Archive for February, 2017

Equating a Hypothesis………………#73 (the 50’s)

February 6, 2017

Traffic Laden Highway 101 – Known as the Coast Highway

The Wayfarers of Highway #1

The return journey from Canoga Park to the Bay Area on the 5 hp. Cushman was prosaic.   Dale and Gary’s stamina for consummation of the return trip was waning,  once again acquainting the Highway,  the conciseness of the onrushing air and the ever-changing boutique emitting from the passing landscape.   Gary could appreciate the affinity for nature’s surrounding shared by those two-wheel travelers who glide the by-ways in their high-powered cycles, but still questioned whether they might be taking license for self-aggrandizement.   The Cushman occupants having changed their timeline, the three-day excursion from Oakland to Canoga Park on scenic  Highway #1  was abridged,  the northern journey home would be accomplished in two days utilizing the well-traveled highway #101.

A farewell to a scenic friend

An afternoon start Gary once again perched on the two sleeping bags behind and above Dale, the two focusing on accomplishing the 175 miles to San Luis Obispo.  The adventurers becoming  dismayed, the enthusiasm that encased them at the start of this venture having subsided, the return journey home becoming somewhat anticlimactic.  North of Santa Barbara the highway passing within 100 yards of the breaker swelled ocean, Gary acknowledging a farewell to this scenic friend.   Dusk was approaching as they passed through San Luis Obispo, a community of 20,000,  exiting the city limits soon discovering a turn-out area  overlooking the highway.  The two travelers adhering to their no driving after dark rule and with the evening sun beginning to descend below the horizon  a decision was made to adjourn to this provisional  station.   Unlike the melodious concerts of their nocturnal bivouacs on Highway #1,  the lullaby song of the cascading waves of the blue pacific, the only evening sound was that of the  trafficking fanfare on #101.   Gary acknowledging the four lane made for a faster more direct route home but it was but a destination, but philosophically the real goal for this journey having yet to be determined.






A curious Black & White

The rising sun and the echoing sound of 18 wheeler welcoming the travelers to resume their journey,  the two finding fuel for themselves and the Cushman 10 mile up the road at Santa Margarita.  With better than 250 miles remaining,  the steady droning of the muffler, the continuous buffeting of the wind and passing vehicle was remedied by a stop, a  stretching of the legs and a cigarette.  During a break in their travels stopping at the side of the highway before entering Salinas,  an authority from the state in  a black and white stopped to inquire about their purpose, asking if they needed any assistance, Gary briefly explaining about their return to Oakland.  The officer bidding them to be mindful of the traffic and wishing them a safe journey.

Gary and Dale Spady

Dales residence on Lenard Drive in Castro Valley

The enterprising masters of the highway were but blocks from entering the gates of recognition announcing their return at Dale’s residence,  an inner feeling  beaming with accomplishment,  a return of the triumphal conquerors.   The two travelers, somewhat wind thrashed from the journey,  their goggles and  flight helmet liner exhibiting decorations from the inhabitants of the  road  were about to address the conclusion of their journey,  when once again  the Cushman slowed to a stop.   The drive chain having repeated its fallacy, a loss of the master link, chain separation  and with that, the triumphal return resulted in a hands-on approach,  the two having to enduring the disenchantment of pushing the scooter the final two blocks.


In search of a compass

Downtown Oakland

Reality could be burdensome, Gary remained indecisive about his future, heavy with indecision and his logic which he relied upon was of no consequence.   The trek to the south with Dale was a temporary reprieve, the moirai remained, a determination and direction was needed.   The youth grasp that without a compass,  inactivity gained nothing and he found himself traversing the employment market of the large retail outlets in metropolitan downtown Oakland,  placating himself,  seeking employment whatever the vocation.  Deliberations and alternatives in his mind were still elusive, the youth seemed at a loss when an unexpected compass of fate intervene.

Gary and his mom

House call – Master Sargeant Casserly

His mother was elated, a close friend from her school days in Yreka whom she hadn’t seen in years having moved to the bay-area and was visiting.  Gary having never heard his mother mentioning  Alice Larson Casserly,  but then again his mother was never one to disclosed very many of her childhood remembrances, Gary suspecting that it had something to do with his father’s reaction.   It was when Alice made her second visit that fate made its appearance.  Gary always a student of logic, determined that Karma, Fate,  Kismet, even luck required an equating hypothesis if to be acknowledged or accepted.  Accompanying Alice on this visit was her husband Jeff, regarded as Master Sergeant Jefferson A Casserly, United States Army.

 Sergeant Casserly was newly assigned  recruiter at the Induction and Recruiting Center in the Federal Building downtown, not surprising the sergeant immediately displayed an interest in the youth.  An Introduction found the two in a discussion of the many educational and career opportunities available in the army.  Gary’s logic began to equate a hypothesis of the events that had just transpired during the past two weeks.  His cousin’s army missile association,  the Rocketdyne experience and now his mother’s friend Alice’s husband, an army recruiter, could this be fate, luck or in reality the components of an equation leading to a hypothesis.

Questionable Journey………#74 (the 50’s)

February 4, 2017

Sergeant Jeff Casserly having made a return visit,  the husband of Gary’s Mothers good friend growing up in Yreka, Alice Larson, the couple having visited once before.   Entering the Willson’s residence this time in his dress uniform, carrying a loose-leaf binder the size of an encyclopedia.   The army recruiting sergeant making a special house call to visit the recent Castlemont high school graduate about the opportunities of  an Army enlistment.  Gary perceiving the stripes adorning the sergeant’s uniform,  three up and three down as the rank of Master Sergeant.


His only firsthand military knowledge, besides from his recent visit to his cousin Bud O’Toole in Canoga Park, was from his dad, having served in the second world war and on occasion would recapitulate humorous accounts from his deployment on Saipan, Korea and Okinawa,  but always refraining from conveying the execrable events that he had witness.  Gary’s noticing the uniform stripes on Sargent Casserly’s sleeves,  his curiosity getting the best of him, finally asking the sergeant about them.  Not hesitating he replied:  the slanted service stripes were referred to as hash marks.  The ones on the left sleeve were for years of service, each stripe representing three years, the horizontal bars on the right sleeve, represented 6 months of overseas combat service.


Gary found the  Sergeant’s presentation was somewhat reminiscent of a school counselor’s,  attesting the m o s,  Military Occupational Specialty descriptions from the large manual,  explaining there were the prerequisite in acquiring a specialty .   The first was determined by the scores attained on the  AFQT,  Armed Forces Qualification Test, including a battery of test equivalent to the SAT,  Scholastic Aptitude Test for college entrance.  The second condition was that of occupational necessity and school availability.   Gary was interested in a occupational specialty similar but not the same as his cousin Buds with missiles. The potential recruit found it challenging to make a decision,  mainly because of a lack of in-depth information.


The Sergeant having a up-to-date printout of m o s availability,  but discovering the scope of description in most part was limited to a few paragraphs of generalities.   Sergeant Casserly couldn’t detail the course of study but did ascertain that most army school were eight or sixteen weeks,  the missile electronic school Gary was interested in was 33 weeks in duration,  with an addendum nuclear warhead school.  Gary was somewhat taken aback, with eight weeks of basic training, and over 33 weeks of specialty school,  it would be well over  9 months before he would be scheduled for a duty station.  Sergeant Casserly pointing out,  military class instruction was much different from the academic world of college, besides being paid, you’re in the army and subject to military discipline.


The question was no longer pending, the youth being asked if he was ready to make the most important decision thus far in his life.  Gary unsure of what the future would bring if he remained at home,  recognizing that if he enlisted he wouldn’t have to cope with making many decisions.  He agreed on enlistment,  because of his age, not having attained his 18th birthday his parents were required to sign an underage  waiver, the youth could be scheduled to report for a physical and qualification testing, but not to be sworn-in  before his 18th birthday.  Gary affirming is decision to enlist.


The given day for his physical and qualification testing have arrived, Gary maneuvering his families recently purchased 56 Dodge Belvedere into the parking area of the Federal Building at 15th and Broadway,  the location of the Armed Forces Induction Center.   Entering the building, the young high school graduate experiencing a feeling of solitude, alone on his own, advancing one step at a time in a new unexplored world.   Directions finding him ushered into a room waiting to be called with others for a brief physical, no resemblance to the stripped down wait in line examinations portrayed in the movies.


Once completed, Gary relieved when certified as physically qualified, having a concern that his hundred thirteen pound weight may have prohibited his enlistment.  The testing area was a large room, the military instructor serving notice that the  battery of timed test would take several hours,  and would pose questions concerning vocational skills as well as academic ones.   Gary just out of high school having taken final exams discovering no difficulty, especially with the math problems having traveled a 4 year journey on the road of algebra thru calculus.  A possible life changing day fulfilled, the youth returning home, relieved that it was over, a  sense of confidence residing.


Sergeant Casserly making his final visit, Gary’s test scores having exceeded all requirements, including qualification for o c s, Officer Candidate School.  He was enrolled in a corporal missile electronic material maintenance course,  the Army to notify him by mail the date to report for formal induction, the swearing-in ceremony, and transportation to Fort Ord to begin 8 weeks of basic training.    An uncomfortable feeling began to emerge, the youth questioning, could it be the expediency of commitment to a military enlistment.   patience was fleeting as the days passed  waiting for his Call To Service date,  the questions lingered, were these feelings a residual of haste.


The daily 13 steps up to the mail box on Greenly Drive giving the youth a new conscious meaning to the past,  a new aura of his surroundings,  the memories of home, his family,  its moments of elation, and the caliber of school days friendships, this world would soon depart.   Gary reflecting that something was astray, questioning if his decision, was this closing of a chapter in his life? or just maybe, the beginning page of a new one.




Army Reception – Ft. Ord……..#75 (50’s)

February 2, 2017
A welcome sign

A welcome sign

The Call to Service correspondence having finally arrived informing Gary to report to the Army Induction Center at 10 A.M.on Monday, April 20th,  the youth beginning to wonder if the summons would every materialize.  The families acknowledgement seemed arrested, but he attributed this to his false display of insignificance to the coming event,  belaying the uneasy feeling in the pit of stomach and his true thoughts of the upcoming milestone.  The day of atonement, the youth packing a  shaving kit and other personal sundry items in an athletic gym bag,  a brief goodbye to mom with a mention of returning on his first weekend leave.


The drive to the induction center was without a lot of conversation, but this was pretty much a norm when he and his dad traveled together.  “Take care of yourself son” were his dad’s final words, entering the induction center the reality of leaving home beginning to set in.  He remembered when  growing up hearing his dad characterize army life with a saying  “hurry up and wait”,  Gary having received his report notification three weeks ago and now after his 10:00 a.m. morning arrival was told the swearing-in ceremony would take place sometime later that afternoon.


The augmented group,  estimated at twenty recently sworn-in recruits finishing their first military meal courtesy of a local cafeteria, it was late afternoon before mounting an army bus for deposit at Fort Ord,  a two-hour journey.   A uniformed corporal having just  reenlisted sitting in the front seat was charged with a large manila folder containing the groups administrative orders.   The bus turned onto the Nimitz,  Gary gazing across at the East Oakland Hills their view slowly withdrawing  out of sight and for the first time he felt a loss.   Having just acquired a feeling of independence, able to make major decisions thru observations and judgement,  a self-assurance suffused to ascendancy and now thru a bus window he watched as the anchor and foundation of his past departed before his moist eyes,  the hills would be nor, it was the ebbing of a youthful altruistic environment called home.


No harassing drill instructors,  not even a raised voice when disembarking the bus in evoking darken hour,  filing out to the reception area the future soldiers assembling in a formation as their names were convened.  The row-call completed, a NCO sergeant giving a blaring welcome, the makeshift formation of twenty recruits advanced inside a two-story billet lined with beds and mattresses.   Bedding having appropriated  to each berth and a cadre demonstration of the correct distilling of an army bunk,  including hospital corners which most had never heard of or seen before and a ceremonial bouncing of a quarter on the tightly secured  top blanket.

  Gary concluding,  with the recruits still in civilian clothes,  the late hour and a sense of perplexity may have explained the missing movie scripted scenario, the sergeant with the  stereotype army provocation.  The atmosphere was rather quiescent, a stillness prevailed, like the lull before the storm, the sergeant returning reading names and times from a prepared duty roster before posting it.   The wooden barracks required a fire guard at night, after lights out two individuals would stand a one hour watch,  arousing the next two continuing until  reveille.


The army became true to form in the morning,  the group being  wakened by a  two boisterous sergeants,  shouting instruction concerning physical appearance and the cleanliness of the billet.  Falling-in outside, a roll call was conducted, the recruits escorted to the silent scope of the mess hall, the spoken word was prohibited, the group experience their first military meal in silence.  Gary somewhat taken aback from the variety and abundance of food being served,  having grown up with adequate meals and a school cafeteria, but not on this order.  The morning discovering a journey to secure the fleecing of what little hair he already had and a march to a large warehouse looking structure discovering it was the clothing distribution center.  The new recruit discovering some personal unknowns, his actual clothing  sizes, a 29 inch waist, 29 inch inseam and size 8W boots and shoes.  It was a new experience,  in civilian life having never  acquired this volume of clothing that the army issued, filling a duffel almost to the point of being too heavy for him to carry.


The temporary wooden barracks home was designated Reception , other than acquainting the new recruits with inoculations,  a hair stylist and the art of spit-shine,  it was a holding area for interim new personnel until the numbers were sufficient for transfer orders to form a training battalion.   Gary discovering the reception holding area also to be a labor pool for established units to draw from, especially in realm of KP  (kitchen patrol), immediately  discovering it with an acquaintance.


The transition from civilian  to military life was instantaneous with no acclimation allotments, the recruits finding decisions,  opinions and preferences were no longer applicable and task were never completed the right or wrong way, but the army way.  Gary did possess avidity to experience the regiment of military order and on his fourth day in the reception area found his and the other in the barracks name posted to stand ready for transportation to a Training Battalion,  their home for the next eight weeks