Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gingko cont'd (concluded?); Shoveling; Festoon; What were YOU doing?

Fallen Gingko fruit in front of Putney/ Odd Fellows bldg, 308 South St.

 close-up of stepped-on fruit

From Raccoon reader, Mary Zeitlow Sullivan:


Festoon Fox

12/3/14 - Festoon

is in for repairs today. Partially burned out
old Xmas tree lights have been unwound from his dusty and bedraggled body.

I will vacuum him and then brush him,
straightening his disturbed fur
from three years of sentinel duty
on the high office ledge

where he’s surveyed the downtown Five Points,
causing some people on the street below to look up
through these ‘penthouse’ windows
and think they might be seeing a fox constellation
up there in that oft-darkened room

while the Fox River flows below
behind a row of downtown limestone buildings.
The Fox River like the downtown
wanes and swells according to
the weather and rainfall

but Festoon has been around us since 1965
holding forth in his same pose wherever he's been.

Soon he will be spiffed up and C-clamped
back on the ledge ready for another year
- Christmas duty briefly -
on guard at the Odd Fellows hall.

If you think of it,
Watch for him.



I woke to the sound of shovels scraping the sidewalk:
More snow.
Son of a snowplow driver,
shoveling was one of your specialties,
like rising at five to feed the cats,
filling the bird feeder,
making the coffee,
charging my phone—
a catalog of kindnesses
I mostly slept through.
You were the constant one, the unapologetic booster, the besotted.
I was the strategist, the asker of difficult questions, the beloved.

We chose the old house on the corner
not knowing what we were in for. (Whoever does?)
We battled, together,
but cancer made you old too soon
and left me, the independent one, suddenly alone.
Now the years stretch ahead of me
like an endless sidewalk, filled with snow.
I shuffle into your old jacket, hat,
and too-big boots,
grab a shovel and get to work,
hoping some of you
will rub off on me.

"Shoveling" by Ann Harrington.


What were YOU doing in the 1970s ?

 Steve Dix, now of Flagstaff AZ, was living with his young wife
and his two little tots in the A frame cabin he built for his family
in the wilds of Yukon Territory. He worked as a bush pilot, radio announcer
and many earlier menial jobs in Canada.

Today, 12-6, he formally launches his first book in  a book store on his experiences after fleeing
the US for Canada, and the ten years spent there until Jimmy Carter
declared amnesty for wrong war believers wishing to freely return to the US.

Of those there were many believers including the SRN editor,
(who did his Army hitch 10 years earlier)
Those who spoke and acted up were non-combatant good Americans too.

Susie Dix below next to oil drum stove;
Wife above in loft.


Using only hand tools Steve fashioned a rude but safe chinked-with-moss shelter.

This is an adventure tale and a must read.

Order your copy of FINDING HONOR by Steve Dix
at or your local book seller.

Pictures shown in the Raccoon are from the book illustrations,
which are imperfect but good black and white pix.

For the rustic cabin-bulding photo etc. scroll down on this:

Comments to us so far:

Good Morning Zepster,  11/25/14

I read with interest your posting about the recent publication of Steve's book, and promptly loaded it onto my Kindle for perusal during our upcoming trip to Arizona.  From what I read on Amazon, and your comments as well, I expect the book to call up many of the same emotional conflicts I experienced during that time as I watched so many of my generation march off to  a war that lacked honor - - or sense. Many came limping back damaged both invisibly and visibly, and too many didn't make it back at all.  As you know, my parent's generation "The Greatest Generation" as Tom Brokaw named them, had different feelings about "duty, honor, and country", but their war was different, "just" if you will, if any war can be considered "just".  Their mission had a clarity missing from the Vietnam war.  If nothing else, it could be thought of as a battle for survival of their way of life.  

I've recently been reading The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett, and it has underlined the enormous sociological changes occurring during the  two world wars, and how the deeply evil actions of the fascists needed to be stopped.  This was a cause with honor (and survival) as its basis.  No so our incursion into Vietnam.  I was divided in my beliefs then, having been brought up in the WWII cultural value system.  My choice to join the Army was motivated partly by these values, but equally by the social system that both protected me from the draft based upon my gender, and the same system that imposed a very limited set of options based upon my gender.  In 1970 equality for women was not yet the thundering roar that Helen Reddy sang of in 1975, and I needed to make my choices based upon the reality of the time in which I lived. While I didn't fully understand my motivations, I knew that staying home and following the traditional path of marriage and children was not the road I could travel. 

So I carried this conflict, and others within me throughout my years in the military, and it is these conflicts which will be the subject of my story, Flower Child in Camouflage. Steve's story resonates with me right from the beginning with the title. Finding Honor during Vietnam was no simple task. Being labeled a coward because he stood up for his beliefs takes a kind of courage that often goes unrecognized.  That courage is evident once again in publishing a book that expresses values contrary to the current uber-patriotic wave of sentiment in this country.  Although I haven't yet read his work, I believe there is honor to be found in the message of saying "no" to riding down the dead-end road of the war in Vietnam.  It's a message that needs to be sent again, as we seem to be heading a similar direction with our military today.

I look forward to reading Finding Honor. I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kate O'Neil
Retired Major US Army
Dallas OR


To the Raccoon:

Wis Guthrie 12/5/14

The  account of gaining freedom on a flight into Canada with Gina and Roger is deeply moving.  Steve's anxiety experienced in cleverly avoiding arrest is very well unfolded in  rational detail.  The reader is led effectively  into the many experiences that cut across cultural lines.

Wis Guthrie
Chair, Carroll Unversity Art Dep't, Ret'd
(Quaker Friend, Grant Wood admirer, etc.)


 by DZD 12-2-14

Very pleased am I to give FINDING HONOR a tribute with ALL thumbs and fingers pointing skyward, 'wiggling, applauding' as some do in certain churches.  Getting my hands on this fine adventure tale meant not being able to put it down until the pages were all avidly turned and the book finished, then keenly reflected upon. (Am still doing that; rereading it.)

It is recommended to all who want a history of one struggling young family’s resistance to the Vietnam war, and for those of us who lived through that sad saga in this nation’s conflicts it is especially intriguing, a bulls-eye to the heart and mind. A reminder as if we needed one that war is wrong.

Crossing the border into Canada, as the story unfolds, one can sense the breath of free- from-pursuit air felt by Mr. Dix, his 18 year old wife with their newborn son Roger. Technically, Steve was a 'deserter' from the Navy.

A daughter, Susie, followed, born in Canada.  What an initial experience in life for her!

The kindness of many Canadian citizens who gave freely of their aid, born of sympathy and  a disapproval of the Asian conflict + the flight to the Yukon where Steve with only hand tools built a rudimentary A frame shelter + well, it’s too long a story for a short review.

Get the book and read it.

The author Steve Dix has given us all and himself a cathartic account of a unique kind of oblique but certain service to our country, a man and woman, former avid Bobby Kennedy workers/supporters, standing up for what they saw was right.

David Zep Dix
Ed. SRN, etc.
Waukesha WI
David in FLA 1972
Some of what I was doing


Coming next week
A shirt is worn