Steve Pollock

Since 1963.

Category: Loss (Page 1 of 3)

Message in a Bottle picture

German Roofer Finds Message from Grandfather

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12129102
German roofer discovers message in a bottle – written by his grandfather

A message in a bottle on the roof of a Goslar, Germany, cathedral was found by the grandson of the writer. An authentic lesson from history:

“On March 26, 1930, four roofers in this small west German town inscribed a message to the future. “Difficult times of war lie behind us,” they wrote. After describing the soaring inflation and unemployment that followed the First World War, they concluded, “We hope for better times soon to come.”

“The roofers rolled up the message, slid it into a clear glass bottle and hid it in the roof of the town’s 12th-century cathedral. Then they patched up the roof’s only opening.

“Eighty-eight years later, while doing maintenance work, 52-year-old roofer Peter Brandt happened upon the bottle. He recognised the letterhead of the receipt paper on which the note was written, as well as the name of one of the signatories: Willi Brandt – a shy, 18-year old roofing apprentice at the time of the note’s creation – was Peter’s grandfather.

“‘It was an exciting find,’ Peter Brandt said, given the improbability of discovering the bottle in the same roof his grandfather had repaired almost a century earlier. The letter, Brandt said, is from a dark chapter of Germany’s past. But its discovery offered an opportunity to reflect on the relative peace and prosperity of the present.

“Just a few years after his grandfather – who is not related to former West German chancellor Willy Brandt – signed the note, he enlisted as a soldier during World War II. He was later captured and imprisoned by the Russians. After returning to Goslar, Willi resumed his profession as a roofer but never talked about the war.”

New Zealand Herald

That the message survived the war shows that even amidst great destruction and degradation, something always survives. Humans press on, even if they have to leave their homes and try to find peace in hostile lands. Goslar’s mayor understands:

“The unemployment problems that Willi Brandt described have largely disappeared, according to Goslar Mayor Oliver Junk.

“Still, Goslar residents are moving to larger places to attend university or find work, said Ulrich Albers, head of the local archives. Stores and entire housing blocks stand empty in some parts of town.

“Three years ago, during the height of Germany’s refugee crisis, Junk made headlines when he proposed that Goslar take in additional refugees, citing the housing shortage in bigger cities. ‘It’s mad that in Göttingen they are having to build new accommodations, and are tearing their hair out as to where to put everyone, while we have empty properties and employers who are desperate for skilled workers,’ Junk told the Guardian newspaper in August 2015, referring to a nearby more populous city.

“Junk said he doesn’t regret that decision – and that the contents of Willi Brandt’s letter put it in a new perspective. ‘Every day, we’re discussing the many problems we have as a city that are allegedly very, very difficult. But with this letter from 1930, we can see that the many problems that we perceive aren’t really problems,’ he said.”

Ibid

As the line immortalized in Casablanca goes, “… it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Maybe not in the grand scheme of things perhaps, but I’m sure the problems Willi Brandt experienced on the Ostfront mattered to him … a great deal. And the problems he and others created on the Ostfront mattered to those they impacted even more.

Remembering the Past

Remembering Bill Schock on his 100th birthday … and the 52nd anniversary of Braniff 250 in Falls City. Also … feeling old from … time flying and stuff.

Since the AM2431 crash in Durango a few days ago appears to be from weather-related causes, never forgetting the lessons of BN250, as well as CO426, OZ809, EA66, PA759, DL191, and US1016 is as important as ever. Hope today’s flight crews are paying attention.

Photo of Bill Schock

For Bill

Back in 2014, I included a chapter in my book detailing Bill Schock’s war experiences as they related to his reporting on the crash of Braniff International flight 250 in 1966.

The editors at McFarland, rightly but regretfully, suggested I delete the chapter since it was rather tangentially related to the subject, namely “Deadly Turbulence: The Air Safety Lessons of Braniff Flight 250 and Other Airliners, 1959-1966.” (Yeesh, that title.) They wanted 80,000 words; I gave them 96,000, so yeah, some cuts were needed—like the chapter about events which happened in 1966.

But for what it’s worth, in honor of Bill, here’s the deleted chapter. I hope it does him at least some honor.

Farewell, Bill. Thank you.

Update 05:00 26-Jun-18: I revised the chapter to correct a few annoying typos and to add some information, including original source documents for Bill’s war record. Click the link below again to get the revised version. Thanks!]

Read the chapter at this link:
«Deleted Chapter About Bill Schock from Deadly Turbulence by Steve Pollock»

Photo of Bill Schock

A Final “Hangin’ Out the Warsh”

«This is Bill’s final column» out of countless ones he wrote over 71 years for the Falls City Journal.

With this column, he said farewell; the Journal has been sold and moved to a much smaller space in downtown Falls City which it had occupied until 1950.

It’s all extremely symbolic of the state of small-town journalism in the wayward America of the 21st century.

He wrote about one memory that I can personally relate to very much from my time at the Duncan Banner:

“A man came into the office and was pondering over the counter. Finally, he said, ‘I guess I’ll keep on another year. It ain’t the best paper in the world, but it is something to read.’ Another time a man brought an ad in for placement in the Journal and when he was told the price he said, ‘The old man gave me a better price.’ The clerk said, ‘Who’s the old man?’ He said ‘Bill Schock.'”

Falls City Journal

B-17 bomber in blue sky background

More Grief

This is kind of like how I feel about my (possibly four) upcoming surgeries: I don’t want to do this, but I have to, and I hate it.

Received a kind e-mail yesterday telling me of the death of Bill Schock of Falls City, NE, on Thursday evening, six weeks short of his 100th birthday. Cripes, 2018, you’re just not going to let up, are you? This bites very hard.

I’ve written and posted photos and documents here about Bill before. Without him, I would never have finished my first book; in fact, without him, there would have been really no book at all, because his photos and reporting about the crash of Braniff International flight 250 near Falls City in 1966 form the foundation of the book and provide witness to the events of the tragic night of 6-Aug-1966. He very graciously gave, with no expectation of anything in return, photos, archives, notes and the permission to use them.

But more, far, far more than that, he was what most of us can only aspire to be: a man of his generation who played an important part in his country’s fight against global fascism, and an exemplary journalist, the highest ideal of American newspaper reporting. At a time of a resurgence of fascism and a retreat into seeming death of (especially small town) American journalism, this is a particularly hard blow. It was inevitable. But still.

Bill fell last week, suffering cuts and bruises. But his hospital checkup revealed something he had, typically, kept quiet: he had end-stage liver cancer. He died Thursday night.

Also typically, he wrote just a simple six paragraph obituary for himself, leaving out … well, most of his singularly extraordinary life. His grandson fortunately took it in hand and summed up Bill’s amazing life in the «obituary that was actually published here by the funeral home»:

“Bill Schock, a war hero who helped save the world from fascism and a beloved pillar of the Falls City community his entire remarkable life, years ago penned his own obituary and tucked it away for safekeeping. “Papa,” as he was affectionately known by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren the past 50 years, used just six small paragraphs and half a sheet of paper in understating an iconic life worthy of a weighty tome, chapters of which could be mistaken for fiction. Words like “hero,” “beloved,” “pillar,” “remarkable,” and “iconic” were not included, nor even considered. There was no mention of “Bill Schock Blvd.” or the myriad of individual honors and awards earned either professionally, during a 70-year career at The Falls City Journal, or civically, when he served on the City Council, School Board, Hospital Board, Rotary Club, Veteran’s Service Committee and Nebraska Outstate Daily Publishers Association, just to name a few. It read only that “Bill has served on numerous boards.” It was that modesty that helped make Falls City’s love for Bill Schock rival only Bill Schock’s love for Falls City. …”

Dorr and Clark Funeral Home, Falls City, NE

Read the whole thing. Bill’s was a life well-lived, and for many people, including me, “icon” and “hero” are highly appropriate words. I typically don’t like the words “hero” or “heroism;” they’re trite and overused. Just my parents and my husband have always been my “heroes.” Beyond that? Well, I’ve found few that can exhibit real “heroism.” In fact, these days, you’re a hero if you spend a few hours suffering from a hangnail, or put a piece of trash in a garbage bin. Bill however; now there’s someone I can look up to as an actual hero.

He gave in, fortunately for us, to his family’s urging to write a memoir of at least his World War II experience. “Thrills, Chills and a Spill,” is fascinating reading. Very few copies exist, since he apparently didn’t think anyone else would be interested. (!!!!!) I fortunately found a .pdf of it and it’s pretty spellbinding. And very vintage Bill. He ends it with this summing up:

“As we leave Europe and the war behind us, I can’t help but think of the one year, nine months and 22 days spent here in history’s worst war, trying to do my small bit for my country. It sure as heck wasn’t fun and games!
“But like the feller says, I would’t do it again for a billion bucks. And, on the other hand, I wouldn’t take a billion bucks for what I’ve gone through.
“They just have to be the greatest experiences of my life.”

And the book is just one year, nine months and 22 days out of 100 years of his amazing life. The other 98 were exemplary of sacrifice, service and great good fun, from bombing the hell out of German fascists to listening to countless school board meetings. This one is devastating. Heart-breaking. Who can replace his extremely large shoes? I wish I knew.

Farewell, Bill Schock. Sir, we appreciate, thank and salute you, not only for your time in uniform, but also and especially for your long service out of it. You are keenly missed.

We Are … Human Shields

This is our reality … (another in a series): We are human shields.

Posted by Steve Pollock on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

January is a Killer Month

It's the Mirror, so not exactly the greatest source, but the stats they cite are valid. We have now lost four men who…

Posted by Steve Pollock on Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pics of David

Just some pics of David Garms I happened to find easily while waiting for sleep to arrive after this truly horrible…

Posted by Steve Pollock on Thursday, February 1, 2018

David's Obit

[Here’s an obit of sorts to go with the post I just added above. Writing obits is what I used to do professionally … when there’s a death in a community, the men mow the deceased’s yard and the women start gathering food. Me? I write obits. Sorry.]

David Andrew Garms, 50, died the morning of Wednesday, January 31, 2018, in his home in Hermitage, TN, from a sudden illness.

Arrangements are pending with the Hermitage Funeral Home. There will be no interment.

David was born March 31, 1967, in Chicago, IL, to Rosemary and Carl Garms. He spent his childhood in Eugene, OR, and his teen years in Melbourne, FL, where he graduated in 1984. He graduated with a perfect grade point average from the DeVry institute in Irving, TX, and received a B.S. in computer science. Besides those cities, he also lived in Pleasant Hill, San Francisco and Brentwood, CA; Denver, CO; Ann Arbor, MI; and Nashville and Hermitage, TN. He was a computer analyst in account security/fraud prevention for Wells Fargo Bank, working with teams in Charlotte, NC, and San Francisco.

Survivors include his mother, Rosemary Garms, of Hood River, OR; two brothers and sisters-in-law, M/M Allan Garms of Dallas, TX, and M/M Steve Garms of Hood River; his two housemates Frank Lester and Steve Pollock of Hermitage; and the five hounds of the house, Fergus, Bosco, Sascha, Roux and Goose. His father preceded him in death.

______________

“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
-Khalil Gibran

Farewell David

Frank and I are beyond sad and shocked to have to announce the death this morning of our longtime housemate David Garms. (This is not about me, and apologies there are so many “I”‘s in here, but I canNOT believe I’m writing this.) David was 50. This was an unexpected sucker punch. And so I’m writing at length from a broken heart about him and his role in our lives.

David and I (and Frank from 2000) had been apartment/housemates for 24 years, since we met in 1994 in Dallas, when he was tired of homeownership in Carrollton and I needed to leave Oklahoma but wasn’t really in a position to pay big city rent on my own. We had shared apartments in Plano and San Francisco and the townhouse in Ann Arbor and the houses in Brentwood and Nashville. He had been here with us since 2009.

Most importantly, he was one of our best friends. We sometimes got on like a house afire. The two of us and then the three of us occasionally drove each other crazy. But somehow it seemed to just work out. He supported us, we supported him. I couldn’t balance a checkbook, he couldn’t mow a lawn. It worked.

In October 1994, I talked him into driving down to Kemp, Texas, out in the country, and picking out a seven-week-old beagle puppy. David is the one who picked his name, Bayley Murphey Beagle. Our history with hounds began with David and Bayley.

The hounds, including those we’ve lost, Bayley, Feargal and Fred, loved their Unca David. Fergus has been his shadow. Like us, they drove him nuts sometimes, but he adored and loved and spoiled them as much as we do. One of the last things he ever did was to order them a big ol’ box full of bags of Blue Dog Bakery biscuits, along with a bunch of Pill Pouches so Bosco would take his pain meds. It’s gonna hurt to get that delivery.

He was very private and kept things “very close to his vest.” I’m pretty sure he would not want me to write what I’ve just put down. Don’t care; needs to be done.

He worked from home for Wells Fargo account security/fraud protection. I usually do my sleeping between 7ish and noonish to 2ish. Ish. It kept me from bothering him while he conferenced and kept the dogs up there so their barking at squirrels wouldn’t be heard from Charlotte to San Francisco.

Today I came downstairs and helped Sascha outside, then brought some stuff down to the laundry room next to David’s room. I rounded the corner and saw his feet in his doorway. Piecing loose ends together and from what his coworker told me, we think he got up at 6 a.m., sent a work e-mail at 7:01, then was online with work until 8. He then appears to have gone to shower and dress for a conference call at 9, but never called in. I found him lying on his bedroom floor at 12:20. It does not appear he fell. He looked asleep at first. While I was CPR-trained for teaching, I had no idea he was in trouble. I yelled his name and felt for a pulse but nothing. While 911 was ready to help and first response was enroute, I pretty much knew I was too late. That will haunt the rest of my life.

I tell this long story for this purpose: Not the usual tell your loved ones you love them thing, he knew all that. No, I share it because we’ve begged him to go to a doctor for a checkup for at least the last three years. The last time he had seen a doctor? May 1997. Almost 21 years. I now wish I had handcuffed him to the Jeep and driven him to our primary care. I usually nagged him to do things that he needed to get done. I wasn’t successful on this one and it’s too late.

Yes, tell your loved ones you love them, hug ‘em hard, etc., etc. But sometimes … you need to be a bully and aggressively advocate for their needs … to them OR for them. There were issues and warning signs, but for reasons of his own I’ll keep to myself, he refused.

Frank got here within 30 minutes, but the dogs were barricaded outside for three hours while the police/detectives/medical examiner processed the scene. They are stressed and feeling it. We’re pretty sure Fergus beagle was in there on David’s bed when it happened, that was his usual thing, to spend hours sleeping while Unca David worked. Fergus seemed stressed and was shaking this evening. He seems fine now. We’re going to miss David terribly and this upends our lives beyond what we can even process. We were getting prepared for losing Bosco (who is still hanging in there as tough as can be), but we were not prepared for something of this magnitude. Not even close.

All of our friends have been beyond supportive of us and we appreciate that so much. Our neighbors were here hugging me within minutes and they’re planning food deliveries already. Carol Miller Stewart … superwoman. Also here within a half hour and held my hand with all the details and funeral home stuff. Beyond grateful.

But please also extend thoughts and prayers to David’s mother, Rosemary Garms, who last week, while on the phone with David, fell and broke her hip and is hospitalized in Hood River, Oregon. David was her baby, the youngest of her three sons. His father Carl died a few years ago of cancer. She and David talked pretty much every day for hours. His middle brother Steve will be here from Oregon in the next day or so. He too is devastated and has his hands really full. And David’s oldest brother Allan, in Dallas, had a similar heart attack six years ago, also at age 50; his wife happened to be in bed with him when he began having issues and she got the chance to keep Allan alive with CPR until help arrived. So your support for us is wonderful, but please add all of David’s family … they are very close and really hit every bit as hard as us.

I’m numb and scatterbrained. I’m also never at a loss for words and that’s why I’m rambling on. The writer in me just goes on autopilot. So apologies for the length if you’re still reading. And thank you.

My god, David … one of my four “brothers from other mothers” along with Stan Bedford and Jay McGinnis and Tim Cronian! We’re gutted. We love you so much and are very grateful for all you did for us. Rest easy and hug Bayley and Feargal and Fred for us!

[And thank you each and every one of you. Your love and support comes through and helps us all. It is greatly appreciated. I wish I could hug all of you.]

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