NEXT! A CHORUS LINE AUDITION

July 19th, 2015

I rushed to the audition. It was for a big show of A Chorus Line in Los Angeles. I was 23 and looked 15.

Rumor had it, if you couldn’t do a double pirouette and a time step, don’t show up. I hadn’t done a double pirouette, or a controlled one, of those in years. So I kept practicing, making myself dizzy.

STEP, KICK, KICK, LEAP, KICK, TOUCH….AGAIN!

STEP, KICK, KICK, LEAP, KICK, TOUCH    That connects with…

STEP, KICK, KICK, LEAP, KICK, TOUCH    TURN, TURN, OUT, IN, JUMP, STEP
STEP, KICK, KICK, LEAP, KICK, TOUCH     STEP, KICK, KICK, LEAP, KICK, TOUCH
TURN, TURN, OUT, IN, JUMP, STEP        Got it?… Going on. And…
TURN, TURN, TOUCH, DOWN, BACK, STEP,
PIVOT, STEP, WALK, WALK, WALK.

Time step was no problem. I love tap dancing and style.

RIGHT! LET’S DO THE WHOLE COMBINATION,
FACING AWAY FROM THE MIRROR.
FROM THE TOP. A-FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT!

“God, I hope I get it.
I hope I get it.
How many people does he need?”

Many had already gone through the audition. It was the turn of next group of ten, including me, number 4.

The first person.  ONE

They asked her to step forward.

She did. SINGULAR SENSATION

They asked her name.

Carol Megan

Please do a time step. EVERY LITTLE STEP SHE TAKES

She did.

Pirouette.  OOPS

She kinda did.

Please step back.

She did.

The second person same routine

They asked her to step forward.  ONE

She did.

They asked her name. THRILLING COMBINATION

She told them.

Please do a time step.  EVERY MOVE

She did. Sorta    OOPS

Pirouette.           THAT

She kinda did.     OOPS

Please step back.   SHE MAKES

She did.

The third person’s turn.               ONE

They asked her to step forward.

She did.

They asked her name.   SMILE

She told them.       AND SUDDENLY

Please do a time step.   NOBODY ELSE

She did.                                WILL DO

Pirouette.                             OOPS

She kinda did.                       YOU KNOW YOU’LL

Please step back.                NEVER BE LONELY

She did.                                    WITH YOU KNOW WHO

MY TURN! Yikes.  I was ready though – I had the pirouette down….SHE WALKS INTO A ROOM ,

Please step forward.                  AND YOU KNOW HER MADDENING POISE

I did.                                     EFFORTLESS WHIRL

Please state your name.      OH STRUT YOUR STUFF, CAN’T GET ENOUGH!

Victoria D’Angelo                   OOH! SIGH! GIVE HER YOUR ATTENTION DO I HAVE TO                                                                              MENTION

Please step back.                  SHEEEEE’S THHHHHE OOOOONNNNNE…….Oops. Not.

Confused, and stunned….I did think; should I have come up with a better stage name? Carol Lombard? No. Maggie Smith? Gale Storm? Should I ask to try again?

After the 10th person, they asked us to exit stage left. I think they named everyone in my line but me to stay for the second round.

I left. Still stunned.  Now singing:

“God, I really blew it!
I really blew it!
How could I do a thing like that?

How could I do a thing like…

Now I’ll never make it!
I’ll never make it!
He doesn’t like the way I look.
He doesn’t like the way I dance.
He doesn’t like the way I…

I drove back to watch the auditions to see if I could learn something.

Those that remained were following the dance steps. As I watched, I realized that I was shorter than all of them by at least 3 inches.

Not much I could do about that.

Today, if they had asked me to step back, I probably would have asked Why?

As I think about it, I didn’t walk or step forward like a ballerina either….my toes are generally straight when I walk.

Then again….maybe it was the name.   :-)

c. GCYI

Yeager! Can’t you do anything right?

May 5th, 2015

After returning from being shot down, to return to combat, I had to go all the way up the chain of command until I found myself before General Eisenhower,

The problem was if I was shot down again, the Germans might find me, torture me, and get information re the Maquis and French Underground.

General Eisenhower told me to go back to my base and await orders before I could get back on combat duty.

So I spent some time training some new guys in the P-51. I now had a D model – Glamorous Glen III since Glamorus Glen II had been shot down.

P-51 Ds in Formation

P-51 Ds in Formation

 

One time, we got a call from the CO: Are your guns hot?

Me: Yes.

CO: Go to the North Sea – there’s a bomber crew that’s been shot down, floating in a dinghy. Keep ‘em safe until we can pick ‘em up.

So off we went – glad to have a real mission.

I saw a JU-88 sneaking up from the Coast of Helgeland. I headed straight for him. He saw me and turned around. I followed and shot him down just as he was entering Helgeland.

When we got back, I told my CO and his response was:

“Yeager! Can’t you do anything right?”

Our Friend Bill

April 13th, 2015

Our Friend Bill

I don’t remember the first time we actually met. He was our neighbor.

We had certainly spoken by September 2003 because his wife called and apologized that she hadn’t gotten Chuck and me a wedding present. I laughed, thanked her and said, “We eloped. It’s not required.”

The next time Bill came on our radar screen was in 2004 when we had a fundraiser for the F-104 monument. I was wandering around the reception and came upon him sitting by himself. His wife was not there. We chatted a little and I moved on to other guests.

They just were respectful of Chuck’s privacy and a bit shy I think – which was very kind.

A few months later, at the Nevada County Fair, Chuck and I had gotten some veggie tempura and were looking for some empty spots at the picnic tables to sit. I spied several open seats and asked the people if those seats were taken. I then focused and it was Bill and his wife. “Oh! HI! How are you?”

We sat, chatted, and ate. Bill’s wife said: “We’re fixing our culvert and are pulling out your trees. We know they’re yours as they have the blue mark.” (We had done a program to remove excess trees that were fire hazards).

My immediate response was: “Oh, I’m sorry. What do we owe you?”

She was speechless. Bill said, “Nothing. It wasn’t the trees.” They could not believe that I took responsibility. I guess especially since, we learned later, that our other mutual neighbor did not. Paul refused to pay his share. In the end, after a lawsuit, instead of 1/4th, he was ordered to pay half but not ordered to pay Bill’s legal bills.

As we got to know Bill, he very kindly would check on our place when we left town and feed our cat. We loaned him our ATV to do it which he enjoyed. It became a friendly joke. He was Chuck Yeager’s cat feeder.

When Paul was moving, we made it clear that any new owner could not use the corner of our property which Paul had paved over. We called the broker and made it clear. Paul contacted us to smooth things over. We said we’d do a land swap – he could have that area if he gave us another area of our contiguous properties. He refused and said he had rights to use our property. His broker clued him in.

Paul then tried to seduce us. Let’s all be good neighbors. We said sure, we might give permission revocable at any time. First, reimburse Bill for his legal expenses.

Never heard from Paul again.

Somehow Bill and his wife found out. They were again stunned but less so – they were getting to know us.

After I got my pilot’s license, the first passenger I took was Bill. He’s a calm guy, a retired airline pilot and had flown small aircraft. He felt confident he could land the plane if I had a problem.

Chuck flew Bill’s cousin and Bill flew with me as I flew on Chuck’s wing. We stopped at an airport an hour away for lunch. Then we flew to Oroville, visited with a friend. Chuck took off first and I had to speed up to catch up. Then of course slow down before I passed him so I could fly his wing. So I called out whooa! where are the brakes????

I liked flying with Bill. He never screamed.

When we got back safely, my landing was a bit of a clunker but not bad. I apologized to Bill and said I could do better. He very graciously said: “I thought it was a good landing.” I told him he could fly with me any time!

A story Bill used to tell was: he was driving with Chuck in the right seat on our way to dinner. Chuck turned to Bill and told him that the speed limit was 55 mph. Bill said, “Of all people, I would not have thought you’d ever say someone was going too fast!”

We met his grandkids and son and daughter-in-law. It was fun.

Bill and his wife had become Jehovah’s Witnesses in their 30’s. So his wife would answer my questions. They had been Methodists but found that group too hypocritical.

One year I gave them some Christmas goodies. Bill’s wife reminded me that they don’t celebrate Christmas. I noticed she had Christmas cards. She said I can’t stop people from sending them. So I had an “aha” moment: “I know why you don’t.” She was surprised: “Why?” Me: “So you can receive presents but don’t have to give any.”

It took her a little bit to see the humor.

Bill also would let us know when he and his blue machine were going to the trash dump. He’d pick up our trash and stuff it in. He hoped the truck would make it. And, as importantly, make it back!

We invited Bill and his wife to Chuck’s big birthday celebrations but JW’s don’t celebrate birthdays or military. Bill would break ranks sometimes to join us.

When we needed a landing spot for a helicopter picking us up to go to a charity event, Bill let the pilot land on his property – ours did not have a safe approach. I told him it was mainly in case we all needed to be evacuated. As we took off, I thought, I wish there was a seat for him – he loves to fly.

Later he told us they got many calls asking who was being arrested – the helicopter was a sheriff’s helicopter.

When she got cancer, it was the same time as Chuck’s 1st wife’s cousin once removed’s wife got breast cancer. Roberta, the cousin by marriage, had the greatest attitude regarding the invasion of cancer. She truly believed her faith and had a great sense of humor. Bill’s wife got depressed and frightened. Roberta lifted her spirits greatly.

I got both of them laughing dogs. You can’t help but laugh when you turn these on. It was interesting: Roberta died. Bill’s wife survived. (Which shows that attitude does not necessarily impact survival)

Occasionally we would go to breakfast together. And often we would have neighborhood dinners – we’d go to a restaurant that would cook our elk and everyone would chip in for the expenses. Easier than inviting people to your house and they reciprocate and…

We’d stop by now and again and knock on their door bringing them elk or salmon or lugs of fruit or a book or just us. They’d invite us in if they were home. We tried to time it for dinner – Bill’s wife is a good cook.

She and I would engage in philosophical discussions.

It was so nice and so relaxed. Both had a great sense of humor. And they laughed at my jokes.  He was a young 75 year old.

Then Bill got liver cancer. He did very well for several years with the radiation inserts. We’d kid about not hanging out with him when he was glowing. Seriously he was not supposed to be around people for the first 1-2 weeks. He’d be tired during those weeks.

Two years ago, against my protestations, they put their house on the market. I told them I was going to put up signs saying we’re bad neighbors so no one would buy.  We told them to move into our guesthouse. They did not but moved into a friend’s guesthouse. The friend kicked them out for remodel a few months later. They moved to another rental. Then they finally bought a small property.

He was still a young 78 year old.

Then a year and a half ago, the doctor made a mistake. First he urged another go-round a bit early. Then the doctor put the pellet in the wrong place. The radiation caused other organs to collapse.

Bill eventually felt well enough to go out to breakfast with us. We always penciled it in to be confirmed if we all showed up. We always did.  That first time though, what a difference. Bill reminded me of how older people looked when I was 7 – gaunt, their teeth are too big for the face, old. What a difference. He suffered from various issues due to the destruction of his organs.  They were coming back but…

Bill battled the destruction for a year and a half. We’d have breakfast every month or two. He had become, in a year and a half, an old 80 year old. As usual, I had hopes he’d make a full recovery and become a young 80 year old. I’d tell his wife what homeopathic stuff worked for me with the disclaimer that I was not a professional.

Every morning we were home though, Chuck would ask me: “Do you think Bill died?”

Except for one time, each time we saw Bill, he’d look a little worse. And would speak a little more slowly. I did my best to ignore what I could see and to give a normal face.

Swinging on the porch, I’d reply to Chuck, “No, I just called – we’re going to breakfast tomorrow if all feel like it.” I felt like we were slowly saying goodbye.

Or over the month, I’d reply, “No, I’m sure we’d have heard.”

Sure enough.  Bill’s wife called us two weeks ago and left a message: “Bill died last night after five days in hospital and then 5 days at home with hospice.”

I called her and we chatted. We laughed. We cried.

She left a message when the funeral was. We tried to go but just couldn’t make it. Chuck has been to too many funerals and won’t go to any more. I was curious – I’ve never been to a JW Hall. New experience and could meet his brother and her sister. Bill’s wife been trying to introduce me to the Hall and would invite me to go when Chuck was on boy trips. I just never did – I was afraid I’d be hit by lightning as an interloper. Just kidding. Or trapped.

On Sunday, I left a message saying we could bring some pizza for her and her family.

I called her today and said I’d stop by after all the guests had left in a week or two.  She understood re not attending the funeral.

Someone once clued me in – it’s nice to show up for the funeral. But even greater to stay in touch after all the supporters are gone, back home and the widow is alone. Really alone. She said she’d appreciate it very much.

I miss Bill. I miss them as neighbors and the ease of just walking up the hill or taking the ATV and just stopping by to visit. Only once did they ask me to do something for them: make sure the automatic watering system came on when they were traveling. I made sure I got it done. Thank goodness it was working – not sure what I would have done if it wasn’t.

Like Chuck, Bill always had a clever, different take on life that had me laughing and lifted my spirits when I needed it.

God bless you, Bill. And thank you!

 

 

 

Chuck Yeager Chimp Story

March 20th, 2015

It was pretty funny. They used to do testing on chimpanzees at Edwards AFB before the astronauts.

They were testing G’s and braking.

They’d give the chimp a banana to entice them to get on a sled.

Then they sent the sled down the tracks very very fast. Then it would come to a sudden stop.

The chimp’s arms and legs would fly out, they’d lose the banana and basically freak out.

The next time those guys went in to the room where the chimps were kept, the chimps would throw…ahem….everything including excrement at them…

The tracks are still there.

c. GCYI

 

Chuck Yeager – ism

February 9th, 2015

Most pilots learn, when they pin on their wings and go out and get in a fighter, especially, that one thing you don’t do, you don’t believe anything anybody tells you about an airplane.

Chuck Yeager

Chuck Yeager – ism

February 8th, 2015

What good does it do to be afraid? It doesn’t help anything. You better try and figure out what’s happening and correct it.

Chuck Yeager

July 4th as a Kid – Chuck Yeager

January 11th, 2015

July 4th the town of Hamlin, WV would have a fair. My whole family would go together.

I remember the greasy pole. They’d grease up a pole and see who could climb the highest. Only boys allowed to try.

We’d all bring picnics. And since Mom was a good cook, we made out well.

Great clean fun.

No liquor allowed.

c. GCYI

WWII: March 5, 1944 -Unteroffizier Irmfred Klotz Shot me Down – Chuck Yeager

January 11th, 2015
The generally accepted research shows that 22 year old Unteroffizier Irmfred Klotz flying a Focke Wulf 190 shot my airplane down on March 5, 1944. I was 21, thinking I was Sierra Hotel just the day before, now this guy is thinking he’s Sierra Hotel. The day after I shot down his first two enemy aircraft, although I only got credit for one even though I had wingman confirmation for both.
We were flying to Bordeaux to bomb the port there. The weather was stinkin’ so we turned inland for targets of opportunity. We had just turned. I was tail end Charlie. Obie O’Brien was flight leader. We used to tease him that he couldn’t see two feet in front of his plane.
And true to form, I checked six (often) and saw the Focke Wulfs first. I called a break and now I was the lead. I did a head on pass with three of them but Klotz got the credit.
Me and my airplane parted company. Victoria, after her first time sitting in the P-51 cockpit and having a heck of a time getting out, asked me how I was able to get out of that cockpit to escape. I told her I didn’t have to, it was falling apart in pieces around me.
At the US National Archives I saw William “Obee” O’Brien’s encounter report taking credit for shooting down Klotz’s Focke Wulf 190. According to the 357th historian, Merle Ohmsted, this was confirmed in a letter to Obie O’Brien in 1996 by a gentleman from Europe. Unfortunately, research has not yet produced confirmation of this in a German-language document.
Obie said it looked like Klotz was making a second pass to kill me in my parachute, so Obie shot him down. His parachute failed to open. And I got to float down to the French woods.
Ain’t a German in the world can catch a West Virginian in the woods.
After being shot down by Obie, Klotz bailed out but was killed when his parachute failed to open. His Focke Wulf crashed near the site where I landed in France.
Victoria and I visited the site in 2012; a beautiful field on a beautiful sunny day. All traces of the war: the pieces of the plane, have since disappeared.
Nearby, is the home of a man, who as a young man, played soccer and fished with me to while away the hours till I could be moved. His parents risked their necks to help many young men and women especially after their older son, in the French Underground, never returned.
A very brave lot, the French Underground and the Maquis.
c. GCYI

Matchmaker Yeager – 1957

January 6th, 2015

Got a letter this Christmas from a woman born in England. It read:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. “In April 1957, Airman 1st Class was standing on duty on a flight line in Toul-Rosieres, France, when you (General Yeager) flew in. A1C stopped you as he you walked by. You so kindly listened to him as he told you his problem.

“A1C submitted paper work to marry on English girl, in November 1956. It was turned down.

“You told A1C to meet you in your office the next morning.

“Thank you, you gave your permission for us to marry. I am the English girl, (now an American). We were married May 4, 1957 in England about 58 years ago.

“We have 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and our 10th great-grandchild will be born March 2015.

“So from us all, we say, “Thank you, Sir!”

“Without your help, it may never have been.”

Wonder if they named any of their brood Charles or Yeager? :-)

c. GCYI

 

High Sierras with the General – 1st time a Woman got to go

December 18th, 2014

Tuesday. Shopping from list for Chuck Yeager’s trip to the High Sierras fishing golden trout.

Wednesday: Two people cancel. General Yeager looks at me and says: Would you like to go?

YEEEEEEEES!

I ran out to buy boots. Yes, kinda silly – we’d be hiking miles and miles up and down mountains in four days. No time to break them in. Or to break me in.

The extent of my camping experience prior to this was the weekend before 8th grade, our first year in Upper School. Two nights. The headmistress or someone had the bright idea we should all go on an Outward Bound weekend. My group had the heaviest teacher there was and one of our tasks was to get the whole group over the wall. Even using all of the girls we could not lift him and none of us were going to have him walk on our backs so we told the guides: No. Otherwise I enjoyed it. The others wondered why my face wasn’t as dirty as theirs. I wondered how they got so dirty.

I tried every boot within a 50 mile radius. The best fitting ones were the cheapest. The tread wasn’t great but…

On Thursday, we packed our packs and sleeping bags and one overnight bag for Friday night – which we would spend in the local motel.

On Friday, we picked up GCY’s brother, Hal at the Reno airport and set out for Lone Pine, driving through some interesting, historic towns. Hal gave a running commentary.

I was the first gal GCY had brought into the Sierras on the annual “boy” trip. He had taken Glennis and the kids but this trip which always had the group returning on July 4, no girls.

Hal was curious as to how I’d work out.

We had a big dinner Friday night in Lone Pine with the hotel manager’s son, who was going to accompany us, and his parents and others.

A few others had come into town to walk with us up to the pass, have lunch, and return to town.

We started out. My pack was 35 lbs. CY, Hal, and M’s were around 50lbs or more.

As we walked, GCY gave me a few pointers. One guest a few years back had raced up the first day while GCY walked slowly. GCY passed the rabbit who was puking his guts out from the altitude change.

Every few switchbacks, GCY would ask me if I wanted a “blow”. That was my cue. I’d say: “Yes,” and stop.

He would sit on a rock. I found sitting down okay – it was the getting back up with the 35lb pack on my back that was challenging so I learned to just stand for my rest.

We’d sit for a minute or two, then move on. Some of the others went on ahead. We had two guys and a gal with us who were returning after lunch.

GCY likes to tell the story this way: I’d say to him: You look bad – let me take some of the stuff in your pack. I’d say this to him every time we stopped and by the time we got to the pass, my pack was weighing 55 lbs and his 35 lbs. I assure this is not true.

This go and blow happened several times as we gained 3000’ from 9000’ to 12,000’ in about 4 miles. My own pace is a little faster but my feet most likely had blisters – boy did they hurt. I decided that they hurt, but that there was nothing dangerous like infected blisters. I was afraid to take them off – afraid I’d never get them on again.

One of the 2 guys was a doctor and he advised not to take them off when I first felt a blister coming on even though I had moleskin. I had played enough field hockey in new shoes to know I better have a good supply. I don’t know why I thought he would know what he was talking about – he was a cardiologist, not a foot doctor.

When we got to the pass, what a relief. We sat down in the sun and ate our sandwiches – the last ones we would have for at least two weeks. Deeeelicious.

We bade our farewells, and four of us continued on. At a certain point when we were climbing again, I was in the rear of the group – I about fainted but sat down and regained my equilibrium. I was short on iron and oxygen for sure.

The rest seemed downhill. Eight miles. But downhill.

When we got to where we’d be camping, there was no rest for the weary. We started putting up our tents, gathering firewood, getting out food.

GCY asked me to help M with getting water by the stream. I had taken off my boots at last and as expected, just the thought of putting them back on was excruciating. M saw my feet, had brought slippers for himself, but handed them to me. Too big, it wasn’t safe to walk down to the stream in them – two many rocks, boulders, and barefoot was not an option – too many things to stick on one’s foot.

GCY saw my feet and was stunned. There were blisters on blisters, clearly painful. He was stunned because I had uttered nary a complaint or indication of this.

I meekly asked if it was all right if I stayed close to camp and continued gathering wood instead. This also surprised him as I was willing to work just not get hurt more.

Yes was the answer especially as M was in good shape and was willing and able to gather the water.

Supper, since we weren’t near any streams with golden trout, was ramedan soup as well as hot chocolate with marshmallows. I forewent the jerky – too tough for me and the hot chocolate – chocolate would keep me up all night no matter how tired I was. The altitude might be enough to overcome re trying to sleep.

Hal offered to use his share of the food from his pack. Sounded nice to me until CGY clued the new kid (me) in: He’s just trying to lighten his load. Say no.

GCY and I went to bed right after supper. We changed into our pajamas and huddled together to keep warm.

It was a beautiful night.

The next morning, we had oatmeal (and grits for Hal), coffee, tea and packed up after filling our canteens. I delayed putting on those boots as long as possible.

Yeowwwww-ch. That was what I was thinking but it didn’t get voiced.

We headed out. How beautiful. About half a mile later, the 2 guys who had hiked with us flew over. We flashed our mirror at them so they came closer, waggled their wings and headed west.

The High Sierras are such beautiful country. We came around a hill, across a meadow of blue ??? and red flowers. Very marshy in areas so we had to be careful not to get wet.

GCY gave us a couple of atta-boys to get over the next hill. Atta-boys are Werther’s butterscotch candy – you get one to encourage you to get over the hill or one after you have achieved it. Hal brought a similar candy too – but a chocolate version.

M and Hal got way ahead of us – we didn’t mind too much – they could set up camp. And if we didn’t arrive, they’d know how to backtrack to find us.

This day, it rained. So GCY set up the tarp under which we waited it out. We also built a fire to keep warm. Frigid rain.

When the rain lightened up, we took down the tarp and continued on. GCY is a great leader. Knowing I was exhausted, cold, a little wet, feet hurting, but not complaining; he starting talking about the new regulations – no fires about 11,000’. Most of the wood is below that so why have that regulation? Then he told me stories of when he brought Glennis and the kids up. One year there was so much snow around Rocky Basin lakes that the boys built a tunnel inside the snow to slide down from the top of the cliff to the lake.

We hiked on up to our next stop. I immediately took off my shoes and stood on a rock airing out the blisters.

We built a big fire. Viktor Belenko called it the B.S. fire because usually the guys would talk b.s. into the night around it.

So beautiful. I put my ouch boots ouch back on and climbed down to the stream to wash up a little and bring some up for tea, coffee and ramadan noodles

The next morning, we had oatmeal, coffee, tea, grits for Hal, got packed up and headed out.

As we crested the hill and were coming down the other side, we stopped for some almonds, raisins, and jerky. Lunch.

We continued about 10 minutes when GCY said: Its going to pour in 5 minutes.

His brother said, No, I think it will hold off. We should be at Fungsten (lake) in 3 hours.

GCY ignored him and started setting up the tarp. I helped him. I had no doubt GCY was right.

To the second, five minutes later, le deluge!

We got under our tarp nice and comfy.

Hal and M came running back. We shouted: “No room! No room!” but of course we let them under – it was a tight fit. There is a photo somewhere.

I kidded Hal: “You doubted your brother’s take on the weather?”

He just shook his head at himself: “You’d think I’d know better after all these years.”

After about 30 minutes, the rain subsided so we gathered the tarp and set out again.

We reached Fungston in the afternoon and the usual campsite area about 45 minutes later. We unpacked. We’d be here for at least a week.

Then we headed up to Fungsten to get dinner. A little easier climb without the pack.