Posted tagged ‘Navy’

Storytelling Lunch

June 16, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            June 15, 2016


Telling stories is a devalued treasure. People are too jumpy to hear, too hurried to tell. When we stop and listen to the remembrances, the memorable moments, we realize how special the experiences is.

Like yesterday when I enjoyed lunch with my dad and his new friend Carl. They’ve only known each other for about three months, even though they were born just four miles apart from each other in the hills of eastern Kentucky.

I sat and was still listening long after all the food had been eaten. Story after story was told about their Navy experiences. I learned that my “Granny Wolfe” had to go with my dad to sign up for military service since he was still only seventeen. I found out he had flat feet, a dis-qualifier for the infantry, but according to the man doing inspections, good enough for the Navy! Carl and my father talked about their “lodging accommodations”, and other “luxuries” of their experiences.

I sat and was mesmerized by their humor, their remembering of conversations and details, their stories of being tested in shooting a gun. Since they were Navy they were told that they had passed…although both of them doubted the truth of that…but one of the two Marines who was being tested didn’t pass.

Our lunch table was punctuated with knee-slapping laughter. Richness in the moment can not be confined to a length of time. Like a fine steak it is to be savored and enjoyed. “Rush” is not a word that gives any value to it.

As I sat and soaked I thought of our addiction to movement. We move from morning tasks to lunch, and from lunch to afternoon responsibilities. We seldom have time just to sit and listen…and in getting things done we miss the opportunities of stories that live on long after the afternoon agenda gets accomplished.

Dad and Carl strolled through history, visiting Carl’s entertaining pursuit of family genealogy to discover the grandfather he never knew. His search brought him to a choice. His grandfather  could have been either a thief shot and killed in a barroom gun fight…or the captain of a riverboat.

He and his siblings chose the stream that pointed towards the riverboat captain. It becomes easier to talk to the next generations about a captain making sure a riverboat safely navigated the Ohio River, rather than telling the little ones that their ancestor was scoundrel who was also slow in the draw.

From there my dad talked about a certain river barge company that would name each of its boats after a woman…Abigail, Esther, and such.

Like two checker players they jumped from one story square to another. Each move began with words like “That reminds me of…” or “Well, let me tell you something!” Chuckles abounded and their faces lit up as they recalled the moments, lost in the reliving.

At the end of that day I realized that the storytelling luncheon was the most important thing that had happened to me. It was my biggest accomplishment…and I had just sat and listened!

The Fellowship of the Hats

July 5, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  July 5, 2014




     A few minutes ago I left a breakfast that a group of men from our church had at a local restaurant. We were gathered on both sides of a long table…yacking…telling stories…razzing one another…stretching the truth like taffy.

On one side of the table were a row of hats placed in extreme orderliness on four heads. They weren’t just any kind of hat, but rather hats signifying the military service of the wearer.

One was worn by a Vietnam Vet who was in the Army. An Army brat himself, he served his country well in the midst of a difficult confusing war.

Two of the hat wearers were Navy vets who served during World War Two and the Korean Conflict. One had been on a destroyer in the middle of the Pacific. The other had spent most of his time in an iron lung in San Diego, after being diagnosed with polio. His willingness to serve his country was trumped by the illness that took the lives of so many.

The fourth head wore a hat telling of his service in the Air Force. He learned Russian at a time when the Cold War was heating up. It was at a time when Americans and Russians listened to one another, albeit by intercepting messages and other spying techniques.

The four men has served their country for the cause of freedom, sometimes not understanding it, sometimes in harm’s way, sometimes at a distance.

As we ate our eggs and bacon I found myself being extremely appreciative for sitting at the same table with them. They had laid their lives on the line for people like me.

Yesterday we celebrated 238 years of independence. There is a large fellowship of the hats that has offered headwear of protection for our nation through generations past and present.

Sometimes we fail to appreciate the magnitude of freedom until we hear of regimes in other parts of the world who do not believe their citizens are entitled to it. But freedom for our nation is a foundational principle. It is why we became a rebelling population that risked everything for independence.

The fellowship of the hats is to be honored and treasured and saluted. Our hats are off to you.