Tag Archive | Agents

“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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My goodness, is there really a cat-house in River City?

This is not the type “cat house” my friends were speaking about.

It has been sometime since I’ve attended a meeting of the Canine Chowder & Marching Society. I have to admit I miss the gossip, but lately it seems every get-together conflicts with my schedule.

Last meeting was held the same day Mrs. G went to the bank. Couldn’t miss that. The lady in the drive-through window is a real softy. She always gives me triple treats and if I look disappointed she doubles them up. Time before I had a case of the “Shags” … you know, a dog’s condition when his human looses the defurminator. I couldn’t stand thinking of all the comments that would be made about my coat. You know, the neighborhood dogs can be so catty! There was a reason I missed the meeting prior to the one before the last meeting I missed that wasn’t the last meeting. Or something like that. I’ve missed so many recently I can’t keep up.

My friend Lucy, the cocker spaniel, asked me to go. There was a motion to adopt a no peeing on the rose bushes rule that the lady Marching Society members backed and the male contingent opposes. You’d think the boys wouldn’t mind that little restriction on their lift and sprinkle, but no … Honestly, they are screaming like we were asking for universal castration. Male ego … Ugh! I decided to support my gender so I went.

We hadn’t gotten a place to sit when Fifi the poodle raced up to us and said breathlessly, “Did you know there’s a cat house on Pine Island?” Gossip! Wonderful, gossip!

I tried to act relatively uninterested and naive. “A cat house? I live in a cat house, or at least a house with a cat in it. What’s unusual about that?”

“Not that type cat house. The other type of cat house.” Fifi looked exasperated. Lucy looked consumed.

Lucy said, “Oh how exciting! What can you tell us about it!”

“Exciting?” I said. I ignored Fifi’s statement about another type cat. “What’s exciting about having cats in your house. I have one. Fifi you have a Siamese and Lucy your human has three. What’s the big deal?” Sometimes I get great pleasure from being obtuse. Maybe its a gal thing.

Fifi leaned close and whispered, “They’re two legged cats.”

I tried to look dumb and remain silent. Both are difficult for me.

Fifi forgot to whisper. “They’re whores!” Everybody at the meeting glanced our way. Fifi lowered her voice. “I saw four of them sitting at a table playing cards and talking about rubbers.”

“Are you sure about that?” Lucy asked.

Fifi was emphatic, “YES!”

I asked, “How do you know? Were they wearing fishnet stockings, short shorts, high heels, and driving Mercedes convertibles.”

“NO! They all were wearing tee shirts that said, I’m a proud Matlacha Hooker.

Lucy and I laughed. I said, “Fifi, you’ve had a brain fart. The Matlacha Hookers are a lady’s civic club.”

Some dogs shouldn’t be taught to read.

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My human asked me to include some of his propaganda in my post. He feeds me so I figured I’d better.

 

Welcome to the Menagerie

Hot author behind hot books in Matlacha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to have all of you that can, visit me at the Matlacha Menagerie this Saturday from 10:30 to 3:00. This unique boutique gift and book shop is located at 4604 Pine Island Road. Matlacha is a quaint village located west of Cape Coral. The 40’s buildings and Bohemian decor are reminiscent of the “old Florida Keys.” Loaded with art galleries, unique gift shops, and sea food places, Matlacha is on the way to Florida’s Mango capital, Pine Island. Come chat for a while.

 

Here I’m doing my historical presentation, “The Loyal 14th Colony, Florida in the Revolutionary War”

Excuse me, I have to brag a little. Sandman Book Co. owner Heidi told me she put a RSVP for 30 seats at this presentation and 20 were filled in the 1st hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great crowd at the Sandman Book Co. last Saturday. The attendees were enthusiastic and really into history. The type of people who attend these presentations prove my contention that READERS ARE THINKERS.

 

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And the results are … The Geezer will win no Oscars or Emmys

It was unanimous. The Geezer won’t win an Oscar for his acting this year. He wasn’t nominated for his TV presence so that means no Emmy. I could have told you that when I tried to be the spokes-dog for his commercial.

I consider it a lost opportunity for both of us. Just think of the sales power of having his novel represented by the first canine pitch person. I’d have been a sensation. Move over Flo, your ads would no longer be progressive. I would have made the Geico Gecko just another little lizard. Shaq is a good guy, but I’m sure he’d be unemployed by the General when they took one look at my TV charisma. My delivery of “The Bait Man!” would wipe the memory of “Where’s the beef?” from even old-timers’ minds. I fit in with the mod trends. Notice how many Golden Retrievers are featured in TV commercials. I could have raised the ad (and canine gravitas) to new heights even overshadowing Duke, the Bush Beans huckster dog. Take a look at me and then picture that just slightly photogenic canine. I don’t even think his pedigree is legit.

I’d be beautiful as a spokesperson on TV! This is my official photo. Any of you agents interested?

Just so you know that this isn’t just my opinion, I decided to bring up the subject of a comparison of my talent vs the Geezer at the neighborhood convocation of the Canine Chowder and Ham-bone Marching Society. The questions to and answers from some of the attendees are below. Note, I asked the questions like most national poles. They are absolutely, positively, unfailingly stated in a manner that will elicit a unbiased, honest and uninfluenced answer. (I think)

Q. Sandy – Who do you think would be chosen as the the “top dog” TV commercial presenter in a contest? Me or the Geezer.

A. Lucy (Cocker Spaniel) – Paws down it would be you. His delivery lacks your bite and bark.

Q. Sandy – Would I be more appealing to readers with my golden glow or would the Geezer with his mortuary clothes?

A. King (German Shepard) – Ahhhh, Hummmm, Aaaaaa, I guess gold is worth more than coal on the market. Yes it would definitely, kind of would be you. Maybe.

Q. Sandy – Who do you think would impress TV viewers more? Me with my commanding expression or the Geezer with his mannerisms?

A. Manny (Chihuahua) – But of course, it is you. I think. I do not stink, I mean I do not think he could sell as many books as you, particularly to groups like ours. I do stink he might sell some books to huuumans. I mean think, I think.

There you have it. Publish the results on CNN. I’ve included a link to the commercial so you can see for yourself.

https://vimeo.com/broadcastcenter/review/214064309/e880dd40e5

I have to say it was effective for humans who, by the nature of the species, are less discerning than canines. Humans attended his appearance at the Sandman Book Company in droves! It was standing room only! I should have a pic to place here, but I’ll need help untangling it. As soon as it comes in, I’ll edit this post to show it.

At Sandman Book Company. DL Draws good crowds. This was SRO.

A quick ADDITION!  DL will be speaking at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library tomorrow at 1:30 PM. Its on Estero Blvd. His subject is the research on his book “A Place No One Should Go” – Did you know the Gulf of Mexico’s level has been 4′ higher and 2′ lower in the last 2000 years?

 

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Who’s mug would you prefer to see on TV … Me or He!

 

Wouldn’t I be beautiful as a spokesperson on TV?

 

Compare this pic of the Geezer to mine above. This one might be better for scaring monsters and driving out roaches, but not on a TV commercial!

 

I need to save the Geezer from himself! They are making a regional TV commercial for the introduction of his latest novel, The Bait Man. He is planning to be the featured face in the ad … like he’s doing signings at one of the book stores that sell his books. Mistake! Who wants to look at DL? He looks like a cross between the Pillsbury Dough-boy and Santa Claus.

The Bait Man has real mystic about it … class … suspense … pizzazz … flair. That book calls for a top of the line countenance to represent it. It needs to be me in the shoot! Look at my face. See the class and charisma I exude? Sneak a peek at the Geezer. What you see there is boring balderdash.

He says they want him signing a copy of the book in the ad. I’ve explained that I can sit in a chair and hold a pen in my paw. No problem. He doesn’t have to say anything, the whole commercial is done using a professional voice-over, so he can’t complain about my bark. The publisher tells him he has to be in the commercial, or so he says. If he was modest, like me, I might believe him. He just wants to hide my starlet looks from the public I should have. Woe is me.

 

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“The Bait Man” cometh!

My human's latest novel!

My human’s latest novel!

 

It’s available today. Hooray! You can get it on-line or from stores like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Matlacha Menagerie, etc. in either printed or e-book versions. If you like suspense/mystery you’ll love “The Bait Man.”

The Geezer will be at the Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, Public Library tomorrow and will have a limited number of books with him for signing. He’ll be speaking on writing historical fiction and will start at 1:30.

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Code Blue! Sound the Sirens! Valentine’s Day ALERT!

Valentine's Day - Males forget it at their peril!

Valentine’s Day – Males forget it at their peril!

 

It’s danger days for males! Have you forgotten that gift? Those words? That evening out?

You know what day it is? It’s February 12th. That fact and a couple bucks will get you a lousy cup of restaurant coffee. So why is it so important? It’s two days before the 14th AND the 14th is  … Valentine’s Day! Have all of you males made your plans? Speaking for all ladies, human and canine, there are three days you boys need not forget: Valentine’s Day … Her birthday … Your anniversary (Particularly if a ring is involved).

If you were forgetful, you have this chance to have flowers delivered, buy chocolates or Lingerie, order pajamas or teddy bears, and make dinner reservations.

If you simply intend to ignore the event, let me enlighten you to possible consequences.

  • An empty underwear drawer.
  • The answer to any question you ask in the next thirty days will be “I forgot.”
  • Breakfast will consist of a bologna sandwich.
  • Your in-laws will be invited over for every weekend for three months.
  • Lunch will consist of a bologna sandwich.
  • The TV remote will disappear (I suggest looking for it in the frige freezer, her car’s glove compartment, or taped to the back of the toilet tank.)
  • Calls from all of your credit card companies stating you’re maxed out.
  • The loan of your hunting, fishing, camping, golfing, and tennis equipment to your lovely’s brother … located somewhere in Siberia.
  • Supper will consist of a piece of lettuce and a bologna sandwich.
  • A trip to your bedroom will be like a visit to Greenland complete with a glacier for a bed.

May Zeus, Mars, and Odin forgive you – she won’t.

 

PS- If she’s a reader a good book might work. Try the Geezer’s new book The Bait Man, a suspense/thriller. It’s being released this next week.

 

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A dog’s tale of Christmas spirit

As is my custom, I like to present my readers with a canine crafted Christmas story this time of year. This is a new one.

The Geezer and I wish you all a very "Merry Christmas"

The Geezer and I wish you all a very “Merry Christmas”

I watched the dog from my apartment window. The first time I noticed him was when I was eating lunch one Saturday. It was a blustery December day, cold, dreary … the type day best served by fireplaces, sofas with blankets, hot chocolate, and football games on the TV … not being outdoors. My apartment building adjoins the park where I saw him; that park’s lively April through October, but is as still as a mortuary in the cold Midwestern winter.

The dog was by himself, his actions rather strange for he chose to sit by an isolated park bench away from the access sidewalks that criss-cross the facility. Immobile as a statue, he faced into the wind and waited. I might have forgotten about him if it hadn’t been for the fact he was a Golden Retriever, one of my favorite canine breeds. It was for this reason I noticed the same animal, sitting precisely in the same location, after I returned from church the next day.

I’m a project engineer and elected to take a break in job assignments. Christmas was coming and with it another anniversary. My wife died, an untimely victim of a drunk driver the preceding Christmas day. Our ten years together was hardly enough and there were no children to help fill a Grande Canyon sized void in my life. Pity from relatives and friends, though well-meaning, added to my anguish. Their efforts to force me to indulge in an active social life revolted me. I was home, alone, on Monday and when lunch time arrived, I looked to see if the dog had returned to the park. He sat there, waiting for someone or something, patiently.

It was a bright, sunny day, with clear skies and cool temperatures. Between eating a sandwich, sipping coffee, and reading a novel, I kept tabs on the beast. The dog sat there, gazing intensely at the park entrance. The clock in my kitchen chimed two, I glanced at the dog in time to see him walking, alone, to the park’s front gate. I watched him cross the street and disappear into a maze of apartment buildings and homes. I decided I’d see if he’d return the next day. He did.

At eleven the next morning I saw him stroll through the park entrance, trot straight to the same bench, face the gate, sit on his haunches, and wait. Promptly at two, he left. Fascinated, I waited for the animal to change his behavior. He did not vary from his routine. Rain, wind, bitter cold … nothing made a difference. The only change I could see was his body thinning and a slightly perceivable slow-down in his gait.

A few days before Christmas two inches of snow covered the ground. I fancied I could see the animal shake. The poor dog looked as empty-hearted and forlorn as I felt. Before I gave it much thought, a pack of hamburger was in the microwave defrosting.

When I entered the park and stepped the hundred yards that separated us, the dog never looked at me. His eyes were focused on some unseen being in the world outside the park entrance. Goldens are known for their friendly disposition, but this one never acknowledged my existence, even when I sat on the bench next to him. His body was emaciated, his eyes slightly sunk into his skull.

“Hi boy.” The dog ignored me. “Who are you waiting for?” The retrievers eyes remained fixed on the gate. “You hungry?” I removed the hamburger from a cloth cooler and held it on my lap. The dogs nose twitched and its tongue circled its mouth. It did not move or take its eyes away from their vigil. I unwrapped the waxed paper from around the meat and placed it in front of the dog. It whimpered, but remained immobile. “Go ahead, boy.” He whimpered louder. “Go on,” I coaxed. The dog’s hunger won for a few seconds. He dropped his head over the meat and in a couple of gulps the hamburger disappeared. The dog returned to its watch. No amount of petting or verbal persuasion could distract it from its purpose.

“That dog belong to you?” A policeman stared down at the two of us. His expression was friendly, but sad.

“No, officer. I’ve been watching it from my window.” I pointed to my apartment. “I felt sorry for him.”

“It’s a stray. Some people reported it hanging around their home a couple days ago. I been keeping an eye on it. It doesn’t have a home. Sleeps where it can find a warm spot. One thing it does do, it always comes here during lunch time. I was hoping it was yours. Now I’ll have to call animal control and get it put down.”

“You don’t have to do that, do you?”

“Afraid so … unless someone adopts it.”

I heard myself say, “I will.”

‘Royal’ came home with me from the pound on Christmas Eve. It was obvious the dog had been well trained and cared for before his abandonment. He reacted to his new home with an attitude of grateful acceptance. As I had expected, there was a defined reservation in his demeanor. I new I was number two and probably always would be. We woke on Christmas morning … me grateful that something had entered my life to return some focus to it … he grateful for his improved chance of survival. I told him, “Well Royal, we got each other for Christmas.”

We spent the morning introducing ourselves to each other until eleven. It was then Royal barked for the first time. He changed from being calm and sedate to agitated. He went to the apartment door and scratched it and the floor beneath it. “Have to go out?” I asked. He barked and kept looking back and forth at the door and me. I had the leash on him and as we left the apartment there was no doubt where he was headed.

He led me to the park bench, and we sat there and waited, for what I had no idea. It was sunless, very cold, the wind was vicious, snow flew by horizontally and I settled deeper into my coat, wrapping my scarf over my face. Royal whimpered then began barking. When I uncovered my face he was staring at me … I thought.

From the bench next to me a soft feminine voice said, “I’m so happy that Clancy found a new home.” The voice came from a pretty young lady. Her long silver coat covered her in a manner that was surreal. Her brown hair spilled from a knitted cap, she had brown eyes, and smiling lips.

“You know who the dog belongs to?” I asked. She rose, nodded, said “yes,” and knelt in front of Royal wrapping her arms around the animal. It whimpered softly. The girl said, “Clancy belonged to Sally James. Sally had leukemia. The last weeks she lived she came to this park and sat here with Clancy.” The girl stroked the dog and scratched behind its ears. She put her head next to the dog’s ear and whispered to it. “I lost track of him after Sally died.” She patted the Golden on its head a few times and stood up. She smiled at the dog then at me.

I hoped for a negative answer. “If you’d like to take the dog, since he knows you …”

“Oh, no. I can’t have him with me. No dogs allowed kind of place. He is yours now. Besides, you two were made for each other.”

Royal, or Clancy, rested his head on my knee. His eyes were fixed on mine. It was as though a bond had passed from the dog, through the girl, to me. Looking deep into his eyes, I asked, “Ready to go home, boy?” He whimpered a positive response.

“Jessica approves.” It was the girl’s voice, but my wife’s name. My head jerked up to look at her … to ask her. No one was there. The dog and I were alone. His head and eyes were on me and are hearts were one. The weather hadn’t changed, but my life had suddenly turned warm. I spoke to the wind that howled around me, “Thank you Sally. Thank you Jess.” I will never be sure, but I believe I heard two women’s voices faintly, sweetly answer in the wind, “Merry Christmas.”

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