General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com
Friday, June 13, 2003
In 1747, my great-great....grandfather Johann Click left Ulm, Germany with his wife and eight children headed for a better life in the New World. I do not know if he was one of many who left because of religious persecution although the Ulm area was Catholic and the Clicks were apparently Protestant. Johann never saw the new world, instead dying on the passage to Nassau leaving his wife in a strange land with eight children. By the time of the American Revolution, they somehow managed to get to South Carolina where the sons fought for the good side. The elder son, also a Johann but now called John, moved on to Alabama homesteading in what is now Marshall County in a cove that now bears the name Click Holler. No, not hollow, holler. According to the tombstones in the Click family cemetary, a grandson was a Captain in the Confederate Army although it doesn't say where he fought. The Captain's son, my great-great grand dad hated Yankees passionately. His was not a prejudice since he always said he had good reason to hate them. Seems that in 1864 yankee soldiers raided the Click farm and took all their food and livestock and as the old man said: they "dang near starved to death". In his 60s and during WWII, my great grandfather worked for the Army and was exposed to chemicals that caused him breathing problems for the rest of his life. He lived to be 93! Without what he always thought was exposure to mustard gas, he might still be alive!
I don't have a lot on those men and generations. Just what you can glean from the scant records in county courthouses and from tombstones. I don't know that any were prominent cititzens or that they ever achieved much in the way of worldly possessions, but from Johann on, they took care of their families and served their country. I do know that they were amazing people. I knew my great-grandfather Click who passed away after my son was born. I was in the Army by then and the last time I saw him he told me he was proud that I was in the Army serving the country and how lucky we were that old Johann Click decided to leave Ulm.
On Father's Day, I have to agree with him.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
In the 1970's, I was stationed in New Jersey at a small Army post that had no medical or dental facilities. When we needed medical care, we had to go to Ft. Monmouth which was about 80 miles away all on Interstate 80 and the Jersey Turnpike. Since we had to furnish our own transportation, the Army paid us the standard mileage rate. As it work out, we were paid from the travel account of the Army Project Management Office where we worked. The Project Manager was a frugal sort and asked us to try to schedule multiple appointments whenever we had to go to the Doctor. My friend John and I needed to go the Doctor, me to the Dentist and John for an eye check so being good little soldiers, we scheduled our appointments for the same day so we could go in one car.
I only had one car at the time so John said he would drive. John had a Monte Carlo and VW Beetle. The MC was a 1973, 350Ci with a four speed so I assumes John drove much like I did. Although the speed limit was 55, I had managed a gate to gate time of right at an hour. John said he had few things to do and that we would leave at 1000 (10:00 AM for civilians, little hand on the 10 and big hand on the 12 for Navy, AF and Marines). Our appointments were at 1300. (1:00 PM for civilians, etc) so I figured we had time for lunch and for John to do what he needed to do before then. At 1000, John shows up in the Beetle, not the MC. Did I mention this was January, in New Jersey?
Now a Beetle heater can be made to put out heat if you run the engine at 4000 RPM, in other words, drive 75. We headed off post and got on the Interstate. I was chilled to the bone and looking forward to some heat coming in even if it was mixed with 30 weight oil, afterall, John did use high quality Castrol racing oil. I had seen him change it. John promptly and without hesitation accelerated up to 45 MPH and stayed there. Semis wheeling by at 65, horns blowing, Beetle rocked by blasts of air from the eddies behind the trucks and from the curses from the drivers. 45 MPH! 80 miles of angry drivers giving us the one finger salute! John intently hunched over the wheel staring at a spot about twenty feet in front of the windshield! Me, sitting in the passenger seat fighting off frostbite and praying that my life insurance was paid up because the wife and son were going to need it. We arrived at Ft. Monmouth at 1230 (you should have figured it out by now) just in time to report to our respective clinics. See, the military practices something known as "hurry up and wait" so you have to show up at all appointments early, then wait until they get to you.
Well, that day, I got into my appointment on time and by 1330 was out. John had parked across from the clinic and I could see that he was not back at the car. By this time I was hungry and so I headed over to the sanckbar and had lunch. Went back to the car. Still no John. Went to the clinic. No John. Go up to the snackbar entrance and stand inside where I can see the car and keep semi-warm. The temperature has dropped to 20 degrees and the soldiers passing by are talking about the big snow storm moving in. At 1530, I see John coming across the parking lot. I head out to meet him at the car and asked where he had been. Window shopping at the PX! 2 hours while I am freezing! "So I guess we are ready to head back?" "No, I need to go to the tailor shop and pick up my new uniform." Off we head. At the tailor shop, John has to try on the coat and two pair of trousers. It is now after 1600, getting dark and starting to spit snow. We head back to the car where instead of heading to the Interstate, John turns back toward the PX. He needs to get milk. "Why didn't you get it this afternoon?" He didn't want it to spoil! 20 degrees in the sunlight, and there was no sunlight and he is afraid his milk would spoil! Did I mention that this man had a MS in engineering from Virginia Tech? We math majors always said engineers had no head for numbers.
At about 1700 (5:00 damned PM, etc), we leave Ft. Monmouth. John wraps the speedo up to....35! See, he doesn't like to drive fast in bad weather and at night! On through the night we mushed, getting slower and slower. Slower was good in that he had to downshift and a few calories came through the heater boxes. I considered trying to light the oil fumes but neither of us smoked and John had heaved the Beetle cigarette lighter. The snow was almost 6 inches when we got to the gate of our own little post. It was 2200! (10:00 PM, etc.)
My wife was frantic. No word from us since I called her at about 1600 to tell her we were leaving Ft. Monmouth. You have to admit it seemed plausable at the time. She had called the Jersey HP, John's wife and anyone else she could think of. John's wife asked if she thought we were okay. Well, she said, Larry is either dead or so mad, he will probably have a heart attack!
Monday, June 09, 2003
Why We Missed The Wedding and Other Strange Happenings
We had been looking forward to attending the wedding of the daughter of some old Army friends on May 31. Lee bought the wedding present, wrapped it and laid it aside. She is getting good at that since it seems the children of all our friends are getting married, not to mention the friends of our children. We were looking forward to the wedding because several old friends whom we had not seen for some time were to be there. We hurried about our usual Saturday chores so that we could be ready to head over to the wedding about 20 miles from our house by 3:00 PM. I was looking forward to the heavy horse-dervies. (never could spell that word, but our friends have horses so that spelling seems appropriate.) Now Lee’s sister was scheduled to arrive at my Mother-in-law’s from Florida on Saturday evening for a few days and M-in-law had spent the week getting ready for the visit. Actually Lee had done all the getting ready since M-in-law is 90 years old and practically blind. The fact that she insists on living on the family farm 70 miles from us enters into this story and many of our other adventures.
We were planning to leave our house around three to allow plenty of time to get to the Church since we were not sure of where it is. We talked about when we would be able to get over to see Lee’s sister and brother-in-law and decided that Sunday afternoon would be a good time. At about 2:30, Lee called her Mom to tell her that we would be over the next afternoon. Mom answered the phone breathing like had just run the Kentucky Derby without benefit of the horse. Lee asked if she was alright and got this in return:
Mom had been making her bed when she somehow managed to toss the sheet into the ceiling fan and managed to turned it on. The fan snatched the sheet from her hands. The sheet wrapped around the fan stopping its rotation. Mom rushed down the hall and pulled the main breaker. ( I know better than to mention to her that she could have turned it off at the light switch in the bedroom) Now all the lights were off and the house, build in 1963, has dark pine-paneled walls and she can’t see anything. She managed to call some friends who are about as old as she is. The man managed to take the fan apart and get the sheet unwound. Everything seemed in order and after a short visit, they left. Mom now decides to take a shower only to find that the water is cold. Seems the water heater has shut down for some reason. (Notice I avoided saying hot water heater on the premise that you don’t need to heat hot water!)
Panic sets in since daughter and son-in-law will arrive in a few hours. The fact that they take care of Mom in the winter when she is in Florida is not important. When they come to Alabama, they are guests, at least the first night.
Lee calls about then to tell her that we will be over the next day and gets the full story with gory details and three-part harmony. She gets off the phone and we decide that we should drive over to the farm and try to fix the water heater since if any fuses or circuit breakers are needed, we will need to drive to the Lowes 30 miles away and they will close before the Florida crew is scheduled to arrive. So loading up the old Mazda pickup, we head off to fix the water heater. Arriving at the farm, we discover a blown fuse (burned to crisp , actually) and miracle of miracles, replacement fuses among my late Father-in-law’s collection of “stuff”. After checking to ensure that there are no short circuits that are waiting to burn the house to the ground, I replace the fuse and, voila, the water heater works.
We hung around, waited for the Florida crew to arrive and had a nice visit before we headed back to Huntsville. Oh, turns out they had been dragging around all afternoon so that Mom would not feel obligated to fix dinner for them and could have easily been at the farm before Lee and me if they had only known about the catastrophes.
Since we missed all the great food at the wedding, on the way home, we stopped at the Dairy Queen and had hot fudge sundaes to celebrate with the newlyweds.
I can't really get upset at the French since I see it as just another move that politicians have projected will allow them to maintain or increase their power. It doesn't much matter if the politician is an Alabama Democrat such as those Mr. Possum wrote about this morning. (I can't get a direct link to the post, but it is Terry's comments on Alabama's latest tax plans) For the record, I fiure the Republicans are just as vile. I just don't see that they have a win-win situation on the tax plan.
I can't get all riled up about the French, but I see people everyday who are. Yesterday a visitor at my Church saw me get out of my Mazda pickup and asked me if it is a good truck.. He said he had a Nissan that has given really good service and it time to replace it. He would buy another Nissan but he has learned that Renault owns 44% of the company and he refuses to send any of his money to France.
I wonder just how broad the anti-French feelings really are.