Professors and Doctors and Coaches and Me.

April 15, 2016

Professors and Doctors and Coaches and me.

When I’m called “coach”; do I still do an up-take? Do I still feel as If I’m a fraud? Who do I compare me with – thee? Or, when did I change from Mr. to coach.

I was a young college student in the first years of the 1960’s at U.N.M. (an experience that only lasted for 3 years as I left in 1964). I met with my college advisor to review my schedule my 2nd year. I addressed him as Doctor……. And then said,

“or should I say Professor?”

His response was, “Professor, everyone is a Doctor”!

Many later and after many other adventures, travels, and jobs I was faced with being called Mister Lockridge and then lo and behold, I became Coach!

If that weren’t enough, just becoming “Coach” I fooled a lot of others and was elected to the board of directors of the NM High School Coaches Association a number of years back.

HAH, I say! Not enough yet! Nope, because I’m now the president of the NMHSCA until July of 2016!

Now, back to the story.

I often in my early years as a teacher (or, Mister Lockridge) associated with the athletics at Maxwell Schools in many guises; bus driver, score keeper, volleyball and baseball official, Chairman of the 1A athletic district, and even helping out with coaching. Inadvertently, other people/coaches/fans would call me coach – I would carry a whistle and clipboard (Peg once said you could get into any gym/or field that way) – and think I was one; but I knew better. I was very fortunate though and did learn a lot about the profession by being with real coaches (Chav). This did serve me well in years to come.

My first year at Pojoaque in 1982-3 I asked to help with track and became (Ta Da!) volunteer assistant track coach (unpaid but hey, with a title).

I became assistant coach after that and then head boys track coach. (Again, TA DA!)

When the position of cross country coach opened I asked John Rivera our A.D. for it and he granted it to me. Most of the boys and girls were kids I also had in track so no real revelation on being their coach. And since this was a new venue for me to appear in coaches from other schools called me “coach” at CC meets. Wow, did I ever strut (you know I didn’t; I wouldn’t know how to – I knew I wasn’t really coach yet, or at least I didn’t feel as if I were). I wasn’t always sure I knew what I was doing and knew there was much to learn.

So now, after more than 40 years of association as some being some kind of a coach I don’t react with too much guilt when I hear “hey, coach Lock”; it’s me!

Now the real point. I’ve served on the board of the coach’s association for a number of years with many of the greats of our profession. I attend annually as many as 3 or 4 clinics and conventions to learn and serve. But WHEN, on when did I feel  good about being called “Coach”? At the summer clinic of 2015 I was talking to Jim Hulsman (Yep, I’m a name dropper) a great coach and real legend in NM and nationally recognized. I’ve been on the board with him and have been able to sit with him and talk of sports in the South Valley where he first started coaching and where I went to school from the first grade on though I of course never knew him in those days of the 50’s and early 60’s. As we parted that particular day at the convention and clinic Coach Hulsman said to me, “see you later Coach”; and I just sort of glowed and reveled in that comment.

Nuf Said!


Skeptic 1

February 18, 2012

I become very aware of my cynicisms of our world with the presidential election of 2000. I so feared what would happen to NM were the results to show that we had not gone for George Bush. I feared some kind of (probably valid) retribution. So, I wanted to vote against him but feared what would happen then and knew I might have to vote for him! After all was said and done, 1. I don’t remember how I voted and, 2. What with the events of “9/11” I guess he forgot about us and turned to the rest of the country – and the world – to “screw-up”!

I probably should have gone a bit further back to the inauguration day of Reagan as the Iranian hostages were released. We knew there had to have been some kind of “conspiracy” involved! But the “theatrics” and “charisma” and hope-for-the-future of Reagan set out doubts aside.

I know my trust in the president has to go back to my dad and President Eisenhower. Ike had been a career military hero. My dad had likewise been a career military hero, at least in our eyes. He had served 30 years in the Army Air Corps and Air Force from 1925 to 1955 and I felt such a great trust in his judgments.  Might have been a bit of fear as a factor but still he seemed to always be right. Many years later we would become aware of some of his imperfections.

I reflect on how this “trust” of our leading politicos has led me to change the course of my life, or at least to the change in my attitude and of my personal philosophy. I so believed in our righteousness as Americans in that we would always do the best for the world itself or for American interests that we could do no wrong! Korea, though not a war, was at least a war against real aggression and a probably-real -threat towards a greater war. But history seems to more-and-more expose the real reasons that an extended involvement in Vietnam was used to cover up more deeply held “secret” agendas and cover-ups. Unfortunately the agendas’ of presidents and congressional members and corporation profits don’t ever justify the destruction and death that ensued. This episode in Americans giving their lives to protect us at home is a name still reflected in the defense of why our foreign policies still are urged to the benefit of industry and political agendas. But we innocent ones trusted our leaders so much that we, myself included, joined the military to serve our country. I believe in our country so much that I followed by dad’s and my two older brothers into military service.

And we followed our leaders’ as they protected our interests by invading Granada, and Panama, and an involvement into wars in Iraq, twice! A reflection on history will show us more and more of the “real” interests we had in the Persian Gulf area and of the influence of leaders (religious, political, business) in that area are the real reasons for our multi-trillion dollar wars; wars started under false assumptions by knowing leaders and leading to so much death and destruction! And using the platitudes of patriotism and keeping us safe at home never excuses the death and injury and sacrifices of so many of our patriotic American men and women. Almost destroying our economy, almost destroying our standing in the eyes of the world (and we still have to live in this world), almost destroying our political system, and almost destroying the trust we have of one-another here in the U.S. does not exempt these many political and corporate leaders from responsibility and guilt in their self-serving agendas!

Where do I go from here? Who do I trust? The old saying goes; “I only trust thee and me, and I’m not to sure of thee”!

February 18, 2012

I’m not a skeptic about religion and my personal relationship to God. I’m a cynic about how our world treats religion today in this election world we are in.
I used to make a little joke about churches, the building and, I guess, even the institution. As we would walk the streets of Las Vegas NM and would pass a church edifice I would say that we had to watch what we said lest it enter into the building and we would offend the “church”; that is if the door were open. If the door was closed then it was ok ‘cuz God couldn’t hear us! And of course that is so far off of my own personal belief in God. I really don’t fear a “wrathful” God else we’d all be long gone to Hell a long time ago! No, our God has to be quite a person (Guy! Gal! – crap, whatever!). And this is the God of my choosing; the God I like to pray to; the God that has to be so very, very forgiving ‘cuz we seem to really mess up so much. Gosh, just looking at this particular election season and all that is being said and done in the name of religion (not God, oh by the way!) I can see how a lot of people/politicos/analysts/and so on would really be in deep trouble messing up what should really be an election and not a comment on their personal (and mixed-up) religious beliefs were God to take them seriously. Why in the world people don’t take on my account of religion in the world is beyond me!
For instance, I don’t ever subscribe to a belief that fanatical zealots who claim to know the word of God as they appear on the pulpit, the television, the news shows, the paid for TV shows on every channel, the state houses and even the U.S. Congress have any real idea of how God means for us to interpret the word of the Bible. I mean, most interpretations are just that; interpretations of a book that has been translated to fit a personal agenda or dogma (are they the same?). I went to Sunday School (at Edith Street Baptist Church (with the approval of my Jewish Mom, another story, ok?) and Sunday services and I did read the Bible and listen to the sermons and, my Heavens, I’m just not sure they were always correct! I mean, if the stories were anything other than myths and just, stories, to prove a point, than the biblical world sure didn’t look anything like our world. And the people of the Bible didn’t look like our people!
So how do I know that something is wrong? Well, I just listen to the crap coming from the mixing of politics and morals and religion and societal relations to what I believe our world should be then I know why I’m right and somebody is wrong! Another’s religious beliefs cannot be allowed to determine family matters, or marriage, or taxes, or freedoms, or contraceptives, or military engagements, or political elections, or how I live my life in private! If the religious institutions want unjustifiable privileges such as freedom from the same taxes I must pay then they must subscribe to conditions that restrict them from intrusion into the freedoms that a society must hold dear!
Freedoms: to learn what is proper by what our standards are; to teach what is proper to succeed in the secular world; to have family relationships based on our standards; to separate completely from interference from secular laws; to not gain political power, monetary gain, nor undue influence due to the very special part they hold within our world.
God has not endowed any individual or group of today with special rights, insights nor privileges beyond Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – and were they to exceed what is limited to them then they must be held to account. I know all about God; and if you are in doubt yourself or are in error in your beliefs then please, by all means, check with me! I do have the answers and by the way, they are quite obvious and simple!

Where I’d like to be for Christmas

December 23, 2011

Where I’d like to be for Christmas

I want to be in Northern New Mexico for Christmas. I love being here with the cold and the snow and the mountains and hills covered in white.
I love being here so I can go to a Pueblo on Christmas morning and enjoy the celebration dances; and the thoughts they engender in me of the day.
I love being in Santa Fe and the lights and farolitos and cold and snow. I enjoy going into stores and noting the smell of red chile.
I enjoy the biscochitos and tamales and empanadas and all the foods and drinks of our Christmas here in
I enjoy the aura surrounding my friends (which seems to be everyone I meet anywhere at this season) as they greet me with a ‘feliz navidad’.
I love the lights and farolitos of Espanola on Christmas Eve. I like being in Santa Fe for the decorations on the Plaza and along the Canyon Road area – and everywhere else in Santa Fe!
Oh, did I mention the smell of fireplaces and burning pinon wood? Ahhh!
I think I too love to spend money at this time of the year and buy candy and cookies and gifts for others; and of course it is an issue of ego as it makes ME feel so good – and that’s called the Spirit of Christmas!
I love the Posadas in the Plaza in Santa Fe on the Sunday evening and singing carols and food and drink in the Museum of the Palace of the Governors.
I really, really enjoy the Mass and Posadas at the little mission churches like at Truchas (thanks Therese, for taking us there a few years ago!) and the really special true feelings of brotherhood and religion of the season.
Yep, I love being here, home, in Northern New Mexico for Christmas!

Where I’ve been for Christmas

December 23, 2011

Where I’ve been for Christmas

I like to remember the many different places I’ve been for Christmas over my 68 years.
Of course I love every year I’ve enjoyed here in Northern New Mexico and look forward to this as my favorite place to be.
My earliest, but very faint, memories are of our family being with my dad in Germany as he served in the U.S. military as he occupied that very war-torn and devastated country – 1946 to 1949. I was very young but always remember the snow and cold of the mountains of the town of Bad Orb. I remember our house keeper giving us little ones dark bread smeared with butter and sugar! Oh, what a treat that had to have been. Of course our family being one of a U.S. Army officer had more than most or all that the Germans had at the time but this wasn’t a thought to enter the mind of a 4-year old at the time!
And then the memories of Christmas in Albuquerque from 1949 – the early ‘60’s. And the that which I remember was really, really hoping for snow on Christmas Day (just like that song!). And usually we didn’t!
But I really remember most, too the cookies and candies made by my sisters and my Mom. Decorated sugar cookies and divinity candy and canes and – wow, break time as I find some treats!!!!
In those early days in the ‘50’s we drove around the Albuquerque Country Club area – so decorated with luminarias (this was Alb, remember!) and lights. Later, as a teen, I put dozens of luminarias (ok, ok, farolitos) around our house in the South Valley. I have always been proud that I had decorated our home in that manner – so traditional and we really didn’t have other decorating traditions at that time.
Our tree was a wonder, always! We had so many decorations brought back from our years in Germany. Special lights and really wonderful ornaments! I would that we had them now – they’d be worth a million!

I spent two Christmas’s in Panama where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1964 to 1966. I don’t remember being especially home-sick – I guess that one must learn to enjoy wherever one happens to be and not wish for something else! But these were two really good times. I remember having been in Panama for such a short time when we celebrated in 1964. A group of other volunteers joined with some local American priests and missionary nuns as we went to hospitals and such and sang Christmas Carols and greeted people. This was fun, and we decorate trees and homes; hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are making others feel good – and again, great for your own ego/feelings!

I did get to spend one Christmas season in New Jersey and Connecticut while I was in the Army in 1966. Mostly I remember the cold and snow and sledding in the hills in Connecticut. Winter/Christmas in New England is an experience that is to be enjoyed!

I was in Luxembourg with my brother and his family in 1967 as I served in the Army in Germany. The fun of this particular Christmas was of the traditions of this place. The wonderfully decorated tree that used actual candles as decorations though lit only once and with great care! And the arrival of the local St. Nick in old, traditional attire unlike our current one of Santa as he delivered gifts to the two very young boys of the house-hold. This was so very much fun as we drank and ate and enjoyed the kids as they were overwhelmed by their holiday gifts!

One of the most fun times we had for Christmas was going into the mountains for trees. We lived in Maxwell, NM for 10 years and had many great friends and memories there. One of our “duties” as town officials was to go for the town-tree. We went into the mountains above Raton into an area owned by the local coal company, and with their approval, to seek out the perfect tree! This was fun, and work! Slogging through snow and up and down ridges ‘til, ahhhh, the perfect 25’ tree! By the way, never select a huge tree and have to haul it a great distance to the road! The tree we would bring to town was erected by the local electric coop and decorated by the community. This was in reality quite an honor and an experience for Peg and me! OOOOPS, except for the time we ran into a “road-block) – a real Forest Service road block! And then trying to explain who we were and where was our permit and why did we also have a couple of un-tagged trees (well, you know – for us and friends!). Finally with a few phone calls to the coal company and such we were released! Now, a great experience; then, a lot of fear of jail!

And now, Christmas in my classroom:
Any tree, real or artificial would do and the decorations were only those things that kids had brought over the years; cookies and ornaments and lights and such. The tree was actually the basis for the “Charlie Brown” tree, I think! But the heart of the season, for me, was that tree, especially after my divorce and having a solo season – so thanks, all you kids, you always did (and still do) made my Christmas!


August 8, 2011

Quit telling kids that they “can’t”! Let them try or else they’ll always be afraid to try or they will depend on someone else to tell them what they can do! I know these things, I’ve been there, failed and have gotten up and tried something else.
Children are often placed in a position that is established by the interests of parents, of schools, of teams, of friends and so on. They are then expected to fill that “slot” and either succeed because the one that chose them is of great premonitions or else, they fail, and they are not able to understand the concept of success and of greatness. Then that’s it! You are not expected to be good; you are allowed to be mediocre and not expected to be able to contribute. You’ve been tested and found wanting; at least in that particular endeavor/sport/class/job and on and on.
But wait a minute! Let them try twice, or three times! Or, let them quit and move on to something else. Not everyone will be the great ball player that a parent was. Then let them try another sport; or better yet, let them go on and play in band! And I’m sorry if that embarrasses you! Allow that child to mess up and go on to whatever is next. You cannot stop the creativity of that person; allow that child to be a great bike rider or a great “grease monkey” at the garage. Encourage the child to take art or shop in school. Don’t make the kid have to just be in sports. And if the only thing for that kid is to find a job then that’s ok! Make sure that the job is an experience that will lead to investigation into any other direction or area for the child.
The role that a parent, teacher, coach, friend, peer, or whatever plays in this person’s life only means that the position they hold is to give the opportunity for that kid to be a success. The boss or whoever cannot make that kid a success, they can only give them the opportunity to succeed. If “ego” gets in the way then that is not a positive but rather a block in life! And we struggle so much without having “blocks” to contend with. And the fragile adolescent needs to have opportunity and positive reinforcement rather than discouragement. This mind will not tolerate many discouragements before it gives up and takes the easy way out. Lack of recognition of success too often would lead to no attempt whatsoever; absolutely intolerable.
I’ve understood failure. And it has been failure in my own eyes or those of another. I’ve failed because I followed the “wrong” path and didn’t become the engineer or the businessman that I was expected to be. I was expected to go to college and become the person that my father and his other children hadn’t become. And of course I’ve matured enough in my 6th decade to understand what he wanted of me, and of my siblings but it still doesn’t ease completely the excruciating memory for me. I wanted to not take math and science; I wanted to be in band and in orchestra. Of course I understand that this would be a career that would most likely not lead to monetary rewards but, it is what I wanted! But I’ve been fortunate in my life that music and theater have been a large part of an avocation for me, and has provided me with many years of pleasure and success.
The child must be able to try and succeed; whatever that may mean. The memories will be of the pleasures of having tried and enjoyed rather than of not having tried and then not having memories. When asked of my regrets in my life I think of none (almost, but they are of no consequence) and only can recall of the joy of what I’ve done. I’m glad I’ve been able to do so many things and have been able to have gone to so many places and have known so many and varied friends. I am lucky to have had no one discourage me from trying and I have no regrets from having done! I almost always have looked forward to “tomorrow” and not regretted the past. How unlucky is the one who hates what he has to face every day. Please, don’t let the child become one of these!

My very own cars!

June 8, 2011

And again, my own cars; Because I have this mental picture that people try to emulate their car (or, act cool, just like their car!) I’ve never bought that muscle car or that sports car or that hot rod or….. well, you get the idea. In fact the first car that I “owned” was the ’50 Chevy that came to me from my maternal grandfather through my parents. I had the use of this family car after I first became a driver and turned 16. My parents bought a 1960 Plymouth and I got to began taking the Chevy to school. Needless to say (so I’m saying it) I immediately became quite “cool” (can you imagine the nerd that I was in a ’50 Chevy!). That car went to UNM in 1961 and saw a lot of beer adventures in the Bosque in the North Valley and in the Juan Tabo wilds of those years; there were no houses and roads up there in those days. In 1963 I purchased the pride of my entire life, even ‘til now! This was a 1957 VW bug; 36 hp engine, small rear window, small rear tail lights, no gas pedal – a wheel served that function, no gas gauge – just an emergency tank, and the pride that it was mine and I had the same character that it had! I loved that car and still love the memory. I had inherited $500 from my grandfather’s estate so went to the VW dealer on Wyoming in ABQ. And, using the Chevy as a trade-in (for $50, yep, $50) and floated a bank loan for the rest at $25 a month I bought my $900 VW. I loved that car and the “walter Mitty” in me felt like it was an XKE Jag! Sky blue, and we were so cool! Sadly, had to sell it when I left U.S. in the summer of ’64 to go to Panama as a Peace Corps Volunteer. R.I.P, little blue car! Wipe the tears and go on! So a few years pass and I’m in Germany as a G.I. with a few dollars and the age and grade to own a P.O.V. (privately-owned-vehicle). One of my platoon leaders was rotating back to the states and sold me his ’61 Plymouth Valiant for $200. Again, I was in heaven. This too was a great-character car. By the way, I sold it for $200 two years later when I went home. This car took me all over Western Europe. I often snuck over to Luxembourg to visit my brother and his family where they lived after he got out of the Air Force. We all traveled in the Plymouth through France and Switzerland to Spain. I slept in the back seat with a blanket while they slept in a tent. These were fun times and I’ll write about them sometime later. Don’s wife Chris was from Luxembourg and spoke French, Italian, German, Dutch, English and of course, Luxembourgish. We could travel everywhere! I also traveled all over parts of Germany in this car, often with other G.I.’s as company. We spent several trips to Bavaria and to Munich during Octoberfest! In 1969, 3 of us took the Plymouth by ferry to England landing at Dover. We drove all over England and Scotland and then spent a week or so in London. The car was a jewel. Most guys would spend their money on cameras and Hi Fi stuff but I went to places and saw things. I hated leaving the car when I ended my 3 years in the Army but, life goes ON! And ON this time was the 1964 Dodge Convertible I bought in Connecticut. I was with my oldest sister who had just been widowed in 1969.I got out of the service in New Jersey and went to Hartford to visit JoAnn and went to a car dealer. I told the car salesman that I had $500 so he found me a car that fit the bill! Almost a lemon! I did drive it across the country to the Texas coast and then to Las Vegas NM where I eventually went to school at NMHU. I had traveled across the country with all my belongings in the trunk of the car. I won’t say I loved this one but it did have character (flaws!). A push-button transmission, a top that didn’t go up or down, but, it did go, though I never knew how fast as the speedometer never worked. That used car salesman in Connecticut, boy did he see me coming! I eventually gave the car to a friend’s son and he turned around and sold it to a guy for $60. By then I was driving a $350 1965 Chevy Chevelle with a 283 cubic inch engine. And this was quite the car. I had been working for a propane company in Las Vegas, NM so we converted it to run on propane and the boss charged me just for hardware. I paid 11cents a gallon for propane to be use as “heating fuel” at that time. We took trips in that car including to Kansas several times. We went to Mexico on our honeymoon! I drove that car for years and finally gave it to my niece Serena when she graduated from Robertson HS. She drove it all through college at NMSU. Oh, by the way, I had bought a Vespa for $75 while I was at NMHU and rode it for quite a few years. It had a 125cc two-cycle engine. I even met Peg when I was on it driving around Highlands. We rode that thing all over Las Vegas over the years. Peg inherited a 1950 Willy’s from her dad and we took it to Maxwell when we were teaching there. I took my boy scout troop out to the local lakes for camping trips. I wasn’t a very good leader, I let one of the boys eat raw bacon because he wanted to! And I would take a group of kids out of the classroom and drive around town going over the history of the town and of the various houses and buildings; didn’t take long to cruise the town as the population wasn’t too much over 400! And we did go lots of places in that Willys as it was such a fun vehicle! Maggie ended up with it in Los Alamos and lost it in the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000. She said she got as much in insurance then as they had paid for it in 1950! They bought the Willys originally in 1950 when Peg was born (June 26, 1950) as that was when the Korean War started and Jack, Peg’s dad, had memories of WWII and not being able to buy cars! I bought a 1967 Ford F100. We paid $1000 for this truck to a local Maxwell farmer. It had a 3-speed on the column. It was a work-horse of a truck. We drove it for a long time in Maxwell and later when we moved to Los Alamos. It served well as a country vehicle. It could go most anywhere and could carry most anything. It had lots of imperfections but allowed itself to be abused. I carried lots of loads of firewood in that truck. I finally sold it when it was one of several vehicles I had at the time. This was the days before SUV’s so being in a “tall” vehicle next to sedans was a nice feeling. Oh, of days bygone!!!! And then, there was the 1977, orange, diesel V.W. Rabbit! We drove it from East Coast to West Coast; from the Gulf Coast to, well, everywhere. In the days of 55 M.P.H. speed limits we could get 55 mile per gallon! That little car was so basic being an early VW diesel. Couldn’t get air or electric windows and so on. But it ran and ran. It even got hit on all four corners in minor mishaps! I used it for the first years I taught at PHS. The kids would lift it over barriers and move it around. After almost 170 thousand miles I sold it to one of the students for about 2 or 3 hundred dollars. He’d pay when he had money. I won’t tell you his name or how long he drove it but I think he tried to do lots of “4-wheeling” in it. R.I.P. little Rabbit! Then a couple of non-descript vehicles, serviceable but not notable. An ’85 Camry, and it was actually a good car. An ’81 Rabbit diesel pickup came along and it was a lemon. It had a 5 speed stick transmission that would not pull that little truck! I did like the truck for the ease in access over and into the bed. But sitting Inside of the cab was the worst pain I’ve felt in a car! I eventually bought a succession of very cheap used cars. I bought them from friends out of necessity of having affordable transportation. I bought a Datsun/Nissan diesel from one of our former teachers. It didn’t do too badly for a lot of miles. Then along came the yellow Subaru wagon. It actually was a good vehicle and I drove it a long time. It was very serviceable but again, non-descript. And finally, the little Ford Escort. I paid about 1500 dollars for it. It was pure basic! No power steering or brakes, a 3-speed manual transmission, a radio and, and that was it! I got $400 trade-in (which I demanded!) when I bought my current ’04 Blazer. I did have a ’95 Saturn that did well and traded it in for my beautiful ‘2000 Honda Accord. And this was one of the best buys I’ve had. I was still in shock over the loss of my home from the Cerro Grande fire in the Jemez in ‘2000. I took by car broker, Matt M. with me to Abq and we test drove several cars and then just fell for the Accord. I really enjoyed the luxury of leather power seats and so on but again, got the itch to buy so sold it to a friend and bought the ’03 Acura that Matt M. (my car broker!) had found for me. He test drove it before I ever saw it, called me and said I had to buy this car; and he was right! It still sits in my garage leaving only when I take it out for parades and such!! Of course I put a few miles on it. I don’t use it much as I’ve got the last car Matt got for me, the ’04 Blazer that I bought used and have put over 100,000 miles on. It serves as my office and my storeroom for cross country teams and I just about can’t get along without it. Hey, I’m shopping now for whatever may come next. I like to think of what’s out there and what I want to drive: Maserati, Bugatti, Harley, Beamer, – who know’s!!! Yeah, I did buy an 20 – year old motor home that is really neat except, at 6 miles to a gallon………….!


May 30, 2011

My encounter with Manuel Noriega in 1965. Maggie wanted to hear more of my activities while a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama from 1964-66. I was stationed in the small town of Remedios on the eastern edge of the Province of Chiriqui that bordered with Costa Rica. Remedios was between the main highway bisecting the country and the mangrove swamps on the Pacific side. One of my activities as a rural volunteer was community development. We had several building projects in nearby communities and into the ‘Reserva Indigena’ into the mountains. In the village of Las Lajas we were building a community center to house the doctor when he visited every two weeks as well as a meeting room, a room for the local La Guardia (police man) and an office for local officials. Las Lajas was a very rural mountain village reached by a steep unpaved dirt/graveled road. This was a slick road in the wet season. Our construction was to be by blocks we made at the site of sand and dirt and a bit of cement made with the Cinva Ram machine that used muscle pressure to create blocks. To get the sand to the community required a truck. We had no access to such a construction vehicle and thus, the trip into the capital of Chiriqui, David, to the office of the local Guardia Nacional Cuartel. This officer at the time was the now-infamous Manuel Noriega. A local Peace Corps volunteer in David, Dennis Bates, arranged the meeting and went with me. We were ushered into Noriega’s office and felt his presence. He was in charge and all of the underlings showed such deference to him and yes, we were a bit intimidated and in awe. We gave him our request which he granted; the use of a large-U.S. Military issued- deuce and a half with a crew to help. My greatest impression of the meeting was as the various troopers would enter and “click” the brass studs on their heels. What a sound to startle and scare! It took several weeks to arrange the truck and our crew of men from Las Lajas to meet to load the truck. Las Lajas was some 60 miles from David. We met at a river and loaded the truck with sand (by shovel – try it sometime!). As it was in the rainy season we ended up not being able to actually get the sand up to the village that day but were successful later on and the building was constructed. And so, my audience with the future “dictator/drug lord” of Panama that we deposed in in our invasion of Panama in 1988. My experience with local politicians began!

Beginning of Cars

May 25, 2011


Oh how we love our cars! They are central to all the chases in movies and on t.v. The muscle car in movies has always been lusted at. Even the protagonists of today’s flics drive muscle cars (think of the hero of the series about drivie ins, dives and diners!).  The silent films of old by Mack Sennit and the Charlie Chaplan films often had old, cool cars and chases. Ah, the coolest cartoons of old (for the traditionalists in us – Walt Disney and Merry Melodies) feature animated cars and trucks with such character. Even the modern movie series entitled Carz has lovable and memorable autos. The several vehicles I own today have much character to them – character that I probably give them more than they have derived from metal and plastic.

I’ve wanted to write about my favorite car that I’ve owned or used in my life. However, I can think many memories of most of them that this may become a book sized effort rather than a short essay.

The first cars in our family that I remember are the ’50 Ford and the ’49 Buick. The Ford had to have been an almost new car but we didn’t keep it too long. I do remember it on a trip to the Grand Canyon about 1950 or so. I remember sleeping on the back shelf behind the back seat. We must have traded it off for the ’49 Buick about that time. This would have been a necessity for our family what with 5 kids. I don’t ever remember being crowded in it with a bench front seat and a large back seat. I remember it as being green. And I remember sitting/laying on the hood in evening of a summer night on the cool metal of that long hood. What a car! A lot of class for that era. That Buick served us on a number of trips into the mountains of northern NM as we went into some rough country for extended camping/ fishing trips in the ‘50’s when daddy was still in the military. We always took it and the notable pickup that our dad overhauled without machine tools. I guess he could keep anything running!

Penelope was named by my sister Joann from Homer’s Greek epic – she was  the wife of Ulysses. This was a 1935 Chevy pickup that daddy bought for very little and rebuilt the engine in the evenings and weekends. This vehicle had more character than can be described! So, I’ll try to describe it anyway! My dad seemed to always be keeping it worked on. I remember him pulling us on sleds attached to Penelope as he drove over the snow in the field behind our home on Sunset Road in the South Valley. And I think of us sitting in the back of the truck watching the fireworks display in Albuquerque in the early ‘50’s along West Central up 9-mile hill near the old “66 Drive-in and near the Vets Hospital near Sandia and Kirtland Bases. We loaded the Buick and Penelope for our weeks – long fishing trips way north in New Mexico in the early ‘50’s before my dad retired. We spent weeks at Hopewell Lake and Lagunitas. There was a large tent and we younger ones slept in pup tents. Mud and dust and kids playing all kinds of games in the mountains and forests around the lakes. We left the fishing to my dad and oldest sister. We were kids, deprived for weeks of our friends in the summer at home! Oh how we suffered, playing and playing and playing. Oh, and Penelope, well , we made into the mountains on those old unpaved roads and made it back home! By the way, that was an all day trip in those days from Albuquerque to Hopewell  through Santa Fe and to Espanola to Tres Piedras. We loved those old cars, we just didn’t realize it at the time!

Thoughts on Easter in Panama and New Mexico

April 21, 2011

Thoughts on Easter in Panama and New Mexico

Holidays are always glorious events. I will comment on the foods and traditions and families and places and colors and some of the times  that I remember.

Easter at this time comes to mind. I remember some things of Easter in the Lockridge family. I remember Easter egg hunts on Sunset Road when I was young. With such a large yard it was easy to hide the eggs from us and to hunt for the eggs. I remember mostly the hollowed out eggs and the coloring of the eggs. I can still “taste” several of the special candies of the day! I remember the ham mom would cook and the wine at this holiday; Mogen David Concord Grape wine as I recall. It was a Passover wine I’m sure. Mom was Jewish so we had wine several times a year at holidays. I don’t remember any special wine glasses but rather some peculiarly noteworthy serving glasses. These were the small, 4 ounce jars that pimento cheese and dried beef had come in. Ah, I remember the pimentos used for the pimento cheese and the dried beef that daddy used for his S.O.S. gravy! Still can taste it!

I remember the special services at Edith Street Baptist Church at Easter. We had crackers and grape juice served by ushers during the service. I had no idea at the time why this was served but understand now. I remember our Sunday school teacher saying that the “wine” mentioned in the Bible was referring to grape juice! By way, Edith Street Baptist Church was selected when we were in the early ‘50’s because religion became a bit important – along with prayer at meals and bedtime – because Joann had contracted polio and we needed to pray. A nearby neighbor family attended Edith Street so we young two brothers, Don and myself, went with them on Sundays. Marilyn and Bobbie were both married there later on.

I think of the several things that Easter means here in Northern New Mexico. I don’t do the Good Friday walk to the Santuario at Chimayo but respect the many that do and for their reasons for this devotion. I’ve been to the Santuario a number of times and feel the special nature of the Chapel. I am familiar with many of the foods of the time too. I have been lucky enough to have eaten at various homes and celebrated with their foods. By the way, my family celebrated with some special foods. Ham of course though Mom was Jewish but I guess her  family had been raised as Reformed. We had blinis, one of my favorite things in life. Joann made such wonderful ones the few times a year that we had them. And then the matzo ball soup. There is something to be said about my Jewish mom’s chicken soup and those grand matzo balls! I still to this day buy matzos this time of the year.

Now I’ll talk about my memories of Easter in Remedios, La Provincia de Chiriqui, La Republica de Panama. This was a special village in the Easter time. My Peace Corps village of Nuestra Senora de los Remedios was visited by many local Panamanians during the Holy Week. There would be several “defiles”, parades, through the streets during the week and then the special services on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday. The Good Friday service was memorable for the events around the church service. That evening during the Mass when Christ was to die the lights would flicker on and off and rocks would be tossed onto the tin roof of the church to signify the lightning and thunder at Christ’s death. Then, one of the local young men (selected before hand and seen earlier during ‘desfiles’) would flee all of a sudden with all the boys and men chasing him. He was Judas and was running to avoid the beating that he would receive were he caught. I don’t recall seeing this happen the two years that I was there but the chase was kind of scary! I felt comfortable as a non-Catholic observer in Remedios just as I do here today. Matt still invites me to walk to the Santuario today but I guess I’ve been able to make my own amends to God in my (and His/Her) way!