Nostalgia

Contents:

Faux Pas’s
Milestone Chokes
Reliable Sources?
Frankly, Prize Possessions Are Personal
Island Troop Movement

 

Faux Pas’s                                                                     January 8, 2014

We all make faux pas’s, usually not serious enough to give a foe pause, but sometimes with very lasting impact. In the spring of 1955, I was elected president of the students’ council for the following year. It was announced at a school assembly. Then it was my job to announce the other council winners. Did OK until the athletic representative. The winner was an attractive and very athletic girl named Marilyn Mosley. Everyone called her Babe (for good reason I might add).

I am genetically disposed to make little remarks or asides in a crowd situation which I and often some of the crowd think are funny. For some unknown reason I introduced her as “hefty Babe Moseley”. Guess I was thinking of hefty as in powerfully built with the emphasis on built. She chose the other meaning, heavy, and never spoke another word to me for the remainder of the year. Tried to tell her it was a joke. Cold shoulder.

We moved to another town over the summer that year. It’s now been 58 years, 7 months and 8 days she hasn’t spoken to me. Time to lighten up and show a little forgiveness, Babe, wherever you are. A faux pas is usually more embarrassing to the perpetrator than the victim, if there is one. The best reaction is to treat it as a source of laughter rather than take offense. Let it be a fleeting thing, not a half century affront.

 

Milestone Chokes                                                     March 13, 2014

It happened again yesterday. Seventeen holes of golf completed and all I needed was a par on the last hole to shoot my age. A simple, straightforward par three hole. Just have to get the tee shot on the green from 140 yards. No problem. Yes, problem. Pushed it off to the right. Well, I can still chip it on and have a chance to sink the putt. No. I’m short-sided with a mound in between. Why drag out the misery – I ended with a six.

This is the fourth time I’ve been within a stroke of shooting my age. The only difference this time is I ended three strokes away. There’s something about milestones that often bring out the worst in mind control. And believe me, golf is a mind game.

My best round ever was a 70 at Sahalee, two under par. Obviously, that was very satisfying. However, on the last hole I stood over a two foot putt which would have given me a 69, another milestone to add to life’s bucket. I was shaking so hard there was no way that putt would drop – and it didn’t. On any other day, I could sink it twenty times in a row. With an excess of rationalization, one might say without the chokes the milestones would be diminished to become mere yardsticks. Yardsticks and milestones may cause me moans but golf will never hurt me.

 

Reliable Sources?                                                      March 21, 2014

Recent reporting on the 777 disappearance re-surfaced a pet peeve. It starts with “A reliable source revealed on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for …” and then goes on to spread unsubstantiated rumors or personal opinions. A case in point is the initial report of “wreckage” in the China Sea. If he is not authorized to speak, why doesn’t he keep his mouth shut. Better still, why don’t the “authorities” fire his ass. With media channels clamoring to scoop one another, integrity is apparently too much to ask of them.

“A reliable source revealed on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak for the family that Henry Fonda had an enormous wart in a place one can only imagine.”

“A reliable source revealed on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the family that Gregory Peck constantly picked his nose.”

A truly reliable source says “Enough”.

 

Frankly, Prize Possessions Are Personal          April 27, 2014

Frank MacAlister was ninety-two when he sold his membership at our golf club last year. Sold not because he couldn’t still play golf. He easily shot his age almost every day he played. He sold it because his macular degeneration had finally made it too dangerous to drive back and forth. As far as I know, Frank still exercises daily and looks and acts twenty years younger.

Frank told me once that he played third base for the U.S. Navy baseball team while stationed in Hawaii during World War II. He named a number of team mates who became major leaguers after the war. Most went over my head, however, the shortstop next to him was Pee Wee Reese. Their team played well and eventually there was a showdown game with the Air Force to decide the season champion.

When the third batter came up, Pee Wee yelled at Frank to back up deep on the grass. Frank asked why. Just do it, Pee Wee commanded. Turned out the batter was Joe DiMaggio.

As it turned out, Frank got a hit that drove in two runs in what became a two-one game. The next day’s Honolulu paper had the headline “MacAlister Powers Navy To Win Over Air Force”. Frank treasured that paper for over forty years. Right up to the day when his wife in a fit pique burned it.

 

Island Troop Movement                 October 12, 2015

I was six years old when World War II ended in 1945. My oldest brother was 15 and Dad was 56 so our family had no cannon fodder to provide. Doesn’t mean we weren’t involved however. I remember playing with gas masks after the war and pretending unused ration stamps could be used to post imaginary letters and treat like Monopoly money.

My father and two older brothers had a slightly more serious involvement. Dad was charged with bringing together and training a home guard militia on our small Gulf Island. It consisted of perhaps two dozen old men and boys, mostly armed with whatever rifles they happened to own. Dad set up a modest target range up behind the fields on the opposite side of the valley. I remember going to a pracitice as a spectator. Great fun watching them fire away at a row of targets, then pause and go up to see if any were hit.

My oldest brother had a 30-30 rifle and was probably the best marksman thanks to a number of years spent supplying the family with venison. Dad and the second brother had short barrel 30-30 carbines. The outfit was supplied with one machine gun, a well-used Bren gun that fired off at least a dozen rounds before jamming. It made a lot of noise as it flung bullets off in random directions.

Even though Japanese forces were reported seen in Alaskan waters and there was a vague threat of invasion, our little army—squadron—unit—patrol—ragtag band didn’t expect to see much action. That is until sometime in 1943 when our phone rang one evening. Someone had spotted signal lights on top of Mount Tuam. They must be Japanese because no locals ever climbed to that spot.

Dad mustered the troops, at least those with enough courage to show up at the base of the mountain. (It qualified as a mountain since it was over 2,000 feet high.) Off they tromped up the hill in the dark. Thinking back on it now, one has to wonder what raced through their minds. There was abundant cause for fear. Did they think they could succeed against a real military force? Certainly not. Yet they all pressed on. Perhaps group psychology forces individuals to face death rather than the later consequences of bailing out. Probably had one taken the initiative to turn back they would have all been hard on his heels. But none did and they continued to the peak.

What did Dad tell them when he directed them to spread out. I know what I would have said. “If you see the enemy, take one shot and run like hell!” Fortunately, they found no one and even more fortunately, didn’t shoot each other. Towards morning they re-emerged in the valley, tired, muddy, scratched up and grateful for the outcome.

Later speculation favored the theory that the unnamed spotter had seen the moon poking through trees waving in the wind. And with that, my immediate family’s participation in the war ended.

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