Goodbye, “Brown Bess”?

“If I can’t find a buyer, I’ll hang on to it until death do us part.”

“Bunker Hill” by Howard Pyle showing British “Redcoats” lined up with Brown Bess muskets.

* The following story if you can call it that, was composed strictly so that the history of the musket mentioned within is never lost. A copy of this manuscript will be attached to the weapon.

As a small boy I dreamed of one day owning aBrown Bessmusket. I’d read of the legendary gun in stories regarding George Washington, The Revolutionary War, and Daniel Boone. Wikipedia offers a simplistic explanation of what a Brown Bess is:

“Brown Bess” is a nickname of uncertain origin for the British Army’s muzzle-loading smooth bore flintlock Land Pattern Musket and its derivatives. This musket was used in the era of the expansion of the British Empire, in battles during the American Revolution, and acquired symbolic importance at least as significant as its physical importance.

It’s believed that Brown Bess is slang for, Queen Elizabeth I, although there’s no definite proof of such. Once again, Wikipedia provides a plausible explanation:

Brown” came from an anti-rusting agent put on the metal that turned it a brown color. “Bess” came from either the word “Blunderbuss” or “arquebus,” both early types of rifles. “Bess” came from the nickname for Elizabeth I. The “Brown Bess” is just a counterpart to an earlier rifle that was called “Brown Bill.”

I’ve never heard of a “Brown Bill.” There’s something about this name that doesn’t turn me on historically speaking. It sounds more like a nickname for some fellow that easily tans. I know a Bill just like that. Every time he goes to Hawaii, he returns a deep golden brown much like the sugar.

To me, a Brown Bess musket is a symbol of this country’s heritage and freedom. A good many of these guns were captured from the British by Continental Army forces, and used against them during the American Revolution.

1777 Brown Bess musket

A Brown Bess that I’m in possession of is a Type 3 India Pattern version. It was purchased from the late gun expert, Norm Flayderman. The limited story behind this musket isn’t glamorous or especially noteworthy, yet does contain a touch of humor.

According to Norm, an Army officer brought it back to the U.S. sometime after WWII ended from London. The firearm was in sad shape with surface rust after years of neglect.. This military man took it upon himself to fully clean and restore the weapon back to firing condition. In doing so he might’ve destroyed some collector value, but on the other hand maybe not.

The former owner lightly inscribed his social security number on a portion of the brass trigger guard evidently for security reasons. When I show this to people they shake their heads. I personally find it adds uniqueness to the Brown Bess’s over 200-year-old history. I have to chuckle as the man’s intentions were good. Military types are taught that a gun should always be spotless and in proper working condition.

Some original markings were brought back to life in the restoration. Most noteworthy is a somewhat hard to see number 65 on the barrel. This designates it was used by the 65th British Regiment. The renown 65th regiment saw duty at Bunker Hill during the beginning of the American Revolution. This makes the musket exceedingly rare.

Sometime in its life the gun became property of the fledgling United States army, as two distinctive US surcharge markings are visible. When weapons were confiscated from the British this US mark was stamped on either wood stock or metal components. I assume the musket was ultimately recaptured by the British and that’s how it found it’s way back to England.

The following information on Type 3 Brown Bess muskets came to light during my research:

“Noted historian and collector Dale Anderson states that the Smithsonian Institute is now certain that Third models like this one appeared about 1777, and that the National Park Service has a complete Third model confiscated from the British at Yorktown.There is also some evidence to show that captured Third models might have been stored in Federal armories after the war. It’s known that simplified India pattern type furniture was used on privately made British firearms before and during the Revolution.”

The Third Model Brown Bess may therefore have served, to a degree in the 1777-1784 conflict but most certainly they did in the War of 1812 when the British burned the White House. However, its most famous success was as the British Line Musket that defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

I’ve had my Brown Bess for over 30 years. It was a significant purchase and only through an understanding wife was I able to procure it. Early on she knew that I had a list of certain old things that I wished to acquire, and this was one of them. That list is pretty much complete. It included a walking beam spinning wheel, Victorian era bed warming pan, 1799 silver dollar, U.S. Calvary token, and a Civil War rifle or pistol.

Time has arrived that I deem it wise to say goodbye to “Brown Bess”. The problem being, there do not seem to be that many folks interested in old muskets. Young people these days are more interested in electronics, including my own children and grandchildren. The value of a Brown Bess musket has drastically declined these past 20 years. What will it be like in another 20? Thankfully, I never purchased guns as an investment.

If I don’t find a buyer, I’ll hang on to it until death do us part. At that point one of the kids will have to deal with getting rid of the relic. More than likely they’ll be able to trade it straight across, along with several thousand dollars, for an original plastic Apple iPhone 1.

Come to think of it, in another twenty years, iPhone 1’s will be considered antiques if they aren’t already!

Apple founder Steve Jobs holding an iPhone 1

They Talk – I Listen

“Each time I handle this artifact I sense an aura of death.”

In this Battle of Williamsburg rendition, the soldier in lower middle of sketch holds what appears to be a Springfield Model 1861 rifle. The unfortunate man’s been struck by shrapnel from an exploding cannonball and knocked backwards. This artwork was created by a Union soldier who actually observed the battle.

I’ve been an antique aficionado going way back. Mom said as a child I drove her and my grandparents crazy asking questions about this and that. I wanted to know anything and everything there was to know about “old things”. I believe all surviving relics have a story to tell. Unfortunately, not all of their stories are accurately told.

I recently came in possession of a Bristol kerosene lamp. It’s beautiful and has nary a blemish. The person I purchased it from said it’d been in his family for over 130 years. There was no one left to pass it down to so he regretfully sold it to me. Holding this jewel in my hand, I sensed that in the beginning, going back to 1890, the lamp was a most cherished item by its initial owner.

Other family members had painstakingly became caretakers of it from generation to generation. The antique talked to me in an unspoken way, whispering that I also needed to give it special love and attention.

A flint hide-scraping-tool discovered in Kansas has significant meaning. It lay untouched many years until I picked it up alongside a dirt farm road. The Indian losing it probably felt as bad as we do after misplacing a wallet or phone. He had to painstakingly chisel out another one before skinning his next buffalo. Holding this artifact in my palm, I realize that 150-years-ago some warrior’s hardened hands held the same.

Papa Haynes had a double-barrel shotgun hanging on a store wall. Papa’s firearm kindled my interest in antique weapons and related accessories. Vintage long arms and pistols talk to me the most. I don’t mean they speak in a vocal fashion. It’s more of a sensual, braille like dialogue. Shouldering an old Sharps or Winchester rifle allows my mind to wander back in time; the same with holding a western era Colt revolver. For the most part all antiques have something to say. You just have to take time and listen.

Perhaps the one item I stumbled across that speaks to me loudest is an 1861 Springfield Civil War musket. Spotting it in an antique shop, I traded a pristine condition Model 1816 Springfield musket for the treasure. My 1816 musket was in far better condition with a clear cartouche on the stock. A cartouche is a branded section in the wood identifying the person inspecting the gun. This pristine musket evidently spent its early years in some government arsenal never seeing action. Because of this pampered life it didn’t have anything exciting to say.

The 1861 Springfield incurred a much harsher life. It was excavated at the site of The Battle of Williamsburg in Virginia. An old hand written tag attached with yellowed string reads as follows:

This “Civil War Musket” was unearthed in 1872 – 10 years after the battle at Williamsburg, VA.

The bayonet is rusted solid to the barrel and it can be noted that shrapnel tore into it and the hammer and lockplate.

From the D.C. Beck collection.

An imposing weapon at 74″ long with bayonet.

Several times I’ve looked down the barrel using a bore scope. It appears a mini ball is still wedged inside. I believe the soldier most likely was on the move, charging forward with gun to hip.

The only way shrapnel could’ve struck the barrel in that location, was if the Springfield was perpendicular to the soldier’s body. If that were the case he too would’ve inflicted serious wounds from the explosion. Each time I handle this artifact, I sense an aura of death. It’s easy to visualize the broken weapon lying on blood stained ground, with the unfortunate infantryman near by along with others; Confederate and Union. Hand to hand combat was common during this horrific melee.

Note the indention in metal barrel just under USA flag to the left. It took a terrific explosion to leave that mark in hardened steel.

There were 3,965 Union and Confederate soldiers killed during The Battle of Williamsburg. Ironically, a pencil drawing of the battle created by a soldier having fought there, portrays an infantryman being blown backwards when a Confederate shell explodes in front of him. It appears the man’s carrying a Springfield Model 1861.

My relic once belonged to famous artist Otto Walter Beck. Walter was a Civil War historian known for his renditions of surviving war veterans. He painted many Biblical pieces of art as well. Walter and his wife Marion created the Innisfree Garden in Millport, New York. This magnificent garden is still blooming and open to the public.

Walter Beck’s excavated Springfield, along with tintype and daguerreotype photos procured from war survivors were part of his Washington D.C. Civil War display during the early 1900’s. Some of Beck’s military paintings still reside within the Smithsonian.

Article on Walter Beck from the December 14, 1913, “The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

One of the more interesting guns that talked to me took some doing before it’d say anything. Alaska resident, Larry Boyd, discovered the rusted and rotting section of a Winchester lying under floorboards of a decaying miner’s cabin near Dawson City, Yukon Territory (Canada).

Larry gave the relic to my friend Jeff Thimsen. Somehow I ended up with it. Jeff believes the area where it was found is actually more near the ghost town of Forty Mile, Y.T. A serial number on the lower receiver should tell a person exactly where it was sold. This is available by sending that number to the Bill Cody Museum. Unfortunately, only a portion of the number on my artifact was visible. The unseen number was totally obliterated with rust.

Good friend, Tom Doupe, offered to help me uncover the missing link. A pal of Tom’s worked at the Alaska State Troopers Crime Lab in Anchorage. Using special techniques developed by the FBI, this professional offered the use of such to try and recover my missing number.

The process works like this. Whenever a piece of metal is struck with a number or alphabet die, the molecular alignment of material underneath the impression is also changed. Using muratic acid to remove the initial layer of rust, he then lightly touched the spot with a file. A high strength magnifying glass allowed him to make out the missing 7. He then photographed it with with a camera.

The completed serial number showed it was an 1885 Winchester – 22 short caliber – “low wall” rifle. This gun was sold in Seattle in 1896. That year was the start of the Alaska Gold Rush. Miners boarded ships in Seattle during that time for the long voyage north.

A 22 short in Alaska is a relatively worthless bullet. It’d be good for shooting small birds or ptarmigan and only those at close range. The barrel on this particular rifle unscrews from the receiver. It can be converted to a larger caliber simply by switching barrels. I believe the owner may have had that in mind. Perhaps if Larry Boyd had searched further the barrel would’ve been found?

After Gold was discovered at Forty Mile, a larger strike was made near Dawson City. Virtually overnight, the town became deserted, with miners quickly scurrying up the Yukon River to stake their claims . One thing this gun did tell me was that the owner wasn’t struck by a cannonball. It didn’t tell me was what happened to the fellow?

My hunch is a young miner placed the Winchester under floorboards of his log cabin with intents on coming back for it. I like to think he hit it big in Dawson City. At that point, the gun became yet another rusty reminder of year’s gone by.

Not all weapons found in the ground have graphic or interesting stories tell. An 1851 Colt Navy pistol I purchased from renown antique firearms expert, Norm Flayderman, was discovered in an area of Texas where no recorded Civil War battles were fought, nor skirmishes with Indian warriors. The weapon lay under soil for some time because all wood was gone as well as the thin steel trigger. A portion of the brass trigger guard was pushed in as if it struck something hard. I asked Norm what he thought happened.

“It’s something all of us do from time to time. It’s called the dropsies.”

He finished his statement by saying some cowboy must’ve been riding through the area and his Colt accidentally fell out of its holster. It lay undiscovered for over 100 years before someone found it.

It’s really no different than dropping a set of keys from your pocket. Because this surviving relic had little to say I quickly passed it on to another collector. There’s no telling if the new owner put a more climatic spin on his tale when he showed it to pals.

That’s what happens to so many such artifacts. Without credible provenance, their story grows bigger and larger with time!

Lower section of an 1885 Winchester “low wall” rifle found in a crumbling miner’s cabin.

GRANDMA’S REFRIGERATOR

“The only refrigerator with fast freezing Sanalloy Froster and Eject-o-Cube Ice Trays.”

Refrigerator similar to the one my Grandma Hankins owned. File photo.

The other evening my wife mentioned that she’d never own another stainless-steel refrigerator. That was strange for her to say because Joleen picked it out for our Lake Havasu City home several years ago. I’ve never cared for the brushed stainless look. It reminds me of an extinct DeLorean automobile.

The no-longer-made Delorean’s have a stainless steel exterior much like our fridge. These peculiar looking vehicles never turned my crank. Car guys will know what I’m talking about here.

A DeLorean featured in the movie, “Back to the Future”, was converted into a time machine. I found this portion of the film cool, although I believe an early Dodge Charger would’ve worked much better because of its sleeker lines. Forgive me as I’m straying off the story line.

Professor and Marty’s DeLorean “Time Machine”

Grandpa and Grandma Hankins had a small white refrigerator in their 1920’s manufactured rental home in Vernon, Alabama. How do I remember it as being white? I don’t. That was pretty much the standard color back then.

Grandma’s refrigerator was rounded at the top with a chrome pull-lever on the door for opening. I’m not sure of the exact manufacturer as I last saw it 60-years ago. I’d guess it was a Westinghouse, because that’s the brand my parents preferred.

A 1936 ad I stumbled across in a Stockton, California newspaper, mentioned early Westinghouse refrigerators offering something that other refrigerators didn’t. The advertisement described this device in what I suppose was high-tech language for those days. It read:

“The only refrigerator with fast freezing Sanalloy Froster and Eject-o-Cube Ice Trays.”

These fancy Eject-o-Cube trays had a lever on top that you pulled upwards to remove the ice. Grandma’s had this feature for sure. I’m sure her damp fingers stuck to the metal handle quite often. I read this was quite common until plastic trays came along.

Eject-o-Cube in action

What I remember most about Grandma Hankins’ fridge was that it never had an abundance of food inside. My grandparents were not wealthy people. When we came to visit, dad and mom always made sure to stop beforehand and pick up groceries. That memory hangs with me more than anything. Regardless of such, our visits were always fun.

Grandma’s refrigerator had a tiny freezer section in the very top. Inside of it were the aluminum ice trays mentioned earlier. There wasn’t room for much else. Grandma would take one of the trays and remove the cube dividers. She’d mix up a glass of milk, sugar, and vanilla extract, and then pour it in.

After coming close to freezing, this mixture became an ice-milk-pudding of sorts. It never froze solid. I believe alcohol in the vanilla extract had something to do with it. Grandma referred to this delicacy as ice milk. It was her special treat for my brother Jim and me.

During our near 43-years of marriage, Joleen and I have owned tan, black, and mustard-yellow refrigerators. I believe the ugly yellow one was given to us by someone that didn’t appreciate the Heinz look. At that time we were young and struggling financially; so who’s to look a gift horse in the mouth. That last line basically means don’t complain about something if it’s given to you.

I asked Joleen the other night what color refrigerator did she want next?

White.”, was her reply.

That’ll be okay with me. In one aspect it’ll be similar to Grandma’s. I recently saw where companies are now making retro Eject-o-Matic aluminum ice cube trays. We’ll definitely have to get a couple.

When the grandchildren stop by, I’ll mix up some of that ice milk concoction that Grandma Hankins made, although it won’t be quite the same with her not in the kitchen. It’s sad I can’t strap the kids into a time machine and fly them back to 1962. That would be like adding a cup of sprinkles to their pudding!

"The only refrigerator with fast-freezing Sanalloy Froster and Eject-o-Cube Ice Trays."

The Book of John

“Hang on to this as it will prove invaluable down the road!”

John Ballard

When my wife, Joleen, and I had a house built in 2004, Lake Havasu City resident John Ballard was hired to oversee the construction of it. We were in Alaska at that time. John was an expert in all phases of home development. Sometime during our hassle-free working relationship, we became very good friends.

Because of John’s vast expertise, several times he caught sub-contractors trying to cut corners and not follow building code. A few didn’t like it when he made them correct their mistakes. One burly framing contractor in particular challenged John’s suggestion to use hurricane straps on our garage.

Hurricane straps are metal strips used to connect roof trusses to wall top-plates. They help the roof stay in place during high winds. When John pulled out a copy of the local building code showing they needed to be there, the guy grumbled having no choice but to add them.

Another time he discovered the builder was not planning on installing LP Tech Shield® in our walls and roof. Tech Shield is a condensed-foam temperature barrier that’s quite costly to add. When John pulled out a copy of our contract showing it was part of the package, the man quickly changed his tune.

Something that John Ballard told me regarding workmanship stuck in my mind. He mentioned that he could tell the quality of a retaining wall before it was ever built. His comment made me curious enough to ask.

“How’s that?”

“I drive by a work site where a block wall’s about to be built and look at the amount of steel rebar that’s been dropped off. Pallets of concrete blocks sitting around without bundles of steel rebar is a sure sign of cost-cutting. There’s a wall in your neighborhood constructed that way.”

He pointed to a vacant lot just up the street with a gray concrete block wall. Several years after he said this, a large gust of wind blew the ill-designed structure over. John was right on the money in his analysis.

Over a 12-month period, John compiled a book of photos of our project from start to finish. It’s nearly four-inches thick with at least 1000 photographs. Joleen calls it “John’s Book”. I candidly refer to it as, “The Book of John”.

My friend once told me as we thumbed through the album,

“Hang on to this as the pictures will prove invaluable down the road!”

He was correct. They’ve done so time and time again when we needed to see what lay behind sheet rock, or under the ground, before updated home modifications were made. Little did I know the album would come in handy on a new house project.

The whole construction process was meticulously documented

The first thing needed on our latest endeavor is construction of a retaining wall. I instantly turned to John’s book for information. Color photos taken by him in 2004, show plain as day, that our old wall has plenty of steel in the footings. The images specifically identify how the rebar was to be bent and tied together with wire. Showing our masonry contractor these photographs, I informed him it needed to look like this. The man nodded his head in approval.

Unfortunately, John is no longer with us. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 79 from mesothelioma. Having this book at my side makes me feel as if he’s still around overseeing yet another job.

John told me that should we ever sell our Lake Havasu City home, we should leave the book behind to help new owners. John Ballard was always looking out for other people whether he knew them or not.

I’ll follow through on his suggestion, yet won’t give the original away. That one goes with Joleen and me to our new place. I’ll have a duplicate made instead.

John was very meticulous and organized in everything he did. As I mentioned throughout this story, he did so with the construction of our home. I plan on emulating him as close as I possibly can with this latest dwelling. Through John’s teachings, I know more on what to look for in the construction of a house than I ever did.

Pity the poor framing contractor that decides to forego hurricane straps. I have the building code printed and ready to go. John Ballard would be proud!

Close to four inches thick with over 1000 photographs.

HAVASU REFUGEES

“Our hopes are that living in a vegetation free canyon at a slightly higher elevation will solve my nagging, yet serious problem.”

“Desperado”
  • This is a slightly revised story from the one titled, “Desperado”.

I never thought we’d leave Lake Havasu City. It’s a beautiful place to live although my wife and I don’t call it home. We always think of our stay as an extra-long-vacation.

For the past seven years, like clockwork, I developed bronchitis during the winter season. Bronchitis is a serious infection for older people because it can lead to pneumonia. Just recently, doctors discovered I’m highly allergic to sage which grows abundantly in the Mohave desert, especially in the Colorado River basin. The weed as I call it blooms and then spreads like wildfire. Pollen from this bush irritates my bronchial tubes, causing inflammation and ultimately a nasty congestion.

During windy days, I wear a bandanna over my face while outside much like cowpokes do to filter out dust. There’s no way I’m going to be seen sporting one of those paper hospital masks. Joleen claims I look like an urban terrorist of sorts. I view it more as a desperado, because I’m extremely desperate to overcome scratchy eyes and a constant dry cough. Folks with allergies know what I’m talking about. If it takes a scarf over my nose and mouth to overcome such – so be it.

One of my physicians suggested I move elsewhere as there’s nothing she can do to make things better. Pills and shots failed miserably. Where would we go? I suggested Alabama, but Joleen is deathly afraid of tornadoes and hurricanes. Alaska is definitely out of the picture. Been there. Done that. We put up with cold and dark Alaskan winters for many years, along with endless rainy days in summer.

Good friends, Jim & Pat Brownfield, suggested we relocate to Prescott, Arizona where they recently purchased a home. We seriously considered it, until I found out the place is crawling with juniper trees. That’s something the medical tests showed I can’t be around. It’s worse than sage.

Last week, we decided to take a drive and discuss the problem. Picking up lunch from FIVE GUYS BURGERS in Kingman, we chose a small canyon near Cerbat Cliffs to eat. The place is beautiful with huge red rock and cliffs much like those viewed in western movies. Joleen and I came to this location approximately 14 years ago by accident. Back then, we thought it would be a killer site to build a house, but there was no property for sale. We elected to live in Lake Havasu City instead.

This trip to the rugged canyon was different. A newly placed sign sitting on a large piece of property at the bottom of a flat-top-mesa advertised the land as being available. It appeared the sign hadn’t been there for long. We called the listed phone number, and after a couple of days of negotiating with owner, Pat Carlin, a deal was made. Joleen believes God led us to this spot for a reason. I tend to agree.

Recently, I mentioned to a friend about our plans to leave Havasu. His initial comment was,

“So you intend on building your dream house?”

That thought never crossed my mind. What I didn’t tell him is that our dream home is already constructed. It’s actually a mansion perched high above the vibrant-blue Arizona sky.

Our new pad in Cerbat Canyon is simply going to be a place to shed our shoes until heading on to higher ground. The dwelling will be small and easy to clean with wide doors just in case. All new houses should be constructed with wheelchair access. Having to add such changes afterwards can be a major undertaking.

Our hopes are that living in a vegetation free canyon at a slightly higher elevation will solve my nagging, yet serious problem. Just driving to Kingman I can tell the difference in my breathing. The cooler Kingman summers will be a relief as well. To put icing on the cake, the home site’s only two miles from Kingman Regional Hospital where Joleen goes for cancer treatments. Our closest grocery store will only be one mile away.

Last weekend we were able to meet our neighbors to be, Scott & Rhonda. The couple are also Lake Havasu City refugees. They’re extremely nice people with much of the same ideology as us. When Scott told me one of his reasons for moving to the canyon, his comment brought a smile to my face.

We came here to get away from allergies!”

It seems Scott had problems with dust and pollen in Havasu much like I do. Since relocating, his problem disappeared. That was great news to hear!

It’ll take at least a year to get the house built. That’ll work perfectly with the time we need to pack our goods, sell the old place, and hit the road. Joleen and I are looking forward to our new adventure in Kingman. I’m especially elated to be leaving all the nasty Havasu dust and pollen behind!

Cerbat Cliffs

Desperado

“This world ain’t my home, I’m just a passing through!”

Cerbat Canyon property

I never thought we’d leave Lake Havasu City. It’s a beautiful place to live although my wife and I don’t call it home. We always think of our stay as an extra-long-vacation.

For the past seven years, like clockwork, I developed bronchitis during the winter season. Bronchitis is a serious infection for older people because it can lead to pneumonia. Just recently, doctors discovered I’m highly allergic to sage which grows abundantly in the Mohave desert, especially in the Colorado River basin. The weed as I call it blooms and then spreads like wildfire. Pollen from this bush irritates my bronchial tubes, causing inflammation and ultimately a nasty congestion.

During windy days, I wear a bandanna over my face while outside much like cowpokes do to filter out dust. There’s no way I’m going to be seen sporting one of those paper hospital masks. Joleen claims I look like an urban terrorist of sorts. I view it more as a desperado, because I’m extremely desperate to overcome scratchy eyes and a constant dry cough. Folks with allergies know what I’m talking about. If it takes a scarf over my nose and mouth to overcome such – so be it.

My physician suggested we move elsewhere as there’s nothing she can do to make things better. Pills and shots failed miserably. Where would we go? I suggested Alabama, but Joleen is deathly afraid of tornadoes and hurricanes. Alaska is definitely out of the picture. Been there. Done that. We put up with cold and dark Alaskan winters for many years, along with endless gray rainy days in summer.

Good friends, Jim & Pat Brownfield, suggested we relocate to Prescott, Arizona where they recently purchased a home. We seriously considered it, until I found the place is crawling with juniper trees. That’s something the medical tests showed I can’t be around. It’s worse than sage.

Last week, we decided to take a drive and discuss the problem. Picking up lunch from FIVE GUYS BURGERS in Kingman, we chose a small canyon near Cerbat Cliffs to eat. The place is beautiful with huge red rock and cliffs much like those viewed in western movies. Joleen and I came to this location approximately 14 years ago by accident. Back then, we thought it would be a killer site to build a house, but there was no property for sale. We elected to live in Lake Havasu City instead.

This trip to the rugged canyon was different. A newly placed sign sitting on a large piece of property at the bottom of a flat-top-mesa advertised the land as being available. It appeared the sign hadn’t been there for long. We called the listed phone number, and after a couple of days of negotiating with owner, Pat Carlin, a deal was made. Joleen believes God led us to this spot for a reason. I tend to agree.

Recently, I mentioned to a friend about our plans to leave Havasu. His initial comment was,

“So you intend on building your dream house?”

That thought never crossed my mind. What I didn’t tell him is that our dream home is already constructed. It’s actually a mansion perched high above the vibrant-blue Arizona sky. I also didn’t mention that this world ain’t my home, I’m just a passing through. All of us are for that matter.

Our new pad in Cerbat Canyon is simply going to be a place to shed our shoes until heading on to higher ground. The dwelling will be small and easy to clean with wide doors just in case. All new houses should be constructed with wheelchair access. Having to add such afterwards can be a major undertaking.

Our hopes are that living in a vegetation free canyon at a slightly higher elevation will solve my nagging, yet serious problem. To put icing on the cake, the home site’s only two miles from the hospital where Joleen goes for cancer treatments. The closest grocery store is one mile east of us.

Last weekend we were able to meet our neighbors to be, Scott & Rhonda Johnson. The couple are also Lake Havasu City refugees. They’re very nice people with much of the same ideology as us. When Scott told me his main reason for moving to the canyon, the comment brought a smile to my face.

We came here to get away from allergies!”

It seems Scott had problems with dust and pollen in Havasu much like I do. Since relocating, his problem disappeared. That was great news to hear!

It’ll take at least a year to get the house built along with a shop. That’ll work perfectly with the time we need to pack our goods, sell the old place, and hit the road. Joleen and I are looking forward to our new adventure. I’m especially elated to be leaving all the nasty dust and pollen behind!

Urban terrorist?

Armchair Quarterback

After getting pushed around almost every day, my mother took me aside and said I had the right to defend myself.

December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

A neighbor told me the other day that the United States shouldn’t have assassinated Iranian General Qassem Solemani.

“Why not?”, I asked.

Solemani never did anything to us. Trump’s trying to start WWIII!

It was this man’s personal opinion. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. My neighbor evidently didn’t know about American blood on Solemani’s hands. Logic dictates the general was thirsty for more. I truly wonder how this fellow came to the WWIII conclusion? He continued to ramble on about the evils of President Trump. The fellow offered no real solutions to the Iranian terrorism problem. I quickly labeled him an Armchair Quarterback. I’ve been called the same.

Not one to argue politics or religion, I decided to avoid verbal conflict by remaining silent. Where did this fellow get his information. Does he have a direct line to the Central Intelligence Agency? Is there someone at the Pentagon supplying him with pertinent data, showing that the renown Islamic terrorist was not out to further hurt America? There are professionals within our government and military that have the answers. It’s doubtful that highly-secret military intelligence was at my neighbor’s disposal.

I’d say he based his opinion entirely on what he read in the newspaper or watched on television. It seems many people make this mistake, including me. Do newspaper reporters and television analysts know more than military experts? We know the answer to that, or at least most of us do.

Oftentimes, reporters shoot from the hip. In certain type stories they take secondhand or third party information and feed it to the public as fact. Where classified military info is concerned they do such all the time. Some news agencies are now denouncing the killing as unnecessary. Instead of factually reporting, they’re handing out biased innuendo. That’s totally unprofessional but these people don’t seem to care.

During the 1960’s, newspapers and television reporters had the Russians bombing us with nukes regarding the ‘Bay of Pigs’ incident in Cuba. At schools across the country, drills were practiced where kids, including teachers, were instructed to crawl under desks when attacked. As a ten-year-old, I wondered what good would that do? I couldn’t fit under mine. Most likely I’d die because of my size.

History now shows that the media was wrong. There were people back then convinced that President Kennedy and Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev had us on the brink of WWIII. Some Americans went so far as to build bomb shelters in their back yards. Many folks were acting and saying things out of fear. It seems history has repeated itself.

In my own life, I learned early on that the best defense is to have a good offense. In 1965, I was transferred to an all Hispanic school in San Antonio, Texas along with a few other military kids. It was rough going at the start!

We were the only white students at Salado Elementary. After getting bullied and pushed around almost every day, my mother took me aside and said I had the right to defend myself. A metal lunch box became my equalizer. I only used it one time to take out the biggest troublemaker. After that I wasn’t bothered again. Sometimes drastic measures are needed to keep the peace. That was proven at Salado as well as during WWII.

By 1939, Japan had built up its military in preparation of going to war with the United States. Intelligence sources showed that Emperor Hirohito and Admiral Yamamoto intended to hit this country sometime in the near future. That tragic day came on December 7, 1941. We had the resources to take out the crafty admiral beforehand but didn’t.

WWII ended nearly four years later after we dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Perhaps WWII could’ve been averted and many lives saved had President Roosevelt exterminated Yamamoto prior to 1941? At this point we’ll never know.

I believe the killing of General Solemani makes the threat of war with Iran less likely. Some will agree. Others will disagree. It’s highly possible that WWIII was avoided by taking out the Iranian military leader. Having no high-level intelligence to go by, I use my 1965 lunchbox incident to solidify this opinion. In my way of seeing things, that’s better reasoning than what mainstream media has to offer!

It’s a good thing armchair quarterbacks aren’t running the country!