May 26, 2009


I am writing the next post detailing my journey through Parris Island. It's a lot to cover so please be patient. Here are a few photos you might see.

The third head from the left is mine.

May 18, 2009

From Girlie Man To Manly Man

This photo was taken in the summer of 1977 just prior to starting my senior year in high school. In September 1977 (I had just turned 17 in August) I quit high school and joined the United States Marine Corps. You could actually do that in those days but you had to score higher on the entrance tests than a graduate. I arrived at Parris Island, S.C. on December 6, 1977 for what was the most interesting and difficult experience of my young life. The second photo was taken in February 1978 just prior to graduation from USMC boot camp at Parris Island. Needless to say the barbers had fun with me. In about a minute all the hair was on the floor to be swept up with all the others like the dregs of childhood.

I’m not sure why I took such a radical step. I was skipping school, drinking heavily (we were often in the ABC store parking lot waiting for them to open) and smoking all the marijuana I could inhale. I was very much a social outcast in high school and had very few friends. School was boring. I could do the work without much effort but had no interest in being seen as someone who actually cared about their grades. Life was beginning to spiral out of control.

I wanted a real challenge, wanted to prove myself, wanted to be a man. My decision shocked everyone and almost everyone said I could never do it. Once my mother recovered from her initial shock she was very supportive and kept her fears under control. Most everyone saw me as a very shy, introverted loner (which I was) with no real potential (there they were wrong).

The train and bus journey from Waynesboro, Virginia to Parris Island ended at about 3:00 a.m. A Drill Instructor stormed onto the bus and thus began a journey that in many ways will end only with my death. It was the beginning of my voyage of discovery, the initiation into manhood, the making of a warrior. It is a journey with many twists and turns and a very sad ending. More later.

May 14, 2009

The Blessing Of Friendship

This morning I traveled about five miles up the road to visit a friend (that's him in the photo) I haven’t seen since the first of the year. We worked together at the sheriff’s office and were two of the twenty-eight fired by the new chief law enforcement officer. I was there for a mere ten years; he was there for thirty-five years and served under three different sheriffs.

We sat and talked for several hours about old times and about what’s going on at the office now. We both realized that in many ways being fired was a tremendous blessing. He was the Chief Deputy and I was the Public Information Officer. We were both on call 24/7 and most days the job dominated our lives. Not being tethered to a pager and a cell phone all the time gave us the opportunity to catch our breath, to enjoy life at a much slower pace.

When we moved into this house three years ago he was one of the men who showed up with truck and trailer and made what could have been a hellish day almost pleasant. After we got settled he also came over several weekends and helped me renovate our guest bathroom. Part of his job as Chief Deputy was being the heavy. He meted out the discipline and could be a terror when the situation called for it. He was a very astute, pragmatic, survivor and a little rough around the edges at times. But it was his job and he did it to the best of his ability. Out in the community he had a reputation as a hard nosed, almost Machiavellian character.

He and I never locked horns. We had our disagreements and there were times when we didn’t stay in the same room together for very long, but it was always work, never personal. As I sat there talking to him I realized how much I enjoyed his company. He is a few years older but he’s also a country boy and on many levels we seem to understand each other. I also realized how wrong most people’s perception of him is/was. He was/is no saint by any means but he is a husband, father and grandfather committed to his family. He knows most everyone in the county and has helped a great many of them over the years. When I worked as a newspaper reporter prior to join the sheriff’s office I was aware of his reputation as a ball-buster (pardon the term), as an almost mythic figure with legendary fits of rage. Time and time to reflect have mellowed him. Well maybe not mellowed, but allowed the real Charlie to come out.

We were talking about photography and how I liked photographing old buildings in the county. He knew of an old church close by that I had never seen so we drove out in his truck and took some pictures. We enjoyed it so much we’ll do it again next week. And he didn’t say anything about the beard. What a friend.

May 11, 2009

A Bittersweet Birthday

Saturday was a most bittersweet day. We were celebrating my niece’s seventh birthday at a private pool in one of the local subdivisions when a horrible accident occurred. It was all family except for a classmate of the birthday girl who was there with his mom and his younger brother and sister. My sister-in-law was going to grill hotdogs so she fired up a small grill that sat on the concrete well away from the pool.

The younger brother (probably no more than a year old), of the classmate was wandering (and wondering?), around playing in the sun. Suddenly he started screaming. He found the hot grill. There were six adults present and five children all told. For just a second he slipped below everyone’s radar and went straight for the thing that would hurt him the most.

His mother took him to the local emergency room and we later learned he was carried by air ambulance to the regional burn hospital in Augusta, GA. He suffered second degree burns on both hands. Surgery was performed Sunday morning. The surgeons used artificial skin to cover the wounds and reported that the damage to his hands was not as bad as originally believed. It’s not much consolation but fortunately the boy is so young his body will do miraculous things in healing him. He will most likely never remember the event and additional surgeries will help with the scarring.

My sister-in-law is wracked by guilt believing that the accident is her fault. I’m sure the mother is feeling much the same. The mother called my sister in law and told her not to worry that it was not her fault and there are no hard feelings. It was a most noble gesture on her part to resist the temptation to place blame, to lash out in anger.

Please pray for everyone involved in this terrible situation. My sister-in-law is already facing a number of major life issues. Because of some on-going health issues she is facing the prospect of permanent disability and can no longer work. This is the last thing she needed to worry about. Her name is Carrie and her daughter (the birthday girl) is Catherine. Please raise them up in prayer as you also pray for the boy and his family.

May 8, 2009

Happy Birthday To The Artist

This photo was taken when Sophia was about 5 or 6.

Our youngest daughter Sophie celebrated her tenth birthday yesterday. She is very much an artist and took these photos on the way home from school yesterday. I will post some of her other photos at The Bosom Serpent.

Sophie is a wonderful child who enjoys playing her Nintendo DS, her Wii, dancing, reading Archie comics, her 40+ Webkinz, being goofy and taking her best friend Bunny everywhere. Sophie, is loving, tender hearted and a joy to be around. The Lord has blessed us with such a treasure.

It is very hard to believe that next year she will be a fifth grader. She is growing tall and slender with blue eyes, fair skin, freckles and increasingly thick blonde hair. Sophie is very proud to be into double digits but insists that she is still very much a kid. We agree and hope she stays that way for a very long time.

May 6, 2009

Strange Reflections

These photos of the reflection of clouds in the Satilla River were taken this afternoon. They have been cropped and the colors tweaked as I was going for the look of Earth as seen from space with the clouds perhaps as continents, sort of like Google Earth. I am always looking for ways to bridge the gap between the written and visual arts so I superimposed some text on the photos. Click on them to enlarge them and you will be able to see the text. I am very interested in what you think. Is this interesting? Does it enhance or detract from the photos?

I just realized that the bottom photo does look look a map with name places on it until it is enlarged to see what the text really says. Very interesting.

May 2, 2009

The Lonesome Drifter

This is a pretty hokey video but it is as least an accurate original recording of one of the most influential and covered songs in all of Country music. I was at the Woodbine Opry earlier this evening when the band played this song. This crowd broke out in spontaneous applause and three couples started dancing. Despite the fact that it was played in Woodbine, Georgia in a refurbished school house by an all volunteer band the power of the song reached out across the sixty years and gave me chills.

I love Hank. Hank Jr. is OK and Hank III is doing well but the shoes they have to fill are just too big. No one could channel pain and loneliness like the Lonesome Drifter and on this song you can feel the despair, the pain. Like most great art is it deceptively simple and unadorned but very powerful. This is the best Country music has to offer.

Most of what passes for country music today is simply over-produced pop music. It has no heart, no soul. Break out the Hank, the Ernest Tubb, the Jimmie Rogers, The Carter Family, the Stonewall Jackson to hear good Country music.

There are many new photos at The Bosom Serpent.