Both launched in 1914 .
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/pearlhbr/ph-okm.htm USS Oklahoma
Both launched in 1914 .
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/pearlhbr/ph-okm.htm USS Oklahoma
Someday I might need gas money to get to Texas , too . You never know . I’m too old to pretend to have a baby with my wife waiting in the car . Why Texas ? I think it was a sick , or dying ? , father down there . And no gas to get there . And , of course , no money .
I should give you a few dollars because you asked ? I guess if you don’t ask , you probably won’t get anything .
Decades ago , when the Hari Krishnas , and the Moonies , and the Born Agains , and others , infested the L.A. airport , I was there with my old friend Fred Kail . Why we were there I don’t remember . Neither of us had any money in those days to fly anywhere . We must have been there to pick someone up . Doesn’t matter .
All of these askers-of-money seemed to be dressed well , in crisp white suits and polished shoes , and they carried clip boards ; even the Krishnas ; even the Moonies . Well , at first the Krishnas wore their orange robes , enraptured smiles , and , maybe , occasionally , hopped a little . But , I suppose , that wasn’t working for them . Some head Hari in charge maybe talked to a marketing guy . Get a crisp white suit , he must have said ; maybe a fedora hat to cover the shaved head ? ; and don’t hop …… and don’t mention Rama or white rice . The Moonies got on board , too : white suits ; clipboards .
They all looked like they may work for the airport . What is it , a survey ? An airport promotion of some kind , or a security check ? They would approach just-arrivers , especially foreign people arriving with confused expressions , and begin their hurried spiel , holding the clipboard as if it should be respected , as if the confused traveler were being spoken to in some official capacity . Was it Customs ? The airport broadcast continuous announcements : These solicitors don’t work for the airport . You don’t have to give them anything .
Fred and I were walking into one of the terminals when we were approached by one of these anonymous beggars shrouded in white . This one was a cute girl . Maybe in light of that Fred reached for a bill to give her . I tried in that brief moment to dissuade him . He had a fiver in his hand . What , are you crazy , Fred ? A weak moment ? She’s a Moonie , man ! He held the five dollar bill out to her .
” Most people give ten dollars , ” she said .
Wow ! Yeah . Pushing her luck just a little bit . Fred instantly flicked the fiver back into his pocket . ” I’m not most people , young lady , ” he said . And we were off . I was reassured . At least old Fred hadn’t completely lost his mind .
So , I’m pumping twenty dollars worth of gas yesterday into my car in the mid-day heat , minding my own business , when a young guy , maybe twenty-two , twenty-three , walks over . I’ve seen him approach a couple of other gas pumping people on his way across the lot . ” Meaning no disrespect …..” he says to me . His opening gambit .
I’m not in a good mood that day , you should understand . Too hot . I’m looking at his tatoos . He’s evidently covered with tattoos . How much do those cost , buddy ? , I’m thinking . Maybe you could have saved the tattoo money for your needed gas . He looks healthy , strong , despite the hang-dog expression , the ” Meaning no disrespect , sir … ” ploy . What , are we in the Army ? Sir ? That’s supposed to sound respectful , to impress me ? Melt my stone-cold heart ? I’m supposed to be awed by this guy’s pathetic circumstances . Now , it’s my responsibility to buy his gas ? Why would that be ?
I’d rather have the fruit seller on the freeway off ramp , or the beggars with the cardboard signs : ” Veteran God Bless You anything helps homeless ” Once in a long while I hand them a dollar , although I’m not under an illusion that the dollar helps . I think the homeless veteran god blesser should go to a social agency or an established charity or a church and get the help that will keep him/her off the roadways with the scribbled bullshit cardboard signs .
So I told the gas station beggar , a little too firmly , that I wasn’t going to give him any money . He walked away . He’ll find some sucker soon enough . I stepped around the other side of the pump and asked some man with a Volvo , ” Will you pay for my gas ? ” He didn’t laugh . I could see his little ‘crazy person’ antenna immediately go up . He shook his head solemnly and looked away . I could see that he didn’t know if I was joking or not . Can’t be too careful these days.
Maybe I wasn’t joking . Maybe I should start asking . Ask and you shall receive . If you don’t ask you won’t get . It’d be easier for me just to canvass the people at the gas station when I go for gas . Won’t someone pay for my gas ? I have to get home . My cat’s sick and I need to replace the front garden hose . I’m trying to upgrade the modem for my DSL . Anything helps . I want to get to Oregon next fall . Need gas desperately . Sir . How about a few dollars ? Meaning no disrespect .
I was walking , once , with my Danish friend , Ivan , when someone asked for money . ” You’ve chosen your lifestyle , ” Ivan told him , “not me . I’ve chosen my own lifestyle . ” The poor guy was listening . Ivan speaks authoritatively . ” I don’t ask you to finance my lifestyle , ” Ivan said . ” You shouldn’t ask me to finance your lifestyle . ” And we walked away . At least the guy didn’t call us ‘sir’ and make something up about needing to get to Texas . Or dress up in a crisp white suit and carry a clipboard .
In Cambria , California , there is an odd house upon a hill near town . It’s called Nitt Witt Ridge .
Arthur Beal bought the hillside in 1928 and began building his house . Beal was the garbage collector in Cambria in the 1940s and 1950s and used some of the collection to construct the house on Nitt Witt Ridge .
Cambria is a beautiful little town of about 6000 people on the central coast of California . Median income per household is about $70,000+ and the median house price is about $700,000 . Average rents run above $ 1000 a month . It’s a very touristy town . Lots of hotels on the beach and antique shops in town .
I asked three locals for directions to the Nitt Witt house . I knew that it is close to town ; just up a hill . None of them knew just where it was . One guy pointed me in the opposite direction , although he knew , at least , that it was on a hill . Wrong hill . Another said he and his wife had recently moved to Cambria , only a few months ago , and they didn’t know many of the local sites . No , they weren’t just putting us on . I think it’s typical of locals everywhere often not knowing the local places of interest . They’re not tourists , after all ; they live there . Why should they pay attention to tourist spots ?
But Ada and I wandered around hilly tree -lined streets for a few minutes until we found it .
There was vacant land next to my elementary school way back last century when I was in primary school . ( Or was it Grammar school ? My friend Joe and I had a discussion about the use of those terms : elementary vs. primary vs. grammar school . ) A Hughes Market grocery store was built there . Now it’s a Ralph’s Market . Most of the space , or half of it at least , is now the parking lot , of course . But that’s irrelevant to my story , so let’s get on with it .
Another random memory , emerging now from my brain bunker where I keep them , uncatalogued , forgotten for decades , came back to light suddenly . I had gone to Berlin , saw a wurst stand , and began , I guess , to ponder wieners ( The name comes from Vienna , by the way , I hear ) . Unknown things trigger memories sometimes . We’ll just leave it at that . I can’t better explain why the memory came . Doesn’t matter .
One day the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulled up and parked on the vacant land next to the school . The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile , a 1930’s idea of one of the Mayers , was a vehicle shaped like a giant hotdog in a bun . It was driven by ” Little Oscar” , who was a little person dressed in a chef’s outfit , traditional high chef’s hat and all . The nuns ( Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School ) took the entire school out to see the Wienermobile . Why ? How that happened ? Your guess is as good as mine . Stranger things have happened , I guess . Perhaps .
Well , this event was memorable . Who knew there was such a thing ? Who knew that hot dogs were cooked by little happy chefs in high hats ? Who knew ?
When I was a kid I didn’t know much about the world ( Same holds true now — a little less so ) . From time to time little bits of it would show themselves , surprising things , good or bad things . The Wienermobile was one of the oddest things to come along . Now that I think of it , it’s still an odd piece of the reality puzzle . I know that there are odder things ; but for a seven-year-old , a Wienermobile with a small chef inside with wiener whistles for everyone —- that was something !
Yeah , to top it all off , Little Oscar handed out little plastic wiener whistles to every student and we all whistled like crazy out there in the open , and then we got to play with the silly things for a few minutes back in the classroom . Amazing !
Wiener whistles are available on eBay . Get a vintage one for $ 3.75 !
There are , evidently , eight Weinermobiles still in operation . The drivers , recruited from the ranks of college students , are called hotdoggers . A hotdogger blog hides on the world wide web , telling of hotdogger exploits .
I had forgotten all about that old Wienermobile and my wiener whistle ( which probably broke that same day ) , and Little Oscar the happy hot dog chef . I never missed them , I have to say ; but , it made a nice break in that long-ago day from reading , writing , and arithmetic .
This one’s a little late for Mother’s Day , but here it is anyway .
Harry Truman’s mother during the Depression offered a hobo some food and coffee . The guy complained that the coffee was not hot enough . She said , ” Oh , give me the cup ,” and took it into the house . She returned with a shotgun and told the guy to get the hell out .
I once was reading about the WWII aid that the USA was giving to the Soviet Union when the two countries were allies fighting Nazis . . An American cargo ship skipper was being bullied by an ever-present Soviet commissar on the Atlantic crossing . The freighter was full of American -made airplane engines . The commisar may have been whining that the engines were not adequate , so the American skipper had his crew ostentatiously toss one engine overboard and prepare to dump another . ” If you don’t want ’em , you don’t need to take ’em , ” the skipper may have told the arrogant Russian . The commisar backed off and was quiet for the rest of the journey .
During the Battle of the Bulge in WWII , American Brigadier General Anthony McAullife and the 101st Airborne were surrounded in the town of Bastogne , Belgium . The Germans issued a surrender ultimatum . McAuliffe sent a one word response : ” N U T S ! “.
Success is the child of audacity ——–Benjamin Disraeli
My mother and Ada .
Possible caption : ” You should see the other guy ! “
Excerpt from a college letter of Mom’s , after she’d been offered a university job : ” The university doesn’t have enough money to get me to work for that old scarecrow .”
So , please have a wonderful ( and feisty ) Mothers’ Day !