Monday, November 25, 2013

A man I knew

He was born in Ohio. His birthday was in the last week of November, so every few years, it would fall on Thanksgiving. The man's family moved to California where he grew up and lived on the farm his dad worked. Around 1942, he joined the Army Air Corp. He was assigned at one time to England where he drove truck. He related stories of doing this as bombs fell from the skies.

He met a woman in a bar. He asked her to marry him. She told him she would never marry anyone who didn't know the answer to a particular riddle. He knew it. They were married the next week. The woman hated the man's first name and so she called him Steve. His Army buddies called him "Cyclone" They started a family with a little girl. Tragically, the girl died. He and his wife must have been devastated. I know what losing a child is like, I could not imagine if the child had been an infant or toddler. Their life was hard.

After WWII, Steve stayed in the Army and served during the Korea Conflict as it was called. He also served during the Cold war days of the Cuban missile Crisis. By this time, though, The Army Air Corp had become it's own branch of the US military, The Air Force. Steve transferred into the branch of the Air Force know as SAC -The Strategic Air Command. SACs duties were to provide defense for the nation as opposed to air strikes overseas.

The man was intelligent and a master of mechanics. His duties in the Air Force was running a mechanic crew repairing and maintaining aircraft. He was very skilled at other things such as electrical and plumbing. His final assignment was on Guam and finally in Washington State during the Vietnam War buildup. He retired there with 22 years in.

In Washington, he had eventually bought three houses and repaired them as rental property. Then, following a promise he and his wife had made during a visit to San Diego, he moved his family there. The times were hard and the man had developed a problem with alcohol. Looking back, a rough childhood under a strict father and/ or the heartbreak of losing a child. might have been the necessary emotional factors. There was some problems with his family as his Dad's family was totally against his marriage to a Catholic woman he only known a week and met in a bar. This along with his military service seemed to separate him from his family and he only occasionally saw any of them. He remained married for 25 years despite his going off the rails and his wife raised her children Catholic though the Church in those days disapproved of marriage with Protestants.

His wife got sick with heart disease and during an operation, contracted pneumonia and passed away. By this time, the boys were out of high school. One was serving in the USAF himself. The daughter was still young. The tragedies that followed the rest of his life were regrettable but no one was there to help him. His drinking had alienated most of his children as well. He suffered a stroke in 1990 about the same time he got his first grandchild. A heavy smoker, he had just quit a number of years before. He had just decided he didn't want to do it anymore. His life, however, was a social one surrounding his tavern life. He was known as a normally gentle, smart, and good humored man. After his stroke, he had a hard time getting around and withdrew deeper and deeper into himself. His children by this time had established solid lives and he was helped out by apartments provided by one son and daughter-in-law, and later general care and shopping by another. The one son had moved to another state, and as the man's health worsened with age, he was moved to where they lived and cared for by his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

My Father Willard (Steve) E. McGlone, was a good but tragically flawed man. He did possess a heart as big as the open skies of North Dakota. He taught me mechanics. He taught me Chess. He taught me to shoot pool. He taught me that even the broken people are often full of love and caring. He despised no one and looked for the best in everyone. He taught me this, too.

He failed many times, but the memories I have of him, I cherish. Playing baseball as a five year old with other kids and parents in the neighborhood. sledding down the hill at Pease. Working on Buicks in the carport on Guam. Going on drives with him. swimming in a lake in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Watching and trying to help him refurbish houses. The month we spent without electricity after Typhoon Karen. When others had converted trash cans to BBQs, he built an oven/griddle/grill that was the envy of the neighborhood. We had eggs and pancakes for breakfast and hamburgers and steaks for dinner. Sitting in the house listening to rock and roll while we played chess, rummy or spades as a family. Fishing off a boat in Mission Bay. Yes, even drinking in a dark bar in the afternoon listening to him tell me his opinion on politics, considerably further right than I had imagined.

He had many faults. He also had strength and greatness. I miss him and I love him. His birthday is tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Dad.

Friday, November 22, 2013

11-22-63 - Briefly

I remember being on Guam. My little sister was almost two years old, and we had fully recovered from a devastating typhoon a year earlier. I found my mother sitting on her bed crying. I asked her what was the matter, and she showed me the newspaper. It declared the President had been shot and Vice President Johnson had taken over. This is my recollection of the events 50 years ago. "Has anybody seen my good friend, John?"

Susquehanna River visit.

Traveling home through Pennsylvania, we were to stop for breakfast. We pulled off the road where there was an assortment of restaurants. We wondered if there were more up the road, so we ventured on. What I've found on our travels is that there are gems everywhere. A couple of times, we've ignored our Garmin, checked out some road, and found something worth seeing.

This road we took, led across a bridge and up a hillside on a narrow two-lane road. Suddenly we saw a river through the trees. Then we passed a power plant. We stopped where we could, I got out and snapped some pictures. At this time, I usually look up on the map and then Google what we've seen and fall into stories of history and folklore. Here's what we found.

This from Wikipedia:
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At 464 miles (747 km) long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United States without commercial boat traffic today—for what navigations had been used to improve the waterway for barge shipping of bulk goods by water transport of the Pennsylvania Canal in the Canal Era were let go under the domination of the more flexible and much faster shipping measures under the railroad industry.

The nation's sixteenth largest river by volume, the Susquehanna flows through New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland into the Chesapeake Bay.


There on the river is the Shawville Power Plant. The plant is set to shut down in 2014. This is an old coal-fired plant that provides 600 megawatts of electricity for the people of Pennsylvania. The plant has been condemned as one of the most inefficient and dirty plants in the nation. The owners would like to upgrade the plant, but with all the newer and stricter eco regulations, they are now just planning to shut it down. I don't know the entire history of the plant, but I wonder how they are going to replace all the power and wonder how much politics and greed plays into it all. Still, the plant was interesting to see, and made for some great pictures.

Heading back to the highway, we were still in need of breakfast. We stopped at the Dutch Pantry. What a great little shoppe. Once they had over 100 units across the north east. Now, there are only three. Laurie remembers them from her childhood. Inside, the walls are covered with antique boxes, jars, canisters, and utensils. Laurie had phenomenal country fried steak, and I had a skillet. We also shared some great apple fritters.

This was a great break from our travels.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Boston - The cradle of American Freedom

(I did this yesterday, but somehow it didn't post)

We began our visits to Boston with a bus tour that included a water tour of Boston Harbor. After we parked the car, we walked to Faneuil Hall Square to buy the tickets and catch the boat. In front of the hall was a statue of the patriot Samuel Adams who designed a lot of Boston. Through the square were many stores and shops. The bar "Cheers" was there. We learned that the site of the bar used in the TV show was only a store, and this location was built to replicate the inside sets of the TV series. Our tour guide on the boat was a big funny Irishman who told great stories of history. Returning to land, The land bus took us around the city and described many historic and interesting places. We were told that when a renovation was started in Boston decades ago, the citizens passed a bill that the older buildings of the town could not be torn down, but only renovated. Also, a large section of the Harbor was filled in and the waterfront section of the city is all newer buildings.

Throughout the city is a trail of red bricks set Into the sidewalk. This Freedom Trail leads you around the city to all the historic places. The trail begins in Boston Commons, a great park, with Beacon Hill on one side. There is Robert Gould Shaw Memorial for the 54th regiment, the first free black regiment in the U.S. Army. The story of the 54th is told in the film, "Glory" with Matthew Broderick.

It's great walking through the city and seeing the contrast between the old and new buildings. We visited the Old South Meeting House where the town leaders had meetings about heir situation as a colony and planned the Boston Tea Party. Many of th booths and boxes were rented by specific people. We sat in the box of Benjamin Franklin. A powerful feeling.

We had dinner at Regina's Pizza. An historic restaurant started in 1926. Great pizza. On our exploration, we stopped by Fenway Park. There was a lot going on since it was just hours before the opening game of the World Series. There is a tavern connected to the park. We went in and there is some seating with a screened opening to the park. Great statues of Ted Williams who came from San Diego and was an important player for the Red Sox.

On our second day in Boston we toured Harvard University and the Museum of Natural History there. For lunch we had Fish (haddock) and chips at the Beantown pub. They serve a type of Sam Adams beer brewed specially for them.

We had a great time in Boston

Today - 11/22/13

We had the first snow that I've seen here in North Dakota. Just a dusting, I know there will be more. Had Eliza and her kiddies here for a couple of days. Noise and stress, but lots of fun and love. All the thick rows of trees here seem pretty sparse compared with the foliage of the North East. Going to Grand Forks for shopping today. I'll blog later some more about our trip.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The day before Holloween - Salem, Massachusetts.

October 30th. Salem, Massachusetts.

The day started with drizzle and clouds. It would eventually turn into a rather nice day for touristing. we parked the car and walked to the harbor our site. We bought tickets from a nice goth girl who actually seemed engaged. This is rare at tourist sites. We had time until the tour and went for breakfast as a local place. It was nice. The tour went through the harbor and we saw the five or so lighthouses that guide ships through the treacherous bay. The next visit was to the Pirate Museum. There is a rich history of pirates and such shenanigans here. The museum is a walk through lecture on colorful characters. We enjoyed t, but it wasn't really much.

there is a walking tour through the town where you follow a red line to see all the sites on the tour. As we walked to the beginning of the tour, we passed the statue of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Salem's most famous citizen.

On the Salem walk, we saw many historic locations. The Sanders house where Alexander Graham Bell made many inventions and discoveries with the financial help of Mrs. Mary Ann Sanders. we stopped at a few places that tell the story of the Salem witch hunt, and the first church built in Salem. On the city mall, there was a statue of a girl factory worker. She was a real person in incredible makeup. Part of a theater group, these performers pose, unmoving, until they are tipped. Then they bow a thank you and assume another pose. Quite cool.

As we continued our tour, we saw the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha the Witch of "Bewitched". Then we stopped at a massive comic book store, where actor Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster on "The Munsters" TV show, was giving autographs.

As dark fell, we went to a couple of haunted houses that were a bit lame, and quite a disappointment for a city such as Salem. Had drinks and dinner at a local brewery, the Salem Beer Works.

Another exhausting but fun day.

Plymouth, Massachusetts. Travelling back in history for a day.

Plimoth Plantation.
Plymouth mass, is down on the southern corner of Massachusetts. The town is known as the landing of het Pilgrims and the foundation of the Plymouth colony. Our day began with the Plimoth plantation. This is a recreation of the original colony as it was originally established.

The center has two parts. one is the Native American section showing how they lived during this period. It is staffed by Native Americans who weave baskets, build housing, and dig out canoes. The second section is the settler's town as it was then. All the staff are dressed in period dress and speak as settlers with their opinions and knowledge. There is a fort/battlements that was to protect the colony from invasion by natives or pirates. Very instructional and fun. I wish there had been more to the native section.

As the day wore on, we left and headed into town. We stopped at a park where a monument to Plymouth men who died in the war of 1861. Atop is a stone eagle whose head is turned towards Plymouth bay where the fighting was.

We continued to Plymouth park where sits the famous Plymouth Rock. As well the Mayflower II stands in the harbor. The original Mayflower no longer exists, but this replica was made in 1957. It was recently restored and finished this year.

As the sun was setting, we retired to the Pillory Bar across from the rock. We had hot dogs and warm drinks of Apple cider and cinnamon whiskey.

It was a very fun day.