I Lived Among The Ghosts of Pirates

 

Written June 2014

For nearly five years I lived on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and many a day I looked out from my condo on the Gulf of Mexico, and if I looked closely, I could almost see them, the ghosts of pirates. I could see them burying treasure, and if I tried real hard I could see a ship on the horizon, a ghost ship of one of the pirates of the gulf. Maybe not, but at least I could gaze out and see the same scene that they must have viewed as they buried their treasures in the lily white sands. Some historians say that the oldest residences along the gulf coast are descendants of pirates. The popular entertainer, Jimmy Buffet vows that he Is a descendant of the pirates since he was born and raised on the gulf coast. Maybe he is, maybe he’s not. Who’s to say? Let us travel back in time, way back and think about those enchanting fables of the pirates of the gulf. They were tales as tall as their ships. Stories of great sailing vessels and legends of treasures galore. The kind of stories that brings a thirst for adventure to your heart and perhaps even a tear to your eye. Tales of brave and daring pirates, and accounts of their perils that were often written in blood. Stories of notorious pirates with nothing but the wind in their sails and visions of doubloons and pieces of eight in their dreams. Tales of treasure, both hidden and lost. Four hundred years ago the brave Spanish explorers, known as the conquistadors, sailed the same seas that lie off the coast of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. They were explorers like Ponce De Leon who discovered and named Florida, Hernando de Soto and Herman Cortes who conquered the Mayans, the Incas and the Aztecs taking control of their enormous cashes of gold and silver, and precious gems, mostly plundered from the halls of Montezuma, the famed Aztec emperor. From the 1500s to the 1700s the Spanish colonized Mexico, and the gulf coast. Settlements like Tampa and Pensacola, Florida and San Padre Island, Texas. Thus began the golden era of the pirates of the gulf. These pirates preyed on the Spanish Galleons transporting their treasures back to Spain, and the Spanish merchant ships bringing goods to the American seaports on the Gulf of Mexico. Down through the years Hollywood has portrayed pirates with handsome actors like Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster, and Johnny Depp, and glamorized their exploits. The fact is, more than likely their faces were pocked marked from small pox and yellow fever, and leathery brown seared by the scorching sun and hewn by the wrath of the relentless salty sea winds. Instead of dashing heroes, wielding swords, they were actually cut throat killers and blood thirsty robbers of the sea. Pirating was dangerous, and it is true that some had wooden peg legs, eye patches, and even hooks for a hand, for many sustained injuries and many lost their lives in their quest for treasures. The parrot thing, some say is a myth, but never the less very few of them were able to retire to the shade of a palm tree. Many were killed and some were hanged, but the pirates were the closest thing to the Navy Seals of their day. They could out fight, out shoot, and out sail anybody. Pirating was a lucrative profession even for the lowly deck hands, and their leaders amassed enormous fortunes, and yes it’s true they did bury their treasure. Those were the days before the Swiss bank accounts, and the only way they could protect their plunder was to hide it, and it was not uncommon for one pirate to steal from another. Millions of dollars worth of treasure was hidden, it’s whereabouts taken to the grave by the pirate who buried it. Some has been found, but most has not. It is written that often a treasure chest was brought to shore by a pirate and two deck hands, with the pirate returning to the ship in his row boat alone with a treasure map tucked away in his pocket. That’s why you see illustrations with skeletons with treasure chests. All historians agree that pirates never bought their ships, they stole them. Their ships were usually smaller and faster than the larger trade ships and Spanish galleons. Unfound treasures still remain deep beneath the surface of the gulf of Mexico in ship wrecks never discovered. Over the centuries thousands of ships have sunk to the bottom of the deep Gulf of Mexico. So remember, as you walk the alabaster sands of the gulf, looking for that pristine sea shell, a treasure may be right beneath your feet. Time after time pirates died or were killed before they could come back to retrieve their treasures. So far, all my books have chapters that deal with adventures at sea. My first book The Falcon Force has adventures involving The Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, and Lake Pontchatrain in New Orleans. My second book, Command Plan, features some exciting episodes on Lake Michigan. My third book, Jack Slade and the Unreliable Witness, features Lake Tahoe and a fictitious lake in the Adirondacks My fourth book, Jack Slade the Psychic Detective is akin to a treasure hunt as Jack Slade’s psychic visions reveal little clues along the way. It’s the second book of a trilogy, and yes it has adventures on the water. My fifth book, Jack Slade The Last Vision is book three of the Jack Slade Trilogy. It begins with a harrowing experience on Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, and ends with nail biting danger filled missions on the Louisiana Gulf coast and the Mississippi River near New Orleans.

CLICK ON LINK TO SEE ALL MY BOOKS https://www.amazon.com/C.-Smith/e/B00PG6UWK6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Advertisements

All My Heroes are Dead

May They Rest In Peace

My very first hero was my Dad, and I’m proud to have been named after him. He worked hard and taught me the true values of life. He was a people person. He could carry on a conversation with anyone and he loved people, and people loved him. He had many friends. He was old school Christian. His profession was sales and he was darn good at it. Many times, I’ve seen him strike up a conversation with a total stranger and within minutes he would find someone that both of them knew or were kin to. It always amazed me. I know that I could have learned even more about the real essence of life if he could have lived longer. I miss my dad.

Remember “play like.” When I was four and five years old, I use to “play like” I was Roy Rogers, because Roy Rogers was my hero. I’m afraid that today’s kids don’t “play like” because of all the high tech toys, but that’s a whole blog within itself.

In those days I made myself a horse out of an old golf club, and I galloped to and fro in my cowboy boots, armed with two cap guns, waving my cowboy hat, astride a number three wood. The old golf club didn’t really resemble a horse, but you won’t be surprised to know that his name was Trigger. I roamed the range far and wide, but never further than two houses down, to avoid getting spanked. I might add, that It was during this period of my life, that I developed a tremendous fear of switches.

My little fox terrier followed me everywhere. I called him Bullet just like Roy’s dog. He knew his real name was Boots, but he played along.

The cowboy boots hurt my feet, but I wasn’t about to tell my parents. Of course, they were Roy Rogers boots. I kept law and order in my neighborhood, and I was King of The Cowboys in those days. It was hard work for a four year old, but someone had to do it. The year was 1947 in Greenwood, Mississippi.

I can imagine that today’s society may frown on me for brandishing my cap guns and shooting them at imaginary outlaws, but that’s because they have forgotten what “play like” means.

Looking back on it now, I know that Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans were real role models, true heroes on and off the movie screen. I’m afraid Hollywood doesn’t have any more of those.

John Wayne was also one of my heroes, and they don’t make any more John Waynes. I can see him now walking away with that kind of sideways hitch in his stride. Who could fill his shoes? Brad Pit, you may say. Well, I don’t think so; not even on a good day and wearing elevated shoes. John Wayne couldn’t act, he was just John Wayne, a real live hero in the flesh. Some say, he could have run for president and won. I would have voted for him. If only we could have replaced some of our Presidents with him. He was quoted as saying that, “life is tough and even tougher if you’re stupid.” He had the kind of charisma that hushed a crowd and turned heads when he entered a room.

They say that Joe DiMaggio had that same effect on people. DiMaggio was another hero of mine. Any man who was able to convince Marilyn Monroe to marry him, deserves to be somebody’s hero. Not to mention he was one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

I caution anybody to look for a hero within the sporting world today, because you don’t know when they will show up in a police lineup, and that could be another blog too.

And then there was Clark Gable. If you were making a movie about his life, who would you cast to play his part? George Clooney, you may say. I don’t think so. Alec Baldwin or Johnny Depp? Give me a break. Today’s actors are too wimpy. Why do you think they never had a sequel to Gone with the WInd? It’s because they couldn’t find anyone to play Clark Gable’s part, Rhett Butler. Think about how many blockbuster movies that have had multiple remakes, such as Titanic, The Great Gatsby and Les Miserables to name a few.

There’s not an actor in Hollywood that could deliver those famous lines from Gone with the Wind: “Frankly my dear I don’t give….” Well you know how it goes. No one could deliver it with half as much conviction as Clark Gable. Now, I ask you guys, how many of you have wanted to use those famous lines, but didn’t have the guts? Clark Gable was my hero.

Even the fictional character James Bond is dead. In my opinion James Bond died the day they replaced Sean Connery. James Bond used to be my hero.

To me, even the iconic Superman is dead. He died sadly the day that Christopher Reeve died.

The fascinating thing about writing fiction books is that you can create your own heroes. As you develop a character within a novel you can give them super human powers, and you can have them do unbelievable things. You can create your own John Waynes or Clark Gables. It’s really fulfilling to watch your characters come to life on the pages right before you.

The central character in my first book, The Falcon Force, John Kelly, is a hero because of his remarkable bravery and his dedication to law enforcement and service to his country. Click on Amazon link to learn more. 

Sam Hawk, the star of my second book, Command Plan, has super physical abilities even though he’s recovering from near life ending gunshot wounds.  Click on Amazon link to learn more.  You will find that the heroes in my books are always very handsome and fall for very beautiful women. Hey, it’s fiction, what do you expect

MY FIRST BLOG – A Tribute to Andy Rooney and Paul Harvey

     As I embark upon this new life as an author, and find myself with two books launched out into the public domain, I’ve been told that I need a blog. Two successful authors have recently shared this little secret with me. They both said that it would help to sell books. Needless to say, that got my attention.

    So, first I set out to try to find out just what exactly is this thing they call a blog. It’s a character flaw that I have that encourages me to figure things out for myself. So, immediately I tried to come up with my own definition for this word, blog. If I were Webster and had the power and prestige to decide what each and every word means, I think I would define a blog as the little wedge shaped piece of wood or rubber that you place under a door to keep it open. Like, “Take this and go over there and blog that door.” I’m sure you know that this is wrong, and I assume it’s too late to change it.

     The dictionary says that a blog is a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis. After approximately fifteen more minutes research, I tell myself, “self, this will be easy. I always have opinions, for whatever they are worth.”

     I decided the first decision would be to decide if I want to always be “politically correct” or should I just abide by the First Amendment and just say whatever I want to say. I shall let the readers decide what my decision is on that.

     So what you are reading now is my very first blog; I will attempt to post a new one every month.

     After much contemplation and careful consideration I decided that my blogging style will be somewhere between Andy Rooney and Duck Dynasty, if you know what I mean.

     In my opinion Andy Rooney was the greatest blogger of all time. Most of you will remember that Andy Rooney always ended the CBS Sunday television show 60 Minutes with a narrative. They didn’t call it a blog, but he was definitely “blogging.” You never knew what he might cover, but his dry monotone demanded your attention, and if you listened closely you would learn something. He had a way of dissecting life down to it’s most basic truths. I can still remember some of his blogs. He was truly a skillful blogger and if you paid close attention you might just detect a glimmer of a smile as he ended his blog and a slight twinkle in his eyes that was saying he was proud of what he had said…. With this in mind I hope you will recognize his influence on my blogs, and I can only hope that my blogs are half as meaningful to the reader. Of course Andy has gone on to the great blogosphere in the sky. He was 92, and still blogging right to the very end. I miss Andy Rooney.

     I have this tremendous fear that my blogs may end up sounding like blog, blog, blog, blog.

     My next favorite blogger was Paul Harvey. Like Andy Rooney, he had a style all his own. His medium was the radio, and of course he covered the news of the day but he always mixed in some words of wisdom, and I always agreed with his opinions, but as I look back on it now, maybe he was helping to form my opinions.

     Surprisingly, I met Paul Harvey on an elevator one day in a hotel in Birmingham, Alabama. I can remember that he had a warm handshake and he made me feel comfortable with his celebrity. As a young advertising salesman, I was impressed.

     He divided his news reports into pages…. Saying, page one…. page two…. page three, and so forth, coordinating with the station breaks. It was like he was reading it from a newspaper. I thought that was kind of neat, and believe it or not, I can still remember some of his blogs. The one that comes to mind now is what he said the day that Red Skelton died…. After a heart warming eulogy, that praised the greatness of Skelton, he summed it up by saying something to the effect that Red Skelton was proof that a comedian could be funny without being vulgar. For some reason I remember that as if it were yesterday. He always ended his broadcast by saying “this is Paul Harvey, good day.” I thought that was cool.

     This is C.Smith, good day.

FUTURE BLOG TITLES

All My Heroes Are All Dead – May They Rest In Peace

Nothing Is Ever Simple – A Philosophy That helps Me To Survive

Technology Gap – I’ve Been Left In the Dust

Trivia – The Little Things That Clog My Brain

Drugs – Americas Number One Problem

The Year 3000 – We Should Be Glad We Won’t Be Here

I Live Among The Ghosts Of Pirates – Sometimes I Think I Can See Them

A Tribute To Jean Lafitte – Was He Hero or Villain

I’m Old School – Just Like My Dad

A Tribute To Walt Disney – The Magic Kingdom That Started In A Garage

Please check out my two books: The Falcon Force and Command Plan on Amazon.

They are also available at the websites for Books a Million and Barnes and Noble.

The Falcon Force, is about the adventures of John Kelly, a homicide detective whose exploits carry him from the shores of Lake Pontchatrain in New Orleans to Washington D.C., to Galveston, Texas, to South America, to Afghanistan, and to Germany. Mix in a renewed relationship with his high school sweetheart and you have a thriller lined with unexpected twists. Command Plan, shows us just how vulnerable this country is to a totalitarian socialistic regime takeover. The superhero Sam Hawk, a retired Chicago vice squad cop falls prey to the murky undertow of the gangster world, then teams up with his new found love connection to take on the onslaught.