Dear Cousin Jerry:

Thank you for the note about the Down on the Farm photo. This note is not by way of a response to your message but merely to provide a picture of the Royal Order of Raccoons shown in session this morning at the Stevensville Big Boy (aka ,The Lodge Hall) . While I could write a book about each of the Characters in the shot I will only will draft a brief statement or two on each in hope that you will get some idea of the scope of experience and knowledge exemplified in the Organization. While there are others who do participate this was a pretty good line up for a cold winter's morning. Unfortunately, several of our members have gone on to their eternal reward
since our founding in 1987, and the diversity in that group was, as the late Joe Figarelli would say, was Unbelievable. . One fellow was a Master Tool and Die maker from Peru , IL, who assembled the Atomic Bomb at Los Alamos. One of the Originals was a retired Rural Letter Carrier who served in the Army's last of  the Mountain Troops,  ; another, the oldest member in terms of years, was a Navy vet of WWII and Korea; Joe, mentioned above, was a big time professional photographer, a Marine Veteran of the Korean War where he served  during  some rough times but never spoke about it. Another ,the former Post Master in Stevensville, was a Bomber Pilot in WWII and a top notch college basketball star and on and on.

Rays Letter to Cousin JERRY
Shown in the photo, Left to Right:: Gene Wohler,retired from the Ind.Mi. Power Co., served in the Navy as a Photographer's Mate and never went to sea but worked in a dark room in D.C.' Norm Ferguson, Retired Postmaster,expert marksman, Navy Vet who served in the belly of an Aircraft Carrier; Dr.Fred Schmidt,retired School Superintendent . Fred served in the Army at Fort Knox and he had the good fortune to be on a detail at the Kentucky Derby one year;( Fred interviews most everyone that enters the Lodge Hall and he often winds up finding long lost relatives among tour bus groups who usually are on their way to the Casino at New Buffalo ,Michigan City etc.  Dave Rhodes, an Indiana farm boy who became the organizer and CEO,of the very first Data Processing Center organized by a public agency (Berrien County Schools in this  case.) in southwestern Michigan.( His brother is a NASA Engineer---that may give you a clue as to the level of intelligence in that family.)  and he was the boss there for many years. Dave and I along with two or three other colleagues ,had lunch most work days of the week  for some 14 years . He lives way out in the country on a high hill which he refers to as The Baroda Alps located near the  Village of Baroda and we call him Baron of Baroda!' ( He is one of the best natured guys I ever met and is still Mr.Cheerful., in my opinion.) I am next to Dave and in the foreground is Dick Kramer, retired engineer who served as an officer in the  Army Signal Corps in the  Pacific in WWII and actually handled McArthur's famous,I have returned message when Mac arrived back in the Philippines.( I wonder what that message would have sold for on e-Bay, today.) I think Dick is the Dean of the outfit at around 91!
I hope you are keeping warm in Las Vega. We are bracing for a winter storm of mixed snow, sleet and rain that is just commencing  and it is to be followed for a dramatic drop in temperatures with lows near zero by Wednesday evening. Ugh!

Keep in touch.     Ray

P,S.: To the Lodge Brothers: I don't want to hear any complaints about my comments and observations; They are my opinions and I am entitls to them no matter how incorrect they might be. further , if we are socked in by ice cover in the morning I may just hunker down at the old Homestead and fix my  own oatmeal.!