Sunday, July 29, 2007


Wednesday, March 28, 2007
March 1968

The pictures below are part of the first photos I made in Vietnam. They were scanned from color slides, covered with fungus after all these years. Thank the Lord for the "Great Yellow Father" Eastman Kodak, which in this digital age has produced the finest scanners for slides and negatives with remarkable software that eliminates most of the fungus.

We arrived just after the Tet Offensive. In a few days we had flown in to Binh Hoa, on to An Khe, division headquarters of the First Cav, flew on to a site south of Hue which was battalion headquarters of the 27th Maintenance Battalion, then on to LZ Evans, which was becoming so permanent as to be renamed Camp Evans after a few days.

Defisher and Hayes (talking with Schneider in one of the photos) joined me in a few days. We were fast friends and worked together the entire year. They repaired the FADAC computers used to aim the artillery. My MOS (military occupational specialty) was Camera Repairman. I saw four dysfuctional cameras during the year, none of which we had the parts to fix. There was little work in our specialties, so we spent a year repairing simple wire and radio equipment, and got more of our share of the scut jobs.

We had no complaint though, especially after seeing infantry guys riding in from the field on tanks. Their expressions were a sight I will remember as long as I live. They had seen something that nobody should ever have to see.

I planned to write more, but I just can't right now. Maybe later. Right now I'm remembering those "grunts". If I'd had my camera I could not have taken the picture. The moment was too Holy, too special. We had been working in the mud, and we were tired, but everybody stood up in reverent silence as the passed by.

I am curious about this: "I saw 4 dysfuctional cameras during the year, none of which we had the parts to fix." I thought that in those days, camera repairs seldom required new parts. Also, I wonder why parts were unavailable. Were they using the Nikon F? That was still made.

The four cameras I saw that year were 4x5 Graphlex, using sheet film in holders. I believe that the combat photographers didn't carry Nikon, according to Bruce Montoya, who had been a combat photographer who I met at the Army Pictorial Center in Long Island City, NY before my experience at the Nevada Test Site and my tour in Vietnam.
We could not repair the civilian type projectors either because of the lack of parts and special repair equipment, but I repaired all the DeVry projectors built especially for the Army.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007


If you are near my age and you lived in Soperton as a child, you will remember the Pal Theatre. The Brice company of Vidalia operated the Pal Theatres of Vidalia, Mount Vernon, Lyons, and Soperton and Pete's Drive between Vidalia and Lyons. For 15 cents on a Saturday you could stay as long you liked for the continuing train of feature western, comedies (cartoons), a serial feature. The movie was 13 cents. The two cents change bought a Tootsie Pop or two Tootsie Rolls. The prosperous teenagers might buy a box of Dum-Dums. Popcorn was the most extravagant item on the menu.

Ms. Juanita, the manager, was an institution then and is still a leading citizen today.

J. W. Daniels took over the theatre from the Brices and operated the Dan Theatre until just about everybody had TV at home.

Today's picture show is not a movie. When this blog was created in late 2006, the weekly 30-year-old photo was the main reason for being. Lots of local people check the blog, and others with Soperton connections go on-line to check it. Besides scanning and uploading a picture per week, I also print out a 13"x19" paper print and put it in the window at Morings Cash Store.

The display was not even announced several months ago, and hardly anyone noticed until the collection grew larger and larger. Now people of all descriptions stop on the sidewalk, anytime day or night, to look, point and talk.

To see that is one on the most satisfying things in my life. All the hard work and long hours have paid off. I believe now that my life was not in vain. I feel like the picture show is bringing generations together, bonding people, promoting the community spirit.

Whenever you are in Soperton, go by Morings and see the picture show. For more fun, take a friend.

Posted by Bill Ricks - the Snapshooter of Soperton



There were two nearby train wrecks in 1977. One in the freezing cold of January at Minter, and this one east of Tarrytown. Photo shows some of the first arrivers, including Mayor Jmon Warnock. Nine cars derailed, and the repair crew had a hard time handling the hot steel in the 100 degree heat. I made 30 additional pictures of the wreck.
Other pictures that week:
Little League action and team photos,Softball action - women & men, Fannie Belle Holton's fig bush, Bobby Driggers with a big potato. Goop Wadley with a big catfish.
Spring House at Gillis Springs with Clayton and William Stephens. Years later Clayton had arranged to have the edifice shored up and moved to the Gillis Cemetery for better protection, but the structure with its heavy tile roof crashed and fell before the work began.
Church photos for Clayton's necrology: Midway, Oak Chapel, Bethsaida, Johnson, Thigpen Chapel, Holton's Chapel, Harmony, Zaidee Advent.

They are pigs. That's what they smell like (money). Get it -- pig farms -- income -- money? Get over it. Don't like the smell? Interstate 75 goes two ways. Interstate 20 goes the other two. Pick one.

Don't be worried at not understanding what people are saying. They can't understand you either. The first Southern statement to creep into a transplanted Northerner's vocabulary is the adjective "big'ol," truck or big'ol" boy.

All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, tree, insect or animal.

Only a native of Atlanta can pronounce Ponce De Leon Avenue, so do not attempt the Spanish pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you. The Atlanta pronunciation is "pawntz duh LEE-awn."

Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces?

When you rearrange the letters:

Posted by Bill Ricks of Soperton

Tuesday, July 17, 2007



Clayton Stephens donated the ledger of the old store to the Historical Society. It's a good source of dates, prices, and names.

Other Photos that week:
Clayton and William were visiting cemeteries and churches for the Necrology. Church pix- Rosemont, Red Bluff, Boiling Springs, Lothair UMC, Mount Shady. Old house at Lothair, Wreck at 29&46, Cecil Sweat's squash, Old persimmon tree at Sweat's toppled by storm, Softball, Fannie Bell Holton fig tree, Scouts landscaping clubhouse, TES curtains, TPS lunchroom, Tobacco harvest, Sonia peterson, Kermit Webb. Clayton & William at Wickstrom's Bridge.

Yeah, we eat catfish, bass, bream (pronounced brim) and carp.
You really want sushi and caviar? It's available at the bait shop.

Get used to hearing "You ain't from round here, are ya?"

You use "fix" as a verb. Example: "I'm fixing to go to the store"

The 8 am rush hour is from 6:30 to 10:30 AM.
The 5 pm rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:30 PM. Fri day's rush hour starts Thursday afternoon and lasts through 2 am Saturday.

When you put the two words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells "THEIRS"?

When you rearrange the letters:

When a quarter was a decent allowance?
You'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?

Posted by Bill Ricks of Soperton

Friday, July 13, 2007

Vietnam Veterans with PKD


Recently my blog was added to those of the website. I've received the following letter from another Vietnam Veteran who has polycystic kidney disease as I do. One of my main intentions when I created the blog was to find and communicate with others about PKD and all veterans.

If you know someone who is a military veteran or who has PKD, please forward this blog post to them.

>> Bill,
>> I assume that your nephrologist was  referring to a spontaneous mutation
>> insofar as neither of your  parents were diagnosed with  PKD.
>> I am similarly situated;i.e. Neither of my parents were diaagnosed with
>> PKD
>> but I have it and I also served in Nam. Have you been in contact with
>> other
>> Nam vets  with PKD?  I would  suggest  in your next blog to  put  out a
>> feeler requesting similarly situated vets to come forward because  I
>> suspect
>> there are more of us out there. Possibly the  PKD foundation might  let
>> you
>> put this request on their main page.
>> I am a retired VA raating specialist. As you probably know 38 CFR 3.311b
>> concedes herbicide exposure if you served in Nixon's  playground. That's
>> the
>> good news. The  bad news is that ESRD is not  one of diseases for which
>> presumtive service connection can be granted. Therefore,  you need to
>> present  a medical opinion which states that it is more  likely  than not
>> that exposure to herbicides caused the spontaneous mutation resulting in
>> the
>> onset  of PKD.
>> Dr. Ted Steinman has mentioned spontaneous mutation at several PKD
>> meetings
>> but not in connection with a mutagen such as a herbicide. I am not aware
>> of
>> any study which  has addressed this  issue but  my  research has not been
>> exhaustive. Nor have I read any decisions of the Court of Appeals for
>> Veterans Claims in the last 6 years so I am a bit behind on regulatory
>> changes. Possibly  DAV has represented such a claim in front of BVA.
>> Obviously the more vets who are similarly situated who can compare notes
>> then the better off we are as group.
>> Let me  knnow  what you think.
>> Al

> Al,
> Thanks for writing. Fighting the VA is a lonely struggle. I've asked
> my primary nephrologist, my nephrologist at Piedmont Transplant in
> Atlanta, my VA nephrologist also in Atlanta. Some don't offer an
> answer. The VA doctor said "You probably were born with one defective
> gene, and something "kicked off" the other gene, but I can't tell you
> what it kicked it off.
> If we live that long, I expect that all genetic diseases will be
> presumptive due to environmental conditions in maybe five or ten
> years.  I understand the entire study of chromosone 19 has been
> completed, but not 16 or 4.
> In my VA claim I asked that the environment exposures in Army service
> be considered: Agent Orange, Ionizing Radiation, and the combination
> of the two.
> I have other conditions in addition to PKD that are genetic, and none
> of them run in my family: cholesclerosis, pituitary tumor,
> otosclerosis, hypertension, polycystic liver.  Of course hypertension
> and kidney disease lead to cardiac problems. I've had one heart
> attack, a triple bypass, three strokes which mainly affect my language
> skills.
> I just got out of the hospital after a 10 day stay for cholangitis
> (bile duct infection) which has hit me several times since the
> original case in 1993.
> I continue to work at a small weekly newspaper. For the past 10 years
> I've been paying one-third to one-half of my total income for medical
> insurance, deductibles, and uninsured medical charges.
> I'm glad to hear from other veterans with PKD.
> I plan to post my reply to you on my blog.
> I got sick soon after my blog was added to the PKD.CURE list, and I've
> compiled some information from the internet that I plan to share, but
> I will need to edit it first.
> Your information is quite helpful.  Since my strokes I'm unable to
> handle large amounts of information, and I have to attack everything
> simply, and that takes lots of time.
> I would like to post your letter on my blog, if that's okay. I can
> omit your name if you like. Please let me know.


I corrected several misspellings in my correspondence which illustrates why
you should never write emails when both eyes don't focus in the same
direction. Go ahead and use the corrected correspondence in your blog. I am
not surprised at the answers which you got from your nephrologists. PKD is
one subset within the larger universe of kidney disease, albeit, a major one
and spontaneous mutations are a much smaller subset within a subset.
Unlless a doctor specializes in  PKD it is likely that he may not be aware
of  all the current  research.
My purpose here is to see if we can find a group of hopefully 20 or more VN
vets with the condition to form the basis of a study  group which might have
the benefit of helping all of us with s/c claims  for the condition.


Posted by Bill Ricks of Soperton

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Tina Fowler, Jason Beck, Alisa Beck, and Royce Fowler with 23-lb. catfish caught in Oconee River by Wayne and Royce Fowler and Ben Beck on a bush hook.

Other photos that week:
TREMENDOUS JULY 4TH CELEBRATION- Jaycees Parade and Games in the Park, Soperton Fireworks Show, Clayton Stephens annual luncheon in the park. Men's softball, Women's Softball. A busy week - 20 rolls of film.

Thanks to everybody who missed my blog and sent e-mails. It's good to be out of the hospital.

Posted by Bill Ricks of Soperton


FFA State Vice-President Brantley Ricks with Mr. H. H. Glisson in Brantley's tall corn.

Other photos that week:
Little League, Lions Club officers, R. A. Perry receiving 45-year pin from Lions Club (he was a charter member), Brantley Ricks and his hogs, tobacco at Mimbs farm,Training Center clients, construction of floats for July 4th parade, retirement reception for Judge White, Elise at the bank.

Bill Ricks of Soperton


Rev. and Mrs. Reginald Edenfield came to the Soperton United Methodist Church June 16. They liked Soperton so much they retired here.

Other photos that week:
Men's Softball, Pat Smith family, Storm Damage on Canady Avenue. Broke off a big pecan limb at the courthouse that fell on Herbert Warnocks' car.

Bill Ricks of Soperton

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


It was a close play in women's softball. See the ball in air barely showing at the top of the frame.

I've been sick.
The last post was 45 minutes before Flag Day. Now it's 40 minutes to 4th of July.
I spent 10 days at the beautiful Fairview Park with an outstanding view of the goose pond.
I will try my best to catch up this week for you blog readers.

In all my life I've owned only one new car, so trusted mechanics are important to me.
Imagine if you took your car in for repair, found the mechanic was on vacation, and while you were being assisted, you found yourself in the hands of new car dealers with something to sell you.

Why did that come to mind? Maybe I will figure it out some time.

Greens - yeah, we have greens, but you don't putt on them. You boil them with salty fatback, bacon or a ham hock.

FOR NORTHERNERS MOVING SOUTH . . . In the South: Remember, "y'all" is singular, "all y'all" is plural, and "all y'all's is plural possessive.

You measure distance in minutes.
You've ever had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.

The gates at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport are about 32 miles away from the Main Concourse, so wear sneakers and pack a lunch.

Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Nobody owned a purebred dog?

When you rearrange the letters:

Posted by Bill Ricks of Soperton