HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Friday, January 8, 2010


This is my Avirex B-3 flyer's jacket that I purchased a whole lot of years ago and I am happy to say that because I have diligently rubbed it down every Fall with a high quality mink oil, it is still very serviceable during the long cold winters of Wisconsin. Originally designed for the crews of both B-17 and B-24 four engine bombers that flew at altitudes of 25,000 feet and temperatures of 40 below zero, it certainly comes in handy facing unloading sound equipment in the face of biting winds in January.

For some reason, recently complete strangers will stop to compliment me on the look of the jacket. I find that one of the unexpected bonuses of owning such a jcket is that it entices old men in their late 80's to tell me how they wore the exact same jacket while serving in WWII, flying missions out of England.
I wanted to sew an authentic battle group patch on the jacket. After doing much research on the computer, I stumbled upon the patch shown, which I had sewn on the jacket.

Here's the weird and wonderful part. It is the patch of the 398th BG which now has a fully restored B-17 Flying Fortress at the Eagle Hangar in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The patch leads me to another great story. I was wearing this jacket on a trip out to New York City to visit with my sons Jon and David. I stopped at one of the many bodegas in the city to pick up some brandy. When I went up to the counter to pay for it, the young black girl behind the counter stared at the patch on my jacket and asked: "What gang is that?" I just smiled and replied: "It's a gang of old white guys that bombed the hell out of the Nazis in World War II."
She looked at me like I was from another planet.


This morning I received an e mail from my good friend Robert "One Man" Johnson who is overseas accompanying his wife Margie while she teaches. Recently they took a short vacation in Viet Nam. Hee's bob's report:

"I haven't had a barber cut my hair since 1983 in Turkey. That was a pretty bad experience. It was our second week in the country and I didn't have any language but thought I could handle it with a small Turkish/English dictionary. Well, I got the word order wrong and instead of taking a little off, he only left a little. It was military style.

So, I'm walking down the street in the beautiful little town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Margery is off shopping somewhere and I have some time to kill. I pass by this tiny little streetside place and the guy says, "Haircut! Two Dollah!" So, for some reason, I go in. I did need a haircut and Margery has been too busy lately. I have been hacking away at it in the mirror for the past few weeks and it looks pretty scrufty. So, I sit down in the single chair and begin to give directions in English to the guy. Turns out the only thing he does know in English is "Haircut! Two Dollah!"

He takes out a pair of thinning shears, which is anachronistic as my hair is already thin, but, Hey! Who wants fat hair? He snips away wildly for a minute or so with the thinning shears and then shifts to the real scissors. I am a bit nervous, but I can see in the mirror that he is doing a pretty good job, so I begin to relax. In less than three minutes, the hair cut is finished.

He sweeps off the grey hair on to the floor to mix with the dyed black hair of everyone else in the city and then grabs what looks like a medical scalpel. He slides a new blade in it and then dry shaves the back of my neck and around my ears. Still OK.

Then, he pulls my shirt back and starts to shave down my back. Hell, I don't have any hair on my back! Then he lays the chair back and starts to shave my face. No lather! He does deep inside my ears and then shaves my forehead! Inside my nose, my cheekbones, outside my nose, in between my eyebrows, my eyelids! What kind of hair could be growing on your eyelids? He dribbles some aftershave on my face and commences to lightly slapping the hell out of it. Biff! Baff! Biff! It doesn't hurt, but somehow seems undignified. Next, he puts a cold damp cloth on my whole face and begins to vigorously rub everything, including my eye sockets.

He takes the cold wash cloth off and swiftly pulls out a long thin tool with a little scoop on the end. He puts on a light, like a miner's light, on his head and, before I can say anything, he is deep inside my ear canals scraping away. I feel like I am going to throw up, but I don't dare move for fear he will do some damage! Then he takes a small brush and spins it around in my ears, I guess to clean out the debris.

That finished, he puts some drops in my eyes and again, before I can say anything, he cleans out my tearducts with a needle. I sure hope I don't get an infection...

Sweeping the cloth off my body like a toreador, he turns to the street and yells out, "Hair cut! Two dollah!"

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