The bird in the rear of this group is a Herring gull
Hunting for dinner on an overcast day.
Sea gull checking out all the control surfaces before take off.
I haven’t been blogging or even online much the past week or so and I think I owe those of you who follow me an explanation. In 2005 I took a bad fall at home which eventually led to surgery and a partially successful fusion of my lumbar spine. Post surgery I spent a year in a body brace 23 1/2 hours a day (I could take it off for showers), sleeping in a recliner while undergoing physical therapy three times a week.
The pay off was learning that the fusion healed improperly. My physical limitations and chronic pain meant I had to retire early. That was the worst part of the whole experience for me; going from working 60 to 70 hours a week to staying home and looking for something to do.
The financial hit my family took with my disability pension only amounting to about 33% of what I had been earning was bad enough but the mind numbing boredom was the worst part for me. Looking for something to occupy my time I decided to give photography a try. A web search for information about photography led me to Windows Live Spaces. I met a lot of great people including many photographers, both amateur and pro, who generously shared their expertise and took me under their wings. That’s when I started blogging and I’ve been at it pretty much non-stop ever since.Since Spaces bit the dust and I moved to Blogger and Word Press I’ve met even more wonderful people and that includes all of you..
There is another aspect of my injuries which I have to deal with from time to time. Occasionally bouts of depression set in. This is one of those times.
I lose interest in just about everything. In fact, my cameras haven’t been out of the bag in at least a week and I’ve spent more time staring at the idiot box than online.
My family have always been my rock especially during the periods of irritability and flashes of temper. How they put up with my temper and mood swings is beyond me but they do and I’m blessed to have their support. Most importantly they make sure I take my meds and mostly leave me alone until I snap out of it which is best for everyone concerned.
We’re going home for a visit thee end of next week and I know that will do wonders for me. One of the first things I do when we go home, after unloading the car, is head for the beach I grew up on. The sand between my toes, salt air and gentle hiss as the waves kiss the sand is more therapeutic than all the drugs I’ve been prescribed.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all of you who have sent messages asking if I was okay. I’m not but I am getting there. If nothing else, sitting on the beach next weekend watching sunsets like this will recharge my soul. As always, pictures to follow.
A few random shots from our trip home to Virginia Beach last week.
“The Rocks” at the western end of Chesapeake Beach (Chic’s Beach to locals), in the northwestern corner of Virginia Beach. I grew up on this stretch of sand and spent a good part of my teen age years sitting on those rocks staring out across the Chesapeake Bay trying to figure out life’s mysteries. No trip home is complete without a return to this site no matter what the weather or time of year. In the distance is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, spanning the 20 mile mouth of the bay.
Now, a few burds I managed to shoot while once again sitting on those rocks:
US Navy SH-60 Seahawk anti-submarine warfare helicopter. The special paint job is in honor of 100 years of Navy aviation. The first flight from a US Navy ship, the USS Birmingham riding at anchor in Hampton Roads, was made by Eugene Ely just a few miles east of Chesapeake Beach on 14 November 1910. Hampton Roads was also the site of the first battle between ironclad warships, the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, during the American Civil War.
The first landing on a Navy ship, USS Pennsylvania, was also made by Ely in San Francisco harbor on 18 January 1911 and the navy purchased it’s first airplane the following month, establishing the first Navy flight training facility at Coronado, California..
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to view the slide show. When I was Googling Chic’s Beach for links as I wrote this I was pretty stoked when it appeared 6th in the results. I made it a couple of years ago so some of you have already seen it. The little kids in the black and white shot are me and my oldest sister with our dad and one of his friends at Chic’s Beach in 1958. I literally grew up on that beach!
In another frame you’ll see a couple standing under a canopy on the beach. That’s my mom and dad, shot in the late 70s. The solitary girl looking out to sea in another frame is our youngest daughter, Laura. I took that shot 50 years after the shot of me, Dad and Crazy Horse (my sister) was made. There is another frame of two women, my mom and my wife, Frankie (aka THE BOSS) walking towards the setting sun taken this past June.
Hope you enjoyed the nickel tour.
Preparations are under way for our trip home to celebrate Mom’s 88th birthday.This means the sorting, packing, re-sorting, re-packing, re-re-sorting…..well you get the idea….. is underway and I’ll be out in the backyard cursing at the trees any minute now.
This is good practice for the trip home because it’s a proven fact that the idiot per mile population on Virginia’s highways increases exponentially as you travel east until you get to the gridlock that is Hampton Roads, road rage capitol of the known world. Add to that the stress from having to keep a sharp eye out for speed traps and it’s little wonder my blood pressure spikes every time I have to make the trip.
If there is one thing the USAF taught me that stuck it’s how to pack. I can usually get my bags packed (duffle, camera bags and computer bag) in 10 minutes but Frankie, Queen of the Pack Rats, always has a terrible time cramming everything into and on top of the truck. If we had a tractor trailer she would find a way to overload it! I’m always amazed that a fidget (Female mIDGET) always needs a suitcase that’s at least twice the size of everything I carry, combined.
Once Frankie finishes overloading Godzilla I have to wait until she falls asleep before going out and unloading enough
junk crap trash “good stuff” to allow room for me to drive the truck and use the rear view mirrors. When she wakes up she always tries to stuff the excess back into the truck until I get that look in my eye and start searching for matches. Then she squirrels it away until her next attempt at setting a Guinness Book world record for most junk hauled across Virginia in a passenger vehicle.
Internet access at Mom’s involves a trip to McDonald’s to use their free Wi-Fi access because Mom views computers as one of the greatest evils ever visited upon mankind. My Internet Service Provider does not offer dial up access and the cost of a wireless plan would put a dent in my camera gear budget and that ain’t happening! I do have a 3G cell phone but I’m an old geezer and only use my cell for phone. I dropped the data plan after realizing that I only used it for about an hour total during the 3 month mandatory prescription period when I first got the phone. I figured the extra $49 a month would be better spent on that huge lens I wanted……and I did!
Anyhoo, I’ll be off line for most of the next week. When I get back I should have loads of pictures to share. On the other hand I may make the papers if I succumb to temptation and open fire on the idiots in a Virginia Beach traffic jam. At least tourist season is over so I’ll only have to deal with local idiots wandering around lost and not the summer time imported variety (mostly from Ohio, New Jersey and Quebec), as well.
See you when we get back….. unless I’m incarcerated or involuntarily committed!
P.S. If you happen to find yourself on a Virginia highway anywhere between Mount Rogers and the Atlantic Ocean during the next week you may want to re-consider your trip. That large green object with a dog head hanging out each side rapidly growing larger in your rear view mirrors will be Godzilla moving at a high rate of speed in and easterly direction tomorrow and westerly a week from tomorrow. I’m not braking for anything! You have been warned.
(Re-posted from today’s Blogger page. I know, I know…..I’m just lazy!)
I haven’t spent nearly enough time with the cameras or writing lately so when THE BOSS pointed out the harvest moon just rising at the end of the ridge I grabbed the camera with the big lens mounted and stepped out the front door. All of these were shot hand held with my Sigma 150 – 500MM optically stabilized lens.
I really need to practice using the big lens because it’s heavy at 4 lbs. and next Monday we’re going home for a week to help Mom celebrate her 88th birthday. I know I’ll be shooting a lot on the beach as well as around the city, both in the urban and rural areas. To top the week off we’re going to the Air Show at Naval Air Station Oceana next weekend before piling in Godzilla and returning to God’s Country. I’m gonna need to build up my forearms so I don’t pass out from exertion right in the middle of shooting a low level pass!
Suffice it to say, I may not have much to post now but by the end of the month I should have about a gazillion* frames to process. If my calculations are correct I should go blind just before Halloween.
*That’s gazillion, not to be confused with Brazilian, which frequently confused our last Dufus in Chief who should not be confused with Rick Perry, his successor as governor of Texas, who wants to be the next Dufus in Chief only without the pesky IQ thingamajig.
Say what you may about the current occupant of the Oval Office; even with a do nothing congress he has managed to accomplish one thing:
……and he has proof!
(Actual bin Laden funeral
By the way, while we’re on the topic of Al Qaeda …..and don’t ask me how we got there:
Okay, “Peggy”, the attendant says it’s time to get me in my fancy jammies with the buckles in the back and for one of those itty-bitty cups of the funny orange “Kool-Aid”.
Peggy is not to be trifled with
I’ll see y’all tomorrow unless I manage to chew through the straps again. Y’all might want to lock your doors…..and buy a helmet.
Mom’s house is well known amongst the wildlife living in the vicinity of her home. Her neighborhood is located next to one of the city parks and the critters know Mom is always good for a handout so squirrels, rabbits and ducks are frequent visitors.
This pair shows up every afternoon and they’re not the least bit skittish around humans.
The male usually stands watch while the female grazes.
Once she’s had her fill she takes her turn at watch while her mate eats.
One afternoon the visitors got a rude surprise when I turned Buddy loose in the backyard to take care of business. I had forgotten about the ducks but Buddy hadn’t. He had a ball chasing them out of the yard. I think he may have been trying to play with them and was puzzled when they took flight. I also think he was trying to figure out how they did that because it looked like a lot of fun.
The next afternoon I was taking a short siesta when I was awakened by quacking that seemed to be coming from just outside the open window. Looking outside I didn’t see any ducks so I went outside to see where the noise was coming from.
Yep, they were on the roof! First time I ever saw ducks perched on a roof but they were definitely “Buddy proof” up there.
“Hey, Fat Boy, toss the feed up here. we know that big red dog can’t jump this high!”
A few more from the beach I grew up on, shot on our trip home earlier in the month.
That haze in the air was actually smoke from two wild fires burning in the marshes of Eastern North Carolina.
I had mixed feelings about that. Besides the environmental damage the smoke also aggravated my asthma, keeping me indoors where I could breathe.
On the other hand it also produced some spectacular sunsets.
Pure stubbornness and my rescue inhaler allowed me to shoot this series using my long lens.
I don’t know what I did to irritate Poseidon, King Neptune and/or Mother Nature. All three seemed determined to keep us from enjoying a trip to the beach.
Our first attempt to enjoy some surf and sand was a flop. I knew about the restrictions concerning dogs on the Chesapeake Bay beaches but obeying that particular city ordinance never crossed what’s left of my mind. When we still lived here most of this end of the beach was privately owned and the rules were ignored by the locals. As you can see, someone has already expressed their opinion of this ordinance with a strategically placed sticker. I had every intention of ignoring it as usual until I ran into into a cop on an ATV patrolling the beach. Luckily he believed my story about being a tourist and not seeing the sign.
The next evening we arrived, after 6:00, to find a new sign:
Since dogs are almost never allowed on the beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of the city it looked like Buddy was going to have to wait for his first dip in anything larger than a stock pond back home.
After 2 days the swimming ban was lifted and Buddy finally got to take a dip in the Chesapeake Bay. He was a little leery of the waves and had to be led into the water at first but soon overcame his misgivings and did his level best to drown both me and my nephew.
NOTE: Frankie shot the frame above and 2 below with her little Canon point and shoot, proving that it doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment to turn out some great shots! Her nrvgirl tag refers to the New River Valley where she was born and raised and where we now live.
This is my nephew Christopher. Though we share the same birthday he is MUCH younger and doesn’t mind keeping Buddy busy while I shoot a few frames. I also had my hands full fighting off Greenpeace activists who kept trying to push me into the water while chanting “Save the whale!”
Yes, the jolly fat man in these two shots is yours truly. They also reveal one of my secrets; I not only shoot a lot of frames, I also use two cameras. The one with all the glass mounted is digital and the one up front is a 35MM film model. The 35MM doesn’t get nearly as much use as the digital model due to the cost of film and processing but I do use it from time to time, especially for family shots when a lot of people want prints. I come from a big family! Both cameras are Canon EOS Rebels.
I used all that glass at maximum zoom to get these shots (above and below). That’s the fishing pier on the first island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, three miles from where I was standing when I shot it. The shot below looks a little closer but that’s because I cropped out the blurry nose of the jet ski that zoomed into frame from the left just as I tripped the shutter release.
As I mentioned, the sun didn’t hang around long. I had forgotten how quickly the fog could roll in.
This is one of about a dozen commercial ships anchored in Lynnhaven Roads awaiting a berth at Norfolk International Terminals to take of cargo. Within minutes of taking this shot the ship was completely obscured by the fast moving fog.
My better half, Frankie, aka THE BOSS!, aka SHE WHO SHALL BE OBEYED! with Buddy. Usually it’s next to impossible to get her to sit still for a photo but I cheated and got this one with a long lens while she wasn’t looking. She actually said she likes this shot and will not tenderize my head with her cast iron skillet if I post it.
I’M B-A-A-A-CK! ……… and I brought pictures…..hundreds and hundreds of pictures.
Anyone interested in sorting and editing a few hundred for me….before I go blind as well as nuts?
No? Oh, well……maybe I can get Buddy to help if I tell him I have cookies.
Every time I return home no matter what the weather I have to make at least one trip to the beach I grew up on. The big red balloon with the A on it (below) wasn’t there back then but the building boom that began in the early 70s is still going like gang busters and you never can tell what you’re gonna find when you’ve been away for a while.
Located in the northwest corner of the resort city of Virginia Beach, Virginia the laid back beach community fronting on the Chesapeake Bay is officially known as Chesapeake Beach. Natives refer to it as Chic’s Beach and it’s easy to spot a native. They’re the people telling you that the T-shirt you just purchased from one of the tourist traps on Shore Drive isn’t sanctioned by the Civic League because there is no K in Chic’s. Those same folks will probably be happy to tell you what you can do with that shirt but this is a family oriented blog so………….
When I noticed that the shirt Mom bought for me a couple of summers back had the wrong spelling it immediately became my puttering around the yard shirt. Now it’s so faded, paint, blood and oil stained that the offending misspelling is almost entirely obliterated. Suffice it to say that all of the Chic’s Beach shirts I now own have the official CXB logo prominently displayed.
The name Chic’s goes back to the 1940s and Chic’s Cafe, a cinderblock stand that sold hot dogs, lemonade and boasted a pinball machine. The cafe was named for its owner, Chic Ledington, and the name has been lovingly preserved by residents ever since. By the mid 60s, when I first adopted my beach rat ways, the café had become a snack bar, bath house and float rental stand whose chief attraction among my set were the outdoor loud speakers attached to the juke box.
A special place on that beach is known as The Rocks.
The boulders placed around the boundary fence between the civilian beach and the beach owned by the US Navy were intended to protect the fence from the wave action.
As you can see from the sections of chain link fencing peeled back along the pilings nothing can withstand the force of nature, not even a double row of pilings and fencing. There was only a single fence in the days of my misspent youth. If I had a nickel for every time I paddled a surfboard around the fence because the waves were always better on the restricted Navy side I’d have a whole bunch of nickels. I can’t begin to count how many times I got chased back to the other side of the fence by Base Security personnel.
Just about everyone who ever set foot on this beach spent at least a little time sitting on these rocks, lost in thought while staring out at the Chesapeake Bay. Those of us who lived on this beach spent a lot of time here. My uncle had a house and a cottage just three doors up the street from the fence and I lived on this beach….literally lived on it in the summer.
Sitting on The Rocks you are rarely alone.
My friends in the US Navy refer to this as a GU-11 unmanned aerial vehicle.
Depending on visibility when looking north from The Rocks you can usually make out at least the first island of of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel which spans the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay . To give you an idea of scale, the first island is three miles from shore.
A closer view of the first island, one of four man made islands of the bridge tunnel complex reveals the Sea Gull Fishing Pier. The rectangular object in the right of this frame is a fan house which provides ventilation in the first tunnel. The fan house in the background is on the second island and marks the point where the road bed rises to the second set of parallel bridges.
I’m not really here right now. This post is set to publish all by itself……I hope. Frankie and I are busy trying to pack everything we’ll need for the next couple of weeks. We’re also getting an itinerary together because there are people to visit and places we want to go. This time there are several sections listed as “GO TO THE BEACH!” I intend to spend a lot of time just loafing.
By this time Tuesday I’ll be relaxing on Chic’s Beach wondering what the poor people are doing. Of course, considering the size of my monthly Social Security Disability check I am one of the poor people except when I’m on vacation. When I’m kicked back on the beach money just don’t mean a thing!
Before I go, here’s a shot of the first deer we’ve seen in the yard in some time and a buck at that! We’re used to seeing plenty of does but this yearling buck is a rare sight. The quality of the shot leaves a lot to be desired. It was hurried and shot through two panes of glass but it was the best I could do before he vanished into the brush. Hopefully, the does will be bringing the new fawns out to graze by the time we get back.
Y’all take care and I’ll be back blogging in a couple of weeks. Man, is my reader going to be packed full!
Continuing a look back at what I’ve managed to capture during the past 2 years, sunrises and sunsets. The beach scene is of Chic’s Beach, the neighborhood where I grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The rest were shot in and around Wythe County, Virginia where we live now. As with yesterday’s post, click on the thumbs in the gallery below to views full size images.
As I explained in todays post on my Virginia Through My Lens page unforeseen circumstances (Frankie broke the weather!) prevented my getting shots of the bald eagles I went looking for. However, we did make the trip to the river and I got a few frames of other critters.
I had to shoot this through a chain link fence. The guy behind us was gunning his engine preventing my climbing out of the truck and up on the roof to shoot over the fence…..and Frankie wouldn’t let me shoot his headlight out……something about getting arrested blah, blah, blah……
When we got to the river Buddy met another dog (a female boxer) but I couldn’t get any pictures because I was too busy trying not to get dragged to my death as Buddy went out of his mind. Anyway, we all know what dogs do when they first meet and we don’t need pictures of THAT!
After the boxer got into her truck Buddy made a bee line for the river. I had to keep him on lead because the river was up after the heavy rains last night and I wasn’t sure if he could handle the swift currents. There was quite a bit of flash flooding in this area overnight and a couple of the nearby communities were still dealing with high water. Laura’s boyfriend lives nearby and had to stay with an aunt and uncle because he couldn’t get to his mother’s house last night!
Ah, young love! This couple was enjoying the warm weather on a nearby picnic table. Figuring the last thing they needed was a couple of old geezers and a lunatic dog intruding we respected their privacy while still enjoying the music.
On the way out of the parking lot we discovered that the young man wasn’t the only musician. Both were very talented!
Naturally, after I had packed up most of my gear, climbed in the truck and got settled for the ride home the sun peaked out and the sky began to clear. I wasn’t too disappointed because the eagles I was looking for were nowhere in sight and I have an excuse to come back again when the weather’s nicer.
After we got home and had a bite to eat Frankie asked me to bring my camera outside to shoot a few frames of the mystery plant Mom gave her which is just about to bloom for the first time. Figuring there was no need for my long lens I mounted my 55-250MM and walked out the door.
Wouldn’t you know it; as soon as I snapped the first frame I heard honking overhead and looked up just in time to catch a group of Canada Geese flying low overhead! I also noticed the cloud cover had vanished!
I don’t know if I could have tracked these guys while trying to balance that monster lens looking straight up but I sure would have liked to give it a try.
Instead I settled for a shot of Frankie’s Knockout Roses which are blooming like wildfire!
Oh, well, even though I didn’t get to shoot the eagles we still had a nice day out and there’s always tomorrow. And, from the way Buddy reacted when he saw that river we have no doubt he’ll absolutely love the beach when we go home…….3 weeks from tomorrow! YEE-HAW!
Answering the call to duty in World War II both of my parents enlisted in the United States Navy and eventually met when they were stationed at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Mom was a Hospital Corpsman X-ray Technician and Dad a Commissaryman in charge of one of the base dining facilities, known as a galley in Navy speak.
They were married in 1952 and, in 1953, discovered a little bundle of joy (me) was on the way. At that time pregnancy meant an automatic release from the service so Mom left the Navy after 9 years and settled into my Dad’s hometown in southern Ohio while Dad stayed behind in Maryland, expecting orders to sea duty.
I came along in April 1954 and Dad got his orders to a ship home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. Mom followed him to Norfolk and shortly after Christmas 1956 my faith in Santa Claus was shattered when I got a baby sister instead of the pony I had asked for. I’m still holding a grudge against that fat man!
Things went from bad to worse in the following years when I was “blessed” with two brothers born 22 months apart. If I had had my way we would have had enough ponies in the backyard for me, Mom and Dad to go for a ride whenever we felt the urge but N-O-O-O! just two more rug rats putting their feet under the kitchen table! I’m not saying they were unwelcome but I sure got tired of pushing them around in that wheelbarrow. The ASPCA made us stop putting the dogs in the wheelbarrow with them because they kept giving Thunder & Lightning fleas.
While Mom and Dad were trying to figure out where all those house apes were coming from Dad found it necessary to take on a second job, slinging suds in a Chic’s Beach beer joint known as Allen’s Grill. No, we didn’t own the places as everyone thought, but I did spend enough time there to learn my way around a BAR.
Yes, I know I had cap locks on when I typed BAR. The reason for that will soon be revealed.
Dad was still on active duty in the Navy which frequently took him to sea for extended periods of time. While Dad was gone, Mom was in charge of raising the family. Two more crumb snatchers, both female, had come along but I no longer paid much attention to them because I was in my teens and busy seeing just how much mischief I could get into without Mom finding out. I was 18 in that shot and, as you can see, had a passing interest in photography back then.
I mentioned the word BAR earlier and this is where the concept first starts to have an effect upon my behavior. Having Dad working in a BAR where I could observe grown men and women making fools out of themselves was one thing. When Dad’s brother, Uncle Paul, came home from a tour in Vietnam he bought his own BAR, No, I don’t mean a beer joint like Allen’s, I’m talking about one to go in our house! He couldn’t take it to his house because he was also in the Navy and his house was big, steel, haze gray and often got under way.
My dad was happy to let Uncle Paul keep his BAR at our house, especially since it looked so nice sitting beside the draft BEER dispenser that Uncle Paul also purchased.
Try to picture this: there I am, an impressionable teen aged boy, frequently left to supervise the lesser siblings and my parents and favorite uncle leave a fully stocked BAR and BEER machine out in plain sight!
My friends said the same thing……..LET’S HAVE A DRINK!
It was no time at all before I was VERY popular, especially when we discovered that the bottles were marked but you can’t mark a beer keg! Besides, as long as we drank clear liquors (vodka, gin or rum) all you had to do was add tap water to the bottle to replace what you had consumed…….as long as you hadn’t consumed too much because six inches of water added to one inch of vodka ain’t fooling nobody, especially sailors!
I’m telling you, there was something about that BAR that just made everyone who ever laid hands on it act silly as all get out. The photo above illustrates my point. Will you just look at those faces? Mom was even feeling the effects!
By this time Uncle Paul had put his 20 years in, retired and bought his own house, actually a house and a cottage, right on the beach! That shot, taken in his cottage, is a classic. It also set the tone for my residency in this very same cottage when I returned from my first tour in the United States Air Force.
If I had a nickel for every lopsided grin, guffaw of laughter and short term love affair caused by coming in contact with that BAR Bill Gates would be typing this for me.
As I said, Uncle Paul’s place was right on the beach, well maybe not RIGHT on the beach. There was a sand dune between the house and cottage and the actual beach itself. Those familiar with that dune will attest that the height and difficulty of negotiating that dune increased exponentially as the volume of alcoholic beverages consumed increased. This was especially true for the female party animals because they had to climb that dune to use the bathroom in the cottage. The guys just walked around the corner and let fly on Old Man Wagner’s bulkhead (that’s it on the left) .
There were so many parties thrown on this section of beach that Dad got creative, drafted several of the less beach wise party animals and put them to work building a permanent frame for a sun shade under which many a cookout was held. He also had them put up a sign he painted on a 4’ X 8’ sheet of marine plywood which read “Private Property, no police vehicles allowed!” That put an end to the cops sneaking up on us with their lights out at night and spoiling our fun.
For special events, such as when all of my friends, especially young ladies, showed up all at once we often erected a cargo parachute or two to make room for everyone to get out of sun when the need arose or when someone passed out and someone else had enough presence of mind to drag them out of the direct sunlight. Take it from me, sun poisoning is no joke!
Lest you get the impression that all we ever did was hang out on the beach, drinking and raising hell, my group of friends had other pursuits as well. There were times when it was just too damned cold to hang out at the beach! January and February come to mind but there was that one New Years Eve…….. Anyway, when it got frigid outdoors we made the rounds of our friends and relatives houses. If you look very carefully at the photo above you can just make out the top of that BAR. This was taken at my brother’s house and, by this time, the BAR had been passed down to him.
This was rarely a problem because I had set a precedent, throwing what was essentially a non stop party at the cottage and later a house I shared with another single guy in the service. I was on active duty in the USAF Reserves and Mad Max (yes, I had a roommate named Mad Max), my roommate was in the Navy.
That brings up a point I’d like to make. While my circle of friends and family were party animals to the core, with very few exceptions we were all employed, most of us in highly skilled trades and several owned their own successful businesses. Partying the way we did was not cheap and many bar owners put up with our raucous behavior because they new that when we rolled in the door we were sure to spend money like it was water. The only time there was ever any real trouble with us was when some idiot made the mistake of mistreating a woman. Most of us were raised to respect women and those who weren’t soon learned to because not doing so was a sure fire way to get a ride in an ambulance.
As I said, this sort of behavior was rarely a problem. There was a time when my sister in law complained about a house full of rowdy party animals EVERY WEEK END but it fell on deaf ears when my brother pointed out that he had met her AT ONE OF MY PARTIES and that she had not only attended that party but she STAYED FOR THE ENTIRE SUMMER instead of going back home to Delaware!
While I enjoyed being a party animal and playing the field with all the young lovelies (There was a sort of urban rumor going around for years that the chamber of commerce had released a “survey” that said women outnumbered men by a ratio of 7 to 1 during tourist season and I believed them!) nothing lasts forever. I met my future bride at one of my youngest brother’s stinking, staggering, knee walking, falling down in the gutter birthday bashes. Both of us had been married before, gone through messy divorces and sworn off ever getting serious again but something just clicked between us. It wasn’t long before she had me half tamed and I quit chasing other women. I’m still allowed to look at other women but THE BOSS (my bride) says I can read the menu all I want but I have to take my meals at home!
By the way…….that BAR is in the room right behind the two of us in that photo!
This photo, taken in 1958 on Chic’s Beach where I grew up, illustrates why I still have sand and salt water in my veins. I’ve been a beach rat most of my life. That large boxer dog, Pete, was my protector from birth and best buddy. According to the pedigree papers that came with him when Dad won him as a pup in a poker game in Port Deposit, Maryland, his real name was Conawingo’s Royal Flush but I always knew him as Pete.
It’s ironic that this is one of the earliest shots I have with Dad in it. His ashes were spread just offshore from this piece of shoreline after his death on July 4, 2003. That he passed away on the anniversary of our nation’s birth seemed fitting for a man who gave nearly a third of his life in service of his country.
Dad was in the US Navy, as was Mom when they met. Mom was discharged in 1953, after 9 years service, when she became pregnant with me, and put down roots in the laid back beach community of Chesapeake Beach (Chic’s to locals) in the northwest corner of what was to become Virginia Beach to raise me and my siblings while Dad traveled the world, eventually retiring in 1968 after 26 years of service.
I’ve done my fair share of traveling, as well, in my 50 plus years as a Navy brat, US Air Force enlisted man and as a civilian. No matter how far I’ve roamed over the years I have always returned to this stretch of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay , at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, to recharge my soul.
As I type I can almost taste the salt air and hear the gentle hiss of the water kissing the sand.