They call these watches Pogues, though when it was new in 1978 it was just a Seiko Automatic Chronograph. An astronaut named Bill Pogue had worn one in orbit on Skylab a few years earlier, but a decade or more went by before the watch picked up the name it’s known by today. Now they’re collectors’ items.
In early 1978 we were nearing the end of our first USAF tour of duty. I was teaching Air Force student pilots to fly the Cessna T-37 at Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma. Our three years were almost in and it was time for our next assignment. I’d been hoping to fly fighters, and by great good fortune had gotten my wish: I’d just been selected to fly the F-15 Eagle. Donna and I went to the base exchange at Vance AFB to pick out a fighter pilot watch. There was no question: of all the fancy wrist candy at the jewelry counter, the Seiko Automatic Chronograph was the obvious choice. The fact that the men who’d taught me to fly a few years earlier had all come back from Vietnam wearing this particular watch confirmed the choice. It flew with me for the next 20 years, all over the world, pulling 9 Gs again and again, never missing a tick. Until after we retired and settled in Tucson, that is, and the day I forgot to take it off before jumping in the pool.
It sat in a dresser drawer, stopped dead and rusting internally, for more than two decades. In 2021, we splurged and had it rebuilt, which cost about what the watch is worth on the collectors’ market. It’s running again and I wear it often, now in rotation with other watches in my collection. This old Pogue is my happy watch, and I chose it deliberately this morning, believing with all my heart that if I’m happy the doctor in turn will be happy with me. And she is!
I haven’t posted for a week and feel the need to apologize. We have a house guest bedded down in the home office, which thanks to a fold-down Murphy bed doubles as our backup guest bedroom. The primary guest bedroom has a daughter and a cat in it (and may be thus occupied for the duration, the way things are going with Polly), so company gets the home office. I can get to my desk and iMac only sporadically. This is one of those sporadic moments. The window is rapidly closing, so just a quick scribble for now.
With regard to Israel and its impending ground invasion of Gaza, I keep thinking of the Buffy episode where Xander, on a construction site, falls into a buried Spanish mission which had been built on a Native American sacred site, awakening an ancient Indian spirit warrior. When Buffy and Willow agonize over the necessity of killing the spirit warrior before it lays revengeful waste to the population of Sunnydale, Spike tries to make them feel better with a little speech about the way of the world, how invading populations have always taken the land and displaced or killed indigenous populations. It’s the way it is and you’re not going to change it, he essentially says. Your side won and they lost.
And for the life of me I can’t think of another way for Israel to come to grips with the threat posed by Hamas, which will never, as far as I can see, give up its goal of killing all the Jews. Of course I fucking hate the indiscriminate killing and harming of innocent Palestinians. But. As I said in a recent post, this is a time when sides must be taken and I take Israel’s.