Thursday, May 26, 2016

Los Lobos Album The Neighborhood


It was the mid 1990's, after a doctor's appointment, I see a Los Lobos album The Neighborhood on cassette tape that had been there on the receptionist's desk during a previous appointment - three months before. I had hundreds of cassettes in my music library, but had only heard Los Lobos once - on MPT's Austin City Limits. I told the receptionist the tape had been there over 90 days, asked if I could have it, and she gave it to me. 

It is one of the best albums I have ever heard, with a solid variety of Rock and Roll. If I met someone who had never heard Rock and Roll Music, I'd play them The Neighborhood. It has that much going for it. 

About a decade ago, I began to look for a CD of the album, but could not locate one anywhere in any music store or on the Internet. After several years, I managed to score a used CD of it online. From those experiences, and what little is written about it online, it proves to be a little known and heavily under appreciated, a most human, piece of excellent work. The musicianship is superb, by any standards. The song writing expresses somethings of what we each have in our lives. The last song, "The Neighborhood," could be an anthem for any city dwellers anywhere, and would be great for a video interpretation of it. 

Have yourself a listen:

Chambers Brothers Uptown to Harlem


One mid 1960's afternoon, I was next door in my buddy Buck O'Baker's house, in the Baltimore suburbs, when we unexpectedly tuned the TV into a New York station. Freaky weather up north had allowed the TV to pull in that station the one evening. All I recall is the Chambers Brothers live doing "Time Has Come Today." I said," If I ever see an album by them, I'm getting it." Portions of that song are used in many films about the 60's. There is a long version and shorter single record released of it. 

The NYC live version we dug happened months ahead of any Baltimore record stores having the album, and even more time till the 45 rpm single was released, which eventually received radio play. I finally see the album, buy it, then find it a gold mine of solid Rhythm & Blues music. Which rarely ever has been heard by most people. Give yourself a listen to one of the most important songs of my life - it rocks my soul:



Yeah,

I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
If a taxi won’t take me, I’ll catch a train
I’ll go underground, I’ll get there just the same

Cus I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
125th street, now here I come, y’all
They’re ready for me ‘cus I’m coming for fun

I’m gonna eat me some-a-chicken, and some black-eyed peas
Somebody barbequed ribs and some collard greens

I’m gonna party for days in Harlem
Leave the downtown ways for Harlem

Cus I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
If a taxi won’t take me, I’ll catch a train
I’ll go underground, I’ll get there just the same

I’m going make it to the Cave and the Shadow Park?
I’m to uptown faces and down to swat?
I’m gonna make it to the play, I’ll stand red-goosed too?
I’ll break jack the truce and wear a suit?

I’m going to have me a ball in Harlem
And that ain’t all in Harlem

I’m gonna eat some chitlin’s and some black-eyed peas
Somebody barbequed ribs and some collard greens

I said I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
I’m going uptown to Harlem
Gonna let my hair down in Harlem
(fade)

A Hitchhiker's Magic Mirror


I hitchhiked out of the 1960's, through the 70's, on till '86. And when I was driving, I picked up hitchhikers any time I could. It was exciting, interesting, soul satisfying, lottsa fun, very lucky not to have had any real bad experiences at it. Only a few uncomfortable times. 

A personal rule was never show anger at passing motorists, when I figured they could have picked me up. Sometimes, those ones did stop a little ways further and give me a ride. 

When I saw people like a lone woman, anyone with kids, or a wimpy looking man, I'd smile & wave to them to indicate I understand they maybe should not trust a hitchhiker, and a few stopped and gave me a ride. 

It was often reflective of human nature as in this song, because I did think about the people passing me by in the same manner Leon Russel relates it here:  

Two of The Animals' Album Cuts


From my early teens, to today, and forever, the intense popularity of many music artist's few known songs - because they are Top 40 hits - irks me to no end. Because many music artists have a lot more to offer, which is also superb. The Animals, with Eric Burdon, are mostly known for "House Of The Rising Sun," which is Folk Music rocked with powerful soul. Their music catalog also has a lot of great songs that are solid Rock and Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Blues, and Soul Music.

You need to realize, the British Invasion music was born of post World War Two hard times and glorious rebirth of nations; nearly destroyed economies and communities rebuilding themselves. The musicians grew up surrounded by people who suffered severe war trauma. Those powerful experiences spawned powerful feeling in the music. 

Unfortunately, some of the best of it has never been played on radio, performed live on TV, or used in movie soundtracks, played at parties, or ever heard by most people. I always bought albums and listened to the entire thing. Nowadays, I purchase MP3 cuts, and mix them with into playlists of songs culled from CD albums, but I still listen to more complete albums than personal playlists.

I want to turn you onto two lesser known songs by The Animals. 

First is the rocked up old Blues number "Dimples." 

The second is a soul stocked love song.
 


Family & Friends' Maine History


Here is the link to the story of mine, on a Maine Gov website, that my cousin responded to by comment on Facebook: 

And I responded to him, but it grew too long for a Facebook comment, it morphed into a solid piece of historical writing. Covers a lot of ground. Says a few things some people won't like, but is real. It also tells of some cherished memories I share with people I haven't seen in decades, and will never see again. Parts of this story are good for the people in them still living, their family and friends to enjoy. The history laden comment is below.

This piece contains a little bit of rough language, just like everyday life today:

I forgot you were there when that house burned down, you don't remember me at the horrible scene because I went into the small house with the freaking out old woman, two woman who had stopped to help and Finley's top Maine Guide Gary Glidden, minutes after Gary and I arrived. Then it ended up me by my teenage self keeping the old gal from loosing her self completely. Her granddaughter was cute, and calmly cordial to the people who came to help keep the fire from spreading to other buildings, the woods, and to give emotional support. She was close to my age, but not interested in any other teens and our fun times. Just a year or two too immature, and wanting to be with her grandmother all summer.

Years later, a family who had purchased the old ladies property - as a vacation cabin - read my House Fire story online, and we exchanged emails. That was neat. 

All us Clarke-side cousins miss Maine, and some of Aunt Martha's side of the family too. I cannot understand why Martha cut us (who are on the Clarke side) all out of Uncle Finley's life. My sister Jeanmarie said Martha was jealous and wanted him all to herself. Martha grew up living next to the Clarke family, and they were all good friends. I only heard this once, but Fin told some hunter about he and Martha went out somewhere the first time on New Years Eve, and didn't come home till the morning. Something just not done in the early 1950's. Fin said,"Woo-ee, was her mother HOT (boiling angry), and Martha was engaged to another man." Fin and Marty sure did love each other. But the harsh shit he'd say to her, and her being very adept at aggravating him into anger. 

Uncle Finley suffered from Korean War PTSD. I know war PTSD from having Vietnam War veteran friends and guys I was in the VA Hospitals with, because of my back injuries - sciatica. I've seen war vets go off with intense rage. Not truly that angry at the person who committed some real or perceived act of ignorance, or a broke down machine or something they are working on, they are angry against the war they fought. The enemy, or a dumb American jackass who committed disastrous military strategic blunders or sent summer uniforms to the freezing front line in winter. War PTSD - I swear it has a smell of its own. It signals me to keep my cool, don't jump on him and take him down, let him roar and maybe throw a wrench down on the ground, in one case it was a heavy metal hospital bedside cabinet thrown out across the hall against the wall. Then talk to them, and just stay there with them awhile. 

My mother once said, with sisterly love, when Finley got back from his year on the front lines in Korea, "he was a mess." He was asked to go on a TV show to accept some medals. He earned a Bronze Star and Silver Star. The whole Clarke family bought nice new clothes to go on TV with him, but he refused to go, saying," I never did more than any other man over there." 

He drank whiskey heavy and wild for a few years, after Korea, then he rolled his old pickup truck, and that cut him down to mellow, small amounts of beer only. I was about 5 or 6, and recall seeing his truck in the alley behind Grandmom and Granddad Clarke's house with the roof bashed in in a few places, from him rolling it. 

When I moved up to Katahdin Lodge, at 18, in '68, I drank beer like I was 21 and legal. We drank beer at the Lodge mostly on weekend evenings, when local Mainers were visiting and/or paying hunters were there; and we was swapping stories, telling jokes (Martha was a deep well of dirty jokes told when kids weren't around), playing Cribbage, Yahtzee, 500 Rummy, never any money gambling. Uncle Finley'd be drinking beers, but was always having peaceful fun, never acted intoxicated nor ever became overly angry at anyone or anything. 

But damn, man, other times I seen him throw stuff around and cuss up a storm. You know that he did not care who he said angry shit to. Most local Maine men liked Fin a lot, enjoyed his company, respected his work & business ethics and woodsman skills, but would not work for him because of the way he got mad and talked to people who were working for him. They were some men who had to move away from their beloved North Woods, when they wanted to stay and find a job, but not with Finley.

Fin sometimes took side jobs of laying brick. I had to stop and ask him something one time, when I rode by where he was helping put up a brick chimney; I had a load of bear hunters, taking them out to bear baits (beaver carcasses from beaver trappers & slaughterhouse leftovers), and Fin was laying brick hot and heavy in a near freakin rage. He wasn't being aggressive against the Mainers there on the construction crew, but they had strange smiles - they were getting a kick out of it - as they watched Fin steadily laying brick and talking anger at what he was pissed off in the world about. 

It was 2 hunters in the truck I was driving and 4 in a car following us, and they got a kick out of seeing Fin like that. Fin had told me earlier to take one truck and certain group of hunters out into the woods to hunt bear and Gary another group. But Gary wanted to see somebody who lived out where I was to go and swapped trucks and hunters with me. We were each driving 30 some miles from the Lodge, taking about the same number of hunters each, it was an even swap. When Fin saw me, he went verbally ballistic. Hollering it was my fault for not following his orders.

But Gary had seniority, he was mentoring me as a Maine Bear Hunting Guide, and both groups of hunters required about the same amount of work from us to deploy them out on bear bait stands. Fin couldn't holler at or say anything negative to Gary, who was extremely valuable as an employee. So Finley ripped into me in front of everybody, but they were giving me supportive looks and words of don't let it get to ya' you're damned competent as a young woodsman. The hunters were willingly trusting me with their safety driving on the rough back roads, unkempt old woods roads, plus coaching them paying sportsmen on safe, successful hunting. Including firearm safety. 

It was asinine business technique to belittle an employee in front of clients who's safety and enjoyment of the great outdoors squarely rests on the shoulders of that employee. 

My neighbor in Dundalk, during the 1960's, built an addition to the back of his house, and hired a brick layer who worked with Uncle Finley, down Sparrows Point. That brick layer told me Finley was called, by his steel mill coworkers, but not nowhere near him, "Loud Mouthed Finley Clarke." Uncle Finley once told me, years later up in Maine, that he, "Laid many a man's bricks for him down the Point. And you could tell my bricks, because they were all level." While he was laying brick, in filthy, miserable mill dirt situations, he'd friggin be telling other workers there what he was ticked off at the world about or what he thought of certain other workmen there, their life styles, life choices, etc.. All the while, working harder than every man on the crew. Finley taking all the overtime he could get. That workaholism and verbally expressed rage is part of a medical definition of PT-fukin-SD. War induced. 

He'd work 20 hrs, slinging mortar & brick, then go home, get his gear and go goose hunting down Maryland's Eastern Shore. Marty worked in Bethlehem Steel's main office, making fair wages. They had a good sex life, but Mother Nature denied them children. I never knew why, nor asked anyone, it being a heartbreaking, hard fact of life. Their house was paid off, the '56 Chevy and a pickup truck was too. Their savings and checking accounts were flush with money. The final two years in Dundalk, their freezer was full of wild meat Finley had harvested on hunting trips all across the country. They went on a bear hunt in Maine, at the Lodge, and were offered to buy into the Lodge - at half interest - for $15,000. They did it in '65, sold the Dundalk house and moved to the Great North Woods of Maine. The other owner, Harold Schmidt, was handling the business end, while Finley did the maintenance work and most of the guiding of paying hunters. 

That first summer, 1966 or '67, I think you rode up to the Lodge with my parents, Jeanmarie and me, and also the summer of '68, when the house fire happened. The one time, I remember us driving across an Interstate 95 bridge in Connecticut, near a nuclear submarine base, and 3 huge U.S. Navy nuclear submarines are slowly passing by in the river below. The shores were lined with people waving and cheering at the subs, sailors standing proudly on deck, and if it had been planned for a movie, and we were the film crew, it would have been a perfect camera angle from our view of it up in the car. Pure American might, a rare sight - 3 subs together, thrilled us to the core. 

I think you were there when my family went for a first summer week at the Lodge. I was expecting to have the other owner's 3 teen daughters there to fall in love with one, with one being my age, one a little older, the other a little younger. We get there and their father had moved the family out to another lodge. I was sorely disappointed. 

Harold had told Finley, "I've bought Camp Wapiti and my family and I are moving there. I am keeping my half interest in this Lodge, you're going to do ALL the work, I'll still take my half of the profits, and there ain't a damned thing you can do about it." 

When we arrived, in the summer of '66, Fin and Marty were some kind of worried and depressed. A few days after we got there, Uncle Finley's very successful businessman friend from Dundalk, County Car Center Chrysler Dealership owner Mr. Eiler and wife came up with their teenage granddaughter, who they were helping with emotional problems. Pleasant girl, she played piano, and taught basic piano to the 3 deaf mute kids there on a fishing trip with their deaf mute parents. The kids could feel the piano keys' vibrations, and knew when they hit a wrong note. Really cool family, great at fishing, and good to have there where we all ate meals together (including some of their fresh fish) and were relaxing in the evenings and all. We communicated with them quite easily. 

Finley was really down in spirits. Mr. Eiler was an excellent business coach & mentor. My mother had been his secretary at Eiler's car dealership for years, so we already knew and liked him and his wife. Harold Schmidt made one huge mistake. He had incorporated the Lodge - Katahdin Lodge and Camps, Inc.. In Maine, you cannot own, run any business that is in competition with an incorporated business you are part of. In court, the judge awarded Finley the entire Katahdin Lodge business. As Fin told it, "I got the other half of the Lodge for the price of lawyer's fees." 

Harold had been cheating Fin the whole time. After Fin took over everything, he finds out the Lodge owns land with families in house trailers who pay rent, the hunters were bringing in more cash than Harold let known, and such scamming Fin as that. But Fin won and made his the top bear hunting lodge in Maine. And everybody in the country side and the hunting world knew it and would say so. 

The first season I guided bear hunters, in 1969, with Uncle Finley and true Maine Woodsman Gary Glidden, our paying hunters got 56 bears, and the count for the entire State of Maine was 104 bears. So we got over half. 

BUT! Several lodges were run by out-of-state characters who had hunted in the area the previous season, then came back at the beginning of bear season, bought or rented an old lodge or house cheap, hired a rare drunken lame loser, worn down type, long time Registered Maine Guide, took in paying hunters for the first two weeks, when hunting was most popular and profitable, those lodge owners were complete ripoffs. Then they took the easy money and went back to New Jersey or where ever. 

The Native Maine hunting lodge owners didn't put much effort into their guiding services, because up there they all believed everyone who can afford to travel hundreds of miles to hunt in Maine has too much money, while the Mainers were struggling for work and incomes, so they figured they had a right to chisel out-of-staters.

My faded memory believes maybe Schmidt had actually gone to Maine from Maryland, either the Essex or Edgemere area. Harold was so lazy & lousy at guiding bear hunters, twice, mid week, some of his paying bear hunters came up to Katahdin Lodge begging for Fin to take them in at full whole week cost for a half week, and they did not care to waste time asking Harold for a refund. Finley, damned rightfully, refused to take paying sportsmen from another man.  

All meaning, it were no great shakes we Katahdin Lodge Registered Maine Guides had such a high percentage of bears taken, except for the fact that we were completely honest, never said the bears been at a bait when they wasn't, never showed favoritism towards sportsmen we liked or had came back years in a row and were actually friends with us, or rich guys who we wanted big tips from. It was cash tips mostly in those days, but in olden times, when wealthy doctors, bankers, lawyers, etc came up on the train, before the roads were good, them guys left a nice gun or knife or hunting dog as tips to the guides. 

We worked hard for the money, with Uncle Finley out working everyone, up at it earlier and at it later each day. I can say, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he worked harder for the money than any man who paid to hunt there worked for the price of the hunt. No matter if they was a factory worker, car mechanic, doctor, lawyer, rich businessman, or junk yard owner. I am proud of that. I believe you worked there in later years a bit, even on weekends from Navy Duty, as I recall hearing, so you know how good it feels to have been part of that. 

Finley led the way, and for years now, most everybody who's into guiding bear hunters, or bear hunting on their own, in Maine, is good at it. There's a healthy harvest each season, by out-of-state paying hunters and residents, with the bear population thriving. Shocking to me is - they use stale doughnuts and sweets for bear bait, not rotting cow guts & beaver carcasses, like Finley had us using. When I was up there, no Mainer even wanted a bear. Many people lived off the land - hunting deer, fishing, berry picking, potato farming, but they turned their noses up at bear meat. It's said that the lack of refrigeration used to be a problem that caused fatty bear meat to go bad quickly, but that is not a problem today and many more people eat bear meat than before. We ate it just a few times at the Lodge, and I like it. I ate a lot of venison there, though, delicious. But the Lodge only fed paying hunters regular commercially processed meats, due to laws that prevent over harvesting of wild game meat. Only my perilously low income disability pension, from the Veterans Administration, keeps me from affording to go hunting and harvest wild meat to live on.    

By the way, Fin yelled at Gary one time. Gary almost quit and walked away from Fin standing there hollering. Fortunately for Finley, Gary turned around and said, "If you ever talk to me like that again, I'm gone." Gary was 27, grew up a woodsman, had been 2 years in the Army, came home a crazy, heavy drinking, Corvette owner and wild driver, had some motorcycles too, then he met Cathy. She was as nice as a woman can be. Any woman who did not like her must have been jealous, but I never knew of any. Men adored her, all knowing she was Gary's wife and that was that. Gary settled right-the-frig-down, knowing she was his one chance to have a healthy, long, love filled life, so he never drank alcohol again. Gary was fortunate to have quit in his mid 20's. I ceased imbibing booze at the age of 44, and, at times, it was real rough upon my life. Gary always had a motorcycle, and pickup truck, and Cathy rode on the back of the bikes in Maine and on interstate trips. For decades. 

Cathy worked for Martha as one of the house keeping staff. Cathy had a hereditary eye disease - tunnel vision. She was slowly loosing her peripheral vision, and had hit a moose she did not see on the side of the road, when she was driving up to see her family in Presque Isle. She did not drive much after that, and her brother was already blind from the disease. Not wanting to pass it on, she and Gary did not have any children. Until 1979, when they took the chance and had baby Enoch. He did not inherit the eye problems. But he had a myriad of other medical problems. 

I saw him the day they brought him home from the hospital, at 8-days-old. Right after he was born, doctors said he had hours to live. The next day, it was said he'd not last two more days, then the doctors said he won't last till the end of the week. At day 8, he seemed to be defying all medical wisdom and knowledge, was making it day after day, so his parents decided to take him home. Cathy and Gary sure were loving him. That was the last time I saw any of them, and I left Maine. On the Internet, 20 some years later, I search for an Enoch Glidden, wondering if he made it. I found the list of people who had recently participated in a wheelchair race, and saw Enoch's name. More research got me in touch with the young man. We exchanged some emails, and Enoch told me he has lived through 50 operations. He climbs mountains secured by climbing ropes. He is a pilot of small planes. He sure enough did make it! 

His parents adopted another boy. Who has grown to be a fine young Maine man with a good Maine wife, and two sons. Cathy has passed away, Gary lives in Florida and Maine. He had retired from the railroad in Maine, and still rides his motorcycles. 

Your sister Dawn had friends up there, you made some solid friendships, Jeanmarie nearly fell in love with John Birmingham. 

John was another top Maine Woodsman who worked for Fin and Marty. Fin would holler at him, but John could take it. John got drafted, was sent to Vietnam as an Army clerk, stayed in Saigon, would go to bars, tell bear stories and be bought beers by other soldiers, but never had to fight the VC. He was the best rifle shot anyone knew up there in Maine. He could run like a deer, and track wounded game animals for many miles through the woods - even at night. He shot highest scores in basic training, but the dumb-ass military don't always put you where you're best suited. After the Army, John came back to work for Finley, for awhile.

Problem with John working at the Lodge came when Finley told Martha to give John a raise in pay, but she didn't, so John quit. He stayed friends with them, and most people knew that John was the son Finley never had. John was an Army recruiter for years, down in southern Maine, then he and his Patten, Maine country girl, hearty home cooking wife bought a lodge way back in the woods, next to a public snowmobile trail. They did alright. 

No one in the Clarke family received any inheritance from Uncle Finley and Aunt Martha's estate. Because Fin died first, and Martha had manipulated Finley away from his family ties. I researched the will online, and it had 11 or so heirs listed. By percentage, with Martha's younger sister Janey getting the most - 14%. Several heirs certainly were solid, longtime friends to Fin and Marty, but there were a few heirs just didn't jive with my way of thinking. Neither did it all set right with the one nephew I know from Martha's side. He knew details about some of the heirs whom I did not know, and knew that the Clarke side of the family was mistreated by his Aunt Martha. 

Along with Fin and Marty's good friends in Maine, plus several out-of-state friends who spent a lot of time with them in Maine (most were my good friends too), a good heir I like is Fin & Marty's alma mater, and yours and Dawn's, Sparrows Point High School - they received a substantial scholarship. A member of the school alumni association once told me it is quite a large amount - stunned her when she saw the paperwork, but she couldn't recall the amounts. I haven't checked on it, anyone can, but I wonder if any black students received any of the scholarship money. I'd be pleased if they did, because Finley and Martha were openly dedicated Jim Crow Racists. 

Martha once said, in 1969, to some Maine women who worked at the Lodge, plus a few hunters, we were relaxing around the long wooden dining room table, while dinner finished cooking, Martha said,"I still think when a colored man walks past a white women on the sidewalk, he should tip his hat and step down off the curb, until she passes." If a black man called about a bear or deer hunt, and she knew it by his voice, he was told, "The hunts are all filled up."

Finley talked about giving black soldiers a hard time in Korea. Telling them about deep holes in the earth they might fall into, while walking around at night, and other crap. He was tickled to instill unnecessary fears in them. Personally, and I'm not a combat vet, but, I believe I'd treat soldiers who are going to fight beside me - actually any soldiers on the same side in a war as I - to be the most bad ass warriors we can be. 

1970-71, I served as an Army photographer on Okinawa. I worked with a Puerto Rican guy from New York City. One of the best work partners and friends I'll ever have. Puerto Ricans were drafted into the U.S. Army. Summer of 1969 in Maine, Finley told a story about drafted Puerto Ricans trying to get out of performing duties in the Army by not speaking English. The drill sergeant handed the Puerto Ricans a shovel each, motioned for them to dig a hole, and said they can stop digging when they learned to speak English. A couple feet down they were speaking good enough English. I don't appreciate the Puerto Ricans doing that, but, to Finley they're all like that, and he would not have welcomed my Puerto Rican friend and his family, if I invited them to see Maine. Which I wanted to do. Then I get to visit their neighborhood in New York. 

A friend on Okinawa was a Vietnam Vet who hailed from South Carolina. He told a few of us white guys that he had been in the KKK. His father and brothers were still in, but he won't be able to do that when he gets back home, because he had fought side by side in the trenches with black guys, and he could never disrespect the combat hardened bonds he felt with those black troops. 

I had black friends on Okinawa, and I knew I would not be going back to Maine after receiving my military discharge, knowing my brown and black friends were not welcomed by my aunt and uncle, at the Lodge. It was the final, tipy-topy reason, after living on the other side of the world, away from my family, nearly everyday thinking about Uncle Finley and Aunt Martha's abuse, disrespect, outright lies telling people I'm a dummy, when I was acting responsibly in a position where one bad mistake or stupid foul up could ruin Katahdin Lodge's business and/or high standing in the community. 

Most of the Mainers liked me a lot, many being great friends to me. Even though I was "from the outside." Never was much fighting there, and I knew if I got into a fight with one, the entire town would turn against me. Win, loose or draw, after a fight, the entire population - for many miles around - wouldn't have allowed me to live there. I hung out in town on Saturday nights and Sundays, driving around in a Lodge pickup truck. Four wheel drive is handy when you want to take a girl "parkin." I went to all the dances and parties. Got drunk with other teens in town. The town cop never said anything; and we never made noise, littered or drained our bladders where it would offend store owners or customers the next day. Us young men could sit on Main St. in our vehicles hangin' out sippin' beers half the night. The girls having been taken home by 11 pm, as ordered by their parents. When leaving our vehicles to set, while riding around together in one guy's vehicle, we left the keys in our ignitions, as everyone did anytime, because there wasn't any theft in the Patten area.

The country girls and I got along famously. Wish I was earning that reputation again today, with the Baltimore women. Back then, up in Maine, one unwed unwanted pregnancy by me could have spelled social disaster. She and I would have had to get married, and may have had to move away to live anywhere else. A bad road wreck, with me driving, especially if Mainers got hurt or their property was damaged, was it - I had to leave and never come back. It was all good, though, thankfully.

At the Lodge, we men worked no less than 9 hrs a day 6 days a week. When bear season began, on June 1st, we guides worked 16-18 hrs a day, 7 days a week, for 3 weeks. I was guiding bear hunters, by myself at times, tracking wounded bears at night by myself, unarmed and never did anyone get hurt, become lost in the woods, or have an unsuccessful hunt because of my actions. I was fukin good at what I did up there, but Fin and Marty never said anything about that, to me or anyone ever, because it would mean they had to admit owing me for the job I was above average at learning and performing.  

In the winter of 1968-69, Fin and Marty made their first trip back to Maryland together, since moving to Maine. They left me by myself to take care of the Lodge. With its wood stove heat, I love so well, is more dangerous than suburban central heated homes, but I had quickly gotten into enjoying splitting and stacking firewood, tending wood stoves, and the dry penetrating heat it gives. Everything went A OK, then they returned to what they left the way they left it. But they'd never say it was that way. 

After my discharge from the Army, it was 6 years before I went back up to Maine. When I had to get back up in the deep & wide woods, to be with the country folk. In '77, I worked at the Lodge again for the summer bear season. In the fall, I went to take classes at the University of Maine Farmington, intending to use the GI Bill for funding. I already knew that the first VA check didn't come till after you've been in school 2 or 3 months. I expected to be paid by Finley and Martha for several months of work. I received a begrudging $150, after Fin had said it should be a hundred bucks. Not enough to pay my way into university classes. I took a job near Farmington as crew boss for an apple harvest, had a wonderful time there, nice apartment, cool landlord, good people all around me. After the harvest, I moved back to Maryland. 

Also, I had never been paid in full for working at the Lodge from November '68 to November 1969, when I entered the Army. 

People think of young relatives working for older relatives, who own a vacation lodge, as the young ones are washing dishes, mowing and cleaning up the yards, showing paying guests to their room or camping spot, sitting around a lot with their feet up on a porch rail - no hard, dangerous, multifaceted work. I willingly did all the mowing at the Lodge, because I had had a lawn mowing business as a teen in the Baltimore suburbs. At the Lodge, I fed and watered 7 hound dogs, 1 horse and 2 caged bobcats, plus cleaned up their poop, and felt good caring for the animals. Especially my buddy Bobby the Bobcat. Also, us men regularly performed building maintenance and upgrades. Plus minimal motor vehicle maintenance.

Also at the Lodge, we're talking about tracking wounded bears at night, no gun - that's illegal at night, just a flashlight and Buck Knife. Bears have 20 'Buck Knives', 5 claws on each paw. My bear skinning skills are something to be respected. I'd like to have copies of some of the many photographs, the several clips of old 8 mm movie footage, and the one video I know was shot of me skinning bears. I was firearms safety man at the Lodge's rifle range across the road for the hunters, and also when driving to the bear baits with hunters; then getting them safely in and out of the woods. One time, a freaked out Washington, D.C. rocket scientist nearly blew my head off with his hunting rifle. Good guides - like me - know funny, crazy, sad, tragic, heart warming, and/or life lesson stories of the surrounding countryside, the local people, the tiny towns, and the ways of the woods. 

Mid-week, a hunter would say something about Baltimore, or I would, and we'd talk about it, after they asked if I was really from there, not Patten, Maine. I'd laugh and ask, "Don't you realize I don't have a Maine accent?" I knew the area so well, and loved it and the Mainers so much, it seemed to some other out-of-staters that I lived there my entire life. Especially by the highly skilled way I handled a vehicle on the country roads and woods roads. There are very few roads, we traveled them a lot and knew them well. All newcomers, including when I had been new to the area, get scared by the way they drive up there. Most of us quickly realized the fastest drivers were highly skilled at it. Then we enjoyed it like an amusement park ride. Route 11 between Patten and the Lodge is a true roller coaster ride. Sure-as-hell was with me at the wheel. Most of the paying hunters considered riding with Finley, Gary, or me to be a whole lotta' extra added vacation fun. 

Maine drivers taught me driving techniques that allow me to drive in snow and on iced over days, when I am one of the few on the road. We 'walked' our Katahdin Lodge trucks, easy like, on muddy woods roads, so as not to make it rutted rough riding for us and our paying hunters. I have driven two wheel drive - on worn down tires - where most owners of four wheel drive - with new mud & snow tires - would become stuck. 

Katahdin Lodge got some of its bear bait, slaughter house leftovers, from Cry Brothers Meat Packing Plant - at the edge of Caribou. From the Lodge to Cyr Bros. was 71 miles on the odometer. I made that run in less than an hour, 4 times just after daybreak, which includes 35 miles of uninhabited woods. I had to slow down for several tiny towns, which meant I needed to travel 80-90 mph most of the time. It was rare to see another moving vehicle, so if I had wrecked in the woods, it would have been awhile before anyone came along to help me. If I was alive, which ain't likely. I have a written piece published about that high precision, oft wild and woolly, driving - Driving Northern Mainer Style

I heard Finley tell this twice, but I can't recall it all. He had been going to the State House in Augusta to fight for better roads up there, he established a one bear per hunter per season limit, but no cubs or females with cubs to be shot. In those times, Maine Indians were also often at the State House fighting for treaty rights and benefits they - legally & morally - have coming to them. They got free bus service to stores, college kids were given a credit card for purchasing a pair of shoes and other needs, and they had to stand up, speak and fight for it; sometimes, while Finley waited his turn to speak to the assembly. He hated Indians. 

One day, in the State House lobby, crowded with people waiting for the doors to be opened, so they could go in for session, were: citizens like Finley, politicians and their aids, paid lobbyists, news reporters, and one of the regulars, like a politician or an aid, bombastically says to Uncle Finley, "Well Finley! What are you down here for this time?" 

Finley's loud, forceful answer,"WELL I TELL YA'. I'M TIRED OF THE INDIANS AND THE (insert the N-WORD) ######S AND....." Man, I wish I could remember it or somebody'd heard it tell me the rest of that part, but the next part was, "and you should have seen them all moving away from me." He recounted it all with a great big chuckling smile all over his face and his hands and arms sweeping outwards, like he was Jim Crow Moses parting the waters of a segregationist coloreds only swimming pool - just to be mean to the people in the pool. 

Ever since I was a child, that Jim Crow crap stinks to high heaven to me. I was about 7, my parents took us downstate Maryland to an old time little restaurant that was known for great crab cakes. Worn out wooden screen doors days. You've seen the 1957 era guy behind the cash register portrayed in movies. Stout white guy, pre-air conditioning perspiration stained white shirt dingy tie, half chomped & smoked cigar, owns the place. A sign behind him reads, "We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone." 

I asked what that meant. My mother became a bit tense, touched me on the shoulder to try and stifle my curiosity, cash register guy sorta grins/sneers down at me. Then, Mom is sorta struck in the middle (yep, struck), she tells me, "It is because they do not serve colored people here." Now, I'm an American boy, been told many times to wash my hands before I set down to eat, so I asks, "Why, because you can't tell if they washed their black hands or not?" No answer. 

Up across the dining room, is a half wall of wood, then about a quarter of wall of glass. The "colored" cook is there where she can see and hear what is going on, can maybe look down and judge what the customers want or need from that advantage, she has her hands in a mixing bowl working up a batch of crab cakes. She's looking down at us, with hard life unfairly written all over her face, along with a look in her tender eyes of, "Young man, you are learning a serious evil in our lives." Inside my head, I hear, "If that colored woman can put her hands in our food, why can't she sit at a table next to my family with her family? It don't make sense." 

All I meant to do here was tell you about the will and Martha being a wicked - you know what - to our family - a wicked ..... with a w or b is the way I see it, but you may be more forgiving and not want to witness bad talk about the dead. The one decent thing that Martha would not have needed including some Clarkes in the will to do was notify our family that Uncle Finley died. That is low. Her nephew told me, months after Uncle Finley passed. Then I informed the rest of the family.

It was a near million dollar estate, but the lack of percentages of it for our side of the family doesn't lay waste to all our good memories and our individual love of the people and lands of Northern Maine. We'll have that till the day we pass on to the other side. 

Here is the link to my online photo album of Maine.
.

Fort Howard VAMC Property Development Status May 2016


The latest on the Ft. Howard VAMC property development, from County Councilman Todd Crandell, on May 23rd, is: 

"There has been no formal proposal to me by Mr. Munshell (current lease holder/property developer) beyond the Planned Unit Development application I rejected in September. (The PUD application included retail, hotel, and approximately 1500 housing units.) 

I have held several conversations with a developer who is attempting to work with Mr. Munshell. This developer has expressed a desire to build, “by right,” approximately 574 housing units, which is what the current zoning would allow. I am proud to have reduced the housing density by about two-thirds, however, I do not want to claim victory just yet. 

In order to bring both the developers and the VA to the table, I submitted the property as a comprehensive zoning map issue. Until this process is completed this fall, no building permits can be issued. I am using the tools and authority I have as Councilman to facilitate, after a decade of broken promises, the most reasonable and responsible development possible. We must understand though, that there are certain realities both financial and legal, that enter into this very complex situation, and they must be weighed as well."
.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Vietnam Vet Treated Right

This is the only true story of mine I ever fictionalized - changed the names and embellished the mother's character and a little more, but mostly it is how it happened. I was fortunate to live in Maine for awhile, where we all respected Vietnam Vets:

From Magic City Morning Star
D. R. CREWS
Jungle Dirt
By David Robert Crews
Sep 2, 2005 - 10:42:00 PM

In 1969, Jerry was a nineteen-year-old kid working as a bear hunting guide at his Uncle Dan’s and Aunt Cathy’s lodge in Maine. In July of that year, a twenty-one-year-old guy named Sam and his millionaire stepfather came up to the lodge, from Florida, for a one-week black bear hunt.

The stepfather had called the lodge on the phone to set up the hunt on Friday evening, only three days before he wanted the hunt to begin. He had talked to Cathy and said, “I’m sorry it’s such short notice darlin’, but what ever it takes I’m willing to pay. Anything you want, darlin’, anything you want. I’ve got me a million-dollar concern down here. Just book me and my stepson for next week. I’ll take care of ya.’”

When she informed Dan and Jerry that she had just booked two more hunters for the next week, Cathy clowningly grinned with faux pride and added, “Oh, they're from Florida, one is a millionaire and the other is his stepson. Be ready to roll out the red carpet.”

In 1969, millionaires were kinda rare, but Cathy was just kidding, because all of the lodge’s guests got the same great treatment.

Jerry was standing in the lodge’s dining room on Sunday afternoon, talking to a few of the lodge’s guest’s who had just arrived for their week long bear hunt, when he looked out the windows at a car that was pulling into the driveway. He saw that it was a big, long, dark blue, fairly new Cadillac with Florida tags on it and two men in. One man was obviously much older than the other.

“Hey Cathy,” Jerry called into the kitchen, “this looks like your millionaire comin’ in.”

As soon as they walked into the lodge, the older man immediately introduced himself and the younger man all round to the lodge staff and other paying hunters who were there in the lodge’s dining room. They were indeed the millionaire and his stepson, Sam.

Then, Sam stood there quietly and uncomfortably looking down at the floor and then back out the door as his stepfather bombastically announced, “Everyone, I don’t care if I get a bear or not, this hunt is for my stepson Sam here, he just got back from Vietnam and was discharged from the army on Friday morning.”

Jerry took one look at Sam, and felt horrified for the guy. The young guide knew that there was no way that a bear hunt could offer the kind of rest and recreation that a guy needed who had just, two and a half days before, returned from a year of hard, bloody, muddy fighting in the Vietnam War.

Jerry thought, “That man’s a millionaire! What a jerk! He should be paying for that guy to be in a luxury hotel room in Miami with two high priced call girls, cases of booze and all the great room service meals he can eat!”

Sam sat down at the long, heavy wooden table that ran the length of the dining room. The stepfather walked to the far side of the dining room and began talking to some of the other hunters who were over there relaxing and conversing. Jerry sat down across from Sam and carefully engaged him in conversation.

Jerry had a natural ability to make guests feel welcome at the lodge and to show them a good time in Maine. He loved people and what they could share with him about their lives. He was deeply concerned, though, about Sam’s ability to have a good time there. He knew that Sam had earned and deserved a good, relaxing rest, but he felt that six days in a tree stand stalking bears wouldn’t give the guy what he needed at that point in his life.

Jerry looked at Sam with deep respect, admiration and wonder because of Sam’s ability to make it through the mud and blood of Vietnam without a scratch. Two of Jerry’s high school buddies had been killed in Vietnam, and the nightly TV news reports of body counts and filmed scenes of tired, frustrated warriors had sickened him to the point that he wouldn't watch the news anymore. Also, like many other nineteen-year-old American lads at that time, he was expecting to receive his military draft notice any day. Consequently, Sam was especially impressive to him.

As Jerry sat there across from Sam, he noticed a lot about the young warrior.

Sam had the perfect physique for survival in a jungle war. He looked like someone had put a vacuum cleaner hose to the bottom of his foot and sucked out all of the excess fat and muscle from his body. He appeared to be drained of everything except what he needed to act lightning quick, on a deadly level, without any wasted effort. He was more in control of himself than a bobcat. He never made the slightest movement unless it was absolutely necessary.

The pure survival mode that he was still locked into was far too intense to have ended at the completion of his tour of duty in Nam.

Sam sat at the table, very quietly, with his hands folded, his face tilted over his hands, and his eyelids covering the top third of his eyes. He found it impossible to look at anyone longer than it took to answer or ask a short question. Jerry and some of the other folks in the dining room were saying friendly things to him, but none of that could make him feel welcome there. And he seemed to have lost his ability to smile.

For months he had been shutting new acquaintances out of his life due to the hard, cold fact that too many ‘F-ing New Guys’ that he’d met in the previous months had died soon after landing in Nam.

Suddenly, Sam’s entire body grew taught, and he came part way up off of his chair. He pulled his hands apart, palms down, fingers straight and vibrating like a tuning fork, the way that they did after discovering a trip wire to an enemy booby trap. He stared at his finger nails with wide, well focused eyes.

“I’ve still got dirt from the jungle under my nails,” he said, in a low tone, using tightly strung vocal chords.

He looked up and around the room with a terrified appearance on his face and frantically, almost pleaded, “Who can lend me a pair of nail clippers? Who can lend me a pair of nail clippers?”

Cathy was in the kitchen, and when she heard his strange tone of voice she came to the doorway of the dining room. She stood there looking at him for a second; it was obvious by her mannerisms and the serious, sincere look on her face that she understood what he had experienced in Nam.

Cathy fetched him a pair of nail clippers real quick.

As Sam cleaned his fingernails, one of the hunters, who was Jerry’s age, sat down next to Sam, facing sideways on the chair towards the quiet warrior and leaning intrusively into his personal space like a trusted confidant.

That hunter idiotically asked, “How many of them did you kill?”

Everyone there knew that he was inquiring about Sam’s personal body count of communist soldiers whom the war weary young man had dispatched to the great beyond, because the bear hunting hadn’t begun yet.

Sam automatically wrenched his body and, wincing, turned his face away from the idiotic inquiry; overpowering, painful, traumatic memories engulfed the poor guy like a personal-sized flash flood. He froze up still and quiet, like when it wasn’t prudent to start firing at the VC soldiers moving through the jungle night just a few feet away from his listening post.

Jerry was stunned by the appalling idiocy of that hunter who was military draft material, too. The young guide felt a sickening whirlwind of concern, as he searched his entire insides for the words to rescue Sam from his anguish. But he didn’t have enough worldly experience to know what to say.

Other people sitting or standing around the table were in a state of shock, and they were also quietly thinking fast for a way to help Sam.

Fortunately, Dan, who had been awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for kickin’ commie ass in the Korea War, was standing behind Jerry. Dan jumped in with, “It’s usually nighttime when you’re fightin’ and ya don’t see who you hit. And with the modern automatic weapons you just throw out a field of fire, so nobody knows who killed who.”

From around the table, other quietly appalled individuals agreed with what Dan said. Then they took the conversation in a different direction, away from the rigid, silent young man’s recent war trauma.

Meanwhile, the stepfather was busy proving to everyone that he was a big shot.

The stepfather was short, round, bald on top and kept a big fat cigar in his mouth. He wore a white business suit and a dark tie, the kind of outfit that’s tailored from lightweight material and made for wearing in southern summer heat when lots of perspiration flows. He talked with a slightly southern accent in a deep, abrasive voice. The character Boss Hog on the TV show Dukes of Hazard was a spittin’ image of the stepfather.

The stepfather was into big business, and he made sure that everybody knew it. There was only one phone at the lodge, and there was no privacy when using it. Ole Boss Hog loved it that way, because he could make several phone calls a day loudly and intrusively discussing his business deals. After every call he’d strut ‘round the lodge bragging about his business.

After two days of that, Dan laid down the law and told him, “These other hunters came up here to forget about their business for a week, we don’t wanta hear about yours. No more phone calls.”

The stepfather had bought Sam the hunting trip, ostensibly, as a welcome home present. Jerry and most of the other folks working or staying at the lodge, though, thought that the stepfather’s intent was to impress Sam’s mother and to travel around showing off his son the war hero. Sam was a hero, he had kept a lot of his friends alive in Nam, but his stepfather had never really been any kind of a father to him.

Sam couldn’t stand his abrasive stepfather. The man was his mother’s third husband and, like her second husband, he was supporting his businesses using the money that Sam’s father had left to his family when he died.

Sam went along on the hunt to please his mother. He didn’t want to go, but he was just too tired and worn down from outwitting death to care about anything but being back home alive. Sam was a good son to his mother, and she loved him as best she could. She had hoped that this hunting trip would encourage a father and son relationship to develop between the two of them.

Problem was, Mom tested high on the social register but low on common sense.

On Monday, the first day of the hunt, Dan and Jerry had Sam ride along with them, in the lodge’s pickup truck, out to a dirt logging road where their string of bear baits with the most recent signs of bear activity on them was located; a carload of other hunters followed behind them into the vast Maine wilderness. They were going after timid, smart, and beautiful, wild black bears.

It was about three o’clock in the afternoon. Dan drove and Jerry jumped out at every bear bait to take a hunter into the woods and show him his tree stand and give him some tips on how to hunt that particular bait.

They had put Sam on the first bait. The last hunter on that string of baits was to drive the car back out after dark, pick up the others hunters, that he had dropped off along the way, and meet the guides who would be waiting in the lodge’s pickup truck near the first bait. Dan told them that they were doing it that way so that the guides could know as soon as possible if any of those hunters had shot at a bear and it needed to be tracked and retrieved.

What Dan said was true, but he had put Sam on the first bait so that the guides could pick him up first. That way they could spend more time with him.

The Combat Veteran Dan knew that Sam needed to spend time with a few understanding buddies, not out in the woods alone waiting to kill a bear. Dan also knew that when nighttime fell it would probably make Sam feel like he had felt the previous Monday evening, when Mr.Charlie Cong was out there in the jungle waiting for it to get good and dark before attacking Sam and his friends.

After deploying all those hunters, Jerry and Dan talked a little about their day as they drove on back out the logging road. It was less than a half-hour since they had dropped Sam off, but there he was sitting comfortably in the grass at the side of the road.

Jerry thought, “Damn right, good man, ain’t no sense you bein’ out here on a bear hunt after huntin’ heavily armed Vietcong Guerrillas for a friggin’ year!”

Neither Dan nor Jerry said a word. Dan stopped the truck, and Jerry got out to let Sam into the front seat between them.

“Your rifle unloaded?” Jerry asked his new buddy.

Sam tilted his head side ways, with a questioning look on his face, and asked,  “Aren’t you going to go in and get the bear?”

Jerry and Dan looked at each other in amazement.

In their heads, they instantly deducted the five minutes or so it had to have taken Sam to climb down from his tree stand and walk out of the woods from the twenty-five or so minutes since Sam had been showed his tree stand and realized that for the first time in the history of the lodge a six-day bear hunt had ended in just fifteen or twenty minutes!

Over the years, a very small percentage of the lodge’s hunters had killed a bear on their first day out, but usually not until late in the evening when it is peak hunting time. Hunters went out to their baits in the early afternoon, so that they could settle into their tree stands before the bears started their evening grocery shopping. Not only that, some people went on bear hunting trips to the lodge two or three different times before they even saw a bear. Of those who saw one, only a third were sharp and fast enough to shoot one, and no more than another third of them did everything right and killed their bear.

The bear that Sam killed was probably coming into the bait that early to avoid a larger bruin, which most likely had previously chased the smaller bear away from that bait. Like all wild bears, it had also been on the lookout for its only predator, man. It was very carefully doing its best to ease in to the bait unnoticed, by man or beast, while looking, listening and sniffing for danger. It wasn’t just casually strollin’ in for a snack.

Sam had skillfully tuned into his surroundings as soon as he had climbed into his tree stand, and the wind was right for dispersing his natural odor away from the direction that the bear came from. The bear had walked into the bait from directly behind Sam. It is almost impossible for a human to catch sight of a bear that’s easing in from behind them, and wild black bears usually sha-boogie on outta sight when they see any movement that is out of sync with the natural flow of their surroundings. But, that bear had mistakenly walked up directly behind a hyper alert, superb jungle fighter.

Quicker than the bear could blink an eye, Sam had swung his rifle all the way around 180 degrees and killed it. That was a thrilling fact to the professional hunting guides. They had neither known nor ever heard of any hunter being fast enough on the draw to do that.

No doubt some well trained, battle-hardened Vietnamese Communist Soldier had met the same fate as that bear had during the previous week. Sam shot the bear dead so fast that it didn’t have time to react. One shot to knock it down, and two more for a sure, quick kill.

After they had retrieved Sam’s bear and were driving to the closest country store for a round of sodas and snacks, Jerry looked at Sam and thought to himself, “If God has ever taken a direct hand in a bear hunt, he did it for this guy.”

It seemed right to Jerry, even when he considered the bear’s loss.

Sam’s stepfather was loud and self servingly proud about Sam’s successful bear hunt. Most of the folks at the lodge, though, were genuinely relieved to see Sam’s hunt end so mercifully fast.

Unfortunately, Sam's mother’s hopes that this trip would create a bond between her son and her third husband were in vain. For the rest of that week, Sam didn’t pay much attention to his stepfather.

Those folks at the lodge who understood the Vietnam Veteran’s needs made sure that he had a good, peaceful time for the rest of that week. They showed Sam the best of backwoods hospitality. The women working in the lodge treated him like a visiting cousin who could never wear out his welcome. The guides and some of the paying hunters took Sam along with them on rides throughout the picturesque Maine countryside. Their new buddy began to regain his ability to smile again, and he gave them his slight, easy smile often enough during those last five days that they knew his trip to Maine wasn’t a waste of his time.

Sam was finally getting the rest and relaxation that he so richly deserved.

Ten years later, when Jerry told this story to some new hunters at Dan and Cathy’s lodge, Dan added, “That was the only time that one of our hunters ever got a 180.”

Copyright © 2005, David Robert Crews. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ft. Howard Scam Website Back Online

The 1st developer, who lost his lease on Ft. Howard in 2009, John D. Infantino has his scamming Bayside at Ft. Howard website back up online. The site has a downloadable Priority Application Form on it, for more victims to send in security deposits. The site also has a questionnaire that is designed to steal the life savings of potential victims. It is at the Preconstruction Survey link, and says: "Bayside is currently exploring the option of offering Condominiums or Life Estates based on interest expressed by Veterans. A Life Estate is the option to pay for ownership of a property for the remainder of your lifespan. Are you interested in alternatives to renting at Bayside such as condominiums or Life Estates?"

Why he has victims send deposits in - on written checks - to a P.O. Box, I don't know. It must have something to do with hiding the income or making it less traceable or some advantage to the scam.

The Maryland State's Attorney had  legally forced Infantino to take his website down. Infantino took security deposits from American Military Veterans who believed they would be able to move into new living units built by Infantino at Ft. Howard. Infantino never made any progress with the Ft. Howard deal, so the VA cancelled his lease in 2009.  He wasn't paying deposits back. So, in 2014, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler reached a settlement with Infantino on behalf of the vets who made security deposits. Infantino was told to pay back deposits. I don't know if he has. I doubt it. And the state's attorney's office refuses to tell me how many paid deposits and how many received refunds. Which has me suspecting they have something to hide. 

I have informed the proper employees of the Maryland State's Attorney's office twice and the VA once - about the site being back online. But the website keeps-on-fishin' for more victims. 

John Infantino was the first developer to sign a lease with the Department of Veterans Affairs for the VA's Fort Howard Medical Center property. The deal with Infantino was that he rehab most of ther buildings on Ft. Howard, build condos and apartments, create retail spaces plus commercial offices, and veterans have first choice in renting there. 

Unfortunately, John D. Infantino is an International Super Scammer. Newspapers, magazines, company and community newsletters around the word have articles written about what Infantino says he will do, but no publications ever say he did it. He meets with leaders of countries, states, cities and towns - telling them all individually that he will bring millions of dollars in financing to each proposed project. He never has any intention to rehab or build anything anywhere. He doesn't have the money, experience or manpower of employees required for any project. It don't matter to him, he takes what he can get and moves on. He uses the property development proposals & signed deals as financial references to convince people to lend him money. 

John David Infantino uses the public hype of his proposed projects as a good reference - loan security - in convincing people to loan him tons of money. And to give him credit on hotel bills, etc.., then he slides on out of there. He maintains websites that list his phony projects as successes, that lists various properties he claims to be managing, and very few of his scam victims check his references. Lenders think Infantino will earn millions of dollars from his massive development projects. He even does it in countries where his victims could jail, torture and publicly execute him. If he ever went back there.


Bayside at Ft. Howard:
http://www.baysidefthoward.com/

The Priority Application Form: 
http://www.baysidefthoward.com/pdf/app/bfh_priority_appform.pdf

The Preconstruction Survey;
http://www.baysidefthoward.com/pdf/news/PreconstructionSurvey_Fall07.pdf

The Maryland State's Attorney's press release on Infantino: 
https://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2014/060314.html
.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

County Police & Fire Departments Destructive Training at Ft. Howard

The Baltimore County Police and Fire Departments used the Ft. Howard Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center property for training grounds. If there's anybody whom we'd benefit from being allowed to run training exercises in and among the large old buildings of Ft. Howard, it is the people who protect us and save lives and property, it's the county police and fire fighters.

There is a problem, though: Allegedly, the training sessions required the participants to do damage to VA property. Why had the federal VA allowed the county police and fire to damage buildings that are slated for rehabbing by a property developer?

Some years ago, I was leaving a late afternoon doctor's appointment at the Ft. Howard VAMC Clinic and saw a large group of individuals hanging around over by a building. Some had county police uniforms on, some were in civilian attire, I noticed firearms on them, a K9 Cop was there. I realized it was a swat team. They were waiting for the VA medical clinic to close at 4:30, so clinic staff and patients would not be disturbed by police pretending to do hostage rescues, room to room searches for kidnappers, burglars, terrorists, etc ..

A year or two after seeing the swat team, I was talking about that with two men who live in the Ft. Howard civilian neighborhood just outside of the VA property. They said, "The swat team was using C4 explosives in there to practice forced entries by blasting doors open. They damaged 90 doors doing that. And the fire department cut a big hole in a beautiful old hardwood floor of one of those large 100-year-old houses. The hole's big enough to need a 4ft X 8ft piece of plywood to cover it."

Someday it may be me or you trapped in a collapsed, burning building and that floor cutting technique could be used by those fire fighters to rescue you or me. The police training teaches techniques that might be used by the cops to protect our lives or our loved ones.

But why were they allowed to do that to buildings slated to be rehabbed?

That's all I have on the subject. I never went into the buildings to look for those damages, so I cannot verify it today. But may be able to later.

If the Ft. Howard buildings were slated to be demolished, yeah man!, let the fire fighters and police train all over the place - busting up anything that they'd normally bust up when actually battling a fire, doing rescues or searching for bad guys. Hell! Let the fire department do controlled burns. Let the police shoot live rounds in the buildings and blast their way through with any explosives they need to practice with.
.