Thursday, April 01, 2010

Johnie In The Slot


A scan of a slide of a photo taken in Korea around 57 years ago.  My dad on the right with his crew chief.  Shirley Mae is my mom.  My girl said that he looked "cocky" in this picture.    I have seen this slide hundreds of times over the years and had never assigned that descriptor; but I guess if you have  a 12 cylinder Rolls-Royce engine five feet in front you cranking out up to 2000 horsepower as you are zizzing through the clouds vibrating to the low drone of the P-51 in flight, you could be cocky too!
Dad died  in March and one of the fellows he flew with in the Air National Guard out of Lambert field in St. Louis (prior to Korea) saw the obituary and sent me a note describing how they would fly acrobatics to stay sharp -- even competing with other Guard units around the area.  He described Phil Houghton as left wing, Bob little at right wing, Walter Stueck as lead, and "Johnie in the slot" while flying the 4-plane diamond formation (John was my dad).

It would seem that would be the hardest position to fly, with the wash from the other planes and all,  causing turbulence.
But I never asked . . .  I should have.

"Death is only a change of condition:  time and space are in you; you are not in time and space"
by Swami Vivekananda  (another perspective)

Maybe so, but I cannot help but think that we are left mostly as memories . . .  and some things we made.

Fly safely my father


  1. Your Dad does look cocky in that picture...and very attractive. I wish I had known him, I'll bet his stories were amazing.

    Johnie in the slot...I love it. And it does sound difficult to fly that position; he must have been a great pilot and a very romantic guy, since he named his plane after your mom.

    Quite a guy, Goatman! He'll be flying the skies with no restrictions now.

  2. I am so very sorry of the passing of your Father Goatman. I hope you had some time to spend with before he passed on. Thank you for sharing this story of your Father being a pilot. I think he looks quite debonair (spelling? Sorry) in the photo, and handsome and self assured. When I first looked at this photo of your father I was shocked to see how much he looked a lot like my father when he was young and in the army during word war II.

    My mother and father are not doing well and my Father it seems is nearing his time also. Your post has me thinking about my younger sister and her and I are thinking of somehow trying to go "back" soon to the old house in Los Angeles and maybe be able to see them and somehow try and "heal" through this visit..and to say our good-byes. I haven't seen my mom and dad in person in about 20 years. It was not a good relationship with them at all never has been, and it never got any better. But maybe somehow we can at least "try" and see my Father before he passes. But I hope to mend fences and "heal" with my younger sister's all happening pretty quickly..she will be moving to my county soon. I hope it all somehow helps us all heal and forgive.

    Thank you for this post and cherish the memories of your Father. Again my heart goes out to your at your loss.

    With Angel Blessings,


  3. Really sorry to read about your loss.. commiserations.

    The picture is so lovely.. and your dad looks quite dashing .. the name of your mum inscribed on that plane when your father flew is the most compelling aspect of the visual that comes in mind while reading about him..

    I live with my parents.. they are both in their 60s and imagining a life without them is almost impossible .. but then we all know the inevitable..

    it must be tough .. take care.

  4. so very sorry for your loss

    Its a great photo, he does look self-assured.

    thinking of you

  5. Sir, your dad had every right to be cocky. He was a fighter pilot and an even a second of doubt on his part could have gotten him or anyone of his fellow pilots killed.

    Another reason for him to be cocky is that he put himself in danger on a regular basis for a cause greater than himself and just called it duty. In my book that makes him a hero. Your dad was worth ten-thousand of the tepid little souls that walk around these days all puffed out, immersed in their delusional self-importance.

  6. Goatman,
    So very sorry for the loss of dad.
    May his memory always be a blessing!

  7. My heartfelt sympathies for your loss, Goatman. Surely, he is flying night skies now, eternal and free. He was a dapper and handsome young man. May your memories of him endure..

  8. I very much like the quote you have chosen and I believe it to be true.... mostly that is as I do understand the feelings of loss when a parent dies.
    I'm sorry to read that you have had to say goodbye to your Dad.
    I love the photos. I think your Dad looks very handsome and confident.

    Take care and thank you for visiting me.
    I'm delighted that you enjoyed the water crystals. I like the philosophy behind the images too.
    I like your blog and I will endeavour to visit here often.

    best wishes
    Robyn :)

  9. I am totally with Beach Bum here. Yes, you should have asked, like I should have asked mine. The problem probably was he would not have wanted to talk about it, like mine.

  10. .

    have a heart
    beating hard
    as i
    stretch my wings
    to soar
    in the realm of nothings


    touching, sincere, beautiful post...

    peace be upon your dear brave father...

  11. How ironic that before I clicked to vist you I had these words in mind (somethig to myself: Waking up today is magical..I feel so poetic towards life and living and Im afraid of death but death is a journey that had to take) then seeing what you wrote about your dad ..its so sad..I feel like crying

    Hugs to you


  12. the last time i got to your page, i was in hurry that i opened it up but never had the chance to read it through. i could have read this earlier. i can't help but feel the sadness. your father is indeed a great man.i admire him and i admire you for being strong, it's tough to lose someone you really love. your father must be doing fine wherever he is right now.

    i wish i could give a hug right now, i sympathize for the loss.

    take care.

  13. what a FABULOUS photograph. and a beautiful post.
    Of course he looked cocky-- he was a self assured pilot. It's nice to have a lot of good memories. They make it easier.

  14. thats quite a nice pic!!!...ur dad luks dashing, not cocky to me...

  15. I love your sweet tribute. Your father was quite handsome - and apparently romantic and a hero. This post touched touched my heart. I'm so sorry for your loss. But I know your father would smile at his son, and his heart would bask your admiration.

  16. Your father definitely looks dashing! Such a sweet and tender tribute. Brought a tear to my eye and I am still saddened to know he is gone!

    Suzie =-}