This letter is unlike any of Jim’s previous letters. He spent hours thinking about what he wanted to say, crafting the story long before putting paper in the typewriter. It’s infrequent to see a sentence fragment. Today’s letter is full of fragments. Most importantly, it’s full of thought fragments, any one of which could make a whole story. As I read through the letter it reminded me of so many fun activities and events. My mind immediately went to the photo albums which have pictures for almost every sentence fragment below. One of the first memories he recalls is of the analyst magazine that Mike B and I published for several months. There’s already a lengthy story about that one available.
The first phrase that really triggers the memories is about Cal’s Office Supply. There were two office supply stores in town, and one of them didn’t get my business. (There was a story about those pennies a couple of months ago.) I met Jim at Cal’s when I was looking for paper for the analyst. Jim was usually on the road for Cal, delivering and picking up office machines from all over the area. The typewriters, adding and accounting machines fascinated me! Better than that, he got to drive a Ford Econoline van. What a piece of work that was.
On a side note, the Buffalo City Grille now occupies the space where Cal’s was in the late sixties. It’s our favorite restaurant in Jamestown.
Gene Kurtz ran the repair shop. He could fix any of those mechanical monstrosities. He loved fun, drinking, fast cars, and practical jokes. He could tell you more stories than either Jim or I could, including ones about bullheads and his 1958 Ford Thunderbird. His obituary on the web even mentions both Cal’s Office Supply and practical jokes. One of his most irritating practical jokes involved snapshots. In the sixties it took at least a week, sometimes months to use up a roll of film and have it processed at the local drug store (White’s) or photography studio (King’s). By the time you got the pictures, you realized that in just about every picture of Gene he had managed to sneak in a quick finger.
Jim loved to camp. In style. No tents for him, he wanted a camper. He was an Airstream fan, but without the cash to buy a real one. He had a tiny, two-wheeled outfit that barely fit two people with gear. The back side had a hatchback that opened into a galley that would have been big on a boat or airplane. Given his history of Navy and Air Force, that was appropriate. We had a lot of fun in that little camper, even if it did rain just about every weekend we were out. It towed nicely behind his 1952 Cadillac coupé.
The second half of the letter describes his experience with the Air Force Reserve.
Between the above dates occurred events that I will always remember: Leaving Sears employment … a do nothing summer off … the Air Force Reserve … joining the staff of Cal’s office Supply as a salesman … my friendship with Gene Kurtz and Cal’s repairman … and in the latter days of 1963 meeting Guy William Havelick, founder and co-editor of the “Analyst” … a prestigious publication of scientific and intellectual depth! Purchasing the black 1952 Cadillac coupe DeVille from Lake Motors in Devils Lake … (traded in 1960 Opel Rekord 2 door sedan) … friendship with Guy was growing … during the year of 1964 we shared many activities … Guy was learning to drive and many Saturday and Sundays were spent driving to Valley City, Binford, Kathryn, Spiritwood, and the surrounding areas … Sundays … making breakfast for us at 406 1st Ave north then Guy off to church … evenings listening to “Herman’s Hermits” and eating popcorn!
This was also the year that we made many camping trips in the little, leaky, two wheel trailer … the winter we cut, measured the custom built canopy for the trailer and used once at Lake Meticoshe during one of the frequent rain squalls we endured … “the clouds were always breaking up” or so we hoped!
Guy and I driving to Bisbee to spend the weekend at the farm with my folks … May ’65 Guy passed his driving test! That same month Grace, Norrie, and I celebrated Guy’s confirmation with dinner at the Palace Cafe! Weekend duty with the AF Reserve in Jamestown … two weeks active duty at Grand Forks Air Force Base … being promoted to Staff Sargent … a weekend of duty with a stay at the Gardner with Guy and Jim Remboldt … March ’65 leaving Cal’s employment and joining the staff at the State Employment Service (now Job Service) as an interviewer. Also in 1965 the entire AFRES squadron flew to Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City for two weeks of active duty.
The Minnesota Air Nat’l Guard provided the transportation … an antiquated C-119 cargo plane … This was a vintage WWII all purpose transport with twin engines mounted on a high wing with two huge booms extending aft to form the tail and rudder section … this is the best I can describe it … all our cargo was loaded thru two huge clamshell like doors in the rear of the plane … all this was strapped down in the huge cargo bay area. During WWII these planes were the workhorses of the military … and as I recall there flying safety record wasn’t all that impressive … therefore when it landed at Jamestown I was somewhat apprehensive about flying in it … luckily I had little or no choice!
After the cargo was loaded we were directed to canvas seats along the outer walls secured with webbing and beneath each seat was a parachute! It seemed so me we were given excessive instructions in its use in the event of an emergency … this didn’t do anything to inspire confidence in the forthcoming flight. One more memorable aspect of that flight to Ellsworth … when one had to relieve oneself you made your way to the rear of the aircraft and next to the huge clamshell doors was a tube, naturally in full view of all …
There was a lot of turbulence and the plane was constantly bucking and yawing in all directions … keeping your balance was tricky … the thing that really petrified me and shut my bladder off completely was that the huge doors didn’t fit together and they were constantly shifting up and down and side ways like two huge blades of knife! It was a wasted trip to the tube!
One thing I remember: it afforded a breathtaking view of the sky and the good earth some 11,000 feet below! However the trip was made without incident … but I am confident that everyone, including the pilots, heaved a great sigh of relief when we hit the runways!
I enjoyed the two weeks duty at any active duty base, taking part of the activities of the flight line and facilities … during time off we made forays into Rapid City and time at the Black Hills to enjoy the many attractions.
This was to be the final deployment for our unit but more about that later.