Monday, December 21, 2009



Suddenly the previous surrounding darkness was an eerily whitish grey glow. Coral sculptures jumped out of the darkness and just as suddenly it was dark again. Images of fish floated in 3 D vision in my right brain as my left brain scanned with torch to make sure I was not hallucinating. Wow! A lightning storm was above us. That’s a first.

For the second time in my life I was night diving and this has to happen! What men will do to please women!

We were doing a ‘night dive’ as part of an advanced dive course. I was just along for the ‘fun of it!’ Ha!!! I hate diving at night!!! It gives me the hibbie jibbies to jump into a swimming pool at night!

I’ll tell you about the last time I went night diving. I swore to myself that I would never, ever go night diving again!

Oahu, Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay outer reef. Diving for lobsters. A Kona –south wind night. A rarity. Perfect for getting lobsters on the windward side of the islands.

I was diving with my brother-in-law and his buddy.

Why do I get talked into these things? It wasn’t that I didn’t know that Kaneohe Bay was full of hammerheads. I had gone out with the Frank brothers to Coconut Isle where they cared for the feeding tanks on the weekends for the University of Hawaii. Sharks in the throngs would hang around the caged in pools with all these other sharks, waiting for tidbits to float out.

So there I was jumping out of our anchored boat just off the reef in Kaneohe Bay at night! Flash light in hand, ‘catch bag’ tied around my waist. Scanning this coral wall looking for caves that lobster would home. A sudden current sweeps along my back. I turn around and put my flash light on a hammerhead that glides by now mid way past me. I can reach out and touch it. It has half of its body to still pass me.

I had to swim from were I was to our boat which was about 100 feet. And our boat was on the other side of where this monster had just passed me, casually. And of course I am thinking. Light on or off. On he knows exactly were I am. Off he probably knows exactly were I am. This is his world. I am in his world. I am part of the food chain as far as he is concerned. I left my flash light on. Maybe I could blind him if he came directly at me. Thank God he did not come directly at me. This is my greatest fear. A man eating shark. Somebody please tell me, why do I presently live in San Francisco and at least once and more likely twice a week, go to the beach and put on a wet suit to imitate a seal as close as possible in looks and then go jump in the sharks food bowl – the ocean? Please some rational soul, please tell me why I do this.

Yep, that was the last time I went night diving! Until now. Until…’0h What! We are going on a night dive?’
‘Yeah!’, says Natalia, ‘It’s part of the course! They have one extra place. You get to come!’
‘Oh!’, I say. To myself I say something else.

Another FLASH! This one much brighter!

Oh Good! Were going to get cooked. We got these big metal tanks strapped to our backs and we are under an electrical storm out in the ocean next to a reef. My name is Bob and I’m gonna be shish KA BOB, any moment now!

Another FLASH! Still closer. Much brighter! The underwater world is like some kind of plasma without gravity and frozen.

It’s about here that you start having this intimate conversation with God, like he is your best buddy and it was just, you know, well, you know, okay, so it’s been a while. How you been God! By the way…

Somehow, for some reason, God have me yet another chance.

I swear! I will never ever go night diving again! But if I do, God, please be nice!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Welcome! Eastern Turkey! Winter!

After having gone through numerous military check points along this Turkish border road with Iran, the guards started calling us, upon our arrival, by our names.

‘Hello Robert! Privit Natalia! Would you like some coffee? Please come in while I record you passports. It will be just a moment. It’s freezing out here!’

They all had seemed to take our activity in some fashion of humor. They had obviously taken a moment to prepare these greetings in English for us. I must admit. I felt some what flattered!

They had all heard the story, passed apparently on from one check point to the next.

“Check Point 7, this is Check Point 6. We have two foreign travelers. Yes, that’s correct. Those two. One an American, male, Robert Palmer, current residence, Izhevsk Russia, Teacher, Udmurt State University. One Russian female, Natalia Timoshkina, resident, Izhevsk, Russia, Student, Udmurt State University. Both traveling together. Vehicle: Fiat 33 HA 166. Sightseeing! Yes, that is what they both have reported as their purposes for traveling. Yes! Yes Sir! I know Sir. Yes. Well Sir, I know! Their travel time concurs. No warranted suspicious activities. Yes Sir. They are departing here. Time: 1410.”

So we continued along this Iranian border road.

What are you two 'really' doing?

We are not sure which Check Point, but finally, at one, one of the guards- you could tell that they were dieing of curiosity - asked us, with a smile, ‘What are you two doing? Sightseeing in December in Eastern Turkey? Come on, what is going on? Listen, all the guards are very curious about you two. We are bored to death. What are you two really doing out here in Eastern Turkey in the middle of December?’

I could not resist the opportunity.

“We really had no idea that Eastern Turkey was going to be this sever of weather. We bought these tickets to Istanbul for US $99.00 round trip. We got them 2 days before our trip. Neither of us had been to Turkey. So, here we are. However, can I ask you something?”

‘Certainly, Turkey is a free country too!’

“I would never do this without your consent. What is the possibility of me being on Iranian soil for just a second or two?”

‘Are you serious?’

‘Yeah, but I would not do this with out your consent.’

Iran, Christmas Day, 2001

We followed this military transport vehicle to this spot. Here I am!

Merry Christmas Bob! December 25, 2001.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bob! You Are Crazy!!!


Without telling Natalia, I took out my camera and set the exposure and ‘click’.

We were in Turkey. This picture was in a town known for its natural sculptures.
This picture looks like a natural enough sculpture. Doesn’t it?

Turkey. Who would ever think of taking a trip to Turkey? As a vacation? Before you say, ‘Hadn’t thought about it.’, Germans come here in droves in summer. Lake Van. Eastern Turkey. There are lots of German restaurants.

Many history buffs come to the ancient ruins of Troy. You know, Brad Pitt, Achilles. (Good God! Bob!!!)

Our trip to Turkey was a fluke. Natalia and I were in Izhevsk. I was teaching English at Udmurt State University there and Natalia was finishing one of her three degrees.

It was Winter break. From the 2 of December to the 15th of January. What to do? We noticed that at the Aeroflot office in the same building of which we lived, there were these really cheap tickets to Istanbul being advertised.

Turkey! December?

At first I dismissed it.

I casually mentioned it to Natalia. ‘Hey, Aeroflot is offering $99.00 round trip fairs to Istanbul. Cheap yeah? Oh, and by the way, what would you like for dinner?

‘Yeah! Round trip?’

‘Yeah, I was thinking of fish.’

We went down to talk to the agent. The next thing I know we have tickets to Istanbul. One month, Like the 4th of December to the 4th of January.

We take inventory of our finances and figure that we can hitch hike for the first part and then rent a car for the second part. You know, to economize. So that is what we do.

We travel all the way around Turkey. We hitch hike out of Istanbul and go counter clock wise around Turkey. We rent a front wheel drive Fiat in Mersin and continue east to Van and at the Iranian border, turn north – further East is not a good idea, haa haa!- hit the Black Sea, hang a left and another left at the end of the alphabet: Zonguldak, where we traverse the country back to Mersin. We arrive there on the 31st 2000. Just before the new millennium.

This is a short story Bob, focus on the subject.

Okay! Here, in this adventure, I want to share this with you. Eastern Turkey, Winter. Nobody in their right mind is traveling in Eastern Turkey in Winter! End of subject.
These cheap tickets to Turkey? They were for shoppers Bob! Russian shoppers that were going to Istanbul ONLY to SHOP. Not travel to NOWHERE. It was there, Istanful and back.


Well, wait a minute. I wasn’t the only one on this trip. Natalia was with me!

Okay, so you ‘two’ Leo’s: What do you have to say for yourselves???

Well, we made it!


It was very interesting actually!

Okay! So explain to us all, how ‘white on white’ (an Eastern Turkey Winter) is interesting.

Okay, I will! Look at us. Natalia a Russian. Robert an American. A Russian and American together, Hello!!!, in winter traveling along the Eastern border of Turkey next to Iran. Do you have any idea of how many military outposts there are along the Iranian Turkey border? I can tell you!

And just what do you think these military outposts were thinking, when this American and Russian were traveling along this frontier border in the dead of winter? I have -0- pictures of these military outposts. Guess why?

'Because they confiscated them?'

Exacto! See! You caught on right away. It was similar to my little adventure in Stockholm where I went on a Soviet Military Ship in 1965. What do you think? You actually think that an American (me!!!) is not going to try to step into Iranian territory, just to get away with it, being this close to Iranian territory? You do not know Bob Palmer!

Bob! You are crazy!!!

The World's longest straight paved road ozzzz.,

This is the world's loooongest straiiiight paved road.

No. I don't know how long....

We still havn't got to the end.

No worries mate!

‘Well, it depends of the wives!’

Oz! Wonderful Wonderful Oz!

Oz was for us one of the coolest places to visit. It wasn’t just cool because it was winter when it was our summer, which it was. It was cool because it is such a beautiful place, except if you live there, which we didn’t. Oh, there are beautiful places that you would want to live, but there are beautiful places, sometimes, that you wouldn’t, because of the other times. It’s like the ‘Outback’. I think that if you go there, you will kinda get the idea of what I am saying. The thing that you wouldn’t want to do in Oz, or for that matter, anyplace, is just move there and buy the first place you saw because you thought that it was beautiful. Get a full perspective of Oz. All the seasons.

We were in Oz, alllll over Oz for 6 months and then for another 2 months after we Fijied it out in Fiji.

The places that Natalia and I would live in Oz would be along the coastal range just inland of Surfers Paradise, anywhere from like Balina to Maryborough. In this area of OZ because we like the ocean and enjoy getting in it. You start going north of this area you can run into box jellies (Jelly fish). You run into one of these guys just once and that is probably the last time. Yeah, Gold Coast to Sunshine Coast. But! I’ll explain later. Another story.

Margaret River on the West Coast. Beautiful area. Beaches, Quite. Peaceful. Wineries.

I had learned Oz from my good high school buddy, Mike Henrietta who had moved to Kailua on Oahu. I was a quick learner, cause I got on to much of what he was saying fairly quickly.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest expressions of Roos is ‘No worries mate!’ I mean I heard this in Hawaii from Roos and even as an occasional expression from others that liked it. But in Oz, you will hear this all the time. I think it is reflective of most of their dispositions. Of course you have to warrant this expression. You walk into a place and have a sour puss face, ain’t no way you will hear this directed at you. But, on the other hand, you smile, be friendly and you will be the joyful recipient of this instant friendly gesture. No worries mate!

We heard this everywhere! Literally!

Go into a shop and order your food – No worries mate.
Can I have another schooner? No worries mate.
How about some more chips? No worries mate.

Yes, everywhere.

I mean it wore on you. In a good way. I have to admit that even to this day, I can not say, ‘No worries mate!’, out loud, without it making me feel good. Really. Try it. Say: No worries Mate, out loud. Tell me you don’t have a smile on your face. Unless, of course, if you’re an ol sour puss!

Anyways, as I was saying, One day we are in Perth. We are buying air tickets from Sydney to Suva. We are sitting in this fairly busy travel agency and all the agents are busy with their customers. So, we are buying our tickets and seat reservations, surfboard allowances and of course we hear: No worries mate!.

I smiled and said to our agent, you know, I love this expression. This is the coolest expression in the world. No other people in the world have such a happy cool expression like this purely Australian expression, ‘No Worries mate.’

Our agent smiled.

I then, for some reason, silly me , asked her, ‘Hey! I have a question. What is, you know, the opposite of, ‘No Worries Mate?’. You must occasionally have a situation were, you know, something doesn’t go, or goes wrong or you can’t do something. Is there an Oz expression for that kind of situation?’

Now, like I say, up to this point, all the agents and their customers are busy and all, talking, but suddenly it is like that EF Hutton commercial. Now for those of you who do not live in the USA and have not been subject to our wonderful commercials on TV you will not know what I am talking about. But, for times sake, the Travel Agency Ticket Office is suddenly dead quiet. Dead pan quiet.

The Manager of the office who was walking to get another cup of coffee is like frozen in mid step.

Our agent looks around the room, leans forward and says, ‘Yes. ‘Oh Shit!’

And just like that, the noise resumes the manager nodes and continues on his way.

Oh, oh oh, one other thing. One day we are surfing. This is soo funny. Now to understand this situation you got to know this. Natalia, this wonderful genius person who is a language wiz, she speaks everything. English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese (she got her Architecture degree in Japan), Arabic, and of course Russian, hell, we were in Indo and after a couple of weeks she is telling me what they are saying… Sheee!

So one day we are surfing. I think it was at one of the spots in the Margaret River area. Great waves. It is me, Nat and this one Oz guy. Early that morning till mid day. Surfing, surfing, surfing. Like perfect conditions. Just the three of us.

Nat asks this Oz guy: ‘How long are you staying?
The oz guy responds: ‘Well, it depends on the wives!’
Nat (this brilliant linguist) : ‘The wives! How many wives do you have?’
The poor roo guy is off his board. Almost dieing laughing. Nearly drowning. He manages a, ‘Not wives! Not wives! The wives!!!!’

Nat: ‘I don’t understand!’

I stop laughing long enough to tell her, ‘He means waves.’ It depends on the waves!’

I got the next ‘wive’ cause they were laughing to hard.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Canberra wild life!

We were waiting in Canberra to get Natalia’s Visa to Fiji. She is Russian and needed one. American’s don’t.

We had about three days to wait. Canberra is pretty much inland from the coast, so no surfing for a few days until we get to Fiji. We found a quiet cheap place to stay on the outskirts of town. We read and then took walks in the woods. On our first walk we come across these three animals. A Shetland pony, a donkey and a sheep. It was so strange!

Where's the sheep?

Oh! There’s the sheep.

They were obviously buddies. They were out in the open. No fences. We had not come through any gates. We just walked out of our cabin and walked a little ways and then there they were.

Look at these guys. What is this? Of all things. A Shetland pony, a donkey and a sheep. Just hanging together.

As we were taking a walk we just stopped and looked at them and then just continued on our way. They followed us and then kind of joined us. Just like having a dog. But this or these were not dogs. They were this Shetland Pony, Donkey and Sheep. We walked for a ways. Came to a nice ‘look out’ over Canberra and then turned and went back. The five of us.

We got back to the cabin and they just hung out in the woods. The next day it was the same. We went out for our walk and then they saw us. Joined us and went for a walk with us.

I felt like I was in some kind of Bible story or something. I mean really! What is this?
What gives? A Shetland pony, Donkey and sheep. There were roos around. We would come across families of them. Couldn’t get close to them. But these guys were totally cool with each other and very friendly with us.

Well, I could not for any reason associate any story from the bible to these three guys. Unless it is the whole kitten caboodle all together. Like a condensed version of what the lessons of the bible were. Here: End of story, A Shetland Pony! A Donkey! A Sheep! A Man. A Women. Let it be! That’s cool! I can live with that!

Of course, some of you guys out there are going to come up with some fan dangled concocted meaning with symbolisms and such, but you know what. Let it be. If you can’t find no reason to love each other. Love anyway. Get along. Like these three buddies. Shee, who would of thought it?

Look at the Sheep’s eye. See I told you could look into the eyes of animals and tell if their friendly of not. It’s people that you should be careful of.

More History and Geology -OZ


No!!! I am not getting any closer. This will be just fine, thank you.

I am standing on the Australian Bight. See were it gets it's name? This is on the Southern Coast of OZ. Natalia and I are one of the few people that have driven the outback. Even among the Roos (Australians). Took us 11 days. Yes, of course we stopped along the way. What do you think? Like here!

This 'bight of land used to be connected to Antarctica. Few years ago. The OZ continent is 'drifting' north by northeast at 1 inch a year, approximately. Give or take a dinosaur or two. OZ is approximately 2, 200 miles from Antarctica, presently.

Okay, okay, OKAY!!! That's 139,392.000 years ago when Antarctica calfed Australia.

end of lesson. Heights give me the willeys! Were outa here!

There are signs alllll along this Eyre Hwy: Don't get too close. Chunks fall off all the time.

Reference: 'For You!'

Someone sneaked up on Peter as he was painting the picture of 'Coffee Rock Cottage' titled: 'For You'.

The world's Longest Straight 'Paved' road.

The longest ‘straight’ ‘paved’ road in the world is on the Eyre Hwy in Oz from Caguna to Balladonia on the ‘Outback’. How long? I’ll tell you when we get to the end.

She had to do it.

Do you remember a moment like this from your childhood? A moment like, as here in this picture, when you sat on a beach and thought: What is on the other side?


In the Summer as a child Natalia would travel from Izhevsk, Russia with her parents to the Black Sea in the Ukraine. In Russia there are two kinds of Russians. The Russians that had Dachas would go to their Dachas in the country and plant vegetables in the summer. The Russians that had salt in their veins went to the sea – the Black Sea.

Summertime in Russia for Natalia was a moment in time filled with adventure, excitement, ocean fun and wonder. What is on the other side of this Sea?

Here in this picture, Natalia reflects back to those childhood moments of wonder while now sitting on this beach in Turkey, exactly on the opposite side of the Black Sea from the Ukraine coast where she as a young girl then looked out to where she now sits and collects those childhood wonderings floating since on these waiting waters.

She had to do it. ?

So, what was it that she had to do?

It's December folks.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another day at the office.

Well, it's low tide so I guess we will have to walk out to the point today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Come an visit us.

We lived just inside here in the jungle. We would invite people to stop by but they never seemed to come. Do you think it had something to do with this guy at our entrance?

How to teach History or Geology, or one on those things!

It's me. Making friends with a water buffalo. Lake Toba, Indo.

No matter what the animal, I could always tell if they were friendly or not. Just look into their eyes. You want to see the scare on my fingers! Well, most animals.

I maybe 62, but, Hey! I can still run!

So check out this picture. Not me and the buffalo. The lake and the immediate area around. This area here, where this friendly buffalo and yours truly are, used to be connected to the top of that ridge up there. Yes, that's right. The Mountain ridge up there along the top of this picture. This used to be a volcano. Where I am is on the floor of the collapsed volcano. With all the precipitation in Indonesia it filled with water to form this lake.

The hot magma in the core flowed out toward the upper left end of this present crater and left the cone hollow. It collapsed! This is what it looks like now.
Kinda interesting yeah?

Life Sucks!!!

On Siargao Island, we stayed at the Jungle Reef Resort. Kevin and (sorry, Hey Kevin, what's your wifes name?) We surfed at Stympies, Pacifica or Rock Island. Cloud 9 was right there, but it was too crowded.

One day, we were snorkeling, but here in this picture I think we were going to Pacifica. Yep, Flower (my surfboard) was right next to me. Must of been going surfing. Pacifica is a 'left' surfing break, about 30 minutes boat ride up the coast. -Why do people say: 'Up' for north, and 'Down' for south? Maybe they were not really there. Maybe they were looking at a map. Anyway, we went out the channel from our resort and hung a left and 30 minutes later we were at Pacifica.

But, as I was saying, one day- not this day, the day that this picture was taken, we were snorkeling and 'BOOM'!

Both Nat and I have our heads out of the water. We look at each other. 'Wow! What was that? We are looking around. Nothing even close to us. Then we figured out what had happened. The Filipinos use explosives to fish! They will go along a reef and see some fish. Lite a stick of dynamite and set it on a piece of foam. They take off in their boat and a couple of minutes later the dynamite explodes. The dead fish float to the surface. The Filipinos come back and pick up the fish that they want for dinner.

If for some reason you happen to be in close proximity to this dynamite explosion in the water, your ear drums are history!

We searched the horizon. We could not see a boat. Where was it?

We got out of the water.

Siargao Island, Phil.

If the waves stay no mo, u got to go with da flow!

(Bob! are you ever going to grow up?!!!) Neva!!!!
If you haven't noticed, Adults suck! And it is too bad if you no mo notice dat!!!

Nias, Indo

This was our sunrise from our bungalow at Sorake Beach on Nias.

See the waves peeling off the point.

This is where Natalia learned to surf.

This is were 'Flower and Sunkiss' were born.

We would wake and either paddle out from our bungalow or walk out to the point and enter there to surf. It depended on the tide.

Lake Toba

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
2.8 degrees N. 900 meters.

Lake Toba, Indo

Lake Toba at 900 meters or 3,000 feet was our relief. On Nias Island, nearly at the equater, everything was hot. Including the waves which is why we where there. But every once in a while we had to get away.

Lake Toba.

Cool mountain air. Majestic thunder storms! Locally grown coffee that you could enjoy in this climate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Best Parents in the World, It's True! You'll see.

Sometimes the best pictures are in your mind.

In the Summer of 65 on our European Tour, my parents in their VW Square back and I in my Karmann Ghia, having met in Stockholm on the 21st of June, we met next in Munich in July, and in Austria at the end of July. We stayed at a mountain resort in Austria and hiked. I even went skiing. Our next rendezvous was Paris on August 12.
August the 12, was an easy day to remember, being my birthday and having to have to register for the draft. I drove to my parent’s hotel where I would also be staying for the night. We were going to the famous Lido Cabaret that night after dinner. My Mom and Dad had made a ‘big point’ of telling me that this was a very important date. Don't miss it!

My Mom had the papers for me to sign from the American Embassy (Draft registration) and this show; at the Lido Cabaret was a birthday present to me.
I drove into the parking lot. Went in and registered and then to my room to put my suitcase in before going to my parent’s room, which for some reason was on another floor than mine. I remember thinking this was odd at the time. Riding up a lift that had metal gate doors. Open on all sides. I knew that my Mom had booked these particular reservations well before our trip. I had the itinerary. Why did she get separate rooms on different floors? Must be a busy place. It was a beautiful hotel.
I knocked on their door. After a moment the door opened and there in front of me stood the most beautiful Parisian goddess in the world. “Robert”
I managed a’Yes’.
She handed me a bow. A red bow and said: “I am your birthday present.”

This was in English. That much my mind reserved for this activity. The rest of my mind was busy with other details. For some reason, I even forgot about our rooms being on different floors. For some reason. - Did I already say that?

Suddenly none of those concerns seemed to matter.

I could write a book about this night. Maybe I will. Maybe I can get Rick Helin to help me with this little episode in my life. He is a professional screen play writer. I do not want it to come out cheesy!

Suffice it to say ‘here’ in this limited ‘short story’ version that I think this was the greatest present my parents ever gave me. Sorry Karmann Ghia.

In ancient times many peoples had just such rituals for adolescents. Well, maybe not just like this. I think that in ancient times, the word had gotten out about this and the youth were prepared for this special night. You could have knocked me up! I mean, 'knocked me over' with anything.
The coming of Age. The teaching of pleasures. Amore! I enjoyed Jean Auel’s books which aptly presented these earlier customs of our ancestors. Thank you Jean! Jean is also my mother’s first name. Okay, Thank you Jeans!

The dinner, the show, and ‘that night’ were one of the greatest nights of my life. Thank you Mom and Dad!

At eighteen I thought, (nobody asked me, but I thought) that I know all that I needed to know about love making. WRONG!

This Parisian goddess gave me the best instructions in all the finer details of how to kiss, what kind of kiss for each unique part of the body. Each part. Every part. Head to toe. Ear to ear and finger tip to finger tip. Nose, mouth, neck, nipples, tummy. I’m sorry but could we do that once again, I’m not sure that I, oh yes, okay, yes I think I’ve …
Okay, that’s enough. I’ll talk to Rick about this. He lived in Europe. He was in a relationship with a beautiful nice Nice women.

Unless of course anyone out there has some input.

August the 12, 1965 Paris. The greatest night in my life to that moment.

I had mentioned in an earlier story, Chapter ‘Another Part’, subtitled – ‘Life Goes On’, that there was a very unique person in my life that affected me more than any other person. But you would never have known this at the time. It's one of those 'growing up things. You know, acquiring a perspective. Lynn Wade. Lynn Wade was the wife of Chuck Wade. Chuck was the President of Bank of Hawaii for some period of time. Let’s see, that would have had to of been around 1960 through 1980. Somewhere in there.
This person, Lynn, was the greatest parent that I have, in retrospect, ever known. This person instilled in you honor and humility! Honor is the sense to be truthful to you and humility to know what humility really was. This is something that you can not teach!
I can give you examples. Personal examples. When I was like 7, 8 or 9, we are at the Wades house. The Wades live next door to us. We have a puka (opening) through the back hedge to walk through to their house as we have on the other side to walk through to the Sasaki yard and house. We kids are all playing around. Johnny, Peter, Judy, Sally and I’m sure a few others to boot. All the adults are sitting around at tables playing bridge. Typical Friday night. Doors slamming, Kids yelling, Parents laughing when they were not playing bridge.

I was standing in the room watching some of the adults playing bridge that I had learned about from my Mom and also the etiquette of the game. My sister Jeannie who was like 15 or 16 comes in, says Hi to everyone, and goes over to Lynn. Lynn without saying a word, hands Jeannie the keys to her car and Jeannie leaves. Bye! My Mom and Dad look at Lynn. Lynn feels the burning eyes and says to my Mom, ‘I asked her to get me something’

Now that is a much of an insight into who Lynn was and how she was as you will really ever have to know. If you were around this person (Lynn) you know exactly where you stood with her. Her truthfulness was instantaneous but loving. She showed you how to be.

When she told me at the age of 11 that Bob, ‘Bill has been in a plane crash and died’, I not only know exactly what this meant but how it meant.

My parents left me while they went to Japan for 2 months. Alone. I was 16. Here’s the money. You know where the keys to the car are. Got it!

Got it!

They did this several times. Another time going to Japan. I knew how to cook, clean, and if anything, you know, went wrong, I could call my sister and Dave out in Punaluu. Or, I could just as easy call or go over to Chuck and Lynn’s. Oh, you know what? I just realized that I only knew Chuck and Lynn by their first names –ever since I was 6.

Without a doubt this unique 'high school life - can you imagine?, happened because of Lynn Wade.

This beautiful drop dead Parisian goddess (Yes, remember her, this was about her) stood in front of me on my 18th birthday because of Lynn Wade.

My mother would surprise me with a similar gesture a few years after this night. It was summer and my girl friend who was just graduating from flight school was returning home. My mother just volunteered that she would be staying with a friend that night. My Dad was on a business trip. My girl friend arrived. I picked her up at the airport and we went to my parents place.

I could drop in on the Wades at any time while they were alive. And I did. When I was putting together a land Hui on Maui, Chuck flew over and checked out everything for us. Our attorney was a student of Chucks. Chuck taught some law courses at the UofH.

Growing up, I do not recall a situation where my sisters or I were ever required, as other kids seemed to be required, to call their parents, or 'check in' with their parents unless of course you were going to be late. Late was like 9 or 10 o'clock.

I never had to come up with some cockeyed story to do anything that I wanted to do.

I remember a bottle of Jim Bean that was handed to me by my Mom. 'Here!'

That was an interesting little lesson!

My life was shaped by two sets of parents, two older sisters and all of their relations.

I only had to pay attention.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What??? Baghdad!!!

While we were living in Nagasaki we would travel to Fukuoka. There was a Costco there. You know, cheese, Ragu, stuff like that.
On the highway we passed this sign. 'What??? What did that sign say???'
We stopped and took this picture.
Baghdad? Charleston (USA?), we assumed and Higashisonogi, Japan. Ahhh, there on the same longitude. 33 degrees north.
Why would the Japanese have such a sign?
George Bush was President. He was presently bombing the hell out of Baghdad and he was using drone planes which were being operated by military people in Colorado that used longitude and latitude to target.

Why would the Japanese of all people be concerned about American Bombs?

Humm, I wonder what cities are on the same longitute with our American targets in Afghanistan?

Oh, cool! We're safe. Are you?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chapter Another Part

L - r: Pat Carder, me in the back, Mom, B.J. (Jeannie)
My two older (11 and 7 years) sisters and Mom.

Life Goes On
By the age of eleven, I had spent a night alone in the dessert, crossed an ocean during a tumultuous storm coming to Hawaii, and experienced a tsunami and an erupting Volcano.
As I was emerging from childhood, my two older sisters were becoming adults. Pat married Bill Humphey, a marine pilot. He died in a horrific plane crash in Kailua Bay, 1958. Two years later Jeannie married Bob Fabricius, a marine pilot. He died in a horrific plane crash off of the north shore of Oahu, 1960. Neither of these crashes were their fault. Bill’s plane caught fire. He got the plane out over water and tried to land it. It flipped and pinned him cockpit down in about thirty feet of water, where he drowned.
Bob was night flight training with another jet out off the north shore of Oahu. Completing their evening training, they came back into formation to return to Kaneohe Marine Air Station. Bob was the lead jet. The other plane coming in behind him, miss judged, and clipped the canopy of Bob’s plane. It went straight into a nose dive and into twelve hundred feet of deep, sea-blue water.
I was only eleven when Bill died. By the time I turned thirteen, Bob was dead as well.
These two guys, Bill and Bob, where for me really cool guys. They were friendly, cheerful, considerate, and polite; pretty good choices by my sisters with whom they wanted to share a lifetime. Mom and Dad liked both of them as well. Bill and Bob became part of our family. They were always at our house. It was a hang out place. They became part of our family. Then suddenly, tragically they where not part of our family, that we could physically be with. Still, they’ve always remained part of my life. When your eleven years old or thirteen, to have a brother-in-law who is a pilot, that is really cool. I used to make model airplanes of the planes that they flew. They even helped me with the decals to show me exactly where the decals belonged.

A sudden and totally unexpected death like this is an amputation. Of course it is not a physical amputation. It is an emotional and mental amputation. A slow death is just as painful, I’m sure. But, a sudden death has the added dimension of shock. This shock may be good or bad. When Bill died, I had been out and away from home. When I arrived back at my house, I knew something was up.
Gee, I remember cars parked in our driveway and along the front of our house on the street. The front door was open. I recognized the cars. What? I went in and Lynn Wade and Emily Sasaki were there in the living room. They both saw me as I stood there listening to Pat crying out in our lana’i. I heard Lynn say, ‘Bob, Bill had a plane crash and he’s dead!’
For Lynn to say this, so matter-of-factly like she did, was the way it should have been said. Lynn was obviously a very well educated person. I never saw an adult read as many books as she did. She treated me, my sisters, her kids, everyone the same. Both of my sisters had a close relationship with Chuck and Lynn. I always had the same great respect for her and Chuck. It’s interesting. I will explain something about that later.
Bill was buried at Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu. They never recovered Bob’s body. There’s an inscription at Punchbowl for him.
Both Pat and Jeannie moved on in their lives. Pat is married to Dave Carder. A really wonderful guy. He treated me much like an older brother in so many ways.
Jeannie married Vern Pfannenstiel, also a wonderful guy.
All families have tragedies, I would think. I do believe my own life pales in comparison to so many people when it comes to comparing personal tragedies. I have no idea if what I am going to say next of my sisters is going to make any sense or have any meaning for you. But, first, I want to share another little story.
I am a plumber, among other things. I was at a residence on Sandpiper Court in Hayward, California, looking at a coffee can protruding through a concrete patio with a sewer pipe in it. This sewer line was clogged and definitely needed to be cleaned. The residence was full of kids with a mother and father.
A thought occurred to me that this coffee can had some significance, but I could not put my finger on it. The top rim was cut out of the can protruded through the concrete where it stuck above the finished patio surface about a half of an inch. The owners had set a large potted plant on top of it to hide this ugly thing. But now with the backed up sewer it had been rolled off to be exposed.
As the wife of this residence was showing me this coffee can protruding through the patio concrete surface, I thought maybe she and her mother had some connection with this coffee can. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea why I thought that. But it was an idea as clear as the ugly coffee can itself.
I cleared their line and had the house wife check all the drains in the house to make sure everything was okay. It was. She was standing there asking me what I thought caused this. It was roots in the line, I told her.
Meanwhile, I was still wondering about the coffee can.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to sound silly, so I had to ask her, ‘I have this crazy idea you have a connection with your Mom and this coffee can.'
She looked at me strangely as anybody would and I was fully expecting a remark like, ‘What are you talking about?’ But, instead, she said. ‘My mother passed away just recently. This house used to belong to my dad and her. I inherited it from her. She hated this coffee can. She was really upset that my dad put this stupid coffee can here instead of making a completed pipe to the surface. You know, nice and clean.’
What could I say? Of course I said I was sorry for her loss. My own mother and father had also passed away, only years earlier.
As she was looking at me trying to understand how a complete stranger could know of such a personal family matter, I went on to further explain, “One morning, maybe twenty years ago, I was visited by my grandmother with whom I was very close. She’d been dead for quite a few years. I always wondered, how she was. Nevertheless, on that morning when I awoke, I realized my grandmother, Mimi, was there. She had a big grin on her face which told me, not in words, that everything was great. It was her way of letting me know not to worry about her and that she was fine, happy… that everything was great. When I was fully awake, all I could say was, “Wow!”
About a month later, another similar situation occurred. Again, just as I was awakening, a Southern Ute High School boy named Joe came to me and said, again, not in words, “Tell Lisa, not to worry! I’m (Joe) fine!
“What?” I thought to myself as sat up and rubbed my eyes. There I sat, stunned. “Wow!”
Joe was an acquaintance of mine. I had met him through Lisa, his girl friend. Lisa was the daughter of Sue who was a close friend of mine. I was living in Durango, Colorado at the time. That morning, I drove out to Sue’s home in Ignacio which is about twenty miles away. When I arrived and walked up to her house, Sue met me at the door with tears in her eyes. She said, ‘Oh Bob, I’m so glad you are here. Last night Joe was walking along the highway and he was struck and killed in a hit and run. Lisa is beside herself in grief."
I went in and then shared with Lisa what had occurred that morning, with Joe coming to me and wanting me to let her know that he was okay. I went on to tell her how he didn’t want her to worry. This seemed to give Lisa some comfort in her state of shock and grief.
I stood there relating this to this housewife which seemed to be exactly what I was supposed to do. She said, ‘I’ve been in a state of grief ever since my mom passed away. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I have been wondering deeply how she is. Now I think I know. Thank you!
So, now having shared this interesting event, I would like to share this. I don’t believe life ends here. I believe life is only better and full of goodness after this life, but here’s the catch. You can only partake of that greater goodness by what you take with you from this life. Although infant deaths here are tragic, there is only goodness for them in the next.

The photograph of my sister Pat, Mom, BJ (Jeannie) and me was taken two days after my father passed away and Jeannie’s husband Vern passed away. Both within twenty-four hours. At the time, my mom was living in Birmingham, Alabama, the same city as Pat and Dave. Jeannie and Vern were living in Las Vegas. As a family we didn’t know which way to go. Pat, of course, stayed there to help my mom while I flew from Maui to Las Vegas. After Pat and my mom got dad into his resting place, they flew to Las Vegas where they joined Jeannie and I.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Each year while we were living in Nagasaki there was an International Sailing Ship Festival. Each year the Russians from Vladivistok would send a Russian Sailing ship to Nagasaki. I went down with my Russian sailor hat that I had from my first visit aboard a Soviet Union Military Ship in Stockholm obtained on June 22, 1965. They could not believe their eyes! How did you, an American get that hat???

Yes, it was a very special moment.


This is a Russian 'Ice Bowl!' Warning!

The most favorite Russian prank is to come up behind an un suspecting person (Americans are perfect for this. They are absolutely clueless!) and either push you or throw you into this Ice Bowl. Forget life! You are not getting out un-assisted. Well, you can wait till Spring! Russian winters have a reputation (it's true) for being loooong!

You are not going to claw, scrap, scratch your way out of this trap! Ice turns to stone in Russia.

Beware! Don't ever get too close! Russians will not care in the least if they know you or not. If you get too close and they can - you are in.

There! You have been warned!

Yes! This is one picture that I took from this distance!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Japanese Divers License

A drivers license in Japan. You take a written examination. They have one in English.
Then you take a drivers test. This Driver's test is on a course. A special course which is designed to challenge the most proficient driver. Ninty degree turns in just enough space, if you do it perfectly, where you will not cross over the line. You cross the line and you are 'out of here! Next!

Nobody passes a Japanese driver's test on the first time. I am not saying that because I did not get mine. Even in Japan this is understood. On the first examination they evaluate you. That is IF YOU SOMEHOW MANAGED TO GET THROUGH THE COURSE. They make lots of notes and even if you passed the course perfectly - you do not pass. Nobody passes the first time. On your second examination they evaluate you according to what you did on the first examination. If you do perfectly on the second examination - then you may pass. May!

There are a lot of factors. Your age. Your sex. Your disposition!!! A Raving Gaijin older male throwing a tantrum worked for me! I guess they just didn't want the hassle! Japanese do not throw tantrums! It may have something to do with some of their lounges having signs: 'Japanese only!. which are common in Japan. But that is another story.

In Japan if you pass a drivers examination you get a 'green' license. This is a 'new' license. This is for 2 years. To get a 'blue' license you must have a 'green' license for two years without any accident or infraction.

You must renew a 'green' license once a year and take both examinations again. Written and manual.

If they had this examination here in the USA, there would no doubt be fewer accidents. No Doubt about it! Guaranteed!

This is a very sore subject in Japan. If you want to here sob stories from Japanese, ask them about this. I personally know Japanese that had to take the manual examination 18 times! Can you imagine! 18 times! I wanted to cry for them. Oh, did I mention the cost? Let's see what was it? I believe it was about US $85.00.

I am so proud of my 'blue' Japanese license! Wow! Look at it! Isn't it cool!

Would you like to know what it says? The second line is my name in 'Kana' Japanese. The Third lines is my address: It is Nagasaki, Nishiyama District 2 House 13 -9. Cool, yeah?


The Russian word for Earth is Mir! The Russian word for peace is Mir!
Two Russians reflect and contemplate 'Mother'!

Wouldn't it be more comforting if we knew that other nationalities had the same consideration?


Superstitious ???

Hey Look!
We got the motor fixed!
No more empty bucket!
Let's go surfing.
Reference: 'Superstitious?'

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mike McPherson


Ray Tyson and I are at Mauna Olu College. It is mid day. One of the first days of the September Semester. We hear some commotion in the central drive of the Men's dorm. A car tooling in. Then we hear a voice at first we don't recognize. Then: 'Hey Bob! Hey Ray!.

We go outside and Mike is standing next to his car with his surfboard on top.
We walk out and he sees us.
'Hey, get your boards Maalaea is going off!'
'Hey Mike. How are you? What's up?'
'Maalaea is going off. At least 12' I shit you not. I ain't going out there myself."
What! No shit!!!

Ray and I run down to the end of the balcony. Mike joins us. We look out toward Maalaea which is like, 15 miles away, but a straight downward eye shot, and you can see this ever so faint white little blips. It's the feathering of the waves.
Wow! Lets go.
Ray and I follow in my car.
We arrive around 2PM. We paddle out and it is a solid double overhead and barrels like you would not believe.

Have you ever seen Maalaea around 6' or bigger? The wind usually is strong.
The wind coming across the waves into the lip of the wave is just blowing it up.
It got bigger and bigger as the day went into afternoon and then evening and then darkness.
I have never ever seen Maalaea as close to this in size, ever since. There must have been a hurricane out directly south of the Big Island. You could actually see the lines all the way to Molokini.

On a long board, I have never ever gotten so deep into a tube as these waves. Mike, Ray and I surfed our brains out in these perfect giant waves.
We were so exhausted when we came in. It is a looong ride! Thank goodness the wind was behind us coming back out.
The next day it dropped down to human size and tailed off through the day. About 10 feet in the morning to head high at dusk.
Shee What were we? Some kind of freaks? Surfing straight through sunrise to sunset. No break. Dawn to Dusk. And And, no leash!!!!
But the long boards are easier to paddle. That's for sure.

That day I saw Mike and Ray so deep in the back of the pocket on 18 footers + I could not believe my eyes. Paddling out over these monster south shore combers! Shee!
VAT A DAY! We were rocketing! Like skipping stones! And loud! Deafening.

Like I say, I never saw it come close to that ever again. That would have been the beginning of our Sophomore year. Early September 1966.

Three Kailua surfers, one KSA, one WSC and one KBSC got the rides of their lives that day.

That was the last time I went surfing with Mike.

Mike died a short while ago.

This is kind of interesting. I am posting this here cause John Day, another old surfing buddy from Kailua was a very close friend of Mikes and 'Hey, not enough space on Facebook! Hi John!!! Like? I can just see it now. Next life: Wow what's all that commotion. Oh Hi Mike! What's Up? Bob, get your board! I got some great spots to show you!!!

Maalaea Bay

These waves have kept their same shape
for who knows how long, rising over
shallow reef and heaving white crests
toward blue recesses of the inner bay.
There are little differences now,
like this backwash off the seawall
guarding a string of condominiums
sprung from parched red dust ashore.
The kiawes were cut back to border
windblown acres of green sugar cane.
Small boats motor out, bound for deep
fishing grounds beyond Kahoolawe.
Across from the harbor the old store
still sells its famous hot dogs,
but the quiet in this evening sky
whispers of a coming dark, expansion
and rock groins to block new waves
from reaching the gentle arc of reef.
This bay is a haven for endangered
green sea turtles, their leathery heads
bobbing along inshore currents,
their flippers extended like wings.
A surfer watches blue waves advance
from the breakwall, feels the first
lift him as it passes under his board,
remembers when he first paddled out
into this bay thirty years before.
He pushes into a wave and feels wind
sear his face as he leans to keep
from falling, holding his edge high
in the wave as he rides to calm water.
His legs feel like taut springs again,
they absorb the quick chatter of offshore
wind dimples under his speeding board.
He guides a line sliding to the blue bay,
climbing in steep pockets of water,
the white crest closing on his shoulder
as he rides beyond aging, past changes
indelibly etched and yet to come,
hurtling toward a place without time.

Poem my Mike McPherson

I Can't!

You want me to tell them that!!!

Are you crazy!

I can't tell them that.

A lot of them know me!

Yeah, well, I know!

They'll die laughing!


So, let's see here. Which is more important? A nighthawk. A 80 Corvette. A house. Or... traveling around the world for 10 years.


This tower was built in 7 days! Ivan the Terrible, Czar of Russia built it.
It was built in 1582 just after he conquered Kazan, the Kremlin of the Tatar State along the Volga River.

After a bitter war lasting over two years, Ivan brought in Swedish miners who dug under the Volga River and dynamited the Kremlin wall. The King of Tatar was killed. The Queen was a very beautiful women. Ivan wanted to marry her. She refused. After some time, he persisting, she said: If you can build the tallest building in Kazan in 7 days, I will consent to marry you.

Ivan the Terrible had his engineers design and build this 7 storied tower in 7 days. It leans a little.

The Queen, shocked said she would marry the Czar. She wished to convey her farewell to the Tatar people and called the Tatar people to the square around this tower. She went to the 7th tier and bid them farewell. She jumped to her death!

My sister Jeannie and best friend Shamil Fattakhov here. Jeannie was here in Russia to fulfill her life long dream of attending the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. We traveled through Kazan on our way to Izhevsk on the Siberian Train.

Jeannie as a child ballerina filled her dreams come true here. She passed away a year later succumbing to cancer.

God, thank you for letting me participate in this moment!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chapter Grow Up

In my sophomore year of college, the Government changed the rules. Our government said, “Hey kids, no more boxes”. What? In 1967, I got yanked out of college and told to go kill gooks.

Well, of course, that’s not exactly what the government said. What they actually said was, ‘We do not presently have enough volunteers to wage ‘police action’, ‘not war’, in Viet Nam. We want you!

I was ‘the f word’, with ‘ed’ at the end! I was about to serve the government of the US of A in the Army and go kill gooks. Well, they didn’t say ‘gooks’. But, once you’re in the military in Viet Nam, ‘Gooks’ became the official word for them.

What they wanted American boys to do was to go to Viet Nam and kill ‘Viet Cong’ soldiers who were against the repression of Vietnamese by landlords who repressed and controlled the Vietnamese peasants. The US provided military support for the landlords who repressed the peoples of Viet Nam; indentured servants trapped in a state of virtual slavery. This was a condition which the US had lots of prior experience.

In the 1960’s, the US would not even allow black people to register to vote in the south. They called Blacks, ‘Coons’ and ‘Niggers’. Yes, I know, “America is the Greatest Country in the World”. I’ve been told that a hundred times or more.

So, this is what happened. I was in college on Maui. It was October. I received a phone call from my Mom and Dad one evening and they told me I had received an invitation from our Government to be a member of the Military. I was told to report to Fort Shafter in Honolulu for my pre-induction medical exam. My mom and dad had called a few people and they wanted me to fly over to Oahu the next day. They would meet me at the airport and take me to the Navy Reserve Headquarters where I was going to enlist in the US Navy Reserves.

So, the next day I flew to Oahu where my mom met me at the airport. We went to Zippy’s for dinner where we met dad. Afterward, we went directly across the street to the US Naval Reserve Center. My dad introduced me to the commander and he enlisted me into the navy reserves.

My father was a navy reservist. As an officer, he went to reservist meetings and completed two weeks of active-duty every summer for as long as I could remember.

Yesterday I was in college, surfing on Maui and disguised as a student. Now, it was I who was in the Navy. I flew back to Maui that evening and went to bed in my dorm room. I laid there on my bed and thought about what had just transpired. This meant I was going to have to fly back to Oahu every Wednesday for the remainder of this semester and go to reservist meetings, then fly back to Maui. My parents paid for this.

My mom and dad met me every Wednesday evening at the airport. We would go to Zippy’s for dinner. I would go to my reservist meetings for two hours, and then they would take me back to the airport where I would fly back to school on Maui.

Sept 1965 – May 1966, Mauna Olu
May 1966 – Aug 1966 Royal Grove Hotel (Summer job)
Sept -Dec. 1966 Mauna Olu
Jan. – Aug 1967 Royal Grove Hotel
Sept - Dec 1967 Mauna Olu
Dec. 1967 Boot Camp, San Diego
Jan – Nov. 1968 Corps of Army Eng. Surveyor
Nov. 1968 Active Duty, GLNTC (Great Lakes Naval Training Center)
March 1969 USS O’Bannon
Oct. 1969 Saigon
Dec 22, 1969 Discharged (Honorable)
Jan – May 1970 Mauna Olu
June 1970 Married

I went to boot camp in December of 1967. I knew my life had been turned upside down when it snowed in San Diego while I was there. It was a big deal. Snow in sunny San Diego was the equivalent of the old adage, “When hell freezes over…” I would start my active duty the following year in November at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Waukegan, Illinois.

While I waited, my dad got me a job at the Corps of Army Engineers doing some surveying. I worked there from January until the next fall when I went to Great Lakes to attend Boiler School.

At the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, they told us, as an added incentive, the top two students could choose their active duty assignment. I managed to come in first place in my class and got to choose my active duty station. No daaa here, Pearl Harbor. I was stationed at Pearl Harbor on the USS O’Bannon DD450, a Destroyer.

When I reported at the O’Bannon she was in dry dock for overhaul. I had to check in, ‘muster’ every morning on pier, then released from duty until the next morning. For three months, this is what I did. I lived at my parent’s home. I, of course, could have stayed on base at the barracks and had my meals there. But my room, with my own bed, home cooked meals won out. I drove to Pearl Harbor every morning to muster, and then either went back home or went surfing or body surfing. Oops, what’s going on here? This is active duty? When is the shit going to hit the fan?

I met an old high school buddy of mine, Chuck Borner. Chuck was actually a friend of mine I’d known since high school. He worked for a summer at my dad’s place, Look Laboratory at the University of Hawaii. He told me he had a really cool job swimming at the Reef Hotel in a water ballet show called ‘Polynesian Aquacade’. He said they might need another swimmer and the job paid $100.00 a show which they put on for tourists on Friday and Saturday nights.

I went to their audition and got hired immediately. I made $150 dollars a week from the Navy and an additional $200.00 a week from these two shows. Not bad.

Our ship finally got out of dry dock and then for the next several months we had to complete the retrofitting on it at dock side. So, for the next several months I worked on the ship, Monday through Friday, while living at my parent’s house. My work as a boiler- tech was to re insulate all the pipes in our forward boiler room which had two boilers.

With the ship at dock side, we were supposed to have duty every three or four days where we were to stay on the ship. We did nothing but stay on the ship in the event of an emergency. But, you could pay someone to do your duty. The going rate was $10.00 so I routinely paid others to complete my duty. There were lots of takers.

Most of the guys on my ship were not from Hawaii. In fact I only remember two others on my ship who were from Hawaii. Most of the guys wanted to make some extra money. Hawaii, as everybody knows, is an expensive place. A little extra money helped out alot.

We had rehearsals at the Reef Hotel on Thursday evening and knew what parts we were going to be in for our Friday and Saturday night shows. The guys were Chuck Borner, Cappy Shealy, Paul Straught Jr., John Gross and I. Our routines consisted of some individual performances, the ‘Hawaiian War Chant’ group number, and three or four adaptations from the movie, South Pacific. The girls were Paul’s wife, Toni, and three other girls. Two of which were the main stars of the show having had water ballet experience in The Olympics.

Our division officer, Lieutenant Fry, was a pretty cool guy and I got to know him pretty well. He might have been a year or two older than me. I gave show tickets to him and his wife for which they were very grateful. The next thing I knew, the captain and the executive officer found out about my show, so, I of course got them and their wives tickets as well. As performers, we generally received two free tickets to a show, if we needed them, to give away, unless, of course it was sold out. Both the Captain and XO also really enjoyed the show.

There were two guys in my Division with whom I got along with well. Duane Snyder and Mike Ferguson. During that summer, Craig Findeisen, a high school buddy was home from school on the mainland. We would play volleyball at his house every Sunday at noon. We had been doing this all the way through high school with a large group of friends. I took Duane and Mike over there for volleyball, beer and a barbeque a couple of times. They said that it was the high light of their time in Hawaii. We had lots of friends there; girls and guys, all playing volleyball with tons of cold beer. We’d all go jump in the ocean whenever we felt it got to be too hot.

All this was the good part and the good parts were actually pretty great. But, there was one little hitch in all of this. We had a chief petty officer by the name of Boogs that was a thorn in my side. He had pretty much figured out I was home here in Hawaii. He saw my whole life style and it irked him something fierce. I could tell he just hated me. He started trying to do anything he could to try to get me in trouble. The problem for him was I never did anything bad. When I worked, I worked hard and did a good job. The guy immediately under him, 1st Class Petty Office, Seawright, liked me and Lieutenant Fry, our division officer immediately over him, really liked me, almost like a personal friend. Boogs tried to get me court-marshaled because I always sold my duty. The next thing that I knew, Boogs gets re-assigned to another ship in… well, who cares where?

So, by the end of the summer I am friends of the captain, the chief executive officer, our division officer, our newly promoted forward boiler-one petty officer-in-charge Seawright, Duane and Mike who were 2nd and 3rd in-charge who are like good friends.

We retrofitted the boiler rooms all summer long and into September.

One day at muster, the XO, Lieutenant Fry and another officer are standing there in front of us. I am next to Mike and Duane as I usually was. Duane suddenly says to Mike and I, ‘Hey, that officer is SEALS. What the heck is he doing here?!’

We complete muster, everyone is checked in and Fry calls me over. Mike and Duane look at me and say. ‘Nice knowing you Bob!’

Little did they know.

Fry introduces me to this SEAL guy and then says, ‘Let’s go get some coffee’. I look at Seawright who nods that he understands, so we all walk over to the mess hall. The Officer’s Mess Hall. We are joined by the XO. We chit-chat about ‘the South Pacific Revue, my surfing, etc., Then this seal guy says to me that he could use me to do some training if I would be willing to help.


He tells me he would like me to go to Vietnam and help him train other navy seals how to paddle zodiacs quietly and swim quietly and efficiently.

Double “What?!!”

He goes on to tell me they need to use zodiacs, which were sturdy rubberized rafts, and he needs someone to teach them how to paddle quietly to avoid detection by the enemy.

‘You got to be kidding!’
‘They needed me to teach them?’

He wants me to train navy seals, the toughest, most well-conditioned fighting men in navy uniform?

“Nope! No Way” , I say.

He explains to me that SEALS are deployed by riverboats into zodiacs. He says it is a disaster. They sometimes just start spinning in circles. It’s ridicules.

I tell him, ‘You want me, a Boiler Technician to go to Viet Nam and train Navy SEALS how to paddle a zodiac and swim quietly?’

He looks at me and says: ‘No! I want you, a professional surfer and swimmer to go to Viet Nam and help your country by training our men. Your Captain, XO and Division Officer Fry think you are our man.”

I look at him while I am saying to myself the s word, ‘Look! I can’t get involved with combat! Nothing good is gonna come of this.’

“We are not asking you to go into combat. We are asking you to help train our guys two things. They just happen to be in Viet Nam.”

This whole time the XO and Fry are sitting next to us. Fry who knows me the best, jumps in. ‘I might have an idea. Look, it’s the beginning of October. Why don’t you offer Bob a 2 month training program and give him a early Honorable Discharge. He’s Reserve. Give him a early discharge and knock off his Reserve time. He wants to get back to college anyway.

The SEAL looks at me and says: ‘That works for me! You come over to Viet Nam and train our SEALS for two months and you will get your Honorable Discharge before the end of December.’

To myself: Shit! ‘Were is this place in Viet Nam?’

‘It’s safe!’

“I get a Honorable Discharge and am completely out of the service by the end of this December? No Reserve time?”

He holds out his hand to shake.

I contacted Mauna Olu College and they would allow me to resume my college studies for the 2nd semester in January.

I was transferred to the West Pac, Cam Ranh Station, Vietnam, Seals Unit and began an intense training course of swimming and paddling rubber zodiacs with plastic and aluminum handled paddles.

I trained navy seals, not to kill, but, just to get quietly from point A to point B in the water.

The seals I trained were apparently never told very much about me other than I was a professional swimmer and surfer. I don’t think they even know my rank. It was on a first name basis with them. Each of them was either higher ranking enlisted men or officers. Except at the mess hall, I never saw them in uniform.

I was assigned to officers’ quarters and given my own place with maid service. I ate in the Officers mess hall there. I always wore “civies”. (civilian clothes).

Vietnam was very hot and humid. It was really a saving grace that we were in the water as often as we were.

We trained every day from dawn to dusk. They did not have a clue about how to paddle. It was just like the Seal guy had told me. I first taught them how to paddle. We would all use the exact, or as close to the exact, same paddle stroke. I taught them how to extend the paddle ‘in hand’ out to the end of their reach, then enter the water with the paddle perpendicular to the water. Full blade submerged… then, pull the blade through the water, smoothly… then silently have the paddle exit the water. Then lay the blade flat across the water while they returned back to the forward reach where they would re-enter.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I literally had them line up in knee to waist deep water and show them the stroke. First using the left hand, and then switching over to the right hand. My objective was to have them all paddle the exact the same way; the same identical stroke. I wanted them to be able to sit in any position. It didn’t matter whether that sat on the right side of left side of the Zodiac, I wanted them to paddle in unison with any other set of paddlers. In each of the four Zodiacs we’d have three paddlers on each side, with two extras in the middle. The forward left paddler was the lead. The right rear was the steersman. The lead paddler set his blade in forward extended stroke, held it for a couple of seconds, then lifted it a few inches and then in the same motion reversed and entered the water. Each of the other paddlers would focus on his pace and match it.

Together…pull together, out together, slide forward together and enter together, pull together, out together. Being all together… that was the key to it all. The steersman would occasionally correct for direction, but, each paddler was to maintain the matched stroke of the lead paddler.

After about three days they began to see where we were going with this training. After a week they started honing their strokes. After about ten days they were finally making occasional periods of sustained movement where the Zodiac finally glided silently on course through the water. I was in a leading fifth Zodiac so I could watch and coach them when they did it wrong. After two weeks, we could switch any paddler in and out of any rotation without there being a problem. For the next six weeks we paddled, every morning for two hours, and every evening for two hours. After breakfast we trained in the pool.

Now I had to teach them to swim. Me, teaching navy seals how to swim. Imagine that.

When it came to paddling, none of these guys had any real prior experience like this. So, in effect, it was easy to start from scratch and train them. No bad habits.

But swimming was a whole different story. All these guys knew how to swim and obviously the seals had allowed a great deal of latitude in the way they swam. I literally had to teach two of our ‘South Pacific Revue’ acts to teach them to be able to sustain their flotation using only their legs instead of their arms. This was the most grueling tiring aspect of the training. But, it worked… and it worked beautifully.

About a week before Christmas, I received my orders for discharge at West Pac Headquarters, San Francisco.

I said my farewells to everyone and packed up. I flew out on a military transport to Travis Air Force Base a couple of hours out of San Francisco. We refueled in Guam.

I could not believe it. After thirteen months in the service, I was soon going to be a free civilian once again and with an honorable discharge. No reserve time requiring me to go to meetings every Wednesday night on Oahu. No two week active duty every year for six years. Geez! It felt great!

I landed at Travis Air Force Base and bused into Fort Mason in San Francisco. My plane touched down around 2:00 PM on December 19th. A Friday afternoon.

I arrive at Fort Mason and stepped out of the bus. I stood there.

I look up and there is the Golden gate bridge. Wow! This is exactly were I was at the age of 6 when I was leaving to go to Hawaii on the USS Barrett. Surprise. Surprise. Very same dock. Very same month, December. What was it? 15 years ago almost to the date. I was 6 years old leaving with my mother, sister Bobbie Jean and my Grand mother to go to Hawaii and join my father already there.

I don’t have time to reminisce.

I went over to headquarters, walked in, and go up to the desk. The clerk looks at his watch, turns and looks at the clock on the wall behind him and tells me, still looking at the clock, like the clock is printing this out for him to read it to me, ‘Sorry, not enough time today to complete the paperwork for your discharged. Tick, tick, tick. You will have to wait until Monday Morning.’tick, tick, tick. He turns around now, to look at me, to see that I have understood the printed out message in his brain.


I had a choice of staying there on the base or go where I wanted but I was to return promptly at 8:00 AM Monday morning. Shit! A whole weekend. What to do?

I walked back outside and stood there looking at the Golden Gate bridge. What to do? There I was in my Navy Blues. I could stay there on base or leave for the weekend. What should I do? I decided to walk up to highway 101 and hitch a ride going north. I really had no idea where I was going. I just needed to get off base and find a little space of my own.

I walked up to the highway. Duffel bag over my shoulder. I stuck out my thump. A yellow mustang pulled out and came along next to me. He reaches across the passenger seat and rolls down the window.

“So, where you going, sailor?” he asked.

“Not sure”, I answered, “out of town for the weekend.”

“My name is Joe”, holding his hand out, through the window. He had red hair and a friendly, pleasant face.

“Hi…Bob”, shaking his hand.

“So, you really have no idea where you’re going?” Joe inquired.

“Well, no. I was supposed to have been discharged and heading home. I just found out I have to wait till Monday morning. It’s a military thing. Hurry up and wait!”

“Do you know anything about Marin?”

“Marin? Oh, yes it’s just over the bridge.”

“Have you ever been in this area?”

“No.” We are now driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge that I had walked up to and crossed over with my mother, sister and grandmother almost exactly 15 years ago. It has not changed. Did I think it would? I hadn’t thought about it at all. And this is not the time to think about it. A 16 hour flight. My ears are buzzing. All I want to do is sleep.
“What I would like to do, I think, is just find a nice quiet place to sleep. Away from anything military.”

We are almost over the bridge.

Joe says: “I know of a place that fits that bill.”

“I’m sure it will do just fine. If it’s quiet and has got a bed it will be fine.”

“Where’s your home?”



“Yeah, just about my whole life. I went there on a ship back in December of 1954. That was fifteen years ago this month. We sailed right out there, underneath the bridge. Wow, that was a trip.” My dad was already in Hawaii. I was sailing there with my grandmother, my mother and one of my sisters.”

“What ship did you sail on?”

“The USS Barrett. It was a military transport ship.”

“So, you were in Vietnam and now you’re getting out. What’s your plans?”

“Well, right now, I’m going back to college. I’m scheduled to be there on the third of January for the second semester. It’s a small college on Maui; a two year college. I was attending there when I received my draft notice. I choose to enlist in the navy rather than slammin’ me into the army without a choice.”

So, there we were, two guys tooling up highway 101 and passing through the lush green hills of Marin County . We exited off at Mill Valley.

“This place, The Fireside Inn, is locally owned. It has a good reputation. Clean, reasonable. They have a food establishment. Should be okay. They also have bus service into The City all morning long. You shouldn’t have a problem getting back to your base on Monday morning. They probably even have the bus schedule inside. The bus leaves from right there,” he pointing at the bus stop, he said.


He seemed reluctant to leave right away.

“Let’s go in and check” he added.

We walked in and right away we see the manager walking through the lobby. She smiles and asks us, “What can I do for you gentlemen?”

I replied, “I need a place for tonight, Saturday night and Sunday night. I’ll be checking out early Monday morning. Hopefully, you’ve got a real quiet room ‘cause I’m beat. I just had a very long flight and...”

She cuts my off. “So, just for you?

“Yeah, it’s just me.”I replied.

“Let’s see…you’re a fairly big guy. I got a king-sized bed far away from the street noise. I can even give you a military discount… let’s say, twenty bucks a night. So, sixty dollars for all three nights. Is that going to be okay?”

“You have solved my problems.” I take out my wallet and pay the woman.

“Is that all you have for luggage?”
Yep, just this duffle.”

“Okay. Fill in this register card, sign here. Here’s your key. It’s right down the hall, third door on the left. Our restaurant opens at 5:30 each morning and closes at 10:30PM.“

“Sounds great.”

Joe, said, “He needs to be back at his base by 8:00AM on Monday. Do you know if you have a bus schedule for him?”

“Yes, sir. It’s right over there on the wall. So, you have to be over at Fort Mason by 8:00AM?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I would suggest the express at 6:45. You’ll have a little time to kill once you get there, but, at least you’ll be on time” she suggested.

“Do you know if I’ll need to have the exact amount for the fair?”

“It would be a good idea, but I’m sure you don’t have to. It’s going to run you three\dollars and seventy-five cents.”

“They might even let you ride for free if you’re in uniform.”

“Well it’s in uniform or nude”, I laughed.

I turned to Joe, “Thank you Joe. I’m just about done in. I should probably take a shower and get something to eat before crashing.” I reached out to shake his hand. “I really appreciate the lift and this place looks great. Thanks!”

“I have an idea,” Joe said. “You go take your shower and let me buy you dinner.”

“You’re, kidding. Your family will be waiting for you, won’t they?”

“I’ll give ‘em a call.”

“Well, okay. Thank you. Let me go freshen up.”

I went to my room, threw my duffle on a chair next to a chest of drawers. I pulled out my personal gear and jumped in the shower. When I walked back into the lobby, Joe was standing there staring out the window. He hears me and turns. “How you feel?” he asks.

“I’m a zombie, but, at least now I’m a clean zombie.”

“Good, let’s get some grub.”

“Sound’s good.” I added. “I’m actually very hungry.”

We sat at a table next to the window and we each picked up a menu.

“Do you drink alcohol?” he inquired.

“I could definitely go for a beer.” I answered.

Joe turned to find a waiter. Finally, a waiter came over to our table. “You guys ready to order?”

“What kind of beer do you have?” Joe asked.

“We’ve got Heineken on-tap. We also have Miller, Bud, Schlitz, and Coors. We have...”

“I’ll take a draft Coors.” I jumped in.

“And you Sir?”

“Get me a Scotch and water on ice.” Joe said.

“Okay, our special for the evening is prime rib. It’s your choice of either a twelve or sixteen ounce cut. I’ll be right back with your drinks.”

“I’ll definitely go for that prime rib.” I volunteered. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff I’ve been eating for the last two months.”

“That good, eh?”

“Yeah… right.”

“Yeah, I think I’ll go for some of that prime rib, too. It sounds good to me as well.”

“So, you know what I do, or did… So, what’s your profession?” I asked Joe.

The waiter arrives with our drinks. “Here you go gentlemen.” He sets them on the table for us and takes out his pad to take our orders, “You guys both going for the prime rib?”

“Oh, yeah! And, if it’s bigger than sixteen ounce, that would be okay with me, too” I said.

“We’ll see what we can do, and you sir”.

Joe chimed in. “Tell you what. I’ll go for the sixteen ounce cut as well, but, if you can, could you take about four ounces from it and give it to this guy.”

“That I know we can do”. The waiter winked and turned to go back into the kitchen.

“Hey, do you guys have any of your famous sourdough frenchbread?”

“Coming right up.”

The waiter leaves. I take a sip of my beer. Joe takes a sip of his drink. There is silence.

“I’m an insurance broker… you know, an insurance agent. My wife and I have our own agency, plus I also work for this broker friend of mine in the city.”

“What kind of insurance,” I asked, as if I was some expert in something about which I actually knew nothing. “You know… Life, Auto, Fire… that kind of thing”

“ Yeah,” he laughed, “all that kind of thing.”

I wanted to keep the conversation moving so I asked, “And, your family…?”

“Wife,.. two boys… two girls. The two oldest, a boy and a girl are both married. My youngest son is at Berkley and I have a daughter who just graduated from high and cosmetology. She’s a “beautician”. I just found out she’s skiing this weekend.”

“Sounds like a nice family, Joe.”

“Yep… it sure is.”

“And you? You mentioned, what was it… a sister?”

“Two sisters. Both of my sisters are older. Pat is eleven years older and Jeannie is seven years older. I was born right after the war. I think I was their last try for a son.” I said laughingly.

“So, tell me more about this college you’re going to?”

“It’s just a small college on Maui. Private. They have a four year Bachelors in Humanities Degree. I’ll be going back and finishing my second year in January.”

“What then?”

“Then?” I hadn’t thought much about “then”. I quickly covered for my lack of forethought for my future. “Then, I’ll be making that decision in the next five months.”

“You know… it’s a small world. I’m pretty sure my youngest daughter’s best friend might be going to this very same school.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I said. “I’ll have to look her up.”

“On Maui. Right?”

“Yeah, the University of Hawaii is starting a community college there, but, I think it doesn’t start-up until next year. So, yeah, Mauna Olu is the only college presently on Maui.”

“Well, it must be the same one” he insisted.

Our meals arrived. I had this huge slab of prime rib on a platter with… I don’t want to talk about it. It was simply great!

We eat and talked I don’t recall all of our conversation. Probably, stuff like his other kids, his house. He likes to build and do carpentry.

I was pretty much wasted. The more I ate, the more exhausted I became. We finished our meals. It was a wonderful evening. I do remember taking a bunch of bread and extra butter back to my room with me.

I thanked Joe again then he left and I went back to my room. I think I might have turned on the TV and flipped through the channels. I’m not sure. I was in dire need of sleep.

When I woke up, it was already mid-morning. Uhg! Where am I? Oh yeah, wow! Wow. Geee!

I crawled out of bed and started walking to the bath room when the phone rang. It scared the crap out of me that much I remembered. I walk over to it and picked up the receiver.




“How did you sleep?”

“Uh, I think like a rock.”

“This is Joe. I wanted to ask you something.”

“Hi, Joe. Good, is it morning?”

“Yes. What I wanted to ask you is if you would like to go into The City tonight to the ‘Playboy Club?”
There was a long silence. “Well, that’ll be a first for me” I responded.

“So, is that for a yes?”

“What time?” I asked.

“I’ll pick you up around eight.” Joe said.

“Okay, will it be just us?”

“Yeah… men’s night out” he added.

“Okay, then… eight it is.”
That day, I walked into Mill Valley and shuffled around this little Marin County town.
I ate a little here… a little there, and then bought a book. I bought a shirt, slacks, and a really nice pair of black shoes. I bought a matching black belt to tie the whole ensemble together. I was still wearing my navy pea coat and it fit in perfectly with my “civies”. Any thing would. A good pea coat can cover any violation of fashion law.
I bought a loaf of sourdough bread and some butter. I added some sausage and a bottle of inexpensive red wine then walked back to the Fireside. I might have taken a nap, I don’t remember now. I might have even watched a movie on TV. I headed into the dinning room in the evening and eat another prime rib dinner with a Coors draft. I couldn’t believe how much I was eating… I just couldn’t seem to satisfy my hunger.
I waited in my room until just before eight o’clock, and then went out to the lobby. I saw Joe’s car come into the parking lot and went out to meet him.
So, that night we went into the city to the Play boy club for a show and drinks.
It was an enjoyable relaxing evening. Joey Bishop was the performer. “Jeez... I was watching Joey Bishop” I kept thinking to myself.
It was around 1:00AM when we left the club and Joe drove me back to the hotel where he dropped me off. He said he had to go into The City on Monday morning and asked me if I would like him to drive me there and drop me off at the Fort Mason. I said that would be great.
On Sunday, I might have gone for a walk. I think I did... or I might have read in my room.
The next morning I repacked, ate and waited for Joe. He showed up right on time. When he dropped me off at the Fort, he handed me a picture of his daughter, Gwen, Maybe I would meet her someday.
I was processed out of the service and officially became discharged from the navy with an honorable discharge. I looked at it. It looked official. The clerk, the tick tick brain clerk handed me my discharge. He says to me, ‘If you’re a Boiler technician why were your discharge orders from Viet Nam?”
“Because I was training SEALs at West Pac, Cam Ranh Station, Vietnam, Seals Unit. See there?” Pointing at the discharge originating papers on his desk.
He looks at it again. Like it is just sinking in to this 3rd Class ranked clerk, who out ranked me. “What? You were in Cam Rahn? No shit?”
“Why would I shit you? You’re my favorite turd!” I turned and walked out with my discharge papers in my hand. It was 9:00AM on December 22. It had taken less than thirty minutes to discharge me even though I had to wait all weekend for it to happen.
I won’t tell you what the tick tick clerk said. It isn’t worth the time. And besides. I now ‘out’ ranked him.
I was free! Unbelievable! I hopped on the bus to Travis Air Force Base and that afternoon I was on a flight home. To Hawaii. Free!
My mom and dad would meet me at the airport. They seemed to be more excited than I was. Still, I couldn’t believe I was home for Christmas and New Years.
I had two weeks to get used to being free again before school would slap the cuffs back on me. All my friends were home for the holidays. We had parties… and parties… and more parties.
One day I nostalgically drove out to Pearl Harbor. The O’Bannon was gone. It was on a Westpac tour to Vietnam. It had departed the third week of October. Bye Duane. Bye Mike. Take Care. Aloha! I had just missed it. And to think, I would have been on it if I were still in the Navy. Jeeez.
I felt like I had dodged a bullet. This is my first time I’ve written about this aspect of my life. To this very day, there are still too many deep emotions for me
I would like to say something about this moment in my life that goes toward an explanation for the emotions I was feeling. I feel a little bit of disconnect from it all. See, what I mean is… usually you might think this emotion is routed in something traumatic…maybe part of something horrible. But, it wasn’t horrible for me. It could have been, as it was for a lot of people and a lot of families, but not for me. I was spared.
Where do I begin? I remember watching the news in high school; Walter Cronkite graphically showing us the events taking place in Vietnam. The bombings… the killings... the grim faces of soldiers… the bleeding… the screaming. I would cry out “Where is Jesus?”
There were demonstrations against the war at Mauna Olu College on Maui and over on Oahu at the Manoa Campus for the University of Hawaii. Some of our student body and professors formed a protest and marched on High Street in Wailuku. Ray Tyson and I took part. Vietnam was awful.
I remember having classes at school were we would discuss the Vietnam War and issues such as the historical influence of the French in colonial Vietnam. I learned more about how America became involved in that part of the world. Most people aren’t aware about how the initial request for help came from the Viet Cong which we rejected. Who made these decisions? Was it purely for greed? I would discuss these issues with my parents.

In World War II, my father had been in the Seabees on Okinawa having progressively moved through the Pacific from one isle forward to the next. He saw the Japanese delegations coming in for the surrender.

He brought home a Japanese rifle. I don’t know anything about its history. Was it off a dead Japanese soldier? Most of them did not surrender. He gave it to me as a souvenir.

I do not know what experience you have had with any war. I do not know what knowledge of war you have. This was mine.

I have read War and Peace. I have read the, The Red Badge of Courage. I saw ‘Saving Private Benjamin’, but I don’t know who will save you?

Will you just continue charging off to war?

My parents called me one evening during my sophomore year and told me I had received my draft notice. I can’t begin to tell you what was going through my brain. Go to Vietnam? NO WAY!
There are so many ways this whole situation could have gone, other than the way it did. Who would I have become? What if…
Another consideration my parents and I discussed was for me to go to Canada and stay with Pierre and his wife in Quebec. Pierre was an oceanographic engineer who had worked on a project with my dad. They had become friends over the years. We, my mom and dad and I, went to visit them on summer vacation just a year or two earlier.
Pierre was rich. He and his wife had a beautiful home in Quebec plus another home on the St Lawrence River. This quaint little riverside property had twenty-two bedrooms, an expansive property along the width of the river rising up from it with a pier and a nice little yacht with which they could play. I captained the yacht as the four of them, my mom, dad, Pierre and his wife proceeded to get hammered. Pierre and my dad would go to the bow and dive off as we motored along. They would dog- paddle to the dingy as it came by and then grab on. They’d haul themselves into it, pull themselves back onto the yacht, run back to the bow and repeat the whole process. It was a race.
Pierre was the first to the bow at the beginning. My dad was at the stern. To start, Pierre would say ‘Go’ and dive in. My dad would take off running to the bow and dive in. By this time, Pierre was swimming madly toward the dingy to get in it to complete the circle. The race was to ‘catch the other and tage them.
Some have described this little game as an “Australian Pursuit Race”. My mom and Pierre’s wife where laughing spectators. I was captain on the yacht and observed the goings on of my parents, each three-sheets-to-the-wind. Oh, by the way, did I mention that this was in the St Lawrence River? Just how cold do you think this water was? Well, one of the two blue guys won. Pierre won, actually. But, he almost drowned laughing.
He cheated of course. He climbed onto the stern and just jumped, made a canon ball and landed next to my Dad. They’d all laugh. I can remember my mom looking at me and trying to tell me that, ‘well, this is, okay… you know…’
So, like I say, if the navy had not worked out I actually might have really learned another foreign language, in the case, French Quebequoise.
So really, how did this all come about? How did I manage to slip through this quagmire? I mean that literally. How did I slip through unscathed and come out better than when I entered the service? What right do I have to all of this? Do I even have the right to talk about this when there are those who did not slip through this quagmire… this hell, as all wars are. I could not. I will not. I cannot. I grieve… that is what I do.
Stop. Take a breath. Get up and walk around the room, Bob. Look out the window and reflect. Say a prayer from your heart.
…. Really, say a prayer from your heart. O Dios! Mi Dios! Mi bienamado. El desio de me correzon!
My heart must be Spanish. Every time I see a Spanish girl in a beautiful dress, my heart goes crazy.
Back to Boxes! But this time I own the box. Why not? I’m paying for it. I got the GI Bill.
On the very first day back, I meet a guy from our college, “Rumzie”. He and I head down to the Baldwin Beach tennis courts to play tennis and then jump into the ocean. We walk along the beach after tennis in the hot morning sun and we come up to two girls. Rumzie knows one of them, Sue Peterson. Her friend is a blond. We sit down to visit and introduce ourselves.
“Hi, my name is Bob. What’s your’s?”
“ Gwen” She says.
I took a double-take. ‘Gwen?’
Interesting. Here we are for a while when Rumzie and I feel the need to jump into the ocean. Sue and Gwen join us. Gwen takes off her wig to reveal her red hair. Jeez.
So, could this be Joe’s daughter, I thought.
We body surf in the shore break and then climb back out and go sit back on the beach with Sue and Gwen.
We spent the whole day at the beach before Rumzie and I head back up the hill to the school. There’s going to be a party that night.
I had this crazy idea (ask anyone) about getting a motor cycle and had bought one once and had it shipped over to Maui . It arrived a few days later, so for now, I was ‘on foot’ until it would arrive.
Oh, about this bike. It was me or the bike. The bike died.
That evening after dinner, the guys went out to Station Nine and smoked. Everyone went to the party. The Men’s dorm was off of the main campus and we had to hike up to it. The trail is called the Ho Chi Men Trail. It still is an extremely dark trail at night and, at best, it is a difficult place to find. But, it was twice as long if you walked along the road to the main campus.
I was so stoned. I hadn’t a clue who I walked with, if anyone, up to the campus. The party was to be in the open field next to the ad building. There was a large crowd of party takers already there. I’m sure most of them were just as stoned as I was. Sue, her boyfriend Tom, were also there. Rumzie and I might have walked up from the dorm. I definitely know Rumzie was as least as stoned as me.

This Mauna Olu crowd was the perfect antidote for getting back to ‘my life’. Everyone was blitzed out of their gore. It was a total immersion back into fun. Mauna Olu summer camp for every sore that ails ya. Geez! What a place we found.

So, anyway, Gwen was there and she was also blitzed. She was sitting next to this guy I would later meet in due time. His name was Jerry. I found a place in the grass, and on this grass I place my stoned ass.

A guitar was playing. Beer and wine was everywhere. Joints were being passed around. Gwen, in her haze, realized I had arrived and the next thing I knew she was sitting next to me. The clouds in the moon light floated by. The valley was clear. The Wailuku and Kahului lights were twinkling away. Everywhere there was laughter. Everyone was everybody’s friend. Mauna Olu … and all is right with the world!

So, that was like the weekend before lessons would begin on Monday. For the next two days I would not get too much sleep. I camped out at Tom Pretty’s place, but, this was not Sue’s boyfriend, Tom, I was in a VW bus with Gwen. We didn’t get much sleep. It was a bouncy, bug bus that weekend.

On Saturday morning, we walked down into Paia through the cane fields. Along the way, we saw one of the most enormous, giant Mr. Centipedes I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I shit you not. This guy was as long as my foot. Gwen could not believe her eyes. Shit, I could not believe my own eyes. I’d seen a few as long as eight inches, but this guy was huge.

We ate at Larry’s and continued with bottled water to Baldwin. That day I would learn all about Gwen and her family from her version as Gwen got a rather nasty Baldwin Beach sunburn. We headed back and stopped at Larry’s to eat and have a drink. I remember how Gwen would tell me later about this dinner. Gwen was not twenty-one yet and she could not drink. I was. She is concerned and shares her concern about being under-age.

I said, ‘If you sit and act like an adult, they’ll treat you like one and serve you.’ It sounds like a shit thing to say, but like I said, Gwen reacted appropriately and we were served.

Up to just a few years ago, Gwen never knew I had met Joe before meeting her. It was only when I wrote my son Ryan and daughter Katie about their grandfather that I told them.

Joe was a really great guy. We hit it off from the very beginning.

It was so funny. Gwen sent me air tickets to come up to SF for Easter Vacation that semester. When I arrived, Joe and I got together the whole next day and puttered around the house and garden, planting some ice plant along the front drive, getting caught up.

He had really disliked this guy Gwen was dating in high school. Gwen was the apple of his eye, so to speak. So, for whatever reasons, Joe never clicked with his two sons. They were just incompatible. But Gwen was ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’.

Over the years that Gwen and I were married, Joe and I would always be doing something together when we were visiting. He really would have wished we could have settled closer to him. We would visit frequently and every time we did, he managed to have a whole bunch of projects for us to work on together.

Jeez, one time he was building this house at the end of Sunset Lane and we spent most of our days working on it together, he, Uncle Jack and I. We had this huge beam we were going to set in place and he had asked Greg and Gary to stop by just so we could lift it and set it into place. It was heavy. Anyway, as usual, they did not show. I looked at this beam and lifted one end and kind of figured I could manage it by myself.

Joe wasn’t for the idea and didn’t want me to do it. But, it was all ready to go and we had to get this beam into place before we could continue with our project. I lifted this huge beam and carried it from #4 Sunset down to #12 Sunset and crawled up the ladder and set it. It was done… just like that.

Joe, as meticulous as he was, was right on the mark with this beam. He had measured it perfectly and cut it preciously. Like a glove.

Joe got cancer and died.

Ryan and Katie, his two grand children would not really have an opportunity to know him like I had… as had Gwen.

Anyway, back to Baldwin Beach. Gwen got really sun burned that day and she was pretty miserable that night as well as the next day Monday. We still bounced the bug bus that night but it was very little sleep for the two of us.

On Monday she flew back to San Francisco. No more “what’s-his-name” and Joe has a smile on his face.