Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Monday Mornings and Facebook Friending Leads to Reminiscing

With my new schedule change I'm back to doing a ride on Monday mornings just as I used to a couple years ago. Of all the riding I do throughout the week my Monday morning ride has always been my favorite. I suppose it's because I can't beat myself up too badly on it as I have to work in the afternoon. It's an early morning ride with less traffic than I'm used to so that too no doubt plays a part.

This past Monday's ride put me over 5000 road miles for 2008. That's significantly less miles than at the same point the past several years but that's all a part of the plan to moderate my mileage. So far, so good. Anything over 6000 miles this year will be just fine.

I have a Facebook account but I'm not really sure why. I think my brother may have sent me an invite this past spring and I signed up then. Until recently I've done very little with it. I was 'friended' last month by Steve, a person I only know through my blog. We share the same passion for cycling. His prompt caused me to take another look at the site and since then I've been slowly wading into the waters of Facebook.

A lot of people my age aren't into the internet the same way I am. They'll surf, shop online, email and do the usual but when it comes to blogging or setting up accounts such as Facebook they're much less likely to do that sort of thing. I say that to justify why I have so few friends on my Facebook account. Or could it be that I don't have a ton of friends to begin with?

Anyway, FB has a 'friend finder' which will help you locate others who may also have a FB account. From there you can begin to build your network of friends who also have an account. I turned it loose on my Gmail list and it hit on a friend from my days in the Navy; Jack McGuire, or Muckly as we affectionately referred to him. Jack was a Quartermaster in the Navy, responsible for navigation. I was a radar operator and our bunks were in the same compartment. Bunk...the place where you that just Navy speak or does the average person know what I'm referring to?

I'd been in touch with Jack a few years ago when I was trying to start a forum for the ship we were on, the USS Fresno, LST1182. The forum fizzled as did my contact with Jack. We'd exchanged a few emails but that was all. Maybe too many years had gone by.

Maybe not.

It made my day yesterday when I checked my email and found a response from Jack along with his phone number and a link to his MySpace. I didn't hesitate to pick up the phone and call him. We talked for half an hour about all sorts of stuff; our careers (he recently left the mortgage industry), family, the coming election and such. All the while during the call I was having thoughts of trying to form a mini reunion of a core group of us who were pretty tight back in the day. We've kicked this idea around before but it's never gotten off the ground. The soonest I would imagine that we'd put anything together would be this coming summer and that would be around 30 years since we all went our separate ways.

Some of the group in addition to Muckly were:

John Winton (top back in the photo to the left) was also a radarman who now lives in Los Angeles. I flew out to see John in 1997. Supertramp was playing the Greek Theatre and we took in the show together. It was too quick of a turn around for me as I had to be back at work the next day. I caught the red-eye home after the concert. I've stayed in touch with John more than I have anyone else from those days. He did a couple of enlistments before finally getting out after 10 years. He's currently working as an engineer for Fox Sports Network in Los Angeles.

Mike McGregor, aka Speedy, another radarman, lives in Las Vegas and is working as a superintendent overseeing commercial building for a General Contractor. He's a golf fanatic and if we do get together I may have to dust off my clubs so we can play a round. We've been in contact with each other off and on over the last 10 years. I would very much like to see Mike again. Funny...I have a vivid memory of being in Speedy's van going off base for lunch and hearing Blue Oyster Cult's Godzilla for the first time.

Stan Whitmarsh, aka Stauch, was a Quartermaster. He started in the Navy as a SEAL but broke his leg in training and had to join the rest of us normal guys to finish out his enlistment. I haven't had any contact with Stan for quite a while. The last I heard he was working in the mines in Upstate New York. One thing I admired about Stan was his ability to pick up on new music before anybody else did. He turned me on the Cheap Trick, In Color before any of us had heard of them. I can still hear him talking about Crabby Appleton's, Rotten to the Core. One of his favorites.

There's many others who I'd also like to see again. Jim Minton and Mike Maughan. Jim moved from Iowa back to San Diego a few years ago to take a job with the power company. Mike is now a Major in the Army. He left the Navy for college and then signed on with the Army. I don't think any of us saw that coming. Wally Corey, Mike Dugan, Paul Smurawski (Paul would make a career of the Navy), Troy (Teeroy) Montgomery, Steve Cohan, Pete Alford, Derrick Suehs and Eddie Mathis, Tony Medeiros, Pedro Garcia, Jim Twomey (aka Flash) Mike Ogonowski, and Dave Isaaks (I'd heard that Dave also became and air traffic controller) among others. I knew many of these guys better than I knew my own family.

I should probably take some time to blog about some of my memories from those days as they were very special to me. Four years out of high school and most of my friends were getting their degrees while I was leaving the Navy and feeling somewhat left behind by comparison. Looking back though there's nothing I'd do differently if I could. I never got my degree nor will I but I have memories and experiences which in my world add up to more at the end of the day.

Jack used to play a song on his guitar called The Whale Song; a song he wrote and I loved it. A couple nights before I left the Navy in early December 1979 I recorded Jack down in our living quarters as he played the song one last time for me. It's a beauty. I'll let Jack close out this blog post. Enjoy...the Whale Song


schemp said...

I live in Burnsville. Mike McGregor's a good friend of mine, still after all these years. I served with Mike aboard the uss mt vernon lsd-39 from 1979-1980. We had lots of good times and I still keep in touch with him regularly.

Kevin said...

Mike is a great guy and you won't find a better friend. We saw him last August when we flew out to LAS for a few days. It had been more than 30 years since we'd seen each other. I wrote about it here.