Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

On Saturday, mj and I went to the Fort Bliss National cemetery in advance of Monday's ceremonies. While routinely go to visit and check on the condition of both the graves of my uncle and in-laws and the entire cemetery, we went Saturday in order to see if the various civic groups were able to plant the tens of thousands of American flags into the now hard and gravel crusted ground--Memorial Day patriotic salute to those buried at the cemetery. What we saw was an attempt at something that had obviously outlived its environment as a high percentage of the flags stuck in the ground early Saturday morning had fallen onto the dust by that afternoon. Maybe stands could be made for them next year.

Overall, the flags' wooden dowels are no longer suitable for the cemetery's new "xeriscaped" environment. Perhaps the Boy Scouts or other civil minded groups will fashion stands for the flags so they don't immediately fall onto the dust and rocks next year. Overall, however, those flags standing were interesting and pleasant sounding as they waved in the wind. Together we spent about 45 minutes attempting to stick/bury/stand fallen flags into the ground again, and saw how easily the flags had once been placed into what had once been a grassy ground cover. Dirt on the flag's masts showed how far into the ground they had once been placed, which was between 3-5 inches; whereas now, we were lucky to get them an inch into the ground.

Sadly, we also saw many more large spaces had been prepared for more graves. It does not seem to end.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Circus Patriotism

UPDATE: 10 DEC 2014
For some unknown reason, I saw today that the sphinxes are back to being an all-white or ecru surface. They may have been painted over, or perhaps they were faced due to their being next to the new baseball field. All I will say is that I couldn't be happier. See picture below for a glimpse of their original state.

For now, all we can ask is why.

Back in the day, my grandfather and uncle were Masons and members of this Scottish Rite Temple on Santa Fe Avenue, across from the new History Museum. In fact, I believe my grandfather probably helped paint the building at one time or another. He initially became a Mason after the Shriners aided the family and my father through a hip ailment that was diagnosed when he was 12. Dad was in the hospital for over 9 months, had to relearn how to walk, and missed a year of school. At the time, the hospital was where the police station is at Five Points (Piedras at Montana.) In the years that followed, my grandfather always supported all the Masonic and Shrine fund raising (circus tickets, etc.)

My great aunts told me that they all worried my dad would not be able to walk after his operation--essentially the hip was fused to the leg. But now, dad still walks, albeit with a limp, and tells me about all the places they lived during the Depression as my grandfather, T. A. Jackson was a painting contractor, who later owned a motel on Alameda--The Glenwood Motel. Years later, my grandfather worked with my uncle and the company became T. A. Jackson and Son. They painted a lot of beautiful buildings and homes in downtown El Paso, Rim Road and Kern, Coronado Country Club, Mission Hills, and the Upper Valley. I don't think they would have especially liked this new paint job, although Clinton would have probably laughed at the sight of them now.

After my grandfather died it was just Clint Jackson, Painting Contractor. Clinton continued with the business until he retired in the 1990s. He died last summer after a long battle with emphysema and a painful and debilitating cigarette addiction to unfiltered Camels. His funeral, as was my grandfather's, was officiated by both their military branch and this Lodge. Clinton and T. A. (and my cousin Janet, Clinton's daughter) are buried at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery. Thomas Allen served in WWI; drafted in its second wave. But he contracted malaria (most likely during training in Louisiana), and never left the country. As for Clinton, he joined the navy when he was 16; served for a short while in the South China Sea as a cook, and came back to tell a lot of stories to his buddies at his favorite Doniphan Street BBQ joint. I never heard them; all I remember were his steely blue eyes, his way of drawing Chinese-styled letters, and that he was very tall (6'4").

In the end, I wished the Lodge had left these two gentle sphinxes alone. For as far as I know they had never been tagged or damaged--now they are red, blue, gold, and beige and look like they are ready to lead a circus train into town--perhaps in front of what now is police headquarters. At least I have several images I took with my Holga, Agfa, and digital cameras. They show them uncoloured and calm.

That is what I will remember, not this fraud of circus patriotism painted by a smirking charlatan on Mothers Day 2008.

Isola :: Texas Sphynx
This was a new camera for me when I captured this Masonic Sphynx.
The little german camera has no light leaks.

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...