Archive for August, 2009

The Story of Ferdinand the Bull (and Cattails)

August 30, 2009

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(Click photo to enlarge.)

(Click photo to enlarge.)

I’m on a mission to get through the posts about Oregon, but I couldn’t resist sidetracking again.

Jackson (our 3 1/3 year-old grandson) spent Friday night with us.  He went to “man breakfast” with Bill yesterday, where Jackson had his usual Hy-Vee fare:  blueberry pancakes and chocolate milk. more…


Oregon: Day #2 — Beer in Bend, Oregon (and Perry, Iowa)

August 27, 2009
IMG_2198 S.F. bottling

Scott Finneseth capping beer. (Click to enlarge.)

To read other posts about Bill’s, Jim Eaton’s and Scott Finneseth’s beer making adventures,  click on the “beer making” category at this blog’s home page.  For background information about Bill’s and my Oregon travels in July, click on the “travel” category. more…

Birthday (Aug. 18) Lunch with Mr. Spaulding

August 26, 2009

To quickly access the previous posts about Mr. Spaulding, click on his name in the list of categories on this blog’s home page.  Several former students, as well as Mr. Spaulding, commented at the bottom of “Where (and How) in the World is…..Mr. Spaulding?

* * * * *

Tuesday of last week, August 18th, 2009, was Mr. Spaulding’s 82nd birthday. He and I met for a birthday lunch at Ropa’s, the cafe in Rolfe, Iowa. We both knew Bill Winkleblack (from the class of ’73, as am I) would be joining us. We were pleasantly surprised when five more of Mr. Spaulding’s former high school science/math students, and a parent, came to Ropa’s specifically to spend time with Mr. Spaulding.

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On his birthday, Mr. Spaulding and me outside of the Bud Barn in Rolfe, Iowa. (Click photo to enlarge.)

It seemed surreal having lunch with Mr. Spaulding as a friend after being what I remember as pretty terrified of him in class.  (I was also very thankful for him when I took chemistry and physics at Iowa State!)

Later on the 18th, I mentioned to Mr. Spaulding that in my excitement I had forgotten a lot of what we all talked about at lunch.  He asked me if I had been sort of tongue-tied.  Yes, exactly.

In general, I know the group reminisced about science experiments, the chemistry room, explosives, the teachers lounge, slide rules, families, and other former students and teachers. Everything we said was good. (Well, except when all of us students could remember which teacher “taught” us by reading aloud, straight from the text book!)

Mr. Spaulding was so pleased that the eight of us spent time with him.  He wished he had emphatically expressed his thanks while we were all at Ropa’s. I told him I would pass along his heartfelt appreciation.

(In approximately two weeks, I’ll post more about Mr. Spaulding…most likely about explosives.)

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Webcam view of Smith’s Bay at West Lake Okoboji

August 24, 2009

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IMG_8662 Dry Dock Lounge 500In case you are interested…there is a webcam above the patio at the Dry Dock Lounge on West Lake Okoboji.

The photo at the left is taken from almost the same vantage point of the webcam…my camera being at the far left of the patio that is also visible in the lower part of the webcam’s view.

Click here to access the webcam image refreshing every ten seconds.  (Anyway, that’s what the web site says, but when I last looked, the latest image was from Friday, August 21st.)

Over the next few weeks I’ll include more information about Oregon, including more posts about Mr. Spaulding along the way.

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Big Bugs, Sculpture, and West Lake Okoboji

August 21, 2009

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This is the ant ("Ant #3 in the caption below) Katie and I first saw from Highway 86.  Notice its size in comparison to the car in the background at the far left.  Click photo to enlarge.

This is the ant Katie and I saw. (It is indicated as "Ant #3" in the middle photo's caption.) Notice its size in comparison to the car in the nearby background. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Earlier this month, Katie (our younger daughter) and I were in search of garage sales along the west side of West Lake Okoboji.  We didn’t have luck of the garage sale kind, but were lucky to accidentally see, from Highway 86, part of the “Big Bugs” exhibit.  Not knowing there was such an exhibit, I marveled at the hugeness and design of the ant sculpture, especially because it was out in the middle of nowhere. more…

Mr. Dave Spaulding: WW II — Part IV

August 19, 2009

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To understand the background for this post, it will be helpful if you first read (if you haven’t already), Part I, Part II and Part III.

The following is a continuation of Mr. Spaulding’s and my conversation this month about his military service.

* * * * *

L.:  Anything else about the Japanese prisoners [from 1946, when you guarded Japanese prisoners on Guam]?

Mr. S.:  Nothing unusual.  They were pretty docile, really.  They were a lot happier being prisoners than they were running around loose on the island.  There were still Japanese on the island that hadn’t surrendered yet.  In fact a friend and I were out scrounging for Japanese ammunition. I’d learn how to disarm it and take the explosives out and then I’d trade it off for someone’s beer ration.  We’d get back there in the hills sometimes.  One time this friend and I heard someone shooting and we wondered who was shooting at whom.  The bullets were kicking up dirt around and we just ran like the wind as fast as we could down the hill and found a hole and dove into it.  Then pretty soon there was a Jeep coming up from down below in the hills with a bunch of MPs in it.  They were ready to shoot anything that moved so we called out, stuck our heads out.  They wondered what we were shooting at.  We said we weren’t.  There must have been some of those wandering Japanese that hadn’t been captured yet.  Anyway, they didn’t get us.  We ran faster than the bullets, I think.  That’s the only time I ever got shot at.  That was enough to make me decide I didn’t care for it.

L.:  Did you ever shoot at anyone?

Mr. S.:  No.

L.:  When did you come home, back to the States?

Mr. S.:  In June of 1946.

L.:  How long were you in Guam?

Mr. S.:  About six months.  I know I was in Hawaii for Christmas of ’45 but after that I went to Guam so it must have been six months there.

L.:  Then June of 1946 was the end of your military service?

Mr. S.:  No.   We had a system, a point system, where you got so many points for each month of service, and points for this and that.  When you accumulated the necessary number of points, then you were eligible to be discharged.  I never knew how that system worked.

L.:  Obviously you got enough points.

Mr. S.:  Eventually, yes.  But I kicked around southern California from June ‘til August.  I was stationed at a camp outside…I’ve forgotten the name of it.  And not doing much of anything.  Going out on liberty and working the food canneries or going to San Francisco and raising Cain, keeping away from the shore patrol and so forth.

L.:  Since the war was over, why were there still Japanese prisoners?

Mr. S.:  They hadn’t been repatriated yet.  They hadn’t been turned over to the Japanese.  There were a lot of them.  There were probably several hundred Japanese prisoners on Guam.  There was still a bunch that weren’t prisoners that were roaming around free, hiding out in the jungle.

L.:  When were you officially done with the military?

Mr. S.:  On August 10th of 1946 I was discharged.  I got out about a week before I was nineteen.

L.:  So that means your birthday is coming up here.  What day is your birthday?

Mr. S.:  I don’t know.  I’ll have to look at your calendar.  Tuesday.

L.:  I mean, what date is your birthday?

Mr. S.:  I know what you mean.  August 18th.

L.:  So, you were officially out of the Navy on August 10th.  How much notice did you have before August 10th that you were going to be discharged on August 10th.

Mr. S.:  I can’t remember.  It couldn’t have been too long.

L.:  Is there anything about today’s military that you want to comment on, or maybe you are kind of private about that.

Mr. S.:  No.  I’m glad I’m not in there.  Things were a lot more relaxed when I was down on the island.  It is a lot more disciplined and organized now.  It didn’t get that way, I think, until several years after the war ended.

* * * * *

(In about a week I’ll post more about Mr. Spaulding, aiming to add a new post about him every week or every-other week. He and I both appreciate your interest. He also greatly appreciates hearing from his former students, their parents and his former co-workers, including when people provide “memories” or “what-I’m-up-to,” etc., comments on this blog.)

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Mr. Dave Spaulding: WW II — Part III

August 17, 2009

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To understand the background for this post, it will be helpful if you first read (if you haven’t already), Part I and Part II.

The following is a continuation of Mr. Spaulding’s and my conversation this month about his military service.  more...

* * * * *

L.:  Before you went into the military, were you well disciplined?

Mr. S.:  Not very much.  No.

L.:  Because you expected your students to be disciplined, which, I wish more people did, do you think you got a lot of that from the military?

Mr. S.:  I believe so.  Yes.  You had to, or else.

L.:  You went from boot camp back to Great Lakes.

Mr. S.:  Sometime in between there they had you taking aptitude tests to show what you might be good at.  I don’t know how they decided, but from Great Lakes they sent me to St. Louis to electrical school.  I must have had some sort of test that showed I was capable of that.

L.:  Do you remember when you went to electrical school?

David Spaulding, circa May, 1945, at the finish of electrical school. (Click photo to enlarge.)

David Spaulding, circa May, 1945, at the finish of electrical school. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Mr. S.:  It was from about January of ’45 ‘til about the end of May of ’45.  It was four months of electrical school.  After electrical school I was out in California at a camp waiting to be sent someplace. I stuck around there for, I don’t know, three or four months.  Then they finally decided they had a spot for me so they sent me to Hawaii.  Oahu.

L.:  So, you were shipped to Hawaii in about October of ’45?

Mr. S.:  I’d say about then.  I’d have to look someplace in my old Navy stuff. I had a little book of where I was and what ship and so forth.  When I was in Hawaii the Army Signal Corps was teaching us to climb telephone poles.  Spikes, leather belts and all that stuff.  We would walk up the side of a pole, digging the spikes in.  That had nothing to do with what I learned in electrical school.  That was just a waste of time for the service.

L.:  Were you in Hawaii waiting for what was next, and the next thing was Guam?

Mr. S.:  Yes, I know I was in Hawaii through Christmas and then I took a destroyer ride to Guam.  That was interesting, too.  Rough ride.  It was something like 3,500 miles from Hawaii to Guam on a rock-and-rolling destroyer.   It was almost enough to make you seasick.

L.:  I have in my notes that in Guam, you guarded the Japanese prisoners.

Mr. S.:  Right.

L.:  Were you ever afraid there?

Mr. S.:  Oh, apprehensive, maybe.  We had them working for us as prisoners.  There was one time I and another guy were working from a camp and they went down through the jungle.  They were cutting a trail through there to put in a series of poles for telephone lines.  Two of us were in charge of fifteen prisoners.  At about chow time at noon, we’d flip a coin to see who’d go back for a hot meal at the base.  The rest of us would eat K-rations.  That would leave one person there with a carbine and fifteen Japanese prisoners, machetes and axes and all sorts of things for clearing the jungle.  If they decided they wanted to do away with you, they’d have a pretty good chance because the .30 caliber carbine, that was a short rifle, only had fifteen rounds in a magazine.  You’d have to be a deadeye.

(Part IV will be posted Tuesday, August 18th, which is also Mr. Spaulding’s birthday, or Wednesday.  I’ll post more about Oregon later this week.)

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Mr. Dave Spaulding: WW II — Part II

August 15, 2009

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To understand the background for this post, it will be helpful if you first read (if you haven’t already), Part I.

The following is a continuation of Mr. Spaulding’s and my conversation this month about his military service.

* * * * *

Mr. S.:  One nice thing about it [Navy boot camp], though, is it was right on the Great Lakes so we got to get out there and fire 20 mm anti-aircraft canons, guns, at the airplanes that towed the big long targets behind them, the sleeves.  You got to fire at those.  That was a heck of a lot of fun.

Mr. S.:  I suppose they had multiple thousands in camp being trained at the time.  I don’t know how many.

L.:  You would fire a 20 mm canon?

Mr. S.:  Mm-hmm.  We had to get our practice, firing out over the lake.  We couldn’t fire any other direction because the brass shells, ammunition, were explosives.  They’d come down and hit and blow the heck out of things.  It worked pretty well on seagulls, too!  You’d get a flock of seagulls going along just when you were aiming and you’d make a few feathers fly. They didn’t like that very much.  And, neither did the seagulls.

Mr. S.:  They used the 20 mm anti-aircraft canons ordinarily aboard ships to shoot at planes.

L.:  So, firing over the lake was simulating firing over the ocean?

Mr. S.:  Right.  The range was such that they wouldn’t go clear across the lake.  It was twenty miles wide there or more.  Thirty, I don’t know.  They’d end up in the lake.

L.:  So, the 20 mm canon was an anti-aircraft canon.  So, then when you say an anti-aircraft canon, did you also call it a gun?

Mr. S.:  Well, a gun, (chuckle) the terms are kind of interchangeable.  They talk about big guns on a battleship.  That means a shell 18” in diameter weighing a couple of tons, or a ton, anyway.  And, that’s a gun.  A rifle is a gun.

L.:  So, the 20 mm canon…?

Mr. Sp.:  That’s the diameter of the projectile, the bullet part.  There are 25 mm in an inch, so 20 mm is not quite an inch in diameter.

L.:  When I think of a canon, I think of something huge that has huge ammunition.

Mr. S.:  No, there are all sorts.  These were mounted on a pedestal.  It wasn’t that big a gun, really.  And, it had a sort of cylindrical magazine that you put in the top of it.  I don’t know whether there were a hundred rounds in it or what, but it was fully automatic.  You’d just hold the lever down and, “bthhrrrrrringggg,” just shoot until you ran out.  It was lots of fun.

L.:  When you were in boot camp, that was one of the things you did for your practice.  You know how you said in boot camp it was sort of like they made you think you weren’t a real person?

Mr. S.:  You bet.  They ran you through.  They ran you through everything they could think of.  They’d put a tear gas mask on you, run you into a building full of tear gas, and part way through they’d make you take the mask off and find your way out.  Lots of fun things like that.

L.:  Did that scare you or did you just view it as a challenge?

Mr. S.:  No.  You just wanted to get the heck out of there because it burns.  It hurts your eyes.  It hurt to breathe.

L.:  When you were in the military, could you hardly wait to get out?  Or, was it the type of thing where you enjoyed being there?  Or was it like you didn’t enjoy it but you felt you were serving your country so you were glad to be there?

Mr. S.:  Oh, most of the time I would get along all right.  I liked being on a ship better than the island.  I did a lot of time on the island duty.

Mr. S.:  There was something else neat at boot camp.  If you were on the ship and the thing started to sink, the fires would be blazing flames.  So they made this great big pool and covered the surface with something, not gasoline but something less flammable, and light it and you had to jump off a tower into there and then come up and then swim, splashing the flames away from you.  You swam through it.  If you didn’t, you got the heck burnt out of you.  That was interesting.  They wanted to make sure you could survive if that happened to you.

L.:  Would you explain that again?

Mr. S.:  Ok.  If you’re in the water and it’s covered with fuel, it’s blazing.  You can’t just swim right through it, because you’d get burnt…your hands, your face, everything.  So you had to use one hand to splash it away at one side and then splash it away on the other side and fight your way through it so you could get out away from the flames.  The whole ocean wasn’t on fire.  Just a part where you might be.

L.:  Were you ever afraid for your life?

Mr. S.:  Not that I can remember.

L.:  How long were you in boot camp?

Mr. S.:  I think about three months.  Maybe it was only ten weeks.  Because I was out of there about Christmas time [of ‘44].

L.:  When you got out of boot camp, when and where did you go?

Mr. S.:  Back to the Great Lakes for a while.  That’s when you sat around and waited until they decided where to send you.

Mr. S.:  The best thing I learned about being in the service was discipline.  Doing what you’re told and when you’re told.  You don’t mess around.

(Part III will be posted on Monday, August 17th.  I’ll post more about Oregon in a week or so.)

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Mr. Dave Spaulding: WW II — Part I

August 14, 2009

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To understand the background for this post, it will be helpful if you first read (if you haven’t already), “Where (and How) in the World is…..Mr. Spaulding?!!!“ as well as another post about him.

The following conversation is from this month.   Mr. Spaulding was very patient with me, teaching me (as always) as I would exhibit my naivete about the military and World War II.

* * * * *

David Spaulding, circa May, 1945, St. Louis. (Click photo to enlarge.)

David Spaulding, circa May, 1945, St. Louis. (Click photo to enlarge.)

L.:  When were you in the military?

Mr. S.:  I graduated from high school when I was sixteen, not quite seventeen.  I had to kill time until my seventeenth birthday, which was in August of 1944.  [August 18th]  Then I enlisted in the Navy.

L.:  Why did you enlist?

Mr. S.:  Well, my brother was in the Navy and there was a war on.  Everybody I knew was going off to it.  I wasn’t going to sit around and do nothing.

L.:  When did you actually start in the Navy?

Mr. S.:  I enlisted in the Reserve.  I was going to enlist in the regular Navy.  This was in Des Moines.  In fact I had.  Then they said I’d have to pay my way home because I wasn’t getting paid right then.  I said, “I don’t have any money.  How am I going to get back from Des Moines?”  They said, “Well, we can put you in the Naval Reserve instead and then we’ll pay your way.  I said, “Fine. I’ll take it.”

L.:  Where was home at that time?

Mr. S.:  It was in Monona, Iowa.  But, the reason I would have to pay my way home from Des Moines was because I had initially enlisted in the regular Navy, which at the time was a minority enlistment.  You were in ‘til age 21.  I didn’t know that.  I was senseless.  When they switched me over to the Naval Reserve, so they could pay my way back home, I said, “That’s all right with me.”  A year or two later I realized what a lucky break that was, because otherwise I’d have been in the Navy until I was 21, like it or not.  But, since I was in the Naval Reserve, I got out so many months after the war ended.  That was a break.

L.:  When you enlisted, what was the minimum amount of time that you knew you would be in the Navy?

Mr. S.:  At the time in the regular Navy that would have been four years.  But I did not know it at the time.  They didn’t bother to inform me.  They were just happy to get me.

L.:  When you enlisted in the Naval Reserve, how long were you committing to?

Mr. S.:  Nothing definite.  It was just wait-until-the-war-was-over and see how long I’d have to stay afterward.  It was indeterminate.

Mr. S.:  Do you know how the United States acquired Guam?

L.:  Not well enough to explain it.

Mr. S.:  It was the result of the Spanish-American War after the U.S. kicked the Spanish out in, I don’t know, 1898, something like that.  Anyway, the U.S. won the Spanish-American War.  Part of the spoils of the war from Spain was the Philippines and Guam.  I’ve forgotten what else they got.  But, those are spoils of war that the U.S. picked up.  There were some others, too.

L.:  The United States granted Guam local control instead of the United States controlling it.  Does that sound right?

Mr. S.:  I don’t really know.  I never paid any attention to politics when I was there.  It was just a possession of the U.S.

L.:  After you enlisted you were sworn into the Reserve in Des Moines.  Did you start immediately?

Mr. S.:  No, I went back home until they wanted me.  That was in August and I didn’t get called in to active duty until October of ‘44.  So I went home and went hunting and loafed and did whatever I wanted to do.

L.:  When you went active in October of that year, was the first thing you did was go to boot camp?

Mr. S.:  Yes.  (chuckle)  That’s what all recruits do.

L.:  Where was that?

Mr. S.:  Great Lakes, north of Chicago on Lake Michigan.  Great Lakes Naval Training Station.  It was a great big place.

L.:  How long were you there, and do you have anything to say about boot camp?

Mr. S.:  I was there I think three months.  Oh, there was a lot of petty stuff.  We had what you call the Great Lakes Shuffle.  They had hard wood floors in the barracks.  You’d put a pad of steel wool under your foot and you’d shuffle back and forth and you’d steel wool the whole floor.  It was a big long barracks.  We had to do that a lot.  Just petty work just to keep you in your place.  We’d stand guard duty for four hours at a time during the night.  All sorts of things to make you forget you were a person.  You were a sailor, instead.

(Click here to read Part II.  I’ll post more about Oregon in a week or so.)

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Oregon: Day #2 — Rafting the Deschutes

August 12, 2009

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For background information about our Oregon trip, it would be helpful if you first read Oregon (including an off-the-itinerary story).

I know many of you have already whitewater rafted.  If you have, please just enjoy it again!

* * * * *

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Facing the raft, Bill is at the front left. I'm directly behind him, not visible in this photo. Our guide is at the back left in the blue jacket. This is a class III+ rapid. Click photo to enlarge.

This is fun.  This is fun.  This is fun.  This is s-c-a-r-y-y-y-y!!!!!  This is fun!