A Tribute to Grandmothers

Minnie Olson (2).jpg

Grandmother and her famous Chickens 1918

A Tribute to Grandmothers

My grandfather was born in Norway in 1886 he came to America in 1890 with his father , mother, brother and sister. Grandmother was born in Northern Finland or Lapland in 1886. She came to America with her family around 1890 also. Both families ended up in Michigan in the copper mining District after leaving Ellis Island.

The families having become acquainted in Michigan later moved to Northern Minnesota to the iron mining region near Bovey Minnesota. My grandparents were married in the little town of Bovey in 1912. Their wedding picture was taken in the small Studio where the world famous picture Grace originated.

A daughter Alice was born to them in 1913. Alice was the type of person who spent her whole life influencing people like Mother Teresa, setting an example for them to work around.

My father Frank was born in 1913. He was a stern, no-nonsense man. He could be meaner than a junkyard dog one day, thoughtful and considerate the next. Local Ministers that went to visit him later in his life must have considered, ‘WHAT IF’ thoughts of mission work with the Headhunters in New Guinea. They would have found a more peaceful welcome there no doubt.

Elma was born to the Olson’s in 1916 like her mother she never had a bad thing to say about anyone. She would not tolerate foul language. I was one grandchild who quickly learned soap was for other things besides taking a bath with. A tiny, little taste of soap removes foul language from the tip of the tongue relatively quickly.

My grandparents came to South Dakota shortly after Alice was born in 1913 and they rented a small farm. They began their lives together as Prairie farmers. Poverty to them probably didn’t mean much, everyone was poor, so what, happy and content is like gold in your vault. Grandmother raised her famous State Fair ribbon-winning Road Island Red chickens. It seemed like those roosters were three feet tall! They sold eggs or traded them for groceries at the store in town. There was always a few milk cows that they had for their own milk and if there was extra cream that was sold in town along with the eggs. Hogs were raised and sold at the butcher shop or the Livestock Sales Barn where they were taken to a meat packing plant.

My grandmother was a farmer’s wife. Many grandmothers during the World Wars worked in aircraft factories or shipyards along side of the men. Many joined the military and were in uniform. A grandmother no matter where she worked or what her title was, she was a grandmother, and always had a hug for her grandchildren. A hug and a kiss, a feeling of protection and safety that only a grandmother can give. That unconditional love is the closest thing to God’s Agape love. My brother Harlan and I broke some of her watermelons one time trying to find a ripe one. I can’t believe I’m confessing to this heinous crime because it deserves capital punishment. That has got to be a true sign of unconditional love. She should have banished us to stay in our house until we grew up.

Grandmother’s get a bad rap for spoiling kids. I wonder why it is the kids behave better after they’ve spend a few days with Grandmother at her house? It must have something to do with she makes them mind with hugs, love, and forgiveness.

Grandmothers should get much of the credit for keeping church’s alive in America. It is sad to say if the job would have been left totally up to the men the church would not be nearly as strong as it is today. My grandmother and my aunt Alice made sure we kids went to church. Alice became my mother in my formative teenage years.

If attending church for our family had been left up to my dad I doubt if we would have found the door to one. Dad viewed religion a lot like Woody Guthrie who said, “people go to church and sing “Stand Up for Jesus,” then they go to the ball game in the afternoon and say “For Christ Sake Sit Down.” That seemed to be my dad’s sentiments on religion. I always found that analogy more than a wee bit misrepresented.


Partake of the Elixir



Partake of the Elixir

I had a deep desire to partake of the secret elixir. I watched my grandfather from a distance as he proceeded to the old nail keg out in his workshop. From my Hiding Place in a far shadowy corner I watch him lift an empty burlap bag from an old nail keg. I then suspected beneath that potato sack was his precious elixir that I had heard him tell a friend about in the past. He took a sip, shook his head from side to side, then took a large drink. He related to his friend it was heart medicine. It actually was a very strong brandy not a sweet flavored variety, not the tasty flavored variety that I found later on in my life.

I was 6 years old at the time much too young to partake of heart medication of that strength. I loved my grandfather and I thought if it was a good thing for him to drink it must be all right for me too. After he went about his business doing farm chores I decided to partake of my sample of the elixir in the little brown bottle. I followed his leading and took a little sip, I was ashamed as I tried to spit it out, it was very bitter. I must have swallow some of it. Most of that day became very foggy for me and I wasn’t walking real straight.

This was in 1946 as polio was running rampant through our neighborhood, almost every family had someone with polio. My grandmother suspected that was what was wrong with me. She never got a good whiff of my breath evidently. I went to bed and rested, she came and checked on me many times during the day. Evidently wondering what caused by body to start malfunctioning like that. I’m sure if she had known what happened grandfather would not have been spoken to for a long while. She hated strong drink. I sat at the table with them to partake of the evening meal and everything seemed to be going fine.



A Pale Blue Dot 

A friend recently sent me this video and I felt the need to share it. There are so many profound points to ponder here I felt it must be shared. I hope those who watch it enjoy it and receive a message from it. Best wishes to all you bloggers and for the rest of this world may it live in peace.

This world owes Carl Sagan thanks for his book Pale Blue Dot and NASA a big thank you for making this video for the public to receive with open minds, hearts, and hopes.

A Pale blue dot  (a very small blue dot!)

        A profound message for all of us. 

This excerpt from Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot (1994) was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on Feb 14, 1990. 

From a distance of about 6 billion km.  Voyager 1, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and take one last photo of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of Carl Sagan.



I am not an attorney but as I recall our legal system depends on truth being told to maintain our system of Law & Order. We have evolved to a point where truth does not hold the value it had in the past. Truth has a different meaning to a few. If you’re a good enough liar and learn to swear by your lies. You can make those telling the truth appear to be the bad guy. Who will ever know?

This is a guaranteed way to unravel the fabric of our society one lie at a time. We have become our own enemy.

Able Mable the Secret Mission That Wasn’t



Lee’s Old Airplane

Able Mable
Secret Mission
That Wasn’t

I was a member of the first Able Mable Reconnaissance Task Force. After leaving Japan, and refueling at Okinawa, we spent one night at Clark AFB, in the Philippines. The last leg of the flight must have been high altitude; there was frost on the walls in the plane. We were packed in like an odd assortment of sardines with equipment and parts all pressing in around us.
Our next stop was at Don Muang RTAFB, Bangkok, Thailand in mid-afternoon on 6 November 1961. Everything we needed to get four RF-101C’s ready to start flying got packed with us on two C-130 cargo planes. When we rolled to a stop, and the rear of the aircraft opened. To our complete surprise, we were surrounded by Thai Army troops with weapons in their hands. They knew we were hand carrying weapons and they wanted us to turn them over before we set foot on their soil. So, they took our guns and ammo. We immediately began unloading and setting up our maintenance area in an old hanger. The four aircraft we were expecting needed to start flying missions at first light the next morning.

We had five brave pilots ready to fly every daylight hour for the next eight weeks. Many flew low-level reconnaissance flights over Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam and received small arms fire almost from the first missions. There were no guns on these planes, only cameras to shoot pictures. Later they were sitting ducks for the surface to air missiles supplied by China and Russia.

Major Harbst landed one day after a 50 Cal round shattered the canopy right behind his head. I saw some blood on his neck when I was unstrapping him from his ejection seat. A piece of the canopy hit his neck just below his helmet. He might have been the first American injured by enemy fire. We were down to three ready to fly airplanes for a few days until a new canopy got flown in.

Over 58,000 died before that war ended. We spent two months flying many missions out of Don Muang RTAFB. The Able Mable project later moved to a different airbase. Many of those brave pilots were shot down in the war over North Vietnam.
I was the crew chief on RF-101C, 56 – 080.  A/1C Leland Olson.


Able Mable Crew after 1000 Sorties in Vietnam

Our orders read have weapons as required; personnel will have in their possession all necessary field equipment including two blankets, shelter-half, and mess gear. Personal copy of immunization record, medical clearance, and personal
Identification tags. Security clearance for this mission is secret and top-secret. We left Misawa Air Base in two C-130 cargo planes. They were both loaded with aircraft maintenance equipment. We all wondered where we were headed, maybe a camping trip, huh? I didn’t think much of the tent idea.

We found out the next day we would be eating from a tent field kitchen and using the old G.I. Mess Kits while we were there. Three big garbage cans full of boiling water to dip your mess kit into after chow. Our quarters were an old building the Japanese used for prisoners in the 1940’s, but it served as a roof over our heads. The walls and ceilings were crawling with little lizards but they became friendly little guys because they ate bugs constantly. You did not want to fall asleep with your hind end up against the mosquito netting. After so many bytes in a 24-hour period, you were supposed to check in at sick-call for malaria tests

We set up cots with mosquito nets over them. It sure was better than sleeping in a tent! That was big snake country. We had outside toilets and showers; there were boardwalks to get there. Often there were snakes underneath the boards I traveled quickly to shower or the big outhouse. Our photo lab crew had a portable lab tent set up processing photos as soon as the first planes landed. “The Able Mable Reconnaissance Task Force.” The aircraft was ready on 7 November and began reconnaissance sorties over Laos the next day.

I kept the secret of the Able Mable Task Force to myself, but it soon became well known to the world that the U.S. Air Force was flying sorties out of the Royal Thai Airport. Don Muang was an international airport with planes coming and going day and night. The Thai government set us up on the far south end of the runway. We used an old hanger that was partly in the jungle. The U.S. flying reconnaissance missions over Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam continued for many years out of Thailand. In the years soon to follow there were different landing strips built in Thailand and South Vietnam.

Some school teachers from Misawa Air Base in Japan came to Bangkok for their Christmas holiday break. That soon ended the secret part of the mission for the 45th Tac Recon Squadron. We were known as the Polka Dot Squadron. After Christmas break when the teachers returned to Japan they told the Commander’s wife, “we saw your husband’s Polka Dot planes flying missions out of the international airport at Bangkok.” Able Mable had to have been set up with much haste because the polka dot paint jobs on our airplanes never got removed until much later.

The RF 101C also got used during the Cuban Missile Crisis. There were pictures on file of two people sitting in an outhouse with no roof.  The cameras on the RF- 101 C showed a clear view of them sitting in their toilet. The RF-101C was an outstanding, fast photo Recon airplane during that era.