Memories Of Camp Life

This morning, Jenna shared pics of Eden off to 4-H camp, a first time experience for that girl. It brings back so many memories of camp. One in particular of Jenna’s first camp trip. Putting her on the bus was one of those special moments parents hold dear.

G-Ma has many stories to tell about her 4-H camping, both as a camper, and as a counselor, Big Chief, Little Chief, songs and games, etc. And now our Eden is grown enough to go off on her own to camp. (Will is a counselor this year, and he better look after her, because I know where he lives.)

My big camping experience was at BSA Camp Powhatan, near Hiwassi. Our troop and one other were the first to utilize the new camp, and it was not ready for prime time. It rained. The rains started just after our transportation left us off, and continued until the last day. The paths were little more than muddy ruts which swallowed our sneakers, as we sank in up to our knees. Day after day the rains came, and some were torrential.

The creek was dammed for a swimming hole with a large tree chained across the branch, and boards slanted against it. During the night of heaviest rains, the dam gave way, and the wall of water swept away the counselors camp downstream. No one was hurt, but that was just luck. Our cooks didn’t make breakfast that day.

Tents were on platforms with four cots to a tent. Without showers our daily bath was the cold water in the creek. Some of us decided to pass on that experience. It got pretty rank after a few days of constant rain. Everything was wet, and smelled of mold and mildew. Socks just soggy rags.

The parade ground was an open field with a tall pine tree for a flag pole. Of course, someone got the bright idea to use that pole for hoisting our scout master’s undershorts, and cut the line so it couldn’t be pulled down. I don’t know who did it, but one of the older guys did shimmied up to the top and pulled those drawers down. Just a small memory of camp life.

So, off Eden goes to start her camp stories. Have fun, girl, and come home full of tall tales to share.


GUIGC: Parks and Rec

Visiting the Grandin Court Rec Center yesterday reminded me of the early years of Sandlot Football. We usually played in the empty lots along Lofton, between Barham and Guilford. There were a few houses on the Guilford side, and Kyle Walsh’s house on the corner of Barham and Lofton. In between was a vast open space for games, kite flying, and just messing around. that’s where we played a lot of what might be called football. General chaos might be a better fit.

There were usually 25 or more kids there, all involved in the game, with unmarked boundaries from one end of the block to the other. The big kids usually handled the ball, but we all got involved in the games. Even the little guys were usually included, at least until it got serious. Then we sat out on the sidelines and watched as the big guys tackled and blocked each other, without helmets or pads. It could get rough.

Organized football came in the late 1940′s or early 1950′s. civic clubs sponsored teams with coaches, and schedules. The better teams were from the Williamson Road area sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. They were always bigger and meaner, and aggressive. They usually won all their games.

Fishburn Park on colonial Avenue was the field where we practiced. I remember the coaches, forget their names, but they were at a serious disadvantage; they had us to work with. Walking to practice was OK, but the uphill climb back home was torture. We had uniforms with helmets and pads by then, but they only weighed me down. We had 12 boys on the team, most showed up for practice and the games, but sometimes we played with nine. We were 10 pounds lighter, and so we avoided getting hit on the field.
We were pretty well pushed all over the place by “those guys”.

I was a running back, what is termed a “corner back” in today’s parlance. That meant I led the ball carrier and blocked the tacklers. Usually, they blocked me. I sometimes ran with the ball, but that was not fun. “Those guys” were out to hurt someone, and I didn’t really like being their target. And we had to play both offense and defense. They always had squads for that. Fatigue is no stranger.

We won exactly zero games. Nada. Even when we showed up and had a full team count, we lost. They often stopped the game after the first half because the score was so lopsided. Zero to 42 in their favor.

That was my experience in organized sports until Steve came along and I helped coach Little League Baseball, which is another story.

So much for my sporting career. Now, auto racing is another matter, for later.

GUIGC: A Quick Visit To The Rec Center

Many of my stories center around the Grandin Court Rec Center. It was, and is, the center of the neighborhood activities, still treasured by the neighbors as an important asset. It serves both as a Community Center, a Recreation Center, and an after school facility for kids. Truly. it is an valuable and greatly loved part of the community.

Mrs. Dooley is one of the directors of the after school program, providing fun activities for the kids who land there each week day afternoon. Her kids, as she call them, get snacks, play time, crafts, and interesting enrichment programs. The latest is a study of historic and modern day Israel, including geography, political structure, economy, and current events. Charts, maps, and posters abound.

I was made welcome by Mrs. Dooley, and toured the Center, which I had not been in since the 1960′s. It is different, but better. We traded some stories. She asked me to visit her group one afternoon to share stories about the Center. I suggested brother Harry would be a better source, as he was instrumental is getting the Center open in the first place. He has agreed to visit next week and share some of his memories with the kids. I hope Suzi and Ed will join him there.

There were a number of photos taken in 1966 and 1967 stored in an envelope. Sorting through them I came across three that included brother Bobby. He was in a group of about 15 kids posing in two pictures, and in one with four other older boys, around a charcoal grill. His name was on the back of that one.

Maybe we can arrange to have a reunion of the kids who grew up at the Center in August as Suzi has suggested. Interested?

If so, post on your face-book page for Saturday, August 16th. Add your name to the list.


SCOTUS Opens Pandora’s Box of Evils

In a 5 – 4 decision along political lines, the Supreme Court handed down it’s ruling this morning giving in to the counterfeit hysteria of those who claim to be the oppressed victims of Commie-Liberals, and who think they should have more rights than everyone else. Its a political Pandora’s Box of evils that is now opened to ignoring laws and rules the rest of us live by, by anyone who can claim they have an objection based on their firmly held religious beliefs. This decision goes directly against previous decisions that the Court issued on similar cases.

Now, if I decide I don’t want to obey the laws of the country, I just have to prove that I have a sincerely held religious objection to the law. Where did the separation of church and state go? Where will it lead? This seems to allow anyone to circumvent the laws. Apparently it will, unless the SCOTUS make a ruling that somehow limits their decision today. That is not a strong likelihood based on the current makeup of the Court.

Pundits of far better knowledge than I are already proposing a litany of ills that are likely to arise from this ruling. I can only hope we find some sanity soon and make this go away.

(Let’s start a religious order that opposes stupidity, greed, and mega-corporations. We can call it the “Church of Sanity In America.” (COSIA)

(You can be the First Bishop.)

When Regualtors Don’t Regulate For Us

An important part of our government is the various regulations that are, from time to time, imposed on us, as necessary restrictions of actions that affect the public. Safety is among those areas that require regulation. Others are the regulation of utilities, insurance, commerce, banking, product safety.

My experience is in the insurance industry, perhaps the most universal industry, as it involves every aspect of our lives. Product safety and worker safety both originated in the insurance industry. It is a force for good, when properly administered, and closely regulated.

Recently, over the last two years, one aspect of insurance coverage in Virginia has become a focal point of many seniors concern.

Long Tem Care insurance is sold to seniors to protect them from the high costs of health care if they should require it. Most policies have the option of inflation adjustments to provide for the inflation in the cost of care. However, the policies have stated benefit limits included in the terms that protect the insurance company from those higher costs.

On that basis, the companies are not subject to the rising costs of long term care. Why are they requiring a 100% rate increase for existing policies when their costs stay the same?

So far, neither the Bureau nor the company has deemed it important to respond, than to announce their decision to raise the premiums.

Do we, as Virginia policy holders, file complaints? Or do we find a way to hold the regulators accountable? The cost of protection has become too expensive for many, who have relied on the policy promises. They risk losing their protection just when they may need it, as unaffordable. Do we call out the Regulator’s for their responsibility as watchdog.

Your responses would be appreciated.


Fifty-Four Years of Wedded Bliss, In a Minute

Tomorrow is our 54th anniversary. It seems almost like yesterday that we said our vows and jumped into the VW, gunned the engine, and to the great amusement of all the folks at the church, the wheels spun, and we went exactly no where: the guys had put the car up in ice blocks. Brothers still chuckle about that trick. Rice was thrown, again and again. As I pushed the car off the ice, MR stood up on the seat and threw her bouquet out of the open top.

When we got to our honeymoon room for the night, MR discovered she had left the keys to her suitcase at home. Whoops. A frantic call to CT and the keys were delivered. So the story began.

Our wedding trip was an excursion to Ormond Beach, Florida, with the sum total of $100 in our pocket, a present from my grandmother, and without it we would be staying at home in B’Burg. Amazingly, we had a great time in Florida, our first visit there, and got back home with all of $5 in our pocket.

The adventures in Florida were interesting to say the least, topics for another day, but one was long lasting. We went to Tampa and Silver Springs on a day trip, got back to Ormond Beach late. The night was dark, and it rained like only a tropical storm can drench. What we found the next morning was four inches of water in the car. I had left the top open on the Bug, and the storm had filled it up. It took all day to get the water out.

We got back to B’Burg and I went back to work, only later to discover that the rice was sprouting under the back seat. We got rice out for months. Too bad we couldn’t save it for supper.

Best to my wife, my life partner. Another 54 years would be great.



Great Songs on the Radio

Riding up 221 Sunday, listening to the radio, the singer was twanging out a C&W song fit for the boondocks: “I come from the backwoods and I’m proud of it”.

I don’t recall the exact lyrics, but they pretty much said “I’m dumb, I’m stupid, I’m redneck white trash, I’m the NRA, and damn proud of it”.

The audience gave it a polite applause, but then went silent. That tells a story about the depths into which our country has fallen, and the poor chance we have of any recovery.

Dumb can be fixed, we can be educated; stupid is permanent. Is the world laughing at us, as we self destruct?