Friday, May 31, 2013


lisa headphones03

Granddaughter Lisa, seen here enjoying the pink headphones we sent her for her ninth birthday, has been listening to stereophonic music on headphones for much of her life.

Not so for her ancient grandfather.

I, who was born two days before the first atomic explosion, also pre-date commercial stereophonic sound.

I was in junior high school in 1958 when the first two-channel stereo vinyl records came onto the market. Our neighbors, the aptly-named Joneses, were the first people I knew to own a stereo phonograph and they played the grooves off of Henry Mancini’s “Music from Peter Gunn” and one or two Johnny Mathis albums.

Nobody I knew, including my audiophile high school band director, had headphones.

My first encounter with headphones came around 1960 or 1961 at a record store on Main Street in Lafayette, Ind. The store had two or three headphone-equipped turntables on a big table up at the front of the store by the plate glass window. They made it possible to listen to records before you bought them and without disturbing other shoppers. I spent hours being amazed at what I could hear on headphones that eluded my notice when played through speakers.

But it wasn’t until 1968 or ‘69, when I bought a Fisher stereo with a headphone jack, that I bought my first set of headphones. They were made by David Clark and were considered excellent for their day. The David Clark Co,. is out of the audiophile business now, but pretty much owns the aviation headphone market.

Headphone use really took off in 1979 with the introduction of the Walkman by SONY, which paved the way for an even greater explosion of personal stereo music with the iPod in November, 2001.

I have several sets of earbuds and headphones, but I have yet to find a pair that are as comfortable as those old David Clark ‘phones.

Maybe I should try some pink ones like Lisa’s.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lisa's birthday

Looks like we hit a home run with the new pink headphones.
She says they sound great and are the most comfortable she's had!


cool pipe

I have a big pile of old photo prints stacked up on a box next to my desk and, not being able to think of anything profound to blog about, I reached over, grabbed the first photo that came to hand and scanned it.

It’s a Polaroid shot of me trying to look cool, probably during the first few months of my freshman year at Indiana State when I thought smoking a pipe might make me look more intellectual. Hah! I just look like an 18-year-old kid with a pipe.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Half a century ago this week

dhs commencement 01

I let an anniversary get past me this week – Monday was the 50th anniversary of the Delphi High School Class of 1963 commencement.

That’s me on the far right, adjusting my gown in the school auditorium before we lined up and filed into the gym next door for a mostly forgettable ceremony. It was one of those days when I was happy to be an underachiever because that meant I escaped having to come up with valedictorian or salutatorian remarks.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.


dino wedding

Every now and then I come across a photo that makes me exclaim, “Dang! I wish I’d thought of that!”

This is just such a photo, called to my attention by the witty dinosaur aficionado and blogger Laura Ledford who writes

She calls it the “best wedding photo ever.” I agree.

Second impressions

starbucks again

I’m back at the new Starbucks for a second impression.

It’s still kinda noisy and the baristas are clearly new to the job and acting like spastic puppies. And the cheese Danish isn’t as good as what I can get across the street at Panera.

But I did get a primo parking place for my K1200GT (see photo) and they are doing a pretty brisk business.

I broke out the FirstGear MeshTex jacket this morning after doing some heavy sweating on the bike yesterday afternoon in my German Polizei leather jacket. The difference is dramatic. The MeshTex feels like riding in a t-shirt and is perfect for humid temperatures in the 80s. It lacks the visual impact of the Polizei jacket, but that becomes a secondary concern on a hot day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Congratulations, Sophie!

sophie award

Our neighbor Sophie Holland is the 101.7 KISS FM “Rockin’ Apple Award” Teacher of the Year for 2013!

Sophie teaches advanced placement history at Greene County Tech Junior High School in Paragould.

Here she is with her award and some radio station guy.

I love being the first to break a news story. Always have. Always will.

The Dora Report

dora 1st bath 01

Dora had her first bath this morning and got her nails trimmed. The breeder sent us these photos.

dora 1st bath 02

Oh, Dora. What blue eyes you have!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Welcome to Starbucks!

starbucks001The new Starbucks at 2303 Stadium Blvd. is finally open.

starbucks002 I noticed the “Now Open” sign when I rode past awhile ago on my way to pick up a prescription from the Parker Road Walmart pharmacy and made a mental note to check it out on my way home. One of the baristas said they’ve been open since Friday.

As far as I know, this is the first free-standing Starbucks in town. There are two inside the Mall at Turtle Creek – in Target and at Barnes & Noble.

I wondered if this Starbucks would pose a serious threat to Panera, which is just north. I really don’t think so. It only has indoor seating for about 35 and the outdoor seating will become useless once the heat of summer is upon us. They do have free Wifi (which I’m using right now) and a pleasant ambiance.

My only complaint is with the jarring clatter the baristas are generating as they go about their work. I don’t recall noticing that at a Starbucks before, but there doesn’t seem to be anything acoustically unique about the place.

So I got myself a grande frappuccino, fired up my netbook, logged into the Wifi and here I am.

Her birthday approaches…

lisa dogs

My granddaughter Lisa turns 9 on Thursday! Pictured here with Emmy (Bichon) and Skippy Joe Jones (Cocka-poo).


Twenty-six days old and growing fast.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thanks for your service, Jay, and for the introduction


I was sitting on the patio with my dog a few minutes ago when I suddenly flashed on a memory of the first real gun I ever got my hands on.

From the time of my birth until the spring of my third grade year, we lived at 609 East Franklin Street in Delphi, Ind. There was a big brick double across the alley to the east of our house that was occupied at one point by the Taylors and the Kents.

Jay Taylor had been a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II and his government issue M1911A-1 semiautomatic pistol lived in the top right drawer of a desk near the back door of the family’s apartment.

His daughter Jeannie, who was the same age as I was, showed it to me when we were probably five or six years old. I thought it was pretty cool, even if it wasn’t a revolver like Hopalong Cassidy carried. I was also puzzled by its single-action design because nothing happened if you pulled the trigger.

I have no idea if it was loaded, but it’s a good thing I didn’t know you had to cock the hammer to make the trigger function. I’d like to think Jay kept it unloaded, but there is the possibility that it had a full seven rounds in the magazine. I knew nothing about the safety lever, so it may or may not have been on.

I guess it made a big impression on me because I’ve had a version of the Colt 1911 for several years. Mine is the Combat Commander with a shorter barrel than the military version and is equipped with a CrimsonTrace laser sight.

I think Jay would have been impressed.

Friday, May 24, 2013

On the threshold of another Memorial Day Weekend

panera wifiI was going to mow the lawn this afternoon, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to toss my netbook into a saddlebag and ride my K1200GT down to Panera for some coffee and wifi.

It’s hard to believe that Memorial Day Weekend is upon us already. As usual, we have no plans other than to help Morgan prepare to move her stuff from our house to her new home.

She’s been with us since October and it will feel strange to have so much space available again, but we’ll find a way to cope.

My Indianapolis BMW Club compadre Rich Nathan is in Los Angeles this weekend, having ridden his R1100RS out to attend his daughter’s wedding. He invited me to ride along, but I had to pass because I have my own West Coast ride planned for July.

Rich left last weekend, spent Monday night with our friends the Baloughs in Alma, Colo., and checked in on Facebook yesterday morning while breakfasting at the Mad Greek Cafe in Baker, Calif. on the edge of the Mojave Desert. I’m envious, but I’ll get my turn.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

God help the Brits

Pray that the Brits find a way to deal with the Islamification of their country.

I pity the fool who smokes Camels

camel ad 1954

This was the back cover of the September, 1954 Popular Science.

Given what we know today and current attitudes about smoking, it’s hard to read these testimonials and believe these people weren’t complete morons.

But they weren’t. The just believed what the tobacco companies told them about health and their addiction.

I started smoking in 1961 – my junior year of high school and continued for about 15 years off and on – mostly on. Smoking-related cancer of the larynx cost my dad his voice when he was in his 60s. Happily, both of my parents were able to quit and spent their twilight years smoke-free.

I smoked the occasional pack of Camels, but my preferred brand from college onward was Viceroy. I was up to three packs a day when I quit around 1978.

Smoking is a brutally stupid habit. I was reminded of that last evening when the prospective buyer of my del Sol and his daughter returned from a test ride and appeared in the driveway, both smoking cigarettes. I don’t know if they smoked in the car or not, but I’m glad I sent them off on their ride with the roof panel stowed in the trunk.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dora at 22 days

dora 22 days

Just got the latest photos of our little blue merle Aussie girl Dora from the breeder.

Looks like she has blue eyes, but I understand that can change as she matures.

Going away, one way or another

del sol clean

It’s time for my 1994 Honda del Sol to go to a new home.

My neighbor has a coworker who is coming to look at it this evening with an eye to buying it for his daughter. I just checked the Kelley Blue Book value online and determined that it’s somewhere between Good and Fair condition, which puts its value between $1,835 and $1,335. I will point this out and offer it for $1,000.

If he doesn’t want it at that price, I’ll donate it to charity where I can deduct at least the Fair condition value on next year’s income tax return.

I cleaned all of my junk out of the cabin and trunk, ran it through a $4 car wash, vacuumed and Armoralled and, other than the blasted out paint job, it looks pretty decent for a 19-year-old car with 228,000 miles on it.

I loved this little car and it was a pleasure to drive. I made a couple of trips to Florida, one to Colorado, another to Long Island, and hundreds of trips around the Midwest in it. It still drives and handles like new.

Hmmmm. Maybe I should keep it. It sure was fun driving down to the carwash with the top off this afternoon…



The guy and his daughter showed up about 6 p.m. and took the car for a spin.

When he asked me what I want for it, I showed him the Kelley Blue Book numbers and said I would be willing to sell for $1,000. Calling it a “northern car” with probably lots of undercarriage rust, he offered me $800 and then asked what my bottom offer was.

I stood fast on $1,000 and they left. He said I could contact him through my neighbor if I change my mind.

I won’t. Truth be told, I prefer the anonymity of donating the car to charity to the knowledge that it’s in the hands of an inexperienced young driver. With its fat tires, it’s extremely treacherous on snow and ice and almost certainly above the skill level of a novice driver.


geiger counter ad

I saw one of these in a cheesy 1950s sci-fi movie the other night. I remember seeing “Technical Associates” on the dial.

This ad is from the September, 1954 issue of Popular Science – a time when a lot of Americans had dreams of striking it rich prospecting for uranium.

I seem to recall my chemistry/physics teacher having one of these – or something like it – in his classroom.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another day of Arkansas spring rain

I’m back at my regular table at Panera for the first time in several days.

It’s raining. Again.

We were awakened by a thunderclap about 3 a.m. by a storm that dumped an inch of water into my rain gauge. The rain abated long enough for me to ride the K75S to the post office about 12:30 p.m., but fired up again around 3 p.m. I left the house about 4 o’clock and noticed we had another half-inch of water in the gauge.

There are storms lined up all the way out to Oklahoma City, so I’ll be curious to see what’s in the rain gauge tomorrow morning.

Setting up my netbook, I found myself listening to the worst cover of Rhiannon I’ve ever heard. I fired up the Soundhound app on my iPhone and it identified the perpetrators as a group called Best Coast from an album of Fleetwood Mac cover songs. The background music here is usually okay, but this song wasn’t.

I hope someone is collecting shoes for the victims of yesterday’s tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. When Joplin, Mo., was hit two years ago this week, our friend Susan checked with relief organizations there to find out what they needed most and the answer was shoes. A lot of people lose their shoes when a tornado hits and it’s hell trying to walk barefoot through the sharp, pointy debris. Susan organized a shoe drive and we took about three trailer loads of shoes to Joplin a couple of days later.

Moore is about 6 1/2 hours from here. If Susan does another shoe drive, I’ll go along to document it, like it did the last one.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dora update

Dora, our 20-day-old Aussie pup is getting plenty of loving and socializing from her breeder’s family.

Here she is being cuddled by little Alivia and again under one of her siblings at naptime.

dora snuggle 20 daysdora naptime 20 daysWe really appreciate breeder Joleen Marples keeping us updated with frequent photos of Dora’s development. We get to pick her up and bring her back to her Forever Home on June 22.

Godspeed, Ray


Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, passed away today at 12:31PM PT at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany after a lengthy battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74. At the time of his passing, he was surrounded by his wife Dorothy Manzarek, and his brothers Rick and James Manczarek.
Manzarek is best known for his work with The Doors who formed in 1965 when Manzarek had a chance encounter on Venice Beach with poet Jim Morrison. The Doors went on to become one of the most controversial rock acts of the 1960s, selling more than 100-million albums worldwide, and receiving 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and five multi-Platinum albums in the U.S. alone. "L.A.Woman," "Break On Through to the Other Side," "The End," "Hello, I Love You," and "Light My Fire" were just some of the band's iconic and ground-breaking songs. After Morrison's death in 1971, Manzarek went on to become a best-selling author, and a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right. In 2002, he revitalized his touring career with Doors' guitarist and long-time collaborator, Robby Krieger.
"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," said Krieger. "I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."
Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy, brothers Rick and James Manczarek, son Pablo Manzarek, Pablo's wife Sharmin and their three children Noah, Apollo and Camille. Funeral arrangements are pending. The family asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please make a memoriam donation in Ray Manzarek's name at

From The Doors official web site

Semper Fi, Y’all


I just finished my first book on my new Kindle Paperwhite – “The Second World War” by Antony Beevor.

Beevor has written several books about the war that were full of fascinating stuff. This book had some interesting insights into the thinking that shaped the post-war world.

And there were little gems I’d never known, like the fact that the Confederate Battle Flag was raised by U.S. Marines who captured Shuri Castle, a strategic high point, during the Battle of Okinawa.

I did an internet search and found a more detailed account, along with this photo.

You can read it here:

In the mail this morning

pt plates&saucers

Here are three Wallace China Co. Westward Ho Pioneer Trails dinner plates and three saucers in the same pattern that arrived this morning from Las Vegas.

I bought them a week or so ago in two separate Ebay auctions from the same vendor. After a little back-and-forth discussion, he agreed to combine the purchases to save on shipping, which still came to $27 and change, plus insurance.

They were packed with a bizarre jumble of bubble pack, FedEx mailers and medical adhesive tape. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen adhesive tape used for packing. WTF? Maybe the guy works in a hospital.

Anyway, this gives me a set of four Pioneer Trails dinner plates and saucers for my two recently acquired Pioneer Trails coffee cups.

We’re expecting lots of company over the Independence Day holiday, so I expect my cowboy china collection will get some use.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dora today

The breeder sent us photos of our puppy taken today.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It’s the real one

lisa liberty

Granddaugher Lisa gets her first look at the real Statue of Liberty after five years of looking at the half-size reproduction at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

That’s her mom, Nicky, on the left. Son Steve shot the photo about 1:30 p.m. CDT today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flying to New York

lisa minneapolis st paul airport

My son Steve posted this photo of granddaughter Lisa this afternoon during a layover at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s Humphrey Terminal.

I presume they are flying from their home in Las Vegas to New York City to spend a weekend with Nicky and maybe do a little house-hunting.

Lisa, as always, is a Force of Nature.

Excuses, excuses

If my day was going according to plan, I would be sitting in my $8.43 red Walmart chair right now, next to my tent with my Indianapolis BMW Club friends at the European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky.

But my day did not go according to plan.

I am, instead, sitting at my desk in my upstairs office and my bike is directly beneath my feet in the garage.

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend since I got back from Daytona Beach Bike Week in March but digestive turmoil and a rain-filled forecast trashed my plans.

Mostly it was the rainy forecast. It’s a 6½ hour ride from here to Burkesville, not counting gas and rest stops. I had planned to hit the road about 7 a.m., but it was raining steadily and an examination of the radar made it clear that I would be in rain most of the way to the rally and could probably expect to set up my tent in the rain.

And the Weather Channel app on my iPhone says there is a 60 percent chance of rain tonight and again tomorrow, decreasing to 50 percent on Sunday.

As much as I enjoy seeing my Indy friends and rallying, that doesn’t sound like a good time to me.

I just sent an email to the rally organizers asking if I can still get a rally shirt and pin, since I pre-registered and paid $40. I am hopeful they will say yes.

I toyed briefly with the idea of driving my Lexus SUV to the rally, but dismissed the idea after I calculated it would cost close to $125 in gasoline. Plus, I would still end up setting up a tent in the rain and spend the weekend dodging raindrops.

And, yes, there was a time when I would have gone anyway. But when a guy gets to his mid-60s with more than 300,000 BMW miles behind him, he has pretty much run out of things to prove to himself. I’ve ridden hundreds of miles in downpours and, even though I have the best waterproof gear I’ve ever owned, I don’t care to do it this weekend.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In the mail this morning

pt cups02

I probably paid about $10 too much for these two Pioneer Trails cups from the Wallace China Westward Ho series, but they don’t show up very often on Ebay and I had none in my collection.

So there.

But I was a little alarmed when I picked up the package at the post office and heard the clink of cup-against-cup when I tipped the box from one side to the other.

When I got home and opened the box I found the sloppiest job of packing I’ve ever seen in my years of buying Western themed china online. It’s a testament to the hardiness of Wallace China’s restaurantware that there were no chips or cracks from rough handling in transit.

pt cups03

So now I await the arrival of three Pioneer Trails saucers and three Pioneer Trails dinner plates from another Ebay vendor.

From the September, 1954 Popular Science

car compass

My dad had a compass installed on the dashboard of our 1951 Ford and I thought it was ultra-cool.

This one is more advanced in that it pretends to give you information on the side-to-side tilt of your car and the rate of acceleration (or deceleration).

cheap tires

And how about this offer of a car tire for a buck? But wait, they’re used tires.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It’s our 12th anniversary!


Maria and I were married 12 years ago today under this quilt in the rotunda of the Boone County (Ind.) Courthouse by County Clerk and longtime friend Lisa Garoffolo.

Given Maria’s love for quilting and fabric art, it was the perfect venue.

The timing was perfect, too. We had both been divorced, but had taken our time about jumping back into marriage until we had our heads on straight and knew it was right.

It was right and I think God every day for this brilliant, loving woman.

Jack’s first encounter with the indestructible Varsity Ball

We gave Jack a $2.50 Walmart beach ball a couple of weeks ago, which lasted all of 90 fun-filled seconds until he punctured it.

I searched the internet for an indestructible ball and discovered the Varsity Ball which has survived prolonged encounters with lions and tigers and bears.

I ordered one and it arrived this morning. Here’s how it went before the Varsity Ball wore him out.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I think it’s stress

photo (42) Yesterday’s Pipida scan showed my gallbladder is working fine.

So now I get to endure an endoscopy and a colonoscopy on June 4. At 6:15 a.m. Oh, well. I’ve been putting off the colonoscopy for a couple of years, so I might as well get it over with.

My M.D. daughter-in-law opined that I may have diabetic gastropariesis. I just looked up the symptoms:

Typical symptoms include:

  • Nausea - sometimes
  • Vomiting - no
  • Abdominal bloating - no
  • Abdominal pain - sometimes
  • Feelings of fullness after only a few bites of food - no
  • Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - sometimes
  • Changes in blood sugar levels - maybe
  • Lack of appetite - no
  • Excessive weight loss – hell no

I’m more inclined to think I’m dealing with stress-induced or aggravated Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I had something like it when I was in my teens and early 20s, but it stopped cold when I learned Transcendental Meditation. I haven’t been a regular meditator since late in 1992, but the times I’m included TM in my morning routine lately, my symptoms have abated. Since it costs me nothing to try, I’m going back to the prescribed regimen of 20-minute meditations twice daily and see what happens.

God knows I’ve been under enough stress over the past couple of years.

Does posting about my medical adventures qualify me as an old person?

Does riding 1,000 to a weekend motorcycle rally redeem me as an active late middle-ager? One can hope.

Our Lady of the Roses

This figure of Mary, which we acquired from Maria's brother when he became Amish, spent several years in parts of the yard that were prone to weeds. Now she has a more appropriate setting

Monday, May 13, 2013

I like it

Surprisingly smooth and not hoppy.

Family portraits

mercy mom

One of those little gray butterballs is our little girl Dora, shown here with her littermates and her proud mother Mercy.

Here’s Storm, the father:

storm dad

Two hours of intense boredom


This is how I spent a couple of hours this morning at St. Bernards Medical Center, getting my gallbladder function scanned.

The worst part of it, aside from the discomfort of lying flat on my back for two hours on a steel table, was the tedium.

I was glad to have Maria along for company and photography.

We expect to get results tomorrow or Wednesday.


Waiting for a Pipida scan at St. Bernard's  Medical Center and listening to horror stories about kneecaps being put in upside down and backward.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oh, Canada!

Canadian-grown heirloom tomato from Kroger.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It’s Dora


Joleen Marple, the breeder we’re getting our puppy from, sent a couple more photos of our blue merle little girl.

We’re decided to call her Dora, which was my grandmother’s name and goes nicely with her last name of Flora. The name means “gift.”

Joleen said she’ll start calling her Dora so she’ll know her name by the time we take her home on June 22.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Joining our family

blue merle puppy

I just put money down on this 10-day-old blue merle Aussie female puppy.

Maria has been praying for a puppy for weeks and I stumbled across an Arkansas breeder on Facebook this morning who had two blue merle females in a litter born May 1.

She gets to come to our house on June 22, which creates a quandry for me, since I had planned to be at the BMW RA rally at the Biltmore that weekend.

What to do? What to do?

In the meantime, we’re accepting suggestions for names.

Our hope is that, given the appropriate amount of time, she and Jack can have a couple of litters and we’ll be up to our eyes in Aussie puppies. What a happy circumstance!

Happy Birthday, Blog

My blog is nine years old today.

I never expected it to continue this long, but here we are. This is my 4,818th blogpost. The counter I installed in May, 2007, has recorded more than a quarter-million pageviews since then.

When I began blogging on Monday, May 10, 2004, I was a youthful 58 years old, living in a 101-year-old Queen Anne Victorian house in Thorntown, Ind. with my wife, who was working at The Indianapolis Star’s Metro West Bureau in Avon.

My stepson Austin was living with us and still in high school and his sister Morgan was a student at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and the Humanities on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

We had one dog – Ruthie – and I was looking forward to my second riding season on my new 2003 BMW K1200GT.

If you had told me I would be living in Arkansas and liking it some nine years hence, I wouldn’t have believed it. Ditto for having my second Australian shepherd, driving a Lexus SUV, and owning an office building in downtown Jonesboro.

My son Sean was in Portland then and still is, but his brother Steve and his wife and daughter moved from Cincinnati to Las Vegas and are preparing to move again to New York City, or maybe just across the river to New Jersey.

Austin has grown into a responsible man with sensitivity and character. Morgan has been married, moved to Arizona, divorced, moved in with us in October, landed her dream job as a children’s librarian, and is buying a home for herself here.

And we have renters living in our Thorntown house.

Isn’t life interesting?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

I hate it

I hate it when the people in the booth behind me fail to control their kid.
I can assure you that neither of my sons was ever permitted to annoy other diners thusly.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Capt. Kroon’s V-E Day Letter

pwrite[3]Sixty-eight years ago today, 26-year-old Capt. Philip C. Kroon, an artillery officer with the U.S. Army's 144th Field Artillery Group, took pen in hand in the garden outside an Austrian hotel and wrote a letter to his young bride in Redlands, Calif.
It was V-E Day - Victory in Europe Day - and the young captain from Grand Rapids, Mich., had been in combat since his unit came ashore in Normandy a few weeks after the June 6, 1944, invasion. He was looking forward to coming home, but mindful that the war against Japan seemed far from finished and that he might be needed in the Pacific Theatre.
Here is what he wrote on a sheet of Adolf Hitler's personal letterhead, liberated a day or two earlier from the Führer's Berghof retreat at nearby Berchtesgaden:

My adored wife,
Finally the work of the past year for me and over three years for the nation is completed. The war here is over completely. Of course, we are glad it is over, but to us it is sort of an anti-climax. For nearly two months now, we have completely routed the Germans. During the past few days we have seen steady streams of German soldiers marching to the rear. At somemail[3] places, even the super-highway is jammed. It was a sight never to forget and one that only happens once in a lifetime. I wanted to get some pictures of it, but my camera was stolen some time ago. I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry. I now have another very good German camera that I took from a German soldier, so am better equipped than before.
Now that we are no longer at war here, I should have more time to write you and expect to get off better than one letter every five or six days. In fact, it's now been seven days this time. I'm sorry, darling. I'll try to make it up to you.
About a week ago I went through the Dachau concentration camp. Any pictures you see or stories you hear are only a small part of the picture. The stench was indescribable as well as the actual scenes. I saw some of the toughest soldiers nauseated. I won't tell you any details for they shouldn't be put on paper. It was the most terrible thing I have ever seen.
In contrast, a couple of days ago I went through one of Hitler's palaces -not the one at Berchtesgaden, but an old Hapsburg palace  that he took over. It was a paragon of beauty and symmetry. In the two main floors was not a sign of Nazi Occupation except that most of the furnishings had been looted, mainly from France. p&j[4]
The walls were covered with priceless tapestries, the floors with thick pile rugs. We were nearly the first soldiers in the place and looked through it by ourselves. We went snooping in the cellar and came across two storage rooms. One was nearly filled with medals, of which I have a few choice ones. I also found one silver knife (not table) in the house - the only one there, so I suppose it belonged to Hitler. In another room, we found some stationery, of which this is the choicest. His personal. I have quite a bit of it and will send it home. You can give a sheet to various people, but save some of each kind, especially this with just "Der Führer" on it. I also came across some other excellent souvenirs - One pair of field glasses - the best I have ever seen - fifteen power - this may not mean much to you, but they are two and ½ times as powerful as the ones I and Pop used to have The must be worth three or four hundred dollars. I also have a pair of Luftwaffe swords that are not in the best of shape but will look good fixed up and crossed in my den if I ever have one.
Guess what, Sweets. I shaved off my mustache today - because the war is over. No one noticed it so I guess it couldn't have been so good. I'm not making any plans for a quick return home, beloved, nor am I getting any fancy ideas about it. I would give anything just to spend a few weeks with you, but there is much to be done, both here and in the Orient and I'm sure I'll be one place or the other.
Some will get to go home on their way to the Pacific and rumors are already afloat, but I'm not counting on anything - then we won't have the disappointment.
These Bavarian Alps are really beautiful, dearest mine. They are all snow covered yet, although we are not very high and last week we had snow in Munich. Today was marvelous. The view of the mountains is similar to that from our front yard, though the mountains are much closer and not as high.
During the last mad rush we have been getting practically no mail and I'm way behind, although today I got the letter you wrote on the eve of our anniversary. Sweet - just as they all are - but why not, with the sweetest wife in the world writing them. I wish my letters would get there more regularly. You probably have had a batch since that time, but it is nicer when they come spread over a long time.
Darling, I adore you completely. I don't dream of you often, but that isn't my fault. When I'm awake I can control my thoughts and they always include you. Always I wish you could share the beautiful scenery and the old German cities - Worms, Nurnberg, Augsberg, Munich, Saltzburg and the rest with me. Maybe, in future years, after they are rebuilt we will see them together. Anything we could do together would be wonderful. One thing in particular - I miss you so, Jeanie. I'll always adore you.
Your only Phil
A little picture of you know who.


The cease fire order for XV Corps.

Capt. Kroon came home six months later. He made a career of the Army, taking a reduction in rank to sergeant in order to remain in a downsized postwar military. His last duty post was as an instructor in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Purdue University. Following his retirement, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service. He died of cancer in 1988. Diane, the first of his three daughters, was born Oct. 30, 1946, and grew up to be my first wife.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

BMW throttle friction screw

throttle screw

How many folks know about the throttle friction screw for early K-bikes and airhead BMW motorcycles?

I have one on my '94 K75S and I had one on my '81 R100RS. It can be tightened or loosened to achieve just the right amount of friction to overcome the throttle return spring and keep the throttle from snapping shut when you take your right hand off of the grip.

I was chagrined to discover my '91 K100RS right handgrip assembly was not drilled and tapped for the screw, so I used a Bob's Wrist Rest instead.

Here are the parts numbers, but I don't think any dealers carry them anymore.

  • K bikes:  32-72-1-454-414
  • Airheads:  32-72-1-230-874

I was wrong. Max BMW has the K-bike version for $9.65.

An ashtray from the ashes of the Third Reich

ashtraySixty-eight years ago this week, Capt. Phil Kroon, a Grand Rapids, Mich., boy serving with the U.S. Army’s 144th Field Artillery Group, had a chance to rummage through Adolf Hitler’s Berghof retreat at Berchtesgaden and a Diplomatic Corps castle down the road.

Capt. Kroon brought home a lot of cool stuff, including this heavy granite ashtray from the Berghof. There’s no chance that Hitler used it because he was a non-smoker. In fact, he had a standing offer of a gold watch for any member of his entourage who quit smoking.

Capt. Kroon was my father-in-law from my first marriage. He took a reduction in rank to remain in uniform when the Army downsized after World War II and served in Okinawa and Korea. He moved his family from Redlands, Calif. to Lafayette, Ind. when he was assigned to the Army ROTC program at Purdue University. That’s how I happened to meet his eldest daughter, Diane.

Phil Kroon was a good man who loved his family, his country, and his church and served them all faithfully until pancreatic cancer took his life in 1988 at the age of 69.

Check back tomorrow to read the letter he wrote to his wife on V-E Day, May 8, 1945.