Monday, December 13, 2010

This is a work in progress which will be amended and/or added to frequently. Check this Blog for changes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

NOTE:  Chapters V and VI are accessed by clicking the Older Posts button at the end of Chapter IV.

Hans William Vogel Vitae as of December 13, 2010

Hans William Vogel of North Tustin was born in Cologne, Germany on March 14, 1922. He was the only child of Elsie F. and J. Jean Vogel who emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1929 via the Panama Canal disembarking in San Pedro Harbor, California. He lived and attended public schools in Long Beach, graduating from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in February 1940.

On September 2, 1942 Hans married Barbara (Bobbie) Bogart, also of Long Beach. As of Thursday, May 20, 2010, they have three children, 17 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Hans entered into Army Service on October 16, 1942. After a brief period of orientation at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, he was transferred to the Infantry at Camp Roberts, California - first as a trainee (Private) and then as a Drill Instructor (Corporal.)

In late 1943 Hans was reassigned to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at the City College of New York (CCNY) in New York City, New York for in-depth studies in German language and culture, after which he received Interrogation and Counter-Intelligence training at the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) at Camp (now Fort) Ritchie Maryland.

In June 1944 Hans was shipped overseas as a Staff Sergeant, Military Intelligence to the Military Intelligence Pool in Broadway, England. After receiving additional training at the Order of Battle School in London, he was assigned to the Interrogation of Prisoners of War (IPW) Team 98 at Headquarters, G-2, 94th Infantry Division - a part of Patton's Third Army - as an Interrogation and Counter-Intelligence specialist.

For 'Actions Above and Beyond the Call of Duty' in February 1945 during combat at the Siegfried Line in Alsace-Lorraine, which involved going behind enemy lines accompaning patrols on several occasions and talking 82 German soldiers into surrendering, Hans received a Battlefield Commission, two Bronze Star Medals and the Combat Infantryman's Badge as a special award - his branch of service was Military Intelligence. Other awards included the World War II Victory Medal, American Theater Service Medal and the European African Middle Eastern Theater Medal. He participated in all five European Theater of Operations (ETO) campaigns - Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Central Europe and Rhineland. He was honorably separated from active duty in November 1945.

Hans served in the U.S. Army Reserve and the California State Military Reserve attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Judge Advocate General Corps. He retired from military service in May 1987.

After returning to Long Beach from active military service in Europe, Hans attended the University of Southern California and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from USC in 1947. He entered the USC graduate program and joined the German Department at USC as Instructor of German for two years from 1947 through 1949. Beginning in the Fall of 1949 he was Instructor of Scientific German at the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) for one year.

To earn extra money, Hans also translated Top Secret captured German Rocket Science documents for the Office of Naval Intelligence located on the USC campus. In 1947 he was interviewed and invited to become an agent for the newly-created Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - an offer he did not accept.

In 1948 he organized, recruited and coached USC's first men's volleyball team. In May 1949 Los Angeles hosted the United States Volleyball Association's (USVBA's) first ever National Men's Collegiate Volleyball Championship Tournament at the Naval Reserve Armory in Chavez Ravine (now the site of Dodger Stadium.)

USC won that tournament, placing five players on the first or second All American team. A USC team member, Richard Archer, was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. In May of the following year (1950) Hans took the USC team to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to make it back-to-back championships by successfully defending its title and placing four players on the first or second All American team. Again, the Most Valuable Player of the tournament was a USC team member, Robert Duron.

In 1948, Vogel - USC '47, Emil Breitkreutz - USC '06 (a 1904 Olympic track Bronze Medalist) and Dr. Leonard Stallcup - USC '28 (USC Welter-weight boxing champion) co-founded the Southern California Collegiate Volleyball Association which sponsored the first Southern California intercollegiate men's volleyball tournaments.

After leaving the education field in 1951, Hans spent the next 25 years as an entrepreneur in the construction industry, which he continued concurrently with a return to education in 1968. He served as an administrator with the former Tustin Union High School District (25% of Orange County.) When the high school district was restructured by state mandate into three unified school districts in 1973, he opted to join the Tustin Unified School District administration in various as-needed capacities, including handling employee relations and legal affairs until his retirement in 1984.

In 1971 he received a Master of Arts degree in European History from Chapman College (now University) in Orange, California by writing a Master's Thesis - An Inquiry into Violations of Dualan Treaty Rights in German Kamerun, 1884-1914 (Kamerun is German for Cameroon.) The majority of the research was performed in the U.C.L.A. Library using primary source material written in German.

In 1976 he received his Juris Doctor degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California.

From 1984 through 1990 Hans consulted in employee relations, labor contract negotiations and other matters with various school districts in Southern California, including the Tustin Unified School District. He also taught School Law for Public School Administrators (a California administrative credential requirement) at Pepperdine University, California Lutheran University and California State University in Fullerton.

In 1967 Hans was one of the five individuals elected to the founding Board of Trustees of the Saddleback Community College District, whose jurisdiction is the southern 48% of Orange County. In recent years it has been renamed the South Orange County Community College District. He was the founding Board's first president and held that position a total of four times during his nearly eight years in office. Hans resigned in 1974 after temporarily taking up residence outside his trustee area while building a new residence within his former trustee area, which he has occupied since 1976.

In the early 1970's Hans was appointed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors to a Blue-ribbon Commission on Voting Systems. The Commission visited various jurisdictions throughout the United States to study and evaluate the voting systems they were using. Based on their findings, the Commission made recommendations for a new voting system to the Board of Supervisors of Orange County.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the following definitions apply to the concept of making a journey:

1. journey: something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another

2. trek: to make one's way arduously

Thus, we can safely assert that a trek is in actuality an arduous journey - in our case - an arduous journey through time.

Few people are fortunate enough to be able to claim that their passage was not an arduous one - a trek. We envy those who can and pity them at the same time. They have missed the experience of being forged in the crucible of life and, as a result, most likely they have lost the opportunity and advantage of looking at life from a realist's point of view.

The makings of "An Immigrant's Trek" were bred and nurtured in a climate of stubborn self-assuredness, bordering on egocentricity, and tenacity - never let the incompetents of the world get the better of you. I didn't fully understand where and under which circumstances these traits had first really asserted themselves in my lifetime until my wife, Bobbie, and I decided to spend my first Christmas in Cologne, Germany since my childhood in 1928.

While on that visit I had daily discussions with my aunt Henni, my mother's sister. It was an opportunity to learn more about the first seven years of my life and nearly one year of schooling in Cologne, Germany. I discovered things about myself that had laid the foundation for and formed my attitude and behavior for the rest of my life.

Hans W. Vogel
North Tustin, California
May 2009
Chapter I
Germany Revisited

My name is Hans William Vogel (baptized Johann Wilhelm Vogel) and I was born in Cologne-Ehrenfeld, Germany on March 14, 1922.  The following is an autobiography of sorts encompassing things that I am able to recall many, many years after the fact.  They are 99 and 44/100 % accurate.

My parents and I left our home in Cologne, Germany in May 1929 with no intention of ever moving back; we set sail from the Port of Bremen (Bremerhaven) in Germany on May 18, 1929 through the Panama Canal arriving in San Pedro Harbor, California on June 19, 1929. No Ellis Island stopover for us - thank God! We had a cabin on a passenger cargo ship called the 'M. S. Havel.' The legal passenger limit for that class of vessel was 12 because it was first and foremost a freighter. I was the only child aboard and subsequently had the run of the ship.

The entire crew were my baby-sitters, who made sure that I didn't do anything too foolish or dangerous. On one occasion they allowed me to fish off the main cargo deck and I caught a really big fish. I was very proud of myself. Quite a few years later my parents finally told me the truth about that incident - what actually happened was that one of the crew on a lower deck had reached through a porthole and placed the fish on my hook. What a letdown!

In Germany I had only attended school for less than one year before leaving for the United States. My parents had pulled me out of the school in Cologne a bit earlier than was necessary and I often wondered why. My answer to that question came on our visit to Germany in 1998.

My wife, Bobbie, and I had accumulated over 100,000 frequent flyer miles with United Air Lines and studied the feasibility of using them to get us to Cologne in time to spend Christmas in 1998 - my first Christmas in Germany since 1928. We wanted to share it with a few of my closest relatives residing there - my mother's sister Henni; her daughter Anni and husband Hans; and, their daughter Iris and spouse Heinrich. Henni, Anni and I had met in 1945 in Cologne when I was returning home from Czechoslovakia on my way to Antwerp, Belgium for my trip home to Long Beach, California after having served one and one-half years overseas in Europe during World War II.

We had maintained a friendly and very close relationship ever since. Anni and Iris had visited us several times; and we had reciprocated. Typically German, they came for the California sunshine during summer in order to be able to show off a deep tan to friends in Cologne upon their return.

Bobbie and I were typical of those tourists who rarely visited the European continent in the winter. By planning the trip around United's blackout days - popular travel times bringing in big bucks to the airline - we managed to use our miles to book a stay of nearly two weeks which included the Christmas holidays.

My German family lived in a large multi-storied house in a suburb of Cologne just off the Rhine River. Anni and Hans had a full apartment on the top floor, Iris and Heinrich occupied the main level, my aunt Henni was quartered on the third level. Overnight visitors and the storage of surplus furniture were housed on the second floor. The basement consisted of Heinrich's construction company office, the beer cellar, recreation room, laundry, freezer storage niche and a branch office of the Cologne police department.

Aunt Henni was physically incapacitated and confined to her floor; she had to be carried up and down stairs by Iris's burly husband Heinrich. She did manage to get dressed and come and go to the bathroom by herself; and, in spite of being nearly blind, she watched TV most of the time. Breakfast and lunch were brought to her room, but every night she was carried downstairs to dine and commune with the entire family.

During our Christmas visit, I would go to her room nearly every day to have about an hour of conversation. Most of it would center on revisiting my long-forgotten childhood experiences in Germany during the first seven years of my life. My initial questions to her dealt with things I had wanted to confirm about my mother and father, such as where did they live, did they both work, what kind of work did they do and why did they want to leave Germany? Henni apparently was not really fond of my father, implying that her sister could have done better than marry the son of a rich family with servants who had been spoiled rotten.

I asked her such questions as what school I attended, in which church I was baptized and where my parents and I had lived. She was able to give us sufficient information to help us locate the church where I was sprinkled with holy water a couple of weeks after I was born in March 1922. With the approximate location of our residence, school and church in hand, we found all three. They were literally within a stone's throw of one another.

We went to the office of the St. Rochus Catholic Church nearby to see what, if any, records they might have of my baptism. Within five minutes, the lady in charge came back with a slip of paper showing my name, Johann Wilhelm Vogel, our residence address and the date of my baptism - now that was real German efficiency in action some 76 years after the event being researched. The building housing our apartment above a store had survived the bombings during World War II and looked much the same as it might have when we lived there. The school now housed a boy's reformatory, causing my cousin to conjecture that was what it might have been when I attended.

I always knew that my one year of schooling had not been a happy one, remembering that my teacher had taken an intense dislike to me. The situation was so bad that my parents pulled me out of school prior to the end of the academic year before we were scheduled to leave Germany to move to the United States. I asked my aunt if she knew why this teacher didn't like me.

She was surprised by the question because she had presumed that I knew the answer. With a knowing expression and twinkle in her eyes she told me that sometime during the school year I had stood up in class and announced that I already knew everything they were trying to teach me and asked whether I could go home now.

Mr. Rietz, my teacher, who was very straight-laced and looked it, did not take very kindly to cheeky remarks from a snot-nosed first-year student in a very strict Catholic school. I told my aunt that I had never heard that story, but that it explained a lot about myself in later years. She was interested to hear that I had a photograph of the teacher with the class. In it I am sitting in the rear of the classroom, far removed from the front and the teacher's podium.

Although my demeanor became much more diplomatic as I matured, inwardly, I had never really changed. To this day I haven't an ounce of tolerance for those who suffer from an inflated self-image as to their intellectual capacity, but who are in fact incompetent ignoramuses. Nothing is more irritating than trying to work or deal with a person with such a mindset. The very reason they are so ignorant is because they harbor a perverse notion that they are highly intelligent and extremely knowledgeable; they subsequently attempt to demean anyone who disagrees with their inane assertions.

Too often, these types are in positions of authority where they are able to demand that subordinates agree with them. Our college and university faculties are havens for many of these pseudo-intellectuals. The worst thing one can do is to coddle such persons by agreeing that they are able to achieve much more than that of which they are truly capable. It is a complete disservice to them to do so since they will remain frustrated and unhappy their entire lives. Ignorance is the biggest ill from which the world suffers today.

Aunt Henni was one of my mother's two younger sisters and as she grew older, she resembled my mother not only in looks, but in behavior as well. Their mottoes were "Don't tread on me, or you will regret it!" Their minds were as sharp as their tongues - their maiden names were Winkmann - and we called their unforgiving way a typical Winkmann trait. Once you crossed them, you were stricken off the list of friends or family it didn't matter which. My mother's other sister, Maria, was the fun-loving black sheep of the family and her daughter (she and I were born within one week of each other) inherited this propensity. They were both shunned by Henni and my mother.

My mother, the eldest, and Henni, the youngest were always very close, and remained so even after we had become Americans. Henni almost singlehandledly fought to support her family during World War II, taking in sewing and doing housecleaning to survive. It made her even tougher than her usual Winkmann nature demanded. Now as she sat in front of me, nearly blind, but still a spunky, spirited and unbent octogenarian, I was in awe, but not intimidated, because I too was a Winkmann.

I didn't remember too much about the first seven years of my life in Germany. This was probably due to the trauma of being uprooted and snatched from a familiar environment and suddenly thrust into a new and much different one without possessing the ability to communicate in my adopted country's language. All of my time and energy had to be spent on adapting to, being assimilated into my new surroundings and finding acceptance by my peers. I subconsciously shut the past out of mind.

One of the few things I did remember was that where there is now a very large public school across from our German apartment, there had been a very large hog and vegetable farm. The shrieks of pigs being slaughtered is not easy for a child to dismiss from his mind later in life. And, the experience of you and your five-year old friends finding small potatoes left over from the harvest, starting a small fire and throwing the precious find into it to be cooked and eaten is also one of those enjoyable moments in life one does not forget.

Then there were the stints in the hospital with diphtheria, having a shoe hook removed from my left eye which left it permanently scarred and impaired and having my tonsils and adenoids removed. I can still smell the ether that was used to put me under.

I can remember only one Christmas in our apartment above the store with the 'Tannenbaum' lit by candles and surrounded by fresh apples, oranges, nuts, cookies and marzipan candy. I was strapped in a sort of swing in a doorway supported by its frame. I believe I was recovering from the diphtheria I had suffered and was not allowed to go outside with my little friends. What a bummer!

Then there were the times my mother took me to the movies and shopping. In those days one could buy steaming wieners (hot dogs) in most of the department stores. What wondrous moments and places those were. It was all so new and magical to this young child.

My paternal grandfather had an upscale shoe store in Cologne. It had a marble entry which glistened magically from the lights at night, especially after a rain. I still get a twinge of joy when I am reminded of it. It was in that store that a rambunctious little Hans managed to get a shoe hook caught in his left eye permanently damaging it. Shoe hooks were used to lace up boots.

Mother and I used the streetcar for transportation into the main part of the City of Cologne. To this day it remains the quickest and most efficient way to get there from the suburbs. On one of those glorious excursions we were seated opposite a young man whose one arm had no hand, just a stub remained below the elbow. I pointed to him and asked my mother how that could be. She replied that he had sucked his thumb when he was young and never broke his habit until all that was left was a stub of an arm. I was still sucking my thumb at about age four. She told me that after that when she was watching me after I went to sleep, she witnessed my thumb moving towards my mouth, but, when it got almost into it, I slowly and jerkily pulled it back. Obviously, the lesson she had been trying to teach me on the streetcar did its job very well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chapter II
First U.S.A. Days

My mother's paternal uncle, Fred Winkmann, not only paid for our passenger passage to the United States, but also sponsored us; which meant he warranted we would not become wards of the state at taxpayers' expense. He and his wife had living quarters behind a souvenir shop they owned and operated on the Long Beach Pike, a wonderfully exciting amusement zone, which, sadly, was torn down some years ago and no longer exists. The shop was located directly opposite Looff's Merry-go-round on the other side of a concrete promenade which was as wide as a two-lane street and extended the entire length of the Pike.

Charles I. D. Looff, a German immigrant, was the foremost and a world-renowned merry-go-round designer and wood carver. When Looff arrived at Ellis Island from Germany in 1870, he was told he needed a middle initial for ID (identification) purposes; so, he chose I.D. Looff carved the horses for Coney Island's first merry-go-round in 1875. After moving to Long Beach from the eastern seaboard in 1910, he spent his final years living in an apartment above the merry-go-round on the Pike. He died there in 1918. Today genuine Looff wooden horses and other animals, which he had carved for merry-go-rounds all over the world, command as much $50,000 each - that is, if you can find one for sale.

I felt very privileged because the people that ran this popular attraction on the Pike allowed me to ride free during slow periods. I guess I served as a sort of shill when they needed visible passengers to attract customers. My parents had to drag me off the wooden horse I was riding to get me home. The highlight of a ride was snagging the gold ring.

My mother's uncle and his wife were childless; and, to the best of my knowledge, they were our only close relatives living in the United States. For a brief time after arriving in the U.S. we shared the living quarters behind the store with them; but, it wasn't long before a major difference of opinion arose between my mother, a strong-willed alpha female, and her American benefactors. Mother believed that her uncle and aunt were too controlling and trying to take advantage of her and my father by treating them more or less as indentured servants. As soon as they felt it was financially feasible, my parents moved away from the shop into a beach-front bungalow-apartment complex in the fall of 1929.

Our new dwelling unit was located at the north-west end of Long Beach beyond the Pike on the beachfront adjacent to a truly exclusive and beautiful resort called the Hotel Virginia. This showpiece boasted an abundance of luxurious amenities, including vast grassy expanses complete with lawn bowling, croquet, tennis courts and rose gardens. The interiors were opulent to a fault. Tragically, after the devastating Long Beach earthquake of 1933, the hotel was condemned and torn down; a truly lovely landmark was lost forever. It was never rebuilt. What a shame!

Since rents for properties on the beachfront rise during the summer months when tourists are willing to pay high weekly rates, we knew we would have to find a place to live where the rent was not dependent on the season of year. My parents found an apartment about a half a mile inland in a seedier, but much more reasonably-priced area located at the corner of Sixth and Daisy Streets in north-west Long Beach. It was laid out much like a multi-storied motel is today - three stories high with central hallways running the entire length of the building from which one entered apartments on either side.

Located diagonally across the street from the complex was the Edison Elementary School that I would soon be attending. When I did start school, I was placed into the First Grade; but, after one year, because I spoke very little English, I had to repeat First Grade. When I finished the Third Grade at Burbank Avenue School, we moved and I attended Atlantic (Now Stevenson) Elementary School. There, instead of progressing to the Fourth Grade, I was skipped into the Fifth Grade . I apparently still had an accent, though I didn't realize it at the time. When we were planning our 50th Long Beach Polytechnic High School reunion for 1990, I received a call from one of my former classmates in the Fifth Grade. After we talked for a few minutes, he commented that I had lost my German accent.

In modern parlance I can best be described as a Great Depression Era 'latchkey' child. Thinking back on the many opportunities that were available for me to get into serious trouble during those early years in Long Beach, it is nothing short of a miracle that I didn't succumb to at least one of them. To call us poor begs the obvious. Both of my parents had to work hard in order to bring in a half-way decent income. Most of time we lived in shabby apartments causing me to be squeamish about having friends visit.

I was only seven years old when we arrived in Long Beach, but it was love at first sight when I spotted the beach, ocean and waves. Apparently, lacking any fear of the water, I nearly drowned when a wave swamped me and started to tow me out to sea. I had rushed very bravely, but extremely foolishly, right into the ocean.

I must have been a slow learner as well, because that near-tragedy did not deter me one little bit from doing something very similar, but much more dangerous, that summer. One of Walt Disney's illustrators, Al Chin, supplemented his income by working as a lifeguard during the summer months. Part of his time was spent on the beach and the other part in the famous Long Beach Plunge, an enormous indoor pool. He more or less adopted this little German boy and allowed me to enter the Plunge free-of-charge when he was on duty.

On my very first visit I immediately and impulsively leaped into the deepest part of this huge pool right at the base of the 10 foot diving platform despite not knowing how to swim. Most of the bathers were at the shallower end of pool; apparently, nobody saw me jump or struggling to survive. Out of sheer desperation I managed to pull myself up and out by grabbing the lip of the overflow trough installed along the edge of the pool. I was one lucky little boy; and, in spite of being behind the learning curve based on bad experiences, I didn't test my good fortune a third time. I made sure that I learned to swim.

Many years later, when I was attending Long Beach Polytechnic High School (Poly High,) we lived on Linden Avenue only four city blocks away from this love of my life, the beach. Long Beach had built a one-mile-long oval-shaped automobile drive out into the ocean and back to shore, it was called the Rainbow Pier, popularly referred to as the Horseshoe Pier. It extended from the foot of Linden Avenue, outward into the water in an arc northwest then veered north and finally headed northeast to the base of Long Beach's main downtown street, Pine Avenue.

At the foot of Pine Avenue the Rainbow Pier ended merging with the older and more-conventional straight-out-into-the-ocean Pine Avenue Pier. During the very severe rainstorms and subsequent flooding in February 1938, I watched the old pier topple into the ocean from the pounding of groundswells (huge and very rough breakers.) Most of the bridges crossing the nearly-always-dry Los Angeles River also collapsed from the unusual rush of water which filled its bed with run-off carrying debris from the foothills and mountains.

The junction of these two piers also marked the beginning of the Pike to the north. About a quarter of a mile straight out into the Pacific at the end of the older Pine Avenue Pier was a large building housing a huge whale skeleton and a museum of sorts. The point where the two piers merged also sported an open-air platform where local knee-jerk philosophers could vent their spleen on any and all subjects. We called it the 'spit and argue club.'

Approximately one-half a mile separated parallel-running Linden and Pine Avenues. Cars could use these streets to enter and drive in one direction on the Rainbow Pier from Linden Avenue to Pine Avenue. While motoring on the pier one observed water on either side - the ocean on the outside and the Rainbow Lagoon full of stagnant water on the inside. The pier had street lights that reflected on the water at night making everything look very attractive. It was a popular romantic ride for lovers; stopping was not permitted, but some lovers couldn't resist the temptation. Sometimes brave souls dove into the ocean from the pedestrian walkway that extended for the entire length of the pier. I and my beach buddies frequently swam that mile-long stretch around it on the ocean side.

The inside of the pier was lined with huge granite boulders which had been trucked in and dumped into the water so as to form a dam from the ocean creating a still-water lagoon. This rock dam was about 15 feet wide and was filled to about three feet above water level along the inside length of the pier. People could walk on these rocks for the entire distance from Linden to Pine, or vice versa. At high tide and on very stormy days the ocean waves would crash under the pier splashing with great force across the rocks making them a dangerous places for a person to be sitting or standing. But, that didn't stop the more foolhardy, some of whom were injured and a few even lost their lives.

The ocean side was used by fishermen, who had to be very careful when they cast their lines on poles, making sure that cars or people were not passing behind them. They caught tom cod, corbina, spotfin and sometimes bass or halibut on the ocean side; the tom cod were usually too wormy to eat even during the Great Depression and were thrown back; and, in spite of the fact the lagoon was rather stagnant and didn't house many fish, some diehards fished in it off the rocks anyway just to pass the time. Some of the larger and flatter rocks made for great sunbathing. Occasionally, some of the more daring females of the populace, young and old alike, would lower the tops of their one-piece bathing suits and the more brazen even took it off entirely in order to give their bodies more exposure to the sun's rays and any surprised oglers' eyes.

I favored sunning myself on the sandy beach before, after and in between surfing, playing volleyball or handball; and, I preferred to fish in the surf very early in the morning, the art of which I had learned from an old local Scotsman. He lived in one of the apartments located on the promenade facing Linden Beach. He was a typical red-headed, ruddy-faced and tall hulk of a man - the kind only a fool would try to engage in a fight. He showed me how to make copper fishing leaders in five interlocking and freely-twisting sections. To these we attached three or four 8-inch long catgut leaders, each ending in a hook. On the end of the copper leader we attached a triangle-shaped lead sinker which he made in his own molds. For a few pennies one could buy very thin copper wire from one the many pawnshops that lined Locust Ave. one block east of Pine Ave. just north of Ocean Blvd.

Halfway between Pine and Linden Avenues, the Long Beach Auditorium jutted out into the Rainbow Lagoon from the wide concrete promenade which followed the shoreline south continuing from the end of the Pike promenade at Pine Avenue to the foot of Los Alamitos Blvd. for a distance of about a mile. This walkway stopped at the very exclusive Villa Riviera Apartment-Hotel which had its own private beach.

The auditorium, which had been built by President Roosevelt's Works Project Administration (WPA,) was later converted into what we currently know as the Long Beach Convention Center; later, the Rainbow Lagoon was filled in and built up to create the huge parking area that exists today.

At the foot of Linden Avenue to the south on the ocean side was a short stretch of beach which boasted a bodysurfer's dream-ride on a wave with a hump. As a wave came in contact with the curve of the Rainbow Pier, it developed a huge hump, which, as it moved away from the pier, nearly doubled the size of the wave. About a quarter of a mile out from shore we die-hard bodysurfers would tread water sometimes for as long as 20 minutes to catch just the right wave with its hump, yelling "water" when we spotted the one we liked.

We tried to pick a wave which began curling slowly at the top and then breaking gradually all the way into shore; it was like going down a smooth watery slide. Waves that broke all at once - cuppers - were to be avoided, since they could slam you to the bottom and cause severe injury. More than one inexperienced bodysurfer learned that lesson the hard way, some ending up permanently disabled from a broken neck or back. Most of the time we were able to ride a wave all the way into shore until we scraped our stomachs on the sand. It was a virtual paradise for bodysurfers.

The beach had another great asset - a volleyball court. That is where I learned to play the game. There was also a makeshift handball court between two buildings facing the promenade which separated the shops and dwellings from the sandy beach. The court was fashioned on the site of a building, which had been condemned and razed after the 1933 earthquake and not rebuilt. Buildings on each side were left standing. We used the brick wall from one of them as the front of the court, the one from the other building as the back and the concrete floor from the razed building to serve us as a playable handball court. Most of us kids were dirt poor; those three activities - bodysurfing, volleyball and handball - which were free-of-charge, used up our excess energy, kept us busy and probably helped a lot of us to stay out of serious trouble.

At the other end of the Rainbow Pier, at the foot of Pine Avenue on the lagoon side, there existed another volleyball court and another quality of play. It was the premier beach volleyball court of Long Beach. At Pine Avenue players had the luxury of using a rope for line markers and a water faucet with a hose to wet down and compact the sand court. The net was kept taut and measured with a pole to maintain its uniform eight-foot height; it was taken down each night and stored in a locked box to protect it. The ball was leather, not rubber like the one we used at Linden Beach. This was where the elite of Long Beach volleyball played primarily during the summer months. The quality of play was every bit the equivalent of that found at the better-known beach in Santa Monica. A lot of the Pine Avenue players were members of the Long Beach YMCA 'A' and 'AA' teams.

Bob Allen, my beach buddy, and I both attended Poly High School. We were considered a couple of the better volleyball players at Linden Beach. Increasingly often we wandered to Pine Avenue to play, eventually being accepted as regulars. As a result of that exposure, Bob, who was 18, and I, at 17, were given free memberships to the Long Beach YMCA to play on the Y's volleyball team. This was quite an honor since the next youngest player on the team was 25 years old - a really old man.

Over the years quite a number of the Long Beach YMCA volleyball team members were counted among the top players in tournaments sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and United States Volleyball Association (USVBA), helping their team to win championships at local, state and national levels.

At Poly Bob was a star high jumper on the track team. When he spiked a ball, he was able to leap very high into the air, arch his body like a spring, unwind and drive the ball with a great deal of force and at a high speed. Once, while we playing in a mixed men's and women's volleyball tournament - three women and three men on each side - he spiked the ball so hard it broke the wrist of a girl who tried to field it. He and I played extremely well together as a team, so we decided to enter a Southern California Doubles Championship tournament at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. We succeeded in placing third after being barely edged out by the Hazard brothers, also of Long Beach. Ours was such a hard-fought and fatiguing match that the Hazards had very little energy in reserve when they lost the title match to a team Bob and I could have defeated quite handily. In those days men's indoor doubles was played without any protective gear on a full-court hardwood floor. Cuts and bruises went with the territory.

In 1940, after graduating from high school, I was awarded, but did not accept, a $100.00 scholastic scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley. Instead, I took a job in Los Angeles and commuted from Long Beach six days a week for one year to Ninth and Boyle Streets at the spread-out, multi-storied Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse. It was located in a very tough and dangerous neighborhood. Zoot-suiters, the 1940s Mexican (Pachuco) gang members, lived in the area and regularly cruised the streets surrounding the warehouse. Knifings were a daily occurrence.

I was able to stay in shape working as a stock picker working on roller skates in this huge warehouse. During lunch breaks we would have skating races up and down the very narrow aisles of merchandise. Stock pickers worked on skates that had wide, tough bakelite-type rollers and pushed a wooden cart on wheels to gather and fill stock orders placed by Sears, Roebuck & Co. stores from all the western United States. When an order was complete, we would push it to an area where other workers packed it for shipping. Fork lifts indoors were not used much in those days, so the packed merchandise was placed on large dollies and physically pulled to elevators which took them down to the truck bays from which the orders would be shipped to their destinations.

As a result of working at Sears for that one year, I was able to earn and save enough money to pay for my tuition, books and housing at UC Berkeley for the school year beginning in August 1941. Between rowing on the freshman crew, working as a salesman in a Sears store in Oakland on week-ends to earn spending money and practicing volleyball with the highly-ranked San Francisco Embarcadero YMCA team, I managed to do a little studying and still enjoy a reasonably-good social life.

It was while we were studying for finals in our dorm on that 'day of infamy' December 7, 1941, that we were suddenly interrupted by a shocking radio announcement. Everyone listened very intently to the broadcast about a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. We immediately recognized this was a defining event - our lives would be changed from that moment on. Our hopes and aspirations were put on temporary or, perhaps, even on permanent hold.

I had often wondered what happened to some of my house-mates at Atherton Hall in Berkeley, especially Bill Rockwell. He was the originator and portrayer of 'Oski,' the cub bear mascot of U.C. Berkeley. I recall that he spend a considerable amount of time in the basement of our residence boiling the makings of his papier-maché masks of Oski. While researching material for my memoirs, I found the answer on the Internet. Unfortunately, he had passed away the year before. I had hoped to renew our acquaintanceship.

Most of us vacillated between the emotion-driven urge to sign up for military service immediately and the more rational approach of enrolling in one of the military programs at the university which would allow us to complete our coursework for a Bachelors degree. While the latter alternative would assure us that our education would not be interrupted, after graduation we would be commissioned and required to meet our obligation of serving in the military.

The fraternity I was pledging at the time had a number of alumni who had been called back to active duty and who held fairly high ranks in the reserve or national guard. They counseled their fraternity brothers and the pledges regarding some of their military options. They also used their influence to help them enroll in the various programs offered by the military services at the university. Unfortunately, because I had not completed at least one year of college training, the minimum required, because I had worked for that year after high school, I did not qualify for any of the programs. So, it was either enlist immediately or wait for the draft.

It was common knowledge that the government was going to lower the draft age from 21 to 18. I would turn 20 in March of 1942. After trying to enlist and being rejected by the Navy, Marine Corps and the Army Air Corps because my left eye had been damaged by a shoe hook while I was a boy in Germany, I decided to return home to Long Beach to enroll at the Long Beach Junior College (LBJC.) I would just study there until I found out what fate the draft board had in mind for me. When the law lowered the draft age as expected, I registered and much to my surprise, I was classified 1A (prime draft material) despite the bad eye. Obviously, the Army, wasn't nearly as fussy about whom it would take as were the other services. It became quite clear that it was just a matter of time before I would be called up to serve.

At LBJC, in the meantime, I began dating a very beautiful and highly-intelligent young lady whom I had known since Franklin Junior High School and Poly High, but had never gone out with - Barbara (Bobbie) Bogart. She had very recently broken up with a fellow I had known since the Fifth Grade. They had been going steady for over three years. Bobbie had been considered unavailable by many other fellows who also admired her. Ours turned into a whirlwind affair culminating later that year on September 2, 1942 in our marriage in Long Beach at a wedding chapel located near the corner of Ocean Blvd. and Linden Ave. The chapel no longer exists. Six weeks later on October 16, 1942 I was drafted into the Army and shipped to Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California.

Our marriage has endured despite some trials and tribulation. One caveat: don't ever let anyone tell you that the path to a lasting marriage is an easy or smooth one to follow. Extremely large doses of patience, understanding, and perseverance are mandatory; and, sometimes, in spite of all precautions, a union is doomed to failure.

The biggest challenge to our marriage came when I returned home after serving overseas for one and one-half years during World War II. Neither of us was the quite the same person that either of us had been when we married and thought we knew during our first 18 months of marriage. This was a problem faced by all returning military personnel who had been engaged or married before being shipped overseas.

Our love and respect for each other overcame the challenge of a period of adjustment. We succeeded in having a very close and loving relationship in our marriage and subsequently reached our 60th wedding anniversary on September 2, 2002. A few days later on the September 7 over 100 friends and relatives helped us to memorialize our achievement with a luncheon complete with a '40s band at the Tustin Ranch Golf Club in Tustin, California. As of this writing, we are approaching our 67th wedding anniversary.

Chapter III
Army: Camp Roberts

After a brief stint at Fort MacArthur, California for orientation, testing, classification and issuing of uniforms, I and 61 other draftees were shipped to Camp Roberts, California near Paso Robles to receive 13 weeks of basic training in the Infantry. I was assigned to a 37mm anti-tank battalion. The 37mm weapon was mounted on a two-wheeled carriage that had already been superseded by the more efficient and powerful 57mm weapon. For training purposes, however, the size of the barrel was less important than the mechanism for aiming and firing it. We did not fire 37mm shells. The barrel had an insert which reduced the size to that of a .22 rifle. The shells expended were the same .22 shells that a lot people had around the house to hunt rabbits and other small game. There were two small cranks which had to be operated at the same time by each hand to bring the barrel sight to its proper firing position at paper targets marked with the black outline of a tank. It was a little bit like patting your head with one hand and rubbing your stomach with the other. Despite the difficulty, I was one of the fortunate ones to master the art and was awarded the Sharpshooter medal.  Upon completion of the basic training course, instead of being sent overseas with the rest of the trainees in my class, I remained at Camp Roberts as part of the camp training cadre as a drill instructor (DI) with the rank of Corporal.

For additional training I was first shipped to the very back end of Camp Roberts in the hills - we called it 'Little Siberia' - for one month to receive non-commissioned and pre-officer training. When I had finished the course, the Lt. Col. in charge of the training school told me that he would like to have me serve as one of his drill instructors at the school. He suggested I discuss the transfer with the First Sergeant of my anti-tank battalion. I couldn't figure out why he couldn't just cut orders for me. But, when I returned to my battalion, I did broach the subject with my First Sergeant. It seems that the Pre-officer training school had no Table of Organization of its own. It was dependent on robbing other units of their slots in order fill its training cadre. My First Sergeant looked me straight in the eye, laughed out loud and told me to begin my duties as one of his taskmasters whose job it was to turn raw recruits into battle-ready soldiers.

After completing their thirteen-week of training, most of these soldiers were shipped overseas to the Pacific Theater of Operations to fight the Japanese where our casualty rate was extremely high. It seemed the Army couldn't train recruits fast enough to replenish the pool of replacements needed to carry on the war effort in two theaters of war.

The first group of raw conscripts consisted of what we referred to as our own version of Dead End Kids from Chicago. The term originated from a gang of five young actors and one ex-plumber's assistant, from New York who appeared in Sidney Kingsley's play Dead End in 1935 on Broadway. They were then imported en masse to Hollywood by William Wyler in 1937 when he filmed the play; it proved to be so popular that it remained as a more or less viable entity until the final film (as the Bowery Boys) in 1958.

Our "Dead End Kids" were a lot of fun to be around primarily because their Chicago accent was something most of us had only heard in the movies. They were terribly out of shape and making foot soldiers out of them was a daunting task. I can remember the field exercises when we took them out at a double-time trot into the barren hills behind Camp Roberts in close to 100 degree heat. I had to run back and forth from the head of my column of tired dog-faces to the rear to prod the slackers to step up the pace. It helped to remind them of the constant danger of rattlesnakes that thrived on those who strayed from the pack. Suddenly, they increased the pace looking around them very carefully to spot anything moving which wasn't human. Some had added to the already-heavy field packs they were sporting by adding large rocks they could use to kill snakes. Despite our reservations, the vast majority of them did 'graduate' and were sent to an uncertain fate overseas.

From the second class of 'Okies' and 'Arkies' I learned to appreciate country music. With the Dead End Kids the juke box in the Rec Hall (recreation room) played music that was really the popular genre for most of those in my age bracket - the Big Bands and singers like Frank Sinatra whom most of just referred to as Frankie. But that changed with the new arrivals from Oklahoma and Arkansas. Whoever was in charge of loading the juke box had obviously done his homework and had a sympathetic heart. Country music became the order of the day. After a grueling training day was over, these homesick kids needed a little bit of something to make them feel better. Lyrics like, 'here she comes rollin along, here she comes singin her song' among others are indelibly printed in my memory. The new GIs loved to sing and dance to these tunes while drinking their weak three-two beer. Three-two stood for 3.2% alcohol content beer which was the only beer available to soldiers in the rec halls and the PX (post exchange.) Only officers were presumed to be able to handle something stronger and were allowed a hard liquor ration they could purchase.

Our Okies and Arkies were in much better shape than the Dead End Kids when they arrived. They were for the most part good old country boys who had learned to shoot, hunt and live outdoors very early in life. But, there was one notable exception. He was a tall gangly, pimply-faced eighteen-year old kid who simply refused to bathe. The other recruits were constantly complaining about the way he smelled. I don't think he knew what toilet paper was for. The guys sleeping nearest his bed, moved theirs away at night and back in time for morning inspection. The day inevitably came that his fellow barracks dwellers had had enough. After evening mess, they carried him into the shower room, stripped him and scrubbed him with GI soap and bristly brushes. GI (government issue) soap is a very strong and ugly deep yellow-orange soap bar about the size of a brick which was used to scrub down the wood floors of the barracks every week with GI tough-bristled brushes. Word got out to the staff and shortly thereafter a commission of officers determined that he should discharged under Section 8 of Army Rules and Regulations. The term Section 8 refers to a discharge from the United States military for reason of being mentally unfit for service. I often wondered how anyone could stand his own stench for so long a time. Perhaps, he was the wiliest fox of all by finding a way to ride out the war safe and sound at home.

After helping to train and graduate two successive classes of recruits for 13 weeks each, I felt the need to move on. I submitted a request for assignment to the Infantry Officers' Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia to become a '90-Day wonder,' as Second Lieutenants created in an OCS were unaffectionately called by regular Army personnel. After 90 days of training at Benning, if one survived, a soldier was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. As a back-up, I filed an application for training at a college or university under the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) to further my premedical studies. The Colonel commanding my regiment at Camp Roberts sat on both the OCS and the ASTP interviewing boards that would have to act on my assignment requests. He indicated quite clearly to me that it was up to me which assignment I wanted - I could have either one. My wife and parents, naturally, opted for having a 'live Corporal' in the ASTP rather than an Infantry Lieutenant lying dead or wounded on some battlefield.