Pilot of the Intruder

The A6 Intruder

My American History classes finished the upcoming epic American novel and hero memoir Witness to the American Century (formerly “Where Do We Get Such Men?” and also formerly “Accidental Odyssey”) yesterday, and it happened conveniently at the conclusion of the last lesson in American History that I will ever teach at Pace High School. I am still letting that sink in. What a way to go out!

To celebrate, we took a trip to the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum and received a guided tour from the hero of the book himself, Capt. Allen Brady. We watched an incredible IMAX film about aircraft carriers, the might of the United States Navy and the military collaboration we have with other countries from all over the world. Make no mistake though, there is no military mightier than the United States!

Pops in Seville Park with my American History classes, May 3, 2018

Pops talked to them about three (of the dozens) of the planes he flew in his 32 years with the US Navy, including the AD Skyraider, the A4 and the A6 Intruder. They got a very in-depth explanation of his shootdown in the A6 over North Vietnam in 1967, and we learned more than we could ever imagine about “tail hooks” and “bolters.”  Then it was on to the Vietnam POW exhibit, where Pops is featured. Things that were so familiar: the pink and red striped pajamas, the rubber tire sandals, the 7-line Vietnamese paper they used to write letters home, and a replica of the Zoo prison camp. Those kids will never, ever forget the atrocities that happened at the Zoo.

We ended our day trip with lunch in Seville Park where our hero signed all of the kids’ manuscripts for them and posed for pictures

GO NAVY! 

Witness to the American Century is currently being published by Kent State University Press with an anticipated release date of January, 2019.

Capt Allen Brady in the A4 during Operation Hardtack, Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1958

ALD, Friends, Brothers and the Future King of England

We had a boat and often visited our neighbors. Nearly all lived as we did, on the banks above the canal. It was a most delightful life, so free from care. The servants (were) happy too, so lighthearted and devoted to us. When I was old enough I taught them to read and had Sunday school every Sunday afternoon, which some did not like to attend. I always visited the sick and read the Bible and sang hymns. They used to say, “Here comes that angel child to sing for us.” Read more

The Clutter Remedy

PC: Instagram @within_novaki

Remember the Nineties, when trendy new cable networks like HGTV featured reality shows about getting your life organized? A team of tough-as-nails psychologists worked with licensed neat freaks branded as ‘professional organizers’ to strategically put every piece of crap a person owned out on their front lawn for all of America to see. After those shows took off in popularity, our American lexicon included new phrases that changed our lives forever… Read more

ALD, The Fall of 1855

In the fall of this year, 1855, my sister and I went to boarding school in Richmond. Mr. Hubert Pierce Lifefors*, who was trained to the Jesuit Faith and destined for their ministry, by some incluence*, I know not what, departed from the religion of his fathers, escaped from his surroundings to Virginia where he soon rose from visiting master to the head of a female school (Mrs. Meeds.) He was a most accomplished and elegant man, being physically and mentally gifted. He was the best educator I ever saw. He left his Jesuit religion behind him in France and was a devoted Episcopalian. He had a wonderful school, having pupils from Southern states. When the Civil War came upon us, he moved to Montgomery, Alabama, but did not live very long. His first wife, Miss Mary Williams, was a relative of my mother. His second wife was a lady of Montgomery, who after his death moved to Baltimore, and had a fashionable school called Madam Lefebres*. My sister and I went together there and always stood at the head of the class, she first and I second. Our school days were happy and provitable.* I developed a fine voice, sung solos at all concerts and led choruses. My sister was a fine performer. We both played in all concerts. Excuse my part of this compliment, but alas, there is no one living to do it, so I simply tell the truth. After two years, my sister stopped school. I went two years more. It was the custom for girls to stop school at eighteen. Then when I reached the required age, my sister, Jennie, was out. We all three made many friends, some have been lifelong. Even now at 76, I have correspondents — Mrs. Charles H. Dummock, Lizzie Sedlen of Glancester County; Miss Sallie Coles of Albemarle, Mrs. Julia Randolph Sage — I have letters from them now in 1919. It would take a column to tell of my many friends there and probably interest no one but myself. Read more

Happy As a Seagull with a Cheeto

PC: Instagram @mvm_frankfurt

Spring Break when you live on the beach means you get to entertain a good bit of company. In my case, it was teenagers who live forty-five minutes and a quarter of a tank of gas away. I’ve had a lot of visitors this week…mostly sandy-footed shower-takers and sun-kissed beach-worshippers who need power naps, and yes I loved every minute of it. Read more

The Listmaker

PC: Instagram @jen.menard.victor

I’ve been thinking about becoming a runner pretty much all my life. At my age (46), isn’t it probably time to give up?

Like naturally talented singers, I think God gave runners a special extra “something…” discipline, maybe? When they’re born, they seem to have something equivalent to the drug addiction gene, only these lucky souls are addicted to something completely healthy. They’re born addicted to the “runner’s high.” What’s not to envy?!

Well, I didn’t get that gene. What I did get is a trait I call “Resolve.” I make lists and then I complete them, obsessively. I think up items for my list and then, sooner or later, I check them off. This can be as simple as get my car detailed, something more hobby-focused like learn to can vegetables, or it can be as intense as learn to speak Portuguese (all of these are actually real items on my List). Like the runner, I am addicted to checking items off this list, and it comes with a ‘high’ all its own. Some goals take longer than others, and some that I created way back in my past are taking a bit of an eternity, but I never give up on a goal once I resolve to reach it. Read more

What Jane Goodall Taught Me

Gombe, Tanzania – Jane Goodall watches as Hugo van Lawick operates a film camera. The feature documentary JANE will be released in select theaters October 2017. (Jane Goodall Institute)

On March 12th, National Geographic will premiere it’s new bio-documentary Jane, about the legendary and iconic Miss Jane Goodall, Ultimate Conservationist and Queen of Primatology. Thinking again about Goodall sent me spiraling back to memories from my college years when I first learned of her work, her pioneering studies on chimpanzee behavior. I can still rattle off a sizable list of absolutely useless things that I remember (the term ‘opposable thumbs’ comes to mind), nuggets of information that I still think are absolutely fascinating with regard to her life’s work.

View the trailer here: JANE.

…This was SO ME in my twenties!

 

Read more

ALD-The Summer of 1850

The summer of 1850 my father and mother took their northern trip. I don’t know what they would’ve done without our dear aunt who was so efficient in every way. I remember their account of their trip to Saratoga, N.Y. and to Niagara through the Great Lakes to Montreal. I well remember the lovely wax dolls which they brought us. We never had many toys, as children didn’t in those days, and had never seen a wax doll. Our delight was unbounded. Those wax dolls, oh the joy they gave us. Read more

A Manuscript for YOU and YOU and YOU!

It is with GREAT excitement that I am able to give each one of my students in all of my American history classes their very own printed manuscript of the new book, Witness to the American Century (formerly titled “Where Do We Get Such Men?” and also formerly titled “Accidental Odyssey”). They are totally devouring it, and already they want to meet Pops, they want to see the planes at the Pensacola NAS Museum, they want to learn the prisoner tap code (we’re doing that on Monday) and they want to know more about why I hate Communism so much. (Oh…and do I plan to tell them!) It is such an invigorating way to teach the history I love so much.

What more in the world could I ask for?  

Manifesto

Frank Abbott Photography, 2017 www.frankabbott.com

When I first joined The Facebook in 2008, for some reason I was under the impression back then that I needed to lay out a schematic for my entire moral belief system in the BIO section. It was revised over the years, quite a few times actually, as I grew angrier about the stresses of my career, or if I found enlightenment related to some deeply personal revelation, and certainly after I got a divorce. I poured my soul into writing it, I remember that much for sure, and at that time I think I catered it to people who might know me through teaching in the school system. In the years since I wrote it, I’ve mercifully found other outlets for my vent-writing besides Facebook. This blog is one such place. Yet recently, someone messaged me with kind compliments about my old manifesto, and to be honest, I’d forgotten about it. I jumped back over there and found it once again, revisiting my 2008-2011 self, amazed at how much I absolutely have not changed in all that time (although my life has actually changed quite a bit). It’s baffling to see oneself evolve in so many ways and yet still not look so very different in the mind, even after a whole decade has passed. So here it is for posterity, the inside parts of my brain that are apparently timeless, quintessential and entirely DQ. Read more

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