CANDOER News

Celebrate Freedom

Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
Issue 39March 1999Volume 4 - Number 4

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

ATS History

Shielded Enclosure

by Will Naeher

Most electrical and electronic equipment radiates data which reveals the information being processed. This information can be intercepted with sophisticated equipment which can be located some distance away. Techniques can be applied to reduce this radiation. The program designed to this effort is called TEMPEST. The ATS contract stipulated that the ATS system must meet the TEMPEST Standards as promulgated by the National Security Agency. Much of the equipment in the ATS system had to be modified to met these standards. To make certain that the equipment did not emit data, it was enclosed in a large shielded enclosure. This was constructed using a system of interlocking fingers on doors, which ensures the integrity of the enclosure when entering, similar to a submarine. The enclosure was constructed of large sections of steel laminated on both sides of plywood and connected together with strips of metal to prevent leakage. Any penetration of the enclosure, such as electrical wiring, air conditioning, communications circuits, had to transit wave guides, filters, and approved isolators. At the time of the installation of the ATS system, the enclosure was the largest in the world; well over 15,000 feet.

An interesting arrangement of copper fingers, to ensure an electric bond, was installed on the doors to permit opening and closing and to maintain the integrity of the enclosure.

Even though the equipment met TEMPEST standards, it was still installed in the enclosure. A false floor was installed to permit the passage of air conditioning under the equipment and to permit electrical circuits and signal lines to be installed. These lines were installed in non-ferrous conduit to prevent any cross radiation from one circuit to another.

These electrical circuits became a source of problems. After they were installed, it was discovered that the sections of the conduit were connected with ferrous metal connectors. This, of course, affected the TEMPEST integrity of the conduit. The conduit had to be replaced at great expense to the contractor.

Some years later, when the electrical circuits and signal lines had to be replaced, the contractor doing this job was very confused about the number of pipes running under the floor. It only made sense to him when he was told of the previous situation.

Letter to the Editor

The following E-mail message was received from Jim Prosser:

Bob:

It was great fun to read Will Naeher's account of the ATS History in the February CANDOER News. It took a lot of good, dedicated people to bring State communications literally out of the stone ages into the 1960's.

Seeing the names of many of those folks brought back a lot of memories and the friendships which followed from their acquaintance.

/s/ Jim Prosser

Cat's Corner

Due to the generosity of all members, the Memorial fund is presently well over sixteen hundred dollars, and growing at the rate of over a hundred dollars a month. The expenditures from this fund have been averaging around $300 a year. At this level, I have sufficient funds to last five years. (To tell you the truth, I hope they last for 20 years.)

I am asking ALL CANDOERs to reduce their donations to the Memorial fund. Because of the money available in the Memorial fund, effectively immediately, donations to the CANDOER for a years subscription to the News will be reduced to $16 for the Hard Copy version of the News and $5 for the Electronic Copy of the news.

I reiterate, PLEASE, do not donate to the Memorial fund.

Luncheon Log

The following people attended the February luncheon at TGIF's on February 9: Bob Catlin, Chuck Chesteen, Lou Correri, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Tom Forbes, Charlie Hoffman, Mel Maples, Tom Paolozzi, Robby Robinson, Bob Scheller, Val Taylor, John Tyburski, and Tom Warren.

And for his first CANDOER luncheon, a big CANDOER WELCOME to Manny Valdez.

GOOD NEWS

Up-Date - Frank Pressley/Clyde Hirn

By the time you read this, both Frank and Clyde will have recovered from their numerous injuries and will be back to work.

FRANK PRESSLEY

Frank left Thursday evening, February 4th, for assignment as IMO, Frankfurt, Germany.

His wife, Yasemin, his two sons, and his mother-in-law will continued on from Frankfurt to Ankara, Turkey. Frank will remain on assignment in Frankfurt. Their third child is due in late March. Frank will later fly to Ankara to be with Yasemin for the birth.

Frank reported he still has several operations to undergo on his jaw, in the September/October time frame. Later this summer, Frank will the Washington area to conduct some personal business and hopes to join us at another Luncheon.

Frank will let me know when he is settled and has an E-mail address. His snail mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

CLYDE HIRN

I received an E-mail report about Clyde from Ellie Hubble, Clyde's sister. Ellie reported that Clyde was cleared by the doctors in Ohio and at the Department to go back to work. He left in early February for an assignment to Pretoria. She reported he was anxious to get back to work and says that he feels very well.

Ellie asked that I thank all the CANDOERs for your moral support and prayers during Clyde's time of crisis and to let you know that she and the family appreciated your support and kindness.

CANDOER Southwest Luncheon Log
by Jim Prosser in Albuquerque

On February 16th, CANDOERs and visitors from the Albuquerque region gathered at the County Line Restaurant for an extended evening of fine dining and camaraderie. Present were: Don Woellert and Charlotte Norwood, Anita Petrosky, Glenn and Gladys Powell, Oliver and Jan Saw, Alice Boynton, James "Jake" Kocher, Judy Chidester, Bob and Marilyn Caffrey, Larry and Gerri Ward, Shirley Epstein, and James and Mary Prosser.

Retiree's Report

On January 28, I received word from Will Naeher that he and Doris were leaving on January 30 for a two month stay in North Fort Meyer. He will have a computer available and will be keeping in touch via E-mail.

On February 2, I received an E-mail message from Frank Pressley furnishing a new, temporary E-mail address and his new snail-mail address in Frankfurt. This information may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

On February 3, I received a letter and check from newly retired CANDOER, Phil Tinney. Phil's bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue. His E-mail address may be found on the last page of this and every issue.

On February 3, I received an E-mail message from Will Naeher furnishing a temporary E-mail address for the two month period he will be in Florida. The temporary address may be found, along with his permanent E-mail address on the last page of this issue.

On February 4, I received an e-mail from Jim Norton furnishing a new E-mail address. This new E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this and future issues.

On February 4, I received a long snail-mail letter from Babe and Patti. They are doing well. They plan to go on a trip out west at the end of April to see Babe's youngest daughter and newest grandchild. On the way, they will make several other stops, including visits to Babe's son and oldest daughter.

On February 4, I received an E-mail from Tim Taylor. Tim has dropped his secondary E-mail address with JUNO. He will continue to use the @schoollink.net address.

On February 8, I received a note from Bill Weatherford. Bill said, "I got a charge from Lou Correri's writeup on our capers in London."

On February 16, I received a check and Personal Data Form from Joe Talbot. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section. His E-mail address may be found on the last page of this and every issue.

On February 23, I was informed by Ray Russel that he is now on-line. Ray's E-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues.

Remembering The Titanic and Its Wireless Operators
by Graham Lobb

Final Part of Three

The Collision

At 11:46 p.m., April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck the ice.

The ship was immediately in serious condition. Water caused added weight to the ship, as the bow sank deeper and deeper.

The supposedly water-tight compartments were not water tight, and the sinking of the vessel followed.

Distress Calls Sent Out (C.Q.D.)

No signal alarm was sounded. No whistle blown and no systematic warning was given to the passengers. Within 15 to 20 minutes, the Captain visited the Wireless Room and instructed the operator to get assistance by sending out the distress, C.Q.D.

Distress Calls Heard

The distress call was heard by the wireless station at Cape Race, New Brunswick, that evening at 10:25, P.M., New York time, together with the report that she had struck an iceberg. The Carpathia, fortunately, and largely by chance, heard the Titanic's C.Q.D. The Baltic and the Carpathia lost touch about the same time. The last message received being, "engine room getting flooded."

The Carpathia was 58 miles away and steered a course 52 leagues west to reach the Titanic.

Other Events of Distress Calls Heard

This distress call was heard by the Wireless Station at Cape Race that evening at 10:25 p.m., New York time, together with the report that the ship had struck an iceberg and at the same time was accidentally overheard by the Mount Temple, which was immediately turned around toward the Titanic. Within two or three minutes, a reply was received from the Frankfurt. Within 10 minutes, the wireless operator of the Carpathia fortunately and largely by chance heard the Titanic's C.Q.D. call, which he reported at once to the bridge and to the Captain. The Carpathia was immediately turned around and reported her latitude and longitude to the Titanic, together with the fact she was steaming full speed toward the stricken ship. The Frankfurt, however, did not give the latitude or longitude, and after waiting 20 minutes asked the operator of the Titanic, "What is the matter?" To this the Titanic operator (Phillips) replied that he was a fool.

In view of the fact that no position had been given by the Frankfurt, and that her exact distance from the Titanic was unknown at the time, the answer of the operator of the Titanic was scarcely such as prudence would have dictated. Notwithstanding this, however, the Frankfurt was overheard by the Mount Temple to report, "Our Captain will go for you." Communications was promptly started with the Olympic, the Baltic, and the Caronia, some 800 miles to the eastward, who overheard the Titanic's C.Q.D. The wireless messages of the Titanic were recorded in part by the Cape Race Station and by the Mount Temple and in part by the Baltic. The Mount Temple last heard the Titanic after the accident after 11:47 p.m., New York time. The Baltic and the Carpathia lost touch about the same time, the last message they received being, "Engine room getting flooded."

The Virginia last heard the Titanic's signals at 12:27 a.m., New York time and reported them blurred, and ending abruptly.

The California was nearer the Titanic but somehow failed to respond.

Titanic Lifeboats Launched

There was no system adopted for launching the lifeboats. There was great indecision on the deck from which boats were to be loaded. The women and children were given preference.

Capacity of Lifeboats

The Titanic was provided with enough lifeboats to carry 1,176 persons but only 706 were saved.

Radio Telegraphy or Wireless

This committee finds this catastrophic regulation of radio telegraph. There must be an operator on duty at all times, day and night, to insure the immediate receipt of all distress warning or other important calls. Direct communications either by clear speaking telephone, voice tube, or messenger, must be provided between the wireless room and the bridge so that the operator does not have to leave his station. There must be definite legislation to prevent interference by amateurs and to secure secrecy of radio, radio telegrams, or wireless messages. There must be some source of auxiliary power, either storage battery or oil engine, to insure the operation of the wireless installation, until the wireless room is submerged.

Harold S. Bride, 22, of London, second wireless operator survived the accident and testified April 1912. He was among the last to leave the ship.

Jack Phillips, senior wireless operator, died of exposure at sea.

Epilogue

Father E. E. O'Donnell's, The Last Days of The Titanic, contains photographs by Father Frank Browne of the Marconi Wireless room with Harold Bride sitting at the table, then a picture of Jack Phillips, who was lost on the Titanic.

Father Browne's photo of the Titanic Wireless room was the only photograph taken. Bride escaped by swimming from the sinking liner by clinging to a collapsible boat, until rescued and taken to the Carpathia.

Father Browne, who got off the Titanic at Queenstown, later Cobh, Ireland, gave lectures by magic lantern slides.

Father O'Donnel's book contains a forward by Dr. Robert D. Ballard, who discovered the Titanic's remains on the floor of the North Atlantic in 1985 in a valuable historic book, which will outlive the block-buster movie millions raced to see for entertainment.

In Conclusion

C.Q.D., the distress call sent by the Titanic Marconi Wireless operator assigned to the White Star Line by the Marconi Company, was later replaced by the International Distress Signal, S.O.S., which had been previously adopted by maritime nations at an international conference.

Thoughts

The following thoughts were received from Paul Del Giudice.

Great Truths About Life That Adults Have Learned

Raising teenagers is like nailing JELL-O to a tree.

There is always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.

One reason to smile is that every seven minutes of every day, someone in an aerobics class pulls a hamstring.

The best way to keep kids at home is to make the home a pleasant atmosphere... and let the air out of their tires.

Car sickness is the feeling you get when the monthly car payment is due.

Families are like fudge .. mostly sweet with a few nuts.

Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.

Laughing helps. It's like jogging on the inside.

Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.

My mind not only wanders, sometimes it leaves completely.

If you can remain calm, you just don't have all the facts.

You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you're down there.

That Gypsy - (Bonding)
by Jim Steeves

Bonding is a great thing for people, but I'm not sure it's such a good thing for pets. Let me explain. Gypsy started off sleeping in a box in the kitchen. When he learned to be quiet, we moved his box to our bedroom. My wife could thus easily hear the sounds he made, when he had to go outside. Way before the crack of dawn, or at any other time of the night, without regard to whatever awful weather might be out there, I made the sacrifice of bolting out of bed, whenever a sharp elbow in the ribs alerted me that MY dog wanted to go out. At various other times, when the wind-chill factor was 120 below zero or 65 inches of rain per hour was falling during a hurricane, it was my job to take him out. My safety and comfort counted for squat. I often sneaked him a choice piece of meat, whereas my wife occasionally gave him one so small he wouldn't find it if it fell to the floor. It didn't matter. He was my wife's dog except when I was snuggled in a recliner chair, during cold weather, when he'd worm his way between me and the left arm of that recliner. I'd squeeze myself against the right arm to make room for the ingrate but it counted for nada. If a snack possibility arose, he came to me instead of wasting time going to my wife.

Maybe it was the bonding. When he had been part of our family just a few days and weighed half a pound, he "helped" my wife do housework. We had one particular piece of furniture that was as high as the ceiling and about 14 feet in length. This item had doors; a couple dozen shelves; a TV and a VCR and lots of books and assorted junk. As soon as she got down on her knees to start dusting that thing, Gypsy settled down on the back of her legs. Sounds impossible but he did it. She thought it was cute and encouraged him by carefully inching along, dusting and petting. When she had finished all she could reach on her knees, she carried him over to the couch and held him on her lap while she rested. After a few minutes working on the next chore, she'd sit and rest again and pet the pup. In the course of the day, she got a lot more petting done than housework. And I hasten to declare, she got a lot more housework done than I ever did.

Years later my wife would pick me up at the airport after weeks being away on TDY. Perhaps you would think that since she'd been gone from the house for an hour, I'd get some attention when I got home. Well that ungrateful beast would run right past me, teddy bear in his mouth, to greet her! She was gone; she was back! Picture Snoopy dancing with joy. She'd still be in the car gathering what a woman gathers after a trip to the airport, while I'd have my bags unpacked and the lawn mower running while Gypsy would be going wild alongside the car because my wife came home! After all the time, attention, and sacrifices I'd made for him, I got no respect at all from that ungrateful dog. He sure was cute though; running around with that silly teddy bear. Whenever I stayed home while she went shopping it was amusing to watch him when he heard the garage door open. He'd frantically run around the house looking for his teddy bear, eventually find it and then run to the laundry room to wait for her to open the door to the garage. Dumb dog. Very lovable though.

Rome - Then and Now
by James F. Prosser

It is rather unusual to begin and end one's Foreign Service career at the same post, especially when that career spanned 44 years, including breaks in service. The circumstances under which Ruth Hummel (nee Crawford) did it are most interesting and noteworthy.

Ruth Crawford arrived in Rome the first time as a code clerk on April 1, 1945, while World War II was still being waged in northern Italy. She stayed more than eight years, resigning in December 1953. Between 1953 and her Rome in 1986, she married, raised a family, and held a series of positions in and out of government, including the State Department. Returning to Rome the summer of 1986 to work in the Federal Aviation Administration office, she found a great number of changes since 1945-53. Some things never change in the Eternal City.

Always wanting to assist in the war effort overseas in some capacity, Ruth heard the State Department was seeking people for the Foreign Service which was to be expanded quickly after the war. She applied in the summer of 1944, was accepted and sent to Washington for several weeks training in the Cryptography Division, then under U.S. Navy Captain Lee Parke. Her training and work schedule was always in the evening, which was the busiest time of the day then in the State Department's communications center.

Assigned to Rome for an unspecified period (there was no tour of duty policy in the Foreign Service then), she was the only woman and code clerk on board a U.S. Army Air Corps plane in a group of nine personnel destined for the recently opened Embassy being hurriedly augmented. The flight took several days with refueling and rest stopovers in Bermuda, the Azores, Casablanca, and Oran before finally landing in Naples. Only night flights were authorized during wartime. From Naples the group "hopped" a military vehicle for the ride to Rome.

Because of the immediate and massive post war reconstruction program the U.S. assisted Italy with, the Embassy in a few years expanded to 1,000 employees, almost equally divided between Americans and Italians. It was an extremely busy place then and still is. Today the Embassy is considerably leaner.

Communicating with family and friends in the U.S. was strictly via mail. Transatlantic telephoning was rarely done, very expensive, difficult to arrange and of poor quality. Now it is easy, of good quality and still very expensive when not using a commercial telephone credit card.

Personal mail of Embassy employees via the military postal service took more than two weeks to reach the U.S. and vice versa. That certainly has immensely improved over the years. Conversely, if one uses the Italian mail (note the word 'service' is not used), airmail letters between Italy and just about anywhere in the world cannot be delivered in less than three weeks. Delivery of a letter within Rome is never done in less than seven days. In the 2nd century when Rome was a completely walled city, letters were delivered the same day by couriers using passages in and on the walls for their rounds. Just how hopeless the Italian mail situation has gotten is demonstrated by a public statement a former minister of posts and telecommunications issued a few years ago saying he never used it and recommended no one else do so either if they valued timely delivery of their correspondence.

In 1945, there was no public transportation, automobile traffic, or means to get about, other than foot or military vehicles. The Embassy had a bus, which picked up personnel from their quarters and redelivered them after work. According to Ruth, "Upon my Rome in 1986 after an absence of 33 years, the traffic really floored me! I get lost now, when I knew Rome perfectly well then. The one-way streets and continual traffic jams now are very frustrating." It is interesting to note that in the first century, Roman emperors complained bitterly about animal cart traffic conditions. Not much has changed since then, only the mode.

Eventually, Ruth purchased a surplus Army jeep for $200, which gave her considerable freedom to move about the then vacant streets of the city. She said: "My jeep was always securely chained when parked. I continually had to be on the alert for thieves who could dismember one in minutes. There were 'parking boys' to watch my jeep everywhere. Driving through Rome streets was a pleasure. No place was more than five minutes away and there wasn't any traffic. There was always a parking spot directly in front of wherever you wanted to visit." The jeep was sold for a modest profit at the end of her assignment in 1953. Today Rome doesn't have 'parking boys' or parking space, but vehicle and personal effects thievery is much more rampant. Also, profiting from sales of motor vehicles is disallowed under today's rules of personal property disposition.

Housing was initially impossible to obtain and consequently employees lived under spartan conditions in military commandeered hotels for some time. After three years in military quarters and a temporary apartment, Ruth finally obtained an apartment in the Gianicolan hill section of Rome. Driving her jeep to the Embassy hardly ever took more than five minutes, during which time it was a rare occurrence to see another private vehicle on the streets. Ruth says: "In today's chaotic Roman traffic conditions, closure of the historical city center to automobiles and lack of parking, from the same area to the Embassy it can now easily take one hour if conditions are normal."

Ruth's starting annual salary was $1,880 plus an "adequate quarters allowance". Her two apartments had no central heating. Water supply also was a problem. Initially there was no GSO section to assist an employee. "You were on your own", she said. 1949 saw the start of construction of the Grazioli Embassy apartment complex which provided staff housing in Rome on a level heretofore unknown. Subsequently, these units have undergone tremendous renovations, refurbishing, and expansion. Today, most Embassy employees are provided government housing throughout the metropolitan area and spared the frustrations of landlord negotiations.

Until about 1950, the code room was located on the 5th floor in what now is a large Embassy conference room. It was very hot in summer as fans and air conditioning were not available. In winter, heavy underwear was required to keep one's warmth and fingers nimble to work.

Ruth's eight-year tour in Rome began as a code clerk in a true sense of the definition. There were one-time-pads, strip cipher, the "brown book" of code words, and "those noisy Navy machines with rotors. There was no automation. Everyone hated the OTP as too laborious as well as the Navy machines which seemed like they were from WW-I. We worked six days a week which was the Federal custom then." In the code room there was considerable work pressure and telegraphic traffic. The code clerks did not enjoy harmonious working relationships as a result. Subsequently, Rome's communications facilities and working conditions were markedly improved.

Incredibly, Ruth said: "In those days, communications to all posts and the then nine consulates were encrypted by hand in the Rome code room. Few were transmitted electrically. Most were sent via the courier pouch for decryption at the distant end.

"A State Department diplomatic courier came to Rome by military aircraft from the Paris regional courier center each week and spent a few weeks servicing all the consulates in Italy before returning to Paris with the weekly diplomatic pouch dispatch. Embassy Rome was the hub.

"The trips were with small pouches, long and arduous, always overnight, and usually by train when available or else by military jeep. Even messages to the State Department immediately after the war (except the most urgent) were encrypted and then couriered to Washington. Eventually military and leased international circuits were established." Today, Rome's couriers arrive and depart weekly with hundreds of kilos of diplomatic material on large jet aircraft.

While she was assigned to Rome as a code clerk, after about two years Ruth was asked to "fill in" in the Ambassador's office during an extended vacancy they had because she spoke good Italian. The Ambassador was very pleased with her performance and had her permanently assigned to his office. And as was his prerogative in those years, he did not advise the Department of internal reassignments except after the fact.

The work done by the Protocol office then was all performed manually, from telephoning, guest list preparation, and invitations by the thousands. There was no automation and few typewriters in the Embassy in those early years. Today the Embassy is much better equipped with modern computers in offices.

By this time (1948), the Foreign Service Act of 1946 was enacted and it was possible for Ruth to have a home leave at government expense. Home leave travel then was only by ship, often of foreign registry, but eventually U.S. vessels began to enter the passenger trade. "Home leaves in those days were always long ones, usually three months," Ruth said. Today it is almost impossible to travel officially via ship of any registry while three month home leaves are a distant memory.

The Department also wanted to transfer Ruth to Budapest after her home leave. The Ambassador would not hear of it and so advised the Department. Ruth spent the next five years enjoying working in his extremely busy office. Again, even with the 1946 Act, Ambassadorial prerogative over assignments still prevailed.

In those years, the Embassy Rome closed the entire month of August and every employee was mandated to take their vacations only then. Annual leave outside of August was given only in dire situations. Today it is much wiser to take one's annual leave outside of August and enjoy Rome while Romans are away from the city leaving it empty for 31 glorious days free of traffic hassles and noise.

Ruth completed her tour with FAA Rome in March 1989 by retiring with her husband to her home town, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta - Follow-up
by Jim Steeves

In the absence of anyone more knowledgeable on the subject, I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth with just a touch of varnish of personal bias.

The Balloon Fiesta experiences no really dominant wind direction. Oh, strong winds do blow in Albuquerque, certainly. Just drive along Paseo del Norte when it's howling and you'll see tumbleweeds flying across the road and pile up against a wall or fence. There usually aren't any strong winds in early October and if there are, the FAA and/or Fiesta organizers suspend launching. And during the Balloon Fiesta, those winds that do blow only come up later in the day. The Fiesta time was chosen to assure both good weather and cool temperatures in the morning. The calmer and cooler the air, the better it is for hot air balloons.

Most participants will launch and fly across the city whichever way the breeze blows. The balloon field is located on the northern edge of Albuquerque but many balloons seem to go south. By the time half of the balloons have launched about 30 minutes will have passed and that's enough time for the breeze to shift as the air warms with the rising sun. Pilots want to drift west, toward the Rio Grande, so they can try to touch down in it then lift off again. Always some balloons will drift to the east, toward the Sandia Mountains. None can get over the Sandia's because they are a bit far, maybe ten miles, and way too high for hot air balloons - at over ten thousand feet at the lowest point. Probably the longest distances pilots will travel is five miles.

At around 0500, all the pilots assemble in a briefing tent. That's getting to be around 1200 pilots including husband & wife pilots. The "Dawn Patrol" comprising five balloons, are already high over the area radioing information to the briefers. The main function, though, is a bit of an air show with lights. Among the things included in the briefing is a rundown of high-power electricity transmission lines around the area. The briefing goes on for about an hour and then the pilots move off to locate their chase crews. I'm not at all sure but think the pilots also learn which will be in the first, second or third wave as well as what position in whatever wave. Those who draw first wave slots will want to get things into gear promptly. With possibly 100,000 spectators on the ground, it can be difficult to move.

Launching starts at 0700. In 1998, pilots came from 16 foreign countries and 41 states. (About 250 of them live in the Albuquerque metro area.) Some, especially visitors to Albuquerque, want to stay aloft as long as possible to watch the sky filled with balloons; to view the Rio Grande to the west and the Sandia's to the east and the Sangre Cristo mountains to the north. Some want to get down in one of the big open fields that lie just to the south, let off two passengers and take on two new ones and some want to see how far they can go. It's a pretty mixed bag.

Where and why land? Some of the really big open areas a mile south of the balloon field are, unfortunately being filled with new businesses. Many balloons run low on fuel and aim at a parking lot near a mall, strip mall, industrial plant, restaurant or in a street. They may be very low on fuel and headed for a scrap metal yard in which case the pilot may yank the cord and descend rapidly into a field or someone's back yard. In the back yard scenario, the pilot will try to keep the envelope inflated until the chase crew gets there and lifts the gondola over a fence and out to the street. It can get weird. There are still some very open spaces to the north, east, and west of the balloon field but I'd guess that good landing zones to the south will be almost non-existent in another five years.

Fiesta officials and the city of Albuquerque are building a balloon museum on the field but, as the possible large landing sites are reduced in numbers, I have to think something will have to be done such as moving the whole show, once again, to a more suitable location. Perhaps farther up the valley or over on the west side, somewhere where the "box" can provide the magic formula that makes the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta a visual spectacle without parallel.

Here are some statistics and telephone numbers: The Balloon Fiesta was capped at 850 balloons in 1998. There are 5 mass ascensions; 4 special shape events; 3 evening balloon glows, when gas is fired but balloons are tethered to the ground; 2 prize grabs (from atop a tall pole) with the biggest prize a new car. Prize grab events require that eligible pilots fly no less than a mile to the pole. Other games have been played over the years, including dropping tumbleweeds on ground targets.

Duration of flights: About 2 hours depending on: Load, weather, pilot desire, and Murphy's Law.

The balloon field is 370 acres. A friend once told me an acre is roughly the size of a football field though it doesn't have goal posts or bleachers.

About 5000 volunteers are needed to staff the chase crews. Each balloon has a chase crew which ranges in size from 5 to 40 people, depending on the balloon size. To be a member of a chase crew, call 505 821-100 ext. 231. You'll enjoy it so much you'll return again and again.

Nearby is Sandia Pueblo. They don't like non-tribal people walking around their land unless you're heading to their gambling.......oops, "gaming" casino. The pueblo is just to the north of the balloon fields. There are many other Indian casinos in the area, including one on the south side of Albuquerque (Isleta gambl.....there I go again....Isleta "Gaming" Palace) as well as around Santa Fe - just 60 miles north on I-25.

There are many other balloon flying events during the year, featuring from 40 to 50 balloon each. Info: 505 899-5542.

Balloon rides: The charge for a balloon ride during the first wave (there are three waves during a mass ascension) is $225 per person for a 45-minute ride. Flights during the other two waves are $195 per person. Later in the day the charge per person is around $135 though flying conditions deteriorate later in the day and often balloon flying is prohibited by the FAA. Balloons normally fly between 500 and 1000 feet. Call the following number for info on balloon flights: 505 293-6800.

Between flying events (during the Balloon Fiesta) things to do and see include the Atomic Museum at Kirtland AFB (see dozens of nuclear weapon casings, a B-52 and other planes and missiles) 284-3243); real Indian silver and turquoise jewelry and masses of other things new and old at the gigantic flea market every weekend; Imax theater at the Natural History Museum (841-2802) and Old Town in Santa Fe with art galleries there and on Canyon road. And don't forget the chili: You only live once!

Those Snowy Waterford, Pennsylvania Winters
by Herb Walden

For the past 40 years or so, I have made a rather intensive study of weather, climate, and the seasons.

Much of this study has been by book, and even more by observation. I even taught meteorology in high school for several years. I have finally reached a conclusion: Summer is much nicer than winter!

What astounds me is that upon looking through the photo albums, I see there was a time when I apparently enjoyed winter. That time began in the early 1940s in my old hometown of Waterford Pennsylvania.

These were the days before "wind-chill factors" and "lake effect snow." Oh, they existed, but not by those names. It wasn"t necessary. We knew that when the wind was blowing, you should probably bundle up a little more or stay inside. And snow --- well, this Waterford I'm talking about was squarely in the middle of the snow belt (another term we hadn't heard of then).

We Waterfordians know all about snow, and it doesn't much mater whether it's caused by the lake or a Canadian air mass or an angry snow god. Snow is snow, and we always got a lot of it!

All of us in the four-year-old range knew that snow was great stuff to play in, and the more the better! Of course, there were some drawbacks, and getting all bundled up was one of them.

Dual purpose

It seems I was usually wearing corduroys that time of year, and trying to stuff them into flannel-lined snow pants was a real hassle. The outer layer of snow pants was wool, not exactly fuzzy, but sort of hairy. It collected snow like no other substance known to man. I thing it actually attracted snow. At least it looks like it did in some of the old photos.

Boots were the over-the-shoe kind, and hats were thickly lined helmets that strapped under the chin. A heavy coat with big buttons, one or two pairs of woolen mittens, and a scarf completed the outfit.

Tied semi-tightly over mouth and nose, the scarf served a dual purpose: 1) nose/mouth/chin warmer; and 2) handkerchief.

Now I was ready for the great outdoors, the first hurdle being getting down the steps. Stuffed into all that clothing, walking was pretty much a rolling, side-to-side gait. The three steps down off the porch were tough to negotiate.

Once on the ground, everything was all right unless I encountered a snowdrift of a few inches or so. The danger here was that I might fall down and if I landed on my back, it was all over. It was much like being a turtle, except that a turtle has a lot more mobility.

Hot bumper!

Sooner or later --- usually sooner --- I'd be ready to go back inside because I had to --- well, you know what I had to do. Getting into the house could be a problem, too. For one thing, there were the steps again; and for another; I couldn't get my arms up high enough to reach the doorknob. So, I'd just stand there until someone came looking for me, hoping it wouldn't be too long.

It was always nice to get back inside the warm house after those 10-minute arctic adventures.

There were still many houses without furnaces in those days, and our house was one of them. We had big kerosene heaters in the kitchen and dining room --- "Sunray" and "Duotherm" respectively. These stoves were about two feet square and five feet high. In the coldest part of winter, I think Dad filled their fuel tanks once each day.

In the living room, we had a hard-coal heater. This was a huge, cast iron stove with lots of shiny nickel trim. It sat on a metal-covered asbestos stove board, and we had a sheet of asbestos on the wall behind it. (This was before asbestos was found to be dangerous.)

The stove had isinglass (mica) windows in the front, and on both sides so you could see the orange glow of the burning coal.

This particular heater was a "magazine" type, which meant you dumped the coal from the coal scuttle into the top of the stove instead of through the front doors.

No heating unit ever put out hotter heat than that old stove. What a great place to be on a cold winter night, and an even greater place on a cold winter morning. I used to grab my clothes and head for the living room to get dressed for school.

One morning I got careless and inadvertently stuck a bare toe on the nickel "bumper" around the mid-section of the stove. HOT! Hot enough to raise a blister and generate a few tears. I did, however, get to stay home from school that day, so it wasn't a total loss.

When I was in second grade, the winter that began in the tail-end of 1944 and spilled over into 1945 was a super-deluxe winter. I don't remember any specific snow amounts, but I do know we had all the snow anyone could ever want.

A new furnace

Schools were closed for awhile, and we were all "walkers." We had to go to class on a couple of Saturday mornings to make up some of the time missed.

Our neighbor's roof was so loaded with snow that she hired a man to shovel it off. It was nearly waist-deep, according to old pictures.

Snow removal on the municipal level back then was as good as or better than it is today. The streets were plowed with the one and only borough truck by the one and only borough employee. He used to plow all night to keep the streets open, and he did a great job.

The sidewalks were also kept clear. The borough had a horse that pulled a big, wooden, V-shaped plow. They did all the sidewalks in town, walking behind the horse and plow every time it snowed.

In 1949, my parents bought a house up on Cherry Street, and that house had a furnace! There was heat in every room! Imagine that!

The furnace burned soft coal and was fired by a stoker, "Iron Fireman" by name. The stoker was an automatic coal feeder controlled by the thermostat upstairs. When the thermostat called for heat, a shaft -- which looked like a huge screw -- began turning at the bottom of the stoker's hopper. It forced coal into the furnace along with an air supply for draft.

Hard like coral

My job was to keep the hopper full of coal. Two or three scuttles of coal were required each day, but sometimes I'd really load it up so that I could skip a day.

This furnace didn't produce ashes; it made rock like clinkers, sharp and hard like coral. Each night, the clinkers had to be dug out of the furnace with long clinker tongs and deposited in five-gallon metal buckets. Once a week or so, we'd haul the clinkers out of the basement and dump them in the driveway.

It also became my job to drive the car back and forth to mash down the clinkers. Not bad duty for a 12-ear-old. That driveway ended up with a better base than the highway.

Back outdoors, my neighbor Bud and I did a lot of sledding on a small hill behind our houses. I spent some time following animal trails in the little woods at the top of the hill. We built snowmen and made snow angels. I found that if you lie on your stomach when making a snow angel, it will not only have wings, it will have a face, too.

Sometimes I would content myself by snow-balling the garage. The idea was to spell a word or draw a face with the splattered snowballs. It was fun, and the garage couldn't throw back.

Once I went with Bud to check his trap line. It was snowing hard, those big snowflakes the size of silver dollars. There was no wind, and the snowflakes drifted down lazily, but thick enough so that we could see only a few yards ahead. It was the kind of snow everyone wants for Christmas Eve.

I had never been one to stray very far from home. So that, combined with the blinding snow meant that I was completely lost within 10 minutes of leaving the house.

It was great fun, and it seemed to me like we were in the northwest Territories, or maybe somewhere between Dawson and Selkirk. Twelve-year-old imaginations are great, aren't they! If Yukon King had been along, I'd have felt just like Sergeant Preston. And if you don't know to whom I'm referring, well, you're just way too young!

You know, all this reminiscing has made me think that maybe winter isn't so bad after all.

Maybe I should go outdoors and build a snowman or wade through a big drift or throw snowballs at something.

Of course it is awfully cold out there.

I might slip and fall or catch a cold or get the flu. It would probably take an hour to get all bundled up.

I don't think I even have a scarf. And my arthritis always acts up when it's cold.

No, I was right in the first place.

Summer is much nicer than winter!

Recipe

              Three Layer Raisin Pie
           Mrs. Ruby O. Catlin - 1942

INGREDIENTS

1 cup raisins
1 cup sour cream
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
1-3 ounce package cream cheese (soft)
1/2 cup sifted confectionary sugar
1 cup cool whip

INSTRUCTIONS

Chop raisins. Add sour cream, sugar, eggs, spices, and salt in a sauce pan. Cook on medium heat. Stir constantly until thick. Add butter. Cool completely. Blend cream cheese and confectionary sugar together. Add 1/2 cup of cool whip and blend into cheese mixture. Spread half of cheese mixture into a 9 inch baked pie shell. Add raisin mixture. Top with rest of cheese mixture and remaining cool whip

Serves: 6-8 people.

Humor

The following bit of humor was received from three different CANDOERs on the same day.

Education Humor

Some grade school teachers must agree with that, because they keep journals of amusing things their students have written in papers.

Here are a few examples:

- The future of "I give" is "I take."
- The parts of speech are lungs and air.
- The inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.
- A census taker is man who goes from house to house increasing the population. - Water is composed of two gins. Oxygin and hydrogin.> Oxygen is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water.
- (Define H2O and CO2.) H2O is hot water and CO2 is cold water.
- A virgin forest is a forest where the hand of man has never set foot.
- The general direction of the Alps is straight up.
- A city purifies its water supply by filtering the water then forcing it through an aviator.
- Most of the houses in France are made of plaster of Paris.
- The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 opossums.
- The spinal column is a long bunch of bones. The head sits on the top and you sit on the bottom.
- We do not raise silk worms in the United States, because we get our silk from rayon. He is a larger worm and gives more silk.
- One of the main causes of dust is janitors.
- A scout obeys all to whom obedience is due and respects all duly constipated authorities.
- To prevent head colds, use an agonizer to spray into the nose until it drips into the throat.
- The four seasons are salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.
- Oliver Cromwell had a large red nose, but under it were deeply religious feelings.
- The word trousers is an uncommon noun because it is singular at the top and plural at the bottom.
- Syntax is all the money collected at the church from sinners.
- The blood circulates through the body by flowing down one leg and up the other.
- In spring, the salmon swim upstream to spoon.
- Iron was discovered because someone smelt it.
- In the middle of the 18th century, all the morons moved to Utah.

ENJOY!

See you next month.

Issue Index   Issue 40