James 'JP' Smock

South Pacific Hand Grenades

I saw a post on Facebook about hand grenades and that got me to thinking of my Dad and a story he told me. When Dad got out of the Navy after World War II, he took a few souvenirs home like most everybody else who could get away with it. He had no trouble getting home with a few guns and Japanese knives but the Navy nixed his idea of taking home a half dozen hand grenades.

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Rattlesnakes On The Gulf Coast

Texas Gulf Coast RattlesnakesWatched a breaking newscast yesterday, big news, some guy spotted a couple of rattlesnakes on the West end of Galveston. Nothing new, there’s been rattlesnakes down there as long as I can remember. Heck, cross over the pass toward Surfside if you’re looking for rattlesnakes, those cedar brakes along Christmas Bay used to be full of them and I suspect they still are. In the old days, these guys did everything they could to thin out the rattlesnake populations on the Texas gulf coast. That’s my rattlesnake hunting daddy Rip Smock in the center.
A quote from someone on the 2CoolFishing forum commenting on my dad’s old fishing and hunting photos that he stumbled on while surfing the web;

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Gawrzyłowa, Poland

Gawrzyłowa, Poland, Polka and Kloc ancestral homeIt’s amazing what you can find on the internet now days. A few weeks ago, I posted some photos of the home village of Rip’s Ancestors, the Polka and Kloc families, the small farming village of Gawrzyłowa, Poland. I found this 1849 map of Gawrzyłowa today from the Landowner Records in the Polish State Archives at Przemyśl. It is composed of nine high resolution map scans which I stitched together the best I could. The map pieces do not match perfectly in some areas but this is still a fascinating bit of history. Now I just need to do some more research and figure out what all of the symbols and numbers on the map mean.

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Sassafras Root

Wow!! I was looking for a pan to put the turkey in and came across a piece of tree root. I scratched it with my pocket knife and the whole room filled with a sweet root beer aroma. Turned out to be a piece of sassafras root left over from a big batch my Dad gave me about 25 years ago.

He was supervising the burial of phone cable going to Fairfield subdivision which was being built on the old 9-bar ranch on 290 between Cypress and Hockley. One of the backhoe operators hit the roots and my Dad, who hated to waste anything, loaded as much as he could find in his truck and brought it home.

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Memories Of World War II

Veterans Day, the day we Americans honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. Over the years, I’ve talked to many World War II veterans, members of America’s “Greatest Generation” and it’s always amazed me how much they remember of their war time activities. My Dad never bragged about his service in World War II and seldom even talked about it but if you caught him in the right mood he could give very detailed accounts of his time in the South Pacific. Some 60+ years after the war, Dad sat down and wrote some of what he remembered on a tablet. These hand written notes are a pretty amazing bit of history. …

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