Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good-bye, Otis

Word reached me today that Otis passed away.  I never met Otis, but had exchanged a number of letters with him after my father died some years ago.  Otis told me a few stories about he and my father when they were young men; stories my father never told.

There was also Bud, Bob, and Jerry; Gene, Holly, and Harry; as well as Lee and John.  Dad didn’t start flying with them from the beginning of their tour in July 1944.  He joined them a couple of months after they had started...after they had ditched.  The picture above shows Dad with them shortly after the crew was re-formed following their latest brush with death in the North Sea.

As they were ditching in the North Sea, following a raid on Peenemünde, Dad was home on leave between his 2-tours of duty; there was an earlier crew with whom Dad had flown.  So, when he came home after WWII, he had about 18 guys to keep up with…for the remainder of his life.  Otis was the last surviving member of both those crews.

In addition to the ditching, they had also crash landed on 2 other occasions.  In none of their forced landings was anyone badly hurt or killed.  Credit for those feats of airmanship accrued to Bud, the young pilot, back row center.  Accordingly, he was singled out as a hot-shot B-17 driver and subsequently assigned to lead formations, a very dangerous place to be--that position was the most common target for Luftwaffe fighters and anti-aircraft gunners on the ground.  Dad, by now a 21-year old “experienced” man, joined them at that point—he, having returned for a second tour, was one of the few veterans in the Group.

Andy Rooney wrote far more eloquently than I ever could, that a bomber crew was a very close-knit unit.  Officers and enlisted men aboard a plane were much closer to one another than they ever were to their peers aboard other planes.  My father often said that they never got to know another crew very well…it was just too painful to lose friends.  So the crews kept to themselves.

When Dad passed away, his Army Air Force papers, records, and artifacts passed to me.  Among the mass of records was a typed listing of the men in his crews, with notations of who was still living and what jobs they had done after the war.  With the rise of the Internet about that time, I was able to bring his list current and continue Dad’s survivor watch.

After they had pummeled the Nazis into submission, reducing their cities to rubble, Otis and the crew went home.  One became an engineer, another an Air Force Command Pilot who flew early NASA missions, a postal worker, a County department manager, a fireman, a NYC ad agency owner, and Otis…a college professor. 

My father, the engineer, wrote of his experiences; but, as anyone who has spent much time around engineers would know, they generally don’t write very well.  However, in response to a late life appeal from his family, Otis wrote his memoir and it is a masterpiece.  Through his vivid words, I could finally learn what my father had seen and done; something he was unable to express himself with any real clarity. 

The plain clothes guys came to the base to collect Otis one day.  Seems he was flying in a top secret war machine and his paper work didn’t match the records back home.  Otis never had a middle name and found that the recruiter back home wouldn’t accept his enlistment without one.  So, Otis made one up.  Now, after having flown several missions into Germany, survived one North Sea ditching, and 2 forced landings, one of them in an English coastal minefield, Otis had to explain to the plain clothes cops, what was going on with his non-existent middle name!

There were other stories, lots of them….Foo Fighters, the big red globe, the Luftwaffe fighter pilot that didn’t kill them as they descended toward the North Sea…he came alongside instead and saluted them.  He knew they were done for and simply showed them the respect of another aviator.

Farewell my friend and thanks for looking after Dad so well.  May God bless you…I know He will.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Highlander Majorettes

1962-1963 Majorettes

Had an amusing exchange with another Highlander recently when the subject of one or two majorettes came up.  Between us, we have almost 100-years of living beyond our EHHS days.  Yet, when the subject of our favorite Majorette surfaced, each of us picked one we remembered, and each of us clearly recalled them both.  Ladies, you made a lasting impression on a lot of people.  Thanks to all of you.

Recordings of a 1962 pep rally where they were on stage (IIRC) can be reached and heard from THIS PAGE.

 1961 - 1962 Majorettes 

1960 - 1961 Majorettes

1959 - 1960 Majorettes

1964 - 1965 Majorettes

(for the Google search tool:  Christy Hawrylak, Christy Brown, Debby Bryan, Cheryl Ferguson, Kay Smith, Sandra Worsham, Jeanette Bunton, Paula Van Pelt, Genice Sargent, Vicki Reas, Pam Shear, Lanelle Cheslock, Cheryl Gant, Judy Stevenson, Tommy Gandy.)

1959 - 1960 Meadowbrook Majorettes

Remerciez heaven de jolies filles.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


The CLAN was our school yearbook that came out sometime during the summer, after it having been worked on for the entire school year.  The job of getting it together involved mostly layout editing, photo selection, and copy writing.  It also required advanced planning to accommodate future activities that would take place throughout the year.


 The TARTAN was our school newspaper which was published about twice each month.  It generally consisted of 4-6 pages and covered news, opinion, sports, and social topics.

Staff for the TARTAN was chosen by the sponsor, Mrs. Ruth Priddy, one of the Senior English teachers.  I think interested Highlanders had to apply for the spots in the class and there may have been some recruiting as well.  Everyone I see in these pictures were among our top students or in a few cases may have possessed some useful journeyman skills.

The class met daily and was somewhat unstructured, allowing the youngsters to set their own goals and go about achieving them as they chose.  The photographers job was a real lark…wander around the school looking for pictures to snap.  It also provided latitude for some hi-jinx.  Otherwise, as long as the writers met their deadlines and the editors and layout staff met theirs, everything flowed along relatively well.

 At the end of the year a number of the students who had worked on the student publications were singled out for the Tartan-Clan Award.  I have no idea what the criteria was.

Gus Note:  If some of you folks are reading along and/or in contact with some of these other folks, you should know that Gus is aware of several instances of things you should not have done when putting your part of these publications together.  If you want to come clean at this late date, Gus is willing to hear your explanations or stories.  If not, Gus has taken further action on this matter under advisement and is considering full disclosure !  Uh-Oh.






Monday, August 13, 2012

Girls & Ladies Fashion Evolution

Been bouncing around some chat in a Facebook group focused on history of our times when someone put this picture up for comment.  The time was just a few years after we left EHHS.  My comment:  

Well, if I were to pick just one golden moment in the sixties, this glorious style would be it. You ladies are quick to condemn us guys as perverts for (uncontrollably) displaying some of our genetic traits...but you must keep in mind that we didn't invent it. The following picture illustrates that the interest has been around for quite awhile. After grinning, can you identify the bad boy?

Taking the thought a little further, recall that I wrote a piece some time back that dealt with the very conservative dress our young ladies wore to EHShown below is a c.1962 group picture from a CLAN yearbook showing school dress of that time.  Following on down the stack are similar pictures of similar aged young ladies all the way back to 1926.  Quite an evolution, isn't it?  And what fun.

Ans:  Joe Willie Namath

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Home is the Sailor

Home is the Sailor
By James J. Kilpatrick
November 1969

San FranciscoThe aircraft carrier Coral Sea left Alameda, bound for Vietnam, on Sept. 7, 1968.  She returned this past Friday, a great grey bulk of a ship, her fourth tour of combat duty behind her.  Her aging hull was stained with rust, but her flags were flying as happily as so many tropical birds.

As combat cruises go, Coral Sea’s last tour on Yankee Station offered no more than a footnote to the chronicles of war.  She had been on the line only a few weeks before bombing was halted north of the 17th parallel.  The rest of the time was spent in ground support, reconnaissance, and routine patrol.

To the 4,500 officers and men, the tour was a tour of duty—hard and exhausting duty, performed under constant tension.  The steam catapults were forever pounding and the jet engines screaming for release.  There was danger, and there was death:  Marvin Naschek, Tom Bitter, and Norman Ridley, dead; Quinlin Orell, James Hunt, and Larry Stevens missing in action.

When a great ship comes into port, especially to its own home port, the crowds turn out.  So it was on Friday morning.  By 8 o’clock, they had begun to gather, wives and parents and children, bearing their hand-lettered signs:  “Scott Says ‘Howdy’”…”Welcome Eddie Schofield from the Dalles, Ore.”… “Hi Jerry Schur”…The 12th Naval District band gave forth; gulls figure skated on the sky; balloons, like airborne tulips, flowered above the pier.

A little before 9 o’clock, the ship could be seen beyond Golden Gate Bridge, an unmistakable speck on the sea.  It would be an hour before she docked.  There was time for a visiting father to glance at the papers.

Student militants at Stanford University called off their nine-day occupation of the Applied Electronics Laboratory, amid indications that the University administration would yield to demands that war-related research be halted…

On Pier 3, Lorette Harvey of Lisbon, Maine, pushed a stroller back and forth.  Before long her husband, Aviation Supplyman Raymond Harvey, would see his new-born baby Kevin.  Phil Duncan’s mother was there from San Jose to meet her sailor son, just as she used to meet her husband 20-years ago.

Meanwhile at Merritt College in Oakland, 30-members of the faculty Senate were locked in a conference room by angry students demanding a “retraction.”  The students aroused by conflicting reports on the development of a Mexican-American Studies Program, kept the professors imprisoned for three and a half hours.

By 9:20, Coral Sea was plainly coming in.  You could see the sailors lined in dress blues on the flight deck.  The whole Vinton family had come from Medway, Mass., to meet Petty Officer Donald Vinton—father, mother, brother, girl friend.  Mrs. Charles Brinegar was there; her husband, a chief in aviation ordinance, has served his country for 22-years.  

At Harvard, agreement was reached on a plan to reduce the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program to an extra-curricular activity.  The agreement represents a victory for student militants who last week seized a university building.  In New York, 200 young men, demanding an end to the university’s program for training Naval Reserve officers held a seven-hour sit-in.

Now the ship was nudging her 63,000 tons against the pier, and the moment of reunion was close at hand—the moment when man and woman, mother and son, father and child, could cling to one another.  We scanned the crowded decks, searching for a single face.

A radical student at Stanford University pleaded to have the group continue the sit-in until troops or police were ordered in.  At that point, he said, the students could abandon the laboratory to wage some form of guerrilla warfare on campus.

High in the crow’s nest, 75 feet above the flight deck, a slim young sailor skimmed his white cap toward the pier.  It landed with fine precision right at this reporter’s feet.  I looked up, and he waived.  Even from a distance, you could tell; He had lost weight, and grown a little older, but the old grin was there.  Son Chris was home from Vietnam.

Liberty commences

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Gus Has Been Thinkin'


Sorry, don't go there if you're not one of my Conservative friends. Click the RED letters above.