Sunday, August 31, 2008

Waiting for Gustav

The air is almost eerily still, as if nature is pausing, catching its breath before a massive exhale. It's been still all day, and hot as blazes with humidity so high you feel as if you can't breathe. Gustav is coming. Actually, projections right now have the main part of the storm coming ashore east of Morgan City and moving through the state to the northwest, right through central Louisiana.

When I was little and a hurricane was coming we'd get together at the neighbors and the adults would play Rook all night as we kids watched and played until we got too tired to keep our eyes open. Fun stuff. We had coal oil lamps (kerosene lamps, for younger people) and candles for light if the power went off. Since we didn't have air conditioning, it didn't make any difference as far as staying cool. Naturally, there were no 24-hour news channels giving us breathless up-to-the minute updates that don't change from hour-to-hour, let alone minute-to-minute. I sometimes think we get way too much information now, because most of it is useless fluff that makes people too nervous. I guess that's the price of progress.

More to follow as Gustav permits.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The big 55

Actually, I'm pretty jazzed to be hitting the big double nickle. Things are going great with the Army (with retirement in December coming at me like a fun freight train:)), I have a great family, and I am just having a good time all around. I have reached the point in life where I can say what I feel at work because there's not much anyone can do about it.

I'm at Ft. Polk right now, preparing to do some pre-retirement stuff. It's interesting the way things have come full circle. I enlisted in the Army in January 1973 up in Shreveport, because that's where the testing station was. After we were sworn in we were taken to the bus station to catch a bus to Ft. Polk and I figured I'd better let someone know where I was going. I called Aunt Rosa May (she lived in Shreveport and I only had a quarter) and asked her to call Mama and Daddy and let them know I was on my way to Ft. Polk and would call when I could. I think it was a couple of weeks before we could call. Anyway, I took Basic Combat Training at Polk and here I am coming back here to do retirement stuff. I think I'll participate in a retirement ceremony here in December or January, ending where I started. Cool. I also was stationed here for 4 years (1988 - 1992) and during that time I had the great good fortune to serve as Commander of the 539th Heavy Equipment Maintenance Company (General Support). They were great guys and gals, and we deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the first Gulf War. More about that another time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!!

Thoughts on approaching (tomorrow) 55.

What the Heck?!?!?! I was 20 just yesterday!! What happened?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Days

When I first typed the title I actually typed "Simmer Days", but my teacher misspelling radar kicked in and I fixed it. But, "Simmer" has been pretty accurate the past couple of weeks. Yesterday and today were nice, at least, temperature wise, but it rained most of this afternoon. No problem, because we needed it.

Summer sure is different from when I was a kid. We lived out on the north side of Little River and we didn't go to town much after school was out. Looking back from the perspective of a 54 (almost 55)-year old father of four and grandfather of three with two more on the way, I totally understand that now. There were six of us, and we were pretty rambunctious, to put it kindly. Fights were not uncommon. In fact, Cay won a pretty good many for a number of years. We had a Volkswagen van with a school bus seat in it. We filled the seat, sat on the engine compartment in the back, or sat on the floor. Seat belts? Not even for the driver and passenger seats. When we went to Daddy's Master's graduation from Northeast he put a kitchen chair in it for Grandma McClure. The floor was metal and driving down a road covered in pea gravel would make your head vibrate. Needless to say, no AC either. That's what windows were for. At one time we also had a big Buick Wildcat, but 6 kids fill up one of those pretty quick, too.

Since we didn't go to town much (once or twice a month to see Grandma and Grandad Godwin), we amused ourselves on the riverbank, in the woods, playing (or fighting) with neighbor kids, reading, playing under the house, etc, etc. I didn't like to go barefoot much, but the others did. Of course, even tennis shoes won't stop a big old thorn, so every now and then Mama would have to operate to get one out. The victim would never stay still because digging around with a needle to get that thorn out hurt like the devil! There was usually an appreciative crowd, too.

No AC in the house, either, but there was a big attic fan that would pull air in all the windows. Not necessarily cool air, but air. Many's the night we lay there with sweat trickling, covered with a sheet. Had to have the sheet to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Mike and I had a bunk bed with me on the top bunk and him on the bottom. It was positioned right by the window, with the top part of the window lowered and the bottom part raised so we could get some air. Whew! The bunk prompted a few fights, too. I guess it offends someone if the person on the top bunk steps on them when they get down. Who knew? Anyway, we survived.

The Bookmobile was always a highlight during the summer. For the unanointed, a Bookmobile is a big van (they'd be called an RV now) with bookshelves crammed with books from the town library that covered a route down all the country roads and lanes so the people out in the country could get library books. It was heaven to us, because we all read voraciously. The Bookmobile ladies had to be some of the most patient in the world, to put up with all us country kids. At our house, each one of us would get all the books allowed. By the time they came back in two weeks we'd have read all our books and all the books our brothers and sisters had checked out. Great stuff!

There's lots more, but it will have to wait for another time.