Welcome. The idea was floated that a ‘talk amongst yourselves’ blog would be a good addition to for the Non-Facebook Crowd. Here it is.
“Billy, as you get older it’s not the miles, but the maintenance”
—- Bernice Wilson, circa 1978
My late Aunt Bernice was more than a friend, she was a wise confidante during my many stays at “The Farm“.
As with many of the things she told me, I came to see the wisdom in this as I am passing middle age.
One of the things I love about travel is the misconceptions finally corrected. You see things – or meet people – that change your beliefs. Both people and places have changed my outlook over the years.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
I was trying to remember the year I drove to Deadwood, SD and across Montana. Montana still had a “safe and reasonable” speed limit, and I thought that I would be in my element.
To the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, he was known as “White Feather” for the feather he wore in his cap, and they had a $30,000 reward for him. They sent their own snipers to get him, and he killed them all.
One of their best, named The Cobra, had him in his sights 500 yards away, and Carlos Hathcock, seeing the flash of his scope lens through his own scope, fired a fraction of a second first.
His bullet went through the enemy’s scope, killing him. Five hundred yards and hitting a lens maybe an inch in diameter.
A number of Hollywood movies have used this as a scene, but only Hathcock really did it.
The SEAL’s own Chris Kyle, considered to be the deadliest sniper in military history, credited Carlos Hathcock as his inspiration.
In the upcoming weeks, I will probably get some time off and was going to travel overseas for a coupla weeks.
Always wanted to see Manaus for some reason. It was, before the 1920s, a true boom town . I envisioned seeing the opera house, where the world’s opera companies made the long journey up the Amazon to perform. People would send their laundry to Paris to be cleaned. Although perhaps my imagination was too detached as the population today is over 2 million. But the rubber boom, which died in the 1920s with the rapid development of more efficient rubber plantations in Southeast Asia, made Manaus for a time one of the richest cities in the world. The thought just came to me that for a time, Manaus was the Virginia City of South America.
Until I was 10 years old, I grew up in Los Angeles through the 1950s, Studio City to be exact. And as you can see, Goodland Avenue is a nice gradual hill that goes up from Ventura Blvd, almost across from the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Since my family didn’t have a dog (which is almost mandatory for suburbia), that was on the list. My father’s fraternity brother from UCLA (living in Westchester) just happened to raise beagles, and the beagle during the 1950s was the most popular breed from 1953-1959.
It’s probably why Charles Schultz, in starting his comic strip Peanuts, made Snoopy a beagle.
Last time I mentioned a bit of how I came to be in the Army.
The Monterey Historic Races every August is an amazing event, if you have any gearhead in you. Over the years, I have seen them honor various marques, and the factories have flown their historic cars out to show them on the track.
Two of my most memorable times there were when they honored a man many consider to be the greatest driver of all time, Juan Manuel Fangio. He was at a table signing the posters that were given us, and I didn’t want to wait behind 20 others. Maybe I can attribute that to my Army days of so many lines.
Then there was the time that Audi, being honored one year, flew out their Auto Union 16 cylinder GP car and Daimler flew out their GP car to then to be together on the track; perhaps for the first time since the 1930s.
But that road to Laguna Seca racetrack also makes me a bit melancholy. You see, if you want to avoid the traffic getting there, you take the “back way”, the Salinas exit on Highway 101. And on the last turnoff to the track, you pass the remnants of what was the US Army’s Ft Ord.
Filed under Army, Vietnam
26 Sep 1972. I had been in the Army 12 days.
We were talking in the Facebook Group today about stories of our Drill Sergeants we knew in the military, and I mentioned mine. Thought I would reprint it here, and of course I can’t just mention that without mentioning a bit more.
I’m really easy to spot in the above picture of all those shaven heads, once you know my background.
Filed under Army, Vietnam