|Issue 37||January 1999||Volume 4 - Number 2|
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
In the spring, in Washington, D.C., as warmer weather sets in, the air gets quite humid. After a short period of full operations of the ATS, we noticed that although the air-conditioning plenum was under the floor, the return ducts in the ceiling began dripping water. Fortunately, there was no equipment under the vents. We placed buckets to catch the water, while we studied the problem. A known factor is that warm air retains more moisture than cold air. I asked that the temperature in the enclosure be increased gradually until the dripping stopped. It did at 74 degrees. However, shortly thereafter our high speed circuit to the Pentagon became erratic. I called the Chief at the military switch and asked him if they had changed anything. He denied that they had. Our programmers met with them to sort out the problem. It suddenly occurred to me that I had changed something, the temperature! I was also reminded, when the air conditioning failed during a previous water tower failure, the first thing that went down was the high speed circuit to the Pentagon. It was supposed to operate at temperatures of up to 90 degrees and that this failure at a lower temperature could possibly be a latent defect. ITT acknowledged the requirement of the specification, but stated that after operating in a constant environment of 70 degrees, the computers and peripheral equipment had become acclimated and the only way to restore this was to go through the bays of equipment with a hair dryer to check for those components which would fail and replace them. This would be a long and laborious process and would leave the ATS without redundancy. The temperature sensitivity would then return as a result of a constant environment once again. We set the temperature at 72 degrees, the high speed circuit was restored and, to my knowledge this did not happen again.
A lesson learned!
The following was received from Jytte Hendrix:
Thank you for the contribution to the American Heart Association in memory of Phil.
It was very kind and thoughtful of you.
The following thank you note was received from Jean Carter:
We, the Carter family, wish to express our deep appreciation, for your cards, phone calls, and your generous gift to the American Diabetes Association, in honor of "Jimmy."
Your kindness helped to sustain us in the loss of one so dear to our hearts.
/s/ (Mrs) Jean M. Carter & Family
The following letter was received from Fran Masterman.
I retired from Paris in 1988 and went immediately into the W.A.E. Rover program, where I went on TDY approximately twice a year for the next ten years. For the past five or six years, I was sent to many of the new Embassies in the former Soviet Union - including, Kiev, Ukraine (1992); Baku, Azerbaijan (1993); Tallinn, Estonia (1993); Tbilisi, Georgia (1994); St. Petersburg, Russia (1995); Doha, Qatar (1996); Baku, Azerbaijan (1997), and Chisinau, Moldova (1998).
I resigned from the WAE Program this past June (figured ten years was long enough!)
/s/ Fran Masterman
A new section has been started in this issue, Favorite Recipe. I have started this section with a recipe for desert that was one of my mother's favorite. I ask members, or their spouse, to submit their favorite recipe for publication.
The following was received from Jim Prosser.
The Paradox of Our Age
We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers;
wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints;
we spend more, but have less;
we buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;
we have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicine, but less wellness.
We spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom and lie too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life;
We've added years to life, but take away that of the unborn.
We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We've conquered outer space, but not inner space;
we've done larger things, but not inner things;
we've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul;
we've split the atom, but not our prejudice;
we write more, but learn less;
plan more, but accomplish less.
We've learned to rush, but not to wait;
we have higher incomes, but lower morals;
more food, but less satisfaction;
more acquaintances, but fewer friends;
more effort, but less success.
We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication;
we've become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion;
tall men, and short character;
steep profits, and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare;
more leisure and less fun;
more lawyers, but less respect for law;
more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are days of two incomes, but more divorce;
of fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.
The December 8 luncheon was well attended. In attendance at the luncheon were the following CANDOERs: Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Tom Forbes, Charlie Hoffman, Al Giovetti, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Ed Peters, Tom Paolozzi, Nate Reynolds, Rob Robinson, Bob Scheller, Ron Steenhoek, Val Taylor, and Tom Warren.
In addition, attending for the first time, we hope not the last, we gave a big CANDOER WELCOME to one of our newest CANDOERs, John Tyburski.
A drawing was held for door prizes. Three $15 gift certificates were given away. The gift certificates were for use at TGIF's. Winners of the gift certificates were: Bob Campopiano, Paul Del Giudice, and Val Taylor. Congratulations guys!
On November 29th, I received a request to forward information about the CANDOERs to Dave Smith. I sent Dave my usual canned infogram.
On December 12, I received a note and a check from Dave Smith. Dave's bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On December 1, I received a call from Lou Correri. Sometime ago, Lou gave me his E-mail address and I failed to include it in the CANDOER. Lou's E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this and future issues.
On December 4, I received an E-mail message from Jack Hulbert furnishing his E-mail address. Jack's E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink Section and on the last page of this and future issues.
On December 6, I received an E-mail message from Chuck Scott furnishing his E-mail address. Scotty's E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink Section and on the last page of this and future issues.
On December 7, I received an E-mail message from Jim Gansel. I had his E-mail address incorrect in the Directory of CANDOERs. It was correct on the last page of every issue, but incorrect in the Directory. The correct E-mail address for Jim may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this and future issues.
On December 8, I received an E-mail message from Marv Frishman advising that his wife's name was Helene, not Karen. You will find a correction to this fact in the Pen and Ink Section of this issue.
On December 9, Bob Caffrey asked me to delete his AOL E-mail address from the E-mail address list. This action has been taken.
On December 10, I received an E-mail request from Roy McLaughlin for information about the CANDOERs. Roy said he had heard about us from Tim Taylor and Marv Konopik. I sent Roy my canned infogram about the group. On December 15, I received a letter and a check from Roy. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue. His E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this and future issues.
On December 11, I received a letter (see Letters to the Editor) and a check from Fran Masterman. Fran's bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
Fran also asked that I send information about the CANDOERs to another WAE Rover, Catherine Cavazos. I sent her my canned infogram.
On December 12, I received a call from Esther Stevens. Esther, although having some trouble with arthritis, said she is doing great. She asked me to pass a big HELLO and a Merry Christmas from her to the ol' OC/T gang.
On December 13, I received an E-mail note from Patricia and Carl Stout. Their area code has changed. This change may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On December 17, I attended the OC/T (or whatever they are called now) Christmas party. Only two other retirees attended, they were Art Crowfoot and Ben Perry, both work in the OC/T area.
I learned at the Christmas party that on December 9, Ken Lutes, another retirees, had a heart attack. He is now at home convalescing.
In a conversation I had with Ken, he said he is feeling great, but tired. He was hospitalized at Walter Reed where he underwent balloon angioplasty and had a stint placed in one of his arteries.
Ken's E-mail address has been added to the last page of this and future issues.
On December 20, I received an E-mail notice from Ed Ferry that he had learned of the death of Theresa A. Ferrara in Maine. Further information is furnished below.
On December 22, I received an E-mail message from John and Monty Jomeruck. They have a second e-mail address that allows them to receive attachments.
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of Theresa A. Ferrara, October 23, 1998, from cancer.
Terri was a long-time member of the Foreign Service.
It is with deep regret, I inform you of the death of one of our colleagues, John Conner's wife, Lola.
Lola died after a long, courageous fight with cancer, on Wednesday, December 23, 1998.
Funeral services wereheld for Lola at the Greek Orthodox Church in El Dorado, New Mexico on Monday, December 28, 1998.
Old Fashion Oatmeal/Nut/Raisin Cookies
from Ruby Catlin
1 cup raisins
1 cup of water
3/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped nuts (your choice)
Simmer raisins in the cup of water for 20 to 30 minutes, until they plump. Drain off liquid into measuring cup and add water (if needed) to make a 1/2 cup liquid.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix margarine, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in 1/2 cup liquid. Sift flower, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices, blend in. Stir in oats, nuts, and raisins. Drop, by rounded teaspoon, on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.
Makes six dozen.
On the night of April 14-15, 1912, over 86 years ago, the mighty luxury liner Titanic, on its maiden trip across the North Atlantic, struck an iceberg and immediately began to sink, with the loss of 2,200 men, women and children. It was hailed by White Star Lines as the safest ship afloat!
The liner had left Queenstown (Cobh) Ireland and was due to dock in New York City.
A blockbuster movie, Titanic, has reawakened interest throughout the U.S. and the world about the tragic sinking, and with it, the great loss of life.
This movie, which recently won many Academy Awards, follows Dr. Robert Ballard's dramatic discovery of the once mighty liner on its side at the bottom of the Atlantic in 1985.
That same year, an Irish Jesuit, Father E. E. O'Donnell, located the trunk containing 40,000 negatives by another Jesuit, Father Browne; including negatives of the Titanic on the earlier run from Cherbourg to Southampton, then disembarking at Queenstown. Father Browne went on to serve as a Chaplain in the British Army who again served in World War II. He continued to take photographs all his life.
E. E. O'Donnell, who recently appeared at the Archives in Washington, D.C., has published, The Last Days of The Titanic, with foreword by Dr. Robert D. Ballard. This book, with its photographic record, is one of the best reminders of the Titanic and what it and its crew and passengers were doing a few days before the tragedy.
A second book, The Titanic Disaster Hearings-The Official Transcript of The 1912 Senate Investigation, by New York Times Editor Tom Kuntz, returns to the original U.S. Senate hearings in an attempt to learn what took place that fatal night in the North Atlantic.
My interest in telecommunications, which was my lifelong career, hastens me to relate what was encountered by Senior Wireless Operator Jack Phillips and his assistant Harod S. Bride in the moments before the iceberg struck! Father O'Donnell's book contains a picture of the two wireless operators, as well as a view of the Wireless Shack taken by Father Browne.
Harold S. Bride, who survived the sinking, testified April 20, 1912, at the U.S. Senate hearings held by Senator William Alden Smith in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Mr. Bride was then 22 and was among the last to leave the ship. He sat in a wheel chair, with his left foot bandaged.
Guglielmo Marconi, wireless pioneer inventor, was called by Senator Smith to testify. He answered specific questions about the role his wireless telegraph played in the tragedy.
This testimony was key to the investigation but has been long overlooked by historians until Tony Kuntz tracked down the official testimony in New York City's U.S. Government archives. Once again, first-hand witnesses told of their experiences; only a few days after they were rescued by the Carpathia and taken to New York City.
Background to Distress Signals
There is little on wireless telecommunications in George F. Oslin's, The Story of Telecommunications, since he focuses on America's role and does not include the international advances and inventors of the day. One of the most brilliant was the Italian, Giuseppe Marconi who is acknowledged to be the "Father of Wireless Telegraphy."
Anna Jameson, whose family owned Haig & Haig Scotch, married Marconi, probably her family provided Marconi with funds for his research and development of wireless telegraphy. Olsin does mention briefly that Marconi devoted his life to scientific development under Fascism and was a friend of the Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini. In 1927, Mussolini was best man at Marconi's wedding.
It will be recalled David Sarnoff, later a rival of Marconi, began as an office boy for the Marconi company, and provided relay of messages to ships assisting in the Titanic rescue.
Marconi first tested his wireless telegraphy in 1895, but it should be recalled, Nikola Teslo, a Yugoslav, demonstrated wireless in 1893, at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. Oslin noted the U.S. Supreme Court Ruled Teslo's patent predated Marconi's.
General Electric bought American Marconi from the British in 1919. RCA then agreed to operate Marconi's transatlantic wireless telegraph stations.
(I wish to point out that when WW I ended, only one house in four had electricity in the U.S. The washing machine, vacuum cleaner and other electrical appliances were unknown. My mother washed in stone laundry tubs; and beat the parlor rugs on a clothes line. She cooked on a wood/coal stove.)
In 1917, Marconi wireless stations were turned over to RCA to operate circuits to England, Hawaii, and Japan. RCA in 1920, operated wireless telegraph at Rocky Point, Long Island. As far back as 1903, Marconi had a station at Cape Cod, off Massachusetts. By 1920, Great Britain and the U.S. dominated world communications.
Guglielmo Marconi was born in 1874, in Italy. He died in 1927.
In 1901, he transmitted long-wave radio signals across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1909, Marconi shared the Noble Peace Prize in Physics (with Karl Bruan of Germany).
David Kahn, who wrote the Codebreakers, the massive book on the use of code and ciphers said, "The inventor of radio, Guglielmo Marconi, reported radio signals heard by his company on both sides of the Atlantic might be signals from another planet." But today, scientists think Marconi might have heard "whistlers," caused by lightening.
Marconi is also credited, by Ronald Clark writing in The Man Who Broke Purple, re William Friedman, with useing a primitive radar device in the 1920's to avoid collisions at sea by ships.
When Colonel Abraham Sinkov went to England, during the war, and exchanged cryptographic systems and equipment with the British Government, he returned to the U.S. with the Marconi-Adcock High Frequency Director. Colonel Sinkov, who was my Commanding Officer at Central Bureau in the Southwest Pacific, recently died in Arizona, after a lifetime spent in assisting the United States Government and the U.S. Army Signal Corps develop codes and ciphers.
The Signal Secrets by Nigel West, who traces the British battle against wireless telegraphy by intercepting coded traffic, had this to say in his book about Guglielmo Marconi. "He was the first man to construct an apparatus capable of sending, and amplifying, and receiving wireless signals."
Marconi believed his invention would revolutionize communications, especially ocean shipping. Turned down in his native Italy, he went to London, then center of the maritime world. His wife's cousin, Jamison Davis, had transmitted a radio signal from GPO Queen Victoria Street over a mile in distance. Soon, the British Navy was interested. Then the GPO became interested. In 1897, a shore station was sending over twenty miles. Wireless had proven itself in 1898. In 1899, Marconi's equipment was installed in shore stations. In 1902, the Admiralty bought Marconi's equipment. Now Marconi formed his own wireless company.
Wireless signals were next received from Cornwall to Newfoundland.
As the testimony was heard in New York City, Harold Bride would testify the second day. He answered questions from Senator Smith about a message received from the Californian, delivered to the Titanic's Captain Smith, that three icebergs had been passed late in the afternoon.
Bride acknowledged receipt of the message from the Californian that they had passed the three large icebergs and also gave their latitude and longitude. It was not an official message, so no record was kept.
Will Naeher has begun an interesting series of stories about State Department communications. It thus seems appropriate to add a kind of sidebar to his narrative; this one focusing on the Foreign Service aspect and, in particular, how RUFHOL came about. It still amazes me that the Department's first on-line post came into being not only without funding, planning or engineering from the Department but without it's knowledge!
First, a little background
In the late fifties and early sixties the Embassy in Bonn was, in addition to providing normal communications to a large embassy, charged with the responsibility of relaying telegrams between our eastern European missions, then called "legations" and the rest of the world. That means our Legations (Warsaw, Bucharest, Belgrade, Budapest, Sofia, Prague - they were legations before they became embassies) and our Embassy in Moscow encrypted telegrams in five-letter code groups. These telegrams were sent via commercial means to the Embassy in Bonn for preparation into ACP 127 format and then forwarded to all addressees by the unclassified wireroom. A great many of these telegrams were so battered in transmission, perhaps by communist design, that they were sent to our communications center so that we could decrypt or at least try to decrypt them and reconstitute them into proper five-letter groups. We had a high success rate but it was not uncommon for one person to labor for hours trying to decrypt one telegram. Retransmissions from the originator were also common and then piecing the various versions together would be required, a process which could take a day or more. One need hardly comment that this process was slow and painful.
The Embassy's fastest means of transmission for telegrams needing encryption was via the use of one-time tape but even OTT was slow compared to the speed at which the U.S. military operated. In Germany there was a particular problem in that the President's representative, Ambassador Dowling was the U.S. boss even though there were two four-star general officers who commanded considerable forces in Germany. The Air Force commander at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden commanded U.S. Air Force in Europe while the Army commander at Heidelberg commanded all Army troops in Europe. In addition to these military commanders, CINCEUR was located in France. All these military headquarters needed to coordinate on a regular basis with the Ambassador in Bonn on whose turf most of the U.S. military forces in Europe were stationed. The means of communications was via OTT, a process which the military considered totally inadequate for the job. Given the political and military problems in the region, i.e., the Berlin Wall, occasional roadblocks on the West Germany to West Berlin autobahn, general harassment by the communist authorities, whenever and wherever they could generate it. An improvement in communications was obviously necessary. However the Department of State was in no position to provide it and Ambassador Dowling wouldn't let the military do it.
I recall stories told by the then communications officer in Bonn, Howard Brandli, describing the attempts made by various military headquarters to improve the situation at the Embassy in Bonn and that Ambassador Dowling adamantly refused to allow any increased military presence in or near the Embassy. The military offered to send in mobile communications vehicles; park them in back of the chancery; hide them in the trees, whatever, because they realized our communications system was hopeless. Our only channel with them was from our unclassified relay station to the military relay station in Pirmasens and I recall that we used to bemoan the state of that facility. It was so bad that when we received a telegram encrypted in OTT, the first thing we did was request a retransmission; then we'd start the process of breaking it, fervently praying to St. WhoeverLooksOver OTT, that when we started breaking a message that it would decrypt throughout, something which rarely happened. Likewise whenever we sent an urgent message to one or all of the military commands, we waited twenty minutes and sent it again because we knew it was really going to get scrambled going through Pirmasens.
Then, I guess in 1962, we were notified that President Kennedy was going to make a trip to Berlin and Bonn. In preparation for the trip, one which was scheduled to take place in just a few weeks' time, an army Major from White House Communications (I think before it became known as WHCA) came to take stock of what would be needed to support the President while in Bonn. Howard Brandli was told that three separate secure channels would be required and that all equipment and technical personnel needed for immediate installation were ordered from the military. To accommodate the equipment, half of the pouch room, which was adjacent to the communications center, was blocked off from the front half of the pouch room and a doorway was punched through the common wall to make it the new "on-line" room. Three sets of KW-26's were installed, with M-28 teletype equipment, and the required channels were activated to support the President. Several window air conditioners were installed to cool the "on line" room. White House personnel manned the circuits during the Presidential visit.
The President came; he saw; he went (to Berlin where he called himself a jelly donut ' Ich bin ein Berliner) and when he was gone from Bonn the White House major asked Brandli what he wanted done with the equipment. Brandli was baffled and commented that we had neither the trained personnel to operate the equipment or technical staff to maintain it. At about this point, a representative of one of the military commands in Europe stepped in and made the offer of training our people and providing any technical assistance we would ever need. This was seen by the military as a golden opportunity since the equipment was here and working. All we need do was keep the equipment up and running and they would provide the circuits to the various military commands. All charges, crypto material and anything else we would want would be taken care of by the military. I think they would have provided dancing girls too if Brandli had asked. I don't know who, in Bonn, gave the OK but someone did and that was it. We were on line with two major military commands and one common user military relay station. I believe the Air Force in Wiesbaden also requested to install a direct line to that HQ but it was felt our little "on line" room was full up.
Then, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
Our capacity for communicating with the military went overnight from pathetic to outstanding. Oh, we could communicate with CINCUSAFE in Wiesbaden through CINCEUR or CINCUSAREUR so the Air Force wasn't left out. Training in the use of the new equipment was quick and easy but we were told by Brandli that we could not send any State traffic through these channels except those addressed only to the Department. In those days, I understand the Department had several on-line channels; several to the Pentagon and just a few to other places in the D.C. area. We asked the military if they would relay these telegrams to the Department and, of course, the answer was in the affirmative. Again, I think if Brandli had told them he didn't like the color of the equipment they would have painted new ones and sent them over.
Since we could only send State telegrams addressed to SecState only, we probably only sent a hundred or so before we received an interesting telegram from the Department. It asked how we were getting our telegrams on line! Personally, I think Brandli was ready to burst for wanting to tell the Department that we had three on-line channels; could get more if we wanted; had our own source of crypto material and maintenance, our operators were trained and proficient and thanks for nothing! I do know that he was steamed at the Department because new operators assigned to Bonn learned how it is done in the Foreign Service and then got shipped to Budapest, Warsaw, Moscow and elsewhere to fill vacancies at those posts. Len Buflo, Brandli's deputy, especially felt we were being used as a training ground and that we were badly understaffed as a consequence.
My memory is a bit vague now but I believe the Department accepted the situation without rancor and asked us what we would like for a routing indicator! Since Bonn relay was already RUFH, Brandli decided to call us "Bonn on-line", or RUFHOL. I do remember trying to argue them out of such a tacky R.I., but was told "shaddup."
There is one more chapter to the "Bonn" story which I'll relate next.
The recent story of the Powerball winnings, of a giant jackpot, by a group of machinists from Ohio reminded me of another story, that was on a much lesser scale.
In the late 60s, when Herb Horacek and I were running communications in London, we would often go down to the Turf Accountant on Saturdays, place a few bets, either staying there or going home to watch on TV. At that time, the British Racing introduced a jackpot betting scheme of Pick Six. One had to pick six winners in a row, in order to seize the jackpot. This went along with the many betting schemes the British had always had, such as exacta, triples, cross betting different tracks, and so on. Well, Herb said, Lou, we can hit that as follows: take a few horses each race, or singly if the horse was a standout, pool our bets with others to cover the sequences, etc. Sure enough, we went at it with about six others and hit it the first crack, though the payoff was modest, about 30 English pounds each. The small payoff was due to almost all the races going to the favorites and having many winners of the jackpot. Our fame was spreading and others were lining up to get in on the action. People would venture 10 shillings or a pound sterling, except for Herb and I, who put in five pounds and later three more each to cover the bet, which was a little shy of the funds needed. Herb sat down and began handicapping and with some kibitzing from me, our formula was prepared; two horses in the first, three in the second, etc. Off we went to place our large bet involving about 16 people; and then we awaited the start of race one.
In the Political Section, there was a Reuters printer and they included racing results from the track we were interested in. Herb and I called down to the secretaries, one of whom was a bettor, and asked them to check the printer and advise us of the results. The first, second and third races were ours. The tension began to mount and we captured the winner of the fourth and fifth races, thanks to the input from the Reuters and THE secretaries. Herb and I couldn't wait any longer, since our hopes rested with the final race in which we had only one horse going, the favorite. Off we dashed to the Turf Accountant to catch the last race. As we entered the race was off and running. Who should be in the lead but our favorite and he won going away, by some 12 lengths. The next question was "how much did we win," thinking it would be a pretty good payoff, with some long shots among our winners. That evening the radio provided the wining sum and we knew the payoff was pretty grand. Those of us who had put in five pounds or more, winning from six to nine hundred dollars. Since Herb and I had to chip in those extra pounds, it paid off handsomely. In those days $900 was a pricey sum.
The next morning, bright and early, as the Turf Accountant opened we called ahead asking that our payoff be in small denominations with no really big bills. Herb, Walt Swierczek, and I went down and collected our loot. Marching back to the Embassy we had a horde of collectors awaiting their shares. The payoffs were made, our frame soaring about the Embassy and everyone wanting to get in on the next go. Our fame faded quickly; no further winnings were ours.
Now if Herb and the rest of us were together, there is no doubt in my mind that the lottery would be ours, professionally managed by Herb. So, Herb, come on down to Washington and lets go at it one more time when the next window of opportunity of $100 million or so is there for the taking. If that fails, there is always Charlestown and Laurel tracks. Fond regards.
When the winter winds blow and the winter snows snow, I often think of when I was a sled-riding kid back in the 40's. I grew up in the little town of Waterford which is located in the upper left corner of Pennsylvania. You know, that little pointy part that is half in New York, half in Ohio and half in Lake Erie. Thanks to Lake Erie, we always had plenty of snow, and sledding was a way of life for us kids.
Those were real sleds we had back then, not the dinky plastic thing you see around nowadays. No sir! Our sleds were build tough --- hardwood bed, steel frame, steel runners, nuts, bolts, rivets --- oh yeah, those were sleds!
My first sled was a 3-footer, and my sledding consisted primarily of Mom and Dad pulling me around. All kids had sleds, and if there was no one to pull you, you just pulled the empty sled around by yourself.
The big kids would go belly-slamming in the road. It was fairly safe, there not being much traffic then. To belly-slam, you carried the sled in front of you, ran like the dickens and slammed yourself and the sled down onto the hard-packed snow. It was surprising how far you could go!
I was too young for this. Heck, I wasn't even allowed to cross the street much less slide on it. After watching the big kids, I thought I ought to be able to do the same thing in the safety of the backyard. I didn't realize that hard packed snow is a must for belly-slamming. So I tried it in the soft, fluffy stuff. I ran as fast as I could and slammed down onto the sled, The sled never moved and inch! Neither did I, having a very good grip for a little kid. Except for my head. It went down, driving my chin onto the steering mechanism. I still have the chipped front tooth, which was brand new at the time, to remind me of that episode.
For really good sledding, three things are required: a sled, a kid, and a hill. In our part of town, there just weren't any hills. Well, there were, but as I said before, I wasn't allowed to cross the street.
My cousin, Neil, (older and bigger than I), came to the rescue. With a little ingenuity and a snow shovel he built a hill by packing snow in the front steps. Starting with a push off the porch, I would go zooming down the steps, down the long sidewalk, and down the bank to the ditch, stopping just short of the road. I couldn't go any further because I wasn't allowed to cross the street.
What a fun day that was! I think I nearly wore out the sled runners. I nearly wore out Neil, too, since he had to re-pack the steps after every couple of runs.
After I had muddled my way through more than ten years of life, we moved way up to the other end of town. What a great place it was! I was practically out in the country with my school chum, Bud, living right next door. And in back of our home, a hill!
There was a narrow cornfield between Bud's house and mine, and when the first snow fell, we walked back through the field and up the hill. At the top of the hill was a small woods, and as you entered the woods, you went downhill again. We slid both directions --- into the woods and out of the woods.
Sliding in the woods was really the most fun because you had to go around trees. And until you got a track made, you didn't always go around the trees. Slow as we went, it was still a bone-jarring experience to impact even a very small tree.
Many times there wasn't very much snow in the woods. After a few trips down the hill, we were sliding mostly on wet, half-frozen leaves. I didn't care. It was a hundred times better than our old place.
Bud was more daring than I. He had a pair of skis, the kind with straps that you just scuffed your feet into. He used to ski down through the cornfield. Maybe I should say he used to try to ski. It seems like the snow was never quite right for skiing, and besides, the hill just wasn't steep enough. I don't think he ever went more than a few feet at a time. Nevertheless, it looked too dangerous to me, so I never tried it.
My cousin Donnie often came over after school to go sledding. He and I usually slid in the field instead of the woods. We'd slide and slide until the street lights came on, the universal signal for all kids to go home.
One day we were sliding in what had been a couple of inches of wet snow. When the street lights came on, we said, "One more time!", and climbed back up the hill.
"One more time" is a very dangerous thing to say and even more dangerous to participate in.
Donnie went down first. I followed. By now, the snow was worn away to mud at an old dead furrow near the bottom of the hill. I came down faster than any trip of the day! The sled hit the mud and stopped dead. (Hence the name "dead furrow"). This time, I didn't stop! I zipped off the sled face-first through mud, snow, stones, and perhaps a few small rodents who had been hibernating there until I passed through!
Well, I didn't break anything and I didn't bleed too much, but I did have a sore nose and mouth for the next few days. Sometimes I think I could still spit out a little gravel, but I guess it's just my imagination.
A few years later, I got a toboggan for Christmas. Toboggans are neat because they go in almost any kind of snow whether it's deep or not. A regular sled needs special snow and not too much of it.
For the uninitiated, a toboggan is a runner-less sled made entirely of hardwood --- maple or ash or something. The wood is curled into a half-circle at the front which makes it glide easily through the snow and helps make the toboggan look like something other than a plank.
Rather than go into all my tobogganing exploits, let me instead give you of a few basic toboggan rules that I learned:
1. If you are barreling downhill and over a "jump", try to maintain contact with the toboggan. If you and the toboggan become separated, there is no guarantee as to what position either will be in upon landing.
2. If a collision with a tree, house, or large animal is imminent, it is perfectly ethical to leave the toboggan in any convenient manner. You are under no obligation to stay aboard.
3. Do not allow yourself to be towed on a toboggan behind a car. When the car stops, you will not, and will therefore get to see a lot more of the underside of an automobile than is necessary.
4. If, while lying on a toboggan, you see good prospects for a "head-on", do not stick your head under the "curl" for protection. While it may seem like a good idea, independent research has proven otherwise.
Over the last few decades, my sledding days have dwindled to zero, but you know, it still sounds like fun. I have an old sled. And not too far across from our place, there is a dandy-looking hill. I'm often tempted to try it out some winder day. Only three things keep me from it: (1) I get cold sooner than I used to; (2) I get tired sooner than I used to; and (3) I' m still not allowed to cross the street!
We were stunned at Samson's death. For weeks after he died we wept whenever we thought about him but assured each other that it was all right. We realized that many people would consider such behavior silly, so we kept it within the family. We had shared so many amusing and loving experiences with our little dog and missed his à.. well, "personality." Friends advised us to get a new dog or cat or something. We were grateful for their concern but my wife and I agreed that there would be no replacement. At some point in the future we would get another dog but it would not be a "replacement." The girls were still very young and didn't really have much to say about it. For a while anyway.
I finished my assignment in Cape Town, two years after Samson died and we went on our roundabout way to our next post.
It didn't take long for my girls, all three of them, to take notice of the really beautiful dogs in Budapest. We arrived in Hungary in June and within a month they had devised a scheme to win me over. They took the opportunity to point out every poodle that came along. They were fine looking dogs but I was very much opposed to getting another one for a long time. Samson's death was just too hard. But how long can a man deny two sweet little girls and a clever woman? I held 'em off until November. Then, plans made by my wife and an accomplice in the Embassy were sprung ... ah say "sprung" on me. I was presented with the name and address of a lady who bred poodles using sires flown in from Britain; the pedigree was impeccable; the price, as everything else in Hungary, was cheap; a litter was being weaned and a pup would be available in one week. In football parlance, I had been blitzed.
A check was handed to the Hungarian accomplice in the Embassy and we were notified to go to a certain address in a few days. We went and were handed a black ball of fur and given a warning to watch out for leaks. When young, they leak a lot.
Oh, I had also lost the vote on the name for this creature. It was 3 to 1 in favor of Gypsy. "It's a male!", I shouted, "You can't give a girl's name to a male."
My wife was also prepared for this. She said the Hungarian word for gypsy is "Cygan" which is what they first wanted to name him but she realized that few people would know what "Cygan" was and might think his name was "Cigar". So they opted for the English equivalent. Anyway, she added there certainly are male and female gypsies. So, having lost the battle, this skirmish was relatively easy to concede.
"That Gypsy", as he came to be called, immediately set out to win our hearts as only a puppy can. His first act was as follows:
We took him home and went straight to the kitchen where the floor was all ceramic tile. The girls got down on the floor; he ran to them and played, first on one lap then on the other, licking faces, yelping in delight. Across the floor, by the sink, was a pile of newspapers. We made certain he saw them but had no confidence that he would give a hoot. After several minutes of play though, he abruptly left the girls to run across the floor and tinkled on the paper. Then he returned to the girls for more play.
We laughed and exclaimed at what we'd just seen him do. In another ten minutes (we only spent the entire afternoon watching him) he broke off play once again and went to the paper and tinkled!
Well, we really wondered what the heck was going on. For the rest of the day, he repeatedly went to the paper, so we let him into the dining room and beyond to the living room. Each time he felt the need, he ran into the kitchen and went to the paper. I guess we felt we had a genius dog on our hands.
A day or two later, the conspirator in the Embassy asked me how we liked our new dog. I told her he was great and remarked on his built-in paper training. She laughed and said it was no accident at all. She proceeded to explain the situation. That will be the subject of the next story on "That Gypsy."