Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Loads of Loads

Awhile back, my sister sent me a bunch of pictures titled "Vehicles"  It was pictures of trucks and cars with all sorts of ridiculous loads of everything from tires to livestock.  It reminded me that I also had taken some pictures of similar interesting loads of people, goats, sugar cane, just about anything that people in third world countries need to haul by what ever means available.    The first two pictures here were taken in Sucua, Ecuador.  One of the days that we were doing clinic, a private nursing home brought most of their residents for a general check-up.  When they left they loaded themselves into a small Chevy Luv pickup.  These were people all in their 80's and 90's and one who was 100.                                                                       
Each of these elderly people climbed into the back of this pick-up unaided.  The two mile ride back to their home was over rough dirt roads and could not have been comfortable.  But not one was complaining, apparently glad for anything besides shank's pony, i.e., walking.   The interesting thing about the Ecuadorian people is that they always seem contented no matter what their situation is.   They don't seem to envy other life styles and make do with what ever they have. 

This picture was taken on a day we were doing a clinic at a school about 20 miles west of Villcabamba, Ecuador.   Our team were in Chevy Luv crew cab pick-ups that a local business used as taxis.  As we were driving along this river I spotted these two guys throwing rocks into the back of this dump truck.  I Yelled our "Alto!!", Stop!!.  and the driver stopped, wondering what in the world was going on.  Crazy gringo just wanted to take pictures.  These guys were throwing fairly large rocks  into this truck while barefoot.  Talk about back breaking work, this is high on the list.
This picture was taken on the same road.   Farmers were harvesting sugar cane and using donkeys to pack the cane to the cane press that squeezed out the sugar juice.  These donkeys knew the way back and forth and pretty much traveled on their own. 

While in Villcabama one Saturday, we contacted a nature guide to take us on a tour of the valley.  This guy was very knowledgeable about the local plants, insects and birds.  We went on various back roads and trails and at one point we had to cross this river.  The girl being carried by the guide was a doctor from New York and was having trouble negotiating the rocks in an effort to keep her feet dry.  After a few attempts the guide took off his shoes and volunteered to carry her across.  Unfortunately, Eric Valentine and myself had to leap frog from rock to rock by ourselves, but we managed to stay relatively dry.

One of the GHO trips I took was to Calabar, Nigeria.  We were based in Calabar and spent a week in each of two locations about an hour away.  The second week we traveled daily next to the Cross river.  These two photos show Nigerians unloading sand from large dug out canoes.  The canoes are so loaded down that the side walls of the canoe are barely above the water.  The workers would load the round kettles with sand and then haul them up onto the beach to a pile.  Again, back breaking physical labor that over time causes many joint and back problems.
We were vacationing in the Yucatan Peninsula with Randy and Lani's family and came across this VW while driving outside of Cancun.  I had Randy speed ahead and then pull off the side of the road so I could jump out of the van and take this picture before he passed us.  The entire back seat was also packed solid with boxes of something.
 Back in Nigeria, we came across this van with what appears to be groceries consisting of fabric, toilet paper and other stuff.  Not sure what was keeping everything from working it's way out of the rigging.

 This one is also in Nigeria and is a truck load full with workers and a second deck above them loaded with goats.  Not sure I would want to be underneath all those goats. 

Also, notice the black exhaust smoke coming from the truck.  One common denominator in third world countries is their lack of emissions control or requirements.  For the most part there are none, yet they are the first to jump on the band wagon when it comes to telling us what we should be doing.

I could not resist taking this picture or including it with these pictures.  We came across this guy in Lagos, Nigeria.  They were delivering water to various businesses and households.   
When we were in Sucua, Ecuador, the owner of the hotel we stayed in suggested that we take a trip into the jungle and see a sugar cane press in operation.  Since we lacked transportation for such a jaunt, she walked down to the local police station and recruited two police vehicles and three officers to transport us to the trail head and then escort us in and out of the jungle.  Not sure we needed the protection but was nice to have.
Most cities in Ecuador have open air markets where you can buy almost anything you want.  In Cuenca, we were shopping at the market place when it started to rain.  All the vendors started packing up their goods and headed for cover and/or home.  I caught this teenager packing this load of shirts and sweaters that would have caused a mule to protest.
This picture was taken by Eric Valentine while vacationing in New Zealand visiting family.  He is a retired judge here in La Grande, Oregon, and graciously allowed me to included it in my blog.  He states that he was relieved to have safely passed this disaster waiting to happen and I would imagine that it probably took a lot of courage to even attempt it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Dad

With Fathers Day occurring this month, I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to my dad.  He is 91 this year, still living on his own, still driving, still having an influence and impact on my life.  Jeri and I were going through old slides of ours and Mom and Dad's in an effort to "clean house" and archive pictures that we wanted to save.  We borrowed a scanner so that we could preserve some family history on CD's.  In viewing several thousand slides, memories flooded our minds and reminded us of how important family is and how every member contributes and has an impact on it.  It was then that I decided it was time to share with all of you a little about my dad.

He was born on Feb. 20, 1919 in Bellflower, Illinois, and his parents, Charlie and Gladys named him Charles Jacob and called him Chuck.  He was the 2nd of seven children.  A few years later, they moved to Henry county, Indiana, bought a farm outside of Straughn, just a mile or so east of my other grandparents, Oliver and Laura Hoover.  They had a daughter named Bertie Ellen and over the years Chuck and Bertie fell in love and were married right out of high school. 

Dad didn't care much for farming and had his eyes in the sky and a heart for flying.  Grampa claimed dad had hoed more than a few rows of corn and beans underground watching airplanes instead of where the tractor was going.  So they moved to San Diego and dad went to work for Ryan aircraft as a flight line mechanic and I was born in 1939.

Dad and His grandmother drove from Indiana to San Diego in this 36 Plymouth and travel trailer.  Mom later followed on a bus and this was our first home. 

 After the war started, Ryan School of Aeronautics began training pilots for the 5th Army Air Corps in Hemit, California.  In 1943 dad moved us to Kansas City and went to work for TWA, entering into their flight engineer program.  From there we went to Alexandria, Va. where dad was flying out of Dulles International in Washington D.C.  and my sister, Sharon Lee, was born in 1944. 

During WW II the government was leasing aircraft and crews from the airlines to fly troops and cargo to Europe.  Officially dad was a member of the Army Air Corps Transcontinental and Western Air ATC Group where he earned three campaign medals.

After the war was over he returned to flying commercial routes to all points in Europe, Africa and India.  One of his favorite destinations was Frankfurt, Germany. 

Dad was gone a lot when I was growing up.  Flying international routes required he being out for 10 to 14 days, but then he would be home for two weeks before flying out again. 

In the summer of 1947 we moved to New Castle, Delaware, and dad started flying out of LaGuardia and Idlewild airports at NYC.   This was their first home and it was brand new.  It was one of the many  post war subdivisions that sprung up everywhere.  It was a two story brick home with a basement, three bed rooms and one bath.  You had to be very careful in those days about remembering exactly where you lived because every house looked the same except for landscaping.  We lived there until the summer 1952 when mom and dad decided they had had enough of east coast winters and humid summers and moved back to sunny California.          Dad's best friend and fellow flight engineer for TWA, Ed Marshall and his family, also decided to make the move.  So they sent the wives and kids by plane and they drove the cars and two dogs cross country.   Mom, Sharon and I went back to Indiana and spent two or three weeks visiting family before continuing on to LA where dad had arranged a rental to house us while our new home was being built in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley.   It was there they finally settled down long enough for me to complete Jr. High and High School. 
The house was a ranch style 3 br and bath, all on one level.  Woodland Hills was at the western end of the valley of orange and walnut orchards and dairy and alfalfa farms.  Today it is wall to wall houses and people and the only way to determine that you've gone from one town to another is by the sign welcoming you.  The house my dad paid $13,500 for sold some 45 years later for almost a half million.  Crazy Californians. 
When I was 14, dad brought this 46 Ford from our neighbor.  Her son, a SEA BEE, was coming home on leave and fell asleep and ran through a road barrier.  There was a lot of bent metal but the frame was straight and the convertible top was almost new.  Over the next year, dad and I removed all the damage parts, replaced the right side door and fender, and rebuilt the motor.  He taught me the basics  of rebuilding engines, body work working with lead and epoxy, and sanding and primer.  I learned how patient my dad was and how impatient I was.  He would work hours on a little dent and drive me crazy, but when it was done, it was perfect.     

We both shared the use of the car.  Dad would use it to commute to the airport and then when he was home it was mine to drive to high school  and on dates.  His attention to detail thankfully offset my eagerness to get it finished so I could drive it.  The end result was a sweet ride for Jeri and I while in high school.  Shortly after this picture was taken, a friend and I lowed this car 2 inches.
 Dad started flying in 1943 in the C-54.  The commercial version was the DC-4.  After the war was over TWA used the DC-4 for a couple of years while the airline transitioned into the Lockheed Constellation.  The Connie was probably the most beautiful airliner ever built and dad was privileged to fly in each of the models  TWA used. 
 The Connie was first used by TWA in 1946 and was the backbone of the carrier for over 21 years."Connie" was always described in superlatives such as "highest", "fastest", "best" and "most". (This did not always denote praise however. One of the labels it acquired was "The Worlds Best Tri-Motor", alluding to early, persistent engine problems.) Along the way, it acquired reputations in the field of smuggling, war, spraying, freight hauling, fine dining and whisking US Presidents to various parts of the globe, in addition to its duties for the major airlines of the world.

 In 1959, TWA initiated jet service from San Francisco to New York.  Shorty thereafter Dad was trained and flew the 707 until 1970 or 71 when the 747 was introduced.  The last Connie flight was in 1967 when TWA was the first airline to go all jet.  In late 1960 the pilot's union decided they wanted three pilots in the cockpit, the third pilot taking over the flight engineer's job.  Of course, the flight engineers took issue with that and threatened strike.  After months of negotiations it was resolved by the engineers agreeing to be trained as pilots.  Over the next year dad took flying lessons and finally obtained his dream of being a pilot.  He was qualified as a 707 pilot but retained his flight engineers seat to retain his seniority which he would have lost if he joined the pilots union.   
 In 1970 TWA introduced the Boeing 747 and dad went back to Kansas City to learn that aircraft and qualify as engineer and pilot.  I remember talking to him after he finished the training.  He said "Mike, that's the last school I go to.  These airplanes are just becoming too complex with all the electronics and computers".  He flew another eight years and retired at the then mandatory age of 60 in 1979.  He flew for 35 years for the same company and accumulated 35,000 hours in the air.  Not to bad for a kid coming off the farm in Indiana with only a high school education -- but a PhD in the school of
hard knocks and common sense.  

 Mom and Dad loved to fish.   The Klamath River in Nothern California was one on their favorites. Dad built this camper on a Corvair Pick-up.  There wasn't much he couldn't do with his hands.  Over the years he built a sterio cabanet, several rifle stocks, and could fix anything.  Sadly, he failed to pass those genetic traits to me.  Instead I got my mother's type A personality and his hair.  Or lack of it. 

In 1958 they purchased a 10 acre avocado orchard in Fallbrook California and he and Mom built the house there. Dad did most of the work, including building all the cabinets.

My only regret in moving our family to Oregon is that it reduced the kids frequency of visits with all the grandparents. But the times they did spend in Southern California, all the relatives there on both sides of our family made sure that the time spent with them was quality time.

Was my dad perfect?  No, but he came as close as any.  He seldon raised his voice to me, but I knew if he said "jump" I had better be asking how high on the way up.  He and mom supported me in anything I did, even when some of those decisions were suspect.  They didn't give me everything I wanted, but they gave me everything I needed, including uncondintional love and support.  They never pressured me in any particular direction, but was always there with advice and suggestions when I bothered to ask.  I have been truely blessed by the parents God gave to me.  It was not an accident, but planned from the beginning of the ages.  Thanks, Dad, for everything over the years.  Without your help Jeri and I would not have been able to do all the things we have been able to do or travel to all the places we have.  You have truly blessed our lives.     Love, Mike