Posts Tagged ‘ History. ’

A WARTIME LOVE AFFAIR THAT LIVES ON

THE HUMAN RACE

 A WORLD WAR II ROMANCE THAT BEGAN

AT THE MAJESTIC BALL ROOM

      It was a night in November 1944. Rain was pelting the sidewalks, lightening was sparking across the Pacific Ocean, and World War II was raging when two 18-year-old kids — a sailor on shore leave off the USS La Grange and a 10-cents-a-dance girl — danced their first dance together.

     Jack Perry, a tall rawboned signalman soon to head off to war aboard the attack transport, had ducked out of the storm into the Majestic Ballroom. It was a legendary haunt at The Pike, an amusement park in Long Beach, California where big bands played and servicemen swayed and jitterbugged with girls for 10-cents a dance.

     Across the packed ballroom floor was Ruth Balding, a statuesque blonde. She had blown her first paycheck as a bank trainee on a coral-colored gaberdine dress with gold-rimmed buttons running down the front.  

     A couple of hours earlier she sat alone in the garage of her parents’ home in nearby Harbor City crying. The storm was ruining her life. She loved to dance. Besides, she wanted to show off her pretty dress that cost a whopping $28. At the last moment, a friend gave her a lift to the Majestic.

     And that’s when the shy swabbie, who grew up in Ajo, a tiny copper mining town in Arizona, forked over a dime to dance with the daughter of a shipyard worker. Although Jack couldn’t jitterbug, one ten-cent dance ticket led to another. And another. And they fell in love.

     But that’s not the end of the story.

     Several weeks later their romantic interlude ended when Jack shipped out headed for a war in the South Pacific which included the invasion of Okinawa. Months later, measured by a stack of censored love letters, the USS La Grange pulled into San Francisco Bay.    

     As the ship’s launch, loaded with sailors, neared the dock, there was a lone woman standing there to greet it. A teary-eyed ten-cents-a-dance girl named Ruth. She had taken a Greyhound bus to San Francisco, talked her way past the shore patrol, and stood alone, shivering in the cold, waiting for the sailor boy who couldn’t jitterbug. The one who, despite kamikaze attacks on his convoy and the fear of death, wrote all those bushy love letters.    

     On November 3, 1946 they were married. Now in their 80s living in Torrance, California, the love affair continues. “There isn’t a day that goes by — with the exception of an occasional catastrophe — that Jack doesn’t make me laugh,” said Ruth. “Happiness. That’s what love is.”

 — Boots LeBaron —

(This and many other human interest stories

interspersed with poetry and essays are featured

in Boots’  current book, THE HUMAN RACE

by Boots LeBaron available on Kindle and in

 paperback on Amazon)

IN THE MIDST OF WAR, MEDIC DELIVERS BABY

THE HUMAN RACE

 

FROM GEN. MacARTHUR’S WAR TO HELPING A POOR KID

 “Respect the living, pray for the dead,

and try to honor those you leave behind.”

                         Vince Migliazzo,

                               World War II Army Medic

 

     Many years ago, a poverty-stricken teenager named John Arrillaga who had nothing to wear for his senior class photo at Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif. So vice-principal Vince Migliazzo not only gave him the shirt off his back, but removed his tie and blazer in exchange for the youngster’s letterman sweater, which he wore for the entire day.       

     The irony: John Arrillaga is now a billionaire. And he won’t let Vince forget it.

     At a recent high school reunion, the real estate mogul reminded Vince of his act of benevolence and asked the retired educator, “What kind of shopping mall can I buy you?” Of course, he was joking.

     “No big deal,” recalled Vince who’s now in his late 80s. “John and his family were surviving on bags of potatoes.”

     America was in the midst of World War II when Vince at 18 was drafted into the Army. Serving as a medic, he first experienced the fear of death when he came across the bodies of four dead GI’s on the beach. That was during the 1944 invasion of the island of Leyte in the Philippines.

     “Until that moment,” he said, “life in the army for me was like being in the Boy Scouts. After a while, you kind of learn to blot out the bad stuff and just do your job.” Yet he still remembers the stench of death, the cries of wounded soldiers.

     In the midst of a crowd of GIs and Filipino fighters, Vince witnessed Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s historic return to the Philippines on Oct. 20, 1944. The general, he recalled, came off a stranded whale boat (landing barge) and waded ashore at the Island of Leyte’s Red Beach. Despite periodic sniper fire, MacArthur climbed onto the bed of a signal-corps truck and made his memorable speech: “People of the Philippines, I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil.”

     Vince recalls the general’s speech actually began with: “This is the voice of freedom…” Although he didn’t witness the “reenactment” of the arrival, the scuttle-butt was MacArthur waded to shore a second time up the beach from the original site later that day or the following day. “But I didn’t see it,” he emphasized.

     But he did witness the ravages of war. In Ormoc, where two regiments of the 24th Infantry Division bore the blunt of the battle of Breakneck Ridge, in three weeks 700 Americans were killed.

     In Carigara, a northern coastal town in Leyte, as the war raged around him, the young Italian-American medic helped deliver a baby girl named Leah Cabales. For decades after the war he communicated with the girl and her family.

     During the battle of Jolo, an island in the southwest Philippines, just before he was struck in the back by shrapnel, Pvt. Jiminez, a mortally wounded buddy, fell across him. “When I went to push him off of me, my hand sunk into the cavity of his wound. I’ll never forget feeling the warm blood.”

     The lesson he brought back from the war was this: “Respect the living, pray for the dead, and try to honor those you leave behind…”

     Former Tech Sgt. Vince Migliazzo, a Purple Heart veteran, is one of a dwindling number of living World War II infantrymen, many whom seldom speak of the painful experiences they encountered so many years ago.

     “Every person, young and old, who goes through the hell of combat, whether it’s World War II or in Afghanistan, must live with those memories for the rest of their lives.”

     Whether you’re giving a student the shirt off your back, trying to save the life of a dying GI, helping deliver a baby in a combat zone, or “just” carting bodies from ravaged battlegrounds, the realities of self-sacrifice remain forever imbedded in the hearts and minds of every person regardless of their silence.

     Vince and his wife, Beverly, reside in Los Angeles. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

 

 

DAVID KENNERLY FOCUSES iPHONE ON THE WORLD

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HUMAN ARTISTS 40,000 YEARS AGO!!

THE HUMAN RACE

FRENCH AND INDONESIAN CAVE PAINTINGS PROVE

THAT HUMANS EXISTED 40,000 YEARS AGO.

     The never-ending debate about the origin of our species and all living matter will never be resolved by words alone. What do you expect? It’s biblical mythology versus anthropology.  

     Same as politics, it would require more than a magic wand to get the human race to agree on anything. What’s scientific logic for one side is spiritual reality for another. When theists like those who believe in Intelligent Design are convinced that a scant 6,000 years ago God created man, woman and the whole shebang, why fight it. That’s their doctrine.

     But if what they preach is fact, why is there a cave known as Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc in Southern France that contains more than 100 wall paintings that anthropologists and paleontologists using radiocarbon dating claim were created by human artists 40,000 years ago?

     The cavernous cave, about 400 miles from Paris, was discovered by three French speleologists, or scientific cave explorers: Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel Deschamps and Christian Hillaire. On December 18, 1994, they found an air current coming from the side of a cliff. They dug and crawled through narrow passages and traversed into pitch-black recesses where they came across an anthropological treasure of prehistoric paintings.  

     On the jagged rock and limestone walls of the hermetically sealed cave, the explorers found meticulously drawn paintings and sketches of galloping horses, cave lions, bison, bears, woolly mammoths, hyenas, rhinos and an engraved owl. It was like Paleolithic man was preparing an art show some thirty-thousand years ago to prove, at least intellectually, that the Neanderthals had lost the evolutionary human race.

     Sadly, there were no paintings of humans on the undulating limestone walls. One artist with a damaged pinky finger left his signature: hand prints throughout the prehistoric bear cave that was curtained in icicle-shaped stalactites hovering above floors cluttered with thousands of animal bones.

     The reason these cave painters created such a show of art is unknown. But there’s no doubt that their gallery was haunted by thoughtful ghosts of the past whose artistic ability rivals contemporary painters and sketchers.

     If it was possible to bring their work to “The Antiques Roadshow,” the value of their creations would leave Picasso, da Vinci and Michelangelo in the cultural dust of time.

     Of course, these ancient people weren’t using brushes, palettes, tubes of color they could purchase from art suppliers the likes of Aaron Bros. or Michael’s. Their “canvas” was a slab of rock. And they worked by torch-light rather than incandescent lamp. Thomas Alva Edison wasn’t even a twinkle in those days.

     Plus, they created their own colors: ocher, red, blue and shades of gray, brown and black.    

     Now, reports the journal Nature, there’s another 40,000 year-old cave art discovered in Indonesia by Dutch archaeologists more than a half-century ago. Finally, through a new U-series dating technique, the reddish-brown hand stencils and paintings of prehistoric animals on limestone cave walls on the island of Sulawesi are scientific time period proof of authenticity.

     What more biblical mythologists biblical say regarding their

claim that God created man a mere 6,000 years ago? They’ve gotta go back to the drawing board and come up with a more logical-sounding approach. “Whoops!” won’t do the trick.

                 — Boots LeBaron —

(“THE HUMAN RACE,” Boots’ new Kindle and

Amazon paperback book covers life, women’s rights,

faith, business, art, showbiz and courage featuring

many human-interest stories, essays and light poetry)

FOR CLYDE GIPSON, LIFE WAS AN OPEN BOOK.

THE HUMAN RACE

A SHOESHINE MAN WITH WORDS THAT SPARKLE

      As if controlled by a heavenly spigot, the rains abruptly ceased and the dense cloud cover cracked, allowing a stream of sunlight to filter across the asphalt where Clidell Gipson was standing beside his shoeshine stand.  

     Nothing supernatural. It happens all the time. Even in Gardena, California. It was a lousy afternoon until Clide, 60, a black man with a goatee, wearing a cap, Levis, a blue shirt and sweater, opened his mouth. The words flowed easily. His essay was hope. He was a beam of sunshine standing on the asphalt beside a carwash in a pair of unshined shoes.   The sixth eldest in a family of 22 brothers and sisters, he was born and raised on a cotton farm just outside Shreveport, Louisiana. At the age of seven, he began shining shoes with his brother, Willy. He had no formal education. But when he turned on his spigot, a torrent of love and street wisdom flowed out — almost like poetry.

     When I interviewed Clide a number of years ago, lived in a small apartment in Watts, had 17 grown children and 29 grandchildren. Ella, his wife and the mother of his entire brood, was dead.

     “My daddy used to tell us, ‘If you learn a business, you can live anywhere, stay honest and you don’t have to steal from nobody… Then, you can go to bed with your clothes off, not with your clothes on.’

     “First thing I teach my kids is… get a good education. Some of them have. Second thing: Be honest! One of my boys was killed a couple of years ago. Gang killing. I love them all. Since they all belong to me, I got no choice!

     “If I had it to do over again, I’d be a machinist. Yeah. You can’t make enough shining shoes for 65 cents a pair. I had to have two jobs to support my kids. I ran the machines in a laundry.”      Especially in Louisiana, Clide has seen his share of racial prejudice. “I don’t go for discrimination. Not at all. Life shouldn’t be troubled by prejudice. We got other problems…” He laughed.

     “I don’t care if you’re white, pink, yellow, green… We all was put here together and we should care about one another. That’s what’s wrong with the world today. We’re fighting amongst ourselves. I think we all need each other — to a certain extent.     

     “Why should I teach my kids to hate — to be prejudice? That’s no good. You carry hate around, it gets heavy after a while. Then you do something real bad. Maybe kill somebody. Bang! Since we’re here for such a short time, it don’t make sense.”

     For several years, Clide, had been fighting bone cancer. “Sometimes my legs cramp so bad, they won’t let me get up. I’ve gone through some tough times… No use complaining.

     “You never get ‘the religion’ until you start hurtin’,” he shrugged. “Soon as you quit hurtin’, then you stop talking to Jesus. That happens!

     “Whether I’m hurtin’ or not, I thank the Lord every day. I don’t go to church as often as I should. But I believe in God.

     “‘Course, I still can’t figure where I’m going… Up there!” he points to the sky. “Or down there!” he points to the asphalt. I pay no mind to dyin’.  

     “The President dies. Movie stars die. If you’re poor, you’re gonna die. If you’re rich, your gonna die. I don’t begrudge a rich person for what he has. If he treats me like a man and I treat him like a man, that’s fine! When our time comes, we’re gone. All the money in the world don’t buy you extra time.”

     Clide has accomplished some “goals” in his lifetime that he feels are of consequence. “Raisin’ a family, caring for people — those are important! Can’t think of anything more important in this short life than doing for your fellow man.

     “I’ve gone to the end of my road; did what I had to do. Had kids. Did the best I could raisin’ them. Had some good times and a whole lot of struggles.  

     “Sometimes you sit up nights wondering how you’re going to support them; you worry about them. Just trying to be a good father — that’s more important than shining shoes.

     “There was plenty of times I could have taken a strap to myself.” he said laughing. “I’ve made a bunch of mistakes. Some was funny; some I don’t even want to talk about.

       “When I was a kid, I didn’t get no spankings. But I got a lot of whippings. I’ve spanked my kids — every one of them. You spank them because you care for them, not because you want to hurt them.”

     With 17 children, how could you spank all of them?

     “Easy… One at a time!” he roared.

     Shining shoes, says Clide, “ain’t that important in the scheme of things. You’ve got to love it to do it. Funny thing about shoeshining. A shoeshine person, he don’t never shine his own shoes. I don’t know why. I used to come home and Ella would go, ‘You go out and get those shoes shined!’ It’s just like a mechanic, I guess. He’ll fix everybody else’s car but his own!”

     Clidell Gipson — a burst of sunlight on an asphalt parking lot.

                        — Boots LeBaron —

(Clyde Gipson was an eloquent man who preached

his view of life while shining shoes at a car wash)

HUMANITY’S SUFFOCATING OUR OWN BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

THE HUMAN RACE

 

GREED, VIOLENCE, CORRUPTION GROW ON EARTH LIKE FLOWERS IN THE SUN

 

      There’s such an abundance of glorious things to mutilate, decimate and pillage on Earth, is it any wonder why greed, violence and corruption flourish here like flowers in the sun?  

     Since humankind’s monetary system plays such an integral role in civilization’s scheme of things, and since life (human and other animal species) has come to be regarded as expendable, the Homo sapient has quickly learned how to kill without conscience, without regret, without cause — even without hate.

     Sometimes we kill for profit. Sometimes for retribution. Oh, yes, we are Earth’s wondrous two-legged creatures with superior intellects that are proving to be so inferior. For centuries we have been swarming across the globe, spitting in the eye of Mother Nature, multiplying like beatles, tearing down forests, building and firing murderous weapons, constantly developing new technology, polluting rivers, streams and oceans as well as the air we breath, and in myriad ways suffocating our own brothers and sisters.

     Wow! We are such brilliant opportunists. By the time we make Planet Earth uninhabitable, perhaps we will have found another virgin planet to destroy. Or, maybe, because of the catastrophe we wrought upon ourselves and the others we share this sphere with, we will by then have learned to care. And even to sacrifice our creature comforts.

     Hopefully, it won’t be too late.

 

              — Boots LeBaron

(THE HUMAN RACE written by Boots is a self-help book

containing humor as well asinspirational interviews,

light poetry and essays about life, love, showbiz, art,

 courage, death and the workplace. It’s for sale on

Kindle and on Amazon in paperback)

            

SURFBOARDER/ARTIST’S VIEW OF LIFE

THE HUMAN RACE

                                      SURFBOARDER-ARTIST’S GLIMPSE AT LIFE

 

20140804-222340-80620285.jpg

                                                                                                   A Craig Cambra original           

     The lone surfer, a young man in black trunks, straddled the shortboard looking out to sea, waiting for a wave at 15th Street in Manhattan Beach, Calif. It was going to be another hot Tuesday in August.

     As it is today, the world was in turmoil. Bad news was everywhere. The O.J. Simpson double homicide, the Whitewater mess, the Rwanda refugee crisis, the bloody turf conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the AIDS dilemma, drive-by shootings, suicide terrorists…

     At the time, Craig Cambra, a promising young artist, sat on his board unperturbed. The water was refreshingly cool on that early overcast morning. In fact, the 25-year-old graphic designer and fine artist left all the news and personal woes on shore with the rest of the city which was just beginning to stir.

     For Craig, there was more important things than politics and catastrophes on his mind. For example: The wedge. It was breaking just right. And he was in the perfect spot to catch it. He began paddling. Harder. Faster. Harder. Into the foam. Up on his feet. God, what a feeling. There was no describing it.

     The wave belonged to him. He was on top of it. He caught a right, pulled into a bottom turn, smacked the wave straight up… And bam! He threw the tail, slid with the crest of the wave, reversed, executed another bottom turn, then another and another until the wave pooped out.    

     As he paddled back out to sea, the muscles in his arms, shoulders and chest were tight. The thighs and calves ached just enough to tell him that the muscles and tendons did their job. His heart was pounding in his neck. For a surfer, it was a great feeling. It had been what he had described as “a good ride.”

    As he balanced on his 6-foot-2 board, manipulating the power of the breakers, Craig Cambra’s paradise was licking at his feet, propelling him through the water like a wild, untamed force compliments of the Pacific Ocean and Mother Nature.

     Despite politics and escalating global perils, the sinewy young dude’s world beneath him was clean and fresh and exhilarating.

     To a non-surfer, there’s no describing the experience of catching a “wedge” or a “peak,” harnessing the power, and “ripping away” from start to finish.

     “You’re just amped,” he explained. “It’s like a movie. You’re thinking about it as you leave, remembering all the surprises, and you go, ‘God, that was great!’ People who don’t surf can’t comprehend the exaltation you experience. Lots of people try to compare other sports to surfing. You can’t. Every ride, every wave is different.”

     During that watery moment, for Craig at least, there was nothing more in life than riding out a wave. Nothing. No problems. No gridlock. No bills. No heartaches. No anxieties.  

     In other words, for a surfboarder whose father died when he was three, who was raised by his mother, Nora, and whose older brothers, Rick and Phil “took my father’s place and did the best they could with a rowdy like me,” King Neptune was his psychiatrist.

     When he was 12-years-old, his oldest brother, Phil, loaded the youngster and an old 7-ft. Kanoa surfboard in his car and took him to 15th Street.

     “At the time,” recalled Craig, “I was scared. The waves looked awful big. He put me on the board, walked me out to the midbreak, turned me around and shoved me into the whitewash.

     “The hardest thing about catching a wave,” he said, “is learning to balance and stroking. I stood up, fell, stood up, fell.” He laughed. “When I finally rode one, I was on my own.”

     Ever since the first lesson, he has been surfing. And in recent years, surfing alone.

     “For me,” he said smiling, “it beats psychiatry all to hell. I mean, you wake up and the sun is shining. Rather than stare at the ceiling, you grab your board and head for the beach. There’s no one else around. You catch a few fun waves. When you get out of the water, you’ve had a good workout. You know you’ve done something for your body and your mind.”

     As he sat on his board waiting for King Neptune to blow a wave his way, he saw the world from a different vantage point than the people preparing themselves for life on the job in the city.

     “Every day when I’m out there, I can look out at the horizon. The sky is never the same. Gray, black, blue, speckled with clouds, it’s always beautiful and never the same.

     “I usually surf on week days — that’s when everybody else is making money,” said the free-lance graphic designer and fine artist who graduated in May from California State University, Long Beach, with a degree in (what else?) art.

     “Almost every time I go into the water, I see schools of porpoise, sometimes as many as 40. I’ve never seen a shark in these waters (like the great white that attacked a swimmer off the Manhattan Beach Pier in July 2014). But I’d recognize one if I saw one. As they move, their dorsal fin cuts across the water while the fin of a porpoise rises and falls.

     “Believe me,” he went on, “if I spotted a shark fin, I’d be outta there so fast you’d hear a sonic boom.”

     Pelicans, he said, are frightening birds. They are huge and powerful. One time while I was surfing in Malibu, one got hung up in my cinch line. It came after me like a dive bomber. Maybe he thought I was a big sardine.”

     Ordinarily, he said, “pelicans will gain altitude and dive, splashing into the water after a meal. Then they’ll bob to the surface with their breakfast in their pouch. Awkwardly, they’ll take off, flapping those giant wings.   Then awkwardly with a considerable amount of effort will take off, gain altitude and soon will be of sight.

     “Pelicans like sea gulls can’t surf but they can’t love this ocean more than I do,” said the graphic designer-artist-surfboarder who’s now an expert on all three arts.

 

                        — Boots LeBaron —

 

(Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE, is available

on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com)

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