Back to profile

Tom Garrett

Stories by Tom

Tease photo

How I handled Air Force One

Your Turn

Yes, you read that title right; I not only got to handle the presidential aircraft — Air Force One — but I also got to do most of the grunt work all by my lonesome.

Tease photo

When the wilds call some of us have to answer – Part 3

Your Turn

Last week I wrote about the adventure of getting stuck on an ice floe in Iceland.

Tease photo

When the wilds call some of us have to answer – Part 2

Your Turn

Last week I broke off at the point where I had reached Iceland, where the sight of the midnight blue Arctic Ocean lying in one direction and a range of snow-clad mountains in the other had told me I was in for some great hiking, but then I learned that the only way we were allowed off base was in a blue Class-A uniform armed with a pass to a town or city! 

Tease photo

When the wilds call, some of us have to answer

Your Turn

Some people are happy to spend their lives in a town or city surrounded by concrete and asphalt. And that’s fine; we’re each different and we have a natural right to be whatever we feel we are. But that’s not me; I’m happiest when I’m in the great outdoors.

Tease photo

What’s in a nickname? Often more than you’d like to know

Your Turn

I was reading a book by Winston Churchill where he mentioned that he and President Roosevelt privately referred to Joseph Stalin, the murderous dictator of the Soviet Union, as “Uncle Joe.”

Tease photo

You really can’t go home again

Your Turn

When my family moved from New York City to New London, Conn., I found myself in a town that suited me perfectly, small enough to know well, but large enough to be worth knowing.

You never know what the next day may have in store for you

Your Turn

I tell you, Johnny, if someone had asked me 10 years ago how many good murder mystery novels I had ever read  — and enjoyed — I would have had to admit the total came to a nice round figure: zero.

Inventions people’d pay a lot for

A few weeks ago I discovered that confession can be good for the soul — and for a laugh. It happened when I got thinking about something — a bad habit at my age — and came up with a list of 10 items I doubted Mom and Pop’s generation had back in the early 1900s.

A little more about ‘I thought ...’

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I cringe whenever I hear someone start a sentence with, “Oh, I thought ...” or, “Oh, I didn’t think ...” or one of its many variations.

Tease photo

Four days and 1,000 miles by rail on a ‘prisoner chase’ – Part 2

Your Turn

The first thing the 19-year-old basic trainee deserter did when Eddie Morgan and I got him seated in our compartment and the train started rolling was look at my drill instructor’s badge and say, “DI, you ain’t never gonna get me back to that base! I’ll take out both of you.”

Tease photo

Four days and 1,000 miles by rail on a ‘prisoner chase’

Your Turn

After two years of civilian life I re-enlisted in the Air Force in 1955, having discovered that I had mistakenly left the kind of life I truly loved.

Tease photo

Those important words left unsaid can haunt us

Your Turn

I have a ready answer if someone ever asks me, “Tom, what was the worst mistake you ever made in your life?”

Tease photo

When Mother Nature waves her wand we can but stand and watch

Your Turn

Back in 2013 we talked about a Jeep trip that my beloved wife and I took to Bhambore, an archaeological site in Pakistan.

Tease photo

Sometimes two dumb mistakes can cancel each other out – Part 2

Your Turn

Two dumb wrongs can occasionally make a right. Last week I told you that I believed I was infected with amoebic dysentery, which was incurable in 1960, or so the embassy doctor told me during his preliminary check of my galloping diarrhea. That tentative diagnosis was given on a Wednesday.

Tease photo

Every once in a while two dumb mistakes cancel each other out

Your Turn

One thing I learned as soon as I began traveling overseas during my 21 years in the Air Force was to expect to be told about local health rules and customs as soon as I arrived in a new country.

Tease photo

Giving up smoking is not that hard – Part 2

Your Turn

Last week I confessed that whenever I make the comment that giving up smoking is easy I always add, “It’s got to be. I’ve done it four times.” :-)

Tease photo

Giving up smoking is not that hard – Part 1

Your Turn

I often tell people that giving up smoking is easy. “Of course, it’s easy!” I tell them. “I’ve done it four times.”

Tease photo

More about thinking; or rather, ‘Oh, I DIDN’T think.’

Your Turn

A month back we talked about people who use the phrase, “Oh, I thought that ... (fill in the blank).” We came to the conclusion that most of the time they really mean, “Oh, I DIDN’T think.” I mentioned that I cringe when I hear a sentence start that way, and we talked about a few of life’s happy events that created that cringe.

Tease photo

Who do we expect to see when we watch a movie with a favorite star?

Your Turn

The title of this column asks an intriguing question, doesn’t it? When you sit down to watch yet another movie starring one of your favorites who do you actually expect to see? The person he is playing or the star himself?

Tease photo

Even old folks like me can eventually learn new things

Your Turn

Apparently it takes some of us a long time to catch on about some things.

Tease photo

‘Thinking something’ can be good or bad - Part 2

Your Turn

I once sat on a grassy knoll during a field training exercise as an Air Force weapons instructor strove to make a point, one we had learned the hard way on too many Air Force bases at the beginning of the Korean War.

Tease photo

‘Thinking something’ can be good or bad!

Your Turn

There are three little words that scare the pants off me. When I hear them coming out of the same person too often, I keep my distance.

Tease photo

Amazing how little we know about things in the very recent past – Pt. 2

Your Turn

This column had its birth when I ripped up a finger and used some of the handy things we all have around the house to fix the mess I had made — a little peroxide, a Band-Aid, some antibiotic cream, and — especially — a pair of handy-dandy nail clippers.

Tease photo

Amazing how little we know about things in the very recent past

Your Turn

This column had its birth in a thought that passed through my mind when I was using some hydrogen peroxide to clean a cut on a fingertip.

Tease photo

Authors and their creations: Who controls who? Part 2

Your Turn

As I said last week, it has always seemed ironic to me that much the same thing happened to the two most widely read writers of detective mysteries.

Tease photo

Authors and their creations – Who controls who?

Your Turn

It has always seemed ironic to me that almost the same thing happened to each of the two most widely read writers of detective mysteries, two people whose books and short stories are still bought and read today — Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Tease photo

You can learn something new every day when you read

Your Turn

By now I guess that you know I like to read. I picked up the habit when I was young and have been at it ever since

Tease photo

Sometimes we have no idea how close we are to a bit of history

Your Turn

A few weeks ago I finished up a column about a close call I’d had on a Navy aircraft, which ran out of fuel taxiing in after a mid-winter flight over icy seas. A few gallons less and we’d have crash-landed in the North Sea. Chances of survival? Probably few and none.

Tease photo

Seeing some admired pioneer’s picture can be a shock

Your Turn

Whatever you do, don’t let your kids read about an American hero, get a glorious image of him fixed in their heads, and then see a photograph of him. Oh, well. Go ahead, but plan on having some disappointed kids!

Tease photo

A tale of Teddy

Your Turn

If you’re thinking that the Teddy in the title to this column is a teddy bear or Teddy Roosevelt, think again.

Tease photo

Plan on being surprised visiting a foreign country – Episode 2

Your Turn

Five or six weeks ago I mentioned that if you go abroad you should plan on “enjoying” a few small surprises — and maybe some not-so-small ones.

Tease photo

There’s thinking and then there’s just thinking you’re thinking – Part 3

Your Turn

Last week we talked about the original “Star Trek” series, some very fine science fiction by the way, and we came across a small glitch in the thinking of the writers over which — if it were ever to come true — there would be hell to pay.

Tease photo

There’s thinking and then there’s just thinking you’re thinking – Part 2

Your Turn

Last week I mentioned something I once read in a book written by a philosopher named Descartes — namely, “I think, therefore I am.

Tease photo

There’s thinking and then there’s just thinking you’re thinking

Your Turn

We are always telling school kids to think. Nice idea, but ...

Tease photo

The trip back home isn’t always a boring nothing, Part 2

Your Turn

Both of my “interesting” trips back home happened on aircraft. I deserve no blame for the mess I told you about last week; it was a routine flight back home. But the mess I’m going to mention today was my own dumb fault.

Tease photo

The trip back home isn’t always a boring nothing

Your Turn

It’s an odd fact — but a very human one, I suspect — that we usually remember the outbound trip to somewhere, but not the homeward bound trip.

Tease photo

Plan on being surprised if you ever visit a foreign country

Your Turn

If you go abroad plan to “enjoy” a few small surprises — and maybe some not-so-small ones. I sure did, so let’s have some fun.

Tease photo

A day that changed my life – Part 2

Your Turn

Last week I left off where a friendly, helpful librarian lady had astounded Tommy Garrett, age 8, by granting him a privilege that even adults didn’t have back then — the privilege of going through the latched gate behind the librarian’s desk and wandering through the books until I found what I wanted.

Tease photo

Remembering a day that changed my life – forever

Your Turn

A while back we talked about what science is. Any scientist would say that science is nothing just observing the world and trying to understand how it works.

Tease photo

Give yourself a very special Christmas present

Your Turn

You are reading this sometime near Christmas Day. I wrote it back in September, but today feels like Christmas. Why?

Tease photo

Sea Devil or Sea Eagle? – Part 3

Your Turn

Last week we left Captain Felix von Luckner attempting the seemingly impossible: Slipping his tall masted sailing ship through multiple rings of British ships blockading German seaports.

Tease photo

Sea Devil or Sea Eagle? Part 2

Your Turn

Since my youngest days I have believed George Santayana when he said that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

Tease photo

World War I ‘Sea Devil’ learned the lessons of history

Your Turn

Since my youngest days I have felt that history teachers too often fail to keep in mind the words of George Santayana, a man famed for saying that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

Tease photo

We occasionally have the wrong idea about someone

Your Turn

Sometimes we see the name of someone from the past, yawn, and move on to something more interesting.

Tease photo

Private enterprise is the heartbeat of America - Part 3

Your Turn

Last week and the week before we talked about freedom and private enterprise here in America, but I’m happy to tell you that in most parts of the world I have been privileged to visit, the concept of “a man and an idea” is still alive and well. 

Tease photo

Private enterprise is the heartbeat of America - Part 2

Your Turn

Last week I talked about a friend of mine back in the Great Depression, a kid who came up with a simple idea and instead of making maybe a dollar or a dollar and half shining shoes all day Saturday made something like five or six dollars.

Tease photo

Private enterprise is the heartbeat of America

Your Turn

If there is anything that life has taught me it’s that free people are happy people. A few weeks back I quoted something that a western writer named John Tuska had to say. Here’s part of it:

Tease photo

A genuinely scary Halloween story

Your Turn

Every once in a while someone tries to frighten me with a scary Halloween tale.

Tease photo

It’s time someone explained what science really is – Part 2

Your Turn

One thing the mainstream media just can’t seem to get straight is the difference between science and technology.

Tease photo

It’s time someone explained what science really is

Your Turn

Something that genuinely troubles me as a scientist, and even more as an ex-science teacher, is that so many of our youngsters go all the way through 12 years of school without ever having a science teacher take a moment out to tell them what science actually is.

Prev