If you would like to add a comment to any of the threads here on AADB, registration with blogspot.com is not required. Simply click on the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of an essay, and either enter a nickname under ‘choose an identity’ or post your comment anonymously. Serious comments are always welcome.

REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

11/03/2006

Reflections


Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance toward the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point. Climb slowly, steadily, enjoying each passing moment; and the view from the summit will serve as a fitting climax for the journey ... H. Melchert

This will most likely be my last post here for a while, so I thought I would write something non-political for a change – something more introspective and philosophical that might cause anyone who happens by here to reflect, or maybe consider some ideas he hadn't before afforded much brain-space (on the other hand, he may leave here scratching his head and muttering, ‘What the heck is she smoking?’ :)

The following observations are not meant to be maudlin. If any readers see them in that way, I offer my apologies in advance. My intention is quite the opposite. I simply offer them as three short and simple ‘tales’ ... all of which I believe speak to the fleeting nature of our earth-bound life, and the natural, innate human desire to leave some kind of permanent personal mark on the ever-changing landscape.

Recent happenings in my family circle have caused me some reflection on the concept of our mortality, and I have somehow become acutely aware of the passing of time, the changing of the seasons, etc.

... which often puts me in mind of a scene from the lovely movie 'A Trip to Bountiful', in which Geraldine Paige portrays an elderly woman whose final, heartsong yearning is to return, one last time, to what remains of her dilapidated and abandoned childhood home on the economically beleaguered Texas Gulf coast. Looking plaintively over the overgrown fields surrounding her nearly-a-century-ago childhood home, she reflects:

Twenty years from now, I’ll be long gone. The river will still be here ... the fields ... the trees ... and the smell of the Gulf. But it’s so quiet now ... so eternally quiet.

My papa always had that field over there planted in cotton. It’s all woods now. But I expect someday people will come and cut down the trees and plant cotton again ... and maybe even wear out the land again. And then their children will sell it and move to the cities.

And then trees will come up again.

We’re all just a small part of all of God’s plan.



We live toward the end of a completely forested, dead-end road in a remote part of our township here in south-central Pennsylvania. Toward the other end of our road, nearing where it meets a main township road, sits a beautiful, well-maintained horse farm that has been in existence since 1831 … a full thirty years before the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter.

Just a few hundred feet from that farm, across a main township road, stood an old red, weather-beaten barn that has to have stood there at least as many years as the old horse farm … through the Civil War, both World Wars, and all of the events, both momentous and unnoticed, that have occurred in the interim.

That old barn sat on the edge of a fallow field that stretches just about as far as the eye can see, and its only companion was a young (in comparison) maple tree that stood sentinel alongside it.

Two weeks ago, someone had painted on the side of that barn, in gnarly, irregular letters: ‘For Sale’, accompanied by a phone number. I didn’t think much of the crooked lettering until, one day last week, I drove by and saw three young Amish men dismantling the old barn (old barn wood is a valuable commodity, since old wooden barns are becoming more rare with the passage of time). Without realizing that it was happening, I found myself audibly sobbing, as I drove toward town, with a river of tears streaming down both cheeks.

The nearby development of upscale houses that began construction last year surely intends to invade and digest the barren farm field in the not-too-distant future, and the removal of the old barn was, no doubt, a necessity in order to accommodate the march of (what we like to call) ‘progress’.

The young maple tree now stands sentinel there alone, with just the remnants of the weathered stone foundation of her older companion, still stubbornly clinging to the ground, insistent on reminding her of simpler, sweeter days.



Directly across the street from the building in which my office is located stands another field. At the edge of that field, adjacent to the road, once stood three lovely oak trees, the largest and oldest of which was damaged about five years ago during a spring thunderstorm that was accompanied by especially strong winds. I suspect that the two younger specimens on either side of her were her acorn ‘offspring’.

Man did nothing to repair the damage that the storm wreaked on the mother tree, and, over the ensuing five years since the storm, insects have had their way with her. Just last winter, the top three-fourths of her gave way and came hurtling earthward, leaving simply a tall, insect-riddled hollow stump. Pieces of her former self still litter the ground.

That stump is scheduled to meet the township road crew’s chainsaw within the next couple of weeks.

When leaving my office this afternoon, I reminded myself to capture the last remaining evidence that that lovely old oak … most likely witness to the Great Depression and beyond ... ever graced that particular spot of ground. Two weeks from now there will be no earthly evidence that she ever existed, but for the two younger versions of her that still stand to either side of her remains.



Below is a short story that I first read several years ago. It appeared in a book many years before my first reading of it. It is a telling and touching story for those who view man’s mortality as something that evokes both awe and dread. And I offer it here as a human counterpart of the simple tales of the barn and the oak.

But For This...

by Lajos Zilahy


He didn’t stop to wash the turpentine from his hands, but merely dried them on the rag that was hanging on a nail behind the door.

Then he untied the green carpenter’s apron from his waist and shook the shavings from his trousers.

He put on his hat and, before going out the door, turned to the old carpenter who was standing with his back to him, stirring the glue. His voice was weary as he said:

‘Goodnight.’

A strange mysterious feeling had shivered in him since morning. There had been a bad taste in his mouth.

For a moment his hand would stop moving the plane, and his eyes would close, tired.

He went home and listlessly ate his supper.

He lived at an old woman’s, the widow of Ferenz Borka, in a bare little room which had once been a wood shed.

That night – on the fourth day of October, 1874 – at a quarter past one in the morning, the journeyman carpenter, John Kovacs, died.

He was a soft-spoken, sallow-faced man, with sagging shoulders and a rusty moustache.

He died at the age of thirty-five.

Two days later, they buried him.

He left no wife, nor child behind, no one but a cook living in Budapest in the service of a blank president, by the name of Torday.

She was John Kovacs’ cousin.

Five years later, the old carpenter in whose shop he had worked, died, and nine years later death took the old woman in whose shed he had lived.

Fourteen years later, Torday’s cook, John Kovacs’ cousin, died.

Twenty-one months later – in the month of March of 1805 – in a pub at the end of Kerepesuit, cabbies sat around a red clothed table drinking wine.

It was late in the night; it must have been three o’clock. They sprawled with their elbows on the table, shaking with raucous laughter.

Clouds of thick smoke from vile cigars curled around them. They recalled the days of their military service.

One of them, a big, ruddy-faced, double-chinned coachman whom they called Fritz, was saying:

‘Once my friend, the corporal, made a recruit stick his head into the stove …’

And at this point he was seized by a violent fit of laughter as he banged the table with the palm of his hand.

‘Jeez!’ he roared.

The veins swelled on his neck and temples and for many minutes he choked, twitched and shook with convulsive laughter.

When he finally calmed down he continued, interrupting himself with repeated guffaws.

‘He made him stick his head into the stove and in there he made him shout one hundred times ‘Herr Zugsfiere, ich melde gehorsammst’ ... poor chump, there he was on all fours and we paddled his behind till the skin almost split on our fingers.’

Again he stopped to get over another laughing spell.

Then he turned to one of the men, ‘Do you remember, Franzi?’ Franzi nodded.

The big fellow put his hand to his forehead.

'Now ... what was that fellow’s name ... '

Franzi thought for a moment and then said: ‘Ah ... a ... Kovacs ... John Kovacs.’

That was the last time ever a human voice spoke the name of John Kovacs.

On November the tenth, in 1899, a woman suffering from heart disease was carried from an O Buda tobacco factory to St. John’s Hospital. She must have been about forty-five years old.

They put her on the first floor in ward number 3.

She lay there on the bed, quiet and terrified; she knew she was going to die.

It was dark in the ward, the rest of the patients were already asleep: only a wick sputtered in a small blue oil lamp.

Her eyes staring wide into the dim light, the woman reflected upon her life.

She remembered a summer night in the country, and a gentle-eyed young man, with whom – their fingers linked – she was roaming over the heavy scented fields and through whom that night she became a woman.

That young man was John Kovacs and his face, his voice, the glance of his eye had now returned for the last time.

But this time his name was not spoken, only in the mind of this dying woman did he silently appear for a few moments. The following year a fire destroyed the Calvinist rectory and its dusty records that contained the particulars of the birth and death of John Kovacs.

In January, 1901, the winter was hard.

Toward evening in the dark a man dressed in rags climbed furtively over the ditch that fenced in the village cemetery.

He stole two wooden crosses to build a fire.

One of the crosses had marked the grave of John Kovacs.

Again two decades passed.

In 1920, in Kecskemet, a young lawyer sat at his desk making an inventory of his father’s estate.

He opened every drawer and looked carefully through every scrap of paper.

On one was written: ‘Received 4 Florins, 60 kraciers. The price of two chairs polished respectfully Kovacs John.’

The lawyer glanced over the paper, crumpled it in his hand and threw it into the waste paper basket.

The following day the maid took out the basket and emptied its contents in the far end of the courtyard.

Three days later it rained.

The crumpled paper soaked through and only this much remained on it:

' ... Kova ... J ... '

The rain had washed away the rest; the letter ‘J’ was barely legible.

These last letters were the last lines, the last speck of matter that remained of John Kovacs.

A few weeks later the sky rumbled and the rain poured down as though emptied from buckets.

On that afternoon the rain washed away the remaining letters.

The letter ‘v’ resisted longest, because there where the line curves in the ‘v’ John Kovacs had pressed on his pen.

Then the rain washed that away too.

And in that instant – forty-nine years after his death – the life of the journeyman carpenter ceased to exist and forever disappeared from this earth ... but for this ...

37 comments:

daveburkett said...

non-political for a change – something more introspective and philosophical.....

Indeed, and very beautiful.

Lori_Gmeiner said...

Just lovely, Joanie. Very moving.

3timesalady said...

All three stories are touching (incuding the actual forth comments in the movie by Geraldine Paige). I got a lump in my throat more than once. Too many of us look at these kinds of things and refuse to connect them to our own humanity. This is a wonderful piece Joanie. So thrilled to read it here.

Write more along this line.

Come back soon!

John Cooper said...

Several years ago, my older friend Clarence and his wife drove me up to the turpentine woods of North Florida to show me where he grew up. He somehow managed to find the unmarked dirt road that turned off the highway into the woods, and we followed that for several miles through a trackless pine forest. Occasionally, the road would branch, but Clarence relied on his memory to take us down the right one.

Eventually, we found an even smaller road - more of a trail really - and parked the car. We all walked down this trail and eventually came to a small clearing where he said childhood home used to stand. There was absolutely nothing there that I could see. No piles of rubble, no bricks, nothing.

But my friend pointed to a small depression in the ground and told us, "That was where our well was". There was a cherry tree on the edge of the small clearing, and Clarence told us, "That tree sprouted up from a cherry pit that one of us threw out the back door. It was small the last time I saw it."

Not being much else to see there, we all quietly walked back to the car and drove on down the rode a little farther; Clarence was looking for the sulpher-spring where he and his friends would stop for a drink on their way to and from school.

Amazingly enough, he found it, but now someone had improved it with a pipe and a valve. He bent over and took a long drink of the smelly (but good tasting) water, and I can only imagine what memories that one drink conjured up.

We managed to locate a graveyard out there in the middle of what was once a thriving rural community, but had now become "nowhere". Walking around, Clarence would point to a grave and remark, "I remember her. She sat next to me in school one year.", or "We used to walk to school together."

I need to give Clarence a call today...

robmaroni said...

The stories are beautiful Joanie, and the thread that runs through them too. I read it all over twice and saved it to a file. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the very touching stories.

Anonymous said...

When I got up this morning, I spoke the name "John Kovacs".

GretaHoffman said...

So beautiful. Thank you for sharing all of these thoughts, I will think about them for a long time.

I spoke the name of "John Kovacs" too after reading what anonymous wrote above. It seemed fitting.

guinevere said...

Do you remember what book you found that story in? I would really like to know what the other stories in it were like and maybe get a copy of my own if it's still in print.

sandra said...

Where did you find the Lajos Zilhay story?

Name sounds Hungarian.

Was it a translation?

D_o'connor said...

A lot of your writing is almost poetic---like this: "The young maple tree now stands sentinel there alone, with just the remnants of the weathered stone foundation of her older companion, still stubbornly clinging to the ground, insistent on reminding her of simpler, sweeter days."

I'd like to read more of these kinds of stories here along with the politics. Well done.

joanie said...

To all who have commented on the Zilahy story … thank you, and I am happy that it touched you as it did me. When a beautiful man-made creation -- be it a work of art, music, literature, or something else that has the power to deeply affect -- inspires a particularly powerful reaction in a person, it is so gratifying to know that it affects others in a similar way.

A special thank you to John for the beautiful reminiscence, and the knowledge that Clarence will surely appreciate hearing from you. :)

A copy of the story was given to me several years ago and I filed it away, enchanted by its message. A few years later, after sharing the story with a friend -- who was experiencing some serious difficulties in his life, and to whom I believed the story would be extremely meaningful -- he sought out its origin and purchased for me as a Christmas gift a used copy of the book in which it first appeared, The Bedside Esquire, an anthology in which it was published in the early years of World War II.

The book (which is still somewhere in our basement, awaiting unpacking, since our move of last year :) also contains, as I recall, maybe fifty or sixty other short stories that were published in the magazine as well, by authors such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dreiser, Steinbeck, and the like. But, oddly enough, the stories by the more famous authors -- which most of them were -- were, to my mind, far inferior to the stories written by the lesser-known authors.

I have since also read a book of Zilahy’s, entitled Two Prisoners (came across it quite accidentally at a used book sale). It’s a fascinating World War I story, beginning in Budapest (Zilahy was Hungarian-born, had fought in WW I himself, and moved to America in the late 40s), and ending in Siberia. It is a terribly tragic, but mesmerizing, story … one of those that I couldn’t put down until finishing it … taking on, on a much larger scale, a similar thought-provoking, heartbreaking theme as the short story above. If I recall correctly, Two Prisoners was written in Hungarian -- as was, I suspect, But for This. If my recollection is correct, the English translation is superb, in that it showed none of the clumsiness in which translations often result.

~ joanie

Arlene Albrecht said...

Joanie, I agree with some of the other comments that you should write more things like this. Your personal ideas about the barn and the tree are excellent and the photos really add to them. It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words! Thank you for taking the time to put a picture with the stories.

LouBarakos said...

No disrespect intended Joanie, but how would giving this story to somebody "who was experiencing some serious difficulties in his life" cheer him up? It's a good story but certainly not cheerful.

joanie said...

Your question isn’t disrespectful at all, and I guess it’s really understandable. I should have better explained what I meant. :)

My friend is a man who has had a major positive effect on countless people – mostly, but not only, through the positive, role-model example he has set for young people. He was suffering through a terrible illness (which, since then, has been successfully treated and is no longer causing him major discomfort or concern … thank God) and he was taking stock of his life. In the process, he was not recognizing just how powerfully positive his mark has been on the world, and the people, around him.

I actually read this story to him in the middle of his longest, and last, period of hospitalization, and we discussed it for quite a while afterwards. I believe that the story, and talking about it, helped him to recognize that his own imprint on this world, and on dozens of people whose lives he has indelibly touched, will last, both directly and indirectly, for generations – that his (entirely unintended) ‘legacy’ is a good, God-centered, and lasting one.

(That isn’t to say that the subject of the short story was any less of a man. We know little of his life’s circumstances, except for the end of it ... and beyond. It is just to say that John Kovacs was not as blessed, or as fortunate, as is my friend.)

Anonymous said...

Interesting connections between stories.

This is a good site with lots to think about, you should try to get links from other politics sites.

Danthemangottschall said...

I'd like to see the "beautiful and well maintained" 1831 horse farm at the end of your road. What kind of horses do they raise/breed?

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a political website.

joanie said...

Dan, here’s a photo of the old farm house. I don’t have one of the actual farm grounds, which is what is most impressive. It’s absolutely beautiful land:

http://home.ptd.net/~bigtimbr/FRProfile0/cornerfarm.jpg

The current owners have owned it for about twenty-five years, but the land and business itself goes back 175 years. It is a bloodstock agency that specializes in stallion and broodmare prospects. They also sell broodmares in foal.

LouBarakos said...

I understand now.

Danthemangottschall said...

That certainly is a beautiful midnineteenth century farmhouse. If you ever get any photos of the grounds please post them. Thanks for this one of the house. Very nice place!

All_good_men said...

I've known many John Kovacs in my life and it is sad. They think they have so much when they really have nothing. Even their families would not care if they died.

Anonymous said...

Very well written and very thought provoking!

John Cooper said...

My wife and I were returning from Florida to North Carolina a couple of years ago, and pulled off I-95 in Georgia to fix ourselves some lunch.

We drove down this side road looking for a place to pull off, open the cooler, and make some sandwiches. We saw an open area with a couple trees and pulled off the road.

While fixing our lunch, I looked around and noticed that where we were parked looked like it had been a circular driveway where a house had been.

On closer inspection, among the old trees was a huge Camelia bush - 15' tall or more - right next to where we had parked to eat. The plant was full and healthy like it had been well-tended for twenty years or more.

I eventually realized that a house had once stood behind the Camelia, and that it had probably been planted by the owners right next to the front door of that long-gone structure.

People had lived there, worked in the local community, thrived there, and now were gone, as was their former home. But the Camelia they had planted was still standing tall and beautiful as a lonely testiment to their lives.

If there is a heaven, I hope the people who built and lived that home looked down and smiled that some passing travelers noticed their beautiful Camelia, and wondered about their lives.

Anonymous said...

All three of your wonderful stories made me shed a few tears!

jim said...

There's a little bit of John Kovacs in all of us to one degree or another. Thanks for putting this interesting story here. I enjoyed reading all three of them.
John Cooper, good stories as well.

Anonymous said...

Trees have from time immemorial been closely associated with magic. These stout members of the vegetable kingdom may stand for as long as a thousand years, and tower far above our mortal heads. As such they are symbols and keepers of unlimited power, longevity, and timelessness. An untouched forest, studded with trees of all ages, sizes and types, is more than a mysterious, magical place - it is one of the energy reservoirs of nature. Within its boundaries stand ancient and new sentinels, guardians of the universal force which has manifested on the the Earth. . . . . Scott Cunningham

Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing Joanie. You have talents in writing beyond the political (although the politics is most welcome).

This post certainly made me thoughtful about the changing scenes of life.

Come back soon !

Anonymous said...

This is an inspiring piece of writing! Thank you for sharing it here.

john galt said...

Nice work.

GVNR said...

John Kovacs - I'm not sure what to say about it, other than I am sitting here, with tears in my eyes, my vision blurred by them, reflecting upon my own life, my ancestors, my family......my mortality, and whatever might remain in the thoughts and rememberances of those who knew me.
While researching some members of my family tree I came upon the gravesite of my Great Grandfather and his brother, side-by-side. I asked the sexton about the absence of markers and whether he had any information about "my people". The only thing he told me was that they were in plot #1 and #2 and didn't know who was on what side. I DO sometimes think about things, private things, things that I don't share with others.
Having "been" is what we all will "be" someday.
What will be remembered about OUR time here?
For someday, we will all travel the road to eternity and leave behing the pain and sorrow - and joy of our having been.
I wonder what it feels like. That last moment.
(Sorry about the ravings of an old fool)
God Bless

John Cooper said...

gvnr:

"But for this..." was a powerful, unsettling, and thought-provoking piece, but we shouldn't dwell too much on our ending, now should we?

Several of my family members are buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, CA, and having walked around and spent some quiet, reflective hours there, I've looked at a lot of inscriptions on the crypts. I think my favorite is:

"I had a pretty good time". That one made me smile.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that I just spoke to my friend Clarence (see earlier post), and he told me that he's been back to his "home place" several times since he took my wife and I up there. He was unable to drink from the sulpher spring on the last trip, since he can no longer walk very far due to his bad back.

Clarence related that on one previous trip, he had met up with a forest ranger in a jeep and they got to talking about the "olden days" in the turpentine woods. The ranger instinctively knew that he had a gold mine of information in Clarence, and spent the rest of the day driving Clarence and Edna around in his jeep to all the old graveyards and any of the houses that were left - picking his brain all the while.

Clarence was still flying up until two years ago, and on one of those trips, flew the ranger all over the area in the Lancair (that Clarence had built by hand at 69 years old). He also gave the ranger a bunch of old "turpentine tools" to go in a museum.

Clarence just told me the two of them are "friends for life".

Clarence and Edna never had any children because Edna had to have her ovaries removed when she was young. (That is a story in itself. Clarence was in the Army, and back in 1940, spouses weren't covered by GI insurance. Clarence actually had to hold a pistol on a doctor to get him to perform the needed surgery, which the doctor performed in the attic of his home. The doctor got Clarence calmed down and actually made Clarence
assist. Oh, Clarence paid off the doctor's fee over the next ten years.)

Clarence got a little weepy at the end of our call tonight, because the Ranger and I may be the only two people left who know the story of his life.

...and what a life it was (and still is).

sandra said...

"I had a pretty good time".

Thanks for that one, John.

John Cooper said...

Clarence and Edna passed away several years ago.

Anonymous said...

Clarence Grubbs Obituary and Remembrance (part 2)

(...continued)

Still in the Army, Clarence and Edna ended up in Jacksonville, FL. On the sentimental journey to the turpentine woods, they showed us the tiny little house they lived in at that time. Clarence also told me about Edna having an ovarian cyst and not being able to afford the surgery to remove it. In those days, GI health insurance didn’t cover spouses and on a soldier’s pay he just couldn’t pay for the surgery. So he took his .45 to a local surgeon’s house, and pointed the gun at him, telling him “I’m desperate”. The surgeon calmed him down and agreed to perform the needed surgery on the condition that Clarence would assist. The surgeon had a surgical suite in the attic of his house, and that’s where he cut Edna open and removed her ovaries. Clarence related how the surgeon handed the bad one to him and it looked like a large, purple grape. Edna survived, although she could never have children. Clarence paid the surgeon back month-to-month over the next five years.

After the war, Clarence and Edna moved to Atlanta and Clarence found a job with Atlanta Shower Door Co. – the inventors of the glass and aluminum shower doors that we all use today. Those were good years for them, I think. Clarence called Edna “Barky” and she called him “Chickie”. During those days, he was a vaudeville performer in his spare time and performed alongside such notables as “Count Basie”. Clarence told me the nickname was a shortened version of “That no-account Basie!” since he never showed up on time. Clarence learned to play the piano. He could do amazing rope tricks and card tricks, some of which he tried to teach me, but I just didn’t have the knack. Edna found a job with Sears, and worked her way up to being a manager. Clarence worked his way up to become the Vice President of the company. He bought a Globe Swift airplane and Edna got her pilots license as well. Clarence was a founding member of the “Flying Rebels”, a group of pilots who would sponsor timed races and fly-out camping trips. The two of them took lots of trips together. Later, Clarence bought a Piper Commanche 250 aircraft. He was always telling me how much he loved that plane, so one time I asked him, “If you liked it so much, why did you sell it?”. He said some guy offered him twice what it was worth, so he couldn’t refuse.

After retiring to Titusville, FL and finding himself without an airplane at age 66, he decided to build one in his garage – a Lancair 235. That’s how I met Clarence; We were both building Lancairs in our garages. We became close friends. Clarence was what you would call a gregarious person; He was outgoing and could make friends instantly with just about anybody. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a joke for every occasion. In 1989, the two of us drove my pickup from Titusville to Atlanta, GA to buy an engine for my airplane and to visit some of his old friends. That round trip took almost 20 hours – we didn’t get home until 4AM - and Clarence told jokes and stories the entire time to keep me from falling asleep.

Clarence and Edna owned an Airstream trailer, and pulled it with their Cadillac to many Airstream rallies around the Country. During the evening entertainment at those events, he volunteered to do stand-up comedy as “Hoss Beauregard” while wearing a 10 gallon hat. Somewhere I think I have a video tape of one of his performances; It was hilarious and the crowd loved it. On those rallies, they always took along their beloved Norwegian Elkhound Penny – the best trained dog I have ever seen. When Penny passed away, they had her cremated and spread her ashes near the corner of their garage under a little monument they had made.

(continued...)

Anonymous said...

Clarence Grubbs Obituary and Remembrance (part 3)

Clarence finished his Lancair in 1991 and flew it the first time himself. That was no problem for him since he had flown many, many typed of airplanes. It was a beautiful airplane and even won a prestigious Wright Bros. Award, which he flew to Dayton, Ohio to accept. He had the model of the Wright Flyer they awarded him in his living room with a beautiful acrylic cover. He flew his Lancair well into his eighties and joined the Flying Octogenarians Club. He had to sell the plane a few years later after back surgery left him unable to climb up into the cockpit.

Clarence and Edna were good friends to me and I miss them both dearly.

Anonymous said...

Part 1 seems to have not posted so here it is again:

Clarence Grubbs Obituary and Remembrance

Clarence was born in 1919 at home in Northern Florida, somewhere in the Jacksonville area. At some point, the family moved to the “turpentine woods” between Jacksonville and Ocala, which is where Clarence grew up. His father had a business harvesting sap from the pine trees and boiling it down to make turpentine for the Navy. In 1995, Clarence and his wife Edna drove my wife and I to the remote area in the turpentine woods to see the house in the woods where he grew up. The house was no longer there, but Clarence pointed out where the well used to be – it was only a depression in the ground by that time – and pointed out a cherry tree that he “planted” by spitting out a cherry pit from the back porch. We both drank from the sulfur spring that he frequented as a youngster. There were no other buildings left in that once thriving community. On that sentimental journey, we also visited a local cemetery where he found the graves of some of his schoolmate. Clarence told me that he and many of his schoolmates carried their .22 rifles to the one-room schoolhouse and stacked them in the corner; The kids were expected to bring a squirrel or bird home for supper. He related how his father had lectured him sternly about the proper use of the gun.

When Clarence came of age in the thirties, he and a couple friends set out to walk to New York to find jobs building airplanes for Grumman on Long Island. They slept under bridges and when they were hungry, the ragged band would find a diner and order hot tea for 5 cents. In those days, restaurants always provided condiments and saltines on each table, so the hungry travelers would save the tea bag, and fill the teacups with hot water to which they added catsup and crushed saltines to make “tomato soup”. Somehow they made it to New York.

Clarence found employment at Grumman Aircraft and helped build airplanes during the buildup to WWII. This is where he met his future wife Edna, who lived near the plant in Long Island. About that time, Clarence joined the Army Air Corps and learned how to fly. He flew the DE Havilland Chipmunk, PT-17 Stearman, and PT-19. I am unclear of the timing here, but he and Edna were married, and Clarence served in Hawaii for a time, but was not there during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.