Hot Rod Memories!

It is 17 days til “The Great American Race”, The Daytona 500, gets under way and the fastest and greatest 43 race car driver drop the hammer  down!  Just thinking about sitting in my seat high above the start/finish line in the Sprint Cup Tower and hearing the rumbling roar of 34,ooo horsepower go hauling by me, makes goose bumps appear on my skin!  Additionally, the view of 43 brightly painted race cars with their sponsors visible for all the world to see, at times, is a vision overload!

All that horsepower, cool paint schemes, and excitement makes me reminisce back to the 1960’s and my high school days.  That was a time when, young boys and older men alike, were enamored with their cool cars!  All that reminds me of the car I owned back when I was a senior in high school, the year was 1969!

My senior year saw me driving and owning a 1955 canary yellow Chevy Bel Air 2 door hardtop.  Man it was a sight to see.  That  canary yellow Chevy was lowered, chrome reverse rims, and what a motor it had.  Under the hood was a 283 cubic inch V-8 that was bored out to 292 C.I, a Holley 4 barrel, and a 4:56 rear end!  It was lightening fast in a quarter mile race!  It was just like some of those songs from that era!

Here is a list of a few of the songs about fast cars that we should all remember:

The number one car song is without a doubt The Beach Boys hit “409”.  The song just  made you want to “save your pennies and save your dimes” so you could by a “four speed, dual quad, posi-traction 409”!

You can never forget Jan and Dean’s hit, “Dead Man’s Curve”.  “I was cruisin’ in my Stingray late one night, when an XKE pulled up on the right, and rolled down the window of his shiny new Jag, and he challenged me then and there to a drag”.  Back then I didn’t know what an XKE was, but I soon learned!

How ’bout The Beach Boys hit, “Shut down”?  “Tach it up, tach it up, buddy gonna shut you down.”  the song talked about the big bad Dodge 413 Hemi and the Stingray Corvette.

You gotta love Ronnie and The Daytonas’ song, “Little GTO”.  A Pontiac hot rod soon to be gone forever!  “three deuces and a fours speed and a 389”.  “C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out, GTO!”  WOW!

Don’t forget  The Rip Chords tune, “Hey Little Cobra”.  In their song they sang about taking their Cobra to the race track hitched to the back of a Cadillac.  I guess that they had a lot of dough back then!

Oh those hot rod memories are still very vivid for me, how about you?

Is That A Kleenex?

On my trip yesterday from LAX-LIH (Lihue, Kauai) I was forced to try to consume the crew meal that was boarded for me at LAX.  I normally try to avoid the crew meals that are boarded at LAX because the caterer there really puts out a very inferior product!

In light of the economy, my employer is doing everything to try to conserve capital expenditures.  Not withstanding are the huge bonuses that they handed out to the themselves, kinda like AIG and the other Wall Street bankers.  After all, they must take care of themselves, right?

I apologize for the digression, back to the discussion of my crew meal.  As I previewed this luscious culinary delight, I noticed that the package containing my plastic knife, plastic fork, salt package, pepper package, and napkin looked slightly different.  As I gathered up my utensils, I also grabbed up my “napkin” to tuck it into my collar to protect my tie from soilage.  ( I can be a slob when eating my crew meal in my seat, after all, there is no table or tray from which to eat off of!)

It was at this time that I examined the so called napkin.  It felt different to the touch, very thin and fragile, so I held it up to the light so that I could examine it more closely.  On closer scrutiny it appears that the caterer wrapped up my “plastic utensils” with a Kleenex in lieu of a dinner napkin!  That’s right a K-l-e-e-n-e-x!!!!

Have you ever tried to wipe some food off your face with a Kleenex?  The thinness of the Kleenex shredded into a thousand pieces!  I found that I was wiping my face with my bare fingers! EEEWWW!!!

Fortunately I had gathered up a few paper towels from the forward galley prior to departure, just in case I was a slob and spilled stuff while in my seat!  So after the Kleenex had catastrophic shredding failure, I was able to pick up the slack and remove the smudged food and other foreign particles off my face with the paper towels that I had requisitioned prior to takeoff.

Another near disaster averted once again!

So the tale-tail signs of eating were removed from my mug.  Unfortunately the meal was absolutely horrible!  The caterer turns a boneless, skinless piece of chicken quite miraculously into a “tasteless” piece of chicken as well!

So from the Hawaiian island of Kauai……


In The Twinkling Of An Eye

DSCN0303 by captleon51.

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

Over the last few months I have been wrestling with many things in my mind.  One thought in particular is the the aging process and dealing with my own mortality.

For most of my 59 years I have always been thought of as the youngest child of Archie and Ola Mae Hammack, Ted’s little brother, Jim’s little brother, Jerry’s little brother, or Zeeva’s little brother.  That has always been my lot in life, and quite honestly, it  has been very great ride!  I have always thought of myself as young person, yet the mirror doesn’t lie!  In less than a month I will celebrate my last birthday of my 50’s, what a rude awakening!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that myself and all four of my siblings were living at home in my parent’s very small two bedroom house on Griffith Way in Fresno, CA.  We were a very tight family growing up there.  Like all kids, I am sure that we were all anxious to “leave the nest”, become our own person, be self sufficient, and be on our own.  Little did we really know what would lie ahead in our future.

Up until 1995 we all were still Archie and Ola Mae’s five kids.  But in December of 1995, Dad passed away.  From that day, December 30, 1995, the five of us were thrust into the position of the patriarchs of this brood of the Hammack family.  From that point the harsh reality of the aging process became a part of my pysche.  No longer did I feel “bullet proof”, no longer did I feel the security that I had experienced up to that point of my life.  The reality that life is finite, that there is an end to this thing, really slapped me in the face!

As I sit in my hotel room in Honolulu and reflect on my past, I have great memories of my youth and the relationship that I have had with my brothers and sister.  They always took care of me as a youngster.

It is time that I let them know just how much I appreciated them!   Thank you Ted, Jim, Jerry, and Zee for being there for me.  I know that you may not realize it, but you all have been, in some shape or form, responsible for me growing up to be who I am!  I owe you all a debt of gratitude that I probably never can repay!  You’ve been the best brothers and sister I could ever ask for!

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this article, I am approaching the age of 59.  However my siblings are now in their mid to late 60’s, and my oldest brother is rapidly approaching 73 years.  Through the ups and downs of life, raising our own families, the five siblings have now come full circle to that tight family concept that our parents created oh so long ago!

Your legacy is still alive and strong, rest easy Dad!

You may be wondering who is in the picture at the beginning of this article?  The picture is of my grandson Cole Jeremiah Hammack, Jeremy’s son.  He is now 7 years old and in second grade.

Let your loved ones know that you love and appreciate them, don’t wait too long, because……


Catastrophic Zipper Failure

What is catastrophic zipper failure you ask? Is catastrophic zipper failure any worse than just plain old zipper failure?  What exactly causes catastrophic zipper failure?  Is there an emergency procedure anywhere to help me deal with this unforeseen failure?  Well I searched every available resource and found out that I was on my own!  There was no printed help to be found in any book or in any reference material of which I was familiar.  I was totally on my own to find a solution!  Oh no!

In all my 36 years of being an Air Force pilot and airline pilot, I have never experienced what I endured on Friday.  After a 2 1/2 day visit to Fresno for doctor appointments and Mother , sister, sons, and grandchildren visit, I climbed on a plane to go to work in LAX.  My secure world was about to come totally unglued.

Before I weave to tale of woe, let me tell you what my itinerary for the next 10 days encompasses.  I left Yuma, AZ on Tuesday afternoon, Jan 5th,  headed for Fresno and a doctor appointment and family visit combined.  From Fresno I flew to LAX to start my 3 day trip out to Honolulu.  Saturday evening, tonight, I fly back to LAX arriving at 5:07am Sunday morning.  I am then jumping on a plane from LAX going through Phoenix for the destination of Tuscon, AZ to meet two of my brothers to watch some good old fashion modified and late model racing on Tuscon’s 3/8 mile dirt/clay race track.  I plan on staying with them in Tuscon through Thursday morning, then hop back  on a plane to LAX and, once again fly a 3 day trip back out to Honolulu, Thurs. through Sat. morning.  Then, fly back from LAX-PHX-TUS and catch the last weekend of this big late model racing event.  That is my tentative itinerary for the next ten days!

Now that my itinerary is understood, you will have a better idea of my problem.  When I arrived in LAX I went downstairs to our operations center.  After a conference with the person who deals with medical retirement, I am gathering knowledge for that eventual possibility, I wondered into the Men’s room.  While zipping up my trousers, the mechanism instantly gave me a completely unrestricted feeling.  I thought that felt strange!  So I took a peek down at my zipper only to find that I now have a “gapper”!  I thought to myself, you gotta be s!#!#!#g me!!!!  What are you gonna do now, Captain??

I was in a panic!  I couldn’t get the zipper to reattach and function normally.  Now I have to come up with an alternative plan.  After exhausting all known possible fixes, the only fix that was available to me was to use 3 microscopically small safety pins.  I must now pin the gapping zipper as closed as possible!  This fix was almost totally unacceptable, but what was a Captain supposed to do?

To say that this fix was uncomfortable, would be an understatement at best!  But that is all that I have to work with until I could get to Honolulu and go shopping Saturday morning.

I now must leave the hotel and ride The Bus to the Ala Moana Shopping Center to see if I can find a pair of uniform replacement slacks that won’t cost an arm and a leg.  I am hopeful that I find a pair of pants, and leave the shopping center with a little bit of cash still left in my wallet.


I have just returned to my hotel room with a reasonable  substitute for my uniform pants and at a very reasonable price!  In fact, I must have found the most helpful salesman in all of Macy’s!  After I explained my predicament to this young man, he went to work and found me a couple of pairs of slacks that would fit the description I gave him.  After trying both pair of slacks on, I made my selection and I was on my merry way!!


New Year’s Resolutions We’d Like To Hear!

1. Say at least one nice thing about the Obama administration and take a hunter safety course….Dick Cheney

2. Root out corruption in Afghanistan, no seriously….President Hamid Karsai

3. Take a hike…S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford

4. Act as though there is no”I” in the Senate…Sen. Joe Lieberman

5. I will not rip off cigarettes from my fellow inmates….Bernard Madoff

6. Read a book, now that I have written one….Sara Palin

7. Make a list of the top 10 things not to do with female staffers…..David Letterman

8. Hide the camcorder from all future boyfriends…Former Miss Calif. Carrie Prejean

9.  Know when to stay off stage and keep my mouth shut….Kanye West

10. Make a decision and stick to it….Brett Farve

11. Come up with a better story on steroids than the one I came up with in 2009….Alex Rodriquez

12. Take a driver’s ed class and do all my scoring on the golf course….Tiger Woods

My Luxurious Boston Layover Hotel Room

Well I thought that I would let everyone know what my hotel accommodation are for my downtown Boston layover on New Year’s Eve.  Let me reiterate that my employer is responsible for arranging my hotel rooms on layovers.  I will say, first and foremost, that this hotel is located in the heart of downtown Boston.  It is also one of the oldest and coolest hotels in town. The lobby is grand and luxurious with historic pictures of its past.  There are pictures of John F. Kennedy, as well as his famous Mother and Father, Rose and Joesph P. Kennedy.  Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, JFK’s mother, is the famous daughter of “Honey” Fitzgerald, a very powerful Mayor of the City of Boston in the early 1900’s!

But that is where I will stop with the accolades.

It seems that whenever I have gotten this downtown layover in Boston, the room that is assigned to the Captain, me, is always the same!  It is not always the same room number, this particular room seems to have evil twin brothers and sisters in this hotel.  I am not so sure that any of you would pay the big dollars that this hotel gets for these rooms. But nonetheless, I have to camp out in the confined, cramped, luxurious hotel room!

Let me draw you a literal picture of my fine accommodations here.

When you open the door to my room, you walk about 13 feet down a narrow hall with a door to the right that gives way to the bathroom.  As you enter the bathroom you will notice that there is virtually no room to turn around or dry off from the shower that you will be taking!  Speaking of the shower stall, one of the walls is literally abutting the sink and mirror.  In fact, the wall is positioned less than the distance from my wrist to my elbow!  That made it very difficult to wedge myself in between those two objects to wash my hands or “blowdri” my hair!

Now for “the bedroom” portion of this luxurious abode, which is the actual living space!  I have just paced off the size of this room, are you ready for this?  It measures 11’x11′.  The bed, which is a double bed, takes up about 6’6″ of the length of the room and about 4’6″ of the width  of the room.  At the foot of the bed there is a small chest of drawers with a very small desk attached for the phone and a lamp.  There is also a chair for the desk, unfortunately you cannot move the chair much.  In fact, you can only slide the chair sideways to about a 35 degree angle!

To plug in my computer to the only electrical outlet, I had to slide the chair sideways, then I had to turn sideways to wedge myself between the foot of the bed and the desk leg.  Then stretch my arm out to its maximum extension to get the plug into the electrical outlet!  Once that was completed, I had to gather up all that energy and put it in reverse to get myself out of this contorted position!!  Once that was accomplished, I had to take a break and drink a Diet Coke to get my breath back!  Whew!

Have I drawn you a vivid picture of my room?