Thursday, December 26, 2013

Visit to a Long-ago War

4 - Guadalcanal

            We landed at Nauru International Airport without incident. I had noticed another large group of Japanese veterans on board. They followed us off the airplane and assembled in a small group across from us in the small terminal waiting room. Apparently, they didn’t trust presidential whims any more than we did. We all had sufficient time to catch a taxi and make a quick tour of the eight square-mile island during our layover. I noticed their glancing at me and guessed that they were speculating. I was the same age as most of them; I was not with any group, I wasn’t carrying a brief case or wearing suit, tie, and polished shoes. Could I be a veteran, like them, from the other side?

            One of them left the group and strolled along one wall, studying posters and pictures. Finally,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Visit to a Long-ago War

3 - An American Colony

            The woman at the Air Nauru counter told us that Japanese veterans usually visited the battlefields in their old uniforms, and she understood that this group was going on to Guadalcanal. We followed them aboard; there were about 20 of them, and they proceeded to the rear, where they sat in a group. They still wore the same choke collars I remembered, and many stretched their fits in uniforms they first wore when they were younger and leaner. I wondered why there were so many. If they came in groups on these flights regularly, that would add up to a lot of veterans. Yet, on all our invasions, they had fought and died to the end. Out of 20 or 30 thousand defending each of the larger islands of Saipan and Guam, there were the same handful of survivors that there had been in the smaller garrisons on Tarawa and the Marshall Islands.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Visit to a Long-ago War


2 - The Ravine

            Back at the hotel, I told my wife that there was only one place I still wanted to find, then we could leave this Japanese colony. The next morning, we left our high-rise hotel on Tumon Bay and drove north. There were no resorts in this direction, and most of the Guamanians we saw, Chamorros or mainlanders, worked for the Air Force Base. The northern half of the island, essentially everything north of Tumon Bay, is a plateau that terminates in a cliff, some 200 feet above a beach strip, and this feature runs along the entire northern ocean shore. I was looking for a road that would somehow get us down to that beach strip.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Doing the Right Thing

My novel has been re-written and is being read by selected readers for comment. This blog will return to its original purpose: a display case for my writing. I will finish posting my war stories and other experiences. My Visit to a Long-ago War will consist of four postings. It is long and could be considered as a travelogue for anyone who plans a trip to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Other generations are in charge now, and mine – the one who remembers that Sunday, some 72 years past – is either out to pasture or under it. Today is very different from my yesterday, but human nature remains a constant. However, I offer the following observations for what they are worth and welcome your comments..
   
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else                                                                                                        Winston Churchill

I don't know if we can still count on Americans doing the right thing, eventually, or if we can count on the world giving us the time for a long debate with ourselves, such as we had in the Thirties, before we do

Visit to a Long-ago War

1 - Guam - A Truckload of Shoes

            I closed my business in 1983. Construction contracting is a very cyclical business, and the settlement of a long strike had introduced an operating change which would affect mine heavily. I decided to quit while ahead and do some of the things I had planned to do at a later retirement. Among them was a visit to some islands in the South Pacific, which I had first seen as a young marine, only a year out of high school, and to the island of Guam, in the Central Pacific, which I had seen as part of an invasion. I wanted to see how D-Day shores looked, no longer swept by explosions from naval shells and dive bombers, no longer crowded by boats disgorging marines for charges through the surf and across the beach to whatever cover they could find. I wanted to see again the exotic beauties of lands no longer shielding an unseen enemy in their green jungles. Finally, I wanted to see them as a tourist, no longer enduring long periods of monotony between visions of beauty or terror. My wife agreed to accompany me with reluctance, since she knew these places only from the savage tales I had told her, but with acceptance, since we would face any hardships remaining from the war together.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vacation Time

I started this blog for a conventional author's reason: I wanted to increase my name recognition and, as with all performers, get some applause. I am also in the midst of rewriting my best novel manuscript. I shelved it 20 years ago because of structural problems which require a lot of thought and work to correct. Since I do not see any more novels in my future, I am now doing what I should have done 20 years ago. Possibly, I have a one-track mind, but I have found that my production on the rewrite has dropped drastically since I started this blog. I can only marvel at those who can not only write but sell their books while maintaining an active blog and socializing within the blog world. My hat is off to them.

I shall leave the blog up as posted. Hopefully, I can complete the rewrite in three months and return to weekly blog postings. I appreciate the comments and page views it has received and thank those of you who have followed it. You may wish to check it in October. I realize that I have been remiss in returning the visits of many of you with your own blogs. I may have more time for that, as well, in October.

Jack Eiden

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Bomb Shelter

Part Four

The next day, my wife surveyed her restored front yard.

"Are those ugly pipes in for good?"
"Yeah." They'd been in the plans from the start, but I'd never thought of their finished appearance. They had shown on the plans as four tiny circles. Three feet of filled dirt had decreased their height, but they still stood four feet out of the ground, and two were close to the sidewalk.
"They look like giant question marks."

She spent some time with the gardener, and they eventually found a type of fast-growing yucca which would, hopefully, so entwine, shade, and leaf over the offending pipes as to hide them from view. Over the last 50 years, they have not only grown fast; they have never stopped growing. We now have

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Bomb Shelter

Part Three

I only needed one ready-mix load but I had four men helping with the pour. We backed the truck to within five feet of the bank, which gave us room for an extended chute, without loading the bank. We planked over the rebar and somehow spread our mass of concrete over and between the mass of slab rebar, vibrated it, tamped it, and rodded it to a rough level. I turned the slab over to the cement finisher with a sense of mission-part-accomplished, and climbed out of the pit. Forming and the main pour still lay ahead but, allowing an hour or so to set, my rebar structure would be based in concrete, no longer hanging in space.

The next week, I ordered out a concrete-cutting sub, who made short work of cutting a door opening through the basement wall and jack-hammering out the rubble. A sales engineer brought a layout plan for

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Bomb Shelter

Part Two 

Most backhoes are mounted on skip loaders and have modest buckets. In California, we use them mostly for trenching. The larger, truck-mounted backhoes have fearsome buckets and can fill a dump truck with 5 or 6 scoops. Accordingly, mine came accompanied by four dump trucks, all waiting patiently up and down the street as the operator rigged up for digging. I laid out my concerns to him.

"My laborers there are taking out the half of my front-porch slab that will be in the pit. I've shored up the porch roof, and the shores are outside the pit, but you need to be careful. I'll lose the roof, if you knock one out."
"No problem. You taking the pit right to the house? What about the foundation?"
"There's a basement there. I'm told that you can cut a straight bank with this unit."
"Man, I can carve a statue with this baby. You're building an addition to your basement?"

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Bomb Shelter

Part One

In 1961, President Kennedy came from a meeting in Vienna with Chairman Khrushchev of the Soviet Union aware that our two nations faced a potential nuclear war. After his return here, he advised us all that we should consider building fallout shelters. I had doubts that our two nations would engage in mutual destruction so soon after a world war only 15 years past. My father had no interest in building such a shelter, and said that he and my mother doubted that they would want to live in whatever world remained from such a war. However, the newspapers and magazines were full of speculation about the need for these structures and of articles describing how to build them. It was generally agreed that one could not build them strong enough to survive blast destruction; one could only provide protection from radioactive fallout in the ash descending after the blast.

Our American entrepreneurial spirit quickly asserted itself, and firms appeared, advertising and knocking on doors to promote their versions of fallout shelters. Previously, these firms had been selling over-priced

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Constant Calendar



Its Time has come

Our present calendar has always seemed archaic to me, composed of 30 and 31-day months thrown haphazardly together, including one month of 28 days which
increases to 29 every four years. A year of 91-day quarters, each quarter composed of 13 seven-day weeks, would permit each quarter to have the same start and end days. However, since that would only total to 364 days, we would need an extra year-day to fill out our solar year. If we identified that day only as New Years Day, it would not need any other name or number. If we assigned it to January, as it is now, we could assign Leap Year Day, also a day without other name or number, to July. We would gain these advantages:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Emirau

    Teenagers are often troublesome, usually from not enough parental control. Other factors are too much of such control and just enough. 70 years ago, I was a teenager totally removed from parental control, often absorbed in fantasies. Instead of video games, I had a war to inspire them. Before the war, my fantasy had been to enlist in the Marines and to get assigned to its Fourth Regiment in Shanghai. I had been told that all enlisted men there had beautiful Eurasian girls, daughters of Chinese fathers and Russian countesses, forced into exile by the revolution against their Tsar. Since even a marine private’s pay was a princely sum in the China of that time, these waifs considered their rescuers as gods.

    That dream had been destroyed when the Fourth Marines had been transferred from Shanghai to the Philippines, just in time to fight at Bataan. I joined the Marines anyway,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lu Ella

1935

            Lu Ella has lived next to us for six months, and I wish I knew how to get shook of her.  I don't dislike her. It's just that she can't do anything.   If we play street ball, she can't hit the ball, let alone catch it.  When she tries to throw it, she gets her arm back of her head, and that ball is liable to go anywhere.  I've tried kidding her about her name, told her she spelled it funny, but she said no, that's the way her daddy named her.  On top of everything else, she's from the South.  I've tried to tell her to say dad instead of daddy and to ease off on words like "you all" and on putting "little old" in front of everything so the kids in class won't laugh too much at her.

Shanghaied

            Everyone, of my generation, can recall where he was that memorable Sunday when Pearl Harbor came blasting out of the radios of America.  I hold the distinction of remembering the next day with equal clarity.  I was driving truck for my father, a plastering contractor, on a housing project in Long Beach.  The work day had just started when my uncle, his foreman, tapped me on the shoulder.
            "Your father wants to see you at the motel."
            "Now?"
            "Get going."

            My uncle was a decisive man of few words, and I could see

Friday, March 1, 2013

Recovering

         Hi.  I’m Jack and I’m a recovering author. I suppose that I have the same problem as most of you: one boring day at a time. I go eight hours without writing, take a deep breath and decide: okay, that’s past--I’m not sweating too badly—I can go another eight.  When that’s past, it’s time for bed,and I check another day off the calendar.

         I know that some of you are snickering inside.  You’re social authors; you can stop whenever you want. I felt that way once.  I would stop writing for weeks at a time,