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Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Swattin' Flies!"

Only at Gus's...
About a week ago, Jenn, one of the local curmudgeons sat down at our table at Gus's Restaurant in Folsom, LA. "Our table" is one of three long twelve foot table that seats comfortably, about ten patrons. That table serves the earlier morning cowboys, plowboys, and handymen that come to eat before attending to their respective jobs. They leave normally around eight in the morning and then, our group comes in to take over, order and eat breakfast and generally talk about old New Orleans, politics, ( how Obama is ruining the country ), horses, growing vegetables and surviving retirement!

Jenn is originally from the Netherlands and can tell you some stories about the Nazi's siege on Rotterdam. When I sit alone with her, she opens up about her younger days in Europe and here in the United States. I always enjoy our, one way, conversations.

**She shows up two or three times a morning for basically a cup of coffee. I've rarely seen her eat anything for breakfast and when someone offers to buy her a muffin or two, she says that she's already eaten earlier that morning. But when she arrives at our table, all conversation stops, and if she asks you a question, you have to yell to allow her to hear your answer. Next thing you know, everyone there eating breakfast is in on the conversation.

And if she is pissed, many an ear will be bruised, young and old alike!

"That sorry ass bastard refuses to buy a paper!"That's one cheap sonofabitch, I tell you!

Right away, we know who she is talking about! Paula, who is another consummate horse person sitting across from me, smiles. Her husband, Larry, feigns deafness and says to Jenn, "Eh?"

Naturally, she turns to Larry and repeats her comment almost word for word. Then, looks at Tracy and says..."You know what that "effin mutherfu&@??cker" did to me this morning?"

"No Jenn, what happened?" we all asked, trying not to egg on her "filthy interpretation of the owner."

"I'm reading the newspaper, that effin over priced piece of shit" that I paid for, looking at the race results and he comes over to me with that damn flyswatter!"

"Swatting flies!" she says with all the venom she could muster!.

Gus's restaurant is the only place I know that, in the summer, the owner blatantly comes out in his apron and takes out a half dozen or so.

But Gus and Jenn go way back to the beginning of the restaurant, and he always takes good care of her needs. Everyone at Gus's that knows her, looks out for her. She has to be pushing eighty and is the penultimate horse lady. Everything she does is for the horses she tends to.

"Jenn ain't got a pot to piss in," I once heard someone say. Still, Gus likes to give her a hard time.

"I told him, "Get 'da fu&@?ck out of my face with that thing!"

"I know... I know what that mutherfu&@??cker is trying to tell me!"

"Dem flies ain't nowhere to be found, till that sonofabitch comes around.

"Sonofabitch," she mubbles as she gets up from the table to pour herself another cup!

"No good, son-of-a-bitch!"

Copyright 2016/ Ben Bensen III

** More about Jenn at: http://graphicgumbo3.blogspot.com/2011/04/until-now.html

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Scotty Sproles, Scott Sproles, Scott "Shadow" Sproles... I Remember Now!

Charting Our Coarse...mentally!
The other day I noticed a name in Linkedin that sure sounded familiar. It's funny how the brain works... Or doesn't!

So, I followed up on this Scott Sproles's profile and found him as someone I should know from Barksdale, AFB in Shreveport, Louisiana. But, I still couldn't place him until I copied his email address and opened up to him as the idiot who could not figure out our relationship... even when I knew our contact was with the B-52 at Barksdale. In the email, I sent him a photo of the work I completed at the end of our tour and congratulated him on his recent promotion. I don't believe he ever saw the original painting.

Quite a few years back, six illustrators from around the country were sent to the airbase for a week tour learning about the aging B-52's role in the new command entitled, The Global Strike Force Command. It was to be replacing the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and it's headquarters were, at that time, in Barksdale. Me and two other illustrators from the Air Force Art Program were trained to fly with a crew of five on a five hour flight for a mock up bombing run and refueling mission.


Scott returned my congratulatory email stating,"We indeed met through the Air Force Art Program at Barksdale and we took you and another artist on a B-52 flight across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It was a night flight and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you all and sharing our experiences with ambassadors such as yourself."

But, it wasn't until I ran across a blog that mentioned the names of the crew and there code names that everything fell neatly into place. Scotty Sproles's code name was, I suspect, for this flight, called "Shadow." Every one had a secret code name, even we three artists on the flight, but I don't believe we ever given an explanation for Scott's secret moniker.

Anyway, I searched through my sketchbooks to see if I could retrieve any drawings I knew I had done of him and the rest of the crew. I actually found two incomplete pieces. So, I decided to finish the two that were worth saving. One was from a meeting about our mission and the flight plans, and one from an underexposed photo a fellow artist took of Scotty in his "inner sanctum."

Here's the completed second sketch...

Although I sent other members of the crew, sketches from the mission, and because I never finished these of Scott, I never sent them to him.

So, Scott consider these pieces a keepsake of sorts and my way of saying, "Congrats!"...

... and thank you for your service!

Copyright 2016/ Ben Bensen III