In2-MeC

newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

Kolhapur, Maharastra
21 January 2003

When I was born my father was in the U.S. Air Force. He'd been in the Air Force since the Second World War, and stayed in until I was eleven or twelve. At age two I lived in Tachekawa, Japan. There is still a military air field there, but it is now used only by the JDF (Japan Defense Force). I checked Tachekawa out during a visit to Japan in 1997.

As a child in Japan I used to run away from home repeatedly. I'd go to the bus stop near my house and stand near the big people. When the bus arrived, I'd climb on board, probably with the help of a kind-hearted lady. Then I'd ride the bus until the end of the line. This caused my mother no end of worry.

I still remember the Japanese beetles that glowed with iridescent colors in the morning sunlight.

Here's a great question for a quiz show. Which American school for kids from 5 to 18 sits 2000 miles from the continental United States and 900 miles from the European mainland? And the answer is, ladies and gentlemen: the school at Lajes Air Base, which I attended from 1956 to 1960.

Lajes is a town on Terceira, an island in the Azores. You can find out more at www.lajes.af.mil. Featured on this Website are photos of Lajes Air Base from the late 1950s, exactly the time I lived there as a child. By seeing these photos you see Lajes through my seven or eight year-old eyes.

Lajes is just a few miles from a volcano hot enough to boil water. Every once in a while a ground tremor would rattle our windows. The whole island is really just a two-mile-high smoking cone of solidified lava.

No, I didn't live two miles up in the air. Every place on Terceira is near the ocean, because the island is a submerged mountain, part of a vast abyssal range called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Ilha Terceira, "the isle of Terceira," is one of a cluster of Ridge volcanoes that poke their heads out of the choppy waters of the subtropical Atlantic Ocean. These are the Azores Islands, a territory of Portugal.

The capital of Terceira is Angra do Heroismo. I remember the bright Sunday that my father drove the family (Mom, my little sister Kathy, and me) to the south side of the island to visit Angra for the first time. It took about forty minutes to get there in our dark blue 1949 Mercury.

Seen from the sky, Angra is approximately shaped like a crescent. The inner curve of the crescent is the shoreline of a navigable bay. At the middle point of the shoreline a massive promontory named Mt. Brazil juts into the ocean. Ships and boats ply to and fro past its forested hulk. They are tracked from above by noisy sea birds and from below by silent sharks and barracudas. Inland from the shore a multitude of white buildings topped with red roofs marches up a dark green slope. The borderline along which upper Angra halts is the outer curve of the crescent.

We visited the Misericordia Church, which is located along that upper borderline. We could look down upon most of the town from there. I remember standing on a stone wall to see as far as I possibly could. It was overgrown with colorful flowering vines. Small lizards with pulsing throats scampered amid the leaves and flowers. The wall commanded an impressive vista of the town, the bay, and Mt. Brazil. As I pranced about on the wall, the melancholy 'tung…tung…tung' of a hand-pulled bell sounded from the church tower.

Way out in the waters beyond Mount Brazil was a bare peak of pale greenish-brown. It looked like a compact Rock of Gibraltar that had been chopped right down the middle with a Titan's fiery sword. "That's called Split Rock," my father told me. "In the Second World War the Germans sometimes parked U-Boats between its two halves."

From the Azores we sometimes visited my mother's relatives in England. I remember going with the family to see Nottingham Castle, formerly the abode of the Sheriff of Nottingham, the arch-foe of Robin Hood. We also visited Wiesbaden, Germany, from the Azores. In a hotel there I watched a German TV show, not knowing what the announcer was talking about.

 

Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things;   the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past, even while we attempt to define it, and,   like the flash of the lightning, at once exists and expires.

Colton (1780-1832)

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