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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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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The Stolen House

The Stolen House at 77 Stanley Place in Houston, TexasIn honor of the 16th anniversary of the death of my father, here’s a story I wrote this morning about a stolen house. I’ve been researching this story for years and Rip seemed to be telling me last night that it was time to finish it. The best part of the story to me is the newspaper photo of the house Rip lived in when he was young.

Research for this story came from the following sources;
Real Property Records from Harris County Clerk
1901 – 1955 Houston Chronicle Archives
1896 and 1907 Houston, Harris County Texas Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
1907 – 1955 Morrison & Fourmy Directory of the City of Houston
Texas birth, marriage and death records

…Edited 10/27/20, 10/28/20 and 11/01/20 to add some newly found evidence and a map of the exact location of Stanley Street.

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One For The Books

A Hundred Years of Texas Waterfowl HuntingWow, I’m sitting here in absolute astonishment with tears welling up in my eyes. The Lord has always been good to me but what just happened is really hard to comprehend. I’ve been moping around this morning trying to put together a photo tribute to my father, Walter ‘Rip’ Smock who died almost 8 years ago. Tomorrow is Dad’s birthday, he would have been 89 years old. A few minutes ago, the mail carrier knocked on the door with a package.

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No Wonder That Ewe Didn’t Have Any Babies!

I suspect that it had something to do with his Polish roots, but there’s no denying the fact that Dad liked his beer. At some points in his life, he drank a lot of beer; some would say too much, but I never saw it as much of a problem. Dad always acted respectfully and very seldom got noticeably drunk since he usually drank slowly and he had a pretty high tolerance for beer.

A short time before we were married, Cherry and I drove out to the farm to see Dad. It was early summer and Dad and the younger boys had gone to sheer the sheep. Sheering sheep in the Texas heat is a hot, sweaty job so I think Dad had doubled up on the Budweiser that day. I noticed right away that he might have had just a little too much beer, but it didn’t seem to be affecting his sheep sheering.

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