Another Nightmare

20 May

Outside the Barracks

Tuesday, May 14, 1968, 92 Days

The wave carried us to its crest.  When I looked over the side of the ship, it must have been a mile down to the bottom.  At that moment I realized that the ship would be completely destroyed, and everyone on board was going to be killed or drowned, including me, when it dropped and took my breath away. When we  reached the bottom another wave took us up again. The ship was a 19th century sailing rig, like in Moby Dick, and I realized that I was on a whaling ship. 

The whale that we were chasing reached its mother, who was of immense size, and she caused the waves, in a fit of rage. Time seemed to stand still as we sat perched on the crest of the gigantic wave.  I had time to think about the situation, and I concluded that death was inevitable, so I completely resigned myself to it and dove off the side of the ship, into the canyon between the waves. 

On the eternal drop to the bottom I accepted that the wave would cover me and wipe out any clue of my existence. I felt a peace about this that was beyond anything that I had ever known which gave me joy beyond description. Suddenly I understood what the Christian Martyrs must have felt when they walked out into the Roman amphitheater, where they would be devoured by wild animals. Just as I was ready to hit the bottom where the crashing waves would completely consume me I woke up.  It was 0545 hrs.

I put on yesterdays fatigues, which still looked pretty good and fell out for reveille. Everyone was present and accounted for like they are every day, because most of the guys in headquarters battery are pretty level headed and have jobs as clerk typists or specialty jobs that require above average intelligence, so most guys think things through before they do them, which eliminates most stupid decisions. Most of the time AWOL’s are because of women. It doesn’t matter if they are spouses or girlfriends the end result always seems to be the same, because all those decisions are based on emotion rather than logic.

After reveille I went to breakfast and was voraciously hungry. Holster was head cook this morning, but he didn’t give me any shit. I had 2 broken yolk and fried hard eggs, along with 4 slices of French toast and bacon, orange juice and coffee. I was still going over the dream in my mind.  I didn’t say too much during breakfast, and didn’t stop thinking about it until after 0730 hrs. Some dreams stick with you longer than others, but I like to write them down. This diary gives me a better opportunity to do that. At the same time I remember childhood dreams that I had when I was 3 or 4 years old that terrified or impressed me to the point that I still remember them.

After work formation I had to paint the air conditioners at the Blockhouse this morning.  They wanted them all to be the same olive drab color that the rest of the walls were.  Since the color matched the walls, SGM Ripley told me to spot paint. The next thing I was waiting to hear was “while you’ve got a brush in your hand why don’t you repaint the blockhouse.”

I feel better today than I did yesterday.  I don’t feel as dizzy anyway. The real test will be how I feel when I work out. It’s a nice day out today and it’s warm and finally clear out for a change. I went to classes this afternoon and the subject was supply and the way that it impacts the rest of the operations. Everything from requisitioning to convoy deployment was covered by Sgt. TaLouse` and Lt. Philemon, but I was called out of them at 1600 hrs. to go cut the grass at the barracks.

After chow I took a bus to the gym and the lock was still on my locker, so I opened it and hung up another set of fatigues as I changed into my workout clothes. I still didn’t feel 100%, but then I was just going to be doing a light workout to concentrate on form. Larger wanted to come with me, but he couldn’t because he had to attend some kind of training for his MOS. I only did a few sets of 10 reps on the bench presses with 225 lbs. and then 10 reps on squats with 315 lbs. and the same with deadlift’s for 335 lbs..

The veterans came in while I was finishing up my deadlifts. They asked me how I was feeling and if I had a concussion. I told them that the doctor said no, but that I kept feeling dizzy and had a voracious appetite, along with a craving for sweet things.

I took a shower at the gym and waited for the guys to finish their workouts and then we went to the NCO club for drinks that they owed me. I ordered a Zombie. They had a four piece rock band playing. They were okay, but were mostly doing covers of Buddy Holly and early Beatles songs, like I Want To Hold Your Hand. Herman said that he was going to get out instead of re-upping this time.

“The shit’s starting to hit the fan in Viet Nam.” He said. “Since the Democrats have gotten us into this quagmire, the Republicans will win the presidency, and escalate the war until we either win or incinerate all the Gooks, along with our own men.”

“Don’t you think that Kennedy will win?”  I asked.  “The country is still nostalgic about his brother.”

“He doesn’t even have the party nomination yet.”  Herman said, “and then he’s got to beat the Republican candidate, whoever that may be. The main issue will be the war, and the Democrats have fucked it up.”

“I’d like to see George Wallace become President.” Krell said.

“A racist like him will never get it.”  Herman said.  “The only people that’ll vote for him are other racist’s. We might as well elect the ‘Grand Wizard” of the KKK.  The Army used to be a good career choice, until they started building up the army so fast that they promote idiots, because they have to fill the slots. I didn’t make E-4 until my third year but now new recruits make E-4 before they have 6 months in.”

Kincade added, “one thing to remember is that Wallace is not a racist, he’s a segregationist and there is a difference between the two. A racist is someone who hates someone who isn’t of the same race as them. A segregationist is someone who believes that the races shouldn’t mix but be separate but equal.”

Herman argued that music was the first thing that proved that argument wrong, especially with collaborations from the 30’s and 40’s between people like Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby or Jack Teagarden. Then all you had to do was look at rock and roll with examples like the Butterfield Blues Band, Electric Flag and even the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Then there is the most obvious example, right here in the United States army, so I don’t think that Wallace will get elected. After another Zombie they drove me to the barracks, at around 2045 hrs.

When I got back to the barracks Meadows asked me if I wanted to go to McDonalds with him to get something to eat, since he borrowed Van Buerans car. We talked about the Gospels that I’d been reading on and off for the past couple of months, in between novels.  I told him that I was almost done with Mark, but it seemed almost identical to Matthew.

“That’s because Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels.”  He said.  “They were all written using the same source material, so they are similar in content.  Wait until you get to the gospel of John. That’s completely different. We talked about how different the Old and New Testaments were. I feel that the God of the Old Testament is a vindictive bastard, while the God of the New Testament is a more loving deity.

We got back to the base around 2200 hrs., and I got ready to turn in. Ever since I bashed my head the other day, I’m always tired and hungry, and have lost interest in things that were important to me. I have to push myself harder than before to do anything. I lay on my bunk, in the dark, smoking my last Chesterfield, while I thought about all of this, until I fell asleep.

Mt St Helens Erupted 42 Years Ago

18 May

Mt St Helens on the North Side

It was 42 years since Mt St Helens erupted on Sunday morning, May 18, 1980. I had just moved to the central Oregon coast a 100 miles South but felt the concussion and heard the explosion. I assumed that they were dynamiting tree stumps since we lived in a logging community with 3 lumber mills. Over the decades I’ve visited the site many times as I took friends and relatives who visited us as well as climbing it in 1990.

Mt St Helens lava dome 1990

We climbed the south side to the top and you could see the lava dome as well as Mt Rainier, Mt Adams and Mt Hood from the top which rose above the cloud covering as we ascended. Another time in the mid 1980’s we drove to Spirit Lake from the east and passed through the destroyed area where hundreds of thousands of fallen trees looked like toothpicks as new growth began to emerge.

Fallen trees in the midst of new growth
My blog entry from May 2013

The Spiritual Lizard

17 May

Army Rank

Monday, May 13, 1968, 93 days

“God please forgive me,” I was crying on my knees and blubbering, “I repent of ever rejecting you and not believing that you are in complete control of everything.”  I understood God and how to serve the deity as I never had before and it was obvious that others had also. The streets were filled with pilgrims marching in lock step while they sang “God is Great.” My heart ached to join them but something held me back, as I saw a dark mist descend on the mass of people. Soon they were at each other’s throats and soon the only living thing was a lizard like being that was drenched in blood. I looked with horror as I realized that I needed to get away from there as fast as I could, but my feet were so heavy that I couldn’t lift them up to move. I cried out to God and closed my eyes as I waited to be torn apart by the lizard king when Gary William’s who was the CQ awakened me.

It was 0545 hrs., and I crawled out of bed and broke starch in a new set of fatigues to start the week off. I was moving in slow motion and lit a Chesterfield King to smoke while I got dressed.  I feel dizzy and barely made it out for reveille. Instead of going to breakfast I laid back down on my bunk and slept until Gary Williams woke me up for detail. My squad has the latrine this week, so I ended up mopping the floor with bleach water.

I’m starting to grow a mustache, but don’t know how long I’ll keep it. It’s another ugly day out, but at least it’s warm. There’s a thick fog making it impossible to see out, and it will probably rain. After work formation Don Williams and I picked up a dozen doughnuts this morning at the post bakery and brought them back to the barracks.  I ate 3 and he ate 2, then we left the rest in the orderly room. Top and Larry Balfor scarfed them up. Some idiot poured a coke in the mailbox over the weekend, so a few of the letters are soaked. I laid them out to dry, before I sent them out.

I feel pretty good now, and hope that I can still lift in the post power tlifting meet on Friday. I plan to go and try to work out tomorrow. I did my abdominal work today in the barracks, and was dizzy as hell when I finished.

We’re back to bowling on Monday night this week. I shot a 563 series, and we took 3 games. Colonel Majors, Lt. Colgate, Lt. Patrick and I made up the team tonight. Colonel Majors doesn’t seem like a bad guy, but I still feel uncomfortable around a full bird Colonel.

Lt. Patrick gave me a ride back to the barracks afterwards and I found out that Colonel Majors graduated from West Point when the Korean war began and went there as a 2Lt. and returned as a Captain. After the war he got married and has 3 kids who are just entering their teens. When the Vietnam war began he was a Lt. Colonel and spent a tour there to help him make full bird colonel. He wants to make general before he hits the 20 year mark and is willing to spend another tour in Vietnam to do it. Heavy brass are always behind the lines or in fortified compounds, so the chances of anything happening to them are a lot less than the average soldier.

When I got back I watched “The Avengers” on TV, and shot a few games of pool. The weather has cleared up and it’s even warmer out now. The barracks is really dead and I was getting ready to just go to bed, when Smart and Stryder came in doing their their street theater routine again. I had a splitting headache by this time, and was feeling dizzy, so I put wads of toilet paper in my ears and went to bed at 2145 hrs.. I fell asleep with the lights still on while they were doing their farmer catching his son fucking the sheep and throwing him in the well routine again.

The Month of Mary

16 May

Sunday, May 12, 1968, 94 days

PFC Toby Grines

I was in a house or building with Jim Black, Albert Raviolli, Larger, Farrer, Rublay, TaLouse` and Van Bueran. I pushed a button that I was encouraged to push and we started to ascend, as in an elevator or amusement park ride. The entire floor moved upwards, then the room changed, and people or some sort of being’s appeared. They began to move fast towards us, but then as soon as they came in contact with us, and we tried to get away from them, they disappeared. This soon became fun. Before this occurred, the entire scene seemed very ominous, foreboding and dangerous. Afterwards what seemed to be life threatening was in reality an amusement or entertainment. I suddenly realized that I was supposed to carry their message of joy and peace to all of humanity. This awareness brought so much joy in my heart that I began to cry when I felt something shaking me.  It was Rublay.

“Are you going to sleep all day?”  He asked.

I opened my eyes and looked at my watch, it was 1215 hrs. so I got out of bed, got dressed and went to chow. Then I went to Mass at1300 hrs. with Rublay. The sermon was about Mary being an advocate to convince Jesus to answer our prayers as a last resort. Sometimes Jesus can be moved by his mother the priest said and he sited a passage in the Bible where Jesus was on the cross as his authority to do so. May is dedicated to Mary and the smell of flowers and 2nd graders making their first holy communion is my memory.

Afterwards, Rublay said that he had to work on a college submission, so Van Buran, Larger, Farrer, Coatmire and I went bowling at around 1500 hrs. We shot 3 games each, and sucked down a few can of Coors. Afterwards we smoked a few joints on the way to McDonalds to get something to eat. I ate 5 hamburgers, 2 orders of fries, a coke and a chocolate shake.

We sat in the car afterwards and listened to the 8 track, while we smoked a couple more joints. We listened to a tape of one of Donavan’s albums. One of the tracks called “Remember the Alamo” almost made me cry. I remember the story from having seen it in movies. The way that Donavan sang it, gave me a new perspective. 

It’s like we have to fight with people and kick their butts before we can be friends.” I thought to myself. Is this the way that life is?  If that’s the case, then life would be war, and the only way to survive it would be to constantly be in fights with those around you to establish who was stronger. Then the weaker would submit and the stronger would rule.

In an age where brute force was dominant that may be true.” I thought to myself, but in an age where the use of your brain is the most important factor, the roles would shift. The survival of the fittest wouldn’t be who could kick who’s ass, but who was able to out think his opponent. Maybe it always was that way, but now it was more so. We got back to the barracks at around 1900 hrs. and I watched TV for a while but nothing good was on. Everything bores me and it seem like it’s been raining out and cool forever.

Around 2100 hrs., Rublay, Van Bueran, Morales and I went to Shakey’s. I didn’t get a pizza, since I was still full from McDonalds, but I had a couple slices of Rublay’s. I don’t seem to want beer any more. All I want to drink are sweet soft drinks. That rap on the head really fucked me up. We headed back to the base at around 2230 hrs. and I got to bed by 2300 hrs.

The Spot

15 May

Rublay and his car

Saturday, May 11, 1968, 95 Days

I can’t say when I got up since they kept waking me up all night long.  They brought me liquids for breakfast and I didn’t touch them. At 0900 hrs. the orderly told me to get ready to leave. I could barely stand, since I was dizzy, and felt weak. The bitch nurse made me strip the bed, get clean linen and remake it. It was one of the hardest things that I’ve done since I’ve been in the Army. Maybe they figure that if they can force me to make up my bed, then I must be okay. If I can help it I’ll never go to the hospital again especially an army Hospital.

Lydon picked me up and brought me a set of fatigues since I went to the hospital in my lifting suit. I feel like shit and struggled to get dressed. When we got back to the barracks I took a shower and laid down, but couldn’t sleep. Finally I got up, ate lunch and went to the PX with Rublay to get a pack of cigarettes. I still have my uniform and the things that I bought at the main PX in a locker at the gym. Since I have a lock on it they can’t open it. It’s a cloudy, dreary and cool day and shakey Howell is on CQ today.

After chow I laid on my bunk for a couple of hours, but couldn’t fall asleep. We got another new guy in today. He’s a draftee, straight out of AIT with a PFC rating and his name is Tim Larger. When he found out about my accident lifting weights he said that he would like to come work out with me sometime if I didn’t mind. I told him that I was looking for a regular training partner, since I lost Rydell when he got shipped to Viet Nam, last September.

Around 1700 hrs. as the mess hall opened for chow, I found out that they had liver for dinner. I hate liver, because to me it tastes like what shit smells like. Since I’m not the only one who hates liver, I convinced Rublay to head out to Glenn’s Tennessee barbeque for steaks. I invited Larger to join us and I was so hungry that I ordered a hamburger after I finished my steak and baked potatoe.  Then we went to the Ritz to see “You Only Live Twice”.  It’s the third time that I’ve seen it, but I love James Bond and read all of Ian Fleming’s spy novels.

Afterwards we went to the Spot to have a few beers. Tommy was working the bar and said that he heard about my accident. I asked him how he found out, and I guess that Kincade got to the gym right after the ambulance took me to the hospital, and found out from the towel attendant. Larger was impressed with the Spot and said that he didn’t expect a place like this in a cowboy and Indian State like Oklahoma. I told him that it was just a repercussion from last year’s “Summer of Love”, 1500 miles North West. 

Larger was from Portland, Oregon, and his idea of fun was going out and hugging some trees. He was trained as a Pershing missile specialist, so he knew everything that there was to know about how to drive the launch vehicle, set it up to fire and actually fire the missile. I told him that I met a guy in O’hare airport in Chicago one time when I was waiting for a plane that was going back to his base after leave. He was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco. He was trained to launch nuclear missiles here at Ft. Sill, and his work shift consisted of sitting in a silo for 8 hours watching a radar screen and waiting for a phone call that he hoped would never come, telling him to launch his missiles.

On the weekend’s he said that he would visit the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco and attend the Filmore and Avalon Ballrooms. He said that he would also drop acid and bring it back to the Presidio, where he would sell it to his fellow soldiers.  Sometimes he would drop acid just before his shift and peak all through it. Since he was usually in the silo with a couple of other guys from his unit, they would baby sit each other while they tripped. If the OD came in, they would take the tripping party to the latrine and lock him in it, until he left.

Ramona Raylor and “The Stoned Bisons” were playing tonight.  When we first got there at around 2200 hrs., they were on break. When they took the stage, there must have been close to 200 people inside. Some were standing against the wall, and others were on the dance floor, but most were at about 40 tables spread throughout the club.  The walls of the club were painted black, and there were a few black light posters on the walls, and even a large mural next to the stage, painted in black light paint.  The mural depicted Geronimo on the back of his horse leaping over the edge of the canyon into the river below.  “Where did I see that before?”

Ramona was in fine form and started out with Donavan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” with the lead guitar playing it note for note like the album. I know that Farrer doesn’t like bands that do covers, but when a bar band can duplicate an international rock star’s song perfectly I find it impressive. After finishing the song Ramona welcomed all the stragglers that dragged themselves in as the band began an original composition –  “Cowchip Love” –  with some of the most incredible lead electric guitar that I’ve ever heard someone do, in the flesh.  Ramona was a great guitar player, as well as a singer. When she and her lead guitarist played against each other the roof of the place started to blow off.

We stayed until they finished the last set, at 0200 hrs. Two fights broke out in that interim, but they were on the other side of the club, and Tommy and his bouncers got it under control before any damage was done. Larger was impressed, and we finally got back to the barracks at around 0240 hrs.. After I smoked my last Chesterfield King, I rolled over and fell asleep.

Top 10 Bo Diddley Songs

12 May

Bo Diddley called himself the “originator,” meaning that he was the original source of the rock and roll beat. This is a link to an article that I wrote and was published in the latest issue of “Blues Rock Review.


11 May

Creativity in the Barracks

Friday, May 10, 1968, 96 days

“The way that I see it, earth is an electron flying around the sun nucleus and our solar system is an atom. Each solar system is an atom that makes up a molecule and those molecules make up compounds and groups of compounds become galaxies. Then the galaxies combine to become organs and those organs combine to become the entire universe which is essentially a living being that we call God. We are all part of God and God is as aware of us as we are of the atoms, comprising our stomach, heart, arms or eyes. But then I could be completely wrong about that. However, being right or wrong never stopped anyone from inventing a new religion,” the speaker said.

“I don’t understand what he was talking about, but it seems really far out,” Sarah said, and the Monk agreed.

We were sitting on the floor of a large room where a band was playing on a stage that had a back drop behind it where they were showing slides taken by photographers using telescopes to capture distant galaxies. The band was playing and all the people were dancing and waving their hands in the air. I got up to go to the bathroom, but found myself out on the street, where there were people everywhere. Some of them were angry but others were happy. When I tried to talk to someone they told me that I had to see the Monk. I told them that I knew the Monk and he was my friend, but when they took me to him it was someone I never saw before, who looked like he came from India or Tibet. I wanted to ask him why he was called the Monk when I felt someone shaking me. It was the Monk and when I looked at the clock it said 0450 hrs. and I wanted to go back to sleep.

The Monk convinced me to go in the latrine with him. When we got there, he opened a stall, sat down and pulled out his pipe with some new aluminum foil on it, held in place by a rubber band. There were at least a dozen pin holes in the aluminum, and  I was ready to get pissed, because I was assuming he was just going to pull out a chuck of hash.  Instead he had a two inch squar folded piece of aluminum foil that he unfolded revealing a white powder that he said was DMT (Dimethyltryptamine). Its chemical structure is similar in structure to the neurotransmitter serotonin. DMT is created by the human body, in small amounts, during normal metabolism. It is excreted at its greatest level during the deepest levels of sleep and it was originally isolated and synthesized by the U. S. Army.

“Sarah sent it to me in the package that I got from her yesterday.”  He said.

What package?”  I thought and then suddenly remembered that Angelucci took care of the mail yesterday afternoon.

“I told her to send me some, if she ever got hold of any.” The Monk said. “She sent two hits worth. One for you and one for me.”

When I started to protest, he said, not to worry, because it was only a 5 minute trip.  We’d still be able to make reveille. When I asked him if he ever took it before, he said no, but one of his friends did and said that it was one of the coolest highs that he ever had, and he took over 500 trips on acid, mescaline, psilocybin and STP. 

The Monk carefully tapped the aluminum that was creased, until half the white powder filled the concave indentation made in the aluminum foil covering his pipe.  Then he handed me the folded aluminum foil with the other half. 

“After I take my hit, I’ll give you the pipe, and you can do yours in the next stall.” He told me.  “It’s fast acting, under a minute to begin, and the peak is within two minutes, and lasts for about 5 minutes.  Shaman’s down in South America have used it since before White men discovered America and it occurs naturally as ayahusca in some plants.”

Then he lit a match and put it to the pipe and inhaled. He held it in, as he handed me the pipe. By the time that I took it from him, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he slumped down on the commode. He was gone.

I went into the next stall and sat down on the commode. After I locked the door, I taped the ash from the pipe between my legs into the commode and refilled it with the remaining white powder. I held a match to the pipe and inhaled the smoke until I was just taking in air.  The last thing that I remember was tapping the pipe on the inside of the commode seat that I was on.

I saw entities, like brightly colored globes bouncing in open space.  After a while I realized that their movements were actually a way of communicating with me.  They were telling me the secret of existence and the future of it. I understood this as I have never understood anything before in my life, when I realized that I was looking down on myself sitting in the stall. 

I discovered that I had the ability to travel great distances by my will alone. I was at my parents home in Michigan. My Mom was sitting at the kitchen table reading the Detroit Free Press, while drinking a cup of coffee, and smoking a Taryton cigarette. She smoked Camel regulars, until after she got out of Lafayette Clinic, after her last nervous breakdown. Suddenly I saw globe like beings bouncing all around my Mom, but she wasn’t acting like she saw them, then she looked up and said. “Toby when did you get here?”

Before I could answer, I found myself traveling down an infinitely dark tunnel that led back to the stall, where I started to regain consciousness.  I felt a joy in my heart that I never felt before, and a lust for life that made we want to live to be 1,000 years old.  When I looked up, I saw the stall door in front of me, and the pipe laying on the floor, with the empty aluminum square.

After I picked them up, I staggered to my feet, and went to the stall next door where the Monk was still sitting. “Do you dig it?”  He asked.

“Wow!”  I tried to tell him, but my mouth was hard to control.

Suddenly I heard someone coming into the latrine.  It was Gary Williams, coming in to take a piss. He always uses an alarm clock and gets up 5 minutes before the CQ wakes up the barracks, so he can use the latrine.  By the time people start coming in, he’s finishing up. He was surprised to see us. I felt really strange and had a hard time trying to say anything. Finally I decided to just walk out and hope that he thought that I was sleep walking. The Monk must have stayed in the stall, because he never came out. 

Van Bueran, the CQ came in the barracks to turn on the lights, just as I laid back down on my bunk. I pretended that I was asleep and felt numb. I finally got up at 0545 hrs. and barely made it out for reveille with my boots undone. After I washed up I went to the mess hall to see if I could find the Monk, and try to regain my sanity. I felt really strange, and just took some French toast and bacon to eat with a cup of black coffee. I found the Monk sitting at a table with Farrer and Rublay. 

“How are you feeling Toby?”  The Monk asked.  “You don’t look too good.”

By then I seemed to have regained the use of my tongue, but I still felt strange, like I didn’t belong here.  I don’t mean just the dining room, or the Army, but on this planet, in this dimension of reality. It was a weird feeling and it scared me. 

“I’m okay.”  I told him. “I just feel a little strange, that’s all.”

Everyone started to laugh when I said that, because they always tell me that I’m strange anyway. By the time I was buffing the bay, I almost felt normal, when Lt. Jones came in and started bugging me about the camera he’s expecting in the mail. By the time Top was in, I was back to normal. I kept busy all morning by replacing burned out flourescent bulbs and replacing the broken day room window. 

After the mail came I asked Top if I could have the afternoon off, since Parella could take care of the mail, and he gave it to me. I got a letter from home today and the coin catalog that I sent for. Everything in it costs a fortune. Willie King ETS’d today.

After I passed out the mail, I skipped chow, and left for the gym an 1115 hrs.   It’s getting warm out and will probably reach nearly 100 degrees today. The gym was empty except for a couple of guys that I’d seen before. They worked out with light weights for about half an hour and then played basketball. I did my arm, shoulders and abs at the beginning for variety. I started with dips with a 25 lb. plate for my triceps and then did alternating dumbbell curls with 40 lbs. for the biceps. I did 3 sets of dumb bell standing overhead presses working up to 100 lbs. each. I toped it all off with 3 sets of 20 hanging leg raises, 2 sets of 50 Roman chair sit ups with a 25 lb. plate and a set of 50 reps of dumb bell oblique side bends with a 50 lb. dumb bell.

Then according to all protocol I did my usual ascending 5 steps of 5 reps on my 3 power lifts. This time I wanted to increase the weight that I did on Tuesday by 5 lbs. After I barely made the 5th rep with 320 on the bench, I decided that I needed to psych myself up more. I didn’t want to get pinned with the bar, so I cheated and arched my back. I made my max squat with no problem and when I got to my final deadlift set which was 500 lbs. for 5 reps, I counted them, because I was feeling light headed and weird.

When I pulled the 500 lbs. off the floor I blacked out and the next thing I knew, I was being carted out of the gym on a stretcher. They revived me with some smelling salts, and I couldn’t remember anything. Not even who I was, where I was at or what happened.  The medics kept asking me questions but my mind was blank. Then one of them asked me what my ETS date was.

“August 14, 1968.”  I told him without hesitation. Suddenly my memory came rushing back in to me.  It was as if I were a blank entity that was waiting for the information to be inserted that would make me a person. Otherwise the empty shell would be discarded, because it would have no value.

They took me to the base hospital, in an ambulance and shaved a patch of hair off my head and stitched the gash in back of my head together. I have a big Y shaped gash on the back left hand side of my head. I was put in room 515 East for the time being, where I would be under observation. All I was given to eat were liquids. I couldn’t eat any solid food, since I might have a brain concussion. They took about 6 X-rays of my head and asked me if my neck was ever fractured because one of the vertebrae was cracked.

From the time that I got to my room they had check-ups on me every half hour. They would take my pulse, temperature, blood pressure and check my eyes with a flashlight. This continued all night long and I couldn’t get any sleep, because as soon as I fell asleep they woke me back up. Finally I tried to watch TV but didn’t do too well so I tried to sleep again and that didn’t work too well either.

Understanding the Hippies

10 May

I stumbled upon this half hour video about understanding the hippies. To me this is very personal since there was a period in my life that I considered myself a hippie. The summer of love took place while I was in the army in 1967 and by the time that I was discharged in the summer of 1968 I flew out to San Francisco to check it out for myself. After flying back to Detroit, Michigan with a bag of weed that I purchased in Frisco I became part of the counter culture in Motown. By the summer of 1971 I was done with the hippie movement and became a Jesus Freak when I moved to Los Angeles, California and joined the Jesus movement. The Convoluted Path is my story beginning from the time of my discharge from the army in 1968.

The Short Timer Uniform

9 May

SP4 Bob Gersztyn

Thursday, May 9, 1968, 97 days

I got up at 0545 hrs. and forgot that I had Standby Driver and fell out for reveille.  Nothing happened during the night, so I got a full night’s sleep. It’s supposed to be 85 degrees out today, but right now it’s cool and raining out. We had SOS for breakfast, so all I had was a bowl of cereal with toast and orange juice. Holster was head cook this morning, and was riding the KP’s when I was turning my tray of dirty dishes in.

While we were cleaning the bay, Howard put on his the “Shortimers” uniform that he put together. He really is a character. Neither of his boots have heels on them. He’s wearing a 40 inch waist pair of fatigue pants, even though he has a 30 inch waist.  Last week he asked me if he could have my 1 ½ year old, unpolished brass belt buckle. He soaked it in battery acid until it turned a splotchy black and grey.  His cap doesn’t have a top on it, and his fatigue blouse only has a PFC stripe on one side, and his Fourth Army insignia is hanging half off.

We had our first thunderstorm of the year this morning. Mary, the Battery civilian secretary is leaving tomorrow, so Dan Williams is taking up a collection to get her a going away present. I donated a couple of bucks. Mary is in her fifties and has been here since I first arrived. 

Most units have a civilian doing some office work. Some of them are retired from the army, like Mr. Dolan at the Blockhouse, who was a Major in the Army when he retired.  Even though he’s a civilian, he still acts like he’s an officer and tries to intimidate all the EM. I told him to get fucked one time, and Captain Raddix reprimanded me. If he was still an officer I could have been court martialed for insubordination.

Mary wasn’t ever in the military, so she acted like a civilian. She seemed to enjoy her job, and was always helpful. At the same time I think that she enjoyed being surrounded by young men. Sometimes you could see her starring at one of the half naked guys in the hallway going to take a shower, with just a towel wrapped around his waist. She looks like a grandma, but has a raw sense of humor like a lifer.

TOP wasn’t in this afternoon so not too much got done, plus the BC is on leave now for 11 days. When the cats away the mice will play. I have the afternoon off, since I had S.D. last night and Angelucci will take care of the mail, so after chow I caught the bus to the main PX. I picked up the things that I needed and then headed back.

When I got to the barracks I found Angelucci asleep in the mailroom, but at least he picked up and delivered the mail first. I got a letter from Sarah. She’s still in San Francisco and wants me to come out and see her when I get discharged. She says that it’s the coolest place that she’s ever been, and that everyone is friendly and acts like one big happy family. She said that she’s seen all the big groups like “Jefferson Airplane”, “Big Brother”, “Country Joe and the Fish” and even “Blue Cheer,” when they were playing at a Hells Angels party.

I found out that the Monk got a letter from her also. She told him that she’s been hanging out with some of the Hell’s Angels, who sell acid and weed that they get from the Haight.  After I get discharged I think that I’ll go visit her, plus the Monk will get out before me, so he will be there too.

One of the guys from the 4/46th  was killed today, when he picked up an unexploded 105 shell.  I guess he was a new guy that just transferred in last week. They said that there wasn’t too much left of him to ship home to his family.  He’s the second guy that I know of, who was killed by picking up an unexploded shell since I got drafted. The first one was when I first arrived at Ft. Knox, only it was an unexploded tank shell.  There were signs posted all over that said – “Don’t Pick Up Duds.”  At first I thought that they were funny, because our DI’s would always call us duds.

They had meat loaf for chow, and I sat with Farrer, Rublay and Van Bueran. Van Bueran had CQ again tonight, but Farrer and Rublay asked me if I wanted to go to the show with them. We saw “The Sand Pebbles” with Steve McQueen. It was about a US gunboat patrolling rivers in China between world wars, while a civil war was going on. I thought that it was ironic, since we’re doing the same thing in Viet Nam today.

Afterwards, we went to the Gallery for a few beers. Farrer didn’t complain about Jerry and Perry not playing original stuff this time. In fact he seemed to enjoy it, because they did some Dylan covers of songs that he liked. “Positively Fourth Street” was one of my favorites.

We got back to the base around 2230 hrs., and I went straight to bed.  At around 2300 hrs. when just as I was dozing off, Artez came in and turned on the lights. I gave him all kinds of hell for it. Why can’t people respect others that they live with?  If everyone turned on the lights, when they came in, we’d never have lights out. Some people just don’t have any consideration for anyone else. I’ll really be glad when I don’t have to live in a room crammed with dozens of guys. Artez broke his arm playing baseball on Tuesday night. I was finally able to fall asleep sometime around 2330 hrs.

Top 10 Neil Young Songs Podcast

7 May
1997 Neil Young ©Bob Gersztyn

I’ve been going to Neil Young concerts since 1971 in Detroit, Michigan. During the 1990’s and until it stopped publishing in 2014 I was a contributing writer/photographer for “Broken Arrow” his fan magazine. I’ve been to a half dozen Neil Young concerts over the decades including a “CSN&Y” show. Since working for “Blues Rock Review” I’ve been writing Top 10 Lists of songs and albums from guitar heavy performers and they turned some of the written top 10 lists into a podcast where I compare my list to another writer from the publication named Willie Witten. This is the link.

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