December 7, 2001
Dear Subscriber:

I knew Oliver as a man with a philosophical mind, but he was a
drifter. He never seemed to be able to focus his interest on a
specific career or goal. He had trouble with the bottle.

Oliver was a friend of my Dad's. They grew up together in a
tiny West Texas town. They graduated high school in 1938, the
same time the war in Europe was heating up. Dad moved to
California to work in an airplane factory, biding his time
until the draft board sent him a letter. Oliver eventually
signed up for the Navy because he liked the looks of their
uniforms. When he finished basic training the Navy sent him to
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii...not bad duty for a kid from the Dust

That's where he was exactly 60 years ago today, December 7,

I know the story by heart. Oliver told it to us kids dozens of
times when he would visit our house. The chronology or the
facts never varied. They were forever burned into his troubled

Oliver was on duty that morning. He had stayed up late the
night before with his buddies, so he was a little late to his
post. It didn't really matter. He was the only one in that
section of a hanger used to house amphibious aircraft on the
edge of the harbor. His job on that Sunday morning was mainly
sentry duty. Bored and a little hung over, he sat down on a
stool, laid his head on a work bench and went to sleep.

The work bench seemed to come up and smack him in the head.
In the fuzz of sleep, he heard the loud explosion outside. His
first thought was that one of the sea planes moored nearby had
exploded. Shaking off his sleep, he grabbed a nearby fire
extinguisher and headed out the door.

The sea planes were intact. He saw smoke coming from nearby
Battleship Row and reflexively ducked as a low-flying aircraft
flew directly over him.

"They'll get that guy for buzzing the base," he thought. He
looked up in time to see the plane's markings...a big red
dot on both wings. While the US was not at war, every 
serviceman was familiar with the "meatballs" that marked
Japanese aircraft.

Oliver watched as the plane began a burst of machine gun fire
as it headed toward Battleship Row. It probably dropped a bomb
or torpedo or something, but Oliver didn't see it. He was
distracted by another Japanese fighter flying just as low
overhead. This one had already started strafing and the bullets
that hit the concrete nearby made sounds like very large cats
meowing. Oliver stood dumb-struck...his extinguisher hanging
in his hand.

"That thing ain't gonna do you any good, Kid."

It was an older sailor that was walking toward the hanger
wearing nothing but a pair of undershorts and smoking a cigar.

"You'd better find yourself a firearm," he said to Oliver in
an eerie matter-of-fact voice. "I think we just got Tojo's

Hideki Tojo was the premier of Japan. Oliver was overcome with
the reality that his heavenly Hawaii duty had become a war-zone.

He ran back into the hanger...ostensibly to look for a rifle or
a side arm or something. More planes were flying overhead like
overgrown hornets. There seemed to be explosions everywhere.
Unable to find a weapon, the 21-year-old Oliver did what lots
of 21-year-old boys would do in his situation. He crawled under
the work bench.

The rest of the attack was a blur to him. He did leave his
hiding place, but by his own admission it wasn't in search of
something heroic to do for God and country but because he
realized the Japanese would be blowing up airplane hangars if
they could. He remembered helping carry ammunition to some
marines that had set up a position and were firing at the
planes with M-1 rifles. He realized there was no safe place to
hide, so he might as well be doing something. He remembered
seeing dead people...some of them with body parts missing.

Oliver wasn't physically injured in the attack, but Pearl
Harbor did things to his mind. He once told me he thought his
problems were based on the unshakable feeling that he acted
like a coward in those opening minutes of the attack. Dad told
him once "a lot of people were ducking that day, and all the
way through the war." It was true. Fear of dying is one of the
most basic of human emotions.

Oliver never shook the war. He was in and out of psychiatric
treatment for the rest of his life. His friends tried to be
supportive, but many of them drifted away out of frustration.
He died some 20 years ago. He was never able to overcome the
ghost of December 7, 1941.

Oliver never pretended to be any more than he was...a kid
caught up in the bullets and bombs of a war thousands of miles
from his warm farmhouse bed in Texas. That experience dogged
him for the rest of his days.

It dogs them all. No one who has been through it is left 
untouched by war. Many soldiers come home and go on to become
pilots and professors and owners of bowling alleys and high
school coaches, but, just under the surface, the war is there.
It is there to wake them in the middle of the night decades
later. It is there to make them cry in the middle of the day
while driving down the street for no apparent reason.

War is not John Wayne or Henry Fonda. It's thousands of
Olivers all over our country trying to live normal lives and
make the best of it. They're not asking for any special
recognition. They're just asking that we each hold dearly the
birthright we have as Americans. The birthright they fought
for. A birthright that comes with a price. It came with a
price at Pearl Harbor. It comes with a price in Afghanistan.

The least we can do is not let them down.

Don Vanlandingham

A break from the frigid winter cold this week. Lots of
sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures. Highs in the 40s.
Lows in the mid-20s.
The New Mexico State Forestry Division is offering a Cost/Share
program with qualifying property owners.

The plan provides for the clean-up of brush and vegetation that
could contribute to home damage in the event of a fire.

The South Central Mountain Resource Conservation and Development
Council is offering to pay about 70 percent of the cost of
clearing such property.

For specifics, call (505)-354-2231.
In the Heart of the Village, this antique-style 3 bedroom, more
than 1,500 sq. ft. cabin is the perfect place to stay during
your family's visit to Cloudcroft. Coyote Cabin has 2 queen
beds, 1 full size, 2 twins (roll away available), and features
a fully equipped kitchen, fireplace (firewood furnished), cable
TV, VCR, full-size washer and dryer, and deck with charcoal
grill. Children welcome, walk to shopping, dining, and parks.
For rates and availability, email lisadawn@zianet.com or call
toll free 1-866-588-2583.
This lava field, located 2 hours from Cloudcroft, is unique
because of it's relatively young age. See the website at:


Q - When is Santa Claus coming to town?

A - You must be asking about his cameo appearance. We all know
his command performance is on December 24-25.

Santa will be at Santa Town on Saturday the 15th from 5-7pm.
Santa Town is in Zenith Park adjacent to the Chamber of
Commerce office.

(Editor's note: I can't be there. Tell Santa for me, Don wants
a new Cloudcroft Bears sweatshirt. I asked for a new BMW last
year and didn't get it, so I'm lowering my expectations a
December 8 -- Pet Parade. Burro Avenue. 2pm.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

December 8 -- Scandinavian Festival. Ice skating rink. 4pm.

December 9 -- Cantata. Cloudcroft Baptist Church. 11am.
For more information, call (505) 682-2266.

December 12 -- Preschool Christmas Program.
Cloudcroft Methodist Church. 6pm.
For more information, call (505) 682-2266

December 13-15 -- Mountaintop High School Basketball tournament.
Cloudcroft High School Gym.

December 15 -- Santa Town. Zenith Park, 5-7pm.

December 16 -- Community Cantata. "Do you Hear what I Hear"
Cloudcroft Methodist Church. 4pm.
For more information, call (505) 682-2266.

December 19 -- Posada. 6pm. Catholic Church. Hwy 82 in

December 21 -- Santa Town. Zenith Park, 5-7pm.

December 21 -- Late Night Shopping. 5-7pm.

December 21, 22 -- Cloudcroft Light Opera Company. Free!
For more information, call (505) 682-3317.

December 22 -- Caroling in the Clouds. First Baptist Church.

December 22 -- Santa Town. Zenith Park, 5-7pm.

December 24 -- Christmas Eve Service.
Cloudcroft Methodist Church. 7pm.
For more information, call (505) 682-2266.

December 28 -- Cloudcroft Museum Open House. 6-9pm.

December 31 -- Torch Lighting Parade. Ski Cloudcroft
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

January 3 -- Cloudcroft vs Tularosa (BB). Away.

January 11 -- Yesterday: Beatles tribute. Flickinger
Center. Alamogordo. 7:30pm.

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the first Sunday of each month,
2-4pm, in the Old Red Brick School House. There will NOT be a
meeting in December or January. The February 3 meeting subject
is "Perspective." Call (505) 682-2494 for more information.

Community Cantata practice meets at the High School Music
Room from 5:30-6:30pm every Tuesday. For more information
call Bob Myers at the high school.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30am every Tuesday morning.

If you have news of public events in the Cloudcroft area, email

For an online calendar of area events, click the Events Calendar
link in the left column of our home page:


Dear Newsletter:

Hello! I've enjoyed your stories about your new kittens.

I am attaching a couple of pictures of a funny, little kitty
that has entered our lives. She is truly unique. Our son,
Austin, has a lovely girlfriend named Stephanie. They found
this stray kitten, and Stephanie adopted her. Her name is
Tulip. She has been to see the doctors at the Veterinary
School at Texas A&M where Steph is a student now. They have
never seen one like her. When you look at her pictures, you
certainly know what is so different about her! 

She has drops to put in her eyes, just in case there is a
problem like glaucoma. But for now, the pressure in her eyes
is normal. She is sweet, smart, and sees just fine. She has
no discomfort from the condition and all of her litter mates
had normal eyes. Austin and Stephanie found homes for the
others, by the way.

I hope you will enjoy seeing this little cat. We think she is
something special! God's handiwork is constantly evolving, it
would seem, and she is a pleasure and a joy to us.

God's blessings to you!
Susan Dudley Levonius
Kingwood, TX

{You can see Tulip here:]


Dear Newsletter:

Hi Don! Just finished reading newsletter #86. I've been a
subscriber for almost a year now. Thanks for all the
information. I sent in my information this morning to one of
the real estate people down there. Would love to find a nice
place there.

The satellite TV story was good....until you mentioned using
the dish pole as a yard light support!

As a member of the International Darksky Association (IDA) I
hope you were able to find an appropriate reflector to disburse
that yard light downward rather than sideways and up!

As an astrophotographer and person seeking dark skies,
Cloudcroft is one place I would like to move to. I hope all can
keep enjoying the beautiful skies you have down there and NEVER
take them for granted!

Thanks again for the wonderful newsletter!

Best regards,
Dan Folz
Wheaton, IL.

From the light-polluted skies of the Midwest (near Chicago).

Dear Newsletter:

My best friend forwarded your newsletter to me today, for the
first time. I like it, and am going to suggest to my ISP that
they begin something similar.

I live at nearly 9,000 ft in Southern CO, and have experience
with 'flatlanders' coming to the mountains for a visit. I am a
PA, and an EMT. Was married to a doc for 8 years. The solution
for short-time visitors is simply to rent a bottle of 02 from
a med supply store.

Usually a two-wheeled pull-along cart comes with it, and by
using a nasal canula, there will be no adverse effects from the
thin air. The O2 supply can be turned on or off, as needed.

For persons who plan to visit for a month or more, I would
suggest that they eat some red meat every day beginning two
weeks before they come to the mountains, and in 10 days or so,
they will be acclimated.

I have subscribed to your newsletter, and thank you for letting
me share this information. I hope it will help someone.


Dear Newsletter:

Your newsletter is absolutely the highlight of my week!

We purchased land in Timberon a few months ago and can't wait
to move there in a couple of years, and we've just GOT to meet
you and Peggy! I was going to write you and request back issues
of your newsletter so I could print them and save them in my
Timberon Scrapbook. And low and behold, you have them already
available on line!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I agree with many others, that
you should write a book. If nothing else, just have your
newsletters published in a "Livin' in the Mountains" book. I'm
sure there are many out there who would love to buy it...me
being one, and it would make great gifts to those "wanna be"
mountain lovers who need that break from the city with your

Keep up the fabulous work, and don't ever stop writing!

Sandy Pierson
Corpus Christi, TX

Dear Newsletter:

I have to respond to a letter I read in this issue, Nov 30,
2001. The person was defending the right of people to do
whatever they want with their land. How did we get in the mess
of needing to legislate environmental protection if everyone
was a good steward?

I have a particular issue with water quality as I am a
hydrologist. The water that runs through someone's land and
comes out the other end contaminated with fecal waste from the
pastoral scene of cows grazing by the river is not theirs
exclusively and they have no inherent right to do whatever
they want with it just because it passes through their property
on the way to the ocean or the Tulie basin.

It is not moral. Water is a communal resource like air. One of
my pet peeves is grazing animals near water which passes through
private property onto someone else's. It is disgusting and 
disrespectful of people. The majority of the rivers in the US
are undrinkable from cows and other livestock and wildlife,
although wildlife contamination is not as severe as grazing
because animals are not concentrated in one area for long
periods of time and are adapted to the landscape, can survive
longer without water etc.

I do not think cows should be grazed by streams, streams should
be protected and people should not be able to do what they want
to them. Streams should be fenced on all peoples' property and
on federal/state land that grazes livestock and drinking rims or
tanks provided a safe distance from streams.

Also I was reading the Cloudcroft paper and was stuck about the
contradictory attitude regarding water, on one page was someone
complaining about the preciousness of water and then on the next
the real estate developer of the new +250 residence development
going on about how it is the greatest feeling that he ever has
to develop wilderness, in other woods take out of production
water filtration and ground water recharging areas and causes
more depletion of ground water from the 100gpm well, which is, 
relatively, not a very big well. It made me very sad. I think
you guys should have a town hydrologist to provide perspective
to some of the activities which may have unforeseen consequences.

Also, my husband and I live a great life in La Luz with no
television reception in the adobe house in which we live, we
have a VCR and do not find the need for the drug of the
nations' choice, television.

I enjoy receiving the online newsletter and the debates that go
with it. We occasionally come to Cloudcroft to walk around when
I, from Canada, and my husband, from Finland, miss trees and
cool weather.

Gwen Bridge

Dear Newsletter:

I subscribe to your newsletter and enjoy it very much. I have
been visiting Cloudcroft since I was a child, and that makes
it about 50 years. There wasn't much there at that time.

It distresses me to hear folks speak about earth-based
religions in such a negative tone. Unfortunately many
individuals are not the responsible stewards of mother earth
that the supreme being designated them to be. As a result of
foolish waste and disregard, a counter energy naturally will
emerge. It takes all kinds to run a world, and for every far
left position, there is a far right to counter balance it.

I guess what I'm saying, is just, do your part. The rest will
take care of itself. I'm so sorry the gentleman who wrote is
offended; however I do agree about the King's Forest, but it is
not the peacemakers and the earth lover's that are at fault.
It is the government agent who oversteps his authority.

Blessed be the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessings and peace,
Connie L. Williams

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Copyright © 2001 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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