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Monday, April 13, 2015

Some explinations if you have been following.

My grandparents maintained a bank account Dad used back in Independence.  I suspect it was the Standard State Bank in Fairmount.  That is where he sent his money and had them draw from now and then to send him money orders.

The Martin he refers to several times seems to be his closest friend and it will be interesting to read if he keeps in contact with him after basic.  My own experience was that you made very close friends in basic but when the basic training was done you never saw or heard from them again.  Years pass and you don’t even remember their names.  I never heard Dad mention anyone by the name of Martin.  We shall see.

I was stunned to read that he and Martin got a hotel room for $3 in LA.  I was not surprised that he did not think much of LA but found Hollywood enjoyable.  I felt the same way when I visited there years later and wonder now what sites he and I both saw but never talked about.

The Playmore was a large entertainment center in Kansas City where they had dances and had several bowling alleys.  It was a big deal in the 40’s and 50’s. 

He must have been on a roller coaster about his orders.  First he is going to be sent to New Jersey and assigned to the Signal Corps and was planning his 24 day leave at home only to find out moments before he was to leave that his orders had been changed to go to that “special school” and only get a 14 day pass with out the benefit of getting what amounted to a paid trip home due to the travel money he would have received to go to New Jersey. 

I have no idea where Camp Stoneman is and not sure I deciphered it correctly.  Perhaps that will be made clear later.

He seemed proud to be picked as one of the outstanding soldiers of his cycle and didn’t seem to think it ironic that after he received the commendation he was put on guard duty the next day.  I cannot believe that FTA didn’t run through his mine.

Friday, April 10, 2015

June 20, 1953

June 20, Saturday
Dear Mom and Dad
I thought I would drop you a line and let you know what happened.  About 20 of us got Signal Crops at Ft Mammoth, New Jersey.  I didn’t have to be there until July 14 and we were going to leave here today.  The other boys left on the charted plane a little before noon.  It would have given me 24 days at home and I would be in the states for 16 or more weeks.  I got $203.04 for travel pay.  
When we went to pick up our orders they didn’t have any for us.  Nine of us altogether.  We all knew what had happened then.  The deal on the special school came through.  They said it would be 3 or 4 days before our orders came through.  I was sure sick.  I had wanted the other so bad.  
About 20 guys got orders for Korea, 20 for Alaska, 10 for Austin, some sort of medical corps and the rest for Europe and Leadership school.. I would have been home tonight sometime.  
After everyone left our company commander told us that our orders were for Alameda, California naval station and we were cleared for secret work.  We will be in Alameda for 3 weeks and then we go to Camp Stoneman, California to go to Korea.  I don’t know what the school is or anything.  I get my orders starting Tues 23 June to the 7th of July.  I will have 14 days.  So I should be home Tues sometime.  
I don’t feel as bad now as I did for awhile.  I was counting on being home Father’s Day.
We finished up Thur and was graduated Thur evening.  I was one of the outstanding soldiers of the cycle.  All the squad leaders got to go up before LTC Pruitt and shake his hand and salute and get their diploma from here.  I was the only one that was not a squad leader to go up.  I was the third one to go up.  I was sure surprised.
I had guard duty Wed night.  I didn’t write because I thought I would be home by now.  Well not much more to say.  I’ll be home soon and will sure be glad.  
All my love, Ted

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

July 14, 1953

Tues July 14, 1953

Dear Mom and Dad

How are you.  I got your letter tonight with the money.  I was sure glad to get it.  Thanks a lot.  Not much new here.  I saw Thunder Bay last night.  You would like the picture.  I guess I  will go tonight and see Hangman's Knot with Randolf Scott.  That is really all there is to do.

Margie called tonight and said she might be out this weekend.  I hope she can.  The weekends get lonesome.

I don't know to much about the school and what I do know I am not supposed to talk about let alone write about.  It is something that would really surprise people and it would be a great use to certain people.  It would be best not to say anything about it in your letters.  I can't say much more.  It is sort of a new thing anyway.

I guess when I leave here I will just have four days and I might have to go to Stenman first.  I am not sure yet.

Well not much more to say, I will write you later.

(not signed)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

July 13, 1953

July 13, 1953

Dear Mom and Dad

I got your letters today.  I got 3 at noon and one tonight.  We get our mail twice a day.  I guess I will write Martin a line tonight.  How soon do you get my mail?  I seem to get yours fast.

Do you remember that Sergeant Sipes that was an ROTC instructor at Northeast.  His nephew his here with me.  I was talking about ROTC and he said his uncle us to be an instructor there.  That is how I found out.  I remembered him, he was a Regular Army man.

My work here is real interesting, I enjoy it but would just as soon be learning something else more practical and perhaps useful for when I get out.

So you have not had any luck selling my car.  Hope you don't have to much trouble.

I went to the show last night and saw Raiders of the 7 Seas.  It was just a so so picture. I have seen better.

The weather here is about the same.  Sometimes it is foggy in the morning but it doesn't last long.

I think I will go to the show tonight.  They have Thunder Bay at 8 pm with James Stewart.  It should be good.

I sure see a lot of jets here.  The Navy Banshes is one.  They use to use the J34 engine in it like we made at work.  I think they still do.  I watched some take off the other day.  They sure travel.

Well can't think of much to write about.  I will write again tomorrow,  Keep your letters coming.
Love, Ted

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

July 12. 1953

Sunday July 12, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

How is everything at home?  Haven't heard anything from you yet.  I got a letter from Margie Friday night.  Probably hear from you Monday.  Thurs night I went to the show here and saw The City is Dark and Hiawatha.  They were good shows.

Fri night Theirderman and I went to Frisco and stayed over there. Went down town and fooled around.

Arlene told me that Kenny Kerkham was working out here in Frisco with his sister.  That is Arlene's dad's brother and sister.  They told me she owned the Rainbow Restaurant.  I had forgotten all about it at the time and we were sitting in a place drinking a beer Friday night and I saw Kenny in there.  I was sure surprised.  I have known him for a long time.

Sat we went to the Rainbow and saw Gladys his sister.  They really have a swanky place.  Dinning room and bar.  She told us to come back later but we didn't.  I might go there again before I leave.  You might tell Arlene.

Saturday we rode on a cable car and went to China Town.  Looks about the same.  We must have driven out of our way a lot when we all went there because it is right down town almost.

I kind of got a thrill riding the cable car.  You should have rode on it when you were here.

We then came on back to town to a 3D movie.  The Maze.  It was a pretty good picture.

You said something about Clift House once.  That is a modern restaurant now over looking the Seal Rocks on the the Pacific.  It use to be a resort in the 1890's.  I didn't see it but read about it in a pocket guide.  It must be a nice place.

We came on back to Alameda last night.  Here they serve breakfast from 7:30 to 10:30.

I bowled a line this afternoon with the boys and that's about all.  I might take in an early show tonight and go to bed.

The weather is sure nice here.  Gets cold at night and about 80 in the day.  What's it like back home?  I like here OK compared to Roberts.  We go to class at 8:30 till 4 pm and get 1 1/2 hour for lunch.

I think next weekend if I go to town I will wait till Sat night.  I spent about 20 dollars this week.  I will have to take it easy.  I am not sure what I will do the week after this coming weekend.  I may go to Steneman. I will let you know.  Some guys stay there a week and some for a month before their orders come through.  Some of the guys are being sent to Okinawa.  Hope I can get some place like that other than Korea.  It would not be bad to stay in Japan.  I wouldn't mind getting my orders changed to some place else too.  They do that once in awhile.

Well not much more to say.  Hope to hear from you real soon.  I will write you more tomorrow.
Love, Ted

PS The picture I took of myself is in Fresno.

Monday, February 23, 2015

July 9, 1953

Thurs night

Dear Mom and Dad

Haven't heard from you yet.  Guess I will get a letter about Mon or Sat, not much new here.  Don't know what I'll do this weekend yet.  I might go to Fresno or Oakland.

I went to the White Hat Club last night.  That's a club where the Sailors and Waves go here at the base.  It's real nice and they have a band here about 3 nights a week.  I went with the guy I traded blankets with.

From what I have seen of the Navy I wouldn't mind being in the Navy.  It's for four years though.

I haven't gotten any post cards yet.  If I find some I'll send them to you.

We had strawberry shortcake for dinner.  It's pretty good.

What's new around home.  Have you tried anything with the car yet?  Well not to much or to say.  I haven't done much of anything to tell about.  I'll drop you a line later and write me as soon as you can.
Love, Ted

Friday, February 20, 2015

July 7, 1953

July 7, 53  Tues eve 530

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Well I got to Fresno about 8 am.  We stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico to refuel.  I got a bus to Alameda and reported in.  I was about the 3rd out of the nine to get here.  There are six of us here now.  I don't know much except that we will have classes from 8 to 4 and our nights and weekends will be free.  There will just be the nine of us to go through the school.  This is a nice place here.  A lot different from an army camp.  We stay in a nice building and eat all we want.  I haven't done anything all day.  I took a nap this afternoon.

I sure did enjoy myself while I was home.  I sure felt bad after I left last night.  But I feel better today.

One of the boys from Chicago said his plane stopped in KC and he drank coffee there.  It is funny we missed him.

About all there is here are sailors.  We eat with them and sleep in the same building with them.  I haven't seen any other soldiers around here.  It is right on the bay and water is almost all around us.  A lot of planes fly off from here.  I came over the bay bridge again.  It sure brought back memories.  It looks about the same.

It was cloudy here  this morning and kind of cold.  I will try and find some picture postcards of this place and send you.

I don't know if I will be able to come home or not when I finish here.  I would like to but I will have to get a hop in order to get home.   I will probably have 6 or 7 days when I leave here.

Well don't know much more to say.  I will write you again tomorrow.  I haven't got my address yet but you can write me at this address for awhile.  I'll let you know my new one as soon as I can.

Love, Ted
(note to blog reader:  This letter was sent from WP Naval Air Base, Alameda, California.)

Friday, February 13, 2015

June 20, 1953

June 20, Saturday
Dear Mom and Dad
I thought I would drop you a line and let you know what happened.  About 20 of us got Signal Crops at Ft Mammoth, New Jersey.  I didn’t have to be there until July 14 and we were going to leave here today.  The other boys left on the charted plane a little before noon.  It would have given me 24 days at home and I would be in the states for 16 or more weeks.  I got $203.04 for travel pay.  
When we went to pick up our orders they didn’t have any for us.  Nine of us altogether.  We all knew what had happened then.  The deal on the special school came through.  They said it would be 3 or 4 days before our orders came through.  I was sure sick.  I had wanted the other so bad.  
About 20 guys got orders for Korea, 20 for Alaska, 10 for Austin, some sort of medical corps and the rest for Europe and Leadership school.. I would have been home tonight sometime.  
After everyone left our company commander told us that our orders were for Alameda, California naval station and we were cleared for secret work.  We will be in Alameda for 3 weeks and then we go to Camp Stoneman, California to go to Korea.  I don’t know what the school is or anything.  I get my orders starting Tues 23 June to the 7th of July.  I will have 14 days.  So I should be home Tues sometime.  
I don’t feel as bad now as I did for awhile.  I was counting on being home Father’s Day.
We finished up Thur and was graduated Thur evening.  I was one of the outstanding soldiers of the cycle.  All the squad leaders got to go up before LTC Pruitt and shake his hand and salute and get their diploma from here.  I was the only one that was not a squad leader to go up.  I was the third one to go up.  I was sure surprised.
I had guard duty Wed night.  I didn’t write because I thought I would be home by now.  Well not much more to say.  I’ll be home soon and will sure be glad.  
All my love, Ted
PS  I got a pass today at noon till tomorrow.  I might be able to get away mon night I hope.  Everything ok at this end.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

June 14, 1953

Sunday June 14, 1953

Dear Folks

How is everything at home?  Everything is fine here.  I got the two money orders you sent.  I think that should be enough.

We got a pass Sat evening.  Martin and I went to Paso Robles hitching hiking and decided to keep going south to some other towns just to see what they were like.  The MPs picked us up and gave us a lift to where ever we wanted to go.  They said they were going to Santa Barbara so we just went with them.  We got there about .  It is a pretty nice town.  It is right on the coast.  When we decided to return to camp we got a ride with a Marine officer as far as Paso Robles.

Well I just have four more days of training.  I sure will be glad to get home.  I don’t guess you will be getting many more letters from me here.  I will be home almost before they get there.  I guess you wont send to many more letters either.  I might not get them.

I hope I get my orders this next Thur or the weekend.  If I don’t I may have to stay here at Roberts for a few weeks or till they come.  I haven’t heard anything about that school yet.  It may hold me up or something.

Did I tell you they are going to close Camp Roberts?  They are going to completely close it down by the first of the year.  It will take them 6 months to close it.  I can’t see why they are.

I got a high rating in the field in a Field Forces inspection a few weeks ago.

Will close for now.  I’ll try to write you again before long.
Love, Ted

Friday, January 30, 2015

June 10, 1953

Wed  June 10, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

How is everything at home.  I got you letter tonight.  Everything is fine here.  Haven’t done much of anything new.  Days seem to go by slower now.  We have been getting through early now in the field lately.  I thought we were going to have it easy but our platoon has to drill 2 hours every night to be in some kind of contest next Saturday.

I went to church Monday night.  Mr. Clark never did say anything so I didn’t either.

Tomorrow we go down and give blood.  Everybody gives.  We haven’t much choice the way they put it.  We have all day tomorrow off though.  They said we might get a pass this weekend.

I haven’t heard what my orders are yet.  I guess I will find out about the 18th or 19th . 

I haven’t got that money yet.  Hope I get it before to long. 

I don’t think I can send my clothes home yet.  I can’t until I get my orders anyway.  Most of my clothes are in the laundry now. 

I haven’t decided what I will do yet.  They will only let us take 40 lbs in the chartered plane.  I may take what I need with me and send the rest express.  If I come some other way I’ll keep it with me.

Well not much more to say.  I’ll write you later on.
Love, Ted

Monday, January 26, 2015

June 8, 1953

Monday  June 8, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad and Snapper

Well I finally have time to write.  Have done quite a lot since I wrote you last.  Friday we got a pass till last night.  Martin and I went to Paso Robles.  I left my clothes there to be altered.  About  we decided to go to LA.  We hitched hiked to San Lous Abisbo and got a bus there to LA.  We got into LA about .  We got a nice hotel room about  it cost us only $3 for both of us till Sunday morning.  We slept till about  and then fooled around town for awhile then went over to Hollywood.  We went to the Pantages Theater and saw a 3D movie “It Came from Outer Space.”  It was good.  You should see one of those 3D show some time.

We went to the USO for awhile then to Hollywood Planet.  Less Brown was there.  That was some place.  It is a lot like the Playmore only a lot more and a lot nicer and bigger.  After that we came back to the hotel and got a bus about  Sunday back to camp.  I didn’t think much of LA but did like Hollywood.  We only got around Hollywood and Vine and Sunset and Vine.  If you had a car you could probably see a lot more. 

I got your letters and a box tonight.  I haven’t opened the box yet.  I know it will be good and I enjoyed getting it.

That was a nice letter Snapper’s teacher wrote.  I’m glad he goes to bible school.

I will finish basic next Thurs the 18th and I will come home just as soon as I can get away.  If you think you could send me another $25 I could use it.  Don’t send anything that won’t get here by then.  I may not get it if you do.  I would like to have the money with me in case I need to use the phone when I go to LA to catch a plane.  I’ll sure be glad to get home. Don’t know what I want to do when I get there,  I do want to go out to work and see the guys and go out a couple of nights and see a few people.

I hope my orders are good and I can go to a good school and go to Germany.  If they sign the treaty tonight Korea might not be so bad.  I hope they sign it and its over with.  They don’t say much about it here.

I might go to church tonight if I have time. 

I want to go and take that High School test before I leave here.  No sense in taking my car now I guess.  I think 1650 might be to much. 14 or 1500 would sell it now.  It would be better to sell it at that price than to fool around with it to much. 

Our training is fairly good now.  We have squad tactics and combat tactics now.  The main thing we do now is do the bayonet course, assault course and Combat City.  I guess I told you about our training with tanks.  Riding on top of tanks etc.

Thurs  we are supposed to give blood.

Not to much more important stuff to do.  That deal about Marylyn Monroe was a record.  They played it over a loud speaker.  It was made just for that training.  She tried to talk you into surrendering.  Psychological warfare is what they call it.  Something like Tokyo Rose use to do.  

Well not much more to say.  I’ll write more later.

Monday, January 19, 2015

June 3 and 5, 1953

Thur Morning June 3, 1953

Dear Folks

I haven’t had time to let you know that everything is ok.  I got back last night about .  I got some pictures back that we took the first week at Hunter Liggett.  I got your box.  It was sure good.  Well I have to close now.  I will write later.  We have a night problem tonight so it will be Fri or later before I can write.
Love, Ted

PS you can send the money anytime.






Friday June 5, 1953

Dear Mom and Dad

How are you.  I haven’t had much time to write.  I had a night firing problem last night and I did not get back until about .  I got up at  this morn and we didn’t leave till about .

Last night we fired all tracers at targets that were about 200 yard in front of us.  They turned a spot light on the targets.  The lights were two miles away and in back of us.  The instructor said you could read a newspaper 35 miles away from the light.

We have some good classes for the next 2 weeks.  We get to fire a lot of live ammo.  We have several convoys too.

We start our 15th week today.  Yesterday I stayed in the Btry area.  They gave me 11 new men that hadn’t started basic yet and I had to get then to clean up the bivouac area, except for the tents the kitchen used and all the stove water cans etc.  Everything was lined up on the parade ground to be worked on.

We get a pass tomorrow, I guess that will be the last one.  I don’t know what I will do yet.  I want to take my shirts some place and have them worked on. 

I might need a little more money.  If I do I will call you and let you know.

I haven’t heard anymore about the school.  I hope it turns out to be something good and I hope I stay in the states or go to Europe.

Well I don’t have much more.  I haven’t written to Margie for over a week.  I just don’t have much time to write.
Love, Ted

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

May 31, 1953

Sunday May 31, 1953

Dear Mon, Dad, and Snapper

How is everything today.  It was nice to talk to you last night.  I was wanting to call you all day long but I didn’t think I would be in camp.  It was good to get back to a bed and some hot food.  We go back out about and will probably stay in tents for the rest of the time we are out.  I think we will be back about Thur.

I have really climbed some hills while I have been gone.  Friday we marched 12 miles to get on some trucks; it took about 3 hours.  We carried our field packs all the way.

Friday we had a Korean night problem.  We stayed awake all night in our fox holes.  Well at least we were supposed to stay awake.  They had tanks running all around the area.  The noise coupled with the thought that a tank would run over us sort of kept us awake.  They kept setting off dynamite and dropping flour sacks and even had some psychological war fare.  They played records of Marilyn Monroe talking and singing.  It was interesting.  The North Koreans do that to make you home sick they tell us.

Saturday we came in and worked around the barracks etc.  I went to the show last night.  I saw “Stage Shows.”  They have some good movies and we don’t even have to pay.

Well not much more to say.  I’ll write again this week.

Love, Ted

Sunday, January 11, 2015

May 27, 1953

Wed  May 27. 1053

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

Well everything is going fine.  Sunday we went into the base camp for KP Monday.  We ate good there.  Steak for breakfast.  I guarded the kitchen Sunday night and got to sleep till Monday .  The KP stayed Monday too, we came back out Tues .  I guarded Monday night also.  I ate all night long.

I got you package Tues morning.  I have plenty of cigarettes now.  The cookies were sure good.  We have hot breakfast and then hot C rations at  and cold C rations at night.  I carried the cookies, crackers and cheese out to the field and we at them.  I saved the candy and sardines.  I had the sardines for dinner last night along with some cold pork beans.  I had to eat everything fast because I couldn’t carry all of it, we move all the time and carry everything we have.  Next week we will be in tents again and it will be better if we have packages.  We go back to the Camp Roberts area about Fri and finish our bivouac.  So far I have enjoyed it.

I was an aggressor last night and didn’t have to dig a fox hole.  All the guys have to did fox holes to sleep in.  Martin and I are still together.  He has KP with me and he was an aggressor with me last night.  We laid our stuff down on the ground and slept next to each other.  Really kept warm that way.  The aggressors play the part of the enemy.  We slip into camp and attack them etc.

We are on one of the highest ridges on the Hunter Ligett Militia Reservation.  They call them hills here but I would call them mountains.  The weather out here is still the same.  It hasn’t rained yet.  If it rains wile we are in the open we have our ponchos so we wont get wet. 

I think you should plan on sending me $50 in money orders.  I wont need it for a while.  Well not much more to say.  I’ll write again.  Everything is fine.
Love, Ted

Friday, January 9, 2015

May 23, 1953

Saturday  May 23, 1953

Dear Mom, Dad, and Snapper

How are you.  I am in my pup tent writing.  We packed up Thurs night and left about  in the morning and came to Hunter Liggett Militia Reservation.  We came by truck.  We put up our tents and in the afternoon we had a patrolling problem and a night patrolling problem last night.  Everything is done just like it would be a real war zone.  We eat ten yards apart in the chow line, always ware our steel helmets, cartridge belts, and rifle every place we go.  We got up at 7 this morning and moved to a new area.  We will be here till Monday.  Then we will be moving all the time.  No tents or anything.

I had to stand guard last night from about 1 to 2 and .  That canned heat is good.  It really warms the tent up.  Martin and I are bunking together.

I got your cookies Thur night.  They were good.  I didn’t get to eat them all and couldn’t bring them with me.  I couldn’t carry all that I would have liked to.  The flash light comes in handy when we are in the tent at night.

We shaved this morning after we got in our new area.  Used our steel pots and cold water.  Took some pictures of it.  I sleep fairly warm.  I sleep with my clothes on and 2 blankets on me. 

Did you get my card?  I had to send it early.  I sent some pictures too.  The pictures you sent were good.  Some of the guys are playing baseball this afternoon. 

It wont be too long till I’ll be home.  About 2 weeks after this bivouac.  I don’t know how much money I will need to get home.  I’ll let you know.  Well I can’t think of much more to say.  I’ll write the next chance I get.
Love, Ted

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

May 20, 1947

Wed  night May 20 1953

Dear Folks

I am out in the field tonight.  Just finished dinner.  We are going on a night compass course.  We went out last night on squad tactics.  We got back to camp about  and they gave us coffee and sandwiches.  We fired recoilless rifles again and had a demonstration on the flame thrower.  Tomorrow night we will be getting ready for bivouac Friday.  Our company commander told us that we will be eating c rations 2 times a day and sleeping out in fox holes and on the ground.  No tents.  We will have to carry everything on our backs. 

I really feel bad that I forgot Snapper’s birthday.  Seems like it slipped up on me kind of fast.  I was remembering it all the time up till the last 3 or 4 days.  If you get him something I will buy it.  I won’t be able to get anything for a couple of weeks. 

Well I better close for now while I can.  I’ll mail this tonight or in the morn.  Whish I cold write you more .  I don’t feel right unless I write you.  I am going to carry some stationery on bivouac.  I got your letters last night in the field.  The pictures were good.
All my love, Ted

Tell Margie I won’t be able to write for a while.


Love, Ted

Monday, January 5, 2015

May 18, 1953

Monday  May 18, 1953

Dear Folks

Well don’t have much time to write.  I have to move tonight.  About 37 guys are moving out of our Btry.  They joined the Regular Army and they got their orders.  So they are going to make their barracks else where.  I will be in the third platoon now.

I was going to go to church tonight but didn’t.  Guess I will later.

Saturday was the big parade, about 13,000 were in it.  Wish you could have seen it.  Sat afternoon we didn’t do much of anything.  I went to the show Sat night and saw Young Bess.  It was a real good picture. 

I got plenty of sleep Sat and Sun.  Sunday they let us go to town and get things for bivouac.  I didn’t get all I needed.  I will get soap etc at the PX.

4 of us went bowling.  We bought some canned heat.  A case of 216 cost $9 About 2 dollars a piece.  We are selling it for 25 cents or five for a dollar.  It cost us less than 5 cents a can.  We should make about $10 a piece on it.  We have our money back already.  We are going to get double for it on bivouac.

We are still on recoilless rifles.  Tomorrow  is the last day.  I have a night problem Tues and Weds night.  Friday we leave for bivouac.  I won’t be able to write for awhile now.  May be Thurs night. 

I got your cookies and candy and flashlight and 2 letters tonight.  Cookies are really good.  I think I will close for now.  I’ll write you the next chance I get.  Tell Talent hello and all the guys.
Love, Ted

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Most Popular Girl at Van Horn

The most popular girl in all of Van Horn my Junior and Senior year was my on again off again steady girl friend.   At least her mother and father thought she must have been because she dated a lot of different boys all the time, at least so they thought.

It wasn't that her parents didn't like me, which if they didn't like me I could not blame them for the way I conducted myself many times, it was just that they thought she was not old enough to tie herself down to one guy.  Of course they were right, but tell that to any of those who were star crossed teen age items back in the day.

We would not be detoured from continuing our romance in some fashion or another and I suspect she rose such a fuss that her parents relented and let her see me  once a week I think.  But of course that was not enough.

So we would have a real date on Friday and then on Saturday I would have one of my friends pick her up at her house, go inside and meet her mother and father while I waited on the corner down the street or on the floor of the back seat of the car.  Risky and dangerous we were.

I know at least five different guys who were my friends and mutual friends of both or ours who would run the gauntlet so our relations ship would last and carry us on to perpetual bliss.

We went away to college and she got some sence, started giving other boys a chance at romance and married some guy with in a couple of years or so I am told to my heart sick feeling of rejection. .  I don't know if her parents ever caught on to hour duplicity or not.  I have never been able to ask her because my high school heart throb and I have not spoken or scene each other for  going on 50 years.  And besides I would really feel stupid if she didn't even remember our daring escapades.


I had not been to a Van Horn Football game in over 30 years.  Seems like Tom Koely and I went to one when the Falcons were finally playing for the Interscholastic League Championship but don’t know exactly when that was.  It was a first in school history.   Funny thing is I don’t remember if they won or lots.

When I was in High School I never saw a football game from beginning to end.  The last two years I was playing and my sophomore year I was too interested in trying to talk, with some success I might add, my girl friend, who shall remain nameless, to forgo the second half and head out towards the school buses that were parked un locked and with no attendants. 

But the other night Bev and I had nothing planned and I suggested that we see if Van Horn was playing and go to the game.  Those of us who are in our senior years get in free to all the high school sporting events sponsored by the Independence School District.  Being on social security one has to find free entertainment where one can you know.

When I was in high school Van Horn was part of the Kansas City School District and a fine district it was.  But because of miss management, forced busing, redistricting, family disintegration, lack of continuity of leadership, and a host of other reason real or imagined the district for many years was just a shadow of itself and Van Horn was one of the causalities. So much so that eventually a grass root effort lead by concerned local citizens and spearheaded politically by Victor Callahan, State Senator from the area bought Van Horn under the auspices of the Independence Board of Education.  Van Horn now has a bright future.  An alumni association has been established, scholarships have been given, and a hall of honor established for distinguished graduates.  I have been over looked for the last two years but eventually they will find me and be proclaimed as one of the honorees.  Well perhaps.

The Van Horn Falcons played the Butler Bears the night we went and unfortunately lost.  However the score on the field may have spelled defeat but those in the stands, kids, band, parents and all were winners.  The enthusiasm and diversity represented by the crowd, let alone those on the field, stood out and made me think that this is how it is supposed to be.  There were people of different races and ethnicity sitting side by side hand in hand, a far different picture than when I went to school there, but those were secondary identification marks.  First they were Falcons.  Nothing else had really changed since I was a young man playing or watching, at least the first half of the games.  Kids were laughing, yelling support, acting stupid, being courteous to the elders (which to my chagrins was me) and conducted themselves in such a manner as to make me proud that I had gone to school there. 

 Home coming is next week.  I think I will go.  Bev wants me to drag out my old letter jacket and let her ware it and if I can find my class ring she wants to put it on a chain around her neck. 


None of us can or should go back to Van Horn and expect it to be ours again, we passed that torch a long time ago.  But just perhaps for a few fleeting moments we will return to those days of yesteryear and remember what it is like to have the rest of your life ahead of you and not even realize it.  And if I am real lucky I might be able to talk Bev into slipping off to the buss at half time.


You cannot so it seems have a get together of Van Horn alumni of any size without eventually talking about the swimming pool at Van Horn.  There is always the talk of the boys swimming nude and girls having to ware swim suits that had holes.  The girls also suffered from the humiliation of what I have heard one female alumnus refer to as the “nude parade” after they showered.


I don’t remember feeling humiliated standing in the buff lined up in the shower hall way leading to the swimming pool, in fact no one really gave it much thought or so it seemed at the time.  The one thing that is why in this day and age of openness and acceptance such a thing would never happen and be fodder for lawsuits towards school districts and accusations of teacher perversion.  I mean wasn’t it more conservative back then?  Wasn’t modesty more prevalent?  Apparently not for we all got naked and paraded around as instructed without any thought of impropriety.


Many years later a teacher at Northeast told me that since our skinny dipping days that studies have shown that at least 5% of all teenagers are Gay or at least lean in that direction and the practice was stopped.  If that is true I suppose the percentage has not changed much and that means that in the 1965 graduating class of more than 500  there were at least 25 of our class mates when standing around naked with the same sex were very uncomfortable and considered by officials as psychologically damaging. 


I can honestly say that to this day I have no inkling of who the 25 might have been.  We had some frail looking kids, some shy kids, and some kids that were just strange but to consider them Gay or in those days we said queer or homo never even occurred to me.  The part that bothers me the most is that those who were (and I suspect they were not the shy, frail, or strange ones) must have suffered and done so in silence.  What stress they must have gone through each swim day or while taking the mandatory shower after PE.


Kids are more open and accepting today but I bet many kids still suffer and think they are some kind of deviant and are picked on or bullied.  School officials have recognized this problem and have implemented programs and procedures to eradicate the tyranny of the majority.  I suspect the problem is becoming less and less even though it would not seem like it if you were the target of such harassment.


I don’t know what the swimming attire is now or how many of the schools even have pools nor do I have any clue if showering after PE is mandatory.  If I were to ask the school system I would probably be put on a watch list of some sort and when I ran for president some day my asking the question would be made public and the only support I would receive would be from the Rainbow Coalition.

Van Horn – Otto Kaifes


One time on face book I asked people who their favorite teacher was or which teacher influenced them the most.  It seems that Mr. Kaifes, math teacher and coach, won hands down.  So many voted for him that I began to think I was the only student that never had him for a teacher.  In fact I can never remember even talking to him or either one of us acknowledging the others existence even with a casual nodding of the head while we passed each other in the hall way.  I knew him by sight of course and he always sort of scared me a little.  He always seemed to have a scowl or a ‘don’t mess with me’ look.  I stayed clear of him but from what all I can gather this side of graduation it was my loss.

My ability to solve for an unknown might have been enhanced if I had him for algebra and perhaps geometry would not have mystified me so, for I understand he was a very good teacher and well liked, which in high school is tantamount to the same thing usually. 


Otto Kaifes appears to have had that intangible that many otherwise very good teachers don’t ever quite grasp.  More than one of his former students have told me he was a mentor, a confident, and a man who gave sound advice even if not always taken.  I will just have to take their word for it because I will never know - all is hearsay.  Hearsay however sometimes is as good as truth and even makes a better story. 


Like I stated above, I never knew or even talked to Mr. Kaifes, but I do have a short story about him.  It was told to me by Walt Zuber, whom some of you may know.  Walt became a teacher at Van Horn in 1966 the year after I graduated.  I met Zuber when he was a counselor at Northeast and I taught ESL there after returning from Alaska.  Walt was very entertaining in the teacher’s lounge and told me many stories about my old teachers at Van Horn.  He was surprised I never had Mr. Kaifes and told me a short story about him.  Walt is not above letting fact interfere with a good story especially when it is about some one else so what I relate next I have no way of determining if it is true or not – it is just hearsay you see. 


Kaifes, according to Walt, always drove cars that were old and dilapidated.  He never owned a new car and always bought a junked one for cash.  I don’t think that is too outlandish given what teachers must have made back then.  Zuber said Kaifes, would only perform minor maintenance on the car, drive the thing into the ground,  and when it finally did break down he would just take the title to the car that was already signed and notarized, pull the car along the side of the road, leave the signed title on the front seat, abandoned the car where it sat, and get home the best he could.  He would pick up a new almost junked car as soon as he could and start the process all over again.


Walt said Kaifes did get in trouble once or at least admonished by the principal at Van Horn, who might have been Mr. Curtis (thinking of Mr. Curtis still brings chills up and down my spine) for leaving his abandoned car in the parking lot for two weeks.  I guess it was in so bad a shape that no one wanted it.  The story goes that one of his students’ father owned a tow truck and hauled if off for Otto in exchange for some extra tutoring the boy needed.  Of course he did not know that Mr. Kaifes would have provided the tutoring anyway. 

Since Mr. Kaifes and Walt Zuber are still alive I must restate that the only part of this bland and lame story that I can swear to is that which Walt told me.  I don’t mind repeating what Walt told me even if it isn’t true because there is nothing detrimental stated about anyone and if fact paints Mr. Kaifes in a good light I think.  However, if one of you ever run across Kaifes or Zuber you might ask them about the validity of this tale and if you pass an abandoned car you might just stop and check the front seat, one never knows