See http://www.thepetersonranch.com/IRAN.ppt#1 A slide show (quickie)
Most of the guys that took
the "A&P" class with me were interested, when someone found an ad
for aircraft people to travel, with their families, all expenses paid, and an
ample salary, to
The Officers Club
R.H.I.P.....A large percentage of the people hired were retired military. The Shah had allowed a large military(U.S.)presence to build, and there were so many perks, such as A.P.O. post office, Officer's Club, P.X., commissary, and too numerous to mention. The retirees were allowed to bring guests, and John and Irene Loper invited us to the O.C., where, on the first visit, we met an Iranian artist, (cartoonist) and we bought a couple of his works.
I had traveled around the
world with my dad, so I was better prepared to cope, than most. We moved from
King's Hotel to Hotel
I was enjoying all the challenges of the job, Like, trying to figure out how to teach my counterparts not to put gasoline in machines that run on JP4 or 5, and almost everything I learned in A&P class was useful to me now. We were trying to become accustomed to the strange taste of the food, and it seemed like everyone in the family had to get sick, one at a time, seemingly, never ending. There was a cafeteria at the jobsite, and you could get rice with a meat on the side, usually chicken, but a lot of times I wasn't sure what I was eating. I never did get sick, and it didn't take long to organize the shop so that we started to have a lot of free time on our hands. One of our tow vehicles,(a big powerful thing) had a lever to turn the back wheels the same as the steering wheel would turn the front. this enabled the driver to maneuver in and out of tight spots, and pretty soon, I had Iranians racing down the taxiways, sideways. It was low geared and wouldn't go faster than, maybe, 25 m.p.h., and I had nightmares about somebody rolling it over.
One of our machines broke, and it was "foreign" made. Ordering the parts was made ridiculous with red tape, and I told one of my superiors that I could make the parts if I had access to some machine shop equipment
There was no available equipment at Mehrabad airport, and the nearest accomodation was Doshan Tappeh, an army base, down one of those streets where you don't see much English.
I was escorted there and introduced to the man that ran the show, called "Ibrahimi", a middle aged man that probably had never met an American before, and had no knowledge of English. He pointed at the shop, and barked an order, and a blond haired, blue eyed Iranian appeared, and he apologized for his poor grasp of English,(not poor at all), and said his name was "Ahmadi", and he was at my service. We became very close friends, and I quickly began to pick up the language, simply because no one but Ahmadi spoke any English at all.
Had I been a faster learner,
I could have done some amazing things. A lot of the people there were
There was a foundry available, and I had a requisition to make a fixture for the hot section of the C-130 engine. It required a large casting, and because of the size of it, I decided it should be made from aluminum. It was so easy to get things done, in this shop. All I had to do was ask, and the item would, almost magically appear. Even an aluminum casting, made simpler by casting it solid, and recycling the material I bored out of the center of this thing, was enormously heavy, and had to be lifted by crane. It was transported to the largest lathe I had ever seen, so large that the carriage had an operator's seat mounted, and the distance between centers is like 40 feet. I could chuck up and turn down a tanker truck with this thing.
I taught them what a K.D.K. holder is, and built a set for them.
I made a lot of friends, and one of them, "Mahmood Zulfagri", invited me to his wedding. With Ahmadi by our side, Pam and I entered the building where the wedding was to be held.
We were immediately separated, and Pam was whisked off to be with the women, and Ahmadi, and Mahmood, and I joined the men. Mahmood's bride was beautiful, in white, and the ceremony was not unlike our own, with an "Imam" presiding. I could see the women, on a balcony across the room, and I haven't yet learned the strictness of sex segregation.
Back to work the next day with a hangover, few men partook of alcoholic beverage, but they made certain that I had plenty. Back to business as usual.
I.A.C.I. soon realizes that they need their own machine, and suddenly I become a purchasing agent. A site was selected,(a building), and the toolboxes, and the tools I purchased were assembled there.
My time is divided up between, manufacturing hard to get parts, and purchasing equipment for the shop, and setting up the new machines, which arrived on a daily basis. Next thing I know is that I.A.C.I. is hiring machinists, at twice my pay.
I go to check this out, and I get to deal with "Tim", my boss’ manager, an older fellow, that thinks it's his calling to teach young folks a few things. Unable to negotiate, I requested to return to the states, and after exactly one year, I am on my way home.
During the shift to Doshen Tappeh, we rented an apartment, almost right across the street from Hotel Victoria. It is a high ceiling,
marble mansion, cold and empty. I
only have a few things brought from the states. The few Americans that went
before us, has made a list of things that were unavailable, or extremely
expensive. Most of the things on the list were useless, or unnecessary, and the
only things that were useful were; a one gallon can of Kikkoman soy sauce, our
clothes, and my guitar, the one I bought in
Seeing the Sights
My best friend ever, Don Hill was more adventurous than most,(that's what I liked about him), and rather than rely on orange cabs, or busses, Don acquired an old Land Rover",
ratty looking, but in immaculate mechanical condition. He would bring Nancy, and Don-Ray to visit often, and we would load up our families, and drive around to see the sights.
An icon for
A lot of times, it would be
only Don and me, and we did some crazy things, not having women and children to
think about. We would cruise the "Hotel Strip", and there was always
a vendor there to get a little "pastod",
never considering the consequences of getting caught. Life was very liberal
with the "Shah" in power. I had been introduced to cannibis, during my last week at Boeing, when a friend
invited me to a pot party. I would love to have some weed, but I am told
there's none available. One of the guys, Leroy Walker, has some hash, and when
I try it, I realize that I have found a friend. Our driver from Imperial Taxi
says he can get some for me, and soon I have this lovely oval cake, made in
You could buy hard liquor, imported from everywhere, but each bottle had a wax seal with a government impression, and anything without was considered contraband. When we first got in country, I read in the paper how two dozen people died at a wedding reception, after drinking beverages composed of hard liquor, that had been diluted with isopropyl alcohol, by the grooms father, trying to save a few bucks.
The Muslims forbid the use of alcohol, but the loosening of strict adherence, allows the liberal minded, to imbibe, and the variety of liquor is as prolific, as the variety of country of origin of the people I meet every day. I have been introduced to a plethora of strange spirits, one of the unusual favorites being Uzo, and the other licorice flavored spirit of Greek origin, Anisette. I'm invited to parties at the Tehran Hilton, and Sheraton, and I meet princesses, and royalty from various countries. They all speak good English, and I am amazed that no one speaks Farsi. Every time I meet a native, they seem honored, that I learned a little of their language. It made my time soooooo smooth, and I enjoyed things, out of reach to everyone else. I can't emphasize that enough!
We discover the Tehran Steak House, and once or twice a week, we took the kids out for chateaubriand. The owner, an Armenian woman, shares her butcher, and we are privileged to buy cuts of meat, and good hamburger, from the same place she got all her meat from.
Faroushga, Bozorg, meaning "big store" was just up the street, and we could walk there in a matter of minutes. The ground floor was a grocery store, like a Safeway, where they carried more and more American products, everyday. The second floor, and the rest of the floors, all the way to the top, (8th I think), were like Sears, Mtgy. Wards, and Macys, featuring things imported from everywhere you could imagine.
The traffic is so ridiculous, it is impossible to describe. You have to see it yourself to get a good understanding and feel for the chaos. The first time we tried to cross the streer, we went with the light. It was rush hour. and the Intersection was blocked. Everyone was honking their horn, and inching forward. The pedestrians, (there was a lot), weaved in and out between the cars. Pam and I had the boys between us, holding their hands, and as I tried to wend my way through the spaces that came and went, Todd was so terrified that he just sat down. I had to pick him up, and carry him the rest of the way, across the street. Pam and Scott disappeared in the mess, and I didn't see her again 'till we got across. This became a daily thing, and from then on, Todd would pull my hand to lead me through traffic, and the boys became fearless.
Nixon came to visit, and the
parade went up
I don't remember how we found
out about it, but someone told us about a hunting lodge, in northern
We need to stop in the town
We get to the lodge, and check in. The cabins, and the lodge were so westernized, that I really felt comfortable, more so than for a long time. A good nights sleep, and we awaken to clear skies, and the sun coming up is pink and red, like something's on fire just below the horizon. The staff spoke excellent English, and they introduced us to "Bashir", a guide, somehow connected to the lodge. He led us from the dining area, where we had just finished a bacon and egg breakfast, and as we walked towards an algae covered body of water, he was reaching down and grabbing frogs. He motioned for us to do the same, and repeated the word, ghorbagheh, ghorbagheh, for frog, which I hadn't learned 'till now. We soon had our arms loaded with fishing gear and frogs, and we loaded everything in the 12 ft. skiff with a ten horse merc, and headed out across the lake? Mordab translates as "dead water". Does that mean swamp? Some of the research I have done lately, suggests that I use the word "lagoon", most likely correct. Anyway, we leave a wake, clear of algae, and Lance gets some awesome pictures. After a considerable time, we reach a place where a good size river flowed into the mordab, and Bashir steered the boat up stream. We met a lot of, similar boats, headed in the opposite direction, overloaded, with entire families on board, the gunnels, just inches above swamped. About a half mile upstream, Bashir landed us, and tied us off. We threw everything ashore, and Bashir proceeded to hook up a frog, and cast him about 25 ft. upstream and fed line 'till the sinker hit bottom. I'm a fisherman, and I was a close second to Bashir, and before I got my line in the water, Bashir landed a five pound catfish. We continued to land large catfish, until the sun burned us all to crisp.
http://www.petesmemories.com/slides.html shows slides taken by Lance.
We returned to the lodge, and Bashir filleted our fish, and the staff froze them for us. I tried to give some to Bashir, but he declined, explaining to me that , Muslims don't eat fish without scales. These were slippery skinned catfish, and we went back several more days, as we had a long weekend. We stockpiled fifty pounds of catfish fillets, and Bashir told us about the fish that he could eat, that resided in the mordab. He called it mahi-ordack, which translates as, "duck fish". I tried to picture what could he possibly be describing. I started to get a clue, when he suggested wire leaders, and Lance couldn't wait and he was already trolling with a spinner. As soon as it hit the water, there was a huge boil, and Lance's line went limp. I hit the water, and thinking I was hung up in the weeds and I hauled in 10 pounds of swamp grass, and a beautiful four pound pike, with a duck's bill, full of needle sharp teeth. Bashir said, "I'll take that one." We caught pike 'till it was almost dark, and Lance got some gorgeous pictures of two Iranian boys in a 10 ft. rowboat, one boy casting a circular net with weights on it's circumference, and the other boy, positioning the boat for a more productive haul. They called to us and came over to talk. I was the only one that could understand what they were saying, and when they spoke the "Rashti" dialect, I couldn't understand them either. They showed how the net worked, and just fooling around, they caught a species I wasn't familiar with and Bashir said, "That's the one everybody likes." I'll never forget the food at the lodge. We had a waiter in a tux, and he took our order. I ordered a sturgeon souffle that was so light and fluffy, with a delicate flavor, over rice, and to this day, I have to say, that was the most satisfying meal I had ever eaten.
I returned many times, each
time, with a different group, and always brought back a pile of fish. I
remember one trip, where we were still about 40 miles from the lodge and we
were with Chuck's boss, the little Texan with the fat wife, who used to say,
"If she ever need to haul ass, she'd have to make two trips", anyway,
it was just after sundown, and we were following an Iranian made car, and it
was obvious that the driver was falling asleep.
One time, during frog season,
we brought back 50 lbs. of dressed frog-legs, another thing Bashir said he
wouldn't eat, along with crawdads, and turtles. I tried all of those things,
but the only thing in abundance was catfish, pike, and some really huge frogs
that would be coveted in Calaveras county. After Pam
and the kids were gone, and I took one last trip up in my Ghian,
and I got stuck in the mud, after a rain, and I was driving out in open fields,
trying to find where Bashir lived. I took the back seat out, and made preps to
sleep, when these two river tramps showed up. I was cooking two turtles, which
tasted like mud, and dehydrated peas from the
It happened to be a good frog season, and this new guy I meet, wants to hang out. We had a communications problem, as he would not speak to me directly, and to simplify the language for me, he referred to himself in the third person. I tried to dazzle him with every word I ever learned, but he was unshakable, and we struggled to understand each other.
I finally find Bashir, and he takes me to his house, and I am shocked. Bashir lives in a mud hut, with dirt floors, and his family is huge, it looks like 4 daughters and 3 sons, with a babe in arms. I chide him for being 60, and virle, and the girls blush. They feed me, much to my chagrin, and I reluctantly spent the night, knowing that I had displaced, however many people shared the room, which I had to myself. I knew I would soon be headed back to the states, and I would probably never see him again, I took out gas money home, and gave him the rest, about 200 dollars worth, and that was a years salary for him, he wanted to kiss my feet, and the tears came to me and I said that his feet were the ones that needed to be kissed. I will always remember him and I wish he and I had been able to spend more time, alone together. This true friendship crossed all cultural barriers, and I will always treasure the memory of "Bashir", my friend.
Don and I make a trip to the
country west of
See all my photos from Iran at http://www.petesmemories.com/iran.html
See fishing trip slides at http://www.petesmemories.com/slides.html
When we tried to get closer to this, we see a village
It is a ghost town
with crumbling walls and an underground aquaduct,
and next to this reservoir, the only green in sight.
Back in town, everyone was trying to stay busy, and see the sights.
At work there was really nothing to do, except scramble for something better than what you were hired for.There were a lot of mid level and upper management positions available, and there was scrambling, and back stabbing, and level shifting as I.A.C.I. stabilized into a relatively well functioning organization. Don got a good job out of it all, and when I left country, I knew I would miss him.
Back at San Bdoo, one of the guys I worked with, Clint Withington, is disgusted with Tim, and soon he is back in
the states. He is plant superintendent for "Casings Western", and he
calls and asks me to work for him as plant manager, and machinist, so I uproot
my family and move to Hayward/San Leandro. The owner is an alcoholic of the
worst I have ever seen, and this job goes sour quickly, so I head back to Bdoo, and L.S.I. picks me up as machine shop foreman. This
time it's Bell Helicopter that’s hiring for
One of the guys I met there, Marvin Engle, had an Idea for a rotary engine, and in the process of doing research to understand the action, I invented a mechanical advantage engine, cultivated the Idea of water hydrolysis to produce hydrogen for fuel, by way of solar energy, (free fuel for everyone out of the garden hose), which met resistance in an oil producing country, resistance I am not at liberty to discuss to this day.
Marvin's engine required an elliptical cylinder bore, and I was challenged to find a way to bore an ellipse on the lathe. I have developed a really good relationship with my counterparts, Hassan Afrakhteh, and Hossein Ardakani. Hassan, is a college graduate, and has an engineering degree. I learned a lot of things from him. Language, math, customs, every thing I didn't know, Hassan knew. They took me to the movie theater, where I saw "Papillon". Popcorn was available, but roasted pumpkin seeds were most popular, so we ate salted pumpkin seeds, and Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen spoke Farsi.
We kept up with the few work
orders we would receive, and we had a lot of free time, so I got permission to
dismantle one of the Czeckoslavakian lathes, and
modify it to bore Marvin's engine block. When I finally get it to work, no one
can believe their eyes. What I did is so simple now with cnc
machinery, but at the time it was thought to be impossible. This started a
major feud between the manager and myself, and unable
to resolve the conflict, I was transferred to
Whole new Desert
I made several trips to the
We have been to the Bazaar in
every city we have visited. We have a collection of nick knacks, and goodies we
plan to carry back to the states with us. there are
carpets, a sheep hide area rug, ten feet in diameter. We have gem stones, and
some neat things of copper and brass; coffee tables, samavars,
fondue set, imitation, antique, armor, and weapons from the middle ages, gold
Pahlavi coins, Camel saddle bar stools, and all sorts of conversation pieces,
like cartoon art, and popular middle eastern posters. On one trip, I was lucky
enough to score several posters from "The Seventh Asian Games",
affectionately known to the crass, as raghead olympics. I also have my, now cracked guitar that Don
knocked off my marble mantle, onto my marble floor. This guitar has a story
that shows how truly small of a world that this is. I would, later, give that
very guitar to a young lady who was a cheerleader for my "Pop Warner"
team. It was her reward for learning a song that she asked me to teach her.
We also bought dirt bikes,
and there was such a variety of places to ride, that you never get tired of one
type of terrain. The only thing unavailable was sand dunes, and we made several
trips to western
One of the trips to Kashan, this giant native American, and his Iranian girlfriend went with us. We lost that big guy, and when I went back for him, I found him just getting back on his bike. He had made a jump, came down hard, and cut most of his upper lip off on the handlebars. We limped him back to camp where his girlfriend immediately became hysterical, and insisted that I accompany them to the hospital. When we get there the girl is unable to speak, and I become interpreter. We can only find a tribal doctor, of dubious degrees, and I explain how the accident happened, and what kind of first aid we required. The doctor? took him into an examining room, numbed his face, and proceeded to put about 200 stitches in his face.
My bike is a "C.Z."
400, and my experience riding with Jon Rogers is really valuable, and I am one
of the best riders around. Winter comes, and riding becomes more difficult, and
working conditions are miserable. I must sweep the snow off the helicopters
every day, and it is bitter cold, no way to get warm. Somehow we survive the
winter, and it is spring. Time to go bike riding, so the Westfalls, and the Petersons
head out to ride. The kids jumped out first, and by the time I was ready to get
out, Scott came at me, running with his arm dangling and flopping. I immediately
knew he had a compound fracture, and Nancy, and her nurses training, grabbed
him and wrapped his arm in a "Time Magazine" and we rushed him to the
hospital, where they reset his arm twice, and it still looks bad in the x-rays,
and he also has a double hernia (inguinal), so I decide to send him back to the
states. With my family gone, I fell into depression, compounded by my new
duties of crash recovery, including retrieving aircraft bodies,
and human ones as well.