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“I speak to you from hallowed ground.”

 

“I am speaking to you today from hallowed ground.”

Just for the period of time it takes to read this post, I’d like you to imagine the words are being read to you by Charles Kuralt. All of you under forty are probably asking, “Who in the hell is Charles Kuralt?” Charles Kuralt was “the voice” of a CBS program that aired for years. It was titled On The Road. His distinctive voice was the signature for this show … a show that was all his.  On The Road was just that, Charlie nosed around the nooks, crannies, highways, and byways of the US. I know it may be hard for the younger folks who read this post to believe, but once upon a time their were actual journalists on national television that were true to their vocation, not their political beliefs. It was a time before we were divided into blocks for political opportunism. Kuralt found and touched the heart and the soul of his viewers. As you read my words, hear them through his voice.

The historical marker for Camp Blanding. Though it tries to tell the story it can only hint at the brave people who traveled through history here.

I’m speaking to you today from a few hundred yards off of Florida Highway 16. It’s about midway between two places you probably never heard of, the towns of Starke to the west and Green Cove Springs which lies eastward. The grass field I’m sitting in the middle of, is part of the Camp Blanding Museum. Around me are the tools of wars past. They’re reminders of what this place was, one of the important training areas for a war that would engulf the world. What remains of this site as an active military center is behind the entrance south of the museum. It’s only a token of what was once arguably the largest city in Florida. Over 300,000 men and women trained or worked here. Look around and you see what young men came to this place to learn to use. They had to do this to help win a war we could have lost and as importantly to give them their best chance of surviving it.

One of the artillery pieces on display. An artillery barrage was an infantryman’s worst nightmare.

This 1 1/2 ton truck was a World War II workhorse. Men road in it and supplies it carried kept them fighting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sherman. This M4A1 version was a medium tank. Shermans were the primary battle armor used by US forces in WWII. Its numbers offset the German armors superiority.

Looking inside the drivers compartments of these vehicles is a shock to some. The levers, switches, and mechanisms are crude by 2017 standards. A young man asked, “Did they really fight in these things?” An old man answered, “We sure did and we did a damned good job of it!” There was more in his voice than pride in having served and survived. In his eye and tone there was that reverence those who have experienced combat have for those they knew who did not return to stand here today.

The lawn around the museum is home to many vehicles. Half-tracks, DUKWs, ambulances, trucks, field pieces, all are pages of a book that tell us a story. Even a C-47 transport plane with D-day markings graces a concrete pad, a reminder of 508th Paratroop Regiment who trained in the sands beyond the guard gate.

Mixed in with the vehicles are monuments to the Army units that trained here and the people that were flesh and bone that gave them life. Among them was the Big Red One – the first army division. Nine infantry divisions lived here and learned about war on these grounds. There are monuments to the extra brave who began their journey into hell at this place. One honors distinguished service cross recipients and another the nations highest award, The Medal of Honor. Both have a significant number of names chiseled into stone to remind us of sacrifice and that sometimes forgotten word – honor.

Going inside the museum is like stepping through a time portal on Star Trek. We see what we were. What we did. Right and wrong.

A D-day newspaper. This sealed Hitler’s fate.

A GI dressed for battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pictures and exhibits show us what a base for a quarter of a million men looked like. Row upon row of small cabins, barracks like the one the museum is housed in, hospitals, theaters, commissary buildings, maintenance facilities, everything that a city of that size needed to exist was built in Florida’s wilderness. Work on Blanding was a seven day a week, three shift schedule in 1940-1941. Today, most of the 150,000 acres that is Camp Blanding has been reclaimed by the pine barrens and swamps from which it was hacked. Concrete foundations, weathered and hidden by nature, dot the ground and are the ghosts that haunt these woods.

Reminders of the past always bring bitter to go with sweet. Exhibits remind us of where we’ve been, some of them telling us of what we did wrong. The Army of 1940 was one that was still segregated. Separate facilities, living areas, even swimming lakes are indictments of what just one of our societies mistakes has been.

It tells us of things we did correctly. Few know that many German POWs were transported to the USA. Camp Blanding hosted around 2,000. They lived in the same type facilities as our GIs. They were given jobs and paid to do them. Contrast that to the fate of POWs in German or Russian hands. Less than 10% survived the war and literally this amounted to millions of deaths. More than 15% of Germans elected to stay in the US and become citizens and over 98% survived.

Places like this, Camp Blanding, are places that should bring us together. We can attempt to change history, there are those who do, but it really won’t change. Camp Blanding is a string tied around our finger, like ones used by our country men before computers, to remind them of something they had to do. If we forget the good and bad that history teaches, we’ll neither continue our virtues or avoid our mistakes. Humans are on a long voyage of discovery. That discovery is how imperfect we really are. We have to embrace what we have become, not languish in what we were, but learn from where we’ve been.

The Medal of Honor.

 

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Getting ready for Irma … And hoping she doesn’t come here!

The Geezer finishes putting up hurricane shutters while I supervise.

GO AWAY! Irma certainly isn’t wanted here. As if we have a choice. Hurricanes are the equivalent to having the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room with you. What does he do? What ever he wants!

The Geezer and Mrs. G are scurrying around the house securing items, moving outside items inside, preparing items that we’ll need if we are forced to evacuate. If the hurricane gets close that is pretty certain. We live on an island for gosh sake. They know the process. Charley visited this house in 2005 … and almost destroyed it. Charley was a category 4 storm and the destruction was like what has been televised from Rockport in Texas. The Geezer and Mrs. G are doing their best to get everything ready … with the knowledge that if Irma comes in here as a cat 5 hurricane they are likely to return to total destruction.

Right now, Irma is predicted to travel up Florida’s east coast, that would put it at between 80 and 100 miles away at its closest passing. I’ve posted a few pics of us getting ready and of our home. Mrs. G has all our bags packed. That makes us all nervous … knowing we might have to leave on very, very short notice. Charley was a category 2 storm that wasn’t supposed to strike Pine Island. Instead of smashing into Tampa Bay as forecast, it turned sharply and intensified into a 4 creaming Sanibel-Captive, Pine Island, Punta Gorda, etc. The destruction was Biblical.

This is the last post I’ll be able to make until after the storm. I hope the next entry will be with good news.

 

The first problem Irma caused — Moving potted plants crunched a corner of the “palm island” in the front yard.

 

Coconuts! They are cannon balls in an environment that a major hurricane brings.

 

One set of double doors shuttered one to go! Things like the furniture in the picture have to go inside or be blown away.

 

 

The lush tropical growth pictured is almost sure to disappear if the storm makes a direct hit.

 

“Good job Geezer.” I congratulate the old boy for doing a good job.

I sincerely hope Irma decides to visit the middle of the Atlantic and does her blow job there. The Geezer and I don’t want to have anyone visited by the destruction and heart-break that will accompany a call by Irma. Say a prayer for all of us.

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Water, water everywhere …… 18″ and still raining!

Water everywhere! This is a picture of Pine Island Elementary School and the road to it. Notice the depth of the water on the Stop and road sign! The entire area is one large lake.

Rain, rain … go away! Come again some other day!

That’s an old saying, but it certainly holds true for a couple of sections in the US today! Those poor people in Houston! We can appreciate what they are going through and we send our sympathy and prayers to them. Here in Bokeelia, on Pine Island, Florida, we’ve gotten a taste of what some of our Texas friends are experiencing. WINK-TV our local CBS affiliate reported we had over 18″ of rain in the last 4 days and we’ve had significant rains since. Water is everywhere! So much so it’s hard for a female canine to find a spot to pee in without having the puddle … ooohhhh, you know!

There’s another reason for Bokeelia to understand the plight of those folks in Rockport, Corpus Christie, and Houston. The last category 4 storm to crash into the US came ashore here and the eye passed over this community. The Geezer went through Charley. What a horrible experience! It took him and Mrs. G two years to really recover and they are still paying for its costs. He posted some pictures of it and some suggestions to help Harvey’s victims on his blog. If you want to see them, click on the link on the left side of this post.

The Geezer had to make a trip out into the storms yesterday to record a radio program. (At WKDW in North Port a trip of around 40 miles) Parts of the trip there and back were better suited to a boat than the car he drove. He took some pics and these are shown below.

Water covering SW Florida pastures. In most places there isn’t a two foot change in elevation for miles. Pity the wildlife that has no where to go!

Water streams across Burnt Store Road, one of the major arteries connecting communities. Water covered highways & streets for miles of his trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People were using canoes and kayaks to get around.

Road pictures. This is Stringfellow Road the main (and only) north/south highway on Pine Island’s 16 mile length.

A “side road” or is that a canal? See if you know where the road is — we didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picture speaks for itself!

The white and yellow lines were a great driving aid … when the water was shallow enough to see them.

Traveling on the Stringfellow canal. Note that cars were forced to straddle the road’s crown or flood out.

Note! Da coconut, she float. See them … those aren’t ducks.

A palm nursery that won’t need irrigation for a while!

Our neighbors front yard. Luckily we are high enough that 95% of our yard is above water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, we have lots of water … and some problems … but nothing we can’t handle. Do what you can to help those folks on the Texas coast. We’ve been there, done that. THEY NEED HELP. Send your prayers and anything you can spare to them.

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I thought I’d show you my ass. I see humans doing it on TV constantly.

I thought I’d show my ass. It’s a nice intelligent ass. It has a IQ higher than most politicians and TV commentators!

I have a simple piece of advice I’ve heard my human give to others at times. I hope someone will pass it along to the humans I have to endure on the TV every d—-d day! You know those talking heads and politicians you hear screaming on the tube. The only thing you know when they finish is they’re lying to you.

I truly hope that I may find,

Enough wisdom in my mind,

Too understand that others thoughts may be,

Equal to those that arise from me!

 

Things are so bad this week I find it difficult to bear. I had to bark something. One of my canine friends says his humans are mounting their TV on the wall at a 45 degree angle, so when they watch … things aren’t so slanted.

 

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Happy 4th! … Bring the Cannoli and leave the Firecrackers!

I’m watching from the car as Mrs. G prepares for her ride in the 4th-of-July parade.

It was fun! I got to watch one of my humans participate in our community’s celebration of the birth of our nation. Mrs. G was in Pine Island’s Parade. With the sky-roof open the windows down and the AC running, I felt like an executive in a luxury box at a big-league stadium.

Mrs. G was a pirate. Aaarrggghhh! The boat-float’s slogan was “Give me freedom – or walk the plank.” It works …

The Geezer snapped these pictures before and during the parade. He tries, but he’d be better off writing about what he saw. He uses a camera as well as our cat Oreo swims … not very good. The only thing I didn’t like was the clown (literally) tossing firecrackers closer to me than I liked. The Geezer saw that ended quickly.

“Standing by the corner watching all the floats go by” The Geezer told me to write that. Mrs.G is in part of the boat he didn’t cut off.

It was fun! Now, I’m looking forward to one of those ribeyes I saw in the grocery bags. Grilling Beans, potato salad, and ice cream, YUM! Bring the Cannoli and leave the firecrackers. Happy 4th to you all!

 

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Vindicating vacation value …

“Where do you want to go, Geezer?” I asked.

He thought for at least two minutes, that’s a long time when you’re waiting for an answer. Finally, he spoke, “Remember Seinfeld famously said his show was about nothing? So, I want to do the Seinfeld thing … Nothing. I want to go where I can do that.”

I looked at him wondering if the steam in his boiler had escaped. “Nothing? You can do that at home.”

“No Sandy, I can’t. The phone rings, the Internet calls, my next chapter demands to be worked on if I stay here. So … I’m going where no phone will bother me, where there’s no wifi, and to a place I’m far away from my research notes and computer.”

“Is there such a place beside heaven?”

“Yes, I think I’ve found utopia.” He smiled. “We’re going to Amity.”

The view from Amity Cabin’s front porch – A beautiful 38 acre lake we had to ourselves. Except for fish that lined up to strike our lures.

 

The place DL found was off the beaten path. Let me rephrase: This wonderful piece of seclusion was off a once used game trail. Located in Mississippi near the Alabama line, the farm Amity Cabin is built on isn’t close to anything most Americans recognize as a “destination.” The rolling terrain, the beauty of the unspoiled pines, magnolia blossoms, curious deer, and mirror-like-lake, wrapped  a serenity blanket around us.

Pines in the morning mists

A full house … The Mississippi Martin Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d been at Amity for three days when the old boy’s wisdom became undeniably evident. He’d found the ultimate location and way to relax. We sat on the porch, watching martins pilot their bodies over the lake, dipping, zigging, zagging, and intercepting insects that would be their babies’ lunch. “I have to tell you, Geezer, I thought you were crazy. You weren’t. This is the closest thing to a battery charger for humans I’ve ever seen.”

He nodded. “The one solace accumulating years brings is the wisdom experience imparts. I spent years going on vacations that were scheduled tighter than my work regimen prescribed. I’d race from attraction to attraction, take advantage of sight-seeing or night-life at any place I happen to stay, and squeeze in some work to salve my misguided conscience. The result … I was exhausted at its conclusion. A vacation from the vacation seemed necessary. Then, I discovered this is what I needed. When I returned from a true rest, I found my productivity and creativity returned to the 150% I strive for.”

Mrs G and I had time to read our favorite magazine, Garden & Gun – Wow – what a luxury.

The Geezer rockin’ the day away on Amity Cabin’s front porch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While our life style was definitely not an episode of “Naked and Afraid,” we were able to commune with nature. Deer visited daily … herons, owls, hawks, martins, robins, cardinals, and a multitude of other birds flitted around us … quail whistled “bob-white” from sun-up to sun-down, and a raccoon peered through the glass front door each evening, daring me to give chase. I didn’t even bark at him … not after his first appearance. It was my chance to relax, too.

 

A magnificent magnolia blossom. – The candle holders in the photo show size – each is 5″ in diameter. These flowers’ fragrance sweeten each day at Amity.

 

Most importantly, it was away from the filth Washington and the New York media dumps on us daily. There are no (vomit) politics on the farm. There are no assassination attempts at Amity. The only ABC we saw was in books we read. The FOX we watched had four legs. The Washington Post found its best purpose … to wrap garbage.

Yep, the value of our vacation was vindicated.

 

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Saaaa-lute!

My salute to all U.S. veterans and our current military. To the living and especially to those who gave their all, God bless you!

 

Thank you!

 

Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!

Words aren’t always enough. We owe so much to those who have fought for our freedom, gained it and have protected it ever since. But since this is the best we can do … THANK YOU from my heart … and the Geezer’s.

 

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