Halloween

Halloween

By: Garland Davis

My neighbors are putting up Halloween decorations and all the stores stocking great displays of tooth rotting candy to placate the little goblins bring back memories of a couple of Halloweens where I grew up in Western North Carolina. Halloween in the country in the fifties was a little different.

The road I lived on was dirt and gravel until 1958. It was about a mile and a half long and ran from NC 411 to NC 66. There was a total of eight occupied houses, one antebellum log house without a roof, various stock barns and two tobacco curing barns along its length. If a kid were of a mind to go Trick or Treating all he would get was an apple at the Vanhoy sister’s house. Everybody had apple trees. We were burned out on apples by the time Halloween came around.

Besides, being pre-television farm country, most people went to bed at sunset and were up and had the cows milked by sunrise. Just about everyone had a pack of free range dogs who would raise hell if one put a foot on their property. Most dogs would just raise a ruckus, but some folks had dogs that would bite. Which brings to mind my grandmother’s Blue Tick Hound, appropriately named Blue. Blue would bite anyone except my grandmother. She would baby talk to him, and he would wag his tail and act like a little puppy. My uncle used to say that Blue was “so God Damned mean that he was afraid to go to sleep. He feared might wake up and bite himself.”

My grandmother lived in a three room house. One room was originally a log cabin (BTW it is still standing) built in 1825. Two other frame rooms had been added. The kitchen was on one end and the log cabin room on the other end. Each room had a front and back door. Blue was usually on the porch in front of the door of the room containing my grandmother. When my grandmother went to work at the hosiery mill, Blue would sleep in the driveway. My uncle Frank had just gotten his first car and came home one afternoon while Blue was napping in the drive. He blew the horn and yelled for Blue to move. Blue just looked at him and went back to sleep. He jumped out of the car and yelled, “Blue, you son of a bitch, I’m gonna kick the shit out of you.”

Blue had a different idea. He came up off the ground with a growl and grabbed a pants leg in his mouth and ripped it half off. Frank in fear of his life, scrambled for the car, dropping his keys as he did so. Blue went back to his bed and went back to sleep. Every time Frank tried to get out to get his keys, Blue would jump up and growl. He spent the entire afternoon in his car waiting for my grandmother to come home.

The only people on my street that didn’t have dogs were the Vanhoy sisters and Mr. McCandless. Mr. McCandless lived in the first house off 411. He farmed a little but primarily raised ducks which he sold to a butcher in town. He refused to keep any dogs because he was afraid they would kill the ducks or suck the eggs. Mr. McCandless was a crotchety old fellow whom we used to torment. In the spring and fall, we would walk to school instead of take the bus. Mr. McCandless would be on his porch reading his paper. We would stop out of his sight and pass his house one at a time.

The first boy would say, “Good morning Mr. McCandless.”

He would look over his paper and reply, “Good morning boy.”

A couple of minutes later a second boy would pass, “Good morning Mr. McCandless.”

He would lower the paper a little more forcefully and say, “Good morning” In a gruff tone.

And so on with a third and fourth boy and each reply to the “Good morning” getting gruffer and louder. About the time the fifth boy offered him a good morning, he would jump up, stomp around, throw the newspaper and yell, “Good morning, God dammit, Good morning!”

It was the fall of fifty-five or fifty-six, a few days before Halloween. The four of us that usually ran together, Junior, Bobby, Joe, and I were walking home from school when Mr. McCandless accosted us in front of his house. He was carrying a double-barreled shotgun.

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He said, “I knowed it’s you boys that turned my shithouse over last year’s Halloween. I’m letten’ you know that I’m spendin’ the night in the shithouse with this here twelve gauge loaded with number six shot. Jist letten’ you know afore you come messin’ around my shithouse.”

We assured him that it wasn’t us who turned his toilet over the previous year. But he had thrown down the gauntlet. Now we had to do something. We had a stock of cherry bombs, and M-80’s that we were saving for New Years, but decided now would be the appropriate time to use them.

We snuck through the woods and came up behind the shithouse. Junior threw a couple of rocks against the outhouse to ascertain if he was actually in there. He hollered, “I told you,” and stuck the shotgun out the door and fired it.

Joe had the deepest voice and yelled, “Come out of that shithouse with your hands in the air or we will shoot.”

We started lighting the bombs and throwing them around the toilet.

Mr. McCandless yelled, “Git away from my shithouse,” and discharged both barrels through the door.

Mrs. McCandless, thinking that the old man was involved in a gunfight, yelled out the back door, “Herman, I called the Sheriff, stay in the toilet till he gits here.”

Hearing that, we all ran off through the woods. By the time the deputy sheriff arrived we were safe in the old barn across the road from my house. The sheriff picked up a group of boys from across the railroad tracks. They were on their way to turn the McCandless outhouse over. It seems they had been the culprits the previous year.

The other Halloween that stands out in my mind was the year before my dad died. Four sisters lived about a quarter mile down the road about a quarter mile from our house. Their last name was Rising. Most everyone referred to them as the Rising girls. I halfway had a crush on and lusted after one of them, but that is a story for another time. They went to a different school than we did. The demarcation line between two school districts ran between our houses. Our school bus came in from 411 and turned around at our drive. Their school bus came in from 66 and turned around in their yard.

Their mother owned all the land across the road, including the old log barn across from my house. We had used it for our cows for a while when Hurricane Hazel flooded out our barn. Other than that it was vacant. To us, it became the Alamo surrounded by Mexicans or Fort Apache surrounded by Indians. To the Rising girls, it was a play house or a Sweet Shoppe for their girly games.

That Halloween they came up with the idea to turn it into a haunted barn. They enlisted our help. We thought it a good idea and fell enthusiastically into their plan. They were cutting bats and spiders from craft paper and wanted us to make ghosts. They had a bunch of old sheets and wanted us to stuff them with straw, paint eyes on them, tie a rope around them and hang them from the rafters. There were also four or five old pairs of overalls and shirts. They wanted headless bodies lying around.

We worked hard making ghosts and dead bodies. There was a bag of athletic tube socks included in the pile of clothing. I came up with the idea and the others, enthusiastically joined in.

We stuffed the socks and put dicks on all the ghosts and dead bodies.

The girls discovered our additions to their creatures about the time my dad came home from work. As he was getting out of his car, the youngest girl ran over to him and, crying said, “Mr. Salmons, we were trying to make a haunted barn and them mean old boys put Peters on all the ghosts.

My dad gave me a halfhearted ass whipping, but I figure he thought it was funny. I heard him laughing about it when he told my uncles and cousins.

We had to make our fun at Halloween without the rewards of today’s tame trick or treating.

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Paen of an Asia Sailor

Paen of an Asia Sailor

By Garland Davis

 

I could carry, work, and tell stories with any man I ever saw.

I have been twenty-four years a Chief, and forty-one years an Asia Sailor;

No deployment was ever too long for me,

I have saved the lives of sailors and others.

I have had hundreds of girlfriends and a wife.

I spent l my money on drinks and pleasure of the girls.

Were I young again, I would spend my life the same way over.

There is no life so happy as an Asia Sailor’s life.

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The Dinosaur

The Dinosaur

By Cort Willoughby

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More than fair to say I’ve always enjoyed a good laugh. Often at my own expense . Never have I destroyed property or malicious intent toward anyone in my pursuit of a laugh or a good time.

One extra warm day in the AUTUMN a neighbor, John Bradley , lived up the road had brought his corn picking machine to the farm that parallels the one we lived in. Any Kid loves machinery, the noise and work being done , a pure magnet that drew me to observe . John a tall lanky man , pronounced ADAM’S apple and generally a shitty disposition.

Still , it was the only game in town that day and I was gonna record it to memory . Several passes and the wagon was full . John stopped near my viewing spot to swap out trailers . The old “POPPIN JOHN” JOHN DEERE had steam coming from the radiator . John asks , “ DO Y’ALL have water up there?”

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Pissed me off instantly, also fair to say I’ll die with that chip on my shoulder . I SAID HELL YES , even as a kid I was ready to hook it up, what kinda asshole gonna ask that ? He says, “ll give you a dime if you go and bring a bucket of water for my tractor.” HELL YES, I’m a rocket blazing to get this dime in my pocket .

Get to the house , pick up the two gallon can . Now , this can was a Sinclair Dinosaur can , had two holes in it with bailing wire for a handle. THIS bucket , OUR NIGHT TIME PISS BUCKET my youngest brother was responsible for empty duty every morning . Rusty inside and yes, smells like piss.

I drop the water bucket into the well and fill two gallon of water into the Dinosaur. SINCLAIR actually looked cooler, chill water visible . I get back to John Bradley . HE grabs the bucket n pours into the radiator . HE too spots condensation on the outside . Still no effort to hand over my earnings . Says “This won’t kill a fellow if I drink from it ?”

“NO, I DON’T THINK SO!”

GLUG GLUG GLUG ADAMS APPLE BOUNCING LIKE A BASKET BALL . HE stops , hawks several times spitting . Says this smells like PISS!!! It should I say , that’s our piss bucket ! Then I really get in the wind.

To this day John Bradley owes me a dime.

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Metal Roomby

Metal Roomby

By Garland Davis

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I found a show on TV that fascinates me. It is titled Battlebots. They have these cool remote controlled things with hammers, saws, spinning drums, and arms as weapons. They release two of them into an arena and the try to dismantle each other. I was thinking, “I’m gonna build me one of these mothers.”

Then it occurred to me that this isn’t such a good idea. My past and recent experiences with electricity haven’t been so great. I can still change TV channels by twitching my eye. Suddenly I devised a method to build myself a Battlebot.

Three years ago, I bought a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner when my wife was in Japan visiting her family. I would activate it when I woke up and again before I went to bed. The floors were clean and I didn’t have to drag that vacuum around the house. The Roomba gave me time for more constructive tasks such as restocking the reefer with Bud Light. (I used to have an occasional beer in those days). I had most of them on the occasion of my wife being out of the country.

My wife didn’t like it! Especially after I left for Branson to attend the Asia Sailors reunion and preprogrammed it to start at 10 AM each day. It drove her nuts, which was my intent when I programmed it. I figured out why she doesn’t like it. She can’t control the damned thing. Also, she lost it. It started one morning and disappeared. It has a feature that when it gets stuck it will ask for help and then shut down. I came back from Branson and she told me it was gone. I searched the house for two days and finally found it under the recliner.

To get back to the story of Battlebots, I decided to convert the Roomba to a Bot. To beef it up, I built a framework of angle iron and sheet metal to protect it. This added considerably to the weight. In initial tests, the battery depleted very fast. So, I ordered three replacement batteries and rigged them into the power system. I had an old chop saw that I modified and attached as a weapon. I added three more batteries to the series to meet power requirements. The Roomba has a rudimentary guidance system but I needed a system I could control remotely.

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A kid down the street has several remote controlled cars and planes. I asked for his help. He gave me a hand held remote and the “brain” that is installed in the vehicle. He also gave me a memory chip and motion sensors to increase reaction times. Unknowingly the chip had part of an “Artificial Intelligence” program he was trying to adapt to his remote controlled drones to give them more autonomy.

Finally, after weeks of preparation, the Bot was ready for testing. I set up an old metal trash can in my garage to test the Bot’s ferocity. I placed Metal Roomby (The name I gave it) on the floor and activated it. I pushed the control to move it toward the trash can. Roomby spun around and viciously attacked a broom standing in the corner. After reducing the broom to splinters, it attacked and dismembered the garage vacuum. It then crashed into the wall until a dustpan and foxtail fell from the hook on which they were hanging and reduced them to splinters. It looked as if Roomby was trying to eliminate the competition. It then spent the next twenty minutes sweeping up all the debris it had created and came to me and stopped. It was almost as it were begging to be emptied.

I pushed the button to turn it off. Not only did it not shut down, it growled at me! I threw a whisk broom into the center of the garage and while it was disposing of that, I unplugged the recharger unit and ran into the house.

Evidently the AI program had corrupted the brain of the Roomba.

It just sat there in the middle of the garage watching the back door. Every few days I threw a brush into the garage, hoping that it was discharged. I was afraid to let my wife vacuum. With that saw, Roomby could come right through the wall if it heard the vacuum cleaner.

I could not go into the garage for a few days. It was pissed at me for taking its charging pad. I think it is possessed. I don’t know how it is recharges itself.

A city street sweeper came by cleaning the street yesterday. Roomy went to the curb and sat almost as if it were in awe. The last time I saw Roomy it was following the street sweeper down the street sweeping the curb behind it. Roomy took with itself my desire to own a fighting robot.

On a positive note, I have the cleanest garage in town. Roomy swept up three time a day…

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Happy Birthday to my Navy Family – 242 Years Strong

theleansubmariner

This speech was delivered to the Pittsburgh Area Navy Ball on October 20, 2017. The Ball was sponsored by the Pittsburgh Council of the Navy League of the United States and the McKeesport Pittsburgh Chief Petty Officer’s Association

Happy Birthday to my Family

Life is full of celebrations. Births, graduations, achievements, weddings, anniversaries. October is a month of celebrations for the Navy family and Navy League members as we celebrate the Navy’s 242nd birthday, Oct.13, Navy Day and Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday, Oct. 27.

For the Navy League, We use these occasions to remember and rededicate ourselves to our missions in support of our sea service personnel and their families and to educate the public and Congress on the importance of our sea services in defending our nation and its prosperity.

Some of us were also blessed to be part of something which helped to define us as individuals while serving…

View original post 1,250 more words

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Down to Clown

Down to Clown

By Daniel Joseph DeCampo

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Today was a normal day in port at home in Yokosuka, a day after a duty night, nonetheless, which is one that drags on forever. Myself and the crew should be back out to sea soon and get our lives together once again…

Time in port, here in Yokosuka, is always great. The Sailors with families, get time with the family and the guys without, get time to clown.

“Clowning,” used as verb by myself and some of my closest Shipmates, quite a bit these days, is a term with a broad meaning in my opinion. Some examples of conversations I have had with other Sailors using this awesome term:

Sailor A: Would you like to run off base to get some Japanese curry for lunch?

Me: Curry isn’t my normally my thing but, I’m down to clown.

Sailor B: Hey, Bro, are you down with getting some chu-hi’s after work?

Me: For sure, the guys from Supply said they want to clown as well.

Sailor C: Oktoberfest is going is going on in Yokohama today, are you down to clown?

Me: Yes, Motherfucker, clowning is what I do best…

Oktoberfest in Yokohama is an experience like no other. It has been a fairly popular event for quite a while therefore, it brings out the “melting pot” aspect of this Tokyo area that I love so much. Folks from the entire area coming out to drink good beer, eat good food, just generally down to clown.

My first experience with this fabled Oktoberfest was this weekend. Myself and my slightly more salty Road Dawg, known as DV, trained it out to Yokohama and arrived there around 1pm on Sunday and the party was in full effect.

At the start we ran into a dance instructor, new to the area. She was originally from Baltimore but, has lived in Asia for the last few years, most recently Seoul, South Korea. She asked if she could join us, being unfamiliar with the dynamic that can be Yokohama. DV and I, naturally welcomed her along.

She and I had a connection, on some level. We went through the afternoon with copious amounts of beer, good conversations, and bullshitting with random people, as well as folks I know, along the way. DV was very busy running around, getting numbers, coordinating conga lines, exchanging political views, and making sure the band was going to start on time.

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It seemed DV and I were officially separated around the time that darkness hit the drunk fest and I came to the decision it was time to take the dance instructor to dinner. A place called Dumbo’s Pizza near Yokohama Station has good pizza and good wings that are pricey but, they have some good wine that is fairly inexpensive. we ate the food, drank the wine. I asked, “Coming Back to Yokosuka with me?” she said yes, and that she wasn’t teaching a dance class until 3 the next afternoon. She came back with me, good things happened and the end of it all, she decided to start freaking out about her boyfriend that, she all the sudden is concerned about, after two hours in my bed.

If she mentioned a boyfriend earlier, I either didn’t hear it or chose to ignore it. She went home at that point and did text me when she got home.

The moral of the story is the Tokyo area, Oktoberfest being a tiny example, is truly a melting pot with people from all over. Since being here, I have drank with bankers from Singapore, businessmen from Lithuania, Russian Dancers, British musicians, Brazilian Factory Managers, and of course dance instructors from Baltimore…

This being a recent story, my mind continues to go crazy and that’s okay. The Navy continues to be good, as does life and I think that’s cool.

The work week will come to and it looks like DV and I will head to Oktoberfest for not all of the beer there, just the necessary amount for Round 2, I have no doubt that it will be something to write about..

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“Homecoming Parade Float”

“Homecoming Parade Float”

By Brion Boyles

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OK. so…I was 18, new in the Navy and on my first port visit to Japan. The ship, USS MOTICELLO, had pulled into Yokosuka, and a shipmate asked me if I wanted to go to Tokyo with him and a couple of other guys in a rented car and visit an old friend they knew… maybe play some poker. “Sure!”, I said, and we all piled into the car and headed off.

We parked on a tiny street fronting a tall apartment building, and went up to the 4rth floor, where a party was in progress. I sat in on the poker game until I felt the need to unload, asked for the bathroom, and headed in. Locking the door, I turned and looked for the toilet. “Where the fuck is the TOILET!?!?”

There, obviously, is the sink, there’s a wastebasket…and recessed into the floor was what looked like a ceramic bedroom slipper, with a drain hole and some kind of tank above it. This, I figgered, was the mystical Japanese-style toilet I had heard a bit about. As I was already starting to “cap”, I thought no further…dropped trou, squatted over the narrow hole and let loose a perfect, foot-long log so dry and solid it made a “TINK!” noise when it hit the ceramic. I made use of a few sheets of ass-wipe from the roll, and then looked for the flush lever.

No flush lever. There was a stumpy thing poking out of the tank, so I pushed it, tried to twist it…no joy. My concrete turd still lay motionless at the bottom of the pure-white trough. Now someone is pounding at the door…”You OK, man?”…

“Yeah! Just a minute!”. Not knowing what else to do, I yanked about 20 feet of toilet paper and carefully picked up my still-warm work of art, rolling it in the toilet paper like an Egyptian artifact. Then, I quietly opened the tiny window over the tank and lobbed the shitlog-mummy out into the darkness of the Oriental night.

I returned to the poker game, whereupon the host said, “I hope that missing lever didn’t give you trouble. Most people figure out that’s what the bottle opener on the string by the sink is for…” “Sure, no sweat…figgered it out right away!” I said, not wanting to look like a “boot camp” in front of all these salty sailors.

Well, we played into the night and decided to head back to the ship, but as we approached the rental car, to my utter shame and horror….I noticed it looked like a badly done float in a High School Homecoming Parade….strewn with toilet paper and Milk Duds….

“WTF?!?!?” sez my shipmate, to which I muttered, “Just get the fuck in, and drive fast. I’ll explain later….”

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