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KyAllroad UltimaDork
9/21/21 8:24 a.m.

Tidbit about my mothers' parents.  Grandma was from a fairly upper crust family, she was a member of the Daughters of the Mayflower and Daughters of the Revolution, her father had been a state senator, they were well known and respected in the Plymouth area.  Grandpa was from a family of cranberry bog laborers (bog kids) with no particular pedigree.  During their marriage Grandma would occasionally give little jabs about how her family was superior and she had a Mayflower settler in her family tree.  (Shocker, they ended up getting divorced)

Fast forward to the VERY early days of the internet and genealogy research and my oldest uncle (who had never really liked Grandmas attitude on the subject) traced back our family tree verifying that yes indeed Grandma was related to one of the original settlers.  But that Grandpa was descended from four of them!

I'm 17th generation colonist as a result (can't be 17th generation American, we were here way longer than the country). 

dculberson MegaDork
9/21/21 9:39 a.m.

In reply to KyAllroad :

Thank you for taking the time to get to know the people in your hospital. I'm sure those guys loved having someone listen to their stories.

mtn MegaDork
9/21/21 9:43 a.m.

I used to caddie at a very swanky golf course. I was there for 10 summers, and loved it. 

There was an NFL player who lived on the course and was also a member. During a member-guest tournament, he invited another NFL player as his guest. If you followed the NFL at all during the 2000's, you have definitely heard of one of these players, and probably heard of the other. 

I was in the group with these two, and because it is a tournament, the rounds are very slow - a lot of waiting on the group ahead of you. Conversations can go anywhere. The conversation went to ED treatments, taken recreationally. 

Player 1: "I just got some Levitra from (Third NFL player who was not present)"



Pretty hilarious for a 15 year old to hear. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/21/21 11:09 a.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

dude.  high five to Casey from me.  and high five to you for using your one for Casey.

mtn MegaDork
9/21/21 11:40 a.m.

In reply to mtn :

Ok, another short one involving the same NFL player who was a member. On Monday's, if there wasn't an outing, the caddies could play on the course. Sometimes, anyway. So one Monday, we're out there. It is about 2PM. I'm with some friends of mine that, at that point, I'd known for at least 8 years: Dan, the 47 year old alcoholic, Rez, the 34 year old trust fund baby who caddied, smoked pot, and fornicated, and Juan, the 25 year old Mexican with a Suzuki Samurai on gigantic tires that he said he needed to get through the jungle when he went home every summer. Caddying was a very nurturing environment for a young kid. And by nurturing, I mean eye opening. I was 21. 

So we head out on the course. Having a good time, playing well, etc. I think we started on the 3rd hole that day, which messed up the point when we would stop at our cars to leave our empty's and reload. In any case, due to our miscalculation our beer ran out on the 12th hole. We all hit our drives on the 14th hole, a long par 5, to the left side of the fairway, and the rough right there. This was intentional based on the wind, pin position, and the tee position - remember, there was a collective 32 to 56 years of experience on this course in the group. Well, our tee shots all are pretty tight in the same spot that happens to be roughly 200 feet from the NFL players house. It is a Monday, in the summer. He's sunbathing in his backyard. He sees us, waves at us, and says "Hey Rez, how ya hittin it?" Rez replies with "Not too bad, but it'd be a lot better if we didn't just run out of beer!"

NFL Player doesn't say a word, but pops up with a quickness that would have shocked you for a 300 pound man if you didn't know he was a professional athlete, runs inside, and comes out 30 seconds later with a 12 pack of cold Miller Lite and hands it to us - "Have fun boys, don't tell anyone where you got it!"

We asked if he wanted to join us, but he declined. 

kazoospec UberDork
9/21/21 5:57 p.m.
KyAllroad said:

Early in my time with the VA I was working in the ER.  Beds one, two and three had patients in them.  I always made it a point to listen to their stories of their service, it seems to be a solid way to remember those who have gone before.

Bed one had some pretty serious stuff going on but told me all about being a waist gunner on a B-17 and getting shot down over Europe resulting in his spending over a year in a German POW camp.

Bed three was likewise a serious case, he told me about being in the Philippines when the Japanese overran their positions capturing all the survivors.  He told me all about the harrowing ordeal of the March to Bataan (some of you may have heard about that fun time).  Apparently once arriving at the camp he got ill and was chained to a tree for several fever haze days until the Japanese doctor was summoned who diagnosed him with a hot appendix.  The camp commandant wouldn't approve any medical supplies be wasted on Americans so the doctor cut out his appendix with a bayonet and cauterized the wound (the scar was amazing!) without anesthesia or antibiotics.  Bed three survived till the end of the war when they were freed three years later.


I had a similar experience at an airshow about 20 years ago.  We had gotten there early and grabbed a good spot under the wing of a B57 Canberra bomber.  Shortly before the show started, four vets asked if they could share the shade from the wing.  We were happy to have them and got to listen in as they started swapping "war stories".  Of the 4, three where in the Army Air Corp (the airshow was a "warbird fly in") and the 4th was Army Infantry in Europe.  One, whom they jokingly referred to as "the lucky one", completed his 25 missions and made it home at least physically unscathed.  The other three weren't so lucky.

The infantry vet came ashore a day or two after D Day and fought most of the way to the German border before getting "blown off the back of a tank by an '88'".   He seems somewhat proud of the fact that he "still had several pieces of German steel in his leg".

One of the two remaining Air Corp guys was shot down fairly early in Air Corp's involvement in daylight bombing missions.  His plane was shot down over France and the entire crew was efficiently rounded up and captured by the German police and collaborators.  He ended up spending several years in German custody before being freed at the end of the war.  

The last guy's story was heart-breaking.  He was in a B24, in the nose compartment.  IIRC he was the navigator.  A German shell exploded in the flight deck instantly killing the entire flight deck crew.  The plane started to spin faster and faster.  Apparently there is an escape hatch in the front.  He and the bombardier got the hatch open, but the bombardier "froze" and wouldn't jump.  He knew they would soon be pinned as the spins became more violent, so he braced his back against a bulkhead and kicked the bombardier in the back hard enough push him through the hatch, then jumped himself.  There was a long pause and a deep sign.  "No one from the back of the plane made it".  He and the bombardier were on the run for a few days, but ended up captured and imprisoned.

The truly amazing thing was the way they told the stories.  Even the last story (with the exception of "No one from the back of the plane made it") was delivered with all the emotion of someone talking about what they had for breakfast.  It was apparent that each of them had, at some point, come to grips with the fact that they weren't likely to make it home.  They still seemed a little in disbelief that they were alive 60 years after the events they described.  At the end of the show, we thanked them for sharing the afternoon and their stories with us.  We also thanked them for their service, which felt like an incredibly inadequate and shallow gesture.  I still get a little choked up thinking about that afternoon.  

jgrewe HalfDork
9/23/21 4:03 p.m.

A lighter story. But I'm loving everything so far.

I was helping my BIL get a home medical equipment store going. I promised him a year and got to work creating the service and rental departments.  I became the guy everybody came to for mechanical problems with everything. There were only 6 of us in the company so we were like family.

One day one of the outside salespeople comes back and says she is taking her car to the dealer to have some things done and wondered if I would drive it and tell her if it needed anything else. So, I take her Probe GT out for a quick drive. Fun car.

I list off the things I could tell right away; tires, alignment, bad struts up front. And..... muffler bearings. She's taking notes, asks how expensive that will be?  I tell her to ask my BIL, because his family owned a Ford dealership in southern Ohio and he worked the service counter as a teenager. I told her the parts are cheap but the labor can be expensive because of where they are by the turbo.

She goes to BIL's office and asks about muffler bearings on her car. Without missing a beat and not being in on the joke yet he turns from his computer screen, drops his glasses down and says, "Muffler bearings??  Cha- ching!" and added a little bit to the story.

She calls the dealer to confirm the appointment for the new tires etc and asks them to also check the muffler bearings while it is there.  The service contact assured her they would take a look, and it was on the ticket for the tech.

She is gone for a couple hours. She comes back and says she is going to kill me and my BIL. Then she busts out laughing. She said she made the situation even funnier because she informed the service manager that she knew muffle bearings where cheap but the labor was going to cost her. 

She showed us that muffler bearings were indeed listed on her ticket. The service manager let her in on the joke and when she cracked up about it he told her that it was the best joke to run through the shop in a few days and gave her free blinker fluid. Then he explained that blinker fluid didn't exist either.


Mr. Peabody
Mr. Peabody UltimaDork
9/23/21 6:59 p.m.

Not particularly interested in pursuing the mundane life he expected his clerk training to bring him, Karl K Teichmann left his native Germany in the mid fifties in pursuit of adventure in the Canadian wilderness.

As a means to get to Canada he applied and was accepted into a program supplying much needed workers to the large farms in Alberta. After completion of his farmhand duties he promptly landed a job working in the bush in Fort William, a small town in  Northern Ontario. Working as a lumberjack and felling trees was fulfilling work for Karl, and he loved the area, but he also grew restless and wanted to see more of the country, especially the north. The real north. So off he went, with his savings, he was always a good saver, to an exciting opportunity in the Northwest Territories. Here, he and two others, one a geologist, mapped out uncharted areas in the territory, naming many of the lakes they traversed in their canoes along the way. He loved this job, it was his calling, he thought. Unfortunately it was only temporary. But once the assignment was complete, he stayed north, moving west to the Yukon Territory to work in one of the large silver mines of the day. During his first vacation from the mine, he and a coworker flew south to Vancouver, for some much needed rest and relaxation in the warmer temperatures. It was here that he saw the ad in the window that would end up as a dare and a bet that would steer him in an entirely different direction.

Clerk wanted, apply within.

He and his buddy saw the sign and ignored it. They were miners in the north, men's men, and not clerks. But he started thinking about it and mentioned it to his buddy. Maybe, he thought, that he'd seen enough of the north and that clerkin' in Vancouver might be a whole lot nicer than minin' in the Yukon. After all, he was 27 and not getting any younger.

What do you know about that stuff, his buddy asked? I had business training back home, I bet I can get that job. Sure you can, his buddy said, dismissing him. And that's all Karl needed. He went in with the determination that had served him well In his young life, applied for that job, sold himself, and got it. His buddy returned to the mine on his own while Karl moved south for a change.

Vancouver was a good fit for Karl, and he was happy to resume his favourite sport of mountain climbing. In his youth he and a friend had fallen off a mountain in Switzerland, where he crawled out of the bush with a broken leg to safety. He was the only one to make it out that day and was later inspired to join the local BC mountain rescue team, which he did with great pride. 

So impressed with his work ethic, and attention to detail, it wasn’t long before he was offered a minor promotion to a little branch office in the small town of Nelson BC. He was thrilled with this promotion because it meant that he would be able to better care for the family he would soon have. This clerkin' deal was really working out, he thought.

Returning to Germany on vacation the year before he was traveling alone and stopped at a small town restaurant for lunch. There were no tables available, and as was custom then, if there was a single person at a table and another came in, they would seat them together. Frieda Ritz was herself on vacation from her job in Chicago. The Schmidt family had a few years previous canvassed Germany looking for a nanny to look after their children. The Schmidt family was wealthy. Herr Schmidt, the president of Volkswagen of America, wanted their children to experience a German upbringing, something Frieda was well equipped to provide. Suffice to say that while Karl and Frieda quickly Became an item, she would give up her job  and the Karmann Ghia that came with it, leaving the Schmidt’s nanny shopping once again  

The stay in Nelson was a rather enjoyable one for the young family, Frieda giving birth to their first daughter, Erika, but it was brief. After a few years at this branch Karl's capabilities were again noticed and praised as he was given the opportunity to not only move up the ladder, but move to the head office in Montreal.  This was a big move up and an opportunity he gladly accepted. Another daughter, Karin, lot's of snow, and a rusty VW squareback later he was offered yet another promotion, and was back in Ontario, working on one of the top floors of First Canadian place in Toronto. 

Though initially intimidating, and for good reason, I thought  he was one of the nicest, and most agreeable people I had ever met. He was a practical man who'd lived more in his life than most, who pursued his dreams and everything else with competence and determination. He never changed who he was and still had a very down to earth way of looking at things. I can say that in the entire time I knew him, I never once heard him say a cross word about anyone, something I'll never forget.

By the time I'd met Karl he had risen from a clerk in a small bank branch in Vancouver, a job he bet on a whim and a dare he could get, to Manager of World Corporate Banking for the Bank of Montreal. He loaned money to countries and other banks. He was a high roller on a world scale, who's suits cost ten times what my cars did at the time.

And if nobody told you, you'd never know. He still drove to the train every day in his base model Nissan Sunny.

Karl died at 56 of a massive heart attack while on vacation. It was four years after the long haired freak, who managed to win him over, started courting his eldest daughter, and four days after the birth of our second child.

I remain inspired by his determination and  humble approach 



New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/23/21 7:34 p.m.

In reply to Mr. Peabody :

Killer story! Thanks for sharing. 

mtn MegaDork
9/24/21 7:45 a.m.

If you want to hear some stories, and have some time to listen, I recommend you head over to the Veterans History Project done by the Library of Congress. 

You can search by name, and hope that someone has done this, or you can search somewhat randomly via service, conflict, etc. Army Air Corp is under Air Force for anyone looking for that content. Make sure you click on the digitized collection button, otherwise it just tells you that there is a CD or photographs stored somewhere. It is a little hard to navigate - clearly an early 00's website - but some of the stuff in here is superb. 

Start by entering the search terms: 

Then click on the "View Digitized Collection" button:

Then, from there, there is a tiny link of the audio or video of their record:


If you have 48 minutes, Here is a link to mtn's Grandpa, talking about his experience in Germany.

mtn MegaDork
9/24/21 8:16 a.m.

For this story, you need to know some basics about ice hockey. First, the difference in linesmen and referees. For the most part, referees call goals, penalties, and frozen pucks (when the goaltender holds onto the puck/covers the puck/falls on it to get a stoppage). Linesmen call offsides and icings, and drop the puck for faceoff. Lineys also break up the fights. Usually this is done with 1 referee and 2 linesmen, or 2 referees and 2 linesmen, but certain leagues - specifically, some college club hockey (ACHA) use a system of 2 referees and 1 linesmen. You've probably never seen this system used, but I mention this only because if you are familiar with the "normal" way, it would seem like I was out of position. I was not.


So, now, the story:

I lived in a place where there were 5-7 ACHA (college club) teams within an hours drive of me, along with a “junior” team that used the college rulebook and was of a similar caliber of play, although far more delusional. We had about 12 officials that could handle these games, and another 2-3 that could if we reallly were desperate to get them covered. Each game needs 3 officials, almost all of them are played on Fridays and Saturday’s - and there are youth games going on at the same time, some of the officials worked some pro leagues, some coached their kids, and all of us had real jobs as well. We were stretched thin.

One of the teams was an hour away from everyone, except one official. Nobody wanted to go to that town, and nobody wanted to ref that team. I was low on the totem pole at this point, and needed the money, so I usually saw them for at least one of their games every home weekend. We really try hard not to do that - it can occur that the refs become biased in one direction or another, but the more common outcome is the teams become acrimonious and think you’re out to get them. But we didn’t really have any choice - it was either put the same crew on that teams games, or they forfeit for not being able to provide a crew.

I said above, nobody wanted to ref this team. The coach could yell. There were 3 players on that team that I will be surprised if they didn't end up in prison. Every game, 2 of those players were getting at LEAST a 10 minute misconduct penalty if not a Game Misconduct or DQ. Remember me saying that refs can become biased? I legitimately thought I had. I thought it was us - me and the 4 other refs that were always on these games. So I looked up some of there away games scoresheets, to see if they were getting as many penalty minutes with crews that didn't know these clowns. It wasn't us. About the only difference was that we would toss these problem players in the first or second period; the away games they would make it to the third period more often before getting told to get the berkeley out.


So one game I’m lining this team. This is the 2 ref, 1 linesman system. My partners both had played in the NCAA, and Junior A in Canada. Between the two of them, they had 3 teammates between when they were 15 and 21 that went on to win the Stanley Cup. They were by FAR the best skaters on the ice, and knew more about hockey than anyone else in the building.

The entire game was more or less a march to the penalty box by both teams. I would be surprised if there was more than 4 minutes of 5 on 5 hockey during the entire 2nd and 3rd periods. The referees were both were both calling it evenly, fairly, and accurately. 

The teams were out of hand, but nothing crossed the line until the 2nd period. An away player made a break into the zone with a home problem player chasing him down. Home took out the Away player--could have been a tripping, roughing, or maybe a head contact, I'm not sure what was called--and the referee raised his arm for a delayed penalty. The Away player had gotten a shot off, and the Home goalie apparently thought he had it covered.

At this point the referee was standing right behind the net, literally holding the back of the net and looking over it directly at the puck and the goaltender, yelling loud enough for me to hear at the blue line: "Loose, loose, loose". An Away player came and poked the puck into the net, and the referee signaled a goal. Obviously, the referee had the best view in the house to make this call. The Home bench was the far bench from the play with one of the poorest views in the rink. 


At this point, The home team lost it, and specifically, their coach lost it. He started a non-stop stream of F-bombs and would not even calm down for a second for the referee to explain. As far as I can remember, the referee never had a chance to explain before he had enough and threw him out. After he was assessed a DQ (or Game misconduct, I'm not sure), the coach did not leave, and was hanging in the open bench door continuing his litany of "berkeley you"'s, "motherberkeleyer"'s, etc. The other referee then told him that he needed to leave. Instead of leaving, the coach took the bucket of pucks and dumped the entire contents onto the ice. Then he threw the bucket onto the ice. Then he grabbed a goalie stick and threw that onto the ice.

Both teams were for the entire game whining about calls and non-calls. A push to the back would result in a dramatic exaggeration and fabricated faceplant into the boards; a blatant trip resulted in "I never even touched him!" One call on the home team, a kneeing, resulted in questioning if that was even a penalty. It made me wonder if anybody on the team had ever opened a rulebook. The entire game at the faceoffs, both teams were telling me that we needed to both get the game under control, or they were telling me that we needed to let them play. Apparently they couldn't make up their minds if the refs were calling too much or too little. There were no dangerous penalties, just a lot of stupid ones, and a lot of abuse of officials. Most of the abuse came from the home team. 


We immediately called our scheduler - another referee and de-facto referee in chief for our area - after the game. He told us to stop talking amongst ourselves - he didn't want us to get our story straight - and email him that night, individually, without copying each other, our recollection of what happened. He compiled these, sent them on to the hockey director of this school (the school had 3 or 4 campuses and I think 7 total teams, one guy coached 2 of them and oversaw 3 of the others including this one), and long story short, that coach? He was relieved of his duties. Turns out, this was just the icing on the cake. Our scheduler sent us all of the emails after this, and all of our stories were nearly identical. 


The assistant took over, did his best to turn it around, but it had gotten so bad there was no saving that program. It was dropped and the assistant found a better coaching gig, and I hope to never see any of those derelicts ever again.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/24/21 8:41 a.m.

I thought of another interesting incident about my grandfather.

During WWII, he was an active reserve officer, running a radar installation on the graveyard shift in Boston.

One night, he realized that all of his radar crew were falling asleep at their stations. The base commander had his crewmembers up all day painting his house, so they had been getting almost no sleep. 

There were two men on every scope, so what he chose to do was to let one of them put his head down on his arms and doze for 15 minutes, then alternate with the other one. This way, there would be at least one pair of eyes on every scope. 

My dad witnessed what happened next.  

Second in command found out about this, and came in one night to verify for himself what was happening. He loudly threatened my grandfather with a court marshal for letting men sleep at their posts.

He was a Major, my grandfather was a Captain. The major was a big man, well over 6 feet.  My grandfather was about 5'7" and about 160 lbs., and was the only one of the two that was a combat veteran. 

From that point, my dad couldn't hear what his dad's reply was, since his face was only a couple of inches from the majors face. He said the major turned absolutely white, spun around, and walked out the door. Nothing more was said, but this wasn't over. 

Five years later, the war was over, and my grandfather decided to retire from the army. He was living in Grand Rapids, and the main office for his Regiment was in Detroit, and was being run by that Major, now a Colonel.

When he submitted his papers for retirement, the reply came back that they had no record of his service. He had been in since 1917, and was going to lose his retirement. 

He drove to Detroit, walked into the records office, and introduced himself to the sergeant. They learned that they were both what was known as "retreads" having served in both wars, and had both fought in the Argonne during WWI. My grandfather explained that he had submitted his retirement, but his records were missing. The Sergeant asked him to wait, returned a few minutes later with his entire service record, and let him walk out with it. 

The retirement request was resubmitted, with the inclusion of the full service record, and was granted. The other officer did manage to prevent him from getting a retirement promotion, which turned out to be quite a lot of money for someone who would go on to live to 100. 

kazoospec UberDork
9/24/21 8:31 p.m.

My son and I went to the "Iron Triangle" this summer.  It's a park in Fostoria, Ohio where three railroad main lines all cross each other, creating a "triangle".  The park is in the middle.  My son has ASD, and watching trains roll through is one of his absolute favorite things to do.  We had already had a pretty good day, and had seen 16 trains come through already.  It was getting kind of late and we still had a three hour drive to get home.  I was trying to get us going, and my son was negotiating for "10 more minutes" when we heard a train horn in a nearby yard, which was hidden from view behind a large warehouse.  Shortly thereafter, we could hear/feel a multi-engine consist throttling up.  (If you've never stood near the tracks when a freight train comes through, it really is a pretty cool experience.  Each engine puts out 3000-4000hp in a bassy rumble you feel in your chest as much as hear)

A two engined local mixed freight train came into view from behind the warehouse and began to cross in front of us.  Just before it got to us, both engines throttled down and the train slowed to a walking pace.   We assumed it was going to stop, then back into the yard to either drop off or pick up cars off the end of the train.  Instead, the train continued moving forward, just very slowly.  Without warning, the conductor jumped off the train, handed my son a NS Lakes Division hat and said "It's your lucky day kid!"  He then jumped back on the train and it throttled back up and rolled off on it's run.  Apparently, something like this is VERY unusual.  Under the "pics or it didn't happen" header:

As a funny follow up, one of the guys at the local hobby shop kind of questioned the story, so Kazookid2, without missing a beat said "I've got it on video, want to see it?"  

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/24/21 9:26 p.m.

In reply to kazoospec :

This makes me so happy that I've read it three times in a row. 

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/24/21 11:53 p.m.

I have a bunch of work related ones too but here's a short one.


My wife and I had some trouble finding an officiant for our wedding but we found one we liked and went to meet them. I liked them well enough but was thinking in my head that this old women who just told us she had some memory problems from a brain tumor she had removed recently wasn't probably the best option when it happened...


They had the radio on and 24 Hours At A Time by Marshall Tucker came on the radio. This was my parents song that they had in their wedding. I have listened to a many many many hours of that classic rock station over the years and I have never EVER heard them play this song. In fact, most people haven't even heard it or know it in my experience. It wasn't a " play the b sides/less popular/deep cuts" weekend or anything, they just played that song at the exact right moment.


Since my mom had died a few years before it also made me feel like she was there, it's a memory I cherish.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/25/21 5:58 a.m.

In reply to kazoospec :

That's amazing!

We live 2-houses down from the CSX NO&M sub, and between two crossings. Usually every day at least once I'll hear briefly pull the horn when they pass by a house around the corner. I figure it's either a railfan or friends/family that must live there. 

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/25/21 9:11 a.m.

In reply to kazoospec :

I love that story.  

Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/25/21 9:27 a.m.

In reply to kazoospec :

One of the Ammo plants I visited for work had their own internal railway system.  On one visit the engineer asked me if I wanted a ride in the cab from the current station to the next pickup station.  I was inspecting stuff at both locations so I could have done it with no issues, but I was still fairly new at the job and didn't want to do anything that seemed improper. 

I've kicked myself ever since for not.

matthewmcl HalfDork
9/25/21 10:57 a.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

I'll do one better (or worse). I was visiting the Scaled Composites facility when Spaceship 1 was there being prepped for shipping to the Smithsonian. I was standing on the ground, chest up in theough the hatch, looking around in the cockpit. I didn't ask if I could sit in it; I just popped back out.

Appleseed MegaDork
9/25/21 11:13 a.m.

Spaceship One waited for me. 

I cut a European trip short by a couple of days to go to the last day of Oshkosh. I arrived at about 10 am. Spaceship One was already gone. Disappointing,  but nothing could be done. There was plenty of other aircraft to see.

Walking up to AeroShell square...there was the tail of White Knight, Spaceship Ones's drop ship. It was still there! But why? 2 days prior, they left the hatch off, and it had rained. They decided to let it dry out for a few days. 

Within the hour, White Knight was preflighted and ready. Once airborne, they did 3 passes down the flight line and on to the Smithsonian. I got to see our Spaceship (I say our because si much of Burt Rutan's legacy lives at Oshkosh) on its last flight.

I won't soon forget  it.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/11/21 10:53 a.m.

The Ice Cream Man (Or "That God Damned Man in a Van")

I was living in San Antonio and this was shortly after I had dropped out of my university studies for the first time.  No longer was I a broke and struggling student with no money or time, for the past 6-months or so I had become rich beyond my wildest dreams and was now dating future "Mrs. Hungary" (currently "Girlfriend Hungary")

The year prior, I had broken up with a bartender I had been dating in what was one of the most awful relationships I had ever been in.  We were absolutely toxic for each other, and our fights were such that they'd register on the Richter Scale.  Shortly before the inevitable implosion of the relationship, a friend who had been staying with us moved out and got his own place (for obvious reasons) this would later be my flop pad until I got my rental.

The death of the relationship had me at absolute wits end with life, and was just a bit more than my energy level could take.  My friend that had moved out was working at Sears when he took me in.  While delivering tool boxes to someones van to help load them up, it came out that he was an Aviation Electricions Mate in the Navy.  The recipient of said toolboxes was absolutely floored that he was working at Sears and demanded that he head immediately to a guy named "Enrique" at San Antonio Aerospace (SAA) for an interview (which we both did, since I had similar experience).

Being of the military variety, both Bobby (that's my friends name.  Same guy who skipped town on me when we moved to San Antonio) and I completely bombed the tests to see if we had any civilian aviation knowledge.  We were immediately taken to the principals office for one last chance.  Said principal was a former Marine and behaved as such.  We're still so fresh to being out of the Navy that we're barely out of uniform so we follow suit and are immediately hired (and I, subsequently, quit school)

Note:  I love Marines.  I'd never be one, it's not my personality.  But that "I'm going to ask you a direct question, and you're going to give me a direct answer, and if you cant do what you say then we'll discuss that then.  Now go and get it done" attitude just absolutely works for me.

Anyhoo.  The pay for this place is WONDERFUL.  We're paid minimum wage in straight pay (which is taxed), and everything else (totaling $22 an hour) is considered "per diem" and therefore "tax free.  We are raking in the dough.

Well, for the first month we're givin jobs that are the equivalent of "change this lightbulb" and one day I just cant take it.  They pair Bobby and I up for the jobs and it's just such a damn waste of talent.  So we bring a signed off lightbulb ticket back to the office and I ask "are you guys ever going to give us any real work to do, or are you just going to have us change lightbulbs for the rest of our careers?"

The first job we get is a DOOZY (dont forget, we've never worked on commercial airliners before).  We get through it, and get through it quick, on nothing short of dumb luck.  Shortly there after, we're some of the top guys on the shift.

So we're 6 months in, and lots has changed.  We moved another Navy buddy down from Pennsylvania, and he's lovin Texas, and the job.  I've got a dog, my 1987 Toyota 4X4, and my 1986 Mazda RX-7.  Girlfriend Hungary quit her job at SAA (where we met) and took a position elsewhere so now we're dating and that's going great.  I'm  autocrossing, I've got a shelf full of expensive whiskey, we've moved into a much larger home on the NorthWest side of town, I'm basically making more money than I can possibly spend!  In the last 6-months my gun accumulation (not a collection, mind you) more than doubled!!!!!

I tell ya, nothin on earth is puffier than my chest.  Self made man right here.  I can (and have) walked on any lot in San Antonio and was immediately financed for a vehicle.  I've gone from driving yesteryears beaters to having the financing power to buy anything I want.  I've got my eye on a 2004 RX8 for $14,000 and the local Toyota lot has been tasked with finding me a gently used 4x4 Tundra.  When my friends and I get together we're sure to show each other what sort of new toys we've bought since the last time we saw each other.  Lots of high 5's and "I bet no one else has cool toys like this" type banter ensues.

Houses? I got that too!  It's 2007 and the construction industry is BOOMING!  I can build new in a new development starting around $80,000.  For $150,000  I can have the biggest suburban house plan in the neighborhood!  Shewt, I blow my nose with more than that!  Maybe next year Girlfriend Hungary and I will buy something, but for now it's a glass of Bookers Reserve and some wrench time with my CSP classed Mazda RX-7, bruh.

I cant remember what I was doing in my front yard (that's right, I said "front".  I've got two of 'em) on the day it happened.  Maybe I was mowin with my reel mower or something (hey, I may be rich but I'm a bit hippie too) and this crapy ass, piss-yellow, late 70's Chevy van comes around the corner.

Lets pause that van right there.

I'm the second house in.  Not the corner house, but the next one.  The van is pointed towards me before he makes a left on to my street.  His passenger side will be facing me as it goes by.  It's playing "ice cream van" music.


This crapy ass, piss-yellow, late 70's Chevy van comes around the corner and it's not even well kept.  I can immediately detect a slight exhaust leak near the manifold, a few rust spots where the piss-yellow paint flaked away...  The driver's got it converted into some half-assed home-made ice cream van...  The stickers on the sliding cargo door's window are hardly even.  I mean just look at this crappy thing headed my way.  Imagine being THAT guy, am I right?  I mean, I make more in MINUTES doing avionics work at San Antonio Aerospace than that guy would in HOURS by selling ice cream.

Hold on now because he's got his music goin again and he's about to pass by.

There aint a whole lot of windows in the van so it's kind of dark inside but I can make out a few details (while I stare in smug discontent).  The driver is a skinny male, approximately my age (26-28).  He looks to be Mexican (a distinction to which 2007 Hungary Bill would apply stereotypes) and as he goes by I can see that behind the driver's seat, is a chest freezer.  On that chest freezer is standing a 5-year old boy who is juuuuuust.... SMILING EAR-TO-EAR!  surprise

He's standing on that freezer, and this boy (obviously the driver's son) has his arms wrapped around his dads neck in this big hug while his dad is driving, and both he and his dad have the absolute... BIGGEST... SMILES... I... have.... ever.... seen.  And I mean EVER.

As this van is driving by, my stare of smug discontent turns into a shocked, unmovable, state of awe.  Let's pause this van again and talk about what's happening in my head:

As this van is passing by a now rather stationary Hungary Bill, I'm coming to more than just a few realizations.  The first of which is that damn kid.  That kid is in absolute dream land right now.  Growing up, us kids chased the ice cream man in the hope of all hopes he'd stop and we would have enough to buy one of his delicious frozen products.  Wasnt that a treat to hear the chime, run inside to get some cash, and wait anxiously in the hopes that he'd drive down your street?  Well this kid is IN the damn van!  Not only is he in the damn van, but he's standing on the treasure chest that holds the magical product we all sought.  At any given time or at any given stop, that kid has the power to open that chest of all treasures and help himself to any of that frozen deliciousness and at ZERO cost (unlike 100% of the rest of us mortals).

And then there's his dad.  The kid is in the kid dream vehicle of all kid dream vehicles and his dad, the hero of all neighborhoods, is the driver.  Together these two just drive through the neighborhoods while kids cheer and give chase, and then they stop and just absolutely make everybody's day! 

You ever see those movies wher the good guy cop takes a slug from a shotgun to the chest and goes flying through the plate-glass storefront?  That should have been me and the exterior wall of my house, and it WOULD have been me and the exterior wall of my house if my brain wasn't frantically trying to re-wire itself from what is easily the most life-altering scene that's ever played out before my eyes.  If my brain could have got it together enough to fire off even one fast twitch muscle, I probably would have just dropped to the ground.  But as it was I just stood there, mouth open and everything, and I dont even know how LONG I stood there...  I just stood there, after life demonstrated just how infinitely deep its waters were and just exactly how shallow was the depth to which I had yet braved to dip my toe... 

No amount of bedrooms in a house, no amount of dollars in whiskey or in the bank, no amout of firearms in the safe, not the autocross wins, or inches of lift under the truck were ever going to scratch the surface of what that man and his son were feeling as he drove by my house in that crappy ass god damned van...

and it just completely fried everything I thought i knew and had.

Now this is the part where i should say something about how "from then on I did this, or took a chance at that, called an old friend I hadn't talked to in forever, or did something that could somehow bring myself close to feeling what I just saw"  and I did do it, I did have something like those moments later in my life...  It's just that typing them doesn't do them any justice at all.  It's something you know when you see it, and it's something you feel for those brief moments you have it, it's absolutely earth shattering but it's nothing that can be typed because it's nothing that's the same for any two people.

But if (like in the movies) I was magically gifted the power to go back, and if I could find that god damned man in his crappy ass van and do something to permanently change his life 100% for the better, he's the guy I'd do it to.  Unquestionably.  I don't think anyone I've met deserves it more.

'Cept I don't think he needs it... 

I think that man, with his son, in that Chevy van, at that one very moment, had more in life than the rest of us in the entire world combined.

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/11/21 11:32 a.m.

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

Great story!

jharry3 GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/11/21 11:42 a.m.

I have two brothers.  The one a year younger than me, plus me, had come up in our grandfather's tire and mechanic shop.  We knew a LOT about cars.  The younger brother, 10 years younger, did not care about working or learning about cars.  He refused to work at the shop during high school and did busboy type jobs.

So he had a VW Beetle.  One day it stopped running.   His two older brothers asked him if he wanted any help getting it  going.  "I got this" is all he said.  A week later he was still messing with it.  Finally he put it up for sale for dirt cheap, it was not in running condition, so he was only asking like $200.

Buyer shows up with cash, hits the starter a few times, pays my brother for the car, gets the title signed over, tells youngest brother he would be back in a few minutes.  Buyer rides off with his partner.

Buyer comes back with a can of gasoline, puts it in the tank, starts the engine and drives away.     

  Youngest brother just stood there gobsmacked.    My other brother and I could not stop laughing for 5 minutes.

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/11/21 11:49 a.m.

Since this thread came up again I'll add a story about my dog.


My dog was named Jack but his full name was Jack The Pooper, often he went by Superpoop and Mister Pooper. Even though he was probably the smartest dog to ever live, he was terrible to housetrain. He was a very busy puppy and absolutely nothing was gonna stop him, including having to use the bathroom so he would literally pee while walking or running. Incredibly annoying in every way but finally after much distress he figured it out.


He absolutely hated being bad and disappointing me, just a stern word was all the discipline he needed because it tore him up. He remembered the house training and was determined to never ever do anything again. He was a great dog with food, and wouldn't get in the garbage, I could leave a full pizza on the coffee table overnight and he wouldn't even touch it too, this tidbit is important for the rest of the story.


I slept in on Saturday and didn't get up until about 10 and as I walked to the bathroom I could smell that he had made a mess. I walked towards the front door to see my dog laying on the ground looking guilty but when turned my light on I found something fairly amazing.


He had gone into the garbage, moved food aside and other things to grab the paper plate I had used last night. He took the paper plate, put it by the door and had pooped on it. It was fairly noticable that he really had to go but had figured out a way that wasn't messing directly on the floor.


I literally couldn't even scold him for that, that was pretty much amazing. God I miss him....

dculberson MegaDork
10/11/21 12:22 p.m.

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

Man, what a great story. It's so easy to forget what the things that put a smile on our face and make us really, truly happy are. We can rattle off the cliche "Money can't buy happiness," but it doesn't really sink in until a moment like yours.

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