Monday, May 30, 2011

Being a Washington Freebooter

Polaris A3 Missile launch

            Being a Washington Freebooter .  Getting sent to Washington for shore duty happened to most naval officers sooner or later.  I was ordered to a small cadre of freebooting souls in the Special Projects Office, a brand-new creation whose mission was to build, outfit and maintain the rapidly growing fleet of Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines.
            The United States had land-based missiles which targeted our Cold War opponent, the Soviet Union, but the Russians doubtlessly had these silos targeted as well, so now we were developing these big nuclear powered submarines which could sail submerged for months, and always be ready to launch their missiles at enemy targets. That gave the United States a much more credible deterrent.
            Having just come from four patrols as a weapons officer in a ballistic missile submarine, I had lots of experience to pass along to weapon crews aboard  submarines who were completing construction, and loading their first Polaris missiles. 
            Our small staff was headed by Captain “Pappy” Sims, who had recently commanded an SSBN, and before that a diesel submarine and a submarine tender.  The staff was made up of some unique characters, all with submarine experience.  Our job was to head a team that would descend upon a submarine as it prepared to load missiles, and stay with each crew until they fired their test missile launch at Cape Canaveral, and then loaded their nuclear-tipped missiles and started on patrol.
            The civilian team we headed was a wild and wooly collection of the best and the brightest from Lockheed, the missile manufacturer; Sperry, the navigation system; Westinghouse, the launcher; Hughes Aircraft, the guidance system; G.E., the fire control system; the Shipyard, and so on.  All of these men were brilliant, but didn't often fit in to the buttoned-down military pattern.
            Since this was a brand new program, and had number one priority to get submarines to sea on schedule with reliable missiles on board, aimed at targets behind the Iron Curtain, we didn’t hear much about budgets.  If it was needed, we got it. If there was a person at one of the many companies that supported this operation who needed to be here, one of us would call him, and he came, right away.  While the rest of the Navy in these days before Viet Nam  was scrimping for funds, we weren’t.
            We traveled.  I was always on a plane, flying to Sunnyvale, CA to visit the missile plant, or to Seattle, WA or Charleston, SC to work with a submarine crew loading missiles; and we’d spend a month at a time with each submarine at Cape Canaveral, near Cocoa Beach, FL.  
            We’d also fly to Holy Loch, Scotland; Rota, Spain; or Pearl Harbor, HI to visit submarines as they returned from patrol.
            Our head navigation advisor was a commander named Bosquet Wev, nicknamed Biscuit.  His reputation went back to the Naval Academy, when he was allegedly the mastermind in the Class of 1952 that dismayed officials at the last full-dress parade for that class, when all the midshipmen in one company left their shoes in place on the parade ground.  Biscuit was the quintessential party man, and being in our small staff was just right for him. 
            When he wasn’t advising new navigators about the intricacies of the inertial navigation systems that guided our submarines and provided super accurate information to our missile navigation systems, he was cooking up a party. 
            We were all down at Cocoa Beach getting ready for a missile launch from a new submarine the next day.  Captain Sims and Rear Admiral Levering Smith, the Director of Special Projects, came down and there was another admiral visiting. We had a cocktail party for them all.  This was when Pappy wanted all of his officers on hand, to visit with the admiral and informally report on their view of the current submarine and its crew.  Biscuit was nowhere to be found.  Without our wives here, the party was not too fancy.
            After the admirals had gone to bed that night, Biscuit finally came in, beaming with a wide smile.


            He had been out to a party and had a wonderful time with a “Mrs. Parker”, and a whole group of Gemini astronauts.  “Mrs. Parker” was the married name for Actress Shirley MacLaine.  At that time, her mind was “out there” with extraterrestrial spirits, and she enjoyed hanging around the astronauts, although all of them were far more pragmatic about outer space.  Many years later she said she found a kindred spirit in a presidential candidate (Kusinich)  who wanted to move his campaign headquarters to Roswell, New Mexico. I think she is still interested in space aliens.
            Although Biscuit thought that hobnobbing with MacLaine and the astronauts was far better than visiting with the admiral, his boss was not impressed. 
            As for characters, Joe Kosek, Lockheed’s trouble shooter for missiles, was memorable.  He was a red-faced, round little man, and what he knew about missiles was legendary.  No matter what the problem any one detected aboard a Polaris missile, Joe would squeeze his ample body into the missile midsection, or scramble down beneath the nozzle assemblies, and figure out what was wrong, and usually fix it.
            Like Biscuit, Joe was also the man of the hour at party time, and there was always a party after a missile launch.
            Launch Day for a new submarine crew was the grand performance, when the admiral would board the boat, along with all of us, and we’d go out to the launch area and submerge.  Often there would be a Soviet intelligence trawler in the area, so the U.S. Coast Guard would have to handle that, to prevent any interference with the launch.  There’d also be a downrange support ship, fully connected to all the instrumentation on the submarine.
            The crew would go through the complete countdown, exactly as they would if they were launching in wartime, but with all of us extra personnel on board, checking on the telemetry from the instrumented missile.
            Then the large missile door would open, the whole boat would be silent with suspense, there’d be a whoosh!!, the boat would shudder a bit, and off the missile would go. 
Usually, in addition to the missile,  there’d be a simulated launch from other tubes--  17 tons of sea water and a sabot, (a large plug),  from each tube, and the test would really simulate the work of the missile launcher. 
USS Ethan Allen

The first actual missile firing, with a nuclear warhead, took place from my submarine, USS Ethan Allen, operating off Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean in 1962, and it was into the Kwajalein Missile Test Range.  With the nuclear test treaties that were later signed, such a test was no longer possible. 
There were many missile tests without the nuclear warhead, of course.
It was fun being a “Washington freebooter”, but I was glad to go back to sea after two years.

Now, the Personal Navigator has books and papers to offer:

Gringo Builders [Signed by author]  by Allhands, James Lewellyn 1931 Joplin, MO: Privately Printed by J.L. Allhands.  Author, J.L. Allhands (1879-1978), of Joplin, MO and Dallas, TX, a railroad construction man, writes about the building of railways in South Texas at the start of the Twentieth Century. This book is a rich source for Texas history, focused upon building a transportation system conceived by Col. Uriah Lott, who interested B.F. Yoakum in the project. Tale of drunk Negro and author and Texas Rangers convert him to Teetotaler. King Ranch and the building of the Brownsville Railroad. History of Corpus Christi. Brownsville and Rio Grande Rwy. Co.  St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railroad. Madonna of the Rails--women pioneers in railway construction. The first big water projects: irrigation, cultivation canals and the development of the Rio Grande Valley. Robstown to Bay City. Brazoria. Gulf Coast Lines East of Houston. Port Arthur and Sour Lake. With Index. 297 pp. 15 x 23 cm. Dark green  cloth on board, gilt printing. Author signature on front free endpaper. Title page has light horizontal stains. Very good. (2662) $119.00. History/Railroads/Texas

Gerit Smith's Speech to the Congress on The Nebraska Bill, April 6, 1854 by Smith, Gerrit 1854 Washington, DC: Buell & Blanchard, Printers. Gerrit Smith (1797-1874)  was a Congressman from New York when he made this speech,  a stirring call to abolish slavery, and fighting against slavery in Nebraska and the Nation. "This nation holds, in the iron and crushing grasp of slavery, between three and four millions, whose poor hearts writhe and agonize no less than would ours, were their fate our fate. And yet, she is not content even with these wide desolations of human rights and human happiness. On the contrary, she is continually seeking to extend the horrid realm of slavery.... there is imminent danger, that Nebraska and Kansas will be wrested from freedom, and added to the domain of slavery and sorrow."  Smith was a more vocal opponent than most of the abolitionists, including even Garrison. Shortly after this speech he became so impatient with Congress that he resigned, and began more aggressive and violent work in freeing slaves.  24 pp. 15 x 22 cm. Paper booklet, pages worn, first sheet loose, poor. (7626) $45.00. History/Slavery

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: Report of the Legislative Committee from the State of New York to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Albany, January 15, 1910. 1910 Albany, NY: State of New York. New York State was the only state east of the Rockies to vote to appropriate money to take part in this exposition, held in Seattle, Washington  in 1909. Book provides summary of entertainments sponsored by New York, text of major speeches, including one by N.Y. Gov. Charles Evans Hughes. Considerable text is devoted to celebration of Seward Day, Sep. 10, 1909, when a statue of the great Secretary of State William H. Seward was dedicated. His son, General William H. Seward, took an active part in the celebration. Interesting photos of interior of New York State Building, and of various New York participants. 197 pp. 20 x 28 cm. Red cloth on boards with gilt lettering and State seal of New York. Spine fabric faded and mottled, front and back hinges cracked, one illustration page loose. Poor. (1464) $39.00. History/Biography

 Self-knowledge: A Treatise

Self-knowledge: A Treatise, Shewing the Nature and Benefit of that Important Science, and the Way to Attain it. Intermixed with various Reflections and Observations on Human Nature. by Mason, John, A.M. 1778 London, England: James Buckland at the Buck in Paternoster Row. Famed Non-conformist's Treatise discusses aspects of self-knowledge; overcoming temptation; humility; abstinence; knowing our natural tempers; fervent and frequent prayer. 228 pp. 11 x 17 cm. Calf on board, top and bottom of spine, edges of cover rubbed and worn. Poem by Cowper penned in ffep in 18th c. hand. Pen marks in book mark key passages. Owner inscr. Good. (1311) $70.00. Religious/Educational/Philosophy.

Sermon Delivered at Leominster, On Leaving The Old Meeting House, October 12, 1823; Sermon delivered at the Dedication of the New Meeting-house, October 15, 1823 by Conant, Abel 1823 Worcester, MA: William Manning Abel Conant is an able speaker and preacher; traces history of Leominster in two sermons: One on leaving the old meeting house, and the other on dedication of a new meeting house. 35 pp. 15 x 24 cm. Paper pamphlet, worn, pages foxed, some unopened. Good. (1829) $29.00. Religious/History/Ephemera.


Thursday, May 26, 2011


            This is a special Memorial Day for me, and for other friends of a fine old Marine aviator named Donald J. “Mac” McCarthy.

            It will be the first one that he becomes one of the fallen American patriots that we remember on this day each year.  He died last January, at the age of 79.
Mac spent a career as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He flew attack jets off aircraft carriers conducting raids over North Viet Nam.  Before and after that he flew jets from land bases and other carriers over a large part of the world.  He represented the U.S. Government in our Embassy in Kuwait, and commanded a Marine Air Base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima, Japan.
That was where my wife and I met Mac and his wife, Jennifer.  I was commanding a naval base a few hundred miles to the south, and we visited Iwakuni and started a friendship that has lasted for 26 years. 
We came to Rockport a few years after I retired from the Navy, and the McCarthys decided to move here a couple of years later. 
Mac quickly found a place for himself on town committees, and later served as a member of the special committee created to look after the building of Rockport’s fine new Police Station. 
Mac joined the American Legion, and loved taking part in the annual Memorial Day parade.  He was the featured speaker one year.
It was on November 10th every year that you really saw Mac’s true colors, and they were the Scarlet and Gold of the Marine Corps.  He loved the Corps, and celebrated the Corps’ birthday vigorously every year.  
Last November, Mac, in failing health, made a very special effort to attend the annual Marine Corps celebration, held at the home of Captain Phil Zeman, USMC (Ret.).
We remember all the times when Mac was in great health, though.  He loved to go skiing.  One time he took the McCarthy dog, a blond Labrador named D’Arcy, on a walk in Dogtown.  Like other Rockporters who have ventured into those wilds, he went far farther than he expected, and wound up over near Addison Gilbert Hospital.
Mac and I loved to discuss politics, whether it was the situation in Iraq or Afghanistan, what the president is up to, and most especially, the latest events in the drama of Rockport’s Board of Selectmen and other town organizations. 
A few times it appeared that there were no or not enough good candidates running for selectman and Mac helped form a committee of interested citizens to find good people to volunteer to run. 

Pete Foss and Mac McCarthy on the campaign trail in Rockport

This picture will always remind me of one of those campaigns, when Mac pulled out all the stops to support a candidate.  Mac was instrumental in forming groups to campaign for several  candidates.

Another fine American has gone.  I miss Mac.

            Semper Fidelis, old friend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Memorial Day in Rockport


Police Color Guard

Memorial Day is a beautiful old tradition in the North, originating after the end of the Civil War. It’s been an important event in this little town of Rockport since 1868.

I’d like to tell about a recent Memorial Day here.

We’ve had an awful lot of rain, but now everything is green and beautiful, and Memorial Day dawned warm and promising.  I put on my service dress white uniform, which fit like a sausage.  Static pressure on the choker collar was adequate.  Shoes, purchased about 1983, didn't start to produce blisters until the return march.  I figured the fact that part of my midsection wanted to escape from the sword vent just showed that I have been taking nourishment regularly.  My wife Marty advised that if I stayed with my arms by my side no one would observe. 
Then I walked  a quarter of a mile to the place where the crowd was gathering, at the American Legion Hall at Back Beach. It was a lovely day for a parade.  As I stood there, chatting with men who had fought in World War II, Korea, Viet Nam the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan, I could look out over the Atlantic Ocean
Then the march began.  There was the Rockport police color guard, the Rockport volunteer firemen color guard with their chrome-plated fire axes...  our five selectmen, nicely dressed. Then there was the American Legion color guard, men and women of all ages, shapes, uniform types, bearing the National colors, the MIA flag, etc. Then there was the Rockport high school band. 
After that came the Legion rifle squad, led by a very sharp USMC Captain, just back from Iraq, wearing dress blue with sword. After that came our group of officers and men from 1941 to 2010 or so, in all uniforms and parts of uniforms, or with civilian dress and Legionnaire hats. I marched today with a reserve Navy Captain who is a SEAL; and an aviation Master Chief.
            Then came Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, the Legion Band, the Middle School Band, and the Ladies' Auxiliary, and several cars carrying older veterans. 
            After a half-mile march through downtown, with plenty of spectators watching, we arrived at Beech Grove Cemetery, and the people who had been watching us march streamed into the cemetery. 
            It was a beautiful scene, hundreds of Rockporters, many carrying little American flags, standing under the lush green beech trees.  
A sharp-looking young Navy Commander was Master of Ceremonies; his mother, an Army Nurse who served in World War II, was also in uniform, in the parade. There were patriotic songs, honoring the veterans who have died in the past year, and a beautiful procession of little girls in their best dresses, and little boys in dark short pants and white shirts.  The girls put bouquets of flowers on a grave honoring WWII dead and unknown soldiers from past wars, and the boys put down flags.  This year I didn't see any of the boys sword-fighting with the flags first.
            Then there was the poem about the Poppies in Flanders Field, and an address delivered by a young USAF Lieut. Colonel Reservist. 
            The rifle squad fired three volleys, and a bugler played taps with “echo” from another bugler farther off.
Chief of Police and Sea Cadets at Lumber Wharf
Photos by Barbara Brewer

Then, we marched back to town, and down to Lumber Wharf, where we honored those lost at sea.  Boy and Girl Scouts threw wreaths of flowers on the water, the band played The Navy Hymn, and the rifle squad fired away.  At both ceremonies local ministers delivered invocations and benedictions.
            After that, we marched back through downtown, and to the Legion hall, to disband.  It felt like time to pop out of that tight uniform and have a nice, cold beer. 
            I am glad that Rockporters cling to this fine old tradition.

Here are some books and papers from The Personal Navigator:

Memoirs of the Harvard Dead in the War Against Germany, Vol. I, The Vanguard by Howe, M.A. DeWolfe1920 Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.  Volume I the Vanguard includes the memoirs of thirty Harvard men whose deaths occurred before the United States entered the European War. Over 360 Harvard men died in World War I, and these are included in Vols. II through V. This volume contains the memoirs of George Williamson '05, Edward  Stone '08, André Chéronnet-Champollion '02, Harold Marion-Crawford 11, Calvin  Day 12-14, Carlton  Brodrick ’08, Harry Byng ’13, Henry Farnsworth ’12, Charles Cross Jr. 03, Archibald Ramsay 07, George Taylor 08, Allen Cleghorn (Instr), Crosby Whitman '86, Merrill Gaunt, Victor Chapman ’13, Clyde Maxwell '14, Alan Seeger '10, Henry Coit '10, Robert Pellissier '04, John Stairs (Law '14), Dillwyn Starr '08, William Lacey DMD '13, Norman Prince '08, Edward Sortwell '11, Edgar Shortt '17, Henry Simpson '18, Howard Lines (LLB '15), Lord Gorell (Henry Barnes) (Law '04), Addison Bliss '14 and Henry Suckley '10. Many colorful stories of the heroism of fine young Americans, Britons and Frenchmen. 200 pp. 15.6 x 23.7 cm. Red cloth on board with gilt page tops, title in gilt, cover bright and clean, spine sunfaded, several pages unopened, very good. (1742) $49.00. WWI/Biography

 Treat 'Em Square: The National Ex-Service Mens Magazine, May 1922 Haimes, Robert, Editor.  New York, NY: Treat 'Em Square, 33 Union Square. Cover shows soldier holding flag with Capitol in background. Lead story: "Politicians Tricking Soldiers on the Bonus--Declares Francis"--"the plain truth about the bonus is that the (Harding) Administration is afraid to pay it in the right way."  "Canadian Pension Board Makes Generous Provision for Disable War Veterans, Their Dependents, For Children Yet Unborn".  "Baseball booming, says Judge Landis".  Editorials: President proposes sales tax to pay for bonus.  Treat 'Em Square is distributed exclusively by ex-Servicemen. On Sporting Page is photo of Babe Ruth demonstrating his batting stance for Belgian General Baron Jacques. Ad for "Knights of the Ku Klux Klan" -- an institution of chivalry, humanity, justice and patriotism.   32 pp. 20 x 27.5 cm. Periodical, slight wear, very good. (7846) $45.00. World War I/Propaganda

 Boy, Goat and Officer aboard USS Monadnock, ca. 1901

Gun and Torpedo Drills for the United States Navy, prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department by Lieutenant Edward W. Eberle, U.S.N. 1901 Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute. Author Eberle (1864-1929) graduated from the Naval Academy in 1885, and wrote this book, the first of its kind, after service as turret officer aboard USS Oregon  in the Spanish-American War. Later, in 1923, he became Chief of Naval Operations. Drill of 3, 4, 5 and 6-inch rapid-fire guns for five or six men per gun: Captain, Plugman, Loader, 2 or 3 Shellmen. Drills for 5, 6, 7 and 8-inch quick-fire guns with seven or eight men per gun.  Includes detailed instructions and commands for loading, unloading. Drill of a pair of 8-inch B.L.R. mounted in turret, with an ammunition-lift for each gun, 10 men, five for each gun. Drill for pair of 10, 12 or 13-inch B.L.R. mounted in turret. Secondary gun drills, including 1-pdr. Maxim Automatic Gun. Detailed notes for Turret Mounts. Smith and Wesson Navy Revolver. Krag-Jorgensen Rifle (.30 inch). Torpedo Drills for Whitehead Torpedo. Details on Whitehead Torpedo.  Tables for Schedule of Exercises, Regulations for Target Practice, tables for Subcaliber Practice. For Torpedo firing, Range Table.            . 222 pp.          10 x 14.6 cm. Leather cover with gilt lettering and Naval Institute seal, with cover flap. Text on high-quality fine paper. Inside front hinge cracked. This copy issued to Commanding Officer USS Monadnock. Leather flap has 6 cm of biopredation along fold.  Fair. (7976)  $180.00. Naval/History

United States Naval Institute Proceedings, February, 1942, Vol. 68 No. 468 Church, Albert T., Rear Admiral, USN, Editor. 1942 Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. World War II issue includes photos of early aircraft including Wilbur Wright's Hudson River flight in 1909, Navy's first pontoon-equipped plane, 1912, Navy's first use of aircraft in near-war conditions at Vera Cruz in 1914; photo of USS Texas with scouting plane launched by catapult, used in fleet maneuvers for first time in 1919, and USS Langley, Navy's first aircraft carrier. Color reproduction of painting showing Naval engagement between USS Enterprise and HMS Boxer, September 5th, 1813.  Lead article: "U.S. Naval Aeronautic Policies, 1904-42" by Henry Woodhouse.  "This New FM" by John R. Howland discusses new frequency modulation method of radio communications.  The Germans have it; the Russians do not.  "Leaves from a Greenland Diary" by Commander J.L. Allen, USN, includes several photos from Greenland and the Arctic. Photo of captured Japanese submarine of the type used in Pearl Harbor attack, also photo showing close-up of Japanese midget submarine; photo of USS Growler (SS215) being launched at Groton, CT, "a reply to the treacherous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." [NOTE: Growler had a distinguished record in World War II until she was sunk by unknown cause in November 1944 while on patrol, with all hands lost.]  Also photos of destroyers Doran (DD634) and Earle (DD635) being launched. Both destroyers were launched Dec. 10, 1941 at Boston Navy Yard, 3 days after the Pearl Harbor attack. "Notes on International Affairs" by Professor Allan Westcott includes United States Declarations of War and President's Message to Congress, also German-Italian Declarations. Westcott has been preparing this section in Proceedings since 1915. 156 pp. + adv. 17 x 25 cm. Paper periodical, minor soiling of cover wrap, very good. (7955) $28.00. Navy/World War II

Voice of Britain, The: Churchmen, Statesmen, Publicists, Doctors, Scientists and Sportsmen on Hitlerism by Austen Chamberlain, Sir; Churchill, Winston; Lloyd George, David; Barrie, James; Archbishop of Caterbury, et al. ca. 1934 London, England: McCorquodale & Co. Ltd. Collection of statements by prominent British citizens against the rise of Hitlerism, particularly the racial attacks on Jews in Germany. Includes statements by Archbishops of York and Canterbury, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, leaders of the United Methodist Church, Rt. Hon. Sir Austen Chamberlain, Rt. Hon Winston Churchill, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George, the Late Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Rt. Hon. Walter Elliot, Rt. Hon. W.G.A. Ormsby-Gore, The Countess of Oxford and Asquith, editorials by J.L. Garvin, Editor of The Observer, Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Sir William Arbuthnot Lane and Tennis Champions Austin and Perry. 16 pp. 13.8 x 21.4 cm. Pamphlet, very good. (7813) $45.00. World War II/Anti-Fascist

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pushing a Hudson Across Texas

This looks like Jim's 1940 Hudson

Jim Hollingsworth.  Jim and I were often inseparable in high school.  We got involved in a lot of adventures.
One time we and another friend met several Portuguese sailors who had come to Port Arthur on a Portuguese Navy tanker, Sam Bras. They spoke little English, and we spoke no Portuguese, but we thought we’d show them around town, and took them to our house for supper.  My mother, who spoke Spanish, was delighted to converse with them. Then we took them back to their ship. 
                 The next night they treated us to a lavish supper served on their ship’s upper deck, in the open.  We all helped ourselves out of a huge platter of rice and sausage and seafood, with lots of red wine.
                 One of the sailors got so attached to America that he decided to jump ship, and he asked us to help him make the break from the ship past immigration authorities. 
                 We agreed to meet him down at the local Greyhound bus station late at night.  We (Jim, our friend Doug DeCluitt, and I)  drove down in Jim’s old 1940 Hudson, and searched for Manuel, but couldn’t find him.  We did find a large turtle that was nearby and we put that into a burlap sack. 
                 A short while later, perhaps acting on a report from Manuel’s ship, the Port Arthur police came searching for the missing sailor and caught us— three suspicious looking high school boys.  They began to search the Hudson, when they spied movement in a pile of burlap on the floor of the car.  The policeman pulled his pistol, and then searched more, perhaps expecting to find the sailor hiding there.  It was just the turtle. 
                That was the end of our attempt to aid in an illegal entry to the U.S.
                Manuel did indeed escape, though.  Years later we heard that he had made it to Danbury, Connecticut and was enjoying life there.

Pushing a Hudson across Texas…Jim’s old Hudson seemed to be getting more cantankerous as time went on. One summer we decided to go camping up in East Texas, and the Boy Scout Camp, Camp Bill Stark.               This was on Cow Creek, up in Newton County, famous for having the most varieties of poisonous snakes of any place in Texas.   We had been camping up here for years.
               Jim drove, and two other friends, Tommy Hughes and Doug DeCluitt and I pushed that Hudson, off and on,  some 60 miles to the north of Port Arthur.  At this time we felt like we were too old for regular Boy Scout activities, so we relied upon our status as “senior” Scouts, and asked for a campsite.
              The first night we thought we would make a nice meal of canned Dinty Moore beef stew and biscuits.  I mixed up the biscuit dough and put it into a pan on the fire, and then started to heat up the canned stew.  There was a can of water sitting there and I poured it into the stew, and started to cook it.
             The biscuits turned out great, and we spooned the stew into pans for supper.  After a day of pushing that car, and then hiking inside the Campground, we were hungry!
             But— My Gosh, that stew tasted terrible!  After only a bite or so, we were all getting sick. 
It turns out that the can of “water” I had poured into the stew was actually kerosene that someone had poured out to fill our lanterns. 
             We pushed that Hudson to a lot of places in Texas.   Sometimes you need to jump out of a car while it is in motion, but I learned that you do not want to do that in a 1940 Hudson.  If you jump out of the back seating area, you will discover that the rear doors open with the hinge at the rear, so the door scoops you up as you jump.
            This is another amazing thing I have learned over time.

 Jim Hollingsworth and wife, many years later

And here are some books and papers for your consideration:

Victoria’s) Grandchildren, copied from Oxford Photographic Gallery taken at Windsor in 1863. Followed by lead article, “The Queen's Grandchildren”, who are now the four children of the Princess Royal. Identified in photo are  Prince Frederick William, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Henry. Articles: "The Voyage of the Pigs"; "Broken Cisterns";  "Little-But-Bitter" ; "What Can I Do?" by Ancient Simeon; "Paul and his Donkey" by Cousin William; "Loved or Feared", a fable, by Rev. Paxton Hood; "Smyrna"; "The Truants" by Uncle Joe; More stories and illustrations, all with a moral lesson and religious teaching for youngsters. 236 pp. 9 x 14.5 cm. Maroon cloth on board, blindstamped with gilt decoration, gilt-edged pages, slight wear on edges. Inscription on front endpapers: "Presented to Sarah Jane Warburton by her sister alice April 1866" and "Mary Hannah Geening, June 1, 1868".  Very good. (7353) $59.00. Children's

Rosanna; or Scenes in Boston by the Author of "Three Experiments in Living", etc. First Edition by Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lee, 1839 Cambridge, MA: John Owen. Author Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lee (1780-1865) wrote her first book at age 52, and obtained a fine reputation as a writer of books to guide children morally.  In this book, Rosanna McCarty is a young Irish immigrant woman in Boston, and she fits the stereotype of the time:  Poor, Catholic, and intemperate.  Lee's use of Irish accent and her description of life among these poor folks is colorful and sometimes funny.  This book has been reproduced very frequently, but first edition copies are quite scarce. 134 pp. 11 x 17 cm. Brown cloth on board with blindstamped design and gilt title, cover very good, text block soiled at endpapers and foxed. Owner's name  "Elizabeth Pettee" written in pencil on front free endpaper.  Good. (7997) $75.00. Children's/Religious

Scenes of Wealth, or views & Illustrations of trades manufactures, produce & commerce for the amusement and instruction of tarry at home travellers with copper-plate engravings, by Rev. Isaac Taylor, 1826.  Hartford, CT: Oliver D. Cooke & Co. For children, takes them all over England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland to show how goods are made, and how England's 19th century economy works. Fascinating glimpses into life in this era. Straw work at Dunstable, cable making at Deptford, lace making at Buckingham, malt for beer at  Reading, mineral waters at Cheltenham, china at Worcester, pins at Gloucester, sugar trade at Bristol, the mines at Redruth, bullocks at Devonshire, pipe clay at Teignmouth, sail-cloth at Bridport, hogs at Hampshire, hops at Farnham, gunpowder at Battel, turnery-ware at Tunbridge, (whale) oil at Hull, paper-making at Maidstone, coals at Newcastle, buntine and shrouds at Sudbury, potatoes in Ireland, (with description of destitute poverty then prevalent in Ireland.) and much more. 168 pp. 11 x 18 cm. Marbled paper on board, with a "new" paper spine (perhaps 100 years old), cover well worn at edges, front hinge cracked,  pp. 91-92 two-thirds missing, bottoms of several pages frayed, poor. (4997) $49.00. Children's

Very Little Tales for Very Little Children in Single Syllables of Four and Five Letters, Second Series, First American from the Fifth London Edition 1845 Philadelphia, PA: Geo. S. Appleton, 148 Chesnut St. Tales printed in very large type: The New Born Lamb; The Bad Boy, &c.; Old Sly Sam (or Old Sam Sly); Poor Fan. 253 pp. 10 x 12.7 cm.  Blindstamped cloth on board, edges frayed. Front free endpaper torn, wrinkled.  Fair. (7787) $50.00. Children's

Mrs. Beeton's Everyday Cookery, new edition, with coloured plates and other illustrations 1912 London, England: Ward, Lock & Co., Limited.  Marvelous old English cook book with recipes for Blackbird Pie, Berlin Pudding, Betsy Pudding, Bloater Toast, Brain and Tongue Pudding, Brood Khutjes, Curds and Whey, Frimsel soup, Oatmeal scones, Ox-cheek Soup, Pig's Pettitoes, stewed, Jugged Rabbit, Boiled Salsify, many more. 752 pp. 13 x 20.5 cm. Decorated brown cloth on board, cover frayed and worn, some recipes are marked with ink borders, good. (3663) $37.00. Cookbooks

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Unforgettable Roommate, Art Aronson

Class of 1957 at formation, ready to man whaleboats

                Our four years at the Naval Academy began with two months of Plebe summer, and I remember that as endless drills, running, sweating, waiting to catch a boat across the Severn river to fire on the rifle range, sweating as we rowed the heavy old whaleboats, running an obstacle course, swimming, playing tennis, basketball, golf, marching drills, flying little seaplanes and landing in the river near the Academy, more marching, more sweating.    
I met Arthur Aronson sometime that summer, and he asked me to join him as a roommate, along with another young man.  When it was time for the Brigade to return for the academic year, we moved to our Plebe year room, in Bancroft Hall.

Art Aronson and another classmate on Midshipman Cruise, 1956

            I soon discovered that Arthur was a foreigner. He was a Jew, born in Krakow, Poland, and he and his family had been herded by the Nazis into the concentration camp at Auschwitz (Oswieczim), Poland.  Arthur ’s mother and sister died in the Camp, but he and his father had survived, and after the camp was liberated, they had made their way to London, and then eventually to New York City, arriving in 1948.  Arthur had somehow gotten sent to Houston, Texas and had spent a year at Rice Institute there.  Arthur’s English was so good that I had not realized he was a Polish Jew for several days. 
            Arthur was probably the most brilliant person I have ever met.  He spoke not only Polish and flawless English, but German and Russian.  He could gobble up whatever subject the Academy threw at us— Calculus, Thermodynamics, Steam Engineering, Naval Gunnery, Physics, English, History, Navigation, and then took the time to help his less brilliant classmates understand. 
            Art was also an excellent artist, and developed a cartoon style that he used to illustrate Naval Academy magazines all four years of his time at Annapolis.
                In the spring of 1955, in my second year at Annapolis, I took the train to New York with Art.  We went to see his New York stomping grounds and meet his father.  According to Art, his father was quite a ladies’ man.  However, also according to Art, during the war he had been one of several men at Auschwitz who were working in a factory building ammunition boxes for the Wehrmacht.  The crafty elder Aronson invented a way to build these wooden boxes so they looked fine when they were inspected, but when loaded with ammunition and in use in the field, the bottoms would fall out.  The Polish Jews also sabotaged socks that had been knitted in the camp for shipment to the Nazi soldiers on the Eastern front by quietly slashing through each box of socks, so that the socks were useless for protecting their wearers in the brutal Russian winter.
            Arthur and I, in our blue Midshipman uniforms, visited the United Nations on this short spring vacation in New York.  By this time, we both spoke a good bit of Russian, and enjoyed using it to converse without others being able to understand.  At the U.N. we visited the only conference of delegates that was in session at the time, a round table of women discussing women’s international issues.  We were both wearing headphones, which could be switched to hear the discussion in any of several languages.  We chose Russian, and were listening to this rather haughty, self-important Soviet woman say, “In the Soviet Union women have freedoms that women in other countries can only dream about.”
            When you are wearing headphones and talk with someone, unless you are careful you talk really loud, and so all of a sudden the women delegates around their circular table were looking at these two American midshipmen, talking Russian.  One had just said to the other, “Kakoi bol’shoi govno!” or, “What a load of (expletive)!”
            We were asked to leave.
            That same day we visited Rockefeller Center, or wherever Dave Garroway was having the Today show (1955),and joined the crowd of onlookers when the cast did their outdoors stand-up.
            When it was time to head back to Annapolis, we boarded the train at Grand Central.  On the train we sat near two young women, and Art, who was always more skilled at this than I, started a conversation with them.  One was reading her history text book, and we began to discuss it, and asked them where they were from, etc.   
            Art and I got off the train at Baltimore, and the girls continued on to Washington.  They were traveling from Boston to Washington for a visit with a friend there. 
            After we got back to Annapolis  I thought it might be nice to send a letter to one of those girls. We started an exchange, I invited her down for a weekend at the Academy, we later got engaged, and were married a day after graduation, on June 8, 1957.
             I can thank Art for arranging that meeting!

            Art Aronson, at right, in 2002.


Arthur died September 4, 2008, in Syracuse, NY. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hattie's Diary

 Pages in Hattie’s 1874 Diary

Women and men might enjoy looking into the life of a young girl living in Hancock, New Hampshire in 1874.  She is the most hopeful, optimistic and positive person you may ever meet. 

            Hattie Weston tells about her daily life with her mother, older brother Edward, and young brother Ned. In a diary covering one year of her life she completes her schooling and begins to teach her own scholars.
            There’s plenty of work for a woman in the home in 1874. She helps her mother with washing, and then ironing, and cleaning of the house. She writes that doughnuts she made were quite tough, but the biscuits were good.
 She attends meetings of the “Good Templars”, a temperance organization, and plays the organ, attends prayer services, and Sunday meeting. 
            One time she writes about attending a meeting, enjoying the sermon, but confesses that “my thoughts were wayward.” 
            For me, reading about the regular events in the life of this young woman makes her come back to life. 

In the nineteenth century in America Christmas was a tiny event compared to today.  It’s always interesting to me to see just how they did, or didn’t celebrate it. It was always very, very low key.  
            And they invariably write about people dying.  Many of their relatives and friends died young, and you get to share in their thoughts about life and death.  Also, there’s plenty of the fun that they have—going for sleigh rides on a snowy night, picking blueberries, going to the meeting house to watch lantern slides, watching as President Grant comes to town.  Or President Taft. 
            For me, it’s fascinating, and I hope you get a chance to share that!

In one diary I read a while ago, I felt like I was along on this young man’s adventure, as he left his home in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1862 and soon found himself fighting Confederate troops in Port Hudson, Louisiana. 

He mustered on Boston Common with other volunteers, getting ready to catch the troop train to the south.  Riding with other young men, all fresh green recruits, they disembark in Baltimore, Maryland, and suddenly they’re attacked by mobs of pro-slavery men.  
They get past that, then board a troop ship that takes them down Chesapeake Bay, out into the Atlantic, down around Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico.  Each night, at least one soldier dies, from disease or sickness.  There’s a quiet burial at sea.  Finally, they reach the Mississippi Delta and start steaming up the river, heading for their first encounter with Rebel forces.

Civil War:  Union troops dig trenches at Port Hudson on the Mississippi

After months at Port Hudson, his ship made it up to St. Louis, and he was discharged from the Army, while the War raged on.  He described St. Louis, with gangs of tough Irishmen who would kill you for the price of a gallon of whiskey, which was one dollar.

Each time you pick up one of these handwritten records of days long past, you have a chance to look in on a life in a fascinating time in America’s history, and read a personal account of how one person experienced it. 
This is not a slick piece of historical writing, not a scholarly work or a novel, but a piece of a real life being lived.  

            Then, there’s the life of C.W. Wheeler…. C.W. Wheeler is a farmer in northern Vermont when he keeps this 1875 Diary.  He wastes no words with idle musing, because he has an exhausting life of hauling wood, manure, straw, hay and more manure, planting crops, milking cows, raising hogs, breaking out (making roads passable after a snowstorm) roads, churning, thrashing, building fences, chopping ensilage, cleaning out stalls, building fences, cutting ice in cakes in the Black River, and accompanying the hearse to a few funerals. What does he do on Thanksgiving Day? He's breaking out roads. 

             The stories in these diaries and journals give a fascinating picture of a life in another time, with people visiting friends, and undergoing hard times and having fun, churning butter, playing the organ, dodging drunks in St. Louis or cutting ice out of a frozen river.  No telephones, no cars, no cell phones, no television.  How did they exist?

Here are a few diaries the Personal Navigator offers:

Hattie's 1874 Diary (Handwritten)   1874    Hancock, NH: Handwritten diary. ~400 pp. 6.5 x 10 cm.         Hattie Weston is a young girl living in Hancock Village in New Hampshire, and she is the most hopeful, optimistic, positive girl you will hope to encounter.  She writes about her daily life with Mother, Edward, younger brother Ned, her work in the house, her teaching scholars, and attending the "Good Templars", Temperance organization. She goes shopping in Peterboro. She plays the organ, and attends prayer services and Meeting. Last entry is Sunday, Oct. 25, 1874, when she writes that she went to meeting, enjoyed the sermon, but confesses that "my thoughts were wayward." This little diary gives reader a marvelous insight into a young woman's life in the last half of the Nineteenth Century Standard diary with almanac material, postage rates, currency, weights and measures, etc. printed in front. Pencil and ink entries for 60% of book, remainder blank. Mentions friends Lettie Goodhue, Ida Johnson. Leather diary, standard 19th century type, spine and leather closure flap badly suffering from biopredation, text block very good.      (8124) $48.00. American Originals/Ephemera

           Eliot Clarke's Diaries -- The Building of the Boston Sewer System

Three personal handwritten  diaries (1879-1881)  in the life of Eliot C. Clarke, Principal Assistant Engineer for Improved Sewerage, the man who built the Boston Sewer System 1878-1881 Boston, MA: City of Boston.  The man responsible for building and maintaining Boston's sewer system in the years after the Civil War kept these handwritten diaries of his work from Sep. 7, 1878 to Dec. 19, 1881.  Clarke was a prominent figure in Public Health and Civil Engineering in those days, and his work was interconnected not only with building, maintaining and expanding Boston's storm drain and sewer system, but the many railroads and horse railways criss-crossing the city, as well as streets and the system of collecting slops, house trash and ashes from residences and businesses all over the city, and collecting and disposing of dead animals daily.  Clarke gave papers at national Public Health forums, and wrote a mountain of documentation on Boston's sewer system, covering sewer design, interconnections, manholes, pumps, and sewage through pipes that could backflood during high tides, causing noxious gases to back up in cellars across the city. He found a solution in intercepting sewer systems, and described this in a presentation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1879, and later in a book published in 1885. His diaries record daily encounters with his fellow administrators and engineers, foremen, developers, builders, politicians and the public.  His writing is organized, literate and complete. 7.3 x 12 cm. Three small booklets one 9.7 x 15 cm, pages nearly all filled; two 7.5 x 12 Standard 19th c. diaries, gilt edged pages, very good. In 1880 one-third of pages are filled out, in 1881, one-half are filled out. All very good. (8111) $480.00. American Originals/Engineering

Travel Diary of Mrs. Harry Worcester, 1954 handwritten by Worcester, Mrs. Harry 1954. West Swanzey, NH: ephemera 28 pp. 10 x 16 cm. Leather "Travels Abroad" Diary: Mrs. Harry Worcester records trip she and husband took from Keene, NH to NYC, thence from Idlewild Airport via KLM Lockheed Constellation first to Gander, Nfld, then to London, then to Brighton by train; Banquet at Strand Hotel; met Mayor Dudley; back to London, tour, then by train to York, touring, visit The Shambles, on to Edinburgh; touring Scotland, then to Glasgow and steamer to Belfast, N. Ireland; train to Dublin; Dun Laoghaire then steamer to Holyhead, and train for  Caernarvon, Wales; Criccieth to Bristol, then London; flight to Chaumont, France; Harry visited places where he trained during World War I; Neuf Chateau, Verdun; Paris, Chalons-sur-Marne; sleeper train to Basel, CH, then Lucerne, Zurich, then another sleeper for Calais; rough crossing to Folkestone, then to London; flight home on KLM Connie to Shannon, Gander and Idlewild.  Green leather Travel Diary (only 28 pages of entries) with unused pencil in loop, very good. (7644) $30.00. American Originals/Travel/Ephemera

Diary of a Farmer in Northern Vermont

Wheeler’s 1875 Vermont Diary.  Handwritten. N. Craftsbury, VT: ephemera. Mr. Wheeler lives on farm in North Craftsbury, VT in the Northeast Kingdom part of the state.  This diary is a record of his work and it makes one weary to imagine breaking out roads full of snow in winter, which lasts long in northern Vermont. He's hauling logs, manure, freight, straw, hay, and more manure.  He's cutting firewood, and harvesting corn, wheat, digging potatoes, butchering hogs, milking cows, making butter, and sugaring.  He notes weight of sugar he "sugars off" each day in spring. In between he uses his wagon to accompany hearse at funerals. He cuts cakes of ice from the Black River and hauls that away, and he builds fences, cleans manure from stable, and chops ensilage. On Thanksgiving Day he has to break out roads, and on Christmas Day it is work as usual.  Diary has usual almanac data, time differences, interest table, value of gold and silver coins, dates of festivals, postage rates, 1875 eclipses. ~160 pp. 7 x 15 cm
Standard 1875 diary, white cloth with foldover cover, staining on spine, good. (8133) $42.00.  American Originals/Ephemera

"Sleepy Head" Photo ca. 1880 16 x 14 cm. Photo of young woman and two men sitting on porch of house, and other woman sitting on grass in front of house.  Inscr. on photo: "compliments of Miss Sleepy Head" Photo very faded. (1728) $16.00. Ephemera/Photo

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