Road Warriorette Reactions

NN north of Bertrand 12-03-2015All of my road warriorettes display different reactions to my driving. Foodie Jan is prone to scream “We’re all going to die!!!!” at the least provocation. She’s also the one most likely to question my food and lodging choices.

Curator Jessica is so young she still thinks she’s immortal, so she takes my driving quietly.

You haven’t heard much about Warriorette Anne lately because she abandoned me for Texas. She kept quiet even when she had good reason to scream. It was on that occasion that Mother, the original Warriorette, said she didn’t scream because she was biting down too hard on a pillow to keep from doing it.

(You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Now that I think of it

Suspension pipeline from Grand Tower IL 07-17-2011I only knew of one time when Mother expressed any kind of shock.

I was trying to get a good photo of the world’s longest suspension pipeline that links Wittenberg, Mo., with Grand Tower, Ill. I had been there about an hour earlier and got some nice pictures, but after heading north along the river and not finding a good angle, I decided to race the sun back for this shot. I made it with about five minutes to spare. When I went airborne over the top of a levee, Mother yelled, “Whoa!

I knew there was a road on the other side of the levee, but she, evidently, didn’t.

At the time, I wrote, “She never yells, ‘Whoa!’ She yells, ‘Gun it!’ She must be getting old.”

Getting to the point of the picture

NN north of Bertrand 12-03-2015Getting back to the original subject of the tree photo at the top of the page: Warriorette Shari, my old high school girlfriend (briefly, by her choice), and I were hammer down on NN north of where I took the silo picture when I smoked the brakes and did a sliding U-turn. Shari didn’t say a word, even when I pulled off on the side of the road and jumped out.

I had spotted a farm pond that was perfectly smooth and picking up the reflection of trees backlit by the setting sun. It captured the feel of The Bootheel for me: the endless flat ground, the green crops, the trees and buildings way off in the distance.

When I crawled back in the car, I tried to explain my philosophy of “Shoot It When You See It” because I was losing the reflections of the trees in the three or four minutes it took me to get turned around and start making exposures.

This old tree standing sentinel in the field has the same feel as the pond photo, but I like the reflections better in the first shot.

I almost always use a circular polarizing filter on my lens to protect it, reduce reflections and make skies more dramatic. Depending on the angle of the light, sometimes it doesn’t work at all or, like here, it causes part of the sky to be a different shade, which bothers me.

Watered-Down Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch water for 1993 flood 11-08-2015I’m a disgrace to my German heritage. I have to confess I went years not liking the taste of beer. Then, one hot summer, Brother-in-Law John Perry came down to Florida to help us re-roof the house.

Well, to be more accurate, he did most of the work when he wasn’t answering dumb questions from The Boys and me. (Sample: “These nails have the heads on the wrong end.” “Just put them back in your pouch and use them on the other side of the roof.”)

At the end of the day, I took a shine to the Bud Light I was quaffing with John. Nowadays, I usually have a bottle with dinner at least three nights a week.

My friends make fun of me for drinking Bud Light, but I counter by saying, “I’m not really crazy about beer, and Bud Light is the closest thing you can get to Not Beer that still has a little of the taste of beer.

In 1993, the folks at Anheuser-Busch came up with something that might be a little light even for my taste. They switched over one of their lines in Ft. Collins, Colorado, to produce cans of drinking water for folks fighting the Flood of 1993.

Use by 10/15/1993

Anheuser-Busch water for 1993 flood 11-08-2015Wife Lila and Foodie Road Warriorette Jan are always giving me grief about how long I keep food past the theoretical expiration date. I wonder if they’d object if I cracked the can and took a swig of 1993 water? The can’s full and shows no signs of leakage.

Canned water outlasted Dutchtown

Dutchtown buyout demolition 10-18-2015Ronald Kucera Jr. of Kucera Demolition reduces a Dutchtown house to landfill material. Eleven of 15 houses eligible for a buyout have been marked for demolition after residents got tired of more and more frequent “100-year” floods.

Not-so-fond memories

93 Dutchtown Flood Mark Steinhoff inside Mech ShedBrother Mark and I have some not-so-fond memories of the Flood of 1993, when we were surveying the height of the water inside one of the buildings Dad used for his construction company. We were barely able to get the canoe under the top of the door.

Citrus Inn Restaurant

When Road Warriorettes Anne and Jessica journeyed to Florida last May, we left Athens, Ohio, passed through places like Albany, Georgia, and Athens, Georgia until we got to the Sunshine state.

It was getting late, and my passengers had, in addition to the Ohio and Georgia towns, gone through Whiny, Grumpy, Cross City and were approaching Armed Insurrection before we got something to eat and stayed overnight in Chiefland. They were in a better mood the next morning when we checked out the Levy County Quilt Museum.

Talked it up to Warriorette Shari

Citrus Inn Restaurant Cross City FL 03-19-2015When it came time to haul Warriorette Shari back to Missouri, I talked up this great old restaurant in Chiefland that had the quilt museum and some inexpensive lodging nearby.

By the time we got to the general area of those cool places, it was dark. Even though we were northbound, we were beginning to get close to Whiny and Grumpy. Cranky and Hungry were far behind us. When the lights of Chiefland came and went with no restaurant, my passenger started to get concerned. “‘When you said you were a cereal killer, you WERE talking about Cheerios, right?”

Just about the time I was beginning to doubt myself, the Citrus Inn Restaurant appeared out of the darkness. I was right about stopping in Chiefland for the night on our last trip, but we had EATEN at Cross City.

We pulled into the lot afraid that it would be closed, but an EMT opened the door for us, and we saw two guys sitting together, some folks paying their bill, and another fellow sitting at a table near where we were going to wind up.

Huge oysters in the stew

I ordered the oyster stew (with two spoons, because I’m a nice guy), and a shrimp and oyster combo. Shari had a seafood combo with scallops and something else. It was a good thing I had asked for two spoons. The stew came in a bowl the size of a small bathtub, and half a cow of butter was floating on top of it. There were at least eight or 10 HUGE oysters hiding under the butter. These weren’t oyster chunks, they were slurping-size bivalve molluscs to be proud of.

Unlike Road Warriorette Jan, who is a foodie by trade, my first instinct is to chow down, not to take pictures of my food. That’s why there are pieces missing from our plates.

“I’m going to hurt myself”

When I got to the “if I eat one more bite, I’m going to hurt myself” stage, the guy who had been sitting across from us got up to leave. Catching his eye, I said, “We’ve got way more shrimp, scallops and oysters than we can finish, and we’re on the road, so we can’t take them with us. Would you like some of them?”

The guy patted his stomach, then said, “Thanks, but I’m almost in the same shape. I don’t think I could eat another bite. ” Then, before he could take another two steps, he turned around and said, “I’ve changed my mind. I’ve never tried the oysters. I’ll take a couple.”

We made the same offer to the two other customers. They considered it, but ended up passing.

The Citrus Inn Restaurant, established in 1928 (I think), is the kind of place where you could have those kinds of conversations with perfect strangers and not feel at all uncomfortable. I ate there in the middle 70s while covering a Suwanee River flood. It’s going to be one of my regular stops when I’m taking Hwy 19 through the middle of the state.

Cuban Boatlift Part 1

Cuban Boatlift - Key WestRoad Warriorette Jan and Son Matt nagged at me this morning to dig out some of my Cuban Boatlift photos to go along with the big news that President Obama was going to thaw the Cold War that had been going on since about 1959 or thereabouts.

I protested that I hadn’t even THOUGHT about dipping into my Florida years, but they were persuasive. After about nine boxes, I hit one containing outtakes from the month (minus one day) I spent in Key West watching a flood of people who would change the face of Florida and parts of the United States.

Palm Beach Post May 6

The Post's Cuban Boatlift coverage 05-06-1980I’ll go into more detail and publish more photos after I’ve had a chance to see what I can find. To be honest, my stomach has been a bit iffy today, and I haven’t felt like spending time in front of the scanner.

We sent a team to Mariel Harbor

The Post's Cuban Boatlift coverage 05-06-1980We sent  photographer George Millener and reporter Edgar Sanchez down to Key West to try to talk their way onto a boat going over to pick up relatives. The word was that it didn’t take long to make the 180-mile round trip. They made a quick call saying they were getting ready to depart and that they’d check in as soon as they got back.

We didn’t hear from that day, nor the next. I was director of photography and was working on a project that was going to take me all over the state, so I decided to use that leeway to check on our team since I needed to go to Key West at some point anyway.

As soon as I hit U.S. 1 south of Miami, I was in a convoy of trailered boats. Every boat that wasn’t on a trailer heading south was parked on the roadside with a For Sale sign on it.

At the Key West city marina, boats were being launched two abreast as quickly as inexperienced mariners could back the trailers up. I saw at least one Cadillac go in up to the windows when the driver backed up too far.

I called the office and said this was a bigger story than the wires were reporting and that I needed a reporter to back me up.

Dick Donovan

The Post's Cuban Boatlift coverage 05-06-1980They couldn’t have sent a better guy: Dick Donovan was an old-time Chicago cop reporter who had a reputation for getting to the meat of a story. He would stand next to you, then, just before he asked the zinger question that was going to get the subject to react, he’d give you an elbow in the ribs to tell you to get ready.

I’ll go into more detail about the photo at the top left, but I’ll just say that this was the only time I saw Dick with tears in his eyes.

I had to walk away

It didn’t produce as many memorable photos as I would have liked, but it made some memories I’ll never forget.

I was photographing a little boy about the age of Son Matt playing with a little plastic truck just like Matt had at home. Suddenly I realized what a big change was happening in that boy’s life and wondered what the future held for him. I had to walk away for a few minutes.

A little Cuban nun who might have been stacked 4’8″ at best, put her hand on my shoulder and said in broken English, “I’ve been watching you. You don’t just take pictures. You have a big heart.”

That comment meant more to me than any award I ever won.