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06/28/2005

A War Story ...

   Being in a war makes for strange things. It's hard to imagine what can happen in war. Most people have NO clue.

   Sure there's your everyday BOOMS and shit happening, but there's other stuff too. Stuff you would not imagine.

                                      Sometimes ... it's good stuff.

   A lot of my friends hound me to tell stories. Stories about where I have been.

       I've been a few places ... many places actually, and war was one of them.

                            I think it's time to tell a story. A war story.

   I'd been in Vietnam for over a year. Saw TET. Spent 6 months on the DMZ looking at cannons big enough to drive a car through on the other side. Those cannons were quiet because LBJ decided to stop bombing Hanoi. Instead ... we got the occasional rocket attack. No big deal. Just a few BOOMs every night. Some of those BOOMs got lucky. Most of 'em didn't

   After 'work' the guys would hang out and get stoned. I was privvy to the stats ... 85% of all personnel in 'Nam got stoned. That was cool. Pot was a weed. Grew everywhere. For a buck, you could buy 10 rolled joints hermetically sealed in plastic.

   There were other drugs. Heroin was everywhere. Speed was everywhere. Acid came from home. I chose pot and speed. I hung with guys who chose them as well. The smackers? We just left them alone. I think that is where they wanted to be anyway.

   One very good friend was a stutterer. His name was Fred. He was from CA somewhere and had jug handle ears and was the same age as me. 19.

   Fred could not say anything ... not 3 words without going into a stuttering spasm. Oh God it was painful listening to him. But Fred was a smart guy. He had something to say ... he just couldn't get it out. He would stutter and stutter and stutter.

        At this time we were both doing speed and pot. Occasionally opium.

   And we'd walk and talk. Walk to the chow hall and talk. Walk to work and talk.

           Sit up all night and talk ... and he'd sutter. Oh God did he stutter.

   One night I said ... 'Fred, just slow down a bit. Man I want to know what you are saying'. 'I really do'.

   And for the next few weeks ... I would say that ... over and over again. 'Slow down man ... take your time ... I WANT to hear what you have to say'.

   After about three weeks ... Fred stopped stuttering. STOPPED. I remember the day. Neither one of us could believe it. I made mention of it. He already knew. He had stopped.

   I said 'well, just remember, what you have to say is important ... take your time'.

        He talked to others and did not stutter. He was so proud. I was proud.

                 Shit blowed up around us and he STILL didn't stutter.

   Fred went home before me. We stayed in touch. He went back to CA and I went back to Idaho.

           I got a letter from Fred. Maybe 6 months after being stateside.

   He said he'd not stuttered since that day ... I could see the damned tears on the paper. For real. Fred did not stutter anymore.

   To this day I consider that one of my greatest achievements. To make someone think enough about  what they have to say ... to take the time to say it right.

                Like I said ... sometimes, war stories are about good things.

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Comments

Think first ... hmmm. If only everyone stuttered in the beginning.

Awesome story.

STANDING"O"! Splendid story. Delightful surprise ending!
I am so glad both of you made it back.

Mark ...

Yeah, wouldn't that be nice?

Polish Babe ...

Thank you.

FH ...

Every once in awhile ... I tell a story from me. I am glad you liked it. I might have more yet.

Steel, babe....you should do this more often.

Very cool

Great story, Steel.

I had a student, a senior, one year who stuttered so badly that, as you said, it was painful to hear. He was aware of his inability to speak, and the rest of us silently struggled for him whenever he had to speak in class. I ran a classroom where I randomly chose students to address questions or to debate another student's comments, and no one was allowed not to respond. It was just how I taught, and my students got used to paying attention and to talking. I found myself avoiding calling on Steve both for his sake and for ours until it dawned on me that after noting how brilliant his papers were, he really had some insights to share. It was tough to watch him struggle and the kids were really cool about it. I started repeating his answers after he'd finished as if I were pondering what he'd said, and it gave us all a chance to actually 'hear' what he had to say and then to comment in return. The salient commentary from the students seemed to make Steve proud. One day, he had to give a speech. He got up in front of the classroom and delivered a five-minute speech and did not stutter once! It was just brilliant. I blurted out something about how great the speech was and the class burst into spontaneous applause. He blushed and sat down all smiles. I hesitated for a minute but went for it and said, "Steve, are you aware you did not stutter one time?" The class cheered like fools and then we all laughed and made jokes about forcing Steve to come up to the lecturn every time he had to speak.

That was it. End of stuttering. I think the acknowledgment of it openly - something to be wary of with teenagers - and the kids joking about it in a kindly and proud-for-Steve way made all the difference. It was one of those moments in the classroom when you wanted to cry because you were so happy. Steve was extremely good-looking, but he was really shy from years of stuttering. As time went on, he gained some confidence, and one day during a lecture I caught him talking to a cute little babe. I stopped cold and said: "Get back to stuttering, Mr. Studley." Wow... some nice long sustained laughter with all of us crowing including Mr. Studley. What a transformation. Thanks for making me think of that and the magic moments of teaching.

Lisa ... I do this every once in awhile.

Amy ... my dear ... I posted that. SEE?

Thanks for the email invite. I haven't dropped by in a while. Great story by the was. Tha... that.... that's all folks!

Great as always Steel. Great as aways.

Great post Steel.

what happened was great, steel, but it could not have happened if you hadn't been listening.

I just want to thank all of you for the support and for being here. Makes my life very much fun. I'll tell more stories.

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