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My Blog

.My Kid said that I need to have my own “Blog”. So here it is. This is my graffiti on the wall. 

Some of the thoughts I record here are short and some of them are long. Probably the short ones are better reading because they waste less time.

If you feel like reading it; go ahead. If you really would rather not; then I won’t be offended.


There is a big difference between saying that two things are different and saying that one is better than the other. I’d like to know just when we became too stupid to understand that. Society seems to now be under the impression that we are all the same color, same gender, same weight; same everything. To recognize any difference between ourselves as individuals is now deemed to be the same as inciting hatred for anybody who is of a different color; gender; weight and whatever. I think that the only “same/equal” thing about any of us is the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But since we are all too stupid to understand that; we have to draw the line at the very top and ignore any difference between ourselves. Because we cannot be trusted to think for ourselves. Society; you make me sick.


I don’t agree with everything that Frederick Douglas said. But he was right about this… ” Infinite wisdom has seldom sent into this world any man better fitted for his mission than Abraham Lincoln” 


Those were the days…..





Just found these photos while kicking around the net. Apparently there used to be giants. I never knew that.


 I just got back from a resort in the Dominican republic. While there, I found that the price of an apple pie is only $1.50 for a full pie. While further south in Jamaica, the cost is a dollar per slice. Probably the worst deal is over in Barbados where you would have to pay over $10 for the whole thing.

Those are the pie-rates of the Caribbean.



 Nobody ever talks about Herbert Hoover any more. Not since “All in the family” went off the air.

Herbert Hoover had guts.

While working for a Chinese mining company at the time the Boxer rebellion broke out, he led the effort constructing barricades around the western enclave of Tientsin. He braved enemy fire to rush out and save Chinese kids caught in a cross-fire.

As the head US government official in charge of feeding the population of war-torn Europe in 1919 millions didn’t starve that may have under the care of a lesser organizer/bureaucrat. Even those in villages of Russia trying to get through the war between reds and whites. He swore that nobody deserved to starve; regardless of their politics. And he stuck to that no matter what the newspapers said. You think anybody today who has his eyes on a political future is going to take such an unpopular stance?

So Wall street crashed during his first year in the white house. Who out there understands that the great depression was not created by Hoover; but rather created for him?

Herbert Hoover rocks.



They tell me that you should “look before you leap” but at the same time, they say that “He who hesitates is lost”.

Many hands make light work…. but too many cooks spoil the broth.

It’s the squeaky axle that gets the grease….but silence is golden.

Can’t anybody make up their mind any more?


 At the moment, I am thinking about addiction. There is one thing about an addict that most of us don’t consider. We cannot understand him or her unless we know what it is like to be without the dignity of choice. That is the most elemental thing which addiction can strip from one or force one to abandon. Choice is literally the principle upon which all of our lives are built. Once choice is no longer an option, then the bottom falls out. How far the addict will fall is left to forces beyond his control. You can love an addict; only as long as you comprehend and accept that addiction is stronger than the addicts love for you and that forgiveness becomes immaterial. You can maintain hope; but only as long as you are aware that you do so at your own peril.


The below photograph was taken by my good friend Larry O’connor of South Dakota when he visited the German military cemetery at Recogne/Bastogne, Belgium. It has not been altered; it has not been photo-shopped. The names in the photo are exactly as they appear on the headstone of these two German soldiers. I am in no way implying or hinting at any form of disrespect toward these two fellows. But looking at the names and realizing that these two men were picked to share the same grave simply shows us how unaware Germans are of English slang terms.




“quod est necessarium est licitum”. (“That which is necessary is legal”). I was watching Big Bang theory and Sheldon Cooper used this phrase while pleading his case in traffic court. Now; I never got very far with my one-time ambition to be a lawyer. I am thinking of taking it up again; not by attending law school but by studying to read for the BAR, like Lincoln did. (yes, you can still do that) But I digress….

Anyway; I like the phrase. I like how it sums up in a tidy way; the notion that an act committed through necessity; while in itself a criminal act; is to be forgiven if successfully demonstrated that it was committed with the express intent of preventing an action or occasion of an event which would be more dangerous or unlawful than the act itself.

While researching the origin of this phrase or the first time it was successfully employed; I find that the general consensus of opinion among legal scholars is that the phrase did not exist or was never used under Roman law. The fact that it is quoted in Latin is a mere contrivance to add strength or prestige to the phrase or the notion itself. Somebody just thought it up and then translated it into Latin. Lawyers. Can’t trust ’em. Shouldn’t trust ’em. Don’t trust ’em.



There are three things that I enjoy in life; eating my family and leaving commas out of sentences.



I am told that Cell phones have been determined to cause Cancer in white rats. Red dye No. 6 has been determined to cause Cancer in white rats. Aspartame (synthetic sweetener) has been determined to cause Cancer in white rats. Proximity to high-tension power lines has been linked to the occurrence of Cancer in white rats.

I wonder if it is simply true that white rats are genetically predisposed to contracting Cancer.




During WW2, The Germans spent about $300,000 to build a single Tiger VI. The American government spent $35,000 for each Sherman tank delivered to the US army.  And we were the rich ones.




I am struck by the fact that in 1606 Galileo Galilei put forth the scientific theory (which was much later proven as fact) that objects which are of equal mass but of un-equal weight will fall at the same speed. (one cubic foot of concrete vs one cubic foot of wood). This theory contradicted known wisdom of the time. It contradicted scientific principles as taught by Aristotle since the 4th century B.C.

One has to realize what a hold the teachings of the Greek classical age still held on civilization even during the enlightened period of the renaissance. Teachings on subjects of the arts, of literature, sociology, medicine, physics…

He contradicted Aristotle. What balls.



So this friend of mine; Barry was at McDonalds getting a coffee. He was in his usual hurry. When they gave him the coffee, he took it and quickly turned around to head out the door. There was a midget standing behind him. I mean a really short midget. Barry is a tall fellow and the midget’s head came up to about Barry’s naval. Barry never looked down.  He walked smack into the little guy and tripped over him; knocking him down and falling on top of him. They both started to get up when Barry slipped and fell on top of the midget again. The Midget was wearing a nice three-piece suit and carrying a briefcase that went sliding across the floor. Barry was full of apologies as he finally helped his unintended victim from the floor.

Now; honestly, I have ever met a midget. The only times that I happen to see them, they are piling out of small cars at the circus or engaged in some other humorous frolicking. It never occurred to me what it would be like to see an angry midget; and believe you me, this little guy was pissed. 

I must say that I don’t know if the word “midget” has been decided by somebody to be offensive to midgets. I do hear them called “little people” sometimes, but just not sure if the word “midget” is now one of the many social taboos that the world of PC keeps coming up with. If any adult person who is under 4 feet tall reads this and is offended by my use of the term; please accept my apology. I do not mean to offend.

But man, oh man, that little person was pissed.



According to “23 and me”; I apparently share DNA with the Romanov family. There’s nothing in my written family tree of course so I am sure it must be from some illegitimate liaison way back when

 Nicholas II was a real Idiot. I’m his cousin so I am allowed to say so.

But I think he was lovable in his own way.




My brother was finished with his meal at a Diner. He wasn’t as hungry as he had thought when he ordered his meal and there was a significant portion still left on his plate. The Waitress brought the check. She looked at his plate and asked him “Do you wanna box?”

Without missing a beat, my brother informed her that he had no gloves with him; but if she cared to, he could wrestle her.

The result of this is that I have to go to a different Diner these days.



People Kill people for many reasons. I mean individually. A man might kill a man because that man massacred his family; or ran off with his wife. An assassin may take out a political leader because the assassin is crazy or the leader is a despot.  A soldier may blow up an enemy on the battlefield, hit him with sniper-fire from 500 feet or choke him to death in hand-to-hand combat. A grieving man may pull the plug on his cancer-ridden wife; or even his child. An addict might bludgeon an 80 year-old woman to death because she won’t let go of her purse and he himself may be executed by lethal injection on order from the state. As a society we discern between the various reasons for; or means of taking the life of another. Consider boiling it down to that single moment when one human being commits the act of taking another’s life. Cut out all the events that led up to it or the considerations surrounding it. Eliminate for the moment; any thought as to the motivation or cause. It is a tall order to do so. But if you can attain that perspective; it may be something to think over whether right is always right or if there really could be varying degrees.

It’s a thought that most likely is best left to better minds than mine; but I happen to believe that life is something which was bestowed upon us by something/somebody. From wherever it is that gift comes; I wonder how much consideration is given for the causes and whether such distinctions are made.

I do wonder that. But until the time that I find out, I will most likely continue to support the death penalty.





This is a cool old “retro” motel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s been around since the early 70s at least. The architecture hasn’t changed much but the decor has been updated a few times. In the 1980s, it was called “The flying cloud” motel and it was owned by Donald and Gloria Koziy.

There real names were Bohdan and Jaraslava. Originally from Western Ukraine, they immigrated to the US in 1949 from West Germany under the displaced persons act; a U.S. government program which offered immigration status to people of Europe who had been dispossessed by the social upheaval caused by World War Two.

Donald and Gloria were model citizens. From the time they entered the US, they were hardworking and industrious. They raised two kids and saved their money until they bought a motel in New York. Eventually they moved to southern Florida where Donald managed another hotel while he worked to pay for “The flying cloud” which they bought for themselves. Well-liked and known among the community as clean and hardworking; they were pillars of the local beach-side area.

But Bohdan Koziy was a Nazi War criminal. From 1941 to 1944 he was a member of the Ukrainian auxiliary police who worked for the occupying Germans in the Galician region of western Ukraine. Beginning in 1979, the US office of special investigations assembled a lengthy dossier on Koziy. The contents are quite chilling. A cold-blooded hunter of Jewish victims; witnesses were found to testify they had personally witnessed him committing several Murders; particularly of Ukrainian Children and one in particular; 4-year-old Monica Singer who was torn from her mothers arms by Koziy, dragged her to the police station where he shot her in the head; in front of her hysterical and bereaved mother.

Koziy’s comfortable life in  Florida started to unravel in 1979 when he was charged with lying in the deposition of his wartime activities when he filled out his entry visa application in 1949; the same lies told in his application for citizenship in 1955. By 1983 the legal maneuvering was done; Koziy’s citizenship was revoked and he stood to be deported to Poland to face the specific criminal charges. When they came for him, he was gone. He had sold “The Flying cloud a year or so earlier and left the country disappeared.

Bohdan Koziy outside the West Palm beach federal court building in 1982

Where can a man run to when he has no citizenship? ie; no passport? Costa Rica. This central American country will ( or at least did in the 1980s) let anybody move to and apply for a residence permit as long as they have the capital to buy their own place and help support the local economy. (Koziy had cleared at least several hundred thousand dollars by the sale of the Flying Cloud)

The next 20 years were spent in various legal strategies on the part of Koziy to be allowed to stay in Costa Rica and several government and private parties engaged in attempts to have him extradited. None were able to do it though and Koziy lived out the rest of his life in peace and comfort. He died in 2003 and thus got clean away with whatever crimes he’d committed for the Nazis

Last week, I was in Fort Lauderdale so I looked up the old “Flying cloud” motel; it’s name now changed and the new owners who don’t really put Koziy’s story in their tourist pamphlets.

It looks like a very nice place. I took a picture of it. Maybe I’ll stay there next time I’m in the neighborhood. Unless of course the motel owners see this blog and recognize the photo. I probably won’t be too welcome then…



My Favorite character in “Cross of Iron”


For those of you who are familiar with the film, I thought it might be cool to discuss our favorite characters. 


Mine is the Rat; Jayjay, who co-inhabited Stransky’s Battalion command bunker. I’m sure you remember him.


I feel that Jayjay is perhaps the least understood and the most multidimensional of the characters. He detests Stransky’s possessiveness of him; his often referral to Jayjay as “My Jayjay”. Yet he does seek out protection from not being treated correctly.


He is certainly the most underrated characters in that film. We also don’t know what happens to him in the end? Did he get killed? Did he live? Did he stay in Russia? We just don’t know.


If one is familiar with the behind-the-scenes part of the movie, one will know that there are several scenes which were filmed but later cut from the final print. They detailed Jayjay’s exodus across the taman penninsula straight to Crimea where he was unrecognized as the German sympathizer that he was. When the region was retaken by the Red army, Jayjay opened a small box-lunch delivery business until exposed as a Kulak and arrested by the NKVD. He ended his days in Beria’s Moscow apartment serving as a punching bag for Beria’s cat who was an aspiring boxer.


But back to reality…. it was merely a film; you know. Jayjay is actually the actors real name. Being a right primadona, he insisted on using it as the script name or else he would not accept the role. Sam Peckinpah was reluctant to allow this but was forced to accept the rat’s terms. The only other available rat-thespian who could have handled the part was the well known character actor Jojo. 


Jojo had originally been given the part but when the time came to film the bunker sequences, Jojo came down with the same strain of intestinal disorder that Captain Keisle suffered from; having reactions to the local Yugoslavian caterer’s menu. 


After the completion of the filming, James Coburn was heard to remark “I didn’t care for either of those little fellows very much.”




My Favorite Original WW2 German photo. (It’s your favorite too)



I’m really upset about all this stuff about the Emancipation proclamation. I know. Seems a little bit late; doesn’t it?

Lincolns proclamation of 1862 didn’t really emancipate anybody. It wasn’t intended to and even if it were so intended; Lincoln didn’t have the authority even under the extended war-powers he’d been given (or seized). Although the words (and I am paraphrasing because I don’t have the text in front of me) said that Blacks would be “heretofore and forever free”, it meant that Blacks who were seized as contraband by the army would be set loose and would not be slaves as long as they were in territory controlled by the US army. Or basically every place that wasn’t under the control of the persons currently engaged in rebellion against the USA. If the fortunes of the south had prevailed the next year (which they came disturbingly close to doing) Any black falling into southern hands would be returned to a condition of slavery; and those remaining in Northern territories would still not be free under the constitution.

The move was made in order to send a message to Industrial, cotton-hungry foreign countries who may have been courted by Southern interests into recognizing the Confederacy and possibly willing to help out in America’s “second Revolution” as they had helped with the first one eighty years before. That message being simply “If you help out these people, you will be supporting the institution of chattel slavery and we are going to tell the newspapers all about it”. Europe was far too gentile to stomach such a thing. Oh, they didn’t mind buying the cotton which was picked and processed by forced labor. They just didn’t want their people to be reminded of it. The real responsibility for this affront to human sensibilities; so popular at the time in Paris and London…that went to the the rough-neck people of the new world.

Freedom for American Blacks was a separate issue from the Northern war-aims altogether. It was never a part of what their people were fighting for except by extension.  Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Since event X followed event Y, it must be that X was caused by Y ) is thought to be a logical fallacy, but in this case; I think it is quite obvious.

But true freedom; which would be guaranteed by constitutional amendment; would have to wait until the war was decided; in theory, if not in actual fact. And it did wait. Until the closing months of the war and after Lincoln’s successful re-election. Then Lincoln brought it to the fore and championed the cause which met with the most bitter and dogged resistance among northern politicians. White America really wasn’t all that willing or enthused to put their money where their mouth was. They had to be dragged into it. And when they were; it was only to the effect that Blacks would be technically free and equal under the law. The social acceptance; I guess that would have to wait.


I was watching this documentary about the Titanic.

You know? The swimming pool is still filled with water. That’s amazing.



I ran across this old photo. It’s totally anonymous. No idea who these women are or where or when the photo was made. But it really makes me wonder.

I mean, really… Look at it…What the heck is going on?


What happened to “The”?

When I was a kid and somebody talked about the Titanic; they always referred to it as “The Titanic”. Now whenever I hear something about it on a documentary or where-ever, it is referred to as “Titanic” as in: “On April 10 Titanic leaves Southampton….Titanic hits the iceberg at 11:40 on the evening of April 14”. Why do they not say “The” Titanic? what happened to “the”? Its the same with other ship names.  We used to hear about how the USS Arizona was sunk at Pearl Harbor. Now on the History channel they say “Arizona blew up and sank”. What happened to “The”? Why has it been removed?

One thing that really gets me is the movie about the Titanic in the 1990s. They have this old woman who is a survivor and when she is talking about her experience; she says something like “That was the last time I ever saw Titanic”. The script-writers had her talking like that as well. Certainly; because she is old, she would have; all her life been referring to it as “The Titanic”. But suddenly she drops the “The”…what is that about?

Before Perestroika; we used to talk about The Ukraine. Now it is referred to as simply “Ukraine”…”Hello, do you come from Ukraine?”…I am going to travel to Ukraine”.

I don’t like it. Not one bit.


So; under Eisenhower’s administration in the 1950s America took a cue from other industrialized countries (Starting with Hitler’s Germany) and started to build the Interstate highway system; linking virtually all major cities with each other by modern freeways.  I always considered Ike’s sponsorship of the highways almost as cool as his commanding the  armies entering Europe to take out the Nazis.

I don’t know how close this idea is to becoming fact but I’ve heard that the government wants to sell the Interstates to private enterprises so that they can maintain them and charge us for using them. Our highway system is built upon an infrastructure and set of easements; assembled over the past 60 years which could never be duplicated by the private sector. But they don’t need to duplicate it. Washington wants to give it to them so they can charge us for the use of something that we have already paid for. Why?: because the government needs to take that upkeep money and spend it on throwing money at foreign allies that none of us want; sending the presidents wife to NYC on air-force-one to go shopping; at a cost of $500,000 per trip….or whatever.

Well I guess it was only a matter of time before mismanagement of our financial resources would take away; literally the only benefit that we daily see from all those tax dollars we send to Washington.

What a bunch of cocks.


I hate the term “Surrender Monkeys” that people tend to use when referring to the French. True; France has been a near comedy of blunders and mis-management since just after Waterloo. But I think we are inclined to forget 1914-1918.  The WW1 French veteran is probably the most respectable thing to have sprung from French culture in the past 200 years. Mistreated and misused by their own commanders; these guys held the line against overwhelming pressure for 4 years; throwing back the best that Falkenhayn or Ludendorf could throw at them. My hat is off to them.


Rumor has it

I love starting rumors. I call them “sociological experiments” designed to measure the gullibility of man. Oh; nothing major, mind you. I am not comfortable telling whoppers. Take for instance the weather. I’m standing with a friend in a check-out line and I turn and tell him (in a clear audible voice) that isn’t it something? We are due to get 12-16 inches of snow by morning. The lady in line behind us or even the check-out girl will hear this and repeat this astonishing prognostication to the next person they talk to…and so on, and so on.

  My favorite so far is mentioning (to anybody with whom I may be chatting) how incredible it seems to me that United States currency is now actually printed in China; contracted by the government because they can do it cheaper. So far, nobody has called me out on that. Isn’t that a hoot?

It’s a perfect lie. One that nobody would suspect simply because of the total lack of motive for telling such a fib. Nobody is harmed. Nobody loses anything by it. If there has to be lies in this world; (and human nature apparently dictates that there must be)  let them all be as trivial as these.

I remember in 2009 Michael Jackson died.  I think he was a very talented guy; if a bit troubled. He certainly made more of a splash in this world than most people do and the world was a better place with him in it. During that summer, I was waiting in a line of a Dairy Queen and I turned to my friend, Kent and said in an audible voice “So who is this guy Michael Jackson? Everybody seems to be talking about that he died”

 Kent is onto my ways ever since I gave him the idea that they were forecasting earthquakes one week in Lapeer Michigan. He answered without missing a beat; “I am not sure. But wasn’t he the president of Canada?”

“Yeah, That’s him. I guess that’s why everybody is talking about him being dead now.”

A kid; who was standing next to us says to me “Um, Mister… Michael Jackson was a singer”

“Oh really? What did he sing? Can you sing one of his songs here for me?”

“No, I can’t”

A minute later he had his Ice cream and was over with his family under one of those umbrellas. He was talking to them and pointing over at Kent and Me.

The fact that I am entertained by that sort of thing is something of which I am not particularly proud. I just recognize it as a fact and go on with things.

I mean; we live in a world filled with sickies. Andre Chikatillo; remember him? Killed about a gazillion people over 20 years and used to masturbate on their graves.

So how far from “Normal” are my little shenanigans?


I just ran across this photo. What’s that about?


I’m sitting here re-watching “Band of brothers” for the umpteenth time. Currently at the episode where the veterans are re-capping their experiences; speaking of their re-unions at that point when they were old men; speaking of that bond they have with other members of the company.

I’ve not had a war. I was born at just the right time; so that I matured in between conflicts. I’m thankful to God that I did not have to endure and witness what they did. But as much as I didn’t endure that kind of suffering; I missed out on having that bond between myself and others. There is no substitute for it. No friendship; no romance, no relationship of any kind would have that same quality. So how lucky am I really?


Have you heard that our United states currency is now being printed in China?


Size matters

Halloween has come and gone again. My kid is 13 so I have to really savor these last episodes of trick-or-treating before he gets too far into puberty. Of course I raid his candy bag; wouldn’t you? But something there really got my attention. There was a small packet of “Mini M&Ms”.


Why would the candy designers feel the need to come up with a “mini” version of something which is clearly already mini?

I mean; think about it. Have you ever encountered an M&M that you couldn’t eat at one sitting? … “oh man, my wife and I split an M&M last night and I am still feeling full”…Have you ever noticed any weight-gain from the consumption of a single portion of M&M? Why would they feel the need to offer an M&M which is further reduced in size?

And what is next? “Micro M&Ms”? M&Ms that you need to isolate with a magnifying glass and a pair of surgical tweezers?

This comes after the years-ago revelation that “Fun size” snickers bars are not nearly as fun as the full-size version.



That Lana Turner … just saw her in an old movie … what a dish. I mean; Wow!



The following is a true story. It happened to me in the 1990s. Later I found out that a similar thing happened to Douglas Adams who authored “The hitch-hikers guide to the universe”. The recurrence of these events cannot really be that common can it? Read the story and you tell me…

 I was asked by my friend to meet him at home depot to help load up some lumber he needed. I got there early. I sat at a picnic table near the front door with my newspaper and a package of six peanut-butter/crackers. I was reading my newspaper when a guy came and sat at the table across from me. I didn’t look at him; just knew he was there.

Then it happened…I heard cellophane crinkling as he opened my package of crackers and took one. Quite a forward sort of thing to do; eh what? It was fairly odd on his part… but I was in a calm mood and didn’t feel like making any complaint about it. Just reached over and took one myself. A moment later, he took another. Again; I didn’t feel the need to comment. Never even looked at him. Just continued reading the first section of my newspaper. I took another cracker; the fourth out of six in the package. Then thought that I would just deny him of a half/half split of the crackers …so I reached over and took the remaining two.

He got up and left. Again; I never actually looked at him but something in his body language told me that he left in a snit. Screw him.

A few minutes later my friend showed up and I figured it was time to get to work so I got up  and grabbed my paper up from the table. Underneath it was the package of crackers that I had bought. Still unopened.

That guy is probably still out there. Maybe he thinks about this episode from time to time. And maybe he tells his version of it to people. A version quite different from mine because he left before the really funny part happened.


We drive on the parkway but we park in the driveway.

I know that you must have heard that statement before. But sometimes I really ponder the irony of it and I wonder why more people don’t seem to wonder why.


I maintain that the secret to Humor; indeed the pre-requisite of it; is brevity.

A horse walks into the bar and the bartender asks “why the long face?”….that remains my life-long favorite joke. And it is one that you can tell in a single breath.



I think that King Michael I is a most fascinating guy. He became king of Romania in 1940 and was really only a figurehead until the late summer of 1944 when a coup was staged against the Romanian government leader; Ion Antonescu and Michael became the Defacto ruler of the Romanian state. Shortly afterward; seeing that the red army was bearing down on his eastern orders; he made the decision for Romania to defect to the allies; Much the same way that Italy had done the previous summer. The Germans reacted much the same way that they did the previous summer except they no longer possessed the military punch to invade and occupy the country. On the contrary; given the cease-fire and armistice between Romania and the Allies; the Red army entered Romania in it’s continued push “на запад“; to the west. Michael was recognized by Stalin as playing a significant role in actions effecting an entire theater of war in favor of the Allies and was made a holder of the soviet order of victory (along with a total of 21 other recipients including Eisenhower and Montgomery). However, by the end of 1945, a communist government was installed in Bucharest and the days of Michael’s royal reign were surely numbered. He was forced to abdicate and left the country in early 1948.

At the time that I’m writing this; Michael I is still alive. Since the fall of communism in the late 80s; he has been welcome back in his home country and has maintained a home there; although has been allowed almost no role in the affairs of the current government. He remains a striking figure this far into the 21st century; a WW2 era head-of-state who lunched with Hitler yet was made chief Commander of the Legion of Merit by Harry Truman. He and his wife: Princess Anne Antoinette Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma are cousins to Queen Elizabeth of England. He’s been a test-pilot, he was head of the Romanian boy-scouts in the 1930s. He collects cars and especially military Jeeps.

It is in that context that I met him while attending a military vehicle rally in France back in 1989. I and some friends were over there for one of the major rallies which took place in Normandy every 5 years during the anniversaries of the invasion. My friend; Jim and I were walking along when he noticed this guy and his wife getting out of his Jeep; a rare example of a Willys Model MA dating to 1940. Jim was assembling info and data for a book about that precise vehicle and he stopped to talk to the owner.

Before actual introductions, Jim realized who Michael was and I am not kidding you; he said “Hey, you’re the king of Romania”

I don’t remember what Michael said but he was gracious and polite. Jim turned to Princess Anne Antoinette Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma and likewise said “And you must be the Queen”.

I remember she patiently said “Well, I am the wife”.

Jim raved about the condition of the MA Jeep; launching into a surprisingly in-depth and reciprocal discussion with the King; the both of them talking mechanical and design gibberish while I made stumbling attempts at conversation with Princess Anne Antoinette Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma while eating a French made “Kit-Kat” bar. It is more than 20 years ago so I don’t remember if I offered her half.

After some time Jim and Michael’s chatting was interrupted by the clock. Michael and Princess Anne were due at some function in the next village. Jim and I were heading for the same place and Michael graciously offered us a ride in his Jeep. I demurred; stating that we had our vehicle here and it would be too inconvenient for them to have to bring us back to it. So we all parted ways; Jim and I continuing our own way.

The reason for this story is to illustrate one of those moments in my life where I let out a real Homer Simpson type “Doh!”

 I think of it often. Here I was offered a situation where; however briefly, I would have had a King for a chauffer…. and I let it go by.

Just let it go by…..


Tonight I am thinking about Stalingrad. You know; soon it’s going to be the 75th anniversary of that momentous event. I was thinking of a trip I took there a few years back.

For many years I was not particularly interested in the history of the eastern front. It seemed so depressing. Titanic battles that one could not get a handle on like the smaller scale campaigns of the west. I have read for years on forums and such; people’s dissections of the events in Russia; citing statistics, after-action reports and theories about what might have been if things had been done differently. All from the safety of a far-off place; far off both in geography and in time.

When you are there, none of that seems to matter. You are looking out over a vast and inhospitable land. Pondering the amazing resilience of two peoples: Of course the Russians and their infamous capacity for suffering; redeemed by their tenacity in the resistance of foreign invaders; not for the love of their nation but for the love of their people. And the resilience of the Germans; for that they could have come so far. I stood on the outskirts of that city on the edge of Asia and looked west. Fifteen hundred miles from the neatly paved streets with tidy houses and manicured gardens of Germany. Their army came all that way across the barren steppe. Driven by god knows what. Only to be swallowed up with all their “superior” technology and strategy like a wave absorbed into the sand of a beach.

Stalingrad seems to be the climax of all human suffering of the 20th century; or even of 20 centuries. My Wife and kid and I visited the Mamaev Kurgan; the location of the largest free standing statue in the world; “Mother Russia” stands holding a sword, exhorting the people onward in the fight against the fascist invaders. As we mounted the steps towards the statue, the path way is funneled through the building which houses the eternal flame; then up a spiral staircase to exit at the top which is the base of the hill that supports the statue. The eternal flame is in the center of a huge room lined with amber colored mosaic walls. Two guards stand motionless across from each other before the flame. Arrangements of flowers are accumulated in front of the large arm which holds the torch upward. Funeral music plays and not a word is spoken.

This room is the epicenter of the greatest tragedy in all of the human experience. The worst single episode of the worst situation that man could have created. Like a prelude to Armageddon; resulting in deaths without number. And the survivors reduced to indescribable misery.

The reasons for it fade away. The political and social rhetoric that spawned such an event becomes of little importance. One considers the idea that there is nothing in all creation; no philosophy; no society’s conflicting ideas of what is right and what is wrong; no control of acreage nor love of country, that could be worth the cost that was paid here. 

Consider man’s achievements; technical, artistic, social advances that have been made. A man on the moon, the Sauk vaccine and on-demand movies in every house; a city like Paris, Rome or New York where we can gawk at the architectural wonders; A free society where our children can sleep safe through the night and grow up to be whatever they want to be. It mean’s nothing there in that room with the torch. Nor does the greatest symphony ever composed; the most eloquent thoughts ever put to pen or most moving image ever painted onto canvas. It’s all reduced to nothing when balanced by the fact that thousands of years of our advancing “civilization” could not prevent the return to primeval degradation as it occurred here.

We are not what we think we are. As a species we have grown little and gained even less for it. We are still capable of the lowest and the worst. Stalingrad has proved it if nothing else has. And that room with the amber walls is the evidence. The greatest testimony against us.

As we moved our way through this mausoleum. I had to pause. I motioned the wife and boy to continue ahead of me so they wouldn’t see that I was choking on held-back tears.

In a nut-shell, that is the perspective I have gained by going there.


During WW2, My dad was with a rifle company of 137th regt, 35th div from Normandy to the Elbe. These are some of the things he told me.

   In St.Lo, his squad had to cross a street that was being covered by an MG42. The first guy ran across and got cut in half before he could make it. Next was Henderson, my dad’s friend. He made it about 5 yards and met the same fate. Dad remembered looking at him from his position and seeing his face turned towards dad. Eyes wide open, mouth open and beech-nut chew dribbling from his dead lips. Dad was next. He crossed himself (he was a good Catholic) and got up and ran. The bullets spit up gravel at his feet as he ran but he made it across. Then proceeded to guide mortar rounds onto the MG position until it was knocked out.

   Later they were in a wooded position and the company pulled out. Dad was the last to leave but when he tried getting out of his fox-hole, a snipers bullet nearly got him. The sniper had him zeroed in and he couldn’t leave his hole. After a couple of hours, he tried again. This time the sniper fired and the bullet cut the strap of his suspenders at his shoulder. He ducked back into his hole and played a day-long waiting game with the German. It was only after it got very dark that he was able to get out of that hole and catch up with his company.

   Sometime during the Normandy campaign, Dad’s company was off the line and were resting near where a bunch of Germans were standing in a row as prisoners. The German’s guards weren’t letting the Germans walk around or even sit. Dad remembers that several of them wore Black panzer wrap-around jackets. One of them had to take a dump but the guards wouldn’t let anybody move, much less walk out into the bushes. The German had to go really bad after a while. Dad remembered how some of the guys got a kick out of watching him squirm; this German dressed all in black with shiny medals on his chest. Finally the German couldn’t do anything but drop his drawers and squat right there in front of everybody.

  Abernathy was another guy in Dad’s company. Back in camp Rucker Alabama, Dad was sure it was Abernathy who had stolen a money-clip full of cash from Dad’s foot locker. He never got along with him after that. In Normandy, Abernathy was the first guy that Dad saw crack under the pressure. One day on the line, Abernathy’s face just went blank and he started jabbering unrecognizably and waving his rifle around. The guys had to jump on him and wrestle him to the ground. He disappeared from the company after that.

   The company was moving to another position and were told to stick to the trail that was marked because of the danger of mines. Everybody was walking single file. “Morris”; one of the guys in Dad’s platoon didn’t listen to the orders and strayed from the path walking in a parallel line with the others. He tripped an “S”-mine which bounced up out of the ground and exploded, dis-emboweling Morris. It took him 20 minutes to die and he never stopped screaming. Dad had one simple comment to make about the episode: “He didn’t do as he was told”. Dad was always a stickler for details later in life. People needed to do as they were told and not buck authority. I guess that had a lot to do with why he was like that.

   In Late July 1944 the U.S. First army launched Operation “Cobra” to break through the line just north of St Lo; (Which, until that point the Germans had been holding; keeping the US forces bottled up in hedgerow country). The break-out operation was preceded by a five-mile wide carpet-bombing mission by medium and heavy bombers of the 8th air-force. Dad remembers seeing them come over in waves and the GI’s got out of their foxholes and cheered this display of allied air might. That is; until they saw the doors open the the bombs falling; heading straight for them. On and off for the next hour the earth erupted in titanic explosions; many of which were falling short and landing among the GIs foxholes. Dad remembers burying himself as deep into his foxhole as possible; literally not knowing if he was still alive of dead. He later related it as an almost surreal experience; literally “out of this world”. As a side note: In June, 1994, I was staying in Normandy for several weeks during the 50th anniversary of the landings. I had researched the precise positions of the 2nd Battalion, 137th infantry regiment. Back in the woods off the highway northeast of St. Lo the ground was heavily cratered still. Poking around with a metal detector we hit on a large signal that seemed to get louder the deeper we dug. It was something really big. About 4 feet down my shovel hit the side of what turned out to be an unexploded 250 lb bomb. One of our French companions was a former French army engineer who had specialized in defusing unexploded bombs. He was able to ascertain that the fuse had not been set before it left the bomb-bay door of the aircraft. One of my French friends got it out of the hole and took it home with him…. It blew up about 4 years later but I don’t remember what caused it.

   I always got into conversations with Dad about the war but they never lasted long. Invariably, it would end up with him close to tears. I have more of his anecdotes but my one poor typing finger is starting to hurt now.


Some of my favorite quotes:

“The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold….If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”. – Harry Truman

“Whether you like it or not; History is on our side. We will bury you.”.-Nikita Khruschev

“Girls just wanna have fun”.- Cyndi Lauper