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Friday, December 21, 2012


1955 passes slowly....spending each day - and some nights (KP / Guard Duty) at Paine AFB.  My job in the Air Force is Steno-Technician; i.e., I use the Gregg Simplified system, which I learned in my Junior and Senior year in High School (1950 - 1952).

I  enrolled in Shorthand and Typing because my first - of two - "Love of my Life", is is my - bashful and very much introverted - way to remain close without revealing my "infatuation" - which began on Monday, May 07, 1945...the day I walk into Miss Ronning's 5th Grade Class upon moving from the stump ranch to Kennewick.

Standing in front of the class, Miss Ronning asks me to introduce myself...I can not get a single word out...this, class, is Bruce...directing me to an empty seat next to the most beautiful girl my young life has ever seen.  I take my seat next to my instant life-long companion... she leans across the aisle, smiles, whispers...Hi, Bruce...I'm G. (SAM).

57 years later, I hear hear those words once more...but I'm getting ahead of myself !

For two years, I plunge into mastering Gregg Simplified Shorthand and typing.  Weekly competitions are held in both classes, the winner to receive a reward at the end of the year.  The competition is stopped after two name standing alone over the chalk-board.  By graduation, my shorthand speed is 165 wpm (words per minute);  typing something close to 100 wpm).  I never ask why no "reward" is given.

Receiving a "by-pass specialist" upon enlisting in the US Air Force, I am, 90 days later, recording courts-martial in Wichita Falls AFB, Texas...thank you, G. for inspiring you still do.

During 1955 at Paine AFB, a new electronic device is brought into the court room.  As the only court reporter, I quickly master this new machine...the about one week.

Using the Stenomask, I ad-lib throughout the "color" about the folks involved...mannerisms. gestures, and expressions.  I am really enjoying myself. 

Having moved onto the farm at Bay View, I am becoming reacquainted with my family .  Dad has taken up scavenging the beaches of Useless Bay for lumber to build a chicken house...he is determined to become a gentleman farmer by going into the business of raising chickens.  I am pressed into service to help pull the waterlogged planks out of the sand and haul them the 5 miles home.  The chicken house is soon completed, with automatic heaters, feeding, and watering system for a couple hundred chicks.

In 7 weeks, chicks become 5 - 6 pound chickens.  In the beginning, chickens are decapitated and let run loose...a good way to make sure they "bleed out" before dipping them into a washtub of scalding water, pulling the feathers - make sure ALL pin feathers are out ! - and dressing - removing the guts, liver, heart and gizzard - before packaging for sale.

Dad comes up with the idea to roll a length of wire around as small pipe, nailing the spiral wire to a 2 x 4 nailed between two posts.  One leg of a live chicken is threaded into the wire..the chicken now hangs upside down.  Sister Millie is our master executioner...holding flopping chicken still, Mick inserts her Paring Knife (a sharp kitchen knife about 4 inches long) into the chicken's mouth, giving it a twist before moving on to the next sacrifice.  The flopping chicken bleeds out completely...and we don't have to chase the headless critter across the yard.

All goes well for a few months...until Dad comes down with a skin rash that does not go away...he is allergic to chickens...the chicken experiment is terminated. 

This gives him time to turn to fishing.  In 1955 salt water fishing is
unbelievable.  In addition to resident King Salmon and giant Lingcod, massive runs (migration) of fish pass through the waters of Puget Sound surrounding Whidbey Island.  Nearby Bush Point at the Southwest corner of Whidbey is a favorite fishing ground.  I join friends and relatives in 16-foot outboard motor driven rented boats at Bush Point Wharf...where it is common for everyone (up to 5 in a boat) to be fighting a salmon at the same time.

On any given day, it is common for a pod (family group) of Orca - a.k.a. KILLER WHALES - to pass through the millions of migrating fish...the Orca nearly brushing against our fishing boat.

...and all summer of 1955, Saturday Night Dances continue at the Bay View Community Center.  Aunt Virge often drags Joanie onto the island, where she  arranges for Joanie and I to somehow end up fishing, dining, or dancing.  Joan and I are both complacent about the goings-on.  We tolerate Virgie's manipulation, but there is simply no spark between us...not even holding hands.  What is obvious is that there is a mandated organized effort to bring Joanie and I together...and we are not biting.

Dad buys a Chris Craft boat in the summer of 1955.  Launching in the harbor of Langley, Washington, Dad pulls me over freezing cold (53 degree average water temperature) waters between Everett and Whidbey island, where I teach myself to water ski...brrrr...15 minutes in these waters is a near-death experience.

Chris Craft similar to Dad's.

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