I had reason to visit Fort Sam Houston today – to pick up a set of prescriptions, at the new and vastly expanded BX mall, going through that one back gate where Harry Wurzbach dead-ends, after wandering past the military cemetery, the golf course and the Towers at Park Lane. It’s been a familiar haunt to me for years, even if I was never assigned there, or had reason to go to any offices when I was active duty. It was an open post back then – so wide-open that it was only embarrassment that kept the Fort Sam EM/NCO club from being listed as off-limits to Air Force personnel. (There was, according to scuttlebutt, a dissolute and faintly dangerous element which used to hang out at that club.) I used to take a short-cut through the post on North New Braunfels to circumvent traffic jams on the Pan-Am Highway, when I had to drive through to Lackland AFB from where I lived on the north-east side of town. I was basically familiar with the older part; the stately red-brick Victorian senior officer-housing mansions along the northern and western side of the monumental, L-shaped parade ground, and the series of enormous three-story neo-Spanish Colonial style tile-roofed administration buildings and barracks which lined the opposite side. The mansions along “colonel’s row” always looked well kept, but in the few years after I retired, some of the older buildings began looking pretty ragged, decrepit even. I sometimes wondered if the Army had given up on painting them altogether, trimming shrubbery and pulling up weeds in the lawns around. Part of the peace dividend, I guessed.
When Midwesterners Collide—A Challenge to Bill Quick
This is a lengthy response, and an implicit challenge to debate, prompted by Bill Quick’s “If Something Cannot Go On Forever, It Will Stop,” published on Thursday 27 April and duly Instalanched on Monday 8 May.
The first thing you need to do is read Bill’s essay; it’s ~4,200 words, reading time 10-20 minutes. I’ll be summarizing it below, but my (brief) summary will not only be explicitly theoretical but will be deliberately contrasted with my subsequent application-oriented response, so you will not get an altogether adequate notion of Bill’s thesis by reading this post alone.
That said, this will not be a mere fisking, and given what I believe is Bill’s current geography, only two states east of mine, a face-to-face debate is a real possibility, and one I hope to learn from.
Pi devan! (“Onward!”)
An Unnatural Interest?
Last Sunday, I decided to salvage what was an unproductive trip looking for a car part in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rather than go home empty handed, I went to a place that has held my curiosity for a few months.
And then I thought, in the many years Chicago Boys has profiled so many good writers with interesting subjects, I think I can guarantee you that this subject has never been covered.
A Visit To Wendover Field
I have always enjoyed seeing places of historical importance, with their evidence of importance hidden in plain sight. Virginia City, Nevada is such a place. To most of the visitors, it is simply an old western town whose shops now sell ice cream and T Shirts.
For those who know the history, it’s where Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain. It’s a place that produced so much silver that it built San Francisco, and was the beginning of a few major corporations today.
The Wendover Airfield is another such place. My curiosity about it was built over some years. On a past cross country trip of some years ago, I stopped there and saw dozens of old wooden buildings whose condition reminded me of the Bodie State Historic Park, which is kept in “arrested decay”. And there was a huge hanger just to the east of the main facility. It looked a bit different from a typical hanger, as it had offices or workshops all along the sides.
Hidden in plain sight.
Back to Google’s (Alleged) Beginnings…
Most people would not like to travel the way I travel. They want a specific route itinerary and planned places to visit.
For me, it is the spontaneity of the journey that I like. Last November I decided to drive from California to Minneapolis to attend Thanksgiving with my small family. And it was the unplanned stops along the way, a few way off course, that made the trip. I wrote about that trip here.
I have found a travel companion, and because of her background as a cruise director for the Royal Viking Line (and the first female cruise director), she is on board with my travel plans made at the last minute.
Inger once told me that she and her charge of passengers were in the middle of India, and the scheduled plane that was to take them to the Taj Mahal would not come. Now that is a challenge making arrangements “on the fly” for 20 people who are depending on you to get them to their destination in a timely manner. So she is used to travel’s unexpected detours.