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motorcycle hoodlum grandpa

Image via family archive

One enchanted evening the man on the hog met a woman at a USO dance. He saw her across a crowded room. They married just before he shipped out to the Pacific Theater of Operations, PTO.


Score for a motorcycle hoodlum, but he was the least motorcycle hoodlum on the road.


He was an old man then, thirty years old. He’s been an old man ever since, but old is relative.


He set the bar for men decades younger all of his life. After a knee replacement he showed me how to do a one legged squat. On the new knee.Then he invited me to give it a try. I failed and he seemed to like it. No hard feelings.


When an old man bests a young man, don’t be surprised.


Now I’m old and proving age is a number, but it’s not the same. He was great before the term Greatest Generation.


My big challenge from childhood was learning how to stop gagging on green peppers. Mission accomplished. Peppers have no power over me today, so I’ve got that going for me.


Grandpa Marshall was born in a box car; I was born in an Letterman Army Hospital, a letterman from the get go, but I didn’t get a jacket until high school.


He was a WWII vet from the Pacific. My Army war zone was Philadelphia in between the Revolutionary War and the Eagles’ Super Bowl celebration in what’s called the Vietnam Era.


Era? That’s a nice term.


His oldest son took a Vietnam War draft physical where he explained he was gay. It was popular choice some guys made, but usually backed away from at the end. After answering a few more questions, he convinced the draft board he was telling the truth and shown the door.


My kids came of age without the draft. George Bush Junior ran the show then. I didn’t promote joining the military, but if he had decided to go he’d have had my full support. With Boss Dick Cheney running President Bush, it seemed a dicey time.


With General Powell as Secretary of State delivering the voice of authority on yellow cake uranium delivered to Iraq to help war profiteers like Halliburton, and no voice strong enough to counter the assertion, he cast himself and his service in a long shadow.


I imagine what men like Grandpa would have to say about President Trump and his cadre of generals today. I also imagine the old motorcycle hoodlum-in-training wouldn’t approve of their brand of leadership.


Enlisted people are like that when they see who’s feeding the fan, especially older WWII draftees who’ve had a little more life experience getting splattered and cleaning up the mess.


Like a great man in motorcycle hoodlum disguise.
About David Gillaspie

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