Friday, February 20, 2009


This afternoon I was listening to Radio Free Georgia and they were talking about the Military Industrial Complex. When they mentioned KBR building bases in Vietnam back in the 60's, it reminded me that this business of privatizing parts of the military is not new. While I was in the military, I only had to pull a few hours of KP and that was because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were supposed to do KP while in basic, but our T.I. or D.I. swapped with another flight and we pulled guard duty instead. When I got stuck with KP, I hadn't gotten my pass yet to leave the base so I was in the barracks dayroom watching TV on a Saturday night when a guy came in and rounded up everyone there to go do KP because either someone screwed up the scheduling or a bunch didn't show up for KP. So I got to spend the rest of that night working in the chow hall.

When I got to my first permanent base, everyone was supposed to do a week of KP when they first got there. I never had to because they had hired civilian workers to work in the chow hall. The only military working in the chow hall were those who specialty was food service. All the serving, cleaning pots and pans, peeling potatoes and the other shitty jobs were now done by civilians.

Like I said privatizing is not new. The other day I realized that as of the end of January I have been a free man for 39 years. If you think my saying I became a free man is like getting out of prison, there are many similarities between an enlistment and a prison sentence. (Sometimes the option was either join the military or go to jail, but not in my case.) They even gave me time off for good behavior. Altho the way it was phrased on my DD214 was, "Early Release Due To Budgetary Limitations"!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Games

Back in the day we used to make up funny ways of answering the phone. Like; "County Morgue, you stab'em, we'll slab'em" or "County Morgue, you kill'em, we'll chill'em". One day the phone in the shop rang and someone answered with; "Maggie's Whorehouse, we don't give a fuck for nothing". Turned out the caller was from the Squadron office and may even have been the Squadron Commander (memory escapes me at this time), whoever was very surprised but not as surprised as the one who answered the phone in that manner when he found out who was calling. Needless to say he hang up immediately. A minute or so later the phone rang again and someone else answered in the normal manner giving the name of the shop and name and rank of the person answering the phone. When asked who had answered the phone earlier, the answer was that the phone hadn't rang all morning until just now.

Sometimes someone would come back into the shop after being out of the shop to work on an airplane or for some other reason and when they walked in would be handed a note with a phone number on it and told to call it. Usually it would be a number for Dial-A-Prayer or something similar. (Yes we did have dial phones back them, rotary dial phones.)

New guys were called Jeeps for some reason that I never found out. Anywho, the green guys would have various tricks played on them. One day a guy came in the shop looking for 50 ft of flightline. (The flightline is where the airplanes were parked). He said he was told that we might have some. We told him that we did have some flightline but we couldn't just give it away, however we would be willing to trade for it. When asked what we wanted for 50 ft of flightline, we said we would trade for a bucket of propwash (the air moving behind the propeller.) The guy didn't even question why we wanted propwash when all our planes were jets! This guy didn't work directly on the planes and that may explain why he fell for the gag.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hamtramck West

One of the guys I knew at K.I. was Polish. He was happy being there because it was far enough away from Hamtramck (at the time a Polish neighborhood in Detroit) that he didn't hear many Polock jokes, just Finlander jokes. Every once in a while he would tell me about his scheme for becoming rich and tell me about it as he thought up new ideas. First he would develop plastic coated paperclips (he was slightly ahead of his time) and convince the government to replace the regular paperclips with plastic coated ones as they would save on wear and tear on the paperwork. After the government had filled the supply chain with plastic coated paperclips, he would introduce new and improved color-coded plastic coated paperclips. You could have red for Top Secret, yellow for Secret, and blue and green and other colors for other classifications. Of course the government would have to buy the all-new color-coded plastic coated paperclips even though they are fully stocked with the plain plastic coated paperclips. After making his fortune by selling the plastic coated paperclips (color-coded and otherwise) he would invest his money and develop Hamtramck West. He would buy up some desert land out west and build his town. At first he had trouble figuring out how to build basements in the sand, then he hit on the idea of using large shipping crates like they use for shipping household goods overseas. Just sink several of them together in the sand and roof them over and you have a ready made basement. He didn't plan on putting a house on the basements as Poles just lived in the basement anyway. (Jean Shepherd [he wrote A Christmas Story, the one that ran for 24 hours on TBS last Xmas] wrote a story about a Polish family living in the basement while the upstairs part of the house went unused. They even painted the furnace robin's egg blue.) I think the only industry he planned for his town was a brewery.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Playing A Game With Coke Bottles

Yesterday when The Old Lady mentioned her co-worker and the Mexican Coke and how she had never had coke in a glass bottle before, it reminded me of when cokes came in glass bottles in the coke machine (soda machine for some and pop machine for the rest). I don't remember doing this at K.I. (we might have done it, I just don't remember at this time) but I do remember playing a game with coke bottles while I was in Maine. Coke bottles used to have the city and state of the bottling plant molded into the bottom of the bottle. (No, it didn't say open other end!!) What we would do is decide before going over to the coke machine whether the loser would be the closest or farthest from Bangor. After everyone got a bottle of coke out of the machine, we would all look at the bottom to see where it was from. The loser would give everybody else their dime back.(Yes, they were only a dime back then.) At the most there would only be about 6 or 7 of us in the shop at any one time.

I guess I'm showing my age when I'm writing about coke machines having glass bottles in them, not cans or plastic bottles. So Be It!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


While I was at K.I. I bought a set of skis, boots and poles from another GI. But because I broke my leg that fall and didn't get my leg out of the cast until the middle of Jan. and then my ankle was too stiff after being immobile for months means I never got a chance use those skis. Also the doctor (the real one, the orthopedic specialist who operated, not the Air Force one) told me not to try skiing that winter. Anywho, before winter was over I got orders for Cape Cod (that's another story) and so I left the skis, boots and poles at the Ranch.

While I was gone putting in the rest of my hitch, someone broke in and stole my skis and boots. The poles were not in plain sight, so they missed them and the poles were all I had left of my ski outfit. I didn't feel like replacing the skis and I never did ski at a commercial ski hill.

I had been looking forward to skiing at a ski hill with lifts and groomed trails etc..... From the time I was a little kid I had been skiing, but it was on the hills around home and with old skis with binders made out of circles of rubber cut out of innertubes. The innertubes for car tires were kinda weak and you would need two or three on each foot.