I just got back from a week of visiting my relatives in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and Akron, Ohio. As my train pulled back into Lancaster, my old Navy Buddy, BT, was there to meet me. He stood in the waiting room like a chauffer with a big cardboard sign, “Duke of Earl.”
We spent the next two days joyfully skipping down Memory Lane. We were stationed in Adak, Alaska together and we managed to have some fun in that barren wasteland, which was so close to Russia, we could almost see Sarah Palin’s house.
Here’s a picture of the main work location for Communication Technicians on the island. BT and I worked in a more remote part of the island where we secretly tracked spy satellites to stay a step ahead of the Russians in the Cold War. The Poppy program was recently declassified so don’t go turning me in to Homeland Security for divulging government secrets.
There were no trees on Adak when GIs landed there in World War II, so they planted a few pine trees and jokingly placed a sign, “You are now entering and leaving Adak National Forest.” When I was there the tallest tree was about chest high. BT went back to Adak as a consultant in 2015 and took a picture. The trees had grown only two or three feet in the almost 50 years since we had been stationed there.
It wasn’t all work on Adak. We had our free time. It’s just that the weather didn’t make going outdoors very much fun. We did go out, though, anytime the weather allowed. We would joke that there were only two seasons on Adak, August and winter. Here’s a picture of a few of us in August as we were getting ready to cook a few hot dogs at our “Summer Resort,” a hut left over from World War II.
I’m the one behind Bruce McNutt in the red shirt. Notice that even though it was August we were still wearing coats and hats. BT told me that Bruce is no longer with us. He was killed in a car crash a few years ago. Rest in Peace, Bruce.
My second favorite photo from those days is this picture of BT on the right, apparently teaching somebody how to walk on water. They are actually floating on a n old wooden door we found.
Here’s my favorite picture of Adak. It’s kinda blurry and not an example of good photography, but it is my favorite because it was taken from the plane that got me off that island.
BT and I were also stationed together in Todendorf, Germany. I haven’t been able to find any pictures of us together back then, because those were the days before selfies became popular, and we were too busy having fun, but here’s a picture of us after the two days of reminiscing and drinking.
BT was hardly out the door, before I got an e-mail from the drummer of the band I was in 52 years ago, The Townsmen, A.K.A, The Heard. Victor got my e-mail from John Karolefski, who was the leader of the band and now writes a blog about amusing and interesting happenings in the world of groceries. It seems that Victor would be coming to Lancaster because he had a booth at the Long’s Park Art Festival, so we made plans to meet there.
Here’s a picture of the World-Famous Townsmen as we appeared back then.
John, Earl, Victor, Dennis, and Joey – The Townsmen. A.K.A. The Heard
Here’s a recent picture of John, as he appears in his Grocery blog.
Here’s the picture Victor and I took at the Art Festival.
Back when we were in the band, Victor was the quiet one. That has changed. LOL. He cracked a bunch of jokes and gave me some good laughs about the old days. He remembered the songs we played and how we stretched the good ones out, because we didn’t play too many songs well. I remembered the time we played at Staten Island Community College as The Heard. It turned out that there was a Texas punk rock/grunge/garage band called The Heard and they actually had a record. When we got there, we saw posters up all over the campus promoting The Heard. So, all night, the huge, rowdy, grunge-loving crowd kept demanding to hear “our hit.” We never heard of the Texas Heard, and we certainly didn’t know their hit. So, we played our asses off doing 15-minute versions of Johnny B Goode and The House of the Rising Sun, just hoping to entertain the audience enough to not want to kill us.
Here’s a link to a video by The Heard, the ones from Texas, the ones who had a record that we never heard of.
These past two weeks have been full of great memories of the past, with family and friends. Now it’s time to go out and make some more memories to look back upon fondly with friends in years to come.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,