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Category: History

So long, Bob Seger…I’m Glad I Knew Ye

Have you ever been to a rock concert? Well, my daughter bought tickets to Bob Seger’s Final Tour Concert at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis recently. I was invited! I was so excited!! I’ve only been to a Neil Diamond concert and that was probably 30 plus years ago. My daughter and I used to clean house together to their music…so we were used to be-bopping together with dust clothes in our hands to their music.

I like Neil’s music, but he’s no Bob. Neil is like a small vanilla sundae with 1 tsp. of chocolate sauce. Bob is like a large hot fudge Sundae with a double scoop of really hot fudge with whipped cream and cherry on top. Don’tcha love it when you get to the bottom and there’s still some hot fudge down there! Ambrosia!!

Well, anyway, I live 2 ½ hours from my daughter and Indy so I carefully planned my trip so I wouldn’t hit much shop traffic, even though it was Saturday. (I’m an older lady, remember). My daughter gave me strict instructions to avoid the construction on I-70W at the OH-Indy border because it was down to one lane. She says, “Mom, just get off on Rte 40 when the time comes and you’ll be fine.” OK, I can do that.

Sure enough, after about 40 minutes on 70W, I saw a sign that said “You can choose an alternate route if you wish.” Well, it wasn’t worded like that, exactly, but that’s the tone I read. So I thought, well fine, I’ll decide which one I want. I passed the Chester Blvd area, which I know well, but thought I had maybe, better choices so I went on. After a little while, I went up a hill, around a curve and ran into the biggest, longest line of cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, jeeps, Travel trailers, motorcycles, busses, you get the drift.

So I joined them. (What choice did I have now!) I stayed in that line and inched forward for about 45 minutes. Sometimes, we didn’t even inch…we just sat. I was between 2 nice semi’s. I say nice because the one in the front had lots of writing on the back (besides “wash me” written in the dust) so I had something to read. The driver of the truck in the back inched his truck over to straddle the center line so jerks in cars couldn’t zoom past. I pretended he was my protector and hero. (I felt like when I lived on Camp Pendleton back in the day…and had all those Marines to protect us.) I felt like we were in a traffic battle here. I just have to cheer when truckers take responsibility to stop jerks from acting on their jerkiness, don’t you? (unless you are the jerk!)

Well, it was a beaut of a day…with wispy clouds in the sky, forming different pictures. I saw 2 hands, a small dog with one ear, a buffalo head, and a python with one eye. I also watched a farmer harvest an entire bean field. Thank the Lord we’ll have beans this winter! I was beginning to wonder, with the wet spring we had. We finally broke out into the light of day again. I was getting to feel like I was the bologna between two slices of bread! It’s on to Indy!!

The concert was spectacular. My seat was on the aisle in a card table-type chair. Like we were afterthoughts. The stairs was beside my left foot. It was kind of exciting to see if I was going to jump around to the tune of “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” fall down the steps and break a hip or not. I just got a little off balance once…don’t tell my daughter. She won’t let me go anymore.

We got a little turned around when we left to find our car in an outside car park. Not an easy feat to find it with 60,000 fans leaving the venue in cars, trucks, cycles, vans, jeeps….you understand. We watched them all as we wandered around trying to look intelligent. I told her to not look scared. She had a small noise maker on her keychain. I had a one inch flashlight and a small pink canister of mace, expiration date 1/2017. I figure the muggers would be able to laugh themselves to death. I wasn’t too scared although it was midnight. The crowds were thinning fast. I can still kick crotch high with my left leg, though, as long as I have something to hang onto. A nice security guard finally told us the way to our car. We said “God bless you” to him and he was grateful. We do what we can.

Bob Seger, I’m so glad I knew you. I’ll continue singing Katmandu, Shame on the Moon, Fire Down Below, and so many others…as long as I have breath. Against the wind, against the wind, against the wind, against the wind, against the wind, against the wind against the, wind…

It Was October of 1972

October, 1972. The Mighty FID (First In Defense), USS Forrestal (CVA 59) was on a diplomatic visit to Turkey. America had been deep into the Cold War for about 27 years. Of course, over in The ‘Nam, my brothers & sisters were dealing with hot lead; with a few years to go before Emperor Richard I called it quits and brought the survivors home.

We’d been at sea for about 30 days, just long enough to run out of all the alcohol & other stuff that we’d smuggled aboard before deployment. Our port of call was Istanbul, formerly Constantinople. Since our aircraft carrier was far too large to dock in most ports, we used liberty launches to ferry people ashore for visits. These could carry up to 100 men (no ladies back then) ashore for port visits.

At the time, I was a lowly E-3, ashore for a little cultural exchange and a lot of drinking. My first taste of ouzo was from an old Turkish vendor at the ancient indoor mall, Misir Carsisi, that attracted many tourists; then and now. It was in easy walking distance from the place where our launches came and went during “Liberty Call”. They were usually running about every hour to and from the ship.

Here, I should mention that Turkey was under martial law (for some reason) during our visit. One could see Turkish Army soldiers scattered about the city, keeping the peace. One of their stations was at the launch docks to protect their American visitors. So, one mild October night, I’m walking back alone from one of the many watering holes, with a full head of steam on.

As I reached the landing, I saw a soldier nearby who was holding a WW2 model of a Thompson sub machine gun. Being a curious drunk who grew up around firearms, I walked closer for a better look at his weapon. He smiled when he saw me and said in fair English, “Cigarette? American cigarette?” Well, fiends & naggers, I saw a great opportunity here for a little olde timey horse trading.

I pointed to his weapon and said, “Machine gun for cigarette?” Now, I should point out that both he and I KNEW that the gun was unloaded, with the bolt locked back and NO magazine attached. He had those on his utility belt. Seeing the humor in the situation too, the soldier handed me his weapon as I lit the cigarette that I had just given him.

Since drunks find the oddest things funny, I pointed the machine gun at about a dozen of my shipmates (including some officers) who were waiting for the liberty launch. I hollered, “Hit the DECK, motherfuckers!” Well, they all started kissing concrete as the Turk was about to piss himself laughing! Realizing that I was now in a bit of a small pickle, I immediately handed the weapon back to the soldier and hauled ASS back up the street away from the docks.

After waiting about 2 hours, I returned to the fleet landing and quietly caught the next launch back to the ship. Most of my buddies refused to believe my story, but the ones who knew me well also knew that I was telling the truth. As we old Southern rednecks like to say, “That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ with it!!”