Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Train Story

By Warren Sparrow
(CHS54's Official Foreign Correspondent)

Forever in search of a story, I found one today at an unusual place and at an unusual time.  Lydia, a/k/a Becky, and I were at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church in Conover, North Carolina, when the moment arrived. 

We had driven the 66 miles to Conover for the memorial service of Ms. Miller, the mother of our best friend.  We had intended for it to be a surprise for our friend but we had to abandon the plan in order to get good directions to the church. 

We found the church without incident, using Mapquest and our friend’s help.  The church property adjoins a railroad track, a fact that made it easy to find.  A traditional green tent, easily seen from the main road, marked the spot where the service was to be held. 

We arrived at St. Timothy’s about 30 minutes before the service. After the traditional milling around, the service began smartly at 2 p.m.  It was a bright fall day, perfect for football but not so perfect for old people at a graveside service.  The tent offered a respite for those fortunate enough to get seats.  Thank the Lord, we were among the “chosen ones.” 

St, Timothy's Lutheran Church, Conover
The preacher was a pleasant man, eager to talk about his relationship with the “departed.”  He was eager to tell us that he had made many trips from Conover to Clemmons (50 miles) to visit Ms. Miller and her husband who had died a month or two before Ms. Miller died.  Seems like they had been married 69 years! 

Anyway, the service proceeded without incident until it came time for the preacher to say the final rites.  As the big finish began, the warning bells went off at a railroad crossing nearby.  I could see the cross-bucks, the flashing lights and the safety gates. How timely, I thought.

Despite the intrusion, the preacher continued as if nothing had happened.  Indeed, there were a few moments when nothing happened.  I wondered about that.  The crossing-guard rails were down, the red lights were flashing.  Where the hell was the train?

The preacher went forward, starting to read a concluding prayer from the program.  About half way through the prayer, the train with three engines came “a rumbling through.”  No hurricane or tornado could do it justice.  Unbelievably, the preacher pressed on though nobody could hear him.  I was very proud of him.  I tried to read his lips. 

It was a long coal train.  It passed smoothly and the preacher never missed a beat even though we could not hear him.  He must have been used to it. 

I thought it was a sign, a reaffirmation of the “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” idea.  A coal train had rolled by at the moment of Ms. Miller’s internment.  Can you top it?  Paul Harvey, eat your heart out.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Obie's Brother Passes

By Jerry Gaudet

With great sadness we learned that Obie Oakley's brother died last week.  Our sympathies go out to Obie and his family.

James Franklin Oakley CHARLOTTE - James Franklin Oakley was born on Christmas Eve 1944 and passed away peacefully on October 25, 2013 in Charlotte, NC. Born in Newport News, VA to Osborne C. Oakley, Sr. and Katherine Ledwell Oakley; Jim grew up in Charlotte, graduating from East Mecklenburg High School before attending UNC-CH. He joined the family business and later enlisted in the US Army with the 20th Special Forces, where he earned his paratrooper wings, Green Beret and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant. Following his military service, Jim's entrepreneurial spirit took over, and he opened the Earth Shoe store in the '70s with partner Doug Johnson. His expertise in electronics and communication skills drew him back to the family business, Interstate Graphics, where he set up and managed one of the area's first sophisticated computer typesetting installations. The urge to explore new horizons lured him to Boston and later Baltimore, where he became an international consultant in the electronic publishing field. Jim's love of family brought him back to Charlotte, where he helped care for his parents for many years. He established Spectrum Type & Art twenty-three years ago with sister Kathy Buckley and partners Bill Lands and Glen Williamson. The graphic design company later created Charlotte Living magazine, where he was Publisher at the time of his death. Jim was a man of many talents and interests. He enjoyed golf with his regular group and loved to ride his motorcycle through the Carolina countryside. Music was his passion, and he enjoyed playing guitar and singing. He loved and was loved by his family, including his many extended families. He was pre-deceased by his parents and nephew, Gary Oakley. Jim is survived by brothers, Osborne C. Oakley, Jr. (Frances), Ronald H. Oakley; sister, Katherine O. Buckley (Larry); daughters, Rosemary Ferguson and Rachel Rose; nieces, Cindy O. Canup (Eric), Wendy O. Mauney (David), Trendi O. Vita (Mark); grandnephews, Alexander Mauney, Stephen Mauney, Justin Vita and Blake Vita. Jim shared his life with best friend and life partner, Donna Frierson. Jim will be remembered as a gentle man with an infectious smile and magnetic personality. He was a visionary with cherished friends from all walks of life. He will be truly missed. A service in his memory will be held at noon on Tuesday, October 29th at Central Church of God, 5301 Sardis Road. The family will receive friends following the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Allegro Foundation,...A Champion for Children with Disabilities, 419 Ardmore Rd., Charlotte, NC 28209. Arrangements are in the care of Hankins & Whittington Funeral Service; please share condolences online at

Published in Charlotte Observer from Oct. 27 to Oct. 28, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Unexpected Assignment

By R.L.Clark

 You may remember that in June of 1963 our movement to Japan was cut short when Cliff Judkins and Don Tooker ‘s planes exploded during in-flight refueling.  Subsequently the squadron was flown to Atsugi on GVs (USMC C-130s).  Our planes were to be transported by ship after they determined what caused the explosions.  

A B-26. I flew as a co-pilot in this plane on a Tuesday. 
 The next day the crew pulled the wings off somewhere
in the jungle and were never heard from again
So, here we are in Japan, a combat-ready Fighter Squadron with no airplanes.  About two days after arrival the Skipper called me into his office and the following conversation ensued between us. He asked me if I knew anyone in Wing H.Q. who I may have crossed before.  No Sir I replied.  You have a third MOS  (Military Occupation Specialty), tell me about it.  I told him that when I completed Basic School the USMC, in its infinite wisdom, instituted a policy that all Regular Officers must serve a tour in the Fleet before applying for Flight School.  I was sent to Artillery School and subsequently to the 12th Marine Regiment on Okinawa as a Field Artillery Officer, MOS 0802. For the next 18 months we deployed to such “Garden Spots” as Japan, Taiwan, Borneo, Philippines, Korea.  We also sailed off the coast of Thailand for 40 days expecting to go into Laos. Nothing happened and we sailed back to Okinawa.

Tell me about your TOP SECRET Clearance.  For the last 3 months in the Far East, I was a Courier
R.L. Clark
carrying dispatches to various places and I expected that the clearance had lapsed when I returned stateside. He told me that once a background check had been completed it was permanent, modified by “Need To Know”.
CIA Headquarters in Da Nang
How much time do you have in the T-28? Approximately 150 hours with 10 carrier landings I said.   He said that the                        T-28 may be the plane I would be flying where I was going.  He asked what my qualifications regarding side-arms was.   I listed .38 and .45 cal. Pistols; M-1,M-14, Rifles; Thompson  Sub; and BAR.
Skipper said “Congratulations you just received orders for 6 weeks of Temporary Duty to South-East Asia for On-The-Job Training; Good Luck; Turn in your .38 to the Armory.  They will supply your needs when you arrive.  They have a battery of shots for you at Sick Bay.  Do not take your Log Book because even though you are there, officially you are not there.  CIA runs the show.  Two days later I was on a plane to Clark AFB where I stopped long enough to get several more shots then to Da Nang in Viet Nam.
Special Forces Outpost in the Highlands
where we were involved with some missions against the VC

I learned what the definition of ADVISOR was.  Stay alive any way you can, trusting no one but yourself and the Army Special Forces.  I have highest regard for the “Snake Eaters”.  They know how, when, and where to complete the mission.  Also, I was told that when up on a mission with Vietnamese pilots, never fly in front, but stay behind them.  CIA figured that they were 20% infiltrated by VC.  Six weeks later, I was back in Japan with a lot of “On The Job” training behind me. When I was ready to leave Da Nang,  this CIA man called me into his office and told me that basically everything I had seen or done was classified TOP SECRET and I had to sign a statement that I would tell no one what I had seen or done and to render no opinions to anyone.  If I did not want to sign, I could not leave. Guess What? I eagerly signed it.

. A DeHavilland landing at an outpost

When I returned to Atsugi, the Group C.O., His Intelligence Officer, and my C.O. called me in and wanted a report on my time in Viet Nam.  I told them that I could not do it and Why I could not do it. All three were enraged and called Wing HQ.  My C.O. showed me the response which was short.  “leave Captain Clark alone he is following orders and you do not have the NEED TO KNOW.



Monday, October 14, 2013

Forget Waldo, Where's Ellouise?

Here, there, everywhere. If you follow Ellouise on her blog, as I do, you already know that she hasn't slowed down a bit!
Her latest post is typical of  her schedule of performances.  -Ed

By Ellouise Schoettler
(From her blog )

Finally its Fall - after some mighty hot days. Halloween is on the way - and stories are in the air. I started October at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough,TN listening to wonderful storytellers telling their best stories. Now fired up to start into my own Fall storytelling schedule. Just letting you know where I am telling stories in October and November - - would love to see you there and tell my stories for you.

October 15
                         Arlington: My Forever Home, 4:30 PM
      Renaissance Room, Sibley Hospital, DC,
October 19       Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival, Pickens, SC
October 30       Scary Stories, Corporate Event, Hagerstown,
November 9     Flesh on Old Bones Workshop, 1:45 - 3:15         Assoc of Personal Historians Conference , Bethesda, MD .
November 10    Arlington: My Forever Home, 2 pm, Free
       Women's Military Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery
November 12    Finding Gus, SPEAK Storytelling Series,
       War Memorial Building, Shepherdstown,WVA
November 21    Finding Gus: Solo Story, 7:00 pm, $10
       The Athenaeum, Alexandria, VA
November 24    Flesh on Old Bones Workshop, 3 pm. $10
        The Athenaeum, Alexandria, VA
November 26    Arlington: My Forever Home, Art and the
         Military Experience, Univ MD at Baltimore



Ellouise Schoettler-The Beacon 

(A local paper (The Beacon) wrote a real nice story about Ellouise that you will want to see


Also, for you Charlotte folks, on Saturday, October 19th she will be performing only100 miles away.

It's a great idea for a pleasant Fall drive!  -Ed

Details from their brochure:

Twelfth Annual Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival

Featuring Nationally known tellers Ellouise Schoettler and Martha Reed Johnson
with Derrick Phillips and South Carolina State Heritage Award Winning Master-Teller, John Thomas Fowler

A day of family fun coming up on Saturday, October 19

     The Pickens County Museum of Art & History invites you to a special, and free, day of milling, stories, tall tales and lots of memories at the Hagood Mill Historic Site  Folklife Center. The Mill will be operating, rain or shine, on Saturday, October 19 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Washington Redskins Change Name

It's about time!

So many Americans have been outraged for years over the insulting name of one of the premier teams in the National Football League!

America can finally be proud of that fine team's name.....Thank goodness common sense prevailed at last!

The NEW name is:


-Ed   (Hat Tip to "The Onion")

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Getting Old is Tough Enough...

but there's no excuse for corporate America, and just about everybody else for that matter deliberately trying to make it worse.

Take Fig Newtons for example.

Sometime last year, when no one was looking, Nabisco took the Fig out of Fig Newtons.

At first glance, the package looks close enough like regular old Fig Newtons to fool just about anyone. Especially an unsuspecting, handsome, mild mannered 77 year old man.

Mild mannered until he got home and discovered that his box of Fig Newtons......was actually a box of STRAWBERRY FIG NEWTONS...but that's not what the box of cookies disguised as Fig Newtons was called.  Nowhere was the name FIG; instead, it was called simply NEWTONS!  It was nothing but a box of tasteless impostors.

Now, originally there was no such thing as a "Newton."

A Philadelphia baker and fig lover, Charles Roser invented the Fig Newton in 1891 and named his cookies after the fruit and town of Newton, Mass.

Now, Nabisco (the current owner of the name) apparently doesn't give a fig about Mr. Roser, or his home town or millions of us chronologically gifted people who grew up eating that uniquely delicious fruit cookie.

Now in all fairness, Nabisco  still makes some Newtons with fig fillings, which would officially make them "Fig Newtons."    I discovered some the other day when I had a lot of time to search through the cookie section of my local Safeway.

However, admitting that taste is a very personal and subjective thing, in my opinion, it wasn't worth the search.
Perhaps that's the fault of our over zealous government dictating what can and can't go into cookies these days or some overpaid executive at Nabisco claiming that it needed more or less of this or that. But, as far as I'm concerned, it IS what it IS, and it AIN'T what it WAS.

Sorry to say, but I predict Nabisco's NEWTONS will soon join the graveyard of forgotten products.

Goodbye old friend, may you Rest In Peace.






Spread across plain of bread

filling holes and cracks

like sweet caulk waiting 
to be devoured.
Grape, the soul mate,
drops in globs until
mooshed into voids left by
inaccurate knife.
Squooshing out from folded white,
oozing over fingers licked,
and soaking up dunked milk.
There is nothing better

-Liane Laskoske 

It ain't Robert Frost, but it ain't e.e.cummings either.

Thank goodness.

Anyway, poems about Jelly aren't easy to find.
But I digress.

My Daddy once told me that he remembered seeing Phillip Lance selling peanuts from the back of a wagon on the streets of Charlotte.

That was around 1913 and was the beginning of what later became the Lance Packing Company. I was reminded of that great rags to riches success story at
Don and Lettie Nance's daughter Charlotte's wedding, performed up here in Alexandria, VA several years ago. Linda and I came home from that beautiful ceremony with a gift pack containing some of the best jelly either one of us had ever tasted.

We learned later that Don had made it!

Don said he began his Jelly-making hobby as a diversion from his job of looking after 56 churches as a ministerial executive. (He had learned the craft as a youngster from his older brother Bobby.)

Daughter Charlotte's wedding was the largest jelly request that the Nance Jelly and Jam Factory had ever fulfilled; 250 jars. (Number of employees...ONE. Lettie always leaves the kitchen when Don starts creating)

Suggested Logo
Upon hearing this, I immediately went into my "How I can help my old friend make a million dollars working from home" mode...and began throwing out brilliant suggestions, such as "come up with a strong logo"

then a catchy phrase such as "a Heavenly Taste" or "Peanut Butter's Best Friend"

Virginia Stompers

Then, bragg about it being "made from Virginia's finest grapes.....stomped by Virginia's finest feet"....perhaps even suggest to Jerry and Obie and Charlie and the gang to organize a "60th Reunion Stomping Party."

But NOOOOOOOOOO!  Another  brilliant money making idea of mine shot down before it's even tried.

Don said he's happy making jelly the way he's been doing it...and GIVING it away (with the understanding that the recipients return the jars). It makes him happy.

Anyway, he intoned, "It's better to give......than........"

Darn, preachers just don't understand business. If Phil Lance had thought like that he would still be selling peanuts out of a wagon on South Tryon Street.


Sunday, October 06, 2013


Our amazing, one and only Jerry Gaudet reminds us that the October "LDL"

(Let's Do Lunch)  will be held

Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 11:30 AM
at "Jimmies" in Mint Hill.
You are invited to join us. Spread the word! Invite other classmates to come! Even better, bring someone with you! Be sure YOU, come! 

Jimmies is ready for the 54 Wildcats and their friends

When looking for something, like a sweet and clever poem perhaps, to spice up the invitation, I came across this by e.e.cummings:


-  e.e. cummings

At first glance, you probably think your computer has suddenly gone nuts.

Nope, nuts is certainly the appropriate word, but it has nothing to do with your computer.

That's the way e.e.cummings wrote.

And he became a famous and wealthy poet.

Andy Warhol was right when he said "Art, is whatever you can get away with."

And what gets my knickers in a twist is that my parents spent hard earned money paying for college to waste my time studying that clown's scribblings.

Now, he may have been a fine person, so my beef is not really with him, but with the academic industry who put him on such a literary pedestal.

I plan on writing a letter of protest to UNC:

Dear Sirs:
I wa


PS......Enjoy the October "LDL" lunch....and please, if anyone remembers to bring a camera...take some pictures that I can post on our website!


Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Studies Racket

If I were 25 years old again, and starting over,  I'd dump the Radio/TV thing like a hot potato and go
into something like the Tattoo Removal Industry or, better yet, the "Study Business."

And Washington, DC is the town to do it in.

The largest industry, in fact the only private industry here when I came up in 1961 was the Rubber Stamp manufacturers.  But now, it's gotta be the "Study Business," although it's called by several names, "Government Grants," "Scholarships," "Surveys," etc.

An example of some recent ones are,




Those "studies" were not all paid for by our government, but the majority of them are, like the one they recently paid $582,000 of our tax money to find out "Why Monkeys Throw Poop."

Another thing our "Brilliant Leaders" did  (in spite of the fact that the Chinese economy is second only to that of the United States and China holds billions of dollars of our debt.) was send 18 Million Dollars of our money to China to improve their social services and clean up their environment.

Makes sense to me.

But the kind of studies I'd be real good at...and seem to be very popular these days...are the ones that are obvious to anyone with half a brain, but seem to be no less than Eureka moments to today's generation of Americans.

The best example I can think of is the TIME magazine cover story of a number of years ago that proclaimed:

Men and Women Are Different.

Some of the Damndest studies are done by the once (before they bought into the man made global warming hoax) highly respected "scientific community."
In order to try and hold down the laughter, and get back some of their reputation, they claim that "they don't assume how the world works; they test it."

Nevertheless, here is a list of some of their recent studies:

Swallowing Magnets is bad for you
Combining Drugs and Alcohol is Bad for you

Gun Toting Drivers are More Prone to Road Rage
Too Many Meetings Make You Grumpy
Why Is It Easier to See Someone Close than Far Away
Smoking Cigarettes Costs You Money
Memory and Concentration Fade with Age
Time Flies When You Are Busy
Kids Love Santa

(Please note: I didn't make this stuff up. It's published regularly in a number of the leading science magazines.)

And finally,

You Can't Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

However, this particular "scientific" study concluded that you actually can!  The new research funded by the National Institute of Aging found that older beagles fed a healthy diet and given plenty of exercise performed nearly as well as younger ones on cognitive tests.

Now, if they could just do something about those damn monkeys.