Friday, August 27, 2010

What a Week it has Been

In 1961, after ten busy and happy years, I left the Air Force as a Tech Sergeant to become a Field Engineer with McDonnell Aircraft Company. I really didn't want to leave the Air Force but service pay was not very good when you had a family of seven. Ironically, not long after I left the Air Force the government came up with a lot of improvements in the support of enlisted personnel and a month after I got out I heard that I had been on the promotion list to Master Sergeant. However, all of this was too late for me to go back.

I loved my years and work at McDonnell and the people I worked with were some of the greatest co-workers a person could work with. I'm not going to say our work was easy because it was long hours, hard, work and there were a lot of painful family separations, like cruises with the Navy and deployments with the Marines. I went on a carrier qualification cruise off the Virginia coast with a hectic flight and maintenance schedule. That was on the USS Independence and our accomodations were far enough forward that we had a catapult right over our head. I can assure you that there was no sleep from 5:30 in the morning until well into the night.

Then there was the shakedown cruise of the brand new (then) nuclear carrier Enterprise in the Caribbean working out of Guantanamo, Cuba. Two weeks after Lisa was born we were off on a cruise (several months) to the Mediterranean Sea. Three or four days after we got back to Norfolk in October we were off again for a couple of months on the Cuban Blockade with no days in port. It was nerve-wracking with long hours and hard work and by the time I got back home I probably looked a lot like the picture (a classic sketch from the old days of what a Field Service Engineer looked like - I have no idea who drew it but it IS a classic.

Meanwhile, my wife was holding down the homefront and I will never be able to repay her for all she did. She watched over five very young children. She endured all kinds of trials in the process and I cannot express my deep love for her enough for all she put up with.

Likewise, it taught me a lesson on the the trials and tribulations service families go through and fills me with pride in our Armed Forces families. I learned what they go through and I salute them.

Well, I looked in the mirror over the weekend, at the height of our moving experience and suddenly I saw a figure that really reminded me of this ancient picture.I can assure you,
I was no budding beauty when we were at the most challenging time of the move. At the moment I'm looking less like the cartoon - but a lot older and I hope a bit wiser.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Remember When?

Remember these people?

They make up the cast of one of my favorite TV shows from yesterday - and I've never seen rerun CD's advertised. The program: "WKRP in Cincinnati"

I think most people would remember the show as one of those clever comedy shows from way back. For me, it became personal because it reminded me of radio stations I worked for WAY WAY WAY back. Every station I worked for had at least one of the WKRP cast members and some of them had several. One station had a remarkable receptionists - but definitely NOT a Loni Anderson. She wore huge glasses, was crosseyed, and stumbled over her own feet. I can't describe her telephone voice - but Ma Kettle had a mellow voice compared to this girl. However, she was a very nice person and was the General Manager's daughter. What more could one ask for?

I think Herb was the salesman for WKRP and he had a counterpart at a station I worked for. Wore loud jackets and was a local swinger - always after the ladies. And one of the announcers was a bitter old man who was known to tear up a commercial script on the air if there was one typographical error on it. I had to retype a lot of scripts -- I was lousy typist - and it was a challenge because we used carbon copies - we had no copy machines in those days.

At another station the announcing staff played tricks on other announcers while they were on the air doing news. Things like balancing a large recording on the announcers head while he's got his hands full of scripts. Or setting scripts on fire five minutes before the end of a show so that the last few minutes were ad libbed. Or tying shoe laces locking shoes together in the middle of a newscast so he has to fight terrible knots when the show was over.

The picture above, one way or another represents real people I have known and worked with in my radio years. And who was I?

Probably Les Nesman - The WKRP news/weatherman who was so often the victim of staff shenanigans. And had so many off the wall failures of special events. Naive? Yep.Fall guy? Yep. But as a memory I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I asked her, "Do you know where the (fill in the blank) is?" Her answer: "It's in one of the boxes." "What box?" I asked, "and is it in the condo or the house?" The response: "Can't say for sure but it's around here somewhere"

Sort of reminds me of Joyce's sister who made a move a few miles down the road a bit a couple of months ago. It went pretty well except that one or two things couldn't be found.
Finally only one thing was still missing - a package of cheese. Maybe it will get ripe enough a few months from now that they'll find it. But isn't that normal for a move -- even with the best laid plans something is always missing when the move is over. Wonder what ours will be.

Seems like that is a question every person asks one time or another when they are going through a move. We have had more than our share -- and here we go again. We're heading for 'true' retirement in Indianapolis and I would say that it's the last move we'll ever make but that's been a cliche with us for decades. If my calculations are correct, we've made 46 moves in almost 57 years of married life, most of which we had no real control over. In our first 9 years of marriage there were 23 moves because of Air force transfers. A few of these were moves from one trailer to another but a move is a move and challenging any way you do it. The moves kept up through the ministry years as well. And as I said, after 1997
I swore up and down that each move was the last one we'd make.

So here we are, surrounded by boxes, things we can't find because they are packed, and moving day is still a week off. Fortunately, we are agreeable with each other - when you've made as many moves as we have we've learned how to shrug our shoulders and say, "It'll be over in a week or two". We believe. We hope. We pray.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. And this is the last move. (Sure!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Life Is Short

One of my very special friends is a retired pastor who still serves a church in Montgomery, Alabama. Let me correct myself - a pastor AND HIS WIFE, for both of them have influenced my life in many ways for forty years. They will never know how grateful I am for their friendship.

They both are prolific writers and he has written a new book, "Life is Short.....So Laugh Often, Live Fully, and Love Deeply." Likewise, his wife has written a new book, "The Yellow Butterfly....and other Nuggets of Faith in Prose and Poetry." I heartily recommend both of these.

I've had a number of opportunities to visit and work with Walter over the years. However, I don't think I've realized how much our lives have paralleled. I grew up in a farming community in New York and he grew up in a farming community in Alabama (and I believe he still lives where he grew up). He and Dean have lived through a lot of the joys, frustrations, victories and losses, hurts and healings, that Joyce and I have gone through. And survived. Even flourished.

I started reading his book one afternoon and only set it down for supper - and then I was back to reading again. I nodded my head in agreement time and time again, and I will treasure the books - they're the kind I will go back and read again - and again. His admonition that life is short is true - when you think about it there are a lot of memories in ages seventy and eighty. But if one is optimistic, there are still dreams to dream and paths to follow. Walter helps one to find the way - even when there are stumbling blocks down the road. His wife Dean has a gift of poetry - a lot of it comes across as prayers and maybe confessions on the reality of life.

So, I want to commend both of these books to everyone I can. They will make your life richer, bring peace into a troubled soul, and encouragement for your future life. If you'd like their address, let me know by comment or on Facebook. Better yet, you can get them through

As a last thought - Walter has written several other books. One of my favorites over the years is one titled, "If You Want To Walk on Water, "You Have to Get Out of Your Boat" Think about that when you have doubts of what to do in life.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Friend Reminded Me....

I just took a walk down memory lane with a dear friend of mine. It was by way of a book he wrote which will be the subject of one of my blogs in a week or so.

I was reminded in one his chapters of the days before huge round bales of hay we see all over the fields in the summer. To be true, these round bales are practical - probably much easier to reap and much easier to store. However, that being said, some of the joy I remember in farming is gone.

When I was growing up we got hay just like the picture above. I'd go down the hill to our valley neighbors and hop on the wagon along with three or four others to ride out to a nearby hayfield. Someone had already mowed the grass (for the lack of a better word) and after it had been cured and dried for a bit it would be raked into rows using a big horsedrawn hay rake which took a strong leg to kick the release when we dumped the hay.

Then came the wagon. No balers - no machine to load the hay. It took strong arms to pitch the hay onto the wagon - and it was especially hard for some of us young'uns when the hay got high in the wagon. I guess I was lucky because I usually rode on the wagon to balance the hay load. When the hay was all aboard, everybody climbed on top and we rode to pitch the hay into the haymow (no fancy hooks or devices to mechanically transfer the hay into the barn).

The reward was a few small coins from the farmer but more importantly was the opportunity to play hide and go seek or slide down a chute from the haymow to the main floor. We'd go home saturated with hay and seeds and so I guess we really lived up to the old nickname of "just another country hick hayseed".

So, as we drove north to Alpena yesterday we went through modern hayfields replete with huge round bales ready to be hauled back to a storage area - but not to a hayloft. And I thought,
times have changed - and farming with it. But I'm glad for my memories.