Raiders v. Packers

October 13th, 2015

We were guests of the 49ers owners and relegated to the “kids” booth with “The Catch”. Adult kids. Fun times.  There were six of us.

Before the game started, we were given passes to stroll around the field. We stopped at one corner. A ball came our way – another fan pounced on it but couldn’t throw.

One of our friends is a Packers fan. I thought it would be impolitic for him to wear his cheesehead or even green. He agreed and complied but he did get excited when we strolled where the Packers were practicing. He tempered it and did so during the game as well.

After the team left to get ready and come out formally, I asked if we could go out and play touch football now? They thought I was funny. I was serious! Sorta. Just play for a few minutes.

Here are some photos of us with some of our friends:

Yeager.Mondavi.gang.49er game.DSC02459 (2)

Photo Oct 04, 12 55 15 PM


September 25th, 2015

The first time I met Pansy Lee, she took us to Charles, as she called her brother, and her hometown of Hamlin. She showed us Myra and pointed to roads that led to the creek that went up to Grandpa Yeager’s house, the house where Charles was born, the houses in which they grew up, the school, the church, the Chuck Yeager statue and the like.

We stayed for dinner and had leather britches and butterscotch pie. Ever had leather britches? Chuck had prepped me – he had made some for me. I have to say Pansy’s were also darn good. Dried green beans with the beans still inside cooked in chicken broth with a ham hock for several days or a few hours depending on how soon everyone wants to eat.

Her butterscotch pah was to die for. I mentioned that hers was even better than Charles’. While smiling slightly pleased, she admonished me that that wasn’t nice to say in front of Charles.

Not five minutes later, Charles volunteered: This is much better than mine.  Win-win-win. He compliments his sister, supports his partner, and is humble about his pie.

The next year, we stayed with Governor Joe Manchin (now Senator). We offered to the Governor that Pansy Lee make him leather britches and butterscotch pah since he had never had either.

He was dubious but reluctantly game. He could always get the chef to feed him something after the guests left…

The Governor’s Mansion chef was from New Jersey and was thrilled to be cooking for General Yeager, yet not cooking. Having no familiarity with leather britches and to make sure we all didn’t starve just in case: he made a great, loaded salad as a side dish.

There was one hitch: Pansy did have enough beans to make leather britches. So we sent her some a friend had dried. She turned up her nose at those and cooked them separately.

She came up to the mansion with her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. Her grandson was in college and couldn’t get away.

Upon meeting the Governor, Pansy Lee announced: “This is a first. I’m invited to dinner but I have to bring the dinner!”

Governor Joe, with his typical grace replied; “Thank you! I’m looking forward to leather britches and butterscotch pah.” (That’s West Virginian for “pie”.)

We sat outside on the porch on a lovely evening. Governor Joe and everyone took some of each batch of leather britches.

Impolitic son-in-law asked, Well Governor, which batch of leather britches do you like better?

I jumped in fast: Governor, these on the right are Pansy Lee’s; she is sitting to your left. The ones on the left are Gus’. He is not here.

I guess I wasn’t as clear as I thought. He answered, “I like these, pointing to the left.”

Me: Uh Governor, these on the right are Pansy Lee’s, she is sitting to your left. The ones on the left are Gus’. He is not here.

Chuck, being much wiser, diverted attention with his story about flying around the gold capitol next to the mansion and then flying under the bridge not far from the mansion.

We talked about several things. About 15 minutes later, Governor Joe said: You know, I said I like these but I keep going back to the ones on the right for seconds and thirds.”

Pansy Lee, without a moment’s hesitation and with typical Yeager humor, said, “Too late. You lost my vote!”

Governor Joe wasn’t used to irreverence and the Yeagers. He was enjoying himself immensely.

Next we had the butterscotch pah. That caused great quiet to descend at the party – as everyone thoroughly enjoys this delicious dessert.

There were two extra pieces which the chef put up in our guest apartment (which has a kitchen). I learned later that the Governor watched those pieces go with longing.

The next year, we visited during the Christmas season. The Governor invited Pansy Lee and her family to the Mansion with us for dinner. The Christmas decorations were lovely and really put one in the spirit.

After dinner, the Governor gave her a Proclamation – Pansy is the first person (not hired for the job) to come cook for the Governor at the Mansion. What fun! She loved it.

Pansy had some great stories of her childhood with Chuck. Roy and he used to say she couldn’t go to the swimming hole, girls were not allowed because they didn’t know how to swim. Pansy Lee would reason, “How can I learn to swim if I can’t go to the swimming hole?”

When she was about 3, her mother told the boys to do the dishes after dinner. They whined: “Why doesn’t Pansy do it? She’s the girl?”

Their mother said, “She’s too little.”

Shortly thereafter, her mother heard quite a bit of banging in the kitchen. She came in to find Pansy on several boxes the boys had piled up trying to do the dishes.

The first time a West Virginia trooper drove us to Pansy Lee’s, when we told him the menu: leather britches and butterscotch pah, one could tell he was thinking he’d be eating after the evening was over.

After he tasted the food, he was pleasantly surprised and did not leave hungry.

After this, whenever Charles and I would fly to West Virginia, the West Virginia troopers would fight over who would drive us down to Pansy Lee’s. Word was out – her leather britches were delicious and the butterscotch pah unmatched.

Pansy was amazing. At 82 and older, Pansy was still volunteering five evenings a week at the hospital gift shop. She sure kept active and alive and giving.

Pansy Lee died last January at age 88. We’re glad we had the chance to visit with her about once a year and about two months before she died.  She had stopped making the pah about two years before.

After many tries, I’m getting closer to how good hers was.

But it won’t ever be the same.

  1. GCYI

One Lung Engines – Reminiscing about my Childhood

August 14th, 2015

We recently went to the Nevada County Fair and visited the guys who run the one lung engines as we do every year.

Those engines remind me of my Dad. When I was a kid, he would have me climb all the way up those hills to fill the gas tanks and keep those engines running. Dad needed those engines to bring water up to the gas wells he was drilling.

Keeping those engines running and toting that gas up those hills was hard for a little kid. But I did it. And I learned about engines.



Fishing Golden Trout with General Yeager: Difference Between a Rock and a Fish

August 14th, 2015

Other than in Africa, I had been camping maybe once. I think my parents have never been camping. Ever.

Shipley, where I attended from 2nd grade through 12th grade, had decided that an Outward Bound retreat the weekend before school started would be an ideal bonding experience. I was about to enter 8th grade. I had no friends because the ones I had until seventh grade became the “cool” kids; into drugs, heavy petting at the very least, and bullying – none of which was interesting to me. The non-“cool” ones were generally non-athletic and had different interests. I deflected the bullies with humor and avoidance.  Since I was a pretty good athlete I had some value so was left alone pretty much.

The retreat was interesting but two days in the Poconos was enough for me.  Our group had one of the male teachers who was hugely overweight. One exercise in trust, teamwork, leadership, etc. was: we had to get the group over a wall or those left behind would “die”. After several different attempts at different strategies, even the guide let the teacher walk around. If only life were so easy…Wall? Die if you don’t get over? Just walk around.

So when General Chuck Yeager, GCY, asked if I wanted to go on his annual fishing/hiking trip into the Sierras, I was thrilled. After forty years of traveling all over the world, this invitation opened up a a completely new world and experience.

One afternoon of the fourteen days sticks out in my mind. We had hiked for three days to get to our first spot where we would spend at least four days. We had arrived in the afternoon, had set up our tent, and started fishing for our supper: the famed golden trout.

We had been surviving on almonds, raisins, and beef jerky (I didn’t eat the beef jerky – I brought my trusty protein powder for emergencies) for lunch and dinner. For breakfast; oatmeal, tea and coffee. As a treat; hot chocolate and “atta boys”.

Atta boys were Werther’s butterscotch candy for those times when you had a strenuous hill to climb.

GCY was teaching me how to fish. I had only been fishing once – on a kid trip in France. No one on that trip knew how to fish. I think I caught an old boot.

While GCY was using a fly rod, he decided I should start on a spinning rod.

We fished side by side while he gave me pointers now and again.

I could throw pretty well medium distance so got the spinner out into the lake pretty far. GCY had warned me: “Don’t let it sink and get caught on a rock. We don’t have that many spinners.” And laughed.

Terrified we’d starve if I lost the spinner, I reeled it in quickly.

GCY: “Not so fast, the fish aren’t on the top.”

The next toss then, still terrified, I tried to slow down.

GCY: Not so fast!

I tried again.

I watched GCY catch a couple of Goldens. Watching him concentrate on putting his rod together, carefully choosing his fly, tying his fly on in his unique way, casting, stripping (which with a fly rod essentially means retrieving)….well that is poetry in motion.

Then as GCY watches the fish take notice of his fly in the clear, frigid waters of Fungston Lake, and plays with attracting the fish to consummate and bite the fly…

Fish on! The fish jumps a little trying to shake the hook. Zigs. Zags. GCY plays him, clearly enjoying it all, exuding great mrth. Woo hoo! GCY has me hold the fly rod – not going to trust me to take the fish off and not lose it. (Neither of us were going to let me be in that position J.

He bleeds it and then strings the first catch on a stick and secures the stick by burrowing one end in the sand under the water in the shallow edge. Keeps the fish cold and wet. Well. We have GCY’s dinner.

He looks at me and says: “Catch a fish!”

He turns to his rod, checks the fly and the line for glitches before he tosses it out again and his line floats to the surface of the lake. He lets his tip sink and when he thinks it has sunk far enough, he starts bringing it in in spurts, to make his fly appear as food, a bug. to the fish.

I continue tossing and retrieving….still too fast.

After watching me through several exercises in good tossing and not so good retrieving; GCY said: “You’ll have to learn how to fish if we’re going to go to Alaska in two months!

Alaska. I had always wanted to go there but could not figure out how to make the trip worthwhile. I had had all sorts of offers to visit but just not from the right person. Until GCY. Within a month of knowing him, out of the blue he said: Want to go fishing in Alaska?

I like doing just about anything with GCY but add going to a place I had always wanted to go and with someone who knew it well? I couldn’t say “Yes” fast enough! Now I felt the trip was threatened. I had to learn how to fish. And fast.

The umpteenth time the reel came skipping across the top, GCY said, You have to let it sink so it gets to the fish, gets their attention.

I tried again. Here came the spinner skipping merrily.

The umpteenth plus one time, GCY, with great patience, said, When it hits the water, count to three before you start reeling.

I let the spinner sink. GCY, music to my ears, said, “Atta girl. Now reel.”

No fish.

GCY: “That was good. Try again.“

I tried. Used the counting to three method.  I was thinking this is too much like work. What happened to napping with the rod next to you until you felt a tug? Actually, my attitude was this is too sedentary. I want to go exploring the hills. But this was also dinner.

After several more attempts, finally, halfway in, I felt a tug. I was elated!

“I GOT A FISH!” Now what do I do?

I tugged back.

GCY looked over, assessed the situation and said: “That’s not a fish, that’s a rock.”

Me: It’s a fish!

A few more tugs…. See!

GCY replied: That’s a rock!

Me: It’s a fish!

GCY, with his famous quizzical look of great bemusement, said: Can’t you tell the difference between a fish and a rock?

As I was contemplating how to describe the differences and maybe the question was the scientific differences, GCY broke in to this heavy thinking and said:

A fish wiggles!

Simple. And brilliant in its simplicity.

Me? I took a break.




My History with Baseball: San Francisco Giants Baseball Game

August 2nd, 2015

I used to love going to baseball games. For the hot dogs. Hot dogs just taste better at the ball park. Dad took us to some football games in Fairmount Park when it was safe but the first baseball game was with my 10th grade best friend. Her father took us along with her younger sisters and their friends.

As the hot dog vendor came by, he asked who would like hot dogs.

My friend Eve shouted, “I do!”

Her younger sister B shouted, “I do!”

Her youngest sister shouted,  ”I do!”

My turn: I quietly answered, “I’d like two, please!”

The father Mr. H, the CEO of a department store, was outraged.  Think “Oliver” – You want some MORE RERERERE!!!!!” But he did his best to not show it. He wasn’t happy  – he was sure it would be wasted. Yet I had said, “Please.”

He ordered it – he didn’t know me well enough yet to yell at me or say no.

The hot dogs were passed out. As I was finishing my first one, and going onto the second, Mr. H, having finished his, looking at my second one, was already desperately trying to locate the hot dog vendor while asking us if anyone would like another one.

He gave me what was, I learned later, his typical snide approval look.

He and everyone else wanted a second one and had to wait until the vendor came around again. (I would have offered mine to him and waited but I had already eaten part of it).

I was contemplating even then asking for another as a joke but thought that would be pushing it…when Mr. H asked, “Tori?”

Between bites, I replied, “No thank you. I have to save room for ice cream.”

I think Mr. H was going to lose it. But he stayed on track with the hot dogs.

He asked if we wanted anything to drink. Soda all around.

“I suppose you want a large?” was his snide attempt at humor.

“Yes, please.”  He gave me a little benefit of the doubt as I was establishing a track record.

I think we had everything – ice cream, popcorn, caramel corn, peanuts….

I don’t think I was ever invited again – too expensive! :-)

The next game I remember was when I had met Jimmy Carter as he was running for office.


He shook hands with everyone. He was coming in and turning left. I was to the right. Easy to miss. He stopped as though he had radar of a hand to shake, turned, and shook my hand. Eyes in the back of his head. It was powerful. For about two seconds I thought about voting for him. 1976 was my first year to vote for President.

The next game was when I worked as an assistant to Chuck Howard at the 1979 World Series between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. I started out as a production assistant but I was constantly doing things ahead of when they were needed. It got Chuck Howard’s attention.

He noticed particularly before the second game of the series, I was there as a temp – from university. The weather had turned very, very cold. I had summer clothes essentially so I just put on everything I had with me whether they “matched” or not. And what covered it all was a wrap-around madras skirt. Very preppy.

Chuck Howard came out of the control room, saw me in my wild get up (which I had forgotten about – no mirrors around), looked at me dubiously, and burst out laughing.

I smiled back. He had never seen anyone dressed like that who really didn’t care what she looked like. I did say – Hey I was cold and this was all, and I do mean all, of what I had.

He put me in the control room with him and Andy Sidaris, the director. Apparently Andy behaved better when I was there – before, he was downright gross apparently.

Which must have been something because in front of me, I remember him stuffing a hot dog in – I mean the entire hot dog, roll, onions, relish, mustard, in his mouth and then saying (best I could tell) through the bread, hot dog, mustard, “Cue the nerd!”  meaning Howard Cosell.

As I watched and listened, I noticed that every time Chuck Howard communicated to Howard Cosell what to say, Howard Cosell sounded brilliant.

Now and again, Howard would go out on a limb without getting the words from Chuck Howard, and he’d say something nonsensical. The whole control room would groan with a slight chuckle. “OHHHHHHH Howard!!!” was the collective response.

Once I got the hang of it, I would suggest the replay when asked. One time the associate producer set up the wrong shot. Chuck Howard reamed him – without taking a breath. Finally when he absolutely had to take a breath, the associate producer grabbed his chance and jumped in: “Sorry Chuck, I f—ked up!”

Chuck Howard stopped short, calmer, barked, “Okay. Don’t let it happen again!”

I thought wow –

Was being reamed,

Owned up,

End of incident.

No squirming and excusing.

But don’t do it again.

Works for me.

We drove to Pittsburgh for the next game while the big wigs flew. This series opened my eyes to baseball. The TV employees cheered for whichever team would get them to the full seven games. TV got bonuses if they did and ratings were huge.

I also found out why baseball had gotten so slow. The guy who was my first immediate boss, a full time production assistant, and a bit of a creep, when he was a production assistant, had suggested he stand at third base and when they wanted to do a commercial, let him know, he’d put on a white towel so the players would know to slow down.

Literally the players would go into slo-mo getting to the next pitch or the next inning.

The creep apparently was promoted for this one idea and it went to his head. I don’t think he got beyond that one promotion though.

At Baltimore, I was standing outside the VIP section and Joe DiMaggio walked out. I asked him for his autograph on my baseball which the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher had already signed. I couldn’t believe I was seeing someone I had only read about and had quite a sports and social history. He smiled kindly at me and very graciously gave me his autograph. That was pretty special.

It was quite the year with the Pittsburgh Pirates coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series in 7 games.

The next game I attended was several years later with my Dad at Philadelphia’s Veteran’s Stadium. Chuck Howard gave us some seats for the World Series. The Phillies were losing. Badly.

This game could be the last for the series if the Phillies lost. While the score was a gazillion to one against them, there were still three innings.  With only two innings left, the crowd started leaving. How rude and unsupportive. More hot dogs for us, though. And less traffic later.

Dad and I calculated how the Phillies could still win in the bottom of the ninth. It included two grand slams. Or one grand slam and one home run for extra innings…

We stayed till the very end. The Phillies lost.

The next game was in the 1990’s. I went to a game in LA with a friend. We ate everything. By then the food was far more upscale than hot dogs. But they just didn’t understand – you can’t improve on good hot dogs at a ball park!

But after the hot dogs, we had ice cream and then pizza and then….I can’t remember….but it was wonderful. And very filling.

I think the very next game was last week – 2015: the San Francisco Giants vs Milwaukee Brewers game.

I had contacted the administration. The owner very generously gave us four tickets and Larry Baer very kindly gave us two more.

So we went with four friends. Very fun. We went to the Field Club first for supper; had some….you guessed it: hot dogs.

Finding a seat was a challenge: an investor and his well turned out wife let us sit with them. Delightful people. At the table next door was just one fellow so I asked if we could use the rest of his table. He clearly was anti-social but couldn’t say no. I said – really it’s okay if you want to say no but…?

The couple next to him after about 10 minutes gave us their table and noted that the anti-social one was now sleeping. Weird. Hope it didn’t end sadly.

The regulars steered us to the right stuff but by then I was pretty full. The triple sliders looked good – pastrami.

Our new best friends, the investor, told us to get the vanilla ice cream with coffee. She was thin and probably could have used 10 of those, the decaf version.

We got plain vanilla and shared.

The investor told us to wait longer – but we sure wanted to not miss the first pitch. We went a little earlier than they did. All ready for the opening pitch, who is getting in their seats blocking our view of the first pitch……..?????

The SF Giants put us on the big screen during a break in the second inning.

It was a bit awkward. To see us on the screen I had to turn completely away from the camera. So the audience including me would see the back of my head or they would see the front of me but I wouldn’t.

Enjoying the game. And the hot dogs

Enjoying the hot dogs. Oh yeah: And the game.

As our friends said it was heartwarming to see 40,000 people standing and cheering General Chuck Yeager, an American hero.

Larry Baer showed up and introduced himself by sticking his hand out to General Yeager, very close to try to be heard and personal. We had never met him or seen a photo of him and due to the loudness could not hear what he said.

General Yeager pulled back from this stranger in his face. Remember, in World War II, General Yeager was shot down behind enemy lines, had to find friendlies in enemy territory, and not trust anyone – they might be the enemy. Once a few years before, at a July 4 party, a guy tried to hug General Yeager from behind. Boy, that guy was lucky he wasn’t on the ground with General Yeager’s foot on his throat. It was close.

I explained to General Yeager: This is Larry Baer. We are sitting in his seats – he gave them to us. That’s why he’s in the cheap seats. (He was sitting in the front row – we were in the second row). Larry looked at me, saw I was smiling, and laughed.

General Yeager immediately followed up with wonderful warm smile: “I kept it warm for you – would you like it back?”

Larry laughed again.

I asked the kids in front of me a few questions – there were some stats letters with which I was not familiar.

I mentioned to one friend how much Gen Yeager likes caramel corn. Next thing I knew the friend had peanuts and dripping caramel corn. Delicious. We sent some to our other friends and they never returned it. The caramel would have been really great on ice cream.

One friend was teed off – people were leaving. The SF Giants were not doing well this game. They had a beginning of a rally but it didn’t pan out or it panned to three outs. :-)

We had a close view of the different stances for batters. Wow!  I recall our coaches in prep school telling us there was one way to stand and we were yelled at if we tried to personalize it.  We had some good athletes in my prep school class – who would have been great with the right coaches.

At one point a little girl in SF Giants uniform ran out with a bat. I turned to one friend and said, “They have a ringer.”

Larry turned to us and asked if we were Giants fans.

I replied, “I’m here for the hot dogs.” He laughed. I think he thought I was kidding :-)

Chuck mentioned his cousin was Steve Yeager.

Larry: “Oh so you’re a Dodgers fan, then.”

Chuck replied, “Naw.”

I chimed in: “Not today!”

Larry smiled, nodded. We understood each other.

When the balls hit the dirt, the players would throw them in the stands – generally to kids – and not 57 year old kids either! Sometimes the players kept them and we felt gypped.

It was fun.

As it became clearer that the SF Giants might not make that comeback, although I wanted to tell Larry to leave his seat again – that’s when they got their two runs – Larry turned and said it’s your first time. We had a run of six wins, must be you.

I then told him that he should leave his seat and why.

General Yeager responded: “A little of that crap goes a long way!”

Everyone around was laughing – they aren’t used to people jiving Larry that way. He’s a nice guy – and clearly a bright fellow. Very successful as he inspired a great venue and a successful time with a sell-out enthusiastic crowd almost every game. Going to a SF Giants game is a fun, positive adventure and so much more than baseball.

Of course, we had the one proposal on camera. And she said……Yes. Finally! Geez. But very good theater.

After the game was over, the guy on Gen Yeager’s left noted: “That was kinda rude to blame you for the Giants loss.”

I smiled. Lemme in Coach!

Then he turned around again and said: “It’s probably because you didn’t recognize him!”

Everyone around us laughed.

A few people came around for photos with General Yeager before we left.

Quite a fun night!











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    That connects with…

TURN, TURN, OUT, IN, JUMP, STEP        Got it?… Going on. And…

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


“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.


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.   :-)


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.



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