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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 Band...it
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
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 grades...you 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
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
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
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.
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.