Vietnam claims a friend…

I was not a supporter of our efforts in Vietnam; it just didn’t make much sense to me. It also claimed several people I knew. And now, all these years later, it has claimed a friend. Ellen and Reid knew of Jim. What they did not know until now was his circumstance.


January 6, 2014

Ellen/Reid: My good friend Jim McGough died in Des Moines late last week. His service is today and I won’t be there. He met you when you were peanuts, so there’s no reason for you to remember him, but I do and he was a great person. I both worked with and for him at Meredith, and he was a great boss and an even better person. In a way, Vietnam has claimed another victim. What took him were complications from hepatitis he contracted from a transfusion after he suffered a battle wound. He told us about it years ago and I suppose he felt ultimately it would get him, and it did. He was flanked by two other soldiers trying to take a position. As he described it, the Viet Cong used pipe-shaped grenades which tended to send the blast out the ends; his two comrades were killed. Jim was injured but spared. But what I remember most was his humility and willingness to deflect conversation from him to you. That is an admirable trait. He was one of my first visitors in Charlotte, and it was great to see him then. I knew of Jim’s plight only through Pam Kenyon and Diana Willits, so I was in touch with Jim a couple of months ago. True to form, he didn’t want to talk about himself but about me. We’d be a hell of a lot better off with a lot more people like Jim McGough.

Tim nailed it on where to put the kayak into the water for a maiden voyage. Beaufort, SC sounds like a great spot. I’ll probably take baby steps first with shortish jaunts until I find my sea legs. Fly fishing would be the ultimate, but I’ll probably spin cast until I really get the hang of things. I’d be leery of standing up to cast but maybe that trepidation will go away. But the prospect of being on the water really is appealing. Plus, it would give you guys something else to do when you visit.

We’re bracing for single digit temps later tonight and tomorrow. It’s in the 40s now but we shouldn’t get used to it. I see where the weather geeks over-dramatize things by terming this event a ‘polar vortex.’ Why the heck can’t they just call it a cold front like they did back in the day? I’ll head out shortly to get bread and other provisions. I would expect that the shelves are nearly cleared away. The birds have been stocking up on suet and black oil sunflower seeds. There’s been a steady stream of birds to the feeder.

This woodpecker - downy, I think - makes mincemeat of a block of suet before temperatures dropped like a stone.

This woodpecker – downy, I think – makes mincemeat of a block of suet before temperatures dropped like a stone.

I mean, it doesn’t go a few seconds without a visitor. They must know something is imminent. The little blue birds are now making forays at the nesting box. There are two pairs vying for the cedar spot. This will be year three of having a nesting pair. Little ones fledged last year and hopefully we’ll have a repeat performance later on in the early summer.

I’ve got to get this first floor furniture void squared away. How can I have people over when it’s totally barren of anything other than an old golf chair and a mismatched rug? This is the season of sales and I’m on the sidelines. But I just have no concept of what would look good down there. Ellen, if you have ideas or suggestions, let me know. My eyes glaze over in the stores.

Reid, let us know how your Colorado trip went. Looks like you ran into the polar vortex on your travels home. You and your guys have really stuck together over the years with your soirees. Those really sound fun. You ought to plot one down here so I can see everyone if only for a moment.

I milked a pot of chili for five or six straight non-breakfast meals so no more chili for a while. (This is when you’re glad you live alone.) Bean soup is up next, maybe, but not chili (although it was good). I dunno. Maybe I spoke too early in view of this very cold weather. It’s baked chicken tonight with potatoes. There’s no real intention to watch the national championship football game tonight. My enthusiasm for college football faded a few months ago. At least Nebraska finally won a bowl game, but I didn’t watch that live either. That’s why they make Tevos.

Love, dad


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