Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Small Town Loss

I grew up in what I consider a small town.  Well, at least it was when I was growing up.  I moved from a midwest state into a small, but growing town.  I moved there in 1974 when I was one and the town did not become incorporated until 1978.   We can battle back and forth, but the population at that time was between 5000 and 15,000.  Yep a big difference, but all in all it was small. 

The community technically started as a Army Air Corps rest camp during WWII, but the real start in my eyes was when Mr. McCulloch brought over his manufacturing plant and began to start the growing town.  There was already the lake there dammed up by the Parker Dam, but other than that it was primarily a piece of desert next to some water.  Mr. McCulloch had to bring in people in order to start this wonderful community.   

McCulloch had purchased 11 Lockheed Electras, and formed McCulloch International Airlines, to fly in prospective buyers from all over the country. Splashy magazine ads enticed snow-weary would be customers to take a free flight to Paradise.  When they arrived, they were greeted by one of the Holly salesmen, who taxied them around in the trademark white Jeep.  In all, there were approximately 40 identical vehicles in the fleet, said to be the largest contingent of white Jeeps in the world.--Havasu Magazine

Many of my friends' parents arrived in Lake Havasu that way.  Now, I'm not exactly sure if my father came way of the Electras, but I have to assume he did.  He came out to look at a redi-mix plant since that's what he was doing back in the midwest.  Bet he kicks himself all the time for not purchasing it.  Well, if you know me, then you know what he ended up buying.  Gotta say I enjoyed that rather than I would have a redi-mix plant. 

For the most part, I went to school from kindergarten to 12th grade with the same bunch of people.  Granted some of them went to those other lame elementary schools, but we were all together from 8-12th.  I know some people moved away, but to be honest, we really did not feel your loss.  What I mean by that is that today with facebook, it seems you were always with us.  There were those of you that entered our lives between those 12 years and after putting you in your place, we welcomed you. 

But we have had our share of losses.  And to me being from what I consider a small town, I feel we have had too many.  We have had too many that have died before their prime.  There are too many that have died prior to their 40th birthday.  Crap there were too many that died before their 30th.  And a few before their 20th. 

My question of why will never be answered.  But for a city that supposedly grew by 1,000 each year from 1964-ish,  that is too many for a town of roughly 30,000 by the time I graduated.  And may be other towns have the same number, but I guess when it is your hometown, it hits home. 

The first classmate's funeral I attended was for Nikki.  I remember sitting at that funeral surrounding by friends and enemies (enemies is not the right word, rather people I clearly didn't care for).  I remember that day perfectly like I was sitting there right now.   I remember realizing that I needed to make those enemies my friends because there was only a few thousand of us.  My graduating class was 221/222, which means roughly the entire school during my four years was probably no more than 1200.  Crap some high schools today have that in one graduating class. 

I'm not saying I knew everyone in my high school.  I definitely wasn't friends with all of them.  Because like most schools, there were the clicks, chicks, and jocks.  But in some weird sense, I did know them.  And what I have found over the years is that I've become to know more and more of them because we keep meeting at these memorials. 

I have 364 friends.  Almost one for each day of the year.  Seems like after each one of these memorials, I add a few more.  It isn't that I don't like adding new friends, even though only 120 wished me a happy birthday, but I am sick of doing it after memorials. 

Those that have gone before us watch over us constantly and I am somewhat grateful for that, but I sure in the hell wish they were watching over me standing next to me in person.  Jeff's brother recently wrote-don't forget him.  We won't and we won't ever forget the others as well. 

Am I the only who thinks for a small town, we've lost way too many?

Stay safe my fellow classmates, stay safe.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Big Chill

I believe one of the greatest movies ever made is the Big Chill.  I realize some people don't think so, but I love the movie.  One of those I could watch over and over.  Do you know Kevin Costner is in that movie.  He is Alex.  In the beginning of the movie, the group of friends receive telephone calls and then start preparing to go to a funeral. 

As many if not all of you know that I wear the green and grey to work every day.  I will admit that during the winter, I rarely change my shirt, and hell in the summer I just spray febreze on it.  It is called laziness.  Otherwise I have to take off the name tag, badge, and all the stuff in the pockets and move it all to another shirt.  Um, yea like a 2 minute project, but as I said laziness. 

Every time I prepare my uniform shirt for my Monday after my weekend or a vacation, the beginning of the Big Chill always rolls through my mind.  I do not know why but it always has. 

As you know on January 1, 2012 the National Park Service lost another fine Park Ranger, Margaret Anderson.  I did not go back to work until January 4th, which if you are still a friend of mine on fb, you know it is the greatest day in the world or my birthday. 

As I dressed that day for work and slipped the black elastic band over my badge, I thought back to the beginning of the Big Chill.  I stood there getting dressed looking out the the window to the most beautiful scenery.  The words that flashed through my mind at that moment were not what I expected...

"This might be my last"

It wasn't really a mordid thought, it was just a truth.  However, I do not think Margaret woke up January 1st and thought that. 

I have decided for my birthday and for the rest of my life, I will celebrate every morning that I wake up.  Life is a celebration so CELEBRATE while you have it. 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFSBNkpa0os -  The grey and green

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Envy My Job?

I agree that I have worked in some of the greatest and beautiful locations in the United States.  I can see why you envy my job at times.  Most of the time I post the bonuses of my job...the hikes, the beauty, the quietness, the peace...well technically the good side.  And most other rangers will post the same thing. 

What we don't normally post is the law enforcement side of our job.  We don't talk about getting yelled at by irate visitors because we pulled them over for traveling 60 mph in a 35.  We don't talk about the high speed chases and taking out individuals at gunpoint.  We don't talk about going into the marijuana grow and having shots fired at us.  We don't talk about protecting the park, but in reality protecting the U.S. border (www.nps.gov/orpi)  We don't talk about having to handcuff, search, and take people to jail.  We don't talk about having to search some of the most disgusting vehicles.  We don't talk about having to do CPR on a person for 40 minutes knowing damn well that person is going to die.We don't talk about the 12 hour hike to attempt to find a lost person.  We don't talk about the pucker factor.  Those things aren't beautiful and peaceful to me or you. 

United States Park Rangers handle calls just like the city officers.  Some will say we don't deal with murders, but unfortunately we do....

- Rest in Peace Margaret

- Rest in Peace Kris

- Rest in Peace Joe

- Rest in Peace Steve

- Rest in Peace Kenneth

- Rest in Peace Robert

- Rest in Peace James

- Rest in Peace Karl

Please read each one and remember.  They all hit a cord within me, but Steve's is always on the front of my mind when dealing with visitors for non-violent incidents. 

I only listed the ones I could find in the NPS, but there are many more in the land management field (Forest Service, BLM, State Park Rangers) and honestly any other agencies.  When Brody was shot one year ago, it was amazing how many agencies and individuals who had never met Brody sent him well wishes, prayers, and thoughts.  Even today on Brody's facebook page, there is people who stop by to say a kind word.  The law enforcement world, whether protecting a city or a park, is a family.  The quote below says it all....

"When a police officer is killed, it's not an agency that loses an officer, it's an entire nation." -Chris Cosgriff, ODMP Founder

So I guess I ask again....do you envy my job?