The Great Thanksgiving Day Heist-1959

What follows is a true story. It is a tale of a time in the lives of a few kids, most of us 19 years old, a few older, but not many. I think the statute of limitations has run out on this little escapade as well. In any event, there never was any evidence of a crime, for this was just a gastronomical  misdemeanor that was never reported by anyone.

Over the years, my Thanksgivings have been warm times that I’ve enjoyed with family, and friends but in 1959, when I joined the Army, I would begin missing Thanksgiving at home for a time.

The first Thanksgiving I missed in Carrington was in 1959. The weekend before Thanksgiving that year, I was on KP duty at the mess hall at Fort Devens, MA where we were getting our training.

It was a Saturday, and as the end of the day was approaching, I noticed a chance to change the character of the upcoming holiday.

In all fairness to the Army, they do go all out for Thanksgiving for their GIs, but in spite of that we had an idea to put our own stamp on this holiday.

It was, for most of us, our first Thanksgiving away from home, and for most of us it was the beginning of learning to change how we celebrate holidays which were family centered events, to celebrating holidays with strangers in strange new places.

After all, the Army was our home now, at least that is what were told in basic training, and while I had no idea of how to reconcile those impossibly, contradictory tenets I was about to try. On with the plan.

One of our number was married and lived off post, and I asked him what his plans were for the holiday, and he told me he and his wife were just going to hang out at their apartment. So then, as I was in the process of cleaning up and looking about the mess hall, I noticed a large number of chickens, and a supply of other food that could all go into the making of a Thanksgiving dinner.

Having seen that, I hatched a plan to steal a number of said chickens, along with a sheet pan of brownies, needed for desert, and some other food stuffs like potatoes, corn, etc., to help make our feast off post at our friends small apartment more special. I ran the plan by our off-post friend, and he told me he was on board. The plan was a go.

While most people associate turkey with this holiday, we thought purloined chicken and fixings would be a fine substitute.

I found a place outside of the mess hall where I could stash the food we were going to use for our own holiday meal.

I began to systematically wrap chickens and along with the other items, I put them out the back door of the mess hall where they couldn’t be seen, and when we finished our KP shift for the night, and under the cover of darkness, we loaded everything, including the big sheet pan of brownies, into the car of our friend.

As he drove away we walked back to our barracks in the dark of that November evening, secure in the knowledge we were learning how to celebrate this new reality of the holiday in a strange new place with strangers who were becoming friends. And we all had smiles on our faces as we walked, even knowing that had we been caught, our lives would have been changed, and not for the better.

That Thanksgiving Day of 1959, along with a proper amount of wine, beer, and spirits we all enjoyed a meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, salad and brownies for desert, made even more delicious by our having pulled off the food theft that would become known, at least to us, as the “Great Thanksgiving Day Heist.” We laughed and toasted each other for a great holiday feast.

Even at 19-20 years of age, we were showing signs of being able to improvise, something that in the military is valued, or so we thought.

It was, as I reflect, a fine Thanksgiving.

I spent the following two Thanksgivings in Germany but by then the strangers had become close friends, became like family and many of them remain so to this day. We have lost several of our number, but each time this holiday rolls around, I think of them and the times we had, and I remain thankful that I have these memories.

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Veterans Day, 2018

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” Shakespeare’s Henry V.

fosnaugh, looney, pitt, spaulding, heimerel adinolfi, kallber

Roll Call, Veteran’s Day

The names that follow will mean nothing to all but a few who will read these words. They are the names of friends of mine, friendships that lasted over 50 years, and were some of the strongest friendships I’ve had. 

When we met, we were all 19 and 20 year old smart asses, who like most kids that age knew everything, except in our case that smart ass attitude was tempered by the fact that we were in the U.S. Army, and as anyone who has served in the military knows, they have their ways. 

What goes through my mind this day, as I remember these guys, is the melancholy that comes with acknowledging the absence of some of them. I lived with the guys whose names follow, for over two years while stationed in Germany during the early ‘60s  with the US Army Security Agency. We worked together, partied together, and shared our Christmases and New Years away from home together, in a time before computers cell phones, the internet, and when a long distance call to home was cost prohibitive for any enlisted man. 

The years following our time over there, we met many times, and created new memories. 

Carl Krome, Al Adinolfi, John Thompson, Larry Pitt, and Larry Spaulding all came to Carrington in 1967 for my first wedding. Adinolfi was one of my groomsmen. When Joanie and I got married in 1989, Pitt, Krome, and Adinolfi all came to Bismarck. 

We got together after that many times, with Dirk Vanderblue, Fairfield, CT. Doug Peacock, Westerly, RI. John Butler, Mystic, CT, Charley Seavey, Santa Fe, NM, Bill Conner and Richard Sleeper from Washington state, Hal Reid from Georgia, Len Nack from Newcastle, WY, and Art Gelino, Lansing, MI.

John Thompson from New Glarus, WI, has been to Bismarck several times over the years, and knows where the Elbow Room is. I’ve also been to New Glarus many times. Len Nack flew his own plane one morning in 2015 to have breakfast, and even saw the Elbow. I’ve not seen Clayton Haskins from Longview, TX since the Germany days, but we do keep in touch by phone. 

Today, on Veteran’s Day, I present the last roll call for some of the best friends I have been lucky enough to have. All gone to soon. I still miss them and think of them often. 

Allen A. Adinolfi, Worcester, MA/Cape Cod

Carl Krome, Elmira/Watkins Glen, NY

Larry Pitt, Ashtabula, OH

Doug Peacock, Westerly, RI

John Butler, Mystic, CT

Gerald Jochimsen, Medford, WI/Kassel, Germany

Bill Heimerl, West Bend, WI

John Heaphy, San Francisco, CA

Bob Loft, Los Angeles, CA

Jack May, Seattle, WA

Gary Fosnaugh, PA

Gentlemen, I was proud to have served with you and called you my friends. 


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Where The Popsicles Are

Cancer Cannot Conquer

Faith, Hope, and Courage

A year ago, on the 21st of this month, “Where The Popsicles Are” was published.

Joanie’s story is as relevant today as it was then. Please help me spread the word.


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Cramer Disses Former ND Governors

So Kevin Cramer is so arrogant and smart that he knows more than any other ND Governor. What Trump cool aid has he been drinking?

This excerpt from a New York Times article:

“Mr. Cramer is open about his capability to offend, and other Republicans are matter-of-fact about it. “Sometimes he says stupid stuff,” said Ed Schafer, the former governor of North Dakota. (Before Mr. Schafer offered that assessment, and unbeknown to him, Mr. Cramer slighted the former governor: “I know this state better than her, John Hoeven, Jack Dalrymple, and every former governor added up,” referring to Ms. Heitkamp and two former Republican governors.)”

As a reporter who covered his first political campaign in 1968, when Kevin was 7 years old, I really have to question his assertion. I knew every governor from 1968 up until the current governor, and I can speak to their knowledge about this state, and that also comes from working for one of them.

If he thinks he knows more about this state than the years of knowledge gained by Bill Guy, Art Link, Al Olson, Bud Sinner, Ed Schafer, John Hoeven, and Jack Dalryrmple, he has truly reached a Trumpian pinnacle that gives him knowledge that is beyond the grasp of the great unwashed.

On the other hand he is just another power hungry political animal who believes he is chosen because he is smarter than the average bear.

What arrogance!

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A Summer Flood

As I watch what’s been happening in North and South Carolina, and what is still happening, I got to thinking about one rare summertime flood situation that happened in, I think it was 1975.

I was a stringer for UPI, and they dispatched me to LaMoure to get a look at some of that July flooding and file something. As luck would have it, I was wandering around and all of a sudden saw this young woman carrying a small dog out of a flooded area. I grabbed two shots. Sent the film to UPI in MPLS, and the next thing I knew, the Mineapolis Star, then the afternoon paper in Minneapolis, had this photo on the front page with my story. Back then, UPI got the credit, the photographer did not, but I knew who had taken it.

Flood Phot 2 '76



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