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Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
Issue 26February 1998Volume 3 - Number 3

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


Hi Cat,

Thanks for the information and quick response to Will's request.

Your organization reminds me of the early days (25 years ago) of the founders of SIR. A California Corp. Of men retired from gainful employment. Five men started a luncheon group and it has grown to about 180 branches and over 30,000 members. We're called Sons In Retirement and exist only in Northern California.

I didn't find too many ex OCers in California. Looking forward to the next issue of the CANDOER News.

Best Regards,

Jack Hulbert


Samson's Traits

by Jim Steeves

That little dog sometimes really made us laugh. One thing that he did constantly almost betrayed how smart he really was. For example, in Dublin the trash was collected once a week. We had the standard trash barrel which was about half the size commonly seen anywhere in the U.S. I'd put that barrel out by the sidewalk in the late afternoon or early evening, often when Samson was running around sniffing this or that. Yet, during our last stroll up the street at night, he'd run around here and there and often suddenly discover that he was alongside a huge dark object which was that barrel and he'd scramble like crazy away from it; I mean his toe nails would dig the pavement. He never minded any other barrel but just couldn't get accustomed to that barrel being in front of our house once a week.

He did teach me a valuable lesson in humility. Some nights we went to a play or do something where he wouldn't have been welcomed and he caught on somehow that he was going to be left at home. He'd go somewhere in the house, usually in the hallway where we'd be certain to see him, and lean against the wall. He would not look straight at us when we talked to him and took no pleasure in being petted. His attitude could be described as "You are leaving the country and don't want me anymore?" "Have you any concept of the cruelty involved in such a thing?" "Have I done something that awful?" "Do you hate me so?" "Am I such a bad dog?" "You won't give me one last chance to show I can be good enough for you?"

But we'd go. On our return we would quietly enter the house and look for him. He would generally be somewhere that provided a view of the hallway but he wouldn't budge; not a move or sound. When one of us would call him though, he ran delightedly and welcomed us home. We were instantly forgiven the worst crimes imaginable and that was the lesson I learned. I can't claim to have practiced it as well as he did, but there has been a change.

I knew one other dog, also a silver poodle that Kathy Emmons had in Bonn, which behaved in a similar fashion except that Plato always found one item and ripped it to shreds while she was gone. Kathy usually took him to work and often to other places but when she went out with friends and Plato got left home, he had his revenge. I wonder if all poodles have such wacky characteristics. If so, I'd like to hear about them.


The following is an article that was published August 23, 1997, in the Erie Times-News Weekender, Flashback column. Herb Walden, the author, was born and raised in Waterford, PA. He is a retired science teacher, and a former high school classmate of mine.

Whatever happened to coffee can keys?
by Herb Walden

All too frequently, something comes along that makes me realize I'm getting old, uh, older.

Actually, it's not so much of something coming along as it is of something going away.

We're all aware of things going out of style, but there are little things that disappear so quietly that we don't miss them for awhile. And then a day comes along when we suddenly realize it doesn't exist any more.

For instance, whatever happened to coffee cans that opened with a key? For the younger generation, I don't mean the cans were locked. Coffee cans came with a little key soldered to the top. To open the can, you broke off the key and inserted a metal tab at the edge of the lid into it. As you twisted the key around the can, it peeled off a thin strip of razor-sharp metal and separated the lid from the can. Spam and some other canned stuff worked that way, too.

Depression child

We always had about 2,000 of those little keys in a kitchen drawer, just in case we ever got a can without one. I don't think that ever happened. (I'm happy to report that through exhaustive, personal research, I have found that some brands of canned corned beef still have the little keys, so they are not extinct. Endangered perhaps, but not extinct.)

If you know what a Sheaffer Snorkel was, then your getting on in years, too. It was a fountain pen. You dip the point into a bottle of ink, release the little lever and the fountain pen would suck up enough ink to completely ruin a shirt when it leaked out in your pocket later. I can't seem to find fountain pens in any of the stores any more. That's okay. I can't find bottles of ink, either.

Whatever happened to the little, red light on an auto dashboard that told you when your high beams were on? Oh, I know, I know, it turned blue and moved to some obscure location on the instrument panel where it goes largely unnoticed.

I was born at the tail-end of the Great Depression. As a result, some of the philosophy of the time was instilled in me; 1) If it's free, take it; and 2) save it, you may need it later.

What comes to mind is string. String used to be used to tie all sorts of packages. For example, when you bought a pound of hamburger at the grocery store, it was scooped into a cardboard dish, wrapped in butcher paper, and tied with string. We saved that string. Usually in the same drawer with the little keys.

There were lots of thing to use that string for, like, uh, er, well, just take my word for it, there were lots of things. Now days, you have to buy a ball of kite twine if you want string. In my day, I'd just go to the kitchen drawer and untangle whatever string I needed from the little keys, and if I hadn't lost interested by that time, I was all set to use my free string for, uh, whatever it was that I was going to do with it. Whatever happened to string?

Pop bottle caps

Another thing people used to save was tinfoil. I haven't the slightest idea why. The tinfoil came from gum wrappers, cigarette packs, and candy bars, and unlike the shiny, metallic looking wrappers we have today, the metal could actually be peeled off the paper backing. I don't mind not having real tinfoil any more, but when did it disappear? Nobody told me about it.

And speaking of metals, whatever happened to the lead foil icicles we used to throw on our Christmas trees? They weren't quite as pretty as today's plastic icicles, but they were easier to use.

The time was when every gas station had a pop case. I fondly remember lifting the lid to see what appeared to be all the bottles of pop in the world, each kind with a different colored cap. The bottles stood neck-deep in ice water, and there never was a colder, more refreshing drink than those 10-cent bottles of pop.

Whatever happened to pop cases? I guess we all know they've been replaced by vending machines. The machines are okay, but back in the old days, I never had a gas station attendant take my money and then refuse to give me my pop.

Pop bottle caps (the pry-off kind), had little disks of cork inside for a seal. If you carefully lifted the cork out of the cap, you could put the cap on your shirt and shove the cork back in from the inside of your shirt. Enough bottle caps could transform and ordinary tee shirt into armor. Why would you do this? Because you're 10 years old. No other reason is necessary.

One brand of soda pop we used to buy was Ma's. Ma's Root Beer was really good, and Ma's Orange was even better. Ma's made Birch Beer, too, but I don't know if it was good or not. It's hard to tell about birch beer.

Who used Ipana?

Remember those toothpaste additives "GL-70" and "Gardol"? We were supposed to buy this toothpaste or that toothpaste because they contained special stuff. We never knew exactly what GL-70 and Gardol were, but that didn't matter. Now I wonder, whatever happened to those additives? And as long as we're on the subject, whatever happened to Ipana Toothpaste?

I'm not much of a gun enthusiast, but in my pre-teen years, I loved cap guns. When did cap guns go out of style? Nobody told me about it.

There were three types of cap guns: roll, disk, and single-shot. Roll caps were okay for a while, but usually the roll twisted and jammed just as the fort was being attacked; frustrating, to say the least. Disk caps came six shots to the disk, much more realistic and essentially trouble-free. Single shots were all right, but it took extra time to keep re-loading. The O.K. Corral was not the place to be with a single-shot cap gun.

I was browsing through the calendar the other day. It has been amazingly accurate so far, but I wonder, whatever happened to V-E Day? And V-J Day? It seems like those two dates are every bit as important as some of the others listed, such as National Boss Day. I don't know when or why the calendar makers decided not to note those days -- May 8 and August 15 -- respectively.

I don't know whatever happened to home milk delivery, at least in our area. I remember when milk was delivered in glass bottles with flat cardboard caps. Milk wasn't homogenized then, so the cream was always on top. Sometimes in the winter, the milk would be frozen before we picked it up off the porch. The expansion would push the cap off and we'd have a stick of frozen cream rising an inch or so out of the bottle. It was good, too, almost like ice cream.

I still have a milk box on my porch, but no one has left anything in it for years.

Sometimes when I glance in the mirror, I wonder whatever happened to the 12-year-old who used to look back at me. Nobody told me about that, either!


During the holiday season, both Jim Prosser and Bill Weatherford traveled to the Washington area to be with members of their families.

A special CANDOER Luncheon was held at their request. In attendance at this luncheon were the following people:

Bob Catlin, Ralph Crain, Paul Del Giudice, Ken and Maureen French, Dick Geary, Rey Grammo, Graham Lobb, Will and Doris Naeher, Paul and Deborah Nugnes, Tom and Tina Paolozzi, Jim and Mary Prosser, Bob Scheller, Bill Weatherford, and Ed and Joan Wilson.

A great time was had by all.

A get well wish to Judith Weatherford who came East and caught a severe cold. She was unable to make the luncheon because of the cold. Judith, I hope all is well with you now that you are back in the sunshine and warmth of New Mexico.


The January luncheon had another small turnout.

The following people attended the January Luncheon: Ralph Crain, Al Debnar, Paul Del Giudice, Don Denault, Charlie Ditmeyer, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Nate Reynolds, and Don Stewart.

A big Thanks to Don Stewart for furnishing this information by E-mail and to Charlie Ditmeyer for furnishing the information by snail-mail.


In response to my letter of December 17, I received a donation and a Personal Data Form from Jack Hulbert. Jack's address may be found in the Pen and Ink section. In addition, I published his letter in the Letters to the Editor section.

Congratulations to Fast Eddie Wilson, who retired on January 2, 1998.

On December 31, I received a note and a donation from Gerry Gendron. Jerry furnished his wife's name and his birthday for inclusion in his Personal Data. This new information may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

On January 1, 1998, I received an E-mail message from Bob Campopiano. Bob furnished his telephone number. This information may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

On January 2, I received an E-mail message from Mel Bladen. Darlene's sister died recently. Mel and Darlene have made a temporary move, which later may become permanent, to Port Republic, Maryland, to live with Darlene's mother.

On January 3, I talked at length with Babe Martin. Babe has sold his house in Woodbridge and has completed his move to Maine. Delete the Woodbridge address from Babe's entry in the Directory of Members.

On January 7, I had lunch with Dick Maroney and several SA-21 employees. Dick gave me a donation to the News and Memorial fund and returned a completed PERSONAL DATA FORM. The new information may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

On January 7, I received an E-mail message from Lamont Smith requesting information about the CANDOERs. I sent him my standard canned E-mail message.

On January 10, Ralph Girdner furnished a new E-mail address. The new address may be found in the Pen and Ink section as well as on the last page.

On January 12, I talked with Ken French. Ken and Maureen are traveling by car throughout the west and southwest. They are going to be making stops in Albuquerque and Las Vegas, as well as several other locations. They plan on traveling for about six weeks and will miss the February luncheon.

On January 13, I received an E-mail message from Dick McCloughan furnishing his E-mail address. This new address may be found in the Pen and Ink section as well as on the last page of this edition.

On January 16, I received an E-mail message from Judy Chidester requesting information about the CANDOERs. I sent her my standard canned E-mail message.

On January 20, I received a letter from Herb Horacek. Herb sent me two poems written by his wife, Billie. These poems will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER News.


The following was furnished by Will Naeher.

The Layman's Glossary of Medical Terms
1. Artery A study of paintings
2. Bacteria Back door of a cafeteria
3. Barium When treatment fails
4. Congenital Friendly
5. Dilate To live longer
6. Enema Not a friend
7. Fester Quicker
8. Fibula Small lie
9. Genital NonJewish
10. G I Series Army baseball
11. Hang Nail A coat hook
12. High Colonic Jewish religious holiday
13. Impotent Distinguished or well known
14. Labor pains Getting hurt at work
15. Medical staff Doctor's cane
16. Nitrate Cheaper than day rate
Lifesaver Radio
by James F. Prosser

In the early 1960's the news of freedom and independence movements of Africa literally exploded across the front pages of the world's newspapers. The sleeping giant was awakening, and sometimes with dramatic results. There was no more violence and turmoil to be found than in the former Belgian Congo.

The Embassy had set up the very extensive "Bobcat" shortwave network for the Congo which covered all our Consulates, plus posts in nearby countries, and the local missionary networks. We had a total of 21 stations which we monitored, frequently 24 hours daily when there was imminent danger to U.S. citizens. They even included the two aircraft assigned to the Army and Air Force Attache offices in Leopoldville. The area covered equaled that of the entire portion of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.

The network proved to be invaluable. It often was a lifesaver.

Personnel from the U.S. Military Attache office helped us operate and monitor the "Bobcat" network. Political and Consular officers even worked in the radio room monitoring the welfare and whereabouts of American citizens plus the movements of rebellious Congolese military personnel.

We encouraged communicators to have amateur "ham" radio licenses so in their slack or off duty time, they could then communicate with hams in the USA to make radio phone patches to friends and loved ones back home. Remember, international telephone calls at this time were generally not possible. Through this means, the operators maintained their professional skills.

One evening I came into the radio room to do a bit of "hamming" and was listening to a Brazilian ham calling "CQ 9Q5 land" (the Congo). "Gosh", I thought, "how exciting, someone was actually calling the Congo!" I responded and the Brazilian operator told me to get on a certain frequency to pick up the emergency distress call of an American aircraft downed in the Congo.

I thanked him and swung our rotary beam antenna from west to east and found the Embassy's Army Attache pilot, Major Roy Hudson, had crash landed on a jungle airstrip in a remote northeast corner of the Congo, about 1,200 miles from Leopoldville. He and his crew chief, Master Sergeant Bobby Barnes, had managed to get the plane's radio operative with a truck battery scrounged from a nearby pygmy village to get on the air just long enough to give coordinates, and medical needs.

Within hours, we had a rescue aircraft en route with the necessary supplies for a parachute drop. Their injuries were not severe, but without the Embassy "Bobcat" network, they would have been days trying to walk out of the jungle, if they would even survive the ordeal.

Trans-Siberian Railroad Voyage Journal
July 1996

by Jim Prosser

Part 12 of 14

- Wednesday, July 24 -

I awoke to an overcast day with plenty of water standing about in adjacent fields and marshes. And there was no electrification on this line. Northbound freight trains usually have tandem diesel locomotives pulling them if not an articulated one.

I fortuitously purchased some items for breakfast yesterday afternoon. The bread, peach nectar and bananas came in handy.

At Ussuriyisk, the train stopped for 15 minutes. We again were under electrification, the diesel was removed and a single electric locomotive carried us on to our final destination, Vladivostok.

At 1415 (0715 Moscow time), the Rossiya glided to a stop at Vladivostok station. We were four hours and 25 minutes late. The June 1, 1996 schedule of the Trans-Siberian railroad listed 201 stations total between Moscow and Vladivostok. The Rossiya had scheduled stops at 73 of them for as brief as two minutes to a maximum of 30 minutes.

I disembarked with more than a bit of regret, for it had been a most memorable journey, loaded with the excitement of the vastness of Russia and Siberia, the people, plus the numerous incidents I observed and encountered. Galina even came running after me on the platform to hand me my shaving kit which I had left hanging on the wall of my compartment. The train and dining car staff really were most friendly and enjoyable once you broke the ice trying to get to know them.

Coincidentally, Anna was also booked at the Hotel Vladivostok. I was glad to have her accompany me. The hotel is less than a kilometer from the station, but the city is somewhat like San Francisco. There are hills everywhere and one between the station and hotel. In front of the station I luckily found a van. I loaded my luggage and in two minutes was at the hotel.

After checking in, I headed for the showers! The central location of the hotel was perfect for, although it is in need of renovation. The view from the front of the hotel is spectacular. On the side of a hill, it looks out over the anchored Russian far east fleet.

Through sheer good luck, I arrived in Vladivostok just as the preparations were getting under way to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Russian Navy by Czar Peter The Great. In addition to the Russian vessels, I learned there were to be ships arriving Friday representing the navies of Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States to participate in the festivities this weekend which will include joint fleet maneuvers.

No sooner was I finished with my shower and relaxing a bit when a barrage of naval gunfire erupted at sea directly in front of the hotel! A mock invasion was taking place before my very eyes! Russian vessels off shore were firing blank rounds, landing craft with Marines had been launched and were soon going to storm ashore below. The mock aerial bombardment of the advancing landing craft was very real, and if I had been in one of those landing craft would have been scared! The hotel staff informed me this was only practice, the real show will be on Sunday. Drat! I'll be back in Moscow by then!

I visited the hotel's Intourist service bureau to make local arrangements and have onward airline reservations reconfirmed. The office is a small room where only two desks and two chairs can be accommodated. There were two ladies on duty, Rimma and another who speaks only Russian. Rimma's English is good, but she is not used to the American dialect. Nevertheless, both are very pleasant and wish to help in any way possible. I got Rimma's recommendation for a good place nearby to eat Kamchatka king crab for dinner this evening.

The city has been open to foreigners for only four years. The hotel and Intourist staff I encountered show a lack of exposure to foreigners' languages, habits, styles, and desires. They are trying, but need more training. Time heals everything.

I started making the first of many attempts to telephone the American Consulate General. The hotel telephone system is definitely worthy of complete replacement, including all the wires and instruments. It was almost impossible to call from room to room. Calling outside numbers was equally so. The Vladivostok telephone system compares to those of more backward countries in Africa. At the train station I saw billboards advertising private telephone company services for both the local and international trade. There may be a good investment opportunity here.

Being unable to contact the American Consulate General by telephone, I took a taxi there, for it was about three kilometers from the hotel. I took a tram back once I had my bearings.

The purpose of the visit was to let them know of my existence in the city and get information about the old American Consulate General which existed prior to World War II. Outside the Consulate, I met some U.S. Navy officers who were in town making advance preparation for arrival of the U.S. ships Friday. The USS Blue Ridge will lead the American contingent for the 300th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Russian Navy.

A retired Foreign Service friend of mine, Tony Lapka, had the misfortune of being on temporary duty in the city in 1940 when Stalin had all foreign diplomats in the city placed under house arrest (presumably for their personal safety). Tony, a communications technician, who was actually assigned to Paris at the time, spent all of WW-II in Vladivostok under rather severe conditions of deprivation until 1945. My Friday attempt to visit the present day location of the houses at Okeanskiy Prospekt 17 and Tigrovaya 20-22 proved futile because of so much time wasted on seemingly Intourist-inspired "wild goose" chases.

Vladivostok is the capital of the Maritime krai (territory) in far eastern Siberia. It is a major seaport on the Pacific coast (Sea of Japan) with a population of 648,000. An important industrial center, Vladivostok is also the terminus of the Trans-Siberian railroad, has a naval base for the Russian far east fleet and a commercial port for domestic trade. During the Soviet period the city was closed to foreign visitors and shipping, which was diverted to the port of Nakhodka 230 kms to the east. It was opened to foreign visitors and ships in 1992.

Vladivostok has shipyards and manufacturing plants and serves as a base for Russian fishing and sealing fleets in the Pacific. The city lies in a picturesque amphitheater around a narrow, deep bay known as the Golden Horn. Vladivostok was founded in 1860, when the region passed from China to Russia; the presence of Russian power in the region was reflected in the city's name, which means "ruler of the east." After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Vladivostok served as a base for Japanese and U.S. interventionist forces.

A group of us, including Anna, took Rimma's advice and walked to the Cafe Nostalgia for a meal of crab. It was superb and cost about $20 per person. They even took my VISA credit card. This is a lovely dining establishment with excellent service. Curiously, the menu was in Russian and English but had only Russian-speaking personnel. But they had everything listed! It undoubtedly was a place which caters to the city's rapidly increasing number of foreign visitors.

The weather in Vladivostok is just as I was told by the Consulate's administrative officer. The sun rarely shines June through August for the surrounding cold waters cause an almost continual fog or cloud cover for the first several kilometers inland. Today was no exception other than there also was wind to go along with the fog.

- Thursday, July 25 -

Shortly after midnight I was aroused from a deep sleep by the room telephone ringing. How come the hotel telephone system works at night? A male, English-speaking voice offered pretty girls and a massage. The world's oldest profession lives on in Vladivostok.

It rained all night long beating against the window. The Hotel Vladivostok leaks everywhere, especially around the window casings in my room. In the morning they mopped up the water.

Breakfast, included in the price of the room, was most unusual. It was in the hotel's Japanese restaurant and included tomato salad followed by eggs fried over rice with cucumbers. Hmm. Good, but not what I usually want: bread, rolls, fruit, cheese, etc.

At 1000 on a fairly foggy day, I departed on a city tour. Anna was along. We were also joined by Don, an American businessman and tourist staying at the hotel. Not many pictures were taken this morning. Because Anna was to depart early tomorrow morning, I arranged with Rimma in Intourist for their transportation to the airport at 0600. At the same time, I also arranged for my airport transportation for Saturday morning at 1100.

Intourist furnished a guide. Rimma was the guide, and a good one.

The first stop was a spot on the hillside above one of the city's many marinas.

It overlooked a large group of sailors and marines in the square below doing drills in preparation for the weekend ceremonies. The nearby gardens contained a tiger statue which is the symbol of the city.

We then went to the Golden Horn harbor entrance at the south end of a peninsula extending from the city center. The large fog banks did not allow us to see much or far. Then we proceeded to the main railroad station and adjacent ferry building to see the ships and sailing training vessels in the harbor. Directly across the street from the railroad station on the hill is the only public statue of Lenin remaining in the city.

At precisely 1200, the daily canon was fired from the top of a hill directly above us. Kaboom! I'll remember that for tomorrow in case I'm standing near again.

The next stop was the Navy Museum on Svetlanaskaya (formerly Lenin Street) in the harbor and city center. The museum features a submarine which we walked over and crawled through.

The last stop on the city tour was a visit up to the Eagle's Nest, one of the city's highest hills. It overlooks the Golden Horn. The fog was still about, so pictures weren't a good idea. There is a funicular from here down to the town, so maybe when the weather improves, we can take a tram to the base and come back up.

Rimma said the tour was now over and the vehicle could take us all back to the city center or hotel. She offered an option of the vehicle going 20 kms into the countryside for a lunch in the woods "at a very nice restaurant". Don and I chose to go to the restaurant. It was a choice I'll never regret or forget.

The name of the place is the Vlad Motor Inn. By the time I arrived the fog had lifted and the sun was shining. Built two years ago in the forest with dachas all around, this was a delightful setting. It is a joint venture (80 percent Canadian owned, 20 percent Russian) and operated by a group of Canadians supervising Russian help. What an amazing difference good organization, management, and training can make in the operation of an establishment in Russia! All the staff spoke good English. I even met the Canadian manager (from Toronto) and American chef (from Eugene, Oregon).

I ordered a huge plate of Kamchatka king crab legs and were they ever good! I made up my mind for dinner tomorrow evening I was coming back out here in the forest for more crab. Service, courtesy, outstanding food in an almost antiseptic ambience makes all the difference!

I ventured 500 meters through the woods, found the local commuter train station and took the next train back to the city. While waiting on the platform I had my daily morozhnoye fix!

Arriving back in the city, I took the No. 1 bus out to the Golden Horn entrance which I had visited on the tour this morning. This time I could see forever and took plenty of pictures. I'm still amazed I am here in this formerly forbidden location taking pictures of ships everywhere!

Returning back to the city center I came upon an open market. I stocked up on apples, bananas, oranges to take back for breakfast if needed. The big surprise was finding goose berries! I hadn't eaten them since I was a kid and had them growing in our garden. I devoured a bag full walking back to the hotel.

This was the last night in town for Anna. She flies back to Moscow early in the morning and on to London to meet her parents.

I walked down to the base of the Lenin statue in the park in front of the train station to have a picture taken by Anna with the renovated ornamental station and name of Vladivostok in the background. There we met two Russians who befriended us, along with some Russian sailors, one of whom spoke a little English.

We had all intended to eat dinner in the Chinese restaurant across the street, but I sensed that was about to change. The restaurant was not opening for business until 2100, but could not take us because it was fully booked for the evening.

As I wasn't terribly hungry, I opted not to eat but to returned to the train station. The finishing touches on the exterior renovation are complete now. There are beautiful fresco paintings on both sides, some of them religious themes. One is of St. George slaying a dragon. I wonder if they were painted over during the communist period? The entire renovation project was done by Italians, I had learned on the city tour this morning.

In front of the station, I saw from the distance wisps of blue smoke arising in the air from the sidewalk kiosk and thought "shashlik"! Walking over to it I was correct. Perfect snack when not hungry. With a half-liter of draft beer, and a plate of shashlik, I sat in the late evening sunset and watched the world go by in Vladivostok, Russia for at least an hour.

Land Mines - The Negev Caper
by Jim Steeves

In 1979 my brother-in-law traveled to Israel to spend a few weeks with us during his summer break from the University of Wisconsin. Unlike his earlier visits to Spain and Ireland, when we had no children and plenty of time for "tourist mode", Israel was quite different since we had both kids and a hellish work schedule. On one occasion though we did all get off for a trip down into the Negev Desert - on the highway that leads to Egypt, taking us past major sand dunes on both sides of the well-paved road. Not a tree; not a bush or blade of grass or even a suggestion of a weed - Just sand. This was also one of the many areas in which the Israeli's and the Arabs had, just a few years earlier, fought tank battles. But that wasn't on my mind then. All the debris, which had been scattered along that same road just two years earlier, had been cleared away, much of it taken into Tel Aviv and repaired then put to use in the Israeli Defense Force - the IDF.

I don't now remember our position but think we were fifty miles or more generally southwest of the outskirts of Tel Aviv, when I got the brilliant idea of a photo of Carol's brother, children and husband staggering and crawling over the top and down the near side of a sand dune. There were many to choose from but it wasn't until I saw one which rose perhaps 75 feet higher than the road and just about 50 yards from the highway that I stopped and started setting it up. I stopped on the highway - two feet from it would have mired us in sand - and my wife took her position with camera near the car. My girls, who were then about 1-1/2 and 3 years of age, and the brother-in-law walked back the way we had come about a hundred yards and then we headed off into the sand, toward the back of the sand dune. (We didn't want to leave any visible tracks on the side Mama was going to shoot at.)

The highway was very lightly traveled, nevertheless, when we had gone about 50 yards from the highway, toward the back of the sand dune, one car did come along. The driver observed that there were four people, including two very young children, struggling through the sand and stopped his car, got out and began screaming bloody murder while running back and forth on the road waving his hands in great fury. We stopped and looked over at him and I yelled "What?" Recognizing that we were English speakers, he returned one word "Mines!"

Over the years I've had a few scary moments but my children had never before been involved. Memory of my thoughts just then are gone but obviously we got the message loud and clear. I think we immediately retraced our tracks to the highway and I clearly remember being chewed out quite properly by this Israeli man who may very well have prevented a tragedy. He explained that, all along this highway, on both sides, the IDF had not yet cleared the area of mines and it was known that there were many thousands of them. Then I remembered: It took several years for the IDF to clear the destroyed vehicles along that route to Egypt and part of the reason was probably because it was littered with those mines. Signs had not been posted every hundred meters along the road to warn people about the danger of mines because, in Israel, danger is everywhere and common sense is normally used to avoid trouble. I had been "out to lunch" when I should have been employing that sensible process as part of the business of looking out for the safety and welfare of my family. Thank God for the Israeli passerby.

Remembering Foreign Service Travel by Ocean Liner
by Graham Lobb

Back in the late forties, fifties, and into the early sixties, many Foreign Service personnel, and their families, traveled to overseas posts on ocean liners then in service. But in the mid-sixties, the arrival of jets soon cut into the former ocean liner monopoly, especially in the North Atlantic and Far East.

However, when I went to my first post, I was single and travel was on PANAM prop-driven planes across the Atlantic; and on to Karachi in West Pakistan. From there, after a night at British Bluebird House, I traveled on a DC-3, of Orient Airways, piloted by British fliers. After an over-night at Dean's, then an oasis in Central Asia, it was on to Kabul, via the Khyber Pass in the Embassy "Green Hornet" an International carry-all , with Pathan driver, Abdullah Jan at the helm.

Two years later, I returned by prop plane as the British put their Comet jet liner into service. PANAM operated a round-the-world flight - London to Manila, which carried FS personnel and diplomatic couriers.

After home leave in 1952 and marriage to Roberta Parks, we departed New York City-Hudson River-aboard the SS AMERICA of the US LINES. It was a great trip, with wonderful food, and all kinds of entertainment, plus a very interesting traveling public. A far cry, I thought after six years on Army transports, and converted troop ocean liners in the Far East.

We got off at Southampton and were assisted by Consul General Joe Ragland. Our journey continued via rail to Waterloo Station in London. To this day, I recall the friendly Irish waiters, great staff and good food.

Our second trip began in 1955, joined by our son David, from New York aboard the then Blue-Ribbon SS UNITED STATES, holder of the fastest time to Bishop's Rock.

The SS UNITED STATES was a floating luxury liner when the U.S. ruled the North Atlantic, long dominated by the British and Dutch liners. We got off in LeHavre and took the French Railway to Paris; then onto The Hague for our assignment.

In 1957, we returned, having taken the Hook of Holland ferry across a rough Channel to Harwich. After a few days in London, we boarded the SS AMERICA at Southampton. Many of the passengers, especially the U.S. military dependents who got on at Bremerhaven, had Asian Flu. More broke out as we had a very rough crossing. Few passengers enjoyed this trip in winter time on a rolling sea!

We stayed put in Washington until May 1960, when we proceeded to Port-au-Price, Haiti, aboard the SS ANCON-Panama lines, of the Panama Canal Company. We took our car to New York City. Here it was loaded on the ANCON-a combination passenger-freighter.

It was a leisurely cruise along the Florida coast; then into the Caribbean and finally reaching Haiti via the Windward Passage dividing Cuba, then in Castro's hands.

On the trip, there were an assortment of FS personnel, Panama Canal Company employees, military, and dependents, plus a few tourists, businessmen, and missionaries.

The food was ample but plain, no fancy French cuisine. Lots to do, including movies at night, shipboard games. Our son, David made friends with other kids.

Years later, I learned the following about the ANCON:

The current ANCON was a replacement for the original ANCON, the first ship to transit the Panama Canal in 1914. The new ANCON was commissioned September 24, 1938, built by Bethlehem Steel at Quincy, Mass.

It carried 202 first-class passengers and a crew of 125.

During World War II the ANCON played and important role. On January 11, 1942, the ANCON joined the Army Transport Service. It made several trips carrying U.S. military personnel to Australia in the early months following the U.S. entry into the Pacific War.

In late 1942, the ship transferred to the U.S. Navy and was known as AP 66. It made trips to Iceland, the United Kingdom, and North Africa.

From 1943-1945, it was known as AGC4, an Amphibious Force Flagship with the role of Communications support. Sailors referred to it as the "Mighty A!"

The ANCON was present D-Day, during the Normandy Invasion, as a communications ship. When World War II ended the war in the Pacific, the ANCON served as a press ship September 2, 1945. It was present for MacArthur's ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor.

In 1946, the ANCON returned to service with the Panama Lines on runs between the Canal Zone, with a stop at Port-au-Prince, and New York City.

Recalling our voyage it was pleasant, rather routine, and quiet from the bustling liners.

EPILOGUE: While we were in Haiti, the Grace Lines began to call. In 1962, the Panama Lines, since it was U.S. government owned, was forced out of service. The ANCON went into dry dock and was eventually sold for scrap.

In the fall of 1962, the Lobb family made a final ocean liner trip from New York City to LeHavre on assignment at the American Embassy Paris. By 1964 most U.S. steamship companies had give up regular passenger service and reverted to freighters. The jet airplane was now hauling increased non-stop loads across the Atlantic and Pacific. Another comfortable way of travel ended to progress!


See you next month.

Issue Index   Issue 27