Ron Ulrich's Story

(updated 12 May 1997)


Ron was born in the Maternity Cottages in Los Angeles, California on October 2nd, 1937. The event happened at 1:48 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. He weighed in at 9 pounds 6 ounces and moved in to a rental house at 5878 Mira Monte Boulevard in Los Angeles. His father was a mechanic at the California Fire Proof Company and his mother was a housewife. The family moved to Denker Avenue a few years later and then to 10500 Pinehurst Avenue in South Gate, California. Ron lived there until he got married and moved into his own family apartment in West Los Angeles, California. But we'll get back to that later. In 1940 on May 8th, his brother Barry (Richard Barry Ulrich) was born. He too was born in Los Angeles, California and moved in 1941 with the family to South Gate.

South Gate

The boys were often taken to South Gate park, which was down Pinehurst (about a mile). They would play on the swings and just enjoy the out doors. Mom also took lots of movies and photographs. Pictures of Ronnie and Barry in sailor suits or bathing suits or birthday suits. Lots of pictures. There were lots of parties, Mom came from a family that entertained a lot and we had birthday parties at various family homes. Nana (Josephine Best Smith Ron's mother's mom) lived on Flower Street (a few different homes on that street over the years) during the war years and her husband Larry (Clarence L. Smith) who was a block air raid warden during black outs that happened during World War II. Larry also worked for the Los Angeles Examiner as a linotype operator. Ron's other grandmother (Alice Mae Turner Ulrich) lived in Bell, California with her daughter (Katherine Ulrich Stringer). Ron's grandma had an aviary in the back yard at 6309 Prospect Avenue (Bell) that housed mostly canaries. She also liked to drink beer and visit with her friends. She took Ron with her to downtown Los Angeles (near Angel's Flight Railroad and next to the Grand-Central Market) to the beer joints she frequented to "show him off". Ron was always tall for his age and grandma took advantage of her friends by betting them they couldn't guess his age. She won lots of free drinks. There were family gatherings galore both at Nana's and Grandma's. Lots of smoking and drinking during those parties. Ron's Uncle Ed (John Edward Ulrich) and Aunt Grace (Grace Mason Ulrich) also entertained a lot. At these gatherings they typically sang and played games (croquette, cards usually pitch, poker, canasta and other games). Again lots of smoking, drinking and eating at these parties too.

The Fourth of July

I remember many events that occurred on the Fourth of July.  We seemed to live for this holiday.  My Aunt Katie and my Grandfather were people we could play tricks on with fireworks. Well not actually fireworks, but devices that made the autos seem to be "blowing up". There was a thing that you put on the tire to make and explosion that sounded like the tire blew out. And another that when connected to the spark plugs caused a screeching sound and then lots of smoke. One time when we visited my Grandfather and his sister was there, we hooked up the device to the spark plugs of his car and when he was going to take his sister home it worked. His sister was a little deaf and didn't hear the device go off. He bolted from the car and ran across the street where he shouted to his sister to get out of the car. She didn't hear him, but finally noticed the smoke and left the car. He was the butt of jokes for time to come. My Aunt Katie always reacted to both devices and was always relieved when she found out it was a joke. She was fun to play this tricks on. She also reacted to bugs and almost any other abnormal situation.
We always had lots of fireworks and on one Fourth, we got some "flitter fountains". These were small cups (about 1 inch in diameter and about 3/4 of an inch tall with a fuse of about 1 inch) that were supposed to be placed upon the ground and ignited. We chose to put on gloves and hold them and then light them and toss them into the air. They took off like rockets and made a neat noise as they flew off into the sky. Well, one of them took of down the street and veered off toward a house where it landed in the ivy between the house and a fence. It caught the ivy on fire. This created a panic and we rushed over to the scene and put it out, but it showed us the problem with fire.
We also liked to put "piccolo petes" on the ground after taking them off their stands and ignite them in this way. If we stomped on the end it would cause them to explode at the end of their action. When lighted in this manner, they would fly around on the ground and on occasion leap into the air taking flight and often chasing after people in the area. The end of the flight would be climaxed by a big bang. This was great fun. Most of the other fireworks were "normal", that is they were sparklers, fountains, snakes, caps, pin-wheels, cones and other non exploding devices. They caused neat sprays of multi-colored sparks with smoke. We usually shot off these fireworks on the night of the Fourth. We would watch the fireworks display at the local park from our front yard and then shoot them off in some form of order with the neighbors. This would often take a half hour to an hour to burn up the rest of the fireworks.
On one Fourth a friend was going to get fireworks and borrowed my bicycle. It was a brand new bike and he rode it over to the firework stand. He left it at the curb and was choosing his fireworks when a lady drove up and ran over my bicycle. We waited for him to return to show us his fireworks and he didn't come back for a long time. When he did he wasn't riding the bicycle, he was pushing it. We thought that was strange and ran to greet him. He was crying and we found out that the Fourth wasn't always a happy time. Another unhappy time was when I thought I got lock-jaw. We had "built" a device to pop caps. The device was nothing more than two bolts put together with a nut holding them together. One bolt would be removed and a cap would be inserted and then the bolt would be put back into the device and tossed in the air. When it hit the street the cap would be exploded. Well I was putting the bolt back into the device it exploded and drove some of the thread into my hand. I thought that I would now get lock-jaw. I lived in fear for a week or so, but I didn't get lock-jaw. It was scary.

Elementary School

In 1942, Ron's first school was Bryson Elementary School. It was a long walk, about 2 miles, but he only went there during the 1st semester of Kindergarten. The second semester was spent at Tweedy Elementary which was only a little about a mile away. The Tweedy family was the founder of the area of South Gate where we lived and some of their family lived next door. My primary school education was spent at Tweedy where Ron can remember participating in a minstrel show and also in carnivals or fairs. Mom usually prepared chili beans for these events. She soaked the beans for days and slowly cooked them over a low flame for a day or two. They were always a hit. There were school assemblies and Monty Montana a cowboy movie hero came to the school with his horse and did lasso tricks. Ron remembers almost choking on Baby Ruth candy bar and not wanting to eat them again after that. He also recalls that Mrs. Thompson, his third grade teacher was strict and mean. She would hit your hand with a ruler if you did something she didn't like. She did get husband to come in and perform magic tricks. He was good (at least as recalled by the third grader). His favorite teacher was Mrs. Kennedy in the 6th grade. She was pretty and very nice. Ron and his friend Keith White got all A's during the 6th grade and Ron's mom took movies of the boys with their report cards. Keith lived on Walnut at Tenaya about 3 blocks away and they played together frequently. During rainy weather on school days, we would sit in class for lunch (there were coat closets and places for lunch boxes/bags in the closet) and recesses and eat our lunch and read comic books. During the war there were also paper drives, tin can drives and grease/fat drives (people would save the grease from cooking). Ron remembers going on a paper drive truck picking up papers and reading the comics that were picked up. They wouldn't let him take any home ("the war needs all the pulp") but he could read them on the truck. Lots of old comics from the late 1930's and 1940's were converted to pulp. Today they would be worth lots of money. Ron remembers Lorna Haas who was the Tweedy School principal. She was also considered to be mean. She had a whip (actually a cat and nine tails) that she would slam on the counter to terrorize children who were sent to the office for disciplinary action. It was rumored that she used it on the kids, but Ron can't attest first hand if she did. Ron skipped a half a grade in grammar school. This forever made him younger than the other kids in his classes. Which didn't matter much academically, but physically it did. he was not only younger, but also matured later which had effects on his strength and competitive capability and confidence.

Marbles was a game played during grammar school. It was fun and often consisted of circle drawn in the dirt in a vacant lot across from the school. We would lag to determine who would go first. Then shooting at the marbles in circle would begin. We would shoot from a kneeling position and often would elevate our shot by resting our shooting hand on the other hand. There were rules that stated when you won a marble. I can remember one that was if the shot at marble went out of the circle it was pocketed. You would shoot until you missed or until your marble went out of the circle.

Another game we played was bottle tops. There was a dairy down the street from my house (at the corner of Tweedy and Atlantic - Royal Farms Dairy). We could often get bottle tops from them. When we walked home we would stop in and watch them making cottage cheese or pasteurizing the milk. They would let us come in to the plant and escort us around. It was fun. Today, I suppose it wouldn't be allowed due to the law suit potential. Anyway, we would watch the bottling machine and ask if we couldn't get some of the tops. They were also found out by the dumpsters. We would usually get a pretty good supply. Then the games would begin. It started by lagging out one or more tops and then you would try to toss your bottle top onto the ones that had been lagged. If you covered part of one of ones that were on the ground, you would win it and all the ones it touched. It was fun and it was always a game to get many different types of bottle tops. Not only in variety - butter milk, whole milk, and others, but in companies - Royal Farms, Adohr, and others. There were lots of interesting types.

We also collected butterflies. This was usually done during the summer, but it was also an activity after school. We had nets that helped, but we also often just used our hands. It was hectic to chase after a butterfly that flitted from flower to flower and field to field. The little ones - skippers - would light on the bushes and often fold their wings together and not fly off when you approached. You could then grab them by the folded wings and put them into your capture bottle. We attempted to mount them to card board and to preserve them so that we could show them off to our friends and family. We studied the books at the library and found many interesting varieties that were in other parts of the country. Locally we had swallow-tails, monarchs, gulf fritillaries, cabbage, owl, sulfur, and others that I don't recall. We caught many in the fields as we chased around hunting for them. They would light on tumble weeds and usually take off when we approached. We found a bush that was a particular delight to butterflies. It was attached to a chimney of a house on the way to the fields. The fields were at the corner of Abbott Road and Wright Road toward Imperial. It was between Wright Road and the Los Angeles River bed. Which at that time wasn't cemented in. The river was sand bottomed and we often went wading into it and even swam in it. More of that later. There was a dump in this area for many years. We would often go there to dig for buried treasures. Anyway this field was very large and it was lush with wild vegetation and also lots of bugs and crawling creatures. Butterflies were abundant as were spiders and other bugs. We caught lots of butterflies there. There were rabbits too and our dogs enjoyed chasing around after them. We rode our bikes on the road that was the extension of Wright Road (it is now the off ramp of the Long Beach Freeway (710). There was a bridge that crossed over the river on Imperial. Lots of exciting wrecks happened there.

The Neighborhood

Around the neighborhood, during those years - 1943 through 1948, there were lots of kids on the block between Tenaya and Abbott Road. The Roys boys (Ronnie the oldest, Richard about Ron's age and Jimmy who was younger than my brother Barry) lived at the end of the block at Tenaya. Next door to the Roys family, toward Abbott Rd., for a short time was Gary Kushner. Next to him was Beverly Eldridge and her brother Ross. A kid moved into the house next door to the Eldrige's toward the end of the 1940's, but he was young and didn't participate much in the neighborhood activities. The next house was that of the Romeo's (Donald and Johnny). Don was a bit older than Ron, but they still played together a lot. The Romeo home was built on one of the few vacant lots in the neighborhood. The next house was that of Mrs. Chick. Allie Chick was a store private detective (she worked for Bullock's or Broadway) and had grown kids and we always met her at the bus stop (Atlantic and Tenaya) and walked her home every night after her day in the stores of Downtown Los Angeles. She would tell us of her daily activities - nabbing a shop lifter or someone who stole a purse or other exciting things. She told me later (when I was in college) that once TV came in the late 1940's or early 1950's she was the loneliest person because we stopped coming to bus to meet her each night in lieu of watching TV shows. She was a wonderful lady that all the children enjoyed. The next house was that of the Tweedy's (Ann and Bertie). They were both much older than the neighborhood gang and didn't participate in any of the play activities. However, Bertie did teach Ron to knit. Down the street about 3 doors were a couple of younger kids and then the next house had Marie who was also a little older and not part of our gang. Next door to her was Buddy who was a strange and often mean kid. I remember one day when we were play a war game that he had a German Luger Pistol (made of cast aluminum). He was pretending to shoot at a kid who was chasing him and he said, "Oh, I've run out of bullets." When he threw the gun at his pursuer and split his forehead open. Next door to him was a younger girl and her brother. They were on the fringe and occasionally participated in activities. Directly across the street from Ron's house was Skipper Espeseth and his twin siblings-Dennis and Linda. Next door to them, toward Tenaya, was Carol Carruth and next to her was Joyce (younger) and then down the street (across from Beverly) was Carolyn Hill. The kids often played hopscotch on her large driveway. The street was used for football games and baseball (many games of over the line and hit the bat). It was also used for bicycling and other sporting activities. There were vacant lots where fox holes were dug and hide and go seek was played behind the tall weeds and grass. There were lots of lizards (horned toads). They would burn the grass on the lots to clear the weeds at which time most of the crawling creatures would run to escape the fires. It was then easy to catch the horned toads (which looked like triceratops). In our backyard we had an incinerator where we burned our trash. That stopped during the late 1940's (pollution). Ron and Barry had lots of animals. There was almost always had a dog (Gootch was the favorite and survived most of the boys youth). Gootch could climb up the slide (which Ron's father had built) and do lots of other tricks. She was a good dog and had lots of puppies. Ron can recall having to take them to the market and sit outside and sell them. Often having to give them away at the end of the day. They had alligators and rabbits, pigeons, parakeets and finches and canaries. And also had chickens (both regular and banty). I recall that we had barbecues where we cooked squabs (pigeons) for guests. Aunt Lorraine, Ron's mom's sister, wanted to buy a horse for Ron, but his mother wouldn't let her. He also caught a baby pig at the river one day, but his mother made him return it to the pig farm the same night. There was a dump nearby (now covered with Apartments) and beyond that was the Los Angeles River. During the 1940's it was not the cement river it is today, but one could walk in it and pretend to be explorers. Often feigning getting trapped in quicksand or swimming naked. The train crossed the river near the pig farm close to Firestone Boulevard. It was often crossed and sometimes the train came while you were attempting to cross and you had to jump onto the pillars to get out of the way. The pillars really shook, it was scary. I don't know if we were ever in danger, but I do remember that at one time there was a guard who would watch and not let you go across the bridge. Ron also collected butterflies during this period. He had quite a collection, but didn't know how to properly prepare them and so they eventually fell apart. It was fun trying to get different kinds and to chase after them across the fields or to get them off neighbors flower bushes was always an adventure. They smelled good and were pretty. Ron's mother would often take the neighborhood kids up to the mountains (San Gabriel) for the day. It was great fun and she would do things that were crazy and the kids always like to go. She also didn't mind us singing (what we considered to be) off colored songs and was very quick to join in. She would stop anytime we needed to relieve ourselves and let us just go off the side of the mountain. There was always a contest to see who could squirt out the farthest. It was great fun and we lunched in the mountains and swam in the San Gabriel river. On one journey, after the fishing season was over, we were in the stream and noticed some large trout. When we waded in the fish vanished. We stepped out and they reappeared. It seemed that they swam back into the rocks. I waded in an put my hand into the crevice and felt a fish. I felt the gill and slid my finger in and felt the fish attempt to get away. I pulled out my hand and had the fish "hooked". I threw it up on the shore and went after more. So did the rest of the group. We caught about 6 or 8 fish. The largest was over 14 inches and the smallest was about 10. When we came back to where my Mom was she was impressed, but said that it was out of season and that there was a fine for catching them (and that it was also probably illegal to catch them with our hands). I asked if she wanted us to throw them away even though they were dead. She said no and we packed them into the trunk of the car and headed home. She was nervous all the way home and was goaded into running a red light at a three way intersection when I challenged here to beat the car along side us. I watched the light as it changed from green to yellow to red and told her to go. She did, but since it was a three way light, the traffic across the street started to turn into her and she screamed and got out of the way prior to any accident and without any ticket. She did enjoy the fish very much. Mom also played games with us. We played cards, but also board games and she played along with us. The kids didn't seem to mind and neither did we. Sometimes she won and sometimes she didn't but it didn't matter. These trips continued on even into high school, she would take us to the parks, mountains, beach, desert or on other interesting places and there were always neighbor kids.

South Gate Junior High School

Lots of interesting things happened here. I had 6 or 7 different teachers each day. It started off with what was called Home Room. Each day was the same with home room being the kick off with news items for the day. Sort of a briefing session. We then went to our first "real" class of the day. Art, English, PysEd, Social Studies, Science, Math and maybe a shop class. In shop we would do things like arts and crafts, metal shop or wood shop. There were classes in language when you were in the 9th grade, but as 12 year old 7th graders you took the basic classes I specified above. I remember writing a poem in Junior High School that was good enough to make it to the Junior High School publication (as I recall it was the Forge or something like that). I do remember a big deal being made about my authorship of the poem. They wanted to ensure that I hadn't plagiarized it. It must have been good or something, but I was never sure. I think it was written on a subject like death so maybe it was controversial (?) Who knows certainly not I. I also remember that in the football which was played after school, I was afraid of a guy who was obese. He was my assignment as a blocker and I can remember that he would fall on me or rough me up. It wasn't any fun. I liked basketball very much and rode my bicycle to school early to play before classes. I also played at lunch time. It was fun. I was in a YMCA league and we did reasonably well, but I just remember playing. My favorite classes were mathematics and science. I built a telescope in one of these classes. Shellacked a 4 inch linoleum tube, polished a 4 inch mirror and put in the lenses and mirror for my telescope. My dad helped me build a tripod and we spent many nights looking at the moon and marveling at Saturn or Jupiter. I was also a very frequent visitor at the Griffith Park Observatory. I would ride the bus and then the street cars and make all the needed transfers to get there and then home. But I went up there often. I also spent many hours at the Museums of Exposition Park. This is the home of the Los Angeles Coliseum. I went to the Coliseum with my Aunt Lorraine to see the UCLA Bruins play football. She also took me out to UCLA in Westwood to watch the Bruins play basketball in the UCLA gymnasium. It was always fun to go with her as she would figure out a way to get in for nothing. We were also frequently sitting next to the Bruin was very noisy in that gym. Other things remembered were getting picked on by bullies. I was very tall for my age and I guess very docile. This was just the thing that bullies seemed to sense and I can remember them pushing me back and forth until I cried. I can recall that I would go to the steps outside the library and sit to talk with other kids that probably were doing the same thing. One of my teachers in math class was really neat, but she would also wander off the subject. She had been to Peru and would easily be led off to talk about the Peruvian people or the animals or the crops. Once the kids found this out the helped her off to Peru when ever they could. She taught me the rule of squaring numbers that end in 5. If a number ends in 5, its square will end in 25 and the rule states that you take the 1st digit of the number (for example: to square 75) and add one to it and multiply the first digit times the number plus one and then put the 25 after the multiplication. Hence, 75 square is 5625. It works and I will always remember the "trick". There were other things that she did that I also enjoyed and I must admit that I enjoyed here stories too. Besides the pushing incident, I remember that in the craft class that a kid (I suppose another kind of bully) brought a knife to school and poked it into my ribs. He threatened to use it on me if I told the teacher. It was one of the long hunting knives and I remember sticking close to the teacher and trying to keep the teacher between the kid and me. I think that the kid left school, but I am not sure. He never did knife me for which I am very glad. There was a store across the street from the shops at Otis and Firestone Boulevard that sold apple juice "shaved ice" cones. This was sort of the precursor to the snow cones of later years. They were good and the after school crowd was always very large. I can recall that yo-yos were a craze during this time and that Roger Dell and I were in a contest to attempt to win a "diamond" encrusted yo-yo. I think that Roger won, but I am not certain. I was pretty good, but not spectacular. I could do some neat tricks - around the world, rock the baby in the cradle, and "ouch" dog bights me. There was also walking the dog and over the falls and climbing the rope. Most of the tricks were spelled out in the Duncan yo-yo book. Junior High was 1949 to 1952 and this was the time of old time radio. To me at that time it was just radio, but I listened to Captain Midnight and other shows after school and prior to bed would listen to Jack Benny, Inner Sanctum, The Green Hornet, I Love A Mystery, Bulldog Drummond, The Shadow, The Whistler, Luigi Basco, The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger and lots more. It was fun and some of the shows were quite scary. More than once, I pulled the covers over my head to keep out the terror. We also took field trips in Junior High School. The one trip that stands out the most was the one to Pasadena to the Henry E. Huntington Art Gallery and Library. It was truly a memory that lasts to this day. I have often gone back to revisit all the joy of this lovely place. The grounds were spectacular and the art was wonderful. I fell in love with John Constable and English landscape artist. Landscape art is still a favorite of mine. The "Taj Mahal" that Mr. Huntington built to house his wife's body is impressive and the Chinese garden and gong was always fun. The buildings were massive and impressive and maybe the thought that someone lived in this place prior to it being a museum was also magical. In any case, it is one of the more significant events of my junior high school memory. I also learned to swim in junior high. We walked to the South Gate Park from the junior high and then the attempted to teach us to swim. I can remember being scared of drowning. But eventually I learned. I do remember hating to go. Once I learned, I was always in the water. There was the South Gate Park Pool and the Huntington Park Indoor Pool. We had to ride the bus and street car to get there, but it was worth it. I was the first one in the South Gate Pool one year. I waited in line from 6 or 7 a.m. and got my picture in the paper along with the first girl. I was proud to make the paper and feel like a celebrity. There were also the South Gate City Olympics which was bicycle racing and other activities. I was a good bike racer, but didn't have the stamina to race five races and ended up finishing 2nd overall to a older boy. It was probably impressive, but it was very disappointing.

South Gate High School

Finally made it to high school in 1952, February. The layout was different than junior high school. They had a lot more buildings and a track with a football field. I became interested in track and field and even in cross country. I was also president of the chemistry club. I took mechanical drawing and photography. Photography was a lot of fun. We worked in the dark room and developed both rolls of film as well as making prints from film. I remember that in the darkroom there was always a red light burning. It seems that red light doesn't expose the film. I became a member of the various service clubs in high school - the squires and the knights. Our school was know as the South Gate Rams and hence we had cheer leaders known as the "Rambleretts". It was much more fun than junior high and I went out for track. I threw the shot put. We didn't have the discus in our league, but I did do reasonably well in the shot put. I also competed on the cross country team and even though I weighed about 200 pounds and was over 6 feet at the time I did O.K. It was hard work and running two miles was hard work. I didn't excel in either cross country or the shot put, but did have lots of fun. I also remember that I was rather timid at that time and wanted to go out for football, but reluctantly. I was told by the coach that if I worked out all summer, I would be given a uniform and would be able to compete for a spot on the team. Well, I did work out all summer with a few of my friends who also wanted to be on the team. That fall, when school opened, I went out for the team. I went to get my uniform and was told that I needed $20 for insurance before I could get my uniform. I didn't have the money and so took the bus home to get the money. When I got back to the window to get my uniform, I was told that all the uniforms had been given out, but that I could get out on the field and hit heads with the rest of the players and when someone quit, I would be given a uniform. I never did go back (I felt like I was a coward but was justified since I hadn't been given the uniform I was promised). That was when I went out for cross country. In high school, I took an academic schedule with the intention of going to college. I made the California Scholarship Federation (CSF) most of the time and ended up graduating in 7th place based upon grades. I got the Rotary Service Above Self Award during my senior year. I also took the Naval Reserve Officer Training Course (NROTC) examination and got a scholarship to the college of my choice. I chose UCLA.


I entered UCLA in September of 1955. I had worked after graduating from high school in construction. I was a laborer and a carpenter. I worked on a church and on an apartment building during that time. I also remember getting injured while working on the church. I hit a nail and it either shattered of bounced back. Anyway a sharp piece of it stuck into my eyeball. It didn't hurt my eye, but the lid felt it and I was in pain. They took me to a nearby hospital where and eye doctor removed it with some form of tweezers. I was afraid the fluid would all rush out, but the doctor assured me that all would be ok. He gave me some medicine and I placed it in my eye for about 10 days. I also wore a patch for a few days and I think I was much more attentive to nails after that.  I went to UCLA to be a chemist. I had always loved chemistry and felt that that was my chosen field and I wanted to be a bio-chemist. I remember that when I went to my first chemistry lecture the professor said "look at the person on your right and then look at the person on your left. One of you three won't be in school next year." I made up my mind that I would be! NROTC was very hard for me. Not the drill field exercise, but the reading and history part of the class. It was a 5 unit class and took lots of time and I found it to be very difficult. By the end of the second semester, I had decided that I was going to quit my NROTC Scholarship. The UCLA Navy Department gave me lots of grief, but I did quit. I also got a scholarship in track and field to replace the NROTC one. When I went to UCLA, I knew I wanted to be on the track team. I told Craig Dixon that I threw the shot put, but he told me that they already had a shot putter (Duane Milliman) and asked if I did any other events. I told him that I threw the javelin and he said that I could be their javelin thrower. That was the start of my track and field career. When I went to UCLA, the javelin record had been set in 1937. I vowed to break that record as that was my year of birth. In my freshman year, I threw about 180 feet and won most of the track meets. My sophomore year was when I asked for the scholarship and was given one. I threw about 200 feet that year and again won most of my meets. My junior year was another year of improvement and I hit about 224. My senior year (the first one) was one that I spent watching the team. During the last semester of my junior year, I had gotten an 'F' in a math class and with that 'F' I only had 24 units of passing needed 26 passing units to compete. So UCLA petitioned the league to get me a wavier. Stanford turned my petition down and so I didn't compete. I did keep my scholarship even though I didn't compete. At the time I was bothered, but in retrospect, it was a blessing. I was able to get stronger and also was able to concentrate on my classes. I got a 3.75 on a 4 point system and brought my grade point average up where there wasn't any worry about graduation. During my second senior year, I was elected co-captain of the track team (along with Bob Holland who was a miler). We had a good year and I broke the school javelin record. Rafer Johnson had set the record the previous year and I broke it near the end of the senior year. My record stood for about 7 years before it was broken. As part of my scholarship, I had to work a certain number of hours each week. During my senior years, I got the job of being a hasher for the football and basketball teams. The job meant that I had to dish out the servings of ice cream to the ball players during dinner. The football team would come to the "coop" after practice and would pick up a large soup bowl of fruit cocktail. They would then get a scoop of ice cream in the fruit cocktail (ritualistic act, they could have had it in a separate bowl if they had wanted it, but most if not all chose it in the fruit cocktail). I was originally on the rolls (I would give each player one roll as he passed down the food line), but a golfer (he was about 5' 6" and 130 pounds) who was on the ice cream was giving out 2 scoops to every player and the coach was worried about their weight and so asked me to take over the ice cream. It seems that the ball players were intimidating the golfer and tried the same thing on me, but it didn't work. I did give one player two scoops, the center Ivory Jones (he liked ice cream as much as I did and his weight wasn't a concern to the coach). I also remember the 'maitre d', Dillard Doles, would watch me eat my supper. After the ball players had gotten their food, the hashers could get theirs. The food was: milk, fruit cocktail, ice cream, rolls, butter, 2 vegetables, potatoes, and a meat (New York steak on Monday, Prime Rib on Tuesday, Lamb chops on Wednesday, Ground Sirloin on Thursday and New York steak again on Friday). We got as much as we wanted. I would take my food into the back room and eat alone. I would often notice that Dillard would be watching me. When I asked him about it he said, "don't mind me 'sport', I like to watch you eat. You eat good!". He would sometimes bring in a friend to "watch sport eat, he eats good". Dillard was a neat man who was a deacon in his church. I gave him a pair of cuff links for Christmas one year. They were a pair of mine that he had admired. After the Christmas holiday break, Dillard came in looking sad and I asked him why. He told me that he had been burglarized over the holidays and that someone had stolen his "Sunday go-to-meeting suit and the cuff buttons" you gave me. He said, "if I see anyone wearing those cuff buttons, he will be grinning from ear to ear!" I remember another incident with Dillard that I will share here. On a Saturday during basketball season, I was hashing for the basketball team and got there a little early. They had a 2 p.m. game and would eat about 10:30 or so. When they didn't show up at 11:30, I told the chef that I was very hungry. I told him that I could eat all 14 of the steaks that he had prepared for the ball team. He said that that wasn't possible. They were 12 ounce steaks and no one could eat fourteen 12 ounce steaks. I said I could because I was hungry. We argued for a while and I said that I would pay for them all if I couldn't eat them all, but that if I could he would have to pay for them. I think that he was curious to see if I could do it. Any way after I had consumed 12 of them, he called off the bed and said that he had to have the other 2 to show to the head chef when he came in. And muttered that he wouldn't believe it anyway. Dillard who had been watching the whole thing had gotten two pies out of the pastry pantry and said to me. "Sport, you done good. You showed him, here take these two pies and enjoy some dessert." Dillard was something else. I don't know if I have ever eaten as well since that time, but I do know that during that time I certainly had some wonderful meals.  Another incident that I recall also happened in the "coop" (actually the co-op but called the "coop") after one of my evening jobs in Kirchoff Hall. I did various cleaning chores for my scholarship - vacuum, sweeping, waxing, etc. After that I found that in the "coop" you could get ice cream from the bins by lifting the lock bars and slipping the round handle underneath. Then you could scoop out as much as you wanted, replace the lids and no one would be the wiser.  Well, one night while I was engaged in this activity, the lights came on and I was scared when I saw the Campus Police coming in toward me. I froze but melted when one of them said "ah ha I see you too have found out how to get the ice cream." Thank goodness nothing happened for I certainly felt like a thief (which I was).  I was much more cautious after that, but still took my share of the ice cream.


When I went to UCLA, my high school friend Bob Wilson and I were looking for a place to live. We looked into boarding houses and finally ended up living in a fraternity (Phi Kappa Tau) as boarders. Boarders got to eat their meals and have a bunk in the house, but couldn't participate in fraternity activities (unless invited). Bob and I were usually invited to attend functions since the membership was not very large and they wanted to put on a show of size. I eventually joined, but Bob didn't. In fact, Bob ended up dropping out of UCLA. In my freshman year, I joined the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. It was a good thing for me as I was not socially active during my high school years. I remember that during my first "date", I told the girl I was with that I didn't know how to dance. She said, that neither did most of the guys who were moving on the dance floor. She took me to the floor and told me just to move my feet to the music and to not step on her toes. I did as she ordered and managed to get through college doing the same thing after that. I also remember one of my pledge brothers, Eric Holtzmark, taught me to play bridge on a ride over to sorority row. He said that he though that we could meet lots of sorority girls by going over to the houses on sorority row and getting the girls to play bridge. We did that and ended up working our way down sorority row playing bridge nightly. It was fun and I did learn how to play bridge and met many really nice ladies. Another thing that happened during my pledge semester was that each pledge had to perform some sort of activity that was to show his strength as a weakness. I was a good bowler and was told that I had to go to Linkletter Lanes in Hollywood and bowl a ZERO game, but that it had to look like I was trying to bowl. Gutter balls were allowed, but I couldn't just drop the ball in the gutter each time, I had to go up and make it look real. My day came and we went to the Lanes. A lady who was bowling next to me kept giving me advice on how to bowl. I would follow her advice to the letter. She would say "reach after the ball" and so I would loft the ball. She finally gave up when she decided that I was a klutz. At the end, I was getting cute and was snapping the ball off just before the pins but one of the balls didn't snap off but it clipped 3 pins. OH, OH, I had failed my initiation stunt. I was worried. The lady who had been helping me had gotten a 6-7-10 split and I asked her if that was hard to make. She said it was almost impossible. I said could I try it? She said that she would probably miss it anyway so sure. I took dead aim and went a little to the right of the 7 pin sending it in front of the 6 pin and missing it behind on the rebound off the alley wall. So, I only got 2 of the pins, but she wondered why I had missed so many pins in the game I had bowled. I said I was just unlucky then. I ended up a President of PhiTau during my senior year and due to membership falling off I was responsible for shutting down the BetaRho Chapter so that it could come back later on. It did so in the 1980/1990 time frame.


I have been married twice. My first marriage was to Patricia Anne Thomas whom I met at UCLA. We were married on 15 July 1961 in Los Angeles and had a daughter, Catherine Elizabeth. We were divorced in 1967 after living apart for a few years. We owned a house in Manhattan Beach, California where Cathy grew up during her primary years. Cathy attended grammar school in Manhattan Beach.

My current marriage to Faith Carol Bos was performed in Malibu Beach, California on the 30th of April 1968. We met at Douglas Aircraft Company where we were both employed. We played bridge and found that we had many things in common and decided that we were compatible. We have three children - Carl Frederick, Michael Hanson, and Laurel Roxanne. Over the years we have lived in and apartment in Santa Monica and in homes in Westminster, Florida, Cerritos, and Manhattan Beach. We have lived in an apartment in Reston, VA. We have also owned a duplex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which we sold to our son, Carl. In 2002, we bought a 5 bedroom home (with a basement) in the city of Herdon, VA. It was a good buy and as of 2009 (even with the Real Estate slump) it appears to be above the price we paid for it.


My working career began at Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica. On June 13, 1960. I had graduated from UCLA on the 10th of June and started at Douglas the next Monday. I remember that I had taken a class in "programming" during my senior year and found the concepts very difficult to master. Flow charting was a mystery as was the languages used to program. The machine in use at that time in the Math Department at UCLA was the SWAC. I can only recall that it had four registers - alpha, beta, gamma and delta. And that's about the extent of my memory (I probably erased most of it over the years to cover up the 'C' grade I got in the course). But at Douglas my first assignment was to take a 30 day class in programming.  It was taught by a really nice man name Gil Gilbert. The class was as comprehensive as any I took in college and indeed it was just as tough. The atmosphere was competitive too. All the new hires were striving to learn the new materials so they could become programmers. All who passed the class would start to program. As I say it was tough and I remember that some of the concepts (at that time) were really hard to grasp. Index loops and incrementing registers and a few other programming concepts that now see rather simple but were causing me a great deal of anxiety. During the class I had to go up to Stanford for the Olympic Trials. I had qualified to be in the Trials, but ended up doing very poorly. I also had to study while I was there for when I returned to work I had a programming test. I eventually passed the test and became a rather skilled programmer. Learning lots of tricks of the trade and also learning to program every computer that they had at the Santa Monica Douglas facility. I worked at Douglas for about 5 years when I went to a company (whose computer we had purchased) called Scientific Data Systems (SDS) in 1965. They were an exciting company and ended up making many of their employees millionaires (a 1960 Microsoft). It was really fun for me to work at SDS.  I was in software Marketing support which meant that I was the expert in the software products of SDS and would assist the Salesmen to sell the products. The SDS computers were really fast for that day and age and were oriented toward scientific calculations. They didn't sell much in the business community but were really competitive in the scientific arena.  One of the super salesmen, Steve Kauffman, got as much in his refund from the IRS as did many of the programming staff.  He drove a Lincoln Continental and had a "radio telephone" in his car.  He was also very flamboyant in dress too. I was very good in the support role and really knew the product as I had used it at Douglas and was intimate with its capabilities. I ended up leaving SDS and when to a small company in Encino, CA (the Los Angeles Valley) in 1967. It was a company of about 6-10 people and was started by a very nice man, Sam Phillips, who had been a salesman at SDS. It too was a fun place to work and I had one assignment in Camp Pickett, VA (near Peterboro, VA) where we built software to test clothing. It was fun because we worked at night and there were animals in the test areas. We worked in a trailer that housed an HP computer. One day, they had a test demo for a General Eisenhower (not Ike). The General came into the trailer to watch the action. We hear the machine guns simulators going off and could monitor the targets on the live fire weapon test range when they popped up. All of a sudden, everything went quiet! The General asked what was wrong and I said nothing (as I activated the reboot sequence which I had luckily put in place that morning) and after a few seconds the noise started up again and the walky talkies were back to life stating the everything seemed ok now. Close call. After leaving that company in 1969, I went to another startup company called Multi-data. They were building hardware (a micro computer) and needed people to put together and operating system and support software (math library, drivers, etc.). This company had two founders, Bruce Chancellor and Bruce Stuart, both ex-salesmen from SDS. They were both really nice guys and it was really fun to work there too. My office mate, Gordon Umemoto, and I were responsible for building the math-library and also variou device drivers. We had some responsibility for supporting the "real-time foreground-background batch operating system". It was neat, you could turn of the machine and the turn it back on (power failure recovery) and it would start going from where it left off. This machine (1970) was ahead of its time (VAX came later and copied much of the approach used on the Multi-data Computer). The machine was bought by Boston College to allow students to run Fortran IV programs so they could debug them prior to going to the University BIG Computer. Our company was bought (twice) - first by a paper manufacturer (the deal fell through) and then by Systems Engineering Laboratories (SEL) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. My family (Carol, Carl, and Michael) sold our house in Westminster, CA and moved to Plantation, FL about a mile from the office. Our previous home was only about 1/4 mile from Multi-data in Westminster. Anyway I went to SEL as a marketing support person for the Multi-data Computer. They sold a machine to Los Angeles Harbor College. After that they quit pushing the computer and I went to the support of the SEL 8600 series of computers. I became very skilled in the operating system and built drivers to support this line. We lived there for two years. Another fun job! My daughter, Laurel, was born in Plantation Hospital on 8 June 1973 and we pulled up roots (late 1973) to go back to Southern California where I had take a job at TRW in Redondo Beach. I began work, 26 November 1973, at TRW providing support for their SEL 8600 computer. I ended up building (with my office mate Fred Clark) a multi-user dynamic file management system. I worked well and was used by the project though the late 1990's. In 1986, I left TRW to go to Hughes Aircraft Company. They were in El Segundo and so my 10 minute drive to work turned into about 15. I again worked on a project developing software. Hughes became General Motors and then Raytheon during my years with them. While at Hughes I was a Sub-Project Manager (60+) developers and a Department Manager (again about 60+) developers and then began supporting "process improvement". The job was to teach people how to follow their process and to perform their duties in an optimal manner. I became associated with the System Engineering Institute in about 1986. This led to my becomiing a CMM Based Assessor for Internal Process Improvement. I ended up training and performing over 25 CBA-IPI's during that time. I was also involved in ISO Audits (trained to be an Internal Auditor). My main trust was the SEI assessments. In the late 1990's the SEI announce a new assessment method called the CMMI and shortly thereafter I became a CMMI SCAMPI Lead Appraiser. The new model was better that the previous CMM and caught on quickly. By early 2000, I had performed a couple of SCAMPI Appraisals. Shortly thereafter, I left Raytheon to go back to TRW to be responsible for their Appraisal program. I started in July, 2000 and have done about 60 SCAMPI A appraisals. TRW became Northrop Grumman in about 2006 and continued the Appraisal program. We have optimized the method and have built tools to support all phases of the process from planning to performing the SCAMPIs. Northrop Grumman had ensured that ALL its programs operate following the consistent and stable processes for software development.


My first hobby was stamp collecting, I wish it had been coin collecting. Stamps were fun and easy to collect. They were also very inexpensive and allowed you to spend lots of time soaking stamps off envelops and measuring and sorting for mounting in albums or just putting them in boxes. I collected stamps as a child and continued to collect as an adult. The hobby became more of an investment as an adult, but the interest was still there. Coins were collected as a youth, but the coins I collected were the ones found in circulation. And nobody told me how to do it. So I collected pennies and nickels. Dimes, quarters and halves were spending money. I didn't think about the intrinsic value of the silver coins and just knew that they spent rather easily. Later on I began collecting as an investor, I'll get into that later. Another hobby at times was to collect cigar boxes but they broke rather easily and also required lots of storage space so I never kept it up for long. Comic books were for reading and not for collecting. I had lots of comic books, but they eventually got lost, thrown out or were taken by other kids. We had a fad of collecting milk bottle tops. These were used in a competition to see who was good at aiming from a standing position and if you got your top on top of another you won both of them. In fact if you were on more than one you won all you were on top of. This lasted a few years, but then fell out of favor. Much like yo-yos, which was also a collection process. Getting pretty yo-yos by competing with others, but the evaluation of who was the best was biased and hence turned out to be done only for the fun of the individuals. Marbles was another hobby. The idea here was to get the best marbles. The "best" was the prettiest or the biggest or the most novel. The game was played in a circle and you won marbles by shooting them out of the circle. There were lots of rules (many known and some created during the play) but the most skilled usually won. The skill was to shoot straight and with force. Your thumb was the catapult and the manner of the hold was very significant in the results. I got into coin collecting as an adult when I was at TRW (1975 or so). I became president of the coin club and was really into the hobby. I purchased lots of coins, but truly specialized in Mercury dimes and Walking Liberty half dollars. Of secondary interest was Morgan silver dollars. From a collector standpoint (rather than an investment standpoint) I found "So Called Dollars" to be great fun and not too expensive. The other area that wasn't too expensive was that of Bust Half Dollars. These coins were minted in the period of 1807/8 through 1839 and I have a relatively large collection of various types. They are fun because the same year comes in many different varieties. This makes it possible to get a "rare" coin at a regular price. The same is true of the "So Called Dollars". There are lots of different types, but nobody had much interest in them and hence other than for the fun of collecting them they remain of little value. Many of the silver coins are of great interest and even the common coins are sought after if the coins are "perfect" or nearly so. The Mercury Dime is a fine example. During the early years of my collecting, I noticed that two dimes of (what I perceived to be) different quality sold for the same price. The most noticeable place on the Mercury Dime is on the reverse side. The fasces has a center band that is supposed to be split in the middle. On pristine coins I would find this to be the case, but again the dealers didn't differentiate one from the other. I collected all that were in this state and socked them away. The Jefferson Nickel was never a major collector item like silver coins were, but here too there were places to look for the quality features. The steps of the reverse when properly formed were clean of marks and complete all the way across. These too had little premium when I first began collecting, but eventually others caught on and the prices moved steadily higher. In the area of Walking Liberty Halves (Walkers) the thumb was a point of quality. If you could find a Walker with the thumb truly well defined and the rest of the coin was with little or few marks it was an excellent buy. The too eventually became noticed and the prices steadily rose. In the early 1980's the Hunt brothers tried to control silver and an drove all silver coins sky high. When silver reached about $50 per ounce, silver coins were going for between 25 and 30 times face value. Millions of these coins were melted during this silver rush, as were silver knives, forks and spoons and any other item made of silver. People were attempting to sell anything that was silver. I remember one man who brought in the "kitchen sink".  Yes, the kitchen sink had a drain that was marked "sterling". The man thought it was sterling silver and was quite disappointed when he found that it was manufactured by the Sterling Company.  I collected some rare pieces of silver during this time, but now the value is back around $5 per ounce and coins are about 3 to 4 times face value. During this period not only bullion (silver and gold non numismatic) coins went through the sky too. Common silver dollars that were uncirculated went for $35 to $70 dollars and these were priced about $10 to $20 dollars in previous times. Really rare pieces went for $100's of dollars. I bought a Standing Liberty Quarter (that was very well defined...full thumb and ear) for $500 and was offered about $2500 for the same coin a couple of year later. This was very common during that period. Now most of these coins have fallen back to previous values, but there are few sellers. And the coins are stuck away in storage boxes. It is a fun hobby and one that will always have my interest.

Reverend Ron

When I worked at Douglas Aircraft Company during the early 1960's, someone came to the office one day and said, "Why don't we become reverends?" He then said that there was a Church in Modesto, California that had been formed by a Reverend Hensley to allow the "common man" to get the same property tax and income tax breaks as any other church. He said that it only cost a small donation to become "titled". I found that there were many titles and he became a Bishop. I asked for the title "Pope", but they said that that one was not one they offered. So I chose Reverend. Then I started to investigate what one had to do to qualify for the tax exemption and the list was long. You had to advertise that you held regular services at some regular hour and you had to form a board of directors. This body would be the one to specify that the Reverend and his family could get payment for housing, food, automobile, gasoline and other miscellaneous items. You needed to have at least three other adults on the board and it just seemed too hard. So I never founded a church. But many people knew that I had the title of Reverend and someone asked me to perform a wedding for them. When the first couple asked me, I was uncertain about the legality of performing the ceremony plus I didn't know the "ritual". So they got married by someone else. Later on another couple asked and I consented. The wedding of Carol Niersbach and Gary Saxton was held at Barnabey's Pen and Quill Restaurant and Motel. The ceremony was based upon the specification that Carol and Gary outlined. I gave them a book with various ceremonies listed and they cut and pasted together what they felt was appropriate for them. During the investigation of weddings and ceremonies I found that there is no ceremony listed in the Bible and that throughout the centuries, many different people have been allowed to perform the ceremony (legally). It was often performed by the elder of a village or by a senior official of the area, but nowhere does it require clergy. In modern times it is customary to have a clergy or justice of the peace perform, but I don't think it is mandatory. I think that all that is needed is that the papers be legally filed with the registrar of the State. In Virginia there is a fee that is charged of the clergy and proof must be shown of church affiliation. The Universal Life Church is apparently a legal entity. The first wedding I performed was held for about 200 people and went very well. I filed all the necessary papers and the marriage was legal. Since that first wedding, I have performed 7 others and all of my marriages are still intact. I doubt if many clergy can make that claim. I have also officiated at two funerals and at one baptism. The funerals are definitely the hardest. I have known the parents of the infant whom I buried and also the children of a very young 52 year old man who passed away very unexpectedly. This man appeared to be in excellent health and had been competing in many long distance races. It was a very sad time (as are most times surrounding unexpected deaths). I doubt that I will ever open a church, but I will continue to minister as requested.

Other Miscellaneous Activities

To Be Continued

Since June 8, 2009

DISCLAIMER: The author makes no guarantee as to the accuracy of any information provided in this document and is not responsible for any consequences of its use. Most of the material is based upon factual information, but some of the material related to individuals may be the author's opinions.