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“Ready, Aim, FIRE!” April 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Life Lessons, Special Events, Travel & Leisure.
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Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

Dad enjoyed his assigned rifle even though “all spare time has to be used to keep our rifles clean.”  In a letter to Aunt Pete and Uncle Webb:

“The rifle is really nice.  It takes an 8-shot clip which can be fired as fast as the trigger can be pulled.  When the 8th shot is fired, the clip is thrown out and the gun remains open ready for another clip to be inserted.  The peep sight has adjustments for both windage and elevation.”

In a letter to his dad at the end of July:

“We have been having more lectures on the rifle.  We spent four hours on adjusting our sights for elevation and windage.  They showed us how to determine the velocity of the wind, how the direction of the wind could be taken into account.  When Garrand invented this rifle, he did a darn good job.”

A highlight of basic training for dad, who had gone deer hunting in Vermont each fall, involved qualifying on the rifle range as an expert on the M1 semi-automatic rifle.  He enjoyed his time on the rifle range, despite having to rise early.  In a letter to his father dated August 5th:

“We are on the rifle range for a few days.  We get up at 2:45 and have reveille at 3:00.  We don’t come back from range till 7:00 P.M.  Then we have to clean equipment.  We will shoot 200, 300, 500 yards.”

Two days later:

“We have had 3 days on the range firing the Garrand semi-automatic rifle (M1).  Today we started firing for record.  We use a 20-inch bulls eye at 500 yards, which is over one quarter of a mile.  I got 5 bulls eyes and 3 4′s which gave me 37 out of 40.”

“At 300 yards, I had 51 seconds to drop from standing to prone position, fire one shot, take clip from cartridge belt, reload and fire 8 more rounds. Out of the 9 shots, I got 5 bulls eyes, 2 4′s and 2 3′s, which totals 39 out of 45.”

“As a total of all my shooting for record I have 109 out of a possible 125 so far.  Tomorrow I will fire 17 more shots from 200 yards ~ a maximum score of 85 points.  We need 180 for expert, 165 for sharpshooter, and 140 for marksman.  It’s time for light’s out so I will finish tomorrow night when I can tell you how I qualified.”

The next night, he finished the letter with good news:

“We finished our time on the rifle range this morning.  Last night, I was a little doubtful whether I could make expert or not.  It meant getting 71 out of 85 points today.  I made it with 3 to spare ~ I got 74 out of 85. My total on record fire was 183 out of 210. That qualifies me as expert.”

“Nine of the shots I fired today were sustained fire (rapid fire).  It was another 51 second exercise.  I had to be standing, go to a sitting position, fire 1 round, insert new clip and fire 8 more.  Of the nine, I got 6 bulls eyes and 3 4′s for a total of 42 out of 45.  Out of the 42 shots fired for record, I got 19 bulls eyes, 19 4′s, and 4 3′s.  Better than I can shoot a 22.”

“Tomorrow morning will be a relief after getting up at 2:45.  We don’t have to get up until 5:00.  Next week we have bayonet drill.  They say that is a hard week, but it looks like fun.  I really should catch up on some sleep.  After all I have had only 5 hours of sleep per night for the last four nights.  Now for the sack.”

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A few days later, on August 10th, he shared an abbreviated version of his qualification experience with Aunt Lucy:

“This week we spent most of our time firing the M1 rifle at targets 200, 300, and 500 yards away. I did pretty good.  We needed 140 to get qualified as marksman, 165 to qualify as sharpshooter and 180 to qualify as expert.  I had 183, so made expert.  I feel pretty good about it.  I really didn’t expect to do nearly that good.

“As of today my training here is half over.  I have finished four of the eight weeks of training.  So far it hasn’t been bad except for the heat. This weekend I have a pass which allows me to go anywhere within 100 miles of the fort as long as I am back by 5 o’clock Monday morning.  I think I may take advantage of it.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Concludes tomorrow . . . “We Rest Here”

Can’t Stand The Heat? Get IN The Kitchen April 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Life Lessons, Travel & Leisure.
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8 comments

Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

During free time, he enjoyed playing cards, buying drinks at the service club, going to the movies (“to take advantage of the $.15 tickets”), and getting to know his fellow enlistees.

“Tonight I am down at the service club.  They furnish stationary, desks, etc.  They have a nice restaurant and also a soda bar here.  There is a large room with easy chairs that would equal a very nice hotel lobby. They also have pool tables and ping pong tables.  I am down with two other fellows, both from Massachusetts.  We ate in the restaurant to see what it was like to avoid the mess hall of our company.”

“Right near the service club is the post library.  It has a lot of good books and most of the latest magazines.  It really wasn’t any hardship not to get a pass this weekend.  I am going to stop now and drink some milk that we bought here at the service club.  That is one thing the army doesn’t serve much of here.  They say it would make us sick on the kind of work that we are doing.  P.S. I really do not dislike the army.  Of course there are moments that are a little disgusting.”

Dad took advantage of the post library rather than getting a weekend pass to go into town (especially after being told that “there are more soldiers there than anything else”).  In a letter to his dad at the end of July:

“I have taken a book from the library on sea navigation and have been studying it during spare time.  I’m still glad that I enlisted and think that I will be a lot farther ahead at the end of one year and a half.”

In a letter to his dad, dated July 26th, he recounted some of the challenges of basic training:

“Just a few lines tonight.  I drew my first K.P. since I hit Fort McClellan. Tomorrow, instead of getting up at 5:15 as usual, I will have to get up at 4:30.  I get off at 7:30 P.M.  I think that it will keep me from having to stand inspection.

“The training has been pretty tiring, mostly on account of the heat.  I don’t have access to a thermometer, but one of the sgts said that it was 127 degrees F yesterday noon.  After marching, standing, and running the obstacle course in that all afternoon we didn’t care much whether we had supper or not.  After I cooled off I was hungry enough though.”

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Dad ~ Top Right

A few days later, in a postcard to his step-mother, Margaret, he concluded with: “The life here is really pretty easy.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Continued tomorrow . . . “Ready, Aim, FIRE!”

Dry Fire in the Pouring Rain April 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Humor, Life Lessons.
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20 comments

Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

At first, mile-long hikes alternated walking and running.  With improved stamina, the recruits ran with guns and packs on their backs.  Officers kept the company company:

“Lieutenant Knoll and the other officers run with us every day.  That is one thing about the infantry, the officers ask the men to do nothing that they won’t do themselves.”

Everyone in the barracks rose early.  When asked about his schedule, he shared the following:

“We have to get up at 5:30, wash, make our beds, and fall out at 6:00 for reveille.  We police up the company and have breakfast at 6:30.  7:30-8:30 First Aid class.  8:30-9:30 Military Courtesy.  9:30 – 11:30 Rifle mechanism and cleaning.  12:00 Dinner.  12:45 Fall in.  1:00-2:30 2 shots and 1 vaccination.  Also examination of eyes and teeth.  Mine were OK.  3:00-4:00 Physical Training (slap boxing and mile run ~ they still let us walk and run alternately).  4:00-5:00 Drill.  5:30 Supper.  6:30-7:00 Rifle inspection by platoon sgt.  7:00-9:00 “G.I. Party” (remove all beds and equipment from barracks to mop and clean it).   9:00 Lights out.  Perhaps this will give you a little idea of our schedule.”

Some days were better than others.  In a letter to Margaret, his step-mother, he wrote:

“Monday it rained hard here.  We were out on the range having what they call dry fire (without live ammunition).  It seemed [other than] dry to me.  The showers here are regular cloudbursts.  We were all soaked to the skin.  We had to walk back to the barracks about 1 1/2 miles through 3 inches of mud.  While on the firing range, we had to lie down in it.  We were really a mess.  They let us change our clothes.”

“A lot of the fellows have been sick here on account of the heat, etc.  A few have had pneumonia.  Some of the others were taken to the hospital after having their shots.  So far I have felt perfectly O.K.  I don’t expect to be sick much while I am in the army either.  That is one thing that I am very lucky in.  I have only been sick once in the last five years and that was chicken pox.”

Dad teased his younger sister Marjorie for taking advantage of his absence:

“Do I have any clothes left and is my radio still working?  I haven’t heard from you much so you must be spending half your evenings at Marshal’s and the other half taking things from my room, namely clothes.”

“The fellows drink a lot of coke here.  We sweat so much that we are thirsty all of the time except at night when it cools off.  It cools off enough at night so that we can sleep comfortably with one army blanket over us and one under.  They don’t issue sheets here.  We have pillow cases though.”

“I suppose that you are rich now that you are working.  If I were you I would try to save all I could.  You will never be sorry.  The money that I saved got me started in college.  Without it, I probably wouldn’t have started.  Now that I am started I can see my way clear to finish as long as the government is going to pay part, or should I say all except for clothing perhaps.”

“This letter is too long for me to write.  I might collapse from shock so I will stop.  Daddy mentioned in his letter that you were going to write so I had better hear from you or else.”

“P.S. Tell Daddy that in an emergency, I could get a furlough if the local Red Cross notified the Red Cross here at the Fort.  I think a doctor has to say that you are needed at home.  I don’t want you to think that I am trying to get home because if I did I would have to take basic training over again from the start.  One fellow got a furlough already because he broke both his wrists the first day on the obstacle course.  Enough said.”

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Continued tomorrow . . . Can’t Stand the Heat?  Get IN the Kitchen!

“It’s a Rifle, Not a Gun!” April 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Life Lessons, Special Events.
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32 comments

Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

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Dad survived 8 weeks of basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama during the hottest part of the summer, arriving on July 11th and leaving two months later:

“Arrived here early this morning to start basic training in the infantry. It is really going to be hot here this summer.  We started drill today. They have issued us gas masks, packs, battle helmets, etc.  I think we get rifles tomorrow.  On the way down here, we went to Cincinnati, Ohio; then came south.  I have been in 13 states since I enlisted.  We had troop sleepers so the trip wasn’t bad except that it got awful dirty. So did I.”

When writing Aunt Pete and Uncle Webb on July 21st, 10 days after arrival:

“The food on the train was rather poor or the helpings were small.  I don’t suppose they could do much better though as long as the train traveled day and night.  Anyway one rather amusing incident occurred.  The train stopped at a small station.  (We weren’t allowed to leave the train).  A lone man was standing on the platform with his arms loaded with groceries.  It was in Kentucky I think.  One of the fellows asked if he had any cigarettes.  He tossed a pack into the car. When they tried to pay him, he threw in a package of doughnuts and said keep your money.  “I was in the army for four years and I know that they are starving you on the troop train.”  Enough for now.

P.S. They really didn’t starve us.  We just could have eaten more.”

On July 16, he wrote his dad:

“Basic training officially started yesterday.  We have had classes in personal hygiene, diseases, sanitation, the M1 Rifle, map reading, the general orders, etc.  We have done quite a lot of drilling and they have had us out on the obstacle course some.  My watch lasted exactly one day of this training before the crystal came out.  One fellow dropped his rifle today and has to carry it with him all the time for one week. One of the sgts. didn’t like to have me call the rifle a gun.  At least I didn’t get extra detail.  It really isn’t bad here except that they keep us busy all day with very little time off.  Everybody’s shoulders are sore from carrying the rifles.”

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Lights out!

Aah . . . that’s better! 

Continued tomorrow . . . Dry Fire in the Pouring Rain

“We’re In The Army Now” April 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Lessons, People, Special Events.
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19 comments

Dad ~ Top Right

Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

Earlier that spring, he received a draft notice, had a physical, and then the draft ended.  After considering his options, he enlisted anyway:

* He valued higher education but had limited financial resources.  He hoped to subsidize the expense of obtaining an electrical engineering degree with the benefits offered under the G.I. Bill.

* After spending 17 years in rural Vermont and one year in Boston, he wanted to see the world beyond the relative confines of New England.

At the recruiting office in Rutland, he passed the mental screening test with a score of 49 out of 50 ~ “to pass you need to get 15.”   From Rutland, he headed to Fort Ethan Allen, passed his physical, and was sworn into the army on June 29th.  Next stop:  Fort Banks in Boston.

A few days later, he caught the troop train to Fort Dix, NJ ~ “they have got between two and three hundred of us now.”

On the 4th of the July, at Fort Dix, his number came up on the processing roster and he received his uniform, dog tags, etc.  He bought stationary at the PX that afternoon and caught up with some letter writing:

“Before we finish processing, we will get 6 tests, some movies, several shots, and some other stuff besides.  Anytime after that I might ship out. The sooner the better.  After we finish processing we are likely to draw K.P. and other details.  When on K.P. you work for 16 hours straight.  The food is a lot better here then at Fort Banks.  If the food that I get the rest of the time in the army is as good as it is here, I won’t kick a bit.”

A few days later, he wrote his sister, Marjorie, also from Fort Dix:

“I am quite a ways from home now ~ it would take 12 hours to come home, but I will probably be a lot farther away in a couple of days. They say this fort is only 30 miles from Philadelphia.  None of us can get a pass to get out of here though.  The shots I had yesterday made my arm pretty lame, but it feels better today. I am enclosing some papers for Daddy to keep.  They are to show him that he is the beneficiary of the life insurance that I took out.  I didn’t take the $10,000 policy as the war is no longer on.  I decided that $5,000 would be plenty.”

The next day, July 8th, he wrote his dad:

“Just a line tonight to let you know that I ship out tomorrow.  Tonight I do not know where I am going; they will tell us in the morning.  (I suspect they have put me in the infantry and will send me to Fort McClellan, Alabama.) I will not send this letter tonight and will leave space to write in my destination tomorrow morning.  Enough for now. I have some friends to say good-by to.

P.S.  I was right.  I am going to Alabama.”

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Continued tomorrow . . . “It’s a Rifle, Not a Gun!”

Flight 293 April 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, Joke, Travel & Leisure.
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33 comments

AirplaneShortly after a British Airways flight had reached its cruising altitude, the captain announced:

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain. Welcome to Flight 293, non-stop from London Heathrow to New York.  The weather ahead looks good, so we should have a smooth uneventful flight.

So sit back, relax, and . . . OH . . .  MY GOD!

Silence followed.

Some moments later, the captain came back on the intercom:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sorry if I scared you. While I was talking, a flight attendant dropped a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants.

From the back of the plane, an Irish passenger yelled, “For the luvva Jaysus . . . you should see the back of mine!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source: e-mail from unknown author (sent by Joe M.)

“You’re Out Of Line!” April 11, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Humor, People.
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38 comments

SwimmingAt Water Aerobics last week, I listened to my body instead of following the leader’s orchestration.

As I did my own thing, I heard a resounding chorus of “Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!”

Alarmed that someone was drowning, I turned and heard, “You’re not doing it right.”  “We’re not doing that any more.”

I nodded and kept doing my own thing.

A few days later, as we rode our bikes around the neighborhood to check out the Annual Yard Sale offerings (more focused on socializing than shopping), we ran into some folks from Water Aerobics.

It was great chatting with them . . . with clothes on!

Donald-DuckaUntil one guy (who has hardly spoken to me before) asked, “Why don’t you do what everyone else is doing in Water Aerobics?”

Taken aback by the challenge in his voice, I said, “Well, if my shoulder is bothering me, I do other stretches.”

Dissatisfied with my answer, he rephrased his question, “Are you just not a good listener?”

“I listen.  But I listen to my body first and foremost.”

Ignoring my attempt to deflect the discussion, he continued with his cross examination, “Do you just not like to have people tell you what to do?”

Tigger-Looking-At-His-Tail“Well, I admit I don’t worry much about staying in line.  It’s not synchronized swimming after all.”

He kept at it, determined to discover why I am not doing what I’m supposed to be doing when I’m supposed to be doing it.

Why?

I’m not sure and I didn’t ask.  That’s HIS business.

Perhaps . . .

* I stepped outside the lines of what he views as acceptable conduct.
* He believes I am stepping on his toes by coloring outside the lines.
* He blames me for upsetting him . . . when he’s upsetting himself.

People like him are exhausting.  They require too much tending, insisting that we spend time mending broken fences that splintered under the weight of their expectations.

Mickey-SurferLife is short.  Feel free to ignore the Border Collies yapping at your heels to get you “back in line.”  Do what you want to do.  Let them think what they will.

They’re not the boss of you.

Unless, of course, they are the boss of you . . . in which case Listen Up!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Holy Cuttlefish! April 10, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Art & Photography.
Tags: , , ,
28 comments

When is a Zebra NOT a Zebra?

When it’s a Cuttlefish.

cuttlefish

The Cuttlefish is a master of disguise:

Aah . . . that’s better!

Cocktails and Crew April 9, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Fun & Games, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
Tags: , , , , ,
35 comments

Last week, we attended a cocktail party hosted by the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast at the Bay Preserve on Little Sarasota Bay in Osprey.

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The Conservation Foundation’s mission ~> “protecting the bays, beaches, barrier islands and watersheds of Florida’s Gulf Coast.”

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Before the drinks started flowing, we watched local middle schoolers wading into the waters for crew practice.

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Ready . . .  Set . . . Heave Ho!

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Over it goes.

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And they’re off.

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While the kids rowed, rowed, rowed their boats . . .

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Instructors scooted around in motor boats, barking orders.

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We wandered out on the dock and found a school of friendly fish.

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Bellying up to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

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The sun made its descent before the crew teams called it a day.

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The guest of honor, Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance, regaled us with tales of early conservationists, including Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt.

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At last, time for some Jack Daniels and Ginger Ale.

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 Aah . . . that’s better!

Sneak Peek at Neal Preserve April 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
Tags: , , ,
33 comments

Our neighborhood is a bird sanctuary surrounded by 3 nature preserves ~ Robinson, Perico, and Neal.  Avian visitors include egrets, heron, pelicans, cormorants, anhingas, ibis, ducks, geese, vultures, and roseate spoonbills.

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Robinson Preserve opened in 2008 with walking and biking trails, a picnic area, kayak launch, playground, visitor’s center, viewing tower, and lots of wildlife ~ including several nesting pairs of bald eagles.

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Perico Preserve, still under construction, will be a bird rookery for nesting parents and baby birds.  “No Dogs Allowed.”

Reflections

Neal Preserve, located just to the west of our neighborhood, is scheduled to open tomorrow.  A few weeks ago, we had a chance to take a sneak peek.

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We walked along the elevated boardwalk and climbed the viewing tower.

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We saw fluffy cotton and cacti growing wild, 2000-year-old conch shells lining pathways, and palms swaying overhead.

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We enjoyed stories shared by the resident archeologist about two ancient burial mounds (300 B.C. – 100 A.D.) found on the grounds.

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And admired a trio of skeletons acting sentry over the ancient mounds.

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We didn’t see even the whisper of a ghost.  Maybe next time.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

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