Monday, August 27, 2012

Waiting For Isaac

YouTube Video

My friend shot this at Lido Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida. As Hurricane Isaac churns its way over Florida some of the locals hit the beach to watch the storm. In this video an older couple casually walk on the beach probably enjoying life in Florida. I imagine they've seen many storms and aren't worried in the least.

YouTube Video

Standing on the beach as Hurricane Isaac approaches.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One Night In Cook Road Cemetery

I was in Liberty, Texas on business with my girlfriend showing her where I grew up. As the sun began to sink I got an itching to drive into the old Cook Rd Cemetery. I was a little taken back at how unkempt it was. The grass was knee high and covering many of the grave stones. We cruised the road that serves as the border of the cemetery. From the window I shone my flashlight into the darkness I spotted a stone with a familiar name, Waldrop.

I got out and walked amongst the graves. The stone I saw was just a place marker. Nelson Waldrop's grave was a square stone by my foot. I cleared the dirt to read the inscription. I knew Mr. Waldrop had died some time in the 1990s. He was a Navy veteran that served on an aircraft carrier in World War II. I can't remember how I met him but he lived nearby and I would ride my bike to his house and listen to his stories from the war. Sadly I do not remember any of his stories. I wish I had been smart enough back then to take notes. Through him I met two more navy veterans who shared stories with me. One story was from a Mr. Jack Adams who served on an aircraft carrier that sunk in the Pacific Ocean. He told me a the story of an errant Japanese Zero pilot mistaking the American carrier for his own and attempted to land. Needless to say the Japanese pilot never lived to regret that mistake. I also met Mr. Waldrop's brother who was a Navy pilot. He told me the time he was in the air and spotted a Japanese torpedo coming toward his ship. Using his machine guns he strafed the torpedo and earned a commendation for it. I asked him "were you nervous." In true, nonchalant manner he answered "naw I wasn't nervous. The guys on the carrier, they were nervous!" Those memories played in my head while standing over Mr. Waldrop's grave.

I glanced to my left and saw another grave marker reading Thompson. It was a husband and wife plot. Since the wife's plot had no date of death it was clear she was still alive and I recognized her name. She was my 6th grade social studies teacher. Then I vaguely remembered how her husband had died. He was a passenger in a car. I think the car hit a truck (or vice versa) carrying a load of metal pipes and one came off the truck thought the windshield impaling Mr. Thompson.

When I returned to the car my girlfriend was uneased. She said while was out exploring she saw a shadowy figure pacing back and forth behind me. This got me curious so I rattled off a barrage of questions like a detective. Was it following me? Did it seem interested in me? Could it have been a shadow of something? She said it ignored me and vanished when I turned around with my flashlight. We'll never know if it was it was just a shadow of the flowing trees fueled by my flashlight waving around. Or was it something more?

We continued our tour when my light hit another grave stone. It belonged to Jim Clemens. 20 years ago we called him Brother Jim. He was a pastor at a Baptist Church in town. I had heard he died a few years ago. I stared at his grave stone as my mind dug deep in its archives replaying what few memories I have of his old sermons.

Around that time I decided it was time to go. It was night and we had an hour drive back. I took one last look into the darkness. Somewhere out there were two other graves. One was Ed Ashton who ran a daycare with his wife. He would drive an old van and picked us all up from school. He was a kind man. The other grave out there was Wade Rankin. He was a school mate of mine. For some reason I never really knew he walked up to our junior high before it started and shot himself in the head.

As I left that cemetery I felt 100 years old.