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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Episode 1 – Getting Ready To Fish
Bob Yarnall
By Robert Yarnall

Read the rest of the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series:
Episode 2 – Watchaug Bites
Episode 3 – Avoiding Car Sickness
Episode 4 – Bait & Switch (Not!)
Episode 5 – Still Baiting, Still Switching…
Episode 6 – Mother Gooser & Friends
Episode 7 – Under the Radar with L-T
Episode 8 – Steering Committee Syndrome Unleashed, The Prelude
Episode 9 – Steering Committee Syndrome Unleashed, The Kiss
Episode 10 – Snagged on the Epilog Epic-Log

So how does an ex-college journalist get shanghaied by a local political blogging team that has dared to apply the gold standard of investigative journalism, namely the Woodward-Bernstein Watergate timeline storyboard, to good ol’ Charlietown?

Yeah, I know it’s Snarkified Version 2.0 and it makes some folks uncomfortable.

Trying to wriggle away gets complicated. People get their stories twisted up in knots. Eventually the knots fray, then the whole ball of string starts to unravel. Land deals, vendor contracts, personnel hiring & firing schemes, issues common to Anytown USA, are alive & kicking here in Charlestown. Fortunately, they’re not doing so well. The worm turns. The worm always turns.

By way of disclosure, I never made it out of the Lower Division J-School at Syracuse University over four decades ago, succumbing not to populist Flower Power temptations, but rather to an attitudinal issue that my journalism professor identified thusly, “Yarnall, you consider deadlines more like guidelines. See me wavin’ to you? I’m not sayin’ hello!”

I found my way into the profession of teaching and managed to survive three decades in the public schools of three states without ever being accused, arrested, indicted, convicted, or otherwise associated with any of the tragic missteps that sadly occur in the teaching profession. Except for one chilling episode.

In the early ’80s, I was a special educator at Gorton Junior High School in Warwick. My wife was also a teacher at Gorton when I met her. ’Twas a classic clandestine workplace romance that led to our marriage 30 years ago. We were able to commute together and save quite a bit of money to put toward our eventual land purchase here in Charlestown.

I helped out with coaching duties with the Gorton Cross Country team. In those days, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League scheduled organized league-based competitions across all sports to junior high (now called middle school) student athletes.

Gorton’s schedule included after-school road trips to distant outposts such as Burrillville as well as Bristol. The bus would depart from school at about 2:30 and return between 6:30 and 7:00 depending on the typical travel variables of distance, traffic, weather, etc.

So it happened on a regular basis that my wife, Pat, would remain after school and complete her preparation work for the coming days. There were a couple of students who particularly appreciated her efforts on their behalf, and they would typically hang around to keep her company until I returned.

The most memorable year during that era was 1986, when Pat was pregnant with our first child, Kristen, now on the staff at Wellesley College. There was one particular student who was steadfast in his devotion to her after hours. He carried her books, procured supplies, washed chalkboards (remember those?), helped arrange desks and chairs, and waited until I returned from the cross-country meets so she was safe. His name was, and remains, Craig Price.

While Craig was a student at Gorton and during the time he was helping out Pat and a couple of her colleagues after school on a regular basis, he had already committed the first in a string of murders. Craig was, once upon a time, a good kid from a good family. Readers, do your own Google search, please, I don’t even want to think about it. If anyone has any doubts about the effects of PCP and related drugs on human behavior, erase your doubts with a couple of mouse clicks.

Ooops, almost forgot why I’m writing today. The resurrection of my wordsmithing skills within the cybercaf√© of new age journalism, and in association with Messrs. Collette & Ferrio, has its roots in the now infamous Whalerock Industrial Windless Turbine Twin Tax Credit Generating Cash Cow, the first post-modern mutation of our revered South County Swamp Yankee philosophy.

That’s where this series really begins. But enough today, already. More on this tomorrow, or maybe the next day, or the day after… guidelines, not deadlines.

Hey, just for laughs, lemme ask Mike Chambers how he paces himself over there at the CCA bunker. He could be my mentor!

Ah, well… Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over.
Robert Yarnall, aka Bob aka a variety of other more colorful, not necessarily family-friendly descriptors, is a native Rhode Islander who landed in Charlestown with his wife Pat circa 1985. They have two wonderful daughters, Kristen and Kathryn, who enjoyed the benefits of growing up in Charlestown when it was a predominately family-oriented community, as opposed to the looming retirement villa motif that seems to be the preferred default outcome of certain political entities we all know & love.

Robert was born at Quonset Point NAS in 1950, the first of two sons of Robert Sr. and Jean M. Yarnall, both military veterans of the United States Navy who met while assigned to Quonset during the post-war 1940s. During the ’60s, 

Chief Aviation Machinist Mate Yarnall was assigned to antisubmarine warfare squadrons based at Quonset and was a member of several aircrews who utilized the Charlestown Auxiliary Air Field landing strip to practice carrier landings. 

Jean was also a USN Chief Petty Officer (CPO) who operated a LINC Trainer (flight simulator) to teach instrument flying skills to naval aviators. 

The 2012 Charlestown Memorial Day Parade marked the first time that both Chief Yarnalls were unable to participate in the event atop the official Veteran’s Float due to health issues. But they are still with us and may have a few things to say about Fish & Wildlife’s decision to disallow airbase artifacts at Ninigret.

Bob has one brother, James, an art history professor at Salve Regina University. Jim reportedly owns the real brains and writing skills in the family and we have confirmed this through indisputable sources. Bob joins us here, as he tells it, “to do a little fishing with worms and spinners and such…”

Blame him if things don’t go so well for some. He’s a big boy & can take a hit. Finally, don’t fret about the sentence fragments here & there. Bob is a big fan of longtime ProJo sports writer Bill Reynolds.