An Elegant Breakfast at the White House

By Helen Ciraldo

Helen Ciraldo

In my thirty-two years as a military wife, you can bet I have heard some funny stories. The following situation floored my husband Bob and he never ceased to laugh when he repeated it to his family.

During the Cuban missile crisis, Bob was working very long hours in the Pentagon. He was a top-notch logistician and was constantly in need for tactical planning in the War Room. He had little sleep since he was on call at any hour as the supply and demand of critical materials became more crucial with the threat of war with the Soviet Union.

One morning in the early hours, he was summoned to an important conference with President Kennedy at the White House. Having had no breakfast, President Kennedy was ordering something for himself and politely asked Bob if he could order something for him as well. Bob, trying to be polite and to save time, simply told him to order whatever he was ordering for himself. "I'll have what you're having, Mr. President," he said.

It took awhile for the breakfast to arrive. When it came, it was on a large tray covered by two silver domes. Bob was expecting eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce or Belgian waffles, or some other type of gourmet breakfast. The waiter lifted each dome with a flourish. Underneath each dome was a Clark bar and a bottle of Coca-Cola. Bob did all he could to disguise his surprise. He and Kennedy ate the Clark bars and drank their Cokes and went on with the meeting.

Apparently, that was a normal breakfast or perhaps a pre-breakfast snack for President Kennedy during stressful times.

We laughed about that many times and many of the other crazy things that happened during Bob's thirty-two years of service. Sadly, he is no longer here to relate these funny stories first hand, but we still talk about them and are able to laugh again.

Turtle Love

By Nick Adams


I came upon the turtle
While walking in the yard,
Almost stepping on him or her.
He or she receded into its shell
And I backed away, giving clearance
To his or her destination.
It took a while.
The next day I saw two turtles
Lumbering along, one going one way
And the second going another.
I granted them permanent right-of-way,
As if they were ambulances
With four flat tires.
Traffic in the yard moved smoothly.
Then they disappeared for weeks.
I feared they'd become
Someone's turtle soup.
But this morning I almost stepped
On a baby turtle.
Now I know where
Those two have been.

You're never too old.

By Nanci Youngblood


Bucket list item: Jump out of an airplane at age 75! Are you kidding?
No, here's how it went:
1) Find the tiny St. Tammany Airport (with GPS aid).
2) Complete a FIVE PAGE waiver releasing the tandem jumper professional, the airport, parish or state of Louisiana from liability for any injury or death which could occur during the dive.
3) Watch a sobering video by the inventor of the equipment indicating that every precaution had been made in the manufacture, but accidents could still happen.
4) Suit up in "flight" gear of heavy long pants with padded seat and an array of straps and clamps by which I would be securely tethered to Josh, my own (very cute, young) professional diver.
5) Listen to a brief outline of the procedure and be asked enough questions to satisfy Josh that I intended to follow through with the dive.
6) Say "farewell" to gathered family.

Nanci 7) Kiss Bill!
8) Crowd into tiny airplane— five of us sitting toe-to-toe with only the female pilot having a real seat.
9) Ascend 10,000 feet!
10) When door opens place feet on a tiny ledge in a hundred-mile-an-hour wind—the hardest part of the jump.
11) At Josh's notice begin a delightful free fall!

Suddenly we were flying. In spite of a previous warning to keep my mouth closed during the free fall, I forgot! The video shows me saying, "Oh wow! Oh wow!" The free fall was AMAZING—maybe the best part of the dive. Then suddenly there was the jerk of the opening parachute and then the incredible peace and quiet of floating in space above the clouds. We could see Lake Pontchartrain, string-like highways, forests and small hamlets, and in the distance the tiny landing field—our final destination. Except for a slightly queasy stomach, the descent was absolutely awesome!


Close to the ground Josh said we would land on our bottom side (glad for the padded pants) instead of standing—that, I think, in deference to my age. Soon we were on the ground sliding to a halt! I did it, or rather, we did it! Josh congratulated me, I thanked him and gave him a hug. Mission accomplished!

Am I glad I did it! You bet! Would I do it again? Probably, but next time I might take a Dramamine prior to the jump. What a trip!

Gone Home

By L J Hallberg

Rev. Graham The first time I heard, in the flesh, the Reverend Dr. Billy Graham preach was in the late 1960s at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY. It was some type of Baptist youth rally, but a few of us Methodist preachers-in-the-making managed to sneak in an unguarded door. A few years later I heard him again at Pitt Stadium in Pittsburgh. I was there for one of his Schools of Evangelism. Young preachers, and I was one then, were given scholarships to enable them to attend. During a break in the school, I saw Graham, almost up close and personal (50 yards or so away), surrounded by his associates, and towering over them.

My brother-in-law Newt, along with his wife Becky, were once invited to the Grahams' home. It was a beautiful mountainside house, but nowhere near mansion status. At the time Newt was the Academic Dean at Montreat-Anderson College. They were struck by how down to earth Billy and Ruth Graham were. No airs of importance. No veneers of sanctimony. Just good folk to spend part of an afternoon with.

Many will remember Graham as the crusading evangelist with a face and physique perfect for the golden age of television, or friend of both Democrat and Republican presidents, or founder of a worldwide organization that ministered to millions. Others will remember his refusal to allow segregated seating at his crusades at a time before civil rights became popular. Others will remember the man who, amid slick TV preachers, teamed with World Vision to found the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to help non-profit Christian ministries maintain financial integrity.

Billy Graham was a simple country boy who walked with kings and presidents while maintaining a genuine sense of humility. He was buried in his native North Carolina. His casket was hand made by inmates at Louisiana's infamous Angola prison. In days following his death billboards sprang up across the country bearing the face of Billy Graham and the simple words: GONE HOME.


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