Sunday, July 1, 2012

Littered Shores of our Lives

Broken shells littered the shore
a testament to the fury of the storm
so recently upon us did it bore.
Pounding waves incessant in their roar;
foam, dirty and filled with broken blades of sea grass
dotted the white sand as droppings from an angry sea.
Winds howled; a fine white spray burst from the waves
towering far above the floor of the once calm sea
scattering as delicate white lace
upon the rolling waves
only to fall back into their place.
Tides pulling anyone foolish enough to venture into the boiling surf
taking them far out into an unforgiving sea.
To many life breaks upon a littered shore
in a world standing as a testament to broken and wasted lives
that lay scattered in lands filled with storms and lost dreams,
for those who comes, linger a while, and then tearfully leave the scene.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Talked to God Today

What a day I had, busy as can be
talked to God today
He just listened to me
I talked to Him
told Him all that bothered me
all the worries, cares and hurts
I took and laid them at his feet
Funny thing about this talk
I knew that He was around
close as can be
just waiting to hear from me
I didn't hear a voice from the clouds
nor see a bush burning nearby
just a calm and silent time
the birds stop singing
the wind grew quiet
all got still and calm
much like a time before a storm
eerie it was, talking to God
but I knew He was there
for in my mind I heard a
voice, be still...and know
that I am here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Favorite Poem

I wrote a poem, in fact, I have written quite a number of them; but, of all that I have written, there is one that is my personal favorite.

It probably needs some explanation, as it is certainly the least in terms of length. But, it has much more depth than any of the others that I have written.

Many years ago, when my wife, Lydia died, I went through quite a period of what I guess some might call depression. It certainly was a very dark period in my life, one of searching, and longing, and not understanding at all.

I stayed awake at night for the longest period. Thoughts were confused and quite mixed. During this period I prayed a lot. One of the prayers that I asked was that St. Therese, the young Carmelite nun, of whom there is a statute in front of the Catholic cathedral in Alexandria, would send me a rose from the heavenly garden picked by Lydia. This is not an unusual request, in fact St. Therese is known for the fact that she wanted to spend eternity doing good on earth and let fall a shower of roses from heaven to others. And in fact, it is reported that persons who prayed to her have received either a flower petal or the scent of flowers in response.

It was my prayer that Lydia would be permitted to send me a flower from heaven as a token of her love and presence still in my life.

I even went so far as picturing a veil, with a faint shadow of a woman standing behind it [the veil of heaven] with a distinct arm coming out of the veil holding in a perfectly manicured, robed hand a rose from the garden of heaven.

I always wanted this picture painted.

I have never received this flower, but I am still patiently waiting. Someday, I will.

It is from this story of the heavenly flower that I wrote the poem, my favorite of all:

Far Away Friend

Fragrant flower
far away friend
Heaven's scent

Of all that I have written, this is the most meaningful.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Summer-time Battle

The water swirled
and then was still
a calm appeared;
but below was frantic .

Lurking in the deep,
cold , dark underneath
was a large and ferocious
striped beast.

Again the water churned
and the small darted away
seeking a shelter; an escape
from the striped’s feast.

A line was thrown
under a bow drooping low
a popping of the line
as it came slowly toward
the one so anxious for a feast.

With the sudden rush
a violent storm appeared
without so much of a warning
the line grew taunt
amid an explosion of sound and fury.

Mighty was the noise
and fearsome yet the fight
as a warrior and his adversary
fought to see if the other would give flight.

Then as quick as it began
it was over in a flash
the water was stilled
the noise drifted away
and calm returned in the midst of a summer day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Child's Tale

Fast as lightning
quick as a flash
away I went
darting here, running there
like a bumble bee I flew
so fast that I knew
no one could catch me
no they couldn't
cause I'm the fastest
and the baddest
I know that I can run so fast
but the one that can beat me
is my daddy - he's so fast!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Early Years - Richard Graham Moriarty

Born April 7, 1938, in my uncle's, Doc Hair, clinic in Lecompte, Louisiana. My mom and dad were: Catherine Graham Stafford Moriarty [known to her family as "Kitty", and Donald Peter Moriarty [known to family and friends as "Don"].

I have an older brother, Donald Peter Moriarty II [known as "Peter" later shortened to "Pete"]. Pete is 3 years older than I.

This is one of the earliest pictures of me, taken in 1939, when I was 1-year old, and we were living in Lecompte, where I was born.

Dad's Ford dealership, Lecompte, [circa 1937], located at the corner of Hwy 112 and Hwy 71, Lecompte [across the road from where now Lea's Lunchroom is located.

We lived in Lecompte for some 2 or so years after I was born, and then because of the economic depression at the time, the family moved back to Alexandria where dad could find employment there.

Mom and I, when I was 2-years old, in Lecompte

Jessie B. Kensie, my brother Peter, and I in Lecompte in 1940, I was 2-years old, Peter was 5-years old. Jessie B. raised us and has been a life-long friend and member of our family ever since. He was about 14 years old when this picture was taken.

Our first home back in Alexandria was 1032 Blythe Street. I remember it well, it was small, but very comfortable, Pete and I shared a bedroom, and life was good.

Mom and her sisters and my grandfather, Dr. G.M.G. Stafford in the late 1940's.
[1st row: Aunt Ann Hair, my grandfather, Aunt Jean Bomar; 2nd row: Tante [Amy Robinson], Mom, and Doodie [Virginia Kramer].

My Dad's side of the family [circa late 1940's]: [The only picture existing of them]
Left: Uncle Spec [Leroy J Moriarty]; top center: Uncle Skeet [Earl Moriarty];
Aunt Birdie [Birdie Dartez]; right: Dad

I had a small puppy "Tippy" - a small mixed breed dog, later killed accidentally when it ran out in back of mom's car as she was going to look for me when I was late walking home from school. That was a really sad day in my life, one which, 65+ years later, I still recall.

My dog Tippy and I in front of our neighbors house, Mr. Theo and Mrs. Edwards' who lived on the corner of Polk and Blythe Street.

Most of the residential streets in Alexandria at that time - early 1940's - were gravel, with only the main thoroughfares being bricked or paved. Large open drainage ditches were on either side of the street with a wooden bridge crossing them to connect to the driveway at each home.

I remember well the street crews coming by with a long wagon, pulled by mules, with long boards on the wagons. The men would stop at each bridge and inspect them and if a board needed replacing, they would do so on the spot.

The grass that grew on the shoulder of the ditch and the road was cut by a mule drawn ed mowing machine with a long sickle that swung out from behind the back wheel and it would cut the grass.

We had wonderful neighbors: all of whom served as watchers and teachers and friends to all of us kids. Times were very slow and good; though money was scarce, our basic needs were covered and we lived comfortably.

Pete, and our cousin, Joe Hair and I sitting on the front porch of the Blythe Street house, about 1941, note Pete's knickers that he had on.

Dad had got a new car about the time World War II started, actually it was a pre-owned 1941 Ford, but we were all very proud of it, as cars were hard to come by in those still dark days of the depression.

Dad, Pete and I in about 1942 with our "new" car

Pete and I standing in front of our car, about 1942

I started pre-school at Mary Hampton Rabalais' kindergarten. It was not like those of today, but we learned basic things: but, I dropped out because she wanted to teach us to dance, and that scared me at the time. Goodness, what I missed out on in my early years. Today, I can't get enough of it.

First grade through the second grade was at Bush Ave School [now called Rugg School] on Albert Street.

I remember a time in the second grade, Mrs. Cruse's class, that the principal Mr. Rugg came and asked to see me. He took me into the hallway to question me about a incident that had occurred at school. Seems that someone [Peter] had found a book of Police parking tickets and had filled them out and put them on all of the teacher's cars at school. Peter had told Mr. Rugg that it was me. Mr. Rugg [who was a very tall, thin man, well over 6 feet] looked at me with squinty eyes and said that he was told that I had put the tickets on the cars. My answer was a classic one of defense: "But Mr. Rugg, I said, I don't know how to write". With that he made some sort of sound that I can't mimic, and stormed off, I think to find Peter.

We had great times with my family in my early years, dad and mom took on us a number of exciting adventures, one of which I remember well at Valentine Lake,

Me with the fishing pole, and Pete and Dad at Valentine Lake, circa 1943

Mom standing on the dock at Valentine Lake, circa 1943

We went swimming at all sorts of wonderful places in those days, one of which was Shady Nook

We were always safe and sound, because Mom was all ways around, watching over us - my fondest memory of her.

The World War II years had a number of memories: I remember the air raid warning drills when the houses were required to turn off all lights and the town was totally blacked out, and the large air raid siren - which was at the fire station and around different locations in town would sound. A deafening sound to warns us of any trouble. Particularly, I remember one night we were to turn off all the lights and Mr. Levin, who lived on the corner of White and Thornton street, and ran a small loan office downtown was the Air raid warden for our part of town. He dressed up in a white metal World War I type helmet, civil defense arm band and carried a billy club and went around to make certain that all of the House shades were down and completely dark. We were all standing out on the front porch of our Blythe Street house and the house on the corner of Polk and Blythe across from the Edwards' house had a light on, with the shades pulled down. We could see Mr Levin run over to the house and beat on the side window and in a very loud squeaky voice say: "PUT THAT LIGHT OUT" and then beat on the side of the house with his billy club..quickly the light was extinguished, we all laughed at this sudden assumption of authority [much like the later TV character portrayed by Don Knots, Barney Fife.

We all did our part in the war - the scrap iron drives in town were big things - where folks would bring all sorts of metal scrap items to be melted down and remade into war equipment, and other necessities of life.

Peter and I donating our small tricycle for the war effort in 1942, with Mr. Bob Bringhurst who was the Commissioner of Streets and Parks for Alexandria - the big scrap pile here was located at the corner of Lee and 4th Street where the parking lot behind the Main Library is now located.

My brother, Pete, sent me, and reminded me, of the following:
From Life Magazine, 6 Oct. 1941: [I was only 3-years old at the time]
“It rained on Monday morning Sept. 15 over all Louisiana. From low, darkening clouds the drops spattered on the State's good highways, on its hundreds of marshy mud roads, on its pine forests, and on its deep swamps full of quicksand. The rain fell, too, on 350,000 U.S. soldiers and 50,000 U.S. Army vehicles as they fought the greatest sham battle in U.S. history. The attack had come before dawn. With two fast-moving, hard-hitting armored divisions leading the way, Lieutenant General Ben Lear, commander of the Second (Red) Army, had pushed his troops across the muddy Red River, was already sending long tentacles down the highways to the south, where Lieutenant General Walter Krueger's Third (Blue) Army lay in wait. Overhead, armadas of pursuit planes fought great dogfights, while sleek A-20A attack bombers and Navy dive bombers strafed the columns of tanks and trucks moving up to the front.”
On that Monday morning, in our home at 1132 Blythe Street, Alexandria, my brother and I were peacefully asleep in our bedroom that overlooked the front lawn of the house. I had just started first grade at West End Elementary School the week before – my brother was three years younger, not in kindergarten, yet.

About 5:00 am, we were awakened by truck engines and clanking noises out front. Sitting up in bed, through the window we could see a large number of soldiers moving back and forth, setting up equipment. A large elm tree was in the center of the yard; under this tree, they had emplaced a cannon, a 105mm howitzer. We didn’t know it, then, but there were three other cannon just like this one scattered down Blythe, between White and Polk Streets. The soldiers worked steadily, then quieted down for a while. Suddenly, there was activity (a “fire mission”), the cannon was cranked into position, then came the command “FIRE”, and an ear-shattering blast broke the morning calm (a blank round, needless to say). Blank or not, my brother and I cleared the bed by a good six inches, and our parents, who had come in to see what was happening, fell flat to the floor. The Battle of Alexandria of the Louisiana Maneuvers had begun.

Shortly thereafter, the soldiers began packing up to move: they loaded all their equipment, removed the cannon and carefully replaced the “divots” which the cannon’s spades had dug in the lawn. In another hour, they were all gone from our street, however for several days the battles rocked back and forth through the various neighborhoods of Alexandria. These were exciting days for all of us.

My cousins, 1st row: Virginia Hair; Graham Kramer; me; Richard Paul Texada [a neighbor of Jimmy and Graham]; 2nd row: Jimmy Kramer; Peter; and Joe Hair

Our lives were fun and simple in my early days. During the war metal was scare, due to the needs of our war machine, so many of our childrens' toys were made of cloth, pasteboard, or wood. Made no difference though, a child's world was one of fantasy and fun, and we adapted to everything. Gasoline was bought by the use of a sticker on the windshield designating the importance of one's job to the local economy and the letter designation on it told how many gallons of gas could be purchased at a time, no matter the amount of money a person had. The same applied to the purchase of food; each family was allotted a certain number of stamps and they had to be submitted at the time the food was purchased, these were not the present day Food Stamps, but merely allowed one to buy the items being purchased - the person had to pay with money along with the necessary stamps. I remember Aunt Jean giving Mom a number of her stamps because she and my uncle, Buck, didn't have children and she felt that mom needed them more.

During the summer months we went to a camp in Grant Parish, Magnolia Park, because of the heat; and Dad suffered from hay fever and the pine woods were delightful and restful to him, and us. Air conditioning didn't come into existence until much later. Magnolia Park was a whole different experience for everyone, particularly children. There was a creek that ran through the camp, and it had been dammed up in the shallow end to create a rather long swimming pool, unlike any existing today. A sand bottom, cold as ice, and running about 150 yards long. Three feet deep in the shallow end and ten feet deep at the diving area. There was a walking bridge over the shallow end which had a board water fall where the creek was dammed up to create the depth throughout. Families rented camp houses for the entire summer and we kids ran throughout the entire several hundred acre compound at will. Perfectly safe, and free as little Indians. The camps were mostly rustic with only running water, and an outdoor toilet. Later we built a camp there that included one of the only indoor bathrooms. But, we didn't mind the rustic nature, except Mom, who once went to the outdoor john and upon leaving noticed a snake lying on the 2x4 above the john. After that she made a neighbor, Mr. Hudie Bringhurst, come down and inspect the privy before she would enter it.

Mom talking to Mrs. Contoise at the swimming pool at Magnolia Park

One of our earlier camps we stayed in at Magnolia Park

My first fishing experience, Dad took Pete and I at Magnolia Park, my pole was a tallow tree cut off and worms for bait, I caught my first fish, a little "sun perch" about the size of my hand - I haven't forgotten it. Years later I caught the biggest fish of my life, a 2 1/2 lb. bass in Hudson Creek there are Magnolia Park, and I haven't forgotten it either [I was using a cripple minnow artificial bait and the bass hit it so hard it broke one of the hooks and bent the spinnow. I carried that fish around the park so long for everyone to see that it was almost rotten.

My best friend during the Magnolia Park days was Jimmy Furby. He was from Alexandria as well and his father was a Vice-President at Guaranty Bank. The two of us were like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. We fished in the creek and a lake there are the camp, built rafts, and swam, hiked and built bon-fires at night.

This was one of mine and Jimmy's first experiences with building a raft. A later version, years later, was built of 55 gallon drums and was quite fancy.

One of the funny - though could have been serious events - that occured at the camp involved Jimmy and I trying to catch a woods hog. The people - nesters - who lived near Magnolia Park would cut the fence surrounded the park and let their hogs in to feed and run wild in the camp. We were infested with the wild things. So Jimmy and I decided to catch one. There was a hog trail behind our camp that they always followed and so the 2 of us dug a pit. A deep and big pit. It was about 4 x 3 feet by 5 feet deep. We covered the pit with an old rotten cavas we had found along with dirt and some branches. A day or so later we noticed that the canvas had a hole in it so we pulled it back. In that pit was the biggest, meanest wild woods hog with its razor back hump trying to get out. The pit was just deep enough so that when it jumped its front hoofs would hit the top edge and he fell back. Each time he fell back the madder he got. We were standing there looking at our trophy when Dad came up and looked at it and said "get him out". We said "how?" Dad said, "that's your problem, get him out". Jimmy and I just looked at each other, that had never entered our minds. My brother Pete came up and was standing there with a Daisy BB gun and I said what are you doing? Pete said he was going to protect us. I told him that if that hog got out of that hole, he had better have something better than a Daisy BB gun. Finally, after much thought, Jimmy came up with the idea of throwing a 5-gallon can down into the hole to see if the hog would jump on it and then out of the hole. And finally, that is just what it did. 2 little boys shook a bush and that hog chased after us for a while, but we made it into our camp and he finally drifted away. Never again did we try to catch another hog, and Dad started burning the garbage in the pit which put it to good use as well.

One of the fun times, Mr. and Mrs. Honeycutt, who lived near Magnolia Park and grew vegetables and watermellons and cantelopes, came to the camp in their wagon and sold to the campers. They let us kids ride on the wagon as they went door to door in the camp. [That's me on the wagon].

One of the most memorable experiences was during World War II, the men from Camps Livingston and Beauregard would come out in convoy's to the park to swim and relax. They would leave the radioman in a 4 x 4 truck with the radio in case of emergency and I would climb in the back and listen to the messages and talk to the radioman. Many of those men were shipped out to Guadacanal in the Pacific and never came back. They were all so young and the times were very tough.

After the war we were treated to the Ringling Bros. circus which came to Alexandria each year. At first they were on Rapides Ave. near where the Monroe St. underpass is today. Later, about 1947-48 they were where Cabrini Hospital is now, and when they started building the hospital they were moved to the large open area across the street where Walgreens' Drug is on the corner of Masonic Dr. and Texas Ave. The most fun was not in just seeing the circus, but Mom and Dad took us at night to watch them load the circus onto the railroad cars. They were so precise and organized about it, that the Army used them to train the soldiers in loading troop trains during the war with men and equipment. We would watch the larger animals being led down the street to the train and the big trucks carrying the tents and other equipment. Fascinating experience.

Me feeding the elephants a peanut.

At the LSU - Tulane football game in Baton Rouge, I was for LSU and Pete was for Tulane [Notice how Mom and we were dressed - that's the way one dressed whenever you went somewhere - far cry from today!]

In the late 1940's, with the ending of World War II, we had to move to a new house. The son of the owner of the Blythe Street house came home from the war, and needed a place to live, so we moved. Actually we only moved a block and a half, to the corner of White and Thornton Street, 2004 White Street. This was the house owned by Conrad Weil who lived next door, built in the 1920's it was large, but in the winter...cold. It had 12 foot ceilings and a single floor, but it was home for the next 12 or 13 years. I can see Dad crawling under the house in the dead of winter with a flaming piece of newspaper to unthaw the water pipes, cursing violently and wondering if he was going to set the house on fire.

Times were much more formal than today. I hardly ever remember Dad without a coat and tie on when he went out. And, Mom was always dressed formally, usually with a hat and gloves when she went out. Mom used to dress me in short pants and a little shirt that buttoned to the pants. Wore those things until I was in West End Grammer school located on Bolton Ave, until Judge Julius Nachman [the City Judge] walked by one day and went home and called Mom and said it was time I was put into "long pants". Mom told him,'but Judge, he's so cute in the short pants", the Judge told her, "I know that Kitty, but the boy is too old to be wearing those short pants". I God Bless Judge Nachman to this day...and Mom and I used to laugh about it until the day she passed away.

One of the interesting points of the times was that rarely did we lock our home when leaving, everything was safe, never did anyone try to enter, and I walked to town or to and from school from White Street perfectly safe without my parents ever worrying about me.

I entered Bolton High School in 1952..and my sophmore year in Bolton was the last year we spent the summer at Magnolia Park. I got involved in football and summer practices and the camp had started to run down and a different set of folks started coming we sold our camp and left....sad, but wonderful experiences there that all children should have an opportunity to experience.

I had wanted to play football at Bolton, but I weighed about 100 lbs dripping wet, and Mom and Dad said "no way, you're too small and will get hurt". Didn't agree with them, but they were adamant. I heard about the position of football manager being open and got the nerve to ask Coach Guy Carroll the head coach for the job, and he gave it to me. Most people looked down on this work, but I looked on it as quite an experience. I can tell everyone this...I learned more about working, more about learning to organize myself, and more about responsibility then in any job I have had since. At 15 years of age, Coach Carroll soon turned the entire equipment operation over to me, with the exception of ordering and buying the equipment. All of the care, cleaning, and packing of the equipment for the out of town trips was mine. I assisted the coaches in the training room and learned basic first aid and treatment. In fact, Ransome Cole, who owned the sporting goods store that furnished all of the equipment to the school, tried to get Coach Carroll to send me in my senior year to a new program for athletic trainers. Coach Carroll refused, and it is too bad, I really believe that had I gone I might have had a whole different career field in sports medicine as a major school trainer. But, that's the way is is sometimes.

It's not often that a teenage boy is allowed to organize, pack, and load and look after all of the sports equipment for a 45 man team, and be responsible for loading it on a Trailways bus for every away game, but that is what I did.

We would come home from those out of town games about 2 a.m. and dump all of our equipment in the locker room. Mr. Ed Sumner, whose son played fullback for Bolton, worked for and volunteered to drive the Trailways bus so he could see the games. When we got in at 2 a.m. he would wait for me to unload everything, and then drove me to my home on the bus - right up to my front door. Mom and Dad were sound asleep. The next morning - Saturday - I had to be at the school at 9 a.m. to begin washing the game uniforms and putting away equipment. I did this every week for the entire season, and for 3 years as Senior Manager. My last year, Mr. Michiels, whose 2 sons played football, nominated me for the first Twin-City all city football team in the Town Talk. They didn't award it to anyone, as Manager was not considered a position at the time - but, I have the article in the scrapbook, and it was an honor, and I learned much about responsibility from it. In fact so much so, that James Bolton, President of the Rapides Bank, told me; as he and Dad and I were riding out to a Kiwanis Board meeting some years later, "Richard, you are the oldest 22 year old person I have ever known". And, I was. And, I was and am still proud of that fact.

I had a good life as a child growing up. Times were good, in a special sort of way. I've always said that the 1950's were the best of times. These were my early years. I have been blest to be from a wonderful family. A happy family - a Mom and Dad as loving, caring and wonderful as any child could ever hope. A brother - who later in life - has become my best friend and supporter. God has blest me greatly, and to Him I give all love, thanks, and praise.

That's the story of my early years. The remainder of my life is another...and quite a bit different. But, that will have to wait until another day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Clock

He greets everyone as soon as they enter the hall
with a great big smile on his full moon-like face
arms always moving, no matter the time or place.
Just wind him up and he never stops running
not allowed to keep time from losing no matter the pace.

The tick of the clock
I thought would never stop
it kept on going no matter the day;
day or night the pendulum swung
with each quarter hour the chimes were rung.

He's seen so much in our life pass by
keeping on measuring it tick by tick
counting the hours lick by lick.
Each day that comes his friendly face is there
ticking and chiming all the way.

This old friend has been here many a year
greeting me and all who enter
day by day he just keeps on going
never getting tired or slowing down
his face always smiling, never a frown.

How I love to see his face
knowing that he will greet me when I enter the place
never a miss of the tick of the clock
as long as the pendulum swings he never stops.