Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Christmas Letter 2022..

Photos and notes from 2022.  Grand year! I just sent out the "Christmas cards"  in late January 2023. A note in the card points readers to this page for more information. 

So -- Here is a summary of a superb year.  

In January, Holly (Vandenberg) and Alex repeated nuptials with the "planned" wedding to cap off the wedding a year earlier (in February) that met severe restrictions over a pandemic.  It was a small family affair.  It set them on a path but to share the joy -- the "public" wedding for a grand celebration of friends and family took place.  The photos are a fine memory. Perhaps I will add a link here to a selection.  It certainly gave hope for a grand future in the world given all the superb young people in attendance who were and continue to be examples of the best of America. 

Karen and Vic made three trips to Houston Texas this year.  Our brother-in-law, John Platt passed away.  We celebrated Toni's birthday. There was a service of remembrance for a truly exceptional man. Two other trips to Houston in the course of the year helped Karen's sister to organize for her life to come. On the third trip in September, we attached a Houston Annual Meeting of the Destroyer Veterans Association (Tin Can Sailors) to celebrate with Vic's shipmates and families from the USS O'Callahan.  These are always fun events.  Shipmates are forever bringing up sea stories that require the refreshment of memory.  The added benefits of catching up with families and friends from a military experience and beyond . 

In APRIL, we also were honored to have our wonderful New Jersey friends (some are expatriates of NJ now as well) Join us in Milton for some refreshed memories and expanding some more. With our Gulf Coast as a backdrop the outings were easy.  Beaches and FOOD and Naval Air Museum and FOOD! To survive in NJ, people like us NEEDED the support of natives who spoke the language. They saved our lives on many occasions. AND their sons are lifelong friends of Alex. The sons were here for the wedding in January. They are the kind of people you always hope your life can be infused with.

Some of us have taken to sharing IRISH BLESSINGS with people we meet.  Our ship was named for an Irish Catholic Chaplain who was a hero in WWII with the USS Franklin (google) . In the course of honoring our ship's namesake, Fr. Joseph O'Callahan, we became close to the families of USS Franklin too. Sometimes we are able to join at their ship's reunions. 

One of our trips involved a visit to dear cousins (mom's Carswell side) - some with life changing events underway.  We were able to visit in Chipley (Gainer, Boswell), Panama City (Howell), Jacksonville (Bhide) and in Orlando and Melbourne, FL (Starling) . Our nephew's family (Kevin and Angie)  in Orlando gave us much enjoyment for a dinner out with the kids. While in Orlando we were able to participate with more NJ lifesavers - Charlie and Helen Yacomeni who held a 50th wedding anniversary.  It turns out, some of our favorite cousins are feeling the march of time as much as we are.  We are missing some of them already.  Rest in Peace, Carol (the last visit was purposeful with her dad's archives finding a safe home forever (E.W.Carswell collection at UWF Archives). Me missed the passing of our dear cousin Kitty Starling but were happy to share some memories with Warren. Kittye was only a few years younger than mom - and was her companion niece while mom lived with her sister, Vera to work in Jacksonville in the war years. 

Karen and Vic both had Covid in October. Fortunately the strain was not awful but mainly miserable. 

My sister and bro-in law , Wanda and John Roberts built a multi room cabin in a Christian retreat at Indian Springs, Georgia. (they have 16 grandkids and by tradition, enjoy this church camp experience every year - sometimes several times.   We went there in NOV with her and our other cousins from the Campbell side in the fall.  It was a refreshing experience to be with dear cousins and siblings to explore the historic area and sample the Georgia BBQ.  We do love our cousins.

In December, a few days before Christmas, my brother, Jim, remarried. His bride is Jane (Salter) Campbell.  They were both single and somehow, Jim eased her past his penchant for talking about all the history of the area, to settle down and enjoy being together.  We are all loving Jane. She has much family in the area as does Jim. Both are at home in the circles of the other. 

Actually, my blind friend, Roy Allen also got married this year, in November.  This is also a case of two older single people finding a mutual attraction.  Sandra is great with Roy and provides a "HOME", where before, he struggled weekly to maintain cooking and laundry. The house now sparkles with aroma of good cooking and bright home arrangement. (blind people don't require a lot of bright spaces because ... well ... they are blind anyway.  The whole atmosphere and attitude for Roy is improved and frankly, the same for Sandra. The love is real.

Back in March, Karen and Vic went up to Carrollton, GA to visit some long lost relatives. Vicky Gatewood and Terry and Gloria Gatewood were retrieved to the family radar and we had a tremendously rewarding experience from the family reconnection.  Life has many pathways. A recovered path can be a grand life experience.

Through all this year I have had the fantastic opportunity to visit the VA Clinic with some of my veteran buddies - sometimes for me and often for them. We had CRUDD meetings almost every Saturday. Coffee and regular guys - all of whom have some unique and fascinating part of themselves that is expressed in lively conversation. One of our CRUDDS is 91. Dick Miller is a story unto himself with many stories in my FB pages that expand on his life.  He is a Korean War Marine who survived in the same unit with my cousin, Rogene Kilpatrick (deceased) at the "Frozen Chosin". Yet for all his love of Marines, he never got to go to a Marine Corps Birthday Ball.  We tuxedoed him up and with Alex's Marine buddies we ferried him and his granddaughter to the ball in Mobile. Photo ops abounded and memories were made.  (CRUDDS - Chumuckla Reprobates Utopian Debate and Discussion Society -- see Chumuckla.com) 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

SENTENCING UNCLE VIC ... (resources)

SENTENCING UNCLE VIC  ...  From the VLOG by Blue Collar Voice .    2-3 minute book reviews
of local interest as well as the occasional obscure or even popular book from the past if it holds some interest to Uncle Vic (and maybe you).  Will attempt to highlight only one or maybe a few sentences. Where possible - links will accompany the mention of these books in the blog here at IN COUNTRY WITH UNCLE VIC .. 

Thursday, August 04, 2022

CRUDDS - a tank of thinkers




Chumuckla Reprobates Utopian Debate and Discussion Society



(usually at Vic's house - Martin Road)

Sometimes we meet at Jay Historical

or other places.


5-10 is a usual group for coffee

Some of our regulars --  

Vic Campbell, Jim Campbell, Richard Youtes, Winston Burnham, Wayne Pannell, James Kilcrease, Diane VanLeer, Dick Miller, Stuart Pooley, Tommy Nichols, John Koch….

The usual Reprobates - take note - Guests are welcome . Typical group will be from 5 to 10 people. .
Text ahead or FB messenger if a guest. Just text and come on. Get directions.  See Vic Contact...

We avoid politics but sometimes a politician may show up. Discussions on politics might be taken aside from the group but not necessarily. We just have a lot of things that come up to talk about without getting into politics -- much. We have NO AGENDA . We endorse no candidates . We just have a good time and learn things. Local things. Sometimes world things. …………………

Some random CRUDDS-- not all CRUDDS are listed. Guests are welcome .. Text and come on.

James Kilcrease, Richard Youtes, Richard Wood, Emmie Lou Tucker, David Driver, Dom Tascarella, Susan Hornsby, Wesley Roberts, Wayne Pannell, Richard Miller, Vic Campbell, Jim Campbell, Stephen Howell, Paul Campbell, Richard Youtes, Winston Burnham, Wayne Pannell, James Kilcrease, Diane VanLeer, Dick Miller, Stuart Pooley, Emmie Lou Tucker, Dot Germann, Sandra Davis Neal, Dana Doty, Greg Scott, Jeff Bohannon, Tommy Nichols, Norman Chapman, Michele Baxley Hines, Stuart Pooley,


Community Center

Near the SCHOOL

Some of the old timers often have great networks you might tap into. We learned Mr. Pennington and Richard Griner found out both are interested in coming up with a SONG ABOUT CHUMUCKLA.  Fun stuff.  Not many good spots to just "hang out" in Chumuckla.  

This one (Community Center) Has a lot of pluses.  chumuckla.com/

The usual folks and anybody else is very welcome. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Blackwater Heritage Trail - The Making Of

On February 1, 1996, the Blackwater Heritage State Trail was officially begun.  It remains today, over 25 years later, one of the treasures of Santa Rosa County, used by residents and visitors alike to reach back in time and into nature for a refreshing connection to the land. 

Richard Collins, of Chumuckla, was the driving force to achieve this wonderful asset for the citizens of our region.  In 1995 he was still a relatively recent Air Force retiree and was looking for a way to serve the people. Over a number of community meetings he found talk of the old railroad bed running North through Milton to be fascinating. He discovered documents regarding grants with the Federal Government and began a quest to find the funding to transform this unused rail bed into a “Rails to Trails” tourism asset. 

In 1995 Richard Collins attended a Meeting of Greenway Corridor Connections in Clearwater Florida.  Enticing information from maps by Fred Ayer, Director of the Office of Greenways and Trails, encouraged action. These were maps by Gene Ingles, a cartographer out of  St Petersburg ,who had a company called Mapquest. The company is still a major player in online maps. The Chumuckla School is now in possession of a laminated color map of Santa Rosa County, prepared by Gene Ingles and presented in 2020. In 2021 and 2022 the Park was enhanced by over a dozen rest points with benches and with 4 stations for bike repair.

The excitement of the project led Richard Collins to a dedication of several years that envelop the trail development in five phases.   Richard contributed
8000 volunteer hours on behalf of the Blackwater Heritage Trail.  This life contribution was the equivalent of 200 40 hour work weeks … or FOUR YEARS of a typical career. 

In May, 1996, William T. Spitzer, Assistant Director National Recreation and Conservation Programs of the Department of the Interior, recognized Richard in Washington DC as a Conservation Hero.

In Richard's career in the Air Force, he visited Texas, Mississippi, Idaho, Newfoundland, Idaho, Massachusetts, Thailand, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Korea, Thailand, Okinawa, Philippines, New York, Vietnam, Thailand, Texas, Massachusetts, England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Mississippi.

In 1979, Richard married his Pen Pal. In 1986, he retired and settled in Chumuckla in Santa Rosa County. He put his free time into a heartfelt desire to conserve a legacy. We thank him.


FLORIDA PARKS- Blackwater Heritage Trail
PHOTO ALBUM of the TRAIL and HISTORY Documents
GOOGLE Photo Search -- The trail in photos.
REFERENCE PAGE with links to documents.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Richard Wood tells about Ben Henry Pooley

Ben Henry was an icon of colorful radio broadcasts, political wit and the pushing of hot buttons of politics. It got him in a lot of hot water with local politicians. So - his life of survival among many attempted murders becomes a parody of our regional politics from 1950 to 1985. 

Richard Wood gives superb analysis of much mahem in our region at his blog.
judgingshaddows.blogspot.com . The story reflects some on the friendship between Wilson and Pooley that deteriorated to a mortally flawed association in later year. 

Nothing ever connects Wilson to the challenges on Pooley's well being - and the public remains to wonder why Pooley chose to keep on publicly irritating Wilson and other political figures. Pooley, it seems was not one to let "sleeping dogs lie"..

Monday, October 25, 2021

USS FRANKLIN Survival with Sam Rhodes

At the USS FRANKLIN reunion in June 2021, Sam Rhodes, who was a young sailor in the crew - related his experience after the bombing of the ship in April - off the coast of Japan. Over 800 sailors died. Sam was a "snipe" rating (the engine crew) He carried a rating of "Watertender" which was critical to running the oil fired boilers on most combatant ships of the day.  (PODCAST AT END)

 Sam's story (in the audio interview here) tells of the burning ship and the leadership of Chaplain Joseph O'Callahan to clear the decks and care for wounded. Much live ordnance from the ships' own planes and stocks to be loaded was rolling around the deck. Some was "cooking off" in the fires. The bombs HAD to be taken off by rolling over the side - through burning decks. 

Chaplain O'Callahan (A Lt. Commander) encouraged the young men to keep rolling the bombs - even though their hands were burning. After the last bomb as over the side, he left them for a few minutes and returned with whiskey from the Sick Bay. Only the Sick Bay on a US Navy ship has alcohol and it is for medicinal use. 

The boys were all encouraged by the chaplain to take some for their pain and exhaustion. It is for this reason - with respect for appropriate drinking - the shipmates of USS

O'CALLAHAN (DE/FF 1051) have modified our "IRISH BLESSING" to include (if appropriate) following the prayer for those in need (veterans, active or others who need a prayer) a shot of whiskey may be consumed. 

This, in the locality of an Irish Pub - and in honor of Fr. O'Callahan's Irish heritage - adds an extra dose of Irish Blessings to the person who says the prayer while their hand is placed on the seal of the ship. The seal includes the cross of the Chaplain's Christian faith. 

 It became a tradition among veteran shipmates of USS O'Callahan (in service from 1968-1998) to offer an Irish Blessing - sometimes with a Card showing the seal and the ship. More about the O'Callahan, the USS Gary and USS Franklin is found at their respective websites. Sam Rhodes (USS O'Callahan and USS Gary are the two honored with Medals of Honor for actions that day.) 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Baseball with Richard Wood and Dick Miller

A discussion among friends of some of the greats of baseball and the history of the game. Dick Miller is approaching 90 (in 2021) and had a near option to enter pro baseball. Fate brought another path including near death as a Marine in Korea, the marshalling of a brilliant mind toward 2 PhD's that led to his being "the father' of the "modern" baseball (and softball and golfball). Better living through chemistry. (Read more about Dick Miller at the INCOUNTRY blog )

Richard Wood is a dictionary of sports, especially baseball - whose career went from Air Force to ship captain for offshore service ships for oil rigs. With economic fluctuations in oil, he took on Truck Driving for survival. More recently he has retired from the rigors of the sea and road and uses his time in wise pursuit of fascinating explorations of history.

His blog -- judgingshaddows.blogspot.com is a thriller collection of the wayward lives in our region - mostly before 1950. His facebook posts mirror much of the blog at Panhandle Mysteries and Mayhem. These are great reading materials ... all well researched from the archives of ancient news. .... ENJOY THIS TRIP DOWN MEMORY ROAD for baseball.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The MULAT map of 1930 and Chapman

Dick Miller and I joined over lunch today to help edit Norm Chapman's upcoming book. It presents his experience as an investigator in the case of one of the most notorious serial murderers of the 20th century. 

Helen made us some banana pudding to go with the sandwiches we brought over from "The Coffee Break". Helen shared more about her grandparents who lived at Mulat. She had a picture of them that one of her children received from Mary Henderson (in Mulat). 

Helen hopes one day to meet and visit with Mary over the old Mulat (Avalon Beach) history. Some years ago, I interviewed Kathryn Gatewood (Karen's mom) and Dot Williamson (of Floridatown) to settle some of the village roads and structures of the 30's and 40's. THose maps and the interview (you can download to play) are below.

Helen Chapman
Helen's Family that lived in Mulat

Norman Chapman - Vietnam 1965-66

Dick Miller - Korea 1950-52

Saturday, July 31, 2021

CRUDDS 7/31/21

Was a big group for us with lots of conversation. Our primary goal of World Domination was overcome by cake and donuts.

The link includes more photos and video of storytelling... 


Friday, June 25, 2021

A Cross for Pace Assembly

LD Henderson of DeFuniak Springs is here with Steve Zepp, Pastor, Pace Assembly Ministries. Henderson donated this cedar cross to Pace Assembly in a special presentation.
Henderson's project began over the past three years, beginning as a project, supplying wood to help his father-in-law honor God and his departed wife with handcrafted crosses. 

Eventually His father-in-law passed away at peace but the appreciation of the crosses he donated all over the region had become a point of worship for Henderson himself. 

Over the last two years, Henderson has donated over a hundred similar crosses and many "table size" crosses for special people. "LD" Henderson has had difficult half dozen years with family health, his own health that affected his business capacity, bad weather, covid and more. 

In times of bad weather (more than most years) and in times of family or personal health issues he used time at home to make the crosses.

You can learn more about him (and the crosses) at riverloggers dot com. The special service to present the cross is online at the church website.

Things are looking up for Mr. Henderson. A number of primary contracts and timber related projects are about to show fruit. We wish him well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

CRUDDS Advanced Provisional Podcasts

 CRUDDS -- Chumuckla Reprobate's Utiopian Debate and Discussion Society ...

FEB 20 - 2021 (length 03:14:00)

FEB 13 2021 (Length 03:09:20)

FEB 06 2021 (Length - 02:45 )

JAN 30 2021  (Length - 02:20 )

PODCAST on PODBEAN -- Click. USE the slider to skip to various parts. It is  a LONG random discussion of random topics.  Be the fly on the wall and sit with us. Get a cup of coffee. Chill out.

AUDIO FILE for this podcast (for now this may be a good way to download and play on your computer.  The PODBEAN above may be best for now.

.................. secret handshake waived for the privileged


CRUDDS Participants  this date --  Vic Campbell (opinion formulator), Dick Miller Korean War Marine and Inventor, Richard Wood Retired sea captain and writer.

This link opens an AUDIO FILE for this podcast. It is on Google drive. You should be able to play it from your timeline. Use the play-bar to skip along. It may be easier to just download from the podbean site.

Other Podcasts from recent months.  Note - some of these discussions last from an hour to two or even three hours in length.  Plan of a long listen -- or just skip along and see if something interesting pops up.  Topics range from Sports, to business, to unsolved murders in our region (Wood), to a bit (but not much) of politics, to general observations on life -- and more.... Get a cup of coffee and sit back - enjoy the visit with us.

ADDING PODCAST LINKS HERE -- (audio)  These will be sorted in time with a brief description of content. ...  They will also be edited to take out empty space and irrelevant chatter.....        But  - for the patient, the content is interesting in the raw form.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

CHUMUCKLA NOW: Living Life in the time of Covid - CRUDDS and More

CHUMUCKLA NOW: Living Life in the time of Covid - CRUDDS and More: For a few weeks, a number of fascinating encounters occurred and I never got around to writing anything down .  But I have pictures . 

For a few weeks, a number of fascinating encounters occurred and I never got around to writing anything down .  But I have pictures.   The following is a summary of activities with the CRUDDS group (Chumuckla Reprobates Utopian Debate and Discussions Society) and encounters about the county. One of the more inspiring was a visit with a Local Farm Family from the stars of national rated fishing youtube channels. Stuff just happens. A lot of it turns out to be fun.  A feature video at the END of this Blog Post. 

Let's start with this young fellow from Jay. Kaden Roberson .  We met him at the Duramed Deli. Kaden is a senior at Jay. Plays football. I was able to pick apart some of his heritage and I went to college on a bus with one of his aunts!  Jerry Kelley, shown here with him is a 3 time Vietnam Vet with some health issues. A recent stroke or two or three has set him back some. This young man, was a bright spot of the day. He thanked him for his service.  Well, you can know THIS- Jerry thinks this young fellow was worth it.   MORE PICTURES (with Korean War Vet, Dick Millerand me... I was in the Campfire Girls .. which in those days was a very rugged outfit)

Al Piser and Dick Miller
Dick was doing a little research on laser wood cutters and talked a bit with AL Piser in Jay. Al has lived there about 3 years.  Leaving California, He rode around the area for a 200 mile radius searching for where he wanted to live. He picked Jay. He had some suggestions on the laser wood crafting market, which Dick's daughter in law is looking into.  

Packing for Down Range
Karen and I have ended up with 3 cats now. It comes down to the US Marines.  

Alex picked up a kitten a few years ago while downrange somewhere and now IMMI (Illegal Immigrant - there is a whole story) and her companion Princess Buttuhcup have to have a home when Alex goes downrange again. (which is now) 

Recently we added a kitten (Momo) to hold for Alex's marine buddy who is also downrange at the moment and which is being fostered until a THIRD marine buddy comes over to pick him up.  It has become a Kitty Kat hotel at our house .... and added immeasurably to the entertainment in this Time of Covid.  

Several topics of conversation came up at the CRUDDS visit this week.   Jim (my brother) brought over some fossils we collected 50 years ago in the Conecuh River just North of here.  He explained to Dick Miller these resulted from many fossil trips with our cousin Rogene Kilpatrick - who was also a Marine, Korean War Veteran.  

News Clip with Rogene Kilpatrick
The back-story, which Dick knows now, is that Rogene was in Dick's very same regiment and in a sister company through THREE major Korean War Battles. Look the battles up. They are historic.  PUSAN - INCHON - CHOSIN .  

These are now the names of the three rifle ranges for recruits at Parris Island. Rogene's Marine Footlocker is loaded with warm socks and rests at the Jay Museum.  His mom was born near Jay - was my Grandma's sister.

Richard Wood (left) will miss a few CRUDDS because of his job serving oil platforms by boat. But he passed along a great inside history of the old WW2 "meme" KILROY WAS HERE.  JIm recalled we had a book written by our Uncle (E.W. Carswell)  by the same name - "Before Kilroy".  So we loaned it to Dick Miller who had an interest in it. Also loaned him a copy of my own book because it came out that Uncle E.W. had written the forward to my own book 30 years ago. 
Free PDF copy ... see bottom of page at 12ponder.com

in an album for the week.  

Also, consider my Chumuckla Heritage Store 
and the COVID t-Shirt.  I've made enough money so far to buy a box of donuts for the CRUDDS to enjoy.

PS - we practiced distance pretty well and used hand sanitizer regularly.
Be practical in groups and do things to mitigate passing a virus.

visits Lowry Farm 

From the Chumuckla Heritage Store

THANK YOU to Susan Youtes for the wonderful Breakfast Casserole
It was quite a meal for us here at CRUDDS