Odds and Ends
I Titled My Book
Copyright 2015 by Richard Bishop
am always astounded when I find that the written word alone is
capable of arousing bitter-sweet sentiments (an ache from the past)
to float up from the hidden pages of your memory and openly haunt
you. Probably the most poignant words I have ever read (or heard) are
the beginning of a book (and
are spoken aloud by the Academy Award winning actress Meryl Streep as
the very first lines in the subsequent Movie) “Out
by Isak Dinesen.
is a memoir by Isak Dinesen, a pen
name used by the Danish
von Blixen-Finecke. The book, first published in 1937,
events of the seventeen years when Blixen made her home in Kenya,
then called British
(quoted from Wikipedia). The
mentioned years cover the period 1913 through 1930.
seven (7) Academy Awards winning Film of Mirage Enterprises/Universal
(1985), Produced and Directed by Sydney Pollack. Starring Robert
Redford and the awesome Meryl Streep. Music by John Barry.
relevant line, dripping with nostalgic sentiment, is:
had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills..."
if you haven’t read the book or haven’t seen the
nothing will happen to your mood when you read the line or hear it
spoken aloud. But if you have experienced both, then the fountains of
“compassion” will well-up and engulf you, heart and
in both the peaks of enjoyment and the several valleys of disaster in
this stirring 20th
Century love story set in gigantic and mysterious Africa. Now, for a
comparison (without the emotion), try this line and see if it grabs
had a farm in the heartland of the Great Lakes at the edge of The
Little Dry Prairie.”
it “hold a candle” to:
had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills?"
I hope so because it’s going to stick (after I modify it
slightly). My Book is now entitled:
OF KALAMAZOO COUNTY
the very first line is:
was raised on a farm in the heartland of the Great Lakes at the edge
Little Dry Prairie.”
- Odds and Ends
In Thailand). The
indigenous people of Thailand have many interesting customs. One
tradition, handed down from the days when their country was called
a water celebration of “purification” called Songkran.
have heard that the citizens of India also enjoy such a celebration.
It is very like the Thai Songkran
but theirs is called “Holi
The Thais use clear-water to purify one’s being; as a
consequence, the clean-up is not so bad. But, the people of India
douse each other with colors – both wet paint-like liquid and
dry powders; it’s a full wipe-out and the Dry Cleaning
and Laundries get in on the extra business; taking about a week to
get your clothes-changes back in order.
the Indian Holi Day is like the cited one celebrated in the
Springtime in Thailand called "Water Day" (Songkran),
all I can say is Wow ! In Thailand, everybody tries to pour at least
a pitcher of water on somebody else (a glassful just won’t
This application of moisture even includes a water hose for spritzing
(if you can get hold of one connected to a running water faucet).
friendly Thai people were exceedingly therapeutic. If you were
up-tight, the activities of the day “loosened you
very early -- on our way to work !
(It was an ancient tradition for them - not an official holiday for
U-Tapao RTNS (Royal Thai Naval Station), 90 miles Southeast of
Bangkok, every B-52 Bomber & KC-135 Tanker Pilot and Navigator,
and other Crew members (off duty, of course), every non-flying Major
"Fuddy-Duddy" and Captain "Straight-Lace" really
got into the swing of it, as well as all the Enlisted Personnel who
had a ball dousing the Officers. No Rank was respected and the Wing
and Base Commanders each "got it" early in the morning
while arriving at their offices; last night's Thai janitorial
cleaning crew, who were going off-duty at 08:00, were the culprits
who laughed all the way home. The rest of us mostly got drenched from
Boss, a Lt. Col., and a Major of my acquaintance (both of them stone
Sober) wound up outside the Officer's Club with a hose and laughingly
sprayed any and all who tried to enter. If you didn’t get
wiped-out on your way to Breakfast, the Thai Waiters and Waitresses
saw to it that you didn’t miss any of the fun. If you
quite awake yet, a pitcher of ice-water fixed you up for the day. I
changed my Fatigue uniform 2 times (and also my 1505 short-sleeved
Summer Uniform twice) that day in 1968.
Newspapers say that the Holi Day in India is rife with the
consumption of Alcohol and is responsible for twice as many Traffic
Deaths as any other holiday.
Thailand, it is tamer but it was still great sport and really neat to
see one and all Americans and other Foreigners taking it with
diplomatic aplomb. It was also good to let off steam in a
In Japan). Take
woodworking, for instance. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you already
know how to saw off a piece of wood. With a good sharp saw, you push
it through the wood with some effort and then pull it back easily
getting ready for the next cutting stroke. Not so in this country.
It’s just the opposite. You pull
it hard on the cutting stroke, and push it lightly through getting
ready for the next pulling (cutting) stroke.
you are stationed overseas with the Military, you will get lots of
requests to purchase unique items of the country you are in. If the
BX (Base Exchange) stocks the item, it’s easy. If not, then
there’s usually an excursion out into the countryside to find
terms of time and effort by me, these requests usually went
beyond the occasional: “Hey Dick -- if you don’t
much yourself, how about bringing me a couple of
of Bourbon if you come back “Stateside” on TDY
Duty) travel orders.
first item was a Hibachi. “Hey Dick, how about sending me one
of those neat Barbeque
Hibachis for my backyard grilling?” Saying
popular item often traveled to the USA in Aircraft Crew baggage. Not
having these kinds of contacts, I had to use surface means. This
cooking item was about three feet tall, round, and two feet in
diameter. It was made of cast-iron, colored forest green, and very
heavy. The BX stocked them and the BX Packing & Shipping Vendor
knew all the minimums and maximums regarding size and weight. After
they had built a wooden framework around it, they transported it to
the APO for me in a wheelbarrow. Then it was easy to fill out the
Customs “declaration” form and legally send it via
insured APO Parcel Post to the recipient
a couple of weeks, it arrived in five (5) pieces (cast-iron does not
travel well) !
recipient collected his insurance, offered me his thanks, and let me
off the hook on my promise by not asking me to repeat the deal.
second unique item was a two-feet tall porcelain costumed Geisha Doll
complete with a black wood & glass display case for a friend in
Europe. This was not stocked in the BX and therefore, required
planning a trip to obtain it.
around, we ascertained that a factory producing world-renowned
examples of this genre was located on the outskirts of Tokyo . . . .
about 35 miles from Tachikawa AB, where we were stationed. We then
obtained US Occupation Forces road-maps to show the way (half in
Japanese/half in English). We asked our Maid Sotoko if she knew
someone who would go along as a guide & interpreter (for pay).
did and we made an appointment for pick-up the following week, early
in the morning.
Wife, Elfi, and I drove over to the pick-up point near Green Park
Housing Area. He turned out to be a nice 20 year-old Japanese young
man who spoke fair English. We traveled to the Porcelain Plant with
no problems. While there, they conducted us around the factory (it
was really several houses) showing all the styles of ornate clothing
available to decorate the Dolls. We purchased a stunning example for
cash (Yen) and returned by way of Yamato Air Station just across the
road from Tachikawa-West that had a nice BX Snack Bar. We wanted to
buy our guide lunch as an extra thank-you for helping us.
Hamburger and Fries plus a Coke were almost beyond his grasp as how
to eat them. This was 1960 and the poor guy had to wait a while to
watch how we ate the same things so that he could emulate us
(now-a-days there would be no trouble for a Japanese youngster to eat
fast-foods, whatever the brand).
duly sent the item via International Parcel Post to an address in
Germany. We heard that it had arrived in good shape. Years later,
Elfi and I visited the Gentleman who received it and noted that he
had made it into a beautiful center-piece for his house in the form
of a display fitting for a Museum. His thanks were profuse and
heartfelt. That was nice. Sometimes, you do get paid for all your
following is the kind of stuff I deemed appropriate
to leave out of my book – for
mostly obvious reasons.
of the geographic names have been omitted, on purpose.
don’t need to tangle with any Consulates at my time of life!)
At a small island nation). Later, after leaving the Port and
traveling to the “downtown” of the Capital, I
book, at a bargain price, entitled: THE XXXXXXXXXX'S HANDBOOK
printed on thin Bible paper.
It cost me about the equivalent of $ 10.00 in the local currency and
in the U.S.A., a normal printing would have cost $25.00; but such a
book with a thinner, lighter weight of paper such as the one
presented would have cost $45.00.
in Japan, I was shocked to find out that the country I had visited
was the location of the World’s biggest industry of pirating
(stealing) Copyrighted material - mostly books - by reprinting and
selling them. Notwithstanding the illegality, since it had been so
nicely done, I kept the book as a souvenir of the trip. Since I
already possessed a copy of the American original, I kept it unused
on my library shelf for years while licensed in the State of Ohio as
a P. A. (PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT).
Near the Gulf of Siam). In addition to the Base Newspaper, this event
was also covered in a local Newspaper article in English. Even murder
was, apparently, simple to arrange. Our Base Bank Manager’s
Assistant lived off-base in a villa on the beach and roomed with an
Assistant to the Manager of the Base Exchange. One night the Banker
was awakened just long enough to be pistol-whipped with a .45 caliber
automatic. When he regained consciousness, the Assistant BX Manager
was dead, having been shot twice in the body and once in the head
with a .45 caliber weapon (the latter shot for good measure - clearly
the mark of an assassination). Nothing was stolen. The marks of a
boat landing in the sand and quickly leaving again corroborated that
this was murder for hire. Worse yet, the cited English language local
Newspaper played down the event saying that the deceased was a mean
and reviled “womanizer.” We never heard that this
was ever solved.
won't know where to send it.)
Bishop's Biography and Story List
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