Plagiarism is an ugly thing but if I thought I could get away with it, I would copy my friend Carrie Stambaugh’s column on Page 3 in Friday’s edition of The Ashland (Ky.) Daily Independent and paste it in under my byline.
It was titled, “Finally, a turning of the season,” and it used words like so many building blocks to capture the feelings and color and aroma of fall and pass them on to the reader.
Leisurely walks in the woods, late night campfires, football, pumpkins, the peppers in her garden, turning off the AC and cranking open the windows – it was all there in less than a thousand words.
Of course, fall here in northeastern Kentucky and southeastern Ohio officially fell just before 11 a.m. yesterday, putting a little extra vigor into young and old bodies alike.
Yesterday was also observed as National Hunting and Fishing Day.
In Kentucky, hunting seasons on snipe, wood duck and teal opened this past Wednesday.
The wood ducks and other waterfowl have more to worry about than hunters in their struggle for survival. Predators such as marsh hawks and eagles kill ducks by plucking them out of the water or right out of the air, and coyotes and foxes stalk them while they’re feeding in fields.
Kentucky’s archery season on white-tailed deer is beginning its fourth week.
Ohio’s archery season on deer opens Saturday, while ruffed grouse and wild turkey seasons in the Buckeye state open Oct. 13.
In Kentucky, the shotgun season on wild turkey is not until Oct. 27.
But furbearer season on raccoons and opossums opens in the Bluegrass state Monday week, Oct. 1, as does the early crossbow season on deer and turkey.
ROUGH NAVY SEAS
Last Sunday’s column prompted a letter from a Grayson-area reader about Halsey’s Typhoon, a terrible storm that struck a World War II task force of U.S. Navy warships east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea in late 1944.
My column reminisced about my days in the U.S. Naval Reserves and of my encounter with a shark while fishing in Narragensett Bay off the shoreline of Newport, R.I.
It also discussed how, on July 30, 1945, in the South Pacific, the USS Indianapolis, a heavy cruiser, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship went down quickly and about 900 of the nearly 1,200 enlisted men and officers on board were cast into the sea, hundreds of miles from nowhere.
When rescue came five days later, only 321 sailors had survived, with many of those nearly 600 who died in the water falling victim to vicious schools of hungry sharks.
The reader, Earl Stewart of Friends Branch, Grayson, who served with the Navy in WW II, said 170 ships were involved in the mid-December 1944 typhoon and from them 193 sailors were drowned.
“It was not against an enemy force but against nature as Admiral (William “Bull”) Halsey’s Third Fleet was on its way to retake the Philippine Islands from the Japanese,” Stewart said.
He said he recently located three sailors who were in the storm.
“One’s from Catlettsburg, one from Kenova and one from Louisa. We meet at Bob Evans in Cannonsburg and share our World War II experiences,” Stewart said.
I understand there’s at least one survivor of the Indianapolis living in Scioto County, and I’m hoping he will contact me.
Getting back to the typhoon, according to the Wookieepedia information site on the Internet, a total of 790 lives were lost because of the storm.
The storm raged for three days and nights with high winds and monstrous waves. It capsized and sank three destroyers. Nine other warships were damaged, and more than 100 aircraft were wrecked or washed overboard.
The location and direction of the typhoon reported to Halsey were inaccurate, according to the Wookieepedia site, and Halsey unwittingly sailed the Third Fleet into the heart of the typhoon.
Ah, yes, and back to my illustrious career in the U.S. Naval Reserves…I was a seaman apprentice on a ship, the name of which escapes me, but I believe it was a destroyer, either that or the smaller destroyer escort.
We were off the East Coast, the first week of September, 1953, sailing between Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod, when Hurricane Carol, packing peak winds of 150 mph, came roaring up the coast and hit us.
The ship was manned chiefly by inexperienced reserves and its survival has to be classified as a miracle. At one point the ship, which was kept afloat by about five regular Navy sailors, was reported to be listing at 55 degrees. Much more than that and they said we could have gone bottom up.
Ronnie Cole, who owned the Cole Lincoln/Mercury dealership in Portsmouth, was one of my fellow reservists on board. He spent 36 hours strapped in his rack, moving only occasionally to throw up in a bucket.
I later wrote a poem about him titled “Hurricane Cole.”
I didn’t fare much better than Cole. I had radio watch. I dressed and made my way to the galley, where I wrapped one arm around a steel support post and held on long enough to down a pork chop on white bread.
I made my way up the ladders toward the radio shack, bouncing off bulkheads as the buttoned-up ship plowed through waves taller that it.
I became violently seasick before reaching the radio shack, vomited in my white hat, and staggered back down to the sleeping quarters, where I strapped myself into my rack and prayed.
The storm later left a lot of destruction in New England, where it washed boats ashore and killed four people. One man was killed in Nova Scotia trying to save his yacht.
A storm surge of more than 14 feet swept up Narragensett Bay.
NICE TRAIL HIKE
Friday will bring an opportunity to walk the woods that inspired writer Jesse Stuart in his many published short stories, novels and books of poetry.
The two-day annual Jesse Stuart weekend, held in Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, features a hike through the nearby Jesse Stuart Nature Preserve.
Hikers will meet at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the lodge lobby and Bud Vanzant will lead them up a gentle trail to Seaton’s Ridge and Old Opp’s Cabin, made famous in Stuart’s novel, “The Good Spirit of Laurel Ridge.”
The all-free program will begin Friday evening at 7:30 in Conference Room # 1 at the lodge and a reception, featuring book signings by authors, will be held there from 8:30 to 9:30.
The Stuart Weekend continues through Saturday with David Palmore and Stacy Nelson leading a tour through W-Hollow, past the Stuart Home. Participants will meet at 8:45 a.m. in the lodge lobby to board the yellow school bus for the tour.
A visit to the Jesse Stuart Foundation Headquarters in Ashland is scheduled for 1:30 to 5 and the musical drama “Songs of a Mountain Plowman” will be presented at 8 in the cultural center at Raceland/Worthington High School.
Jesse Stuart Weekend participants will travel by bus to this event. It will leave the lodge at 7:30.
As of Saturday there were still a few rooms left at the lodge. Reservations can be made by calling the lodge office at (606) 932-3619.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or Gsamwriter@aol.com.