Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Tribute to Keith

On Sunday, we drove to Mobile to visit the USS Alabama.  
It was a very special time.
For several years, my mother had a gentleman friend, Keith Smith.
My mother always describes him as a 'fine man.'
During World War II, his job was mechanic/navigator/observer in an amphibious, observation plane, catapult launched from the battleship Alabama.
Sitting in the second seat of that plane, he developed a repertoire of stories that would fill thousands of hours.  In many ways, it defined the man he was to be.
We found his name among the hundreds who served aboard the Alabama during the war.
Later, we found one of the planes on display in the pavilion.
The seat right above #3 would have been Keith's seat.

Keith has since passed away, but he is remembered fondly by my family.

I hope he knows we were there and the respect we have for him and his service.
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Saturday at the Museum

On Saturday, we went to the Pensacola Naval Air Musueum.  A lot of cameras were in action taking pictures of airplanes and helicopters and I took my share.
However, the following collages are my favorites:

The Cubi Bar was originally located at Cubi Point Naval Air Station, adjacent to Subic Bay Navy Base in the Philippines.

Stanley remembers going there during the Vietnam War.

It has since been reconstructed at the Pensacola Naval Air Museum where it is still serving drinks to thirsty visitors.

My second favorite is a collection of art work I found on 
various air craft.  
What a sense of humor these guys have.

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Strolling and Posing on Campus

There isn't much to say about this collage except that Jesse had a grand time holding court.  
He had a story about every building.

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Goofing Around

At last . . . time to relax and goof around!

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He's been winged!

After the ceremony, there was more ritual.  During the reception, each new pilot claimed a mug inscribed with his/her name and his number in the tally of pilot trained at Whiting Field in Pensacola FL.  
Then with mugs in hand, there was a ritual toast.
And then, there was a yet another encouraging speaker.
Did I mention that this was an event rich in ritual?

The Winging

This is what we went for:


Finally, Stanley pinned on the wings!  We all got a hug and it was time to celebrate!

Well, not really . . . there were 24 more after Jesse!
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Blessing of the Wings

 First thing Friday morning was the Blessing of the Wings.  Although the new pilots didn't get to wear the wings, they did get to hold them while the priest blessed them with Holy Water.  The chaplain read Scripture and led prayer.  We sang a hymn I had never heard before.  No matter . . . there were enough service men in the congregation who knew it by heart to carry the day. 
A family portrait and we were done for the morning.

Left to Right:  Me, Sean, Dan, Helen, Stanley, Jesse, Stanley, Kathleen, Scott, Barb.
Stepmom, Brother, Stepdad, Grandmother, Father, The Honoree, Uncle, Mother, Brother, Aunt

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Kathleen, Dan, and Sean all arrived late Wednesday night, and everyone was ready for action on Thursday morning.  

First, Jesse took us to the field where the student pilots practice their maneuvers.  As you can see, it was still cold.  In fact, it was cold during our entire time in Pensacola.  Sean and Scott seemed to be practicing their Civil War faces, Jesse is lecturing and Dan and Kathleen just seemed pleased with the whole situation.
Thursday afternoon was the Soft Patch Ceremony.  The Velcro patches were distributed in an informal ritual that gave the instructors an opportunity to tell funny stories about the students and the students had an opportunity to thank the instructors for keeping them alive during their first few times in the air.
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Tripping to Florida - Part 3

 Wednesday - We stayed on the road closest to the ocean most of the morning, taking the ferry from Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan and on to Pensacola arriving there about 1:00pm.

We picked Scott up at the airport, met Jesse, had lunch and checked into the Q.  I was expecting bunk beds and a hot plate.  Instead, we had a lush one bedroom apartment.  Imagine my surprise.  We had a quick tour of the base, watched the memorial service in Tucson and read for a while.
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Triipping to Florida - Part 2

Tuesday - We traveled down to St. Martinville for an Acadian history lesson.  We walked the entire town,  visited the memorial, and had crawfish over rice at the Petit Paris Cafe. 

St. Martin's Square

St. Martin's Church

A tribute to Longfellow and his famous Evangeline

The Acadians who first settled the area

Instead of returning to -10 directly, we followed a maze of country roads and got back to the interstate right by the Atchafalaya 
Welcome Center.  After following rivers, creeks, swamps and levees for miles we were fascinated by the wealth of material at the center.  On down to Bay St. Louis just as it was too dark to see the scenery.  
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Tripping to Florida - Part 1

Friday - We got off to a leisurely start and drove up Hwy 77 stopping at Refugio TX for lunch.   What is the history of this place with all its ruined mansions?   On toward Houston, taking the route that would put us closest to the gulf.  We spent the night at Port Lavaca as close to the water as we could get.

Saturday - Although it was far too cold to really enjoy the coast, we did find one little spot that needs further review, Palacios TX.  We got to Ken and Ivy's shortly after lunch.  As always, we had a delightful time with them.  They always make us feel right at home and they know all the good places to go. 

Monday - It was cold, but we bundled up and took off through the frozen marsh as far as Breaux Bridge, LA.  Located on the banks of Bayou Teche, the Cajun influence could not have been much thicker; the people were friendly, friendly, friendly; the little town was charming; and the food was wonderful. 

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In the Garden - Three Kings Day

 Since we are leaving tomorrow, I went looking in the garden for something to share.
There is almost always something blooming at Perote, but the pickings are pretty slim today.

Just when I thought I had been skunked, I spotted this brave aloe shooting up its fire-cracker red blooms.  

Had I been a bit quicker, I could have captured the hummingbird that was checking the sugar content.  It must not have been high enough because he didn't return although I patiently waited.

Tomorrow is Three Kings Day! 
Here in Mexico, many children will receive their gifts tomorrow - not from Santa, but from the Magi.

I hope you all get a shoe full of goodies!

If not, then accept this example of desert glory as my gift to you!
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Monday, January 3, 2011

January Perote Sunset

Often, the clouds disappear as the sun sets, but on this particular evening, they stuck around and the sun lit them up in spectacular fashion.
Just pretty pictures to share!

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