MAY THE SOLSTICE AND TURNING OF THE WHEEL BRING LOVE, PEACE AND GOOD FORTUNE IN THE COMING YEAR!
On a recent morning walk leaving my neighborhood, I saw this dusty MGB being loaded on a car hauler in front of a house that had been recently sold. For several years I would see the older man who lived there take it out occasionally for a drive on sunny warm days like this beautiful fall day. Once as I walked by I stopped to admire his classy sports car. Alas, it was not for sale. The soft top was down and he went on his way wearing a jaunty driving cap that made him look somehow British. It was always kept in the garage and never parked in the driveway.
I stopped seeing him drive it or even his other car several years ago. Instead I would see a car belonging to a home health worker parked out front; the garage was always closed; I wondered about the MG. Time went by, the house was put on the market. I never knew if the man was moving away or had died. That morning I walked past the almost full car hauler and looked back. The MG was halfway into the street. I walked back. There was the old car, top down and covered in dust. It must have been sitting in the garage all these years. Were the new owners selling it? Did the man die and his heirs were selling it?
I interrupted the two men who were trying to load it, and asked where they were taking it.
“Indiana,” one replied.
I asked if I could take a photo. Given permission, I pulled my phone from my pocket and took a couple of photos as I tried not to get in their way. The inside was as dusty and neglected as the outside. The inspection sticker on the windshield was dated February 2011.
As I thanked the men, one asked me what kind of car it was.
“MG, an MGB. British. The company stopped making these sports cars in 1980. I would guess this one is a 1970s-something model. My husband had one in citron when we got married. It was fun to drive.”
Turning for one last look as I continued my walk, I hoped that it would find a good home and someone would restore it and take it out again on sunny, warm days with the top down.
While researching for a writing project involving WWII draft classification codes, I discovered this bit of obscure history.
In March of 1943 a group of men departed New York on HMS Queen Elizabeth bound for London on a secret mission to do their part for WWII. They were 42 roughnecks from Oklahoma and Texas who volunteered for a one year contract to drill oil wells in Sherwood Forest for the British government.
Oil was essential for Brittan and its Allies. Production for oil was up in the United States, but Britain was falling behind and oil tankers from the United States and other countries were often sunk or blocked by German U-boats. The British government sent a representative of the oil industry to the United States seeking drilling rigs, pipes, drill bits and other related equipment that the British badly needed to replace some of their own.
In the negotiations two American companies, Nobles Drilling Corporation, headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Fain-Porter Drilling Company, headquartered in Oklahoma City, partnered with D’Arcy Exploration Company, a British oil company. The US companies would provide the crews and drilling equipment to drill 100 wells in the heart of Britain’s only oil field deep in Sherwood Forest. The wells there were shallow, equipment was inadequate and many of the men doing the drilling were inexperienced as the war had taken many away.
The project was a secret mission with the men allowed to tell only their immediate families where they were going. London was already being bombed by the Germans and the oil field needed to continue to be kept secreted beneath the cover of the ancient forest safe from German planes. Rigs and equipment would be painted a green to blend in and camouflage them. The 42 roughnecks were housed at monastery run by monks.
By the end of the contract the 106 wells had been completed and oil production was up substantially. The men returned home in March of 1944 with the satisfaction of knowing they had made a contribution to the war efforts.
One man was left behind, Herman Douthit from Texas, a derrick hand who had died when he fell from a derrick. He was buried at the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge, one of the few civilians buried there.
The sculpture in the photo above is “The Oil Patch Warrior” and stands in Ardmore, Oklahoma as a tribute to the 42 men and erected in 2001. It is a replica of the original erected in 1991 near Nottingham England as a memorial to honor the 42 roughnecks and the oil industry. American sculptor Jay O’Melia designed the original.
A book, The Secrets of Sherwood Forest: Oil Production in England During World War II, by Guy H. Woodward and Grace Steele Woodward, is an excellent history of the events.
Below is less than 2 minute video with old photos.
Several events for PRIDE Month 2021 were scheduled in the Corpus Christi area including poetry reading and a PRIDE Pet Paw-rade where owners and their pets could show their support and show off their PRIDE colors and accessories. A PRIDE parade and block party will be held in October during LGBT History Month when the weather is cooler and more have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
PRIDE Corpus Christi put out a call for artists who “personally identify, or feel they have been defined by society, as a part of the LGBTQIA+ demographic.” The goal of the exhibit was “to celebrate the achievements of and gain recognition for LGBTQIA+ artists in the Coastal Bend.” Artists selected had their art on display at the La Palmera Mall in Corpus Christi from June 1 to June 30 for PRIDE Month.
The free exhibit was tucked away in a small space on the upper level of the mall. I visited the simple installation last week and was moved by the personal expression of their feelings through art. Husband photographed several for me. Scroll for more of art by these mostly young people who have come out personally and artistically.
Recently I found two digital books that I could download to my Kindle from our local library. Both had been made into movies: Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century and Let Her Go.
Now every time I receive a package from Amazon, I wonder if some tired retiree from an rv camp had some part in it. The book, written by journalist Jessica Bruder, follows (literally at times in her own van) real-life nomad Linda May, a 64-year old grandmother, who found going on the road a last choice after she lost everything in the Great Recession. It is written in documentary style. Some of the travelers find seasonal work at rv parks, national campgrounds and Amazon warehouses. Apparently Amazon likes older workers because they are dependable, don’t demand much and are willing to work part-time in conditions that are not ideal for senior citizens: fast-paced where employees are tracked for efficiency.
The movie, directed by Chloe Zhao, is a fictionalized version of the book. The main character, played by Frances McDormand, is purely invented and she plays on the background of real characters and events from the book. There are three characters from the book who play themselves in the movie including Linda May who is the one the author mainly followed. Scenes from working at Amazon are filmed in a real Amazon warehouse; Amazon fares better in the movie than in the book in my opinion. I have not seen the movie and only read reviews about it and viewed the trailer. Here is a link to the movie trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sxCFZ8_d84
Let Him Go, written by Larry Watson and published in 2013, is a novel set in South Dakota and Montana in the 1950s. The opening chapter has the wife packing to go somewhere on a mission: husband (a retired sheriff) is given the option of going along. He opts to go even if it means walking off a job that is below his skills. Their son had died a few years before and his widow had remarried soon after, taking their young grandson with her and the new husband. The grandmother learns that all is not well with the child in his new environment with the domineering step-father. Determined not to lose contact with the child, protect him if necessary and even bring him back, the couple takes off. The husband is reluctant but goes along to support his wife. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner play the grandparents in the movie.
From reading reviews and watching the movie trailer, the movie appears to follow the book closely. I have not seen this movie either. Here is a link to the movie trailer – https://youtu.be/GfMkjdIc24I
Do you prefer to read the book first and then see the movie or see the movie and then read the book? Or do you think one version is enough? I always think the book is better. Some movies make me want to do more research if it involves history.
Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. With this document signed by delegates, settlers in Mexican Texas officially declared independence from Mexico and created the Republic of Texas. It remained a Republic until1845.
On March 2, 2021 Governor Greg Abbot declared another type of independence for Texans by lifting the state-wide mandatory mask requirement and opening all businesses to 100% capacity. It will be up to businesses whether to require masks for customers and employees; the governor urged “personal vigilance” as he pointed to the arrival of vaccines and good Texas economy as reasons for his decision. He tightened control over Covid restrictions by mandating that county judges could only implement restrictions if hospitalizations rose above 15% of the capacity for any of Texas’ 22 hospital regions.
Texans should have been dancing in the streets, right? Yes, bars and restaurants welcomed the news that they could open to full capacity. Yes, and those who did not believe in masks in the first place and considered the restrictions an assault on their freedom by the government were rejoicing. Enter the divide.
Abbot was soon criticized by those in the medical field, government leaders and even the CDC for opening the state too soon. Citizens took side on the issue. Some businesses began announcing that they would still require masks for employees and customers; others will not require them. This goes into effect Wednesday.
Personally, I am ready to get back to something like normal, but I think he should have waited until more Texans were vaccinated, COVID numbers were better and we were closer to herd immunity. Husband and I have had our second shots so we feel we have some protection, but we will not have a problem continuing to wearing a mask when required. Will it be the right decision or will cases, hospitalizations and deaths spike? Will vaccinations make a difference?
April 21 is San Jacinto Day in Texas, the day the Texan Army led by General Sam Houston defeated the Mexico Army near present-day Houston in 1836. We will see where we are by then and if Governor Abbot can claim a victory for all Texans or if he will he face defeat like General Santa Anna, the general who led the Mexican army.
We were all ready to see the past year of 2020 come to an end. An even year that was odd in many ways. A pandemic raged around the world and the President of the United States was impeached. 2021: The pandemic is still with us and the President of the United States is impeached…again. Wait! Deja vu will not overtake us! There is hope: democracy survived and vaccines are arriving.
Meanwhile, back on the coast. Odds and ends of life.
This year I will not be volunteering again for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through United Way of the Coastal Bend. I started out last year in January but COVID finally shut it down. This year it started up again in February with different arrangements, again because of COVID. Clients will be able to leave their documents of copies of documents in a sealed envelope. Then they will be called back in about a week to review the return, make any changes or corrections and sign the return for filing. I will really miss volunteering this year, but I thought it best to avoid additional exposure. Maybe next year.
Good news on the exposure side. Husband and I had been on a waiting list for a COVID vaccine through our doctor’s office as the practice is affiliated with a large hospital. Monday we were called in for our first dose of Pfizer and scheduled for our second one in three weeks; we are in Tier 2. It was an easy process. No side effects so far.
Yes, 2020 was a rough year as the pandemic affected us all in some way. For many the financial impact made it even worse compounded by the uncertainty of when it would end. Deaths continued as Americans debated the merits of in-person voting versus mail- in ballots to elect a president. Schools opened and closed.
And life went on with love, laughter and loss. Babies were born and couples married. New careers were launched. I have learned not to take anything for granted. Each day is a gift. The seasons came and went as usual while we modified holidays and activities to include masks and social distancing. Yes, we are still a divided country in many ways, but surely there is more that unites us. We will get through this.
New Orleans cancelled Mardi Gras parades this year because of the pandemic. But you cannot stop the spirit of NOLA. Residents were encouraged to transform their homes into floats. There is a book, Porches on Parade, How House Floats Saved Mardi Gras.
Laissez les bon temps rouler – Let the good times roll!
Below is a link for the book. A portion of the proceed will be donated to local artist funds. If you scroll down, you can see some of the houses.
Have a blessed Yule with the turning of wheel of time which may bring love, happiness and joy in your life.
With colder weather hitting parts of the country, including snow in some places, I thought it would be a good time to share this parody of “Let It Snow” that Husband wrote. His clever ditties and songs always make me smile. And these days I am grateful for anything that makes me smile. At the end there is a rendition of the song by Dean Martin, one of my favorites. The thermometer on our patio this morning read 50 degrees – cold for us. Enjoy whatever your weather and stay well!
Oh, the Covid outside is frightful,
But inside Briar Cottage it’s delightful,
And since we can’t go out to roam,
We’re stayin’ home, stayin’ home, stayin’ home!
In spite of what Trump might say,
Covid won’t just go away.
And even though you might use bleach to clean,
It won’t protect you like a vaccine!
So I’ll wear a mask while shoppin’,
To protect you if I’m breathing deep or coughin’,
And even though it breaks my heart,
When were together we’ll be six feet apart!