Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day (continued...)

As I've made my way through this Memorial Day, I'm thinking of another veteran in my family who deserves our thanks. My brother in law Mike is a Vietnam veteran whose experience during those years was anything but positive. However in recent years, he has embarked on a pretty amazing mission: to visit Vietnam memorials in all fifty states.

I was able to join Mike and his friend and fellow veteran Steve as they visited memorials in New Hampshire and Vermont. Everywhere we went, folks were interested to hear Mike's story and to help him find that elusive tiny memorial - or stretch of road - dedicated to a local hero who served in Vietnam.

I spent less than two days with Mike and Steve and quickly learned what an emotional roller coaster this venture is. At the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetary in Boscawen, NH, we learned that someone comes every night to play taps at sundown. Every night. Rain, shine or snow. The night we visited was no different.

Mike got to know this story, he got to know and thank the trumpeter (who was originally from the Upper Valley) and to include this as a chapter in his 50 state quest.

Read the details of all Mike's travels in his blog.

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I thought I'd post a few notes about some of the veterans in my life.

My Mom served in the WASP (Woman Airforce Service Pilots). She packed her bags in Michigan and traveled to Avenger Field in Sweetwater Texas to train with other civilian women to fly military aircraft. She towed targets and ferried planes - tasks that freed male pilots to fight overseas.

In the end around 25,000 woman applied to the WASP program and 1,074 graduated. For years, the WASPs were not even considered veterans. In 1977 Jimmy Carter changed that and last year the WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Here is my Mom being saluted by her military escort for the ceremony after receiving the medal.

My Dad served in the 34th bomber group of the 8th Air Force as a Flight Engineer on B-17s flying out of eastern England. Near the end of the war, the 34th participated in a little known humanitarian mission called Operation Chowhound by the Americans and Operation Manna by the British. Germany occupied Holland and during the latter part of the war deprived civilians access to food. Over 18,000 Dutch died during the winter of 1944 which became known as the Winter of Hunger.

In April and May of 1945, the RAF and the 8th Air Force started running food drops to Holland. Dad recalls flying to Utrecht and dropping rations into a stadium full of people who had somehow managed to spell out "Thanks Yanks". Years later, he met a young KLM Flight Engineer who said he and his family were eating tulip bulbs when the B-17s arrived.

My father in law Leon served in the U.S. Army during World War II in the 406th anti tank infantry regiment of the 102nd Infantry Division known as the Ozarks.

Lee diffused land mines which must have been terrifying work. His photos show what must have been some very tough times - this division worked its way all the way across Germany and was  just 50 miles from Berlin when the war in Europe ended.

My nephew Patrick served in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Cole and was one of the 17 sailors killed on October 12, 2000.

He is sadly forever frozen at 19 to us. He would be 30 years old now and I often think of what he would be doing with his life had it not been cut short so early.

Thanks to all these veterans and all veterans everywhere.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I also made a monochrome version of the Wave Swinger which brings out the myriad of detail on the contraption when you're not distracted by all the cool colors.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wave Swinger...

Playland in Ocean City, New Jersey

It was a blast checking out the rides at Playland, one of the two amusement parks in Ocean City. As the rides twirled, even the relatively sedate ferris wheel created beautiful nighttime patterns.

I don't know what was going on inside the Gravitron, but this thing was really spinning.

The Hurricane was one of the craziest. It is this long row of seats - with impressive looking shoulder harnesses - which is suspended and then twirled from two axels.

Finally the Cyclone is this big claw which swings and twists crazily. Not my cup of tea based on the screams I heard.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ocean City New Jersey...

We had a quick visit to Ocean City New Jersey over the weekend and were able to visit the boardwalk with our camera and tripod. It was somewhat cool and damp but there were still lots of folks out enjoying the sights, the food and the rides.

The rides close down at 10PM even on a Saturday night and we were too interested in trying to get some fun shots of the neon lights and we didn't get to go up in the ferris wheel.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Snow Crystals...

Crystals from one of the last snowfalls of the season on one of our windows...