Goodbye Graceful Squirrel

     

(click on photos to zoom)

Scampering through Italian pine

Orange white and brown with bushy tail

Jump to acacia with friend near

Leaving chewed pine cones on the ground

Peering at me through my window

Both musing frozen eye to eye

Daily spirited romp and dance

   

Chattering agile graceful friend

Acrobatic leaps shuffling leaves

Bringing joy to thrilled observer

Watching careful balancing skill

Diving down from upper branch perch

Racing to back lawn or downhill

Leaves Golden Retriever behind

And charging brown Lab bewildered

  

Yesterday entered danger zone

Bird feeders stand and canines glide

Fast down hillside chasing thrown balls

Past gray stone fence to lawn below

Returning with saliva scent

To the next target day or night

Scamperer will tip bird feeder

Seed spill gives gorgeous thief a meal

If dogs appear brave prancer bolts

Up Maple with chattering tease

Until the balancer was caught

By Golden's instinctual thrust

Despite odds comparing prowess

Shimmering dancer’s prance ended

Brash Golden Retriever streaking

Muscular Lab in hot pursuit

Tails wag expecting approval

For their quick innate reaction

Guarding turf from brazen scoundrel

Defying chance of encounter

Slight touch of gymnastic sprinter

Heard whimper outside my abode

Opened door to discern its source

Saw slender one in Golden’s mouth

With sharp death-grip on Retriever’s

Golden jaw where blood was gushing

Yelled in shock and grabbed white towel

She dropped sprinter on stairway

Glimpsed backyard friend for the last time

His splendor was the most stunning

Only inches from me this time

Instead of ever moving blur

Testing all senses to find him

In his perpetual motion

Now just slow breathing and beauty

Spread on cement with Retrievers

Playfully panting over him

When playfellow drew his last breath

Gathered him gently and placed him

In bushes hoping he’d survive

Took Golden in pressing towel

To bloody mouth and came outside

Found Brown Lab with limp dancer

No chattering or moving now

Glance of nature’s final ending

Its harshness and brutal wisdom

Balancing the population

No signal of his companions

Only memories of  brilliance

I will miss my wandering friend

Hope his comrades will return and

Display their natural wonders

The brisk chattering outdoor show

Added peanut and bird feeders

Fountain, garden, and many trees

Soon new friends wander to our home

Even a skunk and opossum

Now trained retrievers still chase balls

Barking toward strangers but smiling

At squirrels, rabbits, Scrub Jays, Hawks,

Finches, Mocking and Humming Birds

In our wildlife sanctuary

Facing sunset, hills and bird bath

Nature’s peaceful ecosystem

Joins us in the joy of being

  

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Hercules the Immense Goliath

Drawn by intense childhood dreams

When King Kong protected me

From harm as I rode his back,

Brookfield Zoo Gorilla cage

At forty through thick window,

Stared in the eyes of immense

Five hundred pound Goliath

Munching grapes like emperor.

Sunny mood, gentle with mice,

Endless quarts of milk swallowed

Brute's brown bristle-brush torso,

Rough-hewn wrinkled hairy head,

Divided by muscle wall

My frame cast dappled shadow

On grey rock sanctuary.

My boys romped to ape's shelter

Before wife with baby came

Giant arose like mountain,

Lightening blaze from fire eyes

Grasped my gaze, enraged  he dashed

Smashed thunder fists on thick glass

Shattering serenity

Terror-stricken faces jumped

Back from rattling refuge cave.

Black janitor smiled and said,

“Don’t you know how to read, man?”.

Mortified, body shaking,

Looked at sign above his den

"Never stare in gorilla’s

Eyes, it challenges his space.”

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Tribute to Chip, Brother, Football Player, Annapolis Submariner, Father

 

(Chip the fisherman, father, and grandfather)

Chip

Click to Zoom Photos

Born Richard J. Lavery III in Morgan Park near Chicago in 1938

On August 14th which later proved to be a very special date

 

(Chip and Val)

(Val, Lewis, and Chip Chicago 1940)

Husky, muscular, athletic, intelligent and handsome lad

Named after and followed the footsteps of his demanding Dad

 

( Dad, Paul, Aunt Jane, Val,Chip, Dan Morgan Park 1946) 

 (Dad Annapolis plebe year 1928)

 (Dad Commander Headquarters Support Activity Yokosuka Japan 1955-7)

Loved fishing anytime and lived in places near the sea

Natural leader who could always explain the world to me

 

As children we would play cards, hide and seek and hike everywhere

We played hard, competitively and no matter what we played fair

 

He would bait my hook, untangle my line and knew all the fish

Even organized a menu telling Gammie what to put on the dish

 

Playing the sax with rhythm, riffs, jazz, classical and rock

Glen Miller, Parker, Desmond, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach

Took me to Lyon & Healy music lessons in Chicago by train

Summer Michigan boys scout camps and 3 day canoe trips in rain

 

Boxing, softball, cowboys and Indians, and piano lessons in Vallejo

Folding newspapers & packing our bikes for our routes in Coronado

 

Dillon beach, Los Coronados islands or Jenner-by-the-Sea

He'd show the way and teach his little brother a better person to be

Taught me to square away my uniform, shoes and drill at MPMA

Win at monopoly, canasta, chess, pool or other games every day

 

Yes he’d tease me, call me names and dunk me in the pool

But never had a malicious thought while making me look a fool

He’d tell a joke and break me up with a belly laugh and roar

I would follow his lead whatever he wanted me to do and more

 

Once on a playground a bully threatened Chip when I was six

I screamed at him to leave Chip alone or I'd give his face a fix

 

He knew better than to mess with these Lavery boys

Despite our daily battles, as a team we could make much noise

 

Inseparable from his loving Chihuahua Tico the mascot of YoHi

Who would wander off, bark, ruffle his fur and go eye to eye

(Tico, white husky Chihuahua, YoHi Mascot) Click to Zoom

 

With any animal ten times his size no matter how vicious or mean

A magnificent and loving pet, his coat shimmering white and clean

 

Long distance track star and halfback at fifteen for CHS

When I saw him in shoulder pads and cleats proudly I said, "Yes"

(Alex's Kamakura Birthday Party 1955, Chip, Bill, Dan top Ken, Alex  Bottom)

(YoHi Varsity Football 1956 Defense, Chip 15, Dan 13)Click to expand

Hard running YoHi fullback who could cut and run through you

Potent stiff arm, dive, rolling block or a mighty bulldoze too

(Tom running, Dan and Chip blocking for YoHi at Yokohama Japan 1956)

(YoHi Offense 1956)

 

(Chip and Pat, high school sweethearts, first to marry Annapolis class of 1960 at USNA Chapel)

Fell in love with a beautiful gal born on his birthday

Apple of his eye and by her side he would always stay

(Dan and Chip at Annapolis 1959)

 

To the Naval Academy at Annapolis at only 17 he proudly went

After much refined preparation he was appointed by our president

(Chip at Pensacola Summer Training)

 

Scientific mind with peerless mathematic and engineering skill

After a Rickover interview a nuclear submarine billet he did fill

 

First married from the proud class of 1960 he led the way

Love of family, character, and knowledge lit each day

 

Honest, hard-working family-man who traveled far and wide

Pat, Rick, Bill, Tim, Steve, Chris and their pets always by his side

 

Until one dark day when fate dealt Chip and us a bitter blow

And took her and her mother to a place some day we will know

 

She sang silver-toned with angelic voice any musical part

Wonderful mother and companion who was always in his heart

 

Five happy, healthy, handsome and hearty boys remind us every day

Of  her and her mother's beauty, commitment, and love here to stay

 

We see this in each wonderful grandchild's life and face

Rick, Bill, Tim, Steve, and Chris's support provided a special place

 

For Chip to begin a new life and find another soul-mate to share

The future with and build a business from scratch with flare

Linda came into his life at just the right time to help them both

Quell the despair from the unspeakable loss of the one they troth

Melodious voice, warm heart, love for kids, teaching, and Chip

Perfect match to ease them into the golden year's trip

 

Their boys moving forward steadily since they were born

All in their own way the family heritage they well-adorn

Now another fateful blow from a doctor's shrill report

A new battle against a foe that knows not fair sport

 

We support you with the love that characterizes your life

Knowing interceding forces will sustain you in your strife

 

We hope that the enormous resources of our medical world

Will help your life flourish like a bright flag unfurled

 

Know from your brother this poem is written from the heart

To the best brother I could have been blessed with from the start

 

(Presented at Richard J. Lavery III’s funeral in Gainesville, Florida, and to him in the hospital )

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Eddie’s Wild Ride in Japan

  My first opportunity to see the Japanese landscape came when Dad assigned his office manager, a thirty-year-old petty officer first class, to drive Chip and me to the ancient city of Kamakura. When we arrived at the Yokosuka Naval Base, we lived in a tin Quonset hut that looked like an upside down Navy gray “U.” Eddie drove up in a shiny black limousine in his dark navy blue uniform and white sailor cap. “What are ya waiting for boys? Get in!” He opened the door and tossed his cap on the floor, “I have lots of God damn good stuff to tell 'ya. I give a talk to all incoming sailors.” With thick black hair in a short crew cut, red face from too much alcohol, he had the energy of a Labrador retriever. “Your Dad wants me to take you to see the great house he got for ‘ya in Kamakura and orient 'ya to Japan, so sit back and I’ll tell 'ya all you need to know about the Japs and this great fucking country.” He revved the engine and sped to the security gate manned by Marines in white cap, light blue trousers with red stripe down the middle, dark blue dress jacket with white webbed belt, gun in holster, and white leggings leading to spit-shined black shoes.    “Jesus H. Christ, fucking “gyreenes” are tight-ass machines,” he whispered as he quickly put his cap on. Chip and I chortled at how Eddie made fun of the steel-faced guards. He rolled down the window, saluted them, and sped off as they were saluting back. We never heard anyone speak like Eddie, but we couldn’t help celebrate his audacity. That seemed to stoke his internal engine. Zooming through an intersection near the train station just outside the base, we came to a round-about with a Japanese traffic cop in grey uniform, white band across one arm, and grey cap. He directed traffic standing on a pedestal with one hand held up. “Come on you fucking idiot, don’t slow me down,” Eddie muttered, waved back, and continued without braking. A few minutes later we reached a business district with bars and small restaurants where he screeched to a halt near an attractive young Japanese woman. She had white make-up with dark red lipstick, cheeks powdered in two rouge circles, wore a red and white kimono, carried a light green parasol, shuffled in wooden clogs, and stepped down into the crosswalk. “Fuckin’ A. Look at the tits and ass on that honey. Ohwee, would I like to pork her. You boys got to get some Nippon tail while you’re here, nothin’ in the world like it.” I looked at Chip a bit bewildered by fast Eddie’s style, language, and persona and shook my head in disbelief wondering what he might do or say next to titillate us. “Konichi wa mamma san,” he said rolling down the window, and whistled at her. I recognized that as “Good afternoon, madam” from my two week Japanese course on the ship from San Francisco. She smiled as she strolled by. “What does it cost?” Chip asked. + “Only three dollars for a “short time.” You have to leave after fifteen minutes. A long time is one hour for ten. If you spend the night it’s only fifteen for most whores. God-damned if they’re not back on the street before you get dressed and hook four sailors in an hour. But watch out for the clap, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The whores are tested every week by Japanese health department, and quarantined if they’re infected. Wear a rubber if you ever visit a whorehouse, but they break sometimes.” + Soaking up this information, giggling at Eddie’s outrageousness while absorbing a swirling world of images of nude women, and disease, an alien world to me, I realized was available just outside the base. I had been isolated from people like Eddie. His perception of Japan differed so drastically from the cultural ambassadors who taught us conversational Japanese, customs, and places to see. As we pulled out of the city and started to ramble through the countryside dotted with rolling hills, and rice paddies everywhere, I noticed the houses were covered by thatched roofs, reeds and grasses woven tightly together to last thirty years. They stayed warm during the winter and cool in the summer by natural insulation. Near a farm, a nasty odor entered the car, as if I from a sewer. “What’s that awful smell?”I asked. “See that Goddam wooden truck ahead of us. That’s a fuckin’ honey bucket truck. They go through the town picking up everyone’s shit in buckets, and pour the stinking crap into a bin in the middle. When it’s shitfull, they take it to a farmer to spread the reeking Jap poop on his crops. The guy who dips a bucket into that shit and spreads it on the farmer’s crop is the lowest human being in the world. That’s why he’s known as a ‘Dip Shit.’ To make a whore laugh I’ll ask her why Jap farmers use shit on their strawberries. She’ll say, it makes them taste good and grow big. I’ll tell her, we use cream and sugar back in the States. HAHAHA,” he whooped. We both chuckled, goading him on. He had two teenage boys under his spell. “Hey there’s Mount Fuji coming into view,” he said pointing ahead. (Click on this photo to zoom) A magnificent view of Fujiyama spread before us at railroad tracks where Eddie stopped. The grandeous snow-covered cone sparkled bright white with brownish-red lava rocks covering the lower half below an azure sky like a mammoth vanilla ice cream sundae sprinkled with granulated chocolate and cinnamon. A narrow wisp of smoke wound up through the sky from the top of the cone as if a dragon roamed inside. Sparse foliage showed on Fujisan from my angle. “Is the volcano still active?”I asked. “Hell yes, but Fuji hasn’t erupted for years. You can see it every day unless it’s covered with clouds. You’ll have to climb it with the Yokosuka Base teenage club. You won’t believe this, but at the base of the mountain is the Hakone resort. Japanese take their Goddam baths together in public bath houses and resorts fuckin’ nude? If you go to Hakone, you’ll be swimming with naked sexy babes you can gawk at all day as they keep coming in showing off their tits and ass. Did you know Japanese men, women, boys, and girls all use the same fuckin’ bathrooms in Japan? Jesus, this place is fuckin’ heaven if you know where to go. If you want to you can find fuckin’ anything here, cheap, and better than in the states.” We smiled and listened intently to his fascinating descriptions to eager, and fertile, minds. “Eddie, do you eat raw fish? Chip asked.   “Hell yes. Japanese sushi is Goddamn delicious. They wrap their fuckin’ tasty seaweed around raw tuna, and a ball of rice, dip it in soy sauce with some Jesus Christ powerful horseradish called wasabi, and you down it with some fuckin’ A--hot sake. Have your Dad take you out to a Geisha house, eat some sushi, and ask him to give you some sake. He Goddamn loves it. The fuckin’ Geishas will dance for you, play music, wear colorful silk kimonos, sing, and feed you a motherfuckin’ feast.” “Are Geisha’s whores?” Chip asked. “Not now, but they sure fuckin’ used to be. But if you wanted a Goddam whore to dress up like a Geisha, she probably would be fuckin’ glad to, and give you a treat for the right price. They entertain fuckin’ business men, sing traditional Japanese songs, and play music on a three string guitar called a shamisen.” Finally we arrived at the house Dad arranged for us not far from a beach in Kamakura. Eddie dropped us off at the door. Dad appeared in his navy blue officer’s uniform, with white cap, and gold “scrambled eggs” on his visor signifying he had the rank of a commander. “Hi Captain, I brought your boys here in the limo.” Dad at Yokosuka Naval base Japan 1955 (click to zoom photo) “Hope you gave my sons the golden tour, Eddie.” “Sure did, Captain. They learned all about sushi, Geishas, and Japan straight from the horse’s mouth. Sayonara Captain, I have to return the limo now.” “Are Geisha’s just entertainers?” Chip asked Dad. “Well, looks like Eddie told you some of his famous stories. I knew he would entertain you. A long time ago the wealthy Japanese men used courtesans for sexual enjoyment. Walled-in pleasure quarters were allowed, but outside of them, prostitution was illegal. Women called "Oiran" came before the Geisha. They were both an actress and a prostitute, performed erotic dances, and became the early form of Kabuki Theater. But for a long time Geisha’s entertained and no sex was involved.” Eddie had shown me a wild slice of life in Japan. His language shook me, and made me realize the ugly American lived in the Far East. Having spent fourteen days on a ship studying Japanese culture before Eddie’s car trip, I recoiled at his attitudes about an ancient culture I had learned to honor, even against my early hatred of the Japanese for the atrocities they inflicted on helpless prisoners in the Philippines, China, and elsewhere. He seemed like a man with a fervent need to try to dominate the environment he occupied, but he was likeable, and comical. Men like Eddie had spirit, energy, and undying patriotism. They were perfectly molded to follow orders, which made the politicians and the military feel safer from our enemies than they should. Eddie opened a dark side of humanity I had never encountered that made me wonder what kind of a person I would be in two years when I left. Would I experience sex soon? Eddie cracked opened a part of my mind during our wild ride to Kamakura that had been locked shut.

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Judgment Day for Evading an Officer in a Stingray

       The next morning after my arrest for trying to out-run the Highway Patrol I contacted the base administration office asking if they knew any lawyers for an officer with a legal problem. They recommended Tom Barton and I made an appointment with him at the Sanford Naval Base. He arrived sharply dressed in a three-piece, pin--striped suit, white shirt, and tie with dazzling flamingos, palm trees, and colorful hibiscus. His slick dark hair was sprinkled with grey. Henry Fonda flashed in my mind. Embarrassed revealing my recent behavior, I detailed my feral recklessness. “Your awareness of the gravity of speeding and evading charges and recall of events show your strength as a witness. You’re lucky they didn’t charge drunken driving.” My description caused me sobering sorrow and fear of the consequences. “What do you need for representing me?” “I don’t charge naval officers for services. It’s my privilege to serve your legal needs.” His response floored me. How could he, with a coveted license to practice law, handle a serious traffic violation free? Navigating a Navy jet did not entitle me to a free ride. The next day we appeared in the Sanford Municipal Court for the arraignment and entered a not guilty plea setting the matter for an afternoon appearance in a month. Before the final court date we met at his office. “You must impress the judge this incident doesn’t reflect your true character, you have a perfect driving record, and of your desire to pursue a naval career. Tell him you respect the law, will never do anything so foolish again, apologize, and convince the judge of your sincerity.” He paused and spoke slowly, with conviction. “He could throw the book at you. Give no excuses. Convince the judge that you aren’t like repeat offenders. I’ll tell him of your background. Don’t give him a reason to question anything about the plane, the program, or your lack of enthusiasm for it.” His sound advice made me respect his profession and think someday I would love to act as an attorney. To have learned the law and experience problem solving that goes along with legal expertise seemed well worth the years of study. To advise a floundering defendant lacking knowledge how the judicial system works impressed me with its awesome responsibility but doubted I could qualify for law school, graduate, pass the bar, and become an attorney. I would have to learn how to communicate confidently as my lawyer did before highly skilled advocates and a demanding judge—that was a pipe dream. My court appearance came. I entered the courtroom in my white dress uniform, pressed trousers, white shoes, and socks. The gold solid ensign stripe on my black shoulder flaps, my gold buttons, and gold anchor on my white cap, contrasted with the other defendants awaiting their turn. My future rested in the hands of a stern white-haired judge. More than a hundred strangers, lawyers, a bailiff, and a few clerks mulled about. In black robes the judge looked down from his high perch in the courtroom and studied me. As coached, I looked him in the eyes standing at attention with a serious expression. “What have you to say about this defendant’s charges of reckless driving, speeding, and evading a patrol car in our quiet town?” he said, shifting his gaze to my attorney. My lawyer stood tall, took a deep breath, and looked confidently at the judge. “Your honor, my client, Ensign Daniel C. Lavery, graduated from the United States Naval Academy, qualified as a naval aviator at the Sanford Naval Air Base and flies in the Vigilante, a Mach 2 reconnaissance carrier based jet aircraft. He trains daily for an assignment to the fleet protecting our nation from our enemies and comes from a long line of dedicated servants to our country. His father graduated from the Academy in the class of 1932, served in World War II and Korea, and commands naval ships all over the world from his desk in Washington D.C. Dan’s brother graduated from the Academy in 1960 and serves as a weapons officer on a nuclear sub. My client has a perfect driving record except for this one event, completely out of character for his twenty-five years on this planet. A dedicated patriotic citizen, he follows in the footsteps of an impressive family of naval officers who every day give their best to our country. Ensign Lavery has a few words to say your honor regarding this aberrant conduct that brings us together, so different from the rest of his impressive life. I ask you to consider the young man’s words when you decide what sentence to impose.” “What do you have to say, sir, about the charges against you and your conduct?” the judge said looking at me from his elevated position on the bench. “Your honor, I’m extremely sorry for the way I behaved that night,”I said shaking, nervous, and afraid, as my eyes met his, “and apologize for the danger I could have caused to anyone on the highway that night and the officers who pursued and arrested me. They may have saved my life. I’ve embarrassed myself, my family, and my fellow officers by acting out of character. With no excuses, I assure you I’ve learned my lesson from this experience and will act responsibly behind the wheel for the rest of my life.” “Your conduct fell far below what we expect of you,” he said sternly with glaring eyes that were intimidating. “You acted irresponsibly. The Court expects you to pay for your conduct to ensure you uphold your promises.” His eyes fixed on mine and with wrinkled brow, and pursed lips, his expression said he expected far more from a naval officer. “I accept your plea of guilty, fine you $75.00 payable in thirty days, and place you on summary probation for one year. Drive safely and obey the laws. Don’t ever let me see you here again. Do you understand?” “Yes, your Honor. I assure you I’ll never appear before you again.” I really wanted to yell, “Hooray, hallelujah, thank you,” but sat down and shut up. We walked out of the courtroom past many people waiting their turn into the hall, and then into the Florida sun and breeze. My lawyer had lifted a heavy burden from my shoulders and I could relax and breathe easy again. I thanked him profusely for his skill and generosity having dodged a bullet aimed at me, my career, and future.

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