Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
As I had lost my Grandmother and then Mom with-in the last three years I probably watched the scene closer than I should have. It brought back memories and regrets. I had left home after high school and never lived close enough to call for every day things. I can count the times I drove either of them on erans or day trips on one hand.
When I next saw the young man I mentioned how much seeing him with, the lady turned out to be his Great Aunt, had lifted my spirits. He was quite gracious, even introduced me to his Aunt the next time I saw them together. I would always ask about her and send my regards.
When I saw him yesterday we greeted each other as usual, but I knew something had changed as soon as I asked him about his Aunt.
"She passed away in November," he said quitely.
I was at a loss for words.
"She was 98," he told me. "She was starting to have problems..." His voice trailed off.
"I'm sorry," seems so hollow and insignificant.
"She's in a better place now," he said.
We all say it. I suppose we should be happy when loved ones go on to a better place. Truth be told folks, I for one am too selfish to feel that way most of the time.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Recently Steve over at THE FIREARMS BLOG posted a great video about shotgun ammunition. As some of you know my trouble load at HomePlace is staggered 00 buck and slugs as any late night, uninvited guest and souvenir hunters will discover.
The link below is to a video that shows those old time favorites as well as flatteche rounds, dragon's breath, buck and ball and lots of other exotic loads you may have seen at gun shows or advertised on line or in magazines.
In addition to great footage of ballistic gel getting "what's for" they show some of the rounds being turned on protective vest and other targets.
This is not your typical YOUTUBE offering but rather 17 + minutes of 'Terminator Like' destruction. So if you have ever wondered what a "Breaching" round would do put it on full screen, turn up the sound, grab a coke and popcorn, wake up the kids and call the neighbors.
I personally don't endorse anything but the 00 buck and slugs but this is entertainment for young and old alike. Afterwards be sure and visit Steve at THE FIREARMS BLOG to see the other neat stuff he has.
Monday, December 7, 2009
To begin with I want to apologise for the lack of photographs here. The camera is having issues. I hope to have that sorted out soon. If you are reading this and there are photos that means I did.
Helene surprised me a few days ago with an early Christmas present named Bear. Moody, our last dog passed away a couple of years ago and we weren't in a hurry to get another. You couldn't replace Moody.
While at the bank the last week we went to an adoption shelter near by and discovered a Shepard / Rottweiler mix with very sad eyes and enormous feet. He is fitting in nicely but not without issues. Ock, the senior cat, thinks he should be on a cracker. Peppy, the gray tabby that walks with Helene and I can't decide if he is a toy or food. Being the new hire at HomePlace Bear thinks he has to salute grasshoppers.
The girls coming home from the Vet Sunday did nothing to settle his fears. They needed love and reassurance so bad they were even getting in my lap. It looks like a couple of the girls will make friends with him Bear but it's an on-going process.
I have sent photos of Inoue's flag to the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago. I have told them I am wanting to return the flag but I wish to corospond with the family. I would like to know the story of the man who carried this flag.
Breaking news on the chicken front. After months of nothing we actually got an egg the other day...one. With all the feed I don't want to think what it cost. I do know what chicken at the grocery store cost, they better get with the program.
Helene and I are working on a new shooting event we will call COPS AND ROBBERS - ST. VALENTINE'S DAY. The plan at the moment is to hold it on the 81st. anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre but weather and schedules may force us to put it off a month or so.
Well, I have errands to run and choirs to finish up. I havn't seen or heard Bear in about 10 minutes and with puppys his age that is cause for concern.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
This flag was never intended to fly on a flag poll, it wouldn't have lasted a day in a good wind even when it was new. It also had writing all over it. I had seen flags like this in war time photos of Japanese soldiers cheering. Often they would tie them to their rifles.
I learned that these were flags given to a young man by friends and family prior to entering military service. Not unlike a high school yearbook, well wishers would write their names on the flag. Sometimes they would add words of encouragement. To my knowledge these flage were unique to enlisted men. If anyone knows different please let me know.
One of our friends, Jean Marie, had a friend who had moved here from Japan. Jean Marie arranged a dinner party at her home where we could get together and let her friend (I will call her K as I have not ask if it’s alright to use her name) look at the flag. There were a number of folks in attendance who thought this sounded interesting.
I am put in mind of two sayings.
When K first saw the flag she seemed to pale a bit, she knew exactly what it was. She asked where it came from. I couldn’t tell her beyond I got it in a trade from someone who bought it at a Gun Show. There was no way of telling where it was acquired.
“Most of the writing is names”, she said. “That isn’t uncommon.” Working clockwise she began to translate.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Last year it rained cats and dogs and all outdoor services were canceled. This year we made up for it.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
This is not the sort of story I would have preferred to feature the WASP. Sadly Hollywood doesn't think their real story was excition enough to keep us slobs glued to the TV or in line at the theater. Movies and TV feature a never ending array of fantastic advnetures they never had while ignoring their real accomplishments.
There are holes in the Cold Case story line to be sure. Personally, I don't see a Mustang even getting off the ground with the sort of sabotage they suggested let alone covering any distance. The characters were also blends of the real, good and bad.
I was an undistinguished first year college student in the fall of 1972. One of the social studies class discussions centered on the proposal of expanding the draft to include women. The attitudes toward war and the military at the time, even at our little Texas junior college, led to a lively and barely civil debate. The instructor mentioned the women who chose to serve but it was a hard sell. In response to the suggestion women had only been placed in safe positions I asked "What about the WASP?"
"Exactly," the instructor said. "Mrs. Watson, in the business department, flewing everything from trainers to fighters and heavy bombers during the War"
I nearly fell out of my seat, and when class was overI cornered the poor man with more enthusiasm than he was accustomed to. With in the hour I had found the office of Mrs. Watson, head of the business department, and checked her scedule. I was waiting when she arrived for office hours. For the rest of that year and all of the next I spent more time there than her students.
During the War her name was Florene Miller. She had been one of the orginal 25 women to form the WAFS under Nancy Love. I am embarrassed to admit I didn't understand the significants of that at the time. (See end of post.)
Pilots in the Ferry Command would take one of two paths. One was to graduate from Advanced Trainers to the heavy, high performance Pursuit Planes, read fighters. The other was to study in Multi Engine Trainers and then go up the latter to Transports and Bombers. Mrs. Watson put in the extra time and work to do both.
I can still recall the stories she would share. Women tend to need more clothes than men. When delivering a Transport, Bomber or Trainer there was plenty of room for a bag, but fighters weren't designed to carry luggage. The solution was a collaspsible canvas suitcase. Shoes, makeup, and extra clothing would be tucked iont the wing boxes intended for machine gun ammunition. The problem was remembering where you had stashed everything once you landed.
A lead pilot was always listed when a number of planes were being delivered to the same place. These coveted assignments went to the most experienced pilots who were usually the best navigators. This was before a lot of the navigation aids we take for granted today. That didn't stop egos from being bruised when hot shot guys were expected to follow a girl cross country. Sometimes Florene would let one of the guys lead the formation. If they stayed on course there wasn't a problem. Other times she had to keep track of where they actually were when the formation drifted off course. When the time came she would bank away on a new heading to their destination. One by one the other pilots in the formation would join up on her. Once on the ground the 'lead' would drift over and just say "thanks." The planes were delivered in good working order, mission accomplished. Nothing else need be said.
The stories I heard from Mrs. Watson and the other ladies I have been fortunate enough to interview don't bear much resemblance to the atmosphere shown on Cold Case. To be sure there are detractors who didn't believe women could actually fly such planes. There still are, which puzzles me.
An airplane is a machine and the pilot is its brain. The airplane doses not know, and could care less, the sex, or skin color or religion of its pilot. Some of the hottest combat pilots the Russians had during World War Two were women.
As for the WASP getting a cool, or hostile reception from some of their male counterparts, it happened but they were in the minority. These were kids, boy and girl type kids that had one big thing in common. They all loved airplanes. Many who weren't already married met their future spouses while with the WASP. They all made life long friends.
Please don't assume from this they lived lives of steamy romance. Were there one night stands? Frankly it's none of my business, or yours! Again those ladies would have been in the minority. They were serving their country and living the great adventure to boot. They flew all over the country in brand new, expensive, state of the art, high performance aircraft. And the Army bought the gas! There was just too much to loose.
But loose they did. Out of the blue word came that the WASP would be disbanded December 20, 1944. I won't go into the details but they are well worth looking into. "This should give the girls time to get home for Christmas." They had joined the WASP to "free a man to fight." Now they were to get back to their choirs. For years the WASP remained the best kept secret of World War Two, be it unintentional.
I'm happy that Cold Case had an epsoide featuring the WASP even thou it doesn't sound it. Perhaps that will send a few more kids to the library, or these days the internet, to learn more about their real history. A one paragrapy filler in my hometown paper when I was 13 had that effect on me.
x x x
There were two groups of Women pilots formed in 1942. The WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron was 25 experienced and high time female pilots recruited by Nancy Love to work with the Ferry Command delivering planes where needed. It was never intended to be a large unit and took only women already trained and ready to work.
The WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) was a much larger group under Jacqueline Cochran. The WASP still insisted its recruits be licensed pilots in the beginning but did not require the standards of training set by the WAFS.
Two entirely different units commanded by very different women. I won’t get into “Saints and Villains” here. I will say that Nancy Love was interested in allowing qualified women to serve the War Effort where they could do the most good. The Ferry Command was begging for pilots and these ladies would already have been in uniform had they not been…ladies.
By the time the WASP disbanded on December 20, 1944 Jacqueline Cochran had over 1800 women in her command. They served not just the Ferry Command but also as flight instructors, towed targets, at least one was a test pilot, and numerous other flying jobs. But Cochran was also into self promotion in the extreme. Read up on the various “promises” she extracted from General Hap Arnold early in the war, as well as events that led to the sudden end of the WASP program and make your own conclusions.