Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Another anniversary...

 The date - November 22 - brings sad memories of President John F. Kennedy.

My actual vivid recollection was in downtown San Diego when Senator Kennedy came to California, campaigning for the highest office.

It was 1960 and I was a 21-year old former Marine Corps photographer who had just started as an older freshman at the University of San Diego.

Some buddies and I skipped classes and went downtown to see this young candidate.

Of course, I had a camera with me and stood at the back of the large crowd that had turned out in this basically Republican city.

A few months before, I was at Camp Lejeune, N.C. as a Corporal E-4, trying on my new civvies before my discharge and heading home to Charleston.

USD had offered me a photography scholarship and I jumped at the chance to be the first one in my family to attend college!

As a designated Marine Combat Photographer, I was not shy about moving up through the crowd to get closer to the candidate.

I've told this story before that I looked up at a policeman on the raised platform and held up my camera.

I told him I was the official photographer from the University of San Diego and wanted to be up there for better photos.

He had no problem with that and gave me a hand up.

I was now standing on the end of the platform with a great view of the crowd, the dignitaries, and the candidate himself.

Waited until he stretched out his left arm to make a point and turned his body and face in my direction.


As he finished his speech, Senator Kennedy was applauded and I hopped down to street level to photograph him coming down the steps, shaking hands. Got a few more photos as someone threw confetti.
As I said, I was a newcomer to San Diego, trying to adjust my military mind to civilian activities.

I recall I was wearing my USD windbreaker that day which no doubt helped the police officer decide I was not a threat.

Back on campus, I watched the candidate's debate and generally was in tune with supporting the Catholic candidate. 

I mean, it was an 11-year old Catholic University and I was an eligible voter. There was a separate College For Men and a College for Women with the beautiful Immaculata Chapel situated between the two.

The year after I graduated, the colleges combined and it was a true University, also with a School of Law, and a large seminary.

With my photography background, I started to visit the downtown newspaper, the Union-Tribune and made sure to stop in the Photo Lab to chat with the staffers there. And the boss.

About a year later, I was hired to be a lab tech and wire photo operator. 

After six months working inside the lab, I was sent out on assignments and became a staff photographer.

In 1963 I was part of a team dispersed around San Diego to cover the arrival of President Kennedy.

He was to receive an honorary degree from San Diego State and be the commencement speaker.

With Secret Service approval and our newspaper credentials, we photographers and reporters swarmed all over State's campus and along the route of the Presidential motorcade in and out of the city.

I had a plum assignment.

Here I was again, on the left side of JFK, using a long lens to capture the moment and the happy June graduation crowd.

The President flew to Dallas five months later.

As I said, I have posted my photos of the candidate and, later, the President on my blog before.

I'll probably share them again in the future.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Thanks for sharing these memories.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

A very happy Veterans Day....

Burp.  I ate my way through Veterans Day 2017.

There were invites by more than one eateries and I availed myself of a few.

I even received a vet's voucher for a free haircut!

Don't remember doing this before but it WAS the 60th anniversary of my becoming a U.S. Marine.

Living in Charleston back then, my Reserve Unit had merely shipped me down to Parris Island in 1957 on a Greyhound bus.

My lunch on Saturday was at Chili's, a national chain restaurant that had a special menu to treat veterans.

My plans were to go have a free seafood dinner later so I chose the Old Timer burger. With cheese.

Very fitting...for me.

The restaurant was packed with happy - and hungry - vets and families.

I had no drink or desserts so no check was presented. I handed my server $5 as a tip and hope everyone else did so.

My choice for dinner was Hyman's Seafood and I saw many G.I. haircuts as I sat at the bar downstairs.

I also saw some salty dudes with no hair.

"Thank you for your service" was heard all around me.

Hyman's offered a free entree up to $20. I chose to enjoy their Crispy Flounder at $18.95.

Along with a Palmetto Amber, the restaurant would not be losing much with the $20 freebie for vets.

I sat next to a nice-looking young couple and when I showed my red former service ID card, he asked if I was a Marine. I replied that I was and found he too was a Marine and his wife was Air Force.

They asked what I did in the Corps and I said my MOS was combat still photographer. They said they knew others with that title and I added Being in 1957-1960, I was fortunate never having been under fire.

Down the bar I saw a man with a David Letterman-like very full white beard.

Have no idea if he actually WAS Letterman but the retired talk show host had to be somewhere and Charleston would have been a good choice.

Hyman's places small brass plaques on tables showing what celebrities had sat there but I don't think they add those to the bar seats.

It was my first time NOT sitting at a table so I was enjoying being among the chattering crowd being seated or stepping inside on a brisk evening, waiting for their names to be called.

Nobody else seemed to think the bar patron was Letterman so I focused on my flounder, hushpuppies and the mac and cheese side.

Oh, and my local craft beer.

I had had my hair cut the day before and my regular barber noted it would have been free the next day.

He suggested I stop by on my way to my Veterans Day lunch and he would give me a voucher for a free haircut, to be used before the end of December.

I have had a beard for a year now so the picture shows me a few years ago, posing in front of his shop.

I usually have my hair cut every 5 or 6 weeks, so I am sure I will use this freebie before the end of the year.

(I am about to shave off my beard so this is a reminder to me of how I will look again.)

Hmmm, I also stopped wearing glasses after successful cataract operations so I won't look exactly like that again.

My evening ended when I stopped by the newest craft beer Brewery - MUNKLE - and chatted with the Owner/Brewer R. Palmer Quimbly.

He opened a few weeks ago at 1513 Meeting Street Road and stated the only beer he would brew would be Belgian.

"No IPAs here, ever. They are too hoppy and burn your palette."

I mentioned I had been in Belgium, taking a train down from Amsterdam, and had enjoyed my time - and beers - I had in Bruges.

He poured me a tasty Bruges Brun (Brown ale) and pointed out his dog, sitting in the corner, was named Brugges, the Belgian spelling.

He also pointed out items of furniture he had refinished and showed me photos hanging on the wall of familiar Belgian sights and sites.

One included the famed Half-Moon brewery where I had continued my beer education.

I said I had been told there are more than 7,000 beers brewed in Belgium, with a special glass for each one.

"Quite possible," he said, pointing to his large collection of glasses on display.

He added they were here because his wife wanted them somewhere else. not at home.

Next week there will be a stout added to his offerings. I like stouts and porters and the cooler weather is a good time to brew and serve them.

I mentioned I had bought several of the Kwak glasses, with their distinctive wooden glass holders.

I also have a collection of much taller Yard of Ale glasses in similar holders.

They are daunting to clean (breakage) so not used very often.

When Backstage Deli closed a few years ago in North Charleston near Otranto and Rivers, the owner was kind enough to give me a complete set.

These - including the wooden holders  - started with the "Yard," then the "Half-Yard", the "foot" and even the "toe."

I have not seen the full array in any bar and would hesitate to ask for a "foot" or a "toe" of ale.

Glass displays are just that - something to show - although in Bruges, I did have beer in different shaped glasses.

Travel is so broadening.

I finished my Brown Ale at Munkle and, when I asked for my check, he said "Thanks for your service" and I headed home.

What comes after a trifecta?

I had four good treats on this year's Veterans Day.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

Can't believe it was 60 years ago when I arrived at Parris Island.

I also can't believe I ever weighed only 140 pounds!

Semper Fi.

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Monday, November 06, 2017

Meanwhile, down in Savannah....

 Had a brief - but pleasant - visit a  week ago down south in lovely Savannah.

A 9-person musical group that we had seen in Toronto back in 2004 was bringing its hot Swing Jazz sound to town.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was performing at a fairly new performance site a little bit away from downtown.

The Stage On Bay resembled a warehouse from the outside but was set up pretty good inside for an evening of music.

Folding chairs down front, a cleared dance area behind the seats, a full bar and even a VIP balcony area.

The bar had TWO Irish whiskies: Jameson and Bushmill. Nice.

We support live music, loved the band's contemporary swing revival sound and wanted to lend a hand to the new venue.

The place is still a little rough around the edges but we hope it grows as a needed new entertainment outlet for Savannah.

They might want to re-think the rather high $10 parking fee.

The band's founder and lead singer Scottie Morris informed us the Southern California-based group has been around for 37 years ...with the same, original 9 musicians.

I remembered there was a 5-piece horn section and they did not disappoint!

A stand-out was Glen "The Kid" Marhevka on trumpet.

Joshua Levy, composer, and pianist shared one side of the stage with bassist Dirk Shumaker.

The drummer was Kurt Sodergren.

Their new album "Louie, Louis, Louie" is a tribute to Armstrong, Jordan, and Prima.

We heard some cuts from the new release as well as some Cab Callaway classics like "Minnie the Moocher."

Leader Scottie Morris kept a fast pace on guitar, banjo - and even cowbell  - as he directed his long-time band through an energetic evening.

Before the show, we had checked out two of the three craft beer breweries.

We learned that the burdensome Georgia beer brewing dictates imposed in the past, recently had been eased and now a fourth brewery was in the works.

Our experience in Atlanta with craft breweries earlier this year ago had been tasty but a bit confusing. There was a strong emphasis on giving a tour and limiting how much beer could be consumed in a taproom.

I feel that Georgia has seen the light and there will be more breweries there in the near future.

At Southbound Brewery, the first one we sampled, I enjoyed its Southern Delight Praline Amber, obviously with pecans in the mix.

Southbound even had its own Brew Cat on premise. Did not get the guardian's name.

Dire warnings about it being a "savage beast"  were discounted as it purring-ly roamed its turf all around inside.

Then, it ambled out to the patio for a snooze among its new beer-drinking friends.

I didn't try to pet it but I am told its fur was as soft as a cuddly bunny rabbit.

I guess using actual rabbits would be a challenge, even more so than herding cats.

 When we sipped beers at Coastal Empire Brewing, one distinctive draft pull caught my eye.

It denoted a part of Savannah's recent past with "the book"...Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil.

Nice touch.

Hmmm, odd that none of the Atlanta breweries we had visited had come up with even a slight nod to the classic Gone With The Wind.

Maybe a Scarlett (O'Hara)?

Or (I Don't) Give A Damn.

Just plain GWTW would make some visitor ask what that meant... and then perhaps try a pint.

I leave all of these on the table for ANY brewing Company in the state of Georgia.

Hmmm, trying to think of some good names for brews in Charleston not offered yet...maybe: Rainbow Rye beer?

The Battery Bock.  Morris Lighthouse Lager.

How 'bout Gose Creek?

Summerville Saison?  Sangaree Stout?

Between breweries in Savannah, we were referred to Treylor Park on Bay Street for a meal.

It offered a slightly different decor and menu.

The ambiance was road warrior and mobile transit residence.

I settled on the Chicken Biscuit and collard greens so I would fit right in.

Saw a lady sort of  "hiding" a small dog in her lap which made me consider some hush puppies too.

Here are a few more photos of the "day tripper" we had. My buddy had to be at work at 8 am the next day so we drove down, sipped and sampled and listened to some great swing jazz and then headed back to Charleston.

The road was pretty empty around two in the morning.

(Click on the photos - and links - for more details.)

Thanks for riding along.

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Don't step on a crack...

 Recently, I saw that a knee-high black plastic tarp had been placed in a shallow ditch in front of my house.

In fact, as far as I could see, it was stretched in front of ALL the houses on my side of the street.

A few days before, I had noticed colorfully painted lines on the pavement - blue, orange, yellow, and green - that showed where gas, water, and sewer lines were located.

I expected some construction digging was going to happen. Been down that street before.

Years ago, the city had dug up water connection pipes in the middle of the street.

During that activity, a gas line had been clipped and the distinctive rotten egg smell filled the air.

There was an adrenaline-rush of activity as word was spread of the possible danger.

But, the leak was quickly repaired. No harm, no foul.

So it was comforting that efforts had been made to locate potential danger zones.

The contracted labor force showed up and starting to carve away a large portion of the lawn I had kept mowing by the street.

I knew it was right-of-way but nobody else came by to cut it so I would hop on my riding mower.

Heavy equipment arrived and dug out a rough path of what would become a sidewalk.

The city had sent out a flyer to all of the homes affected by this new addition on my side of the street.

It described the why, how, and when and - happily - assured us it was funded by a grant so home-owners would not be assessed for the improvement.


Chatting with some neighbors, we realized it was to be a limited length of sidewalk.

Children walked along this street to their school bus pickup points.

The concern was for their safety.

In the afternoon, flocks of after-schoolers walked down the middle of the street, to the consternation of impatient drivers.

This project would help the drivers and increase safety for the walkers.

After the path was cut, the root-filled dirt was hauled away and fresh construction soil was laid down as a smooth foundation.

I quickly learned that half the workers were "Soil guys" and the others were the "Concrete team."

Each was doing its part up and down the street, in sequence to allow the next step to be taken.

That step appeared to be the placement of wooden strips to form the sides and ends for the later pouring of concrete. I believe those are called"forms."

Once the foundation was made and the forms placed, a large cement (concrete?) truck rumbled up the street.

It gets in place, its long chute is extended and wet concrete comes sliding down.

Now the "concrete team" uses a long 2x4 to push and massage it into all the cracks and crannies to make it uniform.

Several "finishers" follow along with long-handled tools
to buff and smooth the quickly drying surface.

Eventually, there's just one man on his knees, giving the surface a final touch with his trowel.

By now, it's starting to look like a sidewalk - but - something is missing.

There are no "cracks" in it.

I was told that once it had hardened or cured, another team member comes back with a saw and cuts the lines.

These allow for expansion and contraction and that helps to keep it from cracking. Your Mother's Back is not a factor.

The teams are now working further down the street.

My strip of lawn that has been altered is just about ready for foot traffic.

I keep receiving mail and putting mail out front with the red flag up for the mailman to retrieve.

Not sure what was the purpose of the tarp?

The teams have to do special work on driveways so they'll be back again nearby.

My only complaint so far is a dangling wire that was snapped by one of the sidewalk builders vehicles.

It is nose-high for the school children who soon will be passing by on the safety addition walkway.

Human nature means someone is going to yank on it and I'd like to see that avoided.

When I mentioned it to the crew, I was told to call the cable company.

Hmmm, I don't have cable, just internet online service, and it's working fine so apparently, I am not affected by the broken line.

I was advised by a passing police officer I flagged down to call the power company to attend to it.

He was right, it IS attached to a power company line, so I'll give them a call about a fallen line.

That should get a response.

(Click on links and photos for more details.)

Enlarge the last photo to see the wire that's bothering me.

Thanks for "taking a walk" with me.

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