Abandoned Prosperity

America, for all its supposed wealth and prosperity, has many abandoned places. From natural disasters, to foreclosures, to budget cuts, to rebuilding; I've seen quite a few in my short life-time. All across this vast country people are homeless, when there are many buildings and places that could be "repurposed" to house them. This blog is all about the places I've lived and explored, over the past 50 years. It also involves other things of interest to me, which will become apparent as I continue along. Most places and events I can only remember and have no photographs of them. Currently, I'm active in exploring the current state I live in, Tennessee, when time permits me to do so. Follow along in my foot-steps as I clambour over and sometimes into the abandoned debris of our society...from junkyards to cellars to my own mind.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


It'd been nearly 30 years since I'd left the USS SKIPJACK (SSN-585), and nearly as long since I'd last seen TM1/SS A.J. Sabol III. Even longer since I'd seen the rest of the old TM DIV crew; around 32 years ago. The idea of a real-time reunion appealed to me and, was originally the brainstorm of former TM3/SS Matt Anderson. Matt had contacted me over a decade ago to hash out a plan for a reunion of just our division, which, while still quite a logistical nightmare, was a bit easier to accomplish than say...a full-blown, full-crew reunion! Of course, there were some tech issues along the way. Like the fact that I had left Facebook early in 2009 and the Skipjack group hadn't been formed yet. And I also do not (currently) possess a "smart-phone". But I did have e-mail. Unfortunately, Matt had lost my old one and literally had to start all over again, just to find me, let alone everybody else on the list. So...early last year (2018), I get a call from Matt and we are able to re-connect and share info. I was still on-board for a reunion and finally gave in and re-joined FB. To make a looooooong story short, Matt was able to get five of us to agree on a time and date. We did manage to re-connect with one other mate and are still looking for a couple more. Maybe next year we'll have more luck in finding them.

That's us, up above. The pic here is one of many and we had Andy's son, AJ, take; a couple pics with each camera. This is one I cropped from mine. From left to right: Rick Luger, Scott Moody, Matt Anderson, Tom Bordenkecher, myself (Todd Slater) and Andy Sabol. Note that this isn't the whole division but we did all serve under Andy, who was aboard from 1985-90.

We all met up at an Outback Steakhouse in the Virginia Beach area. Mind you, this was after Matt and Scott had road-tripped all the way from Southwest Texas! Tom came down from Indiana to my house (which is about 24 miles east of Knoxville, TN.), and we all met the next day (Friday). We then drove over to Hillsborough, NC. to pick up Rick, before making the final leg up to Virginia Beach. Despite the foul weather (it rained most of the way there), we made good time. We all met up Saturday afternoon for an early supper and to rehash old stories. It was a great experience and the first time I'd been to any sort of a reunion (I've never even been to a high school reunion so, for me, this was a "golden moment" in time). I'd like to thank Matt for making this possible but...I'd also like to thank Andy's wife, Robin, for getting him to the restaurant and to AJ for added support  and picture-taking. The fact that any of us were able to keep this under our caps was, in itself, a minor miracle, heh, heh. Thanks you guys and hope to see ya'll next year!

Author's note: I told Matt that I write poetry and am working on three books. Some of the poetry I write is based on the Japanese "Tanka" style of poetry. Below is a nine verse Tanka I wrote over the course our trip. This poem is dedicated to everyone who participated along the way and sums up just about everything we did. Only those that were there will get all the references.











Todd Slater (TM3/SS)~TANKA #772-780 13-14 April, 2019

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Most folks hate Mondays. I do only if the weather goes bad. I mean, scenes like this, one doesn't get to see every day, y'ken? I love sky shots, especially if they involve clouds. Getting in some colorful sunrises with those clouds is an added bonus, of sorts. September 24, 2018 was a Monday. And because I didn't have to work Sunday night into Monday morning, I was able to get up in time to witness this incredible spectacle of Mother Nature! Ya just gotta love her for creating things like this...

...right in my own front yard. Cuppa coffee in one hand and camera in the other, I sat on the rear of my SUV and patiently waited for the show to start. Who the hell needs to be glued to the Weather Channel, when you could be watching it live, right? And Mother Nature did not disappoint. The sky was set ablaze with a gorgeous hue of orange. My late Mother's favourite colour. I'm sure she saw this, though.

07.32 and my trigger-finger starts snapping away at the wonder that was unfolding before my eyes! I never get tired of seeing these wondrous events. 07.33 I end the sequence as the colours start to fade off. The show never lasts for long but, I can be glad I was able to view and record it.

At one point, I zoom in to catch a full-view shot. Fire fills the view-screen as Sol attempts to penetrate the clouds!

Reaching toward the heavens, the clouds expand...taking some of the colour with them, it would appear.

I hesitate ere I get in one final shot...then..."click" goes the shutter and I sit back, take a huge gulp of my, now luke-warm, coffee and watch the rest of the show. Now then, if you ever have a bad Monday, you can reflect on this for a positive note.

Author's note: the photos taken here are raw and un-edited. No reuse is permitted without express authorisation of the author. But, since these pics will probably get reblogged, anyway, it'd be nice if  I was credited. "Dawnfire" and the "df" file names are (c) 2018.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Friday Sunrise

Who says Friday the 13th has to be a bad omen? I mean, it was for the Knights Templar but...that was centuries ago. This past Friday the 13th of July, 2018 was anything but a bad day. It started off with a fantastic sunrise! Below are two shots I captured after pulling over off Shipe Rd., here in Mascot, TN. Hence the title of "Shipe-rise".

After a quick, early morning errand, I returned home and took a couple of clouded sunrise shots. I'm a sucker for cloud shots, especially when they have the Sun's rays beaming through them. I took these about 16 minutes after the Shipe-rise pics...

...the rest of the day went off without a hitch, so to speak. Had a lunch date with some new friends and was able to get more things accomplished at my new home. All-in-all, a good, rewarding day. Phooey on superstitions! 

NOTE: all photos in this post were taken by me and are completely un-edited. No use without permission.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth 2017

I'm a bit late in posting this, I know. Work kinda gets in the way sometimes. Fortunately, I was able to get out to the cemetery yesterday (3 July, 2017), to visit Mom and pay my respects to my Uncle Warren (Mom's eldest brother whom we lost in March of 2014). Damn. It's been over three years? Time certainly does keep slipping into the future, doesn't it? Anyway, I placed a fresh flag and some red, white & blue flowers (plastic but that probably won't stop the arses that rob from graves) and a smaller flag for me (even though I'm not there as yet, knock wood). Mom was a veteran's Mom (hence, me), so, she more than deserves a flag. She was also a Vietnam veteran's wife until 1974. It doesn't say that on her(our) marker but then, I'm the only one that visits here and I'll never forget that.

Uncle Warren was a Navy vet who served during the Vietnam War era. I thank him for his service every time I visit him. I also (now that I'm aware of them), thank a few more vets every time I go out to the cemetery. One is my Aunt Mary's brother, Ronald Buckner. As far as I know, I'm the only one that's ever left at least a flag for him...and I never even met the man! That same goes for her sister Doris' husband, Ted Hightower. Now there are some flowers and flags where they should be. I'm not sure when the latter two men served but they were both in the U.S. Army and that's fine with me. At some point I'll have to do some investigating. In the meanwhile, I plan to make this an annual pilgrimage.

So, there I am at the cemetery. And though it's still before 09.00, it's pretty damn humid and hot! I look down into my bag of decorations and find that I still have three small flags. Well, knowing that there are probably more vets buried here, I set out to pay some more respects. I didn't have to wander far. Right at the road's edge from where Uncle Warren rests, are a trio of Army vets; all of whom served in World War II. The markers are all from the 1980's and quite weather-worn but, still readable. I did a bit of sprucing up and placed my remaining flags near the markers. I then went back to my car to get a pen and (in this case I only had some old napkins to write on) paper; returned and wrote down the info from each marker. Know this now, I'm hoping that there are surviving members that may one day find they have ancestors they, too, can visit. At this writing, I have no info on what outfits these men served in nor in what capacity. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that they chose to defend the freedoms that many of us still take for granted. And I thank each and every one of them for that, from one veteran to another. Their war, like mine, has been over for a long time. And if you haven't already, go find a veteran, either living or dead. Thank them for their service. It's because of veterans like us, past or present, living or dead, that you can continue to celebrate the Nation's birthday. And don't you forget it!

Sgt. Charles J. Ryan~U.S. Army WWII
April 22, 1912~Jan. 25, 1981

Left~Sgt. Harold Samuel Vineyard~U.S. Army WWII
May 30, 1908~April 10, 1984
Right~Pvt. George Eugene Murrell~U.S. Army WWII
Sep. 25, 1923~June 29, 1988

Saturday, August 27, 2016

For Mom

It's hard to lose a parent. I know. I lost my Dad in 2001, just before the War started. I was 33 at the time. And yes, I cried my eyes out. I don't care how tough or "macho" anyone thinks they might be but, if there is no emotion shown for the loss of a loved one (or even a family member that wasn't well liked), then, that person isn't human. I eventually got over my Dad's untimely passing (at the age of 56) from a massive heart-attack (to put it all in laymen's terms). Apparently, no-one saw it coming. We never were close but, that's a story for another time...maybe.

Last picture of Mom, August, 2016

It's really hard to lose a parent. I know. This past August 19th, 2016, I lost probably, if not, the, best friend I ever had...for the last time...my Mom. I Say, "for the last time", because Mom was given a second chance at life on February 26, 2009. That's when she started on dialysis for her failing kidneys. But my taking care of her goes back to the beginning of 2006, when I moved her in with me after she was forced to "retire" from work, due to her becoming "legally blind". Oh, Mom could still see, just not nearly well enough to do the job that was expected of her. The above picture is the last one I ever took of her. This was probably a couple weeks before she passed on. If I knew how to format the damn SD card, it'd have the correct date. And no, the hat in this pic went with her. God forbid I don't leave her with at least one of her hats. Kinda silly now that I look back on it but, also kinda humorous. I mean, everywhere she went, you could recognize her by her hats. The orange one here and, an identical blue one that I still retain. But she had many others. When wearing the orange one she was always mistaken for a "Vols" fan (what they call the local university's sports team and alumni and short for "Volunteers", down here in Knoxville). But no, she just liked the colour of orange. The other humorous thing about that particular hat was that, I found it in one of those dollar stores years ago. I should've bought 'em all! And never, ever touch her hats; not even in jest! She'd let you have an earful!

Hunter 1991-2006

Mom didn't pass on alone and she isn't alone now. She has her best friend along for the eternal ride, so to speak. That's her dog, Hunter, above. Or, more precisely, his cremated remains. Hunter was one heck of a dog. Half Irish Setter and half Golden Retriever and all lovable! Born 4 July, 1991 and passed on, on 14 April, 2006. I'll never forget the day, either. It still haunts me. Hunter didn't really require any training. He learned by instinct. So strong was his instinct that he knew when Mom would get really sick. He saved her life a number of times, usually by getting me to come downstairs (mind you, I lived with Mom for a bit while looking for another place and, got to witness this first-hand.) Hunter would actually hurl himself at my bedroom door in a loud "knock", to get my attention. I knew just by the sound of the knock that Mom was having a "low sugar" episode. Call it being mentally tuned in. It's the weirdest thing. But then, I been having episodes like this since I was at least 8 years old. I can't and won't explain it. At least...not fully.

Little Red Caboose 

Little Red Caboose. Anyone besides me old enough to remember that silly, grade-school song? The morning of Mom's funeral, I was getting ready and doing a final check of things to take. I placed Hunter with Mom before anyone else showed up. The funeral home already had the stuffed toys she wanted (well, the ones that would fit in with her...ahem...) and I had viewed Mom on Sunday. I think they did pretty good. Anyway, I was standing in my dining room and something compelled me to go over to where Mom's purse was, atop the dining table. Something compelled me to look at the purse. Then, something compelled me to take the little red caboose off the purse and put it in my pocket. Mom now has it. I bought that for her on our road trip to Clovis, New Mexico, back in April-May of 2009. It was the last time she visited there. We both lived there back in the '70's and though I had returned a couple of times solo, Mom never had. The last time I had gone to Clovis before this, was in 2001 when Dad died. I should go out there again, someday.

Finally at rest 

It always amazed me how they could dig so precise a hole and then, make it look like the ground had hardly been disturbed. Mom is now resting, eternally, in Lyndhurst Cemetery off Adair Rd., in North Knoxville. As soon as I can gather up the rest of the money to pay off the plots we have, I can install the marker. I'm hoping proceeds from the sale of some of her jewelry and the balance from her life insurance policies, will help me in this. Don't worry, Mom...I'm doing the best that I can.


At one time, I ran a 140 unit mobile home park when I lived up North in Massachusetts. When someone passed on, whatever family was left would be notified. But, more than likely, whatever was left in the homes usually ended up in the local landfill. I cringe when I think of all the stuff the surviving relatives didn't want or even give a damn about. And there was limited space to store usable items, most of which went to the Salvation Army. So, when Mom passed on, I was determined not to let this happen. When I returned to the dialysis centre where Mom had gone for treatments, I noticed that they were taking donations for flood victims down in Louisiana. It was either great timing or a blessing in disguise. Damn! Mom sure had a lot of clothes! So, I spent a full day going through all her things and deciding what to donate (the list being stored in my mind). It took me two car-loads but, I got everything over there. I still have lots to go through and either try to sell or donate. Her CD/DVD collection is mostly gone, already, with the meagre proceeds going into a fund for final expenses. Don't worry, Mom. Things will get done!

 To my Mom: one of the most caring, kindest warm-hearted and sometimes stubbornest persons I ever knew. Now I know where I get it from. I know now that you are finally at peace. But you have lots of company. And knowing you as I did, you're probably letting your brother get an earful. I now I'll see you again, someday. Exactly when, is a decision that even I can't make. I miss you, Mom. More than you'll ever know. But...this isn't "good-bye", just another delay in the cycle of life.

 And Georgi is doing okay. Just thought I'd let you know. But then, you probably already do, right? Right.

My deepest prayers and love for you, always.

Your loving, doting son, Todd