Saturday, January 28, 2012

Navy days-The light in the darkness

Normally when I went out on the fantail at night, the sky was teeming with stars. There’s nothing like the magnificence of this work of art. It’s the perfect place to stargaze, out on the rolling sea with no light but the stars themselves. To witness this is uplifting and calming, it’s almost as if you can touch them. This visual euphoria is gently inscribed into the archives of your mind.

However on this night not a star was visible. I slowly walked out on deck and stood in silence. I listened to see if anyone else happened to be out. Not a sound. The visibility was zero, and you could not see your hand in front of your face, literally. This complete darkness was something I had not experienced before or since. Our running lights were off too, so I’m sure we didn’t want to be spotted. I was happy the sea was calm otherwise I wouldn’t be out getting air that night. To fall overboard would be, to never be found again.

I then heard the hatch open and someone walk out on deck. I kept inquiring, hello who’s out here? At the time I didn’t know it but it was a mistake to mark my location. I led him right too me. Then he was in front of me, I felt him with my senses. Suddenly a flash! He had a camera! The combination of the darkness and the camera flash was like pouring boiling water on ice. I started melting! Everything changed in an instant, my senses were scrambled and I was in trouble. My first logical thought was to hit the deck. I wanted some sort of stability in my frenzied state. If I would have wandered off I could have went overboard.

I’m not sure weather that’s the only picture he has or if he snapped several after I was down. I wouldn’t know cause I was merely bacon in a frying pan on high. To lose control of your senses like that is scary. Never found out who it was. Never inquired or told anyone after it happened. Thought if I kept quiet that it would become clear who it was. If by some chance you read this, I forgive you. The good thing about this, is that when things seem to blindside you or seem completely out of control, just hit the deck and regain your balance. Then get up and move on.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Navy Days-Highline in the Gulf of Tonkin

I was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Truxtun DLGN 35 (the Tommy T). Really loved my ship and my shipmates. DLGN means-Destroyer- Light-Guided missile- Nuclear powered. The Helo (helicopter) was looking for my ship so I could set down on Her for the first time. Finally my ship was in sight. The pilot said there she is and I looked out the front window and saw her sitting in the vast ocean waters.

I decided just seconds later to look again, and to my amazement we were landing on the Helo deck. Time flies in a helicopter. I got into the bay and a first class petty officer handed me a Vietnam service medal. He saw the confusion on my face and before I could utter a word he said just take it you’re here. We were in the Gulf of Tonkin so geographically I was in the right place for the medal. I must say that it never, and still doesn’t feel right, God bless the men who had to walk the jungles in that nightmare.

About a week after I got there the USS Jewitt came along side us to deliver a few more greenhorns to our ship. They shot a line over and it was tied off to both ships and a chair was attached. The sailor got in and we pulled on the rope until he got over. This was awesome especially for me because I wasn’t out there between those two ships in the very rough seas. Suddenly General quarters sounded-battle stations. Luis Flores was in the chair right in the middle of both ships, last man to come over. Two enemy MIGS were spotted on radar.

It would have been a heck of a prize for those MIGS to catch two U.S. destroyers within a couple hundred feet of each other. Immediately the Executive officer yells an order down to the first class petty officer in charge of our line crew. We held Luis’s lives in our hands. I was on that crew. He said- CUT THE LINE- we all heard it and so did Luis. The look of terror on Luis’s face will be forever etched in my mind.

We were frozen for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably just a few seconds. The petty officer in charge turned and looked at us with wild eyes. He ignored the Execs order and yelled PULL!!! That word always brings this memory around. Well it was like there was no rope in our hands. I think we got him over the rest of the way with one yank. Luis made it and we got to our stations.

I was told later that when the ships sped off turning away from each other, the fantails (backend) came within a couple of feet from each other. Luis would have been sucked under by the screws and……… Unfortunately the Petty officer was flown off the ship and brought to justice for disobeying a direct order to cut the rope. Never saw him again. But he has a few fans from back in the day. Thanks bud, I know Luis won’t forget you. GO NAVY!!


Monday, January 16, 2012

The measure of happiness?

Is the measure of happiness within us or is it influenced by those around us? Is it amplified or deflated by economics? Is it handed down by genetics or do we develop our own formula at birth? Does climate effect it or do the stars influence it? Do you find happiness in God? Perhaps it’s all of these things and more. Perhaps it’s less. Is happiness something we look for or does it just happen?

If I had to come up with an answer on the spot, contentment comes to mind. When I am content I am happy. This answer however is to simple, but then simplicity makes me happy. Knowing ones self is key to having happiness. Once you know yourself and live within this knowledge, your happiness can be unlimited?



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Leaving home

It was 1972 and the draft lottery was done and the birthdates were posted. The first year I was eligible my number came up pretty high- so it was just a matter of time before I got my welcome to the army letter. I took the letter and showed my good friend Joe Foley (RIP Joe). Joe turned and looked at me- but before he opened his mouth I knew by the look that I should heed what he said. Then it came- “If you don’t go down to the Navy recruiter instead of getting drafted in the Army I will hit you in the head with a f---ing 2x4“. Joe had done a tour in Nam for the army. I listened and joined the navy.

The night before I left-around midnight Joe and Stinky Benson had me sit down on the bench as they lowered the projects flag in a ceremony unequaled by any military outfit. They presented the flag to me and it felt like every hair on my head was standing straight up. I still have this flag and the same feeling- as my eyes well up with tears. Thanks guys.

The day came that I was leaving and it was very early in the morning. No one else in the projects was up. I said goodbye to my mom and all of a sudden there was my dad. He was standing there in his underwear and came over and hugged me. I was really shocked to see him there- we weren’t very close but there was nothing bad between us either. (I miss him) Dad was a very busy man and held down two jobs to keep things going. Only after my moms death and before his (five months) did I start to communicate more than ever before. That is a regret I will always have-yet there was love-mostly unspoken.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was leaving home and New York to never live there again. The Navy was very exciting and changed the way I saw the world. People of foreign lands were very different yet exactly the same. Basic human needs and wants coupled with honor and integrity help cross the boundaries of race-religion-culture or just about anything we let get in the way of understanding each other.


Friday, January 13, 2012

It happens to us all

I was a young boy, my age I can’t remember. When I woke up that morning I ran to my Mom and said I dreamed a lady drove into the river with her baby and died. Mom consoled me and the day went on. A couple of hours later Mom showed me the Staten Island advance and there it was on the front page. That is my first recollection of knowing something in advance of actually knowing it.

I believe our brains abilities are far more then we may ever know. Please realize I don’t think I’m special. We all, in my opinion have had these episodes. Are you recalling them now? I also believe that it happens more than you think, but for some reason (probably awareness) we don’t notice.

Here’s a couple more. One day when my honey and I were living in our first house on west 6th street I had a very bad feeling about my Aunt Charlotte. I loved her very much and she was my dads only sister. I went out and bought a card that had cats on it and sent it saying hello how are you. Aunt Charlotte loved her cats, I hated them because they hated me. One especially intimidated me. MEAN CAT. Well anyway shortly after I sent the card my Mom called and told me that Charlotte had cancer.

The other one I’ll share comes many years later when my son Ryan was a senior in high school. I was sitting on the couch watching TV and Bronya was in the bedroom. I suddenly felt very anxious about Ryan. I got up and walked outside and turned southwest looking in the direction of Bodecker lake. After about five minutes I felt somewhat better but something bugged me about Ryan. I went back in and sat down. About five minutes later, the time it takes to get here from Bodecker, Ryan comes in with his girlfriend. He explained to me how these five guys came at him one by one, and he took care of them all. (very proud I am J ) He thought he really hurt one of them so we drove out to take a look but they were gone. Anyway when it concerns loved ones I believe we have these premonitions more that we know. Would love to hear about some of them, so if you want leave a comment.
  Thanks for reading and don’t forget to love one another.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Staredown with the one eyed boy

It was Oct. 31st 1967 Halloween day. I’m fourteen years old and me and the guys are two stores down from the Sweet Shop loading up on eggs for the big egg war that night. We were in a bad mood already cause candy bars at the Sweet shop just went up a penny to six cents. I would have to find an extra soda bottle to make up the difference. I was shocked at the extra expense. Can you really raise prices?

Well anyway, we purchased the last six dozen eggs in the store. Thank God we got there before they were gone. The mods and the straights had got there before us and almost cleaned it out. Mods wore bell bottoms and straights wore straight jeans. They would have the war of all wars with their eggs tonight. We were outside the store looking over our eggs when a kid with one eye came out looking very distressed. He saw us and came over wanting to buy half our eggs. I told him no way we needed them all and then some.

I had never seen anything before or since. He wore glasses, and the side that was missing the eye had like a half a goggle attached to it. It was opaque and tan in color. This was supposed to hide the fact there was an eye missing. It didn’t and it was a crater and purplish in color with skin grown over the hole. (tough for that young boy) He made a grab for the eggs and missed. I handed them off and got in his face. I told him that if he didn’t back off I’d crack an egg and drop it in where his eye should be. If I only knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have said that hurtful thing to him. He said I will see you tonight and I said, “I can’t wait.”

Well first things first. We had trick or treating to do before Egg Wars. I lived in the Todt Hill projects on Staten Island, New York yeah baby. The projects had six families to a floor and six floors to a building. There were two buildings attached to each other. There was seven of these bi-buildings. That’s 504 families. We kept the Dentists busy for years with our rotting teeth. Oh my though the candy was excellent and lasted forever. You had to be careful though because we got our share of bird seed and dog food for a treat.

Candy in a safe place and the war begins. Under the cover of darkness you prowl around until you spot the others. You either catch someone by surprise or they catch you. Egging among your own age group is what you want to do. Going up against the mods or straights would not be wise. They were older and had more money, so more eggs. CONTACT , oh boy what a mess. To see the eggs flying through the air reminds one of viewing countless shooting stars on their last journey before dying out. Or perhaps a school of fish retreating quickly from a predator.

I was about to head home when I saw him. He was alone and so was I, no matter I didn’t need any help with him. I had to call out because he didn’t see me. He walked towards me as I walked towards him. I could tell by the way he moved that I had the upper hand. We stopped a few feet from each other and I said well here I am and you wanted to see me. He stood motionless and quiet. His face showed fear and he started to quiver a bit. He didn’t want to fight me. I admired him for not running and holding his ground. I felt sorry for him and had been in that side of a situation before. I started talking to him and gave him a way out. As I look back I’m so glad I did. We all need a way out from time to time as I have many times. We’re all in this together no matter the situation. Love one another and show a little kindness.











Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 is gone

2011 not exactly a slice of heaven
You came and went very fast
Thankful that it's in the past

People standing up
Corporations bowing down
Thank you Twitter/ Facebook
You brought power all around

We're on the right track
A cleansing is what we need
Lets be a nation of do'ers
Be prosperous and let go of greed

The year is gone
A new one is here
Now love your family
And do not fear

Crystal fog and Sunshine

I first noticed the Crystal fog in harsh driving conditions. It was a cold morning and the fog was thick on the way to work in the dark. Because of the exteme temp the fog took on a crystal like appearance.
It reminded me of the tail of a Comet that was flying with wild abandon into my headlights. Or perhaps
thousands of glass chards whose mission was to melt on impact on the warm headlights.
  No matter, the point is that there was something nice in my drive to work that morning as opposed to
a stressful journey in hazardous conditions. It helped me pass the time and shortened the trip.
The Sunshine part of the title is just that. Wonderful sunshine always makes me happy. Yet when I think about it, sunshine can also be hazardous.

 My purpose in this blog is to seek out the positive in all things, and not to let the negative get the overpowering grasp. I'm sure I will stray from the original purpose but hope to remain somewhat on target. I would like to reccomend a book. The Hiding Place-by Corrie Tenboom. This woman it seems would not rest until she could find the positive in the many negative situations in her life.

 My first thoughts are down and I say goodnight. I'll write again but don't know when.