Saturday, November 8, 2014
Cold and clear means good radio reception.
There's been a big moon out the last few nights, no need to run the external security lights. This morning it's shining spectacularly. You've heard the expression "reading a newspaper by the light of the moon." I think you could actually do that right now.
It's cold, though. Just below freezing so I'm not spending a lot of time outside this morning admiring the moon light. The scanners are going, have been for more than an hour, and not a peep out of them. You can certainly tell when tourist season is over just by the immediate and marked fall off in county radio traffic.
About midnight I went out to the apartment and listened to skip on the SSB CB unit. People are talking about the normal things. I think using a CB radio with a linear accelerator on it, at illegal power levels, is very much a country thing. I almost never hear anyone on there who isn't coming out of some rural location, unless you get the occassional truck driver and he probably is from the country when he's home. CNN says that 51 percent of the American population now lives in cities, and the rate of migration from the rural areas to the cities is accelerating. I wonder if it's a coincidence that the same thing happened to the Romans when they started down the deceleration curve?
I know there is little employment in the countryside. Medical care is often extremely limited on a local basis, fire and police services are so thin on the ground as to be virtually non existent. I've written before how I called our Sheriff's Department and asked for the occasional patrol out around our quadrant some years ago, only to be told that "you folks are on your own out there." I can understand it, it's a big county and a small department. Young people leave, the older people become infirm and get moved to their kids houses, a "granny" house, or the ultimate evil fate, the county nursing home.
My own kids were raised here, and sometimes they come to visit but they tell me they would never want to live here, even if they didn't have to work. In the city, there are lots of people like them, no end of things to do, and they like it.
I had lunch with two young men , just turned thirty, this week. They grew up here, and neither of them have ever traveled further from the mountains than a quick trip to the beach. It's interesting to me that these guys have not the slightest desire to see the wide world. When I was their age I'd already been all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. I've lived in, worked in, or at least visited almost forty countries. One of my primary considerations was " Join the Marines and See the World." when I signed up. I guess that recruiting poster has gone out of vogue, given the history of the last ten years. Still, I couldn't make either of these fellows understand why I wanted to travel when I was their age. They're good people, intelligent, hard working individuals with families. I guess our backgrounds are too different to really connect. I've been considering a trip out to New Mexico and I asked them if they wanted to go along, only half in jest. Both reacted with horror, to the extent that I couldn't help laughing at them. They didn't want to miss work, didn't want to leave their families, didn't know what the people were like out there, and so on.
Oh, well. I honestly believe things are just changing so fast now that I'm not keeping up with the times. But then again, when I think of life as it was in the 1950's, when I was a kid and life as it is now, I am not at all sure I want to.
My brother in Oregon is going through one of his phases where he is getting rid of his possessions. When he left California some years back, he sold or gave away everything he had, with the exception of what he could pack in a trailer and his car. Now he's cleaning out things I would be keeping, including his family memorabilia. He sent me some old pictures he had that he thought I might want.
Among them, my graduation picture from the Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga. That would have been the summer of 1973. It's a staged picture, of course, taken in an old mock up out by the towers.
I made two jumps from the C130 Hercules and the three from the C-141 Starlifter, as I recall. I "volunteered" to go to jump school, as did all members of my reserve unit when they hit their third summer of college. It was not a particularly enjoyable experience, and I never jumped again. You do what everybody else is doing though, peer pressure is powerful.
This is an old picture, taken at Quantico, Virginia in the winter of 1971. All of the people in it are Southerners, except the 2nd from the left standing, who was from New York, and the guy in front who was from New Mexico. That's me on the right, standing. There used to be so many Southerners in the Marine Corps that the joke was USMC stood for "Useless Sons Made Comfortable." I don't know if that is still true or not. The fellow in the middle, kneeling with his arm around the other Marine was from Way Cross, Georgia. He got killed, which was a real shame because he was the nicest guy you could ever want to meet. His name was Gerald Drawdy. I think everybody else made it through their service. The fellow kneeling on the right with the moustache was from Shelbyville, Tennessee. He did four years as a Naval Flight Officer in the F4 Phantom, then went back to school and became a lawyer. Strange, the things you remember after forty years, when you can't remember where you put your keys 15 minutes ago.
This is just a random clip that shows what happens if someone chokes in the door. The aircraft is traveling fast. Everybody has to go out in one big stream, or you will scatter troops all over the ground, disasterous for airborne troops. Besides, they saved this guy from a fate worse than death. To come down with the aircraft would have finished him with his friends and his career. I don't know what they do now, but in those days nobody came down with the plane.