Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comfortably then I shall begin. The special Veterans Day event held annually at Evergreen Cemetery on AV Way will take place this coming Sunday, November 10 at 10:30am. In terms of taking a deep breath and thinking about what really matters, in my humble opinion, this is one of the more important community gatherings of the year so please think seriously about attending. It should be stressed that this special occasion is not an overtly political, militaristic, or religious event. It does, however, offer a chance for us to show support and gratitude for both those who gave their lives or were wounded in wars of the past, and for those who have served or continue to serve so that we may have the freedoms and liberties that we continue to enjoy today.
With showers possibly in the forecast, the organizers inform me that inclement weather will not postpone this ceremony; after all, those who are being remembered went through far worse I’m sure. However, in the event of significant rain, signs will be posted at the cemetery informing you that the event has been moved to the Veterans Hall/Senior Center in Boonville. Different place, same time. 10:30am, Sunday, November 10.
With this in mind, I will forego our ‘Quote of the Week’ and instead present a poem. These very moving words are by World War One poet, Wilfred Owen, probably the finest war poet of all, and the poem is entitled “Disabled” (1917). It expresses the tormented thoughts and recollections of a teenaged soldier in the Great War who has lost his limbs in battle and is now confined, utterly helpless, to a wheelchair. The subject contrasts the living death he is now facing with the youthful pleasures he had enjoyed “before he threw away his knees”; he goes on to recall the impetuous and frivolous circumstances in which he had joined up to fight in the war. He also notes how the crowds that greeted his return were smaller and less enthusiastic than those who cheered his departure, and how women no longer look at him but instead at “the strong men who were whole.” In the opinion of many, myself included, it is one of the finest anti-war poems ever written and its appearance in this column for a third time (last time 2011) is something I hope is appreciated.
He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.
About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girl glanced lovelier as the air grew dim—
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girl's waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
All of them touch him like some queer disease.
One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he'd better join. He wonders why.
Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts,
That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria's, did not move him. And no fears
Of fear came yet. He thought of jeweled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.
Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then enquired about his soul.
Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?
p.s. The poet Wilfred Owen was killed in action at the age of twenty-five, on Nov 4th, 1918, just one week before the war ended. Ironically, the telegram from the War Office announcing his death was delivered to his mother's home as her town's church bells were ringing in celebration of the Armistice when the war ended.
Onward. Public Service Announcements. Calendars and pens at the ready. #101. Why not get a healthy breakfast first and then head down to the Cemetery to pay your respects at the Veterans Day service? Now that’s a constructive, and meaningful Sunday morning if I’ve ever heard of one! Such a feast can be found at the monthly AV Grange Pancake and Egg Breakfast from 8.30-11am. I think you’ll find yourself feeling better in so many ways, mentally, spiritually, gastronomically, if you attend both of these unique Valley gatherings. #102. The Boonville Winter Market starts up this weekend, on Saturday, November 9 at Boonville General Store from 11am-1pm. #103. The annual Fair Board Elections take place at 7pm on Monday, November 11. If you are an energetic person with lots of realistic new ideas on how to make the Fair more profitable then they need your help! Call 895-3111 for more details. (Hippies need not apply.) #104. The Vets from Mendocino Animal Hospital will make their monthly visit to the Valley on Thursday, November 14 from 2-3”30pm at the AV Farm Supply.
Here is the menu for the Community Lunches and Dinners next week at the Senior Center in the Veterans Hall in Boonville. The Center suggests a $6 donation from Seniors for both the lunches and dinners and charges $7 for Non-Seniors for lunches and $8 for the dinners. Tomorrow, Thursday, November 7, the lunch, always served by Marti Titus and her crew at 12.15pm, will be Sesame Noodles with Chicken, Asparagus, Asian Slaw, Tabouleh Salad, and Wendy’s Oatmeal cookies. Then next Tuesday, November 12, for the 6pm dinner, the menu will feature Pineapple Pepper Chicken, Rice, Peas, Broccoli Salad, Strawberry Gelatin, Wheat Berry Salad, and Carmel Apple Cake. As this is the 2nd Tuesday of the month, this feast will be followed by Bingo at 7pm. Hopefully you will be able to attend, and remember. ALL ages are welcome! Hope to see you there.
Now for topics and Valley events this week at The Three-Dot Lounge. Yes, “Moans, Groans, Good Thoughts, and Rampant (and often Reliable) Rumors” from my favorite gathering place in the Valley.
…Excellent news! The valuable liquor license that allows folks around these parts to enjoy a martini, a single malt scotch, a Tanqueray and tonic, or even a Trainwreck, looks like it will be staying in town. I am not at liberty to discuss when and where but trust me on this. You can thank me later!
…While reflecting at the Three-Dot, a number of regulars and I decided that the comments we made about menacing and curmudgeonly CalTrans workers were unfair. Some of these guys are pleasant and they do smile and wave; certainly a few of the guys on our Boonville Crew do. Derek Wyant, Tyler Neal, and Eric Bloyd to mention just three. They even tell you how long the wait will be. That is some good public relations that other crews could learn from. Keep it up, guys. It makes waiting in line a little more pleasant.
…High School sports play-offs are coming up for both the soccer boys and volleyball girls as these two programs seek to add another Championship to each of their already distinguished collections. The soccer team, the #1 seeds, will host a match on Saturday, November 9 with a 2pm kick-off at Tom Smith Field alongside the school. The girls volleyball season has a further week of the regular season before postseason play begins on Nov 13 with a home game at the high school gym. Come out and support these two excellent groups of high school student athletes. It would be much appreciated.
Time to take my leave. Be careful out there; stay out of the ditches; think good thoughts; and may your god go with you. Hope to see you at the Veterans Day gathering. Very humbly yours, Turkey Vulture.
PS. Contact me with words of support/abuse through the Letters Page or at email@example.com. PPS. On the sheep, Grace… Hi, Silver Swan. behaving yourself? Hopefully not! … Bobwhite Quail. keep up the knitting!