Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Candy

Candy.    I love candy.   I have had a "sweet tooth" all of my life.   My parents didn't normally keep candy in the house except at Christmas.   They would get that hard Christmas candy that we have all seen and probably eaten at one time or another.
I especially liked the ones that were filled with a jelly or jam.   But let's not forget about the ribbon candy.   I would consume mass quantities of Christmas candy.
Each week on Tuesdays the school would empty out as the Catholic students went to the nearby Catholic church to receive religious instruction.   The few non-Catholic students would remain behind in the classroom and have a "study hall" for the afternoon.   I must admit that there wasn't much studying done on these Tuesday afternoon "study halls".   It was more of a time for fun and games.   Grade school was in a very old building which I just happened to like.   The picture below of my grade school is from a very old postcard.
My parents were Methodist but non-practicing Methodists.   One day when I was in the fifth grade and it was a Tuesday close to Christmas, all of the Catholic kids came back with a little box of those Christmas candies.   The box was shaped just like an animal crackers box, string and all.
But instead of having the box look like a circus wagon, the box was printed to look like a church.   I was stunned by this.   All of the Catholic kids had a box of Christmas candy.   I asked how much the box of candy cost.   They said that they were free and they got them from the nuns for going to religious instruction.   Insatiable greed started to possess me.   I wanted some of that free candy.   I went home that day and told my mother that I wanted to go to religious instruction at the Catholic church.   She said fine.   So on Tuesdays I went to religious instruction at the Catholic church with the Catholic students to be taught catechism.   A year went by and "by golly" at Christmas time I got my free box of Christmas candy from the nuns, and I was happy.   I continued going to religious instruction and the following year I got my little animal cracker style box loaded with Christmas candy, and once again I was happy.  This was followed year after year and I was happy because I kept getting my box of Christmas candy.   When I got into my junior or senior year of high school I decided to convert to Catholicism since that was the only religion that I knew.   I was baptized by Father Michael Gallucci.   Then in a few weeks I received my first communion and then later my confirmation.
   Now many years later I am a die-hard Catholic and would never consider any other religion.   But isn't it just amazing that the church won over a convert (me) for a small box of Christmas candy.    What a bargain for them.   Below is a crucifix that Father Gallucci gave me 60 years ago and I have kept it all these years and it is up on the wall.   It is one of my treasured possessions.
My parents moved from New York to Miami and I lost track of Father Gallucci.   I am sure that he must have passed on by now but I remember his words to me, "If I can get one person to convert to the Catholic religion then my life as a priest will be complete."   I was that one person.   The one who would make his life complete by converting to Catholicism.   He wanted me to go to a nearby Jesuit seminary and become a priest.   That didn't happen but my faith is deep.   Father Michael Gallucci is one of those people who are just exceptionally good.    Have a good holiday season and if you happen to eat any of those hard Christmas candies, just think of me.   Be blessed.   Lew

Sunday, November 17, 2013

monster caterpillar

My wife found this very large caterpillar on the ground in the grass.   She knows I like little "critters" and so she brought it to me to see.   It was so very large as caterpillars go.   I did a search for big green caterpillar and discovered that it was an imperial moth caterpillar.

This "critter" metamorphoses into a beautiful moth that could easily be mistaken for a butterfly.
I know the old rule-of-thumb:  if it flies in the daytime it is a butterfly, if it flies at night it is a moth.
My wife put it back in the grass so that it could develop in a beautiful moth.   I am going to keep my eye out for a pretty yellow and brown moth.   Have a great day and enjoy nature which is all around us.     Lew

Monday, July 8, 2013

Doris "Dorie" Miller - Hero

Doris "Dorie" Miller.   His friends called him Dorie.   Born in Waco, Texas in 1919 he worked on his fathers farm and joined the Navy in 1939.   He wanted to travel and earn some money for his parents, Henrietta and Conery Miller.   But how did he get the first name of Doris?   I don't know.   Could it be that his father gave him that first name so he would group up tough to take on life's challenges?   We all remember that Johnny Cash song about A Boy Named Sue.

There were probably a lot of truisms in the lyrics of that song.   And Dorie did grow up tough and strong.  He was a fullback on the football team while attending Moore High School in Waco, Texas.
When he joined the Navy in 1939 he was a mess attendant and assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro.  

Now it is bad enough being assigned to an ammunition ship, but the ships name Pyro is the Greek word for fire.   And the last thing that you want on a ship loaded full of ammunition is fire.   I would have found it very unnerving.   Interestingly, the ship made it through the war without incident.
On January 2, 1940 he was transferred to the Battleship USS West Virginia.

He was the heavyweight boxing champion on board the USS West Virginia.   Being the champion meant that he was the toughest sailor on board.   Cuba Gooding, Jr. portrayed Dorie Miller in the movie Pearl Harbor as the heavyweight boxing champ on board the ship.


Just like Steven Segal in the movie Under Siege, he was one tough mess attendant.  

Steven Segal was a cook aboard the USS Missouri in that movie.   

But a tough cook, much like Dorie Miller.

One big difference, Steven Segal was an actor in a movie but Dorie Miller was a real life hero.  

In the picture at the very beginning of this blog, that medal on the chest of Dorie Miller is the Navy Cross, a very high honor awarded for heroism in battle.  

And it was presented to Dorie by none other than Admiral Nimitz himself in a ceremony held on board the USS Enterprise. 

And Admiral Nimitz himself personally pinned the Navy Cross onto Dorie Miller's uniform.   Another high honor.

There is only one medal higher than the Navy Cross and that is the Congressional Medal of Honor.   But why would the Navy Cross be presented to Dorie Miller for heroism?   What did he do?   Here is the answer.   He was a mess attendant on board the battleship USS West Virginia and it was at anchor in Pearl Harbor (yeah, you know what's coming).  
It was December 7, 1941.   Not the place to be.   Dorie arose at 6:00 am and began gathering the laundry.   The alarm for General Quarters sounded.   Dorie Miller responded to his battle station which was the anti-aircraft ammunition storage room.   The room had been destroyed by a torpedo and so Dorie proceeded to the deck.   There were wounded sailors and he started carrying them to safety.   He was then ordered by an officer to go to the bridge and aid the mortally wounded Captain Bennion, Captain of the ship.  

        Captain Bennion
Once Captain Bennion was in a safe area and being tended to, Dorie returned to the deck and manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun.   Portrayed here by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in a scene from the movie Pearl Harbor.

Dorie did shoot down a Japanese plane.  Again Dorie Miller is portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the movie Pearl Harbor.

Dorie fired the machine guns for about 15 minutes until he ran out of ammunition.

After having two armor piercing bombs penetrate through the deck and after being hit by five 18-inch aircraft torpedos, the USS West Virginia was sinking and the crew was ordered to abandon ship.   Once again, Cuba Gooding, Jr. portraying Dorie Miller.

The USS West Virginia sunk until her deck was even with the water.   The great battleship had settled onto the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

His ship was sunk and so the USS West Virginia did not need a mess attendant and Dorie was a hero for his courage under fire.   His image was put on recruiting posters.

He gave speeches like the one here at the Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois.


Dorie Miller was transferred to the cruiser USS Indianapolis on December 13, 1941.  

We all remember the USS Indianapolis was the ship that carried the uranium core to Tinian island for the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.   And then on the return trip the USS Indianapolis was sunk on July 30, 1945 by a Japanese submarine with a terrible loss of life.
But Dorie had already been transferred during the spring of 1943 to the aircraft carrier USS Liscome Bay.

On November 24, 1943 at 5:10 am the USS Liscome Bay was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-175.   Minutes later the room where the bombs for the planes were stored exploded.   Minutes later the aircraft carrier sank.   Of the 916 crewmen on board the carrier, 644 died, including Dorrie Miller.   Only 272 men survived.
To honor Doris Dorrie Miller a frigate was commissioned as the USS Miller.  

The post office issued a postage stamp on February 4, 2010 honoring Doris Miller.

But a very nice honor was afforded by a reenactor who portrayed Doris Dorrie Miller.   A really nice gesture.   This was at the National Archives 2007 Fourth of July celebration.   The woman was portraying Rosie the Riveter.  

It is good to remember those who have given so much and not let their memory fade away.   There is much more about Dorrie Miller and so please do an internet search on Doris Miller and read the whole story in detail about Dorrie.    Have a good day.    Lew

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Godzilla flower

With the coming of the rainy season in Florida the passion vines that I planted are really starting to grow rapidly.   That is them growing right up the center of the trellis.

Hopefully they will bloom with some beautiful flowers.   I don't know how they can consider this plant as a roadside weed.

The passion vine that I have was started as a cutting from a larger vine.   I used a rooting hormone to help it develop roots.

It worked great.   The cutting sprouted both roots and leaves.

It has that characteristic three bladed leaf.   And I can't tell you why but it reminds me of the Godzilla footprint from the remake of the movie starring Matthew Broderick.

Evidently the scene for the movie was filmed on the Kualoa ranch in Hawaii.

And the footprint for the movie is still there and has now become a tourist attraction.

Seeing the Godzilla footprint in person would make a good excuse for visiting Hawaii.   I have never been to Hawaii but living here in Florida is pretty similar.    Plus we have DisneyWorld here in Orlando, Florida.   Is there a Disney World in Hawaii?   I don't think so.
By the way, the small white flowers in the background are from the jasmine vine which is also growing up the trellis. Check back from time to time to see the beautiful flowers when they bloom.
By the way, how did I do on tying the passion flower to Godzilla?


Have a terrific day.     Lew