I was feeling the need for a new job and as was often the case,
they did not plan to renew me after the second year. After sending out a number of resumes, I got
an offer of an interview from California Polytechnic State College. I drove over for the interview
in March of 1963.
I came down highway 101 from Paso Robles. When I crossed Cuesta Grade, the City of San Luis Obispo was spread out below me among its hills which were green from the spring rains. I thought I was entering Brigadoon (at least the stage and film versions). I got a motel in Atascadero and the next day I visited Cal Poly.
It turned out that there was no Chemistry Department. Instead there was a Physical Sciences Department, Physics and Chemistry combined. Dr. Wilford Bowles was the Department Chairman and he had one of the Chemistry faculty show me around, Dr. Bruce Kennelly. There will be considerably more about him later. I made a reasonable impression and they hired me. I was grateful because I didn't have any other irons in the fire at that time. And it was a pretty school in a beautiful area. I went back to Deep Springs and finished the year.
Sauny and I packed our things in the '57 Ford Country Sedan and
she got in the Jeep and off we went, down 395. It was a hot day and I was just cruising, not too
fast and taking an occasional drink from a can of root beer. A Highway Patrol car passed going the
other way. Within a mile or two the Patrol Car flagged me down. The officer came up and said,
"What's that you're drinking?" "A root beer", I said and showed him the can. He smiled and
apologized saying he thought it looked like a Lucky Lager beer. I told him it was OK and to stop me
anytime for a reason like that. Then we went down highway 58 and to Mojave. Somewhere between
Mojave and Bakersfield it got dark and the Jeep's headlights went out. We couldn't stay there until
dawn so I told her to stay close to me and we drove to Bakersfield and got the generator fixed and
the battery charged.
We rented space in a long compartmented wooden building for the summer and stowed our stuff. We don't remember the details but we believe we went to Minnesota for the summer. We came back about August and stayed in the "Sleep-off-the-highway" motel on South Street for a couple weeks while we looked for a home. All the realtors warned us about the Laguna Lake addition, too windy. We checked in with a model home and looked elsewhere around town. We could get a brand new home in Laguna Lake or a broken down one elsewhere in town for about the same price. There was a new phase being built by Ray Skinner. He had already completed about three previous phases and had just gotten a good start on this one. None of them were occupied yet and we finally picked one that had a large backyard on the south (sun) side of the house. We were the first ones in this phase, less than half of the homes had been built at this time.
I was dealing with the Veteran's Administration and got a 100% GI Loan for the house at 1371 Avalon Street. There were no streetlights or mail service and as I remember a gravel street. They had just barely finished when we moved in. They even had to come back and reset the master bedroom window when the movable part fell out on the floor. We had a lawn of adobe dirt. But we had a roof, gas, water and a furnace so we felt like we were in "Fat City". The house had three bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths with tan linoleum tile floors. I hate to tell you that it only cost $17,900. This was on September of 1963. When they found out my salary they wouldn't even offer me the four bedroom one next door with a larger backyard because it cost $19,100 and I didn't make enough to qualify. Sounds funny now. We have added three additions and it is now appraised at over $450,000 and the house next door just sold for a low price of only $620,000. The owner was a widow and could no longer handle a large house. There were a number of things that needed doing and she sold it "As Is!" We were sorry to lose a longtime good neighbor.
Well, we were happy to have a home. As I remember our dining room table was her mother's card table. We had a couple chairs and I had a rocking chair to watch television. The television was the black and white Zenith that we had been dragging around since Washington DC.
The floors were bare, the kind of nondescript tan asphalt tile that builders of tracts like to spread by the acre. I was sitting in it one night watching television news and reading the paper and saw an announcement that the local archaeological society was meeting that night. It sounded interesting, our own little local National Geographic. So I left the contemplation of the tiles to Sauny and went to visit the meeting.
It turned out to be very interesting. The Society was very new,
no more than about six months old. Apparently there were two factions, the serious ones and the
"pot hunters". It all came to a head that night and the collectors were expelled. The group split
in half. Actually this was a good thing. They became the San Luis Obispo County Amateur
Archaeological Society. I was just watching, not being privy to the problems at that time.
They moved on to an important item of business. They had done a field trip and found thirteen sites along the coast up north of the town of Cayucos. But they were having a problem. When they tried to write up the site reports they had trouble trying to give the "professional" locations. They had been attending an adult evening school class on archaeology and the method of location they used is that based on Range, Township and Section, the Cadastral System. In the early George Washington surveying era, they surveyed the Midwest and laid it out in squares, six miles on a side. This gave them thirty six square miles and called it a township. So they wound up with a bunch of east/west and north/south lines. Then they would choose a "datum". The townships were then given a designation like, Range 7E, Township 14S. This means that this township is 7x6 or 42 miles east and 14x6 or 84 miles south of the datum. The sections were then numbered from the northeast corner, that one being number one. They then numbered them sequentially to the left up to six, dropped down one to number 7 and then to the right to 12. This continued zigzagging down to number 36 in the lower right hand corner.
Now the sections in turn could be divided in half, or quarters or as small as one wants. One could do successive splits as far as necessary. For example, a site could be listed as being in the south half of the northeast quarter of section 27, Range 7E and Township 14S. A quarter is 160 acres and half of that would be 80 acres. There are 43,560 square feet in an acre. So this would locate the site to about 3.65 million square feet. This equivalent to a square, about 1850 feet on a side. I went into this to show that this method is not a very precise locator. It locates an area, not a point.
I raised my hand and told them that I didn't know much about formal archaeology but that, as a pilot, I did know maps. I could give them the locations. So they "accepted" me as a member and gave me copies of their data.
I bought a Geological Survey map of the area and located their sites on it. But I immediately ran across a California land measurement problem. When California was admitted to the Union, the Spanish Land Grants were recognized. They were huge and they were never surveyed. That is why the Society was having a problem. The section numbers they were looking for did not exist.
Well, there are other ways to locate sites, three at least. There were California Coordinates, Universal Transverse Mercator Grid and the old standby, Latitude and Longitude.
I like latitude and longitude because it is a single system that applies throughout the world. It is used to describe points on a curved surface. The other methods are based on projections of the curved surface onto a plane surface. The farther one goes from the center, the greater the distortion. So every so often they have to create another plane and thereby establish a new datum. California becomes faceted like a finely cut diamond with a new datum for every facet.
Both UTMG and CC do this. But California Coordinates measure the distance from the Datum in feet and UTMG in meters. There are those that believe the metric system is more accurate. That is ridiculous. It is true that people that make accurate measurements prefer the metric system because of the effortless translation to other units in the system. There are 1000 meters in a kilometer, just move the decimal point. But there are 5280 feet in a mile. This is more difficult to do and is a great place for people to make an error.
Any measurement system can be subdivided as far as is justified. So accuracy is not a consideration, at all.
The problem of location and recording that location is that one can make a mistake. If one makes a mistake, that site may be lost. To reduce this hazard I set up a system whereby I recorded all sites in four systems, latitude/longitude, California Coordinates, UTMG and Range/Township/Section. I figure I might make one mistake, even two, but I just can't believe I would make four! So when I located a site, if the four systems gave different locations, the site would be at one of the four, for sure!
I really don't think most professional archaeologists know much about the theory of measurement. One of the big honcho archaeologists said to me once, give me your coordinates and I'll give you the other three on my computer. He missed the entire point. If that coordinate was wrong, he would have four wrong coordinates. Independent determinations is crucial.
I became the "Site Recorder" for the Society and in time our work became well known throughout the state for professionalism. We dropped the Amateur from our name.
We had a professional as our advisor. He had a lot of experience
and was well known in the state. He managed to get copies of all the site records for San Luis
Obispo County from Berkeley without the knowledge of their Director, Dr. Heizer. He immediately
afterward increased security so it couldn't happen again. But it was too late. We had them. Our
professional also got all the records from the UCLA Archeaological Survey. And then he gave them
all to me.
What a mess. It turns out that Berkeley started the whole survey program sending an archaeologist to this county and he recorded about 61 sites. The records were a bit short on proper information and a number of them could not be re-located from the description. They continued to record sites and then UCLA thought it would be a good idea so they contacted Berkeley. Berkeley gave them the 147 site records they had at that time. Then both of them started to record new sites with no communication between them to prevent duplicate numbers. I had two sets of site numbers that agreed up to 147 but from then on they diverged. I had to make some decisions.
First, since Berkeley had precedence I accepted their 235 site numbers as recorded. I vacated all the UCLA sites that had the same numbers and assigned them new numbers. And then I found out that UCLA had already published about ten of them, so I had to restore those numbers and reassign the Berkeley sites with those numbers.
I wound up with three sets of site records. Site 4-SLO-188 SLO, 4-SLO-264 LA and 4-188 BK. I had to append the origin, SLO or LA or BK, in order to keep it straight exactly which site I was considering. It was possible for a site to have three different numbers. But our SLO numbers were eventually accepted as the official ones and we dropped the suffix, SLO.
A number of special problems occurred. There was a site in Chorro Valley, northwest of San Luis Obispo that had two numbers from UCLA. It turns out that they were the same site, one with a description of how to get there from Morro Bay and the other how to get there from San Luis Obispo.
UCLA had a bad habit of giving a block of numbers to people in the field and they more often than not did not return the forms. So I dropped all the "holes" in their files. I renumbered all their sites that were not duplicates of Berkeley numbers. I gave their sites new numbers so everything would be consecutive and there would be no holes. After all this, I wound up with almost 400 sites.
I found two new local sites and gave them the numbers 4-SLO-400 and 4-SLO-401. We were ready to progress in mighty leaps and bounds. I got a complete set of USGS maps of the County and located the sites on them as accurately as I could by the archaeologists' descriptions. Sometimes they left a lot to be desired. One professional report located a site with reference to a steam engine which was no longer there. Another located a site by an object which later was under water in a new lake. He had been doing the survey prior to construction of the dam! So I began to require more information from archaeologists before I would number a site. I had to be sure that it really was where they said it was. Everything was working well.
My system could have proved itself one time when one of the pre-eminent archaeologists in the state sent me a site report with a UTMG that was almost a half mile from the site. Someone had juxtaposed two of the numbers in a six digit number. She was not amused and got it corrected. But if I had not caught the error, it would have gone into print and may been lost forever. That is where location in four systems would have been useful in preventing this potential loss.
For a time we were recognized as the State Repository for archaeological reports. But eventually, the people at the state level couldn't stand the lack of control over our records. It didn't seem to bother the people that used the system. We charged a small fee for a records search from which I got nothing, later I got $5 for expenses. We had come up a long way from the time when the treasurer reported that we were in the hole by about $50, for several months running. We became a recognized professional authority for sites in this county.
I was even put on a committee to re-design the state site record form. I came up with a form that I considered proper for a field report, but it fell on deaf ears. As I look back on it, what they wanted was a long report that would make it possible for an armchair archaeologist to do his research from his armchair rather than have to go out in the field. They apparently were not familiar with the scientific principle, "Garbage In, Garbage out". The reports would be made by many people all with different backgrounds and expertise. There is no legitimate way to do any statistics on such a "polyglot" set of data. Any researcher with a "problem" would have to train a body of workers with uniform instructions and determine his own data. The site reports would be simply a guide to sites that "might" have the characteristics he/she was looking for.
In my opinion there are only two things of any real value in a site report. First, it's location should be given in four systems, latitude and longitude, UTMG, California Coordinates and Range/Township/Section. All of these are on most USGS Sectional maps. And the second thing is the answer to the question, "What makes you think this is an archaeological site?".
Sometimes these "reasons" are way out in left field. There are simple errors like the site report that said a site was west of highway one at a point where the road went east and west. What they meant was, toward the ocean, which in this case was south. That's a trivial error. But what do you do with the "professional" report from a graduate of Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara that recorded six quarries within a mile, halfway between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay while monitoring the State Water Pipeline excavations. At a talk describing his activities, I asked him how we could account for the fact that although there were only a half dozen authentic quarries in the County, he found six within a mile. No answer. I asked him if he had taken into account the fact that the area had been part of Camp San Luis Obispo during WWII. And that all the rock outcrops had been run over by every piece of military equipment used in WWII and been the target for every form of WWII ordinance. Again, no answer. I had previously visited one of the rock outcrops and, yes, there was a great deal of rock shatter that one should expect under the conditions. But I saw absolutely nothing to indicate that any of it was archaeological.
Eventually the State, in all its authoritarianism, could not stand that this obstreperous little organization could control these records with no help from them. So they set up a system of statewide repositories. I had dealt with the archaeologist at Cabrillo College and considered him a professional and a friend. The State designated Cabrillo College as the "Official" repository. With great reluctance I gave copies of our records to him. I also stated at the time that I wanted them to go no further, that they were being given to him in trust.
So much for that. Soon afterward the State re-designated the official repository as the Archeological Survey at the University of Santa Barbara. And my "friend" sent the records to them. That is precisely what I did not want to happen. I had good reason to distrust the group at UCSB and I had serious questions about their professionalism. The records were managed by part-time students that did not have enough training or understanding to do the job right. As a matter of fact, to show the level of incompetence, they once "lost" a $1560 check I wrote for 26 site Records Requests and the 26 records I sent them. Later a report I had done went missing; I requested a copy from them. It was one of those lost, so they didn't have it and I was unable to collect $1,000 from a client because of it. My part would have been about $150, the $850 was out-of-pocket expenses.
As a result of my work I was appointed the official representative of the Society for California Archaeology to the Local Division of Highways. I knew the people there, Jim Sturgeon and George Duclo, that worked in the advance projects area. They had taken me out to a number of their projects to help them determine if the project was going to have an impact on any archaeological resource. The highway department was the first organization to make an effort to avoid compromising these sites. Later Pacific Gas and Electric authorized an excavation at Diablo Canyon for $65,000 and got a lot of good publicity for it. No one seemed to notice that they turned around and spent $125,000 on a Visitor's Center. That gives a small indication of their real priorities.
I got a phone call from Jim Sturgeon one day asking me to come
over. I went and he showed me a scurrilous letter written to the State Highway Department saying
that they should fire him for his unprofessional pursuance of information about a possible site in
Santa Barbara County that might be impacted by a highway project. He told me how it happened. There
was a site report from a student at the University. Sturgeon and Duclo could not find it. They
brought me down there and I couldn't find it either. So Jim asked his son, who was a student at the
University, to go to the Survey and inquire about it. We have no idea what the son said or if he
tried to "pull rank" using his father's name which is a possibility. But in any case, the head of
the department. Dr. Mike Glassow, got angry and wrote the State Department of Highways because of
the incident. Jim was not at all concerned. He had been with the Department for many years and had
a reputation that was unassailable by a letter like this.
But it did bother me. I called the professor at UCSB and tried to talk to him. As I remember, he hung up on me. So I called the President of the SCA and told her about it. I said what did it mean for me to be the representative if people could ignore me and do their own thing. I told her that I had a good reputation with the Highway Department and didn't want it tarnished. She agreed with me and said she would take care of it. Apparently she wrote the Vice-Chancellor of the University who happened to be an anthropologist and explained what had happened. The end result was that the Vice-Chancellor put a letter of rebuke in the man's file. I, of course, got blamed for it and my name was rather muddy at UCSB. But that never stopped them from accepting my fees later when I did Surface Survey Reports in this county.
After several years of this I found out that I was the largest (most money) user of their "services".
My "professional" association with archaeology extended to 1 January 1995. I will collect all of the stories of this activity here to make it comprehensible.
Perhaps I can explain what I consider to be my main contribution to archaeology in this state. I was trained in the physical sciences which puts severe limitations on the use of measurements. Archaeologists are trained in Anthropology, a Social Science, which is an interpretive (opinion, not fact) science with little measurement rigor. They use statistics with questionable data and often substitute opinion for fact. They seem to believe that if you use an opinion often enough, it will become a fact! There was a TV program called "Quincy" that had an episode where a leg bone was found. In a forensics class, Quincy was able to generate the entire body, even the facial characteristics from that one bone. While most people enjoyed the program, I cringed. The only "fact" I could accept was the correlation of the fluoride content of the bone to a particular water source and even that is a very long stretch.
I should say that the main basis for my confidence in myself, and
a lack of confidence in social scientists in matters of measurement comes from my idol in
archaeology, Maj. Gen. Pitt-Rivers. With a professonal lifetime as an Army Engineer, he understood
completely the mechanisms of science and measurement. When he retired from the service in the late
1800's and retreated to his English estate he found many archaological sites. He plotted them, he
excavated them by layers after surveying, recorded eveything in precise detail, created a museum
and published his work. Anything less is pothunting.
Most archaeologists like to dig but don't like the hard work needed to completely finish a project. So they have large storerooms filled with material from previous digs that were not completed.
Gen. Pitt-Rivers invented the entire methodology of modern archaeology by himself. Some of his ideas have not yet been fully implemented or even understood. The only real changes to his method involve the wonderful new tools our modern culture has supplied, like computers, ground-penetrating radar and global positioning. I believe it is quite possible for an amateur with professional and measurement background to make a solid contribution to the field. And, yes, I put myself in the class as a minor contributor, but always in the big shadow of Gen. Pitt-Rivers.
I will try to encapsulate my association with the San Luis Obispo County Archeaological Society here, from summer 1963 till I left it in the 90's.
I joined it when it was only a few months old. We had a professional advisor whose name I cannot recall at present. He gave classes at the Adult Evening School which most everybody attended. This went on for several years. My first meeting with them led to my becoming the Site Recorder, this being described elsewhere here. I was part of a three or four person committee to write a set of by-laws. One of the other members was a Mrs. Muir. She was an avid member and a strict applier of the By-laws and attended all meetings and Board meetings till her death. At that time she was blind and feeble and almost 100 years old, but her mind was still sharp as a tack!
We gradually got a good reputation in the State and once even got an inquiry from a New Jersey group that was trying to do what we had done. We sent them some recommendations and a copy of our By-laws.
We got a new professional advisor, Jay von Werlhof who also taught courses at the Adult Evening School. He got the county site records from Berkeley and UCLA which I then organized and "corrected" into a set of 400 reports. We did more archaeoogical surveys and when the State mandated Site Surveys for proposed bulding projects. more reports came in. We had around 1000 reports by the time the State decided to step in and control the reporting. I was on a statewide committee for a short time to design a new site report but I was at total odds with the "professionals" which were designing a poor and impossible form. It required expertise from the reporters that almost none of them had.
The State, County and the cities in the County decided they would accept site survey reports from me for proposed building projects. I did probably a thousand of them from about 1975 to 1995.
The Indians were beginning to band together and were trying to exert an influence on these reports. But their attitude at that time was counter to the interests of archeaology and largely based on their religious feelings. Things were very difficult for a time. Robert Gibson, an archeologist from Paso Robles, incurred their displeasure when he did a project for CalTrans, the state highway department, on Highway 1 in Monterey County. A meeting was set up in a building on the campus of Cuesta College. Gibson was there as was James Sturgeon of CalTrans, some others from the highway department and members of the SLO County Archaeological Society. We had a discussion of the project while waiting for the promised attendance of the Indian group. Finally they marched in, lined up, sang "Onward Christian Soldiers, said they would not participate and marched out.
I began to hire an Indian to accompany me on all my surveys. He was more synmpathetic to what had to be done but kept an eye on what I was doing. He lived in Oceano and he and his wife got disturbed about Diablo Canyon being too close and upwind. So they decided to move. They asked me to fly them to Crescent City CA and back. We spent a day there and they paid for the gas, my lodging and food. A realtor took them around but they were not impressed. A bit later I took them to Bandon OR and we repeated the arrangement. This time they were impressed, chose a place and moved there.
I hired a seond Indian, Mr. Jamie Karl, for site surveying. I
actually paid him more than I paid myself. We did a number of reports and I thought we worked well
together. Then one day I got a registered letter he wrote to a number of "high-placed"
organisations including the Native American Heritage Commission in Sacramento accusing me of not
being sensitive to the Indian concerns and that I had done something with some bones we had found,
probably almost a year before. I suddenly remembered the occasion, over off Highway 41 in Morro Bay
where two small fragments of bone were found. I did not remember what had happened to these bones.
I'm not perfect and I realized that I had slipped up somehow. I just could not remember where they
were. I looked everywhere I thought they might be and couldn't find them. So I wrote a letter and
sent it to all the people he had sent his to, apologizing.
I am a "clutter-bug" so perhaps it was not surprising that this would happen some time. I often took a lunch to school in a small brown paper sack. A number of them had collected on my desk along with an assortment of other papers and objects. I started going through the sacks, most of which were empty and were discarded. Wow, I opened one sack that looked like one of my lunch sacks and there they were. On the way back from the survey, I had taken them to the County Coroner which was part of the required procedure and he wasn't interested since they were ancient and not a result of a crime. As I remember he told me he thought they were of vegetable origin. I knew that was not true so I took them to Dr. Firestine, a Biology Professor at Cal Poly, often used for such determinations. He agreed they were ancient bone fragments. I had a class coming up so I put them in the brown sack and put it toward the back of my desk and promptly forgot about them. I then wrote a letter to all the previously mentioned places and a second letter to Mr. Nickles in the Morro Bay Administration Office and asked him to set up a meeting with himself and Mr. Karl which he did. I was the last one there and without a word I handed him the sack and without looking at it he handed to Mr. Karl who looked in, nodded and agreed that they were the ones. I left and never saw him again. I understand he died at some later date of cancer.
I continued doing site survey reports and finally hired a very capable assistant, Mr. Terry Frederick, who could do the hilly parts I was having a little trouble with.
An Indian that understood the complexities of Archaeology, archaeological site surveys and the Native American desires started attending the Society meetings. Another very knowledgeable and experienced professional archaeologist, Mr. Clay Singer, joined the Society. It seemed that things were beginning to look up. John, the Native American, was trying to find a way of reconciling archeological and Native American needs.
One day some Native Americans were at the society's building at
Camp San Luis. It was after the legally required repatriation of Native American bone materials had
been already done. Mr. Singer was showing them the materials the Society had amassed. And he
encountered several things that had not been repatriated, an oversight. The Native Americans
demanded them, and it was now a State Law. Luther Betrando, probably chairman of the Society at
that time was standing there. Clay looked at him but he volunteered nothing so Clay gave them the
A meeting of the Society was coming up to be held at the home of Dr. Robert and Chris Hoover on a Tuesday night as I remember. I called Chris and asked if she knew of any actions that were going to be very important slated for the meeting. She indicated to me that there was nothing significant on the agenda so I said I would attend another meeting I wanted to attend.
However, the subject of the bone transfer came up, Luther did not defend Clay and they threw him out of the Society. Of course, The Native American went with him. And I felt betrayed. They knew I would not vote for such a thing and didn't want me there. So I never went to another meeting. I have had nothing to do with any of them since. It was about this time that I ceased operations on site reports.
Luther and Betsy Bertrando's son, Ethan, had graduated from the University of Santa Barbara in Anthropology. I have always felt this behavior at the meeting was prompted by a desire to advance Ethan's career. What little I've seen of his work did not lead me to believe he was a very capable archaeologist.
I have had no dealings with archaeology since that time.
I retired from professional surface survey activity, at least in part because of fear of the desperation some archaeologists in the county might feel. I had probably done a thousand reports over about twenty years. While there were probably a dozen archaeologists working here, I only really trusted one of them. Most of the rest could see where their bread was buttered. There was not enough work for all of them to make a decent living, and I was siphoning off work that they needed. With my lack of professonal paper (degrees) in a field they could accept, I felt vulnerable to litigation and I decided that at 72, I no longer needed the potential aggravation. Besides I was beginning to feel just how high the hills were. I have to admit, I might have enjoyed the defense. But I would have had to trust the legal system. The legal people are woefully untrained in anything that requires measurement. I found out once just how uninformed they were when I served as an expert witness in a case involving a chemical.
I will have to put my Cal Poly experiences here in one area although they cover almost thirty years. It is probably not good narrative to fragment the story and try to put it in a more correct temporal sequence. I will start with my entrance on their scene.
When I arrived I was given a tour of the Chemistry Department by
one of the full professors, Dr. Bruce Kennelly. As we were walking down the hall, I was caught by
surprise when we passed a Kjeldahl room. The Kjeldahl analysis is the way one gets the per cent
nitrogen in fertilizers, feeds etc. The "old fashioned" method involves rather large flasks of very
hot concentrated sulfuric acid and boiling solutions of extremely caustic sodium hydroxide. It can
be quite dangerous if something goes wrong. A micro method was available that one could do on a
regular laboratory bench. A special room is not needed and I consider it an unnecessary hazard.
Unfortunately it caught me completely by surprise and I blurted out, "My God, you're not still
doing that are you?" How was I to know that it was a pet of his! He claimed the micro method did
not meet legal standards but it is my understandiong that that is not true.
Needless to say, he was not exactly enchanted with me. As a matter of fact, he did everything he could to make my life miserable and I'm afraid that he made it rather easy to do the same to him. At this time he was a full professor in the Physical Sciences Department. He was that second person in my life that I came to despise.
During the fifth year I became eligible for promotion to Associate Professor and to obtain tenure. I came up for a vote and was granted both. It turns out that this was lucky for me because the Physical Science Department agreed that year to split into a Physics Department and a Chemistry Department. That happened the next fall. If I had not gotten tenure and the promotion that year I probably would have been fired the next year. To make it even worse, Dr. Kennelly was given the job of Department Head. On my first day in the deparment I had alienated the person that was to be my Department Head five years later!
We eventually became the largest Chemistry Department in the State with 30 Ph. D. chemistry professors. We had a large service responsibility since we are so "technical". I taught a lot of General Chemistry for Engineers. It was challenging because not one of them wanted to be there but I knew they needed some understanding of chemistry in their changing world. I tried to smile a lot. I did not realize that Dr. Kennelly and the full professors would have their private satisfaction by not allowing me to teach the organic chemistry to the majors in spite of the fact that my Ph. D. was in Physical Organic Chemistry from Harvard University. I need to qualify this a little. I did teach one class for one quarter on an emergency basis. They opened a new section during registration and in desperation they assigned it to me. But it was in a room across campus in the Engineering Building with no chemical aids, such as no periodic table. Further we had no textbooks for five of the eleven weeks! I had portions of the book duplicated and placed a number of them on reserve in the library. I tracked the performance of my students through the rest of the sequence and could find no sign that they were at a disadvantage for having taken this class from me under very adverse circumstances.
I was teaching a lot of laboratories in Engineering General Chemistry and in the one quarter Survey of Organic laboratory. The lab books were written by the full professors and were totally unacceptable to me. It got so that I was running my laboratories on handouts and never used the official ones. The experiments either didn't work or were wildly inappropriate for the courses. I finally had had it and bit the bullet. I requested time in the next staff meeting to discuss re-writing the manuals. He agreed. But at 11:05 the next Tuesday on the way to the meeting he poked his nose in my office and said, "I'm sorry Chuck (Nobody calls me Chuck!) we don't have time today." I said, "OK, next week then". This went on for several weeks and I finally said, "No, call on me today or I'll stand up and start talking." He was pretty sure I would so he called on me, we discussed it and voted to re-write them as a faculty, not as individuals. I was flattered when I was asked to do the General Chemistry for Engineering, two quarters. It was easy because I had already re-written most of them. But I wanted to show them just how cheaply it could be done. I made the masters and used every trick I had learned when I worked at "Chemical and Engineering News". I edited it to where there was very little "white space". I used double columns as it is more space efficient. I had it run off at "Achievement House". It sold in the bookstore with their markup for 37 cents. We got into a little trouble and had to do a supplemental run because it was so cheap the students were buying two, one to leave at home! We finally started using a printer in Santa Maria and kept the price below a dollar for several years. We finally incorporated a non-profit corporation, SLOCHEM, off campus and started charging a small royalty which was used to benefit the department in various ways. For instance we gave several students small grants to attend student chemical conferences.
I was the prow of the expansion boat. When I arrived there were
seven full professors of chemistry and the school was set to launch an expansion from a rather
sleepy school of about 5500 to a bustling college of 15,000 plus. They saw a chance to create a
feudal system with them as the barons and the rest of as peasants. Me, being me, would not conform
to this view. After all, I was a combat veteran, a Ph. D. from Harvard. I felt I deserved a real
voice in the operation of this department. It was never about me. It was about helping create a
great chemistry department and using the many human resources we were about to recruit. The full
professors were not about to give up any of their perceived perks. They wrote the lab manuals
although they rarely taught the courses. I taught a lot of engineering general chemistry and
organic chemistry labs, both the one quarter survey course and the three quarter majors labs. To
jump up in time for a moment, I understood the cabal's need to cling to the past, but I fought it
to liberate the rest of us from their chains. I never expected any thanks for acting as the
lighning rod, but I did hope for a little leveling of the playing field after the cabal finally
lost its power. I never did understand that after the younger group acceded to the running of the
department, NOTHING CHANGED. I was given the same schedules. I never (except for that one quarter)
routinely taught the organic majors course. Every fall we would fill out a "preferences" sheet to
guide the scheduler. Every year I put it as number one preference and never got it. I finally got
to putting it as number one and everything else as number 5, the lowest. It never happened. After
fifteen years of this, I quit submitting a preferennce sheet. This was from the people that
benefitted from all the trouble I experienced fighting for improvements. One of these was my office
partner for close to fifteen years. But they could care less!
A side story might be appropriate here. This office partner and another faculty member had been teaching the one quarter organic survey and worked out a change in the way it was taught. They took their idea to Dr. Kennelly. He listened politely and when they were finished he reached over to a shelf and grabbed a sheaf of papers. He held it out toward them said simply, "All these people want your jobs." They told me this story at the time. They did not have tenure at this time so they went back to their cubbyholes and kept quiet.
Several years later I had a perhaps similar idea. The difference was that I did not ask for the Department Head's permission, I simply did it. This was the era of the madhouse bullpit registration in the gym. Towards the end of registration it became obvious that another section of this survey organic course was desperately needed. So they opened one and put me in it. Then someone mistakenly closed it when it only had fourteen students. But they were obligated to have it. I saw it as an opportunity to try a change that I had wanted to try for some time. So I did it. It involved doing the first few pages of ten chapters to get structures and nomenclature in mind before tackling the chemistry. Then we went back to the beginning and went through the ten chapters for the chemistry. I thought it worked rather well.
One of the students was a rather bright girl whose father was a professor somewhere down in Engineering. He had been selected one year as an "Outstanding Professor" so she considered his manner of teaching as the only way to teach. And he would start at page one and go to the back page by page. My jumping from the first few pages of the first twelve chapters, and then going back to do the rest of the chapters, simply drove her up the wall. I couldn't have irritated her more if I had spent the entire quarter scratching my fingernails on the blackboard. We had a rather non-productive process at that time called "student evaluation". It involved the writing of comments on a card and submitting it "anonymously". I do not like anonymous comments that can affect a person's job. If the comments are substantive and helpful, why not sign it. The professors did not see them until grades were in, so whom could it hurt.
Two of the fourteen cards stood out in contrast. One was obviously written in anger. It said, somewhat paraphrased, "This is the worst class I have ever had in college. I feel I must re-take it from another instructor before I can continue in my major!" I have no idea how it would affect her performance in her major. The second card was a quieter one and one I would obviously treasure. "This is one of the only university level classes I've taken at Cal Poly.... The instructor was always a gentleman in spite of one openly obnoxious student!" A rather informative contrast.
I was turned down the first time for Associate Professor. I felt obligated to go and discuss it with the Physcial Sciences Department Head. We discussed it for a period of time and it ended when he kind of stuttered and said, "We never promote anyone the first time." Then I said, "That doesn't seem to me to be a good reason to me." And it ended there.
There was a time when the professors were supposed to attend some classes of the junior faculty they were about to evaluate for retention and/or promotion. To the best of my recollection I was visited only once. Dr. Kennelly and another full professor both visited me on the same day, with no warning. I really didn't mind but it was a most inappropriate day from my standpoint. In the previous class I had gone through the balancing of oxidation and reduction equations. This class I was "winging" it, balancing peculiar equations and in general trying to hold a chemical conversation" with the class, answering questions etc. This type of teaching was a total anathema to Dr. Kennelly. He had his lectures all spelled out. If asked he could show you just what he did a week ago Thursday. He would plow ahead with his "schedule" with little or no interest in whether or not they were "getting it". He would insert his 3x5 jokes at the prescribed time whether it would work at that time or not. A 3x5 joke is one used over and over, quarter after quarter, and is written on 3x5 cards. I have been told that he spent quite a bit of time on a new fertilizer he called "Erunam". After a time it became obvious that this was manure spelled backwards.
One of the biochemist Full Professors had an animal room, purportedly used for some feeding experiments in one of the biochemisty labs. I thought the conditions were so deplorable that they could never get any data that was worthwhile. The room stank and was always dark. No light, artificial or otherwise. The only light occurred when someone opened the door. The sanitary conditions were terrible. Someone told me that they saw them open a bag of feed and it was crawling with unwanted visitors. the professor sprayed it and then went ahead and used it on the animals. A rash of diarrhea ensued. I thought the whole thing was disgusting but oddly, I kept my mouth mostly shut. People knew what I thought but I did nothing actively to get rid of it. There came a time after the old full professors had lost their power that it was decided that room had to go. I was pleased that the stockroom manager asked me to write a procedure to clean the room. It was gutted, and then washed down several times with detergents and with Clorox. It was finally sprayed with something to kill any remaining undesirables.
I might mention that at one time they had large Cuban cockroaches for some purpose. Their sanitation was so nonexistent that the eggs which had not been taken care of properly hatched, eventually creating swarms in the basement where people almost didn't dare to go. I offered to clean it up but they didn't seem to hear me.
I actually rather enjoyed the cartoon posted in the stockroom. It was about a chemist and the name of the chemist had been scratched out and mine put in. It said "Dills has a better way!"
About this time they also decided to abandon the Kjeldahl room. I was pleased when they invited me to take out the first bolt!
After he visited my class, which he hated, he wrote a two page hand written "evalution" which boiled down to suggesting that I teach like he taught. I would have rather been caught dead!
We had a Spring travesty called "Poly Royal". It had grown
completely out of hand. It had become such a big deal that it almost destroyed the whole Spring
Quarter. The students would be mentally absent for the whole time, planning and executing their
extreme carnival-like projects. It drew people from all over and seemed like a great thing. But
when it was over, the students were so tired that they didn't seem capable of learning anything for
the remainder of the quarter. I considered it disastrous. I tried to help a little in the first few
years but gradually divorced myself from it because it seemed to me to be quite disorganised. They
made no effort to document what they did eadh year so the next year would have a set of "history"
books to fall back on with photographs and comments about what worked and what didn't. Every year
they went at it like it was the first time. For a time I went around and "edited" their signs,
correcting their English and chemistry. I finally quit that and let the visitors see what they did
on their own. I just went back to my office and lab and tried to live with it since I had no power
to change it.
It finally came to a head. It had become rowdier and rowdier as the years wore on. Students from elsewhere would come and have blast, kind of like those spring fling things in Florida. The police started getting involved and finally one year they had a riot, lots of police confrontations and Poly Royal was suspended. It has been since reinstated but much more modestly. We had a vacancy and advertised. We got around 300 replies. I was put on the committee to sift through them and bring the number down to a more manageable size. It is amazing what someone will do for an application. One application was handwritten on legal size yellow lined paper. We didn't even read it. We pared the pile down to probably about thirty. We went through these cursorily and tried to pick out what seemed to us to be the best candidates. I put asterisks on several. On one of them I put two asterisks. Would you believe it, that turned out to be the one we hired. I learned not to trust people's applications. After a time I began to wonder where this powerhouse was. The person and the resume didn't seem to fit!
He became one of the rotating deparment heads. As such they were full time, not ten month enployees. But for some unexplained reason a member of the faculty was retained as Acting Department Head in the summer. Yes, it was me one summer. One of my first office partners was teaching that summer. He saw me at an occasion one Friday night and told me that his father had had a heart attack and he needed to go see him. I told him to go and to call me on Monday and let me know what was happening, that I would see that his classes were covered. Monday, no call. Tuesday, no call. Wednesday I called his father and inquired about him. His father said he hadn't had a heart attack and that he didn't know where his son was. There was no call that week. He returned on Monday and I had the unpleasant duty to tell him he no longer worked here, that five consecutive absences with no communication was equivalent to a resignation. He did not take it well. Later we found that he had signed up for a week trip in the Sierra in a Cal Poly class. He was actually on the class roll sheet. I told him that he had lied to me and I would not accept that. While I don't know the complete truth it seems he was experimenting with some drugs and had done several bizarre things. One involved an incident with a gun. He had stopped in a gun shop in downtown San Luis Obispo and then walked out with a revolver without paying for it. The owner, of course, reported it to the police and he was stopped near the college. He apparently played the absent-minded professor card and convinced everybody that it was just a mistake.
A continuation of the animosity between me and the Department Head
occurred several years later when I came up for full professor. I was turned down unanimously by
the six full professors, one of the original seven having retired. I rather expected that. But as a
matter of policy, I went to the Dean to inquire. After a trivial discussion "around" the subject,
he defended his action saying that once before he had overruled the faculty and promoted a faculty
member over their objections. From that day forward that man was known as the "Dean's man" and he
didn't want to do that to me. I smiled and said something like, "Do you really believe anyone would
ever say something like that about me?"
The following year they did it again. But this year the University-wide Personnel Review Committee wrote and said that they noticed I had been turned down again and asked if I wanted them to look into it. I told them to go ahead that I thought they would find it interesting. They did and wrote an excoriating letter to the department, at which point the Department Head, the Dean and everybody up the line voted for promotion and I became a Full Professor!
But later I found out what really happened. We had a system at that time that when one voted on persons of lower rank (which they called Peer Evaluation) one had to assign a number to that person between one and five. One could give numbers like 4.2 or 3.5 etc. One had to average 3.5 or better to be promoted to Associate Professor and 4.5 or better to be promoted to Full Professor. In my case it turns out that five of the six gave me numbers above 4.5 and the sixth one gave me 3.2. This pulled the average below 4.5. There was a final document they had to sign with two columns, promote or not promote. They all signed "not promote" although five of the six had given me a "promote" number. It was a "blackball" system.
It seems there was a private non-written agreement that whichever way the vote went, they would all sign that way. I have always believed that the five had no trouble doing that because they knew that if I got to be one of the anointed ones I would never change my vote in such a way. And further they knew I would make it known just what they were doing. There would be no secrecy anymore. So they signed . I always have felt that I was turned down by a Department Head that hated me and five hypocrites.
This was a kind of turning point for the department. The lower ranks were quite aware of what was going on and they were turning into a bunch of "restless natives". Dissastisfaction was rampant. Then Dr. Kennelly delivered himself into their hands. He wrote a book one summer with a pair of scissors. This means that he cut illustrations out of a lot of copyrighted materials like Scientific American, and other texts, had it printed and sold it to his students. This of course is strictly illegal and is called plagiarism. The lower faculty had a night meeting at one of the faculty member's home to discuss the situation. They decided to send an emissary to the college President, Dr. Robert Kennedy, to explain the dissatisfaction of the department with its Head. They sent a member of another department that was also on the Academic Senate. He went and warned Dr. Kennedy that he had better do something before it got off the campus and became a scandal. He sent for the Dean, Dr. Clyde Fisher who poopooed the idea that there was a problem. So they sent the emissary back with the idea that Dr. Fisher had no idea of what was going on. Suddenly, it was announced there would be a special faculty meeting on Thursday at 11 AM. We arrived and Drs. Kennelly and Fisher were present. Dr. Kennedy gave his usual introduction about what a good job he was doing as President, then he excused Drs. Kennelly and Fisher, pulled some slips of paper out of his pocket and distributed them. We then voted to support or not support Doctor Kennelly as Department Head. He collected them and left. The next College Report said that Dr. Kennelly had requested a return to teaching. The faculty then agreed to support Department Heads for a specified term of three years. It became a Department Chair. With this the six remaining older Full Professors lost all their power.
This was my second brush with President Kennedy. Earlier, before
I had tenure,I was put on a University committee to create a new position, Dean of Campus Planning.
He wanted the present head of the department to be put in as Dean. I did not have tenure at this
time and could have felt intimidated but that has never been my style. If I'm given a job, I try to
do the job. Dr. Kennedy gave his usual introduction and then explained the need for the Deanship.
It seems that when our Director of Campus Planning went to state meetings he was not listened to
because he was only a Director, all the rest were Deans.
He left and there was a lull. No one seemed to know what to do next. The head of the physical plant on the campus was Arthur Young. I had gotten to know him because of work that needed to be done occasionlly in the labs. So during a lull, I turned to him and asked, "Art, is it true we have only two plumbers on the campus?" He said. "No, we have just hired another so we have three." After another lull I asked the group,"Does anybody know how many Deans we have?" Again, silence. But I believe they got my point. I was told later that Dr. Kennedy had been told about my comment. There was no problem with creating the deanship and they generally seemed to feel that it was appropriate to promote the present occupant. But I objected. I said that this was an important position with a good salary and that we should advertise and see what we could get. The present occupant would be at liberty to throw his hat in the ring too but should have to take his chances. It had been a common practice to promote individuals from within rather than advertise openings. I felt this was a bad practice. I kept the committee alive for three months. As I remember, the present head had no planning experience or training. He had just been placed in the position by a previous president, Dr. Julian McPhee, for whom I have a great respect. But not everything he did was right. Over that three months people would sidle into my office and give me pictures of avoidable errors in planning that should not have happened, doors on one side of the hall that interfered with doors on the other side when both were opened. I would present them to the committee. The vote finally came and I was overruled. But I really believe that was the last time any position was rather automatically filled from within. From then on, positions like this were always advertised and candidates were interviewed.
Somewhere in the late sixties we drove our 1968 Volvo 4-door
sedan back to Minnesota for a visit. We went to her mother's home first. On our way up to Moorhead
MN the car developed a thumping noise. I stopped and looked and we had developed a ply separation,
giving a bubble on the right rear tire. I changed the tire and drove on to Moorhead. The next day
I drove down to the Firestone store to get a new tire. They did not have one in stock and Volvos
were not too common yet. The tire was metric so there was no easy substitution. He said he would
order one from Minneapolis. We had two weeks so there shouldn't have been a problem,
However, at the end of the two weeks he still did not have it. I never understood why he couldn't get a tire from 200 miles away in two weeks. So we were in for a 1500 mile trip with no spare. So he gave me the closest thing he had and put it on the spare wheel. He said if we didn't use it we could trade it at the Firestone store back home for the right one. Yeh, sure! When I took the car to the Firestone store in San Luis Obispo I found out that all the stores were independently owned and he didn't have to take it and wouldn't. I went elsewhere and bought the right one and later threw the no good one away! Money down the drain! Needless to say I never bought another Firestone tire!
One day we drove out to Osage, Minnesota to visit Sauny's "Aunt" Bea and her husband. We also took a little trip to Itasca State Park which had the beginning of the mighty Mississippi River.
One time at the end of a visit in Minnesota we drove down to Maryville to visit Sauny's mother. I was driving a bit after sunset. It was late twilight and I approached Des Moines. Iowa from the north. I was cruising along at 65 to 70. There was an underpass ahead, dipping under a train track. It obviously was an afterthought because it had been added after the railroad track was there and was a rather sudden dip, under the track. The railroad had one of those iron barricades on each side of the track with the series of large diagonal yellow stripes. As we approached, all of a sudden Sauny burst out crying. She didn't see the underpass and it looked like I was driving right into an iron barrier at 65 mph and she totally freaked out with fear. I don't remember what I did but I suspect I slowed down and probably parked temporarily at the side of the road till she calmed down.