A little wanderlust but as Johnny Cash sang …

After work I spent a bit of free time filling out my passport application. Am I going somewhere? Probably. I don’t know where. Just in case I do travel, even to Mexico or Canada (there’s a good idea, the latter,) I need a card or a passport.

I am sure this will come as a shocker to those who think I’m a jet-setter. I’ve never had a passport before. I had a big yellow immunization card when I was in the Navy. Within a year I had visited Acuña, Juárez, and Tijuana in Mexico; Olangapo and Subic City in the Philippines; Suva, Fiji; the Marshall Islands; Auckland, Nelson and Whangeri, New Zealand; Newcastle, NSW; Devenport, Tasmania, and Perth, Western Australia, all in Australia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Taipei and Keelung, Taiwan. That’s a pretty good dance card, all without a passport. All travel was, of course, courtesy of my poor Uncle Sugar (Sam.)

It was called to my attention by friends, some 10 or more years ago, that I needed a passport. The passport card wasn’t needed everywhere outside the US of A then. My friends said: “You never know when you might have to go somewhere.” I was working as a reporter then and not making much cash. I figured if I needed a passport I’d have time to get the funds to purchase one. The demand back then was not nearly as that of today.

Sure enough, a time came when I needed one. I could have gone as a reporter to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That’s right, to the terrorist jail to see how nice our forces where treating the captives. Like they would waterboard one or make the prisoners stand in a naked human pyramid as happened in Abu Ghraib. Note: I covered the court martial of the alleged ring-leader at that big clusterf**k in Iraq, former Army Spc. Charles Graner. What a class act. Back to the subject, I never went to Gitmo because I didn’t have a passport or the time to get one. I also never went to Iraq, although I volunteered to be an “imbed” or is that “inbred?”

Perhaps I may go to some foreign land this summer, whether it be Canada, the Caribbean, Central America or Mississippi. Just joking, my old Mississippi friends. Playboy listed Old Miss as the No. 9 “party school” in the country. Back in the 70s, a couple of years before I was discharged from the Navy, my alma mater was on that list. Yesiree Bob, Stephen F. Austin, party like it’s 1979.

I had planned to do a couple of mini-stories or pieces. Yeah, kind of like Hershey Kisses, or a couple of pint-sized hookers (Sorry.) The Playboy list was one such short-short. The other took place right “cheer” as Andy Griffith would say. A news story happened here in Beaumont, Texas, where I live and at my favorite (and only) GI Surplus store.

Don't take your grenade to town, son/Leave your grenade at home, Bill ... EFD File Foto
Don’t take your grenade to town, son/Leave your grenade at home, Bill ... EFD File Foto

It seems a guy was cleaning out his 75-year-old uncle’s apartment when he found a hand grenade. He didn’t know if it was live or a dummy grenade. The latter like you often see at GI Surplus stores. I bought one once but not at this store, or in this town. I don”t know whether I still have it. But it was definitely  a dummy. My Dad bought it for me, and he wouldn’t let me play with a live grenade. I don’t think he would, at least.

The fellow cleaning out his Uncle’s apartment wasn’t sure if the explosive was real or a dummy. So what did he do? What would you do? Call the police, or fire department or the Army? I lived about 45 miles from Fort Polk, La., growing up. When someone found leftover grenades from the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers, and there were quite a few back in the 60s, folks would call Fort Polk. Or, they’d call the sheriff and he’d call Fort Polk. The bomb squad came over. Poof, everything was hunky dory.

But Fort Polk isn’t quite as close to Beaumont. So the guy with the grenade called the police and fire, right? No, of course not, he put the grenade in the glove compartment of his pickup truck and hauled it to the GI Surplus Store on College Street. The story is easily found. It has a big rocket out front and an anti-aircraft gun, all of which saw many better days.

 “He decided it was “surplus” so he would bring it to GI Surplus,” said a press release from Beaumont police spokeswoman Officer Carol Riley.

Officer Riley said the fire department and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents took the grenade to “headquarters” for disposal.

Wait, they took it to the fire headquarters downtown? And where is ATF located? Are they in the Bank of America building on Calder at 10th, the same place as the FBI? Hmm. I don’t want to know. Well I do want to know but it’s not worth it to keep on typing this thing. This monster is now at 800 freaking words. Make that 856. Goodbye!




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