Blood and Sand

Streets of Pamplona Before the Run

I went to Pamplona to run with the bulls and catch a couple of bullfights. I had never been to a bullfight before and didn’t know what to expect. I had rather a detached and academic approach towards the whole affair but I must admit I was fascinated by what I saw and emotionally moved.

To prepare for my journey I brought with me to read, Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway. I have prepared some quotes from the book to accompany the pictures I took. No on can quite explain the experience of bullfighting like Ernest Hemingway. He it the master.

Here I am getting ready to run
Here come the bulls!
Here I am after the Run celebrating with a Hot Milk and Brandy

There are three acts to every bullfight. They are always the same. The first act is where the bull charges the picadors and the matador distracts the bull with his cape. The picador drives the steel of the pic into the neck muscles of the bull to weaken it.

Act two is the banderillas. They are a pair of sticks about three feet long tipped with a harpoon-like shaped steel point at on the end four centimeters long. They are placed two at a time in the humped muscles at the top of the bulls neck as the bull is charging the matador. They are designed to complete the work of slowing the bull down. Four pair are usually put in.

The Bull charges the horse and Picador
The Picador weakens the bull by stabbing it in the neck muscles.
The matador protects the picador by distracting the bull with his cape

“So, I went to Spain to see bullfights and to try to write about them for myself. I thought they would be simple and barbarous and cruel and that I would not like them, but that I would see certain and definite action which would give me the feeling of life and death that I was working for. I found the definite action, but the bullfight was far from simple and I liked it so much that it was too complicated for my then equipment for writing to deal with, and aside from four very small sketches, I was not able to write anything about it for five years and I wish I would have waited ten.”

-Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

The moment of truth

The last act is the sword and the muleta. The muleta is a red cloth folded over a stick. With the muleta the matador masters the bull before going in for the kill. Finally the matador kills the bull by thrusting the sword high between the shoulder blades of the bull.

The coup de grace

“The bullfight is not a sport, that is it is not an equal contest or an attempt at an equal contest between a man and a bull. Rather it is a tragedy, the death of the bull, which is played more or less well by the bull and the man involved, and in which there is danger for the man, but certain death for the bull.”

-Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon

“So far, about morals, I only know what is moral is what makes you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after and judged by those moral standards, which I do not defend, the bullfight is very moral to me because I feel very fine while it is going on and have a feeling of life and death and mortality and immortality, and after it is over I feel very sad but very fine.”

-Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Blood and Sand
The bull is dragged off by a team of horses
Hemingway’s presence was felt everywhere

All photos by the author except the photos of himself which were taken by his wife, Maureen

Tribute to the Commander on Veterans Day

A Commanding Presence

I come from a long line of warriors. My grandfather, Samuel V. Bell Sr., served in WWI, my brother, Christopher Allen Bell, served in Viet-Nam, and my father, Samuel V. Bell Jr., served in Korea. This Veterans Day I pay special tribute to my father, Lt. Commander Samuel V. Bell Jr., who served in the United States Navy for 22 years.

According to his unpublished auto-biography, Commander Bell saw action as a young man on seas off the coast of Korea where he fought the North Koreans and the Chinese. He and his ship, the USS Zellars, provided support for General Douglas MacArthur’s 10th Army Corps which consisted of 50,000 troops. He also participated in the opening of Wonsan Harbor on the East Coast of Korea.

Lt. Commander Samuel V. Bell Jr. entered the U.S. Navy in 1943 when he was seventeen. He was accepted into an officers training programmed and became a commissioned officer 1945 just as WWII was drawing to a close. He was at the Navy Ship Yards in Philadelphia when I was born in 1948 in Louisville, Kentucky. Two years later, my brother Chris was born, while my father was fighting the Chinese in Korea. This information and what follows was gleaned from a family scrapbook which was lovingly put together by his daughters and his grand daughters, Susan Bell, Whitney Vale, Lisa Bell, and Summer Sneed.

Served on the following ships and duty Stations:

• 1945-1946 USS Tarawa – Aircraft Carrier

• 1947-1949 USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. – Destroyer

• 1950-1951 USS Zellars – Destroyer

• 1953-1956 USS Norton Sound – Experimental Missile Ship

• 1956-1957 China Lake, California – Guided Missile Unit 25

• 1958-1961 Norfolk, Virginia, Staff of Amphibious Group, Atlantic Fleet

• 1962-1963 USS Columbus, Guided Missile Cruiser

• 1963-1964 General Electric, Pittsfield, Mass. Technical Advisor on Navy’s Polaris Submarine Ballistic Missile program

Awarded the following Medals:

• American Campaign Medal

• WWII Victory Medal

• Commendation Medal with Combat

• Navy Occupation Medal

• China Service Medal

• Korean Service Medal with 4 Battle Stars

• United Nations Service Medal

• Korean Presidential Unit Citation

• American Defense Service Medal

In 1964 He retired from the Navy and began his second career at University of Louisville teaching electrical engineering. He retired from teaching in 1995 and lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is cared for by his family.

As the saying goes, old soldiers never die, they just fade way. My father’s light is not burning as bright as it once was but still it burns. He will be remembered for his impact on his family’s lives, his service to his country, and for the values he always projected: Courage, honor, and duty. Raised during the so called Great Depression, he was a hard-working man who taught me the value of hard work and discipline. We salute you, Dad, on Veterans Day!