1948 Killer Smog In Donora, Pennsylvania

Killler smog that engulfed Donora, Pennsylvania in October of 1948.

I have been reading Stan Musial: An American Life which mentioned that a killer smog had took 18 or more lives. Stan Musial’s father Lukasz already had health problems before the killer smog and died less than two months after the smog hit Donora, Pennsylvania, late in October of 1948.

The smog first started engulfing the city on October 27 and remained until October 31, when rain dispersed the smog. Poisonous gases from the Donora Zinc Works and American Steel and Wire plant usually left the area, but this time the poisonous gases were trapped in smog that covered the area nearest to the plants.

Driving was risky during the smog, since visibility was close to zero. Drivers had to drive with their head out the car window to see where they were going.

Surprisingly, a high school football game was played during the killer smog, but no passes were thrown, since they couldn’t be seen through the smog.

Fluorine gas was the cause of the deaths and illness experienced by Donora residents. Some of the victims had 20 times the normal fluorine in their bodies.

Nearly 7,000 people became ill from the killer smog, which was about half the population of Donora. There is no telling how many deaths were a direct result of the smog, in the years following the smog.

Boston.com website has an excellent article on the Donora killer smog:


Historical marker commemorating the killer smog in Donora, Pennsylvania in October of 1948.

The killer smog in Donora eventually brought about change in the way poisonous gases were released into the atmosphere when Clean Air Act was enacted by the government.

It is possible that young kids living in Donora in 1948, who would be about 65-75 today could someday too be victims of the 1948 killer smog if they ingested smaller amounts of the poisonous gases.



Memories of a Lifetime: 2011-2013

2011 – We were living in Sulphur, Louisiana, a city of about 20,000 at the start of 2011. We were living on Live Oak Street in Sulphur and we found a home church in Calvary Baptist Church on Lewis Street. We were impressed by the pastor Rev. W.D. Darnell, who lived what he preached and only used the King James Version of the Holy Bible. We made many friends, among the members of the church. Rhonda was very involved with the activities at the church and I often sang special music on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Rhonda and me sang duets a couple of times and she sang On The Wings Of A Dove with another lady one time.

Rhonda liked living in Sulphur, since she had a sister and her mom living there. We lived close to the neighborhood, where my daughter and family had lived before moving to Groves, Texas.

I would return to working as a caregiver again in November of 2011. I worked with a disabled man with diabetes and lost the job at the end of the year, when his family changed to another caregiving company.

An international news story was when an earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan took 15,840 lives.

President Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1.

Casey Anthony was acquitted of the murder of her daughter Calee Marie Anthony, in a controversial verdict by the jury.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers dies on October 5 of cancer.

House were renting at $955 a month in 2011.

A gallon of gas cost $2.89.

Movie tickets were selling for $8.20.


2012 – I worked as a crossing guard at a school in Sulphur for a few weeks, toward the end of the school year. It was interesting work and enjoyed the job. The job could turn out to be the last job I will ever work, since I haven’t worked since becoming sick a couple of months later.

We moved to DeRidder, Louisiana in July and are living in a trailer, that is about halfway between Merryville, Louisiana and DeRidder. We are living in the country and liking it so far.

Knew something was wrong when I began vomiting up blood and lost about 35 pounds in less than two months during the summer. Found out in October in Houston VA Hospital, that I had duodenal cancer. It was a very disease to diagnose, since it mimics acid reflux and duodenal ulcers. It is very rare disease with only two percent of gastrointestinal diseases being duodenal cancer.

Surgeons in Houston performed a resection surgery on Oct. 16 to remove a blockage, which was cancerous and was successful. However I found out in November, that duodenal cancer has a history of returning and has a relatively low survival rate.

Chemotherapy started at the VA hospital in Pineville, Louisiana on Dec.13 and have had three chemo IV’s since that date, with five more to go. Have finished six of a 24 week program of chemotherapy. It seems like the side effects have been worse with each chemo IV. Had difficulty walking in a straight line after the last IV and sort of lurch from side to side.

2012 was a life changing year for us, with us being evicted, moving to a new city and finding out that I had cancer and had surgery a few days later. Spent a total of 32 days in hospital in Houston.

July 20 would be the first of two mass shootings in the United States, when a gunman killed 12 and injured 58 in an Aurora, Colorado theater.

December 14 would bring the second mass shootings of 2012, when a man kills 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, along with six adults, before killing himself.

A gallon of gas would rise to $3.89 during 2012. It is about 64 cents a gallon cheaper now in 2013.

House rent average goes over the $1,000 mark for the first time, as it rose to $1,045 a month.

A pound of bacon which was $2.96 in 2008 had risen to $4.48 in 2012.


2013 – This year should be a very interesting year, as the chemotherapy continues through May and it will be interesting to learn the results of the bloodwork after the last week of chemotherapy. May 21 will be another important date for us as we return to Houston for another C-scan, which will show if the cancer is completely gone or has returned.

We don’t know what this year holds, but we plan to remain positive, even if the news is bad and I don’t plan on being negative, regardless of what happens in 2013.







Memories of a Lifetime: 2006-2010

2006 – I would return to my job at Louisiana Community Care, after losing my job with Coastal Culvert. I primarily worked in a group home with seven guys at the time. It was a very demanding job as I had to assist them with their hygiene and washed and dried all their clothes. I would walk in the door at the group home at 4:30 PM and wouldn’t sit down for the first time till about 11 PM, when I had to write down the events of the day for each individual client.

One time a client who ate too fast threw up and I was mopping up the mess and he came up to me and hit me in the head and stomach with a 1-2 punch. Needless to say I was more wary around that client from then on. Another time he woke up during the night wanting chips and when I didn’t give him any he overturned a table and dumped a pitcher of Kool-Aid on the kitchen floor.

I made a point of having all the clothes washed and put away and the floors all swept and mopped, by the time the 12:30 AM relief worker came in. I worked there till around Christmas and retired, since I was now 62 and eligible for Social Security.

Andrew and Rhonda in 2006 at Matthew’s baseball game.

Wikipedia lists very few newsworthy events during 2006 in the United States, with Twitter being launched that year, which turned out to be the most newsworthy event of the year.

Gasoline was selling for $3.03 on August 11, but had dipped to $2.21 by November 17.


2007 – We moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in August of 2007, as we followed my daughter, son-in-law, when he was named manager of a Knoxville Domino’s store. About three weeks later, when things didn’t work out well with the job they moved back to Pineville, Louisiana.

Since we had used our savings to make the move we remained in Knoxville till December of 2010.

We had a traumatic event that August, when Rhonda was driving down a Knoxville street and was hit by a car turning out into traffic, from an apartment parking lot. Rhonda sustained a broken foot in the accident and was unable to go for a job interview, that was scheduled the next week. We moved to another apartment in the same apartment complex in September and Justin and me moved everything by ourselves, which was a day long job, since Rhonda was unable to help.

Then I went to work for Luxottica, a company that makes lenses for eyeglasses in Knoxville. It was another typical manufacturing job, with pressure to produce the most lenses in the least time. I was operating four machines at once in the fining department. After finishing the fining, we would take the lenses to the next department the polishing department, which made the lenses look even better. This was another temporary Westaff job, so the job played out soon and was without work again. We were given an eviction notice from the apartment on Thanksgiving Eve, but managed to stay there till I found work the next month.

I went to work as a caregiver with Evergreen Ministries in Knoxville, whose headquarters are located in Haughton, Louisiana in December of 2007. The job went well and I remained there till August of 2008. I was required to take a test, to be allowed to administer meds to the clients and scored 91 on the test. I wasn’t allowed to give meds, till I had passed the test, but it made it easier to work in homes, that needed a certified meds person, since some workers never were certified to give meds.

This was the year that the Va. Tech student killed 30 people. My brother lived next to the campus and was driving on campus toward work, when he saw several police cars speeding toward the site of the shootings.

The big news in technology was the introduction of the iPhone and the Nintendo Wii.

Average income was over $50,000 but doubt many of those people worked at the Alexandria Town Talk.

Price of a gallon of gas was $3.38, which is more than it is now six years later, with it being in the $3.25 range in DeRidder, Louisiana area.

An ounce of gold is $630, compared to when I was growing up, when it was $35 an ounce. Someone that had bought 100 ounces of gold at $35 an ounce for $3500 would have seen their gold raise in value to $63,000 for that 100 ounces in 2007.


2008 – Would continue to work for Evergreen Ministries till August of 2008, when Rhonda found a better paying job at Comcast working in their call center. We only had one vehicle, since our Ford Contour had been totaled in the wreck in August of 2007, so only one of us could work.

Would move into this house in Knoxville in 2008:

Our home in Knoxville, Tennessee from August 2008 till December 2010.


We joined Piney Grove Baptist Church in Knoxville and would sing special music there many times and would sometimes be a replacement song leader. The prayers of the congregation had a lot to do, with Rhonda surviving a life or death surgery in 2010.

The average income dipped $10,000 during the year to $40,000.

Gasoline had risen one cent to $3.39 in 2008, while a barrel of crude oil was selling for a record $147.

The average rent for a house was now $800 and the housing market totally collapsed as the value of houses declined precipitously.


2009 – Rhonda drove me to Groves, Texas to spend time with my daughter’s family in June and attended a Astros-Cubs game on June 9. Rhonda drove back to Knoxville, while to boarded a plane to Knoxville from Houston later. While I was gone a tornado hit our home in Knoxville, but luckily the only real damage was to the deck as a tree fell on it.

A tornado hit our deck in June of 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Rhonda would experience the first signs of having a serious health problem about November of 2009, when she was sent home from work being very sick. The next year would see Rhonda have her large intestines removed and will have more on that in the 2010 post.

Monthly rent fell to $675 in 2009, while a gallon of gasoline dropped to $2.73, which is about 52 cents cheaper, than it is in 2013. A barrel of oil which had peaked at $147 in 2008 was now only $53 a barrel.


2010 – Westaff found me a temporary job working at a call center, which involved taking orders for Talbots a clothing company, which had an office in Knoxville. Temp job is an apt description for this job, since it lasted for about two hours. I completed one transaction and then heard the customer telling someone “If this order comes out right it will be a miracle”. My career as a call center employee came to a screeching halt about two minutes later.

March 1, 2010 was a monumental day for Rhonda, as she had her large intestines removed that day and she also smoked her last cigarette that day and hasn’t smoked since. The surgeon found out she had colon cancer that day, but the colon had already been removed and he also found out that Rhonda had diabetes.

The surgery was on Monday and it was on the Thursday night before Rhonda was to go home, that everything went terribly wrong. She went into septic shock and was moved into intensive care. The doctors were at a loss of what to do, before deciding the next day to perform an ileostomy on Rhonda. Her organs were shutting down and was having problems breathing when the surgery started. The surgery went well, but the surgeon told us, that he didn’t expect Rhonda to be alive the next Monday, after the Friday surgery was performed, but was shocked to see that she was still alive.

Rhonda and me after her second surgery in four days, while she was in a six day coma at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in March,2010.


Rhonda was in a coma for six days and didn’t wake up till March 11 on the 16th birthday of Justin. Her sisters had driven from Louisiana to Tennessee, but Rhonda was in the coma the whole time they were there. I did all the housework till Rhonda was feeling able to do it that next summer.

I would return to work at Evergreen Ministries in July of 2010 and would remain there till a couple of days, before we moved to Sulphur, Louisiana. I enjoyed the work and didn’t miss any days of work. Had one close call, when driving the clients home and the brakes failed. I managed to get up on the sidewalk, to avoid hitting a car and drove into a parking lot and stopped the company van.

After the hospitalization and recovery we were ready to return home to Louisiana and left Knoxville. It was 16 the morning we left Knoxville, but when we arrived in Sulphur it was 78 degrees, which is even warm for Sulphur late in December.

Our relatives helped us unload the truck in about a half hour or so. It had taken us three days to load the truck in Knoxville, so it was good to unload it fast.

2010 was a slow news year, with no major story listed at the Wikipedia site.

The Apple iPad is released in 2010.

A gallon of gasoline cost $2.73 and a barrel of crude oil was selling for $73.00 a barrel, which was $20 more than the 2009 price.

Price of gold had skyrocketed to $1237 an ounce, which was $1202 more than the price I remembered as a youngster.




Memories of a Lifetime: 2001-2005

Grandson Mark Geisel who was born one day after my birthday.


2001 – Mark Geisel was born on October 15, 2001 in Sulphur, Louisiana, while his father was the manager at the Domino’s Pizza place in Sulphur.  Mark has done very well in school and loves to read. He plays goalie and other positions on his soccer team. His red hair goes back a long way in family history. My mom had a red-headed brother, that was born in the 1920’s or 1930’s. My mom had two red-headed sons and a red-headed daughter and a daughter with auburn hair. I was the black sheep of the family with black hair.

We moved to Gibbons Street about this time and then moved to Linda Drive later that year in the Kingsville area.

September 11, 2001 – A day that will live in infamy.


September 11, 2001 was a day that none of us will forget. I had called the mechanic that morning checking on our car in his shop. He asked me if I had the television on and that is when I found out about the horrific events of that day. The memory of those planes slamming into the twin towers of the World Trade Center will forever be ingrained in my memory.

I couldn’t comprehend how four planes could be hijacked the same morning and that day let us know how lax our airport security was at the time. The nation was in chaos at the time, with aircraft being grounded all over the country. It was eerie hearing about passengers on these planes talking to loved ones, on their cell phones telling, about the horrors of what they were experiencing and then knowing those same people on the cell phones died a violent death minutes later.

It is difficult to believe that September 11 of this year will be the 12th anniversary of that horrific day.

The “War on Terrorism” begins with the invasion of Afghanistan.

Dale Earnhardt dies during a crash in the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Richard Reid known as the “shoe bomber” attempted to blow up an American Airlines plane.

The first iPod was released and Wikipedia was launched on the internet.

The average rent jumped $40 from $675 in 2000 to $715 in 2001. The price of a gallon of gas jumped from $1.26 in 2000 to $1.41 in 2001. A loaf of bread cost $1.82.

2002 – My favorite memory of this year was the 40th class reunion of Pineville High School. I had never attended a reunion until 2002. If I was scheduled to work on the day of reunion, then I would usually work, but this year I made sure I had that week off, so I could attend. It was great seeing classmates from the 1962 class, for the first time in many years. I hadn’t run into some of them even though they had never left Pineville. The saddest part of the reunion was when the members of our class that had passed on were mentioned in a Power Point presentation, with Duane Yates singing the Lord’s Prayer in the background. Sadly Duane died before our 50th reunion in 2012. Seeing the teachers and students from 1962 again made this a special time in my life.

The price of gasoline escalated to $1.61 a gallon, a 36 cent a gallon rise since the $1.26 gasoline of 2000, which was two years earlier.


2003 – This turned out to be the last full year that I worked at the Alexandria Town Talk newspaper. The paper was never the same, after it was acquired by the Gannett Corporation. The Christmas bonus we had received while the paper was owned by the Smith family and the Central Newspapers chain was the first thing to go, under the auspices of the Gannett mega corporation. That $150 we had received each Christmas was now a thing of the past, as was the free newspapers for employees.

Iraq is invaded on March 19 by the United States military.

Saddam Hussein is captured by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division.

Gasoline prices jumped to 1.83, a jump of 57 cents a gallon since 2000.


2004 – My 36 years at Town Talk and 38 years in newspaper production ended in 2004, when I retired with my last day of work being Halloween night. I spent most of my working life at Town Talk. In fact it was my first job after returning from Vietnam in 1966. I had seen my pay go from $1.40 an hour in 1966 to $13.50 an hour in 2004. Still I never took home more than $28,000 in any year, that I worked for the Town Talk.

We had a traumatic event  this year when my stepson Justin was sleeping in the den and was woken by a burglar, who was rifling through cabinets and drawers, while looking for painkillers. Neither Justin or the burglar knew anyone else was in the house. Thankfully, Justin thought the burglar was a relative, who told Justin he was taking stuff because his mom owed him money.

A few days before the burglary a man had knocked on our door and wanted to know if anyone lived in the trailer next door. Evidently, he was casing the house and had a timeline of when my wife Rhonda and me would be at work. Anyway he had left, about 30 minutes before I arrived home from work that night.

Justin followed him from room to room and the burglar told him to tell his mom, that he would return the next night. The burglar did have an encounter with our cat, when the cat bit him and the burglar said “ouch”. The burglar would be later caught due to his own stupidity. He overdosed and the paramedics noticed painkillers all over his trailer, which included some painkillers my wife had in our house, after having major surgery. He lived only about five houses up the street from us and was arrested for burglary and sent to prison.

Facebook was launched in 2004 and was originally only for students at Harvard University.

Strongest earthquake in 40 years hits near Indonesia and the earthquake and resulting tsunami would take 290,000 lives.

Martha Stewart is convicted of felony and sentenced to five years in prison.

Gasoline continued to skyrocket to $2.10 an increase of 84 cents a gallon from the year 2000. Oil peaked at $50 a barrel in 2004.


2005 – I returned to work in 2005, when I was hired as a caregiver by Louisiana Community Care in Ball, Louisiana. Sometimes I would start a shift at 8PM and would finish the shift at 8:30 AM the next morning. It wasn’t hard work, but it was detail work, that required a set schedule of administering medicine. I found out later in Tennessee, that anyone administering medicine in Tennessee was required to take a course and pass a test to give meds to a client. However, Louisiana required no certification to give meds. I was giving meds my first night. There was a voluntary meds certification, but it wasn’t required at this time.

Later that year I went to work for Plasti-Pak in Kingsville area and I learned how much work is involved with factory work. I operated a box making machine for Procter and Gamble products the first night there. We went to work at 6:45 PM and the shift would end at 7:15 the next morning, so we would get a full 12 hours per shift, with a half hour break to eat. It was tiring and exhausting work and dangerous work. I back over my foot with a hand truck, which resulted in losing two toenails. I bought steel-toed boots the next day. It was a temp job with Westaff and the job played out soon and I was one of first laid off, since I was one of the last ones hired.

Then I went to work for Coastal Culvert operating out of Eunice, Louisiana. It was the easiest job of my life, after working the hardest job of my life at Plasti-Pak. My job was to be the manager of a new Alexandria branch for the company. My main job was to check inventory of the culvert pipes outside the office. I had to call the Eunice office each morning, to verify I was at work. Then I would read the paper, listen to old-time radio shows or watch Andy Griffith shows on the DVD player till it was time to go home that afternoon. The job lasted from November till February of 2006, before they decided to close down the Alexandria office, since there was little to no business.

I can’t say enough good things about the Coastal Culvert executives. They invited me to their annual Christmas dinner and they gave me a $100 Christmas bonus, even though I had been there less than a month.

Some of the damage from Hurricane Katrina seen the day after.

The major event of 2005 in Louisiana is when Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coast of Louisiana and a break in the levee resulted in 80 percent of New Orleans being flooded. 1,577 died from Katrina in Louisiana. Many New Orleans residents waited five days for food and  water to arrive in the city. It was a colossal case of bad planning by government officials, who let people go for days without food or water.

Katrina didn’t cause much damage in Alexandria-Pineville area, but Hurricane Rita was a different story as many trees fell on houses in the area, with fallen trees closing roads.

Lance Armstrong won an amazing seventh Tour de France championship, as he demonstrated how he could live better through chemistry.

Video gamers saw the Microsoft X-Box 360 launched in 2005.

The price of gasoline climbed to $3.18 in 2005 an increase of almost $2 a gallon from the $1.26 price of 2000.





Memories of a Lifetime: 1986-1990

For some reason my memory of the 1986-1990 period in my life is drawing a blank for the most part. Anyone with memories of what happened in Pineville-Alexandria during these years are welcome to comment.

1986 – Halley’s comet appeared in 1986 and won’t reappear till the year 2061. It had last appeared before 1986 in 1911. IBM launches the first laptop computer 27 years ago. Smoking was banned on all public transportation, in the United States which had to be tough for smokers on coast to coast airplane flights. The nicotine patch was invented in 1986. A Plymouth Colt could be purchased for $4,999. A gallon of gas only cost 89 cents. Average rent was $385 a month. Top Gun, Platoon and Crocodile Dundee were popular movies in 1986.

1987 – A Private First Class in the Army was earning $9,385.20 a year. When I joined the Army in 1962 a recruit earned $936 a year as a E-1. A gallon of gas was 89 cents, the same price as in 1986. The U.S. stock market crashed on October 19 with a 508 point drop. Fox Broadcasting made its debut 26 years ago. A seven-day Caribbean cruise cost $1195.

1988 – The price of a gallon of gasoline remained relatively stable, rising to only 91 cents, after being 89 cents the previous two years. Movie tickets were $3.50 and average rent was now $420. Yellowstone National Park had 250 separate fires in 1988 that destroyed 793,880 acres of the park, which was a third of the total acreage of the park. A Logitech mouse cost $89.99, while a Amiga 500 with a color monitor cost $849.

1989 – I had surgery in July of 1989 at Rapides Hospital. I would be off work for six weeks. I would then work from 1989-2004 at the Town Talk , while missing a total of one day of work and was in the hospital that day, after being admitted from emergency room, due to emergency room physician thinking I may had a blood clot, but it turned out to be a muscle tear. I think I got my work ethic from my dad who didn’t miss a day of work over a 40 year period.

That same month before the surgery I had gone to grocery store to get snacks to watch the 1989 All Star game. By the time I got back an earthquake had hit the San Francisco area and film was being shown of the players leaving the stadium with their families. Then we saw hours of coverage of the devastation in the area. Hard to believe 24 years have passed since that date.

Other big news in 1989 is that the Yugo cars went bankrupt. The Yugo is 39th on the list of worst cars in history. One feature was the rear window defroster, which kept your hands warm, while you pushed it. The car looked like it had been assembled at gunpoint. The article also has this to say about the Yugo:

The engines went ka-blooey, the electrical system — such as it was — would  sizzle, and things would just fall off.

1990 – I think this is the year my son Steve played football for the Pineville High School Rebels. He played end and endured practices from summer till the end of the season, but only played in the last game of the season, for only one play and the worst thing is that his mom had left the stadium, by the time he played in the game and I was at work, so no family member was there to see him in that one play. I still respect his work ethic to stick with it all season, even if he didn’t get to play but in that one play.

Gasoline had skyrocketed to $1.34 by 1990. Today gasoline is in the $3.25 range in our area. A Super Nintendo cost $159. Cabbage Patch Kids were $29.99. A six volt Batman car could be purchased for $199 and had a top speed of 3 MPH. A Smith Corona Daisy Wheel Typewriter could be purchased for $179, while a cellular car phone could be bought for $325.

Memories of a Lifetime: 1961-1965

1961 – Entered the 12th grade, after spending two years in the 10th grade at Pineville High School, due to going to summer school for the third straight year.

John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president on January 20.

Remember listening to Chicago White Sox games on KSYL AM, out of Alexandria, Louisiana, with Bob Elson and Milo Hamilton as the announcers. This was the summer that Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were battling to break Babe Ruth’s season home run record of 60. Bob and Milo would give updates during the White Sox games, about what Roger and Mickey were doing in the home run race. Maris would hit his 61st home run on October 1, which broke the 34-year-old record of Ruth. Surprisingly only 21,000 fans were present to see the achievement of Maris.

The ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion ended two days later. It was a failed attempt to remove Fidel Castro from power. He had taken power in 1959 and is still in power today 54 years later.

1962 – K-Mart would open its first store in Garden City Michigan on March 1 and the company is now 51-years-old. July 2 would see the first Wal-Mart store opened in Rogers, Arkansas.

My senior class graduated in May, but it would be September before I received my diploma, because I had failed English IV.

I joined the Army Reserve in Alexandria, Louisiana and was sent to Fort Polk for basic training in October. We were kept so busy at Fort Polk during basic, that we had no clue of the magnitude of the Cuban missile crisis that October. The only clue we had been what we said when we marched:

I don’t know but I believe

I’ll be in Cuba by Christmas Eve

Little did we know we were on the brink of a nuclear disaster and we didn’t know about it till we finished basic training in December.

I won’t mention any names, but a soldier from Wardville thought it would be fun, to yell from the barracks upstairs at a sergeant saying “Hey nutbrain”. That was not a smart thing to do on his part. That sergeant did not waste any time, as he made his way up in the stairs in record time. The soldier was told in no uncertain terms, that calling his sergeant “nutbrain” was not acceptable behavior.

1963 – Was on leave when the year started, but would board a passenger train for Indianapolis, Indiana at the Missouri Pacific depot in January. That depot was later torn down, but assembled in a new location in downtown Alexandria.

I can remember seeing snow falling when we went through St. Louis, then after arriving in Indianapolis saw several inches of snow on the ground. I learned what a Indiana winter was like, while being stationed at the Adjustant General’s School at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Some soldiers called it “Uncle Ben’s Rest Home”. Attended the postal school there from January through April, before returning to Louisiana having finished my six months of active duty.

It took attending a few Army Reserve meetings, before I decided to join the Regular Army and joined in May of 1963. I requested to be sent to Germany or Hawaii and received orders for Hawaii. Was flown to San Francisco and took a helicopter to the Oakland Army Terminal.

Spent eight days at the terminal before boarding flight to Hawaii. We were on a slow MATS transport plane, so the trip took several hours. When I arrived at Schofield Barracks the home of the 25th Infantry Division I heard some of the soldiers talking about having just a few days left before being discharged. I figured out that I had only 1,095 days left and they got a big kick out of that.

Hawaii is a beautiful state and liked being stationed there. The Army Service Club conducted tours of the island of Oahu and would take us on a bus trip around the island. Wish I had taken some color photos of the scenery, but only took black and white photos.

One of my first memories was seeing the Beach Boys at Conroy Bowl, the arena where entertainers appeared. Remember seeing Johnny Cash and June Carter and Sue Thompson there. It was a highlight for me, when Sue Thompson shook hands with me, while singing one of her songs.

I loved going to the beach, since the Service Club took the soldiers on busses to the different beaches each weekend. I would listen to music on my radio, while looking across the ocean toward California. Surf music was at its height in 1963 and even today I Heart radio has a station, with only surf music being featured.

By far the biggest event of 1963 was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22. The regular company postal clerk was on leave, so I was the temporary clerk while he was gone. I had my radio on in the post office, when I heard the announcement that JFK had been shot. I immediately informed the company commander, who had not heard about it yet.

Meanwhile the postal clerk on leave to New York was flying standby and his flight was rerouted from California to Texas, which landed in Dallas about the same time as the assassination. So he got caught in the middle of all the commotion, even though he wasn’t even thinking of having to go through Dallas.

Just missed by a few minutes of seeing Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down in the Dallas Police station on the TV, in the dayroom but not too disappointed since I didn’t really want to see it anyway.

A few days later we would march in a memorial observance of JFK’s death and it was a surreal experience, knowing that the president of the United States had been assassinated and marching on the parade grounds brought it home.

Went to a Christmas show in December, that really made me homesick, when they sang “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”.

1964 – Went on temporary duty to Molokai, the island on which Father Damien established his leper colony. The ride there on a boat was a rocky one and wound up getting very sick, even if was only a 20 something mile trip from Oahu.

Can remember it pouring down that week a lot and that I heard on the radio, that Lyndon B. Johnson had defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election.

I can remember flying home to Pineville in October of 1964, my first trip home since leaving in May of 1963. I took my leave in October, so I could see the World Series while I was at home. I think it was this trip, that when flying back saw professional wrestler Sputnik Monroe aboard the plane. Coincidentally, he and his wrestling brother Rocket both lived in Alexandria and had performed at Jimmie Thompson’s Arena. That reminds me of the time when my brother, who knows sign language saw a deaf wrestler Silento Rodriguez being knocked from the ring and went over and signed to him, asking if he was OK and the wrestler signed back that he was OK.

1995 – This was the year that I was sent to the Big Island named Hilo, to work at the Camp Pohokoloa (sp) post office. I remember one payday, that we sold $28,000 worth of money orders and that I came up $107 short at the end of the day. The other postal worker working that day later was court-martialed, for stealing money from the post office, so I have always wondered if he didn’t take the missing money. Worst thing is that my wages were garnished till the $107 was paid back to the post office.

The post office was at a high altitude and I could see snow-capped mountains in the distance. It was cold there, even if it was Hawaii. Tsunamis hit Hilo in 1946 and 1960 killing 160 and 61 people respectively.

Saw a missionary from Pineville who was living in Hilo at this time. My mom had told me where to find her and I had a nice visit with her.





In the Path of Tropical Storm Isaac


This latest tracking map indicates that Isaac will engulf almost the entire state of Louisiana. Now that we are living in a trailer, there is even more concern than usual about the impending storm, which is strengthening and should be classified as a hurricane soon.

We were fortunate to have missed Hurricane Katrina for the most part in 2005, but were hit by Hurricane Rita as it toppled several trees in the Cenla area of Louisiana.  Trees blocked several streets and roads in the area and I can remember my son-in-law, who managed the local Domino’s Pizza store at the time keeping the store open for people who had lost their power and were unable to cook a hot meal.

However, Hurricane Audrey hit Cenla with full force in 1957. That was the first hurricane that I can remember and it knocked down a very tall pine tree on our property. Audrey had already killed about 500 in Cameron, Louisiana area before reaching Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana.

I can remember not having electricity for three days and my dad going to Jimmie Hoyt’s Truck Stop to purchase some dry ice. I was particulary worried about my baby sister, who had been born three months before Hurricane Audrey and how she would react during the storm, but as far as I can remember she handled it alright.

We don’t know what the future holds in store for us in the next two or three days, but right now we in the path of a storm that is out in the Gulf of Mexico gaining strength.

If the storm spawns tornadoes, there could be even more danger to people living in trailers, since tornadoes have lifted trailers off their foundation and sent them airborne. I don’t mind flying, but would rather not be flying around in a trailer.

Nothing is certain as of this minute, since storms can change course and go a different direction, but right now we have every reason to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

I remember when Hurricane Rita was first supposed to hit land at Corpus Christi, Texas, but it kept drifting eastward till it hit land around the Lake Charles, Louisiana area. The track of Isaac seems to be moving westward. It looked like the worst of it would hit Florida, but now it is on track to hit Louisiana later this week.

All we can do now is prepare for the storm and wait to see what happens when the storm or hurricane hits. We are about 100 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, so that may spare us the worst of the storm. Last month we were living 50 miles closer to the Gulf of Mexico, so we will see if the extra 50 miles inland makes a difference, when it comes to damage from the possible hurricane.

People living near the Gulf of Mexico know that during hurricane season, they have to be prepared to evacuate on short notice and this is one of those times. Those living further north in central Louisiana are also affected by the storm, as they buy generators and stock up on batteries, food and supplies in preparation for the storm. They may not be hit by the full brunt of the storm, but falling trees can knock down power lines, which causes homes to have no electricity.

It would be great if the storm goes off in another direction, but it doesn’t hurt to be ready for the worst.