Archive for the ‘Random Memories’ Category

Kilroy was here!

March 7, 2008

Kilroy was here! 

     I was a WWII baby, born in Oct. 1938.  I remember the war years remarkably well for being so young during this time.  One thing I remember was KILROY he popped up everywhere even in rural Missouri.  I remember seeing him on passing boxcars of when  steam locomotives trains rolled by.  I was always fascinated with him.  In news reels at the movie theater he would show up in clips on the sides of tanks and painted on bombs being loaded on to planes.  Later when I was a little older he showed up during the Korean conflict (no one called it a war, Police Action was the correct term).  He made a appearance in Viet Nam, and had shown up on fighting vehicles in the gulf War and is ridding along side of our people in the current conflict in the Mid -East.  The following post is taken from a site I receive weekly devoted to Marine Corps related subjects.  I found it quite interesting, and since the author gives permission for it to be passed around I asked my daughter to  place it into a draft for your enjoyment. 

     Below is an excerpt from The Sgt. Grit Newsletter I subscribe (and occasionally contribute) to: Sgt Grit American Courage Newsletter #169 – 6 Mar 2008 .

     It is preceded by a comment from my daughter. 

      Hi Dad – I remember Kilroy, I thought he came from the hippies or during the psychedelic 70’s. Goes to show ya what I know! I remember I had a red rubber kilroy that I could put in a pocket and have him peeking out. It’s neat to read about the ties to the armed forces. Love ya!!


My first brush with “Kilroy” was in 1950 as a youngster in Athens, Greece, where at the Anglo-American School the children of war-time multi-national expatriates attended classes. Our mixed lot was comprised of a far ranging and diverse group. Most were American children, but included were Brits, Indians, Turks, Egyptians, Italians, Spaniards and others from respective embassies, military services and even missionaries.

Kilroy was more legend than fad, the small drawing and inscription was ubiquitous and in the most unusual places. It was found on black boards, on the walls of restroom stalls, on the playground walls and basketball backboards. At that early age, it bugged me that “Kilroy” had been someplace ahead of me, but I soon got in the spirit and although too young to grasp its significance, like many of my cohorts, I would occasionally adorn some spot with the famous, or infamous depending on ones perspective, sketch and statement.

A few years ago my bride and I had the privilege to ride the USS Iwo Jima on its maiden voyage from its birthplace at the shipyards Pascagoula, Ms. to Pensacola, Fl. There were about two thousand guests aboard the ship and many sat on the flight deck to enjoy the sun and breeze. As we strolled by one lady whose leg was in a cast, we noted among all the greetings was the well known image and inscription, “Kilroy Was Here.”

Few people reading this today are old enough to remember how very important “Kilroy Was Here” was to GIs in WW2, Korea, and is today in the Gulf War and Iraq. The best legend of how he started is that James Kilroy was a rivet inspector on ships in Salem MS during WWII. To prove he had inspected, he would scribble the words throughout the ship.

Often the ships were sent to sea before painting or cleaning up (one Liberty ship was actually built in four days), GIs and sailors found the graffiti in impossible places. Soon Kilroy became the super GI who always got there first and survived. They began placing him in the most unlikely places. He has been reported on enemy beaches as landing GIs approached, on the Arc De Triomphe and even scrawled in the sand on the moon. As Owen Edwards said in the Smithsonian; “‘Kilroy Was Here’ appeared almost everywhere American soldiers went.”

There is one story of Stalin after emerging from a “porta- potti” at the Malta Summit, asked, “Who is Kilroy?” Kilroy was in all likelihood the forerunner of modern graffiti which itself has a long and illustrious history.

But why did this crude drawing and scrawled words become the super GI of WWII, Korea, the Gulf War, and Iraq? We know how it probably started but why the “movement?” I see the Kilroy phenomenon as a manifestation of absolutely amazing sense of humor. GI’s were always able to find something funny to say and do under stress that those of us today can only imagine. I also see Kilroy as a comfort to GI’s suffering through a world gone mad. No matter how bad it got, no matter what the danger, no matter how exhausted, scared or fed up they got, Kilroy was there first and survived. Only those who have “been there,” “done that,” can really appreciate and understand their motivations.

Finally, “Kilroy Was Here” was an effort by millions of GI’s to be a little rebellious when their whole life was controlled by others. It broke the horrible tension and provided a little fun. “Kilroy Was Here” persisted in spite of efforts by several commands to stamp it out. Certainly several occupied territory commanders issued orders that Kilroy not be scribbled and that it be removed wherever it was found. Such orders were always greeted with monumental indifference.

He was an outward demonstration of rebellious GI’s insisting on some individuality! “Kilroy Was Here” was duty – duty to their country; duty to their buddies. These were not warriors but simple guys who were caught up in forces far beyond their control. But warriors they became! By 1945 they were the most skilled warriors in the world. But, they never thought of themselves as such. They were just guys who wanted to get the job done and go home. Actually, they felt the only way to go home was to get the job done. This was a powerful motivation! Griping was taken to an art form but whining was never heard.

Kilroy still lives everywhere GIs have passed, including courthouses, places of worship, markets, and undoubtedly other, less respectable places limited only by ones imagination.

The generation that made Kilroy famous is now going to its eternal reward at the rate of a thousand a day; it won’t be very long before its members are gone. But our memory of them will live on for their legacy of sacrifice, bravery and wit. The torch has been passed to a new generation of American servicemen and women who are equal to any challenge, adversity and enemy. If politicians would but listen to and permit them, they can and will keep this nation safe and free for another generation, until their time too has passed. Static memorials grace Washington, State Capitols and even towns across the country, but few things are as ubiquitous as a US postage stamp, and consistent with that it is fitting that a stamp to commemorate past and contemporary heroes be issued so that wherever they travel and mail follows, Kilroy will always be there.

My good friend, Pat Tillery and I call on you to make a difference by sending a postcard or letter urging the Postal Service to issue a stamp to commemorate “Kilroy Was Here.” Send you notes, cards, and/or letters to:

Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee
Stamp Development
US Postal Service
1735 North Lynn Street, Rm. 501
Arlington VA 22209-6432

Or send an email, letter or petition to

Semper Fidelis

If you wish to send a comment or ask a question of Bob Pappas please use: pappas @

If you wish to read PREVIOUS ARTICLES by Col Pappas, please see:

Copyright © February 24th, 2008, by Patrick Tillery and Robert L. Pappas. With proper attribution, this essay may be quoted and redistributed. It may not be used in any way, in conjunction with any advertisement without the authors expressed written permission.  

Contact info for the author is noted in the excerpt above.

The direct link to the article in Sgt Grit’s newsletter is:
*scroll near the bottom of the page to find the above article by Col Pappa.

      There is very little I can add to this post Col. Pappa has covered it all.  I simply found it fascinating, and felt some might enjoy it who would not ever have found it otherwise.  In addition to my daughters comment I too at various times in my long life also had the little pocket Kilroy figure to stick in my pocket.  I have seen Kilroy make his appearance in Iraq on the sides of fighting equipment.  I am glad that he still exists to day and is doing his globe trotting as if he still possesses eternal youth.

     On a  more somber note my grandson who is in the Marines has just finished his Communications training at Twenty_Nine Palms and has reported to Camp Lejuine, North Carolina.  He arrived there this last Sunday evening and caledl us on Tuesday to let us know he had arrived safely and called again last night.  This time he reported that he has already been told that he will deploy to Iraq in October (2008).  This is not the kind of news we like to hear, but he is just one of thousands who have been placed into harms way by this conflict.  No matter how any of us feel about this mess, we owe the men and women who are sent there our whole-hearted support.  I fear that there is no end in sight for this damn thing no matter who gets the vote this November.  I simply hope in my deepest heart that our people get to come home whole and with their souls intact. 






December 12, 2007


     Today Dec. 11, 2007, my wife and I went to my grandson’s graduation ceremony at Camp Pendelton from The School of Infantry.  Four-hundred-twenty young men completed their final preliminary training in becoming MARINES.  Four platoons consisting of 80+ men marched out onto the parade deck and stood at ease as the Company Commander read the reports and greeted the attending  families.  A brief description of the activities for the last twenty two days was given.  After a final  call to attention they were dismissed.  My grandson had only about fifteen Minutes to visit with us then he had to hustle to his quarters and process his gear to the buses.  He was shipping out immediately for Twenty-Nine Palms to begin his MOS training. He joined us in the Mess Hall for lunch where he only ate about half of his meal before hustling of to board the buss.

     He was supposed to be assigned to Electrical Communications Repair School in North Carolina.  His paper work came down as a radio operator, a grunt in the lines.  I asked him “did you even try to get it changed to what you signed up for?”,  He said “not too hard, I kinda want to go” .  I understand the Gung-Ho Marine attitude, but now I will be worrying about him a lot sooner.   By the time I sat down to write this I imagine he is esconed in his new quarters and will have received his new issue of weapons and web gear.

     I got to see some of the new equipment and weapons they trained with in the School of Infantry.  The first thing they put on is the vest.  It is pretty heavy in itself.  It had an insert that can absorb three 7.62 rounds before cracking and also has a back and two side plates.  Over this goes the pack and frame – the pack with required equipment weighs in at 40 pounds – then whatever the Marine wants to carry as personal items – clean socks, underwear, t-shirts, what ever.  Add to this his weaponry and ammo, plus three canteens of water.  Plus my grandson will now add the weight of a field radio.  Luckily most of the time at this time of the year Twenty-nine Palms won’t bee too hot, mater of fact it can get damn cold there, especially at night.

     By this time these young men have had over forty hours of US Marine Corps Martial Arts Training.  Hand to hand, offence and defensive, knife and bayonet (The bayonet they now have serves as a knife, it’s as good as the old K-BAR).  And as previously mentioned the First Aid Training is way beyond the scope of what we had fifty years ago.

     Here I just want to say again, to the naysayers who complain that the marines are too soft on the recruits today — shut up, step back and take a look at these fine young men.  They are better equipped and better trained than I was fifty years ago.  They are trained and equipped to do the job.  Just get the G–dammed politicians out of the military and let them do the job.  Amen –  getting off my soap box and hibernating for now. This damn computer room is an ice box.


My Guns Yesterday and Today

April 21, 2007

     If you have read many of my earlier stuff, You will know by this time I am a shooter.  As I stated before, I could shoot the center of the “O” out of a Tomato can, by the age of nine.  I have that .22 rifle stored in my gun safe today.  I inherited it from my father, it has not been shot in years.  I can not begin to number the guns I have owned and traded in the far distant past.  The laws in California are so strict it is difficult to transfer a firearm to my son or grandson.  The laws are much stricter today than in the past.

     In the days of the early sixties, when transporting a handgun I was required to carry it in the front seat where it was visiable upon approach of a police officer.  On three different occasions I was stopped by law enforcement officers with hand guns in the car.  The first comes to mind involved three friends and me.  We were searching for a place to shoot past the area of Lake Elsinore, Ca..  As young guys are wont to do we were talking and enjoying each others company.  As we zipped down the highway past the town of Elsinore we were literally flying low with no traffic to contend with.  Suddenly there were bubble gum lights and a wail behind us.  I quickly pulled to the side and stopped.  Now here is the situation I had, there were at least six revolvers laying on the seat between me and the guy riding shotgun.  When the motorcycle officer stepped to the window he of course spied the bunch of guns in evidence.  He took a step back and placed his hand on his side arm.  Then he got a good look at us.  The two in the back seat were leaning forward with their hands clasped  and fingers intertwined tightly resting on the back of the front seat.  The friend in shotgun had his right arm out the window with his hand grasping the drip rail and the left open on the dash.  I had my left hand grabbing my drip rail and my right hand clamped tightly on the top of the steering wheel.  He looked at our frozen tableau and burst out laughing.  He then inquired if I knew how fast I was going?   I replied no.  I was then told I was going over ninety miles a hour.  I was surprised as I did not know that 58 Ford could travel that fast.  After checking my drivers license and registration.  He asked if we were looking for a place to shoot?  With my answer of yes he then proceeded to give me directions as where to go .  Then turning serious he said I’m going to give you a verbal warning and let you go, just don’t make the other traffic look like it’s standing still.  I feel to today that it was the demeanor we displayed that caused him to be as lenient as he was.

     On a second occasion a few years later, I and a roommate were returning home about two AM one morning when we were stopped by two members od the Sheriff’s Department just because it was late and we were two young guys.  We had two .45 Cal Colts in the front seat again.  It was a dark street with no lights near by.  Upon stopping We started to exit the vehicle the Deputy commanded us to remain in the car.  I called back to him there are two handguns on the seat.  Step out of the car with your hands visible came the quick command.  There again after a check of license again we were allowed to go on to our home just a few blocks away.  We had really done nothing wrong and were just stopped because it was late and dark.  They accepted our explanation that we had been shooting earlier and were finally returning home from a friends house.  There again cooperation was the key for the out come. (more…)

Just Rambling Through Again

April 18, 2007

     Well I’ve led you through many of my interests and so called adventures.  As you must have found out by now I am always tacking off in a different direction with no real direction.  A impulse or idea captures my imagination and I’m off prusueing   a new interest.

     In  high school ROTC one of the subjects that caught and held my flights of fancy was First Aid.  I studied my ROTC manual until I had every thing it offered memorised.  I knew how to apply pressure dressings and how to effect a fireman’s carry.  I learned how to use two cartridge belts to create a sling to carry a individual on my back leaving my hands free for weapon use.  I actually excelled on the tests.  I could fashion and apply splints to sprained or broken joints.  I knew about sulfa powder to restrict bleeding and tourniquets.   My interest carried on over to the Marine Corps and absorbed all they had to offer.

     After rejoining the civilian life I still retained my first aid interests.  When I began my excursions into the surrounding mountains and deserts of Southern California I was probably one of the most prepared backwoods men around.  I always had a extensive first aid kit on board.  First I bought the best available, then finding them falling short on supplies I built my own loads into ammo cans and sturdy little suit cases.  Damn looking back I suppose if I had had the knowledge I could have preformed minor Field surgery.

      Then at about the age of twenty-five I started donating blood to the blood bank (which latter I was able to have transferred to my Dads open heart surgery requirements) I discovered The American Red Cross first aid classes.  I started out with the basic first aid then intermediate first aid , then advanced first aid.  After completing these I enrolled in first aid instructor training.  Lord after that there was no place else to go.  I even thought for a while to quit factory work and become involved in the medical field in some capacity.  However I never found something that really called out to me, so remained as a labor who eventually was able to retire with a descent pension. (more…)

Me And My Books

April 11, 2007

     ABCDEFG and all the way to XYand Z.  In the little town of Carthage , Missouri where I was born and started school we didn’t know nuttin about Kindergarten.  But my mother as ill as she was wanted me to have a good start and she home schooled me in my ABC’s and numbers and simple addition and subtraction.  Along with a healthy boost from a kindly first grad teacher named Mrs. Wilson I got a good start.  I had a good second grade lady named Mrs. Jones and a third grade teacher by the name of Miss. Cawfeild.  At the end of my second-grade year I was moved in with my mothers mother and stayed there until the middle of my fourth grade year.  I slipped in the third grade because the help from home had got lost in the worry by the adults about  my dying mother.  After the fourth grade any help from home ceased altogether and often I felt neglected and diminished.  I do not think this was deliberate but just what happened.  Anyway I have always had the ability to read and comprehend, it simply lay dormant until my fourteenth year.  Then I discovered the ability to transport myself to different realms and adventures.  Someone gave my stepmother a Hugh double stack of Saturday Evening Post Magazines.  In each issue there were two short stories and two, two part serials.  The serials were published in such a way that one ended and the other started each week, there by creating a steady readership each week.  I breezed through these magazines like a prairie fire through dry brush.  I learned how to kill a elephant with a axe with African Pigmy’s and got my first introduction to Wyatt Earp and his brothers and the OK Corral.  By the time I had devoured all that the Saturday Evening Post had to offer I was consumed with a thirst for more.  As it happened we were living next door to two of the towns Librarians who were the maiden Aunts to my former third grade teacher Miss. Cawfeild who happened to live with them.  They persuaded my mother to get me a library card and taught me how to track down the books I would come to love and treasure for life.  They knew of my love for cowboys and introduced me to Zane Grey.  That summer I read every volume they had in stock of him, the Riders Of The Purple Sage and al the rest.  The old ladies had lived in Arizona where he wrote most of his books and centered their stories which fascinated me to no end.  I do not think I have read a book a book that I have not retained something from.  I have truly traveled the world and visited locals that would have been closed to me otherwise.  I have received a education through recreational reading.  reading to me is better than television for I submerse myself in a book.  I surround myself with the picture and action in a way that I cannot by viewing a picture. 

     I have exposed myself to different cultures and how the mind set of different people cause them to act differently than we do.  I do not know which I enjoy the most my books or my varied music.  Reading has introduced me to not only Beethoven’s music but his loss of hearing.  The tortured genius of Mozart and his tragic early death and burial in a mass grave with others that died of the plague.  I have traveled all across this great country of ours with Pilgrims, Indian Tribes and the builders of the railroads and the Mormons just every body it seems.  One great series was John Jakes Centennial set what eight big books that chronicle the start and struggle of our nation.  Lord it seems like I have lived so many different lives that it seems staggering. (more…)

The Christman Family

April 8, 2007

     It occours tome that I have often mentioned my Grandfather Christman whom I loved so much, but have failed to mention other members of hid family.  There was of course my stepmother who was the second of the four children born to Evert Christman, I fail to remember his wife’s name if I ever really knew it.  She was known to my sisters and me as Granny Pedori for some reason I do not know.  I do know that she was eleven years older than grandad.  And both parents of each of them were German Emigrants, making them and their four children pure German stock, and each had strong German features.  I believe I have stated earlier that for many years grandad was a section gang foreman on the railroad and my mother and siblings spent many years living in boxcars on sidings along side railroad tracks, with periods of farm life interspersed in there.  By the time my father married us into the family granddad had settled into the farm life for some time. 

     The oldest child was a son who had moved to California and had been on the Vernon, Ca. Police Dept for some time by the time I became a member of the family.  The was a big guy           tall and bulky, well over the two-hundred pound mark.      His one of those swarthy skinned Germans who would have made a good  German Sargent or officer in a movie.  When we moved to California in 1955 he was a motorcycle officer for the Vernon force.  I do not know how it is today but at that time he owned his own bike and the city supplied the lights and equipment and paid him a maintenance fee for it’s upkeep.  He brought it home every-night and parked it in his garage.  This I know because in my first summer in Cal. they went on vacation an arraigned with my youngest aunt who lived with them at the time to pick my up and have me mow their lawn before they came home.  Well being sixteen and with time on my hands I spent some time sitting on the bike in the garage before mowing the yard (being sixteen in 1955 was a lot different than sixteen in 2007, we were a lot younger then).  His name was Artie Christman.  He was married to a Italian woman named Rose, a good Italian cook I suppose, but she would not learn to cook the farm food he loved.  So the story goes, they were in a nice restaurant and he noticed cornbread on the menu.  Asking the waiter if indeed they had the corn bread and receiving the affirmative he ordered a hugh chunk of the bread, a large bowl and a small picture of milk.  His wife begged him not to but he said no and proceeded to crumble the corn bread into the bowl and pour the milk over it.  For those of you not from the south or the farm this is a common meal and greatly loved by those who are accustomed to it, my dad included.  She was mortified and crying with embarrassment.  He told her you learn to make me corn bread and I won’t be forced to go out to eat it like this.  I’m told she could make corn bread with the best of them after that. (more…)

Gone Dry Again

April 4, 2007

     Well it’s happened again, My mind had hit a blank wall again.  I know there is no pressure on me to write, and no one is going to be seriously disappointed by my absents on the world of bloggers.  I was reading my morning newspaper and was struck by the thought of the pressure that a person writing for the paper on a daily of even weekly basics  must face on occasion.  I suspect they must have a pad constantly on hand to jot down stray thoughts as what to write about in the future.  I often try to remember things that my father has done or said to relate but there again my mind does not always cooperate.  I used to quote a illustrating credited to Socrates in regard to memory.  He said “thoughts or remembrances were like pigeons in a large open coop  and you reached in and grabbed one but often as not the one you got was not the one you needed”.  Well seems like my hand has been coming out of the coop covered with useless crap.

     Speaking of reading the paper this morning, seems like they reported three fatal car crashes, all involving liquor and speed.  The jaws of life was needed to remove the bodies of two idiots on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu this AM.  There was reports of five people being shot in different locations.  And finally the cop killer in Long Beach was convicted and the jury suggested death for him.  To which he smiled and laughed, the first emotion he has shown in the whole trial.  The Democrats continue to defy the President in their foreign policy meddling.  What the hell is the world is our society coming to?

     I have a quote from Thomas Jefferson that I feel is up-to date.  “I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labors of the industrious”.  This was written more than two-hundred-twenty-five years ago.  Seems to me like this parasite has out grown it’s host and is about to strangle it to death 

     On the lighter side my girls, the wife and the two cats are still thriving.  The little black baby has streched out to be long and lanky she is glossy coal black short silky haired.  There is no white on her anywhere the pads of her feet are coal black as is her nose and ears,  In the dark she becomes invisible only the reflection of her yellow eyes in a little light reveals her position.  The older girl is a long haired Mane Coon that my wife calls a light mocha with white collar and chest and all four feet.  she has the darker rings on her tail that evidently provides the coon part of her species name.  she weighed fifteen pounds when the baby showed up but dropped to thirteen quickly.  The baby chased and jumped on her so much she ran off the three pounds quite quickly.  At first we were worried but soon realised that she had become sedentary before the baby’s arrival.  The little shit is on the go constantly she flies through the house like a tornado leaving a wake of destruction behind.  Last nigh we were watching the Dancing With the Stars results show when she got on a rip running all around, from the floor to the back of the couch at a dead run all over the place.  She came flying across the back of the couch behind my wife to the end, then down to the seat back across my wife’s lap and up across her arm to the floor.  As she ran across my wife’s arm her back claws digging in for traction left three, inch and a half gouges in her forearm which required cleaning with peroxide and alcohol and treatment with ointment and a bandage.  She was not trying to be mean just wildly active.  She is still just a big kitten about eight months old, but she sure can be a little butt-hole, a name I often call her to my wife’s displeasure.  She is still her baby, she sleeps with my wife snuggled next to her at night after she has wore her self out. (more…)


April 1, 2007

     I was born in Carthage, Missouri, in the last quarter of 1938.  As earlier chapters I claim to be born of country, hillbilly stock.  The first songs I can remember on the radio were “You Are My Sunshine” And “Pistol Packing Moma”.  My oldest son expressed amazement that You are My sunshine was that old a couple weeks ago, well it sure as hoot is.  Radio was about the only entertainment we had in those dark ages.  Saturday night the whole blamed town tuned into The Grand Old Opery.  We listened to Ernest Tubb sing Walking the Floor Over You, and Roy Acuff  The Wabash Cannon Ball and Take That Night Train to Memphis.  And the Canadian Troubaduor, Hank Snow render  Big Eight Wheels Moving Down the Track.  Cousin Minnie Pearl and Rod Brashfield provided comic relief.  These were basically my cradle songs.  There was a radio station in Joplin eighteen miles away and they had a noon time show by A, J. Cripe and his band, sponsored by Town Talk Bread.  A. J. and the boys did a song that went The little red fox ran through the woods chased by the howling hounds, then the whole band would break into howl’s and yips  and other dog sounds.  that was about the extent of the song as I remember.  My mother wrote a letter and asked them to dedicate the song to me on my Fifth birthday.  Well she had a party for me on my birthday and had to drag me away from the fun to hear my song, which I thought was neat but the group of kids in my front yard was more interesting to me at that time.

      It was not really until we got our first television in my fourteenth year that we were really exposed to any-other music.  On Saturday nights between country music shows there was a hour called The Hit Parade, with Russel Arms, Snookie Lansion, Gezzel McKensie and Rose Mary Clooney.  they preformed hit tunes from the Broadway shows.  Ivory Tower, Shrimp Boats are Acoming, Naughty Lady of Shady Lane are a few that I remember.  Classical music wasn’t ever heard in our area.

     Moving to California in 1955 exposed us to the beginning of rock and roll.  However in my house country still reined supreme.  Entering in the Marine Corps I missed Elvis-es beginning as we were not allowed radios in boot camp.  Occasionally we could hear Hound Dog from the DI’s hut late at night .  After boot camp, liberty in Oceanside, out side of Camp Pendelton We were treated to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and Don’t Take Your Guns to Town Bill.  He was well on his way.  I peeled potatoes in the mess hall  to Peggy Sue, and Tab Hunters, only hit Young Love, which was to become “our song” with my first love.

      But in fact I never really became a deep fan of rock and roll.  When I started my long term relationship with ALCOA, one of my first purchases was a then new at the time Stereo player it was a Magnavox large portable that had speakers that would stretch out ten feet on each side.  I was buying two to four albums a week.  I have a large collection of old classic country.  then the Folk phase kicked in   and they joined the collection.    (more…)

Santa Clause!! Who Me??

March 27, 2007

     A lot of fun can be had with a 1968, $35 Santa suit.  One year I got the bright idea to buy me a Santa Clause suit.  My best friend at the time had five, yeah 5 count them kids. one, two, three girls skip a year then one boy and then the next.  His wife’s brother had a son and daughter  about half way in the middle of this bunch.  Seven little ones with the firsr just in to the school years.  Both families lived in La Peunte just several miles apart.  So on Christmas Eve I applied rough and lipstick stuffed my cheeks with cut foam and glued on the beard.  climbed in to the bright red flannel suit.  I put a Marine corps field jacket on under it to add the weight I did not have at the time.  I drove my fire engine red 58 Jeep station wagon the twenty miles or so from where I lived to their house.  Luckily they had a fireplace in the living room located on the back side of the house.  I had instructed Steve the dad to leave a latter in the front yard and to build a fire in the fire place.  With my bag of toys that were my gifts for the kids in toe, I climbed the ladder.  Crossing the roof as nosily as possible I shouted down the chimney, How can I come down there with a fire going?  Pandemonium broke out in the living room, kids crying for dad to put the fire out and much excitement.  I said have your dad get a ladder so I can get off the roof.  Steve wet to the front and retrieved the ladder and brought it to  the back in front of the Patio door.  Then I climbed down in front of their disbelivieving eyes.  I went in to the house and sat in the provided chair where we began the necessary question and answer section.  Have you been good or bad and so forth.  finally the other brother and his two showed up and then I dispenced with the gifts.  a wondrous  time was had by all.  Only the third daughter Beth kept studying me and looking up my sleeve, finally asking me are you Uncle Bob.  smart little kid I had a hard time convincing  her I was not.  There was some question why I was leaving bu the front door.  I finally told them my helper had moved the sled down the street to the next stop.

     My night was not over my next stop was at my sisters house in Hawthorne, forty miles away.  On the way it was necessary to stop for gas, so there stood Santa Clause  along side his bright red jeep pumping gas.  I don’t know how many people stopped so Santa could assure their kids he was on the way and they needed to get home and into bed.  this occurred at red lights and stop signs, I was waving all along the forty mile trip.  this was not something I had taken into account.  being a well known celebrity must be a royal pain every day.  When I arrived at my sisters house, a upstairs appt.  there was no way I could climb onto her roof.  I simply had to knock on the door.  My parents and youngest sister had came down from Oxnard to spend the night and Christmas day.  A quick check of my make up and beard alignment and I was ready.  Entering after knocking on the door and my two young nephews were startled to see Santa.  the youngest was only about three and was afraid but the oldest at six was excited, and ready to accept his gifts.  the youngest did come forward when I produced the candy to get his share quickly the running back to grandma.  After the short visit I was ready to retire to the car and remove the outfit.  I cleaned my face as best I could then returned with my gifts for all and my sleeping bag to spend the night.  I had wore rose colored granny glasses to hide my eyes and brought them in to give to my younger sister.  the oldest nephew threw a fit because those were Santa’s glasses and he might come back for them.. We finally convinced him that Jackie would keep them for Santa.  All in all it was a happy experience. (more…)

My Part in the Greatest Generation

March 23, 2007

     The local newspaper has been running a series of articles this week remembering the greatest generation.  The columnist that has put it together is Tom Hennesy.  Mr Hennesy has written many such articles in his tenure at the Press Telegram.  He is a huge supporter of Americas fighting men and women.  He has also been very active in the erection of monuments here locally and on some of the islands on which our servicemen have fought.  This series of articles focused on local men and women during WWII.  He had a overwhelming response to his request for remembrance’s  from living veterans and the thoughts passed on by wives, children and others.  Some of them have been heart wrenching, others proud to read.  I was a product of that time and I thought I might take the time to recount some of my youthful remembrances.

     The first thing I remember occurred while living on Limestone St. (the first house I can vividly remember) I could have been no older than four at the time (and yes I have many memory’s of this time).  It was night time and we had the lights on and a man in a raincoat wearing a steel round,white helmet came to the door caring  a flashlight and told my father that we were having a blackout and he had to turn out the lights.  I of course did not understand and asked my day why?  He said so they could not drop bombs on us.  This was in Missouri!!That led to more questions which I probably never understood at the time but I can remember it plainly.

     A little later we moved to Walnut street, this was the location a few chapters back where Pearline the baby sitter took me to the graveyard.  I was five then and had a better understanding of war.  I had the toys of the day wooden rifles and handguns, chalk and lead soldiers.  Boats and tanks and such were what boys played with in these war years.  My uncles all four of then were involved by then.  I remember shopping with my mother at the five and dime store for a Christmas gift to send to her youngest brother who was in the Marines.  She finally bought him a small bible with a steel back to carry over his heart.  At the time I did not know about the other three uncles who were serving as they were all living out of state before but I knew my Uncle Bud.  When he came home later he bought a Purple Heart and a Jap rifle and two swords.  I lived with him and grandma before and after my mother died for a while. (more…)