Stories about my family

Day: August 14, 2020

Camping With Friends, Chapter Two, Pg 21, “We Family”


PREFACE:  The military, like any large organization, is a community of individuals and groups with divergent cultural, racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds.  It has been my experience that these differences should be  inconsequential in our dealings with each other.   Accordingly, we should not be judged nor judge others in this manner.   Instead the individual is to be judged by his behavior and his character not by how he/she looks or social standing.  Everyone is equal in God’s eyes.  And this rule should guide us.

These truths were taught to our children and guided our relationships with others insomuch as possible.   Out of these beliefs, relationships were formed, friendships were strengthened and each the better for it.  The following story is about friendships that lasted for just a short time but were meaningful.  Memories they were the best and fondest of all.

STORY:  Phyllis and I were both fairly active in the years we were in the military.  Phyllis in particular, mastered a number of craft skills, such as tole painting, crochet, embroidery, oil  painting, and other like hobbies which required a lot of learning and practice.

I made a fashion statement with my selection of pantsOne of  activities in which we both participated was bowling.  She was naturally better at the sport than I and she demonstrated her superiority frequently. We had fun and joined  a mixed bowling league.   We joined along with two other couples who became friends.  

As we look back, they were more than friends.  In a way they became family.  We could talk about any subject openly and honestly, laughing and enjoying each others’ company.  I should tell you more about this relationship.

The orders that I received at the end of my second tour in Vietnam was to report to the U.S. Army Infantry Advance Course, Fort Benning, Ga.   We did so after celebrating a late Christmas in January.

Captain Ray Sales erecting the tent.           The family arrived and settled in and before long we fell into a routine which usually included work and camping.  The Advance course was a intensive 9 month examination of company leadership in a variety of complex scenarios.  We sometimes worked in teams to arrive at the best solutions. This is where I met Ray, the humblest and most genuine person I met in the Army.

I don’t remember the Captain,  a team member, keeping score with Phyllis.  Our team was called “beats me”

His wife, Gloria was equally gifted.  This is the first and only real friendship that Phyllis and I had while in the service.     We had  the Sales and other couples to our house for a food and games.  It was such a success that other couples volunteered  and it became a regular social event.  We had much in common.  We were career military families, attending the same School.  Most of the men had recently returned from Vietnam.  

At about the same time we joined a mixed bowling league.  It was more than a bowling outing it was a fun with friends.  Bowling scores were secondary, the joking and laughter were the main thing.  When asked what we should name our team, I responded, “beats me”.  And that was it.  Naturally, camping was next.  I called Mrs Davis, to make sure our black friends would be welcome at the lake.  She explained that she would not, because she would lose other campers.  I think that was a cover for her real reason for rejecting my request. 

Well that settled that.  Instead, we went a National Park near Callaway Gardens, about 45 miles North of Columbus.

We had fun with Ray and Gloria and their family.  Look closely at the photo, see Phyllis smile.

Garden of Gods, Chapter two, Pg 20, “We Family”


Derby, Kansas was a good place to live and a good place to retire.  We did so in August, 1981 after almost 22 years in the U.S. Army.   But we did not stay in Derby, we moved to Mountain Manor on the West side of Tulsa, OK.  

Rick stayed in Derby and married his sweetheart, Susan and are living there almost 40 years later.  I was assigned as an Advisor to the Army Reserve Headquarters located at McConnell Air Force Base, but was required to report to Military Command in Denver, CO.

Since it was close to Colorado Springs, we decided to make a mini-vacation out of this trip.  Rick had other plans so the four of us took off.

After checking in with Headquarters in Denver, we headed to Colorado Springs where we put our stuff in the motel room and went for a ride.


I think we saw a sign along the way advertising horse back riding in the Garden of the Gods.   So that is what we decided to do.  We chose  the two-hour ride with Academy Riding Stable through Garden of the Gods. Our guides had saddled horses ready and we mounted up.

After a short safety talk on riding  etiquette, the guides told us to stay on the trails and warned that one of the horses was a bit stubborn and like to leave the trail.   I think Randy got that one.  Phyllis kept looking back to see if Cynthia and Randy were doing OK.  Motherly instinct, I guess.

She knew how to ride a horse.  Maybe it was her training.

They are smiling because the trail ride was almost over with.

Lucky Catch, Chapter Two, Pg 19, “My Family”


This an unusual fish story.   A unlikely story of a novice doing the impossible.  But it is a true story.  It occurred at Davis Lake which is located just 2.7 miles from Pine Mountain, GA.  My family lived on base at Fort Benning about 40 miles South.

One day in the spring of 1974 while I was telling coworkers a fish story,  Larry interrupted and said “ I have never been fishing”.  He was from New  City.  Over the next few weeks we talked fishing.  Larry asked if I would take him.  I agreed and told him to meet me at the Lake a few weeks later.

Phyllis and I took our kids, Rick 9, Randy, 7 and Cynthia 5 to Davis Lake frequently.  Our Children loved to come to Davis Lake.  Swimming was their favorite activity.  Larry met us, ready to try out what he had been taught.  After lending him a spare rod and reel he tried a few practices on dry land.  Not bad,  I encouraged him.

We loaded into the boat, shoved off and quietly approached a favorite spot. I put on a live salamander on his hook and gave last minute instructions.  It was a terrible cast. Almost straight up in the air and landed about 20 feet from the raft.

As Larry was busy reeling up the line slack, I noticed the salamander frantically swimming in circles. Suddenly there was a gulp and the bait disappeared.  Larry now felt the tug and became excited and asked, what do I do? I told him to keep the tip high and line tight.

There was sudden zinging sound as line was ripped from the the reel.  We watched as the huge fish leaped into the air and shook water in all directions. But to no avail. He had swallowed the bait and his fate was sealed.

We landed the fish, headed for shore and weighed the trophy.   Over the next few months Captain Larry Cook bragged about how easy it is to catch fish, especially a big one weighing 10.5 lbs. A tall fish tail was also true, worthy of telling again and again.   And he did.

Davis Lake, Winnebago, Chapter Two, Pg 18, “We Family”


Camping at Davis Lake was an event for the Burr family.  We talked about it during the week with excitement and anticipation.  We all have a routine.  Phyllis did most of the work on Thursday and Friday.  Kids help, some.  I arrange my schedule so that I can get off early (2 or 3).  We’re on way out of town by 4 or so.   We stopped and eat at Captain D’s and had the family meal of fish.  Usually we arrived  at the lake leaving us plenty of time to get ready to camp before dark.

We usually pulled into our spot around 6-6:30, hoped out and each of knowing our part..My part was unhook and set up (jacks down, level trailer, hook up water and electricity,awning out, etc.

The Fickle’s joined us from Fort Benning.  Phyllis arranged inside for our stay.  Meanwhile, the kids usually have found friends, put on swim trunks and went to the pool.

While the kids are in the pool and Phyllis is visiting with friends, I got out my raft, inflated it, put in bottom boards, put trolling motor on, loaded fishing gear and pushed-off,Of course, I’m heading to my favorite spot for an hour or so of fishing before dark.   When I got back, the kids had already gathered fire wood and lighter knot to start the fire.  (lighter knot is a piece  of dead pine knot seasoned with resin that is flammable).  Soon the campfire is roaring and a crowd of campers have joined us.Most everyone had a story to tell and 2 or 3 conversations were going on at once.  A fun time to be camping.    

See the kid without a shirt.   He was struck on my wife.  Saying such things as, if you were not already taken, I’d ask you to marry me.

Even kissing my wife!


Everyone is laughing at his antics and Cynthia and Randy are looking at me to see my reaction.    Rick looks like he is a little embarrassed.  The kid  was a smart aleck.  If he were a few years older, I’d punch him in the face.   Just kidding.


Tent Camping, Chapter Two, Pg 9 “We Family”


Our only means to camp was a tent.  It was a large sturdy tent with a floor, so it wasn’t so bad, but we will buy another camper before long.I was in between tours to Vietnam and enjoying being with my family.

While we were living in El Paso we visited our relatives in Tulsa and went camping at Tenkiller Lake about 60 miles East of Tulsa.

Tenkiller State Park is located near Gore, Ok.The Lake is often referred to as “Oklahoma’s clear water paradise.”   

One of Bill’s favorite places, Strayhorn Landing on Lake Tenkiller, pictured here, is where we decided to go.  A playground and marina with concessions is nearby.

 As planned, Phyllis’ parents, Bill and Ellen, her brothers family, Billy and Kaye and their 2 children, Chris and Shelly, camped with us. Is it time to eat yet?

It has convenient access to boating, and plenty of places to fish.



Strayhorn Landing is an excellent place to relax and have fun..

it’s no  wonder Bill likes to come here.Bill has found a good place to catch something. 




Billy and I are solving the problems of the world.  Or something like that.  Kaye, Billy’s wife, is pictured  here.  Is she asleep?                                                                                             



Time for Phyllis and me to load up and make the trip back Fort Bliss, Texas, an 800 mile trip.  It was a good break for us.

A Fort Bliss, Basic Training Commander’s job  is a  grueling task requiring more hours than eight a  day.  As a result I did not spend as much time with my family as I should.

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