Memories of Dad on Father’s Day

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Dad 

He was born in Morgan Park Illinois April 28 of 1910

Athletic,scholarly, and musical who became a man of men

Loving animals and horses, especially his own called "Pep"

He was handsome and polished and seldom out of step

Possessed of musical talent he played the piano and the trumpet

Strumming the ukelele he sang about a honky tonk strumpet

An outstanding Morgan Park Military Academy Grad

His achievements, skills, and talents made his family most glad

Appointed to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis

(Dad as a midshipman at Annapolis)

Brought his father, Poppy, and mother, Gammie, exceptional bliss

   Basketball,soccer,baseball,football, lacrosse,sailing, and even polo

At formal recitals he played many a magnificent trumpet solo

While a midshipman he fell for a beautiful debutant: Hilda Crim

                    Her grace and beauty, love of tennis and racoons, made his head swim

        Soon they were married after he graduated in nineteen thirty two

                   During the Great Depression, an insurance career he wisely did pursue

He raised a family with a lovely girl and two athletic boys

      And gave unselfishly to provide for them a multitude of joys

                  Music,stories, travel, camping, sports, fishing to name only a few

                     He filled their lives with these and always found more for them to do

Uncle Sam came a-calling him to return to face the brutal enemy

               In ruthless World War II with fascist dictators and gross barbarity

A gunnery officer on the George F. Elliott, a transport ship

At Guadalcanal what seemed in the smoke-filled sky only a blip

Grew into a descending Japanese warplane known as a Kamikaze

That his blazing guns tore into but instead of falling into the sea

Struck the Elliot broadside in a deadly gasoline fed fireball

              Down to a sea grave slowly went the transport as nothing could stop its fall

  A  friendly destroyer rescued the crew that fearful and fateful day

                  Because of brave me like "Bull" Halsey and a man known as "R.J."

                           Yamamoto and his fleet were left limping and slinked back to Tokyo

                       Our proud protectors of liberty forced the foolish fascists where to go

                        On to Korea when duty called  him again in nineteen fifty three

                 Commanding officer of an amphibious ship called an "LSD"

                             The USS Whetstone with Lavery at the helm was a beauty at sea

                                                  ( USS Whetstone(LSD-27))

                                            It was Dad's first command and he did her splendidly

                                    Even rescued capsized Japanese fishermen he noticed  adrift

                                        Opened the dry-dock saving men and boat in a manner swift

                          Earned honors from Japan and our Navy for this humanitarian deed

                     He was never one to by-pass helpless persons at sea in need

                             Rescued hundreds of fleeing Vietnamese from Saigon

                           By navigating the Whetstone in shallow river Mekong

                        His crew enjoyed the way he played his ukelele and sang a song

                        He was a model naval captain who knew and taught right from wrong

                             Gained respect and honor for his naval skill and industrious toil

                               Commanded the USS Chemung carrying to the fleet  precious oil

USS Chemung (AO 30) head on

(Dad when a Navy Captain and The USS Chemung he captained)

                 Retired from Naval Service after a dedicated thirty years

                  And became one of those McDonnell Douglas Quality Control Engineers

               He always provided for his family as he was a frugal man

                         Invested for his and their future and prepared a well-organized plan

                           He cared for his loving mother when she became ill and very old

                              Took her to her many doctors because his heart was made of gold

                         When his sister Jane's diabetes became the brutal brittle type

                  He gave up his Long Beach ocean view and moved close without a gripe

                   As he grew older he fractured his left hip and was forced to use a cane

                     Then a wheelchair, had another fracture that caused excruciating pain

                      He found peace when he played his ukelele and launched into singing

                      To our family and his dog Pablo when on life he was barely clinging

                          Dad, we will always remember you for the memories you left us all

                           And hold high the course you navigated while you always stood tall

                           Duty, honor, country, family and pets, to these you were always true

                          We are proud this Father's Day to always respect and honor you.

(Dad, Uncle Paul, Aunt Jane top

Mom and Val

Val and Aunt Jane)

(Chip an Annapolis midshipman-plebe 1956)

(Dan a midshipman at Annapolis near a wall some people scaled on a boring weekend night)

(Valerie Lee, Dan, Paige and Tico, Dad, and Nicky at Yokosuka 1956)

Richard John Lavery Jr.,  AprDad's Memorial 4 28 09il 28, 1910- March 8, 1998

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Goodbye Skittle Our Old Purring Gentle Friend

                           Goodbye Skittle Our Old Purring Gentle Friend

SKITTLE

After nineteen years on this planet Earth

 We said goodbye to you today, Skittle.

Our fingers felt bones and clumps when petting you.

Scarcely able to raise your head I scratched.

You always loved that and still calmly purred,

Curled and reclined on cushioned cream couch top.

My son chose you in San Diego

 When you were a lively frisky kitten.

 When he went to med-school he left you here.

 We grew to love your energetic way:

 Mercurial with orange, brown and white fur.

 Strangers heard your hissy-fits and feared you.

 We grew to love our new-found feline friend.

 You succeeded pretty fluffy Snowball

 With an unrivaled personality.

 Our retrievers knew to keep their distance.

 We sensed you were aware your time drew near.

Gentle wide green yellow eyes revealed love.

 Showed no fear and hid your deep inner pain.

Our family spent precious time with you

 Before you slipped away with your last breath.

Finding your spot where you laid down for good

 At the place where your constant companion

 Put her feet while teaching her fifth graders

 To problem solve and write creatively.

 Your chosen space honored your closest friend

 Who had made a comfortable home with view

 Of a fountain where birds rested and drank

 Surrounded by blue and white hibiscus,

 Rabbits, squirrels, and colorful flowers

 Wafting fragrance through an open window.

 We weren't sure that you were gone while you slept

 But knew that you had left us forever

 When we felt your rigid figure today.

 Our once bouncy blazing cat is now stilled

But your fiery spirit lingers on.

We each prepared your final resting place

 Prominent before our flower garden,

 With yellow roses at your meadow bed,

 And statue honoring the joy you brought.

 We will always feel your warmth, life, love and

See your gentle eyes, and hear your purring.

   

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The UFW Conspiracy Case Against the Teamsters and Growers

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Jerry Cohen, house counsel for the UFW, came down to LA in 1974 with photos of Teamster goons who had violently attacked pickets in Coachella and other places to disrupt picketing. “Look at these goons attacking peaceful picket lines. Start a file on a conspiracy by the Teamsters, growers, and their paid thugs to use violence to prevent the UFW from organizing, and research the best remedies available.”

The UFW Conspiracy Case Against the Teamsters and Growers

The UFW provided declarations to prove a conspiracy between the Teamsters and Coachella Valley grape growers, to use motorcycle gangs, thugs, and Teamster dockworkers that supported a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit I filed in the United States District Court in Los Angeles. As a result of my research, I prepared an article published by the University of San Fernando Valley Law Review, “Conspiratorial Violence at Picket Lines: Actionable under Sect. 1985(3) and Sect. 1981.”  It discusses the basis for a federal court to restrain conspiratorial violence at picket lines where thugs had assaulted and battered picketing farm workers protesting working conditions.

The complaint alleged one hundred and seventy-five Teamster and grower agents used lead pipes, chains, crowbars, clubs, knives, guns, bottles, and rocks as weapons against UFW pickets, threatened to kill members, burn homes and vehicles, desecrated a Mexican flag, broke a priest’s nose, and picket captain’s shoulder.

The Teamster and grower attorneys filed an attempt to dismiss these pleadings. In opposition I filed a thousand pages of declarations, a legal brief, and exhibits with photographs. The Court denied the motions and set the case for trial.

Ben Margolis, senior partner at the personal injury firm of Margolis, McTernan, Scope, and Sacks, agreed to take the deposition of Teamster president, Frank Fitzsimmons. Ben had advocated on behalf of workers and persecuted labor activists. He came to the ACLU when he learned of the conspiracy lawsuit I had filed and asked me to prepare him for the deposition. On our flight to San Francisco, I provided him details from my investigation. “This is just the kind of information I need.” I sat next to Ben during the eight-hour deposition making notes for our case, and slipped him data as needed. He was a master at forcing the witness to respond and not give evasive answers. The transcript provided testimony we used in all Teamster litigation and helped with the settlement meeting we had later in Oakland with Jerry, Sandy, and others, and the teamsters, Safeway and many growers.

Just before that settlement conference Jerry asked me to prepare an extensive set of Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents, and Request for Admissions of Fact to serve on Safeway’s attorneys’ who had been vituperative at all attempts to settle. I spent a day drafting the discovery requests for Safeway to disgorge all evidence of claimed losses caused by UFW picketing throughout the United States. Jerry winked at me during the meeting when the Safeway attorney became argumentative. I walked up behind him, laid a fifty-page discovery request on his lap, and said, “You’re served.” Jerry broke into a smile and then chuckled when the curmudgeon fumbled the document.

He turned at me with an angry red face and barked, “What an unprofessional thing to do at a settlement conference!”The meeting lasted the entire day and helped resolving the jurisdictional dispute between the UFW and the Teamsters later.

Shortly thereafter, Dolores Huerta made a surprise visit to my office at the ACLU. She waved a document in her hand, “I wanted to meet the person who drafted this.”

It was the thick complaint I had drafted against the Kern County Prosecutor, Sheriff, and twenty-nine deputies from violence in the San Joaquin Valley in 1973.

“That would be me,” I offered.

“Your complaint is one of the most passionate accounts of violations of farm worker rights I ever read. Thank you so much for your contribution.”

Stunned and humbled by her remarks, we hugged, “It has been an honor to help La Causa.” She displayed an act of leadership I had noticed in Cesar and his brother, Richard. They energized dedicated workers and never acted like “stars.”

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Fixin’ to Die Rag by Country Joe and the Fish

Gimme an F… Gimme a I… Gimme a S… Gimme a H…

What’s that spell? What’s that spell? What’s that spell? What’s that spell? What’s that spell?

Fixin’ to Die Rag by Country Joe and the Fish

yeah, c’mon on all you big strong men Uncle Sam needs your help again he’s got himself in a terrible jam way down yonder in Vietnam so put down your books and pick up a gun we’re gonna have a whole lot of fun

and it’s 1, 2, 3, what’re we fighting for? don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn next stop is Vietnam and it’s 5, 6, 7, open up the pearly gates well there ain’t no time to wonder why whoopee! we’re all gonna die

Fixin’ to Die Rag by Country Joe and the Fish

well c’mon generals, let’s move fast your big chance has come at last gotta go out and get those Reds the only good Commie is one who’s dead and you know that peace can only be won when we’ve blown ‘em all to kingdom come

chorus

well c’mon on Wall Street don’t be slow why this is war a-go-go there’s plenty good money to be made by supplin’ the Army with the tools of the trade just hope and pray that if we drop the bomb they drop it on-the Vietcong chorus

well c’mon mothers throughout this land pack your boys off to Vietnam c’mon pops, don’t hesitate send ‘em off before it’s too late be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box

 

and it’s 1, 2, 3, what’re we fighting for? don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn. …

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Tom Preaches in Japan, I’m Hooked, and some Wiser Perspectives

 

(Dan #13 QB for YoHi Football Team 1955-6 and Sophomore Class Officer; click to zoom)

The 1955 YoHi Football team selected Tom and Roy Busby co-captains. Tom was also the president of the YoHi student body. Since he had played quarterback at his Texas high school, he worked on my passing, laterals, and fakes until I was the first team quarterback. John Lynn was our fastest halfback and Chip played fullback. Tom played a passing and running halfback who chose all the plays to run in the huddle. At the end of the month Tom indoctrinated me into fundamental Christianity. He told me I had to have a personal relationship with Jesus as he did. With an “A” average, Tom was the most influential and physical of all the football players with a gregarious personality. He could throw a perfect spiral sixty yards whether on the run, while jumping in the air, or poised straight up like Joe Namath. No one but John Lynn beat him in wind sprints despite his bulk. An articulate speaker, he could maintain an argument and persuade anyone on many subjects. He invited me to spend the night at his house, so we could have a “heart to heart talk.” After football practice, I ate dinner with his family, and then he took me to his room. He pulled out a ragged Bible. “Danny, have you been saved?” “What do you mean, ‘saved’?” “Have you taken Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” “I’ve been baptized in the Baptist Church, read the Bible with my mother, and always attend Sunday school. I’ve memorized the Lord’s Prayer, asked for forgiveness for my sins, and pray to God to bless those I love every night.” “You don’t understand. I asked whether you had taken Jesus Christ as your personal savior. I’ll take you through the gospels slowly to show you exactly what I mean.” Tom opened the King James Version of the Gospel and read in his forceful voice a few verses from the Book of John. He explained the teachings of Jesus in a simple and enthusiastic way. I always had difficulty understanding some of the religious dogma about the blood of Jesus, a sacrificial lamb that somehow washed away the sins of believers, but Tom’s explanations were not confusing. After a few hours he looked at me, “What have you learned from our readings?” “The Sermon on the Mount meant the most to me. Jesus cared passionately for the poor, the disabled and downtrodden of the world. He urged humanity to lay down their weapons, love their neighbors, and their enemies. I want to follow his example.” “That’s a beginning,” Tom said nodding his head, “But you haven’t taken seriously the challenge to live the life of a born-again Christian, nor known all the teachings of Jesus. Reading the Bible will show you the path to eternal life. You can find salvation only if you have a personal relationship with Jesus. He’s here in this room with us now, waits for you to join the believers who pray to him, and wants you to make him your own personal savior.” Tom chose Bible verses for me to read aloud, asked me what the words meant, and guided me through the ancient language until I started to understand. After three hours, we had gone through much of the Book of John. He explained the Trinity, eternal damnation in the fires of Hell for unbelievers, and indoctrinated me in fundamental Christianity. I appreciated the explanations from a respected mentor. The experience enlightened me to mysteries I had never understood. Tom’s genuine concern for me, and his guidance during our encounter changed my perspective on how I should conduct my life. He persuaded me to join a Bible study group, pray to God often, and commit to a life in imitation of Christ’s example. “Let’s pray together,” he said. We knelt down, and he prayed, “Dear Lord, please bless Danny with your presence from today on. Help him understand your Word and how to live a Christian life. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen. Close your eyes and let the power of Jesus change your life as he has done for millions of people. He performed miracles that healed the sick, brought back the dead to life, will forgive your sins, and make you whole. Ask our Lord and Savior now.” I thought about having had sex with a prostitute, bowed my head in prayer, asked God to forgive me for my sins, and invited Jesus to come into my life. Tom’s concern motivated me to change my life’s purpose. A warm inexplicable spiritual feeling filled me.

That weekend Tom took me to a Billy Graham revival to hear the famous evangelical preacher who had just arrived in Japan for his Crusade for Christ. Reverend Graham gave a passionate sermon that lasted an hour at a church in Yokohama. He emphasized many of the points Tom had made, but in Graham’s own persuasive style, spiced with Biblical references. Billy made me feel like a sinner bound for Hell, as Tom had done. When Billy asked new Christians to publicly dedicate their lives to Jesus, I walked down the aisle as a newly “saved” Christian, assured not to suffer the eternal fires of damnation. From that day on while in Japan, I read from the New Testament an hour daily and memorized verses that inspired me as Tom suggested. Trying to act as Jesus would in whatever situation faced me, I began to transform into a new Christian.

(Dan guard on YoHi Varsity Basketball Team 1956 click to zoom)

First off the bench on the varsity basketball team as a guard, I occasionally made an impact with a set-shot, rebound, speed, and a drive to the basket. At Nagoya I buried a shot from the left sideline and followed Degelman after a missed layup for a tip-in that was close to a slam-dunk. On the train ride back a student revealed a horrible tragedy when a key player had stuck his head out a train window and was beheaded by a sign before our game. “The Japanese trains race rapidly through narrow tunnels and their signs are close to the tracks,” he said warning us with tears in his eyes.

Jon Lynn, Pinky Hart, and Dave Degelman led the team in scoring as we won nearly all our games until the Far East tournament. Okinawa was the favorite to win and visited us at Yokohama for the championship game. During warm-ups Marion Choate moved under me waiting for a rebound and I came down awkwardly on his foot. My ankle turned violently. The pain hit me like a spike driven into the ligament. In agony and disappointment I could only watch the game from the sidelines. We lost in a hard-fought close game. That day a doctor at the Yokosuka naval hospital put a cast on my ankle that remained for six weeks.

***

(Click to zoom)

(Dan Varsity YoHi pitcher 1956)

Baseball season could not come soon enough for me. After a few weeks Bux made me the clean-up hitter and starting pitcher. Against ASIJ (American School in Japan) I hit two home runs over their left field fence and a double over the trees in centerfield in our two victories and against Narimasu tripled with the bases full. In our other match against Narimasu, before the first pitch our catcher, Dave Degelman, fired the ball towards second base hitting my pitching arm at the shoulder blade. I crumpled to the ground in pain. Tom ran over and rubbed alcohol with oil of wintergreen on it vigorously for fifteen minutes, but it left me unable to pitch. Bob Webster, a tall skinny pitcher, took the mound and coach sent me to right field. An opponent hit a fly to right with a runner on second that drove me just before the fence, I caught it and fired a strike to Sandy Milwit at third who tagged him out. It surprised everyone, especially their coach who sent the runner. My arm had loosened during the game and Bob pitched his best game of the season.

My record as a pitcher that year, including summer games, was 7-4 with two no-hitters. One was against a Japanese team in a game rained out in the fifth inning. The other was a seven inning game against Zama Army base that featured four YoHi starters including Jon Lynn, Sam and Sandy Milwit, Brad Hardin, and  the rest were second or third team varsity baseball  players.  A professional pitcher that played for the Yokosuka Seahawks had taught me to pinch my curve ball tightly to get it to break more radically and proved nearly unhittable. My batting average was .424 and I led the team in home runs and rbi's as a sophomore.

***

“What have you learned from the Bible?”Jerry asked a month later appearing interested. “The teachings of Jesus have changed my life. You’ll start to understand what I mean if you read the Book of St. John. Ask me anything and I’ll discuss it with you.” “I’ll read some tonight. I’m sorry for making fun of you.” “A religious sailor started a Bible Study group to help people understand the Book of Revelation. Come with me at our next meeting,” I said. Jerry joined us for one session, started reading the Bible, and shared his thoughts with his father. “Why don’t you discuss the Book of Revelation with my Dad and me tomorrow after school?” he said a few days later. “Ok, but I’m no Biblical scholar.” “That doesn’t matter. You might find my Dad has some insight on the Bible.” “Alright, see you then.” Entering their home with trepidation because I had never thought of discussing my new Christian beliefs with a Jewish Doctor who was far more knowledgeable; I wanted to cooperate in the pursuit of Bible study, whether it came from his father, or anyone else. Doctor Cohen sat on a leather chair in his library surrounded by hundreds of books in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with the Book of Revelations on his lap. A little over-weight, balding with dark hair on the side, his large head exuded a facial expression of reflection, intelligence, and kindness. Fortunate to have a man of his caliber at our discussion, upon viewing him, I became almost instantly frozen in humility as a teenager before a pinnacle of wisdom. “You’ve been studying the Bible with a group led by a sailor?” he asked. “When Jerry showed an interest in what inspired me, I asked him to join me.” “Dad and I noticed from the book of Revelation,” Jerry began, “that St. John’s dream described a vision of Jesus returning to Earth in the future in the clouds to save the believers. But, only twelve thousand Jews were included. Do you believe that? “The Bible is the Word of God and the truth I’ve been taught.” “Dad and I agreed that no loving God would ever allow millions of practicing Jews remaining on earth to die in the lake of fire.” “I’ll ask John for his input, or maybe my minister,” was what came out of my mouth having no answer for their dissent, recognizing I knew too little to convince Jerry about such a discrepancy, much less his father. At our next meeting I asked John about their protest. “The Book of Revelation is the Holy Word of God all Christians believe,” he began confidently. “The Holy Spirit inspired every word in the Bible. Jerry and his father are Jewish. They reject Christ as the Son of God and our Savior. Don’t waste your time with non-believers.” This conflict and his answer baffled me. The Cohens had a strong argument and John seemed prejudiced against Jews but, I was too uncertain to criticize him. The next Sunday at church I asked the Navy Chaplain, a Princeton graduate, about this dilemma because of his knowledge, intelligence, and kindness.

(Yokosuka Chapel where Chaplain Chambers led the congregation) “Many things aren’t fully explained in the Bible,” Chaplain Chambers said. “We often don’t understand their meaning without careful research into the language of the original texts, especially the Book of Revelation. Terms like twelve thousand can mean a much larger number today, since that number would have been significant then. Millions of Jews follow the Ten Commandments and live virtuous lives. We can’t always take the Bible’s language literally. Many passages from the Bible say if a person loves his neighbors, treats all life with compassion, and cares for his family, even if he never heard of Jesus or the Bible, God would welcome him into Heaven.” He used an analogy: “A native on an island with no Bible to read, who lived a virtuous life harming no one, as God would have us live, would not suffer in Hell. Just because he lacked that knowledge, our loving and all-knowing God would never reject such a person from the gates of Heaven.” My pursuit of truth made me aware that many sincere and good people see religion differently. Afterwards I shared this understanding with Jerry in a philosophical discussion. “Reading distinguished authors to gain wisdom on how to live an ethical life is preferable to memorizing the Bible,” he said. Intrusive “born-again” indoctrination required me to consider my past as depraved. Self-loathing and repetitive Bible verse memorization, athletics, and studies left little time for open-minded thought that might have allowed me to challenge some religious concepts I accepted without questioning. Nevertheless, a few people wiser than I, had planted seeds of a broader understanding that would bear fruit in the future.

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