Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

How to Police a Butt

Biloxi, Mississippi

We were policing used cigarette butts here at Keesler AFB when the news about JFK came in. We watched all day on TV. That was back before filter tips and the process just involved stripping the butt along the seam, disbursing the tobacco, rolling the paper into a tiny ball and throwing it back on the ground. With a filter-tip, that wouldn't work. I don't know how they do it now. You were expected to smoke. Those were the days.

I wanted the Air Force to pick me for a program to go back to a University full time for a couple of years on their dime and then on to Officer Training School. There were 100 slots for the program and they were processing 500,000 new enlisted men a year. I think I improved my odds by spit-shining the soles of my boots. My commanding officer took several visiting Congressmen to see my boots. There were lots of tests and interview boards. I made a 99 percentile on the Air Force Officers Emotional Stability Test. I pretended I was Captain Jack Armstrong in crafting my responses to the eight hour test.

I made the program and got an automatic promotion to staff sergeant after nine months of service. I met Mrs. Phred at FSU because of the program. Otherwise she would have probably married a Jewish orthodontist from Miami. Camille came though here in 1968. That was the one featured in the Forrest Gump movie.

Katrina hit here directly in 2005. The recovery is slow. The beach road is still about 90 percent concrete slabs with maybe 10 percent rebuilt. The old oaks that were stripped bare and denuded have begun to grow leaves again.

We went to see the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. His home was badly damaged by the storm and most of his papers were lost or badly destroyed. We went to see several other museums, but every time the GPS would lead us to a bare cement slab. Apparently the 2009 Microsoft Streets and Trips program doesn’t deal well with hurricane losses.

Davis’ house was used for a confederate veterans home from about 1903 to 1956 when they ran out of confederate veterans. 900 of them are buried in the back yard. By 2065, the Vietnam Veterans will all be gone as well, except for maybe the one who is 108.

The best deal in town is the low cost buffets at the casinos. The food was excellent and the cost about $7.

Off to New Orleans in the morning. Several of the locals warn that it has become a much more dangerous place at night since Katrina. We were warned not to go beyond the 600 block of Bourbon Street. I’m betting that my usual steely glare and command voice with deter evil-doers. If that doesn’t work, the Glock in Mrs. Phred ankle holster will do the trick.

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