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Monday, September 5, 2011


Today is Labor Day. As I look up at the VIVIAN, LOUISIANA Water Tower, some 3,000 miles diagonal across America from my home near Seattle, I also look back 70 years in time to my earliest time of recollection of "Labor Day".

My Dad drove Truck & Trailer for Lee & Estes out of Seattle to Portland, Oregon. 70 years ago, the freight was BOMBS in support of Word War II. Little Brother, Jim and I used to take turns on weekends "swamping" with Dad to Portland & back to Seattle. We learned to shift those three gears in the big Sterling Diesels. Scratch a gear and a mark went up on the windshield. Each mark was mental punishment...a reminder to strive for perfection and hoped we would never reach it.

Dad was friends with Dave Beck, the leader of the Teamsters Union. When Dave Beck was sent to the penitentiary for Tax Evasion, it made a lasting impression on me.

Labor Day is also a memory of Big Brother Jay, Little Brother, Jim, and I working summers in the fields in the Kent Valley...working in 1940 - 1941 - 1942 - 1943 - 1944 hoeing spinach, picking beans, tending the Pea Viner harvesting field peas. We ate lunch from the veggies we tended...after walking 5 miles one way from our home on the Stump Ranch.

Yes, we were children...Jim was 4 years old, I was 5 when we started out Summer Jobs.

Many today would say it was criminal - child labor, etc.,

I say it did us good...we learned work ethics...we learned farming...we learned responsibility...we learned how precious having lunch was...we learned the importance to bring home our few pennies to contribute to our family during the years of rationing and shortages. In our family 50% of ALL income was given over to the "family".

I say thank goodness I learned such things early on and feel sorry...yes sorry for youngsters of today...deprived from learning to live in society until - often times - much too late.

VIVIAN, LOUISIANA downtown City Park.

A "fierce" dog with a loud bark...; A tail wagging, "whining" dog as I chatted with him.

Notice the exquisite radiant eyes.

The inevitable Church ... as found in every town of the Bible Belt.

their presence notable on nearly every city / town block as being the most elegant building / property within eyeshot...and being empty most of the time.

I took time out to chat with the "greeters" at one Church - did not photograph it - , will not pursue discussion details; suffice to say, I was not pleased with the response.

A ranch house near VIVIAN, LOUISIANA.

As with most small towns, downtown businesses have closed. The action is found on the outskirts in strip malls - or sometimes not at all. VIVIAN has not entirely escaped losing downtown business, but has retained more than most.

LA 1, Highway 1, North of VIVIAN. There are very nice homes barely visible back in the trees on the left.

LA 1 a bit further on. VIVIAN looks to be a nice place to live. To work? Did not see much opportunity for employment, except in "service" positions.

Then again, one must remember I see things only in passing by...I surely miss 90% of what is really going on.

LA 1...a pleasant country lane void of much of the heavy truck hauling found on US 80.

Walked 14 miles out of VIVIAN. Then drove on into ATLANTA, TEXAS, where SPIA is parked for the night at WALMART...whatever would we do without WALMART !!!

We had three wild fires burning near VIVIAN when I left this morning.

I read on CNN that Texas has 55 wildfires burning in the general area of ATLANTA, TEXAS.

The above photograph is the fire closest to ATLANTA. In the morning, I will walk in the direction of that fire, but miss it by a couple miles to the North.

Discussed the fires with some folks in ATLANTA. Concensus is that they started from natural combustion - temperatures between 105 and 110 F. for the past many days, coupled with the wind from passing Tropical Storm Lee...

We need RAIN down here, folks !


From WALMART, I walked back toward VIVIAN on Texas Highway 77 - a continuation of LA 1. Hwy 77 avoids ATLANTA, TEXAS all together, having a by-pass recently built to the South. I walked the by-pass going East; returned through Hwy 77 "Business" on the way back to SPIA.

Above is Main Street (Hwy 77 Business) as it passes through ATLANTA.

The local Undertaker (Funeral Home).

Some photographs are "washed out". Did not reset my Panasonic properly for the bright Sun after yesterday's cloudy - drizzle day.

Shame on me.

Another portion of Main Street - crossing the well used railroad tracks.

The Railroad Station - when there used to be passenger trains.

My camera shutter did not open all the way. Carrying the camera in my pocket sometimes creates moisture, which "gums" up the camera mechanisms. I try to watch for this - as it happens quite ofter - must have been tired or preoccupied today.

A vestige of the past: This Caboose use to be the "tail - end - Charlie" of all freight trains. The Conductor rode in the Caboose. With today's modern communications, there is no longer need for this railroad car...the Conductor also lost his job.

Down town ATLANTA. approximately 90 % of stores are empty. There is a small shopping center a couple blocks from down town, but most activity hs moved to a new interchange about 1 mile from downtown - where WALMART, McDonalds, CVS, etc. are located.

Walking distance for the likes of me...but not really handy for residents of ATLANTA without a car.

One of the few exceptions...a occupied downtown store...albeit a Second-Hand Children clothing store.

Looking carefully (click click) one can see a Church behind this Sears storefront...another of the active businesses in ATLANTA.

This Church is a couple blocks from the Railroad Station.

This Church is across the street (Main Street) from the previous photographed Church.

and lo and behold, this Church sits in the center of down town...the only Church of the five within 2 blocks of down town that does not occupy one of the most impressive edifices in town. Being closed, I could not ask "how come?" .

there are no less than 5 Churches within two blocks of ATLANTA City Center.

Then, in the exact center of town - next to the Railroad station, 1/2 block is taken up with this War Memorial, honoring all foreign Wars going back to the Spanish American War.

Please click click to read the monument message. Behind is a Military Graveyard.

Would / Could be Memorial Day. The above Mural depicts United States Soldiers, retreating - for the first time in US history - from the Chosin Reservoir in the far North of Chinese Soldiers poured over the Yalu River to push United Nations troops back.

My older Brother, Jay, was part of that retreat. Jay was a tank driver - an amphibious tank, part of the 7th Calvary. Jay survived...many did not. Jay passed away from Lukemia a few years ago. My position - perhaps unfounded - is that Jay contracted Lukemia as a result of being one of the victims of the "Down Winders" ... a US Government experiment of purposely releasing Radioactive Gas from the Hanford Plutonium Plant in the Tri-Cities, Washington State, where our family lived and worked from 1945.

A number of my family have served in combat - or combat zones - since World War II;

I mention:

Cecil Brockman, B-24 Radio Gunner over Germany
Frank "Babe" Brockman, Merchant Marine Crewman in the South Pacific
Warren Maynard, Special Forces Marine - only member to survive a raid into North Korea
Benton "Jay" Maynard, 7th Calvary in Korea
Jim "little Brother", Air Force Pilot in Viet Nam

We have a large family and I am certain to have left some out...

Tomorrow morning, SPIA remains in WALMART as I walk West across a burning Texas.

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