LRAFB, AR – 314th Avionics Maintenance Squadron
It was the Spring of 1984 and I was going to my first competitive bicycle race with an awesome bike that I picked up in Germany while on TDY (Temporary Duty) to the UK the previous Fall. I actually picked up a frame and the components and built the bike from the ground up – including taking a pile of spokes, two hubs and two rims and making perfectly true wheels. Being stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas I joined up with the cycling club sponsored by The Chainwheel in Little Rock.
The Life of a Young GI During The Cold War
President Ronald Reagan was my Commander-In-Chief and William Jefferson Clinton was the Governor of Arkansas. I worked the graveyard shift as an Aircraft Electrician (AFSC 42350) from midnight to 0700 hours and had the freedom to train in those AR hills out the back of the base during the day. My life at that time was very simple – fulfill my duties for Uncle Sam each day and ride for hours in-between shifts. Food, clothing (all in olive drab), and shelter were provided. I did not own a car and expenses were low. Life was simple and my level of responsibility was quite very low then. Oh, to be 19 again.
Destination Tahlequah, OK
I traveled one Friday with several guys from the racing club to somewhere in Oklahoma for a Saturday race. I do not recall much from that race besides learning that I was not in the level of fitness and competitive prowess that I expected and was left in the dust during the actual race. After driving three or four hours we made it to the little town of Tahlequah, OK and set out on the race course for a training ride to loosen up our legs. While riding those rural roads of eastern Oklahoma I recall going by a small country house with a fence around the yard. As we approached and went by a medium-sized dog came running up from the back yard and followed in our direction while making himself known with by barking. Close on the heals of the pooch came a mid-sized pig behaving the same as the dog minus the annoying bark – “Did you guys see that pig?”.
The Tahlequah Pig
This little guy/gal made a huge impression upon my life. I had never seen a pig outside the context of being raised for slaughter. He lived along the dog as a pet. I have never forgotten about that strange and funny incident. Here we are in 2018 – nearly 34 years hence and I am writing this to share the entire story – mostly with my wonderful daughter who has convinced me to become Vegan.
So Pigs Can Be Pets?
Yes. Somebody back then on that rural OK road had a huge heart and a great sense of humor and because of that I recently set a goal to:
Rescue a Cat, a Dog, and a Pig
Sometime in the very near future when I am in a place – as in a house where I can have pets – I would like to open that home to a feline, canine and a small or medium-sized pig. What is the equivalent name for pig (as in feline – cat; canine – dog)?
There are many reasons I became Vegan – environmental, health, ethics, etc., etc. – but The Tahlequah Pig comes to mind daily. I have repeatedly shared that I don’t miss anything I am not choosing to consume now that I am Vegan. #Idon’tmissit
I will start here is a simple text-only story adding photos/graphics later.
Sibley Square-Rochester, NY
While sitting in a coffee shop yesterday and cranking up my laptop that little message from my backup program appeared in the top right of my display to alert me to the fact of “No backups on xxxx for 99 days”. So I scribbled down some numbers on my notepad – yup I’ve been here 99 days since driving up from PA on July 31st.
Today is 100 days. It takes three weeks to develop a new habit – so what has happened during my 100 days here?
I’ve reconnected with some ‘old’ friends. Been to a funeral for one of those friend’s dad. Reminisced for hours about the good, bad, and ugly from our early years.
I have spent hours, days, and weeks in coffee shops working on various businesses & projects, and visiting with those friends – we’re getting old together.
I stayed in an AirBnb, did some house-sitting (don’t ask me about their tropical fish), stayed in an hotel for a full month, and finally found a small furnished apartment situated near those cool coffee shops.
I took a pilgrimage to a very special childhood place. Hiked in the most awesome state park in the country – my happy place.
I joined a local fitness club and gotten myself there nearly every day of the week. This awesome place is class-based and has challenged me to try some different types of workouts for the first time. The people there are amazing – both the instructors and other gym rats.
I discovered remote and quiet bicycle trails where the only traffic is an occasional passing deer, squirrel or snake.
I made the move to get the ‘change of scenery’ that my heart, soul, and mind have been yearning to see for several some years.
I came here to work as part of the core sales team of a startup biz based in the area. Things are going very well on that front. So much more has happened.
Being self-employed I have great freedom to maintain the work I do remotely while delving into other opportunities.
It has been a very fast and fruitful 100 days.
The big question is – where next?
During the month of September I took a pilgrimage back to the beautiful Adirondack Mountains in New York State. I had not been there in 25+ years.
In my early years we would travel as a family to Indian Lake – both a small town and a lake – to visit my dad’s sister and mother. Aunt Peggy and Grandma Beckary had an house in town and during the Summer months stayed outside the town in the house that Grandpa Beckary built in 1917. My dad sold the Beckary House in 1987 and it has changed hands several times since then.
Blue Mt. Lake Inn, Hamilton County
I stayed at the Blue Mountain Lake Inn and enjoyed meeting very nice people there. Meredith the Innkeeper is a lovely young lady who is native to the area and had great recommendations for places to explore.
There was a co-working couple from Holland who took advantage of their weekend and wandered from their consulting job in Central New York to check out Blue Mt and the surrounding area.
It was fun to have breakfast with them and regroup after dinner to share stories of our adventures that day.
This trip was a bit of a pilgrimage for me to see the area I knew as a kid but have been away from for 30 years. I needed some closure on the fact that the House was no longer in the hands of a Beckary and am happy to report it is in very good hands. The current owner and his rescued cat are having a great time there.
The Pig – Route 30 North of Speculator
One of the highlights of the drive up from Perry in Western NYS was the annual sighting of The Pig – a rock that was resembled the face of a pig and was repainted from time to time over the years. The Pig is on NY Route 30 north of Speculator and was a sign that we were almost to grandma’s house!
The last time I encountered The Pig was in 1986. I was thrilled on this trip to see that someone has maintained the paint tradition.
Annual Moose Festival – Indian Lake
I set out on my first full day to see Town of Indian Lake much to my surprise was able to take part in their annual Moose Festival. I posed with the only moose I saw – he did not talk much but was very accommodating when it came to photo ops.
I saw the two houses in town where my Aunt and Grandma lived in back then. They were both a bit run down from when I last saw them and one has an ice cream parlor on the side.
I don’t expect too many people to be around who would remember any of our family as it has been so many years.
Beckary House – Dr. Albert M. Beckary 1917
Prior to the trip I was unsuccessful in reaching the current owner of the House and was blessed to meet up with him there. The Brown Family has lived next door to the Beckary House for generations. Elva Brown is the matriarch and remembered me when I dropped by. I have learned to check in with her before heading to the House as she drove up on an ATV and greeted me with a shotgun across her lap when I visited after being discharged from the Air Force in 1986. A lady friend and I hung out there for a several days back then and learned quickly that Elva was watching the road. This time I checked in with the gatekeeper who remembered “Beckary” after 30 years and informed me that “Jimmy” (the current owner of the House) was on his way. Elva is watching, Elva knows all.
Long & narrow driveway to house
This long narrow driveway brings back some memories. Family legend claims that this is reminiscent of Grandpa Beckary’s homeland of France.
My strongest memory of this driveway is when the car brakes gave out on one of our guests as he pulled to the top and was going to back into a side lane – he wound up navigating a speeding car backwards through those trees until the car slowed on the flat.
This happened after we went on some sightseeing with the mom and dad of our guest family. My dad navigated and narrated while I proceeded to vomit the large quantity of Oreo Cookies and milk I had just eaten before the drive. I did not do well on these roads – carsickness maximus.
Details aside – I should have stayed back at the house and passed on the three-hour tour.
Beckary House up on the hill
The Beckary House was built by my Grandpa Albert M. Beckary (my brother’s namesake) as a retirement property. Grandpa came over from Belfort, Alsace-Lorraine, France at the age of 16 (which I estimate was 1893).
He came over via Ellis Island and lived in NYC. He was a Naval Apothecary during the War of 1898 and went on to graduate from the Cornell Medical School practicing as a Family Doctor. His list of patients include J.P. Morgan’s granddaughter and some Vanderbilts. He was also well-known for being a French Chef.
He died in 1959, five years before I came on the scene so I never got to meet him.
Backyard view looking South
The House has some really cool features. My favorites include the huge porch that wraps around two sides and the HUGE stone fireplace.
My dad sold the place in 1987 and we were a bit sad to see it go. In reality – we were not in a place to maintain it making me glad that someone is enjoying it and taking great care of it. A new roof and siding are schedule to be installed in the near future.
Jimmy gave me a tour inside and allowed me to take photos outside.
Rusty the Iron Dog
Rusty is an iron statue of sorts that watches over the Browns property.
I was very glad to see that he is still there and has an abundance of pine cones to eat – that’s what we fed him as kids.
I feel closure and a sense of letting the place go. Perhaps there will be a Beckary House II in a nice quiet corner of the planet earth someday.
Me climbing Blue with a dog named Mango
Day 2 – after a nice Blue Mt. Lake Inn breakfast I set off with the Innkeeper’s dog Mango for a hike up Blue Mountain – or “Blue” as the locals call it.
It was a steep and rocky climb that I found a bit difficult. Prepared with protein bars, bananas and water for both my companion and me we made it to the top and enjoyed the following view.
View from Blue Mountain Fire Tower
This speaks for itself and made the difficult hike well worth it.
Blue Mountain Lake panorama
Peaceful Peace Out.
Manchester England experienced an horrific terrorist attack Monday evening May 22nd. I have been watching the live coverage on Sky News to stay informed on the aftermath of this tragedy.
Tuesday evening local UK time a vigil was held in the center of Manchester with civil and religious leaders gathered to share a few words. Poet Tony Walsh read a poem about Manchester and quoted Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem – commonly referred to as the unofficial anthem of England. Jerusalem is much like God Bless America – often sung before our nation anthem or in times of turmoil here in the USA – and known by all.
In 1916 Hubert Parry wrote an anthem based on William Blake’s poem And Did Those Feet In Ancient Times with the rest being history.
There are several versions of the song from the traditional style one would expect Queen Elizabeth to have on her playlist to a very jazzy version done my Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The one that stands out for me is from the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire with the song being sung in a church. Interestingly enough, Jerusalem includes the phrase Chariots of Fire in its lyrics.
I had the privilege of going TDY (Temporary Duty) in the Fall of 1983 as a young Airman and have returned for several other trips, the last in 2000. I always felt at home in the UK, having been to Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England during my various travels. I am of the Heinz 57 Variety with ancestry from several countries including England and Ireland. I was able to blend in and recall being asked for directions while roaming around the beautiful City of Cambridge. I will return someday soon and sadly may find it very different than my last journey there.
I wanted to get my thoughts out and published here – I’ll add photos later.
Tune in next time:
Something that caught my attention watching the Sky News coverage was the use of the phrase Minute of Silence. I have always heard it called a Moment of Silence. Perhaps I just discovered yet another difference between the USA and our English-speaking friends across the pond. More on this later. (Americans are in too much of a hurry!)
A wise man once told me that Morality cannot be legislated.
In light of recent chatter over North Carolina’s HB2 we are seeing the Departments of Education and Justice Legislate Tolerance. The Boss and others have shared their opinions and now the White House is threatening to pull federal funding from public schools nationwide that do not follow its decree of making all bathrooms accessible to transgenders based on their chosen identity.
Attorney General Lynch likens the opposition of HB2 similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that abolished white-only bathrooms.
In an age where states are trying to take back control of issues that many believe should be legislated at the local and not federal level, we have the DOJ filing suit against NC while the White House is going beyond social engineering with a move being considered blackmail.
What would The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr think about this?
This telegram was sent to my dad in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York State from his uncle WT Farley in Albany as a means of congratulations after he graduated from Union Law School. The FBI was the next step in his life.