Archive for January, 2016

Accepting Responsibility – #259a (2000)

January 14, 2016

The X-shaped Colony Park

Gary reviewing his staff of 13,  the housekeeping department always responsive, never a problem,  Mary Speiss,  Kamla Prasad and Suarjeni Prasad always fulfilling responsibilities with an outstanding work ethic.   The custodial crew responding applicable,  not always the case in the laundry, discovering without a doubt the laundry was by far the most demanding and the worst assignment not only in his department but in the facility.  The starting wage paying the least and the performance level very demanding with two shifts,  the first starting at 5:00 a.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m., the second beginning at 3:30, ending at midnight, a turnover of personnel was inevitable.   The two-hour pause between the two shifts causing an interruption with the necessary output flow and  service.   Gary remedying this by fulfilling the two-hour laundry needs himself, sorting the barrels of residents clothes,  sheets,  towel and incontinent pads,  keeping the washers and dryers fulfilling their purpose.   On occasion members of the housekeeping staff would help during their break time,  including the Administrator Brad kikuta stopping by to fold sheets, towels and pads from the four dryers that continued  their never-ending cycles.  The only bright note in laundry Services was Louise Bruns, able to gathered unmarked residences personal apparel, placing items on hangers and delivering them to the correct dresser drawer and closets in each room.  Louise a wondrous person,  the only person able to fulfill this position without difficulty,  her memory of the residence personal clothing was beyond expectation.  Gary recognizing her as a major asset, especially when he wasn’t available for the two-hour pause, she somehow kept the laundry running  and still maintain her designated assignment.

Unimac 60lb extractor washer

Unimax 60lb.  extractor washer


Commercial Dryer capability

Gary having never experienced a utility co-generation system.  Mounted in a covered mechanical systems area at the rear of the facility was a  Chevrolet natural gas-powered 350 hp. V8  engine that operated 24 hours a day.  It was coupled to a generator that provided 110 volt AC electricity to the building grid, the heat generated  from the engine supplied heated water for the fan coil units that heated the facility rooms in the winter and alternately in the summer  supplied the heated water to four heat absorption air conditioning units that cooled the building.  The hot water absorption air conditioning system was new to Gary as was the 16 ft. high four motor cooling tower.  Completing the Physical Plant equipment was a 50 KW Onan diesel unit required to be test run 30 minute and documented once per week.  Some things remained the same,  Gary discovering  the fire-alarm,  smoke detectors and sprinkler system a mirror of his past experience

Facilities HVAC cooling tower

Nick Barton, the corporation’s computer consultant approached Gary about Dietary Supervisors Sashi Singh’s stand-alone computer being in need of a cabled online presence with the main server in the conference room.   Gary after surveying the situation realizing the difficulty in entering an extremely narrow crawl space that traversed above the kitchen, break room, business office plus having to drill thru two fire walls before entering the conference room.  After some thought deciding to be innovative, an alternative solution was plain and simple, run the cable thru the outside kitchen wall,  down the outside of the building and back thru the conference room wall able to place and seal the cable in the brick mortar joint indentation with silicon.  Gary realizing that this was unorthodox,  but the finished results of his ambition being proclaimed, it worked.

Dietary Supervisor Sashi Singh


Healthcare Management and Colony Parks goal was now focused on receiving a (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization)  JCAHO certification.   Gary being introduced to Susan,  a consultant hired by the Healthcare Management Corporation,  Susan a previous employee of the Joint Commission.   The consultant ceding Gary a six-inch binder containing the JCAHO seven directories for safety management,  each directory requiring written policies and procedural protocol.   The thick binder contained stipulated programs for safety management of  Safety, Medical Equipment,  Emergency Preparedness,  Utilities,  Security,  Fire Safety and Hazardous Material,  Gary’s responsibility being to address each individual program with written management policies and procedures.   The bulk of a six-inch tabbed binder alone made for apprehension, one could foresee it unmanageable with the addition of policy and procedural documentation.  Gary having a simple but innovating  remedy,  separating the directories into seven individual smaller binders,  addressing each management plan separately.  Spending hours everyday on the computer and many evening hours at home addressing  JCAHO requirements.

The time of reckoning finally arriving,  the elderly JCAHO surveyor meeting with all the department supervisors at the morning department head meeting,  giving notice that if all went well he should conclude his survey in three days. Environmental Services was last to meet with the JCAHO representative, Gary entering the conference room discovering that Brad was in attendance.   Gary no longer having a single six-inch bulk binder of the JCAHO seven management plans, spreading his seven individual binders on the table, each binder addressing one of the seven management plans.  The representative taken aback asking for an explanation,  Gary explaining the seven management plans would be better be addressed individually than as group, each individually would provide a more focused complaisant presentation.   The JCAHO representative seemed impressed  giving Gary an assurance that he had done well.

  The final meeting,  the JCAHO representative announcing to all the department supervisors that Colony Park had qualified for JCAHO certification.  Then something unexpected, the surveyor giving a special recognition to Gary,  asking the department supervisors to applaud him, that in his twenty years of certifying facilities,  Gary was the first to pass the seven  management plans without a deficiency.  Gary acknowledging his recognition from his professional co-workers and the cultural diversity of its makeup was an existence he had never experienced before.

Another Angel In Heaven….#260…(The 2001)

January 12, 2016

A meaningful shock resonated, a hollowness within prevailing,  discovering a heartfelt remorse never felt before.  His immediate feeling was one of tears and emptiness,  a shattering,  the acceptance that his Grandson was no more.   Gary’s thoughts weighted to the countenance of Chris and Marlo,  the effect of this tragedy on them and how it would converse their life.  The elder Willson immediately evoking plans for transportation to Oklahoma City,  Gary understanding when his wife Fran decided to forgo the solemn trip, and that his mother would accompany him.

The phone call from Oklahoma City came early in the evening of April 6th, 2001 it was from Gary’s son Scott.   Scott, the bearer of earth shattering news that his grandson Garrett having been struck by a car was in the hospital.  Scott disclosing the circumstances,  Garrett’s dog having discovered a way out from their backyard of their home on  S.W. 124th St.,  the 12-year-old boy scurrying the neighborhood,  searching for his pet.   His father,  Chris concerned about Garrett’s absence and  knowing the circumstances,  started a neighborhood search in his car.  Discovering Garrett addressing May Ave.,  a four lane thoroughfare east of the residence.

The phone call from Oklahoma City came early in the evening of April 6th, it was from Gary’s son Scott.   Scott, the bearer of earth shattering news,  his grandson Garrett Denton had been struck by a car and was in the hospital.  Scott disclosing the circumstances.  Garrett’s dog,  having discovered a way out from their backyard,  the 12-year-old boy scurrying the neighborhood,  searching for his pet.   His father Chris,  concerned about Garrett’s absence, knowing the circumstances,  started a neighborhood search in his car.  Discovering Garrett addressing May Avenue,  a four lane thoroughfare east of the residence.  Stopping,  blinking the headlights from across the road,  letting Garrett know he was present.



The boy  recognizing his Dad’s car and in haste started across May Avenue.   The 12-year-old  struck by an oncoming car,  Chris having to witness the harrowing event.  The father a Firefighter and EMT immediately going to his son’s aid.  Scott, continuing  on the phone, sounding very despondent,  telling  his Dad that Garrett’s prognosis wasn’t good.  Gary,  after receiving the call,  an optimist throughout his life,  having no idea of the severity of Garrett’s accident,  but having hope,  not wanting to accept its consequences received another call from his eldest son Scott later that night.  Garrett injuries were Pernicious ,  his grandson having passed from this Earthly Life.


A meaningful shock resonated, a hollowness within prevailing,  discovering a heartfelt remorse never felt before.  His immediate feeling was one of tears and emptiness,  a shattering,  the acceptance that his Grandson was no more.   Gary’s thoughts weighted to the countenance of Chris and Marlo,  the effect of this tragedy on them and how it would converse their life.  The elder Willson immediately evoking plans for transportation to Oklahoma City,  Gary understanding when his wife Fran decided to forgo the solemn trip, and that his mother would accompany him.


The California flight arriving at Will Rogers World Airport,  Gary’s son Scott awaiting their arrival.  Lana Norwicki, the mother of Gary’s granddaughter Sarah, offering lodging for Gary and the Great Grandmother Betty,  the two finding a welcomed hospitality at Lana’s residence.  An arrival from Kansas of Robert and Sandra,  Gary’s  two youngest fulfilling the complement of Gary’s children.



Gary and his mother making their presence at the mortuary with Marlo to view Garrett,  and later that night, the grandfather making a second journey to Garrett’s temporary resting place with Robert and Sandra. This trip more emotional than the earlier one,  secluded with Robert and Sandra,  Gary displaying something that he had held within,  openly expressing a meaningful outward expression of his emotion and the loss of his grandson.


  The departing services were scheduled at The First Southern Baptist Church on Sooner Road in Del City,  Gary having attended services at this church once before with Chris,  Marlo and his exwife Kaye during a visit to Oklahoma City.  The church,  a magnificent structure seating over a thousand,  their services with a string led orchestration  and choir and  providing internet televised services every Sunday.   Garrett’s memorial service fulfilling a good portion of  the church’s capacity,  Gary recognizing many acquaintances from years past,  especially his longtime friend Jerry Willis and his wife Shirley.



The service concluded,  a long line police escorted progression proceeding to Resthaven Cemetery on southwest 104th.   It was a typical  Oklahoma City spring day, the blustering wind gusting out of the south,  the canopy for the service,  not very stabilized,  flapping in the wind,  making many uncomfortable,  but Gary surmising that it was a reflection and tribute to the energy of his Grandson.


Seated with Marlo’s mother,  the Grandfather providing a lap for Granddaughter Allison during the wind-driven ceremony,  an inner despondency prevailing,  but the imminence of Allison gave life a meaning.   Gary having adulation for his Daughter and Chris ,  maintaining an efficacy of composure.   those present bearing witness to the family’s tragic loss,  and conscious of the abrupt change it would make in the couple’s  life.


Gary was impressed with the Stewart of Chris,   his amazing posture, considering what he bore witness to,  the accident, the rendering of aid,  inwardly not accepting the acumen,  but outwardly having to accept the outcome.   Gary comprehending  the heartfelt tragedy would remain with Chris forever,  but recognizing Chris and Marlo’s stature thru this event as a testimonial to their strength and fortitude.


The return to California was a solemn process, Gary accepting Gods orchestration for  life,  but sometimes questioning its reasoning,   especially when someone at such a young age and promising future,  is tragically released from these Earthly Bonds and summoned to be an angel in heaven.

An Indelible Inscription……….#261 The 2000’s

January 10, 2016

Mr. & Mrs. – Sandra & Jeremy Birzer

A precipitous  surprise, Dad’s Princess, Gary’s daughter Sandra disclosing that she and Jeremy Birzer would soon be joined in  matrimony.   Gary was unaware of the seriousness of Sandra and Jeremy’s relationship, the lack of communication between father in California and daughter in Kansas  was always exigent, something to be improved on.   Jeremy,  a family amicus and Sandi’s brother Robert’s best friend through his proclaiming years of junior and senior high in Anthony Kansas.   Although living in Harper,  Jeremy was deemed special, the Willson’s on many occasions stopping in Harper so he could accompanying them on ventures to Wichita.    On one occasion Gary inviting the youth to join Robert and Sandra, introducing the three to the Wichita Symphony Orchestra at the Century II Concert Hall.  Gary was uninsured of their impression  but perceptive the orchestrated classical music was a ruminative experience for the youths.  On other occasions, finding Jeremy and Robert accompanying him to Wichita  making a juncture to stop at a certain specialty skateboard shop,  the two boys able to satisfy their selective aspirations to garnish their skateboard enthusiasm.

Jeremy Birzer

Sandra and Gary

The elder Willson having acquainted Jeremy’s parents Joe and Marilyn Birzer,  finding them a very congeal couple and appreciative of his advocacy for the boy’s interest.    It wasn’t surprising the family found out after the fact,  Jeremy and Sandra abstaining from a formal announcement of the wedding,  the two affirming a small private service.  Jamie Johnson,  Sandra’s Cousin standing with her and Jeremy’s sister Corrine standing with her brother, the service conducted by the Rev. Jack Pilgrim on Sunday August 5, 2001,  the couple pronounced husband and wife.

Colony Park - a home away from home

Colony Park – a home away from home

Gary acknowledging Colony Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Gary’s was an integral part of his life 24/7,  the environmental service & maintenance supervisor having to respond when called upon at all hours.   Gary found the least burdening element of his job was the scheduling of his 13 employees work days,  the challenging aspect was finding replacements when they would call in,  especially if given less than eight hours notice to fulfill their shift.   The most difficult position on short notice was laundry, Gary not appreciative of receiving a late evening call, the person saying that they would be unable to work. He found from experience that calling someone at 10:00 p.m. and asking them to come in at 5:00 a.m. on their day off wasn’t too successful, and most  often would find him in laundry at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. Most often with the custodial and housekeeping staff arriving at 8:00 a.m. they would help until he could persuade the afternoon shift person to arrive early, but many times he had to pull the full shift.

There was never a week without a call from the nursing night shift, a sewer backup, suspicious person in the parking lot, or the fire alarm going off  which generally was caused by a malfunctioning smoke alarm.  The alarm system would trigger ADT and the fire department,  it was ADT’s responsibility to call the facility to determine if it was a real or false alarm event and to notify the fire department of the disposition.  The problem being the night shift staff would adhere to protocol closing doors neglecting the phone,  the unanswered phone preventing ADT from notifying the Fire Department and halting their response to a false alarm.  Gary’s phone would ring being listed as the contact person and never ceased to be amazed at the ADT person in Phoenix Arizona calling him at home asking if this was a real alarm event at Colony Park.  Even if everything went according to protocol Gary still had respond,  the charge nurses could never retain how to reset the alarm panel.

The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers

The Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001 was like most mornings for Gary,  a wake up shower and shave at 6:15 a.m.,  a cup of coffee and a piece of toast,  then the phone rang.   Gary’s wife Fran having spent the night at Columbia to start a dog sitting presence as his mother and sister were about to venture on a vacation later that day.  Gary’s mother on the phone,  exclaiming “they’re bombing New York City,  turn on the TV”.   Gary reassuring his mother that in all probability that was not so,  but would turn on the news.   The television projecting an unreal scene of devastation,  something unimaginable,  two planes having targeted the preeminent twin towers of the World Trade Center,  both upper stories of the two towers in flames.   Gary somewhat awe-struck making a phone call to the nursing facility,  giving notice that he would late for work and would miss the 9:00 o’clock department head meeting.

The aftermath of the Twin Towers

The aftermath of the Twin Towers

Seated before the television  watching in consternation the events unfolding before his eyes,  absorbing what had happened.   The first hijacked plane,  American Airlines flight 11 departing from Logan International in Boston to Los Angles having struck the north tower at 8:46 a.m. east coast time.   American Airlines Flight 175 from Logan International,  its destination also Los Angeles  plummeting into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m.. Another shocking announcement,  American Airlines flight 77 from Washington Dulles Airport to Los Angles having targeted and crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m..

Gary finding the televised live events unbelievable, watching the destruction of  the 110 storied monolithic buildings,  the World Trade Center,    its contents of  human life disappearing  before his eyes as the south tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m.   Then came word that a fourth plane had been hijacked,  flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco,  the plane coming down in Somerset County Pennsylvania,  the passengers apparently attempting to regain control from the hijackers.   At 10.28 a.m. the final affliction, the north tower of the World Trade Center falling to earth with the contents of the remaining  trapped inhabitants.  Viewing these live events were not without consequence,  Gary’s inward response was one solicitude,  the realization that a new era of terrorism having prevailed,  the once impervious America which he grew up in was now vulnerable to those who espoused enmity.   The events unfolding that morning coming to a conclusion,  Gary recognizing his work duties remained,  proceeded as most Americans,  to fulfilled their workplace obligations,  nevertheless the events of September 11, 2001 would remain an indelible inscription forever.

Mom and Tom Fleming

The May 11, 2002 phone call was not totally unexpected,  but the passing of someone special always has a meaningful impact,  especially when the someone is special to one’s mother.  Tom Fleming was special, a salt of the earth a man of perfection in every respect, Gary’s mother and Tom a unique couple that complimented each other, Tom having accomplished all of his life’s goals and Gary’s mother challenging him to new ones.   It was later that Tom developed a serious diabetic related illness which was a beckoning for Gary’s mother to take up residence in Manteca caring for her friend.  Gary and Fran no strangers having earlier visited Tom and mom in Manteca,  the couple and canine Sammi invited to spend the night, Tom generously taking them out to one if not the most premier supper clubs in Manteca.   With Tom’s passing a farewell service was held on May 16, Tom’s family and many friends assembling at the United Lutheran Church in Manteca.   Gary and Fran joining his Mother and sister Nancy  for Tom’s remembrance service, declining to subscribe to the 55 mile journey to Tom’s final military resting at San Joaquin National Cemetery in Gustine, Tom like Gary’s father having serviced in the Army during WWII .   Gary when seated at the service,  listened intently to the many eulogy accolades describing Thomas Fleming and when all was said he noted a most fitting descriptive word that was inadvertently overlooked, one that was right to the point in its depiction of Tom and that should have been shared,  “unselfish”.

All In A Day’s Work……….#262 (the 2000’s)

January 8, 2016
Colony Park

Colony Park

Before Gary’s employment Roto-Rooter was a frequent visitor to Colony Park,  an on-call maintenance person not always available in the past.  The facility having two length of the building 6 inch sewer lines, the west side line the only one to every back up, it started in the kitchen traveling south the length of the building to the city main line on E. Orangeburg Ave.   The last area before exiting to the street was the Alzheimer’s wing where most backups occurred.  The residents flushing wash cloths and sundry items causing a backup sometimes all the way to the kitchen before being discovered.  Gary soon found a contributing factor, the building contractors failed to install a kitchen grease trap, consequently forty years of grease had been deposited down this 6 inch line.  Armed with a  100 Ft.  3/8 inch hand cranked snake and a 75 Ft.  3/4 inch electric he managed the weekly backups.

M. Santos & Sons

An afternoon call for a backup originating in the kitchen, Gary snaking the familiar clean-out but the 3/8 inch auger coming to a halt,  the electric 3/4 inch blade too big to make the 90 degree turn into the 4 inch kitchen accessory line opening.    A call to Roto Rooter, they too unable to clear the line deciding to inspect with a camera.   The camera revealing the entire embedded pipe network beneath the kitchen concrete floor showed signs of  collapse followed by another casualty,  the camera got stuck and a growing concern, the kitchen unable to run any water and may have to shut down.  Placing a call to inform the administrator, then scouring the valley yellow pages in search of a plumbing source who would respond, the only response was to schedule a later date walk-through appraisal.  During a conversation with a non receptive spokesperson they suggested calling M. Santos & Sons an industrial plumbing contractor.  Gary finding  Tony Santos in the office, agreeing to stop-by and appraise the situation later that afternoon.  With Santos and Administrator Brad’s arrival Tony pointed out what would be involved with a cement floor, the time element, the removal of the cement, the noise of  a jack hammer, replacing the pipes.  Brad expressing the possibility for the kitchen to remain open, Tony relating the crew could work at night and  lay down a plywood covering so the kitchen could still function during the day and his crew could start in the morning.  Included with the proposal was the installation of an outside  below ground grease in the blacktop alley behind the kitchen.  Sashi Singh the dietary supervisor remained calm and collected taking the event in stride, her staff  utilizing paper plates, cups and disposable utensils for resident food service. The outside hot water outlet provided for cleaning the delivery carts was put in use to clean the cooking accouterments.  Much to Gary’s surprise the project was completed in four days  including the installation of the  grease trap,  the project costing over $23,000.

Brad Kikuta

 Administrator Brad Kikuta never hesitated in displaying his appreciation to the 120 employees of  Colony Park.   During the spring, summer and fall Gary would wheel the two barbecue grills outside and he and Brad would grill hamburgers, hot dogs or tri-tips and chicken for the facility staff.  Sashi, the dietary supervisor would provide the salad, sides, drink and condiments, the night shift able to partake of left over’s, but also receiving delivered pizzas.  Gary and Brad volunteering to grill when social services provided outdoor lunch events for residences and attending family members.  Gary having experienced the stewardship of authority in his years of employment but never witnessed the leadership quality of Brad.  His somewhat shielded concerns included the outward appearance of Colony Park, personally making trips to Home Depot to purchase flowers and roses bushes to acclaim the area beneath the windows of the residence room,   Gary proposing a large gazebos for the grass center area of the circular drive in front of the building, Brad concurring with the idea.  The Environmental Services supervisor starting a cost-effective search but unable to find a ready-made suitable gazebo putting forth a plan to build the structure himself.  With the purchase of the material he enabled his project,  Brad taking time to assist in the pouring of a concrete slab and the laying of a 24 inch wide stone  pathway  giving  access to the gazebos.  Gary wasn’t surprised when receiving a request for three more similar structures in the fenced-in resident patio area including the same stone presentations.

Sashi, Gary and Brenda

Sashi, Gary and Brenda

With the department supervisors involved in a diversified number of ongoing projects, quality assurance headed the list,  each department given an investigating assignment.  The supervisor would draw the name of a skilled nursing facility in Modesto,  visit and introduce themselves as a friend or family member of a prospective resident,  inquiring and asking about a tour of the facility.   Upon completion of the visit they file a written record of their assignment and during a reporting meeting verbally critique the physical appearance, room cleanliness, kitchen, dining areas and social activities. Other more interesting department work related sessions included a 70 mile retreat to Jackson and the Jackson Rancheria Casino, the group caravaning by car for the lunch endowed meeting.  On another occasion a retreat to Columbia and the state park, Gary inviting Sashi Singh the dietary supervisor and Brenda Miller, medical records department-head to travel with him, on their return the three stopping and being introduced to his 87-year-old mother who lived a short distance from the park.   Gary’s ongoing responsibility at Colony Park although sometimes trying was never without challenge.

A 9:00 a.m. morning department supervisors meeting having concluded,  all were to return at 11:00  for an in service presentation concerning the Alzheimer’s unit.  It wasn’t unusual to have a ‘all department’ in service, Gary having attended and logged hundreds of healthcare related contact hours from in services in the past 2o years, the group assembled, the speaker, a psychologist introduced.   Gary’s interest coming to attention, the presentation was on the environmental shell that accompanies dementia and the onset of alzheimer’s, the doctor provided insight to actions that the caregivers can take and changes to the physical environment of their area.   The example of a more home like atmosphere in the day room being given and another example being to provide a cabinet beside each residents room entrance, the occupants having a shelf for some type of family memorabilia or pictures.  Gary mentioning his interest in the project, Brad suggesting he look into the cost and feasibility,  his search for a cabinet or reasonable facsimile was nil. Everything even close was either too big or enclosed in glass which was an absolute no in the alzheimer’s wing.  Gary wasn’t without a plan B,  when all else fails, build it yourself.   The project wasn’t complex, traveling to Home Depot for the wood, Don’s Mobile Glass honing the 1/2 inch clear plastic for the front.  With maintenance assistant Ray Hernandez assisting he furnished nine  2 ft. x 3 ft. x 8inch wall mountable cabinets with a sliding plastic front cover plate.  Enclosed in the cabinet was a shelf for each of the rooms three residence.  Gary mounted the finished products with welcoming results cataloging it as ‘all in day’s work.

A Visit To Oklahoma City……..#263 (the 2000’s)

January 6, 2016

Embraer 129

Gary and Fran having made a  decision to visit  Oklahoma and Kansas, Gary having worked out an itinerary for their journey.  They would fly round trip to Oklahoma City,  the couple would rent a car,  spending time to visit friends, his son Scott, Lana and granddaughter Sarah,  then visit daughter Marlo, Chris and granddaughter Allison, and during this time, Fran could fly to Texas for a brief visit with her daughter Donna, husband Randy and grandkids in North Richland Hills, a suburb of Fort Worth. On Fran’s return, the two would travel to Wichita, visit with son Rob, daughter Sandra and husband Jeremy, and on their return to Oklahoma City, travel through Anthony and Kiowa to acquaint the many friends and church members from his twenty years of haven in these farming communities.

Jerry Willis and Gary

Bob Wallace

Gary at the Uptown Club – OKC

All was planned, so he thought,  Gary finding out his well thought out itinerary was nullified.  unbeknownst to him, Fran had interceded, taking it upon herself to communicate with both of his son’s and two daughters, about having a Oklahoma City family reunion that would include close friends, Jerry Willis and Bob Wallace, two band members from Gary’s past.  Jerry agreeing to resurrect his Fender guitar that he hadn’t touched in twenty years, Gary to be reunited with his Fender Rhodes piano that he had given Scott,  and Bob Wallace to vocalize in  a musical reunion from the past.  Gary acknowledging, sometimes life can play its own tune,  especially with the help of a loving wife.

The phone call to a Cab Company scheduled an early morning 4:30 a.m. journey to the Modesto Airport,  a distance under three miles, the couple having decided to depart from Modesto rather than drive to San Francisco for the scheduled 5:45 A.M departure. In line with less than a dozen boarding passengers, the Modesto TSA agent removing several personal healthcare items from Fran’s purse to her displeasure,  a Embraer 120 twin turboprop airliner awaiting,  the Embraer,  a Brazilian manufactured acquisition of United Express,  its new designation  SkyWest Air.  The turbo prop aircraft having a thirty passenger capacity,  but this morning having only twelve passengers boarding,  its flight time from Modesto to San Francisco, less than 55 minutes.


Gary finding the bilious echoing  of the twin turboprops reviving up a melodious sound,  unlike the innervated sound of  modern jet engines.  The reverberations felt throughout the interior of the cabin during takeoff was cogent,  the vibrations giving all aboard a hence of yesteryear,  a recollection of aeronautical experiences from the past.    Gary seated at a window was adherent as the aircraft rose,  a slow ascent,  it’s direction north for a distance, then banking west in the twilight of the morning, crossing over the familiar Altamont Pass, soon reaching the expanse throes of San Francisco Bay.  Aligning itself with the San Mateo Bridge, then banking right,  acquiring the bay viewed runway lights of San Francisco International,  the turbo prop craft setting down proclaiming another successful flight.   The Willson’s first leg of their airborne flight to Oklahoma City secured,  the journey to continue.

United Airlines 737

United Airlines 737

Boarding a United Airline 737, the craft traversing east, an uninterrupted flight to Denver,  the morning sun providing a hologram of transparency in the morning sky. A transition of aircraft in Denver,  an opportunity for lunch, discovering  the Denver Airport having acquired a McDonald’s,  a welcome provider for the couple’s limited budget agenda.  The Boeing 737 ascending east from the Denver Airport,  Gary having traveled this journey several times before, observing the terrain as they progressed eastward, noting the view as they approached Oklahoma. the mile sections contour changing,  no longer the barren landscape of accord,  but a broadcast of cultivation activity,  the farming endeavors of Oklahoma giving its pronouncement.

A remembrance – The OKC airport, the way it was.

Chris & Marlo

the approach  to Will Rogers International Airport, calling for a southern accession,  a scenic reminiscence from  years past when the main runway paralleled Portland Avenue.  The original airport facility, a contingency containing a control tower, a ticket agency,  restaurant and a boarding gate with mobile stairs for entry and exit access to the aircraft, thoughts of nostalgia being remedied with the 737’s  landing.  Departing the plane,  the couple being greeted by their son-in-law Chris,  the party of three having to follow a maze to retrieve their luggage and the parking area,  Chris explaining the airport was again being expanded with construction.   Once settled in Chris’s car  the disappointing news was exclaimed,  the couple being informed that their stay with the Denton’s would have to be postponed,  Chris relating that Marlo had contracted the flu.  Being very apologetic for such a short notice, that it would be better for the couple to find another source of residency for a couple of days.  but countered with some good news, they could use his Honda Odyssey SUV during their stay

The Holiday Inn West

Oklahoma City Key Magazine display

Gary, Jerry and Jan

Retrieving the Honda from a storage facility, the couple’s immediate concern was securing lodging,  Gary deciding to check out a familiar area on South Meridian, the Motel 6,  across from a vacant area where the Holiday Inn West  once stood.  Gary having played piano at the Holiday Inn’s Pirates Cove Club during the late 60’s and early 70’s, but a time endowed renovation having removed all aspects of the envisioned accomplishments of owner Lloyd Hobbs and construction contractor Carl Ware, both acquaintance’s from a thirty year bygone era. The Motel Six hadn’t changed in over twenty years when Gary, and a young son Robert, would spend a night after visiting Marlo and other friends.

Gary was apprehensive, knowing that Oklahoma City was designated as a play-off City for the NCAA Basketball National Finals, known as March Madness,  realizing that most Oklahoma City motel accommodations would bee full, but Lady Luck smiled,  the motel having a single vacancy. Fran’s plan of a musical reunion beginning to unravel,  a phone call discovering  that long time musician friend Bob Wallace was under duress and wasn’t feeling well,  having just returned from the Vets, his dog of many years was on his deathbed, Gary understanding  Bob’s concern, for his canine companion outweighed everything else.

A charming hostess Lana Norwicki

Scott and granddaughter Sarah

Tad and Shylee Norwicki

The couple first visit was to the Lana Norwicki residence,  Gary’s ostentatious son Scott’s staying with his long time lady companion and the illustrious mother of Granddaughter Sarah.  The couple enjoying lunch with their hostess,  finally getting better acquainted with Lana and her two children Tad and Shylee.   The use of the Honda Odyssey was a blessing, affording Gary not only the opportunity to tour Oklahoma City but acquainting  Fran with places from his past and revisiting memories.

Self explanatory

The Horseshoe Club_SW 29th & Kentucky

A bit of humor about to be injected during their journey, the couple now having two Chihuahua’s in the family, inheriting a documented Blue Chihuahua named Little Bit from Gary’s niece Mary.  Traveling on southwest 29th Street, noticing an interesting establishment appropriately named, The Chihuahua Bakery, a puzzling and unusual name for a bakery,  a picture taken for prosperity.  A drive-by visit to various  places Gary had played during his 19 years as a musician in Oklahoma City, Ross Miller’s  Horseshoe Club,  Herbie Carpenters Hi-Low Club, now call the 50’s Club  and what remained of Bob and Jerry’s Apartment Key Club on North Hudson below the remaining Sieber Hotel and Apartment Complex.

Jerry Willis


Continuing on to Gary’s friend of 35 years, Jerry Willis, still residing on Southwest 25th Street, the best man at his wedding to Kaye in 1962, and duplicating his best man role in his 1976 second marriage with Jan and now introduced to Fran.  Gary finding Jerry and wife Shirley amiable as always,  having recognized there were not many people in this world that propounded a Jerry and Shirley disposition, exemplifying the positive perspective of a meaningful life.  The visit with his friend drawing to a close, Gary deciding to venture a visit and introduce Fran to Bob Wallace, his musician cohort from the band who resided on the north-side of the City.   Arriving, Gary finding the once six-foot slender 165 pound Bob having gained an additional 50 pounds, and from their conversation and appearance concluded he wasn’t in the best of health.  Gary recognizing that his friend was still very much concerned about the condition of his dog and wasn’t up to reminiscing about the past,  deciding to make the visit short.


The following morning, Gary placing a call to Marlo, his daughter relating that her session with the Flu had subsided and now cordoned for them to stay at her SW. 99th Street residence.   During the drive the couple deciding to pause at nearby Resthaven Cemetery, the location of Gary’s Grandson Garrett’s final resting place, this being Gary’s first visit to Resthaven since the memorial service.  Unable to find Garrett’s memorial, asking the cemetery concierge for directions. The pause at the cemetery giving Fran and Gary meaningful conscience time for reflection before continuing on.   Marlo welcoming their arrival, apologetic for the inconvenience that her illness had caused,  pointing out the extensive remodeling her and Chris had just completed, and from the time frame, Gary humorously suspected that the conclusion of her flu illness, may have corresponded with the drying of the bedroom paint.

Fran’s planned desire for this Oklahoma City visit to be a musical event between Gary, Jerry and Bob, now totally disheveled,  but his wife’s plan B of a family reunion was put into effect.  Gary’s son Rob and his lady companion Dawn journeying from Wichita, as did his daughter Sandra and husband Jeremy,  both couples arriving at Lana’s and Scott’s residence Saturday morning.   The family entourage deciding on a breakfast get together, three of Gary’s four children in attendance, Marlo declining.

  The late morning gathering was short-lived, Robert having to recess back to Wichita, leaving for Afghanistan early Monday morning.  Gary’s son having fulfilled his five-year naval enlistment, but still very conscious of his country’s call, having enlisted with a tactical support civilian company utilizing his service related training.  Rob having received the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, for providing exceptional maintenance and administrator support for two patrol squadrons, while forward deployed in Bahrain, additionally, he expertly managed two sites of 50 personal computers, two local area network and global command and control systems.

Robs Navy Achievement Award

Sunday found Gary and Fran on an excursion with their Granddaughter Allison to the Cowboy Hall of Fame on northeast 63rd.   Gary having been present during the inaugural of its construction watching the magnificent structure raise to prominence.   Entering ‘The Museum of Time’,  journeying thru the halls of western history,   impressed not only with the displayed accolades of  Western Hollywood Stars portrayed by the cinema,  but more so with the hallway devoted to the travel of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804,  never realizing such an exposition of their travels could be so vividly presented and graphically displayed.

End of the Trail



Having witnessed the magnificent museum from its conception, and through past years of expansion, taking stock that it had finally matured into a marvel of historic precedent,  giving a latent chronicle of western heritage.   Gary lagging behind his wife and granddaughter could auscultate the sounds of their echoing laughter,  Fran and Ally coming upon exhibits that resulted in humorous comments,  the two finding a mutual compatibility which resonated throughout the sparsely populated corridors.  Gary finally according them both at an exit, hearing Allison say  “ Don’t tell Nana,  but you’re my favorite Grandma“,  not surprised at the comment, because together the two were in perfect concert.

   Having witnessed the magnificent museum from its conception, and through past years of expansion, taking stock that it had finally matured into a marvel of historic precedent,  giving a latent chronicle of western heritage.   Gary lagging behind his wife and granddaughter could auscultate the sounds of their echoing laughter,  Fran and Ally coming upon exhibits that resulted in humorous comments,  the two finding a mutual compatibility which resonated throughout the sparsely populated corridors.  Gary finally according them both at an exit, hearing Allison say  “ Don’t tell Nana,  but you’re my favorite Grandma“,  not surprised at the comment, because together the two were in perfect concert.

Ally, Fran and the wind

Ally at the Bass Pro Shop

And Mickey Mantle

Chris and Marlo continued to extend their hospitality, according  Gary and Fran to Brick-town,  Gary having watched the development of the antiquated buildings through the years, noting that the project had finally come to fruition.   Water diverted from the North Canadian River giving rise to a canal thru the once desolate area of town,  the  waterway canal boats giving vestige to the arising of refurbished structures.



Brick Town providing a showcase of shops and a tourist attraction,  a massive Bass Pro Shop,  the new AT and T Brick-town Ballpark adorned with the statue of Mickey Mantle, proclaiming Mantle’s Oklahoma heritage.  Gary very much impressed having lived and frequented this area of Oklahoma City forty years ago.  Recalling the past with his friend Glenn Froman,  the two walking the streets of this once unproductive part of Oklahoma City,  but now was a beneficial attribute, contributing to a city in wonderment, its antiquity having risen,  a foresight that Gary could have never envisioned.

The Winesburg family - Randy, Donna and the Grandchildren

The Winesburg family – Randy, Donna and the Grandchildren


Marlo and Kaye

Fran having made plans to spend two days with her daughter Donna, husband Randy and Grandchildren in North Richland Hills Texas before returning home, taking a morning flight from Will Rogers World Airport.   With Fran’s departure, Gary enjoying time with his daughter, being introduced to Allison’s dance studio and a congenial visit from Marlo’s mother Kaye, Gary not having seen or talked to his ex-wife in several years.

Will Rogers World Airport

With Fran’s return, a final night in Oklahoma City,  Chris providing an early morning ride to the  airport, the couple having discussed a layover in Denver. Fran having a friend, John Madden, a practicing attorney in Denver.  The two meeting in 1960‘s  when he was a member of  the renown folk group, the Serendipity Singers, the two having corresponded through the years.  The returning couple giving thought about the possibility of a layover until their arrival in Denver, finding the weather deteriorating with a forecast for snow, plus not having made any reservations for a stopover,  both weary deciding they would continue, a Denver trip postponed for another day.

Fran & Gary’s Modesto residence

With their arrival home,  Gary somewhat disappointed that neither his ore Fran’s adjusted itinerary had come to full fruition, but grateful for the meaningful time he had with his family and in the same respect accepting that the best laid plans in life aren’t always what life has planned for us.

A Visitor From New Jersey…#264.. ( 2004)

January 4, 2016

Rhoda with her favorite

Interstate #580

San Mateo Bridge spanning the bay

It was a planned visit,  Fran’s cousin Rhoda Turner securing  air travel from New Jersey to the West Coast, in part to visit with Gary and Fran but also to acquaint another cousin, Robert Remski whom she had never met, a resident of  Oakdale,  a small community a short distance from the Willson’s in Modesto.   Gary proclaiming the Buick to the 580 freeway,  traversing the windy Altamont Pass to the Bay Area, voyaging across the San Mateo Bridge,  then north on the El Camino Real arriving at the San Francisco International Airport.   The couple greeting Rho as she descended from the secured  departure upper level,  a visit to the baggage retrieving station,  the creative Rhoda having no problem identifying her garment luggage as she had tied a colored scarf on it’s handle for quick identification.  The transitioning journey to Modesto enabling Gary an opportunity to get acquainted with the lady from New Jersey.

Fran & Gary’s Modesto residence

Rhoda and Fran

Rhoda and Fran

Cousins Rhoda and Robert







An arrival in Modesto,  Gary having confirmed his new-found relative a very delightful lady,  Rhoda’s straight to the point with  conversation,  disguising a subtle hidden sense of humor.  The following day a knock at the door, cousin Robert, a person Gary judged to be his age introducing himself.   The introductory cousin having reached retirement age spending his time with travel, proposing a venture to nearby  Knights Ferry.  Gary declining,  unable to attend because of his work commitment,  Fran and Rho accepting the offer to journey eastward towards the Sierra Foothills.   Knights Ferry not a well publicized attraction was established in 1849 a historical landmark in California history on highway 108,  the original ferry fording the Stanislaus River having been replaced in 1852 by a toll bridge.   After the flood of 1863 it was replaced with the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi River, the structure across the Stanislaus River 330 ft in length.  Robert chauffeuring the group, the  threesome having a luncheon afternoon, Rhoda able to experiencing the foothills of Stanislaus County.

Toll Plaza

The Oakland – San Francisco Bay Bridge

Upper Yerba Bueno tunnel

Gary making a decision to take a day off from work when Robert offered to drive the three to San Francisco in his high mileage older Chevrolet.   Gary sitting  in the front seat, somewhat cautious of Roberts driving ability giving directions as Robert was new to California having yet to journeyed to San Francisco.  Continuing on 580 thru Oakland,  approaching the Bay Bridge, the  thirteen lanes of interchange prorate  into the five lanes of the westward upper deck to San Francisco.   The bottom deck now dedicated for  eastern travel to Oakland,  the three dollar toll having increased from the twenty-five cents of Gary’s childhood days.    Gary recalling his youthful past when the top deck was for cars and the bottom deck for the “A Train,”  an earlier version of BART the new bay area rapid transit to San Francisco and all other vehicles with more than two axles.   Vividly remembering the station stop at Yerba Buena,  better known as Treasurer Island,  sailors disembarking from the  “A train”  to acquaint the navy base established during the second world war.  Gary residual with his memories, not projecting his thoughts, Rho’s cousin Robert continuing with his conversation.

Pier 39 – Fisherman’s wharf

Rhoda at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf

A delightful never forgotten aroma

Nothing changed in 40 years

The entrance to ‘The City by the Bay’ found the foursome’s first stop at pier 39,  Fisherman’s Wharf.  Embarking on a  tour of the shops,  exploring the realm of North Beach,  a tourist haven with a diversity composed from all ethnics of the globe.   Gary having explored this dominion since his teen years,  the area a familiar friend,  never staggered with it’s display or offerings.  The fragrance of the bay,  the open air seafood pavilions, the smell of crabs steaming from the boiling pots,  their presentations being displayed, a continuous insurmountable number of visitors partaking of their delight.   Gary’s reminiscing,  the entertaining pier area hadn’t changed in forty years,  the cable cars,  the maritime museum,  it was the same,  an anamnesis of life,  the vision,  sounds and the atmosphere still flowed,  it’s presence still indwelling within him  as ghost from the past.   A walk to Pier 33 found the visitors at the Alcatraz embarkation ferry,  normally booked far in advance,  but on this day for some unexplained reason tickets were available.   Boarding the Blue and Gold Ferry,  Gary looking forward to a journey that he had attempted to make many times in the past,  having viewed this prison island perceived as  “the Rock”  from afar.   Exposed to its history and relevance,  his sense of expectancy was enthused, a lifelong ambition being fulfilled.


Rhoda, Fran and Gary about to board

Approaching The Rock

Rhoda on Broadway

Rhoda and Fran, the ruins of the Social Hall the Native Americans burned in 1964

Clint Eastwood in Escape From Alcatraz

The  escapee’s – the outcome never determined

Aboard the Blue & Gold,  the prevailing leeward wind of San Francisco Bay embracing  all who ventured on deck,  the craft approaching Alcatraz.  Gary wondering about the mindset of those future fortress residents making this trip, knowing what their incarcerating destination would enthrall.   The craft berthing on the east side of the island,  the throng of adventitious tour visitors disembarking.  The Park Guide directing the exploratory group up the quarter-mile walk to the Main Cellhouse.    Entering the capacious building, tour headsets were made available  giving a narration as they journey thru the tiers of prison cells,  down Broadway,  the name given to the central cell area.  Passing  the  barred residence of Al Capone,  Albert Stroud the Birdman of Alcatraz and the cells of Frank Morris,  John and Clarence Anglin,  made famous from the Clint Eastwood movie  “Escape from Alcatraz”, their fate still unknown.    The only documented successful escape from the facility was by John Paul Scott on December 16, 1962,  able to swim the three miles to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge,  being found by teenagers,  the exhausted inmate suffering from the hypothermia from the 46 degree water temperature was returned to captivity.  Gary finding the 2 ½ hours of touring somewhat familiar and interesting,  the three-tiered facility,  its dining room,  kitchen and outside recreational area pictured in the Eastwood movie were authentic. A major cost to the producers was $500,000 to route a cable for electricity from San Francisco,  the power plant capability on the island was discontinued upon it‘s closing.


Alcatraz as seen from the Hyde Street cable car

Alcatraz view from the Hyde Street cable car

The Transamerica Pyramid Building seen from China Town

The Trans-America Pyramid  from Chinatown



Another entrance to Golden Gate Park


Their Alcatraz adventure fulfilled,  strolling back to Pier 39 the foursome walking to the Powell Street-Hyde Street cable car line embarkation in Aquatic Park for Chinatown.  Arriving at the Chinatown’s Jackson Street stop,  Gary taking notice of the time, it was approaching late afternoon,  a decision being made to forgo a tour of Chinatown, the cable car ride would suffice.  The visitors walking up the steep incline to Mason Street,  boarding the Powell-Mason cable line back to Bay Street and Fisherman’s Wharf.   The group once again addressing their automotive endeavor, their San Francisco visit not yet concluded.  Gary providing directions down Van Ness Blvd to a route that he had made many times in his youth,  the electric bus route on McAllister Street.  By following the bus’ overhead power lines it would take them to Fulton Street, Golden Gate Park and their final destination the Pacific Ocean.

Ocean from Fulton

Rhoda acquainting the Pacific Ocean for the first time

Old Playland at the Beach

Playlands replacement

The Cliff House Restaurant

Presidio Marker

The view from Fulton Street when approaching the ocean was majestic, the  cascading crest of the waves their voice  proclaiming its sound of eminence,  the breaking onrush reclining after caressing the beach leaving its presence known on the sand.  The excursion to the ocean formatted so Fran’s cousin Rhoda,  from the east coast,  could embed her feet in the West Coast Pacific Ocean,  which she did,  the group embracing to share  her desire.   Gary having a deja vu moment,  these scenes like others of a youthful remembrance, across the Great Highway that bordered the ocean once beheld the magnificent Playland at the Beach,  the famous park with it’s Fun House,  Roller Coaster,  Merry-go-Round and exciting rides, the penny arcade with its mutoscope viewing machines,  sadly their existence being replaced with high-rise condominiums for those who could accord the luxury of premium beach front property.   Gary directing Robert back to the North Beach area, the roadway leading past the famous Cliff House Restaurant,  Seal Rock,  the Presidio,  the once famous military facility from WWII,  now a commercial enterprise.  Once again reaching the Embarcadero that lead to the Folsom Street entrance to the Bay Bridge.   Gary questioning Robert driving after watching him run three red lights, relief arriving,  the departure from San Francisco coming to a conclusion, once again across the Bay Bridge.

Gary’s mom at Columbia


Mom out of uniform at Columbia State Park

Mom out of uniform at Columbia State Park

      Rhoda visit was not without a proxy dissentient,  Fran,  Rhoda and Gary journeying to Columbia,  the home of his sister Nancy and the Matriarch of the Willson family,  Gary’s mother,  Betty.   His mother in the eighth decade of her life still an active docent at Columbia State Park  giving Rho and the family a private tour of this historic gold mining community from the 1850 era.   Columbia being featured in many of the early western movies, the most famous being High Noon,  the town having never changed,  it’s history,  a buttress of rural California life during the 1850’s.   Rhoda, a DAR member getting to experience a western view of history, Gary noting that the American revolution didn’t end in the 1700’s but continued on for another 100 years of life in this nation only with a different context.

Always Welcomed

Cousin Rhoda’s visit ending, Gary and Fran found the travel from Modesto to the San Francisco Airport mandarin,  accommodating her return to New Jersey,  her  presence and actualization exemplary of a most enjoyable person, a sadness prevailed with her departure, she would be missed.







A Celebrated Trip East…#265..( 2006)

January 2, 2016

  Frances Marion (Harriot) Willson

It was Francis Marion Harriot’s 40th high school class reunion in Hoboken New Jersey and the celebrated journey was about to begin,  The Willson’s much prompted about the venture, Gary having never been to the east coast with the exception of his flight to Orlando.  The couple arriving at an early morning hour at the Modesto Airport,  a SkyWest united airlines embraer 120 awaiting, the prop driven aircraft to transport the couple to the San Francisco for a united flight to Denver, the first leg of their easterly journey.

The new Denver Airport – from a distance resembling a desert tent city



Arriving at the new Denver International Airport,  Gary somewhat surprised at tent like architecture having addressed the old Stapleton Airport in past.  The layover enabling the couple time to eat, discovering a never before seen McDonald’s. The couple  boarding their nonstop United  seven 57 to BWI,   the Baltimore/ Washington Thurmond Marshall International Airport.  Gary enjoying the extended air time at a window seat with a view of the contouring earth from 37,000 feet.  With their arrival the couple embarking from the secure upper level.   waiting at the foot of the escalator was the patriarch of the Harriot family, Fran’s brother Ray. The eldest Harriot having taken time off from his employment with the NSA,  (National Security Agency for the United State Department of Defense).  The three exiting  the aerodrome complex,  the couple having been invited  to spend three nights with their host, driving to the Harriot’s impressive home in Laurel Maryland.   Ray and his wife Jan proffering an excursion to Washington DC in the morning, Gary enthused at the prospects.

Fran and Brother Ray

Fran and Brother Ray

The dawning of the new day, the two couples journeying to Washington DC, the Capital building and the National Mall.  Ray having spent a beneficial part of his life working in and around the Capital, having no difficulty acquiring an indoor parking area within walking distance of their objective.  . the couples starting their tour west of the capital,  a 1.9 mile walk to encompass all the reaches of the mall.  The visitors discovering many other diversified groups besides visiting sightseers, including  joggers, employees on a lunch break and organized groups playing football.



Ray acting as their provincial tour guide as they approached the Washington Monument,  the 555 foot obelisk built of granite, marble and blue stone gneiss,  the construction of the memorial starting in 1848 and the cap stone crowning finally being placed some forty years later in 1884  .   Continuing on with their journey,  coming upon the World War Two reflections pool with its cascading fountains, the couples stopping to read the inscriptions.  Onto the newest memorial addition canonizing those veterans of the Korean War, again taking a temporal length of time to view the presence of their enshrinement.   Standing in a grove of trees was another memorial,  its rotunda endowed pillars giving tribute to the 2 million Americans having spanned the ocean during the first world war.


Lincoln Memorial Building

Lincoln still presiding

Lincoln still presiding

Vietnam Wall













The far reaches of the National Mall found the prestigious tribute to whom Gary had envisioned throughout his life,  the Lincoln Memorial.   Gary singularly venturing up the steps to the monument,  the others of his coalition observing from below.  Standing in the presence of Abraham Lincoln,  his ingrained stone effigy sitting in a chair,  its presence not just a monument,  but a signature representing the stature of america,  resonating on the words this great president had spoken.   Alone within the privilege of the presidents, no one to distract his thoughts,  a rumination of history prevailing   Lincoln’s lifelong dedication to our country and to the ascendancy that stands before his memorial today.   Gary joining the others in a retention from the Memorial,  a return journey towards the Capital Building.  the north side of the National Mall encompassed a tribute to those who contributed in the Vietnam conflict.  Gary  journeying to the Vietnam veterans memorial,  a black marble structured with the names of those who had fallen in battle in Vietnam.   Fran excluding herself,  not wanting to partake of the wall having graduated from high school in 1966,  many friends having been drafted for the war in Vietnam,  her acquaintances names being engraved, Fran desiring to remember them as they were.

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum complex

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum complex

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum








A walk back to the parking garage,  a visit to the Smithsonian remaining on the agenda.   The Smithsonian composed of 19 complex’s, Gary realizing they could spend days exploring the depth of its realm,  a decision being made to choose a single complex.   The late afternoon to be spent at the Air and Space pavilion,  it’s premise displaying everything from Charles W Lindbergh’s “The Spirit of St. Louis tethered from the ceiling,  to the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, with an array of aircraft representative of the generations.  The many exhibits capturing a substantial amount of time, Gary ready to exit the touring cortège, the others all in agreement.   With the  wondrous day coming to a conclusion,  a return to Maryland was incurred.   Once returning to the Harriot’s residence, the evening hour finding a visit from Fran’s other brother Bob whom she hadn’t seen in years,  Bob hosting a lady friend named Sarah .   Gary now having the opportunity to meet both of Fran’s older brothers,  recognizing the congeniality that resided within the family.





Another dawning of a Maryland morning,  Jan preparing a commendable breakfast,  fuel for the upcoming adventurous day, the foursome journeying to Gettysburg Pennsylvania.    The highway beckoned, Gary noticing the difference between the major highways in the east and those in California,  the unkempt trash laden highways of California a visual testimonial to some of its citizenry.  With their arrival at the Gettysburg National park,  the two couples entering the Battlefield National Museum.  The nine room museum exhibiting artifacts from the Civil War,  the uniforms, armament and photo excerpts from the era,  but most impressive to Gary was the Battlefield Auditorium.   The auditorium, a large room with bleachers on one side looking down upon a large tabled epitome of the battle of Gettysburg,  the  two-opposing army’s positions highlighted with different colored lights.   As the simulated battle progressed, the lights would give action to their battlefield positions,  a representation of what transpired in 1863 Gettysburg, it being the bloodiest battleground of the Civil War and where Union Major General George Meed’s, Army of the Potomac engaged Confederate General Robert E Lee’s Army of Virginia.   The three-day battle commencing on July first 1863,  resulting in 51,113 casualties divided between the north and south, but all americans.  The dedication for the Soldiers National Cemetery and the Gettysburg Address was given by president Lincoln 4 and ½ months after the battle    .

Gettysburg Park Guide

Gettysburg Park Guide


Ray and Jan Harriot


The two couples exiting the museum joining the tourist group accompanying the park guide  up the gentle rises of the cemetery.  The guide providing commentary at the monuments,  Gary overlooking the historic Gettysburg battleground,  finding an acquiesce of solitude, realizing the chronicles of significance that had transpired on this hallowed ground, its meaning and the aura of the past still remaining.   With the afternoon sun beginning to twain, a somber accolade of american history having been fulfilled, a return to Maryland and a quiet evening spent in anticipation of the morrow.  Ray and Jan graciously offering to drive Gary and Fran to cousin Rhoda’s in Vineland new jersey, a distance of 130 miles.   the long morning drive completed, ray and Jan remaining just long enough to convey their greeting having over two  hours of apprehensive road travel for their return.  Gary impressed and ever thankful for the extended hospitality of ray and Jan.


The couple taking pleasure in their visit to Rhoda’s fashionable trailer park abode.  Gary impressed with her Willie nelson wall, a portrait of the acclaimed musician and other tributes,  Rhoda a proclaimed fan having met Willie at a concert in Jackson New Jersey and of course Gary mentioning that he meant Willie when playing in Wichita Falls Texas in the sixties.  It was  during a time Willie had a top-of the chart hit, the party’s over.    The star having performed at the Wichita Falls Auditorium,  he and several other well-known  western musicians had  cavalcaded to the club where Gary and The Untouchables were playing.  Willie, a clean-shaven suit and tie attired musician sitting in with the band.   Jerry Willis the band’s guitar player commenting later that the young Willie had the worst timing for a musician that he had ever played with, a trait that would soon become willies trademark.   Rho was a perfect hostess having prepared dinner, the two recalling remembrances from the prior years when an unexpected visitor arrived, another cousin, Rhoda’s brother Tate, making an unexpected appearance.  Fran also discovering that Rhoda’s sister Dottie was within walking distance,  another visit to someone from her past   .



The new jersey evening making an appearance, the couple aware of the hour.  Rho driving them to downtown Vineland to a Days Inn within walking distance of the bus station for their morning journey to New York city and on to Hoboken.   Later that  evening in their room, Gary  answered a knock at the door, a black man expecting another person.  A second knock at eleven o’clock and another person with a questionable look on his face.   Gary walked down to the motel office, asking the desk clerk if there was some reason people were knocking at his door,  suspicious the motel and their room might have something to do with drugs.  he requested a room change but the night clerk declined, saying he would inform the police and request drive-by’s for the rest of that night and wouldn’t be bothered again.  Gary’s returning to the room reassuring Fran, mentioning the desk clerks solution.   Fran laughing with a comment.  Welcome To New Jersey    .