A TRIBUTE TO MY WIFE, CHARLOTTE.
Charlotte and I are both in our 80’s and are having some difficulties with our walking. I have to have a brace on my leg in order to maneuver. Charlotte often has to use a walker. Someone recently remarked that I get around a little better than Charlotte since she has experienced several falls in recent weeks. (She has not broken any bones but she has certainly gotten some fearsome looking bruises.) The report of her frequent falls led to a comment by someone that Charlotte might have to retire to a nursing home. And then the comment was that I should not despair, for I could visit her there every day. This person does not realize that such a comment was like driving a sword through my soul!
We have always done things together. As long as I have any control over our situation, we will continue to do everything together. Let it be known by all others that I will do nothing that even bears a resemblance to living apart from my wife. Charlotte knows this. My nearly 58 years experience married to Charlotte assures me that she will not abandon me. Let me tell you about my remarkable wife Charlotte.
She was born in 1920. Her mother died when she was about 7 and she was brought up by relatives in a neighborhood in northwest Chicago. When she was about 13 she moved in and began to keep house for her father and two younger brothers.
One day, when she was 18 years old, she just happened to drop in on an evangelistic meeting in her neighborhood conducted by Ed Craddock, a church of Christ missionary from Nashville. She was so impressed with the evident truth she heard there that she went again and again, night after night, to hear the word of God proclaimed. On the fourth night she was moved to act. As a repentant believer, she was baptized into Christ. That was in 1938. I didn't know her then. But I know that she has been close to her Lord ever since.
Ed Craddock, who baptized Charlotte.
I first met Charlotte in 1940 when I traveled to Chicago on a singing tour with the Radio Choristers of Nashville's David Lipscomb College. Charlotte, along with her girl friend Marge Zini, attended one of our concerts in downtown Chicago. I was introduced to Charlotte and her girl friend. At the time I just gained a memory that I had met two pretty girls.
Charlotte lived in an apartment in northwest Chicago with her father and two younger brothers. She was employed as a clerk at a downtown Chicago bank to which she commuted on the train every day. When the war started her two brothers were soon away (1942) to military service, one in the U. S. Army and one in the U. S. Navy. Charlotte remained at home, working at the bank and keeping house for her father who was a Streetcar Conductor on the Elston Avenue line.
It so happened that my war service which started in June 1942 was first as a civilian field clerk “embedded” with Corps of Engineering troops building army bases in Alaska. Early in 1944, however, I came home from Alaska to Nashville and was inducted into the U. S. Navy. One of my first assignments was for training in electronics at a Navy school in Chicago.
MY FIRST DATE WITH CHARLOTTE.
During my training in Chicago I was free to do anything I wanted on Sunday. So on my first free Sunday I attended worship at a nearby Church of Christ where I knew the minister and his wife, both of whom had been classmates of mine at David Lipscomb College a couple of years earlier. After the worship service they invited me to their home for dinner. It turned out that the highlight of my day was my meeting there of their other dinner guest, a beautiful girl named Charlotte Wiesen. I escorted Charlotte via streetcar to her home that day and asked if I might see her again the next Sunday. She consented!
I had four successive week end dates with Charlotte until the end of my training at that particular school. We attended worship services together at the church where I had been asked to lead the singing. It happened that Charlotte already was acquainted with and loved the songs that I led. We had most interesting conversations on long streetcar rides as I escorted her from and to her home. Charlotte was beginning to capture my heart, and I thought perhaps I was making a good impression on her. At the end of this short sojourn in Chicago I was being transferred for further training far away from Chicago to Gulfport, Mississippi. I really wanted to remain in Chicago near Charlotte. We parted with promises to write to each other.
We did exchange letters every few days during the three months I was in the Navy school in Gulfport. There was to be several months more schooling after Gulfport at one of three possible locations: San Francisco, Washington, D. C., or CHICAGO! Of course, I wanted to go back to Chicago to be near Charlotte again. But I was not allowed to make my own choice. I would have to go wherever the Navy decided to send me.
NAVY SENDS F. M. BACK TO CHICAGO!
A few days before the end of school in Gulfport I received my orders: back to Chicago, to Chicago's Navy Pier right on the LAKE fRONT in downtown Chicago, for several more months of schooling! I began to feel that the war wasn't so bad after all, at least not for me!
So almost every week during fall of 1944 and the winter of 1945 I spent Sundays with Charlotte. Sometimes I was even able to see her on Saturday afternoon, but I was always required to report back at Navy Pier before midnight on Saturday night. I was always off early on Sunday morning to take Charlotte to church. The Elston Avenue streetcar line, the same line on which Charlotte's father worked, was my connecting transportation to Northwest Chicago where Charlotte lived with her father. Sometimes I met her father as conductor on the streetcar which I took.
Tent Meeting at Northwest Church of Christ, Chicago 1946.
Over the weeks my devotion to Charlotte grew as did, apparently, her devotion to me. When Christmas came, Charlotte was hoping and half expecting (I learned later) that my gift to her would be an engagement ring. I was definitely thinking and desiring to offer her an engagement ring, but, alas, I didn't have the money to buy the proper ring. Instead I gave her a pair of snow boots because I feared her feet were getting wet in the slush we often encountered on the Chicago streets. As the end of my schooling and the time for me to be sent to sea drew near I asked Charlotte if I might consider that we were engaged, and that we might be married as soon as I returned from sea duty. She said yes. I still didn't have money at that time to buy the engagement ring.
I was to be sent to sea as a Radio Technician right after graduation from school. We decided not to schedule an exact date for our wedding until the war was over. The war in Europe was winding down (early 1945) but the war in the Pacific seemed to still be going strong. We had no knowledge of how long I would be gone, but we expected it might be years. I was hoping to use the money I was to get from back pay owed to me to buy the engagement ring myself before I left Chicago. But the Navy postponed paying us, saying we would be paid when we arrived at our new assignment. So I had to leave my bride-to-be without a ring. I promised to send it as soon as possible.
CHARLOTTE MEETS F. M.'S FAMILY IN NASHVILLE.
Just before finishing school I was given leave (the first in about a year) to go home to visit my family. This time I took Charlotte with me to Nashville to introduce her to my mother, my two college age sisters, and my high school age brother. At that time my father was away from home at a job in Oregon and my other brother was overseas serving in the Army. The trip was only for a few days but it paved the way for Charlotte to meet part of my family. Charlotte and my mother “hit it off” well. Later after I was at sea my mother invited Charlotte to come down to visit her in Nashville, which Charlotte did on two occasions.
F. M. LEAVES FOR U. S. NAVY SEA DUTY.
After reporting back to Chicago and delivering Charlotte back to her home, was given a voucher to purchase my own ticket and make my own way to the west coast embarkation point, Camp Shoemaker, near Oakland, California. (As a new Petty Officer Second Class I was finally entrusted to find my own way to my next station.) Charlotte and her father came down to the train station to see me off. Neither Charlotte nor I wanted the other to see tears being shed, but my eyes were pretty blurry when I got on the train.
( It seems that this journal is becoming a biography of Charlotte, which I didn't intend at first. I was thinking just to show readers what a remarkably wonderful wife I have. I am realizing as I write that I cannot really do justice to my subject in a short journal piece. But maybe I can give some glimpses of things that make me adore her.)
About that engagement ring, I couldn't bear to think of my Charlotte walking around Chicago without wearing my ring to indicate that she was taken. But, after reaching the port of embarkation in California and finally receiving my back pay, I found myself with no opportunity to go shopping. We were being prepared to board a troop ship to be transported somewhere in the South Pacific. No liberty was allowed. So I sent an urgent communication to Charlotte suggesting that I might send her the money and she might go into downtown Chicago and buy the ring herself. I mailed a money order for her to make the purchase. Later I learned that this caused some excitement among Charlotte's friends and co-workers at the bank where she worked. Some officers at the bank helped her make a deal to get the best possible ring!
Charlotte, by her own admission, had never been much of a letter writer. Maybe that was because she had never had anyone she loved to whom she needed to write. Well, she minimized my loneliness during 13 months at sea by writing to me almost every day! That was a thing remarkable. Of course, sometimes I had to go several weeks at a time without mail because my ship was moving about the vast Pacific, although usually in the vicinity of the Philippine Islands. She didn't know where we were and we couldn't tell her. She simply wrote to a Fleet Post Office number in San Francisco. We could get mail only when we were in regularly scheduled ports. When at sea I had to go without mail. But when we reached certain ports, I often received small bags of mail, almost all from Charlotte. What a wonderful time I had learning that my Charlotte loved me and about the details of her daily life in Chicago. I wrote a lot of letters in reply, but not nearly one a day as she wrote to me.
USS LSM 53, My First Assignment, Invaded Brunei Bay, Borneo.
PLANNING FOR A LIFE TOGETHER.
By correspondence we began to plan our lives for after the war. At first our plans were somewhat vague for the war news gave us scant hope that it would be over soon. But in mid-August 1945 (after I had been at sea for about 5 months) the surprise dropping of the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima gave us cause for real hope. We could hardly believe it when, only two weeks later, the war was over. After that Charlotte and I began by correspondence to attempt to make specific plans for our wedding and the start of our life together.
Charlotte and I had already discussed the fact that I wanted, indeed, needed to return to college to complete my degree in engineering. After studying electronics for so long in the Navy and becoming so intrigued by it, I had decided that my degree ought to be in Electrical Engineering instead of Aeronautical Engineering for which I had planned in high school. She agreed that I should get the degree even though neither of us understood at first how we might accomplish it. So we planned that more college was to occupy our time for the first two years of our married life. At about this time Congress passed the G. I. Bill providing funds for a college education for war veterans. This gave us some assurance that we would not starve while I completed college. But there was never any question but that the first thing after the war for us was to be an almost immediate wedding!
F. M. ASSIGNED “MOP UP” DUTY IN PACIFIC WAR ZONE.
I hd been a late arrival to the Pacific war zone. When I got there in 1945 I was assigned to ships with crews which had been there since 1943. These older war veterans deserved to go home first. A point system was devised to allow the old timers to go home first while we late arrivals remained to do “mop up” duty. (My earlier war service as a civilian worker with the Army in Alaska didn't “buy me” any points with the Navy in the Pacific.) Shortly after September 1945 some ships began homeward voyages. However, the crew members aboard those ships who didn't have enough points to go home were transferred to other ships not yet scheduled to return home. Moreover, my ship, which was a cargo landing ship, began to be used for “mop up” service carrying Philippine troops to their home towns and for last minute moving of war supplies to depots in various places in the Philippines. A few of our crew with enough points were transferred from our ship to go home aboard other vessels. One good thing I remember was that the veil of secrecy for our operations had been lifted and I was able to write to Charlotte all about our adventures around the Philippine Islands.
In December 1945 my ship, then at anchor near the Philippine Island of Samar, received orders to proceed to California. I “held my breath” as we made preparation to leave on the long voyage. I wrote Charlotte that maybe I would be allowed to come home with the ship even though I did not have enough points. I was elated to remain aboard when we sailed away from the Philippines toward California.
It was a week long voyage through rough seas to our first port of call, the Island of Guam. I learned that sailors who had insufficient points were sometimes transferred off their home bound ships when the ships passed through Guam. Would this happen to me? I had recently been promoted to First Class Petty Officer. I hoped my presence on my ship might be deemed indispensable for the voyage home! My Commanding Officer gave me hope by saying that he would not “volunteer” me to remain in Guam. But alas, as we sailed into the atoll at Guam, a standard message was dispatched from the Naval authorities there requesting the names and records for all sailors without sufficient points to continue on to the U. S. The “jig was up.” I was transferred off the ship the next day to another landing ship which was doing “mop up” work in the Marianas Islands!
USS LSM 5, My second Assignment at Guam.
USS LC(FF)370, My Third Assignment, Returned to California.
I am telling all this here to indicate why, even though the war was over, I was so long in getting back to my bride-to-be who was waiting patiently for me in Chicago. Well, I had months more of duty which resulted in a sojourn for Christmas at Saipan Island, the sinking of our ship on a reef at Marcus Island early in 1946, some days of camping out on the beach at Marcus, and finally in April 1946 a slow voyage aboard another worn out and frequently broken down ship towards California. We were welcomed with a week long vacation of liberty ashore when we reached Pearl Harbor and Honolulu . (But I would have just as soon spent the time continuing on to the U. S.) Then, we finally arrived in San Pedro Harbor near San Diego, California. It was about May 1, 1946. Would I be able to be immediately discharged to proceed to Chicago? This was crucial. Let me tell you why.
WEDDING DATE SET.
You see, when I knew for sure in late March that I was to be sailing back to the U. S. right away, I thought it would be safe for Charlotte and I to plan our wedding for some time in May. So Charlotte, her father, and friends at church began to plan “a wedding of weddings.” The date of May 11 was selected. I had been planning and hoping to be there about two weeks before that date. But here it was, on or about May 1, and I had just arrived in California and I wasn't even discharged yet from the Navy! I told my Commanding Officer about my important deadline. But he felt that he could not do much to change whatever the Navy had in store for us. He was on his way home also. By this time we were a minimal crew on a still active ship. The Navy couldn't send us all home and leave an active ship abandoned in the harbor. At this time I began discussing these things with Charlotte by telephone whenever I could get ashore to a phone. At this moment, the beginning of a week end, the Navy gave us a homecoming gift! Someone came aboard to mind our ship, and we were given leave for the week end!! The war was over; we were back in the good old USA; take the week end off!!
F.M. and Friend in Mexico for Liberty.
There was no one to even talk to about my deadline until the next Monday, about May 3. (I'm guessing at these dates. I don't remember the exact dates of that week end but this is close.) What was I to do? I went with a couple of my shipmates to spend the free week end horse back riding, hiking in the Southern California mountains, and a brief trip to Mexico!
Perhaps the discussions I had with my Commanding Officer had done some good for on Tuesday I was relieved from the ship and sent to a discharge station in San Diego. I thought I might be discharged at once and allowed to make my own way directly to Chicago. But, alas again, the Navy didn't release “young inexperienced” sailor boys to go home on their own. They insisted on sending them back to the place where they had been inducted. For me, that had been Nashville, Tennessee! I had no choice. I was still under orders and now I was obliged to board a slow troop train and go back to Tennessee with a bunch of Navy veterans from Tennessee. I got to Memphis, Tennessee on about May 5,to be discharged there, but the administration of discharge papers couldn't be done overnight. It was just before noon on May 7, 1946 that I received my honorable discharge from the U. S. Navy, a day I will never forget. I phoned Charlotte to tell her I was on my way via Nashville to Chicago.
I remembered that I still had a few civilian clothes in Nashville that I would need on my honeymoon. My mother and father, sisters, and little brother still lived in Nashville. I might catch a glimpse of them as I passed through. I now felt rather desperate to get to Chicago. As I walked out of the Naval Station gate in Memphis I found several fellow dischargees who were also headed for Nashville. Four of us teamed up and hired a taxi to take us to Nashville. We were in Nashville later that afternoon. I spent the night with my folks in Nashville and took the train to Chicago the next day. I had phoned Charlotte so she knew about when I would arrive.
F. M. ARRIVES IN CHICAGO TWO DAYS BEFORE WEDDING DATE.
I arrived in Chicago in the late afternoon of May 9, 1946. I rented a room at the neighborhood YMCA which was just a few blocks from Charlotte's home. Then I hurried over to her apartment and knocked on the door. The door was opened by a beautiful slightly familiar looking girl. (I had been carrying her picture with me all over the Pacific.) She was extending her arms to greet a slightly familiar looking stranger. I was overwhelmed with the thought, this is the girl who waited for me and who wants to marry me!
I was half expecting Charlotte to tell me that the wedding date had been postponed because I was so late. No. Charlotte had everything arranged. I was scheduled to go down the next day to get health department clearance and a marriage license. Charlotte had already gotten her health clearance and she had phoned to make sure the office would be open when I got there the next day. Charlotte would go with me and show me the way.
CHURCH BUILDING BURNS PREVENTING USE FOR WEDDING.
But Charlotte also had some bad news. The church building in which we had been scheduled to be married had caught fire and had partially burned down just a few days before I arrived! The wedding ceremony could not be held there. With that news I expected that, perhaps, the wedding was postponed after all. But no! The minister, Brother J. D. Thomas, had offered to have the ceremony performed at his house. Charlotte's friends at the church had volunteered to clean and prepare the house for the crowd of friends who were expected to attend the wedding ceremony. The wedding reception after the wedding was to be held there in the minister's house also. There was to be no postponement of anything. I felt a deep sense of gratitude to Charlotte's many friends, many of whom I had met a year or so before during my Navy assignment in Chicago.
My bride-to-be had everything arranged: a new specially made wedding gown for her to wear, brides maids chosen, gifts for the brides maids and the best man (I had chosen the best man, Woodrow Duket, a former college class-mate, by mail), a choral group and soloists to sing at the ceremony, and even an appointment with a photographer to have our picture taken right after the wedding! Charlotte's brothers, who were now home from the war, had secretly made our reservation at a luxury lake front hotel for Charlotte and me to spend our wedding night. All I had to do was show up! Many of those involved did not know how close I had come to not showing up on time!
Our Wedding Invitation.
Marge Zini, Charlotte Perry, F. M. Perry, Woodrow Duket
Once when I was reminiscing with Charlotte about her arrangement of all the details that made our wedding come off smoothly, she added to the list of things I had remembered, “Yes, and I had to cook dinner for your parents and your brother!” You know, I had forgotten about that! You see, my parents and younger brother followed me a day later from Nashville to Chicago to attend the wedding. Charlotte and her father had invited them to stay at their house. But, of course, the task of caring for them fell mostly upon Charlotte who did all the cooking and house keeping for the Wiesen family. So the night before her wedding Charlotte prepared a sumptuous meal for the Perry and the Wiesen families. I suppose she fixed breakfast for them the next day also, her wedding day. I was not there because “our culture” at that time said that the bride was not to be seen by the groom on the day before the wedding. (We were doing everything, inasmuch as possible, “according to Hoyle.”) Do you see why my heart wells up with pride and admiration for this woman who condescended to marry me? (Years later it finally occurred to me that I had stolen the house keeper of the three men members of the Wiesen family, although it was with their permission! )
OUR HONEYMOON VISIT TO COLORADO.
A day or so after the wedding Charlotte and I departed Chicago to spend our honeymoon in the mountains of Colorado. We had no definite place to go there. She made no complaints. You see, she trusted me! I had some money saved up, so we went first class. That is, we went by airplane instead of train or bus. As we were boarding and going down the aisle of the airplane to our seats, Charlotte turned to me and said in a stage whisper heard by all the other passengers, “Where are the parachutes?” I thought she had flown at least one other time. Had she worn a parachute that time? Maybe she did. We didn't know then that one day we would become seasoned air travelers, circling the globe multiple times. Charlotte has questioned more than once during our lives together, “What is this man getting me into?”
Today, more than 57 years after our honeymoon, it may be finally dawning upon me what outlandish things I have put my city-born bride through since day-one of our marriage. At that time I was a fairly tough outdoorsman, having survived two war years in the Alaska bush and two years in the Navy. So a few days after our wedding it did not seem too extreme to me to take my bride into the high forest of Rocky Mountain National Park, settle her in a secluded cabin with almost no amenities, and lead her on a long hike. (During the hike a snow storm developed and almost trapped us miles from shelter at nightfall. We luckily spotted some park workmen and got a ride out of the woods as they were leaving their job for the day.) It was the month of May during which there are cold freezing nights at the high altitude of Rocky Mountain Park. Heating of the cabin as well as the cooking of meals was done on one and the same wood burning stove. We had heavy blankets for the bed. The deer played around and almost ran over us on the trails. Chipmonks kept lifting the lid of our garbage can and raiding it. Charlotte seemed happy. I know I was deliriously happy.
All during our stay in Colorado we were remembering that we wanted to go back to college in the fall. One day as we traveled past the campus of the University of Colorado in the beautiful town of Boulder we noticed a sign calling for advance student registration for the fall quarter. The engineering college at UC/Boulder had a good reputation. We stopped in to inquire. The newspapers were saying that the colleges of the eastern U. S. were rapidly filling up as returning war veterans were enrolling. We found that registration for the fall was still open at UC/Boulder, although we were told that student housing was already full. It only cost $5.00 to pre-register, so we did, just in case we could not get in anywhere else. At that time, we really thought we would actually find an opening somewhere “back east.”
OUR DECISION TO RETURN TO COLORADO FOR COLLEGE.
After our honeymoon we spent a few weeks back in Chicago. I quickly found a job in a factory, but we could not find housing, only a borrowed room. So we went over to the city to which my parents had just moved, Cleveland, Ohio. There I also quickly found a job in a radio repair shop. But again we could only find a borrowed room for housing. Also, the possibility of getting into college in an eastern city began to look bleak because we found them full of returning war veterans. (You see, I was a late returnee from the ranks of war veterans because I had been in the Navy only during the last two years of the four year war. Many veterans returned home long before I did.) We then had reason to be glad that we had registered at UC/Boulder in Colorado. As September 1946 drew near, we made our way back to Colorado to attend college at the University of Colorado.
Mrs. Charlotte Perry Back At old HOME, 1946.
F. M. and Charlotte in Chicago, 1946.
Back in Colorado, my Uncle Andrew Perry and his wife Blanche who lived in Denver invited us to stay at their house as we prepared to enter the University of Colorado, about 45 miles away at Boulder. We had no problem completing my registration to start my junior year in the engineering college. Charlotte was given campus privileges as my wife. Arrangements were made for the U. S. Government to accept the University tuition charges and to give me, as a married war veteran, a living allowance of $90 per month. We were all set to start student life in Boulder except that the University could not provide married student housing for us. All married student housing was already taken by student war veterans who got there before us. We would have to find our own housing somewhere within the city of Boulder. Alas, there didn't seem to be anything available there either.
I hit upon the idea of purchasing a travel trailer in which we might live. Our savings were meager. But we spent almost everything we had for the only thing we could afford, a "bare bones" trailer which measured 8 feet x 12 feet. It had absolutely nothing inside except space and that was very small. With the trailer parked in my Uncle's driveway in Denver I outfitted the interior of the trailer. I installed a double bed in the back. In the rest of the space I installed cabinets for storage, a table, a couple of cushioned chairs, an electric hot plate for cooking, and an ice box for keeping perishable food. For warmth during cold weather we had a small kerosene heater. There wasn't room for much else. We had “our home” towed to a Boulder trailer park which provided us with toilet and showering facilities. Did we think we would be able to live in such small quarters for a year or so? I wasn't at all sure. But Charlotte was willing to try it with me.
Charlotte at our first home, Boulder, Colorado, 1946.
We moved into the trailer and I started my classes at college. There was a small friendly community of other young married students living in trailer houses at the park . But all of the other trailers were much more spacious than ours. On our first Sunday living in Boulder we placed membership in the local church of Christ and inaugurated friendships with some of the townspeople. This turned out to be providentially helpful in the situation we shortly found ourselves.
OUR RESCUE FROM DIFFICULT LIFE IN TINY TRAILER HOUSE.
During the first couple of weeks in our trailer home the weather was quite warm and we did not need to fire up our kerosene heater. But when the cool fall weather arrived we lit the heater for warmth. We soon found that the heater gave off fumes which became unbearable after a few hours. I was not too disturbed. I would simply have to install another heater capable of being vented to the outside. But, until I could get this done, we were wearing our sweaters and coats, even inside the trailer. About this time someone knocked on our door. It was one of our new friends from the church of Christ, Brother Raymond Turner. He said he and his wife had been thinking of our predicament, being cooped up in such a small space. He wondered if we might like to come over to his house and look at a more spacious attic room which he had been remodeling for living quarters. We went right over, took a look, and made a deal to move into it. Everything about it was better than what we had and it was warm with no noxious fumes. We lived there for a year and the Turner family became our best friends.
There are two things that I want a reader of this journal to notice: (1) The providential care for Charlotte and I that God has exercised through circumstances and through Christian friends, and (2) the way in which my wife Charlotte has taken everything in stride and made a home for the two of us (and our children) in trying situations.
CHARLOTTE SAVED FROM DEATH FROM “TUBAL PREGNANCY.”
One evening as we were sitting at home in our little attic apartment, Charlotte began to experience severe abdominal pain, became very white, and appeared to be about to faint. I called an ambulance and Charlotte had to be taken down the steps on a stretcher and then on to the hospital. As I rode to the hospital with her, Charlotte appeared to to be passing in and out of consciousness. The emergency doctor made a quick and accurate diagnosis. Charlotte was losing blood internally due to a rupture in a fallopian tube probably due to a “tubal pregnancy.” He operated on her to repair the rupture while I and other friends gave her blood in transfusions. At that time we found that Charlotte and I have the same blood type, type “O negative.” Charlotte had come very near to dying from loss of blood. But the Lord was with us and she made a rapid recovery.
Without either of us realizing it Charlotte had become pregnant. As the fetus had begun to develop it had attached itself to the fallopian tube and had not moved down into the womb as it should have. Its growth ruptured the fallopian tube and Charlotte experienced a “spontaneous abortion.” At the same time she began to lose a large amount of blood internally, causing her to have abdominal pain and shortly to begin losing consciousness from loss of blood. We were blessed to find such an excellent doctor in the emergency room, a doctor who was able to save the life of my dear wife. We had been married for less than a year. Indeed, I felt that we were still on our honeymoon. Believe me, I became deeply impressed with the “not-to-be-trifled-with” seriousness of the marriage bond, especially with the life threatening risk that Charlotte had taken in willingly committing her life to me. My Charlotte, whom I had adored even before our marriage, now became even more precious to me.
WE GRADUATE AND HEAD EAST.
During our second and final year at the University, we were able to get a bit more spacious basement apartment in which to live. We had an enjoyable life there, not so much as students, but as part of the life of the local Church of Christ. My student life seemed more like a day to day job. Our social and religious life was among our fellow Christians of Boulder, some students, some young couples like ourselves, and some old time Colorado residents. Living within this altogether pleasant society Charlotte gave me a comfortable home life enabling me to get an Electrical Engineering degree. We had approximately 50 job offers when we graduated. We accepted the one we thought the best with the General Electric Company. It took us to New York state.
We left boulder, Colorado driving an 18 year old “Model A Ford” coupe with a large box installed in place of the rumble seat, making it resemble a small pick-up truck. Moreover we had attached behind the little car a luggage trailer in which all our belongings were packed. We had purchased the car from a Boulder friend “on the credit” on the expectation of future income from our new job with the G. E. Company. We noticed a few days before we were to depart from Boulder that the car was using an unusual amount of oil. We reasoned that it needed new piston rings. So our good friend Raymond Turner helped me install new rings in the four cylinder engine. We broke in the new rings by starting out on our trip back east.
The little car ran beautifully during the week long trip from Boulder, Colorado to Syracuse, New York. We drove with the throttle “wide open” every day. After about 30 minutes of warm up on the road each morning our rig would reach a top speed of 50 miles an hour. There was no air conditioning (except that we could adjust the windshield to let the wind blow through) and the engine was so noisy that we had to practically yell at each other to converse. But Charlotte proudly occupied the cab with me (there was no other seat). By about noon of the first day on the road the adjustment of the mechanical brakes on the car was depleted because of the unusually heavy load we were transporting. During the afternoon I had to “double-clutch” and “gear down” in order to slow down or stop. Each morning after that, before venturing on the road, I had to crawl under the car and adjust the mechanical brake on each wheel. By late afternoon each day the brake adjustment was again depleted and stopping again became difficult. As each night approached we found lodging in a tourist cabin or a tourist home.
OUR ARRIVAL IN SYRACUSE, NEW YORK.
We arrived in Syracuse on April 17, 1948 just as the trees were beginning to bud. Within a few days we found an apartment in Syracuse, got started on my job at the G. E. Company, and met the members of the local church of Christ. The church met in a little concrete block building which had just been constructed by the men of the congregation. The church building was in a community called Nedrow on the south side of Syracuse. The minister, Brother E. Lewis Case, and his wife, Peggy, became our good friends, as did all the other members (perhaps 30 in number) of the small congregation. Many of the members were young as we were with several men who were also recent war veterans. We began to feel that we could finally settle and build a life among friends in Syracuse.
During our first summer in Syracuse we became involved with an outreach of the church in the central New York State area, a Christian camp for children known as Camp Hunt. It was located near Hubbardsville, New York, about 60 miles from Syracuse. The camp had been started in 1947 by a group of local New York Christian men, George Gurganus, Lewis Case, J. J. Dart, having taken the lead. At the end of the summer I was asked to serve on the board of directors for the camp. It was a work destined to keep me busy during many spare time hours for the next sixteen years. I could not have engaged in this spare time work without Charlotte's acceptance of my involvement. She accompanied me to the camp grounds and joined in the work of maintaining the camp, even bringing along our babies when they arrived in our lives.
Our Little Car at Camp Hunt, Hubbardsville, NY, 1948.
Hugh Liddle Gives Award to Camper, 1948
Also during our first summer in Syracuse, I decided that I would try to build ourselves a house. I was encouraged in this decision by Lewis Case who was engaged in constructing a house for his family on some property he owned in the nearby town of Baldwinsville, New York. He offered to sell me a house site next to his at a very attractive price and even offered to forego collecting the payment for the site until later when I might have some money saved up. But how was I going to afford to build a house when I didn't even have money at that time to buy the lot? I reasoned that professional builders often had to borrow money from banks in order to build houses. Why couldn't I borrow money from a bank in order to build my house? I was not a professional builder. But I was a graduate engineer. And I had confidence that I could do the necessary construction work. Would a bank do business with me? I had to at least give it a try.
What must I do first? I needed a set of plans. So Charlotte and I started planning a house. It was a simple one story affair with a very open floor plan, a large combined living-dining room, two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, and utility room. I had recently seen a new building material called Cellocrete blocks. They were like concrete blocks except that they offered improved insulation value over regular concrete. Our home site was to be in “upstate” New York where the winters are very cold. So I decided this new material, Cellocrete blocks, would provide the exterior walls of our house. (We had not at this time spent a winter in the area. But I had recently lived for two years in Alaska. The prospect of cold winters did not frighten me.) I drew the plans, wrote the specifications, and got blueprints produced.
Then I went to a nearby bank, showed my plans to the loan officer, and asked for a building loan. I was politely turned down without much explanation. I went to another bank. I was politely turned down there also. It occurred to me that, had I been the loan officer at those banks, I probably would have turned down the request also. I had no money of my own to put into the building. I was without experience. I was a poor risk. I was about to decide that I would just have to postpone my building plans.
But one of my friends suggested that I should go to the local Savings and Loan Association where the requirements might not be as strict as at a bank. So I visited an officer of the Baldwinsville Savings and Loan organization, although I had about decided that there was not much hope that this organization would give me a loan either. The officer examined my blueprints, talked to me about how I planned to proceed, then asked to keep the blueprints to show others in his organization. He said he would give me an answer in a few days. Shortly thereafter I received a letter indicating the Saving and Loan Association had approved my request for a loan of $5,000! But the letter said they would disburse the loan to me a third at a time, the first installment upon my completion of one third of the house, the second installment upon completion of two thirds, and the final installment upon final completion of the house. This was somewhat encouraging. But I had no money to build the first third of the house. What was I to do now?
My attitude from the start of planning had been, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” So, if I was going to build a house (I really wasn't sure yet), I needed the materials to complete enough of the house to get a first installment on the loan. This would get the house fully enclosed with the external finished. I drew up a complete list of the materials needed for one third of the house. I delivered a copy of the list to three different building supply companies and asked each of them for a quotation on costs for the list. Then I went to the two companies that had the better prices and asked the managers how soon after delivery of materials to site would I have to make payment. They each said that payment would be expected within thirty days. I then explained that I would be working alone and would not be able to work fast enough to get a draw on my loan and make payment in thirty days. I might need as much as ninety days. I was surprised and highly gratified to get the answer that they would accommodate and work with me for up to ninety days if necessary!
But first there was much work to be done to prepare the site. In early spring of 1949 I began to dig the trenches for placement of the foundations of the house. It was recommended that the footings for the walls be five feet deep in the earth, below the level of frost during the cold, cold New York winters. So every afternoon after work and every Saturday I went to the building site and dug, manually, with a long handled shovel the rectangular shaped wall footing, five feet deep. Luckily the soil was sandy without much gravel. As I got down near the five foot depth I noticed that the soil was very wet. And soon the bottom of my trenches filled with water to a depth of several inches. I had dug below the level of the water table in the ground. I needed to pour concrete footings in the bottom of those trenches as soon as possible. Would this ruin my construction schedule by making me postpone work on the foundation until the water dried up later in the summer?
Lewis Case told me that, with the right concrete mixture, it was possible to pour the concrete for the footings right into the water. So that is what I did. I borrowed a small electric concrete mixer and ran it with an extension cord plugged into the electricity in Lewis's house nearby. The concrete was mixed one wheelbarrow full at a time and dumped into the water in the bottom of the trench. The concrete footings would be stronger than normal, I was told, because they could cure slowly in a very damp environment. The advice was good. The footings were well formed and by the time I was ready to start laying blocks for the walls of the house, the water level around the footings had lowered so that the top of the footings was visible.
Why am I telling you all these details about the house I was building, when this piece is supposed to be about my wife Charlotte? Because Charlotte put up with me for the months that I did not come home to the apartment until after dark every day. Because she always had a hot meal waiting for me when I got home. Because the house I was building was to be our home. And because during that summer of 1949 while I was building the house, we found out that one of the occupants when the house was finished was to be the baby that was developing in Charlotte's womb. The predicted date for the birth of our first child became a sort of goal for the completion of the house. So on Monday through Friday of each week I would go off to work at G. E. every morning and work there until about 5 PM. Then I would go directly to the building site and work until dusk, which in the high latitude of upper New York State did not come until almost 10 PM during the summer. Each Saturday I would work all day at the site. But each Sunday we took the day to attend worship services and rest in other activities during the afternoon.
Thus the work on the house progressed and the walls grew as I laid the cellocrete blocks one by one. I remember the first day I began to lay blocks on the footings down in the foundation trenches. I only laid about five blocks. The next day I came and surveyed them and saw that they were so uneven I knocked them all loose and started over. You see, I had never before laid a concrete block. I only had seen them being laid. I didn't think it would be too hard. Well it wasn't, but it took some practice. In a few days I became a “block layer” and was getting the walls fairly straight and plumb. I was glad that the first few blocks I laid were down in the ground on the footings, out of sight of the public after the dirt was shoveled back into the trenches.
When the block walls were up to floor level it became time to pause the work on the walls and install the concrete floor. I had never poured a concrete slab before either, only watched others do it. First I installed a network of steel reinforcing rods. Then I arranged to have ready-mixed concrete delivered to the site in two batches, the first batch on one Saturday, the next batch on the following Saturday. Because of my inexperience I decided not to try to pour and smooth the complete slab floor at one time. I was afraid it would be more than I could handle. I poured and smoothed it one half at a time. It was a good thing that I did decide to do it that way, and it was a blessing that Lewis Case saw this job approaching and came over to help me. For I found the job to be a “back-breaking” one. On the days that we poured each half of the slab, the end of the day found us on our knees above the slab making the last few smoothing motions with our trowels just as the sun went down. And then we straightened up and staggered home. The pouring of the slab floor was a success.
By July when the outside walls of the house were at head height my “kid” brother Dick (18 years old) came to Syracuse to help for a few days. At that time I was not able to take time off from my work at G. E. so he labored the several days of his visit by himself, doing whatever work I indicated to him was most urgent to get done. In the evening after my work day at G. E. I joined him on the job and, of course, took him home to visit with Charlotte and me at night. Little did we know at that time that just a year later he would be killed in an automobile accident and we would be attending his funeral in Cleveland, Ohio.
Shortly after my brother's visit I was able to take a two week vacation from my job at G. E. and concentrate on work on the house. This enabled me to complete the roof and by the middle of August the house was enclosed and I was working on the interior. With this progress we began to speculate that the house might be ready to receive us by the time our baby arrived sometime in mid-September. So we did not renew our lease on the apartment in Syracuse and began to get ready to move into the new house. We knew that it would not be fully complete by mid-September but with the amenities of electricity, plumbing, and water installed, we felt that we could be comfortable. At least I felt so, and I think Charlotte just tended to trust my optimism. It happened that this was the time that Charlotte learned that sometimes I could be overly optimistic!
On September 20 it became clear that the time for our baby's arrival was at hand and I rushed Charlotte to the hospital in Syracuse. Our son Joseph William (named for each of his grandfathers) arrived on September 22. Was the house ready? Well, electricity had been installed and we had lights and a few electrical outlets. And water had been hooked up and turned on. But there was neither yet a proper kitchen sink nor an operable flush toilet or other appliances in the bath room. As I arrived at the house with Charlotte and little Joseph, our neighbor, Lewis Case, met us. He knew the state of unreadiness of our house and insisted that Charlotte and our baby be cared for at his house until I was able to get our new house better prepared. You see, it just so happened that Lewis had taken his pregnant wife to the hospital to give birth about the same time that Charlotte was hospitalized. Their new baby, little David Case, arrived just three days after our little Joseph, while Charlotte was still in the hospital. He was bringing his wife and new baby home at that time also. He said that his home could be turned into a nursery for two recovering mothers and their new babies. Needless to say I heaved a sigh of relief for by that time I had come to realize how difficult it was going to be for Charlotte to care for our baby in our unfinished house. Lewis and his wife Peggy had already become our best friends. Their help to us at that time of need endeared them to us more than ever.
Within a few days I had made a few more improvements and we started our lives as a family in the new house. It was still far from being finished internally. But we were able to get a draw on the construction loan from the bank to carry on the work. As we look at pictures today that we took of Joseph as a baby, we notice the interior walls of the house in the background, still in a state of construction. Shortly after we moved in Charlotte's father came to see his first grandson and to spend a few days with us Later that year we had the house virtually finished and two years after Joseph was born we brought our second son Charles Richard (named for two of his uncles) home from the hospital to live. We lived in that house for more than six years.
Baldwinsville House in Summer
As I think now about those years in that house, Charlotte must have been lonesome much of the time. The house was somewhat isolated as the last house on Sixty Rod Road on the very edge of the little village of Baldwinsville. Charlotte did not have a car. Before we were married her family in Chicago had never owned a car and none of the family had ever learned to drive as that had not been necessary with the convenient mass transit system in Chicago. However, there was no convenient transit system in the village of Baldwinsville. I took the car every day to my job at the G. E. Company leaving Charlotte stranded with first one, then two babies. Of course, she was pretty busy caring for the babies. And she had a phone to summon me from work should there be an emergency.
Charlotte and Charlie
Charlotte and Boys on Maine Coast.
Joe and Dad in yard, 1950
Joe and Charlie Bid Christmas Greetings, 1952.
It so happened that there were two or three other lonesome ladies, also with babies, nearby. These ladies found each other and formed a little club, visiting with each other from day to day, enough to take the edge of lonesomeness. Saturdays found husbands home doing weekly chores. Every Sunday our entire family of four drove 20 miles one way to church services, in the morning as well as in the evening. The boys started school in Baldwinsville. When we left Joe had finished first grade and Charlie had started kindergarden.
OUR MOVE TO ALTAMONT, NEW YORK.
We reluctantly sold the house and moved to the Schenectady, New York area in 1955 as the G. E. Company transferred me to a new job there. After we moved we were seldom able to find time to return to Baldwinsville to visit. However, on a vacation many years later we drove by “our” house and even dropped in to visit the occupants. We almost drove by the house without recognizing it for it was no longer a little one story house. It had become a two story house. Yes, the first floor was still recognizable as our “cellocrete” block house, same walls, same windows, same doors. But the new occupants had added a complete second floor. I was glad that I had constructed the first floor well enough to support a second.
In the Schenectady, New York area we located a semi-rural house to rent near the Helderburg Mountain village of Altamont. Here we had some nearby neighbors with whom we made good friends. The boys rode the school bus to school in Altamont. But again I left Charlotte stranded every day as I drove our only car several miles in to work in Schenectady every day. We found a church home in the Church of Christ congregation in Schenectady. My job was now with the International Division of the G. E. Company with responsibility to assist in providing engineering services to G. E. plants abroad. The company began to groom me to make temporary trips to affiliated G. E. plants in South America. And I began a cram course in the Spanish language.
Joe and Charlie slept on top during vacation 1959.
Joe and Charlotte on Lake Champlain Ferry.
Joe and Dad on Lake Champlain Ferry.
Charlotte and I had discussed the possibility of living abroad with our children and it was with this possibility that I accepted the job transfer to the International Division in Schenectady. Charlotte had said that she was for it if it was what I wanted. But after we got started in Schenectady it appeared that we might be several years there before an opportunity for a foreign job opened up. So we decided to make preparations to build another house near our work in Schenectady. This time I would not do the work myself but we would find a professional builder to do the job.
First we found and bought a lot with a view of the nearby Helderberg Mountains. The back of the lot had a view of a nearby pond in which the boys and I had dreams of fishing. Then we found a builder and selected a set of plans for a much more elaborate house than we had left in Baldwinsville. We signed a contract with the builder. A few days later our G. E. boss at work dropped a bombshell; the entire Schenectady office of the International Division was to be moved to Manhattan Island, New York City! We would not need the house in Schenectady! I was lucky to get the builder to tear up our contract with no penalty to me. He had not had time to start the construction work yet. I advertized the lot for sale in the local newspaper and a few days later I sold it for a small profit. Instead of a house with a mountain view we began to dream about how we could live as a family in the big city of New York. As a family, that is, with three children instead of two, because Charlotte and I had agreed that we wanted one more child, and Charlotte was pregnant.
The movement of our office to New York City took many months of planning and preparation of quarters in the New Socony Mobile Building on 42nd Street in Manhattan. It became clear that there was plenty of time for our new baby to be born while we were still in the Schenectady area. This time our doctor suggested that Charlotte go for delivery of the baby to a so-called “maternity home” instead of a regular hospital. This seemed reasonable. Charlotte was in good health and there were no difficulties expected in the delivery. Our third boy, Robert Francis Perry, was born without difficulty. He was a beautiful baby in every way, weighing about seven pounds.
At the moment of birth there was no immediate hint of a problem with Robert's health. But within a few hours after his birth the doctor informed us that Robert had a problem with his heart. The extent of the problem took a few more hours to determine. By the end of Robert's first day we learned that he could not live very long for he had a malformed heart. Robert lived only a week. Charlotte and I and our boys, Joe and Charlie, with many friends from our church congregation, laid little Robert to rest in a local Schenectady cemetery. A dear lady from church, Essie Berry, came home with us to care for us after the funeral and helped us cope with the loneliness for several days. We were blessed that God gave us a week with Robert.
We discovered in our surveys of the living possibilities in the New York City area that we could not afford to live in Manhattan itself. It became a question of how far outside the city we would have to live in order to find housing which we could afford. The farther from the city the cheaper the housing, but the more expensive and the longer the commuting time would be to the downtown Manhattan office where we would work. We decided that we wanted to live on the north side of the city for the commuting from that direction by New York Central Railroad was reported to be the most comfortable and reliable. We were lucky to find a three bedroom, split level house just outside of the Westchester County city of White Plains in a community called Greenburg. We installed ourselves there in the fall of 1956.
It was a whole new lifestyle for us, living in the vicinity of the big city. It was out of the question to drive one's own car to work in New York City. The traffic was so extremely heavy the time required to make the trip was excessive. And the expense for parking one's car in Manhattan was also excessive. Daily commuting to the office was to be via the New York Central Railroad. I had to get to the White Plains railroad station every week day morning just after 7 AM in order to reach the Manhattan Grand Central Station on 42nd Street in Manhattan just after 8 AM. I drove, or Charlotte drove me in our car, 15 minutes to the train station each morning. (Charlotte had learned to drive by now. The story of her learning to drive is told below.) From Grand Central Station to my office in the Socony Mobile Building on 42nd street was about a 10 minute walk through underground tunnels and finally a ride on the elevator. In the evening after work I rushed from the office to catch the 5:19 PM train out of Grand Central station for the ride back to White Plains. Upon arriving back at the White Plains station about 6:30 PM each evening I was either picked up at the station by Charlotte or I retrieved my second car from the parking lot for the 15 minute ride home. This schedule made for full days.
For Charlotte and the boys, the daily schedule was not too different than it had been in Schenectady. The boys were able to walk to the Greenburg school just a few blocks from our house. There were other neighborhood children living around us who also walked to school. Charlotte got her license to drive the car about this time so she was able to do the grocery shopping and other necessary things requiring a car. The use of the car during week days, Monday through Friday, was fairly easy for Charlotte for traffic was light in the White Plains area. However, on Saturdays when I was home we found it undesirable to get out in the car because of the excessive traffic in our neighborhood of Westchester County. The reason for excessive traffic on Saturday was that the Monday-Friday commuters, who were in Manhattan for five days a week, were all at home on Saturdays desiring to use their cars all at once. Traffic thinned out on Sundays and we had no trouble negotiating the streets to go to worship meetings on Sunday.
We found a few friends of “like precious faith” in the local White Plains Church of Christ which was meeting on Sundays in a borrowed room at the local YMCA. As happened in every place we have lived, those who became our best friends were always our brethren in the Church of Christ, and our religious and social life was in fellowship with them.
Thus far I have skipped the saga of Charlotte's efforts over several years to get a driver's license and begin driving a car. Perhaps I should tell it now. You see, she started her driving lessons while we lived in Baldwinsville, several years before our move to Greenburg, New York. I have already mentioned that she grew up in a family that did not own a car and really did not need one while living in Chicago. Shortly after our marriage while we lived in Baldwinsville Charlotte took driving lessons from the adult division of the public schools. She did quite well and was soon driving as a student driver accompanied by another adult licensed driver. I myself sometimes accompanied Charlotte while she practiced and I can vouch that she has from the start been a good driver. However, when she took her first driving test alongside a state official she became nervous and for some unknown reason her driver's license was denied. She had the option to wait a stated period of time (a few months) and then to take the test again. The next time she applied for the driving test was when we had moved to Altamont, New York. Again, her license was denied for an unknown reason. (The testing official was not required to give a full explanation of why the license was refused. Each time a simple statement such as “dangerous action” was the only explanation given.) By the time we arrived in Greenburg (near New York City) Charlotte had taken several official tests and had “failed” them all. But she did not quit trying. She felt she was a good driver and I knew that she was. Finally, in 1956, in another test in Westchester County New York she passed a test and received her license. She became a regular driver around the White Plains area while I was away at work in Manhattan every day. She has driven ever since and, at 84 years of age, still has a valid license and still drives. However, since I have retired and we travel together almost everywhere we go, I do most of the driving today. The saga of her many driving tests over several years still provides humorous conversational material for family discussions today.
We lived in Greenburg near the big city of New York for four years. Charlotte cared for the household and the schooling of the boys while I commuted every day by train to 42nd street in Manhattan. On several occasions my work took me out of town to other G. E. plants in the U. S. and abroad. Once I visited several G. E. Company plants on the South American continent (Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil). And on two occasions I spent some time at the plants in Monterrey and Mexico City, Mexico. Charlotte and the boys were not able be with me on these travels, but on one occasion Charlotte was able to leave the boys with a neighbor and fly to Puerto Rico to meet me on my way back from South America. We had several days of vacation together traveling around the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.
In 1960 the G. E. Company management announced that the International Division would soon be closed and our engineering services group would be dissolved. This shattered our dream of one day parlaying our work into a long term assignment at a foreign plant. We were given full freedom and some assistance in locating other work within the G. E. Company in the U. S. I was lucky to almost immediately receive a job offer as an engineering manager in G. E.'s Radio Receiver Department in Utica, New York. This was, in effect, a promotion. We were overjoyed to have opportunity to move back “upstate” to an area with which we were already familiar, had many friends, and was very near to the site of the church affiliated children's camp (Camp Hunt) with which we had already been working in our spare time for several years. Our boys were now getting to the age that they could become campers there on their summer vacations from school.
OUR MOVE TO UTICA, NEW YORK.
So back to the central New York State area we moved. We found and purchased a house in a nice residential suburb of the city of Utica called New Hartford. My job was a challenge for the work was somewhat different from anything I had done before. The demands on me as a manager, especially in the very competitive area of home radio receivers, was very stressful. The plant was called to produce millions of home radios per year and the profit margin on each radio was very small. It was crucial that the plant be kept running at peak efficiency at all times. Every time anything went wrong in the factory with the radio line for which I had engineering responsibility, I was called from my office to the plant to solve the problem. As I say, it became very stressful. It was relieving to work on week ends (when the plant was closed) with the local Church of Christ which was just getting started (planning a church building) in the city of Utica. Also, it was helpful and relaxing to again be assisting with the work of running the Christian children's camp (Camp Hunt) near Utica. Again, outside of my work at G. E., our life centered around the fellowship of the church. And, as always, I was enabled to carry a busy load of work and other activities by my wife, Charlotte, who took superb care of our home and the boys. Charlotte has always been precious to me.
Missionary Max T. Neil and his family had very recently moved to .........................Utica to start a Church of Christ assembly there. The church was still meeting in his home, but plans were being made to build a church building. I, as an engineer, and having had experience in helping build church meeting houses, became active in the new church. Our family of five swelled the church membership to about 20.
I was then working at the first level of management in the vast General Electric Co. After one year in this job with the Radio Receiver Department, we were informed by senior management that the Department was to be dissolved and home radio receiver production would be transferred abroad to an affiliated company in Ireland!
(To Be Continued)
A TRIBUTE TO MY WIFE, CHARLOTTE
(The first part of this story, My Life with Charlotte, was written in 2004. There has been a pause of five years in this writing. I am continuing the writing in July of 2009. Charlotte passed away on May 23, 2007. And now in 2009 I am 88 years old, a partial invalid, and living with my daughter Sandi and her family in Nashville. I am writing mostly from memory.)
MY SEARCH FOR A NEW JOB
The year at this point in the story of our lives was 1961. Again out of a job but still on the GE payroll I was given freedom to look for other work within the G. E. Co. I visited the G. E. Department in Florida that was involved with the &1dquo;Quality Control” of the space program at Cape Canaveral. I was not impressed favorably by this job opportunity. I seriously considered leaving the G. E. Company, making a trip to Los Alamos, New Mexico to interview for a job in the Government Nuclear Laboratory there. I was offered a job there dependent on getting a “top secret” clearance. The new clearance, which I was confident I would get because I had security clearance during the war and even while working for GE, would take several months to get. I told the Laboratory to start the clearance procedure, expecting at that moment that I would move to Los Alamos when the security clearance came through.
But, while awaiting this clearance I made contact with former fellow engineers at the G. E. Light Military Electronics Department in Utica, New York near where we were already living. This resulted in the offer of a new G. E. job as a Systems Engineer. It had great potential for further advancement in the G. E. Company, and we wouldn't have to move. We could continue work with the children's camp at Camp Hunt. And our help with missionary Max T. Neil in the development of a new Church of Christ congregation in Utica could continue. I accepted the new G. E. job and notified the Los Alamos Laboratory that I was no longer available.
MY PAST EXPERIENCE AS A GE ELECTRONICS ENGINEER.
The year was 1961. I had already been working for the General Electric Company for 13 years and had worked for three different G.E. Departments. I have already written much about the life of my wife and family during these years. I have not said much about my actual work at G. E. Let me summarize my work with the G. E. Company to this point in 1961.
At first (in 1948), as an individual engineer in the Heavy Military Electronics Department, I had worked on design of a shortwave radio receiver, and a radar display console for US Navy Ships. (I had even gone on a one week cruise on a Battleship to study in action the use of our radar display console. I remember taking my wife and two boys to stay at an Atlantic Coast beach resort during the week I was at sea.)
Then, as an Engineering Team Leader, I had the privilege of leading a group in the design and construction of a new radar display unit for the U.S Navy. This early work was with the G.E. Heavy Military Electronics Department. I worked for about seven years with this department. It was during this time that my family and I lived at the little house which I constructed with my own hands (previously described) at Baldwinsville near Syracuse, New York.
Some time in 1955 I had opportunity to transfer to The International General Electric Company (IGE) to do Engineering Service work with foreign affiliated companies, primarily in Latin America. This required the movement of my family to the vicinity of Schenectady, New York. So we rented a house in the country near the village of Altamont, New York. It was here that our third son, Robert Francis, was born, but lived only one week.
At IGE my work delved into whatever electronic products that the affiliated companies were producing. Most of the Latin American companies had considerable experience producing home radio receivers, both medium wave and short wave. Some were beginning to produce home FM radio receivers and even home Television sets (since TV broadcasting was just starting up). Also, some of these factories were finding it necessary to design and produce their own components (transformers, receiving tubes, and picture tubes) for their radio and TV sets. (For instance, a company in Monterrey, Mexico was producing television picture tubes with young workers who had never seen TV sets in operation, since there was yet no TV broadcasting in Monterrey. Another little factory in Montevideo, Uruguay produced TV sets with all its components including receiving tubes.) I made short visits to factories in Argentina, Uruguay, and Mexico.
After about one year in Schenectady, New York, IGE decided to move our group of engineers to New York City, into the new Socony-Mobil Building on 42nd Street just across from Grand Central Station. Our family moved to Greenburg near White Plains, New York, and I became a daily railroad commuter to Manhattan. In Manhattan we were able to rent quarters near the Socony-Mobil building to open a small laboratory in order to design and try out some innovations for the foreign Affiliated Companies. One of our projects was to design a new multiband home radio. About this time I inaugurated and wrote a periodic Newsletter for the Affiliated Companies to keep them informed of latest electronic developments in the U. S. This periodical gained popularity even in some of the G.E. Departments in the US.
But alas, after four full years in New York City, G .E. Management decided to close down our Engineering Services Group and I was again looking for a job. It was then that I was transferred back to Utica, New York as an Engineering Manager of Home Radio design and production which I have already described above. This job lasted just one year and brings me back in this account to 1961 and a new job as an Electronics System Engineer at the Light Military Electronics Department.
MY LIFE IN UTICA AS A SYSTEMS ENGINEER.
My first work in the Light Military Department was working for Manager Sol Matt who ran a group of system engineers who looked into various development possibilities for projects and new products for the Department. Military surveillance by earth satellites was just beginning. The possibility of using radio transmissions from earth satellites as the basis for determining the location of receivers on the ground was well known. The US Military was preparing to launch the first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. Engineers were coming up with many and various ways to use the data received from the new GPS satellite systems. So I first spent considerable time studying the possibilities for GPS systems.
MY TRIP TO EUROPE.
As Systems Engineers we looked into the various projects offered for bid by the US Military. I was detailed to look into a military project for management of a missile test site on the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. It entailed a trip to Europe to learn about about the project at NATO headquarters in The Hague, and discussions with people in the Greek military establishment, since Greece owned a part of the Island of Crete and would be involved in the project. So G.E. arranged for my trip by air to The Netherlands and to Athens, Greece.
I had done considerable travel by air for G. E. around the US, to Mexico, and to countries of South America. But this would be my first trip to Europe. It lasted several days and proved to be quite an adventure. The first leg of my journey would simply be from Utica in Upstate New York to New York City's major airport which at that time, I think, was called “Idlewild” (later JFK Airport). The route for this short flight was covered with quite severe thunderstorms at the time. In fact a storm was so severe in New York City at the time of my flight that we were prevented from landing and were kept circling over Upstate New York for about four hours (most unusual for a normal flight of about an hour). When we finally landed it was at Newark, New Jersey airport, not Idlewild! So I took some type of surface transportation from Newark to Idlewild on New York's Long Island. When I finally arrived at the terminal at Idlewild many hours late, I expected that my originally planned flight to Europe had been long gone. However, when I walked up to the desk at the Idlewild terminal I was informed that the flight had not yet left!
My flight across the Atlantic was smooth and uneventful taking me to an International Airport in the Netherlands very near The Hague. It was already night in Europe when I arrived. I was quite tired because of all my travel on the flight from Utica. So I was soon asleep in a first floor room in a little hotel in The Hague. The next morning I was awakened by the sound of many “put-put” motorbikes which sounded as if they were travelling right through my room.
This trip gave me my first experience with “jet-lag.” It was fully the next following morning before I felt able to get out of the hotel to search for my destination which was the NATO office. I had gotten completely disconnected from my orientation to time of day and day of the week!
The NATO offices were in a modest building. The receptionist was expecting me and I don't remember having to show any identification. They gave me a table and chair and began to stack documents about the Missile firing test range on Crete for me to peruse. All the documents were in English. My purpose in visiting the NATO office was to find out all I could about the Missile Range on Crete. That was accomplished in one afternoon.
My next step was to make my way to Athens, Greece. After all these years the details of my journey have faded from my mind but I do remember that that my prearranged flight was to make a stop in Paris, France. When we arrived in Paris, strangely we were informed that there was something wrong with the airplane and we would have to remain in Paris overnight. There were several Americans on the flight and all were ready to stage rebellious complaints about the delay. However, a beautiful stewardess appeared and informed us that she would escort us to comfortable hotel rooms for the night. Rooms and meals would be free. I thought it might be interesting to spend a night in Paris.
The hotel was clean and comfortable but somewhat prehistoric. There was a small lobby and a small registration desk with a lot of keys hanging on the wall. The elevator went up and down in a see-through cage in the middle of the lobby. Upstairs my bathroom was not in my room but down the hall a ways. The stewardess took us a few doors down the street to a restaurant to eat. I think most of us enjoyed the novelty of the layover.
My prearranged hotel in Athens was ultra-modern and air conditioned.. This was important because it was summer and, in Athens, it was hot. I was to contact a Mr. Reginos, a G.E. Company representative in Athens. I had a list of Greek Military Generals with whom Mr. Reginos was to put me in touch. The first thing I learned in Athens was that business was not conducted during the hot hours during the middle of the day. Many shops were closed during the middle of the day to open again in the late afternoon. Most business was conducted during the early evening hours.
My first day in Athens enabled me to get acquainted with Mr. Reginos. I was in my thirties. He was probably in his fifties. He took me to a night club to dine that night. First he showed me a big glass tank with good size fish swimming around in it. It finally dawned on me that I was supposed to choose a fish which the chef would fix for me. The view of the fish didn't increase my appetite, so I declined the fish for something else on the menu. After dinner the entertainment was a young man who sang romantic songs from a reclining position. The next day Mr. Reginos took me for a good breakfast at an outdoor table on the Athens harbor dock. A feature of the eating establishment was the feeding of leftovers to the cats which roamed the docks.
Then came the week end when no one conducted business, so I went sight seeing. I took public transportation (a bus, I think) to the foot of the mountain on which stood the Acropolis and the Parthenon. This was the old, historic Athens of first century Biblical days, when the Apostle Paul visited the city. I climbed up Mars Hill. The top of it was bare, somewhat rocky ground. Did Paul deliver his great Mars Hill sermon on the open hill with the listeners just standing around? I decided that the bare hill top could not be the actual place where he spoke to some of the elite academic people of Athens. Just a few hundred feet down the side of Mars Hill was marked the actual old foundation of a building that had been called the Areopagus. This was the meeting place for the learned men and must have been the place where Paul delivered his sermon that is recorded in Acts 17. I stood on one of the foundation stones and tried to remember Paul's Mars Hill speech.
Just a few hundred yards away across a little valley stood the Acropolis (highest part of old Athens) which had been the fortified part of the old city. The major building in the Acropolis was the Parthenon (Temple to the goddess Athena). It was built in about the year 438 BC and had stood intact until the 15th century. It had been used in intervening years by the Christians as a church and then by the Turks as a mosque. In the 15th century, in a battle between the Greeks and the Turks, It was shelled and turned into the ruined condition that it is today. As I gazed on the Parthenon and the stones around it (2400 years old) I noticed a small sapling tree rooted and growing beside it on the otherwise barren hill. God has created real life where false religion once tried to thrive.
The Ancient Parthenon Atop The Acropolis, 1962.
Down on the flat land below the Acropolis stand the ruins of the market place of old Athens. It was here where stood the inscription that Paul quoted: “To An Unknown God.” Paul introduced the Athenians to the Almighty God.
The next day I began to fear that I would never get to speak with the Greek Generals whom I had come to see. So I began to call them myself and spoke with each of them or their representatives. Later that day Mr. Reginos took me by their offices to see them. He was surprised to learn that I had already spoken to them. That wrapped up my business in Athens so I took the airplane back to Paris where I had an appointment to speak with another G. E. Employee who lived there.
When I arrived back in Paris, the G.E. man (I can't remember his name) came in his car with his family to pick me up at my hotel (just off the famous avenue Chants de Elysees and in sight of the Eiffel Tower) to take me to dinner and then sightseeing. I can't remember the details of the work I accomplished in Europe. But I have a strong remembrance of the kindnesses that were shown to me while there. From Paris I flew back home across the Atlantic.
I was commended for the report that I wrote concerning the possibility for G.E. to make a bid on the management of the Missile Range in Crete. As a result, G.E. decided not to bid on the project.
I TAKE ON A PACIFIC ISLAND PROJECT.
At that time the US Military was launching numerous spy satellites taking photos of military installations over such countries as Russia. The scheme for retrieving the photos from the satellites was to catch the satellites in mid air upon reentry by means of big nets hung between military planes, or, failing that to fish them out of the Ocean when they finally parachuted down. This scheme required communication to the planes that a satellite was reentering earth's atmosphere at a certain Pacific location. The planes were instructed to stand by at certain times and certain locations where the satellites were to be brought down. A ground station was to be established on Johnston Island in the Pacific to direct the satellite retrieval operation. The spy satellites were to be brought down near Johnston Island. The General Electric Company was given a contract to establish the base on Johnston Island from which the operation could be directed. Our Department of GE was given the job of providing the design and installation of the communication equipment to be used at the Johnston Island base. There would be ground to airplane communication to be supplied by short wave radio. And there was to be wire communication on the ground between and among the desks of the military team that would be directing the operation. We were also to supply the desk consoles for the Director's team. Tape recording records were to be kept of all operations. I was assigned the job of forming an engineering team and managing our Department's part of the GE contract.
Everything we did was on a rush, rush basis for we were fighting a Cold War with Russia which could have turned to a hot war. There was no time to design special equipment, so we chose catalog items that we could put together. Our shop put together available console desks and we ordered 10,000 watt Shortwave transmitters and a vertical all directional antenna to be shipped to Johnston Island. They were probably flown from Hawaii to Johnston Island (several hundred miles) by Military C-130 Aircraft. The schedule called for getting all the hardware available for military aircraft shipping from Hawaii and then to get the engineering personnel there to assemble it, all in as short time as possible.
Actually our team was ready before the military could provide transportation for us. Some of the engineers flew on out to Hawaii and were delayed there “on the beach” with nothing to do for two or three weeks. I decided to take my vacation at that time while we were waiting for the team transportation. In fact, Charlotte and I decided that the entire family might as well go to Hawaii and wait there for me to complete my work on Johnston Island. It would be expensive but would be a good adventure for them. So we proceeded by our private car to San Francisco with a vacation stopover at Grand Canyon. In San Francisco we put our car in storage and proceeded to Honolulu by airline.
We had some friends in Honolulu whom we had known in New York in the Church of Christ. We telephoned them and told them we were coming. They welcomed us at the Honolulu airport with flower garlands (leis) to put around our necks. We found an apartment for the family only a few blocks from the beach at Waikikee. A few days later I received my military orders to proceed by C-130 to Johnson Island.
Charlotte was successful in enrolling the boys (Joe and Charlie) in a nearby school. Some of the members of the Honolulu Church of Christ were greatly helpful in looking after Charlotte and the boys. They picked them up for all the church services, saw that they got everything they needed at the store, and saw that they had an interesting life for the approximately six weeks they were there.
When I finally got out to board my C-130 flight, I met the three man crew at the door to the plane. (I was the only passenger on an otherwise empty plane. The pilot indicated that he should say a few things to me about safety in case the plane had to ditch at sea. Our flight was to go several hundred miles over the Pacific. I was to ride alone in the cavernous cargo compartment. The 3 man crew was to ride in the pilot and navigators compartment which was slightly above and in front of the cargo compartment. In case of ditching in the water, the cargo compartment would be the first to fill with water, I was told. I should waste no time in getting to the front door which would be the same door through which the crew would be exiting from a slightly higher part of the plane. He showed me where the life jackets were stored and where I should sit with a seat belt during the flight. There was a window near my seat, I think, for I could look out at the scenery as we flew. Then he left me alone while he went to his pilot's controls. The cargo compartment made up the major portion of the body of the plane. There were many seats around the walls of the compartment, places in the center to tie down vehicles which could be loaded through a very large rear door, and room to tie down cargo. But on this flight I was the only cargo. Did I think they were making this flight just for me? No. I was sure that my island was just a stop on another longer flight.
Johnston Island was a part of an atoll (mountain top sticking up above the surface of the ocean). It was 717 miles W.S.W. of Honolulu,.about one thousand yards long and only two hundred yards wide. It is on average only about 12 feet high (44 feet high at highest point) above the ocean. It had an aircraft runway running west to east length ways of the island. It used every foot of the islands length enabling military C-130 aircraft and most civilian airliners of that time to land. A previous military project had built several apartment houses on the island on one side and near the eastern end of the runway. So families had at one time lived on the island (probably during World War II.) These buildings were still usable and provided our housing while we were there. On the eastern end of the island was a maintenance facility for the planes (at times engines had to be changed on the aircraft during their stop at Johnston). In order for the aircraft to taxi to the maintenance facility the pilot had to slowly make the wing tips of the planes interlace through the small spaces between the apartment buildings.
My crew of three or four engineers had gotten to Johnston Island a day or two ahead of me. It had been necessary for them to clean up vacant rooms and bath facilities for themselves in the long vacant apartment houses.. They had cleaned up facilities for me also, for which I was grateful. There were only a few hundred or so military people on the island, a dining hall where everyone's meals were furnished, a PX (post exchange) where a few personal items could be purchased, and a tavern open at night where drinks could be purchased and consumed.
Most of the six weeks or so we spent at Johnston were expended on assembly and test of four shortwave transmitters. The 12 or so individual control consoles to be used by directors conducting the capture process of the incoming photography satellites also were all installed in a single big control room in an operational building. A first test of the entire ground system ( I don't think an actual satellite was captured during this test) was conducted just before our team left the island. It proved our system to be satisfactory in supplying radio communication but came up short in satisfying the needs of the wired communication between consoles in the control room, the simplest of the problems that should have been solved in the initial design. Sensitive wire carrying very low level audio microphone signals were wired into the same wire bundles that carried the very high level audio signals to the loud speakers. Of course, there was capacitive pick up on the low level sensitive wires of the signals on the high level speaker wires. So there was some confusion in the use of this system for which I had responsibility. (On this rush, rush job I had assumed that the factory engineers had gotten the wiring of the consoles right.) The consoles needed to be rewired.
Our crew already had air travel vouchers to return to Utica New York for the Christmas season which was soon approaching. So we all left Johnston Island by C-130 to return to Honolulu and domestic airlines back to New York. Of course, I had to gather my family from their very satisfactory abode in Honolulu. We made the most of it, continuing our vacation by saying goodbye to our friends in the Honolulu church of Christ, flying to San Francisco to pick up our car, and continuing to visit friends and relatives on our driving route back to New York.
With Christmas behind us and back at work at the office in Utica, I made plans to make a return trip to Johnston Island to try to remedy the problem in the consoles we had supplied for the control room. I was embarrassed to ask anyone else to do the job for I considered the problem my fault for poor management. So I spent another period of weeks alone, traveling back to Johnston Island to work on the console wiring. I think I was able to improve the problem but did not altogether solve it for I did not have the decoupling components which I found were needed. During this time the military was not trying to use the Johnston Island facility yet. If they were recapturing the photography satellites it was probably from the water after they had splashed down, or from netting them in the air by visual sight as they floated down on their parachutes after reentry. The operations were highly secret. I do not know whether our control room ever got any use.
We were given commendation for our overall quick response in getting installation in far away Johnston Island and were urged to continue our Operational Systems Group of engineers to try to get other similar jobs for our GE Department. We developed a brochure to advertise our capabilities. But with no further work seeming to be available I was asked to work with a group which was providing the aircraft borne radar which our department had developed for the Air Force Fighter Plane, the F-111.
This radar completely occupied the interior of the nose cone of the F-111 which was a super-sonic aircraft. The radar beam had to transmit through the nose cone material so our GE contract had responsibility for supplying the nosecone as well as the radar. The radar and nosecone had to be matched so that no directional deviation of the radar beam occurred as the beam passed through the nosecone material. Also the nosecone material had to have the capability to pass through thunderstorms at super-sonic speeds without being destroyed by the impact of raindrops or hail. A plastic nosecone was designed using a plastic which would hold up until the pilot had time to slow the aircraft. No plastic was found that would stand up continuously to super-sonic pounding by hail. The plastic nosecone was sub-contracted by G.E. to a small plastics company in southwestern Virginia so, I became used to visiting that company in the little town of Radford, Virginia. The nosecone was not only manufactured there but the radar penetration of the nosecone was also tested and measured there on a special radar site.
I remember well at this time the date of November 22, 1963 for it was the date that President John F. Kennedy was assasinated. I remember the day that I was working in my Utica office on the F-111 when the news arrived of the President's death.
I was somewehat discouraged with my job on the F-111 because there didn't seem to be any other work for me as a manager in the Light Military Electronic Department of G.E. The desired work for an Operational Systems Engineering Group, such as the installation job at Johnston Island, didn't seem to be a good fit for the GE Light Military Department. Most of the Department's work was radar sets for military aircraft. I was beginning to wonder if there might be more suitable work for me elsewhere. In spare time working with Max T. Neel in planting a church of Christ in the city of Utica, and in continuing my workwith the Chrildren's Camp (Camp Hunt) which we had started 13 years before, seemed more necessary work and more to my liking than my engineering job. I was 40 years old at the time.
AN ADDITION TO THE PERRY FAMILY
But the Perry family had already taken on new life in the Fall of 1961. Little 17 month old Sandra Lynn Johnson had come to live with us! How did it happen? One evening a telephone call came from the minister (Russel Gleaves, Sr.) of the church of Christ in Schenectady, New York, a church at which the family had formerly been members. (Russel Gleaves had made the funeral arrangememnts for our dead baby son Robert Francis and had presided at the funeral service previously described above). He told us the story of a mother, deserted by her husand, with three children, a son of 3 or 4 years, a daughter of 17 months, and another baby daughter of only 3 or 4 months. The mother was mentally impaired and could not care for the children. After trying to care for them after her husband's desertion, she had decided, for their own benefit, to give them up for adoption. Two of the children had already been chosen for adoption by families in the church. Only one, the 17 month old daughter, remained to be adopted. Would we, the Perry family like to adopt her as our daughter, was asked by Brother Gleaves? None of the children had left the mother's custody yet.
We said we would like to think it over. Mr. Gleaves informed us it was urgent to decide quickly because the children were not being properly cared for even at the time. He was looking in on them daily and some families of the church were trying to help care for them temporarily.
Charlotte and I began immediately to think about it and discuss it. We had not ever before considered such an action. We had never seen the child. We knew she was of the white race and 17 months old. So what? God loves her. We would too. We already beginning to love her. We knew that love would grow when we actually had her living in our house, receiving our care. We called Russell Gleaves the next morning and asked how we could get her home with us to live. Russell said he would deliver her to us. From that moment I had a daughter. I began to feel pangs of responsibility. Where was she now? What was she doing now? Was she safe?
Russell called us later and said that he went to pick her up and could not find her. Her mother had taken her three children out to someone else's house in a stroller. He said he would bring her as soon as possible. The adoptive parents of the other two children were also ready to receive them. I began to feel the kind of pangs that I would have had if one of my sons was missing. I thought: this is not right. I have a daughter and I don't even know where she is! There was nothing to do in Utica, New York except to wait until Russell Gleaves found her in Schenectady and brought her to us.
Finally Russell and Melissa, his wife, pulled up in our driveway. Little Sandra was with them. Charlotte and I saw her for the first time. We thought she was beautiful. She had on a blue overcoat with matching cap. The little coat was a perfect fit. She had only a few other clothes. I think Sandra knew she was being considered for adoption, but she was not sure that this was the end of the search, that this was going to be her home. For when the Gleaves got ready to leave, she started getting back into her coat to leave with them. When she was informed that Charlotte and I were her new mother and father, she willingly shed the coat and began to size us up. As far as I can remember she called us Mommie and Daddy from that moment forward. I don't remember her immediate reaction toward our sons, Joe and Charlie. I know I thanked God for this was like a miracle actually happening. (It may be my old age fantasy as I tell the story now, but I think Sandra was relieved that she had a new Mommie and Daddy and really began to settle in with us that very evening.) We called her Sandy as I think everyone else had been for some time.
We must soon have gotten a few toys for Sandy to play with. But I remember nothing intriqued her like the pots and pans in the cabinets in Charlotte's kitchen. If given her choice, that's what she played with, at least, at first. When Christmas soon came and we put up a Christmas tree, she was intriqued by the tree decorations and wanted to help decorate the tree. When the snow came, I got her out on some small skiis. But she was not impressed with skiing as fun. The skiis strapped to her feet just made it hard for her to get around so she rejected them. We got her a tricycle she could ride in the house and she enjoyed that. She really wanted to examine the toys Charlie got for Christmas, but Charlie didn't want her to touch his things. Joe, being older than Charlie, was not so possessive and let Sandy examine his things.
Sandra Lynn (Johnson) Perry, Our New Daughter, 1962.
There were many children in our neighborhood and our boys were acquainted with them. They sometimes played in our yard. When Sandy saw them, she wanted to go out and play with them. We thought it would be O.K. for her to be in our yard with them, but she should not leave our yard. We would watch her. So we let her go out and play with the older children. Suddenly we looked out and all the children were gone. Sandy was not in sight. Obviously the group of children had gone elsewhere and Sandy had followed them. I immediately began a search in the neighboring yards. None of the children were in sight. So I got in the car to search the farther reaches of the neighborhood. On a neighboring street I saw a couple of children, a little boy of 5 or 6, holding the hand of a little girl of Sandy's size, walking down the side of the street. It was Sandy. She was pointing down the street and the boy was leading her by the hand in the direction she was pointing (away from our house). I pulled the car up beside them and opened the door. Sandy looked up at me and then said to the boy, “My Daddy.” She got in the car with me and I thanked the boy for taking care of Sandy.
Charlotte and I could not become the official parents of Sandy until we had permission from a court of the State of New York. Both of Sandy's birth parents were alive and living elsewhere in the US. The State of New York would have to investigate her parents situation and observe Sandy in our custody for up to one year before they would O.K. the adoption. We obtained the services of a lawyer to make sure we complied with the requirements of the State. First we had to have written permission of both birth parents in order to complete the adoption. We already had the written permission of the birth mother, Barbara Johnson. The birth father, Delmar Johnson, was no where to be found at the time. Mr. Gleaves, the minister who was assisting the disabled mother, had at one time spoken to the birth father by telephone and the birth father had told him that he would give the necessary permission. But then the birth father dissappeared. Our lawyer informed us that we had only to place an Ad in the newspaper at the birth father's last known address, wait a specified time for an answer, and if no answer, the court would probably grant the adoption. We complied with all these requirements. The court had already sent child welfare officers to investigate and O. K.the conditions of Sandy's custody with us. We complied with the State requirements.
Then one morning I heard the phone ring. Little Sandy, then about 2 years old, answered the phone before I could get to it. (Sandy was like that, always ready to take charge.) She spoke with someone for a few moments, then signaled that the phone was for me, and rushed out the door to some important play appointment. I answered to find myself talking to Delmar Johnson, Sandy's birth father. It seems he had recently remarried and his new wife had insisted that he regain custody of his three children. She was worried about the children having the proper Christian atmosphere in their home. He wanted me to place little Sandy into the custody of an airline Stewardess and send her on an airplane to him in some city like St. Louis (I've forgotten the city.) I assured him I wouild not do that. Then I explained to him the Christian environment in which our family lived. (I thought to myself: this man abandoned his wife and three children and now, years later, he wants me to sent one of them to him by air. His former wife, though disabled, had exercised the foresight to get the children properly cared for. I thought it entirely out of the question that I send Sandy to him.) On the phone he hemmed and hawed a bit and I concluded that I would probably never hear from him again. But we did have his phone number. Russell Gleaves contacted him again to get his written permission for our adoption of Sandy. He refused. Our lawyer told us to “sit tight.” We had Sandy legally at the request of the birth mother.
WE LEAVE GE FOR A US FOREIGN SERVICE JOB.
The year was 1963. I had now been with GE for more than 15 years and had a vested right to a pension when I reached age 65. I preferred staying with GE if I could find a suitable job which wanted my qualifications. I had long term job possibilities working on the F-111 Fighter plane radar. But I was not satisfied with the job. So I was on the look out for other job possibilities. That's when I saw an advertisement in a newspaper for electronic engineers to come to work for the Office of Public Safety at the US Department of State. The job was to be with the Agency for International Development advising foreign police departments in development of public safety (police) communication. I called the Office of Public Safety in Washington, DC to seek an interview to find out more about the job.
The only person present to talk to me was a stenographer who knew practically nothing about the technical requirements of the job, but knew all about the regulations concerning the sending of employees abroad on government jobs. She told me this job was for two year tours with one's family in countries like Bolivia (one country presently open). One's family household effects and car would be shipped free of charge to the employee's country. At the midterm of the assignment the family would be given R & R (Rest and Recooperation) at a desired location (at home in the States if desired). Extra funds in the foreign currency would be paid to the families to take care of extra expenses living in the foreign country. The children would be sent to private American type schools, etc. etc. It all sounded very good, but what was the job I'd be expected to do? She said I'd have to come in and talk to an engineer about that. I made an appointment to interview in Washington.
At the Department of State for the interview, I found no one set up to talk to me. (I had worked for the US Government before World War II and found this to be par for the government course. I had worked for President Roosevelt's National Youth Administration and later for the Adjutant General's Office in the War Department.) I was received warmly by the Office of Public Safety and introduced to an engineer or two who had worked abroad on the kind of assignment I might have. All assignments were with Third World Countries which had requested US assistance in development of Public Safety (Police) Departments. Communication assistance was but one area of work. Teams of US professional police officers were assembled to send to these countries. (It was similar to the assistance that our Army gives to train foreign armies.)
If I was to come to work at that time I might be sent to Bolivia which was just starting a Public Safety Assistance Project. I began to understand that professional people were needed who could go to underdeveloped countries and design their own jobs to suit the needs of the country. I would be the electronics communication engineer who would join the team of police professionals to develop, for instance, the two way radio system used to direct patrol car operations, getting the correct equipment, setting up maintenance facilities, training radio technicians, and training police officers to correctly use the equipment. Our work in general was to introduce more humane police assistance to the general public, for the police departments in some of the underdeveloped countries were very inhumane in their dealings with the general public.
I came back later to talk to the Director who did the hiring, saying that I was ready to accept a job if offered. Charlotte and I had thought about foreign living for many years and she was ready to go if it was what I wanted. Our children seemed ready for adventure, including little Sandy. Several possible new hires were present that day in Washington. We were all ushered into the office of the Director of Public Safety for the Agency for International Development, Mr. Byron Engle. Mr. Engle lined several of us up before his desk and asked each one of us separately why we wanted to come to work for the Office of Public Safety. When it became my turn I blurted out something about how I wanted a job that seemed to count for something in making the world better. After my little spiel Mr. Engle nodded to someone standing in the back of the room, and I had the job. (I thought at the time, “this is a director who manages by the seat of his pants.”)
The possibility of us going to Bolivia got us to studying up on Bolivia. I had already been taking cram courses in Spanish on my job with G.E. We began to brush up on Spanish. La Paz, where we might live, was over 12,000 feet in altitude. (We had encountered that altitude in Colorado in the States. We knew it would take some getting used to.) But we tendered our resignation to G.E. and got ready to give up our house in Utica, New York. We planned to put the bulk of our household effects into commercial storage. The boys gave away their train set and several other valuable things. I put my home made boat and trailer into storage in someone's barn. I tried to sell my antique Model A Ford car. I left it with an auto mechanic who said he wanted it and would send me $250 later. We packed up every thing we thought we would take abroad, and took it with us to a temporary apartment we rented in Alexandria, Virginia. We decided to move there to work in the Washington, DC office until we went abroad. As we got ready to move, we were informed that our first foreign assignment would not be in Bolivia, after all, but in Pakistan on the Indian sub-continent.
The announcement that our foreign destination would be Pakistan instead of Bolivia gave us a sense of relief for we had worried that the high altitude in Bolivia might be too much for us. We got moved to our new apartment in Arlington, Virginia, and I got started reporting daily to the Washington, DC office in the State Department building. This became a start of what would turn into almost a life time affair with the city of Washington, DC. I had lived there on two occasions as a baby with my parents. Of course I did not remember those occasions. But I was told that we had lived in the 1920s in a residential area in the Southwest Quadrant of the District near the Smithsonian Institute buildings. There is no residential area in that quadrant any longer, that space now being taken up by government buildings. Then, just before World War II when I worked at the War Department's Munitions Building which was located on what is now part of the open Mall area, my residence was first in the Southeast Quadrant, and later at a location in the Northeast Quadrant. Still later I had lived in at least two locations in the Northwest Quadrant. (I moved around a lot during my pre-war tour in Washington, DC.) Now, in 1963 I was to live temporarily across the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA jut outside the area that had been originally laid out as part of Washington, DC. (Still later I will write about what will turn into a 20 year hitch with the government, when we lived either abroad or in Northern Virginia.)
But now as we lived temporarily in Alexandria we attended church at the Falls Church Virginia congregation of the Church of Christ. It so happened that the first Sunday we attended that congregation, it had a new minister, Mr. Jack Meyer, the minister who had baptized me as a boy of 15 in Birmingham's Lomb Boulevard congregation. Brother Meyer lovingly took note of me from the pulpit that day. He mentioned that he baptized me into Christ as a boy, and that although I was now a “big shot” in the government, I would always only be a boy of 15 to him. I was definitely not a “big shot” but it was a reminder of something of which I was aware, that I had been much blessed through the providence and grace of my Lord. (My desire to live abroad in foreign countries had always been motivated by my desire to take my Christianity abroad to teach others about Christ. Our assignment as a family to Pakistan, an Islamic country, made me think deeply about the possibility that the Lord had “arranged” it as a purpose for our lives.)
In arranging our passports and airplane tickets at the State Department to travel abroad with my entire family, I ran into a difficulty. I was told that the government could not pay for our daughter, Sandra Lynn Johnson, because our adoption was not yet final. The legal papers we had from Sandra's birth mother stated that Sandra could not be taken out of the United States. I made it clear at the State Department that my trip and assignment to Pakistan was off if I could not take Sandra along as my child. We had legal papers that indicated that the adoption was in progress. The State Department compromised by requiring only that we get another paper from Sandra's birth mother that would allow us to take Sandra out of the US. Otherwise, I would have to pay all of Sandra's travel expenses. She could not yet be counted part of my family. So we got busy trying to find Sandy's mother, Barbara Johnson. We did not know where she was. We are thankful that our friend, Brother Robert (Bob) Scott, was a minister in Albany at that time and he was able to locate Barbara Johnson and get her signature on the proper legal paper. Sandra was counted as a part of our family, but her passport read Sandra Lynn Johnson, not Sandra Lynn Perry.
On October 29, 1964 our family pulled all our bags together and left Washington, DC for New York by train. We made our way to the Skyway Hotel on Long Island near the Idlewild airport planning to leave the next day on a Pan American Airways flight to Europe (our first stop on a flight to Pakistan). That night at the Skyway Hotel we again weighed our baggage and found that we were some 30 pounds overweight according to the baggage limitations we had been given when we got our tickets. Not wanting to be held up by overweight baggage just as we were boarding the plane, I decided we must immediately make some adjustments (take some things out of the baggage). We went through each bag and removed the articles of clothing we thought we could do without. When finished we had a box with 32 pounds of clothing to be shipped to storage in Washington, DC. I had it all labeled for shipment by Railway Express to be picked up the next day. We learned later the box was never picked up from the Skyway Hotel. We retrieved it from the attic of the Hotel more than two years later when we returned to live in the U.S.
Our Pan Am flight across the Atlantic to London was smooth. We did not leave the plane at London, but continued on with the flight to Frankfort, Germany. There we were met by my sister, Isabella Seeley, her husband Floyd and their three sons Steve, Mike, and Chuck. They drove us about an hour's drive to Kaiserslatern, Germany where they lived. We had several days of visiting and sightseeing with Isabella before we had to proceed on our flight to Pakistan.
In Pakistan, our Pan Am flight landed in the seaport city of Karachi where we had to change flights to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for the final leg to our future home in Lahore, Pakistan. In Karachi we were met and assisted through Customs by two of our fellow American Public Safety Officers (Mr. Molfetto and Mr. Nesbit). They arranged for us to be rushed through Customs at the head of the line. In Lahore on 5 November, 1964 we were met by Mr. And Mrs. Joe Corr. Joe, a former military officer, was to be my direct supervisor. They escorted us to our house, which had already been prepared for us.
(I found an old letter that Charlotte had written to her brother Bob about 3 months after we arrived in Lahore. The letter, copied below, gives a good impression of our family's arrival in Lahore.)
“Dear Bob, February 2, 1965.
“In two more days we will have been in Lahore, Pakistan for three months. Our car arrived a few days ago. We sure were glad to see it. The gas tank cap was missing and someone had cut out parts of the three rear seat belts. I have been scared to death to try to drive it. It is so different in comparison to that nice automatic transmission Dodge with the power steering.
“Well this morning I was lying in bed thinking about it. I prayed for courage to take it out on the road. Then at nine when the traffic had slowed down I did. I drove to the Embassy Commisary to buy some groceries.
“You know driving here is much more difficult. There are hundreds of bicycles, motor scooters, horse carts, also bullards pulling big loads of hay, wood, etc. Course there are also lots of cars. All the driving is on the left side and most cars have righthand drive. So there is much to get adjusted to.
“One week after we got home after seeing you in Chicago we were on our way to Washington, DC. We rented a small hotel apartment for six weeks in Alexandria Virginia just outside of DC. I didn't even try to drive there. So Sandy and I were kind of tied down except for walking and taking buses.
“We left for N. Y. C. October 31st. Next day we took off on Pan American Airlines. It was a sad feeling to see that statue in the harbor for the last time. First stop was in London at about 11 PM. Next was Frankfurt, Germany about 1:30 AM. F.M.'s sister Isabella and her husband met us there and we went through Customs. Then drove about an hour to Kaiserslatern where they live. She drove a VW and he drove a Chrysler. We needed both cars for all of us and the baggage. Stayed there for a few days. The boys got to know their cousins better.
“We arrived in Lahore on the 5th of November. Was met by F. M.'s associate and his wife, Mr. And Mrs. Joe Corr. They drove us out to this huge house that we were shocked to see. The size overwhelmed us. They had already hired one servant for us on our approval. The house was newly painted inside and furnished except for rugs. They were added later. We are very happy with it all. We are really livng like wealthy people in the States.
“Ashgar our 'cook-bearer' is the head servant. Then there is Rafan the 'hamal' who does the mopping, general cleaning and helps the cook in the kitchen and with the serving. Boy, that took some getting used to! Sure is nice not having to wash dishes, clean house, etc. But sometimes I would give anything to be back at our old house in Utica. We have a huge garden and compound surrounded by a wall. There are two gates, one on either end of the drive. The drive comes right around in front of the house so you can step right out the door and get in the car, Just like the Ritz or the White House (just joking). Sure wish you could visit us here. This is really an experience. I sure wish we had a television. They have just started TV in Pakistan. And of course most of it is in the Urdu language.
“I am very ashamed of not writing before now. I am going to write to Chick Chick also. If you should have any occasion where you wanted someone to contact Chick you could call or write to Cato Shearer, preacher of the Church of Christ in Utica. They have written about having a nice visit with Chick. Cato Shearer, 142 E. Park Road, Utica, New York, telephone RA 4-7327, or, Mr. And Mrs. Robt. Harvey, 8 Cottage Place, Utica, New York. The Harveys live just one block from where Chick lives at 414 Aiken SE.
“Well guess I will be 47 before I get back to the States. Drop us a few lines if you have the urge or desire. Oh, by the way, Sandy has an 'Ayah.' That is a nursemaid. Most young children do. She keeps her clean, washes her clothes, tidies her room, and takes her out to play. I am really enjoying that. She leaves at lunch time and comes back at three. Then goes at 5:30 or 6:00. Sandy and I have lunch and visit for three hours.
“There is also a full time yard man who is called a 'Mali.' He keeps a good size vegetable garden. Lately we have been eating cauliflower. It is really delicious.
“We must sign off now. All our love. Charlotte and F. M.”
Our House in Gulburg, Lahore (Sandy at Wall).
Ashgar, our cook, with his children
Incidentally, the association of Sandy and the 'Ayah' did not last but a few days. Sandy hid from the 'Ayah' and did more directing of the 'Ayah' than the 'Ayah' did directing and taking care of Sandy. The 'Ayah' was more used to taking care of babies, and Sandy was not a baby, at least not in Sandy's opinion. They didn't get on well together. Ashgar, our cook, had his family, including 4 children, living in our servant's quarters. He suggested we didn't need an 'Ayah' and that he would look after Sandy. (He did a good job.) Sandy and his small children had great times playing together. Of course, Ashgar's children spoke only Punjabi and Sandy spoke only English. So instead of trying to learn their language, Sandy sat them down on the front steps and started trying to teach them English. But Sandy picked up a lot of the Punjabi language anyway. I don't think Ashgar's children learned much English.
Charlie and Charlotte in our backyard, Gulberg, Lahore, Pakistan
Joe and Charlie were enrolled in the American School in Lahore. A bus picked them up and brought them home every day. The school accepted children of all nationalities, but taught on the American plan. So our boys made some Pakistani friends as well as American. Charlie was in the 7th grade (1965) and Joe was in grade 10 (or a sophomore in high school). Later during our second year in Lahore Sandy went to Kindergarten at a school called Betty Goss School.
On our first Sunday in Lahore we located a congregation of a church of Christ (which happened to be relatively close to our house). We had already been in touch with Gordon Hogan, the American missionary who had “started” the congregation. But we didn't find the Gordon Hogan family there. They had just left a few days before for a one year furlough to their supporting congregation in the US. So we didn't meet the Hogans until they returned a year later. But we did meet the American and Pakistani members of the congregation. The Pakistani Minister of the congregation was Gulam Masih (meaning "Slave of Christ"). His family (inluding a large number of children) became our special friends. In fact, we became close friends with all of the members, both Pakistani and American, perhaps 40 or so people in all. The American members were those who had been sent to Lahore for their job assignments with the US government or American companies. The Pakistani members were all members of the local community. Some of them spoke English and some spoke only the local language which was Punjabi. So Brother Masih conducted the worhip service in both English and Punjabi. (The singing was all in Punjabi.)
One of my first needs was some kind of transportation. My car had been shipped from America but would be at least two or three months in transit. The USAID (United States Agency for International Development) office sent a car to pick me up every morning for work and took care of all my official transportaton. But we needed some kind of local unofficial transportation. I decided to get a bicycle for myself, family, and servant occasional use. I spoke to the Masih family about buying a bicycle. They told me that Americans would be greatly overcharged for a bicycle. But, if I would trust the oldest Masih son (who was married and held a job in the neighborhood) he could purchase a bicycle for us at a reasonable price. So I commissioned him to purchase the bicycle. It was a very good shiny black adult bicycle which served us well during our two year life in Pakistan. I used it to ride to church and around the neighborhood. Joe rode it a lot, even entering a neighborhood bicycle race. Bicycling was a favorite sport of Pakistani young people.
A QUICK RETURN TRIP TO WASHINGTON, DC
One of the reasons I was hired by USAID and sent to Pakistan at that particular time was so that a telecommunication advisor might be there during a time of installation of new telecommunication equipment in several different divisions of Pakistani National Police (West Pakistan Police, West Pakistan Rangers, Frontier Constabuary, Intelligence Police, East Pakistan Police, and East Pakistan Rifles – these were the names of the different divisions with which I worked). A great quantity of new transmitter/receiver equipment had been ordered from U. S. Companies and was supposed to have been delivered in Pakistan about the time I arrived. But it had not arrived in Pakistan even several months after I and my family arrived there. Questions to Washington concerning the delay in delivery were not being satisfactorily answered. So Mr. Corr decided to send me on a quick trip to Washington to see if I could figure out and correct the difficulty.
To me at that time flying over the Middle East and Europe was still novel and informative, so I was not adverse to making the trip. I was somewhat concerned about leaving Charlotte and the Kids alone there. (I did not know yet what I might actually do in Washington, but such a problem concerning delivery of equipment was not foreign to my former background at G.E.) As we flew on the way I remember I was able to identify certain features of the Middle East because of my study of the Bible. For instance, I recognized the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers when we crossed them. We landed at Baghdad for about an hour and I de.cided to get out and walk around the airport terminal. My country was not at war with Iraq, but I still had a queasy feelings that I was being watched as I walked around the terminal. It was a rather small non-descript terminal building at that time.
I arrived in New York and flew on to Upstate New York to my home town of Utica, spending the night with Jim and Ruby Harris, I think. They had to get up and go to work early the next morning but I slept in. When I got up about 9 AM and went outside I first noticed that no one was in sight in the yards or on the street, even though the neighborhood was full of houses. It was then that I was impressed by one of the big differences between Lahore, Pakistan and cities of the United States. Lahore (and even the whole country of Pakistan) is so highly populated you always see people and have to take care in your car to keep from running over them. In Utica, New York the few people at home at 9 in the morning are in their houses and no one is in sight. So, coming directly from Lahore to Utica, I thought, “Where are all the people?”
Finally back in the Washington Office, I started asking about the Pakistani purchase orders of telecom equipment. Most of the regular staff knew nothing about the subject. I finally learned that a young telecom engineer, Paul Katz, whom I had once met briefly, would be the person to question about telecom orders. He was not present at that time in the office. He was probably out at the Hallicrafters Company trying to get the bugs out of the new equipment on order for Pakistan and a number of other countries with which USAID had programs. This is what I learned:
Mr. Katz, who was probably the initial telecommunication engineer in USAID's Office of Public Safety, had come to realize that the standard Police portable radio communication equipment was hard to keep in operation in Third World (undeveloped) countries because their special batteries were not available in those countries. The only battery universely available in Third World Coumntries was the rather large flashlight cell known as “D cell.” So Mr. Katz had started a drive to get portable police transceivers redesigned to use only “D cell” batteries. This meant that this portable equipment had to become quite large simply because of the large number of “D cells” each transceiver would require.
Few companies were interested in designing and building such equipment because the demand in developed coumntries was for smaller and smaller equipment. Motorola, a foremost supplier of Police equipment did design the needed “D cell” equipment and produced a few models They had been used on a USAID Public Safety project with great success. However, Motorola had dropped the production because it was unprofitable, and a firm called Hallicrafters had taken over the design. Hallicrafters had the contract for the equipment destined for Pakistan. This was their first production of such a design and it took more time than expected to get their production line running to produce good equipment. This was the problem affecting our work in Pakistan. A Hallicrafters official representative told me that they expected to ship good equipment for our project soon. There was little else I could do but return to my new home in Pakistan.
The new equipment did arrive in Pakistan within a few months and performed well. In the meantime I was busy getting acquainted with the technicians in several of the Police divisions and starting training sessions in the West Pakistan Police and the West Pakistan Rangers.
MY CONTACTS WITH MAJOR COUNTERPART, SUPERINTENDENT ZAFAR QUERESHI.
The counterpart in the West Pakistan Police with whom I had the most contact was Superintendent Zafar Hussain Quereshi. He was from a family who owned land in the south of Pakistan near Karachi. He had been educated in England, I think, and had much technical knowledge about telecommunication. I had several conferences with him in his office and was fascinated by the way he handled the many visitors who came to see him at his office. Visitors were ushered directly into his office and took chairs in sequence around the periphery of his office. He would call up each visitor in sequence and bring them up to a chair beside him to discuss their business in the presence of all the other waiting visitors. Almost all business was discussed in English.
Mr. Quereshi invited my family over to his house to meet his family. We had a mutual interest in classical music, both Western and Indian. I loaned him a number of my western classical records and he invited me to a classical Indian music concert which was held at night in a city park. In fact, the concert lasted almost all night. I was fascinated to notice that Mr. Quereshi had brought along a leather bag which contained snack food for refreshment. He produced from the bag fine dining cups and saucers and a vacuum bottle of hot coffee. I felt rather afraid to handle a fine china cup and saucer in my hands while sitting on a concrete seat in a city park. But I managed without mishap.
On a later occasion Mr. Quereshi and I made a day trip in his car throughout his jurisdiction to inspect the progress made in installation of new equipment. The day was long and hot and we grew thirsty. We usually quenched our thirst with soft drinks like Coca Cola and 7 Up which were available in many places. But on one occasion we parked in front of a commercial establishment with which Mr. Quereshi was acquainted. “This place has a deep well,” said Mr. Quershi. “It's water is safe to drink.” So we each had a cool glass of water from the well. After a few days I heard that Mr. Quereshi was sick. And I soon had to be taken to the hospital with a case of Typhoid! Mr Quereshi became a unique friend. But I learned that no matter what the recommendation, don't drink the water!
At the end of my two year hitch in Pakistan and assignment to the Washington office, Mr. Quereshi and I continued regular correspondence. When he was brought to Washington DC to attend a special course at the International Police Academy, he and his wife stayed with my family at our home in Reston, Virginia. Still later, after I had retired from government service, My wife and I called on Mr. Quereshi as he visited with his sons who then lived in the US.
With other West Pakistan Police leaders I visited police stations in which USAID equipment had been installed, one near Peshawar which was manned by Pathans (members of a Northwest Pakistani tribe). The Pathans seemed to be intriqued as though they had never seen anyone like me. I stood still while they walked up and gave me a closeup visual examination. They showed no hostility, simply curiosity. I also visited a police station at the hill town of Murree, a police station on the Indus River at the Bridge at Attock, and other police stations in the foothills of northern West Pakistan (Azad Kasmir, Swat, etc.). I was especially urging the West Pakistan police stations to get their radio communication equipment on common frequencies so they could assist and cooperate with each other.
MY EAST PAKISTAN DUTIES.
My advisory duties also included the East Pakistan Police and East Pakistan Rifles. (East Pakistan is now known as Bangladesh and has no connection with West Pakistan.) I made several working visits to East Pakistan, living while there in the USAID Staff House in Dacca. Each time I visited the Superintendent of East Pakistan Police would stage a sumptous staff dinner in our honor and make a speech about how his police activities were being upgraded with USAID help. However, at our periodic visits we saw little or no evidence of improvement. The police radio communication equipment furnished by the US was used to advantage in rescue of people from the floods caused by the Cyclonic storms which struck the low lying lands of the country almost every year. The death tolls from the floods were to be measured in the thousands among people who lived permanently in those low lands.
In the city of Dacca I found an old friend, Sam Lanford and family, who had lived in New York State and had been part of the group of Christians who had built the Christian Children's Camp, Camp Hunt. Sam was an Architect who taught Architecture in College. In East Pakistan he was teaching in the local Muslim college in Dacca, so he was living there with his family. I was surprised to meet him there and managed to call on him almost everytime I visited East Pakistan. (It was interesting to note that the students at the college at which Sam taught were on strike almost all the time and Sam was unable to actually get to do much teaching.)
I used to enjoy the flights by PIA jet airliners from West Pakistan over India to East Pakistan. We used to fly at 40,000 feet above the haze and clouds (you could not see the ground below). You could see the Himalayas clearly in the sunlight as though hanging in midair. All the peaks of the range, including Everest, were visible.
OUR ADVENTURES IN PESHAWAR.
In those years the US maintained a military air terminal and air Force staff at Peshawar. We employees of USAID were given priviledges to purchase clothing and other items at the POST EXCHANGE (PX) there. So I drove with my family to the PX in Peshawar on several occasions. Also, as a family we vacationed at a unique motel in Murree (cool at 5,000 feet altitude) for a few days.
On one of our visits to Peshawar we drove up into the Kyber Pass as far as the Afghan border. At one place I stopped the car and got out to take a picture of a unique road sign (directing camel and donkey traffic away from the main road.) As we were about to drive away some Pathan youths (big boys about 14 or 15 years old) accosted us, held my driver's door open and demanded "bakshish." I was just about to pull away from their grasp on my door when an elderly man walked by. He scolded the boys who then sheepishly backed away from our car. He waved us on our way.
One day I was sitting at the wheel of our parked car while the family shopped in a Peshawar store. It was hot so I had the windows open and I had taken off my wrist watch and stashed it on the dash of the car. I noticed a small boy (perhaps 9 or 10 years old) standing in the shade of a building just across the sidewalk from my car. I didn't realize he had spotted my watch on the dash in front of me. Suddenly he was beside my car, his hand and arm came in through the open window and grabbed my watch. I scarcely had time to move. He took off running across the street and dissappeared down a side street. I had not had time to do anything, even sound an alarm.
On another occasion I was driving with my family out of Peshawar to the east back towards Lahore. I came up behind a horse cart with two men standing in it racing down the road behind a galloping horse. I pulled to the right of the cart to pass it and as I was passing the left wheel came off the cart throwing it into the ditch on the left side of the road. At this moment a small child, who was invisible behind something on the right side of the road, stepped out directly in front of my car and was struck by the right fender and headlight of my car. I didn't see the child but heard the sound and knew I had struck something. At that instance I glanced to the right and saw what appeared to be a rag doll sailing through the air. I stopped and found that I had hit a little girl. She was unconscious but looked dead. A crowd gathered and some one picked her up and said she was still alive. I called out that I would take her back into Peshawar to a hospital. (Of course, I didn't know where a hospital was located. So I asked some Pakistani army personnel who had stopped, to please show me the way to the hospital. They said they couldn't because they were on duty. However, a young civilian man spoke up and said he would get in the car and show us the way. (He happened to be a relative of the little girl and he held her in his arms all the way to the hospital.)
At first some people who had gathered around the car didn't want to let me go. They thought the girl was dead. But when they were told that I was taking her to the hospital, they backed away. I got the car turned around and started back. At first the young man directing us had us stop at a first aid station in a building beside the road. I rushed into the building and alerted the people who manned the aid station. They treated the girl, bound her head in bandages, and sent us on to the hospital. At the hospital they took her in immediately.
I and my family waited in the waiting room to hear from the doctor. After a while he came out to see us and said she would “be all right.” It was almost unbelievable that she had lived through the hit that had sent her sailing through the air. We thanked the Lord.
Under the circumstances, I thought it best that we not go directly back (an all day drive) to Lahore. We went back and registered into a hotel. Then I reported the accident to the superintendent of Police for the area. He took my report and sent a young officer with me to investigate. I showed him my car and the broken headlight where the car had struck the little girl.
Lo and behold, at this time two men appeared outside the police station, the same two men who had been in the cart when it had lost one of its two wheels and had wrecked. Before the police officer they accused me of causing the wreck by striking their cart with my car. (Perhaps, they really thought my car had struck them.) Anyway, I showed everyone that there was no damage on the left side of my car where it alledgedly struck them. The officer did not accept their complaint.
The next day we stopped by the hospital to enquire about the little girl. We met the doctor and the girl's mother. The girl was improving. I asked the doctor to convey to the mother that I would reimburse her for any expense she might have because of the girl's confinement to the hospital. The doctor simply told me that the mother said I should not expect her to accept money in exchange for the wounding of her daughter. She was angry with me. I wanted to upbraid her for allowing her daughter to play on the highway, but I remained silent. I decided we had done all we could, so we went back to Lahore. We were greatly saddened by the mishap.
WAR BETWEEN PAKISTAN AND INDIA
On the morning of September 6, 1965 I had an appointment to make a speech to the Special Police Establishment, a group of Pakistani police officers, at one of the Lahore police buildings. This was an unusual request, specifically to make a speech. I have forgotten what I had prepared to say, but undoubtedly it was something about the use of radio communication in improvement of Public Safety services to the public.
When I arrived at the Police building, I found the group of officers to whom I was to speak, but, strangely, they seemed to be pre-occuppied, speaking among themselves. Nevertheless I made my speech and during the question and answer period there were two extremely loud booms. (It turned out to have been the sound of a jet planes over head as they broke the sound barrier.) I asked an officer, Mr. Niak, what the explosive sound was and he indicated to me that the booms were from Pakistani planes engaged in a civil defense drill. It actually turned out to be the opening salvos of a war between Pakistan and India. I eventually got an indication from the police officers there that Pakistani forces were driving against Indian forces from west to east along the border between India and Kashmir trying to cut off lower India from Kashmir in the north. The consensus among the officers to whom I conversed was that by nighfall the Pakistani forces would have Kashmir completely cut off from India. No one was really interested in my speech. And by then I felt out of place with the officers. So I left the building and went back to my USAID office.
Although it was actually a holiday at the USAID Office, I reported to the duty officer, Mr. Tierney, what had happened concerning the start of a war between Pakistan and India, and then went to the home of Mr. Joe Corr, my boss, and reported to him.
At my home in Gulberg it was evident that a war was in progress. We could hear the sounds of field artillery in the distance to the East. And when night darkness came on we could see the muzzle flashes from each individual field gun. A battle was raging to the east of us just beyond the Lahore airport, along the border with India. (Later reasoning seemed to indicate that India had opened the the Lahore border battle in order to divert the main Pakistani force as it tried to take the Kashmir border area.) If this is what actually happened it seems to have worked. For the Pakistani drive across the Kashmir border was slowed and in just 17 days the war was ended in a ceasefire. Kashmir remained a part of India.
However, in the first two days of the war there was considerable confusion and fear among the many Americans who lived in Gulberg and surrounding areas. From the tops of our houses we could see the muzzle lashes from tank and field guns and we were afraid that some of the shells might fall into our yards.
The Americans of my community were led by an “Area Warden” who was a USAID officer. The Americans met at his house on the morning of September 7, 1965 (the second day of the war). We received instructions to prepare for evacuation of American families by car. I went home and loaded my car with the things I thought we might need should we evacuate by car. We also “mudded” our cars, that is, smeared mud all over them so they would be somewhat camouflaged should we be driving on the roads. I then telephoned USAID transportation for a car to pick me up and take me to my office. Although the dispatcher promised to send a car for me (as he usually did), the car did not expeditiously appear. I called the dispatcher a second time but the car to pick me up did not appear that day. I assumed that the car had been more urgently needed elsewhere. We had frequent meetings with the “Area Warden”during the day.
On the morning of September 8 many cars gathered outside the home of the “Area Warden,” ready to evacuate Lahore by means of cars. We were all instructed to return home, remain in readiness, and wait for further instructions. We were informed that the USAID offices would be closed on that day, September 8, until further notice.
Meanwhile Washington (the United States)) had been busy negotiating with both Pakistan and India to arrange somehow to get the American Nationals safely away from the war zone. Our State Department was able to arrange to bring in American aircraft to the Lahore airport to evacuate the Americans. The time for the aircraft arrival at the Lahore airport was set for the next day, September 9. The Americans were to be evacuated to the city of Tehran, Iran and were to take only baggage they would need for a hotel stay in that city. Not knowing how long the war would last or what would happen to USAID employees with respect to their Pakistani assignments, I and my family quickly packed all our belongings in boxes for possibly being shipped back to us should the families not be returned to Pakistan. The men of the Office of Public Safety Project were to remain in Pakistan and not be evacuated with their .families. This meant, of course, that I would remain behind at home when Charlotte and the kids were put aboard the plane at the Lahore airport. Actually the United States Military planes, 8 or 9 C130 aircraft, did not arrive until September 15, 1965. My family left on the first C130.
This was to be a new experience for Charlotte, taking care of the family in a foreign city without me. (However, much help was given to the families by the Americans of the Tehran Embassy, and Charlotte, our two sons, and daughter, spent a few days in a hotel and then were able to rent a furnished apartment. The two boys were enrolled in an American School in Tehran. All in all the experience was educational for the entire family.)
Tehran Newspaper Shows Sandy Greeted By U.S. Ambassador Upon Arrival.
The war only lasted two more weeks (17 days in all) but the American families did not return to Pakistan until Christmas time in December. I worked in the USAID office in Lahore during the absence of my family and remember taking a couple of trips, one by train and one by air, in Pakistan in order to keep contact with my Pakistani police counterparts.
While the war was still being waged, I was called upon to go to Rawalpindi. I went by train. The train had a number of first class compartments, one of which I occuppied alone. In fact, I don't think there were any other passengers on the car which contained my compartment. The conductor checked my ticket through the window from the station platform before we departed. While enroute, we passed a siding which had a flat car loaded with brand new field artillery pieces. That didn't seem too unusual to see in a country which was at war. However, the sight was unusual to me in that each of the new artillery pieces bore the insignia (clasped hands) of gifts from the United States by USAID. I knew that it was not the policy of the United States to give gifts of war materials under the USAID insignia. I believe that the insignia had been fraudently attached to this war materiel by someone who wanted to make news that the US supported Pakistan against India. I reported what I had seen to the U. S. Ambassador in Karachi.
After the war was over, but while my family was still in Tehran, I took Pakistan airlines down to Karachi. I don't remember my official duties performed on that trip, but I remember dropping by to see the J. C. Choate family, Church of Christ missionaries from the US. I wanted to see how they had fared during the war. J. C. was not at home when I dropped by unannounced, but Betty Choate and her children (all babies) were there. She was happy to see another American church member. I found them well, having not been affected by the war which was then over. (I had met the Choate family in Lahore where they had taken part in a meeting at the Lahore Church of Christ.)
During the time that I was in Lahore alone, several of my fellow USAID Public Safety Advisors happened to be visiting Lahore. I invited them all over to my house for dinner. I had confidence that Ashgar, our cook, would do a good job preparing a memorable dinner. The Advisors who came to my dinner were Stan Sheldon, Charles Nesbit, and Mr. Molfetto. Joe Corr, who was my boss also stationed in Lahore with me, was out of town at the time of the dinner. I remember that Ashgar made a beef stew and other fixins for us men which was thoroughly enoyed.
Badshihi Mosque On Eid Day 1965.
MY TRIP TO TEHRAN FOR VACATION WITH MY FAMILY.
It was in October or early December of 1965 that Charlotte called me to tell me about a Holy Land Tour being arranged by Pan American Airlines for the Americans who had been evacuated to Tehran. It would be a good chance for us to see the Holy Land of the Middle East if I could come over to Tehran for the Christmas Holidays and we visit the Holy Land as a family at Christmas time. I thought it a wonderful idea and asked Charlotte to see if we could get on the tour. It all worked out. I got leave scheduled for early December that would allow me to spend about a week with my family in the Tehran apartment, and then to go on the Holy Land Tour which was to start from Tehran on December 18.
I put in for R & R (Rest and Recuperation) leave to start on December 9, 1965. At the same time I requested a ticket via PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) from Lahore to Tehran. As I was waiting for confirmation of my airline ticket, I learned that a young Pakistani Christian, John Herbert, would be travelling on the same flight with me. His destination was the United States, Northeastern Christian College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had been granted a scholarship to attend that college . (I knew the President of Northeastern Christian College, Elza Huffard, and had written a letter to him recommending John for the scholarship.) I also learned from one of my Pakistani Police counterparts that the President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan and some of his staff, would also be on the flight to Tehran. I was being investigated by the Pakistani security officials to determine if I would be a good risk to fly on the same flight with President Ayub. I must have passed inspection for my ticket was granted. It was to be a very interesting flight.
I met John Herbert at the airport on December 9, 1965 and we occupied adjoining seats. We were not allowed to keep possession of our cameras which were taken by a flight official to be returned to us at destination. We sat with other regular passengers near the back of the passenger cabin. The entire front portion of the cabin had been specially compartmented for the President and his staff. During the flight President Ayub stepped into the back and walked down the aisle personally greeting each one of the passengers. I remember that he asked John what he would be doing in the States. John told him about going to college to study a “business course.”
When we arrived in Tehran the airplane was led to a position beside a red carpet. We passengers were told to remain in our seats until the welcoming ceremony for President Ayub Khan was completed. The window beside my seat gave me a perfect closeup view of the welcoming ceremony. President Ayub was first welcomed personally by King Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran. He then was welcomed by King Abdullah Bin Abduln Aziz of Saudi Arabia and other assorted Kings in Arabic Garb. (I recognized some of the Kings. I don't remember if there was any firing of artillery salutes, but the entire ceremony took quite some time.) Finally the Kings and Officials departed and we ordinary passengers were allowed to disembark, on the same red carpet if I remember correctly. Our cameras were returned to us. (Mine had been dropped and broken. Pakistan Airlines paid for its repair many weeks later. My camera was never right after that.)
(I remember another happening concerning my friend John Herbert. When I met him at the Lahore airport that morning he had been carrying his airline ticket and his wallet visibly in his back pants pocket. I warned him that he might lose his wallet and papers to pickpockets if he was not more careful. He shrugged off the warning and continued to use his back pants pocket. I later learned that he had lost everything to a pickpocket at his arrival at the New York terminal building. He found himself penniless at the New York airport without money even for a phone call. Some “good Samaritan” made a call to college president Elza Huffard and they sent a car all the way from Philadelphia to pick him up.)
OUR ONE WEEK STAY IN TEHRAN.
After my release from President Ayub Khan's airplane I rented a car (A VW Bug) and found the apartment in Tehran where my family were living. It was a Joyous reunion and I was so proud of Charlotte that she had been able to make full arrangememts for the family to live comfortably in Tehran.
The boys were in school and Joe had found a professional classic guitar teacher who was teaching him the essentials of classical guitar playing. Only little Sandi had had some difficulty. You see, wandering through the streets of Tehran there are many orphaned Persian cats (Yes, beautiful long haired Persian cats which we guard carefully in America.) One of these stray cats had climbed up the building and entered Charlotte's apartment through the window and had acted very tame as though it lived there. Perhaps the cat had belonged to the previous tenant. So Charlotte and Sandy were glad to see it and gave it some food. From that moment, the cat belonged to them, entering and reentering the apartment through the kitchen window. One day the cat caught a mouse in the apartment and Sandy saw it happen. Sandy tried to save the poor little mouse from the cat and in the process Sandy got bitten and scratched by the cat. Sandy got her wound taken care of, but what about the cat – it might have rabies. Should Sandy get rabies shots? We were advised to keep the cat under observance to see if it might get sick from rabies. Charlotte had someone make a box cage for the cat, and there was the cat, boxed up it the cage when I arrived at the apartment. (When we left the apartment a week later we released the healthy cat.) If we had met the next tenant, we would have told them that the apartment comes with a cat.
We went sight seeing around Tehran in our VW Bug. We were especially entriqued by the markets with their stalls opening on to a mall. The stalls sold just about everything one could imagine being available somewhere in the world. Many of the stalls opened onto rather large establishments in the back. The proprietors invited you in with offers of tea or coffee. Real Persian rugs were very much in evidence. In fact we were surprised to find some of the streets with sections covered in rugs over which one had to drive his car. (Apparently this was a way of ageing a new rug so it would bring a higher price as an ancient rug.)
Noting that the Caspian Sea (the northern side of which borders on Russia) lay only a few miles to the North of Tehran, we decided to make a day trip to see it. On the way north to the Caspian we had to pass through the Alborz mountains through a miles long tunnel. That tunnel was quite fearful. It was not lighted. Only the weak headlights of the VW illuminated the way. And the wind blew a gale against us as we proceeded through the tunnel. We had to go most of the way in second gear against the gale.
It was a beautiful day on the Caspian sea shore. We drove alongside it for several miles and at one point we stopped and walked over to put our hands in the water. There were no beaches or developed recreation areas on the section we saw. The farms simply extended as close as they could to the water's edge. We passed one hotel at which we stopped for lunch. Apparently they do not get much business on the day we appeared. Several people “fell to” and prepared something we picked from the menu. That was our trip to the Caspian Sea. The tunnel through the mountain was the most exciting part of the trip.
Sandy, Joe, and Charlie on the shore of the Caspian Sea.
The landlord of the Apartment building (an Iranian lady) also lived in the building. She invited us and several other foreign tenants to dine with her one evening. She had her dining room arranged like a Persian Tent on the desert. It being winter and quite cold, she had a heating stove under the table in the middle of the room (all under a tent). Over the table was a blanket spread to go out from the table to cover the laps of the diners. (One was warm beneath the blanket but rather cool above the blanket where one actually ate.) I don't remember what was on the menu but we enjoyed it and the experience of the warming arrangement. Everyone we met in Iran was very cordial to us.
Some Americans in the U. S. Embassy were members of the Church of Christ and had worship services at one of their houses every Sunday. Charlotte and the family had worshipped with them during the time they lived in Tehran. (Every place we have traveled we have found members of the Church or Christ with whom to worship on Sundays.)
OUR HOLY LAND TOUR.
Holy Land Tour, December 1965
On December 18, 1965 we flew out of Tehran on our Pan American Airlines tour of the Holy Land. We were all americans, most of us evacuees from the Pakistan-India war.
Our first stop on the tour was in Jerusalem. Jerusalem at that time was a divided city. The modern portion of the city was in Israel while the ancient portion was in Jordan (or under the jurisdiction of Jordan.) I believe that our hotel, the Jerusalem Intercontinental Hotel atop the Mount of Olives, was on the Jordan side as well as most of the ancient sites we visited. From the Intercontinental Hotel one could actually see a portion of the Dead Sea in the valley of the Jordan to the west. Of course, the ancient walled city of Jerusalem lay to the east seemingly only a “stones throw” away. There lay the Brook Kidron running between the wall of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. I was immediately struck by the smallness of the area in which our Lord lived when He was in Jerusalem, and the nearness of the places mentioned in the Bible that He visited.
The Garden of Gethsemane lay on the hillside just below our hotel. We explored it on foot and were quite impressed to find at least one live olive tree which was more than 2,000 years old. It had been contemporary with our Lord! Of course, the very stones around us and the ground on which we walked were contemporary with our Lord and many other Biblical characters. We saw, carved out of solid rock, places where the olives were pressed. Also carved out of the rock of the Mount under ground just below the olive presses were storage tanks for the olive oil.
We saw the ancient Garden tomb which was certainly very similar to the actual tomb in which Jesus' body was placed. It was very near to a hill which, in Jesus time, might have been Golgatha (place of the skull). The tomb was carved from solid rock with an opening in front of which was the rocky track of the huge circularly cut stone which was rolled in the track to seal the opening. Inside the tomb one could see where the space for the body had been enlarged and a larger body was laid than the body for whom the tomb had been constructed. In other words, the tomb was actually borrowed to hold a body not intended. This tomb, and the hill that was possibly Golgatha, were “outside the Gate” of Jerusalem. The contemplation as one examined this tomb, so similar to that in which our Lord's body was laid, was very touching. Many of the visitors were weeping.
We also visited the actual birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem which at that time was also in Jordan. Because of this temporary division of the country between Jordan and Israel, our party was unable to travel by car directly the 6 miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. In order to escape the difficulties of crossing the border and travelling through a small portion of Israel, we drove a roundabout route of 15 miles or more, allowing us to stay on the Jordan side.
In Bethlehem we found the site, believed to be where Jesus was born, enclosed within a church building. You remember the Biblical account of how Mary and Joseph found the local commercial inn to have no vacancy and how the innkeeper allowed them to retire in the “barn” where the animals were kept. The barn actually was a cavern in a rocky hillside. It was typical in Israel to take advantage of such caverns as places to house animals and probably gave better shelter from the elements than another type of structure. The church edifice built over and around the cavern was quite ancient itself.
Our party took one day to drive down the hill to visit the Dead Sea and the archeological site of Cumran near where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. The Mount of Olives at Jerusalem is about 2,638 feet above sea level and the Dead Sea is about 1,385 feet below sea leavel. So the drive is down hill some 4,000 feet. On the way down we passed a sign which marked the passing of sea level altitude. The drive of 24 miles normally takes about one hour. We stopped at a building about half way down the hill (possibly a rest stop) where there was a crowd of tourists watching a man riding a beautiful horse. Our daughter Sandy, then about 5 and anxious to experience everything, ran over to pet the horse. The man riding the horse reached down, scooped her up to the saddle in front of him, and took her for a ride. Charlotte and I were nervous, but Sandy was thrilled.
At the Dead Sea shore we stopped near a resort hotel where we could walk along the beach. We noticed that the little waves breaking on the beach made a louder somewhat different sound than waves on a sea level beach and assumed the different sound to be due to the extreme saltinest of the water. (The water is said to be the saltiest in the world.) We waded in the water and explored some rusty wrecks of old boats on the beach.
As we began to drive back up the hill from the Dead Sea we took a side road to the south which took us over to the Cumran archeological site. It is on a flat surface which dropped off to the west in a cliff to the Dead Sea. To the south and across a steep ravine was another rugged mountain in which we could see the openings of caverns here and there. (The terrain on these mountains all around the Dead Sea are almost free of any kind of green foliage.) It was in one of these mountainside caverns that the Dead Sea scrolls, written and manufactured by the people living at Cumran, were hidden almost 1,900 years ago and then found in 1947.
Unearthed at the village of Cumran site was a building with rooms containing long stone tables on which it is assumed that the long parchment “pages” were written and then rolled into scrolls (which were the “books” of their day.) Why were some of the scrolls hidden away in the remote caverns of near by mountains? I venture a guess that the people of Cumran had to flee from the Romans at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) and especially at the time when the Romans laid seige to the Jewish fort of Masada which was on a mountain on the Dead Sea just to the south of Cumran. When the people fled they were unable to take their scrolls with them so they hid them in the caverns.
It must have been on another day (my memory is weak) that we came down from Jerusalem to see the Jordan River and the city of Jericho. The water of the Jordan River is fresh and contains life until it runs into the Dead Sea. The terrain through which the Jordan River runs from north to south is like a “blind canyon” (a valley with no exit) so the Dead Sea runs out nowhere except through vaporization. It just becomes salty and void of life. Fish from the Jordan River and its Sea of Galilee provided food for the many people of the Jordan valley during Biblical times. We saw the river at several points. Its banks are lush with green plants, bushes and trees. So it was along its bank somewhere that John, the Prophet was preaching and baptizing when our Lord Jesus came to be baptized and acknowledged by God. We simply saw a small river (a creek compared with some rivers in the US.)
Jordan River With The Wilderness Beyond.
The city of Jericho is now a modern little city. On its northern border is an archeological site which may be the orignal Biblical city of Jericho. It is mostly covered with several feet of earth and is only partially excavated. The watchtowers on the corners of the old fort city have been excavated so that one can go down a ladder to the to the original ground level. Both of my sons, Joe and Charlie, climbed down the ladders to stand where the Israelites had marched around the fortified city when they first entered the Promised Land. Our faith is strengthened by viewing this Holy Land because it is easy to identify it as the actual land described in the Bible. But to say that this specific old fort is the site of Biblical Jericho, we cannot be sure.
While in Jerusalem we went through one of the old gates and walked on ancient streets that Biblical characters (including our Lord) had walked. We were in Jerusalem on Sunday and we worshipped with a local Jerusalem Church of Christ that met in a rented hall. The missionary minister offered to let me preach a sermon, commenting that he had many visitors whose ambition had been to preach a sermon in Jerusalem. I had not been feeling well (actually I was beginning to get sick) and I had not prepared a sermon for the occasion. But my family and I worshipped and ate the Lord's supper with brethren in Christ in the city of Jerusalem.
After several days in Jerusalem our tour took us to Egypt to see some antiquities which actually preceded in time our Lord's life in the first century as the Son of Man in Israel. Our Pan American aircraft took our group first to Cairo. We had very comfortable hotel rooms in Cairo and I was ready to go to bed because I was beginning to feel really sick.
After the first night in the hotel, upon awakening in the morning, I could scarcely walk or move. I thought that with an illness this serious I may be stuck here for days and days. We called the front desk for a doctor. I don't remember much about what the doctor said or whether he gave me an injection or just prescribed some pills. I remained in poor condition the rest of the day and was unable to leave my room. I urged Charlotte and the children, Joe, Charlie, and Sandy, to go on with the tour group for they all felt fine. They toured the famous Cairo Museum where Sandy was most impressed by the sight of the mummies. In the evening they went out to the area of one of the pyramids and the Spinx where there was a sound and light show depicting the history of Egypt. I missed these attractions.
The next morning, like magic, I felt well. The doctor had certainly made a good diagnosis and treatment of my illness. I thought I should take it easy but I decided to rejoin the tour group. We crossed the Nile River by ferry (I don't remember a bridge) and then were taken by bus through the desert to see huge statues and pyramids. We stopped just short of one of the largest pyramids (which we were going to explore on foot) so that we could experience a camel ride up to the pyramid.
As our bus pulled up to the tourist parking area, we noticed several men riding their camels around the area and a group of tourist ladies standing where they had just gotten off their bus. Suddenly one of the camel riders galloped over to the ladies, scooped one of them up and galloped off with her. Soon he returned with the lady and redeposited her with the group. She was all smiles. So I guess she was not really frightened by the escapade.
I had never ridden a camel although I had seen others mount and ride them. We each picked our camel from the many waiting for us there. Each camel had a man tending it. The man made my camel squat on it's stomach making it easy for me to get into the saddle. Then, the camel raised his front feet first, making me have to hold on to the saddle to keep from being thrown off. Then up came the back feet and we were off on our ride. (Or was it the back feet that came up first?) The ride would have been enjoyable had it not been for the man leading the camel. He talked incessantly about his sick family, making a plea for an extra donation of money from me. Even though I reminded him he was already being paid, he continued his pitch. He had a captive audience.
At the pyramid there was a long line of people waiting to walk up steps to a door to enter the pyramid. Joe, Charlie, and Sandy joined the line to enter and see what was inside the pyramid. I was still a little weak from my illness so Charlotte and decided to just wait for the kids to return. We could see the kids in line as the line proceeded partially up the side of the pyramid. Little Sandy, smaller than most of the people, evidently got tired of waiting in line. We saw her begin to pass those in front of her and make her way to the head of the line. Soon she disappeared alone inside the door of the pyramid. There was nothing I could do but wait and pray that she would soon emerge back out the door. After a while she did come back out and we heaved a sigh of relief. Finally back with us, we asked her what she saw inside the pyramid. She said, “Nothing. Just a long hall and an empty room.”
The next day we again boarded our Pan American Aircraft and flew up the Nile river some 313 flight miles to the city of Luxor, Egypt. The terrain through which the Nile flows at Luxor is mountainous. It was explained that some of the Pharaohs of Egypt preferred to live here and to use a real mountain to form their tombs than to live in Cairo where they had to make a fake mountain (a pyramid) to form their tombs. Of a certainty, the solid rock mountain on the east side of the Nile contained many tombs of Pharohs and even tombs of sacred cattle. The Temple of Queen Hatchetsup (a rare female Pharoh) was very visibly carved out of the front of the mountain (facing the Nile).
The Pharohs, upon thir deaths, were entombed in this mountain with much treasure which made tombs attractive to grave robbers all down through the ages. As a result most of the Pharaoh's tombs had been found and robbed of their treasures in years past. However, the tomb of King Tut (actually Tutankhamen) was not found until 1922 and the treasure (130 ancient artifacts) originally placed there were still there. Ever since 1922 the artifacts have been kept in the tomb and it has been opened to tourists. Incidentally, King Tut was judged to be about 20 years old when he died and his corpse was found with his skull crushed.
Back on the west side of the Nile from this mountain was the Temple of Karnak. Karnak was actually a number of Temples built adjacent to each other by many Pharaohs over a number of years. We spent a full day walking though and photographing the temples.
Then we went back aboard our Pan American Aircraft to fly to the city of Beirut just in time to clebrate New Year's Eve at a show at a Beirut Casino. Parts of the show were immoral but were characteristic of that particular casino. Some of the American tourists complained to the tour guides. The next day (January 1 1966) we started to tour Lebanon, first taking several cars to travel to the city of Damascus.
The Bible tells us that it was just outside of Damascus that Saul, the Jewish persecutor of Christians, was spiritually accosted by our Lord Jesus by speaking to Saul and striking him blind. Saul, then spiritually convinced that the Lord Jesus was the Son of God as Jesus had claimed, was taken into the “house of Judas” in Damascus on the “street called straight” and told to wait there. So our destination in 1965 as we drove into Damascus was to drive down the “street called Straight,” to seek out the house that Saul had been taken into. The street is still there. It is still called “Straight.” It is often sought out by tourists to Damascus. Strangely, the drivers of our cars all sounded their horns continuously as they travelled down “Straight” street. Their explanation: it is the custom of tourists seeking the “street called Straight” to sound their horns when they have found it. (Could it be that the merchants want to be notified that a new group of tourists have come into town?)
Then we stopped at a house which was below present street level and only partially excavated. It was explained that this house was on the level of the street almost 2,000 years ago and is truly a house on the original street. It is presented as possibly the “house of Judas” where Saul was taken to await the coming of Ananias who restored Saul's sight and baptized him into Christ. We stayed only long enough to view a restored room in the house.
In our drive through Lebanon we viewed the Roman Temple of Balbeck (from before the time of Islam) and a Crusader's castle (from the time when Islam held sway.) When we were on this tour many of the middle eastern countries (such as Egypt and Jordan) were Islamic, Lebanon had a Christian government, and, of course, Israel had an Israeli government. (Since 1965, Lebanon has lost its Christian government and is now Islamic.)
The next day our Pan American Aircraft took us back to Tehran. We spent just enough time (several days) in Tehran to gather our things from our apartment and arrange with the U. S. Embassy for flight tickets back to Lahore. We arrived back in Lahore on January 9, 1966 to a royal welcome by our servants and the members of the Lahore Church of Christ.
SOME COMMENTS CONCERNING OUR MEMBERSHIP IN THE LAHORE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
The Lahore Church of Christ was started by the preaching and conversion activities of Mr. Gordon Hogan and family some years before I came with my family to Lahore on my job with USAID. The country of East and West Pakistan was formed and separated from India in 1947 as a “modified Islamic” country composed not only of Muslims but also of Christians and Hindus. (I call it a “modified Islamic” country because it's government did not condone all the Islamic teachings passed down from Mohammad in the Koran and the Sunna/the Sira and the Hadith. For instance, the constitution of Pakistan calls for a democracy instead of Muhammad's Sharia Law. Pakistan's democracy also calls for some freedom of religion which Muhammad was definitely against. Out of the approximately 110 million people living in West Pakistan in 1965, some 1.5 to 2 million Christians lived in northern West Pakistan around Lahore.)
The Pakistani Minister of the Lahore Church of Christ was Mr. Gulam Masih. He had a large family who were all Christians and with whom our family became intimately acquainted. It so happened that Mr. Gordon Hogan and his family had gone back to the US for a year of “rest and recuperation,” departing the day before I and my family arrived in Lahore. I guess some members thought at first that I was there to replace Mr. Hogan. I and my family were simply members there to help where we could.
The services were conducted in English and Punjabi, with translation by Mr. Gulam Masih who knew both languages. All our singing was in the Punjabi language with song books rendering the Punjabi words in Roman letters in order for Americans to sound out the actual Punjabi sounds. Therefore we who spoke only English could sound out the Punjabi songs but sometimes didn't know what we were singing. I made a few talks and prayed aloud before the congregation, with Mr. Gulam Masih giving the translation so that all could understand.
Shortly after I arrived in Lahore, Mr. Gulam Masih told me about a meeting he had every Sunday afternoon at a nearby Christian Village. He asked me to speak at these meetings, with him giving the translation. I undertook that work for a number of months, preparing a new sermon for each meeting. I was at least partially understood by the adults in the audience for they asked me many questions about what I had said. I remember a question from a somewhat angry young man asking about my statement that the Bible establishes only one church. His question was: If only one church, which church among the many being preached is that one? He was somewhat angry because I had not pointed out specifically which churches were wrong.
Apparently the word spread that the American family which had moved into our house in Gulberg were Christians. For we had a steady stream of denominational Christians coming to our door asking for financial donations. Some of them very seriously made the point to me that we all worshipped the same Christ Jesus and therfore should support each other.
I had a Pakistani member of our own congregation approach me for a business loan. He wanted to buy a rope making machine so he could make and sell ropes. Rope making was the specialty of the village in which he lived. He had it all figured out exactly what he would make on each rope and how he would be enabled to pay back the loan. He, of course, would be doing business with Muslims. I had my doubts that this Christian could make anything in this sort of a deal with Muslims for they treat all Christians as dimmis (second class citizens). But the Christian man was so hopeful and the sum he wanted to borrow was not much to me. I was very soon to leave Pakistan forever. But I gave him the money asking him to return the money as a donation to the Lahore Church of Christ after I had gone.
Another English speaking Pakistani business man attending our congregation had never been baptized. One day he asked me to baptize him. It occurred to me that this man had chosen me to baptize him because he thought it might be good for his business. I didn't feel that I should judge his motives. He obviously admired me. I was flattered. We had a baptizemal service and afterwards I spent some time talking with him. Now, so many years later, I do not remember his name.
One Saturday morning someone came into our compound and knocked on the back door. It was a young Pakistani man and standing a few feet behind him was his young Pakistani wife holding a closely swaddled baby. Our cook, Asghar, who was a very understanding Muslim, answered the door. The man explained to Asghar that the baby was dead, and would I be so good as to conduct a Christian burial ceremony for them. Asghar, who very much respected me as a student of “The Book,” gently conveyed the message to me.
I looked at the couple and the baby, almost newborn, but dead, and my heart bled for them. And yet I was panicked. The minister/missionary at the Lahore Church of Christ was in the United States on home leave. I’m not a professional minister. I’m just a sometimes practicing Christian. I never anticipated being called upon to conduct a funeral. (I had attended my share of funerals. Back during the depression, during my college years, I sang in a quartet. We volunteered to sing hymns at funerals when called upon. We were called out of class almost every week to help out at funerals.) So my mind began to turn over just what to do and say at this baby’s funeral. I found out through using Asghar as translator that the only thing I would have to do was to read some Scripture and say a few words. So I said O. K. They were to get the grave ready and come back to lead me to the gravesite later in the day.
Almost immediately after that, a car pulled in to our compound and out stepped Bob Davidson, one of the finest preachers and missionaries ever produced by the State of Texas. He had come to lead a series of meeting at the local Lahore Church of Christ. I had not expected him to arrive so soon. I greeted him with the question, Would you please assist a young Pakistani couple by presiding at the funeral ceremony of their baby who died soon after birth? He took the question right in stride and said, of course he would.
Later the Pakistani Christian couple returned, the mother still holding the dead baby, and the funeral procession formed. It consisted of the couple and baby, our American families, and their Pakistani family and friends. We walked in a procession on a path across some fields to a little gravesite. A man was still working on the grave. It was just a little hole lined with bricks. There was no casket. After Bob read some Scripture and said a few words, the mother gave the baby’s body, still wrapped in swaddling clothes, to the grave attendants who gently arranged the body between the bricks. The attendant then placed other bricks to span across the brick walls of the little tomb in order to cover the body. No mortar was used. Bob said a prayer. The funeral ceremony was over. We embraced everyone and departed.
JC Choate, Pakistani Preacher, Mrs. Hogan, FM Perry, Gordon Hogan, Mrs. Perry 1966.
F.M.'S MOTHER AND FATHER VISIT US IN PAKISTAN.
In March of 1966 I wrote to Mama and Papa inviting them to come visit us in Pakistan. Knowing that they would not likely have the funds to make such a trip, I offered to provide their airline tickets for the trip. They were very happy to be enabled to make the trip. They departed on their airline trip from New York on April 18, 1966. Mama wrote about the trip in her own handwriting:
“Last March 14 my husband and I received a letter from our son, F. M. Perry and family, that they would send us a check to cover our plane fare to Pakistan from New York City if we would come visit them. We never even had a dream that included traveling to a far away country with strange sounding names. On April 14 we left Fairhope and drove to Pennsylvania, Left our car with friends and went on to New York City to take the plane at 8 PM on the 18th of April. When you travel east you go to meet the sun. It took only 7 ½ hours to reach Frankfurt, Germany but it was about 9:30 Tuesday morning when we came down in Germany.
“When we took the plane for the last part of our journey was when the real thrill came. A voice over the loud speaker said we will be in Rome in 1 hour and 30 minutes, Cairo in 2 hours and 40 minutes, and on to Hong Kong and Tokyo. I said, Papa, do you suppose we are on the wrong plane? From the time that we left Germany and reached Karachi, Pakistan was only 10 ½ hours, about 7,000 miles.
“Our son was there to meet us at 2 o'clock in the morning. He had flown down 800 miles from Lahore to be there when we arrived in West Pakistan. The next day we took a jet to Lahore where our son and family have been living for the last 2 years. East Pakistan is the northwestern part of (old) India. East Pakistan is on the eastern border of (old) India – 1000 miles across India.” (By Mama, Jennie Morris Perry. She also wrote a paper about the History of India and Pakistan in order to make a presentation to her women's group after she got back to Fairhope.).
I also found in my papers some notes made by Papa (Joseph B. Perry) as follows:
“Saturday, April 30, 1966. F. M., Charlotte, Self and Wife went 45 miles to Changa Manga, a cultivated forest area started in 1860s to provide fuel for wood burning railroads. Now a state park recreation area, has deer, peacocks, and wild boar. Had picnic lunch and returned home.”
F.M.'s Mother and Father just arrived in Karachi
“Sunday, May 11, 1966. Went to Sunday School and Church, 8 to 10 AM. Picked up son of Bro. Herbert's daughter and friends and drove to their house at Balloki(canal headworks on the Ravi River) scene of canal construction. Mr. Herbert is personnel manager for company. We had dinner, drove out to construction project to meet Mr. Juneau, construction supt. from Louisiana. Met Mrs. Juneau and Mr. Elias Sussin Kattanek (all Christians). Had short Church service, broke bread, and after an enjoyable afternoon, was served a snack before departing for home. Returned Mr. Herbert's children to his town house and then friends to theirs. Arrived home about 8 PM. On this trip we drove through and returned through the town of Sheikhupura – (25 miles away) saw an old Mogul Fort built by Jehangir and palace of Ravi Raj Kawan, wife of Rangit Sing.” (By Papa, Joseph B. Perry).
While Mama and Papa were visiting us we decided to take a few days and visit the Pakistani Kingdom of Swat. We had heard of some nice vacation cottages for rent in scenic places there. So during the month of August 1965 we made arrangements. We had a Chevrolet Corvair Van which would accomodate the entire family plus our cook, Ashghar Ali. Our cook seemed especially pleased to be asked to go along on the trip. He planned the food and meals which he would serve during the sojourn at the cottage. He was really quite good at his job as well as a good friend.
The route to Swat took us first westward to the city of Peshawar and then northward into the mountains. The so-called cottage was quite spacious with comfortable furnishings and had a front porch with a scenic view. My memory is dim concerning what we did in Swat except for the following. I took my two boys, Joe and Charlie, on a hike onto the nearby mountainside.
We started our hike on a nice wide graded trail which had a sign at its start which read "Mall Road." (I think it was someone's idea of a joke.) But after a short walk the "road" changed to a much more narrow although well defined trail. The mountainside became very wooded and steep. At times we were afraid that if we stepped off the trail we might slide down the mountain because it was so steep. At the same time we saw cabins clinging to the mountainside alongside the trail. At least one of the cabins produced an old woman who came out to see who was passing by. She called to us and and made signs inviting us into her cabin for tea. We made signs of thanks for her invitation but indicated that we had to continue our hike.
Then came th.e earthquake! The mountain began to move and in a few seconds we had to sit down on the trail for fear we would be thrown down the mountain. The moving landscape made one feel that something was the matter with one's eyes. The violent shaking only lasted a few seconds. But just that quickly we heard the sound of people's voices. A distant murmur could be heard all around us. We realized that the mountainside was the home of a great many people. At the occurance of the earthquake all these people began to come out of their houses and began to call to one another. They were invisible to us behind the trees, but we could hear them clearly! It had occurred to me that the earthquake might make large boulders roll down the mountain. But when the shaking stopped there was no evidence of any damage to the trees or the few houses we could see.
We got up, turned around, and retraced our steps back to the cottage. We were anxious to find out how the cottage and the family had weathered the earthquake. Charlotte, Sandy, Mama and Papa, and even Ashgar were watching for us, wondering how we had fared. They saw us coming and were glad to see that we were unharmed. They each had an anecdote to tell about how they reacted to the shaking.
The start of the shaking found Sandy on one side of a little brook and Charlotte on the other. Charlotte imagined the earth opening up and swallowing up Sandy. So she reached across the brook and jerked Sandy over to her side. Papa (Grandpa) thought Mama (Grandma) had given him a push and had asked her why she had pushed him. Ashgar saw the shelves in the kitchen start to shake and some of the things began to vibrate off onto the floor. He said he quickly tried to catch them. When it was over there was no real damage that we could see and we don't remember any more shaking after that. A day or two later we packed up and went home to Lahore, having enjoyed the vacation very much.
Our Vacation Cottage in Swat.
Joe Goes To Grandparents Home To Complete High School.
It was nearing the end of August 1966 and our family was beginning to think of Home Leave back to the States which normally occurred around Christmas time. We had decided to send our oldest Son Joe back to the U. S. to complete his senior year of High School. We made arrangements to send him to live with his Grandparents and attend High School in Fairhope, Alabma. But he could not wait to go until we all went home at Christmas time. His school would start in early September. It was necessary to send him to Fairhope in time to start classes in early September. This was the first time that Joe, now almost 17, had ever lived apart from the family, and we had to send him alone half way around the world.
So August 31, 1966 found us taking Joe to the Lahore airport for a flight which would make connection in Karachi with KLM flight 832 to the United States. (I don't know what airline connections he had to make to get to Mobile, Alabama where his grandfather would meet him. His KLM flight probably landed in New York. But he was able to handle the connections and arrive safely and on time. At that time the rest of the family was expecting to see him again during home leave in Fairhope about Christmas time.)
Our Transfer To The Washington, DC Office.
The first two year oversea's tour of duty in a given foreign country was generally intended to be extended to two or more tours (four or more years in all). The first tour in a given country was set at two years and then was extended longer (after home leave) if one's work was deemed satisfactory. However, My boss, Mr. Joe Corr, did not consider my overall work satisfactory. In November of 1966, Just as we were getting ready to go for home leave and return to Pakistan, he informed me that I was not invited back to his staff in Pakistan. The 1965 performance evaluation had stated, in part, the following: "Perry has a primary interest in activities of a religious nature and is a very active member of a local religious group. This has a definite influence on the development of his personal relationships and defining the social milieu in which he exists. However, it has no significant effect on advancing the aims of the Public Safety Program nor promoting the best interests of the United States."
Mr. Corr's performance evaluation commended me professionally but made it clear that I did not measure up to his expectation in the way I dealt with Pakistani Officials. He summarized with these words: "PERFORMANCE SUMMARY. Rated officer is a qualified communications engineer with a solid professional background. He is thorough, methodical and accurate in formulating his various technical plans and programming their systemic phasing. He did a particularly excellent job in conducting surveys of existing police communications facilities and requirements in five major cities of Pakistan and his reports of his observations reflect a sympathetic understanding of the problems encountered and practical suggestion for their solution. His recommendations are invaribly sound, practical and appropriate. However, he frequently does not follow up his recommendations to encourage and assist their implementation, exhibiting an inclination to permit matters to follow their own course, often with no tangible results. He has prepared comprehensive programs for the training of police personnel in the operation and maintenance of telecommunication equipment acquired under the Public Safety Program. He closely follows the status of procurement orders and is somewhat impatient and critical of any delays in the delivery of commodities in which he is interested. All in all, his technical competence is undisputed and his performance within the strict confines of his technical speciality is acceptable." Mr. Stan Sheldon, the next higher boss in the "chain of command," did not agree with Mr. Corr's evaluation of my ineffectiveness. Therefore I had assumed that I would be returning to Pakistan after home leave.
So it was a last minute surprise that I would not be welcome back to the Lahore post for a second tour to complete the Public Safety Programs which I had planned. But I must comment that Mr. Corr probably thought that my Christian religious activities would prevent my close association with some of those of Islamic faith. I did not find it to be so. I thought I got along well with and was admired by my Pakistani police counterparts. Americans were all assumed by most Muslims to be Christians. I had many Pakistani policemen (Muslims) approach me and commend me to my face because I did not drink or smoke. My primary counterpart, Mr. Zafar Quereshi, became a long time friend who visited with me later in the United States. (Incidentally, most of the official social functions given by U. S. State Department Officials in honor of Pakistani Officials were cocktail parties serving alcoholic drinks. I could never understand why we Americans gave these kind of social functions in a country like Pakistan in which the drinking of alcoholic beverages by Muslims was illegal.)
We Complete Circumnavigation Of The World On Our Way Home.
Our post in Pakistan was almost on the opposite side of the world from our home in the United States. We had travelled through Europe on our way to Pakistan. Therefore we decided, in returning home, to go the rest of the way around. On our way back to Washington, DC the family would visit Agra, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Manila, Philippines; Hong Kong, China; Tokyo, Japan; Anchorage, Alaska; Chicago, Illinois; and finally Fairhope, Alabama to see our son Joe and my parents, all before reporting to Washington, DC, for my next assignment.
We first had to make arrangements to have our household effects packed for an ocean voyage to the U. S. And we had to dispose of our car. I located an American lady who had just arrived at Lahore and desired to purchase my car. However, under the laws of Pakistan I could not sell my car until it had been in country a certain time. The time period was three years, if I remember correctly. There was still almost a year to go before I could sell the car. I made arrangements to leave the car in the post garage with the attendant in charge of maintenance of Post vehicles until the transaction to sell the car became legal. The buyer was satisfied with this deal because she expected to be in Pakistan for several years and it saved her the payment of a several thousand dollar Pakistani duty charge.
Our family left Pakistan on 20 January 1967 with an appointment for me to go to work at the State Department Building in Washington, DC on 27 February 1967. We had more than a month for the family to vacation at the destinations we would visit on the trip I described above. I have decided to let this be Chapter One of "My Life With Charlotte." I'll continue our Life together with a description of our magnificent vacation in Chapter Two, which is yet to be written. There's lots more to go on "My Life With Charlotte."
To be continued.