Thursday, May 30, 2013

Off We Go...


 Cal it what you want -  Valiant - Vibrator - I've even heard it called the Vomiter. No matter, it's official designation was the Vultee BT-13. It was a World War Two basic trainer (BT) in both the Air Corps and the Navy. When the war ended a zillion of these planes were a dime a dozen on the surplus market. Well, not quite that cheap, but you could get one for a very few hundred dollars and that how I came to fly in one right after the war  And my father was furious  when he found out I had done it.

I was working for a local news paper and the editor was looking for some special way to recognize our fallen veterans in some special way. There was always a parade. There was always the eleven o-clock Legion salute at the village flagpole. What would be  different but appropriate way to celebrate Memorial Day?

About that time one of our Air Corps vterans came into the newspaper office and the editor rose out of his chair and said, "Eureka - I know what we can do -- we can have a flyover above the cemetery."  It so happened that the vet had just taken delivery of -- you guessed it, a BT-13 and was flying out of local strip.
Then a second light came - let's drop flowers over the cemetery. Since the plane had a rear seat, with a canopy that could be slidopen when flying. Guess who was volunteered to occupy the back seat with a basket (or lap) full of cut flowers.
Memorial Day dawned perfect and we finally bounced into the air and headed for town. Lower and lower we flew heading for the cemetery. Finally the pilot called over the intercom for me to get ready to drop the flowers. With never having done anything like this before, and no bombsight at hand, the drop turned out to be a by-guess and by-golly experience with cut lilacs en doneup all over town - probably everywhere except the cemetery.
Duty done, we hedge-hopped toward where I lived. What an opportunity to give the family athrill  as we buzzed my house on the way back to the airstrip. Landing we connected with the ground
with three resounding bounces. Needless to say, the runway was extremely rough and it had a significant dip half way down.
Savoring my first flying experience I got home to find my father ranting and raging about that crazy flyer who "almost took of our roof" and my mother still quivering with fear.  You can imagine the  reaction when I announced that I was in the plane. It ended up with Dad pronouncing that I was never to fly in that airplane, from that airstrip again with that pilot again.
But it was a Memorial Day experience that still lives in my memory bank.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Many  many years ago, back in the past century, I worked in an office with a lot of other people and there was only one rest room. A unisex  bathroom if you want to call it that. It was an invitation to trouble.

People were supposed to use a sign signifying which sex was using it. But one day two people decided to do their business at the same time.  Yep, you guessed - one male and one female. The lady made her entry first and took possession of the furthest stall. A few moments later, ignoring the occupancy sign (more likely not even seeing it), the gent made took over the other stall.

Understand, please, that this man was one of the nicest people in the office and was very modest and reserved which raised the question of what to do when recognizing, under the wall, the feet  of a goodlooking secretary. She became aware of her male neighbor at the same time and they both began a waiting game. Who dares to leave first?

Meanwhile, some of the staff had noticed what had happened and whispers went around the office that two people - two sexes - had finally made the fateful mistake. I don't recall how long before the lady dared to depart but it was quite a while and she left to cheers by most of the other staff. A while later the man slinked out of the rest room to resounding laughter by his coworkers. The unthinkable had finally happened.

But this was not the last error by the man. He not only was modest and reserved, he also was somewhat absent minded. Several times he came in wearing different shoes. One black - one brown. Two different styles. Or he more often came in with different socks. Especially different colors.
Which today makes me wonder what one of our daughters was implying when she gave me the above socks for Christmas. Have I gotten so old that  I need to be reminded about the difference between right and left?

Thank goodness we have two bathrooms in the house. Essentially one  for him and one for her. No need for a sign on the the door. Oh, wait, maybe we need one for the tub/shower. Here's my reservation to go first tonight - after all, I like  hot water.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Round and Round the wheel goes.....

......and where it stops, nobody knows. So went the introduction to
 an old-time game show on radio (remember when?) and later on television. It seems to me that it involved a popular band and led to a phone call to some lucky person who would (if they answered) win the monstrous fortune of ten or fifty or so silver dollars. Wheel of Fortune it wasn't but it was a different time and age.
But the wheel in the picture was from another time as well.On the surface it might look like something a World War II pilot or aircraft navigator might use. It's not that - but it came out of the Korean Conflict era and was my treasure at the time. It's a circular slide  rule.
However, it  was a 'no-no' in college math classes in the late 1960's - I know because I tried to use it and the professor glared at me and said I needed to use a straight 'slip-stick' or none at all. This, of course was before the day of the hand-held calculator which was verboten as well. With the professorial admonition tattooed to my brain I managed to fail the course.
How things have changed. The old circular slide rule, with so many ways to calculate basic math and trig functions has been relegated to a memory  in my antique dresser. For some reason, it worked like magic for me and I could never get the same accuracy out of even the best straight slide rule. I finally graduated to  a basic calculator, and as they graduated to more and more capabilities I got used to them - up to a point. I'll leave the fancy engineering calculators to someone more inclined to someone who is into higher mathematics. I'm still happy with my 1970's basic unit.
Meanwhile, the old circular slide rule remains in the memory drawer. Like a lot of things, it has become the subject of children's sermons and show-and-tell sessions. The kids who see it say that it sure looks old - but then, again, so do I.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Lord Giveth, and the Wife Taketh Away

Well, the Lord gave me the ability to drag pictures into my blogs but apparently someone has taken that gift away. That ought to be tomorrow's challenge.

I meant to include a picture of my good half working in the yard this morning - and thinking about that intent, maybe she has found a way to spook the computer. Just for spite, I may put it on a wider
distribution - Facebook - because it's an interesting picture.

Several years ago she saw an advertisement for mail order trees. The catalog showed a lot of beautiful trees and the prices were amazing. We'd been looking for Mediterranean Poplars and so
the order was placed.  In a few days a package arrived marked 'perishable'. Opening it we found eight or ten spindly twigs and we proceeded to plant them.  And they grew, and grew, and grew. Not tall and stately like we had expected but bushy - but with branches heading in every direction. We asked ourselves, 'What have we done to our back yard?'. But then we thought, at least they were green so we just let them grow whatever way they chose to go.

But time flies, and as successive Springs came around the calendar bringing an unwelcome discovery each year. One by one these anticipated beauties started losing leaves. A closer look revealed that the trunks were beginning to have rotten places and major limbs were dying. In time the entire trees died one by one and each year one or another was converted to waste wood.

And that was the picture I saw early this morning out the back door. Another of the trees was being converted into bits and pieces. Now, looking into the back yard one more tree had been transformed into kindling and we don't even have a fireplace. Alas, only two of the trees remain and their future looks pretty. I will say that Joyce did a really good job as a lady lumberperson.

Meanwhile we'll keep our tree purchases in our local friendly nursery. And to top this whole exercise off, I think the trees we meant to get were Mediterranean CYPRESS, not poplar. Oh, well, live and learn.