Dedicated to Alaskan Aviation Pioneers
Dottye Muhs - Assistant Editor
Welcome to the 21st century! Well, did you stay awake?
For New Year's Eve, Dottye and I decided to "paint the town!" Well, just a small spot - at the Sonoran Plaza - the local Community Recreation Center. It is like the old CAA/FAA clubs that were so ubiquitous during those good old times. Anyway, we elected to participate in the festivities - which included a buffet, live music and dancing, noise makers and party favors, a dance contest and midnight continental breakfast. Joining us was John & Helen Groeneveld and Dave & Mary Lou West. We donned our best evening wear and made a night of it. Dottye and I were fortunate to outlast many of the competitors in the dance contest and we won a trip to San Diego. My feet will never be the same!
Jim and Charlotte Titus are spending part of the winter in Sun City. They plan to return to their Spokane home in April.
Jim and "Jerry" Shave, former ATD Specialist, were vacationing in the Valley of the Sun. Jim is still working for the contractor at the Anchorage ARTCC and he says he will be retiring soon.
Dee Washburn visited with Ellen Parker and Mary Lou West. Ellen has a brand new Class C Motorhome and the three gals made a couple trips to various parts of Arizona. Now, I hear that Ellen is planning a drive to Alaska this summer.
Happy Birthday to Herb Stanley (82) years' young.
While skiing in Durango, CO, I took the time to call Rogene Thompson. We had a great visit and promised to get together on the next visit. All is well and Rogene is planning a trip to Italy. Maybe she will take the time to write OUR TIME a story of her trip.
It was our first ski trip in four years. The weather and snow were great and other than a few minor mishaps we had a great time on the slopes of Purgatory. And, we hear Carl Bailey and his kids were also planning a Colorado ski trip about the same time as ours. Carl said that after the skiing, he planned to have an operation on his ankles and that would mean the end of skiing. You may recall he had both knees replaced a few years back.
We made a trip over to Yuma for an overnight visit to see the sights. While there, we visited with Connie & Carl Jeglum. You may remember Connie as Connie Crouse when she worked with Nancy Stewart and Marge Tideman in the Personnel Office back in the early 70's.
OUR TIME Web Site
For quite some time we have wanted to go "on-line" with OUR
TIME but we did not have the resources, technical expertise or where-with-all to get a Web Site on the Internet up and running.
We will work very hard to make this an informative and fun place to visit for those of you who have access to the Internet. And, with the way technology is advancing,, it won't be long before Internet access is a reality for everyone - computer or no computer.
As you know, the FAA Alaskan family is quite an extended clan. With that in mind, we hope to link our site with other retiree Web Sites. To begin with, you can find a link to the Southern Region's Retiree Web Site. As we grow and expand, this will be a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and co-workers.
To begin with, the Web Site will have a copy of the latest OUR TIME newsletter, and it will have copies of every newsletter published since January 1993 - the first issue of my term as Editor. In addition to newsletters, we will publish stories, pictures and links to other Web Sites. Also, we have included a section for Obituaries.
E-mail addresses have been added for those of you who have requested to have their address made available. A simple request to your Editor is all that is required to have your E-mail address incorporated into the Directory.
We have also asked the Regional Administrator to give us access to the INTERCOM. We hope to have this informative publication on-line soon.
Now for the question many of you have asked, "Will this mean the end of the OUR TIME newsletter?" Let me put your fears to rest -NO! Dottye and I have no plans to discontinue publishing the newsletter so long as there is an interest in this all important voice. We have more than 700 readers - check the mailing list that we send out every year. Everyone on that list gets a copy of the OUR TIME. The Web Site is a tool for us to communicate more frequently and quicker for those retirees and employees who have Internet access.
It is always a sad time to report the death of one of our "family" members. It is especially grievous to hear about those we worked closely with over many years.
George Woodbury's Alaskan tenure is known to many of us. Few, I would suspect, recall George began his career as a Flight Service Specialist. I first knew him when he was at Tanana and I was at Galena. Our paths crossed again when I was an FSS specialist in the Cold Bay IFSS and George was a traveling relief FSS specialist.
I didn't know Fred McGuire well. When I reported to my first duty station - Galena - in 1958, I was Fred's replacement - the new kid on the block fresh out of FSS school in Merrill Field. Fred had transferred to the Fairbanks CS/T and remained in Fairbanks until his retirement.
Bud Seltenreich was an aviation icon in Alaska. I got to work with Bud on several projects and from these associations, my understanding of the FAA's role in safety and standards was significantly increased.
As we put this newsletter together, we hear about the severe winter conditions Alaska is experiencing this year. Record snowfalls, 100 mph winds, numerous avalanches - blocking highways for days on end, and unseasonable cold temperatures followed by unseasonable warm temperatures are creating havoc for our Alaskan buddies.
Our latest African adventure was greatly enhanced by having our good friends, Gary and Suzy McWilliams, along. They had seen the pictures and listened to the stories Gail and I told about our 1996 trip and decided they would like to go on our next one. This would be a "once in a lifetime" experience for them. Our trip began in Botswana hunting and game viewing with "Kyriacou's Big Game Safaris." Then we went to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and ended the trip in Capetown, South Africa. While in Botswana we were guided by professional hunter (PH) Clive Eaton. Our group had two vehicles, each with driver and guide. Gary and I were in one vehicle with Clive and Gail and Suzy were in the other vehicle guided by Phodiso Khwuvaku, a River Bushman and licensed guide. After the safari, we were on our own for the Zimbabwe and South Africa portions of the trip.
We drove from Niceville to Tampa on August 31, and bright and early on September 1, 1998, we began the long journey to Johannesburg, South Africa (Jo'burg). The first leg took us from Tampa to Miami where we boarded a nonstop flight to Cape Town, South Africa. This flight takes between thirteen and fourteen hours. The trip is on South African Airways (SAA) and is quite comfortable even in economy class. SAA is a great airline with wonderful service, which makes the trip bearable, but just barely. After a short layover the flight continued on to Jo'burg where we disembarked, cleared customs and transferred to a hotel for the evening. Arrival time in Jo'burg is late afternoon so we had just enough time to eat dinner and clean up before bed.
The next morning (it's Sept 3 now) we ate a leisurely breakfast and flew to Maun, Botswana aboard an Air Botswana ATR propjet. We arrived in Maun around noon and were greeted by Mary Lou Kyriacou and Clive. After clearing customs, we took the final flight to our safari camp. The four of us, Clive and all our luggage squeezed into two Cessna 206 Stationairs. We met our pilots, one of whom is from Perth, Australia, and has a pink airplane. The ladies piled into the "pink plane with the pilot from Perth" and Gary, Clive and I jumped into the other for the 45 minute flight. Later in the trip we chartered the same two planes for a 90 minute flight. I mention the charter flights now to point out that we had a total of four and a half hours of Cessna 206 charter time for a measly $275! Lord only knows what this would cost in Alaska! At the airstrip we were met by Charles (Bushman (San), a tracker who has hunted with Clive for eighteen years) and Jacobus ("Yakoo") Visser. After a pleasant forty-minute drive through the bush we finally arrived at our camp. We spent the rest of the afternoon sighting in guns, relaxing and enjoying some good Cape wine. For Gail and me, the night was pleasant and excitingly restless as we reacquainted ourselves with the night sounds of the Okavango Delta.
Day one of our safari began with the verbal "knock knock" at our tent door by one of the camp staff serving us hot tea and coffee. We had been awakened a few minutes earlier by the chorus of bird chatter around camp. The numbers and variety of birds in the Okavango are a wonder. And at this time of day, they are all exercising their vocal chords. For me, a definite morning person, this is one of the best parts of the day.
Everyone congregates at the campfire before breakfast, which consists of the usual bacon, eggs, sausage etc. as well as grilled tomatoes, baked beans, oatmeal, toast made from freshly baked bread and "mealies-mealies" (African Grits). I got hooked on the toast with grilled tomatoes and a side or two of oatmeal. However, I was always starving by the time we had lunch. Clive, noticing a lull in my energy level, responded by bringing a couple of hard-boiled eggs along for me to snack on about midmorning. They kept me going quite well.
Gary and I rode with Clive and Yakoo each day, while Gail and Suzy rode with Phodiso and Charles. We usually went in different directions so that we would not interfere with each other. We had exclusive use of the hunting concession, which is 10,000 square kilometers. We all hunted - the gals with cameras and binoculars and the guys with cameras, binoculars and guns. After about an hour of driving through herds of impala, tsessebe, lechwe and the occasional elephant, Gary suddenly turned to me and said, "I can see where this could become addictive." Within a couple of days Gary was planning to bring his son Dan on the next safari, now planned for September of 2001 - so much for the "once in lifetime" trip. About an hour out of camp Gary's shooting prowess was tested when Clive asked him to shoot the head off a spur-winged goose. It was sort of a no-lose situation for Gary since no one could reasonably expect him to be successful. The distance was long and the target small and moving from side to side a little. Guess what? Dead goose. David, the camp cook extrodinaire, made a wonderful stew with it.
About eleven o'clock we spotted a large herd of red lechwe in an open marsh area of maybe one hundred acres. Clive was able to find a really large old male and sent Yakoo and Gary on the stalk. Gary made a nice shot (he made lots of nice shots on this trip) at around one hundred fifty yards. Naturally, the lechwe dropped in the middle of the marsh, so Gary, Yakoo, and two of the bushmen trackers waded out and dragged the animal back to a dry area. After the usual round of photos, we backed off about twenty yards and watched and photographed the buzzards and maribou storks as they descended on the gut-pile. It was interesting to watch them as they circled and then peeled-off one at a time and dove onto the remains of the lechwe. We have watched this dozens of times in television documentaries, but it is really special to see it for real and without commercials.
More game scouting followed lunch and a short rest. We had stopped to watch a herd of approximately 160 (Clive's estimate) zebras when Charles called on the radio to tell Clive he had seen a really large impala. We drove several miles to the area and met the other vehicle. Charles had an idea where the impala had gone so he, Clive and I started stalking. After several minutes, we spotted the herd and continued to stalk them, but they kept moving. After a mile or so it was obvious that we could not get any closer. Clive said the impala was so exceptional that I should try for him anyway. I found the best rest I could and squeezed off a shot. There was little response from the herd. The distance - 350 plus yards was so great that I don't think they realized they were being shot at. Unfortunately, my gun jammed after the shot--the bolt wouldn't open. Clive and Charles finally got it open and it was obvious that there had been excessive chamber pressure. I was afraid to shoot the gun again until we had time to at least think things over, so Charles ran back to the vehicle to get Gary's rifle. By the time Charles returned, the impalas were really a long way off. We got back some of the distance and tried a couple of other shots, but to no avail. Clive watched my last shot with binoculars and said the shot missed hitting the impala in the chest by two inches. I had been aiming above the top of his horns so the bullet had dropped a long way.
I think Clive and Charles may have been a little disappointed, but I was not. We had worked hard and lost, but it was great hunting. Later that night I told Clive that I wanted that impala or no impala at all. He agreed and I think he was pleased with my decision.
On our way back to camp we stopped at the edge of a swamp and shot sand grouse. It was really tough shooting. These were the banded variety that water in the evening. They fly very fast in groups that act like one bird zigging and zagging. The difficulty is trying to pick out one bird to shoot. As soon as you get zeroed in on one, another flies through your line of sight and really screws up the fluidity of the swing. Anyone who has done much bird shooting has experienced this, but not to this extreme.
After returning to camp, we showered and met back at the campfire for the social hour. When you book a safari with Kyriacou's Big Game Safaris, your group usually has exclusive use of the camp, so the social hour consisted of Clive, Yakoo and the four of us. We wanted Phodiso and Charles to join us, but they seemed to prefer to socialize with other staff members. Also, Charles had his 8-year-old daughter with him and needed to spend time with her. She had been visiting some family member in the Okavango and was supposed to fly back to Maun to meet her mother but when they put her in the plane and shut the door, she went ballistic. There was no way she was going to fly! She stayed in camp until we all left and drove to Clive's ranch in the Kalahari where Charles and his family live.
One of the treats we have come to really look forward to each evening is the game bird hors d'oeuvres consisting of Dove or Sand Grouse. The bacon-wrapped breasts are grilled over an open fire. We give the bacon away, but they are still delicious! Following hors d'oeuvres, we have a candlelight meal of soup, fresh game meat, vegetables, and dessert. Later we lie in bed and listen to three different prides of lions fighting over a kill, and the continuous serenade from the hippos and elephants. Clive said that more than one thousand elephants water each night in the marsh a 1/2 mile from our camp. I am sure he was right because we saw so many elephants each day.
Our second day began just like the first. After breakfast we loaded up and headed for a marsh where the elephants water at night to shoot some Burchell's sand grouse. Gary, Clive and Charles off loaded on one side of the marsh while Yakoo and I headed for the other side, which was about a quarter of a mile away. As we approached a small channel, (made by hippos traveling to and from their nightly feeding) we saw several large crocodiles slide from the bank into the water. Yakoo decided to cross the channel at this point and nearly drowned out the engine in deep water. We actually had water in the cab of his Toyota truck. I am not sure what we would have done if the engine had died. I am also not sure what happened to the crocs because we never saw them again. Once across the channel we had a lovely shoot. The Burchell's sand grouse are not as challenging for the wingshooter as the banded variety.
After the sand grouse shoot, we continued on around the marsh to pick up Clive and Gary. About half way around we saw a large bull elephant leaving one of the fingers of the marsh. Charles said his ivory would go sixty-three pounds per side, not sixty - not sixty-five - but, sixty-three pounds. I asked him jokingly if he thought it might be closer to sixty-three and a half. Without cracking a smile he flatly said it was sixty-three.
Early in the afternoon we rounded a corner and spotted about fifty guinea fowl running into a wooded area in the middle of several acres of grassland. Clive decided we should shoot some for a meal so we dropped off two Bushman trackers with instructions to give us a few minutes to get around to the other side of the tree island. Then they were to run into the trees and make a lot of noise so the guinea fowl would fly out of the woods over our heads. After driving half a mile, we spotted several vultures in a dead tree at the edge of the woods, Clive told us to sit down and hold on as he shouted instructions to the driver. Off we went back toward the two trackers we had just dropped off. As we rounded the trees, we couldn't see them, but after some shouting and horn honking they finally stood up. They had been squatting down in the grass smoking cigarettes. Clive was quite relieved because when we spotted the vultures, he spotted a lion pride on a recent kill. That's what the vultures were waiting for. If our trackers had run in those woods making a lot of noise to scare the guinea fowl, they would have ended up the most recent kill.
When we returned to the kill site, most of the lions ran off. There were nineteen in all. As the big male led the others away, we were able to get some great photos. A few lions stayed in the woods, including a female with three cubs. Eventually, the cubs ran off and the mother tried to call them back, but they ignored her. She was quite upset and Clive was afraid she would charge so we left. In fact she later charged Gail and Suzy's vehicle. (We called them on the radio so they came to see the lions.) Clive was sure the lions would stay on the kill because it was fresh. Our hunting area had too many lions and elephants. Botswana just reopened elephant hunting after eighteen years because the elephant population is too large. We saw several areas that looked like a war zone because of elephant damage. They are pulling grass and small shrubs up by the roots, killing them. Biologists are concerned that much of the damage being realized is caused by the excess population is permanent. Over population by any species is destructive, especially humans.
On the way back to camp, we looked for the big impala we stalked the first day. He eluded us.
We had not seen much buffalo sign and Clive was getting a little concerned. The buffalo were staying south of our area in the Moremi Game Reserve. Since we only had a few days left before going to his ranch, he decided to hunt the Moremi boundary area and stay there for lunch rather than waste time returning to camp.
After the usual wonderful breakfast we headed south toward Moremi. As we approached the airstrip, Gary spotted three lions (one large male and two females) right in the middle of the landing area. They seemed to be looking at something on the other side of the strip. Suddenly the big male started running (they can really cover the ground) but we could not see what he was after. We were paralleling his path, and as we got closer to the object of his attention we could see a large animal carcass covered with vultures and two hyenas. They all left before the big lion got very close! It was pretty exciting to watch him claim, or reclaim the kill. Usually the females do the hunting, but I guess the males are responsible for holding on to the quarry afterward. It is interesting to see the daily workings of an ecosystem, which still has predators - the way it is supposed to be. In North America we have killed off most of the predators to make room for our crops, cattle and people.
After lunch and a short rest in the shade of a large tree, we resumed the hunt. Lunch was quite a spread with meat, vegetables and cold drinks. Clive even had a little portable picnic table in his vehicle. Early that afternoon Gary and Yakoo successfully stalked a very nice impala. It had unique horns with a small spiral similar to a kudu. True-to-form, Gary made an exceptional shot.
On the way back we looked for my impala, again with no luck. I did get to make one shot though. Clive spotted another spur-winged goose and challenged me to shoot it after reminding me how easy it was for Gary two days earlier. Similarly, the bird was about 100-125 yards away. Gary had shot the head off his, but I didn't feel that confident so aimed for the lower part of the neck where it attaches to the body. Luck was with me and I clipped the bird's neck, killing it instantly. I was shooting Gary's 270, which has been shortened to fit Gary, and I got nudged on the bridge of my nose by the scope. It didn't hurt but sure did bleed a lot. Probably all that aspirin I take.
The morning was much the same as yesterday - looking for buffalo. We met the gals for lunch at a previously determined rendezvous point. It was quite warm so we lay around in the shade for an hour or so until Clive spotted a large warthog feeding about half a mile away. Yakoo and I began a stalk across a large grassy plain, always keeping an anthill between the unsuspecting warthog and us. After we had gone about half way, I caught a glimpse of movement to my left. I was surprised to find a large male cheetah paralleling us at about seventy feet. When we stopped to watch him, he made off for the nearest cover. Cheetahs, the Olympic sprinters of the animal world, are sleek and beautiful and don't seem to fear man very much. We continued our stalk until we ran out of termite mounds to hide behind. Cautiously we peered around the last mound and saw that the warthog was a female. The stalk had been exciting and full of anticipation and even though it did not culminate in a kill or even a shot, it was the kind of stalk that makes the hunt the joy that it is.
The afternoon went like the morning more buffalo hunting. On our return to camp, we took the usual detour to look for the impala of my dreams. Today was our lucky day. Clive and I spotted him at the same time about three hundred yards away. He was in a herd of about twenty and we were unable to get a clear shot. We waited for the herd to walk behind some cover and then began to angle our way through the woods to intercept them. After a few hundred yards we again found them and I was able to get a clear shot. I was still using Gary's gun and it hit my nose again, causing me to lose sight of the impala. Clive began to run and I followed, thinking I had missed and that we were trying to get close enough for another shot. But we soon found the impala dead under a mopane tree. I was really excited. To me this epitomized what sport hunting should be. We had not just gone out and shot an animal; we had found the one we wanted and stayed after him for three days before killing him. Clive said that it was as good an impala as you get in the Okavango. It had been a special day, but every day in the Okavango is special.
That night we feasted on my spur-winged goose from the previous day. It had been prepared in a special Bushman method called "setswah" (I'm not sure of the spelling, but it is phonetically correct.) The whole carcass is put in a pot and covered with water, brought to a boil and when the meat starts to fall off the bone, the bones, skin, etc. are removed until all that remains is shredded meat. Then the liquid is boiled off. Finally the temperature is raised and the meat is continuously stirred until lightly browned, and ready to serve. No seasoning is used and it is wonderful. Yakoo said that they fix all kinds of game meat this way and that it is always delicious. Cape buffalo is his favorite. I tried this method on domestic turkey and it was very good, but next time I will let the mixture cool before all the liquid is gone to allow the fat to solidify and be removed. Game meat has hardly any fat so this step isn't needed. After you remove the fat, just boil the mixture again and continue the process. You won't be disappointed.
This was the hardest day. Clive was worried about finding buffalo in our hunting area. They were now on the Khwai village property south of our concession. We didn't go back to camp, but met the gals for lunch. After lunch we went fishing, and Gail, Yakoo and Gary caught some Talapia. Gail caught four, Yakoo three, and Gary caught one. Suzy and I caught none, but we did eat our share of the firm white fish.
Later in the afternoon we were all hot and dusty when we crossed a small clear lake about knees deep. Clive said something to the driver and bushmen trackers in their language. Suddenly, the vehicle stopped and clothes starting flying (the girls had gone their separate way). We were going for a swim (more like a wade) to cool off. Those bushmen, there were three of them, one was more than fifty years old, looked like gazelles. I bet not one of them had more than 5% body fat. They were pretty much all muscle and in unbelievable condition. No matter where we were, when we saw overweight, out-of-shape Caucasians they would turn out to be US citizens. The "ugly American" has a totally different meaning than in years past.
We managed to shoot a few guinea fowl on the way back to camp. Actually Gary and Clive shot them. We found a field full of feeding birds and the only way to get close enough to shoot was to race toward them in the truck until they flew, then slam on the brakes and shoot the birds before they got too far away. I was not to keen on this idea for several reasons, but mainly because I was afraid I would become the hood ornament of the truck if I were standing when they slammed on the brakes. Clive used my gun and had a great time. He usually doesn't get to shoot when with clients. Gary and I might be the only clients who treat him like a hunting partner instead of hired help.
This was a non-hunting day, set aside especially for photography. First we took motor boats down one of the creeks into the permanent swamp, that part of the Okavango which stays wet throughout the year. It was quite a long trip and took us onto the Moremi Game Reserve. We saw several other boats with people from Moremi camps out touring the swamp and viewing the nesting storks. The swamp is mostly papyrus plant well over ten feet tall, thick enough to hide elephants. We heard the crashing noises they made as they ran from the boat, but we only saw one.
For lunch we stopped at the edge of the river and ate the rest of the spur-winged goose--just as good in cold sandwiches as it was when it was hot.
We started back right after lunch before it got too hot. On the way back we stopped at a submerged sand bar and took another cool-off swim. Since Gail and Suzy were with us, the Bushman kept their shorts on. It was quite refreshing and Clive assured us that crocodiles were no problem. We returned to Kwaro (Kyriacou's photo camp) for an afternoon snack and makoro trip. Traditionally, makoros were canoes made of hollowed out tree trunks, but ours was fiberglass. Propulsion is by a single person using a pole. They used to be the primary means of transportation in the swamp. Each canoe holds up to three people and the poler. Gary, Suzy and Yakoo got into one and Gail and I got into the other. The polers spoke good English and told us a lot about the natural history of the permanent swamp. (The permanent swamp is the part that never goes dry. A large portion of the Okavango dries up in the winter.) We saw several hippos, lots of birds and flowers. It was a lot of fun and gave us a nice break from the usual daily routine.
We left camp earlier than usual in hopes of finding buffalo near the border of the Khwai area. When we arrived, we discovered that the buffalo, a herd of about 700, had watered in our concession and returned to "greener" grass on the village property. We spent the rest of the morning looking for bachelor bulls on the concession. Luck was not with us, but we saw a large bachelor bull elephant and got some very nice photographs at close range.
After lunch, Clive and Yakoo went scouting and left Gary and me resting in the shade. They spent about four hours poking around and finally found the buffalo. Clive called our driver, Mateti, on the radio and told him where to meet. About four o'clock we met Clive and Yakoo who told us that the buffalo had split in two groups. One group, about two hundred, was feeding in the trees about a quarter mile from us. We left the vehicles and began the long hot stalk. It took us about fifteen minutes to get in position in front of the grazing herd. This really worked out well because by the time we were in position, I had calmed down to the point that I could no longer feel my heart beating in my throat. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I was calm, just calmer. Everything is relative. After all, this was exactly what I had come to Africa for, to hunt Cape Buffalo.
We sat in mopane scrub and waited. For a while we heard buffalo feeding all around us, but did not see one. The first bull we saw was about twenty yards away. His legs were visible, but we couldn't get a good look at his horns, which were only visible when he lowered his head to crop more grass. He faced us and when he lowered his head I was able to set the cross-hairs smack in the middle of his boss (the enlarged portion of horns where they come together.) I couldn't believe that we were letting him get so close. Clive was sitting behind me when he whispered that this was not the buffalo we wanted. Slowly we retreated and began working our way into position on the other side of the herd. Suddenly, they caught our scent and stampeded. The ground shook all around us and I could feel my heart beating in my throat again. Clive started running through the dust after the herd. I had a difficult time keeping up because there were a lot of limbs and other debris on the ground that had to be avoided. Normally I kept my eyes straight-ahead, watching Clive, and jumped over limbs etc. that showed up in my lower peripheral vision. Unfortunately, that day I was wearing my bifocals, which blurred everything at ground level. (This is the same problem people have with bifocals when going down stairs.) Anyway, I was forced to look down to see the ground obstacles and it slowed me down.
By the time I caught up (only a few seconds actually) Clive had found the bull he wanted me to shoot. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by a lot of other buffalo. Obviously, it is not a good idea to shoot at an animal in a crowd. Your bullet could pass completely through and wound a second or third animal, which would be unacceptable. It just wasn't possible to get a good clean shot before the animals stampeded again.
This sequence of events repeated at least two more times until the herd was near the boundary with Khwai Village property again. Clive pointed out the bull and said that this would be our last chance. The animals just wouldn't co-operate though and other buffalo again surrounded him. Yakoo shouted to me that there was another bull to our right. He was not as good, but he was alone, and as Clive had said, this was our last chance. Being out of breath from running, my first shot creased the neck of the bull as he stood facing us. It only seemed to confuse him and he spun around a couple of times trying to decide which way to run. Finally he stopped broad side and I fired again. There was no response from the bull. After what seemed forever, he took off running for the nearest cover, about thirty yards away.
Although Clive and I could not see the animal, we could certainly hear him bellowing and crashing around. Then Yakoo saw the bull lie down. Clive gave his rifle to Yakoo and told him to let me have the first shot, but to back me up. I removed the scope from my rifle and we walked around the trees where we had last seen the bull. We finally found a way to get through the brush and started in. After twenty or thirty feet we spotted the bull. He was dead. Although I didn't know it at the time, My second shot had been perfect having passed through both lungs. Cape buffalo hunting is probably the most exciting thing I have ever done. It is a real adrenaline rush!
Clive got on the radio and called in the help. Within ten minutes we were knees deep in Bushman butchering the animal. They didn't waste anything. What is not eaten fresh is dried into a jerky called biltong, which is used like money as part of the compensation for the staff.
It was later than usual when we got back to camp. I was really tired from all the excitement. Clive and Yakoo really looked tired too. They had a better excuse though?They had been walking since lunch looking for the buffalo herd. They must have covered several miles in the hottest part of the day. I owe all of the success of this hunt to them.
After breakfast Gary and I walked down to the Bushman encampment to look at my buffalo. The pieces of carcass were still cooling out before the final butchering. While we were there the old skinner cut out my bullet. It had gone all the way through the animal and lodged between the ribs and hide. The bullet was still in one piece and had lost only about twenty percent of its original weight. I was pleased with the performance of the 350 grain Barnes X bullet. One shot was all that was needed, which is unusual on Cape buffalo.
We left camp early for our drive to Clive's ranch in the Kalahari near the town of Ghanzi. Gary and Gail rode in one vehicle and Suzy and I rode in the other with Charles and his little girl. It was pretty chilly at first, but we really enjoyed the ride to Maun. It took about six hours and went through several little bush communities of interest. We also saw a lot of wildlife.
We met Linda, Clive's wife, in Maun and had lunch at the Duck Inn. The Duck Inn is a famous outdoor restaurant that has been there for many years. Capstick wrote about it in some of his books. After lunch we moved from the top of the safari vehicles to Linda's new Toyota Landcruiser. It is a little uncomfortable to ride atop a vehicle with no windshield at speeds above about twenty miles per hour, so we were happy to be inside for the trip to Clive and Linda's farm near Ghanzi.
The farm (we would call it a ranch because it is primarily for cattle) is in the heart of the Kalahari Desert near Ghanzi, Botswana. The ranch was originally given to Clive's maternal grandfather through some sort of land grant from the Cecil Rhodes government. Clive's father has owned the ranch since the 1950's and has seen it grow to one hundred thousand hectares (a hectare is approximately two and one half acres). About eighteen years ago they put a game fence around a twenty thousand-hectare block , removed the cattle from it and began restocking with indigenous species such as gemsbok, eland and kudu to name a few. The animals propagated naturally for several generations before hunting started. Clive has established a hunting camp within that block with all the comforts of home. It is a very nice setting and camp, but I enjoyed the Okavango and it's variety of animals more. We never heard lions roaring or elephants trumpeting at night. However, if I were interested in a large kudu, I would go to Clive's. We shared our first evening with Clive and Linda's 'family. I really enjoyed conversation with Dick Eaton (Clive's father.) He told me about his early days on the ranch and showed me how to find true south using the stars of the Southern Cross. Our first meal was kudu steak, baked chicken, fresh cauliflower, green beans, carrots and rice. Dessert was the best I have ever eaten. They called it pineapple pudding. I can't really describe it except to say that it was very creamy with cake like topping. I am sure it is still clinging to my arteries.
Days 9 and 10
We spent the next two days hunting. Early in the day I made a bad shot on a gemsbok and wounded him. Yakoo, Charles and Xini (pronounced Connie) spent several hours tracking it to no avail. (When I saw Clive in January at the SCI convention, he said they looked for buzzards for several days but never saw any, a good indication that the wounded gemsbok recovered.) Later that day I took a nice gemsbok and had an opportunity for a very large eland. There was never a clear shot on the Eland so it will have to wait till next time. [Gail describes eland as great big Brahma cattle! A good description].
Day 11 thru 15
We had a lazy morning. After breakfast we went to Clive and Linda's home. Linda sells artifacts and curios for the Bushman (San) villagers who live on their ranch and we were able to purchase some very nice items from her. I was able to get a Bushman hunting set that consists of a bow, quiver and arrows, digging stick, spear and fire making materials all contained in a leather carrying pouch slung over the shoulder. We also bought several necklaces and other small gifts from her.
Remember "Timon" from the movie "Lion King"? He was the little meercat who was one of the main characters. The Eaton's have a pet meercat who was really cute and pretty well ruled the roost. Even their big Labrador Retriever stayed out of the meercat's way! It was very playful and Gail and Suzy enjoyed playing with it.
Later in the morning two Cessna 206s picked us up at the Eaton Ranch airfield for the flight back to Maun. Mark and Mary Lou were our hosts in Maun for the evening and the next day Mary Lou drove us to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Mary Lou goes to Bulawayo periodically to shop and was happy for an excuse to make the trip. Nevertheless, we bought her gas and paid for her lodging in Bulawayo. We arrived at McAllister's Lodge after dinner and were happy to be done with riding in the Land Rover (I am not impressed with Land Rovers.) The accommodations were very nice although a little pricey ($100 US per night per person.) Yvette McAllister is a gourmet cook and fixed wonderful meals for us, which were included in the price. We spent the next four days relaxing, shopping and sight seeing around Bulawayo. The exchange rate was changing hourly (in our favor) to the point that it was a little embarrassing. I purchased a carved Cape buffalo that I have seen go for up to $1000 in the US for $176. By the time my credit card bill had cleared (about a month later) the amount had shrunk to $115. We bought nice cotton t-shirts for $2 and necklaces of carved wooden animals for $1.50. The bargains were so amazing that even Gail (a confirmed non-shopper) went on a shopping frenzy. There is also quite a black market for US dollars. Street prices are as much as 25% higher than the bank rate of exchange. This is because the government of Zimbabwe does not allow its money to be taken from the country. Apparently much of the white population would like to leave with their wealth because the government is confiscating property owned by some of its white citizens who hold most of the wealth. One way to get wealth out of the country is with foreign currency on which there is no restriction, (money laundering) and take it out of the country.
We wanted to see rhinoceroses in the wild on this trip, but there are none in the Okavango. We had our chance in Zimbabwe which has populations of both species (black and white) in the Matopos National Park. Visitors to the park must stay on the road system, but licensed professional hunters may take clients off the roads. Since there is no hunting allowed in the park no one is allowed to carry firearms, not even for protection. People found with firearms are considered to be poachers and can and are shot on sight!
We were able to find a PH who was between hunts and experienced with rhino. Steve picked us up at McAllister's and we were off for a tour of Matopos Park. Matopos is considered to be a "Holy Land" to the indigenous people of Zimbabwe. Cecil Rhodes thought Matopos was the most beautiful place on earth and requested that he be buried there. The highest place in the park is his final resting-place. They actually chiseled his crypt from solid stone. . . by hand. Matopos is a beautiful park, which reminds me of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma, where I grew up.
To start our search for rhino, Steve took us through thick grass, much higher than our heads, which was cris-crossed with rhino trails. We were on foot, and I really don't know what we would have done if we had met any rhino while on these narrow trails. By the time we exited the grassy maze of trails, I was beginning to feel claustrophobic. All the trails seemed to converge at a water hole. Steve was quick to pick up fresh tracks to follow and after another half-hour of tracking he spotted a male rhino asleep under a bush. We were about twenty yards from him when I shot my first picture. The sound of the shutter clicking awakened the rhino. He was instantly up and in a defensive posture. Steve whispered to me that the rhino was not being aggressive, just defensive, but added that if he came toward us to get behind the closest tree. Gail later told me that she could actually feel her heart beating in her ears. It was a very exciting experience. We were able to get many good close pictures before the rhino finally decided he had enough and turned and ran away. As far as I was concerned, the return through the high grass on rhino trails was a much tenser situation!
Day 16 thru 18
The next day, we drove to Victoria Falls . . . Another of the "natural wonders of the world." The falls are spectacular, spanning almost a mile, and falling 100 meters into the gorge. In the dry season there are actually several falls, but in the wet season it is one continuous fall.
We took a ride into Zambia on a turn-of-the-century luxury train that has been converted for tourists. Tea and crumpets . . .It was very "British" and we enjoyed it quite a lot. The waiter for the single guest car, clad in uniform complete with white gloves and pith helmet was able to round up a beer for Gary and me. There were two other couples on the trip . . . A doctor and his wife from Omaha, and a couple from France.
It was sad to see all the impoverished although beautiful, happy, Zambian children running along side the train, knowing that they have little or no chance to escape their predicament. The government has not been able to produce any wealth for the country, and as a result, there are no public schools. The only children able to go to school are the few whose parents have money to send them. It is really sad and doesn't appear that they are going to be any better off any time soon. Zambia has one of the highest birth rates in the world.
When we returned to Zimbabwe, we learned that the ban on importing ivory had been lifted. Since the 1960's it had been illegal to import ivory from Africa into the United States. (The ban was lifted largely because it was not effective since the real problem is habitat destruction caused by the expansion of the population. Actually, when you think about it, most of the worlds problems are caused by too many people.) Gail and Suzy bought some ivory and got the proper paper work completed for the US Customs Service. Because of the exchange rate, it was dirt-cheap. Gail bought some beautiful necklaces for gifts. We thought it would be a real hassle to get through the customs folks in Miami, but they didn't even ask to see the ivory or the paperwork. The bureaucracy is tough to figure out, even for former bureaucrats!
We spent our last evening in Zimbabwe having dinner at the Victoria Falls Hotel. The meal was buffet style with a large selection of everything imaginable. The Victoria Falls Hotel is truly one of the finer hotels in Africa . . . beautifully located with five star service and food. The restrooms even have uniformed (complete with white gloves) attendants who hand you fresh linen towels after you wash your hands. We would like to have stayed there, but even with the favorable exchange rate the price was around $300 US for a double room. We stayed at a nice place for about $50 US. There is a very nice new hotel called the "Elephant Hills" that is around $55 US as well.
Cape Town and the Western Cape
We flew back to Maun the next day. We had left our guns and some other luggage with the Kyriacou's so that we would not have to fool with gun permits in Zimbabwe. Mary Lou got us reservations at a place called the "Crocodile Camp" that was quite nice. The meals were included with the chalets and we enjoyed the short stay there. Next day it was off to Jo-burg for one night and then on to Cape Town the next day.
While there we toured the wine country, Cape of Good Hope Nature Preserve and some of the sights of Cape Town itself. Cape Town is one of my favorite cities and I would like to live there for a few months sometime.
When we were checking in at SAA for the trip home, one of the ticket agents approached me pounding her fist with two fingers extended into the palm of her hand asking if I would explain the "game Americans' play." I immediately recognized what she was trying to demonstrate as the odd-man out game called "Rock, Scissors, Paper." By the time I had finished explaining the game to her several other ticket agents had come over to hear the explanation. It is always interesting to discover how such a simple thing can be such a curiosity to people of another culture. They watch too much American TV!
Shortly after boarding our flight back home, the pilot came on the PA system and announced that the bad weather in Florida was not the part of Florida that we would be flying into. This was the first we had heard about hurricane Georges. We arrived back home in the Florida Panhandle at the tail end of two days of heavy rains (twenty inches). We were not completely without news during our month away however. While on safari, the Monica Lewinsky stained dress fiasco was unveiled (front-page news in Zimbabwe and Botswana.) Linda Eaton, (Clive's wife) kept calling him on the short-wave radio with the latest breaking news off the satellite. It was not a very proud time to be an American traveling in a country that looks at us for leadership and guidance. It was the only low point of the trip.
Africa remains my "Drug of Choice," I can't get enough of it. We are going back in September of 2001. We will be going to Zambia to hunt Cape Buffalo and hope to have more of our friends accompany us.
Robert W. Edlund, 79, former Electronics Technician and AF Inspector passed away January 6, 2000. He retired from the FAA in 1971 as Sector Manager at Oklahoma City. He is survived by his wife Mary.
John Kubik, former Plant Superintendent in the Maintenance Operations Branch died on the 19th of December 1999. At the time of his death, John resided with his sister in Mesa, AZ. After his retirement he moved to Newburg, OR. His wife Hazel, passed away a few years ago.
Fred McGuire, 84, died at his Fairbanks home November 3, 1999. Fred was an air traffic controller for thirty years and at the time of his retirement from Fairbanks ATCT, he was sixty-nine and the oldest controller in the USA. Fred was a very interesting man. For example, he received a battlefield promotion to Captain and the Silver Star from General George Patton for his performance during the Battle of the Bulge. A great American. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and one daughter.
Leslie E. Schneider, 73, former Electronics Technician died November 26, 1999, at Providence Alaska Medical Center. He transferred to Kenai in 1969 where he resided until his death. He retired from the FAA in 1989 after 28 years of service.
Bud Seltenreich, 84, Former Flight Standards GADO/FSDO Manager, died November 8, 1999. The family and the Alaskan aviation community held a memorial service at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum November 27, 1999.
Russel L. Taylor, formerly of the Airports Division, passed away in Sequim on Jan. 27, 2000. He retired from FAA in Alaska in 1977.
George Burton "Woody" Woodbury, 69, died December 12, 1999, at the San Diego Hospice of liver disease. A celebration of his life will be June 23 in Anchorage. His ashes will be scattered in Kachemak Bay and throughout Alaska.
Sorry to hear of Bud's death, Charlie. He operated a small flying school in Fairbanks in 1946, based in a Quonset hut on Week's Field. He had a few Taylorcraft, taught a minimal ground school, and I used my GI Bill to get my Private there. The T-Crafts had no radio, so we did lots of aileron wagging on the ground and wing wagging in the air and got good at reading light signals from the Week's Tower. Weeks was the Fairbanks Airport at the time, gravel, with a bakery and power lines at the East end. PAA's DC-3's used it as the terminus of an 11 hour (with stops, of course) ride from Seattle. The airport, that is, not the bakery. Just a historical vignette.
Cheers, Jim Vrooman
Mary Edlund wrote the following letter to Our Time.
"Bob so looked forward to receiving the publication of "Our Times," and after you published his letter in the June 1999 issue he heard from several friends that he hadn't heard from in years. He had such fond memories of his time in Alaska and his friends there. He passed away on January 6, 2000."
Mary E. Edlund
AS I REMEMBER, BOB -
Mary, we received the following from Jim Vrooman as he remembers Bob.
As I remember, Bob worked in the Frame Room at the Anchorage Station and became a maintenance inspector in the late 40's. When Ralph Nelson and I came to the Regional Office as new inspectors in June 1951, Bob was the one that gave us some introductory advice and tours. Bob had a high appreciation of the important things in life, and his tours always included visits, generally termed "Joint Inspections," to the better bistros along the route. Ralph and I were eager students although not without some experience along those lines, ourselves.
While on my introductory trip with Bob to Southeastern Alaska, which was to be my inspection district for the next two years, we stayed at the Gastineau Hotel, euphemistically termed the "Ghastly Hole." The hotel clerk there at that time was gay. Having somehow led a sheltered life up to that time, I was unaware there were more than two genders, but not for long. When it finally dawned on me, what was going on, I held my room key rather than deal with the clerk at his desk. That evening, he saw me sneaking up the stairs to our room, and called across the crowded lobby, "Coward!"
Bob thought this was exceedingly funny, but I made him promise this charade would go no further. He shortly returned to Anchorage, but I didn't get back until about a month later. As I came into the bull pen occupied by the Maintenance Branch in the old post office building, the entire staff rose as one and shouted, "Coward!" When I retired in '72, Doyle Bushman composed and read a poem for the event entitled "The Coward of Gastineau." If for no other reason, I would remember Bob Edlund for that, but we worked and played together for years after. My more current information is pretty hazy, but I do know that he relocated to Oklahoma City Training facility, and became a manager there. I'm sure a query to folks there would bring out much more about this very capable and fun-loving fellow.
Longtime Alaskan George Burton "Woody" Woodbury, 69, died Dec. 12, 1999, at the San Diego Hospice of liver disease. A celebration of his life will be June 23 in Anchorage. His ashes will be scattered in Kachemak Bay and throughout Alaska.
Mr. Woodbury was born June 23, 1930, in Malden, Mass., to George Burton Woodbury and Ruth Estelle (Nelson) Woodbury. He graduated from Malden High School in 1948 and received a bachelor's degree in personnel management from Boston University in 1955.
Mr. Woodbury was married May 27, 1961 in Anchorage, to Joanne LaVonne Rodberg. He had two sons, George and John, and a daughter, Patricia, from a previous marriage.
Mr. Woodbury came to Alaska in June 1950 aboard the SS Alaska as the top graduate of his class in the U.S. Coast Guard radio school. His first Alaska tour was aboard the Cahoone, a cutter stationed out of Sitka. Before his honorable discharge in November of 1952, Mr. Woodbury served aboard the CGC Kimball, the CGC Citrus, the CGC Blackhawk, the CGC Chambers and the tender Sedge.
He was a member of numerous local and national organizations, including the Alaska Pioneers, Elks Club and the Gold Nugget Club for helping pioneer aviation in Alaska. He was an employee of the Federal Aviation Administration for more than 33 years. Mr. Woodbury retired from the FAA in June 1985. He also worked as a veterinarian's helper, a theater usher and as a private eye. He worked throughout Alaska before settling in Anchorage.
Mr. Woodbury's personable ways and penchant for conversation often left him gathering more wool than spot shrimp during his days as a commercial fisherman in Kachemak Bay in the ''70s and early '80's, but continued to crew aboard friends' vessels.
As the Kachemak Bay fishing cooled, Mr. Woodbury turned his attention to his modest shanty propped up on his Big Lake property. After the 1996 Miller's Reach Fire, he was forced to rebuild the cabin. With help from family and friends, a new structure rose. He was particularly proud of the stout outhouse wrestled into shape with help from the late Ed Tuck, a longtime friend and fellow captain.
Mr. Woodbury and his wife warmed up to wintering Outside, spending months touring the United States in a motor home before settling among the colorful characters in Yuma, Ariz.
He is survived by his wife, Joanne Woodbury of Anchorage; sister, Florence Christine Pascarelli and her spouse, Vin, of El Cajon, Calif.; sons, George of Big Lake and John of Anchorage; daughter, Patricia White, her spouse, Dirk, and their children, Soren and Taylor, of Sitka. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a hospice of your choice.
One of the rewards of working for Ray Rivers was being entertained by his well-told yarns. Here's one of my favorites . . .
(The following is an article originally printed in the June 1961 Mukluk Telegraph.)
Except for the defeat of the U.S. Navy by a herd of wild cattle, the expedition to Chirikof Island was a complete success. It was July of 1949 and our mission was the salvaging of abandoned, but serviceable, radio range equipment from Chirikof for subsequent reinstallation on the air route to the Arctic Coast. At that time, the Navy was conducting an extensive program of oil exploration along the Arctic slope, and additional navigational aids were required in the area for the air carriers and bush operators assisting in the exploration program. Hence, the Navy's interest in the Chirikof salvage operation.
Chirikof Island is located about 80 miles southwest of Kodiak Island in the North Pacific. It is south of and separate from the main Aleutian Island chain. The island is roughly 12 miles long and 8 miles wide. For the most part, Chirikof is treeless, and the low, rolling, grass-covered hills are ideal for the raising of stock. There are no predatory animals large enough to endanger stock, streams provide a year-round supply of good water, and the surrounding ocean tempers the climate so that it is never either very warm or very cold on Chirikof.
When the residents of Chirikof were evacuated during World War II, they left their cattle behind and, in the succeeding years, the herds multiplied and became semi-wild. These were the cattle that routed the Navy during this expedition.
Our modest task force consisted of a seagoing tug called the USS Bagaduce, an LCT loaded with the various items of heavy equipment needed for the salvage operation, the crews of these two vessels, a beachmaster, plus a number of specialists including heavy equipment operators, riggers, mechanics, and electronic people. Being somewhat of a specialist in the types of equipment to be salvaged, I represented the CAA on the expedition, since it was planned that the CAA would reinstall and operate the equipment at its new location.
The Bagaduce, with the LCT in tow, departed Kodiak in fine weather, which rapidly deteriorated as we left the shelter of the land. The Bagaduce proceeded through a quartering sea with a combined pitching and rolling motion, particularly disturbing to the landlubbers aboard. To avoid disgracing the agency I represented, I spent most of the outbound trip in my bunk, braced with feet and elbows to keep from rolling onto the deck. Eventually, we arrived off Chirikof, cast off our line to the LCT, and went aboard her for the trip to the beach. By nightfall, we had all of the heavy equipment ashore and had moved it to the job site.
Morning revealed the magnitude of the problem we faced. The range station had been built in an area of old sand dunes. During construction, the slight cover of vegetation had been removed. Following deactivation of the station and its abandonment, the winds had blown the sand out from under some of the buildings so that a man could stand underneath among the supporting piling without stooping. Some buildings, more seriously undermined, leaned at odd angles on their partially collapsed supports. The bottom step of the range building was 5 feet above ground level, yet the building itself contained tons of sand. Around the range towers, the situation was reversed. Drifts of sand surrounded the tower bases, completely covering the tower tuning houses which we were to salvage. A bulldozer, a welder with a cutting torch, and a crew of shovelers were needed to excavate the tuning houses.
Within the buildings, it was necessary to remove large amounts of sand from around the various items of equipment before they could be disconnected and removed. Special ramps and rigging were devised to move the heavy items of equipment from the buildings to the sleds, which were later towed behind bulldozers to the waiting LCT.
We were on cold rations until the removal operation was completed, so everyone was anxious to get back to the ship. By late afternoon, all of the equipment had been loaded on the sleds for the return trip to the beach. Two Navy enlisted men, who had brought along their rifles, elected to walk back to the LCT, swinging inland to scout for game.
During our stay on Chirikof, we had noted a herd of perhaps 200 hundred head of wild cattle grazing on the nearby hills. The two Navy men, during their trip inland, approached the herd and, deciding they would like to see a stampede, fired some shots over the heads of the herd. Instead of retreating, the herd went on the offensive, moving in a body against their attackers. The hunters retreated, and the cattle pursued at an ever-increasing rate. By the time the Navy men reached the beach, they were in full flight with the herd close behind. The cattle, having won such a decisive victory, calmly went back to feeding in the knee-high grass.
The rest of the mission was completed without incident. The salvaged equipment, which amounted to several tons, was unloaded at Kodiak and later air-shipped to the CAA station at Bettles. The equipment augmented with five 135-foot steel towers salvaged by CAA from another abandoned installation, soon became an operating radio range station, which continues to operate today, performing a vital service to pilots flying the air route between Fairbanks and Point Barrow.
(Thanks Bob for sharing this story - another fascinating page from the CAA/FAA Alaskan legacy....Editor)
Swan Island, West Indies, is located 90 miles east of the Republic of Honduras, in the Caribbean Sea. In 1960, I was assigned to be the new AFFO chief on the Island by the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) Second Region. There was increased emphasis on the facilities at Swan Island since Fidel Castro was the new Dictator in Cuba and in trouble with the United States. I received on the job training for the Swan Island equipment at the Miami District Office.
A week later I departed for Tampa and reported to a tramp steamer for transportation to the island. On the way out, Tampa Bay was pretty windy and rough. Somebody forgot to tie down a 55-gallon drum of oil and it rolls through the side breaking a big hole through the hull into the water. We fished out the oil drum and returned to Tampa for two days worth of repairs.
We again departed and a few days later they dropped me off on a rowboat and I arrived on the island. I soon found out I was responsible for everything, including a Weather station chief with three specialists along with three mechanics and two cooks that worked for me. I was also responsible for lots of buildings on this one-mile by one half mile wide volcanic island. And it is called BIG SWAN, because across a 300-ft channel there's LITTLE SWAN, a one-quarter by one-quarter mile island.
A few days' later two region installation engineers arrived to overhaul the antenna fields. One of them was our old friend John Ranspot (yep, the same one you all know). The first thing they did was to take the guys that were working on the well and put them to cutting trees on the antenna field, bad move! I found out when I went to check the work on the well. Since I was 26 yrs old and inexperienced I blew my cork, went out to the antenna field ready to do battle. I won that particular battle and got my men back into the well digging.
A few days later one of the locals came running to tell us there were ships on the horizon. We quickly adjourned to the dock and sure enough the Navy was arriving. We noticed people swimming along with small boats and they came in all the way to the beach. When I ran over and asked them what was going on, they said they were going to blow a channel so the ships could land. BOOOOOMMMM!!! it went and the big ship came half way up the beach. Surprise, two civilians got off when the big doors opened and were looking for me! They didn't introduce themselves but gave me a letter addressed to me. The letter ordered me to cooperate in any way these people desired and told me all signals would be monitored and the utmost secrecy was to be maintained. The letter was signed by the FAA Administrator General Quezada.
In addition bulldozers, construction equipment, Navy engineers, one Admiral and a few Navy Captains also got off the ship. Was I scared?? NO! I thought the fun was just starting. While they were building whatever, I convinced the demolition team to go out on the other side of the Island and blow up the so-called Captain Swan (a 18-century buccaneer for whom the Island was named). They placed dynamite at the bottom of the pit and BOOOOMM it went!! Bad luck, instead of clearing the debris, the whole side collapsed and buried the so-called treasure site with an additional 20 feet of dirt. I had lost my fortune! About 30 days later the navy construction was done and they had loaded all the equipment on board to leave the next day.
By the time they were to leave the island, we had become good friends with the two enigmatic civilians who would come and play cards with us every night. Earlier while searching for some drawings, I found a drawing for a proposed three thousand by 300-foot Swan Island runway. During the last evening while we were discussing the problems with supplying the Island by boat, it occurred to me that maybe they could build the runway while the people and the equipment was still available. So I asked them (the secret ones) to get the Navy to build it and they bought the idea. The next day everything was unloaded again and our runway was built. I believe that John Ranspot was the first person to fly out of Swan Island. John, if you are reading this narrative, please feel free to correct my remembrance. This is the first chapter and more will be coming.
Julia decided that we should spend the Christmas holiday break and welcome in the new year with our daughter, Ginny, who lives in Linden, Alabama. After much feet dragging we hopped into our trusty van and drove over for a little visit.
While there Ginny's Rottweiler dog slipped her collar, and as I attempted to replace the collar, the dog took offense and took a couple of pieces out of my face. The medics drove me 15 miles to the nearest hospital where they could only give me emergency care, then we drove another 90 miles to Tuscaloosa University Medical Hospital where, thank the Lord, they had a super-duper plastic surgeon on call. After 2 hrs of surgery (while awake), the doctor got all the sewing done and saved my eye to boot!
Except for a few new dimples on the cheek, all is well now. Needless to say Julia got to do most of the driving on the way home. We had intended to stop by Cisco, Texas to see Carl Bailey on the drive back but didn't because I was in a hurry to get back home to Arizona and lick my wounds.
Kay & Julia Falke
John Wilber, former ANC FSS Supervisor, sent the following greeting:
Happy Holidays! Hope you are enjoying your snowless Christmas as much as I am. Shelly (daughter) is spending the holidays with me and we are having a ball. Grown kids are much more fun! Take care and enjoy
(John is a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii... Editor)
Hi Charlie & Dottye
I have been getting all this good info from you and checked out the Our Time Web Site and the different Alaska aviation museums.
I was pleased with the pictures of the 123 and some of the folks that I worked with at the FAA hangar in Anchorage. Of course it brought back a lot of memories of the times that I spent at the hangar while working with Alaska Airlines and the FAA. While I was working as mechanic with the FAA it seems like there were quite a few flight engineers that participated in that position. I thought I would list as many of those flight mechanics as I could remember for what it's worth. In random order, there was Dick Pastro, Lyndon Loudermilk, Ken Wilkings, Dustin Rhodes, Fred Koluda, Tim Jackson, George Meagher, Jake Knapp and I believe Clarence Beckhorn flew as flight mechanic also. If I have left anyone off this list please forgive the memory. Another note to pass on, Tim Jackson was piloting the 123 when it had accumulated ten thousand hours of flying time during a flight to King Salmon, or possibly another station.
You folks are doing an excellent job with the OUR TIMES program and I believe it is a great idea for the email addresses and for those who wish to participate. I wish to be entered on the list. Maybe some of you old retirees that I worked with will be able to get in touch. Of course many of you may not be into the PC world. I got started in April of 98. If I can do it, anyone can. My email address is email@example.com - I hope you all get in touch!!
I learned from the End of the Trail in the Alaska Magazine, that Bud Seltenreich passed away. He was a good friend and a great aviation promoter.
Thanks, Charlie & Dottye and the rest of the folks that keep this good stuff happening.
Hugh C. Younkins
Charlie it's me again. Last night I sent you a list of the flight engineers that flew on the 123. I need to correct one name. Dusty Rhodes was not one of the engineers. Dusty Sloan should have been on the list. I believe Dusty Rhodes was with Fish & Wildlife.
Thanks again. Hugh C. Younkins
2000 is upon us and there is no turning back. I chose to plow ahead and see what is out there for me. I think it is going to be a good year and that's that! With '99 fading, along with burning houses and surgical procedures, the future has got to be better.
I now have eight grandchildren with the recent addition of Nicholas Freeman in December. Russ and Terri decided that since Chelsea was 11, why not add a little brother. The girls now are only two ahead of the boys. I love them all dearly.
I hope to be back in my home in late February or March so hold on to the Warren Address. It will take some living to make it a home again. It has been difficult being in this little duplex but I have learned a lot about grace and healing. I think my heart was more wounded than any property losses. Chablis and Kahula (my kitties) will forever be in my heart and their little souls need to return to their old back yard.
My back is slowly healing and will take some time but I really want to be in good shape for some wonderful things coming in 2000. I will keep you posted... Meanwhile, take every day as precious and keep love in your heart.
Love, Jacque (Smith)
Bill and Dee Dougherty took a few minutes out of their busy schedule to write OUR TIME.
We Live in Hawaii about five months of the year and the rest in Anchorage. We still have my boat in Seward, but don't charter it anymore, too much of a pain in the,,,,you know what!
All those hours of studying for my Captains License paid off for a while, but,,,,,, have more fun now with just Dee and I.
Our daughter and her girls come to Seward once in a while during the derby, but after awhile a 37-foot boat gets very small. Drop a line when you can - would like to compare notes........ We have been thru the UK , Europe, Israel, Turkey, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Christmas Island, and other assorted islands.... I still love where we spend most of the winter, Hilo Hawaii.
Bill and Dee
(Bill, you sure know how to make a guy envious. Alaska in the summer - Hawaii in the winter, and a boat to boot!! Here is to good sailing and may our paths cross soon...Editor)
Today is the last day for Herb. His address' are as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete Smith from Fairbanks AFSS also is retiring this week. Don't have his info but will get it from Bette and send it on to you.
When I first came to the region in August of 1978, I immediately started receiving the Ourtime newletters. I kept complaining and writing letters and making phone calls to get this non-sensible publication stopped, but all to no avail. I've been receiving it for more than twenty years now; I don't know how I got on the list in the first place!! Anyway, the last 3-4 years I've really looked forward to getting the retirement news, since I've worked with so many of the people who regularly contribute. So now that I am retired, please don't cancel my subscription!
Betsy and I will be staying in Alaska, at least for a while (we do have PL600, so we have 23 more months to decide where we want to live).
December 9, 1999
It looks like we will have a white Christmas as there is fresh snow and it is five below. I have a fire in the fireplace and thought I better get cracking as I'm late getting this out. I'm late because we just got back from a three-week cruise to South America. Ports of call were Aruba, Netherlands Antilles; Cartagena, Columbia through the Panama Canal to Manta, Ecuador; Callao, Peru; San Martin, Peru; Arica, Chile; Coquimbo, Chile; Valpariso, Chile and left Santiago to come home. We were with three other couples and really had a good time.
Our big project this year was moving Diane's store, The Keyboard Cache. It took us the better part of four months to modify the new building at the Metro Mall and to move. Our son Robert was the prime contractor and did a good job. We had been at the old location on Tudor Road about 20 years.
Ken had an operation on the big toe of his left foot in April, which put the hobbles on him for the better part of the year. It is still swollen and painful when he over exerts it, which happens about every day. But you gotta keep moving!
Aimee is still flying with Olson Air and Polar Express in Nome and we get to see her when she is in town. Julia and Bob and their families live in Anchorage so we get to see them and three of our four grandkids quite often. Katie and family are in Long Beach and we go down and see them about twice a year. Ruth and Rex, Ken's folks, are snowbirds and summer in Wyoming and winter in Arizona. All of us are pretty healthy and 1999 has been a pretty good year for us all.
We did find time to squeeze in a couple other trips this year. In March we went with a music group to Rome and motored in our chartered bus through Italy, Switzerland and into Germany, ending at the big music fair in Frankfurt and then on home.
In May we visited friends in British Columbia and took a cruise from Vancouver B.C. to Seward and on into Anchorage. This is a fun trip and we recommend it. We hope to do it again this May or June.
The fire needs another log so I better wind this up. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
MY TRIP WITH THE RPMDA GROUP TO EUROPE!!
The 1999 trip to Europe with the RPMDA group was another fun time. Diane and I went to Chicago, a day early, and stayed overnight with friends. They are a fun couple and we caught up on family news. The next day, Feb. 19th, we met the group, 25 of us, at the airport and flew to Frankfurt and then on to Rome, Italy. Seven and a half to eight hours flight to Frankfurt and another 2 1/2 hours to Rome. Our bus met us at the airport.
We had the same driver we have had for three years and the same bus. It is a big Mercedes with big windows and a toilet and it was configured just for our group. There were four tables with chairs around them with the regular seats in the bus so we could move around and we did. Our driver "Michael," stocked the bar with fruit juice, pop, beer, whisky, vodka, and urns of coffee and tea. We had a brief tour of Rome on our way to the hotel. We stayed at the "Aldrovandi Palace Hotel" and it really was a palace! Very luxurious!
Our first full day, we had a guided tour in Rome, both driving around and walking. This was a little different from other tours we had and it was very interesting. Yes we did make a wish and throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain. There was time for shopping in the afternoon and a good meal in the evening. Michael handled that bus like a sports car and burned U-turns in heavy traffic that I didn't believe. One time we went the wrong way on a one way street and that was interesting. It was nice to sit back with a beer and watch what was happening. Our third day we had a tour of Vatican City and it is always overwhelming, then on the road to Siena.
At Siena we stayed at the Park Hotel Siena, complete with golf course, etc., a nice place. Had a tour of the town in a wind storm with a little rain. During the whole trip the breakfasts were outstanding and I especially like the red orange juice in Italy.
I had 3 - 4 glasses of it each morning with my fruit, cereal, yogurt, eggs, sausage, bacon, potato, baked tomato, cheese, kippered salmon or herring, cold cuts and fresh rolls. You need a nice, light breakfast when traveling.
On the road again through the Toscana region to Milano where we stayed at the "Excelsior Hotel Gallia" in downtown Milano. Another very nice hotel. We had time for an afternoon of walking around and shopping. We got shoes for Grandkids.
Another great breakfast and a guided tour of Milano including the famous opera house "La Scala." There was an opera that evening but tickets were $200+ so we opted to walk around and shop. We paid one set price for the trip so it didn't bother me to look at the listed price of the hotel rooms at more than double the price of the opera ticket. Our bill was paid so we just enjoyed the luxury. I thought the ladies in Italy were groomed and dressed well. Diane did not take any of her fur coats but I think she would have surpassed them in style and quality of her fur and been the envy of Milano. Unbiased opinion of course.
On the road again through tile Italian Alps to the medieval City of Lucerne, Switzerland after another light breakfast of course and more of that red orange juice. We had a walking guided tour in the evening and a Cheese Fondue dinner at one of the oldest restaurants in Lucerne. Our hotel was the acclaimed Hotel "National Luzern" and it was right on the edge of the lake. Our suite had a balcony that opened to a great view of the lake, city and mountains when the fog lifted.
We took some back roads to Lucerne and saw lots of country and kept out of the avalanche areas. We were stopped once for avalanche control so our group and the nearby cars took advantage of the time and had a party and got acquainted. It was fun! There were lots of tunnels along our route. Some of them long-- 10 miles or thereabouts. Those in the back of the bus requested that I lead them in song. So me and Jack Daniels held a songfest while going through the long tunnels.
In Zurich we stayed at the "Dolder Grand Hotel" and it was GRAND! I didn't even look at the listed price but everything in Switzerland is super expensive. Very pretty country and cities but outrageously expensive. The biggest Music Publisher and Retailer of Switzerland treated us to a tour of their company and at the end of the tour had and snacks on the roof of their building overlooking Zurich. Then they gave the ladies hand made silk scarves and the gents hand made silk ties. We were treated well! After that we had a guided tour of Zurich and time for shopping. We saw the famous Bahnhofstrasse and walked along it. Very nice and expensive shops.
Another great breakfast and we were on the road again. We didn't have the red orange juice in Switzerland but they did have lots of good cheeses. We traveled through the country and through the Black Forest to the place where emperors, kings, artists, musicians from around the world spent time of relaxation and gambling at the fashionable resort of Baden Baden. That night we spent at the elegant Hotel Steigenberger Europaischer Hof. We were on our own for a tour and we walked around town and had a very nice dinner. And again our suite had a balcony that opened on the river. We left the doors open and could hear the sound of the river as it lulled us to sleep. All our beds were king size with duveys and feather pillows.
Another "light" breakfast and off again. In Germany the sausages are the highlight of breakfast, Italy was the red orange juice and the cheeses in Switzerland. In Stuttgart we visited the Music Publisher Carus, and had a guided tour of the city and proceeded on to Heidelberg where we stayed at the 130-year old Hotel Europaischer Hof. At lunch we had some of the white sausages that you can get in only one area of Germany and that they don't serve after 12:00 noon. Diane and I had been to Heidelberg 3 - 4 times before and had fun walking around, looking, shopping and eating. Got more shoes for the Grandkids.
A tour of the city and castle was right after breakfast, a light lunch and we were off to Wiesbaden. I thought we would all sing the drinking song from the Student Prince when we departed Heidelberg as it took place in Heidelberg. Instead we sang "In Heaven There is No Beer." Oh well.
Wiesbaden and our beloved Hotel "Schwarzer Bock." Four nights here and three days for the International Frankfurt Music Fair. The first day after the fair was a hosted dinner in the old part of Frankfurt called "Sachsenhausen." Henle Publishers and Zimmerrnann/Lienau invited us. The second day was a sparkling wine reception for us at the AMA Publisher booth, as well as a reception at the booth of Halbig Wholesale. Diane went to the fair and I walked around Wiesbaden and took advantage of the spa at the Schwarzer Bock. The mineral water from these springs was used by the Romans 2000 years ago. I swam, relaxed and drank some of the water as it is supposed to be good for you. It was fun and relaxing and reminded me of DeMaris springs in Cody, Wyoming. Had lots of good veal, sausage, sauerkraut, red cabbage, dumplings and potatoes ----- good, basic American food. The last night we had our traditional goodbye dinner at the "Zum Dortmunder" and it is always good and we always have some little korn snaps after dinner. After dinner our group sort of took over the bar at the hotel. We sang and danced and had a good time, so they told me. I even danced the polka to the Mexican Hat Dance, I guess. Got to bed 1:30 or so and wake up call was 5:30. The trip home was long, 27 hours, and we arrived tired - but happy.
March 12, 1999
There is good news for federal workers in the President's fiscal 2001 budget, but a conspicuous omission when it comes to retired federal employees. The budget proposes a 3.7 percent pay raise for federal workers next year, and the pay delay gimmick (pushing some civilian and military pay dates from late September into early October) included in last year's Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, would be revoked. Additionally, the budget proposes to repeal the higher retirement contributions required of federal employees by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. And, like last year, this budget proposes buyout authority for all federal agencies.
NARFE Old Timers
Please put this up on the NARFEnet when you get a chance. My previous e-mail will confirm what you and Mrs. Baptiste discussed earlier today.
Dear Fellow NARFE Netters
This is my third report on the some 30 living fellow NARFE members who began their civil service careers back in the 1920s, who have stories to tell, and are our true seniors, both from the standpoint of earliest years of federal service and their total years of active NARFE membership. As I have said before, I think they are special.
I am happy to report that the California State Federation has given recognition to those still active eight seniors who reside in California, doing so in its 50th Anniversary Year (1950-99) 75-page Book of Memories which starts out with "A Tribute to Senior Members," giving a biographical sketch of each.
This Memory Book, containing photos and words of past Federation officers, and now being distributed, was beautifully put together voluntarily by Joyce Ross, long active in state Federation affairs. Her e-mail address is RoSvc@aol.com, and phone number is 530-283-4996.
Someone has said that to know one's subject one must first know its history. What is especially gratifying is that in delving into history Joyce has brought to light one notable senior previously unknown to me, namely Edward A. Swedenborg. Who is he? Well, he is presently an Honorary Life Member of Redwood City CA Chapter 544, born February 26, 1895, which makes him over 104 years old. Edward began with the U.S. Geological Service in 1926, retiring in 1956 after 30 years. He then went to work for the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission until 1960, when he moved to Menlo Park CA, where he and wife Gladys (age 97) reside today.
Wow! A NARFE senior living 20 miles away that I did not previously know about! My wife Pauline and I visited and chatted with him recently, taking pictures. Not only is he a civil service senior but, prior to that, he was a World War I veteran. And he served as CA Federation president 1965-66, and was honored by NARFE's national convention in 1968. What a career!
If any other state federation wishes to similarly acknowledge its living seniors I will be glad to furnish biographical sketches if needed. My present data shows that Florida and Illinois each have three such seniors, Virginia has two, and 15 states each have one (MA, IA, KS, AZ, MS, NJ, PA, NM, CO, MD, SD, OR, NY, DC, and OH).
In addition to Edward Swedenborg there is another name to be added to the list of oldsters. This is Edith I. McAllister, Honorary Member of Chapter 2150, Lehigh-North Fort Myers FL, age 94, who began in 1927 at Gorgas Hospital, Anacon Canal Zone, as medical assistant and Spanish/English interpreter. Edith and husband Robert both continue as active Chapter members. Thank you, president Sharon Bowman (e-mail Sbowman216@aol.com) for this information.
Also, Rolla W. Chalupa of Davenport IA, according to a letter belatedly returned by the post-office, died December 19, 1998. Member Chalupa began with the post-office in 1927, and in correspondence said he was personally acquainted with former NARFE president Charles Jackson.
Also, sad to report, Roger Cahoon, Massachusetts postmaster appointed by President Coolidge, has passed on, as has Beatrice Freeland, a pioneer worker at Yosemite National Park. Also Irene Tanka, who served 42 years as office assistant to the U.S. District Attorney in Detroit, and an original member of Chapter 470.
I have collected short biographies of each of the oldsters, and we regularly correspond snail-mail among ourselves (only one has a computer). I am more than willing to share all data. This is all for now, and comments are invited as always.
Louis Worth Jones, Chapter 1317, San Mateo CA, formerly member of Chapter 52 Palo Alto CA.
Sometime in the early 80's I had the good fortune to spend the summer at King Salmon. On one particular day I fished with two of Tom Flynn's kids and we had an unbelievable afternoon on the water. These boys ages 10 and 12 were very good fishermen, however the kings that day were as heavy as the kids. Using but 17 pound line in two hours they hooked up with something like 15 big kings and finally we managed to land six of them. There was such a competition between them they would not help each other when one of them had one on and most of the time they each had hooked one at the same time. I was kept busy just running the boat, landing the fish, and mostly fixing the broken tackle. Every king that day was in the 35 to 50 pound range.
To our surprise, we received the following E-mail from former Alaskan FAA Artist Dean Brennan. Too many "Old Timers" will fondly remember the staff that was always there for our very special needs - graphics, photos, designs, and many more special services. Who will ever forget the simple request of Regional Photographer Herman "One More Please?"
Well, to hear from Dean and wife Katy, was a tonic mixed with good times and fond memories.
Katy and I just got around to re-reading the OUR TIME for November. Wanted to be certain nothing had been overlooked before it went into file. Something had been. You mentioned you missed seeing Hal and Rose Eward when you went through Libby, Montana. You know Charlie, it is not far to Whitefish from Libby. If you come that way and miss someone again, and have a little time, give Katy and I a call, and a visit if you can. You are doing a great job on the paper and have encouraged much interest. That is, I believe, the name of the game. Congratulations and maintain. So much of anything Good depends on variations of input. We are in continuous e-mail with some Alaska friends and relations and read the Anchorage News every morning via the WEB. Again Happy New Year and Very Best Wishes.
Dean and Katy Brennan
The World According to Andy Rooney....
I get back at them. I put garbage in with my check when I mail it in. Coffee grinds, banana peels...I write, "Could you throw this &%*#&% away for me? Thank You."
ON FABRIC SOFTENER:
ON MORNING DIFFERENCES:
ON AWARD SHOWS:
FAA Regional Administrator Kerry B. Long