I just got my signed copy in the mail! Joy is a great author and I count her among my author friends. I am looking forward to digging into this book. So far, I have only read the back cover, the reviews, and the Foreward by John Busbee, but I can already tell it is going to be great.
I read Joy’s earlier work, Leora’s Letters, which is an amazing tale of this same family’s patriotism, struggle, sacrifice, and pain during World War II. All five of Leora and Clabe Wilsons’s sons went off to serve in the military. They did not all come home. It was a story that broke my heart, made me smile, and stirred my pride all at the same time. If you haven’t read Leora’s Letters, you really should. It is an American story about an America we all need to be remind of these days.
In Leora’s Dexter Stories – The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression, Joy Neal Kidney now shares with her readers the lives of Leora and Clabe Wilson and their displaced Iowa farm family during a time of great struggle and sacrifice. It is an American history, a history of hardworking common folk in America’s heartland during the Great Depression told through the memories and stories of Leora Wilson. And it is, by all accounts, a great collection of stories about love, survival, determination, sacrifice, and perhaps most importantly, hope.
Of course, when I finish the book, I will be posting a review here. I just could not wait that long to say something.
But, of course, you don’t have to wait for my review. Check it out. I promise it will be good.
Growing up, my family used to spend several weeks every summer at Raquette Lake in upstate New York. We started out camping at Golden Beach Campground. I was 6 months old on my first camping trip. Later we purchased a lot in Burketown, essentially a marina and restaurant on the south bay of the lake. Lots had also been purchased by both sets of grandparents and a great uncle. Many of the other lots were bought up by other employees of Remington Arms Co. of Ilion, NY. So, on our sandy dirt road, almost every knew everyone. Summers at Raquette Lake were almost always a large friend and family get together.
We would typically go to the lake in late July or early August to avoid the black flies and the worst of the mosquito season. One year, for some reason, we had gone earlier, and we’re going to be at the lake for the fireworks on the Fourth of July. I was maybe twelve years old or so. We drove down to watch the fireworks at Old Forge, NY; about twenty minutes south of Raquette Lake on Route 28.
I’m not completely sure who was there. I know myself, my brother, and my Mom and Dad were there. And my Nanny and Grandpa Klippel were certainly there, because my Grandfather is the key figure in this tale. I do remember others being there and suspect my Aunt Carol and maybe my Uncle Ken were there. Grandma and Grandpa Gilbert may have been there, as well as various other cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.
We had found a spot to sit on the hill overlooking Old Forge Lake, or Fourth Lake (being the fourth lake in the Fulton Chain). It is not a particularly large lake; really more like a rather big pond. We were sitting there talking and waiting for the fireworks to begin when it began to cloud up and look like it was going to rain. I remember people trying to figure out if the fireworks would be canceled if it rained. The consensus was that it would depend on how hard it did rain, which seemed fair enough.
Once it got dark enough, the fireworks began. It was positively glorious. However, very shortly thereafter, the rain began as well. I remember being so disappointed as people began getting up to leave. My family, too, was getting ready to leave; everyone that is, except my Grandfather Klippel. He remained seated and simply took his handkerchief out and put it over his head. We had been hurrying to the car, but I had stopped and looked back. I watched as my Grandfather took the handkerchief, which by now had become soaked, and wring it out and place it back on his head. I was stunned, What was he doing? Even at that age, I knew my Grandfather was a bit of a character, but this was like nothing I had seen before. I walked back to where he was sitting.
“Grandpa, what are you doing? It’s raining.” It was actually raining quite hard by then.
“Well,” Grandpa replied, “if our ancestors could fight a war for this country and our freedom, the least I can do is sit through a little rain to thank them for doing so.”
That statement struck me, and I sat down next to my Grandfather. He asked me if I wanted the handkerchief, but I shook my head. It was too much fun watching him periodically wring it out and put it back on his head. We sat there together waiting for the rain to stop.
To be honest, I don’t remember if the rain ever did stop, or if the fireworks were canceled. I just remember sitting there in the rain, being proud as hell, and watching my grandfather once more wring the water out of his handkerchief, and place it back on his head.
I met Joe Palazzolo at the dog park in Cary, North Carolina. I would take my German Shepherd, Sophie, to the park every evening after work for exercise and had been doing this for a few months, I guess, when this guy visits for the first time with his Greyhound, Silver City Lou. We started talking and a good friendship was born.
The Character that was Joe Palazzolo
Joe’s family was from Sicily and he was proud of his Sicilian heritage. His wife was Kathy and her folks were from Sweden. Joe and I soon discovered we had a good bit in common. We were both familiar with the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys and the Adirondack Park of upstate New York State. We were both red-blooded, patriotic Americans, and we both liked to shoot. Eventually it came out that I enjoyed reading military history, and Joe told me he had a book for me to read. The book was Lucky Lady by Steve Jackson, and it is the story of a legendary World War II light cruiser, the USS Santa Fe.
During the war in the Pacific, Joe’s father served on the USS Santa Fe which earned the nickname Lucky Lady when the aircraft carrier, USS Franklin, was directly hit by two Japanese 500-pound bombs. As the Franklin listed heavily, becoming perilously close to capsizing, the light cruiser’s captain brought his ship in dangerously close, bellying up alongside the carrier’s flaming hull and keeping the ship afloat until the Franklin’s crew could be rescued. It is one of the most daring rescues in U.S. naval history.
Coincidently, Joe had a twin brother named Lou. One day during the Vietnam War, they both went down to enlist in the US Navy. Their mother put her foot down and said there was no way they were both enlisting and leaving her and their young sister to fend for themselves. Since Joe was doing a little better in school, the decision was made that Lou would enlist and Joe would stay home to look after the family.
Joe drove a bus in New York City for many years and eventually retired from his bus driver’s job. Often times he drove the early morning routes, and as you can imagine, he had some tales to regale listeners with. Both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall rode his bus regularly when they were in town filming episodes of The Odd Couple. Joe told me that Jack Klugman would hop on the bus and talk and joke with the other passengers. Tony Randall always tried to disguise himself and avoided talking to folks on the bus.
During his part-time limo driver gig, Joe had some adventures as well. One night, he was driving for some high school seniors on prom night. The kids left the prom and headed to Dangerfield’s Comedy Club. The limo drivers would park and wait in the alley alongside the club. One night, Rodney Dangerfield came out a back door of the club wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Spotting the limo drivers, he walked up to Joe and bummed a cigarette. He, Joe, and the other drivers had quite a conversation while Dangerfield smoked the cigarette. Then the comedian said good night, and headed back into the club. Rodney treated the drivers like anyone else. He was just one of the guys.
After his second heart attack, Joe was retired by the bus company. They told Joe they could not afford the risk of a third heart attack while he was behind the wheel of a bus. Undaunted, Joe took a job driving a hearse for a funeral company. He joked that the dead didn’t care if he had a heart attack or not. It didn’t matter to them.
Lou, Joe’s rescued Greyhound, is a great dog. Joe even had videos of races Silver City Lou had won during his career. If I remember correctly, Lou ran in fifty-five races. I believe Lou took something like twelve first places, and a bunch of seconds and thirds. By the time I met Joe, Lou had become a pretty laid-back dog who enjoyed relaxing. Occasionally he would get up and run around the dog park with the “pack.” Even at at his advanced age, he was poetry in motion when he ran. Lou and Sophie became pretty good friends and got along great the times I visited Joe and Kathy in their home.
The birth of Pallie
One day shortly after publishing my first book, I was telling to Joe about it. He said that he wasn’t much of a reader, but he’d love to read my book. So, I brought him a signed copy of Serpents Underfoot the next time we met at the park. Joe laughed because he’d already ordered a copy from Amazon. I think he gave one to his sister or something. Anyway, after Joe had read the book, he told me how much he loved the story, especially the characters. I laughed and said, that’s because you’re such a character yourself.
After some more joking around, Joe mentioned that he’d love to be a character in my next book, Montagnard, which I had just started working on. I thought, why not? So, a US Navy SEAL and good friend of my main character’s, named Pallie, was born. Joe was a perfect “model” for the part. Pallie is a tough-as-nails but fun-loving and big-hearted Sicilian-American Navy SEAL. His character is well-liked by many readers and will continue into the third book as well. Pallie, short for Palazzolo, has Joe’s personality, his sense of humor, his gruff exterior, and his kind heart. He is Joe if Joe had become a SEAL.
See you later, Joe!
Shortly after I moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee, I learned that Joe was sick and he was spending a good bit of time in the hospital. A few weeks ago, I went back to Cary to visit with Joe and some of our good friends. I am so glad I did. Just the other day, I learned that Joe lost his battle with cancer. I guess we all knew it was coming, but it is still hard. I will miss you, my friend. but I am happy you are no longer suffering. My prayers go out to Kathy, his wife, and his daughter, Lisa, who I met on my last trip, and the rest of Joe’s family.
If I know Joe, I am sure he is already spending time at a heavenly dog park with his previous Greyhound named Faster, and looking forward with great anticipation to Lou’s eventual arrival. And for my part, I look forward to talking to Joe again when Sophie and I get eventually there as well.
A friend of mine shared a link with me to an article posted on The Federalist Pages. The article consists of an open letter written to the American Medical Association by Dr. Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D. Dr. Gonzalez is orthopedic surgeon and lawyer who lives in Florida. He is also a former Florida State Representative and former Congressional Candidate, and has published several books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons.
I did not write this, but I agree 100% with the many points Dr. Gonzalez raises, which by the way, are historically and provably accurate. I have included the entire text of the letter here as well as a link to the post on The Federalist Pages. I hope Dr. Gonzalez and The Federalist Pages do not mind. Exposing the lies and disgusting assertions of the left has become of paramount importance in saving this country. Articles and letters such as this need to be read by as many Americans as possible. It is scary to me how many Americans accept the nonsense spewed forth by the Democrats who have sold their souls to the Left in an insane grab for total control of the government and the media that willingly goes along with them.
So, thank you again, Dr. Gonzalez. I will be supporting both you and The Federalist Pages in the future.
An Open Letter to the American Medical Association
The suggestion that our country owes anyone “equity” because of “past injustices” is revolting. My family arrived in this country in 1961. We have not been a party to any of the injustices that occurred so many decades ago, yet you hold my family, my colleagues, and me in the same light that you hold the cruelest slaveholder. How dare you say that I, a person who is forced to answer on a census form as being white/Caucasian, but who on a different question answers Hispanic/Latino/Cuban, should be in anyway held responsible for those who traded slaves and the African chieftains who willingly sold their tribesmen and women to the Europeans four hundred years ago?
How dare you say that I, and every one of my colleagues who have spent our lives treating the poor, minorities, majorities, and anyone else who may stumble into our emergency rooms, legally or not, without bias or favor, and without any chance of being reimbursed for our training and our efforts, should be thought of as members of an oppressive consortium designed to inflict evil or inequity to those who we selflessly treat?
How dare you join the countless number of camouflaged communists who furtively and purposely try to confuse those around them by conflating equity with equality? Ours is a nation built on the premise of equal standing under the law and only that. Everything else is to be achieved through excellence, dedication, training, and hard work.
Equity, on the other hand, is achieved by fiat, by taking from some and giving it to others at the point of a gun. Few better ruses exist for the state control of the means of production than through the illusory promise of achieving equity instead of equal standing under the law. This is a dangerous track you are entering from which you and the social system you seek may never be able to return.
You claim that we live in a land that was taken from Native Americans hundreds of years ago. That may be so, but you neglect that the same is true of all other civilizations on earth. The Babylonians invaded Israel. The Norwegians invaded England. The Visigoths invaded Rome. Rome invaded Egypt and North Africa. The Turks invaded Constantinople. The Mongols invaded Europe. The Germans invaded Russia. The Russians starved their people. The Germans committed holocaust upon the Jews. The Calusas ransacked and sacrificed their neighboring tribes. The Caribes attacked and imprisoned the Taínos. The Mayans continuously conquered each other and tore their victims’ hearts out while they were still beating. Mao starved 69 million people and the People’s Republic of China killed millions with their latest virus.
Every single civilization, even those in Africa and the Far East, have conquered and been conquered. It is a fact of life and a staple of history. Your skewed and biased view of the events that took place between the Europeans and Native Americans while ignoring every other injustice carried out throughout history upon the very groups against which you point an accusatory finger is ignorant, hypocritical, and insulting to the 100% of us living Americans who played no part in the invasion nor were victims of the conquests.
You have abused your position as the self-proclaimed purveyor of the medical profession to promote a self-proclaimed social(ist) agenda against the will of so many of those whom you falsely claim to represent.
I will oppose you with all my being, all my strength, my intellect, and my voice. I will oppose you from here to the ends of the earth. I will oppose you because of your disgusting abuse of the great privilege that has been bestowed upon you, and because of the great insult you asperse upon me by suggesting that I carry anything other than love, charity, and good will towards every human being that I meet and have treated in my 30 years of practice as a physician.
There is a magnificent document whose signers pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor to a cause much greater than themselves. Today, I pledge the same in opposition of you.
Here’s to seeing the end of your filthy, disgusting, and vile organization.
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D. Former Florida State Representative Former Congressional Candidate
Click here to read the letter on The Federalist Pages.
Armed Forces Day is for those currently in uniform.
Veterans Day is for those who once wore the uniform.
Memorial Day is for those who never made it out of their uniform.
As you celebrate the beginning of summer, and try to put the stress and turmoil of 2020 behind you, take a moment to reflect on your freedoms and to thank those who fought and died to keep those freedoms intact and to protect them for others.
IT IS FOOLISH AND WRONG TO MOURN THE MEN WHO DIED. RATHER, WE SHOULD THANK GOD THAT SUCH MEN LIVED
The in-line stance drill is a great little drill that teaches the practitioner to break the line of attack and remain safe, while staying close enough to deliver an effective counter. This is not a kata. It is just a drill designed to develop understanding of a few key concepts in Okinawan Karate.
In my dojo, this drill was typically taught after the Basic Kata and before learning the Tachi Kata, which was developed by Sensei Harrill as an intermediary step before starting into black belt level kata. The Basic Chart Kata and Tachi Kata will be examined in future posts.
In the two videos below you will see both a front and side view of the drill performed as a single-person exercise, much like a kata. And while, not a kata per se, this drill is made up of techniques taken from kata to illustrate the concepts.
However, this drill is a two-person drill and is worked back and forth repeatedly. Beginners will start out slowly and perhaps give themselves a bit more “working room.” As you become comfortable with the drill, your speed and power can increase, and the distance may decrease a bit. You will learn to control your distance and remain safe while being close enough to deliver effective counters. And, not so close that you cannot execute good technique.
Here is an how the drill will look with two people.
The nice thing about truly understanding techniques, is that you begin to realize that it does not matter what your opponent does, so much as how well you can utilize your technique. In this drill the attacker started with a right-handed punch. What if he hadn’t? Suppose he had attacked with his left-hand first? Do I change what I am doing?
Nope, the nice thing about good technique, is that it works (as we say, “Right, Left, Up, or Down). Yes, of course there are specific techniques for certain types of attacks. But for most techniques, if you truly understand them, it does not matter. In this next video, the attacker will initiate his attack from the other side, and I will not change what I am doing. It still works.
I would like to thank Lucas Davis for helping me with the two-man aspect of this drill. Lucas trained with me in Isshin-ryu for several years before I moved to Raleigh, NC for about three years. He now trains in Uechi-ryu with Sensei Bob Noel who is also an excellent instructor.
As my old pal, Yosemite Sam, would say, “Great Horny Toads!”
Not only did Serpents Underfoot get a great review from Literary Titan, it also earned the Gold Book Award for May 2021! How about that! I was not expecting that and I am honored by the award.
And also, a bit humbled. It sets the bar even higher for the third book in this series, titled Reciprocity. But, I am hard at work, making sure that each book I publish is just a little bit better than the previous book. I am not sure I will always achieve that goal, but I can promise my readers that I will always try.
Today I drove up to Russellville, TN for the opening reception of a Civil War Art exhibition. The collection consisted of a number of really beautiful original paintings by Marie Merritt covering the civil war, and included one painting of General Longstreet Marie painted for the museum and which was unveiled at the showing. And you could not have a better location for the showing than an antebellum American house that General Longstreet occupied during the winter of 1863-1864.
The historic Nenney House served as the winter headquarters for General Longstreet just after the Battle of Bean’s Station in December of 1963. Russellville became the winter camp for his Confederate army. The house has been painstakingly restored by the Lakeway Civil War Preservation Association to serve as a museum. It is the centerpiece of the Civil War Trail in the Lakeway area. The museum’s gift shop also contains an excellent Tennessee Civil War history reference library and Civil War related souvenirs and publications. The museum hosts several special events throughout the year. A reproduction of an 1860’s era tailor shop features both Confederate and Union uniforms and other period dress. It is a perfect setting for an exhibit like this one.
Paintings by Marie Merritt
That is Marie Merritt standing on the staircase in the Nenney House with some of the “reenactors” who were present for the event. I first met Marie at a gallery on Gay Street in Knoxville, TN through my friend, Vicki Goforth. I met Vicki back in my ballroom dancing days and we have remained friends over the years. I enjoyed Marie’s paintings at the gallery, so when I received an invitation to attend the exhibition at the General Longstreet Museum, I had to go. I am a military history buff after all. To be honest, I had no idea this little gem of a museum even existed. What a great surprise. It is definitely worth a visit and I recommend stopping by if you are in the area.
Here is a picture of several of the paintings mounted on a wall in what was probably the sitting room of this historic old house. That is my friend, Vicki, in the red jacket.
One of my personal favorites was this painting below of a Confederate sharpshooter.
Sadly, I must confess that at the time I was taking pictures, I did not know about the special painting of General Longstreet Marie did for the museum which sat to the side on an easel. And somehow, I missed getting a picture of it. But on the bright side, that gives me an excuse to make another trip up to this great little museum in the not-to-distant future.
And here is one picture that might be a little off topic, but I still had to share it. General Longstreet’s staff probably sent messages on this very telegraph. This is probably one of the earliest known predecessors to the smartphone!
While I served in the US Army Infantry, I never had the opportunity to work my way up and into the spec ops community. However, I have had the honor of being good friends with several men who did, several of whom I met through the martial arts. So writing the stories I love to write involves relying on stories from those friends, research, and my wandering imagination.
Check out this author’s interview published on Titan Literary after Serpents Underfoot received another amazing 5-Star review.
Serpents Underfoot finds JD Cordell facing a terrorist group that plans to detonate nukes on US soil. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
This story grew out of thoughts I have had about what it would be like to be a Spec Ops warrior. I served in the military and spent most of my time overseas. I served in the Army infantry, and when I enlisted, I scored high enough on the ASVAB test to get Ranger School in my contract. Unfortunately, when they discovered I had a slight speech impediment, they would not send me to Ranger School. They were going to let me out because they couldn’t honor their end of the deal, but I asked to stay. Hell, I could still shoot pretty darn well. So, I guess it is, at least in part, a fantasy about what might have been.
Combine that with a lifetime study of martial arts, the political climate at the time, my interest in Asian culture, and you have the birth of this story.
The rest is simply a bunch of “what if” questions. For instance, what if a soldier in Vietnam married a Vietnamese girl who saved his life? What if their son became a Navy SEAL, and what if his team uncovered a major terrorist plot? What if it involved high-ranking US government officials? You get the idea …
JD Cordell is essentially a composite of several people I have known and respected. While I was a bit too young to serve in Vietnam, I was old enough to have several good friends who did. One friend, in particular, served as a medic on long-range reconnaissance patrols in the region the first few chapters of Serpents Underfoot is set in. I also know a couple of former Navy SEALS, one of which recently passed away. He was actually an Underwater Demolition Team member and served in the Mekong Delta region during the Vietnam War. The UDT teams were essentially forerunners of the Navy SEALs.