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Shot out of a cannon, boom
editor's notes

The contents of this column popped into my e-mail inbox the other day. It was sent to several people by retired Navy Master Chief Ernie Mitchell, whose accolades are too many to list in one newspaper, so I’ll stick to a few.

He is a member of the Pembroke Mafia Football League, an occasional fisherman and also a big cheese in American Legion Post 164.

Despite all that, he remains humble and somewhat old geezer scruffy, much like me.

Now, Ernie’s e-mail had to do with Pembroke’s upcoming Memorial Day ceremony, which as everyone who knows something about anything knows is well worth knowing about, you know.

Judging by his e-mail, I suspect Ernie is in charge of making sure said event takes place at its appointed time and date.

“We will be holding it Monday, May 27, 1100. There are no new crosses,” Ernie wrote, in what I think is Navy lingo. “I have requested from the 3rd ID, a color guard and speaker. I assumed that Audie Powell will once again be our Bugler. Monday I will meet with the designated OIC at Ft Stewart. We talked some by phone Wednesday. He didn’t even know how to pronounce Pembroke, and has never been here. The City will need to set up the crosses and flags the week of the 20th.I will ask Mark Crowe if he can setup his speaker system. Singer for National Anthem? We will need help getting the chairs from American Legion. Take Army crew to lunch? Paid by Committee. Anything I missed?”

And then, just to make sure we knew it was him, he signed it in ALL-CAPS.


With me so far?

I hope so, because that e-mail from ERNIE led to this reply from Pembroke City Administrator Alex Floyd, who also is a member of the Pembroke Mafia and a fine American, albeit one with a knack for donning striped shorts and fancy rubber resort shoes like they sell on Hilton Head.

“How about the Football Mafia do a Barbershop quartet (octet?) version,” Floyd wrote, perhaps in jest - or perhaps not.

That’s the thing about the Floyds, I’ve learned. You never know what they’re up to. Even when you think you do, you don’t.

But I digress.

Floyd’s response led to this reply from Pembroke Mafia CEO B.J. Clark, its founder and grand wallah. Clark’s also a big wheel in American Legion Post 164, being a retired master chief of the U.S. Navy. “Sounds good to me,” B.J. typed, probably slowly.

“I’ll be the bass. Ernie the tenor, you the soloist and Jeff the midget,” he continued.

That prompted this reply from Mr. Floyd.

“Then at the ‘bombs bursting in air…’ We’ll shoot Jeff out of a cannon.”

Wait, what?

Before I could respond, my inbox got hit with a reply from ERNIE, who was probably not paying attention to the “shooting-Jeff-out-of- the-cannon” part since he suggested Crowe, Floyd and someone named Ms. Cox compete in a “sing-off,” for prizes. Like maybe a free can of Vienna sausages or something.

As an aside, I am beginning to think ERNIE likes watching “American Idol” when no one’s looking. He probably listens to Celine Dion, too. Or Cher. Or maybe Liberace.

Anyway, that resulted in another reply from Floyd, who said he’d withdraw from any and all singing competition for the good of the community. There was applause.

My own reply, inserted somewhere after the “shot out of the cannon” suggestion, was auto-corrected into partial gibberish by the auto-corrector, which if it was truly merely an auto-correct wouldn’t be correcting my messages, it would worry about its own, but nevermind.

That’s because while I have no intention of ever singing in public, I am not entirely ruling out being a human cannonball. Nor am I ruling it in.

In any case, I never once got shot out of a cannon during my six years in the field artillery. Nor, now that I think of it, was anyone else I know. In fact, I seem to recall the NCOs frowned on that sort of thing at the time, and still might, though I hear it’s a different Army these days.

At any rate, there’s precedent for shooting people out of cannons, and some people do it on purpose. But, I’ve never heard of it happening to an editor.

That surprises me, actually.

I Googled it, to make sure, and that’s when I learned that the great “gonzo journalist” Hunter S. Thompson had his cremated remains shot from a cannon in 2005. I probably knew that back in 2005, but forgot by 2006.

The Russians, who tend to do things that make us Americans shake our collective heads and keep Army units stationed in Europe, supposedly cremated a certain “false tsasr” named Dimitry I in the 1600s and shot his ashes at Poland.

There’s more. Thanks to the Internet, I now know others have pondered using cannons for important moments in their lives. One fellow, who might be fun to hang out with, asked this on a certain site known as Quora: “I am looking to rent a cannon and shoot my fathers ashes out of them at a family gathering. This appears less straightforward an exercise than I anticipated. How would I go about finding someone in Wisconsin to rent me a cannon?”

One wonders how someone would think renting a cannon with which to shoot his daddy’s ashes into the sky is “a straightforward enterprise,” even in Wisconsin. Still, the man’s question led to a couple answers, including that he shop for a cannon on Amazon or the suggestion that he “see about buying an antique blunder buss and shoot him out about 1/5th at a time.”

I then learned one can buy “deactivated” artillery pieces online, including some big ones.

You can also hire a human cannonball, complete with cannon, spandex tights and crash helmet. If Pembroke tries that on an annual basis with the area press, it might give the Seafood Fest a run for its money. Imagine the headlines on WTOC: “Editors Expelled over Ellabell,” and “Correspondents Catapulted to Clyde.”

Happy Easter, everybody.

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