Friday, September 26, 2008

A Beaver Believer....for one day

A few weeks back, my buddy Frank Patka from Printer Resources was in the diner with a salesperson from LA. The man was an avid USC fan and Frank told him that he should take us to the USC game with Oregon State. Us meaning Frank and Mark from PRR and me.

I never gave that much thought again until Wednesday when Frank called me and asked me if I wanted to go. Will, the USC fan, had just shown up and let Frank know that he had the tickets. "You bet!", I said, "Tell him thanks for me.". "You tell him yourself.", spoke Frank, "He is right here and you are on speaker phone.". "Thanks", I yelled, "I can't wait to see the Beavers beat the best team in the nation.". Little did I know how my jest would become truth.

I packed what I thought I might need with my bleacher chair, blanket, umbrella, and backpack. I looked down at my camera and thought that I really would not need that. After all, the game would probably be over in the first quarter. We took off around noon and arrived in Corvallis around three. The closer we got, the more traffic with orange flags on them surrounded the three Duck fans in my van. We drove into the middle of the campus and found a pretty good parking spot.

College Football has to be my favorite spectator sport and I was really enjoying the atmosphere that was evident even as far away from the field as we were. We walked in with a variety of colorful Beaver fans and arrived at the stadium with the Beaver band playing loudly along with variety of kid friendly events happening next to the main entrance of the field.

We walked around the field and found our host who was a part of a tailgating party that had both OSU and USC fans in it. We ate and talked about previous games between the two schools and how OSU had had some pretty good luck against them. I don't think that any of us, however, felt that the Beavers had even the slightest chance in the day's game.

I took a walk around the stadium and watched as the OSU team ate in a tent close to the practice field and then as I continued, I found myself walking amongst some tall guys in black sweats. Someone on the side of the road yelled out and I notice that the guys I was with had numbers on the back of their sweatshirts. I was walking with the USC Trojans....Wow! I pulled over to the side and tried to memorize the numbers of the guys that got the best yells. One big guy that was quite close to me was number 58. Upon returning to the tailgate, I told the USC fans what I had seen. I was asked for numbers and said, "Well, the guy who got the most yells was 58". "That was Rey Maualuga", I was told. "He is considered the best linebacker in the nation."

As kickoff time neared, we walked in with our hosts and found our seats. We had great seats on the goal line. To top it off, the seats had backs so they were very comfortable. Or were when we could sit in them. From the opening kickoff, the fans in front of us were on their feet....and so were we.

USC seemed confused by the OSU defense and a very slippery little running back was running right through the vaunted USC defense. The running of the freshman Jacquizz Rodgers allowed the passing game of OSU to open up and by halftime, the Beavers were ahead by 21-0. OSU had gained over 220 yards in the first half with USC only making 75. To top it off, USC had only one first down.

We all decided to go down and get something at the half and as I left my seat a lady from two rows back motioned for me to come over. She said, "Would you guys please sit down in the second half. I can't see a thing.". " I would be glad to sit down if the guy in front of me will.". "You need to tell him to.", she demanded. I just smiled. I was just thinking how well that might go over and how she felt that we should all tell the persons in front of us to sit and they needed to tell the persons in front of them and so on....just for this woman.

We harassed Will a little about the score but none of us felt that the Trojans would come out in the second half with nothing short of killing the Beavers. We laughed about wanting to be a fly on the wall in the USC locker room. "Is Pete Carroll a screamer?", one asked. "He sure is", came the reply.

Finding our seats again we readied for the coming onslaught that we knew was coming from what many considered to be a team so talented that they could probably beat some pro teams. Once again, the crowd was on it's feet and I heard the lady two rows back yelling for everyone to sit down. She yelled that for a few downs and then must have either given up or left. Oregon State received the kickoff and for pretty much the first time in the game, went three and out and punted back to USC who as we expected caught on fire. The QB was lighting up the Beavers, throwing the ball way before the receivers had even turned and catching them right in the numbers on the turn. The score was quickly 21-14 and we all saw no way for the Beavers to survive. But no one told them that. Once again they seemed to dig in and hold the now charging Trojans.

The fourth quarter brought a dog fight with neither team being able to move up and down very well. USC still looked to be the better of the two and with the minutes waning, the OSU punter got off a great punt that held USC inside the five yard line. Frank mentioned that OSU would probably go into a prevent defense but I noticed that was not happening. The first pass went just out of the hands of a USC receiver who was screaming down the field and if caught would have easily scored. We wondered out loud why some of the defenders were not held back to defend that. But Coach Riley knew better and with the pressure that they were giving the USC QB, the next pass was intercepted and ran down to the two yard line. Moments later, after the OSU touchdown and missed extra point, the score was 27-14 with two and a half minutes left in the game.

The crowd was electric. Even more so than most of the Duck games that I have been to. And then the real USC finally showed up. They went down the field in what seemed like seconds just as we all felt that the game was in the bag. The score came so quick that it almost silenced the screaming fans. We all held our breath as USC lined up for the onside kick. Only when the OSU player secured the ball did we all breath the sigh of relief.

With the new forty second rule and only thirty five seconds left on the clock, the fans could not be held back. The wave of orange smothered the field as the USC players ducked quickly to the sidelines to escape them. OSU players were lifted up and carried around by the celebrating revelers. We all felt bad for Will. He had bought us all seventy five dollar seats only to have his adored team lose. Will left us and said that he would meet us downstairs. In good form, we found him congratulating Beaver fans and shaking their hands. Most were very nice to him with only a few chiding him. We heard one "University of Spoiled Children" but not much more. Most were almost apologetic to him.

With the night getting late, we walked back to our cars with the ecstatic OSU crowd and began to make our way out of town and back to Bend. Three hours later, we were back in town and I was back in bed. Frank, who usually keeps me company on those late night drives conked out halfway home. I guess the standing up got the best of him. He called me up this morning. "I woke up this morning and wondered if it had all been a dream.", he said, "And then I looked at my hand.". I then looked at my hand and saw it too....the Beaver stamp that I received when I walked into the stadium.

A reminder of a great experience that none of us will likely forget and yet I have no pictures to prove it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A house of cards

Sometimes when I write it is because I cannot sleep. Tonight is one of those times. Actually, I was sleeping very soundly when I had a bad dream. In that dream, I was asleep and someone was in the room and about to swing a bat at me. I yelled out and Judy woke me up. As I lay there in bed, I began to think of things and wondered if my dream was a manifestation of my thoughts of the days that we are in right now.

We are living in very interesting times right now. And the next few weeks just might be some of the most important weeks for our nation that we in our lifetimes have ever come across.

We watch as the value of our IRA, houses, and other investments dwindle instead of grow. We again watch as the government bails out the banks that gave out the loans to people that they should not have. We also see others lose their houses who in good times, would not have because of those same banks loan practices. It is disheartening to me to see those people cry out to the banks only to have those same banks show disinterest and to have those same banks cry out to the federal government only to be bailed out by them. Now, I understand the importance of the bailout but I also understand the importance of responsibility.

We watch as energy prices rise and add more fuel to the economical fire. Our dependence on foreign oil only leads to more fear as we watch certain parts of our governmental machine block all attempts to separate us from that dependence. We need to be working on alternative energy but we also in the mean time need to be be working with equal fervor to produce more of the energy and fuel here.

We watch an impending election and await the results. But we also watch as those same politicians that we are due to elect bash one another and give us general statements on what they intend to do instead of how they intend to do it. We watch a media report these things with their own personal biases (rather left or right) instead of giving us the facts and letting us make our own decisions. We also watch those same medias bring up race and gender issues seemingly trying to ignite other things into the process that not only don't need to be there but can, in my mind, only generate certain anger in some areas. As that detective of old on TV used to says, "Lets stick to the facts, only the facts.".

All these things affect us both personally and in business.

I have been watching my business closer than ever lately. I strive to keep the product and service to the highest levels. I watch my prices closely as I know that I am in an interesting level of my business area. My purveyors can raise their prices up with the market but I cannot necessarily raise mine in the same manner. For instance, I have seen some products rise as much as forty percent overnight but cannot raise my menu prices in the same manner. This is not a complaint but merely a fact.

I watch others fall around me and that makes me become even more diligent to insure that does not happen to me and my crew. I am constantly aware that their are forty other people here who are relying on Judy and I to be successful so that they can remain working also.

I scrutinize my profit and loss statements on a monthly basis. Our sales have remained stable with only a 3 percent or so reduction. I feel good there in that others have claimed up in the 20 percent range. I have been able to keep the food prices in line at the same time but have been frustrated with the added fuel surcharge that they are all giving us. It seems to be one more thing that they can add to help themselves in this problem that we all have that I cannot pass on. Would any of you put up with a nickle surcharge on one of my burgers to compensate for my added fuel costs? LOL

The payroll over that last few years has been an area that I cannot seem to get under control, however. To me, the biggest reason for that is our minimum wage law that we put into effect a few years back. My payroll percentage has constantly increased over the years to where it is now encroaching on 50 percent of my sales. The biggest area of that raise has been in the waitstaff. And we are soon to give them yet another 45 cent per hour raise. The problem there is what I have been saying for many years. We are giving the person who is making them most in the business the biggest raise. In this enforced raise, we cannot give the others that need it more the raises that they deserve. I have all of my areas broken down and can easily show this. While the rest of my crews wages have stayed stable percentage wise to my sales, my waitstaff wages have grown exponentially over the years. And to top that off, when I am forced to raise my prices at the end of the year to compensate, they will gain yet another raise in that with the higher menu prices come higher tips. Most of us tip on percentage. Once again, the media will put its own spin on this issue. They show how the minimum wage law helps the struggling single mom who is waiting tables to make a life but does not continue on to the dishwasher, cashier, or cook who needs the wages also but are held back. Before this minimum wage law started up, I was paying dishwashers as much as $1.50 more than minimum in some cases. That has reduced to most of them being minimum or only slightly over. Once again, not a complaint but a reason why so many restaurants are falling and why many more will.

After my rant, I can only come to one conclusion, however. We must all go on as business as usual. It is important that we continue to watch and to correct as we need to but not panic. If we panic, we will all run and pull our money out of banks that will then bring on more pressure to a government that will only produce more money to prop up the banks and in turn make the bills that we have held out more useless. We must all continue buying and selling. We must continue to attempt to maintain our businesses and our lifestyles.

As in my dream, we must be alert to what is happening around us.....but also as in my dream, it is important that we get the rest that we need to do the prudent thing. And.....that is why, I need to go back to sleep. Maybe now that I have gotten some of this off of my chest, I can.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To hunt or not to hunt

We are fast approaching a time of the year that many Central Oregon's look forward to. Hunting season. Now being born and raised here, I have witnessed many a hunting season but have only hunted myself once.

I had one of my brothers rifles with me. One with a scope as I remember. I was walking down a road and coming up on a rise in front of me when I saw it. The buck was magnificent standing at the top of the rise. I put the gun up and sighted. It's head was proudly held up with quite a rack of horns on top. But try as I want, I could not pull the trigger. I put the gun down and watched as the deer seemed to not have a clue of me being there. I sighted it up again and readied for the shot. Sweat rolled off of me as I was defeated from doing that one small thing....just one small squeeze and I would have my first deer. I put the gun back down again and looked at the beauty of the creature. "Go on, get out of here!", I yelled at him. His head turned in a start and he ran off down the other side of the rise.

I walked back to my rig, stowed my gun away, and drove back to my house never to point a gun at an animal again. For years, I told people that I didn't hunt but could if I needed to. I always said that if I need the meat, it is in the store. But, there is a reason for the inability. One that I have not really told anyone before.

You see, I have shot an animal before. My one and only to my recollection. And with an impact so big that I lost any desire to do so.

The animal was our family dog. To this day, it has always been my favorite pet even with all of the dogs and cats that I have owned since. We got it as a pup. It's constant scratching with it's back paw that thumped the floor led to her name, Thumper.

Short legged and floppy eared, this black and white mix of a dog was a part of our family. I remember once when she somehow got sores on her, we purchased bag balm to treat her wounds.

Thumper loved everyone and her love was unconditional. When you didn't want her around, she just stayed off to the side and waited for your affection to return and would slop you with forgiving kisses.

I don't know how old Thumper was but I was around 16. I say that because I was able to drive. Thumper was old and my mother said that she needed to be put down and put out of her misery. I was the big man with my 22 rifle and I volunteered to do the deed. After all, I was tough and it had to be done.

Thumper gladly allowed me to place her in the car and I drove her up into the forest. Getting out, I tied her to the bumper of the car. I loaded my rifle and walked around the car to do the deed. Now Thumper seemed to think that I had brought her out for some fun and smiled as dogs do when she saw one of her masters.

I raised the gun and she looked at me with questioning eyes. After all, I had never done anything in the past to defy her trust. She just sat there looking up at me with those soft black eyes that never once showed any fear, only love. But I was a man. After all, I could drive now and I would soon be on my own. It was time for the man to show through. Tears welled in my eyes and I fought them back. This was my responsibility and I did my deed.

Overwhelmed, I slunk down the side of the car, my gun cradled in my lap as tears freely rolled down my cheeks. I knew that she was old and sick but she had trusted me and I had just defiled that trust. I don't know how long I stayed there lost in the agony of the moment. Eventually, I managed to get myself to my feet and place my gun back in the trunk where I retrieved the shovel. I dug the hole deep and placed large rocks on the body so that it would be protected from wild animals.

I then drove back to my house. I did not talk much about what I had done, only to acknowledge that it was finished. I attempted to cover my thoughts by keeping myself busy. But, I was never to shoot another animal again.

I am closing in on Fifty Six so that means that this was done around forty years ago but the memory when I bring it up is still quite vivid. Like I said before, I never talk about it so I felt that writing this might be a sort of release.

And if there are dogs in heaven, I know that she will be there. And in typical "Thumper" form, she will forgive me with sloppy kisses.

An encounter with wolves

She dances with wolves....literally. Lois Tulleners White years ago sold her beach house and bought land far from any humans to house a sanctuary for the arctic wolf. On Tuesday, Judy and I got to meet this fascinating person.

Our adventure started in the once busy small town of Tidewater. We pulled up into the abandoned parking lot of what once housed the gas station, grocery store, and community center for the area. The only building now being used is the community center that has been converted to house two very large fire trucks for the local RFD.

Blackberry vines have overtaken many of the buildings. Judy and I picked some of the dark sweet fruit and ate them while we waited. Four other vehicles dotted the parking lot with their inhabitants staying in them obviously waiting for the same people as us. We were told that we would be met there at Three PM and driven into the sanctuary.

A few minutes later, a small SUV pulled into the parking lot. I had expected a larger vehicle and wondered how we were all going to be transported in. A lady from the sanctuary called us all together and instructed us to follow her closely. I showed her Judy's low slung car and asked her if I should be driving it back in. "No", she said, "We will have to get you a ride.". She asked a lady who had just pulled in herself if Judy and I could ride with her. I must admit that this was rather awkward but I soon found it to be another part of the adventure.

Candy was our new guide and she was bringing her mother here on an adventure of their own. Her mom was visiting from Sonora, California. We introduced ourselves and chatted as the caravan of three cars made their way up the small road.

The road twisted back and forth through an area that had just been recently logged. The mountain wall had been stripped of all vegetation and I openly wondered how it would handle its next winter and if it slid down, would it trap the wolf reserve in.

We were soon back into the thick, however, and came upon a series of chain link fences. Judy said that it reminded her of Jurassic Park and the soon howls even added to that charm. The wolves greeted us as we drove into the reserve with a chorus of howls that we heard before we saw the wild white dogs. They greeted us and ran along with the cars as we drove up the final hill.

At the top, we pulled into the grass parking lot of a house with a large deck. This was the house of Lois Tulleners White which she has doubled as a greeting place and store for her reserve. Lois met and greeted us all on her deck that she had laid out plastic white deck chairs. While we waited for the lady in the SUV to go after the rest of our group, some of the people browsed through her small store. The house was small with what looked to be a single bedroom and kitchen. The living room had been converted into the store and a small open ended room housed her washer and dryer. We found out later that her bedroom doubled as her cashier station with the window being the walk up pay window and a small table housed her cash system devices.

As I waited, I stood on the end of the deck and looked out at the first enclosure. A beautiful white wolf laid looking back at me. We stared at each other for a couple of minutes and then he arose and walked towards me. He broke away the stare and walked over to a tree and urinated on it. He then scratched at the ground like a bull waiting to charge and stared back up at me. I realized that he was trying to tell me something. This was his land and he was in charge here. I quickly dropped my stare and walked over to join the group. The other car had gotten stuck on the gravel incline and had to back down and take another run at the hill but was now there safe and sound.

I had been instructed to turn my hat around as the bill covered my eyes and would not be taken well by the wolves. I felt very funny with my hat backwards and Judy teased me about it mainly because I tease young people who wear their hats that way as a fad. She couldn't wait to take a picture to show our kids.

Lois grouped us up on the deck and went into a small lecture of what we were soon to do along with an explanation of why she had started the reserve. I listened intently to her talk and being one that always looks beyond the speak, I took the conclusion that her underlying reason was that she preferred a lone wolf type of guy and she had had a few failed relationships at trying to find that person so she had literally attached herself to the real thing. I say that because she kept eluding to the perfection of the wolf and it's tending to stay in monogamous relationships and being able to stay in those same relationships not like most humans who have trouble with that. I know, I am probably reading in more than what is there but she has certainly dedicated her life to one thing.....the White Wolf.

After her talk, Lois led us up to the pups. She calls them pups but they are over a year old and fully grown. But although wild, they have been brought up in captivity, given to her as small pups. We were instructed on how to approach the wolves and what to do and not to do while encountering them.

Judy was very excited and anxious but also scared in her first encounter. The wolves seemed to walk by her but I could see that the reason was that they could feel her fear also. I told her that she needed to put her face up closer to the fence so they could lick her. With the first lap of tongue, Judy was transformed and in love with these white animals. She soon was kissing them back as long tongues came out of mouths that housed sharp white teeth. She would have gladly went inside the fence if she would have been allowed. I must admit that it was quite a feeling to be kissed by an animal that you know could rip you apart if he desired. Lois tapped me on the shoulder once and told me that I needed to talk more to the dogs. She said that my silence bothered them. What do you say to a wolf?

As we played with the pups, the adults became agitated and let us know by howling at us. The pups joined in also so we moved up further and out of sight of some of the adults. The howls seemed to all stop at once as if some conductor had motioned them to stop. It was very fascinating.

As we walked through, I spied a small snake going through the grass in front of us. I leaned over and Lois snapped at me, "Leave the snake alone. You boys don't need to pick them up when you see them.". I looked up at her and said, "I was thinking of picking it up.". "I know", she smiled as she had read my mind.

We finished up at the deck of her house again. Judy and I talked with Lois and I asked her if she ever got the chance to get away. "No", she said. "This is my life and I have chosen it.". I found that fascinating for a few reasons. She had not owned pets as a youngster and her siblings were not pet owners. Her only domestic pet was a small chicken that had taken her in. I wondered once more what was the catalyst for such change in her life. I assume it was probably a number of things.

I took a picture of Judy with Lois and we all got hugs as we left the encounter as friends. We then put our lives back into the hands of our other new found friend, Candy who drove us back down the windy road to our car still sitting in downtown Tidewater. Judy and I chatted about our experience as we drove back down towards Lincoln City and our motel room.

One thing for sure, we were both taken by the dedication of this special woman. You know, the Bible teaches that their is no greater love than to give up your life for a friend. This Lois has surely done and her friend is the arctic white wolf.

You can check her our at her website, When you look at the site, be sure and take a gander at the wolves. The one that I stared at and was confronted by was named Nepenthe. I could not pronounce it well but it was a very beautiful animal. It had been abused by a man so does not take to males that well. I am happy to say that it came over and licked my hand which surprised Lois.

Anyway, the sanctuary and the experience is well worth the side trip when you are at the coast. And by the way, your admission is tax deductible.

In all, we spent three hours at the White Wolf Sanctuary.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

at the coast

I know that I have not posted much as of late but my life has been kinda hectic with lots of things happening. I am over in Lincoln City trying to put a grand prize package together for this years World Series of Holdem for Habitat.

I was hoping to make a deal with the Shilo Inn over here. I have $150 in Shilo script and was hoping to trade that for a voucher for a couple of nights here in Newport but with the manager there out sick, the assistant not only didnt seem interested but seemed annoyed that I ask....oh well.

We met a lady yesterday at Marine Discovery Tours that is kind of a kindred spirit with us in that she does alot here for the community. Before I could even finish up telling her what I wanted, she said, "Say no more, you can have two passes to our discovery tour.".

Lincoln City and Newport are so close that I think it will make sense to just stay with the Sandcastle here as the main prize along with the boat tour. They are much better and friendlier people to deal with and I would much rather stay there anyway that is why I still have the Shilo script in the first place. I guess I will use it for a final table prize or something.

Judy and I are set this afternoon to visit a White Wolf Sanctuary over here just inland from Walport this afternoon. I probably will talk with them and see if they are interested in a couple of passes there just to round out the big prize.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The evacuation of South Vietnam

A while back, the man who bought my old house found some papers in the attic including a letter that I had written to my family at the end of the Vietnam war. It included something that I had written that showed my thoughts at the time. After showing this to a few friends, many of them suggested that I rewrite it in my blog so here goes. I will not edit anything which becomes more evident towards the end of the article when many errors were made.

One Man's Look at the Evacuation of South Vietnam

Being on the only naval combat ship to actually transport South Vietnamese refugees to safe haven, I had the chance to experience and participate in one of the greatest humanitarian efforts in recent years, one of which I really don't believe the people of the US actually realised the tragedy of.

I will try to relate to you my actual feelings of what I saw aboard my ship (The USS Durham LKA-114) and also information of what happened on other ships involved.

The first day was April, 3rd, 1975. The ship was maneuvering off the coast of Phan Rang, RVN, expecting refugees but not actually knowing how we would receive them since we could not send our boats into the city.

A small boat approached the ship about 1 PM and we were given permission from our flagship to commence receiving evacuees. We took aboard 21 persons off of the first craft, a very small number compared to what was soon to come.

The ship maneuvered to a little over a mile from the coast and anchored. Very soon more and more boats began ferrying people from the war torn city and fights broke out between them to see who would get to the Durham's brow and safety first.

Fellow shipmates formed a human chain carrying small children and personal belonging from the boats to the top of the ladder where the people were given a quick security check by US Marine military police. Sailors and Marines then helped them with their belongings as they were taken to a food distribution center for rice, bread, and tea then on to one of the cargo holds where they and their families could rest. US Navy hospital corpsmen then inspected the people and worked around the clock treating evacuees who needed their attention.

Meanwhile back at the brow, the receiving of evacuees continued in what to me created a very heart touching and desperate picture. Two of the evacuees fell into the choppy seas trying to jump to the safety of the ship and were rescued by sailors who jumped into the sea after them.

By the end of the first day, the total came to 1400 refugees, including one small baby that was born on the way to the ship.

The ship then returned to the open sea promising to return for more in the morning.

That night, sailors that were not on watch worked through the night, giving up there much needed sleep in order to make the people as comfortable as possible. The language gap was bridged by the love and concern that the sailors put out to the people. Many sailors gave up their own blankets, sheets, pillows, and coats in order to make the refugees as comfortable as possible. Blowers were rigged up to cool off the heat and many men used paper plates to fan small children so they could get to sleep while other men made milk runs to the ships galley for milk for the babies.

At this time, my heart really went out to these people. I could see the mortar shelling of the beaches and the smoke from the fires in the city. I could also see the anguish, pained, and terrified looks on the faces of the refugees.

Early the morning of the 4th, my ship returned and anchored one again off of Phan Rang. Immediately, the scene was the same as before and the men of the Durham began another day of little or no rest.

Even a steady monsoon downpour did not stop the growing numbers of refugees waiting to be brought aboard. Reports from the refugees were that there were still thousands on the beach waiting to be brought aboard and that many people were being shot trying to escape the Viet Cong. Reports were that in a northern harbor, a communist tank had even parked itself in front of one of the piers that the refugees loaded on threatening to kill anyone trying to leave.

On the ship, the men of the Durham worked in the pouring rain keeping families together and finding more room for the increasing numbers. Extra makeshift toilets were built along the sides of the ship. In order to maintain order, Marine guards were placed on holds and refugees were not allowed out unguarded. Many men immediately volunteered themselves as escorts to escort the people to places where they could relieve themselves and where they could clean up.

At the end of the day, the official total came to 3586 refugees, most of them women and children. The second night the men that could, worked again through the night aiding the people which could not easily be accomplished since there were 2000 more refugees than the day before. Feeding went on around the clock.

That evening the ship got underway heading south. In the morning, we arrived at Vung Tao where we mad ready to transfer our guests to the US merchant ship Transcolorado. Once again the men of the Durham helped the people get all there possessions together and make ready for the transfer. Feeding was still trying to be accomplished and was turning into a real task. When food was brought to the people, they rushed and fought to get it first. Order was maintained when they were told they would have to line up for the their food or get none at all.

Once again, Sailors formed human chains on both Durham's browns to aid the people onto the Durham's boats and even more men formed yet another chain on the brow of the Transcolorado.
On the evening of the 5th, the transfer of the refugees was completed and the Marines and Sailors of the Durham took a much needed rest.

On other ships, the job was not quite as easy as on ours. Two ships, one merchant and the other a Navy ship ran by civilians were hijacked by South Vietnamese military, when they found the ships were taking them to Phuc Quac island, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand that had been designated by the Saigon government as the place to take refugees since everywhere else was too crowded. Many of these military people were deserters who left their posts when the Communist offensive got to close to them.

Meanwhile, at Phuc Quac island, on the other ships, the situation worsened. The South Vietnamese government was not allowing the people to leave the ships fast enough and the people began running out of food and water. One effort to bring food aboard on of the ships only caused a mass riot, killing five people by crushing them. On one ship, South Vietnamese soldiers killed civilians to get their food. The situation could have been controlled if the South Vietnam government would have taken off the people as planned. But when trying to get the South Vietnamese navy to help, their response was of unconcern.

In order to keep the refugees from starving to death, the US Navy rushed food to the people. They also set up Marine detachments on some of the ships to keep order. But this did not stop the treachery of the South Vietnamese military. When the Marines backs were turned, they stole food from the people. Some of them even cut a hole in the fresh water hose line bring water to the place where it was being distributed and sold the water at black market prices. Quite a few people got so desperate that they began ripping boards off from different places on the ship and using them as rafts to swim to shore. Twenty or thirty of these people were shot in cold blood by the South Vietnamese gunboats stationed in the area.

By the time this article is finished, their government might have already fallen. At first, I thought that it was our fault that these people are in this plight, but after seeing what I saw, I realized it was no one faults but their own. How can you help someone that doesn't want to help themselves.

A friend of mine talked with one of the soldiers on our ship and asked him why they weren't fighting back. His return was that the US did not give them enough fuel and ammunition. I don't know about the fuel, but we confiscated enough ammunition, rifles, and grenades from the soldiers who boarded the ship (some that we found later to be deserters) to supply a considerable larger group of soldiers than that which boarded us.

Now, I am not writing this to make any comments on the right or wrong way to handle this situation in Vietnam. My only purpose is to let people know what one man saw.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Golfing with Frank and Ron.....and Bill

A few weeks back, I wrote about my experience at an Alice Cooper concert. That experience was talked about the next morning on air at the Twins by my old friend, Ron Alvarez. It got me thinking of a previous adventure that we had shared a few years back.

Let me preface this with how Ron and I first met and how important that meeting was to the development of Jake's Diner.

When Jake's first opened, I told Jake that we could not fill it with truckers alone. We just had too many seats. He gave me a budget to work with and I began developing a marketing plan for the diner. One of the arms of that plan was radio. I wanted an ad that was different. I was looking for something that would stand out and that would stick in the listeners mind. So, I listened to the ads that were presently out. The one that I was most impressed with was the 'Doctor Al and Doctor Bob' commercial for Bend Heating. I looked for the developer of that ad and was directed to Ron who was then working for the new KNLR radio.

I went to KNLR to meet with Ron and we discovered that we went to the same church. Ron was doing the soup kitchen for the church at the time so in order for us to talk and work on the development of our ads, he asked me if I would like to run the kitchen with him. Ron would run the kitchen part and I would run the floor.

My youngest daughter, Trinity, was around five or so and quite a talker. She had asked if she could work with me so she began joining me at the kitchen. Ron and I were standing in the kitchen talking when Trinity came barging in rambling on about something that had just happened out on the floor. Ron and I looked at one another and I think we might have had the same thought at the same time. "What do you think?", I asked him. "Bring her in to the studio and lets see.", he returned. By this time, Ron had moved on to the newly formed KQAK.

This began the sequence of ads that ran for years and became one of the foundations for the development of the diner. Ron played the voice of the old man and Trinity was the talkative and sometimes annoying little girl. Those ads lasted for quite a few years until Trin's voice began to change and they no longer had the same effect. And as the ads developed so did my relationship with Ron. To this day, Ron produces every radio ad that I have.

That being said, a few years back, I tried to get Ron to join me in the yearly Combined Communications golf tourney. Ron had never golfed before but was willing to try anything once. The tourney that year was postponed because of a storm and so the radio station allowed us to golf on our own later on in the season. So, Ron met me and my buddy, Frank Patka out at Widgy Creek one October afternoon for Ron's first and last golfing experience.

We started off and soon realized that since it was Ron's first time and also because Frank and I are not the best golfers, we needed to do a best ball type of round. We actually kept up pretty well until I believe the 10th hole. As we putted, the ball dropped behind the green and I told the guys that it was time that we pulled over and let the group behind us hit through.

We sat in our carts at the beginning of the short 11th hole and waited. Two carts soon arrived. The second cart had a very tall black man sitting in it. "That is Bill Russell.", I whispered over to Frank and Ron in the other cart. "No, we think that it is Danny Glover.", came the answer. We argued back and forth as the other group began to set up to drive. Bill is a lefty so he had his back to us as he began his preparation. Just as he was beginning his back swing, Frank belted out, "Excuse me, are you Bill Russell?". Bill dropped his club and turned. "Yes.", was the reply and we watched in awe, almost dumb struck as he made his drive. He actually muffed his first hit quite possibly from our interruption so his partner gave him a mulligan and his next was much better. We all got to shake his hand and wish him well and I secretly kicked myself for having not brought my camera that day (the shot here was from the tourney that was cancelled).

As we made our shots and went down to the green, Ron found a marker close to where Bill's ball had hit. "I have Bill Russell's ball marker.", he announced. On the next hole, I found a tee sitting in front of a fresh divot that only a lefty could have made. "I have Bill Russell's tee.", I announced. Not to be left out, Frank reached down and picked something up off of the grass. "Wasn't Bill chewing gum?", he asked.

Just as the Alice Cooper experience, the next morning the story became fodder for Ron's popular morning show. To the best of my knowledge, Ron has never swung a club since but has quite a story to go along with his only experience.