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Writing

December Directions

Lake Macbride State Park, Dec. 1, 2020.

Time to take a break for 2021 planning and to finish some projects before 2020 escapes into the mist.

I’ll be back soon. Be well.

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Writing

Processing Journals

Lake Macbride State Park trail, Nov. 30, 2020.

It’s never a problem to fill days with activity. Setting and working toward a broader goal is proving elusive during the coronavirus pandemic.

Activities once taken for granted are now impossible. So many people are on the lookout to prevent contracting COVID-19, causing massive deterioration of our shared social life. My reaction to the extended pandemic was reasonable: a decision to focus on my autobiography. Increasing parts of each day include such work.

In the Jan. 28, 2019 issue of The New Yorker, historian Robert Caro recounted a meeting with his managing editor, Alan Hathway at Newsday in 1959.

“Just remember,” Hathway said. “Turn every page. Never assume anything. Turn every goddam page.”

Caro took the advice to heart. My book won’t be as detailed as his books on Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. However, it is important to read what I’ve previously written and saved. It’s important to go through the souvenirs, books, boxes and trunks that clutter our household. When the pandemic recedes it will be important to visit places and again speak in person with friends and acquaintances. It is important to give things consideration as I distill them into a couple hundred thousand word memoir.

I started keeping a journal after graduation from the university. The first volume was stolen with my back pack in 1974 at a youth hostel in Calais, France. The rest of them sit on a shelf within arms reach of my writing table. There are more than 35 bound volumes and more in photo albums, media, three-ring binders and file folders in the next room. That’s not to mention photographs, the trove of letters I wrote Mother and got back after her death, or the thousands of blog posts and hundreds of newspaper publications. It’s a lot to read, examine and consider.

I don’t know what to do except begin and let the thread go where it will. With that in mind, below is the first journal entry that remains with me.

Winston Churchill Gardens, Salisbury, England, 11:45 a.m.

Very sunny here today near Stonehenge, and other ancient ruins. Stonehenge yesterday brought to attention the very tourist like notions of seeing something only to tell your friends about it when you get back. It may be that these days this is the notion you should have or at least most common, but it is also a notion of which I refuse to partake. It is only a very insensitive person who will go look and come back in one hour as the tour bus takes, but then there’s hours and barb wire fence to keep you from doing it any other way. Yet here too comes the notion that since there are so many books and pictures and articles about Stonehenge why even bother the few minutes to even see the thing.

On the way from the rocks to the return bus, the drivers were talking and one said to another, “It’s too bad it started to rain. It spoiled their trip.”

Here it seems that there is such a “holiday” preconception among these drivers (and all Britons as well) that it prevents them from seeing what is really, actually there: some rocks with barb wire about them with people crowded within these premises. At any rate, I was no different from the others when I paid my 65p and walked, took some photographs, and bought some postcards which I today mailed to the states.

Journals, Aug. 27, 1974
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Writing

The 1970s Part I

Lake Macbride State Park, Nov. 27, 2020.

My experience of the 1970s is book ended on one end by graduation from high school and attending the Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival in Heyworth, Illinois on May 30, 1970. On the other is cutting up my military service identification card on Nov. 25, 1979 at a party in my apartment near Five Points in Davenport.

Life was not what I expected.

Some of my high school classmates married immediately after graduation. I expected to marry a woman, yet that would not be until later in life. Like many in my cohort I left home to attend college rather than settle down. The following ten years were a time of adventure and learning about the world beyond my home place. I sensed life would not follow a standard path.

There was an unseen momentum that led me to attend and graduate from university. Father’s death in 1969 resulted in questioning the efficacy of the life I’d been planning with him. Had I not been awarded the full scholarship through the efforts of the meat packers union, I doubt I would have attended or finished at university. My last discussion with him was about studying engineering, although he did not affirm that I should. He was busy with his own struggles attempting to turn the page from working at a slaughterhouse to passing the state medical board examination required to become a chiropractor.

Before I left home I had a conversation in the living room with Mother about whether I should stay in Davenport to help her get through the loss of Father and help with my younger siblings. She wouldn’t hear of me staying and encouraged me to leave Davenport to attend university. After working the summer at the Turn Style discount department store I left for the University of Iowa. More than any other parental guidance, this conversation set the course for who I would become.

A person does not experience life by becoming set in patterns of existence. The whole idea behind automation was the elimination of routines. By allowing standardization of products to dominate the ambitions of men, we can reach the point where society is nothing more than a group of zombie-like creatures who are willing to conform to what everybody else does. This is why European thinkers criticized the machine as a cancerous growth on humanity.

School papers, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Fall 1970.

It seems appropriate my university coursework brought me to this conclusion about standardization. Few of us realized in 1970 what the impact of automation, branding, technology, communications, and dominance by corporate interests and other institutions would have on our lives half a century later. Part of my life has been standing up to such standardization. Even so, my 1970s were not that different from others.

I attended university, made a three-month tour of Europe, came back to Davenport for a year, then enlisted in the U.S. Army. By the time I returned to Iowa in 1979 — and collected all of my belongings from storage, shipped from Germany, and from Mother’s house — I knew I wouldn’t be long for my home town. This letter to the editor summarizes how I felt.

As a college graduate, I would like to believe that a rewarding lifestyle consists of more than a hefty paycheck with plenty of taverns in which to spend it. I would like to believe that my future in Davenport holds more than a secure family life.

Letters to the Editor, Quad-City Times, Dec. 30, 1974.

Looking back on the 1970s I see the beginnings of the same path I’m on today. While it was not a standard path it has been pretty consistent all along. I expect to continue, at least for a while.

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Writing

Lend-A-Hand Club

Mae Jabus

Editor’s Note: There is a photo of my maternal grandmother sitting at the kitchen table in our house on Madison Street at my first Thanksgiving dinner. She looks on while Father carved the turkey and Mother captured the photograph. I sat against the wall between them. This post is about my return to Iowa from Fort Benning, Georgia for a brief Thanksgiving visit before departing for Europe in 1976.

Grandmother lived near or with us from my earliest memories until we moved to the Marquette Street house in 1959. After that we visited her occasionally. More commonly, Father picked her up at her apartment and brought her to our house for a special meal, holiday or event. Eventually she located at the Lend-A-Hand Club at the foot of Main Street on the riverfront.

The Lend-A-Hand was established in Davenport in 1886, part of a national network of Lend-A-Hand Clubs — a place for young women who lived and worked away from home to associate in a safe environment. After Grandmother left the farm in Lincoln County, Minnesota, she found such living arrangements, either with the people for whom she worked as a servant or cook, or in small apartments in a subdivided single family structure. In 1973 the Lend-A-Hand Club was rented to the City of Davenport and converted to elderly housing. Grandmother was one of the first residents after that. The building was listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

I visited her often after leaving Davenport in 1970. I can remember her room as if I were there today. She took a couple of photographs during those visits and I use them from time to time to aid my memory.

When senior dining began at the Lend-A-Hand she volunteered as a hostess. She also used an electric skillet to cook some of her own meals in her room. I often shared meals she cooked during my visits. She worked as a cook, seamstress and housekeeper most of her life and was good at it. I keep a couple of recipes she wrote down for me in my cook book in the kitchen.

The 1970s hold fond memories of our time together. On Nov. 26, 1976 I visited and wrote this journal entry. It became important later in my life as I became involved in the local food movement. It is lightly edited because I couldn’t stand some of the usage.

Today I visited Grandmother at the Lend-A-Hand and we ate ravioli from LaSalle, Illinois. They hand pack it there. It is a treat whenever we get a chance to make some.

I wonder about the brand names which grace our pantry — Kraft, Nabisco, Campbell’s, Carnation, Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, Libby’s, Quaker Oats, Folgers, Post, Hershey’s — and marvel at the simplicity of the containers in Grandmother’s shared kitchen.

There are milk cartons with all the ladies’ names on them; bulky, shapeless packages with owners’ names written on them; old butter dishes covered and taped shut; white and tan boxes each with a name on them. It seems fitting that the name of the consumer rather than the producer or canner appear on foods awaiting the pot.

Perhaps these women are not swayed by the numerous labels enticing them from supermarket shelves. Maybe they learned that a carrot is only a carrot, no matter who laid hands on it. But food is food and when one has it, one is grateful.

Journals, Davenport, Iowa, Nov. 26, 1976
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Writing

A Standing Military

My Army Boots

Mother took me downtown to a federal office building to register for the draft. I was 18. I have my draft card with the Selective Service number on it in a trunk with other memorabilia from the time.

Dad served as an army paratrooper during the occupation of Japan. There is a photograph of him and Uncle Don, fresh from Tallahassee, with parachutes strapped on, ready to jump.

It was with a sense of family history, personal commitment, and duty that I followed the law by registering. Not all of my friends would contemplate entering military service, a couple of conscientious objectors were among my cohort. I felt no such compulsion and if I were called up, I would go.

In the eighth grade I had an assignment to read the newspaper and clip articles about topics which engaged me. The spiral-bound notebook I made has a section on the Vietnam War, including a newsprint photograph of a soldier that had just been hit by small arms fire and was falling to the ground. Going to the war was a real possibility, one I didn’t take lightly.

Like so many young people, I was enraged by the killing of four college students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. A neighborhood friend organized a peaceful protest march to the military armory. I carried an end of a mocked up coffin representing one of the dead students in Ohio. A photograph of us made the local newspaper. I came to feel strongly the Vietnam War was wrong.

I took a student deferment as I had the option, and wanted to exercise it, delaying military service until after graduation from the university. I ended up cancelling the deferment when it became clear during sophomore year my draft lottery number would not be called. I was off the hook and breathed a sigh of relief as the Vietnam War was ongoing, and only crazy people wanted to fight there.

The conclusion I reached once the war ended on April 30, 1975 was the military was a mess and citizens had a personal, civic responsibility to improve it. That led me to explore options for enlistment. I enlisted to become an officer and left Davenport in January 1976, the bicentennial year. It was somewhat patriotic.

When I arrived for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina I entered a different world. There were about a dozen white guys like me who had enlisted for officer training. They came mostly from New England and states above the Mason Dixon line. The majority of the company was comprised of local black guys and Puerto Ricans, many of whom knew each other from home and had enlisted together. There were a couple of white guys seeking to get on the draw with the Alabama National Guard, although they struggled to perform basic military tasks. At the time I believed Alabama did not send its best people. If you asked me in 1976 who would fight in our wars, my answer would have been black and Puerto Rican soldiers. It was a volunteer army and that is mostly who volunteered.

Ingrained in me was the liberal idea of equal rights under the law and equal protection. It mattered not that I was in a racial minority in basic training because it felt normal to me. I’d been exposed to different races and ethnicity when our family visited Florida where Father attended high school. I also shared a bunk house at YMCA camp to which staff had assigned all of the black campers plus me. Equal protection and equal rights used to be an American idea yet even as a grader I knew we had a long way to go. In South Carolina, in the military, it was obvious we weren’t equal as all the officer candidates were white.

The Unites States requires a standing military to meet our global commitments. Until the current president assumed office the United States stood as a force for good all over the world. Deployment on tough missions had become a norm. We continue to have a global military footprint, although its role has changed. Arms sales have become increasingly important to the U.S. under Trump’s “America First” foreign policy. The administration is changing the balance of power in the Middle East and elsewhere. We hope President Joe Biden can restore respect for the U.S. during his administration. What remains constant, though, is the need for a citizen armed forces and a standing army.

In his book, Who Will Do Our Fighting For Us? George E. Reedy, who extensively studied the selective service during the Nixon administration, wrote, “I believe that democracy can live more easily with the conscripts than it can with the professionals. The former do not like what they are doing — and that is precisely the reason they should be preferred.”

The need for military troops ebbs and flows. Some skills are highly specialized and require a longer term service commitment. Aircraft pilots are an example of this. For the most part, our military trains for specific missions and ramps up to meet staffing requirements. When operations end, units stand down. That is a normal progression and endemic to how the U.S. military operates. Having people from all walks of life, rather than dedicated professionals, enables citizens to witness our military and make sure we do good. That begins with a commitment to service, duty and honor when we consider our options in society. For me, the choice was easy.

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Writing

Laying Out Davenport

Antoine LeClaire Monument, Mount Calvary Cemetery, Davenport, Iowa.

By the time the City of Davenport was laid out, the Black Hawk War had ended. American men involved with the war, including some who would later become famous — Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, Winfield Scott, and Jefferson Davis — had departed. There was this land on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River.

With the Indian tribes removed, something needed doing with it, or so they believed. By any measure, the enterprise was a commercial venture in an arbitrary location. Its lackluster beginnings would haunt the city, certainly until I was born more than a century later.

(Spelling and punctuation preserved from the original text).

In the fall of 1835 a group of men met to form a company for the purpose of purchasing land and laying out a town site on the Iowa side of the river across from the fort. These men met at the home of Colonel George Davenport to discuss the issues concerning the town. Other than George Davenport the following men attended the meeting and became part of the company: Major William Gordon, Antoine LeClaire, Major Thomas Smith, Alexander McGregor, Levi S. Colton, and Philip Hambaugh. Another member of the company was Captain James May, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania at the time.

The spring of 1836, Major Gordon surveyed the land that was to become the City of Davenport. The spot selected was west of the LeClaire Reserve and bounded by what is now Harrison Street on the east, on the north by Seventh, west by Warren, and south by the river. It included 36 square blocks and six half blocks. The cost of the entire platt was $2000.00.

In May, the area had been divided into lots, streets, and a proposed business section. Then the enterprising company offered an auction. People were brought from St. Louis by a steamboat and docked on the river front. The sale continued for two days. During the day the area was shown and in the afternoon an auction was conducted. In the evening the ballroom of their steamboat hotel was turned into a place for a lavish party in hopes that the second day of the auction would be as big a success as the company had hoped for. Unfortunately the sales were far from what was expected. Only fifty or sixty lots were sold at $300.00 to $600.00 apiece.

The promotional adventure to sell the city of Davenport was not a success in the number of sales made or amount of money collected. Most of the lots went for low prices to St. Louis speculators who hoped to make a profit on a resale.

A Clearing in the Forest by Gayle A. McCoy
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Writing

Night Owls

Night owls.

Chances are someone in our household is awake.

I am an early riser, usually beginning my day by 2 a.m. My spouse is often still up from the previous day.

Two windows on the southwest side of the house are illuminated once I reach my writing desk, hers above mine. The planet Jupiter is not always hanging above us as in the photo. We are night owls.

Early rising provides a six-hour shift at my desk before the world wakes up. It is the quiet writers need.

Saturday I culled books. I purged duplicates from the stacks to be donated or given to friends, and put some in a reading pile. I spent the most time reading and considering books that were off grid. That is, they didn’t appear on Goodreads or Amazon, and they had no IBSN, a numbering convention that began in 1967. Many books I will consult for my autobiography predate IBSN. Others were printed privately. It’s a different world when we get off the grid.

I put Who Will Do Our Fighting for Us? by George E. Reedy, with an introduction by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, on my desk. The U.S. military, when I enlisted in 1975, was a backdrop for understanding the role of citizen participation in society. The dialectic Reedy explores is between a conscription and a volunteer army. Reedy favored conscription because such soldiers don’t like what they were doing. “That is precisely the reason why they should be preferred,” he wrote.

I participated in the draft lottery and had the number 128 when I was eligible to be called up. That year they called only through 125 so I could finish my undergraduate degree at the university and fulfill my selective service requirement without a student deferment. It turned out I enlisted after the end of the war in Vietnam.

The other off grid book was A Clearing in the Forest by Gayle A. McCoy. It’s a biography of Colonel George Davenport, one of the founders of his namesake city where I was born. I’m more familiar with his business partner Antoine LeClaire. The plan is to write 500-750 word historical/autobiographical sketches of important places in my life and use them to set the scene for autobiography sections. Both founders require further study before getting to the Davenport segment. I put the biography on my bedside table.

It was a decent fall day yet too cold for bicycle riding. I followed my usual walking route to the public boat docks and back, about 2.5 miles. I was the only trail user wearing a face mask. News media reported a run on grocery stores as there was at the beginning of the pandemic. It is getting dire with reports of high levels of infection in nursing homes, care centers, and at the state prisons. In normal times all of this would be scandalous.

On Friday the Carroll Times Herald published a story about family and friends who contracted the coronavirus. It is anchored around friends playing Euchre and how the virus spread among them. “A spreading sickness” is poignant and timely just before Thanksgiving. Link here to read the first of three parts.

I like the photo in this post. Under a clear sky, light shines from rooms where we live quiet lives. We turn inward for a few hours before dawn, focused on our work. We can be ready when the rest of the world wakes up. What we increasingly find is we are not the only night owls during the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Writing

Last Fall Days

Sunrise Nov. 20, 2020.

Leaves fell from deciduous trees in our yard revealing squirrel nests high in the canopy.

The last few days have been warm, in the 70s. Meteorologists say temperatures will cool as autumn’s last month begins. Yesterday the wind died enough to take a bicycle out on the trail. I wore a face mask as the coronavirus pandemic is escalating in Iowa. Our neighborhood is dotted with homes in quarantine because someone in them contracted the virus.

More people on the trails have begun to wear face masks. The state park is a place where people can gather, social distance, and chat with masks on. The color of water with flocks of pelicans, Canadian geese, and other waterfowl slowly swimming the surface is always pleasant. The peace was disrupted last Sunday when a 21-year old student from the university crashed his automobile near the state park entrance resulting in his fiery death.

The idea of a week persists despite many reasons why it shouldn’t. There is a weekend kicked off by Friday’s handmade pizza dinner. Saturday is a time for getting outdoors and working on projects in the garage, garden and yard. Sunday has become a day to take it easy, spend a long hour with the Sunday newspapers, and take an afternoon nap. By Sunday afternoon it’s time to read email, make phone calls and prepare for the coming week. Weeks have become anchored by such weekends.

To help our friends at the used bookstore in the county seat I bought some children’s jigsaw puzzles for our public library. I emailed the library supervisor and they had been discussing buying more puzzles. It turned out to be a win-win-win scenario. Because shipping is so expensive I will mask up to make a trip to pick them up, then deliver them to the library. The bookstore and library have excellent protocols for protecting everyone from transmission of the coronavirus so I feel safe making the trip.

The library is again taking donations for the Friends of the Library used book sale. It’s uncertain when the next one will be, however. They stopped taking donations at the beginning of the pandemic so it’s positive to hear they resumed. I’m running out of room and plan to donate a couple hundred in the first go-around. I’ll do my best to refrain from buying more at the sale.

We made a list of items for a Thanksgiving dinner. It has been a long time since we left home or had guests here for the holiday. I’m not sure what happened other than we have a small family. This year it will be the two of us again with phone calls and video conferences mixed in with meal preparation. We usually eat leftovers for a week or more after the meal. We used to make special meals for Christmas, our birthdays and wedding anniversary, and Independence Day, but not so much any more. When I pick up the puzzles I hope to find some organic cranberries and oranges to make cranberry relish, a household Thanksgiving tradition.

I’m not sure how much longer to ride the bicycle this year. Suffice it that if the weather holds I’ll continue. Weird weather has come to characterize Iowa and so many other places. We feel the impact of the climate crisis every day. To our benefit, climate change created a zone of temperate weather over our home and the region. While it has been exceedingly dry this autumn, there is hope for precipitation over the next few months. Gardening and farming should yield abundance as they have since settlement after the Black Hawk War.

Today, I’m planning a typical weekend Saturday while embracing the idea such typicality is fleeting. Our lives can be over in a moment, like that of the young man who died a week ago. We must cherish our lives as we can because all we have is the present. As bad as it seems some days, considering the alternative, it is not so bad.

Categories
Writing

Taking Up Residence

Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

While visiting home at Thanksgiving in 1976 I considered what I wanted to accomplish overseas while in the military.

What are the points of emphasis going to be? I can see two major ones in addition to my duties as a U.S. Army officer: writing and traveling.

What can be said about writing is that I will buy a typewriter and work a story at a time. If something good develops BRAVO!

As far as traveling is concerned, I will make the best possible use of my time and finances to travel, seeing the people, talking with them, eating with them, and viewing their ART and ARCHITECTURE.

This is no modest task in itself but one which must be undertaken for the full experience of the country’s culture. It should prove most pleasant.

Journals, November 25, 1976

I underestimated how engaged I would become as an Army officer. When we were in garrison my day started well before dawn with a simple breakfast in my bachelor officer’s quarters followed by a shower and a drive from Martin Luther King Village near the Mainz main railway station to Robert E. Lee Barracks in Mainz-Gonsenheim. It was well after dark when I returned to King Village. If the officers club across the street from my quarters was open, that’s where I would find camaraderie and dinner.

When we were in the field, we were gone for as much as three weeks at a time. Our field operations were maneuvers in the Fulda Gap and other strategic spots in central Germany. When we were on maneuvers we got very little sleep. We would road march with our tracked and wheeled vehicles from the barracks to the area around Fulda when we were rehearsing for a potential Soviet invasion. When the trip was longer we’d load everything on flatbed rail cars. The rail car loading was a scene from old World War II motion pictures.

We also spent time at designated training sites like Grafenwöhr, Hohenfels and Baumholder. For an extended period of time I split my week between Baumholder (Tuesday-Saturday) and Mainz (Saturday-Monday), which made for never ending weeks. I was young and up to it. I listened to Armed Forces Radio in my pick up truck on the drive home every Saturday, almost like clockwork.

Because I studied French in college I served as an exchange officer with a regiment of French marines in Brittany. Our battalion commander in Mainz told me if the balloon ever went up, that is, if Soviet troops invaded West Germany, I would most likely be transferred to a position where I could use my French language skills as a liaison officer. I also took a platoon through French Army Commando School in Vieux-Brisach where I served as French-English translator. My French-speaking skills improved considerably because of these assignments.

I held three different positions in the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, a mechanized infantry unit part of the 8th Infantry Division and V Corps. I started as a platoon leader, then became a company executive officer, and spent the rest of my tour of duty as the battalion adjutant. These were positions where I learned what it meant to command troops and used almost every skill I learned before entering the Army. It was life, as good as it gets.

I did buy a typewriter, and still have it. My main writing turned out to be in my journal which covers from Dec, 28, 1975 until Oct. 22, 1979. In reading my journals for this project I’m both lucky and glad to have them.

Some friends from home stayed with me for a while in Mainz. I met Dennis and Diana while working a part time retail job in high school. I took leave and we toured Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland in a rented Volkswagen sedan. Dennis is of Belgian descent and asked me to write for his newsletter at the Center for Belgian Culture of Western Illinois in Moline. It took some time and my first article was titled To Belgium and Back: November 1977. He published two more of my Belgian travel diaries the following year.

As far as travel goes, I had experiences that would have been impossible outside an Army unit. During our field training exercises I got to know some parts of the Fulda Gap better than I knew Mother’s neighborhood in Iowa. As a soldier I was both threatened with a gun by a German reveler during Fasching, and welcomed into people’s homes while stranded in parts unknown. There was still resentment lingering from World War II, especially among people who lived through it.

During my trips to France I felt a part of history. The marine unit to which I was attached was on alert to mobilize to the Republic of Djibouti after the African state declared independence from France. I would have deployed with them, although luckily we didn’t.

During an amphibious landing on Belle-Île-en-Mer we were immediately helicoptered to a drop zone further inland. I missed the U.S. ambassador from Paris who was waiting for me on the beach and had come to greet me. I also think he heard my French was a bit questionable, which it was on that assignment. He finally caught up with me under a poncho, next to a barn, at a farmstead where the owners served us dinner of hard cooked eggs, potatoes and sparkling cider all produced on their property.

There were trips to Roman ruins in the Taunus Mountains on weekends, rock climbing near Trechtingshausen, and many visits to the Rheingau wine country. A number of battalion officers made a trip to Luxembourg where a field officer in the Luxembourg Army showed us historic sites related to World War II. Everywhere we went we felt part of history.

While my quarters weren’t fancy, they were an outpost where I took up residence and deployed all over Europe during my time in Mainz. It was a unique experience for which I am thankful.

Categories
Writing

Leaving Fort Benning

Fort Benning, Georgia.

13 November 1976
Fort Benning, Georgia

Whatever malaise I felt once has now subsided. I am in excellent health, with the swine flu and Hong Kong flu injections rolling around my bloodstream. Aside from a few bits and pieces of personal affairs I am ready to depart for Europe.

But most of all I feel as if my major problems, stemming from my youth, are solved. I have come to understand the human condition and have come to terms with it. I have made some modest inroads in society with only one major faux pas and am involved with what could earmark a successful life.

As always one asks by what standards is success judged? To this I answer first of all good health. Without this one is hard pressed to be successful. Without health, success can be judged only in terms of living within whatever handicap one possesses. While in the eyes of many, myself included, this is an admirable achievement, for me success must include good health. This is not to be in comparative terms but free from bodily ailments which distract the mind/spirit relationship.

Second in the measure of success comes adequate food, clothing and shelter — with imagination in their implementation. The basic needs must be taken care of with style and diversity in order for success to be achieved.

Next in considering success is a spirit/mind awareness. The spirit must be able to sort itself out from the mind. Upon sitting back, the spirit must be able to observe the actions of the mind. If this can be achieved then success is evident.

The last and most important aspect of success is the ability to be in communication with the other members of the human race. To be open minded and willing to believe, knowing that each person is capable of letting the divine essence shine through.

I by these terms am now a success and hopefully I will remain successful for the rest of my life.

May the Lord have mercy on my soul, that success not swell my pride, that I may also live through the next week.

~ Excerpt from my personal journal before departing Fort Benning, Georgia for Thanksgiving in Davenport. From there I would drive to Terre Haute, Indiana, and then to Charleston, South Carolina, where I would ship my vehicle to Bremerhaven, West Germany and take up residence in Mainz.