Saturday, April 30, 2011

Son Wittnesses Actual Crucifixion in Philippines

Most people know that some young men in the Philippines have themselves nailed to a cross on Easter Sunday. Jason actually witnessed a crucifixion during a four-hour Easter service last Sunday. I don't think I care to witness a man having nails driven through his hands and feet and fastened to a cross. I wonder how long a man hangs on the cross.  I don't know whether this practice is followed in any other country

Friday, April 29, 2011

Being Lost Twice in Fog in San Francisco

When the USS Pickens arrived back in San Francisco August 3 after a year in the South Pacific, it could use some repairs and maintenance before taking part in the invasion of Japan.  One=half of the crew was on liberty when the ship moved from its anchorage in the bay to a berth at Moore's Dry Dock.  I was given the duty of 
standing at the end of Market Street to meet those returning from liberty and instruct them on how best to go to the dry dock and locate the ship.  Although it was August and I was wearing a peacoat, I nearly froze.  San Francisco can be very cold in the summer.

Later, when we were making regular trips to bring troops home, I was on liberty when the ship was moved and had to find my way to the new location of the ship.  I got lost in a heavy fog and was near panic when I saw a blurry light that was just able to penetrate the fog.  It was a small cafe and I, who never drank coffee, had a cup that tasted better than any I have  had since, and got new directions to the dry dock.

 The next time I was caught and lost in a dense fog I was not alone but in a boat with other members of the ship's crew.  We utilized our LCVP's to travel from the ship to the pier at the foot of Market street and back.  I was in a group of sailors going back to the ship after an evening of liberty who boarded a boat and headed towards the ship anchored in the bay.  The fog was so heavy the sea and the sky disappeared from view and we failed to reach the ship.  Every half hour or so we would see some hazy light signifying we we were near a ship.  An officer in the group would board that vessel and get new bearings on the location of the Pickens. This went on all night until, shortly after dawn, the ship we reached was ours.  I feared that we would travel our of the bay and give out of gas with no way to contact any one or any ship.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If You Pray for Rain, Shouldn't You Wear a Raincoat?

When it began raining here last night I remembered Texas Gov. Perry asking people to pray for rain to help firefighters get control of the forest fires burning across the state.  I am certain he was not expecting the tornadoes, which fanned the flames and worsened conditions. Hopefully, the rains have helped.

Speaking of praying for rain, this was common  in many communities in past years.  My dad told the story of one such prayer meeting.  Even it was not factually true it was typical.  Farmers gathered at a small rural church to ask God to send rain to save their crops, some arriving in buggies and others coming on horseback.  One man tied up his horse and removed his saddle, taking it with him into the church.  When asked why he brought in his saddle, he responded, "it is a almost new saddle and I don't want to get it wet."  Someone replied, "why, there is not a cloud in the sky."  He answered, "We are here to pray for rain, are we not?  Shouldn't we have faith that our prayers will be answered?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

World War II museum Continues to Add Exhibits

The WWII museum has added a spectacular movie-type presentation since we last visited.  Plans have been made for other  buildings and exhibits as money becomes available. I am a charter member so get in free and am pleased that contributions have made it possible to admit all WWII veterans without charge.

Every time I go I am reminded and amazed at how unprepared this nation was to defend it\self and how quickly we were able to get production of war materiel underway and train fighting men.  We ranked l8th  in the world in size of military force when Japan attacked.  The country leaned toward isolationism even before the first world war and only the navy  -- our "first line of defense" -- was at near full strength.  We lost much of our fleet at Pearl Harbor and needed three big victories at sea to save us and put Japan on the defensive.  The lesson should be never forgotten  -- to live in peace you must be strong militarily.

Just a Summary of the Holiday Activities

We-- that is Jen, Josh, Matt and I -  left the middle of  Thursday afternoon in time to meet Mark, Julie and especially Lily arriving from North Carolina by way of Houston via plane.  We then checked into the  hotel.  We were typical tourists Friday and Jessica arrived from LSU to spend the night  in readiness for her race Saturday. One of the reasons we were there was to watch her run but I was unable to have that pleasure.  Some 25,000 runners took part.  Saturday we visited the World War Two museum and Sunday we traveled to Baton Rouge to attend Easter serrvices.  River had joined us Saturday; he and Jessica were late getting back to Baton Rouge.  After church we visited a camp on False River and enjoyed being with relatives and friends and partaking of a barbecue. We returned to New Orleans and checked into a hotel near the airport.  We had to get up very early Monday to get Mark, Julie and Lily to the airport, from where they were to leave at 5:30.  After saying goodbye we drove on home, getting Jen and Matt here in time to go to work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What if Obama Is Mistaken and $7 Gas Is Not the Answer

Three - now four - now five - now six on the way to seven or higher.  Yes, gasoline at the pump is five at the pump in places, on the way to six very soon.  Will it stop at seven?  That is the price that Obama said even months ago that he was hoping for.  He is doing all in his power to bring this about when by opening up more drilling he could lower the price.  If  he gets his way and oil and gas prices go out of sight, will this actually have the effect he wants, of turning people away from fossil fuels and depending on "green" energy?  He is getting the high gas prices he wants and he may get the exorbitant utility bills he wants imposed on us all. 

One thing is certain; the suffering economy is taking a blow that it may be unable to survive.  The dollar is continuing to weaken as you know if you visited a grocery store.  This inflation is being driven by the high cost of energy, which affects every thing.  More than two-thirds of economists surveyed identified oil prices as the most serious risk facing the economy.  While we know Obama and his nutty cohorts are directly to blame, is also find fault with Congress. They continue to allow boondoggles like subsidies for ethanol, solar panels and other crap to go on without raising hell.  If I had a voice I would should and scream and curse every day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday -- A Day of Triumph for Jesus

(I wrenched my back and neck Saturday and was unable to go to church today.  I'm sure it has been years since I missed attending Palm Sunday and Easter services. We've spent Easter in Baton Rouges often but we always found a church to attend.  I want to recognize Palm Sunday and have decided to re-run the remarks I posted on Palm Sunday March 28 last year.)

 Jesus and his disciples had been on a slow but determined trip to  Jerusalem .  On the way  Jesus had preached and healed the lame and blind, and he warned his disciples that he would be put to death.  Today he entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, and he was welcomed with adoration and acclaim.  People carpeted the street with their cloaks and many waved palms.   The crowd shouted "Hosanna to the Son of  David!  Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the heavens!  (Matthew 21/9)

Jesus faced arrest and crucifixion, but  that day he could enjoy the excitement, joy and love that the people wanted to give him and that he deserved.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

USS Pickens, APA 190

Click to enlarge

I Am a Grammar School Grad and Can Prove It

I cannot prove I served more than two years on active duty in the Navy and eight years in the Reserves; nor can I prove I am a graduate of Louisiana State University; heck, I cannot even prove I was graduated from Minden High School.  My discharges and diplomas have been lost or misplaced.  However, I can establish with absolute proof I completed the seventh grade and am a proud graduate of Minden Grammar School.

While moving things around in the garage to make room for the installation of new garage doors, my diploma showed up, just a folded, wrinkled, faded piece of paper.  Jen's diploma from Istrouma High School  was unearthed, also, but it was on a shelf,  very visible in a red cover.  If I ever find my discharges and my ship's history, it won't be in the  garage.  They are pictured on the internet along with a summary of my oral history.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Teachers Did Crazy Things in My Day, Also

What is going on in the mind  of some of these teachers?  A special education teacher forced all of her students to remove their underwear so she could see who had soiled theirs; a grammar school teacher had her pupils surround one child and shout oink and call him piggy; a Chicago school has banned parents from sending lunches to school with their children, forcing them to pay $2.25 for a lunch they might not eat, and the president thinks throwing more money will cure our ailing schools.

Well, I can 't match those stories but I experienced something similar.  The teacher complained that someone had foot odor and he was going to ferret out the culprit.  He lectured us, saying we should wear clean socks daily (no argument there) and never wear the same shoes two days in a row (you mean some people have more than one pair of shoes).  He said he would walk the aisles and sniff  and would expose the people with stinky feet.  He had barely started when he stopped opposite a girl and indicated he had found some smelly feet. The girl became hysterical, forcing him to apologize and give up his search.

Here's for Tax Plan Without Incentives and Penalties

This has not been a good week.  Not only have I not felt very well, but it is time to mail a check to the IRS. In this day of  loopholes,  tax shelters, deductions, tax evasions, avoidances, rebates and other advantages, taxes paid on similar income can vary greatly.  I would love to see a simplified tax code with all of these special breaks eliminated.  Tax rates could be lowered and this would be fair for all taxpayers.  The government should do away with  incentives to steer people to buy or install homes, specified automobiles, appliances, solar panels, etc., and also should eliminate tax penalties for choices people should have the freedom to make.
This does not compare with  taxes but we seem to have trouble with every home repair or improvement. We finally got around to contracting to replace our disreputable garage doors but the installers discovered, after putting in one door, that the center post is out of line.  Now, that has to be replaced before the doors can be installed. Better luck Friday, we hope.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gasoline Predicted to Be 5 Dollars by Memorial Day

 Many things affect the price of oil and the price of gas at the pump, including problems in the Mideast. However, other people are joining me in blaming Obama for the high gas prices.  I have pointed this out over and over. If Obama would only announce that drilling for oil in the Gulf and other areas of this country, the price of oil would drop immediately.  However,  not only is Obama  causing high prices and hurting the economy, it is what he wants,  He has admitted this, reasoning people will travel less and buy cars like that sewing machine on wheels, the Volt.  If we produced  all the petroleum we use the nation would not have to ship 700 billion dollars overseas each year to pay for oil and millions of jobs would be created in the United States.

Julie and Mark With Two Big Announcements

It will be a boy.  They found out today that Lily will have a brother arriving in August, a late present for her two-year birthday July 8.  Julie and Mark meet Jen and I and Josh and Jessica in New Orleans for Easter.  We'll watch Jessica run Saturday in a crowd of 6,000.  I am hoping that I will feel well enough to travel.  I had problems Sunday and have not felt well today, but I am determined to make this trip.Pardon me for all this personal information but it is my blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chinaberry Tree Blooming -- Time to Plant Cotton

I haven't been out much so I don't know if the chinaberry trees are blooming but the middle of April usually finds them full of blooms.  In North Louisiana that was a sign that it is time to plant cotton.  Louisiana is still among the cotton producing states but it is no longer the top money crop as it was for more than a hundred years. With cotton at a record price and the boll weevil exterminated, I wonder if area farmers will convert more of their acreage to cotton.  I don't know if the government still tells each farmer how many acres he is allowed to plant to cotton.  Those controls, plus programs like the soil bank, knocked small farmers our of cotton planting and concentrated it along the Mississippi river in Louisiana.

My last cotton crop was the summer between  my sophomore and junior years at LSU.  I had to have others plant my crop but I hoed it, plowed it, picked it, and took it to the gin. That summer I also hitchhiked to Springhill nearly every day  tor several weeks to apply for a summer job.  I turned down the offer of a permanent job to go back to LSU.  The next summer I attended LSU to make it possible for me to graduate at midterm. I intended to enroll that fall but had a persistent job offer so I accepted it and went to work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Directing the Ship As We Reach San Francisco

Among my memories of  San Francisco, fog plays an important part especially when we arrived back in San Francisco after an absence of almost a year. The battle for Okinawa was still  waging fiercely when the Pickens, her duties performed, left for Saipan to drop off the Second Marine Division.  From the Marianas we set sail for Noumea, New Calidonia, to pick up some materiel and deliver it to Saipan.  We  left there  in late July arriving in San Francisco August 3 to load on troops and prepare to invade Japan.

We entered San Francisco bay before dawn with fog so dense lookouts were practically blind.  It fell my lot to be manning the radar.  The navigator was calling every minute for the range and bearing of landmarks so he could determine  the ship's position.  Fishing boats were heading to sea and the blips on the radar for the boats and for buoys were the same.  I had only seconds to determine whether a blip was moving, thus a boat, or stationary and a buoy. I was under so much strain I had a burning in my stomach.  After that it seemed that every time we came to San Francisco we arrived just before dawn in a dense fog, and I had to be operating the radar. I wondered why we couldn't have delayed our arrival a couple of hours to allow visibility.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nation's Problems Plus Mine Put Me in Bad Mood

I was not in the mood to post on this blog yesterday and I'm even less in the mood today.  With the government set to shut down, oil at around 110 dollars a  barrel, gasoline out of sight, inflation everywhere, and worse of all, income tax time is here. Taxpayers in line for refunds have mostly filed early to get their hands on the money they overpaid or, in come cases, get money they  didn't earn, like General Electric. Obviously, you can tell from my tone, we are among those who are required to pay more this year.

President Obama is having it all his way.  He wants to shut down the government so he can blame it on the Republicans, although the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House and refused to propose a budget.  Obama also gets high oil and gasoline prices, both of which he wants.  Billions of dollars and millions of jobs are going overseas because drilling is limited in this country while Cuba, China and the world are invited to drill in the Gulf and off our shores. I have been asking for two years,  "Can this nation survive Obama?"


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Visiting on Skype Gives Pleasure but It Can't Give Hugs

Mark and Julie called Sunday afternoon and we visited on Skype, although the phone connection kept breaking. Lily is delightful; she really enjoys naming letters.  I asked for an O and she located it and held it high over her head.  Jen was on the way from Baton Rouge and missed this visit with the granddaughter. Josh was here and Lily spoke to him as well as to me.  Pictures are good, Skype is better, but a visit would be best.

After giving up with the Skype, Mark and I visited on the phone.  I think he is the most regular reader of my blog, although he accused me of making up stories, not understanding that certain things will jog my memory of something that happened as far back as first grade.  He mentioned a hitchhiking story, though not getting it completly right.  One time, for some reason ,I got rides along Highway 167, finally reaching Minden.  I entered the bus station and asked for a ticket to McIntire, which I think cost 15 cents. I went to pay and discovered I didn't even have 15 cents.  It was late at night but I whirled around and began a five mile walk home. I had not gone far when I heard someone in high heels running after me. A womanwho worked in the station caught up with me and gave me  a ticket.  She said, "don't every say I didn't give you anything.:  

Times Article on Church Music Gets Strong Response

Sunday morning the congregation responded with many hands raised when asked it they had seen the article in that monring's paper lamenting the disappearance of  church music as something called contemporary intrudes and replaces familiar hymns.  Persons who have read this blog know that I have commented several times that I would like for us to sing more traditional hymns.  I took a quick glance through the Methodist hymnal and found over one hundred songs familiar to me that we haven't sung in 20 years.

When we had Sunday night services, the song service had more familiar and enjoyed hymns than was true of the morning worship.  What has happened to the enthusiastic decision to have a community singing each month? This would help to keep alive much of the great music and great messages of our hymns.  What a shame if we lose the messsages in song of Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby and Issac Watts, among many others.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Programed Alarm Clock Throws Me for a Loop

This morning I heard the clock in the den toll six times, turned over and dozed off.  I woke, looked at the clock in the bedroom saw it was past 7 so I got out of  bed, made coffee, ate, took my pills, fed the cat, and got the paper. Josh was just getting up and I went in the bedroom, saw the clock said 9:21, leaving me not much time to shower, shave and dress for Sunday School.  When I got to the church  I saw only one vehicle, Don's van.  I looked at my car clock and saw it was not yet 9.  My bedroom clock had done it to me again;  it cannot grasp that daylight saving time starts early now, not the first Sunday in April.  I didn't throw the clock against the wall, but I felt like it  What makes this worse; the clock did the same thing to us last year and we let it go on believing daylight saving begins in April.  Is the clock stubborn or am I stupid?

Friday, April 1, 2011

USS Pickens at Okinawa Easter Sunday

I wrote about this a year ago but I have committed to commemorating this day as long as I am able. It was April 1, 1945,  and the Pickens was among some 1200 ships and crafts from the United States and Britain. The Pickens was second behind the  USS Hinsdale, APA 120, in a column of attack transports carrying the Second Marine Division. The time was a few minutes before 6 a.m.; we had been at General Quarters since around 5. We had experienced kamakaze attacks at Iwo Jima and knew we could expect to be attacked in much greater number, We radarmen were watching the screens intently and lookouts on deck were searching the skies.

About one minute before 6 a Japanese plane hit the Hinsdale at the water line, exploding several bombs and blasting holes.  Another plane head towards us but caught the mast of an LST to our port, exploding on the deck and setting the LST on fire.  We quickly put boats in the water and helped pick up survivors from the Hinsdale and LST's 884 and 724.  The flag officers from the Hiinsdale  transferred to our ship.  As an auxiliary hospital ship we were equipped to take care of wounded marines and seamen, many from the LST being badly burned.

We were able to carry out our assigned duties, which were to act as a diversionary attack force while troops were landing at other places.