All posts by James Jewell

To Blythe

This was not easy. i decided i would stick to the photos i have in my computer’s “Pictures” file. You see, there are approximately 284,321 photos of her i have in various places. One reason i have that many is i never was with her enough. For the first six years, i was deployed to the Mediterranean and the Western Pacific and when i was home, i had jobs that were not nine-to-five, but more like an average of 0500 to 1800.

Then she was with her mother and i was in other parts of the world, even though i used all my available leave time to be with her, never quite 30 days a year due to operational requirements.

Now she is in Austin, Texas, and i am in the Southwest corner.

i have never been with her enough for me, but i have never stopped loving her.

Happy Birthday, Blythe Jewell Gander. i am so proud of you for what you have been and what a wonderful woman, mother, and daughter you are now. Wish we could be with you today.

This was taken July 3, 1972, the morning after she was born at 9:37 p.m. EDT in Watertown, New York. Her mother was a trooper. Back in those days, many hospitals, including this one did not allow the fathers to be in the delivery or labor rooms. i waited on a cold bench in a small dark area. i got to see her for oh, about ten minutes afterwards, kissed her mother, and immediately called both sets of grandparents to let them know they had a granddaughter. Also back in those days, we didn’t know if she was a girl or a boy. i’m glad i had a daughter. She captured my heart then and still has it.


With her Snookers in Pacific Beach Navy Officer Housing in 1975. She had a cat, BK named after her aunt as well. She was so much fun and loved to go to Disneyland and other fun places, especially with her grandparents when they visited from Paris, Texas or Lebanon, Tennessee.





This was the last year i was the live-at-home dad. Shortly after this was taken, i headed to the Western Pacific. Except for having to leave her there, my time at Texas A&M was wonderful, primarily because of her.



After that, i would travel to Texas or take her to where ever i could during my leave time. Her mother was very good about allowing her to fly alone to be with me. She loved the rides. After this trip to Disneyland, we went to Knotts Berry Farm. She loved Montezuma’s Revenge, but when we boarded the small cockpit of the Loop Trainer and began to rotate up, she was not a happy camper. She was screaming, i was holding on to her for dear life while trying to keep toys, candy, and my camera from flying out. Afterwards, we went on a carriage ride when she told me she wanted to go back to the Loop Trainer. We did. She loved it. i loved her even more.

Every once in a while our time would include my parents. i spent 10 1/2 months of 1981 deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. In between those two deployments in August, my parents visited me in Coronado while Blythe and i were seeing the Southwest corner in my Rx7 she helped pick out.


She and my buddy, shipmate, and apartment mate, became good friends. Here, Blythe and i are at the helm of JD Waits’ sailboat on San Diego Bay.



Then she met this sailor when visiting Maureen and i and the two of them kept finding ways to be in the same place, and then in 1996, they got married. At the reception, my toast included the observation that her grandparents had an incredible marriage and i thought Blythe and Jason had the best chance of being just like Jimmy and Estelle Jewell. Her grandfather was very special to her.




Then in 2007, Samuel James Jewell Gander was born (the middle two names for her grandfather). My heart gushes when i see them together.




There are many more photos and many more tales i could tell, but i will close with letting you know she remains beautiful. She is a business success. She is creative, intelligent, and passionate about what she loves. One of the best parents who ever lived. She and Jason go so well together. And she also takes wonderful care of her mother.

i love you, Blythe Jewell Gander. Happy Birthday.

Murphy’s Law

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

Tenth Law for Naive Engineers: Interchangeable parts won’t.

Goofy guy’s realization from the Tenth Law for Naive Engineers: I didn’t finish my degree in Civil Engineering, but i certainly am further along than a “naive engineer” if  they don’t recognized interchangeable parts won’t.

Purest? But Certainly a Pure Delight

Once upon a time, sports fans had their heroes. Many were considered such because of their prodigious athletic feats while the sports journalists of their era overlooked all sorts of things these heroes did that would have raised eyebrows if not hostility.

Now, sports phenomenons are viewed with a spyglass for indiscretions or even politically incorrect statements or bad behavior. Those who are on “our” team are reprieved, forgiven; those on the opposition teams are lambasted, reviled.

There are others in this guy’s category: a tremendous athlete in his sport who loved the game because he played it right and was a good guy on and off the field.

Granted, i was privileged to watch him for most of his career and consequently find him a treasure. i will not argue about “greatest pure hitter” because there are so many who rival him in that category and the state of the game and the sophistication have changed, making such comparisons ridiculous.

But folks, Tony Gwynn was a treasure, not just for baseball fans in the Southwest corner, but for the game of baseball and for all of us to admire and learn from on how to go about our business, our passions, and our relationships with everyone else.

He also was loyal. He turned down numerous more lucrative offers to remain a San Diego Padre for his entire career. This by the way gained him the eternal ire of the MLB union more focused on their members making money than the spirit of the game. When he retired he went back to his alma mater to coach the San Diego State Aztec baseball team.

Man, i would like to see him at  bat one more time. i recall a moment in the NL playoffs and actually found the moment on Youtube when Joe Morgan, a great hitter himself for the Big Red Machine of the 60’s, the color commentator caught the brilliance of Gwynn when he hit a double off the Big Unit Randy Johnson, the 6-10 lefthander with a wicked fastball and an even nastier slider which Gwynn promptly deposited down the left field line to propel the Padres over the Astros in an NL division playoff game in 1998.

So if you have a minute or two and want to watch not only greatness but a good man do his thing, here’s something i tripped upon today:

Not Quite the Same

Almost every year when i resumed writing on a regular basis, every year tomorrow received a lot of my attention.

Gotta tell you, i’m not too much into it this year. i’m chastened. No, i feel handcuffed. Writing is hard in these times as i feel whatever i write some friend will take offense. Pious posturing? Perhaps. i don’t know and i will not question anyone’s motive or stance. But trying to write the right thing nowadays is one hell of a lot harder than it used to be.

Although my golf is still restricted, i did chip and putt at the Miramar Memorial Golf Course this morning. You remember Miramar, don’t  you? They filmed “Top Gun” there. The base is all Marine now. Top Gun is, or was, in Fallon, Nevada. i don’t know if they still have it.

My golfing buddies joined me for a beer after they finished their round, my retired military buddies, curmudgeons in the truest sense, a group of folks we’ve assembled over the years who call each other “asshole” and mean it as a complement. i don’t worry what i say to them. We will remain close friends.

When i got home, i sat down to write and found it just wasn’t there. i sort of struggled through the rest of the day, tried to read something pleasant and did read a bit before just giving it up. As Maureen headed for bed, i went out to this backyard with the intention of reading a bit more, or writing something just for me. That always seems to help. i put the crusty old iPod onto Dvořák and the Handel’s “Water Music.” Hoping for solace, i guess. It sorta worked.

Then, i heard the muffled fireworks from a distant celebration. Wrong day, of course, but that seems to be the norm today. After all, we have added days to the celebration, not for honoring independence but giving everyone more time to party.

Tomorrow, we will visit neighbors for a while in the appropriate safe mode. But the day will be mostly quiet. i might even do some chores. i will hear more fireworks i’m sure.

Mostly,  i hope some folks will actually read our Declaration of Independence and not attack the writers for their sins or hold them up as superheroes, but read it for the ideas they expressed. Their views were limited by time and space and a culture that discriminated as it did in all cultures back then. But read it for the idea of independence and equality they put on parchment and signed, and…well, they said it better than i:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In closing, i will quote Major Kenneth Morgan, professor of Latin 101 and 102 at Castle Heights Military Academy who told my class his definition of “Freedom:”

Freedom is the ability to do anything you want to do as long it does not take away someone else’s freedom.

May you have a wonderful and thoughtful Independence Day.

Eighty-Two and Counting

It rained. They moved the service inside. Her grandfather, by then a bishop, performed the ceremony. His father made his last public appearance before succumbing to tuberculosis a half-year later.

He had courted her in the car he had reconstructed after he bought it for ten dollars from a Cumberland University Law student, rebuilding the engine and putting on a wood chassis while he was in high school.

He had quit high school in 1934 before his senior year to work at an automobile dealership to support his family after his father could no longer work.

After she had graduated from high school, she had refused an offer to play for the Nashville Business College’s AAU Women’s Basketball team because she knew some other girls in town had their eye on him, and she didn’t want to risk losing him.

It was July 2, 1938 at the First Methodist Church on East Main in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Today is the eighty-second anniversary of their wedding. They were here through seventy-five of those. He passed away forty-three days after that. She hung around for nine more months before joining him.

i will always miss them.

Estelle Prichard and Jimmy Jewell in Shelby Park, Nashville, 1937:

Jimmy and Estelle Jewell, 2012: