Thoughts about September

This September is somewhat unique from the many that have come before. My oldest son, Don Jr., just celebrated his 70th birthday. Next fall, Dan, the youngest of my five sons, will be 60. Time really does fly by, doesn’t it? It’s the season for the autumn leaves to begin to fall.

My son, Doug, with whom I live, has done a wonderful job with the landscaping of our property. Our 20 or so trees will soon release a ton of leaves, and I know Doug is looking forward to collecting them all. I distinctly remember the huge bonfire we had last year disposing of the debris. I’m glad Doug called the Sheriff’s department beforehand, so the neighbors wouldn’t call out the Fire department.

September is also the time that I recall, back in 1970, that my nephew, Robert Oren Hill Jr. a “Medevac / Dustoff” helicopter pilot had been killed in Viet Nam. Bobby, as we call him, had over 550 missions flying in and out of combat zones to rescue wounded soldiers from battle. His brother Bruce, who was a Green Beret, was in Viet Nam at the same time. September 27, 1970 is forever etched in our family’s mind.

Doug told me days ago he was watching a comedy, “Robin Hood Men in Tights,” one of his favorite movies. For some reason, Doug decided to view the credits at the end of this movie to see where it’d been filmed, etc. One of the production staff was named Bruce Robert Hill. A chill ran down my spine. How could there be someone, combining Bruce and Bob, showing up at this particular time?

Once again it seems God was telling me that my loved ones are watching over us. My deceased husband Van was a Marine gunny sergeant. Just last month as I sat in a medical center lobby waiting to take some tests, a man came by whistling the Marine Corp hymn. A few minutes later, a man came by, dressed in a black T-shirt, with huge white lettering on it that said “VANS.” I was stunned.

It was September about 60 years ago that I fondly remember Bob Jr. and Bruce coming to visit their cousins, my sons Don Jr. and Doug in Roslyn, Pa. The kids had a great weekend together, one of very few that weren’t with the main family get together site of Logan in Philly at Grandma Hill’s place. I’ll never forget Bobby asking for his eggs to be placed on top of the pancakes, then his pouring syrup over them.

Back then, at least in the East, few had heard of a pancake sandwich. My own children had an aversion to anything that mixed together on their plate. However, Don Sr. my first husband and the boys’ father always said, “Hey, it doesn’t matter, it all gets mixed in the stomach anyway.” However, as I recall, Don did his level best to keep all of the things on his plate separated through the entire meal.

The recent earthquake in California occurred just eight miles away from my son Don’s home in Vallejo. Doug told me beforehand that his left knee had been hurting and I asked him why? He said it’s his “earthquake” knee. I just laughed. Doug then told me how, when he worked in Bakersfield, Calif. for Pacific Bell in the late 1970s one September, that he had predicted an earthquake in front of about a dozen co-workers.

It was late on a Friday that Doug said there would be an earthquake of between four and five magnitude, that it would be 25 to 50 miles from Bakersfield, and that it would occur within 72 hours. Everyone in the office just rolled his or her eyes. However, on the following Monday afternoon, a 4.7 quake happened in Mettler, about 18 miles away.

Doug was as complexly shocked as everyone else.

Last Friday, we were supposed to go to dinner for Doug’s 68th birthday. Both of us had second thoughts and told each other about being uneasy about venturing out. We shook it off, and headed for town, only to find that the power had been knocked out all over Fallon and there was no known time of repair. We just looked at each other, with that “I told you so stare” and came home.

For me, September is a time to be both sad and glad. Sad about Bobby, and glad Doug rakes the leaves.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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