STILL AROUND

August 22, 2010
  1. I’M STILL KICKING

              For anyone interested,  I am still shambling around.  Much older and weakened by time.  The diabetes is still chewing on my ass and the recovery from the stroke has apparently reached it’s peak.  The left side is still only about a quarter of the strength of the right.  Can move about in a pretty normal manner with a slight list to the left.  Any distance requires the use of the cane, and a mall calls for the walker,(a heavy-duty job with six-inch wheels a seat and breaks and of course the obligatory USMC reflectors and external cup holder and basket on the front.  No light weight aluminum toy for this 260# big boy.).  All in all, I feel lucky when I see others.

     I have not written any thing on the blog for months, It got to the point that trying to re tell material I had gleaned from others just too exustaning a task.  At this time I wish to apologise to a young lady known to me only as Sunshine Mendez.  I basically copied her story intact from another printed publication.  I did not know she had published it  on her own web site.  I simply read it and thought it would be a great addition to my group about Old West prostitutes.  It was indeed a great success, Kathy Westler who publishes a monthly Old West Journal read it and asked permission to repeat it in her journal.  I was flattered and of course agreed.  Miss Mendez saw it there and wrote me a scalding note, which I deserved.  All I can do is apologise here again as my attempts to contact her have failed.

     I no longer have the energy or drive to attempt these long       rehashing of these old tales.  The Billy The Kid set were exuasting              in the end.  Plus all the heat and disagreements from all the experts out there is not worth the trouble.

    In the end I am just too tired to carry on further, That plus the loss of my Marine Corps grandson early this year has sapped much of my interest also.

   So thanks for the continued support and interest in the site.  I cannot believe how it continues to draw readers every day.

Thanks to all!

ramblingbob

New Marines

December 2, 2009

New marines

     On Thanksgiving Day  my wife and I went to our son’s house where she helped him prepare  part of the dinner.  As always he prepared the turkeys by smoking on the BBQ grill and basting the smaller in the oven.  Our sixteen year old granddaughter made several delicious deserts, including a plate of fudge and some delightful cookies  made to look like turkeys with fanned tails and approape frosting.  In all it was a feast to be appreciated.

     However the high light of the day was we got to meet a great-nephew for the first time.  He is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps stationed at Camp Pendelton some seventy miles south of us.  He has completed all his basic trainings and is serving as a radio technician., at the Camp Horno Area home of the first Marine regiment of the First Marine Division.   This is a camp I visited frequently on technical weapons inspections when I served fifty-one years ago as a weapons repair man.

     This young man is the son of one of my wifes nephews who lived with us for his senior year of high school.  He joined the Marine Corps from our house many years ago. 

     This young Marine requested permission to bring a couple of buddies with him, which our son readily agreed, as his son stationed at Camp Leguine, in North Carolina could not be here this year.

     The two kids were from New York, and Washington state .  People I say Kids because while they are young men and U. S. Marines, Babies are what they looked like to this Fat, Mean Old  Marine.  Good Lord I know I was the same age when I did my service right out of high school.  But these kids one 18 and the other two 19 looked like they should be starting 2nd year high school.   they all three expect to be deployed to Afghanistan between April and October next year.

     These boys are the same ages as the three young Marine who were killed in my previous post who were good friends and buddies of my grandson.  Jer entered the Marines at the age of twenty and turned twenty-two during his deployment to Afghanistan.  He was like an older brother to the three who were killed.  He has been getting  assistants from the military   support staff.  Our main concern is that he has volunteered  for redeployment again.  This is a move on his part as we understand he would not have been slated to return to that hell hole again.  What ever his reasons I can only support his desion and pray for his well-being.

     I pains this old Marine that we have to send these kids into harms way, but understand the reasons for it.

I JUST ASK GODS PROTECTION OF ALL OUR SERVICE PERSONEL IN ALL BRANCHES OF THE ARMED FORCES!

As a closing note I wish to acknowledge aff the fine people of late who have approached me when wearing one of my Marine shirts, hats or pens to thank me for my service, it warms my old worn heart. 

THANK YOU ALL

ramblingbob

Bad time in AFGHANISTAN

November 6, 2009

      Want to know what a day in Afghanistan can be like?

     The story I am about to relate was not received first hand.                    As far as i know the relater has not told anyone else in the family but his mother, and then only in a depressed inebriated state.  The young man had been drinking with some friends at his mother’s house.    He has been haunted with nightmares every since his return from Afghanistan, he resists sleep and sought the comfort of inebriation to dull his senses.   It was in this state that he told her the following story after his friends had departed.  He has since sought counseling in both the AA and military provided help.  I can only hope he is having some success.  The scars this young man bears are truly horrible.  I served in the Marine Corps in peace time and was spared the sights and experiences he was forced to endure.

                                As he relates it he was in the second Humvee of a convoy on patrol, some where in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.  His station was that of radio operator riding in the passenger side of the vehicle.  All the array of radio and satellite equipment separating the space between the driver and him.  standing just to their rear behind the radio’s was the turret gunner.  Seated  to the back on either side were two Marines.

     Standing in the turret of the lead vehicle was his best friend and buddy, riding shotgun was their   other close friend.  All three had endured boot camp and all other training other than radio school together.  They were close and time in zone had even drew them closer.  many evenings they had sat clustered together with other buddy   watching DVD’s on his laptop.  Often eating the beef jerky I had sent to the grandson.  They wore out the magnetic dart board game my wife had mailed him.  They were close as many times blood brothers cannot be, they were brother Marines.

     It was a hot dusty day near the high120 degrees as it often is over there.  They had traveled many long miles without any sighting of insurgents.  suddenly a blinding flash of light , boiling flame and smoke engulfed the lead Humvee.      The young man , (who I want to call a kid, because I had met him the previous October at Twenty Nine Palms, and they all appeared to be so young.) was thrown out of the top of the heavy machine.  He flew off to the ground at the side of the track they called a road.  My grandson imedeatly left his vehicle against protocol, he should have stayed at the radio, and rushed to his side.  Both legs were barley hanging on by slivers of muscle.  The grandson quickly applied tourqunets to both legs.  He held his hand and cried and prayed with his young friend and lied and told him he would be OK.       

     He rushed to the stricken Humvee in an attempt to help his other friend.  Others were there and none could open the door.  There is some kind of locking bar inside the vehicle that prevents insurgents from opening the door from the outside.  It was in place and none could pry the door open.  Flames wer enveloping the interior of the machine and they all watched helplessly as this young man perished in flames as he screamed horribly..  My grandson watched his face melt away like wax.

     The first Marine was evacuated alive and even returned to America where he died in a military hospital.  There was apparently some talk of           awarding the grandson some kind of award for his quick action in applying the tourquinets.  He wants nothing to do with it.

      He drinks to try to escape these horrible memories.  I fear they will haunt him th rest of his life.  To compound this even more, a few months later they had just exited their vehicles in a town square.   By this time they were in the new MRAP’s, the heavier    supposedly bomb proof machines.  200 meters away one of the hero’s of the insurgency exploded a 500 pound truck bomb in the market place.  thirty Afghani civilians were killed and seventy others injured.  Another young Marine know to my grandson was struck in the head and killed instantly by a piece of shrapnel.  The         kid was only five feet in front of my grandson.

     To me he has recounted going around picking up body parts and placing the in what he refered to as garbage bags, after some of these bombings.  Great memories for a young 22-year-old man aren’t they?

      The self imposed cross he bears is “Why them and not me?”

     I can understand his need to drink to try to escape these                         horrors.  But if there is a God I hope to hell he can spare the time to comfort this troubled young man who I love so much and who is a hero to this old man.

ramblingbob

DIABETES IS KICKING MY BUTT

April 21, 2009

     Diabetes is a insidious disease.  It is a constant attempt to balance your blood sugar.  Last night I took my sugar level with my glucose meter before retiring for the night, my level was elevated so I took some regulatory “R” insulin  to bring it down, I also took some Lantus to maintain my level through out the night.  The Lantus helps stabilize the sugar your body makes as you constantly are  digesting stuff all night long.

     At 1:45 a.m. I awoke from a dream which must have been  prompted by a TV program.  It involved some detective police work as best I remember.  I woke  trying to find some damn clue,  as I sat confused on the side of the bed gazing at my cluttered night stand , I was desperately trying to remember in my confused state  what I was looking for.  All I knew was I was hungry as hell.  After a few moments I knew I was in the early stages of a insulin attack.

     Fumbling to get my slippers on I was very dizzy and disoriented.   One of these attacts is flustering for me as my coordination on awaking is always slow because of the stroke I suffered a year ago.  It is like being drunk, because your brain is being deprived of the sugar it needs to function.

     I stumbled-staggered to the kitchen and the first thing I did was pour and drink a glass of Orange  juice, which we always keep on hand.  I managed to get the glucose meter loaded with a strip and wiped my finger tip with a alcohol wipe.  cocking the needle I produced a drop of blood and applied it to the test strip.  Within seconds it indicated my glucose level was 41 which is very low.  Drinking more juice ,  I was still in a confused state,

     knowing I needed to do something, I was looking at my insulin chart trying to find how much insulin I need to take, the chart made no sense to me because it starts with 180, and my blood level was only 41.  Finally I realised that I needed no more insulin. but needed more sugar in my body.

      I ate a granola bar and drank more juice and eventually ate a hard boiled egg We had on hand.  By this time I was beginning to stabilize.  These episodes are scary and can be dangerous,  I have had them so bad it was worse than being drunk.  I have staggered so bad that I was bumping walls, (something I do now with my balance since the stroke).

     Once I took my insulin before leaving the house when going to eat, my insulin  “Humalog5”  is a fast acting insulin to be take no more than 15 minutes before eating.  By the time we got the car out of the garage and drove about four blocks I was hit very hard.  The first thing I knew my sight started to  to flash like a strobe light.  I was in heavy work traffic, on a street with no parking and no where to turn out I had to navigate four long blocks before I could pull into some business.  Luckily there was a liquor store there where my wife went in and bought some orange juice and a couple of candy bars.  Then she took over the driving.   I have had a milder attract with the sight flash and the meter showed me to me at 37 at that time.

       This damn crap is a constant juggling act trying to take the righ amount of insulin and food.  Many people have been pulled over by the police on supsision of drunk driving and not been able to tell the officers what is actually wrong.  Many agency’s are training their officers what to look for in these instances.  A insulin attack can be fatal if not treated correctly.  I now carry in the glove box a bottle of tablets call Gluclose.  These are large tablets the size of quarters and almost 1/2 inch thick that are almost pure sugar.  Mine are orange flavored.  They are more  effective if chewed and kept between the cheek and gum.  In this fashion it is them asobred into the blood vessels of the teeth roots and are more quickly go to work than when swallowed to the stomach. 

     Anyway that was how my night went last night.

UPDATE FROM AFGHANISTAN

March 1, 2009

                                     GRANDSON IN AFGHANISTAN

 

     The grandson is still over there in what he calls THE RAT HOLE.  He says there is nothing there worth dieing for.  The people do not like them and the only cash crop is heroin.  They are not allowed to interfear  with the production of the stuff.  Doing so deprives the population the recourse of their only cash crop.  It is know that the Helmaund Province is the largest producer of heroin in Afghanistan.  It is also known that most of the funds realised winds up in the Taliban hands.  This money buys equipment and weapons for the insurgents to fight and kill coalition troops, Our boys.

     Since his deployment in mid-November his unit alone had suffered six killed.  Two were men he attended boot camp with.  One was a close friend who went forward to dis-arm a improvised explosive device.  As he moved forward to the bomb, HE dislodged a stone holding down a pressure plate mine.  The resulting explosion left his leg hanging by shred’s.  My grand son was showered by his friends blood.  He had to make the raido call for Med_Evac to come in for the extraction.

      Jer.   has said it is hard to be with someone every day then suddenly they are gone.  The injured man was taken to the field  medical unit.  His leg was amputated, and he was shipped home.  Within three weeks he died of his injury’s. 

      All the men feel low moral when they are loosing men and have no one to even shoot at.  In our effort to boost their moral we have sent nine boxes to the grandson to share with his buddies five at Christmas time,  Two in January, Two in early February, with birthday wishes and a lot of eats .

  We are now in the process of filling two to three boxes now.  We were sending hygiene products at first, but now have been sending mostly food stuffs.  In one of the prior boxes I sent a bag of my home made jerky.   I did hear from him on that.  He said everybody liked it much better then the commercial, even their interpreter who said thanks papa.

     I am just now finishing up  10 pounds of London Broil which I got a good deal on.  Had the butcher slice it thin for me.  I marinated it in a soy sauce, liquid smoke and Worcester sauce concoction.  I also add a generous portion of brown sugar, some salt, pepper,  garlic salt and onion powder.  It usually takes a little over 24 hours in the dehydrator.  Then I let it set for 12 hours with out heat.  In the second batch I added  half a bottle of teriyaki sauce to fill two trays.  I wound up with a big bulging one gallon zip lock bag of the regular stuff and a three quarter full, quart bag of the teriyaki

      With all the Tuna packs and my selection of canned goods, two Summer Sauges (the large ones) and boxes of crackers, Queaso and salsa, we have at least three boxes again.  We will probably break it down and not send all at once, so we can spread the out.  When we send two they do not arrive at the same time.

     Anyway we all are praying for his safe return , supposedly in late May.  

SEMPER FI GUYS YOU HAVE MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS

COME SAFE ALL

ramblingbob

proud papa

OLD WEST PROSTITUTES: CHINA GIRLS

February 28, 2009

CHINA GIRLS

 

     In preceding posts I have explored prostitution in the old west, looking at the girls themselves, the madams and pimps.  As we have seen there were many levels of prostitutes from the mistresses, paramours, the high end girls , dance hall girls, crib girls and the lowly streetwalker.  The bottom of the barrel was the girls reduced to the hog ranches outside forts and along trails.

    But the most pitiful of all was the China Girls.  These poor unfortunate creatures were not even treated like humans.   Having no value in their home country they were often sold into slavery by their own families.  A girl child was only a mouth to feed and had no value but what they could be sold for.

     In 1894,  A Chinese woman named Ah Toy landed in San Francisco, tall willowy in shape and beautiful to the eye she was a instant sensation.  She had left China with her husband who died a few weeks into the voyage, she became the captains mistress.  Once the voyage was over it did not take long for her to notice how the men of San Francisco  followed her with hungry eyes. 

          She rented a two room house, built a stage in one room with a partition  that had hole cut into it.  She hired a couple of big Chinese Men to stand guard and collect one ounce of gold for a short show.  Dressed in a fine silk gown,  slit to her waist on each side and nude underneath she would twist and turn a make exotic moves, she soon had the men stomping and shouting.  Soon the block was lined with men standing line and shouting for their turn.   Business was so good she soon rented several more places,.  Chinese women  were hired too preform in shifts, twenty four hours a day.  However many men started paying in brass instead of gold  causing Ah Toy to rethink he options.

     Soon she was sending agents back to China to purchase unsuspecting females and importing them by the ship load.  She would select the best and most desirable ones  for her self and sell the rest a auction.   Some were bought by gentlemen to be used until they tired of them, then they would resale them when the novelty wore off.  These unfortunates had no say in their future, and no protection.  After the Civil War was over and slavery was abolished it did not apply to the wretched creatures.  They were not considered as human, not until 1910 with The Mann act made it illegal to transport women over state lines for immoral purposes, did any legislation exist.  But Chinese slave girls lasted into the 1920’s.

     Ah Toy after picking the girls for her own purposes, would often turn the other women over to the captain and the crew to break them in.   Many of these girls ranged from 11 to 22 years in age.  Their lives were embarking on a road of living hell.  Before being sold the vast majority were herded into a vast underground vault known as the Queen’s Room.  Here they were  under the supervision of older prostitutes who were of no value on the street.  These older women taught the younger girls how to please men, and were taught to sing,”Chinese Girls very nice, you come inside please, I make you very happy.”  Hard word’s  for a 11 year old to intone.

     Once they were sold they had to sign a contract for their new employer, not being able to read or write they signed with a mark.  Their contracts usually read along the following lined

        For the sum of________paid into my hands on this day,  I__________,promise  to prostitute my body for the term of_____years.  If in that time I am sick           one day, two weeks will be added onto my contract.  If more than one a additional month shal be added.  If  I runaway, or excape I am to be held as a slave for life.     Signed __________ .  As soon as they signd they handed over the money they received, to pay for their board and keep.

       As you can see once interred into the profession there was no excape.  Girls became valuable property, in the 1850’s,  girls  who were bought for mere pennies ,were going for the rate of $100, later they were worth even more.   even babies as young as 1-one year were purchased to be raised as future prostitutes, what hope or future could these unfortunates have.

     The pretty one were used in bar room” s,  dressed in silk, powdered and perfumed, they served drinks and had to service customers requests.      Once the fee was paid, they had to submit to his desires no matter how perverted it  might be.  Those who failed to please were whipped or branded with hot irons.

     The less fortunate of these girls were sold to the crib owners.  Here they were placed into a small crib that had only the one locked door and a barred window that faced the street.  The room had a narrow bunk with a thin mattress ,usually canvas filled with straw, a chamber pot under the bed and a small table with wash water.  This would be her home for the rest of her miserable life.  Fed a rice gruel twice a day as long as she was productive.  She was taught to stand at her barred window and expose herself to potential customers.  Her English was improved to say in a sing-song voice, “Two bittee lookiee, flo bittee feelee, six bitteedoee.”

  A excerpt from a\the  ” the Barbary Coast”,  a newspaper of the day quotes Herbert Asbury, as saying, “The only entrance to the crib was a narrow door, in which was set a small barred window.  Occupants of the den took turns standing behind the bars and striving to attract the attention of passing men.  When  a interested male stopped before the crib, the harlot displayed the upper part of her body and cajoled him with seductive cries and motions.”   

      Chinese girls who  able were very clean women ,they washed every day and shaved their bodies when possible making  them desirable short term companions.  How ever many became wild eyed and fearful lashing out at anyone, causing them to be chained to their  beds and administered narcotics.  Six years for a crib girl was a long time.   They started to feel the misery and degradation in their teens.  Few made it twenty years and were old hags of little value by then. 

     When she was of no further use as a prositute  a girl was placed in a small windowless cell, with a small bowl of rice and a candle.  It was understood that she was to die by the time the candle burned down.  If she did not die she had the choice of killing herself or being murdered.  When the door was opened after the time the candle was to last, usually a day, the men came to remove a corpse, They never came out without one.

     All Chinese, both male and female were called “The Heathen Chinese”.They maintained the customs of the old land, men wore their hair in long queues and wore silk slippers, the women were kept carefully hidden in their locked dens.  Therefore the crib girls were not considered humans and had no champion.  Basking in its lusty sinful heritage, San Fancisco took pride in its raunchy Barbary Coast reputation.

     In 1873 church women began to become involved in the plight of the women of China Town.  A mission was constructed at 902 Sacramento Street, manned by volunteer rescue workers.    In 1895 a formidable force became involved in these rescue efforts.

     I am going to break here, this portion of the story can stand alone.   At a later date I will finish with the efforts of a dedicated woman named, Donaldina Cameron, who marched into battle with China Town’s crib owners to rescue these forgotten young women.

Till later, thanks for stopping by.

ramblingbob

VISITING THE GRAND CANYON

February 6, 2009

GOING TO THE GRAND CANYON

 

      Well folks the old man is home, and damned pooped.  We took the girls, the cats , to the Vet.’s for boarding on the Saturday before we were to leave for boarding.  The pitiful looks they gave us us as we left was heart breaking.  They are used to the free roam of the house and a little recess time outside with me each day.  Those cages are so small and they feel abandoned.  But it is for their own good and comfort, as neither of them travel well , and we would be on the move for six days straight.  Still it is hard to leave them.  I am not one who treats them as a human child, but I do accept the responsibility for them and am used to having the company all the time.  nuff about this for now.

    Well up at a reasonable hour Monday morning , having loaded the car Sunday night in the garage it was a quick simple task to load the last few things and hit the road.  We stopped for breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants which was on the way.  A quick check of the TV news revealed that all the freeways were open, which had been a concern as the fires had raged all weekend in the direction were to go.  While it may seem to be callous to journey on a vacation trip when so many have encountered such tragic losses, our trip had been planned and paid for for more than a month in advance.  One of the waitress with whom we have formed a good relationship with over the years was on duty that morning.  Shell learned of our destination which included two nights in Williams, Az., was exciter for us and told us that Williams was her favorite town and the lace she had spent many vacations in when she worked in bullhead City, AZ..

     After finishing our breakfast, we hit the road in earnest.  Our first destination was Laughing, NV. Where we would spend Monday night.  East on the 91 fwy to north 57, then east again on the 60 to north 215 got us to our first pit stop at the McDonald’s on the Cahone pass.  Thank God for the wounder full McDonald’s all across the country for their clean restrooms and good iced tea.  Then back on the road to Barstow, and east on I-40.  Gassing up at a Arco in Barstow then on to the first rest stop past Ludlow, better stop here as we are both diabetics and the next is 72 mile down the road.  My wife is doing all the driving since my stroke in April, and she is not in the best of shape herself.

     Rather than going all the way to Needles, we take the newer 95 junction to163 into Laughlin, thereby saving us 20 miles of whoopee-to -do’s of gut wrenching humps.  we arrived at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Casino at about 2:30 and our reserved room had not been cleaned or at yet released.   So it had been almost seven hours since we had eaten,  We like to eat at a Mexican restaurant over on the Az. side of the Colorado River down in Fort Mojave and it is quite a little drive over there.  Don Laughlin has had a covered walkway built as a extension to his casino over the main drag in town, this is a six lane road with center   dividers.  On the other side he has a covered parking structure and on the second floor  is a new extension and now houses a sister restaurant to Casa Serino    the place we like so well.  So we walked over and sampled their fare, which  we enjoyed along with excellent service.  So all in all it was a mildly pleasant surprise for us.  After we got back to the Casino our room was ready and we got our bags and retired to the room.  And I do mean retired, once we got to the room I undressed and fell into bed and was immediately asleep.  My wife said my head hardly hit the pillow and I was snoring.  I think I awoke around 10:00 and took my blood sugar and went back to bed.

     Next morning we got ready and went down to the advertised best buffet i town, they should be sued for false advertising.  after eating we returned to the room cleaned our teeth took our insulin and loaded up our bags, checked out and hit the road.  Our travel Tuesday took us across the river onto highway 68 on to Kingman, AZ., stopping for gas once again just outside of Bullhead City.  Then onto I-40 onceagain east   on toward Williams,  We always make a pit stop at Selgman, Az.  this is a small old town(?) on old Hwy 66 (more about these little spots in the road later). Here we did our necessary business and gota A&W Root Bear float, then back on the road again just like Willie Nelson.  The next leg was unbroken until Williams.  This was a slow climb from 5,250 feet to 6,750 over close to 50 miles.  There are area of flat pasture land broken by area of immense boulders a rust brown color.  it is beautiful sparce country with no apparent habitation.  15 miles before Williams is a small hamlet of Ash Fork, Where the Car attendant on our train trip back from the canyon lives, more about him later. 

       We rolled into Williams around 3:00 and we quickly registered into our room.  The Grand Canyon Hotel is a lavish  structure with a triple story lounge/sitting area across from the check in desk.  There is a large fire place and many comfortable sitting arraignments.  to one side there is a computer access area located on a second floor balcony all in rich wood grains.  Above the service desk is the obligatory tri-mural of the Grand Canyon in oil, and around the walls are various oils of western life and Indian subjects.  in various glass cases are displayed     Indian Crafts.  The rooms were pleasant , and  good value for the rates, which we found to be very reasonable.  Of course this was all part of the three day package arraigned through the Automobile Club of Southern Calif.

  On check-in we were instructed to walk over to the train depot, to receive our travel and meal vouchers for the rest of the trip.  Once the luggage was gotup to the rooms we took the short walk to the depot.  The young lady ( it is hard for me not to say girl, they all look so young to me.),gavee us our package and explained all the tickets to us.  The first two was for our free buffet that evening, thee second two for breakfast the next morning,  There was to be a gunfight   after the breakfast for our enjoyment, the tickets to board the luxury car on the train at 9:45.  We were given stickers to board the tour bus after the train arrived at The Grand Canyon which also allowed us a free buffet on the tour.,  Then there were tickets for the train      to return from the Canyon and tickets for dinner and breakfast buffet at Williams.  And of course the luggage tags for our bags which had to be in the lobby    the morning of the train ride by 9:00am.  Somewhat confused and overwhelmed we returned to our rooms for some much needed rest before eating.

      Around five we strolled, limped is a better term, over to Max and Thelma’s gift shop and diner.    The gift shop is large and features a large assortment of gift items and shirts, jackets and hats related to the Grand Canyon.  The dinning-room was large and had a blazing fire-place of cut stone located in the center, art work adorned the walls and large windows gave a view of the rail-yard and a large steam locomotive.  The evening buffet was   Good, not great but satisfying, featuring a fairly good selection of vegetables , salads and meats and a person carving a turkey roast. .  After eating we browsed the gift shop, and the gift shop in the Depot located next door.  Then back to the room where I again crashed for the night.

    We were up early the next morning to prepare for the day.  Once the bags were packed I transferred them to the cart in the lobby as instructed.  We the took in the breakfast, Buffeet Bk-ft.s are by nature poor fare as a general rule and here was no exception.  my wife did not want to walk down to the gunfight and back, and as I have participated in so many of these in the past and viewed so many more, chose to remain with her.  We waited at the station for the train to back in.  At 9:15 it slowly backed into place, there was a diesel engine and five cars.  Our car the luxury Chief was last in line with a observation car next in line to it.   We had chosen the extra charge for the luxury car as we thought there would be a little more personal space and no children under 13 we were allowed on board.  Now mind you we both like children, but we find that today most parents do not require their children to behave, like we raised ours to do and we have raised our children and spent our time with the grand children and no lounge feel the need to put up with other peoples problems.

     At 9:45 the boarding call was given and we climbed onto the observation platform at the rear of the car and entered the carriage all the seats were assigned and our were D24 & D26 which placed  us on opposites sides of a small platform table facing each other, along the side of the car next to a window.  All the seats in the car were taken.  The center of the car consisted of the bathroom and the attendants bar.  Our attendant was a tall slender blond young lady by the name a Katie, she had the bubbly personality that a job like this requires.       Like a airline  hostess she made the pre -departure announcements required, and served mixed drinks for those who wished them, about $8 a pop.  I,m glad neither my wife or I drink.  There were Coke drinks on ice and  water served free for those who wanted them.  Eight people were allowed on the back observation platform at a time.     Neither my wife or I were steady enough on our feet to avail ourselves to the experience.  At about three points there was a long enough curve where you could see the engine pulling us down the rails.  The car we rode in had a history that included service on the east coast the mid west and a number of years in Mexico as a luxury car.  It was a 68 mile trip to the canyon at about 30+ miles a hour, the trip was 2 hr 20 min in duration.

  Along the way Katie told us of points of interest and facts of the railroad and obligatory cow jokes as the we the most observed wild life on the trip.  Elk, Antelope, coyote and deer is often seen but not this time.  We did see a small band of deer right out of Williams, A buck and three doe.  But yes we did see cows right almost on the track.   Katie said they were “Summer Cows”  ready? some-r red, some-r white,  some-r black, get the idea?  how bout this one , what do you call a cow that just had a calf?  De-cafenated!  OK I agree enough is a enough.

     Eventually we were visited by a strolling cowboy troupadore,  he came and sang some mangled cowboy songs and told a bunch of jokes and talked to each of us and had some comment on where we were from.  Then some of the cowboys from that mornings  gunfight came in and talked with us.  We were visited by the one who had got shot that morning and had fell in the horse manure.  guess what?  he had not had time to go home and change before the train left!  But all in all it was a enjoyable ride, I was just so tired and this was the third day of traveling for us, but at least the wife was not having to drive this day. 

     Disembarking at the station it was time for us to make a pit stop before anything else.  We neither one were able to attain our feet and make it to the bathroom while the train was in motion.  The Station at the Grand Canyon is a old log structure, the women’s rest rooms were in side but the  men’swere out side and around in back of the building and proved to be a hike of some distance to reach.  As I was passing some trees I drew some chuckles when I complained “this is like going in t the wood to shit with the bears.”   Rejoining my wife we proceeded to the tour bus we were  to and boarded.  We were taken to our first stop which proved to be the  “hot Lunch’  that was included in the tour.  I must say this proved to be a disappointing experience, the food was not up to standard of school cafeteria grade, and was a rushed affair.  Boarding the bus out tour began in earnest, out driver and guide was named Howard, and He was I must admit very knowledgeable and provided a overload of information.  He knew all the geological strata’s of the depth of the canyon.  Animal life and Flora and fana  and history of the canyon and the peoples of the past and present were related with fascinating detail, I was simply to exhausted to really care or enjoy the experience.  Ample opportunities were presented to take pictures and enjoy the view.  I somehow managed to take a dozen or so photos of the Trip with my new camera.  At least this time I got photos on the digital memory card.  Nine years ago when in better condition we made the trip by auto, and I took numerous pictures with my 35 mm camera only to learn on the return home there was no film in the damn thing.

     Finally we were returned to our lodge. which turned out to be the same place we had our lunch.  After being assigned our rooms we found they were out side and some distance from the lobby down hill and around a twisting road my poor wife could barley make it to the building we were assigned after many stops for a breather.  We had not taken into account the elevation,8,000 feet.  her COPD was threatening to kick in.  Reaching our room we then encountered trouble with the air conditioning.  She has thyroid problems and she is hot all the time.    After a visit from maintenance and a little rest  then it was time to hike back up the damn hill for more of the same bad buffet, and the same with breakfast the next morning.  Now people if you are in decent shape it may notbe a ordeal for you, but I cannot seriously recommend the Maswik Lodge to anyone.  The rooms are decent but there are much better at the park.

     We had the bags packed and were checked out of the room the next day , Thursday by 11 as required and had four hours to kill until time to board the train.   It was obvious to everyone around that my wife was in distress so I inquired at the travel desk as how we were to get transportation to the train as the Maswik is in the boondocks, with no comfort station in the lobby.  The lady listened to my inquiries and had observed my wife’s discomfort.     First she started to explain which shuttle we needed to take, then told me to wait and she made a phone call to the transportation station in the park.  She made arraignments for a taxi, she called a car, to come and pick us up and take us to the Bright Angle Lodge closer to the station at no charge.  A nice young man showed up in a mini-van with large sliding doors on each side and helped my wife in and secured her seat-belt for her.  He then took us to the Bright Angel which was a good ten minute drive , and entertained us with facts and stories of the things we passed.  We learned that he was a life long resident of the park, having only left for two years for college and could not take the big city life and returned.  He declined the tip I offered, but my wife insisted he take it anyway.  

     We walked into the lobby of The Bright Angel and discovered it was one of the original structures of the Park.  It was all massive log construction and had a huge fireplace made of large boulders, it could handle a six fool log with ease.  adjacent to the lobby was the gift shop.  We walked in and as my wife started to look around I glanced at the back wall and saw what at first I took to be mural, until I saw people moving around and realised I was looking out a large window and seeing the Grand Canyon itself.  The lodge was built right on the edge of the big ditch.  Every thing was within walking g distance and on a gentle slope rise.  Imagine our disappointment when we found the rates were the same as the lodge we had been booked into.  It had a ice cream parlor and a walk in sit down restaurant where you ordered off a menu and freindly servers and good God real brewed Ice Tea worth drinking.  We spent a pleasant three hours waiting there, and as time neared to return to the train we merly went to the desk as advised and requested transportation to the train station.  A special bus came and picked us and two other disabled couples and got us to the station in plenty of time.

     The train backed into the station and we boarded for the return trip to Williams.  Our host for the return trip was a fellow named Mack, he was a short fellow with a head of long curly hair and a gracho Marx moustache.  he had a humorous personality perfectly suited to the job.  he kept us entertained with a constant line of patter for the whole trip.  The return trip was much the same as the trip up, with a visit from a strolling minstrel, and a robbery by some cowboys again.  On the trip as the train slowed down they raced alongside firing their guns on horse back.  the train stopped to allow them to board.  One of the women on board inquired what happens to their horses?  Mack pointed out to a truck parked close by the track as a third man was loading the horses and said that they would beat the train home.

     As we neared Williams Mack told us to be prepared for a infusion of children in pajamas at the station.  This was the first night of the Polar Express.  The polar Express  is a seasonal night run 17 miles up the track  pulled by a steam locomotive.  Children and their parents arrive dressed in their pajamas and are served cookies and milk on the way up.  At the end of the run they pass a large lighted Chris mas Tree and Santa waving to them.  When the train stops to begin the return trip Santa boards the train and passes through all the cars and greets the kids and gives them each a silver bell on a ribbon to hang on their tree.  It is a big event and every run is sold out.  Mack told us that it is a exhausting run to work, which they all have to make during the season.  I believe him.

    When we reached the station it was swarming with pajama clad kids and their parents, as was the hotel lobby.  We feared the hotel would be noisy when the train returned, but except for some minor running in the halls it was a quite evening.    

      The next morning was  check out time and went smoothly.  We did not want to eat at the free buffet again so we headed into town  which is the main old town is only two one way streets two blocks long.  We entered what we thought would be a small restaurant but turned out to be good sized inside the food was very good after the last two days of buffets and such.  There was a good sized gift sop within with much local crafts and good selection.  We bought several small gifts  for the return home.  After eating we walked the rest of the town most of the shops ere vacant and others were of no interest.  But our son had alerted us to The Red Garter which as at one time a local bordello.  It is now a gift shop and they have a small bakery             within.  We picked up several    shirts for the son and I bought four books on women of the west hoping to find material for other sections of the Blog.  ONE BOOK ON PROSTITUTES, had a lot of material in it but sadly I have already covered most of the women already.

         After this short break we began our long trip back home.  Stopping in Laughlin for the night again.  But on the way I did get to quickly observe a group of four cowboys on horse back pushing a small heard of cattle toward a corral.  There is nothing of further interest to convey on the return trip just tiring driving for us both.  On Sunday we made arraignments to pick up the cats from the vets.  As my wife went up stairs to help retrieve them I could hear the oldest one start bitching as soon as she heard my wife’s voice.  Cheyenne continued to complain about her treatment and abandonment all the five teen miles home.  Needless to say the girls were glad to get back into their familiar surroundings.  We have had occasion to take both back to the vet for checkups and nail trimmings and both are hard to catch for these trips some how they sense where we are going and they run and hide with much  inventiveness.  But we are all home and I for one am glad the trip is over.  Somehow the fun it used to be has gone and it is just hard work. 

     Well if you have suffered through this exhausting narrative you have more Patience than I it has takes me since      early January to complete this thing.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

ramblingbob

think I have earned my name on this one

 

 

 

 

Boxes to Afghanistan

February 6, 2009

Boxes to the Grandson

 

     Well the grandson has been in Afghanistan for near three and a half months now.  We have sent him a total of nine boxes.  At frist we were trying to send enough to cover all 17 members of his squad, but on a pension ans SS it just was not possible.  We were sending shaving and personal hygiene products.  We quickly learned they appreciate the food stuff better.

     We have sent canned goods  and candy and what seems like tons of beef jerky.  Like the grandson says jerky is gold.  In the last box I sent I included  my home made jerky made in a small electric dehydrator.  It seems to have passed the test in flying colors as the last E-mail said everyone liked it including the interpreter, who was quoted as sayinf “thanks Papa.”  So guess this means another trip to the market to purchase a big slab of beef.

     My recipe is simple all I use is a lot of Soy Sauce, a little Worcestershire sauce, some liquid smoke, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I simply marinate the strips of beef for about 30 min. blot it on a paper towel and place it on the trays.  Last time it only took me a day and a half.  of course it was hot days  and low humidity.

     We are experiencing a bit of trouble getting his boxes to him.  In his unit which is spread out over the Provence over there is a second Lance courpal with the same name and middle initial as Jeremy and he was receiving Jeremy’s boxes.    We have tried spelling Jeremys middle name out in full.  This is very perplexing to us, while we do begrudge the other Marine the box we expect our grandson to receive our gifts to him.

     His birthday is the last of Feb. and the last two boxes contains his birthday feast.  Three cans of Beef Stew, tow cans of Ravioli,  nine packs of Tuna, Five of Salmon   four four packs of pudding, crackers, cookies and a long stick of Peperoni and a few other things i dis-remember right now.

     His unit has lost five men since mid November, the last is a kid Jer. went through boot camp and all his training with.  he was pretty shook up over it.  It is pretty hot over there, mostly IED’s with no body to shoot back at, which frustrates the guys to no end.

     Thank God and the Marine Corps He is now ridding in the MRAPS the heavily armored high trucks rather than the HUMVEE’s  He is the units main radioman.             He should be coming home before Memorial day hopefully.  We just pray for his safe return whole and sound.

Thanks for letting me vent

ramblingbob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grandson in Afghanistan

December 5, 2008

A YOUNG MARINE IN AFGHANISTAN

     My Grandson shipped out for Afghanistan on November 11, this year.  We receiveda call from him while he made a stop in Turkmenistan,  There are a whole pot full of those istan country’s over there,  He told us he was about 1,000 miles from Afghanistan at that time.  We received a call on Nov. 30, from his station in country, for my wife’s birthday on the 1st.

     He is limited to what he can tell us about the  situation over there.  They are billeted on a British base of some kind in the Helmund Providence, located in the southern section of the country.  I have tried researching the Internet for maps of the area.  I can find a number of them that really do not show much of any thing in which I am trying to find,  I can find maps of the opion areas , refugee’s are, and pure water deprived areas. but not much else.  One map did show some of the military bases for the British, so I have some Idea as to where is right now.  Being on the British base everything  is in pounds and pence’s.  The phone cards are in pounds and must be purchased there.  If you are wondering,the phones are satellite phones. 

     He does have Internet access and has his laptop with him.  We have been able to exchange  several E-mails with him as a result.  When we or his Dad (our son) receive anything we forward them to each other.  He told us that they monitor the phone and E-mails to maintain security.  He told us thet they have experienced IDF ( indirect Fire) in the form of moter and rocket attracts on occasion.  He is ancy          to engage in a firefight, as is any first time Marine.  They have been called out for support of engage infantry.  He is in a weapon’s company.  They have vehicles with mountes     Two Missile’s and the Automatic grenade launcher and the big M2 .50 cal. machine gun and the smaller 6.6 mm machine guns.  Jer. is the outfit radio operator, and has to know all the codes and jargon. 

     He alerted us to the fact that they are due to be out on a long range mobile patrol for what maybe a period of up two months, so he maybe out of Internet and phone contact.  He wanted us to know so we would not worry if we did not hear from him for awhile.

     Ok on the home front my wife and I have been compiling stuff for them over there.  The grandson told us that what ever we sent he would be sharing it with his squad which consists of seventeen guys.  So we have been trying to buy accordingly.  This past Wednesday, we shipped off Three 12x12x5 1/2  and two 8 1/1 6x 5 1/2 boxes of material for the guys.  We sent Jerky, trail mixes and boxes of candy bars and granola bars.  Jer. had requested triple edge blade razors so we sent him a pack of 8.  I had got a coupon deal at Costco for a large pack of double edge razors (52) so included34 of them.  not able to afford enough for all we sent a dozen chap stick, a bar of dial soap for each 12 pair of socks  shave cream in tubes  and ect. telling them they would have to share as best they can.  In on of the smaller boxes was 11 paperback books and several magazines.  We probably spent over $300 in all over a month trying to gather it all up.  The flat rate postage on the five boxes ran $63 .

     The lady who took us on at the post office was very gracious to us.  As it turns out her husband is a Marine who was in Iraq last year, and is being sent to Okinawa now.  She said she sends about a box a month.  While we were handling our five boxes a young woman at the next teller was over heard  getting a bigger box for Iraq for her husband, she was going to send pillows and blankets.  Ain’t it a shame our government can not provide stuff for our guys?

     On son, Jer’s. dad works at the port of Long Beach as a maintenance worker for the big cranes.  Rob made a fly er to post on the dock matinance room asking for donations to help send material to his son’s unit.  On of his friend there who also has a son in the Marines and is a old Jar head himself Gave &100 and challenged the others to match him, several have and the others have ponied up a total of over $900.  Hooray, for the patriotic Dock Workers.  I have been giving my son tips on what and how to send his stuff.  Just need to build a little fire under him, he is so over worked he really has not much time for his self.

  Anyway folks that is they way it is here.  I have been struggling to finish a chapter on our trip to the Grand Canyon.  I just seem to have a lack of ambition these days, about half through so maybe seen.

ramblingbob

USMC- A VIST TO TWENTY-NINE PALMS

October 9, 2008

A VISIT TO TWENTY-NINE PALMS, MARINE BASE

        On Friday, Sept.25, Along with my son and his wife and daughter, my wife and I set out for Twenty-Nines Palms, Calif.  My grandson Jeremy, was just finishing up his five week desert warefare pre-deployment training.  He had been in contact by text message with his father, my son, and indicated that he might be able to have visitors Friday evening.  So as a group we planned to drive the 140 miles from L. A., in hopes it would be allowed.  The  plan was for us all to meet at a favorite restaurant at nine a.m. for breakfast.  When we were all assembled my son told us that the grandson had just text-ed us that the unit would be working all day but his Sgt. said he might be released later for a few hours.  The mother-in-law of my son had decided to join the trip, this made too many for one vehicle.   Knowing that I am not yet driving since the stroke in April, and that my wife’s endurance is not great, the son volunteered to drive us in our car.  The daughter-in-law his daughter and the other grandmother would follow in the other car.

    So started a long day we were on the road about 11 a.m..  With the mandatory pit-stop in Banning, and getting fresh water, then back on the road.  On to the turn off just past the Morongo Casino, and on to Yucca Valley.  In Yucca valley my son who is a Harley rider had to make a stop at the Harley dealer-ship.  I thought it was justto look at the bikes.  But soon discovered he had made a brief stop earlier this year on a ride with his cousin and had not had the time to really enjoy the visit.  The owner is a man of many adventures and has collected memorabilia from all over the world.  He was also a WWII motorcycle dispatch rider.  He had on display a WWII Harley like the one he had ridden in the Army complete with the Tommy-Gun in the scabbard on the forks.  And people I know guns pretty well and it looked authentic.(maybe it has been rendered un-operable but it was real.) He had framed photos of himself and others in uniform and action from the area.  He also had Photos of him and his bikes from all over the world.  Even on from Nepal with his sportster suspended from the side of a elephant at a river crossing.  The stop was enjoyable.

  Then back to the vehicles and stops at several antique stores as a reward to the females for their reluctant Patience.  Finally on to a unique  Rib restaurant for a need replenishment of energy.  What made the joint unique was in the larger dinning room the celling was a almost teak looking wood that flowed in large ripples it was really something to see. 

     Then back on the road for the last 29 miles to Twenty-Nine Palms.  In town we hit another three or four antique stores and gassed up the vehicles so we would be ready for the trip home.  I have to confess at this time I was getting pretty tired, getting in and out of the SUV is like work for me and I was wore out and had set out the last three stops.  Finally about 5:30 the grandson texted his dad and said we could come in.

     Stopping at the gate and checking in and providing registration and insurance on both vehicles we entered the base.  It had been51 years since I had been on that huge sand box.  His instructions said to travel to the first stoplight and turn left.  On the way in we could see a sizable on base housing area, and we passed a sports field where very young dependents were being taught soccor.  Making the left at the light we proceeded to get sight of the Marine part of the base.

     Row upon row of concrete barracks were lined up of the right of the road.  When I was on base in 1957   every thing was in metal buildings, all single story, and in a much smaller area.  these buildings were all four story Hugh structures.  and there were even four story parking buildings provided through out.  These sat off of the road a ways and in between were  large open sided            garages with row after row of Abrams tanks, Light Armored Vehicles(LAV”s) and in another heavy 7 ton trucks with covered artillery pieces in tow, all lined up with perfect military precission  After that came rows of hugh garages and repair shops.  Finally we found our-selves past all sign of habitation just sand and a occasional weapons range or a set of bleachers for class instruction.  The grandson had told us to travel to the end of the road approximately 5 miles.

     finally the road came to a end at a secure facility of some kind with signs stating only authorised vehicles were permitted entry.  A crisp young guard with side arm came out and asked us what we needed.  after explaining, our son was told he could not help us, but that a area just behind and to the right of us was a training facility.  Our grand son had told us to meet him in the front and the guard had no idea what he had meant about that.

    So both vehicles backed up and turned around began to try to find the front of the place.  We found a dirt turn off that seemed to lead to the area.  finally finding what appeared to be a Pxwe asked some young Marines where the front of the place was and they were confused by the question, none knew of a front.  Back tracking to the main road, we found another dirt road that seemed to lead into the complex.  turning down the road we began to approach the buildings which were old Quonset huts like I remembered but the first two were unoccupied, with doors hanging  aja rmissing some hinges.  Once again I thought we were of course when My wife  asked “is that Jeremy?”  A young Marine was coming toward us with his rifle across his chest.  I said “No that is probably a guard coming to chase us out.”  She said, “No he has red hair!”  It was indeed Jeremy and we were in the wrong place, Justdown from the PX was where he had meant.  We had not been able to get him on the text because there was no coverage in the area, they had to move out of the area because there were jamming devices in use.  The reason for that we learned was some of the vehicles were equipped with jammers to try to block cell phone signals used to detonate IED’s.  If a vehicle still had its jammer on it closed down much of the area.

      After a round of hug’s and greetings he wanted to move us closer to his hooch which was down from the PX where we had been.  Climbing into the SUV with us he directed us back to the PX area so the women could go to the bathroom.   On the way he pointed out one of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles he had been training in (MRAP).  This is a heavily armored personnel carrier that is supposed to be resistant to the Improvised Explosive Devices that kill and maim so many of our guys in the HMMWV (humve”s).  It is a large armored truck that set’s high of the ground and has heavly armored bottom shaped much like a boat bottom the idea is to deflect the blast from the bottom to the sides.  It has a capacity of 12 men.  The Marine Corps has not nearly enough of them for service.  While developed for the Marine Corps the other services have expressed interest in them also.

     Jeremy got us situated then had to report back to his unit right away and said he would return.  Upon leaving we soon saw him coming back with his best friend in the unit.  He said his Sgt. told him to return and spend some time with his family.  We later found out from his section leader that Jeremy was the only guy in the unit from the west coast.  All the other guys were from the east coast.  They said the other guys would have the chance to try to see their people upon their return to Camp LeJuine, in the following weeks.

     Good God, the young man who was a Cpl. was 24 years old and looked sixteen, was married and has a baby on the way next April, and has been to Quate.  He was very serious young man While Jer. was talking to the women he proceed to show and demonstrate his rifle a M16 Carbine.  Same as the M16 but the stock slides in and the barrel is a couple inches shorter that the regular rifle.  He is issued it because he is the TOW Missile gunner on one of the vehicles, which he proudly admitted he had never missed a target.  He began to deliver a lecture, like you would give a recruit on the weapons capabilities. Rate of fire , range  how it cycle’s and all.  What I found interesting was when he showed me the sighting reticule of the scope, there is a little red “V” in there when it is on target that is where the bullet will go if fired then.  after it became dark I was shown the night vision sight picture, Lord no wonder these kids are so deadly it is like green daylight at dusk. I saw it on the HBO mini series “Generation Kill” but thought it was just Hollywood.

     While at the PX Jeremy’s Lt. came buy and was introduced to us and spoke to us for a short while reassuring us that Jer. was receiving the best training, and how good he was in his radio communication skills.    Jer. told him that I was a old Marine when he introduced us and he thanked me for my service, as I did him for his.  Jer also told him that I had participated in the Manhattan Project.  I had to correct that that happened when I was about five.  I was in the Operation Hood Test in 1957.  We spoke briefly about that then he excused his self and left. I will say this this Lt. seemed to be very competent and I believe Jeremy will be in good hands with officers of this caliber in command.

           As I said we spent a hour or so in the patio area of this Px.  We saw numerous young men clad in their desert Cammi uniforms.  Each of them had their rifles with them every where they went the firearm  was with them, even when they went to the head (toilet for those of you not famiular with Marine Corps jargon). 

     Now here I get to make one of my side rambles.  I subscribe to several Marine news lettersand, I have read stories by various non-military personnel, contractors and such in Iraq, and they state you never see a Marine without his weapon on his person, whither it be the head or the mess hall, the gun is there.  I saw a special on Drew Carey and a bunch of comedians on a USO tour in Iraq, in one scene he was relaxing in a chair behind the stages or some where and three young female Marines were talking to them, wearing off duty clothing (looked like spandex bike shorts) and all three had their rifles slung across their backs. 

      These young men would approach the PX and there was a weapons check station.  Each would approach it (a wooden frame with sand bags on three sides and insert the muzzle of their weapon and break it open to check the chamber to insure the weapon did not have a cartridge in the chamber.  Then they would proceed on into the Px.  All without fail were respectful and polite.  Once again they were so young, but mature looking at the same time.  I remember when I had just graduated boot camp in 1956 and were lined up waiting to board buses for Camp Pendelton the next day ( at that time graduation was not open to families and we did not get leave until we reached our duty stations).  Anyway we were in formation by platoons, the whole battalion of us.  At ease we could lookaround and it was the first time I could see us as a whole.  Some four hundred of us in all.  As I looked around all I could see was mostly 18-19 year old kids, and I thought good God this is what is defending our country!  I had grown up with the WWII movies and there was one or two kids in with a bunch of men.  I thought I would be the kid  with the older guys to guide me.  T’aint so Joe, us is all kids.  Well it still looks much the same today,   Thank Goodness for the Officer and NCO structure the Marine Corps has in place to lead and guide these young guys.

     Well back to the visit withthe grandson.  It was soon dark as only it can get in the desert.  With the suns departure the temperature became more bearable. and we needed to move down the line of huts so Jeremy could check in with his Sgt.. He was soon back with a couple more friends.  Soon his section leader joined us, a Sgt. who spent a good 15 to 20 minutes talking with us about what their mission to Afghanistan would be and the training he had received.  In the course of talk I asked him about care packages we intended to send Jer while deployed.  The Sgt. told us to send sugar cubes for the village elders, because they always start every meeting off with the serving of tea.

    He told us of the very large Iraq, now Afghanistan village they have built out in the desert.  It has traditional houses and shops and a Mosque.  There are also destroyed buildings and burned and bombed vehicles in the street.  The Marine corps hires Afghanistan nationals to serve  as villager’s and elders.  they inter-react with the Marines just like they would at home.  Some play The elders who you must try to deal with for information and to interact with other villagers.  You never look at a woman or speak to her without a mans permission.  Sometimes the villagers riot.  The Sgt. asked us to send small toys and  clothing for 3-13 year olds. as gestures of good will he said they did not need to be new just in good condition.  As to stuff for Jer. he said personal hygiene products soap, toothpaste and the such.  As to food stuff he said any thing that did not spoi,l canned goods, he mentioned Ravioli as a example.  said chocolate was prone to melt.  He told of on unit due to supply mix ups who existed on Blueberry tarts for three days. 

     He said it would be winter season when they get over there, and the unit would be issued two pair of new boots, one cold weather gear.    All in all he was very informative and  gave Jeremy glowing reports as to his communication skills.  Said Jer had been the back bone of the units radio utill just recently and they had finally got a new man in that area, and Jer was working to bring him up to speed.  Then to Jer’s embarrassment he said he had a tendency to nod off while the vehicle is in motion.  Said he will look over and see his head nodding and will say “—– you monitoring the radio?  his head will snap up and say “yes Sgt.”  My wife laughed and said he gets that from his grandpa and Dad they both can sleep anywhere.  Then he told us that Jer. is good on the Machine gun.  Said he did not have much trigger time, but all are familiarised with the gun on top of the vehicle, and Jer shows a natural ability to handle it.  Didn’t tell him the kid grew up on the video games on the computer, had natural hand and eye coordinatetion, but was good to hear.

      After the Sgt. took his leave, the vehicle driver came around and was introduced.  By this time I had to retire to the vehicle as my feet were hurting so bad I could hardly stand.  Jeremy went into his spiel on how much he was learning from this Sgt. and so forth.  I laughed and asked this Sgt. if he thought Jer. was going to be able to wash all that brown off his nose.  The guy laughed and said he didn’t know he was wondering the same thing.  One thing never changes put two Marines together eve if one is 70 and out of uniform and the other is serving there is still a kinmanship that a civilian will never know. So here it is

When you decide to enlist, you can’t wait to get in.

When you get in, you can’t wait to get out.

When you get out, you wish you were back in.

     There is few of us old farts who would not pick up a gun and stand beside one of these kids if the need arose. And thats a given fact, ask any old Marine you come across, they put something in us in boot camp that you cannot incise out.

     To finish up this ramble, We had been seeing some of the big 7ton trucks these kids herd around in place of the old 2 1/2 ton duce and half we had.  One pulled in to the compound across from where we were located.  My son expressed amazement at its size,  Jer. took off at a run and approached the driver, then called his dad over to see it. The driver climbed out, that is no bull the damn thing is so high you litterly climb in and out of it.  I would have loved to see it, but was so wore out I did not make the effort.  Just trying to get my left foot in and out of the back seat of the SUV was a chore.  My son later told me the thing was huge .  We have 19 and 20 year old kids driving these thing around, they are sitting up as high as a simi driver.  Just a year ago they were maybe pleading for the keys to dads car.  Hell these same kids are driving those Abrams tanks I saw parked row after row.  On the way out off the base we wound up following two of the behemoths down the pitch black road.  The bed sat so high of the ground our head lights did not reveal the forty of so Marines riding in the back, only when they turned off under a street light did we see them.

     Well we had bid the grandson and buddy’s good bye, and finally exited the base.  A stop at a McDonald’s and a pit stop and the long 2 1/2 + trip home was started.  By the time we hit the populated areas it was late so traffic was light.  We made it home a Two am.  After taking care of our neglected cats who expressed their displeasure at being abonded for so long.  I fell into bed with my badly swollen feet propped up.  The son and family  made the trip again the next day .  As for me it took almost a week for me to recover.

     But I am proud of my grandson and all the Marines, and all the other services as well who serve and sacrifice for us.  May who ever you pray to  look after them all and protect them for us.

    OK my final rambel

I got a phone call  the other night about 9pm some volunteer wanting to take a political survey.  I cut him off and said you just listen and draw your own conclusions.

I’m a 70 year old Marine, I fly the American and Marine Corps Flag from the front of my house every day.  I remove my hat and place my hand over my heart when the flag passes by.  I stand at attention for the National Anthem.  I am proud to be American, Now you figure out how you think I am going to vote! and hung up.

and like Porky Pig used to say

ththththat’s all folks.

ramblingbob