Sunday, June 21, 2009

Frank and the Paperazzi

Note on the back "I was going to work and a kid yelled at me. So I gave him the finger and he snapped it. I knew he had a camera is why I didn't look back."
Frank is easy to pick out of group shots. The skinniest with his hat cocked defiently.

This is minesweeper USS ROBIN AMS 53

In doing this blog I've found myself researching Navy minesweepers. There's a lot of on line groups. I'm learning about the differant classes of ships and how they operate. I did not realize they were wooden vessals, to avoid setting off magnetic mines. The saying "Wodden ships, Iron men" applies to the minemen. Very cool stuff, I'm proud of my father's service. He served on the USS Robin AMS 53 and USS Crossbill AMS 45. Perhaps I'll contact a few groups to make certian of my facts.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Frank's Top Ten List Of Favorite Sayings

1. Why wish for a loaf of bread, when you can wish for the store.

2. Better be nice to me, I might be your father.

3. You can get used to hanging if you hang long enough.

4. (speaking of a heavy woman) If someone told her to haul ass, she'd have to make two trips.

5. (speaking of a small woman) Big woman, small pussy, small woman, ALL pussy.

6. If I hit you, it might not knock you out. But it sure the hell will make you walk funny.

7. We'll both have to go to hospital, me to get my foot out of your ass.

I'll finish the list as I remember them.

Damn the torpedoes

Shortly after joining the Navy, Frank was hanging out in an ordinance room with a buddy bullshitting. Frank discovered one of those generator-plunger thingies that is used in the field to detonate explosives. Having a flash bulb in his pocket, he wondered if it produced enough current to light the flash. It was the old school glass kind with a steel wool looking filament. The resulting pop was so loud it caused an officer to come running into the munitions room. Loud pops and bangs get the military nervous for some reason.
The officer discovered two very surprised looking sailors sitting on a stock of torpedoes. After grilling them as to whose idea it was, Frank confessed. The officer put Frank up for munitions duty that started his career as a MINEMAN. Evidently the officer was impressed by him unwittingly figuring out on his own how to improvise a detonator. Or so the story goes...

Rebel without a lunch

This is the earliest photo I have of Frank. His eyes seem to be filled with rage and pain. Stories from his childhood spoke like a narrative for a Johny Cash song. When he was in his teens (late 1940's) he was a poor farm boy from western North Carolina. He told about how his daily lunch from home was a hard biscut soaked in gravy. It was so greasy it soaked thu the paper bag. Being tired of daily teasing by his classmates he took to hiding it under a bridge on the walk to school. Frank would scoff it down on his return walk in the afternoon.
Evidently one of the school staff noticed he wasn't eating at lunch time. He confided his situation to her, and soon she started bringing him in a small lunch daily. From her own pantry. Frank spoke often of her kind act, perhaps it was one of very few kind acts he ever experianced as a youth. I don't know her name, she's long past I am sure. I want to thank her in this post.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't tell mom....

He had a woman he loved in Saigon,
I got a picture of him in her arms now

I guess dad was what one might call a womanizer. Considering he was abanoned by his mother who was abandoned by another womanizer (my grandfather) it all kind of makes sense in a very painfull way.
When I scanned this photo I found a note on the back in his handwriting that made me chuckle: "This is a photo at my going away party. Please save for me as the wife wouldn't understand. F."

Viet Nam

Note on the back of photo: This is an Asian Honey Bear cub, weight-app 8lbs

I was born in October of '63. My father volunteered for Viet Nam in '64. I remember when my daughter was born I couldn't wait to get home to her. I don't know why Frank chose to get as far away as he could. I believe he just didn't know how to handle the responsability of being a parent. He had no frame of referance for being a father. He never had one, no one wanted to be his. I don't hate him for this.

See the world...

Here again he looks like a poster child for the US Navy. Frank was very proud of his service. I always remember him wearing his Navy denims long after retirement. The long sleaves rolled up enough to show his Hong Kong tatoos. I got my love of drawing from Frank. When he was home on leave I would sit on his lap while he would draw a ship in the back of a paper bag. There at the kitchen table he would sit drinking his Pabst Blue Ribbon, eating radishes and teaching me how to draw. Yep, he often gave me a a couple of swigs of beer durring the lesson.

The lessons usually ended with he and mom having a blow out fight over something.

A rough start

Frank was born out of wedlock durring the depression. His real father was married to another woman, so his uncle took the claim of fathering him. At the age of 5 Frank's mother abandoned him. Only once did Frank speak of standing in the middle of a country dirt road crying as his mother walked away. She left him in the custody of a local woman who took in unwanted boys to work on her farm. Frank said he could not remember a day going by that he wasn't beaten in some way or another.

Looks like a Navy recruitment poster

I guess this is my favorite photo of him. I think it was taken in the early 1950's. Frank looks content, almost happy. The US Navy was his life and family. To escape an extremely abusive home life he joined the Navy when he was about 17 years old. Frank was born in 1932 in the town of Burnsville N.C. Ironicly, one of his step-sons would join the US Air Force when he was 17 to escape an abusive home.