A GRANDMOTHER AND HER SOLDIER

A GRANDMOTHER AND HER SOLDIER

This a picture of my father and his grandmother. It was taken in the spring of nineteen forty three.

He had just completed boot camp, and somehow made his way from Sandiego California to Arthur Indiana for a brief visit.

They had no way of knowing, that they would not see each other again for over three years.

He was about to be sent to Guadacanal, Guam, Saipan, Peileiu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and eventually Japan.

He would be chosen for the First Marine Raider Battalion. They were Special Forces trained to do things, I will write about another time. I bring this up, because this week is his birthday. He was born at midnight February nineteenth. Because of this he always said his birthday was February nineteenth and twentieth. Even his obits couldn’t get it straight, so he pulled it off all his life and even afterwards.

My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow the seventeenth. She almost held out long enough. They never got to meet. She was conceived within days of his death. In our family we always say they passed each other on the way up and down.

That would be just like my dad. ” Once a Marine always a Marine”. He would have made sure someone took his place on the Battlefield of life to fill that void.

Where did he learn to be that way?

A lot of the credit goes to that little woman standing next to him. She raised him for much of his early childhood.

She was born in 1868, but I knew her. I was thirteen when she died. I miss her.

Happy Birthday Dad! I miss you.

Happy Birthday Daughter. I miss you too.

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How do you know where to go this year?

How do you know where to go this year?

If you get lost in the woods, it is most likely that if you are lost long enough you will walk in a circle. You may have heard this saying. It may seem like folklore, but it is not. It has happened to me twice in my life. Both times involved deer hunting.
The first time I was twelve years old and hunting with my Uncle Buddy and my brother and my cousin Steve. Uncle Buddy was more like an older brother since he was only in his late twenties. My brother was ten and a half and cousin Steve was thirteen.
Uncle Buddy was the only one with a gun. It was a twelve gauge pump shotgun. It was illegal to hunt a deer with a rifle in Indiana. It still is. It’s a good law. You have to understand our terrain.
The plan was for the cousins to walk in a semicircle, acting kind of like a Beagle jumping rabbits. Uncle Buddy would wait on a hillside in a thicket by a deer run, where he had seen many deer cross at mid morning in recent weeks. It was a plan that had worked in the past and we were excited to get started.
The three of us took off to our right, which we knew to be east by north east. The sun was shining bright and there were tracks to be found of various sizes, since the trails were soft from the rains from the morning before. We didn’t follow a true semi circle, but tried our best to stick to the deer runs, while adjusting direction from time to time, to make sure we stayed on the course as planned.
If we followed the route correctly, we would come upon a dirt farm road, that would lead us right back to Uncle Buddy who would be waiting with the deer. Such rugged men we would be.
After a couple deviations from the deer run and the creeping cloudiness that hid the sun from us, we became a little disoriented. We were lost.
Our leader was thirteen years old, so we had total confidence, and were also totally lost. Well; maybe not totally lost. There were only forty acres on my Grandmother’s family’s old home stead. If you add the surrounding farms that didn’t always have fences as guides to show boundaries, and the increasing cloudiness that hampered our ability to tell direction then I guess you could say we were totally lost.
After more than three hours of this we caved into the fact that we were still boys, and began yelling for Uncle buddy. For quite some time we heard not a peep. We passed the same fallen tree twice and finally decided to forget about plans and take off across the pasture in front of us and that’s when we spotted the farm road that was our goal. Just about then we heard Uncle Buddy’s voice hollering for us. Now all we had to do was follow the fence row by the dirt road as his voice got louder and eventually we could tell he heard us too.
We were embarrassed, but Uncle Buddy was easy on us. I’m pretty sure he’d been in that fix before.
There was no game taken that day, but we did learn about walking in circles.
The next time this happened to me, I was hunting alone on a cloudy day. I got to the woods long before daylight and made my way slowly to a special spot I had chosen weeks before.
Just before daylight I saw two very large bucks. Both were within range, but the light would not allow a safe or accurate shot. Uncle Buddy had always taught me, if you aren’t sure don’t shoot. One shot is all you need. It’s also more humane for the animal.
By the time I reached my sweet spot it was still dark and cloudy, and the low temps and moisture that surrounded me made me shiver.
After a couple hours of waiting with no action at all, I figured the deer I had seen were heading for a comfortable spot when I saw them, and the only way to find them was to jump them from their comfortable hiding places.
I took off towards the north, with the plan to circle around clockwise until I was heading south, back toward the road where I was parked. Does any of this sound familiar?
At east two hours after I had given up on jumping a deer. My mind was more on making it back to the road than any thing else.
The second time I passed through that stand of dead trees, in the spot where it probably flooded during heavy rains in warm weather, making it uninhabitable for them, I remembered to start looking at the moss on the trees. With the clouds so heavy the sun was at best a cross reference.
Once again; here’s something that many consider a myth or folklore. Once again I assure you it is not.

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With the help of the moss on the trees and the patchy clouds as a cross reference I eventually made my way back to the truck.
Once again no game was taken, but this time it wasn’t the dumb luck of a twelve year old boy, but the experience handed down to me that helped.
The pictures were taken on January 1st 2014. the moss is on the north side and the south side shows no moss.
As we start the New Year let’s remember to look for the signs all around us. Be they from nature, or
media or from cyberspace, they are there. Pay attention and discern their meaning. Follow your gut and what you have been taught from those you know and love and trust.
Try not to walk in circles.

Two boys in a tub

Yes my friends, the world was once black and white. Wolves roamed the forest, and the days passed much slower.xmas 13 snow @ Uschi 9-10 mo@misc 075
This photo was taken in 1952, and I am the cute one.IMG_0393
The side roads were dirt, and state roads were some new stuff called asphalt. It wasn’t really all that new, since it was used in Babylon around 625 B.C. All the rest of the roads were half dirt and half gravel, and some were pea gravel and tar. Those were great, except for the summer when the tar got soft and splattered vehicles that traveled on it, sometimes even hitting the wind shields.
There were no Interstate highways. The Federal Highway act wasn’t passed until 1956.
That was Pike County shortly after World War Two.
Pike County was the first County formed when Indiana became a State, but had the least population and lowest per capita income. It’s still that way today.
We drank from ground wells called cisterns and dried our clothes on a line in the summer and inside in winter. We used an outhouse until close to 1970 or later. Our vegetables and fruit were grown on my grandfather’s land and canned and stored in a cellar below ground under a building called the wash house.
The wash house and the house for living in and the out house were all built by my Grandfather who was a World One Veteran.
He was a carpenter and a plumber and a coal miner and farmer and an electrician and very handy.
Families were very close, and we got together most weekends. The cousins would play all day and then take turns getting baths in the washtubs. The water came from the well, and after two or three little ones got done, a couple more would hop into the same water.
After baths it was supper time. I never remember eating dinner in Pike county at any time of day.
Since this picture is taken in summer time, I know we had fresh vegetables and probably watermelon, which required another semi bath. Uncle Buddy probably had a mess of fish for us, or if it was late summer some squirrels.
We had a lot of baths in those tubs, and I can still taste the squirrels and the feeling of working my tongue to get those watermelon seeds up front, where I could spit them at my cousins if no one was watching.
The smells are still with me too. Smells like sweet corn and the sweat before the bath and the warm summer air filled with grass and all kinds of wild living things.
Somewhere along the line the world turned to color, just as it did for Dorothy riding that cyclone to a strange land.
Remembering my child hood dreams now, I think they were my cyclone. Unaware; I went forward through time and color and all the changes, and can only look back at a world that was black and white and simple and joyful as two boys in a tub.