Monday June 30, 2003 11:46 PM

We had as big a day Saturday as we've had in a long long time with the day's events including a once in a lifetime exposure to a living piece of history!

I got up about a ½ hour later than I'd really meant to since I'd stayed up late the night before typing away, but I did manage to finally pry my self out of bed. Ruth had gone to her folks house to feed their cats since they were out of town. Isaiah was just waking up when I got out of the shower and I got the rare privilege of helping him get dressed. I help him get ready for bed about 6.5 nights out of 7, but Ruth almost always helps him get up since I'm at work when he gets up during the week and usually still snoozing when he gets up on the weekends.

We hadn't been up and dressed long when Ruth got back. and we got our stuff together and lit out for our first destination. Our friends H and L B, the parents of Isaiah's girlfriend E B were having a garage sale and we stopped by for a few minutes. I had contemplated earlier in the week getting up early and hauling over an old lawnmower we've got that runs fine but has a cracked gas tank, but it didn't take many brain-clock cycles to run a cost-benefit analysis which indicated this might not be a worthwhile idea. So instead of selling anything, we ended up spending $3 on a couple Louis L'Amour paperbacks and an assortment of Andy Capp and Family Circle books. Sadly, garage sales seem to be the only place you find the latter anymore. I guess it's just not economical to make short paperback books that sell for less than $8 these days.

When we left the B's house we headed for the St. Louis riverfront to see LST-325 which was moored beneath the Arch. Perhaps you recall hearing the story of a WWII ship, left in Europe after the war, and donated to the Greek navy a few years later. If you've heard the story you know that when the Greeks mothballed the ship, a group of US WWII veterans (average age 72 years) went to Greece, took possession of the ship, refurbished it and sailed it back to the United States entirely by themselves. Ruth had heard on the news that this ship, LST-325, was in St. Louis till July 7th and was open to the public.

Isaiah had been excited about seeing 'the big boat' for a couple of days. The riverfront was packed on this beautiful if slightly warm Saturday and the parking place we found wasn't exactly close. The flame of Isaiah's excitement was banked somewhat but not extinguished by the approximately ¼ mile walk, though he was bordering on getting a little cranky since his requests to be carried fall on deaf ears.

Once we came in view of the ship, though, he perked back up. It's an impressive sight at over 300' feet long. I must say that Isaiah's behavior aboard the vessel simply could not have been better. He was absolutely perfect. Perhaps it was a combination of fascination and intimidation in the complex and imposing confines of the ship.

As we had been walking up the gangplank, Isaiah had observed that there would probably be "buttons and controls" on the ship and that maybe he could "operate them". This, however, was not the case, for our guided tour began with our guide's imperative not to touch any "switch, button, lever, or control of any kind" since the ship was fully functional and the generators were running. Isaiah duly noted this command and vowed to "keep his hands off stuff".

The tour was about an hour long and took us through the whole boat. By the time it was over, we were all ready to be done. We were getting hungry and tired of ascending and descending steep ladderways and watching our heads and feet as we passed through hatches. As we stood on the top deck taking a final look around before leaving forever, Isaiah saw some "army guys". I'm not sure if they were current active duty soldiers in uniforms of a previous era for the day, or if they were veterans wearing someone else's WWII uniforms (they were obviously not old enough to have been issued the historic outfits), but Isaiah wanted to shake one of their hands.

He asked me if he could and I told him to go ask them. The three of them were talking among themselves as he approached and didn't notice him standing there, so he took one's hand and politely asked "May I shake your hand?". Of course, the soldier was pleased to shake Isaiah's hand. And as Isaiah waved goodbye to the soldiers and the boat, we walked back down the gangplank to head back home.

We were all pretty tired when we got home and Ruth and Isaiah took naps. I didn't take a nap, but only because I knew we had plans for the evening and the afternoon was quickly evaporating. I didn't want to fall asleep and wake up cranky without having gotten enough sleep.

A good friend of Ruth's folks had gotten tickets for us, herself, and Ruth's Aunt Ruth to attend a patriotic concert at a local church she had ties to, and we were going over to her house for dinner before the concert. Isaiah's behavior at Miss Donna's house was not quite up to the standard he's set earlier in the day and he was driving me a little nuts, though he wasn't actually being bad. He just would not settle down, but I guess he was about as good as I could expect a 4 year old to be after such a long day. He was much better at the concert and when we went back to Miss Donna's after the concert for desert.

When we got home about 10:30, we were all worn out. We'd had a long day, but we'd had a good time together.

Pictures of LST-325 can be found at: