Formatting and photos under development
WILLIAM ALBRIGHT HARRELL
1930 TABLE OF CONTENTS
3. My Childhood
5. Early Manhood
7. Advanced Education
a. General Electric
b. Du Pont
(3) Old Hickory 1
(4) Seaford, DE
(5) Old Hickory 2
- Life is short! One only realizes that when the bloom of youth is gone, middle age has flown over the horizon. And the approaching end becomes reality rather than just some vague, distant future. When that time comes one thinks about how short and finite life really is and begin to think about how to preserve the memories generated by that life.
- Most autobiographies are written by the rich and famous, or at least those who have contributed great things to our world. Their memories embody important events from a high level perspective. Then there are others whose contributions have not been earth shaking, but whose memories would have interest at least to the author's ancestors. If something of that life is not preserved in writing the life is forgotten within one or two generations. The only memory is the name carved on a tombstone somewhere.
- This personal story, then, is written to tell my future family of the events and times in history that I lived. The times were probably the most exciting, volatile, and filled with more changes than, probably, any period in the world's history.
- This, then, is my life!
- When my ancestors came to America from Europe is unknown. We believe they came from Scotland or Ireland at least on my father's side of the family. Through the genealogical studies of my Aunt Agnes Brannock in her later years we learned with some authentication that my mother's family originated in Germany. My mother's maiden name was Albright... the origination of my middle name. This name is the Americanization of the German name, Albrecht.
- Immigration by my father's ancestors must have been at least in the late 18th century and perhaps even before the American Revolutionary War. Recent genealogy studies by Charles T. Harrell identified Jesse W. Harrell (1796 1860), Javan Harrell (1846 1924), Charles Edward Harrell (1868 1960, my grandfather), and my father Alfred Franklin Harrell (1894 1942) as my direct ancestors. My father was born in the country near the small town of Driver, Virginia. Driver remains a very small town near Suffolk. His father, and my grandfather, Charles, owned a farmhouse not far from the broad Nansemond River which empties very soon into Chesapeake Bay and Norfolk harbor. Grandfather Charles earned his living as a house painter and fisherman. The Nansemond was rich with fish, and he was able to maintain a reasonably good standard of living.
- My earliest memories of Grandfather Charles (called Captain Charlie) are of a slight man with a bushy, graying mustache. In those days all men, when dressed up, wore a fedora hat, white shirt, necktie, and vest. His accent was typical for the Eastern Virginia region. The 'ou' in words like 'mouse' and 'house' was rather clipped with the broad vowel sound of other regions. We used to say 'There is a mouse in the house, get him out' to emphasize the unique accent of that region. It still exists in that area today even though the effects of television have done much to homogenize the peoples of the various regions of the country.
- Captain Charlie was a good fisherman. My fondest memories of visits to Driver, Virginia are of the fishing trips we took down on the Nansemond. River. The river was actually an estuary since it was so close to Chesapeake Bay. There was little flow, and the river was quite wide. In those days fishing was good. Croakers, trout, and spot were the predominant species. Granddad had a rowboat which he handled with great skill. Outboard motors came later, but Granddad had one later on in his life. It was a very unreliable Johnson engine. I expect his long life can be attributed to hard work in his rowboat. He was a hardworking but simple man. He earned his living from fishing and house painting. He had a strong faith in God and passed on these attributes to his son, my father, Alfred.
- Dad left home at his maturity on a motorcycle. In his travels around Eastern and Central North Carolina he met my mother, Inez. Mother was from Graham, NC, a small textile town near Burlington. When the textile mills from New England moved south in the late 1800's, Burlington was one of their early choices. The major textile manufacturer, Burlington Industries, originated there.
- Less is known about my mother's ancestors. The family name was Albright. This name is an American derivative of the German name Albrecht, so we believe Germany was the origin. My great Aunt Agnes was interested in genealogy and she tells the story that the Albrecht line were aristocrats who owned castles in Germany. It sounds romantic, but is not verified. Anyway, my mother was Inez Gladys Albright. She was born in Graham, North Carolina in 1891. Her parents were both dead before I came along, so I have no knowledge of them. Mother's sisters were Agnes and Conley and they were raised by Uncle Jim and Aunt Sadie. They all lived long, uneventful lives, all dieing in their eighties and nineties. Uncle Jim was a very merry old man for the few childhood years when I knew him. He never failed to present each of us children with a small stick of Dentine chewing gum whenever we passed though Graham on our many automobile trips. In the nineteen thirties, depression years, even such a small thing as a stick of gum stands out with great clarity in my mind.
- I was born at home at 800 Rose Street, Rocky Mount, NC. The house was built by Dad and Mother, having moved from George Street. George Street was too close to the railroad tracks near the old passenger station. The noise and smoke from the steam engines was just too much. The new house on Rose Street was about a mile from down town where the trains could be heard only on a quiet summer night when the windows were open. In summer they were always open because there was no air conditioning. Window screens kept out most of the mosquitoes, but not all. The sound of the far off train was quite pleasant the rumble of the trains from Richmond would build as they slowed when approaching the city. The steam train whistle was a unique sound which is gone forever a lonely moaning, but musical sound. We children slept in upstairs bedrooms. Alfred, Jr. and I in one room, and Julia in another. Al and I were on the side facing town, and on a hot summer night the windows were always open. There was little insulation either, so those upstairs rooms were like an oven in summer. I can remember many nights when I would sleep in only drawers. The sheets were warm to the touch, and there was no way to get cool except to sweat enough to wet the sheets. Evaporation would then provide enough cooling that one could fall asleep. We could set our watches by the incoming New York to Florida passenger train's arrival about ten each night.
- My first conscious memory was of a neighborhood birthday party celebrated in our backyard on my fifth birthday. Life was good, and I picture it today with a warmth which reflects the love which we children received in our carefree world. Although we were in the midst of a depression, Dad's business supplied us well with our daily needs. Perhaps there were financial problems but we were shielded from them. However, nothing was wasted in our household. Often evening meals were simple, such as spaghetti in tomato sauce, no meat. In those hard times our desert on week days would be Karo syrup poured on the plate with butter stirred in and sopped with bread.
- Dad was medium height, clean shaven, wore rimless glasses, developing a paunch in his middle forties, reasonably strict but fair with us children. He knew right from wrong, and assured us that we also knew the difference. He was a Deacon in First Presbyterian Church, and practiced his religion with the family. He insured that we children attended Sunday School and Church regularly. Grace at meal time was a regular ritual from my earliest days. When we children needed discipline he was ready and able to apply it in the form of small switches across the lower legs. His discipline wasn't in the form of shouting and threats; he was certain to carry out the discipline with little delay. And we never forgot. Dad wasn't one to show much open affection to us children, although it was quite common to show it to Mother in our presence.
- Mother, on the other hand, was sweet and gentle until upset by our shenanigans. Then her wrath was as poetic as Dad's. Mother was always the one to praise us for doing well, and she encouraged us to do better. We always felt proud when this happened, and responded by sincerely trying to do better to receive more of this form of her love. In our early childhood she had been thin, but as middle age came on she gained weight, but not excessively. She is best described as a handsome woman. In early life she had protruding teeth. Later she developed gum disease, had all her teeth pulled and got false teeth. This improved her looks greatly, and this is the way I remember her. As she became an old lady her hair turned silver white. She had considerable pride in her appearance and was always well groomed.
- After they married, Dad and Mother moved to several towns in North Carolina but settled in Rocky Mount, 56 miles east of Raleigh. Dad started his own business, a photographic studio, in Rocky Mount about 1917. He specialized in commercial and portrait photography. Since he was the only studio in town, he was successful from the beginning. The studio was located over the McClellans five and dime store, and next to Belks department store; and, on the other side was the Carolina Theater. In those days the 'film' used in his studio was glass plates. I can remember finding a tall stack of them from his business in one of the closets. He did beautiful work. Later, when celluloid film was developed by Eastman Kodak Co., he converted to this new fangled stuff. His commercial work was done with an 8x10 view camera. The large negatives were printed with photographic paper in direct contact with the film which produced much clearer, sharper, prints than the enlargements of today. Of course, there was no such thing as color film, so all was in black and white.
- Dad was an inquisitive man. He studied all things new, and was early in adopting those innovations which proved attractive and economical. About 1940, for example, he experimented with color printing. The process was so complicated that he soon gave it up. Only later were color transparencies and, even later, color prints to become the automatic process we know today, and which we take for granted.
- Dad also liked to travel. It was common to make weekend trips to the Virginia mountains or the Smokies. We visited Driver and Norfolk several times a year, but the most memorable were the ones on the Fourth of July. The trip there which I remember so vividly (because of the movies Dad and Alfred, Jr. made) was the Fourth of 1942, only six weeks before Dad died. As usual we all piled in the cars with Granddad and drove the two miles to the river, piled out on the bank among the piled up oyster shells, and waited for granddad to bring the rowboat from its mooring for us to pile into. Life preservers were unknown in those days. Safety was not given much consideration as it is today. Granddad pulled us out into the middle of the mile wide river and we commenced to fish with heavy lines held in the hands. Fishing poles were unknown... too expensive. And, anyway, we didn't need them because the fish always were biting. The sun was gloriously hot. Dad wore an old safari hard hat with a wide brim. Mom had her straw hat and slacks, the new rage of that year and many years since. We all had a great time, and caught many croakers and spot. Alfred, Jr. and Dad took 8mm home movies, another brand new invention. They were all black and white. Kodachrome was newly available, but relatively expensive. A three minute Kodachrome roll was about three dollars, and affordable by many people. They chose our scenes with care, making sure not to waste that expensive film. They tried to make each outing an interesting story on film rather than spontaneous, extensive videos we take today.
- Another trip Dad and Mother took us on in 1937 was to the Great Smoky Mountains. Of course interstate highways were thirty years into the future, so a 300 mile trip to the Smokies was a long way by the two way roads of that day. However, by today's standards, the traffic was exceedingly light. We took Kodachrome movies during the whole trip. U.S. 441 over Newfound Gap was brand new, and the cut banks glistened with mica. Interestingly, those mountains are the only place where mica is found. It is still there today, but all covered up by undergrowth. For an seven year old boy like me, that was a very exciting trip, and helped instill in me the desire to travel and see the world. I have always had that desire to see what is around the next curve.
- Our weekly treat from Dad was a single stick of Juicy Fruit gum, usually on Sunday afternoons. We children, Julia, and Alfred, Jr., didn't suffer great hardship in those times, but there is still great contrast between those restricted times and the prosperity which our children and grandchildren experience today. The gum gift was usually given out on Sunday afternoons after dinner. It wasn't called lunch then because it always was a full meal. The favorite of all was fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, a green vegetable, and, always, dessert. And, oh, what good food it was. The next favorite was roast beef, new potatoes, and carrots cooked in the deep well cooker in the new electric stove. Nothing ever tasted better.
- But back to the gum. It usually came on the way to the local airport to watch the Piper Cubs take off and land. Dad would pull up the car onto the apron of the grass field which served as a runway. We would park at an angle so all could see equally, even those in the back seat... us kids. Flight was still a novelty and fascinating to us all. The airplanes were simple and small. It was years before I ever saw a real large plane, the old DC 3, nicknamed the gooney bird. It first flew in 1934, was then very new, and has been flying ever since.
- Dad bought me membership in the YMCA, and I was able to play basketball in the gym, and baseball in the lot out front. I was never a star, but knew the game adequately. About 1940 the YMCA held a contest among its children members. I had to keep a running record daily of the contest requirements. Some of these requirements were to make our beds daily, brush our teeth every night, wash dishes for Mom, carry out the garbage, etc. All these things had to be verified by our parents and signed off. During the six months of the contest I achieved a perfect score and was awarded, along with several winners, a free trip to New York City with the Y's manager, Mr. Harper, as the escort. We traveled in two cars, the trip requiring about 12 hours. We stayed in the Sloane House, a main YMCA hotel on 34th Street. As I remember it from a later trip with Alfred Jr. the cost was $1.20 per night. It was clean but spartan. The bath room was large and down the all from our room. There were no bathrooms in any of the rooms. We took in all the tourist sights of the city, and for a 10 year old that was quite a thrill and educational trip. I decided soon afterward that I wanted to live in New York when I grew up. With maturity and wisdom that desire soon died.
- Rocky Mount was a town of 25,000 people more or less. It is divided in half by the main line of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, long since sold to the Southern, and later to Amtrak. It is and was a two track line between New York and Miami. Half of the city was in Edgecombe County, and the other half in Nash County. A major industry was the railroad shops where trains were serviced and engines repaired. Therefore, all trains stopped in Rocky Mount. Other service was provided by Richmond up north, and Fayetteville in the South, but Rocky Mount was the major maintenance area. Therefore, many people worked for the railroad. Other industries included the tobacco market, the largest in the world, and the cotton mill at the rapids of the Tar River, called "The Falls". The city was in the heart of the bright leaf tobacco growing area. Tobacco farming in those days was almost totally done by hand. Until the end of World War II mules were the primary source of power for farming.
- It was a typical southern farming and railroad based town. The city was divided into the white section and black section. Segregation was the tradition, and little mixing of the races existed. Negro labor was maintained artificially cheap, and, thus, even medium income families could afford a Negro maid to care for the children, do the household work, wash the clothes in a washtub, and generally ease the chores which white mothers didn't like to do. We had several different ones when I was growing up. There was no visible animosity between whites and blacks which we children were aware of. But we were protected from the injustice which was the norm in most Southern towns. All public places had white and black water fountains, separate toilet facilities, separate waiting rooms in the train and bus stations. The segregation law was enforced, but I remember no case where there was any attempt by white or black to change the system. That is the way both races were raised. That is the way it had been for generations. But without a doubt the facilities were separate and unequal. The crime rate was low, and the all white police force tolerated little lawlessness. What we children didn't see and were not aware of was the inequality between the races. Only as I reached the teenage years did social consciousness awaken, and the unfairness of the old system begin to take root. I carried that feeling on into manhood, and only as I approached middle age in the fifties and sixties did things begin to change. But I felt from adolescence that it was wrong for the Negroes to be treated the way they were, long before the social revolution of the sixties began.
- The Second World War began on December 7, 1941. Our lives changed completely as Alfred, Jr. prepared to enter the Army Air Force. The air force was then part of the army. By summer of 1942, Al enlisted, and went away for training in San Antonio, Texas. Dad's business flourished as the departing service men had photographs made of themselves and their families. Although Dad now had competition in town, he had developed into an excellent photographer and was known far and wide with that reputation. The year 1942 was a good year at least from my perspective. I had reached my twelfth year. Somewhat earlier I had acquired a case of malaria. This was not unusual for Eastern North Carolina of the thirties. DDT had not been invented, and little effort was made to eradicate the malaria mosquito. About the only remedies was prevention of mosquito breeding in the puddles and swamps of the area, so oil was sprayed on the stagnant pools. Malaria eliminates the appetite almost totally. The red blood cell count is low, and anemia is the result. One is always very tired and weight loss is extreme. Only after my weight had become very low was the reason recognized. The common way to fight malaria was with quinine pills. Over time, this would halt the malaria, but in the meantime the quinine would turn the skin a bright yellow. To fight the anemia, I was fed Sloanes Chill tonic which was rich in iron. Never was there a medicine which tasted worse. But, eventually as I approached adolescence the malaria and anemia was corrected, but I remained very thin even well into adulthood. The very slight build, low weight, and lack of energy prevented me from taking part in energy demanding, organized athletics.
- Soon all material things which we had taken for granted were in short supply as they were absorbed by the armed forces. In late 1942 rationing began for almost everything. Included were clothing, shoes, meat, sugar, gasoline, tires, cigarettes... the list went on and on. Some things were just not available such as candy bars, roll film, and those things which we would have like to have had, but weren't essential to living. We learned to do without. Gasoline was limited to three gallons a week for us since we did not require much driving to make a living. People who travelled for their living were allowed more, but all essential driving was eliminated. Our level of need entitled us to an "A" card, and was only enough to go about 45 miles per week. If one made their living from driving they were issued a "B" card, which provided a bit more.
- But in early 1942 things were easier. We went to Granddad's and fished on the Fourth of July, and I took the train to visit my cousin, Ben Pierce, in Norfolk as had been the tradition in earlier years. Norfolk was a beehive of activity. Military airplanes were everywhere. We visited Ben's grandfather's house near Driver where there had been a hastily built Navy air field. I have a vivid memory of Ben and I posting ourselves at the end of the runway and watching Grumman torpedo bombers taking off on training flights over our heads one after another for hours. The battleship North Carolina was launched that summer. It was the largest battleship of the U.S. Navy at that time. I remember building a battleship (or what I called one) out of boards, and insisted on taking it home with me on the train to Rocky Mount when it was time to depart. It was a problem because of its size but my Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Estelle Pierce indulged me and strapped it to the side of my suitcase.
- Dad took the family fishing on a larger boat at Minnesot Beach below New Bern, N. C. We cooked the fish in our charcoal bucket right on the shore, and no fish ever tasted better. We were all unaware of the difficulties which were to follow those good years with the whole family. Soon after that my life took more serious turn. Dad had headaches all his life from poor sinus drainage. In early August he decided to go to a specialist in Richmond and have his nose straightened. He had broken it as a boy when he fell on the ice on the Nansemond River. The operation was a success, and his headaches ceased. Then on August 25, 1942, he woke with a severe headache which continually worsened. The doctor was called, but by the time he arrived Dad had died from a stroke, probably from a clot resulting from the nose operation. Mother was devastated! Not only had she lost the husband she loved, but she had Julia, 8, and me, 12, to raise. She had been a housewife all her life and knew nothing about the business of running a household. Dad had done it all and had trained her in nothing. The funeral was in the Presbyterian Church and burial was in Pine View Cemetery. I can remember how lonely and lost I felt on the day of his funeral. And there was the realization that life as I had known it was over forever, and that a great change was required to survive.
- For awhile the hired man at the studio, Waymouth Allen, kept the studio running. But it was obvious that something must be done to shore up the operation. My uncle Ben Harrell was contacted in Greensboro. He and his common law wife, Sadie, operated a studio there. He agreed to let Sadie run his place, and he would come and run Dad's studio. He was not the photographer which Dad been, but with photography in such demand the only thing to lose was a good reputation for the studio. This arrangement lasted about nine months until Mother could get on her feet. Then Uncle Ben returned home, and Mother went to work in the studio. She learned quickly, and, although she didn't take portraits, she could handle some of the processing, receive customers, and learned to take care of the business aspects. She was making good money and saving much of it. Somehow we children took care of ourselves.
- I immediately got a job at the Evening Telegram newspaper selling papers on the streets, railroad station, and bus station. I also covered the tobacco warehouses, but sales there were poor. The best business was at the train station, especially when long troop trains came through. I'm sure the soldiers and sailors felt sorry for the little scrawny kid passing along the open windows of the train at the station where it usually would stop briefly. I would sell out within minutes whenever this occurred. Even when there were no troop trains there were totally loaded passenger trains coming through and stopping. I could depend on one about every hour. And passengers were always eager for war news. My newspaper, "The Evening Telegram", sold for five cents per copy and usually contained about eight pages. I have seen the paper recently, now renamed "The Rocky Mount Telegram", and it isn't much bigger than that today.
- To improve business I soon started boarding the trains for their short stop and selling papers to the passengers. The conductors understood, and never gave me a problem. Business was good. One day business was so good that I overlooked the time. The train started to pull out, headed for Richmond, and I had to finish a sale. By the time I arrived at the car platform steps the Negro porter was closing the door. I pleaded with him to let me off, but the train was moving too fast by then. He insisted to checking with the conductor who was way up in the front car beginning to take tickets. So we hurried forward for several cars at good speed. By the time we reached him and he finally agreed to stop the train and let me off, we were north of town about three miles, just opposite the old airport. But, I didn't care! I just wanted off. I had about one dollar in my pocket which wouldn't have gotten me back home from Richmond. Of course, I didn't realize that the railroad would have ensured I got back home. What a feeling of relief when I scurried down the steps. As I walked back toward town the train started up again, and I was humiliated by all the catcalls I received from the passengers. But I didn't care. It was such a relief to escape. I didn't tell Mother about it because I was afraid she would make me resign my paper selling job. About a month later some reporter at the newspaper wrote up the story in the paper. Mother happened to see it in the paper and proceeded to read it to me. She was astounded when I told her it was me. But she had a good laugh, and realized that I apparently could take care of myself.
- I learned one very valuable lesson on that job, dependability. One day after school I decided I wanted to play with a friend rather than go to my job. I skipped a day. When I returned to work the next day Mr. Dunston, Editor, was waiting for me. He called me in, and through a haze of tobacco smoke, he told me about dependability and what he expected of me... be on the job every day. I took it to heart and never missed another day in my working life without good reason.
- I continued to sell papers until I got a paper route delivering papers after school. The first job was delivering "The Norfold Virginia Pilot" down in a very poor neighborhood hear the train shops. Later, I found a delivery job in the neighborhood where we lived with "The Evening Telegram". Delivery was done on my bicycle, and the papers were folded and carried in a front and back canvas sack which fitted over the shoulders. That job paid a little better, and at least I could depend on a fairly steady income. Most of it I gave to Mother, but it did leave me with a little spending money. And it was excellent training on self reliance, and learning how to get along in the world.
- The war continued to drag on. It seemed like it would never end, but there was always plenty of war news in the paper. I can remember the Battle of Midway Island the the big black headlines in the paper. The headlines two and three inches high occurred quite frequently. In those days the people had total interest in the war since they had sons and husbands involved. In summer of 1942 the week Dad died, the Marines and Army invaded Guadalcanal. In 1943 the bomber force had reached such a size in England that 1000 bomber raids became quite common. The Nazis were losing and our spirits were rising. But on the home front life was a drag because of all the shortages and the lack of our brothers and sons.
- At age 12 I joined the Boy Scouts. Although there was little leadership from adults to get merit badges, the Scouts gave us boys a chance to sleep out at Troop 7's Hunter's Hill cabin about seven miles west of town. The scout troop built the cabin. The location is still there, but it is now residential. There was a beautiful stream at the bottom of the hill below the cabin which allowed us to get in a good swim in summer. There was a rope hanging out over the pool below a small rapids and we had much fun swinging on this and dropping into the pool totally naked.
- One night we decided to sleep out in an empty tobacco barn east of town. That sounded like a good idea because we could keep out the November cold by building a fire in the furnace. The fire soon had the flue system red hot, and we went to sleep on top of our sleeping bags feeling like were being cured like the tobacco. What we didn't understand was that tobacco barns are built to move air rapidly through the system. This removes the moisture from the tobacco quickly. Thus, when the fire died down the warmth went out the vents near the roof very rapidly. Before long we all woke up freezing cold. So much for tobacco barn camping.
- School life went forward. I got mostly A's and B's, but didn't really excel in any one thing. Math was difficult for me but I managed to pull down B's in algebra, but it didn't fire me up. I had no idea what I would do with my life. In about the ninth grade Mother gave me job at the studio after school and on Saturdays, and I became interested in photography. I was soon taking portraits, and doing all aspects of the processing. And the work ethic took hold. This continued until high school graduation. In the eleventh and twelfth grade I joined the drama group, the Black Maskers, and I participated in several plays. This led to winning a trip to Chapel Hill where we presented the play, "Scrooge" on the University Playhouse stage of the University of North Carolina. Manpower was in very short supply in 1944. Most of the young men below 35 years old were in the military. Local businesses were having difficulty even finding delivery drivers. Therefore, the state changed the age for drivers license from 16 to 14. I qualified in August of that year and got my license at 14. But there was nowhere to go, because gasoline was in such short supply. But there were a group of boys my age who would share cars. Most nights we would get together and roam the city. We didn't drink like some of the guys did, but an occasional cigarette made us feel manly. I never developed the habit like Ed Davenport and Bobby Wilson did. We would make the usual rounds out to Duke's joint at the airport, then to the golf course, past the radio station at WEED. Usually we would go by Sunset Lake to harass the dating age group parked in cars there. But we didn't get into any trouble probably because we had a solid church background and knew the difference between right and wrong.
- Finally in 1945 the war situation was improving. The Nazis were on the run, and the Japanese had retreated to defend Okinawa, located just below the home islands. Finally on August 7 a startling announcement! Hiroshima had been bombed by a single bomb which destroyed the entire city. The bomb's power was derived from splitting the atom, whatever that meant. It was an atomic bomb. None one really understood what that meant, but we knew it probably meant the war would end soon. And, in fact, it did end about August 25. The joy was indescribable. My brother, Al, would be coming home soon.
- The sequence of discharges from service were determined by the number of points one had on their record. Those who had served in combat had the most points and were released as soon as they could be returned home. Al had served in a photographic unit in Denver for most of his military career, and wasn't released until November. I was there at the Rocky Mount airport to welcome him home. He arrived on a Capitol Airlines DC 3. He soon donned civilian clothes and pinned his "Ruptured Duck" in his lapel, the insignia that designed he was a veteran. Capitol Airlines was later merged with Piedmont Airlines. That airline has, since, merged with USAIR, and that line has become USAIRWAYS. Al was glad to be home, and took over the studio. Mother retired to being a housewife again. So, the bad years were over, and we could all get on with our lives.
- Graduation from high school occurred in 1948. It was a significant milestone. I decided I would continue in photography and signed up for a photographic school in Silver Spring, Maryland, just north of Washington. This was the day I left home for good. From then on home would just be a place to visit.
- The three month course was fun, and got me away on my own, but I didn't learn much which I didn't already know. I would hitch hike home most weekends. By dressing in a sports coat and tie I had little trouble getting rides. There was never any trouble from anyone who furnished a ride. This was when I learned the skills of hitch hiking. Before accepting any ride I would ask how far they were going. If it wasn't to the next large city (such as Richmond), I would refuse the ride. In this way I was almost never stranded. I also avoided trucks, business related vehicles, and old cars, because they usually weren't going far or went too slow. I used this early experience later when in military service to hitch hike several times across the U. S. from California to North Carolina and back.
- At graduation from photography school I needed a job. Through the school I heard about a photography studio which needed a photographer in Long Branch, New Jersey. The studio was actually an army post studio on Fort Monmouth. So away I went. Mr. Deutschesyn was the owner, and he gave me the job. I took portraits of the soldiers and did processing work. Mr. Deutschesyn decided to make books for the soldiers there in training with individual shots of each soldier. He decided to make the books all photographic not printing. There were about 50 small head and shoulder pictures per page. The book included all the soldiers in the battalion. Unfortunately, the idea was a mistake. He invested significant money to get it started, and we took pictures with a brand new automatic electronic flash camera. It was mid summer, and the weather was very hot. There was no air conditioning. The soldiers had sweated through their shirts and looked terrible in the pictures. After several classes with disappointing sales, he realized the venture was a failure. The venture almost broke him, and after I had been there one year he had to let me go.
- I had bought an old 1937 Oldsmobile. I didn't know it, but it was almost worn out. I headed home. Several days later I decided to open my own studio. I wanted a small town where there was a need and little competition. For some reason I looked at Walterboro, South Carolina and I headed there. There was a young photography studio there. This young man wanted to sell out and do something different. I stayed with him for several days assessing the situation. The longer I stayed the more I realized this was not the place for me. So, I headed back north again and ended up in Salisbury, North Carolina. I don't remember what took me there, but I found a second story suite for rent on a side street over the local feed store. Just behind my suite was an optometrist, and we became good friends. I modified the offices and installed a darkroom. The place was minimum adequate. Since I had little money, I did all the work. I found a room in a private residence, moved in, and commenced business. Customers were slow in coming in for portraits. After a few weeks I decided to drive home in my '37 Oldsmobile to Rocky Mount for a weekend, a distance of about 180 miles. About 30 miles from Salisbury the engine suddenly began to knock. It got worse, but I soon came upon a little one room country garage where repairs were made. I pulled in. They diagnosed it as a worn out crankshaft bearing. There I was in the middle of nowhere late on a Friday afternoon. Soon a bus came by which I flagged down and climbed aboard. We went to Raleigh where I succeeded in hitch hiking on to Rocky Mount. On Monday I was back at the garage. They succeeded in replacing the bearing sometime that day, but when they tested the car, the wheels were locked by the bearing. The size of the insert was too thick. So they dismantled it again and put in a smaller insert. Now it was very late in the day, but this time, we finally got the engine to start, and I was back in Salisbury by bedtime. What a weekend! Within a week, the bearing was knocking again... so I parked the car and walked to a from work. Needless to say I was becoming discouraged. The summer came and went and things weren't getting any better. I was eating in a local diner size restaurant, and losing weight steadily. By now I was down to 125 pounds. Something had to be done.
- What was happening in the world at this time which would influence my decision? The Korean War had been on for several months. The North Koreans invaded South Korea and were sweeping all before them. The world reacted by assembling a force under the United Nations organization. The U.S. supplied most of the troops and equipment. During this mobilization phase the troops in South Korea, both South Korean and American, were being pushed steadily south. Taejon, the city at the most southern tip of the peninsular was eventually surrounded. They held on while troops and equipment crossed the ocean and reinforced the embattled force remaining. As the reinforcements moved into the surrounded area about Taejon, the tide began to turn and North Korean soldiers began to fall back north toward the border between the two countries at the 38th parellel. General MacArther, the commanding general, mounted a flanking invasion from sea near the northern border of South Korea. This movement endangered the North Korean army threatening to cut off their supplies from the north. They were forced to retreat rapidly back into North Korea. The U.N. armies followed. At this point in August, 1950, the Chinese Army entered the war, and quickly overran the U.N. armies forcing them back out of South Korea. When this occurred I knew that I was in danger of being drafted into the army. Rather than chance losing my life in the army I chose to join the navy. But my sight was so poor there was little chance of being accepted. Then I asked my optometrist friend to experiment on me with the brand new contact lens technology. He did so, and I got my new lenses. They were very uncomfortable, but I wore them long enough to visit the navy recruiter and pass the eye exam with 20/20 vision. Then the lenses came out never to go in again until much later in my life when the technology was more developed. For some reason the Navy never questioned my use of obviously very strong glasses.
- So I was in the Navy! I found a man in town who needed a job badly and who had photographic experience. He took the job of running the business, what there was of it, and I took the bus to Raleigh and was sworn in. There in the recruiting office was a distant friend from Rocky Mount, Ed (known as Sonny) Williams. We became immediate good friends, a relationship which continued throughout my naval career. That night, November 9, we boarded the train and headed for Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Milwaukee, Wisconson. This was my first time in a Pullman car, and it was a very new and interesting experience. The trip to the training center took two days which seems impossible in this new age of air travel where the same trip requires only less than two hours. But air travel for military personnel had not yet become the tradition. We reported in to the center on November 11, and life changed radically for the next almost four years. We were confined to the base for almost four months during basic training. I will never forget the first night. We lived in a wooden barracks with about 200 other men. I was assigned an upper bunk, two wool blankets and a mattress cover. There was a large high wattage ceiling lamp directly over my bunk. We turned in at 10:00 that night. At 4:00 on came that light, right in my eyes. It was terrible! Then the master at arms came through banging his billy club on the steel bunks, one after another. Next, he began to bang on the trash can. By now we were all wide awake and cursing life in general. He announced we had 20 minutes before falling in to march to breakfast. We all went to work in the showers, and the toilet room. There were eight toilets without stalls lined up, four facing the other four. That is where we began to lose our modesty.
- Then came breakfast, and since I was about starved, it all tasted wonderful. By six A.M. we were back at barracks (we were allowed to return individually rather than in ranks) and fell in again with our rifles to march to school. We always marched in the company consisting of about 100 men from class to class, and, when the work day was over, marched back to the barracks about 4:30. Supper was at 6:00. We had a few free hours to visit the gedunk (soda fountain, candy, etc.), write letters, and wash clothes. There was never any time to get in trouble.
- During boot camp we learned the rigors of living on a ship without the modern conveniences we take for granted today... mainly washing machines and dryers. Instead of these machines we had a wash table/sink, a scrub brush, a bucket, detergent, hot water, and muscle. The daily job required most of every other evening. After washing came the cold job of hanging all up the wet clothes for drying, outside if the temperature was above zero, in the 'drying room' if below zero. If between zero and 32 F the fingers would freeze up before completing the unpleasant task, and the clothes would follow suit within minutes. Bringing in the dry clothes next evening was easier because the clothes were stiff as a board. In wet weather we used the drying room which was about the size of a living room with many clothes lines Moving about in it when it was full most of the time was great fun, with partially wet clothes rubbing across ones face. The humidity was so high I don't understand how they ever dried, but they did.
- Soon after arriving in boot camp we were all given an intelligence test. I must have done well because a few days later I was called into the training officer's office, and he offered to send me to four years of college in the Naval Reserve Officer's Training program to a university of my choice... free. At completion graduates would be required to serve four years in the Navy. Now I was in a dilemma. I had gotten in the navy by temporarily using contact lenses to pass the eye test. My record showed 20/20 vision, and I was almost certain that I would receive another eye test before entering college. With no contact lenses I was sure I would be found out, and, either discharged, or at least sent back to complete boot camp training. I had to consider all this quickly and give in immediate answer. It may have been the mistake of my life, but I decided not to take the chance, and chose to remain with my company. The reason for entering the navy in the first place was to get the GI Bill benefits which would provide veterans with financial help in getting an education, and I decided to stick to that objective. That was that!
- As I think back on this decision it is apparent that my life would have taken an entirely different tack if the decision had been to accept the Navy's college offer. None of my wonderful family that came to pass would have happened. I tremble to think about the consequences of such a decision, because my wife, children, and grandchildren which resulted from the path I did choose couldn't have been more wonderful for me, and, obviously, for my family.
- I returned to the company and all the friends I had developed during those first weeks in boot camp. The training continued. We marched everywhere as a company of over one hundred men. We learned to work together with a loyalty to each other. We were all in it together and were determined to do our best so that when the time came for duty beyond boot camp we would have a choice of choosing the branch we wished to pursue. That privilege was dependent on our standing in the class.
- One day about ten of the men in the company were told to report to the drill hall, a large building similar to a large gymnasium. We were formed up into ranks, handed a chromed rifle, white booties, and told that we were to be trained as a ceremonial rifle corp. Our duties were to be fancy marching, and handling of the rifle in unique ways. The most memorable maneuver was the Queen Anne's Salute. After complicated movements in the ranks, we were to perform the salute as the climaxing movement. It was very beautiful with its precision, the flashing rifles and bayonets, the white booties on legs moving in perfect unison, and all in clean, navy blue uniforms and white hats. This training helped to raise self esteem and confidence in our own abilities to learn something complicated and self satisfying. It was great for morale, and made us proud of ourselves. But there were a few in our company who had decided not to conform. One in particular I remember decided he would not conform no matter what the company commander required. To make his resistance known, he refused to keep clean. He refused to bathe, and to wash his clothes. Of course, it brought nothing but trouble for him, but he seemed to revel in his new found center of attention, albeit negative reaction from all the other members of our company. This rebellion went on for a few weeks, and finally, since the company leaders couldn't reach him, the company itself took action. Without our leader's permission or knowledge (?), a group of the larger members of the company took him by force into the shower room, stripped him, and, with our rough scrubbing brushes, scrubbed him down from head to foot with laundry soap. Even this humiliation had no effect in turning him around. A short time later the navy saw fit to discharge him as undesirable, and unfit for the navy. Good riddance!
- The daily grind continued. But we were being formed into a unit instead of individuals. It increased our respect for our unit, and for our place in the larger Navy to which were to give four years of our lives. We looked forward to the end of training, and our new duty stations. We knew we would travel far and wide during this four years, and were anxious to get underway.
- Finally we graduated! We all gathered in the drill hall, and were given a pep talk by the Training Commander... then we were ready to go. I chose the Navy Air Force, and was assigned to Airman's training at Millington Air Base in Millington, Tennessee, about 15 miles north of Memphis. We were soon on our way by train to that little navy village, and the air base near it. There we learned the basics of aircraft. After a few weeks of training on the ground, I flew my first time in a naval aircraft. It was a twin engine, twin tail plane, manufactured by Beech Aircraft Company. We were taken up to learn to use radar. The radar was Second World War vintage. We peered into a long tube at a 3" x 4" screen and attempted to recognize the images from the ground. I don't see how anyone ever did that in war. However, my first flight I got airsick, just as I expected. But it was a windy day, and very rough. A few days later we got our second flight. This time it was dead calm, and I actually enjoyed it. I even got to sit in the copilots seat. What a thrill. No airsickness! I was getting accustomed to flying.
- About half way through this four month's training they transferred the whole company to Jacksonville Air Base in Florida. The journey was on a troop train and took two days in Pullman sleeping cars. We carried our own kitchen car, and ate in the dining car. It was quite an experience for us as inexperienced in the world as we were. But we were learning the ways of the world rapidly. Training continued in Jacksonville. We had received no leave up until now, and only a few weekend passes. But, we were finally rewarded with a four day pass. My buddy, Sonny Williams and I, anxious to get back home for a few days, took off for Rocky Mount, N.C. in Sonny's Ford. He had a girl there (who he eventually married), and I was interested in meeting girls also because navy life, in a way, is lonely even though you are surrounded by men. There is wonderful companionship in such groups, and one forms lifelong bonds of friendships, but there is no love. And for a man of twenty years love is a very important element which is sorely missed. Not necessarily sexual love is involved, but a feeling of belonging to someone, and having them depend on you, and being loved by them.
- During this four days Sonny and I wanted dates with girls. Sonny's girl, Nancy, knew of available girls and she and Sonny arranged for a triple blind date for Sonny, Donald Hines, and me. Of course, Nancy went with Sonny, and he arranged for a date for Donald Hines with a girl from Nash County. Her name was Carolyn Langley. He also arranged for a date for me. Sonny and I and Nancy gathered at Sonny's mother's house on Redgate Avenue in Rocky and waited for Donald to bring the other two girls. When the girls entered the room I was literally stunned by this beautiful girl, Carolyn, who was to be Donald's date. I was never one to believe in the myth of love at first sight, but I will never forget in that moment saying to myself that this was the girl I would marry. I don't even remember the name of my date, nor her appearance. I spent the evening trying to make Carolyn aware of me. But she was so disgusted with her date, Donald, that she never even saw me. I did not consider the night at all successful, but I knew I had to get to know this girl. Before that was possible, however, we had to return to base in Jacksonville.
- In the next weeks I repeatedly tried to write Carolyn a letter, but, because I wanted to say the right things and not foul things up with the wrong things, I tore up every letter without mailing them. For the next six months I dreamed of her, but it was unrequitted love.
- Finally we finished Airman's "B" school, and I was awarded with my chosen continued training, this time in aviation electronics. We returned to Memphis for this extended training in "A" school which would last another four months. I was fascinated with the wonders of radio and radar, and couldn't have been happier with the choice I had made. Here was training which not only was interesting, but it was challenging and allowed one to significantly contribute. However, it was now late 1951, and a cease fire was called on the fighting in Korea, a condition what has remained since 1950 until now, 1997. The battle line had returned now to about the 38th parallel, about where it had started. So now I knew that I would not be involved in active fighting. My job was in electronics maintenance of the aircraft, keeping the radios, radars, jamming equipment, intercommunication systems, direction finding radios, Loran (a radio signal based navigational system), and radio altimeters functioning properly. It was highly interesting work, and I was never happier. I had a good job, and a chance to see parts of the world of which I had never dreamed of seeing. And my life would not be in jeopardy.
- Training finally ended almost exactly one year after I entered the navy, and we were given our first thirty day leave. Sonny and I headed home to Rocky Mount in Sonny's car. Soon after arrival, Sonny and I went out to where the Langley's were living in Nash County. It was about one half mile from where Carolyn's brother, Marvin, now lives. The last two miles of road was unpaved and nothing but corrugated sand. We pulled into the path leading to the house, and there was the family barning tobacco. And there was Carolyn, in her work shirt and jeans looping tobacco onto the tobacco stick. She was just a beautiful as I had remembered. She took a break and we walked up to the house to get acquainted. I asked her for a date the next night, and she accepted.
- We went to some kind of picnic in the evening at Sunset Park on the Tar River. Now I had a real chance to be close to Carolyn privately. We hit it off right away, and I knew she was the girl for me. We ended up holding hands across the picnic table. We adjouned to Sonny's house, and Carolyn and I sat on the swing together. What joy! She responded, and, as I remember it, we had our first kiss.
- The rest of my leave was spent in constant dating. My brother, Al, loaned me his Pontiac, and Carolyn and I were together almost every night. The next week I took her to meet my mother in Grifton, N.C., near Kinston. We had lunch together, but I didn't get the feeling that they hit it off too well. Much later in life that was to change very significantly.
- The four week leave was over only too quickly, and I headed for California on the train, my first cross country train trip alone. We went to New Orleans on the Southern from Raleigh, an overnight and full next day trip. I slept very little. In New Orleans we changed stations by bus to the Southern Pacific railroad station, and boarded the Sunset Limited. Now that was a real train. The appointments were luxurious, and the seats tilted almost horizontal. Each seat had its own leg rest, so one could really stretch out and be comfortable for sleeping. And, I really slept. The next thing I knew we were in Texas, and I felt wonderful. There is nothing like a good night's sleep after missing one the night before. We passed through Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Tucson, and after four days from Raleigh, through the Mojave Desert of California, something an Easterner like me had never envisioned. And then into Los Angeles. There, I changed trains and took the sixty mile trip to Oxnard, California. Arriving about 10 p.m., I called the base, Point Mugu, to send a truck for me, and was in bed in a Quonset hut in the transient part of the base by midnight.
- Next morning when I walked outside, there was this beautiful, barren, rocky mountain just south of the base, and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I was fascinated with its beauty, so different from the tree covered, tame mountains of the East. Life in California was going to be fascinating. I was going to love California.
- Point Mugu was a Naval Missile Test Center. This was the base where the soon to be famous Sparrow Air to Air missile was in the initial stages of testing. Also the Regulus ship to ship missile was being put through its paces with firings off into the Pacific Ocean. My job was maintaining the radios in the planes used to support the operations. At this time there was the early beginnings of television on small eight inch screens, but the picture was terrible. I saw no future for television if this was the way it was. Neither was there hi fidelity, stereo radio. I remember listening to my first stereo with a pair of headphones, and was amazed at the clarity and sense of direction it provided the listener.
- My job at Point Mugu was interesting. But the unpleasant part was having the duty every fourth night and every fourth weekend. The 'duty' meant having to remain on the base and usually being assigned guard duty. The watches were from 4 to 8 p.m., 8 to 12, 12 to 4 a.m., and 4 to 8. I would usually be assigned one of those watches. The most hated one was the midnight to 4 a.m. After a full day's work on a duty day, one would get to get to bed at lights out at 10 p.m. Usually things didn't quiet down until 10:30 in the Quonset hut where duty people slept. If lucky (not often) we could drop off to sleep at about 11:00. At 11:30, the duty officer would come though and wake up the watch for the mid to 4. We would be loaded into a truck and carted off to our duty station, often in crude group of buildings housing electronic equipment down at ocean side. But we weren't inside. Our watch required us to walk around outside in the dark and cold with a 45 caliber pistol on our hip with no bullets. They had removed the bullets after a guard shot himself in the foot while practicing quick draws while on watch. Now, California, even Southern California, is always cold after dark. And down on the beach the wind was always blowing. Even though we had navy pea coats or fur lined jackets, it was miserable there. This was before it was realized that warmth was helped by using a number of layers of clothing. Well, anyway, it was very unpleasant, boring and lonely.
- One night on a 4 to 8 a.m. watch near the beach I happened to be looking east when there was a bright flash in the sky. What in the world could that be? No sound, so it must have been very far away. Now, this was during the period of atomic bomb testing on the surface in Nevada. I reasoned that it must be such a test. I knew that Nevada was about 300 miles east, and that at the speed of sound of about 1000 feet per second, I could estimate the approximate time of arrival in about 20 minutes. And that is exactly what happened. That was my first sight of an atomic bomb blast. It wasn't to be the last.
- During summer of 1951 I took the 30 days leave due me. I called a Rocky Mount friend, Charlie Todd, who was in the army stationed in California, and we made arrangements to go to North Carolina. I hitch hiked to Needles, California and proceeded east in the car of a friend of his. When the leave was over we planned to catch a military flight back. From Rocky Mount Charlie and I hitch hiked to a base near Montgomery, Mississippi, but after waiting a day, there were no flights going west. So we continued hitch hiking west. We made it in time, but it was close.
- On New Year's day, 1951, I arranged to meet Charlie Todd again in Los Angeles to see the Rose Parade. We saw the parade, and then questioned whether we might get tickets to the Rose Bowl football game. It couldn't hurt to try, so we went to the ticket window and asked if there were any tickets available. The man said, "Yeah, we can find a couple for you two service men". He handed us two tickets right in the 50 yard line, half way up. We pulled out our money, but he said it was on the house. Service men in those days were treated with respect.
- I had used my 1951 leave, so there was no getting home for Christmas. That Christmas was the loneliest I have ever known. I was in the barracks all alone for the entire week because everyone else had taken leave. There was nothing much to do, and no money to get off the base. So I spent most of my time in the base library and studying a television correspondence course I had signed up for.
- During this period Carolyn and I were corresponding constantly. Our courting grew during that period and we let each other know of our love. Of course long distance telephoning wasn't done much in those days, at least coast to coast, so it was all by mail. Letters required four days in transient. Near the end of the period I bought an engagement ring in Oxnard for $75. That wasn't much, of course, but when your income was $125/month, the investment was quite significant. I didn't know if she would accept it or not, but from all her letters I was fairly sure she would. I also bought an old Nash automobile for about $200. It was worn out, but it was the best I could do. At least it allowed me to get around the base and the surrounding area better than walking.
- Finally the day arrived for my annual 30 day leave for 1952. After work on the departure day for the East I packed my little bag. It was about the size of a bag used these days for carrying sports clothes to the gym. I went to the gate in uniform on to the highway 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco and commenced to hitch hiking north. Very soon a man picked me up headed for San Francisco. We had only been a short ways when he asked me if I wanted to drive. That was okay with me, since it was obvious he had been drinking. So we switched, and he immediately opened the glove box and took out his bottle. In the glove box I spotted a pistol. He commenced to drink himself into oblivion and I headed into the night. It was an all night drive, and we arrived in the San Francisco area about dawn in a severe fog. Nothing untoward had happened, and he soon put me out on Market Street in mid town San Francisco. I had a couple of days to kill there because my flight from Travis Air Force Base near Sacremento to Washington was scheduled for Monday. So I proceeded to see the town on Saturday, at least as well as one on foot can do it. On Sunday I decided to hitch hike over the Golden Gate Bridge and see the wine country. That took all of Sunday, and I ended up at Travis Sunday night and checked into the transient barracks. I got on the flight as reserved, and was in Washington twelve hours later on Monday evening. Al, my brother, and his wife Carolyn, plus my Carolyn had driven up from Rocky Mount and met me at the terminal. We drove on to Rocky Mount that night. During the next few days Carolyn and I dated continuously, and I soon asked her to marry me. She accepted the engagement ring, and we set the date for two weeks later on July 6, 1952 in the Presbyterian Church Chapel on Church Street in Rocky Mount. I was in heaven.
- When the date arrived, we were married in the white chapel there, but without music. We had to save money somewhere, and that seemed one way to save for more important things. I probably only had about $200 to my name, and she had even less. But we were committed to making a life together, and that is exactly what we did. After the wedding we went to Chimney Rock, N. C. for a two day honeymoon. The remainder of the leave was over only too quickly, and I hitch hiked back to Washington to get a flight back to California. Carolyn stayed home with the plan to come to California by train in a couple of weeks.
- When I arrived in Washington and the MATS terminal (Military Air Transport Service), I could not get on a flight. They were all spoken for for several days. There were only two flights per week. So, now what should I do. It was Friday, and I was due back at Point Mugu Sunday by midnight. I went to National Airport and found out I could take a flight but that cost $112 which I didn't have. Perhaps I could find a flight from Bolling Field across the Anacostia River in Maryland. So I called the transient office there and asked if there were any planes scheduled for California. Why, yes, there was a pilot who was leaving for North Island, San Diego on Sunday morning at 4 a.m. Wow, I was really in luck. So I spent Saturday sight seeing Washington, and was in the Bolling Field transient barracks that night. There wasn't much sleeping because I could just see the watch failing to wake me causing me to miss the flight. About 2 a.m. the watch came around and woke me. I reported in at 3:30, and we took off at 4 a.m. sharp in a B 25 bomber. I rode alone in the waist where the guns usually were mounted. There was no sound insulation at all, and it was cold, very cold. The waist of a B 25 is about fifteen feet from the exhaust stacks of the two engines, and the noise is unbelievable. But I didn't care; I was just thankful to be aboard.
- The flight required twelve hours with a stop in Oklahoma City for gas. By the time six hours approached I was about to burst since there was no head on the plane. When he approached the airport the pilot made a straight in landing. I was listening on the intercom when the pilot said to the copilot that it was doubtful they would have enough gas to make it. That didn't help my bursting bladder problem, either. But, he landed without trouble, and pulled up to the gas truck. The mechanic inserted his gauge stick into the tank, but couldn't get the tip wet at all. I was quickly relieved in two ways.
- After only enough time to gas up, we were off again. The remainder of the trip was uneventful except for the time over New Mexico when he suddenly swerved hard right to miss hitting another plane head on. We landed in San Diego about noon, and I headed for La Jolla to meet and spend Sunday at Sonny Williams and Nancy's apartment there. Sunday afternoon I left on US 101 and hitch hiked back to the base, about 150 miles. So, in summary, I would say it was quite an interesting round trip; and my life had changed drastically.
- As planned, two weeks later, Marvin took Carolyn to Raleigh and she boarded the train for Los Angeles with her trunk. Now remember, this is a girl who hadn't been outside of Nash County. But she was a brave girl, and she must have wanted to get away from the farm in the worst way. She had a good trip, changing in New Orleans as I had done, and took the Sunset Limited. I took the train to Los Angeles to meet her. I will never forget catching sight of her coming toward me in her lavender dress. She was just beautiful, and I loved her so. We had a few hours there in the station, had something to eat, and caught the train for Oxnard. I had found a one room with porch apartment in the back of a house in Port Hueneme on the coast. It was a fishing port, and had a fog horn in the harbor. The furnished apartment consisted of a bedroom, a bath which we shared with another renter, and small back porch where a hot plate was located. The refrigerator was in the bedroom. Since I had the old Nash I could drive to the base about 10 miles away each morning through the fog and orange groves. It was often foggy, and we had some trouble getting used to the fog horn which sounded about every 30 seconds. But I didn't care. Life was good and we were happy.
- I had been unable to get an apartment in navy housing in Oxnard, so we had to wait our turn for an opening. After about a month, we finally moved into a one bedroom apartment there. Boy, this was really living! We had our bedroom, a private bath, a kitchen with table, and a living room. Things were really looking up! And with my dependents allowance we were hauling in about $250 per month.
- We soon traded the Nash for a 1951 Mercury. The Nash had a water pump leak which I couldn't afford to get repaired. So I just filled the radiator often. Now the Mercury was quite a car compared to the Nash. It had been wrecked, and the frame was bent, but it was very reliable. One weekend we got cabin fever, and decided to drive to San Diego to see Sonny and Nancy. We arrived unannounced, but found them on the beach. La Jolla is located on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and a more beautiful spot would be hard to find.
- We were happy. Carolyn found friends in navy housing, and we were enjoying married life. There was the money problem, of course. So Carolyn got a job in Oxnard at a five and dime there. With the extra money we drove up into the mountains and along the coast to Ventura, the first time since my arrival that I had explored the area. I took a class at Ventura College in the evenings to brush up on my algebra.
- In the Fall that year I was transferred to Whidbey Island, Washington State. It was a seaplane navy base north of Seattle in Puget Sound. I was given leave to make the transfer, and Carolyn and I packed up all we owned in the trunk of the Mercury and headed east. We drove all the way to Oklahoma City before stopping at a motel for a little sleep. Next morning we continued and didn't stop again before arriving in Nash County. I found that getting through the first night without sleep is the hardest, and that the second and third days without sleep is not too bad. One is so numb that one feels very little. Amazingly, I was back to normal after one night's sleep in Mrs. Langley's bed. Ah, youth is great!
- After a few days there we headed back across country via Denver to Seattle. We caught the ferry from Seattle downtown to the southern tip of Whidbey Island, and then drove the 35 miles up to the base. No housing was available, so we found a house in Oak Harbor for a short time. Eventually we were assigned a 20 foot trailer in a new navy trailer park.
- This navy base housed a squadron of P2V patrol bombers. It is a two engine plane with a 'stinger' in its tail for locating submarines. The squadron rotated regularly between Whidbey Island and a base in Alaska. They had lost several planes over the years in Alaska, either hitting a mountain, or disappearing without a trace. That didn't sound too attractive to me. But life was good here. I was close enough to the trailer park to drive home for lunch. Carolyn formed close friendships in the trailer park. She also went back to high school to get a GED, but this didn't work out and she soon quit. It is very hard to go back to school after one is married. We had some good months here although the weather is very rainy except in the summer time. We took one trip up to Mount Baker into the snow. Mount Baker is a 12000 foot peak which has some snow most of the year. At the lodge atop the mountain the snow was 20 feet deep. The road was in a canyon of snow where they had plowed it. We decided to rent some skis and try skiing. That was a mistake. We had to get a ladder to get up on top of the snow from the parking lot and then the snow was so soft and deep there was no way to move. We gave that up.
- I went fishing in the Sound one day with a friend. Although I caught nothing, I got one tremendous bite from a two foot salmon. I saw it for just a flash on the surface before it threw the hook. What a disappointment. One weekend we drove up to Vancouver in Canada and spent the day. All in all, it was all very interesting and very new and different to us. And we went several times to Seattle.
- We soon got a navy house on the base. Looking out our front window we had a full view of the Olympic range of mountains, snow covered all year. It was in this house that we learned to play pinuckle. Carolyn also had some female problems and spent about a week in the infirmary.
- By late summer the squadron received orders to move. We were going to the Marshall Islands to support the 1953/54 testing of the world's first hydrogen bomb on the Island of Eniwetok. Carolyn was pregnant with Steve, our first child, by then, and we had to make arrangements to get her back to North Carolina. So, we called my mother in Grifton, N. C. and asked her to fly out and accompany her and two other girls by car back across the country. Mother arrived, and we picked her up in Seattle. When it was time for me to leave for the Marshall Islands the girls and Mother packed up and headed down the California coast to San Diego. There, one of the girls was left off. Her parents treated them all to a meal atop the largest hotel in town. Then they headed east through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas where they left off a second girl in Dallas. That old Mercury just did great until they lost a universal joint somewhere in Texas. But they got it repaired and continued. After about two weeks they arrived in North Carolina.
- In the meantime, our squadron flew our planes to a base across the bay from San Francisco. Those of us in the maintenance crews were to take air transports, R4D's (DC 6) the 5000 miles to Kwajalein Island in the Marshalls while the patrol plane crews flew to Hawaii and on to Kwajalein. We waited in San Francisco for almost a week, but not in the barracks or in town. We had to wait each day in the navy terminal itself. Talk about bored! But finally our plane arrived, and we took off over the ocean and arrived at Barber's Point Navy base on Oahu after a 12 hour flight. We were there just long enough to get a meal, and about nightfall were off for the second leg into Kwajalein where we arrived early the next morning after another eight hour flight. It was very humid, and the clouds were broken. We all entered the outdoor type mess hall and had a great breakfast of eggs and bacon, and coffee. It was most welcome after the long flight, especially when considering that the planes were not like airliners. The noise insulation was minimum, and all the seats were made of canvas on a metal frame facing to the rear. There was no service on board, so we were famished.
- Then we went to the barracks which were located on the lagoon side of the island right on the beach. Kwajalein, located only four degrees north of the equator, is an island in an atoll. An atoll is the flattened top of a sea mountain consisting of a string of many little island in a circle like a string of beads. In the center is the lagoon, relatively shallow compared to the surrounding ocean. The lagoon is very calm, and, beginning near the shore the color of the water is brilliant blue green. As the water deepened it turned to a deeper blue. This lagoon was about 50 miles across.
- On the other side of the island was the ocean. It's color was the deepest blue I have ever seen, and the surf over the coral surrounding the island was vicious. There was no swimming in this ocean. Since the atoll was the top of a submerged mountain, the depth of the ocean increased precipitously just beyond the coral. Only a few miles off shore the depth was several miles deep.
- Many of the islands in the chain are very small, perhaps only 100 feet across, although others, like Kajalein, were two and one half miles long and one quarter mile across. It was so narrow that there was only enough room for the runway, a island length road, a few barracks, mess hall, officer's quarters of small huts, and the repair and servicing hangars. Kwajalein is shaped like a crescent moon or a boomerang. The air strip (runway) started at one end of the island and stretched about two miles to the outer elbow of the crescent, ending right at the ocean at both ends. A coral reef, which is made of many billions of microscopic see animals welded together like stone in beautiful shapes and brilliant colors, stretches between each of the islands in the chain. The connecting reef is only a few feet under water at high tide and sometimes bare or very shallow at low tide.
- Kwajalein was fortified with an airfield and cannon by the Japanese in the late 1930's and became an objective of the U.S. Navy in the Second World War. The Japanese used it to control the entire Marshall Islands, and it was one of the many islands making up the extemities of their empire in the 1930's. As the U.S. forces approached Japan Kwajalein was one of the islands they fought for and won. The battle only lasted four days in February, 1943, but all the Japanese on the island were annihilated by naval gunfire and invasion by the U.S. Marines. After the battle all the dead Japanese were buried with bulldozers in a mass grave several hundred feet from our barracks. All the ruined equipment from the battle was bulldozed out onto the coral connector near our barracks, and left to rust. There was one destroyed landing boat on the lagoon beach near our barracks. Also in the lagoon on the other end of the island were three sunken Japanese transports sticking out of the water which were destroyed during the battle. The island was originally covered with beautiful, tall, palm trees, but there was not a palm tree left on the island after the gunfire and battle. In the nine years since the battle, many new half grown palms were growing when we arrived.
There were many other atolls in the Marshall Islands including Bikini, and Eniwetok. Both were, perhaps, three hundred away from Kwajalein. Bikini had been used several years previously to test atomic bombs including one test in which many old, obsolete American ships had been placed in the lagoon and bombed with one atomic bomb. That one bomb destroyed almost all the ships, and left those which survived very radioactive, and very dangerous to be around.
- Our squadron's job was to patrol the entire island group and warn ships of the pending test at Eniwetok. The test scientists would explode one hydrogen bomb in the lagoon, the first such bomb of its kind. All previous atomic bombs had been made from the heavy element, uranium. The hydrogen bomb was 1000 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945. The test hydrogen bomb was mounted on a one hundred foot tower and exploded remotely. The scientists were not sure just how large the explosion would be, but we were fairly certain that a distance of three hundred miles from us was sufficient, and that we wouldn't be in danger.
- Natives lived in the islands including Eniwetok, but they were all removed to other safer islands before the test. We had native workers on Kwajalein who were brought by boat each day from a neighboring island in the chain, Ebeye, to work for the navy. The natives had been there for many centuries, and how they got there, no one really knows; but we do know they were outstanding sailors to cross such wide expanses of the Pacific Ocean in their out rigger canoes without modern navigating instruments. Anyway, we moved into our barracks. Each man had a bunk and a metal locker. We all placed small electrical heater bars in the bottoms of our lockers to keep it dry enough to prevent mold from growing on our clothes and shoes. Being so close to the equator, there was eternal summer, so our barracks had screened windows with no glass and closable wooden awnings all the way around. We got the breezes from the lagoon which helped make if comfortable.
- There was a shuttle bus which went the length of the island about each half hour, and we rode it to chow. The food was fairly good with a few exceptions. Our powdered, scrambled, breakfast eggs were rewatered and cooked in a large pot. Unfortunately, a green scum formed on the surface of the eggs in the serving pot. It took awhile to get accustomed to that. Also, the milk was powdered, and had very little taste. However, if one gets hungry enough one can eat many things with relish.
- One day I had reason to visit the garbage dump on the island. Actually, it wasn't a dump in the usual sense, but was the ocean off one end of the runway. The navy had built a concrete unloading dock at the edge of the ocean so that garbage trucks could pull up and dump the garbage directly into the ocean. When I was there they unloaded one truckload, and I was astounded to see thousands of the most colorful, beautiful, tropic fish imaginable. There were huge schools of brilliant scarlet fish feeding on the garbage. And other schools of brilliant blue fish. They made quick work of the garbage.
- Soon after arrival I was assigned to the evening shift, from 4 p.m. to midnight. We would service the electronics on the planes after they returned from daylight patrols. Most days there was little to service, and we were usually through by 7 p.m., just in time to make the daily outdoor movie located only 100 feet from our barracks. Needless to say, it was easy work, and many of the day shift personnel were a bit irritated when we showed up at the movie at the same time they did. After the evening movie we would return to the barracks, play cards, right letters, or read. At midnight we would go the mess hall for our fourth meal of the day, and would get to bed by about 2 a.m. Usually we were up in time to make late breakfast. The rest of the day before going to work we would play table tennis or lay on the beach soaking up sunshine. I got my first beautiful suntan and actually got a bit fat, a far cry from the 125 pounds I weighed when entering the navy.
- Finally the time of the bomb explosion approached. They didn't tell us the date, but we knew it was close because the planes were out every day and night. Finally one morning a sailor came through the barracks about 7 a.m. waking us up, and suggesting we move outside and look north across the lagoon. Suddenly there was a bright flash which lit up the entire sky from horizon to horizon a blood red. It was overcast, and the clouds spread the brilliant light evenly making it appear we were inside a great hemispherical red dome. The flash only lasted a second, and it was gone. We waited around outside for 20 minutes before the rumble like distant thunder arrived and continued for about 10 seconds as the sound bounced off clouds between Eniwetok and Kwajalein. Then it was all over.
- We learned a few months later that our patrol bombers had missed finding a large Japanese fishing boat which was downwind of the fallout. The fishermen were unaware of the test, and had no idea what the white ash falling on their deck was. They continued on their way back to Japan and only after arriving and becoming sick with radioactive poisoning were they aware of what had happened. We learned much later that most of them had survived the initial poisoning, but many died from cancer in later life. The wind had changed just after the blast, and radioactive fallout had rained down on an island where the natives had been moved. A large group began arriving by plane next day. About 300 were brought to Kwajalein to be cleansed of the ash, and to observe adverse after effects of the fallout on their health. They were showered down and quarantined in several barracks about half mile from us for observation. I never learned the outcome of the accident, but apparently they survived at least temporarily. We will never know how many got early cancer for the experience.
- Each member of the air force, including enlisted personnel, are allowed to accumulate four hours of flight time each month. For this time they receive $50 per month extra pay. It is considered hazardous duty. I got one opportunity while on Kwajalein. The pilot of the P2V bomber was entertaining a beautiful nurse from the infirmary. He took his plane up with me in the back while she rode in the copilot's seat. We took off from the runway, and he immediately put the plane in a very steep climb for about 10 seconds. I never knew that plane to could climb that fast. Of course, he was showing off for the nurse. Then he reduced altitude to about 30 feet off the water and began a complete circle around the 250 mile perimeter of the atoll. Wow! What a thrill. At 30 feet off the deck 250 miles per hour can seem very fast. I moved to the tail gunners turret in the back and watched the water and little islands retreat at 250 miles/hour. That is real flying. The flight lasted about an hour, and I wasn't ready to land.
- One day near the end of our stay B 29 bombers began landing in intervals of about 30 minutes. The B 29 was the primary bomber which leveled Japanese cities in the Second World War. There were thousands used in the bombing, and a B 29 was the bomber used to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. These bombings were the climax which ended the Japanese war. Since the end of the war they had been based on Okinawa, one of the most southern Islands in the Japanese mainland. Okinawa remains, even today, the largest base which the Americans hold in Asia. Okinawa was invaded by the Allied armies in 1945 and taken from the Japanese with heavy casualties on both sides. Anyway, the B 29s were being returned to the United States for decommissioning and storage in the deserts of Arizona where they were left to deteriorate. Their usefulness had ended, they were obsolete, and they were simply worn out. We saw much evidence of this fact as they landed. Their engines were smoking, and their brakes on landing were worn out. They would use up almost all of the runway before stopping. Kwajalein was used as a refueling stop in the vast ocean. It was over 2000 miles from Okinawa to Kwajalein, and another 2000 miles to Hawaii. And Hawaii was 3000 miles from San Francisco. The Pacific Ocean is a huge ocean, the largest in the world, and distances are unimaginable until one has been there. Therefore, Kwajalein was the only island in many miles with a runway long enough for landing the huge bombers.
- After refueling and rest the crew (probably only a pilot, copilot, and navigator) would be ready to depart to Hawaii. The planes rolled out to the end of the runway for takeoff, and, there, they would sit for a few minutes as all the controls were checked out, the engines run up to full speed in preparation for takeoff. Burnt oil smoke would pour from the four engines as evidence of their worn out condition. Often an engine would not develop full power, and the plane would return to the hanger for repairs. When they were finally ready at runway's beginning, they would release the brakes. The plane would slowly accelerate, barely gathering enough speed to take to the air. Finally, at the very end of the runway before it ended in the ocean, they would fly right off the end only a few feet above the water. We would watch them as they continued toward the horizon. And they would go out of sight only 30 to 50 feet off the water, engines smoking and sputtering. We marveled at the bravery of those crews, willing to risk their lives for those old worn out airplanes. Of course, they were under orders, and had no choice. There were rescue seaplanes based on our island who could, perhaps, help if needed. But their chances of survival were poor if they ever went into the ocean.
- After four months the H bomb project was finished. We all were loaded onto air transports with the canvas, back facing seats, and headed back to San Francisco. Twenty hours later we circled over San Francisco Bay, and the feeling of being home again was very emotional. Even I was still 3000 miles from home, San Francisco still felt like home. I think that was the moment when I came to realize that anywhere in the U.S. was home. From there we went on to Whidbey Island. It was now April, 1954, and I was approaching the end of my four year commitment to the navy. I had received regular promotions and was now a Second Class Petty Officer, and only two ranks from Chief, the top enlisted ranks. But, I had come to realize that the navy was not for me. And I knew if I wanted to rise beyond a regular factory job, and, to remain in a technical field I needed a college degree. During the next four months at Whidbey Island that objective became firm in my mind. Duty was relaxed with not too much to do. Life was on hold and I was lonely, wanting to get on with my life and new objective. I spent many hours writing letters to Carolyn and in the base library. Carolyn's pregnancy was now well along, with delivery scheduled for early September. I wasn't due for discharge until November, so it was likely I would miss the birth. Furthermore, I was now almost 24 years old, and if not in college by September, I could lose a year which I didn't feel I could afford to lose. So I approached my commanding officer and informed him that I wanted to begin college in September if possible; and could I be discharged early. He was enthusiastic in his agreement to seek early discharge, and submitted the papers immediately.
- Sure enough in early August, they had been approved. I reported to the Seattle Naval Base for discharge on August 20. Now there was nothing to do except eat my meals and watch the ships in Seattle harbor. And I had remain on base, champing at the bit to be on my way. I met a fellow sailor in the barracks who was also due for discharge on the same day as mine, and he agreed I could ride with him in his car to Laramie, Wyoming, a distance of about 700 miles. Finally the day arrived and I was mustered out. Ah, until you have lived under the discipline and regimentation of navy life for almost four years one cannot appreciate what freedom is, and how precious it is to make your own decisions. We left Seattle and drove all night through the mountains of Washington and Oregon. Late the next day we arrived in Laramie, my friend continued on his way East whereas I was going South toward Atlanta, and I went to sleep in a cheap hotel. Early next morning I was on the highway outside Laramie with Denver as my immediate objective. I can remember how dark, cold, and forbidding it was on the broad, flat, plateau which is characteristic of much of Wyoming. Soon a car gave me a lift and Denver was the next large city on the trip home. I didn't intend to take another night off to sleep if possible. Denver came and went and New Mexico and Texas were next. I wanted the sourthern route because I had found earlier in my navy career that getting through Missouri and Arkansas was difficult. Rides were hard to get.
- Now I had been a day and night and another day out of Laramie, with no trouble from any of my drivers. Finally, the next night I arrived in Lubbock, Texas, at about 10 p.m., and traffic had dried up. Remember, there were no interstate highways in those days. It was important to remain on major highways, or one could become stranded, or get only local rides. Once left out in the middle of nowhere it was sometimes impossible to get a ride. That is what happened in Lubbock, and I decided to get a motel and begin again in the morning. I had found that the trick to hitch hiking was to insure that any ride taken should be to a specific large city. So I would ask where the offers we going before accepting a ride.
- Next morning was better and I was soon on my way. Texas is an endlessly wide state, but after another day and night I arrived in Dallas. At that point I really got lucky. A navy man and wife on the way to Atlanta from San Diego and beyond on annual leave picked me up. They were driving through non stop. That was the longest ride I got on this trip. That night was very difficult, and late the next night I needed sleep badly. I laid down in the back seat for, perhaps, one hour. Somewhere in Louisiana at about dawn I sat up and looked out ahead. The driver was driving about 60 and heading down a long hill. At the bottom was a stopped car directly in our lane. I waited for him to swerve to miss him, but he never made a move to go around. At the last possible second, I realized he was asleep at the wheel, and punched his shoulder, yelled to watch out. He snapped out of his dozing, and swerved just in time to miss a deadly collision. I am convinced my guardian angel was watching over me. If I hadn't sat up when I did, I would have died that day.
- I was headed to Atlanta to inquire about going to college at Georgia Tech., and I had a possible part time job lined up with Bell Telephone there. I had written to the Bell Telephone president several months before, telling him of my goal to attend Georgia Tech., and he had responded with a part time job offer in the telephone renovation facility in Atlanta not far from the college. It was a perfect setup. I knew I had to work to make it through school. I toured the facility, and he made the offer firm. Then I went on to the college admissions office to get details on costs, because I only had $300 mustering out pay in my pocket, four years of school to get through somehow, and a child due in a few weeks. The tuition was twice what I could attend North Carolina State College in Raleigh for, because I was still considered a citizen of North Carolina. There it was $600 per year. I qualified for the GI Bill of Rights as a veteran, so there was enough income to partly finance the education if Carolyn helped with a job of her own. I decided to forego Georgia Tech and go to N.C. State. And, anyway, after going to so many places in the world I was ready to remain near my original home for awhile. So, I left Bell Telephone and Georgia Tech and headed on for North Carolina arriving in Zebulon, N.C. early next morning. At that point the rides petered out, and I didn't want to use all day for the last 35 miles. And I was very anxious to see my wife again after being separate for nine months. So I called Carolyn and asked her to come pick me up, which she did. Oh, how good it was to see her again. I had been on the road about five days with two nights of sleep.
- When we arrived at Carolyn's mothers house at mid morning I wanted to go to bed. Sleep would not come, and in about three hours I was wide awake, and got up. It requires several nights to overcome the driving energy required to continue traveling. That perseverance came in handy during the next four years, because without it and Carolyn's support and encouragement I would never have made it. College at that age is tough, and one must shut out all extraneous activities and focus only on achieving the goal. However, maturity, and knowing with certainty the objective made it possible. I had been out of high school since 1948, six years, and the intervening period had allowed much of the high school training to be forgotten. I hadn't done algebra in eight years, and I was planning to enter a highly mathematical curriculum, Electrical Engineering. I must admit I was afraid.
- The day after I registered, Steven William Harrell was born in Park View Hospital in Rocky Mount. The delivery was easy (at least it didn't take long). He was born only 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital. And what a beautiful boy!
So now we had a son to raise, and four years of college to survive. But how happy we were, and what a challenge. I felt that what I was doing was right, and Carolyn was in perfect harmony with the goal. So we moved to Raleigh into a one room apartment near Pullen Park off Western Avenue. We had not been able to get an apartment in Vetville, a series of old worn out barracks which had been moved from some army base in Eastern North Carolina after World War II to help the flood of married veterans to have affordable housing. But we had to wait our turn to get in.
- Soon after moving into the one bedroom apartment, the hurricane season arrive. I was in college algebra class trying to remember enough from high school to catch up when Hurricane Hazel hit. Carolyn was in the apartment with Steve, a tiny baby. It hit Raleigh directly. The wind and rain was terrible. As it approached the brick building I was in it shook, and the windows were a solid sheet of water. But then it suddenly ceased, and for about 15 minutes all was still and silent. Then it began again with the wind from the opposite direction. It was all over in about two hours, but the city was badly damaged. Trees and power lines were down everywhere. Carolyn and the baby crawled under the covers in bed at the apartment and slept through the entire event. They came through in good condition.
- By Christmas, our financial condition was in crisis. I had gotten a part time job in the Student Union, but the $.75 per hour just wasn't enough. Carolyn couldn't yet work because of the baby, my $300 was all but depleted, and I had to register for the next semester after the new year. I didn't see how we could afford it. I went to my mother for help, and she loaned us the money for tuition and we struggled on.
- Classes were rough for me. I was failing algebra by the end of the semester. And exams were coming up. I began to take makeup sessions after class along with a course semester in solid geometry, a course I should have gotten in high school, but didn't. It was required if I was to continue in college.
- I took the exam, and when the two hour session was almost over I realized I was going to fail it. That moment was the low point in my entire career up to that time. If I failed algebra, how could I possibly succeed in calculus and differential equations which was coming up later? As it turned out, I failed the exam, but for the semester, my grade was one point above failing. That was the only "D" I had ever gotten in school. After that semester things began to improve in many ways. Carolyn got a job in the Textile Building on campus and we put Steve in a nursery. We got into Vetville. Our rent was eighteen dollars per month. We had two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and shower. Heating was by an oil stove in the short hall. The place was roach infested, and had almost no insulation. It was hot as hell in summer and just the opposite in the winter. But all us veterans in Vetville were in the same boat, and we all had a goal. We knew we had to make it. What motivation! We were no longer teen agers in college for a lark. We had responsibilities and determination.
- After that first semester when I had done so poorly in mathematics, I decided I should change to an engineering course without so much math. I discussed it with my counselor. I thought if I changed to Mechanical Engineering it would be somewhat easier. (Ha!) He told me that wasn't the case, but I was so scared by then, that I decided to change. The spring semester featured trigonometry. I breezed through it with ease, and was getting cocky. And then, in the Spring I needed a job for the summer. Then, I saw an ad for students to work in Esso Standard Oil's company station for the summer. It was located on Hillsborough Street just a few blocks from the college. I applied, was interviewed, and was accepted. Wow! Things were really looking up. From that point on, our financial problems were over. Esso allowed us to work the summer, and then continue, if we wished into the school year, working any hours we wished, even between classes. The summer went well, and we financed our first new car, a 1955 Ford, for $2000 to be paid off in two years. I worked six and one half days per week, and occasionally could get off to visit Mrs. Langley's in Nash County, or to visit my mother and stepfather, Baxter Haymore, in Grifton, near Kinston.
- I remember that at the beginning of each semester, I would roughly take myself in hand, saying: Now there is nothing else more important than school, hard work, perseverance, and studying. All else was forced into the background. That attitude and total focus worked well for me, and my grades began to improve. Now I was earning A's and B's regularly. I can remember that I was scared to death of calculus which began in my second year. Class was three days a week with a test each and every Tuesday afternoon. I dreaded it when each Tuesday was approaching. Even though I was making B's it didn't help remove the dread. But as the course was reaching the latter third of the semester, I was catching on better, and was actually enjoying the course, but not the weekly tests. The next most dreaded course was physics for the entire Sophomore year and thermodynamics in the Junior year. They were tough courses, but I was coming out with B's, and my overall college average was about 3.1 out of 4.0 good enough for the dean's list.
- The job with Esso and Carolyn's job at the college were doing well in supporting us. We really didn't have any financial problems from then until end of school. Steve was healthy and growing fast. He seemed to enjoy the nursery. We decided after the Sophomore year that, perhaps, we could survive without my working at Esso. So during the summer between the Junior and Senior years I got a job with Wright Machinery in Durham. Three of us students commuted every day. My job was drafting machinery parts. The school required that we make a trip to an industrial site to get a taste of what industry did. I chose to come to Nashville Tennessee (of all places), and visited the Ford Glass Company plant. A group of us students drove over, and we were housed in Vanderbilt Dormitories while touring Nashville.
- My Senior year was my easiest. I didn't have to work or study every spare moment when not in class. Carolyn was doing well in her job, and, in the Spring we began to seek interviews for our future job. In the last semester I began interview trips which included DuPont in Charleston, W.V., General Electric in Cincinnati (making jet engines), and an electronics company in Clearwater, Fl. On the flight down to Clearwater in a thunder storm we hit one terrible air pocket which threw all the contents of the racks on the floor. On that flight home, the weather when arriving in Atlanta was horrible. The weather report for North Carolina was tornadoes. Since I have a tendency to become air sick (this was before Dramamine) I decided to take the train to Raleigh, and went to the train station. The ten p.m. train wouldn't get me to Raleigh until ten a.m. next day. That was one hour after I was to take a final exam. So the train was out. Back to the airport. We took off right after a thunder storm passed. And to my surprise, we had a 100 mile per hour tail wind, a totally smooth flight and arrived in Raleigh 20 minutes early. What a relief!
- I had been asked to join two Honor Societies: Tau Beta Pi, a general scholarship society, and Pi Tau Sigma, a Mechanical Engineering Society. Tau Beta Pi had a banquet for the new members. Carolyn got a beautiful new black velvet dress for it, and she was elegant in it. We were on top of the world.
- Graduation came! After the struggle, what a joyous time. Mother and Baxter and some of Carolyn's family came to the ceremony. The future was bright, and my goal was to make $100 per week. What could we do with so much money?!
GENERAL ELECTRIC AND CINCINNATI
- I accepted a job with General Electric Co. in Cincinnati testing aircraft jet engines. We left for Cincinnati in June arriving there as the roses reached their peak. The world was beautiful and we had an exciting job and a bright future. The first priority was housing. We found a single floor, three bedroom house near Milford, Ohio to rent. It was quite a step up for any of our past homes, and we felt like we had arrived. Furthermore, my income was a bit more than $100/week and we soon found out what it cost to live is such a 'high class' neighborhood. The neighborhood was nice in a lower middle class category. I had a 20 mile drive to work in the commercial area of Evendale where the plant was located. The last two miles was in crawling traffic, and usually took about 45 to 50 minutes. My job consisted of supervising the assembly and testing of developmental jet engines. The purpose was to evaluate new engine components in long term testing. The primary testing I performed after building the engine was to subject the engine to 150 unbroken hours of running in a concrete test cell. During the test the engine would be put through paces similar to the rigors to be seen in actual operation in an airplane. We simulated takeoffs and landings with rapid accelerations on afterburner and decelerations, with long periods at cruising power levels. After completion of 150 hours, we would tear down the engine, observe the effects on the newly developed components, and write a report to the designers. We had several occasions when compressor or turbine blades would break off during the test and come flying through the outer skin, bouncing off the walls. Quite exciting in some cases. That kind of testing is what makes today's airliners safe, although we were primarily in the military engine market.
- I worked there over three years. During this period my mother and her husband, Baxter Haymore, moved to Palmetto, Florida. In Spring of 1962 she called one day and said that Baxter had died of kidney failure in the hospital. We were totally surprised, and took off for Florida. He was buried there close to their home. So mother was left alone in Palmetto. She had now lost two husbands.
- We decided to build a new house in the area near Milford. We got a quote on a three bedroom tri level with family room in the lower level for $12,000, and took it. It had 1800 square feet, and we were very happy with it with one exception: there was no water system in that suburban area, and everyone had a rainwater cistern under the garage floor. The water was collected from the roof and drained into the cistern. That would have been acceptable, except the roof shingles had a limestone surface, and the water was tainted with that residue. The taste was terrible, even though it was safe to drink. We had to ration our water use.
- About this time Carolyn was pregnant again with our second child, Linda. Things progressed well without complications and she was born on schedule in March, 1960. She was a beautiful baby too, and unquestionably, she had a mind of her own. Ten months later our third child, Laura arrived, and she was just as beautiful. Steve was now a four year old. The three got along well together, but having two babies in diapers in the house at once convinced Carolyn that there would be no more.
DUPONT KINSTON, N.C.
- One day there was a business downturn in jet engines, and there was danger of layoff. However, the space program was really beginning to heat up. This was in the early 1960's, and the country had just had some success in getting a missile off the ground without exploding. The Russians had put the first Sputnik into space in 1957, and the U.S. was in a panic to catch up with military missiles. There was talk of putting a man in orbit around the earth, and General Electric had a contract to build the first man carrying space capsule. That offered a good possibility of my continuing to have a job with GE, but the problem was that the job would be near Philadelphia, PA. I was very familiar with that area, and it wasn't a pleasant place to raise children. I began to seek other employment, and soon got an interview with DuPont for a job in a four year old Textile Fibers polyester plant near Kinston, N.C. So after 3 1/2 years in Cincinnati we moved again, this time to Kinston where we rented in Kinston until we could build a house.
- We chose to build in a new subdivision next to the Grifton Golf Club. We were the only house there on a street of unbroken trees. This three bedroom house with two baths and a carport cost $15,000 (outrageous!). We had piped in water, but no sewer system; instead there was a septic tank. To save money we decided to forego having the place landscaped, and I decided to remove some trees and level the ground for grass by hand, just a shovel and rake. I spent most of the next summer getting that yard ready for grass, and was probably in the best physical health either before or since. The exercise was great, and I actually put on a little weight, but still weighed only about 140 lbs. We had a happy life there and watched the children grow from babies to school age.
- Soon we received a check from General Electric which was for reimbursement of retirement funds which had accumulated with GE. We decided to buy a new travel trailer for $800. We took trips to the mountains, but mostly to Myrtle Beach where we parked it in the Ponderosa campground. It was located right on the beach, and we swam in the ocean every day. It was a great way to get away from the pressures of the job and give the kids some fun.
This life went on from 1962 to summer of 1967.
- One Thursday in November, 1963 I was working in the Dacron staple area on my new invention for making better tow, a bank of about 1 million fibers of polyester, when a friend approached and reported that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. I rushed to a radio and began to listen to the developments. Kennedy had been rushed to a Dallas hospital, but he was soon dead. Everyone was devastated. All we could do was watch television through the next two days as Vice President Johnson was sworn in and the body was flown back to Washington to lie in state in the capitol and be buried in Arlington Cemetery. The parade down Pennsylvania was to occur on Saturday. On Friday afternoon we suddenly decided to go to Washington to see this dramatic, historical, event; and to mourn with everyone else. We drove up in the afternoon and stayed overnight at my brother Al's house in Arlington, VA. Next day we arrived early on the curb of Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. The street was jam packed it's entire length; but we had a front row place to stand. About noon the body was carried past toward the capitol on the catafalque pulled by a team of six horses. Directly following was the ceremonial horse with empty saddle. I will never forget the deep throb of the base drum, the only sound from the parade or the crowd. The crowds were grieving deeply, and most, if not crying openly, were misty eyed with deep emotion. After the passing, the crowds broke up and headed for their cars and home, as did we. But it was many months before our emotions were healed.
DUPONT HAMM, GERMANY
- One day in 1966 the plant manager called me to his office and asked if I would like to transfer to Germany where DuPont was planning to build a polyester/nylon plant. Both Carolyn and I were getting a little tired of living in the small town of Grifton, and jumped at the chance. We would get a 25% increase in pay for overseas duty plus a cost of living adjustment to make up for the higher costs in Germany. This would give us a chance to get a little money ahead. In fact, I calculated that at the savings rate we could afford we would have $7000 saved at the end of our three year tour there. Essentially, we would be rich!
- For the next 10 months we prepared to depart. Carolyn and I enrolled in German language class with a tutor near home. We went two times a week for one hour for about six months. At least we built a little vocabulary and learned grammar and pronunciation. The excitement was building. At that time the new movie "Sound of Music" came out, and our anticipation was heightened by the beauty of Switzerland and the Alps mountains. My job during the period before acturally moving to Europe was to design training programs for the Germans brought here. I also would meet their plane in Philadelphia airport and accompany them to their training plant in Kinston and at the Old Hickory plant, near Nashville, TN. There was much traveling, and it was great fun. It was great fun to introduce our new German employees to the United States. We would drive from Philadelphia to Wilmington, DE, make them familiar with the DuPont company history, on to Washington for tours there. We stayed overnight once at the famous Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Then we flew on to Kinston. Most of the Germans spoke some English, but one I remember spoke none. We had much fun teaching him English. Since he was totally immersed in English every day, he learned rapidly, and in four months we had him partially fluent.
- In the last few weeks before departure Carolyn and I attended a Berlitz Language training school in Philadelphia. We flew up on Sunday, and this was Carolyn's first airplane flight. She was a little nervous, but it soon passed. The training technique was called total immersion, meaning that from morning to night, ten hours each day except the weekends we were allowed to speak no English with our tutors. We learned that our pre training had helped a little, but not much. We read from a book, or at least attempted to, with the tutor helping us through sign language to interpret what we were reading out loud. The first two weeks were very, very exhausting, and when the weekends arrived, we were glad for a break. One of those weekends, we were allowed to return to Rocky Mount, but flew back up on Sunday afternoon. The difficulty in learning a language is that one always translates in his mind from German to English to get an understanding. The technique Berlitz uses is to force feed in German until one stops translating. After about the end of week two of three, I suddenly began to understand what was being said without translating. That is the point they are attempting to get to. And one begins to respond in German without first thinking it out in English and then translating. After three weeks we felt we had the basics under control and were ready to be exposed to the German culture. The problem was that we now had about three weeks before we actually arrived. In that time we tended to forget much of what we had learned.
- As the day approached for departing, we all got our shots and our passports. Steve had to enter the hospital for a day for a hernia operation. We put the house up for sale and soon had a buyer. Our furniture was packed up in a container for transport. We wouldn't see it again for two to three months. Our house in Rhynern, near Hamm, Germany (also near Munster and 90 miles east of Dusseldorf) was still under construction, so we would have to live in a hotel for awhile after arrival. After the furniture was gone we moved in for about two weeks with Mrs. Langley (Carolyn's mother).
- We were allowed to travel by ship, first class, so we began to survey ship lines and ships. We chose to go on the Holland American Line's Rotterdam. Departure was to be from New York and would take seven days via a stop in Colb, Ireland, Southampton, England, Le Havre, France, and then up the English Channel to Rotterdam, Holland. On about August 15 we all flew to New York. This was the children's first flight also, but they took it in stride. We moved into the Americana Hotel in the center of town. The service was terrible. The baggage handlers were rude and were merely looking for a large tip. We had about ten suitcases so we had to have help in moving them all. When we got to our room there was no wash rag, and several other things were amiss. We were peeved before getting settled in. Then we decided to walk around the city with the children including riding the subway. This was a new experience for them and Carolyn. It was a scorching day, and we returned to the room hot and sweaty in our shorts and T shirts.
- There was a restaurant advertised in the room which was on the ground floor. It sounded from the ad to be a family type, informal restaurant, so we chose it. As we walked in the door a tuxedered matre de handed each of the females a long stem red rose and escorted us to our seat. Something didn't seem quite so informal after all. We were extremely uncomfortable, especially when noting that our plates contained an invitation card rather than a menu. The place was all but empty, but soon a violinist came to our table and began to serenade us. It was all very beautiful, but somehow we felt we had made a mistake. We noted in the invitation that the price was $10, which for that age was unheard of, even if we were on an expense account. After a few minutes of squirming Carolyn stated that we should leave. I heartily agreed. We rose and walked back to the maitre de, handed him our roses as we departed. He was very gracious and smiled a lot. I think he was laughing at us under his pleasant facade. As we left the violinist was still sawing away, but without his audience. So much for New York. But we hadn't had the worst of it yet.
- Next day after lunch we were ready to board the ship. The bell caps hauled all the baggage to the curb, and we hailed a taxi. Naturally the bell caps demanded their tips... about $.50 per bag. The taxi driver took off for the dock, very merry and talkative. Arriving, he moved the bags from trunk and car top to the curb and wanted $.50 per bag. I gave him $2.00 total which seemed sufficient to me for so little work. He said he wanted more, and I said that was all he was getting. Oh, was he angry. He stormed back into the cab and took off with all tires squealing, and cursing us in every breath. We all agreed that we had had enough of New York, and scurried up the gang plank. Now everything changed. The stewards moved our luggage to our room very graciously (no tip demanded), and the steward and all personnel were very gracious and helpful. What a change!
- We explored the ship, learning our way around. Departure was imminent, so we all gathered on the top deck to wave farewell to America. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and all the people on the dock waved a farewell as the ship's deep based horn sounded our departure, backing out into the Hudson River. The tugs soon departed, and, under its own power, the ship headed down the Hudson toward the Narrows, a narrow channel leading from the river harbor out into the Atlantic. We passed under the suspension bridge which spans the Narrows, and the ship seemed as if its mast would hit the bridge. Then we passed the Statue of Liberty, and there was a lump in everyone's throat as we watched it move out of sight. It was great to be an American, but we all looked forward to the adventures to come. Dinner was served in the first class dining room. The menu was fabulous, and we could have anything on it we wanted, including everything if that was our choice. It was a full course meal starting with soup, a salad, the main entree, fruit, and then dessert. The food and service was all outstanding. We had our own personal waiter for each meal, and he took good care of us. The dining room was exquisite with rich furnishings. The wine steward was available and offered us wine if we wanted it (we didn't). We soon finished, and moved to the rear deck where the musical extravaganza of the evening was ready to begin. It was a very good show, and we all enjoyed it immensely. By the end, we had moved out into the Atlantic, and we could begin to feel the movement of the ship as it plowed through the waves. Since I have a tendency to become sea sick, I stayed on Dramamine constantly, and felt great all the way across even though it became rough later in mid ocean. However, it was August and the Atlantic was relatively smooth. We all soon became accustomed to living like kings.
- One evening we left the girls in the room with Steve as baby sitter while we went to a late show. Half way through I went back to the room to check on them. Steve was sitting on the floor with his head on the side of the bed moaning that he didn't feel well at all. If it had been light enough in the room, I'm sure he would have been green. So I got him up and forced a Dramamine down him, and we took off for the promenade deck for some good fresh air. He soon recovered, and no further problem during the crossing. Another night we gathered on the rear deck for horse racing. It is a cross hatched square on the dance floor on which you move life sized horse head replicas on tall sticks from square to square as they call out numbers, similar to bingo. Every one in the room bet on a horse to cross the finish line first. We came in first place and won $40. Wow, this shipboard life was great!
- The main activity on these ships is eating. There is a full breakfast at 8 a.m., then bouillon on deck at 10. Lunch is at 12, a full meal; tea and crumpets at 4, dinner at 6 (another full meal), and midnight supper. At supper the table is decorated by statues made by carving complicated, beautiful, full size figures in ice. The food is actually served buffet style at midnight, and the choices are remarkable. All the dishes were decorated in beautiful, colorful arrangements. By the end of day two, we were all so sick of food, we didn't care if they fed us nothing else for the remainder of the crossing.
- We had two swimming pools, one on the rear deck, and another in the lower deck well below the water line. In both cases the water sloshed around with every roll or dip of the ship. On rough days the pools were emptied to avoid the pool emptying itself all over the deck. It was salt water right from the ocean, so a shower was required afterwards.
- One afternoon we went to see the movie Dr. Zhivago. It was a rough day, and as we sat in the semi darkness waiting for it to begin the curtains hiding the screen swayed from one side to the other. Just watching them was enough to make one seasick. But I was protected.
- Out in mid Atlantic the water was the deepest of deep blues... almost indigo. We enjoyed watching the porpoises in tandem roll out and into the sea in perfect unison with each other.
- After the first night out we arose for breakfast at 8 a.m. As we moved east the clock would be moved forward one hour each evening after bedtime. On the second morning we had to struggle to make it to breakfast for our scheduled time. The third morning we were late, and found ourselves staying up at night until well after midnight without being sleepy. Finally, we just skipped breakfast altogether, and retired about 2 a.m. Of course, as we moved east we were remaining unconsciously on Eastern U.S. time. Europe is about six hours ahead of U.S. time in winter and seven hours when on Daylight Savings time since Europe didn't practice moving the clock as the seasons change.
- Finally Colb, Ireland came into view, our first sight of a foreign port in Europe. The people on the dock dressed differently, and houses ashore were strange. The stop there was long enough to unload a few passengers and their baggage, and to take on some new passengers. Then we were off again, this time around Land's End, the most southwestern tip of England, and on to Southampton, a bustling port on the English Channel south of London. Leaving here we passed the Isle of Wight and out into the English Channel bound for Le Havre, France. The Channel has a reputation of being very rough, but our four hour crossing was smooth as glass.
- Soon the coast of France appeared. In fact we passed close to the famous beaches of World War II where the European invasion occurred by Allied forces on June 6, 1944. Viewing the cliffs it was hard to conceive how anyone could have made it ashore safely. Many didn't.
- Then we pulled into Le Havre and docked at the quay. We didn't know it but we would depart from this same port three years later to the day. The stay here was short, and soon we were back in the Channel moving north for Rotterdam, the largest port in Holland. We were in bed soon after leaving Le Havre, and when we awoke we were in port, and the ship was docking. Our voyage was over, and the adventures of Europe were awaiting us.
- DuPont had arranged for a friend of mine to drive down from Hamm to pick us up. We were soon on our way, and observing all the strange architecture of Holland. The country is very flat with many canals interweaving throughout. Holland is the most populous part of Europe, and people were everywhere. Within a short time we reached the German border where the officials examined our passports and waved us on. A couple hours later we were in Hamm. The hotel where we were to live for the next month was named the Reuter Hotel. Little English is spoken in this part of Germany, so we were going to have to rely on our bit of German. We checked in and to our total surprise were greeted by my Aunt Agnes Brannock in the lobby. She was traveling in Europe as she did every year, knew our arrival date, and had arranged to be there when we arrived. Small world! She stayed in Hamm for a about a week, and then went on her way.
- We were soon in company with many of our DuPont friends who arrived at about the same time as we did, and were also living in the hotel, too. I will never forget the introduction to the one person elevator. It was just large enough for one person and moved slowly among the three floors. Strangely, the ground floor was the Erde (earth) floor and floor 1 we would call floor 2. It was little differences like that which made life there so interesting.
- We were tired, and after dinner, retired. The beds had a sheet covering the mattress, but no sheet above that. Instead, there was a down quilt in a bag. It was wonderful to snuggle in during the winter, but this was August, and although we were at a latitude equal to Hudson's Bay in Canada, it was still a bit warm... about 85 degrees. We found that if we covered with the quilt we would be too hot, but as the night cooled down, we would be too cold without it. What to do? We finally found the answer. We slept comfortably with one leg in and one leg out.
- We had arrived near dark and had had little time to explore the surrounding city. We went to bed that Saturday night August 20, 1967, and slept well. At 7 a.m. next morning we were suddenly awakened with a start by the loud clanging of a church bell. The three children, who had rooms across the hall, and directly opposite the church came crying into our room. The bell had about scared them witless. That was our introduction to the church bells of Europe. I miss them to this day, they have such a pleasant sound... except on that particular morning when were not expecting them. We got up and decided to explore the city and practice our German. How strange everything was. We strolled down the block toward the Bahnhoff (train station), and decided to stop in for eis (ice cream). I asked the man behind the counter for funf (five) eis fur allis (for us all). He said "Funf oder Zehn?". I was immediately lost, not knowing what he was asking. Eventually I realized he was asking did we want the five or ten cent size. Well, we finally got it, but were deflated to realize we were no longer in the class room, and that people in real life don't necessarily speak in full sentences. That was our first introduction to the German language spoken by Germans. I realized I needed more training. After getting settled, I signed up for twice weekly conversational German training for the next six months. That is where I really learned the language, although I never became fluent because all the Americans used English at work and home, and the Germans used English at work.
- One very frustrating experience I had just after arrival was interviewing Germans for jobs at the plant. Most could speak English because they all had college education. Furthermore, since the war all Germans took English for many years from very early in their education. However, I had one candidate to interview who, for some reason, didn't speak any English. There I was, fresh in Germany with only a limited command of the language, and trying to interview this candidate in German. I didn't really know enough to ask questions about technical subjects. Although we hired him, it wasn't based on anything I contributed.
Another experience Carolyn had after being there about two years was an evening out with Carolyn's hair dresser and her husband. They spoke no English either, and we went bar hopping. Conversation was essential in such a situation, and we really struggled. We made out pretty well, but by the end of the evening we both were totally exhausted. Unless faced with such a situation, one cannot imagine how exhausting it is even though there is no physical exercise involved. The positive side is that we learned more German in that one evening than many weeks of study in a class room situation. This experience proves that the most valuable way to learn a language is to live in the society and have no crutch to lean on. Total immersion really works.
- Carolyn also used German quite often, but never in my presence. We had a putzfrau (cleaning woman) who came once per week. Carolyn talked to her over lunch, and got some good practice. Why she wouldn't speak German in front of me, I don't understand. She was quicker understanding than I was, but she would wait for me to respond.
- Our new house was finally completed after one month in the hotel. Although hotel living was good for awhile, we were really glad to get our own house. The house was actually quite large with first and second floors plus a full concrete attic, and basement. The houses the Germans build are expected to last for 300 years. They are all constructed of concrete block walls with concrete floors. Walls are all about 18 inches thick, even inside walls. We had living room, den, and three bedrooms plus a small kitchen and baths up and downstairs with tubs with showers. The shower heads were on the end of a tube instead of being installed in the wall. The toilets didn't have water in the bottom as in the States, but a solid bowl with outlet well in the front. We revisited the house in 1993 on a return trip at the twenty fifth anniversary of the plant opening, and it was in just as good shape as when we left it. I have no doubt that house will still be housing people in the twenty second century.
- Steve, Linda, and Laura were all in British schools run by the occupying forces in that part of North Germany. Therefore, they didn't have to use German, and their schoolmates and playmates were all English or American. One day the girls were playing dolls in the back room and paying no attention to us. We suddenly noticed that they were speaking British English, the most authentic British English you can imagine. We listened for a few minutes to make sure they were our girls, and then stuck our heads in the door. They cut it off immediately, switching back to American English. We begged them to do it again, but they refused, and have never repeated it in our presence since. Of course, they picked it up in school. Steve was, of course, in high school. He did well. The European schools were more advanced than American schools as we learned when we returned home. He was one full grade ahead even though we had been in Europe only three years. He played soccer and became quite good. Also the boys in his school played rugby as part of their sports curriculum, and he joined in, of course. He was never seriously hurt.
- I only got two weeks vacation a year at that stage of my career, so travel throughout Europe was difficult. Two of the three years we came to the States for vacation, but one we stayed there. The first year we took a week at Christmas and went skiing in St. Johann, Austria. This was the trip in which we all learned to ski except Carolyn. She had much trouble getting back on her feet after falling and gave it up after the first half day. However, she did learn, and did quite well about seven years after we returned to the States. The children picked up the skill without trouble. One evening we decided to take a brief trip over the mountain to another hotel where we had friends staying. We left after supper and drove over the pass and down into the next valley. We had a nice visit and started back over the pass about ten. It was still snowing lightly, and the drifts across the road were all manageable until we got to the pass. There was a pretty large drift, but, as before, we plowed into it expecting to bore through without trouble. But, suddenly we found the car resting on its bottom with the wheels totally buried. What a surprise! No one was hurt, but that car wasn't going anywhere without help. We crawled out, and, realizing we were closer to home than to the departure point, crawled up on the "drift". It was over 100 feet across, and then we realized it was an avalanche, not a drift. It had buried the road during our visit. There were full sized trees buried in the snow. The children were a bit disturbed, but we soothed them and started on our way on foot down the mountain road. Within a quarter mile a man in a pickup truck came along heading in the opposite direction. We informed him of the problem, and he agreed to take us on the St. Johann and our hotel. We arrived there, however, we realized we had to get our car. For some reason he took another road around the avalanche, and about midnight we arrived back at our car. In the meantime a snowplow had arrived and had the road all but clear, and our car was free. We crawled aboard and were soon back at our hotel and in bed. What an adventure!
- The next year we managed to return to Austria, stayed at a hotel near the slopes, and advanced a bit in our skill. On the last night of our last day, the girls came flying down the mountain, and ran over each other at the end of the run. We thought Linda's nose was broken, but she survived with only a bruised "schnooz".
- Since those days all of us became fairly good skiers, the children much better than Carolyn and me. The slopes are marked with colored signs depicting the run's difficulty. The easiest runs are the greens, blues are for intermediate, and blacks for advanced skiers. Super expert runs are yellow. Carolyn and I learned to handle the blues quite well, but the kids went on to the blacks. None of us reached yellow. If you could see the yellows it would make your skin crawl, especially if you are afraid of heights.
- After a full year in Germany we got an annual leave and came back to the States. That was the year 1968. The day before we arrived, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The black people rioted all over the U.S., but particularly in Washington, D.C. All the family landed at Dulles Airport and transferred by bus to National Airport to continue on south to North Carolina, from there to Palmetto, Florida to see Mother, back through Nashville on business at the Old Hickory plant, and then back to North Carolina to stay the remaining period at Mrs. Langley's. In the National airport terminal on our day of arrival, the smell of wood smoke permeated the entire terminal. The blacks in Washington had rioted and were burning down entire blocks, especially on Northeast Seventh Street. When we took off from National at mid afternoon of our arrival we flew near Seventh Street, and there we saw entire blocks in flames. We were depressed at what had happened to our country since our original departure. The entire country was in turmoil.
- We flew on to Rocky Mount, remained a few days, and then went on to Florida. The family then returned to Mrs. Langley's and I flew on to Nashville. The city had also had riots, and the National Guard was patrolling the streets in tanks. There was a sunset curfew. I did my business at Old Hickory, and then visited my sister, Julia Walker and her husband, Jim, who were stationed here during that year. He was flying as a pilot at Smyrna Air Force Base near Murfreesboro.
- At the end of our vacation, we flew back to Kennedy Airport in New York. When the plane took off about ten p.m. I was thankful to leave the turmoil which America had become, and return to the peace, order, and quiet of Germany and Europe. I was actually ashamed to be an American. That is just how bad things had become.
- My mother had arranged to return to Europe with us for a visit. All went well, and we arrived safely next day about noon. We were becoming intercontinental travelers. I took Mother on a tour around Hamm, and she was very impressed with the beauty of the landscape, and the cleanliness of the city and suburbs. Germans are well trained in maintaining the cleanliness of their cities. Central Hamm was about 75% destroyed by American bombers during the War. The city was a strategic railroad center, and the objective was to destroy the railroad junction, and thereby impede the movement of war materials to the Western front. Hamm was on the main line between Berlin and the Ruhr Valley industrial complex. Dortmund was only about 25 miles west of Hamm, and many war materials were manufactured there. So, Hamm was a very important center. By the time we arrived in 1967 the city had been completely rebuilt, but the old church across from the Hotel showed many scars of war. The church was hit by bombs and completely destroyed but had been rebuilt with the original stones making up its outside walls.
- While Mother was there we all took a trip to Berlin on a long weekend. Berlin was about six hours drive by car and was located in East Germany which was controlled by the Russians. Berlin itself was an island in this Russian controlled zone, and was governed jointly by the British, French, American, and Russian forces. Thus, Berlin was divided into four zones. To reach Berlin, we had to drive from West Germany across the border into East Germany, and then across another border into Berlin. When we arrived at the East German border, we had to go inside the control center, pass our passports through a hole like at a movie booth, get it stamped, change West German marks into East German marks at a terrible exchange rate for us, and hopefully get our passports back. We couldn't see into the booth, so all we saw was a hand taking our passports. Upon emerging from the building I looked north and south, and saw a 100 foot wide swath had been cleared through the forest in both directions. There were tanks traps and barbed wire separating the zones in an unbroken line right out of sight. The Russians were trying to keep East Germans from escaping to the West. There was a general feeling of depression and fear about the entire area.
- We drove on across East Germany. The autobahns there were still paved with stone just as they had been when built by Hitler in 1933 '35. No improvements and little maintenance had been done because the Russians had stolen most of the machinery and industrial materials from West Germany at the close of the war as reparation for the terrible destruction caused to Russia by the Germans during the war. This left East Germany, a once thriving part of the original Germany, a very poor country. When arriving in Berlin we saw that most of the total destruction of the city caused by Allied bombing had been repaired with new buildings, with one exception: the Reichstag. This was the site of the Nazi government during the war. It had not been rebuilt, and was a burnt out shell of a building. One other building had been left just as it had been after being destroyed, and that was a famous church at city center. It was not rebuilt to serve as a reminder of how terrible war can be.
- And then we saw the Berlin Wall built by the Russians to prevent its population from immigrating to the West. We went to the wall near the Brandenburg Gate which, before the war, was a memorial to previous wars in which Germany participated. When we arrived there, the Russian Wall cut right through the circle surrounding the Gate, thus placing the Gate in East Berlin and under Russian control. We mounted wooden platforms which had been built for spectators and looked across the open space of barbed wire and tank traps to an East German guard tower about 100 yards away. There was an East German soldier staring at us through his binoculars. We looked to the left and a short ways away on the East side was a dilapidated church, never restored after the war. Communism discouraged religion. People who practiced religion were persecuted, and, consequently, many churches were not maintained. There was no money, and many didn't want to risk their jobs by worshipping. We should never forget how privileged we are to have freedom of religion in this country.
- We went to one of the guarded 'checkpoints' through the wall from West to East Berlin. Relatives living on one side were not permitted to visit or talk to their kin by telephone on the other side. We saw a West German standing on a yard high box, looking through the gate and waving to one of their relatives on the East side. But, they could not yell at them or speak to them. It was all very sad.
- Next day we took a bus tour which included a tour through East Berlin. We approached famous Checkpoint Charlie, which was guarded by the American Army. Before passing through we were stopped at the border, an East German soldier came aboard and inspected our passports, giving us a suspicious eye. Another East German soldier pushed a mirror mounted horizontally on wheels under the bus all around to ensure no one was underneath. It was all very scary, and we felt our freedoms violated. Finally the bus moved on into the city. No one was allowed to dismount except at the chosen sightseeing stops in the pre planned tour. The streets were all but deserted. There were almost no cars, a few bicycles, and a few scattered people on the sidewalks. What a contrast to the bustling enterprise on the west side of the wall on the main shopping street, Kurfurstandahm Strasse. On one of the streets at the end of a streetcar line, there was an old pre war streetcar, rusty, paint peeling, few passengers, and the street almost deserted. How sad and depressing it was to live in East Germany at that time. I visited a public restroom while there and an East German who spoke English spoke to me in a very pleasant way, just making conversation. It was obvious he just wanted to talk to an American and sample a bit of what freedom was. He was pitiful.
- Our stops included a monument condemning fascism. At the entrance to the shrine were two East German soldiers at full attention, one on each side of the entrance. They were stock still with their rifles at parade rest, feet spread apart. I moved to within three feet of one of them and took a closeup photograph. He never blinked an eye or moved a muscle. We also visited an Egyptian museum, and a military cemetery where many Russian soldiers were buried, killed in taking Berlin during the closing weeks of the war. At the entrance was a Communist stature, a Russian soldier holding his machine gun in a threatening way. The Nazis were fighting a last stand, and the Russians were killing them without mercy. Both sides were fighting in a shell of demolished buildings.
- West Berlin at the time of our visit was booming because of the free enterprise system imposed at the end of the war by the Allies.
- Kurfurstandahm Strasse was beautiful with brightly colored signs all along its length. Everything was in perfect order. Free enterprise had changed complete destruction into a thriving, free city and society. In contrast, East Berlin was mostly just like it had been at the end of the war. The Russians had built many mass production apartments of very poor quality. On the east side of the Wall, we saw several ruins of Nazi ministerial building which were fire gutted and all but demolished. They had been this way for 22 years, with nothing done to restore them or tear them down. The saddest realization was that the energetic, resourceful, creative East German people had been, essentially, imprisoned for all those 22 years. Now, in 1996, we know that their imprisonment was to continue for another 26 years. Perhaps their condition was justified by their allowing Hitler to take their freedom from them back in the thirties. But, you say, perhaps the West Germans should have been punished likewise. The lesson to learn is that we should not empower any government to take away the freedoms which we are guaranteed by our constitution. It can be done in small, insignificant, steps, in a way which we hardly notice as being significant. Therefore, we should not allow any government to take even the first step to nullify our freedoms. With the wrong type of leader, with warped visions like Hitler's, it can lead to the tragedy which was World War II, the unnecessary war. The irony of that war is that the Allies could have stopped it in 1934 before Nazi Germany gained such power. But instead, we appeased Hitler until it was too late. Then it took all the free world to stop him.
- When our bus left East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie at the end of the day, our depression immediately lifted. We felt alive again instead existing in a sleeping city which was East Berlin. Twenty four years after our visit there Carolyn and I returned to Berlin after a trip to Hamm to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the startup of the DuPont plant. This time we came in from the eastern side after East Germany had been freed from the Soviet yoke in 1989. On this visit we went to the old site of the Berlin Wall to find that there was nothing there except a quarter mile wide swath of weeds north to south. In this open area was some rubble from the wall, but most of it had been salvaged for souvenirs and shipped piecemeal all over the world as relics of that terrible era.
- We returned to Hamm. Later we drove with Mother east to Dortmund, the industrial metropolis 30 miles away. We took the elevator to the tall tower there overlooking a beautiful garden, landscaped with winding walks. As we began our walk back to the car up a short hill, we noticed that Mother was very short of breath. That was when we began to realize that she was not in good health at all. Her age was catching up with her in the form of a weak heart. She had had a light heart attack in 1958, but had recovered.
- Later we all took a trip down the Rhine River autobahn, past Frankfurt, and into Basel just south of the border in Switzerland. We saw some of the most spectacular Alps mountains in the world. One road through the mountains into Northern Italy stands out in my mind. It was a winding mountain road just wide enough for two cars with mountain wall on one side and a precipitous drop on the other side. It was endless curves and tunnels. At the end of that afternoon we arrived in the small Italian town of Belzona, and felt we had seen the real Switzerland as I had always imagined it. But what a nerve wracking day it had been. After about two weeks visiting with us Mother returned to Florida.
- In 1969 we all took a trip with Bill and Sue Forehand to Brussels, Belgium and back home through Luxembourg and the Rhine River valley of Germany. When we arrived in Brussels we visited the main square in city center. Near the end of the day we decided to get a hotel. We went to one of the tourist aid centers and asked for help. They indicated there was a hotel a block away which should serve for the ten of us, and in our very low price range. When we arrived we found that we entered through the bar. This didn't look too good, especially since we had children with us. But the price was good and we didn't have money to pay for more. We checked in and went to the rooms. As soon as Carolyn sat on the bed in our room, the mattress and springs collapsed to the floor. Now we were really concerned. I went to the manager and asked for help in repairing the bed or giving us another room. He said "Tough!", they would repair it in the morning. And he was quite rude. There was nothing else to do but leave the mattress and springs on the floor. The night passed without further incident, but we were so disgusted by morning that we decided to feed the children breakfast in a really good restaurant. We found a beautiful hotel with dining room and had an excellent breakfast there, at a very reasonable price. Everyone's spirits rose accordingly. When we arrived back at work next day I asked my boss who was from Brussels, if he knew of the street and hotel where we spent the night. He laughed and said, "Yes, that was the center of the red light district!".
- In 1969 we teamed up with Bill and Sue Forehand, left the children with 'friends', and drove south to Switzerland and on into Italy. Bill and Sue have a habit of continual bickering with each other. Although they call each other names and appear to be angry, it passes with no hard feelings. I believe they do it just for fun, but they knew it would become tedious with us on this new trip, and they had secretly taken a vow not to bicker on our trip together. All was peaceful, and we commented to each other later and privately on how good their relations had become. It was so different from their usual relation with each other. It lasted no longer than upper Italy, and then the dam broke. Things were 'normal' after that. We passed through the St. Bernard pass between Germany and Switzerland. It was early Spring, but at that altitude the road at the pass was a twenty foot deep canyon cut by the snowplow. The lakes were still frozen over. In Germany we were sick of the winter, and we were looking forward to the Florida like climate of Italy this time of year. After passing through the pass and descending into Italy, the weather began to warm, and within an hour of the pass we were in the beautiful, warm weather of Italy. The palm trees were everywhere, and the sun was shining brightly. We shed our cold weather clothes and felt wonderful.
- We continued south on the autostrata (the name given by the Italians for the Interstate or autobahn), but by nightfall we realized we couldn't make our destination, Rome. So we pulled off the autostrata at a town named Orvieto. The town is located on top of a butte, the road winding up the side of the cliffs to the walled city on top. We learned it was a fortress in Roman times. It was late and very dark, few street lights. We came to the central square, and there was a beautiful, gold domed church. It was a beautiful spot, even though we couldn't see much of it in the dark. We found a hotel, and turned in. Next day, we strolled around the square and came across an old wine shop. We went in to look around. The family who owned it was very friendly, and, although we couldn't speak their language, or them, ours, we felt at home. We bought a small wine cask filled with wine made from grapes from the surrounding valley. We still have it on top of a cabinet at home. One family member was an old man in his seventies at least. He offered to take us into his wine cellar. We accepted, and descended down some narrow stairs into the cellar. The cellar was a long tunnel which extended well out under the square. It was filled with huge, round, wine barrels, perhaps five feet in diameter. There must have been 20 of these. Each had its own spigot, and he gave us a sample of wine from one. The old man was a bit frisky with the ladies, and he pinched Carolyn and Sue on the backside, the normal custom in Italy. We laughed and he laughed, and we had a great time. We thanked him and the family for a very memorable experience and departed from our new found friends.
- We left Orvieto and proceeded on to Rome, arriving at the height of the morning rush hour. And what a rush hour! The city has many traffic lanes and traffic circles where the traffic all trades lanes to takeoff in boulevards like spokes of a wheel. We unfortunately got in the center of the circle, and went round and round, unable to break through the ring of cars to the outside. One must use the horn to succeed, and be willing to scrape a few fenders to get through. We learned quickly, and eventually reached the outer traffic lane and escaped into a street, any street, just so we could escape. The traffic carried us along, so close that we couldn't find an opportunity to turn off onto a side street to get our bearings. Finally, however, we risked our life, turned into a side street and stopped. We finally found where we were on the map, and retraced our steps to the center of the city. Finding a parking place was difficult, but finally we found one on a backstreet. We locked the car, but passing pedestrians motioned with signs we interpreted to mean that we shouldn't leave all that luggage in the back of the car in full view. Obviously, Italy has a crime problem worse than we have in the States. We covered it up as best we could (it was a Record/Opal station wagon, not sold in the U.S.), and walked back to see the sights.
- The most impressive place was the Vatican. It is probably the most impressive building complex in Europe. The plaza is surrounded by out curving arms of columns as if the church is gathering in the multitudes. The stone of the columns is a light, rich pink color. Inside the church the floorplan is like a cross, with the central altar located where the arms cross. At one side is Michelangelo's stature of the Virgin mother holding the dead Christ just removed from the cross. This statue was in the open when we saw it, but later it was attacked by a demented person who damaged it with an ax. It was later enclosed in glass for its protection. We saw the famous balcony where the Pope makes his occasional pronouncements, and marveled at the huge central space within the plaza's arms where the thousands of worshipers and tourists gather to hear the words of the Pope. We spent the rest of the day exploring the center of Rome on foot until we were completely tired out.
- At darke we left Rome and proceeded along the western coast north toward Genoa. It was dark and the road was deserted. Suddenly, directly ahead was a road barrier. I jammed on brakes and stopped just in time. We were really disturbed realizing that we had barely escaped hitting the barrier. The consequences could have been devastating. We proceeded around the detour and into Civitavecchia where we found a hotel, had a genuine Italian meal with Italian wine, and went to bed. Next day we proceeded through the mountains of upper Italy into Sienna, and and on to Florence. Here we spent a short time in the most beautiful in Italy, but had to proceed for lack of time. We ended the day that evening in the lake country of northern Italy at the old city of Como where we spent the night. We had dinner on the plaza of an old castle overlooking Lake Como, one of the most beautiful places I can remember with the deep blue of the lake forming a panorama of the southern Alps in the distance. We had Cornish hens for dinner, and although they were good, I suffered that night and next day as we proceeded north. There was something about that meal which left me sick. But what a beautiful, romantic place it was.
- At about that time, we called home, and the kids told us that the baby sitters, who we knew, and who worked at the plant had been mistreating the children. They were very unhappy because of the tyrannical way they were treated. That ruined the rest of the trip for us, and we headed home at full speed. That was the last time we left the children with anyone while we were in Germany.
- In the winter of 1969-70 Carolyn, Bill and Sue Forehand, and I took a train trip to Paris. It was a package tour, and cost $40 for each of us for a four day visit including the train fare. Trains are cheap in Europe, and so were accommodations in Paris at that time. The trip took about six hours from Hamm. A bus picked us up in Paris and took us to a second class (perhaps, third class) hotel. It definitely was not a Hilton, and we were glad of that since we wanted the full flavor of Europe, and one doesn't get that at the Hilton. We were given a bus tour around the city, and saw most of the typical tourist attractions: Louvre Art Museum, Eiffel Tower (we went to the top), the Arc de Triumph, a wonderful small bistro just a block from the Arc de Triumph, and the famous topless musical on the main boulevard which we so often see in pictures of the Arc de Triumph. The show was all in good taste, and, really quite beautiful. I will never forget the late evening when we left that show and found there was no direct transportation back to our hotel. So we had no choice but to walk. The temperature must have been in the teens, and we had a hike of about one hour. But what fun!
- Next day, after the official tour was over, we had free time. So, we explored the subway system. There was a station just outside our hotel, and we got a map and began to move about the city. The subways of Paris are quite good, and definitely the fastest and cheapest way to move about. We took a rubber tired subway to Versailles Castle. It was built by Lous XIV before the French Revolution in 1795. We saw the hall there where the Peace treaty of World War I had been signed. It is called the Hall of Mirrors, and is easy to understand why it is so called.
- It was a wonderful trip, and we got a taste of train travel in Europe, so different from train travel in the U. S. The cars are divided into compartments, each with bench like seats facing each other. Actually, they were not very comfortable since they are non reclining. But there was a table which folded out from the wall for drinks, food, and card playing. Even second class cars have compartments, but they have vinyl seats, no doors to the compartments, and more noisy than first class.
- The summer before we were to return permanently to the United States Carolyn and I took a two week trip through southern Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and back home. Since we were alone we could travel and stop just when we pleased. Carolyn navigated and I did most of the driving. The most beautiful cities on the entire trip were Salsburg, Austria, and Florence, Italy. Salsburg is in a verdant valley on the southern edge of the Austrian Alps Mountains and close to the Yugoslavian border. It is a medium sized town and much of it is like it has been for centuries, located on a beautiful, clear fast flowing river. Old Town portion of the city is just fascinating to walk through. The streets are very narrow, and lined with small shops. The city square has a beautiful fountain. If you saw the movie "Sound of Music" you will see the square where the Germans entered to take over the town during World War II. There was an old restored castle overlooking the city and the surrounding countryside which we visited and had a coffee in the restaurant there. The balcony overlooking the verdant green valley and the mountains in the background were a sight to behold.
- Then we drove over the pass into Yugoslavia. The change was dramatic in that the roads were in very poor repair. The drive down the main highway southeast toward Zagreb required a full day, and the road was one big pothole. That was the longest seeming day of the entire trip. That evening we stopped in a nice hotel in Zagreb. When checking in at the desk the clerks were very rude and cold and were required to keep our passports overnight. That was uncomfortable feeling, because at the time this was a Communist country. Tito was the dictator. Nothing untoward happened, and we checked out without difficulty, reclained our passports, and proceeded on to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, the capitol city. We were running short on money, found a bank, and showed our American Express card to get more. From there we continued down the road toward Bulgaria.
- The next evening we spent the night in a medium sized town in southern Yugoslavia named Nis. The hotel was made predominantly of aluminum. Although it was clean, the quality of the architecture was very poor. In the evening we strolled the main street and discovered huge crowds walking up the street and then back down. They didn't seem to have any purpose, and we decided that there wasn't much else to do, so they walked to be sociable. As we left the next morning we parked the car for breakfast on the city square. Upon returning the car had been "washed" by some small children. I paid them what I would have paid in Germany, but they weren't satisfied and made threats as we pulled away. So much for Yugoslavia. We didn't leave with a very good impression. They seemed to be such an unhappy people, and the three year civil war 20 years later is not surprising to us.
- That day we crossed Bulgaria ending up in Sofia, the capital. The dome of the church in city center was a bright gold, and quite beautiful. Bulgaria was not a very attractive country at all, and we were glad to cross into Turkey the next day. Here a real navigating problem began. We followed the map, but all the directional signs were in the Greek alphabet. To locate where we were we would see a sign, try to memorize the symbols without being able to pronounce it, and then scramble to locate it on the roadmap. We would go for hours sometimes not knowing where we were. And then on into Istanbul, Turkey on the Bosporous, a water passage between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, and one of the most heavily used waterway for large ships in the world. Istanbul was a beautiful city and really quite interesting. The next day we visited the huge enclosed, covered, market place in city center. This is a several block enclosure under roof with passages like tunnels throughout. It was easy to get lost. Hundreds of small shops opened onto the side passageways selling anything and everything one can imagine. As we entered a well dressed young man approached us and asked if he could show us around inside. We didn't object, although we were a bit wary. He spoke good English, and turned out to be a good escort. He didn't ask for money, but seemed just to be friendly. As the day ended we invited him to have dinner with us. He recommended a restaurant overlooking the Bosporous which specialized in seafood. So we picked him up later at his apartment and had a very interesting evening together. We leaned that he worked at a U.S. Air Force base near Istanbul where he had learned English. We separated without ever understanding his motive for befriending us. Several months later we received a letter from him explaining that he wanted to immigrate to the U.S. and was seeking a sponsor. We declined. He probably latched onto Americans daily seeking a sponsor, so perhaps he found one more generous than we were.
- The last day there we were hungry for something American so we had lunch at the Istanbul Hilton. It was like being back home. I remember I had some excellent lamb chops, something I had not had before or since. They were excellent.
- Leaving Istanbul we passed the crumbling walls of old Constantinople. Istanbul is the modern name for that ancient city. But the remains of the walls are still there. And then we traveled on into Greece. As we crossed the border at a bridge there were armed soldiers at each end. Greece and Turkey didn't have very good relations, and had been fighting over ownership of Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean, for years. Even today the question hasn't been settled. That night we stopped in Thessolonika, Greece. This city is the name of a chapter of the bible, and is one of the cities visited and Christianized by Paul in his travels. The Bible tells of his imprisonment there for a short period.
- Next night we reached Athens, Greece. Athens is a relatively modern city and is overlooked by the the ruins of ancient Greece's capitol. The Acropolis is a high, plateaued hill on which the many columned buildings were located. There is located the Parthenon of which the one in Nashville is an exact copy. We climbed the hill and explored the buildings with many other tourists. A unique thing about the Parthenon is that there are no absolutely straight lines in the architecture. For example, if you crouch down and look along the step edge which make up one side of the building, there is a very slight curve over the entire length and width of the building. All the columns had a gentle curve to them. The Greek architects who designed it must have been masters of mathematics to have designed and built such a building. Several of the buildings are constructed of stone blocks and fit so perfectly they have no mortar. Their joints are very thin grooves. Simply marvelous! The ruins have partially survived several thousand years even though earthquakes are common in that part of the world. But many of the columns have fallen and been scattered about the ruins.
- One chore we had in Athens was to buy assorted goods for friends back in Hamm. We found a shop with a very friendly owner who had many of the items such as brass vases, china, and other beautiful objects unique to Greece. After we did our shopping with him he insisted on taking us out to dinner that evening. He recommended a seafood place down near the harbor. We arrived and entered through the kitchen as was the custom. We gave our orders after looking over what type of seafood they had ready for preparation and cooking. We all chose broiled shrimp. When it arrived it was still in the complete shell, head and all. Our escort proceeded to eat his shrimp, shell and all. Boy, did it crunch! Well, they say when in Greece, do as the Greeks do. So I did the same thing. As I remember it, Carolyn peeled hers.
- At this point we discovered we had insufficient money to make it home. Luckily we had an American Express credit card and went to their offices for an advance. They were very careful, but eventually granted us sufficient money to get home. We endorse the commercial "Never leave home without it"! That was the second time it had carried us through a critical point on our journey.
- From Athens we passed through another city Christianized by Paul. It was the wicked city of Corinth. Corinth is located between mainland Greece and the large island jutting into the Mediterranean See on which the Peloponnisos Mountains are located. It is also far enough south that orange groves are everywhere. We stopped in the countryside at a farmhouse located in a grove and bought a half bushel of oranges. The people were very fearful of strangers. A little girl standing in the doorway refused to speak to us, perhaps because she understood no English. However, later down the road we approached a man with his donkey loaded with goods of some kind. We slowed down for a better look and he immediately turned his donkey off the road. He obviously didn't want anything to do with us. We drove on, and I noticed in my mirror that he then returned to the road and proceeded toward us again. We then realized that he was afraid, and that probable reason was that Greece at that time was ruled by a ruthless dictator. He probably did not want to chance a meeting from someone he considered dangerous.
- We proceeded through the rugged mountains to the seacoast on the opposite side of the large island. This was the Adriatic Sea, a small off shoot of the Mediterranean Sea. We proceeded up this coast, and toward evening we came to the small town of Olympia and spent the night there. Next morning we discovered that this was the original site of the Olympic Games help by the Greeks over 2000 years ago. As we explored the area we came across the excavated ruins of the original Olympia which had apparently been destroyed by an earthquake, abandoned for centuries, buried under 20 feet of soil, and then in the late 19th century, rediscovered and excavated. We went to the excavated Olympic stadium where the athletes performed.
- Rather than backtracking and returning to Athens to continue our course north and home, we decided to proceed to the seaside to the port of Patre. There we found a car ferry which, in 24 hours, would deliver us to the port city of Brindisi, Italy, across the Adriatic. This sounded like a good idea, so, we drove up the west coast of the island approaching Patre, the departure port. As mid day approached we were hungry. But is was Sunday and at this hour there were no restaurants open. But as we drove up the coast overlooking the blue Adriatic Sea, there was a restaurant right on the coast. He was closed when we knocked on the door, but when the owner saw were foreigners, he decided to open the place for us. He invited us in, and although we did not speak his language, he made us welcome. He invited us into the kitchen, and we selected what we would eat. It was fresh shrimp which he had caught right on the coast behind his restaurant. In due time he served us a wonderful meal. We were much taken with the hospitality of Greece, and him in particular. We expressed out thanks and left.
- As the sun set that day we drove to a mountain top overlooking the seaport to a series of ruins. The view was spectacular, and there, far below in the harbor waiting for us, was our ferry. It was time, so we proceeded to the ramp and drove on board. We were shown to our seats. They were on the enclosed upper deck, looking out of the windshield. The seats in this part of the ship were like aircraft chairs, except they didn't recline, and were very hard. The seats were lined up like in an airplane, except they stretched across the ship rather than back as in a plane. We settled in, and soon we cast off. The sea was calm as we left port and we were content. The trip would take 22 hours, so we settled in for a long ride. After leaving the harbor, the sea became rough. Later in the evening it was really rough, the wind was howling, and the waves were tremendous. This is the same sea which has a long history of wrecking ships. In fact it is the same sea in which Paul in the Bible was shipwrecked. I stepped out on deck late in the evening, and I have never seen the wind blow so hard. One couldn't remain outside for long. I thought how I would have hated to have been in Paul's boat in such a situation. Soon, I wasn't feeling so good. But my dramamine helped, and although I didn't feel very good and wanted to lay down, there was no place to do so. I wandered back into small, deserted lounge, found a couch and layed down. I felt better. But, then just as I was falling off to sleep, an attendant came through and ran me out. Back to the uncomfortable chair, and I finished out the night in misery. I drifted off into a drowse, and when I awoke, the sea was calm, and we were pulling into a port off the coast of Albania. The place was Corfu, another place mentioned in the bible, and we stopped there to unload a few passengers and take on others. I was feeling much better, and Carolyn and I had a nice breakfast in the restaurant overlooking the port. We soon cast off and proceeded to cross the Adriatic. The sea was still a bit rough, but by then I was used to it, and enjoyed the sunshine and deep blue water.
- Late in the afternoon we sailed into Brindisi on the eastern heel of Italy. We off loaded and headed up the eastern coast highway with Naples as our goal for the night. It was a longer drive than we anticipated, but around 10 p.m. we left the autostrata as we entered the outskirts of Naples. Every so often we would pass campfires on the shoulder of the road with young ladies standing beside the fires for warmth. We soon guessed they were prostitutes awaiting for customers. Our opinion of Naples dropped a peg. As the approached city center, it was very late, but we finally found an old but opulent hotel on the city square which appeared satisfactory. We checked in, but were told the only safe place for the car was in a secure parking garage about two blocks away. So we drove there, left the car, and walked back in the dark, deserted streets to the hotel. Soon after checking in, I realized I had left my camera in the car, and felt I must go back for it. I walked the two blocks, very uncomfortable, and expecting a mugger at any minute. But I got there safely and retrieved the camera. As I started to walk back, the attendant motioned that I shouldn't be on the street at that hour alone. So he drove me back in his car. I was very thankful.
- Next day we headed out from Naples bound for Rome and Florence. We had been to Rome on an earlier trip to Italy, and passed on through rapidly. By mid afternoon we were in Florence, the most beautiful city in Italy in my opinion. Florence has a beautiful, fast flowing, clear river though the center with centuries old bridges crossing it. One of these bridges is for pedestrians only, and there are shops all along it on both sides of the walk. We strolled about the city, including this bridge. I became interested in buying a leather attaché case of good quality, and this seemed a good place to find one. We soon found a beautiful black leather case and I bought it.
- Later in the day we went through a very historical museum there; and still later checked into a new, clean hotel overlooking the river, named the Mediterranean, at a price so low we couldn't believe it $13 a night. For dinner we found a very old, unique, basement restaurant and had, of course, spaghetti. How romantic! The next day we climbed to the top of the tower overlooking the dome of a famous church. It is the one you have probably seen in pictures, with white and green stone work in a pleasing pattern all the way to the top of the tower.
- Next day, we got the itch to get home, and headed up the autostrata. The Italians are extremely fast drivers. The rule of the road is that you must remain on the right of the four lane highway unless passing. When passing you must always use the turn signal, and passing on the right is forbidden, a rule in all of Europe.
- We were soon in sight of the Alps Mountains of Switzerland and passed through the St. Goddard Pass, into Zurich, and on to Basel on the border between Switzerland and Germany. From Basel we drove six hours on the autobahn near the Rhine River. It flows on to the Netherlands and the North Sea. We left it at Cologne, turned northeast through Dortmund, and were home thirty minutes later. It was the trip of a lifetime, and remains just as clear in my mind today as it was when we took it in early 1970. Now it was early summer, meaning that June 1970 was approaching. We knew that we soon would go home since my contract for overseas assignment ended on August 20 after three years in Europe.
- By this time Steve was 16 years old and was maturing rapidly. So were the other American kids, and all were accustomed to German living. We began to get second hand reports of rowdiness by the American children in local bars. These reports continued and we became concerned about Steve. We finally feared that Steve was headed for trouble, and we felt we must do something drastic to get his attention; that we didn't approve of the trend, and that, furthermore, he was too young, in our opinion, to be drinking beer in the local bars. We had never detected any drunkenness, but we were knowledgeable enough to know that with this continued practice he could be led into alcoholism later in life. So we made a decision which we felt was right. Steve, later, said he thought we over reacted, but he didn't have a teen age child then. As his children approach maturity and in the next years, he, perhaps, will understand our concerns and our 'over reaction'. We wrote his uncle Marvin Langley in Rocky Mount asking if he could use Steve on the farm since tobacco season was in progress. He replied to send him on. So, we packed Steve up, took him to Dusseldorf airport, and put him on a plane to America. By this action we removed him from the bad influence of his peers (in our opinion), and from the source of alcohol, at least for awhile. Steve was a good worker in the farm, and I believe he gained some experience which he has never forgotten; that hard work in unpleasant circumstances can make one seek something better, or at least less physically taxing, as farm work. When it became harvest time under the August sun Steve got right in there with the other workers, black and white, and put in a hard day's work. That was the report we got from Marvin. Needless to say, we were proud of him, just as we have been proud of him since he came into this world.
- But, this experience robbed him of another experience which I wish he could have had. In early August we learned that we were to be returned home by ship on the SS France, the largest remaining liner making trans Atlantic crossings excepting the Queen Elizabeth II. I went all the way to the plant manager to have Steve returned at our expense so he could go home by ship at their expense, but they refused since he was already in the States. We packed up and shipped all the furniture home including the '67 Volkswagen we had bought a year earlier. Incidentally, we had paid $700 for it, one year old. Before the ship was to depart on August 20, we lived in a hotel in Hamm. When the day finally arrived we were ready to go. We boarded a first class train in Hamm to Paris. While in our compartment we were joined by a Hispanic man. He could speak no English, and we could speak no Spanish or Portuguese. However, we both knew German, and had a most pleasant extended conversation. It was the last time for several years that I would get to practice my German. He was working in Germany and returning to Portugal where his family still resided. Many men of the Mediterannean countries had immigrated to Germany to work since Germany needed the workers, and the immigrants needed the good money for their families back home.
- We arrived at the Gare' train terminal in Paris, detrained and taxied to our hotel for an overnight rest. The train for Le Havre on the coast departed next morning. The ride from Paris on the train was strictly for SS France passengers. The two hour ride took us to the portside where we had first seen Europe proper three years previously. There was the ship tied up at the dock taking on passengers. We all went aboard, including our poodle, Perkins. She had been shipped on the train in a portable cage. She was housed in a stainless steel cage in the ship's kennel, and we took her for brief outings on the kennel deck during the crossing. It gave her a little exercise and fresh air. She was in beautiful form and in excellent health.
- The crossing was via South Hampton, England and took five days compared to seven days on the SS Rotterdam three years earlier. This ship was much faster than the Rotterdam. We had a first class cabin looking out on the boat deck. The ship was black from the main deck down, and white on the superstructure. It had black funnels, and most distinctly, the three funnels had 'wings' extending from the funnels near the top, protruding about twenty feet on each side. The wings are the trademark of that ship. I have seen pictures of it since it became a cruise ship, now painted all white, and never fail see the wings and to remember our voyage. It was a beautiful crossing, as are almost all late summer crossings in the North Atlantic. The most emotional moment was the last day as we pulled into New York harbor at dawn. We had gotten up early to be on deck, and arrived there just in time to see the brightly lit Statue of Liberty. Oh, how proud we were to be Americans, and how glad we were to be home again. We all had tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats as we passed the statue, just as countless other Americans and immigrants. We then knew how precious is our country, and how glad we were to be part of it. All of the rioting and turmoil of the previous year was forgotten. The wonderful thing about America is that wrongs like segregation can be corrected without civil war, even though time is required for the population to accept the change. It is said that a population really only changes as the old people who were raised to believe a one culture die off, and the new people who were born and raised under the new culture assimilate the change into their beliefs.
- The ship moved slowly up the Hudson River to the pier where we were to dock. The tug boats turned the ship slowly and ponderously and nudged the huge ship against the dock. The baggage was unloaded into the huge warehouse on the dock, and, after having our passports examined, the baggage was moved by conveyor to the street. There was complete turmoil there with taxi drivers honking and yelling for passengers. Our baggage had been damaged in the move from the dock, but we didn't care. It was loaded aboard a taxi and we headed for LaGuardia Airport. Late in the day we landed in Rocky Mount where were to remain for a short time, and our European adventure was over. And what an adventure it had been! Our horizons had been broadened significantly. Now, we and the children looked forward to being assimilated back into U.S. ways and customs. How strange it was. We had reverse culture shock, getting accustomed to our home country.
- We needed a car. We had sold our Opal Record car in Germany before departure, and the Volkswagen which had been shipped had not arrive in Baltimore yet. So we went car shopping in Nashville (NC), and bought a new Buick Le Sabre. After a few days of getting acquainted with the Langleys again, we headed West for Nashville (TN) and our new home. All the Americans in our European DuPont family from Nashville had nothing but good things to say about the place. That is why we had decided to choose Nashville for our next assignment with DuPont at the Old Hickory, TN plant. This choice was one of the most fortunate decisions we have made in our lives. We were ready to settle down and put down roots, and this was a good place to do it.
DUPONT NASHVILLE, TN
- Our first 'home' after arriving in Nashville was the Holiday Inn at Trinity Lane. We pulled into the parking lot after dark with all the children and the dog, Perkins. On the east side of the parking lot was a wall. Beyond the foot high wall was... nothingness, for about twenty feel straight down. Since it was dark we, and Perkins, couldn't see this fall into the vacant lot below. Perkins, who had been cooped up in the car all day, began to run off energy, sailed over that low wall, and disappeared. We got a flashlight, and there she was in the field below, unhurt. She seemed quite surprised, but we were thankful she wasn't hurt.
- We lived in the motel for one month because, after house hunting for a day, we came across 355 Cumberland Hills Drive in Madison, a house which was three fourths finished. It met our budget of $34,500, although barely. We had left a house in Grifton, NC three years earlier which cost $15,000 (about 1400 square feet), but the Nashville house was larger (about 2000 square feet), and inflation had occurred during our absence. Another change which was surprising was that cars all had air conditioning now. During the interval while the house was being finished we stayed in the motel and got the children in school in Goodlettesville. I, of course, went to work immediately in the Dacron Yarn plant.
- Steve had gained one whole year over the Goodlettesville curriculum by living in Germany and attending the British school. We decided he should not skip a grade, and he began the eleventh grade rather than move on directly into the twelfth. He had an easy year. Linda and Laura were, by now, in the third and second grade, respectively, and had little problem adjusting.
- At DuPont where I worked, the plant was making huge profits on yarn and staple Dacron, used in manufacture of all kinds of textile products. The yarns and staples were being continuously diversified into new end uses. Pressures for growth and expansion were great, and the plant capacity was increased by building additional, and more modern and faster spinning machines. The pressure on we who had to make these things happen was great, and the consequences on health was increased stress and high blood pressure, at least in my case. I developed almost daily headaches which begam between three and six a.m. I would wake up three and four times per week with a splitting headache, and no pain medicines helped. It was very difficult to get up each day and go to work under such conditions. I had switched to contact hard lenses, replacing the glasses I had worn for decades. And these lenses were not comfortable. They caused red eyes, and after use for only a few hours my vision became cloudy. This was before the days of soft, comfortable, long wear lenses. One day my eyes were very red, and I had severe pain in one eye. The visit to the ophthalmologist revealed that there was a small, white, growth of fatty material on the edge of the iris. The doctor immediately prescribed removing the contacts, and never using them again. That solved the problem.
- But my headaches continued, and a visit to a specialist diagnosed stress as the cause. But in my job as supervisor of a product development group there was no escape from the daily grind or the constant pain. Finally my supervisor took pity in my deteriorating situation, and gave me a new job as Senior Research Engineer. My problems eased, and soon I was deeply involved with a interplant team concentrating on implementing improved quality systems. Our team, made up of representatives from four polyester Dacron plants, met monthly in Wilmington, Delaware to plan the continuing steps for implementing these brand new systems at our individual plants. This effort took from 1976 to 1985, so my travel schedule was quite constant. At first we met in Wilmington, but later selected meeting places all over the Southeast. Since we didn't require a plant to do the planning we would quite often choose hotels for our meetings. One of the best choices was the Opryland Hotel where the surroundings and facilities were outstanding. Our nine year effort paid off, because by then these systems had been fully implemented throughout the DuPont company, and had resulted in significant savings in complaints and reduced costs; and we had regained our position in the market of first in quality.
- One January morning in 1973, I was working in my office when a colleague came in and said that a space shuttle had exploded when taking off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. We were devastated and very sad. The prestige of the U.S. took a plunge on that day and required several years to recover. The explosion which had occurred only two minutes after lift off was played repeatedly on television, an image which people of our generation will never forget. The problem with the shuttle was discovered after many months of study. There was a seal, or O ring, which was to seal the sections of the shuttle engine compartment. Because of the freezing temperatures at launch, this seal had failed to seal properly. At takeoff the flames from the engine escaped and ignited the huge, separate fuel tank attached to the shuttle. A further cause was management of the project. In the pressure to launch on time many safety precautions were by passed. The seal was questioned even before the launch, but since it had not failed in previous launches, it was assumed it would succeed this time. They were wrong! As a result the space effort was completely reorganized, and safety took an even higher priority. These changes paid off, because from then until now, 1997, there have been no further launch failures.
- During the seventies Steve, attended and graduated from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1976. He went to work in the Nashville area, so we saw him often. He soon found a wonderful wife, Martha Russell, from Memphis, TN. They were married in 1979.
- Also in the seventies Linda and Laura began college at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. After graduation they soon met their future husbands and were married.
- In 1973 Mother Harrell/Haymore's health continued to deteriorate. She was now 83 years old and still living in Palmetto, Florida, alone since the death of Baxter, her second husband, in 1962. She stated to me that she experienced a specific change in her competence and feeling of well being in 1982 when she believes she had a small stroke. We realized that something had to be done for her; she couldn't continue to live alone, and needed someone to help conduct her life. After much discussion among her children and others to what action to take, it was decided that my situation here in Nashville was probably the best move for her.
- Therefore, we proposed she sell her house in Florida and apply that money to an extension to our house in Madison, TN. She agreed immediately and we started the proceedings for the move. Her house sold with little problem, Carolyn and I went to Florida to help load a rental truck. We drove it to Nashville and she moved in with us until the extension could be built. She moved in and seemed quite satisfied with the new arrangement as were we. She fell in love with Carolyn for the care and assistance she provided. From 1973 to 1976 her health gradually deteriorated and had to be hospitalize several times. She was experiencing heart failure. She visited Julia in Texas in September, 1976, but didn't feel like remaining there for long. She returned to Nashville and realized her days were numbered. In October she entered the hostipal for the last time and died on October 26, 1976 and was buried next to her husband, Alfred Franklin Harrell in Pineview Cemetery in Rocky Mount, N.C.
- Late in the seventies Al Harrell, my brother who lived in Fairfax, VA. was diagnosed with lymph cancer. He had chemotherapy treatment and the disease went into remission. Four years later, in 1983, it returned. Chemotherapy treatment began again, but in about four months he had deteriorated until it was apparent he wouldn't make it. He died on April 20, 1983 and was buried along side his mother and father in Pineview Cemetery, also in Rocky Mount. Now there were only two of us left; Julia Walker, my sister, and myself.
- Within Dupont business had been so good in textile fibers that we found it hard to accept that things were changing. The synthetic fibers production was going international. Although we were selling large quantities of Dacron polyester fiber to the Chinese, they and many other countries were building their own production facilities, and our business was suffering. The slowing of the business continued into the eighties and Dupont soon realized that we had more production facilities than we needed to supply the market. Plans were made to shift our production to other more modern plants in Cape Fear, near Wilmington, N.C., and to Cooper River Plant near Charleston, S.C. Finally in 1985 the yarn plant in Old Hickory was closed; and one year later the staple plant closed. After 16 years at Old Hickory I was going to be transferred. I knew I would have a job, but the question was, where. In March, 1986 I got my answer; Seaford, Delaware at the oldest nylon plant in the world. In fact the first nylon was produced there in 1939, and it became the primary site for making nylon for parachutes in World War II. The original spinning position was memorialized and made a museum attraction. I wasn't very pleased with my new assignment, but it was better than no job at all. So we moved to Seaford.
DUPONT SEAFORD, DE
- Carolyn and I flew to Seaford in March and found a very nice house about two miles from the plant in one day. I went to work while Carolyn returned to Madison to arrange for selling the house there. It sold by June and we proceeded to move the furniture to Seaford. The town of about 25,000 was not a bad place to live. We attended the Methodist Church there and soon met some nice people who took us under their wing. Bridge, the card game, was quite popular there, and that, too, helped us fit into the community rapidly.
- At work things were progressing well, but the quality program which I was to intall, similar to the one in Old Hickory, began to run into barriers. The old ways of running the plant simply refused to give way to the new quality emphasis. I made little progress and I became quite discouraged. Our tour there gave us a good chance to explore the Eastern U.S. in more detail than the occasional trips we had taken in earlier years. We went skiing one winter in Vermont. Carolyn had learned to ski in earlier years on trips we had taken with a ski group in the Madison area to the Denver area, the Salt Lake City area, West Virginia, and also to Vermont. This time we went with a ski group from the DuPont plant who went every year. We drove, just the two of us, and met the group in Killington, VT. The skiing was great, but the temperature was below zero most of the week. As the week progressed we began to hear weather reports of a snow storm moving through the Seaford area. The depth was reported to be building, and when we decided to return home, it was reported at about six inches. The closer we got to Seaford the reports seemed to be more and more true. We stopped and bought a snow shovel just in case. Arriving on our street we found we couldn't get into our driveway with the buildup of over a foot. The snow shovel was put to work and after about one hour of shoveling, we finally got into the driveway and garage.
- While we lived in Seaford there were several chances for Linda, Steve, and Laura to visit with the children. Each, came up at least once and it was where Brandon learned to ride a bicycle. The same was true for Stephanie and Jessica. We made video movies of their many attempts until they got it right.
This dialog has come through my brother and apparently the last part has been chopped off. He is looking to see if he can find the rest. If we find it, I will remove this paragraph and finish the page. If this paragraph is still here you can assume we have not been able to find the remainder of the autobiography.