The Eagle That Has Landed

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Frank Glick took this photo at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. When he recorded the shot, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to the widow of the World War II veteran buried there. — Star Tribune

By JON TEVLIN, STAR TRIBUNE
June 25, 2011 – 11:37 PM

It was a crow that first caught Frank Glick’s attention. It was flying around erratically, so Glick got out his Nikon camera and followed it. It was around 6 a.m. on a hazy spring day and he was driving through Fort Snelling National Cemetery because he was early for a training meeting at Delta Airlines, where he works.

Glick is an amateur photographer, but he always carries his camera, just in case. So he followed the crow, in some cultures a symbol of good luck and magic, until he saw it: a huge eagle perched on a tombstone, its eyes alert, its head craned, looking for prey. In the foreground, dew glistened on the grass.

Glick got his shot.

He didn’t think too much about the photo, until he showed it to a co-worker, Tom Ryan, who e-mailed it to his brother, Paul.

Paul wondered whether a relative of the soldier might want a copy. The tail of the eagle partially covered the man’s name, but Paul did some research and looked up the soldier’s name in newspaper obituaries. The eagle had landed on the grave of Sgt. Maurice Ruch, who had been a member of the St. Anthony Kiwanis Club, the obituary said.

Paul called the club, and it put him in touch with Jack Kiefner, Ruch’s best friend. When Glick took his photo, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to Kiefner and Ruch’s widow, Vivian.

One day this week, I met with Kiefner and Vivian Ruch in her St. Anthony condo. The actual print would be delivered later that day, but Vivian held a copy of the statuesque photo and her voice broke as she talked about Maurie, his nickname, who died from a form of Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 86.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is very emotional for me.”

Maurie graduated from college in mechanical engineering in December of 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Known for his keen eye, he became a rifle marksman and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He served four years in the military and earned a bronze star.

To those who knew Maurie, he was a calm and deliberate giant. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with broad shoulders, but he was also unassuming and unpretentious.

“Used to call him Mr. Precise,” because of his love of order and knack for fixing things, said Vivian. The Ruches had a rotary telephone long after they became obsolete because Maurie scavenged parts and kept the phone working.

“He could work a slide rule like nobody else,” said Kiefner, who was a manager at Honeywell when Maurie was there as an engineer. Kiefner and Maurie were friends for more than 60 years. Not many people can say that anymore.

Maurie also loved nature and photography, so “he would have absolutely loved this picture,” Vivian said. “I told him his first love was his rifle.”

On a rainy morning, Vivian spread photos of Maurie in the service, and the two old friends sat and ate banana bread and talked about a man they both loved.

They got that opportunity because a guy they didn’t know, Frank Glick, caught a special moment, and he and his friends took the time to seek them out and share the photo.

I told Vivian that some cultures believe the eagle is a symbol, not only of patriotism and dignity, but a messenger between heaven and earth. She nodded solemnly.

“I’d say the eagle had a very good eye when he landed on Maurie, and he was respected,” she said.

“I miss him,” said Vivian as she picked up the photo. “He was a good man and a good provider.”

“The eagle couldn’t have picked a better person,” said Kiefner. He paused. “This has been kind of fun hasn’t it?”

Tears welled in Vivian’s eyes.

“Yes, it’s been wonderful.”

Sgt. Maurice Ruch born on 22 July 1922, died 27 July 2008. He passed at the age of 86.

The Insanity Of Too Many Choices

insanityofchoices.jpgSometimes I open my e-mail to find wonderful things to write about. This one was pretty interesting because someone is e-mailing me wanting to know if she can 1) be my guest blogger, 2) tell me a story about her magic weekend which changed her life, and 3) to remind me I didn’t talk to everyone when I worked at Club X. She went on to remind me that she guesses she is one of the people who fell through the cracks because she wasn’t a stripper like the rest of them. But, she does know me, I do know her, and she knows that I write about stories told to me as a bartender. However, here is the catch, we never spoke in person much at all. She mentions that she has been trying to track down my e-mail address for sometime now since not only did I quite bartending at Club X but I also shut down that blog and moved all the stories over her sub-categorized under “Scorpion Sting’s Bartender Stories”. So, I can see how I might have been a little bit hard to find. Anyway, long story short, she has asked to tell her story and how it all came full circle a few weekends ago. I think it is a fantastic idea. I think it is a fantastic story. Now, be warned, the story is colorful, explicit, uses coarse adult language, and her story describes explicit adult oriented situations. If you are good with that then we should move forward to her story. Let me introduce Lynn, pictured, 23 years old, model, waitress, and really has a way with words.

“All through high school I was a model. There were some jobs that I didn’t really want to do but the payout was ten times what I was making modeling teen bathing suits. As time progressed I met different photographers who offered different amounts of money depending if I wanted to add pictures to their private collection. I learned the term ‘being used’ really fast because I was getting used quite a bit before I figured out I didn’t have to and I had choices to do otherwise. Probably the first bad choice I made was to let myself be photographed completely in the nude. You might be asking why. If you are asking why it was because I was 16 at the time, still in high school, still living at home with my parents and siblings, and if it had ever got out then it would have been the death of me, and I’m serious about that. The second bad choice was the night after that shoot that I broke into the photographer’s office, stole all the media storage devices I could find, destroyed all of his cameras, a wrecked the place beyond recognition. No, I didn’t get caught. Yes, I did retrieve the media device. Do I know if it was downloaded? No, still to this day I don’t know. We will get back to this photographer later.

Right after graduation I moved from my hometown of Raleigh North Carolina to Houston Texas to take a modeling gig that a model headhunter promised me would be available. I found a decent one room apartment that wasn’t too expensive that I thought I would be able to afford. I contacted the agency to find out appearance dates and I was told the project had been delayed by at least 8 months. All I could think was what in the fuck am I going to do for 8 months. How will I pay for this fucking apartment. How will I eat. I quickly searched around the local media to see if there was anything else hot going on that I could get my teeth into but all I could find is jobs that would require me to move to either the east coast or west coast. I can’t move because now I’m on the verge of being ass in the wind broke because of the stupid ass delays. I spent the next couple of days looking around local to my apartment for anything temporary I could do. Lucky me, I found a job as a waitress at IHOP. The pay was going to suck, the hours were going to suck, but if I’m lucky maybe someone will tip me on occasion. My presumptions were right, the money really sucked hind tit, I worked whatever shit shift the other bitches didn’t want to work, but I found that I can increase my tips by increasing the skin I ‘accidentally’ let show to the perves that would come in after church on Sunday.

There actually was a strange cycle of people who came in the doors of this IHOP. I got to see them all because of all the wackity fuck hours I worked 7 days a week. Not only was there a church right up the block but there was a strip bar as well. Come to find out, whether a person was talking to Jesus or spending their money on strippers, they all want pancakes at some point in the day or night. I would always hear the crowds from both places talking about going to the other. I guess everyone has needs. After 7 1/2 months of working at IHOP I figured it was time to call the agency since I hadn’t heard anything. I was not at all fucking happy with the response I got. Not only has the project been cancelled but they were able to place all of the models with new projects except for two, myself and some other skinny bitch. Well, wasn’t this just some special shit. Back to work at IHOP until I can get this bullshit straightened out. One night I overheard two guys talking about how the service at the strip bar was sucking lately because they needed more waitresses. The one guy, a real drunken troll, told me I should go work at the strip bar as a waitress or a stripper, this was his free advice for me, he said the next time I would have to sit on his lap and talk about the first thing that pops up. Interesting proposal, the lap sitting, but from where I stood it looked like it would be a waste of both of our times.

I did, however, decide to go to the strip bar and see what that was all about, after all, anything has to be better than being a waitress at IHOP. I went over to Club X after my shift ended at like midnight so I really didn’t know what kind of job hunting I would be doing but I figured if nothing else I could get fucked up since I haven’t been fucked up face down ass up drunk in quite a while. Fortunately for me I was not beaten down to pay the $25 cover to get in the door. I did explain that I was here looking for work and that might have had something to do with it. Is it strange to feel creeped out feeling like I was being stripped down and fucked mentally by the three completely nude women at the door? I have been eyeballed before but never with such intense passion. Since the manager of the waitstaff was not in I was directed to the next best thing, the head bartender. That is where you first entered my life. If I remember correctly, you told me “to go fuck myself elsewhere because I’m too damn busy to jack with you right now”. I didn’t reply, I just tucked my tail between my legs and asked for a tequila shot. This, I think, got your attention.

After a few hours you had time to talk to me, it was a talk with me walk with me type scenario. I had to keep up with you if we were to talk. After introducing myself to you and explaining why I was here it almost seemed as if you were just a little put off by my presence. You probably won’t ever admit to that will you? You ended up giving me your card telling me to return tomorrow before 5pm and we could talk about my opportunities then. I ended up leaving not knowing if I actually wanted to come back and work for such a dickhead. I slept on it, questioning myself if this is what I wanted to do or would it be best just to turn tail and go back to Raleigh. I was off work that day so I had some time to think about what I wanted to wear to my interview. What does a girl wear to be interviewed at a full nude strip bar. I mean, right, I saw what the other waitresses were wearing and I also saw how much money they were raking in. I just didn’t know if I could deal with the groping hands of drunk assholes all night long. Sure, it might be fun if I was drinking too, but I would be the sober one, I would be the one that had to put up or shut up, and that just might get me in some deep shit. But, I do like a challenge, and this motherfucker was going to challenge me on an entirely new level.

I walked in wearing my tightest jeans, by tight I mean that they rubbed me in all the right ways, so by the time I got there I was ready for anything you could throw my direction. I did wear sneakers because that is what I saw the others wearing. I wore a bikini top as a shirt figuring we could cut tight through the bullshit and get this ball rolling. Little did I know that the interview process was to throw me out on the floor to fend for myself, sink or swim. I think that the 3 hours I worked went without a glitch. I reported back to you as I was instructed, in fact I recall you paging the “f.n.g. waitress to report to the main bar”. I had to ask what f.n.g. meant, I was told it meant “fucking new girl”. Hell, why not just call me Lynn. You told me I could start tonight at $22 an hour plus tip out if I was interested. Fuck yeah I was interested! The last words from you is “the only thing I want to see from you right now is your ass walking away from me”. No, I didn’t take it as a flirt or a compliment, I knew what you meant.

I did this job for the next few years, never looking back, and never considering if I missed the boat with my modeling. One day, out of the blue not too terribly long ago, a man in the club approached me, handed me his card, and asked if I had ever modeled before. I recognized him but he had no fucking idea who I was. He chatted me up for quite a while, I kept declining, telling him he didn’t look like someone I wanted to get involved with, business or otherwise. But, this asshole just wouldn’t take a fuck no with the meaning I was putting behind it so I decided to have some fun with the prick. After talking with a few friends at the club, they decided to help me out because it sounded fun. I agreed to go back to the motel with this loser photographer to let him “check me out” to see if I got what it takes to be a model. It’s code for “I’m going to ass rape you, exploit you, film you without your knowledge, and make money off you while you try to figure out what was in your drink you cunt”. But, we had a different scenario planned, a way different evening is about to happen than what he thinks will play out. What a joke.

He met me at the door of the hotel room with this big cheesy smile on his face. He asked if we were ready and I told him I had to use the little girl’s room first. I opened the door to the room very quietly, letting in my friends who stood in the shadows for now. I walked out of the bathroom butt naked and his eyes lit up like little gold treasures. I eased over to the bed where he directed me to go. As soon as he turned his back to me my friends jumped him, put a black pillow case over his head, zip tied his hands behind his back, and proceeded to rip his pants off. One of my friends whispered loudly in his ear that he was going to make him squeal like the little pig he is. At this point I grabbed my clothes and left the room. I never saw my two friends again and come to think of it I never saw that shitbag of a photographer again either. Soon enough in the next coming weeks I did get another casting call which looked promising to me. I walked out of the doors of Club X one night and have never returned. The modeling gig is great, I will have to send you some postcards from where I am at in Milan when I get a chance. Thanks for reading my story. Sorry it took so long to get to you, you are a hard person to track down. Lynn.”

So, I thought this was a great story worth re-telling. I hope everyone enjoyed as well. Every one of us on this planet has a story to tell of some kind. Personally, I am just glad I have been trusted to do just that, tell everyone’s story as they were told to me. I have met some real interesting people in my life and travels which makes up for all the tools I have had to put up with. Until next time, remember to eat it every day.