Archive for the ‘California experiences’ Category

Recently I promised to tell you the story about what happened to this mailbox:


As  you can see, the door is missing from the left hand box.   Well, my friend was coming home from work the other day and she noticed that it was missing too.   

“Darn kids,” she thought as she pulled into her driveway.  “School hasn’t even been out for two days and already they’re out tearing stuff up.”

As she entered the house, her spouse said, “Hey, let me tell you about the mailbox.”

“Yeah, what’s up with that?”  she replied.   “I noticed it was torn up.”

“Yeah, well, the mailman came down and told me all about it.  It seems that when he came to deliver mail he opened up A’s box and there was a copperhead coiled up in it and it rared up at him.”

“Poor snake.   I can just imagine him lying there, sleeping in a nice warm dark place.   “Hey!  Who turned that damn light on?””

“So anyway,” the storyteller continued, “The mailman sat there and thought about it. Then he unscrewed our mailbox door and used it to beat the snake in the other mail box to death.  He brought the door to our mailbox down to me, and apologized.”

The question still remains, how did the snake get into the mailbox?    

We all figure it got there via someone who doesn’t really like A particularly.   Sadly, there is a fairly long list of people who share that attitude.

Anyway, that’s what happened to the mailbox.


So, a comment on a post a couple of days ago reminded me of something that happened back when I was around four years old.  

At that period of my life, we lived in the San Diego area, and on a regular basis my folks loaded us up and took us down to the beach, usually by Mission Bay where the water was not too rough for little ones.   You also have to understand that by this time in my life, I had already learned to read quite well, and had just spent a considerable amount of time reading and digesting the contents of a book of fairy tales.  My understanding of the differences between fiction and non-fiction was still rather shaky.

One of these stories was entitled “Why the sea is salty.”  It involved a wish of some sort and the upshot was the people in the story wound up with a magical salt cellar that continually ground out salt (I don’t remember why this happened) and they couldn’t get it to stop.  Once it filled up their house, they ended up throwing it into the sea outside their place and according to the story, it is still down there grinding out salt and that is why the sea is salty.

The other thing that had happened near the same time was we had visited my grandfather on his dairy farm, where I saw 25 pound blocks of salt distributed around so the cows could lick them and get the minerals they needed.   They looked a lot like big ice cubes to me.

Let us not inquire into the fertile imagination or the sort or rationalization that went into my next leap of logic, but somehow from all the above I developed a phobia of the ocean water in Mission Bay.   Somehow, I concluded that there were big blocks of salt floating around in the ocean like ice cubes in a drink or something, and that was how it got salty.

It wasn’t long before we were taken to the beach. I refused to go out and actually swim, which upset my mother a great deal since she had just spent considerable time and expense acquiring swimming lessons for me at the YMCA.   So, she inquired as to why I was not enjoying the ocean the way I usually did.   

Whereupon I informed her that it was because of my fear of the blocks of salt that would be floating around in the ocean making it salty.   I was afraid that I would swim into one and hit my head, which would cause me to drown from being knocked out.

“Where on earth did you get such a ridiculous idea?”  was her response to my notion.

I endeavored to explain how I had come to such a conclusion, and after my parents finished laughing at me, I was informed that the sea is salty for other reasons.   And blocks of salt do not float.   And I should get my silly stupid butt out there and enjoy the waters of Mission Bay.

Needless to say, the ridicule and the contempt that I was treated to that day made a big impression on me.   Anyway, this is one of the many reasons why I do not laugh at people who have fears regarding what may be in the water they are swimming in.   

More than likely they are not envisioning big cubes of salt floating around waiting to bash them in the head.

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I was over at Litlove’s blog the other day, reading about bosses she has known.    For some reason, this reminded me of a time in my life lo these many decades ago when I was working as a temporary office worker for one of the premier Temporary  agencies in the Bay Area.

This actually was not a bad way to make a living, especially if you were intelligent and quick on your feet.   I had a facility for memorizing names and numbers, so I became an extremely valuable fill-in receptionist.   For some reason, phone systems and I got along, and I was also able to remember who the boss was and who didn’t want to get every phone call.   I was also learning how to operate word processors  (this was before I developed my deep distrust of electronics).   

I was popular.   Most companies, if they had had me as a temp once would call and ask for me by name if they needed another one, and so I was in high demand.  I had lots of street cred because I was being asked for by name.  The Agency treated us like real employees and after a certain break- in period we even had medical benefits.

But I got tired of the peripatetic life, and yearned for a “Regular Job,”  so I started looking at the want ads.  One day I saw an ad that said “Mad Scientist seeks Girl Friday.”   What could possible go wrong there?   So I called the guy, got directions to his place of business and scheduled an interview.

When I arrived at the place, I was very confused because it was a very nice house in one of the nicer areas of San Rafael.  I was sort of expecting a business park or an office somewhere.   I checked my handbag and made sure that my Mace was in there, and rang the doorbell.

After a few minutes, it was finally answered by an extremely disheveled person.   While his shirt was clean, it hadn’t known the services of an iron since he brought it home from the store.   His hair was badly cut and probably had not been washed in several days.   He was wearing pretty old jeans and bedroom slippers.   He looked very confused by my presence on his doorstep.  After I reminded him of the fact that I had an appointment for a job interview, he ushered me into the house.

We proceeded towards the back of the house past a large sunken living room that was occupied by stacks and stacks of boxes.   He noticed me staring and explained that that was his warehouse for parts.  As we progressed towards the “workshop” area of the place, he explained that he was making computers and testing them, and asked me if I knew anything about them.    

“Not much, although we have had one ever since they came on the market,” I replied.   “I thought you wanted an office assistant?”

“Well, yes, that’s what I’m looking for.”    By this time we had arrived at the back of the house, where there was a family room separated from a kitchen by a breakfast bar.   He offered me something to drink.  I asked for some water.   He started rummaging around the kitchen looking for a container to put it in, which caused me to notice that what appeared to be every dish in the place was stacked in and around the sink.  None of them were clean. He found a coffee cup and washed it out, and handed me my water.   While he was doing that, I looked around.

The family room had built in cabinets around two walls, and these were fully occupied by computers in various states of dismantlement.   The available space was not enough for his purposes, so the third wall had a long shelf set up, which also sported more computers.   There were components, oscilloscopes, meters, miles of all sorts of wires.   Several of the computers were running through some sort of test, long strings of numbers and symbols were flashing on their screens.    One of them chose that time to emit a piercing beep, which caused him to run over to it, hit some keys, and start it going through diagnostics again.   He became fully occupied with the needs of the electronics, and appeared to completely forget my presence until I asked him if he was interested in interviewing me or whether I should come back at another time.

“Oh, oh. . . an interview.”   He moved away from the computers and sat at the breakfast bar.   “So, what do you want to know?”

“Well, for a start, I’d like to know what my duties would be.”

“Well, I need someone for general office duties, to make orders, to answer the phone, to balance the checkbooks.”   About that time, the phone rang.   “I have to take this call, I’m expecting to hear from my bank.”

Sure enough, it was his bank.   I spent the next five minutes listening to his side of a conversation which became more and more heated until finally he hung up in a passion.   I gathered that he was having trouble with his bank because he had made a deposit to one account when he really meant to put money in another account and then started writing checks which then proceeded to bounce.   Since I have done the same darn thing, I could sympathize.   But it didn’t sound like he was communicating well with his financial institution.  

After the phone call, he went on about the banking problem until I finally steered the conversation back to the interview.   Then we talked about what the job would entail for a while, and after a while he took me upstairs to show me where I would be working.   As we went up the stairs, he explained that his wife used to do all the paperwork and that she had left him a while ago.   “Since she left I’ve gotten a little behind on the filing,” he explained.

We entered what used to be the master bedroom suite.   Near the door was a large desk equipped with all the office equipment a Girl Friday could desire.   It was also piled with stacks of paper.   It was adorned with a half eaten bowl of cold cereal which had been there long enough to grow several varieties of mold.   He was embarrassed by the bowl, and swept it up, took it off into the master bathroom to flush the contents.   While he was gone, I stood and looked around in amazement.

The rest of the room was full of filing cabinets.   They encircled the room, and made an island in the middle of it where the bed used to be.   Most of them were two drawer cabinets, but one whole wall was furnished with four drawer ones.    Many of them were so jammed with paper the drawers would no longer close all the way.   Over half of them had cardboard file boxes stacked in front of them that were also full of paper.  There was not a single inch of the top of these file cabinets that was not stacked with invoices, junk mail, catalogs, and other undefinable paper.  

I picked up a pile of invoices that was waiting on the desk for attention.   One of them had a date on it that was four years old.  There were similarly aged bank statements.   No wonder he was having problems with his bank.

“A little behind in the filing?!!” I thought to myself.   I asked him why the cardboard file boxes were there.   I could see that several of them had nothing but catalogs in them.  

“Oh, I ran out of room in the files.  And there’s no more space for cabinets.”   I squatted down and investigated one of the boxes.   It had something like ten years worth of catalogs selling electrical components in it.   

“So, why, when you get a new catalog, do you not throw the old one away?” I asked, curious.   

“Oh, I like to compare the new catalog to the old one, in case the specs have changed or there is a question about pricing.”    

I could see saving maybe two catalogs, but ten years of obsolete ones?   It seemed a little obsessive to me.  “So, if someone was going to clean up these files and get them organized, would it be okay if some of this stuff got thrown away?”

He didn’t actually say no, but it was evident that the idea was extremely uncomfortable for him.   

I began to edge towards the door.    “So what do you think?   I can afford to pay you $7.50 an hour,” he asked rather pathetically.   

“I’ll have to think about it.  I have some other interviews to go to,” I said as I started down the stairs.

He followed me desperately.   “Okay, okay.  I’ll pay you $10 an hour, but I can’t go any higher than that.”

“I’ll call you once I’ve thought about it,” I told him comfortingly, as I exited the building.

Was that Michael Dell or Steve Jobs?   I have no idea.   I do know that I felt that I had escaped with my sanity intact and that it was likely not to stay that way if I agreed to work for him.    

I had grave misgivings about whether my paychecks would bounce, too.

I never called him back.   He never called me, I’m sure he forgot about my existence the minute the door closed behind me.

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Henitsirk tagged for a meme, and so I join the game forthwith.

1. Where/how did you meet?  The short answer is, we met in San Francisco and were introduced by my sister.  But, it is an extremely long story, told at length elsewhere.   A few days after that post, there was additional information offered, part 1 and part 2.  

2. How long have you known each other?   We have known each other since April 1, 1982.  That would be 26 years now.   Almost one half of my life.   How amazing.

3. How long after you met did you start dating?  We never actually “dated” per se.  If you read the long version, you will understand that shortly after we met we moved into an apartment together.   Not long after that event, we became lovers.   Then we became best friends, and finally got married.

4. How long did you date before getting engaged?   We lived together for three years before we got engaged.

5. How long was your engagement?  We decided to make our commitment public during the Memorial day weekend, and set the date for August.   I guess that means we were engaged three months.

6. How long have you been married?  Twenty three years at our next anniversary.

7. What is your anniversary?   August 10.   We chose that date because it was one week before Jim’s folks were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.   Jim’s siblings were planning to travel quite a distance for that party, and we figured that it would be nicer to them if they could attend both events with one trip.

8. How many people came to your wedding reception?  About 35.

9. What kind of cake did you serve?  We had a wonderful carrot cake from Just Desserts.   We ordered it plain, and when I went to pick it up, I let it slip that it was our wedding cake.  The bakers were quite upset that we had not allowed them to decorate it. 

10. Where was your wedding?  We were married under the ash tree that stood next to the fuchsia garden in Jim’s parent’s back yard.

11. What did you serve for the meal?  I just happen to still have the hand written (by me) menu produced for the occasion.   Let me just add here that everything on the menu was cooked by Jim and me, except for the chocolate dipped strawberries, which were made by my best girlfriend Gail.  A funny little story after the event:   We hired a brass quintet from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (where I was going to school) to play at our wedding and dinner.    Since Jim and I did not have a receiving line, we served the lime soup to each guest as a way of greeting them all.   Also, we were muched involved in the serving of the dinner, since we cooked it.   The following Monday, at the Conservatory, one of the trumpet players from the quintet came up to me and said, “That was the best food I have ever had at a wedding.   You know, Ellie, I have played a lot of wedding gigs over the years, but this is the first time I have ever seen the bride waitressing!”


12. How many people were in your bridal party?  The bride and groom, and our two witnesses, his brother and my sister.

13. Are you still friends with them?  Yep.

14. Did your spouse cry during the wedding ceremony?  No he did not, although there was a tear on his cheek as we had our picture taken following the “Big Kiss.”   I, however, was blubbering away during the readings and fearing that I would not be able to speak at all when it came my time to make my vows.   My wonderful mate noticed this, and, noticing an extremely tall (about 5 feet) wild lettuce plant volunteering in the background of the fuchsia garden, leaned down and whispered in my delicate, shell-like ear, “Look at that weed.”   I did, and the humor of it all wiped all tears away like magic.

15. Most special moment of your wedding day?  When he held me in his arms after we had gotten home, drunk champagne, opened our gifts and consummated our marriage, and said, “Now it is legal!”   (In the State of California, your marriage is not considered legal until consummated.   Until then, you can have it annulled.)

16. Any funny moments?  Lots.   The funniest was when Jim’s big brother directed his children to sit out in the hinterlands of the wedding feast.   They were quite upset until they realized that that corner was where Jim and I proposed to sit, since we were busy serving and overseeing the food, and our wedding silver (gift of my parents) was over there.   So not only did they get to sit at the “head table” with us, they got to use our particular sterling silver to eat with.   Their triumph over their father was quite humorous.

17. Any big disasters?  Not a single one.

18. Where did you honeymoon?  No honeymoon.

19. For how long?  I said, no honeymoon.

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?  I would make it possible for Jim’s brother who was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany at the time to be there.

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?  The right side as I face the bed.  That would be on the west.

22. What size is your bed? Queen. 

23. Greatest strength as a couple?  We see each other as partners for life in everything.   We nurture each other.   We each do the work that is necessary at the time, undefined by traditional roles.  We communicate well.

24. Greatest challenge as a couple?  To keep the lines of communication open at all times.

25. Who literally pays the bills? I do.  If it was left up to Jim, we wouldn’t have nearly the sterling credit rating we have now.

26. What is your song?  “Love Will Keep Us Alive” by the Eagles.

27. What did you dance your first dance to?  What?   There was no “first dance” in the traditional sense.  

28. Describe your wedding dress.  How about a picture, it is worth a thousand words.  By the way, I made it myself.  It is 100% silk jacquard, matches the inner color of my eyes perfectly, and I can still wear it.  (Ha!)


29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?  See above photo.  The corsages for the women were the roses.   The men wore leis made of white carnations.  Jim refused a boutonniere because it was not appropriate for his uniform.   The tables at the wedding had long arrangements of mixed spring flowers.

30. Are your wedding bands engraved?  No.   Jim’s got destroyed when he got it caught in the baler and luckily did not have his finger removed during the event.   We have given it to a jeweller friend to repair but she has had it for four years and I haven’t heard from her in a very long time.   I don’t know if we’ll ever get it back.   I almost never wear mine since it interferes with doing massage and I rarely take it off the ring guard to wear it.   When I do wear a ring, I prefer the ring that Jim gave me for Christmas about 8 years ago that has a beautiful triangular emerald set off by three tiny diamonds.   I think that if you need to wear a ring to remind you that you are committed to your life together, you probably don’t have much of a relationship.

So, there you have it.   The wedding meme.   Thanks for tagging me, Henitsirk!  Anyone who reads this, feel free to jump on the bandwagon if you are so moved.

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While Jim and I were living in San Francisco, we fit into the category of DINK couples (Double Income No Kids).   Well, we sort of fit in.   Considering how much money I made, we had more like One-and-Half Incomes.   And while we did not have human children, we definitely had kids.   Their names were Black-eyed Susan and Cio-Cio-San (Madame Butterfly).


They loved each other.   I have numerous pictures of them sleeping together, playing together.  I really like this one where they are bathing together.   It is much easier and more effective to have the other cat wash behind your ears rather than trying to do it yourself by the traditional licking your paw method.


They had certain favorite things, and Jim was one of them.   There was something about the pheromones that he produced that sent them woozy with delight and ectastic love.   Sometimes if he was lying in the living room with his shirt off, Susan would get up there under his armpit:  sniffing, tasting, and tickling him with her whiskers.  Both of them would roll in his t-shirts like they were catnip.   Once Susan got so carried away that she chewed holes in the shirt, much to Jim’s distress.   It was a great motivator to make sure that dirty clothes got into the hamper rather than being left on the floor.

When Jim went overseas, the cats reacted in a way that I had not anticipated.   I knew that I was going to miss him, but I really had not realized how much our animals were going to miss him.   Both cats started looking for him soon after he left.   Pretty soon, they started mourning him.   There was quite a lot of depression, but eventually they perked up a bit.  I wrote to him and told him how much they seemed to miss him.

By the time my birthday came around in June, he had been gone for six months.   I had gone beyond lonely to rather  crazy.   All my friends were very supportive of me, my co-workers were solicitous and at the same time careful.   I tried not to be moody, but quite often I was touchier than an old World War II mine.   Fortunately everybody understood and didn’t take it personally.   Lots of palliative care was administered to me in the form of wine and marijuana, and my girlfriends made sure I got taken out to dinner on a regular basis.

People could tell how long it had been since I got a letter by my mood.   Weeks when I had received flowers were greeted with palpable relief.  I wasn’t expecting anything particularly great for my birthday, since I was miles away from my family.   I was so wrapped up in keeping my act together and getting all my work done that I was oblivious to any undercurrents going on around me.

The gal who usually took care of the switchboard and office at the Conservatory was away that year on a summer long trip around Europe.   I had been asked if I would take over her duties while she was away, and I was happy to have something to occupy me during the long summer days when school was not in session.   In addition to answering the phone, I was responsible for the care and feeding of the copy machines, and sorting and distributing the mail.  

The amazing bouquet that I mentioned in part one of this series arrived in mid-morning.   Counting the roses in the bouquet had occupied me off and on all day.   Several people had brought me little gifts and nice cards, which also uplifted my mood.   I felt very much cared for and not too bereft.   Around four o’clock, someone came to me and told me that they needed me in the Business Office.   I really didn’t think much about it, the person who notified me of the need for my presence away from the switchboard told me that she would look after it while I was gone.   So I walked down the hall, and asked them what they wanted.

“Oh,” I was told.   “Mezbah has something back at her desk for you.”  The Business Office was two offices that had been knocked into one, and so it was “U” shaped.   I followed the pointing fingers and went around the corner to Mezbah’s desk.   “Anne told me you had something for me?”    She indicated that this was true, and began to fumble around under her desk.   It seemed like it was taking her an awful long time to produce what was there, and when she finally did it turned out to be a big box from Jim.  Oh, I was just shaking with excitement as she handed it over.   I thanked her profusely, so excited that the question of why this box was residing in the Business Office when I was the person who sorted the mail did not occur to me.  

Apparently there had been quite a conspiracy going on around my unobservant self, because when I walked back around the corner, the Business Office was jammed to the gills with every person who worked there plus quite a lot of the students who had stuck around for the summer.   In addition there was a cake with candles all lit and I about fell over, thunderstruck with astonishment as they all shouted “Surprise!” 

The President of the Conservatory had an office directly across the hall from the Business Office, and everyone had mustered there.   As I walked in the door and around the corner, the conspirators had silently followed me in, wheeling the cake in on a trolley.   It was an evolution done with such precision it would have made the military proud.

Well, they insisted that I open the box, which apparently had been waiting for me for the better part of a week.   I forgave them for holding out on me, approving their idea that it would be much more fun for me if I got it on my birthday.   Besides, they all wanted to know what was in it.  It contained two kilos of frankincense, an ostrich egg, a wonderful statue of some African goddess carved out of ebony that Jim had bought in Djibouti, and a ziplock bag containing a couple of t-shirts.  

When I opened that bag, it was immediately obvious that these were rather well-used t-shirts, fully ripened from their trip across the Atlantic.   There were several silly jokes made about people sending their laundry home, but I knew who those shirts were really for. 

When I got home, I called the kittens and they came running to greet me.   “Girls, girls!   I have something special for you.   Jim sent you a present!”   I took the shirts out of the bag and gave one to each cat.   At first, they approached with some suspicion.   Then they sniffed and both of them jumped onto those shirts with complete abandon.  Such rolling, such rubbing, such unalloyed joy,  much more than I am accustomed to seeing displayed by normally aloof felines.  

They seemed to be saying “He’s not dead!”   And after that, they were no longer the depressed little cats they had been for several months.  It was as if the t-shirts had reassured them that somewhere Jim was still alive, and someday he would come home again.

It was a wonderful birthday.

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I guess that this period of our lives deserves more than one post.  

Whenever I talk to people about this year we lived apart, generally the reaction is “How could you stand it?   I would have gone crazy without my husband around.”   The short answer is, you get used to it.  And you stand it because you don’t have any choice.  The man is gone and you are not going to be with him.   Period.  

We went into this with our eyes wide open.   We knew it would be hard, but we had goals.   We also knew that this sort of assignment was going to be very good for Jim’s career path.   We decided the sacrifice would be worth it.   And after all, he was going to have leave in July.   We wouldn’t be spending the whole year apart, just most of it.

For Christmas, right before Jim deployed, his older brother, who also had a Navy career, gave me a 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle.   That puzzle saved me the first few weeks Jim was gone.   I had it set up on the dining room table, and I spent hours working it in the first long long evenings of January that I spent alone.   Sometimes I wouldn’t get to bed before 2 a.m.  My electric bill actually showed a jump in usage just because of that puzzle.

We forgot to tell the phone company that Jim was going overseas.   After he had been gone a couple of months, and he had made a couple of collect phone calls home from Manama, Bahrein, I got a call from Pacific Bell.   They were very polite, but did I realize that my phone bill was over $300?   I was over my credit limit, and they wanted me to get my little buns down to their office forthwith to pay the bill.   I had 48 hours, or they were going to turn my phone off.   After I got over being amazed that my phone bill had a credit limit on it, I explained what was going on to the nice lady, and she got busy and raised our credit limit so I wouldn’t be getting any more calls like that one.  I still had to get right down there and pay that bill, though. 

Before Jim actually left, I racked my brains for something special that I could do to make the passing of time seem less onerous.   Jim and I liked to play Cribbage, and one day while we were playing a game, I flashed on the fact that there are 52 cards in a poker deck, corresponding with 52 weeks in the year.   I decided that I would pick a deck of cards out, and send him one card every week.    As my pile of cards grew smaller, his pile would get thicker.   I planned to have the last card with me when I met the plane when he came home.    So, when I took him to the airport that New Year’s Eve, I was armed with an envelope that had a quite beautiful card in it.   In the card, I explained my plan, and included the first of the 52 cards.   It was a very important symbol for both of us.  Of course, I still have the deck of cards that traveled so far in so many letters and cards.  It is sitting right on top of my computer desk as I write this.

Before he was scheduled to deploy, Jim did all the fun stuff, like get his will updated.   This activity was not exactly calculated to provide peace of mind for me.   But I had been with him long enough to know that the Navy was not a safe job.   For example, I had already learned that there were rules and procedures they had to follow to go into a space in the ship that had not been opened for some time, due to the risk of accumulation of toxic gases.   We regularly were treated to articles in the paper describing how some Navy aircraft had crashed during training.   You just had to realize that it was still safer that working as a roofer.

I will never forget one day in May.   I was in the habit of grabbing a little breakfast, making some coffee, and taking my coffee and the morning paper up to the Conservatory, where I worked on the switchboard from 7 in the morning until about 8:30.   It was a quite lovely morning, the sun had actually burned back the fog for a change, the cats had been particularly sweet, and I was in a very good mood as I exited the apartment and bent down to pick up the paper.  

The headline screamed at me, in  letters over an inch high:   US NAVY SHIP ATTACKED IN PERSIAN GULF!   Below that in smaller letters:  34 DEAD    My heart stopped beating, I swear it.   I will never forgive the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle.  I had to read through three paragraphs before they named the ship involved, the USS Stark.   Then I began to breathe again, even though I knew that Jim was nearby, and involved.   I could see the “Great White Ghost of the Arabian Coast,” the USS LaSalle, in the picture accompanying the article.  I found out later that he most definitely was involved, he was on board the Stark helping fight fires. 

He tells me that when the actual incident came down, the LaSalle was in port and the crew was on liberty.   The command was scattered about Manama, probably eating out, and Jim was serving his stint on Shore Patrol.   When the scratchy communication from the only working radio on the USS Stark started to come in (a hand-held walky-talky that did not require the ship’s power to opeate),  Jim and his fellow chiefs listened to it in the Duty Office of the shore station.   He says that that day he got to do something he had always wanted to do, ever since he first saw the movie “Casablanca.”  He got to walk into the club, go to the manager and say, “This bar is closed.”   Then he went on to tell him, “Turn on the lights, send everybody back to their ship.” 

Oh, there was plenty of stuff to worry about.   Helicopters delivering personnel to ships crashed all the time.  Usually everybody on them got killed.   One time Jim got a concussion playing in a softball game between the Chiefs and the Officers.   The Lieutenant that he collided with got a broken wrist out of the deal.   Even in peacetime the military is not a safe job.   But like I said, it is safer than roofing.   So you just keep telling yourself things like that, and try not to think about how long it has been since you had sex, and you get out the cards and count them once in a while.  

And you write letters.   Lots of letters.  And you wait for the mail.  And you try not to drink too much.  And you hug your kittens, go to baseball games, go to school, go to work.  And time passes.  Eventually.

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