Okinawa – June 1945

Excellent blogging site for
military history. Check it out…

Pacific Paratrooper

Last picture ever taken of Lt.Gen. Buckner, the day before he died

By 10 June, the Marines had captured Yuza Hill.  The 10th US Army suffered severe casualties before they and the USMC advanced to Kunishi Ridge, the western anchor of the Japanese defense; a massive fortress.

Gen. Buckner had been sending messages to Gen. Ushijima, urging him to surrender.  So, when over a dozen Japanese wearing white hats appeared, the Marines assumed they were surrendering and they ceased operations.  Shortly after the enemy soldiers ran, a mortar barrage began.

By morning, the Americans had a foothold on the ridge, but reinforcements were cut down when they tried to advance.  Nine tanks were used to deliver 54 fresh men and supplies, but returned with 22 wounded.  As the battle for Kunishi raged on, the tanks opened a road to continue supplying the Americans.

Okinawa

By 16 June, the US 96th…

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To Beard or Not To Beard

“He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.”

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

I had them all; sideburns in the 60s, a moustache in the 70s, a beard in the 80s. And why not? The paucity of hair on my head offered few options for style change, but the face was another matter. I could grow it there, and I did.

Beard

The sideburns were fun as an accessory to my bell bottom pants in the late 60s. I took a moustache into the Army in the early 70s, but shaved it off when a corporal ‘advised’ me of ‘the policy’ on facial hair, none 1 inch above the lip or 1 inch below the nose. Of course, there was no policy, there was harassment. but who was I, a raw recruit, to argue?

The beard came last in the 80s, as a means to draw attention away from the rapidly disappearing hairline. It seemed to work, but after ten years, as the gray dominated, I shaved it off. Wow, I looked like a kid, again. Have you ever noticed that about men who shave off their beards, they look more youthful?

Now, here it is, about three decades later, and beards are in vogue, again, but with a twist. Men are not growing full beards, yet they aren’t shaving regularly, either. The two, three or four-day growth look is the rage.

Stubble 2

A suit and tie, slacks and open collar dress shirt, jeans and t-shirt, flannels, the unshaven look goes well with them all. Like any new fashion, this ‘stubble’ look took some getting used to, but it’s here, and it’s cool (is ‘cool’ used anymore?).

Yes,  I’ve tried it and I like it. I don’t like beards on high schoolers, it seems a bit precocious. But I do like the unshaven look on adult men. Of course, I’m retired, so I’d probably do it regardless of fashion. But now I have an excuse to leave the razor on the shelf. And just to be more daring, I might try those skinny pants that are fashionable. Age be damned, I’m going for it, turning back the clock.  Who’s with me?

There was an old man with a beard, who said: ‘It is just as I feared! Two owls and a hen, four larks and a wren have all built their nests in my beard.

Edward Lear

Steve

August 2018
stephen.bottcher@gmail.com
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The Bar Chronicles: #18, ‘It Took 18 Beer Nights, But We Still Get Looks’

Bar Night 2

As ‘bar flies’ go, our group is not your ordinary ‘flies’.  Going out for a beer, or two, every five or six weeks is not what bonafide ‘flies’ do.  But, when the time rolls around for us to have a night out and ‘howl at the moon’, there’s no limit to our enthusiasm, ‘flies’ or not. And Caverly’s Irish Pub, a corner bar in Rochester’s ‘Southwedge’, is our favorite.

The real ‘bar flies’ already had their elbows ‘dug’ in and ‘locked’ onto the bar when we arrived,  guffawing the evening away with idle chatter, each beer bringing more guffaws and louder chatter. Not our ‘cup of tea’, we’re here for some sophisticated and sober conversation. Believe me!

The five of us walked our beers to the round table by the screened front door, a spot that might offer a rare breeze on a humid July evening,  and allow us to greet the ‘bar dog’ when it ambled in, and it always did.

As is customary, our evening began with a toast to new and lasting friendships. Coincidentally, a new friend, another neighbor, joined us this evening, passing our simple standards of being retired and looking for idle conversation while enjoying a beer with friends.

Friendship was our theme tonight, as we quaffed beers and recalled what Bruce Springsteen coined, ‘the glory days’ of working, hanging out and growing up with others our age whom we called our best friends. And when ‘old men’ talk about those times, the eyes light up, the voices come alive, and the enthusiasm needle moves off the charts. Tonight was no exception.

As a kid laboring in Connecticut tobacco fields, or a farmboy building a speedboat in a cellar of his New York farmhouse, or a band of boys running the streets of a coal mining town in eastern Pennsylvania, our stories carried us back to a simpler time. The names weren’t recalled easily and the smiles belied the hardships of those days, but as it always does, our memory filter remembers those earlier times with buddies as the best of times. Tobacco still grows in Connecticut, the boat sank, was salvaged, then disappeared with time, and the boys of eastern Pennsylvania abandoned the hard life streets of coal towns for greener pastures.

The Caverly barmaid surprised us with a serving of blueberry scones while feigning regret that there wasn’t a bachelor among our good looking group. Nevertheless, we soaked up the flatter willingly and washed down the scones with the last of our beer, before strolling to the car, laughing that it took 18 ‘beer nights’ before someone hit on us. Is that a record of sorts?

Outside, some motorcyclists volunteered their bikes for a photo shot but we declined, politely, of course, and cautioned them about the barmaid. But who knows, maybe they’re interested. It’ll make a fine story one day, when they’re having their own ‘glory days’ conversation…

#18

“There is only one thing better then making a new friend, And that’s keeping an old one”   Elmer G Leterman

Steve
July 2018
stephen.bottcher@gmail.com

“Why? Why? Why?…”

BANG!

I thought I’d been shot.

My wife came running and was startled to find me flat on my back, expecting the chalk police to arrive any second to outline my perimeter on the hot blacktop and wrap our house with yellow ‘crime scene’ tape.

“What happened”, she asked, with a bit of worry in her voice.

“I misread the ‘psi’ on the tire and over inflated the damn thing, it blew itself to smithereens”. Sometimes, I impress myself with how quickly I can answer her deposition-like questions, but she saw right through me this time, as I tried to misplace the blame on the tire, itself.

wheelbarrow 1

‘How could you be so careless (you nincompoop)’? Wow, that hurt more than the ‘shot’.

She didn’t actually call me a nincompoop, but after decades of marriage, a husband knows his better half’s thoughts. Her eyes spoke ‘Nincompoop’‘.

However, it seemed a good time to employ a favorite troubleshooting tool of quality control personnel, the ‘5 Why’. State the issue, then ask a series of ‘why’ questions that lead to the root cause.  Let’s try it…

My wheelbarrow tire blew apart.  Why?

I over inflated it. Why?

I misread the psi number on the sidewall. Why?

I didn’t look at it carefully. Why?

Because I’m an old guy with bony knees and if I get down on the ground to look closely, then I may not get up again. Why?

It’s Life!

There, it works, doesn’t it. I seemed to have discovered the irrefutable and undeniable root cause of the tire explosion and deafening sound, Life, and I’m not sure there’s a ‘corrective action’. More ‘Whys’ might help, but Life is very challenging. Agree?

Fortunately, no injuries were sustained other than a momentary loss of senses, a temporary deafness and total embarrassment.

Have you ever crossed paths with ‘carelessness’? A friend cut a live electrical wire at home with nary a tickle. A brother-in-law used an electric hedge clipper to trim fingernails and only suffered 32 stitches. ‘Lady Luck’ was on their side this time. Or a Guardian Angel!

Unlike cats, we have 1 Life, so let’s be careful with it, not careless. And if you are the latter, try asking yourself, ‘Why?’. Ask it as many times as necessary to find the root cause of your ‘nincompoopness’. And, yes, while she may not say it, you’ll know she’s thinking it. Just look at her eyes…the ones that have been watching your faux pas for years.

Steve
July 2018
srbottch.com

To husbands, everywhere, but especially Steve P and Gary C for ‘giving’ me a story!  Be careful!

The Garden and The Gardener

Gardening is in full swing now so I thought I’d repost this personal story from a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy it.

S'amusing

garden 1“It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy…”, lyricized the song writer George Gershwin. He must not have been a gardener.

Up and down our Meadowbrook streets, summer gardens are coming into full bloom and it’s not because the gardeners are taking it easy. Soiled fingernails, calloused knees and aching muscles are testimony to the truism that gardeners love getting down and dirty.

My wife is a passionate gardener, one of many in our floral neighborhood. She does her part to make our parcel of land attractive, adding plants to every corner and contour where grass doesn’t grow, enhancing the beauty of our surroundings.

Fanciful colors dot our landscape: passionate pinks, plum purples, baby blues, ravenous reds and a potpourri of whites. Whimsical names like quick fire, limelight, pink diamonds, twist and shout and pinky winky, fill the pages of her ‘green thumb’ notebook.

From spring to fall, there is constant…

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The Planting

The tall Norway maple provided welcome shade onto our ‘hill’ garden, where we were preparing a spot for yet another hydrangea, the thirtieth, or so, in this corner of our backyard.

fLOWERS 4

Myself, I’m a reluctant gardener, so much so that I dare even call myself a gardener. However, my wife is passionate about her plants, so I help and we work the land together, she a bonafide ‘green thumb’ and me, just a ‘plain’ thumb. Quite honestly, I enjoy our hydrangea gardens. A walk among the changing flora of our mature gardens is a relaxing respite at day’s end.

The planting process is simple for our gardens: select the plant, choose a location, decide on composition (positioning), and, finally, dig the hole . All important decisions are made by my wife, the real gardener, my role comes in at the end, I’m the digger. There is no mental stress in digging, just physical, hence, the welcome cover of shade from the hot sun.

Excavating our soil is no easy task, though, it’s clay, dense and heavy, once used in the local manufacturing of bricks*. To complicate the dig, the spot we refer to as ‘the hill’ once was occupied by a tall silver maple tree. It’s only a ‘hill’ because the thick, woody roots of that tree are still there, like a subterranean maze, pushing up the ground. They criss-cross beneath the soil, challenging me to find a spot for the perfect hole. It’s a trial and error process, but I find one.

The hole must be deep and wide enough to accept an ample amount of cow manure, making a healthy bed, and the roots of the plant must be relieved, or untangled, before planting to allow them to grow freely, not be strangled. My wife cuts them with a garden knife, around the perimeter and bottom.

The plant is placed in the hole, manure is packed around it and some fine mulch (leaf is our favorite) laid atop. A good watering follows and continues for days to assure a good start.

If we’ve done it right, then we wait and our patience will be rewarded with beautiful flowers that have made the hydrangea a favorite of gardeners, reluctant gardeners, too. With such fancy names as Pinky Winky, Quick Fire, Twist n Shout, the colorful petals, from soft white to blushing pinks and blues, adorn our yard from summer to fall.

Gardeners love their hobby. My wife glows. Me? I find the benefit of gardening is teaching me patience, learning to wait for beautiful results…and then to enjoy some much needed therapy with a walk among the plants.

FLOWERS 5   IMG_0555  IMG_0160

Steve
Srbottch.Com
June ‘18

To my wife, a green thumb gardener

* http://www.historicbrighton.org/BrightonBrick/yards.html