I don’t text
for specific reasons. To begin with, my brain doesn’t work fast enough to quickly
respond. People would grow disgruntled waiting for my reply.
fingers are bigger than most. That makes for hitting letters on a tiny keyboard
a real challenge. There’d be too much chance of misinterpretation, especially
if I continuously struck the wrong keys. Because of this, I choose not to use
texting as a means of communication.
When email first came out I had problems there as well. Most of my undue stress came from the same mentioned reasons. I can’t respond quickly and trying to type in a hurry only results in errors.
I’ve had friends and family misinterpret what I said in emails because of glitches and typos. They were either offended or incensed in what I was trying to explain. Most everyone has had that happen a time or two.
I began placing smiley faces at the end of sentences to indicate I was joking. Sometimes I got carried away in using them. This led to some folks believing I wasn’t taking things seriously, or in one case, that I was flirting.
Initially I used all caps, because that sped up my response time not having to go from lower key to high. Of course all caps came to be known as shouting. How silly! I’ve never heard printed words say a thing.
prefer a personal level of communication, and that involves talking on the
telephone. Good luck on finding someone to answer. Usually all I get when I
call my kids is their voice mail, with 9 out of 10 times them never checking
such. They tell me I should text. I tell them they should answer their phone.
I’m not sure where communication will ultimately end up, but it’s not good. If things keep going the way they are people won’t know how to talk. Mumbling will be the norm. Laugh at me, but take a look at cursive writing. I hear it’s not even taught at some schools. Sad!
The early Egyptians used a form of symbols for communicative purposes. Other countries did as well including China. The Chinese still do. Cavemen were notorious for this type communication.
It seems we’re reverting back to those primitive methods. In some restaurants the choice of food or beverage you want is made by pressing a symbol. Push the one looking like a burger and that’s what you’ll get; hopefully.
The other day I saw colorful graffiti spray painted on a business wall. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Evidently it meant something to the person doing the spraying.
I feel there’ll come a day when I see such communication on the rear bumper of a car. Asking the driver what the mumbo jumbo means, he or she will reply with a smile,
“My child is on the honor roll at Harper Valley Elementary!”
One sunny July day nearly 46 years ago, a friend called asking if I wanted to go mountain climbing.
I climbed my
share of mountains while living in Alaska. None of them had spectacular names
like Denali or St. Elias. In fact, I don’t recall any of them having names at
all except one. It was only by fluke I ended up scaling that peak.
I’ve never been a person seeking to climb a mountain or traverse a glacier just because they are there. Putting my name to a list of thousands having climbed Mt. Denali is not my cup of tea.
Whenever I climb anything, it’s because I’m searching for something like an old mine, antique bottles, or gold nuggets. Often times I only want a better vantage point for photographs.
One sunny July day nearly 45 years ago, a friend called asking if I wanted to go mountain climbing. Our expedition was to start the following day. I had absolutely nothing planned so I agreed.
“What do I need to bring?”
Jeff told me
to wear jeans and good hiking boots, plus take my backpack with plenty of food
and water. We weren’t overnighting so a stove and tent wasn’t necessary. I
tossed in my camera and a light jacket just in case.
picked me up very early the next morning. We would be climbing in the Chugach
Mountains, so it didn’t take long to get to the base of the mountain.
We made sure we were sufficiently hydrated beforehand by drinking plenty of coffee. I had a chilled can of Pepsi wrapped in my jacket. I planned to use it to celebrate when we reached the summit.
It had rained for days previous so the going was tough. Several times I slipped on wet rocks and had to catch myself. Jeff took a deathly tumble but didn’t get hurt other than a bruised finger. We slowly made our way upwards stopping every so often to catch our breath.
There was light fog in the air as sun warmed the morning dew. At this point we removed our jackets. I was glad I’d brought one along. Jeff’s coat was made of Gortex thus it stayed dry. Mine on the other hand was manufactured of nylon. It looked like a wet puppy. Perspiration along with early morning moisture completely soaked it.
Taking a break on some rocks Jeff pulled a small thermos out of his backpack. He poured himself another cup of coffee. I decided to tap my can of Pepsi, regardless that we hadn’t reached the top. I still had a canteen of water. The sweet taste of soda was even sweeter at altitude. Something about the beverage always gives me a peppy feeling. I would need such for the final 300 feet.
With additional zest in our systems we pushed for the summit. It didn’t take long to reach it. Looking around we were stunned at the view. It was unbelievable. We could see Sleeping Lady Mountain across Cook Inlet through gray mist. About that time a recognizable scent struck us both.
The delicious aroma of frying bacon permeated the morning air. Looking perhaps 200 feet to the right, a man was sitting beside a small orange tent with frying pan in hand. Gazing around we saw more of the colorful tents.
We instantly hiked over to see what was going on. A church group had overnighted on top of the mountain. They were just waking up. The man frying the bacon told us more of his gang would be coming up later that day.
Jeff and I were somewhat stunned by this. We expected to have the peak all to ourselves. This definitely wasn’t in our game plan. We made the most of it.
Finding a dry place to spread our tarp we sat down to eat our grub. Jeff’s cold pizza and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich were glib compared to what the others were enjoying. They invited us to have some of their hot breakfast and we eagerly accepted.
We chatted with them a bit before kicking back and taking in the unusual sights. A hippy soon arrived carrying a boom box. A gal with braids sat beside him with her guitar. Another guy showed up with a portable xylophone and a small dog. They quickly started making music.
By noon there must’ve been 30 people sitting amongst us. The scene was reminiscent of a city park on Sunday afternoon. Several of the climbers looked to be in their late 60’s or 70’s. There were small children scurrying about.
Packing up our duds, we decided to head back down the mountain. People were still trudging up the hill. Arriving back at Jeff’s car, we noticed folks having a hard time finding a parking place. Most were using the side of the road.
“I’m sure glad we came early.” Jeff mused. This place is worse than Leroy’s Pancake House on Friday night!”
I was glad to have made the trip. I knew I wouldn’t do it again. Asking Jeff what the mountain was called, he said he didn’t know. Someone at East High School had told him about the place.
“I think they call it Flattop Mountain. I’m not really sure?”
I told Jeff if anyone asked, maybe we should say it was Mount Fujiyama.
“That sounds more gnarly than Flat Top mountain!”
The way I saw things back then, fishermen often stretched the truth about the size of fish they caught. What difference did it make if 2 Alaska mountain climbers chose to stretch things a bit regarding a mountain they climbed!
Thankfully or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, no one ever asked.
I’ve flown third-class many times in my life. That’s always been my mode of travel when flying somewhere. I went ‘cargo status’ one trip in a tiny Cherokee Lance aircraft. I sat on cases of food destined for a rural Alaskan village. My butt was frigid by the time we arrived. Warm flesh became well-acquainted with Green Giant brand frozen vegetables.
Far as I know I’ve only flown ‘second-class’ twice in my life. The first time was when a flight attendant walked up asking if I’d mind sitting in the first row. They’d overbooked third-class (coach) and my seat was needed.
The next occasion was when I transported our Yellow Nape Amazon parrot “Jesse” from Alaska to Arizona. Alaska Airlines made me purchase a second-class ticket, saying there’d be more room up front where carrier size was concerned. It cost me a few extra dollars to do so. The airline should’ve paid me, because Jesse entertained the dozen or so passengers from takeoff to landing.
I have a friend telling folks he travels strictly first-class. I once corrected him by saying he travels second-class. That upset the fellow. He quickly responded,
“There is no second-class!”
I’ve had other friends and acquaintances tell me the same. They too are in error. By now you’re probably wondering what am I talking about?
The first time I actually ‘thought’ I was flying first-class was a misnomer. I leaned back in my cushy leather seat believing I was on top of the world. The flight attendant had just brought a steamy hot towel, at the same time inquiring what entrée I wanted for dinner. I actually had a choice!
As I glanced around the cabin I observed what appeared to be business people. Many of these folks sit up front because of their abundant frequent flier miles. I didn’t notice any celebrities amongst our group. In my way of seeing things I’d just become Mr. Big. I planned on savoring every moment of it!
As we waited for a motorized tug to pull our Boeing 747 away from the terminal I glanced out my window. Several hundred feet away was a red brick, two-story executive flight facility. There were sleek Lear jets on the asphalt tarmac in front of it waiting to be boarded.
“Just one time”, I
thought to myself.
As I continued staring a black limousine rolled up. The driver stopped in front of a short set of stairs connected to one of the planes. The man exited, and then walked quickly to the rear of his vehicle, opening doors for a middle-age couple and their 2 children.
The family looked excited as they entered the stylish jet. They exhibited the same giddiness as folks on a commercial flight bound for Hawaii or Vegas do. I continued to stare as the limo driver unloaded bags, and then accepted a tip from what I assumed to be a crew member. That’s when the thought struck me,
“Now that’s first-class!”
Years ago my brother equated passengers boarding airplanes to cattle boarding trucks. The thought stuck to my mind like gum in hair. These days I smile strolling through the front section of a plane. I can’t help but think,
“All these bovineactually believe they’re traveling
On an airplane junket several years back, my brother-in-law Calvin bellowed like a steer upon entering the craft. He could imitate the sound to perfection. As if rehearsed, some guy standing behind us let out a perfect,
Several people in line laughed. A flight attendant also found it amusing. As we strolled through the forward section not one chuckle came from these folks.
If you were to ask why, I’d say those travelers didn’t want anyone thinking, that they came from the same herd as the rest of us!
“I’d even accept ruby red ones like George Faust’s if someone gave them to me!”
I’ve always wanted a pair of Oakley sunglasses. They’re those pricey sunglasses with an O on each side. They start at a hundred bucks.
I found some lying beside the road once. They’d been run over and smashed beyond repair. My luck!
What makes Oakley sunglasses so expensive? That’s a good question. The cheap sunglasses I buy are around ten bucks each. They do just fine although lenses seem to easily scratch. I’ve yet to wear a pair of sunglasses out. I end up losing them way before they fall apart.
I’ve come across several lost sunglasses over the years with all of them being cheapies. A friend of mine owns a pair of ruby red Oakley’s. He’s had them forever. George Faust works as a musician and professional clown in Alaska, so bright colors are in with him.
He told me he’s had people offer him big dollars for his eye-wear since he purchased them 20 years ago. Oakley doesn’t make that model anymore so I assume they’re rare.
I found a way around the expensive price tag on Oakley’s. I’m not talking about stealing them. It was quite by accident that I discovered this brilliant idea.
While at the optometrist both of my eyes were dilated. I hate that! Afterwards the nurse gave me a pair of what my daughter calls,
“Old Man sunglasses”.
I’m not sure what she means by that statement? The ones given to me look like any other sunglasses that hip senior citizens wear.
In a desk drawer my wife has some self-stick white circles used to repair holes in notebook paper. These circles are very close to the oblong O‘s on Oakley’s. I took one and stretched it. That made it perfect.
Next step was place a self-stick O on each side of my glasses where the hinges are. I seriously doubt folks can tell the difference between my imitation Oakley’s and the real deal.
My wife doesn’t like me wearing them in public but I do. Hopefully sufficient embarrassment will lead her to purchase me an authentic pair. I’m not counting on such but it’s worth a try.
There are many different Oakley styles. A pair of black Oakley’s resembling my replicas would be great. I’d even accept ruby red ones like George Faust’s if someone gave them to me!
On May 9,
1957 Lieutenant David Steeves of the United States Air Force carefully placed a
duffle bag into the vacant rear seat of his airplane. Military T-33 training
aircraft weren’t designed to carry luggage. Standing on a removable entry
ladder, the polished aluminum fuselage reflected blinding rays of sun into his
eyes. Thankfully he wore a pair of aviator sunglasses.
black asphalt quickly picked up California heat, transferring invisible waves
of it to his lightweight flight coveralls. The young lieutenant wiped small
beads of perspiration from his forehead. Lt. Steeves’ destination that day was
Craig A.F.B. in Selma, Alabama. He’d recently been transferred there.
Firing up the Lockheed T-33’s powerful jet engine and going through a series of preflight procedures, Steeves slowly but methodically applied throttle before quickly leaving runway behind. He hated saying goodbye to San Francisco, yet his beautiful wife Rita and daughter Leisa eagerly awaited him in Selma; 2300 miles away.
38,000 feet Steeves leveled off then pointed the nose of his bird southeast
towards Arizona. Luke A.F.B. in Phoenix was one of several planned refueling
stops. Unfortunately he never made it. The last communication with Lt. Steeves was
with a Fresno, California air traffic controller. That was 12:20 p.m.
didn’t arrive in Arizona rescue operations began. Searchers initially began
looking in a straight line from Oakland to Phoenix. Bulletins were issued via
radio including newspaper.
spotted in mountains near Topock, Arizona was thought to be his plane. Further
investigation showed it to be the crash site of a WWII B-25 bomber.
After several weeks of looking high and low, military investigators believed Lt. Steeves might have gone down in the rugged Sierra Mountains. Since there’d been recent snowfall in the higher elevations, search organizers thought snow and ice could’ve covered all traces of a possible crash.
Near the 2 month mark after Steeves’ disappearance a preliminary
death certificate was issued. Copies were sent to his wife including parents
who lived in Connecticut. After many search hours the Air Force declared Lt.
David Reeves dead.
Thirteen days later the family was in for a shock of their lives. A bearded and gaunt Lt. Steeves was found by 2 horseback campers in the depths of Kings Canyon National Park. Fifty four days had passed since his disappearance. He’d lost 80 pounds. The story Steeves told was amazing. He believed his survival lay entirely in his faith in God, physical conditioning, and survival training.
“I was 3 years old at that time. Dad had just moved our family to Jones Trailer Park in Selma from George A.F.B. in California. My father, much like Lt. Steeves, had a new duty station at Craig. I was too young to recall Steeves’ dilemma, but my father oftentimes mentioned it in conversations with his military friends. Much of the following story comes from archived newspaper accounts.”
The trip began with no problems. Lt. Steeves engaged his autopilot and tried to relax while enjoying the scenery. Somewhere early in the flight an explosion rocked his aircraft. Lt. Steeves blacked out for a short time. When he came to he saw the plane was out of control. He immediately pushed an ejection button. The Plexiglas canopy blew away at the same time his ejection seat rocketed from the cockpit.
Floating down by nylon parachute, the distraught pilot saw nothing but rock and snow covered ground below. Landing fast and hard on frozen ground he sustained severe damage to both ankles. Unable to walk, Steeves sat for several minutes taking in the surroundings. Eventually he started crawling along the ground in search of safe haven.
During frigid nights Lt. Steeves used his thin parachute to stay warm. A freezing snow storm came through on one occasion. He sought refuge in a snow cave. The going was more than tough. After 15 days of torturous travel consisting of slipping and sliding across jagged rock, he happened upon an old cabin. He’d just painfully traveled 20 miles in terrain that experienced mountaineers avoided.
Having nothing to eat for 15 days made him extremely weak.
Steeves was able to find water in puddles of melting snow. That prevented his
body from incurring deadly dehydration. It took all the strength he could
muster to break into the small building.
Inside the dwelling a box with canned hash, beans, tomatoes,
and some sugar sat on a shelf. On the floor lay a rusty fish hook with a short
piece of nylon line still attached. The first can of food helped him to
somewhat regain lost strength. Using good judgment he decided to ration what
Thankfully in his coveralls pocket were 2 books of partially used matches. Discovering some left behind packing materials he made a bed out of it. The exhausted pilot slept for almost 2 days straight. Upon waking he knew he had to find more food. Lt. Steeves was able to use the salvaged fish hook to catch trout. Grubs were used for bait. A small deer was shot with his service revolver. Lt. Steeves said mountain lions took most of the venison before he could harvest it. A harmless garter snake slithered by and he grabbed it without hesitation.
Topographic maps in the shed showed he was almost dead center in the Sierra’s. It was a place called Simpson Meadow. To get out was going to be a chore, especially for someone having bum ankles. Several days passed before the lieutenant attempted a hike to freedom. Cold rapid waters of the Kings River prevented such. He lost several articles of clothing during the attempt and almost drowned.
Taking a needed break he waited a few days before trying again, this time choosing a different route. As he stumbled along a deer trail, local guide Albert Ade and his client Dr. Howard Charles came into view. They were in the area looking for a place to camp. Lt. Steeves was elated in seeing them. He told the men,
“Its good finally having someone to talk to!”
Dr. Howard stayed behind allowing Ade and the downed pilot to ride packhorses to the nearest ranger station. Word quickly spread on Steeves’ rescue. The lieutenant became an instant celebrity. He appeared on the Art Linkletter and Arthur Godfrey shows, including doing several television and radio interviews.
Photos of him reunited with wife and daughter were splashed across the front page of newspapers throughout the country. Along with all the hoopla, doubt and innuendos began to follow. No wreckage from the plane had been found. Because of a couple of inconsistencies in his story, some writers began calling it a hoax. The hoax word picked up speed.
Some conspiracy types believed he’d sold the low tech jet to the Russians. Others claimed it went to Mexico; shipped there part by part. It was even mentioned that the lieutenant had been planted in the wilds after disposing of his plane. Conspiracy theories ran rampant.
Besides having demoralizing things whispered behind his back, tension in the lieutenant’s marriage began to mount. The Saturday Evening Post backed out of their agreement to do a story on him because of unstated reasons. After a lengthy investigation where he was checked for physical and mental aptitude, Lt. Steeves was cleared for duty.
He returned to Craig in September as a hero of sorts yet with
some co-workers still having doubts. In the accident report there were 3
possible reasons for what happened. One of them referred to the accident as a
possible ‘hoax’. The hurtful word had reared its ugly head once again.
Perhaps his biggest backer during these trying times was
Craig A.F.B. Commander Colonel Leo F. Dusard. Colonel Dusard said he had no
reason not to believe Lt. Steeve’s story. He had full faith in his ability to
perform. Lt. Steeves’ tenure at Craig was brief though. In spite of Col.
Dusard’s support, Steeves asked to be released from active duty and was granted
After him and Rita split, David Reeves remarried and moved to Fresno, California. He started a small aviation charter company there, working on plans for a plane capable of landing during an emergency via parachute. David Steeves often flew over the area where he bailed out. It was only 60 miles from his home in Fresno.
He valiantly searched for the missing T-33 in an attempt to clear his name. He endured long hikes throughout the Sierra’s doing the same. The hoax monkey was firmly planted on his back and he couldn’t seem to shake it.
In 1977 a group of Boy Scouts hiking at the 12,000 foot area
of Kings Camp National Park came across the Plexiglas canopy of an airplane.
Writing down the serial number (52-9232A) which was etched on the aluminum
canopy frame, they gave it to a park ranger. It took almost a year before the
Air Force confirmed the canopy was from Lt. Steeves’ jet. What he’d been
telling people all those years was proven. He was finally exonerated of any
hoax or wrongdoing.
Unfortunately Lt. David Steeves was not around to hear the
good news. Twelve years earlier on October 16, 1965, while testing a small
cargo airplane in Idaho, the plane crashed while landing. Steeves along with
another man were killed.
Note: At this time no additional wreckage of Lt. Steeves’ plane has ever been found. That makes a total of 3 military aircraft still unaccounted for in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. During the past 50 years, over 2,000 aircraft have crashed there. The area is known as the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of the west.
early 1970’s commercial came out featuring a kid named Mikey, guys and gals throughout the country named Mike became
the butt of countless jokes.
advertisement, two brothers contemplate whether to eat a bowl of Life brand cereal after being told it’s
good for them. Both siblings are hesitant. They decide to let younger brother
Mikey try it first. The next thing heard is total excitement,
“He likes it! He likes it!”
moment on the infamous 7 words were heard everywhere,
“Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat
When I was
growing up that statement was true. My father expected my brother and me to eat
anything and everything on our plate. We’d best heed dad’s rule or else.
one food item that never made it down no matter how hard I tried. Liver would only
partially enter before escaping through the door it entered. No amount of
ketchup or gravy would help. My father was very persistent that I keep trying
until mom finally stepped in. These days if you offer me liver I’ll pass. Give
it to someone with an iron stomach.
early years, there hasn’t been much I’ve refused to eat. On the flip side, many
food items that I crave have been deemed unhealthy.
Eating too many eggs was considered a cholesterol risk. I was okay with that and didn’t give it a second thought. Soon afterwards bacon was considered taboo. The grease in bacon was labeled as artery clogging. Next on the list was whole milk. This stuff supposedly caused calcium buildup in arteries. The healthier alternative was 1% moo juice. You might as well drink water.
Since then, red
meat, processed foods, anything made with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, salt,
soda-pop, pastries, white bread, along with many other things have joined the
roster. The list goes on and on.
I sometimes think back to the health advocate and Grape Nuts cereal spokesperson, Euell Gibbons. If there was ever a person personifying healthy lifestyle it was Euell. He believed in the word natural. Young people these days most likely would not know who Euell Gibbons is. Let’s just say he was “the” health nut extraordinaire back then.
In spite of Gibbons’
“nutrition expedition”, the man sadly died of a heart attack at age 64. He
didn’t know what he missed passing up an Egg McMuffin® over a bowl of cold
cereal. Perhaps Gibbons would’ve lived longer had he ate such? Salt does act as
a preservation agent.
For the most
part I attempt to place stuff in my mouth that’s considered healthy. I don’t
get jacked out of shape when I don’t. Brussel sprouts and spinach aren’t going
to make me live forever. Nuts won’t either as Mr. Gibbons proved.
“Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat anything!”
I’ve heard that line a thousand times. Hopefully I’ll hear it a thousand more!
Most of us have something in our past we’d rather keep secret. I say most of us because there are exceptions to the rule.
My mother said there were certain things she’d take to the grave. It wasn’t until after mom died that my wife and I discovered one of them. Her real name was Perry Tallulah Haynes. She dropped Perry like a hot potato. If not for an old birth announcement we would’ve never known. I suppose when I get to ‘the other side’, I’ll be in trouble for spilling the beans!
I’ve kept something under wraps of my own. When my kids were young I didn’t want them hearing the story. Perhaps it would have triggered a similar event in their lives. As Hillary Clinton would say,
“At this point what does it really matter?”
I suppose Hillary would be right in this case.
When I lived in Selma, Alabama our family attended Selmont Baptist Church. This house of worship was fairly close to Craig Air Force Base where dad was stationed. The year was 1959.
In Sunday school it was customary on your birthday to bring a penny for each year of age. I’d just turned five. Mom gave me a bright shiny nickel to use as a birthday tithe. A nickel would buy a kid lots back then.
Sitting in class the nickel was burning a hole in my pocket. It was also speaking to me in a most convincing manner,
“Hey Michael, you need a candy bar!”
The plan to voluntarily give up my money got harder and harder with each passing second. After 2 minutes I couldn’t stand the thought. Faking a trip to the restroom, I kept on walking.
Calculating that R&R Grocery on Highway 80 was a short distance away, I set off in pursuit of the noted candy oasis. Trouble is I headed the wrong direction. Getting lost is something I’m skilled at. I can’t tell you exactly how long I walked, but it must’ve been an hour or more.
When an older couple from our congregation rolled up in a cloud of dust I knew I was in trouble. They told me countless people were beating the bushes fearing the worst. My rescuers drove me back to Selmont.
Outside, standing in the parking lot, pastor and other members were praying for my safety. For several short minutes I was hugged and congratulated as being a hero; at least that’s how I viewed it. Things quickly deteriorated on the way home.
I received a tongue lashing next to none and then the proverbial spanking. It must not have been terribly harsh because I survived. Undoubtedly to this day, ministers all over creation use my escape from Selmont Baptist to demonstrate what robbing God of tithes will achieve.
Yes, I learned a valuable lesson that day. It seems each time I hear a sermon on tithing, that blotched attempt at escape comes to mind.
One thing still has me scratching my head. It’s hard to fathom candy bars only costing a nickel back then!