Come The Revolution

Published in the 2018 edition of Ageless Authors Anthology. This memoir is about my first few days in a Navy squadron and the changes I went through after meeting my militant first roommate. The photo of me was taken near my barracks at NAS Atsugi in the Fall of 1969 using my camera. I don’t remember which one of my new friends snapped the picture.

“Hill spoke: “Smitty, come the revolution, you’re gonna have to go up against the wall.”

I looked at him askance before inspecting an empty locker. “Well, you wake up cheery,” I said.”

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Noms de Guerre

Published in the 2019 edition of Ageless Authors Anthology. This memoir is all about transit; from civilian to sailor, from teenager to man, and from voiceless cog to celebrant of attainable freedom. Photograph of the USS Sanctuary off the coast of Da Nang, 1969, by William P Jones, MD.

“One thing I knew: Ferguson was on to something. All of us lined up at morning muster had signed away our lives. No exaggeration. The Navy now owned us physically, and even mentally.”

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The Most Amazing Thing I Have Ever Seen

I have described this scene to dozens of people over the last 50 years. No pictures of it. My pocket-sized Minox camera used 8mm film. It would not have done this scene justice even if I could have found the presence of mind to go get it. Hopefully, this memoir will remind us how nature can surprise with not only awe-inspiring beauty and majesty but take us somewhere beyond as well.

The photo is by James Smeaton via Pexels.com. (https://www.pexels.com/photo/awe-beautiful-eyes-beautiful-girl-big-eyes-2709127/)

” “Look at this,” I say, trying to speak loudly enough for the entire shop to hear. What comes out is a reverent whisper.”

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Duck Power

This memoir is about my stunted attempts at political activism while in the service. The drawing is my version of the G.I.’s Against Fascism logo.

“A lot of history went down between my enlisting in the Navy Air Reserve in March of 1968 and arriving in San Diego in September of 1969 to find out where on Earth I would be stationed.”

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Convolutions of Fate

In this memoir, I recount the somewhat crazy end of my tour of active duty in the Navy. I hope it also conveys the conflicted emotions that often accompany personal gains and losses. The photo at left was taken by my friend, Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class Doug Honspberger, as we were going ashore at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.

“Knowing how capricious and potentially ponderous military justice could be, I began to succumb to the cold weight of helplessness. Then the memory of a funny, system-defying friend forced its way to the forefront of my consciousness. While having a muted chuckle about his antics, I remembered who I was and what I had learned about how the military works.”

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Solemn Mysteries

Published in the 2019 edition of Ageless Authors Anthology. This memoir is about fulfilling the trust a broken veteran put in me, and how I needed to trust someone as well. The photo is of a certificate I received after undergoing the Order of Neptune ritual while crossing the equator between Singapore and the Sunda Strait aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14).

“Welcome back,” I said.

His eyes reddened, and he gave me a strained smile. “Thanks, I guess.”

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The Giddy Elation of a Close Call

This memoir focuses on the feeling of close calls in a combat zone. They were relatively rare, as I was in a situation where I did not go looking for trouble; I just waited for it to come to me. And it did. However, I was in no way a combat soldier and did not live the constant terror of being hung out to dry while being in the field. Compassion and respect for those that did. The photo at the left is the scene looking west from my barracks at Da Nang Air Base. Rockets came at us from the nearby hills. Photo by Scooter Smith.

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Beginnings: An Impression of a Julie Beth Wileman Painting

This essay/memoir is about the memories my sister’s painting evoked. To see “Beginnings” and more of her work, visit https://www.juliewileman.com/

Many of the works are for sale, and she takes commissions.

“One of my comrades says something about how times like this make our efforts and separation from loved ones worth it. Transfixed, I can only nod in agreement.”

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The Nadir of the Thin Man

This memoir is about when I helped ensure that a man was able to maintain his dignity in a time of crisis and how it unexpectedly enriched my life. Some names and locations have been changed to shield an identity. The image at left is a poster for The Thin Man from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

‘”Were you a friend of Rick Hansen on Bell Street?” he asked.

“Still am,” I replied.

“I thought I recognized you.” He paused. “You ever . . . ?”

He let the question hang. In that lull, I recalled who he was.”

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Hog Wild and Dotty

This memoir relates a few experiences with wild pigs and one very close call. My photo is of our dogs, Dotty (left) and Mabel, waiting to go, just go please, in our utility vehicle. Mabel is cute and shy, but Dotty wielded an outsized personality that shone as fearlessness and an endearing elan. At the end of the story you’ll find two links to segments that further illustrate some of its elements.

“Along the way, I began to notice a lot of fresh pig tracks of various sizes and caught the smell of their feces. Unlike other animals, hogs defecate where they sleep. So, clues like that usually meant a sounder, numbering anywhere from a handful to many dozens of swine, camped here for a day before continuing to forage after sundown.

Then we came upon a fresh pile of scat. Somehow, I made it fit the narrative in my head: they were here last night, not now.”

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Dime Bet

An amusing memoir from my high school years. Those who know me as a citified new media artist, or more recently as a soft, old, bald guy may not recognize the Scooter revealed here. And yet, sometimes the improbable is true. To keep the story moving, I had to trim a few anecdotes and some fascinating history about the families mentioned in the story who settled this area. Maybe later. The photo of the dime comes courtesy NCG Coin Explorer. The Yampa valley photo in the background courtesy The Unknown Real Estate Agent of Maybell, Colorado. Compositing by yours truly.

“A single paltry dime was our standard wager for every outlandish thing we bet on in an attempt to relieve the boredom. We were young, broke, and hungry for diversion. I’m not kidding. We gambled on games of pick-up sticks.”

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An Education in Feral Swine

My wife, Amy, and I decided to convert some heavily wooded and creek-cut acreage into an ecological haven of renewed tallgrass prairie and protected species habitat. Serious about our goals, we took classes from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. We learned about Blackland prairie botany and biology, erosion control, and best practices for farm and woodland management. And feral pigs. Photo at left by Bobby Walker.

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The Power of Hug

I wrote this essay/memoir in mid-2019 as a reaction to the shaming and derision Joe Biden was receiving for caring enough about people to love them; to hug them. The photo of my father was taken by an unnamed friend of his in Sasebo, Japan, 1945.

“My father chose to be a hugger, but behavioral norms change. Today, our culture is flirting with the idea that people who hug others, regardless of intent, should suffer societal censure. While there are justifications for this, I sense a net loss for humanity.”

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Satin Jacket

This is an anecdotal memoir about the sex lives of techies in the film and video business in the 1980s. Well, kinda. My photo at left is of the logo on the back of my satin jacket.

“I was short, losing my hair, and sported a large Seventies mustache. But with this jacket, suddenly I was a thing.”

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