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Part 53: Riley in the 1940s, Merchant Marines, Etc

Today is Sunday, November 22, 2020. Biden and Harris are up by six million votes, and have won the 2020 election, but Trump continues lawsuits (although his team keeps shrinking as law firms drop away) with the help of former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani. Last night, the Trump team lost a case in Pennsylvania. Judge Brann dismantled the suit, saying he was incredulous that he was being asked to toss the results of the entire state's election.

Thanksgiving is in five days, and doctors and scientists are asking that people avoid travel and gathering indoors, because COVID-19 is on the rise. As of Wednesday, 250,000 Americans have died, according to John Hopkins University. The advice to "scrub everything down" and sanitize surfaces has made companies like Proctor & Gamble profit, but doesn't do much to prevent the spread of the virus, which is airborne. The constant deep cleaning has been dubbed "Covid Theater". The emphasis should have been on masks the entire time, since the virus can stay in the air for hours. Some Americans still believe the virus is either a hoax, or overblown, or some kind of plan hatched to make Trump look bad.

My clients and friends are becoming increasingly annoyed with people who can't be bothered to do whatever they can to stop the spread of this virus. People are cancelling holiday plans, and cannot see elderly loved ones, and have been locked down since march. Many people have lost income and are becoming less patient with people who can't seem to comprehend what a pandemic is.

The toll the isolation is taking on our elderly friends, neighbors, and relatives who live alone is visible. Let's all remember to reach out and check in on our friends this holiday season. Some in their 80s and 90s don't text or email, so call them up and have an old-fashioned chat.

In other local news, there is a snowy owl on my neighbor's roof. It's beautiful, and draws a (masked and socially distant) crowd. He's been hanging out in our neighborhood for around a week. I think people are desperate for something fun and exciting, and the owl has given us that.

This is a portrait from around 1984 by my mother, Jan Svetlik. She can't remember the model's first name, so I'll call him Mr. Underwood. He had just gotten out of prison, and had a job washing dishes in a restaurant in Porterville, California. My mother asked if she could photograph him sitting in her 1969 Dodge truck. This was a phase Jan was in, painting people with tattoos, around the same time she was photographing and painting scenes inside bars. Mr. Underwood loved the painting so much; he brought his daughter around to Jan's studio to see it. In the end, the portrait was purchased by art dealer named Naim Farhat.

Mr. Underwood's tattoo cracks me up. Classic. Should've put this one in blog 49 with the other boobs.

More from Riley's Journal, below:

I found this page in Riley's journal after last week's blog. Remember, his journal isn't bound, and it isn't linear, it is piles of loose leaf pages and there's so much information I don't know how he kept track of it all. It explains more about what was going on when he was in Long Beach, and for me it still leaves me gobsmacked that he had so much going on. I seem to recall that he referred to Colleen in other places in his journal as an "oil heiress". Long Beach is loaded with oil derricks, and was extremely productive, especially in the 1920s.

The SS Delvalle, the boat Riley was on in 1941, sank in 1942, but my father wasn't on it then. He would've told me. He was never one to skip over a great story. It looks like his stint on that boat as a "utility man" was short. Here's a web page about the ship: link.

The other bad news from Marilyn, (my friend the researcher) regarding Riley's time working aboard the SS DelValle is that there was a fire in whatever place they stored the Merchant Marine records. I had been hoping to see if I could find Riley's work information. Here's what she said:

"Well, bummer. Many Merchant Marine records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. And the remaining records aren’t online. You have to request them with a fee. But it might be worth it. I’ll see if I can find anything more about how to request and what is entailed."

I'm going to keep this one short, because last week, we did the "Kitchen Sink" and it made me dizzy. Thank you to David Silverman for reading the newspaper to me this morning.

Next up, blog 54: You can hear and see Riley talking on his cable access show back in the 90s.


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