Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm Back - For Now

Well, I’m home – for now. I have to leave tomorrow to deliver a car to Roanoke Rapids, NC; an eighteen hour round trip. But the time I spent with my shipmates was priceless. I really look forward to the reunion each year because it rejuvenates my spirit.

I thank you all for your comments and your well wishes. I have spent the last two hours getting caught up on all your blogs, and I am just as glad to be a part of your world, too. You folks are fun, funny and have courage that I wish I had just a little bit of.

When I have time I will tell you about my ship and the men who served aboard her. I was so fortunate to have serve with so many fine and brave soles who allow me to be apart of their crew. From WWII to Korea to the beginnings of Viet Nam, I worked along side combat veterans who earned many medals for bravery and wounds received in combat. And yet they are the most humble and decent group of guys I have ever been around. But, then we are all in our late 50’s to late 80’s. We are too old to be mean – just cantankerous. We are all grandfathers and some great-grandfathers. Some still have nightmares, but all have made a life for themselves and their familys. You would like them, too.

It was fun sitting around drinking a beer or two or twelve or twenty and telling and retelling the old stories. But they are just a funny and thrilling and sad as the first time I heard them. We are always having new guys show up due to the outreach program we use to gather up veterans who served aboard her, and they add new stories and memories to each meeting. And we all get to sit around and say Fuck, and Goddamn, and other words dear to navy men all over the world. The wives just sit and shake their heads and let us get away with it once a year. Of course, many of them (my Sweet Tea wasn’t there) will probably get their mouths washed out with lye soap when they get home, but, man, it was worth it.

However it is good to be home and sitting in my chair and sleeping in my bed – although I will be alone. And it was wonderful to hear the voices of my grandkids this afternoon. I really missed them. I visited the family home of Jessie and Frank James and I went to a riverboat museum in Kansas City, Mo. J-Man would have loved it, and Bug would have loved all the horses that were everywhere. I’ll get to see them Friday, and I’m ready, now.

I did think of E. Craig when I saw a picture of his ship, the USS Sullivans DD537, in a destroyer book in our display room, and I wish Biddie and her family the best and have them in my prayers. I just found out about her situation today, or I would have commented sooner.

Thank you, again for your comments, and I will tell you more when I get back from my trip.

18 comments:

Raven said...

It's good to have you back, and I'm looking forward to your future posts. I'm glad that you've had great time. It's quite refreshing to read something like this, with so many whiners' blogs populating the Internet these days. So I guess I'll be stalking you more, and maybe commenting once in a while. ;)

Actually, what made me wanna comment was this: "It was fun sitting around drinking a beer or two or twelve or twenty and telling and retelling the old stories. But they are just a funny and thrilling and sad as the first time I heard them." It reminded me the way I used to laugh with tears when I first started reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld books 10 or 15 years ago. I still enjoy his books just the same, only that I laugh through tears now.

Take care,
Raven

her indoors said...

glad to have you back, safe, sound and sober.
great to hear you had a good time with a very good group of special people.
looking forward to the stories

Biddie said...

Have a safe trip - again. Glad that you had so much fun.

e.Craig said...

No moss growing on you, Coffeypot. Eighteen hours on the road, nine each way. That's a bunch! But, i'm guessing you enjoy that most of the time. There was a time you could get me off and running on a road trip at the drop of a hat. I still enjoy traveling ... just not as compulsive about it nowadays.
Your reunion with your shipmates sounds cool. I've never done that. I think destroyermen are a special breed. And, I think they will agree to a man that you ain't been to sea 'til you've been to sea in a destroyer. A sleek slim and fast man-o'-war. All armament .. no armor. Turn on a dime at flank speed, and give you nine cents change.

coffeypot said...

raven - thanks for stalking. You really need to get yourself a blog site so you can tell the world what is on your mind and I can then stalk you, too.

I don't recognize the books or the author, but I will look him/her up and see what's what. I believe that getting your eyeballs washed off with a salty flush every now and then is a good thing. Weep away, is what I say.

h.i. – thanks! It is good to be back without a hangover, but I am looking forward to next year. We will be in Charleston where there is a Navy museum with an Aircraft Carrier, a submarine and the sister ship to my ship. Boarding her is like going back forty years.

Biddie – Thank you and I hope everything is getting back to normal at your spread.

E. Craig – Thanks, and I did have a good time. The drive yesterday was uneventful. I got home about 2 a.m. You really need to join the Tin Can Sailors and look up your ship. You will find old shipmates and receive a quarterly news paper dedicated to stories of destroyer battles, activities and such. Just put your coffee cup down and get online.

e.Craig said...

Upon your original recommendation, I did join "Tin Can Sailors." Thanks again for telling me about it.

ps - It was a traumatizing experience, but I did put my coffee cup down. ;-)

dilling said...

my dad was in the navy and I have never heard a damn cuss word out of him...

coffeypot said...

Dilling – not all sailors are heathens like me. Most of the guys led clean, respectable lives at home, and there were some who did not use profanity on the ship. Some of them brought the values learned at mama’s knee with them. I didn’t learn much. Don’t judge all sailors by my actions. But the old saying, “…cusses like a sailor.” had to have roots somewhere.

Beth said...

I'm glad you had a great time and continue going to the reunion.

CindyDianne said...

Missed you and glad you had a great time!

dilling said...

my mom cusses like a sailor

coffeypot said...

Well bless her heart. That what happens when a good god-fearing woman marries a sailor.

gawilli said...

Glad you are back!

My dad was in WWII. He never talked about it, even when I asked. After awhile, and a few years, I quit asking. That was around the time of Viet Nam. I have a box of items from that time in his life. There are many pieces of what now would be considered memorabilia but to him I think it must have been a painful memory. I found it in the fruit cellar after both my folks were gone. I'm glad you have an outreach group to gather in your compatriots. It probably would have been good for my dad.

Its good to get away, but its always nice to be back home.

Pamela said...

the hubby has never gone to a reunion - he doesn't know if they've had any.

by the way, my dad saw Frank James sitting on the porch of his house. Dad was a kid - They made a special trip just to see if they could get a good look at him.

He "looked like an old man" was my fathers words.
My dad was born in 1900 - in Roy County MO.

coffeypot said...

pamela - go online and put the name of his boat (sub's are called "boats" and surface vessels are called "ships") and somewhere in there will be a reference to an association of submariners. Maybe he will find his boat and where a reunion will be held. If not, maybe a contact list of men who served with him.

The James family is a very interesting group. Both boys were avid readers, and Frank loved Shakespeare. He also loved animals, especially his horses. In his last years his favorite horse (Stonewall) died and he had him buried in the yard. He charged $.50 to tour his house and he would take them out to see Stonewall’s grave. As he got older he moved the marker closer to the house so that now no one knows where the horse is buried. He also put a sign on the gate that said, “Strangers 50 cents.” When people started showing up with a new fangled invention, the Kodak camera, he wouldn’t let them take pictures unless they paid him. He had a sign on the gate post that said, “KODAKS BARED.” When he was told that the word was misspelled, he went out and put a real small “r” next to the big “R” and bet visitors the word was spelled correctly.

It is fun to read bout that family.

Raven said...

Coffeypot, thank you for the suggestion to get a blog. After entertaining the idea for some time, I finally decided to do it. But it will be different. If you like amateur sci-fi or fantasy short stories, written by an ex-wanna-be writer, feel free to stalk me when you are in the mood. The address is elvolgero.wordpress.com
After getting to know you through your posts here, it'll be a pleasure to have you as a reader.

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