Eli and Sophia

Friday, September 8, 2017

Subject: North Korea

Subject: North Korea
September, 2017

55 years ago today, I was at Ft Benning, GA, training as an Infantry platoon leader.......our mechanized personnel carriers were on the beaches of Florida, in preparation for an invasion of Cuba, in response to the Russian missile buildup there. 

55 years ago today, donald trump was 16 years of age, and probably just learning how to evict minority people from his families' rental housing.

Today, we seem to have another missile crisis......HELLO!!.......One response seems to be stopping trade with any natiion currently trading with or providing goods or services to North Korea.  Isn't that like deciding which foot to shoot ourselves in......or doing brain surgery with a meat ax?

How about the possibility of our blockading their ocean ports of entry such that trade from those would cease.  Air dropped, time delayed underwater mines might be a possibility (if we had them in the inventory).  Otherwise,  we could take some of the Navy ships which have been having holes punched in them, and 'scuttle' them in the shipping lane channels, with the Navy Seal crews leaving on jet skis

Warm regards,

Jon Sampson.

I propose we do nothing, unless or until Un does something endangering anyone not a North Korean.  Then we do so as a part of a coalition whose Un's actions have harmed...until then, Un is the mouse who roared.

55 years ago today I was on a plane on the tarmac of the Presidio of San Francisco airport ready to fly to Key West with members of my STRAC Army Post Office Unit to be able to deliver mail to combatants in the  front lines of a potential nuclear conflict.  It was expected that the conflict wouldn't last all that long.  However, we go orders to stand down; I went home to get some sleep as we had been loading the plane with our postal equipment for the previous 48 hours without a break.  Later, they rescinded the order and called us back to duty. I never received the message and the unit left without me.  When I went into the base the following Monday to report for duty, there was nobody there; the unit was in Key West. Hardly knowing what to do, I went down to Post Headquarters and reported in.  They went apeshit.
However, after great gnashing of teeth, it was finally concluded that I had done nothing wrong, and I was simply reassigned to the post clothing and sales store for the remainder of my army duty in San Francisco.  Parenthetically, I was working full time at a bar and was making more than the commander of the 6th Army.  I wish we had the same guys in the White House now as we did then.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Uncle Buck

Uncle Buck: the family’s recollections.
This started as a writing exercise in which I repeated Uncle Buck's tall tales. My writing group urged me to fill in more and make it a memoir piece, so here it is. 
            Buck Goodman was “Uncle Buck” to 12 of us born between 1940 to 1955, and “Grandpa” to six more born between 1947 and the 1960s: Jon, Dean and Patty;  David, Arnold, and Sam,  I (Susan), Sandy, Mark, Tina, Marcia and Susan, cousins and second-cousins, and his grandchildren Jon, Harold, Tom, Sylvia, Robbie, and Jacquie. Every kid should have an uncle like  him. His real name was “Esmerald,” but most people didn’t know that. He was an uncle by marriage to my dad’s older sister Sylvia. He stands out in the family photographs for his straight dark hair parted on the side and slicked over the top of his head, and his brush mustache, among the blonde, clean-shaven Sampson men.
            Uncle Buck had been a career Coastguardsman who was stationed at Bandon, OR, when the town burned down after thick wild gorse caught fire. He and Aunt Sylvia lost their house to the fire. He was still there in 1942 when a Japanese airplane dropped fire bombs on nearby Brookings, trying to start forest fires. He told me once that he saw the airplane and had his anti-aircraft gun at the Coast Guard station trained on it, and had no ammunition to use. He served until partial hearing loss and a bad bout of appendicitis (before penicillin was readily available) forced his retirement in the 1940s, when he was in his 40s. He had a pension and didn’t have to work much after that—and he didn’t much care to. 
            That’s why he was available, while fathers and uncles worked, to take time for me and all the other nieces, nephews, and grandkids. He’s start the day with buckwheat pancakes, then set about his day. (That wasn’t his only cooking adventure. He soaked beans overnight, and was horrified to find them riddled with little pink worms in the morning, until he realized that the beans had germinated, and that his “worms” were just bean sprouts.)
            He liked to tell about Dean’s gathering night-crawlers when Dean was still a tot:  Dean pulled open his pants pocket and said, “Look, Buck, ‘erms.”
            Sandy remembered his "old Indian trick" for getting tight knots out of a line: You cup the knot in your hands, then pound your hands on a table. I’ll have to try it with shoelaces.
Jon says: Within my living memory, Uncle Buck & Aunt Sylvia lived mostly in two places: their farm on the banks of Myrtle Creek (outside of Bridge, OR) and their acreage on Siltcoos Lake, south of Florence, OR.  While on the farm at Myrtle Creek, they were very gracious hosting nieces & nephews for periods of time each summer.

At the farm up Myrtle Creek, I remember that breakfast each morning consisted of  dinner plate sized hotcakes which Buck called "collision mats." [A collision mat is the nautical term for a square of canvas treated with sealant and placed over damage to the hull of a boat to limit the inflow of water.] They were made, in part, of buckwheat flour (no pun intended).Recreation included "messing around" in Myrtle Creek (wearing a Coast Guard life preserver), & driving his two-wheel garden tractor which pulled a trailer.  Their water supply was a well which was pumped into a tank high off of the ground.  The tank was filled by a “make & break ”gas engine  [single-cylinder, or putt-putt engine] powering the pump.  At least part of the time, when I was there, their "toilet" consisted of a 1-hole outhouse, & the paper may have been one of the two major catalogs. [I assume Jon is referring to the Sears & Roebuck and  Mongomery Ward or “Monkey Wards” catalogues.] Jon adds: (Reminds me of the early hunting camps, when Dad & Uncle Gene were finished arguing about “which way was north,” someone, such as Jack LaChappelle, would ask the question: "did anyone remember to bring ass wipe?") 

When David spent some time with Buck and Sylvia one summer, they found an abandoned baby raccoon. They fed it cow’s milk from a baby bottle. It climbed all over them, licking them like a puppy, but the next winter, it went feral and bit at anybody who came close to it, even when they were feeding it, so it was released. Or eaten?
            Uncle Buck’s dog was a cocker spaniel called “Pooh Dog,” notable for digging carrots out of the garden and washing them in wet grass before eating them.  Pooh Dog was such a member of the family that when Buck’s daughter Audrey was a schoolgirl, she told her class that she was part Finnish and part Cocker Spaniel.  His cat was Oscar. When I caught my first fish at Uncle Buck’s place, my dad convinced me that it was too small to eat, and we should hang it in a tree for Oscar to find. Buck called the bull frogs at his Siltcoos Lake house “Herkimer” and “Carmichael” and a resident wild skunk was called “Petunia.”            
When Audrey came home from a carnival with a duckling that she’d won, Uncle Buck tossed it out onto the porch, thinking it would be gone by morning. (Ducklings and chicks dyed vivid colors were common carnival prizes at the time. Usually they didn’t live long. Animal cruelty laws usually prohibit that practice now.) Instead of dispatching the duck, the cat and her kittens adopted it.  Aunt Sylvia said that being patterned on cats, every morning when Buck walked to the end of the driveway to check the mail, the cat, the kittens, and one duckling would follow him. The duckling would stall at a puddle, thinking he was supposed to do something else—but when Uncle Buck and the cats returned from the mail box, the duckling would get back in line, and follow them home.
            His house at Bridge, Oregon (close to Myrtle Point and Remote) was invaded at night by bats. He discovered that they would dodge out of the way at any obstacle he swung at them, but he could clobber them with a tennis racket to get them out of the bedroom.
            He had less success controlling the beavers. One night, they took down the big, old mature plum tree that stood outside the house. By morning, it was reduced to twigs.  
Buck was skilled at crafts and woodworking. He knew how to braid with more than three or four strands of cord, how to carve whistles from willow sticks, how to make a kite out of lath, newspaper and string, and how to make stilts.
I was most impressed when he built a box for steaming planks, and used it to build a lap- strake boat—its sides were planks that overlapped from bottom to top, like the siding on a house, and bent into the prow. The boat was mine to use whenever I wanted to fish for lake fish—crappies, bluegill, perch, a few bass, and a few catfish. I’d trade him a batch of cookies for use of his boat for the day.
He taught us all to fish, and also, “You catch ‘em, you clean ‘em.” Tina caught her first fish, a bluegill, off his dock. But at the same time, somebody told her that people caught bullfrogs to eat their legs. I remember Uncle Buck saying that when fishermen hooked a bullfrog, its little hands would be grasping the fisherman’s line, trying to get free. Tina was horrified and would never think of eating frogs’ legs, and I agree with her.  I once saw  a cartoon showing a frog wheeling its way out of a restaurant kitchen on a wheeled platform, its legs having been cut off.           
Uncle Buck could recite the rhythmic, rhyming poetry that was popular during his school days, and one of his favorites was Robert Service’s “Cremation of Sam McGee:”
Oh the northern lights have seen strange sights
but the strangest they ever did see
was there on the marge of Lake LaFarge
where they cremated Sam McGee

Mark recalls Uncle Buck’s talking to kids in a voice like Mel Blanc’s Yosemite Sam, and using terms like “ornery ol’ polecat.”  
Uncle Buck gave Tina wheel barrow rides, and she and Mark both swung on the tire hung from a tree in Buck and Sylvia’s yard.   (Jack Adams, father of cousins Susan and Marcia, taught us the better way to make a tire swing instead of just hanging a tire from a tree on a rope. Without cutting through the tire wall, you cut a rectangular piece from the tire treads, then you turn the tire inside out .The result is a good rubber bucket seat with a round handle on either side for suspending the swing, and for hanging on while you pump the swing as hard as possible to go as high as you can, then bail out. Although Jon broke a collar bone, Sam broke a leg, and Tina broke an arm, none of that happened on the swing.
I  used a stick to beat on the sides of the warped asphalt tiles on the sides of the Siltcoos Lake house, to hear the bats squeal—and I’ve cited that as proof to argue with a naturalist from The Nature Conservancy who tried  to tell me that the sound of bats is inaudible to humans. (When bats invaded the attic of Vake’s and Milly’s house while it stood empty, they were so loud I could hear them from the driveway. I abandoned my plan to spend the night and rented a hotel room.) 
After we abused the bats, a line of cousins would run downhill from the house to the floating dock. Sandy brought up the rear of the line of kids, and it seems like every time, a wasp stung her on the back of the leg.
             Before they’d fully moved into the cabin on Siltcoos Lake, there was a bad smell in the house. We searched high and low for the source of the stink, until Dad, the plumber, arrived.  “Look for a mouse in the toilet,” he said. That was it.    
My dad Vake and Uncle Buck’s wife Aunt Sylvia came from poor immigrant stock. Their father was an itinerant carpenter and their mother cleaned hospital rooms for a living, so Dad and Aunt Sylvia had no distinguished roots to brag about.  Instead, Aunt Sylvia tried to squeeze a little prestige out of Uncle Buck’s roots. She believed he was related to a historically prominent family, the Fitzhughs of Virginia.  When they hung a board on a tree naming their estate for the Fitzhugh familial one, Mom (Milly Sampson) hung an old cow skull on it. Sylvia loved it!
Contrary to Aunt Sylvia’s findings, cousin Jon believes that Buck was a Melungeon, one of those Appalachian hill people of mixed European, American Indian, and near Eastern or North African ancestry.
            From the stories that Uncle Buck told us, I suspect that his roots were more folk than aristocracy. He told us how you have to watch out for side-hill dodgers in the spring. They’re an animal that has lived on sides of steep hills in Oregon for so long that they have evolved longer legs on the left side of their bodies so that their torsos are level when they walk across hills, a familiar folk story from many locations.  However, in Oregon, there’s more to the story:  in the excitement of the spring rut, they get turned around. When they try to walk with their short legs on their downhill side, they tumble down the hill, and you have to dodge out of the way so they don’t bowl you over when they roll past.
            And do you know why they cut the tails off lambs born in the spring in Oregon? It’s because those tails drag on the ground and get so heavy with mud that they pull the lambs’ skin back so hard, like a tight pony tail, that the lambs can’t close their eyes, and they die from lack of sleep.
            Uncle Buck worked with a Coastguardsman who craved a drink so badly that he drank the alcohol out of their ship’s compass. He survived, but after that, he could only point north.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Turning Out the Lights

     21 August 2017. This was the day of the "Great American Eclipse." A solar eclipse swept from Oregon to South Caroline, bringing a swath of total darkness through a number of state capitals, incuding Salem, OR; Lincoln, NE; and Columbia, SC. NASA broadcasted its images.
     In Wenatchee, WA, we lay a few hundred miles out of the path of the umbra, but we could see the eclipse by looking through safe eclipse lenses. Every time a broadcaster said that the eclipse looked like a bite out of a cookie, Jerry said "Num num num num." Even though we experienced a 90% eclipse here, we had a bright, sunny day and the sky did not darken appreciably. Brook reported a nice,sunny day in Salt Lake City, and a good show through dark lenses. But Eric saw it all:  He took his family to Charlston, SC, to the university campus from which NASA was doing some of its broadcasting. He said the light show was awesome, and his boys were duly impressed.
     I asked if either of them remembered the eclipse in Seattle in 1979. I was working at the Seattle City Attorney's office, and stood in the 10th Floor lobby of the old City Hall watching the sky turn as dark as night, suddenly, then immediately brighten up. I was surprised at how quickly the total part of the eclipse passed.
     Brook was nine years old at the time. His recollection is vague. Eric was in the 6th grade and recalls that the sky was overcast, so only the loss of light was noticeable, no images of monsters taking bites out of the sun, no coronas. He said that at the darkest, the street lights blinked on, but then winked out again. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Stuff up the nose

Remember when our mom's told us not to run while carrying a sharp object?  Here is why!



Photographs show a boy whose nose has been impaled with a fork.




In July 2007 we began receiving photographs, without any explanatory text, that presumably documented the case of a young boy who somehow managed to impale his nose with a fork, with the first picture (taken in an emergency room or doctor’s office) showing him before medical treatment, and the second showing him some time later after the fork had been removed and his injury had begun to heal:
Mom said don’t run with scissors … but didn’t mention a fork.
We managed to get in touch with the boy’s mother, who confirmed for us that those presumptions were correct:
It’s real. Happened July 11th in Minneapolis at a chinese buffet restaurant. He was climbing into the booth and fell while holding his fork in his hand. When the waiter picked him up from under the table the fork was through his nose. There was only a little blood because the fork tines missed all of the cartilage in his nose (Thank God). The one picture is from the ER and the other picture is two days later at home. The ER doctor and ENT doctor we saw the following day said that they had never seen this before and that we were pretty lucky that the fork went up and out through his nose. We saved the fork and this picture for him to see when he gets older. We emailed the pics to our family, coworkers and friends and now they are all over the internet. Live and learn I guess.

Lucky it wasn't his eyeball (s)!
On Aug 14, 2017, at 6:39 PM, susan sampson <susanraesampson@hotmail.com> wrote:
Then there is the family lore, for the website if I haven’t posted it already, together with Sam and Dave’s encounter with a choking jawbreaker. In  my son Brook’s case, as a toddler, he developed horrible bad breath; I could smell him from across the room. I checked the good ole Doctor Spock book of child and baby care, which advised that if a child has bad breath, you should check for an obstacle in his nose. I looked; his nose was totally blocked. Off we went to the pediatrician, who couldn’t remove the obstacle. He sent me home with instructions to squirt water in Brook’s nose repeatedly, then bring him back the next day. The doctor explained that water squirted into the nose will just go down the throat into the stomach, and cause no problems. Brook wasn’t going along with the program, so I had to wrestle him to the floor, sit on him to hold him still, and squirt salt water into his nose.  The next day, the pediatrician told me to hold Brook firmly so he could go after the obstacle with the medical equivalent of a crochet hook. I wrapped my arms around Brook and clasped tight. “That’s great,” the doctor said, “but you’ve trapped my hand, too.” He put Brook in a straight jacket, and removed a big hunk of walnut meat from his nose.
                The doctor said it wasn’t the worse he’d ever seen—a little girl had inhaled artificial hair from a doll. The hair had microscopic barbs that imbedded the hair into the child’s flesh.
                My other son Eric is now raising three boys aged 8, 5, and 2. It’s gotta be scary. SueS
 Samuel R. Sampson  wrote:
Wow, Legos, walnuts and jaw-breakers...what fun, what a family and in the inimitable words of Yakov Smirnoff, what a country!

Eric Martin wrote
Yep, Alison has a strong fear of the boys running with sharp things. I'm not showing her this email. 

I had to take Gil to the emergency room when he got a LEGO stuck in his nose and became hysterical. Fortunately he finally blew it out in the ER parking lot and was immediately fine (and insisted that I save the LEGO). 

Brook Martin says: That picture is awful.   

I still contend that my brother Eric shoved the walnut up my nose. 

Sue Sampson asks: How in the world did he get a Leggo in his nose? Sort of like your brother got a walnut?

Eric says: No way, walnut boy. The secret is that this happened when Alison was out of town, Mac was a newborn and napping, and I totally forgot about him & left him at home when I loaded Vake and Gil into the truck to go to the ER. 

Monday, August 7, 2017



I am printing this with Tina’s permission.

Tina: Years ago, you told me that when you came home from college, Mom came into your bedroom to “help you” unload your suitcase. I know who she was—she would have gathered up everything and washed it in scalding hot water. At least that’s what she did with my Chanel-style white wool sweater, that shrunk to a little worzle. You mention that a bag of herb fell out of your suitcase. Mom saw it, and you were worried that she would tell “Jake.” How did that ever work out? SueS

Mom picked up the baggie and said "What's this?" then "I know what this is!!!"  

I told her "Shhhh, dad will hear you!" So she took on the role of my co-conspirator, and didn't say anything (that I know of....) to dad.

Previous to that happening (I think when I was in high school), both Mom and Uncle John had planted pot seeds (which I think they had gotten from you), to see if they could grow pot. Both Dad and Aunt Betty were very paranoid about it, so in the end both Mom and Uncle John pulled any seeds that had sprouted. And that is how I came to classify Dad as being opposed to pot, but Mom more "chill" about it.