Thursday, November 28, 2013

Vicious Turkeys, LBJ and 3D Scans of Cadets - Thanksgivings to Remember

Perennial holidays have a way of creating and recalling memories of those same holidays from the past.

That is especially true for THIS Thanskgiving,

Thanksgiving 1948 and the Surly Turkeys

My first Thanksgiving memory is one that makes eating turkey particularly satisfying.  My relish at the thought of eating turkey began at the age of 4.  We lived in what was then a rural area and one of the ways the local Burke volunteer fire department raised funds was to sponsor a turkey shoot.  My father happened to win two turkeys at that event.

These weren't frozen turkeys.  These were live turkeys.  And, not the domestic variety either.  They were surly wild turkeys common in the surrounding woods.  What set them apart of your average surly wild turkey was their size.  These things were HUGE Toms!

Unbeknown to me, he decided to house the turkeys in the outhouse over night.  Early the next morning, I had to go and as soon as I opened the door I got a rude shock.  The turkeys bolted for the door of the outhouse strait at me!  I slammed the door shut, only to trap one in the door by the neck with his head doing everything possible to destroy me.

Eventually,  my father heard my screams and came to my rescue.  But, by then I no longer needed to go.  To this day, I remember the sweet feelings of revenge when that bird showed up at the table on a platter!  And, it stays with me each and every Thanksgiving when a bird is set before me.

I think that must show that I might have a bit of a tendency to hold a grudge.

Thanksgiving 1963 and LBJ

I was working in Giant Food #14, a very small grocery store in 1963 when the assassination of John Kennedy was announced.  The store was in the upscale neighborhood of Spring Valley in Washington, DC., the home of Lyndon B. Johnson.  In those days vice-presidents remained in their personal homes.  Mostly we dealt with the cook for the Johnsons.  But, sometimes LBJ, himself, would stop in. If memory serves me correctly, he mostly came in to pick up some cigars.

That was a chaotic time for the Johnson family and it wasn't clear, until the last minute, where they would eat their Thanksgiving dinner.  They finally decided to eat Thanksgiving in their personal home, perhaps in deference to Jackie Kennedy.  But, no one had thought to purchase anything for the meal!  The gave our store an emergency call.

Dick Cunningham was the manager of Store #14.  The minute he learned the situation, he sprung into action.   Since he commuted by bus and had a car, he enlisted me into quickly gathering up anything and everything that might be remotely considered a part of a Thanksgiving meal.  Being one of the oldest and smallest stores in the Giant Food chain, we didn't have a turkey fitting for a president.  So, Charlie McCort, the manager of a nearby store came to the rescue with a suitably large bird.  And, we raced over to the new president's personal home.

On arrival, the thing that strikes me now is that I don't recall seeing a single security guard.  But, what struck me then was the ENORMOUS number of empty liquor bottles discarded in a number of what I thought were fairly large oil drums!  I don't know if it was LBJ, himself.; but, SOMEBODY was putting away a LOT of booze around that place!!

Perhaps because this is the 50th year since that event, it is the first time I've written about it. In the past, I always attributed the need for our help simply to the chaos around that horrific event.  But, as I wrote this, it dawned on me, for the first time, that it was probably as much as an act of kindness to Jackie Kennedy and her children, giving them a little more time and space.  I don't know; but, it would be interesting to know.

Thanksgiving 1966 and Mammouth Cave

The Vietnam War was in full swing.  I joined the Army Reserve and was called for active duty training at Fort Knox Kentucky in September of 1966.  So, I found myself, for the first time, away from from family as Thanksgiving rolled around.  I decided to visit Mammoth Cave.  It was there, as I stared at my turkey and dressing dinner, that it truly struck me that Thanksgiving is not just about the turkey and the food.  It truly was about family.

I don't think I have ever felt more lonely than on that day.

Thanksgiving 2013 and Cadets

This Thanksgiving I am thankful that I was able to not only create NEW Thanksgiving memories for myself'; but, for the cadets that I teach and their families.  That is because the Sense 3D scanner arrived just before the Cadets headed home for the holidays.  While we were only able to scan a few before they left, every one of them knows that someone they love is going to get a very special gift this year... a 3D printed bust of the cadet.  We'll finish the scanning when they get back and print their busts before they graduate in December.

I wish you could have been there to see the reactions of the cadets when they saw the scanner in action.  More than one said they knew EXACTLY who would be getting their 3D print.  Yes, we focus on core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts using 3D printing in the class.  But, there is more than enough time to spend a little bit of it to deal with building relationships, too.  Building relationships is just as much a key for their success as any subject matter.

Thus, this Thanksgiving is going to be cemented in my memory for the rest of my life as one I will be forever thankful.
Thank you Sense, Sculpt and Cube teams!

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