Friday, October 31, 2014

The retired strippers home

Food shopping and I was going through the checkout and as usual the clerk asked me if I wanted to contribute to the United Way and as I generally do I said that I give to the Retired Strippers Home.

She apparently wasn't too  bright and asked me about the place which, of course, does not exist. I told her it was to provide for strippers when they became too old to shake their goods in front of people. 

:It is a public service and saves the eyes of a lot of men because there comes a time when a stripper stops being eye candy and starts becoming an eyesore," I said. "The home gets her out of the public eye,"

The woman behind me, she looked to be about fifty, was suppressing a smirk. I turned to her and saw she was still fairly attractive.

"You would be ineligible to go there," I said.

"Oh? Why is that?" she asked, somewhat warily.

"Because you're still really quite a pleasant eyeful," I said. "You have a long way to go before you're eligible."

She blushed a bit and her face lit up. "Why, thank you," she said.

About twenty minutes earlier I had crossed paths with another woman pushing a cart. While there was no near collision or anything, I was polite as I usually am. "Excuse me, young lady," I said as I crossed paths. She smiled when she hear it.

Some dopey looking guy with her spoke up. "That's my wife," he said. "What did you call her?"

"Young lady," I replied. "She's certainly younger than I am and seems to be a lady."

"Yeah," he shot back. "Well, I don't like it."

"That is because you want to sleep on the couch tonight," I replied casually and started off. I wasn't ten feet away when I heard the two of them start bickering. 

"So what am I, an old broad?" I heard the woman ask her husband. She was pretty irate and embarrassed. I figured he was going to wind up on the couch. I had called that one.

A couple years back in Philly I had a similar thing happen with an Islamic woman. (They could have been Christian, Jewish or Hindu for all I cared) All I said to her was 'Excuse me," and left it at that. Her husband demanded to know what I said and I told him and he tried to say something to me about it.

"Sir, I am an American gentleman," I said. "I treat everyone including people's pets with courtesy and respect. That means everyone. Including your wife and children."

"I'm from..." he started.

I cut him off. "You're far away from there," I countered. "You're in the States now. Learn your manners. You left where you came from to come here. Learn our ways. They are the reason you came here. You didn't like the old country. If you don't like the States go back to where you came from or find somewhere else to live."

He didn't know what to say.

"We are a kind and generous people," I said. "We are either your best friend or worst enemy and the choice is generally left entirely up to you. My mother raised me to be kind and generous and the army trained me to fight for those that can't fight for themselves. How I respond to you is your choice." Then I smiled warmly.

"I'd just as soon be kind to you," I finished. "It is a whole lot easier."

I tipped my ball cap to the lady. "Good day, Ma'am," I said and turned to the man and nodded. "Good day, Sir." With that I left to go about my business.







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Thursday, October 30, 2014

I just got me the music for my upcoming church service.

I had a kindred spirit make me a CD of some pretty good Gospel music, most of which actually comes from the black community. It's pretty lively and ought to serve for giving me a background for a pretty good tent revival type service.

What this is about is that there is a shoot of sorts I sometimes attend. The nearest neighbor is constantly calling the local law enforcement people to shut us down. They have been there any number of times and have had only good things to say about the way things are run.

The neighbor objects to the noise, apparently. Truth is he brought it on himself when the landowner bought the land. He came over and gave the new owner a hard time rather than simply trying to be civil. The issue has been in and out of court a couple of times and the neighbor has lost. The neighbor has also apparently perjured himself in his effort to get things shut down. 

I suppose these things happen but what irked me at my most recent attendance were the signs the neighbor put up that I read on the way in and out. They said that we should go back the hell which is where we came from among other things. There were also references to Sunday being the Lord's day.

Apparently the neighbor fails to realize that almost all of us are basically good Judeo-Christian men even though we may not look a whole lot like it.

Incidentally, there is a church in the distance and they are inside of hearing range during the winter and fall so we secure range operations Sunday mornings until they let out.

I was offered the job of putting together a service when someone noticed the sticker on my pickup that says I am a minister. I was instantly appointed chaplain and asked to put together a service.

I agreed but made it clear that it will be a bona fide service, open to all religions and with a Judeo-Christian bent to it.

It ought to be pretty good because I plan it to be a lively service with music and an ad-lib sermon celebrating the day the Lord has given us, rain or shine.

It should serve as a reminder to the neighbor that he has no business posting those offensive signs calling us devil worshipers.

Quite frankly, I think he's going to call the police on us yet again over this but I really don't care. The right  to conduct divine services is protected by the First Amendment.

To tell you the truth, I hope the police ARE called. They are getting tired of this guy and his antics and will likely take satisfaction telling him that divine services are protected by the First Amendment and to simply stop whining.

I just thought of something as I end this epistle. 

I'm now a officially an appointed Sky Pilot. 

Cool!

For those that are not familiar with the term, a sky pilot is a chaplain. The term comes from the Royal Navy. There were and still are people with local knowledge of certain waters that are hired to pilot ships through them. They are called ship's pilots. 

Royal Navy sailors started calling chaplains sky pilots because they figured they knew the way to heaven.

It's a charming term when used in the proper context that is seldom heard anymore. It's too bad in a way.

Back when I was in the service I referred to the DivArty chaplain (a tough Jesuit, no less) as a sky pilot and he grinned. He was a tough old bird.

Also after I got out I met a retired Navy chaplain that once referred to himself as being a 25-year Navy Sky Pilot. He was pretty funny when he confessed he liked being assigned to the Marines. 

"Up front, good old fashioned sinners," he grinned.

Anyway I'll keep you posted when I get around to holding my service. 












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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I remember the time

 we had a Russian ship pull into Kodiak for some reason or another. It turned into a pretty good party if I recall.

I believe that this was before the Berlin Wall was torn down but I may be wrong.

Still, I remember that there was a political officer of some sort that was wandering through the bars watching and listening to the guys off of his ship. He was a real wet blanket because when he walked in the Russian sailors got pretty quiet pretty fast.

Along came a certain somebody that befriended the guy and somehow managed to get a couple of drinks into him and relax him enough to drop his guard. That seemed to be all it took. I don't know what he did to the guy but he passed out and was left on the dock at the end of the Russian ship's  gangway. That's when things in the bars began to cook.

Work of the political officer being taken out of the equation really got things cooking. Word went through the Russian sailors ashore like wildfire. Let the party begin!

I like the retelling of the tale because as it got retold time and again I believe the story grew to where they took the passed out officer somewhere and tattooed the Stars and Stripes on his chest.

Then again maybe they DID tattoo the bastard! I don't know. I always hoped they did.

Still, I remember I had nothing special to do that day and enjoyed having a couple with a bunch of Rooski sailors. It was a lot of fun.

If I recall the Russians started running out of money quickly as they didn't get paid nearly as much as we did. That didn't slow things down much. The fishing fleet was in and they were flush and had plenty of cash to blow on a good party.

The truth is that I'd bet that the fishermen of the Kodiak fleet did more for grass roots international relations in a day than anyone in Foggy Bottom could in months. I'm sure the Russian sailors had a blast.

I kind of liked those guys. They were all right as far as I could see. Then again sailors are all cut from the same cloth.

Now that I think about it we'd all be a whole lot better off if we were more careful aout who we let run our countries. Generally it's governments that start all this crap in the first place.

Maybe we ought to elect drunken sailors to public office. At least when drunken sailors run out of money they stop spending it.






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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I just bought a fedora

 because I am thinking of taking my old look back. I tried it on and it looks pretty good.

Between the mid 70s and sometime around 1983 my basic uniform was a pair of Levi 501s, a khaki shirt, an old G-1 Navy leather flight jacket and a fedora. For a while I traded the fedora for some kind of a western hat. However after some broad in a bar stole my western hat. I returned to the fedora.

In 1983 or so Indiana Jones came along and I had to change my uniform because everyone said I was dressing like him even though he was dressing like me. It was a look I had gotten from the 40s and early 50s which is pretty much where Speilberg got Indy's look from.

A good fedora is a neat hat that you can be anyone in. You can be an explorer, a swashbuckler, an archeologist, a 40s truck driver, a soldier of fortune, a gangster, Clark Kent, a private eye, a moonshiner, a reporter, or even a police detective.

Dick Tracy never caught a disfigured criminal character without his on and the only time it ever came off was when Prune Face (or was it Knot Head) shot a hole in it.

The possibilities of who you can be in a fedora are endless. 

Or you can just simply be an ordinary guy like me.

I originally got the look from the generation behind me, my dad's. The leather jacket and fedora was a common uniform of former flyboys in the late 40s and early 50s. Back then men wore hats. Somewhere I saw an old picture of my dad in his Air Corps leather jacket and a fedora, circa 1947.

When I got off of the airplane from Alaska in a visit home back in '82 my dad laughed and commented I reminded him of himself back when he got out of the service. He had picked me up at the airport when he said that.

When we got home, my mother commented that I looked like my father did sometimes thirty years ago. Actually she added my fedora was pretty grubby and dad would never be caught dead in such a ratty hat. Dad was a little more of a natty dresser than I was. She later took me out and bought me a new one.

It was the last time I ever saw him alive and the year before Raiders of the Lost Ark came out.

The look came from countless movies, pulps and comic books. It's sort of a retro 40s thing.

It's been a long time since Indy stole my look. Thirty odd years is a long time. 

I think now is the time for me to take back into my Old School uniform again. 

Screw Indiana Jones. I'm taking my look back.




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Monday, October 27, 2014

Buy your own.



I always got a kick out of the college kid that went fishing with us one halibut opening and started trying to tell the skipper where he thought we ought to fish.

He thought he had joined up into some kind of democratic venture where everything gets voted on by the crew. Or at least he acted like it.

The first time the skipper listened to him and acted interested and receptive to his ideas. When the kid was finished, the skipper simply said, "Buy your own."

I always wonder about people like the kid.

They have nothing invested in something yet they insist on telling someone that does how to run someone else's  operation.

This was in the early 80s and the skipper/owner had a million bucks tied up in his boat and about the same tied up in gear. The kid had a $10 crewman's fishing license tied up as his investment and even then it wasn't the boat's license. It was the kid's and he could take it anywhere he wanted. He had the option of simply staying ashore and done something else had he chosen to and all he would have lost is his lousy ten bucks. Or he could have simply found another boat to fish on.

The skipper had no such option if he wanted to keep his boat and gear. He had to work it. If no fish are caught then boat payments are not met and he loses everything.

During the trip the skipper asked me for an idea or two which was his option. Truth is it was pretty much rhetorical and I knew it. I knew he just wanted to get his brain flowing. I shared a couple ideas and left it at that. I really didn't have much useful to give him and I knew it. He was simply brainstorming.

Some skippers do that from time to time. They ask the greenest crewmember for suggestions figuring that in their ignorance might uncover something they have been overlooking for years. It's looking for a fresh point of view.  I've done it myself.

When it was all over and done with, I walked away from the trip with a pretty good sized chunk of change and the skipper made his payments.

He gets the credit for that and that's the way it is. He made the call as to where we fished and he told us where and when to set the gear and the entire ball was in his hands.

There are those out there that would gripe that the crew shares should have been bigger but the truth is they don't have a clue. They had nothing invested in it. The skipper, being an owner/operator did to the tune of a couple of million bucks. That's a lot of fish he has to catch to pay for all of this.

The complainers should buy their own boats and see how their attitude changes.




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Sunday, October 26, 2014

A couple of years ago


 I ran into a former cohort of mine. We knew each other from spending time in Kodiak.

One of the subjects that came up for some odd reason was the Filipino community. I never had a single problem with them and he said that he hadn't either although a shipmate of his had been stabbed by one of its members.

When he told me about the stabbing I commented that it was most likely fueled by alcohol and testosterone on the part of the fisherman. He agreed. It was a case of someone looking for a fight and finding one.

Generally a scuffle involving Filipinos happened when some drunken fisherman stumbled over and picked a fight with them. Most of them are of a slight build and not fighters by nature. When they are forced to fight they generally look for an equalizer. The culture in the Philippines is somewhat of a blade culture so grabbing a knife makes sense.

There was no shortage of stupidity. When someone went looking to get his ass kicked there was generally someone there willing to oblige him. If he is a big assailant you can generally expect the assaulted party to throw an equalizer of some sort into the equation. Ginsu. Buck and Schrade make  good ones.

When I arrived in Kodiak I was warned that Filipinos carried sharp knives and as a result I stood clear and observed. I saw a group of people that were fun loving, cheerful and basically happy.

Most of them were cannery workers and it was the evening before cannery payday and a half-dozen were sitting at a table nursing beers. By this time I knew a few of the the ins and outs of Kodiak and decided to make a few friends. I told the bartender to give me a case of beer.

"I think I'll make a few friends," I told him.

He gave me a deal on a case of Olympia, popped all the tops and I took it over to the guys and dropped it off on the table of surprised Filipinos. Instant party.

That's all it took.

I have said in the past that the Filipinos are the Irish of the South Seas and to a point they are. They love a party, are happy by nature, never forget a slight and never forget a kind gesture.

After that I had a standing invite into their community.

A meal in a Filipino home is similar to a meal in an Irish, Italian or Mexican household. It is bedlam, chaos, laughter, teasing and just plain fun. There is nothing formal or serious about it at all. 

Actually the case of beer incident wasn't my introduction to the community. I had been introduced to the community via a cannery I briefly worked in for a few days processing roe herring.

It was after I had been there a couple of days that I  mentioned I had carpentry skills and when I did a couple of the Filipinas looked at a Mexican woman. The  Mexican woman told me I ought to work for a couple of Mexicans that had a boat repair business.

One of them even went so far as to make a phone call and arrange a meeting. One of the Mexicans met me at the door at quitting time and hired me on the spot as somewhat of a grunt for about a week's worth of work.

For what I learned from them I would have worked for free. They were astonishing. I won't get into that here, but these guys were amazing. When they were done with the job they hooked me up with another builder that needed a hand and from then on I never wanted for work.

As far as the case of beer incident went it paid huge dividends. A couple of times I was invited into their homes for dinner and in return I took a couple of Filipinas to the movies. I was clever enough to offer to take a brother with me.

These people are pretty devout Old School Catholics and I didn't want even the appearance of any shenanigans with the womanfolk.

Over the next few years my friendship with many of them developed and they became another part of the woodwork although a couple of times at the Anchor Bar I'd get grabbed to defuse a confrontation. 

One confrontation I settled was a failure to communicate. A somewhat drunk gentle giant was horsing around and managed to intimidate a small Filipino. I sensed trouble and said something to the Filipino on my left and the incident was headed off.

We wound up sitting them down at a table and handing them both beers and telling them not to get up until they were done. They became friends of a sort.

All it took was the ability to treat people with courtesy and respect and to be willing to part with a case of beer that I got back tenfold anyways.





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Saturday, October 25, 2014

One of the interesting things I spoke of with an uncle of mine was about my father's post-war adjustment.




I won't get into his career except to say he got booted out of primary fighter training for rat-shack racing and hedge-hopping. I later found out that the school actually booted people out at random for that to set an example keep this sort of stuff to a minimum. His turn, I guess.

Truth is they WANTED fearless wildmen in the skies. They wanted guys that would attack forces several times their size without thinking about it.

Anyway, he became a bombardier and flew. Bombardiers were generally officers and officers were treated much better than enlisted men.

Dad was typical of the generation that lit up the skies. He was a high school graduate with an aptitude for math and physics. The army crammed a couple of years of this into him in just a few months.

Prior to his entry into the service he played jazz to make a few bucks in night clubs while attending high school. Clarinet and sax. Today this would be like a high school kid playing in a rock band a couple nights a week while attending classes during the day.

Anyway, like a lot of guys, dad got pretty used to being treated like an officer in the few short years he flew during WW2. He ate in the officer's mess and drank in the officer's club. His details and duties did not include things like guard duty, mess duty, cleaning grease pits and digging ditches.

He would sometimes oversee things like this as officer of the day or other duties that were handed to young officers. Actually, when a flyboy was on the ground he had a pretty good life, considering. He generally lived better than the enlisted guys did.

Upon discharge he was pretty much thrown to the wolves. Truth is, it was a pretty big fall. The relative ease of an officer's life was thrown to the wind and he was left to shift for himself. He was just another discharged GI with a high school diploma looking for something to do to feed himself.

Dad did resume playing jazz for a brief period and he got by. Still, he was simply another former GI and nobody cared if a guy was a former private or a former colonel. He was just another guy looking for a job.

In the movie The Best Years of our Lives, Dana Andrews plays a recently discharged bombardier and to some extent it paralleled my dad's transition. Andrews played a discharged bombardier that was a decorated captain that returned to his pre-war job as a soda jerk.

Andrews' character also saw that the B-17s he flew were obsolete, being scrapped and were a part of history. He knew that even if he returned to the Air Corps there wouldn't be a B-17 bombardier's job for him.

Dad eventually went back to school under the GI bill and then later on went to college at Northeastern, graduating in 1957. In January '51 he married mom and in November '51 he started doing what he was put on this earth to do.

He was sent here to raise a family.

When I was an infant he worked in a few manigerial and sales positions but didn't like the headaches and found a job fixing cars as a mechanic and flipping a few used cars on the side.

Unlike the white collar jobs he worked at, being a wrench for hire gave him the time to do the job of raising kids right.

Still, he had a pretty hard time adjusting to life after a hitch as an officer and gentleman and it was interesting hearing it from my uncle later on when I was just out of the service. 

Interestingly enough, during the Cuban missile crisis Dad, along with a lot of vets was terrified of being called back into service. He said he'd be damned if he'd go in as a private.

Like the Dana Andrews character, Dad knew there were no more B-29s left to fly and hence no officer flight jobs for him. 

I was enlisted and believe had a much easier adjustment than he did. I guess I just knew I'd have to bust my ass doing something somewhere when I was discharged.



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