Roger Strain, Sr.
The Attic of my Memories
As Iwalk through the attic of my memories, I find many happy times and a few sadtimes as well. My memories are most important to me. Someday, some of thesememories may have meaning to others. In the following pages I will describe mylife as I remember it. Some memories are very special and very private. These,I will carry to my grave.
Idedicate this book to my loving wife, Peggy Janette Cox Strain and my children,Toni, Terry and Roger, Jr.
Roger C Strain, Sr
Table of Content
Table of Content
Travels in the USA
US Navy Ships and DutyStations
Places I have lived
Foreign Countries visited
On the water
Places of Employment
The Lick place
He Stell place
The Guttery place
Aunt Susie Byram’s place
The Stanley (Denny Byrd)place
The Duke place
My first Summer’s Work
Back to the Farm
San Diego bound
Home on leave
Our first Apartment
Heading for the Far East
Home for good; I thought
The Panama Cannel
San Diego again
Where was I when PresidentKennedy was shot?
Our first Home
The Tug Boat
Becoming a Welder
Back to San Diego
My last Port-of-Call
Brown & Root
Our new home
A Texan one more time
Retirement one more time
Descendants of Roger CarolStrain
Born on the Lick place
Started to school
Graduated eighth grade asvaledictorian of my class
Left Dallas, Texas for NavyBoot Camp in
San Diego, California
Married Peggy Janette Cox
Ft Worth, Texas
Released from active U.S.Navy duty
San Diego, California
Oct 29, 1959
Re-enlisted in the U.S Navy
Apr 27, 1961
Toni Annette Strain wasborn at Sharp Memorial Hospital
San Diego, California
Jun 11, 1963
Terry Dale Strain was bornat Scripts Memorial Hospital
Nov 15, 1965
Promoted to Chief PettyOfficer
Dec 12, 1966
Roger Carol Strain, Jr. wasborn at Balboa U.S. Navy Hospital
San Diego, CaliforniaAboard USS Koka
Apr 25, 1975
Released to the U.S. NavyFleet Reserve
May 29, 1975
Began working for Brown& Root as a pipefitter
Jan 01, 1980
Became Brown & RootSafety Manager
Jan 01, 1984
Began representingWeyerhaeuser as the Weyerhaeuser Safety Manager
Aug 1, 1985
Transferred to the US NavyRetired List
Aug 20, 1988
Changed companies fromBrown & Root to Weyerhaeuser
Graduated from SoutheasternOklahoma State University
Aug 15, 1988
Began work for Weyerhaeuserin as a safety manager
May 29, 1994
I became a Texan, onceagain moving to
May 26, 1997
I suffered a stroke
Jan 1, 1999
Jun 30, 2000
Peggy was diagnosed withInflammatory Breast Cancer
Jul 23, 2001
Peggy’s last CHEMOtreatment. She is now NED. (Cancernon-detectable)
I have visited forty-eight of the fifty United States. Theonly two I have not visited at this time, February 12, 2002, are Alaska andMaine. I have lived in Oklahoma, Texas, California, Washington and Maryland. Ifirst visited Hawaii when it was still a territory and again after beingadmitted as the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959. While stationed in Hawaii Ilived on the island of Oahu and visited the island of Molokai. In 1997 Peg& I, along with my sister Charlene & her husband George, vacationed forfive days in 1997 on the island of Maui. While on Maui we drove the famous roadto Hana. This highway has 42 bridges to cross. Peg won this trip on “The Priceis Right show.”
Peg also lived in Hawaii for a year in 1960 - 1961 while Iwas stationed aboard the USS Maury.
US Navy Ships And DutyStations
Recruit Training Center
October 1955 – January1956
Naval Training Center,San Diego, California
Class “A” Pipe FitterSchool
February 1956 – May 1956
Naval Training Center,San Diego, California
USS Piedmont AD-17
May 1956 – August 1959
Home Port San Diego, CA
Temporary Duty attendingUS Navy Class “C” Welding School
Novmber1957 – February1958
US Naval Station 32NDST San Diego, California
US Naval Gun Factory
Diving School (was physically disqualified due to right lung)
November 1959 – January1960
USS Maury AGS-16
Home Port, Hawaii
Leadership and CompanyCommander School
Naval Training Center,San Diego, California
Recruit Training Center
March 1961-February 1965
Naval Training Center,San Diego, California
USS Koka ATA 185
March 1965-March 1968
Home Port San Diego, CA
Class “C” Welding School(24 weeks)
November 1967-August 1968
US Naval Station 32NDST San Diego, California
USS Simon Lake AS 33
Home Port, Holy Loch,Scotland changing to Bremerton, Washington in May 1969
Recruit Procurement Class“C” School
US Navy RecruitingStation
January 1970-June 1973
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
USS Constellation CVA 64
July 1973-January 1975
Home Port San Diego, CA
US Naval Air Station
Transferred to the USNavy Fleet Reserve April 25, 1975
Transferred to the USNavy Retired list August 1, 1985
Good Conduct with 4 stars
National Defense Medal
Navy Expeditionary Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
708 WKiamichi St
Name later changed to Road To Six Flags
House torn down to make way or a freeway.
2054State Street Apt 11
House torn down to make way or a freeway.
SanDiego, California (Pacific Beach)
SanDiego, California (Claremont)
SanDiego, California (Chula Vista) 92154
225 SCollegiate Apartments 157,174
Foreign Countries visited
I quit school after attendingsix weeks of my senior year, to join the navy. After completing a 12 week basic training course, I went on to manytechnical training schools, including; Class “A” Pipe fitter school (12wks),Welding school (12), Instructor training (4 wks), Leadership training (4 wks),Company Commander training (4 wks), Ship handling training (1 wk), Weldingschool (32 wks), Firefighting school (1 wk) and Recruiter Training school (6wks).
In 1969,while in Holy Loch,Scotland, I received my GED.
In September of 1978, Istarted college at the Higher Learning center in Idabel, Oklahoma that was anextension of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Durant, Oklahoma. Igraduated in May of 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.I was fortunate because I was able to take all of my classes at Idabel. Iattended graduation exercise at the University in Durant.
But the education, which youdon’t get from a book and has stuck with me the most, came from:
OJT (on the job training)
The “School of Hard Knocks”
The Lick place
I came into this world on ahot, sunny, Saturday afternoon on August 20, 1938 at home. Home at that timewas the old Lick place about 14 mile south of Swink. Dr. Boyar attended mymother’s needs. I found out later, that a ton of hay was the price paid, by mydad, for Dr. Boyar helping me into this world. My middle name, Carol, came from my mother’s middle name, which wasCarolyn. My cousin, Aria Caldwell, came to stay a few days with mother, to helpout after my birth and I understand she gave me the name, Roger.
In a conversation with mysecretary (Weyerhaeuser 1994-1998), Cecilia Westbrook, I learned that her greatgrandmother, known as “Pink” Lick, owned the place of my birth. Cecilia alsotold me that her mother remembers my mother and dad moving into the house, as afamily named Cooper was moving out. During the overlapping week, while both families were there, Mrs.Westbrook remembers that a lady, who knew the Cooper’s very well, spent the nightwith them. She said the lady had a very young child with very black hair. Thewoman also had several older children. She is sure the woman’s husband’s namewas Tollie. That woman was my mother and the black haired baby was me. When Itold my sister, Charlene, said that cousin Addy May Caldwell’s maiden name wasCooper and her mother’s name was Maud. Maud was the name that Mrs. Westbrookrecalled. I tell this just to show how small the world really is.
The Stell place
My first memory is of a fall morningon the Stell place. My dad is ready to go squirrel hunting and I am cryingbecause my eyes are burning. Mother goes out to stop dad before he leaves, totell him something is wrong with me. I tell dad I will be OK and to go aheadand go hunting. My problem was hot pepper juice on my hands. I had played in mybaby bed that morning, which was located in the dining room by a window. Therewere hot pepper pods drying on the windowsill. I had played with the pods, andthen rubbed my eyes. The juice on my hands got into my eyes, causing them toburn. I told dad to go ahead and go hunting and I would be fine as soon as Ihad my cup of coffee. Yes, like everyone else, I had to have my cup of coffeethe very first thing every morning. I am told that my dad gave me my firstteaspoon of coffee when I was six weeks old. Yes, he went hunting but I don’tremember if he killed any squirrels or not.
My folks were always afraidof stormy weather. Going to a storm cellar when a storm cloud came up became apart of life, growing up in Oklahoma. Many nights, mother and dad woke us inthe middle of the night and by lantern light, they lead us to the cellar.Sometimes we sat for hours waiting for the storm to pass. The Stell Place did not have a cellar. Atrip on brother Sidney’s back, late one afternoon with us trying to find acellar, became my first memory of stormy weather. Dad was not home so momdecided we should go to the closest storm cellar. We were trying to reach theold Wilson place where the Ad Taylor family lived. Their place, located aboutone and one-quarter miles from our house, had a storm cellar. I remember ridingon Sidney’s back and we were ahead of mom and the other kids. The rain wascoming down in sheets and my brother, Sidney, darted under a bridge forprotection but my mother did not see him. Sis says, “When mom got to the Taylorhouse and could not find her baby, she almost went into orbit.” She just knew herlittle boy had been taken away by the storm. Getting back home from work thatnight, my dad came in with a mouse in his pocket. After catching the mouse, dadpulled its teeth and tied a string around the mouse’s neck so I could play withit. The mouse trick is something my dad did for the rest of his life, whenthere were kids around. Yes, he de-toothed many mice for my kids to playwith. Today animal activist groupswould scream cruelty to animals.
I tried the barber professionwhile we lived at the Stell place. I had a little black and white spotted puppythat was a longhaired bundle of happiness. I decided that, since it was summertime, he was too hot with the long hair. I found a pair of scissors and goingto the backside of the house, I proceeded to cut his hair. I was about half waythrough the hair cut when mom caught me. Needless to say, I have not given anymore hair since that day.
Licorice became my firstrecollection of candy. I remember watching with anticipation, for Mr. Guttry, afriend of the family, to come riding through the barbwire gate at the end ofthe lane leading to our house, knowing he had licorice in his pocket for me.
The Guttery (Goad) place
My dad was very sick onewinter and spent several days in bed. The bed was in the living room, close tothe fire. One morning, as I played around the foot of the bed with the Negrodoll I received for Christmas, I laid the doll at the foot of the bed. As dadmoved, the doll fell to the floor and cracked its head. I was very upset but my mother patched thedoll’s head and made everything OK. The doll remained with me for many years,until I gave it to my daughter, Toni, who still has the doll today.
There was a porch thatextended to almost the full front length of the house. The flooring of abouthalf the porch on the south end was rotten and falling in. One early fallSunday afternoon we had company and everyone was outside setting on the porch.There were children there and we were all running and jumping. I jumped off theporch and landed on a rotten section of an old rotten board with an old rusty20-penny nail protruding straight up. The nail stuck very deep into myheel. Someone came to my rescue andhelped me pull the nail from my foot. Today a hospital emergency room and at tetanusshot would be the first order of business. Not then. DR MOM made a poultice ofsugar and kerosene, which I wore for several days. I don’t remember my heeleven getting sore.
Dad did go for a tetanus shotwhile we were living at the Goad place. Dad and brother Tommy were unloadinghay one afternoon into the loft of the barn. Tommy was in the loft and dad wasworking out of the bed of the wagon. As dad handed a bale of hay up, Tommyreached down to hook it with his hay hook. He hooked dad’s hand in the meatypart between the thumb and first finger. Dad must have been afraid it would getinfected because he saddled up the horse and went to the doctor.
I started to school while welived at this place. I can remember cold frosty mornings when we walked about aquarter of a mile down the old black land lane to the gravel road where theschool bus picked us up. About half way to the gravel was a steep hill withseveral large limestone rocks in it. On the west side of the lane, just at thetop of the hill, was a small house where Mr. Gutry would stay when he wouldcome down to get away from the city.
Aunt Susie Byram’s place
Aunt Susie, who owned theplace my dad rented, was an Indian lady. There was two houses, one very bighouse, or it seamed that way to me, and one small house. Aunt Susie lived inthe big house by herself. I canremember mom and I visiting her and setting in the large living room. There wasa large pendulum clock in the wall. I could hear the echo of the tic-tockthroughout the house. I thought this house was the greatest. Dad tried to buythe place once and I really wanted him to get it. There was a set of stairsleading up to a small room in the attic and I could picture that as my ownroom. My bubble burst when the deal did not go through.
Thursday, April 12, 1945would become a very historical day. Mom and I had been home alone. Dad had goneto town, for what reason I do not know, maybe to get us a few groceries. Wedidn’t need many because dad raised most everything we ate except a few stapleitems. Maybe he went for some seed for the spring planting. It had beenstorming. Mom had been listening to our trusty radio hearing the two historymaking events of the day. First atornado struck Antlers and almost wiped it off the map. Second PresidentRoosevelt died. Late in the afternoon I listened very intently for the sound ofthe iron wagon wheels on the gravel road to let me know that dad was coming. Iran down the road, jump on the wagon as it was still moving and told him of thedays' events.
In the fall of 1945 daddecided to become a city dude. He sold everything and moved to Hugo. We livedin a duplex just across the street from Aunt Violet and Uncle Lawrence. Dadworked for Uncle Lawrence at his plumbing shop. Our next-door neighbors werenamed Winn. They had two girls but I cannot remember their names. I remembermom telling the story many times about the girls asking their mother why thelady next door had a little Mexican boy. Because I had such a dark tan andblack hair they just knew I was a Mexican boy.
I went to school there forhalf my second grade and half my third grade school year. I can only remembertwo things from school. First there was a little girl that I thought was theprettiest thing I had ever seen. I can only remember that her last name wasGolden. Second they had a Golden Gloves boxing team and I was on the team. Istill remember that I really wanted to continue boxing but we had to move andthe only boxing team Swink had was bare fist, back alley. That wasn’t for me.
While living in Hugo I wentto the movie theater for the first time. I will never forget the awe ofwatching the movie. It was “Red River” staring John Wayne. I have watched itmany times since then and it remains one of my favorites.
The Stanley (Denny Byrd) place
Dad had gone to town one daywhen a very bad storm cloud came up. We had a storm cellar in the front yardand mom and I went to it. I remember how pitch-black it was and then all of asudden the inside of the cellar lit up like a ball of fire. After the storm wasover we went back in the house. I was playing and happened to look behind theradio where I found a large black spot on the wall. The radio antenna came inthrough the window and also the ground for the radio. Any time it is stormingyou unhook the antenna and the ground and hook them together so if lightningstrikes the radio will not be hurt. Well, lightning struck one of the two treesthe antenna was strung between and the black spot was from the ball of firethat came through the house. That was the second time lightning had struck thistree. The first was before we moved there and a horse had been killed thattime.
As in other places we hadlived, we had no electricity in our house. I remember during the summer we had an ice deliveryman come by thehouse. I believe it was every other day. We would usually get a 50 LB block ofice. He also had packages of Kool Aidfor sale for, I believe, a nickel. Every once in a while, mom would buy a package for us. That was a realtreat.
Dad bailed hay during thesummer to feed our cows in the winter. I was too little to do very much in themeadow but in 1948 I went to the meadow every day. The hay bailer that dad usedwas mule powered. The mules went around in circles to supply the power for thebailer. I would walk behind them to keep them going.
Every so often the bailerwould have to be moved to keep it close to the supply of hay. To do that meantjacking it up, putting wheels on it, moving it, and setting it down. BrotherTommy was home one summer and helping dad bail hay. We had just moved thebailer and were setting it down. Tommy and dad were cleaning the loose hay fromunder the bailer before setting it down. They would rake it up with a pitchforkthen throw it behind them. I walked up behind brother Tommy. He did not see me.He threw a fork of hay at the same time and the pitchfork tine struck me in theleft leg about half way between the knee and hip sticking quite deep into myleg. Dad got very excited trying to decide what to do. Ben Crow, one of theworkers, owned a car and had driven it to work that day. Dad asked Ben to carryme to see Dr. Boyer in Ft Towson. The doc gave me a tetanus shot and sent meback home. I did not go back to the meadow that day. I also learn a lesson thatday because I never again walked up behind anyone when they were cleaning hayfrom under a bailer.
I received a book from Santaone Christmas, while living at the Stanley place. Santa even signed the book. Ihad never seen Santa’s signature but the writing sure did look familiar. I alsoreceived a jacket from Santa that same Christmas. Santa really wanted to makesure that it fit because he had mom and dad have me try it on, under thepretense that it was for our neighbor's nephew.
Mom‘s washing machine was theold fashion kind with running water. The water ran when I did. We had a well pump for water and by thistime I was big enough to do most of the pumping. I would have to fill the washpot with water then build a fire to heat it. When the water was hot, in wentclothes and lye soap so they could boil. We also had to stir them with a stick.When the large bulky items were finished and ready to come out, I would helpmom wring out the water. She then hung them on a close line, to dry.
In the spring of 1949 dadthought I was big enough to work in the field so he started taking me to thefield to chop cotton and hoe corn. That fall dad took me with him to theBlackard farm on Red River to pick cotton. I worked as hard as I could that daybut only picked 99 pounds. I never went back.
In June of 1949 my sister,Charlene, was getting married in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mother and I rodea Grey Hound Buss out so we could attend the wedding. Mother bought me a newpair of tennis shoes to wear and they rubbed a blister on my heel while on thebuss. It became infected and so sore I could not wear shoes so my brothers,John and Tommy, bought me a pair of sandals to wear to the wedding so I wouldnot have to go barefoot. When I received my invitation to Charlene and George’s50th wedding anniversary reception I called her and ask if I couldwear sandals to the reception. She said “of course.” I ask her if she knew whyI wanted to wear sandals and she replied, “Yes, you wore sandals to mywedding.” I did wear shoes to the reception.
The Duke place
I was accustomed to theschool bus picking me up right in front of the house, before we moved from theStanley place. The Duke place was about one and one half miles southwest ofSwink and at the end of the road. The road was a black land road with nogravel. As there were no other children living on the road and therefore, noschool bus route, I had to walk to school. However this did not bother me. Ourneighbors, Raymond and Ethel Miller, who lived between town and us, had a largePear tree in their front yard. In the fall I would pick one of the deliciouspears to eat almost every morning on my way to school.
If you have never stepped ona snake with bare feet, you just don’t know how much that makes the adrenalineflow. I always went bare foot in the summertime. I was coming back from townlate one afternoon and had just stepped out of the woods east of the house.Between the house and the woods, a distance of maybe a city block, was aclearing. The grass in this clearing was no more than six inches tall except aplace right in the center, which was approximately twenty feet in diameter. Thegrass in this section was about waist high. It had grown up because there wassome brush in it and the cows ate around it. I told myself that I was justgoing to walk through the middle instead of going around. Well, I got right inthe middle and felt something moving under my foot. I don’t know whether thesnake or I was more scared but I almost jumped clear out of the tall grass. Ialso felt goose bumps all over me. When I looked down I saw a big black snakeabout six feet long heading out of the grass and for the woods. I never wentthrough that tall grass again.
I remember the first time dadlet me carry a gun into the woods by myself. He owned a single shot Twenty-Twothat I had carried squirrel hunting with him, many times. Dad had taught me howto handle it very well. I don’tremember how it came up but I was going into the woods late one afternoon, justwalking as I often did. I remember thinking how good it would be to carry a gunby myself. Guess I just ask and dad said OK. I also decided I was a good shotthat afternoon because I killed a rabbit on the run. I didn’t bring it home to eat, though, because at that time youwere not suppose to eat rabbit because many of them had rabbit fever.
I normally got alongexcellently with all dogs. In fact,dogs that would let no one except their master touch them would let me petthem. But the Langford’s, who bought Raymond Miller’s place between our houseand town, had a collie that was different. He just hated me for some reason.Every time I walked down the road in front of their house he would run at me.One day he bit at my leg tearing my pants leg and putting a tooth mark in thetop part of the pair of combat boots I wore. I had several routes I could taketo town and it got to the point where I would use them instead of gong by theLangford house.
One dark cloudy night aboutmidnight I was taking a route through an open meadow going home from a friend’shouse in Swink where I had been visiting. You could hardly see your hand atarm’s length. As I walked through a large patch of sage grass about knee high,I thought the world was coming to and END. Of the several routes I traveled, on this night I chose this routebecause it took me through this open meadow and well behind Mr. Langford’shouse and his dog. I was about in the middle of the large meadow when all of asudden I stepped in the middle of a covey of quails. I don’t know who wasscared the most, the quail or me. I thought the devil done got me. Quailsscattered in every direction. My hair stood on end. Goose bumps popped up onall parts of my body. I have never heard such a noise in all my life.
On a dark and stormingmoonless night my friend Leon Hughes and I were walking home from town. It hadbeen raining and all the creeks were out of their banks. We had to cross acreek to get home no matter which direction we went. Because of all the rain, the creeks were high. We knew we could crossthe creek by walking the large polls that dad and I had placed across thecreek, by the road. We had tied these poles, along with small poles forhandrails, to trees, to use as a walk when the creeks were up. For that reasonwe had decided to stay on the road that night. As we made the last turn in theroad, low and behold, we saw in front of us but across the creek, some kind oflarge round light bobbing up and down. We had never seen anything like thisbefore. What an eerie feeling it gave us. We speculated on Martians andeverything else we could think of. It just kept on coming, very slow, moving upand down. We knew we had to keep on going so we found us sticks, in case weneeded to try and defend ourselves. We got to the creek first and decided tocross. We then started calling to it to see if it would answer. Finally my momcalled out to us. We were quiet relieved. Mom knew about what time we would becoming home. Knowing we did not have a light to see by, on this dark night, shedecided to come and meet us with a lantern for light, while crossing the creek.She just didn’t know how bad she would scare us that night.
I was a Boy Scout during thistime and attended two summer camps. Norman Jones, who was principal of theSwink School, was our scoutmaster. The Jones family will play another importantrole in my life at a later date. The first camp I attended was at Lake Bonham,Bonham, Texas. I wrote mom and dad a post card while at camp. I still have thepost card. The second camp was at Derricks Scout Camp on Glover River. This wasa brand new scout camp, which opened that year. My troop attended the firstweek, so we were truly pioneers of the camp.
When I came back from thefirst Boy Scout Camp I could swim. I always told mom and dad that I learned toswim at Scout Camp but I had really learned earlier by slipping off with acouple of my buddies, Don Spenser and Jerry Herd, and going swimming in stockponds. After I retired from the Navy and came home I finally told mom and dadthe truth.
My First Summer’s work
At age 14 and just after Icompleted my freshman year, brothers John & Tommy decided it was time Istarted learning the plumbing trade. They both worked for Raymond Barns atAnchor Plumbing in Arlington, Texas. They told Raymond that they had a brotherwho needed a job and he let me work that summer. I made $1.00 per hour wages.The only thing I did that summer besides work was go to a weekend scout campwith Densil Huff’s scout troop at Devil’s Den which was in Oklahoma. Densil wasRaymond’s partner. At the end of summer I went back home to go to school at FtTowson.
Back to the Farm
As soon as school was out in1954, I went back to Arlington, Texas to work as a plumber’s helper, again. On my first trip home, I found out that Mr.Jones had a block of land in Swink for sale for $475.00. I knew my dad wanted that land. I talkedwith dad and told him if he would make a deal with Mr. Jones for the land, Iwould save all of my money that summer and pay for it at summer’s end. Dad made the deal and at the end of thesummer I brought him the money. In 1956 he built a house on it and he andmother lived there until their deaths.
At the end of summer Iremained in Arlington, Texas. I wasliving with Tommy and going to school while working after school. I turned 16in August and got my drivers license in September. I did have to take thedriving test twice. Tommy started letting me drive his car. One Friday night,shortly after I started driving, a buddy, Billy Clark, and I went to thedrive-in movie. He met a girl he knew, there. His sister, Meredith, was alsothere with a friend and Billy introduced us. That friend was Peggy Janette Cox,who later became my wife.
I ask Peggy for a date thenext night, which was Saturday night, and she said yes. I again had Tommy’s1954 Ford to drive. Peggy’s family was already kidding her about her richboyfriend with the new car. The next night, was Sunday night and there was aparty at Billy’s church. He wantedPeggy and I to go. She said yes but I could not get Tommy’s car again so Icalled my brother, John. He let me use the company truck. Peggy really got arazing about me having to use thecompany truck. After that Peggy, her brother Bobby and his girlfriend Noble,and I were almost inseparable. We spent lots of time at the movies and skatingrink. We also ate lots of hamburgers at the Rockefeller Cafe.
I did not do well, the firstsemester of my junior year. I skipped 56 days of that semester. Peggy wouldalways sign my excuse note to school and it took the school a long time tocatch on to us. One day the school called Tommy and he had to go to school withme because they had expelled me. After that I settled down and went to schoolevery day. Needless to say I did not pass all of my classes that semester.
I spent the summer of 1955working. Brother John had his own plumbing business by then. I started mysenior year of school but I just could not get interested. I had become too independent by that time.In August I ask my mom and dad to sign the papers allowing me to join the navybut they would not. All of their kids had graduated from high school and theywanted me to do the same. I know it broke their heart but the first of Octoberthey finally said yes. That was a decision they would not later regret becauseI became the first and only one of their children to graduate from college. Iwent to the navy recruiter that day. He did all he could to talk me out ofquitting school. I told him that I had always waned the Navy but if he wouldnot enlist me I would just go down the hall to the Army, Air Force or Marines.I knew one of them would take me. But after just six weeks of my senior year,he did enlist me and I quit school and joined the navy. He told me that becauseI was not a high school graduate, the only thing he could guarantee me was thatI was in the Navy. I told him that is all I wanted, that I would do the rest. Inever regretted that decision.
San Diego Bound
On October 26, 1955 I caughta bus from Arlington To Dallas. I tookmy physical, was sworn in and at about 1:00 am the next morning, I boarded anairplane, DC3, for San Diego, California. This was my first plane ride and I didnot know what to expect. We taxied out to the runway and got in position totake off. I had a window seat just over the wing. When they revved the enginesand started down the runway, flames shot out of the engine next to me and Ithought it was on fire. I thought, for sure, that they would put it out or turnaround but nothing happened. We got airborne and I decided if it didn’t botherthem it wouldn’t bother me, so I just went to sleep. I was sick with a sorethroat, anyway. When I woke up, we wereready to land in San Diego.
I really enjoyed boot camp. Alot of the guys were very homesick because it was their first time away frommother and daddy but it did not bother me. I saw a lot of them crying becausethey were so homesick. I met young men in my company who had received a highschool diploma but could not even read or write. I had to read the letters hereceived from home to him. No, he did not make it through boot camp. He couldnot pass the written test.
My company commander, Mr.Turnipseed, appointed me master-at-arms of the company. After that I had the8-12 barracks watch every morning so I could be there for barracks inspection.
The reviewing officer forgraduation was Admiral Arlie A Burk. My cousin, James Milner, had served aboarda navy destroyer with Admiral Burk during WW ll. At that time Burk was aCaptain commanding the squadron of destroyers.
Home on Leave
After completing our fourthweeks of training, just before Christmas, we were given two weeks leave. Iboarded a Greyhound Bus and headed for home. Of course I had to stop byArlington to see Peggy before going on to mom and dad’s in Swink. Peg knew aboutwhat time I would be in and we had made arrangements to meet at a café on MainStreet where we always hung out. The next night we went to the drive-in. Ifound out that a lot of the girls were eyeing the guy in the sailor uniform butwere told by others to leave him alone because he was taken.
I then went to Swink forChristmas. Brother Tommy and family were coming over for Christmas, so we madeplans for Peg to come with them. To this point she had never been to the bigcity of Swink. She was not use to having kerosene lights, wood heat and norunning water. She was sure not ready for the outside toilet. Peg did surviveand in later years we made Swink our home for 20 years, but the conditions hadchanged considerably, by then. I went back to Arlington with Tommy and a coupleof days later it was back to San Diego.
While on my first liberty Iwent downtown, San Diego. As I was walking down the busy streets I past theDick Terrill Jewelers store. I knew by that time that I wanted Peg for my wifeso I went in to look at the rings and I bought a set. This set of rings willplay an important part of our life. The Jeweler sent the engagement ring toPeg, but I had the wedding ring sent to my mother for safekeeping. I wrote moma letter to tell her about the ring but the ring arrived first. In later years Pearl McDougle, thepostmistress, told me that when the ring came in, mom had opened it and thoughtit was for her. She was so proud of it. She had never had a wedding ring. Acouple of days later, when the letter got there, she told Pearl what the ringwas really for. Pearl told me how disappointed she was but she put the ringaway and never told me. Years later,for their 50th wedding anniversary, dad bought mom a wedding ring.After I found out what really happened, I never really got over thedisappointment I caused her. Peg received the letter from me and wrote me back,saying she would marry me. We planned on being married when I came home onleave, after boot camp.
At the end of boot camp, myorders came in and I was headed for the USS Piedmont, AD 17; a destroyer tenderthat was home ported in San Diego but at the time it was in Bremerton,Washington going through a yard overhaul. Just after graduation I again boardeda Greyhound Bus headed for Arlington. I spent a couple of days there and thenon to Swink to see mom and dad.
We were both too young to getmarried without our parents’ consent. As soon as I got home I ask mom if shewould sign the consent form and she said yes. Mom and I went to the courthousein Hugo, Oklahoma to have the paperwork completed. The lady at the courthousesaid that consent made no difference. You had to be 18 to be married inOklahoma. I told the courthouse clerk to just fix the papers because I wasgetting married in Texas. She prepared them and mom signed. The following day, with four days of leaveleft, I headed for Arlington, Texas.
When I returned to ArlingtonPeg told me that her mother would not sign a consent form unless I ask her dad.I was sure he would not sign and I would not ask. On Friday morning, the lastday of my leave, Peg called me early in the morning to tell me that her motherhad changed her mind and would sign. As soon as I could get ready, we were offto get the form completed, a blood test and onward to Ft Worth to get ourmarriage license. We also called aminister, Bro. Bill Premerton, who was going to school at the seminary in Ft.Worth. He was also the minister of the church in Swink, going there every weekend.He agreed to perform the ceremony. We went to his house at 8:00 pm that nightand we were married. Peg’s brother, Bobby Cox, his girlfriend, Noble Briscoeand another friend Luther Joe Mosley, were the only people who attended. We didnot take any pictures. My brother Tommy still had the 1954 Ford we had used somany times and I borrowed it that night. At 6:30 am the next morning, I tookthe car home, woke him up to say goodbye, but I did not tell him that I wasmarried. I called a cab, which I rodeto the bus station and boarded a bus for Bremerton, Washington. At that time Ihad no idea when Peg and I would see each other, again.
Out First Apartment
Heading for the Far East
I had mixed emotions, the daywe pulled out of San Diego. I was getting to do what I had always wanted to do,which was to see the world, but I did not want to leave my wife, behind. I knewI would weather the storm and make the best of it. I would stand on the deckand look in awe, once we were out of sight of land and you could see nothingbut water. There is no place more beautiful than a sunset at sea on a clearcalm day but no place scarier than being on deck at night during a storm. Wespent 21 days crossing the ocean. The morning we came in sight of thePhilippine Islands, I was on deck at dawn, to see this far off land. I canstill remember getting my first look at the tropical forest of a foreigncountry. We entered port about mid-morning.
After a short stay in SubicBay, Philippines we were underway for Singapore. On our way we traveled southfar enough to cross the equator so we could go through initiation and all the“Pollywogs” could become "Shellback’s."That was quite an ordeal. We had three days of it. The first thing was theequator watch. They put a sailor astraddle the forward 5-inch gun mount in fowlweather gear and P Coat. Being in the tropics of course it was very hot. Ouruniform of the day was pants on backwards and many other crazy things. On theday of crossing all the pollywogs were charged with some crime and had toappear before the Royal Court. I was charged with trying to imitate ElvisPresley. Of course everyone was guilty. The first thing you had to do was kissthe Royal Baby’s belly. That would be the fattest person aboard with a barebelly covered with hot sauce, red pepper and anything else to make it hot. Nextwas the Royal Garbage Chute. We had saved garbage from the mess hall for threedays to fill it. The last thing was a dunk in the Royal Bathtub. This was towash the garbage off. This made you a true “Shellback.” They finished bywashing you down with a fire hose. It was really a lot of fun. After that it into Singapore for five days then back to Subic Bay.
From the Philippines we wentto Hong Kong for five days of R & R, rest and relaxation. Hong Kong becamemy favorite port-of-call. I was always in awe every time we pulled in. It was avery mysterious place. To walk the piers and look at the junks with peopleliving on them was totally unreal, to a boy from Oklahoma. You met people fromevery place in the world, there. It was the money market of the world. Youcould find money from every country. You could walk down street and find wholefamilies sitting on the sidewalk in one small square, which was their home.They would have a small fire going to keep warm and would be eating from a bowlof rice, which was all the food, they had. Each family would have a bamboo matand maybe something to cover up with and that was all of their worldlypossessions, except the clothes on their backs.
From there we went to Japanfor a short stay and then we headed back to San Diego.
Home For Good; I Thought
I returned from what Ithought would be my last cruise, just before Christmas. Peg did not meet methis time because I was taking leave, so we could be home for Christmas. Shehad bought us a newer car by then, a 1955 Ford Victoria. The day afterChristmas we left for San Diego. It would be a month before the ship left for athree-month overhaul in the Todd Shipyard in San Francisco. Upon arrival in SanDiego we started looking for a house but no one would rent an apartment forjust one month. We then made the decision to go up to San Francisco, as I wouldbe right behind, on the ship.
We rented an apartment just off of Lake Merit, in Oakland. Thatmeant I would need to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, everyday, but we liked thearea. I commuted back and forth, from San Diego, almost every weekend, withfriends, until the ship came up. We became very close with Peg’s cousin MarryJoe and husband Ben who lived in the country, right outside of Danville, Ca.,about 25 miles from us. We were at their house every weekend that I didn’t haveduty. We would play Canasta all night, every Saturday night, and I do mean, allnight. We would quit about 5:30 am on Sunday morning. Ben always talked aboutmoving back to Oklahoma, where he was from originally.
Just as the ship was ready togo back to San Diego I moved Peg down and we rented an apartment in North Park.I spent the summer trying to decide whether I wanted to re-enlist or take mydischarge and go home to work for my brother, John. I thought I wanted to stayin the navy but decided I should get out first, to make sure. I had threemonths before losing my re-enlistment bonus. Peg told me if I wanted tore-enlist, to go ahead but I finally made the decision to leave the navy.
On August 19, 1959 we packedup and headed for Arlington, Texas. Ben had decided he was going to Oklahoma, so Jodie and the kids rodeback with us. He would follow as soon as he got everything settled. He nevermade it back. He got a good job and Jody and the kids went back to California.
After a short trip to Swinkto see mom and dad we rented a house in Grand Prairie, TX. I went to work formy brother, John, at his plumbing shop. My brother, Tommy, was a member of thepipe fitters local in Ft Worth and he worked for General Motors, in Arlington.Tommy arranged for me to interview for the union’s apprentice program. I wasaccepted right away and told I could start school in January 1960. Peg wanted alittle one so badly. She even had a baby bed in our spare bedroom and kept adoll in it.
One night in mid October astorm came up right after we went to bed and fell sleep. I woke up and rememberthe windows were up and I was afraid it would rain in, so I got up to close thewindow in the kitchen. It was the crank out kind but the crank was broken. Igrabbed it and pulled but it did not close. Even though the frame was metal Iwas about half asleep and thought the frame had swollen from the rain so Igrabbed it again and pulled hard. The wind caught it at the same time andslammed it hard as I yanked my hand out. I didn’t get my hand out in time andpealed the hide off the top of all my fingers. I called out and Peg camerunning into the kitchen. She turned onthe light and saw me holding my hand. As she looked, all she could see was skinand blood. She thought I had cut off my fingers. I convinced her that I hadn’tbut she was so scared she called her dad, who lived in Grand Prairie at thetime, and ask him to carry us to the emergency room. She went to pick him upbut really he lived farther than the hospital. I had grown accustomed to havingall my medical bills taken care of, by the navy, and it was a rude awakeningwhen it cost me $48.00, about a week’s wages, for the emergency room.
One afternoon, shortlyafterward, while I was working by myself in the shop, I started thinking. If Istayed here in Arlington, and started school in January, I would still be herein forty or so years and there was a lot of this world I still wanted to see. Istopped working and went to the phone to make an appointment with the recruiterand I meet him the next morning at 7:00 am. When I got home that night and satdown to eat, I ask Peg what she would say if I told her I was going back intothe navy. Her reply was, “When are we leaving?” We talked and she told me thatshe wanted what I wanted, because if I was not happy we would not be happy. Thenext morning I called my brother, John and told him that I would be a littlelate. He asked why and I told him that I was meeting the recruiter at thecoffee shop. John came by and bought coffee.
After talking with therecruiter at 7 am, the next morning, about what I wanted, he told me that hewould call BuPers right away and bring me a set of orders the same night. ThenI could go to Dallas, the next day, which was Friday, to take my physical andbe sworn in. Early the next morning, I went to Dallas, took my physical andreceived my orders for deep-sea diving school. I then started three weeks leave. I was out by noon and went bythe Dallas Air Naval Reserve Station and made arrangements to have my furniturepicked up the next day, which was Saturday.
The next morning they pickedup our furniture and by noon we were on our way to Swink, to see mom and dad.They did not know at that time that I had re-enlisted. Mom said it did notsurprise her. She didn’t think I would stay out of the navy, for long. We leftSwink on Monday morning for Washington D.C.
It was the first of Novemberand we had a beautiful drive up through the Smokey Mountains. Peg was sick andeven quit smoking and drinking coffee on the way up. It was the first timeeither of us had been in this part of the country. It had snowed earlier andeven though there was no snow on the highway, all the countryside was covered.
We rented a small apartmentin Anastasia, Maryland, which was about 10 miles from the base. We found outright away why Peg had been so sick on the way up. She was pregnant again andwe were so excited. We went to Virginia and spent a weekend on Author Godfrey’sranch, with friends, Jr. and Willie Maud Stanley, from Swink. Jr’s dad was principle of the Swink school,when I went there and Willie Maud’s sister, Wanda Cheshire, and I were very goodfriends. We visited the capital building and saw what we could of Washington,D.C. In December I started school but Igot some bad news the first week. When they x-rayed my lungs, I had scar tissueon my right lung, probably caused by a near case of pneumonia and I wasdisqualified from diving. I would be receiving orders soon.
We spent Christmas inMaryland that year and in late January my orders finally came in. I was on myway to a survey ship, USS Maury, which was currently at port in New York Citybut would be changing its homeport to Hawaii. I would have to catch the ship inNew York City and ride it to Hawaii through the Panama Canal. We would arrivein late June. We had our furniture shipped to Hawaii and Peg would meet methere, in June.
I took two weeks leave andtook Peg home to stay until she could leave for Hawaii. By that time she couldnot stay around smoke because of her pregnancy. She had quit smoking and shecould not even stand for me to smoke in the car. The weather was very cold. Infact it was colder in Georgia, as we passed through, than it was in Alaska. Wehad to wear our heavy coats in the car to stay warm.
After my two weeks leave, Iboarded a Greyhound bus heading for my first view of New York City. I arrivedjust after noon, on Friday. After getting off the bus, I had no idea whichdirection to head in order to find the pier, so I stopped a guy and ask. Hisreply, “I have no idea but you can go to that information window and they willtell you.” I went and I ask. They gave meabout five different subway changes that I would have to make and I knew Iwould never find the ship. I decided I was going to ride a cab. I didn’t care what it cost. I found a cab and ask the driver how much itwould cost to take me to the pier and he said $5.50. I could hardly believe my ears. He said he would turn off themeter so it would not cost me more and he did. It took us almost an hour to getthere. He knew this was my first time in the city so he told me all about it.
When I finally got to thepier I looked down at the fantail and saw nothing but rust. All the ships I hadbeen around on the West Coast were always so clean and well kept. This ship wasso dirty I that didn’t even want to go aboard but I had no choice. Just as soonas I got aboard I found out that I would be in charge of the shipfitter shop.The ship carried 3,000 gallons of mobile gasoline for its vehicles and 6,000gallons of aviation gasoline for its helicopter. On Saturday I got my first taste of being in charge of arefueling detail, because we had to refuel. Early Monday morning we got underway.
The second day out and justoff of Cape Hatteras, we hit rough weather. About 1:00 pm on the second day ofrough weather we started smelling gasoline. After investigation we found that three gasoline tanks, whichresembled propane tanks and were located in the bottom of a cargo hole, wereleaking. Another ship fitter and I wentdown to investigate and we tried to repair the leak but it could not be repaired.We eventually had to pump all 9,000 gallons of gasoline overboard. The weather calmed down the following day.
The Panama Canal
San Diego again
When I left San Diego theprevious August, I never thought I would see it again but here I was, oncemore. As soon as the ship was tied up,we were given liberty. I could hardly wait to get to town so I could call Pegand find out how she and the baby were doing. When I made that call I got somevery bad news. Peg had just arrivedhome from the hospital. She had amiscarriage the same day we passed through the Canal. She would not let anyonecontact me because she knew I could not get home. I was very low at that timebecause I could not get home to take care of her.
I was not the only one whothought the ship was a mess. We were not supposed to have any kind ofinspection while we were there, just R & R for five days. On the third daythere, we had an Admiral come aboard for a visit and he did not like what hesaw. He told our Captain to get that ship to sea and get it cleaned up beforewe got to Hawaii. The Admiral said,"This is the dirtiest ship in the Pacific Fleet." The next morning we were underway forHawaii. We went to work at 7:00 AM every morning and painted the ship from topto bottom. We even laid to, the morning we arrived in Hawaii and put sailorsover the side to paint the sides of the ship to the waterline. We had aninspection as soon as we tied up and needless to say, we flunked.
We were in Hawaii for just afew days, and then we were on to the Gulf of Siam for three months. Our badname stayed with us and every time we would pull into port someplace, we wouldhave an inspection before liberty would start. We finally got back to Hawaiithe last of June.
About 7:00 PM one evening acouple of days after we arrived I got a call from the radioman that I had amessage in the radio shack. I went up to get it and it was from Peg. All shesaid was that she was in San Francisco, waiting on a flight and gave me thetime when she would be arriving in Hawaii, which was the next night. That wasquite a surprise because I had no idea she was even on her way. I had not even been to Naval Housing yet.You can bet, I went the next morning and believe it or not, I got a house. That was on Friday and we could move in onMonday.
We knew we only had threemonths before I would have to leave again and we did all we could to enjoy theisland and the time. We would drive around the island and visit the beaches.One special treat was to go to the pineapple field and buy a plate of ice coldpineapple from a stand they had set up in the field and we sat at one of theirpicnic tables and eat it all. There is nothing better than pineapple right offthe plant.
I had always had a lot of problems with my tonsils and while inthe gulf, the ship’s doctor saw how bad they really were. He promised that hewould get me into the hospital to have them removed and he did. At that timethey were really afraid of infection in an adult, so they kept me in the hospitalfor 10 days. Peg could only visit during visiting hours but she was alwaysthere twice a day. I got out of the hospital on Friday and got to spend theweekend at home before the ship got underway on Monday for five days ofunderway training. We pulled into port from that on Friday and the next Mondaymorning time had ran out for us, we left for nine months in the Gulf of Siam.
When we pulled into Guam twoweeks later I got two letters, one from mom telling me that dad had just hadhis fifth heart attack and one from Peg telling me the same thing and that shewas leaving for Oklahoma. They kept sending our mail to the wrong port and Ididn’t get another letter until Christmas Day, in Hong Kong. I was about readyto go out of my mind worrying about dad and Peg. I even tried to get theChaplin to contact the Red Cross but he wouldn’t. He said if I didn’t hear inHong Kong, he would try. Dad did get better, Peg came back to Hawaii and wereceived mail on a regular basis after that. We made it back to Hawaii thefollowing June and not a bit too soon for Peg and me.
We had three months before Iwould have to leave again so we were determined to make the best of it. We alsogot the good news just before time to leave that Peg was pregnant again. I found out about two weeks before time toleave that my orders for shore duty were on the way. I got my orders forRecruit training Command in San Diego, California, just a few days before wewere to leave but I couldn’t leave the ship until December. We made quickarrangements to ship our furniture and we sold our car so Peg could go aheadand leave for the states. She would go home until I got back in December.
I left the USS Maury inBangkok, Thailand. It was about midDecember 1961. I flew into Travis AFB,California and then on to Dallas, Texas. Peg and I spent Christmas at home, and then we went back to SanDiego. We rented a small one-bedroom housein North Park, which was located behind the owner’s home. It had lemon trees inthe front yard and we were always making fresh lemonade. Just after the first of January, I started12 weeks of school, preparing me for training recruits. After school, Ireceived my first company of recruits on the first of April.
I will never forget the firstnight with my first company. It was formed late in the afternoon and there wereseveral things that had to be done before you could let them go to bed. One wasto fill out what was called a hard card. The hard card is where you collect allof their personal information, so you know something about them. We always hada series of five questions we ask. Oneof which was, “other than for traffic tickets, how many times have you beenarrested and for what?” When I ask the question, one little guy in the backraised his hand and said, Sir, how many arrests do you want?” I replied, “Allof them.” He said, “But sir, there isn’t enough room for all of them.” I ask, "Howmany times have you been arrested?” He replied, “Sixteen.” I told him to justput down the five worse ones. Beforethe next morning it was discovered that he was only sixteen years old, so theypulled him from my company and discharged him.
April 27, 1962 was a veryhappy day for Peg and me because it was the day, rather night, that our firstchild, Toni, was born at Scripts Memorial Hospital. I saw her just after shewas born and thought something was wrong with her because her forehead wasflat. Peg started massaging it and she turned out to be a beautiful littlegirl. Peg’s sister, Pat, came out just before Toni was born to help Peg whenshe got home from the hospital. We knew from the start we would have to movewhen our child was born because the owner did not rent to children.
We had talked about tryingour hand at managing apartments. I started looking and in May found anapartment house with eight units, in Pacific Beach. I met with the owner and hegave us the job. We only paid $50.00 rent for a two-bedroom apartment, whichwas just three blocks from the beach. Iwas paid extra for any maintenance work that I did. It wasn’t long until I was making enough to pay all of our rent.The owner liked my work and introduced me to a realtor who had overallmanagement of an apartment he owned in La Jolla, as well as others. She kept me busy working someplace, everyfree minute I had. I wound up having a good second income.
After I finished with my twocompanies that I had to train back-to-back. I went to the Fire Fighting School,as an instructor. Because I normally only worked two days a week, I had moretime on my hands than I knew what to do with. My maintenance work had alsoslowed down so I started looking for something else to do.
I had heard that some of thecompany commanders were working part-time for moving companies, so I got aphone book one afternoon and found a company called Cole Van Line, located inLa Jolla. I called the manager and toldhim I was looking for part-time work. Gene, the manager, ask if I had any experience and I told him no. Ifigured that was the end of it but he said, “I don’t talk to people on thephone but if you come by, I will talk with you.” After I hung up the phone Iwent to the company. After spending a few minutes talking with me, Gene told mehe would try me as soon as he needed someone. I told him I would work fornothing for him to give me a try. Other than that we didn’t talk about wages.About three weeks later I got a call to work the next day. I helped a driverunload 40,000 pounds of furniture from a truck. That afternoon I was so tiredthat I thought I had really made a mistake. When I got my first check I foundout I was making $2.75 an hour, which was union scale. All the other companycommanders working other places were only making $1.25 an hour. I received another call in a few days anddecided to try it again. It turned outto be an excellent job. Everyone I worked with liked my work and when I wasworking, they wanted me with them. I wound up working every free day that Iwanted to work. I also continued my maintenance work.
Peg woke me up early, on themorning of June 11, 1963 and told me she thought it was time to go to thehospital. She was expecting,again. Sandy, her sister, was there tostay with Toni, so we got ready and headed for Scripts Memorial Hospital, whichwas located in La Jolla. I made the mistake of not going by earlier, to locateit, and we got lost trying to find it, but we made it. We got her checked intoa room by about 7 AM. The doctor cameby and checked her at 7:30 and told me to go home and come back about 11:00because that was about the time she would deliver. I left the room about 8:00and as I started out the front door they paged me. By the time I got back towere she was, Terry had already arrived in this world. Boy that was close. I’msure glad that it didn’t happen while we were lost.
Where was I when President Kennedy was shot?
On November 22, 1963 I waspainting a vacant apartment and listening to the radio when the news brokeabout President John F. Kennedy being shot. It stunned me so much I took a break and went to our apartment. I neededto call the base to check on my work schedule and thought that it would be a goodtime to do it. When I called, the operator told me that there was a nationalemergency and no calls were being allowed through. That is how fast they lockedthe base down.
Our First Home
By this time we had twochildren, one girl and one boy. As we only had a two-bedroom apartment, we knewwe would soon need more room. In the spring of 1964, we decided that if we wereever going to buy a house, it was time to do it, even though I would bereceiving orders the next year. We started looking and in April found a threebedroom in Claremont that we liked. It was a repossession that had just beencompletely re-done. After the paperwork, we moved into our first home. Icontinued to work at the moving company and of course started lots of yardwork. Peg had quit Handyman when we moved into our new house. Handyman hadbuilt a new store in Claremont about two miles from where we lived. They calledher just before they opened and wanted her to take the head cashier job and shedid. I kept my fingers crossed that when my orders came through, I would stayin San Diego and in the February of 1965, my wish came true. I received ordersto the USS Koka.
The Tug Boat
Leaving the Recruit TrainingCenter, I found out what it was like to bounce on the waves as a small shipsailor. My home for the next eighteenmonths became a 185-foot tugboat, the USS Koka ATA 185. Our main job consistedof towing ammunition barges between San Diego and Seal Beach, just outside ofLong Beach, California. At times we would go as far north as Bremerton,Washington and once as far south as the Panama Canal.
About three weeks after goingaboard, we received orders to tow a C3 hull cargo ship loaded with obsoleteexplosives to Washington so it could be sank and blown up as an experiment. Wewere to pick it up in San Francisco. We had towed a barge to San Francisco andwere to only be in port long enough to drop the barge and pick up the cargoship and our new captain. We were having a change of command in Bremerton. A storm moved in during the afternoon as weapproached San Francisco. Com Eleven did not like its looks and told thecaptain to tie up at Treasure Island for the night. During the night the stormbecame worse and we were ordered to stay another day. The stubborn stormcontinued and Com Eleven still would not let us sail. The third night, theChief Engineman, Chief Jackson, and I thought we should go for a couple ofbeers so off we went. Needless to sayone thing lead to another and before we knew it, all the bars were closingbecause it was about two in the morning. We did not know it but the nightbefore, the captain told the crew aboard that we were going to sea the nextmorning no matter what the weather was. At 8:00 we set the sea and anchordetail and by 8:30 we were tied to our toe. It was so rough in the bay that by16:00 that afternoon we were just passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Thenext morning at daybreak we could still see the Golden Gate.
My sea & anchor detailwas manning the towing motor on the fantail. The weather was cold and rainy,with a very cold wind blowing. My heavy fowl weather jacket felt good. I stayedin the towing engine area all day until 15:30 when my engine room watchstarted. Not ever having to stand engine room watch before, this was a newexperience for me. I was not ready for the diesel fume smell that struck me inthe face as I went into the engine room. It did not take long for the dieselfumes, combined with the very warm air, the ship’s movement and on top of that,my hangover, to make me sick, but I was not alone in my misery. The only two sailors who did not get sickwere the captain, who was being relieved in Bremerton and the second-classdamage control man, who was working for me. That was my first and last time tobecome sea sick. Nor did I ever getunderway with a hangover, again. Forthe next three days I would have given everything I owned to put my feet onsomething that did not move, for just five minutes. It was so rough that theywould not give the captain permission to pull into Astoria, Oregon, if we couldhave made it that far. On the third daythe sea calmed and the sun came out. Itwas a beautiful day at sea.
I made Chief in Septemberafter going aboard and should have been able to move to the chief’s quartersbut the chief’s quarters happened to be a stateroom for two. As there werealready two chiefs aboard so I had to remain in the crews berthing. The ChiefBoatsmate finally received a transfer and I finally was able to moved into thestateroom. I had to take the top bunk, as I was junior.
About two weeks after Imoved, we were called in about midnight one stormy night for an emergency runto help a LST which was taking on water and in trouble. The LST was about two hours from us, nearSan Clementy Island. About 1:00 AM,after we cleared the harbor and secured the sea and anchor detail, we went tobed. The water was rough and the shipwas rolling a lot. I was not use to thestateroom. The movement was worse inthe new bunk than it had been below in the crew’s quarters. Being very tired I started dreaming. I dreamed the ship was turning over and Ijumped out of my bunk. I scared Chief Jackson because he didn’t know what washappening. I settled down, after that.
In January of 1966 I receivedthe hardest assignment I ever had while in the Navy or any other place. Mynext-door neighbor and dear friend, Thomas Bruck, had received orders toVietnam the previous year. The day he flew out of North Island Naval Station inSan Diego, his wife, Mary Jo, had said good-by to him at their home and Icarried him to the Naval Station to board his flight. He was killed in a jeepaccident on January 10, 1966. Mary Jo requested that I be his body escort. Shewaved me going to Vietnam and the Navy flew his body to San Francisco withseveral bodies. On January 15, 1966 I flew to San Francisco. The next morning Ihad to identify Tom’s body and verify all of his navy medals. His body was thentaken to the airport where I had to go to the tarmac and watch as they loadedhis body on the plane, making sure the coffin was loaded headfirst. The coffinwas loaded after all passengers were aboard. Upon arrival in San Diego I wasthe first off of the plane and had to go to the tarmac to watch as theyunloaded the coffin to make sure it was unloaded feet first. The coffin wasunloaded and placed into a waiting hearse before anyone else could deplane.From there we went to the funeral home where they opened the coffin completelyand I again had to inspect the body to make sure everything was in order. Theyexplained to me that that the glass covering the top half of the coffin had toremain in place for viewing and that the family would be not be able to touchthe body. This was because of the amount of time Tom had been dead, 8 days.Even though by this time it was just after midnight I had to go knock on MaryJo’s, his wife, door and tell her that I had arrived home with here husband’sbody and answer any questions that she had. I was at her disposal for anyassistance that I could provide. The following morning I took them to thefuneral home and the following day, January 19, 1966, he was buried in FortRosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, CA. The hardest part was presenting theU. S. Flag, which had covered his casket, to his wife, Mary Jo. That was nodoubt the hardest four days of my life but I considered it the greats honor Icould pay my friend, Tom.
It was shortly after thisthat I met Ben Harris who became a very dear friend for life. Ben was a Captainin the Naval Reserve and an insurance salesman and a good friend of Phil Davis,a Second-class Damage Control Man who worked for me. Phil said I should talkwith Ben because he dealt almost extensively with serviceman. At the time wehad just lost our government life insurance and after Tom’s death I knew Ineeded to replace it for my family’s sake. Ben. He invited Ben aboard ship onenight when we had duty. Ben was the first insurance salesman who did notpressure me and very shortly I called him, invited him to the house to meet Pegand bought a policy that I still have today. After that I did some plumbing andcarpenter work at Ben’s home. Ben and Martha, his wife, became very dearfriends of ours. They were kind of like a mother and dad to us. I still stay incontact with Ben. Martha passed away in November 2000.
In early December, 1966, Ihad been at sea all week and arrived home on Friday afternoon to find Peg gone,and here sister, Sandy, who was living in San Diego, home with Toni andTerry. My neighbor had carried Peg tothe hospital on the afternoon of the previous day. She was pregnant with our third child. Peg had not delivered and labor had stopped, but the Doctorsdecided to keep her in the hospital, over the weekend. On Monday morning, I went to the shipbecause I had duty that night. I had made arrangements for Chief Jackson totake my duty if the baby came but late that afternoon they had no idea when shewould deliver, so I told Jackson to go home and I would call him when she wentinto labor. He would then come back tothe ship and relieve me. I kept calling about every hour with no word. Aboutmidnight I was calling for the last time before going to bed and they told methat I had a baby boy and mother and baby were both resting. I would have to wait until the next morningto go out. I got to the hospital about7:30 AM and visited with Peg and I also went to see the baby. I then went home and called everyone, toannounce that we had a baby boy named Trevor Dean, which was the name we haddecided on. Well, later that day when I went back to the hospital, I found outthat I would have to call everyone back because his name was Roger CarolStrain, Junior. Peg had changed nameson me. She told me later, that she had made up her mind long before thedelivery and she wanted a Junior, so I just called and corrected it witheveryone.
Roger was only about sixweeks old when, one night, he became very sick. We carried him to BalboaHospital and they admitted him with bronical pneumonia. They put him under anoxygen tent so he could breath. That was a very scary night, especially havingto go home without him. The doctors would not let us stay. The next morning thenurse told us they thought they were going to have to call us about 4:00 in themorning because they didn’t think he was going to make it. After a three-daystay he was fine and we brought him home. He did fine after that.
When Roger, Jr started movingfrom place to place he did not crawl, he scooted. That is where he got thenickname of Scooter. That name stuck with him and he was never called Junior.
I enjoyed my time aboard the tugboat but it was just too small. Iwas also a Chief Petty Officer and was only doing the work of a Second ClassPetty Officer. I became very dissatisfied and I knew I needed a change. I alsowanted to go back to welding school, so I talked with the Captain and he saidhe would approve a request for transfer and he did. Shortly after that Ireceived orders to Welding School.
Becoming a welder
We had been assigned asponsor family, the Masons, who had corresponded with us to tell us what toexpect. They met us at Preswick Airporton the day we arrived in Scotland and drove us to Dunoon, the town where wewould live. The weather had been over 100 degrees in the states but thetemperature was only in the 50s, with a fine mist, when we arrived in Scotland.There is a light rain about 350 days a year and the maximum temperature isabout 65 degrees. That was quite a change and we were very cold. We go to theirhouse for lunch and then they take us to the hotel where we spent the next 60days, until our furniture arrived.
Our hotel was a convertedtwo-story house. We only had one room for all of us. I forget just how many rooms there were but I think there was abouteight. All of our meals were included. Everyone was assigned a table in thedining room and we always sat at the same table. Afternoon Tea was alwaysserved at 2:30 in the afternoon and High Tea at 9:00 PM, in the large livingroom where there was a large fireplace. There was also a TV set. All of theguest came in, visited and watched TV. The food varied from day to day but wasalways the same from week to week. Every Friday night was boiled chicken nightand none of us could stand boiled chicken. After we got the car Peg found a Fish & Chips place and on Fridaynight we would go after the evening meal and get Fish & Chips (potatowedges), bringing them back to the room to eat. We got quite a surprise thefirst night because we were not expecting the Fish & Chips to be wrapped inthe local newspaper.
We enjoyed our stay at thehotel. It was nice and clean. The maid, May, and the owner, Mrs. Griffin, age77, fell in love with the kids. This was all new to us so we spent lots of timechecking this new place out. Toni and Terry started to school shortly after wearrived. They attended a local Scottish school. They rode a city bus back andforth. All the children wore school uniforms. In the wintertime the days wereso short that they went to school before daylight, which came about 9:30 andcame home after dark which came about 3:30.
At that time we werecollecting steins. Mrs. Griffin knew this because she had seen some that we hadpicked up on our cross-country trips. While we were staying there she went on aHoliday (vacation) to Spain. Just picture a 77-year-old lady doing this. Onenight she was in a pub drinking beer. The beer glasses were really pretty umbersteins and she thought we needed one for collection. She stuck one in her purseand brought it to us. We have always treasured that stein and in 1984 when ourhouse burned that was the only stein of our 122-stein collection that was notdamaged.
We enjoyed our time at thehotel but the one room got awfully small for all four of us. We were ready fora house when our furniture arrived 60 days later. We had found a two-bedroomdownstairs apartment, just down the street in the next block. The owners livedabove it. Like all houses there, it was very old but nice. The outside wallswere about three feet thick to help protect from the cold. There was afireplace in every room. The fireplaces were small because they burned coalinstead of wood. We kept the one in the dinning room burning 24 hours a day.One reason for this was to help heat the water. We had an electric emercer, hotwater heater, but pipes also ran through the back of the fireplace to help heatthe water. This helped cut down on electricity cost as electricity was veryexpensive. Occasionally we would light the fireplace in the living room. Wespent most of the time in the dinning room. We were also very fortunate in thatwe had a gas cook stove in the kitchen. The gas was coal gas, but it workedfine. Because it was so hard to heat the house, we also used paraffin heaters.Paraffin is a refined grade of oil similar to kerosene. It came in either blueor pink. We also kept a paraffin heater going 24 hours a day.
We had ourChristmas tree in the living room and Peg and I had decided to sleep on thecouch so we would be there the next morning when the kids got up. We built agood fire to keep it warm. We were all in the living room before bedtime andScooter picked up a smoothing iron that my mother had given me and dropped iton Peg’s foot. It later swelled up verybig but she never went to the doctor. It must have broken a small bone becauseshe still has some trouble with that foot. We did have a good Christmas thenext morning.
The kids always went to bed at 8:00. One winter night Tonicame into the living room shortly after she went to bed saying that she sawsomething that glowed blowing across the window. I went to the front door tosee what it was. When I looked down the hill toward the loch, waterfront all Icould see was fire. I got my coat and ran down the hill. A lumber/hardwarestore was on fire and it had already spread to a grocery store next door. Istayed and helped fight it. I was manning a hose and my hands were only aboutsix feet from the fire but it was so cold that ice formed on my gloves. Thewind as usual was about 45 knots that night. We had A number off volunteerscame to help fight the fire including the USS Simon Lake fire brigade whichbrought extra equipment. The wind kept blowing sparks up the hill and ontohouses. Some of the fire fighters started going up the hill and watering downroofs of houses but by the time we got things under control we had lost thelumber/hardware store, grocery store and five houses. Our house was spared butit came very close. Peg kept a pot of coffee going so the firefighters could comein and get hot coffee to help them warm up.
Peg’s dad had often talkedabout going to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and she had always wanted tosee it. In May of 1968 we got the opportunity to go to Paris for a weekend. Wegot a babysitter and away we went. We had a very enjoyable trip and we did getto the Eiffel tower. We also made a nightclub tour on Saturday night, which wethoroughly enjoyed. The tour included avisit to an upper-class club, the Maula Rouge, a middle-class club and a lower-classclub. We didn’t get back to the hotel until about 5:00 AM the next morning. Wesaw many other things, as well including a tour of the famous church, NotreDame.
Scooter had lots of problemswith his tonsils, from the start. He would get an infection and we would get itcleared up just to have it come back again in a week or two. At his young age,they would not operate in Scotland. Inthe early summer of 1968 we got him cleared up and they scheduled him and Pegfor a trip a base in England for a tonsillectomy but three days before leavinghe came down with an infection again, so they had to canceled the trip. Eventhough we really loved Scotland and wanted to stay, we decided that since hehad been sick about nine month of that year we would be better off with Peg andthe children going back to the states in order to get him into a betterclimate. I contacted my brother, John and made arrangements to buy a house hehad in Swink, where they would live. Labor Day of 1968 they boarded a plane forhome. It was one year to the day, since they arrived in Scotland. After theyarrived in Swink, John helped Peg remodel the house. I took leave and flew homefor Christmas that year.
The ship was being sent tothe states for overhaul, so in May of 1969 we were relieved and left for thestates and a one-year, yard period in Bremerton, Washington. We first pulledinto Charleston, South Carolina where I took leave again, going home to pick upPeg and the kids. We drove from there to Washington via California and up throughthe giant Red Wood Forest.
We arrived in Bremerton onJuly 3, 1969, where we were to remain for the next year. I was eligible forshore duty again and my detailer had promised me, recruiting duty in Dallas,Texas, if I would stay on the ship through the yard period. We rented anapartment and got all settled in. There was a municipal fishing pier close byand we would go fishing almost every afternoon. We also took several trips upinto the mountains. We spent all day one Sundays in the mountains looking forblackberries, which we didn’t find. When we returned to Bremerton and just afew blocks from our house we found berries galore in a fencerow. There were somany that you could stand in one place and pick a gallon. We picked a lot andput them in our freezer.
The last week of August Ireceived a call from my detailer telling me that he had an opening for me atthe Recruiting station in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, if I wanted to go. I wouldhave to leave immediately. I went home and talked with Peg and we decided totake the orders. She did not know what to do with all the black berries so shecalled mom to ask her how to can them. Mom told her and when we left, we hadthe berries in jars. Our one-year stay in Bremerton was short because we left forOklahoma City on the Friday before Labor Day, 1969.
Back to San Diego
Arriving in San Diego, westayed with Billy & Sandy, Peg’s brother-in law and sister. My ship, theUSS Constellation, was still overseas so I checked into the Naval Station at 32ndStreet. I had already decided I would retire as soon as I could, which would be1975. We were sure we would remain in San Diego after retirement so we startedlooking for a house to buy. We needed one soon, so we could get the kids inschool. We found one we liked in South San Diego. The people were going to buyanother as soon as they sold this one. They figured they would be out in 30days but we gave them 60 days. I think they found houses much more expensivethan they thought, because they kept giving us excuses as to why they were notout. I had made arrangements to have our furniture delivered on a Friday, whichwas the last day it could be stored without costing me money. Aboutmid-afternoon, three days before we were to move in, the people called and saidthey could not find a house and wanted to rent from us. I called thereal-estate company and was told that the agent we were dealing with was inOregon, on a hunting trip. I told the rep. that I talked with about the phonecall and that if I could not move in as planned that I would expect my depositreturned in full plus any money I had to pay for extra storage and other extracosts. She must have gotten in contactwith our agent because by 8:00 AM the next morning he was back in San Diego andcalled us to assure us that we would be moving in. When we got to the house onFriday morning, he was there. When the moving truck arrived the people stillhad some furniture in the garage and they ask the driver if they could leave itfor a while. The driver told them that he could not unload any furniture aslong as they still had anything in the house so the real-estate agent helpedthen move the rest of their things onto the lawn. Needless to say, that wasquite an experience.
We got all settled in and thekids started school. It was Scooter’s first year. He was in kindergarten. Wewould take him to his room at school and leave him. By the time we would getback to our car he would be waiting on us. He definitely didn’t like school buthe finally got use to the idea that he had to go.
One afternoon, about threeweeks after we moved in, I came home from work and Peg and I were setting atthe table drinking tea when I got the surprise of my life. She looked at me andsaid, “You know we are going back to Oklahoma, it is just a matter of when.” Iask her if she was really serious and she said “yes.” That is when we startedmaking plans to sell the house we had just bought and planning the timingbecause I was leaving the next June for a cruise.
The plans were for her andthe kids to move back to Swink. We still had our house there but it wasn’t invery good shape. I found out that my brother, John and Barbara were gettingmarried again and her trailer house was for sale so I contacted John and boughtit sight unseen. I did not have retirement orders yet so I had to make the movemyself and get reimbursed at a later date. The first of May 1974 we rented aU-Haul Truck, loaded our furniture and Jimmy Strain, my nephew, helped me driveback to Swink. We got the trailer House set up, Peg and kids moved in and itwas back to San Diego for me.
Our last operation was ajoint exercise with several foreign countries. The last day before leaving for the states concluded with a joint airshow just outside of Karachi, Pakistan. The Captain wanted all eight of ourboilers on line for the show, something that had not happened since the lastyard period there, years before. He wanted all the power he could get. Two ofmy welders and myself spent 34 hours under one boiler working on the tubes sowe could get it going and the Captain was able to use all eight boilers. We were suppose to be back in San Diego byChristmas but at the last minute the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff decided the Americanflag needed to have its presence shown in the Persian Gulf. There had not beena US Ship in those waters since 1949; so away we went for a three-day trip. Wewould not be home for Christmas. It looked like we would not make San Diegountil December 27.
My Last Port-of-Call
The most memorable part ofthat last cruse was our trip to Karachi, Pakistan. We only received four hoursliberty to go ashore. My good buddy, Juan Brown and I went ashore together. Wefound a cab to take us for a tour of the city but the cab driver could notspeak English so we went to get his English-speaking brother. We could not havefound two better people for our sightseeing tour. They covered the whole townincluding an elephant ride. They then ask if we wanted to ride a camel and ofcourse we said yes, so away we went to the beach. As we arrived they told us tolet them do all of the bargaining for the price, so we did. After the price wasset we got on the camels and started down the beach and out to the edge of thewater. When we went behind the sand duns out of sight of our drivers, our cameldriver started wanting more money. We told him no, that he would have to talkwith the drivers. After we finished the ride the camel drivers told our cabdrivers that they needed more money and a hassle started. Our drivers told usto get into the car and we did. One driver also got in and started the engine.About that time one of the camel drivers rode his camel in front of the car andJuan and I didn’t know what would happen next. The driver, still outside, threwthe money on the ground, jumped in the cab and the driver gunned the engine,almost hitting the camel in front of us but we were on our way. That afternooncame to an end, all to soon. We gave the two drivers a very good tip for thefun we had on that day. Another thing I will always remember is the amount ofdeformed people we saw. At least one-half of the people were deformed in someway because of disease or diet.
The next morning we wereunderway for the Persian Gulf. As we entered the gulf, Russian gunboats met uswith the crews at general quarters and in full battle dress. It was a funnysight because they were so small they looked like ants coming at the bigaircraft carrier. We steamed all the way up, turned around and came back out.
AS we left the Persian Gulfwe had a tanker on one side refueling, while an ammunition ship was on theother side so that we could off-load our ammunition. This would keep us fromhaving to spend two days in Subic Bay, Philippines. We did have to pull intoSubic for eight hours to offload our missiles, but we were right back out tosea and on our way home. The Captain ordered flank speed. Because of afavorable wind, sea and the fact that we had all of our power, since we hadeight boilers, we made good time. A few days out and it started looking like wemight make it by late Christmas day. The Captain got special permission to pull into San Diego on Christmasday, if we could make it. Ships just don’t go in or out of port on a holidaybut Com 11 said they would make an exception in this case. The wind and seastayed with us and at about 4:00 pm, on Christmas Eve, we tied up to the pier inSan Diego. This made about 5000 men and their families very happy. This alsoallowed a lot of kids to receive many more toys from Santa on Christmasmorning.
We had decided that Peg andhe kids would not come out to meet the ship since I would be taking 60 daysleave just after the first of January and coming home. I would then report toNAS Dallas, Texas, where I would receive my release from active duty,retirement, on April 26, 1975.
It was a wonderfulhomecoming; knowing I would never be leaving home again, for a 6-9 monthcruise. Just before I checked into NAS in Dallas, I started having trouble withpain in the lower part of my stomach. It felt like it was full of needles. Itscared me and I had Peg carry me to the doctor at NAS Dallas, early one Mondaymorning, before I checked in. They gave me medicine but it didn’t help. After about four weeks, I checked into theNaval Station. I received a very through physical at Carswell AFB, Ft Worth,Texas but they could find nothing wrong. I drove back and forth to the base. IDidn’t have to be there much but when I had to stay overnight or be thereearly, for parts of my physical, I stayed with Tommy & Jean. Because Icould not eat in the morning, while going through my physical, Jean wouldalways tease me with a Pine Float. That is a glass of water with a toothpick init. Time flew by and before I knew it, the big day arrived. Peg and the kidscame over for the ceremony. Tommy & Jean also attended. We were all given atour of the base that morning. Around noon, we all headed to Swink, for good.
Brown & Root
It was very strange, nothaving a job to get up and go to, each morning. I had no work responsibilities.For the first time in 20 years, I was without a job. I had no idea what I woulddo for work but knew I had to find a job of some kind. My stomach continued tohurt me and it had me worried. I signed up for unemployment, for the first timein my life. It would start two weeks after my discharge. The employment officekept pressing me to go to Brown & Root, at the Weyerhaeuser Paper Mill, inValliant, and apply for a welder’s job because they had a small constructionjob, in progress. I always figured I could get a job there but didn’t want toget back into the rat race.
I finally went down, on aThursday afternoon, just before Memorial Day. They told me they were nothiring. I told them, that I only wantedto find out what I needed to do, to take a welding test, just in case I everdecided that I wanted to apply for a job. They pointed me to the pipesuperintendent, Jim Wyatt. He told mehe could not hire anyone. The guy with him was a welder with 20 yearsexperience and he couldn’t even use him. He asked what experience I had? I told him, I had just retired from the Navyas a pipefitter and had been in charge of a 26-man pipe shop. He asked me if Icould read blueprints and I told him I could read navy blueprints. He told meto come on back to a trailer. He wantedto talk with me. He gave me three drawings and said he would be back in a fewminutes. He came back and started questioning me and I just told him that atone time I could have answered his questions but I had been the person gettingthe work done, for too many years. He then gave me an application and told meto bring it back, on Tuesday. I knew he was not going to fox me again so I wenthome and broke out my books. I studied all weekend. I went back on Tuesday andwe talked in general. I told him I would go to work, as a helper. I also ask ifhe would give me a tour of the plant, even if didn’t hire me. I just wanted to see what a civilianoperation was like and he said yes he would, in a few days.
The next morning, Peg and Igot up and went to McAlester, Oklahoma, to see what their commissary had tooffer. We got back about 3:00 PM and I went out into the back yard. Shortlyafter I went outside, Peg came out and said I had a phone call. It was someonefrom Brown & Root and they had been trying to reach me, all day. Theywanted me at work that morning! Sureenough, even though they were not hiring, I had a job. Two weeks after I wentto work, Jim made me a supervisor. Ilater figured out that Jim needed supervisors and he knew from my experiencethat I would be a good one. A weekafter I went to work, my stomach quit bothering me and it never gave me anymore problems. I figured out, later, that it was really my nerves because ofthe uncertainty I felt from not having a job. Paris Junior, a colleague, contacted me to come and work as a weldinginstructor but I liked my job and decided not to go. I kept surviving eachlayoff and eventually, when the construction job ended in November, I was oneof six men who went over to plant maintenance, to work the Christmas shutdown.Of the six men, only two of us were left after Christmas, my welder and me.
In July 1976 I was offered ajob at Tinker AFB, in Oklahoma City. I almost quit Brown & Root to take itbut after talking with my superintendent, he assured me that I would not belaid off, so I stayed at Valliant. I had a week of vacation coming and we tooka trip to Indiana to see our dear fiends, Ken & Barbara Cansler. We planned it for the 20th of August, mybirthday. Guess what? I got to work that morning and was told that I would geta ROF (reduction of force) that afternoon. What a birthday present! When I gothome that afternoon and told Peg, she wanted to know what we were going todo. I told her that we were going onvacation, and we did.
As soon as we returned fromvacation, I took a week and went scouting for a job in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.I found nothing. We had poured a slab in front of our trailer house in thesummer, to add a room, so even though I didn’t have a job, I went to the bankand borrowed enough money to start work on our new room.
I know that if all elsefailed, I could go to Baghdad, AZ and work for Brown & Root but I didn’twant to live alone, again. I was going to wait until after Christmas, beforegetting serious about work. Just before Christmas they called me back toValliant to work the Christmas shutdown. On New Years Eve, 1976, I once againreceived a ROF. Two weeks later, just after I once again applied forunemployment, I was called to come back and work on a small project. I ask themhow long? I was told it would be atleast two weeks. I almost told them to forget it but I went back. That was avery good decision because I never received another ROF. I went from pipefitter to supervisor. Then on January 1, 1980, after a Brown & Rootfatality at the plant that happened just before Christmas, I became the firstSafety Supervisor for Brown & Root, at Valliant.
I wanted to go back to schooland knew it was time, if I was gong to use my GI Bill. In the fall of 1978 Istarted taking classes at the Higher Learning Center in Idabel, Oklahoma. In1979, I choose a major of Business Administration. I had lots of encouragement because my counselor was a retiredArmy person.
In February of 1980 I thoughI was going to have to drop out of class because my dad became very ill and washospitalized. I didn’t know how long he would be there and I knew I would haveto spend a lot of time there. All of my teachers said no to me dropping out.They all said they would work with me to help me get through so I stayed. Dadonly lasted three weeks. I was the only one with him the morning he died atabout 1:30.
My mother lived at her homejust a block up the street from us after dad died but she was afraid to stay byherself at night so she would come to our house about dark and get up in themorning and go home about daylight. This continued until she had a stroke inmid 1982. After that Peg tried to take care of her at home but it was just toomuch so we had to put her in a nursing home in Valliant, OK, which was about 7miles away. Peg would visit her every day and every night. I would visit everynight when I was not in class or traveling on business. After a morning visitthe first of April 1983 Peg called me at work and told me that she was notdoing well. I came home and we went back to the nursing home. After talkingwith her regular doctor in Hugo we checked her out of the nursing home, put herin our car and carried here to the hospital in Hugo, OK. Her kidneys failed andshe passed away the next afternoon, April 7, 1983. I was also with her alongwith Peg, John and Lucille, Tommy and Jean, George and Charlene.
I only wished my mother anddad had lived to see me graduate. They were so disappointed when I quit school,to join the navy. However, they livedlong enough to know that I had finally graduated from high school and they knewthat I was well on my way to my college degree and very proud of that. Dadpassed February 25, 1980 and Mom passed away April 07, 1983.
Our New House
After Peg and I discussed allthe possibilities, including buying a house already built, building a new oneon our property, moving to Idabel, or moving to Hugo, among other options, wedecided to rebuild where we were. Brother John was not busy at the time so hetook over as our general contractor. We got a set of plans from Rickey Strainthat we liked and about a week later, we got the OK from our insurance companyto start building. We rented a small house on the other end of the block. I wasclose enough to the new home we were building, to help as much as I could,after work. With the help of John, Terry, Scooter, and David, some of theirfriends and a couple of contractors, we had the house completed, including thenew furniture delivered. We moved in after only 26 days! That was a record.
A Texan, one more time
In 1992 Peg and I knew we didnot want to stay in Swink after we retired so we decided to put our house upfor sale. We would move to Paris, Texas if and when, it sold. Peg wanted to goback to work and that would give her a good opportunity. Our house finally soldin May of 1994. On the Friday before Memorial Day we packed up, loadedeverything into a U-Hall Truck and headed across Red River. We moved into abrand new set of apartments. In fact they were not complete when we moved in.We were the first tenants there. We were only going to rent for about sixmonths, until we found a house we wanted to buy. Peg went to work for Bealsdepartment store in September. We liked the apartments so well; we decided notto buy a house.
About 6:00 one evening inlate August of 1996 we got a call from Ed Palmer telling us that Peg’s motherhad just had a stroke or seizure of some type and he was on the way to thehospital with her. We immediately left. The next morning the doctor told usthat she had brain cancer. They did other test and found out that it was allthrough her body. They gave her 30 cays to three months to live but went aheadwith radiation to the brain. About three weeks later I went to Ft Worth to helpEd carry her home from the hospital. I knew when I left on Sunday night thatshe was bad and told Peg when I got home that I thought she needed to go onover. She went on Monday and was with her mother on Tuesday morning when shedied, September 24, 1996.
On Memorial weekend of 1997 Ihad a stroke. I finally went to the doctor on Tuesday. He put me in thehospital where I stayed until Friday. I was off work until mid July. The doctorwanted me to quit work but I needed another year for retirement. He finally agreed, as long as I would startslowing down and reduce my stress. Ipromised I would and would retire the next year.
Retirement, one more time
The day finally came. On the last day of December 1998, I retired from Weyerhaeuser. It was sostrange the following Monday morning when I didn’t have to get up and go towork. I didn’t realize just how much stress I was under, until I quit working.I didn’t have trouble with my stomach, this time. I had my shop that I built inthe garage we rented. I did lots of woodwork, along with brother Tommy and MaryJo. The work kept us busy. Sometimes we would also go to the Jan K Ranch. Then,in March of 1999, I decided I wanted a gardening job so I found an ad in thenewspaper and called about it. It was for grounds keeper at Dr Swent’s officegrounds. Dr. Swent had a large yard, which he was very proud of. I reallyenjoyed it but the grounds at the apartments also needed a lot of tender lovingcare so at the end of April, I spoke with the owner, Darrell Coats, abouttaking care of the apartment grounds. He had been trying to find a way to getme to work there, so he quickly agreed. Brother Tommy and I had been alreadytaking care of the flowers for a couple of years for nothing. That turned outvery well because I only worked when I wanted to.
Peg bought me a computer forChristmas in 1999 and in January 2000, I became interested in genealogy. I havereally enjoyed searching for old bones. So far I have 3,681 names in mydatabase that are in some way connected.
We did quite a bit of traveling in 1999 and planned on more in2000 but Peg was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer on June 30, 2000.That put a damper on our travels until she could finish treatments, which wereexpected to last for about one year. We were able to make our annual Novembertrip, with the apartment complex, to Branson, Missouri. We began making thesetrips in 1997.
July 23, 2001 Peg completedher cancer treatments. Our son, Terry, had moved to Atlanta, GA in June. Wedecided to visit him for a few days and see how well Peg could handletraveling, so off we went for five days. After that, Peg decided she couldhandle it so we were off to Florida for a 16-day trip in late September andearly October. She made the trip fine.
November 28, 2002 ourGranddaughter, Macy Noelle Strain was born in Plano, Texas. Peg and I ate ourfirst ever Thanksgiving Dinner in a restaurant that day. We ate at the “BlackEyed Pea” in Plano. I ate Pot Roast and she ate Chicken Fried Chicken.
Thereis nothing I would change through my life journey that could possibly make ithappier. I have been blessed with the most wonderful, loving and caringwife. We have three wonderful childrenand to date, four grandchildren. My health has remained excellent and I havealways been fortunate to have a job that allowed me to provide the things that wereimportant to my family.
TO BE CONTINUED:
Descendants of Roger Carol Strain
Generation No. 1
1. ROGER CAROL5STRAIN, SR (SIDNEY TOLBERT (TOLLIE)4,JOHN CARROLL3, JAMES (JIMMY)2, BENJAMIN1)was born August 20, 1938 in Swink, Choctaw County, OK1. He married PEGGY JANETTE COX May 11, 1956 inHome of Sarah & Rev Bill Pemberton at the Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth,Tarrant County, TX, daughter of JAKE COX and JEWEL FORTNER. She was born May 21, 1939 in ParklandHospital, Dallas, Dallas County, TXS2.
Notes for ROGER CAROLSTRAIN, SR:
Roger's dad paid thedoctor one ton of hay to deliver him.
Roger gave the openingaddress at his 8th grade graduation
While home on leavefrom Navy Boot Camp in 1942, Roger's oldest brother, Sidney, gave him a Navy whitehat, Dixie Cup as it was called. Roger's mother said he wore it all time sayingwhen he got old enough he was going to join the "Naby." Sure enoughat age 17 he joined the Navy making a career of it.
Roger spent 20 yearsin the US Navy, October 1955 - April 1975. He completed his boot camp trainingat San Diego, California. After boot camp he attended Class "A" ShipFitter School in San Diego. He then went home on leave and him and Peggy weremarried. He then went to Bremer ton, Washington where he went aboard the USSPiedmont AD 17 which was going through overhaul. Upon returning to San Diego inJune, Peggy joined him. Roger left on his first cruse in January 1957. Duringthis cruse he became a "Shellback" after crossing the equator on his wayto Singapore. He remained aboard the USS Piedmont until his discharge in August1959.
Roger re enlisted inOctober 1959 for Deep Sea Diving School in Washington, DC. While there Peg andRoger spent a night visiting friends from Swink, Willie Maud and Jr Stanley, atthe Author Godfry Ranch in Virginia. Jr worked as a Forman at the ranch. Rogerwas disqualified from diving because of scar tissue on his right lung.
Other ships andstations for Roger were USS Maury; three years training recruits at US NavyTraining Center, San Diego, California; USS Koka, oceangoing tug; three monthsof welding school in San Diego qualifying as a Nuclear Repair Welder; USS SimonLake in Holy Loch, Scotland where Peg and their three children were with him;three years recruiting duty in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and retiring from theUSS Constellation, an aircraft carrier, in 1975.
In May 1975 he went towork for Brown & Root as a pipe fitter/welder. In 1978 he was madesupervisor of a maintenance crew. In January 1980 he became the Brown &Root Safety Supervisor. In January 1884 when the Weyerhaeuser Safety Managerretired he began representing Weyerhaeuser also. He continued representing bothcompanies until 1988 when he went to work strictly for Weyerhaeuser as SafetyManager. In December 1998 he retired from Weyerhaeuser.
More About ROGER CAROLSTRAIN, SR:
Degree: May 1986,Bachelor of Science, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK3
Medical Information:Glaucoma since 1980, Thyroid since 1990, Stroke in May 1997, Right CarotidArtery 100% blocked 1997.
Military service: Bet.October 1955 - April 1975, US Navy, Senior Chief Hull Technician, Retired4
Occupation: Bet.January 1984 - December 1998, Weyerhaeuser Retired, Safety Manager
Notes for PEGGY JANETTECOX:
Peggy's dad, Jake Cox,spent time at the Eiffel Tower while in Paris, France during WW ll and talkedbout his visit. Peg always wanted to go there. In 1969 while her husband, RogerStrain, was stationed in Holy Loch, Scotland she got the opportunity to spend aweekend in Paris, France and see the Eiffel Tower.
Peggy also lived inHonolulu. Hawaii (Jul 1960-Sep 1961) while her husband, Roger, was stationedthere.
Peggy was at theairport in Oklahoma City on her way to Utah when the Oklahoma City FederalBuilding was bombed.
More About PEGGYJANETTE COX:
Medical Information:Diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) June 30, 2000. Mastectomy ofright breast October 3, 2000
Marriage Notes forROGER STRAIN and PEGGY COX:
Rev Bill Pemberton wasattending the seminary at Fort Worth and the minister of the Swink BaptistChurch, Swink, OK where Roger attended church before joining the Navy.
More About ROGERSTRAIN and PEGGY COX:
Marriage: May 11,1956, Home of Sarah & Rev Bill Pemberton at the Baptist Seminary, FortWorth, Tarrant County, TX
Children of ROGERSTRAIN and PEGGY COX are:
2. i. TONI ANNETTE6 STRAIN, b. April27, 1962, Sharps Memorial Hospital, San Diego, San Diego County, CA.
ii. TERRY DALE STRAIN, b. June 11, 1963, ScriptsHospital, San Diego, San Diego County, CA5; m. (1) STEPHANIELYNN UNKNOWN, April 1990, Swink Baptist Church, Swink, Choctaw County, OK; b.Unknown; m. (2) SHANTEL C LANDRY, January 10, 1997, Arlington, Tarrant County,TX; b. 1962.
Notes for TERRY DALESTRAIN:
In September of 1964Terry grabbed a razor from his mother's hand, cutting his hand. She took him tothe doctor and they put four stitches in his hand.
Terry spent one yearin Holy Loch, Scotland (Sep 1968-Sep 1969) while his dad was stationed thereaboard the submarine tender USS Simon Lake. He attended Scottish school for oneyear.
Terry & Shantelseparated in 2000.
Notes for STEPHANIELYNN UNKNOWN:
Stephanie and Terryhad no children.
More About TERRYSTRAIN and STEPHANIE UNKNOWN:
Marriage: April 1990,Swink Baptist Church, Swink, Choctaw County, OK
Notes for SHANTEL CLANDRY:
Shantel & Terry had no children.
More About TERRYSTRAIN and SHANTEL LANDRY:
Marriage: January 10,1997, Arlington, Tarrant County, TX
3. iii. ROGER CAROL STRAIN, JR, b. December 12,1966, Balboa Naval Hospital, San Diego, San Diego County, CA.
iv. KARLA MARIE HUGHES, b. September 22, 1980,McCuistion Regional Medical Center, Paris, Lamar County, TX6;Foster child.
Notes for KARLA MARIEHUGHES:
Karla is not really afoster child of Peggy & Roger Strain's but Peggy began baby sitting KarlaHughes when Karla was six weeks old. Peggy continued to keep Karla until shewas 12-14 years old. Peggy even sent Karla to school at Swink even though hermother and dad lived in Frogville, OK. Karla's mother, Sharon Lynch, worked forWeyerhaeuser and her dad, Kenneth Hughes, worked for Brown & Root at theWeyerhaeuser Paper Mill in Valliant, OK. Roger was Kenneth's supervisor whenKarla was born. Karla was just like Roger and Peggy's child, even going onvacation with them. In 1999, afterKarla graduated from high school, she again lived with Peggy & Roger inParis, TX while attending Paris Junior College.
More About KARLA MARIEHUGHES:
Census: 2000, 2000Lamar County, TX census7
Generation No. 2
2. TONI ANNETTE6STRAIN (ROGER CAROL5, SIDNEY TOLBERT (TOLLIE)4,JOHN CARROLL3, JAMES (JIMMY)2, BENJAMIN1)was born April 27, 1962 in Sharps Memorial Hospital, San Diego, San DiegoCounty, CA8. Shemarried JAMES DAVID BUTLER March 27, 1982 in Valliant, Mc Curtain County, TX,son of MALCOM BUTLER and PATSY EARNHART. He was born May 25, 1960 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, OK.
Notes for TONI ANNETTESTRAIN:
Toni spent one year inHoly Loch, Scotland (Sep 1968-Sep 1969) while her dad was stationed thereaboard the submarine tender USS Simon Lake. She attended Scottish school forone year.
After graduation fromhigh school Toni worked for Brown & Root as a millwright helper for onesummer but she decided not to go to collage at that time. Instead she gotmarried.
In 1995 she wasworking at Dennison School, Idabel, OK, where her children attended, as ateachers aid. She decided she wanted to become a schoolteacher so she startedback to school part time. In 1997 Toni and David, her husband, decided sheshould quit work and go full-time which she did. She graduated December 18,1999 from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, Oklahoma, SUMMA CUMLAUDE, with a Bachelor of Science degree. SUMMA CUM LUDA represents the top 2%of the class. Toni was #1 in her class.
More About TONIANNETTE STRAIN:
Degree: December 18,1999, Bachelor of Science, SUMMA CUM LAUDE, Southeastern Oklahoma StateUniversity, Durant, OK9
More About JAMESBUTLER and TONI STRAIN:
Marriage: March 27,1982, Valliant, Mc Curtain County, TX
Children of TONISTRAIN and JAMES BUTLER are:
i. RACHAEL DANETTE7 BUTLER, b.August 19, 1985, Idabel, Mc Curtain County, OK; Adopted child.
More About RACHAELDANETTE BUTLER:
Baptism: March 19,2000, Trinity Baptist Church
ii. DAVID ADAM BUTLER, b. July 01, 1988, Tulsa,Tulsa County, OK; Adopted child.
iii. JAMES MATHEW BUTLER, b. January 26, 1990,Paris, Lamar County, TX.
3. ROGER CAROL6STRAIN, JR (ROGER CAROL5, SIDNEY TOLBERT (TOLLIE)4,JOHN CARROLL3, JAMES (JIMMY)2, BENJAMIN1)was born December 12, 1966 in Balboa Naval Hospital, San Diego, San Diego County,CA10. He married LARADIANE JONES June 12, 1999 in Belo Mansion, Dallas, Dallas County, TX, daughterof TRAVIS JONES and PATRICIA PARKER. She was born April 09, 1970 in Tyler, Smith County, TX.
Notes for ROGER CAROLSTRAIN, JR:
Roger lived in San Diego,CA when he started to school. He did not like school the first year. His motherand dad would take him to his classroom and leave him. By the time they gotback to their car Roger would have left his classroom and beat them back to thecar by taking a different route.
Roger spent one yearin Holy Loch, Scotland (Sep 1968-Sep 1969) while his dad was stationed thereaboard the submarine tender USS Simon Lake.
More About ROGER CAROLSTRAIN, JR:
Degree: December 1991,BBA
Military service: Bet.July 29, 1985 - March 31, 1989, US Air Force; E-4 Aircraft Armament Specialist
Occupation: DirectorInformation Systems, DALMAC
Notes for LARA DIANEJONES:
Lara graduated MAGNACUMA LAUDE, top 3%-5% of her class.
Marriage Notes forROGER STRAIN and LARA JONES:
Roger & Lara weremarried at the Belo Mansion which is a
Neoclassical Style,1890 home located at 2101 Ross Avenue. This was the original home of Col. A.H.Belo, founder of The Dallas Morning News, who moved to Dallas from Galvestonafter the paper's establishment. Thehouse, now the home of the Dallas Bar Association and the Dallas BarFoundation, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (docent toursof the building are given the second Tuesday of every month, except summermonths, from 10-12). Constructed around 1890, its facade was remodeled at theturn of the century. The building for several decades was the home of theLoudermilk-Sparkman Funeral Home. When Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker wereambushed and shot to death in Louisiana in 1934, Clyde Barrow's body was placedon view in this building and was visited by an estimated 30,000 people.
Roger had a nicknameof "Scooter" which Lara did not know until she met his parents.During the wedding rehearse, Lara's mother-in law to be ask the minister to usethe name Scooter instead of Roger when he announced their marriage to the audience,and he did. Lara had quite a surprised look on her face. When the minister cameto that part in the real ceremony the next day, he looked at Roger and Peggyand grinned. He really wanted to use "Scooter" again.
More About ROGERSTRAIN and LARA JONES:
Marriage: June 12,1999, Belo Mansion, Dallas, Dallas County, TX
Child of ROGER STRAINand LARA JONES is:
i. MACY NOELLE7 STRAIN, b. November28, 2002, Plano Medical Center, Plano, TX11.
Notes for MACY NOELLESTRAIN:
Macy was bornThanksgiving Day, weighed 7lb, 9 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long.
1. BirthRecords - Choctaw County, OK.
2. Birth Records - Dallas County, TX.
3. Southeastern Oklahoma State Universityschool records.
4. Navy DD 214.
5. Birth Records - San Diego County, CA.
6. Birth Records - Lamar County, TX.
7. 2000 Lamar County, TX census.
8. Birth Records - San Diego County, CA.
9. Southeastern Oklahoma State Universityschool records.
10. Birth Records - San Diego County, CA.
11. Birth Records - Collin County, TX.