Revised 2-20-2020 ( in order to preserve the original, see new version at http://www.petesmemories.com/autolifeedited.html)
A Life in the Good Old Days, An Autobiography
As I reminisce, often I have only a hazy recollection of certain things that transpired. No problem, right? Just ask somebody, right? Well, it's getting so there's no one left to ask. So, this is, not only a mental exercise, but, I'm hoping that, when the ones that follow me have questions, maybe this will answer them.
The following is my best recollection of events in my life. Some of you who read this will remember me telling a lot of these stories. Here they are again, with no imaginative embellishments, (intentional). Everyone's tired of hearing them. Maybe they will make a better read. My intention is not to entertain, but, as I write about each incident, memories flood back that I haven't thought about for years. This is as accurate as I can make it, by myself. If anyone has anything to add, or revise, it is entirely welcome. I don’t intend for the world to read this. It is written for my family, and the generations to follow, and is so dedicated.
This is the way I remember it.
I was born in
Since this writing, I have found a number of photos of grandpa Peterson.
A closer look>>>>>>>
I don't remember where we lived when I
was that young, but apparently, we spent some time in
I was two, or so…….
Here's a picture of the neighborhood in the early fifties.
Oakland in the 50s
Vanport Flood of 1948
When I was nearly three years old, my parents lost everything they owned, except the car, the clothes on our backs, and the picnic lunch mom packed, in the Vanport Flood of 1948. I don't remember being flooded out, and I don't remember having to live with other people, but I have memories of being poor, and a place in Washington, my neighbor playmates, Dickie, and Molly Gray, and one in Oregon, Gresham? During this time, we visited my "Granny", who had a house in Portland, Oregon. I remember it as being huge, and it was four stories, counting the basement. I remember falling down the rickety steps in the basement, and I remember sliding down two flights of stairs on Aunt Ethel's fur coat. My Aunt Elsie, whose husband had abandoned her, lived there with her daughter Janet.
We had get-togethers often, mostly for thanksgiving, when everyone would come, and Granny, and Elsie, with help from all of the other aunties, would prepare a magnificent feast, and all the aunts and uncles would sit at this incredibly long table (everybody fit), and us kids (cousins) would sit at the kid's table in the kitchen. My uncles, Bud and Roy would bag on each other (usually in fun), and keep everyone in stitches.
Bud and Roy in Grannie's orchard, house in background
Most of the times I remember there were really good, and the family got along good, and we went on outings together, and all the boy cousins had crushes on all the girl cousins, and we would fight over them, and show off in front of them.
I remember a story about a
neighbor that ran over himself with his own car. One of the gloomy times I
remember, was when my Uncle Max, aunt Ethel's husband, and
I got my first scrape (dad called it a strawberry), on my hand, and I had my first dream that I can remember, about a small plane crashing into the house, and I went outside the next morning, and there was a stain above the door where the plane had hit. I had a cork gun, and I figured out that it would shoot dirt, as well as corks, and dad broke it over his knee, when I shot my brother in the face. There was snow, and snowmen, and sleds,
and there was woods in the back, and we went exploring (mom and me) and we found a little zoo in the middle of nowhere. I was playing in the same woods with a little friend, and we found a bee hive. Naturally, we disturbed it, and the bees, (those big fuzzy bumblebees) chased us all the way home. Mom relished the opportunity to “whack” us with the broom.
I had a high chair that folded down, and I could scoot along the floor with it. I got a toy train for Christmas, and I had a wind up phonograph, in it's own little suitcase. Anyone that has seen the T.V. show "Pickers", folks, you are looking at the stuff I had as a child, like later in my life, I would have a huge comic book collection, and baseball cards that are priceless today, and we got GUM with the cards.
My dad was a civilian, working for the railroad retirement board, and I remember visiting his office downtown. I don't remember which town, but there was lots of big buildings, with glass doors. I remember hearing him say he needed to cash his $50 dollar paycheck, (a week?, two weeks?), and shortly after that, he re-enlisted. I think he had done O.C.S. for the Army/Air force. Soon after, we left on a ship, and were on our way "overseas", a military word.
The next thing I remembered was having to go get shots, (my favorite thing, when I was a little boy), and getting aboard the U.S.S. Mitchell, and being seasick for a week.
We arrived at Okinawa. It’s 1950. If I would have asked a few questions, this research project wouldn’t be such a horrible chore, looking through documents and records. I was unable (with my limited internet experience) to find the ship we were on, and I couldn’t find any records of what squadron, or what my dad’s job was, there. While doing research, I came across the web site of an old retired air force guy. He made the crossing the same time period, different vessel. His description of the trip fits my memory, exactly. Here’s what he wrote;
From: Terry Peterson [mailto:
Sent: Monday, December 27, 2010
I am Terry Peterson, son of Harold E. Peterson. My father was stationed in Okinawa in 1950. My mother and I traveled by boat/ship, and lived in a Quonset. I was very young, but I have many vivid memories of the mosquito netting, and the blackouts at night. I am writing a memoir, and I would like to gather as much accurate info as possible. It sounds like we may have made the crossing on the same ship, but I remember the name as the USS Mitchell, however her records do not coincide. How would I go about finding more information? Any help at all would be deeply appreciated.
Good morning Terry,
So you lived on the rock? Do you know when you arrived and when you left? Also; what outfit was your father a part of?
I left California at the end of May 1950 for a 3 week trip to Okinawa on the USS General Nelson M. Walker (a 3 stacker). The other troop ships were smaller 2 stackers (smoke stacks). It was the largest troop ship in the Pacific. We did not go by way of Hawaii as a lot of the troop ships did. On the way we got caught in the tail end of a typhoon. The waves were so huge that when the bow would dive in all three of the screws would be clear of the water. This caused the ship to shudder so hard that you thought that the rivets would start popping out. We arrived at Naha harbor on June 15th – just 10 days before the Korean War started.
I was Air Force and selected to stay at Naha with the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing (Air Installations Squadron). We had the F-80’s. My best friend was sent up to Kadena where they had the B-29’s.
If you haven’t already been to these sites you might want to:
Terry, if you have further questions that might jog this 81 year old mind just fire away.
Keith Carrollton, TX
and I replied
I think that you are correct. The other USS Mitchell that I found was scrapped in 1949, therefore it couldn’t have been the one. I was only five years old, and I went to kindergarten and first grade at the American school. I remember the trip, and the storm we hit seemed to last weeks, to a youngster. There were a lot of civilians aboard, and I don’t remember a lot of uniforms, I’m thinking you were mostly traveling with other troops.
I have a lot of memories, of our maids, Hatsuko, and Suzuko, (they hated steak, and preferred rice and fish), of the Habu and mongoose fights, and origami, and parades, and the music, and the strange smells, I remember a hamburger with Japanese mustard (hot), and a ginger ale (real ginger beer), and rain every day, and the beautiful beach with upside down, rusty, weapons carrier, left over from the war, and I could go on and on. It’s amazing to me how many memories I have. My dad went as 1st. lt. Peterson, and became captain, and I can still remember a lot of the names, as we followed a lot of those guys around the world.
I am delighted to hear from you. I hope you’ll stay in touch. Any little tidbits you have for me would be appreciated. I loved my dad, I just didn’t ask enough questions. It's good there is someone left to ask.
Thanks so much.
Happy Holidays to you.
End of correspondence
I have some memories of the quonset hut that we lived in.
I have created an “Okinawa page”. There are many photos and memories there. http://www.petesmemories.com/Okinawa.html
I remember huge elephant ear plants, and colorful lizards climbing on everything. I remember my parents visiting someone, and I was sent outside to play. There was a captured, Japanese, 50 caliber machine gun in the tree in this guy's back yard.
I managed to knock this enormous gun out of the tree, and it landed on my leg. I remember the base hospital, and the penicillin shots.
There were a lot of memories I can only write as they enter my thoughts, like our maids, and habu and mongoose fights,
and parades, and learning some Japanese at kindergarten, and first grade, and origami, and yen (I was given a pile of paper money to go to the movies, which cost a nickel to see.), and the beach, the beautiful beaches, the one we used to go to had an old war vehicle, upside down and rusting, a grim reminder to everyone but us kids, that a war had been fought right there, less than five years ago, and the beautiful seashells, and the crystal clear water, and the minnows, and the hermit crabs, and all the things that excite children. What a beautiful place it was, and then another boat ride (no seasickness this time), and we end up in Yuma. Be sure to look at “Okinawa page”. http://www.petesmemories.com/Okinawa.html
There are no elephant ears here. It's really hot, and after a summer outside, at 1301 15th street, my skin is so dark, I could be mistaken for many things. Armed with my Brownie camera,
is my front yard on
I set out to start my photo album. There are cactuses (cacti?), and lizards and horny toads and snakes, and swamp coolers built in towers with noisy waterfalls, I completed second through fifth grade, with Art Bell and Tim Painter, and baseball at recess, and falling off my bike in the loose sand, and dislocating my ring finger on my left hand.
Lee Hancock loved to catch me, walking to school, and he would beat the crap out of me. If I told my folks I was being bullied, they would say, “Hit him back”. That was their solution to that problem.
The first Halloween I remember was in Yuma. When I think about Halloween, it brings back memories of how America used to be, when it was safe to leave your house, and car and everything else, unlocked, and I had children of my own, before I ever heard that your kids aren't safe on Halloween. None of us kids ever got hit by a car, no one ever got an apple with a razor blade, and our parents sent us out alone because it was safe, and no one ever got raped, or murdered, or molested. My world was so sheltered, that I was unaware that anything bad ever happened, until, one day my folks were talking about the bus driver that took us to the base swimming pool every day during the summertime. Dad said he was suspected of raping and murdering one of the girls that rode the bus with us.
Back to Halloween........My folks got costumes for us, every year,
and they were made of paper and plastic, and we never heard of anyone catching fire.
We went out with our goody bags, and every year, we filled them so full, we had to go back home for a second bag. The folks were strict about eating three meals a day (everybody at the table, together), and we could only have a piece or two after a meal, where we cleaned our plate, and ate everything put before us, so our candy would last for months, and as the weeks went by, all the good stuff was gone until there was only candy corn, and cookie crumbs left.
We didn't know about cholesterol, and we ate bacon, and eggs, and hash browns, and toast, with real butter. My favorite was to deep fry white bread in bacon grease. If all the crap they say is true, I should have had a heart attack when I was 11. Nobody was fat except Dewey Beck. He lived down the street, and he had a brother my age, with whom I played nearly every day. David wasn't fat, and we teased Dewey about it until he started chasing us, and when he did catch us, he beat the crap out of us.
Here’s a picture taken at my tenth birthday party. I will say the names of some of the boys. I can’t remember which is which, except for a few. Some were neighbors, and some were classmates.
The first boy on the right, I think, is Chipper Bishop, a neighbor from down the street. The next boy is Robert Frith. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Macki paddled me for tickling him at school one day. My mom is in the background, holding my sister. My brother stands in front of her. The boys on the other side of the table, I don’t really remember, but there was a Tim Painter, neighbor, and David Beck (boy in scout uniform?), neighbor. The table hidden by the table cloth is Rockport Maple, the very table I am typing at today, fifty five years later.
In order to get us out of her
hair, we would swim at the officer's club pool, every day in the summer. We all
got to be excellent swimmers, and later in
and that occupied most of our summer.
Horseback riding was better in cooler weather,
and it was a really fun “something to do”,
so we could do that, year around.
One year, my cousin Wayne Matthews came to live with us.
He was our hero. He had been to reform
school (that's where we went to pick him up), and he was the biggest, and while
he was with us, he protected us from Dewey. We became like brothers (Wayne
still calls me "brother" to this day), and we played like brothers,
and fought like brothers, and tattled on each other like brothers, and we got
paddled every night, just like brothers. We went on vacation in
When we went to the beach, we
would visit grandma, in
In the fifties, my aunt Agnes, and her husband, Willard Pitney, lived with grandma in a small house. Willard was a cab driver, and he and Aunt Agnes were interested in lapidary. They had all the equipment to cut and polish gemstones. Later, in 1990, when dad passed, I inherited all the things they had accumulated over the years.
Agnes and Willard loved to fish, and
their favorite thing to do was to take a small boat out on
The irony. They both smoked and later they both died from cancer.
Grandma had T.V., and we
would watch "Howdy Doody" and "Cecil and Beanie".
Sometimes, grandma would come and stay with us at 1301,
In her later years, when she lost her house, she stayed in Antelope with my parents,
and Agnes and Willard moved to
Years later, in the 70s, when Pam and I were on vacation, driving down the west coast, we stopped and visited them. I got the grand tour of the shop, and Agnes made salmon patties for dinner. That's when we found out that Willard had lung cancer. He had been in an accident, and broke ribs, and punctured his lungs, and that is what they said caused it. It couldn't have been two packs a day for fifty years.
We thought Willard would pass first, But shortly after we saw them, Aunt Agnes passed away from colon cancer.
This is another time that I am really not sure what dad did for a living. I remember he flew a lot of different planes, and one of them was the C-119, the flying boxcar.
One time he landed a helicopter in our back yard, and gave rides. I was taking piano lessons, and I missed that trip.
In the back yard, there were these old boxes, like the ones used for cargo on trucks. Dad said they were refrigerator boxes. They had doors, which had fallen off years before, and they lay flat on the ground. The first time we lifted the door up (us kids), there were lizards and scorpions underneath. Every time the door lay quiet for a day or two, you could pick it up, and there would be a brand new adventure underneath. After I shot my brother in the face, I didn't think dad would ever buy me a gun, again. But I asked him anyway. I wanted a "Red Ryder" B-B gun, but instead, he got me another cork gun. This was a lever action, one pump air rifle that shot these hard little corks, about three eighths of an inch in diameter. I remember one time I shot at a fairly large, desert iguana, and the cork hit it in the head, and stunned it, and I ran over and captured it, before it regained it's senses. I got to be a really good shot with it, and I remember one day I had it cocked, and the lever was still up. I wondered what would happen if I pulled the trigger with the lever up. I pulled the trigger with my left forefinger, and the lever, under tremendous spring pressure, slammed down on my thumb. It cut me to the bone and up to that time, that was the worst injury I could remember, but I was afraid to tell my folks, 'cause it was a stupid thing I had done, and I hid the injury until it pretty much had healed. It left a scar you can still see, and I told everybody it was from a snake bite.
We also had archery stuff. I
was taking archery at school, and I was deadly with bow and arrow. One time,
Dale tied an arrow to a string, and the other end, he tied to the bow. He
stepped it off, very carefully, and one day when Dewey came over, and we were
fighting about something, and Dale stepped back, nocked an arrow, aimed at
Dewey, right in the face, and let go. When the arrow hit the end of the string,
it stopped, inches short of Dewey's nose, and he fainted, dead away. That was a
time, I laughed so hard, I will always remember it. We didn't have cell phones,
and television, so we played outside until dark everyday. We always had
something to do, and were usually so busy that we would get in trouble for not
getting in before dark. We drove my mother to distraction, and she got tired of
chasing us around the block with the broom, so she tacked a paper to the wall,
with our names on it, and every time we messed up, we got a mark on the paper,
which meant that when dad got home, we got a swat with a paddle (one of those
with a rubber ball on a long rubber band, band and ball removed). This was
little or no deterrent, and I remember being spanked almost every day of my
young life. When
Television was only new, and only the well to do had a set. We weren't well to do, therefore I didn't see much T.V. unless I went next door. Even in the '50s, I remember Walt Disney being on, and when I visited grandma, I could watch "Howdy Doody" and "Cecil and Beanie".
A move from
Dad was assigned to McClellan A.F.B., where he flew the RC121, also known as the pregnant camel.
One day one flew over the house with only one motor going, and it crashed in a field behind our house. It made a horrible explosion, and fire ball, I remember not knowing if my dad was on that plane or not.
My paper route gave me enough
money to pursue my new interest, model airplanes. I had so many different
models and different engines, and I really loved to play with my airplanes. I
remember my first crush, Cheryl Mancuso, and I took her to the county fair in
In the late 50s, she lived on the corner
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Sunshine to rain
When we moved from
The rain took some getting
used to, and before the housing boom started, there was an open field behind
the house, and one place, really close to the house, there was a huge puddle
that formed in a large low area, and when we got enough rain, that puddle
became a lake, to a twelve year old boy. I remember getting an old pallet, and
adding enough wood to it, until it floated. I pushed myself around that puddle,
and instantly I became the "Huck Finn" of
I don't remember ever not having something to do. I look at the kids now, and they have everything we had, in the way of sports, but they have so much more now, with the technology available, and all I ever hear is how there's nothing to do. We played sports, had chores, had pet rabbits, and my mom planted a garden in the back yard, and there was corn, and tomatoes, and I remember these colorful gourds that grew, and I remember a time my parents wanted to take a trip, and I was to stay with Lyons, and the first day there, I was rasseling with Craig, and I never knew when enough was enough, and I made him cry, and I felt so bad that I walked home, with the thought that I could survive 'till the folks returned, on vegetables from the garden. I was discovering how crappy raw corn tasted, when George Lyon showed up to take me back. He was such a genuinely fine person, he easily made me feel better, and I was glad to go.
We lived in that house the whole time we were here, and the first summer ended and all of a sudden I am in junior high school. I have a locker, and a home room teacher, and I have to go to different classrooms, a whole new experience, and one of my dad's fellow officers, has a daughter, and we spend time at the officers club swimming pool, and go to school together, and I am having my first real crush. I can't remember what Cheryl Mancuso looked like, but I remember that, to my taste, she was beautiful. Her older sister, Patricia, was our sitter (that's how I met Cheryl) and dad flew 121s with her dad, Captain Phillip Mancuso.
I remember we hadn't been here long, and it was nasty and rainy, and we were all in the house, having bible study. The planes landing at McClellan everyday, flew over the house often enough that we knew, pretty much what was going on, but on this particular day, this plane, with one engine smoking, and two more dying as he flew over the house, so low, we could see faces in the windows of the plane. We all ran out the back door, and the plane, (a 121), banked to the left, and as he turned, he disappeared from our sight. A short time later, there was a flash, and a cloud of smoke, and it took the sound, forever to get there, but when it did, it rattled the windows in the house. Dad was at work, and scheduled to fly that day, so we all thought that dad had just been killed. We waited an agonizingly long time to get the news, (the military is notorious for that), that everybody got off safely, with only one back injury that wasn't even caused by the crash.
A little growin' up
High school hits a sheltered child with a giant fist. I have two lock combinations to remember, 'cause I have gym class, and I am responsible for shoes, socks, jock, and shorts, and a clean t shirt to wear every day, and I have to get naked, and shower with a bunch of rowdy boys. I quickly discover that I am uncoordinated, and non athletic. Don Julio Junior High has a football stadium, complete with a bowl. It was about a quarter of a mile around the "bowl" and our coach, lacking a lot of imagination, had us run a lot of laps around the football field, and I am always last and constantly getting hollered at, my coach called me "Pete" and the nickname stuck, and I have never shaken it.
A major setback
I am really busy now. I have
chores and pets, and sports and airplanes, and now I have schoolwork, and
girls, and piano lessons, (yes I still take lessons, and will continue until
senior high), and a paper route that is growing every day. Somehow I survive,
and mercifully, summer comes again, and I get a break from schoolwork, but it
doesn't last and I am suddenly an eighth grader. I can't remember what caused
my world to collapse, but I think dad sold the house, because we moved to base
housing, (Iroquois court, can't remember number), and I am yanked out of junior
high, and returned to elementary school,(8th grade), and I remember having
horrible behavioral problems, and fights at school, and a feeling of complete
humiliation. this seems to last forever, but dad gets orders to go to
The trip to Newfoundland was an adventure in itself, as we drove across the United States, in order to pick up a new car, which dad had picked out, and found that if he picked it up in Detroit, he could save a ton of money, so the movers came and got our stuff, and we took off in our old car,(minus trailer, which was sold) and began a new adventure.
This part of the story needs its own chapter. http://www.petesmemories.com/newf.html
Next thing, we are headed for
Newfoundland. This was the cross country trip where we hit almost every state
we hadn't already seen. My dad had the idea to drive our old car to
We drove al the way to
All the places I had been so far couldn't prepare me for the weather change. We got there in late spring, and it was still really cold. I remember I couldn't wait to go fishing. I remember fishing off the pier, and the fishing was good. I was catching all different kinds of fish, and I remember when it was time to go, I was doing a little last minute trolling, and I fell off the pier, 20 feet, into 40 feet of icy water. I dropped my pole, and I didn't think I would ever stop sinking, but, eventually I did, and, being a strong swimmer, I quickly made my way to the surface. Dad wanted to jump in after me, but I assured him I was O.K. so he climbed down the pilings, and plucked me out of the water. Fishing and hunting were my favorite pastimes, and when I wasn't doing that, I had discovered girls, and I had a Newfoundlandish girl friend that I will always cherish her memory. Her name was Anita Cutler. I went through a few American girlfriends at the American school, also and of all the places I ever visited, I enjoyed my time here more than any other place. I had a job at the commissary, packing groceries, and I worked at the terminal as a bus boy, and short order cook. I spent a lot of time with the Cutler boys, Kerry and David. We went hiking, and hunting, and fishing and I learned to smoke roll your own, and Camels and Lucky strikes were ten cents a pack(90cents a carton), and driving on gravel roads, and snow drifts that would bury a two story building, and shoveling sidewalks, and sitting on the heater vent and letting it blow up my t-shirt, and learning to ski, and tobogganing, and the most fantastic teen club on planet earth, where "MA MOOSE" presided, and made sure that everybody that smoked had permission from their parents, and shooting pool, and playing the jukebox, when I hear certain tunes, it brings me back like it was yesterday, and letting the garden hose run over night, and making a skating rink where we played hockey, and practiced barrel jumping, and showing off for our girlfriends. This was truly the best time I can remember, I would love to visit there again.
C:\Documents and Settings\Pete\Desktop\autobiography\text\illusnewf.html
I devoted special pages to my time in
C:\Documents and Settings\Pete\Desktop\autobiography\text\sno.html
I stayed with the Ploegsma
family, and attended
I wasn't there long before dad bought a fifteen acre berry farm just outside Snohomish. I met the Schwartzmiller boys, and we started a band. I knew a drummer from Mt. Lake Terrace, named Bill Brammer. Chuck and Cathy, and that guy that owned the '49 Merc, lime green, and Dean had a '49 Packard whose trunk would hold all our instruments including the drum set, and I remember Lundeen’s, and Normana Hall in Everett, and gigs we got in other towns, I can't even remember their names.
And working at Buse mill, and going into the military, and coming back and getting married, and having two kids, and having itchy feet and can't stay in one place, and I am addicted to airplanes, so I hire on with Boeing, and that is the start of a roller coaster ride, I wouldn't change one thing, I had so many experiences, and made so many friends, and I really enjoyed my life.
Right to the Point
I have experienced many airplanes. Some for work, and some for play, and for the most part, I followed the jobs around the country, trying to find a place to settle.
Right out of high school, my
parents would like for me to find a job, and another place to live. There is a
rumor that my father has been considered for the position of Base Commander,
I would like to apply some of
my electronics training, so I hire on at United Control Corp. The only way to
get a foot in the door was to take a job in the mail room. Gene Hickok hired
me, and I was given security responsibilities, as plant locksmith, I was
responsible for all the locks and keys in the plant. I waited for an opening in
the plastics department, and when I got it, I met Dale Evans, who became my
friend, and we spent a lot of time together, until he talked me into buying a
When I started working for
Boeing, the only metal work experience I had was from high school metal shop.
My job title was Jig builder "D", which means trainee. My job was to cut
materials to accompany work orders for jig-builders on the floor. As soon as
there was an opening I requested a position in the jig shop, where I learned to
use precision optical measuring equipment. This was where I worked the majority
of my time there, but I took several cuts to stay on, until my seniority number
came up, and I took a job in
North American Rockwell, as
they were known, in the 60s,had a contract with Lockheed to build the master
model of the wing of the L-1011, so I got my first experience with plaster, and
model-making, and some experience with machine shop equipment. There was not
enough work to keep everyone busy, so I got a lesson in non-union politics.
After a few tries at local jobs, I learned about job shoppers, and Lear Siegler
Inc. was hiring in
Lear Siegler Inc. known as
L.S.I. was a non union shop, and a lot of the guys were aircraft mechanics in
I laugh every time I think about the inspector that owned a Luscombe 8-A, that the F.A.A. told him he couldn't fly it until he painted it. The aluminum was highly polished, and I could understand why he wanted it plain, but they insisted, so he painted it with a mop, with interior latex, slightly pigmented, pink. That was the ugliest airplane I have ever seen.
It was a good crew, and everybody got along really well. I learned fast, and soon I got far enough ahead, so that I could do some "G" jobs. I made everybody a set of tools, and my friend Jim Linkous has a set to this day. He opened his tool box for me, a few years back, and there they lay, polished, and neatly arranged. I had forgotten I even made them. I designed a lot of hydraulic, and pnudraulic devices, and I remember making a set of forks for David Burk's 440 B.S.A., custom extended forks. Dad got a Porta-power, and a hydraulic pump.
Sergeant Hefner told me about
a Kearney Trekker Die Sinker, that was in storage, and I could use if I would
like. It was like Christmas, opening that box, and inside was a cosmolene
covered treasure. I got my own special space, and got it set up and leveled,
and washed the greasy coating off. The spindle was mounted in a rotary
mechanism, graduated in degrees, and the spindle could be adjusted off center
with a hand crank, graduated in thousandths. This allowed the operator to cut a
radius without a rotary table mounted on the cross slides. I had a lot of fun
with it, and I made a die to cut laminated shim stock, for cargo tie-downs.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time
I spent in
There were lots of big pieces, and there were already scavengers, picking through the smaller pieces. We had a flatbed with a crane and we spent most of the daylight hours picking up large pieces, and loading them on our trucks. I left a lot of small stuff for the scavengers.
My next recovery was a mission that was kept under wraps. One of our Hueys had wandered close to the border of Iraq, and gotten shot down. I was asked to take sick leave from work, and a helicopter crew from Tehran picked me up at Mehrabad, and transported me, by Huey, to the crash landing site. As we approached the site, the craft started to shudder, and our pilot said, "Going down". He made an incredibly soft landing for having a crippled tail rotor. I proceeded to install a tail rotor drive shaft bearing, and one section of drive shaft in the bird we were to recover, and as soon as I checked to see if there was main rotor damage, and saw there was none, the two pilots, one Iranian, and one American made a quick test hover, and headed for home. I had the parts I needed to fix our bird, as I had brought an extra 42 degree gearbox. As I examined the damage, it became obvious that we had been shot down. There were several holes in the fuselage, and the pain I kept feeling in the back of my leg, was where a piece of structure, accelerated by a bullet strike, ripped the back of my leg, behind the knee. A bullet had struck the gearbox, and damaged the bearing, and the rest of the damage was not affecting safety of flight. When we got back to base, I insisted that Bell pay my family's way back, or I was leaving. I had already heard things from my Iranian friends that suggested tension in the relations between Iranian and Americans. The people Bell sent overseas were incompetent, and were failing in the mission of training, and even our most educated people fell way short of our counterparts, who were mostly college graduates, and had engineering degrees, and resented being taught by inbred, fourth grade dropouts, from Mineral Wells, Texas. I always felt safe before, but now I felt it was time to leave. The other problem was prescription drugs. I was able to get anything I wanted, and after a few crash recoveries, I was using drugs to sleep, then to wake up, then to sleep, in a non-ending cycle. It was time to go home.
When I first got back, we stayed with Ginger and Jon 'till we rented a place in the Hacienda Trailer Park. It was right on the end of the runway of Norton, and you could reach up and touch a C-141 as it was taking off or landing. I worked in Banning for the Deutsch Company, a company that makes plugs, and connectors, similar to "Cannon Plugs".
Banning-The Deutsch Company
The leak in the Olds 442, got
worse, after the
Before I took the Duetsch Co. job, I took a quick trip to Mexico to fulfill an income tax deduction requirement. The trip has it's own page.
After a year at Deutsch, during which time I had been in a dirt bike race in the desert, and I crashed several times, and injured my back, and dislocated my wrist. I didn't realize my wrist was dislocated, and a year later it wasn't any better, I found out the bone had died, and needed to be replaced, another example of good insurance, and I had a prosthetic wrist bone installed, I hooked up with Jim Linkous. He told me about the job at Miramar, and he recommended me, and I took the job. Jim did me a lot of harm, “just funnin’” with me, but this was one time that I really owe him. Getting back to work on airplanes really excited me, and I had a chance to work at Top Gun, the fighter weapons school that they made the movie about. I also got a chance to work on the F-5/T38 by Northrop, plus all of the latest, up to date aircraft designed for warfare..
Usually it’s my smokin’ hot temper that gets me a new job, but this time it was my reputation for my workmanship, and work ethic. It was nice to get out of the trailer park, and back on the flight line again. We rented a townhouse which we later bought, and we lived close to the beach, and Scripps Institute, where they have a fantastic aquarium, open to the public. We all really got into sports, and between the job, and coaching, all my spare time was spent.
For details, read (pow.html).
Top Gun was a glamorous job, and the employees were given ranks equivalent to a high level civil service ranking. We had Navy counterparts, with their own airplanes, and the mission was to fly imitation combat missions, with the F-5s acting as enemy fighters. The pilots were trained in evasive maneuvers, and offensive maneuvers, alike. We detached to several remote sites, bases such as the one in Yuma, and another in El Centro. When my blazin’ hot temper ended this job, I hired on at an electronics company in Escondido. I worked on well head locaters, combination of sonar and video, designed to operate at depth. I worked on the first helical scan, videotape recorder, and the first 3-D T.V. To read about this, see the Poway Page.
I worked on well head locaters, combination of sonar and video, designed to operate at depth. I worked on the first helical scan, videotape recorder, and the first 3-D T.V. To read about this, see the Poway Page.
I was to be the maintenance machinist for the Sony Television Factory. This was the year the "Trinitron" came out, and modifications and upgrades overloaded the three night shift machinists. I was to relieve that load, and in time we got caught up, and one of the Sony engineers and I opened our own machine shop in San Marcos. Things got off to a slow start, but Pam had a good job, and she took up the slack for a while.
Once things got rolling, we had more work than we could handle, and I was money ahead enough that I asked our neighboring cabinet shop (Greg) to make some custom furniture for me. I had a four piece bedroom set made, and a humongous corner speaker set, to go along with the new guitar and amp I bought at Orient Express from Omar the Indian. I made friends with Omar, and he found a beautiful box for my pipes and rolling papers. It was made of walnut, and was beautifully hand carved. I got all my rolling papers from him, and I probably could have gotten weed from him too, but I already had a good source.
During a slow period, I signed up for some classes at Palomar College. I signed up for chemistry, engineering graphics (look how we do that now), and astronomy. I met a guy in our complex that owned a printing company, and he got me into grinding and polishing telescope mirrors. I was working on a telescope when I was taking astronomy, and I got an A on its own merits, and I submitted my telescope for extra credit. My aging professor couldn't believe I had ground and polished my own mirror, but, when I told him I silvered it with "Brashears method", he gave the only A+ he had ever given. I was so proud.
Things got slow, and it was time to move on. One of my assistant coaches in Pop Warner, Gordon Browning, had a job for me to go to. The asphalt overlay of Lindburg Field was a challenge. I was assistant superintendent, and I was responsible for everything. The job involved coordinating dozens of trades, and hundreds of people. When we finished, the McKibbens were waiting for me.
Long walk on Short Pier
These guys got the most incredible contract imaginable. They were responsible for four different size supply pipes, all the construction, all the plumbing, all the demolition, and all the cleanup. There were four of us, and I had three bosses. The Mckibbens ran me in the dirt, and caused me gross exposure to asbestos. The E.P.A was either non-existent, or sleepy, because I have never heard of, to this day, any contamination incident, worse than that. I suffered with horrible bouts of pneumonia, and later, like six years later, one of the doctors said I was terminal. All the guys I worked with are gone, and I consider myself fortunate to be alive today.
When the McKibbens finished with me, Gordon took me back, and I helped him with the construction of several concrete tilt ups.
D.J. found me and asked me to come to Northrop as a technical publications analyst. Domingo Jaramillo was one of the original gang from L.S.I. at Norton. He was one of the guys that traveled to Iran. He wasn't there long before he got in a fight, and he punched a "rag-head" and within two days, he was deported and sent back home. I kept hearing about him over the years, especially when I was at Top Gun. Everybody said he was doing well, and was in tech pubs. I decided to try a desk job, simply because my validation responsibilities required me to travel.
I took the job, and commuted from Poway, until I found a house right across the street from my boss. I learned from this why that is not a good idea, and I looked for any excuse to move. All my Pop Warner friends came and helped me move to ave. H-13.
This was a nice house, and the back yard was concrete block walled, large, and very nice, and we lived there about two years. Pam had a job with a mortgage company, and I can feel us drifting apart.
My job required me to travel
to different areas, to experience the actual performance of the procedures in
the manuals. Most of the books I was responsible for, were for the RF-5, a
photo reconnaissance model of the same airplanes I had at
When it came time to validate the inertial navigation system maintenance, on the Morocco model, I was rewarded for my efforts with an actual trip to Morocco. This was a political move, because there was no necessity for an actual performance of the tasks. It was a confidential file, and I had to reinstate my security clearance. My job became dependant on a good relationship with the military inspection team. They had orders to scrutinize my work, and give final approval. D.J. had things he wanted to hide from the inspectors, and I already told everybody that I wanted a perfect set of books. Almost everything I asked for got done, but D.J. and I had a conflict of interests, and he barred me from the final buyoff. I tossed him my badge and walked off the job. It was finished, and those guys slipped through, those errors I fought so hard to fix. When I got home the phone was ringing, and it was Herb Umumoto, the supervisor of the writing staff, and he asked me to come back as a writer. I did, but relations were so strained, that Herb had to let me go.
I sat around for a while and played with Scott's Vic-20 until I was an expert in basic programming. Nancy Westfall told me that Lockheed was hiring, and I took the job, and I worked there until Pam left me. We were still having money problems, even though I was working twelve hours a day, seven days a week, and when I insisted on having an allowance, we drove it in the ditch. First we separated, then we got lawyers, and the fight was on. Pam had lost all respect for me for introducing Scott to cannabis, and at the time, I really didn’t blame her. I was abusing alcohol, and a lot of other things and going downhill fast.
The divorce took it's toll. I was devastated, and I walked around work all day, unable to work, or even concentrate at all. The guys supported me, and had I chosen to stay, I could have retired from Lockheed. I keep running into Pam and David, and it is so disturbing to me that when my parents asked me to come and stay with them for a while, I accepted.
I took out my frustrations on fifty yards of concrete, pouring a driveway for my folks. When I finished, I started looking for a job in the area. Read sac.html.
One of the temp agencies assigned me to Walden Fabrication, where I was to draft, and detail the parts for the Walnut Grove Water Pumping Station. Walden was a Native American, and he got most of the government jobs he bid for, just for that reason. While I was there, the shuttle Challenger crashed. I remember listening to the radio as I sat at my drafting table. When my drawings were caught up, I started doing other things. I did all the machine work, and Dave felt I was skilled enough to try some metal spraying. We did a lot of repairs for the shop next door, Haehn (Harrold?) Electric, and I ended up designing a metal building for them. The shop was broken into, and Dave started screaming at everybody, including me, and I gave notice.
My brother introduced me to a girl named Judy Milne. She had a prepubescent son, and we spent a lot of time together. One of our favorite things to do was to drive out to the river, drive down the levee, and spend the day drinking beer, and swimming. I remember Scott being with us. Must have been just before he went in the navy.
I was working for the cryogenic pump company by day, and spending all my free time with Judy. Lockheed called me back in December of '88, and I began a long distance relationship with Judy. We went to Tennessee in late July or early August, and I proposed, and she accepted. It was a convenience, more than anything, to get her some medical benefits, and put a man in Nathan's life. We married late August of 88, not "till death us do part" but, rather,"till it ain't fun no more" attitude.
My reputation stuck, and one of the guys I used to work with, Bill Karp, was now supervisor. He let me run his shop for the next two years. I went to Tennessee in August with Judy to visit her mother. When we came back, we got married in August of '88. When we got laid off in Feb. 90, C.D.I. was hiring, and I went to work at General Electric, at Mojave Airport.
I didn't have enough seniority to survive the layoff, and I was on the street again. When we got laid off in Feb. 90, C.D.I. was hiring, and I went to work at General Electric, and worked to October, when I got word my dad was ill. When he died, I took time off from work, and as soon as I got back, G.E. laid everybody off.
First I took a temp job in long beach, and I stayed there during the week, and came home on the weekends. this had a terrible effect on my marriage to Judy, and I quit, and took some time to spend with my mother, when my father passed away. I had already attempted a long distant job at Long Beach for McDonnell Douglas, and the long weeks away from Judy took their toll. The damage was done, and I didn’t see any way to save my marriage to Judy.
I took a job with Hewlett Packard, and worked there until G.E. called back. When I went back to G.E., I was asked to run the crew, which I did, until the excitement wore off the new job, and I no longer needed to put on a "show" for daytime management. I felt I could accomplish more at night, so I took half the crew, and went on night shift.
I went back to G.E., and I met Barbara through one of the other crew chiefs. She was with me until the job ended, and I went to work for Gordon Keck.
During this time, Barbara left, and Denise came to take her place. To read about the working career, go to (work.html). To see the airplanes I have flown, see (play.html).
We live together, and I work for Gordon until my health is so bad, I have to come home (Sac.).
Back to Sac.
This has been revised to send you to http://www.petesmemories.com/autosac.html
To read about airplanes I have flown, see http://www.petesmemories.com/autoplay.html
To read about the airplanes I have worked with, see http://www.petesmemories.com/autowork.html