Internet Dating – 50s Style


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This post is a little bit off of my usual style, but it will serve as an example of how things can work out, even if a little unorthodox.  But, most importantly, how having faith in the Man upstairs, can make things work out.  We will have our 60th anniversary in a couple of days on August 18.  (In the photo above, note all of the hundreds of tiny bird photos, from my DVD.)

Here is the true story.

I am from Muskegon, Michigan originally.  In March of 1958 I was stationed at Ardmore AFB, Oklahome.  Ann had just moved to Muskegon from her home in Beulah, Michigan.  She did this to attend Muskegon Business School.  She was nineteen year of age.  She just happened to rent an upstairs room and my grandmother’s house.  (You can see where this going, can’t you.)

Yep, my sweet grandmother, decided that she should do the right thing and notify me of the cute girl upstairs.   She provided me of her address, just in case I was interested.  This was in mid March of 1958.  Well, since I was a lonely service man, of course, I was a little interested.  (heck, a lot interested).  I decided to write this lass, and introduce myself as the grandchild of her landlord.  She wrote back immediately with a very nice letter, telling me about herself, etc.  So I wrote her back again.  That started our back and fourth letter swapping.  We struck a neat friendship that blossomed as we got to know each other.  She sent me a couple of pictures of herself.  I thought she had great legs.

Ann – 1958

Ann – 1958

You have to agree, she has great looking legs.  So, anyway, I sent her a couple of mine, as I wanted her to know what she was getting into.  Here I am, dressed to impress.

Bob – 1958

We continued to write each other.  By mid-April we were writing each other every day. Before, I had been writing to about 50 other girls.  (Well that figure may be inaccurate.  Maybe it wasn’t that many  I will need to go back and check my records.  After all, I am nearly 84 years of age, and my memory is a bit fuzzy.)  Anyway, I remember sending both of them a Dear Joan letter.  Things were getting more serious, but I still hadn’t met or even talked to Ann.

In about mid-June, I decided to ask Ann if she would marry me.  Yep, that’s right.  Sight unseen, I knew she was the one for me.  I waited in anticipation for her answer.  Six days later I got the return letter.  She said “I’d be honored to be your wife”.  Wow! I thought, what do I do now?  Well, I got my calendar out and did some calculating.  First,we needed to set a date.

I decided a fast trip home was in order.  I could only get a three-day pass, but that didn’t stop me.  I decided to hitch-hike to Oklahoma City, go to Tinker AFB and get a hop (free-right) on any military aircraft that was heading to Michigan or vicinity.  I figured I would hitch-hike to Muskegon, see my future bride for a few hours, then grab a bus back to Ardmore.  I called my dad and asked him go to Ann’s apartment and inform her of my plans.

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.  I made it to Tinker AFB just fine.  But as I was sitting, waiting in the transient lounge a fierce thunder storm hit.  It included rain, very high winds, and large hail.  All flight operations ceased and all aircraft were grounded.  I had no choice but to hitch-hike back to Ardmore when weather cleared.  When I got there I called my dad again and asked him to go to Ann’s place again and tell her of my aborted mission.

Okay, I decided.  Time to go to plan B.  I decided to call her and talk to her on the phone.  This would be the first time I would hear her voice.  I called my dad once again.  (By now, my dad is getting to know Ann quite well.)  My grandmother didn’t have a telephone, so I asked my dad to, once again, go get Ann and bring her back to the house.  I would then call home at a designated time, and Ann and I would have our first conversation…….to make wedding plans.

Well, to have a private conversation at my parents house is not easy.  My dad has his favorite chair, a huge recliner that is where he spends his time relaxing.  Our phone is, yep, you guessed it.  On a stand, right next to that chair.  There are no other handsets.  I do not know if my dad gave up his seat for her, but I didn’t ask, as I had other things on my mind when she said hello to me…..for the first time.  We chatted a little then I asked her how August 18 would work for her.  I mentioned that date because of my plans that I had strategically worked out, explained in the following paragraph….

I had made some preliminary  plans vis-a-vis our wedding date.  I knew how many paydays I would need to have to get enough money to rent an apartment, buy groceries, and get a round-trip ticket for me.  All the little things need to start a sucessful marriage to get off the ground.  So I had calculated all of this and figured if I could leave on Friday the 15th, after getting paid of course, I could get to Chicago on Saturday.  A friend of mine was heading that way and he would give me a ride there to the Chicago bus station, where I could buy a ticket for the final leg to Muskegon, Michigan.  Ann was to meet me at the bus station, at 2:00 PM the following day, Saturday.  Then we could get married on Monday the 18th.

So, back to our very first telephone conversation.  She said that date would be fantastic.  She would graduate from business school the previous week, so our timing was impeccable.  She said she would make all of the plans, get the license, line up a church and preacher, and send out invitations.  Before I forget, I also went to a jewelry in Ardmore store and paid 79.00 for a set of diamond rings.  Yes, they were real.  Remember this is 1958.

It worked out exactly as planned.  I pulled into the bus station at 2:00 and she was sitting on bench looking pretty much as she did in that picture above. It was like we had known each other forever.  We got a taxi to head for my parents house.  Remember, back then co-habitation (shacking-up) before marriage usually wasn’t done, so I would be staying there until we were married.  She mentioned on the way to the house, that I wouldn’t have much time to relax, as the wedding rehearsal was at 4:00.  She was in a hurry.

All went well, we got to know each other more as the weekend went by.  The wedding on Monday evening was very nice, except for the absence of her parents.  They were up in age and didn’t feel up to making the 150 mile trip from Beulah to Muskegon.  On the following day, Tuesday, we did drive up there, though, so I could meet my in-laws.  They turned out to be awesome people.  There was only one minor snag.  I didn’t have enough money for Ann’s bus ticket back to Ardmore.  I had hoped to get some cash in our wedding gifts.  Alas, there was none.

The Melody Rangers – Ardmore AFB – Me 2nd from the right.  On far right is future steel guitar grat, Stu Basore.

But no fear.  Since I was a professional musician before and during my Air Force career, I had an extra alto saxophone that my parents were keeping for me.  I took it to the local music store, that I used to haunt as a teenager.  I talked the owner into buying that sax so I could buy Ann’s bus ticket.  Problem solved.  We packed all of Ann’s belongings, including dishes, pots and pans, etc. into seven suit cases.  We checked them through on the bus.

Back in Ardmore.  The following day I took Ann out to the airbase.  She got a civil service job working in base supply.  Our landlord, thought we were a sweet couple.  Their son had a cream-puff 1953 Buick Roadmaster that he was willing to sell us for 795.00 and he would tote the note.  I would make payments to him.  The Lord was smiling on us.

So there we were.  All of a sudden we went from, ah, let’s see.  I won’t say a struggling couple, as we didn’t have enough sense to know what struggling meant.  We were just taking each day one at a time, having the time of our lives.  But there we were, Ann had a great job, we had a great car, and I was about to get promoted and add another stripe.  You see, the Good Lord was following our antics all the way, making sure we wouldn’t get lost.  It has now been nearly 60 years.  I wouldn’t recommend our way of getting ‘hitched’ but if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wedding photo

Wedding photo.

I hope you enjoyed this fun, but true story of love and adventure.

 

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Happy Decoration Day


Of course, we all know that it is now known as Memorial Day.  Originally called Decoration Day, to be observed celebrating and honoring the dead, military and civilian.  It was, and is,  a tradition to decorate the graves with flowers, flags, etc.  The name change happened around 1968.

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Your’s truly, of course. My old hat has stood the test of time.

I am not good at selfies, but I thought I would toss this one to show that I am standing the test of time, too.  Ann says I should have smiled a little more to show off my new teeth. 🙂

My oldest memories of Decoration Day, as it was called when I was a child, was of my Dad and I listening to the Indianapolis 500 Auto Race.  The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, as it’s motto states.  The first time was probably about 1938.  I would have been four years old, and my dad was a big fan of that annual race.  It wouldn’t matter what we were doing, fishing, washing the car, or sitting in our living room, there was always a radio present so we could listen.  Then in later years, of course, we would be watching on television.  Thus, that is what I did yesterday, as I have done all those years, except for a couple of years during my military deployment.

The race has changed over the years.  The cars are faster but safer.  Back then the speeds were barely over 100 mph, but the gradually improved.  I remember when A. J. Foyt turned laps at the amazing speed of 160 mph.  Now, this year, qualifying speeds were around 230 mph.

Anyway, I had a most enjoyable weekend.  It started with a great telephone conversation with my dear best friend in Tennessee.  It had been perhaps a year or more since we had chatted by phone, but we keep pretty much in contact each month by e-mail.  She is also a very accomplished wildlife photographer, too.  So we always have things to talk about.  She and her husband are our closest friends.

We then spent a couple of hours birding at San Angelo State Park on Saturday morning.  The heat is starting to reach 100 degree temps, so the birding is starting to slow down.  The rest of the weekend we spent just hanging out at home, watching the Texas Rangers baseball games.

I did take a few hours to work on my  (click here) Fine Art America page, and my Gallery page that you access above.  I would so love to have some of you purchase my prints.  As low as 17.00 and change.  Buying is easy.  In my Gallery, I am putting direct links under each photo.  Click that link and a price list will appear, you only need to decide the size.  Or click the FineArtAmerica link above.

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Painted Bunting

Of couse, I must continue my habit of posting at least one of my photographs with each post.  The Painted Bunting is one of the most beautiful birds around here.  They will be present here for most of the summer, to brighten the upcoming hot dry days.

I hope that all of my readers have a safe but fun Memorial Day weekend.  Until the next time, HAPPY BIRDING!!!

A Happy Cloudy Day…..What??


I awoke Sunday morning, and to my pleasant surprise the skies were cloudy.  Now, you may say what’s the big deal with that.  Well, I will tell you.  With the overcast skies, the light will be great for photography.  With cloudy skies, you avoid harsh shadows or bright hot spots that you get on bright sunny days.  Having said that, most of my photography is done on those bright sunny days.  Here in west Texas, if I had to wait for those cloudy days, my cameras would lay collecting dust.  Like the song says, “…and the skies are not cloudy all day……”

The reason for my happiness.  I had decided that since I haven’t been feeling too well, I would just go sit in the blind at San Angelo State Park for an hour or two.  Now that blind; the way it is situated, has terrible light in the morning sun.  Trees break up the light into either bright sun or dark shadows.  Not many areas of open shade.  To get any photos of birds, they usually are bright on one side and dark on the other.  In other words, it is difficult to get a nice photo with well-balanced light.

But even away from the blind, I would prefer cloudy days over sunny days.  Nice even light on all subjects and saturated color.  Now I am speaking as a bird photographer.  I am not looking for nice blue skies, as that is not a necessity for bird photos.  For landscapes and scenics, well that is a different subject altogether.

All of the photos that you see here in this post were photographed on that cloudy Sunday morning.

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Yellow Warbler

This Yellow Warbler surprised us when it made an appearance in a nearby tree.  It is migrating from the south of Mexico and heading for it’s summer residence in middle United States.

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Northern Bobwhite

This Northern Bobwhite just wandered in from some nearby brush area.  Notice no harsh light from the rocky background.

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Northern Cardinal

Normally it would be difficult to get nice even light on this Northern Cardinal.  The reds really glare in open bright sunshine.

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Mourning Dove

For some reason or other, I usually pass up photos of doves as they are so plentiful, but the overcast light brought out the nice colors.

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House Sparrow

The same goes for this bird.  I have never seen a House Sparrow look so beautiful.

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Curve-billed Thrasher

I love this mean-looking bird.  There’s a new sheriff in town

These photos were all shot at an ISO of 1600.  Shutter speed was about 1/1000 sec. with the aperture wide open.  Canon 7D Mk II with a Tamron 150-600mm Gen 2 zoom lens.  Cropping and post editing with Photoshop CS5.

Birding advice for San Angelo State Park


I live only three miles from San Angelo State Park, and most of you know from my posts, that I frequent the place four to five times a week.  I get a large percentage of my bird photographs there, but not where you would suspect.

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Red-tailed Hawk

Occasionally, I stop at the bird blind to see what species might have stopped by.  During those visits I often see birders from out of town, that are camping there. I have found that most of them go only to the blind to see birds.  They don’t know what they are missing.

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Golden-fronted Woodpecker

I don’t know exact numbers, but I would suspect that there are 200-300 species that can be seen in the park, depending on the time of year.  As you know, they come and go with the migration and changing seasons.  But just a handful visit the blind.  That area mostly draws seed-eaters.  Remember, I said MOSTLY.  Others will stop by on occasion, because of the water feature.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

On a regular basis, you won’t see hawks, owls, egrets, flycatchers and other non-seed eating species.  Oh, yes, as I said, on a rare occasion one of these will stop by, if only for a drink of water, or to snatch an innocent sparrow.

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Great Horned Owl

I would recommend to leave your campsite, get in your car and just drive slowly over the twenty something miles of roads.  Watch the trees and brush for movement and you can get some pleasant surprises.  It is always fun to come upon some warblers, kinglets or gnatcatchers darting around.

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American White Pelicans

O.C. Fisher Lake is another great spot.  Pelicans, egrets, herons, grebes and other water birds can be seen at or from the shorelines.

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American Avocet

So my advice is to spend a couple of hours just cruising the park.  You will be surprised how many bird you can see.  After that, go to the bird blind and pad your lists. 🙂

For prints of these and some of my other work click HERE.

Until my next post, HAPPY BIRDING!!!

 

Lifer 301…..My Virginia Rail


In the world of birding, a lifer is a bird that an individual has seen for the first time in his or her life.  When I got into serious bird photography about ten years ago, I was only interested in photographing them.  In that vein, as I captured them on film, I found that I needed to be able to tell people what I was photographing.  I then started buying various guides so I could learn about the different species.  I also found that there are 383 different species just in my local area of the Concho Valley.  In my edition of Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America, there are 854 species in the country.  Now get this, as of February 26, 2018, there are 648 species that can be seen in the state of Texas.  That is according to the Texas Birds Records Committee of the Texas Ornithological Society.    Wow!!  that is around 75% of the entire national count.  So if you want to see bird, Texas is the place to be.

Right now we are in the middle of spring migration.  Birds are moving north from Mexico, etc, to their northern homes.  Some stop here, others keep on moving more northerly.  So, the odds of seeing more unique birds is really great this time of year.  In the fall this is all reversed.

Anyway, as the years have gone by, I adopted the habit that most birders have, of keeping track of how many of these birds I have actually seen and have learned to identify.  Most I have photographed.  Others, I have observed closely with the help of more expert birders.  I have accumulated the “life list”.  I saw number 301 a few days ago.  It was my very first Virginia Rail, a very rare bird for the San Angelo area.

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Virginia Rail

At the time, we, Ann and I, were watching for a Sora, another marsh bird, that had been reported.  We had arrived early, with a burrito and coffee, at the area where the Sora had been reported.  It was a small marshy area with reeds and cat-tails; the perfect habitat.  The Sora is a very shy bird that doesn’t like to show itself often.  So patience is the key.  We sat there for about 45 minutes while we finished our breakfast.  We were about to leave, when Ann saw a little movement.  We got some teasing little peeks through the grasses, then….what the??  I saw an orange bill.  Hey, wait a minute, Sora’s don’t have orange bills.  A few seconds later, the Virginal Rail, pictured above finally ventured into the open.

The Virginal Rail and the Sora both winter in Mexico and east along the gulf coast.  They then migrate to spend summer the northern states.  It was during this migratory trip that they decided to stop off here in San Angelo.  Possibly traveling companions.  Anyway, a few minutes after this exciting event, the Sora that we were originally looking for came out of the reeds at almost the same location.

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Sora

So, getting a ‘tofer’ made for an exciting morning.  Getting great photos of each added a little sugar.  You can see my entire Life List by clicking on that button at the top of this page.

Until the next time

HAPPY BIRDING!!

 

A new (May)day dawns.


I have been doing a lot of thinking since my last post, considering what kind of changes I can make to keep my Texas Tweeties blog interesting.  Also since that post, I have acquired over one hundred new subscribers.  Of course, that shows me that I might not need to make major changes at all.  However, one thing I might do, is to sometimes touch on stories of my past, and I do have many.  For example, how many of you knew that I tried to be a piano tuner once?  Or an award winning paper boy? (Some great stories on that one.)  Just a couple of the things from my mysterious past.

Of course, my blog title of Texas Tweeties, is in line with my photography of birds.  A friend of mine chose that name for me.  However, it has nothing to do with Twitter and those kind of tweets.  You might say that I have been tweeting long before our president started tweeting.  I had considered once to change that title, but it caused too much of an uproard among my readers, so Texas Tweeties shall remain thy name.

Another major change is that I don’t do my own printing anymore.  My aging, but excellent Epson printer is giving me problems.  It has served me well the past few years, but I just can’t afford to replace it.  But not to worry, you can go to my FineArtAmerica site and order my work in any size you desire.  You also have the option of different types of paper, mats and framing.  You can also order coffee mugs and other home decor featuring my photographs.  Just go to this link FineArtAmerica, click the image you are interested in.  Drop-down menus will show sizes and prices.  You can order direct.

Oh, yes, before I forget about it, I have been feeling better. Not 100%, but getting there.  I am getting head movement therapy at the West Texas Rehab Center.  Hopefully my bouts of dizziness will subside.  But with feeling better, Ann and I got out a little in the past few days and got a few photographs.  My highlight was spotting this Common Yellowthroat.  They are very shy little birds.  They hang out in dense brush mostly.  You can hear them before you see them, or maybe never see them.  It can be very frustrating.  However, this one made an appearance for a few minutes, giving me ample time to get several exposures.

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Common Yellowthroat

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Common Yellowthroat

Also, while driving around the parks near Lake Nasworthy, we spotted this Great Egret in her breeding colors.

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Great Egret in breeding plumage.

Well, that is all for this post.  I’ll be back in a few days with more exciting stuff.

Happy Birding!!

Rumors of my passing are unfounded…..


Yes, I am still around and I have realized that it has been about two months since my last post.  To be truthful, I have considered discontinuing this blog.  I guess it was probably that I had the winter blues, etc.  Anyway, I just couldn’t get myself pumped up to write.  But I still had people reading my older posts, and some others subscribed, hopeful for new articles to come.  I decided to give it another try.

Then, about the tenth of March, about midnight, I was awokened with the urge to go to the bathroom to relieve myself.  As I started to rise from the bed, all of a sudden I was hit with a ferocious attack of vertigo.  Have you ever heard someone say, that the room was spinning?  Hey, it happened.  I couldn’t focus on anything, because it kept whizzing past my eyes and on around the bedroom.  I was so off balance I couldn’t get off the bed.   My wife called 911, and the EMTs were there in minutes.  The fire station is only about six blocks away.  They helped me, carried me to the bathroom so I could finish what I started out to do.  This while the room was still spinning and I couldn’t focus on anything.  Needless to say, I then got very nauseous, along with all that goes with it.

I will spare all of the details, except to say I am sorry for the EMT who had to clean the ambulance afterwards.  Not a fun trip.  I was kept in the hospital for a couple of days while, with the help of anti-nausea meds, I finally could walk without looking like Tim Conway.  Anyway, I have had problems with my dizziness and off-balance since then.  I have an appointment on April 30, (three days to go), at West Texas Rehab where they are going to do some therapy that will hopefully cure it once and for all.

Through all that, I haven’t done much with my birding and photography.  I have been only able to get to the field for periodic short trips, when I have little periods of near normalcy for maybe an hour here and there.  Here are a few photographs that I managed to get in those little forays.  Just click and scroll down.

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Great Egret in breeding plumage.

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Vesper Sparrow

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Greater Roadrunner

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Pied-billed Grebe

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Merlin

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Canyon Towhee

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Cinnamon Teal

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Loggerhead Shrike

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American Kestrel

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Bell’s Vireo

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Grasshopper Sparrow

Most of these photos were captured around the San Angelo area.  There have been reports of Painted Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, various warblers and other spring birds coming in the past few days.  So hopefully, by my next post, I will have gotten several photos of those birds.  That should be sometime next week.

I hope you enjoyed this brief post and the photographs.  Until my next post………

Happy Birding!!! Continue reading