While out in Tucson, I met two WWII Marine Corps heroes, Bill Toledo and Alfred Newman, both Navajo Code Talkers. For those unfamiliar with this small group of Native Americans, during the Pacific campaign the Marine Corps needed radio operators that could translate tactical communications in combat without the Japanese being able to understand what was being said. The original 29 Navajo volunteers developed a unique radio code using Navajo words to describe military operations and equipment. For example, chay-da-gahi in Navajo means tortoise, and translated to “tank” in English; ah-na-sozi in Navajo means cliff dwelling, and translated to “fortification” in English. During the entire war in the Pacific, Japanese cryptanalysts were never able to crack the Navajo code. Ultimately 450 Marine code talkers were recruited from the Navajo tribe, and fought with valor and distinction through the brutal island-hopping campaigns (including such garden spots as Bougainville, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa). There were also some Comanches who served with the 4th Infantry Division in the European theater, where the Comanche term for Adolf Hitler translated as “crazy white man”.
Another very surprising experience out west occurred when I was returning to the air force base after dinner and a bookstore trip. It was 9:30 on a Friday night, and as the gate guard checked my I.D. card, I noticed that the young man wasn’t a 20 year-old airman, but a full “bird colonel”, in fact the 355th Fighter Wing Commander himself. Col Meger goes out and works with his men and women “on the front line” at every opportunity, an impressive leadership style. (What was really sobering was that the colonel looked so young!)
Have you ever misplaced a set of car keys? It can be very frustrating, and in extreme cases can lead to marital strife… My Lovely Bride was looking for a set the other day, and suggested that I had misplaced them when I last drove the car. I replied, “But My Darling, I distinctly recall putting the set I used into the kitchen drawer.” I think that I heard her mutter “Harumph!” or something very much like that under her breath, as she continued looking for the keys. A few minutes later, a somewhat abashed Suzanne poked her head around the corner and said, “You know, a less honest wife might have put these in your jacket pocket… but I would never do such a thing.”
We were enjoying a fabulous dinner the other night with good friends Jan and Peter at their new home with one of the best views in town, and Jan started to tell us about a Cajun Zydeco group that was scheduled to perform as part of the upcoming Mardi Gras celebration here in The Villages. “Ty, you probably know all about that Doo-Doo-Fais stuff, being from New Orleans.” I was taken aback for a moment, and then realized that what she meant was “Fais Do-Do”…
… which is Cajun French for a dance party, but literally referred to the gentle command “make sleep” that young mothers gave their crying babies so that the mother could return to the dance floor. While I do have Guidrys on one side of my family, I was not raised speaking Cajun French, but I had a close Cajun friend who would take me crawfishing out in the swamps, and I got to a few dances at places like Mulate’s and Tipitina’s. I have yet to take My Lovely Bride out Cajun dancing; she knows about my two left feet, and is wary of being injured. I have taught her to eat crawfish, though, but she is still a beginner at eating them properly. (If you know what I mean, you also understand why I’m not more descriptive…)
One experience with my Cajun friend Jesse bears repeating. Proper crawfishing in south Louisiana requires one to set 30 or so nets baited with chicken necks in a circle in the swamp. You are wading in cafe au lait colored water up to your thighs, with the top of each net marked with a small red rag. By the time you’ve completed the circle, the first net should hold 5-10 crawfish, which are then dumped into a gunny sack tied to your waist. You continue around the circle of nets, loading up your gunny sack until it’s full.
We were only an hour into our harvest, and I saw movement out of the corner of my eye; it was a cottonmouth, or water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus), swimming towards us. These snakes are poisonous, and can be quite aggressive. Jesse pulled a forked stick out of his belt, and as the snake reached arm’s length, jabbed the fork behind the snake’s head, pinning it down in the mud. He then reached for his Bowie knife with his left hand and quickly cut off the snake’s head and tossed the still thrashing body into his gunny sack. My eyes were as big as plates as I asked him, “Geez, Jesse, what if he had bitten you?” He replied, “Well, that’s one of the reasons you’re here.” He later asked me whether I’d like a belt made of the snake’s skin, but I declined, saying that it wouldn’t match my Navy uniform… I also decided to do any future crawfishing from a pirogue (a small south Louisiana flat-bottomed canoe-like boat) rather than wading.
Back here in The Villages, Suzanne has been busy with a new presentation, Awakened Living 301, the Advanced Course for Souls Living on the Earth Plane. She gave this talk for the first time (while I was at a photography class) as a benefit for Unity of The Villages’ building fund, and filled the house with over 150 happy attendees. She will be presenting it again tonight (Thurs 2/12) at the same venue, and at First Unity of St. Petersburg, Florida, on Sunday February 22.
We got “off the reservation” recently when Suzanne was invited to a Spirit Circle by friends in Citrus Springs, about 40 miles west of The Villages. The puppies and I tagged along, and we all had a great day; while Suzanne met with the ladies, I swapped sea stories with two other Navy veteran husbands, Tom and Herb, and Rudy and Gretchen got to go on walks in a new neighborhood with different dog smells. To Ty (that’s her in the blue top in the center), many thanks for hosting such a loving event at your home, and to the entire Spirit Circle for their friendship, hospitality and a delicious gourmet lunch!
Finally, I have to relate one of the most bizarre and troubling sightings of the year. I was on a walk through our neighborhood and was passed by a golf cart going full speed. The driver, a sixty-something guy, had both hands off the wheel and was flossing his teeth… what was the name of that movie? Oh, yeah, “Dumb and Dumber”….