic about the TAR program. I realized that was a prejudice I had to overcome. Regardless, I was genuinely relieved when I learned Captain Boyle was not a TAR, and in fact a successful surface warfare officer whose had been a senior examiner of the Atlantic’s Propulsion Examining Board, and before reporting to Yosemite, had been the chief staff officer for Commander, Destroyer Squadron Two.

Brian laid out the relieving process schedule for me. It would be short. Brian needed to take off for leave and his new duty station by Tuesday, August 16. Only two working days to complete the relieving process.

I was fine with that. I hated long reliefs, which many relieving XO’s, or any officer for any billet used as a means to cover their act, to validate anything wrong that had happened on the previous watch. I always had been inclined to a short meeting with subordinates and an inspection of spaces. If there was anything wrong, I was inclined to fix it later rather than shift the blame back to the previous regime. This time, I had two full working days and the weekend to be briefed by seven department heads and five others in charge of special programs.

First, I had to meet the commanding officer and then spend most of that first working day with Brian getting the lowdown on the state of the ship.

Brian escorted me up the flight of “stairs” to the Captain’s cabin – I thought as I climbed the steps amidst the immaculately clean landing area just outside my new office referred to as “Times Square” by the crew. Even though all stairs were called “ladders” in the Navy, these up to the 02 level and the captain’s cabin were “stairs” in the truest sense of the word. Immaculate and polished to the Nth degree.

Brian introduced me to Captain Boyle and left us alone. The ten minutes were polite, exploratory, and a bit guarded on both sides I thought. I assured the captain my primary function was to support and echo the policies and philosophy of my commanding officer. Leaving, I felt Captain Boyle had been guardedly succinct. He struck me as old school Navy and a stickler for protocol. I was fine with that. In fact, I preferred it.

Captain Boyle’s primary concern was getting the ship ready for the deployment. That jived with what I considered most important. The question of women on board did not come up in that first short meeting.

At least, he accepted my explanation for needing a haircut. Immediately after that meeting, I went to the ship’s barbershop and got a Navy regulation haircut. I felt better.

The briefings from department heads, special programs, and the command master chief were brief. I initially was pleased with the professionalism of the department officers.

The deck and engineering department heads were Limited Duty Officers (LDO’s). I had the greatest respect for these former-enlisted officers. I came to rely upon both of these two, George Sitton, the First Lieutenant, and Ken Clausen, the Chief Engineer, especially when it came to ship operations.

Commander Tim Allega was obviously a very capable Supply type. I assessed his ability to run a good supply department as superb. CDR Ed Wicklander, Repair Department head, was an EDO (Engineer Duty Officer). Ed obviously was excellent at leading a repair organization. The Supply and Repair departments were almost separate fiefdoms from a combatant ship’s operation and headed by commanders, I recognized they would be pretty much independent from me except when I would have to demonstrate who was in charge. Repair certainly was different from ships in my experience. Ed had a straight line to the captain, bypassing the executive officer. I wondered how that would work, particularly while on deployment.

LT Steve Stresminski, a TAR ran the Weapons Department. He struck me as a superb choice. Although a TAR, he had qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer, and our interview revealed he was more than just competent.

Admin was run by another but more junior LDO, Ensign Mike Jackson. This department was the right hand of any XO. Mike and his chief yeoman, YNC Lucy Gwinner, made me comfortable knowing they would have a personal as well as professional positive relationship with me.

The operations department, Kathy Rondeau, was led by the only female department head. Operations on a tender is not as complicated as one on a combatant. I was not overly concerned and Kathy demonstrated she had a good grasp of her department and was a sharp, responsible officer. I was fine with that.

Master Chief Joe Weaver was an old salt and the Command Master Chief. He was the captain and exec’s link to the enlisted. With Master Chief Weaver being an old boatswainmate, I felt the “Navy way” would be at the heart of his unique position between the crew and the command.

The Dental department was run by a dentist, CDR Bruce Janek. I got a quick briefing from the chief corpsman, HMC Charlie Benda for the Medical department. The new medical officer, LT Frank Kerrigan had just reported aboard. These two departments also were fairly independent. I knew I would have to pay attention to their military responsibilities, but they seemed to be running smoothly.

I spent Saturday and Sunday settling into my new office and adjoining stateroom forward. In addition to determining what I needed in office and personal supplies, I researched other aspects of becoming the exec, like checking instructions and ensuring I understood the SURFLANT policy on substance abuse. I also began a rudimentary “command tickler” where I would have a list of all important command functions and requirements well in advance of when they would occur.

*     *     *

On Saturday evening, the wardroom held a traditional “Hail and Farewell” party at “Dento’s” (CDR Janek) home. I met Frank and Jan Kerrigan for the first time. Both doctors had recently received their medical degrees from the University of Chicago. While Frank was taking over the Medical department, Jan was assigned to the base clinic.

Sunday evening, I dined with the Captain, his wife Mary Ellen, and their young son, Sean.

Monday continued with briefs from all of the special programs. Tuesday was nearly all about relieving CDR Sheffield. The two of us signed what seemed like an endless pile of papers transferring duties and responsibilities from the old XO to the new one. The two of us had little discussion about the women aboard. Brian briefed me on some special rules such as any enlisted woman becoming pregnant was to be immediately transferred to a temporary duty shore station (the term in the Navy was “Temporary Additional Duty” or “TAD”).

Then, we took the papers to Captain Boyle who made it all official by signing his agreement to the transfer of responsibility.

CDR Sheffield departed the ship at 1500.

I was the executive officer of the USS Yosemite (AD 19).

Photos for Family

i can’t find “albums” on Facebook any more, so i am using this to get photos out to our extended family. i may end up using dropbox but for now, i am  using my website. This is one of about what seems like thousands of small boxes with photos from various times. The two of Martha are priceless.

A happier Martha.
Martha quite a while ago.









Mister Grumpy, 1944
The goofy guy with cousins Nancy and Johnny Orr, circa 1947.









Eze, France on our trip to Monte Carlo, courtesy of Maureen’s work performance, 1993. Eze would be one place i would like to visit again.

“Murphy’s Law”

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

Murphy’s Fourth Corollary: Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.

Goofy guy’s admission concerning Murphy’s Fourth Corollary: It took over three hours to post this this morning as i kept having to do something first…no, make that four: i forgot about Daylight Silly Time.

David Brooks, Tom Bradley, and i: Like Minds

First off, thank you, Tom Bradley.

i read David Brooks with regularity, but somehow had not read this one yet. i found his book, Bobos in Paradise, as engaging and insightful as Frederick Lewis Allen’s Only Yesterday,  a wonderful commentary on the 1920’s, which captivated me during my college years. Maureen and i watch “PBS News Hour” every Friday because Brooks seems to always be a voice of reason, at least one that resonates with me.

And in this article Tom posted on Facebook, Brooks nailed it:

i have been trying to express the thoughts Brooks writes about in this column in my writing and in my discussions with others. i am not close to being as articulate as David Brooks, but folks, this column is exactly how i feel about where we are, where we are going, and how we might change it. i didn’t realize i am a moderate, but if Brooks says his comments are for the moderates, well, i is one.

i am not too optimistic about how we might change it. The elephants on the right and left are thumping big time and their lemming followers are thumping with their elephant. Anyone who raises a difference of opinion is most likely to get stomped to death. The tribes  are not interested in considering another opinion. They have drawn their lines in the sand. Their desire to wipe out the other side has all the potential for destroying the real greatness of America the Beautiful. No, not “MAGA,”that is only for one of the tribes.

i am coming more and more to believe, as i watch, read, and listen, it is too late.

Thank you, Mister Brooks, and again, thank you, Tom Bradley, for putting out what i believe is our only hope.

fantasy: it really didn’t happen that way

It seems the more i try to clean out and organize, the more clutter i create. The workshop in my garage is almost to the point i can’t walk through it. But then, there are some gems. Like i found this poem i wrote in October 1982. It was the time when Maureen’s and my relationship had grown into something serious. In four months, we would be engaged. In nine months, we would be married. And come to think of it, maybe it really wasn’t a fantasy.

a fantasy; it really didn’t happen that way

lie close, lie still;
do not touch; do not touch;
the full moon whispers
whiteness to the clouds:
it is cold; it is hot;
sweat beads on my brow
matting the thinning fringes of hair;
do not touch; do not touch;
the bed and us are detached,
hanging suspended from the mirrored windowed room;
dog walkers pass below the bay window
talking prattle;
cars ease away from and close to the curbs;
we steal the conversations, the dog yapping
at the cars curbing
from the still night air
strange the wind lies dormant
in this sailboat community, mercedes encrusted beachfront
where it should always have
wind for sailing with properly tanned people
drinking martinis cocked at the proper angle;
where’s the wind? where’s the wind?
do not decide to bring your breeze now;
lie still; lie still;
do not touch; do not touch:
for if we touch, the mood will shift to another rapture;
for now, let’s lie
silhouetted against the ghostly white sheet
below the whispering moon, white clouds,
above prattling walkers, yapping dogs, curbing cars;
lie close; lie still;

In the same shoe box, i found a wedding card from Ray Boggs. Maureen’s father was famous for his gift wrappings and his card. i can seem him poring over a bin of cards to find the right one…and he did.






And in another box, i found this  telegram:

My Aunt Naomi sent this to my father (it was in the box my father gave to me of his keepsakes from the war). When he received it, his buddies gave him their liberty passes so he could cobble enough liberty passes together to catch a train to Lebanon, be there for my birth (more stories), and return to Gulfport before being declared “UA” (an unauthorized absence). i still marvel at that time of uncertainty and personal sacrifice and how they all did what was necessary to make it work.

i may not be getting closer to organized.

But damn, it’s fun.


Ramblings of a Mildly Soaked Vagabond

Tuesday, a typical Southwest corner winter day snuck between the rolling storms from the Pacific.

It has been a while. Back years ago, i expected with justification about thirty damp, rainy days clustered together sometime between November and March. For a number of years, with those belonging to el niña being the exceptions, it has been dry winters.

Not this year. The rainy season is working hard on two months. The weather guessers say it will end sometime next week. i’m not betting on it. But there are good signs. Like Tuesday.

Now before continuing, i wish to pronounce i’m not complaining. Compared to the rest of the country, the Southwest corner comes out okay. i watch the news of the extreme weather in my old haunts north and south, east of the Mississippi and feel sad for those who have been caught in the catastrophes. The past two months in the Southwest corner have produced a bit of discomfort but nothing compared to back east.

Tuesday, we got a reminder of our weather. When i write “we,” i’m talking about my golfing buddies, Rod Stark, Marty Linville, and Pete Toennies. The four of us played Sea ‘n Air, the Navy’s course on the Naval Air Station, North Island. It was in the 60’s with a breeze and clear, San Diego all around us, the Pacific in clarity to our west so clear the Los Coronados Islands stand out on the horizon. There are no photos of that day. i posted enough photos of San Diego in its glory. That was a respite.

And even though the dark clouds were rolling across the heavens Monday night, i received a harbinger of what was to come. i was grilling pollo asada for a Maureen dinner delight. The sunset on our hill above was going to be spectacular, perhaps even a green flash possible, but i had chores to tend to, like grilling.

Even the backyard in its seemingly endless state of repair, glowed in the last moments of sunset.

Grilling at this time of day is one of the more relaxing moments in my life. The world is mine and with my iPod and bluetooth speakers, i’m listening to my favorites, enjoying the evening setting in, and perhaps a glass of wine.

The clouds send their ominous warning, but before the setting of the sun, there is another moment of reflection: looking east, the glow off the neighbors’ Mexican fan palms give hope.

Darkness from the east and clouds from the west capture the night from the sun. Twilight is gone. And in the last throes of my grilling, i am greeted by a familiar whir to me. In the clouds directly overhead, i her ear the thump, thump, thump of rotor blades. The sound was not up close like it had so many times on flight decks, or over them, on my ships of the past. i look up and sea the Navy helicopter a whirring east, probably some pilot trying to make sure he has completed the required flight hours for the month. But impressive never the less, symbolic even, the clouds setting in, but the helo there as if protecting us from something worse, much worse.

The dinner was delicious, and we had a fire in the hearth. The world was good. And i played golf in damn near perfect weather.

With rain predicted on Wednesday, we said the heck with it and went to the zoo, my getaway place like Bugs Bunny’s briar patch. Even the orangutans had figured out how to ward off the rain. But it wasn’t bad, almost pleasant. If you are a zoo person as i am, Sarah more so, Maureen appreciative but not nutty like Sarah and i, you like going in weather like this. The nice weather thousands in the Southwest corner don’t go. The crowds are few and this time in the cloudy weather, many more of the animals were out for us to see.

And the zoo was the zoo. Always different. Always see something new. Always hit the spots we love. Like Albert’s, the restaurant in the middle of the zoo that makes you feel like you are on a safari. We even sat outside our favorite. i was blessed with two beautiful women as my companions.

It was a short visit. The kind i like. That all day thing can wear you out. Twenty years and more ago, one of my favorite things was to pick Sarah up at elementary school and get there about four. For an hour, we would go to see a half dozen or more exhibits we wanted to see that day (Sarah would always want to go the bat exhibit first). The newbie folks or tourists had been there all day: the kids were grumpy and tired, many asleep on a shoulder or in a stroller. The adults were worn out. We would pass them with Sarah on my shoulders and we were singing and laughing or excited about something we saw. All those other folks would look at us like we had lost our minds. Fun.

But this trip was even more special. We ran into, of all things, several groups of young women with black athletic gear. It was the Vanderbilt women’s lacrosse team, currently undefeated and playing San Diego State tomorrow night. We explained our connection. And, and Sarah took a picture.

And guess where i’m going to be tomorrow night?

Anchor Down!

The Tech World Bit Me Again

This started out with a “Sean of the South” post i wanted to share with my wife, my sister Martha Duff, and Maren Hicks. i thought of some others and decided to repost it here:

But as i was working on the email before determining it should be a post, i decided to once again straighten out my account with PayPal. It has been hosed up since my friend Alan Hicks transferred some money to me via PayPal for his share of the condo we rented in Scottsdale with Alan’s brother Jim Hicks where we spent a weekend of Vanderbilt baseball.

PayPal’s website kept giving me a notice something was screwy with my account and i needed a new password. It turned out the password generator i used generated a most secure password but it was too long for PayPal to digest. i tried about forty times before i began to call them. So as i was waiting for a half-hour to get to a human, i wrote this email, which is now the other half of this post:

i thought you three would enjoy this while i listen to the most awful phone muzak on-hold music ever known to man, modern or otherwise, because i am afraid to hang up and have them call me because this is my sixth attempt to talk to a human being at PayPal in their office somewhere in outer space not fully manned because of inclement weather and they have cut me off two times , and some nice woman from some foreign country who i could not understand and i’m pretty sure she couldn’t understand me put me on hold with a bunch of clicks and voices in the background before she transferred me to eBay who tried to set me up with some guy named principle or something and then the eBay folks transferred me back to PayPal and i had to start over again and then they said they would call me back so i thought no-way, ain’t taking that chance and, hence the muzak that even the dog couldn’t bear and left the room and i wished i could for over a half hour for someone on the depleted staff in someplace far away with inclement weather to actually turn off that damn muzak and talk to me.

She finally did cut it off and talk and we finally got it straightened out but not in the way i originally desired because you can’t do those sort of things like having a password too long because PayPal apparently thinks they are special and do things differently and it only took me about two hours to resolve something that should have taken five minutes, but that is okay because i will not use their services again unless i want to listen to the most awful muzak on-hold music ever known to man and my account will lie there fallow with my hope it gets them screwed up like they did to my phone number, which quite possibly was the real problem in the first place.

But Sean had a very nice article, and i too love fires in the hearth, especially in a cabin in the woods even with coyotes, and i am a huge fan of cast iron skillets of all kinds.

And oh yes, ESPN’s muzak for waiting through never ending commercials you can’t see when streaming rivals PayPal’s.