23 July 2009

Hero Worship

Can you hear me now? Jimmy liked technology and whenever he called me on his cell phone, he started the conversation with that phrase. Jimmy was my big brother and my hero. His name was James Leroy Riggs.
I remember one summer day when I was little. I got up early and as soon as I finished breakfast, I ran to the front porch to sit and wait for him. Jimmy and his family were driving up from Texas for a visit and they were due to arrive that day. Remember this was in the days before cell phones and calling cards. We had no idea what time he would arrive.
Every time a car came into view, I would stand up and run to the curb. The excitement was almost unbearable. I just new each car was his.
After what seemed like hours, and several hundred cars that did not turn in at our driveway, I had an
idea. I ran into the house to ask Mom what color his car was. Mom didn't know and Dad couldn't remember. (Dad thought the whole thing was quite funny) Back out to the porch..... After several hundred more cars, or at least that is how it seemed to an excited little kid, I had another bright idea. I ran back in to the house and asked Dad what color Texas license plates were. Don't ask me how he knew, or why I was so certain that he would, but he did. Unfortunately, it did not help me a bit. Texas plates back then were black and white, same as Utah. (Do you remember when License plates were
just two colors, no pictures or .com address?) Back out to the porch and jumping up for several more cars. It is a good thing kids seem to have an unending supply of energy.
I seriously doubt if that stretch of Monroe saw even one hundred cars on any given day back then. Let us just say that when you are little and anxious for something, numbers get bigger and time stretches out. I don't know what time they finally arrived, but I was waiting. He must have been hot and tired but when that car door opened, he acted like he was as happy to see me, as I was to see him.

Jimmy was my biggest brother and I had a bad case of hero worship where he was concerned (still do). He was not, however my only brother. Pete spent a lot more time playing with me. Pete is only seven years older than me, Jimmy was twenty. Pete was always patient with me and he taught me a lot. I have a lot of great memories of Pete teaching me to play chess, or Parcheesi, or cards. Jimmy's advantage was that he was seldom there. I did not understand all that back then, I do now. I love Pete very much and when it comes right down to it, Pete
probably had more influence in who I turned out to
be. Pete is a different kind of hero, he has always been very human. Jimmy was larger than life
and this post is for him.
Jimmy was my Father's child from a previous marriage. Back then it was unheard of for a Father to get custody. Initially Jimmy went with his Mother. According to him, she brought them up to believe that my Father was a horrible person. When, as a teenager Jimmy kept getting into trouble. Her way of handling it was to give him back to my Dad. Jimmy and Dad were on their own for awhile. I don't know the exact dates, but they spent
part of the late 1950's traveling from town to town looking for work.
They both had a rather warped sense of humor and charming smiles. Dad was 5 ft 3 or so with wavy blond hair. Jimmy as a younger adult was 6 ft 1 with coal black hair, the smile however was unmistakably the same. Dad always said he was so much taller from having to have his rear end kicked regularly.
Jimmy told me the story once of a traveling show that stopped in one of the towns where they were working. The show had a gorilla that had been trained to box. Every night the Gorilla's owner would put him in a ring and offer to pay $100. to anyone who could stay in the ring with it for three rounds or knock it out. (Remember, these were different times, ) Dad took Jimmy to watch the first night. There were several attempts. Each costing the would be boxer $25. None of the men managed to last even the first round.
When Dad insisted on going back to watch the next night, Jimmy started to worry. When Jimmy told me this story, it was several years after our Father had died. Jimmy admitted that he wasn't sure if he was more worried about Dad, or the $25. he just knew it was a bad idea. Sure enough, after several other men lost their money, Dad climbed into the ring. This was nuts! Not quite as nuts as it sounded. Dad was an experienced boxer, he boxed for the army, (but that is yet another story). He was also a very smart man. Dad put on the gloves. Jimmy said he couldn't stand to watch, but he couldn't look away. The bell rang. Dad put his hands together and bowed low, the gorilla bowed low too. On the way back up, Dad's fist connected with the gorilla's jaw and it was out cold. Dad won the $100. He explained later that the gorilla was evidently trained to mimic it's opponent. If the person in the ring threw a right hook, the gorilla ducked, then threw a right hook. With the advantage of a much longer reach and greater strenght, no one could connect with it. Once Dad figured that out, "all he had to do" was figure out how to get the chin within reach for the first blow. He knew he would not get a second.
Eventually Dad and Jimmy returned to Ogden and they rented an apartment from a lady named Ruth. She was a friend of friends and as some of you know, she was my Mom. Dad married her in 1959, and they had two more girls.
Jimmy joined the army at 17 and he went off to Vietnam. My earliest memories of that war are of the TV news. I remember watching and knowing that my big brother was over there. I wondered if I would see him, but I was not old enough to understand that he was in danger. He was wounded in action. He said the bullet ricocheted off a rock and hit him in the rear. Dad told me that Jimmy was carrying someone else out of a burning helicopter when he was shot. According to Dad, Jimmy didn't even drop the guy. He just kept going till it was safe to stop. Jimmy had what was left of that bullet on a key chain he carried for years. Jimmy got out after two tours in the Army. He moved to Texas and worked as a Police Officer. He went back in the Army Reserves. He retired as a Master Sargent (MSgt) in the Army that is an E8.
When I joined the Air Force, Jimmy was one of the few who thought it was a good idea. He knew I could do it and he told me so. Whenever we were both in the same place, there were a lot of good natured jokes about Army tough vs Air Force smart. Most important. There is something about being in the military, war time or peace time, that sets you apart from everyone else. Jimmy got it. He might not have understood a lot of things about me, but he knew who MSgt Rawson was, and he was proud of her. The last few years of his life, were my last few years in the military. When I got promoted to MSgt (Air Force E7), he was very proud. He drove from Texas for the promotion ceremony. There is a tradition that if your stripes are "tacked on" well enough by someone you respect, they won't ever come off. Tacking on usually involves a good slug and sometimes bruises. Jimmy was on one side, my commander at the time, Major Fredricks, was on the other. I did get bruises, it was an honor. I retired in those stripes three years later. Jimmy didn't make it to my retirement. He died the year before from Pancreatic Cancer. A painful, awful way to die. There may be some link to the Agent Orange he was exposed to in Vietnam.
The first photo is him in uniform as a young man. I have another that looks just like Elvis from the same time frame. The second is Jimmy with our sister Paula. The next few are just him and the last is the scrapbook page from my pinning ceremony.

19 July 2009

Summer goodies

Summer time! My school schedule is pretty hectic right now, but my sweet Hubby makes sure I take time to enjoy life too. I had a birthday this month, (I won't tell you how many this is). This is part of my birthday pie.
Birthday pie? Yup! Pumpkin pie is my favorite desert. My sweet Hubby makes the best pie, so every year for my birthday, he makes me a pie. He usually makes an individual one as well as the regular size. It was good!

This elk is from our last visit to the Smokey Mountains. Isn't he magnificent. I wish there was some way I could show you the size of this guy, he is huge. He was wary, and kept an eye out, but he knew he was bigger than me.

A summer visitor on the back steps. I can't believe how close he let me get. He is a salamander. They are supposed to be lucky. I like them because they eat bugs.

Charleston beauty! One of my favorite summer goodies is a trip to Charleston. This window box is just one of many lovely examples.

This little mini garden is around the base of a fountain in front of Charleston Place Hotel. No we don't stay there, but we do pop in for the shops on the ground level. They have a Godiva Chocolate shop among others.

Charleston has impressive old and new ironwork. There are a few artists still producing and repairing it. Lovely.

From a peak into a garden.

A new shop we found. "V. Smith Gallery" This is the owner, Vicki Smith, showing off crystal to my Sweet Heart. She has quite a selection of crystal at very reasonable prices, as well as original paintings and jewelry.
She is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about everything she sells.

Charleston is one of those cities where you really have to look up. The sky line is full of great architectural details. The next three photos are just a few examples. Do be careful though, I frequently stub my toes. The side walk is not always even.

See what I mean?

The weather cooperated perfectly. This rain storm cut loose less than five minutes after we got back in the car.

What sort of goodies are you enjoying this summer?


17 July 2009

A taste of things to come.

Still crazy busy but the camera never rests. Here are a few to keep your intrest, more soon to come.

13 July 2009

short note

Hey folks, I haven't forgotten you. Tons of school work at the moment. I will get a post up in the next few days.

04 July 2009

Hunting Island, SC

Have you ever been to Hunting Island in South Carolina? We just discovered it a few weeks ago.
The park is one of the most popular in the state so it may be busy on weekends. We went in the middle of the week and it was not bad. Entry to the park was $4.00 for adults and another $2.00 each to climb the light house (yes, their is a light house you can climb).
Let me tell you about a few things that make this island special.
The beach, yes, I love the beach. I love hunting for seashells and getting my feet wet. I love the
feel of sand between my toes. I am not much for
laying around on the beach, I sunburn much too
quickly for that. If given ample amounts of time
I have been known to build sand castles. I have played on the beach in California, Texas, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Mississippi and several different beaches in South Carolina. I have never found one I did not like. This one however, is easily a favorite.
If you have read this blog before, then you probably know that another thing I love is; walking in the woods with my Sweetheart. Hunting Island has woodland trails too. The first
photo features the trail we took.
The beach itself has two different areas, one is a typical sandy spot with plenty of sun bathers, sea shells etc. The other, is left to nature. The rangers do not remove natural refuse. Don't get me wrong, I did not see any garbage so they do keep it clean. What is left is an atmospheric wonderland full of things to look at. Moody and quiet. There were a few other people poking around, but not many, it felt like we had the area to ourselves.
The third photo shows a piece of driftwood that is covered with small sea creature shells. There are
several different variations of these in all sizes.
The next two show some of the fantastic formations of wood. I don't know if they are driftwood or if they grew there at some point.

Next we have some of the local residents. A little on the crabby side, but hey, cute anyway. Either there are two different kinds or some are marked differently. They can be very camera shy. I took 8 or 10 shots of this guy to get the one good one you see here. He would not hold still!

I got up close to this one in order to take a photo of the shells. The patterns all vary just a little. They reminded me of old Native American pottery. These two guys were hiding on the log. I wonder if they are going out for Sushi?

Close up. Isn't he cute? This guy is about 1.5 inches across (that is about 3.8 cm).

Did I tell you there is a light house? It is a lovely old thing. It was built in 1873. The web site says it is the only one in the state you can climb to the top in.
We did. (Have I mentioned that I am a little afraid of heights) My Sweet Hubby provided the inspiration and somehow managed to get me up these stairs to the top. I took a photo from the bottom looking up, but couldn't take one looking back down the stairs I did well just to get up there.
I took several lovely photos from the top. It was a hot day (high 90's Fahrenheit, about 32 C)
but the breeze was just right.
The last photo is my Sweet Hubby looking down from the walkway around the top of the lighthouse.
We spent an afternoon and are planning to go back. You can rent cabins to stay on the island, maybe we will give them a try.
What do you think? Would you like to explore the island?
See you soon.


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