Friday, September 29, 2006

Air Strikes and Artillery

As infantrymen, we were on the ground confronting enemy. In Vietnam it was mostly in the countryside and jungles where they hid to prepare plans of attack to ambush or battle us head-on. When we engaged in battles that were especially fierce, we called in artillery and air support from the Navy and Air Force.

Our sergeants and lieutenants radioed coordinates for artillery bombardment when we were pinned down from enemy fire. I remember the sound of shells passing overhead as they landed and exploded in front of us. I didn't understand the coordinates system and physics that enabled artillery pieces a few miles behind us to fire projectiles to explode near without hitting us. Our officers were in radio contact with the rear support units to zero in on the enemy targets.

Many times we had air support. A fixed wing spotter plane circling above called F-4 Phantom or F105 Thunderchief fighter jets from Air Force units at Cam Ranh Bay. I've seen jets many times dive from high above, level out behind us, pass a few hundred feet overhead, release 500 pound bombs or napalm canisters, and pull up to disappear into the sky. Their after-burners blasted the fighter jets upward like a rocket. It was amazing to see. Their armament exploded in the jungle or countryside within a few hundred yards of us.

Napalm's shiny canisters exploded on impact and splashed into unbelievable fireballs. Bombs and napalm were released over our head and behind our positions as momentum carried them on a trajectory to targets toward our front. We could see their free fall through the air as we hunkered on the ground.

As you can tell from the top picture, we were loaded heavy with equipment, radio, ammunition, water, C-rations, claymore mines and hand grenades. There was no space to carry cameras and that was the last thing we needed in battles or the aftermath. Cameras were left in the rear areas. After I snapped the top picture, I handed my camera to the truck driver to take back to the rear.

We never had news reporters with us. I've since heard about famous reporters in Vietnam. I never saw any.

The artillery pieces in the below picture gave us support by firing explosive shells long distances.

The bottom picture shows Huey helicopters delivering combat soldiers to a rear area.

Return here on Sunday, October 1 for an update.

Have a good day!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Family Values

Herschel considers marriage to Margaret a dream come true. Every week for fifty years the name, Margaret Brett, processed through Herschel's thoughts. She was a high school classmate who graduated, married, birthed children, raised her family and secured a career in nursing.

Herschel graduated, married, fathered children, raised a family, and secured the career in freight transport as I've written earlier.

Spousal death, divorce, and a high school class reunion reacquainted Herschel and Margaret after many years of living separate lives. Their single status enabled them to discover each other and decisions to marry resulted. My wife and I were invited to attend their wedding among the overflow crowd in Lamb's Chapel near Wadley, Georgia. Margaret, Herschel and I were photographed at the reception in the top picture.

Herschel is a good cook and has many favorite recipes. He loves a western omelet once per month and likes two cups of Luzianne coffee per day. Everything should be done in moderation.

Margaret is a wonderful and caring person who loves friends, neighbors, music, church and Herschel. She is now the homemaker and attends to the needs of this new family. Herschel and Margaret attend many community events and enjoy stage productions at the theater.

The first picture below shows Herschel standing beside my brother, Tim. Seated to Herschel's right is his now 97 year old mother. The occasion was an outdoor party at my home a couple years ago. Herschel loves, respects and adores his mother and gives full attention to her spoken words. He telephones her weekly to get updates about her comfort and to hear the latest reports about weather, rain amounts, and clean and noble living.

The bottom picture shows Herschel studying the subjects in photos at the 80th birthday celebration of my mother two years ago. Can you sense the intensity of concentration as he studies the subjects in the photographs?

I invested a segment of time to write about one friend during these past blog postings. I have many friends and treasure them all. Some friends read this blog. In large part, friends and family have made me the person I've become to date.

I look forward to making additional friends as I continue my journey through life.

Return here on Friday, September 29 for another blog update.

Have a good day!


Monday, September 25, 2006

Attention to Detail

During the dozen plus years I've known Herschel, I've seen him build television cabinets, a computer desk, bed, wardrobe, rocking horse, CD storage cabinets, dining side-board, blue print storage cabinet, table lamps, bowls, gun cabinets, book cases and other small items. All pieces have been made from solids woods like walnut, cherry, maple, persimmon, oak, ash and mahogany.

He uses no metals in joinery or drawer slides. Hinges and pulls are the only metals utilized and they are carefully selected to complement the character of the piece.

When he completes a project, he dates the piece by embedding a shiny new penny for the year of completion. He uses a 3/4 inch bit to bore a shallow hole the thickness of the coin and glues it securely in place.

He also signs the piece with an ink stamp of the turtle image with his initials. I described the turtle in an earlier post. The date and logo icon are usually positioned on the back or bottom side. Some building projects will have a section painted red, another of Herschel's identifying marks.

Additionally, he hand writes a letter describing the piece, its design characteristics, the materials used, the location where the tree grew, and the sawyer who milled the lumber, if known.

The craftsmanship in Herschel's custom wood furniture makes them valuable. He has given some pieces to family or friends as gifts. Other projects were sold for serious dollar amounts.

I believe Herschel's woodwork will grow in value and in 25, 50, 75 years from now; they will be prized by their owners.

Ogee is the shape of the feet on the wardrobe in the below photos.

Return here on Wednesday, September 27 for my final post about Herschel.

Have a good day!


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Photography Enthusiast

A hot shoe is a mounting point on top of a camera to attach a flash unit. Before cameras were made with built-in flash, hot shoe technology was state of the art. The evolution of 35 millimeter cameras began with no flash feature, then flash attachments, and later built-in flash.

Herschel bought a Canon 35 millimeter SLR (single-lens reflex) camera in 1956 while in Japan. He's taken thousands of pictures throughout the years with his camera that was built before the hot shoe development.

He's captured the essence of special times, places, and events on film and has many albums of photos that provide visual images of years past.

A couple years ago the 1956 era camera malfunctioned due to a part failure. Herschel shipped the camera to a repair shop in Charlotte, North Carolina to get the part replaced to make the camera functional again. A couple weeks later, he received a card in the mail from the repairman which read that the camera was not worth the cost to repair it.

Hershel telephoned the repairman and said, "Let me assign worth to the camera. You fix the camera and send me the invoice." The camera is repaired and continues taking photos.

Don't let this incident cause you to think that Herschel is an "old timer" and unreceptive to new technology. I believe, in part, that I had influence on him getting a computer, signing up for Road Runner Internet, and setting up an email address. He engaged the services of a tutor to come to his home and teach him about computers. He now uses Internet, Google, Wikipedia, email and URL.

My friend has fussed at me a couple times for introducing him to computers and cyberspace where he goes from one interesting and informative site to another and consumes too much of his time.

Herschel has written many words and has made notes about philosophical thoughts over the years. Some notions were dreamed up by him, others he read somewhere, and still more were modified by him after hearing them on radio or elsewhere.

Here are examples:

"If good things lasted forever would we appreciate how precious they are?"

"Everyone can see where their mind takes them."

"Hope is the last thing that dies in man."

"To feel that one has a place in life solves most of the problem of contentment."

Herschel secured the services of a calligrapher to write these words on special paper. He has given them as bookmarks to family and friends on special occasions. One is in the picture below.

The top picture are flowers around Herschel's home and his dog, Pepper, is in the picture below.
Herschel captured these images by using his favorite camera.

Return here on Monday, September 25 for an update.

Have a good day!


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Central Highlands

The safest I've ever felt while flying was on board a C-130 Hercules flown by U. S. Air Force pilots.

We were in the central highlands of Vietnam which is mountainous jungle. We were guarding a dirt runway where engineers had excavated a mountain top. Bulldozers flattened the top to level a strip for landing fixed-wing aircraft.

We infantrymen dug foxholes in the ground beside the runway and stood guard around the perimeter a few days and nights. I saw many C-130's land and take-off on this short dirt runway. Some created the biggest dust cloud imaginable when these giant airplanes landed on the dry red dirt and reversed pitch on the props in order to brake their forward movement.

I saw some planes loaded so heavily as they raced down the runway for lift-off that only the front of the airplane was airborne when it crossed the runway's end at the mountain's edge. Some C-130's actually dropped below the imaginary horizontal plane of the runway before altitude was gained. I have flown and parachuted from this type airplane. The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is known as a workhorse for the Air Force.

The four fellow soldiers in the above photo are heating a can of C-rations. We had heat tablets that were individually packed in a sealed foil-wrapper. They were about the size of a silver dollar, but thicker, and bluish in color. We opened cans of beef stew or ham, for example, set the can on small stones, and ignited a heat tablet under the can. The intense fire lasted about two minutes and warmed the contents. We heated coffee this way also. It took two or three tablets to get water really hot.

Once again, I don't recall the names of my colleagues here. I remember the one tending the fire was from Coats, North Carolina. Perhaps he will read this and email me.

The first below picture shows our tents along the runway. The bottom picture shows a newly created clearing leading away from the landing strip.

Return here on Saturday, September 23 for more about Herschel.

Have a good day!


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

From Tree to Furniture

Herschel continues to drive a truck five days a week. He makes day trips to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington and Charlotte, North Carolina. He has several drop-off stops between home and these places. His days start between 2:00 AM to 4:00 AM and he arrives home from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. During his spare time, he builds furniture or other projects from wood. He maintains this schedule and pace at age 69.

During our twelve years of friendship, I've learned much about wood, trees, lumber, and woodworking. He and I harvested mature trees, milled logs into boards, dried lumber, and built custom-made furniture. I've built several beds and one dining table for my family starting with standing trees. In part, I was able to accomplish this through encouragement from Herschel and his suggestions and advice.

As I wrote earlier, Herschel is well read and subscribes to many magazines, trade publications, and owns many fine books about woodworking. He readily looks up information for me to read approaches to woodworking complexities like dove-tail joinery. He also owns a fine collection of power tools as well as hand tools. If I didn't own a particular tool and he did, he allowed me to use his after showing me the correct way.

There is a proper way to sharpen a chisel and bevel the cutting edge. Herschel used his instruments and expertise to sharpen my chisels a couple times.

Before Herschel became a truck driver, he worked as a foreman in a furniture factory where he supervised the building of furniture. This involved mass production, building product samples for designers, and finishing techniques for sanding, varnishes, and stains.

I've visited him in his workshop many Saturday or Sunday afternoons over the years when he was in the middle of a project. He always willingly stopped whatever he was doing and spent an hour or more talking about whatever came into our minds. He showed me what he was working on, how he approached the project, and the rationale supporting the design features.

Herschel retains a quotation he saw when he was age 16. The message was inscribed on a brass plate on the side of a large chopping block in a butcher's shop where he worked. Here's the quote:

"Made the way it's made by the way it's made"

When he first related this conundrum to me, it took some thinking to arrive at the meaning of such a phrase. What does this mean to you? I finally translated it to mean, something is what it is by the way it was put together.

The top picture shows Herschel with finished TV tables he made from walnut lumber I milled from logs. Notice the white edges of the table tops. This is sap wood in walnut that he strategically positioned for contrast and symmetry.

The first below picture is Herschel and me standing beside a finished wardrobe he built from spalted ash he found on a mutual friend's property. It was an uprooted tree that had been in a damp gully for several years. Our friend used a bulldozer to help drag the tree trunk to a clearing for loading and hauling to my sawmill. We milled the logs into lumber and Herschel built this fine piece a few years later.

Notice the dove-tails, cedar, and slide design of the drawers in the bottom picture.

Return here on Thursday, September 21 for an update.

Have a good day!


Sunday, September 17, 2006


A fob is an ornament attached to a pocket watch chain. See the pocket watch and fobs in the picture above. One is an image of a steer's head encircled by a ring. The other is the profile of a turtle with connected letters HTL, the initials of my friend.

The two pictures below are turtle images cut from steel and wood. The turtle suspended inside the wagon wheel rim hangs on the outside of Herschel's woodworking shop.

There is an international fellowship of people who admire turtles. They're somewhat like a fraternity and recognize each other by wearing something in the image of turtle. When one sees another with a turtle, they introduce themselves by name and then ask, "Are you a turtle?" There is a secret answer to confirm fellowship.

This fellowship is an association of people who give deep thought to life in the long-run. The turtle is a reptile that has survived millions of years. Birds survived also and there are people who fellowship around bird watching.

My friend, Herschel, wears the above pocket watch in his blue jeans and overalls. The turtle fob was special-made by a jeweler for Herschel and is one-of-a-kind. This is one example of uniqueness and quality about Herschel. There are other well thought-out distinctions that are identifying marks in Herschel's character and works. I'll fill you in on some others later.

After high school graduation in the 1950's, Herschel joined the Marine Corp and served on embassy duty at United States Embassies in Seoul, South Korea and Wellington, New Zealand. One must be sharp looking, schooled, intelligent, dependable, and disciplined to be assigned to military duty at embassies. Our U. S. Government wants the best Marines assigned to diplomatic posts.

This military duty is how Herschel gained insight into diplomacy, ambassadorship, international relations, and this important function of the State Department. His experiences in these assignments served him well in the following years as a civilian and citizen when he read and interpreted news events involving international relations.

Return here on Tuesday, September 19 for an update on Herschel.

Have a good day!


Friday, September 15, 2006

Loaded and Secure

A fifth wheel is the coupling that connects a road tractor to a trailer. Herschel explained to me that there haven't been improvements to this connection system since it was invented in the 1930's. He further explained that it's almost impossible for this mechanism to disconnect no matter how severe a wreck or crash.

It is rare for any mechanical invention not to be improved upon. The fifth wheel and the mouse trap are two examples I can think of that have not been improved. Can you think of other examples?

The rat-a-tat-tat sound from tractor-trailers that startles nearby motorists is caused by Jake Brakes on 18-wheelers. When a driver lets off the accelerator, the engine uses compression to help brake the truck. If road tractors aren't equipped with special mufflers, a sudden machine-gun like noise blasts from the truck when compression is employed to slow the forward motion. Jake brakes are prohibited in some communities.

I learned the information above from my friend, Herschel. Notice the correct spelling containing the letter "c". I've never before met anyone with this name. Herschel was born and reared in Wadley, Georgia in 1937. He was named after his grandfather who died in 1936. He visited his grandfather's grave site and observed the name on the tombstone. His grandfather was called "Hush" for short and it, too, is on the grave marker. Some people have tried to call Herschel by a shorter name, but he corrects them and insists on the full pronunciation to get his attention.

When he was in high school in Wadley, he acquired the nickname "Speck". This resulted from the response he sometimes made to the teacher's questions. Sometimes Herschel dozed in English class. When the teacher suddenly aroused him from his nap with a question about the lesson, Herschel 's response was "I speck so". Fellow students enjoyed this response so much that they nicknamed him Speck. This name soon fell by the wayside after Herschel began to respond to teacher's questions with well thought-out and articulated answers.

Herschel is an avid reader and owns a hardcover book collection that surpasses personal libraries of most people. Some of his books are rare and out of print. He has been one force in my life that caused me to pursue book reading much more seriously. He has recommended certain books for me. As a result, I've grown from the reading experiences. One recent recommendation was Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I learned some interesting history from the period 1900 to 1940 from this book.

It is wonderful to have friends that influence you toward personal growth.

The top picture is Herschel on the left standing beside Harvey Doub. This is a close up shot of his loaded trailer before leaving Nebraska for North Carolina. Harvey and Herschel talked for more than a year about back-hauling Mr. Doub's equipment from Nebraska to Pfafftown. Harvey visited his property in Nebraska a couple times per year. Without any pre-planning, it was by mere chance that Herschel arrived at Harvey's home 30 minutes before Harvey showed. Harvey said, "As I approached my house and saw the lights of Herschel's truck, I thought my house was on fire."

The bottom picture shows Herschel bringing another load across the Rocky Mountains.

Return here on Sunday, September 17 to learn more about my friend.

Have a good day!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Between 5:00 and 5:30 A.M., I receive a telephone call once or twice a week. This friend knows that I've been sitting at my computer enjoying gourmet coffee, reading and contemplating devotions, scanning and reading online news, and experiencing the peace and quietness of early morning with my wife.

He and I talk about our day's plans, what's in the news, opinions about hot topics, and otherwise enjoy small talk. This friend is usually calling from his truck as he drives to make freight deliveries somewhere in North or South Carolina.

During thirty plus years of driving 18-wheelers all across the United States, he accrued interesting views and perspectives about life, people, places, and events. I like talking with Herschel Lamb about such matters. Most of those driving years were as an independent trucker which meant he owned his rig and contracted with shippers to pick up and deliver their freight.

I always admire tractor trailer rigs that are clean, shiny, and with lots of chrome and lights. I admire them even more if they aren't bearing down on a motorist's rear bumper. I've heard some people refer to these trucks as gaudy, but I see them as operated by someone who has pride in their equipment and a desire to be the best.

Look at the top picture that was taken by Herschel. This image was captured years ago somewhere in the desert in a western state early one morning. Look closely at that truck and the load of air conditioning equipment. You probably sense the pride my friend possessed about this truck and its freight. The time and place of this picture was special.

The first picture below is Herschel standing by his truck while stopped atop a Rocky Mountain pass.

The bottom most picture appears to be a precariously loaded flat bed. Notice the truck bodies overhanging the flatbed both at the front and rear. He hauled this load from Nebraska to North Carolina without any mishap or shifting of freight. You must realize this load was tied with precision and perfection.

Return here on Friday, September 15 when I'll tell you more about my friend.

Have a good day!


Monday, September 11, 2006

Mosquitoes Galore

Notice the small, white, plastic bottle attached to the side of my helmet in the picture above. This was military-issued mosquito repellent which all of us carried and applied to exposed skin at night. Mosquitoes in the jungle and rice paddies ate us alive without this repellent. This liquid also worked well to cause leeches to release their bite when they attached to tender body parts during the night as we lay on the ground.

In addition to mosquito repellent, our platoon medic dispensed malaria pills for us to ingest daily. (It may have been weekly.)

I'm wielding an M-79 granade launcher in the same picture as we were searching a village for Viet Cong and their weapons. These searches usually occurred after we were fired upon from the village. Sometimes we were ordered to destroy villages after killed or captured enemy were dealt with and remaining civilians were removed. (This torching action was on a very small scale like that of General William Tecumeseh Sherman's troops when they marched through the South during our Civil War.)

Sometimes to clear a village meant entering tunnels, which was very scary, but some men faced that responsibility.

The below picture is a section of railroad bridge collapsed by a well placed explosive charge. Again, this was a result of enemy action against South Vietnam's government.

The bottom most picture is my squad at a drop point where we began a long-range patrol. This meant spending several days and nights in the countryside in search of the enemy. Sometimes we were delivered to drop points by truck and other times we were taken by helicopter. I loved helicopter rides when the pilots flew only a hundred feet above the ground at a speed of a hundred miles per hour. This approach made us less of a target as we made airborne entry into enemy territory.

Return here on Wednesday, September 13 for the start of a series on my good friend, Herschel Lamb.

Have a good day!


Saturday, September 09, 2006

The King

The man from Entertainment and Sports Programming Network on the shuttle bus in Seattle was right. The Richard Petty Museum in Randleman, North Carolina is an insightful and interesting place.

My wife and I made a half-day trip on Labor Day to the museum as we promised ourselves after meeting the man from Pennsylvania.

As one might expect, there were race cars from the past with the number 43 and lots of racing paraphernalia on display. I admired and respected all of it.

There was a lot more - just as the person from ESPN had indicated. If I had any doubts about the greatness of this popular American, those doubts were alleviated after examining the collection of artifacts in the museum. The video tape of Richard Petty's career was a reminder of the reason he's called the King. The recorded testimony of family, friends, politicians, and neighbors confirm what a great human-being Richard Petty has been all his life.

Autographed photos of United States presidents with Mr. Petty from President Carter to the current President Bush were on display. There are hundreds of guns, pocket watches, pocket knives, trophies and Mrs. Lynda Petty's doll collection on display. I suspect the guns, knives, and watches were gifts to Richard Petty from admiring fans.

The picture at the top shows some of the cars. The two below pictures are some of the showcases of collectibles and gold-plated guns.

After the museum tour, we drove to nearby Blue Mist BBQ (Est. 1948) where we ate a late lunch of chopped BBQ.

Return here on Monday, September 11 for an update.

Have a good day!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


If you haven't done this already, the next time you donate blood to the American Red Cross consider making an apheresis donation.

I've donated whole blood many times in the past. On July 10, 2006 I showed up at my appointed time on Coliseum Drive in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to make my donation. After the volunteer took my vital signs, checked my iron, asked me about medicines and health issues and questioned me about sexual partners, she suggested I donate using the apheresis method.

I didn't understand until she explained the instrumentation they use to separate the components in blood. Simply stated, the blood that flows from one's arm enters a centrifuge which separates the plasma from the platelets. The plasma looks like lemonade when separated and is pumped back into one's arm. The platelets are kept by the Red Cross for transfusions into cancer patients or whomever else may need it.

It was a little weird to see the yellowish-colored plasma flowing back into my arm, but, otherwise I felt fine and had no side-effects.

This type donation yields 6 units compared to 3 units the whole blood way.
This method of donating is highly desired by the Red Cross. My next scheduled appointment is in February 2007.

Return here on Saturday, September 9 for an update.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Love of Money

A 75-year-old friend and I were talking by telephone about

a mutual acquaintance who is wealthy and in his early 60's.

This acquaintance looks like a homeless street person whose

personal hygiene is terrible and some teeth are decayed or

missing from neglect. There is a dirty mattress in his SUV.

I commented to my friend that this person has fallen in

love with money. My friend agreed and added,

"He should buy himself a Monopoly game and he could

have lots of money, apartments,
offices, and real estate".

The implication here was the benefit from the game

would equal the benefit derived from his wealth.

I thought this comparison profound.

Return here on Thursday, September 7 for an update.

Have a good day!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Doctor, Patient

A 77 year old friend told me about a conversation with his

doctor during an office visit. My friend's only prescribed

drug is Prednisone which he takes for periodic breathing

problems. He told me he needs one pill two or three times

per week. His doctor of many years would not prescribe

an automatic refill. This friend told me during the usual small

talk in the office with his doctor, he looked in the eyes of his

doctor and said, "Doc, I trust you. Why don't you trust me?"

As a result of that comment and question, the doctor started

writing the prescription with 1 refill without a return office visit.

I thought my friend's comment and question were profound.

Return here on Tuesday, September 5 for an update.

Have a good day!

Friday, September 01, 2006


After a week of vacationing in California, I formed a few "first impressions" from first-hand experiences in Los Angeles County. These impressions differ from images in my mind before going there. It's interesting and alarming how humans form images about people, places or things before experiencing them. I've been surprised many times when meeting a person after a phone conversation with them first. They are sometimes much different in appearance and character than I first imagined. These differences can be more significant if you form images about people or places from listening to others or from reading and watching news reports. News reports are usually highly focused and give a tunnel view of a situation, event, place, or person.

Here are my impressions of California from my visit:

People there are very patriotic. I formed this opinion mainly from listening to Roger Hedgecock radio talk show on KOGO each evening as we drove in rush hour traffic. Roger and callers to his show were constantly praising military service personnel and their families. Names of GI's were quoted and their graduation dates from high school or college. Money was donated and given to families. Examples of good deeds offered to families like fixing their car at below market costs.

I related this observed patriotism to a friend when I returned. A few days later he sent me a link to a comment written by Baxter Black of Livestock Weekly. Here is his quote:

"Sometimes I think I live in a different country than the one I read about in the newspapers or hear about on the radio and TV.

For instance, I was in Sacramento recently. It is not the same California you read about in the letters to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle or see on Entertainment Tonight! California is a state (a small country, really) that believes in the work ethic and not in fairy tales. It is profoundly patriotic, enormously productive, and regardless of their political leanings, agree that Hollywood hype and San Francisco politics are bizarre."

I further observed in LA:

Clean streets and well built homes. No vinyl siding or trailer parks. Neatly landscaped lawns.

It was rare to see an obese person.

Everyone we encountered was super nice to us.

Motorists on the freeways opened space for us to change lanes as long as we signaled.

See pictures I took of Los Angeles. The bottom picture is the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Return here on Sunday, September 3 for a blog update.

Have a good day!