Thanksgiving Day 2005

One of the things that I will always be thankful for is the fact of THIS forum/venue.It is truly one of the wonders of the modern world in which we live. I read way to many of these blogs, but it has become the best way I know of keeping in contact with old friends, friends I never knew I had, and the new friends I have made since I started my small contribution to the blogosphere. Nice name BTW! So I would like to wish each and everyone of you a wonderful Thanksgiving day and hope that as I am, you are sourrounded by friends and most importantly, family, on this day. It is raining and blowing a little here on, "Gods Little Island, but nevertheless, it is a beautiful place to be on a day such as this. Take care all and don't each so much that you explode, as I probably will! TIFN Posted by Picasa


A Letter From Iraq

When you click on the link below you will be brought to a letter written by a soldier in Iraq,(2nd tour). When you read it,here, read it slowly, stop and digest just what it is he is saying and see if it means ANYTHING to you! This letter too his Mom is about as eloquent as it gets. When you are done, look around your house, your town, your country, and then look at the members of your family, and recount to yourselves just what this FREEDOM thing is all about and what it allows you to do and say every damned day of your life. There are over two thousand guys who have already give THEIR lives, just in this venue, so you could continue to live YOURS as you see fit. Maybe I'll also send this too Mr.Murtha. He needs a reminder apparently. TIFN


Does the BIT follow the MSM's Lead?

What I'm talking about is, do they follow the lead of the Main Stream Media in that they are going to allow nothing into their sheets that might have a positive outlook on GWB? I sent an email to them in response to the ongoing,(and just ended, apparently), discourse between John Foster and myself, hoping to get one more chance at rebutting his last submission. But, no go on that idea I guess. Maybe I'll wait one more week and see what happens.
In the mean time, has anybody had a chance to check out LittleGreenFootballs and the new OSM blogs? Being a conservative blog, it is amazing that they include in their postings, links to some of the more vociferious lefty blogs! There were a couple of kind of nasty ones up there this morning!
Is there anything on the MSM this morning about the vote last night in the House of Reps? Those "Nasty, double dealing, posturing, political animals" the GOP, put a question to the whole mob of them last night and had an immediate vote on it. The vote was on a resolution that said in effect, that we should pull out of Iraq immediately. Well for the last few months, all of Bush's critics have been screaming for him to get out of Iraq and now here was their chance to do it! Guess what the vote was? 403-3 AGAINST the resoultion!!!! Jeez, I wonder what happened to all the rethoric of the last fews weeks? Here was your chance all you two faced bastards! No standing by your convictions for these guys! No sir, we don't want our constituents to know what we 'really' stand for. Oh yeah, midterm elections are coming up next year and there just might be a lot more people out there that want us to continue to support our people in Iraq, than there are dissenters despite what "the polls" say. Funny how all these polls are comissioned by left leaning organizations and then touted to the roof tops by the MSM as an absolute inidcator of every single persons feelings in the whole USA! I take all these polls with so many grains of salt I can't swallow them and neither should anyone else with half a brain!! Have I completely pissed off everybody who reads this! Oh well. TIFN


"OSM" a new kid on the Net

If you just can't stand any more of the biased and spun news stories that dominate all the major news services, try this new one for a different view. It is called Open Source Media and is run by a few of the bloggers who brought out the real truth about the story that got Dan Rather canned from CBS. They have twenty five of the best known bloggers from around the world on board as the people who will get and post the "other side" of the story. They will be able to immediately refute or confirm whether the story as reported was and is true, or whether salient points are being left out of the story by the MSM. SO if you are interested in what is really going on out there in the world, log on and check them out! If you think they are wrong or are putting their own spin on an item, you can click on the comments section and call them on it right then and there and get a reply pretty quickly! You can't do that with the TV news or the papers. In fact THEY, won't EVER deign to answer you using either email or snail mail! I know, I've tried many times.
Duh! I thought I put the address on as a link. Here is the address again, I hope: www.osm.org Sorry about that.Then again maybe I can get it to work here.


Navy Chronicles Chapter Six-- Final One!

There was a good-sized hill outside of Naples on the road to Rome. It was in the little town of Pozzouli, where Sophia Loren was born and lived. They called it Cuma Mountain, but was not much bigger than Beacon Hill here on the Island, only a lot steeper to get up. There was only a foot trail that we could see, so of course that just begged us to try and cram our bikes up there. We finally succeeded one day only to find ourselves in the middle of a good -sized vineyard. After talking to the guy who lived there for a while, he invited us into his house, which was built in the mouth of a cave in the side of the mountain. In the back, he had barrels and barrels of wine all made and ready to go to the city for sale. He broke out a few old glasses and dipped them into a small barrel he had right there in his kitchen and passed them around. We immediately lived up to our reputations as drunken sailors. When we got ready to leave and were about to start down the winding and dangerous trail, the old guy says, “why don’t you go down the road on the other side of the vineyard?” DUH! There wasn’t one of us, smart enough, to have wondered how he got those big-assed barrels down that small trail to go to the city! Smart boys we were!
At the bottom of that self-same mountain, there was a set of railroad tracks that ran between Naples and Roma. They were set up on a raised roadbed or berm. Again, it was an obstacle that just begged for us to do something stupid and dangerous. We backed off a little ways and started up the side of the berm at a good clip intending to jump over the tracks and land going down the other side of the berm. In theory and in actual practice it should work and did. The only trouble was figuring out just how fast you had to be going when you hit the top of the hill at the takeoff point. The first try didn’t even get us too the tracks. The next try landed the flyer right in the middle of the tracks to the huge detriment to his bike! Bent wheels. The next guy to try, not wanting his wheels to suffer the same out-come, cracked it on pretty good. He looked good flying through the air all the way over the tracks. The only trouble he had was on the landing, because he completely missed the taper of the berm on the far side and landed on the front wheel mostly, on the flat ground. This separated him from his steed in a most uncomfortable manner. Eventually we figured it out, that the optimum speed was just 35 mph, and thereafter we would scare the hell out of the engineers on the trains, by jumping across the tracks in front of the slow moving trains.
Through out Naples and the rest of Italy, there were a lot of fountains in the main piazzas, or squares of the city. One day while riding around on our bikes and looking at the big fountain in the main square of Napoli, the Piazza Munichipio, we got the bright idea that the local populace needed a little more color in their lives. So back to the base we went and on to the parachute loft. There we obtained about six packets of the US Navy’s best shark repellant. When this stuff is put in water it turns a beautiful shade of fluorescent green. Off we go back downtown to brighten the drab lives of all those people forced to live in drab old Napoli. Man, after throwing in the dye packets on a couple of circuits around the fountain, we pulled over to the side and stopped at the only place in Napoli that made pizza. It took a few minutes, but eventually the color started to show. As more and more of the dye got into the water, it turned a lot darker than we had anticipated. It was a closed water system and after all the dye dissolved, it wasn’t a nice fluorescent green, it turned a dark forest green! Virtually every car on the road and around the square came to a stop and the people all got out and went over to the fountain to feel and look at the phenomena. Needless to say I suppose, that the excrement hit the rotating airfoil over that little trick. The next night someone who shall remain nameless dumped a whole bottle of liquid soap into the same fountain, and now there were thousands of cubic feet of green bubbles all over the main piazza. They eventually had to drain all the contaminated water out of the fountain and refill it. The “word” was put out at the base, that if this occurred again someone on the base would be getting Court Martialed and spending some time in the brig! That pronouncement brought about an immediate cessation of water coloring.
Another night, another try at getting thrown in jail. This one occurred because it was a rainy night and we didn’t want to get wet walking from the car to the barracks when we got back to the base. So we just rode around till we saw a likely prospect standing on the sidewalk waiting for a bus. He was right at the edge of the sidewalk, and had his umbrella in his hand in the open position. I’m driving, so I swoop right close to the walk, while my partner in crime reaches out the window of the car and rips the brelly right out of the guy’s hand! Woosh, off we drive with our prize in our hand. Only trouble was, he couldn’t get the damned thing closed, and as I’m going at a pretty good clip now, it managed to turn itself inside out. Oh well, there must be someone else out there waiting to part with their umbrella. We didn’t find him though and had to be satisfied with our everted one. Remember those great big license plates that I mentioned before? They were also good for giving away who you were, when you were trying to be a beginning crook. Anyway, the next morning about ten in the AM, I get a summons from the Exec. of the base, requesting, nay, demanding my presence at his office forthwith! Not only did our big red and white plates give us away, it also made it easy for the Mayor of Naples to locate the two dastardly people who stole his son’s umbrella right out of his hands, right in front of the La Scala opera house! Whoops, BIG no-no. We were directed to take the offending object directly back to the office of the Mayor and to suffer whatever punishment he deemed it necessary to inflict upon the two of us blackguards! The first stop was at a shop where we could buy one that was of at least the same value as the one we stole and broke. Then off to the Mayors office to face the music. All in all, he was very gracious, and understanding of young people’s hijinks. After apologizing profusely, we beat a hasty retreat and went back to the Exec.’s office to report on our humiliation and punishment. When he found out the Mayor did little more than verbally chastise us, he immediately put us both on two weeks restriction to the base and docked us $50 apiece! That was a most unsatisfying and expensive experience! $50 dollars was about three weeks pay back then, plus the cost of the new umbrella!
One day my future wife, myself, and about three or four other guys, were on a little excursion in the backcountry. Two guys on a Vespa motor scooter, came up alongside of us, and were doing some fierce ogling of the rear end of the only female rider in our bunch. Granted, it was unusual to say the least, to see a female astride of a motorcycle. Even more unusual was the fact that she was driving the thing! Unheard of in those days in Italia. Women always rode on the back of ANY motor scooter or cycle, and absolutely NEVER astride! They always sat side-saddle. Well these two guys just couldn’t believe what they were seeing and kept edging in closer and closer. Finally I goosed my bike and cut in front of them and behind Verna’s bike. Well, they didn’t like being relegated to the rear of our entourage and again they came abreast of her and cut right in behind her. Only this time they decided to take a few more liberties with this uncouth and “low” woman. The driver pulled right up close and the passenger guy reached out and gave a good firm pat to the derrière of “my woman”! Well, how dare the little snot! At the moment, we happened to be going along the top of a long low hill with a fairly steep down hill embankment to the right of us, all nice and grassy. So I pulled right up along side of them again and reached out with my foot and gave the handle bar grip of the scooter a fairly stiff kick. The wheel immediately snapped hard right, and the last I saw of the two and their scooter; they were tumbling head over heels down the side of the hill. No more pats on the po-po from those two!

After I had proved to the powers that be, that I could fix virtually any problem with any of the Navy’s big round engines, and that I was a rather resourceful sailor, I got a huge step up! The guy who had been 1st wrench, (head mechanic) on Admiral Browns R4Y-5Z Convair was transferred back to the States. The 2nd wrench moved up to take his place and they needed a replacement for #2. It was up to Chief Baker to assign him, and somehow I got the job! Now this was going to get me to all those ‘nice’ places to go on an RON. No more carrier trips, no more weeks of living like an animal in the belly of a small plane. On this baby, we went to wherever there was a United States Embassy, on a regular basis! The only bad thing about the whole job was the fact that whenever we landed in a foreign city, when you walked down the stairs of that plane you had to be wearing a dress uniform! Huge pain in the butt. Trying to keep an all white uniform spotlessly clean while working around an aircraft was a task that I was not good at. They used to call me Pigpen around the hangar, because I attracted dirt just like a magnet. I used to keep six sets of brand new “whites” stashed on board the aircraft at all times, just in case! But right after the Admiral and all the “Digs” (dignitaries) had left the area, we jumped right back into our dungarees. Then it was time to service the aircraft with fuel and post flight it. We would fix any minor discrepancies that the pilots had noted on the yellow sheet. Those big old R2800 hundreds managed to leak out oil from various orifices and so we would wipe it all up so that the plane shown like a diamond. Once our “baby” had been attended to, we were free to go exploring in the city where we were. Over the course of the next year and a half, I went to virtually every major city in Europe and a good part of the ones in Africa and the Middle East. I would send my folks a post card from each one of the city/countries, and they would track me on an old Atlas they had. There were some of those cards that didn’t get back to the States until after I did! A few of these cities that we visited were in the Soviet Bloc and when we would go to them we never wore a uniform, not allowed by the local powers that be. When and if we did get to go into the city, it was in civilian clothes and then only to designated places. There were also ALWAYS, two guys who followed you where ever you went. In most of these places you hardly ever saw people just walking around have a good time or fun. Everyone and everything looked grim and foreboding. Places like Warsaw, Poland and Split, Yugoslavia were particularly unhappy looking places. Once in a while some brave soul would come up to us and try to talk to us about the US. All the while your two tails would edge up close and listen in. I often wondered what happened to those people after they had the temerity to talk to us.
After having spent three plus years gallivanting all over Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, one of the countries that I liked to visit the most was Greece. As was always the case in a foreign country, as far as I was concerned, the local people in the villages were absolutely delightful to deal with! It was only when you had to deal with the bureaucrats that it became less than satisfying! One of the Greek Isles that I had the good fortune to visit was the Island of Rhodes. It was kind of bare and desolate in the outlying areas, but the little village on the water was absolutely beautiful. I spent about two hours one day, at a small outdoor restaurant trying to explain to two people that the name of the State in the US where I lived was named after this particular little Island. I’m not even sure that that is true, but I can’t imagine where Roger Williams got the name for our patch if it wasn’t from there.
In each one of these countries, I’d wind up with some of the local currency in either coinage or paper form. After three years plus over there, I had quite an exotic mix of money. I kept it in an old shaving bag and it added up to about $500. I could have traded it in for American green, but I wanted to bring it home to show my Mom and Dad. On the way back, we were routed through Port Layutey in French Morocco where we had a two day layover. Well, one of the times we were all out of the barracks at chow, a gang of the local hoods went through the place like a scourge of locust and cleaned out every damn locker in the building. So there went my coin collection and a Kodak Retina Reflex camera with a 70 mm telephoto lens and a good wide angle one as well. That was about $2000 worth of camera and lenses back then. It put an abrupt end to my photography career! A few hours after this, we were all on one of those newfangled Boeing 707 jet airliners that MATS had recently acquired, on our way back to the good old US of A and the end of my tour in Bella Italia! Ciao everybody! Now on to the hinterlands of the State of Maine for my next duty station that had absolutely nothing to do with airplanes!


AD-5N Tow Plane had The reel on the center station

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Navy Chronicles Chapter Five

Even before I had bought my VW car, I had bought a Triumph Bonneville T-650cc motorcycle within a month of arriving in Bella Napoli. This was an English bike that was about twice the size of ANY motorcycle in existence in Italy at that time. It cost me right around $1500 if my memory serves me correctly. I didn’t have a clue how to ride the thing so a friend of mine let me keep it at his house right down the street from me. He also taught me how to ride the thing on the beach out in front of the house. I was getting pretty good at doing the, “up-shift” but not to swift at doing the “downshift”. Well, one day I’m out there on the beach going at a pretty good clip when I notice this big Boxer dog making a beeline for me. I was trying real hard to stop when he decided to take a big bite out of the front wheel! I was still doing about 15 mph when this obstruction glommed onto my trusty steed and we all crashed in a heap on the beach. Now the dog is howling to beat hell because his mouth hurts and me and a 600 pound motorcycle are lying on top of him. He keeps biting at anything he can reach and occasionally gets a piece of me. I’m smacking at him and trying to get the hot exhaust pipe off my leg when the dog owner arrives and commences to scream at me for running over his stupid assed dog. A huge fight is about to ensue when along comes another guy who saw what happened and calmed everyone down. I say everyone, cause about 15 people immediately showed up to participate in whatever was going on, as always happens in any situation in good old Napoli! The only down side of owning the bike, was that the Commanding Officer of the base would not let us bring one on the base. So we had to take our big time investment and chain them to a lamp post out side the main gate of the base. We used lots of chains and a couple of case hardened locks on each one of them. I am still amazed that the chains weren’t cut and the bikes stolen by the locals, but it never happened. I had the misconception that everyone in Italy was a member of the Mafia. Apparently, not so with the people of our local area. I was in fact, to become friendly and totally in love with an older Italian couple. They were to become my mentors and surrogate family for the last two years of my sojourn in Napoli. Their names were Maria and Roberto Guilio. He ran a small motorcycle repair shop, which we had gone to strictly by chance, to get some crash bars made for our bikes. They would correct my poor Italian, and endeavor to set me on the right word usage path. While I lived with them in their house for the last eight months I was there, I was treated to some of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. It was simple stuff, and I really enjoyed living like, and eating like the local people. Every night just before dinner, Roberto would get a couple of mugs and go over to a fifty gallon wooden barrel in the corner of the kitchen and take off the lid. Inside was some of the best Chianti wine I’ve ever had. He’d bail out two mugs full and come back to the table. Whereupon, I would begin working on my nightly buzz. Man that stuff was powerful. At that time in my life, I still weighed in at a scrawny 145-150 lbs. It didn’t take too much alcohol to get me totally besotted. I asked Roberto one time how they got that big barrel of wine into the house when the last one had gone empty as it was on this particular night. He said to come home early, by five o’clock the next day and I would find out. Well I arrived by the appointed time the next day and up pulls a huge wooden barrel on a truck. This barrel was at least big enough to hold a thousand gallons of liquid. The guy driving it pulled right up on the sidewalk of Roberto’s house and passed a long hose in through the window and right to the wine barrel in the corner! Viola! Instant refill. The three of us would sit at that table and talk about everything under the sun for an hour or two after supper. They had a friend who lived in the same complex and who was a devote Communist. He would occasionally stop by and join in on the conversation. He was forever trying to engage me in conversations about how great communism was for the common man, and how decadent the US was. I told him that I was about as common a man as there was, and after watching what was going on in all the communist controlled countries that I knew about, I didn’t want a damn thing to do with his type of politics! I would love to talk to him now to find out his views on the total decline and fall of that “wonderful” doctrine of his!
Supper usually took an hour or more to eat as there were always four or five courses. Not a lot for each one, but it still had to be cooked and eaten one at a time! By the time dinner was over and my mug had been refilled two or three times I was ready for bed. There was no such thing as central heating in that apartment house either. Each tenant had to supply his own heat source. When in the kitchen, it was a kerosene fired cook stove. Also there was a big heavy tablecloth hung almost all the way to the floor and contained the heat right under the table, because there was a big charcoal burning brazier under there! I used to get the damnedest headaches while I lived there and finally figured out that it was from the fumes of the charcoal being burned and contained right in the room and under the table! I am amazed that we all didn’t die from carbon monoxide poisoning! We all sat around the table with your stocking feet propped up on the edge of the brazier. After a lot of wine, it was prudent to remove your feet from the rim and put them on the floor, where the danger of catching your socks on fire was a lot less! When you went to bed, you crawled under about three or four heavy quilts, and snuggled up in the middle of a big feather bed. I will have to say though, that I did bring quite a lot of the staple foods into the kitchen. Old Roberto just loved American peanut butter once I had introduced him to it. It was another of those idyllic times in my life, living out there with them. It was in the little town of Caserta, just a mile or so from the base. When it came time for me to leave to come back home, I left them my 24’ day-sailer and my motorcycle. He was the only Italian in the whole city of Naples, and probably all of Italy, that had a 650cc souped-up English bike! I also made sure to buy as much peanut butter as I could, so it would last him for a long time. It wasn’t something you could buy on the open market back then. It was strictly a US Navy Commissary item. The day before I was to leave was one of the saddest days of my life, as we knew that we’d never see each other again. There was a lot of crying and hugging and then it was time to go. I felt worse about leaving them then I had my own family, as I knew I would be seeing them again soon.
The biggest police motorcycle at that time, was a 350cc Gelera. The police had a little paddle that was colored red on one side and green on the other that they used to control traffic. They never could catch us on their bikes if they thought we were speeding, so they would wait till they found us stopped somewhere and come up and assess a fine for speeding. They said they knew we had been speeding at some time in the course of our trip, so they were collecting while they could! A bird in the hand don’t you know! Sometimes though they would stop you on the road by holding out the red side of the paddle if they saw us coming and we’d be obliged to stop and fork over a little more of the green stuff. You couldn’t just blow on by them, knowing they couldn’t catch you, because there was that big fat license plate advertising who you were. Beside that, they were empowered to stop you anyway they could, and that included shooting at you! Which did happen on one occasion to a friend and me. After having been stopped to have your pockets picked by the local constabulary a few times, we took to keeping most of our money wrapped around our ankles under the socks. You would keep about 2-3 mille, about $5 in your pockets in small bills and change, and when they demanded payment; we’d turn out our pockets with all the small stuff. They were usually happy with it, when they figured they had just taken all we had. Ha Ha on them!!
Almost every where we went for that first year was on the back of that bike. Even after getting the car, the bike was the preferred mode of transportation. It was the best for negotiating downtown Naples, as you could weave between cars, and even get right up on the sidewalk with all the other Vespa motorscooters, and the rest of the Neopolitian populace. Virtually every scooter was up on the sidewalk, because it was easier to make people move out of the way than it was to get a car to move over! Man what a madhouse that town was to drive in!
I was there when it snowed in Naples for the first time in about 80 years! They had no such thing as a snowplow, and after about a million accidents had happened because none of the locals knew how to drive in the snow; some “brain” had a storm in his head! They decided to have the fire brigade break out the hoses and wash all that nasty white stuff right down the sewers. It worked great for a little bit, but then all the water froze on the streets and they were worse off than with the snow! I have never seen so many wrecked cars in one place before or since! God what a mess.
These motorcycle trips were a regular occurrence on every weekend that was fairly warm. We’d put a bunch of money in our pockets, roll up a blanket and a poncho and strap them to the bike and off we’d go. We would leave as soon as we could on Friday afternoon and just pick out a direction and go. Usually we stayed off the main highways and went by way of the back roads. Some of the places we’d find were like stepping back three or four hundred years. Using our Neapolitan Italian, we could just barely communicate with the people out there in the sticks. There were a lot of nights that we slept on the floor of some small trattoria after having supper with the owners. Leaving un mille, 1000 Lira per person for the food and the use of the floor, was more cash than most of these people had seen in years if not their whole lives. That L1000 was worth about $1.60 back then. $6.40 (four guys) wasn’t much to we rich Americans but was an unimaginable windfall to these people.
Supper at these little, out of the way places covered the gamut of plain old country-food. Lots of pasta and veggies, various types of soups, minestrone turned out to be the kind I liked best, and occasionally some kind of meat. There always appeared on the table, lots of bread and copious amounts of Chianti type vino. Eating and staying the night with these people was a lot like being right back home. They were always unfailingly generous to a fault and polite as could be. They didn’t know about the Ugly Americans in the “outback”. They were for the most part still grateful to the US and others for being freed from Mussolini and his ilk, unlike their neighbors to the north in France! When we were on the road during the day, the drill was to find a small store and buy a stick of salami or some other kind of preserved meat, a loaf of bread and a bottle of the ubiquitous vino. That was lunch, taken on the seat of your bike or just sitting by the road watching the people go by. The military used to tell us not to eat any of the produce that was available at stores and roadside peddler carts unless they had been soaked in a mixture of one part bleach to ten parts water. This was to kill the hepatitis germs that abounded because of the use of human waste as a fertilizer. Well we didn’t give that to awful much thought while on our weekly excursions and after three years of eating “off the economy” I never contracted any sort of problems. Even the “gelati”, ice cream was supposed to be off limits.
There was a group of us sailors who owned these pretty high performance motorcycles, and of course we all thought that we had the fastest one. Naturally this led to competitions of a sort. There was an old unused WWII airport outside Naples that was the site that the local Italians used for the same thing. They graciously let us race our bikes there too. They never competed against us because as I said before, the biggest cubic inch displacement bike in Italy at that time was 350cc. We would line up on the start line and at a signal, take off for the finish line. After shifting into third gear, you would lie out flat on the seat and the rear fender in order to cut down the wind resistance. After crossing the finish line, you would pull yourself back up to a sitting position. At the end of one of my runs I did just that only to have the throttle assembly come off in my hand. This immediately yanked both carburetors wide open and left me hanging off the side of the bike and beginning to accelerate frighteningly. Well, it’s a good thing there was a pond right at the end of the runway, cause that is where I wound up going about 85 mph! The cold water and my hot engine did not like the close contact and immediately made the engine separate into a few pieces. It was no danger to me though because I had departed into the air and was tumbling ass over tincups well ahead of the machinery. It was fortuitous that the pond was only three or four feet deep or I most likely would have expired right then. Shortly after that incident I gave up racing motorcycles on the drag strip and took up scrambling around in the bushes with it instead. We used to have these things called Hare and Hound races too. One person would be designated as the “hare” and off he would go. With a five minute head start, it was then up to the rest of us “hounds” to go find him. We set limits of just how far into the hinterlands he could go, or we’d never catch him! This was great fun and kept us out of the barrooms for a while.
In Italy in the 50’s and 60’s the buses that were used, sat high off of the ground on huge wheels. You had to climb up three or four steps to get on board and that was a lucky thing for me on one other occasion. I had been out with a couple of my friends attending a function at one of the local bars. It was called drinking to excess. Well I lived up to my end of the bargain and was pretty well inebriated when we left to return to the base. There was a long stretch of straight road leading up the hill from downtown Naples to the airport. Then you came to two or three ninety-degree turns before the final leg of the trip to the front gate of the base. Of course it always became a race to see who could get to the first turn first. On this occasion I was winning until I hit a slick spot in the road and down I went doing about 45 mph. At the same time around the corner came one of those gigantic buses going the opposite way. Through some sort of fluke of perfect timing, I slid under the bus right behind the front wheels and came out the other side before the rear wheels had a chance to squish me. Right after emerging from under the bus, I had lots of thoughts of thanks to the Commanding Officer of the base for demanding that anyone owning and riding a bike under his command, would have a set of crash bars installed on the front and back of his bike, and had to wear a safety helmet to. It saved me from the worst case of road rash you can imagine. Not one piece of “me” touched the road throughout this escapade as I was hugging the bike pretty tightly! All the other guys behind me, saw me go under amid a shower of sparks, and assumed the worst. They were all standing there by their bikes, expecting to have to start crying and carrying on about my demise. Then imagine their surprise when I emerged unscathed from the jaws of death! Stupidity did reign supreme at times in my life!