Monday, February 21, 2011

the war years part 2

most students, especially most of the males had this feeling of, "for what?" In other words, as soon as I graduate, I am no longer a full time student and my "number" is up.  Most college kids today start pumping out the resumes looking to be hired after their senior year.  Not so back then.  Unless you had some sort of disability, you were not going to work; you were going to war.  Yes, there are a lot of differences between Viet Nam and Iraq.  Iraq was a volunteer army and we went to Iraq to win, even though the Iraqi who reported WMD's said he lied.  We were allowed to win, none of this "you can only engage the enemy so far.
During my college years, no one my age trusted anyone over thirty-and I can see why as I look back today-they had complete control over our futures. As I look back at all the peace movements, I tend to agree with them.  Sure, you had those in it just for the sex and drugs, but most students really wanted peace and for the war to end.  It was an amazing sight to see the 100's of thousands at the Washington Monument.
When you come down to the bottom line, we just wanted control over our own destinies and not the politicians in Washington determining who was to live or die.  Kids I went to high school and college who I never saw again.  Again, you had to be there and live it to understand it; and the few "adults" who were for peace-the Kennedy's, King, eliminated.  Being the college photographer, I was privy to hear all the lectures and musical groups.  The biggest fruit cake was Timothy Leary, the lsd guru-better living through chemistry.  I intentionally made his photo with large all white eyes.  Some of the students were in it for the excitement; others wanted to go to war; but most just wanted to live and be a college student-and the majority who protested were sincere as they had candle light vigils at night in front of the draft board, reading off the names of the dead that day or from the town.  It was a terrible feeling not knowing if you were going to have a tomorrow or be dead in 3 months.  You had to be there and feel it otherwise you just cannot comprehend the atmosphere.  Side note: the second semester of my freshman year (before I really started feeling the futility of everything controlled by the war, I signed up for Army R.O.T.C.  I figured if I had to go, I would go as an officer-second lieutenant.  When I called my dad and told him(he was a gunner's mate in the Navy) he said,"You dummy! They shoot them (officer's ) first!-aim for those metal officer bars on the hat and uniform.  I guess the enemy felt if they they got rid of the platoon leader the whole group would fall apart.  In any case, after one semester of playing soldier boy, I had enough and quit before I had to make a commitment. It just wasn't the life for me. There were those who REALLY gun-ho and looked forward to the day they were shipped out.  Besides, with my short arm, none of my uniforms fit and I could not hold a rifle correctly since the stock was to long for me. But as the college photographer, I was asked by the student Army and the regular Army leaders, to go with them to Painesville, OH.  This was the nuke center that was to guard Cleveland and Pittsburgh, etc.  All the radar and tracking was in trucks-in case they were about to be bombed, they could move out of the way and still counter attack. And it was neat how they opened the underground silo's and raise the rocket's with nuclear warheads.  I took a lot of pics.  Which were all ruined-when you walk through the gate your entire body is x-rayed for an I.D. since every skeleton is different.(They didn't tell me this as I would have lined my case with lead.  Also, our "tour" guide never left my side that had my camera case.  Bottom line: radiation destroys camera film! I suppose today in the digital age, camera or picture taking stuff stays outside the gate.

the college years

I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck that belonged to a Vietnam Vet that said, "If you were not here, shut up!" Going to college during the 1960's and part of the 70's was unlike any other time period in the history of our country. Everyone had a feeling of hopelessness, futility, anger, and even rage.  My wife and I, while we were dating, would always stay together to at least midnight, so we could say we started the day together. The Vietnam War was going full blast and the draft was put into force. On your 18th birthday, every young man was required by law to "sign up." Then they instituted a numerical system: every draft age person was given a number.  Supposedly, the higher the number, the less like ly you were going to get that infamous letter in the mail from our local draft board, to report for a physical exam.  The other thing, supposedly, was if you were a full time college student(15.5 credit hours/semester) and your college sent a letter to your draft board, you were exempt.  Supposedly. I made the mistake of carrying over 20 credit hours one semester, which about fried me, so I only took 9 credit hours the following semester. You guessed it, within a week I was called to report for a physical and a school bus load of us young men were driven to Buffalo, N.Y. which was the induction center.  As I said before, the only thing that kept me from coming back from 'Nam in a flag draped box was my short arm gave me an exemption.  Gee, I wonder who won the contract for American flags back then-over 58,000?  And the idea that we had to go into a swamp and kill the country's citizens and destroy their home's to stop the progression of Communism is really stretching it.  Here we are, the richest, most powerful country in the world, who could obliterate any country in the world at the push of a button, sending foot solder's into a swamp-whose shoes fell apart and rifles jammed, was just nuts.  Viet Nam was a political war. Period. "Limited engagement."  In other words, we were NOT allowed to win.  Ask any Army general and he will tell you that the Viet Nam War could have been won in two weeks.  More on the college years later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

put on the boxing gloves

A disclaimer: do I take my own advice?  Usually. Not. But I feel that when two people are in a relationship, like a marriage, there is bound to be differences, some of which push our emotional "buttons" to where we want the issue resolved NOW.  usually not a good idea-a hot head can't make cool decisions.  So here are some things I picked up over the years for your consideration:
1. When you want to settle an issue, do it latter-both pick an agreeable time.  You are not ignoring the problem; just "shelving" it to a better time. Like when you both are not at the boiling point and set aside a time for the TWO of you to talk. No kids or friends or duties to interupt.
2. It's time.  Sounds corny, but sit down, hold hands and have a prayer with both of you offering up something to the God of your understanding.  I would suggest thanking Him for each other.
3 Identify the problem and stick to it, and nothing else. This is not the time to bring in everything else that irritates you about your partner's habits or their extended family.  Example:"While were at it, I want to talk about your mother meddling in our lives, etc., etc."
4. Have a safe phrase and a separate safe place to go to for at least 15 minutes. If either one says, "Time Out," The conversation immediately stops-not another word is allowed to be spoken, and each person leaves the room and goes to a predesignated place: the dinning room, den, wherever.  As long as it is not the bedroom or the same place! And remember, when someone says time out, that's exactly what it means-I need a break and I need it now. AND NOT ANOTHER WORD IS ALLOWED. SILENCE. GET UP AND GO TO YOUR PLACE.
5. 15 minutes is up, time to get back together and try it again-and usually this time, it doesn't seem as bad as it was before.
6.  Always start each sentence or paragraph with the word "I".  Such as, "I feel that the way you sit there and pick your nose during diner really bothers me."  If you start with the word, "You," it comes across as an attack of the other person, such as, You are such a slob, picking your nose during dinner!" See the difference?
Anyway, just a few ideas that might help you at home or even where you work. And remember: you are not going to change your mate-so work on changing you to be a better person-when you do that, you will be surprised at how much better your mate has become!  And if you have not done so, everyone work to make a Mission Statement for your home. Frame it and hang it where everyone in the family(plus guests) can easily read it often.  Just as a suggestion, read "Family. A proclamation to the World," for some ideas.  You can find it at or just do a Google to find it. kismif: keep it simple, make it fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

fighting to stay married

there must be a 100 books written on how to have a happy marriage and raise your children.  And they are all wrong because the only worthwhile knowledge is for the person who wrote the book-for himself(her) and one child.  Children don't come with an owner's manual, so we do the best we can, hopefully adding improvements from the way you were raise;   or, sometimes it is best just to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, especially if you came from an abusive household. I know that some of my ancestors were big on capital punishment; a childhood friend's dad was a barber and the belt was not used just to sharpen his straight razor; so it would be wrong of him to find ways of improving the belt's use.  As I said, sometimes better to just start fresh and a good way is to have a family proclamation, one that is based on gospel principles.  If you recall, Jesus drove the Jewish ruling class nuts because they followed a strict Moses's Law of an eye for an eye.  Next:  what every relationship needs to know how to do: and that is how to fight. Fairly. All couples are going to have disagreements and some can make or break a marriage.  But if both of you agree 100% of the time on %100 of everything, it would really take all the flavor of bringing two people living together.  Don't take this the wrong way: men and women are not equal, they are different-so they can complement each other and grow in equality.Who of us want to marry ourselves? Boring.  More, later.


i would often joke with people that age seems to bring some stability and "wisdom" into our lives, but it would be nice to have that 20 year old, or so, body, at the same time!  But, I guess the Lord has other plans, and we can't have both at the same time!
Just some info of some of the "specialists" I have been to see, so far, the last being a neuro-ophthalmologist, is most of these conditions that seem to being coming out of nowhere, I've had most of my life-its just that now, it's time for them to get in the way! One of the problems the eye doctor (I am not going to write out that big title again) said I am seeing manifest, is convergence. You can look at the tip of your nose-I no longer can, which is why I have to type with my right eye closed.  That's the close-up part of wearing bifocals.  Long distance wise I have to be careful as I see double out of my right eye.  Naturally, if I close it, I lose depth perception.since  I have been driving since I was 16, I am not sure how to judge not having it and it is causing me problems trying to adjust. 

Still no answers yet about hand tremors or losing feeling in my right leg.  Well, little by little, I will get this figured out-but right now, not being able to see, write, and sometimes I have to move my leg with my hand-like while driving, picking up my foot from the gas to the brake pedal, is a little scary.
 I just want things to work well enough to go back to work. But, like one guy said to me, it's a good day if you wake up without dirt on your face!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just Ducky

Tom, Jr., was our 1st to get accepted to a college and it was BYU.  Things fell in place;  someone down the street had a used blue 12 passenger van that we could afford and got us there and back.  We decided to pitch our tents along the green river in Provo.  This was unlike any park we were familiar with in Pa. or IL.The camping season was over and there was only one other family camping out.  The grass was 3" thick and a lush green with auto sprinklers to keep it that way.  The bathrooms were not the "pits," but were modern with flush toilets, ceramic walls, and hot showers.  During the night, I could here the sounds of fish splashing all night, and envisioned large bass, just waiting for me.  They were large carp, and while we did not eat them, they gave up a heck of a fight-one even broke a fishing pole in two!
for breakfast, we had bacon, eggs, toast, and milk or OJ to drink. Realizing they were carp, i would take a piece of bread after breakfast, and dip it in the cooled bacon grease, working it into a ball on the hook. A carp will run with it, drop it, and come back to get it.  Time to set the hook.  one chance. Crapy to eat, but a good battle, landing it.
Amanda, who was a tot, said, "Daddy, you said you would teach me how to fish."  So we got everything ready(as above), and with both of us holding the pole, made the cast. No sooner did the bait hit the water, a duck flew down like a bullet and grabbed it, swallowed it, hook and all and began flying away.  We reeled the poor bird to shore and i held it down with a shoe while using a pair of pliers to cut the line, hoping its gastric juices would eventually dissolve the hook.  Looking back it was quite comical seeing the scared duck flapping to escape!  End of story-Amanda's first fish was a duck!  What a story.  More about our first experiences in Provo, UT. later.

fiah stories

since i am awake, some fish facts. NO ONE in Brackenridge would even think of eating carp or catfish, except those living on 4th avenue, the "colored," street.  Just about everyone considered them garbage food since they ate garbage from a polluted river.  When we moved to the Midwest, I was amazed how many restaurants served breaded catfish and that social clubs advertised catfish dinners on a Friday night basis. Here, catfish was THE fish to eat!  The "finer" restaurants would stress their catfish was "pond raised." Lise Dixon's Fish Shop in East Peoria.  When I worked for Ruth Industries, selling maintenance chemicals, one of my accounts was the park district in El Paso-and there were 50 lb bags of Purina Catfish chow.  So it was not a lie after all
Carp is another story. There are 2 rows of red bitter flesh, that, if removed, make it edible. Suppository.Carp is considered a white fish and I have a story to tell of Amanda.s first fish-a duck caught on the green river in Provo.  To me, if you can throw a stone across the other side it is a creek, not a river. The green river emptied into Utah Lake and I asked the Park Ranger what the big boats were throwing out nets to catch-he said carp to be sold in New York as a Jewish delicacy and they are also made into fish sandwiches  for Hardee's and other fast food places.  So the next time you order a fish sandwich, it  is not some cold water fish from the north.  It is carp.  And what ever you do, don't buy fish or chicken from Wal-Mart.  The fish are very polluted and the chickens have been dead for some time and after skinning them,(the workers usually throw up), they are put in a pool of yellow-orange colored water to look fresh. And then sent from China, Side note:  all fish have small, live worms, living just under the scales-even trout!  So just get a good variety of Omega 3 for your vitamin, and when you fish, catch and release.  Good night:)

Friday, February 11, 2011


Today, Pymatuning Lake is financially dead-The largest lake(part in Ohio) is a ghost town.Even though it has over 35 miles of shoreline and has the largest fish hatchery in the state of PA., no one, meaning tourists, visit, let alone fish the lake.  In the 60's  and 70's is was a booming area whose postcard's boast"where the ducks walk on the fish." The area known as the Spillway, where a circular dam let water from one side of the road (game and fishing a no-no), spill under to the other side-fishing and fowl hunting allowed-the carp were so large and thick trying to eat a slice of bread thrown in by the tourists,, the ducks could literally walk on the carps backs and grab some bread.  a concession stand, rented by the State. besides selling "made in China" souvenirs, sold, on average, 4000 loafs of "day old" bread a week for the carp to eat-besides other places that sold the bread.  The carp were over 2 and a half feet long and had to weigh about 25-30ilb each.  When their population became to much(the carp also fed on trophy fish eggs,) the stat state would net them up then grind them up for the farmers to use as fertilizer.
Today, even game fishing is a rarity, and it is not uncommon to hear of a 40"+ Musky being caught on a hook and worm-no one fishes the lake anymore.  My parents home on the lake would easily go for over a half million 10 years ago: now they would be lucky to get 90,000 for it.
The other main road is the Causeway,which separates that part of the lake from PA. to OH.-the road is a dam in itself. The Lake is shallow: one could walk across the causeway in the water, and not go over their head.
The demise:  closer lakes and tourist attractions near the big cities such as Pittsburgh, Youngstown & Cleveland, OH.,  The big "killer" was the new Moraine Lake, outside of butler, PA. It offered so much that the boy scouts used it for one of their national jamborees.  My parent's biggest mistake was building a brand new drive restaurant, "the Duck Inn."  They should have gotten out of the business years before.  But I still feel the reason we moved to Pymatuning Lake was my dad's love of Musky fishing. Side Note: Before Fishing/ depth finders, dad would order a set of maps showing the depths and terrain of all the lakes he fished from the Army Corp of Engineers-he new that large fish, like Musky's, preferred deep and/or hiding places in the water-so that is where he would fish!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2 then 3

before i get to st. mike's, i i want my family to know they raised ti different families. Me an Bill work for our folk-free- from the time we were six or seven through high school and times beyond.  Our folks felt we misses out on a lot and felt they had to make it up with the three following three, beginning with Tim, 8 yrs my junior. kind of s guilt complex,  Bill seems to remember more of the nasty things than me as i kept myself absorbed with science and photography and music.
Mom and dad thought it important to continue our catholic upbringing or should i say upbeat-by this time, mostly vocal. It was bigger that St. Joe's with a  high school and a newer grade(1-8th) building down the road.  Still small as our graduating class was 44- it was 45, but one of the girls became pregnant and the nuns made her disappear, never to be seen again.  Now, you just take your baby to your classes  I remember 2 years: sophomore and senior. the sophomore nun's favorite phrase(i assume she is still alive today at 200 years old) was"mightily wrong with you people.  She would start teaching a class and all of a sudden go off on a tangent using that phrase.  She like coulius (sic) the colored leaf plants and had them in pots on every window shelf.  We had a rolling science cart and we would take the chemicals and boiling waters from experiments and instead of dumping them down the sink drain, we would pour them on each of her plants, for saying there was something mightily wrong with us and spend the rest of the class telling us how we were all going to burn for our sins. In any case, the plants would not die, in fact, they grew stronger and healthier.  So God watches out for those of "the cloth" even when the religion was not true.  More about St. Mike's later.

carp+bread = money

Pymatuning is the largest man made lake in PA., with part in Ohio,  The good ol' Army Corps of Engineers did it again:  find a small steam or creek, damn it up and make a Lake, This they did by making a dirt damn on the Shenago  creek in Jamestown = the Lake one one side ans a trickle of a creek on the other.  It's just their think: make lake out of trickles of water some times for flood control but usually just for some they can prove it can be done. The Lake has over 35 miles of shore line and just two main roads: the Causeway which goes from PA. to OH(there is a marker showing state boundaries. it is about 2 lanes wide plus parallel parking and acts as a damn itself. The lake is shallow: you could literally walk in the water along side the causeway without going over your head  Each side has a beach and campgrounds. The other road is the Spillway that goes from the country(desolate) area's of Espyville  to Linesville-a town, but desolate in itself.  It has one main street of "shopping stores."  This road separates the lake into two main sections:  on one side you can fish, hunt, etc.; the other is protected waterways where no fishing or hunting  is allowed.  The Spillway is just that-a semi circle about 30 ' in diameter where the water spills from one side, under the road/ bridge to the other side.  there is a concession stand plus room for about 100 cars.  The big item it sell, besides stuff made in China with "Pymatuning Lake" stamped on it, is day old bread-so the tourist can throw slices to the carp-that are so thick that the ducks and other birds can walk on top of them to get bread before the carp get it.  These are BIG carp atleast30' long and weighing just as much.Why? this particular stand(there are others) sell to the tourist, on average, about 4000 loafs of bread a week. I was always fearful if me or anyone fell in past the guard rail, they would be gummed to death. It was always fun to ask someone to throw their still lite cigarette butt in the mass of carp, especially near the shore.  The stupid carp would immediately suck it in and just as quick spit it out!  Interesting fact: the spillway was made of concrete with 2 steel bands about three feet a part. When there was just to many of them, the water "cops" would raise the water level almost to the top. and the two steel bands would then have electricity poured through, killing most of them.  They would be "scooped" out and taken away in a big truck to a place where they would be ground up and given to the local farmers for fertilizer. Pymatuning boast the largest fish hatchery in the state, where the would "milk" the eggs from full size female Musky's, fertilize them, and, when the "babies wee about 18" long, put them in the lake.  They would give demo's all through the day plus the had a museum.
But the Lake's big fame was feeding the carp.  It was a great fishing lake, but that was kept quiet and boats could only have a 6 horsepower motor to prevent pollution from water skiers.  Bigger motor sprayed a lot of oil on the surface of waterways.
People came from Cleveland and Youngstown, Oh. plus all the way from Pittsburgh, PA.-Now, with so many new recreation spots, Pymatuning Lake is deserted. Rarely does anyone fish the lake anymore and the carp thing has lost it's appeal. Five or more years ago, a house on the lake, like my parents, would sell for over half million: today it would probably fetch around 80 to 100 grand. Maybe. The big tourist days are gone.I remember when we went to the catholic church in Linesville "father" Hout would always announce a second collection-necessary to help pay off the new, bigger, church, that had to be erected to accommodate the tourist crowds. Right.  Everywhere else, the second collection, at least at Christmas time, was for the catholic priest-his 'present' for a new car or more likely, a vacation at some exotic beach, since his home, car, cook and housekeeper came out of regular collection funds. But Hout was a priest to the core, which is why, after being interviewed by him, I decided I would never be a catholic priest, besides the appeal of that exotic vacation and keeping the second collection-and a cute cook and housekeeper:) Hey, you got to make up for that stupid vow of celibacy. Next(maybe) St. Michael school, Greenville, Pa. and 17 mi. from where we lived. Looking back, dumb: to do all that driving just to continue the sadistic ways of the nuns.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


well, we got about a foot of snow the last 24 hours but what is worse is that it will be minus ten tonight. I remember being a little kid and the side walk from our house to grandma's was at least two feet high.  Actually, i think it seemed so high was that I was not very high!
This winter in Washington has had more snow than I can recall in the past 20 some years.  We did have a time, back in late 70's where around New Year's, the temperature did not rise above 0 degree's.  A trickle charger didn't seem to work outside, so every evening I would bring the car battery inside the house and leave the charger clamped on.  That only gave us one shot at starting the car since the engine parts were frozen.  The only way the local gas station seemed to be able to start a car, if jumping didn't work, was to tow the car and leave it in their warm garage till everything warmed up.
That always reminded me that service stations repaired more flat tires after a big rain storm than any other time. Reason: the rains would wash loose roofing nails from people's houses out into the streets where they would find a tire as a next victim.  True story.  Winds would loosen nails and then the rains would wash them down the gutters into the streets.  Of course, a smart owner would also check under the hood for a worn belt-which he would show the car owner who would agree to buy not just one, but two-just to have a spare on hand. Every notice when you go and buy a light bulb or turn siginal bulb to replace one that was burned out, that they now package them in two's-just so you have a spare. Of course, when you need the spare, you can't remember where to stashed it!
Next blog story: 3' long carp that tourist feed an average of 4000 loafs of bread/ week-so what if there are people going hungry!