Speaking Truth

In attempts to be polite, I will stifle
Many of beliefs and ideas,
Fearful of hurting  another’s’ feelings
When I speak truthfully.

Slowly, I am learning –
Much trial and error on my part,
It is possible to be honest
Without being mean or rude.

How else can I let someone know how I feel?
And others let me know who they are?

Censoring thoughts cuts us off,
Expressing the true self cannot hurt.
Unless I speak the truth,
No bad idea challenged,
No good belief shared.

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Pack Mules Leaving Crescent City

At one point, Crescent City was the center for supplies for the inland mines. Pack trains were commonplace, with some consisting of 200 animals at once. They generally carried two and a half tons of bacon, flour, whiskey, sugar, coffee, saleratus (a precursor to baking soda,) matches, whale oil, lard, salt, fry pans and pans, and various tools and hardware, making life possible in the remote camps, included Altaville, Sailor Diggings and Althouse.

From the beginning, Crescent City’s recognized destiny was to supply the mining camps of Southern Oregon and what is now Siskiyou and Del Norte counties, making Crescent City the most important port between San Francisco and the Columbia River in the 1850s. Pack trains continued to supply the camps and the miners of the middle Klamath and eastern Del Norte County for many years by means of the trail which went over Howland Hill, east of Crescent City, crossing Mill Creek, and down the ridge south of that area.

Bruce Connor, 1958-2013

bruce connor

Bruce Connor passed away October 17th, 2013, in Medford, Oregon. Born April 30th, 1958, and raised in Smith River, he attended Smith River Elementary and Del Norte High School, graduating in 1976.

As a Warrior, he played football and wrestled throughout his high school career, earning a white star his senior year. Bruce also attended College of the Siskiyous.

He had several jobs over the years including oil rigger, logger and carpenter. Bruce worked as a carpenter, at Pelican Bay State Prison for the last 20 years.

He loved the outdoors, enjoying camping, hunting, fishing and abalone diving. Bruce was 55-years-old.

In lieu of flowers, donations should to be made to the Del Norte Scholarship fund in Bruce’s memory.

The Secret of Point St. George

Garcia, Newman, Wyatt, 1943

Point St. George, near Crescent City, not only has a long history, but a secret history, too. During World War II, the property housed a group of cryptographers, people who converted messages from a code to plain text, and a highly specialized direction finder radio.

It was Intercept Station T, on Radio Road. Before the cryptographers moved in during the early 1940s, the U.S. Coast Guard owned the property.

The Navy had tested a direction finder radio at the Point St. George location in March 1935 and determined that radios should be working within a year. Called a DP/DF radio, the unit was located in the building’s penthouse.

Direction finder radios are used for two reasons: helping a lost vessel figure out where it is or locating an enemy vessel by intercepting its radio signals and determining its position so it could be defended against. The Point St. George property was one of a network of nine fixed and 12 portable stations.

Its position was a fixed station. Others included Corregidor, Guam, Oahu, Adak, Alaska, Wahiawa, Hawaii, Imperial Beach, Guam and the Farralon Islands.

Their locations were classified until 1992.

Before its radio was placed in the penthouse, the cryptographers wanted it in a different location, one that was lower and closer to the land’s edge. Their first choice was denied to them because the U.S. Department of Lighthouses refused to allow the radio  on its land.

The cryptographers solved that problem by putting the unit on skids so they could easily move it off the property if someone spotted it. This unit in the redwood water tank that remains on a platform seven feet above the ground.

The 10-acres of property was owned by the McNamara family. The Navy wanted to buy it for $2,300, but the McNamara’s asked for $300 per acre.

But because the war was winding down at that point, the offer was withdrawn.

The Navy decided April 15th, 1944 to end operations there and transfer its staff and equipment elsewhere. It returned the property to the Coast Guard on June 1st that year. After the Coast Guard abandoned the property, professional painter William Newman purchased it.

Dr. Michael Mavris later bought the building for an office and raised his family there.

By a Hair

A couple of days after Dad died my step-mom, sister and I went to Foster and Peterings Funeral Home in Muskogee for visitation. For some reason I went into the chapel, first to see him laid out in the casket and suit we’d selected the day before.

It felt strange and I knew what to expect. However, still unable to fully grasp Dad was gone, I stood there looking, waiting to see some sort of sign of life.

Nothing.

Then as ashamed as I am to admit it, I reached over and gently rapped three times on his forehead. I recognized the hollow sound of a non-functioning brain and felt the chill of his icy skin.

He was dead and I had to accept it.

Then I noticed something that I had seen often as a child; the hair. It was a single, short strand that protruded from the bulb of the old man’s snout.

The funeral home technician’s had left it there, though they has applied a touch too much pink wax to his lips. I bent down and looked closer at the hair, contemplating whether to pull it or not.

That’s when I recalled a long ago memory of the day I first saw it plucked. Deirdre, who was about four-years-old, was sitting on his lap as he read the evening paper.

“Do you know,” she began, “you have a hair sticking out of the top of your nose?”

It was quite lengthy at the time, having not been trimmed in some time. Dad crossed his eyes to look at her finger as she flicked it back and forth.

“Yes I do,” he answered, “but leave it…”

Too late, Deirdre pinched it between her thumb and forefinger and yanked. Dad hollered in pain as he quickly put her off his lap.

He got up rubbing his nose and disappeared down the hallway. The closing of the bathroom door and sound of the lock clicking into place, soon followed.

There was an odd silence for a few second, followed by the laughter of myself and Mom, and Deirdre’s question, “What?”

It was at that moment, with this memory fresh in my mind, I decided not to pull the hair from the top of his nose.

Rug

At one point I used to write what I’ve always called ‘Maverick Poetry.” I learned later it is better known as ‘free-verse.’ However ‘maverick’ sound so much more manly.

This afternoon, I awoke with a Kerouac quote swimming between my ears. Within ten-minutes I had ‘Rug,’ penciled out.

“If you own a rug,” Jack Kerouac wrote, “You own too much.”
Not a Kerouac fan? Me either.
But I am partial to hardwood floors.
No — I like Chuck. Charles Bukowski.
Institutionally educated, self taught, self-destroying.
Rough around the edges, raw where I ain’t.
Growing up – it was dinner at the table –  television dessert:
Hee-Haw, Disney, Roller Derby Queens.
Cartoons were for Saturday’s only.
Three channels and a midnight sign-offs.
Losing my innocence along the way
A criminal, without criminal intent. Childhood rebellion.
Whippings with a self-found switch, if not — the razor-strop.
Rotory phones and party lines, when operators really did exist.
There were school times and bed times. Don’t dare miss either.
One began with a pledge, the other ended on a prayer.
A Child of God, riding in pickup beds, playing in dirt, and pump action BB guns,
Riding bicycles without helmets, playing baseball the same way too.
Childhood treasures of a simple life. Long days in the sun and “Don’t forget your hat!”
Recording the Top-40 radio station. Cassettes filled with my favorite tunes.
And playing in the creek, skinny-dipping when I thought: “No one’s looking.”
Jus’ think – How many no one’s there are in the world?
Yes, a Child of God, if only a misguided child.
Now, hot coffee on cold winter morns,
Ripe tomatoes, fresh from the Summer’s garden.
So forget what others might tell you,
Keep walking, take your fill, jus’ leave the rest.
Remember a knapsack will crush, if it’s too heavy.
The older stuff last longer – at least in memory.
Suddenly though, I’m aware – I’m ‘older stuff.’
Remember to write it all down.
Forget about the rug.

Kicked in the Nuts

“Fuck, God!” I heard myself angrily shout, “Did you have to kick me in the nuts like this?”

It had been a stressful work week. Tired from working the overnight shift, I went to the radio station, bitching about all the shit I had to get done and complaining about how I wasn’t sure if I could carry out what the boss wanted.

Then I heard a schoolmate had committed suicide, and I realized quickly what I was going through was nothing. Things were not that bad after all.

pam kimball

I sat in my truck for at least 15 minutes after getting home, crying for my friend’s death. Then I went inside and cried some more, ashamed that I am so self-centered when there are others needing help so badly.

“I didn’t kick you in the nuts,” the Lord responded somewhere deep in my conscience, “I simply used a horrible situation that I had no control over, to get your attention.”