MEMOIRS OF ONE
JOHN EDWARD WERNER
Volumes 1 and 2
John Edward Werner
700 Pontiac Street
This book cannot be reproduced without the express permission of John E. Werner, his heirs or assigns.
Made in the United States of America
MEMOIRS OF ONE
JOHN EDWARD WERNER
VOLUME NO. 1
I was born on 25 March, 1915 in a small home on Main Street in Culver, Indiana. The home is no longer there. It was replaced by a concrete block building which became a dry cleaning establishment operated by my future brother-in-law, Charles Ricciardi. Both my father and mother are buried in the cemetery in Culver, Indiana.
My father was Howard Luke Werner and he was born in Eglon, West Virginia on 26 August 1892. His father was Hampton Werner and his mother was Lucinda Werner nee Miller. Hampton Werner was born on 18 July, 1848 in Garrett County, Maryland. He died 27 January 1885. Lucinda Miller was born on 10 March, 1851 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania and died 8 October, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois.
Hampton Werner's father was Casper Werner (John) who was born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1809 and was married to Judith Schultz in 1832. He was naturalized on 12 October, 1840 in Allegany County, Maryland. He died in 1878.
Judith Schultz was born on 3 December, 1816 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania and died in Eglon, West Virginia in 1895 where both she and her husband are buried. Judith Schultz' father was Adam Schultz and her mother was Magreta Scheire, both of German descent.
I do not know who Casper Werner's parents were, or if the place of his birth in Germany is spelled correctly.
Lucinda Miller's father was Phineas Miller, born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania on 29 January, 1825 and died in Eglon, West Virginia on 28 February 1907. Her mother was Mary Fike who was born in 1830 and died 7 April 1916. Please see Werner--Miller Family Tree for additional information on the family history.
I was the youngest of five children, not including my mother's first baby which was stillborn.
Now to my mother's family. Her maiden name was Lessie Elizabeth Taylor. She was born in Arcadia, Ohio on 12 July, 1885. She was the oldest of nine children of Robert Franklin Taylor who was born in Arcadia, Ohio on 27 September 1860, and died on 28 July, 1948 in Liberty Mills, Indiana. His father was George W. Taylor, born 1832 and died in 1923. He is buried in Arcadia, Ohio.
Robert. F. Taylor's mother was Elizabeth Peters vho was born in 1832 and died in 1920. She is buried in Arcadia, Ohio. George W. Taylor's father was William Taylor, born 1795 in Ireland and died on 27 July, 1840 in Ohio. George Taylor's mother was Cassandra Bealle who was born 17 September, 1801 in Pennsylvania and died 30 March 1865 in Ohio.
My mother's mother was Mary Maria Pore. She was born 19 September, 1862 in Indiana and died 26 June, 1942 in Liberty Mills, Indiana. Both she and her husband are buried in the cemetery at South Whitley, Indiana. She was known as "Molly." Her father was John Pore, born 8 September, 1831 and died 11 March, 1917. Her Mother was Charlotta Thomas, born in 1834 and died in 1877 in Indiana. Please refer to Robert Franklin Taylor's Family, Ancestors, Descendants, and Related Families for additional information.
My oldest sister was Mary Werner, born on 17 July, 1909 in Morgantown, West Virginia, 104 Beechham Street. She died on 7 January, 1993 in Culver, Indiana. Mary is buried with her husband, Charles Ricciardi, in the Cemetery in Culver, Indiana. Mary's twin sister was Martha Werner, who was born 15 minutes later. Martha died 3 January, 1991 in Culver, Indiana and is buried in the cemetery in Culver, Indiana along with her first husband, Harold Robinson.
Ruth Werner and Robert Hampton Werner were also born in Morgantown, West Virginia on 23 November, 1910. Robert died 16 August, 1984 in South Bend, Indiana. He was cremated and the ashes were scattered on the St. Joseph river in South Bend. Ruth Werner lives in Jackson, Mississippi having never married. For more information on my immediate family please refer to the attached family trees.
The first thing that I can remember is my father talking about the first World War, circa 1918, when I was about three years old. I recall that I was worrying over a battle which I thought was just on the other side of Lake Maxinkukee. We only lived about two blocks from the lake. I also remember the Armistice that ended the war on 11 November, 1918 because everyone was out in the street celebrating and someone gave me a piece of candy, free.
I also remember my father talking about how he was riding a bicycle down a hill in West, Virginia. The bike did not have any brakes. You were supposed to wedge a stick between the wheel and the bike frame for a brake. He dropped the stick and tried to wedge his foot between the front wheel and the fork with disastrous results. The resulting spill just about ended my father. He also told me about how he helped his family build a road (lane) for quarter of a mile from their home to the edge of Eglon.
My father wanted to be a teacher. To that end he attended Tri State College in Angola, Indiana to get his teacher's certificate. My mother, who had moved to Indiana when her father, R. F. Taylor, bought a 156 acre farm near Liberty Mills and moved his family there shortly after the turn of the century, decided to also teach school. She also went to Tri-State College. They met there and fell in love. One time when my father took Miss Taylor for a boat ride on a nearby lake when the weather was quite warm, and the boat sprang a leak. Since the night was dark and the weather warm, neither of them noticed the water rising in the boat. They just made it back to shore.
I, being the youngest in the family and having three older sisters who wanted to play with the new baby, was probably "spoiled." Nevertheless, I always wanted to play with my older brother Bob and his friend George Eisenhardt. One day when I was out with them playing in an old grain elevator, I fell through a hole in the floor. On the way through the hole my nose caught on the edge of the floor. The distance to the ground was only about three feet, but I broke my nose and to this day it is somewhat crooked. After the bleeding stopped I went on playing and when we all returned home my nose was so swollen that my folks could not tell it was broken, so nothing was done about straightening my nose. Some of the events that I will write about will be related, but may not be in correct chronological order since I will be writing them down as I remember them.
Family Chicago Trips
One of the many things that remain very clear in my memory was our family trips to Chicago, Illinois. We made these trips once or twice a year, depending on whether my Pop had enough money or not. When we went we always took the excursion train on the Nickel Plate Railroad from a little town about two miles north of Culver called Hibbard. As near as I can remember the round trip fare was about $2.50 for adults and half fare for the four older children, with little John riding free until I was about six years old.
These trips, as noted above, started when I was quite little and continued until I was in High School. My Mom always prepared a wonderful picnic lunch to take along with us on the train and we kids had to wait until we got to Lincoln Park, walked through the Zoo and found an empty table for lunch before we could eat.
After Lincoln Park we would go to Field's Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and then back to the Loop to attend a good movie and stage show at the Chicago Theater. If we had time we would get to the Art Museum also. These trips continued until I was in High School. My Mom always prepared a wonderful picnic lunch which we always ate in Lincoln Park.
We would have dinner in a Greek restaurant (all seven of us) and back to the LaSalle Street Station to catch the return excursion train. The train left about seven or eight o'clock. It arrived in Hibbard about 11:00 o'clock PM. All of us kids took a nap on the way home on the train, especially since it was getting dark outside.
I can remember the stands in the station in Chicago that sold fruit. The apples never looked redder and larger and the oranges were big and really orange. We never had enough money left at that time to buy very much.
Most of the time we used the one and only taxi in Culver, operated by Frank McLane, who also taught English in the High School, to travel to and from Hibbard. He knew when the train was scheduled to leave and return and we never had to worry about him not being on time. In later years when more people had automobiles, we would have a friend take us to and from the little station in Hibbard, Indiana. This station was small and used a Pot-Bellied stove for heat and was only a flag stop on the railroad. The station man had to put up the signal to get the train to stop for us. It was about 2.5 miles each way in the taxi and about 100 miles each way on the train.
Since both my Father and Mother had been teachers we always had books and magazines in the house and we all grew up reading a lot. There was also a pretty good library in town considering the total population of Culver was just over 1500.
Lake Maxinkuckee was just two blocks from where we lived. This allowed us to go swimming as much as we wanted to for free and in the winter the boys, mostly, would go skating and play ice hockey on the lake. We had COLD winters in Culver in those days, with lots of wind. We would use a home made sail and let the wind blow us across the lake. Coming back against the wind was not so much fun.
Ice Houses in Culver
In the winter, one of the more interesting things that happened was the annual ice harvest. This was, of course, in the days before electric refrigerators when every home had an ice box that used ice, and most of the time it was natural ice similar to that produced in Culver. There were two large ice houses in Culver at that time. (There are none now.) One year 47,000 tons of ice were harvested from Lake Maxinkuckee. One of the ice houses was only a stone's throw from the back of our house. We used to play on the roof as well as anywhere else that the men who worked there would let us since no one but our parents ever seemed to worry about us being injured.
The ice was cut from the lake when it had reached a thickness of at least 8 inches. The snow was scraped off first, if there was any, and then using a circular saw, the ice was marked off in squares of about two feet on each side with grooves four or five inches deep. Using a large hand saw that was similar to a regular carpenter's saw except bigger and coarser, the ice was cut into large sections about four squares wide and fifteen squares long.
These large sections were floated toward shore through canals cut in the ice and then were broken up into smaller sections only two blocks wide and four or five blocks long for easier handling. The ice blocks were broken apart by means of a steel wedge-like tool with a five-foot handle and then these smaller sections were floated onto a chain type conveyor for distribution to the large storage rooms in the ice house itself. Each of these storage rooms were about 60 feet wide and 200 feet long with an opening three feet wide and as high as the ice house which was about 25 feet. The ice blocks, which had been broken apart on the way to the storage rooms, were hooked off of the conveyor and slid into the rooms and, starting at the back, were stacked up about 15 ft. high. The entire floor would then be covered with ice and about five feet of straw was placed on top for insulation. The conveyor was equipped with a chain hoist so that it could be raised as the rooms filled up.
During the summer months, the ice would be uncovered and slid out of the rooms into insulated box cars waiting on a railroad siding for shipment to South Bend, Logansport, and Indianapolis. Surprisingly enough, the ice had not melted much since it was stored. The ice business was owned by a man named Medbourn, and the town of Culver was supplied with lots of his product directly from the storage rooms. The harvesting, storage and handling of the natural ice furnished a lot of employment to winter-idle farmers, as well as other people in Culver. The advent of electric refrigerators soon put the natural ice harvest and ice house out of business. One of the two ice houses burned to the ground and the other one was torn down to make way for other types of enterprises.
The ice business was always an interesting operation for the kids to watch, both in the winter and summer, and I can remember many hours spent watching and playing at the ice house, many times picking out small pieces of cool ice to suck on. In the winter we had to be very careful about the large open spots that were left when the ice was removed or we might get an unwelcome dunking in the cold water until these open areas froze over again. If we did fall in we just climbed out and went home as fast as we could where our mother, who was glad to see us unhurt, would take off the clothes that were frozen stiff and replace them with warm dry things. We must have been a worry for our dear mothers.
Walking Around Lake Maxinkuckee
My sister Mary and I often would hike around the lake in the summer, walking along the edge as much as possible and sometimes this was difficult to do because the shore was 90% built up at that time. In addition there was a rather large creek that entered the lake at the south end and this required a detour of about two miles over hot, dusty country roads. We thought the actual walking distance, including the detour, was approximately 14 miles. I do not believe that you could walk over all of the properties along the lake shore now since the owners have become more private than they used to be and do not tolerate trespassers.
We always walked around the lake in the clockwise direction, starting through the Culver Park, on by the old Lake View Hotel, a few cottages, and through The Culver Military Academy. After that we walked through or around dozens of private homes built along the lake shore, locally known as the East Shore of the lake. In those days all of the owners kept their properties open and some even had sidewalks.
After making the detour because of the creek and a small swamp, we would get back to the actual lake shore at a point we called the South Shore at place near where Ray Kline now has a beautiful home. The trip also passed Busart's farm, where my friend Carl Busart grew up, as well their gravel pit, and then came an area known as Long Point. This was a rather large (for Lake Maxinkuckee) peninsula on which several homes were built. Next came the only outlet to the lake and we came to the southern of the two ice houses that Culver could boast about. After that, it was only a short walk through the south end of town and we were home.
The outlet, which I just mentioned, was another fascinating place for the kids to play. It was about 10 ft. wide and after flowing through a large swampy area flowed into another lake known as Little Lake and sometimes, Lost Lake. I do not know if either name is correct, for we all knew what was meant when the above names were used. Although it was not always easy, we managed to navigate the outlet with a row boat or canoe and get to Little Lake and back. Little Lake was shallow and full of weeds and grass and had little to offer the kids that went there--it was the getting there that was exciting. Now I know why our mothers turned gray so young.
Little Lake emptied into the Tippicanoe River and then into the Wabash River and via the Ohio River and the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. I believe a few brave souls have traversed this route to the sea. We never explored beyond Little Lake.
Howard Luke Werner
Now back to more about my father. He soon found out that teaching in West Virginia did not pay much so he went to Polks Conservatory of Piano Tuning in Valparaso, Indiana. I am not sure of the chronology of these events, but I believe the Piano Tuning School was just before they were married on 13 October, 1906. Anyway, after a short stay in Fort Wayne, Indiana, my father and mother moved to Montgomery, Alabama where my father tuned pianos for some sort of a piano company or store.
My father often told a story about a blind piano tuner that worked with him in Montgomery. This blind man had trained his ears so well that he could locate the piano in a strange home by listening for the resonances coming from the piano of the peoples' voices who were talking in the home.
This job in Alabama apparently did not pay too well, for both my parents moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Dad went to Bowman's Technical School to study the trade of watchmaking. After completing the course of watchmaking he worked for a while in a Jewelry Store in Baltimore, Maryland before finding a better job in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he again worked in a Jewelry Store. Dad liked to tell of watches that the Railroad conductors used. These watches had to be pocket watches with a lever setting arrangement instead of the stem that pulled out for setting. To get to the lever for setting the time required the opening of the front bezel of the watch and then swinging the lever out before the setting could begin. This prevented the inadvertent setting of the watch while winding it. These watches had to be certified periodically for accuracy in three different positions.
Morgantown was where my three sisters and one brother were born in 1909 and in 1910. My father decided that he would like to own his own business, and to this end he began a search in the advertising section of a Jewelry and Watchmaking trade journal for a suitable store to buy. I do not know how long he looked, but he found a store for sale at a suitable price in Culver, Indiana and since my Mom's father, R. F. Taylor, was only 50 miles from Culver, in Liberty Mills, Indiana, my Dad asked him to go to Culver and look at the store. Grandpa Taylor wrote back a favorable report on his observations. I suspect that Grandpa Taylor may have been influenced with the thought that his oldest daughter would be much closer if they would move from Morgantown, West Virginia to Culver, Indiana. The result of this report was that my Father came by himself to Culver on the railroad to take a look at the store and the town. Apparently he did not like what he saw, even after he talked with the local banker, a Mr. Schuyler Schilling and several other people including, of course, the owner of the store, a Mr. Sutherlin. Dad returned to the Culver railroad station to wait for a train to take him to LaPaz, Indiana where he could get the return train to Morgantown, West Virginia on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
However, while he was waiting at the Vandalia Railroad Station, Mr. Schilling found him and talked my Dad into buying the Jewelry Store, probably with a generous financing plan. I have no idea how much my father paid for the store, how much he financed, or what (if any) deal was struck, but Mr. Schilling did talk Dad into moving to Culver, Indiana in 1911 with my mother and all four of their little babies. They lived in Culver the balance of their lives. No wonder it took almost five years before Mom and Dad got around to having their last baby, ME.
Depression Days in Culver
We were never a rich family, but we never wanted for food and other necessities of life and we did enjoy some of the finer things of life, too, such as lots of books and a magazine or two, as well as a piano and later a player piano with lots of rolls. Any of us that wanted to take piano lessons were encouraged to do so and both Ruth and Martha did learn how to play the piano. Martha later taught music, while Ruth played for her church in Jackson, Mississippi. We all had a lot of fun with the Lake being so close with a small but very nice Park on the lake shore with two food and pop stands, a swimming beach, and many tables and benches for picnics.
What we lacked in material things was more than made up by the love given to us by our parents.
The store that my Dad bought consisted of one room about 18 foot square with a hard coal burning Base Burner heating stove. It had two showcases for the display of the merchandise. Although this was not much compared to today's big malls, we all were fascinated with it, especially the big stove. There was a doorway with a curtain over it that led to living quarters part of the building. This consisted of a combination dining room, living room, and kitchen leading to a small enclosed back porch with sink and a water well hand pump. The balance of the plumbing was in the outside toilet, which was nothing. There was another door in the back of the store that led to Mom and Dad's bedroom and still another door that led to the stairway going up to two bedrooms for the kids. The one bedroom in the front of the house was only accessible by going through the back bedroom first. The only heat upstairs came through a small register, open to the downstairs.
This register, as it was called, consisted of a cast iron grill on the floor of the upstairs bedroom as well as another grill of some sort that attached to the ceiling of the downstairs room where the stove was located. There was no bathroom or inside plumbing, other than the hand pump on the closed-in back porch, and baths were taken in the kitchen in a large galvanized wash tub which was about 2-1/2 feet in diameter. Water was heated on the kitchen stove in the winter, and on a kerosene stove in the summer when it was too hot to fire up the coal stove.
We did have a cellar, though, with a dirt floor and with the access only through a single door opening onto the back yard at the foot of the steps coming down from the back porch. Incidentally, the side yard sloped from the front of the house, which opened directly onto the sidewalk, to the back yard which was at the level of the cellar floor. In the winter when the snow was deep enough, this little slope at the side of our home was our favorite sled riding spot. We could get enough of a start down this little bit of a hill to carry us to the back end of the yard, a distance of about 60 or 70 feet. Big Deal! We thought it was great, for there were very few hills in Culver.
My father paid $10 a month rent for the whole place and he had to do any painting that was done. He also had to provide the heat and the electricity when it became available in Culver. There was no gas, but we did have a telephone which was a hand-cranked affair with the bell-shaped receiver on the end of a two foot cord. The kids could not use the telephone unless they stood on a chair since it was mounted on the wall at an adult height.
My parents did not have a washing machine when they moved to Culver in 1911, but they did get by using a hand operated device on which a handle allowed you swish the clothes back and forth in the water without getting your hands wet. Dad always claimed he bought the first electric washing machine in Culver, and I see no reason to doubt his claim since he had two sets of twins born only 16 months apart and that made a lot of washing. The old hand-operated washer found its way down to the cellar where it sat in honorable retirement for many years.
I can remember that the electricity in Culver came from a small plant in Plymouth, Indiana which was owned by a man named Snowberger. It is strange how you can remember a name of no great importance for 75 years but cannot remember someone you met yesterday. The continuity of the electric service was far from being good, for there were many outages that lasted many hours. However it was much better than no electricity at all. We kept the old kerosene lamps filled with oil.
Visiting Grandpa Taylor
Kerosene lamps were the only means of light on Grandpa Taylor's farm for as long as I can remember. They did not have electricity on the farm until several years after he retired and uncle Byron took over the operation of the old homestead near Liberty Mills, Indiana.
Bob and I would spend two or three weeks each summer on the farm, and, in addition, we all had several visits to attend reunions, holidays, and so forth. Some of these visits were in the early spring when the sap was running in the many hard maple trees in the woods and Grandpa was making maple syrup. About 400 gallons of syrup were made each spring and that meant a lot of work since it took a barrel of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. The process was very simple--you just boiled the sap in a large evaporator until it became syrup. Grandpa used old railroad ties which he sawed into shorter pieces to fit the fire box of the evaporator. He obtained the ties from the railroad that ran through the farm by giving the foreman a couple gallons of syrup each summer. The syrup sold for $2.50 a gallon and provided a good source of income during the months when farm income was almost nonexistent.
Although Bob did not particularly like the farm life, I enjoyed the more-or-less isolation of being on the old farm which was located about a mile from the small town of Liberty Mills, Indiana. The farm also bordered on the Eel river and all of the boy cousins as well as Uncle Charles would go swimming as often as we wished, usually without swimming suits, since the woods was along both sides of the river. Uncle Charles was the youngest of my mother's brothers, being only ten years older than I was. The woods consisted of 26 acres of heavily wooded ground and was always fascinating to us since we were not used to exploring the dark damp forest of trees with a river so near.
The railroad that cut through the farm was a branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad and cut the land into two parts with the back part being accessible only by a narrow lane with a crossing into the woods. The lane started at the far side of the barn and had a gate at the railroad. There was also a gate on the woods side of the railroad. These gates prevented the stock from wandering onto the tracks.
The barn was originally a so called bank barn. This means the upper (second) level was reached by going up an earthen embankment while the lower (first) level was reached without going up or down. This design was best suited for land with a little slope, but many barns were built on flat ground. The upper level was used for storage of grain, hay, and farm implements while the lower level was used to house farm animals, such as horses, cattle, and hogs.
There was a very good water well at the old bank barn which was used to provide water for the stock as well as water for the people. In fact, when the water well at the house went bad, it was the only source of water for the house. We all carried many buckets of water from the barn to the house.
This first barn burned to the ground some time in 1923 and the fire insurance had unknowingly lapsed, so Grandpa had to come up with the money to build a new barn. To keep the cost down, he used lumber cut from his own woods and this meant the loss of some of the larger trees, including some of the hard maples. The new barn was not a bank barn and was built in the shape of an "L". It also had a galvanized steel roof instead of a slate one.
The house was old with porches on all four sides, although only two of the sides had complete porches. A two room addition had been built for Grandpa Taylor's mother and father, George W. and Elizabeth Taylor, and they lived with Grandpa and Grandma until their deaths.
I can still remember seeing my great-grandparents living in the two room addition, but frequently joining the family for eating in the kitchen and talking in the living room. There was no dining room. I can also remember their funerals.
Note: The second barn burned in 1948 and was rebuilt again by Uncle Byron who owned the farm at that time. I looked at the old farm on 11 June, 1991 and found that the house now has only a front and back porch and also has dormers added to the middle upstairs bedroom. Also the two room addition for the great-grandparents is gone. The entire house appears to be in a bad state of repair and needs painting urgently. All of the fences are gone as is the railroad, although the old right of way is still there, it has been allowed to grow up with brush and small trees.
Please remember in those days we lived a rather primitive life out on the farm, but we mostly enjoyed it as a welcome change from our so called city life. The farm had no electricity, no plumbing of any kind except the well, no TV, no radio, no sinks, no bath tub, no shower, and, of course, no power pump for the water. It also lacked any of the appliances normally associated with the kitchen including a power operated washing machine. Grandma had to send the laundry out to some woman who lived in relative ease in Liberty Mills to have it done. Grandpa delivered it and picked it up in his Model T Ford, since Grandma did not like to drive. Did I forget to mention that there was also no electricity, although there was a telephone? In fact, for a while they had two telephones, one for calling North Manchester and one for calling South Whitley.
Grandpa and Grandma Taylor were very religious people and believed in prayer. When we stayed with them on the farm we all would get down on our knees every night in the living room at bed time while Grandpa prayed to the Lord. He also said grace at every meal, without fail, and no one would start a meal where he was in attendance without asking him to say grace. They attended church regularly at The Church of God in South Whitley, Indiana every Sunday morning and Prayer Meeting every Sunday and Wednesday evening, using the old Model "T" Ford for transportation.
In those days on the farm the wheat, oats, and rye were harvested by means of a binder which cut the grain about five inches above the ground and tied it up in bundles called sheaves. A very coarse type of twine was used, hence, the term "binder twine". The sheaves were dropped off onto the ground where they were later stacked in shocks to dry before threshing. When the shocks had dried sufficiently in the sun, the local farmers would get together and hire a man or company that owned a threshing machine and a tractor big enough to tow the machine to the various farms in the group, as well as to run the threshing machine at each farm. There were usually about five or six farmers in a group and each farmer would bring a hay rack (a wagon to you city folks) and, of course, a team of horses to pull the hay rack. If a farmer had a very large crop to thresh, he would fumish two rigs. This group would go from farm to farm, gather up the sheaves and haul them to the threshing machine for threshing. At noon time the wives would prepare a huge dinner for all of the men in the group and these meals were something to behold--no one went back to work hungry.
One summer, when I was visiting with my grandparents on the farm, Grandpa became ill at threshing time and he could not find anyone to take his place on such short notice. I volunteered, even though I had never put a harness on a horse or hitched a team to a wagon. I went out to the barn, got the harness on the team (I thought) and hooked them up to the hay rack, and off to the field of one of the neighbors we went. For those of you that know very little about horses and harnesses, one of the important parts of a harness is the collar. While I was bringing in my first load, one of the horse collars fell off. This was a sort of a dilemma, since the collar is the first thing you put on and is almost impossible slip on the horse under the harness, especially when you are going up a little grade and the weight of the hay rack and load are pulling back on the harness. With the help of one of the farmers who knew what he was doing we managed to get things put back together and the balance of the day was uneventful. I even remember the names of the two horses--they were Bob and Maud. Thank the Lord, Grandpa was better the next day.
Sometimes my cousin Rex Luckinbill who was my Mother's sister's son, would come down from Elkhart, Indiana to Grandpa's farm at the same time that I was there. Also another cousin, Paul Taylor, would come down from Jackson, Michigan to be on the farm. Paul was my mother's brother's son. We were all about the same age and got along together quite well and really had some good times out on the old farm, We got to know every nook and cranny of the barn as well as of the woods.
Grandpa would only drive a Model "T" Ford since it did not have a gear shift transmission and used three pedals to work the planetary transmission. Sometimes one of old discarded Fords was still around back of the barn and we played in it and tried to get it to run. We even siphoned gas out of Grandpa's car one time and got the old car running--Rex was a pretty good mechanic. We drove it down the lane as far as the woods before it quit and after a little more tinkering we made it back to the barn. We were never able to get it to run again.
One summer Rex and I went to visit our Great Uncle Jim who was Grandma Taylor's brother. Uncle Jim lived in the small town of Bippus, Indiana and ran a junk yard there. We had an interesting few days there since he had lots of old junked cars on hand for us to play in and did not care what we did with them. We were never able to get any of them to run and I do not know what we would have done if one did start since there was no way to get them out of the junk yard. We did manage to remove a few of the magnets from the magneto of one of the Model "T" Fords to take home with us.
Quite frequently Uncle Charles and/or Aunt Dorothy would be at the farm and they always added a little more activity to the normally tranquil routine. Charles and Dorothy were Grandpa and Grandma's youngest children and you could almost always depend on a party, a reunion, or some sort of a trip when they were there.
Uncle Charles was only ten years older than I, and was also interested in radio and electronics and cars as well as many of the things that kids like us only dreamed about. I remember an air show in Cleveland that he took me to and how exciting it was to see all of the fast airplanes as well as trick flying that was presented. He also took me to a Hamfest at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana which really got me started in amateur radio as well as Purdue University. Uncle Charles and I both took the tests for our Radio Amateur Licenses at Fort Wayne, Indiana in May of 1933, and we both passed. His call sign was W9AXA and I received the call sign W9NNI. My call was changed to W8RZH when I settled in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. After the Second World War, it was changed to W3RZH when the Federal Communication Commission changed the call sign areas around a bit.
Uncle Charles and Aunt Dorothy were both raised on the farm near Liberty Mills, Indiana and knew many people, both in the area around the farm as well as in the Church. Thus people were coming to visit them or they were going to visit their friends more often. They both had spent some time in California and we never tired of hearing the stories of their adventures on the trip to and from, as well as their stay in California. To us, California was a wonderful place that we only dreamed about ever seeing, and someone who had actually been there always received our full attention. Life seemed much more simple in those days.
Back to Culver
When I was about five years old, and before we moved across the street to the apartment, my father decided that he wanted to visit his mother who was living with Aunt Lephia, my father's oldest sister, in West Virginia. We called our Grandmother Grandma Lee, since her last husband was a man named Jessie Lee. My father's father, Hampton Werner, was her first husband and died in 1885 when Pop was about three years old. Grandma Lee then married a Dr. Wesley D. Hansford in 1889 and he died in 1901 after being knocked from his horse while riding under a low limb. She then married Jessie Lee in 1904 and we do not know when or where Mr. Lee died.
Anyway, he took me along since I was not yet in school and I could ride for half fare on the train. Railroads were the best means of travel at that time since there were no airplanes to fly in and no one would attempt to drive an automobile that far. We didn't have a car and my father didn't know how to drive anyway. The train on which we were going to West Virginia was the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) and to board it we had to go to LaPaz, a small town about five miles north of Plymouth, Indiana. Never having taken a long overnight trip on a train before, I was really excited, especially since my Dad had reserved a berth for us. This was the ultimate way of traveling. OH BOY! The mountains and big rocks along the Railroad right-of-way were things that I had never seen before and the forests, rivers, and towns built on the sides of hills were all new and interesting to me also.
Aunt Lephia was married to man of Swedish extraction named Augustus Gustafson--we called him Uncle Gus, and he was a very nice gentleman. They had two sons, Karl, the oldest, now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and John who was lost at sea in World War 2. Uncle Gus met us at the Station.
In those days and for many years thereafter I had fancies about what I would like to be when I grew up. The two which I remember the most were, 1) a Railroad Engineer, and, 2) a Naval Officer. One of these childhood dreams I realized completely when I was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy on January 28, 1943.
I never did become a locomotive engineer but I did come close when I worked for The Union Switch and Signal Company in Swissvale, Pennsylvania. One of the products that Union Switch and Signal made for the railroads was an Inductive Train Communication system known as "ITC". Since part of the design and testing of the equipment required actual field installation and observation I had to ride on many locomotives, including almost all of the old steam, diesel and electric locomotives of the Pennsylvania Railroad. I also rode in the cabin cars (cabooses) of the freight trains. These rides covered the entire Pennsylvania Railroad system from Chicago and St. Louis to New York City and Washington, D. C. I didn't drive the locomotives but I did learn a lot about how they worked and what it took to keep them running.
In addition to running a Jewelry Store my father also repaired watches, clocks, and most everything else that people brought into his store, including opening safes when the owners forgot the combination. He also did piano tuning and repair work for many years. However, he never did much in the way of home repairs, believing that type of work should be left to trained workmen who knew what they were doing while he stayed with his watches, clocks, and pianos. He often said that he was sorry that he had to charge people for the repairs since he loved to do the work so much that he would gladly do them for nothing if he didn't have to make a living. Considering the low prices he charged for his work, he just about did do it for nothing.
My mother was an expert seamstress and loved to sew and quilt. For many years she made all types of dresses for the ladies in Culver and the wives of the officers at the Culver Military Academy. Although she (like my father) did not charge much, since she, too, loved that type of work. Her income did contribute some to the family cash flow which needed help occasionally. I can still see my mother cutting out pieces of cloth on the table and hear the sound of the scissors on the table top as the cloth was cut, and then fitting them together on an old form which was kept in her bedroom. She used an old second hand treadle type sewing machine to assemble the odd-shaped pieces into the completed dress. She spent endless hours over the quilting frame after she had spent weeks sewing the little patches together by hand. The results of all this work were many beautiful quilts, one of which we still have and which we prize very dearly. Later on she did get an electric motor for the old sewing machine.
Along about 1920 or 1921 my father decided it was time for a change to improve his business. To this end he rented a small store across the street in the next block which was in the actual "business district" in Culver.
The store that he rented was one-half of a standard sized store and actually consisted of about one-half of the front entrance of a theater that Mr. John Osborn was opening. This theater was built backwards with the screen in the front near the entrance and showed silent films only, since talking pictures had not yet been invented. John Osborn also owned three other two story buildings adjacent to the one that was converted into my Dad's new store and the theater.
The apartment above the theater also became available a few weeks later since Mr. Otto Stabenow, who was half owner of a clothing store next door, was building himself a new home and was moving out. Pop rented the apartment and we moved in as soon as possible. It was much bigger than the old house we had been living in and consisted of three bedrooms, a dining room, two living rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom with a tub and sink as well as the usual necessity. The front looked down to Main street and the back onto a large porch with steps down to the alley. There was also a ladder going from the back porch up to the almost flat roof of the apartment, and this proved to be very handy a few years later when I became interested in radio and wanted to put up antennae on the roof. Pop paid $35 a month rent for the store alone and had to furnish his own heat by installing a large furnace in the basement. This furnace also heated our apartment by means of a large duct in the back of the store that went straight up from the furnace in the basement. He also paid $15 a month rent for the apartment, making the total new rent now $50 a month compared to $10 a month which he was paying before. Living in the apartment was much better, and we even had doors on each bedroom for privacy. We also had a kitchen that was not part of the dining room. We were living in the lap of luxury.
The new store allowed Dad to have a show window on the street, and Mom always enjoyed fixing the display of jewelry in the window. Dad also had a clock, which was linked to the Naval Observatory by Western Union, in the window display.
Dad stayed in this same location for many years, some good and some lean until Mr. Osborn decided to enlarge the front of his theater to make it look like a conventional theater. He had already reversed the screen to the back where it should have been all the time. To make this screen shift meant that we lost about three fourths of our back porch, but we didn't mind since the projection booth was now just outside our back door. Bob and I found the projection booth to be a very interesting place. When Mr. Osborn enlarged the front of his theater he rented about a third of the apartment next to our apartment to Dad for his store.
This, of course, moved all of my Dad's activities up to the second floor and also eliminated the window clock and display. However, this was not as bad as it sounds, since the jewelry business had dropped off because of the larger stores in South Bend and Logansport. Dad's repair business actually increased, in spite of the stairs required to get up to the new location.
Pop had accumulated a large number of books over the years and had bought several oak book cases with glass fronts that lifted up and slid back over the books for easy access. Sally Ricciardi, my sister Mary's youngest daughter, still has these book cases and most of the Dad's books in Culver.
First Automobile in the Family
Neither my father nor mother knew how to drive a car, so we never had one, even though Dad did get a driver's license. A driver's license in those days in Indiana cost 50 cents and required no test of any kind. He actually tried driving after Mary bought Bob's 1929 Model "A" Ford roadster, but he did not care to drive and gave up after a couple of short runs. The rest of the family was glad when he gave up on the driving.
The Ford that Bob bought when he got out of High School and became a plumber's helper was tan in color with yellow wheels and a rumble seat. For you youngsters, a rumble seat is a small fold out seat in the back end of a roadster type automobile. When not in use it folds up into the sloping back of the car and looks like a trunk lid. The top of the car was made of canvas and folded down if you wanted a lot of sun and air. There were no windows. Plastic side curtains, stored in the rumble seat had to be attached when it started to rain or the weather became cold. Wow! What a car? Bob paid $450 for the Ford, brand new at A. R. McKesson's Dealership in Culver.
Bob didn't like the plumbing field, so he took his car and went to Chicago to look for more suitable employment. While he was there someone stole the Ford and stripped it of the battery, wheels, tires, and radiator cap. After the insurance company replaced the missing parts, he decided he did not need the car in Chicago and sold it to Mary and then went back to the big city to work.
Brother and Sisters Get Employment
Mary and Martha both graduated from High School in 1926 and then both went to International Business School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I do not remember how long they were in school in Fort Wayne, but it must have been close to a year before they returned to Culver. Martha took a job in the State Exchange Bank of Culver as the secretary to Will Osborn, the bank's cashier.
Mary went to work as stenographer at The Culver Military Academy where she stayed until Martha married Harold Robinson and they decided to start a family. Mr. Will Osborn, Martha's boss, always said he liked Martha's work so well that he hired her twin sister, Mary, when she quit to raise her family.
Bob and Ruth graduated from High School in 1928 and Ruth went into nurses training at St. Lukes Hospital in Chicago while Bob started out as a plumber's helper, as noted above. As for me: I started school when I was a little beyond six years old, in the fall of 1921, and progressed through elementary school without much trouble and without outstanding grades. In those days the elementary school was grades one through six, and, in Culver, it was located in and old eight room building on School Street (surprise). A much bigger building was built adjacent to the grade school, and was used as the High School. Grades seven and eight as well as the four grades of high school were in the new building.
Nothing outstanding happened during my school years except that I caught the smallpox at a basketball game in Plymouth and it went through the entire family except Robert and Ruth. I believe that was in 1926, and we were all quarantined for several weeks. We had plenty of time to catch up on our reading. None of us had been vaccinated for smallpox before that time.
On my 16th birthday I sent in for my driver's license at a cost of 50 cents, and, with no test of any kind being required at that time in Indiana, I have been driving ever since. I did have to take the theory part of the test when I moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania and applied for a Pennsylvania driver's license. I never have taken an actual driver's test, but, from what I hear and read, I may be required to take a driver's test sometime soon because of my age.
In 1931 Mary traded the Ford roadster in on a new Ford Model "A" sedan which made traveling much better, and I remember making several trips in the new car with our family as well as with my good friends from school, Wayne Kline and Ralph Osborn. The three of us were able to talk our way out of school to go on these "Educational Trips".
I remember the family trips quite well too. One of these trips was to Nashville, Tennessee. On this trip we went down through southern Indiana, across Kentucky into Tennessee with all three of my sisters. Mary and I shared the driving, and we all had a very good time. On another trip we went North through Michigan into Ontario, Canada around Lake Huron to Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York, and then back to Culver, Indiana. We stopped in Akron, Ohio on this trip to see the big dirigible "AKRON", still moored in its hangar. These trips were very exciting for we had never made such long journeys without the supervision of older people.
The trips with my friends from school were taken whenever we could talk the school superintendent and our folks into an "Educational" day off from school. We actually went to the Swift Packing House in Chicago, Purdue University Campus in West Lafayette, and the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, etc. I guess the trip to Purdue sold me on going there after I graduated from High School in Culver, for that is where I attended college for four years.
Although I took courses ending in a degree in Chemical Engineering, specializing in Metallurgy, I probably should have taken a courses leading to an electronics degree, since that is what I ended up doing after my training in the U.S. Navy. I decided on Chemical Engineering rather than Electronic Engineering because Electronics was a much smaller field and did not offer as many opportunities in those days as did the chemical option.
Although I had done rather well in High School, I found the transition to a first rate Engineering University to be more difficult than I had expected. Not only were the courses much more difficult, but you were entirely on your own with nobody to urge to study, to write that report or to read that chapter of the text. There was also much more competition from your classmates for most of them had ranked at or near the top of their High school classes. I did pretty good at Purdue, though, graduating with Distinction in June of 1937.
The greatest problem of a University education was not getting in or in passing the courses, but was how to pay for it. The tuition was $120 for a two semester year with about $40 or $50 a year for books, depending on how many second hand ones you could find and how many old used books the book store would accept in trade.
I lived in a rooming house with about 8 or ten other boys (no coed living in those days) with two of us to a room. I roomed with a boy named Myron T. Cory who was from Valparaiso, Indiana and we had one double bed and two study desks, along with a medium sized closet and a chest of drawers. The cost of the room was $7.50 per month for each of us. All of the boys boarded at the same house where the landlady, a Mrs. Young, served family style meals for $3.75 a week for twelve meals. We were on our own for breakfast and on Sunday. Remember, these were depression times and money was hard to come by.
The breakfasts were never missed since we hardly had time to get to our eight o'clock classes, let alone have time to eat breakfast. We would much rather have a few additional minutes of sleep in the morning than have a breakfast, in spite of the teachings of nutritionists that insist we all start the day with a good meal, especially after late night study sessions. On Sunday we feasted at one of the local restaurants where meals cost 25 to 35 cents with desert included. With these prices for tuition, books, and board and room, it was possible to obtain a rather inexpensive education. My entire four year Purdue education cost a total of $1500, not counting clothes and transportation. I had a county scholarship that amounted to $20 a year, which does not seem like much, but every little bit helped. It is surprising what twenty bucks means when you seldom had any folding money in your pocket. The few times that I did have folding money in my pocket, I was very conscious of the fact that I had a dollar or two of uncommitted funds available. Although the county scholarship was supposed to be for only one year, I also received it for the second year since no one else wanted it.
During my Junior and Senior years I was able to get a part time job building special equipment in one of the laboratories. I remember one of the jobs given to me was to drill a series of holes in the sides of a bread toaster for the professor in charge of the Lab, because both he and his wife liked dry toast. The holes were supposed to allow the moisture to escape more easily. I believe I was able to earn $25 to $30 a month at this job, which improved the cash flow considerably.
Most of the classes started at eight o'clock in the morning and lasted for 50 minutes. The next classes started at nine o'clock with the interval of ten minutes to be used in going from one class to the next. Sometimes that meant rushing a little, especially if they were on opposite sides of the campus. This went on until noon and at one o'clock the three hour laboratory classes began.
With all of the money which I was earning from my part time job I bought what a young man dreams about, a "supped up" Model "T" Ford, with over head valves, a drilled crankshaft for lubrication of the bearings, a Chevy steering system, and a down draft carburetor. It also had an impulse magneto ignition system. These specifications may not mean much in this day and age, but back then, this was the way to make an old low performance vehicle into a high performance car. The car cost me the large sum of $10. The going price of an old Model "T" Ford was $5 at that time. I kept this car until the beginning of my Senior year. The car had a cracked block so I sold it for $15. However, I must say that I had a lot of fun with the old Ford and I hated to give it up, even though the cracked block meant leaking water all the time and was impossible to repair.
During the years before college and during college one of my best friends was Carl Busart. His father and uncle owned the Busart Gravel Pit, most of which had been closed, but still did produce a small amount gravel. Carl was also a licensed amateur operator as well as a commercial operator with a First Class Phone license.
Carl had spent some time in New Mexico at a small radio station in Roswell. He later held the same type job at a broadcast station in Indianapolis, Indiana. We always had a good time building and using our Ham equipment, especially when we were able to actually talk to some other Ham operator. We were exclusively CW (Morse code) operators at that time since neither of us could afford the much more expensive equipment for phone operation.
There were two other boys who were interested in radio, Ray Kline and Joe Edwards. Many times the four of us would get together and work on our radio equipment, and sometimes we were able to make some of it work. Both Carl and Joe are now deceased.
Ray Kline went on to become the owner of the radio and TV store in Culver and owns a very nice home on the shore of Lake Maxinkuckee at the south end of the lake. He spends the summers in Culver and the winters at Fort Pierce, Florida.
Both Ray and Joe were a few years younger than I, and Carl was a few years older than I, but in the radio game, age seems to make no difference at all. We still keep in touch with Ray and his wife Daralys, and we sometimes get together to hash over the old times.
Bethlehem Steel Company
At the end of my senior year at Purdue, prior to graduation, several Companies came to the campus to interview the seniors for possible employment, primarily engineers. The Bethlehem Steel Company offered me a job at $125 per month and I accepted. The highest paid Engineering graduate in my Chemical Engineering class was $135 per month and only one or two were able to come up with that much. Times were still hard in spite of President Roosevelt's "New Deal."
I was supposed to report for work on July 1, 1937 at the main plant of Bethlehem Steel at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and having no car at that time, Ray Kline offered his Model "A" Ford, a 1929 model. Ray and myself, along with Joe Edwards packed our bags, checked the little money we had, and left Culver a week early, going to Washington, D.C., then Philadelphia, and New York City before returning to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and my first real job. While we were in Washington, D.C, Ray decided to run all the way to the top of Washington's Monument. Joe Edwards and I walked up the steps only to find Ray passed out in a wheel chair at the top. He finally came around and seemed to be in good shape, but we did ride down in the elevator.
The car caught fire in New Jersey and we had to throw sand into the carburetor to put it out. This did not have any effect on the operation of the engine, so we continued on our way. The headlights on Ray's old car were so poor that we tried to use a hand held spot light to help see where we were going (no offense, Ray). Some cop in New Jersey stopped us to tell us we were not allowed to have spot light in operation while we were moving along a state highway. Before we came to a complete stop we hid the hand held light under the seat, but I do not believe we fooled the cop. He only told us not do it again, and we didn't.
When I reported to the main plant of The Bethlehem Steel Company I became a "Looper". There were over one hundred of us starting as "Loopers" that year. We were really in a training course where you worked in different departments of the steel mill for a couple weeks each to gain a little experience in most of the aspects of steel making. As I recall it, the various departments at that time were as follows: The Blast Furnace where the iron ore is made into pig iron, the Open Hearth where the pig iron is made into steel, the Bessemer Converter, also where pig iron is made into steel, the soaking pits, where the large ingots of steel are reheated to the proper rolling temperature, and the machine shop where large ingots of steel are machined into several large pieces of equipment such as Naval guns and Steam Power Plant turbines and generators.
After about four months of this "Looper" work, we were all assigned to work in the various plants of Bethlehem Steel, including the coal mining division. We were told to pick out the plant we wanted and if there was an opening at that plant we would be assigned there. I was sent to the Cambria Plant in Johnstown, Pennsylvania where I started out in the Metallurgy Department, and then, after spending a short time in all of the various departments of the Cambria plant, I ended up in the Rod and Wire Mill. I became the assistant foreman of the annealing section.
It was here that I met Larry Blawn who was one of the turn foremen under me. In the steel making business, as in many other manufacturing activities, the plants are operated on a twenty-four hour basis, sometimes, seven days a week. This, of course, depends upon whether the furnaces can be shut down and be reheated without damage and how long it took to do this type of procedure. It was best that my annealing department would be kept running continuously even though that was not possible all of the time since the demand for wire products was not always constant.
The steel that we received at the Rod and Wire Mill came as billets about two inches square and about twenty feet long. We had a belt driven continuous rolling mill that rolled these billets, after they were heated to a red heat, down to a round rod 1/2 or 1/4 inch in diameter, depending upon the size of the final wire product. Many times these rods, which were in the form of large coils, had to be unwound and run through the annealing furnace to soften them for drawing through the wire dies to the smaller wire sizes. The process of drawing the steel through the dies hardens the steel, again depending on the type of steel and how much reduction in size is involved, and may require a second annealing pass through the furnace before it can be drawn down to a finished product. The annealed wire or rod must be cooled slowly to keep it soft for subsequent drawing.
After the Loopers had worked a year the Bethlehem Steel Company cut our salaries to $110 a month, blaming the recession of 1937 for the necessity of doing so. After the second year they raised us back up to $125 per month. I thought that I was not getting anywhere at the Rod and Wire Mill, and decided to try something else. I left Bethlehem Steel in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and took a job with U.S. Steel in Gary, Indiana. Gary, Indiana was a poor place to live, and even though I was nearer to my home in Culver, I still had ties in Johnstown and in the spring of 1940 went back to work for Bethlehem Steel at the Cambria plant, this time as a metallurgist in the Open Hearth Division. The Open Hearth Division is at the other end of the Cambria Plant which is built along the Conemaugh River for a distance of approximately seven and one half
miles. This is the river down which the devastating flood of 1889 came, killing over 2000 people, and some of the older buildings still have signs showing how high the water was in that flood, as well as the flood of 1937.
One John E. Werner Meets One Doris Hughes
While I was still working at the Rod and Wire Mill, I met a man by the name of Bill Young--he worked in the office-- and it just happened that he had married a widow named Ruggie McCreary. It also just happened that Ruggie's first husband, who had died several years earlier, was Lanny McCreary. Lanny McCreary had a sister who just, again, happened to be Roberta Hughes. Now you see where I am leading you.
When Bill Young and his wife Ruggie heard that I did not have a girl friend they said that they knew a wonderful and beautiful girl with a loving disposition named DORIS HUGHES. She was Roberta Hughes' sister-in-law and was not yet attached..
The result of this, at the insistence of Bill Young and Ruggie, was that I came to Etna, Pennsylvania to see Roberta and her husband, Clinton Hughes, who was Doris' older brother. When I arrived on Saturday afternoon, December 14, 1940, I found that Doris, being the energetic girl that she was, was working at the Etna Murphy's 5 & 10 cent store.
Clinton took me down to the Murphy's store and introduced us. I asked her to go out with me but she turned me down since (she said) that she had a date with her brother Ira to go to dancing school. I still wonder about that excuse. However, all was not lost, for she did go out with me the next day and I believe we went to a movie, probably the old Etna Theater. This relationship soon developed into a fine romance and we were married in the Elfinwild UP Church in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania on January 29, 1943.
Now back to the story: A lot of water had to flow over the dam (or under the bridge) before we could be married. I still did not see my future to be in the steel mills, even though their business was picking up because of President Roosevelt's War efforts. The working conditions were not the best in the mills, for it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and dirty all the time.
I had put in an application for a position with the U.S. Naval Inspection Service and when they offered me a position on December 16, 1940, I took it. This job moved me to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since I would be working out of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. I inspected various materials in the Philadelphia area for two or three weeks and then on about January 15, 1941, I was sent out to the Standard Steel Company in Burnham, Pennsylvania to check some castings and forgings they were producing for the Navy.
U. S. Navy Reserve
Before I go into what happened next, we must go back to the time of my first arrival in Johnstown, Pennsylvania back in 1937. Since I did not know anyone in Johnstown and I could not easily set up my amateur radio station in a rooming house, I was somewhat at a loss as what to do with my leisure time in a strange city. One day when I was in a radio parts store, I happened to meet a fellow named Bob Dixon who just happened to also be an amateur operator. It turned out that he invited me out to his home for dinner and to show me his amateur radio equipment.
It also turned out that he was a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve Unit in Johnstown, and he urged me to join the Navy Reserve Unit. I did join and received a rating of Radioman 3rd Class because I did have a valid Amateur license. I went to Pittsburgh to take the physical examination and passed with no problems. My enlistment started on May 19, 1938. What I did not know at that time was that I had all of the qualifications to apply for a commission in the Navy Reserves. With all due respect to Bob Dixon, I do not believe that he knew that it was possible to request such a thing at that time.
The complete name of the Unit which I joined was The Naval Communication Reserve of Johnstown, Pennsylvania and there were only about ten or twelve members in the organization and we met in the old Post Office building in downtown Johnstown. We had some old Navy radio equipment to work with at the weekly meetings, but I do not remember having any field days or actual drills. We were issued uniforms (which later turned out to be extremely old), but we seldom, if ever wore them. In other words it was a very loosely knit outfit with very little participation required, and very little given. Since very little was required, attendance at the meetings was usually about four or five individuals. Oh yes, I almost forgot, I was also issued an I.D. card showing when I had enlisted and for how long (three years).
Now back to the Standard Steel Company in Burnham, Pennsylvania. When I left Johnstown to take the Inspection job with the Navy, I did not give any thought to not being able to attend the Reserve meetings. Bob Dixon knew that I was leaving, so I did not notify the Naval reserve people in Philadelphia of any changes, thinking that when my enlistment expired, I would not sign up again, and that would be the end of my association with the Navy. Was I ever in for a big surprise?
I was working out of the Resident Inspector's Office in Burnham and was living at the local YMCA since I was only there on a temporary basis. These constant moves from place to place were part of the indoctrination of new Inspectors, and did give us a lot of good experience. I had my mail forwarded to General Delivery in Burnham but I did not bother to collect it every day since there was very little mail for me in those days.
To the best of my knowledge, it was on the evening of January 28, that I received the letter which was to change my life forever. The letter was from the 4th Naval District in Philadelphia, ordering me to active duty in the Navy with a one way first class railroad ticket from Johnstown to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The letter had been delayed since I had moved several times since leaving Johnstown and I did not know it was necessary to keep 4th Naval District advised of my addresses. I was to report for duty at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on January 31, 1941--that left me just one day to find out if I really had to go, and, if I did, to get ready to go. I could do nothing that night because all of the Inspection offices would be closed and I had no idea who to contact in the Naval Reserve. The letter came as quite a shock, especially with so little time to get ready for whatever was in store for me.
The first thing on the morning of January 29, 1941 I gave the letter to the Resident Inspector in charge of the Burnham Office and he immediately called the Chief Inspector in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He said he would contact the 4th Naval District and find out if my orders could be canceled or some way changed to allow me to continue in the Inspection Division.
We waited about six hours for the wheels in the Navy Yard to grind and then we received the call that sent me back to Johnstown to get ready to leave for active duty in the U.S. Navy. The 4th Naval district had decided that I would be more valuable to the Navy on an active duty status than as an Inspector, and that I must report without delay as ordered.
Now what to do? I had a lot of gear, actually a whole car full, consisting of radio equipment, several old guns which I had collected, and a lot of civilian clothes as well as the old Navy uniform which had been issued to me. I also was driving a relatively new Ford which was only partly paid for. There were many payments left and there was no way I could meet them on my $60 per month salary in the Navy, even if I could find some way to use a car after I went to sea.
The only thing I could think of was to drive back to Johnstown and unload all of the equipment on Bob Dixon, since I felt that he was the one who got me into the Reserves. I would ask him to box it and ship to my folks in Culver, Indiana. I had no idea that my folks would have that equipment for almost five years.
The waiting for word from Philadelphia had taken a long time, and then I had to go through the formality of leaving my job with the Inspection Service. There just was not time to get to Johnstown that day, let alone to Glenshaw to see Doris before I had to leave. This upset me but what was I supposed to do?
Early on the morning of January 30, 1941 I drove to Johnstown, and, after calling, I went straight to Bob Dixon's home and explained in more detail what was going on. He agreed to help me out and, after unloading all of the gear that I had, except my uniform, underwear, and personal items, I packed a small bag with the few things which I thought I might need, and drove over to the Ford dealer at which I had purchased my car a few months ago. After a short discussion, he gave me a credit slip for $340 toward a new car at some undetermined date in the future. It was the best deal I could make since I did not need the car--in fact, I had no idea what I would do with a car after I went into the active duty status. Besides, I could not make the payments on my $60 a month salary. At least, I had a start on a car when I my hitch in the Navy was over. I also knew that I could not pay the storage costs, even if I could make the payments. The dealer had me between a rock and a hard place, and he knew it.
About all that was left to do then was to get to the Train Station in Johnstown and check the schedules of trains to Philadelphia, since I had to report the next day, January 31, 1941. After that? There was, of course, no way that I could get to Pittsburgh (Glenshaw) to see Doris. The best that I could do was to call her on the phone, which I did, and needless to say, we were not the happiest couple in the world that evening.
After checking my bag to make sure I had a complete uniform, I boarded the train at about eleven o'clock PM with a very heavy heart. I had wanted to see Doris, but could not, and I knew nothing about what I was getting into. I had never seen a Navy Ship, and of course I had never been aboard one. I was soon to learn what the U.S. Navy was all about.
My ticket was First Class, so I did have a berth for the ride to Philadelphia. The train arrived in Philadelphia early in the morning of January 31,1941, and dressed in my Navy blue uniform, I made my way down Broad Street via the Subway and the Street Car to the Navy Yard and my new life. My uniform had the insignia of a 3rd Class Radioman, with a blue cap that had a band saying U. S Navy.
Reporting For Duty at Philadelphia Navy Yard
I stopped at the gate to show the Marine Guard my orders to active duty, and with definite look of superiority and disdain, he asked me where I had obtained my uniform and why I was not dressed in the uniform of the day. I explained to him that the uniform was issued to me and that I had no way of knowing what the uniform of the day was since I was reporting for active duty from Johnstown, Pennsylvania and there was no way I could know what uniform I was supposed to wear at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. I did not tell him that I had never heard of the term "Uniform of the Day" for he already thought I was pretty dumb about Navy things. And I really was. It turned out that I was supposed to be wearing the white hat. The Marine Guard's comment about the origin of my uniform was caused by the very antique design of my jacket--it had two extra pockets that were no longer put into the new jackets; since about the time of the First World War, I suspect.
He waved me in with look of concern about how hard up the Navy was for new recruits, and just as I walked through the big gate to the Navy Yard, I found a Color Guard raising the U.S. Flag on what was apparently the main flag pole in that area. Everyone was standing at attention and saluting the Flag as it was being raised. I immediately made the correct decision to do likewise, hoping to avoid another confrontation with a Marine Guard or with one of the Navy People in the area. Really though, I wanted to show my respect for the Flag of my country which I was now going to defend, even though I was not doing it voluntarily. I had mixed emotions, at that time, about what contributions I would be making to that defense.
When I finally found the correct building to which I was directed to report by the Marine guard, I gave the enlisted Yoeman on duty my orders. He directed me to the clothing supply store where I was issued additional uniforms, Navy underwear, socks, hats, and even a pair of shoes. We each (and there were 40 or 50 new recruits in the group) were also issued a galvanized bucket, and upon inquiry, I was told that we were supposed to do our laundry in the bucket, if there was no laundry at the activity to which we might be assigned. We each got a Navy mattress, a pillow, two sheets, a nice blanket, and, of course a hammock with all of the appropriate rings, hooks, and ropes that go with a hammock. I never used the hammock and after a year or so I discarded it. I almost forgot; we also were given a sea bag. For the land rubbers, a sea bag is a sturdy canvas bag about one foot in diameter and three feet high with a draw rope at the top for closure purposes. With proper Navy folding and compacting, we were told all of our clothes would fit into the sea bag. They never did--I guess that I never learned the Navy way of folding and compacting.
The afternoon of the same day I arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, we departed for what turned out to be a Radio, Morse code, and Navy Communications School located in the Navy Base at Norfolk, Virginia. We were taken by bus to Baltimore, Maryland where we were put aboard a Ferry boat for ride down Chesapeake Bay to our destination at the Norfolk Navy Base. This took all night.
We reported to The Navy Training Station for a course of training that lasted about five or six weeks. This course also included a typing class on the Navy version of a typewriter. These machines had only capital letters and numbers as well as the usual punctuation marks. In the Navy they were known as Mills to differentiate them from conventional typewriters. In spite of the Navy's training school, I never learned to type with more than two fingers.
While we were still at the Norfolk Training School, we were granted a 72 hour leave over a week end. I do not remember which week end it was, but it turned out to be the only leave we would get before shipping out. I, of course, came back to Pittsburgh to see Doris, using buses to make the trip. It was necessary to change buses in Washington, D.C., both coming and going and everything worked out really well except that I caught a bad cold.
On the return trip I had a long lay over in Washington, D.C., so I called my cousin Henry Bradford and he picked me up at the Bus Station and we all had dinner together with his family at their home. I had known Cousin Henry for a long time since I had visited him and his family several times during the time that I lived in Johnstown. He was also interested in radio and electronics and we always had a lot to talk about.
My cold was not improving any, in fact it was getting worse, so Heruy said I should check into the Navy Hospital in Washington, D.C. for treatment. It turned out that I had a bad case of the Flu which the Navy called Cat Fever, and they would not let me travel back to Norfolk in my condition. I told them to be sure to notify the Training Center in Norfolk that I was in the Hospital and could not make it back before the expiration of my 72 hour leave. If they did not notify the Training Center, I would be considered AWOL and that was not the manner in which I wanted to start my Naval service.
I had to stay in the Hospital for about three days and when I finally got back, I found that I was marked up as being AWOL, since the Hospital had failed to notify the Training Center where I was. Fortunately I had papers from the Hospital with their diagnosis of my illness, their treatment, as well as the time and date that I checked in and out of the facility in Washington, D.C. This proved where I had been, even to a doubting 1st Class Boatswain Mate who was in charge of our section.
About this time I noticed a bulletin which had been posted in our barracks asking for recruits to go to Midshipmen's School for Officer training. I believed I had all of the requirements that were mentioned in the notice, therefore I decided to apply for this duty. Among the requirements needed was a transcript of your college education, recommendations of three people from your home town, not yet 28 years of age, and be able to pass the required physical examination.
U. S. S. Quincy
I wrote to Purdue University for the transcript of my record and to three people in Culver (friends, of course) for their recommendations. I also wrote to Marshall County, Indiana for a copy of my birth certificate, for proof of my age. I did not want to screw up the chances I had with a lack of proper information. Unfortunately for me, things got screwed up anyway, because none of the information arrived before I shipped out to sea on the U.S.S. Quincy, CA 39, a Heavy Cruiser of 10,000 tons displacement. There were about five or six of the class assigned to the Quincy out of a total 50.
It was a very traumatic experience for a land-lubber like me to find oneself aboard a Warship at sea, and I did not know what to expect. Life aboard ship is far different than being at a Navy Base ashore, or working as civilian for the Navy.
Being a reserve Sailor with no sea experience and, in reality, not being able to do the work which I was supposed to able to do, made the change even more difficult. For instance; there were several regular Navy Seamen First Class, the rate just below 3rd Class Petty Officer, who were more than qualified to be promoted to 3rd Class Radioman (my rate), who could not be promoted because the Quincy had its full compliment of radiomen 3rd class. Many of these rates were filled with the Reserves such as myself, and this caused a lot ill will between the regular Navy people and the reserve people. Remember, this was still officially a peace time Navy and no one could advance unless there was an opening in their particular specialty aboard the ship on which they were serving. Later, after the War started, these people were rated as soon as they qualified and were then transferred to new construction or other activities. A few extra rates on board didn't make any difference then. This eased the tension between the regular Navy and the reserve, although there always seemed to be a sense of superiority of the regular guys over the reserves.
I soon realized that copying code on a Mill was not what I wanted in the Navy, so I inquired if there was a possibility of changing my rate to 3rd Class Electrician Mate.
Apparently such changes seldom occur, but I wrote the letter to the Bureau of Naval Personnel and in a few weeks the change came through. I did have to take the proper test for the rating, but that proved to be no problem. However, there was one other requirement which was that I had to serve as a Fireman in the Boiler Rooms of the ship. This was necessary since I was now part of the Engineering Section instead of the Deck Section to which Radiomen belong. I was assigned to one of the four boiler rooms and had the job of turning on the oil to the various oil burners in one of the big steam boilers, there being two boilers in each Boiler Room. As near as I can remember there were about 15 burners in each boiler, and upon a signal from the Chief Watertender, the Fireman would open one burner at a time, or, as the case might be, turn off one burner at a time.
The Chief Watertender watched the steam pressure gauge to determine whether more or fewer burners were needed. He also had a signal from the bridge which enabled him to monitor the signals sent to the Engine Room from the Captain or the Officer of the deck. These signals from the Bridge to the Engine Room were directives on the desired speed of the ship, such as half speed, full speed, or even full reverse. The Chief Watertender, knowing more speed required more steam, would anticipate this need and signal for more burners before the pressure actually began to drop,
There was also a First Class Watertender in charge of the feed water to the boilers. His job was to keep the water level in the boilers at or near the proper level by means of a big hand operated valve and a water gauge for each of the two boilers. He would be in deep trouble if he allowed a boiler to run dry or allowed a slug of water to get into the steam line going to the turbines in the Engine Room.
Entrance to the Boiler Rooms was through a double door system because they were pressurized by two small steam powered turbo fans blowing outside air into the boiler rooms. This allowed pressurized air to enter the boilers for efficient combustion. It also helped to keep us cool in the summer and when it was cold outside there was always enough heat from the burners to keep us warm.
After a few weeks as a Fireman, I took the test for Electrician Mate 3rd Class and was rated at once. I then no longer had the Boiler Room duty and went into the Interior Communication Section, also known as the IC Section. The IC section had charge of the maintenance of the dial telephone system, the sound powered telephone system, as well as the Bridge to Engine Room and Boiler Room signaling system. We were also involved with Amplidynes used in the ship's electrically powered steering system. In an emergency we could be called to work on anything electrical, and I suppose anything else that needed to be done if the ship was really in danger. The Gyro Compass and repeaters were ours also. I almost forgot, we kept the P.A. System operating, too.
The material that I needed for admission to Midshipman's School finally all arrived and I was now ready to start and, after double checking it, I took it all to the Engineering Officer who was my immediate superior, Lt. Commander Elmore. We discussed the possibility of me, a lowly 3rd Class Flectrician's Mate, becoming a commissioned Officer and other relevant matters concerning my work in the IC Section. He agreed that I should go ahead and write the letter to the Bureau of Naval Personnel and bring it to him for endorsement and forwarding up through the chain of command aboard the U.S. S. Quincy.
This chain of command consisted of the Engineering Officer, the Executive Officer, and finally the Captain. None of these Officers could, if they obeyed Navy regulations, stop my letter from going to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, but they did have a right to disapprove what I was asking for. You can imagine what would happen to any request that was disapproved by your Division Officer when it advanced to the Executive Officer's desk--it would be disapproved there also. The same thing would happen when it finally arrived on the Captain's desk. I realized the battle was not yet won, but I had high hopes, anyway, for he had said he would approve it.
The chances of the Bureau of Naval Personnel approving a request of an enlisted man which had been disapproved by anyone in the chain of command was, for all practical purposes, non-existent. Again, my superior Officers could not stop my request, but they could make sure that it would not be finally acted upon positively.
I waited for what seemed an eternity for an answer to my request for Midshipman's School and finally I went back to Lt. Commander Elmore to inquire about what may have happened to the letter. His answer was that he had forgotten to tell me he had decided to disapprove my request, and that I should know it would be wasted effort to send it through without his approval. I knew this to be true, but I did get up enough courage to ask why he disapproved. He said that he didn't believe the Navy wanted Officers with crooked noses. Exhibiting even more courage, I suggested that it was something the Doctors who would be giving me the physical, or even the people at the Midshipmen's School should decide.
We talked for a while and, surprisingly, he changed his mind and told me to get a new letter typed with the correct date and he would approve it and send it on. Now things were finally moving along and I could see myself in the Ensign's uniform with one inch gold stripe on each sleeve. Was I wrong? You bet your life I was.
The same thing happened again--after a long wait, he told me I was too valuable in the work which I was doing and he could not approve anything that would mean that I would be leaving the Quincy. This was my reward, I thought, for doing a good job as a 3rd Class Electrician's Mate. I asked for my letter and the other documents and he returned them to me, and with much sadness in my heart, I came to the conclusion there was not much I could do at that time to obtain approval of my request.
However, time has a way of healing one's feelings, and after a few weeks I took the test for 2nd Class Electrician's Mate and was promptly rated again. These tests were not difficult for me, and I soon asked for the 1st Class test. They turned me down on this request, saying I should wait a little longer in my 2nd Class rating before taking the next test.
Now to back track a little. With all of the confusion in trying to obtain permission to go to Midshipmen's School, I have neglected to mention what we were doing and where we were on the U.S. S. Quincy.
As near as I can remember, our first voyage was to Bermuda and from there we cruised on to Puerto Rico for a little gunnery practice--after all, we were a warship. We didn't actually shoot at Puerto Rico, instead, we fired at a small Island just east of Puerto Rico. This was my first experience with the actual firing of the eight inch guns of the main battery and you soon realized that this meant we were not playing any longer. President Roosevelt was getting us ready for something other than just cruising around.
The next port of call, after a short stop at Norfolk, was Iceland. To get to Iceland required going through the storms and heavy seas of the North Atlantic Ocean. Upon leaving Iceland we headed out through the rough North Atlantic again, ending our stormy trip in Boston, Massachusetts for some repairs and modifications since the North Atlantic had been pretty rough on the U.S.S. Quincy. We then went to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for more extensive repairs. It seemed as though the ship was in need of a lot of updating, and this could not be done in the Boston Navy Yard.
After leaving the Brooklyn Navy Yard we made a short stop at Norfolk, (Our home port, I found out) and back to Bermuda again. Why Bermuda, I never found out, but the weather was nice there. The next port of call was Halifax, Nova Scotia where we picked up the U.S.S. America, a large troop ship, loaded with 10,000 British Troops. Remember, this was before the United States was officially at war. Pearl Harbor had not yet happened, for this was in November, 1941. The U. S. S. Quincy, along with the U. S. S. Vincennes and no other ships, escorted the U.S.S. America to Cape Town, South Africa where the Royal British Navy took over the escorting duties. We understood the troops were headed to the North African Front via the Red Sea. The shorter route through the Mediterranean Sea was evidently too dangerous to use at that time.
We took a zig-zag course on the way down and we were on a full war time Procedure, including General Quarters every morning, one-half hour before dawn, and every evening, one-half hour before dusk. In addition, since we were crossing time zones in a west to east direction, both day and night, dawn came very early most of the time. The Captain decided to keep changing the clock each day so that dawn came at the same time every morning. Fortunately, the German U-boats did not find us, for if they had, our ships, including the one I was on, would have been legitimate targets for sinking since we definitely were not acting as a neutral nation.
We were just a few days out of Cape Town on a Monday morning, 8 Dec. 1941, and having been awakened to go to the routine General Quarters one-half hour before dawn, the entire crew found out, for the first time, that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. We always grabbed a copy of the one or two page news sheet that was put by the radio room on our way to our GQ stations, and on this morning it contained the news about the attack on Pearl Harbor. We were east of the Greenwich meridian and it was already Monday where we were located. I remember reading that Nevada had been bombed and wondering why Japan would bomb such a place, not realizing that it was the Battleship Nevada and not the state of Nevada.
Actually, the start of the War made very little change in the routine of the ship since we had been on a full war time basis for a long time. In fact the Captain had canceled the initiation of the Polywogs when we crossed the Equator on the way to Cape Town and it turned out that we didn't have that little party on the way back, either. I am still a Polywog
We were granted liberty in Cape Town and I went ashore along with several other members of the crew. It seemed very strange to see Christmas decorations everywhere in the middle of summer, but that is the way it is south of the Equator. We managed to find a half decent meal to eat, but there was not much else to do since we were supposed to stay in the downtown area.
After what seemed like a short time in the port of Cape Town, the Quincy and the Vincennes sailed again, but, this time, there was no zig-zaging; we definitely were looking for German submarines or warships and any cargo ships which might be carrying war supplies to the enemy. We did find one Freighter which we stopped for inspection. The Quincy sent a boarding party over in a whale boat to check out what she was carrying, and it apparently was only an old Dutch registered ship with no war cargo aboard. We didn't have to sink the ship.
The commanding Officers of Naval ships are very cognizant of their ranking with respect to other Commanding Officers of the same rank. It just happened that the Captain of the U.S.S. Quincy was superior to the Captain of the U.S.S. Vincennes as determined by their serial numbers. This meant that the Quincy would always be the lead ship, with the Vincennes following behind. On this return trip from Cape Town our Captain came down with the flu and was confined to his cabin by the ship's doctor. As soon as the Captain of the Vincennes found out about our skipper, she speeded up and swung around in front to lead the two ships. When our Captain recovered, the Quincy again led the two ships. This may seem unimportant to you land-lubbers, but to these Naval Officers, such things are very important, indeed.
Although we went to general quarters each time we sighted another vessel of any kind, they all were easily identified as friendly without boarding. Our Christmas morning church services were interrupted so many times with calls to general quarters that the Chaplain had to cancel the services until the next day. We made it through the Christmas service the day after Christmas.
After a couple of weeks we made it back to the Brooklyn Navy Yard with all of the Polywogs still Polywogs. However, the old Shellbacks, as the properly initiated were named, had promised to hold our party when we returned to port in the United States. Since it was the middle of winter in Brooklyn and quite cold, and the initiation process involved a dip in a pool of water set up on the hanger deck, we Polywogs were not looking forward to all of this so-called fun. We did not have to worry for the Shellbacks never had the opportunity to have their little party. Presumably because of all of the intense Yard work on board the Quincy.
Guess where we went next; back to Iceland where it is cold in the summer time. The North Atlantic greeted us with its usual 30 foot waves and 50 foot swells and what does our Captain do? He volunteers the U.S.S. Quincy to look for the German pocket Battleship Von Terpitz--oh boy, things were getting really exciting. If we met up with the Von Terpitz, the Quincy would have been at the bottom of the North Atlantic instead of the bottom of the South Pacific. Anyway, we did not find the Von Terpitz, but in the process of searching we cruised north of the Arctic Circle. The entire crew became members of the Blue Nose Society and we each received a certificate to that effect. Unfortunately, I left my Blue Nose certificate on the Quincy and, presumably, it went down with the ship in the South Pacific. It goes without saying that it was so cold and windy that the entire ship became covered with ice and snow, and we still kept going north until we encountered the pack ice. The Captain finally decided it would be foolish to risk becoming trapped in the ice in what was turning out to be a futile, but lucky for us, attempt to locate the Von Terpitz. We turned back and stopped at Iceland for only a short stay before heading back across the stormy North Atlantic for home and some repairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
On this return trip the U.S.S. Quincy was joined by an old World War I Battleship and a couple of Destroyers. Having these other warships along gave us all a better feeling of security since the Destroyers could better handle the U-boats while the Battleship could take care any surface vessel (We hoped).
On this trip back to the States we encountered no end of submarine alerts, but no surface vessels. On the Quincy we even developed a special bugle call for the submarine alert which was a little different than the bugle call for general quarters since the main battery of nine eight-inch guns could not be depressed enough to shoot at the relatively close range of a U-boat. There was no necessity to man these guns for a submarine alert, although they were manned for the morning and evening GQ's. I never saw a submarine nor a torpedo although I talked with several crew members who saw, or thought they saw, torpedoes crossing the bow of the ship. They could have easily seen many things that I could not see since most of my duty was below deck on normal times, and was in the I.C. Room during general quarters as well as during submarine alerts.
This trip confirmed my belief that the North Atlantic is a continuous, never ending storm, for we encountered heavy weather until we neared the good old U.S.A. In fact the Quincy was buffeted around so much that she developed very serious cracks in the hull and was in danger actually of breaking up. We did not break up, I am pleased to report, but it did get us a stay of several weeks in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which, of course, made the crew very happy, and, as it turned out, saved my life.
During this return trip I actually saw all four the Battleship's screws out of the water many times as she topped the many swells and headed into valleys between the swells. The Battleship was assigned the position directly ahead of the Quincy and was easy to observe from the deck of our ship.
The Captain decided to stop at the Boston Navy Yard first since it was closer than Brooklyn but the repairs needed proved to be so extensive that they could not be done in Boston, so we went on to Brooklyn anyway. Just before we arrived in Boston we had one of our many submarine alerts, only this time the two destroyers were not close to the presumed location of the U-boat. Guess who was closest? You guessed correctly, it was the Quincy, and, of course, our skipper volunteered to take care of the situation.
It just happened that several 600 pound depth charges had been installed on the fantall of the U.S.S. Quincy the last time we were in the Navy Yard, and we had no opportunity to try them before this particular occasion. Depth charges are not usually installed on ships as large as the Quincy, but we had them, and the Captain wanted to use them, and use them we did. 10,000 ton cruisers are difficult to maneuver over a submerged submarine, and equally difficult to speed away fast enough to be safe from the resulting explosions, so we all were a little apprehensive about the results of this operation.
However, we really did not have any reason to worry for the explosions never happened. Apparently the depth charges were set to detonate at a depth of 100 feet, but the water at that location was only 75 feet deep, since we were nearing the port of Boston. So much for our first attempt at depth charging--the destroyers took over and we never did find out if there really was a submarine or not.
As, mentioned above, the repairs made to the U.S.S. Quincy in Boston were only temporary, we again went to sea, heading for the good old Brooklyn Navy Yard. Sailors rate every port of call as to how good of a liberty port they are. New York City is rated one of the best while Norfolk one of the worst, and we were going to be in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for about six weeks or longer (we hoped).
Needless to say, the crew was very happy about being stateside for such a nice long time. The crew was divided into three sections with the number one section granted 14 days Leave and the other second and third sections alternating one 24 hour liberty in New York City and one 24 hour tour of duty aboard ship. Since there was very little, if any, actual work to be done by the section having the duty, you mostly did some routine minor maintenance and cleaning during the day and spent the nights catching up on your sack time.
When the first section which had the 14 day leave returned, section number two went on 14 day leave and the two remaining sections alternated the liberty in New York and duty aboard
It just happened that I was in the section which had the first 14 day leave and, of course, went to Glenshaw, Pennsylvania to visit with my beautiful and lovely sweetheart, Doris Hughes. It seemed as though the leave was over in an exceptionally short time and I was soon on the train heading back to the Navy Yard in Brooklyn.
One day after I returned to the Quincy I had the duty aboard ship and was doing my best to look busy in the IC room, when I heard my name being called on the PA system aboard ship--I was to report to the Chief Engineering Officer's room on the double. In the Navy, everything must be done on the double when you are an enlisted man, so that part of the announcement didn't mean anything unusual was happening. The fact that I was called by name was, however, somewhat different. I went to Lt. Commander Elmore's room as fast as I could, knowing quite well how to get there, but with no idea of what he might want. Little did I know that the next few minutes would turn out to usher in a life saving change in my Navy career.
U. S. S. Mentor
One quick note at this time before I go into what transpired in Lt. Commander Elmore's room that afternoon: When an enlisted man is to be transferred from one activity to another, the Commanding Officer of the activity, the Quincy in this case, usually will insist that the request be complied with on the same day that is received. This is done in order to enable the Commanding Officer to send an acknowledgment back to the Bureau of Naval Personnel to the effect, "Orders received, orders executed, and orders acknowledged" all on the same day. There will be no delays in his command, for these people really pride themselves in how quickly they can comply with an order of this kind. As it turned out, this desire to comply on the first day made the difference between life and death for me, and I am forever grateful that it was done on day one.
Now, back to my story: Lt. Commander Elmore asked me to be seated after putting me at ease, and proceeded to tell me that I was to be transferred to another ship at once. The Captain insisted that I be off of the Quincy that same day. He said that he was sorry about the rush and would have transferred some other 2nd Class Electrician's Mate if one had been available. He told me he had checked the roster for 2nd Class Electrician's Mates and only two of them were available on that day which was 30 May 1942, and he, of course, did not want to lose me and had the orders written to transfer a man named Frazer, who was also an Electrician's Mate 2nd Class. When he sent the yoeman who typed the orders to give them to Frazer, they could not find him. A search was then initiated and Frazer was found in the Sick Bay with a bad case of Flu and was unable to go. With Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Frazer unable to go, Lt. Commander Elmore's hands were tied; he was required to transfer a man of that rating on that particular day for there was no way that he wanted to make the Captain of the Quincy unhappy. I was the only other Electrician's Mate 2nd Class aboard that could be transferred that fast, so he had the orders written for me. I was delighted, needless to say.
When Lt. Commander Elmore told me what he had to do, he also explained that the ship to which I was being transferred was a very small vessel of only 120 tons displacement and it would have a 120 volt D.C. electrical system with no dial telephones and only a sound powered communication system. He asked me if I thought I could handle such an assignment. I told him that it would not be a problem and then he offered to arrange an exchange of duty. All I would have to do was to drop him a note explaining my problems on the smaller ship and request a return to the U.S.S. Quincy. I assured him I would contact him if I wanted to return to the Quincy.
My new duty was to be aboard the U.S.S. Mentor (PYC-37). It was a converted yacht which was originally supposed to be for a Mr. Fleischman, the whiskey man, I believe. The Yoeman typed the necessary orders, had them signed, and I packed my sea bag and was gone as fast as I could--before anyone might change their minds. In fact, I left so fast that I forgot some of my gear, such was a small typewriter and my Blue Nose Certificate. None of these items was worth going back aboard the Quincy to obtain. I was absolutely positive that I would not set foot aboard that ship again of my own free will.
This was a very important transfer for me. The U.S.S. Quincy left the Brooklyn Navy Yard about four or five weeks later, steamed through the Panama Canal and was sunk along with three other Heavy Cruisers at the battle of Savo Island in the South Pacific Ocean. Mr. Frazer went down with the ship.
NOTE-. The Quincy, Vincennes, and Astoria, along with the Australian Cruiser Canaberra all were sunk by Japanese forces on 9 Aug 1942 near Savo Island while protecting our forces on the Island of Guadalcanal.
The timing of these events is very important. I left the Quincy on 30 May 1942 and she went down to Davy Jones' Locker on 9 Aug 1942 only a little over two months later. Someone higher up was surely watching out for me. I later talked with a survivor of the Quincy whom I met in Boston in early 1944 and discovered that of the 42 or so members of the "E" (Electrical) division aboard the Quincy that fateful day in August, 1942, only six people were able get safely off the ship. Of the men in the IC where I would have been, no one survived. I do not need to tell you where I would be now, if I had been aboard the Quincy on 9 Aug 1942.
The U.S.S. Mentor was not ready to be boarded when I departed the Quincy on 30 May 1942, in fact she was not yet commissioned. I was to report to Pier 92 on the Hudson River in New York City--Pier 92 was sort of waiting station for sailors in the New York-New Jersey area who were being transferred between activities and were unable to make these transfers immediately. It was reputed to be a not-so-nice place to be but that did not bother me--at least it would not sink.
The rumor mill, which operated quite well at Pier 92, claimed that one of the enlisted men at the pier supposedly raped the daughter of the Commanding Officer sometime in the past, and ever since then he ran the place with an iron hand. I have no way of knowing if there was any truth to the story, but Pier 92 was a difficult place to be. Fortunately, I was there for only a little over four weeks; it helped to know that it was only a temporary assignment.
The other redeeming feature of my stay, and I should say our stay, for most of the balance of the crew was also there, was that each morning we went by bus to a place called City Island which is in the North East end of New York City. The Mentor was still undergoing modifications from a pleasure yacht to a Warship (of sorts), by a contractor and the help and suggestions of both the enlisted men and the Officers was welcomed. We had three Officers, all being Reserves, with the Commanding Officer being a Lieutenant.
Actually, though, the duty at Pier 92 was not too bad for me, for New York was still New York and was still a good liberty town. One night I drew Shore Patrol in the Times Square area of the city, from about six o'clock to midnight. I was given a night stick, a Colt 45 automatic pistol with a clip of ammunition not in the pistol, and white leggings. It was interesting duty, but I would not want it on a regular basis.
In case some of the sailors did not know what duty I was doing they also gave me an arm band with the letters SP. It was interesting to see the respect that most of the merchants and other people gave the Shore Patrol and many of them would offer you candy, drinks, and free dancing in some of the many taxi dance halls which we had to visit. I was only involved in one problem which was with a sailor who had too much to drink; we called the Navy paddy wagon and they took him back to his ship.
Although the trip between Pier 92 and City Island was tiring, we managed to get the Mentor ready for the commissioning ceremony. There were, I believe, three high ranking Officers who came out to inspect the ship and to certify that she was ready to be commissioned. After the ceremony we all moved out to the Mentor, leaving behind good old Pier 92 and a lot of memories, some pleasant and some not so pleasant. Among the latter was of the morning of the day we were to move to the U.S.S. Mentor.
We were told that we would have early reveille at 4:30 AM along with an early breakfast in order to be ready to move out to the ship. The bus was to be there to pick us up at 6:00 A.M. sharp. All of our bags, mattresses, and other gear were to be packed and ready to go by that time. No delays would be tolerated and, as usual, the bus was late--we sat around on our sea bags until 10:30 AM when the bus finally came and we left Pier 92 for our new home and some new experiences.
The U.S.S. Mentor turned out to be pretty good duty since I was the only Electrician's Mate aboard. About all I had to do was to keep the two small 120 volt D.C. generators working and to check out the sound powered telephone system occasionally. The other nice part of this duty was our base of operations. We were based in Staten Island, a part of New York City, and our assignment was to escort freighters from New York to Cape May, which took one day, and then, after laying over night at Cape May, we returned to our base in New York. We then would lay over in New York for a day with liberty, after all systems were checked and determined to be shipshape.
We had three Officers aboard; a Lieutenant who was the Commanding Officer, A Lieutenant, J.G. who was the Executive Officer, and an Ensign who had the title of Navigator. This duty was about as good as you could have-- every third day with liberty in New York City. WOW!
However, all good things do not always work out that way. We had a Chief Machinist's Mate aboard who could keep any engine running, diesel or otherwise, including the two small engines that powered my D.C. generators. The only problem was his drinking--he was an alcoholic, and you could not get anything out of him until he sobered up after each liberty. One time he missed the ship and we had to leave without him. This was not good, especially on such a small ship, for we did not have anyone else to do his work. This, of course, was the skipper's problem and I do not remember what he did about it.
I still had thoughts about Midshipman!s School and when the Commanding Officer said he would approve my request, I had the Yoeman type the letter for me and I approached the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Mentor, showing him the letter and asked him if he would approve it. The Captain said that he would be glad to approve my application and send it on to the Bureau of Naval Personnel. He also said that was how he obtained his commission. Now all I had to do was to wait for the Bureau to do its job.
It didn't take long for my orders to come through, (the Navy must have been hard up for new officers) and I was on my way to the Notre Dame University Midshipmen's School in South Bend, Indiana. This was a double dose of good news; not only did I get to go to Midshipmen's School, but in South Bend, Indiana--I would be only 35 miles from my home town of Culver, Indiana. It would have been much nicer to have been closer to Glenshaw and my lovely sweetheart, but you can't have everything.
My orders to Midshipmen's School were dated 28 Sept 1942 and were signed by the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Mentor, Lt. William C. Hayes, a reserve officer. According to these orders, a copy of which I still retain, my letter to the Bureau was dated 7 Aug 1942 and my serial number as an enlisted man was 404-92-57. The official name of my destination was the U.S. Naval Training School (V-7 Indoctrination), Notre Dame, Indiana. The Indoctrination part of this came from the fact that for the first month of the training, your rate was reduced to Apprentice Seaman, the lowest rate in the Navy. This is the rate which enlisted men all get when they begin their Navy careers in Boot Camp. After this first month as an Apprentice Seaman we were all promoted to Midshipmen.
The actual training as a Midshipman lasts just three months, and then, if all goes well, you receive your commission as an Ensign. We were known as 90-day Wonders by the people in the regular Navy, especially the Officers who had spent four years of tough training at Annapolis, because of our very short training period of only 90 days (Three months).
I was able to spend almost every weekend with my family in Culver and I remember with great pleasure one special weekend when Doris was able to come to Plymouth, Indiana on the Pennsylvania Railroad. I met her at the station in Plymouth and we both spent the weekend in Culver. This was the first time that she met my family. It was really nice to be able to get together--I was a very lucky young man.
It was about this time that Doris and I decided to get married as soon as I received my commission. Time seemed to go very slowly, but on 28 Jan 1943 the first class of Midshipmen graduated from the Naval Training School and the Navy had 1100 new Ensigns, all 90-day Wonders.
I finished second in the this, the first class at the Notre Dame Training School, and they had to calculate the averages of the first and second (Me) in the class out to four decimal places to find who really was first. However, I was happy to get my commission, even if I had to be number two in the class.
Instructor, Midshipmen's School, Notre Dame University
A week or two before graduation a notice was put up on the bulletin board listing the many possible duty assignments for the members of the class. Among these I noticed one which seemed to be ideal--it was teaching at the Notre Dame Training School. What could be better than shore duty in Indiana for a newly married couple in the middle of a big war. Of course, no one could guarantee a particular duty assignment, but it was worth a try. I was lucky again, and was assigned to teach at the Notre Dame Training School. Because of my engineering background, I was given the job of teaching Damage Control and Mechanical Drawing.
Marriage (1 + 1 = 1)
Getting married when you are a Naval Officer takes a little doing. First I had to obtain my commanding Officer's permission, and then I had to get approval for a couple of days leave in order to return to Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. As I recall the timing, the graduation and commissioning ceremonies were on the 28 Jan 1943, a Thursday, after which I traveled to Pittsburgh that afternoon and evening. The next morning (Friday 29 Jan 1943) Doris and I went downtown to the Courthouse in Pittsburgh to obtain our marriage license. Pennsylvania has a three day waiting period for getting a marriage license so we had to appear before a Judge to have the waiting period waived. I showed the judge my leave papers which indicated that I had to report for duty the next day (Saturday), 30 Jan 1943 at 8:00 A.M. He smiled and gave us the waiver and we were married that evening in the Elfinwild U.P. Church by Rev. Joseph M. McCalmont. Doris' brother Milton was the Best Man and her sister Gladys and Ruth Brunton were Bridesmaids. My mother was the only member of my family able to attend the wedding.
That same night at about 11:00 o'clock PM we left by train for Plymouth, Indiana where Doris and I would take a bus to South Bend and my sister Mary would pick up my mother and return to Culver.
However, the train was late as usual in those war time days and we missed the bus to South Bend. I do not remember whether we waited for the next bus or whether Mary took us to South Bend, but after checking into to the Oliver Hotel and cleaning up a little, I was two hours late in reporting for duty on Saturday morning 30 Jan 1943.
It turned out the Captain was holding a reception for the Officers and when I reported to him and told him that the train was late getting into Plymouth, and that I had just been married the night before, he just smiled and remarked that he was surprised I had made it that soon. The meeting was strictly social in nature and we were told to come back Monday morning at eight o'clock prepared to go to work.
One more thing about the wedding. Doris and I are probably one of very few newly married couples who took their Mother along on their honeymoon trip. My mother also took the same train back to Plymouth that we were taking--in fact, she sat in the seat directly behind us for the entire trip. It sounds strange but, really, we didn't mind at all for the train had no romance about it, being slow, dirty, and uncomfortable. There was no way you could get a berth, and even if you could, somebody with more priority could bump you out of it without notice. If you wanted to go, you went coach, and were lucky if you had a seat.
In addition to the problems with trains and buses, gasoline was also rationed and you were not supposed make any trips that were unnecessary. Milton took a chance and drove us to the Railroad Station prepared to insist that the presence of a Navy Officer made the trip allowable. And that's the way it was.
The first week in South Bend we stayed at the Oliver Hotel while we looked for an apartment to rent. We found a nice place on South Michigan Street and moved in. I could take a city bus to Notre Dame with one change in downtown South Bend. We later found an equally nice place on Miami Street in Mishawaka at a lower rent, so we moved only to find out that we were so close to the New York Central Railroad that the dishes rattled in the cupboard whenever a train went by.
I stayed at Midshipman's School for a little over nine months which was enough time to turn out two classes of 90-day Wonders (Ensigns). The Commanding Officer then passed the word around that the teaching jobs were considered very good duty by the Navy and such duty should be passed around to other people. He posted a list of available duty assignments and promised to get each of us what we wanted, if he could.
Radar School, Princeton and M.I.T.
Since we had to move on, I figured I might as well ask for something that was ashore and lasted as long as possible. The duty that offered the longest shore time was Radar School which entailed about three or four months at Princeton University and an equal time at M.I.T. in Boston. I also would try to get a week's leave in between my departure from Notre Dame and my arrival at Princeton. This was known as delayed arrival orders and the time was considered as leave. Eight or more months of shore duty in War time, and to have it with my beautiful wife--what more could a Sailor ask for?
I was lucky again, for it turned out I was selected to go to Radar School, probably because of my engineering background and my amateur radio experience. It seems that most of the Officer candidates were Liberal Arts or Social Science majors, since most of the engineers and scientists had been grabbed up by the War time industries, and were not available for the Services. Many of them had not yet finished their four years of undergraduate college when they volunteered to serve.
Doris and I moved to Princeton, New Jersey on 1 Nov 1943, having been given two weeks leave--from 15 Oct 1943 to 1 Nov 1943, where we found a room at 36 Vandeventer Avenue. We were told that we had President Wilson's dresser in our room, and that, of course, made it more livable.
At the Princeton Pre-Radar School all of the Officers in training had to live in a dormitory on the campus. We were allowed off campus for two hours on Wednesday between 6:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M. and from 11:00 A.M. each Saturday until 8:00 P.M. on Sunday. Not a schedule that we liked but we made do.
Doris had very little to do all week so she found herself a job as cash girl at the Princeton Woolworth's 5 & 10 cent store. It didn't pay much, but it was something to do, and it provided us with enough cash to pay for a weekend in New York or Philadelphia each week. We even made it to Washington, D.C. once. This was pretty good duty and we savored every moment of it. We stayed at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York and since Philadelphia was so close, we came back to our little room on Vandeventer Avenue for the night.
On 1 March 1944 we moved to Boston and I reported for duty at the M.I.T. Radar School. I was surprised to find the Radar School was not on the Campus of M.I.T. but was located in downtown Boston on Atlantic Avenue. There was no place for us to live at the school so we had to find an apartment. We searched the ads in the paper and found a place in which we managed to live for just three days-it was terrible. After another search, we found a very nice first floor one room apartment for less rent. None of the Officers were upset because we had to live off Campus, and we were further pleased that we had no home work since everything we were studying was classified as secret and, therefore we were not allowed to take anything out of the building.
When the training was completed, I was assigned to the Boston Navy Yard for temporary duty, awaiting further assignment.
I graduated from M.I.T. on 30 June 1944 and, after a week's leave, reported to the Boston Navy Yard for duty on 8 July 1944. My work was to assist in the installation and maintenance of the Radar equipment. There was not much that the people at the Navy Yard would allow me to do since they knew it was strictly a temporary assignment for me. There were many ships in and out of the Boston Navy Yard but very few of them were getting new equipment and most of the others were not in need of extensive repairs. I also worked the night turn most of the time and things were usually quiet late at night.
On 24 Aug 1944 I received my new orders; I was to proceed to the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York, then on to their plant in Bridgeport Connecticut, and then on to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for duty on the U.S.S. Chicago, CA 136, when commissioned. The time at the two General Electric Company plants was for training on a new Radar which they had designed for the Navy. It was a typical Navy Operation, for I never saw that particular model while I was in the Navy, but Doris and I enjoyed the traveling, meeting new people, and living in new places.
I want to correct a statement about our stay in Boston. The first apartment we rented was at 336 Beacon Street and we stayed just two nights instead of three as I previously indicated, Mrs. Grilli, the landlady would not refund our rent after I called her place a dump. She later did reluctantly give us most of our money back when we threatened to report her for charging more than the rent control board was allowing. We moved in on 29 Feb 1944 and out on 2 March 1944, moving into our nice one room apartment at 131 Washington Street, Brighton, Massachusetts on the same day, 2 March 1944.
We lived at 131 Washington Street until we left for the General Electric plant in Schenectady on 25 Aug 1944 where we rented a room at 233 Union Street. It appears that we took a few days leave at this time and I reported in to the Resident Inspector's office on 4 Sept 1944. On 25 Sept 1944 we left Schenectady for Bridgeport, as required in my orders, and we lived at 435 Fairfield Avenue while there. On 7 Oct 1944, with my special training completed, we moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Here I was back where I started my Navy service, only this time I had a beautiful and loving wife and I was much wiser on Navy ways, and that helped. It seems what goes around, comes around.
We arrived in Philadelphia on 7 Oct 1944 and I reported in to the Navy Yard for what was called temporary duty since the Chicago was not yet in commission. There were no quarters available for married Officers so we had to find our own apartment and we didn't mind this at all. It was too late to look for an apartment, but we did manage to find a run down, beat up hotel on North Broad Street that had a room which we took for the night. The Majestic Hotel
We had a difficult time finding a room in Philadelphia the first night. it had taken a lot of time to report in to the Navy Yard and get your orders endorsed properly--which is typical of most Navy paper work operations. Besides, I wanted to take a look at the U.S.S. Chicago to see how much more construction work needed to be done, thus obtaining a pretty good idea of how long it would be before we would depart for places unknown. I found the Chicago and observed that there was a lot yet to be done before we could go to sea. I was happy about that.
The room which we finally found was at the Majestic Hotel on North Broad Street. It was not much of a place but it would do until we found an apartment. We were lucky again and found one the very next day at 3000 North Broad Street, moving in on 9 Oct 1944. The apartment was on the first floor, although the bath was on the second floor. Again, I must say that living quarters were difficult to find during the war and we felt happy about finding a place to live so quickly, and so near to all of the transportation facilities. The Subway station was at the same corner that we lived on, only across the street. At the same place was the North Philadelphia Station of the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad while the Street Car line went right by the side of our apartment building. In those days all of the passenger trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad stopped at the North Philadelphia Station.
The apartment had what was called a Murphy Bed that folded down out of the wall and an eat-in kitchen with an old fashioned ice box that used real ice for cooling. We had ice delivered every 2nd day, and, if we did not forget, we emptied the pan under the ice box almost every day. The big problem turned out to be the bath room. Not only was it on the second floor where we shared it with two other apartments, but the water pressure was so low that it took forty-five minutes to fill the tub with enough water to take a bath. No shower was available. We didn't really mind all of these inconveniences for we were together, and that was more than most Navy couples were able to do.
Not only did the amount of work remaining to be done on the Chicago mean it would be a long time before we would be leaving the Navy Yard, it also meant that I would have a first hand opportunity to see how a ship of 17,000 tons was put together and fitted out for war. I would also be able to become acquainted with how she worked.
I had been promoted to Lieutenant, Junior Grade before we left Boston. When I reported in Philadelphia, two other Radar Officers of the same rank also reported for duty on the Chicago. We had a section for the maintenance of the Radar systems on the Chicago which consisted of one Chief Radioman, and two 2nd Class Radiomen, trained in the repair and operation of Radar equipment. We all worked together to make sure all of the Radar was installed properly and was fully operational. We also helped train the personnel that was going to be using the equipment and to explain what it was supposed to be able to do. Sometimes there would be problems with calibration and ghost images and these things had to be corrected and/or explained to those people who were not familiar with the Radar's limitations.
The other two Officers who were assigned as Radar Officers were Lt., J.g. John Hess and Lt. J.g. Charles Healey. They were both good men and easy to work with. although neither had an engineering background. We were assigned to the Gunnery Section of the U.S.S. Chicago and reported to the Gunnery Officer. The first thing he asked us when we reported aboard the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 7 Oct 1944 was our date of rank, which meant the date we were promoted to Lt. J.g. It just happened that my promotion was senior to the other two Officers by one month so I was designated as the Officer in charge of Radar maintenance and, as such, I had certain perks. I was allowed to have first choice of the three bunks in the little stateroom assigned to us. Lt. J.g. Hess was the junior and he ended up with the top of the three sacks. Incidentally, the bottom sack was the biggest and I liked that.
While I was still in Philadelphia and before the Chicago was commissioned, I received orders to attend a two weeks War Training Course at the Bell Telephone Company School at 250 Hudson Street in New York City. The course was really on advanced Radar Systems and the other name was to confuse anybody that happened to see my orders.
Doris and I moved to New York on 10 Dec 1944 and I reported for duty at the Bell Labs the next day, 11 Dec 1944. We found a room at 171 West 71st Street in Manhattan where we lived with a very nice couple in their apartment, sharing the bathroom and eating all of our meals out. The bathtub was enormous with the faucet at the side instead of the end. We had a really good time, spending two weeks in New York City, with the Navy Picking up most of the tab. What a way to fight a war!
However, all good things must come to an end, and we returned to our Philadelphia residence on 26 Dec 1944 where we lived until the U.S.S. Chicago pulled out of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and headed for the Panama Canal. Doris went back to her Parents, awaiting the arrival of our first child, Jeanne.
I also attended Fire Fighting School in the Navy Yard. It lasted only one day and you took only old clothes to this school for this was truly a hands on training course. It was in a building designated No. 735 and after some classroom instruction, we went to the actual training room where a fire was started using a liquid of some sort to simulate a shipboard fire. We were each then required to take a standard shipboard fire hose which was equipped with a fog type nozzle and enter the room with the raging fire and put it out. The idea being to crouch down very low where the best chance of finding breathable air would be, and being careful not to let the fire rekindle behind you, spray the fog all over the place, hopefully extinguishing the fire and then getting out alive. Two of us went in together, just in case something got out of hand--the instructors also kept watch on us. This all happened on 4 Dec 1944.
Just to clear things up a bit about our schedule for the school in New York City. Christmas that year was on Monday, and my orders for my return to Philadelphia are dated 26 Dec 1944. They also show that I checked in to the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 27 Dec 1944. I also know that we spent Christmas that year in Glenshaw, so I believe we must have left New York on a Friday night and then returned to New York on Christmas night. Or, perhaps, the orders were dated ahead and we only returned to Philadelphia on Christmas night. Since we can't remember, we will never know for sure.
I found that I could get the Yard workers to change things they were doing in our Radar Repair Room on the Chicago by offering them cigarettes. Cigarettes were very scarce and hard to come by for Civilians, even Navy Yard workers, but the Navy Personnel were allowed to buy two cartons each week if we wanted them. I would buy the two carton allowance at prices lower than the regular store prices and use them to get what I wanted in our little area. Little jobs took a couple of packs, while big jobs sometimes took a whole carton.
I remember the trip to Glenshaw on that Christmas 1944 for I was able get only one berth on the train going to Pittsburgh. We both slept in the upper berth and, although it was a little crowded, we managed, and had a few laughs doing it. I don't know what the Pullman conductor thought we were doing, but he said nothing.
On 10 Jan 1945, with the temperature hovering around +10 degrees, we commissioned the U.S.S. Chicago in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and we all had to move aboard at that time. Doris was invited to attend the Commissioning Ceremony aboard the ship and later attended the reception we had in the Ward Room. That was the only time she was aboard the U.S.S. Chicago.
Although the Chicago was now in commission, she was not ready for sea duty. The officers and men assigned to the ship took over the responsibility of caring for all of the usual Navy routines such as having an Officer of the Deck, security guards, watches set, and other activities that the Commanding Officer thought necessary. If we did not have the duty at night, we were allowed to live ashore, and I was pleased very much, for our time in Philadelphia was drawing to a close.
I drew the duty as Officer of the Deck a few times but it was not bad duty--you drank a lot of strong Navy coffee when the weather was cold, and that was most of the time. After all, it was the middle of winter and you dressed accordingly, including the long underwear. Your job as Officer of the Deck, when the ship is tied up at the dock, is to be at the gangway where everyone must board or leave the ship and to check everyone who was a member of the crew to make sure that they were properly dressed in the uniform of the day. You also had to make sure that no one who was not authorized to be aboard was allowed aboard. The yard workers came and went at their will and no questions were asked--you could usually tell them by their dress, tools and supplies.
To make sure that we were able to enforce the rules we were issued a Colt 45 Automatic gun with a holster and web belt. We also were given a full clip of ammunition for the gun, but we were not supposed to have a bullet in the chamber. Each time you came on duty as Officer of the Deck you were required to check the gun to see if it was properly loaded without a bullet in the chamber. One Officer did not perform this check properly and blasted the Teakwood deck with a bullet. No one was injured and the deck was repaired but we were given a brush up course on the handling of the weapon the next day. I was never issued a gun or a sword of my own, even though our dress uniforms were equipped with the proper holes for attaching a sword.
Early in March 1945, after checking the boilers, the forward and reverse turbines, the steering system as well as all of the other things necessary for the safe and complete operation of the ship, we left the Philadelphia Navy Yard, cruised down the Delaware River and out to sea on our shake down. This is the time when everything on the ship is tested, including the guns, the boilers, the engines, steering etc., and this is done at flank speed. I can still remember just a little apprehension at the full right and full left rudder turning tests at flank (full) speed. I hoped that the Naval engineers knew what they were doing when they designed the U.S.S. Chicago. I need not have worried for, although the ship listed way over on each turn, she did not capsize.
Among the tests in which the Radar Section was directly involved was the accurate calibration of the range indication of the various Radars. This was accomplished by anchoring the ship at a designated spot near the mouth of the Delaware River and picking up a prominent object which was a measured distance away and then setting the Radars so they indicated this range (distance). The accurate range to this object was provided to us by the Navy. I do not know exactly where we went on our shake down cruise, but it was somewhere near Puerto Rico and Cuba.
It was on this trip that I met a reporter from the Radio Station WLS in the city of Chicago, Illinois. He was using what was known as a wire recorder to record interviews with members of the Chicago's crew--tape recorders had not yet been invented. His name was Julian Bently and, as you would expect, his recorder broke down. I volunteered to repair it and after successful cleaning and adjusting I had it working again. To show his gratitude he interviewed me, and promised to send a copy, which was transcribed onto an LP record, to my Mother in Culver, Indiana. I still have a copy of that interview to this day.
On the way back from our shake down cruise we stopped at the Norfolk Navy Yard for a few days of liberty for the crew. While we were in Norfolk President Roosevelt died. This was a sad and uncertain time for all of us in the Armed forces since FDR was the leader of the Nation and was our Commander-in-Chief. FDR was also a strong supporter of the Navy. We didn't know what Mr. Truman would be doing.
The Chicago then returned, to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for some last minute changes and some additional equipment that had not been installed before. That is when I personally talked the Navy out of a so called portable Radar machine. This device weighed about 150 pounds and was supposed be hauled up by hand to the top of the main battery number two turret where an operator was supposed to be able to use it. This was a bad idea for the Radar would hardly produce an image under good conditions, let alone under battle conditions. Can you imagine what it is like to be on top of a turret with three eight-inch guns being fired right under you? The concussion would be too great for either man or equipment. When I explained the problems of trying to use this Radar, they agreed and my boys were happy to turn it back into the Navy Yard warehouse for storage.
On 24 April 1945 I requested and was granted eight days leave with specific instructions that I must be back aboard the Chicago before 0800, 4 May 1945. 1 felt that something was up and I was not wrong. We left the Philadelphia Navy Yard on VE Day, 7 May 1945, and headed directly for the Panama Canal.
The voyage to the Panama Canal was uneventful since the war in Europe was over, but we were still on a full war time type of operation--I guess that we were fearful that a Japanese sub might be operating in the Atlantic Ocean or that a German sub may not have heard that their war had ended.
We had to wait our turn to get into the Canal and the Captain was a little concerned about the taking the passage at night. Since there had been no problems with the Radar equipment, I decided to stay topside as much as possible and watch our progress through the Canal and it proved to be a very interesting spectacle, being on a seagoing vessel and having good old solid ground only a few feet away. It seems that a standard procedure when going through Gatun Lake, which is fresh water, is to hose down the entire topside with this fresh water. The Captain ordered this to be done to the Chicago.
After we had passed through the Canal proper we stopped for one night in Panama City where as many as wanted were granted liberty. Panama City was a pretty tough place and we were all instructed to be very careful and not to get too far away from the dock area. We were also told to not go up or down stairs to get into any store or bar. If it wasn't on the first floor, stay out of it. I went ashore, but finding nothing of interest, I soon returned to the ship. I also had carelessly received a pretty bad sunburn while watching our passage and did not feel like wasting time in such a bad environment.
Although we all felt that we were headed for Admiral Halsey's 3rd fleet, we ended up at Pearl Harbor. We did practice maneuvers and target practice with the Destroyers which were escorting us. This is done by aiming directly at the other vessel and then cranking a certain number of offset degrees into the gun director so that the shells will land a safe distance behind the target ship. This worked fine for a while and then something was screwed up--the target Destroyer signaled that the last shelf just cleared their Bridge. That. ended that. type of target practice..
The stop at Pearl, as it is known to Sailors, was not for refueling and loading on supplies and ammunition only. Some extensive structural problems had to be taken care of. The U.S. S. Pittsburgh had recently lost its bow at about the No. 1 turret, and since the Pittsburgh was of the same class as the Chicago, it was essential to add some extra beams in order to strengthen our ship. It seemed like a very good idea to us, especially since our little stateroom was in this area of the ship. One of the new beams actually went through our room and reduced the size the top sack.
The U.S.S Pittsburgh lost her bow during a typhoon in the Pacific Ocean and through the terrific efforts of the crew, the ship was able to limp back to port. However my cousin John Gustafson was lost at sea because of that tragedy.
We stayed in Pearl Harbor for about two weeks and it is a very nice place for liberty and the entire crew was somewhat sad to be leaving, but there was still a war to be won and we wanted to get it over with and be on our way States side. I do not know the date that we sortied out of Pearl but the records show that the U.S.S. Chicago joined with Admiral Halsey's 3rd Fleet on or about 10 July 1945, with Captain Richard R. Hartung, U.S. Navy, commanding.
The Chicago participated in the support of the following air strikes:
10 July 1945 Tokyo Plains Area, Honshu.
14-15 July 1945 Northern Honshu and Hokkaido.
17-18 July 1945 Tokyo Plains Area, Honshu.
24-25 July 1945 Kure- Kobe Area, Honshu.
28 July 1945 Kure-Kobe Area, Honshu,
30 July 1945 Tokyo-Nagoya Area, Honshu.
IO August 1945 Northem Honshu and Hokkaido.
13 August 1945 Tokyo Plains Area, Honshu.
15 August 1845 Tokyo Plains Area, Honshu.
The Chicago also participated in the shore bombardments as follows:
14 July 1945 Kamaishi, Honshu.
29-30 July 1945 Hamamatsu, Honshu. At midnight.
9 August 1945 Kamaishi, Honshu.
The Chicago also participated in the entry into Sagami Wan and the occupation of the Tokyo Bay Area on 27 August 1945.
We were in Tokyo Harbor the day the Peace Treaty was signed on the U.S.S. Missouri, although we did not participate in the ceremony in any way. One note, though, the water was so foul in Tokyo Harbor that the ship's evaporators could not produce enough fresh water and the crew and officers had to conserve their water usage while we remained anchored in the harbor. No, we don't carry our fresh water in casks any more, we make it from sea water in large evaporators, and normally we have more than enough for everyone and for the use of the boilers, too.
As near as I can remember, the 3rd Fleet consisted of three large Aircraft Carriers, one Battleship, several Cruisers, as well as eight or ten Destroyers. We would rendezvous at sea with Tankers and Supply Ships as needed. Not only could oil and vital supplies be transferred while at sea, but essential things such as movies could be exchanged also.
Let us back track a little to the time when the Chicago was with the 3rd Fleet, supporting the air strikes and actually doing the bombardments. The planes were launched from the Carriers early in the morning and it was truly a sight to see. One cannot realize how fast these Navy planes can be put in the air--a plane would hardly be off of the flight deck before another one was following. They would fly to the Mainland of Japan, drop their bombs and return in the afternoon.
The fleet would cruise around, more or less going no where until the planes returned and were recovered on the Carriers.
One day the Missouri, the Chicago, another Cruiser and a couple of Destroyers were detached from the main group and the word was passed by the Executive Officer that we were going to bombard the shore of the main Island of Japan, Honshu. Of course, we knew that such a bold thing had never been done before and we were more than a little concerned about what the Japanese response would be.
Not only were we going to bombard the shore of Japan, we were going to do it in broad daylight at 12:00 noon on 14 July 1945. About one half hour before noon the Executive Officer again came on the PA system and told us what we all suspected; that we did not know if the Japanese would respond with air attacks, torpedo attacks, gun fire from shore batteries, human suicide planes and torpedoes, submarines, or human bombs. We could imagine almost anything. It turned out that there was no response at all and we all felt very lucky that it turned out that way. I believe that these bombardments primarily were done to demonstrate the U.S. Navy had control of the sea and could do just about anything it cared to do with impunity.
The next bombardment was at 12:00 midnight on 29 July 1945 and once again we headed straight for the beach as we did the first time, and once again we picked up the Japanese Radar homing in on us, but still nothing happened. We did have a little problem with the forward Main Battery gun control Radar. It quit just as we turned toward the beach and, since the aft main battery Radar could not be brought to bear forward, it had to be repaired right now. Optical equipment is not too good when it is dark.
I dispatched my best Radar technician to make the repairs on the double. He pulled the equipment drawer out and in checking things out he touched one of the tubes and noticed that it was cold. He also noticed that the filaments were not lit and a quick check of the main terminal board showed one loose screw. When the screw was tightened everything came to life with about five minutes to spare before the Bombardment was to start. Lucky again? You bet we were!
As you read this, remember that we were at General Quarters and the man I had dispatched had to open and close a dozen or more water tight doors and hatches to get to the failed equipment. He did a good job, even if I don't remember his name after almost 49 years.
It is interesting to note here that the entire World War 2 was fought and won without a transistor, an integrated circuit, a micro chip, or even a simple electronic calculator. Just before we left the Philadelphia Navy Yard we did get a vacuum tube computer of sorts for the anti-aircraft batteries, but it was not too good since the tubes could not take the concussion of the guns firing.
In connection with the fire control Radar, the Gunnery Officer told me that he would rather go into battle at night with the fire control Radar than he would go into a battle in daylight with the optical range finders. With the Radar you could actually see the shells going out toward the target and see the splash when they hit the water instead of the target. You could also see whether the splash was over or under the proper range.
Atomic Bomb Dropped
One morning we woke up and read in the newspaper which was published on board the Chicago, that an atom bomb had been dropped on a city in Japan. We were only about 400 miles away when it happened, but we were completely surprised to read about it. We had no idea that such a thing as an atom bomb even existed or how much destruction it could produce.
After the second atom bomb was dropped we realized that the war was about over and when Japan said she would surrender, we steamed triumphantly into Tokyo Harbor, hoping that Japan really meant it. The U.S.S. Chicago anchored in the Harbor until some time after the Peace Treaty was formally signed aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.
During that time I made one trip (liberty) ashore in Japan. It was an eye-opening experience to see the complete destruction of the Naval Base at Yokasuka as well as the complete destruction of Yokahoma. All of the buildings such as factories, warehouses, railroad stations, etc. were destroyed. A few buildings were still standing but had no roofs or windows intact.
The trains were still operating between Yokahoma and Tokyo, so many of us went to Tokyo--we each had a "C" Ration with us for lunch, just in case. Tokyo was in bad shape but many of the taller buildings were only damaged on the upper floors. The only cars that were operating used charcoal gas generators in their trunks since gasoline was not available.
We couldn't find any restaurants open so we were lucky to have our "C" Rations along. I found a couple of things to buy such as a cracked vase, some Japanese flags, and a map of the area. Most of the things available were made of bamboo or wood, and were not of high quality. Not much more could be expected after all of the destruction they had endured.
We also had time to enter the large cave near where the liberty boats docked. This cave was the underground Headquarters for the defense of the entire Tokyo Area. It was very strange, but also interesting, to see the huge map of the area--it was about 15 feet wide and equally high showing all of the defenses of the area as well as the harbor itself. All of the electronic communication systems were still there and were still turned. on, just as though someone was going to come in and start issuing orders for the defense of Tokyo. There were no Japanese to be seen anywhere near this cave. Maybe they were glad that they were not going to need it.
Becoming a Civilian Again
Now to get back to what was going on aboard the Chicago, and, I suppose, on most of the other ships in Tokyo Harbor. Once the Surrender Documents had been signed aboard the U.S.S Missouri, the reserve Navy people as well as some of the regular Navy began to get itchy pants about how soon could we get back to the States. The regular Navy guys still had to serve out their enlistments, but we of the reserve Navy had long since served way beyond our time.
On 17 Aug 1945 the Navy came up with a system of points; an Officer had to have at least 49 points to be eligible for release. Here is how the points were awarded: one point for each year of your age, to nearest birthday. one point for each month of service since 1 Sept 1940, and ten points for each dependent.
I had enough points so I put in for return to inactive duty, and after what seemed like a very long time my orders to State Side came through on 1 Oct 1945. I was very happy since Doris was pregnant and the baby was due in November of that year. My orders came from a very Navy-like place:
COMMANDER SERVICE SQUADRON TEN
SERVICE FORCE, PACIFIC FLEET
Via the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Chicago to me. I didn't know that was the name of the outfit I was working for. I was ordered to report to Commanding Officer of the nearest Officer Intake Station (San Francisco), and then to proceed to the Separation Center at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and report to the Commanding Officer for temporary duty. Upon completion of this temporary duty I would be directed to regard myself as detached and proceed to my home for release from active duty.
There are some discrepancies in the dates of the orders which I received and the date which I reported to the ship going States Side. The original orders (I still have the original copy) were dated 1 Oct 1945, but they were endorsed on the U.S.S. Presidio, APA-88, on 29 Sept 1945 and this indicates that I left the Chicago on that date and boarded the Presidio the same day.
I can remember that the short trip to the Presidio in the whale boat took about 10 minutes and I can also remember there was a little tinge of sadness and a tear or two as I turned and had my last look at the Navy ship that had been my home for several months. Not only was I leaving the U.S.S. Chicago, I was headed out of the U.S. Navy and returning to civilian life and a somewhat unknown future with a beautiful wife and a very soon-to-be-born child.
The sad feeling quickly passed and I was soon aboard the U.S.S. Presidio which was my transportation back to San Francisco in the good old U.S.A. Since I was a passenger Officer, I was berthed in the Officer's country and would take my meals in the wardroom at approximately 0800, 1245, and 1845 which was fine with me. I had no duties or watches assigned to me, and I enjoyed the R and R of nothing to do.
We took a great Circle route (which is the shortest, as any navigator will tell you) to San Francisco where we arrived on 14 Oct 1945, with endorsement No. 2 for leaving the Presidio and endorsement No. 3 when I arrived at District Staff Headquarters, Twelfth Naval District, in San Francisco on the same day.
I was given a First Class Railroad Ticket to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was told there were no airplanes available and no First Class train accommodations at that time either--I would just have to wait until something was available. With nothing to do but wait, I decided to visit with my Uncle Grover and his family who were living in California at that time and not too far away on the train.
After returning to San Francisco and checking back into my hotel which was the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, I inquired at the headquarters if I could use my First Class ticket on the Coaches of the train. The answer was that I could ride the coach if I wanted to. And I wanted, too. They gave me my 4th endorsement, detaching me from the Twelfth Naval District, Intake Station, on 17 Oct 1945 and I was on my way.
The train ride seemed to take forever and I began to think that I had made a mistake in riding in the coach instead of waiting for First Class accommodations that included a berth as well as more comfortable seating.
However, the slowness of the travel was not the worst problem; the dirt that came in from outside through poorly fitting windows and doors coated everything, including myself, with a black grease-like coating of soot. Remember, we were traveling with a steam locomotive burning soft coal. Add to this problem the lack of water in the wash rooms, the nonexistence of soap and towels, and long lines of other travelers wanting to use these inadequate facilities, and you have a far from pleasant situation. Although the railroad did replenish the water occasionally, it never seemed to last long enough for me to get into the rest room to wash a little. I was really a mess when I finally arrived in Chicago, Illinois.
Not only did we have to ride in such extremely dirty conditions, but we had to ride hungry, too; there was no Diner or Cafe Car on this train and the only food we could find was at some of the stops at the stations along the railroad. Most of these stations did not have restaurants or dining facilities and those that did were unable to serve you fast enough to allow you to get back on your train before it pulled out. Fortunately there were quite a few USO, Salvation Army, and other organizations handing out coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches at each station. I would not have been surprised to have seen some pigs come walking down the aisles of the railroad car. What a ride!
The train finally made it to Chicago, and checking the schedule of trains on the Pennsylvania Railroad, I was pleased to find that I had about three hours time before departure. You can guess what I did; I went to the barber shop in the station and had my hair washed and cut, (after I had washed my face and hands in the wash room) and I felt a lot better. The barber could not believe that a train could have been so filthy--but it had been, and I was the living proof
There was plenty of First Class space on the Pennsylvania Railroad and everything was clean, and the linens were white. Also, the cars were all air conditioned and I really thought they smelled nice. I then arranged with the Pullman Conductor to wake me in time to have a stop over in Pittsburgh for a day or so, and it was wonderful to be with my beloved wife, who was with child.
After a day or so of being in Heaven, I boarded the train again, bound for Philadelphia and the Navy Yard. I reported in on 22 Oct 1945 at 1023 at the U.S. Naval Separation Center (Officers), Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I received the 5th Endorsement when I checked in and after some delay they processed my orders and gave me the 6th Endorsement which said that I was physically qualified for release from active duty. I do not recall taking a physical examination, but I must have had one or the endorsement would not have said so.
The Navy also figured that I had 56 days of unused leave coming, upon the expiration of which, at midnight of 17 Dec 1945 I should regard myself released from all active duty. This endorsement specifically states that I could, at my option, wear civilian clothes, and while wearing civilian clothes, I was authorized to engage in any occupation not contrary to law. There it was; I was out of the Navy--not really until 17 Dec 1945, but for all practical purposes I was free of my naval obligations, I thought,
What I didn't know was that I still was in the inactive reserve, and that required a complete physical exam every four years. The Navy also had an annual qualification questionnaire that had to be filled out. All of this was mostly a repeat of the same old information year after year.
I also tried a few months of part time duty in the Pittsburgh Navy Reserve Unit but I did not seem to fit in and when they moved the meeting place to Neville Island, I gave up on it. I did get a letter one day asking me if I would like to have my Commission as a Lieutenant made a permanent appointment. I knew that my rate was temporary and not wanting to be recalled at some future date as an Ensign, I accepted the permanent appointment.
Retired Navy Reserve - Without Pay
Shortly after I left the Pittsburgh Navy Reserve I was notified that I was being transferred to the Retired Navy Reserve, without pay. As far as I know, I am still in that category. About the only thing I receive in the mail is an occasional letter from the Retired Reserve Officers Organization asking me to join. I have not as yet joined.
Shortly after the 6th Endorsement I boarded the train for good old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then Glenshaw and my always beautiful and loving wife, Doris.
I did receive a very nice letter from Captain R. R. Hartung of the U.S.S. Chicago thanking me for my service and wishing me well. I still have the letter in my Navy file.
A few last thoughts about the Navy: Most of my electronic training I received in the Navy and I made my career in electronics, so I owe a lot for that. I also learned a lot about how to take orders, and to some extent, how to give them out. I do not regret the time I spent in the U.S. Navy.
The railroad car that was so terrible was not air conditioned and was routed over the Southern Pacific to Ogdon, Utah, the Union Pacific to Council Bluffs and the Chicago and North Western into Chicago. As you know it was the Pennsylvania into Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, which was the only decent ride on the entire trip across the country. Incidentally, I had berth No. 4 on the Pennsy to Pittsburgh.
I almost forgot to tell you that I rode a ferry boat from the Naval Station across the San Francisco Harbor to the Southern Pacific Railroad Station and boarded the train that was scheduled to depart at 1930 hours.
Union Switch & Signal Division of Westinghouse
Now back to the story. When I finally arrived home in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania I had no job even though the Navy Inspection Service was required by law to take me back. I had other ideas and really wanted to get into something electronic or at least electric. My first port of call was Westinghouse Electric Company but I did not receive an offer, so I went to an employment agency in downtown Pittsburgh and registered for a job. In a couple of days I was told to see a Dr. Grondaht at The Union Switch and Signal Division of Westinghouse Air Brake Company in Swissvale, Pennsylvania.
I put on my Lieutenant's uniform (to improve my image) and, having no car, rode the street car to Swissvale, which is no easy task in itself. The interview went well and he took me to see the Chief Engineer in charge of the Inductive Train Communication Department (ITC), Mr. E.W. Breisch. Mr. Breisch and I hit it off real good and I got the job as a Junior Design Engineer at salary of $250 per month, just half of my total income as a Lieutenant in the Navy.
I now needed some sort of transportation to travel between Glenshaw and Swissvale so I found the paper I had received from the dealer in Johnstown, rode the train to Johnstown to see what I could come up with. When I took the job at Union Switch, I had asked if I could delay my start at work until about the 15th of November--until the baby was born and I was able to find a car. I knew that it would be a used car since no new cars had been manufactured since 1941.
I found the same dealer was still in business in Johnstown, but there was very little to choose from since even used cars were much in demand. We came to an agreement on a 1940 Plymouth sedan. The dealer could not have the car ready and the loan approved while I waited, so I came home on the train to Pittsburgh and I rode the street car from the railroad station to Etna, the end of the line. Doris' brother Bill met me and informed me that Doris was at Allegheny General Hospital awaiting the birth of our first child--a beautiful little girl whom we named Jeanne. This was 5 Nov 1945, Jeanne was born early the next morning, 6 Nov 1945 at 0130 hours.
In those days the mother and baby stayed in the hospital for ten days even when there were no complications. I brought Doris and Jeanne home on or about 16 Nov 1945 while we still lived at Doris' home on Woodland Road. We soon realized that we needed a home of our own or at least an apartment of our own.
We looked for an apartment but could not find anything suitable, but we did see a nice small home for sale in an area of Glenshaw known as Shaler Park, off of Kleber Road. Kleber Road was not paved at that time and there was no "Short Cut" going up to Mt. Royal Boulevard, but we decided to check it out anyway. The result was we signed the agreement to buy the house at 69 Delaware Drive, Glenshaw, Pennsylvania for a price of $7900, and we thought that was a lot of money.
We needed a place to live in right away and since it was going to take several weeks to obtain a loan and process the paper work, the owner, William Kephart, decided to rent us the place until all of the paper work came through and we could close on the deal. The rent was $40 per month--for some reason Mr. Kephart wanted to get out of the home as fast as possible; he had cooked up some sort of a deal with his brother to buy a large home and live together with him in it.
We moved in our new home a few days after Thanksgiving 1945 and closed the purchase of the home on 1 Feb 1946 and have lived in the same house ever since. The Post Office changed our house number from 69, which was the lot number, to 101 at a later date and I do not remember when this change took place.
The house had a coal fired furnace with a gravity type hot air circulation system and the furnace was prone to become blocked up with soot from the soft coal. This meant an almost continuous job of checking and cleaning out the soot. The few times when we forgot to do the cleaning job, the smoke would back up in the basement so badly that all of the basement windows had to opened to clear out the smoke. The neighbors called once to see if the house was on fire. We had a new gas furnace installed that first summer and gave the coal we had left over to Doris' brother Milton.
In the meantime I had been working at Union Switch and Signal in the ITC department and was enjoying the work a lot. Mr. Breisch and I continued to hit off very nicely and be became almost like a second father to me. My father and Mr. Breisch were both of Pennsylvania Dutch descent and we had many other things in common. Mr. Breisch was an excellent design engineer and a very capable teacher as well.
My first work was in the inspection department and the final check out of the transmitters and receivers that made up the most important part of the system. This gave me a very good introduction to the type of equipment and how it was supposed to operate.
It seemed very strange at first to go from the ultra high and micro wave frequencies of Radar to the very low (VLF) frequencies of an Inductive Train Communication System. We were using two frequencies; 88Khz. and 144Khz.
It was not long until I was shifted to the actual design of circuits and the preparation of sketches for the Drafting Department. Within a year I was also going on field trips, mostly on the Pennsylvania Railroad, to check out the performance and installation of the equipment and to bring back suggestions for improvements. One of the biggest problems was a complete and unbroken coverage at all places along the railroad. We did have a pretty good system and, at these very low frequencies, no radio license was required.
Powhattan No. 3 Mine
You may wonder at first how a mine fire in Ohio on 5 July 1944 could have any effect on my career, but it did. Let me explain: On the above date a disastrous fire occurred at the Powhatan Mine No. 3 at Powhatan Point, Belmont County, Ohio. About 65 miners lost there lives in this fire and the mine had to be sealed while they were still inside the mine.
One of the hazards of the soft coal mining operation is a roof fall. To help prevent uncontrolled roof falls, miners will inspect the roof frequently while tapping the roof with a hammer. The sound of the tapping to a trained ear will indicate whether the roof is solid or not. If it sounds loose, the usual procedure is to stand back and attempt to pry it loose. On this fateful day a miner was doing this type of inspection in the main haulage way when the piece he was prying loose turned out to be much bigger than he expected.
This large piece of rock took out the trolly wire and the telephone line, the only means of communication at that time in the mine. The trolley, with 300 volts D.C., shorted to the rail, producing sparks and lots of heat and starting a small fire. The miner started back to the nearest circuit breaker to shut off the power and to look for a fire extinguisher. Remember these circuit breakers are set at about 2000 amperes since they supply the power for the underground locomotives which are known as " Motors" in the mining industry. This short did not kick out the breaker.
By the time he returned to the location of the roof fall the fire was out of control. The unwritten rule in a coal mine when you smell and see smoke, without any outside instructions, is to barricade yourself and save the good air.
At this time I will explain a little about how the coal mining operation was carried out in those days. First, you must realize that a coal mine may extend for several miles under ground and transporting the coal from the face, where it is actually mined, to the outside was usually done by means of trains consisting of the Motor and a string of 15 or 20 cars loaded with coal. The only brakes were on the Motor so there was not much control as far as stopping is concerned. The Motors are powered by the D.C. voltage of the trolley which may be either 300 volts or 600 volts. Powhatan No. 3 had a 300 volt power system.
Since empty cars must be brought back into the mine for loading with coal, there is always a traffic problem, especially when there is only a single track throughout the mine with occasional passing sidings.
The Powhatan No. 3 Mine remained sealed until 19 Oct 1944 and no coal was mined until 23 Oct 1944. The investigation of this mine fire showed that the miners who were trapped at one of the face areas possibly could have made it out of the mine by using the return air passage, which was about 5 or 6 feet away from the Haulage way where the fire was burning. The Haulage way is the fresh air intake and was separated by about 5 or 6 feet of coal from the return air passage. There was no way to communicate with the trapped miners to tell them of this possibility.
The U.S. Bureau of Mines decided that a better communication system was necessary, and to that end, they contacted the Mine Safety Appliances Company, who were experts in mine safety, for the possible design and development of such a system.
However, MSA did not have any expertise in this area at that time. It seems as though Mr. Breisch knew a Mr. White at MSA and between them they decided to try an Inductive Train Communication System in a coal mine.
Montour No. 4 Mine
I was party to these tests made at Montour No. 4 mine, near Montour, Pennsylvania, which is just a short distance from the Swissvale plant of Union Switch. I designed the equipment that went on the Motor, using as much of the railroad design as possible. The Dispatchet's equipment was the standard railroad tower unit. The big problem was the 600 volt D,C. power used on the Motor at this mine.
Again I must remind you we were working with vacuum tubes, since transistors had not yet been invented. Power and heat were no problem so we used big dropping resistors, cooled with a fan to drop the 600 volt D.C down to the 250 volts we needed for the electronics.
The tests at Montour No.4 were a success, but there were many things that had to be changed such as the size and cost of the equipment. In other words the idea of a VLF mine communication system was good, but the equipment must be designed for the conditions existing in the Mining Industry, not the Railroad Industry, especially with respect to the power available, the size of the unit, and, of course, the cost.
The management at Union Switch and Signal decided to let a different group work on this new design since Mr. Breisch and the ITC group were tied up with Railroad work. This turned out to be a mistake and the first system these people came up with would not hold together long enough to conduct much of an underground test.
It was back to the drawing board and this time they did design a system that seemed to hold some promise of being successful. This was in 1948 and since it was really the first system that had any chance of performing satisfactorily, it was designated the A48 Model MinePhone.
Quite a few of the A48 MinePhones were sold to the Mine Safety Appliances Company who, in turn, sold them to several Coal Mining Companies. It wasn't long before problems began to show up, not only with the durability of the equipment, but with a condition in some mines where the trolley was negative with respect to the rail instead of positive. The system refused to work at all because of a noise problem that seemed to be present only in negative trolley mines. Unfortunately, there were a lot of negative trolley mines.
I want to digress to things a little more personal. As you will recall, our first lovely daughter, Jeanne, was born shortly after my return from the Navy and she was growing to be a delightful little girl. However, her mother and I thought that if one little girl was so nice, another little boy or girl would double our pleasure and provide Jeanne with a companion.
Our second beautiful little bundle of joy was a little girl, born on 15 Feb 1950, and we named her Janice. Now we had two beautiful daughters and our family was complete, except for a series of pets, most of which were cats. We did have one turtle named Flash for a while but being a naturally wild animal, we decided the natural habitat was best for the turtle and turned it loose in the hollow across the street from our home in Shaler Park. During these years when our family was growing up we traveled back to Culver, Indiana several times to visit with my family and to Payne, Ohio for the Taylor family reunions which were held at The Church of God Campground just outside the town of Payne, Ohio. My Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Edward Kilpatrick lived in Payne and were members of that Church and made all of the arrangements for its use by the Taylor family. We had as many as 65 people at some of these reunions, and my mother, being very much a family oriented person, enjoyed every moment of every reunion.
Doris and myself, along with Jeanne and Janice. always stayed at Aunt Dorothy's home in Payne and we had an enjoyable visit. We usually would arrive in Payne sometime on Saturday afternoon and, after the reunion on Sunday, we would drive back to Glenshaw. We were always very late in getting home since it was very difficult to leave the reunion early, but we didn't mind for we all had a good time.
Now back to the problems with the old A48 MinePhone. By the time these problems were noted and the system re-designed in an attempt to solve them, it was time to designate the new system the B50. Again using the year of introduction and the 2nd letter of the alphabet for the second major design.
This B50 MinePhone did not solve the negative trolley problem and we were still having too many component failures, so the powers that be gave the whole thing back to the ITC group. The biggest change that had been made was to replace the small miniature tubes with the larger more durable octal tubes. We then went to work and came up with the first truly successftil MinePhone System--we called it, as you may have guessed, the C52, and many hundreds of them were sold. I had come up with a filtering system that could be modified in the field when being installed, to work equally well on either positive or negative trolley power. There was only one problem; the system was too expensive to manufacture. A cheaper, equally durable and equally perforning MinePhone must be developed, and to that end we went back to the drawing board.
The job of designing this new MinePhone system fell for the most part on me and, with the able help of the other ITC group engineers under the expert guidance of Mr. E. W. Breisch, we came up with an entirely new system which was designated the D55 MinePhone.
All of the previous MinePhones had used a separate transmitter and a separate receiver. The new D55 model would have only one chassis with both transmitter and receiver on it. This reduced the cost and, by using a case that was deep drawn instead fabricated, a further reduction of cost was achieved. Then by a judicious choice of reliable, but more readily available electronic components, we were able to come up with a satisfactory cost figure.
While all of this development of new equipment for the Mining Industry was going on we still had to keep the railroads happy with our train equipment. This meant a lot of riding around on steam locomotives and cabin cars, mainly on the Pennsylvania Railroad. There was one man, named Harry Brown, who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad at the time we were doing a lot of the testing, who had a cabin car (No. 477027) assigned to him exclusively for test purposes and surveying coverage. We were glad to cooperate with Harry and rode around with him in his private car innumerable times.
The result of all of this testing, etc., was that Harry and I became very close personal friends. However, during a period of hard times on the Railroad, Harry was slated to be bumped to some remote division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Instead he decided to quit the Railroad and obtained a job with Mine Safety Appliances Company working with MinePhone and other mine communication systems such as improved telephones which were known as Pagers.
We lost a good friend on the Railroad, but we gained one in the Mining Industry. Harry and I continued our close relationship in testing and solving the many problems of communication in the mines.
When the time came for testing the new D55 MinePhones, MSA decided to do the testing in, of all places, Powhatan No.3 Mine at Powhatan Point, Ohio--the same mine where the 65 miners died in the fire of 1944. I do not know why this particular mine was selected but it was probably because of a close relationship between the salesman in that area and the management of the mine. There was also easy access at the Ohio River portal where the shop was also located. The shop meant that we could get assistance with the installation of the test units. Also a direct comparison could be made with the performance of the older C52 units which were already in service there. There was also a 3 mile haulage from the face areas to the river where the coal was loaded onto barges for shipment, and communication had always been difficult over this relatively long distance in this mine.
When Harry and I arrived with the first units we found there were three motors temporarily out of service in the shop which we could use for our tests. The only problem was that I could not keep the first unit operating long enough to get the second one installed. The problem turned out to be the use of an audio output tube that was designed for a maximum of 250 volts D.C. The trolley voltage at the Powhatan No.3 mine was always close to 330 volts D.C. Back to the drawing board again and, with a different output pair of tubes, we came back to the mine a couple of weeks later for more tests. This time the units held together and with the help of mine personnel we had a very good test run. The new D55 MinePhone worked better than the old C52 system.
I will never forget the electrical foreman's stories about the mine fire, and he had a lot of them. He liked to tell us about how he helped to recover the bodies after they opened the mine--he would stop the jeep we were riding and say that he found two bodies at this point and then later a body at that point. This went on until we came to a place in the haulage way where it expanded in both dimensions--the roof, instead of being only about 6 feet high was now closer to twenty feet, and the width increased from about ten feet to about twenty feet. He stopped the jeep and told us that this was where the fire started. One thing I found out about the Mining Industry real quickly was that they like to tell all kinds tales, true or not, if they know that you have had no, or at least, very little underground experience.
We left the new D55 MinePhones in the mine in order to give them a real on-the-job test with the usual lack of care that is given to any equipment used in the mines, especially if it does not belong to the mine. We had a few minor problems develop but they were easily handled.
Powhatan Mine No.3 was the only mine that I knew of where they would allow a non-miner to run the jeeps without an experienced miner being along. Several times I would show up at the mine alone, walk down the slope to the bottom, call the dispatcher and tell him who I was and that I wanted to check our new MinePhones. He would tell me to get into one of the jeeps and come to No. 4 South, pull off on the siding and give him another call. I told him I would not know when I was at No. 4 South. He said I could not miss it for it was the first siding I would come to. With that, I put the pole up to the trolley and away I went, hoping that I would not meet the train of loads coming out. I made it, without any trouble, but I still think the mine was a little careless. They would not be able to do such a thing under the rules now in force.
We put the D55 MinePhone into production and produced a couple of thousand of the systems before we finally decided to go with transistors using a twelve volt automotive battery for power with the battery being charged from the trolley. This Transistorized version was known as the E60 MinePhone and was the last one to be built at Union Switch and Signal Company, and was the last one to bear a year in its model number. Mine Safety Appliances Company did not want a model number that would tie it down to a particular year.
The E60 MinePhone never performed as good as the D55, but considering the crude transistors we had available to work with, it was not bad for the first attempt at a solid state unit. The basic transistor used was the 2N44 for the low power stages and the 2NI099 for the power output stages. These large output transistors were so inefficient at the frequencies we were using that it required 4 of them in the transmitter to get the necessary 25 watts output.
The performance was not the only problem with the E60; the cost was too high and MSA insisted that they could not sell it in the Mining Industry at a profit at the price Union Switch was quoting. We compromised and let MSA furnish the loudspeaker, the microphone, resistor box for charging the battery, and the cables. Union Switch would only provide the transmitteir-receiver. This worked out pretty good for both companies and we went into production.
After we had produced a few hundred of the E60 MinePhones we began receiving reports that the squelch circuit was not working in most of the mine installations. A quick fix had to be designed and made available to MSA. That job fell to me and turned out to be the last design job I would do at Union Switch and Signal Company. My new design of the squelch circuit worked fine but the problem was who would pay for the fix since the entire squelch module had to be replaced in every E60 MinePhone we had produced. I suggested that we should furnish MSA with the parts at or near our cost and they were willing to accept such an arrangement and bear the cost of actually installing the modules.
The powers that be at Union Switch did not like that idea of mine in the least, but they did go along with it. I reasoned that we had made our profit on the original module and did not need to make additional money on a mistake that was really our fault. I still feel that this problem was a large part of the reason that I found myself without a job in August of 1962.
The sudden decline in the Railroad business and the poor judgement of executives of US&SCo. had caused a major cut back in the operations at the Swissvale plant that eventually led to the closing and sale of the entire facility. What a shame, for there was still a lot of life left in the plant, but what could you do.
On my way home that fateful day I stopped at MSA and talked about possible employment. Two days later I received a job offer from Mr. White which I accepted without hesitation and started to work the next week when their vacation period was over. I was now working with the same people with whom I had been working all those years on the MinePhone development and testing.
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
Now that I am in the middle of changing jobs, I believe that I should go back about 15 years and tell you about one of the earlier projects in which I was involved at Union Switch and Signal. This project was the development and design and, later, the installation of an ITC system of communication for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad out of Wilmington, North Carolina. This was not the main line of the railroad.
In the inductive type of system we make use of the telephone lines that usually parallel the tracks of the railroad to carry the signal at the very low frequencies for several miles and the magnetic field set up by the small currents in the telephone lines to induce a small voltage into the receiving coils or antennae of the mobile equipment. If the telephone line goes into an underground cable, we not only lose the signal in the area of the cable, you also lose it almost completely after the cable section ends and the telephone line is again on poles.
That was the problem I faced on the ACL Railroad; there were two sections of underground cable just a few miles north of Wilmington towards Rocky Mount, North Carolina and a few miles south towards Florence, South Carolina. This was where they wanted communication.
I designed two repeaters at frequencies of 15KH. and 20KH. to carry the signal beyond these two sections of underground cable and then to change the frequency back up to the standard frequencies used on the locomotives and cabin cars.
After we finally were able to manufacture the equipment it was my job to install it and get it working to the railroad's satisfaction. This turned out to be almost three months of field work so I moved both Doris and Jeanne to Wilmington for a couple of months. We rented an apartment on Wrightsville Beach in a building in which we were the only tenants--it was early spring and the summer season had not yet started. We all enjoyed the stay on the beach even though it was the wrong season.
The big surprise and disappointment came when we were finished with the system and had 100% checked everything and all was working fine and I went into the Superintendent's office to report our completion of the project. I planned to turn it over to the ACL Railroad for their use. The Superintendent thanked me for my efforts and then told me I should go back to the main base there in Wilmington and turn the equipment OFF. I turned it off as I was instructed to do and went back to Pittsburgh with a heavy heart.
I later realized that the old steam locomotives in use on this Division were scheduled to be scrapped and that the passenger trains were to be discontinued and the ACL Railroad did not want to spend the money to equip the diesels with our equipment. It was very good experience, but quite a let down to know that it was all for naught.
Back to the MinePhone
Doris, Jeanne, and I did get to see some of the big Southern Plantation homes while we were there and the annual Azalea Festival was a beautiful sight to see, so not all was lost.
However, the show must go on. We continued with our work on improving both the TrainPhone and the MinePhone systems, but we could see that the Railroad business was going to drop off as their customers switched more and more to trucks for their shipping, and the Pennsylvania Railroad began to cut back their spending. The merging of the Pennsylvania and the New York Central Railroad and the subsequent failure of the Penn Central Railroad spelled the end of the ITC program at Union Switch and Signal Company.
Traveling Back to Culver
This probably is a good time to catch up with what was going on in our little family in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. Our travels were mainly restricted to a few visits to Culver, Indiana while Jeanne was a little girl (before Janice was born). I can remember taking along a Coleman Stove to heat her formula when we stopped along the road. In those days there were no Interstate Highways and our route was always U.S. No.30 from Pittsburgh to Plymouth, Indiana and then State Route No.17 from Plymouth to Culver. Later on when Jeanne was drinking milk instead of formula we had a difficult time finding the homogenized milk that she needed in Culver. After a search of the local stores we did manage to find what we wanted.
After Janice was born in 1950 and Jeanne was of school age we still had to stop regularly at the little parks which were built along the roads in Ohio and prepare food including the warm milk for Janice. Many times we also took along Doris' two parents and, although the car was a little more crowded we always had a good time.
As the two girls grew a little older we ventured on trips to other destinations such as Washington, D.C., Niagara Falls, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and even Jackson, Mississippi to see my sister Ruth and her friend Emelia.
When Jeanne was just an infant we took Doris' two parents to New York City and I can remember the fascination of the big city with its never ending activity. Mr, Hughes wanted to stay up all night and watch out the window to see fire trucks etc. that never seemed to stop. Aunt Gladys stayed home and took care of Jeanne. I believe this was in 1946.
I do remember one thing very well; we could never pass a frozen custard stand when Jeanne and/or Janice were along. They could sense them with their eyes closed at night in the dark, and we usually stopped, for Mom and Dad liked frozen custard, too.
Before we get too far away from Union Switch I wish to mention two other projects in which I played a major role while I was still with them. The first was a remote controlled electric railroad car for the New Haven Railroad Company. It was to be done by using a modification of the Cab Signaling system that Union Switch had been selling for some time. My job was to equip the car with a TrainPhone and that meant that I had to glue an antenna to the roof of the car using an epoxy cement. After we finished the installation and preliminary tests the day for the big show finally came. The Mayor of New York City was there as well as the Wheels from the New Haven Railroad along with the Press Corps and movie cameras. Everything went well and the Railroad had its publicity, which was the reason for the whole project anyway. It had no practical application in any way, shape, or form.
The other project was a remote control system for the Soaking Pits of The Steel Company of Canada in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Here I again drew the job of designing the equipment and supervising the installation as well as making it work as the customer wanted. This equipment was sold through the MSA Conpany, but nobody at MSA knew anything about this type of a system, so it all fell to me.
We did get it built using relays as a counting chain to differentiate between the various soaking pits, etc. We used a MinePhone type of inductive VLF communication system to transmit the signals from the overhead crane to the soaking pit covers. After several trips to Hamilton, Ontario we got the system operating and accepted by the customer. It was a big job, but we did it. I even was able to have Doris, Jeanne, and Janice with me in Canada over the long weekend of the Fourth of July. I do not remember what the year was for either of these two projects, but they were in the late 50's.
Mine Safety Appliances Company (MSA)
Now, let's get back to my change of employment from Union Switch to Mine Safety Appliances Company, and I want you to remember the statement that I made about the fire at the Powhatan No.3 Mine and how it influenced my career. That fire started the interest in developing an underground communication system for contacting trapped miners. This job eventually came to Union Switch via the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the MSA Company and I became one of the principle design engineers involved in this Mine communication project. This fact allowed me to step right in at MSA as an employee with expertise in a line of equipment which they needed.
The irony of this whole situation is that, although we developed a good reliable underground mine communication system, we never did solve the communication with a trapped miner problem. MSA's MinePhone equipment as well as our competitor's TrolleyPhone equipment could not communicate much beyond a broken trolley wire and a broken telephone line. A buried telephone line was almost impossible to maintain in a coal mine, and was useless for the VLF carrier type of systems. UHF and VHF radio type communication equipment was also tried but the range was at best a few thousand feet, or to the first bend or corner in the entry way.
What we did have, though, was a system which could improve the efficiency and safety of the mining operation. For example: A train of loaded cars must make its way out of the mine several times each shift, and at the same time trains of empty cars must also make their way back into the face where the mining is actually done. If you have a single track railroad for a haulage way with a limited number of passing tracks, the dispatcher (who controls all of the train movements) must know where these loads and empties are located.
Under the old system of telephones only, the reports from the motormen operating the motors came to the dispatcher whenever the motorman felt like stopping his train and calling in on the telephone. And this did not happen as often as it should. The result of this lack of communication was that the dispatcher, not knowing where the trains were, had to delay the loaded trains in the mine until empties arrived, or delay the empties departure from the outside until the loaded train made its way to the outside. You cannot mine coal when you have no empties into which you may put the product of your efforts.
However, with the advent of the MinePhones, this all changed since the dispatcher could now call the motormen whenever he wanted and find out exactly where they were, including when they were at or near a passing siding. The result of this added bit of information allowed the dispatcher to actually have two trains heading for each other without danger in the mine, knowing that one would be at a passing siding in plenty of time. If one train didn't make it, the dispatcher could stop the other train. We were often told that, on the average, one more train load of coal could be gotten out of the mine each shift with a good communication system.
When I started to work at MSA, I found out that I was in the sales department--I had always been in the engineering department at Union Switch. This bothered me a little at first but I soon got over it and my first assignment was to go to the Bluefield, West Virginia office and check out the problems with the E60 MinePhones and, most important, to install three or four sets of the replacement sub sections I had developed before leaving Union Switch. I found out that there was a definite problem with the old squelch design and that noise was breaking through a lot of the time when no signals were being received. The purpose of the squelch, as you probably know, is to keep the audio part of the receiver shut down until an actual signal is received. The problem in the design of a squelch circuit is in recognizing the electronic difference between a very weak, but readable signal, and the noise that exists in the mine, and there is lots of it. Most of the noise comes from the rectifiers that change the A.C. to D.C. for the trolley and other power circuits. There is also the problem of the squelch circuit telling the difference between the voice modulation of the received signal and the circuit noise. If this is not done properly the audio output will clip off on the high peaks of modulation,
There are many more sources of electrical noise in the mines such as D.C. commutator noise, sparks from the contact of the pole of the various vehicles with the trolley wire, electric arc welding and the sparks from the wheels of the motors contacting the steel rails which are the return path of the trolley power circuit. As a matter of fact, whenever I would install a MinePhone on a vehicle, I would always set the squelch control on the receiver to "hold" the noise created by pulling the pole of the vehicle slowly away from the trolley wire (with the bead light on), causing an arc to develop. When the squelch would "hold" this noise of the arc, it would hold most any other noise in the mine as well.
The new subsections worked fine and now the big problem was to make the field modifications in the balance of the E60 MinePhones. Any units that came in for repair were automatically modified and the others were changed in the field as fast as they were located and new subsections could be obtained from Union Switch.
One of the things which I had promised myself when I left Union Switch was that I would press for a new design of MinePhone based on the use of the much improved transistors that were now available. You remember the E60 MinePhone never performed as good as the old D55 vacuum tube model and was rapidly becoming too costly to manufacture, as evidenced in the continual price increases of Union Switch.
I also wanted to have a completely "in house" MinePhone to allow quicker and easier changes if they became necessary and to have a much better control over the costs. To this end we finally were able to get the design and development of a completely new MinePhone system authorized. It was to be known as the Model 1601 MinePhone. The 16 derived from the fact that all mine communication was in product group 16, and the 01 as the first design.
I was temporarily transferred to the Engineering Department while I worked on the new MinePhone. It took a little longer than we had expected, but we did come up with the first MinePhone designed and manufactured at MSA. I do not remember the dates but we built the equipment, tested it in the field in several different mines and put it in production with only a few small problems.
During all of the time which I had spent at Union Switch as well as at MSA there were many changes going on in my personal life. Some of these are worth noting. The biggest shock was the death of my father in Culver, Indiana on 6 April 1954.
We knew that he was very ill, but nothing ever seems to prepare you for the realization that your father has really passed on. Over the years your parents were always there--whenever you needed someone to fall back on or some place to go, they were there. For the first time you suddenly come face to face with the cruel truth: no one, not even your beloved parents, is immortal.
My sister Martha's husband Harold Robinson died on 27 Feb 1960. She later married a man named Steve Stapan who was born in Russia. He did not live long and I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Doris' father, Mr. Earl V. Hughes died 3 Aug 1956. Our two mothers were now both widows.
Our family remained relatively intact for several years until Doris' brother Leslie passed on 6 Sept 1970. My mother had died on 16 Aug 1970 and these two deaths came as a big shock to both Doris and me.
The Girls Are Growing Up
Enough of the sadder aspects of life and back to the happy things of our existence here on the Earth. Our two beautiful girls were growing up to be beautiful young ladies and we were very proud of them both. Their birthdays were celebrated regularly with small parties which were recorded as still pictures by their proud father.
However, the children did grow up and soon they wanted to become a little more independent, which is, of course, only natural, but it is difficult for a parent to adjust to these evolving situations. But adjust we did.
Jeanne decided she would prefer to take a business course in downtown Pittsburgh upon graduation from High School rather than attend college. She then found herself a job in Pittsburgh and went to work, still living at home. Janice, on the other hand, wanted to go to college and did so at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Greenville is about 85 miles north of Pittsburgh, just off of Interstate 79. Of course, the Interstate was not finished when we were doing the traveling between Glenshaw and Greenville.
We were very fortunate that Janice was able to take the test for the MSA scholarship and, because of her excellent grades in school and because of her good showing on the test, she was awarded the scholarship. Mr John T. Ryan, Jr., the CEO of Mine Safety Appliances Company called Janice at home to break the good news that she had won the scholarship and, although I was at work that day, I did not know that she had won it. When I arrived home that day I was in for a big happy reception--one that I will never forget. The scholarship amounted to $1000 each of the first two years, and then $I 500 each of the last two years. Janice also received a State scholarship each year and I believe it was about $500 per year.
Janice spent one semester of her Junior year at Drew University studying the United Nations in New York City as part of her Political Science Major. It was at Drew that she met her first husband, Richard D. Kemp. They were married at the Elfinwild Presbyterian Church in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania on 26 May 1973 with Rev. J. Robert Henderson officiating.
Janice graduated from Thiel Collage in the spring of 1972 and went to work for the Internal Revenue Service in Norristown, Pennsylvania while Doug entered the Law School of Villanova University. Janice quit her job with IRS in 1973 and also entered the Law School at Villanova, just one year after Doug.
In due course they both finished their three year courses in law in 1975 and 1976 with Juris Doctorate degrees, and found employment in New Jersey after passing the New Jersey Bar examination. Doug went into the private practice of law while Janice became an Assistant District Attorney of Mercer County, New Jersey. She later took a job with The Prudential Casualty Company where she worked until they moved to Florida in 1988.
Janice and Doug had two beautiful children; Melissa Anne, born 03 March 1980 and John Richard, born 04 Dec 1981. Both were born in Princeton, New Jersey. John was named after his two Grandfathers. Janice and Doug were divorced on 05 June 1992.
Jeanne married a boy who went through both grade and high school with her, William E. Wightman, on 14 Oct 1967 in the Elfinwild Presbyterian Church in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, with the Rev. J. Robert Henderson officiating. Bill had served several years in the army and ended his military career in Viet Nam. They were married shortly after he returned from service and, after Bill finished his education at Point Park College in downtown Pittsburgh, they moved to Louisville, Kentucky where he worked for a time at Fort Knox preparing TV training tapes for the U.S. Army.
Bill decided that sort of work was not for him and took a job as a sales representative for BCS Company. This company was later taken over by Fluke Instrument Company of Seattle, Washington. Fluke later moved Bill to Orlando, Florida where he and Jeanne still reside.
When Janice and Doug moved to Florida they bought a very nice home in Longwood which is just a few miles north of Jeanne's home. However, when Janice and Doug broke up, it became necessary for Janice to return to work. She studied very hard, took the Florida Bar examination and was duly admitted to the Florida Bar. She has since moved to Tampa, Florida where she is the leading attorney for The Prudential Casualty Company in that area and has a beautiful and efficient office.
Just before Bill and Jeanne moved to Florida they adopted two beautiful girls. The oldest girl was Judy, who was born on 03 June 1969, and the younger one was Kathy, who was born on 31 Jan 1972. Both Judy and Kathy were born in the state of Kentucky. On 28 March 1992 we attended the wedding of our oldest granddaughter, Judy, to Kevin Nicholson of Ocala, Florida where he manages a Toys-R-Us store. The wedding took place at The Lake View Inn in Mt. Dora, Florida, and it was a well planned spectacular event that we all enjoyed. My sister Ruth and her friend Emelia were able to come from Jackson, Mississippi to join us at the wedding and to enjoy the festivities that followed.
At almost the same time that Janice moved to her new job and home in Tampa, Bill and Jeanne bought a newer and larger home in Longwood, Florida where they still live. Bill, in addition to his full time employment with Fluke, has become a part time Deputy Sheriff of Seminole County. It seems that this type of work was one of the unrealized interests of Bill.
Doris and I now spend our Thanksgivings in Florida, usually one week or so with each of our daughters. We did spend a very exciting week with Bill and Jeanne in Arizona one year.
We flew to Phoenix from Pittsburgh and they came in from Orlando and we met at the Airport, rented a car, and were on our way. The first night we stayed at the Doubletree Suites Motel at the Phoenix Gateway. At this motel they come around in the evening with a large delicious Chocolate Bit Cookie for each guest. After enjoying a complimentary breakfast the next day, we drove leisurely on to Sedona, Arizona. There are many beautiful and interesting sights near Sedona and the Oak Creek Canyon. We stayed overnight in Sedona at the Quality Inn-Kings Ransom Motel. The next day we moved on to Grand Canyon where we spent most of that day. There is no other place on Earth that can compare with your first sight of Grand Canyon from the South Rim--it is breath taking, to say the least. We ate lunch at the Grand Canyon. The elevation is about 8000 feet.
From Grand Canyon we moved on to Flagstaff where we again put up for the night, this time at the Best Western Pony Soldier Motel. The next morning we traveled by way of Holbrook and Show Low to Globe. From Globe we went to Apache Junction to pick up the famous Apache Trail.
The Apache Trail, which is a must for anyone wishing to see and experience traveling the real Arizona, is Arizona Route 88 and is paved only from Apache Junction to Tortilla Flats. From there to the Roosevelt Dam it is just a dusty, crooked, and sometimes steep gravel road. However, it is more than worth any inconvenience just to see the sights and to learn the history of the road.
Also, be sure to stop at Tortilla Flats, enjoy a hamburger, a drink, and take home a souvenir. It is well worth your time. Unfortunately, part of the road was under construction and we had to wait until it was opened at about 4:00 Pm. We did make it all the way to the dam but we could not linger long enough to see much before we thought it necessary to start back to Phoenix where we had a reservation at the Courtyard by Marriott in Mesa, Arizona. The Courtyard by Marriott was a very nice place to stay, even if they did not pass out the cookies each evening. The rates were not too high when you are vacationing at the "off peak" time of the year--this was in early May 1989.
The next day we traveled to Tucson where we again stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott at the Tucson Airport. The next day we traveled to Tombstone, which no one visiting Arizona should miss, and then on to Bisbee. Bisbee is an old Copper Mining town without a copper mine. The mine has closed, but the big open pit hole in the ground is still there as are some of the drift mines. One of the drift mines has tours, so all of us except Doris went on the underground tour.
Since the closing of the Mines around Bisbee, Arizona, the town had fallen on hard times, but there has been a sort of recovery because of its popularity with artists--you see them and their works all over the place. In addition, there is quite a business in selling Native American jewelry, blankets, and rugs, and don't forget the tourists, such as our little group.
We stopped at the old Copper Queen Hotel and had lunch and I talked them out of one of their menus for a keepsake. The Copper Queen Hotel is the place where one MSA salesman lived for many years, long before I started at MSA. They say that every morning he would come down from his room to the lobby and buy a copy of every paper they had, and then sit there in the lobby and read them all. I guess that he got away with this because the Pittsburgh Office would assume he was out calling on the customers. He was a good salesman, though, and everyone knew him and liked him well.
We then returned to Tucson where we had dinner at Pinnacle Peaks. This is another place that is unique to Arizona and should not be missed if you enjoy large juicy steaks with western baked beans. French fries are available if you want them. One caution: Do not wear a tie that you value, for it will be cut off with a big pair of scissors by one of the waiters. He will walk around ringing a cow bell, letting the other customers know what is going to happen, and when everyone shouts, "Off with the tie", off it comes. It will then be tacked up on a ceiling beam somewhere, with your calling card, if you have one.
The next day we visited Old Tucson which is a made-for-movies type town where several movies have been filmed and still are occasionally made. Saguaro National Monument is nearby, so we drove through it to see the native cacti, and there are plenty of them to see, along with the Arizona-Sonora Museum. This museum has many of the desert animals on display, alive, including rattlesnakes. Take your time and enjoy your visit for there is a charge to get into the museum.
I believe this was the day that we took the tram ride up The Sabino Canyon, which was a very pleasant and interesting ride. We also drove up the road toward Mt. Lemon to see the view back toward Tucson. All in all, there is a lot to see in Tucson area, but we just didn't have time to see everything.
After a restful night at the Courtyard Motel we travelled to Benson and then on to Wilcox on Interstate 10 and using State Route 186 and 181 we ended up at the Chiricahua National Monument in the southeast corner of Arizona. This is quite a place to see, with all of the unusual rock formations, cliffs, and valleys as well as the beautiful trees. There is also a lot of Native American history at Chiricahua.
We went back to 110 via State Route 181 and U.S. Route 666, on through Benson to Tucson. We stayed our last night in Arizona at the Courtyard Motel and returned home on 16 May 1989.
The above description is probably in too much detail, but I did want to tell what we actually did on this one trip. When I talk about any more trips, I will attempt to keep them a little bit shorter.
Doris and I had made a similar trip to Arizona in May of 1980, just after I had retired. However we stayed three days and two nights at the Grand Canyon, but we did not hike or ride the mules down into the Canyon. They told us you must make reservations a year or so ahead to ride the mules. The balance of the trip was very much the same as the one we had with Bill and Jeanne.
I had also made several trips to Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana on business for MSA. In fact I have visited 47 of the 50 States, either on business or on vacation traveling. My first trip out West occurred way back in 1938. The following paragraphs recount that experience.
I was working in Johnstown at that time and on my two weeks vacation I had driven home to Culver, Indiana. The day after I arrived home my cousin Harold Taylor, who was my Uncle Grover's son, stopped in with a new Plymouth he had purchased and was taking delivery in Detroit, Michigan. He was driving back to his home in California and wanted someone to go with him. I eagerly volunteered after checking the cost of the bus ride back home from Los Angeles. I figured that I had enough money to make the trip.
The trip out was interesting but uneventful and we both had a real good time with all of the scenery, none of which I had seen before. I took a lot of black and white pictures and after Yosemite National Park and the Great Pacific Ocean, I boarded my bus for the return trip to Culver.
A bus trip of this length in those days was very tiring and in addition I thought I lost my wallet somewhere in the midwest. I went up to the bus driver to tell him of my problem and he suggested that I call back where we ate lunch and inquire if it had been found in the lunch room. I walked back to my seat very much concerned since all of my money except some small change as well as my bus ticket and driver's license were gone.
When I approached my seat, what do you know? There was my wallet wedged between the seat cushion and the back of the seat. I told the bus driver that I had found my wallet and would not need to make the telephone call at the next stop. Another strange thing happened in Kansas City where we stopped for another rest and lunch break. I was wearing a large "10 Gallon" hat which I had bought in California and a stranger approached me with a "sure" way of making big money if I would just come with him. I turned him down and boarded the bus as fast as I could. I believe he thought that I was some sort of a push over because of the big hat. No one else had one even approaching the size of mine. I still have that old hat up in our attic.
While Janice was still living in New Jersey, Doris and I went with them to Maine on two different trips. The first trip was while Melissa was still a small baby, about six months old. They had rented a very nice cottage that came complete with all of the housekeeping necessities except the food. What food we did not take with us we bought at Bar Harbor, Maine, since we were staying on Mount Desert Island. We enjoyed the short trips to the small villages and lobster fishing ports as well as the good dinners at Testa's Restaurant. I am not sure of that spelling.
Our cottage had a wonderful view of Somes Sound and was quite secluded with trees and bushes all around, isolating us from our neighbors. Since it was in the early fall, (around Labor Day) it was cool in the evenings and a fire in the fireplace was a welcome and pleasurable source of warmth. One thing I do remember; mother and Janice had to sing almost continually to keep little Melissa amused while we were traveling from New Jersey to Mount Desert Island. I do not remember if the singing was necessary on the return trip.
On the second trip we stayed at a different cottage with an entirely new view. At this cottage we had a large deck on which the sea gulls would come each day for a handout of food. They were very tame and I was able to get a few pictures while they sat on the table that was on the deck. We also had regular visits from the local raccoons. They appeared to be well fed for they were all big and fat which indicated that they also were being fed at some of the other cottages in the neighborhood. On this trip we took a short cruise near Mount Desert Island on a boat out of Bar Harbor and we did see a lot that you cannot see from land. I want to say that both Melissa and John were along with us; John was about nine months old, as near as I can recall.
These Maine trips always seemed to end too soon, but that is the way it was. I remember on the return home from our last Maine adventure, we came through the Bronx part of New York City. It looked almost like a war zone, and I guess it was in a reality, a war zone of sorts. We made it through the war zone and arrived back in New Jersey safely.
I will now attempt, at last, to put the following short outline of some trips that the family made, as well as some which I made for the company for whom I worked, in chronological order. I do not have exact dates for some of these.
Back in 1967 all four of us, Doris, Jeanne, Janice, and myself drove to Jackson, Mississippi in our new 1967 Chevy Caprice. The air conditioner was an after thought and was installed by Sears and it worked fine except that the condensate drain hose came off and the water drained in on Doris' feet and the carpet on the floor. I do not know why, but the wet carpet created a terrible-odor that was almost unbearable. We had to air them, out of the car, in the sunshine the whole time we were there. I had re-attached the hose.
On this trip, Doris and I decided to buy a watermelon and cool it in the bathtub of our Motel on the return trip, much to the chagrin of the two girls who thought we were out of our minds. We must have been, for it did not cool so we took it with us the next day. We finally found a nice picnic ground where we could eat our melon, but the two girls would have nothing to do with it. They thought it was going to rain. Mother and I found a suitable table and cut our watermelon and just as we began to eat, the downpour of rain began and we ran for the car with one piece of melon each for the two of us, getting soaked in the process. We never went back to claim the balance of the melon.
We did stop at Mammoth Cave later that day, and then on to good old Glenshaw, Pennsylvania.
Trip to Chile and Peru
In January of 1969, Mr. Ray Light of the MSA International Division and I made a two week trip to Chile and Peru in South America. It seems that we had sold some of the copper mines down there our MinePhone and HoistPhone equipment and they needed some help to set it up and to get it working.
I do not remember the exact date or the time of departure, but we flew from Pittsburgh to Miami and arrived there about 1:00 PM, and since our departure was not until after 6:00 PM, I decided to take a taxi tour of the area of Miami Beach. The driver showed me all of the sights and then I asked him to take me to a decent restaurant where I could eat dinner. He did and I did, and the total bill was only about $35, including the taxi ride, which was not bad. I had dismissed him at the eating place, so I took another taxi back to the Airport where I met Ray Light, and we continued our flight south to Panama. We both got off to stretch our legs, and then re-boarded the plane, headed for Ecuador.
We both deplaned in Ecuador, to stretch our legs, and then we were off to Antofagasta, (Sp?) Chile, and then on to Valparaiso, Chile, which was not our final destination. We were met at the Valparaiso airport, after going through Customs and Immigration, by he MSA representative in Chile and taken to the Hotel in Santiago where a room had been reserved for each of us. We rode in his pickup truck.
I can't remember his name, but our host was very attentive; very much as though his job depended upon it, and it may have, too. He insisted on taking us out for dinner the first night with his wife and another friend. My first introduction to food in Chile was very interesting, indeed. We started off with a raw fish salad which I could not eat, and this was followed by a concoction of ground up corn with a typical Mexican flavor, served on the Husks of the corn. Then, I believe we had some sort of cooked fish which was followed by a piece of cake, which was good, and then came the Expresso!. It was instant Expresso made from a jar full of the instant Expresso, which had occupied the center of the table, with each person making his own poison in a small demitasse type cup. I watched the lady next to me put three teaspoons of the stuff into her little cup with some hot water--it was so strong that it actually seemed to be thickened--but she drank it without batting an eye. Much to the amazement of our hosts, I used only one half a teaspoon, and even then it was too strong, but I drank it anyway.
That night, which was my first night in Chile, I was awakened about 3:00 o'clock in the morning by the sound of many sirens and popping noises that sounded like gunfire. I thought to myself, with considerable alarm, that a revolution was in progress in Santiago. South American countries were known to have revolutions regularly in those days.
To add to my alarm, when I looked out my seventh floor window, I could see billows of smoke and glowing hot embers of a fire apparently coming from the roof of our hotel and falling to the street below. Not only was there a revolution going on, but the hotel was on fire, too!
I cautiously opened the door, knowing of course that you should not open the door if there was a fire, to see if there was any smoke. There was none, but just in case, I put on my clothes anyway. After sitting in my room for at least an hour watching the fire trucks and police cars racing around on the street below, I finally decided to lay on the bed fully clothed and wait until morning to find out what was going on. I had not called the front desk, for I had soon discovered that English was not the universal language that it was supposed to be.
After breakfast the next day we found out that a building across the street from the other side of the hotel had burned during the night, and that the popping I had heard was the glass in the windows breaking from the heat. I was really disappointed, no revolution!
On one of the trips to a copper mine we went through a tunnel which was in such bad shape that travel in only one direction at a time was allowed. There was a switch that you must push to signal the other end that you were coming through. The light was not on, so we entered after signaling our intentions. There was no way you could drive over about ten miles per hour (in kilometers, of course) for it was necessary to continually drive around rocks which had fallen from the roof of the tunnel. In addition, there were no lights and the headlights of our host's pickup truck left a lot to be desired. The floor was only dirt and gravel.
Ray Light had some business to conduct in Argentina, and when he left, I was on my own, almost. Ray and our host had made arrangements for me to go up in the mountains to another copper mine which was only accessible by means the Auto Carrile. (Sp) This was merely a small bus equipped with railroad wheels so it could run on the same railroad track that was used to bring the copper ore down from the mine.
To get to the Auto Carrile, I was to take a taxi for about twenty miles to a small town south of Santiago. I was given specific instructions not to tip or pay anything to the driver since all of this had been previously taken care of. I waited at the hotel and finally the taxi showed up, and we were on our way, (The driver and me.) There is one thing I must add at this time Chilian drivers are the world's worst--they seem to go out of their way to run over you when you are a pedestrian, and to frighten you when you are riding with them.
My driver was no exception, for he drove like the wind while we were still in the city and then slowed down when we were in the rural areas. We passed a lot of the single axled, two wheeled carts on which the natives ride and also haul their produce to the city. We arrived in due course and after a long wait, the bus with the railroad wheels arrived and I boarded it with my two suitcases since we had checked out of the hotel. The suitcases were put on top of the bus with a lot of other boxes and assorted baggage.
The driver appeared to steer the bus around the curves but you could easily see that the steering wheel was not connected and could be turned at will without changing anything. After about an hour and a half the bus stopped on a siding to allow a train loaded with copper ore to pass in the opposite direction. While this was going on the driver had stopped the engine of the bus, presumably to conserve fuel, and when we were ready to move on, the engine would not start. So there we were, in the middle of nowhere, on a bus with a dead engine, and most of the people not able to converse in English. It was somewhat of a dilemma for me and I could see myself trying to use the local telephone, if I could find one, to inform the mine where I was going, that I was being delayed.
After what seemed to be an eternity, another bus came along going in the same direction as our bus, and you would honestly think that we were on a sinking ship, for all of the women and children got off of our bus and boarded the other bus and were soon on their way to whatever was their destination.
There was not much else to do than sit and wait for something to happen. After another half hour or so, another bus arrived going the same direction, and this time the men began to leave our broken down vehicle. I and my two bags were among them and we all boarded the rescue bus.
Then a strange but worrisome thing happened; I noticed a small sign near the driver that had what appeared to be the name of a small town that presumably would be our destination, but it was not where I was supposed to be going. Now what to do? Would I end up in a small Chillan town with no telephones and no place to stay? The problem was soon solved for the sign proved to be only a reminder for the driver to stop at that location and make a call to the dispatcher and obtain clearance to the next telephone along the right-of-way.
After several stops and telephone calls, the sign for my destination finally appeared and we shortly arrived where we were supposed to be. There was a man there to meet me and my two bags, but imagine my surprise when I found that the town was built on the side of a steep hill with no streets going up the hill--only steps that were never ending, and me with those two heavy bags.
The problem was soon solved, for a young boy appeared from nowhere and offered to carry my suitcases up to our living quarters, which just happened to be almost all the way to the top of the hill. The man who met me said to let him carry the bags and he would take care of the tip. It was a tiring job just to walk up the hill, and I was glad that I did not have to carry the bags--I felt sorry for the boy, but he made it all right. He must have been in better shape than I was. After I was in my room, I heard the man who had met me and the boy arguing over something in Spanish which I could not understand. He later told me that he didn't have the money with him to pay the boy for carrying my bags up the hill, and had promised him that he would pay him the next morning. Of course, the young boy was unhappy about the delay in being paid. He was waiting on the steps the next morning when the mine man came to pick me up, and he did receive his pay.
We were near to the main part of the mine, for it was situated at the top of the hill, and we only had to walk up a couple flights of steps to get there from our Quarters. We discussed how the MinePhones and HoistPhones worked and how to install and check them out, and, since an automobile type storage battery is required to operate the system, we could not make any tests that day. The mine did install one unit on a locomotive and set up another one for a base station and then we had to wait for the batteries.
We spent almost a whole day touring the mine while we waited, and then Ray light finally made it up to the mine, but he was unable to do much since he had become ill from the change in water and food. It had not bothered me--I guess that I was just lucky.
The first evening after Ray arrived, we went for a walk around the place to get some fresh air and to see what we could see of the surface operations of the mine. To do this we passed through several gates that were wide open, but the problem developed when we were returning and one gate was closed and locked. There was also barbed wire on top of the gate as well as the fence. Now what to do? We could see a telephone in the gate house, but there was no access from our side. Would we have to spend the night outdoors?
After about 30 minutes of trying to figure out what to do, a man came up the road and asked what we were doing at that time of the day on that side of the fence. I could not understand all of the conversation that went on between the man and Ray Light (Ray could speak a little Spanish), but he did open the gate and we returned to our rooms without further delay.
The next day we put on a successftil demonstration and soon departed for Santiago on the Auto Carrile and, this time, without any delays being encountered.
We did not stay long in Santiago this time, for in a matter of about two days, we left for Antofagasta and a few days stay at the world's largest open pit mine. We had not sold this mine any electronic equipment, but our representative in Chile wanted us to try to make a sale.
This mine did use several of our other products such as, hard hats, first aid kits, belts, and, I believe our cap lamps. In reality it was more of a courtesy call than anything else. It makes a big impression on these people when the presumed "big wheels" from the United States will stop in and talk with them about their problems, safety or otherwise. I did not feel like a "big wheel", but who was I to argue about it. Actually, it felt kind of good.
Since most of the people working at this mine in a supervisory position were from the USA, the quarters assigned to us were more like those encountered in the mines of North America. The electric receptacles were of the standard American type and my electric shaver would plug in and no transformer and adapter plugs were required. That was not true in the hotel in Santiago where I had to use my standby safety razor until the hotel could come up with a suitable transformer--the line voltage there was 240 volts, and the receptacles were similar to those used in Europe. It seemed they did not have a spare transformer when I first arrived, but when they did get one for me, it easily weighed at least 10 pounds. These big heavy transformers were to preclude the possibility that their guests might pack them by mistake in one of their suitcases when they checked out of the hotel.
The cooks at the mine must have had an interest in a pineapple farm for we had pineapple or pineapple juice at least three times a day. I like pineapple, but this was a little much--I even broke out in a red rash which tasted until I cut back on my consumption of that fruit.
They also had a golf course there on which there was not a blade of grass--not even on the so-called greens. The greens were the same as the fairways except that rocks had been cleared from the greens. The rainfall in this part of Chile is essentially zero and it is really a desert on which nothing will grow. The water must be piped many miles from the mountains and anything that is green has been watered by someone with a little water to spare.
After about three days in Antofagasta and the mine, we returned to Santiago for a few days of mostly talking with the Officials of Chile who were in charge of the National Safety Program. The gentleman heading up this program turned out to be a German who had emigrated to Chile from Germany at the end of World War 2. His time of emigration from Germany indicated that his leaving was somewhat more than a simple desire to be in Chile. He really liked to tell us about his new powers since the new safety regulations had been enacted. He gloated over the fact that his people could go into a factory and, finding a safety violation, take the factory owners off to jail without a hearing or a trial.
We were now ready to depart Chile; I was bound for Lima Peru and Ray Light was going to Bolivia on some other kind of MSA business. I would be on my own after we took our two different flights out of Valparaiso.
Before we went anywhere, we had to settle our bill with our host in Chile since he had paid all of our hotel charges. He had the bill with the amounts in Escudos, the currency being used at that time in Chile. He also had the exchange rate for that day and had calculated what we owed him in USA Dollars. We gave him the money and got a receipted bill for our expense accounts. I think he took the cash we gave him and took it to a black market dealer where you could get 15% to 20% more for hard American currency.
My flight to Lima was uneventful and I was met at the airport by our Peruvian representative who took me to the hotel where I was to stay. It proved to be a rather nice place to live and there were many interesting places to see when I had a spare moment or two. I had arrived in Lima in the morning and my host (I don't remember his name) said we would not leave for the copper mine until the next day, so I had better than a half a day on my own to explore the city.
The next morning I checked out of the hotel and my host picked me up. We were on our way up into the high Andes Mountains where this mine was located. The distance to the mine was about 120 miles, as close as I could estimate, and about every 40 miles he stopped and took off the radiator cap to relieve the pressure caused by the high elevation, he said.
At one point he said we were crossing the continental divide and that there was a sign with elevation marked in both meters and in feet. If I wanted a picture of myself standing next to the sign, he would be glad to take one with my camera.
He stopped the car, I gave him my camera and got out of the car to walk over to the sign post for the picture. That is when I really noticed the lack of oxygen at such high elevations. I staggered a bit, held on to the car, and finally made it over to the sign post for my picture. The sign said the elevation was 15360 feet above sea level. That is the highest I have ever been, before or since then, other than traveling a pressurized airliner.
Most of the road was unpaved and dusty--I actually saw several drivers wearing dust respirators as they drove by us. However, we got to the mine late in the afternoon and found the people we were to see in a smoky bar drinking beer. I was having big problems in breathing and when I entered the bar, it was even more difficult to breathe. One of the men at the mine asked if I was having a problem and when I indicated that I was, he told us both to go to our room and they would bring over some oxygen for us to breathe. We went to our room and in a few minutes a pick up truck came along with a big cylinder of oxygen with a reducing valve and a section of small plastic tubing already attached. The end of the plastic tube was fitted with nose piece and strap to hold it to your nose.
Unfortunately, there was only one nose piece so we had to share it; and this proved to be bothersome when we tried to sleep. My host said he had been up in this high elevation (it was 14500 ft.) before, and he could get along without the oxygen--it wasn't long before he asked to use the oxygen for a minute or two.
It was difficult to sleep, but we did manage to get a little rest. The lack of oxygen gave me a strange feeling of wanting to get out of that place and go where there was plenty of air to breathe--like the sea shore. It seems that when you are accustomed to low elevations, your breathing automatically slows down when you fall asleep. When this happens at these high elevations, there is insufficient oxygen taken in and you awaken with a feeling of being smothered and gasping for air. If you are wearing the oxygen nose piece you can almost sleep normally.
Strange as it must seem, on our way into the mining area, we passed a school soccer field where some of the Native South Americans were playing soccer and they were running all over the field with no apparent difficulty in breathing the very thin air. It must be that they have developed larger lungs and blood with a higher oxygen carrying capacity than we have.
The mining people say you can develop a tolerance for this thin air, but it takes a few weeks. Even so the Company requires that they spend at least one month every year at a sea level elevation.
They had not yet installed their HoistPhone on the hoist, so I was unable to get it actually in service, and they were not planning on doing it until the next general overhaul of the hoist. The best I could do was to lay out the entire system on the floor of the shop, connect up a couple of batteries borrowed from two trucks, and show them how to make the system operate. This I did and then I held a little school of instruction on just how to install it on their hoist. When I talked, I gasped for air after each sentence.
With that done, we departed and headed down to Lima and some good, dense air to breathe. The trip back down out of the mountains seemed to go much quicker than the trip up to the mine, even though it was more dusty. One thing I did notice, however, was that the car began to knock more and more as our elevation decreased. The gas that worked fine at 14000 feet did not work too well at sea level and we had to stop and fill up with high test fuel as soon as we found a gas station on the outskirts of Lima.
The next day I boarded a plane back to the good old USA and after checking through immigration and customs in Miami, Florida, I found myself on a flight to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and home.
Mining Engineering Organization Meeting in Mexico
For some reason the MSA International division wanted me to present a paper to a Mining Engineering organization in Mexico. The paper was to be given in English with a written translation in Spanish available at the meeting. My paper was to be on Modern Mine and Hoist Communication Systems. I prepared the paper and requested that samples of the equipment be made available for the Engineers to see. The International Division had the paper translated and had the equipment shipped to Ciudad de Guanajuato, Mexico where the V REUNION DE INGENIEROS DE SEGURIDAD DE LA INDUSTRIA MINERO METALURGIA was being held.
I was to fly to Mexico City where Mr. John Hogan met me. He was the MSA manager in Mexico at that time, and the next day we drove from Mexico City to Guanajuato where our hotel reservations had been made. It was a very nice place, but it was still hard to get used to changes in the style of living in Mexico.
Breakfasts usually consisted of strong coffee followed by several different kinds of fruit and then bread and rolls. Lunch was similar except that hot chili and some Mexican type sandwiches were offered along with more fruit. At about 4:00 PM a siesta break was taken for more eating, and dinner (or supper) was, left until very late, around 10:00 PM.
The meeting place was an abandoned water storage reservoir made of bricks. It could hold easily 250 people but it still seemed strange to have a meeting in such a place, even though it was completely enclosed without any windows.
Needless to say, I felt a little foolish standing in front of a Spanish speaking group of Engineers, delivering a paper on Mine Communication Systems, as made by Mine Safety Appliances Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in English. It must have gone over OK, for I did get a round of applause when it was over. I do not know if my presentation of the paper created any business for MSA, but it was an educational experience for me and probably generated some good PR.
One interesting thing did happen; on the way into the town we passed a small gasoline powered scooter with two people riding on it. It had a Pennsylvania license plate and we all wondered if these two people, who were in their 50's, at least, had come all the way from Pennsylvania on such a small scooter. After we had settled down at the hotel, I ran into the same two people getting off of their scooter at our hotel, and I inquired about their trip to Mexico. They told me that they had a private plane and had flown down from the States and they carried this little scooter along in the plane for transportation from the airports into town. It seemed like a really good idea.
The next day we returned to Mexico City and I had another day to idle away in Mexico since my plane did not leave until the following day. I inquired of Mr. Hogan about a good place to cat, and after counting off several places on his fingers where he thought he had been poisoned, he suggested that I eat at the hotel where I was staying. He could not join me for dinner since he and his whole family, which consisted of his wife and several children, were packing for two a week vacation back in Pittsburgh. They were far too busy to spare the time.
I did eat at my hotel and the meal turned out be pretty good as well as somewhat of a surprise. I didn't want a big dinner and since I could not read the menu, I ordered something in the middle price range. After about fifteen minutes the kitchen door flew open and out came a waiter with a cart loaded down with a small open-fire stove, a skillet, cooking utensils, and serving plates. What do you know? He came right over to my table and cooked my whole meal on the spot. Not only was I surprised, I was a little embarrassed, too. But I survived.
I believe Mr. Hogan had five children, and everybody was allowed two bags for the trip-- it took two station wagons to get them to the airport-- and it was my luck when we arrived in Chicago, they got to the customs and immigration check points just ahead of me. The customs man took one look at the fourteen bags and waved them on through, so it wasn't as bad as it first seemed to be.
Methane Monitor Instruction in Mexico
As the years passed at MSA, I became involved in several other products, one of which was the Methane Monitors that were required on all underground mining equipment such as continuous miners, cutting machines, loading machines, roof bolters, and drilling machines. I was assigned the job of teaching classes of miners on the installation, use, and calibration of the Methane Monitors sold by MSA. I enjoyed that type of work and I had prepared special sheets to be added to the regular instruction manuals for the Methane Monitors. I also included a short discussion on exactly how the Monitor was supposed to work as well as what the law meant that required their use.
All of this led up to me being asked to go down to Mexico again and put on a Methane Monitor class. Mexico had adopted requirements similar to those in the United States and Methane monitors were required.
This time I was to fly to San Antonio, Texas with all the equipment I usually used for these schools, where I was to be met by two of our Mexican servicemen and they would take me to the border crossing at Eagle Pass, Texas where we would cross over to Piedras Negras, Mexico.
I found the two men in San Antonio and we traveled to Eagle Pass without incident and were almost through checking in with the immigration people when one of them asked me what I was going to do in Mexico. This is almost always asked when you cross into another country, but this time, I hesitated, since I had not been briefed on exactly what I was supposed to say. Finally, I looked at the two servicemen for guidance, but received none, so I told them the truth--that I was going to teach a class about Methane Monitors.
That remark turned out to have been a big mistake. I was told in no uncertain terms that teaching school was work and for that I needed a work permit, which I did not have. I was told that I could not enter Mexico and that it was necessary for me to return to a U.S. Consulate in Eagle Pass and obtain a work permit. How long this would take was anybody's guess.
However, the hour being late, I would be allowed to stay overnight in Mexico as long as I did not go more than twenty miles from that crossing point. This I promised to do and then the two Mexican Servicemen got on the telephone, calling their boss, John Hogan, in Mexico City. Mr. Hogan was upset more than just a little and, after a thorough chewing out, he instructed them to take me back to San Antonio, Texas where he would meet me at the airport.
The next day we all met Mr. Hogan and, after sending the two servicemen back to Mexico with my tools. etc., he got me a Visa as a tourist. We departed on the first flight to Monterey, Mexico with my camera hanging around my neck, wearing no tie, looking as though I was a Tourista.
Before we landed in Monterey he told me which hotel I was supposed to be staying at, and that I was to strictly maintain that I was a tourist. The hotel was in Monterey but we did not even stay in the city, for the two servicemen met me at the Airport with all of my supplies, which they had managed to get into Mexico. John Hogan left me in their care and returned to his office in Mexico City, and we were on our way up Mexico Highway No. 57 to Sabinas where the coal mine was located.
The trip was uneventful except for the cattle that roam all over the highways in Mexico--it seems there is a woeful lack of fences and it is the responsibility of the motorist to watch out for them. MSA instructs their people never to drive at night unless it is absolutely necessary.
We had reservations at a motel in Sabinas and fortunately there was a restaurant available at this motel, so we didn't have to go searching for a place to eat. A good eating place is hard to find in that part of the country. However, we did find that the water was not fit to drink --- we used bottled water or soda pop all the time. I asked one of the men with me why it was that the water in Mexico is usually undrinkable, and his reply was to take me out of our motel room to what appeared to be a large open well or pit in the ground. This, he said, was where they stored the water that was used at the motel, and since there was no cover of any kind, birds and other animals could easily get into it. We also found a few scorpions and other assorted bugs around the place, but nothing of serious nature. (So they said.)
The next day we went to the mine where, after the usual introductions, etc., we found two Mining Machines parked in the area. They had just been overhauled and the mine was waiting for me to show them where and how to install the Methane Monitors. We obtained one of their Monitors and I pointed out to them where and how to mount the parts of the system and how it was very important to connect the relay of the monitor into the power circuit of the mining machine.
It might be well at this time to talk about this whole scheme of Methane Monitoring in the Coal Mining Industry. Methane is an explosive gas, not particularly toxic, which is a byproduct of the formation of coal, and is present in varying amounts in all soft coal seams. Methane is explosive in concentrations of between 5% and 15%. Any concentration below 5% or above 15% will not explode. Although most big mine explosions and fires involve coal dust, the ignition of the coal dust is usually caused by a methane explosion. Our monitors were set to flash a warning light at 1% and to shut down the machine at 2%, well below the critical point of 5%. However, most methane ignitions occur where the cutting bits are actually cutting the coal. It is physically impossible to mount the Monitor sensing head where the bits do their cutting of both coal and slate, so we do the next best thing--we mount it as near as possible to the bits and hope that when the monitor indicates 2%, the concentration at the face where the bits are cutting is less than 5%. Of course, there is no guarantee of this, but it is better than nothing.
When the Methane Monitor senses 2% or more, it opens the power circuit of the machine, shutting it down completely--it must be pulled away from the face by other means if the methane cannot be reduced below 2%. This is why mining companies do not like the monitors.
Now, back to my story of this trip to Mexico. The people at the mine wanted to show me around (underground) their mine. To my surprise, we rode the conveyor belts in the mine by switching them to reverse until we got close to the face area where we had to walk. After observing the operation of the mine, I calibrated the one Methane Monitor they had in operation and showed them that the machine would actually shut down when the Monitor indicated 2% or more methane.
We then traveled back to the bottom of the slope, on the conveyor belts again, where there was one last conveyor belt running up the slope and eventually ending in the outside coal pile. There was a means to stop the belt from the bottom, but no way to start it again, except at the top. The belt was running, so the mining people told me to jump on with my bag of tools, and proceeded to do so themselves. I was honestly afraid to jump on for I could see the newspaper headlines about the MSA engineer who broke his leg or arm by trying to jump on to a moving conveyor belt, against all the safety rules of the mining industry.
After a while I could see them motioning for me to jump on, but I still would not do it. Then the belt stopped, and I still hesitated, for I was not sure how long it would be down. One of the men started walking down the slope motioning for me to get on, which I did, and with me seated (the mining people stood up) and clutching my tool bag, I started my trip out of the mine. I was hoping they would stop the belt for me to get off--the mining people would just jump off at the top without bothering to stop the belt. The belt stopped when I reached the top and I did not end up in the coal pile.
We then returned to our motel for the night and the next day we drove back to Monterey to catch my plane back to the States. This was not as easily accomplished as it might seem. When I presented my ticket showing that I had a reservation, I was told there was no seat available for me and I must wait until the next day.
My two companions said they would fix it by bribing the agent. They took my ticket envelope and inserted some Mexican money in it and presented it to the agent. There still was no seat. After inserting additional funds into the envelope twice, an empty seat suddenly was found, and when the plane arrived I was allowed to board. The flight was to San Antonio, Texas, and from there I caught another flight to Pittsburgh and home.
Just one or two after-thoughts on this whole deal of the coal mine adventure at Sabinas, Mexico: I was one of the few people and probably the only MSA employee to be tossed out of Mexico. This happened when I told the immigration officials that I was going to teach a class and I had no work permit. Also, no one who is not a certified miner should ever be left alone in a mine, especially if he is not familiar with the mine. This happened to me at the bottom of the slope.
Trip to Stewart, British Columbia
Soon after this trip I made a trip to Stewart, British Columbia to show our customer there the Model 1601 MinePhone. We planned to sell it to a copper mining company at Stewart for communication in a three mile long tunnel leading under a mountain to the actual mine. The mine was inaccessible from the other side of the mountain and, therefore the tunnel was necessary.
I took only the Transmitter-receiver unit with me, and I was able to go from Seattle, Washington to Vancouver, British Columbia without any problems from immigration or customs. From there I flew to, I believe, Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, where we stopped only long enough to unload and load a few passengers and freight before we were off to Prince Rupert. At this point I changed from a typical modern airplane to a plane that was affectionately called a Goose.
The Goose was an amphibious airplane with two engines mounted on its high wings. They had to be high to keep the two propellers out of the water. The plane held about ten passengers and entrance was by stepping in through a very small door onto one of the equally small seats and on into the interior. The last one in got to sit on the seat that was used as the step.
We all put on our seat belts after the pilot turned around and asked if we all had our belts on. We all told him we did, and with that he reached up and pushed open the two throttles that were mounted in the roof. We taxied on the water for a small distance and then we were off in the wild blue yonder.
We flew at a very low altitude skirting some of the mountain peaks and just skimming the lower ones. the scenery was fine and you really got a good view of the trees since we were flying only a few feet above them. When we arrived at Stewart, British Columbia we landed on the water next to the very small airport and taxied right out of the water onto the gravel landing strip of the airport. The pilot had let down the wheels while we were still on the water.
The Terminal Building at the Stewart Airport was a single structure with one door and two windows--it possibly measured no more than 15ft. on each side and was made of wood. Since the pilot was the only member of the plane's crew, he also handled the baggage. I was met by one of MSA's Canadian representatives and we walked across the street to a small cafe for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. I do not remember what the sandwich was, but I do remember the coffee--it was instant coffee and the jar was on each table, just waiting for you to make your own. Not only was the coffee already on the table, the cream for it was also there. It consisted of a can of evaporated milk. I later learned that all of the food and drink must be shipped in to Stewart by either plane or boat, for at that time there were no roads into the place. Talk about being isolated, we really were.
If I thought my flying was over for the day, I had another thought coming, for there was a Helicopter at the airport to take us to the mine camp. They strapped my two bags onto the runners of the Helicopter and after strapping ourselves in, we took off. It seems that the usual transportation to the mine camp is by means of a bus, but it had long since left for the day, so the copper mining company furnished us with the Helicopter. It belonged to the mining company.
I had my camera ready and obtained some nice pictures of the mountains and glaciers--it was pretty rugged country--with absolutely no place to land in an emergency.
In due course we arrived safely at the mine camp and settled in for the night in two of the very few private rooms available at the camp. The mine also furnished us with our food. The eating was done in a separate building, served in a cafeteria style. The food was a typical menu for hard working men who work in a cool climate. There were all kinds of fruit, lots of bread and rolls, huge chunks of beef or ham, as well as potatoes, and other vegetables. Salads were available if you wanted one.
The breakfast the next morning was equally large and filling, but was good, never the less. After breakfast we walked over to the office where I showed the Model 1601 which I had brought along. They seemed to be interested and I asked them if they would show me the machine on which the equipment would be used as well as the tunnel in which the machine was to be operated.
There was a glacier in the mountain, immediately over the mine and it was a sight to see so close, being less than a half mile away. We entered the tunnel and rode a small electric locomotive for more than a mile before we came to the machine. The machine was really a huge boring machine that was being used to bore the tunnel. They wanted some sort of communication ftom the outside to this machine without having to bother continually extending the telephone line, and they also wanted communication to and from the locomotives used in the tunnel.
I assured them that we could provide such a system and that I would send them a Quotation when I returned to Pittsburgh and had time to work one up. They were satisfied with this arrangement and we went back outside to talk about what all would be involved in installing the system.
While we were at the boring machine the Mine Foreman told us that we were standing under 3000 Ft. of rock and 2000 Ft. of ice. It gave you a very strange feeling, to say the least.
Since it was too late to get back to Stewart before the last Goose of the day left for Prince Rupert, we stayed another day and rode the bus into town the next morning. Before we left, I asked the mine Foreman how much snow they had in the winter. He told me 795 inches, and that is a lot of snow, if he was telling me the truth, and I have no reason to doubt him. He also said that they have four bull dozer and high lift crews working all the time in the snow season, and even then it is difficult to keep the mine camp open for work. They have a very big labor turnover.
The bus turned out to be an old school bus and by the time I got aboard, I had to sit in the last row in the back. The road from the camp to Stewart was rough, narrow, and crooked, and many times when we rounded sharp corners on the narrow road, the rear end (where I was) would overhang the edge of the road and I could look straight down for what seemed to be 1000 Ft. to a creek below. I hoped the driver knew what he was doing.
The Goose took off from the dry land part of the airport and we landed in Prince Rupert on the water and taxied up to the unloading dock where we deplaned. I almost forgot to tell you, on the road back from the mine camp, the road actually crossed over into the state of Alaska for a short time. We passed what was probably some sort of a check point at the border, but it was not manned, so we just slowed down and drove on. The balance of the trip back to Pittsburgh was uneventful, and I did arrive safely.
I am going to take a break from writing this narrative and get busy on a few other things that need to be done around the house. Also I want to give my eyes a little rest and think about what I am going to say in the rest of my story, and there is considerable yet to be said. We must get things ready for our trip to Tampa and Orlando, Florida in just about two weeks.
Today is March 10, 1994 and there is still lots of snow on the ground from the 17 snow storms which we have had this winter and we all are hoping for an early spring with the green trees and colorful flowers.
I will be in Florida for my 79th birthday on the 25th of March, the day before Janice's wedding. I hope to see you all there. So Long for now
Janice and Steve Married
The date is now July 23. 1994 and I have been spending a lot of time working on the family trees and the genealogy of the Werner, Taylor, and Hughes families. I am about as far as I can go with this work except for the McClain and Maclntosh branch of Doris' family.
To be honest with you, I feel a little bit lost at this time, having been away from the story of my life for several months now; I expect to get comfortably back in the saddle again, even if I do not know in which direction to guide the horse. If I start off in the wrong direction, I can always turn to a new one or go back and start over again.
Let's begin with the very lovely wedding of Janice and Steve; it was indeed a delightful event and all went well except for a little audio trouble in the PA system. The wedding was held at The Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club and this was a beautiful place to have a wedding. The bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome, as were the entire wedding party. The newly wedded couple spent a seven day honeymoon in Europe, including Holland and Germany, while Doris and I spent the same week at Janice's home in Tampa, FL. keeping the home fires burning (Just a figure of speech in Florida), and watching out grandchildren and their pets.
We then spent part of a week with our other daughter and her husband in Longwood, FL., where we again had a very nice and restful time. Jeanne and Bill have a wonderful home in Longwood.
Since this page is just about finished I will stop here for now and get back to my story on the next page. I just remembered, I want to make a title page for the Genealogy Book, but first I would like to do a little backtracking now for the purpose of including some things that I neglected to include the first time around.
The first has to do with my grandfather Robert F. Taylor--you recall that I mentioned that he was a very pious gentleman and prayed every night at bed time as well as at the beginning of each meal. His evening prayers were always tailored to the situation existing at the moment, but the Blessings at the table were much the same except the reference to night at breakfast time was changed to day at both lunch and dinner.
Grandpa Taylor's Meal-time Prayer
Our dear Blessed Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this, another manifestation of thy great love, kindness, and mercy over us through another night (day). We thank Thee for this food, prepared for the nourishment of our bodies. Bless and sanctify a portion of this food to our good and strength. Feed our souls on the bread of eternal life, guide and direct us in all of our duties, and to your name which is worthy, we will give all of the praise. Amen.
Do you remember about the fire at the Powhattan No. 3 mine that had so much influence on my work at MSA? In the Pittsburgh Post Gazette of July 5, 1994 in the Almanac section, I found the following reference:
Fifty years ago (Wednesday, July 5,1944)
Rescuers worked desperately at night in the flames and gas-filled workings of the Powhattan Mine at Belmont, the largest mine in Ohio, to save 66 miners trapped after a slate fall that short-circuited trolley lines and set on fire the mine's timbering, then its coal. None of the 66 miners was saved.
While thinking about mines and mining, I thought you might be interested in the different types of mines that I have had occasion to visit over the years. The list follows:
1. Coal mines, soft. 6. Gold mines. 11. Silver mines.
2. Coal mines, hard. 7. Iron mines. 12. Uranium mines.
3. Copper mines. 8. Lead mines 13. Titanium mines.
4. Salt mines. 9. Zinc mines.
5. Potash mines. 10. Limestone mines.
Here is a list of the automobiles which I have owned over the years:
3 Fords, 1924, 1937, 1940.
3 Plymouths, 1936, 1941, 1950.
2 Chryslers, 1931, 1951.
1 Pontiac, 1971.
5 Chevrolets, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1978, 1986.
1 Opel 1976.
Note: All of the Chevrolets were purchased new, as were the 1940 Ford, the 1971 Pontiac and the 1976 Opel. The worst cars of the above were the 1936 Plymouth, which was extremely hard to start, the 1937 Ford which used oil at the rate of 1 quart per 25 miles, and the 1931 Chrysler which likewise used a lot of oil and had very little power. The 1951 Chrysler had a lot transmission problems, too.
Our Associate Pastor, David Brewer, at The Elfinwild Presbyterian Church in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania wrote the following poem for Memorial day of 1994. It seems to me to be quite appropriate, lest we forget too soon this part of our nation's history:
The radio waves were crackling, the bombers overhead,
The call went out to rescue, from the Fuhrer they did dread.
France had fallen, the Philippines too, and Wake was overrun,
These soldiers we did call upon, had never fired a gun.
The bullets soon were whining, machine guns all around,
While wounded friends were falling, and dead upon the ground.
There were no cheering fans, no glory to the task,
Only death and dying, and honor that would last.
They took the beaches, they took the towns, they took the armies too,
Enduring cold, enduring rain, and lots mud and goo.
Curses there were plenty, when no letters came from home,
For they were torn and ragged, weary to the bone.
They fought in jungles, they fought in streets, on the seas and in the
But only God did notice, each hero as he died.
Nightmares there were plenty, as Hitler swore his rage,
Bugs and disease did ravage, as ships went to their grave.
Bataan and Midway, and the Coral Sea,
Guadacanal and Plestoi, Bastogne and Normandy.
While bullets claimed their buddies, and girlfriends found another,
These GI's became like brothers, and longed to see their mother.
The twisted cross was vanquished, the Banzais were all quiet,
As millions prayed for peace, for God to quell the riot.
As men forgot His love, and ego turned to hate,
From Dachau the poor victims, never left the gate.
The cockpits now are empty, the swords are on the wall,
The ships are stored in mothballs, and the trumpet does not call.
No heroes are forgotten, who escaped the praise of men,
For God will exalt in heaven, each and every friend.
O heroes are forever, their deeds will never die,
For those who love their freedom, enough to make them cry.
I have before me an old ledger book that my mother kept when she and my father were first married. Some of the entries go back to 1907 and 1908. Later on my mother also kept track of sizes of the many ladies in Culver for whom she made dresses. I think it might be interesting to see how she kept track of their money, (What little there was of it). Here is a page for the month of January 1908, but starting with last entry of 1907:
Dec 3 1 --To Howard ---------- .25 Notes: Howard was my father.
Jan 3--Envelopes -------------- .10
Jan 3--Stamp ----------------- .02 Stamps only 2 cents.
Jan 6--Groceries ------------- 2.15
Jan 6--Stamps ---------------- .20
Jan 11--Pictures ------------ 1.50
Jan 11--Outing ---------------- .15 Outing was some sort of
Jan 11--Shoes ---- - -------- 2.50 binding used in sewing.
Jan 13--Groceries ---------- 2.64
Jan 13--To Howard - - ------------- .25
Jan 15--Daily News ---------------- .35 Probably for a week.
Jan 18--Aprons -------------- .28
Jan 18--Thread -------------- .10
Jan 18--Facinator ------------ . 21 Probably a fascinator--light
Jan 18--Brush --------------- .10 weight crocheted woman's
Jan 18--Glass --------------- .63 head scarf.
Jan 18--Mats & Dish ------- .06
Jan 18--Basket ------------- .40
Jan 18--To Howard -------- .40
Jan 19--Collection ---------- .10 In the year of 1908, January
Jan 20--Groceries -------- 2.39 5, 12, 19, & 26 were Sundays.
Jan 22--Linen ------- - ------ .31
Jan 22--Thread ------------- .10
Jan 24--Candy -------------- .30
Jan 25--Oil can -------------- .20
Jan 25--For Mag ------------ .02
Jan 26--Collection ----------- .05
Jan 27--Groceries --------- 2.19 Grocery shopping was done on
Jan 28--Stamps -------------- .08 Mondays.
Jan 28--Toothpicks ---------- . 05
Jan 28--T Paper ------------- .05 Toilet Paper.
Jan 28--To Howard --------- .03
Jan 28--Tickets ------------- . 60
Jan 29--Tickets ------------ .40
Jan 31--Salts ---------------- .05 Probably Epsom Salts, used
Jan 31--To Howard --------- .05 for a laxative.
VOLUME No. 1.
Now that the first 78 pages have been completed and checked and rechecked and most of the grammar, spelling and punctuation errors have been found and corrected, I believe that I will cease and desist the temptation to read and then read again the text, ad nauseatum. Instead I will apologize to the reader for any errors and mistakes that still lie therein, and allow the reader make his own corrections as he pursues this, at times, somewhat boring story.
While I have been trying to complete this autobiography of sorts, I have also been busily engaged in attempting the writing and researching of the Werner, Taylor, Hughes and McClain family genealogies and family trees. This, of course, is a never ending task since so much of the information is missing and seemingly unavailable.
It is most difficult to find a proper cutoff point; but there must be one somewhere and I believe that I have reached that point with the first 79 pages, and with only a few exceptions, with the genealogies, too.
Today is Tuesday, October 18, 1994 and I have now completed the first 10 pages of THE MEMOIRS OF JOHN EDWARD WERNER, VOLUME No. 2. 1 have come to believe that this job is almost another one of those never ending tasks since I always seem to be able to remember so many stories that I have not yet set down in print. Some may be interesting and some may not; I will let the kind reader be the final judge of what I write. I feel that my job is to write it down and leave the judgment to others.
With that in mind I will leave the dear reader with but one thought: I hope and pray that I have not bored you too much with this amateur attempt of recording my memories and thoughts.
So long for now,
John E. Werner
P.S. I sincerely hope that Volume No. 2 is not any longer than Volume No. 1. Ray, I just corrected reference to your old car on page 22 as well a couple of other errors on that page. The date today is October 25, 1994.
J. E. W.
P-S. P.S. The date is now 13 June 1995 and I have just finished transferring the entire Volume one from the Smith Corona Word Processor format to the Windows computer format and it was quite a task. I also did some editing at the same time. I have the contents of Volume 2 transferred except for the pictures and certificates, but the three different files must still be pasted together and proof read. Also, I am at a loss about what to do with the page numbers assigned to pictures and certificates. I may end up by creating an appendix and placing them in it.
Again, I say
So Long for now
As you have probably already noticed, the number of pages in Volume 1 of the Memoirs has decreased from 101 to 80. This decrease was caused by the transcribing of the document into the computer format which allowed more characters per line, thus allowing additional information on each page, even though there are fewer lines per page.
The computer print outs are much easier to read and the right margin improves the overall appearance of the page. It required a lot of work, but it was well worth the trouble.
Perhaps the reader might be interested in the technique of how the transcription from Smith Corona Word Processor format to the Computer Windows format was accomplished. Actually, you don't have any choice, so here goes:
The Smith Corona system of filing is not compatible with the computer system of filing, but Smith Corona does have a means of filing in the ASCII format that will be recognized by the computer. I had to put the original diskettes into the Smith Corona Word Processor, recall the documents into the memory (which only will hold about 18 pages of typed material at time) and then save it on a new diskette in the ASCII format. This required six different files to accommodate the 101 pages.
There are certain characters that the Computer will not accept properly from ASCII. Among these are soft returns at the end of each line--they all come out as hard returns, resulting in much shorter lines across the page. It was necessary to delete them all except for actual paragraph endings.
Then I wanted to eliminate the extra space of one line between each paragraph and instead indent the first line of each paragraph which I did. The computer also recognized the original page endings and also inserted its own page endings, so it was necessary to delete them, also.
I also made up a suitable header which included the page number, the date, and the file name. To complete the change to the computer I also designed a new cover page, but I did not include the header on the cover which is really page number 1.
In addition to all of the above, I proof read the entire document again and, as usual, found many mistakes and other things which needed to be corrected. When I figured out how to combine the six different files from the Smith Corona Word Processor into one big file, I became so excited that I cut and pasted one file into my final document twice, ending up with 92 pages instead of the correct number, which was 79. This extra file was then deleted and then I justified the night margin and re-checked everythng again.
There was one other minor problem: I had saved the first 87 pages with each page as a separate file, and these 87 different files had to be combined on the Smith Corona Word Processor into 18 six-page files. This took a little more time but made the cutting and pasting much easier, There are now 80 pages.
For additional information please see VOLUME NO. 2 MEMOIRS OF JOHN
EDWARD WERNER, JULY 30 1994
June 18, 1995
MEMOIRS OF ONE
JOHN EDWARD WERNER
VOLUME NO. 2
Now that I have completed the first one hundred pages, I must say that the first one hundred were probably easier than the finishing pages. It seems that there is a lot to be said to finish this story, but just what to say and how to say it is eluding me. Maybe I am just out of the habit writing a story. I just changed the margin from 70 to 80. That allows me to get a little more on each line and each page will hold a few more words. Let's get back to the story, and I will try not to repeat too many of my memories.
In November of 1974 Doris and I took our first vacation in Florida--remember this was before Jeanne or Janice had moved to Florida. The trip was to Orlando and included the round trip air fare, four nights lodging at the Howard Johnson's Motel near Walt Disney World, as well as Airport to Motel transportation and a one day pass to Disney World. All of this cost us $150 each. We thought it was a good bargain.
We flew on Eastern Airlines, which at that time was the Official Disney Airline, arriving in the early afternoon. We decided to go to Disney World that same afternoon, since the motel, for a small fee, would provide a van to take you over and then pick you up in the evening and bring you back to the motel.
Since the afternoon was warm and balmy, we decided not to take any sweaters or jackets. This turned out to be a small mistake since the temperature drops significantly after sunset in Florida, and since the van driver was about one-half hour late in picking us up, we were freezing by the time he arrived at the pick-up point just outside the gate.
Just outside our room window we could see a large orange grove loaded with beautiful oranges. I thought to myself, (and later mentioned to Doris) that we should be able to get some really fresh orange juice in the motel restaurant since there should be lots of sweet juicy oranges all over Florida, especially since our motel was next door to an orange grove.
The next morning at breakfast, which was served buffet style, the only orange juice offered was canned--not even thawed out frozen juice like we have here in Pennsylvania. (I like to spell out the State's name in full to prove that I can spell them, especially the long ones). We were disappointed, but freshly squeezed orange juice was not on the menu.
We returned to Disney World the second day and had an enjoyable time, even though we left a little earlier than the first day, to avoid the chilly Florida evening. I believe the entrance charge in those days (1974) was about $11.00--a far cry from what it costs now. At that time there was no Epcot Center or MGM Studio at Disney World.
On the third day of our Florida vacation we decided to go to the Cypress Gardens which were nearby, but not as close as Disney World. The fare on the van was a little higher than before, but so what? We were on vacation and wanted to see and do as much as we could in the short time that we had. There is not as much to do at Cypress Gardens as there is at Disney World but we did enjoy watching the water skiers and beautifully costumed girls that roam around among the flowers and bushes.
The next day we went back to Disney World checked out the things that we missed the first two times, revisited some of the attractions we liked the best, and returned to the motel exhausted.
I do not remember where we did our dining, but since we had no wheels, we ate most of our meals at the motel or at Disney World.
The next day was our day of departure after a too short visit to Orlando, Florida. There are, of course, many more things now to do in the Orlando area than there were in 1974, especially if you have access to an automobile.
In reviewing the pictures that I took on that trip, there were not very many, considering that I am usually a consummate photographer. However, I believe the problem was the Exacta camera which I was using at that time. It had no automatic exposure system. This meant that for each picture you not only had to decide what you wanted in the picture, but also had to use a separate exposure meter, get reading, adjust the aperture, set the shutter speed, and then take the picture. This must have slowed down the picture taking on that vacation trip more than I realized.
The return trip to Glenshaw, Pennsylvania was uneventful and we were glad to get home and get some good rest in our own home. The vacation trip to Orlando, Florida was one that we were destined to repeat many times in the near future since both of our daughters were to move to the Orlando area of Florida. Jeanne and Bill moved in 1978 and Janice and Doug about ten years later in 1988.
Now to go a little farther back in history. In 1972 Doris and I decided to sign up for a trip to Hawaii that was being sponsored by the MSA Federal Credit Union. The trip was to last seven days and we would stay at the Holiday Inn in Honolulu, Hawaii. The price was $299 plus a handling fee of $30 for each of us. The price included the air fare, the transportation from Honolulu Airport to the motel, seven nights at the motel as well as one luncheon on Sunday. We thought it was a good deal and a lot of other people evidently thought so too. We were supposed to share the United Airlines plane with a group ftom a Pittsburgh church, but our plane was booked up completely by MSA and the church group had to use another plane.
The plane we flew on was a stretched DC8 and it was loaded--every seat was taken. Everyone had a good time, since adult beverages were served free during the entire trip. (We drank soda pop). According to Aircraft Performance Statistics the plane we were flying was a DC8-60/70 which has a capacity of at least 259 passengers with a range of 7220 miles, and a cruising speed of 531 mph. We did, however, make a refueling and crew changing stop in San Francisco, California. The new hostesses were dressed in Hawaiian costumes for the balance of the flight, which helped time to pass.
Upon our arrival in Honolulu, we were given the traditional Lei greeting, including the garland around our necks. After being bused to the Holiday Inn we were registered and shown to our room. The rooms were all large with a king size bed and each had its own lanai. I do not remember our floor number but there were 25 floors in the building and we were about half way up, possibly the twelfth floor. (A check of our scrap book shows we had room 1807.)
One of the big problems in flying this far is adjusting to the time change. (Jet Lag) Our plane departed the Greater Pittsburgh Airport at about 9:25 A.M. and with a flight time of 10 hours and 53 minutes, including the stop in San Francisco, we arrived in Honolulu at about 8:17 P.M. Pittsburgh time. However the clocks in Hawaii said it was only 2:17 P.M.. We had been well fed on the plane so we were not hungry, but we were a little tired after such a long stay on the plane. We decided to explore the city on a walking tour of the beach and nearby points of interest. We soon found out that many of the multitude of hotels in Honolulu are in reality resorts and are accordingly priced. Likewise the food. We found that meals were available in almost every price range, from a dollar or so to many, many dollars, depending upon how fancy your tastes were, or how much atmosphere or entertainment you wanted while you ate. There was usually a choice of Polynesian food, or the good American style cooking. Incidentally, this was Saturday, July 22, 1972.
After the church service at the Holiday Inn we went to an orientation meeting for any who wanted to know more about Hawaii, and what there was to do. We were then taken by bus to the Floating Pagoda where the tour company fumished a delicious lunch. The eating place was really built out over water on what appeared to be piers of some sort and you could watch the fish swimming around under your table while you were eating.
After returning to the hotel we put on our swimming suits and tried out the beach which was just across the street--we wanted to be able to say that we had been swimming in the Pacific Ocean at Waikiki Beach.
I will not bore you with any more of the details of our stay except to mention that we did take a boat trip to Pearl Harbor. It was much the same as it was when the U.S.S. Chicago was there in 1945 except there was less activity--we saw both the Arizona and the Utah.
We also, at extra cost, took a one day flight to the big island of Hawaii where we toured Hilo, and had lunch near the volcano. We then flew to the island of Kauai where we visited the famous Fern Grotto. We had a very delicious dinner at a resort hotel and were entertained by a fire dancer at sunset. It was all over too soon.
One is often surprised by how small our world actually is. While we were in Honolulu we went out one day to walk around some of the stores before going to dinner. To our amazement, we ran into "Rick" the man who owned and operated the fruit market on state route 8 in Glenshaw. We had known him for many years since he would always alert us to some bargains in the fruit or produce that he sold. (We had a big freezer at that time.) We talked for a few minutes and then Dr. Clack walked up--he was our veterinary doctor who took care of our cat. He was also from Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. These two men were traveling together and had not come to Hawaii on our plane. It seemed to us a small world after all--just like the Walt Disney song. Both of the gentlemen we met also had their wives with them. We still see "Rick" occasionally, and when we do, we kid each other about meeting up in Hawaii.
Time flies by very rapidly, especially when you are having a good time, and it was soon time to return home. We were directed to have our bags packed and ready to go and placed outside our room door by 10:00 A.M., where they would be picked up and taken to the airport for us. At 12:00 noon, we were to check out of the hotel and provision was made to store our hand luggage until departure time at 4:30 P.M. I almost forgot, before our baggage could be moved to the Airport, it had to go through agricultural inspection. We found that the baggage had been gathered up from the room doors and moved to a large room on the first floor of the hotel. There the bags would be opened in your presence to look for items that were not allowed to be taken back to the mainland. They were looking for certain tropical plants and/or foliage that could have some pest or disease that did not exist back in the 48 States. The inspection was at 2:00 P.M. We then were on our own until the bus left for the Airport.
Promptly at 4:30 P.M. on Saturday, July 29, 1972 we left for the Honolulu Airport and our wonderful week's vacation in Hawaii was over. Our flight, No. 5792, United Air Lines Charter, departed at 6:00 P.M. (12:00 P.M. Pittsburgh time). Dinner, cocktails, and breakfast were served enroute. We arrived in Pittsburgh at about 10:30 A.M. on Sunday morning, tired, but happy with our memories of a happy and exotic vacation without leaving the good old USA.
On thing I forgot to tell you about. We rented a small car on Friday and drove around most of the Oahu. It was nice to be able go where and when you wanted to. We saw a lot of things that we otherwise would have missed. Among these things were large Pineapple and Sugar plantations. The rental for a day cost $16.50 plus gas which was not much for such a small car on such a small island.
Many years later the entire family, us, Jeanne, and Janice arranged to meet in Fontana Village for a weeks vacation. Fontana Village is in the state of Tennessee, just south of Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Jeanne had rented a cottage there and we all arrived safely and had a good time being away from it all for a week. It was close to the Fontana Dam, part of the TVA Project to supply electricity to the people of this mountainous country. This was in August of 1981.
On our way to Fontana Village we stopped the first night at The Econo Travel Motel in Wytheville, Virginia. Janice was also supposed to stop in Wytheville on their way from New Jersey to Fontana, but we were somewhat surprised to see them drive up outside our motel room that evening in their recently acquired van. They were planning on staying at the Holiday Inn, but decided get a room at the Econo Travel Motel to be with us. We were able to have a very nice visit with them that evening. For the record, that was Saturday, August 8, 1981.
The next day we traveled on to Fontana Village, keeping each other in sight all the time. We arrived at 3:45 P.M. after having traveled 589 miles from Glenshaw. This was on Sunday August 9, 1981 and our cottage was reserved from that date through August 14, 1981 until 10 A.M. on August 15th, which was a Saturday. On the return trip Doris and I stayed at The Econo Travel Motel in Bluefield, West Virginia, since Bluefield was a little closer to Glenshaw than Wytheville, Virginia.
The cottage that we had at The Fontana Village Resort (its official name) had a big living room, a complete kitchen, three bedrooms (two with double beds, and one with twin beds and a double sleeping couch) as well as a double sleeping couch in the living room, and two complete bathrooms with both tub and shower. This was a type "A" cottage and rented for $87.36 per day. A crib for Melissa cost $2.50 extra. There was no dishwasher except Doris. There were dishes to accommodate 10 people.
On Monday we went swimming, hiking and shopping for groceries. On Tuesday it seems that we did the laundry, went swimming again, and baked a cake for the birthday of Janice's husband which was coming up later in August. We even decorated the living room for the big event.
On Wednesday we drove to Cherokee and Smokey Mountain National Park, which, of course, is a very beautiful place with lots to see and many trails to hike for those who want to hike. On Thursday we toured the Fontana Dam and the younger ones went horseback riding. The Dam tour was very interesting. It included a tour of the generating station as well as the Dam itself
I did not realize that you could actually go inside a large dam, but we did. At one point there is a shaft about two feet in diameter that extends from the top of the dam to its bottom. This shaft is located at the center of the dam and contains a weight suspended by a thin wire from the top. The weight acts like a plumbob and its bottom point is supposed to remain exactly over the intersection of two lines scribed in a plate. If this weight ever moves off of the exact center, it means the dam top has shifted with respect to the bottom, and we are in trouble.
On Friday we drove over to the State of Tennessee and back into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park on the Primitive Trail which was a narrow, one way dirt road and did live up to its name in every detail. It was a very interesting drive and you do not need a high clearance, four wheel drive vehicle to make the trip.
B oth Janice and her family as well as Jeanne and her family were with us on this vacation at Fontana. When we made the trips to the various attractions, we had to use two cars, usually the van and Bill's car. Since I was the old man, I was relieved of most of the driving duties while we were there, which was all right with me.
On Saturday both Jeanne and Janice's families went on a hike from Fontana Village. Mom and I shopped and played a round of miniature golf.
We departed The Fontana Village Resort on Sunday morning, Janice traveling to Lexington, Virginia and Mom and I to Bluefield, West Virginia, as noted above. This was Sunday, August 16, 1981. The total bill for our weeks vacation came to a grand total of $531.44 including the tax. This was for the rental only, and I have no figures on what we spent for food, souvenirs, and admissions. The rental cost was split evenly between the three families. We all had a very enjoyable time. The return trip was uneventful and we arrived home in Glenshaw on Monday, August 17, 1981. I believe Bill and Jeanne planned to make the trip to Orlando, Florida in one day--they were younger then.
A few years later, in 1987, we made arrangements to spend a week at a place called Sherwood Forest near Brevard, North Carolina. Jeanne made all of the reservations and we were to have cottage No. 25 which was known, quite appropriately, as Maid Marion. The cottage itself was not too bad but the two bedrooms were a little on the small side.
Janice and her family did not join us for this vacation, but Jeanne and Bill did bring their daughter Kathy and one of Kathy's girl friends along. Since we only had two bedrooms, the girls slept on a sofa bed in the living room, which was entirely adequate and the girls were able to help themselves to any food that they could find in the kitchen area all night long. The TV we had could only receive one channel and it was so dim you had to imagine that it was really a picture.
We left Glenshaw on Friday July 24, 1987 and traveled to Wytheville, Virginia where we stayed over night at the Econo Lodge, cost $30.95 for the two of us. We drove 332 miles that first day. The next day, which was Saturday, we made it to Brevard, North Carolina, a distance of 250 miles. After driving 8 more miles we arrived at Sherwood Forest and Maid Marion Cottage. Maid Marion was one of the few cottages that permitted pets, and since Jeanne wanted to bring her dog along on this trip, Maid Marion was selected. In spite of a few problems, we all had a good time. In fact, we used the cottage mostly for sleeping with a few meals thrown in.
The total mileage turned out to be 590 miles from Glenshaw, Pennsylvania to Sherwood Forest, North Carolina. I believe that we arrived at the check-in office first and we waited there for Bill and Jeanne. After they arrived we all checked in and proceeded to our Maid Marion cottage which was to be our home for the next week.
Maid Marion was owned by a man who lived in Florida and was rented out when he did not wish to use it--which seemed to be most of the time. It had a small basement with access only from the outside but was practically useless since it was very wet and moldy. You could see that an attempt had been made to make it into an extra bedroom with windows along one side and a toilet that had to flush up since it was below the sewer outlet of the cottage. The toilet did not work and the basement was used primarily as a storage place for old broken tools and furniture. Large toad stools or mushrooms grew very nicely in our basement.
The main floor of our cottage consisted of a nice sized living room with a sofa bed--which the two girls used--and a corner kitchen which was pretty well stocked with pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, etc., and included a stove and refrigerator. There was also a sink. There were two relatively small bedrooms, the largest of which Doris and I occupied since it had a full sized bed. The other bedroom had twin beds and Jeanne and Bill slept in it. There was one small bathroom with a toilet, sink and a very unique shower without a bathtub. The strange thing about the shower was the hot water valve (We did have hot running water) which would gradually turn itself on as you were taking your shower. When the shower became too hot, it behooved you turn the hot water valve back a little to avoid scalding oneself. It was necessary to do this three or four times during each shower. We did not try to fix it since we had no tools or replacement parts.
We do not have a day by day record of what we did on this vacation but believe that I remember the main things that we did. One of the first things was to go grocery shopping in Brevard. Jeanne brought a Honey Baked ham with her in addition to lots of other items while Doris and I furnished many of the other necessities of housekeeping in a rental cottage. The lists of what each of us was to bring had been all set up by phone or mail before we left home, so we bought mostly perishables and a few other items that we had previously overlooked. The few meals that we ate at the cottage were always very good, thanks to the expert cooks. The ham was gone in about two days since we used it for breakfast and the girls used it for midnight snacks.
Probably the most interesting place we visited was the Biltmore Estate which is located just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Bill bought passes for all of us for the House, Gardens, and Winery. There is no way to describe the size and elegance of this enormous home built by George W. Vanderbilt. Why any man would ever think that such a place was necessary or even desirable, is very difficult to comprehend.
Incidentally, Kathy and her friend did not go with us to the Biltmore Estate. They preferred to stay at Maid Marion and walk around and go swimming in the pool at Sherwood Forest.
At the time when we were at the Biltmore, we were only allowed on the first two floors and in the basement, and the tours were escorted to make sure that we didn't stray too far. We were not allowed to take pictures on the tour of the house itself. Pictures outside were all right, though. They had samples of wine available in the winery and, if I remember correctly, grape juice for the non-alcoholic visitors.
When you are on the huge porch of the Biltmore you can look out over an enormous forest that at one time was part of the Biltmore Estate--Mr. Vanderbilt had approximately 100,000 acres in his estate at one time. He donated a large portion of it to the federal government and it became the Pisgah National Forest. It is almost impossible to believe that all of this at one time belonged to just one man, Mr. George Vanderbilt.
There is a small lunch room called Deerpark Restaurant which is a part of a series of handsome out buildings designed by architect, Richard Morris Hunt, in the 1890's for George Vanderbilt's farm operations. Originally a dairy barn, Deerpark has been renovated into a unique open air restaurant in a beautiful pastoral setting. The historic architectural detailing of the half-timbered woodwork, pebble-dash plaster and decorative brickwork are reminiscent of a farm landscape of the previous century. The name Deerpark is taken from the nearby area of the Estate which George Vanderbilt set aside as a deer preserve.
I do not remember what we ate at the Deerpark, but the bill, which I still have, shows that we had two coffees and two other items that cost $1.29 each. It could not have been much of a feast. I cannot find any listing of anything more substantial than that noted above, but I feel certain that we had in addition a sandwich or a salad of some sort. I did find a note that we were at the Biltmore Estate on July 27, 1987--a Monday.
The next place that we visited was Chimney Rock Park which is a privately owned place not too far from Asheville. It is a unique place on the side of a rock cliff that overlooks a beautiful landscape of creeks and a small lake. There is an elevator that whisks you most of the way up to the top where it is only a short walk up a few steps to the lookout points where the view is spectacular. There is a path which you may take down, if you wish. Jeanne and Bill walked down while the two older folks took the more conservative elevator. We found a small but rather nice restaurant and ate our lunch just below The Chimney Rock.
According to legend, Chimney Rock got its name because smoke signals on the mountainside seemed to be rising from the summit back when the Cherokee Indians called this "Land of the Blue Sky" home. It is believed that it was in this place that the Cherokee first encountered white men when, in 1540, Hernando de Soto and his conquistadors came to the area in search of gold. The legends abound and they become real as you wander within this Park. All that you see and hear--the hush of the silent forest, the silvery cascades, the roar of the waterfall, the cold magnificence of the stony cliffs and gigantic boulders--lends a sense of timelessness and deep accord with a history that stretches back to before the Age of Man...
To get to the bottom of the elevator a tunnel was blasted some 198 feet into the solid granite. From there the elevator goes up some 258 feet (26 stories) through the same rock to the sky lounge beside the Chimney.
One day we drove back to Smokey Mountain National Park. We bought an audio tape that describes the various items of interest as you drive along. We followed the route designated and the audio descriptions added a lot to pleasure of the drive.
We also explored some of the side roads and one that led to a summit of some sort. I remember very well because of so many dead and dying trees. They were some kind of fir trees and the exact name escapes me now.
We also toured the Pisgah National Forest and saw the remains of an old logging camp as well as an old saw mill. This is where the first classes of forestry were taught. I believe that Mr. Gifford Pinchot, later to be Governor of Pennsylvania, was instrumental in setting up the forestry classes.
There was a place near there where a creek flowed down over a very flat portion of rock. Since the rock surface was very smooth and slippery, it was used as a slide by anybody wanting to try it. We all watched, but nobody had courage enough to try it.
In addition to all of these interesting attractions, there were many hiking trails all over the Sherwood Forest area as well as in the Pisgah National Forest. There were several trails at the Chimney Rock Park. Since we didn't have our hiking daughter with us on the vacation, not many of the trails were used. I do remember one short walk we had along an almost level stretch by a small creek--probably about a mile or so--in Pisgah National Forest.
There was a TV set at Maid Marion but the reception was so poor that you had to imagine that there was really a picture on the tube. The two girls tried to watch it but they finally had to give up on the TV.
I also remember one time when the girls went for a walk around Sherwood Forest while the rest of us stayed at our cottage to rest. A heavy rain storm suddenly came up and Kathy and her friend were not yet home. Bill and I jumped into a car and proceeded to look for them and after a few minutes of searching we found them both hiding from the rain under somebody's deck. The deck was about five or six feet above the ground so they had no problem getting under it. They were soaking wet.
I almost forgot to mention that there was a dryer and a washer in the Maid Marion basement and that we did have a gas fireplace in the living room. I do not remember if we ever used any of them.
Although I may have missed a day or two, I cannot recall of anything else that we did. There probably were some other things which we saw or places that we went to, but they have slipped my mind.
The return trip was uneventful. The first day was Saturday, August 1, 1987 and we traveled to Beckley, West Virginia, a distance of 324 miles and stayed at the Days Inn in that city at cost of $36.10 for the night. The next day we made it back to Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, a distance of 256 miles.
Again, I am unable to recall the date, but Doris and the two girls and I made a trip to the East Broad Top Railroad which is located in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania, just north of the exit Nos. 13 and 14 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The E. B. T. Railroad is one of the oldest narrow gauge railroads in America and you may take a round trip of 10 miles behind and old steam locomotive. Built in 1873, with its 3-foot gauge, The East Broad Top was designed for the movement of coal from the Broad Top Mines of central Pennsylvania to Mount Union. Here the fine grade semi-bituminous coal was transferred from the narrow gauge EBT cars to standard gauge hopper cars for shipment over the Pennsylvania Railroad. The EBT survived until 1956 as a coal hauler, long after similar railroads had been abandoned, and now a portion of it has been restored and designated as a "Registered National Historic Landmark" by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
The ride was very interesting and we all enjoyed it and even bought a souvenir or two. At one point near the end of the ride, they stopped the train and anyone with a camera could get off and the engineer on the locomotive would back the train for a few hundred feet and then come forward again at full throttle with lots of smoke and steam for the eager photographers to snap their pictures. Of course, I was among them.
We also stopped at the Hershey Chocolate Company for a tour of their factory--this was while they still would take you into the actual factory itself They were using what appeared to be the old style cast iron bath tubs as means of hauling the liquid chocolate from one place to another. We each received a Hershey Bar as a gift when the tour was over. The bath tubs were equipped with wheels.
Janice had a home built in the Poconos near a small lake--I believe it was called Lake in the Clouds. Whatever the lake's name was, the home was very nice with three bedrooms, a wonderful high ceiling living room, a large kitchen, and a bath and a half. They had furnished it very nicely, too. The home was built on the solid bed rock since there was only about two feet of top soil on top of the rock. They had a well drilled over 500 feet deep and a large septic system installed.
We spent several weekends there and explored the surrounding attractions, using the Pocono home as a base of operations. One of the more interesting places to go to is Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Perhaps you have read or heard about the discussions going on in Congress over the funding of this place. It seems that there is some opposition to approving the money to complete the project. Among the many things of interest that I found there was not only the old steam Locomotives, but the extensive repair shops that are being restored. Also, the fact that there will be steam train trips offered over old right-of-ways already existing in the Pocono Mountains.
Steamtown NHS was authorized by Congress on October 30, 1986 "to further public understanding and appreciation of the development of steam locomotives in the region". The park contains a large collection of steam powered locomotives and various types of railroad cars placed in a historic setting. The site once served as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Yard. The buildings and tracks within this 40 acre site, serve as visual reminders of an important link in America's transportation and industrial heritage.
Another, even closer, place to visit is Bushkill Falls, known locally as "The Niagara of Pennsylvania". This, I believe, is a privately owned park and is very well maintained. There is a small exhibit of stuffed wild life and some concession stands where snacks and souvenirs may be purchased. There are lots of walkways and steps that allow those who are physically able to explore the entire park. The falls themselves are spectacular. This is where I had my first taste of funnel cake, and I must say that I like it. I have since found another source of this delectable food--Idlewild Park near Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Whenever Doris and I get to Idlewild Park, I insist on a dish of funnel cake, which I reluctantly have to share with my spouse.
In 1815, a growing settlement along the Lehigh river was first named Coalville, but later changed to Mauch Chunk, an Indian (Pardon me, Native American) name for Bear Mountain. Merchant entrepreneurs Josiah White, Erskine Hazard, and George Hauto formed the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company in the 1820's, developing the transport of anthracite coal via the Lehigh and Delaware canals. English, Welsh, and Irish immigrants were attracted to the area and building work boomed. The town grew in local importance when it became the county seat of the newly formed Carbon County in 1843.
The early reliance on canals came to a close in the 1850's as Mauch Chunk became a prominent rail transfer point for coal until the 1920's. This change came about largely through the formation of the Lehigh Valley Railroad by local self-made millionaire, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Asa Packer.
With the decline of the anthracite coal industry in the 1920's, the town lost its industrial prominence and entered a period of economic decline. A hopeful solution for economic ills came when the three areas--Mauch Chunk, Upper Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk--combined to form one borough, Jim Thorpe, in 1954. The famous athlete's widow offered her busband's name and body as a uniting symbol, in exchange for a proper memorial.
Doris and I visited the Borough of Jim Thorpe on two occasions, once with my sister Ruth and her friend Emelia and once at an earlier date with the MSA Retirees Club. Both of these trips will be discussed later on in their entirety. On our first visit we were able to go through the Asa Packer Mansion, but on the visit with Ruth were not allowed in the mansion. The Packer Mansion was built in 1861 and overlooks the Old Mauch Chunk National Historic District. While the appearance of the outside of the home has changed only slightly from the time it was built, the interior is virtually intact. Mary Packer Cummings lived in the home after her father's death until her own death in 1912. If you ever get to Jim Thorpe, don't miss the Asa Packer Mansion.
There is not a lot to do in a town of Jim Thorpe, but it is real nice to wander about the place and visit the old railroad station and its miniature train exhibit, the old Court House, built in 1893, as well as some of the stores. There is also a very large piece of anthracite coal in a small park near the Old Jersey Central Railroad Station, built in 1888. This station is also the Tourist Welcoming Center. The large piece of coal is supposed to the largest ever mined in one piece in the area.
Near Jim Thorpe is the Hickory Run State Park where you will find Boulder Field, which, at first, I thought was just another rural baseball field. However, it turned out to be just what the name suggests, a field full of boulders, and it is found in the midst of a typical eastern Pennsylvania woods. Although it is difficult to traverse this field of boulders, Janice, Melissa, and John, being the brave hikers that they are, decided to hike one of the many trails in the park, not knowing that it would lead them across the field of boulders. They made it all right.
Although Hickory Run State Park is maintained in a very shabby condition, there was a small concession stand where you could obtain snacks such as potato chips, soft drinks, etc. The only problem was that I was elected to carry the drinks from the concession stand back to the car. On the way down one of the small slopes that always seem to exist in Pennsylvania, I spilled one of the drinks into the cardboard carrying box, and, of course, I ended up with my drink being poured from the cardboard box back into MY cup. Oh, well, such is the life of Grandpa.
Now a word or two about Mr. Asa Packer: He was born in Mystic, Connecticut on December 29, 1805. He became a carpenter at an early age and in 1837 he and his brother Robert accepted a contract to build coal-boats at Pottsville for three years. Following this success, he returned to Mauch Chunk and became involved in the mining and shipping of coal. From this he was drawn into railroading, the transportation of the future, in 1840.
Actually a paper railroad, the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad (later shortened to the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1853) was chartered in 1846. Packer built the Lehigh Valley railroad into 650 miles of track from New York State to the New Jersey Seaboard. At his death in 1879, Mr. Packer's estate was valued at over 54 million dollars.
My sister Ruth Werner and her friend Emelia Wellmann bought into a time sharing resort in Florida some years ago and one of the things that they are able to do is to exchange the two weeks they have the use of the place for a similar time at some other resort that honors the same sort of rules and privileges.
In May of 1988 they arranged a swap for a week at the Split Rock Resort in the Poconos. Ruth and Emelia drove up from their home in Jackson, Mississippi and arrived in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania on Friday, May 20, 1988 and we both left for the Poconos on Saturday, May 21, 1988 using our own separate cars since we planned on continuing to Janice's home for a few days while Ruth and Emelia were going back to Emelia's sister's home in St. Louis, Missouri.
It turned out that we had a very nice villa which is really similar to a townhouse. There were two bedrooms on the lower floor with two baths and a sauna. The one bath was also a hot tub. On the upper floor we had a large living room, dining area and a complete kitchen. There was also a fireplace. It was a very nice comfortable place to spend a few days of leisure.
We prepared some of our meals in our villa and ate some of them in the very comfortable Terraced Main Dining Room which featured continental cuisine. The Galleria Lounge was for cocktails and nightly entertainment while the Lobby Lounge, with a massive stone fireplace, was for just sitting and overlooked a tropical interior pool for swimming. Most of our lunches were eaten on the road at some restaurant or fast food eatery.
It was while we were at the Split Rock Resort that we made our first trip to The Hickory Run State Park and the very interesting Boulder Field. We also visited the town of Jim Thorpe as mentioned before. There were other forms of entertainment at Split Rock such as bingo, card games, hiking, tennis, swimming, etc. We did play bingo one time but we were really more interested in seeing the countryside and visiting the various points of interest. I believe that we did go to Bushkill Falls which I have already described.
One more note on the town formerly known as Mauch Chunk; The Carbon County Jail is still the imposing citadel it was when constructed in 1869. Members of the Molly Macguires, forerunners of present day labor unions, were tried and convicted here in 1877- five were hanged. Legend has it that the last to meet his fate left his "hand print" on the wall to remain forever as proof of his innocence. The film "The Molly Macguires" was filmed on location in Jim Thorpe.
I hope I did not bore you too much with all of the details of Mauch Chunk, now Jim Thorpe, but I could not resist giving you the details of a town with such a unique name and history. Thank you for bearing with me.
On Thursday, May 26, 1988 we left the Split Rock Resort and traveled on to Mercerville, New Jersey to Janice's home where we helped them prepare and pack for their move to Florida. Ruth and Emelia were supposed to stay at the Resort until Saturday, but they left on Friday, May 27, 1988 since they were somewhat anxious to get to St. Louis, Missouri. Doris and I stayed with Janice and her family until Tuesday, May 31, 1988 when we left for Glenshaw, Pennsylvania and home.
On Friday, August 12, 1988 Doris and I left for the Poconos again, this time to Janice's cottage where we met Janice and our grandchildren, Melissa and John. On Saturday it was so hot that we went looking for a fan. Our search was in vain for there were no fans to be found in the Pocono area. On Sunday, August 14 Janice's friend, Sheila with her children Holly and Patrick, came up to join us. We all had a good time and Doris and Janice along with Sheila prepared a very good dinner which was enjoyed by all, especially the warm buttered French Bread.
On Monday Doris, Janice, Melissa, John, and I traveled to Scranton, Pennsylvania where we visited the Lackawanna Coal Mine. This mine is not in operation but they do conduct tours of their underground operations. The mine entrance is in McDade Park on Bald Mountain Road. Visiting this coal mine was like a travel back in time: Long hours, deep within the earth's crust, lonely caverns, no glimpse of light ... The coal miner worked long, hard days in this underground world. We were going to experience the life of the coal miner as we put on our hard hats and prepared for the journey 250 feet below the earth's surface. Our guide was a retired coal miner as we explored this actual anthracite coal mine known as the Slope 190 Mine.
We all boarded a mine car equipped with seats, similar to the cars actually used to lower the miners into the mine. This was not a mine with a vertical shaft and an elevator type cage; instead we were let down a slope in the car by means of a steel cable and the regular mine hoist. I had been in many mines with slope entries as well as many with drift entries where you enter in a more-or-less level tunnel as well as many with vertical shafts that range anywhere from a couple of hundred feet deep to well over 5000 feet deep.
The slope was not too steep, but you always wonder what would happen if the cable broke--probably nothing but a very rapid descent and a big crash when you reached the bottom and with no seat belts it would also be a big mess. The cable did not break on our way down or on our way back up later on. Upon reaching the bottom, the slope levels out and when we finally came to a stop, we all got out and the guide began to tell us about the mine and its operation. The trip was actually about 1/5 of a mile to the floor of an actual vein of coal. We explored the world of a coal miner through three separate veins.
They had several set-ups at various places in the mine with very life-like dummies of coal miners as well as mules which were used for hauling the coal around underground. I did notice that the miners shown were all using MSA cap lamps, but I did not see any Self Rescuers being used. The mining operation of this anthracite mine was a little different than most of the bituminous mines that I had seen. I also was a little surprised to see that only the guide had a cap lamp--the rest of us just had our hard hats and no lights. We didn't really need a cap lamp, though, since the entire part of the mine in which we were allowed was well lighted with ordinary electric lights. However, if there was a failure of the power we would have been in the dark--I do not remember if there were emergency lights in the mine. Our guide did switch off the lights and when only his cap lamp was still on he turned it off also, to show us all what darkness really is. It is impossible to see your hand in front of your face.
Hard coal (anthracite) is mined more like the ore mines of the western United States where pockets are blasted and allowed to slide downward to a car or collection point and then hauled to a place where it is transferred to a hoist or a slope car for hauling to the surface. If there were any level places in the mine, they would be mined more like a conventional soft coal (bituminous) seam.
Here is some additional information: The air temperature is a constant 55 degrees F., and is somewhat damp and drafty, although I did not find it nearly as damp and drafty as most soft coal mines where much more ventilation is required because of the presence of large quantities of methane gas. We were encouraged to wear jackets or sweaters--the mine would lend you a sweater if you did not have anything warm with you. Abandoned in 1966, this anthracite mine was restored as a tourist attraction in 1985 by the Federal Government and Lackawanna County at a cost of approximately $2.5 million dollars. Steel props (the old ones were wooden) were installed, along with a ventilation system. The mine exceeds all federal, state and local safety requirements; it is inspected daily by a Certified Mine Foreman and regulated by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mines.
Also located nearby the mine is The Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum. This museum is a spacious 25,000 square foot exhibit hall located 300 feet above the floor of the Lackawanna Coal Mine. It is dedicated to exploring the daily lives and surroundings of the people and institutions of Northeastern Pennsylvania's industrial Golden Age.
The museum preserves the images of days past ... the heavy tools of an anthracite miner, railroad cars heaped with "black diamonds", the humming textile mills, the "patch" homes of the miners and their families. It shows you how women and children wove thread into clothing, and how men blasted and drilled coal--built railroads with their own hands, and all for a pittance in wages. You can also buy chunks of anthracite coal of different sizes to take home for a souvenir. Incidentally, hard coal is not really dirty in the sense that soft coal is--it does not rub off on your hands as soft coal does.
After leaving the Lackawanna Mine we returned to Janice's cottage and the next day which was Tuesday, August 16, 1988 we spent visiting some of the many interesting candle shops, antique stores, candy shops, etc. We also managed to make the visit to Hickory Run State Park and Boulder Field which I mentioned before.
On Wednesday, August 18, 1988, we all departed for our homes and we all arrived safely.
There is one place in Pennsylvania that should be a must for everyone who wishes to see beautiful exquisite flowers, majestic trees and opulent architecture. At Longwood Gardens you will find America's foremost horticultural display. Here amid acres of formal gardens, sparkling fountains, and exotic plants from all over the world, you will find perfection at every turn, and it is open every day of the year. There are 350 acres of outdoor gardens and woodlands and a conservatory sheltering 20 indoor gardens. They have 11,000 different kinds of plants and have roses and orchids blooming all year-round. One of the world's largest pipe organs is located here.
Longwood Gardens is located on US Route 1 near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, some 30 miles west-southwest of Philadelphia in the Museum rich Brandywine Valley. This place is worth a visit at least once, if not several times. I believe Doris and I have been there at least twice, and we would like to return again. They have water lilies that have the usual round leaves that lay perfectly flat on the surface of the water, only these leaves are easily four or five feet in diameter.
The year of 1988 was the year that Janice and her family moved to Florida and settled in Longwood, only a few miles from Jeanne and Bill's home in Maitland. I still believe that it was the trip home from Glenshaw to New Jersey during a stormy, cold winter's day that convinced them that Florida was the place to live.
We departed from Glenshaw for our trip to Florida on November 17, 1988 and I do not recall, nor do I have any records of where we stayed first or who had the Thanksgiving dinner. I do know that Janice and family were settled in their new home in Longwood, Florida in a development known as Sable Point, and Jeanne and Bill were still in Maitland. Their move to Longwood (not too close to Janice's home), was just a few weeks before Janice and family moved to Tampa, Florida in 1992. I apologize for this lack of records and a very poor memory. Anyway, we did have an enjoyable visit with both families and did get to stay at Janice's new home, which was also very nice. We returned to Glenshaw on Thursday, December 1, 1988.
This was also the year that Janice and her family came up to Philadelphia and the Poconos for a few winter days. Skiing? She arrived on Saturday, December 17, 1988 and departed back to Florida on Wednesday, December 21, 1988, only to come back to Glenshaw with Melissa and John for a visit with us old folks. After a very pleasant visit, they returned to Florida on Monday, January 2, 1989. and the next day we had a snow storm--weren't they lucky?
I do not remember when it was, but Doris and I made a trip to the Tour-Ed Mine located on the Allegheny Valley Expressway, Route 28, at the Tarentum Exit-Red Belt. The Red belt is one of a series of roads which are designated by various colors that are supposed to go in a roughly circular path around Allegheny County, each a little bit further out from the city of Pittsburgh. The idea behind these designations was to lay out routes which would allow motorists to travel from one part of the county to another part without going through the city, using already existing highways. It was a good idea, except that the signs and directional arrows have deteriorated from lack of maintenance making them difficult to follow. The county has just recently decided to repair the signs, etc.
The Tour-Ed mine is in a district known as the Laurel Highlands. This mine is really a non-operating small drift mine with a very level, unexciting entrance. At this mine we were all given regular miner's hard hats and cap lamps, al-be-it, they were of MSA's competitor's manufacture. To be honest, they make a pretty good cap lamp, too, so I was not worried that our lamps would go out.
We boarded a typical mine personnel car and were pulled by a battery operated mine locomotive on which the battery did not run down during our tour of the mine. We went about one-half mile into the mine and got out of the car for a short walking tour of the mining operation as was done many years ago when it was all done by hand.
It was really hard physical work in those days. Coal mining in the Allegheny Valley began about 1800 and there was quite a few of the old hand tools there in the mine. Much to my surprise, they also had an old model continuous miner and a roof bolting machine that installs bolts in the mine roof to help prevent roof falls. Another thing that I noticed was the dryness of this mine --- most mines in this area have serious water problems as well as methane gas to handle. Methane is relatively easy to handle in a non-operating mine; all you need is some ventilation. Sometimes even natural ventilation is sufficient but it is necessary to monitor the methane and thereby determine how much ventilation is required. Most explosions in the underground coal mines are initially a methane explosion, which in turn may ignite the coal dust and result in a really disastrous whole mine explosion.
Water is a different kind of a problem. It must be drained from the mine, and, since water flows best in a down hill direction, it may be impossible to use natural drainage. Pumps are then required and they are not only expensive to install, they are also expensive to maintain and operate. In many cases when a coal mine has been mined out and is going to be shut down, the mine will fill with water after the pumps are shut off. The other problem with coal mine water is that it usually contains many contaminates, especially of an acid nature. This water if drained directly into streams will kill all plant and animal life in the stream as well as making it an ugly, foul-smelling sight to see.
This acidic condition can be controlled by adding lime to the water, neutralizing the acid and precipitating out much of iron and other contaminates. This costs money and it does not end when the mine is shut down --- it can go on forever unless there is a way to seal up all of the drainage outlets permanently and this is very difficult to accomplish.
And now to get away from the problems of the coal mining industry. In addition to the Mine Communication Equipment, known affectionately as The MinePhone Equipment, (note the capital "P" in the middle of the name), this was a copyrighted name, MSA also sold a fire detection system, remote control systems for fans and conveyor belts as well as pumps. I believe that I have already mentioned the Pagers and Methane Monitors which we also marketed.
Assisting in the sales of this much equipment as well as in servicing it meant that I had to do a lot of traveling all over the country as well as a few other countries. Add to the above the classes that I taught on the use and maintenance of the methane monitors and communication systems, I was busy; but I enjoyed it all, and I still miss the traveling and the people I met and with whom I worked. This may seem strange to you above-ground people, but I had no fear of going under ground in a mine and working there with MSA people as well as with the mining people. There were only a very few occasions where I felt I was being imposed upon and one of those was that time in Mexico, which I mentioned before.
Do you remember way back when I was telling about our stay in Princeton, New Jersey while I was attending the Pre-Radar School? Well, I just ran across the room regulations that were issued to all of the Officers, since we were required to stay on the campus except for a couple of hours on Wednesday evening and on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday until 8:00 PM (Also all Saturday Night).
The following is a copy of those regulations--I thought you might be interested:
U.S. NAVAL TRAINING SCHOOL, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY.
26 Oct 1943.
All rooms shall be ready for inspection from 0800 to 1645 Monday through Friday, from 0800 to 1200 Saturday and from 1030 to 1200 on Sunday.
AIRING (ROOMS AND BEDDING) - All rooms to be thoroughly aired between classes; all windows to be an even distance from bottom sill, amount of opening depending on weather; doors to be open; all bedding to be pulled to foot of bed until after breakfast.
ASH TRAYS - To be emptied and polished when not in use; to be stowed on desk at base of lamp.
ATHLETIC GEAR - To be aired out overnight and stowed on dresser or laundry bag during day.
BATH ROBES - To be hung in closet on starboard side of uniforms to port of unused hangers.
BEDDING - On day fresh bedding is drawn to be stacked neatly at foot of bed; bunks not to be made up until after 1645.
BLANKETS - To be folded once lengthwise, twice crosswise so that blue band does not show; rounded corners toward foot of bunk and inspecting officer.
BOOKS - To be stowed according to height (either two sets in pyramid or one set in descending order from port to starboard); to be placed on mantles or dressers, preferably on former; no loose sheets to protrude.
BREAKAGE - Of any equipment or damage to any part of building or equipment to be reported immediately to the Company Officer.
BRIEFCASES - To be stowed on top shelf of green locker or closet
BROOMS - To be stored on hook or nail in back of closet door; bristles to be kept clean.
BULKHEADS - To be kept free of all pictures and pin-ups except navigational, signal, and other official charts.
BUNKS -To be made hospital fashion with 45 degree corners at head of first sheet and at foot on all other sheets, blankets, and spreads; spread to be over pillow (at least half way) and to be tucked under pillow; no pennants to be allowed to hang from beneath springs.
BUNK TAGS - Each bunk to have tag or tape on center of top frame with name of occupant and arrow indicating top or lower bunk.
CHAIRS - To be placed under desks when not in use.
CLOSETS - Nothing to be stowed on deck; all hangers to point to rear of closet; all clothing to face port side, all clothing to be buttoned up; top shelf to be reserved for visored caps and gear stowed neatly in boxes, laundry bags to be on hooks behind clothes; shirts and pajamas not be hung up; doors to be open for Saturday inspection.
DECKS - To be thoroughly swept, particularly under bunks, shoes, lockers, dressers, behind doors and in closet; janitors to swab decks with disinfectant at least once each week.
DRESSERS - To contain shirts, pajamas, underwear, socks, handkerchiefs, and all other loose gear and equipment, all folded and stowed neatly; for Saturday inspection, top drawer to open one inch, second drawer two inches, etc.
DRESS CAPS - To be stowed on shelf of closet, visors down; rain cap covers permissible on white caps.
DUST - All rooms to be thoroughly dusted, particularly tops of desks, dressers, doors, and lockers, moldings of doors, room and mantle, top of mantles, beneath books, bunk frames, chair rungs, closet shelves and transom frame in passageway.
DUST PAN -To be stowed on hook behind closet door.
DUST RAGS - To be stowed in extra laundry bag in closet.
ELECTRICAL - No electrical appliances will be permitted; nor additional bulbs which might overload circuits and create fire hazards.
GREEN LOCKER - Top shelf to be reserved for briefcases, stationery, signal flags and navigation paper (rolled); side shelves for toilet articles only; hanger space for rain coats only, if additional stowage permits; doors to be opened for Saturday inspection.
HANGERS - To face to rear of closet, all unused hangers to be placed at extreme starboard side of clothes pole.
LAMPS - To be thoroughly dusted (including bulb); to be stowed with shade parallel to desk top and pushed all the way back against support which is to be perpendicular to desk and secured at center of one of the sides (not in corner); any cord which blocks walking area to be disconnected and wound neatly around base of lamp for Saturday inspection; to be turned out when not in use.
LAUNDRY BAGS - To be stowed on hooks toward rear of closet, preferably in back of clothes.
LIGHTS - To be turned off when not in use; not to be left on for Saturday inspection except when personnel inspection is held in quarters.
LUGGAGE - To be stowed neatly in passageway closet or storeroom.
LUGGAGE CLOSET (BROWN HALL) - To be kept free of dust rags, bottles, and loose gear; all luggage to be stowed neatly. Closet to be used for luggage only.
MIRRORS - Glass to be kept polished and frame dusted.
PICTURES AND PHOTOGRAPHS - to be stowed on dressers only; frames to be kept dusted.
PILLOWS - To be at same end of bunk.
PILLOW CASES - Closed end to face side nearest inspecting officer.
RADIOS - Permitted but not to be used during study periods; to be stowed on desk and kept dusted.
ROOM CAPTAIN - Is responsible for observance all regulations and for all room checks and musters.
ROOM CARDS - To be posted one inch below room number on door on a plain 3X5 index card (3 inch side up) with alphabetical list all men in room neatly printed or typewritten; paper clip to designate room captain who shall be rotated every Monday at 0800.
SHADES - To be kept all the way up (two-blocked) when rooms are not occupied.
SHIRTS - Not to be hung in closets; to be folded neatly and stowed in dresser.
SHOES - To be kept polished and stowed in straight line with edge of bunk supports so as to be readily visible by inspecting officer; to be stowed in this order from foot to head of bunk: black, brown, white, sneakers, slippers; no socks to be stowed in shoes.
SHOELACES - To be stowed neatly inside of shoes.
SIGNAL FLAGS - To be stowed on top shelf of green locker or in rear of dresser drawer.
SMOKING - Permitted in rooms only; no butts to be dropped in head, passageway, or outside of building; all cigarettes, cigars, and pipes to be extinguished before leaving room.
STATIONERY - If no room is available in desk drawer, to be stowed neatly on top shelf of green locker or in rear of dresser drawer.
TOILET ARTICLES - To be stowed neatly on side shelves of green locker or in forward part of dresser drawer.
TOWELS - To be folded in thirds and hung on extreme sides of top rung of bunk with white "N" showing on blue background; bottom part to be tucked under middle bunk rail; two towels only per bunk.
UNIFORMS - To be hung neatly facing port side, buttoned up, in this order: blue gray, khaki, white, no suspenders to be visible.
WASHCLOTHS - To be hung neatly on top rung of bunk Monday through Friday; to be stowed with toilet articles for Saturday inspection.
WASTEBASKETS - To be used for all waste paper and dirt; to be placed in passageway by 0800 for emptying by janitor.
WINDOWS - To be dusted on inside; to be kept open equal distance from bottom (depending on weather) between classes and for Saturday inspection.
WINDOW BOXES - To be kept neat and orderly and used for stowage of any gear except clothes.
NO EQUIPMENT IS TO BE MOVED WITHOUT AUTHORITY OF THE FIRST LIEUTENANT
Notes by the author on the above regulations:
It is obvious that these regulations were written for an institution like the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland since we did not have many of the items which are referred to in this document.
For instance; we did not have any navigation charts, green lockers, brown shoes, and signal flags. However, we did have to obey the regulations in as much as we were able to with the equipment we had. We did not like it much, but we realized that it was only for a short while--and it was good training. Also please note use of the nautical terms throughout as follows. (This list is primarily for you landlubbers and polywogs)
Deck ------------------- floor
Bulkhead --------------- wall
Bunk ------- ----------- bed
Passageway ------------- hall
Head ------------------- toilet-shower
Gear ------------------- possessions
Stow or stowed ------- kept or put away
Port ------------------- left
Fresh ------------ ----- clean (bedding)
Charts ----------------- maps
Pennants --------------- parts of sheet hanging through springs
Swab ------------------- mop
Two-blocked - -------- when raising sails, the lower pulley block is pulled up to actually touch the upper pulley block; applies to window shades.
All of the student officers at the Princeton training school were Naval Reserve Officers with the rank of Ensign and I believe that every one of us thought we were back in midshipman's school or even boot camp again. As I mentioned before, we did not like all of this BS (pardon the nautical expression), but there was nothing we could do but endure it for a few months and pray for the day we would be moving on to M.I.T. for the real RADAR training. We were very happy when we found out that there were NO Officer quarters available at M.I.T. and we HAD to find our own living quarters in the city in an apartment which would be all to ourselves. Remember that everything with which we were working was classified as confidential or secret and we could not take any work home with us. We sure were upset that we had every evening to ourselves--especially during war time. Fighting a war is always a tough assignment, but some one has to do it, so we "carried on" as they say in the Navy.
Back to Traveling
Now, back to some more traveling: On Tuesday, April 7, 1987 we departed Glenshaw, Pennsylvania bound for Jackson, Mississippi for a visit with my sister Ruth and her friend Emelia. The first day we drove 374 miles and stayed over night at The Days Inn in Bristol, Tennessee. I do not recall where we ate our meals on this trip, but on the second day we drove 376 miles and stayed at The Days Inn at 1011 9th Avenue, S.W. in Bessemer, Alabama. We originally planned to keep going and stay at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but that would have made the day's driving 432 miles and that was a little too much. Bessemer is very close to Birmingham, Alabama.
On Thursday, April 19, 1987 we drove the final 231 miles and arrived in Jackson, Mississippi about noon after driving a total distance of 981 miles. After studying the map of Jackson, we finally decided on the best route to Ruth's home and had no real trouble finding it. I do remember that snow was still on the ground in and around Bristol, Tennessee and we had worried about driving into the region since there had been a late March heavy snow in that part of the state. We found the parking lot cleaned out and the roads were dry, for the most part.
I also remember that at one time we had planned to extend this trip on into Florida for a visit with Jeanne and Bill. After going over the routes and the mileage, we decided, with reluctance, of course, that it would be a two night trip from Jackson to Orlando--about two and one-half days, the way we like to drive.
Including the return trip from Orlando to Glenshaw would involve about seven and one-half days of traveling in a two week trip--that did not make much sense. We started our return trip on Monday, April 13, 1987.
There is a park in Jackson which is a restored country village of years gone by. I remember an old school house and an old home with replica of an old man rocking in a chair on the front porch. The man actually looked alive. We did buy a burned wood carving of him at one of the stores in the village. I do believe there were live pigs and chickens there, too.
Although it was on a previous trip to Jackson we drove to Vicksburg, Mississippi and visited several of the pre-Civil War homes, and walked around the Civil War Battlefield. A large number of the huge mansions have been restored and very well maintained, and are beautiful to see.
There is a large artificial lake at Jackson and we did spend some time exploring it, (In a car, of course). We also caught up on our talking, and, since Ruth has no end of tales about her Nursing experiences, we all had a very enjoyable (laughing, too) time. We ate a lot of our meals out, but Ruth and Emelia did cook up one very delicious meal--I believe it was on Sunday. I tried to play Ruth's Hammond (Model 100, I think), but without the chord symbols that I am used to, I didn't have too much success.
On the return trip we stopped the first night, Monday, April 13, 1987 at The Days Inn at 7015 Shallowford Road in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a distance of 381 miles. The second night, Tuesday, April 14, 1987 we holed up in our old friendly Days Inn at 102 Harper Park Drive in Beckley, West Virginia, and added 365 more miles to our trip. We drove from Beckley to our home in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, April 15, 1987, a distance of 235 miles.
Back on the 26 of Sept, 1990 we decided to follow up on a suggestion from Jeanne that the "BEST APPLEBUTTER IN THE WORLD" was available at the Sam Beachy & Sons Cider Press in Salisbury, Pennsylvania. This is near Meyersdale and is not too far from Pittsburgh.
To get to Salisbury, Pennsylvania from Glenshaw you get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the nearest interchange, which is the Allegheny Valley interchange and head east to the Somerset Exit where you leave the Turnpike and go south on US 219. This change from the Turnpike to US 219 is not as simple as it might look; the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, as usual, with full cooperation of the Turnpike, managed to build the Somerset Interchange about 4 or 5 miles from the main north and south highway, US 219. Instead, you find yourself on PA 281, and must find your way through the town of Somerset to get to US 219 going south. It is possible to avoid the town if you don't mind going 3 miles north to US 219 and then head south on that road approximately 6 miles to the place where you would be if you take the route through the town of Somerset. The north-south route is probably the easiest even though it is a bit farther, for the way through the town is poorly marked and difficult to follow, even though Somerset is a small town.
If you are lucky and eventually do get on US 219 you have most of the battle won; just drive south then through towns of Berlin, (not Germany) Garrett, Meyersdale and on south to Salisbury. You are only about two miles from the Maryland state line, but the battle is not completely won yet--you must now find Sam Beachy and Sons' farm and store where this "Best in the world" apple butter is made. The brochure put out by the Company provides a map of sorts and indicates that you make a right turn on to PA 669 and then just before you come to a school house, make a left turn on to an unnamed, unmarked road that leads to the store.
Of course, we got lost, and, in utter desperation, I consented to ask a farmer for directions. We followed his directions and had no more trouble finding our destination.
We were surprised to find the store was a small country hardware store and that it was closed. However, we knew we were getting close for we could smell the luscious smell of apples cooking. It seems that the small apple butter production plant is in a building in the back of the property. We drove around and after finding a suitable space, parked the car and went into the plant where-from the wonderful smells were emanating.
They were very gracious to us and allowed us to watch the production of their apple butter as well as apple cider. Not being much of an apple cider lover, we bought only four quarts of apple butter. It was not cheap, but after having come so far, we were not going home empty handed, for it is really very good apple butter.
Here is a little background information on this operation: The Sam Beachy & Sons Cider press, near Salisbury, is Somerset County's only producer of both apple cider and apple butter. Boiled cider, used in making mince meat, is also available. Sam Beachy and his two sons Merino and Alvin (they are of Amish faith) bought the press operation from neighbors in 1950-the origin of the press is uncertain, but it was moved into this area in 1921. Since Sam Beachy's retirement in 1971, Merino and Alvin, with two assistants, run the operation and maintain the quality of the products. Each year they produce approximately 50,000 gallons of cider and 10,000 gallons of apple butter. In this process, 15,000 bushels of apples are used. They also do custom production for anybody that brings their own apples to the plant.
That apple butter was probably the most expensive we ever bought since the distance to Sam Beachy and Sons'operation turned out to be about 110 miles each way. We did enjoy the trip and watching the operation as well as the return trip back to Glenshaw--and the apple butter was delicious, too.
Just to make the return trip more enjoyable we continued on south on US 219 into the State of Maryland and picked up US 40, going west towards Uniontown where we changed to US 119 for a couple of miles and then turned left onto PA 51 which eventually takes you to the city of Pittsburgh and on to home. The big drawback from this route is traveling through the city, especially if you try it at the "rush" hour--which seems to be almost all of the time.
For some unknown reason I cannot find any record of it in any of my files, but I do remember making a return trip to Beachy and Sons' operation at a later date, obviously at least a year later, since their operation is only in the autumn and lasts only about two months. Anyway, we had, in addition to Doris and me, Gladys, Ira, and Marion on this trip. We all went in our car and departed Glenshaw about the middle of the morning so that we were in Meyersdale at lunch time.
There is a small restaurant in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania that bears the name HUGHES DINER and since Doris, Gladys, and Ira all have the name of Hughes, we decided that it would be appropriate to eat at the Hughes Diner. For a small restaurant in a small town, it was not bad. I could not resist telling the waitress that we were mostly of the Hughes family also. She then told us that the owner's name was Doris Hughes, the same as my wife's maiden name. Doris, the restaurant owner, was out at the time, so we did not get to meet her, but her son, who turned out to be the cashier that day, did say, "Good-bye, Mom" to Doris when we left. After lunch we traveled on to Sam Beachy and Sons' apple butter operation where we all bought a supply of their product. We bought more than the first time since we planned on taking some with us to Florida that year, which we did.
S ome time during late March or early April the town of Meyersdale puts on a Maple Syrup Festival. That time of the year is when the sap is running and maple syrup is made in that area in relatively large quantities. Maple syrup is sold in most all of the stores as well as by farmers who set up their own stands along the streets. Locally made craft articles are also on sale as well as hand made quilts and other Amish type apparel.
I am not sure, but I believe that the Lion's Club sponsors a pancake and sausage dinner which starts before noon and continues into the evening--an all you can eat affair. I had seen this dinner advertised in the Pittsburgh papers for many years but never got around to going. Knowing my love of pancakes and sausage would never be satiated until I had tried this dinner in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, I talked Doris, who is not a great pancake lover, into going up to Meyersdale on Friday, April 12, 1991, since I figured that Saturday and Sunday would be much more crowded.
We had no trouble getting to our destination and finding where the dinner was being held--which turned out to be a school cafeteria, just about in the middle of town. A bigger problem was finding a place to park, but with the kind cooperation of some of the local people, we were directed to a suitable place. The pancake and sausage dinner was served quickly, and with loads of butter and genuine MAPLE SYRUP. For those of you who frown on high cholesterol high sugar diets, please grant me one big splurge, and I promise that I will not have pancakes and maple syrup until next Saturday.
Since we finished the pancake, sausage and maple syrup dinner shortly after noon, we decided to go on down into the state of Maryland and visit Cumberland, the county seat of Allegany County. This is the town where my great-grandfather, John Casper Werner was supposed to have received his naturalization papers on or about October 12, 1840.
It turns out that Cumberland is a very hilly town and we could not find the Court House right away, but we did see a sign pointing to a Tourist Information Center. We followed the signs and ended in what appeared to be an old abandoned warehouse--and there, much to our surprise, was the Tourist Information Center. We told them what our mission was and they not only directed us to the Court House, but also came up with a brochure that had the address of The Allegany County Genealogy Society. (Incidentally, that is the correct way to spell Allegany County, Maryland, but not Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.)
We drove to the Court House and parked the car as near as possible and walked across the street towards the Court House building where I noticed one of those historical markers on the lawn. It did not say that George Washington had slept there, but it did say that he and his army had camped there once. It also said that the Court House had been destroyed by fire twice since it was first built. This is not unusual for it seems that court houses in general are often destroyed by fire--the one in Kingwood, West Virginia once, and the big one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania twice. Of course, the fact that the court house had burned down twice does not necessarily mean all of the records are lost, but it does mean that there may not be complete records that far back.
We did find a book with hand written entries of people who were naturalized during that year, 1840, but no John Casper Werner or anyone named Werner, as far as that goes.
A subsequent letter from my distant cousin Janice E. Sharps in Bridgeport, West Virginia stated that Mr. John Casper Werner may have been naturalized in, of all places, Somerset, Pennsylvania. I also had the opportunity to look at my brother-in-law, Charles Ricciardi's naturalization paper when we were in Culver, Indiana for my sister Mary's funeral. I could find no pertinent information other than his native country, Italy, and the date of his birth. There was no mention of his parents or the city of his birth. I believe that this information is to be found on the application for naturalization, but I am not sure of this, either. I have just about given up searching further for information that may not even exist.
Leaving Cumberland, Maryland we drove west on the wonderful four lane highway to Morgantown, West Virginia where all of my sisters and brother were born. I had found the address of my parents family from the 1910 census, so we stopped at the first gas station that looked as if it might have a map of the city. We finally found a Morgantown map but there was no listing of the street in question. I can remember my mother saying that when they were living in Morgantown, she could look out of her window and see the campus of the University of West Virginia. One probability is that the University of West Virginia has perhaps expanded since 1910 and taken over the street and made it part of the campus. Again, I do not know--maybe they just changed its name. We returned home that afternoon, late and somewhat disappointed that our searching had come to naught.
Here is a little bit of information that seems very appropriate for older people:
10 COMMANDMENTS TO PREVENT FEELING OLD
*Thou shalt not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.
*Thou shalt not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.
*Thou shalt not attempt to cross bridges before you get to them.
*Thou shalt face each problem as it comes. (You can only handle one at time anyway.)
*Thou shalt not take problems to bed with you for problems make lousy bedfellows.
*Thou shalt not borrow other people's problems.
*Thou shalt count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.
*Thou shalt be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas that are different from your own.
*Thou shalt not become bogged down by frustration, for 90% of it is rooted in self-pity, and it will only interfere with positive action.
*Thou shalt not try to relive yesterday, for good or ill. Concentrate on what is happening today.
Concentrate on what is happening today. If it is your birthday, then live it up, and really celebrate. And if it isn't your birthday ... well, live it up and really celebrate anyhow.
To that I say amen.
I just found a short article which quite obviously came from a newspaper, but I do not know which one--probably the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune or the Plymouth (Ind.) Pilot. Here it is:
ABOARD THE U.S.S. CHICAGO IN TOKYO HARBOR - -(delayed)--Lieut. John E. Werner, 30, U.S.N.R., son of Mr. and Mrs. Howard L. Werner, 200 White Street, Culver, Indiana was aboard this powerful cruiser as she steamed triumphantly into Tokyo Bay. In a recent operation off the Japanese coast, his ship participated in three shore bombardments and supported nine carrier air strikes in what is considered as one of the most daring naval actions of the war. Lieut. Werner was graduated from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1937 and was employed by the U.S. Navy inspection service, Philadelphia, Pa. as a metallurgist. His wife, Doris, is living in Glenshaw, Pa.
This, of course, was in 1945, but I have no idea of the exact date. I realize this is not in proper chronological order, but I thought I should include it anyway. I still have some more Navy material that I also wish to include.
Here is a poem which was written by John J. Foley, Cox MAA of the U.S. Navy:
THAT PHOTOGRAPH OF YOU
When the evening shadows gather,
After all my work is through,
I can't keep my eyes from straying
To a photograph of you.
There it rests upon my table,
Just the way you looked that day,
Ah! It seems it was but yesterday
When first I heard you say
Words of love that made me happy
And made all my dreams come true;
But tonight I'm all alone with
Just a photograph of you.
For one day our country called you,
And bravely you answered, "Here"
Oh! I'm so proud of you, my sailor
Yet I brush away a tear
'Cause I miss your cheery whistle,
Miss your footsteps on the stairs;
Miss your strong arms and your kisses
That can banish all my cares.
Then I wonder if you're lonely---
And I pray to God to keep you safe,
Yes --- I know you miss me too;
While I sit here dreaming-gazing
At that photograph of you.
So I tiptoe to my window,
Kneel and wish upon a star
No matter where you are.
Thus my heart is ever with you
While I wait the long day through;
And the dearest of my treasures
Is that photograph of you.
When the years have told their story,
And the world is once more free,
I'll be waiting for you--darling
There will still be you and me.
Then we'll build our dreams together
Hand in hand the long years through
But forever in my heart I'll hold
That photograph of you...........
How about that? It is a nice little poem and does express how the ones we left behind felt about their sailor sweethearts (We hope). Anyway, I like it and that is why it is included in my Memoirs. One of the few nice things about being away at sea, leaving a beautiful girl back home, is the anticipation of one day returning to her warm embrace and never again having to know that you must soon part with great sadness in your heart and head back to your ship.
As I sit here at my word processor I seem to be at a loss as to what to write about--don't worry, I'll think of something. So here goes:
Doctors in the Family
I just received a letter from Marizetta, our niece, and she sent me some interesting information on some of the Werner family who were Doctors. One of them, a Dr. Harry Rupert Werner and his wife, Emily Dare Werner wrote a book about their lives, starting in Eglon, West Virginia. His brother was Dr. William L. Werner, also known as "BIG DOC", while he was known as "LITTLE DOC". Their father was Andrew Werner, a brother of my grandfather, Hampton Werner. "LITTLE DOC" also had son who became a doctor known as "LITTLE DOC" the second.
At one point in the book they mention about going to live with their Aunt Lucinda (My grandmother) and Uncle Jake as well as his cousins Lephia, Ira, Luke, (My father) and Ida. It is the name "Uncle Jake" that stops me since his name was Hampton. It could not have been either of my grandmother's other two husbands since the second one was a Dr. Wesley Hansford, and they had one daughter Delphia, who is not mentioned as having been there. Grandma's third husband was Jesse Lee--"Jake" still does not fit. I never did know if Hampton Werner had a middle name, so let's call him "Jake". Hi, Grandpa Hampton (Jake) Werner. Marizetta is getting a copy of the book for me.
The book written by Dr. Harry Rupert Werner, as related to his wife Emily Dare Werner, arrived last Friday, having been mailed to me by Marizetta Kenney. I found it very interesting reading, especially his descriptions of how a family physician had to practice in those days. I do not know exactly what the years were of his practice, but you would gather that Little Doc (Harry R. Werner) started practice shortly after the turn of the century and his older brother, Big Doc, (William L. Werner) probably started a little before the turn of the century. These times are, of course, purely speculative on my part since I have no way at this time of determining the exact dates.
Whatever the dates were, it is almost unbelievable to read about the crude means of transportation available to Doctors who made house calls, and most of them did at that time. The stories of some of his cases must be read in order to appreciate what they were required to go through. The condition of the roads, where they existed at all, were terrible even under the best of times, and when the weather was bad, they were impossible--at least compared to our modern highways of today. I realize that almost one hundred years have passed, and many things have changed for the better since the times of these stories but we really do not appreciate the good things that we do have now.
I am now going to go back a few years and depart from the naval part of my life, but I do reserve the right to revert back to it as I discover what I believe to be interesting documents or stories.
New Mexico Trip
This was a trip to New Mexico where I met the MSA serviceman in Albuquerque, Mr. Rex Hendrickson. After picking up my baggage and tools at the airport we drove to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We holed up at a not too well known motel with a Spanish sounding name that has slipped my mind. I was supposed to check out the MSA Communication Systems (MinePhones) that we had sold to the Potash mines in the area.
The next day we made several calls on the various mines and found that their problems were easily corrected and I also included short sessions of maintenance instructions and the methods that we used to "Tune" the feeder cables from the rectifiers to the trolley wires.
Rex then asked me if I would be interested in visiting the Carlsbad Caverns which were nearby. One thing which I always tried to do was to visit any of the local attractions when I was traveling on business as long it was not out of the way and was not on company time. I was anxious to see the bats fly out of the cavern at dusk--there are supposed to be thousands of them. After a rather early dinner on the second day we went to the Carlsbad Caverns and walked down the seven hundred or so feet to the bottom with a group of other people and a guide. It was well worth the walk down, and after exploring the part of the cave that is open to the public, we rode the elevator back to the surface in time to stroll over to the place where we entered for our walk down, and waited for the bats to make their appearance. Just as dusk was beginning, a few bats appeared and then the quantity increased and there were hundreds and hundreds of them leaving to search for insects to eat for dinner.
I almost forgot! Rex was acquainted with an older gentleman who was a professional organ player, and knowing my love of organ music, we always managed to eat dinner in the restaurant where he was playing. Since he considered Rex a special friend, he would play anything we asked for, and without any music, too. I enjoyed it immensely. The last time I talked with Rex, I was saddened to hear that he had died.
I cannot remember whether it was this trip or not, but on one trip to Carlsbad, I was supposed to return to Pittsburgh before Rex was ready to leave the Carlsbad area. I booked a flight on what was then known as Texas International Airlines--they flew the good old Douglas DC-3 planes on this route. The talk around Carlsbad was the Airline always flew two DC-3s on each flight, with the extra plane carrying spare parts to keep the other plane flying.
My schedule was such that I would arrive in Albuquerque just three hours before my jet flight from Albuquerque to Pittsburgh was supposed to depart, I don't know what delayed the DC-3 unless the spare parts plane ran out of spare parts, or whatever, but we were so late in arriving in Albuquerque that one of the kind attendants on my DC-3 grabbed my bag and I grabbed my tool bag and off we went. We actually ran across the tarmac with my bags and boarded my plane for Pittsburgh without checking in at the gate. This was before the days of boarding planes via sky-ways directly from the waiting area. They used a set of movable stairs similar to what the big wheels use when they don't want to go through the public facilities at the airport. I feel sure that under the much more restrictive security rules in effect now, such a maneuver would not be allowed. At least I did make my flight to Pittsburgh.
Stuck in Missoula, Montana
I don't remember whether I have already told you about the time I was stuck in Missoula, Montana, or so the Airline told me. I believe that it was South West Airlines, but I am not sure. I had traveled to, Butte, Montana to check out some MSA Communication Equipment, (What else) but I do not know why we ended our trip in Missoula, but we did. I had traveled to Butte via Denver, Colorado and after changing planes and airlines arrived in Butte with no difficulty. The planes that flew from Missoula back to Denver came from Billings, Montana where they had turned around from the flight to Billings via Missoula. The problem was that my plane had broken down somewhere near Billings and could not be repaired until a new part could be flown in from wherever their base was. The next scheduled flight back to Denver would miss the last flight out of Denver to Pittsburgh. The airline offered to put me up for the night in Denver and then put me on the first available flight to Pittsburgh the next day which turned out to be a Saturday. This was not satisfactory since I was supposed to drive to Greenville, Pennsylvania with Doris to a special function of Janice's at Thiel College and this was to be at about 11:00 AM. on Saturday.
After much checking and phone calling, the Airline found a flight from Missoula, Montana to Los Angeles, California via Salt Lake City that would catch a United Airlines nonstop flight to Pittsburgh that would get me into Pittsburgh at 7:00 A.M. With a little bit of hurrying I could make it to Thiel on time.
I accepted the deal and while I was changing planes and Airlines in Los Angeles, I called home and told Doris of my new schedule. Everything worked out, although the sleep I was able get on the flight from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh did not completely satisfy my hopes of a restful night flight. My call got Doris out of bed and she was surprised that I was actually in Los Angeles, California, but happy that I would be back in time to get to Thiel with a little time left over.
There were many more trips that I made for both Union Switch and Signal as well as Mine Safety Appliances Companies but most of them were uneventful and really do not need to be told. However, if one or more come to mind, I will do my best to include them, even if they are not in chronological order.
Going back to the book written by Doctor Harry R. Werner, I just want to say that it gives one a strange but happy feeling to read references not only to people that are your relatives, but to people whom you actually know and in some cases visited. How I wish that I had just asked more questions and learned more about our ancestors. Marizetta thinks that we might be able to trace these two Doctors since they were members of various Medical organizations, health boards, and even politics for a short while. Where to start? That is the problem.
This second volume of my Memoirs has been a much delayed document since I have interrupted it so many times with my work on the Genealogies of the Werner, Taylor, Hughes, and McClain families. Also the return to my Navy days and the inclusion of a whole lot of additional information under that subject consumed a lot of time. Add to that the Holidays and you create an atmosphere in which you tend to forget what you have already said or described, making the preparation of the history of my life prone to duplication and repetition.
Union Carbide Company Mine
I remember visiting a small coal mine that belonged to the Union Carbide Company. This mine was only a few miles from Glenshaw, Pennsylvania near Saxonburg. I don't remember all of the details as to the reason for this visit since they were not a good customer of ours, but I believe that Bob Havener wanted to check out our new Pager II. Whatever the reason, we showed up at the mine one morning with a couple of our new Pagers. A Pager is an amplified telephone type of a device with a loud speaker, a handset with a push-to-talk button, and operates over the usual poor telephone lines in a coal mine. This mine was already using our older Pagers which were probably going to be outlawed in the near future since they used a 24 volt battery and the Federal Government had decided that 12 volts would be maximum allowed in the underground coal mines. It had a seam of coal that was just 40 in. in height. This means that when you walk around you must walk bent over, compressing your stomach and lungs. Bob, being on the thin side, was not bothered too much by walking bent over, but it bothered me considerable since I have a much larger abdomen. I found it rather difficult to breath in that position. Since there was no other form of transportation available at that time, after hooking up a Pager II outside, we walked into the mine to install the other pager at some remote spot. This did not take long since the mine was relatively small and we soon were on our way out, getting shorter and shorter of breath. The payoff of this whole episode was Bob's comments after we were out of the mine and on our way home. He said, "I thought sure that you were going to have a heart attack!" However, I didn't and I survived. Needless to say, I declined the next trip to this mine to check out the Pager II performance--I figured the Engineering Department needed some underground experience.
I don't know if any of you have ever had jury duty or not, but I was notified that I would be called for jury duty back in October of 1991. I received this very official looking document from the County Court informing me that my name had been picked to serve in a group from which jurors would be picked. I have lived in Pennsylvania, except for my Navy time, since July of 1937, and in Allegheny County since August of 1945 and had never been called for jury duty. So I figured that I was overdue for jury duty, although I was not overly excited about the call--it is not the easiest thing to get into downtown Pittsburgh to the Courthouse, especially by means of public transportation. I dislike driving and parking downtown even more. I completely overlooked the little tiny note on the summons that said anybody over 70 would not be required to serve.
Anyway, with thoughts of fines and jail if you ignored the summons, I filled out the form and sent it in. In due time I received my official notice to report for jury duty on Wednesday, October 16, 1991, for which I would be paid $9.50 per day, plus transportation costs.
In Allegheny County you only need to serve one day when you are summoned for jury duty unless you are selected to actually sit on a jury. If you are selected you must stay for the entire length of the trial.
Although I was a little reluctant to be called for jury duty, it was a learning experience for me. First, I discovered that you could get a Mt. Royal Blvd. bus which went into downtown Pittsburgh without going through the North Side--instead it crossed over the Allegheny River and used the East Busway which brought you out at the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station on Grant Street and traveled up Grant Street to within two blocks of the Court House which, of course is on Grant Street. I also found out that the bus running back out Mt. Royal Blvd. came down the street adjacent to the Court House and turned right and went in a reverse direction to the one I came on into town.
I also learned how our justice system operates as far as selecting jurors is concerned. The place where you report is really just a big room with hard chairs arranged in rows as though someone was going to put on a show. The first thing that you did was to check in so that a marshal would not be sent out to your home with a summons. Next a judge came over from her chambers and gave us a short lecture on what a duty and privilege it was to serve your country by sitting on a jury. She also told us about what was expected of us as far as our conduct was concerned as well as what our duties would be if we were selected for a jury. These were all criminal cases. After this the entire group was divided into three or four groups (I don't remember which) of about 25 people each.
Then the waiting began. This really wasn't so bad since there was a small room connected to the main room in which you could get coffee, soft drinks, and snacks. However the rest room was down one floor and was a little bit difficult to find without proper directions. After what seemed to be forever the person to be tried was brought in with his attorney as well as an attorney from the DA's office and they began to interview potential jurors from the first group of candidates--I was in the third group. By the time this first jury had been selected it was noon and we were all told to break for lunch and be back at one o'clock sharp-just as though everything was going to run on clockwork.
So we sat for a while and they brought in another case and selected another jury out of group No. 2. This took about as long as the first one did, but it was finally concluded at about 3:00 P.M. All of us in group No. 3 were getting a little bit anxious about when they would call us. We did not have to worry for they soon had case No. 3 come in we all had our interview. Fortunately I was not selected and at about 4:30 PM we were released and told to stop at the County Treasurer's office and pick up our pay and travel allowance. I collected my big pay and made it out with about five minutes to spare before the last bus came along which took the proper route to get me back home. Home is not the correct word since I had parked my car at Gladys' home and caught the bus at Mt. Hope Street.
As I reflect back over that one day I spent in the Allegheny County Court House waiting to be selected for jury duty, I find that it was not nearly as bad as it seemed at that time. I really did not want to serve, in spite of the fact that it is supposed to be your duty to do so. Consequently, when they were asking all of the questions about my beliefs and whether I had any relatives that were on the police force or were in the judiciary or were lawyers, I mentioned that I was a little hard of hearing. The next question was "Do you think that you could hear if a PA system was installed?" Obviously, my approach was not going to get me off. I mentioned that my daughter was an attorney, but that she lived in Florida. This did not seem to bother them any and I was sent back to my seat to await their decision on my qualifications for becoming a juror. My name was not called, but twelve other people in group 3 were selected.
A year or so later Doris received a similar summons only this time we found the little statement saying that anyone 70 years or older was not required to serve. I understand that anyone, regardless of their age or physical condition must be allowed to serve if they so desire and are really needed. In other words they may not be disqualified for reasons of age or physical handicaps alone. Doris was not required to go into the Court House because of her age--she could have gone if she had so desired.
Enough of my one day of almost jury duty.
Trip to Tacoma, Washington
Now back to a more interesting story. I do not know when this trip happened, but Bob Havener and I traveled to Tacoma, Washington where we were met at the airport by our sales representative of the Idaho area. We wanted to test a small pocket sized receiver in a silver-gold mine in that area. This was at the request of one MSA's good customer and both Bob and I thought it would be an excellent time to try a small receiver similar to the one you now see being used by many people where they can be paged when they are needed. The ones we were going to try were manufactured by a company in Nebraska and were supposed to work in conjunction with a standard MSA MinePhone.
Neither one of us had ever been in this mine before. It was several hundred feet deep with numerous levels and what the mine people desired, was to be able to communicate with miners who were walking around underground, especially management personnel who might be anywhere in the mine. Well, this time Bob decided that he would stay with the MinePhone we had installed in the mine office, and I would have the pleasure of walking all over the place to see if I could hear his transmissions.
That would have been fine except they gave me one of their mine foremen as guide. Of course he was much younger than I and was used to walking all over the mine. He walked fast and there seemed to be no end of passageways and levels that he wanted to visit, and I had no choice but to follow him around and keep listening to Bob's calls. It had been arranged that Bob would send out a call every two minutes, in between his sips of hot coffee and bites of doughnuts.
A Dog Named Velvet
As most of you know, we had a dog named Velvet for many years. What you may not know is the history of how she came to live with us. Here is the story:
Doris and I first saw Velvet at Thanksgiving time in the year of 1977 while we were visiting Jeanne and Bill Wightman at their home near Louisville, Kentucky. Velvet was living next door at that time and was really just a puppy about six months old, hence our assumption that she was born on or about May 30, 1977. We do not know the exact date.
Jeanne saw her out in their neighbor's back yard and brought her in for us to see. She was a beautiful little puppy almost entirely a shiny black color except for a white bib, a white star on her forehead, and a left hind foot that was also a little bit white. She was a mixed breed but a very nice dog, anyway.
Since we had spent Thanksgiving with Bill and Jeanne they were spending Christmas with us. The next time we saw Velvet was the afternoon that Bill and Jeanne arrived from Kentucky the day before Christmas, 1977. We noticed that Jeanne was carrying something up to our back door. This something turned out to be a little black dog named Velvet--the same puppy we had seen in Kentucky when we were there.
The people that owned Velvet in Kentucky had backed their car over Velvet and fractured her pelvis and were not planning to take care of her properly, if at all. So Jeanne and Bill decided to rescue the dog and, since they were leaving for Glenshaw the next day, they brought her along after a visit to the Veterinary Hospital in Louisville.
We had no prior knowledge they were bringing an extra dog with them since they also had Buttons at that time. We also did not know we would end up keeping Velvet. In fact, we tried to find a home for her elsewhere but were unable to find a satisfactory place. Thus we acquired our little Dog Velvet.
Unless you have actually lived with a good dog in your home, you will not understand that they really become a member of your household just as a person would. You become attached to a dog and a very special kind of love develops between you and your pet that lasts long after they depart this world and go to live in Doggie Heaven.
Velvet soon recovered from her broken pelvis and the recovery was complete except that her rear legs would sort of freeze up on her if she remained out of doors too long when the temperature was below about 150F.
As Velvet grew older we noticed that her hearing was not as good as it should be. This was first noticed when she was about twelve years old. She always would look out the back bedroom window when we pulled the car out of the garage and backed down the driveway, and when we returned she would immediately jump up and greet us at the same window. We also noticed she no longer barked at the mailman when he left the mail in our mail box. I developed a sort of hand signals to indicate the commands for Velvet. Her hearing loss was not complete and we got along just fine if I talked a little louder and used the hand signals.
One thing we soon discovered was her love of walking with us around Delaware Drive which we call walking around the "circle"--about 1/2 mile. One strange thing about her behavior on these walks we were never able to explain; when either Doris or I would start to walk Velvet, she would only go about two or three houses and stop. Nothing would persuade her to continue unless both of us went with her. It seemed as though she wanted both of us get some exercise.
When we were on trips of more than part of one day we tried putting our dog in a kennel. Needless-to-say she did not like the kennels. However, we found a much better solution to the problem; we would have Doris' sister Gladys move into our home and take care of Velvet for us. Gladys enjoyed being away from her home for a few days and did not mind caring for our dog. She still misses Velvet. Gladys felt safe at our home with Velvet to keep her company and to protect her.
Early in January 1992 we noticed that Velvet was going down hill health-wise. One day when we came home from a shopping trip we found her sleeping on the rocking chair in the dining room--one of her favorite sleeping places. Since she had not been out for a while I motioned to her to jump down and come with me to the door. I got no response--she just laid there and looked at me. I went to the chair and gave her a little nudge and when she jumped to the floor she collapsed and staggered when she attempted to get up. She also began to walk in circles which is a bad sign. The Doctor could find no sure reason for her peculiar behavior, but we suspected she may have had a stroke.
She later had a seizure and from then on it was all down hill for our sweet little Velvet. On March 11, 1992 surgery was performed on her and the Doctor found a very much enlarged liver and cancer. That day we had to let our beloved Velvet go--but she is not forgotten and never will be.
We had her cremated and we have her earthly remains in a small urn on shelf built especially for her in the room where she had her bed. It is so nice to have a pet dog but it is ever so difficult to part with them--we know, because we had to do it. That is the main reason why we have not, and probably will not have another dog.
That is the story of our dog Velvet and I do hope that I have not bored you too much with it, but we now enjoy petting our neighbor's dogs as well as many of the dogs we meet while walking around the "circle". Needless to say these two pages have been the most difficult to write of any of the pages of my memoirs. I think that you understand why.
Recollecting Purdue University
While I was attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana I took a course known as English 31. One of the requirements of this course was to write themes. Perhaps you may be interested in how I wrote way back in 1935 so here is a theme on which I received an A+ grade.
I was sick. I was sick at the thought of the insolence of my radio transmitter, sick of its refusal to follow the dictates of my hand. Yes, I was thoroughly disgusted with the transmitter, and not only with it, but with the world in general. I was in a rut--one of those ruts into which one slips so easily when perversity is followed as a religion.
Constructed by the will and might of my hands, this diabolical machine was denying me, its creator, its just subordination and would not respond to the strongest efforts to alter its determined course. It was an emotionless, bloodless creation of metal and wood, standing in the corner of the room, calmly refusing to obey my incessant demands. I fancied that ghoul-like laughter issued from the depths of the infernal machine as I labored tirelessly to correct the evil of past mistakes.
I turned slowly from the shadowy box in which it was housed--my hand fell silently upon a heavy wrench--my fingers closed around the makeshift weapon and my muscles tensed. Uttering an oath, I turned with arm uplifted to give the death-dealing blow. It never fell. I gently lowered the weapon to the sill and set about the task of checking the circuits for any flaw that might possibly be the root of the erratic behavior. To check the circuits of the cables leading to the operating table and, since these wires carried considerable voltage, proper precautions should have been taken.
Nevertheless, I began the rechecking, disregarding even the slightest precautions of safety. My grace was not destined to be long lived, for I had scarcely grasped the wires when a terrific numbing kick in each arm and shoulder sent me reeling backwards across the room to land in a cursing heap after knocking three tubes from the table in a futile attempt to regain my equilibrium.
I was dumbfounded momentarily, then I crawled unsteadily to my feet, somewhat baffled and dazed. Steadying myself by means of the table, I threw the main switch and sank into a chair in meditative contemplation and semi-oblivion.
On the morrow I had to leave for school--back to that heart breaking exasperating task of continual and overburdening study--back to the grind that seems to know no end. The thought burned deep into my mind and seared its way into my innermost soul. I was no longer master of my soul and I realized that a will, far more powerful than that of any human, was grasping me-whisking me into the farthest reaches of space and time. I could feel my grip on earthly things gradually weakening--I seemed to be floating in space and time traveling with an inconceivable velocity through an entity of space and time towards a destination unknown to any being, existent or nonexistent.
Suddenly, without warning, everything seemed to change. I was looking upon a vast never-ending expanse of time and matter. I could see the reason for all things here--I could see the futility of human love and ambition. The infinitesimal part played by humanity on the stage of the existent universe was graphically set forth in contrast to the enormity of the endless expanse.
I offered myself as an oblation to the Supreme and sank into a state of benumbed somnolence. ----THE END
The English professor marked in red pencil, "Very Good".
I do not believe that it was really that good and I am sure that what I wrote was not an expression of what I believed then or now. I was simply writing something which I felt would show the Professor that I could compose a short story using words not usually found in amateur writing and put them together with some semblance of meaning and unity. In other words I was writing strictly to impress the professor with my writing skills rather than trying to extol a belief or a virtue.
Here is another of my 1935 themes:
"An operation, eh?" I said, looking the Doctor squarely in the face.
"I'm afraid so," he replied with an evil glint in his eye, "You seem to have a bad case of appendicitis."
The next morning the orderly wheeled me into the operating room and strapped my hands, feet and neck to the operating table. A pretty fix to be in, I thought, what if the doctor should decide that I might be an interesting patient to observe during an operation without an anesthetic--or if he thought I might prove to be a good subject upon whom to try some new, unproved form of surgery? I shuddered at the sound of the instruments as they were removed from the sterilizer by the nurse, and cold chills crawled up and down my spine as I realized my utter dependence upon the mercy of the surgeon. God preserve me if he should suddenly become insane and decide to amputate my right leg.
"Good luck, Doc," I mumbled somewhat hopelessly as they placed the mask over my face. I attempted to breathe and was assailed with a violent fit of coughing--then breathing became easier--the warm, sweetish odor seemed to permeate my very soul. My head began to whirl and cessation's of light and darkness that tapered into infinity flashed before my eyes. Spirals of vivid light twisted with ever-increasing speed and I became aware of a dim but distinct beating of drums in the distance--it was louder and faster now--it was beating in my very ears--I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth. Then it stopped. The nerve-breaking thumping receded into the dimness of the past and I realized that I was now back in my room. I opened my eyes, expecting to see some nurse standing nearby, but all was darkness. The murk was so absolute that I received not the slightest sensation of light when my eyes were fully open. I raised my hand to push back the cover that was so completely obstructing my vision; but about six inches above my head my movements met with resistance, and upon exploring further to the right and left, I discovered that I was completely surrounded by some sort of an enclosure. I tapped the arching roof with my knuckles. It sounded as though it was about an inch thick and, judging from the dust I stirred up, it was very old.
Then as quick as lightning flash it dawned on me. The one thought I was afraid to think--I had been buried alive! This infernal thing was my coffin: the choking dust that I had stirred up with my movements was the decayed remnants of the lining of my coffin. The Lord only knew how long I had been buried--not a very pleasant thought, to say the least.
The rapidity with which one can think during moments such as these is astonishing. Not more than a few seconds could have elapsed from the time that I realized the full seriousness of the situation until I was nearly a raving mad-man, yet during that short time memories of many of my most pleasant hours of joy were vividly recalled.
I tried to lift the cover. I pushed with my hands--I pushed with my knees, but in vain; I could not budge the lid. I grew mad--I screamed and cursed: I kicked and scratched at the sides of my tomb. The fear of the agony of the slow, excruciating suffocation in that accursed casket cannot be even imagined by anyone who has not been through such an ordeal. The foul dust laden atmosphere burned deep into my exhausted lungs with each breath and thousands of red hot needles pierced my throat as I gasped for air.
I ceased my raving and useless kicking, for I had to conserve my energy if I were to break open my tomb. I turned on my side, exhaled as much as possible of the foul air, and wedged my shoulders between the top and the bottom of the coffin. Inhaling as much as I could, I pushed upward with my shoulders, expending my last reserve of energy. I felt the top give--I pushed even harder with renewed strength created by the slight movement, and a narrow ribbon of light appeared along one edge. I put one hand under the lid and, as a cool breath of fresh air smote my parched face, I sank into a faint of complete exhaustion.
Rousing myself sometime later, I pushed the cover back on its rusty hinges and sat upright in the coffin, inhaling the intoxicating sweet air of the outside. I surveyed my surroundings in the twilight of the room and perceived my coffin was situated on slightly raised dais in the center of the room, directly beneath a circular opening in the roof. Through this opening I could see the blue sky. The narrow streak of sunlight that entered through it shown on the farthest wall. The beam would pass over the exact center of the dais at high noon, and I fancied it held some religious significance, for the tomb really bore more resemblance to a sacred temple than to a vault.
The walls were made of large blocks of stone that appeared to be the darkest black in the poor light, and as far as I could discern at that time, they were fastened together without the aid of mortar. The roof and walls were both slightly arched and tapered gradually to the round hole at the top. The whole inside of the building was constructed perfectly symmetrical to a point in the center of the room, and even the great stone door was effectively concealed in the architecture in order that it might not disturb the symmetry.
Putting my legs over the edge of the coffin, I slid easily to the floor, stumbled down the short flight of stone steps, and walked somewhat shakily towards what appeared to be a massive door. Surprised as I was to find that I could walk in my weakened condition, I was even more surprised to see the door swing inward and find myself standing before a blonde giant. He entered the room, smiling graciously, and examined me carefully--as though I were some new specimen in a museum. Then giving vent to his amusement in long peals of laughter, he handed me a robe. I did not enjoy his hilarity, I told him so. The result was more laughter--it was unbearable, but what could I do since physical violence was out of the question in my weakened condition. I just stood there, wrapped in the long white robe he had given me, and watched him. Damn him anyway! Would he never stop that infernal laughing.
I must have presented a sorry sight to him. I was covered with sweat and dust from my struggles in the coffin and my beard was fully grown. After he calmed down a bit he spoke.
"Follow me," he said in strange sounding English, "And, after you have bathed, I will present you to the Keeper of the Tomb." His words seemed to be spoken with great difficulty, and bore a distinct and strange accent which I could not place. Without further ado, he turned and walked from my tomb.
Eager to learn more of the details surrounding the mystery of myself and this unusual place, I followed him as best I could in my weakened condition.
"Would you be so kind as to explain where I am, how I got here, and why I am here?" I asked, hoping he might clear some of the more perplexing problems which were running through my mind,
He looked at me and smiled again. "All will be explained," he replied, "When the Keeper sees fit, and until that time, it is written that I shall not have that honor." With this he quit talking, and all of my entreaties resulted in nothing more than a broad smile.
Failing completely in this endeavor, I began to survey my surroundings. The tomb was a squat, dome-shaped building made entirely the black stone and reminded me of a large dark chocolate drop. On all sides stretched an apparently never-ending desert. The sands of which reflected the light of the sinking sun as a great shimmering sheet of fire and the heat in all of its fury still lingered. We walked slowly along a narrow walk that connected the tomb with another building that was an exact duplicate of the first, the only difference being the latter was completely covered with marvelous carvings of handsome men and beautiful women.
I was glad for the slight pause at the entrance to the building while my blonde guide hesitated momentarily before opening the door. The sun had been mercilessly hot even though low in the sky, and I was indeed thankful for the thin robe that I had thrown over my shoulders to protect me from it.
Soon he had the door open and we entered the building. After proceeding but a short way down the richly decorated hall, he turned into a side entrance and after informing me it was my bath, he left.
In the center of the room was a sparkling pool of bluish white water from which arose an enticing aroma of virgin pine forests. The waters seemed to exude an omnipotent power of attraction, and soon I was drawn into their caressing embrace. The room itself was of some sort of tile or stone of a very light blue color with occasional darker blue blocks--there were round pillars of pastel shades of the most beautiful colors imaginable. Never in all of my life had I ever experienced such an invigorating repose in a bath--the water caused my skin to tingle with the joy of living. My mind was washed free of all mist and haze and I became once more mentally alert, and I decided I would never move from this water--or whatever it was. My vitality was soon completely restored but I was soon brought back to reality by the fact that my guide would soon be returning, and I would be obliged to leave.
With great reluctance I emerged from the bath and walking to one of the many full length mirrors, I surveyed myself from head to toe and, even though I say it myself, I never before looked so well. My hair not only had grown long, but was completely turned to silver and now glistened in the soft light of the room. Likewise my beard--if I ever get out of this place, I vowed to raise a full beard. The color had returned to my faded skin and I actually felt younger than I had for many years.
While I was marveling at the wonderful transformation that had taken place in myself, my guide returned and we left for our visit with the Keeper of the Tomb, whose office was apparently in the same building since we walked only a short distance down the same hall and entered another door similar to the one leading to the bath.
Not knowing what to expect, I was not surprised to find the Keeper was a smaller man than my guide and that he appeared to be much older. He motioned me toward the large table behind which he was sitting.
"Sit down," he started, pointing toward a chair near the end of the table, "And I will unfold to you a story such as no mortal has ever before heard." He smiled as one does when preparing to tell a lie to someone whom you know will not believe you. I waited for his next statement. "You are the oldest living human being ever to exist on this Earth. You were born, according to the ancient manuscripts of The Antiquities Museum, in the year 1902 A.D. and, following the calendar of your time, the year is now 3978 A.D." He paused to allow the full import of his words to dawn on me. Surely this must be a nightmare or he is lying to me; I had expected a tall story, but this was beyond the limit of comprehension--it was outrageous--it was preposterous--he must be mad to think I would believe such a tale. I told him so.
He merely laughed, "I am sorry that you are unable to comprehend, but what else could have been expected from a man of your culture and learning." Now he was insulting me. He continued, "It matters little anyway, for tonight you will again return to your tomb to sleep--this time, for a much longer time." I was stunned--I could think of no adequate response to his last threat, for that is what it amounted to.
"By what right are you able sentence me to the tomb forever?" I asked when I had regained a portion of my composure.
"From your reactions to certain facts that have been presented to you, we have decided you are unfit to rule the world."
"Rule the world?" I shouted, standing up, "What makes you think I want to rule the world?" I reiterated, "What right have you to send me back to that prison of sleep?"
"Since your entrance into the Sleep your modest trust fund has increased until you now own practically all of the land on Earth and have large holdings on Mars and Venus." (Editors note: This was written before we knew both Mars and Venus were uninhabitable.) The Keeper continued, "Shortly after you began your sleep--not more than a few hundred years at most--a trustee was appointed for your estate. None of the other ten sleepers left a trust fund and they have all passed on many years ago. You are the only surviving Sleeper. The process was outlawed after you were treated with the sleep producing drug. I hope you understand."
He went on, "Since the rulers of Earth are now determined solely by their wealth, the present trustee, The Master, is now the ruler of the Earth and most of Mars. I have received explicit orders from The Master concerning your disposal under these circumstances and, since your awakening has been kept secret from the masses, none will know of your short visit in this era. You will continue your sleep into the ages as you have slept in the past, and may The Master rule the longer because of your slumbers. Take him away!"
Before I could raise my voice in protest, I was grasped from behind and dragged away, kicking and cursing. I gave vent to the strongest words of condemnation that my twentieth century vocabulary would allow, but to no avail. I was doomed to an eternal slumber in the dim region between life and death. ----THE END.
The Professor wrote the following comments at the end of the above theme:
"You have quite a hankering for the fantastic. I daresay you are familiar with Poe's story about being buried alive? This conclusion, like some of your others, is flat, I think."
Well Professor Fatout, (That was his name), after sixty years, I have decided I am going to change the ending. So here goes the new ending, as I see it now:
As I was being dragged back toward the Tomb, I felt a prick on the back of my arm, and turning I could see a large hypodermic needle being pushed into my upper arm. I screamed, I struggled, I cursed, I kicked, but nothing I did prevented that injection. I knew what it was--the sleep producing drug, and I soon began to feel its effect. My struggles stopped and I drifted off-floating on a pillow of air. I had no worries--no problems--no pains--nothing, just floating around in space. All of the world's problems had been solved.
Suddenly I felt the floating stop and it seemed as though I had settled down in some sort of a bed--undoubtedly my coffin again. Maybe they gave the wrong drug and I would now suffocate from lack of air? However I was having no trouble breathing so raised my hand to check for a lid but could find none.
" Where am I now?" I asked myself
"I believe he is coming out of it now, Doctor," I heard a female voice say. "He should be opening his eyes soon, for he has been mumbling some unintelligible words about a master and a tomb of some sort."
"Probably a dream he was having," said a male voice which I seemed to remotely remember. I opened my eyes to behold a lovely blonde lady dressed in white and a man whom I soon realized was my surgeon. "He will be himself in a short while," the Doctor continued, "Young men recover from an appendectomy pretty quick."
I decided to speak, "What year is this?" I asked.
How is that for a better ending? Incidentally, I received an A for this theme. I hope that you enjoyed it for I enjoyed bringing it to you. I have one more short one for you and then I promise, no more old themes. unless I change my mind.
The early morning sky was overcast. The rows of smudged brick chimneys and dilapidated frame dwellings that served as a western horizon for the multitudes who worked and played in this dingy town almost hid the moon which showed only as brighter spot in the murky bleakness that was the sky for Ironville and its inhabitants. All semblance of paint had long since faded and peeled from the company houses, and because of the ensuing depression, the buildings had never been repainted.
The homes were badly in need of repair; yet there was no reason for painting or repairing--the dirty smudge had covered the buildings for so long, the people did not realize any necessity for paint and fixing. The houses looked as they had looked for so many years that many of the younger people did not remember the original color of their homes. One old resident by the name of Samuels claimed the houses were once white and that he had helped paint those on the south side of Main Street west of the Company Store. Nobody cared whether the dwellings were white or black, for the people of Ironville lived a simple life and were completely satisfied with their lot. They had no appreciation of the esthetic or the refined and, as long as their homes protected them from the rigors of the cold winters, they were content.
There were altogether seventy-nine houses in Ironville besides the School, the Church, and the Company Store. Of these houses, seventy-eight were essentially duplicates of each other. The other one had been considerably remodeled when the new foreman came to replace Old Jim who was killed when No. 2 boiler blew up.
Jim had liked old No. 2. He always made sure whoever was working that boiler, kept it clean and polished the brass nameplate with the No. 2 on it. Every morning when he came into the power house, he would stand for a moment with his hands behind his back, praying silently.
"Well old girl," he would say, "You and I came here together, maybe we can go out together." No one thought he was serious about his wishes.
Old Jim was a likable character. His thick whiskers, bristling in every direction from his chin, his heavy eyebrows, and his round red nose served only to accentuate the kindness in his blue eyes. He was the idol of the children of the town because of his never-ending stories about lands where the sky was blue and the sun was bright. He would sit by the hour on his porch step with the boys and girls gathered around him, and relate tales of adventure in other lands where trees and flowers grew and where animals and birds of all kinds were in abundance.
Jim was a God-fearing man. He had not missed a Sunday service at the Church for over twenty years and it was said that he had not missed more than two Wednesday evening prayer meetings in that time. However, he was not a religious fanatic and based his belief on doing the right thing at the right time, and in living by the Golden Rule.
He had no enemies in the town and was always greeted with a smile and, "Good morning Jim, and how are you today?" by the older folks, and with, "Tell us a story, please, Mr. Jim," by the children. It was always, "Mr. Jim", for the little ones knew him by no other name--to them he had no second name.
Notwithstanding his popularity with the people of Ironville and the enjoyment he seemed to get from the children, a slight tinge of sadness could always be seen in his eyes. It had been there when he came to Ironville--some thirty-one years ago, yet no one had ever known the cause of his buried sorrow. He never showed any sorrow in his stories or in his actions, but one could see a lurking sadness and longing behind those big eyebrows. It was as though he was waiting for something to happen that would release him from his hidden thoughts and bring to him the long awaited happiness.
Jim lived alone in the third house from the west end of Main Street, right across from the school. He always showed interest in the children going to and from school and would often carry Mrs. Jackson's twin boys home--one on each shoulder. Old Jim was the happiest when he was with the children, for at that time the sorrow would retreat and almost disappear from his eyes. He would laugh and joke in their company, but the sadness always returned in his moments of loneliness and reverie.
The longing sorrow in his eyes was more pronounced when he first came to town, but it had faded through the years until at times it could scarcely be seen. The older citizens, however, knew it was still there although they were never able to learn its cause.
The cause of his sorrow was the one thing he reserved for himself--the one thing he kept locked in his heart. When questioned about it, Jim would reply, "It's nothing--it's just the way I look." And that was it.
Then it happened; no one knew why or how, but it did happen. The boiler No.2 just happened to explode as Jim went into the power house to check with the engineer in charge. The engineer was not injured, but Old Jim was killed--he had gone to be with his wife and unborn child. ---- THE END
Apparently another student graded this theme first. His comments: A good "sob" story.
The professor wrote the following about the above theme: "The conclusion is abrupt. The detail about Jim is not so well done as the introductory description of the town. On the whole, however, an effective story, though leaning, as your other critic says, to the sob side. Anyhow it has direction, and I do know what you mean this time."
He gave an A- for this one.
Remember a couple of pages back I said I would not bore you with any more themes, unless I changed my mind. Well, I changed my mind. You remember the one about my stubborn transmitter? I have had my amateur radio operator's license as well as the station license since June of 1933. I took the test with my Uncle Charles Taylor in Fort Wayne, Indiana and passed both the code and the theory part of the test the first time--the only part of the code test that I was able to copy was the very end, I can still remember what that last sentence was; "This marks the end of the amateur radio code examination." To pass the test it was necessary to copy fifty consecutive characters correctly at the speed of fifty characters per minute. The above sentence does not contain fifty characters, so I must have had a few just before that or a very generous examiner.
We both received our licenses a few weeks later; they were second class, and restricted you from using phone frequencies that were for first class licensees only. The particular Star Route Uncle Charles had was from Attica, Indiana to Danville, Illinois. Attica is just a few miles southwest of West Lafayette, Indiana where I was enrolled at Purdue University. One day he wrote me a letter suggesting we study the theory for our first class operator's license and he volunteered to take me to Chicago some Saturday to take the test.
Well, we did and we both earned our first class tickets, as the amateurs like to call them. The Federal Communications Commission has now changed the names of the licenses and my first class became known as an advanced license. You also must be able to receive code at a speed of thirteen words per minute instead of just ten.
Now back to the theme--this one is one of my very early themes and was written in class on December 9, 1933. I was in my first semester at that time, and, as you would expect, it is about taking the Amateur Radio Examination, with a few embellishments.
I'll Remember the Amateur Radio Examination
Any person who wishes to operate an amateur radio transmitting station must be a licensed operator. He must be able to pass the government examination on radio theory and law; he must be able to send and receive at least ten words per minute in the international Morse code, and he must also have an accurate knowledge of the various abbreviations and signs used in amateur radio communication. When one feels he is sufficiently prepared to take the examination, he must file his application with Radio Inspector of his district. If the application is accepted, the aspiring young amateur will be informed when the next examination is to be given. If you fail to pass the exam, you must wait for three months before you may take it again.
Consequently, when I received the letter from the Radio Inspector of the Ninth Naval District, I made sure I would do my best during the exam. I rounded up every amateur in the neighborhood and asked them about the details of what happened. I went to a few friends and asked about the apparent speed of the code we had to receive.
The night before the big exam I sat up rather late practicing the code with my uncle who was going to take the test with me. I experienced no difficulty in receiving far above the required speed, and I was confident I would easily pass the code test.
The next morning we strode into the large room where the exam was to be held. We took our places where we thought we would have the greatest advantages and prepared ourselves for the worst. It wasn't long until the "R.I." came in with the code machine under his arm and passed out the test papers. I started to write the answers for the questions with glee in my heart, for they were not very difficult.
I had finished hardly more than three of them when the "R.I." said, "Now we will have the code test," He turned toward the table upon which stood the code machine and adjusted a few controls. He turned again and faced us, eyeing us with a look of glee and deceit. He pressed a little switch--there was a short pause and the silence was so intense a pin could be heard if it had fallen to the floor. Then came the code. It seemed as though it were going at the rate of thirty words per minute--I missed a character--then came some numbers--what was that last character? Why had I come, anyway? A train rattled by outside an open window--someone coughed--the code test was over.
Now I realize why all amateurs term the code machine, "The Infernal Machine." ---- THE END.
More About Amateur Radio
There were no comments for this theme so I will make some of my own. I do believe that my ending was abrupt, just as a later professor kept telling me. It must have been that when I got close to the end, I just couldn't wait to get there, so just stopped writing. Oh well, it is long gone now, so what is the difference? Maybe I was wise in not attempting to be an author.
The numbers referred to in the code test were actually the longitude and latitude of a ship at sea--something an amateur actually might someday hear on the air--along with an SOS call. Both Uncle Charles and I did pass the test, as mentioned above.
I still have the original first operator's license which I received as a result of passing this test. For some reason, I cannot find any reference to the class of the license. I also have the original of my first station license with the call letters W9NNI.
When I moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which was in the Eighth Naval District, I received the call W8RZH. A few years later they changed it to the Third Naval District and it was changed to W3RZH which is still my call sign. The districts are now called call areas. Although I am not active on the amateur airways, I still plan to renew my license before it expires at on December 31, 1995. The last time it was for a period of ten Years. Incidentally, back when I first got the license, it was The Federal Radio Commission, not The Federal Communications Commission.
I am including a couple of poems which I found in the newspaper. The first is a poem recited by Clark Clifford at the memorial service for W. Averell Harriman and, although some may deem it sad, I believe it is a very nice little poem to help people through a very difficult time.
TO THOSE I LOVE
By Isla Paschal Richardson
If I should ever leave you whom I love
To go along the silent way, grieve not.
Nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk
Of me as if I were beside you there.
(I'd come--I'd come, could I but find a way!
But would not tears and grief be barriers?)
And when you hear a song or see a bird
I loved, please do not let the thought of me
Be sad ... For I am loving you just as I always have...
You were so good to me!
There were so many things I wanted still
To do--so many things to say to you...
Remember that I did not fear ... It was
Just leaving you that was so hard to face...
We cannot see Beyond...
But this I know:
I loved you so--'twas heaven
here with you!
Here is another one which comes from the newspaper--the author of this poem is not known.
One or the other must leave,
One or the other must stay.
One or the other must grieve,
That is forever the way...
That is the vow that was sworn,
Faithful 'til death do us part.
Braving what had to be borne,
Hiding the ache in the heart.
One, however adored,
First must be summoned away.
That is the will of the Lord.
One or the other must stay.
That is enough of that type of poetry, but one must admit that as one grows older, your thoughts seem to wander more and more into the realm of how long will it be before the inevitable occurs. We cannot last forever, as we all know, and I am glad we do not know when.
I was planning at one time to include a lot of material
about the first ship I was on in the Navy, but I concluded that it would be
pretty boring to most of you. Also, I was afraid I might be violating the
copyright laws if I used the published material. Other than the fact that the
illustration showing where the USS Quincy was hit by Japanese shells and
torpedoes indicates that both the place where I bunked (slept) as well as where
I would have been at general quarters sustained direct hits. You know where that
would have left me.
Today is February 26, 1995, and I have been typing this document for well over a year-actually about fourteen months. I now firmly believe I have bored most of the people who will read this memoir enough and that I should conclude it before you throw it down wondering if I was ever going to bring it to an end.
Actually, a story such as I have been writing has no end--there are so many things that should be said and have not been said, and there are some things that should not and never will be said. You could easily keep on writing about the many unimportant and sometimes uninteresting occurrences that make up our lives, creating a long never-ending story which would be of no value to anyone. Every day I recall something or somebody to write about, but worry not, I am going to end this right now.
THANK YOU ALL FOR STAYING WITH ME THIS FAR,
AND GOD BLESS YOU.
April 08,1997 1:44 PM
I just ran across, two interesting clippings. The first by Sam Levenson and was published by Ann Landers. It is another set of ten commandments.
LEVENSON'S TEN COMMANDMENTS
1. Thou shalt guard thy children in the home and on the street.
2. Thou shalt make thy home a sanctuary of love and devotion.
3. Thou shalt honor the teachers of thy children and teach thy children to honor them.
4. Thou shalt not condone the faults of thy children through a misguided sense of loyalty.
5. Thou shalt teach thy children respect for the law and keep them from the companionship of children who indicate disrespect for law.
6. Thou shalt not lead thy children into temptation by providing them with the means thereof, to wit, too much money, a car and adult privileges.
7. Thou shalt enforce decency in the dress of thy daughters and dignity in the dress of thy sons.
8. Thou shalt protect the morals of thy children from the indiscretions of youthful ardor and inexperience.
9. Thou shalt conduct thine own affairs in such a manner as to set an example worthy of imitation by thy children.
10. Thou shalt not permit thy children to bear arms, except in the service of their country.
Here are some suggestions for living, especially for children.
GOLDEN RULES FOR LIVING
1. If you open it, close it.
2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
3. If you unlock it, lock it up.
4. If you break it, admit it.
5. If you can't fix it, call in someone who can.
6. If you borrow it, return it.
7. If you value it, take care of it.
8. If you make a mess, clean it up.
9. If you move it, put it back.
10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
11. If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.
12. If it's none of you business, don't ask questions.
THAT'S ALL FOR NOW
John E. Werner
101 Delaware Drive
Glenshaw, PA 15116-1713
June 18, 1995