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Can Opener


WHAT: The P-38 Can Opener.

COST: You can buy outsized versions of the original for a couple of dollars in the camping/backpacking supplies department of most sporting goods stores. The original is less than 50 cents at most military surplus stores or on the Internet.

SIZE: Made of steel, the original model is 1A inches long, five-eighths inch wide and about one-eighths inch thick and weighs almost nothing.

WHAT IT DOES: Found on the key rings of almost every Vietnam-era veteran, the can opener originally was included in every military issue C ration packet.

Now, it's an indispensable camper's tool for opening cans. The flat edge works as a screwdriver.

HOW DOES IT WORK? The shark fin-shaped blade swings out, the lip of the can is hooked into the C-shaped notch and the blade cuts through the can with pressure applied by the thumb. You advance the P-38 as you cut, making an eighth-inch slice with each press. An average soup can takes about 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the proficiency of the user, while a 2-pound coffee can could take days and lead to repetitive stress injury.

DRAWBACKS: There is no left-handed model. Also, if you have one of these on your key ring, and word gets out, you will be asked to open everyone's canned lunch at the office.

Do you have an indispensable gizmo or gadget, preferably quirky and inexpensive, that you keep with your outdoor gear? Send your tip to: Henry Miller, Gizmos & gadgets, P.O. Box 13009, Salem 97309, via fax at (503) 589-6946 or by e-mail to: outdoors@ StatesmanJournal.com

Title: WHAT: The P-38 can opener.
Paper: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Date: October 17, 2001
Page: 6B



Ever since that wonderful Christmas of about 1950, I've been a sucker for tool kits. That first year it was a child's toy - the Handy Andy Tool Kit, with a little wooden hammer, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a saw that would annoy wood rather than cutting it.

The whole thing came in a dandy metal box with a handle just the right size for a 4- or 5-year old. I was so proud of that outfit that even nearly half a century later I can hardly walk by a hardware store without peering in the window to see what kind of tool kits - children's or otherwise - they're offering this year. Some people hang out at malls. I'm a junkie for hardware stores and tool kits, and I've got it bad. On a recent trip to Japan I didn't feel right about it until I finally found a hardware store in Kyoto and bought a knife and a wrench after inspecting every single chisel, clamp, wrench, hammer and plane in the tiny shop, looking for a deal on a set of tools. It may have been my happiest moment in that fascinating country full of contradictions and mysteries.

I used to collect antique woodworking tools, until I ran out of places to put them. They were lovely to look at and sometimes useful to use. The brass-and-walnut levels and the boxwood-and-brass rules are a sight to gladden the heart of any tool-time fanatic. In the old days, they routinely built hand tools not just for utility, but for beauty, too. I'm happy to say they still do at some specialty factories. A whole industry has grown up around producing high-quality works of art that wealthy hobbyists collect and often use.

What you usually see in hardware stores and the big discount places are tools designed with utility and price in mind - and sold in sets. They know their market, I think. I can hardly walk by a set of box wrenches without pondering whether I need them today - or just next week. It's a disease, I guess: I've got a set of tools for the truck, for the sailboat, for the fishing boat, for the office, for the den, for the upstairs, for my daughter's car . . . . Shoot, I may start equipping total strangers with a box full of tools, just for the sheer pleasure of it all.

But lately I've come to the view that it's not how many fancy tools you've got. It's whether you've got the right one.

One of the best tools I own cost me nothing - other than the three years of my life I volunteered to the U.S. Army. It's a U.S. P-38 - not the flight trainer that military pilots remember, but the P-38 can opener that came in every carton of C-rations. It's made of a lightweight metal, an inch-and-a-half-long, a half-inch wide and maybe one-eighth of an inch thick with the little barbed blade folded down. Folded out, that little blade will whip the top off a C-rations can in an amazingly short time.

The Army Times used to report on the Army-wide P-38 championships, usually won by some GI who could open a C-rat can in less time than it takes to read this sentence. Mine has performed well, and regularly, for more than 30 years. I still use it to open cans of coffee at work.

The P-38, though, is of limited utility. If you don't need to open a can, but to drive a screw or cut a wire or file a burr or open a bottle of beer, you're out of luck. You need a tool kit.

A guy named Ronald Leatherman discovered this a long time ago. While on a cut-rate trip abroad, he needed a small tool kit to deal with raggedy rental cars and balky hotel plumbing. He dreamed up a pocket-sized folding tool that would perform several functions. It would grip, it would screw, it would cut, among other things. He began turning them out in his home shop and selling them as the Leatherman - a 4-inch long multitool that its devotees carry in a little leather sheath on their belts. It's a lot bigger tool when fully deployed.

Leatherman's invention - and his handsome profits from selling hundreds of thousands of the gizmos - sparked an entire new industry in the small-tool business. Gerber, the knife company, came out with its Multi-Plier nearly a decade ago, then SOG came with its Paratool, followed by Buck Knives and Swiss Army Brands and Cooper and every small knock-off shop in the tool business. If you're in the tool business and you're not making a multitool, it's because you haven't figured out how to do it just yet.

I'm a Gerber man myself. I like the way it opens. With a sharp flick of the wrist, out slides a pliers with the same sort of satisfying snick that generations of smokers liked to hear when they lit up with a Zippo lighter. It takes just one hand, while some of the other brands require two hands to open it. Rick Dove, the Neuse RiverKeeper who keeps his boating gear in pristine condition, prefers the Leatherman.

In my limited experience, this is a guy thing. I don't know any women who carry them, at least openly. Maybe it's because the little leather belt cases or the little black fabric-and-Velcro cases aren't considered appropriate accessories in haute couture circles just yet. A sailing friend promises me she'll wear one on her bikini bottom when they start making rhinestone-studded multi-tool sheaths, but I think she's just kidding. Still, it's a thought.

These little gadgets are lifesavers. There's a story about a pilot who used one to lower his landing gear just before he ran out of fuel, another about a sailor who used it to cut away collapsed rigging that threatened to destroy his hull in an awful storm. We used mine not long ago to fashion an emergency cream-cheese-and-bagel sandwich while stranded in post-Thanksgiving traffic a long way from home.

I may give some of these thingamajigs as stocking stuffers this year. You can spend a pile of money and even buy accessory kits with additional bits, but you can also get the basic knockoff multitool for about $10 and do most of the same jobs.

And I can tell you right now: If the Handy Andy company comes out with a multitool model, I'm going to buy a box of 'em. Let's see, I need one for my desk at work, one for the lawnmower, one to hang on the refrigerator handle. . . .

Jack Betts is an Observer associate editor based in Raleigh

Paper: Charlotte Observer, The (NC)
Date: December 13, 1998
Page: 1C

Venerable, but entirely useful
P-38 now classified as a 'weapon'

Veterans take note. If you are like me, you may soon lose an "old friend" if you plan to travel on an airline.

When I was looking to buy a new truck the other day, one of the salespersons told me one of the jobs she held prior to selling cars was a security guard or screener at the local airport.

She told me this because I had handed her my keys to appraise my truck and she had noticed on my key ring a P-38 can opener I had since Vietnam.

"You know," she said, "at the airport they confiscate these."

I exclaimed loudly, "what! You've got to be kidding, right?"

She replied, "No it's considered a 'weapon.'"

She also informed me that if you wanted to wait in line for two hours or more they might be a way to check it in, but if you wanted to make your plane on time, you just gave it up.

The P-38 can opener was developed in 1942 by the Army as a means for troops in the field to open cans. Later they developed a P-51, a larger version for cooks in the field to open cans when a conventional can opener was not available. Some people associate the P-38 with the twin tail fighter used in World War II, or a German handgun. But if you were a GI you knew which one they were talking about.

To the GI the P-38 was one of the most essential tools you could have in the field. If you could hold onto your weapon and your P-38 you had a good chance to survive anything.

My first experience with the P-38 can opener was at Fort Dix, N.J. New Jersey is known as the Garden State, however if you were at Ft. Dix for basic training, you thought other than gardens. I remember getting a box of C-rations, they were ham and lima beans, not exactly a good choice, but if you got lucky it usually came with the pound cake which out in the field you could trade for anything. When I got my C-rations I pulled out a can and said, "What the heck are we suppose to do with this?"

The drill sergeant became very concerned (they had an unusual way of expressing that concern starting with yelling and screaming why us lower than life trainees were never going to make in combat ) and came over to us and threw down this small brown package to the three of us and said, "Here, this is what you use if you want to eat, if you can't figure it out you'll starve in the field."

The package continued the P-38 opener with directions on the back, "open blade shown in diagram, twist down and puncture and continue advancing, after use sterilize." Yeah, right! I looked at the diagram and thought they must crazy! But with some practice and about 20 minutes of swearing, my buddies and I opened the cans. We were hungry and started eating the food right away, something we found the Army likes you to do -- eat cold food. During basic and advance training (mine as a medic) we became very proficient at opening cans with the P-38.

In Vietnam the P-38 was an essential tool, you used it for opening C-rations, or those cans of ravioli that my aunt sent me. I used it as a letter opener and all-around tool. I even heard stories of the P-38 being used by medics as an emergency surgical instrument to save lives though I can't attest to having seen this.

When I arrived in Vietnam in 1970 I found myself without a P-38 I had left mine behind at Fort Sam Houston. The first time in the field I was given a new one, there was always some dozen or so in each case of C-rations, that was to be mine for years to come. I put it on my key ring with one of my dog tags and it remains there today. I have used it at work and home and still to this day find people fascinated when I open a can in a matter of minutes before their eyes with this little miracle tool.

The Army doesn't issue P-38s any more as Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) in plastic packages have replaced the can. But nothing would replace the P-38, and no GI would be caught without one in the field.

I'm sure like other veterans out there that there are many today have on their key ring a dog tag and a P-38.

I thought about whether I would relinquish my P-38 to an airport screener and lose this memory forever. The answer: "They can get my P-38 when they pry my cold dead fingers from it," or maybe I'll just leave it at home.

Title: Venerable, but entirely useful P-38 now classified as a 'weapon'
Paper: Union Leader, The (Manchester, NH)
Date: August 1, 2002
Page: d12


There may be no more efficient, compact can opener on the planet than the inch-long military-issue P-38 model. Though it weighs about as much as a dime, it's foolproof and more effective than many kitchen can openers. Perfect for picnickers, backpackers and travelers.

Title: Ganga
Paper: The Arizona Daily Star
Date: July 16, 1999
Page: 6E


There are no spoils of war as Operation Enduring Freedom sweeps through a devastated Afghanistan on its quest for the elusive Osama bin Laden.

But here on the homefront, we've got boxes of booty. Airport searches of carry-on bags and people are turning up an alarming amount of contraband - most of it property of ignorant or forgetful passengers who mean no harm when they mistakenly try to carry on nail files, pocket knives, ski poles, golf clubs, scissors and such.

"There are many people and many stories," said Brenda Geoghagan, director of public information for the Tampa International Airport, where our subject's story begins on his way home from last Sunday's Chicago Bears game in Florida.

An airport guard confiscated a tiny, Army-issued can opener that the man had carried for 34 of his 56 years, from the war in Vietnam to his home in Arlington Heights.

The metal opener, nicknamed a P-38 in part because of the 38 punctures needed for it to open a can of C-rations, had been clipped to his key chain since he came home from the war. About the size of a postage stamp, the P-38 is less threatening than an ink pen. So is its mild-mannered owner, who suggests he couldn't intimidate anybody even if he had been toting an M-16 rifle.

"I got on the plane in Chicago two days earlier, no problems," said the man, who has lugged his war souvenir on three business flights since Sept. 11.

The connection between the man and his P-38 is simply time. The can opener doesn't figure in the Purple Heart he was awarded, never stopped a bullet, has never even been used - except, perhaps, for that Thanksgiving when the mess hall line for turkey and fixings was so long, and he and his buddies opted for a holiday feast of canned spaghetti instead. It isn't important to him, really.

"But," the man said, "it's a part of me."

The guard who declared it a "restricted article" would have let him step out of line and zip back into the terminal in search of an envelope and stamps so he could mail it back to Arlington Heights. Or he could have stuck the P-38 in his laptop computer bag and checked that as a piece of last-minute luggage.

Not wanting to endure the hassle required to mail it, or turn over his computer, he surrendered his trusty can opener.

"When it was gone, I'm thinking it wasn't that I lost something of value or substance," said this man, on the verge of an epiphany of sorts. "People keep saying that 'life is different' after Sept. 11. But my life wasn't much different. Then I lost something I've had for all these years, and it struck me that this is what is different.

"It's stupid, but it's just a feeling that something is different," he said.

"I've always had this thing, and I don't anymore."

"It's sitting in the Amnesty Box," sighs Geoghagan of the Tampa airport.

"Once it goes in the box, that's it. At the end of the month, that goes to the local sheriff's office for incineration.

"We collected 14,000 items for the month of October (compared to a pre-Sept. 11 high of 41 items in a year), and we've had people call us and e-mail us, and they're not getting it back," Geoghagan said sadly, empathizing with this guy's plight.

But every war has stories of unexpected kindness from strangers, and this one comes from Lt. Kevin Perridge of the Tampa airport police.

"I found it," said Perridge, who plucked the can opener from a cache of lighters and other contraband before they got dumped in the general Amnesty Box.

The grateful owner feels a tad sheepish about willingly letting his P-38 get away, only to see a police officer go beyond the call of duty to rescue the little scrap of metal.

"These people fought for our country," explained Perridge, adding that he popped the can opener in a padded envelope and slipped it in the mail.

The wayward P-38 should be reunited with its owner as early as today.

Unless, of course, the package is confiscated by anthrax-wary postal inspectors.

Title: In the big picture after September 11, the smallest things
still matter
Paper: Daily Herald
Date: November 24, 2001
Section: News
Page: 9


What's for chow?, asks this MarineLt. Col David Cahn, USMC

We are taking the war to the enemy throughout the day and night. So here I am again in the hours of darkness gainfully employed in the Iraq Theater. Even Marines need chow, and I believe it's now that time. The provisions are actually pretty good here, but nothing like the cuisine from the eateries of NYC.

U.S. fighting forces are famous for their massive supply trains and reinforcement capabilities. This war is no different. In the current environment, water is just as important as the beans, and, of course, bullets and bandages must never be forgotten. We are now bringing so much good chow and water forward that no matter how active we are or how hot it is, we all may need to acquire bigger uniforms.

My first encounter with military chow occurred at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. Notice I said "encounter," in lieu of taste. Charm, ambience and appetizers do not readily come to mind. "PI" was my first introduction to combat rations.

When I first joined our beloved corps, the official name of the commercially prepared combat rations was "The Meal, Combat Individual." The Meal, Combat Individual actually replaced the older C-Rations, however to the person in the field, the term never changed. This fully edible sustenance also claimed the title C-Rats, Rats or just Cs.

Cs contained far more nutrients than was normally required. Each complete meal contained approximately 1,200 calories, with a usual issue of three per day. Twelve different meals were issued in cardboard boxes.

From what I remember, each meal contained one canned entree, such as beef steak, ham and eggs chopped, ham slices, turkey loaf, spaghetti and meatballs, beans and wieners processed cheese spread, peanut butter or jam and the an accessory packet.

The accessory packet contained a toothpick, chewing gum, toilet paper, instant coffee, plastic spoon, matches,and cigarettes. Four can openers were included in each case of Cs. The can openers, also called "P-38s" and "John Waynes," had high value in the field. Those in the know kept a John Wayne attached to their dog tag chain and a spoon always ready in their breast pocket.

The meals could be consumed cold but were more palatable when heated. Cs were heated with heat tabs issued separately and when available. The heat tab coupled with a used c-rat can with holes cut in it and a canteen cup created a field stove for all climes and places.

The American fighters of yesteryear did not have a personal chef, but they did have their imagination. The standard variations left alone quickly became tiresome, but combined together, with tabasco sauce or other type of seasoning, chow time seemed much more edible.

Modern battlefield demands, coupled with passionate research and product development, evolved into what is today considered to be the finest operational ration in the world, the Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE). Each meal is jam packed with enough vitamins and nutrients for a week. Easy to carry in its sturdy pouches, compact, lighter in weight and nutritional, MREs replaced Cs in the early 1980s.

Since its inception, the MRE has been under constant improvement. Each meal still contains 1,200 calories each, but, believe it or not, major customer focus improvements have been realized. Improvements have been made in variety, suitability, consumption, nutritional intake, ease of opening and self-heating ability.

MREs still come in 12-pack cartons, and even the carton is now easier to open. No more wires or metal bands to break, just strong glue to unseal. Like the Cs, three MREs are usually issued per day. The good taste of the MREs can be derived from chicken in Thai-style sauce, minestrone stew, chicken breast fillet with rib meat, jambalaya, enchilada, chicken nuggets, mesquite chicken breast, beef steak with mushroom gravy or a myriad of new and improved ingredients under development.

Some MREs now offer wheat snack bread, pound cake or toaster pastry. Even the crackers have been modernized with the addition of crackers and vegetable. In addition, a high-energy, nutrition-dense snack called HOOAH bars have been added.

MREs also include processed cheese, peanut butter or jelly spread desert powdered beverages, a plastic spoon, an accessory packet containing salt, sugar, tea or coffee packet, cream substitute, toilet paper, matches, chewing gum, moist towelette and a small bottle of tabasco sauce. Some meals even include a nut raisin mix, my favorite trail food.

In the field, a hot meal used to be a luxury. Even in the desert hot meals are a good thing.

When time permits, hot meals are now standard procedures. Science has left the heat tab behind and replaced it with a flameless ration heater (FRH).

Modern science, isn't it wonderful?

We still swap our meals with each other and trash what we can't trade. We don't combine our meals near as much as we used to. Maybe it's because we don't wear steel helmets that can be doubled as cooking pots. Most likely it's because we can so easily heat our improved and better tasting individual meals.

When in a fighting hole, you constantly improve upon it. Like a fighting hole, they will constantly seek to improve our rations. Maybe next time we open a MRE, we will see a quarter-pounder, soft drink and fries on the side, and that may even happen before I get back to New York.

"Hey, Marine, pass the ketchup."

The writer, of Monsey, is a Marine Corps reservist on active duty currently serving with Central Command Public Affairs forward.

Paper: Journal News, The (Westchester County, NY)
Date: April 23, 2003
Page: 4B


Fort Hood, Texas -- Kenwaski Robinson will carry pictures of his mom and sisters back home in Atlanta.

The snapshots will accompany an M-16 rifle with laser scope and ammo magazines, a bayonet, a gas mask, body armor, packaged food, chewing gum, bootlaces, kneepads, earplugs, lip balm, baby wipes and other essentials of modern battle.

''I pack a lot of socks,'' said Robinson, 19, a private first class who expects to deploy to the Iraqi war zone within days with the 4th Infantry Division. ''Being in the infantry, you've got to take care of your feet.''

That commandment remains as ironclad today as it was more than three decades ago, when Tim O'Brien chronicled the paraphernalia of U.S. foot soldiers in Vietnam in his story ''The Things They Carried.''

''Among the necessities or near necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wrist watches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C-rations and two or three canteens of water,'' O'Brien wrote.

For infantrymen, every ounce counts.

''Just the essentials'' is the gospel of the men of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

Those essentials include ''baby wipes and dip'' for Staff Sgt. Miguel de Los Santos, who packs a pinch of Skoal smokeless tobacco in his cheek and a couple of tins in his rucksack.

De Los Santos, 32, of San Marcos, Texas, carries an M-4 carbine, which is a bit shorter than an M-16, equipped with a laser sight and illuminator. His ''basic load'' is 210 rounds of ammunition.

''But in combat, we carry as much as we can,'' said 1st Sgt. Jaime Garza Jr.

The necessities change from generation to generation of the fighting soldiers known as ''grunts.''

''I'm taking my CD player and my Game Boy and some playing cards. You've gotta try to stay sane'' during down periods, said Esequiel Salcedo, 20.

''I like oldies and rap -- Eminem,'' said Salcedo, who is from San Diego. He also ''humps'' a Javelin anti-armor weapon that weighs about 55 pounds, including its missile.

The first aid kit attached to Derek Stevens' vest strap is marked ''A+'' -- his blood type. Stevens, 20, a rifleman from West Virginia, will hump a CD player. ''I'm a country guy. I like Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney.''

What about the Dixie Chicks' current hit, ''Traveling Soldier''?

''That's a good song,'' said Stevens.

''I'm a metalhead,'' said Sgt. Carl Lawrence, a medic from Batesville, Ark., who will go into battle aboard what he describes as ''a big, clanky, noisy, tracked, armored ambulance.'' He's condensing favorite CDs into tape cassettes of ''hard rock and roll'' from groups like Metallica -- ''everything upbeat, nothing slow.''

The 4th Infantry Division issued a packing list of minimal needs: six sets of brown T-shirts and undershorts, one Gore-Tex jacket, protective suits and overshoes and gloves and decontamination kits and other gear in case of nuclear, biological or chemical attack, sleeping bag and mat, sewing kit, weapons cleaning kit, foot powder, canteens, sunscreen and more packed in two duffel bags and a rucksack.

''It's weight we don't mind carrying,'' said Garza, 34, from Roma, Texas. As the company's top sergeant, with nearly 16 years in the Army, he makes sure the troops have packed the right gear.

He will carry a camera himself, along with ''a lot of wipes and lickies and chewies.''

Title: Soldiers pack what they deem essential
Paper: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
Date: February 24, 2003
Page: A5


The intersection of Highlands Ranch Parkway and Highlands Ranch Boulevard bespeaks the pain of lives cut short.

Within hours of the April 7 car accident that took the lives of 17-year-old Brian Kendall and 16-year-old David Burney, teen-agers began congregating at the fatal corner, leaving flowers, poems, pictures and other mementos near a heavy wooden cross.Like other spontaneous shrines that pop up at the sites of tragedy, it will be a hallowed site temporarily, much like the fence surrounding the site of the Oklahoma City explosion and the Place de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, where Princess Diana was fatally injured. By unspoken agreement, it will be untouched for some time, then gradually taken down - possibly to return on the anniversary of the accident or other special days in the lives of the people involved.

Experts say such roadside shrines and other scene-of-the-crime memorials are multiplying. And as they become increasingly common, the rules of etiquette regarding these informal but very public lamentations are evolving.

``Spontaneous memorials are not constrained by culturally based norms,'' says C. Allen Haney, a sociologist at the University of Houston who has studied such shrines and views them as an emerging cultural phenomenon. Some people cry at shrines. Others take pictures or sing. Others leave mementos.

The sites draw mourners who feel the need for some alternative way to express their sorrow, he says. And visiting the site where blood was spilled seems somehow more powerful than going to a parklike cemetery.

``I won't say it's disenchantment with traditional religious services,'' Haney says. ``But traditional rituals last only so long as they serve their purpose. New rituals emerge when people need them.''

In an age of public deaths, the circumstances of which are known far beyond the family circle, those touched by the death - regardless of whether they actually knew the deceased - need an outlet.

``Spontaneous memorials extend the focus beyond the victim and family,'' Haney says. ``They include what we call the disenfranchised mourner . . . People are trying to express their connectedness to the deceased but are using non-traditional methods.''

The mementos visitors leave may be personally meaningful to them but incomprehensible to anyone else, Haney says.

Haney, for example, always leaves a P-38 - a can-opener issued to soldiers for their field rations - when he visits the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. ``It's because the guy I leave it for was always asking to borrow mine,'' he says. ``By another name, I've left cigarettes because that guy was always bumming from me.''

``The Wall,'' as it's called, has generated so many mini-memorials that the U.S. Park Service collects the items twice a day and catalogs them, in hopes of one day incorporating them into a museum.

Haney bears no illusions that his friends receive these gifts and somehow open a meal or light up a smoke on some otherworldly battlefield. The benefit of leaving these tokens is solely for him. ``When I'm going to the Wall, I get a lump in my throat,'' he says, ``but when I walk away, I'm smiling.''

Peter Poses, a Denver grief counselor, says the objects people leave behind at shrines are actually attempts at creating containers for feelings of loss and sadness.

``Stuffed animals are interesting to me,'' Poses says. ``Generally speaking, they represent to people transitional objects - the way people make themselves feel secure, feel at home away from home.

``A classic example is Linus' blanket. It's significant in that without it, people go into madness. Like when Lucy buries the blanket or it gets washed, Linus goes crazy. In one sense, leaving behind a stuffed animal represents an attempt to contain the madness of the situation.''

While roadside shrines and other spontaneous memorials are becoming more commonplace, they're especially prevalent in most of the South and in heavily Hispanic areas, he says.

They are virtually unheard of in Florida and in Hawaii, where state highway officials have deemed roadside shrines traffic hazards and take them down as soon as they appear, Haney says.

Paper: Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Date: April 22, 1998
Page: 8D


We're seeing a lot of young, homeless people and we have so little to give them.''

Volunteer Brendan ''Brandy'' Wiener, 69,(age) has become an authority on this as a front desk regular at Northwest Harvest's Cherry Street headquarters.Because most homeless people have no place to cook, they have to have food which can be eaten directly from the container.

''I remember when we had supplies enough to give these people a can of tuna, a can of pork and beans, some baked goods, a candy bar,'' Wiener said recently. ''Now we have maybe enough to provide a sack of popcorn and a can of whatever is available that day.''

Post-Intelligencer readers can help see to it that Northwest Harvest has more food in stock tomeless.

The P-I Readers Care Action Fund gives money to Northwest Harvest and three other organizations which assist the less fortunate.

Northwest Harvest distributes food to 200-plus food banks in 33 counties, including more than 40 in King County plus another 22 county meal programs. The other beneficiaries of the P-I's holiday fund are Forgotten Children's Fund, which provides toys, food and clothing to needy youngsters and senior citizens; Aid to the Aging, a program run by the local Red Cross chapter to help the elderly; and the Variety Club's Sunshine Coach program, which buys vans for non-profit agencies which transport handicapped and underprivileged children.

As Wiener has learned, some homeless people don't even have a can opener to open the cans of food they do receive.

Temporarily, at least, he's solved that problem at Northwest Harvest headquarters with his own money.

''Remember those old military can openers, P-38's they're called,'' he said, reaching into a nearby drawer to display one, about the size of a half- dollar. ''We keep them around to give to those who need them because the homeless usually need the food right now.''

He discovered a ready supply of P-38s at a downtown Army-Navy surplus store and buys them out of his own pocket with the explanation, ''It's not my money. It's God's money.''

But Wiener would never have been part of Northwest Harvest's operation had it not been for an estate tax problem after the death of his second wife.

''I did my own estate research at the Renton library, argued my own case before the judge and was awarded the tax money,'' he said. ''We were only talking about $700 - not worth enough to hire an attorney - but the whole procedure made me so mad that I decided beforehand if I won, I'd give the money to a food bank.''

That is exactly what Wiener did.

Upon receiving a check for the taxes, he drove to Northwest Harvest, which he had read about it in a newspaper. He was met at the door by Executive Director Ruth Sterling, endorsed the check ''In loving memory of my wife Irmagard'' and presented it to Sterling.

But Sterling didn't let Wiener get off that easy.

''She asked me if I would like to work as a volunteer, and that got me started 18 months ago,'' he admitted. ''I didn't think I'd be here that long.''

A retired body-and-fender painter, Wiener is no stranger to need and problems. He helped raise eight children and he freely admits that there were ''bad times'' when he drank, kept changing jobs and even had to use the Millionair Club for free meals.

''In those days, I could always find another job in my line of work,'' he said. ''Now it's different. The jobs aren't out there, and the numbers of hungry I see keep increasing. Most are good people who just want work.''

Then he smiled and concluded, ''I enjoy doing this. It gives me something to do, two or three days a week. I'm fortunate Ruth Sterling was at the door when I arrived with that check.''

Paper: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: November 17, 1986
Section: News
Page: D1


Every year, the third Saturday in May is Armed Forces Day. The occasion is not a legal or a public holiday, but rather a spontaneous recognition of the men and women who serve in the armed services. The day is an opportunity to acknowledge each branch of the armed services and its specific participation, past and present, in maintaining the strength and readiness of our national security and the cause of freedom throughout the world.

Naturally, over the years, a number of changes have occurred in every branch of the armed services as new technology has been assimilated and accommodations made for the ever-changing world.

Despite all of these changes, however, nothing has remained more central to the strength of all of the armed services than the three square meals served every day. Although having the opportunity to eat military food is not generally thought of as the reason one joins the service, good and plentiful food is the expectation.

I remember when my brother, while serving in the Air Force, was transferred from McDill Air Force Base in Florida to the base on Shemya, Alaska. An information brochure describing the Alaskan island included a guarantee that "behind every tree is a beautiful woman; however, there are no trees!" But during the time my brother was there, he never complained about the food.

"Chow" time for Army, Navy and the Air Force members deployed in the field has been known by many to consist of everything from C-rations of creamed beef in a can, also known as "Same Old Stuff" (SOS), to the current MRE (meals ready-to-eat), entire meals vacuum-packed in plastic containers. This innovation eliminates the need for the p-38, the trusty can opener, which accompanied every can of SOS.

The present-day meal on the front line may consist of main dishes like pork chops, lasagna, chicken, ham, omelets and eggs. This is in contrast to the infamous C-rations of World War II and Vietnam, which were most often made up of canned meat, beans, cake, candy and cigarettes.

MREs replaced the memorable C-rations in the 1980s. In addition to the main dish, vegetables, fruit, chocolate that doesn't melt and a traypack with fork, spoon, matches and toilet paper is now included. Some MREs also contain 1-ounce packets of Tabasco, a pleasant sight for the enlisted men and women who miss this favorite condiment while deployed overseas. Cigarettes are no longer provided. What's more, smoking is prohibited in any military building and vehicle. It is allowed in designated outdoor areas only.

I talked with Senior Airman Glenn Gilbert, presently a shift leader in the Desert Inn Dining Room at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. He was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm from August 1990 to March 1991.

He was a member of the food service team which, along with civil engineers, was the first to arrive and last to leave Saudi Arabia. Gilbert and fellow military personnel turned an empty desert location into a full kitchen set-up, complete with gas ovens, steam tables and dining hall.

Gilbert says the troops ate very well while participating in Desert Storm. Although the mess and dining hall were completely tented, troops occasionally had to enjoy their steak and lobster dinners, which were served several times, with a dusting of sand provided by the environment.

There, with a touch of sand, the troops also enjoyed Same Old Stuff, chicken, seafood, salads, omelets to order, bacon, sausage and other familiar foods (except for pizza) that are served at home base.

Four months into Desert Storm, Hardee's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut set up a building, making their specialties available for purchase by the men and women serving there.

The base commander kept the troops' spirits up once a month by having a major Saudi hotel feed them filet mignon or a barbecue, served in the same fashion as commercial airline food is presented.

In the last month of the operation, in a gesture of good will, the chefs from the Italian Air Force prepared an Italian feast for 6,000 American troops. They created spaghetti with white, red and clam sauces, and even filled the juice dispensers with red wine.

Closer to home, at the Desert Inn Dining Hall at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the men and women also eat well. Meals are served four times daily, including one from 11 p.m. to midnight, with brunches on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The dining area has the ambience of an attractive coffee shop or family restaurant.

Salad and sandwich bars are piled high with interesting choices and the steam tables feature different, hot main-dish selections every day. Wednesday menus reflect ethnic and regional favorites with specialties created by military cooks with Italian, Mexican, German, Hawaiian, Cajun or Southern backgrounds.

You might be pleased to know that KP (kitchen police) in the military is no longer legal. The enlisted men and women no longer wash dishes, peel potatoes or scrub floors. These chores are now performed by outside, contract providers.

Master Sgt. Annie Atkins, food services superintendent at Davis-Monthan, said that there is one "healthy heart" choice out of the three main dishes served each mealtime at the base. One "healthy heart" starch and vegetable are also provided. Atkins also said that any ground beef served contains 20 percent or less fat and all hamburgers are broiled, not grilled.

Vince DiRenzo, food services officer at Davis-Monthan, reports that bacon is now oven-fried to cut down on fats in the diet of the airmen and airwomen. He also says that Italian, Mexican and fast foods still remain the favorites at the Desert Inn. One thousand men and women are currently fed there each day.

If the patriotic spirit of Armed Forces Day moves you and the chow that's served up sounds good, you may want to give your local recruiter a call. Or if you would prefer to try military food in the comfort of your own home, here are some recipes for you to consider.

For the benefit of you veterans, included is the recipe for SOS - in case you have missed it over the years!

The following recipes were reduced from high volume yields as served in the Desert Inn Dining Room at Davis-Monthan by Tech Sgt. Paul Tucker, NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge).

Same Old Stuff (SOS)(Creamed ground beef) 2 pounds lean ground beef 1/2 cup diced onions 1 cup flour Salt, black pepper to taste 6 cups milk

In a frying pan on top of the stove or in the microwave oven, cook beef until it is no longer pink. Drain fat. Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and cook about 5 minutes or until flour is absorbed.

Stir in milk to cooked beef mixture. Heat to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until thickened. Serve hot over toast points, hot Chinese noodles, or biscuits. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

You may want to reduce the ingredients in the following recipe by 1/2 or 2/3 to suit your needs. Or, make a whole recipe and freeze some of the mixture, raw or cooked, for later use.

Beef porcupines 3 cups long grain rice, cooked and cooled 4 pounds lean ground beef 1/2 cup minced onion 1/2 cup fresh sweet peppers 6 eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce 1 teaspoon salt12-ounce can tomato paste 4 cups hot water

Thoroughly combine cooled rice with raw ground beef, onions, sweet peppers, eggs, garlic, Worchestershire sauce and salt. Do not overmix. Shape into balls weighing about 3 2/3-ounces each. Place in baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 minutes or until brown. Drain or skim off excess fat.

In a 2- or 4-cup glass measure or bowl, combine tomato paste and hot water. Pour over browned ground beef balls in pan. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until done. Makes about 12 to 16 servings.

O'Brien potatoes 1 pound fresh sweet peppers, minced 1 ounce oil 1/2 cup canned pimientos, drained and minced Hot oil for frying 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes Salt, black pepper to taste

In a frying pan, saut peppers in oil until tender. Stir in pimientos; saut until heated through. Keep hot.

In several inches of hot oil in a deep fryer or deep pan, fry potatoes for 7 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Drain well in basket or on absorbent paper. Combine vegetables with potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir lightly but thoroughly. Serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Kazaros is a Tucson microwave cooking authority. Do you have a question about microwave cooking? Please send it to Kathryn W. Kazaros, The Arizona Daily Star, Box 26807, Tucson 85726. For a personal reply, please send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope.

Title: Military chow Ten-shun! It's come a long way, plus KP's kaput
Paper: The Arizona Daily Star
Date: May 13, 1992


From World War II to Vietnam and battles in between, soldiers ate C-rations. Today, American military forces in the field rely on MREs (meal, ready-to-eat, individual).

Developed in the late 1970s and first used in the early 1980s, these shelf-stable field rations represent an improvement over the canned rations (known in military speak as C-rations) in several important respects.

The phrase "eat and run" takes on added meaning when you're in combat. Packaged in flat plastic pouches, MREs are lighter, less noisy and easier to pack than canned meals and don't require a can opener (Army-issue P-38). In short, MREs are convenient to eat on the move.

But even in combat, taste counts for something. We assembled a panel of veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Central America to taste MREs and compare them to their memories of C-rations.

Their verdict: not much different, although the lighter, quieter packaging is a significant improvement. Overall, the panel rated them good - for field rations.

Michael Turner, 42, a Vietnam-era Army vet, said: "The main thing is that I don't taste all the preservatives (as in the canned rations). This tastes like what it is, except for the chicken-and-ham loaf."

Richard E. Carey, 62, with Marine combat experience in Korea and Vietnam, called MREs "more field-expedient, but not as good as C-rations."

Turner remembers one of the worst things about field cuisine in Vietnam: "Looking on the box and seeing the date, 1942." During his tour in Southeast Asia, Turner ate rations packaged two decades earlier.

Then, as now, field rations are made to last. The shelf life for MREs: from three years to eternity, depending on the conditions. Flavor and texture decline after 36 months, but they are considered safe to eat as long as the package remains sealed, according to U.S. Army Major Frank Takacs, a military sustenance expert at Fort Lee, Va.

They are designed to be placed in hot (140-degree) water - a helmetful will do - before eating. They can, of course, be opened and eaten straight from the packet, without heating, or soldiers can add a little hot water directly to the packets.

The veterans' entrees were heated with the addition of boiling water; they did not heat evenly. Although the conditions were not the same as combat, the meals didn't get the gourmet treatment, either.

Appearance is not a positive factor for MREs. "Tastes better than it looks," and

"Looks like dog food," were frequent comments during the tasting. But presentation isn't a high priority in the field.

Each meal comes in a sturdy, brown polyurethane bag. Slit it open and you find several airtight bags. One contains an entree such as chicken a la king or ground beef with spicy sauce. These are to be heated, if possible.

The other bags are side items, such as peanut butter and crackers, applesauce, drink mix and dessert. A similar accessory packet holds plastic utensils, instant coffee, gum, matches and toilet paper. Sometimes a tiny jar of hot pepper sauce is included, although those at the tasting didn't have this addition.

"They (the manufacturers) really should put a packet of Tabasco in it," said Turner, who recalled hot sauce as being one of the more precious items he received from home. "You can eat anything with Tabasco on it."

Some reports from Saudi Arabia say MREs are meeting with such approval that soldiers pass up local versions of American fast food offered by generous Saudis. So much for living off the land.

The desert offers fewer indigenous sources of food than American combat troops have found in other war zones. "That's one thing these guys are up against that we weren't," said Turner. "In Vietnam, you could always get rice and water." He recalls swapping C-rations for rice and bananas.

What the military calls "foraging" sometimes means eating fresh. Carey said that during a two-week period of heavy combat in Korea he lived on Tootsie Rolls because his unit was cut off from supplies.

"If we found food, we couldn't eat it. It was frozen," he said.

The Korean winter was especially hard on troops. But at other times, he remembers shooting wild game, such as deer, rabbit and pheasant, to augment field rations.

Tasting the franks and baked beans in the MREs, the veterans agreed that beans and wieners were, and probably always will be, a troop favorite. "People would kill over beanie-weanies," said Don Black, 48, a Marine corporal who served in Cuba and Central America.

Popular though they may be, MREs with beans carry cautionary labeling: "Not for pre-flight or in-flight use." That's because of the gastric distress beans sometimes cause.

Forrest Sparkman, a World War II Army veteran, vividly recalls field rations in North Africa and Sicily when he sampled the ham omelet. He judged the MRE version much better than powdered eggs.

"They were the worst,' Sparkman said.

One particular side item, peaches, suffered in the transition from alphabet rations to acronym. Now dehydrated, peaches require the addition of water. The texture is different.

"I used to love the peaches and pound cake," said Norman Whitlow, 47, an Air Force sergeant who served in Vietnam. The dried peaches didn't get as soft as canned peaches, and they aren't as sweet, according to the tasters.

The tasting panel isn't alone in its disdain for the dried peaches, which are scheduled to be replaced by wet-pack fruits on MREs sometime soon.

You don't have to ship out to Saudi Arabia to eat like the troops. MREs are sold at Army-Navy surplus stores. Campers and survivalists are the main market. Adventurous eaters can even try some C-rations. Out of style but not out of date, they're also sold in surplus stores.

Title: MREs - the latest in combat cuisine
Paper: Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL)
Date: January 9, 1991
Page: C1


The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter made its first flight in 1958 -- the same year Barbie made her debut and the hula hoop became a national craze.Battleships aim their massive 16-inch guns with a mechanical targeting system designed before World War I. And Iraq's Republican Guards are being pounded by B-52G bombers that joined the Air Force inventory when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. Such weapons are the flip side of the Persian Gulf's high-tech war. The much-publicized Laser-guided "smart bombs' and Tomahawk cruise missiles may have brought Nintendo and Star Wars to the battlefield, but the military holdovers of past wars still deliver. "The military is generally conservative in the sense that they want to have weapons on hand that are known to be effective,' said Art Blair, deputy director of the Mosher Institute for Defense Studies at Texas A&M University. "And they often wou ld rather improve on what they have than take a chance on a revolutionary change.' One motiva! tion for the political and military hyping of the war's high-tech successes is to keep congressional funding from drying up.

Yet older weapons have their own allure as military budgets shrink and the cost of developing new weapons soars.

In some cases, Dr. Blair said, "It may cost less to upgrade what you've got.' And in other cases, the old war horses keep on fighting simply because their high-tech successors haven't proved up to the task.

Conspicuously absent from the Persian Gulf is the sophisticated but problem-plagued B-1 bomber, which until recently was grounded by the Air Force. The B-2 Stealth bomber remains under development, its progress hampered by political concern over its immense cost -- nearly $1 billion a copy.

Meanwhile, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the one-time frontline strategic bomber last produced in 1962, is earning new accolades for its ability to drop massive quantities of bombs on Iraqi defenses.

It's dropping bombs whose basic design hasn't changed since just after World War II. Basically iron cylinders filled with explosives, they rely on gravity and a good aim to hit the target. - "When you're dropping bombs in mass on an open area, it's a hell of a lot more efficient if you just drop the standard iron bombs,' said Capt. Rick Lehner, an Air Force spokesman in Washington. "So you have an old bomber, old bombs, and they're doing a really good job.' Using smart bombs for the same task, he added, would be "very ineffective in terms of, primarily, money.' The older bombs cost a fraction of their smarter cousins.

The B-52 is not the only U.S. military aircraft that is aging, if not aged.

The Air Force's fleet of General Dynamics F-111 bombers are 15 to 25 years old. The McDonnell Douglas EF-4E Phantoms used by the Air Force's "Wild Weasels,' which specialize in knocking out enemy missile sites, evolved from a 1950s design.

The Lockheed AC-130 gunship earned a lethal reputation over Vietnam. Some U.S. troops still fly Vietnam-vintage Bell Cobra helicopter gunships and Huey transports. The CH-46 Sea Knight that transported Marines into combat in the early years of that war will serve the same function in the gulf in a Marine assault. And the Navy's Grumman A-6 Intruder attack plane began entering service in the early '60s.

While they make look the same, most vintage military aircraft carry upgraded weaponry and electronic countermeasures. "The A-6A that rolled off the assembly line and into the fleet 27-28 years ago on the outside looks very much like the A-6 that's leaving the decks of the carriers in the gulf or the Red Sea today,' said Lt. Dave Wray, a Navy spokesman in Washington. "But on the inside, they're years and miles and leagues apart.' Translating that modern technology into wholly new weapons sometimes can be more difficult. On the eve of the war, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney cited cost overruns and delays and canceled the A-12 stealth attack plane that was to replace the A-6. At the time the A-6 was delivered, Lt. Wray noted, "We were developing several new airplanes per year -- and now we're lucky if we're working on one a year. One of the changes that has evolved of necessity is that we look at an airplane in terms of how are we going to make this system grow beyond its ini! tial limits.' Often, the military sticks with what works. For example, Navy ships are equipped both with modern communication systems and "sound-powered phones' in use since World War II. Lt. Wray said they're "almost as simple as stretching a string between two cans.' Even if a ship loses electrical power, different sections still can communicate.

Some of the oldest weapons on duty in the Persian Gulf reflect a melding of the old and the new.

The USS Missouri served the nation in World War II. Gen. Douglas McArthur accepted Japan's surrender on deck. With its sister ship, the USS Wisconsin, the Missouri is now battering Iraqi targets with its massive 16-inch guns. Lt. Wray noted that the analog computer used to aim the guns was designed before World War I. "You take a modern computer that could do the same thing . . . and the shock of firing the guns would probably scramble it,' he said. But the battleship also carries state-of-the-a rt weaponry, including Tomahawk cruise missiles and radio-controlled drone planes, which use video cameras to help direct the big guns' fire. In some cases, the Navy also has spurned the new and gone back to - the basics. "Clothing has changed a great deal, not by design but by fabric,' Lt. Wray said. "We went from cotton to polyester and back to cotton because we discovered . . . polyester tends to melt to your body when it gets hot.' Similarly, the Navy returned to leather shoes af! ter issuing footwe ar made from Corafam, a synthetic material. The fire aboard the Navy frigate Stark -- caused by an Iraqi-fired Exocet missile that killed 37 sailors in 1987 -- prompted the change. "One of the lessons we learned is that when you're fighting a fire, Coraf am shoes . . . melt to your feet and cause severe burns,' Lt. Wray said.

Much of the weaponry and equipment used by the Army and Marines has logged years of service.

The Colt M-16A1 rifle, the standard infantry rifle for Army soldiers and Marines, was first issued in the mid-1960s. It is being replaced by a model modified in the early 1980s.

Marines are rumbling over the dunes in M-60A1 tanks that entered service in 1960. M-109 self-propelled howitzers, perhaps the most widely used weapon of its type in the world, came on line two years later.

The Army fields a dizzying array of armored and support vehicles that have served their country for decades. "It's almost like the car market,' said Faith Faircloth, a spokewoman with the U.S. Army Materiel Command. "You used to be able to say that's a Ford and that's a Chevy. But now it seems there are 50,000 configurations.' Production of the M-60 "general purpose' machine gun, which has some striking similarities to a World WarGerman machine gun, began in 1959. The .50 caliber M2 Heavy Barr el machine gun, a design developed for the Army in the early 1930s, has yet to retire from the battlefield.

The origins of the Colt .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol go back to pre-WWI jungle fighting in the Philippines. It is still carried as a sidearm.

Many ground weapons are newer but employ time-tested technology. "The mortar hasn't changed that much,' said Marine Chief Warrant Officer Randy Gaddo. "It's still a tube that you drop a rocket into.

It goes "poof' and it's gone.' Much of what the infantry uses is "basically old tried and true weapons' or "variations on an old theme,' said Dr. Blair, a retired Army colonel.

For example, the Copperhead artillery shell can change its direction in flight and uses a sophisticated laser guidance system.

But the 155mm howitzer that fires the shell is not terribly different from its ancestors that bombarded the trenches of World War I. Some older equipment still found in the Persian Gulf, however, is an endangered species. Many seasoned Marines and Army GIs carry the once-ubiquitous P-38 can opener on their key chains. The P-38 -- a "John Wayne,' in Marine parlance -- has seen service in at least three wars.

But Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, the freeze-dried successor to C-rations, don't need a can opener.

Title: Older weapons hold own in high-tech war
Date: FEBRUARY 10, 1991
Page: 1A


I have a basket I put your letters in before answering them either in the column or personally, and this month the basket wasn't big enough. That's because the "1940s Literacy Test" generated more mail after the deadline than before it.

Some of you who didn't quite make the deadline came up with remarkably high scores. Walt Harrell, the Bard of Cleves, hit an almost impossible 42 of 47. Dusty Rhodes, the Doyen of Delhi, nailed 37 and had great footnotes on the musical questions. He should be a tiger on the 1950s test coming up. Two correspondents not only completed my 1940s quiz but came up with lists of their own. John Marrone of Cincinnati had an extra 12 questions and Maclin Fearing of West Chester came up with 47 more! They're so good I'm going to merge them and give you another 1940s test right after we are finished with the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. We'll keep each other busy for the next few months.

Some of you will recall that I questioned Joe Breslin of Maysville's answer to my question about a P-38. He said it was a fighter plane, all right, but also a can opener. Was Joe pulling my leg?

Nope, Plenty of you wrote, but two of you made the point in the most graphic way. You sent me the P-38 can opener. Now, of course, I remember it. For those who don't know, it's an ingenious little device, no bigger than a minute, which would open C-ration and other cans. Thanks for reminding me.

Incidentally, enough already about the three columns my wife Nina wrote when I took a week off a while back. You should be aware that Nina occasionally reads this mail and it's getting more difficult for me to screen the laudatory comments so she won't see them.

Now don't bridle like that; I'm doing it for her own good. I simply don't want her to get an inflated opinion of your reactions. There's nothing worse than a writer with a big head.

Carl Haefner of Leesburg wrote to agree with my concerns over this nation getting stuck in quagmires in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. He made the further point, " . . . but the worse threat on the horizon is a free-for-all situation in Russia and who will be playing 'Russian Roulette' with all that undisclosed . . . nuclear weaponry."

Carl is a former Marine who easily topped my birthday story about crawling through freezing mud after dark on the infiltration course. He said he did the same thing at steamy Parris Island, S.C., only "we were (something)-deep in alligators!" I couldn't quite make out the (something). Must be "knee." Yeah, that's it, "knee-deep".

I had a wonderful letter from Katherine Roudebush Hunt of Harrison on my occasional references to Schuster Martin School. Mrs. Hunt learned that I would like to do a piece about the school and gave me some excellent tips on how to learn more about its history.

She was a student there herself from 1927-1931, among the youngest of the full-time scholars.

She tells me Helen Schuster inherited the dramatic school from her father, then married William Martin, which accounted for the name Schuster Martin.

Madame Patia Power was Mrs. Martin's niece, a formidable actress and eventually an instructor at the school. Madame Power had two children, Anne and Tyrone. Mrs. Hunt goes on "I didn't fit in with the older girls, so I spent my free time in the work shop, building scenery. Tyrone and Bill (Martin, Mrs. Martin's son) came in after high school to help. Neither one seemed very interested in appearing on stage, so we three became the back stage crew. We were so good on lights, timing, etc., tha t we were very much in demand for the big productions. I was quite surprised to learn that Tyrone had consented to become an actor."

Tyrone Power, like his father before him, indeed became an actor.

Some recent columns about St. Gertrude's in Madeira and Sister Cecilia and Carol Robinson and the Mariemont Theater prompted Carolyn Haas, now of Murray, Ky., to write. The letter is quite charming. It is also unintentionally deflating.

After giving chapter and verse on most of my contemporaries in that fine grade school, Carolyn concludes, "What years were you at good ol' St. Gertrude's? I'm afraid I don't remember you."


Carolyn, I was that combination of Tyrone Power and Albert Einstein who sat, modestly silent, in desk three, row two.

A whiz at English. Say you ain't forgotten.

Paper: The Cincinnati Post
Date: March 8, 1993
Page: 1B


THE ARMY gave Ron Hingst a P-38 when he was 19 years old, and he carried it faithfully for 35 years, through good times and bad times and lots of airports.

A security guard at Newark International snatched it away this month, and now there's an empty place in the Howell man's heart. Also, his keyring is lighter.

Hingst's P-38 was not the Walther pistol of the same name, or for that matter the P-38 Lightning fighter plane from World War II. It was a can opener -- a 1 1/2-inch-tall piece of metal with a small, hinged triangular beak that folded out to puncture lids.

The Army developed the P-38 in all of 30 days in 1942. Many consider it the military's greatest invention. It doesn't break, rust or dull, and until C-rations were replaced by Meals, Ready to Eat, the P-38 was a soldier's invitation to dinner.

As two generations of veterans can tell you, the P-38 was also a first-rate screwdriver, boot cleaner, letter opener, carburetor repair tool and anything else you needed it to be. But today, apparently, it's dangerous and obsolete.

Hingst, 54, flies at least once a month. A few weeks ago, he and his P-38 set off to Quebec City to play hockey. He went from Detroit to Boston and Boston to Newark, and his can opener passed muster twice.

Then, on the final leg of the trip, a guard stopped him. "You got to give me that," the man said.

"C'mon," Hingst protested. But the clock was ticking, the line behind him was only growing longer, "and what could I do? I'm going to argue about my can opener?"

Coming home through Boston a few days later, Hingst saw a uniformed National Guardsman and decided to get himself some sympathy.

"Can you believe I had my P-38 confiscated?" Hingst said.

"Well, it should have been," said the Guardsman. "The 38 is a sidearm."

Hingst thus discovered that the P-38 is no longer standard issue. So he still doesn't have his can opener, and now he feels old.

Title: Column - Excerpt
Paper: Detroit News, The (MI)
Date: February 20, 2002
Section: Front
Page: 02A


In these days of looming war shadows and demonstrations for peace, it may strike some as odd to promote a military museum.

But you can’t really say that the Bataan Memorial Museum romanticizes war. Rather, it pays tribute to the spirit of this country’s fighting men and women with particular emphasis on the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, which comprised a good number of New Mexicans.

The 200th, later divided to form the 515th Coast Artillery Regiment, was sent to the Philippines to provide anti-aircraft support to Clark Air Field and Fort Stotsenburg.

Many of the regiment died during the

infamous Bataan Death March in April 1942, a reminder that freedom does come with a hefty price tag.

The museum has been in existence since 1947 and has been housed in the Armory for the Arts building for 10 years, according to curator Jeronimo “Rick” Padilla, who runs the place. The armory, built under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration in 1940, originally was home to the National Guard. It was also a local induction center for military personnel once the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor set the gears of war in motion for the United States.

The museum features an array of display cases, wall exhibits and documents relating to military life from the Civil War to today. The heart and soul of the exhibit really involves World Wars I and II, the Korean conflict and Vietnam. As a former

serviceman, I found the museum’s dedication to our military history impressive. My one complaint is: I want more details.

Displays devoted to the Spanish/Mexican military influence

in New Mexico feature authentic period saddles, bows and arrows, and soldiers’ uniforms. Minimal text is given to describe or explain the items, and there isn’t any sort of historical information to place the material in perspective — which doesn’t mean the exhibit is without merit.

A case of aerial items from the U.S. Army Air Force includes

a bomber jacket (the cool type that all those 1940s movie stars wore in the war films) and a cap worn by a pilot. Again, here little was said about the Army Air Force, which preceded the U.S. Air Force as the official aerial branch of our services.

This is minor griping, to be sure. Some of the items donated by New Mexican residents say volumes within the span of a few lines of dialogue.

A letter from an Army recruit, dated September 1941, describes the rigors of traveling by ship from San Francisco to Fort

Stotsenburg. In the last months before America’s official entry into the war, this young soldier apparently thought that having survived the rocky voyage, he was indestructible. “I guess nothing can hurt me — ¿verdad?” A postscript informs us that he died during the Bataan Death March.

Photos and news clippings tell the story of the death march,

a topic not easily digested by those without strong stomachs.

I liked the prisoner-of-war art from that era, etchings made by hand with nails on tin mess kits, canteens and cups in a prison camp. A German pistol found by an American soldier in the Philippine jungle also intrigued me. Did a Japanese officer who borrowed it from a German ally drop it, or were uniformed Nazis lurking about?

A wall panel lists all the names of Native American winners

of the Medal of Honor — 26 in all, six from World War II. Likewise we learn that 12,000 Native Americans served in World War I, 25,000 served in World War II and 42,000 served in the Vietnam War (no accurate numbers exist to reflect participation in the Korean War).

And while the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II have attained considerable fame, especially with last year’s film Windtalkers, did you know that the Army used Choctaw Code Talkers during World War I? Again, further information on their work was sketchy here, but it got me interested in researching the subject further. (Two Web sites on the subject suggest the actual number was eight or 18, but both sources agree that the men were used in one of the last campaigns of the war.)

Plenty of military weapons, vehicles and material are on hand, including a 1917 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a World War I ammunition wagon, a jeep and an M42 “Duster,” an anti-aircraft vehicle (sort of like a tank) equipped with two 40 mm cannons, used to protect convoys. This last baby sits outside the museum and has touches of pink paint on it thanks to passersby who have tossed paint balloons, Padilla said.

The crisp uniforms utilized by military personnel during World War II — some of which are on display in the museum — look a lot more impressive than the styles servicemen wore during my enlistment period in the early 1980s. No wonder women went nuts over guys in uniforms in the 1940s. I wasn’t so lucky — I ended up looking like the postman in my Air Force dress clothes.

Another area of the museum pays homage to New Mexicans who died in battle. One display tells the story of Elias “Eli” Torres of Mora, who was seriously wounded in a firefight in South Korea in September 1950. This guy had spirit — two months later he returned to the fighting and was killed in action.

Then there’s the story of the Romero brothers from Nambé. Atoche was killed in battle just a few days before the surrender of Germany in 1945; his brother José died in action in Korea five years later. No family should have to pay so high a price.

The museum also includes a mysterious item bound to make even the most die-hard military historians scratch their heads. It’s a small tin thingamajig called a P-38. I’m about to give away the mystery, so jump to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know what it is: a can opener. Why is it called a P-38? P stands for puncture, and it reportedly took 38 of them to open a can of rations.

The museum has a no-loan research library of military books, both fact and fiction, including W.L. White’s They Were Expendable, about PT boats, to a 1918 Army policy book on “The Occupation of Germany” to an out-of-print biography on World War II hero and film actor Audie Murphy. The library walls feature photographs of New Mexican military members of the 200th Coastal Artillery before they went to the Philippines.

Padilla, a walking encyclopedia of military information, is happy to answer visitors’ questions about the museum. He said he changes the display cases regularly as the museum can hold only about an eighth of

all the material it has in stock.

That’s unfortunate — my visit to the museum took about 75 minutes, including

a chat with Padilla and a brief tour of the library. I’d like to see the museum have more room to showcase all its materials, just as I hope it can develop more text about each exhibit on hand.

That said, the Bataan Memorial Museum remains a fitting tribute to this country’s men and women in uniform.

Paper: Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)
Date: February 7, 2003
Section: Pasatiempo
Page: P-38


ASHEVILLE - You see them everywhere in and around the heart of the city, but you probably don't notice them ... or you try not to notice them. They are generally quiet, favoring shadows over sunshine, carrying their meager possessions in tattered backpacks or grocery sacks, hoping to spot a glint of silver or even a flash of green in the stiff winter grass as they walk swiftly and with purpose toward nowhere.

Mostly, though, they are resigned to the fact that they will become common beggars before the day is done, panhandling their way to a pack of smokes or a bottle of colorful wine that would singe the skin off a less-seasoned tongue.

Some sell their blood. Some sell their bodies. And in return for these commercial transactions, they are able to purchase a rock of crack, a bag of reefer. Or something even darker and deadlier.

When night falls, they find a bridge, an abandoned car, a nest in the woods, a secret hiding place where their chances of staying alive are reasonably high. Sometimes they hide as couples or trios or foursomes, building small fires in the evening, then snuggling together like newborn puppies to fend off a wintry death in the endless night.

When the February sun peers weakly over the horizon, they lift their aching heads and stretch their stiffened limbs, then move toward the center of the city, some in need of coffee, others in search of a fresh bottle of Thunderbird, a fresh hit of cocaine.

And a new day begins in the "other" Asheville.


"I know what I need to do - I need to get off the alcohol and quit drinking and get back to work," says Kenneth Purysh, an earnest, grayhaired 42-year-old from Canada who is a poster boy for politeness when he's sober and a textbook example of drunk-and-disorderly when he's had one too many.

"I stayed off it for a year. ... I've just got to get my life together, because if I'm out here much longer I'm going to die, and I know it," he said. "The alcohol is killing me, and I know it."

Kenneth is one of an estimated 50 to 200 homeless people, depending on the season, who "live outside" in Asheville. They are people who cannot - or will not - stay in shelters. Sometimes it's because of their inability to live by the rules - no drinking or drugs, for one. Sometimes it's because they cannot deal with large numbers of people in small spaces. Some simply want privacy and, without the means to have an individual home of their own, are willing to live on the streets to achieve it.

"I'm a loner. ... I hang with two or three people at a time, but I don't want anybody to know where I'm staying," said a man who gave his name as "Lurch." He would not say where he sleeps or allow his picture to be taken. He's been on the street since he left home at 18 - without a high school diploma - and enjoys his marijuana, LSD and a good time.

"We live anyplace we can get, and take any drink we can get to keep us warm," said Steven "Stevie T." Thompson. "You don't know if you're going to wake up or die. ... The law always falls on people like us."

Among the "people like us" are Stevie T., Kenneth, Gail, Billy, David, Mike, Skip and Lurch, the 22-year-old punk wannabe who sports orange and yellow spiked hair, and rings in his nose and lower lip.

They have mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, cats, dogs, Guinea pigs and assorted forest pets ranging from raccoons and badgers to squirrels and, in Gail Coffey's case, a baby rat that crawled into her shoe and became her pocket pet for three months before it became too large and obvious.

For many, their singular lifeline to the mainline community is an organization called A HOPE (The Asheville Homeless Organizing and Outreach Project for Empowerment), which operates a day center for the homeless from 7 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday, offering hot showers, laundry facilities, clothing for job interviews, telephones, medical assistance, coffee and snacks, and canned goods that are sent along with these urban travelers to sustain them through the day if they miss a meal at one of the city's shelters or soup kitchens.

"The people here are saints," said Gail, a 49-year-old with a passion for animals who plays the role of "mother figure" to the other homeless citizens who seek a few hours of comfort at the A HOPE center on North Ann Street downtown.

"They give you advice when you don't know which way to go," said Stevie T., 42, who's lived on the street for years and was cheerfully intoxicated one recent chilly morning as he visited the center for a bite and a bit of warmth.

"They don't judge you - they just get you what you need, and they'll do anything for you," Gail said, showing the three cans of "Boost" liquid nutritional supplement and the can of chunked pineapple carefully stashed in one of her tote bags. "I'm good to go."


"Go" is what these folks without homes do, joined during the daylight hours by the homeless who do choose to sleep in shelters the shelters don't open their doors until late afternoon, and tenants must leave first thing in the morning.

They walk for miles, going nowhere in particular - except at meal time. On a good day, when police officers aren't moving them along, they can rest on public benches, or stretch out in the grass for a moment or two.

Often, they are hustling for their version of survival by simple panhandling. Somtimes, they "run the signs," which in street lingo means flashing a piece of poster board informing passersby that they are homeless and need food or cash. And many say they are surprisingly successful.

"There've been times I've raised $200, $300 in 30 minutes," said David Ledford, a Vietnam veteran who lived with three other people in a cozy and relatively upscale camp site along the French Broad River until it was destroyed by unknowns, forcing the group to move on to another wooded spot on the fringe of downtown.

Some, though not many, hold down fairly regular jobs - often seasonal construction - but still cannot negotiate the world of apartments, bills, utilities and other responsibilities. And some, like Mike Medlin, receive monthly disability checks. It is on those days that people like Mike suddenly become everyone's new best friend.

"I make withdrawals from the bank two times a month, and everybody in this town knows when I do," said Mike, another Vietnam veteran who has lived on the streets since 1993. "I have to shake 'em off six at a time."

Mike uses the money for cigarettes, he said, but also for the wine he needs to sustain him through each day. He is clearly a smart man, but he, like Kenneth, is lost in the jaws of an unrelenting addiction to alcohol - in his case, the high-octane version of vino known as Thunderbird.

"You know, they say red wine goes best with beef and pork chops, white goes best with poultry," Mike said, smiling with his intelligent but world-weary eyes. "Well, Thunderbird goes best with sardines and Vienna sausages."


It might be tempting to stereotype or label these homeless people as vagrants, bums, beggars, big-time losers in life. But that would be a mistake.

Many of them are serious substance abusers, it's true.

Many of them are beggars for survival at one time or another, also true.

And most of them are bonafide vagrants, if vagrancy is defined as living on property that is not owned or rented by that person.

But there is so much more to this band of wanderers who, in their own way, are living in a smaller town within the larger city of Asheville, going about their strange and sometimes dangerous business in a tiny metropolis made up of bridge underpasses and river banks and wooded hideaways and heating grates behind darkened buildings.

They are, many of them, a family within this "other Asheville."

The young take care of the old. The men protect the women. The women "mother" the more fragile men during the difficult times, the times when the wine has run out and their brains and nerves are screaming for relief.

They share what they have, whether it be a bottle of port, a can of Sustacal or the last smoke in a crumpled pack. They close ranks when the less desirable among the homeless population threaten trouble or, more often than anyone imagines, violence.

"There's a lot more crime on the street than ever gets reported," Mike said. "But it's better not to mess with the law if you're homeless. ... They'd have to really hurt me to get me to go to the law."

"When you're out here, the only way you're going to survive is if you look out for each other," Gail said, as the others in her crowd nodded in agreement. "When you've got an alcohol or drug problem and you start stealing from each other ... then we're just hurting each other."


Yes, they are poor, and sometimes even hopeless. But they want people to know they are real, with real feelings just like the well-dressed people they pass on the streets en route to jobs and shops and financial institutions, the people who pass the homeless and never see them, choosing instead to gaze at the skyline or study their designer pumps and polished wingtips.

"A lot of them think we're just worthless people, just because our life went sour," Kenneth said, his eyes welling with tears. "Do you know how humiliating it is to ask for a dollar from somebody? But I'm just trying to get by. ... I have to do something, because if I don't eat or I don't get a drink, I'm dead."

The group sits silently, watching Kenneth as the tears spill over and roll down his hollow cheeks. Gail pats his hand, and the tears accelerate.

"You think I like this life?" he weeps. "I can't stand this life. ... I hate it so bad! I'm dying from it, I'm so tired of the riffraff. But you know what? The alcohol keeps calling me back, keeps on beating me down."

The men and women sitting beside him nod and murmur, offering simple but sincere comfort to their friend. It might be their turn tomorrow, when another hand will pat another shoulder, will offer a dry cookie or a can of sustenance to take away one kind of hunger, even when another hunger continues to howl.

"You know," Gail says quietly, "I have something I do every single morning, whether it's dark and freezing or beautiful and sunny. Very first thing, I say, 'Thank you, Lord, for getting me safe through the night, for giving me another beautiful day' - no matter what kind of day it is.

"And there's not a night I don't go to bed without saying the 23rd Psalm,' she said. "And especially the fourth verse - 'He restoreth my soul.' "

Gail and David begin talking about their old friend John Shores, known as "Papa John," or "Poppy," and Robert Wayne Smith, who was known as "Papa Smurf."

The two men, in their 60s when they died, had "run together" on the streets for some 14 years, Gail said. When Papa Smurf died in December of 1997, Papa John was inconsolable in his grief, she said.

"He cried and said, 'Gail, I don't think I can make it without him - I won't last a month without him,' and I said, 'Poppy, I'll take care of you.' "

Gail says she did take care of Papa John - a physical dead-ringer for Santa Claus - raising the money to buy his white port wine, making sure he had a safe place to sleep. But he did die, a day short of a month after Papa Smurf, when he was hit by a car near Coxe Avenue, then hit by a second vehicle.

Now it is Gail's turn to express her sorrow, remembering her friend with tears staining her cheeks.

"He was one of the finest men I ever knew ... he was something else," she wept. "He had worked hard, put all his children through college ... it took them (his children) 10 days after he died to admit he was their father."

While Gail was tending to Papa John's needs those 29 days, she would sometimes raise enough money for a motel room and would bring her pet Guinea pig, "Hard Times," to visit him.

"H.T. would climb up under his big beard and have nothing but her nose poking out in the morning," Gail recalled, smiling now. "And when we had his memorial service, H.T. came, too. We figured she was the last female he ever slept with, and it was right that she be there."

At that memorial service, she said, "Some of us sang three of his favorite hymns. And when it was over, we went outside, and I had bought a couple of bottles of white port - that was the only thing he would drink - and we poured it equally into little cups, and we all drank to Poppy."

On this February morning, Gail has but two requests: donations to A-Hope so it can continue its work, and donations of portable can openers, like Army-issue P-38s, so homeless people can get into the cans of food that often comprise their meals on the street.

"And one more thing," Gail said. "Put this in big letters at the end of your article: Always remember, you never know if you're going to be one of us someday."

Call Barbara Blake at 232-6020 or e-mail at BBlake@CITIZEN-TIMES.com


- Call A HOPE at 252-8883, or write to A HOPE, 19 North Ann St., Asheville, 28801.

- Call Hospitality House at 258-1695

- Call ABCCM at 259-5300

- Call the Salvation Army at 253-4723

- Call the WNC Rescue Mission at 254-0471


According to an April 1999 survey conducted by local agencies serving the homeless, there were 487 homeless people living inside and outside shelters in Asheville, including:

- 333 individuals

- 41 families, including 45 adults and 79 children under age 18

- 30 unaccompanied youth age 17 and under.

Paper: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Date: February 27, 2000
Page: 1A

Peddling to the Oval Office: She Has No Delusions, She Just Wants People To Think

KEENE - Lindy's Diner on Gilbo Avenue is the sort of place Presidential candidates tend to gravitate.

This is where the working class locals pay nominal prices for eggs over easy and okay coffee. Conversation is free.

Sure enough, there in a corner booth the other morning was Caroline Killeen, scribbling out a news release outlining her latest ideas on how she would make the country a better place to live.

But unlike other Presidential hopefuls, she lacks an entourage, power ties and G-men who speak into their sleeves. On this day, the only thing that denotes Killeen as a candidate is her grey sweatshirt with ''Killeen for President'' emblazoned across it.

Once again, as she has done since 1976, Killeen, 65, is running for president - or, to be more acturate, pedaling. She arrived in the state last summer with her bike and has made her way up, down and across the state talking with anyone who will listen. The news business has a term for her and others like her, ''fringe candiates.''

''Come on, I've graduated from being called a 'fringe candidate','' she said. ''The problem is that I don't have a campaign manager or phones or an entourage or a lot of money, but only because I don't like to twist arms.''

So, let's just call her a perennial candiate.

''What I really need is a couple of endorsements from well-known people. You know, someone to break the ice and say 'Hey, she's for real','' she said.

Without a doubt, Killeen is one of the most colorful of the fringe, er, perennial candidates. A Democrat and avowed moderate, this is the woman who sought political asylum in Canada in 1984 when there was little doubt that Ronald Reagan was going to sail into another four years in the Oval Office.

''I was a lifelong Democrat and that was traumatic,'' she said. ''After three months, (Canadian officials) said there wasn't enough grounds to grant asylum. I said to them, 'do you think four more years of Ronald Reagan isn't persecution'?'' As she has since her first run for president, Killeen endorses a return to the way life was in the 1940s. A return to basics.

Her props are a length of clothesline (solar dryers) and a string of P-38s (government issue can openers). If enough people used these instead of their elctrical counterparts, there would not be a need for Seabrook. Killeen vehemently opposes nuclear power.

If elected to the White House, Killeen would make some changes. A couple of goats would meander around the grounds mowing the lawn; she would plant a vegetable garden in the front yard; install a woodstove; have a couple of cows and, of course, a clothesline.

The last time she was in the state in 1988, she promoted peace and along the way, she planted peace trees.

This time, she is focusing on abortion. Riding the thousands of miles to New Hampshire from her home base in Arizona, there's a lot time to think up what she calls Madison Avenue slogans.

''I'm pro-Teddy Bear,'' she explains. ''Keep abortion legal, but work like hell to make it unpopular. Abortion is popular because it symbolizes the last chance to get back at the males. We need billboards that say have the child - keep the Teddy Bear from being extinct.''

A former nun, migrant worker, dishwasher, chambermaid and nurse's aid, Killeen is financing her campaign with her $275 a month Social Security check, a lot prayers and human kindness. She's saving a portion each month to put up the $1,000 filing fee in this state. The night before an interview, Killeen boarded a bus in Manchester, took the circuitous route through Boston and up to Keene, arriving in the city after 9 p.m. She spent the night in the local shelter.

It was too cold to ride her bike down to Cheshire County, plus, she hurt her leg.

But it gave her time to think about some of her other ideas. Among them:

* Putting the country back on the gold standard.

* Initiate a return to homesteading on federal lands and forests.

* Reinstate the Civilian Conservation Camps.

* Legalize marijuana.

* Initiate a Killeen Up America campaign to restore pride, purpose and principle to the country.

Don't think for a moment Killeen thinks she has a hope of winning the election. She says she has no delusions, but she hopes people will think about what she has to say.

And maybe offer her place to stay, or a hot meal or a cold beer on the road to her final destination

Title: Peddling to the Oval Office: She Has No Delusions, She Just Wants People To Think
Paper: New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH)
Date: November 17, 1991
Page: 4A

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