|Issue 29||May 1998||Volume 3 - Number 6|
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
One night my wife and I returned home late from a dinner party in Tel Aviv. She relieved the baby sitter while Samson and I headed for the street with the intention of taking a stroll to a vacant block down the street where old Sammy often smelled weasels, gophers or tigers. For some reason, I now forget, I decided to go out through the garage, which was a floor below street level and thus had a steep incline up to the sidewalk. Samson hurried on ahead of me and I heard a strange noise, a man shouting and another sound I didn't recognize. In seconds I realized what had happened. A man was walking his shaefer hund, or German police dog along the street just as Samson appeared from our driveway. The German police dog attacked and picked little Samson up like a rag doll, savaged him, then threw him. As I was trying to see what was happening in the dark, Samson literally rolled down the driveway past me and thumped against the garage door, which by then had closed. In the dark I could only guess what was going on because of the man on the sidewalk. I went quickly to Samson but he was in shock and growled at me. I spoke to him and then was able to pick him up and take him into the house. We got a towel and wrapped him up and I headed for the vets which was several miles away in the town of Rananana, while my wife made a phone call to his office - at about 11:15. By the time I got there the vet had been joined by another vet. The three of us started working on Sammy around midnight. The vets finished the job as the sun came up. All this time I held Samson's head and talked to him and he calmly accepted it all. Since then I've never felt the same about people whose dog's aren't on a lease because "their dog never bites." I decided that's always the case. Until the first time.
The owner of the German police dog? Never got either his name or one penny towards the cost of the medical treatment and that was OK. My dog was alive and back to normal a week later.
The following e-mail was received from Tom Murphy:
March 26, 1998
Subject: CANDOERs of Yesteryear!
March 14 brought us another 8-10 inches of snow (since complemented by an additional 8-10 inches). Rather than shovel out the driveway I decided to update some genealogy files for a new program I purchased.
Among my files are a couple of memoranda, the thrust of which I would like to share with the CANDOERs.
On February 5, 1971, while returning from an Ice Capades performance in Washington, my family was involved in a serious car accident that resulted in the death of my seven year old son, and critical injuries to my wife.
The Red Cross notified the State Department that one of its employees, (my wife was a language instructor at FSI), who was the spouse of another State Department employee, was in critical need of blood.
Several people instantly went into action to recruit volunteers, among them Mr. Rzeczkowski, OC, and Bill Spicer, FBO. The response was overwhelming.
The OC volunteers were May Bailey, Bill Callihan, Joseph Comfort, Albert Curley, Dale De Vaughn, Frank Green, Hobart Hart, Rudy Kiel, Douglas Marshall, William McGovern, Willis Naeher, Jim Prosser, and Beatrice Zaparilla, and perhaps others. Sally Briggs, Ruth Beniz, and Mary Curley also appear on the list.
A similar list identifies the donors from FSI.
A whole lot of time has passed since then, but my family is no less grateful for the Can-Do spirit exhibited by everyone involved.
Thanks again, Tom
The following e-mail was received from Jim Prosser on April 1, 1998:
The CANDOER article by Jim Steeves (April 1998), "Flight From Hell," brought to mind two similar incidents which I relate below.
I. Going on home leave from Geneva in 1976, my wife Mary, son Stephen (11), and I flew on a TWA 747 flight Geneva-Paris-Dulles. We had requested bulkhead seats for leg room, but were told they there weren't any available, although the three in front of us were empty. Turns out the seats were for a couple with a two-year-old baby boarding in Paris. No problem. BUT, about 20 minutes after take-off the baby apparently didn't like the change in cabin pressure (and may have had a cold or ear blockage), because it screamed non-stop for the next 8 ½ hours! Of course, passengers were disturbed, but there was nothing the airline folks and also a couple doctors and nurses on board could do to relieve the kid's problem. We felt sorry for the parents as well as the baby. But, that kid had a pair of lungs that wouldn't quit. When we landed at Dulles, the baby stopped crying.
II. About 1981 when I was RCPO Nairobi, I happened to be on a business trip, in southern Africa, when I got a telegram from DAS Stu Branch, directing all the world's RCPOs to meet him in Bonn for a meeting later that week. I was able to get a NON-STOP South African Airways flight two days later going from Johannesburg to Frankfurt.
Of course, in those days SAA could not fly over Africa to Europe. They had to make a long detour west over the Atlantic and around the continent. So this was a 16-hour flight. SAA, like PanAm, had Boeing build them a bunch of 747-SP aircraft (slightly smaller carrying 265 passengers) which would be able to fly 8,000 miles non-stop whereas the normal 747 would only go about 5,500 miles.
The 747-SP was really a flying gas tank. When we took off from Jan Smuts our plane was filled to the brim with people and fuel. By the time it had passed over Pretoria 50 kms to the north, we were only at about 2,000 feet altitude! The 747-SP could not climb quickly with full payload.
In order to compete with all the other European air carriers, which could fly over Africa direct to Europe in only 12 hours, SAA had to come up with great benefits which would entice passengers to fly with them for the extra four hours. And they really did. While I sat in "economy class", they in fact were business class seats with loads of space between each row, and superb meals and service. SAA had a double crew on board. In the rear of the plane were two rooms with Pullman type bunk beds for crew members to snooze. I was very impressed and enjoyed the SAA flight.
/s/ Jim P
The following letter was received from Dick Hoffer:
Please amend my "snail" mail address to reflect the impending move to our "retirement" post in South Carolina. We unexpectedly sold our home much quicker than expected, so Pat and I will occupy temporary quarters (just like old times) until our new home (now under construction) is completed later this summer. The major difference --- these TDY quarters overlook a lake and a spectacular golf course approximately one mile from the Atlantic Ocean. Once permanently settled I intend to throw away my typewriter and purchase a PC to better keep in touch with my CANDOER colleagues. I was encouraged to do so after reading in a recent newsletter that the instructor (and fellow CANDOER) who tried to teach me basic C&R operations back in 1967 had managed to master the technique of sending E-Mail. I figure my time too has finally arrived.
I'll miss the monthly CANDOER luncheons and the occasional "happy hour" get togethers with friends. However, our doors will always be open and Pat and I do hope friends will visit.
Till then take care and God Bless.
/s/ Dick Hoffer
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of Hui Mei Newnham, wife of Foreign Service retiree Edward A. Newnham. Hui Mei died on April 7, after a short but courageous fight with cancer.
Anyone who did not received my e-mail, ALCAN 00062, be advised that a card of condolences was sent to Ed in the name of the CANDOER Luncheon Group.
In attendance at the April luncheon were the following CANDOERs:
Bob Alexander, Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Lou Correri, Charlie Ditmeyer, Al Giovetti, Dick Hoffer, Charlie Hoffman (plus two guests), Graham Lobb, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Tom Paolozzi, Nate Reynolds, Robby Robinson, Bob Scheller, Dan Ullrich, and Tom Warren.
In addition to our regular attendees, we had four new attendees: Joe O'Brien and his daughter, all the way from Australia, Gary Alley, and Tom Forbes. A big CANDOER WELCOME to you all.
On the 25th of March I received an e-mail from George Solomon furnishing his Personal Data and joining the CANDOER Luncheon Group. George's e-mail address may be found on the last page of this issue and his Personal Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section.
On March 26, I received an e-mail message from Bill and Dee Parker. They experienced a 'massive hard drive failure' and had to select a new e-mail address for JUNO.
On March 27, the CANDOER Luncheon Group gained another new member, Kelly Hearney. You may find Kelly's Personal Data in the Pen and Ink section of this issue. Kelly is presently working at SA-21.
On March 28, I received a letter from Babe. He has sold his house in Virginia and has bought a town home in Brewer, Maine. Brewer is across the river from Bangor. His new address and telephone number may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
One of the requirements of the ATS contract was that both incoming and outgoing telegrams would be displayed on a video screen equipped with a keyboard to permit text editing. Software was developed to electronically scan the text and determine the suggested distribution to be made of the telegram to the various elements and Bureau's of the Department of State. Telegram analysts would also review the substance of the text and retrieve any references to determine what additional distribution should be made.
The Analysts ability to retrieve references was limited to thirty days. Almost all references to previously sent or received telegrams were less than thirty days old. In this way, the storage capacity was reserved for the most current traffic. The distribution of the reference was displayed so that the analyst could apply this data into their distribution decision of the current telegram.
Software was written to determine the appropriate number of copies of each telegram. This determination was listed on the telegram together with the distribution symbol indicating the organization to which the telegram was to be distributed. The total number of copies, 'R' for outgoing telegrams, and 'W' for incoming telegrams, was also shown. This indicated to the reproduction center how many copies and what color paper was to be used for reproduction. 'R' for red or pink paper and 'W' for white paper.
The Analysis Section was unique in Communications Center operations. It was the first Center to come "on line" using this concept. It proved to be extremely successful in expediting and processing telegrams. Traffic volume varied from day to day, starting out slowly in the beginning of the week and ending heavy, about 1,000 messages. Messages were displayed by order of precedence, FLASH, IMMEDIATE, PRIORITY, and ROUTINE. Before the ATS, the Friday volume was frequently not completely distributed until early Monday morning. After the ATS, the volume was cleared by mid-Saturday morning.
The Analysis Section was located in a room within the enclosure and separated from the rest of the Center. Because of the nature of the Analysis work, I believed that the Analysis room should have an atmosphere of a library. So, I requested that wood paneling be installed on the walls. Also, because no one had done this before, we did not know what the appropriate ambient lighting levels should be. We installed rheostats to control the levels and zoned the lighting so that the analysts could adjust the ambiance to any level that was comfortable for them.
When the room was being constructed, one of Jack Coffey's assistants informed him that I was using wood paneling in the analysis room and he believed Congressman John Rooney, who sat on our appropriate committee, would object to the apparent opulence. Jack asked me to explain my reason for the use of the paneling. I told him that installing acoustic tile, which was in the rest of the Center, would be more expensive. Jack said, "I want an atmosphere of austerity and I don't care what it costs." So, the wood paneling was changed. When the Congressman visited the site, he noticed that we had a wood railing leading to an emergency exit. He suggested that we use metal. We removed the wood railing and installed metal at a price increase of 10% to 15%.
We had another problem with the Analysis Section. After several months, the Analysts were complaining that they were experiencing pink vision. They said the signs on the walls of the Department, which were gray with white letters, were now gray with pink lettering. At a meeting with the Analysts concerning their problem, I remarked that the building was changing the signs from gray with white letters to gray with pink letters. One analyst commented, "well then how do you explain the pink line running down the center of Shirley Highway." Many of the Analysts went to their Ophthalmologists. They were assured that this phenomena would not affect their eye sight permanently nor their ability to distinguish colors. We were very sensitive to this issue and to avoid publicity in the Department, we asked our friends in CIA to investigate. The investigation revealed that the "Pink Vision" was the result of the type of phosphor used on the video display screens we were using in the Analysis Section. The phosphor was gray and yellow, because this combination had less fatiguing affects on the eyes for long viewing. This made the screen appear a light green with yellow letters. This was discovered by the Air Traffic Controllers and was noted in the early TV sets. After a while, the complaints disappeared as the Analysts became accustomed to the screen and the "pink Vision" disappeared.
During the distribution process, the ACP 127 routing heading together with the JANAP routing indicators, which were used to route telegrams through the various relay centers in the network, were stripped off and a different distribution format was inserted by the software.
The Analysis section was very successful and after several months the personnel became more comfortable with the equipment. At first, they were reluctant to release the telegrams because upon release they were transmitted to high speed printers in the Reproduction Section, outside the enclosure. It was inconvenient to go the distance to correct the distribution if a second though occurred to them. As the Analysts gained confidence, the dwell time on the screens was rapidly reduced to a few minutes.
Pouch clerks always did their very best to be sure there were never any violations of diplomatic pouch rules, especially regarding the placement of personal contents therein.
That being said, we often had our doubts when certain other agencies we serviced brought in their pre-wrapped pouch material for courier dispatch.
One day in Munich, courier Stan Douglas (RIP), came in the Consulate to pick up his load of pouches for Belgrade. One of them fell off the cart and upon hitting the floor immediately began playing loud music!
Stan was really upset. He had us call the originator of the parcel to come to the pouch room and observe him opening the guilty piece. He took the occasion to sternly lecture the offending agency about this gross infraction of rules and that he as the courier was violated by having been potentially embarrassed, had this happened in the airport or airplane, especially in an unfriendly country.
Pouch clerk Bill Heimbach and I loved every bit of Stan's lecture.
In the early 80's, while assigned to Cape Town, I had occasion to put to the test something which my wife had learned at our previous post in Tel Aviv. In Israel, she had participated occasionally with other Embassy wives in religious studies. They were informal affairs, which she enjoyed, if for no other reason than it was a break from our two rug-rats. During this period we had one of those frustrating experiences when we couldn't find our car keys. The kids were strapped in the car and ready to roll but we couldn't find the keys. She stopped searching and sat down. I asked her what she was doing. She said she was practicing what they had been talking about recently at her religious meetings, specifically, to pray for something. She said it didn't have to be anything big such as a life or death matter; that God liked to hear from us anytime, even when everything was going great and we just wanted to say "Thank you Lord"; and further, He liked a kind of ongoing dialogue about our daily lives. Kind of like we enjoy getting e-mails from our girls who are now at college in New Mexico - you know, nothing special happening; just thought about how you like this one singer and I just heard him/her sing this song and felt I would drop you a short note. Heck, it makes me happy. Doesn't it stand to reason God would like a brief "e-mail" too?
Well, I was kind of surprised when she got up and said "I wonder if I could have put it on the window sill by the kitchen sink; that's where I had to drop stuff yesterday when I rushed into the house." She went to check and found it there. Of course that doesn't mean God answered her prayer. Maybe just a moment of concentration was all that was needed instead of rushing from room to room looking for whatever.
In the course of the next few months this sort of thing happened several times. I was always too busy to wonder what was going on.
Well, jump ahead three years to 1983, in Cape Town. I had the early shift in communications and arrived at the Embassy at about 7:00 a.m., in time, normally, to clear all the urgent telegrams and have them ready for pickup by the various secretaries when they got to work. Picture me standing at the vault door, working the combination in my usual careful manner but being unable to open the door. There was no question about the correct combination (and I didn't have it written down, either) but after the last number was dialed and I reversed to zero, nothing grabbed. I can't remember exactly but you known when you've done it right; there is some faint connection and you feel the bolts being pulled into the door. This wasn't happening. Instead, there was a very different feel and I couldn't understand what was happening.
I repeatedly dialed the combination, not knowing what else to do, but after about ten minutes felt the need to take a break. I walked down the hall and into one of the Consular offices and stared out the window at the passing rush hour traffic outside. As I stood there I imagined having to get some Seabees from somewhere to come and break through the wall into the communications center and wondered if that would take two days, three days or longer. I thought of the awful mess and what everyone in the Embassy would think if we couldn't communicate with the rest of the world for several days.
While I watched the traffic outside, my wife's practice of saying a prayer came to mind. She hadn't done it in quite a while, which, considering how effective it had seemed to be, was surprising. Anyway, I felt it was worth a shot and besides, who would know? So I did. It was a childish prayer, I remember that, but it sure was sincere.
Well, back at the vault door a few minutes later, I dialed it once again. At the point where you finish the last digit and head back to zero I felt the weirdest thing; something grabbed and, though no real effort was required, it felt like I was tearing the lock apart. When the dial got to zero it stopped and I gingerly took hold of the handle and lifted. It opened! I stood there for a few seconds in bewilderment. Then, realizing that it was already quite late, I hustled through the door and got busy opening up and taking the traffic.
An hour later, when the urgent stuff had been picked up and the second communicator reported in to work, we both went to the vault door. Unless I discovered the cause of the problem and was able to solve it, it wouldn't be possible to close the vault door again. To make a very long story short, I eventually was able to see that the spring which forced the clutch to grip the shaft inside the lock was worn out. There just wasn't any force it in thus it constantly slipped as the combination knob turned. It was then a matter of scrounging around the back room to find another lock with the spring I needed to get the lock working again. I set the proper combination and tried it about twenty times, with the vault door wide open before trusting to close it and then opening it. It worked well enough to await a completely new lock which the RSO in Pretoria sent a few days later.
It was a great relief to have found the problem and solved it but I was left with one overriding thought about the whole episode. The lock failed to open with upwards of twenty attempts because it basically broke. But then, why did it open on the ... whatever ... twenty-first attempt? How would you explain it?
After I arrived at the U.S. Embassy I was met by Henrietta Humphrey, Secretary to Ambassador Louis G. Dreyfus, Jr., Ambassador to the Court of Zahir Shah-King of Afghanistan. Amb. Dreyfus had previously been Minister to the Shah of Iran at Tehran; and, Minister to Iceland, when U.S. troops re-enforced the security forces in World War II.
The Main Office or Chancellery was in the German Legation. A second building on the compound contained administrative and visa offices. In another part of the compound were USIA offices and a library.
Servant quarters were along one wall. Here, the drivers and other local employees had quarters.
It was a small Embassy:
DCM - Fred Jandrey
POL - Gordon King
ECON - Edward Krache
ADMIN - Leroy Percival, Jr.
Military Attache - Jacob Mynders
USIA - Joseph Leeming
Secretary - Henrietta Humphries and Mary Hehir
Code Clerk - Graham Lobb
File Clerk - Ursula Greenwood
Disbursing Clerk - Daniel O'Connell
General Services - Boyce Campbell
Administrative Clerk - Gerald Barnes
I was introduced to members of the staff. I had come thousands of miles, was met in Peshawar, but no one showed me to the Embassy that first day!
The military office was staffed by WO Harlan Staats and secretary Lillian Dudley.
USIA had an information officer-Attache William Astill and a librarian, David Knoll, and Dean Findley.
Gasoline for the Embassy was rationed and was of poor quality from Russia, which damaged U.S. engines.
There was no commissary! We ordered food from New York-Royal Scarlett, Hormel Meat Products and National Distillers. Orders took up to four months to arrive with a lot of pilferage.
There was no dispensary or nurse! Instead, we could use Doctor Swales at the British Embassy and his Indian assistant.
I felt rather let down and disappointed thinking of two years in this remote post; 350 miles from the borders of Soviet Central Asia. I had experienced the "Cold War" as a soldier in Trieste, 1946-1948, on the Yugoslav border. The Army had provided everything; but here the Foreign Service left us isolated, no air service with air mail, and surface mail taking three to four months.
There was no housing at first, so I lived in the Hotel Kaboul, until a house became available near the Embassy.
The local movies were in Persian-many years old.
We did receive U.S. films by air pouch to Peshawar; then trucked up to Kabul.
Isolation would be our main concern as well as the lack of medical facilities!
My duties were code, pouch, and file work. I encrypted and decrypted telegrams received by the local Afghan PTT. The many garbles and missing groups were frustrating. They were costly to send at over 66 cents a word or five-letter group. Fortunately, until a crisis developed, not many cables were sent because of the cost!
Pouch service, air and surface, was poor.
But despite the hardships of Kabul, which was a differential and cost of living post, people got along and there was a big social life. It centered around home entertainment, or the French Club and sometimes, even a meal at the Hotel Kaboul, ran by an Italian couple. A visit to the British Embassy, outside of Kabul, was always a treat and brought on the possibility of a movie.
There was snow on the ground when I arrived, but after several weeks, spring arrived. In the distance, one could still see the snowcapped Hindu-Kush, a spur of the Himalayas.
At first, we pulled courier trips to Peshawar, but the diplomatic couriers began to arrive on long trips from Manila or Paris. I can recall the late Ed Fenstermacher, Joel Bell, the Grimes brothers, Tom - John; Walter Collopy, and Ray Eiselt, who brought news, mail, and a good evening.
Our radios picked up Armed Forces Radio late at night, Radio Ceylon, Radio Australia, VOA, and of course Radio Moscow, to liven up our lives.
A courier run to Peshawar was eagerly looked forward to, by especially the single clerks. In Peshawar, there was Dean's and the Peshawar Club, where a few remaining Brits held sway with their "pink gins" and tales of the Empire!
orge," the Pakistani tonga driver, was also good for some laughs, as we sped through the old bazaar.
Once the weather cleared, we formed an Embassy baseball team, which played the Afghan students on Independence Day.
Oe was always being invited to receptions, cocktail parties, or dinners. A meal at the Residence with Mrs. Dreyfus as hostess was a treat indeed away from our Afghan cooks.
In no time, 1950 with the Korean War, passed into history.
Visitors from outside were welcomed. I recall Bob Lucas, who was based in Calcutta, visiting. He came to repair our equipment and then he entertained us at "Red" Rhine's house. Red had a Blatz beer sign-the only one in Afghanistan, glowing on the front gate!
Newspaper people came, including Eric Downton-Daily Telegraph; Stella Margold, Christian Science Monitor; and Supreme Court Justice William Douglas. The Head of the F.S. Health Program came, Dr. DeVault, but he got sick and soon departed for civilization!
Security Officers from Cairo came and left soon afterward, shaking their heads! One found "Colonel Salaami" sleeping in his guard shack, draped in Old Glory to keep warm!
We had Civilian guards, but they resigned. Then a detachment of U.S. Marines, headed by M/Sgt John Murt, arrived. John now lives in California and is married to Lorna Furbush-Army Attache. He was of the Old Corps landing in Iceland.
Harry Lock is still around-retired and living in North Carolina. He served another tour in Cambodia.
After Colonel Mynders left, he was replaced by Colonel A. F. Mackenzie. Then came Colonel Patterson and our aircraft, a DC-3, with a crew of Sgts. Marquadt, John Bruce, and Major Warner.
American teachers taught at Habibila school. Morrison-Knudson of Boise, Idaho, had a few employees in Kabul, but most were in Kandahar. Point Four and U.S. Mines sent Dwight Lemmon, Bob Sanford, and others.
There was a USIA radio operator, Dave Miller, a China veteran in WW II. Gerry Stephens also used to take the Wireless file.
Ralph Redford and Jim Rhine were attached to the Embassy.
Years after, we have continued to attend Afghan reunions and relive our Kabul days!
In 1952, I left my position as a Communications Method and Procedures Specialist in the Pentagon to become the Communications Officer in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations/ The Mission at that time occupied several floors at a commercial office building on Park Avenue in Manhattan.
The Communications Section included the Code Room, which operated continuously seven days a week; a Mail Room; Documents Unit, and a Messenger Unit, which worked a normal business schedule, 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. During the General Assembly (early September to mid-December) those units worked extended hours until about 7:00 p.m. The Commo Section had additional help during the GA, usually two extra messengers and TDY code room personnel from WashDC, either OC/T or Foreign Service people awaiting onward assignments, one or two alternating two to four weeks.
The Code Room had a 75 baud circuit (100 WPM) and received a large numbers of telegrams by pouch. Those telegrams had to be retyped on a hecto master and reproduced copies were then routed to interested offices. As soon as I could and with the cooperation of OC/T, Earl Newton, we arranged to have multiple copies supplied and the purple plague of the hecto masters was visibly reduced and the retyping which kept us often backlogged was gone.
We received and sent pouches through the General Post Office near Pennsylvania Station five times a week. No destruction devices were available for the classified waste. It became necessary to bag the material and then escort it down to the incinerator at the Customs House in Wall Street. Two Commo people had to accompany the messenger/driver to protect the security of the material and also to do the burning. This could take a while as you had to stoke the fire and assure total destruction.
I also acted as a classified courier to Ambassador Lodge's residence. This entailed taking a train to Beverly, Massachusetts, to his residence, several times during various crises periods. An overnight trip brought me into Beverly close to 11:00 a.m. Since I was due at the residence precisely at 11:00 a.m., I would gauge my time, hop a taxi and wait for the right time to tell the driver to "go." Sure enough there was the Ambassador ready to receive me. (It was a fun game.) After about two hours Mrs. Lodge would drive me back to the station and that was an experience; she had a hot foot. In between, I was offered refreshments and was always graciously thanked by the Ambassador.
I believe USUN was the first communications operation to use a facsimile. It connected the International Organization at State for unclassified memos and speech material. It was called DATAFAX and actually was a revolving drum which traditionally was used by news service for photo transmissions. Occasionally, IO tried to slip in classified material and the standing order was to immediately shut down the fax and notify IO to cease and desist. During the General Assembly that fax got a workout, especially when there were speech changes to e made and rushed over to the UN meeting halls where they were to be given.
In the latter part of the '50s, plans were developed for a USUN office building across the street from the UN. The Administrative Officer Watson, who was a frustrated architect, was very instrumental in development of the design. When built, it became a truly functional office facility.
Before moving to the new building, John Obijdian from SY arrived to advise me that they were going to install a shielded enclosure in our Code Room. What was then a shielded enclosure was a bronze mesh box with a manual door, which traditionally was used by hospitals to shield x-raying. To my belief this was probably the first field enclosure.
During the construction, which thankfully was during a non-GA period, work continued, and the biggest challenge was keeping the equipment clean and free of the dust. Not an easy task despite hanging curtains and daily cleaning, including mopping, all done by Code Room personnel.
Actually several years later, a second bronze mesh box replaced the original and after the move to the new building, two present day boxes were installed, one replacing the other making a total of four different occasions where changes were undergone. At the new building, we finally got our own destruction devices and the agonizing trip to the Customs Office became history.
Our Documents Unit disseminated all the UN documents, including preparing distribution for pouching to selected posts overseas. One has to see it to believe the number of UN documents processed and filed to this day. The Mail Room was another unit with a heavy workload in processing unclassified memos, letters, airgrams, and public correspondence. The Messengers didn't escape and were hustling all the time, including outside deliveries.
When Jack Coffey became communications head, I proposed integrating our classified people in to the Foreign Service. Though this did not work out, several of us drifted off into the Foreign Service, starting with Frank Trainer, who was my deputy, then on to myself, Tommy O'Neil and Paul Merighi. Several others after my times also went to foreign assignments.
More of the comedy/drama of those years.
Ambassador Lodge had an official residence at the Waldorf Towers on Park Avenue and during the General Assembly, when the SecState was in town, he and his staff were housed there. This required a morning visit to the SecState to deliver his T.S. Summary and that also fell to me. SecState Dulles was an early riser and was there in his shirt sleeves and always, it seemed, ahead of his Special Assistant rushing to catch up.
At the time of the GA, when Castro and the other famous and infamous delegates arrived, the area around the Waldorf Towers was blocked off by the NYPD. In order for me to get there, I had to go by subway, in order to come up through the hotel subway exit. And, what would you know, as I was taking the elevator down, the door opened. Who should be on board, Marilyn Monroe, in all her glory; just she and I. My adventure lasted for about 20 seconds, but what a glorious time. On another occasion, I was jammed into the elevator with Eddie Cantor, his family, and entourage.
Some illustrious people, who will remain fondly in my memory, includes Ambassadors Lodge, Wadsworth, Yost, and Adlai Stevenson; UNGA Delegates Marian Anderson, the famous singer; Hollywood stars Shirley Temple and Irene Dunn, and finally, Carl Rowan, the journalist. There were others equally famous but my memory in my 77th year is not what it was.
The twelve years (1952-64) were some of the most exciting and adventurous times of my career. I will always remember the esprit de corps of the entire Mission and despite the challenges and truly hard work, it was a fascinating time. More was to come after 1964 that we all experienced at OC/T and the posts abroad.
In January 1971, I was working with Federal Electric Corporation (FEC), which was a subsidiary of ITT. FEC under bid Page Electronics and acquired the South East Asia, Communications Vietnam, and Communications Thailand projects. FEC personnel, in conjunction with the military and other DOD personnel, operated all of the communications sites and Technical Control facilities in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
I worked at the Saigon Embassy site (SGN) and then at the Saigon airport site (GDN) as a tech controller. A week later I worked at site 96A, in the Phnom Penh Embassy. The site was on the 3rd floor across the hall from the DAO communications center. Our mission was to relay the TTY circuits from the DAO, CPU, and TCU communications centers, along with one secure HY-2 and six military telephone lines, via a twelve channel GRC-5 microwave system, to our tropo site (96) located at the Phnom Penh airport. The tropo site consisted of six vans, with two 28 foot dish antennas, which shot directly into the Long Binh site, where all circuits were relayed to other sites and the world.
The three communications centers operated 24-hours a day so the Embassy was always busy. As contractors, we work 12-hour shifts and rotated between days and nights. This gave us four days off every six weeks to visit Bangkok, Saigon, Singapore, Laos, or Kuala Lumpur for some R&R.
Due to the maximum head count of only 100 Americans allowed in country at any one time, the FEC crew was limited to four US and 12 TCN's. We operated site 96A at the Embassy, site 96B at FANK Headquarters, and site 96 at the airport.
One night, while on the 1900 to 0700 shift, I was using the old Model 28 fox generator to send a test to the Bangkok Embassy site. After restoring the circuit, we had a lot of line problems in those days, I decided to reprogram the fox generator. After that night, all test messages sent from site 96A were: PACK MY BOX WITH FIVE DOZEN LIQUOR JUGS, (PNP) SENDING. It was shorter than the quick brown fox and still uses all the letters of the alphabet, and mainly, it was different. Channel checks went faster with the shorter message, also.
Some of the names I recall from that period are: Ambassador Colby Swank; DCM Tom Enders; CPU Bill Navatril, Jim Griffin, Etta Wilkinson, Rhea Nurenberger, and Dick Aber; TCU Art Heflin, Bill Remey, and Art Dever; Nurses Madeline Farrari and Liz Granston; and, CEO/T Erv Newman was there, but later switched over to GSO. I used to talk to Ron Bostic on the KWM-2 in Saigon. John Lunsford would come over from Saigon as the CEO/R to check the DM-76 and HN-36'2.
In July of 1973, I was replaced by a Canadian, because of a high priority Embassy requirement.