Thursday, October 30, 2014  
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Arnold Dyre
 
Commentary By Arnold Dyre


   They call it a polar vortex, and it has brought cold weather to the Deep South.
   I heard one weatherman say on television that it is colder than it has been in 40 years. Another one said, “Twenty years.”
   I am not really going to try to officially straighten either one of them out or attempt to refute anything they say; however, I think I remember it being this cold more recently.
   I definitely remember one time when I was in high school that it snowed and got cold, and the snow stayed on the ground for several days. The little pond behind the store at Gore Springs on the south side of Highway 8 froze over, and my childhood friend, Kelly Durham, and I “ice skated” on the ice in our rubber boots!
   Thinking back, that was an incredibly stupid thing to do!  
   First off, very few folks even knew that the little pond was back there, and no one knew that Kelly and I were playing on it. If we had fallen through the ice, we might still be there to this day!
   As a boy, one of my most favorite writers was Jack London. I guess I have read everything he ever wrote.
   Whenever it gets cold like it has been this week, I think about Jack London’s story “To Build a Fire.” He wrote of expelled breath freezing into a frost that coated the mustache and whiskers of the man who struggles against the elements to build a fire with a precious few matches.
   When I was a boy, I used to practice building a fire out in the woods on cold days using no more than two matches. I got pretty good at it but cannot claim that the skill ever saved my life. Recently, I have had trouble building a decent fire in the fireplace with a gas starter!
   The other day when Beverly and I went to feed the stray cats at Sunnybrook Estates Retirement Center, the car trunk, where we keep the cat food, was frozen and would not open. It took a bit of effort, but I got it open without building a fire under the car. The cats were happy!
   Years ago, my shipmates and I aboard the destroyer USS Ernest G. Small were in the waters of the Bering Sea way up West of the Aleutian Islands. It was in the fall, with winter approaching. At times, we experienced winds close to 100 miles per hour. It was cold!  
   My shipmates and I were mostly tropical weather sailors, though we had been to Japan in the winter and to the waters off North Korea in the spring. It was quite a bit colder off the Aleutians!  
   At one point, we went into port at Adak, Alaska, and some of us were in the enlisted men’s club at the Naval Operations Base. While I do not recall what we were fighting about, there was a disturbance where the sailors off my ship displayed a good account of themselves and we were asked not to come back. Or was that in Guam? Might have been both places.
   Anyway, we were quite glad never to go back to Adak. It was too cold up there!

adyre@comcast.net


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