|Issue 21||September 1997||Volume 2 - Number 10|
Welcome to the CANDOER News. Suggestions as to what you would like to see in the CANDOER are welcome. Letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees, past or present, will be published, unedited. Material may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (disk will be returned) using WordPerfect Version 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics), on a plain sheet of paper (if it has no graphics) or via e-mail. The deadline for submitting material is no later than the 25th of each month. Material received after that date will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER, space allowing. Please, restrict articles/submissions to two single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.
The snail-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:
Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
Publisher/Editor CANDOER News
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
The following letter was received from Joe Hazewski on July 24, and is being repeated here for your information:
July 20, 1997
I received your letter on, I think, June 14. It could not have come at a worse time! Bonnie and I were just starting to move into the new house we recently finished building. On June 12, we had one of those gully washer thunderstorms for which Texas is famous. Rockin' and rollin', all kinds of lightening and ZAP! Got the computer. Well, things are approaching normal and we got the box back from Circuit City in Tyler last week. Now I can gab a little.
First let me say your letter came as a very pleasant surprise. Also, you shamed me because I have not really communicated with anyone since Bonnie and I left Fairfax.
Let me give you a brief accounting of what Bonnie and I have been doing since early '96. On April 1, we sold our property on Lake Gaston. Before we closed on the sale of our house in Fairfax on May 31, we had a huge yard sale, gave a bunch of stuff away, threw a bunch of stuff away and put what remained in storage. Sold Bonnie's car, bought a '97 Ford F150 and a new Ranger 488VS bass boat. Grabbed a few essentials, loaded the pickup, hooked up the boat and hit the road on the afternoon of 5/31. Never really talked about doing such a fool thing. Must have been that Foreign Service wander bug that bit us. Anyway, we ended up in Texas and we've been taking language lessons ever since.
We started in Lufkin, Texas. We went to Sam Rayburn Reservoir looking for waterfront property. Found a beautiful development, Rayburn Village. What we did not know then was that Rayburn is a Corps of Engineers lake --- no docks of any kind or any other type of man made structure is permitted below a certain elevation. If you live there, you have to keep your boat at one of the marinas or trailer it to one of the designated launching areas. You are not permitted to launch your boat from your own property. You're not allowed to leave your boat in the water in front of your property over night. No way in hell am I going to build a waterfront house and then have to drive to a marina or trailer my boat.
Rayburn got scratched from the list! We headed to Hemphill, TX and started looking around Toledo Bend. I guess we were spoiled by our Lake Gaston experience; we just could not find anything that we liked. Fantastic lake and great fishing, but not the type of environment where we wanted to settle.
We drove to Tyler and decided to rent an apartment to use as a base of operations. We took a six month lease on a nice two bedroom, two bath apartment, with a good size living room, dining room, kitchen and patio for $650.00 a month. The complex had a nice pool, gym, good laundry facilities and a place where I could park the boat when we weren't dragging it to one of the lakes. Since we didn't have any furniture with us, we rented all the furniture we needed for $126.00 a month. We bought a TV and subscribed to cable, and bought a computer and got on line. We were set for the duration.
Caddo Lake was next. Beautiful, intriguing and phenomenal fishing. Big Cyprus trees with hanging Spanish moss, lilly pads and various grasses in black, black, water. The vegetation and Cyprus are so thick, that there are marked boat roads to keep people from getting lost. There are also a few good sized gators. Both of us fell in love with the place. We looked for several weeks but could not find a piece of land bigger than a quarter acre. We were extremely disappointed, but we would not compromise on a size smaller than one acre.
After Caddo we looked at a bunch of other places --- Ray Roberts, Fork, Lake of the Pines, Joe Pool, Whitney, Cedar Creek, and others. Both of us were beginning to think that Texas might not be the place. We started talking about going to either Kentucky or Florida. Before giving up on Texas, we decided to relook Fork and then go to Richland-Chambers (RC) and maybe further west out to Choke Canyon.
We gave up on Fork and never got past RC. Richland-Chambers is about 55 minutes southeast of Dallas. It has about 50,000 surface acres and is relatively undeveloped, but growing. Smart Texas money says that it is going to take off in the next five years. We'll see. Because this is the third largest body of water in Texas, we made a couple of trips here to cruise the lake and look around the shoreline. Since we did not want to buy acreage, we were forced to look at existing subdivisions. Lots in the various subdivisions ranged in size from a quarter acre to six acres. In the first places we found that the choice lots were bought up. Some were built on and others were being held as investment properties. Then, by dumb luck, we stumbled onto a new subdivision that had been approved for sale by the Navarro County Planning and Zoning Commission the preceding week. We picked out two adjacent lots of 0.6 acres each and made an offer, and said that we would settle with cash the next day. The developer made a weak counter, we held our ground and he accepted. We closed the next day and were proud owners of an acre and a quarter of beautiful, main lake property.
Next we had to build a house. Tyler is only 60 miles east of RC but it would be tough to commute and deal with a contractor and subcontractors on a daily basis. The developer from whom we bought the property had what used to be the sales office at another subdivision about four miles from our property. He and I were talking after the closing and I told him that we would like to be closer to the lake while we were building. He said that he was going to add a room to the old sales office and use it as the foreman's house for his ranch. He said that it was rather "Spartan;" but if we wanted to rent it while we were building, he would let us use it for $500.00 a month and that included utilities and telephone. I almost passed out. We jumped at it.
We gave notice in Tyler. Rented storage space in Eureka (TX that is). I flew back to VA, rented a Ryder truck and drove our stored possessions to Texas. We took our bed and a few pieces of living room furniture to use in the "foreman's house" and the rest went to storage in Eureka.
Since the property faces southwest and the prevailing winds are from the south, the first order of business was to put in a seawall to control waterfront erosion. The guy who builds seawalls also builds boathouses --- so we killed two birds with one stone. Now we had to think about the real house.
Bonnie and I decided that the plans we had were toooooooo much house. She had hobbies and I wanted to fish and fish and fish and fish. Hobbies and fishing do not add up to housework and maintenance. We came up with a comfortable design that allows us enough space to be together or to stay out of each other's way and to do all the things that we want to do without a lot of worries about housework and maintenance. We met some contractors, checked their references and got bids. We signed a contract to build in December and began clearing land the week before Christmas.
Bonnie and I were cutting and stacking wood on Christmas day. God was kind to us; the weather was cool and dry. After about a week of work, we cut down 83 trees between 5 and 29 inches in diameter and we had most of the stumps and tops hauled off to a pasture where we later burned them.
There were some ups and downs during the building process; but I didn't kill the builder, and obviously, he did not kill me. In fact we kind of ended up friends and he has invited us to his daughter's wedding next month. His daughter is 19 and her betrothed is also 19. Denis, the builder, has tried to talk her out of this; but he and his wife were married when they were 18. We have found out that most of these Texans start real young. Anyhow, the house is done, the builder got paid and Bonnie and I are still unpacking and giving or throwing things away.
All-in-all Richland-Chambers is a beautiful placed with great fishing. We have all the conveniences in Corsicana about 16 miles away; and if we want to go to the big city, we can be in the big "D" in less than an hour.
I could ramble on for another dozen pages, but this is much longer than I had originally intended.
Warm regards and best wishes to all,
/s/ Joe Hazewski
P.S. You can share this with whomever might be interested.
The following comments were received from Bob Reed. Bob has retired and is now residing in Pensacola, FL.
I support your opinion regarding a web page at this time. With only 55 members having Internet access, the costs could not be justified. There are places out on the web that will allow you a free home page. All the folks who have Internet access would need is the URL.
I also support you efforts in trimming costs of publishing the CANDOER News by eliminating the color heading. Although it is nice to have and makes it an attractive newsletter, it is the content which counts. I am glad I joined the CANDOERs and enjoy the newsletter.
I second Jim Steeves' idea about a small reward for the best story to the CANDOER. I am not sure the bottle of Bell's would do, since shipping to the winner would cost more than the prize. Maybe Jim's idea would prompt some suggestions.
The following was received from Jim Steeves on August 2:
I have a big change coming up soon. The Air Force offered my wife a great job at the Embassy in Bonn. I was kinda ... well ... undecided. Both girls, in college, jumped excitedly and urged Mom to go for it, so I did too. Now that a lot has been said and done, she leaves for her new post on August 11. When both girls settled back into a new dorm (at UNM) and an apartment (way down south in Las Cruces (NMSU) I will follow Mom to Bonn, around August 30.
I will stay with AOL for another couple of weeks and will advise when it's about to be cut off (and good riddance). When a new ISP is in place, in Bonn, I will establish a new connection.
We will be in Bonn for two years for sure, God willing, and might go for another, though Mom is pretty certain, right now, that she wants a place in the U.S. that the girls can call home while job hunting, after graduation in 2000. Right now I'm surrounded by boxes going to (1) air freight to Bonn; (2) Surface to Bonn; (3) storage in Albuquerque; (4) to UNM for Jenny; (5) to NMSU for Suzy, and wondering what hath God wrought.
I enjoyed reading Jim Prosser's story about John Garland. I knew John at one post (Bonn) back around 1964 but never heard about him since then, until the latest issue of the CANDOER News which arrived yesterday. Will Naeher's story about AFRECONE was also an interesting bit of background. It reminded me about a few interesting stories about F.S. communications which perhaps I'll write about when we get settled in our new digs on the Rhine. Look forward to reading about your stories too. How about your missus? Does she have any old "husband fishing stories" she might have up her sleeve?
/s/ Jim Steeves
The following letter was received from Nelda Drinkwater on August 5:
Thank each one of you (all 168!) For remembering my "Hero." I have received countless cards and each one gives me and immense support that is badly needed. Chuck's death is a blessing I had prayed for. He was so miserable, but never once became obstinate or complained; he accepted his condition with wholesome respect and appreciation of Hospice nurses and Aides who took care of his needs daily --- loving him and helping him to cope with diabetes, a brain tumor, Alzheimer disease, and an inoperable untreatable diagnosis of lung cancer. When my daughter and I heard the doctor say he had less than a year to live, we were both distraught. Chuck was put in a Nursing Home against my wish, but I reasoned it was for his best. He would receive constant skilled attention. I went every day and stayed with him all day, coming home at night to sleep. His condition worsened rapidly. It became necessary for me to spoon feed him, and wheel him in a wheelchair up and down the Care Center halls for "a break" as he was not able to participate in the Center's planned activities. Imagine my shock one day when he looked pleading at me and begged: "Why won't somebody tell me what I did! I have to know! How long am I going to be confined?"
WOW! When I realized he thought he was in jail, have you any idea how quickly I moved? He was at home before the Satilla Care Center could catch its breath! No way would I have him in jail. When we arrived "home," he rewarded me by walking into the kitchen, sitting down at the table, picking up his fork and eating on his own. A sister who had visited him in the Care Center stared in shock. She explained, "If I had not see this with my own eyes, I would not have believed it!" As soon as we arrived home, our wonderful doctor had Care Help arriving, also. Within days, Hospice Home service took over. Our home became a hospital. Our den supported two electric beds (One for chuck and one for the night sitter.). I cannot praise Hospice enough. All necessary equipment was brought in, medicines were taken out of may hands and handled by Hospice workers --- I stood by marveling at how good God is ... no responsibility ... no charge (all FREE). Chuck's response was truly great. He cooperated 100 % and let them do whatever was necessary without complaint. They called him "a southern gentleman ... sweetheart ... darling ... until I threatened to sue them for alienation of affection. I was rewarded with one of his beautiful smiles.
When a nurse told me "this is the beginning of the end. When the pain comes, and it will, give him a capsule with a morphine tablet every 3 hours if you are alone." I asked her WHY WAIT UNTIL THE PAIN STARTS? - why can't we administer the morphine BEFORE pain starts, and have him already medicated? She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and immediately began the pain killer. I am so indebted to her, for Chuck died without experiencing pain at all.
For two days Chucks breath become very short, dry gasps that were devastating to our doting daughter and me. Finally, I took his face in my hands and began talking to him. Although he had seemingly been comatose for two days, I knew from past experience that hearing is the last sensitivity to leave us. So I leaned on that!
I told him Christ was standing right there beside us, wanting and waiting to take him home. I reminded him that he had no indebtedness or reason for him not to "let go."
Miracle of miracles, Chuck's gasping stopped --- he took about 4 or 5 easy breaths, and simply lay quietly without any struggle --- just went to Christ. Kathy and I both are now grateful for the lung cancer. It shortened his life, but without it he would have existed for several years as a mindless Alzheimer's Zombie. We are so grateful for the unbelievable support throughout our stressful time. Believe it or not, we are still having tremendous support from friends like you all --- it helps soften the hurt that runs deep down inside, yet we both agree our relief outweighs our grief, for Chuck is at peace.
When I glanced at the long list of names of CANDOERs, I had no idea I would find any familiar ones. Suddenly, names I had heard Chuck mention many times jumped out at me, and I felt good: Will Naeher, Joe Lea, George Pearson, Tim Tangeman, Walter Abbott, Stu Branch, Bill Callihan, Warren Spurr, Bob Catlin, Jim Prosser, Al Giovetti, ... to many to enumerate, but each and every one special for remembering a truly great guy.
/s/ Kathy and Nelda
The following thank you note was received on August 11 from Phil and Susie Tinney:
We would like to thank you for remembering Melissa. Your sincerity, love and respect is a comfort to us. Melissa would have been as proud as we were of the many tributes paid to her and the caring spirit displayed by those who knew her.
Thank you for remembering our daughter.
/s/ Phil and Susie
On August 12, the following note was received from Hospice Satilla:
CANDOER Luncheon Group,
We gratefully acknowledge your gift of $45 in memory of Charles Drinkwater. Thank you for caring.
/s/ Carol C. Schlueter, Executive Director
As you saw by the way the August front page looked, it did not have the quality you all are used to getting with the CANDOER. With this issue, I have redesigned the logo, again. Hopefully this one will look better than the August issue as it is geared to the color black, rather than various shades of gray. If it does not turn out well, I will go back to the full color logo.
This issue starts a series of book reviews, and hopefully a few articles now and then, by John Kennedy.
In May of 1974 my wife and I said farewell to Madrid, the locale of our meeting, marriage and two years of wedded bliss, but our dog Samson had left some time ahead of us. Since our onward post of assignment was Dublin, and Ireland imposes a quarantine on all animals (except race horses, so I'm told) of six months, we decided to send Sammy ahead of us so that he could get some time under his ... ah ... belt while we were free to pack up our possessions and attend farewell parties, without having to worry about him being alone in the apartment both during day as well as the evening.
Ireland has one place where they quarantine animals which is actually on a farm north of Dublin about thirty miles, along the east coast of Erie.
Each dog has a run which is about four feet in width, twenty feet in length and at one end, a common shed that is split up corresponding to each individual dog's run. This shelter is heated with light bulbs. At the end of the run, opposite from the shed, is a gate through which big dogs can get up on their hind legs and look out at the normal activities of the farm. Samson was a little bugger so he had to jump high to get a brief glimpse of anything.
We visited Dublin to consult with the communications officer, whom I was going to replace in two months' time, but also took the opportunity to visit Samson.
When we got there and were shown his run, we were astonished at this creature that was covered in mud and with fur that almost reached the ground. He certainly wasn't recognizable as our year old pup.
The gate was opened and we reluctantly walked into his run. It took a few seconds before he recognized us. When he did, he charged at us and ran around our legs and jumped up on us. We didn't really want to touch him but, of course, did. Then, a few seconds later there was a riot of barking from one end of the quarantine enclosure as, I realized, the first dog at that end saw a cow or horse passing the quarantine buildings. (I imagined that the dogs in both the first and last pens had a special responsibility of notifying all the other dogs of an approaching farm animal.) Of course the next dog picked up the racket and it carried on down the line until Samson got the message and left us to charge toward the gate. There he bounded up and down and barked like crazy. This "wave" of barking then passed on down the line and Samson turned around, content that he'd done his duty. He then stopped when he saw us and then once again he ran to us to resume his greeting. It was as though he'd been interrupted by very important business and in the process of taking care of it, forgot we were there. Again we reached way out and petted him but, as before, the barking from up the line started again. We watched this cycle of events three times, and each time he "forgot" we were there.
At that point, we realized that he wasn't starving to death because we had him sent off to prison for crimes he hadn't committed. He was a real dog, well, to be accurate, a real filthy dog, and seemed to have settled in quite well. The manager of the facility assured us that, when his time was up, he'd be groomed and beautiful, so we left in confidence that it would be so. In the process of going to the quarantine facility our minds were put to rest in spite of the advice given by some friends that we should put him entirely out of mind while he was there; that to see him would make it worse for him and us. It was well meant advice but now we knew it just wasn't the case.
At the end of his six months, after we had spent three of them in The New Jury's Hotel waiting for our house to be available, we went for our little guy and he was, indeed, beautiful. We let him out of the car on the way back to Dublin and he had a wonderful romp across an open field and returned to us with tongue lolling and seeming delighted to be back with us.
In our new home he lifted his leg once, while we watched, but we yelled at him. He turned, went out the door and marked his new property. He never threatened to make a mess in the house again. He was a very fine little pet.
The following people attended the August luncheon at TGIFridays: Bob Berger, Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Ralph Crain, Al Debnar, Charlie Ditmeyer, Leroy Farris, Ken French, Al Giovetti, Dick Hoffer, Charlie Hoffman, Joel Kleiman, Boyd Koffman, Don Lachman, Harry Laury, Mel Maples, Joe Pado, Ed Peters, Chuck Rambo, Val Taylor, and Norris Watts.
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death on Sunday, August 3, 1997, of Leotha Jones, beloved wife of Ulysses Jones, Sr., devoted mother of Leotha Dianne, Eulyssa and Ulysses Jr.
Leotha was a longtime employee of OC.
Friends were received at the Mt. Airy Baptist Church, 1100 North Capitol Street, N.W., Washington D.C. on Wednesday, August 6, from 10:00 a.m. until funeral services were held at 11:00 a.m. Leotha was interred at Harmony Memorial Park.
Her family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations in her memory be made to the Mt. Airy Baptist Church Building Fund at the above North Capitol Street address.
$45 was taken from the CANDOER Memorial fund and sent to the Building Fund in Leotha's name.
On Friday, July 25, at approximately 4: 00 p.m., Bob Caffrey suffered a heart attack at work. He spent several days in the hospital and then returned home for a short convalescence. By the time you read this, Bob will have returned to work. In the name of the CANDOER Luncheon Group, a get well card was sent to Bob.
On Saturday, July 26, I received a telephone call from Babe. Babe was in town for about 10 days to take care of some business. He said he is doing well and is enjoying Maine.
On Friday, August 1, a short letter and a donation was received from both Tim Lawson and Jim Prosser.
On Saturday, August 2, in an e-mail message, Gerry Gendron furnished an e-mail address for Steve Lowe. Steve indicated to Gerry that he would like to join the CANDOERs. I sent Steve an e-mail message informing him what the CANDOERs are all about. Steve's e-mail address is: email@example.com.
On Thursday, August 7, Jim Steeves sent me the following and asked me to publish it to all the CANDOERs: Dear Friends,
Before we head off for another go at Germany, this time when the mark costs more dollars than we can afford and everything costs more marks than we could carry, it is appropriate to send along a little poem that popped into my pointed head a few days ago. Perhaps you'll remember us as we struggle to find enough money to buy food over there and you'll be able to tell the kids or grand kids (some of you) that they should eat all the food on their plate and feel fortunate that they are not among the starving people in Germany.
We'll make contact with you by e-mail, those of you who have it, when we get established.
Carol and Jim (the carefree dependant)
On August 12, I received a generous donation and a note from Chuck Scott. Scotty said he hopes to make the September luncheon. He requested some information be added to his bio information. The new information has been included in the Pen and Ink section.
On August 16, I received a note, a donation to the CANDOER Funds, and a completed PERSONAL DATA FORM from Bob Richardson. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section.
On August 18, David Diamond furnished a complete bio and a donation to the CANDOER Funds. You may find David's bio and e-mail address in the appropriate section of this issue.
On August 19, Jim Gansel joined our ever growing number of CANDOERs who is doing it on-line. Jim's new e-mail address is in both the Pen and Ink section and at the end of this issue.
On August 21, Rich Modrak, in an e-mail message, indicated he was interested in joining the CANDOERs. I furnished information to Rich about the luncheons and the Newsletter. Rich's e-mail address may be found at the end of this issue.
This incident involves the APO at Brussels in 1965, for which the Embassy was responsible. Any APO problems, personal or official, ended up on the communications officer's desk.
It starts (and ends) with our Ambassador in Bonn, George McGhee, an Oklahoma oilman and good friend of President Lyndon Johnson. While at his post, he acquired a taste for good German white wine and had managed to purchase a substantial quantity of a particularly outstanding vintage from a German wine grower. He bragged of this once to Russell Fessenden, the then Deputy Chief of Mission at USEC in Brussels.
McGhee contacted Fessenden because he recalled him being an expert on corks, and he now urgently needed about 1,000 quality corks. Fessenden agreed to obtain them from his friend, a cork grower in Portugal and had them sent up to him in Brussels. He then re-wrapped the parcel, addressed it to Ambassador McGhee and had his chauffeur take it to the APO for mailing.
The box of corks never got to Bonn. The Ambassador not only was very concerned as his wine had to be bottled soon, but was livid he had to purchase inferior corks from a local supplier. Regrettably, I learned he took his anger out on DCM Fessenden in several heated telephone calls.
It seems DCM Fessenden's chauffeur neglected to insure the parcel, so there was no way to trace it. Whose lapse that was (DCM, secretary, chauffeur), no one was sure, but to Fessenden's great credit he told the Ambassador he would not cash his check and also to stop calling about the corks. They were lost and that was that. McGhee refused to let the incident pass and was insistent the DCM's chauffeur be dismissed for incompetence. This was the last straw for Fessenden. He refused to accept any further calls from Ambassador McGhee on personal or personnel matters.
So what really happened to the corks? I telephoned our Frankfurt area mail terminal (AMT) chief and explained how a personal APO parcel of about a 1,000 corks went astray between Brussels and Bonn about two weeks ago. The chief then related how on the returning Bonn APO truck one day the rear door had come open. Some bags of APO mail fell out onto the autobahn and were promptly run over many times by following trucks and automobiles, shredding the bags and scattering the contents. With police assistance, they were able to recover a lot of the mail, but those at the scene never really understood why there were so many corks all over the autobahn.
The following bit of humor was received from Jim Prosser.
The manager of a high class department store which sold everything from A to Z hired a new salesman who was bright and enthusiastic.
On the salesman's first day, the manager took him to his station and introduced him to others on the floor. The manager wished him success and said he would check back with him at the end of the day to see how everything went.
Shortly after closing time, the manager came back to the new salesman and inquired how many sales he made that day. The new salesman replied, "One." "My goodness," the manager said, "salesmen in this department usually ring up 30 to 40 sales each daily. What was the value of your sale?" "$342,720" said the new salesman.
The manager, flabberghasted, asked for an explanation how could so much be sold on one sale?
"Well", the young salesman replied, "I sold this guy a small fish lure. Then he wanted something better, so I sold him a couple of our bigger, fancy and more expensive ones. Then he said he needed some line and a rod and reel, so I sold him the best we had. Then I asked him where he planned to fish and he said 'down on the coast'. I asked what kind of boat he had, and he said he didn't have one. So I took him into our Marine Department and sold him that 45-foot fishing cruiser which sleeps six. He said his Volkswagen minibus wouldn't pull the boat and trailer, so in the vehicle department I sold him the largest towing vehicle with hitch we had. All for $342,720 including taxes."
"Wow!" says the manager. "You sold all this stuff to a guy that just came in to buy a couple fish lures?"
"Oh no, he didn't want fish lures. His wife sent him to the store to buy a box of tampons. I told him seeing 'your weekend is ruined, you might as well go fishing'."
Long about 9:30 one morning in Madrid, back in the Spring of '73, a blast from somewhere rattled across town to my apartment. I was still at home because, that week, I was assigned to the late shift and thus was just about to leave to go to work. Still, it was loud but I figured since there was construction work going on all over the city it probably was connected with a new building going up somewhere. A while later, however, I learned otherwise.
On those days that I drove to work I usually parked a block north of the Embassy. This day, however, I had taken the direct bus from outside my apartment building about three miles down Generalissimo to within a block of the Embassy. Walking up the hill from the bus stop I could hardly avoid seeing an enormous amount of water gushing down several streets. It looked like a water main had been ruptured and, by the looks of the situation, pretty close to the Embassy.
As I entered the Embassy I noted that everyone was excited. The first Marine Guard I saw told me what he knew which was that the Vice President of Spain had been killed by a car bomb! I eventually learned that the bomb had been placed under the street, within ten feet of where I usually parked my car, and when the terrorists who killed the VP saw his limo pass over the bomb, they blew it. The hole was about 30 feet in diameter and twenty feet deep. My poor little VW wouldn't have had a chance.
Seems the Basque people, in the far north of Spain, had a long-standing squabble with the Government and they felt they needed to get someone's attention. They knew the VP went to church every day, seven days a week, and his route always took him from the front of the church around the corner, around another to the back of the church and then on to a major street. They thus rented an apartment in an adjacent building, got access to the basement and dug a tunnel under the street.
Vice President Carrero Blanco, a devout Catholic, was a good buddy of President/Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Being a devout Catholic, it was understood that when his time came, he, as any other Catholic, would be given extreme unction, or at least serious unction, as he lay on his death bed. Neither the timing or the manner of death was anticipated so there was a note of skepticism about the article which appeared in the paper the following day and on that evening's TV news, to the effect that Carrero had been rushed to the hospital where he received some kind of unction and then expired.
Given the circumstances of the blast and the resulting trajectory of the limousine - sufficient to pass over the top of a six-floor apartment building and land on the top inside balcony, and the fact that the total thickness of the vehicle was reduced to a little more than a foot, there were some people who thought Carrero's remains were taken to the hospital in a bucket. But who am I to argue with either the Church or the Government? Last I heard, the old boy is still dead.
- Sunday, July 21 -
Another gorgeous day dawned on Irkutsk. I certainly was leaving with a very positive impression of weather here. It has been just wonderful every day! Never too warm, always dry, and with a lovely air conditioned breeze from Lake Baikal.
Now back to the Trans-Siberian train. The Rossiya arrived in Irkutsk just a few minutes late. That's not bad after four days. Coincidentally, the reservations the car number and compartment assignment are identical to those of the first portion of the trip. I brought along sufficient food for breakfast for I just assumed the dining car was still operating on Moscow time.
The train windows were probably washed only at the beginning of each trip, if at all. So, having quite of bit of time, I set about washing the exterior of my compartment windows - no small feat considering they are at least two meters above the platform.
As soon as I settled in, I made the acquaintance of Anna, an Australian lady, who quickly became a friend for the balance of the trip. Her compartment was adjacent to mine. I also got to know our new provodnitsa, Galina, her assistant Natalia, the cook Vladimir, and dining car hostess/waitress/accountant/referee/sales manager/cashier extraordinaire Svetlana. I didn't learn the train mechanic's name, but he was a jovial fellow and valuable asset to Vladimir and Svetlana. I wasted no time getting them all in a good mood and favorably disposed.
From Irkutsk, the Rossiya follows the southern and eastern shores of Lake Baikalfor five hours before turning east heading to Ulan-Ude. The ride is absolutely beautiful because the sun is against our back, thus providing splendid views of the lake. Being Sunday, there were a number of campers between the right-of-way and lake shore. Not a single one was in the water, although people were on it fishing from inflated rubber dinghies.
Towards noon Irkutsk time, I sauntered forward two cars to the dining car. This dining car appeared not to operate on Moscow time - thank goodness. The bill of fare was standard, simple but tasty. Forget the menu. It was there for show only.
The mystery of the dining car on the Moscow-Irkutsk segment was repeated again after Irkutsk. It was absolutely loaded with boxes again under tarpaulins and sheets. Only this time there was more! Eating space was really constricted to just five tables. I still had no idea as to why the dining car was apparently being utilized as a freight wagon.
At Ulan-Ude, the Trans-Siberian railroad continues east while a branch line heads straight south to Mongolia across the Gobi Desert to the capital, Ulanbataar. The train station platform swarmed with traders from Mongolia selling their goods along with kiosk operators selling the usual Russian prepared snacks, bread, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables.
This is an industrial city (sawmills, cars, glass) and capital of the autonomous republic of Buryatia. The Ibla River flows rapidly through it to Lake Baikal. The population is 359,000 and made up of Russians and the Buryat tribe (formerly nomadic between here and Mongolia). It was founded as a Cossack settlement in the 1660s.
As the train proceeded through Petrovskiy Zavod the surrounding mountain forests appeared to be severe victims of acid rain and are dying. In the vicinity, I learned, there is much mining activity of iron ore and coal. Crossing the Russian landscape I have often noticed large factories in dilapidated condition, if even functioning. Others appeared abandoned. Those which were operating invariably had chimneys spewing forth colorful smoke which undoubtedly is not very healthful to anyone or anything. The Russians have a lot to do to protect their environment and raise the now seriously declining average life span of citizens.
I observed there seemed to be almost an unlimited supply of scrap metal available everywhere we have been. The Russians are missing a good deal if they don't have the Koreans, Japanese and Taiwanese come in and cart it away - for a price. I saw some scrap metal salvage operations taking place, but they are certainly minuscule in scope when matched up against the problem.
An afternoon cribbage game was under way in the dining car. I observed. Vladimir and Svetlana were engaged in something which left Vladimir in a very bad temper. Never make the cook angry!
About 20 kms west of Khilok, the train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. It was more than two hours before we could start moving again. While the Trans-Siberian railroad is double track, I had previously noticed that cross-over sections to allow trains to run on the opposite side were very infrequent. It was not unusual to go 50 kms or more before coming to another cross-over point.
While waiting, trains passed us coming from the east about every five minutes for most of the two hours. A lot of westbound traffic had been backed up and released to run consecutively. Then the oncoming traffic stopped completely, and about 20 minutes later the Rossiya started off again, but obviously operating under visual or radio telephone half-speed orders.
Then we came to the site of a derailment of about eight empty ore hopper cars which probably occurred two or three days previously. The cars were still lying helter-skelter all on the north side of the right-of-way. The catenary system for both sides was destroyed and had been rebuilt. The eastbound (south) tracks apparently were not destroyed, but the westbound (north) sections were torn up and being replaced by crews working all over the area. A single temporary cross-over was built so trains could be operated one at a time between this site and the town of Khilok ahead. There were a lot of railroad workers, equipment and supplies brought to the scene so work could continue round the clock.
In Khilok we found numerous trains queued up in the freight yards awaiting their turn to pass the derailment site. After Khilok we passed more trains standing on the mainline awaiting their turn to either enter Khilok yards or go to the head of the queue in the case of passenger trains.
At this point I must admit to a bad misconception I had about the terrain we were to find along the section of the Trans-Siberian railroad from Ulan-Ude to Khabarovsk. As it is directly north of Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, I had just assumed this also would be dry, barren countryside. Such is not the case at all. It is quite verdant, with plenty of forest and large farms. We were in the Yablonovyy Mountain range.
For dinner, I found Vladimir still in a deep funk, refusing to go in the kitchen. He may have been on a personal strike of some sort. It was a bad sign. He sat at a table doing a crossword puzzle when it really was time to prepare meals. There were very few customers. So we let Svetlana know to just bring us anything to eat that could be easily prepared. It turned out to be borscht with fried eggs and ham on top of a bed of cooked rice garnished with cucumbers. Quite good. Never had a bad meal on the train yet.
I have to give Svetlana a lot of credit. It seems no matter what happens in the dining car, she can handle it and takes everything with equanimity. It appears she is in charge of the entire operation, the sum of which is yet to be revealed to us. I suspect the trouble with Vladimir had something to do with the cargo stacked everywhere and its impending disposition. It was not only in the restaurant portion, but especially in the kitchen area.
Back in my compartment, I pored over my world map, for during dinner conversation the question came up if anyone had actually gone around the world.
Until this trip, no one had. It turned out that in Irkutsk I had accomplished this, although not in a single trip. Irkutsk and Singapore are on the same longitude, and I now have crossed it from both directions.
Chita has a population of 349,000 and is located on the river of the same name. Its chemical engineering works and coal mines can be smelled even if you can't see them at night.
How does one become wealthy? According to this book, wealth is not the same as income. If you make a good income and sped it all, you are not getting wealthier. You are just living high. Wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend. How do you become Wealthy? Most people have it wrong. It is seldom luck or inheritance or advanced degrees or even intelligence. Wealth is more often the result of a lifestyle of hard work, perseverance, planning, and, most of all, self-discipline. The book says most millionaires live well below their means. An example of how small amounts add up: A man and woman smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for 46 years. They smoked 50,370 packs which cost $33,190. Had they invested in Phillip Morris instead, they'd have stock now worth over $2 million!
Too bad some of us didn't have this book and seriously start building wealth a few years back. Oh well...I'm sure my Lexington Troika Dialog Russia Fund will make up for lost time and I'll soon be wealthy!