A Face of the Recession

I posted this article over on HubPages (I no longer post there now) about four years ago at the pinnacle (or at least close to it) of the recession of which we still have not recovered.  The economy is still stagnant and unemployment, despite falling unemployment, is huge with about 20 million Americans unemployed. Lots of people have given up trying to find jobs. In any case, I thought my readers might enjoy this story.

Hard Times

Although I am retired, I still get up early in the morning, get some breakfast and go run a few errands. When I say get up early, I still get up at 6:30AM. Been doing that for years. It is hard to break out of even in retirement. Yes, there is a lot of traffic that time in the morning. But, I am use to it. In fact, it doesn't bother me at all.

Over the past three months or so, I have noticed this one man, who appears to be in his early or mid forties, walking along a busy road in my area. I have seen him cross six lanes of traffic at a busy intersection before. He is always carrying a toolbox and appears to always be in a hurry. I didn't know how far he had to walk or where he works. I had seen him walk in some of the coldest, wet weather we have had in many years. This has been a terrible winter for our area. We are not accustomed to it. Many times while driving past this man I have started to stop and offer him a ride to wherever he was going. I've just never been the type of person who would pick up a hitchhiker or even someone who looked like they needed a ride such as this man. You never know what you are picking up in this day and time.

Two weeks ago, we had a hellacious rain storm. I mean rain was coming down in buckets, wind was blowing so hard the rain was going sideways. Crazy fool that I am, I still got up to do my morning routine. Traffic was at a turtle's pace along this busy road that I mentioned earlier. Of course, I saw this same poor individual with his toolbox and what appeared to be a plastic bag that you would get at a grocery store to cover his head. Finally, I said to hell with it. So, I pulled my truck over in front of this man, rolled down the passenger window and asked him if he needed a ride to work. I thought the worst he could say was "no." He looked at me with the probably the happiest grin I have seen since last Christmas. He threw his toolbox in the bed of my pickup truck and got into the truck. We made introductions and I asked him where I could take him on this terrible day. He told me he had a part-time job at Home Depot. He'd appreciate it if i could take him there. I told him that would be no problem at all.

Thomas (not his real name) said he had been hoping someone would pick him up for the longest of times (I made a mental note to slap myself when I got home) . He said it got old carrying that toolbox to work. He went on to say he had a job at a local shipyard as a pipe fitter for the past 17 years, but got laid off about 18 months ago. About six months after he lost his job, the bank foreclosed on his house and his car. So, that was the reason he was walking. The job he had at Home Depot working in the Plumbing Department paid "about twenty-five percent" of what he had been making at the shipyard. Thomas said after he got through with his day time job, he had a night time job as a security guard at a nearby office complex. His wife lost her job working at a Day Care Center. She was now taking in laundry and ironing for people. All their income together still equaled much less than what he was bringing home from the shipyard. I looked at Thomas as he finished telling his story. I saw the face of a man who was tired, beaten and almost defeated by this recession we all have endured. They depend on the local food bank and mission house for food. Oh, and Thomas has three children to support also. Thomas said he didn't know how much more they could take of this. Living day to day, making it on the generosity of strangers wasn't what he was brought up to do. He had always worked for a living, ever since he was 12 years old.

As I dropped Thomas off to start his day off at Home Depot, I told him to wait for me every morning at a certain intersection. I could at least help him get to work so he wouldn't be dead tired when he got there. Instead of walking three miles every morning, he would just have to walk about 500 feet from the tiny FEMA trailer where he and his wife and three children live. Thomas hung his head down and thanked me for showing him a simple kindness. I think Thomas didn't want me to see the tears in his eyes. And that's ok. I know what it feels like to be in the shoes of Thomas. I told him I had been there before...in the early 80s recession. But, I also told him, I did survive and he will survive too. 

I write this post not to toot my own horn about what little I am doing for this man. But, to make this hub so as to point out there are still people who are suffering greatly during this "recovering economy" that we hear so much about from the Obama Administration. There are many "Thomases" out there who are hurting. There are many people who still need help like Thomas. If you can just do a little something to ease the burden of one person, you will be amazed how good it makes you feel.


Google Attacks Guest Posting

As many may know, I run (or ran) a retirement blog called "The Retirement Life."  I opened it up in November of 2013.  I have, for all intents and purposes, shut it down effective last week.  I opened up a new retirement blog called "The Retired Baby Boomer."   Now, you are thinking, why did you shut down the original retirement blog.  I got a notice in webmaster tools that TRL had "unnatural outbound links" and that I was accused of "selling links" on a PR0 site.  Yes, I'm sure in some alternative reality that makes sense.  But, not in this world, not in this universe.  As always, in any action with Google, you are guilty until proven innocent.  Now, I did have guest posting on that old retirement blog.  I allowed two links back to their site.  But, after doing "nofollow" on all outbound links, Google said I was still in violation of their sainted TOS.  Basically, I figured out that Google wanted me to take out all the backlinks in the guest posts after giving my word to the guest posters.  I considered doing that....for about 3 seconds.  I simply could not in good conscience do that to the people who entrusted me at my word.  Why these people wanted a backlink from a PR0 site, I will never understand.  But, that is neither here nor there.  I gave them my word.  A man's word used to mean something in this country at one time.  That's not the case now.  But, it still means something to me.  So, rather than take out the links in the guest posts, I decided to leave them up.  Google will eventually stop indexing TRL for their beloved search engine. You get the sense that Google is a monopoly that is practically begging for regulation at some point based on a number of different issues people have with Google.

Matt Cutts, an employee of Google, had a rather nice article in January of this year on the demise of guest blogging as SEO.  Now, I fully realize that most people use guest blogging as a means to acquire SEO.  Trying to get it from a PR0 site doesn't make much sense to me.  But, Matt's point is that he basically believes guest blogging is dead from an SEO standpoint.  That may be the case since Google is now going after sites that allow guest blogging.  Mine was one of them.  I can understand Matt saying "... if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice."  He has a valid point there.  There are lots of sites whose sole purpose is to exchange links as a means to garner SEO.  But, what about the sites who had no interest in SEO in regards to guest posting?  You cast them into Google hell with the link farms as well?  My retirement site was to offer my perspectives on retirement, to help people making the transition from working to retirement.  I was getting good traffic and comments for a 7 month old blog.  The guest bloggers were, for the most part, professionals in retirement planning, financial planning, annuities and other subjects near and dear to the retiree.  Google is basically saying you can still have guest bloggers, but you can't allow them to have links to sources in their article.  That is asinine.  No one is going to take the time and effort to post an article without, at least, making one link to a source.  Google is diluting the quality of the internet search criteria with their poorly thought-out methodology of cutting out sites with their broad scythe.

It appears I will not be able to have professionals on my new retirement blog due to this new approach to shutting down sites who offer links in guest posting articles.  That is a crying shame.  There are many people who are sincere, as I am, in wanting to help folks make logical choices for their retirement.  Isn't the primary mission of a search engine to provide information for people?  Google has apparently decided that is not their primary mission any longer.  Their new mission is to (as Matt so succinctly put it) "Throw out the baby with the bath water."  He meant it in a different way, of course.  He is defending his employer.  That's his right.  But, that doesn't mean I have to agree with him or his employer.


Sharks To Help Predict Hurricane Intensity

June 1 2014 is the official start of hurricane season on the gulf coast and the eastern seaboard of the USA.  There have been hurricanes in May just recently as a few years ago.  But, the real hurricane season starts in either late July or early August.  August and September are the months we fear most.  Why?  Because that is when the gulf and atlantic waters are at their warmest of the year.  Warm water is like gasoline for a hurricane.  It feeds the intensity of the hurricane.  Now, scientists have tagged fifty sharks, tuna and tarpon in an effort to gauge the temperature of the waters more accurately.  Researchers at Miami University tagged animals to gauge water temperatures and salinity at differing depths.  Quite simply, the idea is that the data from sharks could help weather forecasters plot more accurately just how big a storm may get by telling them how hot the water is.  Now some researchers are saying that living mammals acting as meteorologists is dubious at best.  But, thus far, Miami researchers say that the data they have received thus far has been encouraging enough for them to continue on with the tagging of sharks at the very least. Researchers do admit they need many more tagged shark, tuna et al to get an accurate reading of storm intensity.  With cutbacks in funding, that is going to be difficult to do.

Speaking of hurricanes, I encourage everyone to be preparing for hurricane season.  It is never too early to get started. The problem is that the further away we get from Hurricane Katrina, the more relaxed people become during hurricane season.  That is a deadly mistake.  People in New York did not know what to expect with Cat III Hurricane Sandy.  They have an excuse for not preparing for Sandy.  People from North Carolina to the gulf coast of Texas have no excuses.  We know what hurricane season brings.  And, if I were you, I would not depend on forecasts from sharks.


Puppy Day - 19 May 2014

It's Monday morning again.  Oh, how well I remember.  As many know, I'm retired now.  But, I do remember those Monday morning blahs very well.  The best thing to remember is that you are not alone.  Millions of people are in your same predicament this morning.  Misery loves company, right?  But, in an effort to cheer up those who inhabit this blog, I present to you the monthly "Puppy Day."  I pick out four delightful pictures of puppies that I consider humorous and sure to bring a smile to you face.  How can you not feel some feeling of warmth after looking at the little innocent faces below, wanting only to be loved?  I read one time that Dogs are the only creature who see their "God" every day.  Meaning, seeing you, their master.  Here now is a new set of puppies for you to look at until you boss tells you to get to work.  Remember, Friday is only 96 hours away!  As always, click on the image to expand it.

Snug as a puppy in a rug!
I say old boy, were you speaking to me?
I like to grin a lot!
I'm small, but have a big bark!


Letters Home from the Greatest Generation - Part II

For those of you who are curious what this whole series is about, please click HERE. I am not going to repeat the same thing over and over. But, just as a refresher, I am posting excerpts from letters my late Uncle John sent to his sweetheart, Alice, prior to and after D-Day. Both are now deceased. Even so, I have no intention of revealing some of the more intimate details from two lovers during that era. As always, if you see xxxx, that means it was blacked out from a censor. Loose lips absolutely could sink ships during this time period in history.

During his time in England, most of Uncle John's letters seemed almost carefree and show a bit of a boisterous side of him I never saw as a child. Part I was the only letter I will post while he was in Boddington, England. The rest, starting with this one, was after he left for his destiny in Normandy, France. He seemed almost child-like in some of his letters prior to D-Day. So many soldiers lost whatever innocence they had. Most were just kids from small town, USA. None knew how they would react when faced with death staring them directly in the face.

The letter below was dated June 4, 1944. This was two days prior to the "big push" as my uncle referred to it in all his letters. Most did not know exactly where they were going to land. My uncle was aboard a troop ship headed for Normandy. The exact ship was blotted out by censor. Even though the invasion would long be over by the time it reached Alice, the military intelligence apparatus was taking no chances. I don't know if all letters went through a censor during WWII. My father said his letters home were censored also.

This will be the last letter in which Uncle John displayed the "Johnny" everyone in his family knew. His future letters will be dark, foreboding and extremely graphic. Some have questioned why Uncle John sent such graphic tales of what he saw and did in WWII. One, Alice asked him repeatedly to share his experiences. She was a deeply religious girl from a deeply religious family. Alice felt as if Uncle John was cleansing his soul this way. However, after he sent his letter of June 15, 1944, Uncle John said she never asked him to give details again. Uncle John did anyway. Two, it was a way for Uncle John to talk about the horrors of war. He couldn't sleep at night after he hit Omaha Beach with his squad. I will not include all the extremely graphic, horrific sights Uncle John saw during this war. But, I will give a few details of what he saw. Most are just too horrible to even contemplate. I don't know how Uncle John lived through that war. This will be the last letter Uncle John sends to Alice prior to D-Day. It will be another nine days, after D-Day, before he writes another letter (June 15, 1944).

Cpl John S. Wxxxx
IV Division, Third Infantry, U.S. Army
USS xxxxxxxxxxx
June 4, 1944
My Dear Alice
I dreamed about you last night, Alice. I think you know what I dreamed about! I miss you so much, my sweet Alice. I hope you think of me burning up in this old smellay troop ship somewhere over the atlantic sea. It is finally here, Alice. The big push we have been training for the past 14 months. I can not go into all the details. But, something is about to pop and soon. My believe and hope is that we are going into the final year of this war. Some guys even say they think we could all be home by Christmas of this year! I pray that is so very true, Alice. If what I hear is true, we will 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. If this is true, then we are truly entering the final days of this terrible war. I have heard today that our boys took Rome, Italy from the germans. It was announced all over the ship. We all cheered and slapped each other silly on the back. If that is true and I do not know why they would lie to us, it means the germans are going backwards now. Sgt. Caffey told me today that we are going all the way to Berlin. Sometimes he says things he doesn't know anything about.
I must share with you that I am scared Alice. I must lead a unit of men under my command and care onto a beach tomorrow or the next day [It will be Omaha Beach as Uncle John will learn later that day]. I am worrie that I will fail my men into battle, Alice. I also worrie that I will be kilt. I know I promised you and mama I will come back. But, some of the stories going around make me think I may not make it. I know our division will be in the first wave of the attack. I will never tell any one else this but I cry at night thinking about this. I put on a brave face with every one here. But, I am scared. There is a big irish guy named Otoole who has said from the time we left xxxxxxxxxxxxxx that he can not wait to kill him some germans. I found him in the shower stall today with his head against the bulk head (wall to you) and he was sobbing very hard. I did not bother him. We all cry. All we want is to come home to our family. None of this makes sense to us. If hitler would just surrender, we could all go home. I would marry you as soon as I got home! 

I love you Alice. Never forget that. Please do not tell mama what I say in this letter. She would worrie even more. I am so scared, I have a really tough time using the bathroom if you know what I mean. But, I will do my duty. My men, my country, my family and you depend on me. I will not fail. If I die, just know my last thought will be of you Alice. Always remember this.
I love you, Alice
"With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944


A Circle of Wolves - Part II

***Note: Click HERE for Part I

Here now is the second and final part of "A Circle of Wolves" from Bradley Nettermand.


I decided our only chance was for me to venture into the darkness to try and find a mule or one of our horses that had run off during the attack from the wolf-men.  I had some luck since it was a full moon.  That would enable me to have some light in my quest.  I told Zeke to try and keep Billy awake.  I put them back to back in case of another attack from the wolves.  Having done all I could do for them, I set out to search for one of our wayward rides.  As you can imagine, I was quite fearful.  For all I knew, those wolves or wolf-men were looking right at me.  I left the silver skillets with Billy.  I doubt they would have done me much good. I didn't see anything as I set out.  But, I had the damnedest sensation something was watching me.  I looked as far as I could see in the moonlight. I could see nothing of our horses or mules.  If the wolves wanted me, there would not be anything I could do to stop them.  For all the good it could have done me, the Winchester was practically useless.  I should have just left it at the camp.  I had been searching for about half an hour when suddenly, I heard what sounded like something stomping on the ground.  I got down behind a boulder to make myself as small as possible.  It was coming from behind another giant boulder.  I got the Winchester ready despite knowing it was useless.  I was literally trembling with fear...waiting....waiting and there it was!!!  Well, it wasn't the wolf-men.  It was Star and Blackie, two of our horses.  Blackie was Billy's horse, Star was mine.  They had been grazing behind this huge boulder.  They were both high-strung horses.  I was thinking they were on their way back home by now.  Thankfully, they hung around.  But, there was no sight of the other horse that belonged to Zeke or the mules.

I grabbed the reins of both horses and slowly made my way back into camp.  Zeke was pointing his rifle in my direction and quickly greeted me with a big smile.  "They must not have run off far, Brad.  Glad you made it back.  Billy keeps falling in and out of himself.  We need to get him back home right away!" said Zeke.  Billy was in bad shape.  He had lost a lot of blood.  We wasted no time getting loaded up on the horses.  Billy was well enough to ride with Zeke on one horse, I took what I could with me on my horse.  I left most of our supplies there.  We needed to travel light and get back home.  I was thinking Billy wasn't going to make it back the ten miles back home.  He was very pale and was quite listless.  The tourniquet I made was holding.  But, he needed medical help quickly.  We secured Billy as best we could on Blackie with Zeke holding onto him from behind.  It was going to be a long ride back in the darkness.  I checked my railroad watch....it was now close to 4AM.  We needed to get going now.

We took off as fast as the moonlight would allow us.  I kept looking for any sign of the wolves.  I was thinking maybe we had seen the last of them.  I thought wrong.  About 30 minutes after leaving camp, I saw the sets of red eyes trailing us about 100 yards or so to our left-rear.  They were catching up with us.  The horses got wind of them also.  Star stopped and reared up on me, nearly knocking me off of her.  Blackie was taking off and Zeke could not slow him down.  It took me some time to get Star under control and heading off in the right direction again.  The wolf-men had caught up with me.  I took off as quick as Star could take me.  One of the wolves took a swipe at Star's hoofs, nearly causing her to trip over and break a leg.  That was the intent of this pack of wolves, wolf-men, whatever they were.  I had lost sight of Zeke and Billy.  They appeared long gone.  I was left to fight off these creatures as best I could.  Star was now beside herself with fear.  She came to a dead stop and reared up again, causing me to drop my Winchester on the ground.  I did the one thing that I knew would get Star to head home at top speed;  let go of the reins!!!  When I did that, Star took off like she was possessed.  I held onto her mane with a double fistful in both hands. This seemed to egg her on even more.  I looked back behind me.  I saw the red eyes of the wolves.  But, they could not keep up with us now.  They finally disappeared completely as Star came into the homestretch of our ranch.

I'd like to tell you that everything turned out okay, that everyone got over this supernatural event.  But, that would not be true.  What did happen is that my dear friend Billy Waller died three days after this incident.  Billy had just lost too much blood to survive that fateful night in July of 1954.  Zeke Bateman and his family moved  away about six months later.  I never heard from Zeke again despite saying he would stay in touch.  Of course, no one believed us when we told them the wolves, who could stand on their hind legs, attacked us.  We were told we just were hallucinatory with the pack of wolves attacking us.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Before Billy died, he told his story to the Sheriff separately from both Zeke and I.  Our stories matched perfectly.  Of course, no one ever believed us.  My dad told me there was no such thing as Werewolves and to stop repeating that nonsense before people thought I was ready for the asylum.  Now, you may be thinking, did Billy or Zeke turn into Werewolves since they had been bitten?  Billy died three days later, remember?  Zeke's family moved abruptly which was puzzling to many.  They had worked that land for generations, as far back as the 19th century in fact.  So, why did they leave so suddenly?  I'll leave that to the imagination of the reader.  

I hope you enjoyed my story.  I completely understand many, if not all of you, will not believe this story.  I realize it was a helluva coincidence that Billy told that Werewolf story the same night we were attacked by what I still believe were Werewolves. I don't blame you for being skeptical.  But, this incident happened 60 years ago this July.  It happened.  You can believe it or not.  That is your prerogative.  But, remember this....I have nothing to gain by telling this story.  Nothing.  Well, except more ridicule.  But, after 60 years, ridicule no longer bothers me.  I thank the proprietor of this blog for allowing me to tell my story.

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A Circle of Wolves - Part I

Guest blogging today is Bradley Nettermand.  Brad is a native of Helena, Montana, having lived in Montana most of his life.  He and his wife now live in southern Montana, near Big Timber.  Brad and his wife have four children, ten grandchildren and "so many great-grand kids we can't keep track of them all."  A retired railroad engineer, Mr. Nettermand devotes all his time now to wood carving.  He makes an assortment of wood carvings of bears, antelope, mountain lions and wolves.  In his spare time, he does work around his church and helps as many folks out as he can.  At age 75, Mr. Nettermand says he has no intention of slowing down.

If you have a story to share relating to the paranormal/supernatural, click HERE for details.  Also, to answer many questions, there is no charge for guest posting on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.


Well, I guess I should start my story at the beginning.  That's where most stories take place.  So, let's start there!   Despite what you may read and hear, living in Montana can get downright boring at times.  If you are a rancher, it's the same damn thing every day trying to scratch out a living with feeding livestock, worried about the price of beef, finding enough feed for your cattle and just a never ending list of worrying.  That's just the ranchers.  Folks all over Montana struggled back in the 50s when I was a small boy.  But, as you probably could imagine, life can be quite exciting in this beautiful state I have called home for 75 of my 75 years on earth.  I've been to all over this great country.  But, no place can satisfy me like my home state of Montana.  The one thing that 99.999% of folks in Montana have in common is hunting.  Ask someone if he wants to go hunting with you is like asking him if he wants to come over and eat some venison with you.  Of course you want to go hunting!!!  Working my dad's ranch in the western part of the state didn't give me many days of relaxation.  Hunting was the one thing that took my mind off living on a ranch where it was work from the time the sun rose in the east to when it set in the west.  I loved to hunt! Still do and always will.

Back in 1954, at age 15, two of my best friends in the whole world, Billy Waller and Zeke Bateman, and I got time off from our respective families to go hunting in the beautiful western part of Montana.  We rode horses back then the way people do the four-wheelers today to get where they going in the rough country of Montana.  I still say horseback is the only way to get into the rough country.  But, horses do get spooked.  Then just try to find them after they take off.  That happened to me more than once.  It's no fun looking for your horse for an entire day or even longer.  But, back to our hunting trip....we were heading for a place called "The Hanging Bluff."  Legend was that four horse thieves were hung together here back in the 1880s.  If you caught a horse thief back then, no need to go get the sheriff for a trial.  You took care of him yourself if it were your horses.  Our reason for going to The Hanging Bluff was the large number of elk and antelope that were in that area.  It was a good ten miles or so from our respective ranches.  So, we were not going off too far.  We arrived at our destination on a late July afternoon in 1954.  We had our supplies (dried venison, flour, grandma's silver skillets, forks, knives, ammo etc) on three mules trailing behind our horses.  So, we got unpacked, let the horses and mules graze (you always kept them apart as much as possible).  We had some salted venison that we were going to eat that night.  Started up a fire, tossed out our sleeping bags and settled in for the night.

Like all teen boys, the discussion was automatically turned to girls for most of the night after we ate.  Our hormones were in full throttle mode that night.  But, eventually, came time for what is a favorite pastime in Montana, campfire stories.  These are usually legends that can't be verified by any stretch of the imagination.  But, some have a basis in fact to my way of thinking. The favorite legend was always "The Custer Wolf."   That story always came up at every campfire I had ever been a part of during my youth.  The Custer Wolf was legendary because of his incredible escapes from traps and hundreds of hunters who wanted his hide for killing thousands of dollars in livestock.  For nearly ten long years he haunted ranchers in Montana and the Dakotas.  The Custer Wolf was said to have been half wolf and half mountain lion, a true freak of nature so the story goes.  He was said to be as long as 6 ft and well over a 100lbs.  That's a story that always gets your attention around a campfire, I promise you.  Wolves were almost completely eradicated in the 1920s in Montana.  Many say the surviving wolves, to this day, kill in this state due to those long ago range wars with ranchers back in the day.

So, now my story really begins.  

Billy Waller was the best at campfire tales of anyone I knew back then.  That includes the old-time storytellers like Mr. Holenski who was upwards of 80 years or so in age.  No one really knew why Billy was so damn good.  I guess it just came naturally to him.  The thing about Billy's stories, he swears they were all true.  So, after we had our fill of venison, some potato chips (only had the plain kind back in those days) and lots of cold water, Billy started off with his story.  This time it was about Werewolves of Montana.  Billy talked about how some cowboys were taking it easy after herding cattle through this area of Montana back in 1875.  They were all sitting around, having a few hits from a whiskey bottle when out of nowhere, a huge wolf of about 150lbs and 7 feet in length attacked one of the men around the campfire that night.  The huge wolf grabbed the cowboy by the throat, lifted him up and spit out the flesh into the campfire.  Cowboys started popping the, now, apparently Werewolf with as much lead as they could possibly fire.  It was all to no avail.  Only one cowboy survived to tell the tale until he too passed away.  Billy had never told this one before.  Both Zeke and I gave him hell for scaring us like that.  All Billy did was laugh and tell us we were little girls for getting so scared.  He didn't know it at the time. But, those words would come back to haunt him later on that night.

We got enough of storytelling and called it a night around about 11PM that night.  We stoked the campfire with as much wood one last time before getting some shuteye.  It still gets cool at night in Montana even in July.  So we all got as close to each other as we could for warmth and protection from any critters that might show up.  'Round about 2AM (according to my old railroad watch I borrowed from my dad), I woke up.  Both Billy and Zeke were still snoozing away.  I just got this bad feeling for some reason.   I felt like something in the darkness was watching us.  The fire was just mostly flickering embers by now.  I reached over to stoke it with a stick when I heard an unholy snarl from just behind me.  Thinking it might be a wild dog or possibly even a coyote, I reached for my Winchester .22 rifle.  This time the snarl became a deep-throated growl.  It was enough to wake up the two sleeping beauties.  "What was that?" Billy asked.  I didn't answer.  I was looking around our camp that night to see if I could see exactly where the growl was coming from.  Suddenly, the growls were all around us.  All of us grabbed our weapons now, not knowing they would be useless at the time.  We all went back to back with each other to prepare for whatever was about to come forward.  The fire was stoked, but was just flickering.  As I looked around us, I saw at least 8 sets of red eyes glaring intently at us.  Zeke was petrified, as was Billy.  Me, hell, I was just thinking this isn't normal for any kind of coyote.  It damn sure wasn't wild dogs.  This was something else.

The red eyes were moving in a circle around us now.  The growling began to intensify.  It seemed to rattle our bones at times.  Closer and closer the eyes came toward us.  Finally, I fired a shot at one set of red eyes. There was no howl, no shriek of pain or any such thing.  Instead, the set of red eyes I shot rose upward to a standing position.  And it came closer to me.  These were not coyotes.  These weren't wild dogs.  They appeared to be wolves.  But, to my knowledge back then, wolves did not stand on their hind legs like a man. I fired my Winchester at this thing point blank as did my two compatriots at the wolf closest to us.  It barely even acknowledged the slugs entering its body. This wolf-man leaped completely over us and landed next to Billy.  Bill screamed in pain.  It had lifted Billy up in the air with the huge teeth in its mouth!!  I then grabbed a stick out of the fire and hit the wolf-man with it.  Now, the lead wolf screamed with the pain of fire burning its fur.  The other wolves then came in to the campfire to attack.  I told Zeke to grab a stick out of the fire and help me fight them off!  Zeke grabbed one just before another wolf-man made a leap toward him.  Zeke, if I remember correctly, took the fire stick and stuck it right in the outstretched mouth of the wolf!  Another unearthly howl.  I looked for Billy and the wolf that had him in it's mouth was standing over Billy as he lay writhing in pain.  I started grabbing anything I could find to throw at the onslaught of wolves, sticks of fire, stones....and then I grabbed my grandma's silver skillets that she gave to my sister (who didn't know I had them at the time).  Instead of throwing the silver skillets at the wolves, I banged both skillets together as hard as I could, hoping this would scare the wolves away.  That loud "clanging" got their attention.

All 8 wolves stood and looked at me with an anger that makes my soul rattle to this day.  They then disappeared into the night from whence they came growling as loudly as you can possibly imagine.  I looked at the carnage before me in complete shock.  Zeke had been bitten on his left leg.  Billy's arm (his left) was dangling by ligaments.  Before I tried to assist both of them, I threw the remaining firewood onto the fire.  Zeke was screaming in pain.  Billy appeared to be in shock.  I was worried about Zeke, but Billy was my more immediate concern.   I was convinced that Billy was going to bleed to death before I could get him home.  But, how was I going to do it by myself?  I looked to see if the horses were still around.  They and the mules had obviously ran off.  We were in big, big trouble.  I had two boys who were hurt, one seriously.  Something totally unlike I have ever imagined had attacked us.  I took all the blankets and threw them around both Billy and Zeke.  I had to stop Billy's bleeding.  Zeke had deep bites into his knee.  But, the bleeding was not all that much.  I took two handkerchiefs (we wore those around our necks back in the day), tied them together and made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding just above Billy's left elbow.  That seemed to stop the bleeding.  But, Billy appeared unresponsive.  He was very obviously in shock now.  Zeke helped me as best he could.  He was hurt also.  No way he could walk home.  Home.  That was ten miles from here.  No way in hell I was going to try to make it in the dark.  Especially with those wolf-men out there.  But, it was not quite 2:30AM.  Billy would bleed to death if I waited that long.  Even if he lived to daylight, there is no way he could walk the ten miles or so home.  I had to go find those horses, at least one horse or mule in the dark.  Both the lives of Billy and Zeke depended on what I would do next.  They would either live or die by what I did.  That all depended, of course, on whether or not we got any further attacks that night from the wolves or whatever the hell they were.
Part II

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