Charles Everard Dills

Fall 1945     Discharge!

      I was discharged at Barksdale Field at Shreveport LA.
I remember getting a ride from Alexandria Army Air Base to Barksdale Field in a Beechcraft AT-11.
It was a bigger and heavier plane than I had imagined it to be.

Fall 1945     Civilian Life!

The change in color is intentional. Significant to me, at least.












These pictures were taken in November 2002.

      My first action as a civilian was to go to a bookstore. I looked around and was helped by a nice pretty, young lady. I bought the "Complete Greek Drama" by Oates and O'Neill and the "Complete Roman Drama" and several other books. The store closed and I soon began to regret not asking her to dinner to help me celebrate my "Independence Day".
      I got on the phone. I forget how I did it but I think I got ahold of the store manager and got her name. She believed my story and I was able to contact the salesperson and remind her who I was. She accepted the invitation and although I don't remember it at all I know we had a good evening.

      I got on the plane to Fargo ND the next day. I had an 80% finished model of a P-40 over my shoulder!


      Back in Fargo I moved into the fraternity house although I couldn't enroll because the fall quarter had already started. I did enroll the winter quarter but I couldn't get any of my major courses because they all required the courses taught in the fall. So I enrolled and took nothing but nine advanced English courses. I don't remember which courses I took in Winter and which in Spring. But I remember taking two quarters of Shakespeare, Modern Continental Drama, Narrative Writing, two quarters of English Literature, American Literature and two others. If I can locate my transcript, I will correct this.

      Here is a group of "survivors" enjoying an evening at Gene's, a posh bar in downtown Fargo. Most of the names have long since fluttered away. But John Donnelly, a farmer from up north of Grand Forks and a B-24 (B-26) pilot in WWII is second from left. For some reason the fraternity brothers knew him as "Dunky" Donnelly. I am second from the right.

      There are a few remembrances fit to repeat. I went to take the final exam in Modern Drama. I looked around the room at the strange faces. So I went to the English Department and said, "Aren't they having the exam in the room we had the class?". The answer was short, "Yes." OK, I must have misread the exam schedule. I checked and found out that the exam was in English Literature. Wow! I hadn't looked at it. English Lit is the most fragmented class I ever took, There are a million small tidbits of poems and information that one simply cannot memorize in a night or two.
      I was the last one in, the first one out and got the only A in the class. I thought about this and came up with some guides for the future. First I quit studying ANY course within 48 hours of the final. I adopted a kind of corollary rule that I would only allow myself half the allotted time. If one truly knows the material one can answer all the questions in half the allotted time. If you start questioning your answers, the likelihood is that you will change good answers to bad ones.
      My logic was as follows. First, I wanted to use the finals for my own purpose. I wanted to find out what I actually knew as opposed to what I could memorize (often without understanding) in the last 48 hours. Secondly, going over the exams to check the answers is counterproductive. The net result can often be the substitution of bad answers for good. If I could find out what I didn't know, it would tell me what to go back and fix! This is particularly important in the courses in one's major since subsequent courses depend on these previous ones.
      I do want to say that I grew up in an ancient era. It was one where we assumed that if a course was required it was because someone out working in the field said it was. It was also in an era where we did not learn just to get by the exams. We did not figure the instructor was our enemy, that the exams were a competition between my being able to guess the answer to the teacher's unrealistic questions. I don't believe I ever encountered any trickery. I felt the teacher wanted desperately for the students to do well. In thirty years of teaching I don't think I ever encountered a teacher that enjoyed failing a student.
      I followed those two rules all the way through school, to graduation from Harvard. They served me well. It may be time for me to introduce you to my "Little Librarian". I have a little librarian in the back of my head and he/she is absolutely magnificent. If I get out of the way, he will usually come up with the answer. But you have to give him the problem and quit interfering. This means thinking of something else and unfettering the librarian. How many times have you tried to think of something, and you tried and tried and finally gave up? Then some minutes later the answer would appear in your head in the middle of some other thought entirely.
      I realize this and thoroughly believe in it, I use it routinely. if I can't come up with an answer that I think is filed away in my head, I consciously abandon further consideration of it and it is amazing how often the answer comes up within ten minutes, in the middle of a completely unrelated thought.
      But this is crucially related to another belief. When you send information to this librarian you are sending an ".INSTRUCTION" along with it. For instance I sent most of the information in school with a .REM along with it telling the librarian that this was to be remembered. Many of my engineering students, unfortunately, sent the information up to their librarian with ".FAE" (forget after exam) attached. This tells the librarian to discard the information after the last exam. And the little librarian will do just that. Most students today are after the degree and don't care if they get anything else. What they forget is that the degree will help get a job but it won't help you keep it if you have forgotten the material your employer expected you to remember.
      I remembered what I was taught. I was surprised at the questions I got from teaching colleagues that got out of school years after I did. They asked me because they had already forgotten the answer and I could usually come up with it! It was no surprise to me.

      One of the things I admire about my wife is that she also went to college to learn. She has a B.S. and an M.S. in Biological Science with an accent on Marine Biology. That was at least thirty years ago but I believe she still retains most of it. Even though the thrust of her education shifted when she got an M.S. in English and taught University English, many preps, for over twenty years. She still remembers the Biology because she learned it right in the first place.

Full Cast Photo

      I had a busy spring this year. The Blue Key Fraternity would sponsor a spring musical production every spring. It had been suspended during the war but was revived in April 1946. They produced an operetta, "H. M. S. Pinafore". I was cast as Sir Joseph Porter. I had an adequate voice, nothing sensational. I really don't remember almost anyone else in the cast except the tenor lead, John Sanders as "Ralph Rackstraw". I had a great six verse patter song, "When I was a Lad". I had great trouble remembering all the verses! But I got through it.
      We were very enthusiastic. We put a kind of verve into it that only an amateur group with only two performances can give. Some of the townspeople had seen a recent producton of it at the Minneapolis Opera(?). It was said that they enjoyed our production more than the professional because it was not as perfect and "cut and dried" as the professional one. But we did have one serious problem the second night.
      It was directed by our vocal music professor, Mr. Ernst Van Vlissingen. The male lead, tenor, was John Sanders. Many of the males were fugitives from the war. He had spent a good bit of time in the South Pacific and while there had contracted malaria. It is my understanding that one is never cured of malaria but there are ways of counteracting its effects. But it does come back once in awhile. And, most unfortunately, it came back on him at these two performances. He sang the first one with a temperaure of 103 , but the hospital claimed him before the second performance. Mr. Van Vlissingen had no choice but to have a member of the chorus take the part. The replacement had a very nice voice and carried off the singing beautifully, but he didn't know the spoken part so he had to carry the book. He did a great job under the circumstances. But the cruel reviewer in the college newspaper, "The Spectrum" tore the production to shreds under the title, "H. M. S. Pinafore Sinks". I found the review unkind and sophomoric. Actually, the audience accepted it very well. It certainly was a novelty!

      I was cast as Dr. Relling, generally thought to be Ibsen's mouthpiece in his play "The Wild Duck". It was a play about a "photographer" who is a self-described inventor that hasn't invented anything yet. But it gives him a reason to lie on the couch all day, "inventing", while his wife does all the photography. He makes a revealing comment to Dr. Relling later in the play. "I would really like to invent something. I just don't know what hasn't been invented yet!".
      We trod the boards on 14/15 May 1946.

Spring 1946

    I lived with my sister Helen and Rollie and their five year old daughter, Linda Gayle on Eleventh Street South in Fargo. It was an upstairs duplex and must have been a bit crowded. I don't remember feeling that way. None of us had much money but we got along fine. They had been scrimping for years so they were used to it, as was I.
    I remember one time it was getting toward Christmas. Helen was ironing and was wearing one of her cotton dresses that should have been retired years before. Rolly and I chipped in some money, probably about twenty dollars each and told her to go out the next day and buy a dress!
    One incident I remember involved a little girl, a bit older and larger than Linda, who used to come around the corner, find Linda on her tricycle, and then push her over. Linda, in frustration and for lack of a better response, would cry and then go into the house.
    I had one of those Smith Corona portable typewriters in a black carrying case. It was square so I set it up, stood a pillow on top, and got behind her on my knees. I took her little fists in mine and showed her how to "square off", and then punch the pillow with a straight jab. I asked her father to tell her that if the little girl did it again it would be all right to hit her.
    Sure enough, a bit later the little girl came over again and pushed her over. But this time, Linda didn't cry. She got up, squared off like a boxer and said, "My daddy said that if you did that again it would be all right to hit you!" The little girl left and never came back.
    Linda learned something from that. Bluffs were a great weapon for a small person. One of things that makes it work for her is her constant smile and dancing eyes. She grew up, married, had children and got a good job with MeritCare at St. Lukes Hospital in Fargo ND. She is a kind of administrative secretary. She even bossed the doctors around, always with that smile and they accepted it with a like smile.

    I think this was, for me, one of the busiest times I can remember. I had four advanced English courses the winter quarter and five in the spring! My memory is that in the spring quarter I read 100 short stories, 85 plays, ten novels and wrote about 30,000 words for the English Department. In retrospect, it doesn't seem possible. But my memory is of constant work. I knew I had to be doing something every waking minute. I couldn't relax at all. If I wasn't busy all the time, I was going to drop one of the balls I was juggling. On top of that I was in the play "The Wild Duck" by Ibsen.
    I believe this is the quarter that I goofed up in the paper, "The Spectrum". I was going through the Spectrum office for some reason and someone flagged me down and said that they needed me to write a caption for their block print caricature of Leonard Sackett, the instructor in English Literature. That particular era of literature can be somewhat ribald. And Dr. Sackett relished it and probably amplified it a bit. Some of the stories were a bit rougher than one is used to in an English class. I'm not implying that he was out of line, it was an era that almost demanded it. So I sat down quickly and wrote the caption. I told them to proofread it carefully and catch anything wrong, but they published it straight. The "target's" name was not mentioned, you were supposed to guess it by the broad clues in the writeup.
      Now I look on it as a bit sophomoric, school paper stuff. Anyway, it was the era of Fred Allen and his radio show segment called "Allen's Alley" in which he would go down a line of doors, knock and one of the stock characters would appear for a humorous dialogue. One of the characters was "Senator Foghorn". He was pompous and his favorite shtick was to make a statement with a word that he could then repeat as a sound alike word with a different meaning and follow that with "that is!" I put one of them in the little article, "His anecdotes are always related to the course, coarse that is!".
      Wow, that stuff really hit the fan. Dr. Sackett quit all his advisory positions with clubs and completely withdrew from anything that was not an assigned class. I was really sad about it. I was walking with him in the hall and tried to say something about it. I said something lame like, "I know who wrote it and he did not mean to upset you. It was written in haste and meant to be a joke." He replied that the paper goes out to homes all over the State and parents would see it and wonder. Then he looked right at me and said, "I don't want to know who wrote it. It was not malicious." It seemed quite evident to me that he was telling me that he knew I wrote it but was not going to hold a grudge. I learned a bit about the delicate divide that "humor" has to stay on the right side of. It is difficult to walk the crest line with funny on one side and not funny or worse on the other.

      I went to at least two Military Balls, one in 1942 before the war and the other after the war, possibly spring 1947. I was wearing my ROTC uniform in 1942. My date both times was a pretty girl named Dorothy Monson.
      I think there was another one a year later and my memory says I took a girl named Adelaide Dinwoodie.

      That May I was elected Eminent Archon (president, chairman, whatever) of the fraternity for the following year.

      The Fraternity had a Leadership School at the National Headquarters in Evanston IL that summer. I went as a representative of North Dakota Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. I roomed with another representative, this one from Washington City Rho at the George Washington University. I had had two years of chemistry in college before the war. I was interested in the transformations that occur when chemicals react. I thought physics was the route to that kind of study. I was inspired to go to GWU to study this. I could use the GI Bill and so I did. I didn't go back to the NDAC that fall.

      There was another pilot flying with me at Alexandria who was married to a girl from a very rich family. We had done a certain amount of talking and she told me that she lived at some large lake outside Ann Arbor MI. She was about 22 and had been married three times already, always to guys that married her money, not her. She had gotten rid of them all when she found out, including my friend. She had issued an invitation to me to visit at some time so I contacted her. I had a bit of time before I needed to be in Washington, so she invited me to stop by. She had no designs on me and I had no designs on her or her money. I liked her, but as a friend.
      I arrived there at their "lake cottage". It was nothing like the lake cottages in MN. It was a nice house with a second house in back for the guests. Her father had made an invention or two which allowed him to do nothing. He flew to FL a couple times a year to vote in some company and that was it. I don't think he liked it.
      I don't remember doing anything at all with Mary Jane. What I do remember is sitting on a rock step leading down to a garden which he was landscaping, carrying blocks of concrete or stones around. I offered to help but he said no, that he was doing it for something to do. I asked him what he was going to do when he finished it. He said he would probably sell it, buy another and fix it up. How sad! He didn't seem to be enjoying himself, just occupying time. It did quite a bit toward eroding my desire for money. Mary Jane didn't seem to be happy either. She was having to keep a jaundiced eye on any prospective, wondering if they liked her or her money. Again, how sad! Money did not seem to produce happiness in that family.
      I proceeded to Washington. I entered the fraternity house on 19th Street NW, just short of Florida Avenue and set my bag down just inside the door. There was a white baby grand piano. I went over and sat down and tried to play it. It was miserable, sticky, some keys didn't play. Unuseable. There was a "brother" there and I asked him if they had ever tried to get it fixed. He said they had tried but were told them that it was unfixable. So then I said, "Well, we can't hurt it then, can we? Do you have any tools?" He found some and the two of us started trying to take it apart. As I remember we took off a lot of things that didn't need to be taken off. We finally found out how to remove the keyboard.There was dirt and some shreds of paper, some damaged hammers and some broken strings. By this time it was getting late and I hadn't even taken my bag up from the front door. So they got me a room, and I went to sleep.
      The next day I started to clean the keyboard/hammer assembly. Some of the green strips of felt(?) needed replacing, so I went down to a piano store, bought some felt and some strings to replace the broken nor missing ones. I came back, replaced the things that needed replacing and rebuilt the things that needed rebuilding. I don't remember having much help, just a feeling that people watched with arched eyebrows as I replaced the felts and the missing strings. That part is pretty obvious. I don't know if I told them I was an Engineering Officer on P-51's in the Army Air Force or not. I suspect I did. So they just stayed out of my way. I finally got it back together and I enjoyed playing it for two years I was there.
      My playing must have irritated many of them but you can't live that close to a number of non-relatives without irritating some of them at some time or other. One time someone re-tuned it in a kind of random fashion. I have always felt that although it must have irritated some that the re-tuning was done with a bit of "tomgue-in-cheek". So I continued to play it while "out of tune". It was truly cacophonous! After a few days, I re-tuned it and they never did it again.
      I had some arrangements of my own. One was a piano arrangement of the Marines' Hymn. I never understood why they called it a hymn when it was always played briskly as a march, often by a marching band. My arrangement tried to remember that it is a hymn. One of my fraternity brothers had been a Marine pilot in WWII. He liked the arrangement very much. When we had a party and he had a little too much to drink by the end of the evening he would lie on the fireplace mantle in the piano room and ask me to play it. Which of course, I did. I thought it was a good arrangement too.

      One night we hired a three piece band for a dance. So, during the evening, I sidled up to the piano player and asked how the piano was. He said, "Not bad!" I was pleased. That's pretty good for a piano that "couldn't be fixed."
      The fraternity house had been used during the war by the Navy to house some of their men. I have forgotten the name of the program. It got painted a light institutional yellow, top to bottom. The floor of the first floor had the uniform grey of a barn floor. Obviously something drastic had to be done. And again with more confidence than skill, I pitched in and ramrodded the "reconstuction". It needed paint on the walls and ceiling and to have the floor re-conditioned. Ww decided on some colors and went to work. There were three "parlors", the middle one with a fireplace. One of them eventually became a dining room. When it came to the front living room I decided that a white ceiling and a very dusky rose would give an almost colonial look. I couldn't find a rose, just a variety of pinks. I knew that would never do so I bought a white base paint and proceeded to add lots of scarlet coloring and chrome green to gray it out. When I had mixed up enough we started to paint it. When it was half painted and still wet it was terrible. The wet gray rose against the institutional yellow was horrible. I told them we had to finish and let it dry, that the color would tone down after it was no longer wet and no longer had the terrible yellow for contrast. And it did. It was acceptable, even kind of pretty in my opinion.
      I developed a kind of method. The walls were not only a terrible yellow color but dirty and some of the dirt was a greasy kind of dirt. I was talking to an old-time painter in the paint store about it and was bemoaning the amount of work it would take to clean them and he gave me a suggestion. He told me to get some vegetable sizing, mix it in a pail of water and swab the walls with it with a sponge. He said it would clean off most of the dirt and glue the rest down so it wouldn't turn up in the paint. And it worked, beautifully.
      At the next meeting there was considerable talk about the "advisability" of having a pink room in a fraternity house. I pointed out that it was not pink, it was a dusky rose and that if they wanted it a different color they knew where the paint store was and could re-paint it themselves, that I wasn't going to. As I suspected, the prospect of the work involved discouraged any attempt. A bit later we had a "sorority entertainment". The color drew nice comments from the girls and all objections disappeared.
      But the floor, that was another matter. So a couple of us went down and rented a drum type floor sander, late on Saturday afternoon so we could keep it till Monday and only get charged for one day. We got it back to the house and I plugged it in, started it up and blew fourteen light bulbs. The store hadn't warned me that it was a 220V sander. We checked the fuse box and found out we had a three wire curcuit, a +110V, a -110V and a neutral return. All three were fused, the neutral return fuse had blown, throwing 220V on everything. We were lucky that only lights had been on. The neutral return was supposed to have a special threaded copper plug to prevent that. Sometimes people would put in a regular fuse with a penny underneath it to do the same thing.
      The next day, Sunday we read the instructions and found out it was a 220V sander. Wow, what do we do, the store was closed. I decided on a course of action. I took off the plug, ran the wire down through a hole in the floor and took the wire to the incoming knife switch on the fuse box, wrapped the wires around the +110V and the -110 V blades and slammed them home. We really had no other choice other than doing nothing. I went back to the room that would eventually be the dining room and turned it on. I went across the back of the room slowly. There appeared to be a dirty streak so I went over it again. It was still there so I got down and looked and it was an inlay of dark wood! Our barn floor was actually a beautiful parquet floor. When we finished the three rooms, they were beautiful. We wouldn't allow anyone to walk on them with shoes.
      About this time I got a phone call. So I met a couple friends of mine from the service. I went over to Carl and Dave's, had a "few" drinks and talked over old times. This is where we compared notes and decided that only 17 if the 45 of us that went over could have come back. We knew the other 28 didn't. I'm afraid I got quite drunk. I hope you understand. I had about two blocks to walk back to the fraternity house. I made it. But I had my keys on a chain attached to my belt. After unlocking the door, I threw it open without removing the key from the lock and the chain broke, spraying my keys all over the floor. Someone came pelting down the stairs to holler at me for having my shoes on. When they saw it was me, they turned around saying nothing and I went to bed!
      Next, of course, we had a bit of a heated discussion about what finish to put on the floor. I was in favor of a polyurethane. But several said that it had to be varnish. I told them it probably wouldn't dry in Washington DC and that I would have nothing to do with it. They outvoted me and they varnished one room. Three days later it was till tacky so "they" removed it. We went to the polyurethane which dried in about twenty minutes. We gave the floor in all three rooms, three coats in one day! They were beautiful. At one of our sorority entertainments, A beautiful and well dressed girl was standing by the fireplace in the middle room. She was smoking a cigarette. When she finished, she dropped it on our beautiful parquet floor and ground it out with her shoe. What kind of a barn was she brought up in? I think all the guys noticed what she thought of all their work!
      I had very bad advice from my "advisor". He put me in Organic Chemistry, German, a Physics Course, that I found out later I did not have the prerequisites for, and Differential Equations. I was doing OK in Organic and German but the Physics was way beyond me and I finally realized that I didn't belong there and dropped it. I was way behind in Differential Equations, partly because of the Physics which took so much time but mostly because I had trouble remembering the first two quarters of Differential and Integral Calculus which I had had before the war. So I started auditing both of them but I kept slipping farther and farther behind. It became obvious that I was not going to be able to handle it and I went to talk to the instructor. He didn't want to listen to anything, He had a "Get out of my office" attitude. So I did, never went back to the class and flunked. It was inevitable, five years and a war had taken its temporary toll. Most of it gradually came back but it was a struggle. I'm sure a lot of vets just gave up. It turns out I flunked German, I went to the instructor to find out why. She said that I had skipped class six times and I was only allowed five. This was my worst quarter in college, anywhere, anytime!
      By the time I had finished the year I had realized that what I wanted was not to be gotten through Physics but through Organic Chemistry. There was no longer any point in using the GI Bill at GWU so I went back to finish up at the AC, paying my own way.

      Two fraternity brothers had to go to the West Coast and one of them had a somewhat beaten 1940 Plymouth (?). It had no grill, just a big hole in front. Since we had plenty of time the three of us decided we would drive out there and take our time in the process.

      We headed off to the the Pennsylvania Turnpike on our way to Fargo ND. I was navigating while Charles Baker and Don Sparks (owner of the car) alternated as drivers. When we got to about Ohio, one of the others wanted to navigate so I gave him the maps. By the time we had gone fifty miles he had us lost. When I figured out where we were we were ten miles off course. I navigated for the rest of the trip.
      We got to Moorhead MN where my sister and family lived. They welcomed us. We stayed a short time and then took of for the Canadian Rockies. We went along Highway 2 near the Canadian border in ND then enered Canada at Sweetwater. We went through Lethebridge Alberta and we were impressed by the flowers planted in patterns arond the trees in their park. And for that matter we enjoyed the flowers people had planted all over town. We went through Banff and stopped at the Hudson's Bay Company store. I bought a Cowichan Indian sweater. It had hand made yarn and the colored pattern came from undyed wool. They came from sheep with different colors. I had it for years. They told us to never clean it because it would remove the lanolin and ruin it.

      We drove up toward Jasper Park and stayed overnight at the Castle Mountain Motel. Castle Mountain was well named. It had a sloping base and a massive castle-like rock rose majestically above it. We climbed up to the treeline and invented a game of boulder bowling. At the tree line there are a bunch of very young trees that didn't make it. They were probably 15 feet tall at most and about an inch or two in diameter and they were all dead! When we picked up a good sized boulder and launched it down the mountain side, the dead sticks would fly around like bowling pins. At the time, we thought it was funny and fun!

      The next day we continued toward Jasper Park, up to the boundary between the parks at the Columbia Ice Fields. We joined a group that had a guide that pointed out the interesting things ilpn the area. one of the things was a part of the glacier whose ice was blue! He said it was a remnant of the ice age glacier, 25,000 years old. He recounted a tale of a woman from Los Angeles on a previous trip that got ahold of a small piece of the blue ice and put it in her purse. He asked her what she was going to do with it and she said she was going to take it back to Los Angeles. He asked her if she thought it would last, and she retorted that if it had been here for 25,000 years it ought to last three weeks till she got back home. Frankly, I never believed it was a true story but it was funny.

      We then proceeded down the road heading for the King's Highway across Canada. We had trouble with the tremendous amount of road building going on which had a lot of one way segments. And the absence of towns on the map, like Wasa, was very disconcerting. I was trying to find the bridge which would lead us to the road to Fort McLeod where we planned to eat lunch. I was a pretty good naigator and when I realized we had passed the bridge without seeing it, we stopped at a little store and gas station called Ta-ta Creek. I asked where the bridge was to Fort McLeod. She said that it had been washed out and that we had to go back a mile and go over the railroad bridge which had planks on it so we could make it in a car. I asked her how the road was to Fort Steele. She said it was OK. I asked her how it was beyond Fort Steele. She said she didn't know, she had never been beyond Fort Steele (16 miles away!).

      We went back to the railway bridge, and sure enpough, they had laid planks in such a way that a car could cross easily, which we did. The road to Fort Steele was one of the worst dirt roads I've seen. When we approached Fort Steele we could see a collection of ancient grey woefully weatherbeaten wooden buildings that looked like a Hollywood back lot. Obviously there would be no place to eat. It didn't appear to have had people for decades. We didn't even slow down! IIt has now been resurrected into a tourist destination.
      We continued on our "shortcut" to the King's Highway and with a certain degree of relief we finally found it! We proceeded still looking for dinner and finally came to a highway cafe. He went in and sat on the stools at the counter. In our relief we started talking about the wretched roads and the absence of mapped towns, like Wasa. The nice little gray haired lady behind the counter finally broke her silence and said something like this. "You Americans don't pay any attention to what's going on in Canada. The reason that town is missing, the reason those roads have to be rebuilt is because we had a terrible flood last spring and they were all washed out. We know what is going on down there but you don't know what is going on up here." We felt really badly about what we had said and said something like, "Yes, ma'am. We're sorry ma'am." And we were!

      We drove on to the States and up the "Going to the Sun Highway" in Glacier Park. We kept going west, over the mountains and finally arrived at Whitefish Montana. We stopped in to have supper at a small restaurant with a blackjack room in back. There wasn't anyody playing but the woman dealer offered to let us play although it was quite obvious we were travelling college kids with little resources. So we played. I made a couple dollars and Don lost a couple, but Charles Baker made around twenty dollars. I have always felt they were trying to help us on our way!

      Then down to Bryce Canyon. We went on to southern Utah and passed through St. George. We finally approached Las Vegas. It was late at night, around midnight. We had been travelling in the long blackness of many miles of desert. We finally came over a ridge and, good grief, look at that. Lights, lights, unbelieveable lights, at midnight! We went down and did some wandering in the brightly lit casinos but I don't remember jeaopardizing my meager financial resources. Next stop was our destinaton, the SAE house at UCLA, Los Angeles.

      We separated at this point. I got out on the highway and started hitchhiking to Seattle. I was making some progress and somewhere along the line I met another hitchhiker heading to a suburb of Seattle. Somewhere, probably in Oregon, we got a ride with a man in a pickup. We sat in the back with our backs against the cab. We soon realized that he was drunk. We had no way to get out so we sat there with a bit of concern. He finally let us out and we gave a huge sigh of relief. We were having a tough time getting a ride so we decided to give up and bought bus tickets. I think he was going to Bellevue, just east of Seattle. I visited his home and then went to Patty Brown's home on Alki Point in Seattle. By this time I was about broke. So I telegraphed my uncle JC in LaMoure that had signature power on my bank account. I asked him to send me an amount of money I've forgptten so I could take the Great Northern trainback to Fargo. All's well that ends well.


      10/12 May 1949 saw the production of "Ah, Wilderness", a three act comedy by Eugene O'Neill. I was cast as the #3 person, the son, Arthur, freshly home from college. I don't remember very much about this production except for the hat and pipe which just isn't me. But of course, I wasn't me either.

Back to Washington DC    

      I don't remember the return trip to Washington at all. I obviously arrived and went to the fraternity house and got a room there.

      One of my fraternity brothers was named Warren. He had a job as a disk jockey in a station out in Maryland. The sports announcer was black and owned a black night club at T and Willburger Street in Washington. He asked Warren to meet him there one night after work about 11 PM. Warren didn't want to be there alone so he asked me to meet them.
      I went out to Florida Avenue and hailed a cab. I told him I wanted to go to T and Willburger Street and he started in with the "You don't want to go there..." routine. I told him if he didn't want to take me I could get another cab. Angrily he stepped on the gas and raced over to Willburger. I paid him and got out. The door opened forward and he didn't even wait for me to close it. He stepped on the gas, slammed the door shut and roared off into traffic.

      I have to admit I felt a little strange and you must remember this was about 1948. Things were different then. I went down the somewhat narrow street, almost an alley and saw the sign for Hal Jackson's Sports Club on the second floor of a building. I went up and in. I was the only white person there. I sat down at the bar and told the bartender that I was waiting for Hal and Warren. Nobody did anything to make me feel uncomfortable.

      There was a young girl, perhaps 16, singing on the little stage. And her mother was seated on a chair immediately at one side of the stage. The girl was nice looking and had a good voice and I have often wondered if she became famous later.

      There was a fancy dressed man that was obviously gay. It was open and people were verbally jousting with him but in a very good natured way.

      I got to talking with an elderly man who was "in his cups" as they say. He told me he was a doctor and when I apparently looked at him with disapproval he smiled and said that he didn't drink very often but that when he did, he did a good job and left medicine alone! Then he looked around the room with proud eyes and softly said, "I brought most of these people into the world!"

      After talking with me for a little he looked at me and asked if I had trouble with my right nostril. I was quite surprised and I told him about my nose problem and told him if any Air Force doctor had ever noticed they would not have let me fly.

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