Saturday, June 18, 2011


The shortest route between two points, is not always the easiest.
I'll call 1978 disintegration.  Near the first part of the year (I really don't remember) I got sick, very sick.  I lost quite a lot of weight, was short of breath, and coughed a lot.  In Seattle retired military can go to the U S Public Health Service Hospital free, so I went over there.  I had some kind of pneumonia that no one could identify.  Here's a hint - alcoholics can get "alcoholic pneumonia" at least that's what I've been told.  I was in that place for almost two months, they even had me spend a day at the Children's Hospital so I could be tested for Cystic Fibrosis.  Betty never bothered to visit, not a great surprise to me.  While is was there they asked if I drank, I used the word "copious" and I don't think they believed that I drank over a case of beer a day,  if they had believed me they might have had an inkling of what my condition was.
  When I got out of hospital, the "rope" company hired me back as a machine operator - not overly heavy work, on the night shift.  Why there was a night shift tells you how many people were doing Macrame, although they also sold to "factories" that used the stuff.
  On the home front: In August the whole thing collapsed, I won't go into detail because a lot of people would be embarrassed.  We dissolved the "thing", I went to the Greyhound Station and bought a one price for anywhere type of ticket, and after I was sober enough they let me on a bus.  I made it to Spokane and drank during the lay-over and had to wait for the next bus.  Do I need to tell you why?  I was "left behind" in Nebraska, Ohio, New York state, and Boston, it was a trip that turned out to be a little longer than planned.
  The first night back in Maine (Portland) I slept under the Copper Beech tree at the Portland Museum of Art, nice tree, especially at Christmas when the light every branch, all of them.  I took a room at a residential hotel, rooms with one central bathroom per floor, the Everett.  I got a job in South Portland at a company that made firefighting equipment for industrial use.  They sold a lot to countries in the Middle East for oil rigs.  Later in life I would live in the neighborhood, but I didn't know that yet.  Do I really need to tell you what happened next?  No, I didn't think so.

 In it, for the long haul

The Copper Beech tree.

The Everett

Friday, June 17, 2011


The view from the apartment, too bad there weren't more clear days.
  The downward spiral picks up speed.  Things were going to hell in a hand basket for most of the year.  I missed four days of work, without calling in, and was fired.  But, the bank hired me back, and actually gave me a promotion to supervisor of a part of my unit.  I was really trying to hold things together, and started going to AA meetings from time to time but I just wasn't ready to quit.  Booze puts one hell of a hold on some people.  Not everybody that drinks, even heavy drinkers, become addicted, but my brain is wired a little different I guess.  As the year end was approaching I was fired again (same reason).
  I answered an ad in the "help wanted" section of the paper for shipping and receiving at a plant that made Macrame Cord.  I had to take a 12 question test (really a diverse thing) there were questions about latch hooks, UPS, a bill of lading and knitting (I told you it was diverse).  I was the only one, up till then, that answered every question correctly (thanks Mom), but the job had been filled.  By the time I walked home, they were on the phone, they had "invented" a job for me.  It really wasn't a bad place to work, a lot of it I had done before, and since, and we got paid weekly, every single week I was there I got a five or ten cent raise in my hourly pay.  I guess they liked me.
A "lunchroom" near work

Broadway, my hangouts were on this street, in the buildings you can see in the photo

A trip "to the store" involved a walk from that odd shaped building, left edge center to the building on
the right with the small parking lot.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Downtown Seattle at night.
  It was July 20th, the Vietnam War had ended, the United States celebrated it's 200th birthday, and I was a civilian again.  We had decided that we would live in Seattle, drove over there, rented an apartment close to downtown and put Betty and the kids on a plane for Alaska.
  I worked at a temporary job for a chain of shoe stores, in their warehouse - it wasn't really how I wanted to earn a living.  After a month I found a job, and was hired by Seattle First National Bank in the computer center at Lake Union, also near downtown.  I worked in a unit called "Transit" meaning that bundles, or trays, of checks came and went.  When another bank, or the Federal Reserve sent those checks to us we sorted them out, and checked their list of what was there, to what we found; when there was a difference my unit found out what it was.  It sounds pretty easy, but on our busiest day we handled over seven million pieces (checks), it was on my birthday just before Christmas.
  I also found "drinking buddies" at work, in the neighborhood or in my favorite bar - I don't remember the name, but I was there almost every day.
  Betty and the kids came home in October, and Jeff was enrolled in his 7th school, he was in the sixth grade, with a few more schools and grades to go.  Life wasn't very happy for me or for Betty, I won't go into detail but two alcoholics don't make a happy couple, we were near the end.
Our apartment was this one on the third floor.
Boy you can find almost anything with Google Earth.

I worked in the white colored building next to the water(near the center), when banks in Alaska flew things down,
their seaplane land right there.  The ship in this photo belongs to NOAA, which had several in Seattle.

Part of the Pike Place Market, or Seattle Public Market - all sorts of produce and fish fresh off the farm, or sea;
and the prices were right too, it's crowded some days.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


The beach in Virginia Beach
  The year was kind of new when the Base Commanding Officer decided that the Supply Department would furnish the next Command Career Counselor, why I was the one that was picked is a mystery, at least to me.  So, off I went to the Naval Base, Norfolk Virginia (only a few miles) for one month of training, after which I joined Senior Chief Personal Man Phil Bullard as his assistant.  We worked in the office with the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Command his name was Rossen.

  As part of my job I talked to everyone on the base, base personnel as well as squadron people who were being discharged in the next 30 days, or so.  I did this all at once at the movie theater on base, sometimes as many as 80 people.  I told them about what the Navy offered, about VA benefits and Social Security, I also told them the benefits of staying in the Navy as a career.  My boss held a variety of meetings with individuals and groups about re-enlisting.  We had some success and some failures, I did help several people a month with their decision and/or choosing a school (Navy) to attend.  That was pretty much it - until the booze knew more than I did.
  I held one of the big sessions while I was, let's see, impaired.  I embarrassed myself, my boss and the Base Commander badly, it was a squadron commander who complained.  As a result I found myself gone for six weeks to the Naval Alcohol Rehabilitation Facility in Norfolk (commonly known in the Navy as Dry Dock).
  Following that treatment I only made it about three months before drinking again, and another incident (this one involved only me), the bosses got together to see what they could do - people had been "kicked out" of the Navy for the same thing.  My fortunate stars were at work!  I had about six weeks until I would be eligible to retire, so they moved me onto the base for a good portion of that, with specific orders not to drink. 
  The End (of a Navy career), and a long road trip later we (me, Betty, and two kids) were in Seattle Washington, Betty and the kids flew to Alaska, I "settled" in, or they hit the road and I hit the bars.  I found that there was no place to park a car, unless I was willing to walk a distance so I sold the car and relied on the buses, there was a bus stop right where we lived.  I got a job, good one too, at Seattle First National Bank (now part of Bank of America) at the computer center on Lake Union, I could walk there in less than half an hour or take the bus.  See you tomorrow for the rest.

Uniform Insignia - it's metal and worn over the right "pocket area". (the photo is life size)
We drove in the country a lot, depending on the drivers condition
My winter work uniform in 1975, I preferred the "old" uniform, but this was it now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Fuel efficiency 1974 style
  In January 1974 with Rhonda just a few months old, we loaded up the buggy and headed north, not very far north.  I received my last set of orders, for transfer, to the Naval Air Station Oceana at Virginia Beach Virginia, the Navy's east coast master jet base for the F-14 Tomcat (they were new then).
  We lived in brand new base housing, our first time in base housing, but now we had children of opposite sexes and could qualify.  600 brand new apartments, townhouse style, all with 3, 4, or 5 bedrooms, that means kids, and every one of them had white asphalt tile floors!  A moms nightmare right there.
  Initially I worked in the base Supply Department, my job was to take over the Rapid Response delivery pool.  8 milk truck type of trucks, 2 larger flattop trucks and drivers on temporary duty from the squadrons.  The performance of this unit had been "not so good"; delivery times were up to 1 hour and 23 minutes.  The man who had been in charge didn't treat his troops very well - you might say he was mean spirited.  I started to treat the crew as the valuable human resource they were and low and behold the delivery times were just over twenty minutes. 
  The senior enlisted man in the department was a Master Chief Petty Officer a native of New Hampshire, so when it snowed, just a little, he kept all of the people from New England and sent the rest home; no accidents and in all honesty not much driving.
  That job didn't last too long, a surprise job for me and a subject for tomorrow.
Some of the "important' residents (these are F-18's I think)
The base and the housing was on the Amphibious Base about where the "e" is in the word "Base", right near the beach.
The housing - click to enlarge - we lived on the second drive on the left, from the top.
That's a whole lot of families.

Monday, June 13, 2011


All in a row - back to Iceland
  Things were so so at home, at least Jeff was keeping his mother busy.  At work things were good, except for my right hand man, Santana, his wife had told him in Maryland that if he ever got orders to another "hick town" she'd leave - he got orders to the Test Center in China Lake California - in the Mojave Desert and a long ways from anywhere.  I know she went with him, and didn't hear about anything else.
  In late April I was back on the first plane to Keflavik, at least it was going to be a summer tour this time.  Wait! Is that a good thing?  When the sun comes up in June it's there for a long time, it dims down around 11:00PM, until maybe 1:00AM, we covered our windows with aluminum foil so we could sleep in the dark.  The deployment went smoothly right up until the end.  One plane and crew went to The Netherlands, they call an airfield a "fly base" (just thought you'd like to know).  One of my best friends went too, Ernie was an aircraft electrician, he got arrested on the way back, inspectors found a "brick" of hash-hesh on his person.  I never knew what happened to him, he was flown out of Iceland under armed escort, a sad end.  I had no idea he would do anything like that, maybe he thought he could make a quick buck, I don't know.
  Back home about the first of August, Betty was very pregnant, and it was hot!  She got addicted to walnuts!! I can't explain that either.  On September 25th out daughter, Rhonda, was born - not without a struggle.  When Betty went into labor we went to the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, they sent her home.  We went back a couple of hours later, they sent us to walk around the base - only a couple of miles.  When we got back they were ready, and so was she, Rhonda was born soon after.  They stayed in the hospital a couple of extra days because Betty had pneumonia, the extra days cost me almost ten dollars!
  The year ended peacefully.
Saint Augustine Beach, my personal favorite
Flowers in the summer - Iceland Poppies
Only the big middle building was there, when we were, it was new then

Sunday, June 12, 2011


A new, to us, home
  Almost as soon as the wheels touched the runway, so it seems, the push was on for the move from Maryland to Florida, it actually took about two months.  When I got back I tried to start the car, it was dead.  Betty didn't drive and the old clunker was gone, even the dipstick was rusty.  So I walked to the only car dealer in town (that sold new cars, Fords), I bought a used 1969 Ford Fairlane station wagon, thinking back it was huge, by today's standards, and it wasn't even the biggest that Ford made; gas was still under fifty cents a gallon.
  We rented a house this time, in a quiet bedroom community, it was pretty basic, 2 bedrooms and 1 bath; it heated (when need be) with a stationary kerosene heater, you had to buy five gallons at a time.  That summer I added an air conditioner.  The rent in 1973 was $110.00 a month.
  Things weren't going very well between us, but then it usually was kind of a struggle, marriage and booze don't mix, it's just like oil and water.
  Work wise the Squadron settled into it's new home in Jacksonville, a brand new hanger had been built, a six-sided building with one squadron in each section, and the permanent base maintenance department in the middle, it worked fine.  As the year ended we were getting ready to head back to Iceland in the spring, practice flights picked up the pace, and more parts were ordered, some hard to find.  That's how it was in 1972.
This is a good likeness of the car I bought, same color too.
Click to enlarge. That's the hanger, and look how many cars are in the parking lot at the bottom,
it was a very busy place, a few P3's are parked around the lot.
Click to enlarge the prices in 1972