The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
By MORRIS STEPHENSON -
After writing about and photographing Mark Angle's memorial motorcycle in last week's News-Post, I was one of apparently many residents who tuned in to the History Channel's "Counting Cars" show last Tuesday night.
The last 30-minute segment featured Mark and Judy's journey after he commissioned Danny "The Count" Koker and his team to build the bike to memorialize the deaths of seven sailors, who were aboard the cruiser USS Belknap that was struck by the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier on Nov. 22, 1975.
The Angles' part of the program opened with the couple going to Danny's shop in Las Vegas, where the agreement was made and the bike was built from scratch. The shows tracked how plans were developed and the construction as it progressed along the path to completion. That part was very interesting.
I was impressed with the patriotism shown and proudly displayed by "The Count" as he talked about the collision and loss of the sailors, who died in the fire when jet fuel from the carrier spilled onto the smaller cruiser.
But from all the conversations I heard the day after the show, everyone was impressed with the last part of the program. That was when the memorial motorcycle was "revealed" for the first time on the USS Iowa. Mark and Judy were taken to the ship where they were met by leader Danny and other members of his team. I noticed a group of people standing in the background on the ship with their backs to the camera. But I didn't think anything about it.
Then Danny told the couple he wanted to get some more people in the photograph and called over the group. As it turned out, the "people" were former sailors who served aboard the USS Belknap, including one whom Mark knew.
Then there were more former crew members who served aboard the Belknap and an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair who had a snow-white beard. He turned out to be the ship's Capt. Dick Shafer, whom Mark credited for saving many lives by his quick decision and action taken just before the impact.
"If he had not turned the Belknap when he did, the carrier would have cut it in half, rather than cutting off the front top part of the Belknap," said an emotional Angle. And Mark thanked the captain on camera, saying basically what he told me the week ago when I got the pics and info for the story.
Danny then called for the rider, who had been hidden from the camera, to bring the motorcycle around for all to see. Both Mark and Judy were astounded and became emotional when they got their first glimpse at the bike, painted a shiny ship-gray color. More tears came into the eyes of Mark, Judy and a number of others in the crowd. The next day I heard about tears being shed in front of the TVs that night.
I must admit my eyes became moist on a couple of occasions during the show, and I was proud to say I've known Mark and Judy for years. I was especially proud of what Mark did in commissioning the $35,000 memorial motorcycle.
You could tell Danny and his team were equally as proud of being a part of the project. Danny made it plain when he thanked Mark for letting him and the team be a part of the project.
And being the patriotic person that I am, I want to thank Mark for what he did and also for giving me the opportunity to write the first story and take the first "public" pictures of the "USS Belknap Bike" that memorializes the seven Belknap sailors whose lives were taken on a date that also marked the 12th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. It was an honor for to be a tiny part of the final story.
"Odd and Sometimes Even" was the name of one of the first columns I wrote after becoming a journalist. The column was filled with a "hodgepodge" of items relating to just about everything under the sun. And the remainder of this week's effort will be much of the same, so hang on.
Lost Snake - I would suspect from the evidence that the snake that showed up in the Dairy Queen parking lot on Route 40 a week ago Tuesday had "hitched" a ride with a vehicle to get there.
People kept coming into the store saying, "There's a snake in the middle of your parking lot." When it came time for Cecil Love and I to leave, the snake was on the inside of Cecil's right rear tire, just checking things out.
When I drew closer, the snake moved to the front of the pickup and out into the open space. It wasn't a black snake as I first thought. This one was dark brown with a lighter of brown circles along its entire length. It didn't take but a second for me to know it wasn't a poisonous snake. It's head was small and not triangular in shape, no pits in front of its eyes, and the eyes weren't shaped like a copperhead.
I "walked it" across the sidewalk at a very slow place until it disappeared under a decorative bush not far from the side entrance. Two women who had walked by after I had gotten the snake away from the door complained about the reptile to one of the cashiers.
A cashier also had called the county animal control department. Not long after, a young man drove up in one of the county's trucks. Before pulling out, I told him the snake was under the first bush and I didn't think it had moved since.
The next day, I learned the employee had caught the snake and had taken it to some nearby woods across the highway and released it. I need to check my snake books and see if I can ID this one. Right now I have no clue.
Jalapeno Pepper Encounter - Last week, daughter Kathy and her mother, Sue, gave me some tomatoes to put on my daily morning gravy biscuit I eat when Cecil Love and I get together. Well, Kathy threw four freshly picked jalapeno peppers into the bag and warned me to be sure and take out the seeds and "core" that held them in place.
When I got home, I cut off the tops, split them in half and started to work on the first one. Carefully, I used my super sharp knife to do the job. The cleaning out of the first half went perfectly. But after removing the seeds from the second half, I left a little of the core still attached.
Taking the knife, I started to cut out the little white section. I felt the "crunch" of the blade and at the same time saw a "squirt" heading for my eye almost in slow-motion. I tried to close my eye but the blink was a "tick" off and the hot pepper juice hit me dead in the center of the eye.
There was an immediate burning sensation and next a steady watering of the eye. With the back of my hand, I rubbed my closed eyelid and the pain grew stronger! I recall Kathy saying that the only thing to drink to "put out the fire" was milk. My first thought was to find an eye-dropper and fill it with milk. But I hadn't seen such a item around the house in years.
So I rushed to the bathroom and found a little bottle of eye drops. That didn't work either and the water kept building in my left eye. Finally, the pain started to let up. I finished cleaning out the other three peppers without incident.
I washed my hands in soap and water, then rinsed my hands with Germ-X before heading to the Ferrum Lions Club meeting to take pictures of the new officers. Peggy Smith, long-time secretary, had invited me to eat with them when I saw her at the Suzy Bogguss concert at the Harvester.
So I took her up on the offer, grabbed a fresh plate from the buffet table and sat down to eat. Suddenly, my lips felt like they were on fire, just after I rubbed them before my first bite. It was the jalapeno pepper at work again. A little later, I rubbed the corner of my eye and again, pepper pain hit.
I finished out the night at the meeting making sure I didn't touch anything with my hands. When I returned home, "Victor" greeted me at the door. I was afraid to touch him.
A couple of days later, I related the story to a group of ladies and one of them said, "Oh, I never touch a jalapeno pepper without my rubber gloves." It was a message that was too late. I had learned the hard way and I know my late wife Hazel's gloves are still hanging across the water lines under the sink.
And I'll make sure I have them on when I get ready to dice the peppers for use in some pimento cheese. I had thought about eating them, but on second thought, I decided I'd better leave well enough alone. I'd learned my lesson the hard way.
New Wave of Hummers - A week ago today, I arrived at the house about 5:30 p.m. and instantly caught a glimpse of the four hummers I've had since they first arrived. Then it dawned on me that I was seeing more than four. I walked to the back feeders for a better look.
There was a constant buzz to go with continuous motion. I tried to count them, which is impossible to do alone because I have two feeders on the back side of the house and one on the front.
Just the back side produced a count of nine hummers. Earlier that morning, L.D. Arrington said the one hummer he's had all season had been joined by six or seven others. Then my phone rang. It was John Green of Henry. He said he had five or six more at his feeders, too.
The next night, John called again and said his population had increased to at least 15. He quickly added that a relative who lives on Haw Patch Road still only had one. Thursday morning, Cecil Love said he'd gotten five or six more at his feeders. Then the next day, he guessed the count had climbed to at least 15.
Sunday afternoon, a group of American Gold Finches had covered a feeder filled with sunflower seed. Suddenly, a little hummer started buzzing around the group looking for a place land. Unable to do so, it started checking out the other feeders all filled with seed.
After checking them all out, it finally returned to the ones with his type of food. It must have been one of this year's hatchlings. Judging from the size, I'd say a couple of those newcomers were born just recently. John also told me during his second call that one of his newcomers was much different than the others. It's green and yellow but it's much longer than the others, he said. I thought it was a sparrow or something like it when I first spotted it. I guess it's a hummer but I've never seen one that size and that looks like this one. I'm going to try and get a picture but don't know if I can or not. I might have to visit John.
Intimidated Females - Before you get all riled up, I need to say I'm not talking about human females but ones of the hummingbird variety. All summer long, I've had a little "Bad Boy" male and three larger females.
No matter if it's in the morning or evening, he takes delight in chasing the "gals" away from the feeder. Their brains must be as small as their little heads because they haven't figured out that they have 3-1 odds in their favor if they ganged up on him! Then he becomes the "chasee" rather than the" chaser." Right?