­­­­Wylie Homestead

(L to R) Paul, Lanty, Hazel

My Story

By Lanty H. Wylie Jr.

Unpublished Work: Copyright © 1994-2017 by Lanty H. Wylie, Jr. This book, titled "My Story" and included attachments are protected under the Copyright Law of the United States as an Unpublished Work. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

DISCLAIMER

Every now and then, I take pen (computer) in hand and jot down a few memories. If I have used a phrase or statement of someone else's, it was not intentional and I apologize. If I have described any person, place, action, thing or occurrence that you do not agree with, I am sorry. This is the way I remember the experiences in my life. HOWEVER, if you DO like these efforts, or if you DO NOT like these efforts, I do not want to hear from you. Find your own therapy.

THE WYLIE CLAN

"One observer described the Wylie clan as "the same as the Indians," The Wylies were illiterate, "wonderfully ignorant" and as full of superstitions as their feeble minds were capable of, believing in Witches, ghosts, Hobgoblins, Evil Eyes... they did not farm, had no fences round their shanty habitations and appeared to have lived a roving, rambling life ever since the Battle of Bunker Hill when they fled to this wilderness." Used by permission: Harper Collins, copyright 1991 by Paul Collins. The Birth of the Modern", World Society 1815-1830, ISBN 0-06-016574-X

Note: Wylie’s in Bunker Hill Battle

Robert Wylie: Born 1n 1747 at Boothbay, ME; Died there
June 7 1815 .Robert was a private in Capt. Timothy Langdon’s
Company. Eugene Cushman Wylie also in the Bunker
Hill Battle was the great grandson of Robert Wylie.

CHAPTER ONE

My Beginnings

1932

Mother and Dad met at a dance party and the next day Mother left her husband Sam C. Parker, took Hazel her daughter and moved in with my Dad and his four sons. My Mother had married Parker February 12, 1920.

My father, Lanty Hill Wylie Sr., was married to Artie James in 1909, when Dad was about sixteen years old. They divorced six months later. My Dad then married Fanny Grace Cunningham and she bore him Fred E. Wylie, Grady E. Wylie, Clyde H. Wylie, Fanny Mae Wylie and Cloys Paul Wylie. Fanny Grace Cunningham died in 1928 with some form of childbed fever. Her religious beliefs and her family support for those beliefs sped her untimely death.

Remark

(About 1915)

Lanty Wylie Sr., Fanny Grace Cunningham Wylie, Fred Wylie (Baby)

After my Mother's divorce from Parker was granted, she married my Dad in Benoit, Bolivar County, Mississippi by a Justice of the Peace May 4, 1932. They lived on Sam Speaks plantation near Benoit Mississippi. I was born at 10:00 A.M., November 6, 1932, A Sunday morning. I weighed eight pounds. My Dad wanted to name me Ralph, but my Mother prevailed and I was named Lanty Hill Wylie Jr. The Cunningham family from Tennessee, Walter Cunningham, lived close by and called my Dad "Uncle Lanty," so for the next seventeen years I was called "L.H.". We were living on Sam Speaks Plantation in the Mississippi Delta, in Bolivar, County, in the poorest state in the Union, in the middle of a great economic depression. My Dad was the plantation manager.

When Dad met my Mother, Dora Lucile (Gentry) Parker she was married to a Mr. Sam C. Parker and had one child, Hazel. Hazel was five years old at this time. Mr. Parker was fifteen years older than my Mother. Mother said that she was encouraged to marry him by her friends, but she never loved Parker. Parker was a sharecropper and I think it was working Mother to death in the cotton fields. From photographs of Mother while she was married to Parker, she looked withdrawn and unhappy. Looking back, I think Dad told Mother that she would never have to work in the fields and she didn't, after her marriage to my father. Hazel never got over her Mother leaving her Father (Parker). Later Mother told Patricia, my wife, that it was a terrible thing to leave someone (Parker) that cared as much about her as he did. Mother was happy with my Dad throughout the marriage. She missed my Dad very much after his death. My Dad was ten years older than my Mother. There were very few arguments and disagreements between them.

Even though my Mother didn't work in the cotton fields, there was plenty of work to be done around the house with my Dad, his four sons, from a previous marriage and her daughter, Hazel, from my Mother's marriage to Parker. I was an adult before my Mother told my Wife, Patricia, that her first name was Dora and that she dropped it early on for her second name Lucile. Mother said "I just didn't like Dora," that was the way she did things. Before that, I only knew her as Lucile Wylie. She had kept this a secret for years.

Mother

Lucile Gentry 1926

Dad told me he was named Lanty (A nickname for Lancelot) after Lewis Lancelot Johnston, (Bn. about 1828 in Willimson County, Tennessee.) My Great Grand Father. Lewis L. Johnston was 34 years old in 1860 according to the census. He married Emiline Merritt (Bn. 1833) on August 7, 1856.  Lewis and Emiline had a child Annah E. Johnston (bn. Dec 20, 1857.) She married Andrew Thomas Wylie, my Grand Father, November 22, 1877. Lewis Lancelot Johnston was killed, in Tennessee, during the War of Northern Aggression, 1862 at Shiloh. He was in McKoin’s 55th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry. The reason I go into my genealogy is to develop the path of my name, Lanty. My family, on both sides, was from Tennessee and had deep feelings for the South. My Dad told me he was about 18 before he saw a black man. That is the reason Dad never had a prejudice against black people. He had not been raised to have a prejudice against them.

Hulda

L-R Angie Jernigan Russell (Aunt) & Huldah Jernigan (G. Grand Mother)

People at this time, back in the hills of Tennessee, distrusted any stranger or any authority. I believe this, distrust of authority, that my Dad had, rubbed off on me somewhere down the line.

My oldest brother, Fred, worked in the mechanical and blacksmith shop on the plantation. He assisted Dad with the job of overseeing the plantation. Fred paid Dad one dollar a week for room and board. Dad made twelve dollars a week for running the plantation. He rode a blind horse named Dan. Many times Dad has told me how he could guide the horse by applying a certain pressure to the horse's neck and with verbal commands.

Most of the labor on plantations was done by Negroes. They were not much better off in 1932 than they were as slaves. My Dad was riding old Dan when he saw this Negro laborer stop his plowing and start talking to this Negro lady chopping cotton. The conversation went on for some time and Dad went over and told him to get back to work. The laborer started to unhitch the mules from the plow. I don't know what words were exchanged, but Dad hit the laborer over the head, with a crescent wrench. Several of the other laborers saw this and started after Dad. Dad took old blind Dan by the bridle and swatted him on the side with his hat. This made old Dan go around and around, keeping the men at bay. Fred saw this and came over to help Dad. Dad told me that this was the only time that he forgot to take his pistol to work. Later that day, the laborer's household goods, furniture, clothes and everything else, was moved out of the plantation house where he lived and set by the road. He was out of a job and a place to stay. When one of the plantation workers killed a Negro, the law would try you on some trumped up charge and punish you with a small fine. Most of the time there would be no charge at all brought against you. There might be a small, two or three line, mention of this in the newspaper, near the back.

Fred and Grady, my brothers, were the first to leave home. Fred married Ada Smith from Greenville, Mississippi. Grady married her sister Ruth Smith. Both divorced later and I think they lived to regret it. Fred loved the bottle and wild women and Grady, in my opinion, carried a certain bitterness of life with him until his death.

My half sister, Fanny Mae (Wylie) Utley lives in Tennessee. Fanny Mae's uncle on her Mother's side, uncle Jim Dee, raised her. When Dad's wife, Fannie Grace Cunningham died, he was left with four small boys and a baby, Fannie Mae. Dad decided it would be better if her uncle, Jim Dee, raised her. Looking back, I feel this was a wise decision. When I was about 11, Fanny Mae wrote to Dad for money. She didn't have any money for shoes to start to school. Dad sent her some money. Looking back, I think Fanny Mae missed her Dad and brothers more than we will ever know.

After Dad's second wife, Fanny Grace (Cunningham) Wylie, died, Dad got into the bottle. Working as deputy sheriff, Dad was making moonshine whiskey in a cave. This did not set too well with the city elders. Here was my Dad deputy sheriff, making whiskey with four small children to support. Making whiskey was an eternal right at this time in Tennessee, but I think Dad made too many enemies along the way. One day, before the city fathers were to take away his children and put them in foster homes, Dad and my brothers, late at night, crossed the Mississippi river into Arkansas. Later, they crossed back into Mississippi where Walter Cunningham lived. There he met my Mother.

My brother, Fred E. Wylie, died on a pipeline accident, Friday July 12, 1962, somewhere in Wyoming. Fred is buried in Kilbourne, Louisiana. He was installing a new cutting edge on a dozer blade when another mechanic, in the seat area, bumped the down lever. This action crushed Fred.

Grady E. Wylie died in Conway Memorial Hospital, Monroe, Louisiana in 1977. Grady is buried in Leeper Cemetery, Lobville, Perry County, Tennessee beside his mother.

Grady was an excellent mechanic on trucks, farm equipment and heavy diesel equipment. Grady was 12 when his Mother died. For some reason, Grady cooked for my Dad and his brothers. This was before Dad married my Mother. So, until Grady died his nickname was Cook. Grady and Dad never really got on that well and it all came to a head when Grady was 16. Grady was chopping wood with an ax and Dad was standing nearby. It is easy to aim your chips, most of the time, when you are chopping wood. Sometime the chip takes off on its own. Anyway, a chip from Grady's chopping, hit Dad in the back of the head. Dad took off his belt and proceeded to beat Grady so bad that Fred came over and told Dad to quit. Dad regretted this whipping and Grady never forgot it.

Clyde H. Wylie is living at this time, (1994) in Alexandra, Louisiana. He had a bar, The Swamp Room on Highway 165 South, closed now. Clyde was a heavy equipment operator and part-time businessman. Clyde was born December 16, 1918. Died August 25, 1997 and buried in the Kilbourne Louisiana cemetery

Cloys Paul Wylie: Paul lives in DeQuincy, Louisiana. (1994) Paul is very intelligent and very set in his ways. Paul can take a book on any radio or TV problem and figure out how it works. He was involved in Amateur Radio for several years. Amateur call sign WA5FHP.

Paul died July 31, 2007 the cemetery is located behind Boxwood Church of Christ in Bivens, Louisiana. Bivens is located on LA 389, which is a good, paved, all-weather road, about 12 miles or so south of Merryville. The US Army had 3 representatives to perform the US flag presentation. Family and friends gathered round - they loved him very much.

In 1970, I would get to Denton, Texas on weekends and help C. Phillips fix some two-way radios that were giving him trouble. I got to know Phillips well, and after work we would have a bottle or two of beer and talk. One Sunday he asked me if I would be interested in buying a Collins Transmitter and I was. I asked him the price and he said two hundred fifty dollars. Anything with the Collins name is good equipment. We went to the warehouse to look this thing over, it filled up a goodly part of the warehouse, with boxes and parts and boxes and parts. The only person I knew that had the determination to get this thing together was my brother Paul. I got a picture of the transmitter from an old army tech manual and mailed it to Paul, Sunday night. The transmitter is twelve feet wide, in three cabinets and seven feet tall, plus spare parts.

I got home from work Wednesday the telephone was ringing, it was from Paul. We discussed the transmitter. He wanted to bring a pickup truck and I told him it was not large enough. A pick up and a U haul would not be large enough. It would take a two and half ton flat bed to haul this monster. The next Friday night Paul and one of his friends came and stayed the night. Early Saturday morning we went to Denton, got a forklift and loaded the transmitter and spare parts.

Back in DeQuincy, Paul built an Amateur Radio Shack out behind his house, got the electric company to wire in three phase 240 volts and moved the transmitter in. Of all the people I knew in Amateur Radio, Paul was the only one that, for certain, would get this transmitter working. I understand he has spent many hours talking to other Amateurs around the world on this transmitter. That monster transmitter was capable of 10,000 watts of radio frequency power, from 3 to 30 Mhz.

Mary Lee (O'Keefe) Wylie, my only whole sibling, is living near Houston, Texas (1994). She and her husband, work for the airlines. Mary Lee and Paul Davis, her first husband, have a child, Julie Davis. Julie has a little girl now. (1995)

Hazel (Parker) Guest, my half sister on my Mother's side is dead. She is buried in North Carolina. When I was just a little fellow, Hazel and I spent a lot of time together. She was just a kid herself. Hazel and Paul were about the same age and were close at this time. Later on at the farm in Louisiana, Hazel decided to live in Greenville with her father rather than be a field hand. It was there, at sixteen years of age, she met and married Richard Guest. Richard was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Greenville AFB, Mississippi. Soon after the marriage, Richard was shipped overseas. Anyway, it wasn't long after they were married that a daughter Betty Ann Guest was born. Hazel had another daughter Martha Guest in Detroit.

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My Dad was raised in Tennessee, where he quit school at 9 to be the water boy in a sawmill making ax handles out of that Tennessee Hickory. Later on Dad worked in a Blacksmith shop where he learned the trade. My Dad never talked about his Mom and Dad, my grandparents. It was only after I started compiling the Wylie family genealogy that I knew their exact names and where they were buried. Dad broke off relations with his parents when he was about 19 to 20 years old. The reason for the estrangement was never revealed to me.

Dad was turned down for military service in World War1 because his toes pointed straight down and he was flat-footed. At this time the chief business of a blacksmith was shoeing horses. When you take a horse's hoof and hold it just above your knees, between your legs, scrape, fit, measure and finally nail down the horse's shoe, you point your toes down as if to grip the ground. The horse tends to be anxious about this procedure and move around some, while the blacksmith tries to hold him still. After years of this, Dad's toes pointed down. When he quit shoeing horses, his toes looked like anyone else's toes.

My Dad was a walking farmer for years and his flat feet never bothered him. In the black lands of Mississippi, on Sam Speaks’ plantation there were about ten Negro families. Most of these families were sharecroppers. Most of the farming was done with mule teams and human sweat. Tractors were expensive and labor was cheap. After a while, Dad did not get on well with the owner and we moved on, except Fred, to Arkansas. Fred told me that he finally had to leave Mississippi after all the little Negro kids around started calling him daddy.

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There was land to homestead in Arkansas, so by the time I was eighteen months old we were in the woods of Arkansas. After my Dad and brothers built a log cabin, Dad had fifty cents to start a crop and try to make a living for the first year. During the time, in Mississippi when my Mother was pregnant with me, she had pellagra. Too much corn in the diet can cause a depletion of Niacin or perhaps not enough Niacin in the diet. She was still having health problems in Arkansas. It really surprises me how healthy I am.

My childhood was a happy time. I had my Mother, Dad, three brothers, and sister to spoil me. I was the baby. When I got old enough to work in the cotton fields, I really came to grips with the reality of life and my economic status in this life.

Dad and Mother had very few arguments or disagreements with each other. I have only the fondest memories of my Mom and Dad. Farming in the late 1930's was a difficult way to make a living. You had to make a living or starve. There were no government handouts, the government was broke. Most people were too proud to take welfare if it had been available.

Looking back from 1997, people had more personal pride in them and their families, in the 1930's, than they do now. There was no crime and no one ever locked their house.

In Arkansas, if we could clear the woods from a certain percentage of the land and raise crops on it, the government would give us a clear title to the land. The log cabin my Dad and brothers made was one room, dirt floor and a loft in one end where my brothers slept. We built a fireplace in one end, mostly out of mud. The dirt floor was salted to make it firm and keep the dust down. I can remember walking to the store with Mother and Hazel. It seems there was always water on both sides of the dirt road. I remember walking on a railroad track as we carried our groceries back home. We made our own soap from hog fat and lye. The way you make lye is to save all your ashes from the stoves and fireplace and put them in an ash hopper, a V shaped container with a small drain at the bottom of the V shaped trough. When it is hog killing time in the early winter, pour water on the ashes and you get lye, Sodium Hydroxide in liquid form. Cook all the pigskin for the pork fat. Pork Cracklings are the cooked skin and fat left over from the fat making process. We would eat the Cracklings as snacks and put them in corn bread. We eat everything from the hog but the squeal. We would then cook the pork fat and lye together and you get soap. Pour this gel into pans to harden and cut into bars. This looks and smells just like the G.I. Soap like we used to clean floors when I was in the Air Force. I doubt that any germs could live through a good application of this type soap.

Every family had a water bucket in the kitchen. When you wanted a drink you took the dipper and drank from it. It was a family way to drink water. The water was at room temperature unless it was fresh from the water pump. Usually the dipper was a metal device that held about a cup of water at a time. At one time, we had a gourd that was fashioned to drink water. As far as passing on any illness by sharing a common way to drink water; the first time I was ever sick was when I was about 12 years old. That was two times, in my young life, the doctor saw me, once when I was born and when I was about 12 years old.

After we started getting some money from the homestead, Dad got a car. Now he could stop by the beer joint while in town. It had been raining for some time and a bridge washed out in the road leaving a big hole. Early one morning, Dad was returning from the beer joint and could not stop in time for the washed out bridge. Someone from town came out and told us that Dad was in the doctor's office in bad shape. The doctor said that if Dad had not been drinking he would have been killed. I do not know the logic that brought him to this conclusion. Dad had some broken ribs and hurt feelings. Mother seemed to take it all in stride.

One of our neighbors was named Lum Russian and like the rest of the farmers, he was homesteading his land. Lum didn't make the proper quota for clearing and planting so daddy signed up for his homestead. Paul and Hazel were walking to school one morning and saw Lum and his daughter clearing land. Paul went back home and told Dad. Dad grabbed his shotgun and lit out for a confrontation. When Lum saw Dad, he slipped over, picked up his double barrel shotgun and shot at Dad. The birdshot scattered around and did not hurt anyone. Dad quickened his pace hit Lum over the head with his single barrel twelve-gage shotgun, before Lum could reload. Lum went to the hospital and Dad to jail. After the story was told, Dad got out of jail and Lum stayed in the hospital for two weeks. Everyone thought he was going to die. Dad was placed under a peace bond not to see or contact Lum. When Lum came home the peace bond was lifted. Dad straightened his shotgun barrel and used it until he died. Grady got the shotgun after Dad died.

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Mother and Dad had gone to town and Paul was playing with that same old shotgun, in our log house. He was making believe a squirrel was running across the room. He said, "There he goes" and squeezed the trigger just as the gun was pointed at the cook stove chimney. . He didn't know the gun was loaded, but when the loud noise came out of the barrel he knew for sure. My brothers got together and swapped the bad piece of tin chimney, over the cook stove, with the good piece in the loft. This was a good idea until Mother started a fire in the cook stove. Smoke poured out in the loft and my brothers had to confess their deed to Dad.

In today's environment, it is hard to imagine the difficult life we faced in the Arkansas woods. You would work from daylight to dark, most days. It seemed that you never got rid of the previous days sweat before you were back at work again, wet to the waist.

My Dad and brothers had to saw down trees then dig the tree stumps up to clear the land for farming. We had a garden for vegetables, a cow for milk, chickens for eggs and meat, and hogs for meat. Ninety percent of our animal protein came from the small animals we hunted in the woods. The largest part of our diet was pinto and navy beans with a little hog fat thrown in. I was in the Air Force before anyone ever told me he didn't like a certain type of food.

About this time I took my first drive in an automobile. Our car was parked facing the log house, about ten feet away. I had seen Dad press the started button on the floor and this would make the car go. While my family was eating dinner, I got down in the floorboard of the car and pressed the starter with button with my foot. The switch was not on so the car would not start but it would move as the starter turned the motor over. There were no automatic transmission cars in those days. The car ran up against the house with starter power. Everyone came running out of the house to see about me. From then on I just sat in the car and made believe I was driving. From then to now, this is the most fun I have ever had driving a car.

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Some lady came over to keep Hazel and me while Mother went to town. Mother had told her to keep me out of the road that ran by our house. She was afraid that I would get run over. Well, this lady was rougher than my Mother was as she tanned my tail for getting in the road. I guess this was the first spanking for me. I do not remember the spanking. Mother told me about this. My Dad never spanked me as such. He did hit me once and slap me once. Mother hit me one time for cutting a hole in a sack of flour with my new pocketknife. Dad was rough as a cob on by brothers, but he let me get by with just about anything. Looking back, I can see that this lack of discipline was one of the reasons that I resent any authority over me. However, by being able to do anything I wanted to do, I think, this helped my imagination develop, without restrictions.

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The rain came down and the Mississippi River left its banks and consumed our Arkansas farmland. We hooked up our mule team and in our rubber-tired wagon, set out for the gathering place for displaced farmers, the local schoolhouse. At the school, we slept on blankets spread out on the gymnasium floor. The flu spread through the place and most everyone got it.

Paul stayed well and during the day he would take his rowboat and paddle around the flooded farmhouses collecting chickens from the trees. The chickens roosted in the trees to get out of the high water. Paul would sell them at the local grocery store and give the money to Dad. The chickens would probably have starved anyway and this was a good source of income.

After the flood, Dad decided to move from this rich farmland to something better. Dad was from Tennessee and there was no flooding there. I think the fact that he had a clear title to the land in Arkansas was another motivational factor in selling the land.

Looking back on life, most of the time you are money ahead to stay with a project if there is a glimmer of hope for completion. There is not a problem on earth that you cannot run away from and there will be few success stories. Anyway, I think my Mother's father, John Byrd Gentry, influenced my Dad to sell and move. Mother told me that Grandpa got to talking about how much the land was worth now that the homestead was completed.

Life was hard on every one. Farmers and their wives, people we knew, died when they were about 50 years old. They just wore out. That is the reason exercise programs never caught on with me. If you really want some exercise, find yourself about 180 acres of timberland, clear it with a mule team and start farming. You will have all the exercise you will ever want in your whole life. But, I changed my mind in my 60's. I started exercising daily. Makes you feel better, you have more energy.

At this time, my brothers were in their teens and early twenties. Sometime a plow would get stuck in an old tree stump; they wouldn't have the strength to pull it out. They would have to unhook the mule team and re-hook to the rear of the plow and pull it out of the stump. When the plow would cut a tree root, as you were plowing along, you would have to jump quickly, as the piece of root flying back would take a shot at your shins. I decided early on this would not be my life's work. During WW2, these were the tough farm boys that brought back victory from Germany and Japan.

Dad sold out our farm in Arkansas and had that cash money in his pocket.

CHAPTER TWO

Leaving Arkansas

1937

We loaded all our earthly possessions on two Model T trucks, which Dad purchased and were on our way to the Promised Land that Grandpa had spoken of in Louisiana. Grady drove one and Dad the other. We camped out on the roadside every night of our trip south. Listed here is an inventory of the land and equipment sale.

State of Arkansas, Located in Osceola District County of Mississippi - to Mr. A.J. Florida 36.35 acres more or less, and 40 acres more or less. 5th Day of June 1937. $3.100.00. Less $1,908.75 to Drainage District #17. Including: 1 Black horse mule named John, age 10 yrs. Weight 1250#; 1 Grey mare named Maud, age 10 yrs. Weight 1300#; 1 Blue horse mule named Lou, age 12 yrs. Weight 800#; 1 Black mare mule named Kate, age 10 yrs. Weight 800#; 1 Yellow Jersey cow named Calf; 1 Trailer wagon; 3 Gee Whiz;1Turning Plow;1 Planter; 4 Sets Harness; 1 single Stock; 1 disk Harrow; 1 Link Harrow; Records filed 4th day of August, 1937 at 2:40 P.M. and duly recorded the same day in Record Book 69 at page 385.

My Mother's brother, Edward Earl Gentry was living in Marthaville, Louisiana. We visited with Uncle Earl and Grandpa for a while and listened to the great opportunities that another of the poorest states in the United States had to offer. Dad decided he did not want to live around mothers' kin. We headed north to West Carroll Parish, Louisiana, the land between the rivers. So, back to camping out by the road. I remember very little of this. I was very fond of bologna at this time, but most of our supplies were from the farmers we encountered. We purchased milk, eggs, vegetables and whatever they had. Mother told me there was only one farmer that refused us permission to camp on his land. When we did go to a store, Mother would always get me some bologna. This was my great adventure, I was four years old, soon to be five. Daddy found some land near Oak Grove, Louisiana and we paid down with money we had and financed the 20 Acres with C.M. Wactor at 6% interest. I remember the 120 acres was financed with the Federal Land Bank at 4% interest. We closed on the Land August 25, 1937. I was to call this area home, on and off, for the next 13 years.

Now, we had 180 acres of old worn out farmland. Dad later lost 20 acres of this land for nonpayment of $100 against the $500.00 borrowed. The 20 acres are described as: The S ¸ of SW · of NE · of Section 17,T.23 N.R.11 East, containing 20 acres, more or less, situated in the Parish of West Carroll, State of Louisiana.

Later Clyde bought 80 acres; Fred bought 20 acres and other sales, left about 60 acres to divide up when Mother died. This left an estate of about $15,000 when Dad and Mother's heirs sold out - a lifetime of work - an old trunk full of memories.

Our home place was located, 32-58-59.75N, 091-22-01.15W. I remember the old house we lived in. It is where xxxxxxx Wylie has her house now (1994). There was a front porch and on the left side facing the house, there was a big grapevine. Dad, Mother and some friends were setting on the front porch playing cards when lightning struck a tree nearby. Mother said it burned the hair on her arm. She would never play cards after that.

Later, xxxxxxx sold her farm and moved into Kilbourne. The house was about 2 1/2 feet off of the ground. I would play under the house in the dirt. Around back we had a smokehouse. Dad would make pork sausage. He would put it in thin cloth liners and hang it up in the smokehouse with the hams and shoulders. A small fire would be lit under this and the grease would keep the fire going. The meat would keep, due to the lack of moisture and the seasoning Mother would put in it. We would salt away the rest. It would keep up into the next summer. I still like well-prepared salt pork. What you have to eat as a child you will probably like to eat as an adult.

About this time I threw my last fit. One Saturday Dad, Mom and I went to Oak Grove. While Dad was shooting pool, I went with Mother as she shopped and looked in the store windows. In one of the stores I saw this pair of bright chrome roller skates. I told Mother I wanted them. She told me the nearest concrete from where we lived was in Oak Grove, which is 12 miles away. I started crying and carrying on. After all, this had always worked before when I wanted something. Mother told me when I got through carrying on, she would be down the street. She went about 2 stores down and looked in the window, as if she didn't know me. I cried and got down on the sidewalk, just about the thing a 5-year-old would do. When I saw this was not going to sway Mother, I quit crying and told her I was ready to go. She said, "Are you through, Son?" I told her I was. That was my last fit. The realization had set in, I knew there were things in life that I would not have. Some things I would have, but none of them I got by throwing a fit.

Clyde and Paul lived with us. Grady, Fred and their families were living in Mississippi. Later Grady lived in West Carroll, near Oak Grove, Louisiana, until his death.

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I remember when one of the farmers, which lived nearby, bought a radio. He invited all the neighbors around to come over on Saturday night and listen to the Grand Old Opry on WSM Nashville, Tennessee. We hooked up our mule team to the wagon and went visiting. Dad didn't like to use the mules for visiting after they had worked in the field all week. This was the one and only exception I remember him making in that regard. I remember the steel rim wheels on our wagon making harsh sounds on the gravel road and how the sound would change when we turned off on a dirt road or the different sounds they made when crossing a wooden bridge. On the way back I lay on an old quilt in the back of the wagon. I could tell how far we were from home by the sounds the wagon and mules made on the road. The sounds and scents of the country never leave your memory. The fresh cut hay, the smell of rain, a fresh plowed field, a fire place on a cold winter night, the way a horse makes a little noise deep in its throat as it nears home, these things are worth remembering.

The radio, batteries and antenna hookup had been moved to the farmer's front porch. Most of the farmers set around and talked. The women visited together and the children played. There was very little attention paid to the Grand Old Opry. The next year, when we sold our crops, Dad got a battery-operated radio from Thompson Hardware and Furniture Store, in Oak Grove, La., for $35.45. (5 monthly payments of $6.00 and one payment of $5.45) I can still remember a certain varnished wood smell that came from that radio. Every chance I got, when Dad was gone, I would undo the screws and take the back off, look at the soft red glow of the vacuum tubes and wonder how it really worked.

Now, I would listen to the Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Gangbusters and other far away sounds. We would all set around and listen to the news every night. My mother kept every piece of paper and mail we ever received in her old trunk. I can dig through this treasure and recall those farming days of my life.

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Clyde and Paul built a bag swing out by the barn and connected a rope high up in a big oak tree. The launch point was about 10 feet high, built from old lumber. It had a quickly constructed ladder to climb. Now, you could climb the ladder, jump and straddle the bag when someone would swing it toward you. This was like a trapeze artist in the circus, except we would have our legs around the bag. All the local kids would come over on Sunday and enjoy a mighty swing under the big oak trees.

Our old house was drafty in the winter. Heating in the winter was never considered a problem; no one expected the whole house to be warm. The fireplace would only get one side warm at a time. Only one room was heated by the fireplace and the cook stove heated the kitchen. At night the bucket that held our drinking water would freeze over at the top.

I remember and will never forget the bone-chilling cold getting into bed. I would turn the covers back, quickly throw off my clothes and jump in bed. I would get in the fetal position and as I warmed up, cautiously extend my legs out. By the time I quit shaking from the cold I would be asleep. In the winter all the ponds would freeze over so we could slide on them with our regular shoes. I had never seen an ice skate. It never seems to get that cold now. The ponds never freeze where they will support your weight.

During the winter months, Dad and all my brothers hunted for squirrel, rabbit, duck, and just about anything Mother could put in the frying pan to eat. When we got the long guns out, the dogs would go crazy, barking, and jumping, getting ready for the hunt. It is really something to watch as a pack of dogs get on an animal’s scent and work their way through the woods for the kill. I know that to some, killing an animal is revolting, but remember any time you eat meat, an animal has to die. It really depends on how hungry you are. Anyway, as we would go through the woods, the dogs would surprise a rabbit and the race was on. The dogs would usually win. Unless the rabbit went in a hole, the dogs would get the fresh meat instead of us.

In the summer it was back to raising something to take to market, like cotton and a few cows. We still raised most of what we eat. When Deer season opened, several of us would go back in the swamps and hunt deer. It was really a something if the Williams boys invited you to hunt with them. All of the Williams boys made it through WW2 without getting a scratch. I can still remember Glen Williams giving me a lecture on gun safety as he did any new kid on the hunt. We would hunt all day, listen to war stories late into the night and be back hunting at daylight the next morning. Dad told me those Williams boys could sneak upon a ghost in the woods; they were that good at hunting. Not anyone I talked to was surprised they came back from the war without a scratch. I asked one of the Williams' how you survived a certain island invasion. He told me he just found a place to hunker down on the beach and smoke a cigarette, until the big guns did their work. I never really got that much out of him.

After the dogs had chased deer all day, we would round them up for feeding and bedding down. It seemed strange to hear them yelping as they moved around the next morning. Those old tired sore muscles were giving them pain. It didn't take long for them to get ready for the next day’s hunt. I have never seen a dog that was not instantly ready for a hunt.

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One day, at school, the teacher told us about a government program that would help us. They wanted to give us food. She gave me some papers to fill out and return to her. I was real excited about this and told Dad when I got home. He said that he didn't want anything to do with the government. He did not want them coming on his land, for any reason. A few days later the teacher asked me why I had not returned to papers. I told her that we didn't want any government food. Someone finally came out to the house and we signed up. They gave us a piece of brass about as big as a silver dollar. Our number was on this brass tag. Dad got an old feed sack and tied the brass tag on it. Then once a month, Mr. Dawson would come by with his truck. Dad would give him a quarter and he would bring back the sack with government commodities in it. We got cheese, prunes, rice, beans and things like that. The local grocery merchants did not like this project at all. For us, it was like Christmas every month. Dad always said that you never got something for nothing. He was right about that.

We were able to purchase a canning machine, cans and a pressure cooker under some government program. Every year as our vegetable garden was harvested, we would break out the canning machine, cook and can just about everything we could think of to see us through the winter. During the winter we would butcher several goats and make chili out of them. We canned a lot of goat chili. Chili was my favorite food that we canned. We never did try to can any pork. I remember Dad saying that pork is difficult to can. Anyway, it is real security to have food stock piled for the winter. We would all pitch in for the yearly vegetable canning. The food was cooked then put in cans that were not sealed. The cans were then placed in a pressure cooker. This process would kill the bacteria and sterilize the cans and lids. After the pressure cooker, while the cans were still real hot, they were placed in the canning machine, and one by one the metal lids were sealed on the cans. As the cans cooled they would pop, and the lids would be sunk in slightly. If, in a certain can, the food should spoil, the can would bulge out and it was thrown away. The cans were opened and saved. There was an attachment on the canning machine to cut the very top off and we used the can again.

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Some company had built a sweet potato canning plant in Oak Grove. Now, all the farmers around were planting sweet potatoes. Dad and I decided to give sweet potatoes a try. We would buy the sweet potato slips, the small plants and plant them in the moist soil. The weather was warm enough for me to go without shoes. I was loading the new plants on our planting sled. During my trips back and forth, I would slide my bare fee on the wet soil. A piece of glass found my left foot and slit it open from toe to heel. Mother took care of it, washed it out with kerosene and we went back to work.

The next day, while the dew was on, Dad and I we went down in the pasture to look at our cows. I got my foot wet and Mother bandaged it. The next day I was chopping cotton, it was difficult for me to walk, as my knee was stiff. Daddy came by with the mule team and put me on one of them to ride home.

The next morning I had a bad infection. There were red streaks running up my leg from by ankle and from my knee to my hip. This sounded the alarm with Dad and he took me to a doctor in Eudora, Arkansas. I don't know what they talked about in the other room, but Dad took hold of me and held me down while the doctor lanced my ankle and behind my knee. There was no shot to stop the pain, or anything like that. The doctor swabbed out the infection as best he could and told Dad that if this didn't clear it up they would have to take my leg off. The doctor started me on Sulfa drugs. With the Sulfa drugs and this aggressive treatment, my leg was saved.

My leg was stiff after it started to heal and I could not straighten it out. For several weeks I hobbled around, just touching my toe to the ground when I walked. I was on my back in the bed one night and Dad came in, set down on the bed and placed his hand on my raised knee. He asked me when I was going to straighten it out. I told him I was trying, but that it hurt. Without saying a word he mashed by leg straight, I said a few words, it hurt like hell. It was all over; my leg was and is in good shape.

Dad was a powerful man from all the years of blacksmithing and farming. When he was young, every time he got into a fight he broke his right hand. Dad had always smoked a pipe and when he got mad he would bite the pipe stem into. He would say "aw hell." When I asked him what was the matter, he would say, "I bit my damn pipe stem in two." When I was very young, he would let me fill up his pipe with tobacco and light it for him. Dad would buy Prince Albert tobacco in a bright red quart can. I would open it and smell the tobacco. It sure smelled good. Sometime I would sneak enough tobacco to roll me a cigarette.

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I had started to the first grade when I was 5 instead of waiting until I was 6. It was the parents' choice in those days. That winter I came down with the mumps and stayed home from school for a week. Dad was killing hogs for our meat supply. He would shoot the hog with a twenty-two rifle, cut its throat and hang it up to bleed. During this time he would build a big fire to heat a tub full of water. After the hog had finished bleeding, it would be soaked in the hot water for a moment to loosen its hair. Our bacon with the rind on, or the Cracklings would not have pig hair on it. Dad was cutting some old worn out truck and car rubber tires for the fire. His double bit ax always had one real sharp blade and the other blade was dull for chopping wire and things of that nature. As he was going to cut up the old tires, I can still remember him looking at his ax and choosing the dull blade to use on the tires as they have wire around the rim edge.

Dad was a powerful man and as he hit the tire with the dull side, the ax rebounded and struck him with the sharp blade in the head, cutting a vertical gash from his forehead to the inner corner of his right eye. He pulled the ax out of his head. I could hear the creak of the bone letting go. Dad set down and took his shirttail and held it up to his head to stop the bleeding. Mother was there with bandages and tape to dress the wound. Dad set there for about thirty minutes. Mother made a pot of coffee and after we finished drinking that, Dad got up and finished killing and dressing hogs. From then on when he worked hard and would sweat, the sweat would run in that scar to his right eye. It was difficult to see the scar, unless you were real close. After Dad died, I saw him lying in the coffin; I saw this faint scar and remembered the day of the ax. True grit is hard to find anymore.

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Looking back at my childhood, I began to realize what a social event that coffee played in our lives. If you went visiting you must drink the coffee that is offered to you. Anything that happened from funerals to good news, bad news, reading the mail, feeling bad, anything was a call to get that coffeepot going. The coffee was boiled and very strong. You would normally get a half-cup and sip it, like whiskey. My Mother would fix my coffee in the mornings just like she fixed her own, two spoons of sugar lots of cream.

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When I was in the fourth grade at Kilbourne, they started building a lunchroom next to the school. This project was finished during the summer and by the time we started to school, it was ready to go. Up until this time, I had to take a lunch to school. Most of the time it was a biscuit with bacon, sausage, ham or egg on it. The new lunchroom was a big event in my fourth grade experience. The cost was five cents a meal. Everyone was encouraged to purchase a monthly meal ticket. They said the nickel was for the milk. For those that couldn't afford it, the nickel was not required.

The school hired some of the local women to do the cooking. I sure did fatten up. They had rolls instead of biscuits. After I would finish my meal, I would eat five or six rolls with butter and honey. One of the girls in my class told the teacher that I sopped my biscuit in the honey with my hand, instead of using a fork. I told the teacher it was my nickel and I would eat any way I wanted to. I was in trouble most of the time at school. The whippings from the teachers were not that bad, but the principal could really set your rear end on fire. I heard one of the teachers tell the principal that L.H. Wylie would be in prison before he was grown. Looking back, if I had lived in an abusive home, I would have had trouble living under the rules of society. The whippings at school made me meaner at school. The fourth grade was a lot of fun anyway, for me.

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At this time, brother Clyde lived close by with Ruby (Kenney) Wylie, his wife. He had bought 80 acres from Dad on the south side of the farm. In my opinion, Clyde was never much of a farmer. I think he realized this and left the farm early on. Anyway, Clyde bought a horse to break for the plow. Every time something was placed on the horses back it would start bucking, kicking and carrying on. He tied rope from the front feet to the back feet of the horse. When the horse kicked it would pull itself down. This did not work. He tried cussing and beating the horse. This did not work. He even sat down and cried. It didn't take long to realize this was a rodeo horse and it was doing what it had been trained to do, buck, kick and bite. Clyde sold the horse and most probably this same scene was played out again to some other farmer.

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At the beginning of our farming adventure in Louisiana, we had two sharecroppers on our place. There was one family that I remember well. The Grandpa would sit in a rocking chair on the porch and cough. He would hold an old rag up to his mouth and cough real deep and long then he would spit in an old coffee can. His kinfolk would bury the can. Years later, after the old house was torn down, I wondered if you could catch TB by farming the ground where the old coffee cans were buried. Dad told me the spittoons that sat around in stores when he was a boy, was for people with TB to spit in, not as much as for tobacco chewing and spitting.

There was another sharecropper family that had two boys about my age, Hillard and Edward Frith. Their old man would make some kind of solder paste and a device for holding a coal oil lamp chimney in place. I would go, miles around, with those boys while they sold this stuff to the neighbors. Brother Paul married Verna Mae Frith, he was seventeen years old and she was younger. The Frith family didn't do well farming and later moved. Last I heard they were in California. When Paul left, I was the only child at home until Mary Lee was born. In effect, I was raised by myself. Mother and Dad let me do just about anything I wanted to do.

I had plenty of mechanical things to play with in Dad's blacksmith shop and farm equipment. I learned how to entertain myself. I think my motivation to succeed and learn in life developed from getting praise and approval from my parents. When I was small, I would always try to learn something or do something constructive for their praise and approval. I did very few things to incur the disapproval of my parents. When Dad would go to town, Mother would let me take her sewing machine apart and sometimes the battery operated radio and record player. I was always able to get them back together and working before Dad came home.

We finally got electricity in our house. There was no electric meter. The electric company billed you a flat rate. When a storm would come, sometimes we would be without electricity for several days. I would take the carbon rod out of a dry cell batter and use it with one hundred ten-volt electricity to burn holes in metal things. By that time I could wire up light sockets and outlet plugs. I read everything I could find. Science Fiction Stories and the Readers Digest were my favorites. It was still a popular belief that too much reading would make your eyes weak.

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We were walking farmers at this time. No tractors, just mule teams. It was my job to pump water for the mules at noon and at quitting time. When the mule teams were real thirsty, I could see the water in the trough go down with each swallow the mules would take. When I would stand and pump, I would think of ways to hook a motor to the pump that might do the work I was doing. The device was never built, but it would have worked.

When farm animals work they have to have consideration. Dad always had a deep feeling for animals, that they be well fed with grain, watered and rested. We would leave the fields at 11:30 A.M. so the animals and humans could be refreshed. We would return to the fields at 1:00 P.M.

We had this old mule; it must have been twenty years old. As the mule got older we only used it to plow the garden. Then we retired the old fellow. It got fed and everything just like the rest of our live stock. One cold winter morning it didn't come up for feed, so we went looking for it. During the night it had just laid over and died. We were all sad.

CHAPTER THREE

World War 2

1941

Everyone was talking about the threat of war in Europe, with Germany. It was quite a surprise that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. This would change all our lives forever. This country boy was finally going to see the big city. We all sat around the old battery operated radio, hanging on to every word the President said. It was talked around that we could whip up on those Japs before breakfast. I heard them say the Jap's rifle bullets hurt no more than a bee sting.

The farmers in our area were not too happy with the Jews around. All the Jews lived in town with stores and I guess all of them lived a much higher standard of living than anyone I knew. I remember several of the farmers talking, saying that Hitler had the right idea about getting the Jews out of Germany. I think this resentment, of the Jews being successful, played a very great part in their slaughter in Germany, by Hitler. I know this was the reason Jews were resented by some, at this time, in my hometown. I think if everyone had known of the actual horror the Jews were subjected to, the United States would have entered the war with Germany earlier.

It is always in the economy. When the economy is real bad people turn on each other, then industrious people are always being pulled down by the lazy. It makes no difference what their religion or race.

The war effort was catching on, even in our remote area of the country. One day Dad was plowing, with our two mules, close to the public gravel road that ran by our farm. I had taken Dad some cool water to drink, and he had positioned the mule team under a shade tree for them to rest for a few minutes.

This car pulled up, stopped and a man wearing a suit got out. Wearing a suit to visit our farm did not put you in a good light with my Dad. This man climbed over our fence and approached us. He introduced himself and asked Dad if he wanted to fight. Dad reached in his toolbox on the plow frame got a big crescent wrench, and said, "You damn right." This guy knew he had said the wrong thing as he moved closer to the fence and safety. Then he bolted over the fence, for the safety of his car.

The guy, through an open window, tried to explain that he wanted Dad to fight through the purchase of war bonds. Our biggest investment was in eating from day to day. He never came back.

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During WW2, some of the local farmers were going off to different places to work for the war effort. There were jobs in manufacturing plants, for the taking. We were in contact with Fred and Grady, who were working in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Finally, Dad decided to give it a try and off he went to Lake Charles, Mother and I stayed behind on the farm. Dad hired on with the Shell Oil Company as a carpenter. He was sending money home and Mother was putting it in the bank. My Mother always had a little money put back.

One day we got a letter from Dad that he had been robbed. Mother didn't think Dad was robbed, he just got drunk and spent his whole paycheck. Mother always said that my Dad was really a good-time person. I supposed this means that he always wanted to party. Most of the time, on the farm, the only time we had any liquor to drink was in the fall when we sold the crops off. Sometime we would take a calf to the auction in Eudoria, Arkansas, and Dad would get a bottle of wine. He never was addicted to alcohol. He drank from time to time, but I never saw him drunk.

I was very glad to get the farm behind me. I don't remember the bus ride to Lake Charles, but I will never forget the first sight of the rented trailer we were to live in. How close the trailers were to each other, this was just more than I could believe.

My brothers lived close by and later on Paul would come for a visit on his way to the Far East as a soldier. Lake Charles sure was a change from the farm. I had money and there were stores close by. For the first time in my life, I didn't have any chores or anything to do. We sure did eat better, even though there was rationing of just about everything.

We had brought quite a few cans of goat chili from the farm. Some of our friends in Lake Charles could accept the idea of goat chili and some couldn't. Dad really got a kick out of telling people they were eating goat meat. On some Saturday nights, Mom, Dad and I would go to the Beer Joints. Mom didn't care much for the drinks, but Dad would have a few beers, and then play the nickel slot machines.

I would usually sit with Mother and sometime watch Dad play. If I walked up to Dad while he was winning, he would say, "Come here boy, stand here and bring me luck." If Dad was losing, he would say, "Go sit with your mother you bring me bad luck". It was a lose, lose situation for me because Dad eventually lost, every time.

There were lots of friends, fights and fun. I learned how to swim and saw my first airplane up close. Someone had taken a bunch of us kids to the public swimming pier, when a military seaplane made a forced landing in the lake. As the wind pointed it our way, I started swimming toward it. The motors were not running so I climbed on one of the pontoons. I was amazed by all the knobs, switches and gauges. This image is locked in my mind to this day.

This was a good experience for me. My model airplane building took a turn up after this. Later on I got to see a shot down ME109 German plane. The airplane was on display at a war bond sales promotion. Every one commented on the quality work of those German engineers, I agreed. I built several ME109 models from kits. If I knew I had only one more day to live, I would like to spend it flying a ME109 around this beautiful country.

I was not impressed with the school system in West Lake, Louisiana. Because Hitler favored blond-headed people, our teacher said that blond-headed people were not as smart as dark headed people. Most of the kids, at school, were of French "Cajuns" extraction and were dark headed. I was in the minority here.

Helen

Helen

Fred and his wife, Helen, were having trouble. This was normal, most of the time they had trouble. On morning Fred and Helen really got in to it and that evening, when Fred came home, Helen was over at Mr. Bass's house. Mr. Bass owned the trailer park where we all lived. Fred went to the back door of the Bass home and called for his wife. (Remember we were in Louisiana) Bass got his 45 automatic pistol and brought it to the door. When Fred saw the pistol, he hit Bass over the head with a flex handle wrench. Bass went to the hospital and Fred went to jail. All of my brothers went to the Police station to get Fred out, so the police put all of them in jail.

Dad went and got a lawyer and got them out of jail. At that time in Louisiana, you could not harbor someone's wife, if he wanted her back. The last time I saw Bass he still had the scar from his learning experience and Fred still had Helen for a few more years.

Dad told me about this. One night Fred and Helen really got into a big shouting match and Fred slapped her. Fred was a big powerful man and I am sure that Helen got the worst end of this. Anyway, Fred had been drinking and after a while went to bed. The next morning when Fred woke up Helen was setting on his chest with a straight razor against his throat. She told him, :You son-of-a-bitch, if you ever hit me again, I will cut your god damned throat.” Fred never hit Helen again. (Just a side note for any gun-grabber reading this – in my view the straight razor left a greater impression than a gun would have.)

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My Mother's brother, Earl Gentry, lived and worked in Beaumont, Texas, during the war. Beaumont is not too far from Lake Charles, Louisiana. One fine Saturday we set out to see Uncle Earl. I was in the back seat of the 1939 Chevrolet, Mother and Dad were in the front. We heard a loud strange noise, coming from somewhere. Dad said, "Listen, What's that?" He stuck his head out the window of the car like he was looking for an airplane and I glanced to the right. The first diesel electric train we had ever seen was bearing down on us. I told Dad to step on it, he did. The train passed too close behind us, with the train engineer blasting away on the horn. We had never heard this type of train horn. We thought, until now, that all trains were steam-driven.

CHAPTER FOUR

Move to Tennessee

1943

Dad decided to move to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for a job as a blacksmith. We bought the trailer we were living in and Dad started to fix it up for the trip. I had always lived in the flat land, hills and valleys were new to me. Dad would drive and Mother would read the map. Mother would tell Dad to turn or follow a certain road and Dad would argue with her and miss the turn. Then he would get all excited until we were back on track.

Somewhere in the Tennessee hills, the connection to the trailer started to come apart. We stopped at a blacksmith and Dad made another part for the trailer. We arrived in Harriman, Tennessee and parked in Arp's trailer park, just across the street from a school.

Those kids in Tennessee were tough. Years later on a ship to Korea, I met a classmate from Mrs. Mabry's class in Tennessee. I was on deck of the USNS Sultan when I saw this guy taking a picture. I told him he looked familiar. We went over where we had been and found a common thread in the hills of Tennessee.

My school years were a little more difficult at this time, most of the kids in school knew everyone else since birth and I was an outsider. I got a weekly paper route delivering the Saturday Evening Post. This was a good experience for me, it taught me people would turn down the radio and quit talking in the house when you come to collect for the month. It didn't take long to eliminate the deadbeats from my route. Dogs were another problem that took some getting use to. Just keep the bicycle between you and the dog. For the more difficult cases, I got a big nut off of a plow bolt, tied it to a string. I would twirl it above my head and down in the direction of the dog. The dog could not see the device and when contact was made the dog would never get close to me again. The dog could not see what had hit him.

The decline of my Saturday Evening Post delivery business came, one evening at dusky dark. I was hurrying to get through with my route. I was coming down a big hill too fast. A big rock in the gravel road sent me over the bicycle handle bars on to the rocky road. When I came to, Mother and Dad were rushing up to me as I lay in someone's yard. A little neighbor girl and her Mother were nursing me back to reality. In the Western movies, when someone gets knocked out and comes back around, they jump up and start fighting. Don't believe it. After you are knocked out, you are weak and confused for about an hour. The doctor said I was in good shape.

The next day I repaired my bicycle and was able to ride it, bandaged hands, black eye and all. The rest of my problems came, at school, when I was running back to catch a ball. I fell backwards and caught myself with my right arm then it snapped just above the wrist. It was a clean and simple fracture of both bones. There was no pain until I tried to move my fingers, then it never quit hurting. Mother had Mrs. Arp, the lady that owned the trailer park, drove us to the doctor. Dad met us there. They put me to sleep and I threw up the chili I had for lunch. The next morning, my hand was turning blue and hurt like hell. Dad took me back to the doctor and over the doctor's objection, the doctor loosened the cast. Dad told the doctor that if he didn't loosen the case he would. Dad got his pocketknife out to cut the cast off, when the doctor said that he would do it, but would not be responsible for the outcome.

I was glad that Dad was there. It is still that way, when something on your body turns blue, get it fixed, quick. The Tennessee summer of my life was very happy, it was a change from Lake Charles or the farm. I would ride my bicycle out to the little country stores in search of the hard to find tobacco for Dad. Dad smoked a pipe and just about anything I could find he would smoke. Dad was working at Oak Ridge making hangers for glass pipes that ran through the plant. These pipes would carry the enriched uranium gas that would make an atomic bomb.

There were rumors, because everything was so secret, but it was common knowledge that the project was to make some type high explosive. Dad had a 1939 Chevrolet that he purchased in Lake Charles. After he wrecked it in Tennessee, he bought a Ford Mercury. This was one of the nicer cars. It seems like every weekend someone was working on it. Life was easy for me. After school there was nothing to do but explore the hills, caves and swimming holes. This life of leisure was coming to an end. The war was over. They wanted to keep Dad on at Oak Ridge and I think he might have stayed, but for this woman welder in charge of the group. Dad said there was no way in hell a woman would tell him what to do. He quit. We sold the trailer and visited kinfolk in Tennessee on the way back to Louisiana.

CHAPTER FIVE

Farming in Louisiana

1946

All the money Dad had saved was represented by a Mercury car. He sold the car to purchase an Allis-Chalmers tractor for us to farm with. I know what the slaves felt like as I planned my escape. My brothers were working on the pipeline, making excellent money, I knew this was for me.

Farming is hard work. You don't ever get caught up. You might take off and go fishing in the summer when the crops are laid by, but you don't get caught up. You can't make any money, by the time you are harvested, you can just about pay back what you borrowed to make the crop in the first place. I can look back and see that we could have managed better, but anyone can look back and see mistakes in any life.

In the summer, Dad and I would cut logs in the woods and haul them to the saw mill. These logs would be cut for cross ties and sold to the railroad. The saw mill would get half of them for sawing them up and we would get the other half. When you use a crosscut saw, there are two people, one on each side of the log. You make a measure and start pulling the saw back and forth until the log is cut in two. I was always the smallest one and I survived by lifting up on the saw as it came my way and pressing down on the saw when the other guy pulled. It is hot and humid in the woods in August. You just sweat until there is not any more. As you get too hot, the sweat seems sticky at first, then you sort of quit sweating, your skin feels hot. By this time you don't have a good grip on what is happening around you. I have seen people just wander off in the woods, not having the slightest idea of what they were doing. Someone would give the guy a couple of salt pills and lots of water. After the salt pills take effect, it seems like a cool breeze rises from inside you. Farming, and later on the pipeline there was always salt pills by the water cooler.

Mules do real well at pulling things that they can get started moving on the first try. Sometimes, in the logwoods, you may have to give it several tries to get a big log moving. A mule will give up, sulk up and lie down. I have seen Dad raise up a mule's eyelid and spit tobacco juice in it to get them going. This may or may not work. What will always work is to cover up their nose with your hands. The old mule will quit trying to breathe for just a minute then jump up with a wild look in his eye and snort real loud. You can tell when a mule is pulling by the way the double tree that they are hooked to is positioned. When you hook mules up as a team, there will be two mules connected to a heavy oak timber about five feet long, (The double tree), with one bolt at the balance or pivot point. When both mules are pulling the double tree is balanced. When one mule is slacking off, the double tree moves back. That is the one to encourage. Some mules learn that if they lean forward and grunt they can fool you into thinking they are pulling. So if you see a mule driver encouraging one of his mules, he knows which one to encourage by looking at the position of the double tree.

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Grady was working on the pipeline in Eudora, Arkansas about eleven miles from home. I had asked to borrow his pickup truck to take Mother to the doctor. There was something wrong. I hitched a ride to Eudora. I could not find the key, where he had hidden it. I hot-wired the pickup and Dad and I took Mother to the doctor. Dad and I shot pool while she was seeing the doctor. When we picked her up she was crying. The doctor told her she had a tumor. At that time if you had cancer you were going to die in a very short time. She was to go to Monroe, Louisiana and have this checked out. I didn't go to Monroe with Mother and Dad. When they came back, they were all smiles. Mother was going to have a baby, I was going to have a little brother or sister. My Mother was 46 years old.

Mary Lee Wylie was born in 1947. Dad and I were clipping the pasture for weeds when it all started. We got the doctor to come out and deliver her. By the time Mary Lee was eight months old, she would ride on the tractor with me until she went to sleep. I would drive the tractor up by the house, race the motor and Mother would come out and take Mary Lee from my arms, still asleep.

Grady's wife, Ruth, would keep their 1937 International pick up truck while Grady was away on an out of state pipeline job. She could not drive, so I would take her for groceries and anything else she needed. I would keep the pickup at our house. I have many fond memories of that old truck. When the starter finally played out, I would jack up the left rear wheel, no fenders, put the truck in high gear, turn the switch on and give the wheel a turn. It always worked for a starter. I would take it out of gear, remove the jack and away I would go. I did not have a driver's license, very few people did in those days.

During the winter, my brother Grady would always stop by our house on his way home. If it was night, he would leave a cigarette on a certain fence post for me. I would go out later and get the cigarette to smoke later. Dad and Mother never knew about this. I never worked with Grady on the pipeline.

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Beside the back door, in the kitchen, Dad had cut a square hole in the floor for the cat to go in and out. Most of what the cat eat, the cat had to catch. Sometime Dad would feed the cat while he was eating. The cat would stand on his hind legs and place it's paws on Dad's leg and beg. Dad would get a morsel from his plate and give to the cat. This worked well for Dad and for the cat. When dad got to talking, he ignored the cat. The cat did not want to be ignored and would extend his claws into Dad's leg. Dad would turn his knife around so the handle extended down and peck the cat between the eyes with the knife handle and say, "You son-of-a-bitch quit clawing me." Then the cat would run through the hole in the kitchen floor. Most of the time the cat got fed, but sometime the cat got a peck on the head. Dad loved that old cat, but this routine was played out many times at our dinner table.

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There was this deaf and dumb guy that lived down the road. He had an old beat-up Servi-cycle. That is a motor bike. The motor bike had been in a storage shed for several years and would not run. I swapped a sow pig for it, over Dad's objections. Actually it was my pig, but when it came to swapping it off, Dad wanted a say in the deal.

I piled all this junk just outside by bedroom window. Nothing material I have ever had meant as much to me as that pile of junk. I spent every spare minute working on it. The original two-cycle motor was shot. It would be cheaper for me to find another motor than fix up the original one. Power lines were new in that part of Louisiana so there were several gasoline washing machine motors in people's junk piles. I obtained two of these washing machine gasoline motors and proceeded to use the best parts and make one good motor. I put new piston rings on the cylinders. To increase the compression, I filed the head down, until the valves would just clear the top of the head assembly when it was running. Now, it was a little hard to start, but it ran loud and fast. The new motor was mounted on a two by twelve-inch oak board with a one-quart gasoline tank. I would fill up the gas tank and tie on a quart fruit jar full of gasoline in the basket. I could explore the country side until I ran out of gas, then I would gas up from the fruit jar and just have enough gas to make it back home. I had to experiment with different size pulleys on the motor, to get maximum efficiency. With the correct pulleys and a drive belt, I was ready for the open road. There were no brakes or fenders on it. I had to plan my stops ahead of time. When I had shoes on, very carefully, I would put my foot between the front fork and the tire for braking action. If there was an emergency stop elsewhere, I would just run out in a field or the road ditch. I no longer had to walk. What freedom. The two social events of the week were going to Oak Grove on Saturday afternoon and going to church on Sunday night. On Saturday I would go shoot pool until the movie opened, then after the movie, I would get me a bowl of chili and big RC Cola. Sometime I would stay for the late, midnight show.

Going to church was a chance to see all the local girls and maybe get to walk one home. Every summer, at every chance, I would go swimming down at the Head of The Lake in Beouf River. This area was in its natural state with a long winding river forming a small lake. The river current through the lake would keep the water fresh. Large cypress trees around the lake, with shade, for lots of summer fun. This was the beautiful untouched America.

When I came back from Korea, the Corps of Engineers had drained and destroyed over one thousand acres of this pristine lake-forest area. Even now when I see the Beouf River, I see a muddy ditch cut through farmland that is not farmed but in the Federal Land Bank. The government paid to drain the land for farming and the government pays the farmers not to farm the land because of over production of farm crops. What few fish that are in the river are too poisonous to eat, due to the run-off from the farmlands up river. One fine Sunday, three of us were planning a boat ride down river. We had stopped by the grocery store and got some ready-made cigarettes. We got the boat from the trailer and into the water and were getting ready to go for a Sunday ride. Before we cranked up the motor, the cigarettes were passed around and we all lit up. By just a glance, there was what looked like hair in the water. I ran and dove in the water. Someone had drowned or was drowning. I got him from the back, by the hair of his head and started for shore. When his head broke water, with that first breath of air, he sounded like a whale blowing water. He started trying to climb on top of me, but I was staying to his back to prevent this. By this time, one of my friends helped me pull him on the bank. He was blowing and breathing like a freight train. All this while his Dad was setting on the bank watching the action without saying a word. It is still a mystery to me how someone could watch their child struggle for air and not help. When it was all over, the kid and his Dad got up, got into their car and drove off, without saying a word to each other. Some people treat their farm animals better than they do their kids.

My first working experience was helping my Dad in the blacksmith shop. Dad would sharpen plow points, and repair just about anything else on the farm. I would usually make a fire for him in the forge and pile the black coal on. When the fire would get going, I would turn the blower to make the fire hotter. My job was to hold things while he hit it with a hammer. Usually I would jerk something out of the fire and place it on the anvil for him to hit. Other times I would be holding a chisel for him to hit. You would have to hold things exactly level with the anvil or the shock would just about take your hand off. I knew that someday I would be a boss or supervisor and you would never hear me yell and holler and take on with people that worked for me. I never have.

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One winter, J.V, Shaw and I went over in the black land to pull cotton. When it rains a lot on cotton, the leaves fall off and the cotton balls get rotten and you can't pick it. You can pull the complete boll off and send this rough cotton to the gin. It is worth something. The owner will hire workers to pull the bolls instead of picking them. The cotton gin will run this through a couple of times and clean it up. It will then be sold as a lesser grade of cotton. We paid one dollar a trip to the cotton fields to ride in the back of a covered pickup truck. The work was hard and the pay was cash each time we weighed our sacks. During the ride to and from the fields and at lunch, Shaw and I would play odd man with coins. A game where three people flip coins. The odd man gets the others' coins. When everyone gets the same, that is all heads or all tails, a tie, you flip over. We would decide between us who would take heads and the other would take tails. Most of the time you can control the way your coins land, so either J.V. or I would win most of the time. We made more money this way than we did working. To my utter amazement, no one ever caught onto our scam.

West Carroll Parish (County) is dry, God fearing and bible-thumping. We had to go over into East Carroll Parish, to Lake Providence, for booze. Lake Providence, Louisiana is another one of those beautiful places in this state. A natural formed crescent shaped lake, from the wandering action of the Mississippi River. Huge cypress trees over hanging the lake, just a natural beauty. They had whiskey and slot machines. I was about 13 at the time and the cotton and gambling money was burning a hole in my pocket. One Saturday night I got a ride with the Green brothers in the back of their truck. There were two of us in the back and three in the front. When we got to Lake Providence, I enjoyed the slot machines and the excitement of the forbidden side of life. We had a good old time. I had been to "Ludlow Fair." I had a bottle of whiskey (Four Roses) for the ride home. After all it was pretty cold in the back of that truck. On the way back, they dropped off one of the guys that was riding in the cab, at his home. It occurred to me that if I would get over the truck bed and walk around the edge, I could get in the cab and be warm. My friend in the back was asleep. Good plan.

We were going about forty miles per hour down this country road as I made my move. I was over the stake bed of the truck when we hit a bump in the road and I sailed off into the black night, to God knows where. I landed on my back in the not so soft grass, with the wind knocked out of me. My mind wandered back past the whiskey to logic, I tested my legs and arms and raised my head. I still had a death grip on that bottle. Everything moved, nothing hurt. When I got to my feet, I saw the lights on the truck as they turned around and heading back to get me. They jumped out and checked me over, put me in the front cab for the rest of my ride home. I didn't wake anyone, at home, on my way to bed. The next morning when I opened my eyes, being sore and stove up took on a new meaning for me. I couldn't move. At school Monday, I was a hero, the girls seemed to think the whole thing was silly, but they enjoyed hearing about it. I still had one more lesson to learn from the demon rum.

My next trip to Lake Providence was with the Pullen twins. They had been working in Houston and came home for a visit. One Saturday night we all headed for Lake Providence. This was my second trip, so I was an old hand at this by now. I tried my luck at whiskey sours, boy that was good. The slot machines quickly took care of my money. In fact we were all broke. By this time Runt, the smaller of the twins, was in pretty bad shape. We laid him in the floorboard in the back of the car. He started getting sick and this made me sick. He started throwing up in the car and I started throwing up on him. Being as how Runt started the sickness, we decided to throw him in the lake. It took all of us to accomplish this, as Runt didn't want to be thrown in the lake. We got to the water's edge and realized how hard it is to throw someone. We just waded out and turned him loose. We all got equally wet. We all were equally clean again. It was winter and we were all equally cold.

Another Saturday night at Lake Providence, we could not get a ride home. We spent the night in the graveyard. The rising sun woke us up and we hitched a ride back to Oak Grove and on home. If you are ever pressed for a place to spend the night, the graveyard is the safest place. The people there won't bother you.

I always tried to make it home at night or tell Mother I would be home the next day. She worried about me and I didn't realize how much until the Korean War.

Grandpa told me, when he was bumming around during the depression, he would ask the local Sheriff to let him spend the night in his jail. You would get one meal and you could prove where you were if something happened in the town, during the night. Then, he told me, the second best place was the graveyard.

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After we had the crops planted and plowed, it was time to wait for them to mature. This was called getting the crops laid-by. It was mid-summer, hot and humid. There was plenty to do on the farm, but everyone was ready for a break. During this time, my old buddy, J.V. Shaw and I would go fishing. We would bicycle as far as possible, hide our bicycles in the woods and walk into the swamps. It was not unusual for us to stay four or five days without seeing anyone else. Salt, frying pan, corn meal, cold biscuits, fishing poles and guns.
That is all we needed.
I found out that after about two days without a bath, the mosquito wouldn't bite you with as much enthusiasm as they did before. Old trees would break off and fall in the river, making a log jam or drift. That's where you catch catfish. The catfish were big and mean. You can ease up on a catfish real quiet, rub him on the belly and as he settles down, ram your thumb in his lower jaw, the fight is on. I have had some of the big ones take the hide off of my hand and leave my shoulder sore from the struggle. Snakes were a problem. If you take a switch and swish around in front of you, walk slow to give him time to get out of the way, they don't want you around anymore than you want them around. It's been said that snakes can't bite under water. Water snakes would starve to death if they couldn't bite under water.

These trips to the swamps were lots of fun. We lived off of the land, with plenty to eat and lots of fun exploring the area.

In 1963 when my wife and I lived on Lawther Street in River Oaks, Texas, as we were going to the store, I saw this person in the near dark and by his outline and the way he moved, I knew it was J.V. Shaw. I had not seen him in years. We talked and visited with him some, but our interest and lives had changed so we now had nothing in common. He retired from the Army and is living in El Paso, Texas.
(James V. Shaw, August 29, 1931 – June 5, 2013)

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One fine August day, several of us, including Tommy Wylie, my brother Grady's boy was helping my Dad and me bale hay and haul it to the barn. The first step in this process is to cut the hay and let it lay in place for a day or two so that it will dry out and not spoil. If it rains while the hay is cut, it will ruin and the cows and other animals are reluctant to eat it. The next step is to rake the hay into rows, then push the rows of hay to the bailer. Workers with pitchfork feed the bailer as it chomps up the hay, packs it into bales. My job was to poke and tie the wire that would hold the finished bale together. At this time the hay bailer was fixed in one place in the hay field for the bailing process. One of the neighbors had a bailer and we paid him so much a bale to process out hay. This procedure has changed as equipment became more refined, then the bailer could be pulled behind a tractor and pick up the hay as it went and spit out the finished bales in the process. Later in the day Dad would assign me to drive the ton and half truck to pick up the hay bales and take them to our barn. He had hired some of the local black kids, about my age. We really had a good time. It was hard work, but as kids we made it fun. Then I asked one of the guys a question that sticks with me to this day. I smile every time I think of it. I asked, "What do you find different about white folks?" One of the guys told the oldest not to tell me, then he finally did. He said, "When you white folks sweat, it smells just like a wet chicken." I have told this story many, many times to point out the different perceptions people have with each other and every time, it reminds me of the great times we had hauling hay that hot summer day. This was one of the hottest jobs farming. It was done in the hottest part of the day after the dew had evaporated from the hay. So you couldn't get an early start in the cool of the morning. At noon we went to the house for lunch. Mother had some sweet potatoes in the oven. I could tell they were ready by the sweet sugar looking sap oozing from them. There is nothing better to eat than opening up one of those hot potatoes and laying on lots of country butter.

Tommy reached in the oven and grabbed a potato. It was hot and he was juggling it from hand to hand to keep from being burned. It was obvious he was losing the battle as he danced around keeping that steaming potato in the air. He told me to open the kitchen door, I did and he pitched the hot potato out in the yard. Our big old rooster saw the potato in the air and when it landed he sunk his bill, up to the eyes, in that hot potato. He withdrew quickly and started flapping his wings and crowing. From then on, until he died, when someone threw anything out the back door, that old roster would start flapping and crowing.

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I still have fond memories of coming home for lunch. I would pass by the garden and pick a big ripe tomato, warm in the noon sun. I would slice it up, salt it down and make me a tomato biscuit sandwich. When you work hard, eating becomes very important.

Chapter Six

My Lowest Point

1948

This was the lowest point in my life. I really didn't have any interest in anything. Looking around me, there was not much of a future, working night and day and not getting anything out of it. I still get depressed when I go back and visit the folks in Louisiana. After a short visit, I have got to get away before it gets a hold on me again. It is worse at sun set. It seems like that when I first brought Pat, my young wife, to Louisiana, the spell would be broken. I still felt the same way after a few days. There was one time, while visiting, that my car had a flat tire. I was really upset as this was my vehicle to get away and now it was broken. Sometime while driving from Wilmont, Arkansas to Kilbourne at night, going through by those dark deserted fields, I feel like I am going into some big black hole that I won't be able to get back.

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For several years my reading habits had turned to science and electronics. My dream was to get an Amateur Radio license. In any science class, in school, I would always get an A. The other subjects did not interest me, so I quit school in the ninth grade and started farming full time. Later on, in the Air Force, I got my GED for high school and then went to college.

I started smoking regular about this time. It seemed this was my year of mistakes. Dad was not in good health, aches and pains of all the long years of working too hard and long. Lots of people died around 50 to 55 years at that time in Louisiana. In the early winter, we would repair all our farm equipment. We have some breakdowns, but the major overhauls are done in the winter.

Our Allis Chalmers one-row tractor had someone in the driver's seat all summer, as we tried to make a living in this poor Louisiana dirt. The winter of my sixteenth birthday, I decided to overhaul the engine. Our old faithful yellow tractor was not pulling as good as it did in the past. I knew that the rings around the pistons were getting bad, due to the increased oil consumption. Dad was not feeling up to helping me very much, and at sixteen you don't really think you need any help.

As I drained the water from the radiator and purged the fuel tank, it occurred to me that I was out on that limb. If one of my brothers had to come by and help me, that would be awful. I carefully wrote down each step, with diagrams and notes as bolts, clamps and screws were removed and placed in a pan of gasoline for cleaning. The cylinders in that tractor moved up and down in removable sleeves. I fashioned a block of wood and pounded each sleeve out. The water seal rings around the sleeve had to be perfect when they were driven back in the motor block, or the radiator water would leak into the oil pan. While this operation was on going, my brothers would come by to visit and we would talk about my project. They did not offer, nor would I have accepted their offer to help in the actual overhaul. After everything was back in place, water in the radiator, oil in the pan and fuel in the tank, I was ready to pull the starter through. This tractor had to be started by a crank, it did not have a battery or starter, never had one. Black smoke, for just a second out of the exhaust and the engine settled down to a solid purr. I was very pleased with my accomplishment. This tractor farmed for many years and the engine was never torn down for overhaul again. When Mother died, I went by and visited the little yellow tractor for the last time. I have a large painting hanging in my den today, of the old home place and that little yellow tractor, out in front, where it should be.

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Dad was not able to make the payments on the 20 acres, where we lived. The bank took it back. We moved across the slew, to an old run down, three-room house. The old house was located on the 80 acres that Dad was able to pay on. This was a frame house in the extreme. It had a corrugated tin roof, a back bedroom, a middle room and a kitchen. 1 x 12 inch planks covered by tarpaper was the outside of the house. The same exposed 1 x 12 inch planks, with the exposed 2 x 4s were the inside. As you can see, there was no insulation. Even this was better than the log cabin in Arkansas. My Mother called it the shack. Our water pump was outside. The pipe was about 14 feet down to the water. You pumped the water using elbow grease. By today's standards it would be a poor place to get a drink of water. Taking a bath was in a wash tub. Most of the time you just washed up in a pan with a wash cloth. We had an outdoor, 2 holler, toilet. That was so a mother and child could go at the same time. There was always a Sears or Wards catalog to read and to use for toilet paper. When we were visiting or in town, Mother would always say it was time to get back to the shack when she wanted to go home. When Dad found out Mother was expecting another child, Mary Lee, we set about building another bedroom on the shack. At least the tarpaper on this part of the house, was stamped with a design to look like brick. The house was on wooden blocks about 12 inches above the ground. We could almost count our chickens through the cracks in the floor. I remember one time Pat, my wife, and I were visiting my Mother and Dad, when Dad told Pat to be sure L.H. builds you a good house. I think when Dad knew he was going to die there; he regretted not building Mother a better home. He knew that we could have cut down the trees on our land, had them cut at the local sawmill and put together a better house. But now, for Dad, it was too late.

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I was ready for a change from the farm. There was too much work and not enough opportunity. One of my responsibilities was to make sure we had enough firewood for the cook stove and heater. Only the front room and kitchen was heated. After meals were prepared, the kitchen reverted to the outside temperature real quick. Dad would start a fire in the wood heater each cold morning. Mother took care of the fire in the kitchen. I cut the wood. During the winter, every evening, I would cut and carry into the house enough cut fire wood to carry us over until the next day. This was a regular job that you didn't forget. I had a Buck-Saw, that is a one boy saw, a rack to stack the wood on and a tractor to pull the raw material from the woods. I would try to get the mix of green and dry wood just right so the fire would start quickly and last a long time. After I went to work on the pipeline, Dad got a kerosene burner for the main heater and cook stove.

Sometimes Grandpa Gentry would come to visit us and stay until he and Dad got into it over something. My Grandpa Gentry was pretty smart and loved that bottle. Grandpa started out in life to be a doctor, then a pharmacist, then a bar tender, but he couldn't leave that old demon rum alone. He would drink just about anything, but gin was his favorite tonic. When we lived in Arkansas, Mother would tell me how Grandpa would cut sticker weeds and put them in the path for my little bare feet to find. It seemed Grandpa was old from the first time I saw him until he died. He smoked cigarettes that he rolled from Kite brand tobacco. His fingers had a permanent yellow stain from holding his Kite cigarettes while the smoke made its mark on his hand. He always had a mustache, which was yellow streaked at each nostril, from the tobacco smoke. I suppose my baldness came from Grandpa. His head was slick as a gourd. Dad would encourage me to sprinkle a little sugar on Grandpa's head while he sat in the chair asleep. We would watch the flies aggravate Grandpa, attacking that sugar on his bald head. He could swat flies and sleep without missing a snore. Grandpa knew something was up, as Dad and I would be looking at him when he opened his eyes. I can really see why my Dad and Grandpa didn't get on too well. Looking back, Dad and Grandpa were competing for my Mother's attention. It was real important, if Mother brought the coffee in, which one would get the first cup. If she announced dinner, it was important which one she addressed first. There was some conflict along political lines. My grandpa leaned toward the communist line, in that he didn't want to work at a steady job. He believed distributing the wealth, more especially to him, was a good idea. My main interest in Grandpa was his stories of travel around these United States. He and sometimes his sons, John and Earl, would hobo to different parts of the country. Grandpa would make a little money sharpening scissors and making a little furniture polish out of kerosene and wax. He had been to California, New York, New Orleans, San Antonio and other interesting places. My travels consisted of going to Greenville, Mississippi with my brother Grady, about 60 miles North East of my home.

One morning, just before breakfast Grandpa was unlocking his combination lock from his trunk. I asked him if I could see it. He handed it to me locked. By the time we were in the kitchen I handed it back to him unlocked. He thought I had seen him unlock it and that I knew the combination. Such was not the case. The old locks of this type could be felt to click at the right place, when pressure was placed toward the open position. Anyway, Grandpa got mad and stormed off through the woods. He returned at dinnertime. After three of four days Grandpa was not feeling well, so he hitched a ride to Eudora, Arkansas for some medicine. He came back with several bottles of Gordons Dry Gin and a new combination lock. He was feeling no pain. Every one called me L.H. because my Dad's name was the same as mine. Grandpa called me Hell H. when no one else would hear him. As he handed me the new combination lock he said, "OK Hell H., let's see you open this one." The new lock was a challenge, as I had never had a new lock to work with. It took me about an hour to work it open. I took some string and wrapped around the tumbler knob and pulled it real fast to sling the grease out of the disks inside. I was, then, able to feel the problem through. This made the old man mad, he accused me of going through his trunk and all of his other problems of life. He said he was going to shoot me. He had a 22-cal. revolver in his trunk. Grandpa was having trouble getting into his locker, even with the old lock on it. The Gordons Dry Gin didn't help any. I was standing beside him, while he was on his knees trying to unlock his trunk. My mind was made up, that when his hand closed on the gun butt, I was going to close the trunk lid, quick, on his hands and jump on the lid with my feet. When he finally got the combination right, I told him, "Grandpa if you come out of there with a gun, I am going to break your arm. The old man let out a sigh and said, "O hell," and went to bed. I never told Dad or he would have had more than a broken arm. After sobering up and fighting his devil, he would dream and howl, see snakes and other demons. Things took a turn for the better between us. He let me shoot his pistol and instructed me in the fine art of scissors sharpening. When Grandpa was out of booze "he needed his medicine" and when he was hung over "he was sick."

Dad passed the word to Mother that Grandpa was to shape up or leave. Well, Grandpa was sick and getting worse. He was drinking up the vanilla extract, antiseptic and anything else for the alcohol content. Dad said no more booze in the house. The big talk between Dad and Grandpa resolved their differences, if Grandpa wanted to stay, no booze in the house. Grandpa was to sign his welfare check over to Dad each month. Grandpa recovered super quick and packed up. We went out on the front steps and waved good-by to grandpa as he walked toward Kilbourne with his scissors grinding case in one hand and his traveling trunk in the other. My mother had told me about a whipping she got from Grandpa when she was just a teenager. She had scars on her back until the day she died from that whipping.

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When we were in the middle of our farming season, I would spend most of my time on the little yellow tractor. On day I turned over a levee with the cultivator attached, the tractor, high centered and stalled. Dad got real mad and hit at me over the back seat of the tractor with his hand. He said a few words, now I cannot remember what it was. I got down and went home. I told Mother to tell Dad that I didn't mind working like a slave but I was not going to get beat up in the process. I headed for town to do some thinking. When I got back, the next day, everything was O.K. between us, and it was never mentioned again. I was even more determined to leave as quickly as I could get a job somewhere. I was really getting tired of school and farming. It seemed there were so many things to do that were more interesting. I could make more money working on the pipeline than the High School Principal was making at Kilbourne. As I look back at my report cards, the science grades were good and the things I didn't like were bad. I hated to do homework and everything. It seemed that going to work on the pipeline would solve all my problems. My interest in school was gone. I had just turned 16.

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One cold winter morning we were all setting around the wood heater in the front room trying to keep warm. I heard someone turn on our access road that was always muddy in the wintertime. It was brother Clyde. I could tell by the way he was gunning the engine and spinning his wheels that he was mad. We watched him from the window as he got deeper and deeper in mud. I couldn't hear him, but I could tell he was cussing. Clyde finally decided to walk on up to the house. Mother asked him if he wanted some coffee and he accepted. We waited for him to ask one of us to get the tractor and pull him out. He finally got around to asking Dad to get the tractor and get his pickup out of the mud. Dad told me to do it. We couldn't afford to have antifreeze in the tractor, so we would fill it up with water each time we used it in the winter, then drain the water out when we got through using it. I had an old sack over the radiator to limit the airflow through the radiator when the tractor was running. I filled it up with water and gave the hand crank a few turns to get it running. After the motor warmed up, I drove by the house and got Clyde and went on out to his stuck pickup. We were talking and I told Clyde that it looked like he was spinning his wheels too fast for good traction. He said, "Listen bud, those are my wheels and I will spin them as much as I God damn please." I told him, "Well let’s see you spin your way out of that mud." I left him there stuck in the mud and headed back to the house. Dad and Mother were watching from the window. They wanted to know what happened. I told them. We sat around the heater and watched Clyde get in his pickup and spin himself deeper into the mud. After my second cup of coffee, Clyde decided to come on back up to the house. Clyde warmed himself up by the heater and told me he was sorry he blew up. I got the tractor and pulled him out. Clyde and I never talked about this, but Dad and I would laugh about it from time to time. It was sad in a way; Clyde was having trouble in his marriage. It seemed to me, that is what he did best in his life.

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Brother Paul moved back to Louisiana from California. He had divorced Verna Mae. Paul had some trouble with the Law in California and told me he was on probation. Paul's arrival called for a celebration. Fred was working in Monroe, Louisiana, about 70 miles from Oak Grove, where we lived. Clyde, Paul and I headed out to Monroe to see Fred. We decided to have a party at a beer joint in Monroe. In addition to me and by brothers, xxxxxxx, Clyde's future wife and Beulah, Fred's wife was there. This was a typical beer joint. A hillbilly band playing to a bunch of drunk-to-half-drunk, two-steppers. Our group moved to the rear of the joint, so we could talk over the music. There were pipeline stories and stories from Paul about life in California. All at once, some old boy at another table slapped his girl companion, twice across the face, real hard. He had to stand up to reach her and when I saw it, he was starting to sit back down. Paul raised his voice and said, "You can't do that in California." The other guy turned from the table and in so many words, told Paul to go to hell. Fred didn't have much to say. I remember Beulah asking Fred if he was going to let that guy get away with hitting that girl. Fred replied that he didn't care. The owner came over and asked everyone involved to go outside. As we got outside, the mouthing started by both sides. This one guy got close to Clyde and was raising his voice. Clyde hit him with his left hand so hard that he slid with his head up under the beer joint. Clyde's wristwatch came off at the same time and was lying beside the guy on the ground. xxxxxxx started looking for Clyde's wristwatch. Clyde could hit with his left hand so fast it was hard to see. From past observations, if after the first blow from the left hand, the right cross that followed would just about take anyone out of the game. His friends were on the ground attending to the other guy. The other side started piling in their car. Fred got hold of the underside of the car by the front door and said he would turn the damn car over. The chrome strip came off in Fred's hands. One of the guys jumped out of the car and Fred chased him down the highway, hitting him with the chrome strip. I could hear the sirens heading our way from Monroe. Someone had called the police. Paul was seemed anxious to get away from there before the cops came. He said that he was concerned about his probation in regard to his problems in California. Beulah was still mad at Fred and had jumped in his car by herself and was heading toward Monroe. Fred got on the front fender of another car. This is when the headlights on cars stuck above the front fenders. He wrapped his legs around the light and we all headed back to Monroe. Fred intended to jump over to his car when we caught it from his front fender position. We never caught up with her. I can still remember seeing Fred on that front fender, holding on to a bottle of IW Harper whiskey in his right hand. We passed the police as they whizzed by us on the other side of the road, about one quarter mile from the beer joint. Beulah had already arrived at their apartment, in Monroe when we got there. We all sat around, for hours, and talked about the big fight at the beer joint. I remember Clyde telling us that the reason he hit the guy so quickly is that he was afraid the guy had a knife.

When I go to visit the folks in Louisiana, I have to pass by the location where the old beer joint stood. It is no longer there, but the memory is. Brother Clyde took me to work with him on a pipeline job close to Greenville, Mississippi for one day, as a visitor. I really liked what I saw. This was a new experience for me, men moving the earth and a pipeline being inserted in the earth, 6 feet deep, across farm land, under roads, streams and rivers. Trees cut down and tree stumps blown out of the ground, for a wide swath of clear land, prepared for the armored assault of heavy equipment and dedicated men. They worked from dark to dark.

Chapter Seven

The Pipe Line

1949

I was seventeen years old in November and determined that my farming days were over. I sent off to Jackson, Mississippi for a copy of my Birth Certificate. It was a Photostat copy. I took a lead pencil and changed the two to look like a one on the year of birth. At the courthouse in Oak Grove, the lady made me a Photostat copy of the changed birth certificate. Now, I had in my hand a birth certificate that said I was eighteen years old. When a job opened up, my brother Clyde took me into the pipeline office and told them that I was his brother and would be his swamper (oilier) for the job. When they signed me up, they asked for my birth certificate and I showed it to the timekeeper. He never even took it from my hand. He just said OK. I was on the payroll. When I turned eighteen, I destroyed the changed copy of my birth certificate. I had been around farm equipment all my life, so heavy equipment offered little technical challenge.

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It was my job as swamper to keep the backhoe clean, properly greased and keep the engine in good shape. My job outside of the Back Hoe was to keep the machine out of overhead power lines, measure the ditch and set stakes so Clyde could dig a straight ditch. Anytime he wanted me to come up to his operating position, he would race the motor a few times. This was my signal to climb up on the tracks and see what he wanted. Most of our communications were by hand signals. The backhoe made so much noise, we couldn't talk to each other when I was on the ground. We only dug where the big ditching machine could not dig, the swamps, creeks and rivers. There were 3 big mats made out heavy crossed timbers of 2 x 10 boards about 3 timbers thick. These mats were 12 feet long and 8 feet wide. A large cable was connected as a loop to one end. When the backhoe was on soft ground, there would always be two of these mats under the machine. The other mat would be positioned the way we were digging. I would wade around in the mud, connecting and disconnecting these mats as we made progress digging the ditch. I was a real Pipeliner. I could go back to Louisiana and tell people how tough I was, that I had waded in that pipeline mud. The one thing that kept me going was that I was making a lot of money. I was sending money home for Mom, Dad and Mary Lee. We worked 7 days a week, as many hours as you could stay up. If it came a really heavy rain we would be out for one half to one day. We always reported in, no matter what and got a half day's pay.

You would move, find a new place to stay, about every six to eight weeks. Very few locals were hired. We were like a band of gypsies, everyone knew everyone else. About the time the local bar maids knew you, you were moving to another town down the road. I can remember standing on a hill and looking back through the deep green woods at that forty-foot wide swath we had forced through this beautiful country, just as far as you could see, up one hill and down the other, the pipeline marched on. The pipeline, we were placing in the ground, would terminate somewhere far up North. The natural gas it would carry would keep those Yankees warm in the cold winter months.

One morning, from my vantage point, I could see a wisp of smoke rising among the pine trees ahead of us. There was an unmistakable odor of fresh corn mash cooking. Our pipeline was headed that way. The right-of-way gang is the spearhead of the pipeline. They cut the trees and brush out of the way to make a clear-cut path forty 40 feet wide across the land. They build rough bridges for the heavy equipment to follow and fences to keep peoples' livestock from getting out. They were the first to run into the moonshine still. I was in the ditch gang. We followed behind the right-of-way gang. It was our job to cut a ditch 4 feet wide and up to 14 feet deep through swamps, up hills, through rock and to bore under roads. If the big ditching machine couldn't do the job, the backhoe or dragline did. No matter what, the ditch got dug. Like an electric charge, the news traveled to all of the crews and to our warehouse in town. I knew something was up as the supervisors were going up to the right-of-way gang. Usually when this happens, it is the local law trying to stop us from crossing some farmer's land.

The word and three gallons of moonshine whiskey came back to us, so we all got together and had a few snorts. This was good stuff, it was aged in wood. I poured some in an ashtray and it burned a light blue flame. The operator that runs the ditching machine assigned one of his laborers to carry the moonshine in the ditch. When anyone wanted a drink, they could jump in the ditch. By afternoon the main ditch was getting crooked, when the general superintendent came by and shut the job down. He told everyone to take the day off and get in shape, that anyone caught drinking on the job tomorrow was fired. The only reason there is a law against moonshine whiskey is the lost tax dollars. The last time someone died of lead poisoning, from moonshine, was about 75 years ago.

Saturday night, some of us would look for that special beer joint. News about the best place to howl would be passed by word of mouth all over the job. There was a special place beside the highway that went to Sardis, Mississippi. One night we found it. To me, this looked just like the rest of the beside-the-road beer joints. The only difference was an over abundance of young barmaids. There were five of us including a small Cajun from Lake Charles. He worked on the grease truck for the pipeline. His right arm was in a dirty cast from being broken. You could see by the way he used his hand that it was almost well. As the night got mellower, word got to us that some of the guys in the beer joint worked on an oil-drilling rig close by. I had never heard of oil being drilled in this part of Mississippi. All of the pipeliners were on one side of the room and all of the oil drillers were on the other side. I could sense the bad in the room and I walked over by the front door.

One of the oil drillers was watching our little Cajun friend drop his beer bottle from the cast-encased hand to the good hand, a drop of about eight inches. The driller he was talking to never looked down. When the Cajun missed the catch, the beer bottle hit the floor. Just as the driller's eyes looked down at the fallen beer bottle the Cajun hit that driller across the mouth with the cast on his broken arm. The driller slid across the floor. I held the front door open.

There were other licks passed as we escaped in my brother Clyde's pickup truck. There were three in the front and two in the back. We were on the road to Sardis bragging about our exploits at the bar. I heard a pounding on the cab over my head and one of the guys in back, shouted, "They are coming after us." I looked in my read view mirror and the drillers were running with their headlights out, almost even with us. I slammed the gas to the floorboard and turned out the headlights. From the faint moonlight, I was able to make out the highway and we zipped on toward Sardis. Luck was with us as the drillers lost their nerve for a lights out race on the way to Sardis, Mississippi. We found a VFW dance in progress; that was for us. That old Bob Wills music has sold many a bottle of beer and tonight was no exception. I was learning to dance the two-step and this night I was studying intensely. As the sun was coming up, we made our way back to the pipeline warehouse for another day's work.

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After the pipeline job in Sardis, Mississippi, we went to Greenville, Mississippi for Tennessee Gas Transmission Co. TGT had a natural gas pumping station just outside Greenville. They were expanding it. I started out working with Clyde, my brother, then he got me on helping a welder. This was a new experience for me. Most of the time on a pipeline, we would hardly ever see anyone else but our crew. At a pumping station there were people and equipment working around all these intertwined pipes and tanks, with everyone running around like rats in a maze. I was helping a utility welder. Our job was to go anywhere and weld anything that needed it. The utility welders were the best on the pipeline. They had to weld anything at anytime, anywhere. I have never seen a utility welder have his weld tested except when he hired on. That welder could chew tobacco, weld and carry on a conversation all at the same time. There were machines running all the time around us. When my welder wanted to tell me something he would lean his head toward me. I had to learn when he wanted to talk or was leaning over to spit tobacco.

Around the pumping station, the big compressor engines ran day and night to pump gas north. The loud rumbles of the motors were even felt in the ground you stood on. December 4, 1950. We were helping terminate some new pipelines in the plant when the roar of the engines changed and we saw a big black cloud rise from the direction of the Greenville Bridge, where it crossed the Mississippi River. We knew the lines had blown out. There were three high pressure natural gas lines on the bridge, from 36 inch diameter to 26 inch diameter, with about 750 fifty pounds per square inch pressure on each line. Two other utility welders and their helpers were working on the Mississippi side when a leak and spark set off the explosion.

At the Greenville Bridge there are emergency valves on each side of the river. When the pressure dropped suddenly from the explosion, the safety valves slammed shut. They cut off a new supply of natural gas to the fire. These safety valves also shut off the main natural gas supply for the northeastern part of the United States. We got our call from the two-way radio and was on location within an hour. The bodies were still on the ground. I remember one burned up guy that didn't look three feet long, just one big cinder. We worked three days and nights getting what rest we could on the job. Food was brought to us. We didn't leave until we had restored the burned out pipelines. It was like a war zone. I got my eyes burned by a welding torch during this time. It feels like sand in your eyeball. I took off a couple of days and roamed around Greenville.

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The most dangerous task for a pipeline welder is to weld a saddle-tap on a pressurized gas line. A backhoe would remove most of the dirt from the existing pipeline and laborers with a shovel, (an ignorant spoon) would remove the remainder. The pipeline would be under pressure of about 750 pounds per square inch and from 26 inches in diameter on up. The welder's helper would clean the tar and fiberglass off of the pipe, until it shined. A saddle tap would be placed over the pipe and the welder would start to weld it on. The welder has to get the pipe hot enough to bind the saddle clamp, but not hot enough to weaken the pipe. If he makes a mistake, you have a blowout and everyone is killed instantly. Not me, I watch from a distance. When the welding was done, a cutter and a tap-off line is welded on the saddle clamp. The cutter handle is then turned until it cuts into the original pipeline. With a swoosh and sigh of relief, that it did not blow up, another town along the way has natural gas. My last job with TGT was operating a small side boom TD14 International tractor. It was just like a Caterpillar, except it was made by International Harvester Company. My first task was to unload a freight car with some 20 Inch pipe, 7/8ths inch thick. This was too much weight for my machine, but I was determined to do the task. I had to keep my boom straight up so as I lifted the pipe, the weight would not turn me over. I told my swamper to stay clear, if I started to tip over, I would drop the load. With my hand on the down lever, just in case, I unloaded all the pipe without mishap. I then settled into routine tasks, moving pipe or holding pipe or valves for the welder to weld. Most of my time was spent just waiting for someone else to do something. I was classified as a Heavy Equipment Operator now. I was getting tired of working at a pumping station, so I quit and went home to Louisiana. Hunting season was getting underway and I wanted to just kick back a little. Winter was coming on.

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The next spring, we went to Roanoke, Virginia for a small pipeline company, Lehman, Hogan, Scott Construction Co. I don't remember much about the drive up with Clyde and xxxxxxx, but we arrived early one morning at the construction warehouse. The first night I didn't have a place to sleep. We met the general superintendent at the local cafe and it was decided that I would stay with him. I don't remember where Clyde and xxxxxxx stayed. The general superintendent owned the land adjacent to my Dad's place in Louisiana. I had known him all my life. The first day I was a laborer, the next day running a jack hammer drilling rock, and the next day swamping for a back hoe. I was back in the mud and now with rocks. When pipelines were first started in the United States, the ditches were dug with men and shovels. When a person would get too old to do anything else, the general superintendent would get them on as a laborer. I remember talking to some of these old guys and about their experiences long ago on the pipeline. Now that they were semi-retired, their only job would be throwing rocks, roots and clods out of the ditch. I have seen, several times, the general superintendent go and get one of these old guys, take him up to a river crossing and get his advice for the river crossing and how they would approach the problem. They seemed to have a place of honor for having paid their dues. I had never worked rock before. There were lots of dynamite and blasting.

A local farmer's cows broke in the dynamite shed and ate some of the dynamite one night. The cows didn't die they just stood around and looked sad. I supposed their blood pressure was very low with all that nitro glycerin in their system. Dynamite fuse will burn under water just as good as in the air. This fact makes dynamite excellent for fishing. Take a quarter stick of 40 percent dynamite, stick a cap with a fuse in it and you have something better than the best fishing pole. Tie the charge to a rock, light it and toss it into the river. Someone will have to be down stream in a boat or ready to jump in the water. The fish will float to the top, ready for the picking. Do not get in the water until after the dynamite goes off, or it will do to you what it does to the fish. This was my first experience with fishing with dynamite. The law couldn't tell if we were blowing stumps or moving rock, but most of the time, in the river, we were fishing. I had a chance to work for the explosive gang. We called them powder monkeys. I turned down the job offer. I was getting smarter. Later on, the powder monkey got his hand blown up from a dynamite cap.

A dynamite cap, for a fuse, looks like a large twenty-two bullet, without the lead. These caps are extremely dangerous. You gently poke the heat fuse into the cap and crimp it with the crimping tool. One handle of the crimping tool is sharp, so you poke a diagonal hole completely through the dynamite stick and a small hole in the end of the dynamite stick. Run the fuse through the hole in the dynamite stick and poke the cap with fuse attached in the hole in the end. Make a looping knot with the fuse, to stabilize the cap. Now, you can hold the complete charge by the fuse and not pull the cap out. This charge will set off any quantity of dynamite if it is placed in the same hole or taped together. Dynamite is pretty safe, unless it has set too long on the shelf.

The powder monkey would set off charges to dig a ditch through rock, by timing the explosion with primer cord connecting each charge. The explosion would look like an unseen plow going through the rock. No one uses old dynamite. With age, the nitro glycerin settles to the bottom, and then heat or shock will set dynamite off. An electric dynamite cap is about the same size as a fuse cap, but with two wires coming out of it. In all cases these wires have their bare ends twisted together. If you see one, don't pick it up. When a lot of dynamite is being used in an area, the fumes will give you a headache. It must drop your blood pressure.

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The Pipeline Company was going broke, they didn't realize the cost of laying pipe in rock. Clyde was operating a backhoe and I was his swamper. The ditch man had drilled out some rock and blasted, but it looked like some of it didn't go off. He motioned us to get our backhoe, straddle the ditch and start digging. I walked over and told him that I didn't think all of the dynamite had shot. He told me it was all shot and to get Clyde positioned on the ditch and dig. I jumped up on the backhoe and told Clyde to be careful that all the dynamite did not shoot. I directed Clyde on the ditch with the backhoe and moved back. The first bucket Clyde pulled up had a stick of dynamite and primer cord hanging from it. I motioned for Clyde to cut the engine and he did. I jumped on the backhoe and told Clyde I was going to Louisiana. I wanted to go home. Clyde and I quit and headed for Louisiana. We stopped by Look Out Mountain in Tennessee on our way back. North Korea had just invaded South Korea. By this time Clyde had divorced his wife Ruby and married xxxxxxx (xxxx) Wylie. She was just a kid. This was some life, living in a rented apartment or hotel for a few weeks and moving on. xxxxxxx was good to me when I stayed with them.

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It was getting wintertime in North Louisiana, with a light snow on the ground. I was home for the winter. Only the mechanics worked on the pipeline equipment, during winter. We lived about one quarter mile from the main gravel road. One cold Monday morning, I had walked out and was waiting for a ride to Oak Grove. Like everyone else, I would apply for unemployment during the winter, then in spring go back out on the pipeline.

One of our neighbors, R.T. Layton, came running down the road with the news that Grady, my brother, was burned real bad. R.T. Layton was one of the strongest men around. One day he got mad at his mule, walked around hit the mule with his fist and knocked it down. Today, he was on the way to Kilbourne, three miles away for the nearest telephone, to call an ambulance for Grady.

I ran about one and one half miles to Grady's house. When I arrived, Grady was setting on the bed. Ruth, his wife and their children were in the back room. He did not have on a shirt. His skin was red up to and including his neck and there were big water sacks of skin hanging on his chest from the burns. He was in terrible pain. He had been trying to thaw out a water pump. He thought the fire, from his previous attempt to thaw it, was out. He sloshed some more gasoline on it from a five-gallon gas can. This caught fire and the can blew up on him, sending gasoline into his clothes and flesh. He rolled in the snow to put out the flame. In a situation like this, the victim does not want to hear you talk, they want to talk to you and sort things out. He was burned real bad, but not in shock with lots of pain. He wanted me to shoot him to get him out of his pain. He would get cold and I would try to make him comfortable with blankets, then he would get hot and want the door opened. I just responded to his request. I helped him stand when he wanted to and we waited. I assured him the ambulance was on the way.

Later, Grady told me his saving grace in this accident was putting his left arm up over his mouth when he knew it was starting to explode. This action kept the flame out of his lungs. The ambulance came, in about an hour, about two hours after he was burned. We headed out for Oak Grove. His wife Ruth would have gone, but she had several small children to take care of. Oak Grove, Louisiana did not have a hospital, so we went to the clinic. The doctor said there was nothing he could do for him in Oak Grove, so he gave Grady a shot of morphine when we arrived and a shot just before we put Grady in the ambulance. We headed out in the snow for the Louisiana Charity Hospital in Monroe. The ambulance heater did not work very well in the back. I kept Grady warm with the available blankets as the morphine worked its magic.

I damn near froze. It was dark and cold when we got to Monroe. The doctors took Grady away for an examination. I had to sign papers for his admission, as I was the next of kin. They wanted to give him a blood transfusion from me and I was willing. I had not eaten all day. The nurses got us settled in the ward about midnight. I was to sleep on an ambulance cot beside the bed. The next thing I knew it was night the next day. I found out later that the nurses could not get me awake. After giving blood and the long trip, I was out. The nurse had called a doctor, after they had stood me up and I didn't wake up. The doctor looked at me and told them to leave me alone and let me rest.

The third day, Grady was going wild. He could not stand to lie in the bed; he said that his skin was itching. There was no skin to itch. I would get him up to stand beside the hospital bed and blood would drain out of the bandages and pool on the floor beside him. The nurse called the doctor. The doctor asked the nurse what medicine he was taking. She told him Phenobarbital. The doctor said "Well we got to get him off of that, he is allergic to it." I was impressed.

My stay with Grady in the hospital was an education for me. They kept Grady on the critical list so he could have a visitor all the time; that was me. Every time the head nurse would want to get rid of me, the doctor would take care of it. I helped out on the ward, there were only two private rooms, that I remember, and they were for isolation. I went for fresh oxygen bottles, went to the store for anyone. I knew who couldn't get what kind of snacks, due to surgery or special diet or something.

At night if someone died, the nurse on duty and I would take care of it and I would roll them down to the morgue. This was the hospital of last hope of the many that came here, they came to die. There was always an extra tray or two of food, at mealtime, for me. Coffee was available any time in the nurse's station. Clyde paid for me a room downtown where I went to clean up and change clothes. My brothers, Mother and Dad would come by from time to time.

There were no orderlies on duty from midnight until four in the morning. The hospital didn't like to leave dead people on the wards. It seemed to depress everyone. I was asleep in one of the empty beds, when the nurse shook me awake. It was about three in the morning. She wanted me to help her get a dead man ready for the morgue. The man must have weighed two hundred pounds and she couldn't manage him. She wanted me to help her roll him over on his side. I got one arm and pulled across the bed and he rolled over. This guy let a moan and I almost lost it. I learned later that the air in the lungs compress and pass the vocal cords and the moan comes out. She then took a big pair of tongs, with some gauze in it and poked it up his rear end to keep anything from leaking out. We tagged his big toe and rolled him up in a sheet, head to toe with tag. Then we rolled him over on a gurney. I got the keys and grabbed the elevator. The walkway was covered to the morgue, about 400 feet from the main hospital. I kept looking back for comfort. I unlocked the morgue, found an empty locker, the same height as the gurney and slid the guy in. This was unpleasant. The only time this really bothered me was when I took a kid about six years old down. I knew this would not be my life's work.

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Grady had a lot of problems with his burns. At this time the doctors had some type of insect that they would put under your bandages. The bugs would eat the dead flesh and leave the healthy flesh alone. Now here is Grady in bed. I had straightened out a coat hanger so he can scratch under his bandages. I thought he would quit smoking after he was burned so badly, I was wrong. The bugs would change into some type of flying bug and leave his bandages. This was something to see. Grady was scratching away with the coat hanger when this little insect comes out of the bandage, wiggles its wings and flies off. There was silence for just a moment then he let out a yell that the damn bugs were eating him up. The doctor explained it to him, but from then on when he was in pain he blamed it on the bugs.

Late one night a young man, about 23 was admitted, next to Grady's bed. He had asthma, diabetes and bad heart trouble. From the nurses, I learned that he would get off his diet and medicine from time to time and the charity hospital would have to pull him back from death's door again. On the morning rounds, the doctor chewed him out about his lack of concern for his health. They started the medical process for his recovery. His Mother came to see him at every visiting hour. This was her only son. This was a teaching hospital and the doctors had just changed floors the night he had a real bad asthma attack. By the time the doctor got there, the nurse had the oxygen flowing, but I could tell he was in distress as his skin was real pale. The doctor ordered a shot and the nurse ran to get it. When she came back, she repeated the medication name to the doctor and handed him the needle. The doctor quickly found a vein and popped him. Within one minute, the victim turned real red and quit breathing, his heart stopped. We carried him out to the morgue.

There was a big uproar about this. The nurse was elected to be the fall guy but after they talked to Grady and me, it was obvious the doctor was the one at fault. She had repeated the medication to the doctor, when she handed him the needle. I don't remember exactly what the shot contained, but the nurse told me that they never give this to someone with a heart problem. In regard to the doctor, Grady told me, "Keep that son-of-a-bitch away from me."

By now, Grady was dependent on drugs. Six months had gone by and he got drugs whenever he had pain. As part of the treatment the doctors were going to take him off drugs. I found out about this one day when I saw the nurse fill up a syringe with sterile water and give it to Grady as a shot for pain. It works; Grady would pop off to sleep without a pain in the world. The doctor explained it to me after I caught on. For six weeks they had been giving him sterile water for pain, and it worked.

Just before he was checked out, the doctor took his chart and proceeded to show him that for six weeks he had received no pain drugs. Six months after we checked in, Grady and I checked out of Conway Memorial Hospital, Monroe, Louisiana. They took us home in a state ambulance. With Grady at home, I caught a bus and went to join up with my brother Fred and his wife Beulah, in Marshall, Texas.

Fred was more laid back to work for than Clyde. He just said, "I can get you a job, but I can't hold it for you." Beulah met me at the bus station. When Fred came in, from work, he and I went to Longview, Texas, for a bottle of Old Charter whiskey. With the Old Charter, his new Oldsmobile and me driving, we made it back to Marshall in jig time.

The next morning, I was examined by the company doctor and had a job with Houston Contracting Company. My job was an Oiler (swamper). We were cutting approaches to road, river crossings and whatever for the pipeline to cross. Koontz was the operator, a very easy going, nice person to get along with. I stayed with Fred and Beulah. They didn't charge me very much for living with them. They knew I was sending money home to Mom and Dad.

We were cutting down the Red River bank for a pipeline river crossing. Koontz would back up, with the bull dozer and push dirt out of the way. The bank had to be cut down to river level, the pipe would be put in a ditch in the river, with weights, and the riverbank would be built back. This back and forth goes on and on for days. He would let me run the bulldozer from time to time. One time when I was pushing dirt, I would have to back up so the bull dozer tracks were almost hanging over the river, stop and start pushing dirt. This time when I pushed the clutch in it broke off in the transmission. I applied both brakes and shut the throttle down. We almost lost the bulldozer in the Red River. I used to wake up at night and think about riding a bull dozer into the Red River.

We called Fred, my brother, on the two-way radio. He was the master mechanic for the pipe line company. We helped him fix the problem. The master mechanic on a pipeline hires all the heavy equipment operators. If they don't take care of their machines, he runs them off.

There was one Back-hoe operator; we called him "Foots." He had huge feet. Another thing that stood out was his huge front teeth. From a short distance, it looked like he was foaming at the mouth. He never caught on as to why so many people would stop and watch him dig with that Back-hoe.

When there was an opening for a Tow Tractor Operator, I got the call. This was the best job I ever had on the pipeline. I had four welding machines behind the TD14 tractor. When the welders would make their hot pass on the pipe, I would pull up four joints of pipe and wait on them. I was sending Mother and Dad about $100 per month. I knew this would help out. I felt guilty about being so young and having such a good job. My oilier was a veteran from WW2 and, later, I found out he had been shot up pretty bad in that war. My brothers got me the job and I was glad to have it. There were two pipeline companies working on this pipeline route. We were building pipeline north and another company was building pipeline south. When we met, our part of this job was over. Fred, his wife Beulah and I went to Bunkie, Louisiana to start on another pipeline job.

Bunkie, Louisiana is located in central Louisiana. This is where Cajun culture and the rest of Louisiana blend about 50/50. Those people knew how to have fun. Every Wednesday night they would block off the street and have a dance. I roomed with someone on the skid gang in a one bed room flop, I don't remember. After a while, all the moving around got to be pretty much the same. I rode in the back of a pickup truck through the sugar cane fields to and from the job as it moved on at about a mile a day. One cold morning, on the way to work, the driver stopped at a roadside cafe. I guess he felt sorry for his frozen passengers riding in the back. As he pulled into the parking lot I could see that the cafe had a television antenna mounted on the roof. We had some real Cajun coffee and homemade donuts as I saw my first television picture. The picture was very weak, better described as snowy. We passed that cafe to and from work about a week, until me moved on. I always looked at that television antenna.

 

That Dry Year

© Lanty Wylie, 2012

 

You know, it never rained on that dry year.

The crops burned out in the hot sun, and

we saw our sweat only for a moment.

I pulled a cross-cut saw as the trees fell.

We took the timber to Dawson’s saw mill,

he cut them into cross-ties for the rail road.

Dawson got half of them for the saw mill and

the rail road man never paid very much.

 

My Dad said that it rained on the just and un-just.

I would settle for half way in between.

We got up early that morning to watch the first

cool breeze blow in. The Korean War blew in instead.

You know, I never saw a Jay Bird on that dry year.

 

Chapter Eight

United States Air Force

1951

The Korean War was picking up steam and war was in the news every day. I knew that sooner or later I would be drafted in the Army. Most of the boys around Oak Grove were being called up for military service. It was around the first of November 1951 when Beulah gave me Mother's letters, a draft notice was inside, it had finally happened to me. I went to the local bar, had a few drinks and did some deep thinking. I did not want in the walking Army. I told Fred the next morning I was going to drag-up, that means quit in Pipeline lingo. I got my last Pipeline check then caught a bus, heading home for Oak Grove, Louisiana. I had about $500 in my pocket. In 1951, $500 was a lot of money.

I told Mother and Dad that I was going to join the Air Force. They didn't seem to show any interest one way or the other. The military recruiter at Oak Grove was in the Army. He gave me a big line of bull about the Army, but I wanted the Air Force. I took the written test and told me I passed, no one ever failed. I was to report November 26, 1951 for a bus ride to Shreveport, the induction center. Mother and Dad didn't have a car so I talked to Herman Lightsey in Kilbourne. He would take me to Oak Grove early on the morning of November 26, 1951. It cost me $3.00.

The first thing you learn about the Military is, you never know what to expect. The bus was waiting, the Sergeant called roll, gave one of the guys some papers to carry to the induction center and we were off to Shreveport. There were 8 of us leaving Oak Grove. We stopped in Monroe and picked up several others and then on to the induction center in Shreveport. The recruiter in Oak Grove told us not to bring any extra clothes, just a tooth brush and shaving kit. Most of the people brought extra clothes and things, but not me. Don't believe what the recruiter tells you.

At the induction center we were told what to do and when to do it. The instructions were mainly, which line to wait in. The doctors gave us a going over, from end to end. The last test was when we went to the psychologists. He asked us if we liked girls and wanted to see a picture of our girlfriend. At that time I was going with a young lady that was the sister of one of the nurses at the Charity Hospital Grady was in. Later, in Korea, I got a Dear John letter from her.

Later on, I found the two enemies of the Air Force were Communists and Queers. One of the guys, in our group, had a picture of a calf he had raised as a 4H School project. When the psychologist asked him for a picture of his girl friend he only had a picture of that calf. I have always wondered what the psychologist entered into his record.

November 27, 1951, the United States Air Force got my body and soul for four years then 4 years reserves. This was a good decision on my part. Everything considered, the Air Force was a good stepping-stone for me into my future occupation. I was examined and sworn in. They advised us that if we did not show up at appointed times we would be hunted down as deserters. With these words of encouragement the Air Force then took over full responsibility for me. They gave me meal tickets for food and tickets for lodging that night. I had my first night as a Private on the town. Later a Private would be called an Airman Third Class. All persons in the military service have some type of rank classification; I was at the bottom.

Early next morning, with blood shot eyes, I reported in and was on the Katy Flyer, a slow train through Dallas to San Antonio. Someone always knows someone that has done something that is somewhat similar to what you are to expect, "The Military Rumor Mill". We were off the train and on to a bus, I saw the Alamo from a Gray Hound bus window. Good by freedom. There were about 80 people in our group in the same barren room. No one knew what to do or expect. We waited about four hours. Someone came by and took us to the chow hall. We received jeers from the inmates already there.

After our first real Air Force meal, our Drill Instructor opened the door and screamed us out into the street. We were lined up according to height, in four lines. All this time the Drill Instructor was screaming and cussing, stomping and general fear inducing demonstrations. He challenged anyone to fight. This was something to behold. As we tried to march off, the DI would go to different individuals marching along, get next to their ear and scream. It was a pitiful mess. All along the march all the other Air Force guys would laugh and holler at us. They had on starched khaki uniforms, they had been through the rite of passage and that is what we wanted. I didn't know how to march or what to do or I would have done it.

We arrived at supply and drew our bedclothes. As always, reminded that if we lost anything we would have to pay for it. If we sold anything we would be put in jail. There were about 40 acres of tents. Your tent was in a certain area. If you forgot your area, you were very lost. Two guys from your area were on guard patrol. They gave you a stick, a whistle, and a white helmet. Your primary responsibility was fireguard, no smoking while reclining, no fighting allowed and no one out of the bunk at night except to go to the latrine, then you were to keep people from fighting. If you blew the whistle for help, five big Air Policemen came to help you.

I had been on my own for two years and knew it was a good idea to drop your wallet in your shorts while sleeping. This paid off, the first night someone raided our tent. There were only three of us that didn't get robbed. The Military Police searched our stuff, I had a toothbrush and shaving kit. We were interrogated and they found nothing. I had about $400 in cash on me at the time. This was a problem, I had to explain where I got it, still had my last check stub. I had a book, a murder mystery. The officer asked me if I was planning to kill someone. The word dumb took on a new meaning for me.

The military operates with a wide gulf between the officers and enlisted men. I think this is the best way. I know of no other way an army power structure would work. The armed services were completely integrated when I entered the Air Force. With my Southern background this was different, but I had no problem with it. We had Blacks in all of our operations and no one thought anything of it. We did nothing for one week as Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, was full. I was shipped to Witchia Falls, Texas, by bus, to start my basic training.

My first week in the United States Air Force. Witchia Falls was more of the same, except we lived in barracks. There was just a different person screaming at us. If the 4 years of my enlistment was going to be like basic training, I would rethink that hill a lot of our group was going over.

In basic training it is all mind control. They let you know that you are less than worthless, but as you progress and accomplish each task, you become full of confidence. Marching gives you a sense of pride in your unit and you respond to any command without thinking. The military keeps you busy all the time so you cannot dwell, or reflect on your problems. Looking back on this, I realize this is what was missing in my life, a sense of discipline. In the barracks someone is always on duty in each bay from lights out until we were blasted out of our bunks.

While I was on fireguard, I have heard several of our inmates cry themselves to sleep. No mention was ever made of this by others or me, when their time came to pull fireguard. The Air Force was really eat up with the white helmet and stick. This was the official guard equipment. After marching all day some of the guys would get cramps in the leg. While on guard duty you would be walking through the dark line of beds on both sides, when suddenly someone would raise up, grabbing his leg and hollering. You would grab his toes and bend them back to relieve the cramping muscle. Most of the time the guy would never remember it. You can sure get tired marching all day.

When we had to pull outside guard duty, it was the middle of winter in Witchia Falls, Texas and it was cold. I would put just about all my clothes on and after four hours I would be numb. I would get in a doorway, to hide, and catch a quick smoke. Every morning before daylight, we would fall out in the street for inspection, then march to chow. If we were not fast enough, we would all get undressed, get back in bed and do it over, till the drill Sergeant was happy. It was a standing order in basic training, that when three of us were walking together. One person would call cadence and the other two would march to where you were going. After chow we would fall in and be told of the immediate task to be performed. It was usually march, take tests, get shots. I have had shots for everything known to man and again when I went overseas. Then shots when I left Korea, then shots when I went to Eniwetok.

Taking shots was my biggest fear about joining the military service. After I was in the military, taking shots was my least concern.

-------

December 24, 1951, our Flight (Group) was scheduled to pull late KP. We went to work just as the evening meal was completed and worked until breakfast was served the next day. I cleaned everything, floors, tables, walls, all the dishes and hauled out garbage. Steam rose from the dishwasher in clouds, as I sweated to get everything clean.


You do not sweep the floor in the mess hall with food exposed. TB was spread this way. Most people with TB would spit on the ground; folks would walk on it and spread it by tracking it around. I think of this when eating at the Cracker Barrel as they sweep the floor.

 I got through with all the chores about 1:00 P.M., and was allowed to catch a nap on the floor. All that steam, sweat and the chilling effect of sleeping on the floor brought on a real deep cough. About 3:00 AM we started breakfast. I was beat when they let me go about 8:00 AM, Christmas day. I hit the sack. I woke myself by coughing. I felt bad and could tell I had a fever. Brown looking stuff and blood was coming up with each deep cough. I started taking aspirin.

The next morning in formation, I reported out for sick call. I had no fever because I had taken aspirin all night. The doctor didn't put me in the hospital, just X-rays and a big shot of penicillin. I went back to the barracks and went to bed for two days without an excuse from duty. No one said anything. On my first day out with the flight, a runner came for me to report to the doctor. After a civilian doctor looked at the X-rays, he knew I had pneumonia. Now they wanted to put me in the hospital. I was feeling much better, just weak. I told him my assignment for Radio School in Keesler AFB, Mississippi had come through and I did not want to be backlogged in Keesler.

I was over my problem except for an ache in my right chest, which remains, off and on to this day. They gave me another big shot of penicillin and I was ready to leave. My medical records and X-ray disappeared from my file. Damn, don't you just love socialized medicine?

-------

Most of us got promoted one grade for passing basic training. It sure felt good to sew that lone strip on my sleeves. The drill instructors changed in their attitude toward us. They seemed to admire us that we were going off to school. They were stuck in the same old crap. In any event, I didn't change my attitude toward them.

I had three days to clear the base and prepare for shipping out. I got some rest and wrote some letters. One fine morning I got on a C46, an old contract air carrier and was off to Mississippi. When the plane turned over the gulf, on the approach to Keesler, one engine started running a bit rough, then smoothed out. This was my first airplane ride. I liked it.

Keesler AFB was nice, after Texas. My class was forming for Radio Operator training. I was beginning to regret dropping out of school at Kilbourne. It was not so much regret, it was realizing the vast amount of knowledge I didn't have. I was determined to dig in and make it. I reported in and was assigned a bunk. From then on, until I was discharged, I checked the squadron bulletin board at least once a week. That is the way the Air Force communicates with you. They can't go around finding everyone and giving them orders. They just post them on the bulletin board. Now knowing what to do is your responsibility.

We had Morse code, theory of radio, operation and typing. I enjoyed the school. We were on the second school shift, from 6:00 P.M. to 1:00 A.M., 6 days a week. They really needed us in Korea. The radio course consisted of 9 months of copying code. Most of us started at zero speed and advanced to 30 words per minute. A word is considered 5 letters or characters long. Along with Morse Code had typing, security procedures, radio theory, radio operations, and general courses concerning Air Force parts and numbering systems.

Thirty five percent of radio students washed out. The high wash out rate was from Morse code. Practice is the only way to learn. The Air Force never did develop a reliable aptitude test for potential radio operators. We had very little time off. I went to New Orleans once, mostly we just enjoyed the local bars. Radio School was easy for me. The motivation was not getting washed out to be put in Air Police or Cooks School. I had always wanted to get into Amateur Radio so I really applied myself to the courses.

Morse code was something you couldn't just memorize and repeat back. You really had to learn by doing. You learn the sound patterns of each letter. The instructors told us several times, not to count the dots and dashes. When we reached the ten words per minute speed, all the code counters went to supervised study. The code counters that couldn't adjust went to Air Police or Air Force Cook's school.

My code speed was acceptable until I got to 18 words per minute. I hit a snag. I went on supervised study for a one-week interval and copied code until I dreamed about it. Eighteen words per minute had to be passed to graduate. All my effort was going into this project, with little signs of success. One of the instructors told me I was trying too hard and had a mental block.

I stopped by the Club one night, before school, and had a big schooner of beer, then on to school. We practiced for about 30 minutes, then we all took the test. I passed the first time and was ready to leave, when the instructor came over and told me to take the master's test. By this time, I was feeling no pain.

Before I left school, this night, I had passed 18, then mastered 18 and passed 20 words per minute. From then on, until graduation, I only had to go to the practice room for code class. By this time I was knocking away 30 words per minute.

-------

During my Radio School experience, I had to pull KP ever so often, this was always bad duty. The Captain had a notice on our bulletin board for carpenters. He wanted someone to convert the open bay barracks, to barracks with two man compartments. This was for me. I volunteered. There were two guys that were screwing up the project when I took over. The first thing was to talk with the Captain and get some concessions for my future workers. No one would volunteer without getting out of some other duty. My carpenters would get out of KP, all other squadron duty, not stand any squadron inspections and get a 24 hour chow pass. We had to make passing grades, with only one supervised study allowed.

I relieved the two other guys who had done nothing and they went back to the general population. The word was out, it was up to me to pick my crew. My assistant was R.W. Bachelor from New York. I carefully picked the four other guys. I found out soon enough that the most prized benefit for our project was the 24 four-hour chow passes, we all had. It really seemed like a sense of power to walk in the chow hall and pop down that 24-hour chow pass and eat. On all the bases I have been, there is always a chow hall open all the time. We had a good time and accomplished a lot. We all got a letter of commendation for our files when we shipped out. Those guys made me look good.

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We were required to have a class picture made. This was the last official act of the training school. I had to get up early. This day is still fixed in my mind. I was a United States Air Force Radio Operator. After all those weeks of listening to Morse code, Radio Theory and all the other stuff, I had moved up one notch in the scheme of things. It sure felt good to move from student to Radio Operator status. After our class picture was made, I waited around for the new troops to march by. I wanted to salute the Flag when it came by. The band playing, the troops in perfect step, the glint of sun on the starched kaki uniform, the sharp snap as everyone in uniform snapped to with a smart salute. The new troops were just out of basic training and marching was fresh in their mind. This was the last time I saw real precision marching drill in the Air Force. I still enjoy hearing a good marching band.

Chapter Nine

The Korean War

1952

Word spread quickly, in our group, that shipping orders were being posted on the bulletin board. My name was posted to report to Camp Stoneman, California for assignment to the Far Eastern Air Force, "FEAF" project Evil, via ship to Japan then to 1993 AACS Communications Headquarters Seoul, Korea. I had 10 days leave. All the guys going to the same place got to know each other. At the beer garden, we decided to meet in Kansas City, Missouri and catch a train on to Camp Stoneman, California.

From Keesler AFB, I caught a bus by way of South Louisiana to see my brother Fred and his wife Beulah. I borrowed Fred's new Oldsmobile and headed out to Oak Grove. It was late at night as I passed through Alexandria, Louisiana, when I noticed a 1937 Chevrolet going toward Monroe. I fell in behind it, with the blue dot in the center of its red taillight as a beacon, we went to Monroe.

There were very few cars on the road that night. I listened to KWKH in Shreveport for the trip. I was caught up in the feeling of accomplishment of getting through radio school and shipping out to Korea. I was in uniform and proud. The Radio station was playing requests and most of the time they played the new hillbilly song "I've Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know."

Everything at home had changed. It seems that after you once leave home, things are never the same when you come back. I could feel the tug of wanting to go and be with my friends on our adventure to Korea.

I caught a plane from Shreveport to Kansas City, where a bunch of us were meeting for the trip to California. Several of the guys showed up and we caught a train for Camp Stoneman, California. The Army had a truck waiting for the train, when we arrived. We entered the processing center at Camp Stoneman. No one gets lost in the process, at least not for long. Thousands of people were in and out of that place weekly. They know you are coming and they know where you are going and when. I was back to sleeping in open bay barracks, a two story building, with 40 men on each floor. The weather was nice and the climate was dry. My sleep was drug-like for about four days. Others from the wet climates had a similar problem. Then I was all right. Generally there were no passes to town because so many were finding that hill to go over and not coming back. We just sat around and waited for our ship to come in. I checked the bulletin board one-day and found that there was an opening as Area Locator, so I volunteered.

Every night at 6:00 PM, I would go to the area office and answer the telephone. I had runners to look for individuals that had emergency and other telephone calls. The files would tell me if they had shipped out, or the location of their bunk. New arrivals would come in from time to time. If they were AWOL and reporting in, I would leave an alert message for the company Sergeant. About 10:00 PM the calls would taper off. I had a cot next to the telephone to sleep.

All my friends were pressed into service as runners as the other guys shipped out. We got a weekend pass for our trouble. We went to San Francisco for a wild time and the last time we would be in the United States for quite a while. We were all paranoid about security. If any civilian ask us what job we had, we would tell them we worked in the orderly room and were clerk typists. The only thing clerk typists knew was how to type.

-------

It was time to go. Early to rise and chow, then the trip, by barge, to the loading docks in San Francisco Bay. The Red Cross was there handing out cookies and coffee and the band played. I got aboard the USNS Sultan in the afternoon. The first thing you do on an ocean going ship is have an abandon ship drill. On a Navy ship, you keep doing it until the Captain thinks you are doing it right. After a while, the Captain was happy with our efforts. I went on deck and as darkness fell, we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the fog. The ships horn would sound and then the quiet would seem just as harsh. I lingered there for a while wondering what the future held for me. Korea had always seemed a faraway place. Korea was not that far away now.

I could smell that Navy chow being served up below. Before we got in the cold, on our Northward sweep to Japan, I would sleep on deck. As you close your eyes, you consider any sleepwalking habits you might have. We got in some weather, but it was beautiful. The ship charged through the waves as they washed upon the forward deck. It is the bluest water I have ever seen. Some were seasick. You puke on the downwind side of a ship. If you do it on the windward side, the wind picks it up and carries it across the deck. When someone was sick, we would refer to it as calling his pet seal. The yuck, yuck, yuck sound of throwing up sounds like a seal's call.

The reason the Navy calls a toilet a head, is that it traditionally is in the front part of the ship. There are other toilets on the ship, but they are all called heads. One day, as a friend and I were exploring the ship, we stopped at the head on the front most part of the ship. The waves we were going over made this part of the ship rise and fall about twelve feet, for each wave. This old Sergeant was sitting on the john and puking in the next john over. He was sea sick, bad. It was coming out of both ends. I started laughing and couldn't stop. A small crowd gathered and joined in. I know the poor guy was miserable, but it was so funny, he was so helpless.

One of the guys that bunked in my area had a mandolin. I was able to learn the basic musical cords and pick out the song "Wildwood Flower" by the time we docked in Japan. Some of the sailors made some money by slipping booze on board. There were several longtime Sergeants that were fighting withdrawal of alcohol. It was pitiful to watch. They went on sick call every day. At night you could hardly get though the passageways for the crap and card games. The Captain would get on the loudspeaker and tell us that gambling would not be permitted. Those sailors stationed on the ship were taking everyone that gambled to the cleaners. So, the sailors were not going to turn anyone in. From my experience, during my four years in the military, I would rank the food as follows. The Army camps I stayed on had the best food. The Air Force would be next, with the Navy lowest in the food chain. The Navy had the best pay system. When the Navy paid you, they would tell you how much you had coming and ask you how much you wanted to draw. This was a savings plan for the sailors and interest free money for the government. With the Air Force and Army, you had to take your pay, in full, each month.

After 14 days, of living head to toe, I was ready to get off this ship. On October 13, 1952 at 16:10 hours Japan was sighted. Late that night, while everyone was asleep, we pulled into Yokohama Harbor. Early the next morning we docked. The unloading of freight begins immediately, but we had to wait several hours before the gangplank was lowered. As always, busses were waiting for the ride to the base. The next day the eight of us assigned to AACS in Seoul, Korea, were put on a train for Northern Japan. I caught a train in Tokyo and settled in as best I could in the small seats for my unknown destination in Northern Japan.

The Sergeant found out there were Pullman cars attached to this train. For $20 to the conductor, I was able to get an upper bunk for the night. It was hot and muggy, so I raised the window. You cannot raise the window on an American train. I tucked the curtain down under the mattress. Then, I squirmed out of my uniform and folded it at the foot. A cool breeze from the open window and the sound of the train soon put me to sleep. When I awoke, we were stopped at our destination, but there were soot balls all over my bunk. During the night we had gone through some tunnels. I was able to exit my bunk without much soot damage.

Our Sergeant for this trip was a Ground Controlled Approach ("GCA") operator. During his tour in Korea at Kimpo he received the Silver Star for saving a lost airplane full of GI's, while our base was being bombed. He was the best man I ever saw in GCA operations. I arrived at an old air base that was used by suicide pilots during World War Two. I stayed one night in those old barracks and I thought about those suicide pilots staying in this very room their last day on earth. They were going to war to die for sure and I was going to try not to die for sure.

After a quick briefing on parachutes and life jackets, we left for Korea on a C119 cargo plane. You never put your life vest under your parachute. That would be quite a squeeze play if you pulled your life vest charger with it under your parachutes straps. After an airplane crash in the water, the yellow life vest just shows them where the body is.

It was near dark when we arrived in the Seoul area. There was small arms fire around the runway, so we circled till things calmed down. After a while, the pilot made a mad dash for the runway then high-speed taxi to a sand bag trench. By the time the airplane stopped, the tail was raised and all of us made a dash for the sandbags. As it was most of the time, you didn't really know what was going on.

In the dark, with no shooting to be heard, we boarded a truck for a bombed out university somewhere in Seoul. I drew bedclothes and a cot from supply and went underground to stay the night. This was quite a busy day for everyone. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I realized that we were never trained for a combat zone. We had the basic rifle training, but this was a real combat zone with people shooting at each other. The Air Force is geared toward the technical side of things. Looking back, if it were up to me, all members of the armed services would go to Marine Corps basic training, then on to their respective services. The next day we were processed in and split up to different assignments in all parts of Korea. I drew Kimpo, AFB, AACS Operating Location #14. I remember it as being about 9 miles from Seoul.

We were herded to the barbershop for a real close hair cut. You can find the lice easier in short hair. It was then I realized how thin my hair was. I waited for a supply truck to Kimpo.

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The main bridge over the Hann River was bombed out and most of it was still at the bottom of the river. The army had set up a pontoon bridge. The rail bridge had been repaired. When the Korean government would hang Koreans friendly to the North, they would get them on the railroad bridge, put the rope around their neck, tie the other end to the railroad track and push the guy over. He would hang there until the next train came along. The train going over the rope would cut the body down and his body would wash out to sea. While I was there the Hann River got plenty of fall out. I carried everything I owned in a duffel bag and a small suitcase.

 

KimpoTentCity.gif

KIMPO – AACS TENTS – HOME FOR ONE YEAR

 

Late one afternoon, I climbed in the back of an army truck, for Kimpo Air Force Base. There is no worry in riding in an army truck. You can't see where you are going and you don't know when you get there. Finally some one comes around and yells for you to get out. We got to Kimpo after dark. I reported to the Charge of Quarters. The first stop was at supply for a combat issue. Then I went on to my tent assignment. It was an 8-man tent built on a wood foundation. It had a kerosene heater in the center that would work with jet fuel. My bunk was on the center, left side with a footlocker. Our tent was next to the fence that enclosed the base. In the summer, the tent flaps would be lifted for any breeze. In Korea all farmland is fertilized with human dung. The smell is really bad. Our location by the fence or outer area of the base turned out to be a blessing; I was far away from the center of the base and flight line. When the bombs came, they would be aimed for the center of Kimpo.

Kimpo AFB

Down Town Kimpo AFB

When I opened the tent flap, of my new home, I was greeted by old looking guys that needed shaves, smelled bad and looked dirty. I promised myself that if I stayed over here for two years I would never fall into that rut. How wrong I was. They needed Radio Operators at Kimpo. I was the first replacement radio operator they had seen in a while. They were glad to see me. In a combat zone there is never enough personnel, I worked all the time. Everything is dirty, you always have mud on your shoes. The hot water was turned on once a week for showers. Unless you got to the shower early, you took a bath in cold water. In the winter, icicles would be hanging from the rafters in the shower. When the base laundry was working, the clothes smelled bad when they came back. Some of the time you washed out your underwear in your helmet. Most of the time you said "To hell with it."

My Bunk

My Bunk (left)

October 24, 1952, my new address is, 1993 AACS Mobile Communications Squadron, Operating Location 14, APO 970, San Francisco, California. I reported to the Station Chief (First Sergeant). He had on a baseball cap old leather jacket and fatigue bottoms. (Fatigue uniform is olive drab, herringbone twill. Some call them HBT's.) He asked me were I was from, I told him Louisiana. He asked me who was the Kingfish, I told him Huey P. Long. He got up and patted me on the shoulder and told me I would not have any trouble in this outfit as he was from New Orleans. Before I left Korea the Station Chief came to my tent, woke me up and gave me my third stripe. I was now a Buck Sergeant. The only excuse the Air Force needs for a party is the sun going down, but this really called for a party. When I read the letters I wrote to my mother, there were things I forgot and to this day have no memory of them. Our communications operation was close to the flight line. It was in the same building with Air Force Air Traffic Control. Our communications traffic was primarily for Emergency, crypto, air traffic, weather and general messages, in that order. We could sign for an emergency message and get it started on our net in a few seconds, day or night. Military Air Traffic Control could sign for messages through a slot in our wall.

Kimpo AFB

Base Operations

AACS Radio was in Kimpo Base Operations. You can see the poles in the photo that supported our antennae.

The radio Morse Code call sign for Kimpo was AIK66. We had security measures to prevent unauthorized traffic on our CW network. In communications, if the base is bombed or attacked, you do not leave your post. Communication is the heartbeat of any combat operation. When communications are shut down, you are isolated. When the North Koreans bombed our base and the shooting started, we just hunkered down and hoped the sandbags kept out the shrapnel. We never thought we would get a direct hit. I have sent the Morse Code signal ZUF2 many times. It means Air Raid in progress. We communicated in Morse code with all the Air Force bases, in Korea and several island weather stations. The Russian weather station, radio call sign RFL, was copied when it was transmitting. RFL sent the weather our as all numbers, sending in Morse code a "T" for Zero and "N" for nine. This short cut made for a faster transmission. You would learn to move your hands up to the numbers at the top of the Typewriter and let those fingers fly. We monitored navigational aids and transmitted hourly weather when it was good weather and every 15 minutes when the weather was Instrument Flight Rules.

Kimpo AFB

J K & K O Homer

An aircraft landing at Kimpo to the South would come in over our Radio Beacons, radio call sign JK or KO in Morse code, at a certain altitude and direction. The GCA operator would pick him up on Radar and give directions to land. If the pilot follows the GCA operator's instructions, he would not have to look outside the cockpit to land. I have been in GCA operations when the fog was so thick, that after the plane landed, he could not see to taxi off the runway. In referencing my letters home, it seemed several airplanes crashed into the mountains around the base. I don't understand why, we had the best GCA units in the world.

Snooper

Snooper & Weather Operating Position

During my year of service in Korea the homer site was over-run twice and we built it back. Every one on base had to have a weapon and ammunition available on his person. When you left the base, you loaded your weapon. To enforce this carry regulation, every function, like the mess hall, library, Airman's club, etc., would have a guard that would not let you in unless you had a weapon. If you went to the latrine during the night, you had better have a weapon. I have found that when everyone is armed, there is no stealing, no assaults, no muggings, in fact there is no crime.

Fred Link

Aircraft Control Center - Base Ops - Communications Center

One night, about 10:00 PM, the sirens sounded for a Red Alert. This was no drill. I got up and dressed. House boys were not allowed on the base after dark, but our house boy usually stayed over in bad weather. He made coffee. The loudest noise you can ever imagine happened, when the shooting started. I had just poured a cup of coffee in my canteen cup. As I opened the tent door for a look-see, all the guys in our tent bolted for the door and pushed me out. We jumped in the foxhole next to our tent. The sky was alive with tracers, the noise was terrible. The army had placed a pom-pom gun just below and behind our tent. This is a gun on a half-track with two barrels. The army had a 2x4 placed so the gunner wouldn't shoot out the top of our tent when he shot our way. You can imagine the noise of these shells going over our tent with the gun 20 feet away. The house boy had been using our foxhole for a toilet and we were standing in it. B. Wood from 2 tents down, had done a belly flop in the foxhole, when the shooting started.

After a while you get use to the racket and take a peek out, light up a smoke and start talking. About this time, we realized we didn't have our weapons or any of our combat stuff with us. One by one we slipped out and got our combat stuff together. You could hear the concussion of small bombs hitting our base and some small arms fire around our fence area. We had our area to guard and make sure no one came over or through the fence. At night just about every tracer you see, in front of you, looks like it is coming straight at you. They curve as they approach you. The one that hits you, you can't see. Sometimes bed-check-charley as we called them would drop antipersonnel bombs on us and sometimes just over-fly the base. I went over one morning where they had hit. It just cuts a tent to shreds and the people in the tent. The North Koreans used small, single engine, planes for this. They tried to wake us up every night at bedtime.

Kimpo AFB

I set my camera on the top of our fox-hole, opened the shutter for a few seconds and caught this. I should have kept the shutter open longer as the sky was lit up from the shooting. Keeping my head down was more important than picture taking.

The Air Force would scramble jet fighters to try and intercept bed check but, the jets were too fast and bed check was too slow. When I was on duty at our Communications Center, I could hear the pilots talking. The fighter pilots would have to get permission from their headquarters in Japan before they could open fire on bed check. Bed check would fly in and out around the mountains where our jets feared to follow. When our pilots would acquire the target, it would go something like, "I have him in my sights, can I fire?" By the time permission came from Japan, old bed check would be gone. The military was developing a way of doing things that would bite us in Viet Nam.

After about 6 months, the Navy took over. The Navy had some slower propeller planes in service. They solved our problem with old bed check. Even though they had the worst food, according to my experience, they got some real tough pilots. Back to my story of B. Wood. Well, after he belly-flopped in the foxhole, he had crap all over and smelled real bad. After the alert, no one would let him in the tent. One of the guys in his tent threw him some clean clothes and he bathed in his helmet. Happy 20th Birthday in Korea, November 6, 1952 another reason for a party. November 27, 1952 in my letter home, I tell my family the Air Force does not censor letters from Korea anymore. I do not remember that. December 1952 Eisenhower visits Kimpo AFB Korea. All out going mail was delayed, until Eisenhower left Korea.


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Several of us got a Hillbilly band together and played for drinks at the club. The GI's would buy beer and place it on the stage if they liked your performance and they would throw it at you if they didn't. My last night in the band was when I got a Dear John letter from a girl I knew in Monroe, Louisiana. You cannot believe the mental attitude you develop in a war zone. I got on the stage that night and started singing and crying. I remember beer lined six deep on the stage. I don't remember the fights or getting back to my tent. That was the end of my Hillbilly singing career. I just never cared for it much anymore.

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My cousin Lucy Lee Gentry in Marthaville, Louisiana, was always good about writing me. We exchanged letters all during my Korean stay and beyond. I still remember the cigarette lighter she bought me for Christmas. Even though I don't smoke any more, I still have it in my old military locker, in the attic.

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The USO established a unit at Kimpo to entertain us. They had a Korean band come in from Seoul and play about once a month. Someone had an idea that it would be nice to have a dance at the club with girls from the bars in Seoul. Everyone was waiting and as night fell on Kimpo, three army trucks came through the gate with the Korean girls from Seoul.

There was laughing and giggling from the trucks and comments from the GI's as they passed by. The Base Commander had told us that there would be no fornicating with the dance girls.

The band got situated and struck up a tune. It sure is different seeing a Korean band play and sing American music. Anyway, the girls could not dance, as we know dancing. We were all in combat boots and fatigue clothing, the girls in traditional Korean dress, weapons stacked in the corner. Beer was flowing as if it came from the rafters of the building.

The base sirens started screaming, a Red Alert was on. Bed Check Charley was back to drop those nasty little bombs on Kimpo.

Every light on the base went out. It was as dark as the bottom of a well. You could hear the thump, thump of combat boots running in the night, a scream, a cry, a giggle. I thought about how I used to hunt rabbits on our farm in Louisiana.

At this point I was more interested in my safety than anything else. I made my way back to my foxhole beside the tent. At daylight, Army trucks were loaded with Korean dancing girls then they headed back to Seoul.

Wild stories floated around for weeks after this, I believed every one of them. This was our last experiment with dance girls at Kimpo.

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All of us were wound up pretty tight from the things that were happening, all the time. My letter home, December 4, 1952. "There is this boy in our tent that really hates cats. A new boy moved in and brought this cat with him. This other boy was sleeping and the cat crawled up on the bed where he was sleeping and curled up at the boy's head. The boy woke up and grabbed his bayonet and had done killed the cat before anyone knew what was going on, damest thing I ever saw."

Every once in a while we would go out in the local area, to see what was going on around the base. On this trip with me was Wood and another guy from the state of Utah. We made our way up to the Hann River and marked a body for the locals to pick up. He had been shot and washed up on the bank. He was real mellow from lying in the sun for a while.

Kimpo AFB

One of Many

We took a different way back. As we rounded a small hill, I heard this thud and whimpering. I was up front, so I signaled the other guys and they spread out. There were two Korean huts in some small trees. An old Korean man had a dog hanging in one of the trees and was beating him with a stick. There was a woman and a couple of kids that I could see.

I had heard that they believe if the dog suffers the animal meat is tenderer. We were on him before he heard us approach. I was about 6 feet from him with the barrel of my M2 Carbine pointed at his chest. He threw the stick down and said something in Korean, which I did not understand.

Wood was cutting the dog down and the old man started toward Wood. I raised my Carbine and took aim, the old man stopped. Utah was checking out the huts. We got a piece of rope for a leash then, Wood, Utah and I backed out with our new dog.

We kept the dog in our tent for some time, but he eventually disappeared. In view of the living conditions in Korea at this time, I feel sure he ended up in someone's stew pot.

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Every tent had a Korean house boy, a Korean boy about 9 to 15 years old. It was his job to keep the tent clean, shoes shined and the bunks made. He would take our laundry and get it done. This was nice, if your tent didn't pass inspection, the house boy got chewed out.

Each tent had a tent chief. All disputes were settled by the tent chief. The tent chief did not have to have the highest rank in the tent. This was unusual for the military and to some hot shots a real down to earth experience. The tent chief interfaced with the house boy as to pay, etc. Some GI's tried to make their house boy their personal slave, but this did not go over well with the tent chief or our first sergeant.

When our house boy decided to go and finish school, he got his cousin to come and interview for the job. We all gathered around waiting for the new arrival. In comes this skinny Korean kid, nine or ten years old, smiling and scared to death. Here were all these round eyed GI's looking at him. There was never any doubt that he would be the new house boy.

I found a Montgomery Ward Catalog, measured him, got the total money amount and told everyone how much they owed. The mail order was sent out the next day. Then to the PX for a tooth brush and toothpaste and all the junk food we could find. It was our job to fatten him up. I think he had diarrhea the first two weeks.

House Boy

House Boy

After payday, the card games would go on for several days, until most of the money was redistributed. My most profitable venture was to keep the house boy over for the night and stake him in the game. I would give him a percentage of the winnings. The house boy was better at black jack than I was. Some of the GI's would grumble about playing against a Korean. I would sit beside him when this happened.

December 23, 1952. About half way through my tour, the president of South Korea came to our base and presented the Commander of the 4th Fighter Wing the Korean Service Medal. As we were attached to the 4th Fighter Wing, we were also awarded the Medal. From now on, any person in the 4th Fighter Wing would be allowed to wear the Medal. If you were present, as we were, you were allowed to wear the Medal on the left side of your uniform. Just in case you ever wondered about such things.

We were not allowed to take pictures of him. Only the news media that paid him were allowed to take his picture. I calculated that with all the foreign aid the United States was giving South Korea the government could have bought each and every citizen a new Buick automobile. A lot of them were near starving. Where was the money going?

From my letter home, December 23, 1952; they had a Squadron party the other night and everyone got drunk. The Commanding Officer came in our tent and sang while I played the guitar. He got drunk and raised hell. The First Sergeant fixed him up with some Korean woman. hope he gets the clapp, and so is life in Korea.

My letter home, Christmas 1952, Kimpo Radio AIK66, (our Morse code Station) received 23 Merry Christmas messages from other bases in Korea. I worked the night shift, slept till dinner Christmas day and went to church. I expect to rotate out of Korea October 26, 1953. (My letter home, December 31, 1952.)

We are now having the coldest weather of the winter. It is 5 degrees and snowing. We now have two heaters in the tent going strong. That old North wind is till blowing through the tent. I feel sorry for those Army guys about 12 miles away, I can hear the artillery. Sound travels very well in this cold.

The South Koreans were given the job of guarding the North Korean POWs, below us, to the south, on the Korean peninsula. The UN or the United States Government made the President of South Korea mad and he ordered the release of all the North Korean POWs. It was supposed, the North Koreans would try to make it back north, to their home. If this happened, they would be coming through the Kimpo area.

The station chief got us up late one night and we received instructions on how to burn and blow up our equipment in case we were ordered to. Things got real tight on security. If you went to work or anywhere at night, you would be challenged by the roaming guards. They would ask you who you were and where you were going. Their dog would be about a foot from your leg, showing his teeth. From that time on, we had Thermite Bombs at our radio operations and in our tent, just in case. I went to supply and checked out all the ammo and clips I could carry back to the tent. Several of us loaded clips and talked about the worse. We were going to head out South and hope for boat to Japan. As it happened, the North Korean POW's had it so good in their camp down South; they didn't want to go home.

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After I got my third stripe, one stripe away from being a real Noncommissioned Officer, (NCO). I was the newest shift supervisor, with four men under me. Our station chief called me in one day and asked me if I could get several of the screw-ups in line. It was their last chance, if I failed there would be a court marital and they would be sent back to the states in the brig of some ship and then to finish out their sentence in a federal pen.

My friends really gave me a lot of kidding about being in charge of the leper colony. It was a challenge. The rubber band theory has never let me down in life and I applied it here. Did you ever put a rubber band on your wrist and a few hours later it had worked its way to cut off the circulation? Well, this works with people. Just apply a constant pressure, take up all the slack, and you have got them. My hardest problem was this guy that wet the bunk every night. I had to let him go once a week to see the doctor, that wanted to be a shrink, but the rest of the time he was mine.

He called going to the shrink, one of his "Life can be beautiful meetings." In the military you are never, never late for work. This was a real problem. You are responsible for getting to work yourself. You can sign the wake up log with the Charge of Quarters and he will wake you up and make you sign the log. Well, this guy would sign the log and go back to sleep. My plan was to make him work double for any time he was late for work. Once he came to work, he was mine. I could keep him until hell froze over, no chow, no rest, only latrine breaks. There was an attendance roster that I used to keep up with him. The first day, he came dragging in when the shift was about over. Then he worked nearly two shifts. He soon saw the light, I heard that before he left Korea he had shaped up and earned his second stripe for Corporal. We had no one that failed my program.

The new radio operators were arriving. We were glad to see their happy faces. Those of us scheduled to rotate out, worked like hell to train our replacement. I was relieved of my radio operator duties and put in charge of support for our remote homer site. I was processing out, but there was about 3 weeks of work left in me and they intended to get it. I was authorized to drive a 6x6 out the gate hauling anything. Anytime day or night I might have to go near the front lines hauling radio equipment, supplies or whatever. My first trip, I was scared to death.

By myself, I started out for the KO Homer site to pick up their spare radio transmitter for repair at Kimpo. The gravel road wound around a mountain, then through farmland, then back up a mountain road, to the homer site. In the spring the Korean farmland is beautiful. The deepest green I have ever seen. Among other things, Korea is known as "The Land of the Morning Calm." This morning, I could hear the big guns booming away to the North. In the flat farm land bridges were about 8 to 10 inches above the road.

I would have to slow down to get the truck wheels on the bridge and the same to get off on the other side. On this trip a Korean soldier standing by the bridge, when I slowed down, he jumped in the back of the truck. By this time, I was on the bridge, and I hit the brakes. He slid on his knees to the front of the truck, where I was. This was an open truck. There is no barrier between the driver and back of the truck. When he slid forward I had the barrel of my 45-cal. automatic about two inches from his nose.

The last time I looked back he was still running the other way. The Marine checkpoint was about two miles from the homer site. I did a lot of trading with them. When we had lots of coffee they would be out and things like that. One time I drove the Captain up to the Homer site in his jeep. I saw the Marines in the rear view mirror and told the Captain we had better stop. He wanted to know why and I told him that the guy waving the 45 was not trying to sell it.

The Marines were alerting us to some North Korean stragglers in the area. We made the trip without incident. As I close this chapter, I realize that only the surface has been touched of my stay in Korea. I just cannot bring myself to write about the really bad times. Even now when I am around someone that was in the service, it seems that you want to talk about the things overseas, but nothing comes out.

Chapter Ten

Shipping Out - Fort Worth, Texas

1953

February 1, 1953. Mother and Dad received the first allotment check from the government. They took the $40.00 out of my pay. The government didn't contribute anything. I don't know if my brothers contributed anything to Mom and Dad. I knew how rough it was trying to make a living on that farm. Along with this I was sending Mother money orders home every month with any extra money to save for me. I wanted to buy a car when I got back to the States.

My shipping orders came through. Three of us were going to Carswell AFB, Fort Worth, Texas. I met James H. Danglade, Jr., a tower operator about this time. He was going to Carswell. His father, a doctor in Kansas City, had died and the Red Cross would not recommend that he go home early, so he sat out his father's funeral in a tent in Korea and cried. Some years after we were discharged from the Air force I learned Danglade was killed in a boating accident in Tennessee.  (April 7, 1931 – July 30, 1966)

The military issues its own money for us to use. It is called GI Script. Once in a while they change it out for new Script. The morning of Script change is secret. Our base is closed and no one leaves or enters for that day while the change is taking place. All the Koreans that have taken the old Script are broke. The old Script is worthless. The military does this to control the black market.

The great morning came at last. I caught the shuttle truck to Seoul and an airplane ride to Japan. My orders gave me eight days in travel. In other words, I had eight days from a certain date to report to the base in Japan. It only took one day to go to Japan. I found out that when you arrived in Japan, the guards would put you on a bus to the base and not let you get your time in travel, the eight days.

On the plane trip to Japan, three of us tried to get uniformed out to look like the airplane crew. We dug into our duffle bags for a uniform that matched the aircrew. When we landed we held back, then got off and went and stood behind the landing gear, until the busses were loaded and gone. I went to the PX Latrine and as the military guys would come in we changed our GI money, with them, for Yen. We caught a cab to town. It was nice to get away from the military for a few days and just tour Japan.

I was assigned to the advanced party for the long voyage back. I had to board the boat early and start baking bread. For the trip back, except for Saturday and Sunday, it was up a 2:00 AM and bake bread. I got off around 7:00 AM and was free to roam. Always, in my four years in the Military, when you work in food service, you get all of everything they have to eat. The Navy food at this time was the worst. They were cooking scrambled eggs that were from WW2. It was quite awhile after this trip before I could eat scrambled eggs again.

Our boat trip back was just more of the same. Everyone had to take an anti-malaria pill before meals. After a couple of days, the work in the ship's bakery was not that bad.

With a band playing, we pulled up to the dock in San Francisco. A quick bus ride to Camp Stoneman where several Greyhound busses were waiting. They were making up special trips as we loaded up. I got on a bus bound for Atlanta, through Monroe, Louisiana. My Mother wanted me to visit her Aunt in California, but I wanted to go home.

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I enjoyed being home again. Everyone was glad to see me. It is much better to be seen than viewed. Dad and my brothers wanted to hear war stories, but I was burned out on that. Things were starting to change; my interests were on other things. I never realized how my much my Mother had worried about me until now. She would hear about the bombing and other war actions at Kimpo, AFB on the radio and was very troubled by it. Until you have children of your own, it is hard to understand this worry process.

The snow was on the fields in Louisiana when Dad and I went rabbit hunting. I didn't carry a gun with me. Dad and I were talking about this and that when a rabbit jumped up at our feet, I grabbed for my 45 Cal. automatic pistol, but it was not there. Up until this time I never realized what the Korean War had taken out of me. Forty years later, as I write this, I can still say that you never get over being shot at. Before I went into the military, hunting was something I did every time I got the chance. Now I cannot see any reason, by any stretch of the imagination, to go out and shoot an animal for sport. I always feel safe at night to have a gun close by.

I promised Mother my visits would be more often. My feelings about the military had changed, I no longer looked forward to the adventure, and I looked forward to getting out. Back on the Greyhound bus to Fort Worth, Texas, and a taxi to Carswell AFB. It was Sunday, my sign-in date was Monday, and so there was a little time to listen to the rumors. I was scheduled to somewhere on a project.

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I was assigned to an open bay barracks. I reported to the barracks chief and he assigned me a bunk. The first person I saw near my new bunk was Danglade from Korea. He saw me first and said, "The wild man is here." I never did live that down. It was good to see Danglade. He never really got over being stuck in Korea and not getting to go to his Dad's funeral. His Dad had been a doctor in Kansas City, now Danglade had all that money to spend and he was on his way to doing just that.

After sign-in Monday, I was alerted for shipment to Project Castle, a classified project somewhere. The news spread quickly and I learned that it was to Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands for Atomic bomb tests. (The spelling for Eniwetok had changed since I was there it is now Eniwetak.) There was no way to get out of this assignment. I went on sick call, saw the Chaplain, bitched to everyone, and went to the Inspector General's Office, to no avail.

Fifteen radio operators, from our group, were to go and help provide radio communications support for the project. We filled out security papers, were investigated and received Class Q clearance from the Atomic Energy Commission. When you are in communications there is not much that they can keep from you.

Dad was worried about all the people around home investigating my background. He thought there was trouble with the Law. Mother wrote me that there were strangers asking the neighbors' questions about me. I assured her that this was for a security clearance. The fact that I was going to Eniwetok was classified, in that, our travel orders were classified secret. News of my investigation spread fast in the farming community.

All of us had just come back from overseas. The request for personnel was for experienced C.W. (Morse code) Radio Operators. I was tired of being overseas and now I was on the way to a rock in the Pacific Ocean. (C.W. means Constant Wave Modulation and is used to send Morse code.)

We caught the train in Fort Worth, two to a drawing room. I bunked with John Neal, the ranking man in charge, with me next in charge. We made a deal that one of us could partake of the grape every other night while the sober one stayed with the secret orders we carried for everyone. In some Western town Military Police boarded the train and asked for our orders but we did not show them, just our tickets. They got mad as hell, but what could they do. We enjoyed it.

The club car was where we stayed most of the time. Old Neal loved that grape. One morning when I woke up, Neal was not in the upper bunk. I went down to the club car and there were drunks asleep all over the place. I got them up as the porters were trying to turn it into a dining car. All of us were overseas veterans and we could party with a dedication.

I was back in California, this time at Travis AFB. Again I was sleepy the whole time there. After about four days, we caught an airplane for Hawaii. It took about six hours to refuel and check it all out, then on to Eniwetok. The Air Force idea of a seat on an airplane is a canvas bottom and canvas back, very uncomfortable. I found a place forward, by the emergency power unit to lie down. I don't remember how long I was able to sleep, but when the airplane was getting ready to land at Eniwetok, they started the emergency power unit. This woke me up quite suddenly. I was glad this trip was about over. I remember this as a three-day trip on this old propeller driven airplane.

Eniwetok is a small crescent shaped island with rusted WW2 ships sticking out of the water on the lagoon side. This type of island has two sides, the ocean side and the lagoon side. The main feature on this rather small island is the runway. It is just big enough for a B36 bomber to land. On our approach, we could see big blue circles in the ocean floor. It was deep holes in the ocean floor from previous Atomic Bomb shots. I was off the Airplane and into security.

Radio operators use a Morse code key to send out the messages. I had a Morse code speed key that I purchased in Korea and hand-carried it in its case. A code speed key is a little chrome plated mechanical thing with a wobbly arm about three inches long that vibrates back and forth as you use it sending the dots and dashes of Morse code. The case was about as big as something you would put a dead mouse in. The security people, on entrance to Eniwetok, did not understand what this was. They asked me what it was and I told them it was a code key that I used it to send out code. The officer in charge came over and told me to come with him, I did and they locked me up and took my code key. Within the hour, my new commander, who I had never seen, came and got me out and gave me back my code key. It was funny as hell to everyone but me.

Eniwetok was a tent camp for everyone but the officers, and was managed by the Army. The officers lived in a long corrugated tin building. At night you could take a stick and run along that corrugated tin and wake up the whole camp.

The weather was very humid. An electric light bulb in our clothes locker kept away the mildew. It seemed strange leaving a light on all the time in your clothes locker. It rained every day. Anywhere you were on the island you could see ocean water on three sides. Personnel were kept at a minimum because of the limited space. There were no trees at all. I found a washed up coconut and planted it. It responded nicely. It was good to see something green besides army green.

Our job was to handle all communications on the island and to the outside world. Our primary communications building was, as usual, a sandbagged Quonset hut behind base operations. We started out with the usual guards around everything, until they realized everyone had a security clearance, then the only time we locked down was during an atomic shot.

We had IFF scopes for aircraft identification and a PPI radarscope for intruder aircraft. There were some Russian fishing boats out there, just beyond the coastal limit, watching us and monitoring our communications. One time we thought we had a UFO as the object on our scope looked as if it was traveling three hundred miles an hour then made a sharp 90-degree turn. The Russians were playing electronic games with us. Anyway we scrambled our fighter support only to find there was nothing there. The fighter group was run by the Navy. They fly those planes with dedication. If their commander tells them to go out and shoot something, they go out and shoot something. You want something done in the military, just go to the guy that has this job, push his button and it's done.

The weather is very important on an atomic shot. There are all kinds of weather gathering and reporting systems. If there were changes in the weather, they would ask for repeats and checks from our observation posts. If the weather changed unexpectedly after a shot a lot of people could suffer. This did happen on Bravo Shot.

The first shot for this series was Bravo, the first scheduled shot did not happen. The morning Bravo was set to go I went down to the water edge to see this thing. A big orange ball formed on the horizons and just kept getting bigger as it burned and burned. Then I looked almost straight up to see the mushroom cloud form. By this time the big orange ball was covered by the stem of the mushroom cloud. A big shock wave came over and as it compressed the air, you could see the shock wave. As the air was compressed it became a warm wind. As the water vapor in the air was compressed, it could not hold the moisture and it started to rain. This was like a warm weather front rain. I went back in Base Ops to the Radio Room and thought about this for a while. All our equipment was useless for any Radio Frequency communications as Bravo Shot had filled the air with free electrons. All you could hear was static. I remember this shut us down for about 30 minutes. We had no EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) that I could tell as all our equipment started working again.

When we stood down from a shot, it was very laid back. One night we set up a Teletype link around the world. You could push a key down and in a few seconds later the printer would print the character from its trip around the world. Sometimes on shift we would have chair races. Two chairs with GIs in them would be pushed by two GIs for chair race from base operations to the back door of our radio room. Every other week, at the club, the band would alternate between hillbilly and popular music. Without fail, when the hillbilly music time came, there would be fights and more fights. We played blackjack, poker and dice. The army runs the base and didn't care. They had some of the best overseas chow I ever had.

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Someone got it into his head to send us to Kwajlein Island so we could train their radio operators. The rumor was that the chief radio operator at Kwajlein shot his wife when he caught her in bed with a sailor. We found out this was true. There were five of us to go to Kwajlein for this training job.

Kwajlein is a navy version of Eniwetok. We didn't like it and we had to get into the KP duty rotation. On Eniwetok the Army did all the K.P. duties. Our orders from Carswell gave us specific instructions that we were to support Project Castle. All of us from Eniwetok got together and wrote a letter to our Commander in Carswell. Kwajlein is an armpit compared to Eniwetok. What they wanted on Kwajlein was for our group to each pull a shift in radio operations because their guys didn't have any experience on these high-speed code nets. We raised hell about this to our commander on Kwajlein and he assigned us to train the new operators and not work regular shifts.

I had another bad experience with the Navy's scrambled eggs. What bad food. Be watchful of Navy-scrambled eggs; they might be older than you are.

Some of my best rifle training was from the Marines on Kwajlein. We ran over the sand dunes and played warrior. I was just back from Korea and these war games were a bit thin. After five weeks our letter to Carswell did some good as Carswell told them that if we were not needed on Project Castle, then send us back state side. The day the letter arrived we shipped back to Eniwetok. We were getting ready for our first shot.

Chapter Eleven

The Bombs

Project Castle

March 1, 1954 a 15-Megaton bomb, BRAVO, was shot near Bikini on a sandpit off Nam Island.

March 27, 1954 an 11-Megaton bomb, ROMEO, was shot near Bikini on a barge in BRAVO crater.

April 7, 1954 a 110-Kiloton bomb, KOON was shot near Bikini on the surface of Eneman Island.

April 26, 1954 a 6.9-Megaton bomb, UNION, was shot near Bikini on a barge in the lagoon off Iroij Island.

May 5, 1954 a 13.5-Megaton bomb, YANKEE, was shot near Bikini UNION Crater.

May 14, 1954 a 1.6 Megaton bomb, NECTAR, was shot near Bikini on a barge in MIKE crater. (The MIKE shot was on a previous test series and was the first Hydrogen bomb ever exploded.)

The Atomic bombs we dropped on Japan were firecrackers compared to these babies. To describe an Atomic bomb test, someone said, " IT BLEACHED THE MORNING SKY ", I will add that it blew a hole in the ocean floor several miles in diameter and each shot spread radiation by the prevailing winds around the world.

The newspapers were about a week old by the time I got to read them. There was always a lot of information in them that we were not supposed to talk about, the weather, shot times, expected bomb yield and things of that nature.

As usual our AACS unit provided all communications, including aircraft. There were flight plans and information of that type. When the radio teletype net went down, quite a bit, we handled all the administrative traffic to our base. The Navy had their own communications group on board ships. There were weather reports every thirty minutes from all over the shot area. On the day of a shot, things would tense up quite a bit. If there was going to be a foul up, it was not going to come from the AACS unit. A deep sense of unit pride was in every one I was ever assigned with in AACS. Those that didn't share that sense of unit pride didn't last long in any sensitive job.

The BRAVO shot exceeded its projected yield, plus a wind shift brought the nuclear ash over the island of Rongerik. The radio operators reported over our communications net that the ash looked like snow falling. After several tries by the Navy's LST, the Air Force flew in a seaplane and got the guys off. By that time their hair was falling out. I learned later that several of them developed thyroid cancer. When I was about 60 years old, I realized that my left thyroid was larger than the right one and had it taken out.

About three weeks later, just before the ROMEO shot, I was scheduled to fly to Rongerik to send the weather reports back from observations and assist the MPs in getting the narcotics from the medical safe. There would be less exposure if troops were sent in before each shot, rather than having a permanent station.

We boarded the seaplane for Rongerik. There was myself, one motor pool guy to start the power unit, two weather guys and two M.P.'s. The sea was mostly calm with a little chop, when we landed in the lagoon.

We put out two rubber rafts in the water and away we go to shore. It is very difficult to get a rubber raft on to the land from the ocean and equally difficult to get the rubber raft back in the ocean from the land. We would paddle in toward shore and the swells would take us back out. There was not a sailor among us. We decided to let the swell develop under us, then paddle like hell toward shore. We tried this twice with no luck, then this motor pool guy jumps out and pulls us on shore. The raft went right over the top of him and was he was dragged over the coral. We patched him up and walked in to the weather station.

I helped the motor pool man get the generator started, and then I fired up the transmitter and contacted Eniwetok and checked into the net. The weathermen sent up the balloons and made their measurements and filled out the weather forms for me to send.

It was getting late and it was decided that I could send out the weather from the airplane's radio just as well and we would be in route back. This was one good idea.

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I went spear fishing every spare moment. The spears had surgical rubber bands on a five-foot spear. Actually we went looking around the boats sunk during WW2 rather that fishing. The spears were to ward off or kill big fish that might attack you.

The lagoon had several old rusted-out ships setting on the bottom. You really have to overcome your fear of the unknown to swim inside one of those. Every fish I saw had teeth and would fight. There were no accidents that I know of. One of our guys had to go to the hospital to get his rubber earplugs removed, as a result of a deep dive.

Eniwetok is a remote place. There was plenty of booze, but no girls. We were visited by one USO troupe during my stay. This was the first female I had seen in six months. The only other entertainment was the outdoor movie. Most of us went to the movie every night in the rain. I just set in the bleachers with a poncho on and enjoyed the hell out of those old westerns, and then I would stop back by the club and lift a few cool ones.

This extreme isolation was hard on some of the guys. I think everyone was pretty strange before we left. We called it getting rock happy, that is setting on the beach and hitting two rocks together while you looked out over the ocean toward home. You had this urge just to be alone and that was hard to do on a small island. No one wore a uniform, just a pith helmet and khaki shorts, no shoes. There were no insects on the island. You could sleep out on the beach if you wanted to and nothing would bother you.

Our shift chief went by the club after work one evening and really got plastered. Back at his tent, after the club closed, he got all of his clothes and placed them on his bunk. Then he proceeded to get on top of all this and start crying and hollering that he was ready to go home. By this time several of us had arrived to see what was going on. The OD, Officer of the Day, arrived and proceeded to lay the psychology on him by asking him what the trouble was, etc. It was easy to see the trouble was the Sergeant wanted to go home.

The OD told the Sergeant that it was time to go to bed and that he needed to put his clothes back in the locker. Well, the Sergeant asked the OD to help him up. The OD came over and started to help him when the Sergeant bit the OD on the shoulder and hung on. One of the MP's standing nearby gave the Sergeant a sharp crack on the head and he let go. They carted him off to the stockade as a stopover to the funny farm and then home.

As I look back on things, it really was tough on the married guys on these isolated tours of duty.

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The shots were completed and we were getting ready to ship out. We were assigned a flight. I was in base operations with my duffel bag and code key. This was a two-hour wait, so I walked back to my old radio operations to talk to the new guys. I felt sorry for them, as this was their permanent station for one year. There were about five flight plans to be sent. The best I remember, you had about fifteen minutes to send a flight plan after the pilot filed it. I knew some of these flight plans were hours old. I thought that if the plane we were going out on was not filed, they might take a day or two to look for us if we ditched somewhere. I told the new guy to move over. I got on the net and sent out the backlogged flight plans. He looked the way I must have looked my first radio shift in Korea.

The plane ride back was as tiring as the first. Flying from Eniwetok to Travis AFB in a propeller airplane, a personnel-carrying KC97 type is a long, long trip.

Chapter Twelve

Back to Carswell

1954

My second trip overseas was complete. For the first time in my life, I had a deep dark tan. Every one stateside looked pale. This was strange.

I caught a Greyhound bus at Travis AFB the same day we arrived. It had been about 7 months since I had gone over 25 miles an hour. When the bus got up to 70 miles per hour, it seemed like we were going 150. I had to quit looking out, until I got use to this again.

An American Indian Airman was on the bus with us and he wanted a drink. The first place the bus pulled into would not sell him any alcohol. The next time we stopped, we chipped in and got a couple of fifths to pass around. This Indian turned into a different person; he was picking fights and just acting bad in general. The bus driver pulled over at a small town in Arizona and put him and his bags off. It didn't seem fair at first not to sell him alcohol, but after our experience with him, I can see the purpose.

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Carswell AFB in Fort Worth was to be my home, except for some temporary duty assignments, for the rest of my enlistment. Things had changed since I was last here and for the better. We had nice new barracks to live in and too many radio operators. In the states most of the long haul communications traffic is carried by commercial Teletype. Our communications job was with SAC bombers anywhere in the world. When there is an over abundance of personnel, you spend a lot of time training.

I needed some transportation. A car was out of the question as I was sending $35 a month home out of my check beside the $40 allotment. With the money I had saved overseas, I purchased a 1952 Harley Davison Model 74. Dad was on Social Security now, so I stopped the allotment that was coming out of my check.

A radio operator named J.R. Polson from Dumas, Texas, sold me the motorcycle. He was going to buy a car. From time to time, I would loan him the motorcycle and I would drive his car. Polson was the only person that worried about safety as much as I did, on a motorcycle.

When Polson knew that I was seriously interested in purchasing the motorcycle, he gave me a demonstration ride. We went to River Oaks, near Carswell Air Force Base and had a big barbecue dinner. Polson chewed tobacco, so before I loaded up behind him, for the ride back, he got a big chew in his mouth. While we were riding along, when he would talk to me I would lean forward and turn my ear toward him. This time, however, he filled my ear and face with tobacco juice. He got to laughing so hard, we had to stop. I bought that Old Blue Harley Davison and had a lot of fun with it.
James Robert Polson died March 21, 2015. He was 83 years old. James was born February 22, 1932.

Our operations center was off the Jacksboro Highway North of Fort Worth. We had to get away from radio frequency man-made noise, common to a large population center. The off-base operation consisted of four radio operator positions and one Teletype machine. We had large transmitting and receiving antenna with the associated equipment and emergency power. I have talked to B36 bombers all over the country, this was our mission.

Especially in the mornings, I could check in with the Airways Station in Hawaii and other points around the globe. Every hour on the hour the SAC bombers would give us a position report; on the half-hour an operations normal report. If an aircraft was not reporting in, we tried all our frequencies in an attempt to locate them. We transmitted a lot of weather and other operational information.

In the United States, there were women radio operators. They had wanted to go to Korea, but the Air Force would not let them. They did not develop the Morse code skills, learned in Radio School. At this time I was assistant shift chief to John Neal a Staff Sergeant. It was, otherwise, an all female shift. Most of the troops would catch the Air Force truck to the operations center. I would always ride my motorcycle, in good weather. This day, a WAF (Women's Air Force) waved me down for a ride out to work. I stopped and she got on. The first high-speed turn at an intersection, she did not lean with me for the turn. She tried to set upright as we tried to make the turn. Well, you got to lean to turn a motorcycle. My crash guard hit the little yellow separators in the street and crossed over into the other lane of traffic. Luck was with me and no one was hit.

I have learned that you always brief someone before you let then on a motorcycle or in an airplane, if you are the pilot. We had this black WAF and one-day she wanted a ride with me out to work. This was in the 1950's. To me this was normal, as I worked with her. She was just one of the troops. As we were going out Jacksboro Highway, she wanted to stop for some hamburgers and coke. I pulled into Chennault’s drive inn.

This really caused uproar. Here I am, the white guy, with a black female person on the same motorcycle. We were in uniform and we each had an M2 Carbine over our shoulder. What they thought and what they did was two different things. There were some loud threats and things, but we never replied to any of this and they never got very close to us.

We got our hamburgers and left. I thought some of them were going to follow us to our work area, which would have been a big mistake. When I was on duty at our Radio Operations Center, I was in charge. If anyone came on the property without proper permission, they went to the Air Force Jail at Carswell. Then the incident was reported to SAC Headquarters in Omaha. This was to coordinate intrusions for all SAC Bases.

Luck saw me through my motorcycle phase and later I purchase a 1950 two door, straight eight Buick. This was a real good car.

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My twenty-second birthday left me feeling the effects of three years in the Air Force. The two trips overseas, the life of parties, bars and chasing around had lost its glitter. My idea of a good time now was a movie, a Mexican dinner, and a good book.

The barracks at Carswell were divided up so that there were four men to a room. Edwin Walliser bunked in my room and we became friends. Ed did the chores of squadron clerk. He was from Switzerland. It was my honor to stand up for him when he became a United States citizen.

One afternoon Ed wanted to know if I wanted to go on a double date with him and his girl friend. Ed didn't have a car, I had the 1950 Buick. I was to have a blind date with his girl's friend. I really didn't want to go, all my blind dates had turned out bad. Ed would pay for the gas, so off we went.

I went to a little hamburger stand in Haltom City where I met my lifelong companion Patricia B. McLemore. She was so young, just 16 years old. I don't remember where we went, probably to a movie. I do remember talking to her for several hours.

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At this point in my life, I needed some nice wholesome person to talk to. I was carrying a lot of emotional baggage on my shoulders, from my Louisiana upbringing, pipeline and Air Force experiences. Looking back, I didn't really know how normal people interfaced with each other. I needed a new direction. I had never met anyone like Pat. We sat and talked for hours. As time went on, we grew closer together until I could not imagine my life without her. We planned on getting married when she finished school and I got started at Port Arthur College.

Before I met Pat, I had decided to go back overseas with some international construction company. This would not be a good life for a married man, so I decided to go to Radio School and get my FCC licenses and go to work in the Radio field. I found an advertisement in my Amateur Radio magazine about a school in Port Arthur, Texas. Port Arthur College is now a part of the University of Texas System.

There was another radio operator in our group that was interested in this school. Early one morning this guy showed up with his wife and we headed for Port Arthur, Texas. After the tour of Port Arthur College, I decided to enter when my enlistment was up in November and the other guy decided to go back to Georgia where he and his wife could go to work in the cotton mills. He told me of all the money he could make.

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Pat and I were spending all the time we could together. I would pick her up where she worked at Motts five and dime in Haltom City. I would take her home and sometimes we would go to a drive-in. She would sleep and I would watch the movie.

My military duties were not very demanding at this time. I left the operations area and went into our squadron office as the unit training NCO. I was a real Staff Sergeant now. This gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons quite a bit. My task was to help out with the various tasks in the squadron office and to make sure all units performed their training assignments. I went to a school for Training NCOs in Wichita Falls, Texas. I had a teaching schedule for three areas, Morse code, Radio Theory and ABC warfare. (Atomic, Biological and Chemical.)

Soon the United States Air Force would only be a memory. My enlistment was up.

Chapter Thirteen

Port Arthur College

1955 - 1956

On November 26, 1955 my separation from the Air Force was official. I had the feeling of a boat being left to drift from the Mother ship, it was my intention to pick my own course and row like hell. While in the Air Force, I went to every school available to me, getting my high school problem passed and out of the way. I had passed the Air Force Radio Operators and Intelligence Operations Specialists school. For now, I had to worry about my next meal, where I would sleep, and those other things taken for granted in my 4 years of Military service.

----- I had Enlisted November 27, 1951,

----- Discharged from Active Service November 26, 1955,

----- Discharged from Inactive Reserves November 1959.

I went back to Oak Grove, Louisiana, for a few days before I enrolled in Port Arthur College. I have never missed anyone like I did Pat. All the time I was home, in Louisiana, I missed her all the time. There was no doubt that we would get married. I went back to Fort Worth to see Pat one more time. We stayed up and talked until she had to go home then I headed South.

1956

January 1956, late one foggy night, I arrived in Port Arthur. Procter Street was deserted and the college was dark. I couldn't find anyone to rent me a room at the Hotel downtown, so I went back to the college. With directions from an all night Texaco station, I found Port Arthur College. The dormitory was old and austere, a two story brick building. The dormitory was situated with girls to the right and boys to the left. A large common area separated the two with a large dining room straight-ahead from the entrance. I woke up the House Mother with the admonition not to venture into the wrong areas. I really liked the House Mother. She was about 85 years old and very active. After my part time job at the Texaco service station, about 10 PM, the house Mother and I would go to a drive in and have a beer. You can imagine all the ribbing that came my way. She had a real interesting life and I enjoyed talking to her.

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Port Arthur College is an old school. There were many radio operators trained here, before and during World War Two for the Army and Merchant Marines. I remember about 15 women living in the dormitory. They went for the office skill classes. About half of the students lived within the area and drove to school. The only coed class was typing. This is an excellent school, and I was well pleased with it. I knew how to type from the Air Force, so it was easy to pass the typing test and have the extra time to study radio. The GI Bill really didn't pay me enough to live, more especially if I got married. The tuition, room and board came to the amount I got from the GI Bill.

I found a job at a corner Texaco gas station, as mentioned earlier, for 50 cents an hour and felt lucky to get it. I had inquired at all the local places for work. It was tough getting a part time job so I could go to school. I worked from 6 to 10 every night and all day Saturday and Sunday. I was busy. This was a real step down for me. I had been in charge of a communications center in a war zone and for an atomic bomb test; now here I was, working for 50 cents an hour in a Texaco service station. Best deal I ever had, I was going to school.

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June 9, 1956, I walked down the aisle with Patricia B. We had a nice wedding at the Free Will Baptist Church in North Fort Worth. None of my family was able to attend. After the wedding we jumped in that old 1950 Buick and headed for Port Arthur. We had a nice little apartment up on the second floor, in back, on Proctor Street. It was between my job and school. We had lots of windows where we could lie in bed and watch the ships pass through the intercostal canal, about four blocks away, and hear them as they signaled for the drawbridge to raise.

My boss at the filling station gave me a 50-cent an hour raise. That made a dollar an hour for my labor. On Sundays the local kids would drive up for a dollars worth of gas, check the tires and clean the windshield. In those days the customer would never be allowed to pump his own gas. During all the night work, I was never robbed. There were some shifty characters hanging around sometimes. I carried a 12-inch crescent wrench in my back pocket, so if someone started anything, I was going to give them a permanent part in their hair.

I was studying hard trying to get through and pass all my FCC tests for those licenses. Pat helped me study by reading the technical questions to me and I would answer them.

Just about the time Pat found a job, we found out that she was going to have a child. I really did not want her to work then. This was additional motivation to hurry up and finish school. Pat wanted to be in Fort Worth when she had our baby.

The Port Arthur apartment was furnished with nice furniture. We had a wooden rocking chair that finally broke. I propped it together so it would look good if the landlady stopped by. I told Pat not to sit in it, as it would fall. Well one day when I came home from work, I plopped down in it and it broke all to pieces. Pat laughed so hard I thought she would be sick.

Time was moving fast for us as we had an urgent deadline. Our new baby was due in the spring of 1957. The time came, Pat and I went to Beaumont and I passed all my FCC license tests. I had my First Class Radiotelephone Operator, Second Class Radiotelegraph, Advanced Amateur Radio Operator, and Ship Radar Endorsement licenses.

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With all the humidity and pollution in Port Arthur, I had trouble breathing, coughed a lot and had several infections. I went to the doctor. After he examined me, I told him my cough was worse when I smoked more. He told me to quit smoking. I had never really thought about quitting smoking before. This seemed to me to be a hard-earned right that I had. I started to quit smoking.

Now this quitting smoking takes a while. Just because you don't puff the stuff any more, your body keeps yelling at you for several months. I got real nervous, my heart beat real fast all the time, bowel trouble and the whole withdrawal deal. Back to the doctor for some calm-me-down pills, that helped some. The best deal was LifeSavers candy. When the craving got bad, just eat a few LifeSavers, that helped. One of the best things I ever did was quit smoking. It is hard to realize how something can get a hold of you. After one year the craving finally went away. Looking back, it is hard for me to realize that I used to pull smoke in my lungs and that it was pleasing to me.

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We packed up our 1950 straight eight Buick with every thing we owned and headed for Fort Worth. I had a good solid education in Electronics and was ready to put that knowledge to use.

Years later, when I worked for Airsignal International, I had some free time, while in Houston, so I rented a car and headed back to Port Arthur College. There is no way to describe the deep feeling and memories that visit created for me. It was over-powering, those rush of memories. I expected to hear a familiar voice or see one of my old instructors. This learning experience, this education, at Port Arthur College, gave me a what I needed to compete in the job market.

Chapter Fourteen

Looking For A Job

1957

We arrived in Fort Worth and discovered Pat's parents had moved. We found them in Haltom City, just out of Fort Worth. They had bought a new house. We settled in with them while I looked for a job. The economy was on one of its downturns at this time. I applied for a job at the Texas Employment Commission, Jack Proctor at Circle Communications and Dudley Knight at Knights Communications. When I got to the Texas Employment Commission the waiting room was full. I filled out the forms and listed all my FCC Licenses, and turned it in. Within ten minutes a man came out holding my application and told me he had about five places that would probably hire me. I took the list and started out.

I could have gone to work for Circle Communications, but Jack Proctor said he would not pay overtime. A radio station in Mineral Wells, Texas, wanted me to work as the station engineer and announcer. Pat didn't really like Mineral Wells. She wanted to be near her family when the baby was born. I took the job at Knights Communications. I started learning the two-way radio repair business.

Starting out, I had four years Air Force radio experience, one year at Port Arthur College and all my Federal Communications Licenses. I had very little practical experience on two-way radios.

Knights Communications was located down town Fort Worth, next to a Buick dealership, where the Fort Worth Police garage is now, 1995. My main job was to service taxicab radios, as they would come in for repair. I would discuss the radio difficulty with the taxi driver and either repair it on the spot or swap out the two-way radio with a spare and work on the problem later. We logged each trouble report and parts used. This was the kind of work I enjoyed.

The taxi drivers would park in the several taxi stands around town or hold in a certain area of the city. When a call would come in, over the telephone, to the dispatcher, the taxi would get the call over his radio. The driver would respond to the dispatcher and go pick up the person for transport to a destination. It was very important that the two-way radio worked and worked well. Most of the radio complaints from the drivers would be to turn the power up so they could get a faster response to the dispatcher.

At this time the most modern radios were vibrator-powered receiver and dynamotor powered transmitter. With the six-volt system in cars, at this time, the vibrators and dynamotors really took a beating. When you pushed the transmit button on your microphone, it took about three seconds for the dynamotor to start and speed up so you would have transmitter power. You had to time your vocal response to the dynamotor producing power. If you talked into the microphone too quickly, nothing came out of the radio. The Taxi drivers would watch the red transmit light when they keyed the transmitter. The power drain on the start-up to transmit would make the red light weak, and then as the power came up the red light would burn a normal brightness. There was plenty of work to be done in this business. It would take about 1 full time technician to maintain 300 two-way tube radios at this time.

Knights Communications had the radios on a maintenance contract. The less work and parts we used, the more money Knight made. The most expensive parts were the vacuum power tubes and the vibrators that produced the receiver power. You would try to fix the problems the best you could with the least parts.

In the wintertime, the cab company would purchase new cars for some of the taxi cab fleet. When the body shop got through putting on the signs and trip meters, we would install the two-way radio. This was real labor intensive. One person could install about three cabs a day. The only way to be more efficient installing radios is to take all the tools and parts you would need for each phase of the installation with you. If you didn't, you would spend the whole day wondering around trying to find something. In other words, if you were working under the hood, you would have everything you would need, parts, tools, etc., at that position.

My next big step was working on the base station transmitter. After that, Knight felt free to take his extended vacations.

It took me about three years until I could fix any communications problem you could bring in the door. From then on it was still a learning process, but more of a honing my skills.

I think the most important phase of any repair or service job is to listen to the complaint. Then you can make a decision on what to do. Diagnose the problem with the complaint, confirm the diagnosis with facts from the equipment then effect a repair. You must know what reading to expect, on your test equipment, before you touch an electronic probe on a piece of equipment. In other words, if you put a meter probe on point "A" of a circuit board, you must know what reading to expect, otherwise you are just wasting you time.

The basic process to fix anything electronic is "INPUT-OUTPUT". If a transistor, integrated circuit, relay, or whatever has an input but no out-put, with the proper voltage and ground, change the part. If the part or circuit in question, has an input and proper out-put, go to the next part in the sequence.

Don't fix anything that is not broke. If you work on something all day, you should not have introduced any other problem in the system.

Southland Life Bldg

Install Antenna on top of Southland Life Building in Dallas, Texas

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Pat and I moved into an apartment on the Fort Worth North side, on 27th street. About this time I took Pat to St. Joseph Hospital and she delivered Laurie Suzanne into the world, April 18, 1957. If the world depended on me to carry a baby for 9 months, then go through all the pain of delivering it, there would be no kids in the world. Laurie was worth it a thousand times over. That little blond-headed girl has brought a lot of joy into my life. Laurie was very small at birth. She seemed sleepy at first, probably from all the anesthetic Pat got at the hospital.

We did not know anything about babies and got very little help from the in-laws. There was not any help from my side of the family as they lived in Louisiana. We knew real quick we had a live wire on our hands with Laurie. She started crawling, walking and talking early. I bought her a little trunk to put her toys in. She would drag that thing behind her and flop it down, climb on it and reach anything she wanted in the house.

Every night I would rock her to sleep. She would turn her head down under my arm, put that little hand on her blond curls and twirl them until I rocked her to sleep. When sound asleep, I would try to put her in bed without waking her. This became more difficult as time went on. She wanted someone to hold her all the time. You don't really know if your kid is crying from some real distress or just spoiled for attention. I finally decided Laurie had us out smarted, so I tanned her rear end and let her cry it out, until she went to sleep. The guilt almost overwhelms you. You don't know if you did the right thing or not.

Looking back at how other people's kids turned out, I know Pat and I did the right thing. After the spanking, we couldn't wait for her to wake up the next morning to see if she was OK. She was. Now she would go to bed without crying to be held. When she did wake up, we would check her for diaper problems, fever, hungry, thirsty and all the things kids need. This worked much better than being at her beck and cry.

As Laurie got older, she was still a baby, Pat decided she needed a brother. Pat got pregnant again, this time with Lanty Marcus. She decided to call him Mark. Well, Mark added the final joy to our life and completed our contribution to the world's population.

Mark came into the world wide-awake and hungry, August 28, 1959. It was so good to see a kid eat with such enthusiasm. Mark never did enjoy being rocked to sleep. He wanted to get down and play. There was nothing that could stand in the way of him playing until he fell over asleep. Laurie, just a baby herself, now she had some one to baby.

One night for supper, Pat had fixed up some chili. Mark was in his high chair beating his spoon on the tray and eating canned baby food. I could tell that he smelled the chili, by the way he reacted to eating the baby food. I started feeding him chili and crackers. That kid loved it and still does. Pat said, I was going to kill him feeding him chili. After the chili, Mark would eat anything, the full bottle of milk was just to get to sleep. Pat was really in her element, here was a kid that loved to eat. He really put on that baby fat as pictures of him show. Laurie was sick, with colds when she was a baby. I think this was because we kept the house too hot. I thought she was cold all the time. It seemed that if we kept her warm she would be O.K.. Little did I realize that babies don't need all that warmth. We discovered the error of our ways.

I sure enjoyed playing with the kids. If there was something to fix in the house, I would bring my toolbox in, while I was working away, Laurie and Mark would take everything out of my toolbox. They would play and I would work, then when we got through, they would put everything back in but not in order. They were learning. Mark would take my shoelaces out every night and very patently try to relace my shoes. I would have to relace my shoes and redo my toolbox before I would go to work. I would think about those little hands and minds being developed through these play actions.

Pat found us a house to rent in River Oaks, just North of Fort Worth on Lawther Street. It was good to be out of that apartment. Pat wanted a fence around our back yard for the kids to play in. I went to Montgomery Ward and got some farm type fence and steel posts. With lots of help from those kids, I built a kid fence. Now Laurie and Mark could play out back without Pat worrying about them getting in the street. We got them a swing set to play on and a red wagon. In 1994, we would still have the frame of that swing set in our backyard at 201 Olive St., Hurst, Texas. We left that old swing set when we moved to Hide-A-Way Lake, near Lindale, Texas. Sometime we would like to have it back, but that is in the past now.

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Years later when Laurie was grown and married, she enlisted Mark's help in delivering a used window air conditioner to the local animal shelter. Laurie always helped the local animal shelters with her time and any thing she could give them. This air conditioner would help keep the animal shelter cool on these hot Texas summer days. Laurie and Mark carried the air conditioner around back and were leaving by passing through the area were the animals were waiting adoption or euthanasia. Mark told Laurie not to look the animals in the eye as they passed through, he said, "It will just break your heart." Mark has always had a soft spot for animals he has 3 cats. Laurie, at this writing, has five dogs.

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We were able to purchase, on credit, a swamp box for cooling. This is an evaporative cooler with a large fan sucks air through water-filled pads and cools the house. This type of cooling will drop the temperature about 18 degrees on a hot dry Texas summer day or the dew point. That cool air felt good after a hot days work.

That old 1950 Buick was a good car in its day, but it was wearing out. We needed another car. It took just about everything I made to support my family. I believed that if I could get together a good down payment, we could afford a car.

I found a night job at Fort Worth's Technical High School teaching Radio and Television Repair. The only problem was that I was on call at Knights Communications every other week. Before the job offer expired, I found a well-qualified radio technician that worked at General Dynamics to teach on alternate weeks.

I was really busy, teaching every other week at night and on call the rest of the time. I was determined to get that down payment. Most of my students were ex-military going to school on the GI Bill. There were several Indians from some reservation going to school as a ward of the United States Government.

My partner and I did the very best teaching job we could. There were some of the students only interested in appearing and getting that government check. Those that wanted to learn got my full attention.

In electronics, you have to learn the basics. You cannot start your education in electronics in the middle and learn outward.

I taught through two semesters and saved $800.00. This was the end of my teaching phase. I found this 1957 Blue Buick and paid down on it.

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There are several principles, I feel, that Pat and I developed in our effort to raising our children. We treated our children like they were little people and not a possession, or someone we owned. When we moved into our home at 201 Olive Street, Hurst, Texas, Laurie and Mark were able to have a room of their own. I put a lock on each of their bedroom doors. They could have privacy. No one would enter a closed door in our house without knocking. This demonstrated to them that they had rights. We encouraged them to read by reading to them. We encouraged them to think for themselves by discussing things with them, as opposed to telling them what to think. We made them mind without being oppressive. Our children knew what to expect from their parents. We knew what to expect from our children. They knew that education was important, because Pat and I both went to college while our children were at home.

When each child, in turn, got their drivers license, I had a key made for each car we had. We trusted our children and were never disappointed. I got both of them an American Express Card. I told them in case of an emergency to use it. I was never disappointed.

Chapter Fifteen

Two Deaths in the Family

1963

General Dynamics in Fort Worth bought General Electric two-way radios for their fleet. Knights Communications contracted to install and maintain them. I was at General Dynamics when Paul, my brother, called to inform me that my oldest brother, Fred, had been killed in Wyoming. Tommy Wylie, with a pilot in a Cessna 182 and brought Fred's body back to Oak Grove for burial.

This was the first funeral in our family. Fred's kids came from Georgia and Mississippi for this event. We left our children with Pat's Mother and headed out to Oak Grove. I had a 1958 Buick this time.

This was a circus, with two sets of Fred's kids that had never seen each other. This was a really sad time. Daddy was unable to go to the funeral, because of his health. Daddy worried about this until his death. I realized that one of the worse things that can happen to you in this life, is living longer than your children. Fred's wife at the time of his death was Beulah. Reflections back on the good times Fred and I had together and the way he helped me on the pipeline, seemed to make his passing easier. He was good to Mother and Dad.

Beulah gave me Fred's Baby Gibson Guitar. I still have it. This trip gave Pat and I four days away from the kids and time to talk. This was our poor time. During this time when we went to Louisiana to visit, we didn't have any extra money at all, not even to stop and buy hamburgers. We usually packed a lunch.

Pat started to college. She wanted to be a teacher. The first two years she went to Tarrant County Junior College. The last two years, she went to Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas. This was the start of a weird chain of events. Pat and her friend that lived just down the street would go to the grocery store together and things like that. Every time Pat would enter the house, someone would call on the telephone and not say anything, just hold on the line. This problem went on for several weeks. I knew that whoever was doing the calling could see our house and observe the coming and going of Pat and her friend. I wrote down the telephone numbers of all the homes that could observe our house.

The plan was when Pat and her friend came into our house from whatever shopping trip, if the phone rang and it was the mystery caller, then Pats friend would run next door and use the telephone to start down the list. Whoever was calling, their telephone line would be busy and we would know the mystery caller.

The stage was set, when Pat got home one day the phone rang and Pat told her friend to go next door and start the elimination process. Surprise! Pat could hear on the phone her friend pounding on the next door neighbors door, "Let me in I want to use your telephone." We knew then, that it was the next door neighbor that was making the calls. After this was brought to her attention, the phone calls never did start again.

Laurie, Mark and I went all out to help Pat make it through. There were many nights I would see Pat fall asleep with a book in her hand. She was determined to make it. This was truly a work of determination and I know our children got some direct motivational inspiration from watching their Mother work so hard to get an education. Finally Pat was through school and looking for a job. As September drew near, Highland Park sent her the call and she went for an interview. This was a family effort and we were all thrilled at the letter with Pat's acceptance for the position of teacher.

Pat had a 1967 Firebird Pontiac to drive through all that Dallas Traffic. At least with that car she could out run most of them. As one year turned into another, Pat found a lady that lived in Hurst to car pool with. Later on Pat got a job in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford School District, about 15 minutes from home. Pat worked there until she retired, with 21 years of teaching. After all these years of her teaching, I don't know of a more demanding job. It is one of those come home and stare-at-the-walls jobs.

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My job at Knights was very demanding. Every other week for years I was on call at night to fix any two-way radio equipment that broke down when the shop was closed. We maintained General Dynamics Security, Carswell AFB Security, Police Departments, Taxi Companies and others that demanded 24-hour radio repair service.

During the summer months the concrete delivery trucks had to be maintained late in the evening. These trucks worked late, and then I would have to wait at the plant to repair them when they arrived. This would make me late getting home for supper, night after night.

One time at Carswell they were having a problem with their security radio at the bomb storage area West of General Dynamics. I was called to go out there. The bomb storage area is protected by high fences and guard dogs. They push a button to let you in the fenced in walkway. Then you show them your pass. They let you in to work on the broken equipment. Before they call for radio repair they are supposed to call Carswell Base Communications and Base Communications is supposed to call the weapons storage police and tell them who is coming out to repair their radio. They keep atomic bombs at this location.

I pushed the button, they let me in. I was carrying all the necessary equipment to repair their main radio transmitter, which was broken. I showed them my pass and ID. The Sergeant pulled his 38 Cal. revolver on me and had me empty all my pockets out. I was spread out on the fence with my hands up. They called for a car from Carswell and took me back to the stockade. The base communications officer was there to get me. Everyone was sorry that it happened. If I had not been in the Air Force this would have been worse to me than it was. My back locked up for several days, then it was OK.

I was getting tired of Knights Communications. Pat was bringing a pay check home and this took a lot of financial pressure off of me. Bell Helicopter, in Hurst, was looking for electronic technicians. I was examined and accepted for employment. I told Knight of my decision and he wanted me to stay on with him. The deal was, if I stayed Knight would set up a corporation, Knights Communications, Inc. I would get ten percent of the stock, up front, then over a period of nine years increase my stock holding to 40% of the corporation. This gave me new energy and direction, in that, I felt my labor would be for my benefit. Knight kept up with the book keeping and financial and I devoted my time to the technical end.

By 1970, the income I saw pass through the company, in my opinion, could not be found in the company records. By 1972, I found out that Knight had set up a parallel corporation call Worldtronics, Inc which Knight and his wife owned exclusively. Worldtronics, Inc now owned all the equipment that Knights Communications, Inc., use to own and Worldtronics, Inc leased this equipment back to Knights Communications, Inc. This made Knights Communications, Inc own only the accounts receivable and spare parts inventory. I am sure everything Knight did, in regard to this corporate structure, was legal. It is my opinion, that I had the short end of the stick and that I was doing more than my share of the work. With this learning experience, I have never been screwed again in a business deal.

It was time for a change.

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I started to school at Tarrant County Junior College. I knew that I had reached my peak as a Technician, so my plan was to study management. Management is basically being able to understand how people act in-groups and how you can influence the group.

The radio paging business was just starting to bloom. There were about 700 to 900 pagers in the Dallas and Fort Worth market. These pagers were mostly used by doctors and medical personnel. One day Knights got a call to check out a paging transmitter. I was sent on the job. It was a Robert Dollar Amplitude Modulated Transmitter. All the dispatching and alerting was through an answering service, all manual entry. This was my first encounter with any type of paging.

Paging technology was increasing very rapidly and one day Airsignal International called us. Airsignal was the largest paging company in the world. I was going to install the first automatic AMCOR Radio paging terminal in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. This was the latest technology.

After reading the installation manual and studying the problem, I installed the AMCOR on Okland Ave in Fort Worth and it started working. This thing was so complicated; it seemed that no one person could understand the complete unit at one time. In later years, after the AMCOR factory closed down, I was sent all over the United States to repair and diagnose problems on this machine. Yes, one person could understand the whole thing with lots of study. I designed several modifications to make it do several different things.

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I joined the Handley Lodge 1140 and was raised as a Master Mason. I completed 32 degrees of the Scottish Rite and joined the Moslah Shrine. This has been a great pleasure in my life and a reserve of strength when I need it. Now I understand why some organized religions talk against Masonry. There is no mind control in Masonry. It is a direct opposite to the mind control of some organized religions. As Martin L. King Jr. said "-- lord I'm free at last.

After moving to Lindale, Texas, I have increased my Masonic affiliation to the following:

Tyler Lodge 1233 AF&AM Tyler, Texas

Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Fort Worth, Texas

Tyler Chapter 24 R.A.M. Tyler, Texas

Tyler Council 13 R. & S. M. Tyler, Texas

Ascension Commandery # 25 Tyler, Texas

Sharon Temple A.A.O.N.M.S. Tyler, Texas

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On March 5, 1964, Dad died. He was 72 years old and is buried at Kilbourne, Louisiana. When Dad was about 62 years old, the doctor found a growth in his prostate gland. Dad knew he was going to die any minute, so he went to bed. It is not hard to understand his thinking. Most people that we knew, when they had cancer, it was just a matter of a few months before someone was patting you in the face with a shovel. These growths in his prostate were very slow or maybe not any growth. The doctors gave him anything he wanted in regard to pain killers. Dad would lie in the bed and watch television all time. With the least discomfort he had the bottle of pain medicine handy. After all of this, his heart finally gave out after 10 years of inactivity and pain medicine.

To draw a parallel, grandpa Gentry would struggle out of bed every morning, even after a drunk, put his clothes on, get a bowl of oatmeal and glass of goats milk and make the day. Grandpa was 85 when he died. He is buried close to Marthaville, Louisiana.

Dad told me years before when we were farming to make sure when he died that he was really dead. It was his fear that he might be buried alive. Where Dad was raised in Tennessee there were tales of people being buried alive. Embalming removes this problem; anyway, I felt his face when he was lying in the casket to satisfy my promise to him. I have nothing but good feelings about my Dad. We worked together, shared the work and what small rewards there was in farming in Louisiana. He was never mean to me and I treated him with respect. I visit Dad and Mother's grave every time I go to Kilbourne.

Chapter Sixteen

Work, Work, Work

1966

In the summer of 1966 Tom Freeman and I found a radio tower that was almost new, but not being used. It was a Rohn 25G type tower. I had always wanted an Amateur Radio station at home. Probably just to relive my radio days in Korea. We got the tower just for taking it down. It was 160 feet tall. It took us all day in the Texas Sun. I almost got too hot. I did remember from my pipeline days on exactly what to do. Tom drove me to the nearest grocery store for a couple salt pills and lots of water. Tom and I each had 80 feet of tower. I have my 80 feet of tower at 201 Olive Street. Even though I have never been active in Amateur Radio, I like to look at the tower. I now have an Amateur Extra Class License, K5HAW.

One Saturday afternoon, as I was building the tower, I could see from my high vantage point that several of the neighbors were setting in their lawn chairs watching me. I later asked the Police Sergeant that lived across the street, why everyone was watching me construct my tower. He told me that if I fell he wanted to see it. That Police Sergeant was Larry Barnett, he has been a good friend all these years. Larry's wife, by a previous marriage, had a little boy about 3 years old. No one could understand him as he jabbered away.

I had an empty money sack that I liberated from a radio installation on an armored truck. It had "The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas", printed on its sides. I cut up several newspapers to the exact size of a dollar bill and put them in the money sack and tied it. If you felt through the money sack and by the looks of it, it was full of money. I knew that Larry came home, in his police car, every day for lunch. When I saw his police car pull around back of his house, I walked over to where their little boy was playing and told him to take this to his daddy. I went back home to watch. In about 30 seconds, I saw all the window shades being pulled down at his house. Then about a minute later, he walked out with the opened sack in hand. I walked over and we had a good laugh. I told him I didn't fall off the tower, but he sure fell for the sack of worthless newspaper. Larry is my very good friend to this day.

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I did not expect Laurie or Mark to be or work in some profession that Pat and I would choose. They were free to chose, Pat and I would encourage them. There was no infraction of rules that would prevent them from receiving a reasonable allowance. That is all they would get each week and they knew it. Of course, when we went on vacation, they got a bonus amount. I hate to see a child have to beg for money from their parents. If they get a reasonable allowance and that only, they will learn how to manage money.

When Mark was about 13, he would go with me to the barbershop and we would get our hair cut. At this time, long hair was the style for young boys and Mark wanted his hair to be long. While Mark and I were waiting our turn for the barber, another young man was getting his hair cut. His Dad was giving instructions to the barber for the child to have his hair cut short. The young man was protesting in vain for the barber to leave most of his hair long. As the barber cut the child's hair, big tears were running down his cheeks. That Dad lost something that day and what is so sad, he probably would never realize it.

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Another story about Mark. Mark was living at home and going to college. He came home one day just after our little dog Niki had bit the cleaning lady. Niki is a 12-pound dog with an attitude problem. He does not want anyone to pick up anything off of the floor that belongs to him and he has the teeth to back it up. The cleaning lady thinks Niki is the cutest and best dog in the world, even though he has bit her several times. Anyway, after Niki had nipped the cleaning lady, Mark picked up Niki and took him in the other room and told him in a serious voice, "If you keep acting like that you won't have any friends." This was the maximum discipline he could bring himself to inflict on Niki.

The most important, for last, we love our children. The company I worked for, Knights Communications worked on taxicab and other two-way-radios in and around Tarrant County. When the Cab Company moved, so did Knights. We moved on their back lot, in one half of their body repair shop on Stayton Street, Fort Worth. This was down in the Trinity River Bottom, next to Trinity Park. We needed the room as two-way radio was an expanding business.

On Stayton Street, there was a native pecan tree growing in the parking lot. I took several of those pecans, planted them in coffee cans, then transplanted them to our yard on Olive Street. We have 3 trees in our yard over 50 feet tall. The little native pecans are not prone to have disease and they are not much good for human use, but those little squirrels think they landed in heaven.

We now live, (Year 2000) near Lindale, Texas. Every time I go to Fort Worth, I drive by those big pecan trees. That is the only thing I enjoy seeing about that place. No one seems to keep their place clean and neat anymore.

Chapter Seventeen

John W. McLemore

1969

My farther and mother in-law lived at 5005 Nadine Drive, Haltom City, Texas: John Wayne and Muriel Elizabeth McLemore. We visited them often. In my view, there was never a close relationship with them, but a cordial one.

John worked as a machinist and Muriel was a homemaker. In October of 1968, John developed problems with his balance and was running a low grade fever. When he perspired on his clothes, it was a yellowish color. The local doctor diagnosed an inner ear infection and he was treated with antibiotics for this condition.

Within two weeks his condition had not improved and was getting worse. It seemed that any loud noise would make him nervous. An appointment was made with a neurologists - Pat and I drove him to his appointment.

Tests were run and there was nothing that could be done to stop or correct the progress of his illness.

In December of 1968 John was admitted to St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. During the last 3 days of his life, he was in a coma. A breathing machine was needed to make him breath. Every time his heart would beat, he would jerk. As his condition was hopeless, he died March 23, 1969.

An autopsy was performed and a diagnosis was made of Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease. The Doctor, Clayton M. Smith, told us later his brain was the worst he had ever seen.

John McLemore as many people eat cow and pork brains with scrambled eggs. This was a common dish on the farm. Little did anyone know, at that time, it could be a dose of death.

State of Texas Death Certificate 220-01-220-04 Cert of Death 021599 - Tarrant County, Texas

Chapter Eighteen

Air Signal International

1973

I had just about completed the management course at Tarrant County Junior College by going to night school. In all, I went for 5 years. The last year I took a full load and made the Dean's List.

I quit Knight Communications, Inc., of which I owned 40% of the stock. This was an association that got worse and in looking back, a very wise decision.

Air Signal International, Inc., was to be my employer for five years. I was able to put some of my college training to work. When I went to college at night, by the middle of the semester, half of the seats would be empty. I was amazed at the knowledge available and the few who really decided to make their lives better.

Knight was going on vacation in Alaska the year I quit. I knew he wouldn't be able to go when I left. I never had any regret about leaving when I did.

I called my new boss, Bernie Pilz, to see if Airsignal would let me go to work two weeks early. I could use the money. His answer was yes and on Wednesday morning I reported to work. My wages were the same, plus I had hospitalization and life insurance and they gave me a car allowance. Bernie's boss, Ted Muczynski lived in Houston. He was the Airsignal Area Manager.

Bernie was telling Ted what a good job I was doing, so when the Paging System in Memphis, Tennessee, needed help, I got the call. It was a nice cool, clear Texas morning when the jet cleared the runway at D/FW Airport. I felt a sense of pride that I was getting to travel, stay in nice motels and all that at company expense. I even had a company airline charge card for my ticket. All the necessary electronic testing equipment that I would need was in the belly of this jet monster. This was my first jet airplane ride. My first company trip. I had never worked on a Low Band Quintron Paging Transmitter before.

Jim Beckett, the local station manager, met me. We loaded up the test equipment and off we went. I had never met Jim before, but had talked to him on the telephone. He was interested in the latest company gossip, so we went through all of that on our way to the company office. I checked out the AMCOR paging terminal, then on to the transmitters.

Airsignal leased a spot on an antenna tower that was located at a concrete plant. I remembered concrete plants from my Knights Communications days. The Airsignal transmitter tested so badly, I thought my test equipment had been damaged in shipment. I tuned my test equipment to another transmitter in the room and what-do-you-know, everything fell into the normal range. This meant that the Airsignal transmitter was so far out of alignment that I had doubted my test equipment accuracy.

Airsignal had 5 transmitter sites in Memphis for paging. It took all-day and part of the night to complete my alignment. Everything was corrected to perfect alignment, transmitters, terminal and control circuits. I even cleaned up around the paging terminal, rerouting cables and getting the dust out.

Then one thing I always did when a job was completed, I asked Beckett if there was anything else he needed me to do, or anything he needed that I could get for him. He was very happy with the maintenance results on the paging system. We went over exactly what would be on my trip report to his boss, Ted Muczynski. There would be no surprises for him or me.

My next task was to get the Fort Worth/Dallas paging system in tiptop shape. The less it broke down, the less work I would have to do. The AMCOR paging terminal offered a challenge. I was use to vacuum tube technology. This thing had no vacuum tubes, only integrated circuit and its technology. The AMCOR factory school helped me a lot in the technical area and it was nice to meet the factory personnel. In my spare time you would find me studying the AMCOR technical manual.

Bernie's boss, Ted Muczynski, was well pleased with Memphis and in a few months I was promoted to Area Technical Manager. Ted Muczynski became my primary boss, even though I was still responsible to Bernie for the Fort Worth/Dallas System.

The Houston paging system was my next challenge. Houston was Airsignal's cash cow and the cow was sick.

Bobby Kelm was Airsignal's station manager in Houston. From then until now, there is not a better person to work with. His concern for his people and their loyalty to him was amazing. Bobby and I went through the system and set everything to factory specs. The technician responsible for this mess was on the bottle and we waved good by to him. We hired another technician for Houston. I made several trips down there to train him and several pager repair technicians.

Birmingham, Alabama, was my next problem. Ruby Cryder was the station manager. This paging system required a complete re-design. I really went out on a limb on this one, but when I was through, my God how those paging radio signals would get in those valleys and around those mountains.

That AMCOR paging terminal in Birmingham gave me fits. From every indication, the core memory was bad. Everything would operate well for a week or more, and then the memory would appear to go bad. I would hop on an airplane and change the memory out and manually plug the entire data base back in. This problem took about five trips to solve. About two o'clock one morning, after I changed out the old memory, the new memory went out. I had my oscilloscope connected across the most likely data wire to cause the problem when it shorted out. This short caused the computer to write bad data back into memory every time an address was accessed. I took my long nose pliers and pulled on the wire bundle where it was pulled too tight around a sharp corner and the short cleared. I fluffed up the wires for some slack at the problem location and the problem was fixed. Electronic equipment either works or not; faith that it will work or quit has no effect in reality. It does take a while for people to gain confidence in the equipment after one of these problems is solved.

Shortly after the Birmingham final repair, Scott Davis, the Executive Vice President of Airsignal was in Birmingham on an inspection tour. He called me at home Tuesday night. There was an indicator light on the AMCOR paging terminal that did not work. This light comes on when a telephone-input trunk was active and has no other function. I told him that this light performed no operational function but he told me he wanted the damn thing fixed. I told him no problem. That night, I went down to the shop, got a relay, early the next morning I was on an airplane to Birmingham. I arrived before the office was open so I took off my belt and through the mail slot, looped it over the doorknob and opened the front door. I plugged in the new relay and made sure the indicator light came on, and then made coffee. When Ruby arrived, together we checked the terminal operation. Everything was OK. I told her where I was staying and that if anything happened to the terminal call me. I went back to the motel, got my swim trunks and set by the pool reading until Friday. I contacted Ruby Friday and inquired about the light She said it was still working. I caught a plane to Fort Worth. It was a nice vacation.

The next week Ted Muczynski was in Birmingham. I got a telephone call at work. Ruby told Ted the overcall printer was spitting red ink. I told Ted over the phone that there was no red ink in the printer, that the printer ribbon was black. I told him this was an indication that the roll of paper was just about out. Ruby had already changed the paper so there was no red ink at the moment. I found out later from one of the sales people, that Ted and Ruby had unrolled one of the printer rolls just to see if the end was red. It was.

At this point in time, the paging business was so good that Airsignal still made lots of money, in spite of themselves. There were two types of pagers for us to market, the voice pager and the tone only pager. Everyone wanted the voice pager, but we were limited by the amount of pagers we could put on a channel, about two thousand. The tone only pager was hard to use. Every time someone paged you, you would call a certain number, so in effect only one person could know your telephone number. There were certain variations on this, but not much improvement. There was competition on the horizon, a digital pager was in development at Motorola.

We had a waiting list for voice type pagers. When a user would cancel a voice pager, we would look at our waiting list and call the next person in line. If they didn't come in that day, the next person on the list would be called.

I went to New York every year to make budgets. These were the people that made the decisions about the company and I wanted to learn, learn, and learn. I met J.P. Bhagat on one of these trips. He was from India and had more real common sense that anyone I have ever met in the paging business. He treated everyone very kind and was considerate. Needless to say he is one of the more successful people in this business.

After a while, when an Airsignal AMCOR paging terminal had a real nasty breakdown anywhere in the United States, I was called to catch the next airplane and fix it. My last trip was to Portland, Oregon. The local technician had replaced a 5-volt supply with a 12-volt bench supply. It had been turned down to five volts, but at some time the heavy current demand had made the power supply loose its voltage regulation and go up to 12 volts. This burned up just about every circuit card in the AMCOR paging terminal.

I arrived Saturday night, March 15, 1980. With the spare circuit cards I brought with me, I had most of the Paging Terminal back on line within five hours. By Sunday noon it was in good shape. I got a call from Scott Davis. He wanted me to be in Kansas City for a meeting Monday morning. This was too much. Pat was as tired of my traveling as I was. I quit Airsignal. My last yearly budget for Airsignal was two million dollars for equipment purchases.

Chapter Nineteen

Page-A-Fone

1980

I called Jack Proctor. I had known Jack Proctor, president of Page-A-Fone, Fort Worth since 1957. Jack with the help of his staff ran one of the largest two-way radio shops in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. In the course of business and over the years, Jack had told me that if I ever wanted a job, he would like to talk to me. After I quit Airsignal, I met with Page-A-Fone's managers and settled on a deal. I was making a little more money than Airsignal with no traveling.

Page-A-Fone hired me without a job description. I had no idea of the job they had in mind for me. Monday morning, April 14, 1980 was my first day working for Page-A-Fone. My assignment was to get the Arlington service shop back on track. The City of Arlington had been complaining to Motorola about the quality of service they were receiving. When, Jack and I walked in the Page-A-Fone's operation, everyone was busy and took no notice of us. Jack turned to me and said, "I want you to hook up a door bell for this damn place, anyone could come in here and tote the place off."

I got squared away in my new office and proceeded to design a doorbell. I went to Radio Shack and got the parts and installed a trip switch over the front door and a doorbell in the answering service. When you opened the door, the bell sounded. The answering service lady said, "What in the hell did you put that thing (bell) in here for?" On this note I started my career at Page-A-Fone.

My contact with the city was Captain Noel Pryor with the police department. There were two problems. The two-way radio system had to be made technically correct and the users had to have confidence in the system. I know that having confidence or not having confidence in a radio system has no effect on its operation, however, if a group has confidence there are less frantic calls for help. There will be only routine calls for help.

There was a mix and match of Motorola and General Electric Radios in the Arlington Police system. The base or fixed system was General Electric. Several years before, Tom Freeman and I had installed this system when I worked at Knights Communications. The base stations were located to give the required transmitter range in each section of town. The receiving system was rather complicated with a receiver-voting panel in the dispatch office. The receiver voting system was necessary for the hand-held portable units to access the dispatcher anywhere in Arlington. Portable units can always hear the system much better than they can talk back as they have a very limited transmit power. The receiver voter locked on the strongest signal from the Police Units and constantly looked for a stronger signal to switch to, if one appeared.

This refit, repair and alignment went on for about a week. The big day arrived and I announced to Captain Prior, the system was 100%. During the day, I could hear the Police checking out the coverage with different portable units, with very good results.

About 10 PM I got a call from Captain Prior to the effect the Chief had chewed him out, the Arlington Police system was dead. Nothing was working. Captain Prior was meeting me at the Police station. The Police units could hear the dispatcher, but the dispatcher could not hear the units in the field. The receiver voter was dead. I unlocked the main cover and not one indicator light was on. The main power fuse was O.K., but the unit was unplugged from the wall. I plugged the unit in and communications resumed on the system. It seemed the cleaning person had unplugged the unit to plug in the vacuum cleaner. This was her usual procedure, except this night she forgot to plug the receiver voter back in. I thought it would be better for everyone concerned to declare a blown power fuse and that was the way I logged it in the record. It seems this had been a chronic problem in the past. It was known by everyone thereafter, touch the receiver voter and die.

Before I left Page-A-Fone, the City of Arlington sent me a letter of commendation for getting their communications system back on track.

Page-A-Fone was in the paging business as a small time operator in the Dallas and Fort Worth market. Their main thrust was in Fort Worth, so, in effect, they were cutting themselves out of 75% of available Dallas market. I had been promoting the construction of a large paging system in this market from the first day. At our regular meetings when expansion was brought up, Jack would cross his arms, slide back from the table and say no. During this time he was on dialysis for his bad kidneys. He would later think these things through and later change his mind. One Monday morning Jack called me to come to Fort Worth. He told me to get ready because the next Monday we were going to Washington. I was ready.

We met with the lawyers and engineers to plan our new paging system. This was old stuff to me as I had done this many times with Airsignal. When we got back, I did the market and demand study. The sites were next. I always think of what this system should be five years from now and plan for that. The next project was to convince the managers to purchase Quintron transmitting equipment. Jack's first response to Quintron over Motorola was that hell would freeze over before they bought any Quintron equipment. After the license applications passed the FCC protest period, we placed an order for Quintron transmitters and a new BBL paging terminal. As I write this in 1996, those transmitters are still working and making money.

Motorola announced their new digital pager. A person could call a paging terminal, from a touch-tone telephone, press in his telephone number and his telephone number would appear on a pager. I really didn't think this would go over well. I told Jack Proctor we should do some market research on this before we invested a bunch of money in it. He agreed and I went to Houston. Mobile Comm had after I just started offering service in Houston for the digital pager. I met with some of my friends in Mobile Comm and they told me that the first month, they had placed on over one thousand digital pagers. I was convinced. The next day, I told Jack Proctor to pull out all the stops, digital paging was the way to go. I could not believe the pent-up demand for these pagers. From that time on, I never tried to call a market trend. Just see which way the market is going and grab on. About this time the Federal Communications Commission was developing the idea of having cellular mobile telephone systems throughout the United States. A group of the local mobile radio owners got together to apply for these proposed channels. Bob Watkins the Executive Vice President of Page-A-Fone was elected President of this new organization called DFW Signal, Inc. DFW Signal owned an E.F. Johnson RYDAX Mobile Telephone System.

Chapter Twenty

Mobile Phones

The generations of radio mobile telephone systems

Manual Dispatch: This was the first type of mobile phone service where an operator would dial the number for you. When you were in your car, you would pick up the microphone and call the dispatcher. You would have to give the dispatcher the telephone number you wanted to dial. When the number you requested answered, you were connected to it. The connection was full duplex, in that you could talk and hear at the same time. The radio system consisted of 2 frequencies, which made full duplex possible. You would have to monitor the channel and respond to your number if the operator called you. Most conversations with mobile units are mobile to land. That is, the mobile unit makes most of the calls for service. One pair of radio frequencies, a channel, could only accommodate about 30 mobile units. During busy time, you would sometime have to wait for service.

SECODE Mobile Telephone: With this type of service, the operator could dial you and you could dial a call. Only one channel could be used without manually changing channels. This technology was slow in that while you were dialing a rotary dial in the car, the radio channel was tied up. This system eliminated an operator. The conversations of others were difficult to monitor and the radio channel was made a bit more efficient.

IMTS: This was Motorola's Improved Mobile Telephone Service. This was a great leap forward in mobile communications. Your telephone could search several, up to 12, mobile channels. This greatly improved the efficiency of radio channel usage. Now, more mobiles could be accommodated per channel and billing of the airtime, (radio channel usage) was automated. This technology cleared up most billing complaints. However, this technology continued to tie up the radio channel while you were dialing.

RYDAX: This service used high speed switching for dial up and dial out. This was the most efficient use of available radio spectrum, a forerunner of cellular telephone technology developed by E.F. Johnson Company. This technology stored the dialed number, then acquired a radio channel for transmission. Then the dialed number was sent to the switching network by high-speed data. Actually 300 BAUD, but it was high speed at the time. This technology saved 30 to 45 seconds of channel airtime, over past technology per call. You could not monitor the channel to listen to other calls, from a standard mobile unit. The cost of a mobile unit was $2,500 plus monthly air time usage.

CELLULAR: This service has many frequencies assigned and makes excellent use of these frequencies by re-using them over a large geographical area. This was by far the most efficient radio spectrum usage.

In every instance of radiotelephone usage, when a new technology comes out, the lower technology is completely washed out. I saw the usage on DFW's RYDAX system go from $50,000 a month gross revenue to 0 within 8 months of the cellular radio telephone system turn on. The beautiful part of the RYDAX system was that it paid for DFW's applications into the cellular market and paid my salary while I started a Paging Business.

Fred Link

(L to R) Lanty Wylie & Fred M. Link "Father of Two Way Radio"

Click Here for Article on Fred M. Link

Chapter Twenty One

DFW Signal

Jack Proctor, President of Page-A-Fone, was up for a new kidney transplant. Jack rejected the new kidney and was very sick. I went to the hospital in Dallas and gave blood platelets for Jack. They took some of my blood, filtered the platelets out and returned the rest to me. A doctor had to standby during this procedure. I was glad to be able to help him out, even though it did no good. Jack died.

Jack's death brought a lot of changes to Page-A-Fone. In my opinion, the investors and stockholders lost faith in the management and wanted to sell out.

At this time Page-A-Fone had about 12,000 pagers in service. They sold out to Communications Industries for around $12,000,000. That is $1,000 per pager.

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Bob Watkins had just gone through a divorce and he resigned as president of D/FW Signal, Inc. Bud Forester from Dallas was elected president and I was elected vice president. I was to carry the ball on the new Cellular Telephone application. My employer was Page-A-Fone, but D/FW Signal paid Page-A-Fone my salary.

This new responsibility gave my career a big boost. I was traveling to Washington to see the lawyers and to Florida to see the engineers. I was on the leading edge of this new technology. Later, during the protest period from other applicants, a Federal Judge reviewed my qualifications and ruled that I was qualified to operate and install a cellular radio telephone system as part of the application qualification process. I had never been an expert witness before.

As the cellular deal came to a close through mergers and acquisitions, I started doing some consulting work on the side. I made some money and had some fun.

Chapter Twenty Two

AACS Communications, Inc.

April 22, 1983

Bob Bell of Bell Communications, Inc of Fort Worth was involved in the cellular partnership D/FW Signal. I had known Bob since 1962. I met Bob one rainy night while working on two-way Radios for Owens Brumley Funeral Home in Fort Worth, Texas.

It had been raining all day and with the frontal passage, lightning had boomed all over the area. This is always a bad time for radio repair people. The lightning gets into the antenna and radio. At this time the radio coax transmission line manufacturers had trouble keeping rainwater from seeping into their coax.

I was dispatched to repair the ambulance radios. Bob was there to repair the sheriff's county radios in the same vehicles. I ran out of parts after a while when Bob came over and talked to me. He offered and I accepted some parts, on loan, to finish up. The next day new parts were returned to Bob. Bob was one of Knights Communications competitors and he was a successful businessman.

After I left Knight's and worked for Airsignal, I always stayed in contact with Bob. Then, when I worked for Page-A-Fone/D/FW Signal, Bob was part owner of D/FW Signal and I was the Vice President so we saw each other at the various business meetings.

While I worked for D/FW Signal, Bob and I met for coffee every Monday morning at Dennys on the South Freeway. We discussed paging and the on going problems of D/FW Signal. Bob developed Pro-Net, a medical paging company from scratch. This company was developed to satisfy a need of the local hospital council. I was trying to set up an agency deal for Page-A-Fone and they could not see any money in this kind of deal. Page-A-Fone wanted to lease the pager to individuals and I wanted to lease paging numbers to Agents that would sell or lease to the end user. Time has proven me right, 90% of pager marketing is done the way I proposed in 1982.

Bob could see the money in this kind of deal and agreed to finance such a paging service. I did not have any money to invest. I invested what money we had in eating from day to day. Bob kept pushing me to get a pro-forma together. He brought in Ray Trott and Roger Crawford, so there would be four stockholders in the new paging venture, AACS Communications, Inc. Later on we bought Crawford out of AACS.

We went into deep, deep debt to get this thing going. The name AACS comes from my Air Force days. AACS stood for Airways and Air Communications Service. The Air Force no longer used this name, so we were incorporated in the state of Texas as AACS Communications, Inc. We were first in the telephone book and the name sounded good.

As AACS, we installed paging systems in Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and Houston. We started getting a little paging business here and there and the numbers started to mount up. In July of 1984 we had about 700 pagers on service. Our monthly billing was $3,727.50. Bob, Ray and Roger were digging into their pocket for our due monthly expense. The money we were taking in was not paying our bills. Bob, was really carrying the load, at one time AACS owed him about $100,000. He had funded our equipment purchases. As the business turned profitable, AACS got a bank loan and paid everyone off.

So our Paging Business was started as the least-cost way of getting in business. I knew Bill Lee, the manager of Radio Relay, a paging business in Dallas. Bill from my Airsignal days in Houston. When Bill was a salesman in Houston he was always smiling. Later I asked him why the big smile, he said it is to keep from going crazy working for these idiots (Airsignal).

Bill promised me that he would lease space on AACS's proposed channel for voice pagers. At this time none of the big paging companies wanted voice paging on a system because each voice page would take 15 seconds of airtime on a paging channel. This 15 seconds of time compares to 1/4 of a second for a digital page to be transmitted. We wanted any kind of paging business, our channel was empty.

When I finally got AACS's paging channel on the air, I bought 4 voice pagers for demonstration units and let Bill try them out. Bill started placing orders with me for paging numbers. By the time Bill went to work for another company, he had placed over 800 voice pagers on with AACS. By this time other people were placing orders for paging service and we were on our way in the paging business.

Bill Lee, Bob Bell and I would usually get together at the trade shows and conventions. We would eat all their food and drink up their whiskey.

-------

My salary was still being paid by D/FW Signal, Inc. I was a consultant for them. This arrangement really helped the bottom line of AACS.

Cellular Telephones came along to market and D/FW Signal lost all its customers. AACS started paying my salary.

Our business model was to lease Air Time in bulk to Agents. These Agents would purchase telephone numbers and the air time associated with these numbers. AACS would not lease or sell any pagers. We were just the Carrier.

We opened up in Houston and Austin. We later sold Austin, as it was a real loser. Houston just about broke even, but we had those FCC Licenses.

By selling Air Time, we did not have the expense of purchasing pagers and sales people to sell them. Just about everything we did, could be done on a computer. I wrote the software for all our access to mainframe, billing and control programs. All we had to do to generate the monthly bills was to hit a certain key on our computer. The bills would be calculated and printed out. We would stuff them in an envelop and in the mail. ( I truly love to write computer programs. )

I did most of the transmitter maintenance and all of the paging terminal maintenance. We got hit by lightning 3 times. Sometime it would take 36 hours non-stop to get the necessary parts flown in and the pages going out again. We had 40,000 telephone numbers terminated in our terminal. As numbers were turned off and on. They had to be aged. That is to say, a pager number when turned off cannot be assigned immediately. It has to be aged, so people will get a, not in service message when they call it. In about 3 months it can be used again. This is the reason that even though you have 40,000 telephone numbers in the switch, you cannot have that many active pagers. The turn over rate for the agents was about 3 percent per month.

Well, we finally have a deal to sell AACS and I am looking forward to traveling and doing a few fun projects in my retirement.

In October of 1996 we made a deal with Teletouch, Inc., out of Tyler, Texas to purchase the Stock of AACS Communications, Inc. Lord, I'm free at last, maybe. I promised Teletouch that I would stay on for 18 months for generous stay bonus. This has given me a space to turn loose of the business. I need that.

AACS quit expanding and we started harvesting the business in 1991. This has been a good business, but now in 1997, it is time to sell.

After Teletouch bought the business, they had to move to a more upscale office. I found a place in Arlington for a good price and would you know, most of the people in Tyler had to come and give their blessing on it. It was interesting to work for someone else again. I tried not to worry about it - well - sometime it just happened.

One day, out of the blue, the Chairman of the Board of Teletouch came by the office. After touring the place, he wanted a red neon sign placed in the window, "Pagers for Sale." I contacted a sign company and got a bid. The bid was accepted by Teletouch and a red neon sign was placed in the window, that could be seen from the street, "Pagers for Sale." We were broken into 3 times before my contract ran out. It seems every junkie could read that sign as they drove by, break in, get our pagers and be gone before the police responded to the alarm.

The best person I ever worked with was Barbara Orso. She was my secretary before the sale and stayed on after the sale to Teletouch.

February 3, 1996, Bob Bell, David Bell, Jerry Marr and I were going to meet, as usual, for a good Saturday morning breakfast at the Paris Coffee Shop. I set the alarm clock for 5 AM. I got up and it was snowing so I went back to bed. At 9:30 AM the phone rang and by the automatic ID device, I could tell it was from Bob's home phone. David Bell told me that his Dad, Bob Bell had died. It seemed he had a heart attack and fell over dead. Bob was taken to the same funeral home where we had first met many years ago, one rainy night in 1962. On February 6, 1996 Bob was buried with full Masonic Honors. I was one of the Pallbearers.

Chapter Twenty Three

Flying

1985

I passed my check ride with an FAA authorized inspector on March 24, 1985. Flying an airplane has always been one of my dreams. This flying was very good for me. You must give 100% of yourself and attention or you could get in a bad situation while flying.

After learning to fly, it is just like turning up the contrast on a television set, you look at life different. You can see things differently, your driving improves. The environment that surrounds you comes into sharp focus. Every sense becomes keen and alert.

My little daughter married Jim McCollum, a wise choice. We got a flyer in the family. His presence and aviation hobby encouraged me to get my pilots license. Laurie was going to take a ground school course at Tarrant County Junior College so I went with her. Jim was going to teach us how to fly.

My first flight with Jim was a disaster. On March 29, 1981, in Cessna 150-N60988, Jim and I departed Mangham Airport for climbs, descents, medium turns, steep turns, touch and go and VASI approaches on the first lesson. This was really a workout. I think Jim tried to teach me everything he knew on this first lesson. I was frozen stiff thinking the thing was going to fall out of the air and kill us all. I hung on with this type of torture, on and off, until 1983.

On August 29, 1983, I went to a flying school at Meacham Field in Fort Worth, (FTW) and really got serious about the program. The chief flight instructor was Foy L. Shoemate. He asked me if I minded being taught by a girl. I told him it didn't make any difference to me as long as she could fly. I was introduced to D. Jane Porter. She was about the same age as my daughter Laurie. Jane taught me the way I like to teach, if you don't do something right, she would say, let's try that again and this time do so and so, to correct my mistake. . No pressure, except the task at hand. I had taken a week vacation to fly every day and within three days Jane and I were on our way to Abilene for a dual cross-country trip.

The Cessna 150 trainer had to strain in the hot Texas summer to get any altitude at all. When we left Meacham Field, I turned on the Omni receiver for our first checkpoint. Jane was looking out the window and then started to work on her fingernails. After about thirty minutes, she was asleep as we droned over the barren land. With a start, she woke up and asked me where we were. I had the sectional map in my lap and pointed to where I thought we were. She asked me how I knew where we were and I went through the procedure of tuning in the adjacent radio signals and determining our position. The little blob on the windscreen was Abilene. I called the tower and landed.

It was some hot in Abilene, Texas. We enjoyed a cool coke and the air conditioning of the airport terminal. I started working on my flight plan to Witchia Falls. Jane was talking to a local feeder airline pilot about a job. She left and came back with a job application. She wanted to know if I minded a little extra time while she filled it out. I told her that I did not mind, but if she would take my advice, take the application back to Fort Worth. I believe she should spend some time thinking over the questions, fill them out neatly with a typewriter and attach a picture. I was going to come back to Abilene on my cross-country solo flight the next day and I would bring the application with me for the chief pilot. She agreed.

We did our preflight and departed to Witcha Falls. The next day, I was back in Abilene and delivered the application as planned. My week of vacation passed quickly and I still didn't have the skill to pass my check ride. After a week of flying, I felt wrung out. I needed a break.

Jane was accepted as a pilot for the feeder airline. Later on, I found out she got a job with an international air carrier. I don't understand the concern over women pilots. Jane was the best instructor I ever had. One time I took off with her seat belt hanging out the door. This loud rapid banging caused me some concern, but she just said for me to always fly the airplane, if I had airspeed, altitude, fuel and a good engine the problem was not really that bad. If you ever fly on an airline with D. Jane Porter as pilot, I can assure you that you are in safe hands with a very good pilot.

My new instructor was an ex-Air Force Pilot and a good instructor. It was his policy never to pass a student for a check ride without spin training. The week before spin training was scheduled, I got all my affairs in order, accepted my fate and reported in.

Cut the power, lower the flaps ten degrees and start pulling the nose up. The reason you lower the flaps a bit is so you can have aileron control until it falls out of the sky. Just as the nose of the airplane starts to fall, keep holding back pressure on the stick and kick either rudder to the floor, keep it there. Wham bam, you are now looking straight down, with the earth spinning below you. Press the other rudder to the floor and push the stick forward. You have stopped spinning. Both rudder pedals should now be equal, you are in a dive. Move the stick back toward you and you zoom out of the dive to level flight, add power.

The last project was night flying and spin training at night. I was getting to be an old hand at this by now. It was a moonlit night. My enjoyment was short lived when the instructor told me to put on the IFR hood. I climbed out to 3,000 feet on instruments to the practice area. I did a couple of clearing turns so the instructor could see if there were any other airplanes around. He told me to close my eyes; he was going to put it in a spin. I knew we were going straight down, when he told me to bring it out. I could not tell which way I was spinning. The IFR hood would not let me look for an outside reference. As we were heading straight down I told him I could not tell which way I was spinning. The instructor popped it out of the spin and told me, the next time, look at the turn and skid indicator and every which way the little airplane in the window was turning, that was the way I was turning. We did several more spins without any problem and headed for Meacham Airport for my night landing requirements.

I did night landings, with landing lights, without landing lights. Night landings, crosswind left and right. I knew what terror-sweat was. There was not a dry thread on me. With this out of the way I was ready for my check ride.

At the test, I felt all my flight knowledge had flown. I sit down with the examiner and he quizzed me about everything on his list. We were ready for the wild blue yonder. The day before, found out who was going to give my check ride, I went to the airports where he usually took students and practiced landings. We went through all the maneuvers and safety procedures. Then he started showing me some of the safety things he had learned over the years. We landed and he signed me off. I am a real pilot.

Chapter Twenty Four

Mother

1988

On January 25, 1988, I got a call from Francis Wylie, my brother Clyde's ex-wife. She told me that someone had broken into my Mother's trailer house, beat and robbed her and left her for dead. Frances had my Mother taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Monroe, Louisiana.

After my father died, Beulah, my dead brother Fred's wife bought my Mother a trailer house. Beulah wanted her son Tommy Sims to stay with Mother and go to school at Kilbourne, Louisiana, rather than Arkansas, where Beulah lived. Beulah said that she did not want Tommy going to school in Wilmont, Arkansas, because of the majority there were Blacks. The trailer was permanently parked at Francis's home in Louisiana and Tommy Sims had stayed with her until he finished school. At this time, my Mother lived alone in the trailer, with Francis close by. After we got the news that Mother was near death, Pat and I left the next morning for Monroe, Louisiana.

I thought West Carroll Parish, Louisiana, was one of the safest places on earth. There had been only one murder in that Parish the 11 years I was there. I had never heard of a house being broken into. Occasionally some gasoline would come up missing. About the only crime was someone getting picked up for being drunk.

After Francis found my Mother, she called the Sheriff and he called the crime lab in Baton Rouge. The crime lab sent the state helicopter and investigators to the trailer.

The first night Pat and I were at the hospital, the investigators talked to me about some family history. I gathered that they thought that it might have been someone in the family that beat-up my Mother. They asked me what I knew about Tommy Sims and Tommy Wylie. Tommy Sims was Beulah's son. Tommy Wylie is my brother Grady and Ruth's first child. I assured them that Tommy Sims or Tommy Wylie was not involved in this. I answered their questions. In looking back, the Sheriff's Department at West Carroll, Louisiana, and the State of Louisiana devoted a tremendous amount of manpower in looking for my Mother's assailants.

Within three days, I heard from family members, that Willie Cooper and his common law wife, Linda Eugin Cooper had been captured in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi. A Mississippi State Game Warden had stopped a pick-up truck that matched a certain description the State Police had obtained. Cooper and Eugin were wanted for the beating deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Worthey, who lived near Roxie, Mississippi. The police got a description of Cooper, Eugin and their truck from an 84 old man in Winston County. He had been beaten and robbed by the pair. The Sheriff said that Cooper had been tracked through 12 states during the past year for similar crimes. Cooper and Eugin were Gypsys. They made their living by robbing and assaulting old people. Usually Gypsys will specialize in a particular crime and stick with it, until they get caught. Cooper, Eugin and their sometime partner, Larkin Jenkins are believed to be involved with 10 murders of old people in the Southern United States, according to the local newspaper. This band of Gypsys lived in central Louisiana. Their only occupation was crime.

Within 15 minutes after Cooper was arrested, he committed suicide. He took off his nylon socks, tied them high on the bars of his cell and hanged himself.

My Mother's neighbor, down the road, provided the lead that tied this with the Mississippi crimes. Cooper had said he was from the electric company and wanted to check in their house. Of course, he didn't gain entrance, but went on to my Mother's house. She let him in or he forced an entry, then he proceeded to beat my Mother nearly to death for the 50 dollars she had. He had taken the transmitter mouthpiece out of the telephone. No one could use the telephone without that part.

With Cooper out of the way, Eugin was brought to the jail in West Carroll Parish for trial. The trial was later moved to another Parish. She was found guilty and sentenced to a long term in the Louisiana State Prison. It is my understanding that she will be tried in Mississippi for her crimes in that state.

Mother had a long stay in the hospital in Monroe. When she was released from the hospital Beulah took care of her for about six months. This around-the-clock care for my Mother was really getting Beulah down. Beulah had a cafe to run and she had lung cancer.

One day, Pat and I went to Oak Grove and placed her in a nursing home. Frances was very, very helpful in all this process, but there were no other kinfolk to be found. Brother Paul told me he was feeling bad and couldn't make it. Sister Mary Lee also couldn't make it.

Mother never did get on well at the nursing home. She finally died. I contacted Mary Lee and we sort of let the estate thing wait a while. This last act had to be played out, so one fine day Paul and I visited a lawyer in Oak Grove. It is always best to hire the District Attorney or his law partner or his ex-law partner. The attorney I hired was the District Attorney.

It was my feeling that if any trouble arose with the family it would come from Paul. With this in mind, I wanted him to be with me through the whole process. I thought that full disclosure would head off any problem.

I thought to myself that certainly I could manage this, I have taken management in college, I manage a very successful business. What could go wrong? Paul and I agreed on everything in the lawyer's office. The necessary papers were filled out and I came back to Hurst, Texas.

Within a week, I found out, just about everyone in the family, except Mary Lee, Frances and her kids, had turned against me and what I had set out to do. However, at this point in my life, I really didn't care. Pat and I had a net worth that put us in the deep comfort zone and we didn't owe anybody anything. Sixty acres in Louisiana was just not that important.

I really wanted Frances's stepson, Bob Wylie to have the land. He wanted it and I felt that Frances's had done more than anyone to help my Mother, so I was going to do what I could. Bob was prepared to pay a bid price. He would pay the highest price, from three bids that the lawyer had obtained. After Paul's input, in my opinion, the situation got muddy and I could do no more. With all the family in-fighting, Bob lost interest in the project. The court in Oak Grove sold to the highest bidder and we were through with it.

What I learned: In every real bad family situation, someone in the family, will come along and make it worse. With all my family obligations settled, I am getting ready to contemplate retirement.

Chapter Twenty Five

Lindale, Texas

1998

Pat and I are going to move out of the Dallas and Fort Worth area and enjoy the good life for a while.

January 3, 1998 Pat and I finally located our dream house at Hide-A-Way Lake near Lindale, Texas. We had been looking for a nice home away from the city, since mid 1997. As I got closer to my retirement date of February 1998, the pace had picked up. Every spare minute we spent looking for this special place, lots of trees, gated community and out of the city. So on this date January 3, 1998 we walked through the door and knew this was what we had been looking for. Many times on our trips to Louisiana to visit my folks, we passed by Exit 552 on Interstate 20. From the Interstate there is no indication that this is a wonderful place to live. When we pass through the gate, there is a feeling of, I'm home now. It took us about three months of looking here at Hide-A-Way before that day we walked in for a look and knew this was our place.

The elderly couple that owned the house needed a smaller place and, due to his health, wanted to be closer to their son that lives in Tyler. The house was 8 years old when we found it. So it was constructed in 1980. The Real Estate Agent told us how much they wanted and I told her to tell them to give us their lowest price. I would not haggle; it would be a yes or no answer. She got on the phone and gave us their lowest price, Pat and I looked at each other and knew we had the house. We sat there is silence wondering what to do next. The closing date was set. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I could find the house again through all these twisting tree lined roads.

February 3, 1998, before we could get away from Hurst, Pat had two major operations at HEB Harris Hospital in Bedford, Texas. This is near our home in Hurst, Texas. She was understandably not able to do any lifting during the coming move to Lindale. She did more than her share of everything else, wrapping, boxing stuff up, cleaning and things like that. She has always had a good exercise program going, so she really came through the process very well.

We arraigned for a painter to do the complete inside and outside trim before we moved in and had a carpet cleaning company to steam clean the carpets.

March 1, 1998 is my first day of retirement from the Paging Business. I stayed and worked for 18 months after we sold the business for a generous bonus from Teletouch Communications, Inc. We rented a U-Hawl trailer about once a week, packed and moved the light stuff from Hurst to Hide-A-Way Lake. The dogs truly love the trips back and forth. About half way between Fort Worth and Lindale we found a McDonalds restaurant. The dogs loved the meat in those hamburgers but more especially the iced water. Then about 30 minutes later we would put a leash on the dogs and let them tour the roadside rest stop. After we moved a bed and bought a small refrigerator, on April 9, 1998, we claim 1519 Tanglewood Drive East, Lindale, Texas 75771-5147 as our new residence. We still have lots of stuff to move. We hired Allied Van Lines to move the big stuff. Their Insurance Program, in my opinion, is a joke. They broke an Antique Glass Case and after I hired a Lawyer and 8 months later, we got it fixed.

July 6, 1998: I had an enlarged thyroid for some time and it was beginning to grow, so out it came. You read about my assignment in the Atomic Bomb Tests, previously. In another place herein, find a description of this surgery On July 6, 1998; I had Thyroid surgery at Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.

The GREAT DAY finally arrived, July 17, 1998, we sold 201 Olive Street, Hurst, Texas 76053. This was our home since 1963. Our Kids grew up there, but I was glad to get rid of it. The neighborhood was getting run down. Some of our neighbors were not keeping up their property, junk in the yard, broken down cars, constant speeding cars by our house at all hours of the day, things like that, we wanted to move.

Things that you have no control over seem to happen from time to time. Our beloved Niki died August 4, 1998. We tried several Vets but his heart was just too weak. His illness came suddenly as did his death. He did not suffer at the end.

August 6, 1998, Muriel McLemore, Pat's mother died after a long and protracted illness.

During the summer of 1998, it was difficult to believe that November would finally arrive with the cool welcome rain. Something we must have inherited from the past, this love of several days of dreary rain. We get in our warm place and listen to the rain, and it makes us sleep. It comforts us. The pine needles appear on the grass, yet the pine trees don't seem to miss them. They stay green all winter, those tall pines. The grass will retreat and snuggle under the pine needles during the cold months. The dogwood trees are turning from gold to orange and red as the fall sets in. Soon the leaves will fall as the North wind whistles through.

All the little animals have completed their chores by laying in nuts for the winter months. The squirrels are fat from the bird feeders. They are just rats with big fuzzy tails, fun to watch though. The delicate speedy humming birds have gone, only a lonely wasp visits the sugar nectar feeder. Soon this will be put away for another year. Some of the other birds will be with us all winter. They will find quite an assortment of nuts and stuff in our feeders. Lots of red birds, some woodpeckers work here. They scratch the trees when they can't reach to remove that pesky bug. Then we listen to the wind through the pines. Sometime I wonder what message it brings, that lonesome wind through the pines.

Cool rainy weather signals the Holidays. This will be a good year, our kids will be out to see us. We will set and talk and remember the fund things, eat the good food and drink the best whiskey. As we get older, we remember the times together, the happy times. We always hope for a repeat of the happy times. There are times when business and family pressure makes a get together just not possible, so we enjoy the happy times.

I am writing this August 1, 1999. We have been at Hide-A-Way Lake just a little over one year. We have installed a chain link fence around the back yard, a sprinkler system and second central Air/heat unit for my room upstairs. During the winter of 1998/1999 I re-wrapped the old existing air conditioning ducts with 4 inches of foil backed insulation. There is more to do when winter comes again and it is cool in the attic.

One time we had to have a dead pine tree cut down. I hired a tree company that had been recommended by my neighbor. After watching the owner climb the trees and direct his workers, I asked him, "You don't ever get over it do you." He said, "No, I think of Viet Nam every day."

Most of the time Pat and I work around the house about half a day and spend the rest of the day doing what we want to do. I am trying to read 2 books a week. If it is a technical or science book, it is usually 1 book per week. The two book I try to re-read every year is "Goa Freaks" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", like visiting an old friend.

It was a great day when the Mormon Genealogy Internet Site opened up. I was able to take my existing records of the Gentry(s) (My Mothers Family) and trace them back to the Boat Ride over from England.

The Wylie(s) are proving more difficult. I have hired a Certified Genealogist to help me in this task. The results will be included in this book.

Chapter Twenty Six

Grand Babies

1999

We were very surprised when Mark, our son, announced that he and Sue were expecting a baby in April of 1999. Pat and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be Grand Childless. This good news was truly a blessing.

Pamela Rose Wylie was born in Dallas, April 12, 1999. Now I understand why grand parents are wild about their grandchildren.

Then again Mark told us they were expecting another baby in June of 2001. Nicholas Morgan Wylie was born June 28, 2001.

Rose was a very calm and inquisitive baby. Nicholas is really wound up tight, that is to say he is not a calm baby. The least little thing, such as a wet diaper, and he will let you know there is a problem.

At this writing Nicholas is just a few weeks old. We always want to keep Rose for a weekend or just a few days. She is such an easy child to be around. Pat and I have reached the age where it wears us out to keep her, but we love the opportunity.

I know the first time we kept her, we had a new baby bed for her to sleep in. When we put her in it, she cried. We immediately decided that parents might let their children cry, but Grand parents did not. We put her in bet between us and after watching the news, off went the TV and Rose went to sleep. So every time she has stayed over, she sleeps with Gan Paw and Nana.

It won't be long before she will be calling us on the phone.

When Sue was pregnant with Nicholas, we got to keep Rose for a few days. We went shopping in Tyler, eat out and enjoyed the little fellow. One time when I got out of my Tahoe SUV to get Rose out of her car seat, I opened the back door and she said, "Hi Gan Paw," as if she had not seen me in several days.

We just do not get to see them enough. I know Mark and Sue have busy lives and all that.

Well it is 2003, and we get to keep the Grand Babies some weekends. It really wears us out, but we enjoy it so. We spend all our time playing with them, when they are here. Just before Nicholas' 2nd birthday he called me po paw. He finally got to saying Grand Paw.

Chapter Twenty Seven

The Church

2001 - 2003

Our home in Hide-A-Way Lake is a gated community. We have deed restrictions and by-laws that govern our community. There is a 12 member board of directors. Every year 4 new members are elected and they, in turn, elect a President, Vice President and appoint committees to govern. A general manager is hired to manage the day to day operations. Our budget is about 4 million dollars a year.

Hide-A-Way Lake Community Church owns property within the bounds of our gated community. Now, this Church is a Texas non-profit corporation, albeit a church, a Business non-the-less.

In our Deed Restrictions and By-laws there cannot be a commercial business operating in Hide-A-Way Lake, Inc., (HAWL).

Our property is located in Unit 24 of the ITT Simms Survey A-1181 Smith County Texas. This property backs-up to the Spillway between the middle and third lake. Hide-A-Way Lake Community Church is on the other side of this Spillway.

Original Deed of Conveyance - Smith County Texas Number 10693, Vol. 1313, Page 582.

New Deed Restrictions Voted and Passed in 1995: Smith County Records: 2007-R00004200.

Hideaway Lake Community Church, with the permission of Hide-A-Way Lake Club, Inc., (HAWL) built a commercial parking lot behind the Wylie’s home. This action was and is against Deed Restrictions. We filed suit against HAWL to cancel the Church parking lot lease. The church demanded to be brought into the suit and we also filed against them.

The first thing to overcome in a lawsuit is, do you have standing to sue. After 5 years we got a ruling from the court in the affirmative. However, the members of HAWL cannot sue the club for violating their own deed restrictions.

See the 114th Judicial District Court of Smith County, Texas. Cause No. 08-2127-B
More Smith County Justice – it took our Judge 5 years to issue a ruling if a member of the Homeowners Association had a legal right to sue or not. She said no. This ruling was overturned in the Texas 12th Court of appeals.
It appears to me that a high school student count have read the Ski Masters case and decided for the Wylie’s.

Citation: Ski Masters, et al.
COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FIRST DISTRICT, HOUSTON
269 S.W.3d 662; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 9829

See the 12th Texas Court of Appeals: 12-12-00290-CV

See the Texas Supreme Court: 14-0085 January 29, 2014.

Click on this web site: http://godslittlehoa.com/

 

Chapter Twenty Eight

Reflections and Comments

I really enjoyed my youth until the farm work got too demanding. My Dad and Mother were always good to me and treated me well. I was not brought up in what is now considered a normal environment. There was too much emphasis on the wild side of life, with little restraints. There was absolutely no direction offered by my parents. I did exactly what I wanted to do, in my youth.

My turning point was joining the Air Force. This was my rite of passage. This is where I grew up. I am very proud to have served my country for 4 years and get an Honorable Discharge at the end. I believe the framers of our Constitution should require a Senator to have served his country in the Military Service before He or She could be elected. Our Military Forces were never the reason we lost a battle, our Politicians were the reason. Korea taught me the stumbling bureaucracy of the Federal Government. In the Air Force, I saw the need for an education and a better way of life. The second thing that helped me along the way was marring a strong woman, Patricia B.

I have chosen electronics as my life's work. This is something that I truly love to do. It is a constant learning process. You can never get to the point where you know it all. There is always a hill to climb. I have always been able to do just about anything anyone else can do. Learning, for me, is hard work, but rewarding above all else.

If there is something in my work that I don't understand, when I come to work the next morning I will understand it. I will have read the book that night.

The concept of learning:

You can learn to do just about anything if you find someone that is a teacher. I do not want to be impressed with how well someone does a task. Impress me with how well you can teach me to do the task. When learning a new task, first, find out all the different words that will be used. Learn their meaning.

Second, what are the parameters that I must work in. As an example. Landing an airplane, you can land fast, you can sometimes land slow, if you are lucky. You can land high and you can land low, if you are lucky. If the first thing I do is learn how to land that airplane in the middle of those parameters, a normal landing, I can always expand on that. If, however, when I first start learning, the instructor keeps bouncing me around from one type of landing to another, it will be very difficult to know what is normal.

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These pearls of information were given to me by my good friend J.P. Bhagat, from India.

As you travel through your business career, you know the difference between right and wrong. Walk up to that line that separates right and wrong. Take two steps back. Make one step back in case your business partner pushes you. The other step is to stop in. In business, if someone wants you to cross over the line and do something wrong, if and when you are caught, your so-called friends will withdraw from you and deny their advice to you. They won't even know you.

Obey the law. If anyone else can be a success in life and obey the law, you can too. A person does not need an anchor around their neck. That is what a criminal record is.

The only other thing about business is that if you don't make a profit, it's a hobby. If you own the business it is an expensive hobby. If it is a corporation, as the president, you are sitting in a spring-loaded seat. If you do not make a profit, the spring goes off and some one else is in the seat.

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It really makes me feel good when someone lets me read a book that they have read and enjoyed.

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I believe in the Scientific Method. If you tell me something, and I can confirm what you told me and get the same result, it is worth careful consideration as being the truth. I suppose my greatest mental struggle is trying to see things clearly, without the mental fog of tradition. The only way, I have found, to pierce the mental fog, is through education, by reading and serious discussion of facts.

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There have been set-backs and hard times, but I have tried not to let them consume me. Each set-back is a learning experience and sometime, an opportunity to open another door.

From my observation point, I have seen people, that after going through a very emotional experience in life will, let their personal life and appearance suffer. This seems to happen more in men than women, as women usually have a support system. In any case, the losers, men or women, get fat, loose their job, neglect their appearance, turn to drugs, (yes alcohol is a drug) and drop out of society. What they are saying to themselves, "I am a looser, don't expect anything out of me, I can't stand the pain of being hurt again." I can assure you that the pain your are inflicting on yourself is worse than anything society has to offer.

When we drop into this world, we compete, we struggle, we survive. As Gen. George S. Patton said, " I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for someone that lost and laughed." Someone once said that they had rather soar one day with the eagles than spend the rest of their lives with the turkeys on the ground.

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If you want to do something important in your life, get a dog. If you are an average person and feed the dog, the dog will like you. If you have any character at all the dog will think you are the greatest person on earth. You will now have the only true friend you will ever know in this life.

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The future:

Technology will someday produce a computer that will become sentient, "self aware."

One should never ask this device to solve a social problem. It might just succeed.

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This Completes My Walk Through Life. In the following pages you will find some of my thoughts on life through poetry and short stories.

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Parole Hearing

REMARKS BY LANTY H. WYLIE JR.

Parole hearing for Linda Cooper, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1997,

Corrections Facility, Cottonport, La.

A person might get caught up in the influence of another through love, companionship or whatever reason. We might be persuaded to walk down an untried path. But assault and attempted murder? We demand there be no excuse, no excuse at all.

At the first sign of criminal activity, if Linda Eugin Cooper had said, "My God this is wrong", and separated herself from her husband, this predatory killer, I would not be here today .

If Linda Eugin Cooper had said, "I will not help this evil man", and have gone to the proper authorities, she would not be here today. But we are here, the family of Lucile Wylie, my Mother. You have heard the details of my Mothers assault, but there were other old defenseless people murdered by this gang of thugs.

According to the local and national news services, this gang that Linda Eugin Cooper belonged to committed similar crimes in several Southern States.

THERE WERE SIMILAR CRIMES IN:

-----Franklin County Mississippi Murder

----- Ponchatoula Louisiana Robbery

----- West Carroll Parish Louisiana Assault & Robbery

----- Noxubee County Mississippi Assault & Robbery

----- Foley Alabama Murder

----- Winston County Robbery

----- State of Georgia Robbery

----- State of Alabama Robbery & Murder

Lawmen have described the 5 members of this Louisiana Gang as a band of roving Gypsies who traveled around the South befriending elderly people before beating and robbing them. According to Court Testimony Linda Eugin Cooper said, "We went out on stealing expeditions". She said, "I was with them at one in Alabama and the man there got killed. I was in the truck and they both went in". That is her husband and father in law.

These crimes against old people were a FAMILY AFFAIR, A family hunting expedition. It is my opinion that Monsters be kept off the street as long as possible. I humbly request that Linda Eugin Cooper be DENIED PAROLE, for the good and safety of our society. Thank you.

REMARKS BY ROBERT GENTRY

(My Cousin)

OF MANY, LOUISIANA.

Parole hearing for Linda Cooper, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1997,

Corrections Facility, Cottonport, La.

I want to tell you about Lucile Wylie, the victim in this senseless crime. She was my aunt. She was born in 1901, making her 86-years-old at the time of the crime. Her mother died when she was only six-years-old. From that point on, not only did she have to take care of her own needs, but that of her father and her two younger brothers--one of which was my Daddy.

The times were hard and lean, but she followed her Daddy all over the South as he moved from job to job in the sawmill business. And she did a great job of keeping the family together. It was a hard task--but she persevered and was successful under very trying conditions.

As she grew into adulthood, she married and raised a family. She not only raised her children, but she also had stepchildren, which she gladly helped. She was always a poor person by financial standards, but she was rich in human kindness--she was rich in Christianity--she was rich in helping her neighbors and being a good friend. She was rich in laughter and enjoyed life. She was rich in all the things that are important in life.

After her second husband died and all the children left home--she was alone. But she enjoyed life to the fullest. She was always in good health. She enjoyed visiting her son, L.H., and daughter, Mary Lee, both who lived in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area at the time. She enjoyed visiting all her relatives and she visited our family many times, although we were 200 miles away. You could say "Go" and it seemed immediately she was standing there with her suitcase. She was enjoying her golden years to the fullest.

There came that dreadful day--January 25, 1988. What happened to this dear, sweet, kind lady that day should never happen to a dog. My aunt was about five feet tall or so and weighed no more than 100 pounds. Probably the most hurt she ever inflicted in her life was to wring a chicken's neck to feed the family or kill a fly with a fly swatter. She was such a kind and caring person.

When Linda Cooper and her husband, Willie, came to my aunt's trailer that day, she would have probably given them whatever of her meager possessions they desired, if they had only asked. She was that kind of person.

But, these two members of a roving band of self-proclaimed gypsies were not satisfied just taking her meager possessions. They had to do more. They had to beat her within a breath of her life. For all practical purposes, Lucile Wylie's life as she had enjoyed it ended that day. Although she lived on for some months, she was never more the same--either mentally or physically. They--Linda and Willie Cooper--took her life. On that dreadful day in 1988, this 86-year-old lady was severely beaten and left for dead. It was all so useless--all so needless. She was choked. She was kicked. She was beaten.

Linda Cooper was a willing participant in this violent crime. We don't know whether she went in the trailer and participated in the beating--but if she didn't, she stayed outside and served as a lookout. She knew what her husband was there for-she knew what she was there for. Linda Cooper shared in the spoils when her husband and those other bits of scum of society took advantage of old folks. Yes, I said old folks--senior citizens. They were real brave souls--they only chose old folks--folks who normally could not defend themselves--as their victims. That's what they preyed on--old folks. When she was arrested, Linda Cooper was wearing Lucile Wylie's Mothers' Ring. Linda Cooper was a willing participant in this crime.

Apparently Linda Cooper's only occupation has been as a participant in robbing, beating, murdering and brutalizing old folks. This is the only kind of life she has known. If she is released form prison, she likely will join another band of gypsies and be back doing the same thing again within a short period of time. Society has enough problems without putting another one back on the street in the form of Linda Cooper. It is by belief that Linda Cooper is not worthy of ever being free again. I respectfully ask that you deny her request for parole today.

Thank-you.

Note: Several of us went to this hearing and after Robert's eloquent presentation, Linda Cooper was ordered to spend the rest of her sentence in prison.

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This was my first trip to a Board Certified Skin Doctor. My problems were small compared to the multitude of teen agers searching for an Acne cure.

The Final Frontier

A Short Story

Americans spend millions of dollars each year for that perfect thrill. The fad chasers, the sexual experimenters and the drug trade attest to this. There is one area of sheer pleasure that has been sadly neglected. I wish to pay tribute and give equal time to the Final Thrill.

Back from the jungles, the anthropologist found that our monkey cousins spend a great deal of time grooming each other. They will catch fleas, ticks, pick scabs and other such from each other as part of their social interaction. Mankind has not lost this grooming urge, even though it has lain dormant for centuries.

One day our near ancestor was grooming her mate, or whatever, she noticed a blackhead. She, being the kind soul of that day, decided to relieve him of this problem.

The squeezeness of the moment overcame her as the triumphant plop of the blackhead lay gently exposed to light. She wiped the drool from her mouth as her eyes searched for more and more little enjoyments. To hell with pot and other such, let acne prevail.

As humankind became more developed, this calling, from our past, became more of an obsession. The squeezer finds equal satisfaction extracting from himself/herself as well as others. If a squeezer observes a blackhead on a stranger, they become fixated. When the nervous jitters start, the urge to fasten a quick squeeze on a large one becomes almost irresistible.

The enlightened ones have trophy mirrors in their intersanctum. Alone, they watch a blackhead grow and develop to maturity. Then in the last possible moment, a quick squeeze and a thrilling plop. On the mirror there are impact locations and dates of blackheads that have reached the trophy stage, on display, for all to see.

The free enterprise system has responded to the challenge. Several manufactures have brought different versions of extractors to the market. The most noble innovation has been announced by the American Medical Association, The K/H Procedure. The K/H procedure means, Knot in Hole.

This procedure is performed under local anesthetic, where a small nylon string, about fourteen inches long, is implanted into a developing blackhead. The recovery time is about three days. The only visible sign is a small string hanging from a pore.

A K/H encounter group is arranged as a party. All present can be identified by the small, almost invisible, string peeking through a pore. Sometime the string is hidden by clothing.

Drinks and conversation flow freely as the magic hour nears. All watch as the second hand approaches, a signal is given. The strings are pulled out, one knot at a time, as they scream and writhe on the floor in ecstasy.

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Thyroid

Remove Left Thyroid

I arrived at the hospital at 8:00 AM Monday, July 6, 1998. My paper work and blood test were done the week before. Pat, my wife, and I were seated in a booth where a needle was inserted and taped to my right arm. The IV was dripping. My blood pressure and temperature were recorded. We sat watching the hospital employees move in and out, always with little important things, like needles with hoses attached, pills, bandages and such, clutched in their hand. I waited for my turn.

In about two hours I was transferred to a gurney and rolled into the pre-op waiting room. The surgeon and sleep peddler came by and said I would be OK. For the 1000th time I told them my teeth wouldn't come out and I was not, to my best ability, I was not allergic to any medicine. Waiting on surgery is stressful, so as my blood pressure started to climb; I started to pee frequently. At about 11:30 AM, I received a happy shot and at 12:00 I said good by to Pat and was rolled into the operating room. I lay there in a narcotic bliss watching every one float around in the impersonal swath of hospital garb. The sleep guy told me to uncross my legs at the ankle.

I woke up in the surgery recovery room, where some one was trying to put an oxygen mask over my face. He sat with me about an hour and talked endlessly about Satellite TV. Then I was rolled into my room, where Pat was waiting for me. It was about 3:30 PM. Pat stayed about an hour and half then I got up and found the nurses coffee pot and had a cup of good hot coffee. The nurse's coffeepot was behind a closed door, authorized personnel only. However, I could go around the back way and there was an open door to the coffee, without the cursed, "Authorized Personnel Only", sign. I walked around some and went to bed. I had not experienced any pain, just a little discomfort from the bandage on my neck. Anyway, I realized I could not pass water and was feeling some discomfort. The IV was still dripping; I could feel the water building up. Fighting panic, I punched the button and told them I wanted a catheter, SOONER RATHER THAN LATER, MORE RATHER THAN LESS. This was a blessing.

The urologist came by with the usual examination and pills. I was glad to see him though. If there is one thing I have learned in life it is, a urologist can have a rubber glove on his hand quicker than you can blink your eye.

I punched the button for a happy shot and went into the twilight zone. I did not sleep well, just floated between sleep and dreams.

The next day, by 10:00 AM, I could feel all the water parts beginning to relax so I got them to remove the Foley Catheter. I still had a little trouble, but was passing, producing LESS RATHER THAN MORE, SLOW RATHER THAN FAST.

At about 10:30 I got up, shaved, sponge bath, more coffee and talked to the Doctor. I was to spend another day. My desire was to trade my happy shots for a sleeping pill that night. The Doctor agreed. Pat came by and we talked and watched TV then she went home. My kids called several times while I was confined, and it was good to talk to them.

About 9 PM the nurse brought me a sleeping pill, or something, and I slept through the 4-hour blood pressure and temperature checks during the night.

The morning of the third day, I got the IV needle removed from my arm. Now, I put on my own pajamas and bathrobe after shaving and cleaning up. It's good to have on your own clothes. I felt good, I was ready to go.

The Surgeons nurse, a pretty thing with an projection of confidence that set me at ease, dressed my incision, gave me detailed instructions then set me free.

Pat came and got me and I went home to my dogs. As I sat in the tub, that night with the steady throb of the water pump bathing my bones with hot water, both dogs put their front legs on the tub and licked my face. It's good to have two good dogs.

I was hungry and Pat had a bunch of stuff cooked up, I pigged out. I am doing very well with only one thyroid and taking a pill each day. I don't seem as tired as I did before. Every thing they removed was B9. That is Decimal 185. That's it, (This is my last dissertation on operations and things like that.) Lanty Wylie

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To Join

I asked David, "If you were going to join a religion, which one would it be?" He told me that he would join the one that offered the most benefits with the least amount of effort on his part.

What is the flip side? Would it be to join a religion that offers the least benefits for the most effort. A middle of the road approach perhaps? A medium amount of benefits for a medium amount of effort would be good. I know of no sin in looking for the best place to lay my guilt. Well, at the moment I have no guilt or plans along those lines, but I am looking.

"Consumer Reports", should have a yearly addition and list the different religions, their requirements and benefits. We could set down and make a logical choice. Every once in a while, as we near the year 2000, there would be a supplement on Cults. Some of the Cults offer slim benefits, but sometime the requirement is suicide as a maximum effort.

My personal pick would be a Science or Technical Religion. I could really get caught up in that. Hell would be a lack of Electrical Current Flow. Heaven would be a Current Flow with an efficiency of one. The true believers would have so much current flow they would have developed a residual magnet field. When they died their soul would align to the North Pole.

One more Scotch and then to bed. Lanty Wylie

Marthaville

On September 19, 1998, Pat, my wife, and I loaded up the truck, put our lovely dog Natalie in the Vet and headed out to Rebel Park in Marthaville, Louisiana. I had spent most of my young life raising cotton in North Louisiana and had kin in Many, Louisiana, not far from Marthaville. The drive South, South East through Texas and middle Louisiana was very nice, the lonesome pines and deserted country roads are very enjoyable.

We arrived in Many about 2:15 P.M. at my Cousin Robert's Museum, next door to his pawnshop and newspaper. Robert gave us a tour of the Museum and then he was off to Rebel Park as he was the Producer and Director of this years 99th Birthday Party for past Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis. Later Pat and I followed some more cousins out to Rebel Park.

This was my first time to go in the Park. Robert had sent us a Parking Pass, so as the guards yelled VIP coming through, we parked close in to the stage area. This was nice. Robert Gentry, my cousin, was raised in these piney woods during much of the difficult "hard times" this nation came through in the late 1930's. Robert went to College and eventually acquired the newspaper in Many. I could not due justice to describing what a fine human being Robert Gentry is. Helping other people seems to be his second nature.

The Master of Ceremonies was the former producer of the Old Louisiana Hayride on KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was in Radio Operations in the US Airforce in the 1950's. Lots of lonely nights, while on duty on a South Pacific Island, I would tune the broadcast band in hopes of hearing something familiar, a song or voice from the Untied States. Very often, when the conditions were just right, I could hear, through the static, KWKH in Shreveport from half way around the world.. I thought about this and that familiar voice.

A gospel quartet led the singing. They were good and the audience really got into the festive mood. Every one really enjoyed the music. At last the Star, Jimmie Davis, got out of his tour bus and came on the stage. His band, yes he has a band, had prepared a seat for him in front of a microphone. This man is 99 years old. This man sung for an hour and a half those good old songs he wrote 60 years ago. "Green Green Grass of Home", "You are my Sunshine", "Nobody's Darling but Mine", and other good songs. A dozen or more moved down on the grass and made themselves comfortable in front of the stage. They had come to hear Jimmie Davis sing, it was great..

Jimmie Davis was a schoolteacher, then got a Masters Degree in History. He entered Politics and became Governor of Louisiana. He remains the most educated Governor Louisiana, at that time.

After the singing and messages from all the living presidents were read, (I noticed the most applause was for Ronald Regan's letter), three ex-governors. One of those ex-governors was Edwin Edwards. The only governor of Louisiana for 4 terms. He made several jokes about the FBI being after him, etc. What really struck me is the fact that just about everyone there shook hands and had their picture taken with him. Robert introduced me and I shook his hand. He never quits working the crowds. People bring their children up for him to pat on the head. (A blessing, perhaps?) In this realization, if the Government tries to punish him in Louisiana, they are peeing in the wind. It will never happen. It is good to see real politics at work, after all these years of being away from Louisiana. There were people with real money there and they acted the same way to Ex-GOV Edwards. It is just one big political happy family.

Time to leave, I consulted our map for our escape route. (I should have known better, you ask someone.) and off we went into the night. Nice black top road, cool night, up over a hill and BAM we are on a dirt road. I mean a real, real small dirt road. We turn around and go the other way, finally find a road to the Interstate and head North to Shreveport.

It is late and we decide to unload at the first motel. Well in Shreveport ALL motel rooms are already taken on the weekends. The Motel lady asked me which way we were heading, East or West, I said, "West". She told us we might find something in Tyler. I told her hell lady, I live in the Tyler area, she just grinned.

We got on I20 and stopped at Exit 5, Kelly's Truck Stop, aspirin, coffee and supper brought us to life again. We still had a mindset to stay one night out, so we stopped in Marshall, Texas and spent the night. It was 1:30 PM.

We had a real good time, miss my Dog Natalie Baby, but I will get her the first thing Monday morning.

Note: The government finally got a conviction on Edwin Edwards. He is in the Federal Pen as I write this entry in 2006.

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Tears

Copyright © 1991-2017

by Lanty H. Wylie, Jr. All Rights Reserved

(These thoughts for Laurie.)

I kept the small leather thing,

with the metal tags,

this proclaimed my good dog.

One night, years ago, it is hard to tie down,

that day as it floats in the mist of my thoughts.

The Vet handed me that leather thing,

It was still warm.

My life times are best counted by all the good dogs I've had.

They were all good dogs.

Years have passed and my life moves on;

As I cleaned out my stuff, accumulated through the years.

I found that leather thing, with the metal tags.

I held it up to my face,

It was still warm.

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The Septic Tank

Our new (new to us) house at Hide-A-Way Lake has a Septic Tank sewage system. All our sewage goes in 2 underground concrete tanks. In the first tank, solids settle down to the bottom where bacterial action takes care of it. The second tank is an aerobic system, that is to say, the bacteria are oxygen loving, or grow well in an oxygen rich environment. It has an air pump to enhance this aerobic function, much like a fish tank oxygen pump. The cleansed wastewater goes out through lateral lines buried deep underground. All this is hidden from us, except for a 16-inch concrete cover about 5 inches high in our back yard. I have a wood wishing well over this. The air pump makes very little noise and it runs at night. There is never any odor of any sort.

This is an Ideal System for the anal-retentive. You may have to eventually drop it in the commode, but Not To Worry, you can save it in the Septic Tank in the back yard.

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WEATHERFORD TEXAS

Rambling

Summer of 1998

The sun shines 2 minutes less each day now. That is one hour less each month that hot Texas sun will shine on us.

Some where North of Canada, this accumulation of cold will spill forth on us as the days continue to shorten. When I feel that first North wind, that chill we thought in this Summer of 1998 would never come, I will go to Weatherford, Texas.

This is one place the old west left its memories, a foot print from time past. Those hardy souls from Lonesome Dove and a Medal of Honor Winner from The War Between The States, are there, in Weatherford, Texas. I want to stand there among those granite sentinels and think of these men that accomplished so much, in so short a life. Yes, when the cold wind blows, I will go to Weatherford, Texas.

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RUNNING WITH A SONG

I was in Korea, "Land of the Morning Calm". It was muddy, cold, nasty and cold some more, with shots being fired. Off to work, on whatever shift of the day and night you happen to be on, with all the clothes you could get on, a weapon and mess kit. There was always a place to stack you weapon and a nail somewhere close by to hang your mess kit.

I thought everyone in the world liked Hillbilly music until I heard classical melodies coming from the mailroom. Martin Bomser ran the mailroom. The Air Force made him carry a 45 Cal. Pistol. To my knowledge, he never loaded it, cleaned it or took it out of the holster. Sometime Martin would join us when we all went to the Airman's Club for beer. (Only the officers got whiskey.) Some of us began to ask about those dreadful classical sounds of music coming from the mailroom. The thing that stuck in my mind was Matrin's reply, that if we understood classical music, then we would like it. I pondered this and later through many conversations, I began to understand, somewhat, the simple to complex sounds and melodies. The thought that followed was, what condition of mind did I have to be in to appreciate the different kinds of music?

It was obvious that to me, hearing a song of melody for the first time brought only a learning experience. If I was to like this piece of music, I had to submit my mind to a specific mind frame and hear the music several times. That was what peaked my interest, the mind frame. It seemed that as a favorite piece of music started to play, I would develop this mind frame, this process of thought that would exactly match the music as it went along. Actually I was starting my own recording, in my mind, that I had developed when I accepted this piece of music as enjoyable. So then I would play my version, in my mind, and listen to the audio version and as they exactly matched, it was pleasurable to me. Actually I was accepting the premise and thought train of the music as the musical story played out, accepting it as my own emotion and thought. This was good for harmless pleasurable music, but what about the destructive emotional music that we are subjected to every day?

When we listen to the emotional drama of broken lives depicted by some hillbilly and rap songs, do we really want to emulate these actions? What, I think, happens is that we condition our minds to consider these actions as normal human behavior. Music has been with us for time immemorial and is constantly changing to reflect our moral and societal thinking. It was interesting for me to delve into my own thoughts on this subject. It is up to each of us to realize this external stimulation can be rewarding or destructive, to further realize that it is not real, in a sense that we are voyeurs into the song writers imagination.

Do we wonder why we are so up tight, when we constantly stimulate our mind with high emotional kinds of music, as we are hypnotizing ourselves in this culture. Do we really want our lives to play out, using this type of high emotional music as a pattern? It is something to consider, another choice you must make, or be carried along with the crowd.

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Puddler Bill Lives Here

At night when I unload the dishwasher and close up the house, Puddler Bill settles in between my chair and the end table. From this position, with head alert, he can observe every move I make.

It is cold outside, so I get my heavy robe and go the front door. I know those two anxious eyes are on me. I ask if he wants to go outside. He breaks and runs for the door. As I reach to pick him up, I always say, "want lift?," he stiffens his body, I pick him up then place him against my chest, bringing the folds of my robe around him. My ten-pound dog is secure. All you can see is his head sticking out just below my chin.

We go out in the cold. Sometime a cold shutter goes through Puddler Bill. I hold him closer. With my hand holding my robe next to his chest, I can feel the beat, beat of his little heart.

Out past the cars, we check for cats around the garbage cans. In the dark his head moves to the slightest noise. I feel him breathe quickly in puffs to scent the cold north wind with that little wet black nose. We stop, I lean my back on the car and enjoy the cold night. No matter how cold, that little warm body is like a heating pad against my chest. After a while, we start back up the walk. Now he wants to get down on the grass and mark his yard. Now others will know, Puddler Bill lives here.

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Forgive

With pen in hand I dread to start,

to write or rhyme a story plot,

that I would write what others said,

makes me mad and very sad.

So, if you stumble through my prose,

by some mistake or just dumb luck,

another's thoughts might have arose,

Please forgive me if I claim,

your thoughts as mine, T's not the same.

If it's your thoughts I write today,

give thanks that I remembered,

yes, cross out my name and enter thine,

the world is right, the sun still shines.

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Groups

The best definition of Management I found was in the United States Air Force literature. getting people to do what you want them to do, because they want to do it." The study of people joining groups and why, is what I will describe, some voluntary and some involuntary.

Why do people join groups? I joined the Air Force to stay out of the Army Draft. So I joined a group; I gave up something in hope of gaining a greater benefit by belonging to the group, the Air Force. I did not get drafted in the Army because I saw by joining the Army I would be giving up too much for too little gain, in my opinion.

One of the first examples of joining a group and then having to give up something, for a hope of a greater good, is in the bible: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

So the two things of organization building is in these passages.

1. What do I give up? I have to consent to the yoke upon me. We know that this refers to a yoke an ox uses to pull objects. So if there is any doubt about joining this organization and it's requirements, just look at the ox. Then to soften the yoke, "my burden is light', still a yoke nonetheless.

2. What do I gain? The sales point, the gain is, "ye shall find rest unto your souls". If the gain is important to you, then joining this organization might be appealing.

So the recruiting plan is laid out, give up something to join the group, gain something by belonging to the group. There is only one exception of people joining a group, not giving up something, not gaining something. The exception is the graveyard. People gathered together in the graveyard have really no rational purpose, and no apparent gain.

Even when people do charity work, with no apparent gain, there is gain. It is called self-actualization, an improving of self worth, feeling good about yourself.

So when you make friends, work, belong to groups, get married, get arrested or any other interaction humans have, these two things never change. Give up something, gain something.

Yes, even when you get arrested by the police, you give up your freedom instead of getting beat up, chased down, or shot. Give up something, gain something.

Committing to a Group and the Gain or result of that could be a difficult choice. A Manager must present a clear case of what is expected in the Group and the reward involved. Give up something, gain something. It is a way of life.

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TELL ME A WAR STORY GRANDPA
In memory of Lewis Lancelot Johnson my Great Grandpa
Died April 1862 at Shiloh


We dug in just before daylight,

I could hear them Yanks cooking and moving around.

I would have felt better if old Sam was with me, he took sick.

Daylight came too fast, our sergeant was by with the ammo detail.

I could smell that Yankee coffee.

Up and down the line it got quiet,

we waited.

Small arms fire off to the right, then the earth shook.

Just a little low place for me behind a sweetgum tree, load and fire, load and fire.

The soft pop and whine of death became the rhythm of my soul.

The old man grabbed me with a frantic moment,

"I was there", his voice trailed off to a sob, "I was there".

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Remembering Ruben

My daughter's little poodle puppy, Jo-Jo, was killed by a car.

At that time, Jo-Jo was accompanied by his companion Ruben, a Beagle mix.

Laurie, my daughter, found Ruben on the street, he was a throwaway dog.

Remembering is the "bad day", the day Jo-Jo was killed, through Rubens eyes

Remembering

I don't remember much about being dumped on the street.

Jo-Jo told me about that later.

I remember my master, with the long blond hair.

I missed being taken from my Mother's milk and her warm body.

The old farm road was cold and I was shaking.

I try not to think about it.

There I found my master.

When I got to my new home, I met Jo-Jo.

He took me under his care and taught me everything I know.

We ran so free, in the tall grass, in the warm mud.

Time passed quickly, we explored everything.

The world was ours.

Sometime we would sleep on our master's bed.

The bad day came, the car was too fast, things I don't understand.

As I lay and chew my raw-hide, I think of you Jo-Jo,

I look at my master, she is remembering you too.

Ruben. Epilogue....

Ruben moved to San Diego and enjoyed the good life. One afternoon when his master came home, Ruben was dead. He passed away in his sleep from a massive heart attack. I remember you Ruben....

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The Coke Bottle

A View of Ruby Ridge Through a Coke Bottle

One fine day, two businessmen were setting in Dennys talking over the days events. Coffee was consumed in great gulps as pressing events were discussed and plans made, as in the course of business. Over in the corner a very young lad was crying and demanding attention from parents that were immune to these outbursts. One of the men said, "Give that kid a bottle, that will silence him." Within ear shot of this statement sat 2 Agents from Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, also discussing the days events. The word silence was noted with great alarm when associated with bottle.

When the businessmen left Dennys, a note was made of their license number by ATF and quickly called in for the name of the vehicle owner and address. Not only could the agents charge off the time at Dennys to investigative work, but there might be a firearms violation here. Silencers are prohibited by Federal Law. After testing, it was determined that a plastic coke bottle placed over the muzzle of a gun will muffle the sound when fired.

The next week an official ATF informant paid a visit to the businessman at his home. The informant rang the doorbell and asked if he could buy a silencer from him. The business man said, "Hell no, I don't know what you are talking about." The informant said, "You know, a silencer from a plastic coke bottle." When the door slammed in his face, the informant left to report to his supervisor. The informant was getting paid in tax money by the hour. He reported to his supervisor that he had seen coke bottles through the open door and knew that he could wear the man down into selling him a coke bottle silencer.

After two years (ATF informants get paid by the hour) of having ATF informants appear at all hours of the day and night trying to purchase a coke bottle silencer the man finally reached the end of his patience.

One Sunday morning, the man grabbed an empty coke bottle and threw it at the informant with the admonition, "Take this and stick it up your ass."

The informant knew he had struck real pay dirt. He had a coke bottle silencer. His supervisor was elated, all these long hours of surveillance with phone taps and observation had paid off. It was obvious this was a Major Arms Supplier as empty coke bottles were seen on the premises. A warrant was issued for the man.

In Washington, the Attorney General was elated. Maybe a Major Arms Bust of this magnitude would get all the assault rifles off the street and Willie elected again, "Proceed".

By this time, Washington realized this was TOO BIG for ATF, the FBI was called in. This was a job for Hostage Rescue. The best snipers in the world; they can pop a quarter at 300 yards.

Late one afternoon the businessman's son, a young lad of fifteen years, about 80 pounds, was playing with his dog in the yard. The dogs ears perked up and he ran for this man that jumped out from behind a tree in their yard. As the dog approached, a well placed 9-mm. bullet took the top off of the dogs head. The boy seeing what happened turned to run to his dad standing in the doorway, with the coke bottle still in his hand. Another shot and as the 9-mm. slug passed through the boy's back, it nearly took off his arm. He slumped down in death, reaching for the door of his home and safety, eyes set in death, they seem to focus to that far off place we all must view. The man raced to his son's side as another shot rang out, making a small blue fringed hole in the mans shoulder, but passing on through. The mans wife standing in the door holding a baby took a 308 cal. bullet and died there.

The operation was a great success. All the plastic coke bottles were placed in a great pile as the press fawned and fawned and fawned. In "The buck stops here place"

Washington, the Attorney General was elated, another major arms supplier has been taken off the street, "We must do something to stop the flow of Assault Weapons in this country and re-elect Willie."

As 400 law enforcement agents departed the empty house, it was obvious this was just a drill, a practice run. There is this religious group in Waco, actually they are different. ATF informants have already been sent.

Note: At this time Richard Jewell was probably unaware that his life would be the center of another purge by our government. Search Richard Jewell on Google.

Another government atrocity is the Donald Scott case October 1992. Search Donald Scott on Google.

Another government atrocity is the Bob Hoover vendetta by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Several employees of the FAA, according to reports, were out to get Bob Hoover. Reference search on Google, Clint Boehler, James Kelln and Glen J. Nelson. The only employee to take the witness stand in support of Hoover was Norb Nester - Nester has been fired by the FAA.

Another government atrocity is U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, sentenced Jose Alonso Compean to 12 years in prison and Ignacio Ramos to 11 years and one day. Law enforcement officers doing their jobs. Search names on Google.

It never seems to end – Search Google for Senator Ted Stevens.
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska – Born November 18, 1923 Died August 8, 2010.
Stevens was hounded from the Senate by Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct by the United States Justice Department.
His indictment and conviction was thrown out by the presiding Federal Judge.

2012 – Case Against Hutaree Milita Thrown Out: U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said the members’ expressed hatred of law enforcement didn’t amount to a conspiracy to rebel against the government. The FBI had secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia starting in 2008 to collect hours of anti-government audio and video that became the cornerstone of the case. Google this for a complete record.

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Puppies All

Over the years, we (I use "we" as the collective humankind.) have bred and conditioned dogs to the point where they no longer mature to full adult dogs, but remain in the PUPPY state through out their life.

Our K9 friends were only copying the behavior of their human teachers. Humans are bred and conditioned to remain in that childlike state through out their life. It seems grown humans still seek to be children as they play the games and worship at the feet of the Sports Industry. We, it seems, have never reached the Adult stage by putting away those childish games of our youth and moving on to the responsibilities of an adult society.

Our government adds to this conditioning by refusing to let people be responsible for their own actions. The government wants its citizens to be dependent on it from the cradle to the grave, never developing those adult skills of personal responsibility and self-determination. WE ARE PUPPIES ALL.

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My Problem

My best guess would put me at 19 years old before I realized that I didn't have a backbone. I had heard people talk about this condition, but I never thought it applied to me as well. I really never missed it.

I was working on a construction job in South Louisiana when my mother sent me a draft notice. I did not want to go into the Army, so I enlisted in the Air Force. You really don't need a backbone, as such, in the Air Force. However, I became aware of something missing during my participation in the Korean War.

The first night I spent in a fox hold hearing bombs go off, I knew then and there I must find my backbone. You can't tell your friends, "Hey, I don't have a backbone. Would you help me find it?" It seems that once you know it's gone, you really miss it. Getting it back is a mental conditioning, learn-as-you-go, do-it-yourself type thing.

I wanted to quit smoking - right, no backbone, couldn't quit. I wanted to study Radio Technology on my own, same thing, no backbone. I called on the spirits, distilled and divine, no help there.

As I struggled with this problem during my year in Korea, I noticed a definite sniffing of my spine. Hardly perceptible to anyone but me At last a start. It seems that defining problem was the start to solving my problem.

At last the revelation came to me as I neared 60 years of age. Having a backbone s not a permanent installation. It's something that requires constant attention. Your backbone builds on every success or can be taken away on every failure of your will to do something, when you do nothing. As all other things in life, it is strictly up to you.

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Last Night

Last night I felt two little paws on the side of my bed.

It was such a dark lonely night and she is such a little dog.

Someone wanted to share this night with me.

I picked her up, she found a good place to dig up the blanket a bit, circle twice and settle in.

I pulled the covers up and was drifting to dreamland

when I felt my little girl dog snuggle up to my back.

It was such a dark and lonely night and she is such a little dog.

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The Pack

When I arrived in Arkansas for our sales meeting, I called Pat, my wife. She wanted me to call when I arrived. She was concerned about the long drive and that I was alone. She told me that my girl dog, Natalie, was waiting for me by the door. Natalie would wait for me every night that I was gone. Pat told me that it would be past midnight before Natalie would come to bed.

So on this trip, I had Pat concerned about me and Natalie concerned about me. What was this common thread, if there was one? With Pat, I have years of close attachments, experiences and a bond of that very human emotion called love.

Natalie, my very devoted dog, presented a problem. Any assumptions I made would receive no input from Natalie or verification by Natalie, the only one who would know.

So, I must use what I do know to make a leap, ( A Step?) toward this event.

Sex, food and status in the pack is a dogs hierarchy of well being, (Regards to Maslov). Dogs constantly know their status in the pack. In this case, Natalie knows that Niki, our male dog, is the lead dog. She would also know that my attention to her, defined by my position, gives her a certain status in our family pack.

Now then, if I departed and never came back, Natalie would have to reorganize her life as to food provider and attention giver. Her life (Status) would suffer a major unknown change. She waits for my return, to reestablish the status quo and she is happy in that role. As for me, I have no idea.

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Omphalism

After wandering the land for many years, I saw a country not focused on the future and its problems. Instead, its leaders were too busy contemplating their navel. With this fixation no one was aware, no one could even tell you which way the wind was blowing. The pleadings of the people were lost. I must be off, my journey, my truth. A narrow path led me to the foothills of a great mountain range. I could see in the distance a darkness. The top of this great mountain was in a dark cloud and rain. A cold wind whispered questions in my ear for the night to ponder. As I walked into this darkness, I saw a thin streamer of smoke rising through the trees. I approached the village I knew, without words, that few were welcomed, none without knowledge.

I slept, with fits and starts, by the common fire. It seemed most of the villagers passed by for a look during the night. In the morning I talked with the old ones and learned of a cave. There was a cave of wisdom in the higher reaches. Few that trod its path returned of sound mind. I must go.

I left the village on an upward path. My resolve and confidence increased. My soul, my soul, what will tomorrow bring.

The rugged climb and clean air took hold of me and renewed my strength. On the evening of the third day, I entered the Cave of Wisdom. Inside the cave, my path was not well defined, but strewn with difficulties and many diversions. I had to climb over a pile of old discarded television sets and un-read books, there was no path around.

I entered a room lit through a small hole in the west wall. A bathroom mirror hung in the center of the room. I approached the mirror and saw myself. Mirror, I asked, is it the function of government to constantly erode the constitution, our basic freedoms? The mirror answered, "Yes, it always has been." What happens then?

The mirror answered, "We are at a point where, it is obvious, that the government does not trust its citizens. The source of its power and wealth. It has always been this way to some extent. The government constantly erodes the basic freedom and rights of the citizens, FOR THEIR OWN GOOD, until the citizens overthrow the oppressors. Of course, the government knew this would happen someday and they are afraid."

What started this thing, this slide into chaos?

The mirror grew dark as the light faded, but in a steady voice said, "Every special interest group, over the years, has petitioned the government for its cause. Most of the time those causes have been written into law. (1) These special interest laws weaken the organization pressing for the law as the special interest groups loose their cause, their reason for an existence. (2) The special interest or accommodation laws are enacted on the backs of all the rest of us. We as a group have to fund, support and obey these junk laws." One last question, "What is the future."

The Mirror answered, "My son, everyone, every undertaking, even you, will have a beginning a middle and an end, governments included."

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The Question

Does religion bring happiness and promote well being?

(David) The educated elite in both the Greek and the Roman times did not believe in religion, or were only mild deist. Of course, the elite on our own Western civilization has not believed in religion for about 300 years.

(Mark) My assertion is that all societies throughout history have had an underling mythology. This implies that the majority of the population must believe the prevailing myths. The task of the educated elite is to discredit the mythos. By discrediting the mythos they define themselves as the educated elite. Ancient Greece is defined by its myths.

(David) As Marx said, religion is mostly the belief of the uneducated (that seems to be being changed today, since most education today is technical or legal, which is not really education in the traditional sense).

(Mark) Marxist theory caused some of the greatest fiascos in human history! The old USSR still has not recovered from its Marxist collapse. Marx failed to grasp the importance of the mythos. That's why all Marx's societies have failed are in the process of failing. One on the great minds of the 20th century (Einstein) believed in God.

(David) There can be no doubt that religion has killed many societies. Sociology has evidence that religion increases when social pressures increase, that it's a type of adaptive behavior for men living in harsher, closer, poorer environments.

(Mark) All societies will eventually die. It is lack of a common mythos that speeds up the process. One of the defining factors of a society in decline is a lack of morals. Some examples: Greek, Rome, and look what's happening to our society without a common mythos. Name me a society (just one) that had too much religion and died.

(David) Religion, when it works like it evidently is supposed to, probably make a society more stable, because by burning people at the stake, etc., it provides a common enemy to hate and kill.

(Mark) True, a common mythos.

(David) Certainly the goal of Christianity is not (earthly) happiness, so I doubt that you could say it makes people happier. It does reduce fear and stress and provides the satisfaction of an evil force. Rulers love it, of course (as do priests).

(Mark) The polls I have read show religious people are happier.

(David) I explained Pascal's wager (and refutation) to you years ago. One final point: All societies before ours knew nothing about the world (in a scientific sense). Shall we conclude that lack of scientific knowledge is "necessary for humans to cope or exist in this world?" Note: Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662) Pascal's reasoning was that since nothing was known exactly, the Christian faith was a good as any other. The gain from such a belief was much greater than the loss for not believing. This is known as Pascal's Wager. (Note: However, Pascal's logic was defective in that he considered only two possibilities, when there are four. Another flaw in Pascal's reasoning it the possibility of choosing the correct religion. This is the number of all known religions divided into one.)

(Mark) Belief in the mythos is outside the bounds of "scientific knowledge." Einstein had one of the greatest scientific minds in the 20th century, yet he believed in God. Note: Einstein said he did not believe in any God.

(David) Just because all societies in the past have believed in superstitions, falsehoods, and religion does not mean that it is necessary, justifiable, or will always be the case.

(Mark) The fact that every society has had myths is very strong evidence that it is necessary part of human culture. What else would hold a society together? I am not trying to justify or predicate anything.

(David) All progress has been the result of replacing false beliefs with testable truths. Shall we defend slavery because all societies until about 100 years ago accepted it?

(Mark) Not all societies have had slaves. Slavery came about in a time when cheap physical labor was needed to accumulate wealth. The industrial revolution decreased the need for labor and slavery disappeared. Myths survived these changes because it is an emotional need. You are comparing apples to oranges.

(David) -- Or that disease was caused by evil spirits or vapors? Religion is born out of man's dreams, nightmares, and ignorance. It has probably caused more deaths and misfortune than any other idea invented by mankind. Only when this kind of magical thinking is dead can man think rationally and freely.

(Mark) It is true myths have caused a lot of death and destruction. Science has provided the weapons to increase the body count. Again, I am not trying to justify myths. I am stating what is.

(David) Newton also believed in god. Does that make it true? No, of course not. Actually, it's not really clear that Einstein believed in any kind of god that would be accepted as such by most religion-believers. Certainly not any type of personal god, nor any creator. (Many people have discussed his famous statement about god not playing dice and argued that his point was not that there is a god, but that the universe does not have a built-in uncertainty.) Note: WERNER HEISENBERG (1901 - 1976) When Heisenberg announced his uncertainty principle, Einstein exclaimed, "God does not play dice with the universe." As for the uncertainty principle, Einstein was wrong.

(Mark) The point I was making was that there are very intelligent people who believe in myths. Because myths are an emotional need.

(David) I won't defend Marx's political or economic theories, nor did I cite them. But his observation that religion is the opiate of the masses is certainly true, and is a scientifically testable assertion.

(Mark) How can you scientifically test that a belief (myth) will have the same effects on your body as a narcotic? Why don't drug addicts read the bible instead of shooting up? Bibles are a lot cheaper (sometimes free) than opiates.

(David) That people who believe in fantasies, state in a poll, that they are happier is no proof that they are. Psychologists since Maslov have demonstrated in more reliable ways that religious people have more fears, strive to live more sheltered lives, have more difficulty dealing with change, and produce unhappy children than free-thinkers. As your Father has pointed out many times, people who are afraid of flying are almost always very religious. Some comparative anthropologists have suggested that the societies with the least religion are the healthiest.

(Mark) What are freethinkers? Are these the people of the 1960's who were "free" and crashed and burned on the excesses of dope and sex? If religious people are so miserable why don't they stop believing? Nothing is forcing people to believe in myths. If you had a thorn in you side would you pull it out or let it fester? The greatest societies in the word have had strong myths: Greece, Roman, France, England, Spain and America. At one point in history all these countries were world powers.

(David) That religious beliefs have hastened the death of societies is a well-documented fact. To name 2 well-known cases: Easter Island and the White Shirt religion that swept through the plains Indians and speed up the demise of their society by at least 50 years. Here's a bigger challenge: Name one society where religion delayed the demise of a society?

(Mark) The cause of the death of Easter Island is unknown according to documentary I saw on PBS. You can't take one trend in isolation and define that as the cause of the collapse of a society. That's an over simplification.

(David) The argument in Gibbon's book is not that Rome fell because of internal moral decay (this is an argument started by Christian apologists), but rather due to external pressures and inbred leadership. In fact, he explicitly says the conversion to Christianity was one cause of Rome's decline and fall. This is why Gibbon was attacked so much by churchmen in his day.

(Mark) The last Emperor (I believe it was Nero) was converted too Christianity. By all accounts I read, Nero was insane. The fall of Rome took decades. By the time Nero rose to power there wasn't much he could do to destroy or save the empire. Note: Constintine converted to Christianity, not Nero.

(David) Finally, by using the word mythos, you obscure your argument. Does mythos include the belief that the Earth is flat, that stars are gods, that the creator of a cosmos wants animals killed and bled for his propitiation, that birth control is a mortal sin, etc? Are all these beliefs "outside the bounds of "scientific knowledge?" Other than very general assertions such as there is a god, all other religious beliefs are certainly within the realm of scientific knowledge. Two examples: a virgin birth and a human coming back from the dead after 3 days. You don't think science has anything to say about these beliefs?

(Mark) It's hard to define the mythos. Because the definition changes from culture to culture from time to time. The mythos is dependent on people's emotional needs, and these needs change over time. All myths are symbolic. A virgin birth is symbolic of the birth of a prophet. The Buddha was a virgin birth (born out of his mothers side). Symbols are not to be taken literally.

(David) I propose a draw.

(Mark) I accept.

The notes are my comments.

Copyright © 1996-2017 by Lanty H. Wylie, Jr. All Rights Reserved.

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Comfort Zone

 

September 23, 2010

 

After again reading John Dickey’s “Looking for the Buckhead Boys,” and talking to you about the longing to once again go back to Olive Street, these thoughts came to mind.

 

We tend to visualize most of our actions before we start on a task. We fantasize the task and its outcome. At the start of our day, we think and plan for the days task, ever-so-small or ever-so-large. Some actions we have done before and require little thought or no planning to do again. Common tasks we do are a reflex type action. This reflex action gets some of us in trouble. Take for instance, in the military, we are taught to never put our finger on the trigger of a weapon until we are ready to shoot. If you finger is on the trigger and something startles us, we pull the trigger, a reflex action.

 

In our youth most of us enjoyed the safety and security of a home life, playing with friends, good food, nice home and other things we enjoyed. This way of life became our Comfort Zone.

All animals seek their Comfort Zone, a place where they are secure and satisfied.

 

In the pressure of adult life we remember the Comfort Zone of our child hood and wish to return.

 

We cannot return to the Comfort Zone we fantasize from our youth, it exists no more.

 

Just think, you are creating a Comfort Zone for your family that some day they will try to recapture.

 

Then you have succeeded!

 

Lanty Wylie,

The Elder

 

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Walking one day in a grave yard, I called forth a ghost from its slumber.

I said to it, "What is it you do?" The ghost replied, "I am dead, the business of being dead is a full time job."

I sat down under a tree, to reflect on this field of death, with its lust for everlasting life.

I could picture in my minds eye the never ending struggle of man and the finality of the grave.

This vast graveyard is a meeting place for all of us.

As a deep sadness came over me, I heard a voice from the heavens say,

"Leave my creation alone. Let mankind do what it does best."

Best

I raise my glass, a toast to you,

The human race so fine,

With faults and hoary calluses,

of love and thoughts divine.

Drink up, my lads, and smile for me,

Good gals and all my friends,

This party we have started,

It seems will never end.

Let's live today, and damn the rest,

We'll do this thing with zest,

We are waiting here till doomsday,

Then - we will do - what we do best.

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The Old Ones

© 2013 - Lanty Wylie

 

I set and wonder, I feel the echo

that resonates through the cold night.

Somewhere there sleeps Horus.

Shush, make not a sound,

the great eye of Ra sleeps.

Do Gods dream of eons gone by, but never

of what might have been?

The soft splash of an oar to ferry another soul

to the God’s dream.

Don’t wake the old ones; breathe in hushed silence,

all Gods not disturbed are the best dream.

Turn, pull the covers up, let the cold wind blow;

pray the footsteps are not for you.

 

Finally

Yes, you can take it with you when you go.

All my memories save these written here, I will take for myself.

The world is flat; when you die you can't get back.

The end.