Dad Changes Jobs!
In 1958, we moved to Fairchild A.F.B. near Spokane, Washington. I was in the 4th grade. I have a lot of great memories of my life there.
Dad was originally assigned to the O.S.I. detachment there and was contantly traveling. Being gone left us on our own and eventually caused problems. To solve the problems, Dad changed career fields and became a jet engine mechanic working on B-52 engines. We made Master Sergeant there and was assigned as NCOIC of the Jet Engine Shop.
The military didn't pay very well, I remember that dad was usually working 1 or 2 jobs on the side to help support us. But he always found time for us.
The Beatles and the Seattle Worlds Fair
In 1962,I was delivering News Papers and I won a trip to the Seattle worlds fair. In August 1964, the Beatles played in Seattle and I won a trip to Seattle to see them play. This was fantastic and they were the first two trips away from my parents.
Dad spent a lot of time in the Hobby shops. I'd grown out of the bike that I got in Germany. Dad found an old, rusted, bike in the local land-fill. He took it to the hobby shop, sanded it, and repainted it. I remember getting it for Christmas. That bike would also eventually be passed on to my brothers.
Dad also loved to work with wood. One of the only pieces of furniture that we had, (and I just refinished and gave to my grand daughter) was a desk that he made when he was a boy in a shop class in high-shool. While at fairchild, dad made my sister a complete set of furniture (baby cribs, dressor, chairs, etc.) I'm refinishing the cradle he made to give to my grand daughter.
When I was in the 7th grade, my teacher, Mr. Giebel used to bring his gas-powered airplanes to school and we would go out in the playground after school and fly them. I really wanted one. On Christmas morning that year, I opened my presents and found a gas-powered P40. I was really excited for the weather to get warmer so we could go fly them. However, dad's alter ego came out and I realized the plane was really for him. We would go out and he'd rationalize and say, "I have to learn to fly it so that I can teach you." Funny thing was that I'd been flying Mr. Giebel's planes for months. But it's all good.
We moved from flying to plastic plane to building our own out of balsa wood and paper. We built about 20 planes while stationed there. Dad taught me a lot about learning to work with wood be proud of what I built.
Toys to Learn With!
Mom and dad made sure that we were always learning something. From as early as I can remember reading, I always got great books. My favorite authors growing up Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, and Andre Dumas. I loved Science Fiction, devouring Andre Norton, Heinlein, Bradbury, Jules Verne, and Arthur C. Clark.
I always had science kits, microscopes, and things to experiment with. One of my favorite toys was the Invisible Man. I spent hours painting the human organs and learning to put them into the toy in the correct place and learning their names.
My best friend Ronnie Hassinger and I took an electronics class at the base hobby shop so that we could get our HAM Radio license. We had to learn all about circuits, transisters, and Morse code.
In the 60's, we didn't have organized sports like kids do today. If we wanted to play baseball, we grabbed our dad's weed-wackers and made a ball field out of an empty field. We played football in the streets and front yards.
However I did start playing baseball in organized leagues. My dad coached my first little-league ball team. I played 1st base and pitched. I spent hours in our basement throwing baseballs at a target I painted at one end. As I grew older, I played Indian League ball, traveling to different towns in Washington.
I also loved to play basketball. The base had a great gym and I spent all of my Saturdays at the gym playing basket ball. I started playing organized Basket ball in the 8th grade at Ray Junior High. However, Saturday mornings at the the base gym would continue. We also took lessons on the Trampoline, Hand ball, sqash, and Tennis.
In High School at Medical Lake High, I played Football, Basketball and baseball. When I we transferred to Louisiana, I played Basketball. When I moved to Japan, I played Basketball and baseball.
In February of my sophmore year, 1965, we were transferred to Barkdale A.F.B., in Louisiana. I remember being upset, because we were leaving during the last couple of weeks of the basket ball season and I wouldn't be able to finish the season. When I told the coach I was being transferred, he benched me because he "wanted to focus on the players who would finish the season." Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted.
In 1960, dad's friend, M.Sgt. Di' Francisco, who taught Judo to the Air Policemen on the base, decided to teach kids at the base gym. At the age of 12, I started taking Judo and continued martial arts, eventually switching to Karate, until I was 55.
My dad loved to fish. During the summer, he would take us out to Silver lake or one of the other lakes near Fairchild. We would spend hours fishing. I had a friend, Ronnie Hassinger, that I used to go fishing with during the summer. We would ride our bikes from Fairchild to one of the lakes, spend a day and then ride back. We never thought about whether it was safe. Mom and Dad didn't seem to worry about us.
When I was in the 8th grade, I began bowling. I had a friend, Aleta Taylor who I had a crush on. She and her brother got me to join their bowling league. I got hooked and enjoyed bowling for years after that. I eventually bowled on the University of Utah Club bowling team and averaged 203. Unfortunately, I was very competitive and couldn't enjoy a simple game of bowling with friends and family.
Cold War Life of A Brat!
Living on a S.A.C. (Strategic Air Command) base duing the cold war years surrounding the Cuban Missle Crisis of 1962, was really interesting. Air raid sirens would blast and we were expected to hit the ground and get under cover. Didn't make a difference whether we were home, walking around, or in school. Duck and Cover was drilled into us. Fairchild even had 24 hour drills where we were expected to stay in our basement until the "all clear" siren blew.
The simulators for the B-52s and KC-135's were in Railroad cars that traveled from base to base. One night dad came home and said there was an opportunity to visit one. We went and were offered the chance to "fly" a B-52. We "crashed" it. I had the opportunity to visit and get inside a B-52, KC-135's, B-58's, and several helicopters. In school we took a tour of a nearby Atlas Missle Silo and got to look up from under the engines.
One thing that I really enjoyed and helped me make friends quickly were the Youth Centers Teen Clubs that every base had. These were managed by an adult, but the programs were always run by the kids. I remember that while they were really an important part of my life, my brothers and sister, didn't participate as much.