Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day 2008

For many years I would attend the traditional Reds opener in Cincinnati, sometimes sitting in the Press Box, others, drinking beer in the stands at Riverfront. I stopped doing that about a dozen or so years ago, basically I was sick of what has become Major League Baseball...traditions be damned.

The Cincinnati Reds, the oldest professional baseball team used to have the opening day National League game to themselves, with the Washington Senators having the AL game, so the President could toss out the first pitch. MLB in all is wisdom has sent the freaking teams off to Japan, a country that tried to destroy us in WW2 for the first game, and a few years back tossed the Reds over so they no longer even have the regular season opener...that game now is on ESPN on Sunday night. The Reds still get their first game at home with all the pomp and ceremony, but it is no longer the same. MLB is just so much bullshit these days, from steroids, the Yankees, and the corrupt players union.

The Reds open with Arizona this afternoon.....and I won't be watching, either on TV or in the stands....the final insult to true Reds fans was the hiring of the most incompetent manager in many years, Dusty Baker to run the show.....this guy is a cancer to young players, especially young pitchers, I don't believe anybody has ruined as many arms as this guy.

Sam and I also are scheduled to have our opener this afternoon at Delphos, a JV game(one of my few this season) that has Delphos Jefferson against Kalida. The rain has made most fields wet, so with more possible today and tomorrow, the first couple of games are in doubt.


Growing up in Venice, Florida, we really didn't have a team to root for that was close by, back in the I grabbed on to the New York Yankees, for obvious reasons, they were the best, and had the most glamorous lineup, including my childhood hero, Mickey Mantle!

I remained a Yankee fan until the family moved back to Ohio in 1963....I eventually gave up the Yanks, when "The Mick" retired and started rooting for the Cincinnati Reds, a team I covered as a broadcaster and followed in the stands as well. I feel bad for the kids today, baseball just isn't the same, MLB is basically a joke, players that have no relation except money with their current teams, and owners that toss hometown heroes over like yesterday's garbage. It's a sad state of affairs...I'd rather take in a college or minor league game any day, rather than waste my money to support Major League Baseball.....of course I'd rather be out on a warm sunny day umpiring a high school or American Legion game than being anywhere near one of the modern day major parks......

OK enough of that starts today for the Reds, maybe for Sam and me(tomorrow he has a varsity game in Fort Recovery and me at Rockford Parkway, Parkway varsity vs Spencerville)as well, but the weather, like it always does, will factor in the early high school is hoping the rains don't happen too often, and the back holds out.....

photo-top, left to right---me and the late Reds owner Marge Schott in 1994...always liked Marge, because liberals and the press hated her. Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle on a Mick special baseball card from 1962. Brother Mike and me getting ready for the Venice Elks little league season in 1957...he was on the varsity at 11, I was 9 and on the JV team. 1991 me with Reds Manager(now Cubs) sweet Lou Pinella, the winter after he led the Reds to their last World Series Championship. The late great Joe Nuxhall, the youngest player in MLB history at 15, and long time Reds announcer, who passed away this winter, and finally a video clip shot of me interviewing Pete Rose, the season after he broke Ty Cobb's hit record....don't necessarily like Rose as a person, but he sure the Hell should be in the Hall of Fame as a player....if the druggies and steroid freaks get in, this guy should be there as well, and far ahead of the likes of "melon head" Barry Bonds.

Weekend/March Wrap-Up

Since I took the weekend off, think I'll try to get 2 posts in this morning.....


Patricia, Anissa, and I headed the 30 miles to Lima(pronounced Ly' Ma' not Lee' Ma') Saturday afternoon....we were heading for MC Sports to get Anissa a quality treadmill, along with various other problems, Ness tends to walk on the outside of her feet at times, and the "foot doctor" says working a few minutes a day on the treadmill will help with that. Now I've bought treadmills in the past, and used them(although I prefer walking outside when possible), but the $2 or $3 hundred ones just don't last, so we went looking for a quality piece of equipment that would last many years....we ended up purchasing a BLADEZ 7.9 with a 2.5 HP motor, 15 years warranty and a few whistles and bells....rather large in the second living room corner, but it folds up nicely and out of the way when needed.....the old man has not tried it out yet, but I will get around to that this week(especially if it continues to rain).

After leaving MC we headed off to Applebees for a afternoon meal....I had a couple of miller lites and a small steak, the women decided on battered fish. At that time Patricia(now the bread winner, and thus the one that makes the purchasing decisions, which is fine with me, that way I can't get blamed for spending too much), asks if we could go across Elida Road and check out Ashley Furniture, she had a couple of items she wanted me to see....What the heck I say?

Walked in, and a typical Saturday when the weather is nice, a good crowd, plus some folks I knew from Celina, so we looked and BSed, and tried out a few recliners. Now our Lazy Boys are about 12 years old and looking every bit of that...but comfortable. Anyway long story short, after looking at love seats, gliders, and a few recliners, the "just looking" turned into a full blown purchase of a couple of Lazy Boy Recliners that are a little different...that have solid wood frames and will go in the TV area and match up well with the antique desks and built-in wall computer area woodwork. So, needless to say those purchases just about tripled our original goal for cash outlay for the boss(wife) is looking at a couple of other items to go with the new recliners, which we put on lay away till May....with only one in stock we wanted them to come at the same time.
here is a photo of the Monarch Recliner:
It was back home, Patrica with a little help from Sam and me, put up the treadmill, I settled down with another Miller Lite and watched what is perhaps the most boring "Sweet 16" in NCAA Tournament history....the only good game was the Davidson-Kansas game where David(son) barley lost to Goliath(Kansas).

The NCAA Hockey Tournament has been much better on ESPN-U...both the Boston College win over Miami of Ohio, and the North Dakota win over Wisconsin went to Overtime....those two will join a couple of Buck Pennington's favorites, Notre Dame and Michigan in the "Frozen Four".
All in all a pretty good albeit expensive weekend.....

A couple of shots of the new treadmill, hopefully to get plenty of use in the next few years...

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Red Door, Celina, Ohio

After my Air Force years, still not quite ready to do college full time, I wandered back to Celina, Ohio, after a time living in upstate New York(Rome). Worked for a while back at the old Huffy bike factory, then in Coldwater at Paxs, and finally a year as a custodian for Celina Schools while I attended a class or 2 at Wright State University Lake Campus. My main "watering hole" was a little place called "The Red Door" on Main Street, I, and a few hundred others had been hanging out at The Door since our high school days in the mid 1960s...folks came, and folks went, but those of us drawn back to Celina always, it seemed, managed to meet back there.

The Red Door, located at 211 South Main in Celina, had began, best as I remember from the stories, back after World War II, as the "White Front" first recollections were later on, in the early 60s when it was filled with pool tables and became a high school and young adult hangout called "The Golden Cue"....eventually a bar, strobe lights, and black lights were added, along with the famous Red Door. The place started out simple enough with tables, beer, and pizza, but as it grew, the sit down crowd was run out and it became a pretty hard core rock and roll and hard drinking bar. I started as a nightly visitor back in 1967, when the drinking age was 18 for 3.2 beer....I would also stop by nightly on my leaves from the Air Force, and finally when returning from Rome, New York, in 1973, I reverted to my old habits.

By the time I returned to Celina, the Red Door had changed hands, and a retired funeral director from South Dakota, Wayne Hohlman, had taken ownership, He had not really considered himself a bar owner type of guy, but had purchased the joint for his son to run, which didn't pan out. I met Wayne while hanging out at the Door in late 1973....I first got to know him well when a drunk from Chicago punched Wayne's lights out on the lighted dance floor, my buddy Mike Schilling(later to become a Celina Cop) and I jumped the railing and took turns kicking the Chicago boy's ass, finally running him out the door and into a parking meter shoulder first....I remember the defeated idiot's final proclamation as we walked back inside...."I'm from Chicago, and I'm gonna bring my boys back and kick your asses"....laughter was the only reply from us.

After sitting back down at the bar, Wayne whom I had met on a customer/owner basis bought us a beer, sitting down, he says "Thanks, this place is a zoo, you know, I need somebody to run this place, you interested?"...well, I had a few months left on my custodial contract with the schools, and was working from 1 till I say, "Sure, if you can work around my hours until I'm done with being a janitor"....Wayne agreed and thus began probably the wildest 1 1/2 years of my life, full time from the spring of 1974 until heading off to Hocking Technical College in the winter of 1975. I was the head bartender, bouncer, bottle washer, cook, and cash collector for the infamous "Red Door".

High school friends, new acquaintances, hangers on, Disk Jockeys, and others became nightly visitors to the house, and I became frequent visitors to theirs as well. For the 20 month stretch, I took only one vacation to Florida, and worked 6 days a week the rest of the time, and even on Mondays, my day off, I would be at my bar all reality, The Red Door was my home for that entire time.....and through the good and bad, it is one of the most vivid memories I have of any period of my life.

Wayne, who passed away back in South Dakota, a few years back, sold the place in 1976. It became Bumkins, a few other names, and finally today is called "The Fuse". Seems the Fuse owners want to bring back those days from 40 or so years ago, and are having a Red Door 40th Reunion on Saturday April 5th....already been told "You have to be there, you were one on the main players"....main player?, I don't know, the one thing I do know, if I had not quit the Door and headed off to college and then marriage, I probably would not be here typing this this today.....I did just about anything and everything back in those days, I don't regret it one bit, but, I'm glad it was only for a short period of my life.....I loved the place, but I aged pretty quickly when I was running the joint.

Jim Olson, Rick Pearson, Rick Tester, Bob Jones, Randy Winkeljohn, Nick Hromish, Herb Stanfill, Jerry Jones, Mike Schilling, and a few hundred others hung around with me and at the Red Door back then. Most are still around here today. Old Herb has passed away, Jim is in North Dakota and I see him a time or two a year, Jerry is in California, but the rest I see on more than an occasion a year, and are living within 50 or so miles.

The Red Door, back for 1 night this April 5th....I have a double header that afternoon, but will probably use shoe leather express and walk up, and see who else hobbles in after all these years.


The Red Door as it looks today, now the Fuse....the flyer for the 40th Reunion of the Red Door... me(L) and Jim Olson our resident DJ at the Red Door, on our summer of 75 trip to Florida....that was pretty much the final days of the Red Door for me and Olson, he headed back to North Dakota that fall, and I headed off to college, the rest of the gang, including Rick Pearson, my best man, shown with me(top photo) on my wedding day in 1976 in Wisconsin, pretty much broke up. They went off to work, college, marriage, and different ways of life, fortunately I still am in contact with most of the guys......those days can't be repeated, but they can't be forgotten either.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Hint of Spring/My Back Pages

Funny thing about March in Ohio(and the midwest in general) seldom are two days alike. After working a baseball scrimmage on Tuesday in windy, cloudy, and raw conditions, yesterday was pretty nice for a late March day. Sunny, a breeze from the west and low to mid 50s for a high. After getting out and walking for a mile or so, trying to loosen up from the previous umpire work, and before heading off to Van Wert for what was probably our final umpire class of the spring(there is one more but Sam and I have a game in far off McGuffy, Ohio next Wednesday), Reagan the Airedale and I headed out to the back yard...much work to be done out there in the next couple of weeks before Spring hits full stride, but I sat out back cracked open a beer and pulled out a nice medium body Robusto and fired it up.....the March sun was warm, especially sitting in jeans and a sweatshirt....sat out there for about an hour contemplating just about nothing, and enjoyed it. Snapping a few photos, including one 'self portrait'....sometimes you shouldn't do begin to realize just how much you age, and how quickly you do it.

The Byrds had a perfect sound about aging, in reverse. My Back Pages, written by Bob Dylan, and released in 1967, that same spring I graduated from Celina High:

Today, after the almost perfect Spring day yesterday, is back to rain and cooler....and the forecast is "hit and miss", mostly hitting with rain and some snow, for the next few days.....yes indeed it's Spring in Ohio, I guess we can be thankful in this part of the state, we have no flooding, and have had no tornadoes.
Photos-My own back pages from the top....Mom and me sometime in 1949 in Scott, Ohio....the next two photos are from that early Scott era as well. Me and dad's trusty single shot 12 gauge with a Fox he dispatched, and me appearing to be waving, but as mom tells is, it was me trying to shade my eyes from the sun, both in the very early 1950s. The next 2 are from my years growing up in Venice, and brother mike with the "jew fish" that dad caught, and my first grade mug shot from Venice Elementary in 1956. Then we have the basic Air Force Cop School mug shot from San Antonio in 1968, and me sitting on the folk's Dodge Charger in Montezuma in 1968, just before heading to basic can tell by the always present smile, I was thrilled.
We have the burnt out post Air Force Red Door bar tending days, on the beach at Daytona with my hippy dippy love van in June 1975....then me and Patricia with her parents Bill and Bev, on December 18, 1976, and me and Anissa in 1979, when living on the farm outside Wausau, Wisconsin.
Me, Patricia, and mom, on the wife's graduation from Wright State in 1988 at the ripe old age of 34...she now has 3 degrees, Associates, BA, and a Masters.....PRH on TV doing the news/weather/sports and general BS at Cable Channel 7 in Van Wert, back in 1986. And to top it off, Patrick turns 50, Pat smoking, a cigar, and finally the modern day(yesterday) Pat sitting on the back porch, smoking a cigar, looking every bit the 59 years old that I have made it to. And despite the weathered face, enjoying it all for as long as I can.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fort Recovery 8 Lehman Catholic 4

Meaningless score in a high school baseball scrimmage game. Not to say the scrimmage was meaningless, in Ohio and the midwest, you only get so many chances to work your teams out before the season starts, and these contests are important, just the scores are not.
Sam and I traveled to Sidney, Ohio, yesterday for our first baseball contest of the season, a scrimmage between 2 area teams, the Indians of Ft Recovery and the Cavaliers of Sidney Lehman. The temps were in the upper 40s, cloudy with south winds approaching 45 miles per hour at times...the main thing was to get some work in for the coming season, and to find out how my back responded.

I took home plate for the 2 1/2 hour contest, with the wind blowing hard at my back, with the gear on I stayed fairly comfortable, meanwhile out on the diamond with the wind straight on at his face, Sam said he "froze his ass off". A pretty uneventful scrimmage, designed to give both teams needed "live play" before their March 31st openers.

"The Back?" Well it, so far, seems to be holding up....although it did stiffen up and that made it hard to bend over the last few innings, but all-in-all, this morning, I can't complain. We made it home by 8:30 from the 40 mile or so drive, I cracked open a couple of beers and relaxed the rest of the night...getting 8 hours sleep I figure would tell me if the back would be a problem, and as I sit here, I can give it a couple(or at least a one and a half) of thumbs up. Next weeks full 6 game schedule may say more, Sam has a Thursday scrimmage at Minster, I have opted for no more until the season begins at Delphos Jefferson next Monday.
2 of my favorite music videos of baseball:
John Fogerty(Creedence) Center Field:
and Alabama with Cheap Seats:

Next Weeks Schedule:(with miles to drive, total back and forth)

3/31-At Delphos Jefferson vs Kalida(JV) with Sam...(60 Miles)

4/1-At Parkway(Rockford) vs Spencerville(Varsity)(16)

4/2-At Upper Scioto Valley vs Bluffton(Varsity) with Sam(90)

4/3 At Delphos Jefferson vs Delphos St Johns(Varsity)(60)

4/4 At Ottawa-Glandorf vs Miller City(Varsity)(110)

4/5 At Celina vs Vandalia-Butler(Freshman) Double Header(1)

Now with the uncertain spring weather, it's any body's guess how many of those will be played or rained of now the forecast isn't good.

Sam and I have about 15 games together this season, we usually worked 7 or 8, but with the price of fuel, it is a little easier on the profit margin if we work together or with other veteran umpires from Celina....yesterday I was contracted for the opening Sectional Tournament games at Crestview(Convoy) for May 10th, and will work them with Garry Mosier, from Celina....since I'm on Garry's board at MRS, we work together on occasion as well....speaking of which, Garry, Sam, and I have one more umpire rules meeting we will attend, tonight in Van Wert.
photo-me at work in a tournament game a few summers ago.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up/High School Baseball

We had Easter dinner(brunch/lunch) at our house yesterday. Sister Marty, brother-in-law, 2 of their 3 daughters, one daughter's fiance'. Hal was home from Dayton, and Sam made it back from Edmonton, Canada, around noon. Watched some basketball, had some conversation, and a nice 3 hour get together for the Holy Day. With the family spread around the country for Florida to California, and Ohio.....these type get together's are not all that frequent, and a welcome.

Basketball Weekend________

With my favorite Duke Blue Devils eliminated, my prediction "Brackets" are pretty much "Blown Up"....I hit a good 15 or 16 on day #1 Thursday, but it's been all down hill since. I've got a few teams, including Kansas, my Champion pick left, but for the most part at least half of my teams moving on have been eliminated.

Mersman building________

As you can see from the photos above...the 100 year old Mersman Table building across the street is now almost a complete pile.....the photos are from November, January, and yesterday....with the Ohio EPA controlling process, this mess will still take a while to guess is another 2 years before the debris is gone.


The major league season begins on March 30th, with a full schedule in force on Monday March 31st. Our High School baseball season begins on the 31st as well. Actually we have scrimmages scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday, Sam and I are together at Fort Recovery High School for a Varsity Scrimmage tomorrow, but I doubt if that will happen....the sun may be out for now, but I doubt if even the predicted 40 MPH winds tomorrow will dry things addition we have a 60% chance of looks like the season will get off to a slow start. Sam and I are also together March 31st at Delphos Jefferson......with about 40 regular season dates(including 6 double headers), we are together about 18 times. We usually only work 6 or 7 dates together a season, but with the gas prices and the fact we work well as a team, we are contracting more varsity contests together each season.

Still to be decided this week is if mom is going to come home early(this week) from Naples, or will stay into or through April, and her and brother Mike come back together. If she decides to come home this weekend, I will fly to Fort Myers/Naples Airport Thursday, and stay with Kelly and her husband Mike, then drive mom back to Ohio over the weekend....will figure that out by tomorrow, so I can make plans either way.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nha Trang, RVN part 2

Climbing into C-130 that early July morning I got my first real glimpse of Vietnam...miles, and miles of forests, that was the view was from the open hatch of that lumbering airplane as it headed east and north up the coast of South Vietnam. It was around noon when the plane landed at Nha Trang's combination concrete and laid metal runway. I had made it this far!

I would settle in Nha Trang for the next 6 months, and as I look back, it would be my favorite time in the Air Force, the time I actually transformed from the small town teen into someone who actually challenged authority and thought for myself. I was assigned to day shift(A Flight) Law Enforcement, Phil Lange was my NCOIC, and Melvin Sloan was my flight supervisor. Staff Sgt Sloan was a tall black man who had served nearly 20 years in the Air Force, this was a man I respected and became close with, despite our differences, those being, he was black and a "lifer" and me being lily white, with no intentions of staying in past 4 years.

The 14th SPS had good sleeping quarters, a base outdoor theater across the street from our barracks. In addition, as SPs we had our own little movie house where we consumed drinks and snacks while watching the latest movies or TV...this is where I would watch our home area hero, Neil Armstrong, step foot on the Moon. Basically I spent the 6 months drinking beer, working on my tan at the beach, or heading to the red light district for "entertainment" Despite a war zone, it was indeed good duty, at least for this 20 year old kid from western Ohio, via the beaches of southwest Florida.

Things went fairly smooth for my tour at Nha Trang, we did have one nasty rocket attack in October 1969, and a few mortar shots fired into the base.....but nothing serious, being surrounded by the Green Berets at Camp McDermott didn't hurt in that regard....we were well protected, mountains on one side, beach and sea on the other, and the Army Special Forces next door.

In late November came the bad news...The 14th was disbanding, they were sending most of us out...I watched guys I hung with leave for other various bases or home. Johnny Claflin went to Phu Cat, Harry Beven headed back to Philly, where he would become a veteran police office with the PPD. Marcus Payan would head back to the states, and end up in Federal law in El Paso. Melvin Sloan, Bruce Thompson, and Phil Lange would head back home, or to other bases stateside...most of those guys I have contact with today, many have joined the VSPA:

Late in 1969 there were two tragic aircraft accidents at the base. First in October, a fighter jet barreled off the wrong end of the runway near the main gate. The pilot ejected and survived, however, a couple of Army guys in a ton and a half were killed as were several civilians walking along the beach roadway. Just before Christmas, while on LE duty, we received word that an Air Vietnam Airliner had a small explosion on board, and was would try a emergency landing at Nha Trang. Our jobs as SPs was to make sure the rubber neckers and picture takers were far enough from the runway to keep them safe, and away from the possible carnage. We secured the runway despite some harassment from a couple of Army Warrant Officers who tried to "pull rank", needless to say, that didn't work, Hell, we were in charge!

The plane was carrying about 75-80 passengers and crew, the landing gear was lowered by hand because of the damage. The crew made one "touch and go" landing attempt before turning and making the final attempt...the plane hit the runway hard and slid down the runway, before taking out part of the local elementary school house and several houses at the end...(in my original story I had stated no one on the ground was killed, but this was wrong), about 10 civilians, including a couple of students on the ground were killed, as were a dozen or so on the plane....more than 25 total if I recall correctly. The Air Force Fire Protection guys earned their keep that day, as did the 14th Security Police....looking back, it's a sight I shall never forget.

A few days before the December 22nd plane disaster I had received my orders to transfer out of Nha Trang....I would ship out 12/27/69 for Saigon and Tan Son Nhut, going from one of the smaller Security Police units to one of the largest in the world. The 377th SPS at the Saigon Airport and Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base....instead of A Flight LE, I would work overnights, C Flight Security, manning the towers, walking the flight lines, and eventually driving the coffee Jeep on Blue was good duty, not much Chicken Shit to contend with, although some of the gung ho types tried their best.

Funny thing is, I can remember a dozen or more names and faces from Nha Trang, but nary a hand full from the much larger unit. Nha Trang was indeed my favorite duty station, and if given the option, I probably would have spent the remainder of my enlistment there...but that was not to be, and after my stint with the 377th at TSN, I would head to Griffiss AFB, New York....but that is another story.


After working for an hour or so yesterday at Greenville, I headed north to Fort Wayne, and met up with my buddy Rick at the Allen County mentioned before this place has one of the largest Genealogy sections in the nation....and folks come from around the country to do research. It had been 5 years or so since I last visited, and I was impressed. As for me and Rick, two outdoor guys in their late 50s sitting around doing hours of research in a Public Library....who would have thunk it?

Rick is doing some good research, as for me, I had done the bulk of Houseworth Genealogy,

between 1999 and 2002, it now comes in dribbles and spurts, but even yesterday I found a few items I didn't know and will post them on the Ancestor blog.


Easter weekend is upon us, we will have sister Marty's family over Sunday, meanwhile March Madness had descended on us, and I have hit between 14 and 15 of 16 on my various "brackets"...a good start, but if Duke had not pulled that game out, 71-70 over underdog Belmont last night, I could have chucked them all in the trash. Meanwhile yesterday, youngest son Hal finished up his Senior Year at Wright State University in Dayton....he will take a few months off, then in August begin his Masters Program in High School History....down the road he hopes to teach HS History and coach baseball....but that is a year or more off.
photos-Me and my trusty Jeep in September 1969, Nha Trang Beach as it looks today, Payan, Bevan, and Sgt Ky of the South Viet QC at the Nha Trang Main Gate in October 1969, and Me(R) and Harry Bevan in August 1969 on patrol(or goofing off).
Say a special prayer for Jeff's(FHB) family, just found out his father, whom he wrote about often on his blog has passed away this week.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nha Trang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam

Back in 1999 shortly after finding and joining the Vietnam Security Police Association:

I started to dig up all the old memories of my tour in Vietnam, during the so-called 'war'. Unlike many, I didn't come back with ugly memories of the conflict, don't have PTSD, don't have nightmares from that year, and all-in-all I actually consider that year, the only 1 of my 4 year Air Force tour that I actually enjoyed. I know, it sounds strange...and the Air Force, other than those involved in Special Ops or pilots are not known as combat types....the closest we came to combat, were the Air Force Security Police(nee' Air Police). And that's what I was. After a short stay at Dover AFB, Delaware, I headed over to Vietnam and a base on the South China Sea, called Nha Trang.

Here is the little story I penned for VSPA back in 1999 on the 30th anniversary of my deployment:

Nha Trang AB, 1969

After leaving San Francisco on June 29, 1969, I arrived at Tan Son Nhut(Saigon) on July 1st....I would stay in the Transit Barracks their that night before heading out to my semi permanent duty station at Nha Trang, several hundred miles north, the next day.

As the C-130 lumbered out of TSN heading north to Nha Trang, I had time to reflect. As I looked out the open cargo hatch down at the trees and jungle below, I looked back on the past year and how I came to be there.

"June 1968 I left Columbus, Ohio, on my first ever plane flight, one that would take me to Amarillo AFB in the Texas Panhandle for Basic Training. The reasons I joined the Air Force were simple. I was not inclined to be a draft dodger, but I was not gung ho for the war either. My brother Mike's best friend David Kim Deeter was killed in April was serving with the 1st Infantry. Kim had decided to the the draft take him rather than serve 4 didn't work out. Then after I joined and was in Amarillo, I received word that my cousin, Jackie Ray Poling had been killed in a fire fight with the 101st Airborne. Jack and were born in the small town of Scott, Ohio, he was aged between me and Mike....our families moved to south Florida together in 1953. As it turned out, Jack was a reason I still live to this day....he had saved my life when we were kids, pulling me out of a canal that we were swimming across near Englewood, Florida. I was a poor swimmer at that time, Jack was an all around outdoors man, and an excellent swimmer...I was 10, Jack 11 or 12, Mike, Jack, and I were in deep water going across the canal, I panicked, and grabbed at Mike, and then started to go under...Jack swam up behind me, grabbed me around the neck, and pulled me across to shore....if not for him, I would not have made it. Jack was gone at 20 years old, Kim Deeter was the same age. Those two, and guys like them, are the reason I did not dodge the draft....I would never disgrace the souls of men like them.

There was Amarillo, then Lackland, where I honed my "skills" as a Air Force Cop for 8 weeks, then off to Dover in the fall of 1968. There I spent my time drinking, getting used to being on my own, and humping the Nuclear Storage Mounds on the outer limits of Dover....I also spent the 7 months knowing that this life was not for me...4 years and I would be gone....I made several good friends at Dover, including Jack Gates from Sulfur, Oklahoma, we would meet again in Vietnam. I also learned a thing or two about those I served with...some honorable good men, some total assholes, like my NCOIC 'Smiling' Jack Adkins....TSgt Adkins was the reason, after a half year in Delaware, I decided to volunteer for South East Asia....Im sure now as I look back, Jack thought much of me, a smart assed 19 year old, as I did him. Time they say, brings things into focus.

My orders came in April 1969...Nha Trang AB, RVN, where the Hell was Nha Trang?, that was one base I had not heard of. After doing research, I found out that the base was situated on the shores of the South China Sea, across the bay some 25 miles from Cam Ranh Bay...a real resort of sorts. But heck I had no idea, I knew it was a war zone, and I knew what Security Police were required and expected to do there....was I nervous, excited? Probably a little of both, but I knew I was ready to get out of Dover and move on, and if Nha Trang was the place I was headed for, I was looking forward to it.

First off there was a leave of sorts back home in Ohio, then a trek back to Lackland(San Antonio) for AZR School, a combat preparedness course for Security Police...then back to Celina to finish out my leave, and then head for Vietnam".

Arriving at Nha Trang............part 2 next.

Flood waters have not hit west central Ohio, the heaviest rain has been to the south along the Ohio and Mississippi River Valley area. My guess is Bruno has seen more that his share of rain, add that to the ice they have been sacked with, and it has been one long wet winter. Guys like The Hermit have seen their drought conditions ease in north Georgia as well. As for me, I say "Enough!" scrimmage season is scheduled to start next Tuesday the 25th, with the regular season beginning March 31st.....right now I say both starts are in severe jeopardy.
photos-Me at Nha Trang Beach on July 4, 1969, a couple of days after arriving...Hon Trey Island in background, various views of Nha Trang, including the Market Place, a city overview with Hon Trey in background, or was it the Black Mountains?(I think both,the Black Mountains dwarf Hon Trey in front), can't really remember, and a view from the beach, and yes that is Hon Trey, where we had several cops stationed, including my buddies Bruce Thompson and Steve Walsh.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fumagating Fort Wayne....

I see our former impeached President will be visiting Fort Wayne, Indiana, this evening campaigning for his wife. Fort Wayne, home of my favorite pro hockey team, the Fort Wayne Komets, is located about 50 miles northwest of Celina. In addition to the Komets, Indiana's second largest city also is home to the San Diego minor league Wizards in Class A baseball in the Midwest League, whose games I usually get to a couple of times a also houses one of the top Genealogy Libraries in the nation, where I did many hours of research while working on my Houseworth, Waldron, Gibson, Nungaster, Feeley, and DeVore family roots.

I will be meeting up with my friend Rick, who now lives north of Fort Wayne, at the library Thursday morning, to check out the enlarged genealogy section. We will have a look around and see what they have added that might help in any future research.

Billy boy Clinton will be there this evening, hopefully they will have fumigated the city and cleared the air by the time I arrive Thursday....only person that would cause more "air" pollution in my mind, would be Obama's "Spiritual Advisor", the ever-so-holy Rev Jeremiah Wright.

Things could change however, if we get all the predicted rain the next couple of days. As I look at the radar this morning, I see much of the rain to the south and "training" east....but still much is expected to head our way, some places up to 5 inches...we do not need that, and if it happens in too large amounts, the 3 rivers that enter Fort Wayne have been known to flood a time or 2.

Spring is just a couple of days away, and the high school baseball scrimmage games begin next week....I have my doubts whether we will get many of those in before the baseball season begins for real on March 31st....I have a full schedule, with only Sundays and rain outs as day's off between March 31st and May 15th.....after a short break(depending on tournament games) the Summer ACME and American Legion seasons will take me into the last week of July....after that I should have a pretty good handle on my back and how it has reacted, before football season begins in August. Speaking of the back, right now, I would say it's about 80%, however, I still have not spent 2 or more hours running up and down a field, or bending over behind home plate....that I am looking forward to....for better or worse.

Monday, March 17, 2008

NCAA Bracket Buster Time/St Patrick's Day

I guess I could talk about the economy, which is on the verge of collapse....I could talk about the tragic car wreck locally over the weekend, which took the lives of 4 young men, aged 19 & 20, some of whom my youngest son coached in summer high school baseball.....I could talk about the idiot pastor that our wannabee President Barack Obama is now disavowing...I could talk about all that stuff....but why talk about bad news? There are plenty of outlets for that.

Instead I will talk about what most folks are talking about this morning....who are your picks for the March Madness known as the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament?

North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, and Kansas, are the #1 seeds....I have rooted for the Duke Blue Devils for over 20 years, so my team is seeded #2 in the west. Why Duke? Well, really no reason, except for Coach K and his style, and the fact he actually takes and recruits players that are college know, students, not paid guns? I went to Wright State, Hocking Tech, Trans-American, and lived at Ohio University in no real link to Duke...I root for Ohio State in football, and the Blue Devils in basketball...and won't change allegiance as long as Coach K is on the sidelines.

I've already picked out 5 brackets, and probably a couple of more "money' picks before Thursday Noon rolls consensus picks are Kansas, and with my heart I've picked Duke in a couple.....I also think Notre Dame, Xavier, and Louisville will do well, or at least better than expected. You couldn't get me to pick North Carolina with a gun stuck in my ribs....don't like the Tar Heels, never have, never will.....Dean Smith was a Vietnam War protesting assclown when I served, and he sat on his lazy ass on the UNC bench., while guys I knew fought and died. I've never forgotten that, and would never root for a team, playing on a floor that bears his if Duke doesn't make it, hopefully sometime early in the go, North Carolina will get dumped out.

Let the fun begin....the next couple of weeks are always enjoyable, as long as you don't take the games too seriously.....remember, it's only basketball, nothing important, just a diversion from the everyday grind.

St Patrick's Day!

I was born a couple of hours before St. Patty's Day in could not quite hold out long enough to make me a St. Patrick's Day baby.....but I got the name anyway. Mom being from the Irish Catholic side of the family, the choice was easy. Had an older brother named Mike...I'm sure you have heard of the old movie 'Mike and Pat' a couple of Irish my Great-Grandfather was aptly named Patrick Feeley....the Feeleys and Gibsons were my Irish I've always been fond of the Irish, and like a good Irish lad(and being from German roots as well, doesn't hurt), I've always like to bend the elbow on occasion.....HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY TO ALL!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Floppy Problem"/March Madness

The problem with the Floppy, Disk that is....the one thing about Sony Floppy Disk Cameras is they use the old floppy disk, which as my oldest son says are "old news"...usually you get about 20 photos per .30 cent disk, and they are easy to load into the computer....for some reason, the disk I used on the first 3 days of the RV delivery west, went belly up after posting a couple of photos on Thursday, and I can't get the rest out....sad to say I had about 3 or 4 more I wanted to post, you'll just have to take my word for it.....sorry.

Meanwhile the drive to California reached it's final full day...crossing into the Mojave Desert from Arizona we were greeted with Diesel and gar prices approaching and exceeding $4.00 a gallon....The Peoples Republic of California is a nice weather shithole, which is amazing anybody with a brainwave would live can have your nice weather, the taxes, benefits for illegals, crime, and did I mention taxes?, and stuff it....I really despise the place...I have a niece, a best friend from high school, and old home town buddies that now live in southern California(some for more than 30 years)...and I still look at them like they are from outer space....why, I still wonder?

The temps were nice, in he mid 70s across the desert towards Barstow then L.A......Sam dropped his Sun Voyager off in Upland, the check in took an hour or so, then we had 8 hours to kill before our "red eye" flight out of LAX International. Here is how it went....

Cab ride to train station/train to LA's Union Station/bus to LAX....the Airport watching NCAA basketball for 4 hours/plane flight to Pittsburgh, arriving at 6AM Eastern Time/flight west to Chicago's O'Hare Field, arriving at 8am Central Time/airport shuttle bus to Mishawaka, Indiana, arriving at 1pm EDT, then a shuttle cab to Nappanee. There we dropped off our paper work, discussed the RV situation in Albuquerque, NM, which is still a strange, but for later story, and finally a 2+ hour drive back to Celina in the Dodge....after a quick shower, Sam and I headed back to Van Wert for the umpire rules about a long 36 hours for this old man! No wonder it has taken me 3 days to catch up on my sleep.


March Madness----

Since I have been trying to get this body back on Eastern Time from the 5 day and little sleep trip, something not easy for someone who turns 59 tomorrow, I have had a chance to watch plenty of college basketball. The NCAA Tournament begins next week, this week the various leagues are having their league "playoffs" so to speak...and add that to the Ohio High School tournaments(which a cousin is the leading scorer on one of the northern area teams) that finish up this week, I have had plenty of time to "vegetate" and watch hoops....the weather has warmed up, and the snow from the storm is gone, replaced by rain yesterday.

--click on this link, then the video to see an amazing end to the Minnesota/Indiana Big Ten Tournament game....the kid that hits the winning shot, made an even more spectacular shot 3 years ago in the Minnesota High School Tournament, which is also shown:

One of many spectacular shots that should keep me entertained for the next couple of weeks...while I get myself and my body in ready for baseball season.

photos-got a few left despite my best disk being trashed....they include (a) gas prices reaching $4 a gallon in Needles, California(b) Entering the Mojave on I-40(c) a sepia shot of the I-40 rest area and mountains in background off the Interstate, 100 miles from Barstow(d) The snow peaked San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles(e) Inside of the train to LA from Upland(LA and So Cal have some of the finest transportation of any big city, one of the few pluses to being out there)and (f) me, not even bothering to suck in the gut, on the bus out of Union Station to LAX, to tired and wired to care.