Wayne Ford invites you


MINORITY IMPACT STATEMENT LEGISLATION 101

ROUNDTABLE

Friday, January 10, 2020

In 2008 Iowa became the first state in America to pass the Minority Impact Statement Legislation.  The internationally known Sentencing Project based in Washington, DC had concluded in their research that Iowa had the highest percentage of black males incarcerated.  As an Iowa Legislator, I chose to visit the Sentencing Project to learn more about their research and what I, as legislator could do about it.

In 2008 I authored the legislation that made Iowa the first state in the nation to implement this historic legislation.  Since 2008, Connecticut, Oregon and in 2019 New Jersey implemented similar legislation.  Last legislative session, seven states-Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, and Vermont have introduced legislation to require racial impact statements.  Just recently Oklahoma filed to implement the minority impact statement.

On Friday, January 17, 2020 at the Iowa State Capitol (old Supreme Courtroom) The Brown and Black Forums of America will be hosting a Minority Impact Statement Legislation 101 Roundtable from 2-4PM.  This will kick off the Brown and Black Forums of America’s Democratic Presidential Forum week of activities. On January 20, 2020 the Brown and Black Forums of America will be hosting a Democratic Presidential Forum at the Iowa Events Center.  The event is a partnership between Vice TV and Cashmere Agency.

Former and current Iowa State Legislators, community leaders, lobbyists, local/ state officials, and Universities  officials will discuss the legislation history, implementation, research, impact and how other states are initiating similar legislation.

The roundtable will be facilitated by Wayne Ford who is a former Iowa State Legislator, Co-Chair of the Brown and Black Forums of America and founder of the Wayne Ford Equity Impact Institute.

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Living by the river

Yes, it’s January.  Nonetheless, it’s a good time to get out and walk, especially if you live by the river, like we do. 

Yesterday, January 6th, we saw 15 eagles on a two-mile stretch of the Des Moines River.

Beginning at the Euclid Avenue bridge east of River Place, and going south along the Trestle to Trestle Trail, we saw only two eagles.  However, once we walked over the Inter-Urban Trail Trestle, less than a quarter of a mile down river, we began to see an eagle almost every 300 feet.  We did not see the same eagle twice.

We met a man on the trail coming from down river and were excited to tell him that we had seen eight eagles at that time.  He mentioned that on the day before [Monday] there were approximately 20 eagles behind a shed on 6th Avenue above the river bridge.  Not too long after we stopped to chat with him, we saw our remaining seven eagles.

On Monday, Stephanie walked the 3-mile round trip from River Place, 2309 Euclid Ave., under the General Marcellus Crocker Memorial Bridge on the west side of the river, south along the Trestle to Trestle Trail, across the Inter-Urban Trail Bridge, around the bend and south again on the Neal Smith Trail until it connects with an unnamed trail heading north toward McRae Park.  At that point, Stephanie saw 5 eagles – 3 adults and 2 juveniles – sitting in a tree (photo above) along the west side of a man-made pond adjacent to the location where Riverside Park once sat, and is again being turned into an amusement park.  On Tuesday, we saw two, but there were several across the river from us on the south shore.

I wish the photos were better.  The pictures were taken by an iPhone and an Android.  Obviously, the best way to see these majestic birds is to follow our footsteps.  Noon is the best time of day, and the weather should be great for the rest of the week for viewing. 

You can actually get right underneath them.  However, that’s not a great location.  If you’ve ever seen eagle whitewash, you would understand.  You will notice some on the trail if you go.  For those of you who live too far from Des Moines or the Des Moines River, trust us, this is an amazing sight to see.

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Challenging times

“What’s your address?” 

“You can’t ask me that,” I said.  “That’s a test, or at the least, it’s a challenge.”

The election official was taken aback and became defensive.  We engaged in a small discussion.  I could see that I rattled her cage and she was going to show me who was boss.  She had my identification; what more did she need?  Holding my driver’s license, she asked me to verify my name.  I hesitated, but in the end, I acquiesced.  I voted and left.

Later, I sent an email to Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald and told him I felt uncomfortable about the process of giving everyone a little test to see if they knew their name and address.  He got right back to me by phone, immediately. 

The Auditor told me that I was correct.  The mishap occurred within the manual that was supplied by the Iowa Secretary of State, Paul Pate.  He also assured me that it would be corrected by the next election, the Iowa Primary in June, 2020.

I brought this up at a neighborhood holiday social this month and received a defensive remark by a person who worked the polls on the special mayoral election.  He justified his position by using the example of college students who move frequently and don’t have a current address on their driver’s license.  So, I asked him: “Did you question everyone’s knowledge of where they lived?”  “No,” he said.  “So, what made you ask some but not all?”  I don’t think I received an answer.

Immediately, I was jokingly criticized for harassing volunteers.  First of all, these poll workers are not volunteers; they are paid for their work at the polls.  Second, poll workers represent the government, and the only way to get the attention of an elected official (the Secretary of State) on a constitutional matter is to begin at the bottom.

I asked my neighbor if he was instructed to test some people because the manual suggested it.  “Yes,” he replied.  I knew because Auditor Fitzgerald told me so the night of the election when he called me.  Evidently, the manual is provided by the Secretary of State, and the County Auditor did not have time to correct the misstep in the manual before all poll workers were trained. 

Iowa Code section 49.78 begins with a statement that says: “To ensure the integrity of, and to instill public confidence in, all elections in this state the general assembly finds that the verification of a voter’s identity is necessary before a voter is permitted to receive and cast a ballot.”  The subsequent subsection spells out how that verification process is to occur.

  2.  a.  Before a precinct election official furnishes a ballot to a voter under section 49.77, the voter shall establish the voter’s identity by presenting the official with one of the following forms of identification for verification:

  (1)  An Iowa driver’s license issued pursuant to section 321.189.

  (2)  An Iowa nonoperator’s identification card issued pursuant to section 321.190.

  (3)  A United States passport.

  (4)  A United States military or veterans identification card.

  (5)  A current, valid tribal identification card or other tribal enrollment document issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe or nation, which includes a photograph, signature, and valid expiration date.

  b.  Upon being presented with a form of identification under this section, the precinct election official shall examine the identification. The precinct election official shall use the information on the identification card, including the signature, to determine whether the person offering to vote appears to be the person depicted on the identification card. The voter’s signature shall generally be presumed to be valid. If the identification provided does not appear to be the person offering to vote under section 49.77, the precinct election official shall challenge the person offering to vote in the same manner provided for other challenges by sections 49.79 and 49.80.

According to the law (above), the only method of identifying oneself is “by presenting the official with one of the following forms of identification for verification,” and the precinct election official may question the voter only “if the identification provided does not appear to be the person offering to vote.”  The rules established by the Secretary of State go one step further. 

21.3(6) Determination of identity and residency.  Proof of identity and residence of persons offering to vote is presumed valid unless the precinct election official determines the proof offered does not match the voter. In determining whether a person offering to vote is eligible under Iowa Code section 48A.7A and Iowa Code chapter49, precinct election officials shall consider all of the information presented by the person offering to vote prior to determining that the person is not eligible. The following are factors that shall be considered by precinct election officials in making the determination:

a. Changes to the voter’s physical appearance or signature,

b. Time elapsed since the proof was generated, subject to the Iowa Code sections that govern the validity and expiration time lines of the proof,

c. Other documentation allowable under Iowa Code chapter 48A to prove the facts in question.

Back to the beginning.  Why was I asked to verbally verify my address?  Did some physical appearance of me standing before her not match the photo or information provided on my driver’s license?  Maybe I gained 10 pounds.  Is it the haircut?  It can’t be the signature since I have yet to sign anything.

If it’s none of the above, it must be a challenge.  What else could it be?  And why would I be challenged?  A challenged voter must fill out a provisional ballot.

The County Auditor told me that some people purposefully submit a provisional ballot when they vote.  It does nothing more than to make more work for the auditor and staff.  I didn’t want to do that.  However, the process I experienced was identical to what occurs if you are challenged as a voter.

My experience was degrading and unnecessary.  It was designed to intimidate, humiliate, and discourage those who may be voting for the first time, or like me, for the umpteenth time.  My vote “is presumed valid”.  The burden is not on me, but on the government.

Voting is a fundamental right.  It requires the strictest scrutiny by a court of equity.  Questioning the validity of some, but not all, becomes a constitutional issue.  It’s profiling.  It’s uncalled for and it is not the law.

I may have been criticized by my neighbors, but we can’t let one constitutional right become watered-down because there might be a good reason behind it.  The best reason behind questioning some government practices is the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of Iowa.  “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.”  I’m doing my best to make sure a bad instruction in a manual becomes the focus of conversation in order to correct the possible constitutional violation.

Chicago’s late Mayor Daley and his “Democratic Machine” are no longer something that can happen today.  Voter fraud is rare, and is usually mistaken for voter misunderstanding.  You can’t just go out to the cemetery to register voters.  They must have a Social Security Number.  They must have a legitimate address.  All the information available to auditors and the Secretary of State, the state’s election commissioner, are basically fool-proof. 

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Back to the Jungle

Less Regulation, Faster Line Speeds Could Compromise Pork Safety

Posted on October 28, 2019 by Trish Nelson

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter.  The PP is  funded entirely by reader subscription,  available only in hard copy for $12/yr.  Send check to PP, Box 1945, Iowa City 52244.

Back to the Jungle 

by Marty Ryan

I will pay you $10.50 an hour to just stand outside by the parking meter for two and one-half hours. You don’t need to do a thing, or you may do anything you like, just as long as you don’t move one foot from the meter in any direction.” That was an offer I made to a farmer in the mid-1980s when we were on strike.

Farmland Foods in Denison, Iowa is a pork slaughter and processing plant. The wages were good when I worked there in the 1970s and early 1980s; I went from making $3.14 per hour in 1973 to making $10.50 an hour in the mid ‘80s. Before going on strike, we were not asking for a wage increase, we proposed a reasonable offer of keeping what we had. The company offered concessionary wages amounting to approximately three-quarters of what we were making. There were other demands by the company: cuts to our pension; increases in premiums for health insurance; and several proposals that did nothing more than pit employees in one department against employees of another.

The farmer did not take me up on my offer, he just crawled into his new Ford F-150 pickup with all the new bells and whistles available at the time and drove away. He had told me that no one was worthy of making over $10 per hour. Of course, I was making the point that it is not easy standing in the same place for 8 hours a day, getting a twelve-minute break after two and one-half hours, and a half-hour break after five hours.

This memory was triggered when I read a business news article last month about how the pork production industry was elated that a federal rule ended the limit on line speed. When I left the packing plant for greener acres in 1990, the line speed
was right around 1,000 head of hogs per hour. That’s over 16 hogs per minute – a breakneck speed as it is. Imagine performing the same task over and over and over again without a break for two and one half hours, only to get 12 minutes to use the restroom, and be back on the line again before that first hog after the break is in front of you (that 12 minutes includes removing safety equipment, removing aprons, rinsing off knives and washing hands). Try it at your desk, or at the kitchen table, or in the garden, or anywhere else where it’s possible to repeat something for a few hours. You barely have enough time to wipe the moisture off your forehead, much less keep your knife sharp.

As a union representative, I witnessed numerous repetitive motion injuries. These injuries were not limited to carpal tunnel syndrome, but included tendonitis, bursitis, shoulder injuries, back pain, and other maladies associated with doing something over and over and over again. In Iowa, you must report these injuries to the company nurse, who sends you to the company doctor, who diagnoses you with a sore arm and sends you back to work with a note that you are to be assigned “light duty” for a period of two weeks. Many of those socalled “light duty” tasks are just as damaging as the one that gave you the pain in the first place. A worker will often acquiesce and return to the job from which the employee complained of pain. That’s the company’s goal.

Now, the sky’s the limit on line speeds. The incentive to hold down line speed over the years has been meat inspection. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) meat inspectors, union men and women who are employed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), who work aside company employees, ensure that the pork you eat is safe and clean. The only way meat inspectors can be sure that you’re getting disease-free wholesome pork is to examine each individual liver, lung, heart, and other internal and external organs and parts. The training manual is 58 pages. This is a separate matter that will be examined in the next Prairie Progressive.

The New Swine Inspection System, which went into effect on October 1st, allows pork slaughterhouses to have its own employees examine the offal and carcasses, thereby cutting out valuable independent inspectors. This process will create and encourage short cuts. Company supervisors are not as concerned about the safe supply and cleanliness of a final product as much as being concerned about a line not stopping.

One purpose of this new system is to cut down on the number of hours it takes to slaughter a certain number of hogs. Prior to the inception of this rule, a facility with a cooler capable of holding 10,000 carcasses would have to schedule 10 hours of work in order to fill the cooler. Now, with an unlimited rate, the cooler may fill up as soon as 10,000 hogs are slaughtered, probably in fewer than eight hours, thereby eliminating overtime costs.

In 113 years since Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle,” the only thing that has changed is the country of the immigrants working in slaughterhouses. — Marty Ryan is a native Iowan

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Irritations

As I get older, I notice that I am becoming one of those old people that I despised as a young boy.  There are several things that piss me off, and I think I should jot them down.  You may be able to empathize.

Drivers

Certain drivers drive me crazy.  Okay, maybe all drivers drive me crazy.  Why am I the only decent automobile driver out there? 

The driver that pisses me off more than others is the guy who speeds up in the inner lane to pass me, cuts over to my lane, and slows to a complete stop before making a right turn.  That goes for the guy that makes a left turn when he passed me in the right lane.

In second place is the person who is in front of me at a stop light.  The light turns green and they sit there.  They may be reading a text or email, or just day dreaming.  Honking is almost a self-irritant (I don’t like honking horns, either – especially the Honk, Honk, Honk of a car that is being stolen – never).  The minute the person in front of you takes off, the propulsion is that of a rocket.  You never see them again, until you get to the next stop light. 

Third place is the tailgater who finally speeds around you, fingering you as he goes by, and two miles up the road he’s next to you at the same stoplight.  I have been taught not to taunt.  He could have a gun. 

This category could be pages, so I have decided to make it part of a series.

Shopping

“Did you find everything you need?”  I often say “no” whether I did or not.  The answer is always an amazing.  “Oh!”  As the clerk continues to scan items.  Many retailers have taught the clerk what to ask, but never gave the minimum wage earner a lesson on what to do if someone answers anything but “yes”. 

An occasional bright clerk may call the manager over, or direct you to the courtesy counter.  When you discover that – yes, they are out of that product – the conditioned reply is: “We’ll have it in the morning.”  The next time I get that answer I’m going to have them deliver it to me.  I don’t feel like I have to return to the same store in the morning, spending about a dollar in gas, when I might save 20 cents on the out-of-stock item.  Better yet, I think I’ll tell the manager that I’ll just stop at the competitor’s store down the street and pick it up there.

Grocery stores hire many high school students.  Those students have been taught to converse with the customer.  My desire is for the student-clerk to pay attention to what they are doing.  “That tomato juice is on sale for 79¢.”  “Oh”, she says.  “Is it in the ad?”  I think employees should be required to read the advertisements before their shift starts (and get paid for it) each week the store begins a new week of discounts.  At the least, people working in a department, like meats or produce, should have a comprehensive idea of what is on sale in their respective departments during a given week. 

“Do you have big plans for the weekend?”  That question from a teenager was suggested by management to keep up a conversation with the customer.  One of these days I want to respond with: “Well, that depends.  What are you doing on Saturday night?”  I would probably get arrested.

Television Commercials with old songs

It began with a pickup commercial years ago in which Chevy used Bob Segar’s ‘Like a Rock’.  I once liked that song.  Chevy drove it into my brain so much I now despise it.  Applebee’s is using a popular song now.  And Ford is attempting to ruin every Queen song I’ve ever loved – which was all of them.

Lectures with a Q & A

I don’t attend many lectures anymore, and maybe it’s because I get irritated at people who stand up during the Q & A at the end and give a 6-minute description of something that happened in their life to relate to the lecturer’s subject (even though it’s a stretch to make the comparison).  It usually ends by having the lecturer asking if the person standing has a question.  It’s bad enough when the commenter says ‘no’ and sits down or wraps it up.  It’s a 10 on the Pain Scale when the person stumbles over trying to come up with a question.

Overturning the Tables at the Temple

Store managers that allow nonprofit groups to solicit outside the store’s doors should be fired.  I don’t appreciate being greeted by a mob of Girl Scouts asking if I want to buy overpriced cookies.  I lie and tell them that I buy them from my daughter.  So what if my daughter is 40-years-old.  The scouts’ moms are reaching that age.  And aren’t they the cookie pushers with the idea to hassle store customers going in and coming out of the store? 

The Knights of Columbus want to give me a Tootsie Roll.  Yeah!  “Here, have a 5 oz. roll of guilt.  It’s free!”  Sure, it is.  If you happen to be Roman Catholic that guilt of turning it down and not contributing will last through your death bed and into the first 4 days of purgatory. 

You may like eating the free nibbles at COSTCO and in the grocery stores, but I stay away.  It’s not that I reject free food, it’s the problem of cluttering up the aisle while pretending to think the tiny sample is the greatest thing since sliced bread, even though the sampler doesn’t buy the product. I hate to be one of those aisle cloggers.  I have to get ahead of you in the check out.

What do you like, Marty?

I like kids.  They can make you laugh more than most comedians.

We live next to a licensed day care center.  The facility has about 50 kids, from infants to 12-year-olds.  If you can remember watching the Art Linkletter show back in the 60s, you can relate to what I get almost every day.

Stephanie and I watched a dog overnight for a friend a few weeks ago.  Four or five children came running up to the fence.  “What’s its name?”  They were all asking.  “Zoe,” I said, and kept on walking.  All of the children in the group began yelling, “Bye, doggie!!”

Even though the children can keep me laughing, they can also keep me humble.  One of the teachers suggested the kids say “Hi” to the neighbor.  “Hi, old man!”

Crap.  I’ve become that old man I never wanted to be.

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A Pattern Begins to Develop

Prior to graduation from basic training, orders came down from above. Before we were provided with individual orders, a permanent clerk in the company read from a list the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and next base assignment for each of us gathered in the yard.  No one wanted to be an eleven bravo (11B), which meant infantry.  We all knew what that number meant.  About one-third of the platoon was assigned an eleven bravo MOS and sent to Advanced Infantry Training across the base.  Those soldiers were to report immediately upon graduation.  (See FYI below.)

I was one of the fortunate ones.  I was assigned an MOS of ninety-four Charlie (94C) and sent to Fort Lee, Virginia.  I had no idea what a 94C meant until the list came around to me.  94C meant meat cutter.  It’s on my DD214 (a discharge form).  The Army has since rearranged the MOS list and meat cutter is no longer included – neither is cook.  Today, it is Food Service Specialist – 92G.  And, of course, food specialists are mostly civilians.  I was scheduled to have a 30-day leave and report to Fort Lee, VA on the 31st day.

For some strange reason, I kept getting up early while on leave and continued running early every morning.  I drank some beers and did other wild things, but for the most part, I seemed to be conditioned to continue my regimen of being healthy.

I flew into Richmond, VA, on the date appointed.  I took a limousine ride to Fort Lee, about 30 miles south.  I checked in with 1st FASCOM Headquarters and Headquarters Company (after all these years I remember this outfit, but not necessarily the outfit in which I spent most of my time.)  The military is full of acronyms.  FASCOM stands for Field Army Support Command.  Our shoulder patch was nicknamed “The Leaning Shithouse.” 

1st SUPCOM patch

I have no idea how someone could design this emblem, or even approve it, without realizing that it looks like a yearly Halloween prank.

The clerk I first spoke with thought I was a joke.  “Really!?”  He said: “We don’t have meat cutters on his base.”  I think he told me that the Army hadn’t had meat cutters since World War II, or something like that.  He gave me a pillow, an assigned bunk, sheets and a blanket and led me to a ward for incoming and outgoing soldiers – it was a temporary holding ward.

I ate in the mess hall 3 times a day, showered in the men’s room daily (latrines are only in the Navy and Marines), and attended roll call each morning, followed by police call (that’s what it’s called – you pick up trash and cigarette butts).  No one noticed I was the only soldier in the holding ward for longer than 3 days.  As a matter-of-fact, I was in that ward for 6 weeks. 

One day, an old sergeant (probably 40 years-old, but looked 70) who was assigned to the temporary bay, asked if I wanted to go for a ride.  Why not?  He drove out to the country.  He wanted to see a tobacco field.  So did I.  He walked up to a fence and picked a tobacco plant.  I didn’t say anything, but I thought to myself: ‘Is this guy crazy?  We’re in the South.  He could get shot trespassing like that.’  I don’t remember what he did with it.  I enjoyed seeing drying barns.  I’ve seen photos of tobacco drying barns, but up close was a real treat for me.

I spent most of the time walking up to the PX and buying a Harold Robbins book.  [By the way, this past spring, at a Planned Parenthood Book Sale, I purchased a used Harold Robbins book that I hadn’t seen before.  The copyright was 1976.  It wasn’t available for those years I spent in the Army.  I was discharged 5 years earlier.]  Robbins’ books were thick paperbacks and took longer to read than some of the other offerings.  I would find a nice place to sit and read.  It was August-September, and the weather was pretty good for Virginia, even though hurricanes often travel up the east coast during the latter part of the period.  I avoided the temporary ward.  However, I would occasionally read some of the book on my bunk.  It wasn’t like anyone paid attention to who was there and who wasn’t.  This would become a pattern in my military career.  I was often placed in the backroom.  I have heard, “go hide” more than once.

Staying away from soldiers who looked like officers was a challenge.  I didn’t like saluting.  Walking down a sidewalk one day I saw a soldier coming toward me.  As sloppy as he looked, I assumed he was an enlisted man.  Nope, a lieutenant.  He chewed my ass out for not saluting him.  I believe that most officers avoid saluting whenever possible.  This guy was arrogant.  I have heard more than once that the most dangerous thing in Vietnam was a lieutenant with a map.  To this day I cringe when someone calls me sir.  “Sir” is an address of respect.  There weren’t that many officers that deserved my respect.  More on that in later blogs.

Finally, someone found me.  I had orders to report to a different company and they were going to make me a cook.  I think the company was 260th Quartermaster Battalion.  It could have been the 180th for all I can remember.  Cooks don’t fall out.  That was a plus.  No more getting up early in the morning, unless I was on the morning shift.  I can’t remember cooking anything.  I did make some salads – Jell-O and lettuce wedges.  We had two staff sergeants – one on each shift – that were chefs in the citizen life.  One was from Baltimore, the other from Boston.  They cooked just about everything.  And it was great!

Ramon Ortiz was from Texas, and Julio Ortiz was from Puerto Rico.  They were not related.  Both spoke Spanish, but the dialect was so different that neither could communicate well in their native language of Spanish.  The three of us showed up in the mess hall about the same time.  Ramon and I became pretty good friends for a few months.  Although he was married, he set out to Petersburg every weekend and came back to tell me about the women with whom he had sex.  He was a good-looking Hispanic with oil-black hair combed neatly from front to back, a natural brown hue that looked like a great suntan, straight pearly-white teeth, and piercing dark eyes.  I don’t doubt many women were interested in him.  There were many women to be had in town if you weren’t picky.  I was.  Ramon and I did not hang together on weekends, unless we were working.  I did not like going to Petersburg.

The cooks who were not NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) share a large room.  There may have been about 6-8 of us.  In the beginning, most of us were Privates and Privates-first-class.  Later, most of us were Specialists 4th Class.  I no longer remember many names other than the two Ortiz’s, but one guy from North Carolina went home every other weekend to his wife and child.  He came back one Sunday night and told this story.

He got off the bus from North Carolina at the Petersburg Bus Station and was waiting for the bus that went to Fort Lee.  He ordered a hamburger and sat down in a booth to eat it.  A woman came to the booth and sat down opposite him.  She asked him if he wanted to buy some pussy.  He asked “how much” it would cost.  She said five dollars.  His immediate response was: “What’s wrong with it?”  She got up and left.  He wasn’t going to have sex with her, and he wasn’t trying to be a smart ass.  It was just his demeanor and the manner in which he carried on conversations.  A real Southern boy.  His time was up and he was honorably discharged not too long after I met him.

Within a month or so of finding my new home in the mess hall, the Quartermaster Company was moving out of the building it had been in for quite some time, and began operation on the 3rd floor of a modern barracks a few blocks away.  The mess hall was on the ground floor.  The new location would be my permanent home for the next 15-16 months in the Army.  It’s also where most of the comical and unbelievable things happened to me and around me.

I’ll continue in between some serious blogs and other amusement.

FYI:  Years later, I would travel to Washington, DC and visit the Vietnam Memorial.  I had a list of the people with whom I served in basic training.  Not one name was on The Wall.

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