Friday, November 23, 2012

Gooch and Pipes

      I received a package from the UPS man the other day....and that is the subject of this blog. 
     The package contained several small items that only a few of my closest friends would even recognize or know the story behind. Included was a rather disreputable tobacco pipe. Age and harsh conditions tend to make to make even treasures appear to have been maltreated...unless you know differently that is.
      This particular pipe had been: loved...treasured...helped ease it's owner's stress...and was damaged by the harsh conditions it was used in. 
     It was also rarely separated from it's owner.  
     I wouldn't even know how to calculate the number of pounds of tobacco that have been smoked in it, the hours it was held in his hand or has dangled from his mouth. I can still see and feel the owner's joy which would abound when a can of: Mixture 79 Cherry Brandy, Granger, or Kentucky Club pipe tobacco would arrive by mail. You knew that at the very first opportunity(normally shortly after the package was opened most of the time)the air would be filled with billowing clouds of sweet smelling pipe tobacco smoke.
    I've also seen this pipe filled in desperation with stale C-Ration  cigarette tobacco, which was older than any of us near it at the time the poor thing was filled and lit. I can't say I was thrilled  with the odor from the pipe or it's owner's choice of tobacco any time the two of them were reduced to this level of subsistence. But I knew they were more than friends or lovers...this wooden pipe and it's owner were part of each other.
    The only time I know for a fact they were separated during their long relationship was in Hue. The pipe's owner had been blessed with three AK-47 rounds to the chest and was in no mood to smoke...he was also(as we were to find out) in no mood to loose his pipe. When we could get a Med-Evac in...we had to promise to guard his pipe with our lives, before we could get him on the bird. I can't say that I blamed him...I understood his fear. He knew that in a contest between pipes versus lives...the decision will always go to the side of the human and he'd never see his pipe again.
    A week later I went to the hospital ship off shore to visit with my friend before he returned home, via Balboa. Did he say hello or thanks for going to the trouble to see me off? Hell no! 
    His first words to me were, "If you've come to tell me you lost my pipe...I'll kill you."  He, I, and his pipe were always close that way .... you can also tell just which of us he treasured the most from his greeting.
     He's separated from his pipe now and I'll never be able to return it to it's owner. But I think the next best thing is to take it to where I suspect "The Gooch"  is and leave it in good company. I'm going to visit that black slab with a long list of names on it. I'll go there at night because he rarely smoked his pipe till the safety of daylight. I will leave his pipe and three packages of tobacco...a man should have a choice at first light. It would be selfish to keep his pipe simply because it was a part of him.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

History and government lessons taught with cake.

     I'm like a lot of folks today...I find myself raising three of my grandchildren. This little twist of fate happened almost eleven years ago and came as a shock to both my wife and myself. We went to bed one night in an empty nest and woke up the next morning with two children in diapers and a five year old who didn't know her ABC's, colors, or how to count to ten. 
     But those facts aren't the main reason for this little  rant  from an old man, it's only part of the  foundation for why I'm writing this. It would seem, according to my oldest granddaughter I'm not even in the same class as a Neanderthal. She has firmly asserted that I'm possibly not far enough along on the evolutionary scale to even be considered human. You might say she feels so restrained by standards that are so .."just unreal in today's world." 
     Before you ask the question...yes we've had words  from time to time about just who is the adult and who is the child. She is always astounded by the simple word "no" and fails to understand why I refuse to allow her the "freedoms" of her peers. I've told her I'll only accept the best grades she's capable of...and "B's"  in  her case aren't even close. We have been at odds over several things since she became a "teenager"  which according to her is based on my inability to understand "just how much the world has changed.
     As an example she was shocked to learn that the end of World World II  Japan had not only the technological ability to deliver the atomic bomb they'd developed...but were preparing to use it. She was astounded at the very idea our form of government was not and had not ever been rooted or intended to be any form of socialism. She and her favorite teacher were astounded that I won't bend to the pressure of the standard I've set for how she'll dress.  They were both flabbergasted that anyone would challenge their wisdom...after all, no one should ever question "their" authority. But to challenge authority and present facts which differ from the now correct teenage views on the purpose of government,  American history or dating is just short of a moral outrage.
     My granddaughter loves the forbidden fruits of calories concealed in all things sugary, a simple fact that I most assuredly do not fault her for. But she also (at times) appears to be one very bright young lady who happens to be one very stubborn, persistent young woman (she gets that trait from her grandmother) when she even remotely believes she's right and I'm wrong. According to her..... this seems to be the case most of the time. 
     You might be thinking I withheld a piece of cake as punishment for her constantly telling me I have no knowledge of the real world which exist today. Or possibly I took offense to her applauding certain social programs or how socialism is really what America should have as a guiding set of standards for us to live by. No, the main reason I used the cake was to teach history and government in an effort to show my granddaughter her assertion about the last presidential election had consequences. 
     She was thrilled to see this election put us back on track towards a fairer form of government. One that will be just what our founding fathers had intended to create. I decided to show her just what tract we were now riding on. The results were very predictable...and enjoyable.
    One of her jobs in the house is to run the vacuum cleaner in the kitchen after school. I promised her a piece of cake if she would also mop the floor.The promise of a sweet bribe is always enough to get any job done without a debate and this time was no exception. She attacked the kitchen with enthusiasm only a teenager who is getting what they want can exhibit. I must admit I was proud of the way she worked...and she did do a much better job than normal. 
     When her brother and sister can through the door from school yelling for a "snack" I told them to wait. They grumbled about being starved...but waited. Once their older sister was finished I cut one very large slice of chocolate cake and put it on the plate she was holding.She smiled only the smile an angle would have at choir practice.
     I took the plate from her and divided it into four the astounded young lady hers last. The first words out of her mouth was it wasn't fair...she'd worked for that piece of cake and the others hadn't.
     I agreed with her, but explained that it wasn't fair for someone to keep something ...when others don't have the same thing.
    She angrily told me to let them work for their own piece of cake.
    I told her that the haves must share with the have not's in life....just to make everything fair...after all, that's the way socialism works. The largest share of cake should be considered the governments share to be used as I saw fit. After all, since I'm the government in this particular case...she didn't have a say as to what I did with her cake. I also asked her what she thought she was living under...a government that allowed you to keep what you earn?.