Posts Tagged ‘ the Workplace ’

NAVAL COMMANDER LOCKS HORNS WITH GEN. PATTON

THE HUMAN RACE

 

WORLD WAR II MEMORIES OF GEN.’BLOOD-AND-GUTS’ PATTON

 

     Naval Commander Lloyd J. Ellis wasn’t about to let “Old Blood and Guts” intimidate him. As Gen. George S. Patton boarded

the troop carrier, anchored off the coast of Southern Italy, Ellis

stepped forward and snapped a salute.

     Only then did he notice that Patton had a pit bull terrier on a leash. “Hey, sir! You can’t bring that dog aboard this ship. Dogs are nothing but bad luck!” barked the husky young officer.

     “Is that so?” growled the legendary general pleasantly.

     “No animals allowed aboard this ship, sir! That’s the rule.”

     “Let’s you and I go to your office and we’ll talk about that… rule,” said Patton.

     Ellis was 78-years-old and living in a convalescent home when he told me this story in 1989.

     Of course, the confrontation with Patton took place aboard the USS Thomas W. Hyde, a troop carrier. It was in the midst of World War II and marked the beginning of what Ellis described as a shipboard friendship with the famous general, transporting him and hid Third Army troops across the Mediterranean.

     Twice, recalled Ellis, he brought Patton into two major battles in Southern France. As he stood barring Patton and his bull dog from boarding the ship, he recalled these words of old Blood and Guts: “Let me tell you something, mister Admiral. A smart man will sometimes change his mind. But a fool never will.  What are you????”

     “I gave in,” said Ellis. Let him keep the damn dog, but made him promisethat he wouldn’t let it eat in the dining room. That was a laugh. He fed his dog scraps at his table.

     “It was quite a sight. Patton marching around the deck with those pearl-handled Colts with that dog at his heels. I think he called him Willie. It was the ugliest pooch I’ve ever seen. A steward would follow them around, cleaning up its messes.”

     Ellis said he developed a “close friendship and respect” for Patton. On land and aboard two troop carriers, he transported the general and his GI’s into two invasions in Southern France. He also helped evacuate Patton’s troops from Southern Italy.

     “We did get into a lot of quarrels. But he always chose to ride on our ship. I guess that was because he liked to argue. We did a little bit of drinking, too. He drank nothing but Scotch — White Horse — out of the bottle.”

     Ellis recalled teasing Patton about his pistols. “Aboard ship, he usually wore a campaign cap, infantry boots, with them guns on his hips. One time I told him something like, ‘I figure the only reason a man would carry two pistols is that he’s scared!’      “He didn’t appreciate that. He told me, ‘If you’re so fucking brave, how come you didn’t join the Army?'”

     Having seen so many of his shipmates die, and having lost a younger brother in the war, Ellis a times was embittered about the mounting Allied death tolls.

     When he brought the subject up, he quoted Patton saying, “Don’t tell me any stories about death. I’ve seen too much of it!”

     Another time Ellis laughed when Patton told him that he wanted to personally shoot Hitler. “He said, ‘Don’t you laugh! That son of a bitch gave me trouble in North Africa, Sicily, and all over Italy. I’m personally going to shoot his ass — in Berlin.”

     Aboard the USS Thomas W. Hyde, Ellis and Patton were present when a dog,smuggled aboard by Patton’s troops, gave birth to three pups — a male and two females.

     “The next morning at breakfast, he named the male Thomas, and the females, W. and Hyde after the name of our ship. When we landed the troops in Naples, they [infantrymen] took them ashore.

     In Toulon, a seaport city in Southern France, Ellis claimed he brought Patton and an Army lieutenant to brothel. “It was above a bar. There were two armed Germans hiding in a closet. The lieutenant wounded both of them. I don’t want to say anymore.

     “After they hauled them away, Patton called me a sap and said they could have killed us. Then he joked: ‘It wouldn’t have mattered if they shot you. But I’m not ready to die.”

     Ellis described Patton as “an intelligent man, He cared about his troops. He was hard headed with a good sense of humor. Told a lot of jokes — the kind you’d never tell in a Baptist Church. He had this thing about being the ancestor of ancient warriors. I never took him seriously about that.

     The last time Ellis recalled being with Patton was aboard the Hyde. “We shook hands. I told him that I was going to try and get

a pass to Berlin; that I wanted to go to Hitler’s funeral. He thought I was serious. But I was just ribbing him.”

     General Patton, whose military career under his “mentor” John J. Pershing fighting Poncho Villa in 1916, died in Germany on December 21, 1945. Ironically, the cause of death wasn’t from a bullet or bomb. He suffered fatal injuries in an automobile accident.

     The reason I met the retired Naval and Maritime commander Ellis was when the then-mayor Katy Geissert) of Torrance, California, told me about an old serviceman in a convalescent home who had his American flag stolen. She said it had been autographed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. So I never saw the flag. And I’ve always wondered about the creditability of Comdr. Ellis’s story. Yet, during several long interviews, the old salt convinced me that truth was his weapon. And I loved every hour of it.

     I know you’re no longer with us, Lloyd, but it’s Veteran’s Day,  commander. Wherever you are, keep talking about those war experiences. Hope you  got your American flag returned.

 

         — Boots LeBaron

EXPERIENCING SELF PITY? USE HUMOR AS YOUR WEAPON

PUTTING A FACE ON THE HUMAN RACE

EXPERIENCING SELF PITY? TRY TAP-DANCING

IT AWAY ON THE STAGE OF LIFE!

We are all starring in The Theater of the

Absurd. Look into the mirror. See yourself?

Even at your saddest moment of

wretchedness, study the character gawking

back at you. Notice the bloodshot eyes, the

twitch, the frown etched in deep furrows.

Pretty pathetic, huh? Now look deeper. There’s

a gladiator hiding behind that gloomy

facade. I don’t care how you’ve failed

or how your spirit was damaged. Give your

memory sack a good shake and there’ll be

an assortment of memorable moments spilling

out. Guaranteed, you’re gonna find something

to howl, growl or smile about. I know, I know.

You’re uncomfortable. But don’t hide. You’re

tap-dancing under the glare of the spotlight,

sharing the stage with billions whose tragedies

would dwarf the grief you’re experiencing.

You’re suffering an ego attack. Maybe a broken

heart? Everybody gets them. So stop fretting!

Even in the midst of catastrophic sadness,

there is humor. When my childhood friend,

Dick (Bumbo) Channon died at 52, I had his mother

and sister laughing. I dropped a handful of

bubble gum into his open casket. Memories are

made of happiness. Fun, never dies easy.

When my Irish pal, Frank Francis O’Leary

recently kicked the bucket, I wrote a

story turning the portly aerospace

physicist into a leprechaun stuck in a

tree. Death might be an emotional disaster for

many, but beyond those woe-be-gone tears lurks

the soul of truth that’s ready to spring forth

and bite you on the buttocks, infecting your

solemnness with happy memories. Truth harbors

a helluva sense of humor. You just gotta remember

the good times. So, if you want to temporarily

overcome those doldrums, here’s my suggestion:

Go into the bathroom and lock the door. As I

suggested earlier, find the mirror. You’re all

alone, right? Now bend over and give yourself

a kick in the ass. If you’re not double-

jointed, pull down your pants or panties and

“moon” the mirror. That act, I suspect, will give

you good reason to rise above self pity. You might even

realize what a pathetic looking asshole you are.

Remember: Laughter beats tears.


— Boots LeBaron —

LEOPARD EYES PULCHRITUDE AT A ‘JUNGLE’ WATERING HOLE

THE HUMAN RACE

 

A DARK LIQUID OASIS WHERE YOUNG AND OLD CATS MINGLE

The old leopard

sits in the shade at a

jungle watering hole

known by local natives in

the Manhattan Beach Village

as The Coffee Bean.

Waiting and watching,

he crouches stealthily

sipping on his mocha latte.

He’s seen better days.

His vision is waning.

His quickness is gone.

The fangs are yellowing,

loose and brittle.

The muscles no longer

ripple beneath taut skin.

He’s losing fur

that once was coarse,

ocher, and speckled with

myriad shaped black jots.

He watches morsels

parade by innocently

slurping the magic liquid

that makes life

so socially grand.

But the memories of

his wild predator days

still linger in his heart.

Ancient and pumping,

it’s still

the heart

of a leopard.

 

Boot LeBaron

CAFE SERVER’S MEANINGFUL VIEW OF THE HUMAN RACE

THE HUMAN RACE

MEET THE BALLERINA OF THE KETTLE COFFEEHOUSE.

     With the grace a ballet dancer, Linda Marie Lauckhardt, balancing heavy plates of food on one arm, glided across the floor side stepping customers, and snake-hipped her way around a maze of tables to deliver her cumbersome cargo.  

     It was a performance that the statuesque green-eyed waitress repeated literally thousands of times during a career that spanned 37 years. It ended rather abruptly after thirteen years of toting culinary freight at The Kettle, a popular 24-hour restaurant/coffee shop in Manhattan Beach, Calif.  

     Linda told me that she had quit the serving profession because she couldn’t keep up with the physical demands of “being the best I can be.

     “I’m the kind of person who runs, not walks,” she said. “My body just couldn’t take the beating.” In many restaurants, she noted, “the attitude of management toward waiters and waitresses seems to be apathetic. The truth is, good waitresses are NOT easy to find.

     “I’ve never been the kind of person who’d just as soon pick up their money and run. When I clear off a table, the last thing I think about is the tip. If they don’t leave a tip, I figure they can’t afford it. When they come back, they get the same care as anyone else. When they run across an exceptional waitress, customers know.”

     Linda, in her late 40s when I interviewed her, had been serving people most of her life. When she was a 4th grader in San Pedro, she dropped out of elementary school to help support her family which included 11 brothers and sisters.

     At the age of ten, her brothers and sisters, many of them parented by different fathers, were split up and Linda began living in a series of foster homes. At 12 years old, she lied about her age to get a job working 10-hour shifts as a “steamer” in a Chinese laundry. When the owner learned she was under age, she was fired.

     From the day she was born to a waitress in a Sweetwater, Texas hotel, adversity was her nemesis. “My mother,” she said, “wasn’t the kind of mommy who’d sit you on her lap and hug you.” So when most little girls were playing house, Linda “was playing mother” in real life trying to keep her family together.

     When other little girls were playing with dolls, Linda made her doll out of a Coca Cola bottle. “We had a lot of mouths to feed and for a time we couldn’t afford the luxury of toys.”

     Perhaps that’s why for more than two decades, her advocation has been making dolls. During that time, she has made and sold more than 150 antique Jumeau French doll replicas and 400 Teddy Bears. Her home in Big Bear, Calif. where she lived with her husband, Rich, who was an avionics technician, was filled with dolls, cats, stray dogs and neighborhood children.

     She and Rich were married when she was 14 and he was 16. They had no children. When she retired, Linda was about turning her avocation into a full-time profession. Authentic Jumeau antique originals at the time, she said, sold for more than $6,000. Her replicas which she made from scratch, took three months to create. She’d pour her own porcelain molds and sew the clothes by hand. Her replicas were selling for as much as $475. Her handmade Teddy Bears were going for $50 to $75.  

     The only fantasy she rememberd as a teenager was wanting to be a singer like Ella Fitzgerald or Kaye Starr. But when there’s “mouths to feed, clothes to buy, and diapers to change, a young girl’s dreams can somehow get lost in reality.”

     Despite the difficult early years of her childhood, the girl from Sweetwater found love rather than bitterness, pride rather than self-effacement, compassion rather than anger with the human race she waited on throughout the years.

     “I loved being a waitress,” she said, then confessed, “I’ve run across my share of hateful customers. They’ve managed to slither out from under a rock somewhere determined to ruin my day. You learn to handle the bad apples. But I’ve been fortunate to have served too many caring people in life to worry about the stinkers.”

     When she approached one “stinker” while working at The Kettle, he snarled, “Get away from here; I’ll let you know when I want you!”   Early in her career as a server, working a graveyard shift at Norm’s, a long established restaurant chain in Los Angeles County, a customer screamed profanities at Linda causing her to break down crying. Then, she recalled, “He predicted: ‘You’ll never make it as a waitress because you can’t take it!'”   

     Of course, the other side of the coin is much brighter. After serving a two-dollar breakfast to a “regular” at Norm’s restaurant in Torrance, Calif., he tipped her with a jar containing $100 worth of Mercury-head dimes.

     At The Kettle, one satisfied woman customer gave her a gold-antique cameo that belonged to her dead mother. A bank president would bring her roses regularly.

     “I believe that every day, if you do something for somebody — on the job or in the streets — you’re doing something for yourself. You can never be too giving or too kind-hearted.”

     — Boots LeBaron

HITTING AN ABUSIVE BOSS WITH TRUTH WAS A SOUL SAVER

THE HUMAN RACE

OFFICE OGRES  DESERVE TO SUFFER  EXASPERATION, TOO!

 

Even bosses are not immune to exasperation.

Subjected to bullying from abusive bosses,

guys and gals who vent their own wrath against

such higher-ups,should think twice before

they perform  the honcho pounce .

For any working stiff,  uncompromising honesty

could result in political suicide.  Here’s my story:

Although I had a family to support and bills

to pay, I had no alternative than to leave a bitemark

on an office executive’s conscience. When my boss

invited me into his Century City office, closed

the door, sat me down across from him  and asked,

“What do you think of me?” my guard was down.

The corporate vice-president had taken

me to lunch several times and had confessed 

his personal woes.  So innocently I crawled into his

ring, dropped my dukes, and naively asked if he wanted

the truth? When he shot me smile and shrugged

disarmingly, looking more like Jimmy Stewart than

Godzilla, I gave him a dose of honesty:

“You are a sonuvabitch, Jake.

You mistreat employees. Throw tantrums.

Slam your office door so hard that pictures

fall off the wall. You phone your secretary at

five sharp every afternoon. For fear of losing

her job, she can’t leave even three minutes early.

You have her bring in Starbucks in the morning,

lie to clients about your availability.

On her own time, you have her pick up your

laundry and buy gifts for your wife.”

Although he didn’t bat an eyelash, the veins in his

neck looked like they were going to explode.

Jonathan didn’t speak to me for several weeks.

Finally, he fired me. A few days later, I was told,

the president of the company sent him a memo

telling him that he couldn’t attend a showbiz

conference in New Orleans because he was needed

to make a new business presentation. In a tizzy fit,

Jake marched into the president’s office,

 tore up  the memo, and tossed the shreds into the

secretary’s face. “Tell the boss,” he snapped, “this is what

 I think of his memo!” When the supreme commander

returned that afternoon,  Jake, his irreplaceable

vice president, offered: “I’ll give you four weeks

to replace me.” Almost instantly, he fired

Jake, which wasn’t his real name,

and rehired me. The object of this true

 story is: In any business environment,

think before you reveal a painful truth to any

workplace superior who is capable of

suffocating you professionally. If the ogre is leading

with his chin like Jake did, you have

a couple of options: Think defensively, be creative and

polish your self-assertive candor. Only then will you be capable of

delivering a verbal punch that might knock some

ruthless, intimidating, egotistical

taskmaster on his egotistical butt .  Always keep

in mind that stark truth may  land 

you in the unemployment line.

Like my actor-stuntman dad used to say,

“Never telegraph a punch unless

you’re sure you can knock your

opponent out of the ring.”

Quite often, such  has

no clout in the workplace.

Yet, if intrepidity — strength of

mind to carry on in spite of danger,

that kind of fearlessness reveals that

you’re mentally fit to tangle with any

fire-breathing dragon who thinks

he’s invincible.  But equip yourself

before going into battle.  Remember,

no matter how sharp your tongue,

come equipped with integrity

and the heart of a warrior.

As the bumper sticker warns,

SHIT HAPPENS!

— Boots LeBaron —

DESPITE THE ODDS, WOMEN REFUSE TO SURRENDER!

THE HUMAN RACE

HER MESSAGE:  “THE GOOD OLD BOY’S CLUB BE DAMNED!

     It wasn’t God who had women hanged or burned at the stake for witchcraft in the American colonies. It was Man.

     Decades before the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials, Mary Sanford, a 39-year-old mother of five, was condemned to death by colonists in Hartford, Connecticut. Her male prosecutors said she “deserved to die.” Their charge: “Consorting with Satan and using supernatural powers against unnamed others.”

     Unable to argue against God, the Devil and the holy scriptures, the free-spirited Mary was hung for celebrating her individuality as a human being. She was guilty of dancing around the flames of a bonfire and drinking wine. Whoop-de-do!

     Did she waltz with the Devil? Fly on a broomstick? Cast wicked spells on others? Cuss? Refuse to cater to the whims of her spineless hubby? Hell no!

     More than three centuries have past since the American Colonies version of Ye Good Ol’ Boys Club used the name of God laced with hysteria and based on dogmatic biblical babble to squelch the inherent rights of women fighting for their identity in a suppressive society.

     Today’s Mary Sanfords have found courage through independence, strength through sacrifice, wisdom through anguish, and the bond of sisterhood through freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to do what they damn well please.

     Yet women are still seeking equal rights in a world where man dominates in many instances with chauvinistic assertiveness.

                        — Boots LeBaron

IN OUR CELEBRITY OBSESSED LIFE, ‘REEL’ IS ANYTHING BUT REAL!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

HOW ‘REEL’ ARE WE?

 

How real are we?

How true are we

to ourselves?

Compelled by the

need to succeed,

are we no more than

fashion clones,

clusters of puppets

manipulated by designers,

clothing manufacturers,

The Stanislavski method of acting

made commercial by Lee Strasberg?

Are we the by-products

of images created

for the big screen,

television, Facebook.

Must we succumb to

the twaddle on Twitter.

Did directors, producers,

writers, actors and the

make-up lady do us in?

Were we suckled on

this  bullshit?

You betcha!

Are our thoughts so

distorted by peekaboo

 innocent faced center-folds

that make male eyeballs

twinkle with lusty female sisterhood

magazines the playground of self-

obsessed males using  fashion  as weapons.

Is it possible that the lot of us are

governed by a legion of empty-headed

news-anchor types who read the news

a safe distance away from

camera men and women who, with

little credit, put themselves into

the line of fire?

Some of the greatest print journalists

I can recall, don’t look like George Clooney,

Humphrey Bogart or even Clint Eastwood.

They aren’t pretty to look at.

Today, the prerequisite  for a

TV anchor or even a talking head

is to look presentable, smile,

and perform like you’re there in

the midst of danger and despair.

Then there’s the world of fashion

That make male and female eyeballs drop.

The hemline is up.

The hemline is down.

The fly is open.  Pants hug the

butt.  Breasts are large today,

small tomorrow.

The rump is plump,

firm, pouting or touting.

The hair is professionally

ruffled, the eyes are sharp,  fearless,

and belong to Superman or Cat woman.

Study the eyes, the lips, the smile.

Test for tears.   They’re part of TV’s

daily charade grind that screams,

“Trust me!” attempting to

 captures the hearts of

audiences everywhere.

Are we all governed

by such pseudo images?

Has the human race surrendered

to such a slack of honor?

Should we blame celebrities

who in reality can’t even

control their own lives?

Yet we bow with respect to these

perfect facades because they are

our Kings and Queens.

 How real are they?

No matter how masculine,

feminine or gay they might be,

even those who parade on

Hollywood’s red carpet

are only human.

Norman (Jake) Jacoby, a veteran

crime reporter for the Los Angeles

Herald Express, looked like

a happy walrus.  When I was neophyte

reporter for the Los Angeles Times, he

broke me in as a police-beat reporter

at LAPD’s Parker Center.  His comrades were

hardcore detectives who loved  and trusted

Jake despite his walrus mustache, prominent

nose and sardine breath.   If you were in the

market to buy a shiny new Lincoln, who would you

go to:   my mentor Jake, or that Oscar-winning actor

  Matthew McConaughey, who’s constantly seen

peddling that sleek silver automobile

in all those TV commercials?

When it comes to politics and Showbiz

there’s nothing more powerful than

celebrity.  Sorry Jake, no matter how

I’d like to, I’d never buy a Lincoln

 from you.  But I sure like those

 Lincoln commercials.  And I enjoy

listening to McConaughey’s spiel behind the wheel.

      — Boots LeBaron —

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