WHAT: The P-38 Can Opener.
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
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:
Title: WHAT: The P-38 can opener.
Paper: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Date: October 17, 2001
HOW MANY USES FOR MY MULTITOOL?
LET ME COUNT THE WAYS ...
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Title: HOW MANY USES FOR MY
MULTITOOL? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS ...
Paper: Charlotte Observer, The (NC)
Date: December 13, 1998
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
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
I exclaimed loudly, "what! You've got to be kidding,
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
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
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
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
Paper: The Arizona Daily Star
Date: July 16, 1999
IN THE BIG PICTURE AFTER
THE SMALLEST THINGS STILL MATTER
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
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
"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.
course, the package is confiscated by anthrax-wary
Title: In the big picture after
September 11, the smallest things
Paper: Daily Herald
Date: November 24, 2001
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Title: COMMUNITY VIEW
Paper: Journal News, The (Westchester County, NY)
Date: April 23, 2003
SOLDIERS PACK WHAT THEY DEEM
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.''
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
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,
''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
''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.''
pack what they deem essential
Paper: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
Date: February 24, 2003
MOURNING GLORY WHEN TRAGEDY
GRIEF HITS THE ROAD IN MINI-SHRINES
intersection of Highlands Ranch Parkway and
Highlands Ranch Boulevard bespeaks the pain of lives
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
``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.
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
``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
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
``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.
Title: MOURNING GLORY WHEN TRAGEDY
STRIKES, GRIEF HITS THE ROAD IN MINI-SHRINES
Paper: Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Date: April 22, 1998
BRANDY WIENER HAS THE OPENERS
IF YOU'LL COME UP WITH THE BEANS
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.''
Title: BRANDY WIENER HAS THE OPENERS IF YOU'LL COME
UP WITH THE BEANS
Date: November 17, 1986
MILITARY CHOW TEN-SHUN!
IT'S COME A LONG WAY, PLUS KP'S KAPUT
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
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
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
For the benefit of you veterans, included is the
recipe for SOS - in case you have missed it over the
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
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
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
In a frying pan, saut peppers in oil until tender.
Stir in pimientos; saut until heated through. Keep
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
MRE'S - THE LATEST IN COMBAT
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
Paper: Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL)
Date: January 9, 1991
OLDER WEAPONS HOLD OWN IN
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
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
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
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
Title: Older weapons hold own in
Paper: DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Date: FEBRUARY 10, 1991
PLEASE ALLOW ME TO SHARE MY
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
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
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.
ALLOW ME TO SHARE MY MAIL
Paper: The Cincinnati Post
Date: March 8, 1993
COLUMN - EXCERPT
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
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
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
"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 -
Paper: Detroit News, The (MI)
Date: February 20, 2002
BATTAN MEMORIAL MILITARY MUSEUM
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
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
Many of the regiment died during the
infamous Bataan Death March in April 1942, a
reminder that freedom does come with a hefty price
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
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
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
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
a topic not easily digested by those without strong
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Title: THE M-FILES: BATAAN
MEMORIAL MILITARY MUSEUM
Paper: Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)
Date: February 7, 2003
COMMUNITY: THE OTHER ASHEVILLE
LIFE ON THE STREETS
MOST HOMELESS PEOPLE WANT THEIR INDEPENDENCE
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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,
"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
"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
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."
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
Call Barbara Blake at 232-6020 or e-mail at BBlake@CITIZEN-TIMES.com
WANT TO HELP?
- 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
BY THE NUMBERS
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.
THE OTHER ASHEVILLE LIFE ON THE STREETS MOST
HOMELESS PEOPLE WANT THEIR INDEPENDENCE
Paper: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Date: February 27, 2000
Peddling to the Oval Office:
She Has No Delusions, She Just Wants People To Think
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
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
* 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
Paper: New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH)
Date: November 17, 1991
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