Sunday, February 24, 2013

Part 1: Randy Rabenold and the Bulldogs Who Went to War by Ronald Rabenold

Camp Pendleton, California - June 1950 -
Just two months before the First Marine Provisional Brigade shipped out with haste. 

Randy Rabenold as a young Marine at
Camp Pendleton, California sometime
before July 1950.

Part TWO - Randy Rabenold and the Bulldogs Who Went to War

Part THREE - Randy Rabenold and the Bulldogs Who Went to War

May 2013 Memorial Day Tribute to Rabenold and the Bulldogs

The Trench Art of Randy Rabenold from his months in Korea.

Part 1 of 3 Parts:

My Dad served four years in the First Marine Division, joining two years prior to the start of the Korean War.  It was more than a conflict as some try to define it.  It was the first red-hot manifestation of the Cold War.  Americans killed and were killed in large numbers.  They fought against both Kim Il-sung's North Korean People's Army and the People's Army of China, fresh from their victory over the Nationalists.  The Soviet Union also had a stake.  They sold supplies to the Chinese as well as used the Korean Theater as live-fire training ground for their pilots in their newly developed MiG fighter jets.  The loses on both sides at times outpaced the carnage of WWII.

It is understandable that history has left this story largely alone, for even in its time, it was little understood and under-reported.  It would be easy to see how these men, who gave up a slice of their youth battling a hardened enemy through brutal Korean winters and stifling summers, could feel that it was all in vain, for they were led by politicians who grappled with the extremes of either winning through total war with atomic weapons or to be content in simply containing the Communists.  Our military works best when given the freedom to execute orders in the methods for which it trains: to vanquish the enemy that stands before it.  While this wrangling dragged on, men like my Dad and his five classmates were caught in a no-man's chasm of indecisive misery.

Mary and Zach in the backyard at
9th and Iron Sts Lehighton.

Randy Rabenold was the son of Zach and Maria “Mary” (Strauch) Rabenold.  He was not only the youngest of 3 children, but he came along rather late in the lives of his parents: Mary was 40 and Zach was 46 when he was born.  Mary was the daughter of German immigrants and Zach came from a large family of tenant farmers. 

Gladys Rabenold Stegura
in her 1930 yearbook.
Their first daughter Gladys was born in 1913.  Randy was born August of 1930, two months after Gladys graduated high school.  She was friends with renowned artist Franz Kline who lived two blocks down the street.  In 1917, their second daughter Helen died on the kitchen table in the presence of the town doctor.  Her throat closed from diphtheria.  She wasn't yet three years old.

Zach was a welder in the car shops of the Packerton Yard and had a small tack shop at his home.  He fixed harnesses and saddles, skills he learned growing up on the Mahoning Valley farm of Jonathan Gombert.  (Click here for pictures of the shop and how Gene Autry came to Zach for tack work.) 

Randy remembers his father working long hours and how much he enjoyed a beer when he arrived home, saying “das ist selles ava gut” (“that is really good”).  He also remembers how his dad, suffering from back pain, had to practically crawl up the stairs some nights.  This pain was most likely the cancer that would take him rather early in life. 
Randy Rabenold around 1940.

Randy Rabenold

Randy had a typical Depression-era childhood.  They lived “in rent” at the corner of 9th and Iron Streets on one side of a house owned by Zach’s sister Gert Smith.  The Frank and Gert Smith family lived on the other side.  His mother made her own clothes.  His parents never owned a car.  They walked to where they needed to go or used the free train pass issued to all Lehigh Valley Railroad employees.  They ate potato soup and onion sandwiches, the later became a lifelong favorite of Randy’s.   

He played sports with the “West End Bulldogs,” an informal collection of kids from the rural end of town versus kids from the Second Street area.  They even had their own clubhouse: an old shack with a jukebox and pinball machine.  It was once Eep Paulsen's dad's chicken coop on South Seventh Street.  He earned varsity letters in football, basketball and track.  He carried newspapers and played first row, first chair trumpet for the Lehighton Boys Band. 
Here's the Lehighton Football Team from 1945 when Ray "Nuny" and Randy Rabenold were just sophomores.  Randy is back row third from right, and Ray is to his left.  Philips "Eep" Paulsen is behind #55, Bobby Kipp stands behind #50, James Wentz is behind #51, Roland Alger is #69,   Dick Carrigan is #32, Teddy David is #46, and Donald Blauch #31.  Assistant coach Gernerd front left with Coach Lewie Ginder cut off on the right.
Randy and Nuny back middle.  #32 Dick Carrigan, #46 Teddy David, and
#31 Don "Duke" Blauch.

Like so many moments in life, there isn't always a clear reason for the things we do.  Randy seems to remember an “old-time serviceman talking us into joining.”  Except at first, it wasn’t the Marines.  In the fall of his senior year of high school, he and some friends joined the Pennsylvania National Guard.   

But it was a minor encounter, like so many simple twists of fate, that made them unexpectedly change their course.  One day, while he and some of the "Bulldogs" sat at the Hazel Maid Dairy Bar (where the Lehighton Memorial Library sits today)...

“… in walks Nip Kunkle with his dress blues on. He was home on leave. ‘That’s what we want to be,’ we said. Nip was a local hero. He used to break up barroom fights. Good football player, good basketball player.  He even won the scoring crown of the Lehigh Valley League with a last place Lehighton ball club.”
                        -Except from Joel Finsel’s biography entitled “Double R”

Bobby failed his initial
Marine physical at
Wilkes-Barre due to a problem
with his ears.  But he would
be cleared later that summer
and eventually
was attached to the
First Marine Division.  This
twist of fate eventually put Bobby
at a different part of battle field.
The tallest of the Bulldogs, Bill was
the Center on the basketball
squad and a tackle on the
 Indians Football team.
His parents were first generation
immigrants from Czechoslovakia and
was admired for his "football
spirit" by his classmates.
Ray or "Nuny" was quarterback
and point guard for the football
and basketball teams.  He was
known for his threat of
rolling left and throwing
right like no one else in the
league.  He was also an
excellent clarinet player.

And so goes the story of how six Lehighton High classmates of 1948 signed up for the Marines:  It was Randy, Richard “Dick” Carrigan, cousin Ray “Nuny” Rabenold, Robert “Bobby” Kipp, William “Bill” Kulha, and Donald Blauch.  All were "Bulldogs" and they all joined together.  Though Nuny and Randy were cousins, Randy said Nuny would have been his best friend anyway.  Today, only Rabenold and Blaugh remain.

One of the favorite "Bulldog" hangouts was the Lehighton Fire Company's recreation hall where they often shot pool.  It was decided they would meet there on the morning after graduation to walk downtown for the train to Wilkes-Barre for their Marine Corps physical.  Incidentally, a block up the street, their classmates were gathering in front of the high school, readying to leave for the Senior Class outing.

As they walked down South Street together, they could hear the hollers of some of their classmates, including an unpromising "you'll be sorry," words that bit into the unsettled knots hiding in the folds of their stomachs.

All passed the physical but one: Bobby Kipp had a problem with his ears.  It delayed his entry.  It was a twist of fate that eventually put him at a different place on battlefield.

The Lehighton Lehigh Valley Railroad Station was located behind the Hotel Lehighton
(today's Lehighton Hi-Rise) on the Rt 209 bypass.  The large building and chimney at the right corner of this frame
is the Obert Slaughter and Meat-packing House, which was located behind today's "Alfies Pizza."
(Incidentally, the penny scale seen at the right can be seen today in the YMCA Building on Broadway, Jim Thorpe.)
Above, right, Rabenold's senior year quote below his picture is a testament of what his 'bulldog' friends meant to him.

Later that same day, they returned to Lehighton with enough time to pack a few things and say a few quick good-byes.  They re-boarded a train to Philadelphia which took them on a 21-hour trip to Parris Island, South Carolina.  All the "Bulldogs" but Ray Rabenold and Bobby Kipp were in Platoon 96.  Bobby was delayed due to his ears and Ray hit a minor medical snag once at camp.  It was a good thing for Randy to have so many of his buddies around him.  He had trouble tying his ties and wouldn't have passed inspection if it wasn't for Bill Kulha.

A fifteen day "Boot Camp Leave" was given to the men of the 96th Platoon, but otherwise their future with the Corps was not yet clear.

By the Fall of 1948 Randy and Nuny felt like rock stars for the Division Band was in high demand. The Marines converted Randy into a baritone horn player by this time. They played a sweet potato festival in Orangeburg, then a concert at the Marines' steeped "Lyceum Hall."  
One of these baritone players is Randy and a clarinet player Nuny.  They also played
"Hail to the Chief" for Truman, Randy claiming in a letter to have been within
"10 feet" of the President.

Later that week, a battalion parade and then packed up for a road trip to Walterburg.  They flew to Miami for the largest Legionaries convention to date.  a seven hour parade was planned but it was cut short due to heavy rains.  

But still the band was able to lead the parade and play "Hail to the Chief" for President Truman and his daughter.

Then in late December they traveled to Miami again to play at the Orange Bowl.

As good fortune would have it, Randy and Ray "Nuny" Rabenold were selected to attend the United States Naval School of Music.  The Navy just began accepting Marine recruits the year before.  Randy was somewhat surprised that he and Ray were accepted.  According to Randy, the Lehighton Boys Band had somehow established a reputation with one of the directors at the school.  They filled two of only fifteen spots open to Marine servicemen that year.  

Back then, it was a six month school at the Naval Shipyard and Gun Factory in Anacostia Maryland (Washington DC). Today the Naval School of Music is run as a four-year college.

One of the highlights of his six months in Washington was a surprise visit from their buddy, Bobby Kipp, replete in his dress blues.  He was eventually cleared to go and had just graduated boot camp.  The three friends enjoyed a night in the Capital.  While in D.C., Ray and Randy did get a few weekends of leave in which they headed home.  

Once they hitchhiked home.  It was a time when a pair of Marines had no problem finding people willing to give them a ride, nor did they need to question the character of those stopping for them either.  Another time they took the train.  A ticket from D.C. to Philadelphia at that time cost two dollars. 
The Bulldog's in Platoon 96 at Parris Island: Randy is 6th from the right, second row.
Don "Duke" Blauch, Richard "Dick" Carrigan, and Bill Kulha were also in this platoon. 
Ray "Nuny" Rabenold hit a minor medical snag upon arrival at camp that delayed his entry.  
Both he and Bobby Kipp were assigned to Platoon 97. 

While at Camp Lejeune, N.C.,  Don Blauch and a few of his buddies thumbed home too. One time they met his brother Kenneth Blauch and Glenn "Pappy" Warner (a WWII veteran) at the bottom of Route 309 and went to a Phillies game.  Then after a precious couple days at home, they hitched back to camp in time for Monday duty.

Marine Barracks at the Naval Gun Factory in Washington DC.
Randy and Ray Rabenold were still stationed at the Naval Gun Factory in Washington DC as of April 1949 with the Headquarters and Service Battalion which is home of the Marine Corps Band.  By July, they were in Oceanside California, at Camp Pendleton, assigned to Company B, 11th Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, simply known as "The Division."

This is when Randy and many of his buddies found their way to "Apache Jack's" Oceanside tattoo parlor.  The Native American catered to the Marines at the base and had many ideas in a book.  Randy selected a multi-colored dagger.  Thirty minutes and $5 later, it was done.  "And did I catch Hell from my mom back home," Randy said of the day his mother saw it when he woke up one morning on leave before shipping out to Korea.
This Apache Jack "flash sheet" has a strong
Marine Corps theme to appeal to his Oceanside customer
base.  These dagger designs are very similar to the tattoo
Rabenold received from Apache Jack for $5 back in 1950.
A close look at this picture reveals Apache Jack's signature
on the bottom.  This flash sheet appears courtesy of Escondido Tattoo
Much help on Apache Jack research goes out to Carmen Nyssen
in California.  Please check out her blog,
Buzzworthy Tattoo History which
takes a comprehensive 
look at the culture and social
history of tattooing on the 
West Coast.

This Apache Jack business card appears courtesy
of Carmen Nyssen, tattoo artist historian from California. 

The men were quite busy at Oceanside.  Playing in many parades for baseball and football games to parades for retiring generals, always in their "dress blues," a condition Randy complained about in his letters home.  
First Division Marine Band parades in Oceanside:
One of the few division parades the men had without their dress blues, causing Randy to celebrate the fact in a letter home.
But Randy and Nuny were owed 65-days of furlough time.  And despite their tough schedule, there was hope that the band director would find time for them to use it.  So in February several of the men including Randy and Nuny bought a car together and budgeted out a cross-country trip back east.  (Several successive letters included many "overhauls" to the car to get it in running condition.)
Detailed hopes for a cross-country furlough trip - 15 February 1950 - Page 1. 

Page 2 Feb 1950 - "You'd think, the way you talk, that we're driving through
Hell on a go-cart." 
Of course the trip never materialized against the rigorous band schedule.  After all, General Esrkine had ordered a large expansion of the Division Band at this time.  Certainly he had to prove the band's utility.  Giving one band member furlough time would mean giving them all time off, therefore, no one was given one that summer.  And of course the war no one knew was coming was bearing down on them.
"Where's the rest of the Bulldogs?" - A common expression for Norman
Friend and many of the Bulldogs.

Two other Bulldogs: Karl "Grover" Bisbing and Don Blauch from the 1948
LHS yearbook.

(Two friends Randy always asked about in his letters home were "Epps" Phillips Paulsen and "Grover" Karl Bisbing.  Epps was so named after his father's initials: Edgar Peter Paulsen.  How Karl became "Grover" is unclear, however if you knew Karl's personality, Grover seems quite fitting to me.  Epps tried college for a while and then got married and became a machinist, living most of his life in Columbus Ohio.  Epps would come visit Dad once a summer for several days, his baritone voice continued telling stories as he followed Dad around the house on Dad continued his household chores.  Grover eventually joined the Marines but shortly in, regretted his decision.  His D.I. eventually located Randy and Nuny to call on Grover to offer him a "pep talk.")

Epp Paulsen on a visit in 1965.  That's Randy to the right
with his son Rick on his lap.  Man in corner unknown.
Tom Fortson was another Marine Corps bandsman.  He too was given an opportunity to attend the school of music.  “When the offer came through I realized I had less than a year to go on my enlistment.  I pointed that out to my CO and I didn’t get to go.  That was a short time before Korea broke open.” 

Tom’s Military Specialty Number (MOS) is 5541, trumpet.  He got to know Randy (MOS 5534 for ‘baritone”) and Nuny (MOS 5543 for “clarinet”) at Camp Pendleton (Oceanside).  When it came to being in the Brigade Band, no matter how good you were, the Marine Corps made sure one thing was understood: You were an infantryman first, a bandsmen second.

However one musician's bane had to do with qualifying with their firearms.  Back at Parris Island, they would go out to the M-1 range for a 3-week stint.  But the bandsmen's firearm was the .45 cal sidearm.  Once Nuny and Randy arrived in Oceanside they once again had to qualify on the .45.  Randy earned a score for 'sharp-shooter' with a score of 309.  Nuny was an 'expert' at 339. 

The remaining Bulldogs would be split up by their specialty.  Carrigan was trained in transportation and warehousing (MOS 3133), Kipp a wireman for field communications (MOS 2511), Blauch joined the newly formed ANGLICO (Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company) based in Lejeune and was a forward observer and radioman, and Kulha was a supply specialist (MOS 3063).  Most wouldn't see each other again until after the war.  

As a Naval gunfire liaison, Don Blauch spent seven months in the Mediterranean Sea with the Sixth Fleet aboard the USS Midway (CVB-41).  "We made a stop at every port.  Malta, Pisa, the Isle of Crete, you name it we saw it."  Not every port could accommodate the Midway.  Four of them were deep enough to dock while the rest required dropping anchor out in the harbor and taking transports in.  "We stopped at some ports twice."  Rome was a favorite.  It was 1950 and it was a "Holy Year."  It gave them a once in every twenty-five year opportunity to walk through the "Holy Door" of St Peter's Basilica.  The trip wasn't just for sight-seeing though.  They conducted live-fire exercises on the Isle of Veagas.  "Those seven months made my whole service time worth it.  It was a trip of a lifetime," Blauch remembered.

The USS Midway (CVB-41) from a picture taken by Blauch from the transport ship in the Mediterranean.  Note this
was at a transitional time and the carrier still had propeller driven Corsairs.  The carrier would later carry P-80
"Shooting Star" and F9F "Panther" jet fighters which would go against the Soviet's newly developed MiG in Korea.

Raymond "Nuny" Rabenold was Randy's cousin.
He lived his life in Palmerton after the war.
He recently died in January 2012.
 His brother Dale is a well-known TV repairman in this area for many years.
Ernest "Ernie/Dumbo" Daum passed away in Florida in 1991.
He was known to have developed tilt steering for
GM, but never received recognition or renumeration for his design.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Fortson.) 
In 1949, Randy and his battalion served as extras in John Wayne’s movie, “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” filmed on the beaches of Camp Pendleton.  Many say this film, and John Wayne’s involvement in it, helped much to save the Marine Corps from the chopping block.  At the time, leaders pondered the need for the frontal assaults the Marines were most known.  Some said that the combination of modern air power in conjunction with our nuclear capabilities, were making the Corps obsolete.  

As extras, Randy and the other Marines at Pendleton had a good time.  They stormed the beach with blanks going off all around them.  Certainly this must be what the glory of battle feels like.  They even got within earshot of the Duke himself and were invited to the premiere too.  They marched in, suave in their dress blues, taking up the first three rows of the theater.

Another perk of their peacetime service was marching in the January 2nd Rose Bowl Parade in 1950 (January 1st was a Sunday that year.).  The theme was “Our American Heritage” and Randy served in the color guard for the National Anthem for Ohio State’s 17-14 win over Cal.  It was the first college bowl game to attract over 100,000 spectators.
Randy Rabenold at Camp Pendleton California prior
to July 1950 deployment.

July 13, 1950 - The First Provisional Marine Brigade, as they were known
for the first two months in Korea (there after simply First Division) as
the set to embark on the USS George Clymer.  That's Randy on the right
lifting his right leg, showing his infantryman's gaiter.
(Courtesy: Fortson)

By July, life at Pendleton wasn't so rosy.  North Korea had invaded the south, swarming beyond the 38th parallel boundary.  The Marines were quickly put to task to organize a "provisional" division of men to be sent to uphold the democratic government of Sygnman Rhee.  Since the West Coast was closest to Korea, most of the Marines stationed at Pendleton were called upon first.  So Randy and Ray  were assigned temporary duty in the "First Provisional Marine Brigade," to be deployed to Korea with all possible haste.  "They told us we had two days to be ready to ship out," Randy recalled.  By July 13th they were loaded and making way aboard the USS George Clymer.

Their orders called for landing in Kobe, Japan.  Japan was still under the occupational jurisdiction of General Douglas MacArthur.  It has been said that much of Japan’s subsequent economic vitality was a direct result of the Korean War as Japan served as a key staging area for troops and supplies.  It was also a prime destination for many servicemen on R&R.  Once in Japan, the men of the First Provisional were told they would receive training specific for their mission.

The rest of the First Division would come later.  The Division was comprised of men from both Camp LeJeune on the East Coast and others like Fortson at Pendleton who didn't ship with the "Provisional Brigade."
The Brigade Band played each night of their three weeks at sea en route to Korea.  The song being played here is
said to be "The Song of India."  From left, on tenor sax is Robert A. Smith, alto sax is "Fritz" Hartfiel, on the trombone solo is Robert Wright, next alto sax is Sgt Sammy Connover, and on alto sax is Sgt Pat Mulligan.  Randy Rabenold is leaning forward in the middle.  Behind him on drums is Bertie "Be-bop" Banks, who later became a California district attorney.  Sandy Scaffidi is on base and to his right on piano is Ernie "Dumbo" Daum.   (Photo is courtesy of Scaffidi
via Tom Fortson.)

Closeup of Corporal Randy Rabenold aboard
the USS Clymer enroute to Korea, July/August 1950.

Don Blauch, part of the First Marines, remembered how the bunks of the ship were tiered seven-courses high.  "When a guy got sick above you, you learned not to stick your head our to see what was going on."  Blauch found a life-boat hanging on deck as his new sleeping quarters.  The men tried their best to adapt to their three weeks at sea.  The tedium, with no place to go, trying to escape from their own thoughts of the inevitable when they would "swing their feet over the rails" and exchange the monotony of ship life for the heat and uncertainty of battle. 

After several days at sea and talking to some of his old Camp Lejeune mates, Blauch was happy to realize fellow Bulldog Bobby Kipp was aboard too.  It seemed like a lifetime since they last saw each other on the east coast.  They "bunked" in Blauch's lifeboat, carving out their own place of solace and refuge, akin to their clubhouse back home.

All their talk, of their former glories, of the deviling they gave a few teachers, of the girls back home, went deep into the night, allowing them to greet sleep with the smile of two kids caught in a mid-summer's dream, tucked beneath a blanket woven from fond memories and the warm sea air.

It was one of those fortuitous happenstances of life.  An unexpected chance to share some time with an old friend, one more chance to share a few laughs.

Meanwhile things were critical in Korea.  The South Koreans and MacArthur's occupational force from Japan were barely hanging on inside the Pusan Perimeter.  The perimeter was a last ditch defensive formation.  It was Korea's Alamo or Britain's Dunkirk.  The Communists had us on our heals in one tiny corner of the southeast Korean peninsula.

Upon arrival, the First Provisional needed to establish order and relieve the pressure the North was applying around Pusan.  As happens so often in the military, and Korea was no exception, the brigade's orders were countermanded.  There was no time to stop at Kobe.  The Clymer went straight into Pusan.  They landed August 2nd.

The remaining elements of the organic First Marine Division were still scattered across the Pacific aboard both naval and commercial ships.  The Division was still set to disembark at Kobe.  Once there, they would prepare for the highly classified landing at Inchon Korea set for September 15th.  It would be MacArthur's most defining triumph in the Korea campaign

Though they were Lehighton Indians, they never lost their "Bulldog" identity.  Senior Year - Dick Carrigan #26,
 Bill Kulha #31 with the ball, Don "Duke" Blauch #40, and quarterback Raymond "Nuny" Rabenold #24 behind Blauch.

The smile of youth amid an endless summer day.  That's Theodore
"Teddy" David #23 and Bobby Kipp #33 for the Lehighton Indians.
     The First Division would see its first combat action on the beaches at Inchon.  But while Blauch, Kipp, Kulha, Carrigan, Fortson and the rest of the First Marines were still en route from the States, the First Provisional with Randy and Ray "Nuny" Rabenold were debarking at Pusan.  

     As they walked down the gangplank with their gear, they could hear small arms fire closing in on them from the surrounding hills.  The Rose Bowl, John Wayne, and all the comforts of life back home felt terribly too far away. 

The Marine Division Band is at lower right corner on review at Camp Pendleton just before shipping out.
The Division Band was greatly expanded during this time.  And subsequently was quite literally always on the go: from constant parading and halftime shows for football in the Fall to ceremonies and baseball in the Spring.  Both Nuny (clarinet) and Randy (baritone) were owed 65 days of furlough time.  But the band was so booked with engagements, their much hoped for cross-country car ride they were hoping to have this June or July never materialized.  And then, the unimagined happened: War on the Korean Peninsula that summer of 1950.

First Division Friends at Camp Pendleton -
Ray "Nuny" Rabenold, Ernie "Dumbo" Daum, and Randy Rabenold  when the war was still distant on the horizon.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Go Forth: Be as Content as a Kid in a Tent

We are a collection of destinations planned and unplanned, sometimes envisioned but never fully grasped, sometimes grasped but conceived in vagueness.  No matter where you are now, you have arrived from a place in the past through the piecing together the jaggedness of life.  It is all the little searches, in varying degrees of consciousness, both in little nibbles and in the full force of our youth, that comprise a life.  You fabricated it, from the random pieces, as you saw fit.  Be content in it. 

There have been so many directions, things causing sway, perhaps as young saplings face a stiff wind.  We resist.  We yield.  We are a combination of the times we’ve resisted and yielded, times when spirit, fortitude and perseverance have convened.  No matter how much we resist it, we are now in a spot where we once were not.  It is with certainty that our travels take us where we know not.  We will arrive along lines far from straight.  Along lines that have at times been blurred. 

By night, the "Kid in the Tent," L.R.C., pushes himself a
bit differently than your average ten year old.
He's spent thirty-some days in a tent braving sub-freezing
temperatures.  By day, he's your typical school student.
Check out his blog with daily updates and superb writing. 
We are where the headwinds, tail winds, and cross winds have left us.  There have been winds that left us sagging and winds that have filled our sails contently.  And all the while, along each of those markedly different turns, we’ve responded with varying degrees of intent, our ambition wrapped amid episodes of happenstance.     

Very few of us push beyond noticeable extremes, rather preferring to remain within “normalcy,” within some form of content behavior.  Even our showers are luke warm.  “Pushing” ourselves might manifest itself as taking a walk on a blustery day.  Still others choose different paths, for the most intrinsic of reasons.   Whether it be for fame or for the adrenaline rush, all journeys begin as simple extensions of thought.  

The first three Rabenold men to America arrived in 1737.  These gravestones were erected in 1952 near the
now unknown graves of these founding men at Jordan Lutheran Church at Walberts,  My brothers and sisters
and me are nine generations removed from Wilhelm.  Frederick is our great times five grandfather. 

Take ‘free diving,’ the pushing of the limits of oxygen versus deep water, as one example.  Nic Wallenda’s tightrope walk across Niagara Falls as another.  Magellan, Peary, Lindberg, Earhart, and Armstrong all made choices that led them to places of pleasure and peril.  Col. Percy Fawcett’s life journey took him to the Amazon.  It is within the Amazon where he and his son fatefully remain.  Jean Beliveau of Vancouver walked around the world, taking eleven years and using fifty-two pairs of shoes on his 46,000 mile hike.  They all extended themselves.  Understanding it in black versus white, success versus failure does not do justice here.  It is the journey, the culmination of choices, leading us to places that differ from our start.
The signature of Wilhelm Rabenalt on his oath to the
Pennsylvania colony in 1737. 

A transcript of Wilhelm Rabenold's 1698 birth
certificate from Germany even recorded that
he was born premature, on December
15th between 1:00 and 2:00 AM and
his uncle Wilhelm, his mother's brother
 and a theological student, helped deliver him. 
Wilhelm Kraft Rabenold journeyed from the Palatine with his wife and two young children in 1737. The trip down the Rhine was difficult enough, paying tolls all along the way in addition the perils of sea travel, he was heading toward a destination of uncertainty.  After arriving in Philadelphia, they later treked sixty miles north to Lehigh County, still wild with native people still stewing over the Walking Purchase.  He did all this, to establish a life, as so many German immigrants of the time, for the exacting and incessant work of farming the land.

My Great, Great Uncle Albert Nothstein (left, with Fred, Mary married
a Semmel, and Guswin): Moving west made sense to him.
(Uncle Albert was my Uncle Bobby Haas's Great Uncle.
Bobby bore a strong resemblance.)

All Rabenolds today, owe their existence here in America, to Wilhelm and his sons Peter and “Frederick.”  (My line comes from Johannes Frederick.)  It is because of their fortitude and willingness to “go forth” as Whitman instructed, that we that are here now, are able to exercise our own will to go forth to whatever degree we choose.   Family histories are full of these stories.

I am often in awe of these journeys from the past.  Like the one my great Uncle Albert Nothstein took shortly after his mother’s death in 1898 when he picked up his stakes and moved west.  He went forth, from his Mahoning Valley family farm to work a paper mill job into a farm of his own in Chelewah, Washington.  And from all accounts, Uncle Albert lived a long and happy life.

We can look behind us to see the results of the decisions we’ve made within us.  We can follow our own reason.  We can certainly enjoy the reward of the journey.  Where it all ends is uncertain.   And that uncertainty, coupled with the journey of making something whole out of the jagged scraps and pieces that make up this life, is certainly the reward.  Go forth.

So to my young friend L.R.C., the “Kid in the Tent” with thirty-four days in, I wish you well.  Be content as you go forth on your journey.  I am confident in your success no matter what the outcome.  We should all be so content (and in a tent! cool!). 

"The Kid" also makes a mandatory hike each morning at 5:45 AM.

Maisy the dog watches over the Kid in the Tent.