??Empty Nest??

Joyce and I found an apartment in Brown’s Addition and I started looking for a job, again. That Thanksgiving Mom came down with Pancreatic Cancer, so I was spending a lot of time in Sequim helping Pop until she passed away in January of 1990. In a short time we also lost Oscar and Uncle Alva. I returned to Spokane and a position in Customer Service with Northwest Telecommunications became available. Really thought that this was going to be my next retirement job.  Shortly after starting work, our lease on the apartment was coming up for renewal with a substantial increase in rent.  We had been complaining about a noisy young man that had won an insurance case and was loaded, living above us.  Management wouldn’t do anything about him, so we decided to look for another place and found a duplex on 15th.  While there I was a part time maintenance man for the complex, three duplexes together.  Joyce and I had discussed the possibility of purchasing the complex but decided to look around.  That’s when we bought the house on 29 E. 39th.  Shortly after, my dream of Northwest Telco being my last job, took a turn.  LDDS purchased NWT and they started letting people go.  I stayed on a while as a customer service  representative but their service wasn’t the same as before and I quit.  It didn’t take long, Sprint was opening a Cell Phone Store.  I interviewed and was hired.  During the interview they actually encouraged me to apply for manager but I didn’t feel comfortable, not knowing anything about retail.  Sprint sounded like an ideal company.  They promised to be very employee and customer oriented.  For nine weeks we were flown to Dallas Texas for classes during the week at the Delta Airlines campus and home on weekends.  One weekend, I transferred my round trip ticket to Joyce and she flew down for the weekend.  Spokane had an ice storm while I was  home from training and we lost power.  The neighbors tree actually lost a limb that pulled the cable from our house.  We ended up getting a room at Inn at the Park.  I had to fly back to school and Joe stayed with Joyce until electricity was restored to his house.  I came home later and arranged to have power reconnected to the house.  When school was completed, we returned home and got our store opened.  It was the first Sprint store to open.  The only problem working at a retail store was not getting our work schedule for the week until the Friday before.  I made a number of suggestions to improve that but they got turned down and the promises they made in the beginning went by the wayside.  Sprint needed money, so the employee support and customer service got lost.  The store had been opened about a year and Sprint sold the building.  A number of us, the higher paid ones, were let go.  I was still in contact with some of the employees working there and one of the women told me of an incident that happened when she was on a business trip with the District Manager and one of the commercial salesmen.  I recommended she take it to HR and make a complaint.  I was contacted by an investigator and she won her sexual harassment suit.  I did send out more resumes.  After most of the interviews I went on, I was usually told I was overqualified for the position.  I pretty much gave up.

Mike’s family moved in with us and lived in the basement for a while.  It was actually pretty fun, we had the kids visiting upstairs quite often.  I started getting into meditation and a group I was with, the leader was a Native American.  It was an interesting group, one of the participants claimed to be able to read past lives and it turned out I had been an Indian horse trader and she had been my daughter.  Another interesting episode that took place was when our leader brought her Peruvian Whistles to a gathering.  They were placed in the middle of a circle we formed, and if you got the urge, you picked one up and blew into it.  Soon you could hear music and singing and weird things and visions started happening.  Our leader taught Reiki and I eventually took classes and got my certificate.  Thinking about opening a Reiki business, I learned you have to be a nurse, a licensed massage therapist or a minister to touch someone.  Taking the weekend, on line test to be a minister didn’t appeal to me so I decided to become a massage therapist and signed up at Noetic School of Massage.  To start classes you had to have a massage and I got my first at age 63.  I really enjoyed the classes and working with the other students.  One of our classes was a trip to WSU, where we studied cadavers.  Another was to EWU, offering free massages to students.  On the way back from Cheney, one of the massage tables blew out of the back of our instructors pickup.  Another car of student and I stopped, it was dark, and one of the students was going to go out into the middle of the road to get the table and I pulled her back, just as an eighteen wheeler came along and hit it.  There was nothing to pick up after that.  Close to graduation we went out to a local ranch for a weekend.  One of the students was an Iroquois Indian from Canada.  We had a ceremony out by a bon fire and she gave everyone an Indian name.  Mine was Brave Buffalo, Ohitika-Tantanka.  After graduation I set up an office at home, Stone Shadow Massage, and at a local tanning salon.  I wanted to have more available for mu clients.  A woman I had met, Jenny Ray, was giving a class on hot stone massage up in Canada and I signed up.  She is Native American, Sioux, and started each day with ceremony of stone pipe outside to the four directions and sagging and drumming indoors.  The class lasted two weekends and at the end she had a naming ceremony and gave me Sacred Buffalo, Wakan-Tantanka.  Since I was given two names I can combine them, Brave-Sacred-Buffalo, or, Ohitika-a’-Wakan-Tantanka.  I had been doing massages a few months and injured by rotator cuff and had to have surgery.  Somehow during the surgery nerves were injured in my right arm and I ended up shutting down my massage office.

Around 2004, Mike and the kids moved back in to the basement.  It was fun having the kids in the house again.  Then around 2006, I ended up in the hospital with walking pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer.  Pop had found a girl friend, Thelma, when he was attending an annual BBQ in Anacortes, the trucking he had worked had.  She was from Houston Texas and Pop drove down to be with her in his motorhome.  She didn’t like motorhomes so Pop sold it down there.  A few weeks later, there is a knock on our front and there is Pop.  He had had an argument with Thelma and moved out.  We set him up in the front bedroom.  A couple of months later, took off back to Houston.  He spent a couple of months there and came back to Spokane.  We shifted things around again.  After a few calls, back down he goes.  A couple times, I tried to get him to just get a motel for a few days. His excuse, “You can’t argue with those damn Texans!”  I’m not sure how many times he disrupted our lives moving in and out.  But the last time we said no.  When he came back we told him he had to find another place to live.  He and I found a retirement home about a mile from where we lived.  He wanted a motorized two wheel scooter that you stand on for going around the retirement home but they said know.  So I went on line and found him a three wheeler that he really liked.  He lived there for about three months or so and asked if he could come live with us and we relented.

 

 

A Life Change

With the Vega loaded, I headed to Lompoc. One of Chris’s friends, Glenn, was going to be riding with me , coming up to Spokane for a visit. That poor Vega was really loaded, it actually squatted in back. Of course the springs weren’t all that good and the back may have been a couple of inches shorter. But it clocked right along. I was happy to have Glenn with me because, surprise, I alternated driving with her and we made it in two days.

With hindsight, it wasn’t the best of moves.  Thinking it would hold the family together, it proved to be just the opposite.  We’re a very close family and I’m proud of every one and what they have accomplished.  Do I think of the what ifs and the things I would have changed?  Often, but it’s kind of late now.  After twenty-two years in the military, of going from top dog to one of the liter was quite a shock to  me.  Thinking, with my experience and education I would have no problem finding a job with Hewlett Packard.  It didn’t happen right away.  Shortly after getting to Spokane and moving into our house Mount St. Helen erupted, May 18, 1980.  It was surreal.  The first thing I remember is the quiet.  Normally you hear birds in the trees and dogs barking and the other noises that happen around you.  All of a sudden they’re quiet, not a sound.  Then the ash cloud rolling overhead slowly blocking out the sun.  That’s when you start feeling the ash rain down, slowly at first and then faster, covering everything.  The kids were down at the Suncrest Community Resort, by the lake, and came driving back into the yard, piling out and running into the house.  We turned on the TV to find out what was happening and got the warning to stay indoors.  There was no school for about a week.  Because it happened so fast people started running low of food and everyone close shared.  About three or four days after the eruption, the kid across the street from us rode his bike to the store and bought a bunch of bread for everyone around where we live.  We all survived.   Life went back to normal.  A guy we met through church turned out to be the supervisor at the Montgomery Ward Service Department and he gave me a job in their electronic repair shop.  I almost didn’t get it because at indoctrination at the main store, the HR person told me I had to shave by beard off.  Ha!  No way was I doing that and I walked out.  I called my friend and told him and he went to HR and told them I wouldn’t be having contact with customers.  They let me keep my beard.  I worked there for a few months and then they cut back.  Being the last, I was let go.  I answered an add for a tech position, maintaining continuous playing music tapes in stores, early Muszak owned by PG&E.  This is before internet and cable.  I know it was before Thanksgiving, because we were trying to get the company to get me snow tires on my company vehicle.  I needed to go around and replace the tapes so the stores would have Christmas Music right after Thanksgiving.  I was going to have to do some quick traveling; Eastern Washington, Idaho, Western Montana, to Northeastern Oregon, back up through Idaho and back to Spokane.  PG&E finally got me tires, after Thanksgiving and I headed east.  Most of the customers were not happy getting their Christmas music late.  I was not happy because I was pushed.  It’s not fun driving across Montana at night on black ice and see the white crosses on the side of the road indicating car accident deaths.  But I made the loop and got back to Spokane and got an interview with HP.  My interview didn’t turn out the way I expected.  There weren’t any electronic technician positions available, so I was offered an assembly position.  Hewlett Packard had a really great reputation as a company to work for and I took the position.

Working at Hewlett Packard proved to be frustrating.  Talking to people that had moved up from California with HP when they put the plane in Liberty Lake, this plant was nowhere like other plants.  Instead of people having pride in what they were doing and working together, there was always competition.  It was what I call the “Kaiser Aluminum Mentality”, everyone was afraid you were after their job, especially the supervisors.  One of the first things I usually did when starting to work on a new module or component was to re-do the outdated and confusing instruction manuals.  And I did this on my own time, redrawing and simplifying.  Making them easier to understand and follow.  Supervisors were interested in quantity more than quality.  One particular problem had been evading them for a long time.  After doing some tests on my own, I called the plant where we were getting our circuit boards from.  I found out they had change the process.  I shared this information with our engineers, who were thrilled to finally find out what the problem was.  My supervisors informed me I was to no longer talk to the engineers but to come to them and they would pass information along.  The engineers were not happy with this and informed the supervisors.  Assemblers were allowed to have food at there station, you always were smelling popcorn.  One time the inspectors complained that they were seeing popcorn in the instruments.  I followed up and, looking under a microscope, found it was not organic popcorn but pieces of packing material.  Later, when I was working final assembly, I was working with the government inspectors.  They weren’t happy with some of the quality being put into the instrument line.  I warned management that we needed to improve or the inspectors were going to shut us down.  Their response, “We’re Hewlett Packard, they wouldn’t dare.”  One day the government inspectors shut our line down, until we proved our assembly and testing procedures were improved.  I was pulled off final assembly.  Back on the assembly line, I had stopped smoking and was drinking a lot of water, so I was going to the bathroom a lot.  Unbeknown to me one of the supervisors started a lottery on how many times I would be going to the bathroom.  I found out about it at my annual review.  My supervisor told me an I exploded, he had allowed that to happen and he hadn’t even wondered if there was anything medically wrong.  I went to HR and complained about that and a few other things.  I was transferred to swing shift.  It really didn’t work out and I quit.  I didn’t realize it was going to be so hard finding another job.  Interviewing with other companies, they wanted to know why I would quit a great company like Hewlett Packard.

I kind of laugh, now, when I think about our family.  It is really hard living in a home where everyone is an Alpha.  Over the years, Joyce and I had brought up the kids to be pretty independent.  It was a way to cope with always moving, at least every three years, they had to fend as a family together.  And you can see it in their families now.  It has been a bumpy travel for all four of the kids.  Eventually they found a strong partner.  One they could share life with, not dominate.  And the grand kids.  Like I’ve said all along, “If I’d know how much fun they are, I’d of had them first.”  Of course we had our own bumps traveling through time.  Chris was using the Vega to drive to school.  When they were redoing Big Sandy, she had to drive on a rough, unpaved road and somehow knocked the flywheel cover off.  Rather than fix it, we sold the Vega for $300.  Which meant that Chris drove that car for the better part of a year or more, free.  Another occasion, Joyce and I had left for a short trip and before going had told Chris to leave the Toyota parked.  When we returned Chris’s boyfriend, Shaun, was trying to saw a stump down in our back yard.  The problem was the Toyota was stuck on top of the stump.  With some finessing and going through accouple of chain saws, we got the car back on the ground.  Since I had an eighty mile round trip to Liberty Lake and work, I decided I needed a more reliable car.  We went shopping and I found a Chevy Luv pick up.  While shopping we decided to make it a double deal and found a nice Plymouth Duster for Chris.  It was a pretty sporty little car.  I had made a deal with Chris, that if she could go till she was thirty six, same age as I when I got my first ticket, I would take her anywhere she wanted to go for dinner.  The Duster had some pretty good pipes and really rumbled with you put your foot down.  She di one day, just as a sheriff was going in the other direction.  I won, and I was smart enough not to offer the others the same deal.  Joyce got a call one morning from the Sheriff’s Office, wanting to know if we owned a certain Ford Pinto.  They had come across it in a ditch on the way to Mead High School.  The Pinto was Tim’s first car, and on his way to school after a snow fall the night before, they slid in to a ditch.  By the time we got to the area, Tim and some friends had gotten it out of the ditch and on to school.  Later he got a Toyota Celica that he used while at WSU.  We got a call late one night, he was broke down at a rest stop near Moses Lake.  We ended up towing the Celica back to Spokane.  We use to keep the keys to the cars on a board by the back door.  Joyce and I were gone one day and had left the Van Home.  Kelly decided to take it for a drive.  As she was driving around Suncrest, she saw Mike.  She ducked down, but Mike saw her.  I guess he got a lot of mileage out of it for a long time.  After she got her drivers license, she browed the Luv one Saturday night.  Monday as I was going to work I was having a really hard time, the clutch was slipping pretty bad.  On the way home I had to finally pull off at the Seven Eleven at Seven Mile and call home.  Luckily Mom and Dad were visiting and he came, adjusted the clutch and I got home.  When I asked Kelly if she had hot rodding with it on Saturday.  She told me, “Not very much.”  Chris graduated from high school and moved to California with Shaun.  Tim graduated and started college at WSU.  Kelly ran away and we sign a letter of Emancipation for her.  More as a scare tactic than anything.  The attorney explained it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, that until she turn eighteen we were still responsible.  We sold the house on Greenfield only to have to repossess it when they couldn’t complete the deal.  The House we rented on Rowan turned out to be unlucky.  Mike had so many tickets and had wrecked a Buick we had then that the insurance company made us take him off our insurance.  Joyce and I got a legal separation and she and Mike moved out and found an apartment together.

I was still with HP at the time, and found an apartment out in the Valley that had a garage.  I emptied the house on Rowan and stored everything in the garage.  Being on swing I was able to get a day time job as maintenance man for the apartment I lived in and two others they owned, as well as a medical building.  This was when I quit HP.  Because it was hard finding another job I looked into the possibility of starting my own.  It was going to be a Manufacturing  business.  I had talked to Eastern Washington State Hospital out in Medical Lake.  I was going to be utilizing their patients, so they were going to lease me an empty building on the grounds.  It feel through, I couldn’t come up with the financing.  I answered an ad and found work as a car salesman at McCullum Ford.  Then decided to move back to Sequim, staying with Mom and Dad till I could find my own place.  I found a job working as a car salesman in Port Townsend and later for the Toyota dealer in Port Angeles.  I came to realize, I was not a car salesman.  During that time Joyce and I were meeting for weekends in places like Leavenworth.  We were leaning toward getting back together again.  First I drove down to Ventura California, where Chris was living, and tried leaving some resumes there.  Having no luck there, I returned to Spokane, where Joyce and I got back together.

Full Circle

After graduating from DeVry, I packed up the Toyota and headed to Point Arguello.  As I crossed Vandenberg I was thinking about having spent my first four years of military service in the Air Force and now, here I was,  almost attached too an Air Force Base for my last four years.  Coast Guard Loran Station was not a part of Vandenberg Air Force Base even though some thought it was.  I checked in and would be living in one of the duplexes for a while.  The family was still in Glendale.  Until the kids finished school and we could make arrangements about the house, we were considering moving back after I retired.  In the mean time Joyce and I would commute back and forth periodically.  Every month the District Office held a Commanders meeting, where all the Officers in Charge of stations and boats, would meet and discuss what was happening in the District.  At my first meeting, I was introducing myself to some of the officers and a Lieutenant, aid to one of the Captains in the office, thought he had heard my name before.  Then dawned on him, the Captain he worked for had been the one that had not wanted to give me the loan for a house.  The Lieutenant remembered he had heard my name in what he call vain, not in a good way.  We had a laugh about it.  After these meetings, I usually drove over to Arizona for the weekend.  A couple of times Joyce and the kids came over to Point Arguello in the motorhome.  Later, I picked up a used Plymouth station wagon, much easier to drive around.  Joyce was working in the business office for the Arizona Highway Patrol and had one of their “Bear” t-shirts.  When driving across, she wore the t-shirt and made it across the state in record time.  One time after doing some work on the Toyota, I was driving through Lompoc, like at 5:30 in the morning.  I saw this police car setting in a parking lot so I held it at thirty five MPH, the speed posted the last time I had seen a speed sign.  As I went by he pulled out and stopped me for doing 35 in a 25 zone.  It was my first ticket.  I went down for the Commanders call where we discussing complaints from people being boarded by armed Coasties.  I made the suggestion that we should advertise that the Coast Guard was an armed service.  The Admiral at the meeting said, “Come on Sparks, that won’t work”, he was thinking it was a bad idea.  Before I left I told the District Office that if they wanted me at the meeting for a specific reason, call me, otherwise this was the last I would be coming to.  When I left, I headed to Arizona.  Around Riverside California, I had been cruising with the trucks and hadn’t notice they had back off somewhat.  All of a sudden a California Highway Patrol was behind me with lights flashing.  I pulled off and got out of the car shaking my head.  I was still in uniform and he asked me what was wrong.  I told him I hadn’t had a ticket in twenty years and this was my second stop today.  He asked to see the ticket, looked at it, and said, “Hell, I would fight this.”  He gave me a warning, because of my bad day, and I drove on to Glendale.  When I went to court they told me to go to  the California driving class and if I passed the ticket would be removed from my record.  I later gave Chris the chance of going anywhere she wanted for dinner if she could go twenty years with out a ticket.  I won.  Through an inter service agreement with the Air Force, married couples could get housing on the base.  Being senior enlisted they were opening housing in one of the Officers Housing areas.  We got a field officers house on a corner on Cataldo.  There were still Air Force Officers living around us and they got the option of staying or moving to Officers housing else where on base.  They stayed where they were at.  At first we rented out the house in Glendale but sold it about a year later.  The people had had a baby and didn’t realize when they went in the house, the baby had fallen in the swimming pool and drowned.  We just couldn’t see our selves moving back.

Like I mentioned before, some in the Air Force thought that my station was part of Vandenberg.  One day a semi truck and trailer along with a caravan of cars came driving on to the station.  I stopped them and they told me that the Vandenberg Public Relations Office had given them permission to use Point Arguello.  I explained that they couldn’t give permission, that this was a Coast Guard Station separate from Vandenberg.  Talking to them a little more, it turned out that they were with Ford Motor Company and that they wanted to use the Lighthouse for pictures of their new Ford Escort.  The Escort was going to be introduced the next year.  They had three or four proto types here.  I went ahead and let them.  They would unload the proto types, which were on VW frames, take pictures.  Load them up, drive them to Los Angeles, where they would be given a new paint job and brought back.  The film crew was there for about a week.  One day, when they were filming, whales were breeching just off the point.  The professional film crew got so excited, not one of them had thought to take pictures.  I later made sure the Air Force was aware that they had no control or say about my station.  The 1air Police tried once, coming on to the station wanting to see one of the guys who had illegally parked his car on the Air Force Base.  One, I called Wyatt Earp, tried ordering me around with his hand on his gun.  I told him the get his Sargent of The Guard down there.  When the Sargent got to the station, I point to the Air Policeman and told him I want that man off my station and he was never to set foot on it again.  I cleared up the problem of the parked car and they left.  One time Joe Deviend and his wife, Beverly, Joyce and I were driving across Vandenberg.  I got stopped by the Air Police, they said I had made a California Stop.  We all agreed I hadn’t.  But the next day Joe and I were on Base, picking up the mail.  There is or was a law on the books,  that when a horseless carriage came to an intersection, the passenger was to get out and direct traffic.  We came to an intersection, there was an Air Policeman setting near, Joe got out, went to the middle of the intersection and directed me through.  Then got back in the pickup.  The looks we got were priceless.

About two miles south of Point Arguello was the old, abandoned, Point Arguello Lifeboat Station.  Although we had nothing to do with the station, it was an interesting place to visit.  The barracks and office were still there as well as the boathouse docks and breakwater.  Vandenberg did have plans to bring recovered rockets back through the old station.  We did have the responsibility of maintaining Point Conception Lighthouse.  Most of the buildings that had been associated with the station had been torn down.  Remaining were the Lighthouse, with a First Order Frenzel Lens, one hundred and eighty two steps down from the top of the cliff.  One of the crews quarters that the games keeper for Jalama Ranch lived in.  Most of the old garage and an abandoned, concrete house on a bluff east of the light.  We cleaned up the concrete house, boarded up the access to the upstairs portion and used the house as a getaway.  In fact, Joyce and I spent a couple of nights there.  Two other couples had spent a weekend there and swore there was a ghost in the house.  The guys were over at the game keepers house watching TV and the wives decided to try to get up stairs.  As they were trying to pull the plywood down, someone told them they shouldn’t be doing that.  they kept on trying and someone yelled, “Don’t do That”.  They found their husbands and asked why they had yelled and the husbands denied it.  Later, when one of the wives was climbing into her sleeping bag, she thanked her husband for getting it warm, he told her he hadn’t touched it.  And a radio they had on a window sill, started playing.  Nothing like that happened with Joyce and I.  Later a movie company came to Point Conception to make part of the movie, “A Brave New World.”  I had an Indian Blanket that had been in the movie, until it wore out.  We may still have a couple of rags from the blanket.

One thing I did while at Point Arguello was act as a public relations person.  When the guys were on base, even in uniform they were asked for ID at the Commissary and Exchange.  Normally, in uniform, you weren’t asked.  I ordered a bunch of hats with, “USCG PT ARGULLO” on them.  I placed magnetic signs on our vehicles with U.S. Coast Guard Loran Station Point Arguello.  I even tried coveralls with Pt Arguello batches.  The District Office didn’t approve of them.  A lot of the local fishermen, military and civilians from Lompoc knew about the station, but that had been it.  We got invited to a Mason’s dinner one time to give a talk about Point Arguello to the wives while the men had their meeting.  It turned into a question and answer talk.  One of the ladies there had been the Post Master, she emphasized Master not Mistress, of the Post Office at Arlight.  It had been a little community that had grown up around Point Arguello.  I still has a zip code on file.  While we were there Joyce and I went on a Marriage Encounter with a group from Vandenberg and Lompoc.  That got us pretty involved in both of the communities.  We also got very involved with the Catholic Community in the base Chapel, where I was baptized and became Catholic during Easter services.  The party after, they had a big sign with a guy holding a baby over his head like Kunta Kinty.  Between Marriage Encounter and the church community, we like to play jokes on one another.  Joyce and I were down town visiting one time when the kids called.  The Air Police were at our house, someone had Tee Peed the trees in our front yard.  Talking to the Air Policeman he mentioned a lot of that going on around base.  In fact his First Sargent had had it done to his house the week before.  I told him that I knew about it, we had been the one’s to do it and most likely it was his boss that did ours.  Guess they left, shaking their heads.   We had traded in the motorhome and Joyce’s station wagon for a Plymouth Volare, thinking we would reduce our monthly gas bill.  It didn’t work out that way, it was small and very crowded with the whole family. So Joyce and I took the Volare down to Oxnard and found a  large Chevrolet Van.  We were at a fair one time and as we were leaving we noticed a bunch of our friends decorating a Van that looked just like ours.  We honked and waved as we pulled out of the parking lot.  Chris got her drivers license and we found a Vega station wagon for $500.  One day she called the station from Lompoc, she had been the middle car in a rear end fender bender.  When I and my exec got there she was standing around with friends she had in the car with her.  Insured that she and all her friends were ok.  After the police investigated the accident, I made Chris drive everyone home, I sat in the passenger seat.  If I remember right we got $500 from the insurance company for damages and we never got the car repaired.  To me those four years were fun years.

We got word that the Coast Guard was going to decommission Point Arguello and make it an unmanned light.  Figured it was a good time to go ahead and retire.  I still had a year left for having accepted Senior Chief, but when I had called the detailer at Headquarters, he was going to send me to Long Beach, where there was already a Chief.  I had talked to the Captain in charge of overseeing the building of the new 270 foot ships in Seattle and they could use me there but the detailer said no.  I finally offered to let them take me back down to Chief, to retire early.  He recommended I write and ask for a waver and I got it.  Joyce flew up to Spokane to find a house and I started arranging for packers and movers.  When she got back we were ready to leave.  We packed up the Van and hitched up the Toyota and headed to Spokane and Nine Mile Falls.  In Spokane. while we waited for our household goods to arrive, we stayed at a friend of Joe’s house.  Joe was a priest at St. Thomas Moore church in Spokane.  The church had a hilly parking lot and it had snowed.  I took Chris out in the Toyota and we drove around in the snow, climbing the hill, spinning around, everything I could think of to get her use to driving in the snow.  The one piece of advice I gave her was to feel the car through the seat of her pants.  It would tell her what to do.  She later proved it by driving home up Big Sandy, going around a bunch of other cars stuck in the snow.  When our household goods arrived,  we moved into the house on Greenfield in Nine Mile.  I flew back to Point Arguello for the Decommissioning.

I got back to Point Arguello the night before the decommissioning.  Joe Devriend, my Executive Petty Officer, and the crew had everything ready.  We were expecting quite a crowd.  The next morning the Admiral, Commander Eleventh Coast Guard District, and his staff were arriving by helicopter.  Vandenberg Air Force Base, Base Commander was attending as well as a number of friends we had made over the years.  One I was particularly happy to see attend was the former Post Master of Arlight.  The Admiral was impressed with the turn out, he had been to decommissioning of the two other Loran Stations in his District and they hadn’t had the turn out or were they as prepared as Point Arguello.  He gave a speech, covering some of the history.  I also gave a speech, also covering some of the history but also what the station had accomplished over the last four years and the closeness of the crew as well as with the Air Force Base and Lompoc.  Then the crew, as Honor Guard, lowered the American Ensign and Coast Guard Ensign that was flying that day.  They folded and brought the flags to me and I presented them to the Admiral.  He did something he hadn’t done for the other stations, he presented the American Flag to me.  We broke for a reception in what had been my quarters for a long time.  The Admiral and his staff took the guest book and the station copies of our scrapbook and departed.  One of the problems all the crew had orders to be someplace else and departed.  I have to say we left quite a mess and the Air Force didn’t appreciate it when they took over.  I packed all I wanted in the Vega and reported to the Coast Guard station in Oxnard, where I stated until my retirement in April.

My Coast Guard Career

Just a little trivia. Popeye originally was in the Coast Guard. He didn’t transfer to the Navy until 1941.

When we got to Port Angeles, we moved in with Mom and Dad, temporarily. I found a job at a local Texaco Station. Later I had a call from the Shell representative asking if I would be interested in taking over a Shell station in Forks. But turned him down. We found a cute little house on the corner of 8th and Race and moved in. Mom bought us a Chihuahua we name Pedro Poncho Gonzalez Charlie Brown Towne, Pete for short. We also found a cat, we named Gladys. I got a job at Rainer Pulp Mill and Joyce found one at a local Nursing Home close to where we lived. One problem, if we mentioned we were thinking of buying something, we usually got a call from Mom to come over and there it would be. I know she meant well and trying to help us, but it was kind of frustrating. We stopped talking about anything in front of her. I wasn’t real happy working at Rainer, I ran in to a lot of dangerous situations and there didn’t seem like it would lead to anything in the future. Port Angeles didn’t seem like home anymore. We had friends that we hung out with. One time, late in 1962, we were at a party where a Coast Guard Telephone Technician was, there had been a typhoon go through and he was there replacing telephone wires. We were taking and he was telling me about Electronics Technicians in the Coast Guard and all the extra money, pro pay, they made, plus the re-enlistment bonuses. Joyce and I talked about it for a while and I called the Recruiting office. They told me that if I was really interested to come to Tacoma and see them. We went over on February 4th, 1963. I told them I was interested in Electronic Technician. They gave me the entrance exam and got 98%, qualifying me for anything I wanted and I signed up for Electronics Technician. I would have to go to Alameda California, where they had a training company for prior service. I think they flew me out the next day.

I arrived at the Alameda California Recruit Training Base, expecting to be assigned to a Prior Service Company, but they had just discontinued it and I was assigned to a regular Recruit Company, Mike 39.  They informed me that I would be there for six of the eleven weeks of normal Boot Camp.  The Company Commander was a First Class Boatswains Mate and he informed us, after he gave me fifty push ups for rolling my eyes, that he hated two things; Air Force and Electronic Technicians.  OPPS!  I was the only one in the Company that had a rank insignia, Seaman.  I ended up getting the haircut, doing daily exercises, marching in formation, everything a new recruit does.  At the end of five weeks we received kind of a mid term where we had to do ten pull ups, fifty sit ups, fifty push ups.  The next week I was ordered to form up in the morning with the class that would be graduating at the end of the week, Mike 34.  We had fire fighting training one day at an old Army Base, where we had to learn how to work together to put out an old building on fire.  Then we had the final, where every thing doubled on the test and I passed.  By the time I had got my orders, I had lost two inches around my waste and my uniforms were loose.  I think I was in the best shape of my life.  I received a  couple weeks leave and orders to the twenty eight week Electronics School in Groton Connecticut.  First I got to fly home, meeting Joyce in Spokane and then on to Port Angeles.  It was short but we made the most out of it as we could.  It bothered me that I was leaving her for an extended period, she would be staying at my parents.  She was pregnant and it would be a while before I would be able to see my child.  Chris would be six months old before I got to formally meet her.

The Coast Guard Training Center in Groton was a beautiful base that had once belong to an old sea captain.  It was near New London and the Navy Submarine Base.  Pretty impressive seeing them leave the river and enter the ocean, just off our base.  The large, stone, mansion that house the Base Commander and his family was right across the quadrangle from our room.  I had three roommates going to the same class as I was in.  We were a pretty close group and all chipped in to buy a savings bond when Chris was born.  Electronics School was twenty eight grueling weeks, eight hours a day, learning to install,trouble shoot, tune and maintain a variety of electronic equipment.  We had a exciting break one night.  The Mansion had a Chapel connected to it and it caught fire.  The guys woke me up to see but I went back to bed.  I had a suspicion that we would be cleaning things up the next day, and we did.  We shovel trash into a dump truck and rode with it to the dump.  Where I got burn on the ear from flying embers. The only time I got burn from a fire while in the Coast Guard.  In the end I graduated as a Third Class Electronics Technician with orders to the U.S. Coast Guard Base, Group Office, at the foot of Mount Elliot, on the Detroit River, Detroit Michigan.  Having a couple weeks leave plus travel time, I flew home to Joyce and to meet my daughter.

Getting ready to drive east, decided the MG was not big enough for a growing family and to pull a trailer across the country.  We went down to the local Nash dealer and traded the MG in on a two tone Pink/Mauve Rambler station wagon.  Got a deal on a small U-Haul trailer because it was going back to Detroit.  Loaded all we had and headed East.  We arrived in Detroit late in the evening and pulled off the freeway on to Mount Elliot, turn right and headed to the Coast Guard Station at the foot of Mount Elliot.  It was really dark.  We were hungry and tired but thought it best to just go straight on to the base, we had pulled off in the black area of Detroit and it didn’t appear too friendly at the time.  The watch and the Officer of the Day suggested going back out Mount Elliot to Warren, a suburb of Detroit, where we would find restaurants and a motel to stay in.  They told us, when driving on Mount Elliot, to keep our doors locked.  We unhitched the trailer and left it at the base and headed to Warren.  The next day we started looking for a place to rent and found a trailer park with a trailer available.  Drove back to the base, got the trailer, and we moved in.  After settling in, I reported in to the base and the Group Electronic Shop.  It was our first experience of becoming a part of a base family.  I joined a car pool with a couple of the guys that lived out near where we lived.  When I wasn’t working on the base, I was traveling all over the area.  Belle Isle Station was on Belle Isle, just across the river from the base.  We covered all the stations in Group Detroit.   Joyce, Chris, and I spent our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in the trailer in Warren.  I remember, we bought a bunch of bathtub toys for Chris that first Christmas.  We wrapped them in a really shiny paper.  She played with the wrapped toys until the paper came off and she had a new toy.  On Christmas eve we were invited to the parents house of one of the guys on the station and got included in their gift exchange.  We got a wrapped box of chocolates and really was made to feel like a part of their family.  We did a lot of socializing on my off time and Chris did a lot of traveling in her car seat and sleeping on someone’s bed with pillows stacked around her.  That spring we found a house, behind the 7/11 we shopped at.  It had been a farm house.  We didn’t realize, until we moved in, that as they added a room to the house, they wired everything in series.  In other words, if a light burned out, all the lights went off.  Something like old Christmas tree lights.  Then you had to go around changing light bulbs until you found the right one.  Before we could move in, we needed furniture.  There was a local store with such a deal, three rooms of furniture for $300.00.  We bought; a bed, dresser, bedside tables, a kitchen table with four chairs, a couch (hardwood covered with material), a couple of easy chairs and two lamps (we still have the lamps around someplace).  I was up in the attic one day and found where they had wired the whole house from.  There was a splice up there about the size of a football, a big fire hazard.  I talked the owner into letting me and a electrician friend from the station rewire the house.  It may not have been totally up to code, but it was a lot safer.  That same friend was a new Pontiac Catalina Convertible, so we drove him and his wife down to the dealer for him to pick it.  While we were there the salesman brought a 1964 Pontiac Tempest 326 into the shop.  It was a pretty car, Marimba Red, two door, full bench front seat and four on the floor.  It had been a special order for a kid and he got drafted before he could take delivery.  The salesman offered to let us try it out but I said we were going to Harsens Island for dinner that evening and he said go ahead and take it.  What a car, I burned off the lot, holding the steering wheel for dear life.  It was quite a difference from our 59, straight 6, automatic Rambler.  I took it back the next day, it was having carburetor problems and they fixed it.  I was waiting for our Rambler and the salesman told us to take the Tempest for another day or two.  I took it back again and the salesman got pretty irate and I said tuff, I wanted my Rambler.  He went out and a few minutes later the head salesman came back wanting to know if I could put anything down.  I just wanted my Rambler.  He was sorry, the Rambler had been sold and was in Florida.  Being half in shock, I said I could probably do $300.  Today, I would have said, “Thank you for my new car.”  We got back at the Pontiac dealer though.  One day I was having the Tempest service and the head salesman came out wanting to know if I had had the engine changed in the Rambler.  I hadn’t.  Seems when they were checking registration in Florida, the title didn’t match.  Seems it was for a sixty Rambler.  When I had bought ours there had been a 60 on the lot and I think the Port Angeles Dealer had mixed mine up with it.  The base had put together a softball team to play in a summer league on Belle Isle.  We were good, but couldn’t always field a full team and had to forfeit a lot and end up playing anyway.  We won almost every time.  It was that summer that I started a tradition, being catcher.  We’ve had a lot of catchers in the family.

That fall, 1964, we got orders to the Coast Guard Cutter Woodbine, a buoy tender/ice breaker out of Grand Haven Michigan.  Grand Haven turned out to be friendly little town in west Michigan and is Coast Guard City USA.  We found a house, I think it was on Sherman, on top of a hill just a few blocks from where the ship tied up, Escanaba Park.  It seemed like a giant house, two bedrooms on the second floor and a living room, sitting room, dining room, eat in kitchen and bath down.  Our three rooms of furniture hardly made a dent.  We had all kinds of room for the three of us and Joyce found out she expecting our second.  The ship was like a big family.  It wasn’t uncommon on the weekends for an impromptu gathering to take place at someone’s house and end up a BBQ, potluck and baseball game at a local park.  One of the wives, Marylou (Midge) Tomborelo whose husband was a First Class Bosin mate, kind of adopted Joyce.  When it was time for Joyce to have the baby, it was Midge who took her to the hospital.  In those days the husband was not allowed in the delivery room, at least not in Grand Haven.  January 14, 1965 Timothy was born.  One time when I went to visit the nurse chased me from the room while Joyce breast fed him.

One of my duties, separate from maintaining the electronic equipment, was as oarsman on one of the lifeboats when it was launched.  We were holding a drill one day and when we came in alongside the ship, the Captain ordered us aboard using the Monkey Lines hanging from the davits, before the boat was raised.  I was never any good at climbing a rope and as I tried my muscles cramped and had to slide back down.  Captain Fugaro climbed down the lines to encourage me but I couldn’t, the muscles would not cooperate.  He climbed back aboard, the boat was raised, and I was removed from the small boat crew.  August fourth is the anniversary of the Coast Guard and Grand Haven celebrated it with a festival and parade.  After marching in the parade the ship would have an open house and have guided tours.  I was one of the crew assigned as a guide.  Joyce kept me supplied with crisp, white summer uniforms, about three a day, during the festival.  Escanaba Park, named after a the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba that had been stationed in Grand Haven before it was lost with all but two men on board in the North Atlantic during the second world war, was on one of the main streets heading to the lake.  So we had to keep the Woodbine looking good for the tourist passing by.  We covered Lake Michigan from Chicago up to Green Bay Wisconsin.  When we were in Chicago, we normally moored up at Navy Pier.  I was working on a piece of equipment one day and flipped hot solder into me eye.  They took me to the VA hospital and removed the solder but I had to wear a patch for awhile.  Back on the ship, while stand on the buoy deck, a kid walked over and wanted to know why I had a batch on my eye.  I told him that we wanted to be a pirate ship and they needed a one eye man with a patch and I lost, and they poked my eye out.  Another time, we were escorting a ship through the ice in Green Bay, when it was announced, “Stand by for Collison! This is not a Drill!”.  I was down in the hold working and I remembered we were escorting a large tanker filled with fuel.  When he hit our stern, I was standing on the mess deck holding on.  We had hit a windrow, a very thick area of ice that had stacked up, and the ship behind had lost control and couldn’t reverse.  Luckily he glanced off our stern, denting and buckling some of the frames.  He got control and we finished taking him in to port.  Will always remember Green Bay Wisconsin, home of Schlitz Brewery, and our tour there once.  After the walking tour we got to go into their tap room for free beer.  I sent a lot of post cards while I was sitting, drinking beer.  People who received them could follow how many beers I seemed to be having.  The more, the less intelligible the cards.

We got a new Captain and one night, when I had the duty, a program we were watching was interrupted with news that a United 707 had crash in Lake Michigan, close to Chicago.  After calling the Captain, we started a crew recall, expecting to get ordered to Chicago and the search.  We had enough crew on board and engines running and under way in fifteen minutes after we received the message to proceed to the area.  Early the next morning we arrived in the area of the crash but there was a thick fog so we hove to, stood bye, until the fog lifted.  We were in the middle of the  floating wreckage and the other search boats had to come to us.  For a week, we were designated On Scene Commanders of the search area, picking up debris and bodies.  Shortly after the ship received a $1500 check from United Airlines for our recreation fund.

The Woodbine was almost lost one time as we were checking our buoys.  It was lunch time, we were having liver and onions, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans.  A beautiful day with a two foot sea, hardly rocking the ship.  I had just finished lunch and was standing against the inside bulkhead drinking a cup of coffee, looking out the porthole.  When the OD got the ship in a troth.  The ship began to roll, first to starboard and then to port.  When it rolled to starboard again, I watch as the portholes went completely under the water.  Then the ship snapped back and started a roll to port again but kept going.  The farther we rolled, the benches with men sitting on them and the tables came out of their holders on deck and were flying and sliding at me.  Liver, onions, gravy, mashed potatoes and men came flying at me, around and in-between my legs.  Eventually the ship righted itself and the crew was able to get up, slipping and sliding out of the mess hall, to check the ship.  Luckily no one was injured.  We later found out that the Enginemen had started holding the engines on line manually as the roll indicator registered 49 degrees.  The ship was designed to have the bridge break away at 52 degrees.

1965 and the Coast Guard is forming Squadron One, a squadron of 82 footers, for Vietnam.  One of the ensigns on board has received his orders for training in San Diego.  Joyce and I are concerned that I could be called up but a message comes in one day from the District Office, “Request one married ET2 for two-year tour to Keflavik Iceland”.  I called Joyce and asked her if she wanted to go to Iceland.  Where’s Iceland?  She looked it up in the almanac and within 30 minutes of receiving the message our answer was returned to District and we got it.  Joyce found out she was pregnant with our third child who it seemed would be born in Iceland.  Our household goods got packed up for shipment and we loaded up the Pontiac and headed to Washington.  Joyce and the kids would be splitting their time between parents while I went to Loran School in Groton, leaving the car in New Jersey to be shipped.  It was a fun trip from Michigan to Washington.  Chris and Tim stood or sat in the back seat.  There wasn’t a law that kids had to be in car seats back then.  Tim liked to stand behind me and when he saw something he liked, I got banged on the back of the head and he would yell, “Tee, Tee, Tee!” as loud as he could.  One day we pulled off the freeway in North Dakota, looking for a place to eat.  It was a small farm town and as we found a little café.  I parked across the street and we went in.  The kids wanted chocolate milk.  We put our order in and the waitress came back to the table wondering how to make chocolate milk.  I asked her if she had chocolate she made milkshakes with, just mix that in with milk.  She really thought it was a good idea.  As we were eating I looked out the window.  Where I had parked there were no other cars on the block but a car pulled in front of the Pontiac drove up to the end of the block and backed into our car.  I went out and luckily there was no damage.  Later, as we were coming down off 4th of July Pass into Idaho, Joyce started having pains.  We came down off the pass pretty fast.  By the time we reached Coeur d’ Alene the pains had stopped so we went on into Spokane.  After getting everyone settled, I headed East.

The drive across the United States by yourself is not fun and I did it in three days.  Got stopped in Iowa for failure, or confusion, about dimming lights for on-coming cars.  Showed them my military ID, orders to Iceland, my Michigan registration and my Washington drivers license.  The  policemen suggested I stop and rest at the next rest stop and they wouldn’t arrest me.  I did.  My next stop was in Hersey Pennselvania, at my Uncle Gene’s.  He wasn’t there but his Ward was and I got to sleep on a bed.  Then on to Groton for six weeks of Loran C Receiver School.  One thing about having a car at Groton this time, I was able to do some sightseeing on weekends; Mystic Seaport, Cape Cod and some of the surrounding area.  While I was at school, I found out that Joyce and the kids would not be joining me in New York to fly to Iceland.  It seems the Coast Guard was closing their Office in Copenhagen and transferring the crew there to Iceland.  A Lieutenant JG’s wife was expecting so they were getting the apartment reserved for us.  When school was over, I drove to New York at the Coast Guard Station Stanton Island.  I took the car to Bayonne New Jersey to be ship to Iceland.  I flew Pan Am to Keflavik Iceland and had to live in the barracks for a few month.  I finally got word that our car had arrived in Reykjavik but had been damaged, when off loading they had dragged straps over the top scratching it.  After it was repair I went to Reykjavik to pick it up.  Between there and Keflavik was thirty miles of paved road.  I opened it up to blow out the carbon.  I eventually put some hot plugs in because the only gas sold off base was 82 octane.  One of the guys I was stationed with was friends with a rock band, The Icelandic Beetles.  When we were visiting them in town one time, one of the band really wanted to buy my 326 and offered me $8000, which I couldn’t take because of Icelandic Import Laws.  My family was to be arriving soon, I had found an apartment in downtown Keflavik and wanted to have some supplies.  I had gone to the commissary, planning to take them off with the family.  At the station, I was asked to pick up someone at the Reykjavik airport.  Forgetting I had the groceries in the back seat of the car.  As I was passing through the gate, the Icelandic guard stopped me and confiscated the groceries and gave me a ticket.  Luckily he didn’t find the bottle of booze I had stashed.  I stopped at the apartment, 30 Suddergata if memory serves me, and called Lieutent Harrison, our Commanding Officer, and told him what had happened.  When I got back to the base, he had it all settled.  I would pay a ten Kroner ($10) fine and loss of the groceries.

It was five months before I got to meet my daughter, Kelly.  They arrived Thanksgiving 1966.  After picking them up we went to the apartment and everyone got some rest, we were invited back to base to have Thanksgiving dinner.  We were there a few days, when there was a knock on the door.  When I answered there was a little girl, about Chris’s age, standing there.  She looked up at me and said very slowly, “Will – You – Play – With – Me”.  “Chris!!”  Before long she was just one of the kids on the block, speaking Icelandic.  The Icelandic people were very friendly, if you showed a genuine interest in their country.  They were not friendly if you played the roll of “The Ugly American”.  One day Joyce went to a bakery we used and when she walked in and the girl behind the counter was making a very obnoxious woman really work for her order.  The girl just couldn’t understand the woman.  She finally got frustrated, purchased something and left.  The girl turn to Joyce, greeted her with a pleasant, “How are you today?”  They learn a number of languages in school because they deal with a number of countries.  Almost all they get has to be shipped in.  Iceland is where my Mom and Dad told me that they had their name legally change to Towne.  Guess they had added the “e” sometime without making it legal and they figured it would be less confusing in the future in case anything came up.  Mine was already with an “e” on my birth certificate.

We lived off base for about six months, while they were building officer’s housing.  About the time we were to move on base, we found out that Chris had a medical problem that required she be flown to Germany.  They scheduled her and Joyce to fly out on one of the weekly MAC flights.  And it was arranged that I and the other kids would escort them.  When I went to check in I heard one of the Navy guys at check in telling someone on the phone that he could bump three people off the flight and get them on.  We were the three.  When I checked in he informed me of the bump and said if I didn’t like it to take it to the base commander.  I contacted my commanding Officer, who went to the Navy Base Commander.  We were put back on the flight.  When flying on a military plane back then the seats faced the back of the plane.  As we were landing in Germany I mentioned to Joyce that there seemed to be something wrong.  Three weeks later we were on the same plane to fly back to Iceland and I asked one of the crew.  It seems we had had an engine of fire when we were landing.  While we were gone the station crew moved our stuff from downtown.   Finally we got to move into our apartment on base.  And when you move into a new house, you have to have a house warming party.  I was just getting over the mumps when we had ours.  So Joyce went to the base liquor store for supplies.  When she went to pay, she had over our monthly allotment of six hundred ounces, they had to call our Commanding Officer.  He surprised them by sending someone over to help Joyce load the car.  It was a good party.  All the parties were good and fun during our stay.

One day our Warrant Officer, another ET and I were sent to Reykjavik to trouble shoot a Loran Receiver on a French Navel Ship.  As I was driving toward the main gate I saw a guy approaching an intersection just ahead of us.  At the time Iceland was right hand drive.  He was going pretty fast and for some reason I suspected he was not going to stop and to turn into our lane.  He did.  I swerved the International Carryall I was driving to the right.  Looking down I saw his VW heading toward our back wheel.  I cranked the wheel left, and down shifted.  The truck went up on its right front wheel and the VW passed below us.  I cranked the wheel right and landed on all for wheels, in my lane and facing the same way I had been going.  I stopped and the Warrant Officer went over to the Navy Petty officer and told him to report to his commanding officer, that he would be making a report of the incident.  We then proceeded on into Reykjavik.  On the French ship we began to check for problems.  We knew their receiver was ok, we had had it at the station for a few days.  It took us about an hour to find they had a bad cable, fix it and depart.  As we were leaving we passed our Commanding Officer and his wife heading to the ship for lunch and gave him a thumps up.  Later my Warrant Officer called me to his officer and asked how I missed that accident that morning.  I told him that I had an out of body experience, standing on the corner watching it happen, and I told him the maneuvers I had taken.  He didn’t say much about the out of body but figured the maneuvers.

We spent two and a half years in Iceland.  It was a great experience and I would gladly return.  But it was time to leave.  I had been promoted to First Class and reenlisted, getting a really great bonus, to be payed annually for the next four years.  We landed back in Seattle and with our bonus in hand Pop, Joyce and I went car shopping and found another family car, a used Mercury station wagon.  Loading everyone in the car we headed to Port Angeles and my new station, the Group Electronics Shop, on the Coast Guard Air Station.  We found a house, close to Lincoln school.  It was the school I had gone to the fourth grade at.  With what was left of that years bonus we bought some new furniture, the three rooms we had bought in Detroit just wouldn’t due now.  We even bought a used boat that need some minor repair.  For me  being at the Port Angeles Air Station was one of the best family times we had while I was in the Coast Guard.  There were no extended travel times so I was home pretty much every night.  Along with the boat, we bought camping equipment.  It wasn’t uncommon for us to load everything in the boat and tow it to some park and spend the weekend boating and camping.  There were a couple of stations I service, especially Port Townsend, where I could take the whole family and stay in one of their empty family units.  For a work car, I got my 49 Hudson back.  Getting a bug in my bonnet one day, I made it into a pick up, cutting the top off from behind the front seat, back.  Guess it was kind of a Towne thing.  Pop and I cut twenty two inches out of the body and frame of a 42 Hudson he had.

We bought our first house in Port Angeles, 423 South Cedar.  It was a little bungalow style built around 1920 for someone’s Mother-in-Law.  The man that had owned it before was an elderly widower that didn’t really take care of it, repair or clean.  Before we move in we had to clean, at least, a quarter inch of grease from the inside of the kitchen cabinets.  But after we were done, it was a house that everyone like to come and visit and party.  It had a huge fireplace in the living room.  One big enough that I could put the whole Christmas tree in to.  Our next door neighbor came running over after I had set the tree on fire, we had a ten foot flame shoot out the chimney.  One of my fondest memories there was when we  would go to Dairy Queen for ice cream cones.  Chris, Tim and Kelly would play a game on the way home.  Who could make their ice cream cone last the longest.  I made a rule, that if there was ice cream when we got home, I got to eat it.  I did it one time, from then on as we pulled up to the house, the last bite went into their mouth.  It was great fun. Shortly after moving in, I was transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Winona that was home ported at the Air Station.  Joyce became kind of a house mother when the ship was out.  A lot of the younger wives would bring their sleepy bags over and camp out in our living room while the ship was out.

I made Chief while on the Winona.  It is a big thing, with an initiation and party.  It so happened that I was the only one that made Chief between the Air Station and the Ship this particular time.  It was quite a blow out and since I had to drink when ordered by other Chiefs, I got pretty smashed.  It was great fun pouring beer over my head, if I didn’t answer a question right.  The bad part was, no one saw me leave the party to go home.  I remember, I had to stop every now and then driving down the spit and allow me to focus the road back to one lane.  I made it through the Pulp Mill and up the hill to home.  When I got there, I smelled so bad, Joyce made me take my uniform off outside the back porch before letting me in.

One day another Chief Electronics Technician showed up to the ship.  He had been stationed in Rhodes Greece and while his wife was home in the states had been killed in a auto accident.  I was thinking that I might be taking his place in Rhodes, a station I had requested a number of times.  But my orders came in and they were for Loran Station Cape Christian on Baffin Island, Northwest Territory, Canada.  Joyce found out she was pregnant.  And here I was leaving, again, for a year.  It put quite a strain on our marriage.  November of 1971, I reported to the First District Office in Boston.  They were concerned about what they were hearing concerning the officer commanding the station that they made arrangement to send me up quick.  Also, the aids to navigation Captain wanted to know what other problems faced the station.  They usually sent personnel up through Winnipeg Canada to pick up artic gear.  Instead, I flew out of Boston in a snow storm, without artic gear.  I had forgot my overcoat in Seattle and all I had was my winter uniform and a rain coat.  As we were making our approach into Montreal, I was looking out the left window and could see the glow of the runway lights way off to the left.  About that time, the piolet applied power and we raised back into the air.  The piolet came on the intercom and announced that ground control approach was going to have to realign.  So we circle a few minutes and then landed.  I checked in with the airline, Nordair, that would be flying to the city Frobisher on Baffin Island.  I had excess luggage and had to pay, then find a hotel, due to the snow storm.  Next day we landed in Frobisher but weather was too bad to go on.  So I stayed in a hotel in Frobisher.  The next day, weather was still bad and I was pretty low on funds so I put on long under ware.  And I had a fur hat I had picked up when we were in Iceland and transferred my hat emblem from my Coast Guard hat to it.  Then stayed at the terminal to wait.  Periodically the Royal Canadian Mounty would stop in and check me out and finally inquired as to why was there.  Next day we were delayed again, I was going to try and use my gas card to get cash, ATM’s weren’t around yet.  But Nordair put me up in there facility until weather broke and we flew out.  We puddle jumped up Baffin Island in a Twin Otter, that was not sealed very well and not the warmest plane, and first landed at Clyde, a little town near Cape Christian.  There was a Mounty there from Cape Christian, he saw me and asked if that was all I was wearing.  I assured him that they were flying me directly to the station.  It was going to be an interesting year.  I checked in with the CO and was up front with him about the concern at the District Office.  Then I did make a few changes that weren’t popular.  But, I could cook and since they didn’t have a cook there at the time I filled in part time.  Cape Christian turned out to be an interesting year.  One of the first things we tried to order were a couple of snowmobiles.  District turned us down because they thought we would go out and get lost in the tundra.  Almost everyone on the station learned to run our D6 Caterpillars, you needed something so you could get away by yourself, and with the D6 you could slam into and level snow drifts on the landing strip.  We had one man scare us by threatening to commit suicide with our station shot gun.  I think he was faking but you can’t take a chance.  Another cut off the fingers of his right hand on the station table saw when he was trying to make his going home box.  Both took some arranging but we got them flown back to Boston.  We would get in new movies every time a resupply plane came in, as well as fresh eggs and bread and other commissary supplies.  We basically ran an open house for visitors, Canadian and Eskimo from Clyde.  The Eskimos always stocked up drinking our cool aid so if they had a carburetor freeze up on the way home, they could defrost it by peeing on it.  The Canadians, we shared some fresh eggs and bread.  We got a lot almost every week and their supply came in about once a year.  The station had a beer supply and honor refrigerator where purchased beer on our off times.  The Canadians weren’t allow to buy beer directly.  they could buy some through one of the guys on the station but couldn’t leave the station with it.  We had a lot of parties with and without guests from Clyde.  There was an annual Christmas Party for the Eskimo families and kids.  The District would send up a lot of toys for Santa to give away and we would make a ton of sandwiches, have potato chips and pop.  The Eskimo brought large boxes and when they took their coats off would put them in their box.  Smart idea but when the food was put out, the coats came out of the boxes and food went in to take home for later.  In the spring we were able to get outside more.  On my birthday, July 26, I had left the window open in my room and the next morning had about a half an on the floor when I woke up.  On 9 January, I telegraph message was forwarded to me through the District Office, “Jan 8, received via Western Union. Quote, Arrived 730, Mom fine Love Mike, Unquote.”  I looked at it and asked, “Who the hell is Mike?”  The guys standing in the radio room laughed and told me it was my son.

As the year was coming to an end, I found out we were going to be station at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington DC.  I wrote Joyce to tell her and told her I thought she should buy a new car.  One with air conditioning because of the humidity there.  I placed the letter in the mail bag for the next plane out.  When I got my mail from that plane, there was a letter from Joyce telling me about the new car she had just bought, a new 1972 Mercury Colony Park station wagon.  It had all the bells and whistles, we would be driving to DC in style.  In October 1972, I flew out of Clyde.  As I was walking through the terminal in Montreal I noticed beautiful lady seating there.  As I got closer, I realized it was my wife, Joyce.  We got to spend a couple of days in Montreal and then flew to Boston.  I checked in at the District Office and made my report to the head of Aids to Navigation as he wanted, blaming a lot of the problems on the District Office.  Joyce and I spent a couple of days in Boston then flew to Washington DC to look for a house.  I did a quick stop by the Loran Office I would be working at to get some ideas of where we should look.  The next day we saw a real estate agent in Woodbridge Virginia and she started showing us some houses.  For October it was un-seasonally warm and really hot to me, coming from the Artic.  She refused to turn on her air conditioner because it was October.  We found a house to rent and made arrangement with a friend, Marylou Dills, who’s husband I had been stationed with on the Winona, to supervise the unloading of our household goods when they arrived.  Having sixty, plus, days leave we flew home to Washington.

We landed in Seattle where I was finally able to meet Mike, face to face, after nine months.  We picked up the other kids and headed to Port Angeles.  It was kind of a whirlwind period.  It takes time to integrate back into a family, when you’ve been away a year.  Then there was the house to sell, packers to arrange and moving trucks to get loaded.  When December arrived we were ready and headed over to Seattle to say good bye to mine and Joyce’s folks.  At Joyce’s Mom and Dad’s, Mike came down with pneumonia.  We spent a few days there, until the Doctor said it was ok for Mike to travel and we were on our way.  We arrived on Christmas Eve.  The house had boxes everywhere and that is pretty mush where they stayed.   We found a Chinese restaurant and had dinner.  Went back to the house, found some of the Christmas decorations and some of the presents and had our first Christmas in Woodbridge.  next day we joined Marylou and her family for Christmas Dinner and then went home and started the process of settling in to our new home.  As a family, we visited a lot of the tourist sights in and around Washington DC.  We didn’t get to a lot of places because the  of the expense to live in the DC area.  The Smithsonian was one our favorites.  When we had visitors we usually always hit the museum of flight and then some we hadn’t seen before.  I remember one time, when it was raining, there was a river running down the street by our house.  The kids went out and water sledded down the gutter.

After the New Year, I signed in to Headquarters and started working.  When I had visited in October, I had a beard.  I had actually grown it shortly after I made Chief.  The Commanding Officer of my office was expecting me to come back clean shaven.  I didn’t.  The Navy Times just run a cartoon of a Captain and his Bos’n on the deck of a sailing ship.  The Bos’n was holding the arm of a sailor with half his beard shaved off.  The caption read, “Good job Bos’n, if you let one do it, they all will.”  I posted it on our information board and no one ever mentioned my beard again.  I was called up to the Captain of Aids to Navigation Office about my recommendation for new communication equipment for Cape Christian.  they were hesident to spend money for new equipment because the station would be closing soon.  I pointed out the accidents that required emergency communication.  They approved and sent new equipment.  I had an opportunity to talk to the Commanding Officer that was in charge when I left.  He told me, he didn’t know what I had said to the District Office in Boston, but they were getting planes in almost every day for a couple of weeks with supplies that had been on order for years.  Because parking was a premium in DC we were required to car pool.  I joined one that was made up of three officers, who enjoyed leaving early to have a late lunch and cocktails at the Officers Club.  We always ran late heading home, an interesting drive.  Luckily, we never had an accident.  It was the fifth year after the founding of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association and the National Headquarters was in DC.  I became the National Special Projects Officer.  One of my jobs became looking for office space we could rent, which I found.  While waiting to move in, I drew and painted a three foot copy of the CPOA patch that would hang there.   I also participated in the fifth Annual CPOA conference.  The Washington DC Chapter held a lunch for some of the Admirals.  I and another Chief escorted a couple to the lunch in our Mercury.  Listening to them in the back seat, I almost laughed, they were discussing how it was a Chief could afford a car like that.

I was encouraged to test for a two year advanced training school.  I passed and chose DeVry Institute in Phoenix Arizona.  So, May of 1974 we packed up everything and was ready to head West.  Because we didn’t know what we were going to be running into or how long it would take to find a house, we flew Chris, Tim and Kelly out to Washington State and my folks house.  Joyce, Mike and I headed West, towing the Vega I had bought while in the car pool.  We  actually headed Southwest, stopping in New Orleans at a couple’s house we had been stationed with on the Winona and spending a night.  I think it was somewhere in Texas, I was getting pretty low on fuel and it was find a station or motel.  I pulled in to a little town late at night and happened to see a policeman.  I stopped and asked him if there was a gas station and if not a motel.  He sent me to a station that was closed but said to knock on the door and tell them he had sent us.  We did and we got our tank filled.  I doubt you could do that mush today.  When we got to Phoenix we decided to stay at a KOA camp ground and live out of the back of our station wagon.  Our household goods were scheduled to arrive any day and we figured we would be able to get our camping gear.  I had checked with the District Office in Long Beach to see if they had housing available because they had been arranging housing for the incoming students.  They didn’t have another house available, so we started looking for one to rent.  There weren’t a lot of houses that would facilitate our family for rent so we decided to buy.  When we found one, I needed some help with down payment and I went to Coast Guard Assistance.  In the mean time mom and Dad arrived with the kids in their motorhome.  It was 115 degrees during the day and I wanted to get into our home.  There was a Captain in the District office that needed to approve loans and he didn’t want to.  I called him one day and wanted to know why.  He thought we would be taking to much on.  I explained that we would actually be paying less buying than renting.  He persisted and said his officer in charge of arranging housing said there was housing available.  I told him he was being told what he wanted to hear, I had already checked.  But if, in fact, housing was available, I wanted a house by that afternoon.  It’s 115 degrees and I had four kids, living out of a tent and the back of a station wagon.  Mom was standing close to me and couldn’t believe I was talking to a Captain like that.  We got the loan to purchase the house.  Now we had to wait for closing.  After our second week in the camp ground, Mom and Dad thought it was too hot and left.  We packed up our gear and moved out to one of the local rivers and camped for a week, swimming and tubing a lot.  One more week to go before we could close, we packed up everything.  Located a Motel, checked in, got our room, and turned on the air conditioner and TV and vegged out for a week till we moved in to our home.

DeVry was going to be my station for two years.  When people found out I was in the Coast Guard and stationed in Phoenix, they always asked, “What’s the Coast Guard doing in Phoenix?”  My reply, “Well, the Coast Guards motto is Semper Paratus, Always Ready.  With California expected to fall off, we are going up and down the new proposed coast line, building new stations.”  Sometimes I would clarify that I was going to school and sometimes I would just walk away.  School was five days a week, eight to four, so had a lot of time to be with the family.  We traded in the Mercury and Vega for a nineteen foot Travel Queen Motorhome and a Toyota Corolla.  I drove the Toyota to school, which left Joyce driving the motorhome to work at the Highway Patrol business office.  Weekends were spent camping, fishing, swimming and touring all around Arizona.  Even up to Flagstaff in the winter to do some sledding.  I think one of our favorite trips was down in to the Grand Canyon.  Of course we picked the hardest trail to go down.  We all had backpacks and water canteens, even Mike with his pack carrying our lunch and some of his toys.  One of the canteens got knocked over the side and I was getting blisters on my feet.  I had to hold back because Mike was having a hard time.  Close to the bottom Chris and Mike took off and beat us down, and I limped in the rest of the way.  We spent the first night in the bottom of the Canyon and next day headed to Indian Gardens, about half way up.  On the way we were running out of water so I went ahead and found water and refilled the canteen.  I was pretty pooped and asked one of the day hikers going down if they could take the canteen to my wife and kids and they did.  We met up at Indian Gardens and set up camp.  It was a beautiful spot.  At night the cactus on top looked like giants with the moon shining behind them.  The next day we lay on our sleeping bags and watched it rain on top, evaporating before it got  to us.  The next afternoon, we were sitting at our picnic table and this guy came over and sat down.  We didn’t say much, thinking it was a friend of the people next to us.  Turned out, he was from New Zealand and that was how he met people, by just being obnoxious.  He had an orange that he peeled and asked the kids if they would like some biscuits.  We explained they were cookies and they took some.  The next day we headed up.  Chris, Tim and Mike took off.  Joyce, Kelly and I took our time.  The other kids had gotten to the top and met some people, we had met in Indian Gardens, and they stored their packs and bought them some drinks.  As we were coming to the top, the kids placed a drink on the trail and encouraged Kelly to keep coming, “Come on Kelly”, and out of the crowd standing about we heard. “Kelly, a grand name, may you be blessed with many children.”  What can I say.  We went to our room at the hotel where every one took showers and cleaned up before we went out for dinner.  At dinner we all chowed down; salad, steak, baked potato with all the trimmings, and apple pie alamode.  That evening, we all got sick.  You should never eat a lot of rich food after having been on a bland diet for a few days.  It was a great trip.  Heat was a big problem.  It was so hot during the summer, we usually had our air conditioner set at 80-85 degrees.  One week Joe, Joyce’s brother, and a friend of his, Mick, came to visit.  It was funny watching these two big guys, over six feet tall, come unwinding out of a VW Super Beetle. We didn’t have our pool yet but the neighbor next door told us we could use theirs.  Mick was sitting in the pool one day, with a glass of wine, saying, “I can’t believe, they have their air conditioner set at 80 degrees.” over and over.

Before graduation, I found out we would be getting orders to Coast Guard Loran Station Point Arguello, California as Officer-in-Charge.  So one week we packed up the motorhome and drove over to check out the station.  To get to the station, you have to drive through south Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Port Arguello was a very picturesque station, setting on a bluff looking out over the Pacific.  It had an unmanned light house on a hill, above a where the fog horn was on the point.  There were two duplexes, a garage and the Loran building.  My first feelings were I would be taking on a lot of trouble.  You could almost cut the tension with a knife.  We didn’t stay long.  Instead we headed for Disney Land and parked in their camp ground.  We got some really good tickets, one of Joyce’s cousins, Monica, worked there.  After spending all day in the park, we decided to go out for dinner.  We were walking to the restaurant and Mike, three or four at the time, could hardly walk, he was tired and hungry and just plain in a bad mood.  On the way back to the camp grounds, with his mouse ears on, he kept singing, “M-I-C-K-E-Y,  Mickey Mouse” over and over, all the way back.

Into the Air Junior Birdman

When I got to Seattle I was met by an Air Force recruiter and taken to the Air Force facility where they did our physicals. If we passed we were given the Oath to Protect the Constitution. Then as a group, loaded on a bus and taken to SeaTac to fly to San Antonio Texas. It was my first plane ride, on Braniff Airlines, “The Golden Banana”. I remember looking out the window of the plane and watching the wings flap up and down. Another bus ride and we get off on Lackland Air Force Base. There we were formed up in to Recruit Flights. All the time, a couple of guys, who would be our flight leaders, are yelling and getting in our faces. we were marched to our barracks and assigned a bunk and locker. Later we are marched to the chow hall and there had to side step through the chow line. Still being yelled at and rushed to finish. Then back in formation to march back to the barracks, make our beds, and get assignments for guard duty that night. Then Taps, lights out. For a while it is quiet, then you hear sniffling and moans through out the night. The next morning, revelry, the flight commanders going up and down, pulling covers off, yelling to get dressed and fall out for formation to be marched again to the chow hall and then to the barber shop. Here they buzz cut of all your hair. Then yelled at some more as we are formed up again and marched to a warehouse to side step through a line to get our sea bag so we would have something to carry the uniforms we are issued. They ran out of long khaki pants, size thirty two, by the time I got to that portion of the line. But I did get khaki shorts, Bermuda socks and Bush Jackets and short sleeve shirts. As well as fatigues, dress shoes and boroughs. Everything but my long pants. Formed up, we are marched back to the barracks and told to get out of our civilian clothes and into uniform, fatigues and boroughs. All our civvies we packed into the bags we had brought to be sent home. We were then shown how to lay out our foot lockers and how to hang our dress uniforms on the rods next to our bunks.

After that things settled down into sort of a four-week summer camp. San Antonio in July is really hot, usually 95 degrees by ten or eleven in the morning. When it reached that, all outside activity was stopped. We would have had morning exercises and breakfast, then marched to classes or bused to the gun range. Marching and obstacle courses all took place before it reached 95 degrees. Then we would be marched inside for classes. We all had our assigned jobs; clean barracks or latrines, or guard duty, nothing very strenuous. We really had lots of breaks. It was where I was introduced to Dr. Pepper. I think it was the only pop machines we had on base.  Smoking a pipe was a little awkward so I started smoking cigarettes, Parliaments.  The first weekend, we were allowed to go to the Airman’s Club.  I got my club card and bought my first beer, Red Star, a Texas brand.  It was a hot afternoon and after a few beers, maybe two or three, I started sweating and went to the restroom.  I took off my shirt and splashed some water on my face.  Then put my shirt back on and left to go back to the barracks.  I hadn’t notice that when I put my shirt back on, the collar got tucked under.  But the Sargent I ran into on the way back did.  He ordered me to square away my shirt and report to my barracks.  I did, and when I got to my barracks, I tore up my club card.  I think I tore up my club card three times.

We had to take aptitude tests to see what we qualified for.  At the time, the needs of the Air Force came first.  I was given three choices; Air Police, Still Photography and Medics although I came in high for languages too.  I got my last choice, Medics.  So, after four weeks in boot camp, I moved across the base and began eleven weeks of Medic training.  Our flight leaders also participated in the base drill team during their off times.  So we got a lot of drill practice marching to class.  There were times, when marching, we would come up against a flight of Air Force Academy recruits doing their pre-Academy training and we would march through them.  Medic school included a few WAFs from a separate, nearby barracks, that would form up with us in the morning.  Classes included a lot of first aid, field medic prep, both book and hands on.  Evenings we could go to the Airman’s Club or movies.  On weekends we could go into San Antonio.  Our flight leaders warned us that River Walk was Off Limits to recruits and to watch out when we got off the bus and use a buddy system when walking around downtown.  I pretty much stayed on the base and kept my Club card.  While going to class we were given more aptitude tests.  I scored high for Medic, Dental Tech and X-ray Tech.  I chose X-ray, Medic, Dental Tech.  I got Dental Tech, needs of the Air Force prevailed.

Orders came through to report to Dental Tech School in Montgomery Alabama.  But first I got two weeks leave in route to report in early November 1958.  First I flew home.  An old hand at flying now, I went back to the lounge (they had them in the old days) and sat with a couple of WAFs and the Stewardess to Los Angeles.  During our wait for the plane to Seattle, one of the WAF and I went to the airport bar.  Guess being in uniform, we didn’t get asked for ID and I tried my first martini.  Turns out gin is not my favorite drink.  On landing in Seattle, I took the Greyhound bus to Port Angeles and home.  I pretty much stayed in uniform the whole time at home.  Mom and Dad wanted to show me off and it was kind of a chick magnet.  But time came to head for Alabama.  So I climbed aboard a Greyhound again and headed south, first to San Francisco and then east.  Pulling into Dallas, Texas, I got my first introduction to racism.  Getting off the bus you are greeted with two entrances to the depot, “White and Colored”.  Inside it continued with “White and Colored” restrooms, water fountains and restaurants.  From Dallas, all the way to Montgomery, it was the same thing at all the stops.  In Montgomery I went out the wrong door to catch a taxi.  The Red Star taxis waiting there were for, “Colored Only”.  I had to go back inside and go out the right door and wait for a taxi to the base.  I later learned at the base introduction that it was a $50 fine for a white and colored person to be riding in the same car together.  It was one reason the Air Force didn’t have “Colored” airman going to the advanced medical training base where the dental school was.  Some classes were done across town at Shepard AFB.  And they didn’t want to upset people.

Dental Tech school was twenty four weeks long, so I was there for Thanksgiving.  One of the guys had arranged a blind date for me with a telephone operator downtown.  We got a pumpkin pie from the dinning hall and arranged to meet our dates in town.  When we arrived they were setting in a car and we drove around, trying to find a place open to get whip cream for our pie before we went to their apartment.  As my date was getting out of the car, she kept unwinding and when finally out, stood over six feet tall.  We had our pie and high tailed it back to base.  Another time I was heading into town with a couple of the WAF that I was going to school with.  They wanted to do some shopping.  We kept getting more and more packages, so when it came time to head back to the base, instead of carrying all the packages on the bus, I went to a used car lot and got a car to try out by taking the two back to the base.  I picked up a couple of the guys and we headed back in to town.  One problem, I couldn’t remember where I had got the car.  We ended up driving around a long time until I found the lot.  I took the car back and told them it wasn’t quite the car I was looking for.  Just before graduating, I found out that I had passed the entrance exam for the Academy, top ten percent from the state of Washington.  I was told that when I got to my next base they would arrange to get me to my next set of tests.  I found out that my next assignment was going too be Fairchild AFB in Spokane Washington.

I wanted to buy a car that an airman on the base had for sale, a 1954 Hudson coupe.  A pretty car, forest green and for that time all the bells and whistles.  It did need a valve job but I thought it would make it to Washington and I could overhaul it there.  Problem, I needed my folks to cosign for the $300 loan it would take to buy it and they said no.  So I climbed aboard a Greyhound and headed North.  Around Chicago three guys from the Royal Canadian Engineers boarded the bus and we rotated the back seat so we could stretch out once in a while and get some sleep.  In Billings, Montana, a morning stop for breakfast, we went out to the parking lot and compared marching techniques, especially “To The Rear March”.  They caught a bus going North and I continued on to Seattle and Port Angeles.  I was home a shorter time because I had to get to Spokane.  I got my 49 Hudson packed and headed East.  Arriving at Fairchild, I reported to the 810th Medical Group.  The hospital was actually was just off the west side of the base.  Our barracks was across the parking lot and the Dental Clinic was on base, near the Exchange and Commissary.  After signing in, I showed them my letter to continue tests for the Air Force Academy.  It turned out they would be being held a t McCord AFB in May.  I caught a ride on a MATS C54 flight for McCord AFB in Tacoma.  After three days there and a battery of tests, physical and mental, I returned to Fairchild on the same C54.  As they approached for a landing you could see the flaps coming down and feel the wheels touching.  All of a sudden, they applied power and took off.  Just the prior year two B52’s had collided on the end of the runway.  You can imagine what was going through my mind as we came around, made our approach and landed.  As we were deplaning we asked what that was all about.  The runway is so long they just wanted to make a touch and go.  A few weeks later I found out that I hadn’t passed Physical Fitness or my English parts of the tests.

Being a male Dental Technician in the fifties and sixties was not a carrier making position to be in.   Most of the Dentists I worked with were spending their time training and preparing for when they entered private practice so I got to assist in some very interesting projects.  But when I asked about working with them in private practice, they were not interested in having a male assistant.  I persevered on, and enjoyed my time, primarily assisting in oral surgery and dental hygiene.  In these areas I kept a closer, personal contact with my patients.  There were a number of times I went against the norm of rushing my patients through in an assembly line mode.  I was interested in the comfort and care of all my patients and not in the numbers.  This had a tendency to cause friction with senior enlisted and management and it delayed my promotions.  There was so much politics in the Air Force.  At the clinic you had it made if you owned a VW and played pinochle, the senior sergeant did.  I didn’t own a VW and I played better pinochle.  Eventually I was promoted to A1C, not through the hospital but through the Base.  I’m pretty sure that Colonel Freeman, the Oral Surgeon I worked with, was responsible.  While working I started taking evening extension English classes on base through Eastern Washington College of Education and started working out with a personal physical trainer through the base gym.  When I thought I was ready, I applied for the Air Force Academy through the chain of command.  My Squadron Commander, a ninety day wonder Second Lieutenant returned my paperwork, stating I was too average for the Air Force Academy.  I went in the next, the Air Force was reducing the number of enlisted on base by eight hundred, and requested discharge.  If I was too average for the Academy, I felt I was to average for the Air Force.  He told me those discharges were not meant for someone like me.

As you can imagine, I became very disillusioned with the Air Force.  I continued doing my job, I enjoyed that, and continued doing it my way.  I decided to find an after hours job and went looking.  I can’t remember how, but I found a part-time job as a Car Hop at a local Drive In called Baker’s Beacon.  To have an extra job, not connected to the Air Force, you have to ask permission.  I did, and received permission to have a part time job as long as it didn’t interfere with my normal duties.  Being a Car Hop was a lot of fun.  Of course, I was kind of burning the candle at both ends and maybe sometime even the middle.  After working until five PM at the clinic, I would go down and work at the drive in, sometime to midnight or later and then maybe go partying.  Getting back in the morning to shower and go to work at the clinic.  Do that a day or two and then have a day off and sleeping twelve or fifteen hours.  Then starting all over again.  I got temporarily transferred to an extension of Fairchild, Deep Creek, where they kept their nuclear weapons.  The first day I reported there, I walked through the door of the building where the medical facility was located.  As I enter I glanced over and asked this guy standing there where the dental clinic was.  Embarrassed, I realized I was talking to myself in a mirror on the wall.  Being at Deep Creek was kind of a whirlwind period.  Most of the time I didn’t have a patient show up, so the Sargent in charge of the medical clinic would wake me up till about noon.  I would drive over to the base in the ambulance and get the mail.  Then on nice days go out to Clear Lake and the Base Resort, go swimming or check out a boat and go pick up a girl at the civilian resort and go water ski.  After, down to the Beacon and party.  My more impressive dates was to take a girl out to Natatorium Park, on a special occasion.  On the way to pick her up I would stop by a florist and buy a white rose and pin it to a card.  It seemed to impress the girls and their mothers.

I took some time off and drove over to Port Angeles.  Pop and I went to Seattle to look for a new car for me.   We found a used 53 Austin sedan.  It was actually a cute little car.  The gear shift was on the column, but backwards; first was where second would be on a American car, 2nd/high, 3rd/reverse, 4th/1st, and reverse pull out the handle push all the way back and down.  Driving home we went around Hood Canal and found out it used oil faster than gas.  One curve I came on had said slow to 25.  I hit it about 50.  Dad was behind me and thought I was going to wreak but I bounced around and finally stopped.  We put more oil in and made it in to Port Angeles.  Pop and I overhauled the engine.  Then decided to also paint it, white with turquoise fenders.  One of the places I visited a lot in Spokane the Sports Car Dealer on Monroe, now Silver Auto Auction.  Back them they dealt in Mercedes, MG and Austin, and Midgets.  I became very interested in an Austin Midget that they raced.  After every race they would bring it back to the shop and completely tear down the engine, polish and rebalance it as they put it back together again.  They offered it to me for $1500.  I called Pop and tried to have him loan me the money or cosign a loan but he wouldn’t so I never got it.  Mr. Baker became aware I was looking for another car.  He had a 60 MG Magnet Mark III, black with red and white, leather, interior.  We by-passed Dad and he took my Austin in trade and my trumpet as one of the payments.  I got to be pretty well known in that car.  Use to race the motorcycle cops up Division on the way to work.  One night, after getting off at the Beacon a friend stopped in and asked me to drive him around, looking for his girl friend.  We found her and was chasing her around on some of the streets in Spokane, when I took a left turn to fast.  The MG went up on two wheels.  I fell out of the driver seat and as I was trying to get back under the wheel she slowly rolled on to her ride side in the middle of the street.  Duke and I and a guy that came to check what had happened, muscled the car back on to its wheels.  I checked oil and water, and we took off.  This time with his girl friend.  Since I had a close relationship with the police that came to the Beacon, I asked if they thought I needed to report the accident.  They felt, since there wasn’t any property damage, that it probably wasn’t necessary.  The next day though, I was called into my Commanders office, I had been ordered back to the base.  He asked about my car and I told him.  It was his recommendation, almost an order, that I report the accident.  I respectfully declined his recommendation.  It didn’t go over well.

It was late summer 1961, and I mentioned to Mom that I would probably be bringing a girl home with me for Christmas.  Then forgot about it.  In November I was riding around with Duke and his girl friend, Karen, and we stopped by this house on Olympic and picked up a friend of Karen’s.  She was introduced to me as Joyce, Mary Joyce Bell, and climbed into the back seat with me.  I can’t remember exactly what we did that day, but we had a great time.  After, when I wasn’t working, Joyce and I spent a lot of time together.  We had been dating about three weeks when the subject of marriage came up and we decided to do it.  On the morning of December 9, 1961, we drove to Coeur D’ Alene Idaho with Duke and Karen and went the Hitching Post.  First we had to get a blood test, $5.  Then take the drawn blood to the lab, $5.  The results were carried across the street to City Hall for a license, $5.25.  That was taken back across the street, where the minister married us, “For the grant and Glorious State of Idaho”.  The idea came up that we should head to Port Angeles so my folks could meet Joyce.  Who thinks of money at a time like that.  About three o’clock in the morning we pulled in to Seattle and realized we had no money and I had to be back to the base Monday morning.  There weren’t ATM’s in 1961 and at three in the morning no place open to cash a check.  So, we head to Grandma Dailey’s house.  I knocked on Grandma’s door, she was surprised to see me.  I told her I had got married and we were trying to get back to Spokane and could she cash a check for us.  She told me to go get my bride and bring her in, “And bring in the marriage license too!”.  Grandma wondered if Mom and Dad knew and when I said no, she decided to call them.  When I got on the phone, after just waking them up, I ask Dad, “Hi Pop.  How’s it feel to be a father-in-law?”  “Talk to you mother!”.  “Hi Mom. How’s it feel to be a mother-in Law?”  “Where are you?”  “At Grandma’s.”  “MOOMMMM!”  Grandma explained she was looking at the license and Joyce seemed to be a nice girl.  I got back on the phone and told them that I had to get back to the base and we would see them at Christmas.  After promising to hold the check until the 15th, Grandma gave us enough money to get back to Spokane.

Back then you were suppose to ask permission to get married, before you got married.  So Monday I went to see the Group First Sargent and asked him for permission.  He ask when and I told him, “Last Saturday”.  The First Sargent asked if I was trying to get into trouble.  This was the second time I didn’t follow advise from a superior or regulation.  I really wasn’t trying to get into trouble but I reminded him about being to average and all I wanted to do was finish the rest of my enlistment and leave the Air Force.  I got permission and now could get credit for a dependent, pay, housing and medical.  Later that morning I got a phone call at the clinic from Tech Sargent Oscar Bell, he had read the wedding announcement in the Sunday paper.  “Guess I’m your father-in-law.” “Yep”  “Guess we should meet.”  “Yep”  So we set up a time for him to come to the dental clinic.  Then I went to the front desk and all the rooms around mine to come running if they heard a commotion.  At the time I had my own as a Hygienist.  I went back to my room and adjusted the dental chair so he couldn’t get out of it fast.  A while later Tech Sargent Oscar Bell arrived.  He was a monster in his winter parka.  I invited him to sit down.  He invited me to come meet his wife and the rest of the family, but I couldn’t bring Joyce.  I told him that was impossible and he left.  I didn’t meet Anna until the following Easter.

That Christmas, we drove over to Port Angeles.  As we pulled up in front of my folks home my cousin, Dennis Buggy, came running out to the car.  He had a clip on tie and all day long he was taking it off and putting it on when ever a car drove by, waiting for us to drive up.  He was the first to meet Joyce and then we went in to the house.  The whole family was there; Mom, Dad, Aunt Kathy (Mom’s twin), Sam (her husband then), Dennis and Richard and I can’t remember who else.  Mom pulled me aside and told me I should have said something about marriage when I told her I was brining a girl home for Christmas.  I told her this wasn’t the girl.  That evening we were given the couch to sleep on.  We whispered and giggled a lot, until someone to shut up and go to sleep.  The Christmas weekend went pretty good, we got a lot of Wedding/Christmas presents.  All loaded and ready to head back to Spokane, Pop told Joyce, “If you have any problems you come here.”.  He looked at me, “I don’t know where you will go.”.  Back in Spokane we found a little apartment on lower South Hill.  Actually it proved very convenient because the MG was having battery problems and living next to a hill I could coast and get it started.  In the cold winter it was much easier than using the hand crank.  Later, in the spring, we moved next door to friends of Joyce’s Mom and Dad.  The only problem was when they came and visited next door, Joyce and I had to keep out of sight and quiet.  I did finally met her Mom and brother and sisters on Easter, when we joined them for Mass at Saint Stevens Church.  Later I was called into the First Sargent’s office again and asked about my intentions to re-enlist and told them no way.  It was suggested it would be best if I take what leave I had coming and they allowed me to be discharged in June of 1962, a month early.  Anna heard we were leaving Spokane and invited us to come stay the night before we left.  She gave Oscar kind of an ultimatum, he could stay and visit or get a motel room.  We were welcomed back into the family.

 

Moving on to High School

That summer we moved back to Port Angeles. A lot changed for me. Even though I knew most of the kids that I was going to school with, I was an outsider. It had been too long since I had gone to school or lived near them. I was pretty much a loner and stayed by myself. I didn’t follow up on basketball or any other sports that I had played the last three years. Mom and Dad sold the big trailer we had lived in in California and bought a little nineteen foot camping trailer. Not sure how long we lived in that trailer, I know it was well into the ninth grade. I came home from school one day, about the middle of the year, and found a new Bundy Trumpet setting on the table that was also my bed. Because it was the middle of the year for beginning band, I had a lot of catching up to do. Friends of my folks, the Hewitt’s, played instruments.  Actually the Mom and Dad played professionally in one of the local clubs; Dad played banjo, Mom played piano, their son played clarinet and the daughter played violin.  They helped me quickly learn how to read music and got me through the fundamentals of the trumpet so I caught up pretty fast with the rest of the band.  Practicing in the trailer was kind of interesting too.  I would set in the back on the bed with socks pushed up inside the trumpet and practice.  By the time the year was coming to an end, myself and another trumpet player got to try out for the High School music department.  The music teacher, Mr. Free, came to the school one day.  He recommended me for band and the other for orchestra.  I really enjoyed playing in band.  It was primarily a concert band, although we did some marching and played at home sports events.  I eventually moved from last chair, seventh, to fourth chair after a trumpet challenge where we played Tchaikovsky’s Symphony in f minor.  I would have made first chair if I had had a little more time on the trumpet.  During my sophomore year I tried out for football but decided it wasn’t a game I wanted to play.  In fact I stayed out of sports altogether.  I often wondered what direction I would have gone if we had stayed in California.  High school wasn’t very memorable, I didn’t really apply myself for those three years.  It showed when I graduated with a 2.33 average and ended up 133rd of 180 students.

In 1956, when I was sixteen, I got my driving permit.  Mom was not a good teacher.  We were driving through down town Port Angeles.  Mom really was getting on my nerves, until I stopped in the middle of one of the busy main streets, got out and walked home.  Shortly after I went for my drivers test,  passing by one point the first time, surprising everyone.  Pop found my first car, a 1949 Hudson Commodore.  It had been owned by a fern picker, had overload springs with kind of faded maroon paint.  I got a lot of ribbing in the parking lot but it turned out to be a trend setter.  It was the first car on our high school parking lot that had the “California Rake”, that became so popular in the late fifties and sixties.  Took years for me to admit to some of the drags I was in on Front street.  There was one afternoon I was driving past Roosevelt Junior High and had to stop for a cross walk guard.  When he cleared the intersection, I rabbited.  As I did there was a car behind me that started honking its horn and flashing its lights.  At first I thought it was a cop, the car was similar to there Chives.  But it was worse.  The guy who walked up to my window was Pop.  All he said was, “Take your car home.  Give the keys to your Mom.  We’ll talk about this later.”  I took the car home and told Mom what had happened and gave her the keys.  She sort of laughed and told me that Pop was probably mad because I beat him off the stop and couldn’t keep up.  Mom always told me, “Don’t smoke those funny cigarettes.  If you want to smoke, tell me and I’ll buy them for you.”  I asked for a pipe and she bought one for me.  Another trend setter in high school.

In my senior year, the Air Force Academy had just opened and I applied.  I wrote Senator Jackson of Washington and he sponsored me.  Thinking my chances might improve if I joined the Air Force, I went to see a recruiter.  Being only seventeen, a month before my eighteenth birthday, Mom and Dad had to sign for me to enlist.  The day I was scheduled to leave, I took the initial competitive test for the Academy and met my folks at the Greyhound bus terminal to catch the bus for Seattle.  I remember, before climbing on the bus, Pop hugged me.  It was the first time I could remember him doing that.

My Dad, Pop.  Thinking back over the years, I thought of all the things he had done for me and some of the fun things we had done together.  When I was graduating from the eighth grade, he pawned all his camera equipment so I would have a suit for graduation.  I remembered the times I was too cold or tired after fishing to put my gear away and he did.  Or when I talked him into trying out a little eighteen foot boat I had found while playing at the marina in Port Angeles.  He bought that boat because when we tried it out we caught twelve salmon in about two hours, from the time we left the dock and returned.  That afternoon we took Mom out and caught five more.  If my car broke down, he was always there to fix it.  Sometimes, in my teens, I couldn’t be bothered to help.  With hindsight, I often wished I had paid more attention.  Although I think I picked up a lot from him through osmoses.  Over the years we became pretty close.

The Young Bill

I’ve been thinking about writing my story for a long time. Since having started I realized that there is so much that I could get caught up writing and it would take up a whole lot of space and time. I am going to hit some of the highlights that have been important to me. And when it comes right down to it, my mind and memory isn’t what it used to be.  I plan to tell my story concentrating on my immediate family.  For very short periods in my early years I had little contact with the Town side.  And the Dailey side would be better told through others.  There were good times, but most of what I remember are the times together that always seemed to end up in drunken arguments.  Or my Uncle Alva, Mom’s brother, twisting my arm up behind my back to get me to say, “Uncle”.  Which I recently learned he did with my sons.

I was born July 26, 1940 in Bremerton Washington and was supposed to have gotten the name Forrest Evans Towne Jr., or maybe the III.  But it got overruled by my Grandpa Archie Dailey and I was named William Forrest Towne, after a sheriff in Whitman County Washington by the name of William Dailey.  At least that is the story I was always told.  I could always tell when Mom was upset with me.  She usually called me Billy but when angry it was, “WILLIAM FORREST!!”.

My first memories start when I was about two or three.  We lived in, what I assume, was a farm on Bainbridge Island.  I remember a glassed-in kitchen that looked out at a barn.  Parked alongside the barn, my folks had a long, about 25 foot, black speedboat.  When Pop had it in the water, one of the things he liked to do was race the Washington State Ferries, especially the Kalakala, that ran between Seattle and Bainbridge.  Before leaving the dock they always had me wearing a life vest, like the old cork ones you see in old movies.  One day it happened to be kicked off the dock and sank.  I never had to wear a life vest again.

Later we moved from the farm to a little cottage.  There was a Marine and his family living in a house behind us and he use to bring us boxes of Snickers and other chocolate candy bars, things he was able to get at the Navy exchange that weren’t readily available in town.  He had a young daughter about my age and we decided to cut each others hair, we got in big trouble.  Playing around the house one day, I found a Pepsi bottle with what I thought was pop and drank it.  It turned out to be turpentine.  The only thing that I could eat for a while was Jell-O.  With everything being rationed it was hard to come by until Mom told the grocer what it was for.  We got all the Jell-O we needed.  Pop and a friend of his, Roy Jimenez, bought “ME” an electric train set for Christmas.  I was only allowed to sit and watch them play with it.  One time they set it up in the living room and decided to take the cab off the motor.  I don’t know which, but one of them thought they could sharpen their penknife on the wheel of the engine as it was going around.  The blade broke and went flying out, breaking the bay window in the living room.  One Halloween, Mom and a friend of hers decided to go out trick-or-treating, mostly tricking.  Mom had an empty thread spool that she notched around the edges and would wrap a string around it and put a pencil through the hole.  They would go up to someone’s window, lay the spool against it and pull the string.  It made quite a racket as it ratcheted against the window.  Then they would grab me and we would run into the woods and hide.  Sitting here, thinking about that time, I was not aware of a War going on.  Or that there was not a lot available because of it.  We always had what we needed and seemed to have fun.  Pop taught me how to wolf whistle and I remember riding around, standing on the back seat of his Hudson convertible, whistling at girls on the street.  Pop got some really dirty looks.

About age four or five, after the war, we moved out to Grandpa Town’s farm in Altmar New York.  He had a couple of Belgian Draft Horses.  They were the biggest things I had ever seen.  When we sat down for dinner, I remember, Grandpa had a big bowl at his place and he would put everything in the bowel.  He figured it was all going to the same place.  There was a pond on the property where I could go fishing, using worms that Grandpa told me to just carry in my pocket.  My Mom didn’t appreciate that when she checked pockets before doing wash.  Later we moved closer to Pop’s brothers.  They had bought a truck and trailer that Pop drove into New York City hauling goods.  I remember the kitchen in the house that Mom and Dad were renting.  One time we were sitting, having dinner during a lightening storm.  All of a sudden, a bolt of lightening came slamming into the kitchen and bounced between the water and gas pipes.  Mom and Dad got pretty excited.  The trucking company didn’t work out, Pop was doing all the work and brothers were taking all the money.

When I was about six, we moved back to Washington.  We returned to Washington on a Grey Hound bus.  Pop, having been a bus driver for Washington Motor Coach during the war, would sit up by the driver and share bus driver stories.  Traveling by bus was a lot different back then.  Buses didn’t have restrooms on them.  And there weren’t rest stops like today.  For men, and boys (me), the driver would pull off on the side of the road and wait while I went behind a bush.  When we got back to Bremerton, Pop went out looking for work while Mom and I stayed.  I remember, we lived in a small, mother-in-law, house.  The landlord and his family lived in the main house on the property.  What I remember most about our house, all the inside walls and cupboards were knotty pine.  At this time Uncle Gene, Dad’s brother, and his family also lived in Bremerton.  Pop eventually found a job as a mechanic for Reed Priest Logging Company in Sequim and Mom and I moved there.  We lived in a little one room cabin, across the street from the Presbyterian church in Sequim.  We didn’t have a car but the company let Pop use their WWII jeep and a Command Car for transportation.  I remember one trip, Sequim to Sumner, we took in the Command Car.  It was Thanksgiving 1946 and really cold.  I sat in back with Mom and Pee Wee Secor under a pile of blankets because there was no heat and just a cloth top with no side curtains.  Actually it is the only trip that I can ever remember taking in the Command Car.  For the jeep, Pop built a half cab over the front seat out of plywood.  It was fine for the three of us but got pretty crowded when others rode with us.  That Christmas Pop made me a wagon out of 2X4’s.  It was pretty elaborate, with a steering wheel and mechanism.  The wheels could be removed and replaced by sled runners Dad had made.  One outing, Pop let Mom pull him on one of the back roads heading to one of their friends, George Easterly.  She was driving the jeep and Pop was on a line about 25 feet behind.  She came to a stop but Pop didn’t, he went flying by to the end of the line and whipped around, luckily he didn’t turn over or get thrown off.  It was also that Christmas that he and Tiny Secor bought “Bill” his first gas engine model airplane, a ‘Fire Ball’.  I wasn’t allowed to fly it but Dad had a great time, until he got dizzy going around in circles and crashed it.  It was that spring that there was a meteor shower.  I remember setting on my wagon, looking up, as the meteor shot across the sky.  It almost looked like rain.  Sequim is where I started the first grade.  We were having a play, “Little Red Riding Hood”, and I ended up being the “Big Bad Wolf”.  I had a lisp and sounded like Elmer Fudd, ” I will eat you all up Wittle Wed Widing hood.  We had three performances; one for the school, one for the PTA and one for the town.

When I was seven, we moved down to Pacific Grove California.  Roy Jimenez, Dad’s friend from Bainbridge Island, had called with a job.  Together they did brick and stone work on a number of homes in Carmel.  While Mom and Dad looked for a house, we lived with Roy and his family.  One day, while Dad was working on a Model A coupe he was planning on turning into a hot rod, I was playing with some of the neighbor kids across the street.  We were rough housing around playing Superman when one of the kids got down behind me on his hands and knees and another in front of me pushed me and I went over backwards, breaking my right wrist.  Mom and dad rushed me to the hospital where I was put to sleep to reset my wrist.  I later found out that to pay the doctor and hospital, Pop sold the Model A and got a grant from the Masons.  A couple of weeks later the kid that had bought the Model A stopped by and showed us what he had done.  It was the hot rod that Pop had planned to build.  Around this time, we moved to a house in Pacific Grove, across the street from the ocean.  Up behind the house there was a telephone pole yard that all the kids in the neighborhood used to play on; sword fights, pretend rafting, all kinds of games.  It was while we lived there that Pop and Roy bought an old Stutz and made a race car out of it.  I remember Pop doing brodies out in the field by our house.  And Mom racing down along the ocean toward Carmel.  The car never won a race and Pop blew up the engine after it’s last race, racing Mom, driving an Auburn, back from the track one day.  The Stutz was a car that Pop always remembered for the rest of his life as being the one he should have kept and restored.

In late 47 or early 1948, we moved back to Washington.  Pop got a job driving logging truck for Claude Bear and we lived with Tiny and Pee Wee in a little shack, a ways out of Beaver Washington, guarding the entrance to Claude’s logging property.  We all lived in a small skid house, no running water or electricity.  Our refrigerator was the creek across the road.  The shack/cabin was pretty cramped, my bed was the kitchen chairs placed side by side every night.  Later we moved to a little town, a wide spot on the highway between Port Angeles and Forks Washington, called Tyee.  It had a grocery store and a half dozen cabins on either side of the highway.  The store had a diesel generator that provided electricity between five and eight PM, when it would be shut off.  We did our reading and studying during that time or by gas lantern or candles.  I rode a school bus to a little two room school and the second grade in Beaver Washington, a little town on the way to Forks.  One day, on the way to school, the bus got stopped and a man told the driver that Truman had won the election for President.  The people that owned the store and rented out the cabins had a son my age and a daughter a couple of years older than us.  There were about a half dozen other kids that lived in the area and the daughter use to march them around.  Her brother and I refused to be marched.  She caught up to me out in the parking lot one day and we got into an argument that turned into a fist fight.  I blindly swung with tears running down my cheek and a bloody nose, but I wouldn’t stop.  Finally she stopped punching and started crying and stopped the fight.  From then on she left her brother and me alone.

It was while we were living there that a big black Buick with a couple of big guys in it pulled up to our house.  They were in suits and wearing Fedoras, looking for Pop.  He wasn’t home from work yet and they pulled over to the side of the parking lot.  When he finally drove up in his truck and got out, they came up and arrested him, handcuffed and put him in the back seat of their car and took off for Port Angeles.  Somehow Mom found out he was in jail in the courthouse but was not allowed to see him.  She tried breaking the windows into the basement where the jail was and almost got arrested.   He was being held and questioned by the FBI, incommunicado.  Reed Priest and Claude Bear tried to find out what he was in jail for and bail him out but couldn’t.  Grandpa Dailey tried to find out at the sheriff’s office in Port Orchard and almost got put in jail.  Pop’s friend Roy was being held and questioned in California at the same time.  It turned out that Roy’s crazy mother-in-law had accused Pop and Roy of robbing banks, jewelry stores and murder while working for the bus company during the second world war.  The FBI came to the conclusion the accusations had no merit and let them go.

Shortly after, we moved to Phoenix Arizona and I started school in Glendale.  The same school that years later my kids would attend.  Pop soon got transferred to El Paso, Texas, by the trucking company he worked for.  We lived in a motel there and I continued school.  Mom and Dad decided to move back to Washington.  Another couple that lived in the motel decided to move back to California and asked to travel with us.  We had a big four door 32 Buick and the other couple had a 42 Buick.  The other guy was afraid that we would probably be breaking down a lot since ours was so much older.  It actually turned out his was the one that kept breaking down.  We had everything we owned packed in the back seat of our Buick with just enough room for me to slide in and lay on top of everything.  We were going over a pass on the way to Angels Camp California and we came to one spot where a snowplow was broken down, leaving a very narrow lane to get by it.  For safety, everyone but the drivers had to get out of the cars.  Pop went first and made it fine.  He told the other guy, that once he started, to keep going after he got around the truck.  But as he got along side the plow, he panicked and we had to push on the rear fender to keep him from sliding over.  We left him and his family in Angels Camp and continued on to Port Angeles.  We rented a house from George Easterly and I went to school, fourth grade, at Lincoln grade school.  Soon after, we moved out to the Hoh river and lived in a little cabin behind the gas station/grocery store that was a wide spot on the way to the Olympic National Forest.  Pop was driving logging truck and Mom was hanging with the daughter of the “Old Man of the Hoh”.  I was going to school in Forks, riding the bus everyday.  Our driver was an elder lady that, when the truck drivers saw her coming, they pulled off.  She was known to have forced more than one off the road, always an exciting ride.  Pop got a job as a mechanic with Carmi Hanchet’s logging company and we moved across the river to his logging camp and lived in what one time had been the dining (chow) hall.  To get to the camp they had fell two parallel logs, about 100-150 feet long, across the Hoh river, skimmed the tops flat and didn’t bother with guard rails.  Mom would drive me over the bridge to catch the bus for school in Forks.  Everyday, after school, the bus would let me off and Mom would be there to drive me back across the bridge to the camp.  One day she wasn’t there.  I waited for a while and finally decided to try walking across the bridge back to camp.  I got a few steps out on to the bridge, looked down, saw the river rushing past, and continued across on my hands and knees.  It was the only time I wasn’t picked up.  Entertainment on Friday or Saturday nights was a movie in Forks.  It was important to go, because you would see the week’s episode of whatever serial was playing.  My favorites were “Lassie” and “Rocket Man”.  I was the only kid living at the logging camp so I spent a lot of time playing by myself.  Just across the road from where we lived there was a creek and after crossing it you were in a magical, mystical wonder land.  Moss covered ground under tall trees and thick ferns.  I found I could catch trout in the creek using red berries off the bushes that looked like fish eggs.  It was a place I could let my imagination go anywhere.  During the summer I could hitch a ride on logging trucks heading for Port Angeles after they stopped at the camp to be scaled.  It was always a little frightening crossing the bridge, higher above the river, and looking down from the cab.  Other times Mom might take me across the river to the little store and community around it so I would be able to play with other kids.  When the loggers would finish a landing up on the mountain above the camp, they would have a party.  Next day, I would take the back seat out of our 42 Hudson and Mom would drive me up to the landing to pick up the empty cases of beer bottles that I could take back to the store for refund.  Made some pretty good spending money that way.

Pop got a job with Claude Bear in Gold Beach Oregon around 1950-51.  He picked Mom, me, my new puppy (a Chow I name General but Pop changed to Butch when he attacked his pant leg) and my aunt Joyce (my Mom’s sister who was only two years older than I) up in Port Angeles.  We met a couple Claude’s men at “The Head of the Bay”, between Bremerton and Port Orchard.  They were driving an overloaded 48 ton and a half Chevy flatbed and we were going to be their scout for weigh stations on the way down.  That Chevy was one of the first vehicles I ever drove.  Claude’s sons and I would take that truck out into a field near their house.  In Gold Beach, Pop had rented a trailer in a trailer park/motel.  It was down the hill from the main trailer park, close to the beach.  Some of the kids I had met and I had built a driftwood fort down on the beach.  One of the kids had brought a pack of Camels.  One day, when I had left the fort going home, one of the kids ran up to me wanting to know where the pack was.  Mom had overheard and it was the first time we had the conversation about not smoking, “those funny cigarettes”.  Mom and Dad bought a 35 foot “Roll Away” trailer and we moved up into the main part of the park.  One of the things we brought to the new trailer from the old was a picture of a Black Panther, which we had for years.  I started the sixth grade and became manager of the basketball team for the next two years.  Later they moved the trailer to a park right across from the school.  Butch would walk me to school and sometimes, if it was raining, the teacher would let me bring him in and lay next to me in class.  With both Mom and Dad working, Mom in the local plywood plant and Pop driving logging truck, I started learning to cook.  I would fix diner for us and if I had any problem, I would go next door, where Tiny and Pee Wee now lived, and get directions.  I became a pretty good cook learning this way.  On my 12th birthday we had a party at a swimming hole on the Pistol River, just out of town.  It was where I first really swam.  Mom told me that when I jumped in to come up paddling and kicking and not to stop until I reached the beach.  I tried turning out for a local wrestling club but couldn’t do somersaults.  But I did have a chance to wrestle a bear.  A traveling show came to town and parked at the trailer park where we lived.  They had a couple of small bears, about my size.  For fifty cents you could wrestle one and if you pinned it for ten seconds you won a dollar.  I got in the cage where the bear, declawed and toothless, was backed into a corner.  When I approached it, it wrapped its front paws around my neck, gumming my face, and dug its back paws into my stomach.  I backed off, grabbed its back paws and drug it out into the middle of the cage and pinned it.  Won the dollar.

In the summer of 1953, we moved to California where Pop got a job with Roy Jimenez at the Hudson dealer’s in Fullerton.  They found a trailer park in Orange County, right next to a dairy farm.  On hot days during the summer the smell was pretty bad.  They found one closer to where I was going to start eighth grade, I had to walk through an orange groove between the park and school.  A much better smell.  We purchased our first television in California. It was a used, round ten inch council.  If I remember correctly the first program we saw on it was “Howdy Doody”.  The school didn’t have a gym so we played basketball on a blacktop court.   The eighth grade was kind of fun.  We had ballroom dancing in the school auditorium as one of our classes.  For my graduation prophesy the teacher said I was going to be a map maker.  For geography and history I was always drawing maps.  Our class was going to be the first graduating class in a new high school being built, I think in Glendale.  We got to name the school team, Highlanders, and pick our colors, Green Plaid.  We were given the opportunity to sign up for classes and sports.  Initially I signed up to play baseball, but the coach told me he wanted me to play basketball.  Having played with the teams in the sixth and seventh grade when I managed in Gold Beach, I had an advantage when we played on the blacktop courts.  But it didn’t work out, we didn’t stay in California.