“Bessie Bee” Arrives! Spring on the Oregon coast is near…

It seems like every year at this time my old friend “Bessie Bee” shows up. She loves to warm up from a cold night in hibernation when the warm sunshine beckons…

“Bessie Bee” is preparing to be first in line for the early blooms. Early bees get the most honey, they say…

Even Bees like to be first. “Bessie Bee” is a good listener too. She is very patient with me talking a lot.

I feel so calm sitting on the porch in my rocking chair. Breathing in the cool fresh breeze from the sea is healing. Makes me feel alive visiting with “Bessie Bee”

It’s even better when “Bessie Bee” shows up for a chat. For I know in my soul that without Bees there is no love 💔.

See you later “Bessie Bee” a true friend, indeed…

PNW Bumble Bee reference:

https://www.pnwbumblebeeatlas.org/species-illustrations.html

“Prim” The Healer

When we first met Prim a year ago in Seattle, she was as lovable and kind as a furry loved one could be. After a curious and briefly hesitant look, she jumped on my lap right away.

She looked at me close up, licking my face like a popsicle. I knew then how much love this little girl would bring to our family.

Prim came to our home not too long before Skai crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She attached herself to big bro right away. She never left his side.

Skai showed Prim the ropes around the house. “Don’t poop in the house,” Skai reminded Prim as she was trained to see the door first.

But Prim still liked to poop on the stairs near the bottom. Skai didn’t get that, though.

Both siblings played as long as Skai could hold up. Prim never wanted to stop playing. She worried about Skai. But she always let her bro rest. And never left his side.

Skai seemed excited and grateful right away. Prim helped her bro feel safe when he needed it the most.

Prim helped mom and pops too, when they were sad. Skai got really sick and couldn’t move around much anymore.

Our furry loved ones are healers. They know when we are happy or sad.

The furry ones never leave our hearts and souls. They watch from high above and whisper in our ears…

“It’s gonna be okay…”

Thank you, Sarah and Chris, for sharing Prim and Skai with us…

Mr. Wood’s Love and Wisdom…

“Mr. Woods” is one of my subconscious angels. He represents my very first experience as a young man learning to navigate my life and career.

As humans, we overcome great challenges in life. We seek guidance and wisdom from trusted mentors and leaders.

Mr. Woods saw enthusiasm and a smile in me. He knew I was a learner. He had confidence in me.

Mr. Woods inspired me with his enthusiasm for life. He gave me hope for a better future.

Mr. Woods showed me how to feel good about myself. He lifted me up while teaching me skills and behaviors that made me a better person and professional.

Mr. Woods helped me realize the importance of empathy for others, especially customers and team members. He was a great manager who cared about me and all of us.

Mr. Woods showed me how to collaborate with others. He taught me the value of teamwork.

Mr. Woods showed how to be supportive while being firm and forceful too. He expected results in our work.

Mr. Woods showed me leadership while succeeding as a team. “Manage up,” he would say often.

Mr. Woods was a great coach! He gave his team credit for our success. He also pulled me and others up when we were down.

Mr. Woods loved all of us, not just some of us…

I will share quotes of wisdom going forward. I picked Mr. Woods to help me with his wisdom.

Mr. Woods provides my soul with wisdom for everyday life. I count on him to help me select the best quotes of the day to help us with encouragement and inspiration.

Look for Mr. Woods on my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

In memory of Mr. Woods…

“Froggy” The Christmas Spirit, Part 2…

Froggy, Algee Bear and GI Joe Bear

Home for the Holidays!

Part 1 quote…as a segue to part 2 of this series… https://survivethriveptsd.org/2020/12/froggy-the-homeless-christmas-spirit-and-algee-bear/

“Froggy felt he was home, no longer scared and lonely. Gi Joe Bear felt the same.. They both talked with hope and joy for a better future.

Algee Bear helped Froggy find a new home with loving foster parents who took him in for good. He was so sad to say good bye to his pal, GI Joe Bear.

Algee Bear found GI Joe Bear a veterans home in Lebanon, south of Portland. GI Joe Bear would find a caring home and health care for his wounds from war.

Froggy was loved again and finally home…”

Froogy’s new foster home…Depot Harbor

On Christmas Day, Algee Bear, took Froggy for a short drive north on 101 to the little coastal town of Depot Harbor.

Froggy’s new foster parents were Cathy and Matt Biggs, who also were life long residents of Depot Harbor.

Algee Bear gave Froggy the amazing story of Depot Harbor…great fishing, pirates, rum runners and more… as they drove north past Beverly Beach and over Cape Foulweather.

“Even Sir Francis Drake visited Depot Harbor way back in the 17th Century when greated by curious fearful indigenous folks,” Algee Bear would say proudly. Native American traditions and heritage have a strong influence on the Central Oregon Coast.

Froggy met his new foster parents, Cathy and Matt Biggs, at the Newport shelter for homeless children the night before.

But Froggy couldn’t understand why anybody would want him. “I’m so ugly!” He thought sadly. Algee Bear hugged him when they stopped for a look at the scenic turn off at Otter Crest, a beautiful rain forest senic view on the coast.

Froggy felt really good vibes. But was worried that all of this was a dream. “Maybe, I’m in Heaven?” Froggy wondered…

Froggy was startled as they approached the bridge to the small fishing village of Depot Harbor…

“The Smallest Harbor in The World,” Algee Bear yelled out with excitement as they crossed the bridge into town. “Can I go swimming in the pond,” Froogy asked with a curious look.” “No, not today,” Algee Bear would say with a kind smile.

Froggy finally arrived at his new home in Depot Harbor. He loved being close to the waterfront. “Think I could hang out here?” Froggy croaked.” “Yes, but you need to stay on the sea wall and not the walkway,” Algee Bear warned him with a serious look.

A winter storm was raging with big waves splashing over the sea wall. Froggy loved the spray and wanted to jump out. “You’ll get blown away,” Algee Bear cautioned as they made a right turn on Collins Street.

His new foster parents, Cathy and Matt Biggs, lived up Collins Street, a block or so. It was across the street from “The Chowder Place n Brew Pub.”

The Chowder Place n Brew Pub is known for it’s secret chowder recipe, celebrated and sold coast to coast, south and north, all over America.

“Little Whale Cream Ale is my favorite brew,” Algee Bear remarked. But you’ll have to wait for that,” she added. Froggy looked at her and thought about root beer.

“Do they have root beer with ice cream,” Froogy asked with excitement and anticipation.

“The Chowder Place n Brew Pub is the best!” Algee Bear remarked as they they crossed the bridge into town. And a root beer float is a favorite too,” she further exclaimed.

Algee Bear also picked Depot Harbor for Froggy because he could attend the local middle school and after school programs in the same town. He would soon learn about school and make new friends.

Froggy couldn’t wait…

Cathy Biggs grew up in Depot Harbor. Her father, Mark Kramer, was a charter boat captain and owner of Kramer Charters.

Depot Harbor was a famous fishing village. Folks came from all over the globe to fish and enjoy the beauty of the Oregon Coast.

It was also the home of the US Coast Guard’s finest…

The Kramer family helped dredge the shallow harbor back in the day. The fishing fleet and tourist business was the town’s legacy.

“Some of the best ling cod, snapper, salmon and halibut come from the Central Oregon Coast: Depot Harbor is the go to spot,” Algee bear would say pointing her finger at the fishing boats in the tiny harbor.

Froggy still thought the ‘pond’ would be a good place to hang out. He wanted to learn more about the harbor, charter boats and go for a swim.

Cathy’s brothers Liam and Paul along with her pop, Mark, ran the charter business. Cathy managed all the financials. She was also Depot Harbor’s elected Mayor.

The Kramer family had a long tradition of community service. Cathy and Matt continued this legacy. But they could not have kids. Froogy would be their first child.

“Algee Bear told me a whole lot about Depot Harbor,” Froggy thought with appreciation while they pulled up to the house.”

Cathy and Matt welcomed Froggy with love and kindness he never felt before. Tears flowed from his eyes when Cathy hugged him first. Then, Matt…

“Matt was a cool dude too!” Froggy thought with love and hope shining through his wide wrinkled smile

Froggy instantly saw the beautiful Christmas tree, decorated with blinking red, white, and blue lights. There were presents wrapped with red bows that looked like 💕 hearts too.

Froggy also saw the baby Jesus with Joseph and Mary under the tree. The 3 wise men were watching as the baby Jesus was held closely by his mom, swaddled in cloth.

Froggy missed Santa a lot, but his new home felt like a dream come true. He knew Santa would return again next year like he does every year no matter what.

“Thank you! thank you!” Froggy screamed with joy. He was so happy to be home for Christmas.

Froggy never felt like this before, except with Santa, Algee Bear, and GI Joe Bear. “Maybe this would be home forever” Froggy thought with a big smile and grin.

Froggy was finally home. He hugged Algee Bear, and thanked her for saving his life. Algee Bear then left to celebrate Christmas with her family in Newport.

“Merry Christmas everybody!” Algee Bear waved as she drove off. This would not be last time Froggy would see Algee Bear.

This was just the beginning of a long friendship with “Froggy” The Christmas Spirit and Algee Bear.

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

See part 1 below…

Part 3 is in the works! Maybe a New Years celebration in Depot Harbor…

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Steve

“A Christmas Letter” from the infamous Merlin Sprague…

www.tomlabelle.com

A dear friend indeed, Merlin and I have been best friends for 5 decades! Merlin is a hoot, with a writing style that brings laughter and joy to your life…

This is my first guest post from MerlinSprague.com

A Christmas Letter

 

Every x-mas season the world’s assholes send out newsy little letters about their families. These letters are filled with bombast and braggadocio designed to rub the recipients’ noses in the authors’ wonderful lives. If you know anyone who feels he or she is one up on you, you have gotten one too. Here is a letter I got in 1999. I thought I’d share it with you.

Happy Holidays, one and all:

Well it’s been another wonderful year at the Farquart house. So much has happened I scarcely know where to begin! How about January? That’s when Freddy was offered a job as CFO at that wonderful new startup, Penwiper.com. The day after New Years, he was approached by the VC underwriting Penwiper’s upcoming IPO. Freddy was first on the A-list of Penwiper’s search committee. Freddy had done such an outstanding job at his old company the president used to refer to him affectionately as “The Chef” because Freddy was so good at “cooking the books” (whatever that means, I’m so naive about all this business stuff).

The pay at Penwiper isn’t too good (only $1.5M/year to start) so the Chairman gave Freddy a $750k signing bonus, plus a contract where he vests immediately in a 8% share of the company and gets lots of options besides. Hoping for the pay-off later on, I believe we can get along on this for a while. (Freddy thinks the bonus might be enough to have Santa leave a mink coat for me under the tree, but we’ll see.)

As for me, my Lexus 400 Coupe acquired a funny little noise in the back somewhere. Freddy, bless his heart, didn’t want me to run the risk of having trouble on the way to Aspen (the kids are so looking forward to lessons from the nice European fellow) that he insisted I get a new Mercedes V-12 sedan. I can’t for the life of me remember the model number, but what’s in a name anyway? It’s just nice to have reliable transportation, let me tell you.

Oh, I almost forgot: The mayor gave me an award at the 4th of July hootinanny in Barfus Park. It seems all the work I did arranging for diaper cleaning service up at Sunny Acres Home for the Financially Disadvantaged made the local paper. When hizoner saw it, he called that afternoon. He’d already received several calls from the families of men who had lost control of their bowels at tax audit time, and who knew of my work – poor things, they even cried when they mentioned my name. I would have sent a copy of the article, but the photo of me wasn’t all the best; the Tiffany ring father gave me upon graduation from Bryn Mar was hidden behind that horrid little pink hat of Jackie’s that our little Jill insists on wearing to public occasions. (You remember; Freddy bought it for Jill on a whim from that dark-haired young fellow who looked so much like Richard Speck. The young man needed the money to buy an airplane.)

Speaking of our Jill, she received letters of acceptance to the pre-med programs at both Stanford and Harvard. Now we have to agonize over which one to accept. Freddie wants her to go out East as he wants to take motoring vacations through the fall colors each year when we drop her off at the dorm. I, however, opt for Stanford as it’s far closer to Aspen, where we can all vacation at Christmas time in the condo Penwiper is giving Freddy as a badly needed perk.

Only one dark blot: We have been having trouble with one of our neighbors. Earlier this year, just before Jill sent applications to a short list of med schools drawn up by our lawyer, she vivisected their wretched little dog. She wanted to have some first-hand knowledge of biology when she went before the application committees – how clever our little girl is – and the horrid neighbor called the police. I tried to explain to these small people just how important a medical education is to Jill, but they won’t listen to reason. As if to try making Jill fell bad about her quest for knowledge, they insisted on burying the remains of their little mutt in a tiny grave by their flower garden where it can be seen from Jill’s window – she gave all the icky stuff back to them without their even asking. I’m so proud!

Freddy wanted to sue them for “busting Jill’s karma” as he put it, but I am the voice of moderation so I vetoed the idea. Instead, Freddy pulled a few strings with another of the Premier Members with whom he golfs at the Skookumchuck Country Club, and got that loutish man fired from his job. I saw a “for sale” sign in their front yard yesterday so this problem should be going away soon. Maybe the new neighbors will do away with the little grave.

I should also mention that little Freddy (he’s is not so little these days), who has been on the accelerated program at Caltech, got his PhD in Astrophysics in June. As you probably remember, little Freddy had such a hard time deciding which way to go. First, Lou Gerstner, that nice fellow from IBM, wanted little Freddy to come to work for him after getting his doctorate at Princeton on a merit scholarship, but little Freddy wanted to give something to the world and just loved all that astronomy stuff. Finally, little Freddy persuaded his friend Lou that his talents can best serve mankind in the hard sciences. Lou was so impressed by little Freddy’s selflessness that he agreed to have IBM endow a chair in little Freddy’s name at a university of his choice. Little Freddy is now doing some post-doctoral research at a place called Sierra Tololo down in South America. He e-mailed us last week telling of this cute little local he met. She comes from a nouveau riche family from someplace in Columbia – a city named Cali, I think – and I understand her family is in international shipping.

Well, I have to get going. The man from the car dealer just called. The little red car I ordered for Freddy (I put it on my Platinum American Express card) has just arrived. I can’t remember the name but it’s Italian and begins with “F”. I hope Freddy likes it; he’s so hard to buy gifts for, you know.

I hope your New Year will be as wonderful as ours. Love and kisses,

Fanny”

Share this:

www.merlinsprague.com

tomlabelle.com

What’s It Like For a Close Friend to Contract Covid19? By Jaci McKim

Heroes on the front lines! Thank your friends and loved ones who care for the sick and dying…

Despite the ever-increasing number of cases, a lot of you have never known anyone personally who has or has had Covid. Now you do. I would be that person. I am telling you this here because I would much rather you hear it from me than through some convoluted grapevine.

In the 48hrs since I became a statistic, there are few answers to be found. Yes, I wear a face shield everywhere I go (I cannot wear a mask without having a complete anxiety attack meltdown and passing out).

In the past 3 weeks, I have gone into one grocery store (once), into Papa Murphy’s once (was there for less than 15 seconds to pick up a pre-ordered pizza), into Starbucks once (long enough to pick up a pre-ordered drink), and to the doctor’s office (once).

We didn’t go anywhere for Thanksgiving. Had my Covid test performed in a drive-thru situation. Other than that, my fat butt has been parked right here at home.

After spending 1hr and 8min on the phone with the county health “tracker,” the only thing we’ve been able to determine absolutely is that we absolutely do not know where I picked up Covid.

Unbeknownst to me, there are apparently several strains of this disease out there, ranking in different levels of severity. SO FAR, I seem to have the Trump strain and not the Charley Pride variety.

I understand that makes me very lucky. I don’t have a temperature, I’m not having a lot of difficulty breathing, and I have not lost either my sense of taste or smell.

YET. I have close friends who are experiencing all of those symptoms, and not only does my heart go out to them, but I am truly thankful I’m not forced to deal with those particular demons.

On the other hand, I do have a slight cough, I am suffering horrible headaches, I feel as though I’ve been run over by a truck, and I’m exhausted after doing something as simple as making scrambled eggs for breakfast.

The WORST symptom — for ME — is a degree of confused thinking which often makes it difficult to create a cohesive thought or sentence.

To their credit, the county health officials have me and my family covered. So do the prayer warriors from Bayside Chapel.

Mom and Ian will both be tested this week, but Ian is really mourning the fact he couldn’t go to church this morning. He has obtained permission (from the county) to go to the post office once a day (though he is required to do so after hours), so he won’t go into complete system shutdown.

We are lucky to have plenty of friends here in town, so we’ll surely have an abundance of folks who’ll be happy to pick up groceries for us when they go for their own.

Meantime, much like Thanksgiving, Chrismas at our house will be exactly that: Christmas at OUR. HOUSE. Unfortunately, in the past, I have made and delivered special Christmas breakfasts for a revolving number of friends each year (many times anonymously), and had made plans to do so again this year, too.

Those gift meals will now need to wait until 2021. Thankfully, I had not yet purchased the “makin’s” for these meals, so nothing is sitting around here getting “tainted.” But, I am sad that I cannot do this again this year, as it is something which has always brought me joy during the holidays.

I haven’t a doubt I’ll recover from this. Same with my folks, if they have it, though I hope and pray they both test negatively. The biggest trick for both me and Mom right now seems to be going to sleep, and staying that way. Especially since whenever we DO get to sleep, the phone rings, or someone rings the doorbell.

To that end, I would ask that those of you who wish to contact us please do so by texting me. Most all of you have my cellphone number.

If I do not speak with you before then, please know I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and I am very much looking forward to NEXT year. I HAS to be better than this one!

Jaci McKim, Depoe Bay, Oregon

Froggy, The Homeless Christmas Spirit, and “Algee Bear…”

“Froggy” The Homeless Christmas Spirit and “Algee Bear” www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Froogy’s Favorite Christmas Song… “Jingle Bells”
Froggy, “Algee Bear” and Simba… https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

Nye Beach, Oregon… Christmas 2020

This is a story of the Spirit of Christmas…

Froggy came to know Santa as a kid lost. His family abandoned him to survive alone in the cold of winter on the beach. He was very hungry and scared.

Santa made a stop in Newport, Oregon on that Christmas in 2019 when Froggy was alone on the beach.

Froggy didn’t understand why his mama and pop would leave him behind.. “I was never hugged anyway,” Froggy thought, sadly… “Maybe they didn’t love me,” he thought with more sadness.

Without hesitation, Froggy jumped aboard Santa’s Reindeer Sled without notice. He jumped ever so carefully so not to get Santa’s attention.

Froggy found a safe spot and hid underneath some of the the presents. The presents left behind were headed back to Santa’sWorkshop for repair…

Santa didn’t see Froggy… But Rudolph did, with a wink, and a nod, then looked away.

Froggy fell in love with Rudolph’s bright red nose right away!

Santa returned to the North Pole after all the stops delivering gifts and treats to all the kids. Froggy wished he could be home for Christmas. “Maybe this is home?” He thought with tears of hope in his eyes.

When Santa arrived back to his North Pole home and work shop, Froggy appeared, looking cold, hungry, and afraid.

Santa, with a kind and warm smile, took Froggy in and made him his only official “Christmas Froggy.”

Mrs Clause and all of Santa’s family welcomed Froggy. Santa’s elves served up hot chocolate and peanut butter cookies. Froggy loved ❤ it. Mrs. Clause hugged Froggy with a warm embrace.

Froggy loved to be hugged after that. He hugged his new Christmas family everyday at the North Pole..

“Santa is my hero!” Froggy said often… tomlabelle.com
Santa and his elves…

Froggy loved ❤ hanging out with Santa, Ms. Clause, and all of Santa’s elves and helpers. Froggy hated the cold weather, though.

Froggy missed home in Newport, Oregon. He wanted to return to find his way back to friends and loved ones at the beach near the rain forest.

“Maybe, I could be adopted by a new family,” Froggy thought.

So that next Christmas while Santa made his regular stop in Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon, Froggy made his move.

Froggy, now annointed “Santa’s Christmas Frog,” jumped off Santa’s Sled while he delivered gifts to all the children in Nye Beach.

Rudolph looked back at Froggy, winked and looked away. They were kindred spirits.

Froggy was alone and very cold. He found a warm spot with another homeless young man, Joe, a veteran.

They got shelter underneath the Nye Beach Art Gallery covered walkway near the beach. There was a flat spot to sleep under the elevated ramp. He and Joe could stay warm in the sleeping bag together.

“Prime spot,” Joe would say, while guarding the entrance. Joe was a warrior.

It was warm compared to the North Pole, but still cold. Froggy got to know his new friend, Joe.

Joe served in Somalia as a warrior. His head was injured in a raid. He was shot up too and walked with much pain and difficulty.

Froggy and Joe traded stories, and were given food from the locals who looked out for the homeless.

Joe, loved Froggy’s Jingle Bells song. Froggy got tired of croaking all the time, but he knew Joe felt better when he sang Jingle Bells.

One day while Froggy was sitting with Joe, both hungry and scared, Algee Bear came by on her regular walk on the beach.

Algee Bear helped the homeless find shelter out of the cold of winter at the beach. Sometimes the wind and rain got the best of them. Algee Bear was kind and loving.

Newport, Oregon takes care of the homeless, especially during the coldest months of the year. Algee Bear is a member of Lincoln County’s volunteer peer support group assigned to Nye Beach.

If only there were more neighbors like Algee Bear in the world,” Joe would say.

Algee Bear was trained as a Mental Health First Aid USA peer support volunteer. She was also certified as a MH 1st Aid USA Trainer.

That night, Froggy and Joe found their way with Algee Bear’s help to a shelter with others who came in from the cold.

Froggy felt at home right away. Algee Bear was loving and kind. He felt safe. Froggy knew he had a chance to get back on his feet again.

“Algee Bear would see to that,” he thought. Froggy trusted Algee Bear. Joe got help from Algee Bear too. It seemed like folks cared about the homeless in Newport.

Froggy felt he was home, no longer scared and lonely. Joe felt the same.. They both talked with hope and joy for a better future.

Algee Bear helped Froggy find a new home with loving foster parents who took him in for good. He was sad to say good bye to his pal, Joe.

Algee Bear found Joe a veterans home in Lebanon, south of Portland. Joe would find a caring home and health care for his wounds from war.

Froggy was loved again and finally home…

“It was indeed a wonderful Christmas for Froggy and Joe. Thanks a bunch to Algee Bear and Newport, Oregon…

References:

Judy and Steve Sparks ❤
Steve and Judy Sparks

Wearing a Mask is Being Part of The Solution! Wear the Damn Mask!

Be part of the solution!

I have been wearing a mask since March 2020 and I am sanitizing too. I’m not sure why being considerate to others for the common good is now being mocked by some who are calling it “living in fear”, but it needs to stop!!!… When I wear a mask over my nose and mouth in public and in the stores/Supermarkets/Pharmacies/Offices – I want you to know the following… Dawn Quirk

“I’m educated enough to know that I could be asymptomatic and still give you the virus.

No, I don’t “live in fear” of the virus; I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

I don’t feel like the “government controls me”. I feel like I’m an adult contributing to the security in our society and I want to teach others the same.

If we could all live with the consideration of others in mind, the whole world would be a much better place.

Wearing a mask doesn’t make me weak, scared, stupid or even “controlled”. It makes me caring and responsible.

When you think about your appearance, discomfort, or other people’s opinion of you, imagine a loved one – a child, father, mother, grandparent, aunt, uncle or even a stranger – placed on a ventilator, alone without you or any family member allowed at their bedside…..Ask yourself if you could have helped them a little by wearing a mask.”

I am inviting you all to copy this and post it on your wall as your post if you agree with me.

Celebrating Democracy with Military and 1st Responder Families of America…

On Pearl Harbor Day…

I’ve been so inspired of late, for more than one reason. The events of last 4 years, this year especially, have moved my heart and soul like no other time in my 74 years. 


I just completed a series of stories with YouTube audio 5-10 minute most.


I couldn’t believe doing 15 editions over 2 weeks since Veterans Day! Wow!

I was walking with my family through this period. I felt my parent’s souls and hearts beating fast with anxiety, fear, hope, and love 💘 


Do you feel it with me?


I cried along with them. And I heal…


I cried my eyes out writing about my family’s roots in America starting around 1900.

The Schaub’s, Fierheisen’s, Antonson’s and Sparks, gathered at Ellis Island in 1900 to start a new life in America.

Ellis Island

All were so proud and excited as immigrants from Europe back then in 1900.

My family’s legacy was born then….


I ask myself often lately these questions.

Have we forgotten America’s promise?
Have we forgotten the meaning of freedom and democracy? 

Do we really know sacrifice and suffering as our parents and grand parents experienced through pandemics, wars, more wars, great depression?  And God knows what else!

Do our kids, grand children and great grand children know about any of this? 

Do kids K-12 learn about democracy in America in the 20th Century? WWI, Great Depression, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War? And so many other events of social and civil unrest?

What do we know in the 21st Century except greed and what we hear and see on TikTok? This scary thought and question doesn’t play well in my mind.

Have we forgotten America’s promise? 

My answer is a very loud and screaming, YES! I believe so, sadly…


But what can we and are doing about it? 


So, I was moved to write a series of stories from Veterans Day to Pearl Harbor Day 2020, just concluded.


I will pick this up again and hit the South Pacific with my father as he sailed off aboard the USS Bellegrove LSD2 in Feb1943. I’m going with him on each of the 8 campaigns from 1943 to June 1945 when WWII. 


I have 10 years of research to help me write the stories with true events. I did this in this Pearl Harbor Day “Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks” presentation.


I believe these stories need to be told now more than ever. I also know there are thousands of stories out there to be shared by our generation.


I keep thinking of a collaborative effort, including ebook series of short stories. Readers will want to return for more of this powerful history. We can tell the stories.


https://survivethriveptsd.org/2020/12/celebrating-democracy-with-ol-shipmates-from-the-uss-west-virginia-bb48-december-7-1941/


Cheers,
Steve Sparks, Author, USN vet 1963-1965

c1943 USS San Francisco
Vernon H Sparks BMC, US Navy 1918-1998…

Pearl Harbor Survivor

Celebrating Democracy with Ol’ Shipmates from the USS West Virginia BB48 December 7, 1941

Herb Crask with Judy Sparks and the families of USS West Virginia BB48…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_W._Downing

When we arrived at the USS West Virginia BB48 Annual Reunion reception in Seattle, I was in awe. I was sitting with two of my father Vernon’s only surviving shipmates from that fateful day, December 7, 1941.

Jim Downing was the Ship’s Chaplin and Post Master. He remembered my father. I couldn’t wait to talk with Jim.

I felt a kinship right away when looking into his eyes. Jim was 103 years old in the fall of 2016. He was as sharp as a tack and very alert.

Jim was one of the oldest Pearl Harbor survivors at that time. And he was famous.

Jim authored several books. He traveled around America each year until he couldn’t to share his stories.

Jim passed away in 2018 at age 105. A long life of serving America, indeed…

Jim Downing was and always will be my hero, and shipmate of my father.

https://www.usswestvirginia.org/veterans/personalpage.php?id=223

Bob Benefel knew my father too. But not that well. He mentioned an encounter with Vernon once. I don’t think Bob liked Vernon, but he didn’t say that.

Vernon was a bad ass…at times.

Bob was a a Radioman just like me! So, we talked about that as if we both served together on the ship.

Bob loved to talk about radio communications, cryptography in those days and tubes he had to replace all the time.

Bob would say, “90% of the problems were fixed by replacing tubes back then.”

I learned that in radio school too, in 1963…

So, I reflect on my conversation with both.

Jim knew Vernon pretty well. After all he was the ship’s Chaplin and Post Master.

Jim was like a father to Vernon. “Vernon would often talk about his wife and new son.” Jim said with a kind smile.

“I recall Coxswain Sparks mentioning his new son… can’t remember the name, though” Jim would say as we talked.

I was so moved. Jerry was was born 3 months before Pearl Harbor.”

Vernon sent post cards and letters home to Marcella and his family in St. Paul each week without fail. I knew this fact…

Tears flowed from my eyes as I listened to Jim talk about my father.

Vernon was a sweet young man on one side, and a fierce warrior on the other side. I’m like my father in that way…

“Vernon was worried that he would never see his family again…” Jim would say was we talked. I asked a few questions for sure.

A few more tears later…

I felt my father’s soul in that moment and thought, “I am my father’s son!”

I was so moved and honored to meet Jim Downing and Bob Benefel. They are with with father and all the USS West Virginia shipmates now.

Bless them all! “They will never ever be forgotten…” Vernon would say often in his life.

So, let me leave you with my father, Vernon’s 1st hand account of that Sunday morning 8am December 7, 1941…

National Park ServiceSurvivor MNQuestionnaire – Persons Present December 7, 1941, Oahu, Territory of HawaiiVernon H. Sparks, US Navy, Battleship USS West Virginia, CoxswainHometown: St. Paul, Mn

Brief Account of What Happened to You Before, During, & After the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.

“I was on the 3rddeck heading for the anchor windless room when the first torpedo hit the USS West Virginia. 

 From there, more bombing and torpedoes-when all hell broke loose.  Men in the brig were screaming for help. 

 I could not respond, there was no time…to check where the Marine guard was with the keys to the cells.  Evidently, he had already been hit.  

The men in the brig were engulfed in water and perished.  I worked my way up to the 2nd deck with water up to my waist.  

By this time, I came to a hatch with the manhole still open leading to the main deck.  I barely made it out of the escape hatch and was ordered by Lt. Stark to close that hatch.  

The men were still down there but it was too late for them.  That was the first time I heard that the Japs were attacking our fleet…and the whole island.  

I watched one of my best shipmates get himself killed-Roy Powers.  He stuck his head out the portside close to the ship-fitters shop; and about that time another torpedo hit and the concussion blew his head off.  His body fell back on deck headless.  

After that it was a matter of surviving.  There was no defense, the ship was already listing to port at about 35 degrees angle.  

I worked myself up further on the deck and observed the Commanding Officer, Captain Mervyn S. Bennion heading for the bridge.  The strafing and bombing was still on.  

When I arrived on the main deck going forward to the number one turret…strafing still going on…I dived under the overhang of the turret.  

Communications was out, so by word of mouth heard the order, “all hands abandon ship.”  Capt.Bennion was lying on the wing of the bridge mortally wounded…He asked the doc, “What kind of chance he had?”  And was told, “Not much Captain.”  

Then, Captain Bennion said, “Leave me on the bridge and this is my last order, ALL HANDS ABANDON SHIP!”  He died right after that order…  

After that order I jumped over the side to starboard and swam to Ford Island…

Us guys that made it were standing on the beach watching the USS Arizona blow up sky high…what a helpless feeling.  

I had torn my white uniform up to use as emergency treatment bandages for the wounded.  

Anyway, to make a long story short, we dashed across the field under strafing conditions to shelter.  In the BOQ, we were able shower in there and salvage clothes from the lockers, and helped organize the Harbor Patrol. 

 And was with that duty for a few months – then assigned to new construction with the 5th Amphibious Force hitting the beaches of the South Pacific, all the way, then finally Iwo Jima, & Okinawa until the Peace Treaty was signed aboard the USS Missouri in Toyko, Japan.   

People like myself could go on & on…but that would take a book…

”Vernon H. Sparks, December 7, 1941, Battleship USS West VirginiaFrom Ship’s Crew Muster:Sparks, Vernon H.       328-41-29     Cox.        13   Jan. 36   10/12/39