|Issue 22||October 1997||Volume 2 - Number 11|
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
On August 27, the following card was received from Nelda Drinkwater:
August 25, 1997
Thank you for your gift to Hospice in memory of Chuck/Charles. You certainly CAN DO! It helps us bear the hurt to know our wonderful husband/Daddy was held in such high esteem. We doubly appreciate your contribution to Hospice as we feel so indebted to each worker who assisted us. We have called them Angels, for surely God directed them to our home. Chuck loved them even though he was unable to speak to them. He also held you - his co-workers - in great respect ... talked about you so often before his retirement that I almost knew you myself.
Our thanks to each CANDOER --- you know my address --- the Welcome mat remains ready for any of you who wander this way.
Nelda and Kathy
The following note was received on September 5:
September 2, 1997
CANDOER Luncheon Group
Dear Mr. Catlin:
Thank you and your organization for the tax deductible gift of $45.00 in honor of Barbara Candellaria. It is a privilege to have your support.
The following E-mail note was received from Tim Lawson, Hong Kong:
September 10, 1997
I just wanted to pass along my kudos on the most recent issue (September) of the CANDOER. While there was nothing strikingly new, or different about this latest CANDOER, I could tell that a new sense of readership loyalty has developed. You can feel it through the words and content of the many letters, articles, and other items that salt the Newsletter's text. A powerful expression of loyalty to organization and friendship, past, present, and future, is being conveyed through your pages.
Joe Hazewski's communication to the CANDOER is a perfect example. After reading Joe's letter, I felt as if I had just heard from a long lost relative somewhere, who at one time served as the virtual Oracle of my (and every other IMer's) business life in the Foreign Service. This is very special. It is something that should keep the CANDOER alive, and well read, for many years to come. Well done!
The following card was received from Gladys Kaklikian on September 19:
September 17, 1997
Thank you all for your kind words of condolences. I know Harry had many friends in your group. He was a wonderful family man and we will always miss him.
Your kind expression of sympathy is gratefully acknowledged and deeply appreciated.
/s/ Gladys and family
On September 20, the following note, and a donation to the CANDOER funds, was received from Bill Parker:
September 17, 1997
Good to be a part of history - and look forward to the next issue. All the best - please tell all the CANDOERs at the next luncheon "Hello" for Bill and Dee Parker.
The following letter was received from the American Heart Association on September 23:
September 22, 1997
CANDOER Luncheon Group
Dear Mr. Catlin:
Thank you for your recent gift of $45.00 in memory of Mr. Harry Kaklikian from the CANDOER Luncheon Group. Your contribution helps support the efforts of the American Heart Association to make a difference in the health of our community.
/s/ Albert A. Del Negro, MD
President, Fairfax Board of Directors
During the week of August 25, my youngest son Timothy, went to the Office Depot on Route 1, in the Beacon Mall. While there he found out that I can have the News printed for a lot less than at Staples. Last month Staples raised their charge per page to $.10 (a nickel per side). This drove the price of printing the September issue of 130 copies to $105.05. Tim said Office Depot will print 130 copies of a 16 page document for $51.40. This issue has been printed, and subsequent issues will be printed, by Office Depot, as long as their prices stay reasonable.
I am using a new formula to determine how much of a given donation goes to the News fund and how much to the Memorial fund. It is a very simple formula, $18 of every donation goes to the News fund and any amount received over the $18 goes to the Memorial fund.
If you wish, you may donate to the News fund only, or the Memorial fund only. In the MEMO area of your check just denote how you want the money applied. I will honor all requests and the money will be used only for what you specify.
The following was received from John Kennedy and is being furnished for the benefit of our Foreign Service CANDOERs.
For what it's worth, the retirement section has all sorts of stuff about crediting military time for retirement and Social Security if you are a Civil Service retiree. But, from what I've heard, they are telling Foreign Service retirees about the same thing. In some cases, they say Foreign Service must pay back the Social Security withheld while in the military before they retire. It is all rather complicated. When I retired they told me not to worry about it. And they were right. But why didn't they bother to give me a copy of the below Department Notice. Out of all the brochures, pamphlets; etc., this one seems to be the clearest of all for Foreign Service types. So...please print this Department Notice. I suspect others may have been overseas or for whatever reason, never saw it.
U.S. Department of State
December 12, 1985
To All Employees: State, IDCA, USIA, ACDA
Foreign Service Retirement
Charging of Interest on Military Deposit Accounts
Effective October 17, 1983, due to the issuance of Executive Order 12446 the Foreign Service Act of 1980, was amended with respect to the crediting of military service for civilian retirement purposes under the Foreign Service Retirement System (FSRDS). Members of the Service must make an election to purchase post-1956 or post-1976 active military service, depending on their date of appointment, and use the service for both Foreign Service and Social Security purposes.
If a member first became a participant in the FSRDS before October 17, 1983, then credit for military service without deposit is allowed, but if and when the annuitant becomes eligible for Social Security, the Foreign Service annuity is recomputed to exclude credit for military service performed after December 31, 1976. Military service performed prior to that date is credit free, as heretofore.
If a member first became a participant in the FSRDS on or after October 17, 1983, with credit for prior civilian service performed prior to October 1, 1982, the credit for military service without deposit is allowed, but if and when the annuitant becomes eligible for Social Security benefits, the Foreign Service annuity is recomputed to exclude credit for military service performed after December 31, 1956. Military service performed prior to that date is credit free.
The law also provides for an interest free grace period after which interest is accrued and compounded annually which was October 17, 1985, or two years after the member first becomes a participant in a federal retirement system for civilian employees. The 1985 calendar year interest rate is 13% and the 1986 calendar year interest rate is 10-3/4% for this purpose.
The interest accrual date for individuals first employed in a position subject to the FSRDS BEFORE October 17, 1983, is October 17, 1986. Therefore, if full payment is made on or before October 16, 1986, no interest at all will be charged. If on October 17, 1986, there is an unpaid balance on military service, interest from October 17, 1985 to December 31, 1985, will be charged at the 13% rate and for the period January 1, 1986, to October 16, 1986 will be charged at the 10-3/4 rate, and applied to the unpaid balance, which then is the amount due as of October 17, 1986.
In the summer of 1975, in a place called Glendalough, our twelve pound silver poodle snatched the opportunity to inflict terror in a flock of sheep and his two owners. Glendalough is a lovely picnic area located perhaps twenty miles south of Dublin. It's a very quiet place with grass, trees, a lovely waterfall that drops about 100 feet from the heights and splashes into a shallow pool. It's a fine place for little kids to play but one needs to beware of the extremely steep slope that drops from the top of the cliff from which the waterfall flows. There are grass and outbreaks of rocks on that slope and, on this day, a bunch of sheep which belonged on a farm up above. I assumed, when thinking of it later, that the sheep normally wandered about and returned to their barn when it was time.
On this day, not the first we had gone there with Samson, we relaxed and he wandered around inspecting the smells that were new since his last visit. We never had to put a lease on that little guy nor had we ever really trained him to obey our commands. He just did. It's hard to remember the details but we had been there perhaps twenty minutes when he started to bark, rapidly and fiercely, and then he took off. We looked around to see why this normally quiet dog - then about two years old - was carrying on so. And we saw why. On the slope, a flock of sheep had been eating their way down toward the park like area where we were about to picnic, but they were suddenly given freight by Samson and they went nuts. Well, I know, sheep panic easily and the evidence was before our eyes. I was horrified because I could imagine the bill for sheep with broken legs. Those poor animals bounded up, down and sideways while Samson ran after them. It took several minutes before I could catch up to him and by then not a sheep was in sight. As dogs will do, when his work was done he was ready for food and rest and I was ready for the nearest pub. Imagine going on a picnic without whiskey! Even though St. Patrick supposedly drove the snakes out of Ireland, I was a fool to take a chance.
Because I was not able to get off of work, I did not attend the September luncheon at Phineas in Rockville. Therefore, I do not have a list of the attendees.
It is with deep regret I inform you of the death of Barbara Candellaria, wife of one of our newest members, Ben Candellaria. Barbara died after a very short fight against cancer.
Any CANDOER's who would like to contact Ben, his address and telephone number are:
Mr. Ben Candellaria
7635 North Wildoaks Drive
Prescott, AZ 86301
Tel: (520) 445-1969
A card of sympathy was sent to Ben in the name of the CANDOERs. A money order for $45 was sent to the American Cancer Society in Barbara's memory from the CANDOER Luncheon Group.
It is with deep regret I wish to inform you of the death of Harry Kaklikian, 75, on Wednesday, August 27, at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Harry is survived by his wife, of 47 years, Gladys; two sons, Robert and Gary; and a daughter, Debra Kaklikian Barker.
Harry died from a massive cerebral hemorrhage.
He was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, September 3.
His family asked that Memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association, 7203 Poplar Street, Annandale, VA 22003.
A card of condolences was sent to the Kaklikian family and $45 was sent from the Memorial Fund in honor of Harry to the above named office of the American Heart Association.
CANDOERs wishing to contact Gladys, her address and telephone number are as follows:
Mrs. Gladys Kaklikian
4941 Andrea Avenue
Annandale, VA 22003-4104
Tel: (703) 978-4402
The following was written by Graham Lobb as a tribute to "our departed friend, Harry."
In a world caught up with the death of a Royal Princess and Mother Theresa, Major Harry Z. Kaklikian, a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and a Foreign Service officer, was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, September 3, 1997.
The family, friends, neighbors, and former colleagues gathered at gravesite to pay tribute and remember Mr. Kaklikian, known as Harry, to one and all!
He was eulogized by Mr. Willis E. Naeher, retired Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Communications; who recalled many personal tributes of the man he knew from close association.
A son remembered his father and what he meant to his wife and other family members. Then a Navy Captain told of Harry's vast knowledge and friendship to ham radio operators, a hobby he began as a young boy in Fresno, California.
The United States Army rendered a final tribute to a retired officer with full military honors. As the band played "America the Beautiful," a volley rang out, TAPS were played and the service was concluded when the Officer in Command presented an American flag to Mrs. Gladys Kaklikian.
Harry's call letters W4ACN remain silent as a licensed amateur radio operator of sixty years.
I first met Harry in Accra, Ghana, when he replaced the late William V. Ewing. Later in the Office of Communications, I had the pleasure to know and work with him in connection with his duties as the OMNCS State Representative.
All of us will greatly miss a colleague, a professional telecommunications officer and above all, a friend.
On August 27, I learned that Ken Loff has an E-mail address. It is a business address and therefore should be used sparingly. You will find it in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this issue.
On September 3, Tim Taylor furnished a new E-mail address. He will continue to use his JUNO address as a back up. His new address may be found in the Pen and Ink section as well as on the last page of this issue.
On September 4, Chuck Chesteen sent me his new snail-mail address. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On September 4, we gained another member. I received a letter and a donation from Barbara Gregory. Barbara's bio information and her E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On September 9, Bill Harrison furnished an E-mail address for Floyd Hagopian. I sent Floyd information about the CANDOERs. His E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this issue.
On September 10, I received an E-mail message from William Parker. He said he was interested in joining the CANDOERs. I sent him the canned text I send all potential members. On September 17 he furnished a donation and his complete bio. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On September 18, I received an E-mail message from John Kennedy. He is back on the air with a brand new computer and a new ISP. His E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this issue.
On September 20, I had a long telephone conversation with John Kennedy. We were having troubles connecting through his new Internet provider because of an invalid address pattern they were trying to pass through the Internet network. In the course of our conversation, I learned that John had surgery on one of his ear drums due to a cyst/boil. He says that slowly but surely he is getting back the hearing in that ear and is glad it is all over.
On September 21, we gained another member, Virginia Bates. Virginia's bio information may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On September 21, I had a long conversation with Stu Branch. Stu has spent several weeks traveling throughout the Western and North Western part of the U.S. He said he and Sharon are doing great.
On September 22, I received a call from Babe. He is in town for about a month and hopes to attend the next luncheon.
The following humorous article was given to me by Will Naeher.
Actual radio transcript released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10/10/95.
Station #1: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.
Station #2: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees South to avoid a collision.
Station #1: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Station #2: No! I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Station #1: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER ENTERPRISE. WE A LARGE WARSHIP OF THE U.S. NAVY. DIVERT YOUR COURSE NOW!
Station #2: This is the Puget Sound Lighthouse. It's your call Captain.
Yvonne, one of our communicators assigned Kigali in 1980 had arranged with a British Embassy secretary and friend, Evelyn, to take their R&R leave at the same time in Athens. After an all day flight on SABENA via Bujumbura and Dar Es Salaam, they finally got settled in the Hilton Hotel in the early evening. They decided to share a double room so money would be left over for touring.
The first order of business was to go out about 9:00 p.m. and get something to eat. After an excellent meal washed down with some fine Greek wine, Evelyn said she was going back to the room and get some badly needed sleep in preparation for the next day's touring activities.
Yvonne said she couldn't sleep just yet after such a big meal, and was going to walk about the sidewalk cafes for about an hour or so. Evelyn took the room key and said the door would be unlocked so Yvonne could enter without waking her.
About midnight, Yvonne returned to the hotel, and went up to their room. Unfortunately, she wasn't paying attention closely and got off the elevator one floor too soon!
Walking down the corridor she found the door unlocked as expected and the room darkened. She didn't turn on the lights, but just took off her clothes and quietly slid into bed.
She was just about to doze off to sleep when the body next to her in the bed rolled over and Yvonne felt this very hairy male arm! She turns on the bed lamp, and finds a Greek man waking up out of a sound sleep. He is as surprised as she. She leaped out of bed, got dressed in a flash and said "Isn't this room 710?" He didn't understand, but opening the door she saw it was 610.
When she finally got into her own room, and bed, she again undressed and didn't bother to turn on the lights not wanting to wake Evelyn. But the events of the previous fifteen minutes had left her wide awake and starting to laugh uncontrollably to herself. She muffled it by putting the pillow over her face and eventually fell asleep.
The next morning, she explained to Evelyn what happened and they both had great laughs over it. Then, in the breakfast room, the man from 610 is spotted across the room. Yvonne decides an apology is in order and walks over to him. He spots her coming and didn't know whether to get up and run or what. She explained what happened, but doubted he understood it. Anyway, they both smiled and parted.
- Monday, July 22 -
During the night others said it rained a lot and rather hard at times, but I never heard it. I sleep too soundly. From looking outside there must have been a good rain. But it was another beautiful day, with puffy white clouds everywhere in the azure sky. The train was now more than two hours behind schedule. The train stopped at Karimskaya, about 110 kms east of Chita, which is the junction where the Trans-Siberian line continues east, and the trains to Manchuria and China proceed south. Being quite early in the morning, there were few vendors on the platform, but I was able to purchase some things for breakfast. But there was no fresh fruit available. Fortunately I had a little remaining from previous purchases.
Anna, the Australian lady, came in my cabin after her breakfast this morning to chat for a while. I found her to be a most interesting person and really enjoyed hearing all about what she was doing. What an adventuresome person!
Ultimately, she mentioned that Russian man who sleeps on the other bed in her compartment apparently has not bathed recently. His bed clothing left an unpleasant odor. During the day he spent the time with his family in the adjacent compartment. I reached into my shaving kit and handed her my bottle of Old Spice after shave lotion. I gave it to her and said to sprinkle this over the bed and that should take care of the problem. Each morning thereafter she returned to borrow the Old Spice, and said it did the trick!
Everything remains lush green everywhere. The farmers should be delighted. Private potato patches continue to be evident along both sides of the tracks. The forests are gone now. The terrain resembles eastern Washington State with rolling hills of grain and range land. We didn't see any beef cattle, but occasionally did find herds of dairy cows.
At this point there are no highways and few towns to be seen for the next 2,300 kms. This is beautiful isolation. Occasionally I did see some vehicle tracks across either sandy or muddy terrain. A 4-wheel drive won't do it here. Best to have a tractor or truck with big tires. But it has been interesting to see the few people here getting about on motorcycles with side cars. It's that or the back of a truck.
It is now common to see trains with flat cars of vehicles fastened to them. Exposed automobiles and some other vehicles have had plastic or plywood placed over the windows for protection against flying objects. What I was amazed to see was people riding in the private automobiles, particularly if they were foreign made and of recent vintage.
I also saw along this area trains with screened automobile carrier cars attached. They are similar to ones seen in western Europe and North America. The difference here is that inside each there always is someone riding. I believe the reason may be that the vehicles are imported from Japan for private sale in Russia.
We have now seen quite a few Russian military trains moving or parked in stations along the way. Just as 24 years ago, each military train, at least in this area, still has a number of exposed soldiers posted on it, both while stationary and under way. No passenger car is attached in which to relax either. July is nice, but January?
Additionally, every bridge in this area is guarded at both ends by a sentry. With no roads anywhere, the railroad bridges are extremely vital for this is the nation's lifeline with the far east. What desolate duty. There are countless bridges across the area.
Militarily, this is still a sensitive area. The Chinese border is formed by the Amur River and has been the scene of difficulties between China and Russia for years. The original engineering plan of the Trans- Siberian railroad started by Nicholas II called for laying tracks along the north bank of the river. However, the violent nature of the river frequently destroyed them. A political decision was later made to move the entire line about 200 kms further north to avoid natural disasters and Chinese military problems.
Along the route of the Trans-Siberian we occasionally passed railway salvage yards. Since Ulan-Ude they have appeared more often. Dozens of electric locomotives, some diesel and only a few steam engines, were seen awaiting the cutting torch. Likewise for many passenger cars. A few stations along the way have restored steam locomotives prominently erected as monuments.
In my many years of riding trains, until now I had never seen railroad fire fighting equipment. Several times since Ulan-Ude, especially in large railroad salvage yards or yards with significant railroad construction equipment at the ready, I saw strings of all red tank cars, red sleeping or food service cars, flatcars with large diesel engine pumps and hoses, and even once a red railroad crane with telescopic boom! Regrettably every time I passed one of these unusual sights, my camera was never ready. I can only assume such equipment must be spotted along this area which does not have roads or nearby communities to provide fire protection. Likewise, this equipment is probably taken along during major right-of-way construction.
After lunch I returned the breakfast tea pot and glasses to Galina, our provodnitsa. I found her sauteing a pan full of sliced eggplant in garlic butter on the hot plate behind the samovar! I complimented her on having such a delicacy for lunch. Of course, she then invited me to join her for some.
My soft class sleeping car was built in 1994 in Ammendorf, Germany (formerly East Germany). The builder's plate is beneath the first step to the entrance of the car, which is just about at eye level from the platform. The car appears to be made from the same plan of which thousands were produced many years ago. While air conditioned and quite comfortable, it has taken a physical beating from the riding public in its two short years of existence. It looks like it has been in service for 40 years. The adjacent hard class sleeping car (not air conditioned) was built in 1989 by the same firm. The dining car (air conditioned) was also built in 1989 by Ammendorf and could use a complete reconditioning.
At Mogocha we had a 15 minute stop on track 3. Tracks 1 and 2 were vacant. All vendors and kiosks were on the track 1 platform. Hundreds of passengers piled off the Rossiya and scrambled across the tracks to make their purchases. After ten minutes passed, a passenger train pulled in on track 2 cutting off our return to the Rossiya! There is no alternative underpass or overpass. This caused passengers to start crawling under the train on track 2 (very dangerous), or climbing through it to our train, or running to the end of the train on track 2 to climb aboard ours at a convenient entrance. Now our locomotive engineer exceptionally signaled his horn for departure!
The skies became overcast and rain showers occurred for a couple of hours. That is what keeps this countryside so green. I sure was wrong in my expectations of the terrain.
At 1730 local time, the westbound Rossiya passed us between Mogocha and Amazar. It was the same train we rode from Moscow to Irkutsk. I silently waved to Larissa, Olga, Elena, Sasha and others that took us on our first ride.
In this part of eastern Siberia, there are no roads linking the few isolated villages the train passes. There are only dirt tracks with plenty of mud holes in them. Here for long distances the railroad is the only line of communication and transportation.
At 1830 I went to the dining car to have a beer. I found the entrance blocked by boxes. However, Svetlana spotted me and let me in. I was now witnessing an amazing operation. The dining car mystery was now solved before our unbelieving eyes. Svetlana, Vladimir, the train mechanic, and three others were frenetically engaged in a vodka wrapping and packing operation on a grand scale. There was no time to serve food.
Vodka had been stashed in the most improbable places! The boxes were the most visible being beneath the tables, on them and the seats. They were also in any available space in the kitchen and storage areas. Each contained 24 .50 liter bottles.
Additionally, many cases were emptied (but cartons saved) and individual bottles by the hundreds were stored in the seats of the dining car. Each seat held about 90 bottles! All unused cabinet space was filled. There were two floor hatches leading to storage space below the floor and these were filled with scores of bottles. Even the baseboard heating covers had been removed and dozens of bottles were stashed behind them!
One wonders where the dining car had space to store food! No doubt this explains the very limited selection of the "menu".
At Amazar, the local time was 2130 and the train stopped for 15 minutes. Over 100 boxes of vodka started flying out the dining car's four exits and windows at incredible speed to waiting merchants on the platform. When all was finished, large sums of money quickly exchanged hands. Svetlana looked up at me from the platform and smiled.
This was the third time today such an operation took place, but the previous two were on a much smaller scale.
Now there actually was a lot more room in the dining car for several tables had been cleared of boxes of vodka and their tarpaulins put away. So the dining car in reality was used as a freight car to supply vodka for all those isolated stops after Chita when there are no roads for truck traffic. But why does the railroad allow this when it could be shipped in freight cars? Perhaps I'll get an answer later.
At 2200 the dining car resumed "normal service" and I got a late dinner. Stroganoff was the offering. Vladimir and Svetlana were absolutely exhausted, but both smiling and in a very good mood.
Between assignments to posts abroad, Foreign Service personnel are required, by federal law, to spend a minimum amount of time in the U.S. My assignment to Madrid was followed by assignment to another hardship post, Dublin. Normally, I would have traveled to the U.S. and then, after home leave, gone on to Dublin but the Department made an exception in this case because my predecessor, the communications officer, would not be at post when I was scheduled to arrive several months hence. So it was decided by those folks who have a clear view of the big picture, that we should proceed from Madrid to Dublin and that I should consult for a day or two with the current communications officer. While there, for three days, we would also scout out possible housing since our eventual arrival date was going to land us there when the rest of the diplomatic community would have already picked over all the decent housing.
So, it was a great opportunity and very important for the first reason given. We were busy as beavers for two days but had a third day in which to do whatever we wanted. The top item on the schedule for that day was to drive about 50 miles north of Dublin to a small city called "Malahide", which is where all animals sent to Ireland spend six months in quarantine. We saw our dog; were reassured he was doing very well without us (indeed, he was so occupied barking at the farm animals that he hardly noticed us) and, in the afternoon, planned to go downtown and do a little shopping for friends and family back in the U.S.
A last-minute change to our plan for shopping came about because the communications officer abruptly invited us to dinner that evening and it would have been awkward to pursue our shopping trip which we were not excited about anyway. He never explained the sudden invitation but I know how it works: His wife changed her mind and allowed it. That's how it had to be. All married men know that.
Anyway, during the meal there was a phone call from the Embassy. The communications officer, the host, was on duty for communications and said he would have to go to the Embassy. The junior communicator suggested that it would be more appropriate if the host stayed and he, the junior guy, took the call-in. This was agreed to. We were all intrigued because Ireland is a country where there is not a lot going on other than car bombs and shootings, mostly in the north of Ireland, not in the Republic.
An hour or so later the junior communicator returned and explained that there had been a series of car bombs in the main shopping area downtown, during rush hour. They were timed to go off when they would do the most damage, about when my wife and I would have been in the area. We sat in stunned silence for a while.
The following morning we were driven to the airport but the driver had to detour around part of the normal route because several blocks of one street were devastated by the blasts. I forget how many people were killed by the bombs but I think the count was several dozen. This event followed the bomb that killed the Spanish Vice President in Madrid by just a few months. This new mindless expression of rage gave us reason to wonder whether being overseas was such a good idea. We had no children yet but kids were a part of the plan.
First and Last CPO AmEmbassy Salisbury
AmConGen Salisbury closed in 1968, AmEmbassy Salisbury opened in April of 1981. The country soon became Zimbabwe. The Government of Zimbabwe‘s disagreement on the spelling of Harare kept Salisbury in use. We used rubber stamps to make pouch tags for Rhodesia-Zimbabwe; then, AmEmbassy Salisbury, Zimbabwe; and finally, AmEmbassy Harare, Zimbabwe. I sat on the ordering requisition for pre-printed pouch tags until all was firm.
Because of exposed lines throughout the country, we thought we might have prolonged circuit outages during the rainy season. An AFRECONE station was installed as backup communications into Lilongwe. Instead of circuit outages, Zimbabwe experienced drought and Lilongwe had flooding. We thus became a relay for Lilongwe at times.
We hosted the first official July 4th party that had been held in years and had to guess at how many Americans were in the country. About 150 missionaries and 150 mercenaries showed up. We made a big mistake, we had free drinks. One group wouldn't leave until the beer was finished.
Fishing was good in that area. At weekly staff meetings people reported on what they did over the weekend that others might try. They knew I'd been fishing and asked how many I had caught. I reported that I had caught about 750 pounds of fish. For those skeptics, I was able to convince them with the pictures I took.
First Secretary and APO Mail Clerk on The Same Day
In 1993 we faced a loss of some of our APO services in Paris because of an Army drawdown. At the time, it seemed we would be able to keep registered mail service, if we provided an American for a weekly trip to Belgium. Most of us didn't mind a one day trip since it allowed two hours for PX shopping. I received the first "certified APO 09777 mail clerk" badge so I would be ready when/if needed. The Department granted the diplomatic title of First Secretary to the Paris IMO that day!
Direct Transfer of "Ditty Bopper" (aka "Static Chaser" )
Will's AFRECONE article reminds me of 1974 when I was having a good time in Pretoria. About 18 months into my assignment, the Department asked me to direct transfer to Ibadan (one of 6-8 RTTY stations left). Upon arrival, I found out why; Morse code! Someone must have looked at my Air Force records and figured anyone with morse/non-morse intercept training could do the job. Never mind that he had never sent a group nor tuned a transmitter of any sort. As it were, books and "cheat sheets" soon had me on the air and I earned a reputation of being "smooth as glass, but slow."
The biggest VIP visitor was when the Ambassador's wife came up from Lagos for shopping. Even Aid folks stayed away for this visit!
I spent lots of time ordering frozen meat by the case (from Emborg) and on post security officer duties, but I still had time to practice my morse code sending skills. It was fun to surf the ham radio bands. And while I didn't have a personal call sign, that was easy to fix --- I just used Joe Hazewski's! ... Just kidding, Joe.
PART ONE OF TWO
Some folks have asked me to share my "secret" for establishing and maintaining a beautiful lawn. There really is no secret. It requires planning, planting and patience.
One of the tricks of a good lawn is knowing a few things about the growing cycle of grass and weeds. First, grass starts to grow before weeds in the spring and continues to grow after the weeds die out in the fall.
Second, weed killer is like chemotherapy for your lawn. It has the side effect of killing your grass. If you can establish a thick lawn, it will not allow the weeds to grow negating the need for strong chemicals.
Third, a lush lawn in spring is actually started in the previous fall. In Northern Virginia, this means October 1. This brings us to the next stage.
The main ingredient to any lawn is the grass! This sounds obvious, but is it? Most of us go to Hechinger's or K Mart and buy a popular grass seed that is on sale for $25.00 per 50 pound bag with little or no regard as to what we are getting. These inexpensive seeds are usually Kentucky Tall Fescue. This is a broad leaf grass normally used in meadows for grazing animals and for baseball diamonds in state parks. It is one step above a weed, in my opinion. It flattens out and allows weeds (the enemy of any lawn) to grow and is not very becoming as a "beautiful" lawn basis.
The University of Virginia rates the various seeds that grow well in the soil conditions here in Virginia. Our soil is made up mostly of clay and sand.
Consistently each year three seeds rank at the top of the list: Shenandoah, Guardian and Jaguar. They produce a fine bladed grass that is thick and green. These seeds are not cheap. The average cost of a 50-pound bag is $100.00. Well worth it because without good seed rated for this area, you are just cultivating and inferior lawn. You certainly do not want to waste time, effort and money on that!
The next ingredient to a lush green lawn is fertilizer. I am not an expert in this area and most of the articles I have read on the subject are Greek to me. The bag will usually tell you what the numbers represent, for those of you who care to know.
My experience has been that a product called STA-GREEN (24-6-12) or STA-GREEN STARTER (18-24-10) works for me. It does not burn the lawn and will last around three months after an application. Each bag costs around $10.00 - $12.00.
An additional product is Compro. This organic fertilizer is useful for the whole lawn, but specifically bare spots that appear. There will be more on this problem later.
Installation of your lawn using the products above should begin October 1. Why October 1? Because the weeds have already died and the lawn has stopped growing in preparation for winter. It is in its dormant stage, although it will still stay green.
Adjust your lawn mower for the lowest possible setting. You want to scalp the lawn. Do not worry if it bottoms and creates bare spots. Do not use a mulching mower! Bag all of the clippings for your compost heap or the trash. Your refuse collector will love you.
After scalping the lawn, apply the grass seed (I use Shenandoah) at the recommended setting +1 for your spreader. Make sure you overlap runs to maintain even coverage. Remember that 90% of this seed is really going to grow.
Next, spread the STA-GREEN STARTER (18-24-10) fertilizer at the recommended setting, +1, for your spreader following the same rules as before.
Finally, spread the Compro over all of the bare spots on the lawn. This is a neutral product. It naturally adjusts the pH of your lawn while providing a basis for the seed to grow. Some people spread it over the entire lawn. This is up to you. It is more work but it does not hurt to do so.
At this point, rake the seeds in the Compro and smooth as necessary.
Finally water the lawn lightly, enough to wet the Compro and give the seeds wet grass to stick to.
On November 1, spread STA-GREEN (24-6-12) fertilizer at the recommend setting, +1. Repeat the process again on December 1.
Now sit back and wait until spring arrives for your new crop of lawn.