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March Funebre in Memory of Donna Dennis, April 14, 2013

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It was decided that April being the cruelest month and the weather atop South Hill a spongy 45 degrees, the dance floor inside Oasis Dance Club was fine circuit, especially if the main mourner of the hour, Mark Sammo, honoring his lost love, was not going to put on anything warmer than a summer shirt. Grief is grief and let it go Lord, let it go. God bless her, wherever she may be.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 14 April 2013 17:39
 

Tending on April Fool's Day

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Some tiny town tendings for the first Day of April:

 

• Split pea soup with leftover ham bits leads to patchy morning fog in some kitchens.

• Meddlesome wind harasses pedestrians; man loses hat in breezeway, recovers it.

• Smokers of Newports seem especially prone to littering.

• Drinkers of every kind of hot beverage prone to littering: A-plus convenient store, shortstop and Gimme! Coffee no exception.

• Goodbye to Opposite Side of the Street Parking until next November!!!

• It's the new 4 Day trash week! Could 4-day work week be far behind?

• Sullen jobless man concedes that while he misses a couple friends from work, he is happier unemployed and gets more done with his family.

• Some 55-+ guys still they got it going on with a captive lady audience at a check out counter. Move it along bud, you've been profiled.

 

Remembering My Brother Douglas J. Crawford

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douglasOn the night of Feb. 23, 1971, a gunnery base in Tay Ninh Province in South Vietnam was infiltrated by young North Vietnamese sappers, intent on doing as much damage to the firebase as it had done to them, and, with wild hopes perhaps, to take out a big gun or two with the satchel explosives they carried in on their half naked bodies.Those big guns had been harassing the Ho Chi Minh Trail with regularity, long before my brother got there. But his arrival was inauspicious: those guns had just laid into a Viet Cong hospital on the Cambodian border side of things and this meant a reckoning was due. 

My brother was a communications operator on duty the only night the base was attacked in such a way; he'd only been there about six weeks and he wrote about how the big guns scared him. He was a radio guy and his job was to keep track of what was going on and what was going on was not good. The VC were planning to attack the base and tensions were very high. The VC chose their time well. A good size of the battery's infantry were moved out on some orders – perhaps to track down enemy insurgents! – so Fire Base Blue, as it was called, was thin. At some flashpoint in the night warning flares lit the perimeter and for a moment it was possible to see that the thinly spread VC troops were inside the main line of barbwire defense. A call to cover the perimeter was issued across the base. Explosions and gun fire ensued and heavier fire from a .50 mm down on the Marines side of the base. But they were not after the Marines, an engineering unit and not responsible for the guns. Dodging terror, Dougie got to his Commo truck and repeatedly tapped-out an SOS along with as much info as he had in the dark: sappers inside base; enemy explosives in barracks bunkers ...

body wounds

 

Pfc. Douglas J. Crawford provided positions on the attack which seemed concentrated on the depleted Army and ARVN reserves in his section, his Commo truck stuck out among the rickety ghetto of steel semi-circles that serves as bunkers. Having sent all info he had time for, having gotten 10-4'd, he yanked off his head set, grabbed his helmet and  M16, jumped right into the thick of it. He never got near any perimeter; the perimeter had come to him. 

The sappers laid satchel bombs in open huts and bunkers while sending sprays of AK-47 fire sporadically at whatever was moving; Douglas was hit pretty much immediately by shrapnel and gunfire that  took half his jaw and shoulder off. Enough devastating rounds to end his little life. Medics got to him quickly but he was DOA, KIA, Feb. 23, 1971; it wasn't clear when he lost consciousness; I can only hope quickly.

His extra efforts to detail the position of the attack and the counter-attack led to a more organized response by the Army and ARVN forces and, along with help from Marine engineers; the base was secured. About 12  Americans had been killed and more wounded; almost all of the Viet Cong sappers were captured or killed. The pictures of those desperate men, shirtless, sprawled in the sands of their home in black pants, evoke terrible pity in me. You might expect hate, but I'm sorry, it's not there.

Medical papers describe various efforts to make my brother look presentable for his long trip home in a metal casket. Once at home, My father insisted on having the body stripped, very much against the funeral directors advice. No one refused my Dad a command: he was a captain, retired, he knew how to give orders and he did not believe it was his son in that casket. Where were the dog tags? Where were the fucking dog tags?

My Dad kept those pictures of his broken son, for a long long time, pulling them out when he was in deep sorrow and begging me to agree that it was not my brother, not his son. Those were hard moments. Some times I lied.

Dougie's dog tags were lost during battle. Given the wounds, it's not surprising they got blown right off his body. The finger that held the blue stone of his high school ring was mutilated, ring and finger were one, and could not be returned -- because of the melding of blood, flesh and metal. I wish it had been returned, with bits of Dougie inside: it would be hard to forget him that way. He was such a mess, my dear brother, such a mess of a sweet young guy.

It took the US Army 35 more years to get those dog tags to my family. By some screw-up only governments and corporations can make of, by and for their people, the tags wound up in a file in Washington, D.C. By then, my Dad, who needed them the most, was dead. An Army genealogist found his name in an obituary. You can read about that here if you care to ...

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb06/dogtag.dea.html

My thoughts here are meant for all service people and their families, on either side of any divide. My brother died in combat, and for that reason alone, I was a free man for many years: I was a Sole Surviving Son. I could not be drafted and sent into a war zone. But it dogs me to this day.

I wish there were a magic way to make this fact go way; but it is as much a fact of who I am as my eyesight and the dark thoughts that move freely through my mind. In less time than it takes for a coal train to pass through this town, a bunch of American and Vietnamese lives were changed forever. It's still rolling and it will always go on because we don't learn; we will buy into the next lie all over again. But I'm still going on, too: I like to walk alongside train tracks. I'm trying my best to understand how a thing like losing a brother so long ago can yet dog a fellow no matter how hard he gets inside or how loud he screams his own name at the wind: nothing ever makes it go away. I am here too, to tell you that when I see that lie about a necessary war being cooked-up again, I am gonna call it for exactly what it is. Maybe brother and my father would want me to be that kind of soldier: The kind who tried to stop war, not perpetuate it. That's up for me to decide and I am them still, father and brother, the two them, boiling inside me. Whose heart do I wake with today?

Franklin Crawford, remembering

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 February 2013 02:57
 

Sing Happy Birthday with Frank for Gay Huddle, a Tiny Towner tried and true

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Who Will Replace Our Cranky Kraut Pope and his Red Shoes?

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Tiny Town, USA – Here are our Top 5 Nominations for Pope to replace that Austrian weirdo who is about to step down:

No. 1

Bono: Humanitarian, Catholic, definitely loose with his charity money. He'll dump a lot of Vatican Gold on the Market.

No. 2

One of our own: Robert "Bobo" "Bumbalini" Berletic. He's Polish, knows the Bible and all kinds of whack History. Once challenged to box Muhammed Ali at SUNY Cortland during an anti-war rally, declined. Ali was disappointed. Bobo is a great candidate for Pope. And he's a tiny towner!

No. 3

Another Local Boy: How about John "Lug Nut" Grady, Radical Catholic, for Pope? It would make his sweet mother proud and get him out of the auto repair business where he is ripping Bobo (see above) off something terrible on bad repair jobs. Also, he could give papal dispensation to his radical Catholic kinfolk who can't seem to get away from throwing blood on important American institutions, like Trident subs, recruiting offices and the occasional drone.

No. 4

Pat, the guinea pig lady. We need a Lady Pope and Pat fits the bill. A lot of people are keen on getting a cat in for a Pope but I think we should start with a rodent and work our way up. Pat is pictured here a couple years ago with Keoh, who is not with us any longer. She's got a new baby now, a real beaut who would sure look smart in some papal finery.

No. 5

How about a tag-team Atheist Pope-Share? It is not beyond the powers of the imaginations of Skip Davis, left, and "White Chip" Mike Herbster, to tackle the complex duties of dressing up like a tube of K-Y Jelly, playing pup tent with the Swiss Guard and tormenting young boys with the threat of Hell for not giving good thigh or Salvation through a bit of buggering.

There you have it. I'm sure we'll come up with other ideal candidates. We wanted to keep it all local, but Bono deserves a plug since he's been playing the bleeding Jesus routine ever since U2 made it big with their sneaky deacon Christian rock. Like a band from Ireland could get away with not taking the papal scepter up where the sheep don't graze. Look what those Mad Irish did to Sinead O'Connor for tearing a picture of Pope John Paul II in half -- that Pope who we all liked, bore a striking resemblace at times, of the late former NYC Mayor, Ed Koch, God rest his soul. Poor Sinead, tho. She's going to hell.

– C. Penbroke Handy, not saved and surely not Catholic

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 16:09
 


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