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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Dupont Gunslinger

By Harold Ratzburg

I'd guess that by now, anybody who knows me, knows that I have been a "gun nut" (also known as a "Collector") for all of my life. How that fascination came about is anybody's guess, but there it is and I just have to live with it.

My first memories of a gun comes about in the first and second grades of Maple Valley Grade School in Dupont township.. With imagination of a kid, we kids found that you could fashion a gun of sorts out of a straight stem out of a lilac bush, (of which there were plenty around the school at that time) about seven inches long. What you had to do then was break the stem about three inches from the heavy end into a 90 degree angle and then peel the bark down at the angle and the bark would make a passable trigger guard. That left a barrel about four inches long. Then, armed with this formidable weapon, and if you could holler "Bang, you're dead" first --and loud enough, you could win the schoolyard shoot outs or nail those pesky Redskins hiding out behind the lilac bushes.

As time went on, I got bigger and more trustworthy with a sharp instruments and Dad got me a jack knife down in town at the hardware store. The next step up in the arms department was guns whittled out of cedar shingles. A coping saw helped a lot also, for cutting around the curves of the handle. Shingles were straight grained and easy to whittle and when finished, they didn't break too easy, With a shingle nail for a trigger it made a passable sidearm. You hadda carry it stuck in your belt but a quick draw was still possible.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Everyone Is Selling Something

by  June T. Bassemir

 "It isn't always easy."

There was no written test. as I recall, l when I applied for a job in the upscale and successful Hempstead, L. I.  department store called Arnold Constable.   It was just an interview with one of the men in the employment office who accepted my youthful good looks, my sincerity and my recently earned H. S. diploma.  It was the largest branch of the parent company based in Brooklyn, NY and was responsible for supplying the needs of a starved war weary fleet of customers.  Thus began my selling career which has carried me through a life time of selling everything under the sun except perhaps a four mastered schooner.  

I joined the sales force of Arnold Constable only a week or so after graduation in June and was assigned to "Miss Johnson"; a stately lady of probably 50 yrs., leaning more on the tailored side of femininity than not.  As the manager of the Nylon and Silk stocking department, she was a pro who had all the right answers when complaints came in to her from irate customers who carried with them, their recently bought stockings that had "run" after just one wearing.  She politely listened to their complaints but then as the damaged goods sat limply on the counter between them, she would back away refusing to handle such, saying she couldn't touch them because they hadn't been washed.  Of course, the customer was urged to go back home and wash them and if they had the temerity to come back the next day or soon after and continue their complaint with Miss Johnson, she would argue that the run was probably due to being mishandled during the washing process.  Ahhh yes, she had all the answers!  Rarely did I ever see the customer win the argument of stockings that had failed to satisfy after the first wearing.  Miss Johnson was a valuable employee largely responsible for the Arnold Constable Department store lasting on the corner of  Fulton and Franklin for as long as they did.  


Monday, May 9, 2016

I never Thought I'd need a Phone Patch (Part 2)

   (We are now going from the factual to the imaginary. Either way can be interesting.)

I took a breath before speaking.  “I – I was looking for João.”.

“It’s said like ‘João,’” he replied.

“OK, well I need to speak with him.”

“OK, well you need to tell me which João you would like to speak with.”

“The one whose father is named Gustavo.”

There was no response, but Trini Lopez finished up his song on the jukebox.

I persisted.  “The João whose Aunt Camila lives on the Upper West Side.  The one whose father asked me if his son had a package for—“

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Raspy interjected.  “Hold on and I’ll get him.”

Soon my QSO partner picked up the phone.  “Hey, Dave, thanks for calling.”

“I have a message from your father, Gustavo,” I said.  “He said you should go to your Aunt Camila’s apartment on the Upper West Side and wait for him to call.”

“I’m there,” said the newly minted antenna expert. “I mean she lives upstairs over Julio’s”

“OK, well you have a good evening, João.  They’re beginning to roll the sidewalks up here in Broome County, so I’ll say 73 and hope to work you again on 20 meters.”

“Dave, did my father mention anything about a package?”

“Do you mean the present for your mother?”

”Yeah.  Yeah, that’s it.”

“He asked if you had mentioned a box to me when we were on the air.”

“Si, yeah.”

“Is it a box you’re bringing back to Rio?


“Yes, didn’t  you say your father was in Rio?  In Brazil?”

“He’s from there, but now he lives in San Juan.  You know, Puerto Rico.”

“That’s probably why my signal was 58 on his gear,” I said.

“Did he give his call as KP4LMN, Dave?”

“No, I worked PY2HIJ.  He was calling you and I assumed it was your father. I sorry I don’t know my country prefixes very well.”

There was a moment of silence on the line.

Finally, João spoke.

“I don’t think that was my father, Dave.”

I wasn’t exactly speechless, but I could think of nothing I wanted to say.

“OK,” was all I could think of.

“Dave, I’m going to go upstairs now to Aunt Camilla’s.  If you’ll be around the house tonight, give me your phone number and I’ll call you later.”

 I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay involved, but my curiosity won the battle.

To Be Continued.

copyright 2016, David Griffin

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I never Though I'd need a Phone Patch (Part 1)

by David Griffin, N2CHi 
I never anticipated the need for a phone patch (maybe like not anticipating the need for a fire extinguisher) so I didn't have the equipment in place  the evening  a young man replied to my ssb CQ on 20 meters (this was 1970,) said he was from Brazil, was now in New York City (then about 150 air miles from me,)  had planned to meet his father on a 20 meter sched between NY City and Rio de Janeiro,  but realized his cousin's  transceiver was not going to make the hop.  He gave me the frequency,  the time and his phone number in case his father had a messsage back to him.  I explained to him that if I could contact his father, he should be able to, because I was using only an HW 32 barefoot.  I don't think the transceiver put out even 100 watts.  I was loading into a 40 meter dipole with no antenna tuner, but with that setup I had worked a few South and Latin American countries and even Germany on ssb.  For all I know my subharmonic on the 6200 KHz marine radio channels  (eventually confirmed by an ARRL OO) drove some ship at sea into an iceberg in the North Atlanatic.  But what the hell, I was working DX.

João explained to me that his cousin's radio was battery powered and they were on the roof of an apartment house in the Bronx, having made a temporary antenna from zip cord, obtained by snipping all the cords from his cousin's lamps,  stringing them together and throwing the assemblage off the roof to hang down the south side of the building.  He said  this contact with me showed it to be a superior performer compared to an earlier antenna he'd made from empty cans of Colt 45.

Twenty minutes later I met his Dad, Gustavo on 14.3 something or other.  I heard him calling his son's call letters on frequency and when I answered him he was surprised.  He gave me a 58.  He was 59 to me and I gave him the message from João.  And yes, he had a message, if I would be so kind to pass it along to the young man.  "Tell him," said Gustavo, "he is to go to his Aunt Camila's apartment on Manhattan's upper West Side and wait there for a telephone call from me."

"Be happy to oblige, Gustavo," I replied.
"Did João happen to mention," continued Gustavo, "anything about a present for his Mother?"
"No, he didn't," I said, growing suspicious.
"Oh, well," said the man, "I guess I'll just have to ask him when I call Camila's later."

We bid each other 73 after he thanked me profusely for helping "our family."

I went back down the frequency on which I had QSO'd with João  and called him, but to no avail. I guessed I would probably call him.

We didn't have phones all over the house back in those days, nor of course cell phones in our pocket.  I doubt anyone in my neighborhood could have conceived of the need for standing by for a call from a telemarketer so we could swear at them while sitting in the bathroom.  So I left my cellar  shack near the octopus furnace and went upstairs to the kitchen in the little house where our only phone hung on the wall near the table. (I had promised my wife a Princess extension phone in our 10 by 13 "master" bedroom when I got my next raise.  She was still upset I'd spent money on the HW-32 kit.  "And it came all in PIECES," she said.)  I looked at the phone and wondered how deep I might be into this if it was not what it appeared to be on the surface.  When the FBI showed up at midnight my neighbors would be aghast, but more importantly if my employer found out I might be out of a job as a potential security risk.  (This was 1970.)

Sighing, I dialed the number João had given me.

"Julio's,"  said a raspy voice, barely making it above the juke box and the sounds of glasses clinking.

Check Back for the ending.  In a couple of hours, in a couple of days.  Who knows?     -  Dave

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Line 59, Panel 18E Calls to Me

Memories of a life cut short
by Dick Naegele,
copyright 2011

Prior to the Vietnam war, my life was peaceful and serene living in Newport, NY. Newport is a small rural village, nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains of Central NY state. We moved there when I was going into the junior year in high school. My parents didn't want us kids growing up in the Utica NY and suburb's school systems,and they had found a wonderful old house with brook babbling through the backyard and mature trees shading the entire property.

I was devastated by the very thought of moving to “hicktown USA” and leaving all of my friends. There were no shopping centers, no theaters, and no city buses to travel around on.

It was a cold fall morning when an open stake rack truck backed into our driveway. It was no moving van by any stretch of the imagination. The truck's owner had been recommended by the person my parents purchased the house from, who was also the local pharmacy owner. It seems that the truck's owner was a local dairy farmer, and part time school bus driver, whose sideline was local freight delivery, as well as being the main source of deliveries from the local feed store.

I watched as two muscular farm boys loaded our furniture and household goods onto the truck, and covered it with a hay tarp. They were dressed in jeans and work boots. I was soon to learn that jeans and work shoes or sensible loafers were the norm, and that my tight chino slacks and pointed shoes with heel taps were scorned and ridiculed in small town America. The “Fonz” look was not acceptable. Walking the halls with a cigarette behind my ear was not acceptable either. Moving from Whitesboro Central School to West Canada Valley Central School, could just as well have been a move to the opposite side of the globe.

Continued HERE:

 Dick Naegele, "Clipper," now hails from Tennesee, but most days find his heart in the Mohawk Valley of central New York State, where he plans to one day return. Living the life of the "Last American Cowboy,"  Dick was a trucker and logged over  3 million miles on the nation's highways.  He has owned his own business, been a government manager and also a professional firefighter.  A writer of many talents and experiences, his  writing sees the hearts of people that most of us often miss.  More of "Clipper's"  writing is located  on his blog,   "Along the Banks of Beaver Creek," at:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Easter Coming to Wisconsin

by Delores Miller

Full moon shining all night, but a big snowstorm is forecast in a few days.  Just what we need for a sloppy Easter egg hunt that the Easter Bunny will scatter around the Miller yard along with chocolate Easter Bunnies and real colored cooked eggs.  Want to come along to Good Friday and Easter Sunday church services with us?

It has been a busy spring for us, we are getting slower so things take longer.  Went dancing twice last week, good polka bands and saw lots of people to gossip with.    Tucker, Matthew's 5 year old son had grandparents day at his school and we went for tea and crumpets.  Was fun.  Here is a poem that was handed out:  'Grandparents bestow upon their grandchildren, The strength and wisdom that time and experience have given them.  Grandchildren bless their Grandparents with a youthful vitality and innocence that help them stay young a heart forever.  Together they create a chain of love linking the past with the future.  The chain may lengthen, but it will never part.

So last week was St. Patrick's Day, March 17.  Not Irish in our family but all the bars serve Corned Beef, cabbage, carrots, red potatoes and marble rye bread.  Russ cannot stand the smell of cooked cabbage, so took me out twice to eat it.  Was very good.  Nancy Reagan former first lady and wife of President Ronald Reagan died at 94 and we watched the funeral on tv from the Presidential Library at Simi, California.  Had visited it about ten years ago, beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.    Russ had a luncheon with his Marine Corps buddies, they all joined together in 1953.  Needless to say they have gotten older.    And now this is Leap Year, had an extra day on
February 29.  Politics with people running for President in November and we will hear all that hullabaloo.  Went to a church luncheon, their speciality was pea soup and banana pie.  Was very good.  Another church had a pancake supper.  Girl Scouts were selling cookies, bought two boxes.    Another church had a polka service and a chili luncheon.

Funerals of friends, sad.  Cancer, heart trouble and a fiery truck accident.

So on that happy note we close and wish you a Happy Easter.  Think spring and planting a garden.

Russell and Delores Miller in sunny Wisconsin

 Delores Miller lives with husband Russell in Hortonville, Wisconsin.    In the summer of 2007 they  celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party hosted by their five children and ten grandchildren.  It’s been a long road.  Dairy farming until retirement in 1993, they continued to 'work' the land, making a subdivision of 39 new homes on their former hay fields.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mouse in the House

 by Chester L. Tuthill

It was 1945 and I was still in the Marines in China.  It was natural for me to make friends with some of the local merchants.  Eventually I was invited to go with them to a restaurant, in return for which I was going to take them to a movie at the auditorium in the school where we were lodged.

There were about five or six Chinese men there with me.  The first thing we did was climb up some stairs to a small cubicle on the second floor.  We were given a bowl of hot water and a  towel to wash our face and hands.  Everybody used the same water!

Once seated it now became a struggle to converse.  My Chinese at this stage was rather limited, nevertheless, with the aid of a book of translation provided by the Marine Corps we were able to converse after a fashion.  I'm not sure what was ordered as I left that matter up to them.  During the course of the meal which had now moved along on a really high note, due to the beverage of choice.  It was “bei gar”, an innocent, clear white substance, about 150 proof.  (My alcohol knowledge and  consumption was very limited.)

I noticed a cat fooling around at my legs, so I gave it a kick to remove it.  With that, I felt something shoot up inside my pants leg.  I thought, “My goodness a mouse must have run up my leg”.  I jumped up and started to unbutton my fly so as to take off my pants.  I was trying to explain to the startled group (with the aid of the translation booklet) what I thought had happened.  They said, “No, No, No.  This clean place, not possible.  Must be your imagination.”  By now, quiet had been restored;  the cat had left;  I sat down and we finished the meal a half hour or so later.

We left the restaurant and climbed into rickshaws for the ride back to the school.  I noticed the full moon didn't seem to stay in the same place.  It was sort of bobbing and weaving as opposed to the rickshaw which was weaving and bobbing.  The “bei gar” was working.  I thought, “How soothing it is to ride in a rickshaw being pulled along at a rapid pace by a local entrepreneur.”

Once inside the auditorium we all sat down and were waiting for the houselights to die so we could watch the movie.

I had my hands in my lap and we were sort of chatting to pass the time.  I noticed I had no feeling in my groin, and I wondered why.  I began to unbutton my pants again.  The business men I was with must have thought I had a fixation with taking off my pants.  I opened the fly and noticed there was blood on my skinny shorts.  I thought, “My God, I've been shot and I don't even feel it.”.  Continuing with the operation there suddenly appeared a bleeding mouse looking up at me with soulful eyes.  I took it by the scruff of the neck and said “See, I told you there was a mouse in my pants. And you didn't believe me!” 

I held my pants together with one hand, and walked to the exit door near by and threw the mouse out the door.  I re-buttoned my pants and sat down again.  The lights dimmed and we saw a local showing of Pearl Buck's  “The Good Earth” with Luise Rainer and Paul Muni.

copyright 2015, Chester L. Tuthill

 Chet Tuthill served in the Marines and after the end of WW2 was sent to China.  He took advantage of the Bill of Rights for veterans afterward earning a college degree.  Married with four children, he is now widowed and retired from the Education field.  He is the sole homemaker and caretaker of his son.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Bruce's New Companion

 A Letter from June Bassemir
Dear Bruce,

Your new hobby received this Christmas of an expensive drone sounds like an exciting one. Richard tells me that a friend of his bought the exact same model drone as you have and that he can even program it to follow him on his long walks.  If you can do the same, I suggest you give your drone a name like: “Freddie” since he will become your companion on extended hot evenings.  You might even have to put his name and address on the base somewhere in case he becomes inoperable some time.  It could say:  “Hi my name is Freddie and I live with Bruce Tuthill in Baiting Hollow, FL  Please see that I get home.”  After those long walks “Freddie” will have to rest so I hope you have provided a special parking spot in your garage where he can wait until his next outing. 

There is a problem however that I am not sure you are aware of right now and that is: I wonder if this new companion will override your faithful loving wife who will have to sit at home and wait for you and “Freddie” to come back from your tender walks in the evening.  I guess she could always join the two of you but she might feel that she is barging in?  Perhaps you should rethink this new companionship.

Of course, if  “Freddie” is out sometime and not living up to the honor system of viewing, the Drone Police might come knocking at your door.  And then you might have to engage a high priced Drone Lawyer to defend poor “Freddie” in the event he is incarcerated on a minor infraction of being somewhere where he shouldn't be.  The listing of Drone lawyers in the classified (if there is still a classified) will become a definite need and a new branch of study for young men and women in colleges will be worth looking into.

We might also need a social register with the names of male and female drones because surely there will be other companions with names like “Sally” or “Olivia” or “Lucy”.  Of course, their flying about could become a problem for you, so I suggest a firm control with definite flight patterns planned on a weekly basis.  One other thing:   I realize that space is unlimited but let's talk about drone traffic.  Do you forsee problems in that area?  What happens if  “Freddie” and “Olivia” collide?  Will that break up the friendship?          

                June Tuthill Bassemir is the widowed mother of four and grandmother of ten.  An artist and writer, she  volunteers as a docent in a 1765 farm house.   June loves old cars and antiques, and has also enjoyed furniture stripping and rug hooking.  "I used to say I was a stripper and hooker.but with so many trips around the sun, no one raises an eyebrow anymore. They only laugh."  June has given up furniture stripping, but is still an avid rug hooker.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Merry Christmas From Wisconsin

We always enjoy hearing from Russell and Delores Miller in Wisconsin.  That goes for any time of year, but especially during the holidays. 
 It's time for Christmas, although we have no snow and the temperatures are always above freezing which we like, no icy roads or yards or plowing snow.    But it is dark gloomy days, the sun seldom shines. Got the bill for the farm taxes, over $3000 which made a dent in the checking account.  Threw out my back and going to the chiropractor, which helps.  Russ decorated the small Christmas tree and the gifts are gathering up under.  Thanksgiving was November 26, had 17 people for the feast, most stay nights.  Also went out for Indian food.  Then one Sunday afternoon went dancing.  The band Don Peachey played 60 years ago at the Caroline Ballroom, before we were married.  He is now an old man, but still has good beats.  Deer hunting season was for 10 days.  Russ does not hunt.  But it was the 'rut' and so many deer in the middle of the roads, getting hit and killed.  
Watching professional football, the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots and the University of Wisconsin Badgers.  Bucky Badger always entertains.  Sandhill cranes finally left, they stayed longer than most years.  Where do they go?  Veteran's day was November 11.  Programs honoring all military personnel.  We went to 4 of the programs.  Good food, music.

Here is a picture if it comes through taken at grandson Tucker's 5th birthday.  In the back row is Barb Olson, the other Grandmother, Sam Olson, and of course Delores.  Front is Lisa, Leon Olson , Russ and Matt with Ollie and Tucker.

So that is it for the year 2015.  And a Merry Christmas to all.

Russell and Delores Miller

copyright Russell and Delores Miller, 2015