Hello my friends, I am in the process of transfering my wordpress.com blog to my new website www.ittybittyboomer.com– please check out the new website, and register there to continue following me while I’m in this strange time of transition!
With any luck within a week everything here will be there …
My grandson Daniel, and grandnephew Nigel are 18 years old and have both been in JROTC at their high school for the last three to four years. Nigel was Corp Commander (the highest student position of their program) this last year, and graduated Thursday night. Last week, my daughter (Daniel’s mother) gave the following tribute to the great grandfather of these two amazing young men – my father – Albert (Holguin) Ford – through tears, and to a standing ovation by the audience of over 500 people including 100 Cadets their proud families and friends. I share her talk with you (with minor editing for clarity) in memory of my daddy, and in the memory of all who have proudly served our wonderful country …
“In 1916, as a very young woman pregnant with her first child made her way across the Rio Grande, leaving Mexico behind so she could have her child born in the US in hopes of a better life. Maria Ojeda Holguin gave birth to a son on April 23rd, 1917 in El Paso Texas where they lived till the child was about 3. He was unofficially adopted by the inventor of a tortilla and taco shell making machine, the young family moved to Watts, California where he spent the rest of his early life growing up.
As a teen he was a competitive swimmer, and through hard work, perseverance and commitment he earned a full swimming scholarship to UCLA, something unheard of for a poor Hispanic boy from East LA.
At the beginning of WWII in 1939; wanting to serve his country, he made the decision to join the Army Air Corp. Being college educated, he had a small advantage. He not only earned his pilot’s license but through determination and strength of mind he also earned the rank of Lieutenant. He served his country proudly somewhere in Europe, never really giving anyone a specific location or what his exact duties were. Upon returning home, he continued his pilot career with the military as a flight instructor until approximately 1948. He loved flying and he realized that he loved teaching just as much.
He met the love of his life at the end of 1949 and they were married a few months later. He stayed on reserve status until 1952 when he returned to active duty and was deployed to Korea as a Pilot, this time being promoted to Captain. His duties were to refuel other aircrafts while airborne. He again was very tight lipped about his exact duties, as I have learned that many military personnel were at this time.
In 1955, he was transferred to Hickam AFB in Hawaii and served with a squadron that performed air rescue missions for distressed and missing aircraft in the middle of the Pacific. In his spare time, he took up a new and exciting challenge … surfing. He soon was competing at Makaha and on the infamous North Shore of Oahu.
As 1957 rolled around, he was transferred to Vandenberg AFB, California, a Strategic Air Command base. Though he was still a pilot, he was assigned to the Pacific Test Range Missile Program in its earliest developing stages. As a Missile Safety Officer, he was responsible for investigating accidents surrounding missile launches and missiles that had to be destroyed due to faulty launches. In his spare time he formed the Vandenberg Air Force Base Surf Club where he taught surfing to youth and military personnel.
In the early 60’s, despite his experience and expertise, he discovered that because he was a minority he had been twice passed up for a promotion to Major. There were many other non-minority officers that had continued to be promoted. It is a little known fact that minorities at that time were rarely promoted to anything above Captain. The rule was, if you were passed up twice for a promotion, you were out. This caused him to lose his Pilots status and he became a casualty of being “RIFed” (a Reduction in Force). It was a hard defeat to take, especially since he was only 4 years short of retirement and had a family to care for.
In order to save his retirement status he set aside his pride, and had the fortitude to re-enlist as an Airman but was quickly promoted to a Staff Sgt. In 1966 this time off to Saigon, Vietnam, he was assigned to the Staff Judge Advocate’s Office. Again, like many military personnel in combat situations, he remained reluctant to share about his actual duties overseas. It was upon his return from Saigon, his family learned that his duties were not sitting in an office, but rather flying in helicopters to the demilitarized zone to assist with POW exchanges.
Ending his third war tour, his final place to be stationed was back at Hickam AFB serving out his last two years of service doing “office work”. In 1971, he retired, moving ranks from Captain to Major. No sooner did he return to Hawaii, he was right back in the water, this time as a Licensed Outrigger Canoe Captain, a lifeguard trainer for the beach lifeguards, and a highly recognized & acknowledged surf instructor at his beloved Waikiki Beach where he taught literally thousands of people from all over the world to surf. He continued to be an active part of the world renowned Waikiki Beach Boys Canoe Club.
Upon moving back to California in 1984 (now 67 years old) he taught himself and his grandchildren to snow ski, and competed in the Boreal Ridge Coca-Cola senior slalom racing events until trees became too much of an obstacle (trees don’t move, even for the Major). This only redirected his focus to teaching skiing to children with special needs and fellow seniors. His mission in life continued to be apparent: to learn, to teach and to encourage others to do the same. He insisted that one should keep pushing forward no matter what the challenges or obstacles you face are and to move past the disappointments, always saying: “Let’s go baby!”
He lived by the Air Force Core Values: Integrity first, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do
As the sun rose on December, 23, 1999, surrounded by his loved ones, Retired Major Albert Ford passed away. Big Al, Dad, Grandpa (or GP on the beach because of all the ladies in bikinis….) would have been 96 on April 24. Big Al’s wishes were to be cremated and, despite the fact that he was “The Major”, his wishes were honored and his ashes were scattered just off the shore of Sheraton Beach in Waikiki. His beach boy cronies gave him a traditional Beach Boy’s farewell – leis scattered in the water, the Honu (sea turtles) coming to take him back to the sea, a mist of rain from the mountains … one last ride on the canoe, one last wave to catch…….
Lt. Col. Brannon, could you please join me on stage? (Daniel was already standing by her side holding my Dad’s folded and encased flag from the USAF from when he passed away)
Though a modest man, Retired Major Albert Ford was a very proud man. He could not have been any more proud of the legacy he left behind ~ his most important and cherished of them all, his grandbabies and great grandbabies. Big Al has 3 generations sitting in this room this evening, including his daughter, son, 2 granddaughters, a grandson and 4 of his 15 great grandchildren.
It is with great honor that I stand here this evening with these two astounding young men, sharing the story of their great grandfather. I know he would have been most proud of these two gentlemen. On behalf of the entire family, Tech Sgt. Daniel Chabino would like to present Lt. Col Nigel Brannon with the ceremonial flag that was presented to the family by the United States Air Force he so proudly served for more than 28 years.
It is your dedication to learning, determination to achieve everything you can possibly achieve, your ability to lead, guide and teach others to do the same and to be your very best was everything grandpa sought to instill in all of us. And last but not least, Nigel, you love surfing!
Thank you Casa Robles JROTC for giving me the opportunity to share with you the memoirs of a Pilot, the teacher, a surfer, our grandfather, The Major.”
It was a simple, 2 day trip to Eureka – a small town five and a half hours away from where I live, on the north coast of California. Hubby had a job that would take us there for either a one hour or two day job. As it turned out, it was a one-hour job plus waiting until the next day for environmental lab results so we could head the five and a half hours back to Sacramento.
Our early afternoon arrival allowed us to get our business done in time to overnight the samples. Given the cold temperatures and rainy conditions, we spent the afternoon napping, and then sharing a leisurely dinner at a little café on the waterfront.
Wednesday we had time to explore while awaiting the return of lab results so we took a drive about forty five minutes north of Eureka on Highway 101 to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, part of the Redwood National Forest. The ancient redwood forests in Northern California are, perhaps, the most stunning of all ancient trees in the world. The trees are hundreds of feet tall and as much as 2000 years old. At Lady Bird Johnson Grove there is an easy mile and a half loop that wanders through a bit of the forest. There is only about a 100 foot elevation change, but you get a glimpse of the terrain and growth common in this area.
Traces of the hail from a passing morning squall were still lining our walk – and a misty veil of fog created a quiet, muted solitude. The wind blowing down on the coast was absent. There was a carpet of huge, deep emerald green ferns, and webs of yards long moss hanging from the winter-bare trees growing under the redwoods. It was humbling walking through these ancient giants – it is impossible not to feel reverence and respect for these living towers
As one who lives a spiritual path that celebrates nature and all living things, I was overcome with love and compassion for all this forest has endured through natural fires (witnessed by the multitude of trees bearing the huge scars at their bases, and yet full and healthy with growth above the scars) and at the hand of man in clear-cut farming of the trees before they were preserved as a national park (or treasure). Had it been warmer, and not quite so wet, I could have stayed there all day and been perfectly contented – the eternal wood nymph!
Too soon it was time to head towards home. On the way back to Eureka, we stopped at one of the many beach parks. In spite of the bone-chilling wind and storm surf conditions, I had to greet my friend the ocean – if only to stand by her side for a moment. Have you felt the power of the ocean lately? Just another reminder of how small we really are.
Just after leaving the beach, we ran across a sign that brought a little reality home, especially after last year’s earthquake in Japan, and subsequent tsunami effect, which actually hit the Northern California coast … it’s a concept that one doesn’t think about often, but …. It happens …
Our little trip to Eureka was enjoyable in so many ways. The last time I was there was in 1963. I don’t think it’s changed much! It was a nice little get away for hubby and me – and I had the much needed pleasure to touching Mother Nature in a very special way. Something we should all do more frequently!
A delightful lady, Jill Baughan, followed me on Twitter this morning – she has an equally delightful website www.JillBaughan.com – which I now have added to my favorite sites … she is all about the importance of play for us grown ups – her “stuff” reminded me that, as adults, we so often forget to play, be silly, do simply fun (totally out of the box) things …
It’s been a while for me … because, you know, life happens and we get so darned serious .. but I remember no so long ago …..
Jumping in those rain puddles with two feet! ….. just last winter … wearing my grandson’s boys size 4 Vans that he’d outgrown … and I love!
Going to Joes Crabshack in Old Sac with a group of my women friends and ALL of us getting up and doing a conga line when the servers were dancing their required line dance ….. can’t tell you how many other customers got up and joined us … that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Making hand puppets out of air sick bags on Southwest Airlines by drawing faces on them with colored markers … and suddenly finding half the airplane was doing the same thing – including the flight attendant giving the safety speech … can you visualize that? It looked like a scene out of Sesame Street and created much joy and laughter on an otherwise tired and boring flight following a difficult board of directors meeting.
Along with others in my work area (the president’s office of the largest state association in California) dressing up for “Talk Like A Pirate Day” in September a few years back … Oh and the looks, laughs and positive comments we got walking around outside at lunch time! It really does exist – September 19, 2011! www.talklikeapirate.com No kidding!
Or roller skating at my grandson “Thing 1″‘s birthday party – I always seem to be almost or actually the oldest one out on the floor these days … but, hey! I love it! And what a great family/inter-generational activity.
The point being … it’s ok to be playful and silly – to have fun, damn it! With abandon! …. we are never too old – and it is amazing how invigorated and alive you feel … Try it! Get out of your comfort zone … you won’t regret it and just think of the memories you’ll be creating!
And while we’re on the subject of feeling alive … Life is short! So be happy, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile! I kinda like the slow kissing thing …. it adds to loving truly and even sometimes laughing uncontrollably because it brings me so much joy to feel alive! Or maybe it’s the one who gives me those slow kisses … hmmmm! Ok, that’s another blog another day … not losing our sensual selves …
I’m guessing today’s just one of those happy days …. full of love and joy – and it’s time to wake the grandsons up this last Friday before their school starts next week – and head off on an adventure!
Hot town, summer in the city, Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty. Been down, isn’t it a pity,
doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city. All around, people looking half dead, walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head… UGH!
I’ve been visiting my son and daughter-in-law in Brooklyn for the last month as she’s been recovering from being struck by a speeding bicyclist in Prospect Park. It’s been delightful (other than the initial reason for my visit) helping with whatever I can (chasing down medical records, domestic chores, meals, accompanying her to appointments as a 2nd set of ears, walking the dog-on-prozac, etc) and especially just spending time with them. Until this last week, even the weather has been delightful!
Prospect Park – it’s beautiful if you’ve never been there! All 550 acres of it!
Until this last week …. Now, I am a California boomer from the Sacramento Valley and we get our fair share of hot summer weather with stretches of 100+ degree heat waves … dry heat … and then the wonderful delta breezes arrive from San Francisco Bay …. or we can escape the heat by simply going to San Francisco where the temperatures are almost certain to be 30 degrees or more cooler on the ocean. But this East Coast excessive heat deal? I have a whole new respect for the people here who have no escape from this truly oppressive heat – and who live with no air conditioning. I couldn’t do it. 105 degree temperatures with heat indexes of 110 to 115? UGH! again!
Last night my son and I decided to head back into Manhattan to the West Village at about 8:30 – it was still about 90 degrees and truly oppressive. Thank goodness for air conditioned subways! We went to Jefferys Grocery on Waverly Place for some incredible seafood (oysters, clams, shrimp and crab legs) and wine and then onto Highlands Contemporary Gastropub on West 10th for beverages … stout ales and Pimms Cup! Yum!
I also wondered how many bachelor parties were in progress at the Stonewall Inn in celebration of today’s first 800 legal same-sex marriages! Kudos to the State of New York for passing this and congratulations to all you wonderful same-sex couples who are finally able to legally celebrate your unions! Hopefully the State of California will not be far behind you.
I am excited that we are going an hour and a half north to Connecticut today – to my son’s boss’s house for an employee appreciation event – partly because I’ve never been to Connecticut and now with this heat wave that they have a swimming pool! The though of sitting even partly submerged in a pool is almost overwhelming! We are also very much looking forward to a day out of the city – away from the claustrophobia of the buildings and added heat of the traffic and into a little more country environment. Maybe it won’t be so hot? Probably not, but at least a different view!
Stay cool, everyone – and will you do me a favor? In honor of Leiby Kletzky, the 8-year old senselessly murdered in Kensington last week, and in honor of his parent’s wishes, please do a random act of kindness for someone today …