Frontier Former Editor

May 17, 2006

More tales from England

Filed under: Cornwall, Guy Fawkes, old times — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:27 am

I mentioned Guy Fawkes Night earlier. The closest we Americans have is Halloween, but Guy Fawkes doesn’t have the pseudo-supernatural overtones that a more religiously conservative America ascribes to it. After all, we’re talking about a night where all good Britons come out to burn the effigy of someone stupid enough to be caught in proximity of several barrels of gunpowder in the basement under Parliament.
Google Guy Fawkes and read some of the more serious entries on the web and you may find that Mr. Fawkes was not the suave, swashbuckling role model for V For Vendetta. Rather, he was more of a village idiot in many ways. But he did have the motivation to help plan the Gunpowder Plot, thus his popularity as kindling.
Anyway, the RAF officers and erks in our neighborhood knew how to put together a Guy Fawkes dummy – a flight suit filled with plenty of flammables and enclosed in a Mae West life preserver with a live CO2 cartridge for that extra bang. Mount said effigy on top of a ten-foot pile of scrap wood soaked in gasoline, add a match and stand back for some real family fun before going home for a mug of hot chocolate..

May 13, 2006

Merry olde England

Filed under: Cornwall, Guy Fawkes, old times — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:23 pm

I spent my fourth, fifth and sixth years in Cornwall when my father was stationed at a U.S. Navy facility (I’ll leave the description at that) on a Royal Air Force station – RAF St. Mawgan – from 1965 to 1968, so my first really coherent memories started there.
We lived in an old Royal Air Force officers housing complex. – row houses with fair-sized gardens in the rear. A field at the rear of our row of houses separated us from the local school.
The neighborhood was just across the road from RAF St. Eval, which had been closed just six years earlier. A couple of large, late WW II hangars still stood, and the runways and hardstands were still visible through the weeds growing there. Some local folks raced small cars around the runways, and the U.S. Navy and RAF families celebrated Guy Fawkes Night by burning a rather elaborate effigy on top of a huge pyre of scrap wood each November.
St. Eval had also housed U.S. Army Air Force bomber crews flying anti-U-boat patrols over the North Atlantic around 1942-43
A shepherd led his flock every morning and afternoon through the neighborhood. Grocery shopping consisted of trips every few days to the butcher and baker, while a greengrocer brought his van through every two or three days. Once a week, we drove into Newquay to visit the supermarket, or the NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) grocery van stopped in the neighborhood.
We also had a small Navy Exchange at the ‘facility,’ which was more like a general store than your typical post or base exchange. We got our Cokes and other touches of home from there. I had my first Tootsie Pop when the storekeeper handed me one. My first Oreo was in England.
I don’t remember my first plane flight – it was to England. I do remember my second flight – it was to the United States. I also saw my first iceberg on that flight, from 40,000 feet.
My third plane flight was that same day, from McGuire Air Force Base to National Airport. That night, in a nearby motel, I saw my first episode of Star Trek.
A few months later, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.
I had missed a couple of years of things on television, like race riots and Vietnam.
Maybe I’ll write some more about this.

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