Friday, December 21, 2012

For John

John, since I'm about a decade older than you, I recognize that our individual experiences are different...we've shared time as specks in space for perhaps 55-years, or thereabouts; however, different experiences inevitably yield slightly different points of view.  And from our own experience banks, we form our opinions...if we tend to be thinkers. 

When I was about 21 or 22 in the mid-sixties, you were about 11 or 12, doing what 11 or 12 year olds do.  Your universe was most likely substantially bounded by Meadowbrook Dr, East Lancaster, and the Toll Road providing easy access for occasional forays into Big-D.  My boundaries by then had grown wider:  Sunset Blvd., Malibu, Laguna, Redondo, Hermosa, Santa Monica, etc.  The years were 1965-1970.

Politics didn’t interest me much, but those 6 or 7 flight attendant training schools down PCH at LAX did !  Working, flying, trying to avoid the draft, and chasing what social comfort I could find occupied most of my time.  My closest male friends were a TRW engineer and a recently released nuclear submariner who was working as a flight instructor…both of them a few years older.  That time was both trying and magical.

Our immature conversations were always lively, witty, and often attended by a contingent from one or more of those schools down the street.  Topical conversations were what you might expect…the news of the day and what we had been seeing.  Opinions may or may not have been carefully thought out, but they were freely exchanged and always couched in humor.  What was going on in the rest of the world those years in other social subdivisions, I have little clue.  But this one was memorable.

The years, 1965-70 on the West Coast provided a ring-side seat to pre-Vietnam culture, the build up, the involvement, the protests, and the wind down.  A socially active young adult there during those years could actually live most of the Vietnam War life-cycle experience close to the action.  Elements of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet was home-ported in Long Beach, just a few miles from my apartment; the neighborhoods were substantially populated with sailors going and returning from service in the Western Pacific…WESTPAC.  They told stories.

A number of the films of that period fairly accurately depict the every weekend party scene, as did some of the old “Laugh-in” sketches.  Much of the LA basin was filled with people employed in the WWII legacy aircraft/aerospace manufacturing plants: North American, Hughes, Lockheed, Douglas, Northrop, and their vendors.

Essentially all the airlines were training new aircrews for their new jet fleets.  It was the epicenter of space program and jet aircraft manufacturing, probably due to its mostly congenial weather.  There was a huge contingent of young adults living and working there, mostly from other places in the country and the UK.  Conversation was varied and stimulating.

University populations at UCLA and USC were some distance away, perhaps 25-miles, or so.  So, we weren’t influenced much by those points of view.  State and community colleges were closer, but by my observation, those students were not particularly involved in the more aggressive and vocal protest activities.  Perhaps they were more “working class” lacking the wherewithal of daddy’s money with which to squander their time frivolously as seems to have been the case at the larger universities, particularly Berkeley.
Anyway, the atmosphere I matured in was very interesting, varied, and stimulating with respect to free flowing conversation and expressions of opinion.  I recall neither animosity nor rudeness resulting from simple differences of opinion.     

Fu**in' hippies...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bud's Crew

Found this photo quite by chance last night.  The details written along the bottom tell that it was taken from a plane flying with the 94th Bomb Group (H) based at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.  Noted also is the date: 25 August 1944; the altitude: 21,500-ft.; and the target: Rechlin.

The date and target caught my eye.  This was the same day that Otis and the rest of Bud's crew were shot down over Rechlin.  That story was written up by Otis and Bob, the co-pilot on that mission and I have them both.  Some years ago, I combined them and found some relevant photos to illustrate the story, then sent the story to what descendents I could find.

However, this picture may be the icing on the cake for this story.  The silver specks left of center and a little high is another group of planes that could be 447th B-17s; the two Groups often flew their missions together.  Back home in England, their bases were about 5-miles apart.  Otis, flying in Bud's crew, may be in one of those planes, plowing their way to the target and to their date with destiny, ditched in the North Sea....68-years ago.

For a crew that had to ditch in WWII, if they survived, the story became the one they told all their lives.  It was fairly rare to survive a ditching.  Another story and amazing picture can be found here. 

To illustrate my earlier story, I used a satellite image to draw the course and note the point of ditching.  Matches pretty close to the picture, doesn't it?  (Note: Their briefed target that day was the missile base at Peenemünde but, good results reported from the first Groups over that target led to the decision to turn off to Rechlin).


The Torch Has Passed to a New Generation

I've given thought as to when the WWII generation stepped back and handed the keys to us. Judging from my father's behavior, I think it was about the time Wavy Gravy came forward as one of our generation's spokesmen.

As old men, there still appears to be quite a gap between them. The old airman sports a bombardier's wing, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Purple Heart, several Air Medals, a WWII Victory Medal, and a very proud grandson who will undoubtedly grow even more in awe of his PaPaw as time passes. Wavy....well, Wavy has a red nose.


Friday, December 07, 2012

EHHS Opens Next Fall 1959

Interesting article from the Handley High School paper adds more information to the subject of the Leonards Star Awards and discusses the initial staffing of Eastern Hills to that point.  There were still a lot of loose ends.  


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Mr. & Miss Eastern Hills 1960 - 1965

Bryan Gregory - Susan Moody

I think this was an all school election similar to those held for class favorites.  So, these former young people were the favorites elected by 3 different classes each year.

The 1962-63-64 winners were casual to close acquaintances who were all class acts.    
Barbara Bloomfield - Charles Sweeney

Carol Reeder - Don Reynolds

Bob Dillard - Suzanne Hoffman

Barbara Isham - Steve Rose
Geneta Anderson - Mike Gentry