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It’s The Beginning Of That Time Again…

…Actually, the beginning was last Halloween.

Yeah, I know, I can be a bit maudlin.

Time marches on, things change, people pass away.

It’s one thing when it’s an aged relative – that’s unpleasant, but expected.

But when it’s a child or a dear friend in their prime.

THAT’S when it gets me.

Recent Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas aside, now it gets more personal.

For the next six weeks, or so.

Today is Ground Hog Day.  I hear tell he saw his shadow – six more weeks of winter.  Perfect!

Yesterday was, by my recollection, Ground Hog Eve.  Marked on my calendar to remember a dear friend.

MARK BELL

As previously recounted in these pages, Mark passed in 2012 a from a sudden, unanticipated heart attack.  We had gone shooting together the previous Sunday.  His passing happened on Ground Hog Eve.

I have had many friends over the years.  Mark was one of the best, the most kind, giving, and funny.  A USN veteran.

His definition of guffaw remains at the top of this page in his honor.

I love you and miss you, my dear friend.

Mark Bell, R.I.P.

 

Sometimes You Find The Ark Of The Covenant…

Sometimes, you are digging in the wrong place!

It was FIFTY YEARS AGO (1967!) that my interest obsessive-compulsion in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy began.  That, coupled with my family history in police work lead me to security and investigation work, an associates degree in Police Science, and my private investigation business.  Followed by a career as a credit card fraud investigator.

But I always came back to the JFK thing.  As a ‘hobby’.

It began when I was in high school, newly disabled, complete with a pair of crutches and my right leg in a steel brace.  For a year.  I’d read the condensed ‘report’ in the high school library, and soon walked the two miles to the university library.

And I found the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission exhibits and testimony.  And proceeded to read them all.

See, not compulsive at all!

Years passed.  Books and films critical of the Warren Report came out,  And I devoured them – to the best of my ability.  And kept notes.

But, there was one problem.  I had no copies of the 26 volumes in my home.  I couldn’t afford them, and my parents would not spring for them.  (I think they were $185 at the time).

This meant many a trek to the university library, and having to deal with my regular high school work, my family, friends and life.  What a P.I.T.A. !  🙂

Time passed.  I still occasionally dabbled in the JFK stuff, when my marriage, fatherhood, auto accident, etc. didn’t get in the way.  I DID recognize I could be obsessive about it and would voluntarily pull back when I felt it suck me in for more than a few days  weeks  months.

But, I never had my own 26 volumes.  And the price went up when they went out-of-print.  Even with the advent of the Internet, it just seemed they weren’t available.

Sigh.

I recently had a birthday.  Good friend Biff, lauded often in these pages, and I met for coffee, and he gave me a birthday present!

wp-image-1034841587jpg.jpg

Apparently, I was digging in the wrong place on the Internet!  Now I can return to my obsession in peace!  With my forty or fifty Warren Commission critic’s books, the few by apologist’s, the Internet, my notes, and MY 26 volumes!

(Maybe life would have been simpler had I eaten the bad date?)

 

Radio! Radio!

I was never a big radiophile growing up.  Probably because the focus was AM radio, and I preferred classical and jazz to rock-and-roll. (My older sister worshipped Elvis, however.)

I did remember my Dad telling me about his youth, having a crystal radio with which he could listen to AM channels in the evening, especially ‘on the skip’.  He would then write the radio station and they would confirm what he heard by mailing him a QSL card!  (Much as Amateur radio operators do today).qsl
I even have a collector’s book (somewhere) of my Dad’s QSL cards, like from Pittsburgh and Chicago. (He lived in Providence, Rhode Island!)

So, in high school, instead of listening to the Monkees, the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits, I ‘borrowed’ my Dad’s AM tube radio.  I connected the foot-long antenna to my window screen, shoved a robe under the bottom of the door (to prevent radio light leakage) and listened to late-night AM radio ‘on-the-skip’, like KSL (Salt Lake City) and WFAA (Dallas)!  I remember even hearing some Chicago stations! (I was in the Phoenix area.)

This worked well for a long time – at least until an errant robe sleeve found it’s way into the hallway, and my radio privileges were taken away!  😦

I never wrote away for a QSL card, though.

Now, of course, one may turn one’s cellular telephone into a virtual AM/FM radio, with huge range.

It was a more primitive time.

As with dial telephone land lines, and pre-Internet, the youth will never understand.

 

Another Night As A Security Guard

I think I was first employed as a private security guard in 1972.  Last, in 1987.  For about six different companies over the years.  Interspersed with being a process server, private investigator, security consultant and numerous other jobs.

Consequently, sometimes my memories conjoin, and sometimes fade.  Sometimes, they make me cry (like restricting access to the urgent care facility to allow access for a seriously ill cancer patient – because the cancer made them stink!), and other times they make me chuckle.

Why haven’t I posted about this funny ever before?  I’d forgotten about it.  A recent course of Nyquil™ helped me to remember!  😛

Well, anyway…

I was a graveyard shift guard for an urgent care facility three days.  And substitute guard supervisor for two.  Often filling in for sick, ill, and lazy guards.  And those who just decided to quit at the last minute.

(If I couldn’t bribe someone else to fill in…)

One of the offices for the urgent care was adjacent to a popular stage theater/movie house.  And sometimes, the audience parking would bleed over into our lot.  Our job, as security, was to make certain they simply didn’t restrict patient parking.

Usually no issue or biggie.

But this was Phoenix’s Sombrero Playhouse!  Where much of central Phoenix ‘old’ money would go to watch plays, and sometimes first-run films.  Then they’d go up 7th Avenue to The Islands for a nice dinner out.

sombrero

Generally nice, older folks who didn’t want to be annoyed.  And had money to enforce that.

And, I was a conservative, somewhat sheltered young lad.  Just trying to do my job.

As a last minute aside, I was told there was a new movie at the Sombrero.  And some of the patrons ‘dressed in costume and makeup’ to see the film.  I was not to express alarm at their ‘getup’.

O-kaay.

I’d not heard of the film.  It was THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW!

So, a guy pulls in and asks me if it’s okay to park in the clinic lot.  I apologize and say no.  The first of many times that evening to people who looked (somewhat) like this:

rocky

I didn’t express alarm, but did have to stifle laughter!

And my boundaries were again widened.  Not because I wanted them to be, necessarily.

And Rocky Horror became an underground hit.  And took over ‘Midnight Movies’ at my nearby theater, The Valley Art.  The used to run indy films, then it became nothing but Rocky Horror every Friday and Saturday midnight!

Times were a changin’…

 

But Wait! There’s MORE!

(Oft heard tag line on late-night TV infomercials)

And, apparently, my Life!  🙂

Dave the Genius Mechanic was in town last night, and collected me for our all-less-often dinner out together at Red Devil.

We get together a few times a year to trade stories about the progression (regression) in our lives, friends, relatives, etc.  His work, not mine. (as I am on disability).  Sometimes we touch on taboo topics like politics, too.

With his busy interstate work/home schedule, and his many other interests (like boat building), his shooting has taken a back burner.  As far as I know, he’s not shot or purchased a firearm in some time.

Dave was kind enough to loan me a gun when I was ‘gun poor‘ in the distant past.  I’d sold all my handguns, and was in need of one for a security guard job.  I carried her for a number of years, and even shot her competitively.

Eventually, she was returned to him, no worse for wear.  (Well, hardly!)

SO, Dave’s in town, and going through his stuff, and finds this gun.  It occurs to him that he’s shot and carried her much less than yours truly.  And he really doesn’t have a use for her…

PLUS, he read my recent post regarding my roommate’s gift to me of one of her firearms.  And for him, that cinched it!

As he dropped me off after dinner, Dave announced “I have something for you.” (in that understated, low-key Midwest style of his).  And he reached into his trunk and hands me THIS!

ruger_security_six_357

not exactly as pictured

A revolver I carried and shot a lot, but never owned!  But, now I do.  (Dave mentioned something about Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday when he gave her to me.)

She needs improved stocks, and maybe a little gunsmithing.  But, she’s mine.

In 2009, I had over 50 firearms.  Then came the vault burglary.  Until Thanksgiving, I had two firearms.  Now I have FOUR.

Sure, I still rent a room, have a beater car, etc.  But my firearm inventory has doubled!

And, more importantly, I have friends!

Thank you, Dave!

(for the uninitiated, she’s a 1972 Ruger Security Six – old frame)

 

 

Again With The Gratitude!

I’m disabled.  For a number of reasons, including lymphoma.  I don’t make much money on disability.  I’ve an old, beater car, without working A/C.  I rent a room in which to live.  I’ve no romantic relationship in my life.  I have chronic pain issues.  They will never get better.

Sometimes, as above, I whine about these things.  The holidays do not help.

But, The Universe usually doesn’t let me sit on the pity pot too long…

Some time back, I reached out to a friend-of-long-ago on Facebook.  And, he never responded.  Oh, well.  He was a college classmate, who became my boss (for a time) then a good friend.  And we lost track of each other because of Life.

I was always a little envious of him.  In college, he was in good shape, having just left The Marines.  He

Archer

Archer

was handsome.  Sparkling blue eyes, a shock of black hair, chiseled jaw and a permanent five-o’clock shadow with a blue/black beard undertone.  He kinda resembled the adult cartoon character Archer.  And his wife was gor-geous!  (Maybe that was the most envious part?)

Well, I finally heard back from him on Facebook!

We all have our ‘stuff’.  He is no different.

He’s divorced, and NOT friendly with his ex. (I am with mine.)  He, too is on disability, brought about by his military service.  He has a type of chronic leukemia.  Not necessarily lethal, but in need of regular treatment. (Which he now receives).

And he told me he had been homeless for ELEVEN YEARS!!!

He is now working with other homeless veterans to help them get back on their feet and find places to live.

And to think I was whining earlier…

GRATITUDE

Where Were YOU When…?

“December 7th, 1941.  A date which will live in INFAMY!”

I wasn’t yet born.  But I remember it was a touchstone for persons of my Father’s generation.

Where were YOU when Pearl Harbor happened?

I’m certain each generation has their historical event…

(Going back before Pearl Harbor)

The beginning of The Spanish-American War.

The sinking of the Titanic.

WWI

The Lusitania

The End of the War to End All Wars

But, Pearl Harbor sticks in my mind, because I’ve met folks who were there.  It’s not just from the history books, like the Civil War, the Indian Wars, “Remember the Maine!”

As the JFK assassination is for MY generation.

And the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, the U.S.S. Cole and the second World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.  And Flight 93 are for subsequent generations.

Each generation has it’s historic marker.  Some, sadly, more than one.

It’s up to US to keep the memories alive, with politically-correct history textbooks barely mentioning such events.  If they mention them at all.

Does this make us warmongers?  Hardly.

This is the 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.  If you were 17 at the time (and got permission, or lied) you could have been there.  You would now be 92, if still alive.  Veterans are passing daily into history.

Thank you for your service.

It is important to remember from whence we came, lest history repeat.  We must learn from our mistakes, and others.

And remain vigilant.

pearl

 

Remembering Clive

Going to the recent memorial for Bob reminded me of others who have gone before.

Like my work-pal Clive!

One of most unforgettable characters when I worked @ TMCCC was CLIVE.

At least that’s the name from which we all knew him:  Clive.

Could he have BEEN any more British?

Clive was another of the credit card fraud investigators with whom I worked.  He had the accent, was married to his American wife (his 3rd, I think) and had lived in the United States (legally) 40 years.

I once asked him why he didn’t go for citizenship.  He said a piece of paper wouldn’t change where he was born!

He was a classical liberal and loathed Margaret Thatcher.  We had many a thrilling political discussion.

He found out via the company grapevine I was a firearms enthusiast, and was quite anxious to know if I had a Lee Enfield .303 rifle.  He apparently was familiar with them through the British military.  I did not, but he still wanted to go shooting with me.  We made a desert run (with his pal, a retired Flagstaff PD guy ‘Harry’, also an investigator) and had a blast (no pun intended).

I suggested he could obtain his own SMLE, but he didn’t understand that particular abbreviation.  And, anyway, he explained his American wife (whom he lovingly referred to as SWMBO*) wouldn’t stand for it.  She didn’t like guns.  I knew a high-end range in North Scottsdale offered lockers for storage.  And he was carefully considering it.

I took a vacation week, and upon my return found out that Clive had also.  He told his wife he was not feeling well and stretched out on their couch.

He never awakened.  (this was some years ago)

I never knew much more about him, until I saw his obituary.  Turned out his first name was Richard, and he had been a respected scientist in the U.K.

From his obituary, in part…

For many years Clive was a Research Scientist for Weyerhaeuser and has three patents. He was a founder of Home Builders International, which developed low cost housing in Third World countries using mostly straw and mud for construction. He and his wife, Dawn, spent six months in Mexico City where Clive helped establish a factory to manufacture the straw and mud into a material suitable for home construction. He was the founder of the Phoenix Institute of Technology. It was a national group of scientists who developed a report on methods to generate power in Third World countries using only local resources. The report was presented to the world at an international environmental conference in New Mexico in 1995. It was written initially for the Vatican and the Mennonite Church who are the largest missionary groups in the world. This research was done and sent with no monetary exchange. (…)

Clive served 3 years in 341 Squadron of the Air Training Corps, connected to the Royal Air Force. (…)

I miss our spirited exchanges, my friend.

*She Who Must Be Obeyed

 

Robert Vaughn RIP

rv1

lv3

(So, the Angel of Death (aka 2016) marches on.
And we are lesser for it.  I hate you.)
Robert Vaughn played Napoleon Solo, in the meme-changing TV show The Man From UNCLE.
Television was populated with ubiquitous cowboy and cop shows. Then Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond) approached NBC with a concept.
And stars and genre were born. (the other star being David McCallum – Ilya Kuriakin. David remains with us, thankfully, as Ducky on NCIS.)
Mr. Vaughn played many other roles, but never lost identity with the Solo role.

rv2Before UNCLE, Vaughn was one of the original Magnificent Seven. He was the last surviving of the seven.

By all accounts, he was a fine man.

He died of acute leukemia. He was 83.

Being a survivor of another blood cancer (lymphoma) this interests me. Please donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my sidebar.

My youth keeps falling away…

RIP Mr. Vaughn

Veterans Day

vet-day-2016

I always tried to make it a practice at TMCCC to stop by the desks of veterans with whom I worked and thank them for their service.

As I can no longer do that…
Lonnie, Glenn, Glenn, John, Stan, Jim, Jodie, Ardith, John, and Gloria.

Thank you for your service!

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…