Rings of my father

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my father liked Southwestern jewelry, and that extended to rings. These are all the Indian rings we could find when we went through his and my mother’s stuff while preparing their house for sale.

turquoise rings

The ring on the left has mother of pearl. I’m not sure what the green stones are. The next to the right is turquoise. The next one on the right is a coral hummingbird design similar to the watch band design in the earlier post. The last ring is another turquoise design. I can remember my father wearing all of these.
We also found several other rings. Most, or all of these rings were souvenirs that he brought back from Germany after the end of World War II.

war rings My father never wore any of these war souvenirs.
I have no idea what the two on the left are. The second from the left looks like glass, but I don’t know. The third from the left is a lion head design, which apparently was a fairly popular design not necessarily associated with Nazis or the German army. It looks like it might have had a stone or jewel in the lion’s mouth.
The final ring, a totenkopf or death’s head ring, is definitely German military. The sides are decorated with oak leaves and the inscription “west wall.” In this case, the German and English are identical, referring to the German defense of their western front.
I usually associate the death’s head symbol with the German SS, but it was used earlier than the Nazi era, for other units in the WW II German military, and even in the modern US military (showing extraordinarily poor judgment in my view). Unfortunately, some people are attracted to the mystique of the German military that was promoted by Nazi propaganda. Here is a quote from a Web site selling Nazi and WW II German military memorabilia regarding a West Wall death’s head ring: “Here is a ring that can be worn without serious reproach from fools, yet, it bespeaks the valiant struggle of Germany’s best in the crusade that has come to be known as WWII.” You can never tell what sick and sickening thing you can end up finding if you Google something.
The one ring I can’t show is the ring my father wore the most. In fact, he wore it continuously from November 1943 until the day he died in 2000 – his wedding ring. Someone at Floyd Medical Center stole it after he died there.

(On the night I posted about my father’s watch bands, I would his two old Hamilton watches, including his old WW II Army watch. They have to be wound daily, but they’re still running now, although not keeping particularly accurate time.)

Friday Felines

We took Smokey to have his summer cut on Wednesday. His fur was matted and every time he came in he brought trash with him. This is Smokey before.


There’s a piece of grass or pine straw on his coat right in front of his nose.

Mark took him in for his cut. Mark has always said Smokey should have a deep, raspy voice like he spent too much time in a bar, but he doesn’t. Mark said he mewed like a pitiful little kitten on the way.

This is Smokey with his new summer cut.


This is his best side. He has a terrible pink scar on his right side. I think we have shown it in an earlier blog post. We think it’s where Zoe bit him.

You can’t see his pot belly here. He has some strange masses in his stomach that seem to make it worse than you might expect. The vet doesn’t think they’re anything to worry about. He’s had them for several years at least.

Xmas in April and Begonias, too.

This is my mother’s Christmas cactus.  I inherited it when she died in 2008.  It always bloomed at Christmas.


Since I’ve had it it begins blooming around Thanksgiving through Christmas.  But this year it bloomed through Christmas and then stated blooming again.  Maybe it’s my mother’s spirit if you believe. It never bloomed for my mother.

I have always loved begonias.  They are so pretty to me. I’ve had this one a year or two. I love to watch them die back in the winter and then  begin growing in the spring.


Watches of my father

My father liked Southwestern Indian jewelry almost as much as my mother. He bought some rings and belt buckles, but what he wore most of the time was silver and turquoise watchbands. The actual watches attached to those bands were quite ordinary, but he also had some interesting watches. Here are some of his watches.


The watch on the left has a heavy silver band with turquoise stones inset on both sides. Here it is from the side.


To put this watch on you have to force your wrist through the open back. My father’s wrist was big enough that it fit him well once he got it on, but my wrists are so skinny I can’t wear this type of band. It’s too loose.

The second watch from the left is one of the original Bulova Accutron tuning fork watches. This type of watch was probably the most accurate of its time. It was sold for 17 years starting in 1960. It is one of the coolest watches ever made. It keeps time with an actual tuning fork that vibrates at (I believe) either 360 or 480 cycles per second. It doesn’t tick, it hums. If you lay it down just right on a wood table, the table will resonate and you can hear the hum across the room. My parents gave me one in around 1976. I would still wear it today, but unfortunately they have some mechanical weaknesses and neither mine nor my father’s works today.

The band in the middle has a clasp on the back. I don’t know much about this band.

The watch on the second from the right is my father’s World War II Army watch. It’s a Hamilton. I wore this one for a while in the 1970’s, but it didn’t work well then, and probably doesn’t work at all today. A good cleaning might make it work again.

The band on the right is called a hummingbird style. It has coral and mother of pearl in addition to turquoise. It was made by a Zuni artist named Amy Quandelacy. It’s one of the few Southwestern Indian styles that I know and can recognize. I also have a band like this that I wear today.


This is not my father’s watch. It’s my great-grandfather’s Seth Thomas pocketwatch.


This watch has seen a lot of use. The engraving on the outside is worn away nearly to nothing. I tried to move the hands, but there was some resistance, so I stopped for fear of breaking something.

I know virtually nothing about my great-grandfather A.B Carnes except that he was a preacher. I have a very vague memory of my great-grandmother sitting in a rocking chair in my grandmother’s house when I was very young. Great-granddaddy Carnes died quite some time before that.

Fix it again, Tony

When I was close to graduating with my journalism degree back in 1973, my parents decided I needed a slightly better car, so my father took me to a used foreign car dealer near downtown Atlanta. The dealership was in a multi-story warehouse. Up on about the third floor, they had two Fiats. One was Petty blue, and the other was yellow. I liked the yellow one, so that’s the one I got.

This is what it looked like.


This is not my car, but it looks exactly like it. It was a 1971 Fiat 124 Sports Coupe. I loved it. Despite the common perception, it was a modern, sophisticated, reliable car. It had four-wheel disk brakes; an aluminum, double-overhead cam engine; and a five-speed transmission. It drove like a sports car and got 30 miles per gallon. I drove it all the time I worked at the newspaper in Augusta and I drove it to California when I moved to Lake Tahoe for a while. Then I drove it back home and kept it until I went to graduate school in 1980. I sold it a few years after that to a fellow graduate student.

It never lived up, or down, to the old joke that Fiat stood for Fix It Again Tony.

When I was in graduate school, Leah, who I had not seen in years, was working in Atlanta. One day she called me because she was having some problems with her car. This is the 27-year-old Leah with her car.

leah and her fiat2

It was a Fiat 124 Spider. It was basically the same car I had but in a sports car body. The picture is a fuzzy print I scanned. I can tell from the bumper that the spider was a newer model than mine, but we can’t figure out exactly what year it was.

Unfortunately, Leah’s Fiat ended up wrecked. And unfortunately, we didn’t see each other again for many more years.

Leah and I would both love to have either one of those cars right now. It’s possible to find one on the used market for a not-too-unreasonable price. One used-car price guide says that coupe prices range from around $5000 to $10,000, and spider prices range from around $5000 to $20,000. Another web site says that very few coupes survive today, mainly because the bodies rust so badly, but that the running gear of many coupes lives on in spiders.

Here’s what made me think of 40-year-old Fiats.


I found the original manuals for my old Fiat in a trunk that I hauled around through college and for years after that. For some reason the manuals didn’t make it to the person I sold the car to.

Clearing out my mother’s house has been like an archeological dig of my own memory. I feel sure I’ll have more posts based on the memories I have excavated.