Archive for the ‘Mr. Spaulding’ Category

Breakfast with Roger Pohlman and Dave Spaulding

April 23, 2010

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Over breakfast this morning, Bill and I met with Roger Pohlman and Dave Spaulding.

Roger Pohlman and Dave Spaulding, April 23, 2010. Click on the photo to better see the glimmer in those eyes.

Roger Pohlman was Bill’s P.E. and junior high shop teacher, driver education instructor and football and track coach at Rolfe (Iowa) High School during the late ’60s and early ’70s. (He also was an assistant boys basketball coach.) In 1971, after Bill graduated, Roger became Rolfe’s high school principal. He served in that capacity during my junior and senior years and into the mid-’70s.

While both Roger and Dave are legendary as Rolfe faculty members, Dave had the longer tenure at Rolfe (from 1965 until 1983). He definitely provided more opportunity for former students to retell legends! Dave taught almost all the science classes at Rolfe High, as well as Senior Math. (When asked today if he ever coached, he said that he once was a chess coach.)

From the 1970 Rolfe (Iowa) High School yearbook: Mr. Spaulding is at the far left in the second row. Mr. Pohlman is at the far right in the 3rd row. Yes, this is the ENTIRE high school faculty! (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

I wish I could squish into a short post some of those “do you remember when…” stories about Roger and Dave as educators, or about Rolfe High School and/or the community in general. But a short post wouldn’t do justice to the “Golden Apple” lifelong positive impact they had on Rolfe students in terms of discipline, character and thinking.

It will have to suffice to say that if you went to Rolfe High School and had one or both men for a teacher and/or administrator, you’d know that this morning we had a fun time reminiscing. Also, in your memory bank you’d probably have at least half of the yarns about Rolfe High that we chuckled about today. For example: How long girls’ skirts had to be; getting the switch during P.E. for throwing someone (a human thermometer) in the creek to check the water temperature; someone putting a car on autopilot during driver ed class; a starter’s pistol being used to wake up a student in geometry class; being awarded an F- grade (I did that once.); crawling through a car window in driver ed class after the car went into the ditch. (Who drove the car into the ditch? We don’t know.)

Roger and Dave are very, VERY interested in reconnecting with their former students and fellow staff members, too. If you want to reconnect with them, you may, of course, contact them on your own. When I mentioned this morning that I thought there would be others who’d like to get together with them, the response was, “Set it up and we’ll be there!”

If you have interest in getting together and would like me to set something up, let me know.

* * * * * * * *

Click here for previous posts about Dave Spaulding.

The newspaper article shown in the most recent post includes a photo of Roger Pohlman, Dick Barrett and the 1969 RHS football team. The photo is fairly dark, but fun to look at, nonetheless.

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Mr. Spaulding and His Charges: Part VI

September 25, 2009

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Previous (and explanatory) posts in this series may be located and read by using the archival list of posts about Mr. Spaulding.

* * * * *

L.:  So, getting back to the explosives, and you working on your fireworks, did you say that maybe you did that around when you were about sixteen?

Mr. S.:  About the time I got out of high school.  That’s when I burnt my hands up.

L.:  I know you had told me one time about how the laws had changed so considerably in regard to explosives.  During the time span that you used explosives, when did those laws start changing and how did they change?

Mr. S.:  I don’t really know.  It used to be every hardware store would have dynamite and caps on hand, just for fireworks, that you could buy.  When I started using explosives I had to, I don’t know how I got a license, but I had to go wherever they sold it.  It used to be Fort Dodge, and then it was clear down in Indianola where I had to go.  But, I didn’t take any exam or anything.  I don’t know how I qualified to get the license but I got a state license to buy explosives and to use them.  I don’t recall taking a test or an exam or anything.  I guess just a recommendation.  The sheriff knew me and knew I worked with explosives and did blasting and such.  (I’d been working with explosives for years before they passed the law about licenses.)  Maybe he got me a license.  I don’t know.

L.:  Did you stop using explosives just because you got to a time in your life that you wanted to stop, or it became so expensive, or they were hard to get because of the law?

Mr. S.:  They changed the law.  They passed a law, or changed the rules, that in order for me to buy explosives I had to have a five million dollar liability policy.  Who knows how much that would cost?  I didn’t even inquire.  In other words, I just had to work with what I had left and when it was gone, I couldn’t do any of that work anymore.  So I just didn’t renew my license anymore.

L.:  When did your license stop being a valid license?  Do you remember around what year or within a few years.

Mr. S.:  I could look it up because I got this fancy little certificate each year and I’ve still got them around in a frame somewhere.

L.:  As far as the 2nd amendment goes, do you tie the second amendment, as far as the right to bear arms, to explosives at all?

Mr. S.:  No, no.  But, I believe in it.  Most of these people in Congress want to ban them all the time.  Ban guns, you know.  They see a gun and, “Oh, it’s a horrible thing.”  They don’t want anybody to have any guns or any ammunition.  That’s a violation of the 2nd amendment, to take away the right to bear arms.

* * * * *

If I have more information to provide (which I imagine I will), in about three weeks, give or take, I’ll post again about Mr. Spaulding.  I have several questions for him about his teaching career plus about many random topics.  If you don’t want to keep checking back just to see when I’ve posted again about him, you may “subscribe” on this blog’s homepage so that you receive an email whenever there is a new post.

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Mr. Spaulding and His Charges: Part V

September 23, 2009

The archived posts about former Rolfe High School teacher Dave Spaulding provide an explanation of the following transcript.

* * * * *

Mr. Dave Spaulding on his 82nd birthday, August 18th, 2009.

Mr. Spaulding on his 82nd birthday, Aug. 18, 2009. (Click photo to enlarge.)

L.:  What did your parents, or what did your wife think about your use of explosives? Were they like, “Hey, go right ahead,” or were they concerned?

Mr. S.:  Oh, my wife, I suppose, worried a little bit about it.  I told her not to worry.  I said if anything ever blew up on me I’d quit that work.  But, she got used to it.

L.:  And, how about your parents?

Mr. S.:  I didn’t have any parents then.  I wasn’t in this business until I was, I don’t know, out of college and teaching and so forth.  I never really had any parents to speak of.  I had a father but he was killed in a fire when I was eleven and I wasn’t living with him at the time, luckily.  And Rosalie’s [Mr. S.’s wife] mother-in-law, I never had much to do with.  I don’t claim her as a mother.  When I was two years old she abandoned me and moved back to Chicago where she was in her home territory.  I don’t know who took care of me until I got old enough to remember.  But I lived with all sorts of people.

L.:  So, did you say your mother abandoned you when you were two years old?

Mr. S.:  Yes.  I lived with my grandparents, then, I think, and my oldest brother.

L.:  After you were two years old?

Mr. S.:  Yes.  Well, after I got to be, I don’t know, five or six, then I lived with my father again.  So, I lived with all sorts of people.  Whoever would take me in.

L.:  So, your mother abandoned you when you were two, and then you lived with your grandparents until you were five or six, and then you lived with your father.

Mr. S.:  I don’t know who I lived with when I turned two to maybe, I don’t know, five or six.  I don’t really know.

* * * * *

The sixth and last part of this series will be posted by Friday night, the 25th.  After that it will likely be around three weeks (give or take) before I post about Mr. Spaulding again.  (How long it takes to have a new blog-ready transcript is unpredictable.)  If you have some questions you want me to ask him, but don’t want to comment here, you may email them to me at .

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Mr. Spaulding and His Charges: Part IV

September 21, 2009

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To understand this post, it will be helpful to first read the prologue to this series.  It will also help if you read the first three parts, the titles of which are included in the archival list of postings about Mr. Spaulding.

* * * * *

L.:  I know that you blew up a large tree stump for Bill.  I know you blew up a silo for some friends of ours from Webster City.  About how often did you do things like that for people?

Mr. S.:  Whenever they’d call me.  I didn’t do much of that work in the wintertime.  You had to drill into the ground and it doesn’t work very well in the wintertime, unless there was something above ground.  I suppose I’d get a couple of calls a month.  Gradually the word got around so they knew who to call because nobody else did that.

L.:  Did you do it mainly as a hobby, or did it become a nice source of supplemental income, or did you mainly do it almost for nothing?

Mr. S.:  No, no.  I had to buy the explosives.  I had to buy the dynamite and the __________ and all the rest of the stuff.

L.:  As far as for your service?

Mr. S.:  I charged for the work, too.  Not a specific amount, just according to how much of explosives I used, basically, and the time and the mileage.  Sometimes I’d have jobs clear up in Minnesota that I’d get called up to do.  Sometimes I’d go out with some of those jobs and in a day I could get around two or three hundred dollars.  That was welcome income.

L.:  What was the most unusual thing that someone had you use explosives with?

Mr. S.:  Oh, I’d have to think about that.  I used to blow down a lot of silos, these clay tile silos.  (Now silos are made out of poured concrete.  The older kind is just made out of clay tile.  Some if them, I guess, were made out of concrete tile…individual pieces they’d build up like concrete bricks.)  I’d do that by marking Xs on the tile every so far apart, a couple of rows apart about half way around, and then I’d knock a little hole in the tile and then I’d put in the homemade firecrackers I’d made.  I’d put those in all the holes and hook them all together with a real fast burning fuse, a special fuse, and light it and stand back and watch.  And, then boom, boom, boom, they’d work their way around the side and then, crrrrash, down it’d come.  That was a lot of fun.  I liked that work.

Mr. S.:  [Explanation about a detonating cord.]

L.:  How much would it cost just for that cord?

Mr. S.:  Oh, I’d hate to tell you that.  You buy it in hundred-foot rolls, and one roll is about forty or fifty dollars, I think.  I can’t remember now.  It cost a fortune at that rate.  It was very useful for getting things to go off simultaneously, so to speak.  Sometimes I’d have several big trees that they’d want me to take down.  I’d get charges under each one of them and hook them all up with __________ and, boom, they’d all go at once.  That saved a lot of going back and forth, a lot of running.  I never did any running, anyway.  I used enough fuses, two fuses.  I could just walk off at a good pace.  I’d hate to think I was running and trip and fall too close to the charge, so I walked.

* * * * *

Part V will be posted by Wednesday night.

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Mr. Spaulding and His Charges: Part III

September 19, 2009

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This post is a continuation in a six-part series about Mr. Spaulding and his experiences with explosives.  Click here for a list of archived posts about him, including the first post about him as a highly effective educator.  (If you don’t read some of the archived posts, you might not understand the following transcript.)

* * * * *

Mr. S.:  I had a mixture when I was in college.  I’d take __________ and __________.  You’d have to handle them very carefully and separately because together the friction could ignite them.  Hit that with a hammer or board or something and it’d make a tremendous bang.

I had a mixture of the two in a little test tube so I could pour some out and stomp on it.  It was just a tiny test tube…about like my little finger…with a cork on it.  And, I had that in my pocket.  I went to the movies.  I don’t know if it was day or nighttime.  But, anyway, just body heat set that off when I had it in my pants pocket.  There was a big whoosh and I looked down and saw a big glow, and a cloud of smoke.  I went tearing out the front door to the water fountain across the street, and the whole theater emptied out.  They thought there was a fire in the theater.  They wouldn’t let me back in to watch the movie.  Can you imagine that?!

L.:  I assume your clothing got burned then?

Mr. S.:  It burned through the pants pocket and burned into my leg.  __________ burns take a long time to heal, too.  But, I was kind of aggravated that they wouldn’t let me see the rest of the movie.  I don’t think they let me back in that theater for months.

Mr. S.:  I’ve had a lot of quaint mishaps.

L.:  Any others that you think of right off the bat.

Mr. S.:  When I was in high school?  No, I can’t think of anything now.  There probably were but I can’t think of them.

L.:  You said you gradually learned to make fireworks on your own.  Did you learn to make them on your own completely by trial and error?  Or by reading?  Or by learning from other people?

Mr. S.: Mostly from the encyclopedia.  I’d look up __________ and find out what was in them, and so forth.  Otherwise you wouldn’t even know where to start.

L.:  Did you have access to the encyclopedia at your library or at school?

Mr. S.:  At school, mainly.

L.:  You already mentioned about the movie theater experience from when you were younger.  I’m wondering if you have any experiences with explosives that you think were the most fun or the most scary…most memorable.

Mr. S.:  Oh, I had a safety fuse for blasting.  You put a cap on the end and that contained something like __________, which is very sensitive stuff.  It goes off fairly easily.

L.:  So what were you doing with this?

Mr. S.:  I was doing blasting work, where you use a fuse and caps, put a charge under a stump, or whatever you’re trying to get rid of.  I had cases where the fuse had burned down and I was off ducked behind a tree and nothing would happen.  So, I’d go back up there timidly…carefully…and, just in case something would happen, I’d grasp the fuse in one hand and with the other hand stuck a finger in my ear.  That was foolish.  I did it just for good luck, I guess.  I don’t know what good that’d done if it had gone off, but I might have saved one ear that way.  [Explanation about fuses.]

* * * * *

Part IV will be posted by Monday evening, September 21st.

As a P.S., from reading Mona’s blog (Mona of Wild Faces Gallery where the prints of Mother’s watercolors are printed) I learned that a movie about the life of Georgia O’Keeffe will be showing on the Lifetime Channel tonight.  In case you don’t catch it tonight, there will be encores on the 20th and 22nd.  Mother loved the works of Georgia O’Keeffe.

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Mr. Spaulding and His Charges: Part II

September 17, 2009

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The prologue to this series of posts explains about the transcript below, including about the blanks ( __________ ) and the brackets [   ].  For the list of archived posts about Mr. Spaulding, including Part I and also an explanation of who he is, click here.

* * * * *

L.:  Since you didn’t have enough money to buy what you wanted as far as fireworks, what did you use to make fireworks?  Did you just have things around home and you figured out how to combine them?

Mr. S.:  No, I’d buy chemicals like __________ at the drugstore and I could get __________ and __________ without any problems.  I could buy those over the counter.  I’d make a black powder that way.  [Explanation of a process.]  Then put it down on the concrete and whack it with a hammer.  It would make a roar like a shotgun.  [More explanation of the process.]

Mr. S.:  That other stuff that I burnt my hands on {told about in Part I}, that just gave me a good idea.  I’d put some of the explosive mixture in.  [Several sentence explanation about a chemical procedure.]  So then the __________ worked its way through the tape and would fall down into that mixture and go “bang, boom” depending on how much I had in there.  Depending on how much tape you put over __________, you could sort of time it…set it for a few hours…when it burned down, the __________ got through the tape and it’d drop down in the powder and “kablooey.” I could use just one thickness of tape and it would take a certain amount of time.  If I would double the thickness it would take longer.  I could roughly set it for the period of time that I wanted.  That worked pretty well.  [An explanation about outdoor locations in Mr. S.’s hometown—locations common to any town—where, when he was growing up, Mr. S. would harmlessly put a chemical mixture and wait for the “bang, boom.”]

L.:  Did you ever get in trouble for that?

Mr.: S.  They never found out.

L.:  About how old were you at the time you were just talking about?

Mr. S.:  Oh, I suppose I was about sixteen.

* * * * *

Part III will be posted no later than Saturday morning, September 19th (which is also International Talk Like a Pirate Day…..aaaaaarrgh!).

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Mr. Spaulding and His Charges: Part I

September 16, 2009

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Last night I posted the prologue to this six-part series about Mr. Spaulding and his experiences with explosives.  It will be easier to understand the six-part transcript if you first read the prologue.  If you don’t already know who Mr. Spaulding is, you might want to read the other posts about him.  The “L.” below is me, Louise (class of ’73), one of Mr.  Spaulding’s former students.

* * * * *

L.:  When you were in the military, was that the first time you had been exposed to explosives of any sort?

Mr. S.:  No.  I trace it all back to when I was a kid and fireworks were illegal in Iowa. I never had enough money to buy what I wanted so I gradually learned to make my own.  When I was a senior in high school I was tinkering around with some chemicals.  I had a nice mixture made up.  I made a wrong move and I had quite a bit in a metal can.  I was working up in my room, stupidly.  I got a little touch of acid in there, which I shouldn’t have and it went “whhoooshhh,” just like a flame thrower came out of there.  I managed to burn a lot of skin off both hands.  It was hanging in black shreds.  That didn’t make me very happy.  That was about two weeks before I graduated.  So, when I attended graduation ceremonies, I had both hands bandaged up, like a mummy.

L.:  What you learned about explosives up to that time, was it pretty much self-taught?

Mr. S.:  Yes, that was just chemistry.  They didn’t have any chemistry in high school where I went.  Otherwise, explosives learning I picked up on my own in Guam because there were explosives lying all over the place.  Japanese, American.  Unexploded ammunition, and so forth.  It was just a paradise to me.  I learned how to basically disarm them, take them apart and remove the explosive portion, thereof.  Then I could trade them off to other guys for their beer rations.  We had a beer ration of four cans a day.  Everybody had a beer ration card.

L.:  Was the beer for you?

Mr. S.:  Yes, or for anybody I wanted to give it to.

* * * * *

Part II, of six parts, will be posted by tomorrow evening, September 17th.

Mr. Spaulding enjoys hearing from readers via the comments option that is at the bottom of each post.  If you do comment, the only person seeing your email address is  me.  Although the comment section asks for a web site, it not necessary to enter one.

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Mr. Spaulding and His Charges: Prologue

September 15, 2009

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If you aren’t aware of Mr. Spaulding (Dave Spaulding), you’d probably have fun reading about him in the previous posts.  The first post about him, posted on July 29th, describes him as a teacher and includes several comments from his former students.  Also, scattered in the previous posts are three photos of him.

During August and September, Mr. Spaulding and I had three conversations about his experiences with explosives.  I combined the three conversations into one transcript.  I’ll post that transcript in six parts beginning tomorrow, September 16th.

Hopefully you can appreciate that Mr. Spaulding and I do not want to risk having transcript details about explosives fall into the wrong hands…and subsequently be used inappropriately.  Because of our wanting to be careful, I have omitted portions of the transcript.  As you read, you’ll be able to see where I have omitted a word or explanation.

In the transcript, the blank lines (i.e., __________ ) indicate where a word (or two words) was “bleeped” out.  The “bleeped” out word is usually the name of a chemical or product Mr. Spaulding used.

Also in the transcript, whenever there are squared brackets [   ], it means I omitted one or more sentences in which Mr. Spaulding gave details about a chemical(s) and/or a product(s) and/or a process he used as he worked with explosives.

I realize the blanks and the brackets don’t allow insight to the full robust of the conversations.  My main purpose for posting the transcript is not so readers have a chemistry lesson, but, instead so we can learn more about Mr. Spaulding.  Hopefully, even with the omissions, that purpose will be accomplished.

I emailed the finished product, including blanks and brackets, to Mr. Spaulding to see if he thought it would be easy enough for people to follow.  Clever as always, he replied with, “Knowing what was missing in the blanks made it simple.  To the neophyte, however, it might seem that the writer was afflicted with amentia.”  (Off to the dictionary I went!)

Stay tuned.  The first of six parts will be posted by tomorrow night.

* * * * *

By the way, tomorrow is my father’s 91st birthday.

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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.

IMG_3428 level cro 1200 LGS Dave Spaulding 8 18 09 sp he1200

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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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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