Monday, July 31, 2017

More Celia - Driscoll Roof

We hired a steeple-jack company to repair the hurricane damage to our radio towers.  The AM station, between Sinton and Taft only had a couple of guy wires that needed replacing, but the FM tower atop the Driscoll Hotel had lost its top third and needed extensive repair.
I brought a couple of cokes up to roof, and was watching the guy working on our tower.  He had just cut the mast off right below where it had broken.  They had fabricated a new top with a sleeve that would fit down over what had been left standing, and he would later rig a sky hook to lift the new piece and lower it into position.
When he came down off the tower, I handed him a coke, and he sat down beside me to take a break.
Remember, he had just been 30 feet or so above the sloping roof of a 20 plus story building, often working with his safety belt unattached.  
As he sat there enjoying his coke, he looked across the street where two men were on a scaffold suspended from the roof the building.  
They were breaking out the remaining shattered glass and installing plywood as a temporary fix.
He watched them for a while, then looked at me and said, "Those F**king people are crazy.  I wouldn't get out on that G## damn scaffold for all the f**king money in the world!"

Sunday, July 30, 2017

More Celia Memories

I mentioned that we lost the top third of our FM antenna during Celia.  Actually, the antenna only had minor damage; it was the tower it hung on that was damaged.
The top of the Driscoll Hotel wasn't large enough to support a tower with guy wires headed out at a typical 30° angle, so we had what was known as a self-guyed mast.  It used a heavy steel base plate and guy wires that headed out from it to cross-members about halfway up the mast and back to the mast about two thirds of the way to the top.  The mast had snapped just above where the guy wires connected, and two of the four guy wires had come off of the cross-members.
Once power was back on at the Driscoll, I went up on the tower to assess the damage.  Meanwhile, several floors below, our sales manager - Jim was also one of the station owners, a good guy and a great announcer who didn't know a damn thing about the technical side of radio broadcasting -  took it upon himself to turn the transmitter on.
Normally, with a properly balanced antenna, this wouldn't have mattered.  In this case, I started smelling something hot and quickly got back down to the roof.  What I was smelling was my belt buckle - it got hot enough to brand my belt.
I have one more story about the KTOD tower, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Even More About Celia

This is an architect's rendering of the Driscoll Hotel in Corpus Christi.  It doesn't show all the other buildings around it, but it is pretty accurate. 
If you zoom in on the top of the picture
you will see that the top story had a Spanish tile roof that sloped toward the center, making the actual top of the hotel much smaller than the bottom.  That thing sticking up might have been the antenna for our FM radio station - that didn't exist at the time of the drawing, but it's about where it was located. Located, that is, before the hurricane - afterwards, we found the top third of our tower impaled in the street two blocks away. I have some stories about that, but I'll save them for later.
You can't see it here, but behind the hotel proper was an attached parking garage.  It was three stories tall, and on the roof of the garage was the hotel swimming pool. We had a great bird's eye view of this area from our studios in the hotel.
Honey had worked all morning at the blood bank, drawing blood and getting it distributed to local hospitals.  Just before things got too dangerous, they shut down and she came to the hotel.  As tenants, KTOD had several assigned parking spaces in the hotel garage, and I had her take mine.  I ended up parked on the street just outside the garage.  Her 68 Camaro was untouched by the storm, but my car, a 64 Chevelle, ended up with no glass and no paint on the driver's side.
As I mentioned, we had a great view of the pool from our studio windows.  Once the storm hit, the winds created a vortex over the pool, and we watched as the pool furniture - chaise lounges and tables - circled the pool then went straight up and out of sight.  Then all the water was sucked out of the pool, followed by the glass windows and doors of the cabana units surrounding the area.
The only way from the cabanas to the main hotel was across the pool area, and there were guests in several of those rooms.  The hotel advised them to stay in their bathrooms, and when the eye of the hurricane passed, they were all rescued.  Amazingly, no hotel guests were injured.

Friday, July 28, 2017

More Celia Stuff

Hurricane Celia struck Corpus Christi, Texas on August 3, 1970, and for the last few days I've been sharing memories of the storm.  I'm not sure how long I'll keep it up, but here are two more - what the internet calls Life Hacks - that you might find handy if you find yourself in the path of a hurricane.
  1. Among the first casualties of high winds are redwood fences, but we had one neighbor who solved that problem.  He tore down his fence and distributed the boards to neighbors to board up their windows.  A few days after the storm, he went around and collected the boards and put his fence back up.  As I remember, he only lost one board to the hurricane.
  2. At the "L" head docks off downtown, several sailboat owners who did not have time to pull their boats out of the water chose to sink them instead.  Insurance companies balked at the idea of paying claims on boats that were intentionally scuttled, but some of them did.  Whether they did or not, the boats that were sunk in place sustained much less damage than those that were left afloat.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Memories of Celia

The actual anniversary of Hurricane Celia is August 3, still a week away, but yesterday's post got me thinking about the storm and its aftermath.  
Natural disasters bring out the best and the worst in people, and we saw multiple examples of both.  Here are just a few examples:
  • A day or two after the storm, we saw the Red Cross selling coffee and donuts downtown, while a block away, the Salvation Army was giving away free meals.
  • The woman who ran the concessions at the Corpus Christi Colosseum was actually arrested for selling 10 lb. sacks of ice for $10. Meanwhile, the local Budweiser distributor was bringing in truckloads of ice from San Antonio.  Drive by their warehouse with your trunk open and they would give you a 50 lb. sack for free.  They continued to do that until lights were back on throughout the area.
  • Speaking of driving, with no lights there was no way to pump gas.  You were limited to whatever you had in your tank until an enterprising owner of the Gulf station on Ocean Drive figured out how to run his pump with a fan belt attached to an lawn edger.  He could have charged just about anything, but he kept his price the same.  He did impose a 5 gallon limit.
  • Our next-door neighbor, a retired elementary school teacher that I had always found annoying, turned out to be an angel in disguise.  She had the only gas stove on the block, and for days she brought breakfast around to all the neighbors.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


I came across a blog post on the web this morning that brought back memories from August of 1970.  
A young man who was 14 at the time, wrote of spending the summer with relatives from Oklahoma, and taking a trip to the Texas Gulf Coast.  They were originally headed for Galveston, but knew there was a hurricane in the gulf, and by the time they got just north of Houston, it was predicted to make turn to the right and make landfall along the upper Texas coast. So, instead of Galveston, they headed for Corpus Christi.
Of course, the predicted right turn never happened.  Celia scored a direct hit on the Corpus Christi area.
His story was eerily similar to ours. 
Honey and I lived in Corpus Christi at the time - she ran the Nueces County Blood Bank, and I was program director of KTOD, a radio station with studios in the Driscoll Hotel.  
We were in Houston to visit my father-in-law, who was in the hospital following a heart attack.   Since the storm was expected to hit the Galveston/Houston area, I left the hospital and boarded up all the windows on my in-laws' house.  
By the time we left Houston, it was becoming apparent that the turn to the north wasn't going to happen.  I called the station, and told the kid who worked weekends to stay on the air until I could get there.  
When we got home, we both went directly to work.
When Celia came ashore, the devastation was immense. Celia produced sustained winds of 110 to 130 mph, but gusts in some areas reached 180 mph. In Corpus Christi, 70 percent of residences were damaged. In Port Aransas, the number was closer to 75 percent. And in Portland, 90 percent of the homes and businesses sustained damage. All told, there were 15 deaths and about $500 million in damage.
The only damage to our house was the loss of an ugly screen door I had been threatening to replace, but just over a block away there was a bare strip where several homes had been.  It looked like it had been bulldozed.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Brief Retreat

In my previous stories about getting my Driver's License at 14, I failed to mention that it did not last uninterrupted until now.  
There was a small break in 1966.  My license expired while I was in basic training at Ft. Polk, and I sort of had other things on my mind at the time.
Once I arrived at my permanent duty station at Ft. Hood, and was assigned my own jeep like the one above, I was able to remedy that situation.  I learned that a representative of the Texas DPS came to Ft. Hood one day a week and gave driver's exams on base.  I got permission from my commanding officer, took the afternoon off, and drove my US Army jeep to take the test.
The exam almost went without a hitch, but it was late in the day when we got started, and I had to stop mid-exam, get out of the jeep and stand at attention for Retreat.
I later learned that, because of the circumstances, I really hadn't been required to take the driver's test again.  All I really needed to do was pay the fee and my license would have been reinstated.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


I mentioned the other day that I got my Texas Driver's License on my 14th birthday.  I hadn't planned to do that, it just happened.  Here's how:
My pal Val Jahnke, who had earned his licence the month before,  had given me a ride to the DMV exam office - there was only one for the entire city of Houston, and it was in a residential area just north of Hermann Park - so I could take the written exam.  
I aced the written test, and when I came out, Val handed me the keys to his parent's car, and said to go on and take the driving test while we're here. Their car was a 54 model Oldsmobile 88, with power brakes and power steering, and I had never driven a car with either of those features.  I was nervous about that, but we figured the worst that could happen was that I would fail and have to come back, which was what I was planning to do when I went in to take my written exam to begin with.
Well, to my surprise, I passed!  
The examiner only gigged me for failing to use a hand signal when I pulled out of the parallel parking space.  We had a brief discussion about that.  I had turned on my left blinker, and figured one or the other ought to be enough.  I'm still pretty sure I was right - almost nobody ever uses hand signals anymore - but I didn't argue long, since he told me I had passed anyway.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hemerocallis fulva

One of the sights that most impressed me on our recent trip was the bright orange day-lilies blooming wild in the ditches from Kentucky to Virginia.  My experience with day-lilies told me that they are just that -  the blossoms only open for a day, so I was amazed that there were so many in bloom.
A bit of research on line tells me that these are Hemerocallis fulva, among the first day-lilies imported from China 100 years ago and that they are particularly hardy.  If you look carefully at the picture above, you will first notice the flowers in full bloom, but then you'll see buds that have not yet opened, and the folded petals of flowers that bloomed yesterday.  They are prolific bloomers, which explains how a day-lily could seem to be in bloom for weeks or months.
I also learned that they are edible.  Chinese eat the bulbs, while Americans are said to prefer eating the blossoms.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Cranked up my old tractor yesterday for the first time since before we went on vacation.  
The good news is that it fired right up.  
The bad news is that a family of wasps had decided it was theirs, and in the six weeks or so since I last used it they had built a home under the little tool box mounted on the left fender.
One of them was quick to demonstrate his displeasure, and I was stung on the hand before I realized they were there.  I went and got the wasp spray, and made short work of the nest, so I guess you could say that I won.
It didn't feel that way, though.  The original sting hurt like the dickens.  That fiery first burning sensation was followed by swelling - a soft lump about the size of a hen egg.  All around the periphery of the lump itched like the very devil, and it continued to itch for several hours.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mc Cain

It was announced last night that Arizona Senator John McCain is suffering from a Glioblastoma - an aggressive and almost certainly fatal form of brain cancer.  The announcement says they are exploring treatment options and that he hopes to return to the Senate.
I have never been a fan of the Senator, but I do wish him well.  
As far as returning to the Senate, the right thing to do would be to resign now.  This would allow Arizona's Republican Governor to appoint a Republican  to take his place.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No Brainer

I have a birthday coming up in a few weeks, and the other day, I got a reminder in the mail saying this year it is time to renew my Texas Driver's License.  I have now had a Texas Driver's License for over 60 years.  I took the written exam and the driving test on my 14th birthday. 
The letter gave me two options - I could:

  • Drive 23 miles to the nearest office
  • Search for a parking space
  • Stand in line for an hour
  • Fill out the forms
  • Pay $24 to get a new license
Or I could:
  • Fill out the form on line
  • Pay an extra dollar
  • Get my new license in the mail
Decisions, decisions... This is so difficult... 
How can I possibly be expected to choose?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sodom's Song

I'm not sure I could define my religious belief with any degree of specificity.  
Some would say I am a Christian, while many would argue that I am not.  I did grow up in the Judaeo-Christian heritage, and (with a few exceptions) still hold to a Christian definition of what's right and what's wrong.
I say this because I see our society on a high speed slide into debauchery.  I'm not saying that people are doing anything today that hasn't been done for centuries; they're not.  The difference is that now acts that were considered abominations in the past are accepted as normal.  In the name of equality and inclusion, we are told we must accept whatever the latest perversion might be or be branded as hateful.
This descent into the cesspool may have started earlier, but I mark its start from late 1995 or early 96 when Bill Clinton claimed oral sex was not sexual intercourse and the media (and every horny teenager in the country) bought into his claim.  Things have gone steadily downhill from there.
Two items in the news sparked my column today.  The first was Cosmopolitan Magazines series of articles on ANAL SEX FOR BEGINNERS, and the second was the use of the term Bro-Job - a term for homosexual encounters between heterosexual men.  
I had never heard the term Bro-Job before, but it is sort of self explanatory. I didn't really need to look it up, but I did.  I learned that there's even an App for that - BRO - that's been around since January of 2016.
I'm not a Puritan, and I have no desire to return to a repressive society.  What you do to/with yourself or your partner is none of my business.  That being said, I do think it is time we stopped promoting alternative lifestyles and dragging them into the mainstream.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Shared Pages

Well, no I don't - but I can't help wondering why couples choose to have shared profiles.  It is not like they have to double up to save on the cost of two separate Facebook pages. 
And- it's remarkably common - I can think of at least five of my own Facebook "Friends" who are actually couples.  
Normally, it isn't a problem, but just in the past week three of them had birthdays.  The little reminder  on my Facebook page told me something like "It's Fred and Ethel's birthday today."
Whose birthday? 
 I can hardly remember my own birthday. Do they just assume that everybody on Facebook will know and remember which one of them was born on this date?
What is the proper etiquette?  
Do I just post "Happy Birthday" and hope the right one gets the message?

I know there are a lot of more serious issues in the world - like why in the Hell did that woman in England put 27 contact lenses in her eye - but this one has me in a quandary today.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tomato Perfection

Saw this on line this morning, and had a good chuckle.  It is just (barely) true enough to be funny.  It also reminded me of one of the nicest things that happened to us on our recent trip.
As I mentioned in the trip report when we got back, the worst stop on our journey was at Roosevelt State Park in Mississippi. You can read about it HERE.  On top of all the problems getting into our campsite, we were across the road from a huge extended family.  They weren't unruly, but they were loud, and had one dog that preferred our campsite to theirs.  They probably seemed worse than they were because we had already had a very bad day and were not in the best of moods.
About six o'clock, one of the women in the group crossed the road to our campsite and asked "Would y'all like some fresh tomatoes?  Mama said we brought too many and she doesn't want them to go to waste."
We took a couple and thanked her for bringing them over.  Later, we sliced one up to eat with our supper and OH MY LORD.  It was ambrosia - in the original sense of food for the Gods.  
I had completely forgotten how good a fresh-picked, vine ripened, home grown tomato could taste.  It bears no resemblance to those tomato-looking things you can buy at the store.  It's hard to believe that they are even related. 
I made a trip across the road to thank her mama again, but that didn't seem like nearly enough.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fool Me Once...

Those of you who follow my blog may remember that we tried to switch insurance carriers last year with near disastrous results.  If you don't remember, you can read about it HERE.
This week, we were approached about changing our Medicare Supplement Policy.  The new policy is with a well known company, and could save us a lot of money.  Basically, it involves switching from plan F to plan G, something United Health Care does not offer in Texas.  
As I said, the coverage is essentially the same, and the savings are substantial, so the decision should be a No-Brainer.  
Still, after last year's fiasco, we can't help being worried.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

White Squash

One of my all-time favorite vegetables - certainly one of my favorite varieties of squash - is white squash, also sometimes known as white scallop squash.  
It is great baked, but even better fried.  Unfortunately, it has become almost impossible to find at the grocery store.
Our local stores carry multiple varieties of squash - yellow crooknecks and zucchini, acorn and butternut, and because of the Mexican population, they always have chayote. The one squash they never have is the big white squash I crave,  The closest they come is patty-pan squash, which is shaped like what I want, but much smaller and comes in a variety of colors - usually yellow or green - seldom white.
We have grown our own in the past, and its beginning to look like that may be my only option if I ever want to eat white squash again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Watch the evening news any day in the last few weeks, and you'll see a story about Donald Trump and Russia, and another about wildfires in the American West.  
Unlike most of the Trump/Russia stuff, the fires really do exist.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Something In My Ear

About a dozen years ago or so, I was still teaching Ikon technicians how to service office equipment, when my hearing got to the point that I had difficulty hearing my students' replies.  I didn't want to, but I broke down and bought hearing aids.
They worked fine, but they were uncomfortable, and I never got used to having something stuck in my ear canal.  If I lasted that long, I usually removed them shortly after I got home.  Once I retired, I quit wearing them almost entirely.
That told Honey that whatever she had to say was less important to me than what the guys said in class.  I never felt that way, but the evidence sure seemed to say so.  It caused friction, to say the least.
The Miracle Ear folks used to call me to come in and have my hearing aids serviced, but the last time they called, Honey told them, "I can't even get him to wear the damn things.  You might as well stop calling."
Yesterday, out of the blue, I amazed Honey (and myself) by visiting my nearest dealer and having my hearing aids cleaned and adjusted.  They did a full hearing exam - the hearing in  my right ear had continued to decline - and adjusted the devices for optimum hearing.  They replaced the batteries and the tubes that go from the aid into my ear, and they did it all for free.  
Hearing aids aren't cheap, and they are not covered by Medicare or most insurance, but Miracle Ear does offer lifetime maintenance as part of the price.
Anyway, I'm starting all over again - trying to get used to something in my ear canal - so far, so good. But... wish me luck.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shane's Buck

My across-the-street neighbor, Shane Simpson, posted this picture on Facebook yesterday.  He was washing his car, and looked up to see this fellow at the edge of the woods.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Honey and I have always shared household chores.  She worked and I worked; it just seemed fair.
A couple days ago, I had accumulated enough dirty clothes for a load, so I threw them in the washer.  After the washer stopped, I put them in the drier as usual.
That's when things got LOUD.  
Every time the drier compartment would rotate, we'd hear a loud bang.
I opened the door, and pulled everything out of the drier, expecting to find something that was causing the noise.  I knew it was too loud to be loose change, but I knew there had to be something.  I actually checked twice and didn't find a thing.
I went to my bedroom and realized that my pocket knife was not on the dresser.  Aha! I thought, I left it in my jeans.
One more search through the drier, and I found my pocket knife in the right front pocket of a pair of jeans, and in the left front pocket were my car keys!
I knew the key's electronics had to be ruined, but I pushed the panic button and the truck's horn started honking out in the garage.  I'm not sure how, but my keys are definitely cleaner and, apparently, no worse for wear.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Pa;indrome Job

There once was an unruly mob
That was run by Otto and Bob.
They rejected Steve,
Welcomed Anna and Eve
And pulled off the palindrome job.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Claw Hammer

I mentioned yesterday that we didn't bring anything back from Coushatta Casino that we didn't bring with us when we arrived.  That wasn't entirely true.  I did leave with a hammer.

It was an Estwing claw hammer like this one, about 23 bucks at Lowes or Sears.  It wasn't quite this clean, but almost, and it showed little or no wear.
I was sitting outside the camper enjoying my first cigarette and first cup of coffee of the day when the Coushatta employee came around picking up garbage.  He found the hammer in the garbage bin, and asked if it was mine.  I said "No, but I'll take it if you don't want it." and he handed it to me.
Later, I was showing it to Honey, and speculating on why someone would throw a perfectly good hammer away.  She said, "Maybe it's a murder weapon." 
It doesn't have any bloodstains, but just in case she is right, here's my note to the Kinder, Louisiana police:
If you have a recent bludgeoning victim, and are looking for the weapon, I may have transported it across the State line to Texas.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Part Three - Home

We have had several people ask us if we went to Noah's Ark on our trip.  The answer is yes and no.  
If you are thinking about the religious amusement park with the big wooden boat, we did not.  It was only a few miles north of the Kentucky Horse Park, but we never made it up there.
If, on the other hand, you were asking about the animal rescue  place in Georgia that Honey follows on Facebook, we did go there and it was definitely worth the trip.
From Bryson City, we headed south to High Falls RV Park in Jackson, GA. and while there we toured High Falls State Park and the Noah's Ark Rescue Center.
 This is Baloo - one third of B/L/T - a bear, a lion and a tiger who were confiscated as cubs in 2001 during a drug raid in Atlanta.  The three were inseparable, and all shared thee same enclosure until the lion died earlier this year.  Their story is what got Honey interested in Noah's Ark to begin with, and she has followed their Facebook page for several years.
All of the animals are rescues of some kind, many from bankrupt zoos and circuses and several from folks who thought it would be cool to have a wild animal until it got too big.

 There's a lion on the roof and a tiger in the hammock.
This looks like a Grizzly, but it's a Syrian Bear.  Related, but a quite a bit smaller.

We got to Noah's Ark in the morning, and were the first through the gate when they opened.  By the time we had walked through the entire place, an hour or so later, there were so many buses full of school kids already there or just arriving that it took me two tries  to make it out of the parking lot.
Our next stop was Capital City RV Park in Montgomery, AL.  Just an overnight stop - nothing to report here except we had our first bad weather of the trip and drove most of the way in the rain.
From Montgomery we went to Roosevelt State Park in Morton, MS.  When I was making reservations here, I learned that we had a forgotten credit for a cancelled reservation at a Mississippi Park, so we got a 50 amp full hookup campsite for $4.80.  That sounds like a great deal, but we had such a hassle getting into our campsite that I would have gladly paid to be almost anywhere else.  The whole shebang was one huge comedy of errors.
When we checked in, the girl at the gate gave us a campground map, and said turn left on the road right past the gatehouse, then follow the map.  The map showed us taking the first right to get to our campsite.  What she failed to mention was that the map didn't start at the gatehouse, it actually started two miles down the road on the other side of the dam.  That first right led us down a road to lakeside cabins with no way to back up and no place to turn around!
After a half hour or so of trying to maneuver, a park ranger showed up to help.  He made one of the folks who had been standing around watching move his truck and boat trailer, and we were able to back in there and pull back on the road.  He then escorted us to our campsite, where we had to get someone else move their boat so we could back into our campsite.  By the time we got set up we were both exhausted.
They had a massive 4th of July celebration going on in the park, with a huge fireworks display that night.  To see the fireworks, we would have had to carry chairs in the rain down to the lakeside (in somebody else's campsite) but by that point we were not interested.
Our dogs hate fireworks, so I spent an hour and a half sitting in the trailer with two miniature dachshunds cowering on my lap.
Roosevelt Park has a nice lake, a huge convention/event center, a big swimming pool with water slides and a disc golf course.  I'm sure it is a very nice place, but we'll be more than happy to never see it again.
The next, and last, stop was at the Red Shoes Campground in Kinder, LA.  It is part of the complex at Coushatta Casino so our campsite was "comped,"  Our visit to the casino was less than successful, but we did have fun.  
The only ones who left with more than they had when we arrived were our dogs.  They came home with hundreds of fleas, and we've spent the last couple of days shampooing them, washing their beds, treating them with flea killer, vacuuming carpets, etc.
It looks like things are just about back to normal today.