Category Archives: Boring Personal History

The Knot Board

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We spent Easter Sunday with my MIL Nana and we had a great meal and visit. I had my camera so I was taking pictures of this that and whatever. Nana has her late husband’s knot board hanging in her garage. You see her husband, Charles, one of the world’s really good guys was really involved in Boy Scouting. He was an Eagle Scout in fact. Charles has been gone a number of years now but in many ways it seems like just a few days ago.

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Charles and his grandson, Logan had a special bond.

Charles was a great story teller and one of my favorites is about scouting. You see Charles went on to become a pharmacist and after he got his degree he went to a small town in southeast Oklahoma and looked up the local Boy Scout Troop and went to the scoutmaster and introduced himself and said that he would like to get involved and was willing to help in any way possible. So the Scoutmaster said that was great and told Charles when and where the Troop met and invited him to the meeting.

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Logan and I went through Cub Scouts but neither of us was interested in continuing with Boy Scouts.

So Charles showed up at the appointed time and the Scoutmaster said “Everybody gather around here.” and then he said “I would like to introduce you to your new Scoutmaster, Charles.”

I loved that story and of course Charles was a great scoutmaster.  The knot board is something that he made for the scouts. Heather and Nana have lots of stories about numerous scout outings. When Charles passed away years later, several of his scouts showed up for the funeral. I think about him every day and still can’t believe that somebody who so full of life is gone.

Stories – My First Time in New Orleans Years Ago

I have a lot of stories. Just ask the people I work with and if I am around watch them slink away if there is the slightest possibility that I am going to tell another one like I am about to now.

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Audubon Park

I just got back from New Orleans from a convention. My first trip was in 1977 when I was graduating with an Engineering Degree from the University of the New Mexico. (aka “Harvard on the Rio Ground” or “MIT on the Mesa” as it is known, at least to me.) You may remember 1977. Oil prices were heading out the roof and I had sixteen job offers including a blind offer from Gulf Oil Corporation. Yep, they sent me a job offer by mail with my choice of location.

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MIssissippi River at New Orleans

They had locations all over the place and I sure wanted to avoid west Texas so they sent me to New Orleans for a tour there. I flew in from Albuquerque and stayed at a downtown hotel and the next morning went to their office and talked to an engineering manager and he told me what the deal was. The deal was that I would spend a year or two working out of the office in Quarantine Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. The thing was that I would live in New Orleans and drive down there in a company care with three other engineers. So I said,”….uh okay….” not that I was agreeing. So he said that I was going to go down there and tour the areas.

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I was wearing my finest (and only) polyester sport coat, tie, and slacks and said “….uh okay….” and he introduced me to an engineer who had been doing this and so we went to the parking garage and off we went. Going down he was all professional and all that. I am not sure how far we drove but memory (which is very unreliable) tells me it was about 40 miles or south of New Orleans. We were driving along the main channel of the river and after a while noticed that the ships in the river were above where we were and my guide said, yep. We were below sea level.

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So we went to our destination and got out of the car and onto a workboat and traveled further down the river. It was February, if memory serves me,and quite foggy and I was like really interested in the radar and all that. The Cajun crew was smirking at me in my finest polyester duds but there was nothing I could do about that. So we went down the river and through a lock off the river into Quarantine Bay and then motored over to the Gulf’s office which was basically an elevated barge run up on a mudbar in the bay.

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The water was only a few feet deep and there were dozens of oil wells scattered here and about. They were just basically well casings sticking out the the water with wooden guards surrounding them. This was Gulf’s oil field in the area. So we climbed the stairs up to the office and had some coffee and talked about what was going on and then we walked down the stairs to a smaller boat and motored around to a workout rig working on one of the wells. A wire line crew was working on the rig replacing gas lift mandrels (don’t ask, doesn’t matter) and they were all Cajuns with blue jumpsuits being very polite with the guy from New Mexico with his polyester duds and tie.

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This is the Dauphin field in Mobile Bay, Alabama

So we went back to the office where the crew had cooked some red beans and rice. They gave me a bunch of crap but I had worked three summers in the oilfields of the Permian Basin and had realized that the best way to handle crap is just to take it gracefully and so I took it and everything went okay and they all shook my hand when it come time to leave and I think I made an okay impression with these guys.

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So the time came to go back to New Orleans and off we went and here was where the surprise came, or at least the first surprise. My guide and I stopped about every fifteen minutes on the way back at various beer joints. And the bartenders knew my guide, and he knew them!! So we drank a beer there at the bar and took one to go and off we went to the next joint. He said that this was part of the training program. So we stopped at at three or four places so as we drove across the big bridge into New Orleans I had a pretty good buzz on.

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I was thinking we were going on to the airport but no. The second surprise was that management wanted to talk to me. Uh!!! Uh oh!!! So we went back to the office and I got to talk to the big cheese engineering manager and he talked and talked and droned on and on and then he yapped some more and I had reverted to the polite guy from New Mexico with the polyester duds and tie and then FINALLLLLLLY he asked if I had any more questions. I did! I asked if I could use the restroom.

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So I made a big impression with Gulf Oil. I had worked summers though with Mobil and they agreed to let me work on the Gulf Coast instead of Permian Basin. So it all worked out. I still remember my day with the Cajuns in the bay and how exotic it was to this guy in his polyester sport coat, slacks, and tie.

Quarentine Bay Screenshot

Screen shot showing New Orleans at the top and Quarantine Bay at the bottom.

USS Missouri now at Pearl Harbor, back then in San Francisco

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One of the highlights of our trip to Hawaii was Pearl Harbor. The old battleship, the USS Missouri is not berthed there and serves as a floating museum just down the harbor from the USS Arizona memorial. I would have loved to tour the Missouri but we were on a tour and didn’t have enough time. So maybe next time.

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Brother Bob – all dressed up and the Mighty Mo’

I had actually been on the deck of the Missouri before. Way back in 1986 when it was recommissioned in San Francisco after being modernized with cruise missiles and other modern armament. You see my brother Bob was on the original crew after the refitting. I got to walk across the teak deck and view the plaque commemorating the exact spot where Japan signed the surrender of World War II. I think Bob served on the ship for three or four years and went around the world several times. I don’t think he was on the ship when it served in the first Gulf War. He was and is proud to have served on such a famous ship.

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Sorry for the tilt

So, it was kind of nice to see the ship preserved and not salvaged and used to make Kias and Walmart trinkets. Instead it looks to me that it is guarding the USS Arizona Memorial.

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Here’s me all dressed up and about 30 pounds lighter.

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Uncle Bob again

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So, I hope to see it up close and personal next time.

 

William G. Milne House, Dell Rapids, South Dakota

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Last week I went to South Dakota for a family reunion. The main activity is a big picnic at the City Park in Dell Rapids. I’m not very good with large groups so I am not one to mingle and merge and start conversations up. Nor am I into shoving my camera into the faces of people. After the picnic there is kind of an “afterparty” at the homes of one of the relatives and in this lot smaller group I’m a lot more comfortable.

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The get together itself is great but the house also fascinates me. It has always seemed perfect to me. My great grandfather bought it in the mid 1940’s when he retired from farming and it has been in and out of the family ever since. I remember crashing in the living room one weekend in the late 1970’s during the reunion weekend.

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So somebody at the get together mentioned that it was designed by an architect named Dow. So of course I start googling around and low and behold it I find out that it is a house with a name, the “William G. Milne House” and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Moreover, it is considered to be a Queen Anne Style house and was built in 1902.. It was designed by a Wallace L. Dow who apparently was a famous architect who designed a great number of public and private buildings during his career. Of course I felt a little guilty thinking about drinking beer on the back porch of such a distinguished house. Not too guilty, just a little guilty you understand.

I have a little history with the house. Like I said that my Great Grandfather owned it for a time. My dad has slides from a trip we took one Christmas in the late 1950’s.

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This a family shot. I’m the good looking guy sitting on the lady’s lap. That lady is my grandmother. Brother Bob is the guy in red at the bottom of the photo.

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And here is me on the staircase of the house. I can’t believe I had so much hair. Where did it all go? I love those suspenders also.

Anyway, I love serendipity. How about you? Have you made some interesting connections lately?

Happy Fathers Day Dad – 2014

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This is my Dad. He used to be pretty skinny, not so much any more. Same thing with me. It might be a genetic disorder. I think this is high school graduation photograph. I just love that tie.

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This is Dad with brother Bob and me on Dad’s knee. I just love that hat of mine. I wonder what ever happened to it? I’ll have to hide it from Heather if I find it. She has a way of throwing away my most treasured hats. I don’t know why.

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I am not sure where this is. I’m sure we were visiting relatives somewhere. How come everybody Dad is color coordinated. The little girl is my sister Ellen. Dad looks like a KGB spy here. Mom is no longer with us. I really miss her. She and Dad made a great time.

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Dad wasn’t really a KGB agent, he was a Forest Ranger. Why a forest ranger is baby sitting cows is something I can’t figure out.

As far as me and my brother were concerned nobody ranked any higher than Dad. We had the run of whatever Ranger Station we were at, and we considered ourselves deputies. One time at Payson, Arizona we came across a National Guard officer of some sort who was waiting to talk with Dad about a big fire that his outfit was going to fight. He was kind of joshing Bob and I along, we must have been about 7 and 5 years old at the time. We told him that he better wait and check with Dad on that before he did anything. He thought that was pretty funny. Yeah, well, we were serious.

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Here is another shot of Dad the Forest Ranger and brother Bob and I. I am wondering whatever happened to my Smokey Bear. I am not sure why brother Bob is looking the other way. Probably he is looking that way because he was told to look the other way. Brother Bob can be bad about stuff like that. Me too sometimes.

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Here is a more recent photo of Dad. He is a great guy to sit and talk. 

Happy Fathers Day Dad, I love you.

One Reason That I Think My Dad Can Do Anything

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When Logan and I walked the dogs last weekend we came upon this truck parked in the lot of a gasoline wholesaler’s office just off the greenbelt. I am pretty sure that they don’t use it any more. It is up on blocks and all that. I love it. Old gas trucks like this always bring back a memory from my childhood.

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Back in the 60’s we were on a family vacation and we were in Nevada. I forget just how, but Dad discovered that we had a gasoline tank leak. He found out while we were in the middle of nowhere and Nevada has lots of nowhere spots. In fact there is more nowhere than somewhere. So, to keep from getting stranded Dad stepped on the gas. Back then Nevada didn’t have posted speed limits. I don’t remember how fast we were going but it was fast.

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We got to whatever little town was next and Dad swung into action. We went to a motel and got checked in and then he went to a gas station. I tagged along with him. Remember gas stations back then. They could actually work on your car way back when. They put the car up on the lift and removed the gas tank and found where the leak was. If I remember right it was in one of the welded seams. I can’t swear to it.

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(Geocaching last summer with my Dad and Sister. The shadow is world’s greatest BIL and photographer, Irv.)

The owner of the station couldn’t repair the weld but knew somebody who could. The owner had a gas truck much like the one pictured and he just gave Dad the keys to it. We loaded up the gas tank in a small box at the back of the truck and Dad drove it to the welder’s shop. The fixed it up pretty quickly and then we took it back to the gas station and they put it back on the car. Can you imagine such a thing these days?

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Dad at Geronimo’s gravesite, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Yes, he is smiling. He and I have the same smile. You should see his frown.

Anyway, that is just one reason that I think my Dad can do anything.

Do you know somebody who can do anything? Who?

Water Tower Wednesday – What Goes Up Has to Come Down

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My blog friend Fashionista of Out and About in New York City features a photograph or two of the city’s many rooftop water towers on Wednesdays. I’ve have had severe case of water tower envy because we don’t do that here in Oklahoma and the water towers we do have are not near as stylish as those in New York. 

I was delighted however to find a photograph of a water tower in my Dad’s collection of slides that I recently scanned. He told me that he got to tour a paper mill in under construction in Snowflake, Arizona way back in the 50’s and that was the mill’s brand new shiny water tower. I remember that paper mill. We used to drive by it now and then and it stunk! It stunk to high heaven for miles. It was flat awful. Talk about a good reason for air pollution laws.

So, I got to thinking. (I’m not used to thinking and it does kind of hurt when I try, but I kept at it, and worked through the pain) and I got to wondering what happened to the old paper mill, and, if the mill was still around, was the water tower still around. So I turned to my old friend Google, and found out that the mill’s owners shut it down last October because the newsprint it produced was no longer in demand and sold the facility early this year to a company who then went and auctioned every single thing they could in a very detailed list 24 pages long.

As far as the water tower is concerned above is a screen shot of the present water tower, at least as it existed last August. I can’t really tell if it is the present water tower or not. I’m betting with the dismantling of the plant that it is not long for this world. Maybe somebody bought it and is moving it to a rooftop in New York City.

And so anyway I guess that it is all kind of sad and everything and I feel bad for the workers who lost their job but things such as this happens as our economy changes and reacts to technology. So those of you who longer subscribe to daily newspapers are to blame! How is that for a parting guilt shot?

Signs, Signs, – Fire Danger

Fire Danger Sign - early 1960's

Anyone who drives through our National Forests will see signs similar to the above reminding us to be careful. These signs have been around a long time. This photograph was taken by my father in the early 1960’s and I scanned it from a slide that he had made. The sign was just outside Payson, Arizona on the Tonto National Forest. Dad was the Tonto District Ranger for the United States Forest Service at the time.

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Wednesday Flashback – Santa Fe early 1960’s

Santa Fe - early 1960's

I’ve been a bad blogger lately and I’m sorry. I’ve been traveling. I used to prepare posts in advance for that but I don’t generally any longer. I like the interchange and conversations with other bloggers and it is hard to do when I am on the road or visiting somebody. Plus it is nice to get away a little bit and refresh and get more ideas and photographs and stuff.

The family went up to Idaho for a family reunion and to visit my Dad and we had a great time and I’ll be posting about the trip in the coming days. 

I took my fancy schamancy all purpose scanner with me and scanned several hundred of Dad’s slides from the 1950’s and 60’s while I was there. The above photo is one of them. The little girl is my sister Ellen (Check out her blog News from the “Pole” Yard), then me to the left, and brother Bob to the right. It is on the square in Santa Fe and I’m guessing that it is 1962 or 1963. Santa Fe back then was a tourist town sure but real people lived there back then and they did their shopping downtown in amongst the tourist shops. 

Note the 29 cent hamburgers, and the guys walking down the street with their cowboy hats on. Also note the rolled up cuffs on the jeans Bob and I are wearing. Anyway, there has not been a dime store on the square in Santa Fe for decades and I’m sure that it is some sort of expensive art gallery now. Hamburgers are probably a bit more than 29 cents also.

Sitting on White Leather in San Antonio

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I’m spending a few days in San Antonio at a convention. I go here about ever other year and it is real nice. The hotel is real nice and right on the Riverwalk.  But this post isn’t about that. It’s about my first time in San Antonio a short, oh lets say 36 years ago.

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Don’t snicker, you aren’t so young yourself. I had just graduated from College and started work for Mobil Oil Corporation in Victoria, Texas just a couple hours or less from San Antonio.

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One of the summer employees at the plant was from Texas, a big friendly guy named Mike. He and I became friends and one day he asked if I wanted to go with him to visit his girlfriend in San Antonio. Sure, lets go I said. So off we went. Truth was I had never heard him say anything about a girlfriend.

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Turns out that she was a student at Saint Mary’s University. We got there and she was all in tears and crying and boo hooing and all that. She was the only daughter of a south Texas Rancher. Her daddy owned a big huge ranch. Small ranches in south Texas would be huge everywhere else so a big huge ranch might be kind of like Rhode Island or something. So she was used to a life of privilege. Just to give you an idea, her car that  she drove was a late 1970’s model Cadillac Eldorado.

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Her problem was that her suitemates were mean to her and made fun of her all the time and she wanted to go home. So Mike had his hands full trying to convince her to stay in school.

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It was decided that we would go downtown and see the Riverwalk. So we loaded up in her car, of course, my Toyota Corolla definitely wasn’t going to get the job done. Not for a girl that wouldn’t settle for anything but white leather under her  butt.

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Now the Riverwalk was a different thing way back when. It was a fraction of the size it is now. They didn’t have all the nice restaurants that are there now nor quite the genteel atmosphere.  Nor did they have all the canal boats giving tours like they do now. I remember that people were renting those two person little paddle boats and tool around them on the canal. They were everywhere. There were lots of young servicemen on leave and they were wandering around looking for stuff to do.

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We did all the tourist stuff. We walked the Riverwalk, ate, went to Hemisfair and went up the tower. The whole time she was weepy and crying and Mike was doing his Barry White thing (“Cmon Baby, it’ll be alright…” 

Anyways, I had of boring time being the third wheel on that adventure. However, it was the only time I got sit my butt on white leather my whole life.  Mike and I ventured back to Victoria. He went back to school and got his degree and went to work for Exxon and I lost track of him after a while. I don’t know whether he and the princess ever got married. (I doubt it, she was always going to be Daddy’s girl, I could tell that.)

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So that is the story of my first trip to San Antonio.

Have you ever sat your butt down on white leather? In a car I mean.