Today’s Gag

April 29, 2015
1505:STUPID-BlogCopyright © 2015 Jim Sizemore.

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Encampment

May 15, 2013

Family, Friends, and Neighbors

In March 1973, I spent a week or more photographing kids and streetscapes in the southernmost part of South Baltimore, where Light Street ends and a complex of old warehouses and railroad yards began. That was the scene then. These days, the area has been gentrified and many of the warehouses are now apartments and condos. (The railroad yards in that area are still there, now owned by CSX.)

I saw this group of kids there on several occasions. It was always the same girls and boy; and the boy, to quote from an unpublished story of mine about city kids, seemed to be the “leader in charge.” The girls, meanwhile, usually appeared distracted, or — perhaps — just self-absorbed in the classic “tween” girl group manner. They laughed and chatted while paying scant attention to me.

The boy stood off to one side, serious (he never smiled at me, just stared), hyper-alert, protective, as if he were on sentry duty. I came to think of the group in dramatic terms as a family, a tribe, or perhaps an encampment of gorilla fighters hiding out in the mountains. Romantic ideas aside, I composed the image with the boy foregrounded, as dominate in the frame as he appeared to me to be in his relationship with the girls, and I was careful to include enough of the background buildings to give a feeling for the industrial character of the area.

To provide more context to this layout I’ve added two other images of the “campsite,” made on the same day. I don’t know what those huge metal cylinders are, but since the neighborhood is only blocks from the harbor, I figure they may be buoys. (Click on any of the images for larger views.)

This is an edited re-post from July 9, 2008
Copyright © 2013 Jim Sizemore.

Today’s Gag

April 15, 2013
1304-STOP-BlogCopyright © 2013 Jim Sizemore.

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One-Minute Memior

March 13, 2013

Pike’s Peak, Summer, 1956

tourists

Climbing Pike’s Peak wasn’t challenge enough for my U. S. Army 77th Special Forces Group. The gung-oh outfit — aka The “Green Berets” — designed a training exercise that involved climbing the 14,000 foot tourist mountain in Colorado, and they decided it would be a good idea to begin by climbing two other 13,000 foot peaks on the way. (Click the image above for a larger view.)

The exercise was part of a Summer Military Mountaineering course at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs. The slog took three days, and we spent two nights in sleeping bags, no tents.Coffee2 But the weather was fine, sun during the days and cool nights, so the sleeping bags were not the problem. The problem for me — a picky eater in those days— was that we “dined” only on military “C-rations.” As anyone who served in the army back then will tell you, C-rations consisted of tasteless canned meat, stale crackers, and weak Sterno-heated coffee. In the snapshot, my tepid brew is being sipped from a can recently emptied of its sliced peaches for breakfast.

On the first night out, my buddy Pluchek and I slept under an arrangement of huge boulders, so situated as to create a small cave-like shelter. The idea of nesting there was to avoid the heavy dew that settles in the mountains each morning. Our plan didn’t work. Abundant moisture collected on the tops of the boulders and ran in rivulets to the underside, where it dripped onto us. The next morning, we crawled from under the rocks like human slugs and dosed ourselves with some of that wonderfully bad coffee. pluchekrockAfterwards, during the “hurry-up-and-wait” military routine before the order to move out came, Pluchek used his rucksack for a pillow and napped on a warm rock like a lizard.

We made our target summit the next afternoon after a third long hike in as many days. We didn’t have to actually “climb” the mountain. To me, mountain “climbing” means a hand over hand struggle using ropes and pitons and such. (Rock climbing was another of our Summer Military Mountaineering courses, but I’ll save that for another blog post.) Since we were already at altitude, we simply walked up the rest of the way to Pikes Peak, strolled to the 14,110 foot summit as you would on any other hike. To be honest, the experience was rather anti-climatic — pun intended. We were greeted by tourists who had opted to take the scenic cog railway. After a cigarette break and extra time to enjoy the view, we loaded onto two trucks for the ride back to Fort Carson. pluchek2In the shot of Pluchek at the summit, you can just barely make out Colorado Springs in the distance through the morning mist.

As we moved to the trucks, I spotted a cute girl posing for a snapshot by the Pike’s Peak summit sign, and assumed the older man taking the picture was her father. She was a typical 1950s bobby-soxer, bobbed hair, tan “car coat,” rolled up blue jeans to show off her white anklets, and what appeared to be classic penny loafers on her feet. The man noticed me and turned just as I was about to snap a final frame with my box camera. I love the blur that resulted from the smiling man’s movement — it creates a dynamic foreground element that serves to frame the girl and the sign — an example of what I’ve come to think of as photographic serendipity. Dumb luck, in other words.

When we returned to Fort Carson and were told about our class for the following day, it turned out to be another activity that raised questions in my naturally non-military mind. As we were briefed, my thoughts went something like this: Unless we are going to be prospecting for gold or silver in the Rocky Mountains, why in the world do we need to learn how to pack mules?

Doodlemeister is looking for short memory pieces up to a thousand words, on any subject, in any style — as long as it happened to you. Whatever the subject, we have a bias for the lighthearted tone. And we’ll help you to edit and/or cut your piece. If you’d like to submit a story, please contact us at jimscartoons@aol.com

Copyright © 2013 Jim Sizemore.
This is an edited re-post from August 20, 2009.

Today’s Gag

October 15, 2012
Copyright © 2012 Jim Sizemore.

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Today’s Gag

October 1, 2012
Copyright © 2012 Jim Sizemore.

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