Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Internet Spam

Spammers are swine - selfish swine. All they care about is that they get what they want, generally money, never mind any inconvenience to thousands, in some cases millions, of us.

I include in my own personal definition of spam:
  • Unsolicited email

  • Pop-ups

  • Pop-unders

  • Audio and video ads that start automatically when you go to a site page

  • Full screen advertising pages that appear when you follow a link to a news article or something else that interests you.

    For example, when you follow a link to Forbes.com for a news item, you are sometimes (always?) directed to a full screen ad first. And while this portion of this rant is in play, wouldn't you just like to know what moron designed the exit from that page - a button labeled "Skip this welcome screen," as if we were the morons, as if we would look at this blatant commercial and think, "Oh, how nice. A welcome screen."

    I would guess that if you could read, categorize, and count the thoughts of the next 10,000 people to encounter that page, the result would be

    · "Oh, how nice. A welcome screen." - 0
    · "Skip this wretched commercial." - 10,000

    To be a little more fair, I imagine that some small number would fall out of the 10,000 and actually be interested in the ad. But none of them would think of it as a "welcome screen," you betchum, Red Ryder.

    It's their site and they can do what they want with it, so I suppose we have to exclude them from the "swine" category, but does it get any more condescending than calling an ad a "welcome screen?"

  • Posts unrelated to the site on which they are made or unrelated to the subject with which they are associated

  • Keyword spamming - including words and phrases unrelated to a post so that the post will be found by a search
In those last two categories, I recently tripped over a PITA. I like to follow the players and results in the upper echelons of poker. One way I do this is to go to YouTube and search for the word "poker" and then click on "Date Added" so that the most recently added videos appear first.

Well, the porn pigs have discovered YouTube. Porn has its place, I suppose, but the only reason for it to show up under "Poker" on YouTube is so that it can scream, "LOOK AT ME! COME TO MY SITE! GIVE ME MONEY!"

Don't look, Ethel. If you are easily offended the following lists are not for you.

At the time of this writing, the most recently posted videos with the keyword "poker" include those with the following titles:


  • Page 1, results 1-20
    1. Hot Girls Stripping!
    1. Sexy Tight Boob TV Host
    2. Superblonde Playing Around Her Body
    3. TV Pretty Blonde Upskirt
    4. Sexy Hot Housewife Sunbthing (sic) Cam
    5. Mistress In Corset Tortures
    6. Brunette Babe In Bikini Sunbathing
    7. Nasty Lick Feet
    8. Very Hot Bedtime
    9. Lesbian Playing Slapped Ass

  • Page 2, results 21-40
    1. Hot Sexy Horny Pose Breakfast
    1. Clothed Teasing Webcam
    1. Tv Live Sexy Upskirt
    2. Hot Pretty Tv Girl Miniskirt Nice Boob
    3. Hottest Girl Blonde Updownskirt
    1. Elleni Menegaki Always Panties Upskirt
    2. Brasil Street Babe
    3. Pretty Sexy Babe Thong Stripp (sic)
    4. Nice Pretty German Mini Skirt
So . . . if you want to catch up on poker, you have to wade through the fever swamps of money-hungry pornographers advertising their sites. They should have their little hoozits cut off or sewn up, as the case may be.

Not a poker fan? Well, just for you, here are some more keywords (but not anything like all keywords) associated with just one of these videos:
  • football
  • Nba
  • basketball
  • mlb
  • hockey
  • nhl
  • paris
  • fifa
  • golf
  • world cup
Search for any of those and you get to wade through porn to find what you were looking for.

But I have to tell you, that is not nearly as bad as it gets. There have been occasions when all twenty videos on a page were unrelated to poker.

Alas, there is no way to complain to YouTube about this, at least none that I know of. You can contact them about violations of the site's terms of use, but the terms of use are silent on keyword spamming.

Posting day update: The above was written seven months ago. Things have improved some on YouTube. There's still some spam, including porn, but it's not overwhelming anymore.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stubbornness

  • The 1972 Orange Bowl
    Brother Billy was home for the holidays, on leave from the Navy. We had a major disagreement about the relative merits of Nebraska and Alabama, teams that were to face each other in the Orange Bowl for the (then) mythical National Championship. We made a $20 bet, Nebraska for him and Alabama for unohoo, and settled down to watch the game on television.

    Disaster. At halftime Alabama was down four touchdowns. Clearly, the rest of this game was going to be uninteresting . . . until brother Billy offered to make it interesting. He proposed another bet, this one on the second half only. We would take the same teams for another $20 and a pizza, with the loser to go get the pizza. I jumped on it. Silly me.


    Nebraska won the second half, 10-6, at some point putting the cheerleaders in, so at the end of the game I was down $40 and a pizza, and had to go get the wretched pizza.

  • Death Watch
    Sometime around 1984 my brother Billy called me in Chicago.
    Billy: "I want you to do something for me."
    Donnie: "What's that?"
    Billy: "Do you you know who Abe Vigoda is?"
    Donnie: "Yes."
    Billy: "I want you to call the Chicago newspapers and find out whether he's alive or dead."
    Donnie: "What's that about?"
    Billy: "I've got a dinner bet with a guy. He says Abe Vigoda is alive and I say he's dead."
    Donnie: "Well Billy, you're not far from The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun. Why don't you call them?"
    Billy: "I already did. They say he's alive."
Nothing stubborn about the Richards boys.

Incidentally, the Abe Vigoda thing amused my father so much that for the rest of his life (about fifteen years), whenever he saw a mention of Abe Vigoda in the newspapers he would cut out the article and send it to Billy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hank


  • In 1963 I returned to the US after four and a half years in Germany. I was assigned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. I lived in the barracks and one of my new friends was Hank, a draftee from New Jersey. Hank was from a fairly well-to-do family, was quite refined compared to the rest of us, and very well educated ("Sixteen years of Jesuit education, right through Fordham," he once told me).

    We hit it off right away, shared books, went out for the occasional drink, etc. Then . . . we both got Dear John letters on the same day. Naturally, we exchanged some stories about our former intendeds, and he told me by far the funniest of those stories.

    (She's going to have to have a name or the telling of this story will become cumbersome, so we'll call her Jessie.)

    Jessie was a model in New York and Hank had chased her for quite some time. She turned down every invitation for a year or so, then accepted an offer for a Friday night dinner. He learned that she liked Chinese food and made a reservation at what he described as the "finest Chinese restaurant in New York," as he wanted very much to impress her.

    The story he told began with their arrival at the restaurant. They were seated in short order and were approached by a Chinese waiter, who, bowing and smiling, assured them that they had only to ask and all that was in his power to provide was theirs to enjoy. They began with drinks. Things went swimmingly, and they ordered another round of drinks and asked for menus.

    Jessie's choice was boned duck. Hank selected "just the right wine" and based his order on compatibility with that. As they finished their drinks the wine arrived, and was perfect. The waiter professed ecstasy at having pleased them, and a few moments later arrived with their dinners. Assured that they desired nothing further, he left Hank and Jessie to their dining.

    There were oohs and ahhs concerning the elegance of the appearance of the dishes and they began to eat.

    Alas! Jessie cut into the duck to find that it had not been boned. She informed Hank. He smiled, assured her there was no problem, and signaled the waiter, who arrived at the speed of light, smiling and wondering aloud what he could do to make their lives still more pleasant.

    Hank: "The lady ordered boned duck, and this duck has not been boned. Would you take it back to the kitchen and have it boned, please?"

    Waiter, eyes widening: "Bone a duck? You know how many bones in one duck? You wanna boned duck you bone it yourself!"

    And he stomped off.

    Hank told me he just wanted to put his napkin over his head and sit there until everyone else was gone.

  • Hank fell in with a gay crowd. When I left Fort Sam he was either gay or bi, but I really don't know which. I had several gay friends in the bridge crowd and introduced them to Hank, and soon he was moving in several gay sets simultaneously and gleefully telling me the occasional anecdote.

    One I recall involved the first time he went to a gay and lesbian club, The Country (just outside or on the fringes of San Antonio, I believe). This was in 1963 or 1964, remember, and the overwhelming majority of homosexuals concealed their fondness for same sex partners. Neither the public nor the law was particularly forgiving regarding homosexuality, and above all, the military was not.

    It was a weekend afternoon and Hank and several friends were in attendance, Hank for the first time. It was semi-crowded, music was playing, and guys were slow dancing with guys while women were doing the same with women.

    Some signal was given, unheard and unseen by Hank, and so smoothly it could have been choreographed a mass exchange of partners occurred and all dancing couples consisted of one man and one woman. Seconds later, police officers entered the club. They walked around, nodded to the bartender, and left. As their cruiser left the parking lot another signal triggered the change back to the original dancing couples.

  • In 1964 I bought my first car from Hank. It was a 1960 Fiat with something over a hundred thousand miles on it. I paid three hundred dollars for it and it ran like a charm, getting forty miles per gallon during the year or year and a half that I had it before trading it in for a 1966 Fiat Spider convertible with five forward gears on the floor.

    This is a little off the "Hank" subject, but now's the time to say the little bit I have to say about that car.

    I was by then stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas. I drove my new car from the dealership to an office at a gate which was an entrance to the post. I went in and got my post sticker, got back in the car, and could not figure out how to put it in reverse. Embarrassingly, I had to call the dealer to find out how to back up.

    The car had five forward gears which the salesman had taught me, but we must not have gotten around to reverse. The Fiat I had traded in was a stick shift, but on the column, and I had never driven a floor shift. Many of you probably have not (and now never will) but for those of you who have driven floor shifts, reverse was right where you'd expect it to be. The reason I couldn't find it was that you had to push the shift into the floor to get there.

    This car also got forty miles a gallon, an important consideration when you were a low ranking enlisted man in the Army. However, although it looked sporty it had no guts at all. Many is the time that car and I climbed a hill or a small mountain in first and second gears.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dee Dee - Vignettes


  • As you know, Dee Dee and I met because we worked in the same department.

    One day, after we'd had two or three dates, I was out on a lunch break and browsing in a Hallmark store. I saw several humorous cards I was pretty sure Dee would like. On a whim, I bought three of them and took them back to the office. Dee usually took her lunch at just about the time I was getting back from mine, so I signed one and slipped it into her desk's middle drawer.

    Later that afternoon she arrived at my desk smiling and saying, "I like the card. Thank you."

    The next day this scenario was repeated.

    Third day, third card, threepeat.

    Around midafternoon on the fourth day I sensed a presence positively looming over me. I looked up and it was Dee.

    Donnie: "Hi."

    Dee: "Where's my card?"

    Donnie: "What?"

    Dee: "My card. Where's my card?"

    Well. if we were going to be seeing each other much longer, there weren't enough cards in the world to keep this up. Sooo . . . a tradition was born. Whenever we dated, I had a humorous card for her. Every time over a period of six years.

    • Once I picked her up at her apartment, handing her a card as I entered. She opened it and said, "This is a duplicate."

      Donnie: "No way." (I was very careful about this.)

      Dee: "Yes it is. It's a duplicate."

      From a closet she pulled out two lawn and leaf bags, one full and the other half full.

      Dee, handing me the half full bag: "Here. I'll take this one because I'm pretty sure it's in here."

      A few minutes later . . .

      Dee, triumphantly: "Here it is!"

      (Well, I thought I was very careful about it.)

      A couple of years later, in preparation for her upcoming marriage, she went through two full lawn and leaf bags, disposing of all but a few of the cards. The recycled paper industry must have experienced a boom.

    • As Dee's twenty-ninth birthday approached I found the perfect birthday card for her. She adored the Peanuts line (To this day, I send a Peanuts Christmas card to her and one to her mother every year. No duplicates yet, as far as I know), and this card had Lucy on the front as a cheerleader, chanting "Rah rah sis boom bah," and inside, "You're 29, ha ha ha." About a week before her birthday I mentioned that I had found the perfect card for her. "What is it?" "You know I can't tell you that."

      A couple of days later, at work, my phone rang. I answered it and heard, "I found my card."

      "What?"

      "I found my birthday card."

      "What does it say?"

      "It says 'Rah rah sis boom bah. You're 29, ha ha ha.'"

  • When Dee turned twenty-eight, she began the process of becoming a nervous wreck over the fact that her next birthday would be her twenty-ninth, and you know what follows that.

    I was travelling a lot for business reasons, and I decided that during my trips I would keep my eye out for little things she would enjoy, so that I would have thirty birthday gifts for her on the big day. Chicago, Seattle, Little Rock, Jacksonville, and other places all contributed, and I completed my mission before her thirtieth birthday. As chance would have it, this occurred during one of our separation periods. In fact, I knew that she was seeing another guy, but I called her and told her that the following week she had to come to my place for dinner. "I don't care if you're getting married tomorrow, we have to have dinner next week."

    She came, I cooked (ho, ho, ho), and I trotted out the gifts, one at a time. She was as excited as a five year old, and when she had opened them all she said, "You've outdone yourself," which was certainly one of the nicest compliments she'd ever paid me.

  • I have mentioned that Dee has a sweet tooth. On one trip to San Francisco I visited Ghirardelli Square. While there I picked up a chocolate bar for Dee that had to be two or two and a half feet long and a foot or more wide, and weighed five pounds if memory serves. On my return flight I carried it aboard in order to avoid having it broken.

    She was quite pleased with it.

    Years later, long after I assumed it had been eaten, I learned that she had stowed it away in a closet and had just discovered that somewhere along the line a mouse had nibbled a hole in one corner of the wrapper and the whole thing had been eaten, leaving her with nothing but the paper and aluminum foil.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stealing From the Slots

While I was stationed in Vilseck, Germany, a scandal broke. Several NCO's who supplemented their income by working part time at the Enlisted Men's Club were adding to those supplements by stealing. I believe the position title each held was "Master at Arms" and I'll call them MA's, but in any case their duties included keeping order in the club and paying slot machine winners.

In order to collect a jackpot you had to complete a form which listed your name, rank, service number and organization, and some information about the machine involved and the jackpot amount. The stealing was accomplished by forging such slips and taking the money from the EM Club funds. I don't know what triggered an investigation by the CID (the Army's Criminal Investigation Division), and can only speculate that someone noticed that the profits from the club's slot machines were not what they should have been. I did hear that the investigation revealed some name and service number combinations that didn't exist.

I was interviewed by two CID members in civilian clothing, a Warrant Officer named Smith - I was told that he was the ranking Warrant Officer in the Army - and an enlisted man whose name I do not recall. He played the heavy, sort of, while Mr. Smith mostly just sat back and listened. The interview occurred because during the time the NCO's were stealing I had won three $37.50 jackpots on the same machine in perhaps fifteen minutes. Naturally, this raised a red flag during the CID's investigation of jackpot payouts.

During the interview it was easy for me to recall the details of that night, as I virtually never went to the EM Club. But one of my friends had suggested a group of us go and six or seven of us did. One of them lost ten or fifteen dollars on a machine and gave up. I stepped in and he watched as I hit it several times. I remember his sarcastically humorous remark to me regarding how lucky he was to be watching me win.

The CID EM brought up the matter of the three jackpots and suggested rather ominously that the slot machines "just don't hit like that." I disagreed. He asked for the names of any witnesses and I was pleased that I could give him a half dozen.

The MA who processed all three of my jackpots was named Kohser (real name here, as it's all a matter of public record somewhere) and being a little annoyed with the EM interviewer I added Kohser's name as a witness to my wins. The EM was not amused.

He asked me how many $37.50 jackpots I had won at the club in all the times I had been there and I told him there were only those three. He then asked how many $75.00 jackpots I had won and I said, "I've never won a $75.00 jackpot in my life."

Mr. Smith came to life: "What did you say?" I repeated my statement.

Presumably, the CID checked with my witnesses, and I was never contacted about the matter again. Kohser was granted immunity in return for testimony against the others (ironic because it was my understanding that he had conceived the scheme and was the ringleader, but that is definitely second hand information), the others were court-martialed and reduced one grade in rank.

From the time they were charged I never again saw any of the NCO's. After the courts-martial they were all transferred.

End of story? Not quite. Years later - I don't know how many, but certainly twenty or more - the situation popped into my mind along with the memory of going to the EM club one afternoon while searching for someone. I was probably only there ten minutes, nine of them because I was approached by SFC Rogers (yup, one of them) with a sob story about how he had been fooling around on a slot machine and had hit a $75.00 jackpot that he couldn't collect because the MA's weren't supposed to play them. Would I sign a claim for the money?

I felt sorry for him (I was that naive at age twenty) and agreed. He tried to give me ten dollars but I thanked him and told him "It's your money" and that I didn't want it. He insisted to the point where it would have been rude to continue to refuse and I took the money and promptly forgot about the whole thing.

The CID certainly had seen the claim slip with my signature, as evidenced by Mr. Smith's attentiveness when I said I had never won a $75.00 jackpot. I can only surmise that they must have grilled the NCO's under investigation, with particular attention to SFC Rogers (who had approved the claim), been told the truth, and believed it. Even so, I could have been busted for the clearly illegal act of signing a false claim, but they were after bigger fish.

Close call, that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Ego At Work

Mine, to be precise.

In the early 1970s, I got into backgammon. Although I honestly can't say what brought it to my attention, I think it was seeing it for the first time at a bar in Boston, the "99," mentioned previously in some posts. When it comes to competitive games, I have a fairly addictive personality, so I bought a board and several books.

One day at the bar, I lamented the fact that it often happened that there were no backgammon players there, and one of the regulars told me to go to a club in Brookline, a Boston suburb, where "They'll clean your clock for you." I did, and they did.

I believe that its name was the Boston Chess Club, and that it is now defunct. Although there were chess boards there, the two most popular games at the club were backgammon and gin rummy. There was also the occasional bridge game and very rarely, a chess game.

In addition to a few locals, the backgammon players included a number of MIT students, trying (fairly successfully) to hustle a buck. Backgammon stakes were one dollar and two dollars a point. If you were a member, the club paid your losses and you paid the club, or you collected your winnings from the club and the club collected from the losers. I believe that the first time or two that I played there I had to fork over a $40 or $50 deposit to cover potential losses.

Over the course of a few months I lost about $300 in these dollar and two dollar games, and I've never made a better investment. There were some future great players there (mentioned below) and I learned a lot. I began winning and a short time later club attendance began to decline, (I'm sure there is no connection between those two events.) until one night I went there and although the door was unlocked there wasn't a soul in the place, and that includes anyone who was supposed to be running it. Time to move on.

I found a running $10 a point game at a restaurant and bar in Boston, The Courtyard, located only a couple of blocks from where I worked. My recollection is that the game was populated by local businessmen, mostly brokers.One fond memory of that period is paying about $60 for a backgammon board in a carrying case and winning $990 that night, using that board at The Courtyard.

Somehow I learned that some of the club's regulars had migrated to the Cavendish Club. Memory fails, and I cannot tell you what suburb that was in at the time (it might even have been that same suburb, Brookline), but I joined and played frequently for $10 a point.

Regulars at one or both of the clubs when I was playing included (in the order I met them) Danny Harrington ("Action" Dan Harrington, to you poker players), Bill Robertie, and Chris Peterson, all names now familiar to serious backgammon players, but then on their way up. I believe the first two were former state chess champions of Massachussetts, and in fact I first met them at the Boylston Chess Club. So . . . I was getting a pretty good education by playing with some fine players, yet unknown, for small stakes. I do not however, claim to have achieved the level of play of any of the three of them.

Flavor was added to the membership by characters known as "Spinach," "Phred," "Ghoti," "Wolf Man" or just "Wolf," and "Wonder" (Steve Sion, the bad boy of bridge).

An occasional visitor and player at the Cavendish Club was Paul Magriel, then one of the top tournament backgammon players in the world. I knew him to say hello to, and in fact played in the occasional game with him. In the early to-mid 1970s, word got around that he was writing a book on the game, and we were all hopping from foot to foot, waiting for it to come out. In 1976 I had to spend three months in Dallas on business, and the book was released during that time. I bought a copy ($20) at a Dallas book store and set about devouring it.

Although it is now a little outdated (later analysis of some positions have found better solutions), this book is still considered the "Bible" of backgammon. Nevertheless, I found some recommended moves troubling and spent a great deal of time studying them. It may horrify some book lovers, but I went so far as to pencil notes in the margins about these situations.

A few months later I learned that Magriel would be at the club one upcoming Saturday, and I said, "Oh, good." Several members looked at me inquiringly and I said, "I have some disagreements with his book and I want to ask him about them."

Well.

Much laughter and teasing. No, I didn't think I was as good as Magriel, or for that matter several other members of the club, but the positions were troubling to me and one aspect of my personality is that I can't just accept things I don't believe. I have to understand why they are true.

On his arrival, Paul was gracious enough to spend perhaps a half hour with me at one of the empty tables, going over my notes. His reactions can be separated into three categories:

  • "Right. That's a printing problem." Generally this was not a typo so much as one or more of the diagrammed pieces being placed inaccurately on the board.

  • "No, the book is correct, and here's why." He educated/convinced me on all but two or three positions.

  • "Yes, you're right." These reactions were immediate, and I imagine that others had pointed them out long before our discussion. Ta-daaaaa!

    (I updated the notes in the book, and to this day they sit there proclaiming "PM agrees" or "PM disagrees.")
  • Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    A Jerk

    (Posting a day ahead of schedule as I'm about to head out to a friend's. We're supposed to get 6 to 12 inches of snow, so I'm pretty sure I'll be crashing there and won't be here to post in the morning.)

    As with some other posts in this blog, there is no main point to make, no tag line, no careful leading up to some culmination. It just happens that a jerk from my past has popped into my mind. We'll call him Crew.

    Crew was an E-4 (a low ranking enlisted man for those of you who don't have this information) and the son of a Captain, who, as chance would have it, was also assigned to our outfit. Crew seemed to think this gave him some special status among the troops. From time to time he was reminded by various NCO's that there was nothing special about him, and from time to time he was reminded forcefully by a peer that this was the case, but the attitude never went away. He just walked around with a totally unjustified air of superiority. If it ever got him up to E-5 I don't know about it.

    Two anecdotes, tangentially related to softball, come to mind:
    1. Our post softball team went to N├╝rnberg (Nuremburg) for a playoff game and a few of us were exploring the city. We spotted a sidewalk vendor of hot foods a half block away, and decided that we all wanted chicken. The question arose as to who was going to deal with the vendor, as none of us spoke German very well. Crew said, "I'll handle it."

      Crew to Vendor: "Gimme zwei shick-EN."

      Vendor to Crew: "Would you like two chickens or two half-chickens?"

      Smiles broke out among the rest of the group, but . . .

      Crew to Vendor: "All I want is zwei shick-EN."

      Sheesh.

    2. Crew got married and moved out of the barracks and into government quarters or downtown ("on the economy") with his wife, which for some reason made him even more insufferable.

      The softball team was boarding a bus to somewhere. We had just learned that a friend and former teammate, Mike Dwyer (real name) had been killed in an automobile accident at Fort Hood, Texas. It happened nine days before he was to marry his high school sweetheart. Now I was a close friend of Mike's, as was Johnny, who was also on the bus. The three of us had run together for perhaps a year before Mike returned to the States. Crew, it happened, had disliked Mike because Mike had dated Crew's wife before Crew met her.

      Johnny and I sat down and began talking about how difficult it was to believe that Mike was dead. Crew was walking by, overheard us, stopped and faced us, grabbed his crotch, and said, "Yeah, it gets you right here."

      I was sitting in the aisle seat, between Crew and Johnny, and immediately turned toward Johnny to see if I was about to become a Mike sandwich, but Johnny, with all the quiet confidence acquired during his reign as 7th Army welterweight boxing champion, just sat there, looked up at Crew, and said, "You ask your wife who got her cherry."

    Sunday, February 3, 2008

    Meeting Elvis

    I met Elvis Presley early in 1960. I would not have been able to place the date so precisely, but I recall that he was already a buck sergeant, and he was discharged from the Army a couple of months after that promotion (thank you, Google).

    I had been a tank crewman, had come down with pneumonia three times in a little over a year, and as a result got kicked indoors. I was now a company clerk in Vilseck, Germany, at the 7th Army Training Center.

    One day I took a call from the NCO in charge of our 2nd echelon maintenance - an area that did vehicle repairs that were more than just basic stuff. He said that Elvis Presley and a staff sergeant were there. They'd arrived with a jeep that had a problem and asked for some help. The repairs would take a couple of hours and Elvis had asked if they might take a shower somewhere, as they'd been in the field several weeks.

    I talked to the First Sergeant who told me to direct them to building 301, a barracks building, and to meet them there. (Building 301 was one of four such buildings in a quadrangle, each cleaned by a putzfrau five days a week. These were middle-aged German women hired by the soldiers, who kicked in a couple of dollars apiece each month in order to avoid doing the cleaning themselves.)

    I grabbed a sheet of typing paper and told the 1st Sergeant that I was going to get Elvis' autograph for my girlfriend. He laughed, but as I reached the Orderly Room door he said, "Better get me a couple for my granddaughters." I grabbed two more sheets and walked over to 301 to hunt down Gisele, the putzfrau for that building.

    Donnie: "Gisele, guess who's going to take a shower upstairs."

    Gisele: "Better nobody, Donnie. I just finished cleaning."

    Donnie: "Elvis Presley."

    Gisele: "Ja, ja."

    Donnie: "No, really."

    Gisele: "Ja, ja, Donnie."

    Donnie: "OK." I turned to go to the entrance to await our celebrity's
    arrival.

    Gisele: "Donnie?"

    Donnie: "Yes?"

    Gisele: "Ja?"

    Donnie: "Ja."

    Lifting up her skirts, she practically flew across the quadrangle to find and tell Annemarie, who was cleaning building 303. At just about that time, Elvis and the staff sergeant arrived, accompanied by a half dozen or so guys from our company.

    I led them to the upstairs shower room and they thanked me and entered it. We all hung around, waiting for them to finish. All of a sudden Gisele and Annemarie came running up the stairs, breezed right by us, and crashed into the shower room.

    Several of us went in and dragged them out, and they left, giggling. A moment later the staff sergeant, towel around his waist, came out to stand guard at the door. Elvis finished, then he came out in tee shirt and trousers, and stood guard while his companion showered. A nice touch, I thought.

    Our little group grew to perhaps eight or ten people. While the two of them shaved, we stood around chatting with them. Well, OK, chatting with Elvis. He was patient and polite, even when our company Recruiting NCO started trying to talk him into reenlisting. The rest of us rolled our eyes, but Elvis just said, "You know, it's not a bad life, Sarge. If I didn't have plans I probably would reenlist. But you gotta understand, I have a lot going for me on the outside."

    When they finished shaving and were ready to leave, Elvis autographed whatever anyone handed him. He chatted with each person while he signed his name, and today I marvel at his patience. He must have been faced with this situation a great many times.

    They finished up, thanked us all, and left.

    He was a nice man, and I'm glad I got to meet him.