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Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
Issue 23November 1997Volume 2 - Number 12

Welcome to the CANDOER News. Suggestions as to what you would like to see in the CANDOER are welcome. Letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees, past or present, will be published, unedited. Material may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (disk will be returned) using WordPerfect Version 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics), on a plain sheet of paper (if it has no graphics) or via e-mail. The deadline for submitting material is no later than the 25th of each month. Material received after that date will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER, space allowing. Please, restrict articles/submissions to two single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.

The snail-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:

Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
Publisher/Editor CANDOER News
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062


The following letter was received from Warren Spurr:

September 27, 1997


Enclosed is a contribution to your funds. You are doing a great job, and its real good to hear about a lot of people that I used to know, and also some that I didn't know.

I hope to get to the Phineas luncheon again when you all get together in Maryland.


The following E-mail message was received from the Kleiman's and is being repeated here with their permission.

September 29, 1997


The following are easier rules for lawn care by retired communicators (and spouses):

1. Measure your yard and determine square footage (ask children or grandchildren for help with this). Go to local hardware store/mega-mart and get enough cement to cover square footage of yard.

2. Mix cement (follow instructions on bags). Spread over yard and allow to dry. When cement is dry, paint it in any one of many lovely green or green-blue shades available at your local hardware store/mega-mart.

3. Go out into your neighborhood and volunteer the time you've saved in lawn care and share your experiences at a library, a hospital, a school, fire department, local historical site, recreation area, etc.

Sincerely, a retired communicator and retired F.S. secretary who have some kind of lawn that always seems to need mowing.

/s/Joel and Kathryn


This issue is dedicated to stories from CANDOERs reporting what they were doing at the time President Kennedy was assassinated, November 22, 1963.

Back by popular demand, color in the CANDOER logo.

The December issue will be an abbreviated issue, I hope to keep it to eight (8) pages or less. In addition to the CANDOER News, you will receive the Directory of Members (1998 Version). Jim Prosser's article "Trans-Siberian Railroad Voyage Journal" will resume with the January issue.

In a short note from one of our members, it was suggested that I could save space by eliminating the "jokes" sprinkled throughout the News. I would like other members comments on this, should I continue the HUMOR section and "short one liners" or stop them?


Samson and the Milkman

by Jim Steeves

In the mid seventies milk was still delivered to houses in Ireland by milkmen. They delivered milk, cream or whatever, right to the front door. Milk and cream was in one pint bottles and the top was closed with a thick paper cap that was stuck down a bit into the neck of the bottle. Some of you other old-timers may remember such bottles in use in the U.S. way back before fire was invented.

Well, a black bird found all over Europe, had learned that a great treat was available to them if they'd peck that paper top off the bottle and drink the cream that had floated to the top. Anyone who got to their fresh milk after a bird had got to it poured it down the drain to avoid any disease the bird might have carried. So, it was important to be alert to the arrival of the milkman.

One of Samson's duties was to tell us when the milk was delivered. This he did faithfully every day but the method by which he did it left room for improvement. Wherever he was in the house when the milkman came, he ran like crazy to the front door and jumped up against it, barking like a fool. The real problem, as the milkman once pointed out to us, was that the front door was glass in a wood frame. I remember him saying that one day Samson was going to break that glass because he jumped so hard against it.

I don't remember why I was home on that day but I was and my wife and I were in one of the back bedrooms when the milkman came. Samson, right on cue, took off like a shot barking up a storm. Then we heard a crash. We rushed to the door and saw about half the glass, in ragged bits, still stuck to the frame and the rest outside in the driveway, with Samson. The milkman stood there looking like he was going to faint. Samson stood still, in shock. I rushed to him and found a slash under his belly and the front part of his right hind leg open to the bone. My wife got a blanket, we wrapped him up and headed for the vet whose "surgery" was two miles down the road. We didn't give a hoot about the front door and figured if the Tinkers (the Irish version of Gypsies.....from whom the expression "a Tinker's damn" comes) came they could take whatever they wanted. We had no children yet so Samson was our "son."

We were very fortunate. In spite of the many slashes he suffered, no serious harm was done. The vet put in a hundred or so stitches, kept him for a few days and he was as good as new. Except that, for a couple of days, I had to lift his leg for him. But I won't go into that.


The following CANDOERs attended the October luncheon at T.G.I. Friday's: Bob Berger, Cal Calisti, Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Lou Correri, Al Debnar, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Charlie and Dorothy Hoffman, Mel Maples, Babe Martin, Will Naeher, Tom Paolozzi, Ed and Dorothy Peters, Nate Reynolds, Doc Sloan, Don Stewart and Val Taylor.

In addition, I would like to give a big CANDOER WELCOME, to a new member who attended his second luncheon, Rich Modrak. (His first luncheon was at Phineas in September. I missed this luncheon.)

For the first time ever, a door prize, a $30 gift certificate toward the purchase of food at T.G.I. Friday's, was awarded. Tom Paolozzi was the winner of the door prize.

At the February luncheon at T.G.I. Friday's another $30 gift certificate will be awarded to some lucky attendee.

by Phil Blanchard

Jim Prosser and his wife Mary were in the Albuquerque area on October 15th. Don Woellert and I got several retired FS communicators living in the Albuquerque area together for a dinner with the Prossers. Dinner was at the County Line restaurant, a local establishment famous for its barbeque. Those in attendance were: Jim and Mary Prosser, Don Woellert and Charlotte Norwood, Marilyn Caffrey (Bob was unavailable), Glenn and Gladys Powell, Bill and Judy Weatherford, Bob and Ida Bell, Ramona Kludt, Alice Boynton, Bill and Dolly Markham, and Phil and Mary Blanchard. A great evening of reminiscing was had by all.


On September 26, I received a note from Doc Sloan. Doc indicated that another retiree, Hugh Hudkins was interested in joining the CANDOERs. I mailed Hugh my standard canned text about the organization and invited him to join.

On October 9, I received a letter for Gene Caruso. Gene furnished his new Area Code.

On October 10, I received a note from Sandra Williams. Sandra is now stationed in Bonn and requested information on the CANDOERs. I sent her my standard canned e-mail message, in which I also informed her that two of her colleagues, Jim Steeves and Jim Norton, were already receiving the CANDOER in Bonn and that she may want to get a Xerox copy from them, but if she preferred, I would be happy to include her in the monthly mailing. Her address and work e-mail address are shown in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

On October 12, in a conversation with Warren Spurr, I learned the address of George Getman. I sent George the standard canned letter and asked if he wished to join the CANDOERs. On October 23, George returned the Personal Data Form and a donation. You will find George's address in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

On October 18, I visited Mel and Darlene Bladen at their home in Calvert County. Mel and Darlene are doing well.

On October 20, I received a completed Personal Data Form and a donation from William Headrick. His bio and e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

On October 22, I received a letter from Ray Norris requesting information about the CANDOERs. Ray is assigned to Embassy Athens. I mailed my standard canned letter to Ray letting him know as an "old" OCer he was already a member but if he wanted the News he could either get a copy from one of the present members or send me a donation and start receiving his own. Ray's address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

On October 23, I received an e-mail message from Bill Hempel requesting that I change his primary e-mail provider from AOL to ATT. His new primary e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue and on the last page.


The FSRA Report

by Joe Lea

The first FSRA Luncheon of the fall was held at the Langford Resort Hotel in Orlando, a mere hour and ten-minute drive for us. The dinner menu was London broil, or catch-of-the-day. The speaker was Ambassador Tom Boyatt and he was well worth listening to. His theme was past and current cuts in personnel and funding, as well as the anticipation of further cuts in the future, and the effect of these cuts.

Bill and Pat Callihan also attended, as well as a number of acquaintances of both of us. We had a nice chat with John Sauls and his wife; John was in the code room on the midnight shift with me, way, way back when we were in the old building, the one that is now the Old Executive Office Building at 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue. He soon moved out of communications, but stayed in the Department throughout his career. He did not serve overseas but he did retire with an FSR rating.

A total of 120 people attended.


The following articles are all written by retirees, telling their story about what they were doing at the time President Kennedy was assassinated.

by Graham Lobb

I was the Evening shift shift supervisor the night the below telegram was sent worldwide from the Acting Secretary of State George Ball, to all posts overseas, late on November 22, 1963.. Some of the Communicators on duty that night with me were Kelly Harney, Vera Barone, Ann Price, Tom Mukai, Bob Hanlon, Milt Cochran, Georgia Cowan, and others that memory now fails me to recall.







On November 22, 1963, the "swing shift" reported for duty at 4:00 p.m., in the US Embassy Communications Center at Paris, France.

There was nothing unusual, but rather a routine evening as we relieved the "day shift." But, events, later that evening, would change many of our lives and that of all Americans in the years ahead!

The Embassy communications center operated on a twenty-four hour basis. It was, at the time, the largest communications center in the Foreign Service. The Regional Communications Officer was William P. Richmond. The Communications Officer was Donald Sedlacek. His assistant was Lillian Godek. I was one of the three shift supervisors.

In addition to the normal Embassy telegrams, we supported the U.S. Delegations at NATO, OECD and UNESCO; plus many supporting U.S. Government agencies. Our section contained 32 American employees; and a French PTT Wire-Room of 17. We also acted as a relay to French West African posts.

A leased radio circuit carried traffic to the Department of State. We also entered the U.S. military world-wide network at station RUFJ.

Our shift that memorial night contained ten Americans.

At 6:00 p.m., the Embassy offices closed. Telegrams were brought to the Center for processing before encryption and transmission. Part of the shift went to the Embassy restaurant; or a nearby French cafe for supper.

At 7:00 p.m., the second group departed for their evening meal when the Embassy telephone operator called to report; she received word from a French caller that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. The French caller had heard it on a radio station.

Within another hour, the French wire-room personnel had started to receive via TELEX messages of condolence from the French public.

Still we heard nothing from Headquarters at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Then high officials of the Embassy, along with Mr. Sedlacek, appeared to map a course of action while awaiting official word.

Ambassador Charles Bohlen was on leave and the Deputy Chief of Mission was Acting Ambassador.

At NATO, as I recall, the Ambassador was also on leave.

We continued to process telegrams until midnight when the "graveyard shift" came aboard. They arrived for duty not knowing about events in Dallas.

We received a telephone call indicating Vice President Johnson had been shot, but it turned out to be Governor John Connelly of Texas.

The first official word was received by the "graveyard shift."

At the Embassy, steps were taken to keep the lines of communications open by imposing LIMITEL. Only high precedence traffic was processed. Other telegrams were diverted to the diplomatic and air pouch.

Our shift, tired and emotionally keyed up, left for our apartments to get some rest. By the next morning the Paris edition of the "New York Herald Tribune" carried first accounts of the assassination. A drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald had shot and killed President Kennedy! He died at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One as Mrs. Kennedy and the official party returned to Washington.

The next day when we returned for work, long lines had formed outside the Embassy to sign the Book of Condolences. James Jones, a famous American writer, appeared to sign along with average French citizens. Many were in tears!

Later a second message was received from Headquarters.

This telegram read:




The Embassy then proclaimed November 25, 1963 -- a day of National Mourning and all official activities were suspended.

EPILOGUE: Later it was known that many high officials of the U.S. Government were traveling on official business; or absent when the shocking news was first received from Dallas.

Thirty-four years have passed, but I will never forget what turned from a routine shift to a crisis operation in the Paris Embassy Communications Center.

The Day The President Died
by Robert Reed

Although I was not a communicator on November 22, 1963, or even a member of the Department for that matter, I thought I would pass along what I was doing when I heard of President Kennedy's assassination.

I was a Deputy Sheriff in Broward County, Florida and had just been in a high speed chase that ended when the fleeing driver lost control of his car and crashed into a tree. As myself and two other deputies were attempting to remove the injured driver from his damaged vehicle, his radio still playing, we heard the announcement that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. We thought it was a joke at first, but soon learned it was true and that the president had been transported to a Dallas hospital.

We learned sometime later President Kennedy died from his gunshot wounds. I remember thinking what a sad day it was for America when some misguided idiot bypasses the electorial system of our country to remove a leader from office by assassination.

An Unforgettable Day - November 22, 1963
by Jim Prosser

At the time I was assigned as communications officer to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) in the Belgian Congo (now Zaire). My wife and I had just finished eating supper at home. She wanted to go to the movies with some friends, but I wasn't interested so I dropped her off at the theater. As I was an amateur (ham) radio operator I went down to the Embassy where we had a rather large shortwave voice and CW SSB radio station. Communicators were encouraged to maintain their skills as radio operators by using the Embassy station for personal calls around the world during off duty hours. It was the only post I ever heard where this existed.

I went into the radio room and in a short time had established a radio contact with a ham operator who just happened to be the flight engineer on an American Airlines flight which was heading into Dallas. After chatting a few moments, the flight engineer broke off briefly to make initial contact with the Dallas tower. He was advised President Kennedy had just been shot, relayed that bit of information to me and signed off quickly.

I was stunned. I didn't know what to think. I called upstairs to the code room and informed them what I had just heard. Within a few minutes, the terrible news was confirmed by a message from Washington and on the Voice of America.

By now it is about 2030, and we are telephoning key individuals of the Embassy. Within minutes the Embassy was full of staff members listening to the VOA, watching the teletypes click away with their stories on the Associate Press and Wireless File tickers in USIS.

Everyone was looking for information. The radio room and the communications center soon had it all.

It is one of those experiences I will never forget.

A Direct Order
by John Kennedy

In November 1963, I was in the Air Force's 6937th Radio Group Mobile at Peshawar, Pakistan. As a SSGT Shift Supervisor for some 25 non-Morse intercept operators. An additional duty was leader of a 12-man "Sabotage Alert Team."

We had completed an evening shift and several of us were starting to bowl a few games in the bowling alley. The duty officer came in, called for quiet, and announced that President Kennedy, the Governor of Texas, and possibly others had been shot. No additional information was known because the circuit back to the states had gone out after the first couple of lines. As luck would have it, our CRITICOM link via Tehran/Asmara/Washington was also out, due to atmospherics.

The Sabotage Alert Teams were to assemble and report to the armory at once. I instructed two of my team members to rouse the other team members and meet me at the barracks front door, ASAP. As we were gathering, one young member dashed out and started elsewhere. I shouted that he was not --- he was joining the rest of the team --- and that's a DIRECT ORDER!. It was the only one I ever gave.

We double-timed to the armory (even the Air Force can march if it has to) and waited at-ease with other teams for further instructions. At least a half hour passed before the armory OIC, with keys, arrived and weapons were passed out. I believe we were going to join or supplement the Pakistani Army guards on the perimeter fence around the antenna field. Fortunately, the duty officer arrived with the original and additional ungarbled messages regarding what had happened back in the U.S. We returned our weapons to the armory and were told to return and stay in the barracks where we could be located quickly if needed. None of us slept that night as we tuned in to short-wave broadcasts for details of the assassination.

The Day the President Died
by Willis E. Naeher

At about 2:00 p.m. on 22 November 1963, I was in the Department of State cafeteria eating my lunch. Grace Bagley, my Administrative Assistant spotted me sitting at the other end of the cafeteria with others. She came to me and said, "Jesus Christ boss, someone just shot the President!!!"

It did not take a brain surgeon to realize the impact this could have on the Department's fragile communications network and the communications center.

I immediately returned to the communications center and assembled the staff and asked for a status report, i.e., traffic volumes in each section, position strength, equipment condition, etc. I also asked that arrangements be made for the day shift to stay over, the evening shift to come in early, and the midnight shift to report a few hours early. I asked that the comcenter be purged of all traffic as quickly as possible, that each operation position be manned, and that the maintenance personnel remain over to make sure all equipment was working properly.

At the time we had a great deal of Telex and commercial file circuits. We had several leases connecting us to London and Paris as well as some military allocated circuits. We also had circuits to the Pentagon and CIA, who acted as relay centers to some of our Embassies. Locally, the only communications we had with the foreign embassies was messenger and delivery via Western Union. Interagency communications were spurious, except to those who had circuits with the military relays in Washington.

One of the staff asked me if I had seen the break room lately? I crossed the hall and it was full of people who had heard the news of the President's death and reported to work without waiting to be called. They were waiting for instructions. What a feeling of support ad dedication!!! They were quickly assigned to positions and soon all telegrams were processed and on their way.

At 3:26 p.m., "Limitel General" was imposed on the network.

Secretary Rusk's aircraft, en route to Tokyo was returned to Washington and all Cabinet Officers and National Command Authority successors were placed under strict security guard. It was assumed for a while that the assassination may be the precursor to an attempt to take over the government, al la "7 Days in May." Almost immediately messages addressed to "All Posts" began to flow. We immediately set up close liaison with Ben Reed, head of the Operations Center and the Secretary of the Department. This proved to be a life saver. However, before it could be put into effect messages began to arrive directing us to "send this message to the same addressees as the previous message." A quick call to Ben straightened this out.

At this time, we were using a rather archaic store and forward switching system, manufactured by Phillips Communications Company. The system used mechanical relays. Our maintenance personnel, under the supervision of Rick Hartman, used tooth picks to tune the relays. Several years later, when the Phillips system was replaced and powered down, thousands of tooth picks fell on the floor.

Almost immediately after the posts were advised of the assassination, the Ambassadors began to send in their resignations. When I told Ben about this, a "Flash Message" was sent to all posts directing them not to send in their resignations until specifically requested.

Telegrams began to arrive from the Foreign Embassies announcing their plans to attend the funeral. After some convincing, Mrs. Kennedy finally accepted their offers to attend and many telegrams were sent to the Foreign Embassies and to our Embassies telling them of times and places. Several telegrams were addressed to the "Governors of all States and Territories." This took about 54 addressees and had to be sent via Western Union. We sent a tape to them with all the addressees so that they would not have to cut one. Likewise, the addressees of the Foreign Embassies took about 64 addressees.

Physical security for the principals was a problem, as was transportation. Limousines became very scarce and were quickly imported from Philadelphia, Richmond, and Baltimore. Security forces in Washington were augmented by the National Guard and other military units in the Washington area. All known members of possible terrorist organizations were immediately placed under surveillance.

Editor's Comment: The above article, by Willis E. Naeher, was first published in Volume 1 - Number 4, Issue 4, April 1996. It has been repeated in this issue for the many readers who may not have been subscribers to the News at that time. End Comment


From time to time I like to present "how to" articles. Ed Ferry's two part article, Lawns - Lawns - Lawns, is a recent example of just one "‘how to" article. The following "how to" article is another in the series of instructional articles courtesy of your Friendly Neighborhood Editor/Publisher. Although not written by one of our retirees, I thought it was well worth publishing for the cat owners among us. This informative article was forwarded to me by Jim Gansel.

by Peggy Alhoff

1. Grasp cat firmly in your arms. Cradle its head on your elbow, just as if you were giving a baby a bottle. Coo confidently, "That's a nice kitty." Drop pill into its mouth.

2. Retrieve cat from top of lamp, and pill from under sofa.

3. Follow same procedure as in 1, but hold cat's front paws down with left hand and back paws down with elbow of right arm. Poke pill into its mouth with right forefinger.

4. Retrieve cat from under bed. Get new pill from bottle. (Resist impulse to get new cat.)

5. Again proceed as in 1, except when you have cat firmly cradled in bottle-feeding position, sit down on edge of chair, fold your torso over cat, bring your right hand over your left elbow, open cat's mouth by lifting the upper jaw and pop the pill in - quickly. Since your head is down by your knees, you won't be able to see what you're doing. That's just as well.

6. Leave cat hanging on drapes. Leave pill in your hair.

7. If you're a woman, have a good cry. If you're a man, have a good cry.

8. Now pull yourself together. Who's the boss here anyway? Retrieve cat and pill. Assuming position 1, say sternly, "Who's the boss here anyway?" Open cat's mouth, take pill and...Ooooops.

9. This isn't working, is it? Collapse and think. Aha! Those flashing claws are causing the chaos.

10. Crawl to linen closet. Drag back large beach towel. Spread towel on floor.

11. Retrieve cat from kitchen counter and pill from potted plant.

12. Spread cat on towel near one end with its head over long edge.

13. Flatten cat's front and back legs over its stomach. (Resist impulse to flatten cat.)

14. Roll cat in towel. Work fast; time and tabbies wait for no man-or-woman.

15. Resume position 1. Rotate your left hand to cat's head. Press its mouth at the jaw hinges like opening the petals of a snapdragon.

16. Drop pill into cat's mouth and poke gently. Voila! Its done.

17. Vacuum up loose fur (cat's). Apply bandages to wounds (yours).

18. Take two aspirins and lie down.

A Bomb at Heathrow Airport
by Jim Steeves

For years we traveled with our children, when they were from 3 to around 9 or 10, and at times we used tactics that would keep them from driving us or other people nuts. After even one or two hour flights, much less ten hours ones, kids tend to get restless. One thing they really enjoyed doing was something that was also useful - helping us locate our suitcases when we arrived at an airport. To avoid injury, we made sure they were not in anyone's way near the carrousel where suitcases dumped off the conveyor. One of them often spotted a bag - we generally traveled with two for each of us - before I did.

The practice nearly stopped, however, after a flight to London, from I forget where. We were only spending a couple of days in London then would fly on to the U.S. We arrived at the baggage area around 7 p.m.; the girls and I found and collected our baggage and we left for a taxi and a trip into the city without incident.

The following day, in the same place, and at about the same time, a bomb exploded killing several people and injuring several others. That was one of the times that my wife and I gulped; looked at each other and thanked God for our good fortune and asked Him to comfort the victims and relatives of the victims of that bomb.

We discussed whether we ought to stop letting the girls help us in the future and decided that there were too many places and opportunities for violence to occur. We realized that bombs could be put on aircraft; in cars or busses and that criminals (they are not terrorists, they're criminals) could easily target an American school or family to gain press attention. We thus decided to carry on as before and prayed that it would not happen again, or at least to us.

Strange Bedfellows
by James F. Prosser

Yvonne, one of our communicators assigned Kigali in 1980 had arranged with a British Embassy secretary and friend, Evelyn, to take their R&R leave at the same time in Athens. After an all day flight on SABENA via Bujumbura and Dar Es Salaam, they finally got settled in the Hilton Hotel in the early evening. They decided to share a double room so money would be left over for touring.

The first order of business was to go out about 9 p.m. and get something to eat. After an excellent meal washed down with some fine Greek wine, Evelyn said she was going back to the room and get some badly needed sleep in preparation for the next day's touring activities.

Yvonne said she couldn't sleep just yet after such a big meal, and was going to walk about the sidewalk cafes for about an hour or so. Evelyn took the room key and said the door would be unlocked so Yvonne could enter without waking her.

About midnight, Yvonne returned to the hotel, and went up to their room. Unfortunately, she wasn't paying attention closely and got off the elevator one floor too soon!

Walking down the corridor she found the door unlocked as expected and the room darkened. She didn't turn on the lights, but just took off her clothes and quietly slid into bed.

She was just about to doze off to sleep when the body next to her in the bed rolled over and Yvonne felt this very hairy male arm! She turns on the bed lamp, and finds a Greek man waking up out of a sound sleep. He is as surprised as she. She leaped out of bed, got dressed in a flash and said "Isn't this room 710?" He didn't understand, but opening the door she saw it was 610.

When she finally got into her own room, and bed, she again undressed and didn't bother to turn on the lights not wanting to wake Evelyn. But the events of the previous fifteen minutes had left her wide awake and starting to laugh uncontrollably to herself. She muffled it by putting the pillow over her face and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning, she explained to Evelyn what happened and they both had great laughs over it. Then, in the breakfast room, the man from 610 is spotted across the room. Yvonne decides an apology is in order and walks over to him. He spots her coming and didn't know whether to get up and run or what. She explained what happened, but doubted he understood it. Anyway, they both smiled and parted.

My First Post
by John Kennedy

After five years of Air Force shift work and two years of rotating shifts at DuPont, a feeling of perpetual jet lag was real. One night I heard a WCKY (Cincinnati) radio announcement about communications work for the Department of State. I applied. Paperwork followed and in 1966 I was hired, trained, and sent to Paris.

Having had no communications experience within the past 18 months meant that I was assigned as an S-10 Pouch Clerk at $4,640 per year. I was so happy to land a day job I would have worked with the char force! My housing allowance was more than my salary, and a meal with wine could be had for 4.90 francs at a neighborhood restaurant. No matter what others may say, I never took a date there for dinner --- only lunch.

The Paris Pouch Room had 6-8 personnel performing courier runs to NATO, OECD, UNESCO, the Blockhouse, the main APO, the Embassy annexes, and to the Consulates. One had to work their way up to delivering telegrams and classified letters to all offices within the Embassy. Back then, staffing permitted two or more secretaries assigned to every substantive office. Some treated the courier as if they worked in the pouch room on another planet. Others were happy to exchange pleasantries and invitations to social gatherings sometimes followed. Several had served at other posts and often had friends visiting. One brought tins of caviar from Moscow--so much that it was served on full slices of toast. It was my first caviar and I thought that was normal.

Courier runs to the consulates were via first-class rail. There was a trainside exchange in Lyon, and an overnight in Marseille and Nice. You returned to Paris on Friday, or occasionally spent the weekend in Nice and returned on Monday. The one-year rail pass had your name on it and could be used at any time to go any place in France. Very Handy.

In those days pouch material would fit in a briefcase...except for one trip with a lot of $20 gold coins. Embassies and Consulates used to keep gold coins on hand in case of emergency evacuation. When the coins were recalled it was discovered that the Embassy's supply was stored in an unused, unlocked basement vault. We helped a nervous B&F officer count every coin to ascertain none were missing from the 400 pounds or so.

Summers were busy. Paris had many CODELs and our FSN drivers were drafted or had to take their vacations. During such times, you would be a courier for a week and then be the driver for a colleague courier for a week. You were your own driver when meeting professional couriers at the airports during the week and on weekends.

EER time rolled around and I earned high marks for pouching, filing, etc., etc. But, my mark for driving was not as high. I pointed out that I had no accidents, never got lost, and I was always on time--why the lower mark? I was told that I didn't wash the car like a regular driver. They were quite right. It was a long time before I again questioned an EER.

As my tour neared its end, I was brought up to the Code Room for on-the-job training in preparation for future assignments. By then I was making $5,200 a year, but my favorite restaurant had closed.


A Copyrighted How To Article
by EJFerry



This brings us to our next event: April 1, the beginning of lawn maintenance. A few rules to follow:

1. Raise your lawn mower blade to its highest level, usually 3 ˝". Now that you have a thick lawn with few weeds, you keep it high to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Any weeds found at this time should be pulled out by hand. There will not be many, you will see.

2. Water your lawn to 1 inch, three times a week, all season long. Grass needs good seed, good soil and water to thrive. If any of these elements are missing, it will falter.

You can start cutting the grass as soon as necessary in March at the 3 ˝" level, but wait until April for the next fertilizer application. As before, use STA-GREEN (24-6-12) at the recommended rate, +1, for your spreader.

Relax and enjoy cutting your grass until June 1. On this date repeat the fertilizer application at the same rate.

Do the same thing again on October 1.

When October 1 rolls around gain, there is no need to scalp your lawn, just apply the fertilizer as before. I usually re-seed annually. This is your call, better more than less. It can only make it thicker!

If you follow the plan religiously, no more, no less, I believe you will have a beautiful lawn, the envy of the neighborhood.

NOTE: A Few general rules will also help ensure a good looking and healthy lawn:

Cut the grass in the shade or early evening hours when it is cooler, not in the bright sunlight during the heat of the day. This keeps the grass from drying up and burning out, not to mention less wear and tear on your body.

Watering should occur on a systematic basis early in the morning. The reason for this is the water acts as tiny prisms in direct sunlight, intensifying the heat and stressing the plant. In addition, evaporation is faster, not allowing full penetration down to the root system. Never water your lawn in the early evening. This allows for all kinds of diseases to occur during the night.

If, during the year, bare spots occur from pulling up the errant weed, use Compro, grass seed, and fertilizer in these spots to fill in. The key is planning and patience.


This paper is not intended to be the panacea for all lawns. Grading, shade, water runoff, and many other variables can play a part in the outcome of your lawn.

Nor is it intended to be an exhaustive scientific paper. Simply put, what is outlined here has worked for me over the past three years. It seems reasonable to assume that with proper care it will work for you.


See you next month.

Issue Index    Issue 24