Who once lived in this house? When did they live there? When did they leave? Why did they leave? Did they die there? What brought them to this place?
When I see an old house like the one in today’s photo, I can’t help but wonder not just about the house, but the people who once filled it with, hopefully, laughter. But one never knows, do they? Was this home filled with laughter or with pain and tears? One can only surmise that this home, like our own homes today, have a mix of joy and sorrow, laughter and weeping.
This old home sits alongside of Woodford’s Station (a combination deli and small store) in the “town” of Woodfords in the Hope Valley area of northern California, south of Lake Tahoe. To call Woodfords a store is really pushing it. And, to be honest, the service at Woodfords Station left something to be desired. They seemed far more interested in selling lottery tickets than in taking our money for some soft drinks and some chips, and the attitude of the workers was one of stand-offishness and wasn’t very friendly at all. But when I went back outside to get in the truck to go somewhere else, beside the station on the hill to the east was this old ramshackle dwelling. It was surrounded by brush and has been empty for decades, I’m guessing. It make an interesting subject for the camera, even as I pondered how our lives can get overgrown with cares and worries, struggles, responsibilities and duties. It would take a lot to get this home “livable” again. It takes a lot of work to get our lives “livable” again if we’ve let things take over our lives that aren’t healthy. Houses come and go, however we only have one life…and hopefully we’ll do whatever it takes to make our life worth living. Even if it means clearing away a lot of the things that have overgrown by virtue of a lack of attention.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1965, during part of what would become known as the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, a battalion from the 1st Cavalry Division is ambushed by the 8th Battalion of the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment. The battle started several days earlier when the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry engaged a large North Vietnamese force at Landing Zone X-Ray at the base of the Cheu Pong hills (Central Highlands). (NOTE: this part of the battle was turned into a movie, We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson.)
As that battle subsided, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, was ordered to move cross-country to Landing Zone Albany, where it was to be picked up by helicopter and moved to a new location. The U.S. unit was moving through the jungle in a long column when the North Vietnamese sprang a massive ambush along the length of the column from all sides. Companies C and D took the brunt of the Communist attack–within minutes, most of the men from the two companies were hit.
The North Vietnamese forces had succeeded in engaging the U.S. forces in very tight quarters, where supporting U.S. firepower could not be used without endangering American lives. The cavalrymen returned fire, but the Communistss were fighting from prepared fighting positions and many of the American leaders had been felled in the initial stages of the ambush. As night fell, the cavalrymen waited for the North Vietnamese to attack but illumination flares provided by air force aircraft made the enemy cautious. By morning, they had withdrawn.
Senior U.S. military leaders declared the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley an American victory. That had clearly been the case with the fight at Landing Zone X-Ray, where the three-day battle resulted in 834 North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed with another 1,000 communist casualties likely. However, the battle at Landing Zone Albany was another story. Although there were over 400 enemy soldiers lying on the battlefield after the fighting was over, the battle had been an extremely costly one for the 1st Cavalry troopers. Of the 500 men in the original column moving to Landing Zone Albany, 150 had been killed and only 84 were able to return to immediate duty. 93 percent of Company C sustained some sort of wound or injury–half of them died.
The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley was important because it was the first significant contact between U.S. troops and North Vietnamese forces. The action demonstrated that the North Vietnamese were prepared to stand and fight major battles, and senior American leaders concluded that U.S. forces could wreak significant damage on the communists in such battles. The North Vietnamese also learned a valuable lesson during the battle: they saw that they could negate the effects of superior American firepower by engaging American troops in physically close combat, so that U.S. artillery and air fire could not be used without endangering American lives. This became standard North Vietnamese practice for the rest of the war.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the South Pole is actually a desert environment, averaging about the same amount of monthly rainfall as the Sahara Desert.