Archive for February, 2007

paying respects to a man who wanted to kill

February 28, 2007

a sketch-1976 jay herron

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

The following is a complicated tale-a true story,as all of these are…about a man called Larry Joe.
Every body called him ‘LJ’.
LJ was an individual who had this unique desire to get into fist fights-I say unique,not that it is a charm of some kind…but that this guy seemed to have some special twing stuck in his genes that made him want to bare knuckle fight.
He was a drinker and would go into bars and have a few drinks and then go up to an absolute stranger and say something so provoking that the stranger would enter into LJ’s realm and the tables would all get slid back and off they’d go.
There was in the end only one bar in the entire region that would allow him in-he was banned from every where in north central Florida-and from some of the more tougher counties too!
I respected him-most definantly I treated him with respect because the last thing there ever would be in my mind is being a part of a pair in a fist fight-so I always tried to keep a cheerful distance between he and I but I never had one incident to caused me any harm from him.
We knew each other from a mutual connection-we all being a part of that old time hippie group out here in Levy county,he was one of the gypsy types that went around the USA working on huge construction projects and living in the back of a station wagon-I never knew him with out having two huge dogs….always with names like ‘Thor’ and ‘Dragonhead’,crazy wild names which always made this guy look silly when he’d call his dogs. You can imagine how bad that station wagon stunk.
Todays his birthday. So me and his actual friend are driving down to the veterans cemetery in south central Florida to leave him a happpy birthday bottle (???)….I am going only to drive his pal down there-it his wish to leave a quart of whiskey for the ashes of Larry Joe Rice.
I wouldnt waste the time to go down there and pee on the guys grave-but his friend is an old drunk who was removed from the seat of his pick up truck 7 or 8 years ago by a highway patrol officer and after six months in jail and the removal of his driving privledges FOREVER I end up as his driver from time to time-a paid driver.
LJ ended his life….not easily either-at least not for the other person involved,he more less took his life as the easier way out of what he had gotten started that afternoon. His intent-as all who know agree…was to kill his girl friend and then himself-but the plan I guess went astray sometime the moment it began and he had managed to tie this woman to a chair-and he had dowsed her car with old oil and had tried to light it on fire…and I’m not cetain how the swat team got involved-how they were called….but LJ blasted his head off right in front of his former girlfriend.
What a guy. It really took me by surprise after knowing of this mans exploits all of these years as a fist fighter-a fellow every body seemed to fear….and yet he wasnt much of a man in the end.

my brothers keeper…

February 25, 2007

fleet II

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

I wish that I could have this photograph with the ships removed so that I could convey the thoughts I have this morning more clearer-I want to try to paint a picture of the vastness of the ocean and the sky together when there is no land in sight.. So if you can try to visualize what the picture would look like with the ships gone-and how pure the scene would seem.
I dont exactly ever know how I’m going to start out when I write these things-sincerely this is no plan only that my original intention is to draw attention to a problem with the way veterans who have been raped and sexually assaulted during military service are provided no means of support at all from the Veterans Administration during the long road towards a hope for recovery.
By this I want to explain that my complaint is not at all levels-for sure the treatment I have been getting each week for over two years-from Charlotte,my therapist at the VA…is the most looked for part of my week . It is at the place where a veteran might get if they decide to hold the military accountable for what happened to them when the attack took place.
Its totally ignorant to think that once a sexual attack is over one can brush off the dust and put thier hair in place and go away forgetting it all ever happened-it sickens me to think of how rape is looked at as a sex crime…it has been my understanding sex is supposed to be something pleasant. Rape was not pleasant.
Every morning that I decide to write something I dont think its up to me as to what I end up writing because my minds a blank-its five in the morning and I just got up and having my first cup of coffee and sit in front of this electro-idea and stare…I mean,I have to find a point? And most of the time these tales of one mans past and present-an insignificant part of the human race,just some guy…no one famous-thats for sure-myself and this being my past and now. (I know that didnt make much sense but I understood it!) So whatever it is Im talking about is current-real…for sure,and must be on my mind in some section of it because it ends up being what I write about.
Who ever you are-you who is takeing a moment to read my life as I put it out to you…you are my invisable therapist! And something I never expected about this-writing on WordPress and exposeing anything myself that I can….to see each day that somebody has looked at me and heard me for a minute is powerful.
I wrote and told about my experience in the Navy-how it was my own brother who was jealous (??I’m guessing??) and put me in jeopordy in a place forever in my memory-barracks D. My brother!….my brother??
In barracks D….we were there to be punished-I know I was,in barracks D your entire world is 32 inches wide and 72 inches long-that is,if you can escape there. And I guess in the depth of it all you try to look for something safe….in a place where you are locked up with other men that is hard to do.
I had some sunday school when I was a boy-we’d go to some kind bible camp in the summer-bible school I think it was called,and we’s cut out pictures of this guy named Jesus and all of his followers and color them with crayons and paste them to pictures of a water hole or something and so for some reason those stories they told us at vacation bible school stuck in my head and so I would seek solitude in my 32 by 72 inch world and look up at God and say….what?
The only thing I could really remember about all that was the story of Jesus and this fishing guy named Peter and they were on a boat fishing and from somewhere Jesus comes and he’s walking out on the surface of the water and convinces Peter he can do it too. Its just one of the many storys that can make it hard to believe any of it….laying there in a bunk in a detention barracks fearing attack because you’ve already been attacked once before and often after that,but I looked towards it-that one story about Jesus and Peter.
Right after the FBI took Rose and sent her back to prison I stood out in my back yard that night and stared out into the sky at the stars and thought about every bit of the events that led both of us to that day. I never felt more alone in all of my life-I can only compare it to laying in my 32 by 72 inch world in barracks D-I was that alone. And just like those nights when I was able to find safety in my 32 by 72 inch word and would go back to being a little boy in vacation bible school and conjure up the memory of the story of Jesus on that water….thats what I did that night looking up into the sky.
I’m not meaning to spout religion here…and I am not! What am saying is how through out the years and especially these later years I look at the fact my body is sick-and I’m going to die,perhaps not tomorrow or anything like that is planned (although I got my coffin and my grave all ready!!) and I look back at everything-everything!! And I find these odd comparisons along with stories in the bible and feel strongly with them and how they fit somehow….and I look at how hard we as a people battle to keep alive in this old world-like the old guys at the VA that are sitting in wheel chairs and have oxygen hoses in thier nose and a long pack of Winstons in thier shirt pocket…why bother? And the political elections are coming up and they expect that millions and millions of bucks will be spent this time and far exceed the previous elections….and yet in this free land of ours live kids,small children-alone and with out a home,or even worse-across the sea into Europe-hundreds and hundreds of kids are dumped by thier parents and they live on the street-most of them sniffing glue,and we in America prepare to bput another guy in office who gives just as much of a crap as the next about these things and can do nothing about them.
Ihad a stroke in 1998 and there was a place I went towards as my body was getting ready to die before triage called code blue and brought me back to the living…its kind of like this picture-except you have visualize it with out the ships! Just look at the blue of the sky and the sea blending together-pure….empty,fresh-with out malice and hate and ugly…just vast and wide open. Clean and new.
How many times have you ever just lay on your back on a sunny afternoon and stare up at the clouds and wish to be free to romp up there?
I think thats what the whole thing is about-Peter and Jesus walking on the sea. We all know that we couldnt go to the shore and just start walking out there….but we all know that we seek something better,much better than what we have right now.
Its a fucked up life,here…really-look at your place where you are and think about the guys and the woman and the kiddies that have no where to go-living these days in the snow,summers in the muck of heat and mosqiutoes. Look at me right now-in the safety of my own home-a hot shower just footsteps away….some TV dinners in the freezer-a micro wave to heat them up,and I feel guilty because I think of those kids in Europe sucking bags of glue and thats it-that is life for them,and its not just those kids-its the way it is across the world…we have all seen it. I am often perplexed because of this way that I think….

Veterans Rights-building a bridge!

February 23, 2007

oleno bridge

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

Building a bridge is an amazing thing. I couldnt even begin to tell you where to start-but thinking about it always amazes me.
The bridge in thjis photograph was built in the late 1930’s by teenagers plucked from the cities and entered into an orginization called the Civilian Conservation Corps-its history I am not going to attempt to tell you here because its the bridge and the feat of building a bridge that is what I need to compare to what I am trying to do to earn certain rights for a unique group of military veterans-those like me who have experienced sexual trauma while serving thier country.
Back in 1970 when I was discharged-with an honorable discharge-I had been given freedom from a situation of daily ritual sexual assault that had endured from the early morning hours of new years eve day until then on Feburary 22 .
I have to confess-I went through one gate into another remaining mentally confused and unstable for a better part of my adult life….I thought right then as I have thought a great long time that I was the only one this ever happened to.
I still am confused and deal with life every day in a pattern developed all those years ago-a protective pattern,in a way-but definantly an eratic path I’ve walked.
I never realized-I never dreamed that one day help would come along. I never knew anyone was iinterested in what I had experienced…I never had anyone I could trust to express the pain that has simmered inside of me and grown all of these years until I met Charlotte at the VA.
Charlotte is my therapist and the only being other than God that knows me…
from being treated by her and learning to trust her has built my esteem. I am very grateful for her.
Opening up that I am a victim of rape-a male victim of rape has come to effect a battle in me against those who attacked me 37 years ago-in a way,it is the only thing that I can see. To talk about it to someone that can be trusted has been like puncturing a boil to purge the poison out of the sore…like purgeing the poison out of me.
I cannot explain what I dont exactly understand myself because I’ve lived on this track of confusion for so long and because I’ve had to hold this secret to myself for all these days and years and now to have a venue that I get it out….
A big hurdle came into this last year around March-at the advice of my therapist I looked into appealing to the Veterans Administration to evaulate my case-indeed,to earn some compensation for the damages done. I had been reporting to the vetetrans service officer in my home county and during one of the meetings there statements made and jokes passed among the three agents in the office-about me! And,in front of me….the experience made me fly off the handle-and of course I set out to do damage,and of course…the damage was inflicted on myself. Fortunantly this time I saw that I couldnt go through with it-the damage….I always refer to it as DAMAGE CONTROL,a term related to the Navy that I connect with myself.
I’ve done damage control in the past to extent it landed me in the hospital once and as I was fleeing from my attempt this last time I realized that the events and comments in the veterans service office were just as if I was in barracks D all over again and that if I did not do something then the attackers in barracks D became these people in this office….and they all will win and I will always remain lost and defeated.
I admit-I was ready to give up. But as I drove home that night when I went out for damage control I realized that if I dont fight back the men in barracks D have won again and I am still under thier control.
So like these kids that once upon a time stood on the river bank and thinking among themselves how they were going to build a bridge across that river I am standing on the river bank wondering how I can build the bridge that needs to cross the river of a gap in the system of how veterans are treated when they are brave enough to come forward and say they have been sexually assaulted….the rights are there-the bridge just is’nt built to get there.
The kids that built this bridge must have met difficulties as all bridge builders must have had to over come-it is’nt as simple as laying a plank across a creek,and thats the thing I am seeing in the need to build this bridge….our bridge!
I dont think they sent one kid to build this bridge-he certainly needed help. Thats the way it is with the bridge I want to build so that with numbers we can build a bridge that is strong and safe to walk across.
I know there are more like me out there….man and woman,but also veterans…honorable veterans-and yet as I do they feel shame and guilt and fear because of the effects that rape and sexual assault have on the inner soul,veterans that like every other veteran in any military service walked up and volunteered to serve and protect all like one another and because of this kind of thing happening to them they become different….and silent,and I can understand. But today we have to rise up and realize that if we dont the rapist has empowered your body one more time-your life!
We have rights to be helped…we have rights to ask for what we deserve and we are afraid to come forward…..HELP build this bridge! We werent heard when we screamed in pain the night our body was abused….lets try harder and scream louder and keep screaming until the bridge gets built.
Compensation is not going to return any of what was taken from us….but winning this-getting what cannot repay but what we desrve- will give us personal strength in how we stand each day because we would have won and taken back a part of ourselves that we lost when we were assaulted….power.
Please take a part in this-build this bridge with me….I am alone and it is not an easy enough task to do alone and once we get this built just think of the many who be able to cross it !!
The parts are in your hands-pen and paper or the computer-your VOICE….to get them together we need to keep putting them into the hands of those who have shut thier ears to us and keep putting the pieces in thier hands over and over and over until they start to put them together to build our bridge.
There was a guy in the Bible-you have heard of him…his name is Joshua,he won the battle for Jerico but staying silent til the right time and when that time came he ordered his army to yell and yell as loud as they could-and the walls of Jerico came tumbleing down.
That my fellow veterans is what we need to do….we have been silent too long.

about Love….

February 21, 2007

"Maximum" the five pound gaurd dog!

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

A very tricky word in our society is love….a very tricky word in my family is love.
Its kind of like this little dog in the photo. I know the dog loves me-heck,I love him….I have ever since he became mine.
This little guy is the first out in the driveway when he hears my truck drive up-and the way he runs around after I get out of the truck-and every time theres the ritual of him showing me how fast he can run….and the way he hops on my leg to get me to pick him up,well-thats because he loves me! And he can take that teensie tongue of his and work it a mile a minute on you as if he’s systematicly washing you,he is that intense! And you look into this sweet little face and you see his cute little eyes looking up at you-and his face,you cannot resist that face-and you just want to kiss that little guy…..but when you do his little teeth grab a hold of your face like some little miserable sea monster and your immediate reaction is to want to wring the darned things little neck.
Thats kind how I feel the love from my family..
I’ve written about this before-how my mother kept going on and on about it should have been me when my baby brother was killed-we followed his hearse from our home outside of Washington DC to the family graves up in Pennsylvania and all the way there that is the thing that sticks in my head the most. She was saying that because I had been refusing to go to high school in our district-a story that has a reason I have yet to explain in detail….my lifes story is so fucked up that it’d be hard to put this in too,no one could believe this is all true,yet it is!
No one spent any time consolling me….I was left to do that alone.
I dont even want to remember the few months I got to spend with my brother Frank on board ship,but that will never go away any more than my memory of his last words to me-“Jay,you were such a disappointment”. He died the next day being bitter about me to the end and yet it was his actions that got me sent to barracks D and where my life was completely ruined from there on out.
I thought when I was asked if I wanted to be stationed with my brother that it would be wonderful and we’d be pals and things would grow from there. That was never the case.
My father! The very one in life I’ve always wanted to please and to be something for,to no avail….once I drove over a hundred miles to express how much I loved him and how afraid I was that he was going to die before I had a chance to say so. He looked at me blankly-no expression at all. To this day I can promise if I telephoned my parents house my father would never talk to me even though he answers the phone every time-it is an immediate reaction that he does when he hands the phone over to my mother .
Ive got another brother-my only living brother….who never calls me just to talk or never comes to visit as easily as he and wife could-they dont live that far! Yeah,there has been some occasion….but not the frequent visits one could expect. One night on one of those seldom visits I was showing him some photos of some of the scaffolds I had built-he was dumbfounded and did not know that I had done such…just like my father who has no idea of the achievements Ive made….or how I did not give up when I became homeless with my wife and kids,and how I walked all these things home to build a roof over our heads,25 miles away from anything!
My father,as I have written before-is sick,he has cancer…he is in his eighties. I love him and weep about him too frequently and about what is lost and will never regained between him and I. Soon he will be gone.
The other night…to talk about love,my brother Franks widow called-I think its the first time shes ever called me but to be honorable-its at least been ten years-I have not seen her or talked to her since over a year ago,that I am positive about because the time frame was when Dad was in the hospital the first time ever in our lives and his…the other night my phone rings and it is Franks widow who immediatly goes into if I want her to love me I will telephone my mother (I had stopped calling my mother several months ago)!! I am still trying to calculate the value of love because of all the other shit sticks Ive had to hold in the name of love,and this is the bargin that I’m offered-her love and yet Ive never heard such from this person before?? I need to add-so the reader can understand….I had decided to step aside from my family and give my my living brother and his wife the full realm of being my parents saviors….I made offers to move up there and no one responded,so there that answer is. …and then my last visit sometime in October last year I had to listen to how my fathers not so crazy about my son and that he actually doesnt like him…my son,by the way-is someone that LOVE dearly,both of my sons and my adopted son Jeff are the world and my golden joy-so it is hard to hear how my family feels about my sons. Its not hard to see and to recognize the fluid use of the word love is with them. My late brother Frank and his first wife adopted an infant-who is now a married woman serving in the Air Force and after my brother and his first wife divorced the young lady was being brought up in a deeply devout household and things went around the corner with my folks and the ex-wife…so the word was passed down among us that we arent having any more to do with them….the infant we all were showing love -by then a little girl – we showed love to is hardly even thought about in any manner of love that could be indentified with the meaning of love.
Im not sorry but that my actions may have seemed course to every one else in my family…but it is the things they are so blind about-thier rudeness in saying to me things about my sons that are hurtful….and saying things to me that are hurtful,and then trying to brush it over with the bargin word….love! ( love….my baby brothers dead yet it shouldve been me? and then later in life I am asked to be the judge by her…do you love me? was I a good mother? only to turn around and tell me how she forgot to pick up my sister Jo-Eileen and it was raining and my sister got sick and died….a story I could have been spared forever-and then I get put into the position to say “sure Mom…you was great!” )
My brother Franks widow stepped way out on the edge to telephone me and say “…if you love me!” – after over a year of no hello or no how are you and the first phone call from her in ages-at least…and I am to succomb to the tempting of love….and did-yet how ever false!
The last I was in the presence of my family-Dad and Mom and brother and bride…I took them out to dinner-Dad stayed behind,his chemo was dragging him down,my mother was talking as we drove to the restaurant and saying how my father wasnt so fond of my one son and that he was upset that my son might be getting some of my mothers art work from the attic….where it sits in boxes for ever un seen! And in the same conversation she begins to tell my brother and his bride that they ought to just sell it all after my folks are gone-and she was saying they could sell this,and sell that-she was talking to them,not me. It was pretty offensive-I felt like the driver of a cab with some family in it but not my family.
I returned home the next day-I left thier house with out saying goodbye to them personally-but saying goodbye in my heart.

I really find it uncanny the use of the word love…as if it means anything,really! My brothers widow calls me up and pressures me with the use of the word of love….and the woman has no clue-no idea….knows nothing about me-although shes judged me all along from day one with ideas that I was a dead beatr,but none of them paralell with the way my life really has been. None of them can ever figure why it is I still am entertained by my former boss-a boss from 17 years ago,but became my friend because of the skills I had and how we shared the growth of a business together….but my family does not know that. They also have no idea of the hardships I led my young family through.-with out complaint…they have idea who I am!
Love is like this little dog-he looks sweet and like something you want have and to hold….but the minute you pick him to give him a kiss he eats your face with a fury.

My son-the deputy!

February 19, 2007

Alachua County Florida Sheriff’s badge

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

This morning will prove to be an interesting start to my day-I will be standing in the office of the county sheriff where my son will be sworn in as deputy.
I have got to say that this area is about to welcome an interesting young man to thier law enforcement force-never have I known a man who has gone to the lengths of earning this badge as my son has.
Joel has always been unusual in the way as a kid who spent his days in school and his afternoons in marching band practice his evenings as the dish washer and pizza maker at the local bar and then to come home and dig into his books and there he would stay until I would get up around two in the morning to pull the pencil out of his hand and remove the papers and books from his bed and edge him under the covers so he could rest enough to begin his routine in the morning.
He has been the same way since he began his study at the law enforcement program at Sante Fe Community College-I was proud to see him earn his criminal justice degree there and today I will stand proudly in that room where he finally reaps his rewards for all his years of study.

I have always been slightly on the defiant side of law enforcement-I’ve never been in any serious trouble but yet for some reason I took an attitude when ever I was stopped for a ticket,I guess it seemed the thing to do….but admittedly I reacted in the same manner as everyone did when my son came into a local restaurant in uniform with another officer and everyone sort of perked up like a person does when a policeman enters a room and here this was my son, It took me a few minutes to get adjusted to the fact that it was him.
A serious lad this young man has turned out to be-but I am very thankful for how he has grown to be the man he is.
I hope God keeps plenty of angels camped around my son.

23 degrees,inside…

February 17, 2007

ice on the road …again

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

I dont know how this is going to go this morning! Its one of those real deal Florida freezes-it is 23 degrees inside my house and although I am able to heat this room the rest of the house is still yet unheatable and stays wide open all year round,why bother? and although my computer is here in this room where the heater is…the trouble being the heater is not safe at night and thus the room looses tempurature quickly overnight-my pups and I sleep under several quilts and an old furniture blanket.
Its kind of odd-I have a home….and in the summer the place is great-birds fly in and out,wrens even nest in the books on my book shelf,and yet God allows me the grace to live close to the poor mark most all of the time and in the Bible it says ‘blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the kingdom of God!”….bingo!
So I think my computer got a bit chilled last night because it is acting rather sluggish-and it concerns me because I’d like to make some remarks but am always afraid to go into great detail because I fear I might loose everything!
I never want to ever loose sight of where I’ve come from-where I was when I first came to these woods with nothing but a broke down car and two kids and a wife…I always regard the fact that I hand carried most of the first dwelling we had here-hitch hiking sometimes great distances to tote old boards and tin and plywood and every provision needed to survive-I never want to loose touch with that!
My refridgerator is holding enough food to see this day through-then tomorrow opens up another day of faith that someting will come my way-I am made richer by the small things and how they are put in my way.
The other day my doctor-knowing my circumstances,gave me this slice of bread which came from one of those coffee shop type places and I asked her to wrap it in a paper towel so I could stick it in my tote,so she did. And I was spending the rest of that morning going up University Avenue posting the flyers for the art exhibit and in our city there is a large population of homeless people in Gainesville Florida and at one of the bustops where there was a public bulletin post sat these three homeless guys and they hit me up for some change-and change was all I had -all I have now,less than two bucks! And I told them I did’nt have any money and one of them noticed these new shoes I had on and said something about me being able to afford new shoes I could surely have some change for them. SoI thought about the piece of bread my doctor gave me and took it out of my tote and offered to quarter it up with them so we eachh could have a piece. One of them got snotty-but another of them defended me saying that if all I’m carrying is a slice of bread in a paper towel then I must be as bad off as they were!
But I’m not bad off because I am able to see the strength in that slice of bread to cover several needs-feed me,protect me from a bad situation,make peace!
I think about the people who dont have the way to heat a room and feel I have it pretty well with these things I’ve manged to collect over the 30 plus years I’ve lived in these woods patched together as it is it is certainly above the living standards I know others are living in.
This guy Tony I read about on the homeless man speaks blog…I think about guys like him that are out in weather like what the photograph I chose today shows, but yet you have to clear your vision sometimes and think it is the things that surround us that begin to make these things look so harsh-once upon a time before eveything got so fast and easy and centrally heated people endured and survived worse than what we know today.
But-this morning the water in my toilet tank sits with a skin of ice on it and I need to huddle under a blanket to sit my bare rump on the ice cold seat to use it-and to be honest,I’m thankful for it all.

living in a box….

February 15, 2007

tractor in yard

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

In general there is no one that knows a thing about truck driving and what the life on the road is like. There is always the romantic thoughts from years gone by that the job is full of thrills and the life is the life of Riley and that when ever a woman see’s the driver of that big truck she is ready to run into your arms and beg you to take her away.
Never happens.
A big truck is a prison and the driver is convicted for life to be tied to his rig by an invisible teather-although allowed the freedom to go from one coast to the other the driver can never be free from the truck,its always there waiting- I know I could’nt get away and in some ways I hated that I ever got into one….but most of the time it was the greatest place on earth for me-the only place I was somebody,and the only place I ever felt safe.
No one really knows this way of life unless they have been there and those of you that have will agree that most all of your waking day your body is inside of that truck,and for many of you that is time spent completely alone in a box that is less than 64 square feet-or…8 foot square. Actually-convicts have more human contact during thier day than a long distance driver does.
Its not too different-just maybe a little more plush than a prison….like when you get stop and go into a truck stop to eat or shower or park to get some sleep-but rarely do you get to know the person who is eating next to you while in prison you might be able to strike up friendships,here you rarely make eye contact….not wanting to hear some drivers dull story about his log book woes.
But always in idle out in the parking lot is where you have to go-the cabin of your truck becomes your home and there is no where else.
Its a very interesting community. The truck and its parking lot are small cities with little strips of real estate available to set up camp in-each space marked off with white stripes…now a day each comes with underground services like television cable and internet access,but once upon a time they were void of all the thrills except for the thrill of hearing a hundred trucks with thier diesel engines chattering down the line.
At any given time in a truck stop parking lot there is accessable anything you may require in any given day and for any given need. All you have to do is ask putting out your request on the citizens band radio. The transient make up of the industry insures that. For example-any Mayflower truck or any van line that hauls household goods….those guys spend so much time away from home base that they accumulate items such as small cook out grills and various lawn chairs then again a heavy haul driver such as myself would have assorted tools or blocks of wood-and tarps….when ever we were on a crane haul ( some cranes are so huge they require many trucks to haul the various parts ) we would have to keep in a uniform distance in order to deliver the sections in a timely manner so the riggers could re-assemble the machine in an organized way-so when we were on a crane haul we would assemble in a collective group in a parking lot at a truck stop and because sections were so huge we had to stop on Fridays and resume transport on Mondays(it was illegal to move these large pieces on weekends) we would build these tent pavilions around our rigs covering large spans-keeping it dry and shaded with our tarps spread out between our rigs. Cook out grills would come out from everywhere-and most truckers have crock pots and cookers that work off the cigerete lighter in the cab so there would be buffets of interesting varieties because of the reliable resources of diverse kinds of frieght sitting in the lot. We could have shrimp and steaks and chicken and pork and beer and coke and fruit and veggies and never enter a grocery store….it all just came from the various loads sitting in the lot.
These amazing short lived friendships would happen-everybody knew what everybody was going through….we were always miles away from somewhere-never near our homes and none of us were going to see each other again after the night passes,that was a given-and most likely why most of us do it….live this nomadic life;and by the next day your new found friend would be gone.
Inside on the drivers seat as you spin mile after mile beneath you watching mile after mile of the countryside going by and watching sunsets and sunrises and changes in weather and going from city to city to places that are so wide open and free,thats also why we do it-the safety of the solitude and the freedom of being tied to anything else but that truck.

shiprock new mexico

February 12, 2007

shiprock new mexico

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

Going southwest from Green River Utah you go through some of the most interesting landscape in the United States-you drive through the Spanish Valley and the road reaches elevations where the views across the Moab are breath taking and the desert is so vast that you can see stone formations for miles and miles and miles.
When you cut east at Monticello heading towards Cortez you begin to see the remainders of an ancient volcano, the first white men to see it called it ‘shiprock’,the Navajo knew it as the ‘rock with wings’…Tse’ Bit’ A’i….
The rock with wings is a sacred place for the Navajo-I am not going to try to impress you with my view of the history,this is just what I know….in the days before the white settlers came along there was an attack made on this nation of Navajo and the medicine men prayed and the answer came in the way of a volcano that erupted and rose the ground and provided a safe haven for the people to escape the attack-the Navajo lived there for a great many generations and one day they had a storm that severed the access to the lower elevations and the woman and children were stranded on the rock all starved and died….the men had been on the base of the rock tending to the gardens that fed the people when the storm had hit and unable to reach the top to feed thier families.
When you reach the the town of Shiprock you pick up highway 666 south-heading towards Gallup. The govenor of New Mexico recently signed a bill to officially change the route number-which was used to dub the road as ‘satans highway’….and honestly-it very well could have been,the place is desolate….and miserable hot in the summer-and miserable cold in the winter.
It was an interesting route-the only way that made sense when cutting across to the northwest from the southern states so it was a frequent trip through there for me when my years of trucking were still with me.
I was always amazed when ever I took this way-route 666 was about a hundred miles from Gallup to Shiprock….and not one damned thing in between but sand and rock and miles and miles of nothing-empty territory! And what amazed me was how every so often-sometimes as frequent as every 5 miles,you would come across a family standing there on the side of the road. They would just be there along side of a bundle of thier gear and packs as if they just walked out of that desert on the right side of the road and was waiting to travel the desert on the other side of the road….I learned later that these were nomadic people who still roamed the region most likely to work herding sheep and goats or merely moving along to find plant life and holy areas that have sustained Navajos for generations.
They look poor and sad,it always made me sad-for how much of this life these poor people lived was because of our white ancestors who stole the better lands and took away all that was sacred to this nation of people.
I stopped one time to offer a lift-but was quickly told they were going west across the road into the desert-and I was going north on the solid road in the direction they were avoiding….so,I never thought to offer a lift again.
I always found this as a remarkable thing.
If you have no clue about the south west-it is’nt a desert paradise at all-yes,it is beautiful-but readers…this place gets bitter winters-but yet these people endure those various changes in the seasons with out any change to thier lifestyle as nomads. It interests me in how these people have endured and lived through all of the torments the native Americans went through as white settlers shoved and pushed these people into places they could not live,and yet they survived….miserably.
In my travels I’ve been from New York City to Los Angeles and cities from north to south from Chicago to Houston,you understand-I was a long distance trucker and was everywhere everyday. I once was going from San Diego north to Kent Washington and noticed along interstate 5 in California-right there in San Diego, and I noticed these structures up inside the over passes up near the top where the bridge meets the road above. They were shelters of sort built from what appeared to be pallets and card board and were occupied by homeless people. I stopped once to get a better look and saw twenty-thirty people just sitting up there stareing back down at me. It was a strange sight-children,yes…and mothers,and the various kinds of people you’d see on the street. That stretch of highway has an official D.O.T. highway sign that is a sillouette of a man-woman-and child running,I guess that was to alert drivers to be aware of these people going from roadside to roadside.
It made me think of those Navajo on the side of route 666.

The clingon,or-the liar on the tower!

February 11, 2007

USS Farion

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

In the scaffolding industry the labor pool is a group that is out of the ordinary. It is not easy finding a person who feels comfortable at high places hundreds of feet off the ground and nothing to sit on but a pipe thats less than two inches diameter-no where really to stand but on a lip of metal that is attached to the pipe-it is no wider than five inches….and all this time until you get that pipe locked in with another your body is swaying in the wind and then after that pipe is locked you have to attach another and climb up on it and repeat the process over and over until you reach the top.
Each job would begin with a lead man who knew the parts and places they needed to go-this guy worked on the ground and ran the crew that fed the pipes to the men in the air-and some men that worked in the air only had one job…that was to hand the pipe up to the guy above who handed the pipe to the guy above him and up it went man after man-so it was not a job requireing any real skill….you just had to be able to handle the heigths.
The skilled part of the crew were the top guys-no pun intended,but these were the men who worked on the free moving pipe as it was built to its excess and maximum needed heigth and usually these guys were of a certain class of thier own and also a bit off the normal -after all no sane man is going to up up hundreds of feet with barely a place to stand….so you usually have one supervisor who has the layout of the scaffold and leads from the ground,and the guys that hand up the supplies one after the other and then the swingers at the top-the lead guys!
On this job in the photograph was a typical scaffold to do because of the frequenct need to pull a ship out of the water and into dry dock for repairs-the wiring on the main masts of the ships required inspection so we would be contracted to build these towers….we had seven days to put ont up,this one is over three hundred and eighty feet tall including the ship,and the ship is sitting on huge huge wood blocks. From the top you could see downtown Jacksonville 25 miles away.
Once each tower is built you could drive an automobile on it because it is that safe and sound-it is just the movement of them as it is constructed and the heigth that seperates the men from the boys.
Usually we’d start a job with the lead guys and build the base and then we would hire day laborers by the van load-usually 12 guys,and out of them you could weed out the clingons….the guys that showed a fear!
You pick one out in a minute-they hardly got out of the van and when they saw what it was all about the smart ones got right back on the van and admitted the climbing was a fear factor. Others acted the bad ass-and would say it didnt bother them but then once above solid ground you could see the way they locked onto a piece of pipe with thier legs and arms clinging for dear life….we weeded them off the job and into the van and the remaing few would be our crew.
One day the big owner of the out fit we built these for showed up with a kid about 21 or 22….he was all decked out in a special kind of hard hat and had this tool belt that no one had ever seen and the big boss said this kid had worked on oil fields in Alaska and had done pipe work-meaning they scaffolded inside of huge diameter pipes so maintainance could be done inside of them-or towers like smoke stacks,these would be scaffolded on the inside-a very tight hot place to work,and some of the towers would be several hundred feet tall-but they are a seperatte kind of scaffold because they stand solid from the base up-no swaying.
Our boss was proud of his find-told me what the lads resume said and how skilled he was….heck – his tool belt said all of that! None of us had ever even seen a belt like that more less the kind of tools he had.
The kid had an air about him-he was a pro,and no one had done it more than him???he stood on the ground for he first three hours on the job after the big boss had gone-bragging about building a scaffold here and putting one up there and how he worked in Saudi Arabia and all across the world and how he knew every piece and part and all the regulations….but he never got off the ground,he just kept telling any one who would give him a minute how good he was!
So-I finally told him….get up there and get that good to work!
Thats when he got this ashen look on his face and mumbled something about how he had to get the feel and energy of the job….and I said it would only happen when he got up there and showed us his stuff.
He was a clingon…got up alright,but once there his arms and legs locked on for dear life-his eyes went straight up looking into the sky,he was that afraid. The man was such a cling on that a second laborer had to be sent up to fill his place while another guy went up to loosen up our man and unlock his arms and legs and work him back down to the ground.
Once down his attitude came back and he started back on how great he was-and then he lost every bodys interest. He was so big headed he totally forgot we had to untie his arms and legs and smooth him down….his explaination was that twenty feet in Alaska was different then twenty feet on this job????
I fired him.

I’m told I am a survivor…

February 9, 2007

ice on pond

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

survive-to remain alive or in existence;endure.
Thats what it says in my dictionary.
I am having trouble grasping that idea-at times.
As I have written a few days ago I have taken on a task that has me putting up flyers for an upcoming art exhibit-which is the Survivors Art Exhibit at the J.Wayne Rietz Union building on the Unversity of Florida campus. This job-I freely volunteered-requires that I roam about public places and public buildings to seek out places that I can post my flyers. I have already spoken about how large buildings and public places cause me great anxiety and I reel from the stress….but I have decided to do this because at the age of 56 I need to expose myself to these spaces or I am going to end up boxing myself into my own space forever.
Its about winning a battle for me. I’ve hidden from my attackers ever since that day I became free from them in 1970. If I keep hiding they will continue to have control over me. I confess…this is not easy.
Yesterday I finally was able to get myself to drive across the county to the local junior college-a place that my inner fears would not allow me to approach and honestly,after I got there my fears grew and grew and demanded I abandon this place as quick as I could. So-I fled.
So-am I giving in? I admit it sounds like I did-but give me credit because I did finally go there and park my car -way way out into the northern parking lot,as far out as I could go….and I walked towards the campus doing my general self hypnosis that I go through to get my mind prepared to enter these places and adjusted myself as best I could….the crazy violin sound that goes on in my head in these circumstances ( like those they use in scarey movies to intensify the fear ) was screaming and screaming at me as I approached the first buildings,my heart beating in my throat.
I managed to get into the center of the campus to a performing arts building and found the first place available to staple my paper flyers and stuck two there side by side-I found a second place near a graphic arts building and then my head went into this daze and my body said lets get the hell out of here….and thats when I realized how clinical the place looked,nothing like the buildings at UofF…everything on this campus is white-everywhere….white,and the buildings are all modern and square and unfriendly looking-very institutional like.

These cops kept riding by-both driving golf carts on the sidewalks and breezeways of the campus….they both gave me long glances every time they drove by me-that added to the discomfort I was feeling and I am thankful they did not stop and ask me why I was there,I would have never gotten it out….my tongue would have swollen to the size of a watermelon and my nerves would have gone bezerko.

I guess the term survivor mixes okay with yesterdays success-I did endure…I did fight,that said because I went there-and from one end of the campus to the other,so I did do it. But my God the fear I go through whenever I have to go to a place I am totally unfamilier with was multiplied twenty times twenty when I got to the junior college…but I did it,I finally did it!! You have no idea how relieved I am.

I’m going to present a few of my artict attemps in the Survivors Art Exhibit. I had the opportunity last year-it was one of the most highest points in my life having my art work in such a prestigious place-fairly well described as the capital building of the university campus. The opening night I believe over four hundred people looked at my paintings and the art work of others who are survivors just as I am. My self portriat was hung on the same wall as a portrait painted of a little girl who was captured by the Nazis and this little girl was sent to a camp-alone….and the way that enriched me to think about her and what she endured to survive and to compare with myself…it is so surreal to think about the terrors many have gone through in various ways in life and how we work to overcome them-and how many cannot keep up and give up.
The entire event-the art exhibit-was healing and it gave me the desire to want to be a part this year-and next year and after that some more years….and that is why I volunteered for such a project as to expose myself to public places and to press forward through my fears-to go in and out of large buildings which scare me the most-because this exhibit meant so much to me. Thinking of that little girl.