About Me

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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alcoa and New York University

Finding a job was easy in the mid-fifties,
With an engineering degree and military service,
He received favorable responses from several companies,
Choosing to interview with Alcoa in Pittsburgh.

When he expressed preference to be located
Near N.Y.C., he was sent to the Edgewater, N.J., works,
To meet the head industrial engineer,
Who promptly hired him to start as soon as possible.

Separated in April, 1954, the family moved to Lodi, N.J.,
Renting a small apartment near the Curtiss-Wright plant.
The army thoughtfully shipped their possessions to them,
And they settled into a new, strange civilian mode of living.

The industrial engineering department was composed of
Graduates of many of the leading technical schools in the East.
The main task involved maintaining a bonus sytem wherein
Workers were compensated extra for exceeding production quotas.

This required time and motion studies of the type
Pioneered by Frederick Taylor and Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth.
The work led directly to the calculation of product costs,
Which then formed the basis for pricing individual products.

The factory produced aluminum sheet and foil from ingots
And hundreds of castings and drop-forged pieces.
The employees were a diverse mixture of local residents
Good-natured, easy to get along with, in a strong union.

She was stuck in the apartment with no friends, while
He commuted daily to work; until joining a car pool
Gave her the freedom to explore the area while shopping,
And search for her prime objective -- a house of her own.

His department supervisor suggested that he look into
Graduate education in industrial engineering at New York University.
He enrolled in the evening program at University Heights,
Applying for the scholarships afforded veterans of the Korean War period.

Some of his classes were in industrial management, taught by
Prof. Alex Rathe at the Washington Square Campus.
His master's thesis was on the product costing system
Of Alcoa at the Edgewater Works, its advantages and weaknesses.

On weekends, they looked for houses, and decided upon
A newly constructed Cape Cod style home in Washington Township, N.J.
And, as if their lives were not busy enough, she
Produced the first daughter to add to the family of four.

They moved in to their new home in late 1955,
Doing much work of expansion and improvement.
The second floor was unfinished, and would require hiring
A building contractor when finances permitted.

They made friends quickly, including a young mother of five, who
Later found fame as the mystery writer, Mary Higgins Clark.
They had already decided to leave the Roman Catholic Church
Before their older son would enter the first grade.

Received into the Anglican Communion in 1956, at
Grace Episcopal Churgh in Westwood, N.J., they began
A lifelong commitment to the words and worship of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.

He moved to the foil department as assistant manager,
Enjoying the interaction with employees and the routine of factory life.
But further promotion would require moving elsewhere in Alcoa
As the Edgewater Works was scheduled to be closed in a few years.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Living Quarters

He requested his next station be on the East Coast of the U.S.A.
So they sent him to the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment,
Based at Camp Pickett, deep in the piney woods of Virginia,
But within easy driving distance of Richmond and Petersburg.

He took command immediately of "B" troop of the regiment,
Staying at a spartan Bachelor Officers Quarter until
New housing for families of the regiment could be completed,
While she and their two little boys stayed with her parents in Michigan.

Almost two months elapsed before they could move in to their new home.
Her parents were anxious to off load the young family,
So they drove straight through to Camp Pickett,
Dumped them out, then returned immediately to Birmingham.

The houses were prefabricated with exterior walls
Like an extra thickness of gypsum wallboard.
The rooms were tiny and sparsely furnished.
A kerosene heater took up space in the middle of the living room.

All the houses in the area were located close together.
What they were living in, then, was a trailer park.
Officers of all grade up to colonel, and senior non-coms,
Had exactly the same kind of units to live in.

The regiment had very little to do except classroom
Training and maintenance, not even firing their weapons on the range.
They camped out a few times, and rumbled around the post.
Then out of the blue, the whole regiment was to be transferred to Fort Meade.

He had followed up on his request for graduate school
By calling Career Management for the Armor Branch at the Pentagon.
He was told that his application had been tabled
As only field grade officers were being given that privilege.

During the cold winter in Virginia of 1953-1954,
He and others turned off their heaters in the evening, because
They were afraid of carbon monoxide poisoning,
Or the possibility of the whole unit going up in flames.

One morning, he got up and found the boys missing.
There was an emergency door in their bedroom
Which the older boy had figured out how to open,
So both were playing on a swing set in their sleepers.

That same week, a directive came down from the Pentagon
Announcing that all persons who had fulfilled their obligation
For service during the Korean War could be released.
He put in a request to resign his commission and leave the Army.

Follow Up

He felt a measure of guilt that he had missed the Korean War,
When so many of his classmates fought and died or were wounded.
He would have had plenty of war later in combat tours in Viet Nam,
Probably serving with and advising the South Viet Nam armor.

Within a year or two after his separation, the policy was changed
To encourage any regular officer to pursue a graduate degree.
In fact, he was scheduled to be sent to the University of Pennsylvania
To obtain a Master of Arts in English and teach at the academy.

She would have loved living in Philadelphia and West Point.
But to those officers who did, it was a career buster.
By keeping them out of active duty for five or six years,
They never recovered a place in advancement.

Camp Pickett became Fort Pickett
And was turned over permanently to the Virginia National Guard.
The "trailer park" was bulldozed off the area.
No quarters for military families exist on the post today.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vermont in Winter

West on the MassPike to Route 7, north past Greylock,
Massachusetts' highest peak, then into Vermont
Through Bennington to the valley between
Equinox and Stratton Mts., turning into Manchester Center.

Stopping at the Inn at Manchester, a handsome 1880s
Wooden mansion, with fireplace suites, and antique furnishings.
Next day, an expedition north on Route 100
To Weston's Vermont Country Store.

Where it is said, you cannot spend less than two hours
Or less than $100; we made both goals easily.
Up to Okemo in Ludlow, a major ski area,
To watch the skiers coming downhill, and riding the lifts.

Sampling the outlets in Manchester Center:
Woodcraft -- excellent, Ann Taylor -- good,
Dansk -- good, Orvis and Ralph Lauren -- laughable,
Kitchen Supply -- anything your heart desires.

Next day to Southern Vermont Art Center;
Museum closed, gallery featuring local artists.
Bought a print of the winter scene.
Lunch at The Equinox, for a touch of luxury.

Stopped at Pownal Center on the way back,
Where Barbara spent the summer in 1950,
With fellow artists from the Art Students League of New York,
Painting the mountain vistas, and exploring the area.

Alas, the town is now poor, drab, and miserable.
Route 7 has been relocated, so the main street dead ends.
The boarding house is a derelict, with boarded up windows.
The church meets in a tiny senior center for the winter.

Pownal is a microcosm of the rural poor in the Northeast.
The height of luxury is a neatly kept double-wide.
Trailers are jammed together in a small park.
The roads are narrow, pitted, and crumbling.

On to Williamstown to visit the Clark Art Center.
Took many, many photographs of Vermont in winter,
Deep snow, stark and beautiful,
And close-ups of paintings in the art centers.

Returned along Route 2, the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts,
Displaying fabulous views of Green Mountains to the north,
And winding through gorges along the Deerfield River,
Looks like a paradise for camping and fly fishing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Drei Jahre in Deutschland

The couple sailed to Hamburg from Boston
On a Displaced Persons ship deadheading back to Europe.
The quarters were spartan, and the food was mediocre,
But the baby settled down to sleep regularly on the eleven day trip.

They were quartered first in an old resort hotel in Bad Wildungen,
Then given a requisitioned house in town, with a maid.
He went off to work in a kaserne in Fritzlar, close to the border,
That housed the First Battalion of the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

This was his first encounter with enlisted men in the army,
As platoon leader of thirty men, two light tanks, five jeeps,
   and two old half-tracks.
The G.I.s were a mixture of urban delinquents and poor rural boys,
Who had been encouraged to join the army by local authorities.

Fortunately, the sergeants were experienced men
Who had stayed in service after the war
And also stayed in Germany during the occupation.
They were patient and helpful to the new lieutenants.

Work was mainly maintenance of equipment and
Classes for the troops in their various combat specialties.
He took to teaching classes with ease,
Developing original material in addition to the field manuals.

Periodically, the battalion traveled to Vilseck or Grafenwoehr
To fire their weapons on the ranges;
Or engaged in patrolling maneuvers along the border
Between East and West Germany.

The strategic mission was to be the early warning of
A Soviet invasion, and to fight a delaying action if it occurred.
So when the U.S. forces were enhanced and reconfigured,
The new commander moved the battalion to Fulda,
   in a less exposed salient.

The families were moved to Frankfurt, to live in the
Old I.G.Farben apartment building,
Until new quarters were constructed in
Giessen, nearer to the kaserne in Fulda.

This caused a period of almost nine months,
When they only saw each other on two day leaves.
She almost decided to pack up and go home,
But her mother forbade her to do so.

So their second son was born in Frankfurt,
And has a German Geburtsurkunde to prove it,
With the parents listed as, Beide Katholische.
The family of four moved to a new airy apartment in Giessen.

When the battalion adjutant returned to the States,
He was given the job, and liked it, as primarily office management.
But the new battalion commander thought he belonged in the field,
And made him executive officer of Tank Company.

This was a job in motor pool management
Keeping seventeen M26 heavy tanks on the road,
And acting as range officer at Vilseck,
Where he lost about forty percent of his hearing.

Thinking of his posting after his three year tour in Germany,
He remembered how impressed he was by Colonel George Lincoln
Who was a Rhodes Scholar and department head at West Point.
His lectures on leadership were intellectual and inspiring.

So he applied for graduate school, to study for a Ph. D.,
And to teach military history at West Point.
His new battalion commander was also a scholar,
Gave him an enthusiastic recommendation, and sent it up
    for command endorsements, duly received.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fort Riley and Fort Knox

After a two week honeymoon in Daytona Beach, Florida,
The newly married couple drove their Chevy coupe
To visit parents in Birmingham, Michigan, and Chicago
With all their worldly goods stuffed in the rear.

The assignment was a four month indoctrination at
Fort Riley, Kansas, to all aspects of the U.S. Army;
What they would have received at an officer candidate school,
But featuring very little training in the field.

The only value of the experience was the fostering of
Camaradarie with Regular Army R.O.T.C. graduates.
Then, after a quick Christmas leave,
On to Fort Knox for Armor officer school.

That featured a full round of field training, driving tanks
And firing their armament on the ranges.
As well as learning how to maintain these elephants,
And sometimes pull them out of the mud.

This was called branch training by the Army, as
Graduates dispersed to similar schools for their service branches.
One byproduct was the assignment thereafter of almost all
Armor officers to Germany to join the Armored Cavalry regiments.

The infantry officers, in the main, were to be sent to Japan after
Their training at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The Armor officers would spend three years in Germany
Patrolling the border between East and West Germany.

The infantry graduates went immediately to Korea in 1950
And never saw Japan unless wounded or in transit back home.
Twenty-seven of the class of 1949 were killed,
One was awarded a Medal of Honor posthumously.

Worse for the class of 1950 who had no field training
After graduation, and were sent into combat as replacements.
After such losses, new second lieutenants were pulled
Off the line and given a one week orientation in survival.

Meanwhile, those assigned to Germany sailed to Europe
With their families, for a three year tour of duty.
At Fort Knox hospital, the couple had added a dependent,
Who went along as the youngest passenger on board.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hicks in New York

In her third year at Northwestern,
She developed an internal infection
That was cured by the new drug, penicillin,
But kept her home for the spring quarter.

Unless she went back to N.U. in the summer,
She would be behind, so during her convalescence
She explored alternatives, and found
Literature for The New York School of Interior Design.

She convinced her father that she had learned
Enough from Northwestern's program.
Whereas the NYSID experience would be
A much more professional preparation.

Her mother was not about to let her move
To New York without suitable living arrangements.
Through customer contacts, they found a pension
On Park Avenue that boarded girls studying
  in various academies as day students.

These girls all came from good families in the East,
And were to  be carefully chaperoned by the landlady.
In fact, they turned out to pretty wild kids who
Were anxious to get away from home and sample
  the delights of Manhattan.

So our heroine emigrated to the Big Apple
And never looked back thereafter.
She made friends with the cream of society's debutantes,
Absorbing their mannerisms and savoir faire.

In those days, NYSID was not yet accredited,
Offering only a one year program of study.
She took her classes very seriously,
Spending hours sketching in the city's museums.

Among fond remembrances were meeting the
Debutante of the Year, one Jacqueline Bouvier,
Who had roomed at Miss Porter's School with one of the girls,
And the night one girl's mother took them to the Village Gate
  to hear the new French chanteuse, Edith Piaf.

Of course, there were also weekend bus rides to West Point,
Where the boyfriend was in his third year.
In fact, they became engaged at Christmas vacation,
Though marriage was still a year and a half in the future.

The following year, she got a job
As an order clerk for an import firm in NYC,
Renting an apartment first with the fiancee of his roommate,
And then later with a friend from home who later
  met and married a cadet from the Class of 1950.

As a senior, or first classman, he got weekend leaves,
So they explored Manhattan together
From Greenwich Village to Riverside Park,
Specializing in the small, inexpensive cafes.

On other weekends, there were football games
And Saturday evening hops at West Point.
On nice Sundays, buying the New York Times
Sitting in a grotto on Flirtation Walk, watching
   the boats going up and down the Hudson.

Monday, February 7, 2011

USMA Class of 1949

906 young men were admitted to West Point in the summer of 1945.
Only 574 graduated four years later, an astonishing loss.
The reason is that over half the entering cadets were in the armed services,
And many saw this as a ticket to a free college education.

About that time, the G.I. Bill was beginning to be used by disabled veterans,
And would later be financial assistance to all in seeking higher education.
Thus a considerable number of admitted cadets decided rather quickly
That they didn't need all the verbal harassment afforded "plebes."

But many servicemen stayed, resulting in a great age disparity:
Five years, from seventeen to twenty-two, in the 1949 class.
The effect was soon realized in promotion opportunities for cadet rank,
And in ability to absorb the limited Army officer training cadets received.

Half the class was destined to join the new Air Force service,
Because the Air Force Academy was still an unrealized idea.
Army training was rudimentary, occuring only on the West Point reservation,
Outside orientation was almost entirely at airbases.

Otherwise, the college education at West Point was superb,
Utilizing the system of daily recitation and grading instituted by
Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, the superintendent of early years, who is
Memorialized on his statue as the "Father of the Military Academy."

He enjoyed the academic instruction in all phases,
Forging a linear engineering approach to solving problems.
He was entranced by military history, devouring textbooks of the subject
As if they were first rate novels.

He should have been on the dean's list, missing academic stars by a hair.
His parents were disappointed that he didn't apply for a Rhodes Scholarship.
But his last two years were occupied by other interests,
That is, by someone else who commanded his attention.

Most important, he absorbed the ethos of the military academy,
Its emphasis on the motto:  "Duty, Honor, Country."
West Point molded his entire life thereafter, giving him an attitude
Of righteousness which was not always well received.

West Point's culture of self-reliance gave him the fortitude
To cope with almost any situation he faced.
He was not awed by authority figures,
Walking into meetings of the mighty as an equal.

He has attended every one of the class reunions held
At five year intervals at West Point.
A picture taken at the 60th reunion shows him standing erect,
Holding the guidon for the class, waiting for the Corps of Cadets
  to pass in review.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Old Detroit

She came from what residents called "Old Detroit."
That is, her parents' people predated the automobile era.
Her father's kin fought in Michigan regiments in the Civil War.
Her mother's parents came from Scotland.

He was a marine engineer, training ore boat engineers
Who sailed the Great Lakes after the discovery of iron ore
  in the Mesabi Range near Duluth.
Her mother was the manager of the Elizabeth Arden store in Detroit,
Serving the newly rich automobile aristocracy.

Her father sold real estate until the Crash, was out of work,
Until their connections got him an expediter's job at Ford.
They married late in life, had only one child, a girl
Whom they alternately spoiled and repressed.

Her mother did not take to mothering, so they
Packed her off to a Catholic boarding school at eleven,
Where she stayed until the end of her sophomore year,
When she found out the nuns would only send her transcripts
  to Catholic colleges.

Back in Birmingham for the last two years of high school,
She learned how to smoke and drink and generally
  have a good time.
Her parents wanted her to go to Ann Arbor, but
She chose to get farther away from home.

She heard that Northwestern had a program in
Interior Design, and thought that might be interesting.
She hadn't counted on being pursued by a young, blond twerp,
And from time to time gave him the slip.

But after he moved to Evanston for the Spring Quarter,
And was initiated into the Phi Delta Theta fraternity,
They spent time together with the brothers and their dates,
Sampling the roadhouses on "West Campus" near Evanston.

In late spring, he gave her his fraternity pin,
Which was sort of being engaged to be engaged.
The fraternity showed up at the freshman womens' dorm
To serenade her with the great old college songs.

By prearrangement, the freshman women responded with
"It Had to Be You," and that became their lifelong song.
Before his departure for West Point, they agreed that no strings
Would be on her social life for the next four years.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Northwestern Prep

You have to be seventeen to enter West Point
This presented a dilemma:
How to obtain an appointment for a year hence;
What to do in the meantime.

Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago
Invited him and other top graduates of Chicago high schools
To enroll in the new program of great books
With a full academic scholarship.

While flattering, his parents vetoed the idea.
Sixteen was too young for him to be away at college
Especially as far distant as the South Side.
He didn't want to do it anyway.

So a compromise was achieved by
Enrolling him in the engineering school at Northwestern
Meeting in new buildings in Evanston,
And easily reached on the El from home.

Then the problem of securing a West Point appointment
Could be addressed separately.
His father found out that it could be obtained by
Making an unaffordable donation to the local congressman.

He reported to Northwestern for freshman orientation
A week before classes commenced.
Among the scheduled events was a mixer for
Members of various Christian denominations.

The hand of God was evident on that bright August day.
He and a very attractive girl approached a clergyman
In a clerical collar, thinking he was a Catholic priest.
Alan Watts, of later fame, directed them across the room.

This chance meeting led to a romance of fifty-eight years,
Resulting in four children, and seven grandchildren.
It is her story, more than his, which deserves
To be chronicled elsewhere in this volume.

A year at Northwestern proved invaluable as
Academic preparation for the military academy.
Later in 1944, Senator Brooks of Illinois
Held an open competition for his appointments.

He took the train downstate to Bloomington,
Scored second on the test.
The winner declined to accept,
Thus his appointment to West Point was assured for 1945.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Junior R.O.T.C.

He graduated from grade school in Kansas City in 1940.
He was twelve, short and slight, with a baby face.
The nuns at Visitation parochial school wanted him to
Enroll at the Jesuit high school in the city.

But he rebelled, told his parents that
He wanted to go to the public high school.
He had heard that the Jesuits beat the boys
At their school, and wanted no part of it.

As the third of three boys, he easily got his own way,
By staying out of trouble and excelling at school.
So off he went, and in his second year,
Enlisted in the Junior R.O.T.C. program.

War was imminent, and the draft had begun.
He liked wearing a soldier uniform with blue facings.
The R.O.T.C. instructor was an old sergeant
Who had fought in the trenches of France in 1918.

At the annual citywide drill competition of
High school R.O.T.C. units,
He was picked as the individual representative
Of Southwest High School.

The drill took a long time,
And was wearing on spectators and competitors.
Finally, one of the judges said
"Kimball looks pretty smooth!"

So he got the individual drill medal
And from that day on
Made service in the U.S. Army
His life ambition.

When they moved to Chicago,
His parents wanted him to go to Chicago Latin School.
But he insisted on the public school again,
And became a cadet major in the R.O.T.C. unit.

He enjoyed Waller High School on the Near North Side
And made a group of friends from diverse backgrounds;
All of whom, boys and girls, were college bound.
He made the graduation speech in June, 1944.