The $200 Dollar Jeans

Jeans for the Hollywood Elite

I put on my old jeans the other day to go out and work in the yard. As I headed for the door the wife said, “You aren’t going to wear those outside are you?”
“Yeah,” I said, “Why?”
“They look horrible!”
“Who cares?” I said.
“The neighbors might see you.”
I stopped, looked at her and sighed.

“They’re covered with paint, and the knees are ripped,” she added.
“Honey,” I said. “Do you know there are people in San Francisco and Los Angeles who pay hundreds of dollars for jeans like these?”
She rolled her eyes and we lived happily ever after.

I have joined the Hollywood elite. I now wear $200 dollar jeans.




By the way: if you’ve read any of my books and haven’t written a review on Amazon, will you do that for me? Please? Your review is important to me, and it helps other readers determine if my books are worthwhile. Just click on the current number of reviews for the book on and click on the button “Write a Customer Review.” It doesn’t have to be lengthy or some great literary work, just your honest comments. I will appreciate it.

Valley of the Purple Hearts is Out!

Valley of the Purple Hearts

Book #4 in the Vietnam War series, is now available in both print and Kindle e-reader formats on at Classified as historical military fiction, Valley of the Purple Hearts is a story about a squad of paratroopers with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam in the months following the 1968 Tet Offensive. Buck Marino, a naive boy fresh off the farm, quickly finds his yearning for adventure becomes a struggle for survival as he faces the horrific realities of war.

Valley of the Purple Hearts, The 101st Airborne in Vietnam

The story of an infantry squad in Vietnam.

I have addressed the inevitable cliches of such a story through deeper development of the characters, their psyches and relationships. And, as with Book #3 in the series, Raeford’s MVP, Valley of the Purple Hearts explores the aftermath of war and its effects on the individual combat veteran. Be sure to read the review comments by Army Brigadier General (retired) Robert Enzenauer, a paratrooper surgeon who served two tours in Afghanistan with the 19th Special Forces Group. Not even officially recognized by the military until 1981, “Post Traumatic Stress is,” as Doctor Enzenauer explained, “not a disorder, but a very normal human reaction.” Great effort was taken to embed this reality within the story.

There is also included in the story a strong under-pinning of the “Vietnam experience” depicted through both allegorical and direct reference to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, primarily as seen through the eyes of squad leader Sergeant Rolley Zwyrkowski. I feel this helps a reader better understand the bizarre nature of what was the Vietnam War, its lack of coherent strategy and the actions of the military leaders during that time. It also adds a certain much needed comic relief to the story.

Because of its current relevance, Valley of the Purple Hearts is not a light read, but I have taken care to make it a rewarding one. As with my other novels, Valley of the Purple Hearts has a strong female secondary protagonist represented by Army nurse Janie Jorgensen. And, as it seems to be my unavoidable nature, I have written a romantic thread into the story. After all, where would any veteran be without the strong support of a mate?

For those of you who have read this far into this blog post, I am also making a special offer effective through Saturday, August 5th, 2017. Anyone who will commit to writing and posting an honest review of Valley of the Purple Hearts on Amazon and can receive a free copy of the Kindle e-reader edition of the book. Simply send me your email address via the “contact” screen on the website. I will purchase a copy (not even I get them for free) and have it emailed from Amazon to you or your Kindle device. Amazon also offers free downloadable e-reader apps for other devices, including cell phones, thus enabling Kindle books to be read in virtually any format.

 Valley of the Purple Hearts

Best Wishes,

Rick DeStefanis

Everything is coming up Roses….so to speak

Everything is coming up Roses….so to speak


The dear wife’s roses bloomed all over (being a vet, I want to say “hell and back”) but, being an aging husband who wants to keep the peace, I’ll just leave it at “all over.” The rambling pink roses are my efforts to preserve some of the wonderful past we experienced when we first moved to Cedar View, Mississippi, just south of Olive Branch. That was something like shortly after the last ice age—the mid-1980’s.  On the drive down Highway 78, you now pass the Goodman Road exit where Kroger, Papa Johns, Sears and a couple motels now stand. That was once Mr. Crumpler’s cow pasture. I remember like it was yesterday when black and white cows grazed peacefully in the pool of misty white fog that always hung in that creek-bottom till it melted away in the late morning sun.

The next exit off of Highway 78 was Highway 305, AKA Cockrum Street, and if you turned south, rambling roses grew all along the highway right-of-way. Back then 305 was two narrow lanes bordered by barbed wire fences and piles of Kudzu. As the years passed, the roses dwindled along with the Kudzu, and in 2015…or maybe it was 2014, the highway had been widened, and new subdivisions had sprung-up, and they were staking out a new church where the last of the roses grew in a roadside ditch. I went up there one day with my shovel and some buckets and dug up as many as I could. Those are the pink ones you see in the photo.

The Rambling Roses of Olive Branch

The first time I ever saw Olive Branch, Mississippi was in 1965 when I worked a summer job as a brush cutter with a survey firm out of Memphis, called Moser Engineering. We left the recently completed I-55 just south of Memphis at the Horn Lake Exit, and drove Goodman Road eastward. The five-lane thoroughfare it is now, wasn’t even imagined back then. It turned to gravel about a quarter-mile after we left the interstate, and there was nothing more than a farm house here and there for twelve miles or so.

We ate lunch with city officials that day at the Olive Branch Country Club, where I was pretty certain I had reached the outermost limits of civilization. Moser Engineering was laying out the right-of-way for a new four-lane divided highway planned to run parallel to what is now called Old 78. Four years later, during my senior year of high school, I returned to Olive Branch, making several trips to Maywood, the now forever gone swimming pool with spring fountains and sand beaches—one that will never know any comparison—but that’s another story for another time.

Janet and I have lived out in the country south of Olive Branch for thirty-something years, and I think the locals are just about to accept us as something other than foreigners. Subdivisions surround us, and the urban sprawl of gas stations and drug stores is coming ever closer, but I think the roots are now too deeply sunk. Best wishes to all my readers and my vet friends. And I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record (You young folks ask your mother or grandmother, she’ll explain the term), but the next novel is coming later in the summer.