Monday, March 31, 2008

yet another captured kraut

"In the early morning hours of the 10th of June, 1944, a low flying German twin engine bomber was spotted. The 40-mm gun crew on the PC-619 commenced firing and the Heinkel HE-177 was shot down. The crew picked up the only survivor, a waist-turret gunner, who had parachuted to safety before the Heinkel hit the water. The prisoner, Hermann Goldenbaum, a Luftwaffe airman, was the only survivor of a crew of six. Eventually, Airman Goldenbaum was transfered to the LST-312, taken to Calshot, England and later to prison camps in Illinois and Idaho until the wars end."
More about PC (Patrol Combatants)

George E. Berry, Jr

the sidebar
The Newsletter of the Westmoreland Bar Association / Vol. XIV, Number 5
September – October 2002
Veterans Day Salute: We Remember and Give Thanks
George E. Berry, Jr

December 8, 1941, I turned in my books and quit law school in the second quarter of my second year and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Yeoman 3rd Class. I was assigned to the Personnel Office of the Office of Naval Intelligence, in Washington D.C., from February to August of 1942, and then the U.S. Maritime Training Station, in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., from September 1942 to July 1943, where I was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade). I then spent the next two months at officer Training School, Fort Schuyler, Bronx, N.Y.

In October 1943, I reported to the Amphibious Training Bases at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, and Solomons, Md., and by December, was recommended to be an Executive Officer on an LST (Landing Ship Tanks).

A nucleus crew picked up our ship, LST 499, at Evansville, Ind., in January of 1944, and we sailed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, LA. January to march of 1944, we set out from Halifax, N.S., and crossed the Atlantic to Firth of Clyde, Scotland, in a 70-ship convoy.

During Exercise Tiger, a practice invasion at Slapton Sands on the south coast of England in April 1944, LST 499, one of 8 LSTs in a convoy escorted by one escort vessel, was attacked by German E-Boats. Three LSTs were torpedoed, and two sank, with a loss of over 800 Navy and Army personnel, and equipment.

LST 499 arrived at Utah Beach D-Day morning, June 6, 1944. We spent two days unloading , and on June 8, while on our way to a staging area to return to England, LST 499 hit an acoustic mine, and sank, with the loss of one officer and twelve enlisted men. I was awarded the Purple Heart.

June to August of 1944 was spent in survivor camps until I was assigned to and reported aboard LST 312 in Manchester, England. LST 312 had been hit by a buzz bomb in London.

I was promoted to Lieutenant in October 1944. On December 12, 1944, we left Plymouth, England, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a convoy, arriving in New York City in bitter cold weather and a blinding snowstorm on January 7, 1945. During the crossing, the convoy was attacked by a German submarine. DE escort torpedoed as it passed astern LST 312 dropping depth charges 400 miles northeast of the Azores.

In April 1945, I was assigned to LST 309 and sailed from Mobile, AL, through the Panama Canal. We spent a month in Hawaii for ship repairs, and arrived in the Philippines Islands on August 13, 1945, to October 19, 1945, I crossed the Pacific Ocean from San Pedro bay to San Fransico by Navy transport and returned to Greensburg by train. On November 30, 1945, I was released to inactive duty.

This is an article from a 2002 newsletter I found online a few years ago. There is a service photo of George E. Berry, JR in Adobe Acrobat format (PDF) at that link.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pat's second response to Park's account

This is Reply #2 to that I sent you yesterday. I'll try to remember the other questions you asked. Army medic James Joseph Parks. Did his name ring a bell with me? No. But his story certainly did. He was indeed correct as could be on our LST 312 being broached on our landing beach at Gela, Sicily. It was about as dangerous a situation as I could recall in any of the initial day landings we made in the 1943-1944 period (Sicily, Salerno, and Normandy). We were a huge "sitting duck" target for enemy 88 guns - just as the Army medic Parks related. At least one 88 gun seemed to have found our range, and was hop-scotching shells directly toward our ship, the explosions were getting louder and louder. Navy cruiser(s) to our rear obviously got the word to silence this great threat to all of us aboard the 312. I believe this jives with what medic Parks noted. I know that one of the radiomen in my communications gang radioed our dangerous situation to our amphibious flotilla commander, and those big guns from the&nb sp; cruisers did the rest.
Also, German fighter planes were having a big time scaring us while we were in such a helpless situation. One, in particular, slipped up on us and unloaded a bomb that thrust a huge wave of water upon our port deck, knocking down and drenching many of us.

David, I'll have to beg off and continue later. My wrist watch tells me so.


an email in January

I recieved the following email back in January. I responded to Mr. Creekmore's email and will post the photocopied images as I recieve them. I'm sure Pat is interested in getting his hands on these copies. -David

Dear Mr. Findlayson,
Every once in a while I generally search the LST 384 on the Internet to see what shows up; I have always been curious about it, because my father was the captain from December, 1944, (Boston Harbor) until the end of the war in the Pacific. I just came across your website with its references to 312 & 384 which is why I'm sending you this email.

My father wanted to command a ship; he had been teaching navigation in Chespeak Bay - he was offered the 384 and he grabbed it and it was a mess (that's another story).

He told me it had taken a hit from a buzz bomb in Portsmouth after Normandy; many people were killed and the ship was badly damaged - among other things, its wheel house was knocked on its side. It was towed from Britain to Boston where it was repaired.

The only picture I ever saw of the 312 is the same one that you publish on your website, but my picture is identified to be on Utah Beach (see The National Geographic, 100 Years of Adventure & Discovery, 1987, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York, page 253).

The reason I was interested in the 312 was because I have four pictures taken of the 312 & 384 in Portsmouth after they were hit by the bomb. The pictures are stern-views taken from shore or another ship. 384 is outboard on the left, 312 is beside it to starboard and LST 981 is on the starboard side of 312. While the 384's wheelhouse is a shambles, 312 does not appear to have one at all.

The pictures I have are stuck (maybe glued) in an album - if you would like, I will be glad to Xerox them for you. Let me know a mailing address, and I will send them to you.
Wynne L. Creekmore, Jr.
Danville, Kentucky

I found a USA TODAY article relating to a sailor aboard USS LST-384

Saturday, March 29, 2008


You have excited me about your actions since our phone conversation. First, I'll try to answer some of your questions. I was a Lieutenant Commander at the end of my WW2 and Korea periods of active duty. No Navy service since March, 1953. I was first commissioned an Ensign in the U. S. Naval Reserve in Oct., 1942 and assigned in rank to officer training at Princeton University (location of the Naval training facility). I believe most or all of the officers assigned there were future assignees to the Navy's amphibious force, ships (LSTs) then under construction in east and west coast Navy shipyards.

Bill McRae was the officer (my roommate), who was killed by the buzz bomb strike of our vessel in July, 1944. He was from Chipley, FL. A Massachusets officer named John L. Battles, who served with us on the LST 312 was the other officer of our ship who was killed. I will re-locate your questions and finish answering them later.

David, you did a magnificent job locating the photo and desired data on General von Schlieben in so little time.

Also, that about the Lyric Theatre in Cheraw, which is now the Theatre on the Green. A statue of Dizzy Gillespie now stands on the green near that theatre. Did you know that?
More later. - Pat

READER - Refer to January posting and pictures for more USS LST-312

Pat's response to previous post

"I did not know or remember meeting the Army Medic you mentioned (James Joeseph Parks). Our D-Day destination on June 6, 1944 was Gold Beach, carrying British forces. We were as packed as we could be with officers and troops of the British Army on that initial landing day. Shuttle runs thereafter had us going to the U. S. beaches. I believe Omaha may have been the second one where we unloaded equipment and picked up the German officers and troops to take back to England for captivity for the duration. I'll check this out." -Pat

another man who served on USS LST-312

I found the following information at a family genealogy site of man named James Joseph Parks (b.1921) who served as medic on five different ships during the war. I am posting this because one of these ships was LST-312. Pat hasn't seen this post yet and maybe these two men might have met at some point in time. Who knows. I don't know how long the 312 was grouped with the other ships but this entry might give my siblings an idea as to what Pat was up to as well. Pat, if you're reading this, please leave a comment or email me comments that I might post.
James Parks grew up in New York City, was taught to drive a car and worked with Avery Fisher (Avery Fisher Hall) in the sales of musical instruments and electronics development. For several years Jim relocated his family to Illinois to take a management position with Wurlitzer Organ Company before moving back to New Jersey to continue his career with Fisher. Jim had the opportunity to work with such Musical legends as Billy Joel, John Lennon and many others. He retired in 1986 from Panasonic Corporation while living in Anaheim, California. During his retirement he became an avid amateur astrologer while living in various areas of Arizona and Nevada. Jim served in the Army as a medic on the warship LST309 during the invasion of Sicily, Italy in World War II. During his military career, Jim served on 5 different ships, LST311, LST312, LST381, LST309 and was deployed into combat on at least 10 different invasions. After returning, Jim stayed in the electronics and music industry until his retirement in 1986.

The following is an account by james of the years spent in The US Navy written in July, 2006:
Hi Lew, Thanks for your letter. Anxious to learn how the scope performs when trying the suggestions. Now about the ships I served on. As you know I was a combat medical corpsman. A team of 250 of us were sent to the Advanced Amphibious Base in Bizerte Tunisia North Africa. We shipped out of Norfolk Va.on the Navy transport USS Tarazed with a contingent of Sea Bees. We arrived in the City of Oran and were taken by trucks to Mers El Kebir where tents were set up. The following day we boarded a British LSI The Princess Astrid. This ship had already participated in significant battles such as the Dieppe Raid in 1942. We stopped off in Algiers to take some men to the hospital and proceeded on to Bizerte. We had a huge Amphibious fleet in the area. The Germans were quite aware of our huge fleet of all types of Navy craft and although our Army had already driven the Germans from Tunisia. We were still vulnerable to bombing attacks. Our landing craft, LST, LCI, LCT, LSM's had never been used in actual landings. In addition to other assault ships Navy transports would be used to carry troops and amunition. The test for all of these ships would be the Invasion of Sicily on July 10 1943. General Patton was in command of the invasion assisted by General Bradley and Generals from the First, Third and Forty Fifth divisions. 66,000 American including Rangers. General Montgomery led the British assault with 80,000 British and Canadian troops. In anticipation of heavy casualties 3 corpsmen from our medical team were assigned to 78 LSTs for the landing. I was assigned to the LST 312 to land with the Big Red One. As we approached the designated landing sites we became broached on the beach and could not get off. We were being bombed about every 30 to 40 minutes after three days on the beach we wound have had over 100 bombing attacks. The technique used was skip bombings. Our sister ship the LST 313 was a few hundred feet off our starboard side and had a 200 pound bomb strike her midship. The skipper of the 311 made a daring decision to save lives by putting his LST to the stern of the 313 now burning rapidly. He received the Navy Cross for his action which saved some 84 men, about 27 were killed and quite a number wounded. Of course this information was from books and literature after the war. The Herman Goering Panzer division had thirty of their Tiger tanks approach the beaches of Gela, the town we landed at. Patton ordered the Navy cruisers Boise and Philadelphia to fire at them and after several 88 shells exploaded near us the cruisers did their job. We made several trips after the invasion bringing in reinforcements. I was assigned to the LST 381 for a trip to Palermo. The next big invasion was the invasion of Italy. For this and subsequent trips I was assigned to the LST 311. We almost lost this battle. The invasion sites were again divided into British and American sectors. We landed under smoke screens laid down by British destroyers. The enemy fire was intense and we hadn't taken the beach. We carried the British 56 Division with Brenn gun carriers. We had to unload as fast as possible, 88 shells were exploading all around us. We went back to Bizerte without escort, and loaded up about 40 tanks of the Seventh armored division. After four days the body count on the beaches were getting frightening. We again landed under black smoke screens. First tank off the ship was hit by an 88 shell and blew a tank man right up through the top of the tank. The lucky guy suffered only a broken arm. Several more trips and we finally took the beach. I was then assigned to the LST309 as ships company. We then formed possibly the largest convoy to bring this huge force to England. On the way we were followed by Nazi submarines depth charges were dropped and as far as the eye could see on the horizon our cruiser and destroyer escorts were patrolling the perimeters. We had been covered by PBY aircraft but when we got out of their range we were vulnerable to air and sub attacks. And they came, off the west coast of France German Dorniers huge bombers we used to refer to as the Flying Pencil, they attacked us with radio glider bombs. We managed to survive and could celebrate Christmas in merry old England. I was sent back to the USA on the HMS Acquatinia, got married to Dorothy. After serving as a first aid instructor as part of a shakedown team for LCI's I was assigned to ths LST 1053 and spent some time at the New Orleans Naval Hospital as a patient and was discharged. Total ships; USS Tarazed, HMS Princess Astrid, HMS Aquatania LST's 312, 381, 311, 309 and 1053. Pretty complete picture Lew. Hope it helps. -Jim

Friday, March 28, 2008

USS LST-312 more from the front

Uncle Pat had asked me to see what I could find on LeutnantGeneral Karl Wilhelm Dietrich von Schlieben. LeutnantGeneral Schlieben was the second in comand in Normandy, immediately under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (The Desert Fox). As you may recall, Rommel just prior to the invasion of Normandy - took a trip away from the coast to be with his wife for her birthday. LeutnantGeneral von Schlieben had been left in command during the absence of Rommel. Karl was captured June 26, 1944 at Cherbourg, France. Pat said that after the capture of von Schlieben, he was put on board the USS LST-312 (Pat's ship) for passage to South Hampton. Pat did not know where the General was taken beyond that point. He asked me if I could find anything and so I did a little Googling. I found out that von Schleiben was taken to Trent Park Camp 11 (Sorting Camp), then to Camp 24 (hospital camp), and then to Island Farm Special Camp 11. This camp seems quite the luxurious place to sit out the rest of the war. It's where many high ranking prisoners of war were held- little did they know that all the trees and park benches were wired. Many of the rooms were bugged as well. This all sounds like a great premise for a movie. von Schlieben was repatriated in October of 1947. Do read the URLs that I've high-lighted/linked, it all make for an interesting read.

I also found out that von Schlieben died June 18, 1964 in Giessen. It seems that June never panned out to be a good month for him. I had asked uncle Pat if he perchance got to speak with the von Schlieben while on board the 312 but he told me that that kind of contact was restricted. That figures.

Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson (Uncle Pat)

I got a call from out of the blue yesterday, it was my uncle Pat. We talked about just about everything we could think of. I'll share a piece of it with you, and more later. Pat said that the Lyric Theatre in Cheraw, South Carolina was built the same year that he was born, in 1920. Pat worked as an usher there when he was fourteen-fifteen years old for Mr. Bob Rodgers, Sr - during the depression. He earned a $1.50 per week and got to see all the movies free. We laughed because Pat, to know Pat, he's been a movie buff ever since. He said most of his huge earnings went to helping out the Finlayson household but he occasionally got to treat himself to a Coke and a snack.

Future jazz great
Dizzy Gillespie also had a job at the theatre during that time. As most know, in those days, blacks had to be seated in the balcony of theaters with their own entrance. Pat said that Dizzy worked upstairs at the Lyric. I believe it was back in the early eighties that Pat went to one of Gillespie's concerts and got to talk with him back stage. They got catch up and talk a little about the old days. I remember that Dizzy once passed through Gadsden, AL -played - then went over to Mayor Steve Means residence for a visit. I believe that I heard that tidbit of information over the radio and told dad about it. I mentioned to dad that perhaps he'd like to call over to the mayors house and say hello. Dad smiled and shook his head no. I really wish that he had. Pat later told dad that during his conversation with Dizzy, that Dizzy said that he wished Westbrook had called that night. Oh well, perhaps they've had that conversation in the here after.

The Lyric Theatre, later the Cheraw Theatre, the building is still standing today. It's now called Theatre On The Green, home of The Cheraw Arts Commission, a place where you can experience live shows, art galleries, dinner theatre and the like. Again, Pat and I had a great phone conversation yesterday. Jennie (my sister) and I talked during the Christmas holidays about meeting in Columbia and doing some more interviews with dad's siblings. It's something I'd really like to do. I'll promise to post more of the phone conversation soon.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter weekend

We had a very slow week at the office. Gina decided to skip work Friday and for us to head down to Birmingham for the day. It was a beautiful day for the family (Gina, Katie, Kelsey, and myself) to have a Cracker Barrel breakfast in Trussville and then head down to the Birmingham Zoo. The last time I was there, Katie was about three years old. I'm not much on zoos and such but the girls loved every minute of it.

We came home and got a little rest. I headed down to the the Coffee Vine Cafe' for Aroma Friday. Before the music began, I noticed my old pal Tommy Campbell at a table. I went down and talked with him for a little bit. I love this man, we share so much history together and yet we never get to hang out much. The band from Mercy Hill let me sit in with them and play my blues harps. We had a great time. I left dog tired. I drove down in the VW. The plug blew out again on the way home (after midnight). You wouldn't believe the racket that car made. I felt kind of bad driving through the neighborhood but what else could I do?

Saturday morning rolled around and Gina let me sleep in. She took the girls to an Easter egg hunt in Rainbow City and then to the grocery store. I rolled out of bed and drove the car over to Bill Noah's again. He tried to get the spark plug back and gave me the bad news. He said that the plug hole was reamed out and the engine had to be pulled to fix it. Bill doesn't work on engines and said he knew somebody that might be able to help me. I am dreading to know how much this is going to cost me...just to get a spark plug to work. Ain't that something?

I drove my LOUD car back home and commenced to painting the trim work that's going up in the basement. I listened to some Rush Limbaugh (best of - WAAX) while I painted outside. Again, a great day for working outside. It seemed that all the men in the neighborhood were out outside working a projects. Ahh - Spring! Gina came home with some groceries. She wanted me to grill some hamburgers. I bought her a grill for Christmas (at her request!) and this was our first chance to use it.

I had checked the drive-in movie times on the mountain while the girls were off. I was a little miffed that all the drive-ins had gone up in prices and were no longer charging per car load! I guess I'll have to start loading my children in the trunk in the future...I'M KIDDING!!!!! Besides, the only trunk I have is the VW and there's only room for my four year old. She'd be okay...we could talk to her throug the whole in the glove compartment...maybe even feed her those little cheesy gold fish through the hole as well. I don't think she'd complain too much.

Anyway, we got the girls to take a nap during the afternoon and then took them to see Horton Hears A Who and Spiderwick Cronicles. They were okay movies and the girls enjoyed them. You know me - I just like going to the drive-in. It was cold tonight, the wind started kicking in and I started to freeze. It's a good think I took my poncho that Jose' brought me back from Mexico. I know that I look silly in it (Clint Eastwood I'm not) but it sure does keep the heat in. Kelsey (4) and I cuddled through most of Horton. Though it was cold, Katie and Kelsey didn't complain a bit, they were fixed up with hot chocolate and nacho cheese. We came home and they passed out.

So midnight came and everyone was in bed but me. While unpacking the car I noticed that my front tire on the driver's side was flat. I don't know how far I'd driven with it that way. The car seemed to drive fine for me all the way back from Sand Mountain. I will give God credit for getting us home safe. I went ahead and put the spare on before coming in. I was so tired from the days activity that I was feeling dizzy out there.

It's been a nice weekend so far. We still have Sunday to go. We've got some family get togethers through out the day (Gina's side). I've got some cooking to do before I head out to Hokes Bluff. Hope you all have a nice Easter. I keep hearing Second Chapter of Act's sing He's Is Risen in my head. It's been a long time since I owned or listened to that album but I can imagine the harmonies pretty well. To be truthful...I always like Keith Green's version of it better but for some reason Second Chapter bleeds through in my mind.

Well - the tomb is empty and there's a lone figure coming walking us from the distance.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

wolves & sermons

theology of hatred
james cone's black liberation theology
heard of it yet?
if not today
maybe tomorrow
or the next
jeremiah wright was a student and a teacher of it
a true believer of it
barack obama came to Christianity
through wright's teachings
twenty years of it
some how we are urged to believe that obama sat under it for all those years
and yet wants us to believe he isn't part of it
not tainted
not affected by it
a strong possibility
a true believer of those very teachings
that black liberation theology
that obama listened to from that pulpit at Trinity all those years
all those years
from the lips of his old friend
his spiritual advisor
the pastor that presided over obama's wedding
later baptised his children
the reverend jeremiah wright
the real black david duke
to borrow a phrase
the chickens are going to be coming home to roost on you

Black Liberation Theology 101
James Cone is one of the founders, some say the founder of Black Liberation Theology. Rev. Jeremiah Wright's ministry, his beliefs about America, and about life itself are formed by his attraction to and acceptance of the writings of James Cone.

Come along children, let's read some quotes of the loving from James Cone...UNDERSTAND a little about this wonderful black liberation theology:

"The time has come for white America to be silent and listen to black people."

"All white men are responsible for white oppression." "Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man 'the devil.'"

"Any advice from whites to blacks on how to deal with white oppression is automatically under suspicion as a clever device to further enslavement."

"Black suffering is getting worse, not better. . . . White supremacy is so clever and evasive that we can hardly name it." (2004)

" Jesus Christ is black therefore not because of some cultural or psychological need of black people, but because and only because Christ really enters into our world where the poor were despised and the black are, disclosing that he is with them enduring humiliation and pain and transforming oppressed slaves into liberating servants."

"Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him."

"The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community ... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy."

"What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal."

sweet - huh
remember what it read on the nazi belt buckles
Gott Mit Uns
God For Us
they wore it everywhere they marched
Polland to Berlin
even at the ovens
slaughtering the Jews
His chosen people
Gott Mit Uns
justified hate
thinking God was smiling
and marching with them
i will tell you this
people must march for God
God doesn't march for anyone
a people must march for God
nations must march for God
God doesn't march for nations
God doesn't get on your side
God doesn't get behind your cause
you've got to get on His
and it doesn't have anything to do with sponsoring your hate
that's what stinks
beneath the sugar coating
wright's roosters on the horizon
maybe obama's too

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

two cents more

I took a van to Express Oil Change yesterday. Years ago I took the van there and was told that they now serviced transmissions. I said they could have a look at it and let them put on a new gasket in which they recommended. The transmission started giving me trouble AFTER I left. I finally took the car to Frost Transmission on 77. I was there told that who ever messed with my transmission last used the wrong size gasket. I paid to have FROST fix what Express Oil Change messed up. I pretty much made up my mind NOT to let them work on my car outside of changing the oil. Fool me once.

Yesterday I pulled in for an oil change.
1) The guy said my turn light wasn't working but I noticed the light ON while he was pulling it out. The light was LIT while he was holding it in his hand. He had to break the light in order to get it out of the socket. Does that count for having a broken turn signal?
2) For some reason he wasn't emptying all the oil out of the containers while he was pouring into the head. Maybe he was lazy and didn't want to wait until all the oil drained from the containers but I PAID $12.00 EXTRA for the better oil treatment and the oil was still pouring freely when he carefully tiled the containers up and tossed them. Why was he throwing it away instead of putting it in my engine? I realize it was because it was my money and not his. Maybe he went back later and combined all the oil so he could cap off his personal vehicle - who knows.
3) He said that my belt and tires looked good. In reality, the tires are in real bad shape and the belts need replacing soon too.
4) He said I needed new wipers. I told him that I just put the wipers on twenty minutes prior while in the Walmart parking lot. He said, "Well, you never can tell with those Anco blades, they don't lay too good on the glass." The bozo didn't know what he was talking about and had lost all credibility with me. I am sorry I took his advice earlier and went with the more expensive oil and the turn signal that I obviously didn't need.

I wasn't confrontational about anything - I just knew that I wasn't going to come back. Kind of like the time Expert Tire broke my A/C while charging my Dodge Caravan and then tried to charge me $700.00 to fix it. I drove the car over to Brice Thomas and they welded the area that Expert Tire damaged. Expert Tire called me the following Sunday and said that the part was in. I told them that Brice fixed what they broke and to send the part back. I'm just not going back and their just not going to touch my vehicles anymore. I used to buy all my tires, for all my cars there - well - not after that.

Last month my pal Jerry had an engine light come on and pulled into the same Express Oil Change location (Rainbow City, AL). The mechanic there said that it would cost him $500.00 to fix the problem. Bill Noah fixed it for under $100.00 (parts and labor). What does that tell ya?

I just don't know how some folks stay in business. I have some mechanics in town that have earned my trust and they will have it forever. When a so called mechanic performs such a dis-service, they should not be trusted AT ALL for any service. There is after all, businesses out there who will give you good and honest service. Both Express Oil and Express Tire have lost ALL credibility with me. How can you trust folks when they either recommend services not needed, don't perform the service well -in fact- break you're car while saying they are fixing it and then try to charge you for the fix? From this day forward, I am only going to take recommendations from people that I KNOW and TRUST! Let the buyer beware.
Express Oil Service (Rainbow City, AL)
Expert Tire (Downtown Gadsden, AL)
Noah's (Bill) Garage (Southside, AL)
Dean's Auto Service (Downtown Gadsden, AL)
Quality Transmission (Gadsden, AL)
Frost Transmission Inc (Rainbow City, AL)
Putman's Alignment Corp. (Alabama City, AL)
Baker Tire Company (Downtown Gadsden, AL)
There are of course other good and bad auto services in the Gadsden, Etowah County area - I'm just listing the ones in whom I have dealt with personally.

Monday, March 17, 2008

good day

I got a call from my sister Jennie this weekend. She said that I could pick up their old van parked in Alabama City at her father in-laws. It's a 1991 Mazda van. It's got some exterior blemishes but it looks pretty good. I think the fan belt needs to have a look at but all in all it's in pretty good shape. No A/C though. Nevertheless I am just glad to have another vehicle. As I mentioned earlier, we've been juggling cars for the past month and now glad that our family can be in two different places at once. Whew, It was pretty tough when Gina was having to get to the office by 5:00am! I was also glad to see a trailer hitch on the back of it. This means I can drag my lawnmower around when I need it.

The VW is ready to be picked up. It's been in the shop on and off for the past few weeks. The old red Caravan needs to be put in the shop. We've needed it too much as of late to let it go in. As of this week, we'll be able to leave it over at Bill Noah's for much needed service. Hurrah! We are hoping that some of the parts from the old deceased white 93 Grand can be moved over to the running red one. I'll be putting the old trailer hitch onto the red van, that'll be nice.

The weekend went well. The highlight was being on Bruce's worship team with Brook, Liz, LeNola & Tim (aka: Bam-Bam aka: Tailgunner Tim). He has that kick drum of his going so fast and hard that it sounded like a 50CAL. After church services the worship kinship met for a little while. It's always nice to plug in together and discuss where God seems to be leading us. I had to cut out a little early because Katie had a violin recital at the Cultural Arts Center.

Katie had a friend over this weekend. Her friend too is learning to play violin at school and both spent the weekend together at our house playing and practicing. They seemed to have a great time together. Katie doesn't have a lot of friends over - all the friends I've met of hers so far are as sweet as can be...never a bother.

My father in-law turns 83 tomorrow. We met up at Courtyard Cafe' today with family and had a birthday party/extended lunch for him - great food by the way. Meeting a few tables over from us were ladies of the Red Hat Society. I scribbled a cartoon on a place-mat that Gina saved from being tossed by the waitress. No, no one actually wore a hat as fancy as this but I'm sure they would if one happened to exist.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chet Atkins - I Still Can't Say Goodbye

I saw this when it first aired, Chet Atkins, Certified Guitarist. I can't believe it's been over 20 (1987) years. I never forgot the song, it atomatically plays in my head when I think of it. It is absolutely beautiful and will always draw a tear or two.

it's Friday

Yes, and it's been a blur of a week. I look back on it and I can't remember much of anything. Most days I do what I am told by the boss (my wife) until it's time to pick up Katie from school. Evenings I'll prep dinner, give Kelsey a bath, clean the kitchen and then put the girls to bed. The past few weeks I've been crashing as soon as I get the girls down. I have been dead tired lately. Poor Gina has been getting up at 4:00 a.m. for the past few weeks so she can see a patient in the morning. Needless to say, she's goes to bed as early as possible. The days have been like endless circles, all the same.

I finally got the Physician's Area Directory to the printer this week. That was a huge hurdle. Last Friday the printer gave me a mock-up and Gina hated the cover. The cover was my design and I thought for sure she had seen and approved it. Then again, she's so busy when I tell or show her things that I never know if I'm heard or noticed during the day. I've gotten to where I write notes and place them on her phone or on her schedule book. We can spend days in the same office and not get to talk. It's nice when we can have lunch together...that's when we get to talk.

The Physician's Area Directory by the way is a booklet we're printing up of and for physicians practicing in the Etowah County area. It's not for the general public - solely for the medical community. Not as many doctors replied to our invitation the first go around but I am sure that more will want to participate once they see the first edition and what we are trying to do for the medical community. It's been one of the most involved projects I've worked on as a graphic designer in quite some time.

I look forward to the weekend. I've got A LOT of housecleaning to do. I spend most of my time at the office and it's nice to have some off days here and there so I can stay home and clean. I haven't had any off days lately, so I will need to take advantage of this weekend. I'm not singing anywhere Friday or Saturday so I've got time to clean. Bruce has asked me to be on his worship team Sunday and that's always a treat.

I didn't go to the drive-ins much last year. This year I hope to make up for it, that is if anything is worth watching. We are having SOME warmer weather. I want to slip away as soon as we start having some warmer nights. Do you hear me Jose'?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Trailer


Jack in the Box

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."
2 Timothy 4:3

My dear old friend Arnie Sanford had a name for it - "Ear Candy"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mary Ann & Mary Jane

just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
a tale of a fateful TRIP
it started along this tiny strip
the driver brave and sure
four passengers set off that day
but three just disappeared
the trooper found his evidence
that mary ann loved mary jane
on state highway 33
on state highway 33

that's right - Dawn Wells -aka: Mary Ann
recently busted for driving with dope in her possession
as you may recall
the late Bob Denver also had a bent for the weed
makes one wonder what all went on on that Island
things are starting to make sense
after all these years
the skipper, professor, the movie star
the millionaire and his wife
and yes
must've found an interesting stash on that island of theirs
kept them from wanting to really get off
too busy getting off
so to speak

funny movies

There are not many good comedies on at the movies. There just aren't that many good comedies these days. The last few I went to - were simply not funny. Gina and I went to see Epic Movie and walked out within the first twenty minutes. Hollywood these days thinks that offensive = funny. Not so Hollywood. I remember going to see Mel Brooks and Peter Seller movies in the seventies and LMAO. Then came Saturday Night Live crew that brought us a steady flow of funny through much of the eighties...movies like Stripes, National Lampoon's Animal House, and Trading Places. I used to go to comedies all the time but now I wait till they come on television. Nothing worse than paying full ticket price for comedy and not get a laugh. Yo Hollywood - A COMEDY IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY!!!!" I've comprised a list of movies that I that I think are pretty darn funny. I've listed some old classics that come to mind...I know I left some old gems out. Feel free to comment on them or add your own.

Young Frankenstien
Monty Python's The Holy Grail
Monty Python's Meaning Of Life
Duck Soup
A Night At The Opera
A Day At The Races
It Happened One Night
Blazing Saddles
Harold & Maude
The Pink Panther
The Three Amigos
The Big Lebowski
Blues Brothers
Shrek 1
Shrek 2
Uncle Buck
Plains, Trains, and Automobiles
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Big Lebowski
Blazing Saddles
King Pin
National Lampoon's Vacation
The Jerk
The Lonely Guy
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
The Fuller Brush Man
Dr. Strangelove
Wilder Napalm
Napoleon Dynamite
Raising Arizona
A Mighty Wind

These movies are not in any kind of order, favorite or least. I must admit though that Young Frankenstien is at the top for a reason.

Friday, March 7, 2008


i'm back at the vine tonight
and i will be back tomorrow night as well
with guitar
originals and covers
saturday i will be playing with shane sanford and friends
a drummer
a pastor
a real sweet heart
drop by if you get the chance
i hope you enjoy these moments
as much as i do

an explanation

To be fair to the school, faculty/ teachers, are working with us, trying to help. Katie's math tutor (her fifth grade teacher) has been helping her understand the concepts and is even in contact with Katie's math teacher. There are things we can do and are doing. Gina has had helpful conversations with the principal and the assistant principal. Katie is now bringing home an agenda book that all concerned are making entries. We are monitoring what she is studying and trying to brush up on weak areas at home.

The text of the previous post is that of a father's heart - still dealing in ways with my own childhood experiences. Ever since Katie started grammar school, I have had to bite my tongue - hide my past so as to not taint her present. I told Katie today that there is nothing wrong with her, just like Brook told me back when I was in tenth grade and ready to drop it all. I spent a little time this afternoon building her up, expose the lie being whispered into that precious head of hers. Sixth grade has been a hard year for her. She's having to study for hours after school - if she doesn't - she'll fall behind. Sometimes she studies till bedtime. A lot of it is life - life IS hard and we have to do what has to be done in order to stay afloat. I'd like for her to have more play time but if this is what it takes to keep up - we've got to help her do so. I sure wish the world would let my kid be a kid a little longer.

I know my Katie - she is just as smart as she is sweet...she's just outside of the mold like her dad.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

familiar passage

tonight i heard my daughter
sob and say
i wish i were small again
life was wonderful
now everything is hard
one day things were easy
and now everything is scary
i heard sobs from her bedroom last night too
i overheard her confide to her mother
she said something that sounded too familiar
that echoed from the memory of my very childhood
she asked
"what is wrong with me"
i stood in the hallway
and cringed
the devil is a liar
and he uses public schools
to whisper his lies
into small ears
if a child can't fit the mold
understand the curriculum
keep up with it's pace
one gets lost
the school bus doesn't slow down for every child
the school bus doesn't always stop
i remember my little hell
being lost and categorized
somewhat hopeless
somewhere back there
when something broke inside me
how many times have i prayed
over my little ones
that they never have to go through
what i did
that little hell
that little daily hell
i laid hands on her tonight
prayed over her fears
chase away her tears
that seem to come each night these days
she goes to school to learn to read and write
and comes back beaten down
mother and i will do everything we can to help her
pray over her
study with her
get her tutored
stand up for her
but at this moment
as midnight nears
my heart breaks for her
my heart cries out to God for her
i don't want her to go
where i went
to be broken to a point
that it takes decades to be fixed
God be with my little ones

as time goes by

Gina ran across her old photo album earlier during the week. The book is filled with old photos and keepsakes from our courtship. I look at these two people and remember those days, that special young woman, that love we began to share. As much as I loved Gina back then, I love her even more now. I have no doubt that God brought our lives together, there is no other that loves me like Gina and there is no other that I could love like her. So much time has passed since we first held hands - since I first told her that I loved her and rejoiced when she said she loved me too. Over twenty years have passed since and our love has not faded, no, it has grown and deepened. I know that this love will grow and deepen even more as time goes by. This love will carry on beyond death itself. Thank you God for my beloved Gina.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

unknown trombone

Back during December I made many a post of my father's orchestra H. Westbrook Orchestra. There are photos in dad's scrapbook that he did not identify. One of dad's old horn player's John "Jack" Blount posted a message in my Skylight guestbook that I posted not long ago. He had apparently run across my posts and took the time to reminisce. I am going to pull an unlabeled photo from dad's scrapbook (from time to time) for those who might one day stumble across my humble blog and either see themselves or recognize someone...who knows.
Dad's little booking ledger lists the Ausable Chasm. I found this image of the hotel there and it might be the very place that dad ventured to and that I posted about back in December. Do you remember my telling of dad traveling up to the New York (while his band members were taking a break from touring) and fronted the resort's musicians?

There's a bit of good news. My mother came to the office last week and brought a cassette tape of the H. Westbrook Orchestra. I never recalled the music ever being transferred from the old album made years ago. Dad once told me that the recording wasn't his best because he had better ensembles. As I mentioned earlier, orchestra members were always changing and dad said that the last ensemble that he had was the best he'd ever had. I am going to try to post a sample of the music as soon as possible. I didn't hear any of it. I didn't want to stress the tape anymore than I have to. Jose' dropped by that day and took it with him. He is going to try to burn the contents onto CD. I don't know what the quality will be like and hope that the old tape will hold up for the one playing it will take to make the CD. We'll see. Below is a picture of dad (Henry Westbrook Finlayson, Sr) in mid-croon.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

dead man walking

i purchased a used Maytag dryer yesterday from Cooper A-1
nice folk
good deal
i plugged it in when i got home and commenced washing clothes
i had a ton to wash
wash wash wash
the dryer works like a charm
better than the previous
we didn't have anything clean
house full of girls
i washed and folded until two in the morning
from seven to two
i was so tired
but i had to keep washing
because i didn't know when i was going to find time later in the week
i fell asleep on the couch
gina woke me up at five fifteen
i didn't know she was going to get me up at five fifteen
no warning
the volkswagon is still broke
didn't know it until this morning
i drove it home last night
it didn't want to wake up either
we had to wake the little ones
all get down town by six in the one running vehicle
i am so tired today
so so so verrrrry tirrrrred
the bed seems so very far from this moment in time
i want to sleep
and dream of sleeping

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Outlaw

This is one of my favorites of Larry Norman.


Our Robert Brooks just got promoted to Corporal.
We now have to salute that goof.
God bless you Corporal Brooks.

Photos taken during Robert's recent tour in Iraq.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

end of the weekend

I did the StoryTellers thing at Vineyard Friday night. Debbie originally wanted me to play with Brook and Dan but things just didn't pan out. I ended up on stage alone that night. It was a very small audience and most of the faces were new to me. I had a very nice time never the less. I got to sing oodles of songs and talk about them, answer questions and cut up. It was a very pleasant night. I enjoyed the evening, the intimacy.

The family didn't leave the house Saturday. We crashed most of the weekend. Gina has been getting up earlier in the morning so she can see a patient very early in the morning this past week. My mother has been kind enough to let us borrow her car on and off during the week while our vintage VW is getting worked on. The mechanic has had the car for a week. Maybe he can get it going sometime this week.

Brook, Liz and I led worship this morning. We were the only worship team members. Brook had been sick during the previous week but God gave him grace today. Both of our persistent coughs faded by the time worship rolled around. I had it on my heart to interject a Larry Norman song during worship today...right after singing the lines from Third Day's You Are Beautiful My Sweet Sweet Song - I went into Sweet Sweet Song of Salvation.

I usually spend Sunday afternoons washing and folding clothes but not today. My dryer broke down late Saturday evening. I've got a huge pile of clothes and hope that I've got enough clothes for the next couple of days. I also think my water heater is dying. It's making terrible noises that you can hear through out the house (bangs and pops). I am afraid I'll be having to replace it soon too. It's still heating water, so far so good. I've got a lot of machines down for the count these days.

Next week I'll be singing at the Coffee Vine Cafe' again. Those weekends are always the highlight of my months. I love the people there and jam sessions. Gina and the girls look forward to going too! I'll order me a cherry Pepsi and one of Brandon's great sammiches and sing sing sing. I am going to be joined Saturday night by musicians from Mercy Hill. I can't wait to get this coming week behind me.