Start All Over -
An American's Experience -
People, places, and lessons learned in historical, cultural, and emotional settings, growing up in the 30's, 40's. The war homefront. The 50's, and the turbulent Vietnam War years. People overcoming handicaps. How companies are really run and how deals are made. From Who's Who in the World, to Bedford Citizen of the Year, Viemeister takes you inside closed doors of the Grumman corporation that built the craft which landed men on the moon, and then, behind the scenes in a small community. The facts about the proposed Virginia nuclear dump.
Table of Contents
1917 Because of a Shoe 1955 Planes not Missiles 1929 Honk the Horn 1959 Planning & Doing 1930 Westward Ho Ho 1961 Eyes on the Moon 1931 Preschool Fun 1965 Stops & Starts 1935 Country Life 1968 M.I.T. World 193X Home religion 1969 Computer President 1936 Eggs and Airplanes 1972 Not All Roses 1937 Progressive Education 1973 More New Starts 1938 Lincoln is 16 Cents 1976 Escape Plan 1939 Heroes and Alligators 1978 The Planesman 1940 War Rationing 1979 "Retired" 1942 Teenage Fiduciary 1980 Putting in Roots 1944 Publishing and Dating 1981 New Hopes 1946 Spell Rensselaer 1983 Museum & Mysteries 1950 Engineer Father 1989 The Talented 1990 Let's Go
Here are a few excerpts
Live With Indians
The stock market crashed, and in 1930 Dad had only a few hundred dollars in the bank. Mom wrote to her parents:
"You will, no doubt, be thunderstruck when I drop the news. -- Vie has been fired, as there is no work
in building at all in N.Y. now -- hundreds of architects walking the streets -- there is no use even to look for work, as there is none.
"So -- where do you suppose we're going? -- Taos, New Mexico! For the winter anyway, maybe longer. We are going to drive down, put all the kids in, too, a few pots and pans, blankets, necessary clothes, & away we go December 1st to live like the Hopi Indians---"
On December 1, 1930, we climbed into the family car: two adults, three small children (with me, age 22 months and still in diapers), and luggage on the running boards and in the back behind the spare tires. No heater. No air conditioning. No radio. No interstate highways.
We celebrated Christmas in the highland of New Mexico, in a small adobe "house" in the Mexican Placita section of Taos. Mom wrote her parents again:
"We get our water from the brook just across the road. It is delicious looking and tasting, & all the cows and horses drink there too. We drink said water, absolutely curbing our imagination while doing so.
"Two young full-blooded Pueblo Indian young men, Agripito Pit (pronounced "Pete") Concha and Crucito Trujillo, befriended us and treated us kindly.
Pit Concha became the spiritual leader of the pueblo community and, in 1994, was alive and well, at age 95. But in 1930, Pit and Crucito were vigorous and helpful. Mom wrote:
"Crucito chopped us a tree at Pueblo Mountain, & Read & I made popcorn strings, colored baskets filled with candy, & hung homemade decorations on it.
"After dinner we went to the pueblo & watched the Deer Dance from Crucito's roof. It was sure spectacular. About 100 Indians all dressed up with the entire hide, head & antlers of deer, & to see them coming from way off in two rows was quite a sight"
Later we shifted to Arizona to get warm. We met a family living in a small frame house, which had a goat head mounted on the wall.
A few days after seeing this, my 4-year old brother asked Mom where was the goat that was running around with no head.
During World War II, butter was hard to get, so we ate oleomargarine instead. The dairy industry insisted that oleo must not be allowed to look like butter, so it was white. It was packaged in a plastic bag accompanied by a small capsule of color dye which the consumer had to knead. My brothers and I would take turns doing this, because it was a tedious process. We rarely spread the dye evenly: usually there was an orange streak here, and a red blob there.
Save the Books
The movie Soylent Green, both disturbed me and reinforced a smoldering resolve. It was about a time and place when citizens were repressed and denied access to any literature that was not politically correct. In a memorable scene of a secret basement hideaway, Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, rebels of a kind, savored a collection of forbidden books.
Even in a relatively free society, the mass mentality can drift towards intellectual narrowing and intolerance where contrary ideas are ignored or rejected. Soylent Green, like Bradbury's Fahrenheit Four Fifty-One, reminds one that access to information is a precious essence of liberty.
That need for free inquiry motivated me since childhood to treasure my books. Old books may be the only source of forgotten wisdom. Maybe that is why I like old books, which I buy and sell at my little Hamilton's shop. And maybe that is also why I write history,, to provide a link to lessons of the past.
Jerry Henderson, the man who would put $20 million cash into the Gulfstream deal, had a house that seemed out of a James Bond movie. Here in the Rocky Mountains it was hidden. Only a doorway, with a logged berm on either side and shielded by a hill, invisible from the air except for a couple of vent pipes. The house was completely underground.
Henderson, a small, feisty, and enthusiastic man of about 73, was proud of his house. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, President Kennedy encouraged people to build atomic bomb fallout shelters. Henderson decided "an empty fallout shelter would only attract bugs and snakes. Why not live in all the time, and then you still have your property open for growing flowers or vegetables!"
He built what he preached: a complete house underground here in Colorado, an underground house at the New York's World's Fair in 1964, and another at Las Vegas.
We went down by elevator, and exited into a "yard" surrounding what looked like a perfectly normal suburban ranch house with shingled siding, roof overhangs, windows and doors. The "sky" was solid rock.
We slept well in total silence, except for the whispering air conditioner.
Nuclear Waste in Virginia
A Washington, D.C. TV station saw the article about "NUCLEAR DUMP?" and contacted me. They wanted to look Bedford over and talk with some of the "ordinary citizens" who could be affected by a proposed nuclear waste facility in Bedford. I suggested that there was one "typical farmer" that they might want to talk to, who could show them around the prospective site area. Just an ordinary guy, John Byrne. Sure.
The TV folks met Byrne at his farm. Tall and weathered, this fifty-ish man looked anything but the brilliant intellect he is. He was wearing his usual coverall, stained with greases and tobacco and with pieces of hay attached, and his scruffy straw hat. He invited the TV men to ride in his pickup, a many-dented affair with no tailgate and mismatched paint because of replaced parts. Inside the cab, atop the dashboard, was an old denture that John had found in a field.
As they bumped over the area, "typical farmer Byrne gave a tutorial on gneiss, geological fault lines, asbestos mining, real estate values, and water supply. It was good practice for the presentation he would make at the formal D.O.E. hearing.
Life in America - Close up.
Start All Over - An American's Experience - Lessons
Big Index. 241 illustrations. 451 pages.
Cloth hardbound. ISBN 0-883912-01-6