|Issue 50||February 2000||Volume 5 - Number 3|
Welcome to the CANDOER News. Suggestions as to what you would like to see in the CANDOER are welcome. Letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees, past or present, will be published, unedited. Material may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (disk will be returned) using WordPerfect Version 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics), on a plain sheet of paper (if it has no graphics) or via e-mail. The deadline for submitting material is no later than the 25th of each month. Material received after that date will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER, space allowing. Please, restrict articles/submissions to two single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.
The snail-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:
Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
Publisher/Editor CANDOER News
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
You will note that the January issue was only 14 pages, including two pages of e-mail addresses, and a page for the Treasury Report and Luncheon Information.
I need stories. If this Newsletter is to continue to be published, more readers must contribute. Please, take time out of your busy schedules and jot down some of your experiences. There are a million stories out there. I hear them being told at every social function I attend. Put them down on paper and send them to me.
Help me to keep this Newsletter alive.
It is with sadness and deep regret, I advise you of the death of Al Bradshaw's wife, Mi Young, on Christmas Eve, from complications resulting from surgery earlier in 1999.
Mi Young had been recovering very well over the months since her surgery but suddenly had a reversal, due to a toxic reaction to one of the medications being administered.
A sympathy card has been sent to Al in the name of CANDOERs.
The above information was received from Bill Harrison.
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death on June 16, 1999, at Courtland Terrace, Gastonia, of James Arley Chapman, Sr., 81, formerly of Rutherfordton.
A native of White County, GA., he was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1939-1959 and was aboard the USS Summer during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mr. Chapman was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and retired in 1977.
He is survived by his wife, Mable S. Chapman; four sons, James A. Chapman, Jr. of Gastonia, George Chapman of New Mexico, John L. Chapman of Charleston, West Virginia, and C. Steven Chapman of Wyoming; one daughter, Ariane Christopherson of Utah; a twin brother, Harley Chapman of Fair Oaks California; one sister, Marjorie Bunn of Burley, Idaho; ten grandchildren; two great grandchildren.
The above information was furnished by Paul Del Giudice.
It is with deep regret and sadness, I inform you of the death of Jim Wiley, a retired Foreign Service Communicator, on January 19, 2000, in Illinois.
Jim is survived by his wife, Beverly.
Thanks to Paul Bofinger, who passed this information to Paul Del Giudice, who passed it to me.
In an e-mail message, received on January 21, Jim Steeves wrote:
I would like to suggest to you a couple of ideas for getting people to write and submit stories. You might have a column or section dedicated to certain types of stories. Everyone must have dozens of really scary stories related to the highway - getting caught in snow; hit by drunk drivers; etc. Also, the various destruction equipments we used to have overseas - that ran from burning the classified at the beach to using thermite bombs in the office. Another subject might be their travel experiences, going from post-to-post, TDY, etc. I wonder if there might be any interest/mileage in writing stories about the places where so many of us have scattered in retirement; how we made the decisions; what lessons we learned, etc.
All the best,
EDITOR'S NOTE: At the present time, January 24, I only have enough stories to make six pages for the March issue. For the April issue, I have one story. If I don't start receiving stories from readers, I am going to have to cut back to a quarterly newsletter. Please contribute your experiences, either since retirement, during your career, during your college days, or even in growing up. Jim has suggested several subjects. There are a million other subjects you can write about, PLEASE, help me keep this Newsletter going. After all, it keeps me off the streets and out of Nancy's way --- grin.
The Brazzaville-Kinshasa ferry operates on the Congo river between the capitals of two countries. Controlled pandemonium would be the best way to describe it. The Marines, at the embassies there, sell t-shirts that show a picture of it with the words, "I survived the Brazzaville-Kinshasa ferry."
In my Foreign Service adventures, I never saw anything like it. It was like a scene out of a movie or perhaps like the U.S. evacuation of Saigon. All the people without visas trying to get on the ferry. The security types, with belts whipping away, were trying to keep them off the ferry. Panhandlers with goods of every imaginable type. People (with visas) carrying bags and roosters tucked under their arms. Incredible pushing and shoving and me with one embassy handler, my suitcases and eight diplomatic X-bags, in my safe care, trying to get on.
My experience was not as bad, I'm told, as one American secretary, new to the F.S., who landed in Kinshasa and had to take the ferry across the Congo River to Brazzaville. That morning, they happened to be escorting about 20 prisoners from Kinshasa to Brazzaville. While pushing through the crowd, which the new secretary was in, and trying to board them, one of the prisoners made a break for it. One guard caught up to him, put his rifle to his head and shot him. Brains and blood splattered 20 surrounding people. Meanwhile, some of the prisoners had gotten on board and one, having witnessed the scene, panicked and jumped from the ferry into the river. While he was trying to swim away, four guards riddled him with bullets. I heard of rough "welcomes to the Foreign Service" but I think this secretary should get the award.
With the close of this year's very exciting baseball season, it brought back fond memories of my youth.
As a teenager, my friends and I found ourselves ready to moved from stick ball and softball to the more challenging game of baseball. Never mind that we did not have any funds for equipment and did not have anything to equate with today's Little League. Our group formed a club, looked for a name and found it in the tales of Asia and the ferocious "Tartars," great warriors and horsemen.
Most of us were pretty poor and not able, on our own, to buy gloves, balls and bats. We decided, in our weekly meetings, to pay a dues of twenty-five cents, which by itself was going to take some doing. However, thanks to family and God Fathers and such, each week the dues were paid, put into a metal container, and securely kept at Frank's house. His family was in business and considered up to caring for our money, which started to grow, as described above. In the meantime, we borrowed equipment from older brothers and searched through trunks and assembled a fairly reasonable start for our practice sessions. Besides Frank, Ira, a new team member, had a father who was a dentist, so they had their own gloves, balls, and bats to loan to the team.
My brothers, Al and Nick, volunteered to coach us when they had the time and they were more than qualified. They were playing semi-pro ball for two years. The minor leagues we know of today were a far cry in those days and the semi-pros from local communities were of interest to the major leagues. Various business groups backed teams, provided uniforms and equipment and invested in some pretty big wagering each game. A local group, the Al Torre Association (a construction firm), paid my brothers a small salary per game. Our family came out in force each Sunday, when playing locally, to watch and cheer for Al and Nick.
Al was a catcher and Nick a pitcher. Nick had a good fast ball and a wicked curve. Al was very good defensively and a solid hitter. In fact, Al came to the interest of the St. Louis Cardinals. (Al at that time, in love, refused to consider leaving Brooklyn for the sticks ... not a very wise decision.)
Practice was held in a nearby sandlot and it offered a challenge, with its debris and lots of stones and rocks. With our youthful zeal, we went to work cleaning the area, used heavy cardboard for bases, and marked the foul lines with flour, from our mothers' kitchens.
The first few lessons from Al and Nick had to do with fielding grounders ... bend, stop, pickup, and throw, which was drummed into us time and time again. Fly ball catching seemed the easiest to learn, even having to run back. Next came hitting, standing in the box, bat up, arms close to your body, etc. Bunting and how to run the base, i.e., hit the inside of the base to shorten the run, and how to slide, which also was pretty easy, as we had the experience of softball and stick ball on that score.
They found that we had three stalwarts: Robert, who could hit, field, and run; Carmen, who could pitch and knew the strike zone; and Parky, the guttiest guy, who would catch without any gear, held on to the pitches, and could throw to the bases. The three of them were our main hitters, as well.
The rest of us picked our positions without too much trouble, and it worked out as a reasonable beginning. In our group of twelve, the reserves were content as backups, knowing pretty well that they would have a lot of game time anyway. In the meantime, they would watch and learn like the rest of us.
I found that playing first base was not an easy position and I originally cost the infielders errors not to their making because I would step in before the ball was thrown and couldn't move to the left or right. Al showed me how to straddle the bag and that helped. Too, scooping up low throws out of the dirt, gave me more than one bruise on my arms and shins, as the balls came bounding up very rapidly,. After a long time, I think I managed maybe 50 per cent and don't forget, the infielders were not yet experienced enough to watch their throws. My hitting was reasonable and my brother taught me "the swinging bunt" and with my speed it was at least one asset I had. The other hard part of learning was handling pop-ups...in front of me was easy enough, behind me sometimes found me circling about ten yards from where the ball was. Well, the fact was, that most of the team had the same problem, except for Bob, our sterling athlete.
The public parks had baseball diamonds but we were not ready for such a setting and hoped to sign up a year later. Instead, our games were played against neighboring youngsters and various sandlots were used. Usually cleaning was necessary before the start of the game. Games were played for wagers of at most two dollars, when we could scape up that much. A new baseball had to be provided by each team, the winner got to keep the balls, provided neither was lost.
Umpiring was done by an onlooker, who volunteered. They stood in back of the pitcher to call the pitches. Needless to say, we didn't always agree with the ump, but you couldn't be too vocal, lest he walk off the field.
We devised signals to be used by whomever was coaching at first and third. It often became a comedy, as the players forgot the signals and/or weren't paying enough attention to the coaches. So most games turned out to be part of a comedy but it never dampened our fun and enthusiasm, not one wee bit. It was great and each game greater than the last.
Our first game will always be in my memory, as though it was yesterday, and perhaps somewhat embellished ... who knows. We won 11 to 6. Carmen had a lot of strikeouts and Robert provided the heavy hitting and great fielding. There were a few errors, one of which was most embarrassing to me, as I dropped a throw just as my father walked up to watch. But all in all, I did catch a couple of pop-ups (in front of me) and stole a couple of bases, with wonderful pants dirtening efforts.
The following year, we were ready to go to DAVEGAS, the local sports store. The team was measured and we were allowed to pick our colors ... dark green socks, gray uniforms with green strips, and caps with green peaks. TARTARS blazed across our chests, a most handsome assembly. We were so proud we often strutted around the neighborhood for effect. My sisters made sure my uniform was always washed after a game and hung on the back of my bedroom door (shared with my brother Art) so that it was in constant view to me.
That year we managed to get on the public diamonds, with real bases and official umpires behind the catcher. Most importantly, the foul lines were properly laid out and white washed.
After the games, we always headed to the local store for large bottles of pop, which cost a nickel. We shared at least two bottles with each other ... champagne couldn't taste any better. It was a marvelous ceremony.
After several years, I had to drop off the team, since I had a part-time job, attended art school on Saturdays, and sang in the school glee club. Giving my uniform to a new team members was somewhat retching, but I was outgrowing it anyway.
To date, like most of us, the excitement of youth and those days has never left me. In fact, as I watch my grandson playing and I warm him up on the sidelines, I have the urge to play...in all honesty, I couldn't run the bases, no matter how hard I tried ... how about you?
The following people were in attendance at the January 11, CANDOER Luncheon: Cal Calisto, Lou Correri, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Pete Gregario, Charlie Hoffman, Ken Loff, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Hank Reavy, Val Taylor, and Tom Warren.
A big CANDOER Welcome to first time attendees: Paul Bofinger, Jean Reavey, Ray Russell, and Bob White. May you all find time out of your busy schedules to attend many. many more luncheons.
On December 26, Betty and Sam Carden notified me that they have a new e-mail address. Their new e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site.
On December 27, Mike McCaffrey furnished an e-mail and snail-mail address for a new member, Faith Lee. I sent Faith my normal canned infogram.
On December 28, Bryon Hallman furnished an e-mail address. Bryon, welcome to the world of on-line CANDOERs. Bryon's e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section, on the last page of this and future issues, and on the Web site.
On December 29, Ray Russell furnished his winter e-mail address. It may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web page.
On December 30, Steve Lowe, who recently retired, furnished his new snail-mail and e-mail addresses. This information may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site.
On December 30, Joe Chaddic, who is assigned to the fourth floor at main State, joined the CANDOERs. Joe's snail-mail and e-mail addresses may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site.
On December 30, I had the honor of attending a retirement celebration for Bob White in the Treaty Room at the Department of State. Bob's retirement date was January 3, 2000. I will not try to list all of the people there, because I know out of the 25-30 retirees and 70-75 other people there, I will undoubtedly forget a name or two, so will only say, it was like old home week. Lots of food, and pleasant conversation. Congratulation, Bob.
On January 3, 2000, Jim Steeves forwarded an e-mail message to me from Bruce and Denise Hoof. They were asking for information about the CANDOERs. I sent them my normal canned e-mail message.
On January 6, in an e-mailed CANDOER Application form from Bruce Hoof. Bruce's bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site. His e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site.
On January 9, in an e-mail message from George Loines, expressing interest in the CANDOERs. George's e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site.
On January 15, the CANDOERs became one member stronger, when Faith Lee joined our ranks. Faith's bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site. Her e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site.
On January 15, the snail-mail brought a check and an application for membership from Ed and Judy Fitzgerald. Their bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site. Their e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site.
On January 15, in an e-mail from Rob Robinson, he informed me that he had a visit from Hal Gerwig, who is now living in Georgia, that he was interested in information about the CANDOERs. I sent Hal my normal canned infogram.
On January 15, the Jomeruck's informed me that they had a new e-mail addresses. Their new e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site.
On January 16, Brad Rosendahl, in an e-mail message, informed me I had an incorrect house number listed in his address. A correction has been made to the Directory of Members and the Web Site. The correct house number may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On January 17, in an e-mail message, Leroy Farris informed me that he is now a member of our on-line community of CANDOERs. You may find Leroy's e-mail address in the Pen and Ink section, on the last page of this and future issues, and on the WEB site.
On January 17, in an e-mail message, Joe Chaddic furnished his assignments and telephone number. This information may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site.
On January 23, in an e-mail message from Ron Johnston informing me he has a new e-mail address. His new e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site.
On January 24, in an e-mail message from Michael Lamberg indicating a wish to join the CANDOERs. I furnished the information he requested. You will find Michael's e-mail address on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web page.
Since the Wall
In the fall of 1989 the Wall came down. The German government, in its euphoria, expressed the intention of reuniting Germany, cleaning up the polluted east, restoring Berlin to it's status as the nations' capitol and bla bla bla. At some point I presume bean counters explained to political leaders some facts of life that must have been shocking. However, having made public their boasts of restoring Germany and its former capitol to first-class status in the world, the course was set and damned the torpedoes and the cost. Surely the leaders still didn't yet appreciate the scope of the task but a few years later they got the picture loud and clear. Now the billions that have been spent and which are yet to be spent are mind-boggling. The Bonn City government appealed to the Federal government not to transfer all the ministries to Berlin and thereby impoverish this area. Much more than thousands of civil servants were involved. Their families, teachers of their children, the press, and all their families would go. Local business owners, apartment buildings, etc. would be affected. The government IS Bonn. Unlike London or Paris, Bonn is a small city.
The Feds understood the problem and thus embarked on another expensive program to alleviate the economic stress which Bonn would have felt. It was decided that only half the ministries would be moved to Berlin. The rest, such as the Ministry of Defense, would remain here. Many federal offices, scattered around the country, some from Berlin (!) and others from Frankfurt would be moved to Bonn. I would guess that another generation would pass before all the government that will eventually be in Berlin is actually located there. Additionally, some United Nations offices were transferred from Geneva and Rome; others are in the process of being considered. Nobody outside the Government knows what incentives the F.R.G. gave and will continue to give to UN offices to make their move to Bonn worthwhile.
Massive efforts to construct new government buildings in Berlin and to restore a business environment through the east have now been underway for several years. Visitors' describe Berlin as "a forest of cranes". To date, few government employees have actually transferred to Berlin but it is expected that the current gradual swap of feds will become a flood by mid-1999.
Many embassies will move. Most of them already are represented in Berlin. Since September 1998 U.S. representation in Berlin is no longer as a constituent post. We are now, until the transfer is completed, Embassy Bonn/Berlin. One "mission" under one ambassador, DCM, Economic Chief, Administrative Chief, etc. regardless in which of the two cities the particular section boss may sit. Our Embassy has over 250 people now in four office locations in Berlin. A great many offices in the Embassy in Bonn are vacant. Many regional people have also been transferred from Bonn to Frankfurt. Indeed, I suspect that Frankfurt may already be the largest "diplomatic" entity in Germany and will remain so even when the entire embassy is in Berlin. Regional support activities are in Frankfurt because Frankfurt airport is one of the largest in Europe, affording air transportation access to the world which regional personnel require. One wonders why they were ever placed in Bonn. (Actually, in some cases I know the reason: empire building by certain section chiefs.)
As Embassy Bonn personnel transfer to Frankfurt, Berlin or elsewhere, U.S. Government owned apartments in Plittersdorf are either swapped for German Government owned property in Berlin or sold to a private company here. Approximately 20 buildings are in the latter category. Some of these properties have been renovated, entailing the replacement of lead water pipes and modernizing kitchens, bathrooms, etc. and some number of others will be. Rental prices, when they become available on the local economy, will be high, not just because the apartments are large but also because they are adjacent to the Rhine River and the huge Rheinaue park. The apartment complex actually is a park-like area. In most urban areas throughout Europe, it is nearly impossible to find parking space. Here there is more space than anyone could want, plus large grassy areas right in the apartment complex.
Apartments are being transferred as they become vacant, meaning, in some cases, when an entire apartment building becomes vacant but in some cases where all the apartments off one stairwell becomes vacant.
A diplomatic population will continue to live in Bonn because many countries cannot afford to move their embassy to Berlin. In particular two fine looking buildings one being the Embassy of South Africa and the other the Embassy of Hungary are located near our apartment complex. Neither of those countries can afford to build a new embassy and there is no great demand here for office buildings. Actually, in the case of many countries, access to senior German government officials is infrequent and thus it probably wouldn't matter a lot where their Embassy was physically located. If the Chancellor wanted to address all ambassadors, they would all fly to Berlin for a few days and then their relatively obscure status in the suburbs of Bonn. Entertainment among them would carry on here as always though the big players would be in Berlin. Such an arrangement would hardly suit a large foreign country because access to senior government officials is a routine process. Our ambassador may see the Chancellor several times a week or a day, depending on current events.
Business in our little shopping center has become a trickle, even though all NATO military personnel except German are entitled to shop here. Our so-called "American Market" or commissary, will scale down physically in December of 1998 and the "Sales Store" will close doors at the end of 1998. The small APO still opens on Thursdays but I expect it too will close and force the remaining customers to go to the chancery to access U.S. postal facilities.
The service station closed at the end of September 1998. The service station was a great convenience particularly for those who speak little or no German. That facility is being turned over to the German government as it is part of the swap for Berlin properties. The rest of the community, all the shops, school buildings, and the club will be sold to commercial companies.
In the summer of '98 the Health Unit in the Embassy still had two doctors, two nurses and one or two office assistants. Now, in November, the RMO has gone to Frankfurt and our remaining doctor plans to Dallas in a month or two.
Around the middle of 1999 very few Americans will remain in Bonn. German military headquarters will remain in this area for years to come. Accordingly, the military attache' office will retain offices in our chancery as will many other military offices which are not traditional members of the "country team". There are a mess of these military offices - USAREUR Liaison office; U.S. Army Research & Development Agency; TRADOC, EUCOM LNO, DIA's DL-4; the military personnel exchange program; and others. I believe each military office is headed by a colonel so "colonel" has become the most common military rank here. I would guess there to be from 8 to 10 colonels! Did someone once say that the military takes care of it's own? Can anyone tell me why a four man office needs a chief at the O-6 level? "Well yes," I'm told. "The Germans they deal with are at the equivalent of O-6 grade."
Thank goodness, I'm thinking, they don't deal with four star generals!
Recently a member of congress visited Berlin and noted that the architectural design for the new embassy, to be built near the Brandenburg Gate, was in discord with physical security requirements of any new diplomatic establishment. The Ambassador and others went to great lengths to emphasize the considerations the Berlin authorities were committed to make to augment what little security was inherent in the design. Yet, considering that the outside wall (on two sides) of our embassy will also be the outside wall of an adjacent building, an area over which we will have no physical control, how can the clowns in State Department security seriously claim to have taken security into account? I fear this emperor has no clothes either. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Congressman Rogers brought up the subject of security because two of our embassies in east Africa had just been blown up. I don't think the Ambassador plans to be around if and when a bomb destroys the Embassy in Berlin. Assuming it ever gets built.
In the meantime, embassy offices in Berlin will be scattered around the city, as will housing. Certainly living and working in Berlin will be much the same as it is in most other capitols around the world where no such thing as a housing complex exists, as has been the case in Bonn for over half a century. In this context I note a comment written back in 1950 (in the HiCOG report), which was a strong argument in favor of building a housing area in Bonn (and Frankfurt and Berlin). The writer compared the difficulty that a newly arrived American would experience getting settled in Paris on the one hand, to the ease that would be experienced in a housing area in Bonn. In Paris, it could be weeks at least before the officer would be fully functional because of the need to locate housing and work out details. In Bonn, the officer could quite possibly go from the airport to his apartment and start work the next day. Maintenance of the housing area, overall, was considered to be far less costly than paying a person in Paris for weeks of temporary housing for himself and his family in a hotel while trying to obtain and move into his permanent residence.
Military officers plan to continue operating out of the current Embassy building for as long as they can. The agreement with the German government for control and turnover of that structure allows the USG to continue using one third of the building five years beyond the date on which the new embassy is built in Berlin. Between now and the summer of 1999, the percentage of military personnel will steadily increase. Then perhaps a few State Department people will remain but it will be essentially a military operation. The building in which our military plans to remain may continue to be managed by Embassy Berlin but that remains to be seen. I wonder if they'll rename it "Camp Swampy".
Each month now, two or three more families move to Berlin. Almost all those scheduled to go to Frankfurt have completed their move. Some people in Frankfurt occupy old buildings which have not been renovated. They run the water for a while until the rust clears. Almost all, in both cities, miss the nice open housing and parks of Bonn though those in Frankfurt like being closer to bx and commissary facilities.
We thoroughly enjoyed the recent articles on Bonn history from Bill Ford, Jim Steeves and Mike McCaffery. Their reminiscences, similar to ours, cover a period when the BAX was in operation, its eventual demise, and final dispersal of personnel. Let us assure readers, there were a large number of similarly dedicated, party-lovin' folks who passed through Bonn in "the earlier days" of HICOG, and subsequent establishment of the embassy. A number of us first met our spouses there, the writers included. (Thanks to Elsie Crim.)
So, at breakfast this morning, we played a game and started naming names of communicators and technicians who passed through Bonn in the mid-1950s and shortly thereafter. This brought out a lot of "remember when" stories. Here are just of few of the names we recalled, but there certainly were many more whom we cannot recall, for our memory cells seem to fail us more frequently these days after the passage of more than 40 years.
Some of these may have been posted in Bonn more than once. Paul Terry, Lillian Bannick, Ed Peters, Rita Zukauskis, Ginny Caffola, Lou Tornavacca, Gerry (McGowan) Manning, John Flynn, Liz Savage, Victor Wolf, Marian Hager, Moffit Smith, Libby Waldmann, Paul Bigelow, Metro Salsavage, Mildred Krause, Lou Giamporcaro, Betty Jean Pagter, Len Buflo, Paige Holscher, Eric Baxter, Frank Speers, Fred Shalalla, John Fuerlinger, Bob Hooper, Paul "Pete" Pfeiffer, Janice Flynn, "uncle" Bob Williams, Mary Lou "blue dress" Bauer (a.k.a. Gertie Flagenheimer)**, Ed Sarran, Jeanne Clemson, Marilyn Wilson, Viola Dominicki, Elaine Greene, Jackie Galey, Evelyn Dyer, Evelyn Sussenbach, Laurel Grandstaff, Walt Swierczek, Don Woellert, Rosemary Wangler, Betty Hart, Kay Novak, Carmen Molina, Gordon Brugel, Gloria Denham, Bob Parrish and Grant Shaw to name a few.
** Mary Lou is worthy of specific mention. She had an effervescent personality, was a delight to work with, and the life of any social occasion. She was transferred from Asuncion to Bonn via a TDY in Reykjavik. Somewhere along the way, her luggage went astray. Coming from a very hot climate to Reykjavik, she had to purchase from her meager FS-13 salary some clothing to tide her over until, hopefully, her luggage was found. It never was. She bought a heavy blue-knit dress which, with frequent cleaning, served the purpose. She perpetually wore her blue-knit dress to work and social functions where it became the subject of a lot of good-natured humor. When Mary and I married in Munich several years later, she came to the wedding wearing the same blue-knit dress, saying "You wouldn't have recognized me if I wasn't wearing it!" In her retirement whenever she drove past the State Department, she honked, waved, and hollered, "Keep those checks coming!" Regrettably, she passed away in 1994, much before her time.
Yes, Bonn was a special place which gave us all a lot of wonderful memories to carry on in our careers and retirement.
I arrived in Bonn, my first post, in January 1956. For the entire two and one-half years of my tour the code room, working 24-hours daily in three shifts, was woefully undermanned. In many respects, it was a sweat shop. We had 13 code clerks (subsequently known as communicators and now as information specialists) in which the normal complement was supposed to be about 20.
When the Hungarian crisis broke out in October 1956 with Russian tanks rolling through the country, it really caught us by surprise. Consequently we simply could not cope with all the voluminous coded telegraphic traffic.
Embassy officers would complain because their home offices in Washington in turn complained they had sent immediate (or NIACT) precedence telegrams which had not been answered. Of course, we would find that their messages would be in the piles of tapes laying on the floor which we had not yet decoded!
Everyone in the code room was working hours of overtime every day, seven days a week. Everyone, that is, except one clerk (who shall remain nameless) who refused to work one second of overtime. If I, as assistant shift supervisor, asked him to take over a task a few minutes before the end of the shift, he absolutely refused to start it because it might take him into overtime. Needless to say, Bonn was his first and (thankfully for the Foreign Service) last post.
While the code room was still reeling from the Hungarian crisis, the Suez crisis struck with Israel occupying the Sinai Peninsula, France and England the Suez Canal, all at war with Egypt. Naturally we were all spread very thin, all three shifts having to be covered by our small staff.
There was no time off for weeks on end.
One night, in the middle of all this, with all bodies needed in the code room, I finished the midnight shift and sat down in the break room before going home. When trying to get up to leave, I was so exhausted that it was physically impossible to get up from the couch. I had to be helped home and a doctor was called. He gave me shots for a week to build me up from the complete exhaustion I was suffering. I was able to work in a week. This made things even worse for those remaining.
For those who worked through it all, it was a memorable experience no one would ever wish to repeat.
In an attempt to find a suitable location for a large radio teletype station in Africa, the late Bob Lochmiller, the Africa Operations Officer, and I made a survey trip to West Africa. We met Harry Kaklikian, the RCO from Accra, Ghana, in Dakar, Senegal. After a rest at the Embassy in Dakar, we went via a two-car convey to Nouakchott, Mauritania. En route, we crossed the Senegal River on a ferry, which accommodated a truck and two other vehicles. The passengers stood on a runway, along side the vehicles. The ferry left the Senegal side only after another ferry departed from the Mauritania side. There was not enough room for two ferries. To board the ferry it was necessary to go down a steep ramp. As the cars boarded, the license plates frequently scrapped the bottom of the ramp and folded in half.
On our way across the river the ferry had a large heavy truck on board. The freeboard was very low and as we proceeded we took on water over the prow, making it necessary for us to sit on the hood of the cars, to keep our feet dry. When we reached the other side, we proceeded up the highway, which appeared to be in very good condition. However, the Sahel of Africa had been suffering a severe drought. Water was rationed everywhere. The Bedouin and other Nomadic tribes were encamped along the highway, where they received water periodically from tanker trucks.
The Nomads were in bad shape. Even some of their camels had died from lack of water. Along the side of the highway we saw many carcasses of sheep, goats and other animals that had succumbed.
After several hours of driving, we reached Nouakchott and checked into a hotel. We found that the water had been turned on for only a few hours each day and had been turned off, just before we arrived. Fortunately, several pails of water had been placed in each room to flush toilets and bathe. The water was not potable.
Many Nomads came to the city from the desert and the population quadrupled. Tents were everywhere. The situation was rather dismal. Dick Murphy was the Ambassador. He was a very nice guy and invited us to his house for cocktails and dinner. Unfortunately, his wife was not on station to supervise the kitchen help, who normally saw no reason for all the washing and scrubbing. As a result, we all got AMontezuma's Revenge,@ which lasted during part of our trip. After a few days, we departed for Monrovia, Liberia and Accra, Ghana. From Accra, we went to Bujumbura, Burundi and then to N'Djamena, Chad. En route, we stopped for a several hour stop at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. While waiting at the airport, we observed several German C-28 cargo aircraft being loaded with supplies ready to depart for the desert to assist the native tribes. These aircraft had two booms with a cargo fuselage in between. They were very appropriate for the job, since they flew very slowly and with the fuselage door open, when they approached the drop zone, they could push the pallets of grain and rice and other edibles out the back door. Apparently nearly 80% of the load survived. I also learned that in spite of the problems, the tribes recognized each others boundaries and would not encroach, even to reach the food, which they sorely needed. Therefore, it was necessary to make two drops, one for each tribe, even though they were in sight of each other. This was also the case at wells or oasis.
The communicator at N'Djamena was Joe Acquavella, who arranged for meeting with local communications officials, to assist us in finding real estate for a possible radio station. The Deputy Chief of Mission was Leonardo Naeher (later it turned out to be a cousin of the Naeher's). Leonardo later became an Ambassador to several African posts.
From N'Djamena, we returned to Accra and drove to examine several possible sites. We visited a Peace Corps post out in the boondocks of Ghana. I certainly admired the enthusiasm and morale of the Peace Corps volunteers, who were teaching school in a village.
From Accra we went to Libreville, Gabon and Benin and then to Kinshasa, Cotonou, Lome, Banjul, and Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. Abidjan is a very beautiful, modern city. It was formerly a French colony. The French took a different approach to freeing their colonies. They set up a democratic government, with an Ivoirian at the head of each Department and the Deputy Chief a Frenchman. They sent promising students to Paris, with a commitment that they would d'Ivoire and serve in the Government or some other occupation, i.e., Lawyer, Doctor, etc. When I arrived, I met with these officials. Their deportment and knowledge was obvious.
After a month, I returned home. We had not been successful in finding suitable real estate for a large relay station, but we did confirm our selections for several Nodal stations to establish a network.
1. Any job that looks like it will take an hour will usually last all day.
2. If you buy a special tool, (like a basin wrench or a ring compressor), because you think that someday you'll need it, you never will.
3. Never start any job on a Sunday or a holiday or an evening when the hardware stores are closed.
4. 2-by-4's aren't.
5. Power tools should not be sold to just anyone because they tend to make one think they are a carpenter.
6. The simplest jobs are always the most complicated, and the complicated ones are even more complicated.
7. The Nobel Peace Price should go to the guy who invented pop rivets.
8. If you think you can cut a board square without a guide line, you're wrong.
9. When you are about to open or close the jaws of an adjustable wrench, turn the adjuster opposite from the way you think it should go.
10. 9/16" is bigger than 2".
11. Hammers do not hit nails as squarely as they used to.
12. Do not attempt any remodeling unless you own a hardware store.
13. Contrary to popular belief, screws can be driven with a hammer.
14. Miter boxes are right no matter what you think.
15. Almost any tool can be used for a hammer.