Monday, December 21, 2009

If We Make It Through December

This song really has some deep rooted meaning for me. I try to go along with the merriment of the season, knowing full well that the only thing to celebrate is the birth of Christ. Seems I'm always expecting some sort of tragedy to fall in the month of December.

Years come and go but somehow I can never shake the memories of loosing the love of my life and the mother of my children just days before the big season in 1976. I'm kinda like chicken little waiting for the sky to fall. Oh, sure there have been many joyful times since then and I've been blessed with new and extended families but the beast of past never leaves my mind. This year is starting out kinda bah hum bug, not only is the economy bad, a granddaughter who is
expecting is having difficulties carrying and a grandson was just rushed to the hospital with appendicitis.
Wouldn't it be nice to turn back the years and leave all the worries behind? Being a kid in Colorado and the only thing to worry about was how to keep warm. I didn't even mind getting frost bite while searching for just the right tree to chop down or gathering pine cones to make wreaths to ship to sunny California folks.
Here's wishing all my friends , family and readers of this blog, a joyous season and a Happy New Year. My wish for all is good health, peace and love shared to one another.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Looking Back

On my last trip to Pagosa while trying to re-trace landmarks where I once enjoyed nature in its glory, my heart was crushed to find nothing resembled those special places. The place where I once skinny dipped with friends had been transformed into a place for tourist to pollute the river and build condos along the river bank. "Cotton's Hole" as we knew it was not longer a place for youngsters to learn to swim, spear mud suckers with hand made willow spears and pocket knifes or steal a first kiss from the girl next door.

Mesa Heights as I knew it decades ago gave many youngsters a thrill parking on the hill overlooking the town,listening to some romantic tune while embrassing your sweetheart. This hilltop now is a serene setting for some lucky homeowners to have a daily
view of the beauty down below. The sawmill that once provided much employment to the area is long gone. The smoke from its smoke stake could be seen from the top this hill. This was where highway 160 and 89 separated and was also a favorite parking place for teenage lovers.

While visiting and reminiscing I was thrilled to enjoy sharing an evening of bingo with folks from my era, even got to meet one of my old school teachers there. My brother being very active in the local American Legion helps with the activities there. I was amazed to find the old building so well kept but my mind kept having flash backs of the days that building was the local Teen Canteen, home of the duck tail haircuts, saddle shoes and poodle skirts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Reason for the Season

Once again old father time has marched into the land of young just to remind us all that our time here is only on borrowed time and the only insurance for longevity is to love one another.
With the economy being on the down side, I ventured out into the local shopping mall to attempt putting a gift or two under the tree. What would have been a nerve wrecking trip in past was quite pleasant. Since I am not the only penny pincher looking for a bargain, the other souls though few, seemed in good spirits. The few things I managed to find worthy of resting under a beautifully decorated tree, I would have been embarrassed to claim in years past.
Reading scriptures related to advent and the coming of the real reason for the season I was taken back in time with my thoughts. Remembering when Christ was really the center of festivities and decorations, and local merchants greeted with a "Merry Christmas" and political correctness was never considered with Happy Holiday replacing the birth of Christ.
Growing up in a poor family in Colorado, only two Christmas's stand out. One was a year when my most treasured gift was a basket of fresh fruit, the other was a time I got a Roy Rogers outfit complete with guns and holsters. Expensive gadgets escaped my youth and I seemed to have survived, living with a land line telephone, a Philco radio with laughter and suspense coming out of speakers that only my mind could visualize, a brownie Kodak camera, a 35 cent movie ticket or a gallon of gas for about the same price.
As years have come and gone I tried to instill some the values of life handed down to me into my own children, but like the pied piper of stuff they have all fallen in line and at times I'm sure have forgotten the real reason for the season.
When driving down the road in the comfort of our shiny automobiles and burning $3:00 gas and seeing some poor soul standing in freezing weather on the corner with a cup in hand. do we curse and say what a lazy bum or do we wonder if maybe he just lost his job or had his home forclosed. Perhaps the change in our pockets could put a little nurisment in a belly or help find a warm place to sleep on the eve of the reason for the season

Thursday, November 26, 2009


With a turkey and all the trimmings on the table this day of Thanksgiving I had to pause and think just what in the heck am I really thankful for. After eight plus years this country is still fighting wars in foreign lands, the rich are getting richer, the poor getting poorer, jobs have disappeared, rents are too high, banks are closing, crime is rising, yet there must be something to be thankful for!
After filling my belly from a bountiful feast that I will surely hate myself at next months bill paying time for. I looked back into my memory bank and realized how truly blessed I am and gave thanks to the lord above and asked for forgiveness for being so negative. Lets see now, I am thankful for surviving a near death event, for my three wonderful daughters, a loving wife, a roof over my head (as long as I can pay rent) most of all for all the love I receive from my family and friends.
While traveling down my memory lane I recall that Thanksgiving seldom meant a Turkey on the table for my family, we were lucky to get a Chicken. My most memorable Thanksgiving was in the 1950's when a family friend who owned a mom and pop store in Pagosa Springs , invited me to go with him on a hunt for a Turkey. This was not a hunt in the super market but an actual hunt in the woods. After hours of trying to quietly stalk though the leaves on the ground without making a sound my teeth were chattering from the cold, I was hoping to just go home and settle for a chicken. Mr. Whitefield began blowing into some sort of gadget that sounded like a turkey gobbling and soon we heard a real turkey answer back. Well, we got our turkey and that was the first Thanksgiving I remember eating turkey on this wonderful holiday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

God Bless Our Vets

Each year at this time when Veterans day rolls around it brings memories of the days I served. I was lucky never to have seen combat but like to think I was well trained and prepared if the time came when I would be called to lay down my life. The photo here is the wooden hull minesweeper that I called home for four years. Although my time aboard the "Reaper" was during the cold war, there were times when we had our nerves rattled a little. Once while patrolling the waters near Korea we were able to blow up a mine left from the Korean conflict and one time while practicing maneuvers with the Chinese, their air force mistook our mine sweeping gear as targets and began firing at us. There was always the issue of weather and rough seas like typhoon Emma that almost destroyed our sister ship in Japan and as we rode out the storm we lost our mast and fuel stored in barrels on the fan tail.
Now the sea legs have become land grabbers and shades of Grey have crept up on the top, my chest has fallen into my drawers but my pride has only grown deeper for those young men and women who are giving it all for our freedom. Its not only those youngsters who as so dedicated but the older vets of the American Legion and VFW who give there time and talents to aid their fellow man. One of those dedicated souls is my brother who, although he had to end his Naval career with the loss of a leg still devotes most his time to helping veterans and his local American Legion.

Friday, October 30, 2009


This old house was not just lumber and nails it was a treasure chest that held the memories of pioneers, teachers, Moms and Dads, brothers and sisters, yes it was my treasure chest. A place where ear aches were cured with warm towels warmed in a cast iron stove and gently stoked with the hands of a worried Mother. A place where real buried treasure was found between the many layers of wall covering and early tokens from local merchants of days when the stagecoach rolled across the San Juan's, lay in the ground underneath. The old chicken coup also held its own treasures, found between the walls was a 1879 Springfield rifle barrel without the stock.
This was a gathering place for high school boys and girls to bring their friends and be part of our family. No one ever need worry about a place to warm their hands on a cold snowy day or place to lay their head to rest as long as the Willett's lived there.
A room in back served as my Dad's printing shop, a place where he felt at peace no matter the time of day. For a time there was a chicken coup out back but gave way to a place to park a car, called a garage. As young boy, I once thought it would be brave to steal a chicken or two but figured the safest hunt would be in my own back yard. Dad told me years later of watching my antics from the window upstairs. Once he even watched me attempt to get out of a ditch in front where new water pipes were being laid, he never told my Mother of his drunk son trying to get home.
Christmas in the 1950's and 60's were always filled with joy around this old house. Months and years of Mother and Dad searching and designing just the right yard decoration to put in the yard for the enjoyment of all who passed by always brought some new excitement to Lewis street. Nothing was put out that was not hand made except for the lighting.
The old house became quite lonely as time passed, my brothers and I all became sons of Uncle Sam and set out to protect this country from what ever evil lurked. Even though the folks were left alone they always found some one in need of place to stay and took in a young girl to live with them until she finished high school.
Seeing the changes that have taken place leaves very little resemblance to the place I grew up, its amazing what money can do, my only regret is that my parents never reached the mountain top of wealth to enjoy the grandeur in their last years.
The old home is now a bed and breakfast, listed on the web as,

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rocky Mountian High

It was nice to return my roots not as a disgruntled ex resident but as a tourist out to enjoy the beauty of this wonderful country. One of the reasons I wanted to venture back to the San Juan mountains of Colorado was visit my older brother and to visit the family plot where my other brother was recently laid to rest.
Our first night on the road found us in Flagstaff AZ where after feasting on some of the best home cooking at the Cracker Barrel restaurant we settled in at the near by Econo Lodge. The following day we stopped by the four corners monument to take a few snapshots of the place where four states meet. We were then on our way to Durango Co. where we were looking forward to an adventure of riding the narrow guage railroad train to Silverton.
Although I had ridden the train many years ago I really didn't recollect what was in store on the journey. It was a cool fall morning as we waited along with all the other tourists to board a train back into the past. We were seated in a car named the "San Juan" witch was really appropriate for this area. AS the old train whistle began to sound the departure and the smoke and steam began to rise, our anxiety also rose. The old locomotive slowly pulled away and headed out towards the mountains with a back and forth motion that would shake our insides for another three hours.
Like so many others aboard our eyes were focused on all the splendor of the changing colors of the landscape. With our cameras snapping as many scenes as we could capture, each mile became more beautiful. As the old train made its way along the mountain wall with rivers and gorges below we were at awe how such a feat could be accomplished to lay the tracks in such a place.
The little of town Silverton was a bustling place, awaiting the arrival of all the tourist to spread their money around. Since only a two hour lay over is allotted between train departures the local restaurants witch appear to be many are rushing to feed the hungry travelers.
Our next adventure took us to my home town roots of Pagosa Springs. The little town I once called home was now a city with all the amenities of any large city along with price tag. Our old home is now a Bed and Breakfast, its a beautiful place now with hardly any resemblance of the past. We enjoyed visiting with family and touring the area, even took photos of deer that have decided its better to live in town. My brother is very much involved with the American Legion and we took in a bingo game with him where he was charge of the concessions.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Black N White (Photos)

Here I go daydreaming again, looking back into the past when my Sundays were spent with my Mom, Dad, and grandparents. After church we would all pile into my grandfathers old Nash and go for an afternoon drive to enjoy the beauty of the San Juan mountains in Colorado. There were no such things as digital cameras but Frank (grandpa) always had his trusty old Kodak along. I can still imagine smelling his King Edward cigars as he drove along with only the side wing window open. My Mother was always the one to yell out, "there goes a deer under those trees" and when the car stopped we all would climb out to see how many we could count. The elk posted in the above photo was a time when the poor animal got bogged down in the snow with his heavy antlers.
Thanks to some caring cowboys the poor thing was pulled out and given a bale of hay before sending him on his way.

Although Frank was the only grandfather I ever knew he was really a step grandfather but I followed him around and thought he was the greatest thing since RED RYDER. Frank was a carpenter by trade but also an avid outdoors man, he taught so many things about the wilderness and the values of honest labor. I watched and worked beside him as he built my grandmother a house from old lumber and nails from building he had torn down. Each nail was old, but with a brick, hammer and sore fingers I straightened them all. When I would try to slow down he would say to me that I would never amount to a hill of beans. Funny how such things will stick in the brain, I think that's what drove me to try my best at what ever life handed me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


My dad really did go to school although I think he too was forced to leave at an early age and go to work. The stories he would tell was like sitting down in front of the radio and hearing a mystery unfold and constantly waiting for the big climax. The stories he would tell to my brothers and I kept us mesmerized, how he ran from home and began to ride the rails with hobos, the time he got into a boxing ring to spar with prize fighters to earn money to eat on or the time he drove a getaway car for gangsters. I can't say for sure if these tales were true of just his way of entertaining us. Without much education Dad always found a way to earn a living and raise a family. One of the longest tenures of employment was as a projectionist in movie theaters,having his own business as a painter of houses and signs and finally a printing business he ran from home.
There are times like now when I wish I had his talents with printing and the equipment. My faithful Epson printer is on its last leg. After spending a load of cash on ink cartridges I get a message saying that internal parts are beyond service and its now time to buy a new printer.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What's The Season

Its getting harder each day to tell what season of the year it is. While cruising through the big box store the other day I noticed all these scary things glaring at me and begging for me to touch or buy. then a few isles further I heard Christmas carols and saw blinking lights indicating Christmas was near.
Still another display was begging for me to go camping or big game hunting, oh my how confusing for an old man who can't remember if he took his Geritol in the morning. Its no wonder my sneakers are beginning to show a tinge of yellow and the zipper is needing wd40.
Reminiscing back to my youth and the way the witching season of Halloween was celebrated was much different than the way it is today. We didn't have all the manufactured scary stuff and had to think of our own mischief. A ghost of long ago only required an old bed sheet and a bottle of ketchup and a trick when candy was not supplied might just be to have your clothes line cut or out house tipped over.There were a few times when I came home smelling like the last rose of spring from missing a step while pushing over an out house.
I have to admit that I really enjoy seeing today's generation put their utmost effort into scaring the daylight out of everyone with their imagination. I was recently honored when my grandson invited me join his haunting club and his sharing photos of his horror objects,like the new zombie baby.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fires, Floods, Bigotry

Smoke still fills the sky, hundred year old water mains are flooding homes and businesses and the air waves are filled bigotry. What a way to celebrate the land of the free and home of the jobless.

There was a time when a child in school would be honored to hear the President of the United States encouraging them to work hard to achieve their dreams. Many years ago when I was a youngster in school such a speech may have saved me from being a drop out with a brand of troublemaker to follow me. The one thing I did learn not only from my teachers but my parents was to respect and most of all the President of the United States regardless of the color of his skin. Although I chose to leave school instead of being chastised for my mistakes I learned from my military experience to respect my leaders,elected officials,elders,and most of all that all blood runs the same color. Only in a country as great as this can one serve his country, go back and get educated and live on a social security program that was fought against just as hard as today's health care.

I don't assume to have answers to the worldly problems,but I can agree that things are really in a mess and it didn't get this way in six or nine months of an election. Mistakes have been made in both political parties for decades and neither can repair the damage as long as neither will trust the other but the latest rash of attacks are really making me one sad American citizen.
Lets face the fact that if the President had a different color of skin the name calling and decent would be much less.

These are only my views and I wouldn't try to force them on any one, I can listen, read, analyze, and hopefully chose a respectful attitude to those who see things differently.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Nothing seems to be as relaxing as sitting on a bench watching the waves gently roll up to kiss the sand on the beach. Gone are the days when swimsuits and sunburns were the uniform of the day and transistor radios blaring out tunes like "Lets do the twist', Good Golly Miss Molly" kept us dancing in the sand.
One way I love to reminisce is to sit with the love of my life on a bench with the replacement for our old transistor radio, this thing called and IPOD and let it take us back in time with the tunes we loved so long ago. Since I have these gadgets in my ears called hearing aids, I can't use the ear buds so we take along our docking station so we both can enjoy the sounds.
Its amazing how many people stroll by and hear our music and stop, if just for a moment and maybe do a dance step or two. If they happen to be walking their dog. it gives them an excuse to let the animal rest a spell.
As Bob Hope said "Thanks For The Memories", its so nice to have such memories captured that we can have in our treasure chest of dreams. Each tune that plays is like having a slide show in motion going through the brain as I recall the era, the place and with whom I loved each song. Oh, I know today's generation love the music they have even if I can't understand or relate to any of the screaming, I can't help but wonder if fifty years if they will be able to serenade the love of their live with a special lyric they fell in love to.
With all the turmoil going on in this old world, if you want a really relaxing day, try shutting out the negative news media, politics, or personal woes and head for the beach or some secluded place and let your mind go back to a time of happiness with some good old fashioned music!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Random Thoughts

The world has lost another Hero, one of the few politicians who really cared about the less fortunate even though his family was blessed with wealth. The country will truly miss Ted Kennedy just as much as his brothers who have gone before him. It will be a great task to find one to fill his shoes who can reach across the isle and persuade the Republican party to have compassion for the sick, poor, and elderly. My prayers go out the Kennedy family and all who mourn this country's loss.

"The minute you read something that you can't understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer."

On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does.
Will Rogers

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.
Franklin D. Roosevelt,

Today my prayers also go to Carleen, who is going through another surgery. This girl has endured more pain and suffering than most of us will ever know. She never complains, like she says you just deal with what God puts on your plate. She must get her strength and courage from her Mother or from that strong sole standing by her side, the so called'Egyptian Dude'. I can truly understand this strength for I am proud to say that the rock she leans on is my son-in-law.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Then and Now

While exploring the thought of returning to my roots, I decided to look up the latest advertising gimmicks for the old home town. The first search lead me to the Pagosa Sun newspaper, this paper has been the local news media there for over 50 years. A printing once a week keeps the locals informed of all the progress and activities in the town and surrounding areas. The headline that caught my attention was about a new Hotel that was constructed near the hot springs which read "10 million dollar hotel owned by who?" The web site for the hot springs displays some beautiful photographs of the resort and the new hotel which has a base rate of approx. 250.00 a night, something I could never have dreamed of as a youngster there fifty years ago. The story goes on to explain that several of the contractors who built this extravagant place have not been paid and have placed liens against it. The photos I have included here show the way the springs were when my family arrived there in 1945 and the way it was when I left home. The water in the spring is supposed to be the world's biggest and hottest mineral spring. Its a place where as a young teen I attempted to dunk a stolen chicken in to remove the feathers and only a skinless carcass was left.
It seems strange that I can no longer afford to visit my childhood romping grounds where the hills and streams were as God had made and the animals did not need to depend on garbage from residents to survive. Pagosa is still a beautiful place but plan on taking a life's savings if you plan on visiting for any period of time.
Politics,Politics, I sure get fed up with all hipe on the television over this medical reform thing. Personally I think everyone should be entitled to first class medical attention. I don't think the government trying to help the less fortunate is being a socialist, after all I thought the government included all citizens of this country. I may be wrong but I thought Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA were government run programs but no one calls them socialist.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saving Yesterdays

Along with my scrap booking project I decided to dive into my Adobe program and attempt making a slide show of the lives of my two brothers and myself. From a very early age I have always wanted to be just like my older siblings although two years separated each of us.
My oldest brother would have rather not have a little brat brother following in his tracks. He had some strange ways of showing his brotherly love for me. There was the time he invented a little game called "grab the treasure" where all his friends or any kid in the neighborhood could join in. The only requirement was that what ever each individual treasurer-ed, items such as pocket knifes, marbles, balls of string, chewing gum, spinning tops, etc. would all be place in one pile. A bucket then placed on top and everyone would go hide and count to a hundred then run as fast as possible to grab all the treasure under the bucket when big brother lifted it. No one knew that as we all hide our eyes he replaced all the treasures with slimy garbage and somehow he made sure I would be the first to get to the bucket. Once when we lived in Texas as I was just a bare foot child he made a dummy of old clothes, stuck a knife in it and poured catsup over it to scare me.
As we grew older and both had jobs working in the local theater in Pagosa Springs Colordado, he ran the projectors and I took tickets. I couldn't understand why every Sunday matinee some one would be waiting to fight me, as I found out later my dear brother was taking bets with the local kids to see who could beat me up.
The middle brother "Jerry" was always my best friend and we tried to be each others care taker. He was my mentor when I tried to keep up with the older boys on the football team and covered up for my bad behavior so my parents wouldn't find out.
When the two brothers left home and joined the Navy my heart was broken and I felt so abandoned. With no one left to keep me out of trouble, I found plenty to get into and broke my Mother's heart, I'm sure. As I tried once more to follow in their footsteps, I joined the Navy too, and my basic training took me to Great Lakes where brother Jerry was in trade school. He was there throughout my boot camp and helped me learn the Navy way of doing things. Upon completion of my basic training, I was assigned to a minesweeper that just happened to be the same one my oldest brother was on and we served together for two years.
I hope that as I complete this endeavor and leave a photo record it may be enjoyed by those I leave behind.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


While searching for some sort of hobby to occupy this old mind I decided to make another attempt at scrap booking. I remembered as a child how I loved to visit my Grandmother, this was a period of time when televisions were unheard of. We spent our treasured visits by siting in front of the old Philco radio and listening to stories like "Fiber McGee and Molly", or her telling stories of her youth. Other times I would sit on the floor in her bedroom and empty the bottom drawer of her dresser which held a treasure full of photographs. Yesterday while going through stacks of old photos handed down to me I drifted back to those special moments and still wondered just who the folks were in some of her old photos, the trials and tribulations these people went through somehow has given us hope over many years.
What wonderful progress has been made over the years to preserve our treasured past, things like visual recordings and digital photos. I recall how excited my father was when he acquired a box full of glass negatives made in the the early 1900s and was able to bring to life the images, now images are stored on computer disks that one day will be obsolete and children will no longer be able to thumb through stacks of family history or hold in their hands images of their ancestors.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Its been a one heck of a week and although I was looking for restful period the nerves feel like they have been through an 8.0 earthquake.
Things started out quite peaceful even knowing I could not make the trip to Colorado to see my Brother's ashes put into the family plot. Our youngest grand daughter was performing in a Cinderella ballet in Old Town Temecula and since her parents had purchased advance tickets for the family it was a must to show up. Not only was it important to be there for the show, the following Monday was a memorial service for our Son-in-laws Mother.
Knowing that we needed to spend the three days away from home I decided to take advantage of "Free" hotel rooms at the fabulous Harrah's Rincon Casino. The room was beautiful even though it was in the middle of nowhere. Since I'm not an accredited gambler I stick to slot machines that scream with video displays when you win something. It's really amazing how fast those colorful little gadgets can suck up a twenty dollar bill! After letting one machine tease me for a couple hours it was time to look for food. Off to the Buffet we go and check out the price, Wow!, $20 a piece, not me! I don't mind feeding a slot machine but it don't take that much to fill me up. Maybe it's cheaper at the "Cafe"; it is but only by a fraction, by the time I pay the tab and tip I could have eaten in the Buffet.
Back to our own little castle we were ready for some real nap times if we can get the fans to cool us off. Doctor appointment for the wife sent her to have CT scan to see if her kidney is manufacturing more stones. Called my Dr. for results of biopsy done on my face to learn I have to schedule an appointment for follow up. Today was the day of reckoning with the dermatologist and report not good. Cancer showed up in both places only one requires that I see a plastic surgeon to cut up my cheek. At this point in my life I don't know if want to just put a bag over my head or go see a lawyer and make out a will.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Just when I thought the summer would be mine to enjoy as I see fit, one appointment after another keeps me tied to roaming my own area. This aging thing is really for the birds. After having a dermatologist dig in my face and leaving my completion looking like the craters on the moon, I called to get the results of the biopsy only to learn I have to go through the whole procedure again.
Politics, politics! I get so tired of all the politics playing out on the media. Everyone gives their two cents worth of commentary on the need for health care reform but no one knows what reform really is. Until those fat cats sitting in Washington have to survive on what most of the senior citizens on social security have to live on, they will never understand the suffering. No one wants the government to run health care; that would be socialized medicine so they say. Lets see now. is medicare socialized medicine, how about the VA, is that socialized medicine, how about state sponsored aid programs?
RACIAL PROFILING? Seems to me no matter what stature a person has even being a Harvard professor doesn't warrant the rage displayed over a police officer attempting to do his duty. Before the media puts video footage and statements over the air ways I think it would be helpful if the whole story was investigated first. It just might be that tempers were ignited unnecessarily.
These people who are called birthers, can they really be so stupid as to question the birth of our President. If any person in the US requests a copy of birth certificate I doubt that they can get the original document.
The second amendment is constantly being debated and the NRA would have every citizen armed with AK 47s, carry concealed weapons and shoot when confronted or shoot it out like Billy The Kid and WYATT EARP. Growing up in Colorado where big game hunting is popular and the kill is usually put on someones table, I think guns for that purpose is great. Being the victim on more than one occasion where a gun was placed to my temple and my belongings taken from me, I truly think I would be dead had I resisted or tried to pull a gun of my own.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good Eats

Birthdays are fun when its not you getting older! My better half celebrated another revolution on father times clock and the family was kind enough to see that we stuffed ourselves. With so many offspring's we have to split our time between them. One family took us out for lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, where we enjoyed the sea food and ocean view. Later that evening another group took us for Mexican food. The rest of the evening was spent nursing our overloaded guts and watching television.
Looking back into memory vault I am trying to remember just how we survived heat waves in the 50s. Air conditioning was something only the most wealthy would have had. I do remember a water cooled contraption that we had for our car, it sat on the hump between driver and passenger and plugged into the cigarette lighter. It was great for cooling the legs of front seat passengers. Home cooling was a matter of getting a #2 galvanized wash tub and filling it with ice and placing a fan behind it to blow the cool air, worked great as long you didn't move from in front of it.
Those of us who still haven't achieved the luxury of air conditioning or the means to pay for the electricity still rely on some of these old remedies of cooling from the past

Friday, July 17, 2009


Looking in the mirror and seeing this old man looking back at me I think of this song by Tom T. Hall. These lyrics have such a meaningful lesson of what life's treasures really are.

This modern technology such a facebook sure has a way of bringing together old acquaintances. I see pictures of young folks who I knew when all of us were much younger, some were cousins I haven't seen in many years and would never recognize if I passed them on the street. Its nice to see that time has been good to them and blessed them with loving families. As I browse through the listing, reflections of the good times our families shared come to surface in my memory bank. Its nice to know you are not forgotten when an invitation to become friends on facebook pops up and it turns out to be family that you have lost contact with over the years.

With the anniversary of Apollo 11 at hand it brings back memories for me when I first began work in the aerospace industry and worked on the experiments left on the moon by the astronauts. Although there is little praise or recognition for the little sub contractors, I feel honored to have been a small part of history.

Its been a long time since I made a trip back to the town in Colorado where I grew up. My sister-in-law called to let me know she would be taking my brothers ashes there to put in the family plot. When she informed me that she would be staying in a motel close to a "McDonald's" it sent shock waves to my memory bank. The little town has grown up! When I lived there we knew everyone and didn't need a map or street names to find our way around. Now it seems there are many developments, the place has tripled in size and one needs a GPS system to navigate. I complained a lot the last time I visited about the way the land was being taken over with little regard to preservation of natural resources but since I no longer live there I guess I just have to accept the growth of the wealthy newcomers. There are no longer old friends to visit there only my oldest brother, so next time I make the trip it will be as a tourist and I will pretend its my first time and maybe then I'll fit in.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rambling thoughts

This old body required another trip to see another doctor and I came home looking like a clown with spots dotting the face. After months of wondering just when zits or ingrown whiskers would heal and clear up I decided maybe it was time to have them checked out. No conclusions were established but biopsy's were taken and I came home with holes in my face and waiting outcome of lab results.
Getting old has its ups and downs, its great to get discounts on certain venues but as the saying goes "My can do can't keep up with my want to"seems to be more prevalent with each passing day.
With the state of California now issuing IOU's and it appears a mass exodus will soon be taking place, the greed of the wealthy just seems to be expanding. Many elderly and low income families live in Mobile home parks, their home may be paid for but they still have to rent the ground it sits on. If they are lucky they may live in a community that has local government controlled rent control keeping their housing cost within budget. Some of the property owners who are big corporations continually try to overturn rent controls with court battles, causing anxiety and mental stress to the elderly on very low incomes. It becomes more obvious that these corporations would like to round up the elderly, handicapped, and minimum wage earners and march them to the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and watch them fall off.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sad Day Brings Memories

Today was spent glued to the television choking back tears as I absorbed the love poured out to the world for an amazing entertainer and humanitarian. Too often we as a public are bombarded with celebrity innuendo from media spell casters and are swept away in their spell. I too for years had doubt and negative thoughts about Micheal Jackson, but as his love and charitable givings was poured out on the stage of his memorial tribute my heart melted.
I could not help feeling the pain his family was going through, it brought back painfull memories of the family members I have lost through the years. The most recent loss was by best friend, my mentor, my Brother.
Jerry was my eldest by two years, we were always the best of friends and never ashamed to tell each other how much we loved one another. He was my tutor in grade school, my body guard in high school and my buddy in the Navy. Our cowboy playing days in the hills of good old Pagosa often found us on opposite sides. Jerry always wanted to be the good guy with the white hat and I would be the outlaw or Indian. One day while acting out our roles, Jerry hide behind the old out house and as he peeked around the corner to shoot me with his rubber band pistol, I let him have it between the eyes with my Red Ryder Daisy BB gun. Luckily the BB only glanced off his forehead but left him a tell all sign for my dad to see.
Many times when I would be trounced on by some bully in school Jerry would be right there to pull them off. When he left to join the Navy my heart was broken. Oh, I had a few friends I could hang out with but no one watche over me like my big bro. as a result I managed to get myself into trouble. As soon I could get old enough to join the Navy I too left good old Pagosa. I was really surprised when I learned my basic training would be in Great Lakes, Il. Thats where Jerry was going to training school, when he found out I was there he came to visit me often and of course help through the rough periods.
Whenever his ship and mine entered into any naval port the word would get around that the Willett boys were in town! Jerry's ship was in the Atol Islands when the A bomb was tested in operation Redwing and he stood on the deck as the mushroom cloud rose into the sky.
Jerry suffered for a long time with lung problems COPD and passed away in 2008, time goes by slowly when a broken heart is mending and I hope mine soon will, it has taken time with the loss of my parents and my first wife. The old heart is full of scars from days of sorrow just as I know the hearts of the Jackson family will be.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bad Economy?

Looks to me like we may be heading down the road to the past. Never thought I'd live to see the day this country would be in such sorry shape.
I remember when such luxuries as have tokens or ration stamps to put a meal on the table was a real blessing.
Many times my father would glue a piece of rubber from an old tire inner tube to the sole of my shoe to cover the hole. A chicken on Sunday meant the Lord had blessed our family again, we ate so many chickens that my father refused to eat that bird when time got better. Every member in my family worked and contributed to the family budget. My first job in 1951 when we lived in Texas for awhile was to haul popcorn in a wagon from the the "White" theater to the "Colored" one two blocks away. The Colored theater was for Blacks and Hispanics, the Hispanics had to sit in the balcony. I never understood such discrimination. My father was the projectionist, my mother worked the concession stand and my two brothers were ushers. Our weekly pay came in a little coin envelope and we would all empty ours onto the dining room table for my parents to pay bill and buy food. This lesson carried over to our move to Colorado until dad gave up the theater work and started his own business and my mother began working in the bank.
I hope these lessons of days gone by will help me as I struggle in my old age to stretch my social security dollars between a roof over my head and medicine never mind eating, guess I could loose some weight anyway.

I Miss Red Ryder!

July 4th celebrations bring back fond memories for me as I grew up in this small town in Colorado. Pagosa was the home of a famous artist and cartoonist by the name of Fred Harman. Fred created the "Red Ryder and Little Beaver characters, his comic books and stories also became movies and of course all little boys would want to emulate him. I am so proud that I grew up not only knowing him but his first side kick to play "Little Beaver" was a classmate of mine in grade school. My family knew him well and my father who owned a little printing shop would print his stationary for him. In 1949 the first July 4th celebration to honor him was named the "Red Ryder Roundup." Red Ryder and Little Beaver would lead the parade down the main street of this little town and along the parade route people from all over would stand elbow to elbow to get a glimse of the famous cowboy.
The afternoon would be highlighted by a rodeo santioned by the RCA and leading contenders would compete for the top cowboy award. This celebration continues today with Fred's son who owns a museum there and as the population has grown so has the celebration.
Oh, I enjoy the tasty barbeques and the flashing of fireworks lighting the night sky but those memories of days gone by still brings a tear to these old eyes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

God Bless America

Before we fire up a barbecue or watch fireworks light up the sky, lets all take a moment to remember just why! Lets remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy. Look around and see if there isn't a gray headed being next to you who may have served this country is some small way, perhaps they didn't serve in military or stood on some political soap box. They just might be the policeman, fireman, teacher or ordinary taxpayer but all have contributed to what we enjoy today. Those who have wealth and security should be congratulated but those who gave all in labor, treasure, and tears should not be condemned.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Proud Father

Just when you think your life's contributions have gone unnoticed or appreciated little words or deeds come your way that just melt your heart. This is what happen to me on Fathers day with my daughter Carleen. On Saturday I tired to surprise her by giving her a doll to replace one she treasured as a child and I thew away when it seemed that the poor thing had seen its last day.
On Fathers day she returned the love by honoring me on her blog with the most beautiful tribute a father could ever hope for. The words expressed were like a sonnet that could be sung by choirs of angels. She is so talented in the literature field, its hard to believe we share DNA.
I love all my girls and we have traveled many roads full of pot holes, laughed, cried and screamed at one another from time to time but each in our way give our love that knows no boundary. My dad once told me that any man can be a father but it takes a good woman to make him a good one. Now I know what he meant I could never have succeeded as a father without the love of their Mother, May she rest in peace.
The past week was spent baby sitting a pair of cats and house sitting for my Step Daughter who lives in Temecula. Their family had to make a trip to Penn. to attend a memorial service for my Step Son's Mother.
Temecula is an old west type of town in San Diego county, the buildings there resemble the 1800s and has many Antique shops and tourist attractions. On of the main attractions in the area is the wineries and Indian Casinos that resemble Las Vegas. One of my favorite Casinos is "Pala," where one of the oldest Missions in California still has service and a school in operation. The Casino just opened a new Buffet which seats 630 people and has the best varity of food I have ever had in any Buffet.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Silent Thoughts

I think everyone should have roll models in their life and these are three of mine, My dad and my two brothers. Some times when we look at our family tree we don't realize how strong the roots are until some of the branches wither and die. Although my father only acquired an eighth grade education, he never forgot the value of faith, hard work and family devotion.

As I look back over the years and wonder just what legacy has been left to me, I can only see the devotion of love of family, country, honesty and faith. I didn't need wealth of monetary value handed down to realize my wealth in love.

When my maker calls me home I wonder if the roots of this old family tree will flourish or if it is time to uproot the stump. This old barn reminds me of my life, it has stood firmly over years and sheltered its contents, and holds so many memories of good times and bad.

Friday, June 5, 2009

a little reunion

Today was a joyful reunion with old family friends. Dick and Jeanne Taft are here visiting their kids and grand kids. We all met at Mimis cafe in Torrance for breakfast, his daughter "Vickie" came along. We had a good time reminiscing about the good old days and wishing we could all turn back the years. Remembering the good time we shared when we all lived in Lawndale, Dick and I shared the duties of Boy Scout leaders while Jeanne and Anita (my dear departed wife) took care of girl scouts.
Here we are forty plus years since we were all in good health and enjoying watching our families grow. Now Dick is dealing with a pace maker, diabetes, and recoving from prostate cancer, I've had surgery on both ears, back surgery and a new hip. We may not be able to hike the mountains like we used to but the story telling is just as good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Email from my oldest brother confirmed that the big event of putting the other brothers ashes in the ground in Pagosa was canceled. Funny after all these years I never knew when my sister-in-law Betty's birthday was but in the email he mentioned that her birthday is on the 22nd of June and he was looking forward to celebrating that too.
Speaking of birthdays, our grand daughter Marissa just turned ten and we made a trip to Temecula to celebrate. My how birthday parties have changed over the years. Remember when a home made cake and kool-aid was the high lite of the day? I don't know how many kids came to this shindig or how many adults but it was wall to wall people. Dave is quite the chef and prepared a grilled feast. This party even had a theme, "Wicked" named after the play and the eldest grand daughter dressed up as the wicked witch with green make up, she was the hit of the party.
I had a party one year when I was a youngster, only four or five kids came but my Mother took us all the Liberty theater to see "Red Ryder."
Today was the last check up with orthopedic surgeon and I got a clean bill of health on my new bionic hip. Since I've been coughing like I had whooping cough or smoking, I decided to see the family doctor and get checked out, a little congestion in lungs taken care of with regiment of pills. Chest x-ray was good but blood work not so, seems I have to go on low fat diet, triglycerides are out of wack and have to take dose of vitamin D every day.
Guess I better change my ways if I want to keep having Birthday Parties.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Our upcoming trip to Colorado was put on hold yesterday. A phone call from my sister-in-law let me know that they could not make the trip due to Rob's father going to have surgery at the time we planned to make the trip. This trip was going to be to put my Brother's ashes in the family plot and a small service at graveside was planned. Jerry suffered for a long time with COPD, he was a Navy veteran and a veteran grave marker is in place waiting for him.
I had made reservation at a local Motel in Pagosa and when I called to cancel the front desk person did not know about the cancellation refund policy. After a few phone calls and emails I finally got it resolved. In the process of emailing the manager there I learned that she was a long time friend of my family and knew both my brothers and parents quite well. Upon expressing my negative thoughts to the expansion of millionaire mansions and the destruction of the natural landscape in this beautiful place, I learned that the old time residents are just as disappointed as I.
Some day I will have to make a trip back to my roots but will most likely need a map or GPS to find my way around. When I left many ages ago there were no street names, stop lights, and only a few paved roads. That was a time when a traveler needed directions he was told to go so many miles past a land mark such as the springs or down the Piedra road.
I still see in the depths of my memory bank walking down main street and passing men leaning on the railing above the pool hall and being greeting with a smile by and men tipping their hats to ladies passing by. That was time when all the merchants knew you by name and you could run a tab in any store or saloon.

Friday, May 22, 2009


One thing one can do while retired is turn to modern technology and read such things as a blog, its kinda like reading a book in progress. Today in between feeling sorry myself for the aches and pains in the old body and the thought of Memorial Day approaching I took time to read a blog posted by my oldest daughter. As I read and wiped tears between each sentence, memories of her childhood and how she always had her nose in a book came to light. I thought to myself how blessed I have been to have her, her brilliance will forever outshine anything I have achieved in my lifetime.
Memorial day coming up is day of remembering those who gave the their life so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have. It is also a day of remembering those we have loved who my not have died in battle but have devoted they life so that we my have a linage known as family. Each year I make an effort to place flowers upon the little piece of earth that covers those who have gone before me.
In reading the blog I wondered what comforting thoughts could a father give a daughter who seems to always be the one nurturing and teaching the parent. As I make my way to the resting place of her Mother all I can do is pray and give thanks for the gifts she left. I will silently let those who rest know that they can be proud of the fruit their seeds have produced.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

looking back

Looking back at the way the economy in Pagosa was handled when I was a young boy. My grandparents owned this little grocery store in 1945, not only was it the place to buy groceries and heating fuel it also served as a place of worship and home for my parents and three boys. Many residents with limited income could come into the Wayside grocery and purchase their needs with only signature of good faith to pay whatever they could on the first of the month. Those who still fell short of funds could trade with goods grown on their farm.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What God has given, man has taken for his own treasure chest. This hot springs once called the worlds largest and hottest was once a site for all to visit and enjoy. Now man has changed, added, deleted the natural environment to attract those willing to spend, spend, spend! The San Juan River that runs through this little town used to be a place for fishing, swimming and local drinking water, Now man has decided that God is not a qualified landscaper and the waterways would better serve the residents as a thrill ride for those who have the money ride man made waves.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blue Monday

Just another exciting day in the land of old folks. Took the car in for service today to get ready for trip to Bakersfield on Thursday to celebrate Mothers day with Cookies Mom. With the economy the way it is all I needed was for a service writer to tell me it was time for the 90000 mile service. Maybe my $800 bucks would help keep GM stay in business but I had to tell him that I had to wait for my stimulus package from Obama.
Thanks to Carleen and her gift of Netflix our afternoons consist of watching soaps or movies then napping until time to nourish the old bod.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lazy Sunday

After admiring the talents of my eldest daughter with her blog I decided to give it a try. This kinda reminds of the way I learned to swim in the San Juan River of Pagosa Springs Colorado, just jump in and if you don't sink you must be swimming.
Today being Sunday, once my body came alive from a night waking to force the joints to open up in my hand or rubbing the ache of a new hip joint, I managed to make it Church on time. There's always a comforting feeling comes over the soul after going to Church. We stopped in at Hoffs Hut for a late breakfast early lunch then proceeded to our 12x60 mansion to keep our Lazy Boy rocker from being lonely.
As the evening approached the old belly began singing the blues so I decided to fire up that new BBQ, actually its a gas grill, don't know why they are called Barbecues. After filling up on Tri-tip and baked potatoes, was ready to curl up and let the world pass me be. Now, don't that sound like an exciting life!