Uncommon Places Introduction

By uncommon I don’t mean crazy rare. You can see “Kelly was here” at most of them.  I don’t mean common like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite but somewhere beyond where most average travelers go.  A good example is Number  One, the Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone is a block of stone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle that is located five miles north of Cork in the south of Ireland. This particular stone was built into the castle he was building, by Cormac Laidir McCarthay in 1446.  According to the most popular legend, he was on his way to resolve his most recent tax dispute when an old lady told him to kiss a stone she designated and he would suddenly have excellent reasoning powers and the elocution skills to express them.  In the court, he was able to do so and he won his case.  He decided that the rock gave him the powers and he ordered it to be built into the parapet at the top of his castle.  The legend became popular that kissing the rock would grant the kisser with what, today is called the “gift of the gab”, or as the Irish say, to be an expert with “the “Blarney”. Continue reading

Character Number Thirty

And then there’s this Other Guy.

He was an English chap and he did well at school and college except he turned larcenous in his freshman year and started a collection of pub signs and other signs that appealed to him. He had occasional discussions with angry bar-tenders but he seems to have got away with it.  Having run out of college money in his last year, he got married to a well-paid secretary and as happens, they had a baby and just when his college years ended, he took them off to a foreign land where he had a job waiting.  They had him designing things and whole plants then making him go and run them and show others how to run them.  His company liked his efforts and they thought he could dumb-down and become the company sales-man in their big-city office with the entire USA as his territory. Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-Eight

And then there was Ed Bukrey.

I first met Ed Bukrey in 1980 when I joined Champions Golf Club in Houston. We had just moved from Jacksonville, FL and our house was within the holes of one of Champion’s two courses.  I was welcomed to the inner club of week-end golfers, the Forty Thieves and Ed was an 18 handicap and I was a 10 handicap so we were often on the same mixed handicap teams.  Ed told me that he had spent a lot of money on golf lessons but I was the first to give him tips that helped him improve his game.  Mainly, I had helped his short game very much and he was enjoying playing better.  Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-Nine

Duke of EdinburghAnd then there was the Duke of Edinburgh.

Phillip, Prince of Greece and Denmark had met Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King George VI a couple of times when she was quite young but they met again at the Royal College of Dartmouth in 1939 when she was 13 and they agreed to exchange letters. Elizabeth was reported as saying that Phillip was the man she wanted to marry.  Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-Six

And then there was Ellen Louise Banton.

Ellen Louise Banton was born on March 26, 1895 in Brentford, London.   She probably went to London schools in Brentford and nearby Acton and she told me she worked in some kind of munitions factory for some time during WWI or 1914 to 1918 when she was 19 to 23. We do know that she later worked in the Lyons Bakery at Cadbury Hall where Lyons not only baked thousands of bread loaves per day, but multiple meals and pastries for their many “Lyons Corner House” restaurants.  Her foreman there was Master-Baker Arthur William Dewing a widower.  On September 3rd, 1927 when she was 32, she married Arthur who was 45 but it is not known how long she was at Lyons or if she had some other job prior to Lyons. Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-Five

And then there was Arthur William Dewing.

On the last day of Europe’s six year war, or Victory in Europe Day, VE-Day, May 8th 1945, I met a 17 year old girl from the BBC at a VE-Day dance.  I was 18 and in my fresh-man year studying Chemical Engineering at London’s Imperial College.  Her name was Doris Dewing and we went together for about a year and broke up about February 1946.  During this time, Doris invited me to her home and I met Mr. and Mrs. Dewing for the first time.  Mrs. Dewing cooked meals for me and when I first met Mr. Dewing, he was hunched up in the corner of the room, right next to the radio listening to the race-track results.  He alternated between a happy “Yeah” and some long “Sh” word that he never finished. Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-Four

And then there was Neal Harris. DDS.

In 1965, I and my family moved to Atlanta, GA and we very soon got a family membership to Druid Hills Golf Club. I played there regularly, Doris joined the Ladies Nine Hole Club and our three kids, Nigel 11, Nick  9 and Melanie 7 were all involved in the swim teams year by year as they aged.  We all dabbled at tennis there but none of us were very good.  In 1972, Doris and I with Nick and Melanie moved to Jacksonville, FL, leaving Nigel, who had just been accepted at Georgia Tech, in Atlanta.  Around the club pool we had been noticing Nigel spending time with a girl named Beth Harris. Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-Three

And then there was Takuji Sakuraba.

I have related the details of my two trips to Japan in 1961 and 1962 in my Memory chapters 38 to 40 on this same blog. On both trips, we were accompanied by the Liaison Manager from Mitsui Corporation, Tak Sakuraba.  This time I am writing more about him than the trip details. Tak made all of our reservations, accompanied and hosted us with meetings at his company, the Mitsui Corporation and with the engineers and managers of Kobe Steel.  My company, Production Operators Inc. had, through Mitsui, the sales company, contracted with Kobe to supply a nitrogen plant to make nitrogen that we, POI would then compress to 3,000 psi to inject into oil wells of the Chevron Corporation on a mountain top in Evanston, Wyoming.  The reason for our two trips was initially because of the under performance of the Kobe plant but later it was to discuss the explosion that occurred soon after at the plant site.  Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-Two

And then there was Sergeant Moriarty.

In 1961, Rowayton, CT where we had lived for about three years was having a heat wave and there were warnings about the danger of fires. Our sons, Nigel aged seven and Nick aged five had recently been found in our garden playing with matches and I had got tough with them and delivered a pretty strong ultimatum on the subject.  About a month later, a neighbor told me some boys had been seen in the woods above our house lighting small fires and he though our two might have been with them.  Our house was the last house on a hill where the road dead-ended at the edge of a large wooded area and I had been concerned that it would be the first to go if we had a fire. Continue reading

Character Number Twenty-One

And then there was Al Domeshek.

My path crossed with Al’s several times but the first was about 1958 or 59 when I moved to the New York sales office of Air Liquide. I had emigrated from London in 1954 and had worked with L’Air Liquide in Montreal designing components for oxygen and nitrogen plants.  We were trying to sell an oxygen plant to the Chemico Company for them to incorporate in an ammonia plant that they were bidding on.  Their project manager was Al and he was comparing our proposal with those of our competitors.  Al and I had a good rapport, both being conscientious engineers.  I was able to use my limited budget, expense account to buy Al a lunch occasionally.  We eventually worked together on several proposal evaluations, quite a few with success.  Continue reading