A Strange Thing Happened at the Beach

On July 2nd, 1971, the Bat Patrol was going on a camp out to Marina Beach to get ready for a troop camp out that was getting ready for an upcoming Camporee. The Bat patrol was me, Floyd, Richard, Kenneth, Gary, Mike and Tom. The plan was to hike to the beach and knock out a hike requirement. We would set up camp, eat dinner and blow off fireworks because it was the Fourth of July. We then planned to do another hike to the Marina Drive In where they were showing the movie “Vixen!” that featured naked women.

This is Marina Beach, Marina California, 93933
This is Marina Beach, Marina California, 93933

That didn’t exactly happen.
We were kids eleven to thirteen. So we set up camp, made a shitty dinner and blew off all our fireworks before the Sun had set. It was really cold with wind coming off the ocean, so two at a time guys were going over the big giant sand dune to gather driftwood on the beach for the fire. We also gathered kelp because kelp blows up like fire crackers when burned. At 5pm it was Floyd and I that had to trudge to the beach to gather firewood. When we crested the dune, this was our view:
What Floyd and I saw was a gun metal grey metal disk. It wasn’t swamp gas. It wasn’t a helicopter or the planet Venus.  It certainly was not a weather balloon.
About 30 feet in circumference, it was nothing like what shows up lately on TV. About 300 meters off shore. If you have ever seen a helicopter go over a body of water and the rotor wash flattens the water, this thing was doing it to the surf and the surf was crashing around it with the area underneath totally calm. Distance and size are accurate by judging the waves and breakers. I’ve provided a picture for reference. You do the math. No, I’m not posting an artist’s rendition because I’m still looking for what I saw. No last names are used because at least one person has become a recluse and I don’t want to out the others without their permission. If [BIG IF] you were there and feel comfortable, feel free to comment. IF YOU KNOW THESE PEOPLE DO NOT OUT THEM YOURSELF.

So there was Floyd and I staring dumbfounded. We don’t remember who said it, but someone said “Do you see that?” and the other one said “Yeah”.
“Should we tell anyone?”
“Hell yes.”
We then started screaming for everyone to come and see this thing. They all start scrambling up the dune. In typical “UFO Story” fashion, before anyone else can see it, it quavers and quivers a little and BAM….gone to the horizon.
Decades later I got to spend time with Floyd who I hadn’t seen in about 15 year. Sharing a couple of beers we caught up on each others’ lives. Then Floyd got quiet and then said, “Do you remember that camp out at the beach?”



I said, “Like it was yesterday.”


How to Really Protect Our Schools

In 1975, New York state alone had over 80. In 1984, there were only 65 nationwide.  By 1999 there were only 26.  What were they? Shooting clubs at schools.

In 2007, a Wisconsin mother was appalled to discover a shooting range in the basement of her child’s school.  Although unused for years, she sued the school district to “re-purpose” the area.  She won.

Before the national  implementation of the “Zero Tolerance Gun Policy”in 1989, shootings at schools usually had one or two victims. Most of them from accidents.    For decades, there were none at all.  This is weird because the kids were packing.  High Schools had rifle teams and shooting clubs.  Student routinely toted them around campus.  In many cases they were stored in the gym.  Not for safety, but because they were heavy to lug around.  Up until the ’70s, especially in rural areas, it was commonplace to see kids entering and leaving their school campuses with rifle bags slung lazily over their backs. Guns were left in school lockers, and rifles and shotguns were routinely seen in high-school parking lots, hanging in the rear windows of pickup trucks.

Setting aside his BB gun at the age of 10 or twelve.  It was a right of passage for a youngster to get his first rifle.  Gun safety and shooting skills were past from father to son ( and more often than you think, daughter).

   I got a BB gun for my 10th birthday.  At 12, I held a real weapon for the first time.  It was at Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Pico Blanco, California.  I was going for the Rifle and Shotgun Merit Badge..  Our instructor was a serving Army NCO and was assisted by a PFC.  In Air Force basic training I realized that I had received the same marksmanship course in summer camp.  In Basic Training it was with the M-16.  In the Boy Scouts it was with the 22 caliber semi-automatic.The shotgun was a 410.

BSA Rifle-Range-1977. This wasn’t me, but our range looked identical.



Click to enlarge. Where have these values gone?

Some have called for armed guards in schools or maybe pistol packing teachers.  How about arming the children again?  Not only with weapons, but arming them with respect of firearms.  Safety engrained into them.  Full knowledge that they hold Life and Death in their hands and not some fairy tale notion that video games give them now.

I took my boys to the range when they were ten and eight.  My daughter starting shooting at seven.  Every time I hand her a loaded pistol we have a ceremony. I hold out the weapon and ask The Question.  “What is this?” Before she is allowed to take it in hand she must answer, “This is Life and Death in my hands.”  She is well drilled on safety.

  • Always treat a weapon as if it is loaded.
  • Always point it in a safe direction.
  • Release the safety only when ready to shoot.
  • Always check to see if the chamber is clear when receiving a weapon or handing to another person.

Her aim is pretty good and she will soon be learning the “Double Tap”. She also is taught, when threatened, to scream “I FEAR FOR MY LIFE!!” and then empty the magazine.