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MEMOIRS OF ALBERT AND DERITH PORTUNE

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MEMOIRS OF ALBERT AND DERITH PORTUNE Powered By Docstoc
					         MEMOIRS OF ALBERT AND DERITH PORTUNE
        FROM THEIR LIFETIME AS HUSBAND AND WIFE



The following are memoirs of various times and eras in their lives and
meant to provide remembrances for their children who perhaps might
desire to have a small window into what their parents were and what
they did and felt in these “snapshots” of their lives.
                         HERITAGE AND HISTORY

My grandfather, father of my Dad, was Frank Robert Portune. He was born in New
Orleans, Louisiana, January 11, 1861. His father was Francis Joseph Portune, born
in Iggelheim, Germany February 7, 1828. My grandfather married Mary Santini
Andronico on January 17, 1894 who was born on Jan 1, 1865. Her mother came
from Ireland and her father from Sicily. My grandfather was a musician and played
the Clarinet. His father, Francis, was a fairly well to do man in Germany who had
some reasonably valuable bonds in some company or corporation in Germany.
However in some kind of crash in Germany or in a horrible inflationary period
when the German Mark became virtually worthless he lost all the value of his
bonds. I remember one time when I was growing up on Third Avenue in Los
Angeles my grandfather was showing my dad the now worthless bonds of his father
that he still had. I saw them and they were very colorful and looked very “official”
the printing and colors looked a lot like “money” to me.

My grandfather, Frank and his wife, Mary Santini lived in a house on Gayoso Street
in New Orleans. They had three sons. Frank, Albert and Allen, in that order. Albert,
of course, became my father. My Uncle, Frank ended up in New York and I never
met him. My grandfather along with another man opened a kind of Roadhouse in
New Orleans at 2917 Maurepais Street in 1920 where they served drinks, meals and
entertained with a small orchestra or “band” in which my grandfather played
clarinet. Eventually the boys grew up. Frank went to New York but Albert and
Allen came to California where dad became a telegrapher for Postal Telegraph, met
and married my mother, Bessie.

One of the great pastimes for boys in New Orleans, as my dad related to me later,
was the building of what they called “Fighting Kites.” It was a six sided kite that
had “hummers” that made a humming sound when you jerked on the string because
of the wind blowing over the hummer. They had long colorful tails made out of torn
cloth in various colors. Also on the kite were two “horns” made out of sharpened
wood and attached to the top of the kite on both sides. The kites were controlled by
various pulls and jerks on the kite string. Several kids would have kites in close
proximity and try to dive their kites into one of the other kites and knock it out of
the air. Also, as my dad related it to me, they would take old glass bottles and crush
them into fine glass like sand. Then they would glue the glass to the tail of their kits
and hence could dive their kit across the string of another and cut it. My dad said
they had great kite wars. I was always spellbound by the stories. My dad made
several of these kites for me as a young boy and we flew them together. Later on I
made kites like these for my own boys who also were thrilled by them.

My Grandmother, mother of my mother, was ____________Connely. I knew little of
her and only saw her once or twice when I was very young. She was English and
Irish and she and her husband, my Grandfather on my mother’s side, was English
as far as I remember. They lived in Chicago when my mother was born in 1902. I
don’t know the details but they moved to San Francisco shortly after my mother’s
birth. Some kind of serious breakup occurred and my mother ended up in an
orphanage. She was 4 years old at the time of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906
and related some vague memories of the quake to me early on. She did remember
acutely the treatment she received in the orphanage, being hungry most of the time
and being chastised often with a large wooden spoon by the woman who ran the
orphanage.

Derith’s grandfather on her father’s side was Frank Bender. He was born in
Pennsylvania one of four boys and six sisters. He moved to North Platte, Nebraska
where Durward Franklin Bender, Derith’s father, was born in about 1896. Frank
Bender was married to his first wife, Maggie. They had five children, two boys and
three girls, Durward, Anna, Iva, Ruth and Ellis. Frank Bender divorced his first
wife, Maggie, and married Maude. As best as Derith remembers he worked in a saw
mill. He took up a homestead in Nebraska where he moved with his family. He later
sold the homestead. Frank Bender died shortly after the death of Maude, his second
wife, at age 95, in 1961 still in good health.

Derith’s Grandmother, Maggie, after the divorce lived in Los Angeles. She
remained in touch with her children and her youngest, Ellis still lived with her.
Ultimately, when she got older, she moved to Mariposa, California and lived with
her daughter Anna. She died in November 1964 at 95. Derith visited Maggie as a
child and Maggie would give her sugar cookies that she had baked. Derith has an
old Bible that Maggie gave to her in 1936 in which she has written all of the births,
deaths and marriages of our family.

Derith’s grandfather on her mother’s side was Edward Linden. He came to the
United States from Sweden in around 1890. In Sweden he had been close friends
with Hilda Liljeberg who left Sweden before he did and came to the U.S. After
coming to the U.S. Edward Linden worked for the telephone company. He courted
and married Hilda Liljeberg in Chicago. Derith’s mother, Margarite Ester Linden
was born in March of 1902. (Derith was very close to her grandfather, Edward as a
child. She played checkers by the hour with him, would sit on his lap when he was
driving his old Maxwell automobile and he would “let her steer.”
                              THE EARLY YEARS

I was born at home on the living room couch of my parents rented home at 1433
E. 48th Street in Los Angeles, California on February 19, 1923. I don’t remember
that day or even being born – obviously. But my Dad, Albert Jacob Portune, and
my Mother, Bessie Violet Portune certainly do. I was their second son. My
brother, Frank Robert Portune was born to them in Yuma, Arizona on April 16,
1921.

My Dad had met my Mother there in Yuma, Arizona. He was working for the
Postal Telegraph Co. as a telegrapher. My mother was working for the phone
company there working a switchboard not far from the telegraph office where my
Dad worked. My Mother was 20 and my Dad 25 when they met. They had a
“long” acquaintance before they were married – one whole week! They just up
and got married and were never parted for nearly 70 years when my Father died
at 95.

When I was 5 months old my Dad and Mom, together with my Grandfather,
Frank Robert Portune and my Grandmother, Santini Portune purchased a home
together at 3661 3rd Avenue in Los Angeles. All of us moved there and it was
there that I grew up and had my first memories. I remember being carried, kissed
and cared for by my Mother and also my grandmother.
It was my grandmother that gave me a nickname that followed me for many
years. As a baby she called me her “itty bitty” but in her French, Cajun accent the
“bitty” sounded more like “Beady.” So they all began lovingly calling me “Beady”
as a baby. It stuck and everyone called me that for years. I don’t think the kids in
the neighborhood even knew I was named Albert. When I began school I began
being called Albert at school but I was still Beady at home. My brother John’s
children call me “uncle Beady” to this day.

At about four years of age I remember the sound of the old washing machine on
the back porch. It was a huge tub with several large round silver dome-like things
that revolved and plunged up and down in the tub full of clothes in soapy water.
They made a kind of scary sound that I didn’t like. I remember the big pile of dirty
clothes lying on the floor to be put into the tub. I couldn’t step over the pile so
Mom would lift me over.

I remember the “ringer” that was attached to the washing machine. It had two
rollers about 15 or so inches long attached to a hand crank. After the clothes had
been washed and rinsed they were still “sopping wet” and, of course, were not
hung up to dry in that condition. Clothes driers were unheard of then. They had to
be run through the ringer. I remember my mom putting the corner of a piece of
clothing between the rollers then turning the crank that would draw the piece of
clothing through the rollers that would squeeze out the water. It looked like fun to
turn the rollers but my mom had to rest from time to time because it took a lot of
muscle to wring out all the clothes.

                       SANTA BARBARA EARTHQUAKE

Although only 3½ years of age I remember this incident very clearly. I guess it
was because my mother came close to being killed and the fear enhanced the
memory. Our house on Third Avenue had a large fireplace in the front room. The
mantel of the fireplace was one piece of stone about 8 ft long 18 inches wide and
about six inches thick. It was supported by two other large slabs of stone the
same dimensions only about 6 ft tall. They were on each side of the fireplace and
supported the heavy mantel piece. That mantel stone must have weighed at least
half a ton or near 1000 pounds.

We didn’t use the fireplace for fires but had an unvented radiant gas stove inside
the fireplace. We had a couch right in front of the mantel. My mom was sitting on
that couch crocheting, something she did a lot of. It was late afternoon and my
brother Frank age about 5 ½ and I were in the bathtub together. At that age mom
had us take our baths together. We often played in the tub with boats and things
while taking our baths.

Suddenly there was a sharp jolt, a rumble and a crashing sound. Almost at the
same time my mom came into the bathroom to check on us. She got us out of
the tub and wrapped us in towels and we went out into the living room where the
crash had occurred. In the living room the large stone mantel had fallen down
right on to the couch where my mother had been sitting. The other two stones lay
across the floor.

The quake wasn’t that strong in Los Angeles and did little damage. The quake
was a 5.6 jolt and did some damage in Santa Barbara. It was just enough
however to topple that huge mantel down on to the couch. My mom later said
she didn’t know why she was prompted just a few seconds before the quake to
get up and check on Frank and me. We always felt it was providential.

                          NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

Just past four years of age I fell ill with the whooping cough. I remember
coughing and vomiting like it would never end. Nothing I ate, which wasn’t much,
would stay down and I finally was too weak to walk. I learned later that the
doctor, a doctor Tornell that had an office on Jefferson Blvd., who the folks called
to look at me, told my folks that I “wasn’t going to make it.” He weighed me and
at age 4 ½ I weighed only 19 pounds.

One day shortly after, my Grandfather was carrying me out in the sunshine in
front of our home. He was very fond of Hershey bars made of milk chocolate. He
was nibbling on one as he carried me. I reached my hand out toward the
Hershey bar. Grandpa gave me a little piece which I gobbled down and reached
for more. He told my Mom what had happened and my Mom said: “If he’ll eat it
let him have it, it can’t hurt him now the way he is. So, I got some more Hershey
bar and didn’t throw it up as I did with everything else. Mom called Dr. Tornell
and told him about me eating Hershey bar and not throwing up. The Dr. said:
“Give him all he wants, it might help him.” So, I ate chocolate and drank water
and kept it down. Then milk and then chocolate cocoa with bread sopped in it. I
began to get stronger and went on to recover fully. There is no doubt why I love
chocolate so much to this day and why I have a soft place in my heart for
Hershey bars, they saved my life.

                                KINDERGARTEN

Shortly after recovering it was time for me to go to Kindergarten. I think my
whooping cough days had made me into a very nervous and scared kid feeling
still tied to my Mother’s apron strings, I guess because she nurtured and cared
for me so lovingly during my illness. I was really frightened to have to go to
Kindergarten at the Sixth Avenue Grade School about a long mile from our
house. But my Mom took me and I felt so scared to leave her and go into the
class room that I made her promise to wait just outside the door for me. She did
for a while but I soon got interested in the things the teacher was doing with the
kids that I had made the transition and got to love and enjoy Kindergarten.

                                 A LUCKY FIND
To say we were “poor” was pretty close to reality for us living on 3rd Avenue in the
late 1920’s. Dad had a low paying job at Postal Telegraph, working on and off – if
he was called in -- working nights as a Telegrapher sending messages by Morse
code to various places around the country. I must have been about 8 years of
age and seemed to be hungry most of the time. Dinners seemed to be always
Vegetable soup made with a “soup bone” with only a few scraps of meat on it
that cost only a few cents at the local meat market on Jefferson Blvd. and a
collection of various vegetables called a “soup bunch” bought at the little grocer’s
next to the meat market. The man at the grocery would take a small bag and go
around among the vegetable bins and gather a collection of various vegetables
like a couple of carrots, a potato, some green beans, a tomato, some celery
broken off of a head of celery and a few other things and put them in a bag. That
was a “soup bunch.” Other meals were scant and my breakfast usually was a cup
of very weak coffee made of about half milk and a piece of toast.

I used to walk up to the little market with my Mom, Henry’s market on Jefferson
where she would try to get enough to feed us on very little money. One day we
were about to leave to go to Henry’s and I saw tears in my Mom’s eyes and
asked her why she was crying. She said: “I have only 19 cents and I don’t know
what I can get to make dinner. We had Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa,
and my Brother Frank and I to feed, so it was a pretty dismal prospect to “go to
market.” There was an alley running behind our house and we would walk up that
alley to the next cross street on the way to market. It had been raining and their
were puddles all along the alley.

I used to love puddles because I could look into the puddle and see the sky and
clouds reflected in it like in a mirror. It almost seemed you could step into a
puddle and “fall into the sky.” So, as we were walking up the alley I was “doing
my thing,” dreaming and looking into puddles. As I was “probing” one puddle I
saw something in the water. I had seen paper money a few times but never had
had any of my own. But I knew what paper money looked like. But THAT WAS
PAPER MONEY IN THAT PUDDLE. I reached down and grabbed it and said:
“Mom, look what I found!” I handed it to her and she discovered it was two one
dollar bills folded over a 50 cent piece and a couple of dimes.

You can’t imagine the joy that came over my Mom. It was like a “gift from
heaven.” She said: “Oh, now we can have a good dinner.” We went on up to
Henry’s. I don’t remember what Mom bought but I do remember dinner that night
with chicken and dumplings and most of all a chocolate cup cake for desert with
my milk.

                    THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE

One of the most frightening experiences I lived through was the earthquake in
March of 1933 with its epicenter near Long Beach, CA. I was just eleven years
old when it happened. The quake occurred at 5:54 PM on March 10th. I was out
in the backyard of our house on Third Avenue and was climbing in the huge
walnut tree we had in the backyard. I heard a terrible rumbling and the tree
began to shake and sway. I quickly “shinnied” down to the ground and when I put
my feet down the ground was jumping under me. I held on to the trunk of the
walnut tree and looked toward the back of our house. The back of the house was
jumping up and down and waves like in water seemed to come out from under
the back of the house and roll across the yard. A concrete walkway that ran from
the house out into the yard was crumbling and cracking as the “waves” rolled
under it.

Things were tossed about in the house and our chimney had collapsed in the
side yard but otherwise there was not much damage to our house. We turned on
the radio and there were different broadcasts that were saying that Los Angeles
was in a shambles and that Long Beach was a wreck. Some stations were off the
air. Then the first “after shock” happened with a rumble and another shake, but
not anything like “the big one.” Dad came home and we cautiously stayed in the
house. The electricity was still on but the water was off until the next day. We
spent a very scary night with after shocks happening from time to time. When I
would hear one coming I would stand up, close my eyes and hold my ears. I was
terrified and it took years for me to get over the awful fear of quakes.

A few days later we drove down to Long Beach to view the wreckage. It looked
like a bombed out city. I saw bathtubs hanging from second stories and bricks
and debris heaped up on the sides of the streets. Whole buildings were in heaps,
it was a terrible sight.




120 people were killed in the quake and hundreds injured. If the quake had
happened a few hours earlier thousands of children might have been killed
because many schools were totally leveled. This is how Long Beach High School
looked. The school I was attending was so badly damaged we had no school
until they could erect some temporary class rooms in a tent structure with a
wooden floor. We had classes in those tents for over a year while they repaired
the school.

On the side of our house where the chimney had been there was a large hole
open to the outside. My grandfather boarded it up. We had already lost the
mantel to the fireplace in the Santa Barbara quake years before, so we
eliminated all signs of the fire place. Our electricity was on and off for months
afterwards as they made repairs. They would signal that they were going to turn
off the power by flashing the lights on and off three times and then turn the power
off ten minutes later. We had aftershocks for months afterward and I lived in fear
of quakes for years.

Derith was 10 years old when the quake struck and living on O’Sullivan Dr.
above Alhambra, CA. She was up the street from their house which was partially
built on stilts because it was on a hill. She was buying some eggs from a
neighbor that they got eggs from regularly. She was just leaving and at the front
door. She saw the lights flickering just as the rumble began. She somehow knew
it was an earthquake even though she had not been in an earthquake before.
She ran home as fast as she could and got home just as the shaking began.

She was very frightened and ran into the house. Her folks said it was not
anything to worry about but every time there was an aftershock she tried to run
out of the house. Her folks would grab and tell her to stay put because they had a
huge stone chimney right outside the front door and they were afraid it would fall
on her. There was not a lot of damage in the Alhambra area so she was able to
attend school because classes at that school, Gravois Elementary School, was a
small school with small cottages for classrooms. Each classroom at her school
had four grades together.

At the end of that school year Derith’s folks moved to Long Beach because Dee,
her dad, got a job as a cook on a cruise ship out of Long Beach. The school
Derith attended in Long Beach also had tents with wooden floors for classes
while the school was being repaired. She attended classes in the tents for two
years. Derith like living in Long Beach because it was near to the beach. She
liked to go walk on the beachfront because there were a lot of interesting shops
there. She specially liked to go in and watch them pull taffy and enjoyed the smell
in the shop.

                                   SCOUTING

I joined the Cub Scouts at around 8 years of age and had a real enjoyable time in
so doing, until my older Brother joined the Boy Scouts. He was two years older
than me and somehow never let me forget how “junior” I was to him, not only in
scouting but in every way imaginable. My two front teeth were quite big and
prominent for may face in those days and he would call me “buck tooth” or just
buck, but I knew what he meant. He never was a Cub Scout and somehow made
me feel “sissified” for becoming one. Then when he joined the Boy Scouts he
kept comparing how juvenile were the Cubs compared to the REAL scouts.
Somehow that seemed to kill the good feeling I had about the Cubs and I let my
participation drop off and finally quit going.

A year or two later I finally became old enough to join the “real scouts.” My
Brother, Frank, was an “advanced scout” by then, I think an Eagle Scout.
However Frank encouraged me to join, which I did. I earned my Merit Badges
gradually and after a couple of years and several camp outs and hikes I was now
a “real scout.” Later, in 1937 just after my fourteenth birthday something quite
monumental and very disturbing in my life as a Scout occurred. I was in the same
squad as my Brother, who was squad leader, a squad as I remember was 8 to 10
Scouts a small division of the “pack.”

A terrible kidnapping occurred in the Inglewood area near Los Angeles area in
1937 with the kidnapping of three little girls. There were two sisters, Madeline
Everett 9, her sister, Melba 7 and a playmate Janette Stevens 8. They lived near
Centinella Park in Inglewood. They frequently packed lunches and went to the
park together to eat and play. When they didn’t return home the parents called
authorities who began searching for them. They remained missing for several
days and the police and fire departments had been searching various wilderness
areas around Los Angeles in an attempt to find the little girls.

The Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles at that time was a vast area of hills,
gullies, ravines and the like spread over a large area. The authorities asked the
Scouting Authority if the Boy Scout troops could help in the search. Our troop
(Troup 58) was assigned a certain rather large area of the Baldwin hills to
search. Early in the morning our Troop divided up into squads and our squad
was taken to a hilly area with gullies and ravines and under the squad leader, my
brother Frank, left to search and then return to the pick up area later in the
afternoon. The squad was to stay together as a group and no one was to search
alone or wander off.

All morning we searched in tall grass, down gullies and ravines looking
everywhere. It was a bit scary, but we had the enthusiasm of “kids” and of course
“Scouts” on an adventure. We had brought lunches so at noon we had our lunch,
drank out of our canteens, rested a bit then started out searching again. I was
about the fifth in line since we stayed in squad order about 10 ft apart. We were
in a rather deep ravine with lots of scrubby trees and brambles. Then suddenly
up ahead and around a bend in the ravine, I heard my Brother, Frank, scream:
“We found ‘em, we found ‘em!” Rushing up we all stood around looking down at
three little bodies with their clothes all pulled up and ropes around their necks.
They were very pale looking, very dirty and ants were bunched around their
eyes. It was the most horrible sight I had ever seen. They had been strangled
and raped.
We were all suddenly quite frightened, not really knowing what to do. Finally my
Brother, Frank, said loudly: “Let’s get out of here.” We went out, or rather “ran
out” the way we had come in, still in squad order. Running back toward the place
we were dropped off to begin our search we found a Sheriff Officer and told him
what we had found. He had us all sit down in a group and stay where we were
while he went for help. In a while several Sheriff Officers came and asked us to
show them where we had found the little girls. We took them to the ravine and
once again saw the terrible sight. Later, more authorities came and we were
taken back to our Scout meeting place where each of us went home wishing the
day had never happened.

People were very angry over the horrible depravity of the kidnapping, murder by
strangulation and the sexual abuse. A large gang of people, about 150, gathered
outside the Inglewood police station in an attempt to lynch Albert Dyer who had
been arrested for the crime. However he had been taken to the Los Angeles jail
and the crowd dispersed. Later at Dyer’s trial I had to testify. I was very
apprehensive and actually a bit scared because the kidnapper, Dyer, was there
in the courtroom staring at me as they asked me questions about finding the
bodies. For years after this incident and the earlier Lindberg kidnapping and
murder our lives were affected and I had many bad dreams.

                                    BICYCLES

In 1935, when I was 12, it still wasn’t long after the Great Depression and “things
were rough all over.” My Dad had been in and out of jobs so there was little
money for toys or things like bicycles – something both my brother and I dearly
wanted. We had asked Mom and Dad many times for bikes, but it was out of the
question as far as money went. My brother and I and another kid on the block
would frequently go out on “can day,” the day they came and picked up trash in
our area of L.A., and look in the can boxes and barrels which were put in the
alleys behind the houses which were common in those days. We collected old
bottles that could be redeemed for the deposits and other things we could use to
make things.

Stopping at one particular can box which was up on a shelf on the back fence of
a house, we looked over the fence and there in the backyard of the house were a
couple of old bicycles. They were dirty, with no tires and some missing parts.
They looked discarded. We got excited that maybe the people might not want
them any more. So, we went around to the front of the house and knocked on the
door. A woman came to the door and we asked about the “old bikes” in the back
yard. The woman said: “Oh those old things.” We asked if there was any way we
could have them. She thought a moment and then said: “Well, they haven’t been
used in many years and the boys are grown so I don’t see any reason to keep
them any more – you can have them!
We were overjoyed and carried the old bikes home. My brother, Frank, was very
good with tools and making model airplanes and the like and he thought we
could “fix them up” if we could get the parts we needed. We showed “the
remains” of the old bikes to my dad and were surprised when he said he would
take us to a bike shop on Western Avenue and see what it might cost to get them
fixed up properly. He took us on Saturday and the man in the shop gave my dad
a price to fix them up and put tires on them etc.

My dad, with my mom’s encouragement agreed to have it done for us because
we had wanted bikes for so long and other kids had them in our neighborhood.
So, the day came when they were finished and we went and picked them up. I
couldn’t believe the transition – now they really looked like bikes. Mine was a
smaller bike, a 26 inch wheel while the one my brother got was bigger, full size,
with 30 inch wheels. This didn’t matter to me, ‘cause now I had a bike and I rode
it for many years thereafter.

I remember the many times I rode with my brother, Frank and a neighbor boy,
Leroy Wills, all the way to Santa Monica Beach – 15 miles each way -- and spent
the whole day swimming and playing in the sand. It seemed, at that age, that you
never grew tired. I remember we used to swim out and around the Santa Monica
pier that extended at least a quarter mile out into the ocean and never seem to
get out of breath.

Leroy Willis was an enthusiast of body building and he got me started lifting
weights which helped me in my growing years to a much stronger and better
health condition. We didn’t have many regular metal bar bells or dumbbells
because they were too expensive. My brother Frank, Leroy Willis, another boy
named Bob De Jerf all “lifted” together almost every day. So, we made our own
weights by taking coffee cans and larger cans and filling them with cement. We
used old pieces of water pipe for the bars. We made weights of various sizes and
used them for our “lifting” exercises.

I was the youngest and most “puny” one of the bunch and had to start with lighter
weights. However I began gaining weight and filling out. We had a contest to see
who could gain the most “inches” in arm and leg size and gain weight. Over the
period of the contest I outstripped them all. I think it was because I was beginning
a growth spurt but I really made some great strides. I have, one way or another,
held on to some form of weight lifting exercises for most of my life, and still do
even at age 88, come this February 2011.

A little later on Leroy Willis and I began learning to dance. We practiced dancing
in the living room of his folk’s house. We also began listening to “Big Band”
music. These were the days of the Big Bands like Glen Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny
Goodman, Harry James, Guy Lombardo and the like. We started going to the
Palladium ball room in Hollywood whenever we could to watch and listen to the
Big Bands. Leroy was several years older than me and had a driver’s license. He
was able to use his dad’s car and we would drive to the Palladium. I thought the
Palladium was about the most thrilling and exciting place possible.

The Palladium would have special match folders each time a new band would be
playing. They were very decorative match folders. So, I began a collection of the
match folders and kept them stuck in around the mirror in my bed room at home.
We often just stood up by the band stand and just watched the bands play. We
saw various singers that were with the bands on and off. We saw Frank Sinatra,
Doris Day, Judy Garland, Tex Beneke and many others right up close.

It was about this time that I began “going with” Margie Bender. We went to the
Palladium several times. It was at the Palladium in 1942 that we decided to get
married and eloped to a Mexican marriage. “Those were the days.”
                              THE EARLY YEARS II

I was born Derith Margaret Bender on August 6, 1923 in Los Angeles, California at
White Memorial Hospital to Margarite Ester Bender and Durward Franklin
Bender. The cost, as later related to me, for the hospital and the birth and my
mom’s 15 day stay in the hospital was $30.00 – I still have the receipt.




At aged two and a half years my mother and father were divorced and I went to live
with a couple that took in children from broken homes. There were eleven boys
there and I was the only girl. We all called the couple mother and dad and they were
very good to us although quite strict. They were Mr. and Mrs. Brandon; I don’t
remember their first names. Their own children were grown and married. There
was also there living with them a woman, Mrs. Brandon’s sister. We called her
“Aunt Grace.” She also helped take care of all of us.

At age 5 my mother and dad remarried and I went back home to live with them.
However I would go back to the Brandon’s every weekend and all summer each
summer until I was 13. I loved all the kids there and still wanted to be with them. I
went to 15 different grade schools because my dad had to take whatever jobs he
could get at the time because things were “tough” in those years right after the
“great depression” and we had to move often to where he was working.
On one occasion my Dad took a job on Catalina Island as a cook and my mother
waited tables at the same restaurant for tips. She made no salary. During this time
at Catalina, I was about nine years old. Twice a week, down at the beach, the
Lifeguards held a swimming race for kids up to 10 years old. There were 6 or 7 kids
in the race. They took us out a ways from shore and we all dove in and swam for the
sandy beach. I won the race almost every time and the reward was 50 cents.

Then, my cousins and I would go to where the “steamers” (the Avalon, the Catalina
and the Cabrillo) would come in from the “mainland” and as they were docking and
the people would be gathered at the railings on them, we would wave and the people
would throw coins, pennies, nickels, dimes and an occasional quarter and we would
dive and recover them as they floated downward.

Another move was because my dad wanted to try his hand at “gold mining.” We
moved to Cosco Camp near Cosco Junction not far from Death Valley. My dad had
an Austin automobile and to get to Cosco Camp you had to drive over a dirt road
with ruts from other cars. The Austin had a narrower space between its wheels so
we often got stuck because one wheel was in one of the tire ruts from larger cars but
the other would just spin around in the sand.

At Cosco Camp we lived in a one room stone cabin with a galvanized metal roof.
The roof would blow off in the high winds there and my dad would have to go find it
and put it back on. We got our drinking water from a stream that ran about a half
mile away. We also had a large tank that we filled with water, I don’t remember
how we filled it but the kids there would come and we would swim in it.

Finally my dad decided that gold mining was not going to be the “bonanza” he had
hoped for. He took a job with Payne Furnace Company doing service calls on
furnaces. We moved to Los Angeles and rented a house at 3435 Third Avenue. I was
13 years old and began attending Foshay Jr. High School.
To buy my own school clothes and other personal things I began doing house
cleaning in the neighborhood – three hours for fifty cents. I also did baby sitting at
night for 50 to 75 cents per “sit.”

At summer vacation I met my future husband, Albert Portune while playing ping
pong at the grade school activities on 6th Avenue. He had completed his freshman
year at Dorsey High School which I began attending in the fall of that year. This was
the “the beginning” of our “romance” and all of the other things we did, mentioned
in another section of this writing.
                           THE BEGINNING

This is the beginning of my (Albert’s) first contact with Derith Margaret
(Margie) Bender who was to become the love of my life and my wife
of now 69 memorable years.

I was 14 years old, nearing 15, the second son of Albert Jacob
Portune and Bessie Violet (Connely) Portune. We lived in a middle
class neighborhood on the Southwest side of Los Angeles California.
Our address was 3661 3rd. Avenue.

I was sitting on the front porch of our home there with one of the
neighborhood boys, a slightly older lad named Bill Smith. On the far
side of the street a girl of about our age was walking north, probably
headed for Jefferson Blvd. where most people in our neighborhood
shopped. She was dressed in white sharkskin slacks and a colorful
halter with bare arms and mostly bare back. Her hair was strawberry
blond and was shining in the sun. To me she was about the loveliest
thing for a girl, in my own budding appreciation for girls, that I had
ever laid eyes on.

Bill Smith saw her too and also appreciated the “view.” Since we had
touched on the subject of girls in our earlier conversation, a
conversation in which I had “strutted” my own imagined prowess, Bill
said, “Oh yeah?, I would like to see you “rate” with her.” I didn’t know
who she was but somehow I resolved that somehow I would show Bill
Smith that I “could indeed” rate with her somehow.

She was Derith M. Bender, called Margie at the time, and had just
moved into our neighborhood about two blocks south of where I lived.
I saw her several times after that walking up the far side of the street
and tried to figure out how I could get to know her – and I was too
bashful or self conscious to just say hello or go over and speak to
her. But my opportunity came.

I had formerly attended a grade school in the neighborhood – Sixth
Avenue School – about half a mile from where we lived. It was
summer time and summer vacation for students, but the grade school
had a summer program at the school with various activities for kids of
all ages. So, since I went there occasionally to play ball or other
games, I went there on a certain day. And, lo and behold, who should
I see but “Margie.” Here was my opportunity in an environment in
which I could meet her. I have always felt that there was some force
that was seeing that we met and “connected” since it has been such
a major part of my life and it all happened so providentially.

She was playing ping pong, a game she liked and came to the school
to play. So, I went over to where she was playing and managed to get
a game with her. There was some kind of immediate resonance
between us that made me all warm and fuzzy inside and we hit it off
quite well and discovered that we both lived on the same street. So,
after the recreation period, since I had ridden my bicycle there I
asked her if I could ride her home on my bicycle. Strangely she
accepted, something that seemed unusual to me, and I rode her
home on the handlebars and found out where she lived. Thus it
began and how wonderful it was to “be in love” because I think I loved
her from the first time I ever saw her.”




I began riding down to her house to see her. I met her mother, Esther
Margarite (Peggy) Bender and her Dad, Durward Franklin (Dee)
Bender. Dee worked for Johnston Furnace Co. doing service calls
mostly floor furnaces and some early basement furnaces plus he
worked as a short order cook at nights. I seemed to spend most of
my time at their house just to be with Derith. It was there one evening
after riding our bikes together it was getting dark and time for supper
so I was about to leave and ride my bike back home. We were sitting
on our bikes with mine pointed toward home and hers pointed in the
opposite direction. We were very close to one another under some
leafy Poplar Trees out on the front sidewalk with moonlight filtering
down between the branches. It was a warm summer evening. I was
reluctant to leave but was about to do so when “Margie” stopped me
and turning to look me in the face said: Do I have to ask you to kiss
me?” I had surely wanted to but somehow hadn’t had the courage.
SO, I did and it was like the world was electric and I was the light bulb
it was turning on. So, we had our first kiss and I “sped off” and rode
my bike on air all the way home. Nothing was the same after that.

“Margie” and I began doing some things together. One of the most
pleasurable and memorable things we did together was to go to
church on Sundays. It wasn’t so much to be religious etc, but just to
be together. There was a Pentecostal church up on Jefferson, about
two long blocks from where we lived. We would get “dressed up” and
walk together up to that little church. Just walking together was a thrill
and like somehow “being in a movie.” We didn’t know what
Pentecostal meant nor did we care. It was a place we could be
together and that was all that mattered. We liked the singing and
learned a lot of hymns there.

During the “sermon” we would take a hymn book in our laps and
circle letters that spelled out to each other things like: “I love you” and
other things like that. Even after many, many years we still remember
those “church days” together and how wonderful they were to two
teenagers in love. But somehow “church” and the “aura” of church
and something larger than “normal” life rubbed off on me.

We often went to the “picture show” on Saturdays at a little theater on
Jefferson called The Home Theater. It cost a dime to go to the double
feature which also included a serial of Flash Gordon as well. You paid
a dime and would get a candy bar going into the movie and an ice
cream bar when you left. What a bargain that was even though dimes
were hard to come by for either of us in those days.

But it wasn’t the movie or the candy bar or the ice cream that was the
real thrill of “going to the movies.” It was that we would always sit in
the very back row and in the corner where the seats ended at the
wall. It was “private” there, so we told ourselves. But there we could
snuggle together, hug a little, pet a little and kiss often. We never
seemed to tire of those times and went as often as we could “afford.”
One day at my house my mother saw me with my arms around
“Margie” and said, “Why I didn’t know you kids felt that way about
each other.” Little did she really know how we felt? Those days were
“golden days” – days we will never forget.

“Margie” and I rode our bicycles together in those early years. We
went to the skating rink, to the shops on Jefferson Blvd., to summer
activities at the school grounds and other places. One day we rode to
Exposition Park, about 7 miles from our neighborhood. It was called
Exposition Park because it was where the 1932 Olympic Games were
held. They had built the Los Angelus coliseum, the huge Olympic
pool and diving building and other facilities for those games. I can’t
remember just why we rode there, but it probably was to go to the big
pool there that looked like a small ocean it was so big. We left our
bicycles at the entrance. In those days we were more trusting than
today. We didn’t have locks or chains for our bikes but had
confidence they would be safe.

However when we were ready to go home our bicycles were gone. It
was very upsetting and we were both very shook up. We began
looking around and not far away we found Derith’s bike but mine was
nowhere in sight. We searched for a long time and asked people if
they had seen my bike. But it was gone and I thought for good. We
couldn’t ride double all the way home on Derith’s girl’s bike, so,
having only 10 cents between us Derith took the street car home and
I rode her bike home. I remember being embarrassed to ride a girl’s
bike in public but nobody seemed to notice. So, that “adventure”
came to an end, except that about three weeks later we got a notice
from the police department that my bike had been found abandoned.
They were able to locate me as the owner because I had a bicycle
license on my bike. So we went down to the police station and I had
my bike back.

                     MY NEW BROTHER, JOHN
About this time my dad had “had enough” of living with my
grandfather and grandmother who made life miserable for us kids but
mostly my mother. He had quit working for Postal Telegraph because
it was a declining company and Western Union Telegraph Co. was
expanding. He got a job with Western Union and had regular working
hours and better pay. So we moved out of the Third Ave. house
leaving it for my grandfather and grandmother. We moved to
Inglewood, California which was a nice clean little town. I began my
first year in High School there. We rented a nice small house on a
large lot at 525 Flower Street. It was such a wonderful change. Dad
had weekends off most of the time and there were no more tensions
and arguments with the grand parents.

I was 14 years old, or thereabouts, when we moved to Inglewood. My
mom, I learned later, had a “tipped uterus” and had been told she
could have no more children so no “protection” was employed by my
parents because there was no potential for pregnancy. One weekend
dad and mom went to look at some new houses that were being built
in a small “tract” not far from our neighborhood. They were walking
through one of the houses and there was an open hole in the floor
that had been cut to install a floor furnace. My mom apparently didn’t
see it and inadvertently fell into the hole. She was not seriously
injured but had a sore back and some abrasions for a few days.

However shortly thereafter mom suspected that she had become
pregnant. On visiting the doctor it was verified that indeed she was
pregnant. The doctor knew of her tipped uterus and on being told
about her “fall” into the furnace hole concluded that somehow in the
“fall” some change had occurred and made the pregnancy possible. A
few weeks, maybe a month or so, later my mom was not feeling very
well because of being anemic. She had had that problem for some
time. On visiting the doctor he in both examining my mom and also
checking the “baby’s” progress – which wasn’t very good –
recommended “taking the baby.”

Both mom and dad didn’t agree because they felt the process might
kill both mom and the baby. So they went on with the pregnancy and
my mom carried the baby to “term.” Hence, finally, my second brother
was born and given the name John Edward Portune. But what a
pathetic little figure he was when he was born. He had yellow
jaundice, was underweight and quite feeble even for a newborn. The
doctor didn’t give him much of a chance of survival. But, something
happened that had a big effect on the outcome and future of my new
brother, John.

                      A GRAVE INTERRUPTION

My Dad got offered a full time and better paying job at Western Union
Telegraph Co. The only “rub” was that the job was at the Western
Union office in Needles, California near the Colorado River. He took
the job for the family’s sake and we moved to Needles. I missed
Margie like crazy but we “held on” to our togetherness in writing
letters. Derith still has all of those letters and reads them from time to
time. I wrote a lot of crazy and vanity filled things in those letters. One
day when I signed my name at the bottom I put a P.S. that said – this
is the signature you’ll see one day on million dollar checks. Odd, but
that prediction actually happened later when I was business manager
for the Worldwide Church of God and signed all the checks there.

Needles was “one hot place.” The temperature got up to as high as
120 in the summer time, and it was summer when mom, Frank and
my recently born sickly brother John got off the train there to join my
dad who had been there several weeks already. The train was air
conditioned and when we disembarked and were hit with that kind of
heat I couldn’t believe it would be possible to live under those
conditions. Dad had rented a house there for when we were to join
him. A friend of my dad’s took us to that house in his car. The house
was at 323 Acoma Street in Needles, walking distance for my dad to
the Western Union office.

Entering the house it was considerably cooler. There were two
window evaporative coolers running and they made a difference. It
was probably 80 degrees or so in the house but that was a big
difference from the outdoor heat. My mom was anxious to get John
into the house because she thought the heat might kill the poor little
guy. Those first few days were difficult and we stayed indoors most of
the time. But soon we began to get used to the heat and we began to
learn to live with it. It was summer and it was summer vacation for
school attendees. Nevertheless we went to the Needles High School
and where Frank and I registered so that when fall came we could
begin attending.

My dad contacted a doctor there in Needles and asked him to come
out and take a look at John, which he did. He told both my mom and
dad that he didn’t believe John would live much longer. We were all
quite sad. In the mornings I would take my little baby brother, John,
out in his buggy and walk him up and down Acoma street even
though it was quite warm. We began “sunning” him for a few minutes
each day in his buggy with no clothes on. Somehow that dry desert
heat was like a tonic to John. He seemed to be getting a bit stronger
and was taking more “formula” and eating a little baby food that I
used to like to feed to him. I also often changed his diapers, talked to
him and sing a little song to him that I made up called “Oh Johnny,
Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny John-John.” I had come to love my little
brother very much and deeply wanted him to live and not die.

All of us were overjoyed when he began to smile and laugh a little
and kick around in his crib. After a couple of months the yellow
jaundice had disappeared and he had a more normal color. He was
also gaining a little weight. The doctor came again about this time
and couldn’t believe it. He said it was a miracle. Well, he fully
recovered and later began to crawl and then walk – he was on his
way. I am convinced the clear desert air, the dry heat and, of course,
special love and care helped immensely.

But more than that there was a dimension in life that John was to
fulfill and there was an unseen providence in his survival. I think if we
hadn’t come to Needles he would have died. My dad, because of all
the worry and long trauma with John, became so attached and close
to John that in ensuing years John became very special to my dad,
as he always has to me as well.
We were two years in Needles, California. I attended High School
there and was in a High School play called “Billy’s Tombstones.” It
was about a high school boy with two missing front teeth and a partial
bridge work of two front teeth, which he constantly lost. I also sang in
a group that presented a Christmas program of Christmas songs. I
spent a lot of time at the Western Union Office where my dad worked
and I learned the Morse code and a lot about electricity. I also worked
for the Western Union Office delivering telegrams on my bicycle. I
would often meet the Santa Fe Super Chief on its way to Chicago
with a telegram
for a passenger. I delivered one telegram to Edward G. Robinson on
the train.




The Biggest Santa Fe Engine was the 3765 series. What a sight
when it came rumbling down the track into Needles. Needles was a
major stop over center of Santa Fe railroad for the steam trains
traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago. The trains would come in and
they would service the big steam engines. I used to spend hours
down at the Harvey House and watch the trains come through.

After leaving Needles the trains had to climb the “Oatman Grade”
which was a long climb up into Arizona. Often the freight trains
couldn’t make it up the grade. They had a system of whistle signals
that could be heard back at Needles and when a freight train couldn’t
make it they would signal back to Needles on their whistles and they
would send a “helper engine” out to help them get up the grade. I
learned all of those whistle signals and often at night in bed I would
hear the signals and knew what they were doing. But all in all the
time in Needles was just an “interlude” until I could get back to my
“Margie” whom I “pined for” most of the time.

My dad got word from a former co-worker that he used to work with at
Postal Telegraph that General Petroleum Corp. was looking for a
telegrapher and communication man to be the head of their
communication office in the Higgins Building in Los Angeles. So, he
applied for the job and went to L.A. for an interview. He was accepted
for the job, which was an increase in salary and a more prestigious
position. We then made the move back to Los Angeles and moved
back in to the old house on Third Avenue with the grandparents. We
only stayed there long enough to find a rental house which we did on
the same street about a block and a half away. We called it the
Pitman house because that was the name of the people we rented
from.

Of course I had told Derith (Margie) on the phone that I was coming
“home” again, so as soon as I could I went to see her again. Well,
even though she had dated a few other “guys” in my absence we
soon were close and “steady” again. We both attended Dorsey High
School together for about a year but Derith’s dad had an opportunity
to start his own heating company in Santa Ana, because a building
contractor there, Bill Russell Construction, that built a lot of tract
houses, wanted DEE Bender to install all the floor furnaces for his
tract houses. So, Derith’s folks, Dee and Peggy bought a house at
315 E. 17th Street in Santa Ana. It was a nice 2 bedroom home on an
acre lot with walnut trees growing behind the house on the rest of the
acre.




So Derith moved to Santa Ana and began High School there. Derith’s
dad, Dee, converted the garage and built another shop building
behind the garage to accommodate the sheet metal tools and other
supplies for his heating business, Bender Heating. Derith’s
grandmother, Hilda Linden, Peggy’s mother also lived with them. Dee
Bender fixed up the back bedroom of the house by adding a small
bathroom and a little “kitchen” made out of an outdoor closet that
faced the bedroom. He also made an entrance through that little
kitchen to the outside so she had a private entrance. “Grandma
Linden,” as we called her, was a great “gardener” and she planted
many bushes and flowers out in the “walnut orchard” behind the
house.
I remember helping harvest the walnuts when, I was down there,
which was as often as I could in order to be with Derith. With a long
pole that had a hook on the end we would grab a branch and shake it
and the walnuts would fall to the ground. Derith and her mom would
spend hours cracking walnuts and packaging the nut meats that they
would sell. They also had some chickens and would collect and
“candle” the eggs, put them old cartons saved from the grocery store
and sell them throughout the neighborhood. During summer vacation
I would often stay over and help Dee do service calls on furnaces. I
learned a lot about heating and sheet metal from Dee.

My mom and dad rented another house closer to Dorsey High School
on Buckingham Road. I graduated high school there. After several
different small time jobs on and off for about a year, I got a job at
General Petroleum at the Higgins Building where my dad worked. He
had told me that they were looking for “floor receptionists” and
building messengers so I applied and got hired. I started at $16.00 a
week which was pretty good for my age at the time. Derith and I
continued dating and going out although we had a few small break
ups where I dated some other girls and she dated some other boys.
On one occasion I drove to Santa Ana unannounced to see Derith.
When I got there in the evening she was out on a date with a “guy”
named George. When he brought her home I jumped in my car and
chased “George” around the block a few times and “drove him off.”

I was getting very serious about not wanting to share Derith with
anyone else, so we began a more serious relationship about this
time. I took her on a “special” date to the Palladium night club in
Hollywood one evening and out on a balcony we were alone and
embracing and kissing and I finally said to her that “We’ve just got to
get married.” In essence it was a proposal and thankfully and
gratefully she “agreed.” So we made plans to “elope” and go to
Mexico and get married without telling her folks or my folks.




So, we decided that I would drive to Santa Ana on a Sunday morning
on the pretext that we were going out on an “all day” date to do
various things. Derith’s folks were used to us going out so it was
nothing unusual to them for us to spend a whole day together as we
often did. We drove to the border, crossed into Mexico into Tijuana.
We drove around just looking for a place where they would perform
marriages. Mexico weddings happened all the time, even with
celebrities going down to Mexico to get married quickly, it was kind of
a “romantic and adventurous thing that happened often.

In Tijuana we soon saw several places with signs saying weddings
performed immediately or “get married here in one hour” and the like.
So we selected one that looked inviting and went in. We told them we
wanted to get married. They didn’t act as if our being quite young, as
we surely were, was any problem, so we sat down and got the
“details.” We learned that Mexican marriages of this kind were what
they called “proxy marriages.” They made out “papers” that WE were
authorizing two other people who were going to be our proxies or
“stand ins” to get “married for us” in Mexico City. They said it was
perfectly legal and that it was the same as if we had been married
instead of the proxies. They made out a certificate of marriage and
told us that when we signed the certificate we were actually legally
married because the proxy marriage would be dated as happening at
the time we signed the certificate. So, we signed all the papers with
the appropriate “affirmations” that we desired to be husband and wife
etc, etc. We paid the fee which was ten dollars which was a large
enough amount to be profitable for the “marriage houses” of Tijuana
in those days. So, we became legally “man and wife” on April 5,
1942.

We were both a little disappointed that there wasn’t a conventional-
like wedding ceremony, but they all smiled and shook our hands and
congratulated us, so we accepted that “this” was the way many
others “did it” in Mexico and we left to go back to the U. S. About
sunset, after we were back in the San Diego area we got something
to eat and then found a motel and got a room. It certainly wasn’t a
conventional “honey moon” but as far as we were concerned the few
hours we spent together in that motel “consummating our marriage”
were as wonderful as if we had been on a Hawaiian beach with
guitars and ukuleles playing. It is hard to express how warm, lovely,
exciting and fulfilling it was to embrace “my wife” and as Kris
Kristopherson sings in one of his ballads, “Holding “HER” warm and
tender body close to mine.” Later, about nine or ten o’clock PM we
drove back to Santa Ana and I dropped Derith off a here home on
17th street just as if we had had a nice “date day” together. We said
nothing to her folks.

I went back to our family home on Buckingham place and tried to act
“normal” but it was hard after the “wonder” I had just experienced. A
few days later my mom inadvertently found our marriage certificate in
the jacket I had worn as she was checking for clothes to be washed.
I’m afraid I didn’t take enough care to hide it and in fact I had
probably forgotten it was there since my head was in a spin. Anyway I
had to confess to her what had happened. Derith had not said
anything to her folks. Derith came up to our Buckingham place on the
weekend to see me, not knowing what my mom had discovered. I
had to tell her when she got there and we had nothing else but to go
back to Santa Ana and tell Derith’s folks. When we got there we said
we wanted to talk to “Dee and Peggy,” Derith’ mom and dad. We sat
down together around the dining room table.

Derith said to them: “We’ve got something we want to tell you.”
Derith’s mom then said, I guess because she knew pretty well how
we felt about each other – “You want to get married!!” Then Derith
said: “We’re already married!” There was a shocked silence. Then we
explained about our previous week end outing and how we had gone
to Mexico and gotten married. Then Derith’s dad, Dee, began to cry.
He then emotionally said that he had always hoped for a nice
wedding for his only daughter. I don’t remember the exact
conversation that followed, but as a result and because we wanted to
do whatever we could to “smooth over” our desperate need that had
taken us to a Mexican wedding, we agreed to tell no one else but
them and my folks that we had gotten married in Mexico and to plan a
formal wedding.

That seemed to “clear the air” because Dee Bender was going to be
able to see and have the nice wedding for his only daughter and
Derith’s mom got enthusiastic about sending out announcements and
doing all the things moms do when their daughters get married. So,
the announcements were sent that we were to be married on May 17,
1942. There were phone calls from relatives who were surprised
Derith was going to get married so young – she was only 18.
Derith and I began looking around in the Los Angeles area for a place
to live after getting married. We found a “very small” apartment, which
was actually only one room with a bathroom and a very small kitchen.
There was a “let down” bed that you pulled down from the wall and a
couch and easy chair and a few other furnishings. We paid the first
month’s rent in advance. It was $29.00. So, we were excited to “have
our own place” to come to after getting “officially” married. The
address was 2808 Hillcrest. It was about 5 miles from where my folks
lived.

There was a nice wedding chapel in Anaheim called Capilla de San
Antonio that had a lovely garden setting for weddings. We arranged
for a garden wedding there. Fortunately there was a wedding
preceding ours that morning. Our ceremony was to be at 4:00 PM so
the flowers that had been used at the morning wedding were left for
us to use. They were very nice and we got them all for free.

The night before the wedding I stayed at the Bender home. The
husband of the girl who was to be Derith’s matron of honor, Adolph
Schnaze, a long time friend and Howard Hill another close friend and
Ellis Bender younger brother to Dee Bender, tried to get me to go out
and get drunk saying it was the conventional thing to do before
getting married. But I was “on to them” and didn’t go out and get
drunk. Rather, I stayed home and we ate peanut butter sandwiches
and drank coffee and stayed up late, and even when I went to bed I
couldn’t sleep, anticipating the next day.

So, the following day it was “wedding time.” I had gotten a black
broadcloth suit and Derith had a borrowed wedding gown that was
very pretty even though it was a little big for her and she had to “pad”
it a bit. The minister who married us was from a local church that we
attended from time to time, a Rev. Nelson Hinman, a real nice
younger pastor. My best man was my brother Frank and Derith’s
matron of honor was Barbara Schnaze. My “little brother,” John was
the ring bearer and the flower girl was Geraldine “jerry” Hill daughter
of Howard and Velma Hill. So the ceremony went off as planned and
everyone congratulated us.
Since we didn’t have a car at this time we returned to Derith’s folk’s
home in Adolph Schnaze’s car. We had planned a “reception” there
at their home and held it out in the back yard area in the nice garden
that Grandma Linden cared for. When we arrived they were waiting
for us and they honked their horns, shook our hands and smiled at
us. “Dee” made hamburgers on the brick barbeque and along with
baked beans, potato salad and orange juice we had a nice
celebration. There were 75 people there, it was a nice reception.

After the reception we went to the Trianon Ballroom, a nice “night
club like” place where they had dancing and orchestras. Several
close friends went with us to celebrate including Adolph Schnaze and
his wife Barbara who drove us to our little apartment afterward.
Although it was nice to go to the Trianon and have a few dances and
listen to the orchestra, I was anxious to “get home” to our own place.
It had been over a month since we had gone to Mexico and had our
“honeymoon night” at the motel and we had not been able to “be
together” intimately since so I was yearning “desperately” to REALLY
be husband and wife again.
So, Adolph and Barbara dropped us off at our own “home place” on
Hillcrest and we were alone at last. It is hard to describe my feelings
at just being in our own place, that at that moment, after all the
excitement and activities of getting married, the reception, the
Trianon and all that had gone before in the 40 days since our
elopement, It seemed more like a kind of hazy dream. But my
“Margie” was there in my arms and there was no other “world” but just
that little place and “us.”




Outside our first apartment on Hillcrest

Having no car at this time I rode the street car to work every day.
Derith walked to the market about a block away to get what she
needed for dinner. She made really good dinners for me and gave me
mostly carrots and peas for veggies most of the time because I had
never learned to eat many vegetables. She said that cooking in that
little kitchen and eating at a little shelf-like table against the wall with
two small chairs was like “playing house” because everything was so
small. But it was great nonetheless.
We just made it on my salary at General Petroleum but I soon
realized I had to “do better” because we had no car and couldn’t do
much else but stay home and listen to the radio. So, one day I went
to the Personnel Manager in the Higgins Building headquarters for
General Petroleum and said I just had to get a better paying job and
that I would take anything to increase my income of $16.00 a week,
having just gotten married. He was a nice and sympathetic sort of
fellow and knew my dad was communication manager. He said that
the only thing he could offer me was some kind of labor job at the
Vernon Plant where they made and packaged various greases and
oils.

He said they specifically were looking for someone to work at the
“Torpedo Oil” loading dock preparing shipments of torpedo oil for the
military in the early days of the war. The former man had been
drafted and was leaving. I asked what I might be paid if I was hired.
He said the job paid around thirty dollars a week. Wow, I thought,
thirty dollars a week, that’s over 120 dollars a month and I was
currently only earning about 70 dollars a month. So I immediately
said: “I’ll take it!” Well, I got the job and reported for work in working
clothes – I had previously worn a suit and tie to work as floor
receptionist and messenger.

I was pretty “soft” and out of shape the day they showed me what I
was to do. I had to sit out in the open sunshine on a raised platform
with a track of rollers running from one end to the other. On the track
were five gallon metal containers that came to a spot that was over a
scale. They were empty and above me was a long hose with a nozzle
out of which the torpedo oil would flow when I operated the handle on
the spout. I was to fill the containers while watching the scale and
turn it off when the proper weight in the container was reached. If you
didn’t turn it off in time the oil would “spray all over the place” and on
me as well. Or if you turned it off too soon you would have to keep
tweaking the handle several times to get the weight right – it had to
be exact. I soaked myself a few times but began to get the hang of it.
I soon developed a knack of turning the oil off at a certain place on
the meter on the scale and it would end up exactly at the right weight.
I got so good at it that I would fill the containers faster than they came
down the track. Someone said I was the best torpedo oil loader they
had ever had. Someone must have said something to the
Superintendent of the “Grease Plant” because he stopped by in his
Jeep one day where I was loading the torpedo oil and came up on the
platform. He asked me if I would like to go to work for him in the
Grease Plant. I wasn’t bashful so I asked him if it paid more than
what I was doing. He said it paid a dollar an hour. WOW, once again,
that was a nice jump in income, so I said I would be happy to come to
work in the Grease Plant.

Derith and I were on cloud nine. We will never forget the wonderful
memories of our first one room place that was our first “home”
together. But it was very small and we now thought we could get a
little larger place. So we went looking – on foot because we had no
car. We found a real nice apartment on Montclair St., just a few
blocks away from the Hillcrest place. It was an apartment in a small
residential apartment building and had a living room, kitchen,
bedroom and bath. It seemed just right for us so we rented it. The
woman who owned the apartment building also managed it. She was
nosey and one day she thought no one was home and let herself in
with her master pass key. But Derith was home and gave her a “piece
of her mind




In our new apartment on Montclair
We now also felt we could afford an automobile, so we went looking
for a car because we dearly missed having one. We found a 1937
ford two door sedan that looked almost brand new to us. It was blue
and the interior even smelled newish. We took it for a drive and it
drove like a dream. So, we bought it – on time of course. Next
weekend we drove to Santa Ana and took Derith’s folks on a long
drive. We were so proud and happy.




At the Grease Plant I worked a split shift, meaning I worked days for
a while than nights on the night shift. I got acquainted with the night
grease compounder, a religious man who acquainted me with Bible
scriptures. I helped him make grease at night even though I wasn’t
supposed to. I learned a lot from him. In the Grease Plant we had a
“hot room.” It was a room about 10 X 20 ft. It was heated to about 200
degrees; it was used to keep certain greases and other components
used by the grease maker in compounding various greases so that
they would pour more easily into the vats used for making grease.
Since I brought my lunch, I used to take cans of Campbell’s soup or
Nally’s beef stew and put them in the “hot room” when I came on
duty. At lunch time they were nice and warm and I would open the
cans and had a hot lunch. I became very good at the various
procedures in the Grease Plant and understood the overall
procedures very well. There was a constant problem with the
products we prepared for shipment and they would stack up and clog
our plant because the shipping dept. did not come often enough to
keep the area clear.

So one day, on my own without talking to anyone I “stormed” next
door to the shipping dept. and accosted the manager there and said
his dept. wasn’t keeping up as it should. He was a little angry but an
hour later the fork lifts came and cleared out the clog. He told the
Superintendent that I was a “fire brand” but that it was the first time
anyone had stood up to him from the grease plant.

The “draft” was taking a lot of our employees in the grease plant and
one day the manager of the grease plant call us together to tell us he
was leaving because he had been “called.” He got very tearful and I
felt sorry for him. A few days later the Superintendent called me into
his office and informed me he was making me manager of the grease
plant. He said that I was “very young” for the job but he considered
me the best man he had for the job.

My job as manager lasted about two months and then I had to do as
the former manager did and call the other employees of the grease
plant together and tell them I was leaving to “answer the call” too. It
was a sad day for me as well. It was the end of “the beginning.” It was
the end of what had been some semblance of a “normal life” because
nothing was ever the same or like “that beginning” had been. But I
now know that a providence was at work in my life leading me to an
understanding that all these experiences in my life were a prelude to.
Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time I now know that the next
period of my life was somehow going to be necessary.
                                 THE WAR YEARS

As a newly married young man of 20 with a lovely young wife of 19 the enormity
of a war that was beginning to cast a shadow over the whole world, reality struck
home to me the day the mail brought a summons to the “draft.” I was being called
into the service of my country. Having been married less than nine months the
thrill and bliss of those first months together in our own little apartment was still a
“wondrous time” for “two kids,” because that is what we really still were and
totally oblivious to what the years ahead would bring.

It is different now, looking back and knowing all the things that have happened
since then, but back then there was much to be sorrowful about and much to fear
from what might lie ahead. From about 1939 until that day when my draft notice
came I had been aware of how things were going in the world with the gradual
take over of Europe by the Nazi machine and the dreaded Blitzkrieg, the “Axis”
power that added Italy and the pounding of England and what looked like her end
as well. Then Pearl Harbor and Japan’s attack on the U.S. and the combined
joining of the power of the forces that seemed would take over the whole world.

It really seemed that the United State’s entry into the war was like a “backs
against the wall” time when it was all or nothing at all. It seemed like all the “take
for granted things” were no longer “right there” like they had always been. Our
invincible naval fleet was decimated and virtually destroyed at Pearl Harbor; the
West Coast was open for invasion without sufficient armed forces to repel an
attack. Ration stamps for things that were no longer easy to pick off the shelves.
Gasoline stamps and window stickers were now the order of the day. Even
“Lucky Strike Green had gone to war.”

The Luck Strike cigarette package had had a lot of “green” on the package but
something in the ink was being used in some kind of munitions manufacture and
was no longer available to the Lucky Strike company so they took the green color
off of the cigarette package and in their advertising at the time made a big play
that “Lucky Strike green has gone to war.” And, now “I” had to go to war. Well, I
felt patriotic too, but to leave this “little bit of heaven” that “we” had shared for
such a short time was like part of my very heart had been “blitzkreiged.” But there
was no other way it could be, no matter how sad or unfair it might seem.

Well, I didn’t feel that being drafted into the Army was “my cup of tea” so I
decided to enlist elsewhere before I had to report to be inducted. So, I enlisted in
the United States Coast Guard which in war time became a part of the U. S.
Navy but commands utility ships rather than war ships. Somehow ships and the
blue sea seemed far more attractive than being a foot soldier with dirt and dust,
long marches and the like. I had had a little experience of what the “Army” kind of
experience might be. When I was sixteen I signed up to enter the National
Guard. I lied about my age to get in because a group of the neighborhood boys
who were of age were going to join and I wanted to be a part of what “the gang”
was doing.

We trained one night a week learning to march, handle a rifle, and polish our
boots and the like. But finally we had to go on two week maneuvers up in
Washington State. That was a “grim” experience for a sixteen year old trying to
be eighteen. Forty mile marches, crawling in the dirt with a rifle cradled in
outstretched arms and living on K-rations washed down with canteen water was
more than the “allure” of being a citizen soldier could stand for me. So, after
returning home and to “normal life” I just stopped going to the weekly muster.
They came after me because once in the National Guard you just can’t quit.
However my true age was disclosed and I was discharged because of “being a
minor.”

My brother, Frank, however remained in the local National Guard which was
mobilized and shipped overseas to fight the Germans. Frank spent three years in
the “army,” was in the “Battle of the Bulge” in Germany and had a very close call
being for a short time behind the German lines.

After enlistment in the Coast Guard I had a few days before I had to report for
duty. Those were sad days indeed. I had to tell my employer, General Petroleum,
that I had to leave my job. Derith, my “Margie,” had to make arrangements to
return to her folks home in Santa Ana and we had to say good by to our “little bit
of heaven” life and the beloved apartment we had shared together. Then, that
last good by to my wife, as I kissed her good by and got on the street car that
took me to the Coast Guard enlistment facility. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

From the induction center I was sent, with about 10 other enlistees to “boot
camp.” We took a train to Oakland, California and were met by a bus that took us
to Government Island, an island in Oakland Bay that was the Coast Guard
training center for the eleventh naval district. A “sailor” met us at the bus. He was
a first class Boson’s mate, I later learned, and he spoke to us as if we were some
kind of substandard degenerates. “Line-up there!” he said, “make a straight line!”.
Then he “marched” us into a room in one of the buildings. “Line up against that
‘bulkhead,’ he said. I didn’t know what a bulkhead was but later learned it was
what “normal people” call a wall.
Government Island, Alameda, CA, 1943

Here the impact of “another world” began. We had to strip to the skin and stand
naked against “the bulkhead.” Here I received my first “short arm inspection.”
Short arm inspection was the “crude” name given to an inspection of “private
parts” to be sure there was no venereal disease showing along with any vermin
and the like. Our “street clothing” and shoes we had to dispose of either by just
throwing them away on the spot or later sending them home. Mine weren’t “worth
much” so they went into the disposal bin.

Next a “public” shower and then receive our issue of “uniforms,” underclothing,
shoes, socks, “clothes stops,” little strings to tie up the changes of underclothing
in little rolls – the way you had to keep them in the canvas “sea bag” that became
the only place you could keep your clothing. We were told to dress in our
“fatigues” which I had to learn was another name for “undressed blues” or the
ordinary clothes you wore when you didn’t wear your “dress blues.” Then
“marched” again to a barracks building and assigned a “cot” in a three tiered
stack of metal cots.
My barracks, Govt. Island, 1943


Everything that led up to this “unprecedented” time in my life began to take its toll
on an immature and unprepared young man that had just been torn from his
early marriage and was confronted by a “world turned upside down.” A
substantial part of the naval forces of the U. S. had been destroyed at Pearl
Harbor. The might of the Axis powers, as they were called, namely Germany,
Italy and now Japan seemed to have a strangle hold on the world. The United
States did indeed have its back against the wall. It was unprepared and its armed
forces were antiquated and thin.

The Japanese were making “probes” at the Aleutian Islands and an invasion of
the Pacific Coast was virtually expected at any time. We had no forces that could
have stopped them if such an invasion had occurred. I later learned that Franklin
D. Roosevelt, our president, along with the “joint chiefs” had formulated a plan to
concede the United States up to the Mississippi River in a calculated retreat until
they could garner enough force to oppose the Japanese if they invaded.

For me it went deeper than just a fear of all that was impending. It was a new
kind of deeper realization of the depravity of mankind itself that could conduct
war, slaughter millions, deprive the world of peace and the gentle and peaceful
things like the marriage I had just been torn from and the pleasures of loving one
another and looking forward to a life of peace, order, harmony and love. I am
convinced that this very perspective of mankind and the experiences that came
in my years in the service and in a world at war was partially what led to my later
deep and profound search in religion for something that would bring the
recrudescence of that “awful spirit” in mankind and an ultimate world of peace.
But more of that later in its own place.

Boot camp was tough with learning to march, learn the “manual of arms” that
enabled me to handle a 3006 Springfield rifle and shoot it straight, wash my own
clothes, keep things neat and in order, how to row and handle a 12 man
Monomoy surf boat and endure a lot of chastisement for mistakes. One night,
early in the boot camp training and discipline, some of the guys got up during the
night and got their hands on some kind of booze and made a ruckus. The lights
came on and they made us pack all our things in our sea bags and line up
outside in front of the barracks.

Then we had to take our sea bags on our shoulders and march out to the
“grinder” which was the name for the large area where we would practice
marching. Then they made us begin to run “double time” around and around the
grinder with our sea bags on our shoulders. There was no stopping and we kept
running and running until men began to drop from shear exhaustion. I did pretty
well, although gasping for breath, until they finally called a halt. They didn’t try to
find out who made the ruckus, it was just one for all and all for one and that kind
of imposed a realization that if one was guilty all were guilty and made us kind of
“police” one another knowing we’d “get it” even if someone else was the culprit.
Everything was mechanical, cold and indifferent to feelings.

During this “Boot Camp” time I often would lie in my cot thinking about how
wonderful, warm and comfortable, happy, peaceful, caring and love-filled were
those few short months I had had with “Margie” in our own little apartment nest.
The contrast between the two ambiances was immense. I now know, although I
didn’t know it then, that later in life, especially in the religious experiences that lay
ahead I would again see this contrast. It was the contrast between the
competitive, selfish, greedy and lawless ways in the very nature and spirit of
most men and even in governments and large corporations and a profound
desire in me for honesty, fairness, order and peace which I always hoped would
be what I would experience in “the world” but usually didn’t.

When you go to boot camp you have no “rank or rating” but are considered what
“boot” really means – something or someone green, untrained and without any
understanding of Naval or military ways and when you enter boot camp you are
acutely treated as a true “dumbo” and novice. Truly, it is like entering “another
world” in which you are as “green” as a pea. However boot camp is really an
intensive training period in which you are introduced to a new way of life requiring
the learning of a whole host of military and naval procedures, capacities and new
abilities.

I didn’t realize how soft and “out of shape” I was even though I considered myself
to be pretty strong and in reasonable good “condition.” But lots of marching,
calisthenics, hard work, good regular meals, early to bed and early to rise and
classes in everything from tying knots to marksmanship, handling boats, handling
and cleaning firearms and strict discipline “shaped you up” pretty fast. I was
surprised that in spite of it all I gained some weight and felt physically better than
I ever had. Finally boot camp was over and there was a low level kind of
graduation exercise and the satisfaction of the three stripes on the cuff of your
uniform that indicated you were now a “Seaman first class.
But the “biggie” that we all looked forward to was our “first liberty” which meant
we could go off the base and out into the public after six long weeks in boot
camp. Not only that, and even though there would be more training and activities
at Government Island for as long as we would be there, we would have “liberty”
every week on weekends some times for one day, 24 hours, and others for two
days, or a 48 hour “pass.”

Although I had been able to write home and also get mail at “mail call,” we hadn’t
been able to “phone home” during boot camp. Now, I could call Derith and it was
wonderful to talk to her. We decided that she might come up to Oakland, CA and
be able to be with me on my “liberties.” So she came up on the bus and I was
able to meet her at the bus and we got a hotel room for that first night. It was kind
of like a “first night” all over again and so wonderful to be together again.

Later we found a place to rent in Berkley, a suburb of Oakland or San Francisco
where Derith stayed for as long as I remained at Government Island. My military
“pay” was very meager in those days and most of it I had previously made
arrangements with the “Paymaster” to be sent to my spouse. So, since money
was a bit scarce for us Derith got a job at a Manning’s Cafeteria in Berkley, so we
were able to “get by” O. K.

At Government Island those who completed boot camp were housed in a
different area and new “boots” would come in as we had done. From time to time
various ones would “ship out” to various new assignments, sometimes to ships or
to other bases elsewhere. I had been given a temporary assignment right there
at Govt. Island as a trainer teaching boots how to march and learn the “manual of
arms” which was handling their rifles. Somehow I had demonstrated a proclivity
for handling men in marching formations and in gun handling, so they used me
for a while in this way. I thought for a while that they might give me a permanent
assignment there which I felt at the time would be great because I could just stay
there and be with Derith.

But, it was not to be. One day I was called in to the Master at Arms office and
told I was being assigned to “mounted beach patrol” at Eureka, California, or
rather near there at a small Coast Guard station named Table Bluff Light. It was
a huge light house with a powerful light that warned ships of the nearness of land
that extended out to sea. It had also become a Coast Guard base for patrolling a
14 mile stretch of deserted coastline from Eureka on the North to the mouth of
the Eel River at the south end.

As I mentioned before an invasion of the West Coast of the U. S. was a real
possibility and the Coast Guard was assigned to patrol and watch sections of the
coast from Washington State to the Mexican border to keep watch for any enemy
activity and report such to higher authority. A lot of that vigilance and patrol was
being done by horse patrols along deserted sections of the coast. The war was
not going well for “The Allies” as the forces opposing “The Axis” were called. The
war in the Pacific against the Japanese was suffering many reverses and
England was being pounded by the Germans. Things did not look very promising
in those days. We all felt it and kept abreast of what was happening.

At “Table Bluff” there was, in addition to the Light House, a barracks and “galley”
(kitchen and dining area) for those stationed there, a stable for horses and a
small administration building where the Commanding Officer, an Ensign, lived
along with a first class boson’s mate who “bossed things.” Shortly after my arrival
there I was “assigned” a horse that I was to ride on “beach patrol” along with a
saddle and the other gear or “tack” as they called it to perform my duty. I learned
how to care for my horse; his name was Prince, my saddle and other tack.

The beach we were assigned to patrol was a 14 mile long stretch of deserted
beach extending from the mouth of the Eel River on the south to the jetty at
Eureka, CA on the north. Table Bluff and the lighthouse was a large hill in the
center of that 14 mile stretch of beach. The beach was strewn with huge logs and
remnants of pine and redwood trees that had, probably for centuries, been
washed from the wooded hills inland. It was a daunting sight to ride that beach at
night threading ones way between the surf and those old twisted and gnarled
trunks of old trees, some of which were 8 to 10 feet in diameter.
The northern stretch from the “Bluff” to the Eureka Jetty was actually only a spit
of land about half a mile wide separating the Pacific Ocean from a shallow inland
body of water several miles wide before it reached the actual coast. That “spit”
was only at it highest point about 10 feet above sea level or the level of the
ocean on the “sea” side. In heavy storms the ocean would wash clear over that
spit, so it wasn’t patrolled in heavy weather because it was too dangerous to ride
on the spit, or to be caught out on patrol when an unexpected storm arose.

I was given some “riding” instructions and a little “practice” for a few days. Then I
went on my first patrol. Two men went together on those patrols. We carried no
radios or other means of communication. We did have small machine guns in our
saddle holster. There was, however, a phone line stretched along the beach both
ways from the bluff. There were phone stations, actually only a 4 X 4 pole on
which a “crank phone” was secured. There were two stations on the north beach
and two on the southern beach. You had to check in with H.Q. on reaching each
phone station and report. They expected you to call at scheduled intervals to
show you were still “out there” on patrol.

Needless to say that after that first patrol of 6 hours, three hours each way north
and south, I was so sore the next day that I could hardly sit. However when the
evening came I had to “do it again.” It was agony and I had to walk my horse
more than I rode him. But in a week or so I had grown accustomed to the
“pounding” and had no more trouble – that way at least. We had to report lights
at sea and or anything else out of the ordinary. In those days it was the threat of
a landing or an invasion that was foremost on our minds. We each carried a
Reising sub-machine gun in our saddle scabbard and were to use them if we
encountered any small landing force. Otherwise we were instructed to ride
rapidly to the phone and report anything larger.

There was a “landing” by a small Japanese force on the beach section just south
of us. About 12 Japanese were landed from a submarine. They were not
discovered until a few days later. They had gone inland into the pine and
redwood forest and set up a small radio post. However they were discovered and
captured, thankfully. Also, a Japanese submarine surfaced off the coast of Santa
Barbara and shelled a refinery there. Invasion fears were still high.

It seemed as if I would be stationed here for some time so in talks with Derith
over the phone we decided she might come up to where I was and we could be
together again. So, she drove up in our 1937 ford. There was a motel just where
the road out to the highway from the base ended, so we rented a room that had a
little kitchen on a monthly basis and we could now be together on my “liberty”
days. It was great to be together again although it was not “like home” because I
could only see her once or twice a week.
About this time our whole Beach Patrol station was called to a meeting of the
Coastal Vigilance section of the military. We were given instructions and “orders”
of what to do in case of a substantial landing by Japanese forces on our section
of the coast. Our whole manpower force at the Beach Patrol station was about 30
men all told. Since the center of our patrol area was at Table Bluff any landing of
forces, especially if they were mechanized forces, on either patrol area north or
south of the Bluff would have to come to the only roadway inland which was the
road from the Bluff inland to 101 Highway.

We were to first report any landing and then to establish a skirmish line as soon
as we could across the road inland just above the Bluff. We had Reising sub
machine guns and regular army rifles and a few 45 caliber hand guns as our total
armament. Our “action” would be just a delaying action until additional army
forces would come to oppose the landing. The rest was left sketchy and
undefined so what our “outcome” would be was unsure. It is just necessary to
say that at that time things were tense and a bit scary for us. I am sure that other
patrol areas up and down the coast were also alerted in this same way, so we
just went on with daily patrol and hoped for the best.

Thankfully there were no landings or invasions while we were there at the Table
Bluff Light Station. We stayed there for about 8 months during which we had a
few activities and outings. We enjoyed “crabbing” out in the “jetty.” In a row boat
we would set out crab nets baited with dead fish at various places. We lowered
the nets to the bottom with a rope attached to a buoy and let it sit for a time. We
set out 3 or 4 nets then filled an old oil drum with sea water and put it on a huge
fire to boil the water. Then we would go out and pull up the crab nets which by
now had a whole bunch of crabs in them. We brought them back and put them in
the boiling water until they were “cooked” then we feasted on crab legs along
with crackers and mayo washed down with beer. It was fun.

Derith had a lot of time on her hands because I had to stay at the base except for
when I had liberty two or three times a week to be able to be with her. She got a
job working at a “general store” in Loleta for $17.00 a week, which was welcome.
The store was “Shaffer’s General Store.” It was a store that sold everything,
groceries, tools, hardware, clothing and just about everything else. The only
other business of any import in Loleta as a creamery where the milk from local
farms was made into various dairy products.

After patrol one day I was handed an envelope that had come in the mail to the
Base. It was an order for me to be transferred to radio school in Atlantic City,
New Jersey. I had no idea that such was going to happen. However I learned
that because when I had made out a questionnaire when I first reported for
induction into the Coast Guard I had listed that I had had some radio experience
in amateur radio earlier on plus that I had learned the Morse code and knew how
to “telegraph.” So, I was to leave Table Bluff, return to “Treasure Island” in San
Francisco, the naval base there, and then go by train to Atlantic City, New
Jersey.

So, Derith returned home and I made the transfer and ended up at the Morton
Hotel, a hotel in Atlantic City that had been converted to a Radio School to train
radiomen for the Coast Guard. It all happened so fast that I was in a bit of a blur
but settled down to the classes that began almost immediately. It was kind of
nice to be freed from the cold, bitter and trying days of beach patrol and the
rather dirty environment of that service. There were 4 students, like me, in the
room we were assigned to in the hotel. We were all in the same class. There
were four classes running at the same time. Our class was #49 so I guessed that
there had been 46 or so classes before us that had gone through the school.

I rather enjoyed going back to “schooling” again and although I had been a kind
of “flake off” in high school I devoted myself to study rather industriously. There
was another incentive that I learned of after a few days. It was that the top
student in each class had the opportunity to go to “Radio Airman School” in San
Diego and become a radio operator aboard a Navy aircraft. This appealed to me
greatly because I had always wanted to fly, having been an ardent model
airplane hobbyist growing up. Also since San Diego was near home that was
appealing to me too. So, I really dug into the classes and got top grades.

I dearly missed my wife and after phone calls and letters since I was going to be
at radio school for six months, she wanted to come and be with me. So, she took
a Greyhound buss trip all the way across the country to come to Atlantic, City. It
was a five day journey but Derith stopped over in Chicago for two days to visit a
“pen pal,” a girl that Derith’s mother grew up with in Chicago. Chicago had one of
the worst snow storms in history at the time and Derith had only open toed shoes
and nearly froze her “feet off.” Derith had to change busses in New York to a
New Jersey bus.

In the restroom waiting for the New Jersey bus Derith fainted. It was here that
Derith first suspected that she was pregnant and it turned out that indeed she
was. I met Derith at the bus and we went to a hotel room I had rented in
advance. Next day we rented a room in a rooming house with a small kitchen
area over a drug store. This is where Derith stayed while I went to Radio School.
The drug store below the room served sandwiches and we often ate there. The
people who owned the drug store were very nice to us and gave us half-off on
the food. Derith would often get faint and nauseated in the drug store and we
would have to go out into the air. I got very scared and nervous when she got
these spells, especially when I couldn’t be with her, only getting liberty every few
days.

Finally after about a few months I felt Derith needed to be back home in her
condition so she left and took another long and arduous bus trip home. Derith
was bumped off the bus going home because they put service men first. In Texas
she was bumped and had only a few dollars to get home on. She was going to
sleep in the bus station but two Jewish girls that had sat behind her on the bus,
and who had been bumped as well, knowing her “condition” and that she was
planning to sleep in the bus station, invited her to share a hotel room they had
rented. They arranged for a rollaway bed for the room. Derith was very grateful
for their kindness. She finally arrived at home and I was very thankful that she
would get the care she needed that I couldn’t give her in the service.

I worked hard at radio school, thinking of the airman school. I ended up number
one in my class and was also made class president. I gave a graduation speech
on the final day. However when I requested the airman school they said the
school was no longer taking entrants. I later learned that there NEVER WAS
such an opportunity but that they just said there was to get students to try harder.
I was very disappointed and downcast. I had made a picture of me in an airplane
and had it by my bunk in the hotel all through the school. But because I had been
number one in my class they gave me the choice of naval districts to be sent to.
I, of course, requested the eleventh naval district because the HQ for the
eleventh district was in Los Angeles.

There was a little ceremony after graduation in which they gave us our Third
Class Radioman red strip for our uniforms. I was now what they called a “petty
officer.” Everyone got different orders to various places to be sent to. I got mine
too. It was to report to the Coast Guard Radio Station at Point Vincente near
Point Firmin in California, near Los Angeles harbor. I was given train tickets or
rather military passes for railroad passage and took a 2 day train ride “back
home.” On arrival I went first to the Bender home on 17th Street in Santa Ana to
see “my Margie.” She was “big” with child but a beautiful sight to me nonetheless.

When I reported to the C. G. Radio Station, along with another man from the
school, we were given some tests at taking code and tuning radios. I did very
well so they assigned me to the main watch, copying code messages and
monitoring teletypes. I thought because I was assigned to the main watch which
was what the permanent resident radiomen at the station did that I was going to
become
permanently assigned there, this would have been great because it was only
about 35 miles from Santa Ana. But it was not to be.

I remained at this station for about three weeks which allowed me, on liberty, to
see Derith. But one day, on watch, I was copying messages from the main
headquarters of the eleventh naval district. One of the messages was to the
commandant of the station telling him that I was being transferred to San
Francisco to be assigned to a ship there. When he got the message he told me
he was sorry I had to “copy” my own orders and that it shouldn’t have happened
that way. Once again I got railroad tickets and a time to take the train and leave
for San Francisco. I got special liberty to go home and tell my wife, which I did,
and it was once again a sorrowful separation.

I reported, as ordered, to Treasure Island which was a holding depot for Naval
and Coast guard personnel awaiting their ships. A few days later I went by bus to
the main harbor and to a ship tied up at a dock. It was the USS Alberio, one of
the “tin bucket” Liberty Ships being manned by Coast Guardsmen for
transporting cargo to various places in the Pacific Theater. It was an old, dirty
and well worn Liberty Ship and I was very depressed, anxious and wondering
what kind of lousy assignment this was.
The USS Alberio, San Francisco
Harbor 1943


I went on board, saluted the ensign on the fantail and reported to the officer of
the deck and gave him my “papers.” After examining them he called a Boson’s
Mate on watch there with him who took me below decks to a dark little cubby
hole at the end of a storage room and showed me a “bunk” where I was to sleep
and a place to hang my “sea bag” which one always carries with them with all
their “stuff” in it. The “bunk” was nothing more that a canvas hammock tied
between some metal poles. I never felt so “lost” as I did viewing what I thought
was to be where I would spend my nights.

Fortunately it was only where I was temporarily placed until I could be “billeted”
where the other radiomen were staying. The next morning I met the Chief
Radioman in charge of the Radio Shack and was given a reasonably comfortable
bunk very much like what I had had at boot camp, namely a two bunk high metal
frame with wire mesh “springs” where a mattress or I should say a “pad” was
placed, on which your blankets could be spread. Sheets were non-existent and
one slept between two “navy blankets.” They were pretty soft blankets and one
got used to them over time.

There were no “watches” to be kept in port but all the radiomen were at work
scraping old paint off the walls of the radio shack and repainting them. In a few
days the ship was “tugged” to another place in the harbor with the fan tail or back
of the ship nearly touching a huge floating “thing” I had no idea what it was. We
soon learned it was one-half of a “floating dry dock” and that we were going to
“tow” all the way to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii along with a full cargo of other supplies.
The next few days our “cargo” came on board. The holds of the Liberty ship were
crammed full and then a lot of machinery, tractors and bulldozers were put on the
deck and chained down.

We were so loaded that I couldn’t see how the ship would float. However I later
learned how the Liberty Ships “won the war.” They were built by the hundreds
and ferried all the needed supplies to the ships and stations in the pacific theater.
It was said that had it not been for the Liberty Ships our forces could not have
won the war in the pacific. Finally we were loaded and ready for sea. A huge
hawser or rope cable was secured to the back of our ship and we moved away
from the dock. After we were about 100 yards away from the floating dry-dock
that we were to tow, the hawser tightened and we were under way.

It took us three weeks to get to Pearl Harbor because we were making less than
5 knots an hour pulling the dry-dock. The weather was good and it wasn’t too
uncomfortable. We had our own little galley where we took our meals and the
food wasn’t bad although I got a bit tired of something they served regularly and
what everyone called “shit on a shingle.” It was a ground meat dish in heavy
gravy and put over toast. I got used to it and actually learned to like it.




The “galley” on the Liberty Ship


At sea there is no direct radio communication between ships at sea or from ships
to shore. That was because radio signals could be spotted and the source
located by enemy submarines. There were plenty of Japanese subs out there. So
the way any ship got messages, orders or information was via what was call “Fox
Schedules.” There was a huge and powerful main fox station back near San
Francisco. Its call sign was NPG. They broadcasted continuous coded messages
in five character code groups with a special coded heading at the beginning of
each message. Each ship at sea had a coded call sign and if there was a
message for your ship you learned it was for you by decoding the coded heading.

On our ship they didn’t allow any decoding in the radio shack so we had to not
only “copy” the headings but the whole message and send them all to the
decoding room. So on watch one copied ALL of the messages that came on the
“fox schedule.” Copying 5 letter code groups was boring, boring, but we did it
hour after hour. We also monitored the international calling and distress
frequency, 500 kilocycles, because ships in distress were permitted to break
radio silence to report an emergency like being torpedoed. One night I copied a
distress signal from another Liberty ship astern of us by 5 or 10 miles. It had
been torpedoed. I reported the message and shortly thereafter we changed
course and did a zig zag pattern the rest of the night. It was a scary night.

On deck forward not far from the bow of the ship was a big tractor. I began
climbing up on it and sitting in the driver’s seat when I was off duty. It was a nice
view from there over the ocean. I spent a lot of hours sitting on that tractor trying
to cope with a life of uncertainty, in a war that was not going to well for us and
with a lot of confused thoughts about life, the seeming unfairness of it all and
wondering if I would ever see my “Margie” again and wondering how the
pregnancy was going. I seemed to be continually filled with anxiety and
hopelessness. I found comfort reading a little New Testament of the Bible that
was given to all inductees. I had kept it for some reason and didn’t throw it away
as most others did.

The old grease compounder at the Grease Plant where I had worked had
familiarized me with the Gospels and the other books so I began reading about a
peace that came from being a Christian and believing in Christ and that there
was a better time ahead. I think I was “sowing the seeds” of a profound desire to
find the answer to life that more and more I thought might come from religion. My
life had been torn up pretty badly in the year and a half I had been away from
that warm peace and loving state of being married and having one’s own place
and not having to “toe the line” and answer to someone else’s beck and call, as
one did in the service. Frankly I don’t think my entire upbringing and home life
had in any way prepared me for what I was now experiencing.

Well, finally we reached Pearl Harbor and got rid of that “monster” that we had
been towing. They began unloading our cargo and since we were in an “acute
war area” we had to keep copying fox schedules, so we stood regular watches
even though we were in port. We did get liberty over the next week or ten days
and I took a bus trip over the Pali, a beautiful mountain pass on Oahu. On
another liberty I took time to go and view the wreckage of all the big battleships
that had been sunk in the Japanese attack. It was a terrible sight. All the twisted
metal and half submerged ships was a testimony to that terrible day on
December 7, 1941.

After seeing that wreckage I was getting on a bus to go back to my ship when I
saw a familiar face. It was none other than Adolph Schnaze an old friend from
home and one who had stood up at our wedding and took us home in his car. His
wife, Barbara was back home just as Derith was. We couldn’t believe we could
run into each other like this. I had no knowledge of what had happened to him
since I entered the service. He had been drafted as well but had joined the Navy.
He was stationed on a YTB which is a “Yard Tug Big” as they called them. He
was stationed on that tug boat doing service at Pearl. We had a nice short talk on
the bus but I soon had to get off and I told him what ship I was on and to come
visit me if he could.
A day or so later Adolph came to visit me on board my ship. I was on watch in
the radio shack copying fox schedules. They let him come into the radio shack. I
continued to copy the five letter code groups. We began talking and carried on a
very normal conversation while at the same time I was “taking code.” Adolph
asked me how in the world I could do that – copy and type code groups while
talking at the same time. I told him that it was almost automatic and that I had
copied so many thousands of code groups that the Morse code went to my brain
and my fingers typed the letter so automatically that I no longer had to focus on
doing it. I was not unique in this because almost all our radio operators could do
the same, but you have to have experienced it to realize it can be done.

Our ship was finally unloaded and we took on a “cargo” for the return trip. We
couldn’t go back to sea without a cargo or ballast otherwise the Liberty ship
would have too light in the water to navigate correctly. Our “cargo” for the return
trip was a lot of old deck plates of thick metal that were being salvaged off of the
wrecked battleships at Pearl Harbor. The return trip was uneventful. However
since after any cruise everyone is entitled to request a transfer, so I, not liking
Liberty Ship duty requested a transfer to be reassigned and was granted my
request. So, when the shipped docked in San Francisco I got orders to return to
Government Island to report to an advanced radio training session. I hadn’t
expected that but was pleased to get more training.

I was there about two months and got instructions on setting up various radio
networks and how to set up an emergency effort and how to head up several
radio stations at various locations by being the “director” of emergency radio
operations. I was given a rather large instruction book on various procedures and
I studied it intensively. In a “mock up” of setting up a “net” I was made “director”
and did such a good job in knowing the procedures I had studied that I got a
commendation. Since everything in that mock up was done using manual hand
sent code on a “key,” I got very good at sending and receiving that I was
complemented for. With that training over I was informed that because of my
performance I was being advanced to second class radioman. So I got my
second stripe and I was now a Second Class Petty Officer.

I was then sent back to Treasure Island for assignment. It is hard to imagine the
massive building I was sent to at Treasure Island where various “ratings” were
waiting assignments. It was a huge building that I am sure was as big as a city
block long and wide. In it were hundreds of racks of bunks. There were assigned
areas for different ratings. There must have been more than a thousand men
housed there. There were sections for radiomen, machinist mates, ordinary
sailors, radar men, clerics and every kind of rank you can imagine. For ships
being put into commission they would simply come with a roster and draw
whatever number and whoever they needed to make up a crew. They also came
for individuals and or groups. They came virtually any time of the day or night
because everything was so urgent in those days.
I was there for about a week and I spent the time getting all my clothes in order,
mended or replaced. Of course I called home and talked to “my beloved” who
was in the last days of her pregnancy. One night after lights out we heard the
usual commotion of men being mustered for a ship. They came to our area and
took me and five other radiomen outside. We joined what now was a large group
of men who had also been selected. They were of every rating across the board.
We were shuffled out to the parade field. On the parade field, it was blacktop;
there was a huge painted outline of a ship. The outline was divided into separate
smaller sections. The various ratings were placed in their appropriate “niche” on
the outline. Then they went around and checked, counted and recorded names,
rank and serial number. We were given slips of paper with our I.D. number,
name, rank and serial number and told to go back to the barracks and wait for a
call the next day to be transported to our new ship. None of us knew what ship it
was or what kind of ship or anything. They just didn’t tell you much and you often
felt like “cattle” being sent to the slaughter house.

Next morning we were called and then bussed to the docks where we discovered
the kind of ship we were going to be on. It was the general class USS Augustus
Washington Greely, AP 141. She was a troop transport ship. I have to mention at
this point that Coast Guardsmen were never assigned to fighting ships like
destroyers, cruisers, battleships or aircraft carriers. Rather they were assigned to
auxiliary ships such as Liberty ships, transports and the like. The “Greeley” was a
huge ship compared to the Liberty ship I had been on. It was brand new and had
just been commissioned a few weeks earlier. So, we were to become the first or
initial crew to ever man her.




The ship was not ready for sea yet but undergoing final work to get her ready. I
talked to Derith and she said the “baby” had to come soon since it was actually
overdue. So, I went to the executive officer of the ship requested a 48 hour leave
or pass to go home for the birth. I was granted the request and got my “pass.”
Leave or liberty passes had the dates and times printed right on them so that you
were “legal” to be off the ship and to travel.

I was able to get off the ship several hours before my pass was actually
scheduled and went to the airport. I tried to book a flight to Los Angeles on a
DC3 that was almost ready to leave. However when I showed my pass they
wouldn’t let me take that flight because it was not within the hours listed on my
pass. So. I waited a couple of hours and finally got a flight home. It was great to
get “home” for a few hours and see Derith. She was “as big as a house” but that
didn’t matter. However the baby didn’t come and I had to go back to the ship.

When I got back to the ship I learned of a tragedy. Our executive officer had
been killed in an airplane crash on the way to Los Angeles. I further learned that
he had taken the very flight that I was not allowed to board because of my pass.
Had I taken that flight I would have been killed also. I felt very strange. Next day
an “evil thought” came to me. I reasoned that the “new” executive officer might
not know of the 48 hour pass the former exec had given me. I wanted so
desperately to be home for Derith that I took the bull by the horns and went to the
new exec and requested a 48 hour pass. It was granted to I went home again but
NO baby, so I went back again to the ship

The Greely was 522 feet long and 72 feet wide. It had a crew complement of 494
men. For defense she carried 4 - 40mm antiaircraft guns and 15 - 20mm
antiaircraft guns. That was not much fire power but at least it was “something.”
The ship was badly needed for the assignment we were being sent on and even
though she was still not totally finished they hurried last minute touches and we
put to sea. We had no shake down cruise which is supposed to be done to iron
our wrinkles and find any faults. There wasn’t time, so we had to get organized
as we went.

At least the radio shack, which was on the very top deck, was in good shape and
we began our “fox schedules” again. Everything was new and had a new smell.
We learned that our destination was Sidney, Australia to pick up over 2000
Chinese soldiers who had been training in Australia in preparation for returning to
China to help out in the war effort there. So we spent the next week or so getting
the watches scheduled and getting acquainted. We had a Chief Radioman in
charge of “the shack.” He was an older man, perhaps in his 40’s and always
lamenting that he was losing his hair.

We had 10 female nurses on board who were bound for Sidney and an
assignment there. One night when I was on duty in the radio shack we heard a
lot of commotion, noise, music and laughter going on right outside of the shack.
The radio shack was on the top deck and there was a clear area there right
outside our door. I looked out and saw a “party” going on with a number of
commissioned officers and some to the nurses. They were drinking and dancing.
I was upset by this kind of thing going on and put a call in to the “officer of the
deck” and reported that it was disturbing our watch in the radio shack. Some time
later the commotion stopped and everyone was gone. The next day the radio
crew was invited to report to a cabin on a lower deck. When we got there, there
was an officer waiting with a case or two of cold beer. He just said that they were
sorry they had disturbed our watch and that everything had been corrected – and
hoped we would enjoy the beer. We did.

On our cruise to Sidney from San Francisco we had to cross the Equator. Typical
on all U.S. ships when a ship crosses the Equator all of the crew that have
already previously crossed the equator and are “Shellbacks” – the official name
for equator crossers – hold an initiation for those who have never crossed before.
Well, we had an “elaborate” initiation from being dunked in stinking tubs of water
filled with garbage, having your hair shaved off, and other “nasty” things. One of
the nasty things – that I hate to mention – was that a huge Boson’s mate was
sitting on a kind of throne in a “King Neptune” costume, and initiates had to do
obeisance – bow down to – a huge male phallic symbol – very degrading but a
huge “laugh” for the old shellbacks. It was a good thing that the female nurses
were “confined to quarters” for the “ceremony.” Well, at least I became a
“shellback.”

We had some very new and powerful radio transmitters in the shack and we
leaned how to tune them so that if we ever had to use them we would know how.
We arrived in Sidney and had to wait a few days for the Chinese troops to arrive.
We got one day liberty so I went ashore with another radioman and we just
looked around. We went to a bar and each had a “lime squash,” a gin drink
popular over there.

We took on over 2000 Chinese troops who totally filled the accommodations for
carrying troops. They were only given two meals a day because there was only
time enough in a day to prepare and serve one meal until it was time to begin the
next. Actually they were feeding all day long. The Chinese troops did not sit down
for meals. In line they would pass through the serving line with a tray in hand and
get it filled, or I should say “slopped” with food. Then they would move to “tables”
chest high and begin eating as they moved from one end to the other. They had
to be through their meal when they reached the other end because they then
dumped the tray and exited. It was a sight to see.

We learned we were bound for Calcutta, India where we would disembark the
Chinese. On that leg or our “cruise” we had to sail only about 150 miles off the
coast of Sumatra and Java which were Japanese occupied. We were being
accompanied by two Australian “Corvettes” or small destroyers that were to
escort us to Calcutta in case we needed to be defended from submarine attack.
One day I was on duty in the shack when “general quarters” was sounded. That
was a signal to go to areas that had been assigned earlier in case of attack.
Since I was in the radio shack I was where my assigned post was. We secured
the window hatches and the door, as instructed and tried to act normally.

A few minutes later the anti-aircraft 40 and 20mm guns began firing and the ship
was shaking from the discharges. We had no idea what was going on and were
somewhat frightened. We thought we might be torpedoed. This went on for about
ten minutes and then shortly thereafter general quarters were cancelled. We
breathed a sign of relief, but still were totally ignorant of what had happened. We
then learned that a Japanese air craft had flown over us that the guns were firing
at it. We were sure that our location had been reported and that any submarines
in the area would know where we were. Shortly after the ship changed course,
increased speed and began a zig zag course accompanied by the Australian
corvettes. This went on all night but thankfully we evaded anything that might
have been after us.

We woke up the next morning to very heavy seas and an increasing wind. By
noon we were being “tossed about” like a cork in a turbulent stream. Actually we
were caught in a typhoon, or hurricane as it is called in the northern hemisphere.
I went to the radio shack for my “watch” and could barely fight my way there by
holding on to railings waiting for enough calm between battering waves to be
able to proceed further. It was all we could do on watch to stay in our chairs, and
copying code or fox schedules was almost impossible. On one “relief” I stepped
outside of the radio shack door (hatch) and holding on took a look at the ocean. I
had never seen waves like that ever.

We were plowing directly into them because that is the only way to try to “ride
out” a storm. Turning sideways where the waves would hit you “amidships” would
turn the ship over like a bowling pin in the water. Looking forward over the bow of
the ship the waves looked like a mountain coming at us. The bow of the ship
would begin to rise as the wave approached and literally the ship would stand on
its tail going up it. But the wave would break over the bow of the ship and we
were taking solid water over the front half of the ship. The pounding tore a hatch
open forward and a crew had to be sent out to batten it down again. The men
were literally lifted off their feet when the ship went over a wave and plunged
down the other side. One of the men, I learned later, had his leg broken in the
process.

The two corvettes convoying us were about a half mile behind us following. I
watched as those monstrous waves washed over them. They totally disappeared
in the wave and then finally their bows would break out again on the other side of
the wave shedding water as they rose. Because we could not communicate with
them by radio because of “radio silence” at sea, they told us by “light signals” that
they were in danger of foundering or sinking. They asked permission to turn back
and run “with” the storm and get back to safer waters. Permission was granted
and they maneuvered between waves and turned back. We were now alone.
When the storm finally abated the ship was a mess. Perhaps the worst thing was
the smell coming from “below” where the Chinese
troops had been battened down without any fresh air. Most of then had become
sea sick and had vomited freely all over everything. Everyone had some “extra
duty” to do in getting things shipshape again. Fortunately all we had to do was
“tidy up” the radio shack again and not have to do some of the more disgusting
jobs.

Two days later we arrived at Calcutta, India and discharged the Chinese troops. I
felt sorry for them; they looked like a lot of lost children just being pushed here
and there like dumb animals. They were to somehow get transported, any way
they could, over he “hump” as they called it and into the Chinese area where they
would join the “fight” against the Japanese. It made me feel a bit more grateful to
at least be on a reasonably comfortable ship with a warm cot to sleep in and
regular meals, even if they, also, were often the sailors’ gourmet “shit on a
shingle.”

We got a couple of days “liberty” so I and another radioman went into Calcutta to
“see the sights.” We went to a giant outdoor market there that must have been
almost a mile square. We couldn’t believe what was on sale there. There were
hundreds of booth like spaces with every conceivable kind of merchandise for
sale. There were carcasses and partial carcasses of sheep, goats, pigs, foul etc.
just hanging up in open air. People would ask for certain “cuts” of the animal and
they would cut it off the carcass and wrap it in paper. There was no refrigeration.

The smell was rather foul of un-fresh meat but it didn’t seem to bother the
patrons. I guess this was the way meat was bought and sold and I presume sold
and cooked before it became totally foul. I don’t think there was anything you
couldn’t buy there. I bought a little brass decorative liquor set with a carafe and
four little cups to take home, if I ever got home again.

Out on the streets were many, many cows, which are sacred in India and they
just wandered everywhere. The streets were littered with their “droppings.” But
we saw something strange. In an alley like little street there was an elderly
woman who had been collecting the “manure” in a basket. She had a big pile of it
on the ground. She was mixing it with her bare hands and arms. We watched
and she made “cakes” about the size of a pie plate and then “pasted” them on
the wall of a building where there were already dozens of cakes drying in the
sun. We learned that these “cakes,” when dried out were used as fuel in a fire or
stove for warmth and cooking.

Walking around we were beset by many young children who would run up to you
and “poke you” and ask “Boxis Sahib” which we later learned meant “gift or
money sir.” Several of those young children had stumps of arms without hands
and poked you with the stump of their arm. We later learned, to our sorrow and
disgust, that the parents of some children purposely would amputate a hand so
that the child would look pathetic to a service man and get a gift more readily.
Actually, as we also later learned, those children brought more money home than
the parents could earn.

We heard about a place called “The Burning Ghats” where people were openly
cremated according to custom. Next day the same guy and I hired a rickshaw to
take us to the Burning Ghats. It was down at the River Ganges. We were
amazed at the little wizened man that pulled our rickshaw. He couldn’t have
weight more than 100 pounds, was skinny and probably at least 50 by the look of
him. Yet, he pulled both of us at a trot for at least two miles to our destination.
We felt sorry for him and no doubt overpaid him by the look on his face when we
gave him the coins.

We stayed a couple of hours at the Burning Ghats and watched. The families
would build a wooden pyre or platform with a lot of kindling and logs heaped
under it. Then they placed the “body” on top, covered it with some colorful cloths
and then set the whole thing on fire and sat down to watch with some chanting
and body movements. We saw several stages of this process going on at various
pyres around us.

When the body had virtually turned to ashes the family would collect “his
remains” and take it down to the river and with some kind of small ceremony
dump the ashes into the river for the current to take away. All we were able to
learn was that this process in some way religiously assured the family of the
deceased’s guarantee of a good “after life” of some kind. I, once again, realized
that this experience made me muse on just how many varieties of religion people
relied upon for comfort. Those people believed just as firmly that their brand of
religious reward and future was the “real thing” as do Christians and other forms
of religion.

We were a bit sickened by what else was going on down at the river in the same
place the “remains” were being dumped. People were bathing themselves and
their children in these “sacred waters” in various rituals. There were others
collecting buckets of water to take home for domestic purposes and there were
others “getting a drink” out of the same waters. I couldn’t help being amazed that
a religion could impel people to believe that these waters were sacred and could
be trusted because of that religion.

Next day our ship left Calcutta for our return to the States. We crossed the
Arabian Sea, sailed into the Gulf of Aden and then through the Suez Canal into
the Mediterranean Sea. It took over a day to pass through the Suez Canal and
“off watch” we saw the wreckage of many bombed ships strewn here and there.
Our destination was on the East Coast of the United States so it was a shorter
trip from Calcutta, India to go through the Suez Canal, through the Mediterranean
Sea, out through the Straights of Gibraltar and thence across the Atlantic to the
East Coast of the U.S.

We arrived at Newport News just before the first bomb was dropped on
Hiroshima, Japan. We had completed a “round the world” voyage and a few days
out of Newport News we had a “ceremony” on board in which everyone was
awarded a certificate as a member of the “Glorious and Illustrious Sons of
Magellan” an exclusive club for those making an around the world voyage. I had
earlier gotten a certificate as a “Shellback”, which is an award for crossing the
equator.

I was sent to a Naval Hospital after docking because of the symptoms I had been
having of anxiety that I had reported to the Sick Bay of our ship. While there the
second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan and the Japanese surrendered.
The war was over and without any help or treatment for my anxiety I was
discharged and sent home. It had been a long and gut wrenching three years
since my nostalgic, peaceful and wondrous days of marriage from which I had
been torn away. I had a long road ahead of me to get back to some semblance of
normalcy again. That story in another place.
                             COMING HOME

I was discharged from the U. S. Coast Guard on September 14,
1945 from the hospital in New Jersey. I was given railroad
tickets to Los Angeles. Two days later I got off at the Pasadena,
CA train station which was the stop before reaching Los
Angeles and closer to Santa Ana. I had called Derith and given
her the time of arrival of my train and she drove to Pasadena
with our first born son, Al, to meet me. It is hard to describe
the feelings that coursed through me after almost a year. It was
difficult to really believe I was “free at last” and HOME – and
no more war and no more separation. And here was my wife,
my love that I had pined for month after month. It was like
heaven to hug her and kiss her again.

Our eleven month old son Al – whom I had never seen -- was in
a little stroller. He had a little knit cap on and he looked
absolutely wonderful to me. He looked up at me when I knelt
down to give him the first little kiss like he was wondering
“who is this guy.” The little cap he wore was to cover two
rather prominent lumps on both sides of his head. Al had
weighed 10 pounds 11 ounces when he was born and he was
almost 10 months in the womb before he was finally born. In
the last month and a half before he was born he couldn’t move
in the womb and his head was resting on Derith’s pelvis bones.
Two large water lumps developed on his head to protect him
from the pressure when Derith moved or walked around. The
lumps were not permanent but subsided gradually as he grew
but we kept his head covered until they were about gone and
his hair had grown.

The ravages of a long war, the early fears that we would lose the war
plus personal fears and anxieties, the abrupt separation from my young
wife of only a few months and the seeming loveless and heartless
ambiance of the military service and a brief period in a military hospital
left its toll on me. Actually I was a “burned out wreck” when I was
discharged and certainly not the naïve and inexperienced “boy” that
entered military service. Taking up married life again, it was just not
the same. That mystique and nostalgic aura of first marriage was gone,
never to return in the same way. I had been changed and left without
any real foundation or platform on which to build a life, I felt like a
“lost soul.” Today men who come home from various wars are
recognized for a similar kind of emotional impact called Post Traumatic
Stress syndrome and there is therapy and treatment for it. Surprisingly
there is a large number that today return this way. But there was no
therapy in those days and I, like many others, had to “go it alone” to
find a foundational meaning for life.

I was not a good husband or a good father to my young son, Albert III.
My inner torment and it was a torment, made me listless and irritable. I
spent hours just lying on the floor watching TV, basically trying to keep
my mind from the anxieties that were eating me up. I went from job to
job, not applying myself as I should have. Derith was disgusted with me
(and I don’t blame her) and we even split up for a few days, but I
needed her very badly, she was really the only thing and the only
dimension of my life that had an “anchor” that I could hold on to. I had
been “lost” in my life before, but when we were “separated” for a few
days I was “truly lost” so I reached out again to my only anchor and we
got back together

We lived for several months in a back bedroom of Derith’s
folk’s house on 17th Street. Derith had a job at Weber’s
Bakery. She unloaded the wrapping machine and put several
loaves at a time onto the conveyor that took them to the
delivery area. Since my meager service pay had ended we
needed her income until I could get to work and add to our
income. Over the next few months I worked several different
jobs, one at a Hardware Store in Santa Ana, the Clark Dye
Hardware. I also did some furnace work for Derith’s dad but
he didn’t need a full time person. I took a job at Payne Furnace
Company in Santa Ana and while working there we applied
for a G. I. loan to buy a house we had found that was just being
completed in a small tract in Orange, CA.
The paper work was extensive to qualify for a G. I. loan and
the local newspaper ran an article about all the “red tape”
service men were having to go through to qualify. The paper
interviewed us and took a picture of all of the forms we had to
fill out lined up on the floor with us standing looking
disgustedly at them. It came out in the paper the next day. I
think the publicity and the fact that OUR application was
being shown in the paper speeded up approval of our loan. The
house was three bedrooms and only one bath and no garage
but to us it was like a palace. It had shiny hardwood floors and
a bay window in the front room. The price was $7,000 and
100% financed through a local loan company that had the G. I.
program and guarantee of payment if we defaulted. It was on
Little Main Street because it was just one block off of Main
Street in Orange.




Derith and Al III on the front porch.

While I was still in he service Derith bought a used Queen Ann
dining room set that she got at a very low price. Derith worked
most of the time while I was in the service so she had saved the
50 dollar allotment she got from the service which was half of
my pay. So she had set aside a little nest egg to by furniture
when, and if, I came home. Our new home was not finished yet
so we had to wait a few weeks before we could move in. We
began looking for furniture in the want ads and found several
things we needed at very good prices. We bought a living room
set and two pink occasional chairs, a bedroom set, a stove and
an ice box that took blocks of ice that we had delivered.
Refrigerators were scarce because none had been built during
the war along with stoves, cars and other things.

No garage came with our new home and we felt we should have
a garage. We got an estimate to build a two car garage. Derith
wanted an entrance door beside the main garage door so we
had that included. So, we contracted for the garage to be built.
It cost $500.00 altogether. We were able to add the cost of the
garage to our home loan and the payments only went up a few
dollars. I built a concrete brick wall between the house and the
garage so that our backyard was completely enclosed. The
people in the house behind us built a fence across the back and
I added a few more feet to totally enclose the yard. We wanted
a safe place for our son Al, whom we called “Jay” from his
middle initial so that he and I did not have a confusion of our
same name. I was Al junior because my dad was also Albert
Jacob Portune, therefore our son Al had to be Albert Jacob
Portune III.

The emotional and anxiety state I was fighting left me without
much ambition or any clear job or career objective and I
started and left various jobs because of lack of interest or
attention to my purpose. I worked for a creamery delivering
milk, at a hardware store, at an agricultural lab and at Payne
Furnace company and took little interest in any of those jobs.
Finally I began working full time for Derith’s father, Dee, who
had increased his business and had work for me.

Our son, “Jay” was such a joy to me growing up. I spent
countless hours playing with him, teaching him nursery
rhymes and showing him how to play with toys. At bed time I
would tell him stories. His favorites were the “Uncle Rhemus
stories” I made up and Jack and the beanstalk. Jay always
seemed to do unexpected things or “get into things.
For example, I had been doing some painting in the front
bedroom and I let Jay paint a few strokes because he was
watching me paint. I left the paint cans on the floor when I was
at work with the lids on, of curse. Jay found them and while
Derith was doing something in another part of the house he got
the paint can open and took a brush and painted the grill of
our floor furnace in the living room.

Another time he got up very early in the morning and built a
fire in a wastepaper basket and thought he was burning the
trash as he had seen us do outside. Derith and I were still
asleep and Derith said she was dreaming of making popcorn
and the popping of the fire on the back porch made her dream
of popping corn. But she was awakened nonetheless by the
popping and woke me up. I smelled the smoke and rushed to
the back porch. Jay was standing in the kitchen watching his
fire. I ran out the back door, grabbed the garden hose that was
fortunately right there outside the door, turned it on and ran
into the house and put the fire out. After cleaning things up the
only real damage was a large round burned hole in the
linoleum. I bought an insert of linoleum from a hardware store
and cut out the burned linoleum and glued the insert in its
place. We also had to clean the soot off of the walls and repaint
them. But it could have been a lot worse.
Derith got pregnant again by “plan” because Jay was almost
three years old and she (We) didn’t want there to be a too big
difference in age between the “kids.” Unfortunately Derith had
a miscarriage in the late third month of her pregnancy. She
had fallen down about a week earlier in the hall of our house
running to answer the phone. She felt that might have caused
the miscarriage. She had a hard time with the miscarriage and
had to go to the hospital for what they called a “Curetment.”
She had lost a lot of blood so it took a while for her to get back
to normal. But she recovered just fine and we continued in that
house for about another year. But about that time Derith
wanted to “try again” for another child and she became
pregnant.

However, the neighborhood of our first home was changing.
The zoning permitted industrial or commercial businesses.
Right across the street when we first moved in was a nice home
and a large orange grove. But now it was being sold for a
business that would have made the neighborhood unpleasant,
so we decided to sell the house and buy another one on the G.I.
bill because our finances were poor at this time and we were
able to make about two thousand dollars selling our house.
There was a tract being built about three miles from us and we
went to look. The tract was being called “Bitterbush” from the
name of a street on one perimeter of the tract. We found a
corner house and lot that we thought would be just the thing.
We got another G.I. loan because they had increased the
allotment for buying G.I. houses and therefore we still had a
$2000 guarantee. The Bitterbush house was a smaller house
but a nice one and we helped our financial position by selling
and buying. So, we did sell the house and moved there. It was
on Bush street. It was a two bedroom home but spacious
enough and we liked it very much.
Our second son, Michael Franklin Portune, was born while we
lived in the Bush house. I remember the night he was born on
August 10th 1950. I stayed with Derith in the pre-delivery room
for several hours and she was suffering a lot from the
contractions and yelling a bit. Nothing was imminent so I took
a short walk outside the hospital to get a change of pace.
Walking out in front of the hospital I heard Derith really
screaming. I rushed back in and finally, on examination, she
had “dilated” enough and they took her into the delivery room
where Mike was born. He was beautiful and precious and
Derith was fine. His head was so perfectly shaped and was
covered with a little light brown fuzz or hair. I thought his
head looked like a nice warm “bun” just coming out of the
“oven.” So I canned him my “Bun” for a while.

                   STARTING TWO BUSINESSES

I was still “fighting” the anxieties, panic attacks and feeling of
instability that had plagued me since leaving the service, but even so my
overall attention to “living” seemed to be improving. Working for
Derith’s dad I learned a lot more about furnaces, installing them,
servicing them and the like. I enrolled in a correspondence course from
I.C.S., a correspondence school, and studied heating, ventilating and
sheet metal. Eventually I took the examination for heating Contractor
and got my own contractors license. I then, with a close friend, Howard
Hill, started “Portune and Hill Heating Co.” It was a moderately
successful little business for a while but something else eventually came
along.

Derith’s dad ran into bad luck and lost his business as Bender heating
and Sheet Metal and went to work for another heating contractor
named Stan Ackerman. “Dee” Bender had a whole lot of furnace
fittings and duct work left at his business location, and because some of
his creditors were going to confiscate them, I loaded several truck loads
of them and stored them at the Portune and Hill building that we were
renting. Then, I decided to close Portune and Hill Heating and with
those “supplies” I started a little heating and air conditioning supply
store in Santa Ana, Warm Air Products, with a “partner,” Bob
Nickerson, that had also worked for the a former heating company. We
began very small selling fittings and other heating supplies to heating
companies. We bought some sheet metal equipment from a former sheet
metal company that had closed. We got a brake, a shear, a bar folder
and a lot of hand tools all at a very good price.

I made a trip to Los Angeles and contacted a metal supplier and made
arrangements to by sheets of tin and galvanized iron from which
furnace fittings could be fabricated. I also made arrangements with
another supplier to buy asbestos air cell paper and asbestos coverings
that were used in those days to insulate furnace pipe and fittings. Then,
with the equipment we had purchased we began to make our own
furnace fittings for sale. This increased the profit margin we were
making. The business began to grow and Derith and I began to enjoy a
few more human pleasures and have a bit more than before.




Furnace fittings at our Warm Air Products Co.

Because we were doing better financially and the Bitterbush house was
a little small we began looking for another house to buy. The prices of
housing were continually rising at that time and we knew we could sell
the Bitterbush house for a profit. Since our first house had been across
the street from an orange grove and “sort of” in a country environment
we liked the idea of living out further. In driving around looking we
encountered a sign out in Villa Park, a little town next to Orange, that
was offering some houses at a reduced price. We went to the address
and it was on a cul de sack street that ended in an orange grove. The
whole area was a country-like setting. There were about three houses
still left and we liked one particular one which was next door to an older
home that had been there before the 10 houses were built by this
builder.

The homes were originally selling for $13,500. But the builder needed to
sell them badly and had reduced the price to $10,900. We thought it was
an excellent buy. We also had a California State veterans housing
allowance that we were eligible for. We applied and were approved and
consummated the purchase and were overjoyed. It was on one-third of
an acre and it had four orange trees in the backyard. Our second son,
Michael Franklin Portune, had come along and things were a lot better
between Derith and me. I think she was feeling that “I was finally
growing up.” I think it is important to mention “growing up” at this
point because I was beginning to “shake off” the “funk or tailspin” from
being torn from my young wife and what should have been a normal life
and thrust into a war and three years in the military and what that had
done to me. I now had a responsible business a nice home and a much
more stable life.
                      Our new Laurel Drive home in Villa Park




                     FLYING AND AN AIRPLANE

I had, from early on as a child, loved to build model airplanes and in
our new home, and with a little more leisure time, I built several model
planes with “gas engines.” One of those planes we began calling the
“Shadow.” Derith and I and the kids would take it down to an open
field, gas it up, “crank” the prop and launch it. It would often catch
“thermals,” air currents that would it would soar on even after the
engine quit. We often chased it in the car waiting for it to finally come
down. Sometimes it would stay up for almost an hour and soar so high
we almost couldn’t see it any more. We lost it a couple of times but got it
back because I had my name, address and phone number on it. That’s
why we named it the Shadow because it always “shadowed” its way
back home. It finally got so old and tattered that one day we took all
identification off of it, took it down and launched it and let it fly away.
We never saw it again.
Al and Mike, our two boys, loved to fly what they called “U-control”
airplanes with gas engines on them. They were tethered by two strings
or cords that they would hold on to and fly the planes around in a circle,
making them dive and climb by pulling up or down on the strings
attached to a handle. Our street where we had our new home, Laurel
Drive, was a cul de sac and ended at an orange grove. It had a large
circular “turn around” at the end where our house was and it made a
great place for the boys to fly their U-controls. It was also a great place
to shoot off fireworks and some of the neighbors and us would buy
fireworks together and shoot the off on the evening of the fourth.

There was a neighbor who lived on the corner where our street joined
Collins Street who was also a model airplane enthusiast. We got
acquainted and we built some really big airplanes, one with two engines
on it and used to go to an old abandoned air strip called Miles Square
and fly them. His name was Johnny Walden and he had two boys too so
we took the kids, his and mine, with us to fly the planes. We had a lot of
good times. He was also a pilot who not only had his private license but
was a licensed instructor. One day we were talking and I mentioned that
I would love to learn to fly. He said he would be glad to teach me if I
would pay for renting and airplane to learn in.

He was familiar with a local airport called “The Orange County
Airport” where one could rent a Piper Cub airplane by the hour if you
were a private pilot. So, he began to first teach me what he called
“Ground School” which is all about airplanes, safety, procedures and
the like. Before I ever sat in a plane I learned about various
instruments, a “stick, what ailerons and a rudder were and “flying
language” and a lot more. Then one day we went to the airport and
rented a “cub.” We went up and he demonstrated how one flies and
airplane. Then in the next week or so he began to show me how to fly
and let me fly and use the controls in what he called “dual.” I caught on
quickly because my “model airplane years” had given me a good
background. Usually it takes about 8 flying hours to learn enough that
one could “solo” or fly without anyone else in the plane.

One day, after about 6 hours of “dual” instruction and after I had made
several take offs and landings without any help, we stopped the “Cub”
and Johnny opened the door and got out and said: “O. K., she’s yours,
take her around!” I didn’t feel “ready” and resisted. He said: “You’re
ready or I wouldn’t let you do it.” So, with trepidation and no little fear
I taxied the Cub to the “run up area” and went through what I had
been taught about checking “both mags” or the two ignition switches
that gave you a reserve, ran the engine full throttle for a few seconds
which was something you always did to be sure the engine was “ready,”
checked that the rudder, elevator and ailerons were free and working
and them turned the plane directly at the “tower” which was a signal to
the tower that I was ready to “take off.” I got the “green light” from the
tower that I could take off. We had no radio in the plane.

I gave “her” full throttle, “danced” the rudder control to keep her
straight down the runway, watched the “air speed indicator” and when
it read 50mph, take off speed, I pulled back on the stick and I was
“airborne” and ALL ALONE. All I had to do was circle the airport in
“the pattern” and return and land the Cub. I had done it many times
with Johnny Walden in the back seat but this time I knew he wasn’t
there. But all went well; I made a nice landing and taxied back and off
the runway. I had soloed!




                               The J3 Piper Cub




I decided to go on and try to get my private flying license, so I began
taking more lessons from an instructor at the Orange County airport. I
talked my partner, Bob Nickerson, into doing the same and we both got
our private pilot licenses at about the same time. We both felt we would
like to get an airplane of our own and felt the business could afford to
pay for a small plane as part of our “benefits” from the hard work both
of us were devoting to the business. We began looking and on a flight in
a rented Cub we found an Aeronca Chief airplane at the Fullerton air
port. It had been freshly recovered with new fabric and the engine had
been recently overhauled and certified. We both fell in love with its
bright red color and its excellent condition. The owner let us take it up
and try it out, which we did. So, we bought it and really enjoyed flying it
and taking care of it. We rented a “tie down” space at the Orange
County airport where we kept it.




`

Bob Nickerson and I took many flights in that old Aeronca. We
both worked hard and long hours at Warm Air Products, our
business, and it was a real diversion and a relaxing interlude to
go down to Orange County Airport and fly for an hour or two.
I took Al and Mike up many times and let them “steer” the
plane. They loved it. I tried to get Derith to fly with me but no
amount of supplication could get her to every fly in it. I took
Derith’s grandmother, Hilda Linden, well into her 70’s. up
and she loved it too. I took more lessons toward an
“instrument rating.” I flew a Cessna 150 with instruments for
these lessons. I never completed that course because other
things came along that overshadowed that desire.

One of Derith and my Sunday recreations was to go to the
Orange County drive in theater not far from our house. We
would take Al and Mike and go early before it was dark and
get a good location in the drive in theater. Mike and Al would
go down to a playground they had down under the big screen
and play for a while. I would go to the snack bar and get hot
dogs, fries, milk and soft drinks and some kind of desert bars
and we would have our “Sunday Dinner” in the car. Derith
liked to bring the Sunday newspaper and read it while waiting
for it to get dark and when the movie would start. I remember
how when it began to get dark and before the movie would
start everyone with a spot light would shine their spot on the
screen and move it back and forth. It was a nice way to spend
Sunday evening and we did it often.
Al and Mike Laurel Drive, Villa Park



Some time after living in our new home I built a fireplace in
the living room and some paneling around it. Then I built a
planter in front of the house out of old brick that looked real
nice. I also build a shed in the back yard for tools. We had a
better car and things were much better all around for us. We
didn’t necessarily want another child but it was unusual that
no “girl” babies had been born in the Portune family in three
generations. We thought about it and felt if we could have a
girl and break the trend it would be worth trying again. So
Derith got pregnant. Later, to our great pleasure and
happiness, Susan was born. We named her Susan Faith
Portune because we had faith that she would be a girl and she
was!

What a joy she was to us. Boys are great but there is something
about a little girl that is so different, sweet and delicate that it
just warms you through and through. I called her “Daddy’s
little girl” but it slowly became “Dodie’s Little” and I called
her that until she wasn’t little any more, but in my heart until
this very day she is still “Dodie’s Little.”




 I remember the many games and stories I told her but one
little game she always thought was hilarious was when I was
telling her stories in bed I would crank my arm up and down
and tell her the handle on the well needed oil. She would oil my
shoulder with a make believe oil can and then my arm would
begin to crank up and down “out of control” and I said: “Stop
the well, stop the well.” She would grab my arm a try to slow it
down and stop it but would end up being tossed about by may
arm, the handle on the well. She would laugh and laugh and it
was great fun. I will never forget the “old well” game we
played.
               MY FIRST RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES

My earliest “encounter” with “church” and religion began when I was
four or five years of age. My mother and father were not church goers
nor did they have or seek to impress on their children, which I was, of
course, one of, with any specific religious views. My grandmother,
Santini, however, was a very devout Catholic and attended Mass and
other church observances regularly at the Catholic Church, “The Holy
Name Church,” on Jefferson Blvd, in Los Angeles, a location she could
walk to. The room that she and my grandfather occupied in the house
we shared and lived in on Third Avenue was decorated with many
pictures, totems and “sacred” Catholic items.”

As a young boy there was one picture that especially disturbed me until
I later learned what it actually portrayed. To me, as an impressionable
young lad, the picture appeared to me, without any explanation from
anyone, to be a scene of a man holding a baby and smashing his head
with a stone. I couldn’t understand why such a picture should be on the
wall as a decoration or the like. It wasn’t until after I was a little older
and came to know a few things about the Catholic mode of baptism that
I learned that the picture was actually of a priest baptizing a baby by
applying a sponge filled with “holy water” (that looked like a rock to a
four year old) and “baptizing” the baby therewith.

My grandmother had “aspirations” for me as far as the Catholic faith
was concerned. I think she felt that my parents were delinquent or
derelict as far as religion went and in her own “loving and personal
Catholic way” she hoped to save me from my ultimate “destination” if I
did not embrace her “brand” of religion. So, she kept prevailing on my
parents to let her take me to Catholic Church. I guess they saw no great
harm in it, so I began going to Mass every Sunday with my
grandmother. She had also tried to do the same with my brother,
Frank, but he, being a little older put up considerable resistance and my
folks did not make him go with grandmother.

I was deeply impressed, or I might say overwhelmed or abashed or
awed by the Catholic Church and the Nave or main church hall and the
“Services” that occurred. The organ music that seemed to shake my
insides, the stained glass widows with scenes and pictures I didn’t
understand but thought were very colorful and beautiful, the sounding
or ringing of bells or gongs, the swinging of censors filled with some
kind of incense that made patterns of smoke as they swung them, the
elaborate robes and all of the “careful movements” of the priests etc.
that seemed almost like a dance to me. There were also the “Nuns”
seated down in front dressed in “funny” garments and seemingly having
great holiness about them the way they moved and the look on their
faces. But the “Altar” seemed like something out of this world and as if
it had great power or contained something that kind of made me
fearful. It seemed everybody bowed to that alter and you couldn’t even
enter your pew without kneeling and making the sign of the cross across
your chest to the Altar, something my grandmother taught me to do.

My grandmother had it in her mind, I later learned, for me to become
an “Alter Boy.” Altar boys had some kind of uniform or colorful dress,
as I saw them then, and attended to certain small tasks around the altar
and were, to my grandmother, the epitome of what a growing boy
should become in his reverence to the Catholic faith. But I wasn’t
destined for that goal and it was only after about a year’s attendance
with my grandmother that my “Catholic Days” were terminated.

One Sunday morning I was seated with my grandmother in our pew
with a nickel in my hand to put in the “plate” when it was passed. I
can’t remember where I got the nickel, probably my grandmother gave
it to me to put in the plate so I would look like a good “Catholic boy”
when the plate came around. However as often happens with “kids like
me” I dropped the nickel on the floor and it rolled a few feet away and
under the pew in front of us. I got down on my hands and knees and
began to crawl under the front pew to “get my nickel.” I must have
made a bit of disturbance with the people seated in front of us because
one of the Nuns who were ever present here and there saw me on the
floor and came down our aisle and grabbed me by the arm, dragged me
out of the pew and took me to where she had been seated and sat me
down with and admonition to “stay still and be quiet.”

The Nun must have thought that I was just an unruly kid wanting to
crawl around for the fun of it. But in any case I was very frightened and
wasn’t sure what they were going to do to me. I remained there, in
“captivity” with the Nun until services were over and my grandmother
“recovered me” and we went home. However I told my mom and dad
about the incident and how rough the Nun had been to me and how
scared it had made me and especially, as I had concluded, that I didn’t
want to go to Catholic Church any more. They told my grandmother
that if I didn’t want to go any more that I didn’t have to. So, that ended
my Catholic Church and experiences, even though I had learned The
Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and other prayers and had a “Rosary” or
chain of beads that were sized and spaced as a guide for saying your
daily “Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s.”

The reason I recount this exposure to the Catholic Church or religion is
that looking back on this early “religious” exposure in the Catholic
Church with all the “Pomp, symbolism, and ritualism, excessive
demonstration of reverent conduct and performance coupled with the
impressive structures, music, sounds and demonstrative reverence had a
profound effect upon me. I realize now how it became a background for
a later understanding of how “man” uses religion as a comfort and a
buffer against the “existential apprehensions” that spring from the
“unknown.” It just seemed to me that people “needed” the Catholic
Church as a “haven” from all of the unknowns in life. The essence or
feeling I got from my grandmother was that if one adhered closely to all
of the “Catholic” functions, prayers, obedience’s and rituals that one
would be safe! There was a long road ahead of me in “religion” and I
now know that for a full and true understanding of the purpose of life
one does not find a convenient, safe "resting point" in religion and
ceases striving for understanding.

Later, as I mentioned in another section of these memoirs, my next
“church” experience occurred when Derith, “Margie,” my girl friend
then, and I used to get dressed up on Sunday’s and walk up to a
Pentecostal church near our homes. It was mostly just to be together in
those nostalgic days of the “romance” of two kids in love. But there was
a kind of aura or background sense to the music, the exposure to
Biblical themes and an overall feeling, prompted I am sure by our own
feelings of warmth, happiness and togetherness in my teen aged
romance that, even though naive perhaps, lent a sense that there was
something in religion that could be clean and good, yet without the
strife, “competition” and confusing variety in religion that even at this
early age seemed inappropriate. This experience was also providential
in a small way.
After Derith and I were married we did not attend any church nor had
any feeling of needing to do so. I was working at the Grease Plant of
General Petroleum Corp. in Vernon, California. I worked a “split shift”
program which required working nights every so often. The night
foreman of the Grease Plant was a very religious man. In talking to him
on nights when there were times with little to do, he mentioned that he
had a small radio program on which he expounded his religious views
and “preached” about things in the Bible. He began trying to interest
me in the Bible and in Christian ways. It was rather interesting and I
began to learn about certain books in the New Testament, who wrote
them and what, as he intimated, they were saying to people of their day
about how to follow Christ and live “righteous lives.”

Something appealed to me in these talks and I think it was the sense of a
buffer or contrast between the “nasty things” in society, a clean and
honest life and a need for an uncluttered relationship to “god” or
perhaps more pertinent a sense that there was something in life that
could be clean, honest and without malice. I listened a few times to his
radio broadcast but it was too “preachy” and “churchy” compared to
the “plain talk” we had at the Grease Plant. It wasn’t too long after this
that my notice to report for the draft and enter military service
happened. But I think something “stuck” with me a bit based on what
later happened when I entered the U. S. Coast Guard, became a
radioman and went to sea during the war.

One of the things that was given to me when I first went to boot camp in
the Coast Guard was a little blue covered New Testament of the Bible. I
don’t think it was the government or the Coast Guard directly that
instituted giving new “boots” a New Testament Bible. I think it was
probably some religious organization that had offered them to be given
out. I don’t think it was a regular practice of the Coast Guard or
military that sponsored this. But in any case I somehow had “held on to
that New Testament and on my first ship, a Liberty Ship, the USS
Alberio, I had it in my locker aboard ship.

I don’t remember exactly why, but one day I took it out of my locker
and put it in my shirt pocket and later that day when I was off duty took
it out and began reading it. Some of the sections I read were reminiscent
of listening to that old Grease Plant manager. Somehow there was quite
a comfort reading the gospels and the epistles in that New Testament.
After a time I became quite familiar with the books of the N. T. and
certain special “passages” that I would turn to off and on to get that
little jolt of comfort and peace they afforded. That N. T. was my
companion for most of my days at sea on the Alberio and later on the
USS Augustus Washington Greeley, a larger attack transport vessel, the
A.K. 141, that I served on until the war was almost over.

The ravages of a long war, the early fears that we would lose the war
plus personal fears and anxieties, the abrupt separation from my young
wife of only a few months and the seeming loveless and heartless
ambiance of the military service, the crass and degenerate attitude of
most other service men seemingly hell bent on illicit living and sex and a
brief period in a military hospital left its toll on me. Actually I was a
“burned out wreck” when I was discharged and certainly not the naïve
and inexperienced “boy” that entered military service. Taking up
married life again, it was just not the same. That mystique and nostalgic
aura of first marriage was gone, never to return in the same way. I had
been changed and left without any real foundation or platform on which
to build a life, in fact life itself seemed to lack a real reason beyond
finding continual diversions and pleasures. I felt like a “lost soul.”

I was not a good husband or a good father to my young son, Albert III.
My inner torment and it was a torment, made me listless and irritable. I
spent hours just lying on the floor watching TV, basically trying to keep
my mind from the anxieties that were eating me up. I went from job to
job, not applying myself as I should have. Derith was disgusted with me
(and I don’t blame her) and we even split up for a few days, but I
needed her very badly, she was really the only thing and the only
dimension of my life that had any “anchor” that I could hold on to. I
had been “lost” in my life before, but when we were “separated” for a
few days I was “truly lost” so I reached out again to my only anchor and
we got back together.

Watching TV I found occasional movies about Jesus and other Biblical
themes. There was something about them that made me feel good and
hopeful. Then I once again began reading the Bible. I used Derith’s old
Bible that her grandmother gave her in 1936 and in which she had
recorded births, deaths, marriages and the like. Then one day listening
to the radio I happened to tune to a station that had a religious program
called “The Sky Pilot.” It was kind of like listening to that old Grease
Plant manager again. But it went deeper this time. I then began
searching for other religious radio speakers and found more than one.
Something began to change me a little. Somehow there was at least a
modicum of a purpose to live for. It was a good feeling, but I was still
confused about the variety and seeming competition in religion but felt
there “must be” something more pure at the basis of it.

Then Derith and I, basically prompted by me, began to attend various
church services. We would go to one church for a while but somehow
the services, the sermons, and the social aspects of these churches was
shallow to me and no one seemed to really be digging for the real
purpose of life but seemed satisfied or content with the conventional
concepts of heaven and hell and the like but mostly it seemed that the
“social aspects” of church was the greatest appeal. I would from time to
time seek out the pastor of the particular church and ask some of the
questions that had to do with what I felt were deeper things than were
brought forward in sermons or in the services. They really did not seem
to want to “get into those things” and were more concerned with “giving
your heart to the Lord” and that after that you were “saved.” There
seemed to be emphasis on getting with the social programs and activities
that seemed to be the main “diversion” that satisfied most of the
“members.”

I had really developed a routine of listening to various radio preachers
and “evangelists.” I drew considerable comfort from listening to them
but slowly began getting the same feeling I got from attending various
churches. There seemed to be a pattern to those “religious” radio
programs that promised “rewards” and comforts in that same old vein
of “giving your heart to the lord” and then “everything would be fine
for you and you could just rest in peace” and you didn’t have to do
anything or strive for a deeper way of life – everything had already been
done for you. In between I used to “tune the dial” on the radio to see if
there might be “another one” with something with “more substance”
than I felt came out of most of them. This episode in church and
religion, I now know, was also the working of an unknown providence
that was “pushing at me.” I was about to encounter the Worldwide
Church of God broadcast and a new religious experience.
            THE WORLWIDE CHURCH OF GOD YEARS

In 1954 I had started a small heating supply business in Santa Ana,
Calif. and things were going well. Besides having a car I also had a
Dodge truck that I drove to “work” in. It had a radio in it and I
developed the habit of taking my “packed lunch” and going out and
eating it in the truck and listening to the radio – a religious broadcast if
I could find one. One day eating my lunch in my old red truck and
“twisting the dial” I encountered a “religious radio program” with a
speaker that I immediately realized was different and seemed to speak
about religion and a relationship to God and Jesus that I had never
heard in any of the other “preachers.” It was Herbert W. Armstrong
and the “World Tomorrow” radio broadcast. There was an immediate
resonance in what I heard that seemed to synergize with those questions
that I had earlier that the church pastors I talked with couldn’t seem to
answer or even understand. The World Tomorrow program, I learned
from listening to that first program, came on every day at 12:30 PM. So,
I began listening every day on the radio in my truck while eating my
lunch.

I heard messages about “repentance” that seemed to make sense
because my appraisal of how most people lived and lusted seemed to
need to be upgraded. It was different than just giving your heart to the
Lord and if one did so that “everything” had been already “done” for
you. I heard about “building righteous character,” that “growing in
grace and knowledge” was progressive and that a real, rather than a
cursory understanding of the Bible and prophecy was needed. It spoke
of a definitive yet constructive end of man’s tenure on this earth and of
a “world tomorrow,” right here on earth with an “upgraded” mode of
life and a part in it of bringing a lasting peace on earth – in contrast to
“dreamy” ideas of heaven. My anxieties and unsureness of the meaning
of life felt a modicum of comfort and a sense of “reality” rather than the
“fluffy” concepts I had been hearing.

I sent for many booklets that I read and a whole new structure of
religion began to emerge. I subscribed to a Bible course and began
studying the lessons and taking the tests. The booklet on baptism had a
profound effect upon me and I deeply felt, as the booklet described, that
true repentance, a real turn around in one’s life, was “required” –
something I had been searching for before but had not found, and that
baptism and “the laying on of hands by the ‘ministry’” led to receiving
the Holy Spirit – which without no one could really be changed or enter
the Kingdom of God. I deeply wanted to be baptized because I wanted
that “change.” But I had no contact at that time with any of the
“ministry.” Because I wanted the “holy spirit” desperately I even tried
baptizing myself in the bathtub. I began “tithing” or giving 10% of
one’s income to the church because I truly felt that this message needed
to be heard by others. In the months that this new concept began to
emerge for me I began to “feel a lot better” about life and that perhaps I
had found a real basis or foundation upon which to build a sound life
for myself, my wife and my children.

On one program Herbert Armstrong mentioned “Ambassador College”
and since the address I sent my tithes to was Box 111, Pasadena,
California, I surmised that Ambassador College must be in Pasadena. I
did some “Information Please” research on the phone and found out
that Ambassador College was located at 363 Grove Street in Pasadena. I
also got the telephone number. So, I called and asked about “Sabbath
Services” since I had learned about the Sabbath on the radio program
and also from one of the booklets. They told me that they only had
“Chapel services” at the college on Saturdays (Sabbath) at 1:30 in the
afternoon.

But I wasn’t deterred. The next Saturday morning we took the kids to
grandmas for the day and then drove to Pasadena and found the
“College” at 363 Grove Street. It wasn’t what I expected to see because
363 Grove appeared to be a residence or a large house. Nevertheless we
parked, got out and went to the “house.” The front door was open and
we could see it was actually a kind of library building, so we walked in.
It was around 11:30 AM and no one seemed to be around. There were a
lot of folding chairs set up, many of them had clothes or Bibles or
notebooks on them as if people had already “claimed” the chairs to
occupy them later. Finally a young woman came in the front door and
we said we were looking for Ambassador College. She said that this
“was” Ambassador College and this was the library and main classroom
building. She was very courteous and helpful. She showed us another
smaller building nearby that had also been a residence. She said it was
the “Administration building.” She also took us a little way further and
showed us a building that she said was “Mayfair” which was the dining
hall and also a dormitory for girls.

So, this was Ambassador College and we learned there were only about
30 students attending. We asked about Sabbath services and she said
they were held in the Library building at, 1:30 PM. So, we went and got
some lunch and came back about 1:15 to find quite a few people already
there seated in the chairs that had been set up. We looked for “available
chairs” but all seemed to be either occupied or “already claimed” by
something placed on them. There was a stairway leading upstairs and
there were a few people already seated on some of the steps. So, we sat
down on the stairway. Derith was pregnant with Susie at the time so it
was a bit uncomfortable for her.

There was a piano up near the “front” and a woman seated herself at it
and a young man got up and stood in front of the “crowd.” Everyone
stood up and took up some song books that everyone seemed to have,
except us. Then he began leading the “congregation” in singing some
hymns. The hymns were not familiar to us with tunes we had never
heard before. We just stood up feeling a bit out of place and foolish,
then someone handed us copies of the song books. They were small and
had songs we had not heard of before but there were a few of “old
hymns” that were familiar. After the singing and an opening prayer
everyone sat down again. A nice looking woman seated near the rear
and close to where the stairway was where we were seated got up and
came over and offered Derith her chair. Derith was quite far along in
the pregnancy of our Daughter, Susie at the time. The woman had to
leave for some reason and saw how uncomfortable Derith was, being
pregnant and sitting on a stair step. We later learned that she was Mrs.
Loma Armstrong, Mr. H. W. Armstrong’s wife. We listened to the
sermon by a rather “intense” speaker (It was Roderick Meredith) who
spoke for well over an hour which seemed very long for us who had
been used to much shorter sermons in the “conventional churches” we
had previously attended.

So that was our first introduction to “Sabbath Services” of the “Radio
Church of God” as it was called in those days. I think, had it not been
for my deep interest in the “theology” I had heard on the radio from
HWA and the booklets plus a deep inner drive in me that sought a real
and meaningful purpose in life etc, we may have just gone away and
“forgotten the whole thing.” I know that years later my brother, John,
who also later joined the church, in his first impression of the church
later comment: “I don’t know how I could have ever been interested in
such a “funky butt” little church and college, but there was ‘something
about it all’ that I had to look into.”

So, “we” began an on and off attendance of the services in Pasadena.
We also began attending Friday Night Bible Studies held in the same
place. Sometimes we stayed over at my mom and dad’s home in
Arcadia, not far from Pasadena, on Friday nights after Bible study and
attended services the next day. I became more and more acquainted
with the “theology” as understood and taught by the Radio Church of
God and for the first time really knew the Bible, its books, its history
and it prophecies. This was so different than what I had encountered in
“those earlier churches” and the former shallowness of the depth
encountered there.

I finally, from the radio broadcasts, the church services and personal
study, believed I was ready to be baptized and I “counseled” for
baptism with two of the minister, one of which was Norman Smith. I
was accepted as ready for baptism and the following Sabbath morning
Norman Smith baptized me in a large fountain pool located in the
“Lower Gardens,” as they were called and which were located on the
same property as the Library Building. After the services that same day
I had “hands laid on me” a procedure taken from the Bible and a
necessity for receiving the Holy Spirit.

I truly believed I had found the “real truth” of what one should do in
life and what if properly followed and dedicated to would lead to a part
in an eternal World Tomorrow. I know how “utterly dedicated” I
became to the ways and practices of the “church” which included
Sabbath keeping, eating only clean meats and foods (no swine flesh)
attending Passover services and the other “Holy Days” including the
Feast of Tabernacles, tithing and attending Sabbath Services. Our
whole family life changed and even though Derith was somewhat
reluctant she, thankfully, was understanding and patient with me and
fell in with the “new ways.” I continued in my “supply business” and it
flourished and we were reasonably happy and enjoyed friends and
activities with our neighbors for the next couple of years. Susie was
born and we took the “kids” with us to Sabbath Services in Pasadena
most Saturdays and made a day of it.

Attending a Friday night Bible Study on one occasion about this time it
came up in the question and answer period that someone had died of
carbon monoxide poisoning from leaving an unvented gas heater on
during the night. I raised my hand and made a comment that having
been a heating contractor and been in the furnace business for several
years that people should learn about carbon monoxide dangers and use
extreme caution about unvented heaters, gas stoves and even water
heaters. After the Bible Study Herbert W. Armstrong, who had
conducted the Bible Study that Friday came up to me and asked if next
Friday I would give a little talk on carbon monoxide dangers and how to
use care in using gas stoves and the like. I said I would be happy to do
so.

I was a little scared, but I knew I had to do it because that was the
“church” thing to do. So I prepared a talk and presented it the following
Friday. I introduced my talk with an event that had actually happened.
It was that a man planned to kill his wife in a way that would look like
an accident. He thought he could gradually accustom himself to carbon
monoxide and build up a tolerance for it. Then he could leave a gas
stove on until his wife was overcome and died but he would survive
because of his tolerance. But, as I explained, you can’t build up a
tolerance for carbon monoxide because it is cumulative and stays in
your blood stream for days after exposure. So, he would breathe fumes
a little every day and, he thought, build up a tolerance. However on the
night he planned to kill his wife, leaving a gas heater on, he, having
carbon monoxide already in his blood, died faster than he thought his
wife would. Ironically she survived and he didn’t. I went on and gave a
detailed series of instructions about gas heaters and proper venting.
Strangely, because it didn’t happen usually, I got a good round of
applause from the congregation. That was my “first” talk at the church
and I had no idea at that time what would follow in ensuing years.

One Sabbath, seated in that old Library Building at services, the
“minister” who gave the sermon that day was Roderick C. Meredith. In
the “announcements,” which preceded the sermon, he mentioned that
the new college year for Ambassador College was coming up and they
were accepting applications for enrolment. He made an “odd” comment
that caught my attention. He said that they were hoping that a few older
men would seek enrolment because some more “maturity” would be
helpful in the “student body.” I knew by this time that new ministers in
the church were trained at the college and that all of the current
ministers had been Ambassador College graduates, including Ted
Armstrong, his brother, Dick (Richard) Armstrong, both of whom I
now was aware of as “leading ministers.”

A “wild thought” crossed my mind only to be almost immediately
discounted because of the “impossibilities” that emerged as soon as the
thought came. I was 33 years old, had three children and a wife to
support and a business that was showing great promise for a good
future for my family. Me go to Ambassador College? Yet, the thought
lingered and grew and eventually “devoured me.” I told Derith what I
was thinking about and because she knew of my passion for the church
and dedication to the Bible and the theology of the church she did not
resist the idea even though she knew we would be giving up a lot. I
discussed the possibility with my partner, Bob Nickerson, with whom I
had started the heating supply business we called “Warm Air
Products.” He didn’t want me to leave but agreed to an arrangement
where we would take an inventory and establish the basic net value of
our little business and that he would pay me for my half at a monthly
rate.

We both agreed that all would be contingent upon my acceptance to the
College and that if I was not accepted that we would proceed as before.
Secretly Bob hoped I would get turned down. Derith also agreed that if I
was accepted we would eventually rent our house and move
up near to Pasadena. So, something that I thought was impossible was
happening and it was exciting while at the same time scary with a lot of
unknowns ahead. I sent for and received and application for A. C., filled
it out and sent it in. A week or so passed in which I watched the mail
every day to get the answer. Then it came! And, I had been rejected for
enrolment with a “thank you very much for applying.” Well, you can
imagine my disappointment because my hopes were high and I so badly
wanted this chance at becoming something, perhaps a minister myself,
in a church that somehow I had come to feel was to be my way of life.

I told Bob, my partner, and he was happy because we got along very
well together and he depended a lot on me for how the business was run.
But Derith was upset that they had turned me down. She knew just how
badly I wanted “this.” She said she couldn’t believe how they could turn
down someone as intelligent and smart as she felt I was. So, I moped a
bit and felt I had missed something important, but I accepted it in the
way I had learned about a lot of things from the church. A day or so
later I got a phone call. It was from the Registrar at Ambassador
College. He informed me that they had reviewed my application and
because of the opinion of several people, I never found out whom, they
had changed their minds and accepted me for enrollment in
Ambassador College.

It is hard, perhaps, to understand how after building a business until it
was about to become quite profitable, to have purchased a nice home in
a nice neighborhood, with a wife I adored and three children and finally
reaching some stability after years of struggle, to “scrap it all” and go
off to college at an obscure church and an unknown college with an
unknown future ahead. But, for me, it was an “overpowering” desire to
follow and probe further into what I felt, at the time, was the “answer to
life.” I knew that up to this point I had had no anchor or foundation for
a meaning to life, even though I had searched diligently and had NOT
found an answer. Even though I loved my wife and my three dear
children, I wanted to fulfill something that burned inside of me and
consumed me beyond normal reason. I am so thankful that even though
Derith was deeply concerned and didn’t understand fully, she knew how
deeply I “wanted this” and stood by me.

My partner, Bob Nickerson was disappointed that I was going to leave
but we went ahead with our agreement that he would buy the business
from me on a monthly payment of $200.00. So, I took the entrance exam
and made a top grade. I felt a little funny taking the exam because the
others who were also enrolling in A.C. were so much younger. Then I
had to figure out how to get to A.C. in Pasadena every day since I was
living in Orange County. Driving our car was out of the question
because I couldn’t afford the gas. So, I bought a used, small “Puch”
motorcycle that would get excellent mileage and began riding to
Pasadena every day, starting very early each morning to get there in
time for classes. It was a long one hour drive and I was not that skilled
in riding motorcycles, but I stayed with it for quite a while but stayed
overnight at the folks house in Arcadia a couple nights a week to cut
down on the “long haul.”
My classes at A.C. that first year were First Year Bible, Speech Class,
English, Music Appreciation (required) history and “Chorale.” I liked
singing so joined the Ambassador College Chorale and enjoyed it very
much. We sang special music at Sabbath Services from time to time. I
also began taking voice lessons from the Chorale Director, Leon
Ettinger. Something Else I took part in was, for me, a break-through
activity that began to shape my “destiny” at A.C. and the church. It was
a speaking club called Ambassador Club patterned after Toastmasters
International. I excelled in this activity which was designed to enhance
public speaking abilities. Being older I had a larger history of “things”
that had happened in my life, including the service years, and built that
background into the six minute speeches required.

One day riding my motorcycle to A.C. I had an accident. The route I
took, the shortest I could devise, had a section over some hills and down
into the San Gabriel Valley on the other side. It was part of the curvy
route 39. I entered a curve going a little too fast and had to go out onto
the shoulder of the road. I hit some gravel on the shoulder and the bike
skidded out from under me and I went down hard. I was skinned a little
on my left arm but my side and back hurt pretty badly. I picked up the
bike and sat down on it for a while. I recovered some and decided to go
on to A. C. I went to classes in the morning suffering but not letting on
to anyone. I ate my packed lunch and went into the Library Bldg.
Entering the front door I encountered a couple of students wrestling
with a heavy TV console stand. They saw me and asked if I would give
them a hand carrying it up the stairs. I couldn’t refuse so grabbed one
end. It was a painful climb up the stairs but I managed. I didn’t tell
anyone about my fall.

After several months we decided we would have to rent our home and
find something to rent nearer to the college. We found a couple who
were looking for a house to buy in our very area and they said they
would rent our house. I think we mentioned to them that we might sell
later. Actually we ended up later selling the house to them because the
California State Veteran’s loan we had only allowed us to rent the house
for one year and then sell or move back in. A year later we sold to them.

Looking for a place closer to A.C. my folks, who lived on 5th Avenue in
Arcadia, told us of a house on their street that was up for sale but that
we might talk the owners into renting it to us. They agreed and we lived
there for several months. Then we found a nice 3 bedroom house near
El Monte, CA on Freer Street. With the help of Derith’s folks we bought
the house and were able to make the payments. We lived there for about
two years during which our son Al Jr. played little league baseball and
became an “ace” pitcher. Al was left handed and big for his age and in
one game he struck out 15 batters in a six inning game.

During this time Al and Mike attended Imperial School, the grade
school started by the Church. At noon time, between classes at the
college, I used to go down after lunch to see Mike. The few kids
attending grade school had little to do during lunch hour so I began
showing them some games like Four Square and dodge ball and even
hop scotch. They began looking for me each day to come down and play
games with them. The head of the school, Lynn Torrance, observed me
playing games with the kids and even doing some exercises with them
like Jumping Jacks. He asked me if I would like to take a small job as a
kind of Lunch monitor for the kids. I was happy to do it and got a “very
small” salary for doing so. Later I suggested a kind of P. E. or physical
education class for the kids and Lynn and his wife said that it was a
good idea.

They got permission for the class and since I had a break in classes in
the afternoon I began a kind of exercise class with deep knee bends,
jumping jacks, dodge ball and jogging around the college athletic field
track. I got a “raise in salary.” It wasn’t a whole lot but it helped out
since we were basically living on the payments from the sale of my
business. At the beginning of my junior year at A. C. I was given the
opportunity to work in the Letter Answering Dept. (LAD) of the
church. My grades in Bible classes and my “performance at
Ambassador Club in speaking had been “noticed” and they felt I had
enough Bible knowledge to be able to answer questions and reply to
letters sent to the church. I worked out a schedule for the hours I could
work in the LAD but I had to stop my work at Imperial School. This
also was an increase in income that was most welcome.

About the middle of my Junior Year Ted Armstrong called me in to his
office in the Administration Building and said they were going to let me
begin to give “sermonettes” on occasional Sabbath day services.
Sermonettes were short little sermon-like talks ahead of the main
sermon by the minister. I had heard of them and knew of some senior
students like Leroy Neff who were giving sermonettes. I was thrilled
because I knew that such was done as training for future ministers. I
was also a little frightened whether I would be “good enough” for the
opportunity. My first “assignment” was to go to the Fresno Church and
give a sermonette ahead of Richard (Dick) Armstrong, Ted Armstrong’s
brother.

I don’t remember the subject of my sermonette but I so remember
spending quite a bit of time writing out what I was going to say virtually
verbatim in a little notebook. We left Al, Mike and little Susie with my
Mom and Dad and drove to Fresno early and went to a park with our
packed lunch. I remember rehearsing my sermonette with Derith and
how nervous I was. Then the time came and I was introduced and got
up to give my first sermonette. As I said, I don’t remember the subject
but I do remember something that “happened” as I got into my
“subject.” I suddenly found I didn’t need my notes at all and when I
turned to scriptures in the Bible to accent my subject a flow of ideas and
words just “boiled out of me” and I realized that giving sermonettes was
exhilarating and more “natural” than even the Ambassador Club
speeches in which I had already discovered were kind of “down my
alley.” I was no longer apprehensive.

Over the next few months I gave a number of sermonettes and also
began leading the hymns not only in outlying churches but at the
Pasadena services that were now being held at the old Shakespeare
Club building in Pasadena that the church rented on Saturdays for
services. The former leader for the hymns was so very amateurish that I
mentioned it to someone and that resulted in my “trying out” to lead the
music. I studied a bit on the kind of patterns to use for the various three
and four part motions in leading singing. So, when I began leading the
singing there were many comments about how much better it was, so I
became the song leader for the Pasadena Services and then was
“commissioned” to do the song leading for the much larger
congregations at Holy Days and the Feast of Tabernacles.

My junior year at Ambassador ended in June of 1959. Then, just as my
Senior year was about to begin, in September of 1959, Ted Armstrong
once again called me in to inform me that I was going to be ordained as
a Local Elder, the lowest and first rank of the ministry as the church
understood the various “ranks” of ordained ministers. I was the first
student at Ambassador College to be “ordained” before graduation. So
on the next Sabbath, in September of 1959 in at the Shakespeare Club I
was ordained. I was very humbled by the experience but down deep I
just knew that being a minister in this church was the fulfillment of the
whole reason I had joined the church in the first place and had so
fervently wanted to go to Ambassador College – I also felt, at this time,
that I had finally found some of the answers to what I had been seeking
for many “lost” years.

I now worked full time at the Letter Answering department and also
was given oversight of the “office building mailing dept.” Fall came and
we went to Big Sandy, Texas to the Feast of Tabernacles where the
church had a property where church annual “holy days” were held.
Derith and I and the “kids” drove over and stayed at the Claiborne
Motel on the highway at Gladewater, Texas, the closest town to the Big
Sandy compound.




I was leading the singing of hymns every day for the large audiences
that attended the Feast of Tabernacles from church areas from several
states. I also was selected to give several sermonettes at the services. One
day Ted Armstrong stopped me after services and said that I was going
to be allowed to give a “split sermon” the next day. Sermonettes were
only 8 to 10 minutes in length but a “split sermon” was usually 45
minutes in length. Regular sermons were usually over an hour so
sometimes they had two split sermons instead of a sermonette and a full
sermon. Well, I was a bit shaken by this news. I was very comfortable
with a ten minute sermonette, but to “talk” for 45 minutes, that was
something else. I only had the rest of that evening to think of a subject
and then prepare it. I “over prepared,” spending hours on it. However
when the time came I not only was able to “give” the split sermon but
became very enthusiastic during it and found, once again, that the
theme and the thoughts just bubbled out of me like a gushing fountain.
“Preaching” was always, thereafter, a kind of “rapturous” event for me
in which a great deal of every sermon came from spontaneous thoughts
and examples that “just came to me” while preaching.

I continued working in the Letter Answering Dept. but I heard while
working there that there were many complaints from people who wrote
in for literature that it took a long time before they got their literature. I
had become much closer to Ted Armstrong by this time and Derith and
I had gone out to dinner with he and his wife, Shirley, to the original
Westward Ho restaurant. So, I mentioned to him that I thought I could
make a survey of how requests for literature came in, where they were
sent and how their requests were fulfilled and then how soon the actual
mailing of the literature happened. Ted said he would talk to his father,
HWA, about it. Shortly thereafter Mr. HWA called me up to his office
in the Library Building and queried me on what I wanted to do.
Because I had been in business and knew a bit about streamlining the
process of making furnace fittings for the best efficiency, I told HWA
that I would study all the steps between the receipt of a letter requesting
literature until the Lit was finally mailed out and by this process would
find where the “holdups” were happening and then changes could be
made.

He liked the idea and commissioned me to do the study. He told the
manager of what they called the “office building” who was over
literature distribution and also the Letter Answering Dept., a man
named Mauck, that I was going to make the survey and to let me look
into whatever I felt I needed to. I spent about a week looking into the
various steps and made out a chart of the process. Then I made out
another chart with my recommendations for improving the system and
submitted it to HWA. I showed on my revised chart that the Literature
would go out “the very next day” instead of the two weeks it had been
taking. HWA was surprised and very pleased and had me instruct Mr.
Mauck on how to make the changes.

It was a church practice to conduct “evangelistic campaigns” in various
cities where many people had written in and where the church had
extensive radio coverage for the World Tomorrow radio program. A
campaign was to be held in Springfield, Missouri in the summer after
the completion of my Junior year at Ambassador and Ted Armstrong
was going to conduct it. He asked me if I would like to go along and be
the song leader or conductor for singing before evangelistic services. I
was delighted, so Derith and I and the children drove to Springfield. It
was a very successful campaign in which quite a number were added to
the Springfield church. It was on the next to last day of the campaign
that we got word that Ted’s brother, Dick Armstrong, had been killed
in an automobile accident. He had been riding in a car coming from a
Bible Study with the local elder in the area, Don Billingsley. He died at
the hospital after the head-on collision. Don Billingsley was only slightly
injured.

This was a very disturbing event not only for Ted and Mr. and Mrs.
HWA but for the church in general. It seemed to shake a kind of feeling
that “god” wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen to such high ranking
ministers as Dick Armstrong who was of “Evangelist” rank, the highest
rank in WWC except “Apostle” which was Mr. HWA’S title. A small
disquiet bothered me at this time for a while that perhaps we were NOT
so specially guarded and protected as I had felt. It is kind of essential to
mention that the overall “faith” and feeling in WWC was that ONLY
WWC among all the religions and churches in the world was the one
and only true church and hence was in a very special and exclusive
relationship to “god” and that prophetically all members of WWC were
chosen or “elect” and had a kind of umbrella from god and eventually
would become “kings and priests” in the “world tomorrow” and lead
the nations of the world into a Millennium of learning to obey and serve
god and into an ultimate Kingdom of God that would be eternal here on
earth.

Returning to Ambassador College after the Evangelistic Campaign, my
senior year at AC was about to begin. Once again Ted Armstrong called
me to his office and gave me startling news. I was to be ordained as a
Preaching Elder, a rank in the ministry that was viewed as becoming a
“full” minister. A local elder was more like the office of deacon but one
who was able to pray for the sick and give sermonettes. I was a bit
flabbergasted. However I was also elated and felt as if I had finally
“done something.” Derith was also quite proud of my “achievements.”

I now began my senior year at Ambassador September of 1960. Dr.
Herman Hoeh, another Evangelist in the church was also a “professor
or teacher” at the college and taught a fourth year class in World
History. It was not a conventional world history class but one oriented
to Biblical history and the prophetic unfolding of world history leading
to the return of Christ and the beginning of the Millennium and the
establishment of the “world tomorrow” or the kingdom of god. Herman
Hoeh was writing his thesis for a doctorate degree. His thesis was a
“compendium of world history” which, of course, was to show how all
history was the fulfilling of Biblical prophecy that led to the world
tomorrow. His fourth year history class in my senior year was virtually
student participation in the various aspects of his thesis.

He asked several of us in his class to do an outline of world history, with
this same orientation, to see if we could corroborate what he felt were
key points in conventional history that paralleled Biblical history. Our
group consisted of me, Dave Antion, Bill Mc Dowell and Ron Kelly. The
four of us worked evenings at the house we were living in at the time on
Bellview St. in Pasadena. Derith often fed us and it strained her budget
which was very slim at this time. She also used to make applesauce
cakes for the kids lunches and we would often eat up all the applesauce
cake on those evenings which was very upsetting to Derith.

We finished our outline and submitted it to Herman Hoeh. He was so
pleased with our confirmation of his findings that he gave us special
recognition to the whole class. We all got “A’s” on our report cars for
that class that year. I was made Student Body President that year and
also became the editor of the college news paper. I also was preaching
occasional sermons. I graduated with leading grade point average and
was designated to give the graduating address which was given at
graduation exercises in “the lower gardens” behind the Library, class
room building. I graduated from Ambassador College September 1960

My brother John Portune attended my graduation and listened to my
graduation address. He later told me that there was something about
what I had said and especially the way I had said it that reached out to
him. John was attending the University of Oregon studying physics and
on his way to a degree in science which had always been his great
interest. Later my brother John abandoned his science career to attend
Ambassador College himself. He often has told me that he couldn’t
believe that he could turn from his chosen goals in science and attend
what he called a “funky butt” little college like A.C. But he also said
there was something about it all that he couldn’t turn from and so he
attended, graduated became a minister, went to England and joined the
faculty there teaching second year bible, managing the radio studio
there and teaching other courses. Somehow his A.C. experience and
what has happened since fits a rather profound pattern that I will
mention later.

The “events” of the next twelve years of my “association” with WWC
and A.C. were together exciting, inspirational and tragic. To recount
them in detail would fill the pages of one or two lengthy novels. In fact
much has been written about those “events” and the eventual demise
and scattering of the various elements of the church and college by
authors both pro and con and much appeared in print in local and other
newspapers, magazine articles, books and also TV programs. I will
summarize, for those of my family who will read these memoirs, what
were my feelings and participation in the elements that seem most
appropriate to mention.

I “rapidly” advanced in the ministry being ordained as a “Pastor rank”
minister in 1961 and subsequently to “Evangelist rank” minister in
1963. Later I took post graduate courses and received a Masters Degree
in Theology at a small exercise in the Gymnasium. The only way I can
or could reconcile this unusual “progress” or advancement into the
deeper aspects of the church, religion and overall operations of WWC
was and is that something providential was at work that I couldn’t fully
see at this time but as the years have passed has become more evident.

Because the former business manager for the whole church was
discovered stealing from the church he was discharged. Because of my
“record” and other things I had done in the church Mr. HWA
appointed me as business manager in 1965. On examining the “books”
or the debits and credits and financial condition of the church I was
appalled. There was not one cent in cash in the bank. Daily income
receipts from donations were being taken to the bank daily to clear
checks that had formerly been issued for payments to radio stations for
the World Tomorrow broadcast, other items purchased and payroll
checks that had been issued.




Virtually the first week of my tenure as business manager the bank we
used in Pasadena asked for a meeting at their executive office of the
Financial Manager for the church at their offices. At the meeting they
presented me with the banks “books” on WWC account management in
which they said we were “Kiting” checks, which means that we were
issuing checks with no bank balance and hoping enough income would
come in daily to cover them. They wanted this to be immediately
corrected or they would call in an “Examiner” who might bring charges
against us. I told them that I would immediately go to the Pastor
General, Mr. HWA and that we would correct the matter immediately.
Going back I discussed the matter with HWA. He was totally surprised
because he had NO knowledge of the financial condition of the church.
Everything had been purposely hidden from him by the former business
manager. I outlined what would have to be done and he gave me “carte
blanch.” I immediately stopped issuance on ANY checks for ANY
reason. In a few days the daily income being deposited to the bank
cleared all outstanding checks. Next I examined the income vs. outgo
and found that the bulk of the income was going for payment of radio
broadcasting on multiple stations around the nation and overseas.

I cancelled a substantial number of broadcasts that seemed to me had
overlapping coverage in various areas. In essence I “balanced the
budget” so that there was more income than outgo. I also discovered
there were many payroll checks that had not been issued and I began
issuing the oldest ones a little at a time until everyone was paid up to
date. Herman Hoeh commented to Derith on one Sabbath service that
he was getting checks without having to virtually beg for one as he had
had to do for several years. Looking back on those events I once again
can see and understand that there was a guidance and a sense of
“something” more than I inherently possessed in human talents that
“gave me” the insight and understanding to do the things I did.

The agent who was booking radio stations was making a small fortune
in commissions for getting our program on various stations. In fact he
had pressed HWA to go on stations we really didn’t need just to
increase his commissions. Another thing I was led to do was to fire this
agent and establish our own relationship to radio stations thus saving
the commission we were formerly paying. I then instituted a divisional
organization of the various “departments” (now called divisions) and
required a budget from each division such as Press, Radio,
Transportation, Mailing dept, Personnel Dept., college and Ministerial.
The combined budgets of all divisions constituted the budget needs. I
required a balanced budget with an excess to build solid reserves.
Gradually the church and college began to run much more smoothly
and in fact began to prosper beyond what I had hoped for.

During this time I pastured several churches as my “home” church. The
principle one was the San Diego church that I pastured for many years.
It was a very warm and pleasing church and we made many friends
there. The associate pastor that assisted me and lived in San Diego was
Don Billingsley the same Local Elder who had been riding with Dick
Armstrong when he was killed. Derith and I and the children Al, Mike
and Susie made many, many trips to San Diego to the Sabbath services
there. We had many pleasant days leaving home early, lunching at a
picnic park on the way to San Diego then preaching, counseling and
anointing the sick and then driving home with a stop at one of several
restaurants we liked. Those restaurant stops were a real “relaxing let
down” after a long day. We seemed always to have a gin gimlet before
dinner.

We had a small two bedroom church house to live in the first few years
on Terrace Drive below the campus, but eventually as the campus
expanded and the church bought more properties adjacent to the
campus we were blessed with a very nice home on Orange Grove Blvd.
after I had been business manager for a year or two. It was a lovely
home and Mr. Armstrong had it furnished in a very “luxurious” fashion
and we enjoyed it very much. The rose parade passed right in front of
our house every New Year’s morning and we could sit out on the front
porch and watch the parade go by. However I couldn’t ignore a feeling
rising in me that there were too many “benefits and “kudos’” being
“enjoyed” by the “higher ups” in contrast to the average church
member. Those things began to bother me more and more.

Our son Al went through Ambassador College as did our second son
mike. Both attended and graduated from Imperial School before
attending A.C. Al attended the A.C. college in Big Sandy his senior year,
was married to Elaine there, was ordained as a Preaching Elder and
went to San Jose, California to pastor the church there. Mike took night
classes in bookkeeping after graduating and started working for First
Interstate Bank on Lake Street in Pasadena. Mike married a graduate
of A.C. Big sandy, Susie Mc Allister. Our Susie attended A.C. after
graduating from Imperial School but did not graduate from A.C. She
married Larry Berg, son of an employee of the Radio Broadcast dept.

The “tragedies” began emerging in the late 60’s. Ted Armstrong who
was married to Shirley Hammer from Texas was found to be a
womanizer and had disgraced himself. His father’s attempts to reform
him were to no avail and he was ousted more than once. Ted was
executive vice president of the whole organization under his father
HWA who was also rated as President. I was made acting executive vice
president for a time. But the handwriting was on the wall, not only for
the church and “work” but for me as well.

Corruption at the top began to emerge. Monies diverted to jet aircraft,
expensive art objects, festive dinners and feasts, worldwide travel called
“spreading the gospel” to world leaders but filled with expensive hotels,
elaborate dinners and “shopping” became top heavy. Somehow my
earlier apprehensions seemed to be fulfilling in these “departures” from
the first basic purity I saw in the church and college many years
previously. A Jewish lawyer began cozying up to HWA, gained his ear
because he was able to connive financing schemes to make possible jets,
expensive art objects and extensive travel while at the same time
profiting by large commissions from the arrangements he made and a
large salary. HWA appointed him as his personal advisor.

I had made plans to upgrade the skills of the division heads by having
them attend various schools and courses. But I began to feel and sense
that my days as a managing force in the church were butting heads with
the “all powerful” theological and ministerial authority that HWA felt
was invested in him as THE Apostle. In essence I saw that the “dictator”
rule backed up by what was called “church authority” was something
that HWA and GTA did not want to give up because it would weaken
their absolute authority to make whatever decisions they wanted and
which catered to their personal advantage. Eventually my hands
became more and more tied because HWA and GTA began making all
business decisions because they thought I had too much authority and
oversight. Decisions and plans I had instituted were cancelled. I soon
found myself having to put my official signature as Business Manager to
documents and other agreements formulated by HWA with Stan
Rader’s advise which was money and power oriented, and that I did not
agree with and had no part in formulating. This all led to my final
decision to resign as business manager because I felt “blocked out” of
true management. The Jewish lawyer, Stanley Rader, catered to HWA
and found ways to give him what he wanted.

But it went deeper than that. For several years I sensed a feeling that
the doctrinal structures and emphasis of the church were based more on
a propaganda-like display similar to hyped up television advertisements
to promote membership, sales and income. Once again it was impacting
me that the place to which I had come was short of the real meaning of
life I had thought I would find here. It was, although more dramatic, a
repeat of what I had earlier realized about some of the churches,
programs and concepts I had encountered.

Earlier on HWA would call Ted and I to his office in the new
administration building to read to us the next “co-worker letter” that he
sent out monthly to the church members worldwide to encourage
donations and tithes. I often incurred HWA’S wrath when I would tell
him that what he was writing was either an exaggeration or totally
untrue. One prime and overt misrepresentation occurred when he wrote
to the membership about the time the new auditorium was completing.
For years the church membership had been asked to donate money for
“the building fund” which was to pay for the building of “The House for
God.” For a while those donations were set aside for that purpose but
the desire for new jet airplanes, art objects, expensive trips and gifts to
questionable recipients soon took those funds for those purposes over
any objection I had. In essence, because I was business manager
through all this I knew that there had been enough money donated to
the building fund over the years to already have paid for “The House
for God.”

In the co-worker letter HWA was “forcefully” telling the membership
that NOW that the house for god was about finished WE’D HAVE TO
PAY FOR IT! I knew that the house for god had already been paid for
and THIS request was simply false and a misrepresentation. That was
just too much for me and I just got up and walked out of his office. I
had seen so many misuses of the heartfelt donations and tithes of the
membership and the “high living” tendencies that I had just about had
a belly full. I simply could not occupy what was now only a figure head
position and title as business manager when I had been pushed aside in
favor of management by “fiat” or imposed authority backed by falsely
assumed religious authority and without true dedication to the very
principles that were expounded on radio broadcasts, letters and
doctrine. Resignation was the only honest thing I could do and still live
with myself. Thus I resigned and shortly thereafter left the church.
                    POST WWCOG EXPERIENCES



There was a time earlier on in my years at Worldwide Church that I
truly felt I had found the answer to what seemed to be pushing me from
very early in my life. It took nearly 20 years to once again see that this
“life” or “religious” experience was also part of a larger providential
experience leading to something beyond. It was a “step along the way”
to something greater. In WWC I believed that what I had first begun to
hear from WWC was REALLY the final answer and that I was on the
road to the achievement of the true meaning of life. In reality that was
“true” in a sense. That is because I somehow NEEDED that WWC
experience, the deeper study into Biblical and historic matters.

By my years in WWC, I now feel, that providence was pushing me to a
far more extensive study of religious writings and the experiences both
in WWC itself, and afterward, to see how men or mankind is willing to
find comfortable or satisfying plateaus in life and is willing to “stay
there” and go no further – especially if it is profitable and fulfilling to
the ego. Somehow there was something in me that no matter how
satisfying and seemingly complete was the station or plateau that
“seemed” to assure eternal “safety” and fulfillment, I was continually
being prompted or “pushed” to realize that perhaps I was only seeing a
partial picture and had to come to a wider view or to where my vision
would be clearer and I would be able to truly see if the place I had taken
as my refuge was REALLY and actually the final and the real answer.

Metaphorically I was beginning to see that following a deeply felt quest
or odyssey in life is similar to climbing a high mountain. It is only at the
very top that vision is clear enough to come to a FINAL conclusion
about everything spread abroad because you can now see the whole
picture. But there must come an indefatigable verification that one has
indeed reached the very top of the mountain. As I “penetrated” further
by my deeper and intense focus on religion in WWC and in examining
“reality” rather than “belief stylized by hope” and the “performance”
of the leaders I had felt were the closest to the true reality I sought, the
inner prompt or “push” made me begin to question whether I might
myself be on a humanly satisfying and safe plateau.

On the climb up the mountain the pathway or trail often leads through
many plateaus where the grass seems green, where there is ample water
and comforting shade under the branches of lovely trees. Many on
varying quests other than religion and also on religious odysseys find
satisfaction on one plateau or another and with no desire to climb
further. It becomes a “sure thing” to them and they “rest” there. They
are sure “this is it” as I was sure in the beginning that WWC and its
“view” was IT. But there was a much deeper principle I had not yet
understood because it was never “broached” in the church. It came
gradually to me as I continued in my quest for a final and real answer. I
had never really faced this principle or even truly grasped that it was
virtually at work and how important it was to clear vision. It came when
I faced the question: “Why am I so dedicated to finding this ‘place of
rest’ or this “safety net” that would assure me of eternal safety and
fulfillment?”

One of my first exposures in life of a sense that one had found a sure
thing was very early on when, as a young boy, I first attended a Catholic
Church with my grandmother who was a devout Catholic. The awe and
grandeur I saw as a child never left me as a profound memory of
something that felt like “power” and authority there, along with “all the
answers and where there was safety, comfort, satisfaction and
protection.” Later on in my own religious quest I came to realize that
the seeking or questing in life for comfort, satisfaction, assurance, and
safety is founded, one way or another, on finding refuge from
“EXISTENTIAL APPREHENSION.” Existential apprehension is
universal in all self conscious or self aware beings -- man. It is that in
that consciousness there is the awareness of manifold threats to life,
comfort, safety, satisfaction and worth. No sentient man is free from this
sense whether he recognizes its impetus upon him or not. It was not
until I truly understood its presence and its “force” in my life that I
began to understand what was at the basis of my lifelong quest.

While the “theology” of WWC did not allow it, the open minded
examination of the tangible evidence of the history of life and man on
this planet was something I had previously “ruled out” by the strong
religious concepts of a specific creation no more than about 7000 years
ago. There was simply NOW available just too much evidence that
religion had not even known of or had been honestly impacted by when
the basis of religion had been founded long ago. The major religions of
this world were formulated and hypothecated in times when everyone
believed that the earth was flat and any who said otherwise were
heretics. Religion originated in times when the earth was the center of
the universe and when there was no knowledge that galaxies even
existed.

It has only been two hundred years ago that there was NO knowledge of
geology or that fossils existed that told a story of life on this planet
millions of years old. William Smith drew the first geological map that
had ever been created in 1801 AD. His survey of the British Isles and his
“map that changed the world” were the very first inkling that the very
ground everyone walked upon held a story never before imagined in a
world that literally universally believed in a divine creation as the
source of all things, not even knowing the existence of all things.
William Smith’s discoveries were treated in the beginning as heretical --
following old religious prejudice -- but became too obvious and
verifiable to be rejected.

What has emerged since that time has revealed a world and a universe
being guided and directed by a benign force leading to a state of being
far beyond any former religious concepts for man’s destiny. I want to
point out to those who may read these memoirs that I am not trying to
convince anyone or to write a thesis to be exposed to anyone other than
perhaps family. These are MY feelings and conclusions to be viewed in
whatever way those who read this choose. This is who I am and what I
am as clearly as I can define it.

Honestly and without religious prejudice, as far as that is possible for
me, I now realize by being honest with the realities that have emerged,
that religion began millions of years ago when the first conscious or
personally aware creature emerged on earth – early man. Never before
in the history of this earth had there been a creature that knew of its
own existence, was “self aware,” and also “environmentally aware” of
its surroundings. That reality is written in the very evidence revealed in
the very structures of this earth an evidence that “religion” never knew
when it was variously formulated. It was in this creature – man – that
existential apprehension first emerged and was “felt.” This creature
could be aware of threats to his existence and welfare from other
creatures and environmental circumstances in a way far beyond the
instinctive reactions of animals.

The early consciousness of threats was constantly disquieting to the self
conscious creature he had become. This disquiet brought forth the first
concepts of gods or a power behind apprehensive environmental threats
to safety, protection, comfort and the availability of sustenance. Thus
the first elementary gods emerged as is seen in so many ancient
monuments, carvings and totems mostly ignored by most religions and
all of which predate the more sophisticated religions devised by man.
Volcano gods, rain gods, fire gods, sun gods, food gods and on and on.
They were behind and in control of every existential threat that early
man could conceive. This belief engendered the very first “religion” on
earth for there had never been one before.

In primitive man, although religion will not allow that such a creature
even existed, “placation” of “elementary” gods became necessary via
acts of demonstrative “worship” or reverence. Myriads of dances totems
and outward show were improvised as being “satisfying” to the gods or
powers that controlled the protections, “blessings” and other existential
needs and desires. This is not a theory but a reality in ancient writings
that predate the Bible and the religion that produced it. Out of this
emerged the concept of sacrifice and offering resulting in a variety of
sacrificial “offerings” to placate the gods, even human sacrifice --
especially in times when existential factors were pressing. THESE ARE
THINGS THAT REALLY HAPPENED in the history of man on this
earth while on the other hand many of the claims for historic
happenings delineated in religion have to be taken on faith or unverified
belief. Religion can be traced, if one is honest enough to face the
“uncomfortable” feeling of leaving the comfortable plateau of the
“beliefs” that help to satisfy their own existential apprehensions, down
through the eons of time that extend back far earlier than 7000 years
ago.

Astounding as it may be, on honest investigation, the basis of religion
has little changed from the religion of primitive man. It is still belief in
gods who control everything, even life and eternal life itself. Most of
mankind still feels it cannot be safe and have any kind of secure present
or future without serving, worshipping, placating one or more of those
gods. Religion has become more sophisticated as MAN “tweaked” it,
added to it, embellished it and tailored it to the benefit of power centers,
profitable institutions and self aggrandizement. However, sacrifice of
one kind or another is still a requisite in many forms along with the
sacrifice or “offering” of money for those who have found that religion
is a lucrative business. Promoting religion as the “salvation for man”
requires money and is perhaps the most prominent sacrifice to enable
the “preaching of the gospel or “good news” to the world whatever
forms that “gospel or good new” may be represented. One could list
thousands of sacrifices and offerings threaded through manifold
religions, but it is still that same primitive motivation – that sacrifice,
offerings, sacraments and worship bring existential advantage.

The grandeur of religion’s leaders, their robes, their churches and
cathedrals, the pomp and “sanctity” displayed, the rituals so “elegantly”
displayed and on an on create the illusion of a sanctity and relationship
to “god” that even those in those exalted positions are often looked to as
actual vicars or representatives of “the” god himself. The desire to be
recognized and acclaimed as the leader or founder of a church or
religious movement is great. It even was thousands and thousands of
years ago in the preeminence of being “the Medicine Man.” But it all
goes back to the first primitive placation of existential apprehensions
and those who devised methods of placation.

For me it has come down to an elementary acceptance of what this earth
and its long, long history has brought forth naturally, spontaneously
and demonstrable based on the provable progressive and intelligible
“forces” at work upon it going back to a “beginning” beyond the
comprehension of mankind. What those forces or “a force” has brought
forth on this earth has followed a pattern. Not a religiously defined
pattern based on psychological needs but a natural pattern, verified by
the “natural evidence” that has progressed from the very first elements
of life down to the present highest form of life extant on earth – man –
and revealing a destiny greater than primitive religion ever professed.
Religion ignores or seeks to refute that natural process and replace it
with various creation stories that establish a power basis that is
nowhere evident in the natural evidence on this earth. Creation by fiat
establishes a god concept and therefore a power that controls all things
and must therefore be served, placated, obeyed and worshipped
according to a methodology devised by a “religion” that was created by
man. Further, a religion that seems to be able to “dispense” the forms
of placation and then the assurance that that placation has been
“accepted” by “god” places that religion as a power center that virtually
seems irresistible.

                                        *******

It is startling to realize that in the absence of “self consciousness” there
was no consciousness of a god. For millions of years there has been life
on this earth teaming over the vast natural resources of field, valley and
savannah. A form or level of consciousness existed in those life forms,
even in the most primitive. But the capacity to conceive of a god did not,
and in fact could not emerge, that was because ALL consciousness prior
to the emergence of primitive man was not aware of “self” and hence
had no apprehension of its relationship to the environment other than
instinctive self preservation via escape, hiding and natural defense. No
gods, no sacrifices, no worship, no faith and no placation for
preservation. This story is indelibly written in the very structure of this
earth and not in religious formulations that had no knowledge of what
was written in the earth upon which they walked.

The emergence of self consciousness on this earth was a “natural and
spontaneous” response to an inexorable and purposeful “force” that
initiated the existence of the entire universe. There is nothing,
NOTHING, that has ever appeared, emerged, developed and “matured”
on earth or in this universe that has not “come to be” except by a
natural and spontaneous response inherent to the underlying “force”
that is inseparable from the universe itself. I have come to call it an
eternal, purposeful, progressive “thrust” or – “the endless exploration
of infinite being.” Nothing that has ever “happened” or will ever happen
can EVER BE outside of that eternal, natural and spontaneous thrust
inherent to the universe itself. But it IS something transcendent and far
greater than what is ‘fanciful” in religion.

The emergence of consciousness on this planet is a natural and
spontaneous “essence” or development of the progressive thrust or
endless exploration of infinite being inherent to the force that motivates
and empowers the universe. Using words common to our society today -
-“from Big Bang to current man -- is the history of that progressive
thrust.” It has been a progressive thrust or an “upward thrust” and
therefore consciousness is the most “advanced’ or progressive element
thus far “brought forward” by the natural, spontaneous and benign
“force” of the universe. For the first time in the history of the universe
an element has emerged that can be aware or conscious of the universe
itself. No creature before self conscious man has ever been aware or
conscious of the universe.

Consciousness itself therefore is progressive or must fulfill or continue
the endless exploration of infinite being. Consciousness MUST explore
experience and participate in its awareness of the universe and what has
emerged in the universe in order to continue the progression inherent to
the universe. The present highest level of consciousness is self
consciousness, which up to “now” is the only dimension that makes
possible the present level of the exploration of the universe and hence
the conscious ability to participate in and with the universe. The
elements of the progression of the thrust of the universe or the endless
exploration of infinite being must be found in or by consciousness. But it
must emerge as a consciousness “above” or greater than self-
consciousness and reach greater fulfillment in the endless exploration of
infinite being.

Deriving its progressive “forward” thrust from the basic natural and
spontaneous progressive force of the universe itself, the present self-
consciousness in man “naturally” and spontaneously strives for more
and more methodology to advance itself. The “drive” in man since self
consciousness first arose in him to advance SELF is the testimony of
history. As it has always been in the history of this planet since the first
life forms emerged.

It cannot be otherwise in a universe whose thrust is always forward in
the endless exploration of infinite being. But the testimony of history
shows that advancement comes by “trial, correction and the discard of
inferior results and adoption and advancement to superior elements
that are ever closer and closer to the quest for infinite being. In
mankind the self-conscious quest for advancement in infinite being via
technology, science, social organization and religion have been “weighed
in the balances and found wanting.” But as the evidence of the history of
life and “species” clearly declares the “seeds” of the true advancement
of the basic thrust of the universe have been laid or planted by the
experiences that have been found wanting in self-conscious man and are
bound for discard.

The vast bulk of self-conscious mankind still feels its current
methodologies are able to produce what “the spirit in man” (self-
consciousness) believes are comforting, satisfying and fulfilling. Men
find solace and a measure of satisfaction in entertaining devices that
bring diversion from facing existential apprehensions. Cars, boats,
televisions, phones, music, night clubs, sports, vacations, careers,
possessions, sex and perhaps most of all “religion.” But if consciousness
is “pushed” by the basic thrust of the universe it will begin to discover
that NONE of these diversions are the answer but merely “plateaus or
resting places they have chosen rather than continuing to climb honestly
and sincerely.

I now want to recount a period in my life that has led to this conclusion
and the great neo-conscious experience that has resulted. Once again I
do not write these things as a thesis in an attempt to teach or convince
anyone or even to encourage that anyone try to follow the pathway I
have walked or climbed or to feel what I have felt. This is simply the
story of me for my family so that they may know me and what life has
meant to me.

After leaving the Worldwide Church of God I felt for a time that there
was nowhere else to look since I felt I had seen religion from its first
inception to it furthest “advancement” in current mankind. Yet I
somehow knew that the “search” wasn’t over and that there was MORE
if I could only find it – or that it might find me! I read and studied many
volumes by men who seemed as if they were seeking answers too. But
the conclusions of all of them all ended with classic religious or secular
fulfillments variously defined and manifested on earth today.

Then a basic principle began to emerge for me from a kind of composite
sense that came from all my studies. That principle was that what
NEEDS to be seen cannot be seen with normal eyes or normal vision or
methodology – which in essence is “self-conscious” vision. It came down
to the need to see NOT the primary object or image from which to seek
self-conscious gratification, but rather the “image behind the image.” It
took me several months to truly grasp the meaning of what was eating
at me. Then one day I understood.
My daughter Suzie and her husband Larry were living in Park City,
Utah because of their “work” or employment there. Derith and I went
there on several occasions to visit them and our grandson Brandon Berg
who was a tot at that time. We had a nice house trailer and a van to pull
it so we would go there and stay at a campground not far from their
home. On one occasion our trailer was parked at a campsite near a
small intermittent stream that ran at the edge of the campground. It
was about mid day, we had had lunch. I was sitting on the couch in the
trailer facing the windows that looked out on the creek and the hills
behind.

I had been reading for about half an hour or so and my eyes were a bit
tired so I looked out of the window at the almost dry creek bed where a
few scraggly trees were trying to survive and then past the creek to the
hills beyond covered with dry brush. Suddenly, whether in the sight of
my eyes or in a vision in my mind, I do not know which to this day; I
saw a verdant green hillside filled with the loveliest lush trees, ferns and
shrubs I had ever seen. The stream was full and the scraggly trees were
rich with foliage. A feeling of great peace and completion arrested me as
if all the problems of life had been solved. But in a whisper it was all the
previous view again. But to me the meaning of “an image behind an
image” was now something real.

The impact of this previously untouched process was and has been
startling in its implications. All the background of my life, including the
pointed religious aspects thereof and all that I had seen about man and
the spirit that motivates him suddenly were understandable and fit a
pattern – springing from meanings emerging from images behind
images. Virtually all of mankind looks at the “direct image” and never
sees the image behind the image because he sees with self-conscious eyes
only. All “direct images” offer a myriad of “things” -- physical
enjoyments, aggrandizing uplifts, satiating involvements, comforts,
feelings of safety or illusions of existential guarantees that flow from
religious beliefs, pleasing diversions and the pride of ownership,
recognition and so on. But NONE of them are in the progression toward
the true eternal exploration of infinite because they are not the TRUE
image of the universe but the self-conscious view.
Man’s present consciousness, self-consciousness or self-entered
consciousness, cannot and does not see the universe as it really is. A new
and different consciousness must emerge in mankind to not only see but
be able to participate in the universe or in the eternal exploration of
infinite being. This is the “image behind the image” or seeing through
or behind this universe to what is beyond. The new and different
consciousness is not self-consciousness but a consciousness with is
“utterly” benign, honest, civil, caring and orderly and that has
discarded self-consciousness. The beginnings of this “utter”
consciousness are happening NOW at what is the close of the present
state of man.

Thus began a process that has continued for the last 25 years. There
have been many such impacts from images behind images that have
occurred in those years often so startling and unexpected they are
totally transcendental. I was shopping with Derith one day in a
supermarket. Actually I had left Derith doing her usual examination of
products and labels and had walked ahead and turned to go up another
aisle. As I turned into the next aisle there was a man and his wife and a
child in a stroller. They were perfect strangers but the moment I saw
them they were suddenly transformed. I was filled with such a love and
fondness for them that it was as if they were the closest possible family
members imaginable. It was even more than that, it was as if they and I
were bonded in a relationship beyond anything ever experienced
humanly. It was an overwhelming feeling that I can only barely touch
by example or explanation. It a “twinkling” it disappeared and they
were just “ordinary” again. But I knew I had seen an image of a state of
being behind the image of just ordinary people or being.

There have been many more like this. One day at a local park I was
taking a walk. I passed a tennis court and on it was a mature or even
elderly grey haired couple playing tennis. In fact they were loudly
berating the facilities as if they deserved something better than they
were “getting.” However they too were transformed for an instant of
time into something beyond adequate description. What had been a
scene of self-centered egoism was transformed into an indescribable
benign fullness that totally erased normal indignant reactions and
manifested a wholly benign, orderly and fulfilling state totally opposite
the “actual” image. When they returned in a “twinkling” to their
former state I could only smile and rejoice in “what I had seen” in that
image behind the image.

It is difficult to express the impact of the awareness or consciousness of
“UTTER” when it emerges as “part” of ones very “being” and sets in
contrast the former exclusive way of evaluation of the self-conscious
nature ever present in man. For me IT became a “witness” in me, ever
present, that made virtually every aspect of self-conscious life or living a
startling and transformative process. It was as if there was “another being
or consciousness” living in tandem with the “old normal person” I had
always been. That “other consciousness” sought ONLY what was honest,
benign, fair, compassionate and orderly. The impact of this “utter” was so
totally open and without ANY desire for deceit, self protection or
aggrandizement and with ONLY a TOTAL desire to be “straight and
honest” that the desire for such a state to exist for all mankind was like “a
balm in Gilead.”

I now knew that each “images behind images” that I had been
experiencing were images from THAT state. Seeing through the universe
or seeing the image behind the image was actually a conscious entry or
window into a world or universe where “utter” was the ONLY dimension
of consciousness possible for conscious entities. I also knew that this
capacity or ability to experience “utter” was NOT a normal human or self-
conscious dimension but rather I knew I had been somehow “touched” by
something beyond and greater than the present dimension of the world or
universe. The “touch” or presence of “utter” in consciousness is the
harbinger or forecast of the next “advance” of consciousness that will
defeat the selfish, self aggrandizing and self profiting greed that infests
mankind.

 I now mention an ancillary process that has been deeply penetrating
into the mores, beliefs and accepted conclusions of men. As I continued
to read and research I found that statements, concepts and conclusions
advanced in books, articles and web pages were also based on the
“direct image.” But as I read and studied these concepts and
conclusions I found that an entirely different meaning would emerge, in
a “flash-like” form from “behind” the image or meaning that was being
advanced. Here again was the image behind the image and IN that
image was direction toward an entirely new and different state of being
and target for infinite being.
It was similar but far beyond what is called “metaphor.” These were not
metaphors but meanings beyond metaphors that simply could not
emerge by metaphor alone. Just to give an example: In WWC and in
religion there is much said about repentance. In WWC I went on
several baptizing tours and baptized a number of people. I did the same
in the San Diego Church for those who found there way there and
desired to be baptized. Repentance was a requisite for baptism and
interrogation was necessary to ascertain if true repentance was present.
However repentance then, and basically in religions as a whole, was
simply comparative sorrow over sinning or breaking god’s law and
wishing to lead a cleaner life – but based on the “direct image” or self-
conscious image of what is defined by that religion.

Reading and rehearsing the basic concept of repentance in the writings
of men it is quite clear that repentance follows a quite standard religious
idea of reforming ones physical or “direct image” of life and leading a
more “godly” form of living according to the precepts of that church or
religion but all self-consciously based. But the image of repentance that
impacted me from the image behind the “direct” image of repentance
made me see that my life of self consciously wanting the acceptance,
recognition and prestige of being a member of a church, even if it was
called “god’s church” and actually feeling a kind of self-conscious
sorrow for having not lived up to a stylized religious standard and even
generating sentimental feelings about religious figures etc. -- was not
repentance at all. It was far short of the sense flowing from behind the
image, a sense of the shallowness of my own understanding of myself. I
began to realize just how far I had been from the true pathway to the
endless exploration of infinite being in my former religious concepts.

                                     *********

Now begins the description of an episode encompassing the last twenty
some years that has led to the deepest penetration thus far for
consciousness, my consciousness, in touching the true configuration or
state of being that CAN engage in the endless exploration of infinite
being. I will begin this with something that I have lived, experienced and
have come to understand as a living principle that MUST emerge in
order to continue the climb, journey or true odyssey of life. That
principle or configuration is that it is impossible to reach the true “top
of the mountain” or the true view or perspective of the purpose of life –
ALONE.

I believe this to be a living principle inherent in the very essence of man
which has come via the inherent power of the universe that is
progressively thrusting all things forward – including man’s
consciousness -- in the endless exploration of infinite being. A
transcendental leap in this exploration forward occurred in the history
of the progression of the basic thrust of the universe in the endless
exploration of infinite being when self consciousness first emerged in
primitive man. It has brought the unprecedented teeming technical,
mechanized complexity that is our current “modern” world, all
springing from self-consciousness and its “direct view.” But self
consciousness, as an experience in progressive infinite being, is
“passing” and ready for discard in favor or a greater consciousness or
step forward in “infinite being.”

The closest image of this that reflects from an image behind the image is
the relationship between male and female in the union of marriage.
However the union that is necessary is not restricted to a male/female
relationship but is a consciousness union. It is “synergy” or a melding of
two consciousnesses into a single unity in which normal human rank,
conflict or private superiority or bias has disappeared. It is the first
introduction to “utter.” Later I will attempt to explain that synergy is
the only hope for mankind. All mankind must reach synergism and the
old “shell” of “self” will be discarded as defective as many organisms
have been discarded through the history of this earth. This in essence is
the recrudescence of the human spirit that must happen.

My brother, John, altered and refurbished his whole direction in life of
wanting to become a scientist for which he was well on his way in
University and because he has and had great talent and would have
been very successful had he continued in this quest. The “spark” that
initiated this change of direction ignited for him the day I graduated
from Ambassador College and gave my graduation address in the
Lower Gardens of A.C. many years ago. Something in a kind of uniting
synergy occurred for him that day listening to my address. Actually I
believe he saw and heard an image behind an image -- and because of
what “touched him” he attended A.C., became a minister and a lecturer
in Bible classes and head of the radio studio at the College in England.
Our relationship has been unique over the years as it was even when he
was born a sickly infant when I was fourteen years old and whom I
helped nurse back from almost sure death to become a healthy boy.

I was now 66 years old, had retired from a second, or third, career as
manager of a heating and air conditioning wholesale supply company
that I had been with for about 10 years. My studies and research had
never ceased and I had reached a level of understanding, or perhaps
rather had “experienced” a “state” that was flowing from images
behind images that had reached a kind of impasse. I found myself “full”
of things that I had found but somehow lacking a “dimension” I needed
to go further. Basically it stemmed from having no one with whom to
share them or discuss them. My brother, John, lived up near San
Francisco and was working for an electronics firm in a responsible
position. He called to say that he and his wife were going to vacation in
Lake Tahoe for a few days and invited Derith and I to join them for a
little R and R. They had rented a large condo and said there was ample
room for us to share it. We accepted and met them at the Condo after a
day’s drive to Tahoe.

My “insides” or heart were brimming with the dimensions, experiences,
understanding and feelings from my long studies, research, image
experiences and contemplation that I wanted to share and discuss and
augment by explanation and question. Somehow I knew that John
would understand and that somehow sharing and discussing it all would
open things more deeply. I had felt all the way up to Tahoe on our drive
that I had to tell John what I had experienced and that he HAD TO
hear it. I must have shown somehow outwardly what was teeming inside
me because much later my Brother told me that the moment he laid eyes
on me that day, after a long period of not seeing one another, that there
was something about me that stood out to him like an aura.

We said our greetings, took our bags into the condo and into the room
that was ready for us. After an hour or so of “chit chat” we needed some
things from a little store nearby so John and I decided to walk to the
store to get them. On the way I began with little snippets related to the
things I had experienced and come to understand. Finally on the way
back from the store, I asked John straight out if he had ever “seen” an
image behind and image. I augmented my question by mentioning my
own “seeing” of images behind images. He was silent a bit and then said
that he didn’t believe he had, at least in the manner I described had
happened to me.

We were nearing the condo on the little path from the store and I had
continued to describe how images behind images seemed to occur. We
were passing a hedge of Manzanita bushes and John experienced
something that he didn’t feel like mentioning at the time, but later told
me that at that very moment the leaves and branches seemed to be
transparent, as if he could see through them and that there was
something beyond or behind them. This was “his” first glimpse of an
image behind and image or seeing through the “direct image” of the
universe. Over the next three days John and I had several long
discussions in which I outlined many of the experiences, insights and
understanding I had come to from seeing the images behind the direct
view. There was something very different and unusual about those talks
or discussions. There was a frankness and openness as if we were of the
same mind.

I am very familiar, because of my long teaching, preaching and
counseling experience, how in discussions and exchanges with others
there are always biases and opinions that block or buffer what one is
trying to express because others often won’t open their minds or hearts
to what one is trying to say because they are convinced of their own
positions, hence they hardly hear what the other is saying. This is so
common in human relations that often it sounds like two different
people talking only about their own opinion. This is how most
politicians seem to “communicate.” Once again, I am not writing these
experiences, feelings and conclusions to teach or convince anyone. This
is just a review of what I have come to believe personally and is only
what “I” am and not intended as a recommendation for anyone to
necessarily follow or believe.

Our talks were open and unified in a way I had never experienced
before. There seemed to be no private “rank” or position that needed to
be defended. It was almost as if instead of two minds with separate
identity or “position” there was only one mind or one “platform” being
investigated. Our visit ended all too quickly for both of us it seemed. I
am afraid, however, that the “others,” our wives that is, were a bit
peeved at us because we seemed to them to be too exclusive and that our
discussions were so intense. I remember my drive home and the
thoughts and emotions that coursed through me. I felt as if a former
feeling that I was alone in seeing and experiencing something of great
meaning had changed. Now there was someone with whom I could share
the profound impact that had arrested me in the last several years.

John and I began exchanging letters through the mail with occasional
phone conversations lasting over an hour. Later, to speed up written
interchange, we began faxing each other. After that the internet became
available and we became computerized and began using E mail and
attachments of longer messages we have called “Coms.” For a long time
I printed out everything and saved it in a file drawer. After several
years it had become so voluminous that I had a stack of papers over a
foot high. I stopped printing out and saved them electronically. But the
mechanics of our communications is not the important factor, but what
developed and emerged from it IS. The feeling I had earlier had that I
was somewhat alone in what I had experienced evaporated. This
synergy now opened unfettered discussions that brought the meanings
of images behind images from actual encounters and further from the
images behind images in many books, even the Bible, into deeper and
deeper understanding. A recrudescence of spirit occurs in this kind of
synergy.

As I mentioned earlier, interchange between two self conscious entities
is always “defensive and protective.” The “self,” that is at the heart of
“self consciousness,” has a protective shell around it based on its own
“direct view” concept of self derived from life experiences unique to
each individual. That self is always defensive of its own “identity” or self
image and hence the “opinions, standards and conclusions” that
constitute what an individual holds as his “self” image. Samuel Butler,
in 1678, formulated a description that aptly fits this individual state:
“He that complies against his will is of his own opinion still.”

The present “spirit” or matrix “in man” is self consciousness. Without a
recrudescence or “break out” of that spirit or matrix it is impossible for
human relations EVER to be unified or “at one.” Each self conscious
entity will retain its own “opinion” or defensive identity and hence in
communication or relationship with other similar entities a true
combined, honest, open and benign movement toward a “truly” unified
“opinion” or conclusion in any matter is impossible. The testimony of
the self conscious or self centered spirit in man is the history of man’s
relations with other men, organizations, religions, nations and the earth
itself – and the inevitable “end” that is fast emerging.

Once while in Washington, D. C. I read inscribed on the wall of the
Jefferson Memorial these words from one of the founding fathers of this
nation: “The only hope for mankind is the recrudescence of man’s
spirit.” I was deeply touched by these words because at the time in my
own long struggle I didn’t believe there was anyone else who saw and
believed this. I believe this with all my heart and also believe that such a
recrudescence is imminent.

As John and I continued our communications and relationship we
experienced something beyond normal human relations. It was without
the protective shells and barriers that self consciousness demands. We
have been able to communicate, relate, research and come to
conclusions and understanding in a rankless, none defensive, open and
benign way that we recognized as a “spirit” beyond the normal human
self-conscious or self-centered spirit. It has enabled a combined and
unified penetration into technical, secular and religious matters that
have enabled us to discard conventional human “icons” or platforms of
belief that have freed us from shackles we had previously not known
existed in us.

For over 20 years we have communicated, related to one another and
explored the most intimate secular and religious beliefs, positions and
platforms – many of which were formerly highly accepted or exclusively
endorsed by one or the other or us ourselves – that has resulted in a
complete new and transcendent understanding of human existence. It
has profoundly changed us. The combined, unified, rankless, unshelled
and benign spirit that has pervaded our unique relationship has not
once in over 20 years resulted in resentment, argument, hurt feelings
and competition so common to normal self centered human relations.

Self-consciousness or self-centeredness, the NORMAL vanity centered
spirit in man, would “claim” that the arrival at such a state of
awareness would be an indication of superiority or greatness bringing
ego satisfying self esteem. But such is NOT a dimension of this
profoundly changed spirit emerging. That is because along the way in
this relationship emerges a sense of utter civility, utter openness,
absolute honesty, utter compassion, total order and completeness – we
often just use the term UTTER to define this sense. It is an inner,
inherent knowing that THIS is the only state that CAN participate in
the “endless exploration of infinite being.” The present state of man is
obsolete and ready for discard.

This sense of “utter” – and all that that includes – is the next level or
state for consciousness. It has emerged in “man” on what is “the leading
edge” of the progression or evolution of consciousness. It seems to
emerge in what we have called “synergy” or that unique and
transcendent unification between consciousnesses that breaks all former
barriers for progress toward the exploration of infinite being. It seems
probable or altogether true that there are “others” who have
experienced this “synergy” and who have progressed as we have –
separate from us -- and come to the sense and experience of “utter” as
we have. We do not think there would be many and that because in the
history of the emergence of life on earth and the constant progression of
consciousness, when a former large expansion of entities reached
obsolescence they were discarded, leaving a limited number of “new
entities” that had emerged as the next level and which transcended the
demise of the former.

Two kinds or levels of consciousness now exist on this earth and
probably exclusively here because this earth seems to be the matrix for
the evolution of consciousness, and unique in the universe. One is “self-
consciousness” and the other is an emerging consciousness that has or
includes the dimension of “utter” or the ONLY kind of consciousness
that can be utterly civil, utterly compassionate, utterly honest, utterly
non confrontational and open and dedicated to continual harmony,
order, beauty and a progressive “upward thrust.”

Self-consciousness is intent on self and hence always competitive and
seeking its own benefits notwithstanding the effect or result impinged on
others or the universe. The inevitable result being visited upon this
earth and thus projected on the universe itself if self-consciousness were
to have any ultimate control or inter relationship to the universe beyond
the earth – is total demise or catastrophe. This is everywhere apparent
and becoming more and more imminent with each passing day. The
basic thrust of the universe from its very beginning, therefore, has
always been the eventual evolution of a kind of consciousness that would
care for the universe and all that is in it in its ultimate “eternal
exploration of infinite being.”

Self-conscious mankind has invented, conjured and imagined many
paradigms or models both secular and religious that seek eternal life.
But mankind does NOT have the kind of consciousness that is
compatible or capable of eternal life. Eternal life in a self-conscious
creature would be the worst possible dimension in this universe.
Honestly examined every paradigm of eternal life that mankind has
“divined” either religiously or secularly delineates a heaven, a nirvana,
a paradise or whatever be the form – that sees an ultimate creature that
“enjoys it” as a self-conscious creature being placated and pampered by
self oriented benefits, however religiously disguised as “spiritual” or
otherwise.

An anecdote was once written that “hits the nail on the head” in this
regard: “A man once died and awakened in what he knew was heaven
because present there was everything his heart could desire. There were
wonderful accommodations, gourmet food of every type and
configuration, beautiful women at his disposal, beautiful scenery and
anything he wanted at any time. The years went by and it was always
the same over and over and over again until satiation became
unbearable. Finally he cried out ‘I can’t take this any longer, send me to
hell!’ A voice then loudly replied: ‘Where do you think you are!’” Self-
consciousness can NEVER cope or function in eternal life.

There is a “natural and spontaneous” transition happening now at what
seems to be the approximate end of the “reign” of the predominating
consciousness on earth – self-consciousness. Self-consciousness MUST
transition or be replaced by UC or UTTER consciousness because it is
the unalterable and inevitable result of the basic thrust of the universe.
Therefore it is at the “leading edge” of the presently predominant self-
conscious creature – man – that the basic thrust of the universe has
“selected” some for the first touch of UC or UTTER to emerge AS their
consciousness. This is because the underlying force of the universe is
bringing forth a UC conscious entity that is totally and inherently
benign, honest, compassionate, fair, orderly and caring to be the
conscious force in the universe.

**************************************************
Self consciousness does not have eternal life and NO form of self
consciousness will EVER “inherit” eternal life. Eternal life is “reserved”
or is exclusive to a consciousness that can participate in the endless
exploration of infinite being or UC or UTTER being. I do not know how
many or “who” will be inspired or “touched” by the inherent power of
the universe to “reach” for the top of the mountain and in so doing
reach the “place” where they truly see human nature for what it
REALLY IS and that it has previously been the prime force in their
lives and in essence has driven them to be enticed by the comfortable
plateaus lower down the mountain. But I am sure, by the experiences of
my life, that there are some who will have detected and sensed the
“golden thread” in their lives as well which has providentially led them
“higher and higher.” They are those who, some of which, will eventually
participate in “the endless exploration of infinite being.”

This physical body that I seem to inhabit and the self-consciousness that
is still a living force in that body is NOT, any longer, the REAL essence
of my being. The “now” UC or UTTER consciousness that has touched
the utterly benign, utterly honest, and utterly compassionate and lives
only to participate with the universe in the endless exploration of
infinite being – is the consciousness that can and WILL experience
eternal existence, an existence so much greater than the secular goals or
the religious conjuring of eternal “self” reward that there could never
be a comparison.

Self consciousness is exclusively tied to the physical structure it has
inhabited. That physical structure is perfectly matched to the kind of
consciousness therein. But the entire mountain below its absolute peak
with its many plateaus that seem to gratify that consciousness and the
inhabitants thereof is about to reach its termination, having fulfilled its
purpose. At the very top of that mountain its peak touches the inverted
peak of “another mountain.” A new and transcendent consciousness
that has exclusively emerged at the very peak itself – utter or UC
consciousness – is about to step from one peak to the other and be able
to descend into a dimension beyond anything that can be described by
human self-conscious words, expressions or metaphor. It can only be
“touched” by images behind images or “seeing through this universe or
mountain” to the one beyond where those “images” will become a
reality. It is the only dimension in which eternal life can exist and fulfill
the eternal destiny of the universe – ‘the endless exploration of infinite
being.”

                       THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD

Various references are made to the life of Jesus from conception to resurrection as the
greatest story ever told. An epic film by United Artists with this title and theme was made
in 1965 directed by George Stephens. The movie and the general theme of the life of
Jesus as the greatest story ever told represents, religiously for Christians, one of the most
stirring and emotionally gratifying aspects of religion. This is because it supplies and
provides a spiritual-like haven or umbrella that satiates the fearful aspects of the
unknown and the qualms about existential apprehensions.

In actuality it is not so much whether the story is true or modified or exaggerated above
actual verification from history but rather that it fills an emotional need inherent in self-
conscious mankind for assurances thus far seemingly unavailable elsewhere. For the
other major religions of the world there are similar stories that also provide the buttress
against existential unknowns. In essence this is the basis of all religion and is a dimension
of “facing life” that mankind cannot do without as self-conscious and thus self-
apprehensive creatures.

But are these “themes” in religion really the greatest story ever told? There is another
“greatest story ever told” that was never known to man throughout all of the millenniums
during which the greatest stories of religion were formulated. The “discovery” of this
other greatest story every told is unbelievably no more than 200 years old. That discovery
began with the work, investigation and discovery by a man, William Smith, in the late
1700’s. Through years of investigation of strata, mysterious and unrecognized fossil
remains and the folding and unfolding of land in the British Isles William Smith drew the
first geological map EVER formulated or conceived. It is called today: The map that
changed the world.

Prior to the years of the formulation of this map there was no knowledge in the world OF
the “story” written in and upon the earth itself. There was NO knowledge of geology or
the written evidence in the earth itself of a story that had never been told before of how
the earth came to be as it is. Virtually all of mankind at that time believed, relevant to
various religious concepts, that the earth and the observable heavenly bodies were created
by “god.” Two hundred years ago there was no knowledge of what lay beneath the feet of
those walking upon the earth. But since that time the most remarkable, “true and
verified,” greatest story ever revealed about the origin, development and history of this
earth has unfolded. The earth has told its story, a story unknown to those who formulated
religious concepts from the whole cloth of human imagination based on fear. It is hard to
put in perspective that the founding fathers of our nation, the United States of America
knew NOTHING of geology and the true greatest story every told and all were endorsers
of divine creation as the origin of the earth.
The unfolding of that story has been resisted, rejected and discounted by the purveyors of
religion just as early discoveries that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe were
rejected and those who advanced those discoveries were burned at the stake for their
heresies. William Smith’s map and discoveries were for many years treated in a similar
manner just as those who said the earth wasn’t flat were also burned at the stake or
hanged. But the story has emerged and revealed a reality that can emancipate man from
his fantasies and long nurtured religious concepts based on fear and ignorance of the true
greatest story ever told.

No one before 1800 AD knew that there were creatures like Mammoths, Tyrannosaurus
Rex, and Brontosaurus, billions of bones, remains of man-like creatures or early man
millions of years ago that made tools and hunted animals. Unseen were countless shell
shells and tortured strata showing giant upheavals and mountain building. The story of
the history of the world was unseen and unknown. The progressive “evolution” toward
modern man – and beyond – was unknown. That knowledge emerging from that first map
has indeed “changed the world.” Yet as it has been through the years of religion based on
fear of the unknown, religion will not let go of its premise of creation by fiat and look at
that story as it is “naturally” told by the earth itself.

The story that has unfolded has revealed that there is an orderly, benign and purposeful
intelligence that is guiding the progressive developmental processes of the universe, and
this earth and the emergence of man and consciousness in an ever increasing order
toward an ultimate utterly benign, orderly, civil, honest and “natural” progression. Even
though that story has unfolded mankind still clings to one creation story or another that
has no basis or foundation in reality.

But EVERY religion through the history of man on this earth prior to 1800 AD was
written in total ignorance of the “true” greatest story ever told. The very earth that man
walks upon invalidates the ignorance that conceived the religious concepts and stories
man has invented to placate his existential unknowns and fears. All of self-conscious
man’s created gods fall like the Biblical Dagon with their hands broken off on the
threshold of truth. We are near the end of an era or age in which self-conscious man has
ignorantly exploited the very fabric of the earth that holds his destiny and ignorantly
followed false hope. A new creature is emerging with a new consciousness, an utterly
benign consciousness, utterly honest, utterly civil, utterly compassionate and possessed of
eternal life, a life that will unite with the universe itself and eternally explore infinite
being. This is the destiny of the “leading edge” of the current inferior consciousness –
self consciousness -- that will “give way” to a benign and “utter” consciousness that will
fulfill the destiny of the universe.
                                AL’S GRADUATION

I had absolutely no idea that day I attended Al’s graduation in the Lower Gardens
of Ambassador College, mostly out of family courtesy, but also out of an
impossible to define “curiosity,” that that day would be a major turning point in my
life. For little did I realize that I would be standing up there myself with other
Ambassador graduates just three years later.

I had attended two of this world’s big universities, the University of California and
Oregon State University, and I knew what a college of high stature was like. And
I very well knew that the funny little college holding its graduation that day in
Pasadena, CA was not even close to that rank. I also well knew what having
been to high-end schools meant in a person’s life – a door to a respectable
career in a serious scientific profession. Such had always been my personal
dream, actually as best as I can remember from the very first days the first
flashes of consciousness ignited in me at little over two years of age. I have
always burned to know how things work and to comprehend the inner working of
the physical universe. That’s why I chose Physics as my major at university and
my intended career in life.

So I was only mostly there that day out of respect for my older brother – we have
always been close, so much so that in my youth I almost looked at Al as a father
more than a brother. Our father was a good father, but very quiet and not as big
a role model as Al became in my teenage years. But the last thing that I thought
would cross my mind that day in the Lower Gardens was the possibility that I too
would be drawn to Ambassador College by the same indescribable “force” that
had pulled Al there four years earlier.

But pull me it did. I have never been able to subsequently recall that day and not
know that “something” seemed to shouting in my ear. It said, “I do not care how
funky-butt this little college is and how funny the church that runs it is, there is
something here that “I want.” And even if it means turning my back on a future in
science, it was worth it.” I will never ever know why that choice suddenly become
so evident to me that day, but it did. Since then I know it would lead me over
some massive hurdles, to an experience that my mind in no way could have
encompassed that day.

I later that very day told Al that I wanted to apply to Ambassador College, and
that I also wanted to begin attending World Wide Church of God services. He
almost “dropped his gourd,” so to speak. And in a few short weeks I was a
freshman at AC. How such a change had come about, I utterly didn’t then have a
clue, but it had. Today I know, but that’s for later
                          SYNERGY -- John

My father, Albert J. Portune Sr., deceased since the mid 1990’s, had
three sons, Frank, Al (known by many of his friends as Sr. – he is
actually II), and me, John. Frank is now also deceased. Al lives near
San Diego, I on the central coast of California north of Santa Barbara,
in Santa Maria. I moved here in 2000 after retiring from Sony
Electronics in San Jose, CA. Al is married and I am single except for
a pushy but sweet little black and white Shih Tzu girl pooch, Dollie.

Being at least fifteen years older than I, my two brothers always
seemed more like uncles. Both were in the military in WWII and away
from home when I first became aware of them. Before then I recall
hanging in our front window during the war one of those little silk flags
with two blue stars on it (fortunately never gold) that some may recall.

My first recollection of my brothers was the visit each paid in uniform
coming home from the war to our little frame house in Arcadia CA.
Frank gave me his canteen and helmet, which I cherished for years,
and a clip of M1 ammunition. How very non-OSHA of him. These
were my only memories of WWII except for seeing a P-38 Lightning
flying over Los Angeles on a walk with my mother. And I think I also
recall a famous war poster with grotesque cartoon renditions of Hitler,
Mussolini and Tojo emblazoned on it.

So in essence I grew up as an only-child, to loving parents who I now
realize treated me more like grandparents. I am pretty sure I was “a
surprise” to them at age forty, but c’est la vie. So my brothers, both of
whom I remained close to all my life, were actually more the male role
models than my father. He was a loving and caring man but “elderly”
by the time I was first aware of him. So more my brothers showed me
what “real men are like.”

I mention this only because there was always inexplicably been in my
perception a big difference between my two brothers in respect to
their relationship to me. I sensed it very easily even as a child but did
not know what it was until comparatively recently. For though I shared
many of the same proclivities as my brothers, and also both of them
“parented” their baby brother caringly to much the same degree,
something “very” unique was slowly growing between Al and me.
Even he did not really understand it either until only recently, though
he says he too was as aware of it as I.

Purely humanly, very close bonds are possible between selected
individuals. “Synergy” is how it is often termed. But again though
many grow “very close,” it has been my experience that what I call
synergy is much rarer. For definitely I have had several male friends
for whom my feelings were close to “love.” But it was not until I was a
young adult that I first developed what some call a “soul mate.”

And though what quietly was growing between Al and me over many
years, does resemble what some experience as synergy on the
purely human level, over the past two decades it has become so
much more than that form of synergy. I am here thought going to rely
on Al’s description of it, what we continue to call synergy. That is
sufficient for these memoirs.

I will though give a brief description from my perspective of the very
first time I recall becoming aware of the extraordinary synergy we
now experience. The foundations for it have been present all my life;
that’s why I always sensed a difference. But the reality of just how
utterly unique it now is, only became visible to me in the early 1990’s.

Pretty much just as inexplicably, Al and I began spontaneously
exchanging “journal entries” shortly after our meeting at Lake Tahoe
in 1990 (See: Tahoe – John). I can’t say I really know why; there just
seemed to be a lot to talk about in “realms supernal.” So quite a few
letters and then faxes began to flow. Finally when the Internet with e-
mail became common place, it became and has remained our
primary method of communicating. We refer to our exchanges as
“coms.” I think Al coined the term.

Earlier, when we both were in the Worldwide Church of God, “rank”
was a very big issue. The rank names had been taken from the Bible
where the Apostle Paul writes, “And he gave some, apostles; and
some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
teachers.” WCG had formalized: Apostle, Evangelist, Pastor,
Preaching Elder and Local Elder. Al had obtained, before we both left
WCG the rank of Evangelist, I, Preaching Elder. And though I never
remember being “lorded over” by anyone of a higher rank in WCG,
those levels were as big to the lay members as the commissioned
officer ranks are to “non-coms” in the military. Hence I always paid
“great deference” to my brother, for he remained then still in much the
same role as he had been in for most of my earlier life.

One day, however, as I was sitting at my then new IBM “XT” PC
writing a com, I was literally astounded to realize that what was now
flowing between us had become “rankless.” “Something” had utterly
removed any “formal position” of delineated honor or deference
between us. I had not lost my former love and respect for my brother,
but utterly gone was the artificial level difference of human ranks. We
had suddenly become total peers in a way I had never before
experienced and which has never gone away since. But not only did I
become aware that it had taken place, I also was instantly aware that
such a thing is “never possible” in normal human relationships, even
in very close ones. For to one at least there always exists some
perception of a “difference of rank,” bolstered by ego.

But what this never-before-experienced “leveling of the playing field”
meant to me was that ALL rank, all prestige, even all ego was now
gone from what we were saying. I know it is impossible to even begin
to express how utterly different that had suddenly become. All I can
say is that I experienced it and that it never has changed since. I now
know by living experience that only within “true synergy” can a
meaningful exchange “neutrally flow.

Jesus, when he was selecting his disciples, saw Philip under a fig
tree and said of him, “Behold an Israelite “in whom is no guile.” What
we now experience between us is always “exactly” that, “without
guile.” No normal human relationship, no matter how close, in my
previous experience, has ever begun to approach it. Ego or rank to
some degree always blocks the exchanges of even very intimate
friends. Except in true synergy, complete openness isn’t ever
possible. It is utterly non-human.

That suddenly made clear to me the difference in relationship I had
always been aware of. With no one else have I yet ever experienced
it, though perhaps that day is close.
                                  TAHOE – John

Looking back now, the most profound event of my entire life took place at Lake
Tahoe, CA. I had been given a free weekend at a big condo near the lake by the
real estate agent who had just sold me a house in Foster City near San
Francisco. I had moved there from Los Angeles to work as a television technical
instructor for Ampex Corporation in Redwood City, then a leader in professional
television equipment. I had been doing the same kind of work at the studios of
KNBC Channel 4 Los Angeles, in Burbank CA, until they closed down their
training department.

As the condo was large and very well equipped, I invited both my son Bill and his
wife, as well as my brother Al and his wife to enjoy the weekend with us. And we
did have a very nice time, enjoying the lovely mountain environment, much good
food, drink, favorite family games and nostalgic conversation.

But quite apart from those wonderful normal family things, a series of small
events also took place that weekend which I now know constitute the biggest
turning point of my life. I won’t try to recall them all; Al has already brought out
one of the big ones. It was when on a long walk we took near the condo he
asked me, “Have you ever SEEN THOUGH the universe?” By this he meant had
you ever looked at a small scene and “seen something behind it?” I could not
remember ever having done so, but later, right on that very walk, I did.

In a way I simply won’t ever be able to describe, a Manzanita bush developed
glowing holes. I now know that this was only a metaphor of a reality that would
soon envelop my entire being, but see it I did, no matter how “woo woo” that may
sound. But in the two decades that have passed since then, “seeing through the
universe,” in ways again too profound to relate in words, has become as common
to me and Al as watching a sunset. Call this “pie in the sky?” That’s your choice,
not ours.

The other very profoundly memorable experience of that weekend took place
right as it was beginning. I had arranged to meet Al at the gate to the condo
complex to let him in. He and his wife drove up and he walked over to my car to
say hello. What I am about to now say is just as “woo-woo” as seeing through the
universe, but again it did happen. No matter how many others may disbelieve it, I
don’t, and this is my memory.

How many times had I by then seen my brother in fifty years of memory of him by
then? Certainly hundreds if not thousands of times. But my first glimpse of him
that day as he walked toward my car was astounding. He’d never looked that
way. Can I describe it? Absolutely not. But was I aware of it? Absolutely yes. I did
not have a clue what I was seeing until later that weekend, but see it I did. I now
know that it was because he was carrying a burden. He was being driven to tell
me about seeing through the universe. For he had done it himself just previously.
So there at Lake Tahoe began the biggest turning point of my entire life. There
have since been other “biggies,” but that one is “epitomical.” No physical high
spot even comes close.
                               HOW THINGS BEGAN
                                  by John, Al’s brother

                                    Index of Chapters


Perhaps the most powerful “draw” the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) had on
me, even before I began attending services and enrolled in Ambassador College
(AC), was that WCG “seemed” to make religion practical. I had not ever been
what most people would call religious; I was too enamored with science. Still,
religion did always have a “distant appeal.” It seemed to answer many
“imponderables” that science did not or could not address – where did I come
from, what is eternity and so forth? In the scholarly study of philosophy, such
questions are called “existential.” A common example is, “There are no atheists
in fox holes.”

I felt the first tug of religion at about age twelve, when I began going for crafts
and games to a local Presbyterian church with a group of friends. I had no
thought of joining the church; I just wanted to be with my buddies. But soon I
found myself in Sunday School, for I did feel a tug to “something higher.” It was
not until years later that I came to realize what that tug was and that it would be
with me for life.

At that time the tug was coming from what they were telling me about Jesus. It
was NOT the image of a sweet and gentle semi-god or super human who could
save me from my sins and/or love me. Sin was no issue to me at twelve and I
then had all the love I wanted from my family. Instead I got a sense from Jesus of
very normal human being, but one who had made a jump to a higher level of
consciousness. He somehow exuded a purity and a power that I did not then
know anything of. It had absolutely nothing to do a vague airy-fairly thought of
“salvation.” Yet I clearly remember saying to myself, when I sensed that
difference, “I just can’t be like that.” I did want to, but even then I knew it was not
in me. Only many, many years later did the ability to make that very jump opened
up to me.

But then, the conventionality that church soon left me cold. So I left. Science
seemed much more interesting, and soon I was attending Oregon State
University, studying Physics. But when l later first heard the broadcasts of the
WCG (then still called the Radio Church of God), the tug returned very
powerfully. For though by then I now knew how the scientific community thinks,
WCG’s brand of religion did still grab me. It seemed so down-to-earth, so non-
religious, that it instantly cut a very big hole in me. It seemed so unusual – such
“straight talk” about God and the Bible. Garner Ted Armstrong made it sound like
“this is for me,” not mysterious icons to venerate at arm’s length.

There is no need here to reiterate the years that followed, except to say that a
decade later in the 1960’s I found myself living in England teaching Bible classes
at the UK campus of AC near London. Because of my heavy science background
I was assigned to teach “creationism” or “anti-evolutionism,” as many
fundamentalist Christian churches call it. That is, one takes the Bible literally and
assumes because of it that the world was created with “non-evolving species”
only a mere seven thousand years ago. The common view of evolution and
millions of years was not true.

For now as a “true believer” in WCG dogma, I too embraced the creationism
theory. And now as a lecturer at Ambassador College I was to promulgate it. As
well, as also to be true to WCG’s straight-talking approach to religion, I was to
use “scientific proofs” against evolution.

Thererfore, I began an extensive study of the seminal books on evolution. My
library became quite replete. I spent days at the charming old Museum of Natural
History in the Kensington district of London. It is one of the world’s best
museums of this type, containing abundant fossils. And for a year I also trekked
weekly into London on the train to take Paleontology at the University of London.

So believe me, in over a decade I think I worked harder and more scientifically to
lay down a solid foundation in the area of evolution than anyone in WCG. Yet
frankly, always in the back of my mind I could never totally disregard what I was
seeing in the museums, in my reading, and even in interviews I set up with
ranking British evolutionists. For to me IF the Bible is the unvarnished “word of
God,” why then could I never find hard clear scientific proof for creationism?
“Hadn’t God made science too?”

So it is now in order here for me to give a own personal overview of why I now
know that organic evolution is actually quite true. In fact it is one of the very most
important processes that is still taking place here on earth. Hence, this
understanding is now very much a part of what I am. Secondly, it is also
important to simply state why the scientific community is ignorant of the true
“causes” behind organic evolution.

I have come to realize that the seeming conflict science and evolution is really a
religious matter. It is not a technical conflict, but merely a “head butting” between
“conventional religious faith” and another faith-driven religion -- scientism. Behind
the scenes they are both “belief” structures, not science. The “religion” of most of
the scientific community and many ordinary people as well – scientism -- is that
nothing exits other than the so-called purely “empirical” world. And because of
this the history of this universe is only happenstance. That is, there is no
“intelligence” or “first cause” behind it, only natural law. Again, this is patently a
religion, a “belief.” For many, in seeming opposition, is the “belief” that the literal
surface details of the Bible have all the answers. NEITHER is correct.

The purely technical evidences of organic evolution do not create the conflict
between creationist religion or the religion of the scientific community, scientism.
That is, organic evolution isn’t an issue of “faith.” It is simply a naturally-occurring
indigenous mechanism that is part of the very fabric of the universe. And it is
bringing about what the universe has always been working toward. It needs no
“worshipers” nor does it need “antagonists;” it just happens despite them both.

But because I feel absolutely no burden to “prove” any of this to anyone, but am
merely relating it as “part of me,” I am free here to say straight out how organic
evolution actually takes place. Yes, it has to do with a purposeful universe, for
that’s what the universe is – purposeful.

My basic explanation begins with the fundamental building block of all living
things – DNA, popularized as the “double helix” of Watson and Crick. The
fundamental mistake the scientific community makes about DNA is to “believe”
that it changes by “mutation.” Again that’s “religion.” For the changes that do take
place in living things over time are by no means random or accidental. They only
look that way on a superficial level. Instead, the purposeful evolving nature of
DNA is the prime mover of what the universe has always been heading toward.

To analogize this in very simple terms, because of my background in Physics I
am very comfortable and experienced with computers. I can’t imagine being
without one. But if there is one thing that I have learned about computers it is that
“incredible ability” can be embedded in their programming. This is a powerful
analogy for how evolution takes place. DNA does not “mutate” without purpose. It
purposefully emerges because of coding that is yet unseen in the very structure
of the DNA in all living things.

It is an accepted fact that the scientific community only yet knows roughly 1% of
how the coding of DNA works. This was emphasized on an excellent series on
evolution that ran recently on, as I recall, the Science Channel. Evolution does
not originate in random mutation, but from well-planned programming in that un-
understood 99% of DNA. The religious community cannot disprove evolution any
more than the scientific community can prove that evolution is without purpose.
Grasping these two together has been one of the most important insights of my
life. It is now a major components of what I am, and is my only motive in putting
these basic concepts down here.
                                   Index of Chapters

				
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